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Other William Woodwards (1760s)

It has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that an Elizabeth Richards, born in Alcester in 1762, is a direct ancestor. In order to find out which William Woodward she married in 1789 it has been necessary to research all other possible Williams in the area. This approach is as much about eliminating other contenders as it is about actually proving who her husband was.

The average age at marriage in the 1700s was 28 years for men and 26 years for women, and most couples married within a radius of 15 miles from their place of birth. The average ages are quite high due to the large number of widowers or widows marrying again after the death of their first spouse. This means that marriages where the parties are younger and older must still be considered. It was common for a woman to marry in her home parish and usually couples had their first child baptised in the woman's home parish.

Based on the average age of marriage, the William who married Elizabeth Richards in 1789 would have been born sometime about 1762/3. Using baptism records, there are over 20 William Woodwards in the parish records who could have married Elizabeth Richards in Alcester in 1789, but only eight that fit the parameters mentioned above. These have been researched extensively and details are set out below (the William born in 1760 in Alcester is covered on his own page). Some are older than the average, but their close proximity to Alcester cannot be ignored. They are listed in date order, not any order of merit.

Name Date of baptism Place Father Mother
4 January 1750
Morton Bagot
Paul Woodward
William 15 June 1750 Bidford on Avon John Woodward Eleanor
27 December 1752
Chipping Campden
Thomas Woodward
William 29 March 1753 Old Swinford John Woodward Mary
23 September 1759
Morton Bagot
Richard Woodward
William 28 January 1760 Stratford on Avon Joseph Woodward ?
William 9 December 1764 Stratford on Avon Thomas Woodward Hannah

In order to find out which William married Elizabeth Richards, each possible William Woodward has been researched in detail. The results of the research are set out below.

1750 William Woodward from Morton Bagot

This William, baptised in 1750 at Morton Bagot, Warwickshire, would have been 39 years old at the time of Elizabeth Richards' wedding in 1789. This is much older than the average age for a first-time marriage but he is a candidate because of his location rather than his age - he lived at Studley, 4 miles from Alcester. His age is more akin to that of a widower marrying again, but when Elizabeth Richards married in 1789 the parish records show that her bridegroom was a bachelor.

Research points to this William as having married Sarah Smith on 1 December 1776 at Studley, 3 miles west of Morton Bagot where he was born. Studley was Sarah Smith's home village and she was baptised there on 11 February 1750 the daughter of William Smith, a butcher, and Murial Smith.

Studley has significant links for this William - his grandmother married in Studley in 1722, and his great uncle lived in Studley in the 1720s where he had three children - he also died in Studley. Also, in 1774, William's twin brother, Robert, married Alice Rickman in Studley. All these events are good reasons why this William was Studley based, not Alcester based, as with Elizabeth Richards.

The Morton Bagot parish records show the baptism of a Mary Woodward on 6 April 1777, the daughter of William Woodward and Sarah, but there are no other children born to the couple after Mary. There is a death of a Sarah Woodward in Alcester on 27 July 1777. It is quite likely that Sarah died shortly after childbirth and this would explain why there are no more children born to this William and Sarah.

The UK Register of Duties Paid for Apprentice's Indentures, 1778, shows a William Woodward as a qualified apprentice to Paul Woodward, a butcher from Morton Baggott, Warwickshire. This is almost certainly William's father, as Paul is an uncommon name, especially in the Woodward family. This also fits with the fact that Sarah Smith's father was also a butcher in Studley, and may even have worked with Paul, which would explain how William Woodward and Sarah Smith met.

The parish records for Studley show a wedding on 21 June 1798 of a Mary Woodward to a John Green (a widower). One of the witnesses at the wedding was a William Woodward, most likely Mary's father.

The Land Tax Records 1790-1804 for Studley show a William Woodward living in Studley, the tenant of Richard Harris. William is living next door to a John Green. It's possible that William had a butcher's shop in Studley. He is also living next door to a William Woodbine, a property owner, who may be related to the Sophia Woodbine who married William's nephew, Joseph Woodward, in Alcester in 1801 after Joseph's first wife died.

The 1805 Land Tax Record shows William living in Studley next door to a Robert Woodward, almost certainly his twin brother who married in Studley, and next door to John Green. This date, 1805, shows that he was still alive a year after Elizabeth Woodward (nee Richards) married her second husband, William Phipps in 1804, after her first husband died. This confirms beyond any doubt that this 1750 William from Morton Bagot did not marry Elizabeth Richards. There is a record of a burial at Studley on 13 July 1827 of a William aged 79, a date and age that is well within tolerance to match William's baptism in 1750.

In summary, the 1805 Land Tax record confirms that this William did not marry Elizabeth Richards.

1750 William Woodward from Bidford on Avon

The William born in Bidford on Avon would have been aged 39 if he had married Elizabeth Richards in 1789, considerably older than the average, and again Elizabeth Richard's marriage record shows her husband to be a bachelor. There is no suitable marriage of this William in Bidford, but there is a possible marriage to Hannah Goode in Aston Cantlow in 1774. The parish record shows that one of the witnesses was a John Sale, and there is a John Sale born in Bidford about two months before William; perhaps he was his best man! William and Hannah Goode had a son, William, born in Aston Cantlow in December 1774, who died in 1775 and was buried at Aston Cantlow, There are no more children of this family baptised in Aston Cantlow or the surrounding villages after 1775 and the family's movements are unknown. If William went back to Bidford, he and Hannah did not have any more children there. So far their whereabouts after their son's death are unknown.

The marriage in Aston Cantlow could be the 1752 William from Chipping Campden, but could not be the 1759, 1760 or 1764 Williams. Without any Richards family links to Bidford and with the John Sale link, it seems highly likely that this William did not marry Elizabeth Richards.

1752 William Woodward from Chipping Campden

The William born in Chipping Campden in 1752 would have been at least 37 years old at the time of Elizabeth Richard's marriage in 1789. However there is no marriage of a William in Chipping Campden around the right time and no William having children in that parish. Other William marriages in Gloucestershire viewed on Ancestry do not show any logical links, such as family based witnesses etc.

Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire is 11 miles from Alcester, well within the 15 mile radius parameter mentioned above, and William's grandfather, great uncle and great grandfather formed a famous family of stone masons from Aston Sub Edge and Chipping Campden. They rebuilt, amongst other places, Quinton church in 1712, Alcester church in 1729/30 and Alscot House from 1750/64. Alscot is only three miles from Stratford, two miles from Quinton and seven miles from Chipping Campden. However, by the time the 1752 William was ready for marriage the stone masons business had closed after William's uncle, Edward Woodward, went bankrupt in 1777.

In 1766, William's grandfather, Edward, a master stone mason, died and left him £50 in his will to be paid when he reached the age of 21 years (1773). This was equivalent to more than five years salary for the average manual worker at the time, over £100,000 in today's terms, making him a relatively wealthy man. He was also in line to inherit property in Aston Sub Edge and Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire when his grandmother died. It seems unlikely therefore that he would choose to marry a woman from a relatively poor family in Alcester (Elizabeth Richards). So, who did he marry?

There is a William and Hannah family having children in Stratford from 1784-1809 but no wedding can be found for the couple. If this was the 1752 William from Chipping Campden he would have been 32 when he married, but he may have chosen to marry later in life, especially in view of his inheritance. However, instinct suggests that the William having children in Stratford with Hannah was either the 1760 William from Alcester (mentioned below), born to John and Hannah or the 1760 William from Stratford (see below). That leaves the 1752 Chipping Campden William free, but somehow I doubt he married in Alcester. If anything he would probably have migrated towards Worcester, Evesham or even Gloucester - perhaps? There is a marriage in 1777 of a William in Tewksbury, 4 miles south of Chipping Campden, to Hannah Atkins, but there is also a William born in Tewksbury in 1752 that could be that William.

In summary, I just don't know who this William married, if at all, but feel certain that it is unlikely that he married Elizabeth Richards in Alcester.

1753 William Woodward from Old Swinford

This William Woodward was born at Old Swinford, Worcestershire in 1753 to John and Mary Woodward. Old Swinford is now part of Stourbridge, Worcestershire, and is 20 miles north-west of Alcester, but it is where Elizabeth Richards' grandfather, Samuel Richards, married Sarah Dunn in 1724, and where their great uncle, John Richards married Ann Thompson in 1719.

Despite being an Alcester based family, Elizabeth Richards had grandparents who married in Old Swinford, a great uncle who married in Old Swinford, and a cousin living in Old Swinford who may have married Mary Ingram in Coughton, where James Woodward was born (the James who married Elizabeth's sister, Sarah Richards). This is too strong a link to be ignored. However, it does not answer the question of how, if at all, the William Woodward who married Elizabeth Richards was related to the Joseph Woodward who married Sarah Richards. Logic says that they were related, but how is anyone's guess at the moment!

Research shows that this 'Old Swinford' William (1753) was one of seven children born to a John and Mary family in Old Swinford from 1738-53. There is no William Woodward marriage in Old Swinford, but there is a marriage in 1784 in Halesowen, 4½ miles away, to an Ann Smith. That event would eliminate him as the husband of Elizabeth Richards, but the marriage record is not available on-line and therefore until the actual marriage record is viewed to see who the witnesses were he must remain a candidate to have married Elizabeth Richards, albeit an unlikely one.

1759 William Woodward from Morton Bagot

Realistically, this William could not have married Hannah Goode in Aston Cantlow in 1774 or Sarah Smith in Studley in 1776 mentioned above, as he would have only been 15 and 17 years old respectively. He could have married Elizabeth Richards in 1789 but the more likely option is that he married Elizabeth Biddle in Tanworth in 1785.

Elizabeth Biddle was baptised in Tanworth on 11 June 1763. She and her husband, William, stayed in Tanworth all their married lives. The key to which William it is lies in the witness at the wedding in 1785. One of the witnesses was Thomas Fitter and a Thomas Fitter was baptised in Tanworth in 1762 with another in Studley the same year. The Morton Bagot Woodwards had links with Studley, and Tanworth was Elizabeth Biddle's home. The 1760 William from Alcester had no such links, neither did Elizabeth Richards. Lastly, an Elizabeth Fitter married a Joseph Biddle in Coventry in 1811, and this links with the fact that one of William and Elizabeth Biddle's sons is shown on the 1851 census as living in Tanworth with a woman from Coventry.

According to the National Burial Index (NBI), a William Woodward died in Tanworth on 15 July 1822 aged 62, a near perfect match with the baptism year (1759) for this William. The NBI also shows the death of an Elizabeth Woodward on 17 April 1833, aged 69, again a good match with Elizabeth Biddle's baptism year.

On the balance of probability, this William (1759) did not marry Elizabeth Richards.

1760 William Woodward from Stratford on Avon

A recent trip to Warwick County Records Office (May 2015) revealed this William, born in Stratford on Avon on 28 January 1760 to Joseph Woodward. The baptism is not on the IGI or Ancestry records but is in the original parish record. This William could be the one who had children with Hannah in Stratford from 1784-1809, mentioned above.

There is very little to go on in respect of this William. His father's name in the parish record is Joseph Woodward, but his mother's name is not recorded. There is no obvious Joseph in the Stratford records, or nearby, and no suitable marriage. William could very well be the husband of Hannah, mentioned above, and could even have married Mary Hawtin in Stratford in 1790 (see below) although the 1764 William's links to Mote House, Dorsington makes him a better option. He could have married Elizabeth Richards in Alcester in 1789, but there is no evidence to show he had any links with her home town.

In essence, with a lack of any direct link to Alcester, it seems unlikely that he married Elizabeth Richards.

1764 William Woodward from Stratford on Avon

This William could have married Elizabeth Richards in Alcester in 1789. He was born in Stratford on Avon in 1764 to Thomas Woodward and Hannah Charlwood and no death of him as a child has been found. However, a marriage in Stratford in 1790 makes a relationship with Elizabeth Richards in Alcester seem unlikely.

The Parish Records for Stratford on Avon record the marriage of a William Woodward (bachelor) to a Mary Hawtin (spinster) on 14 December 1790. Both the bride and groom were recorded as, 'of this parish' (Stratford). The name Hawtin is interesting as William's aunt, Lydia Woodward, married a William Horton in 1773 in Stratford and the name Hawtin pops up in several related families, including the Richards in Alcester. There are several spelling variations in the registers - Hawtin, Horton, Howton, Houghton etc but Reaney & Wilson in their definitive book, 'A Dictionary of English Surnames' state that they are all the same name, merely written down in the different forms based on local pronunciation. Lydia Horton had two children, one of which married in Alcester in 1810 and Lydia's grandchildren were living in Alcester in 1841 (census records).

According to research on Ancestry, Mary Hawtin was born in 1770 in Stratford on Avon, which if correct makes the marriage to the 1764 William very plausible, especially with the Hawtin/Horton family link. The 1764 William from Stratford also had a brother John Woodward baptised in Quinton, but from Mote House, Dorsington. This suggests that his parents, Thomas and Hannah Woodward, were related in some way to the John and Hannah who had the 1760 William in Alcester and Betty Woodward in Quinton, as in 1762 they also lived at Mote House. Lastly, William and Mary Hawtin's daughter married a Joseph Godfrey in Henley in Arden in 1819 and one of their children was named John Horton Godfrey, which links back to his mother's maiden name.

All things considered, it seems that this William was entirely Stratford based and there is no reason to suggest that he married in Alcester. On that basis alone it seems safe to say that he did not marry Elizabeth Richards in 1789.


On the balance of probability, none of these Williams married Elizabeth Richards, a known ancestor.