Williscroft & Woolliscroft

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William Woolliscroft 1771-1841 of Leek, Staffordshire

Life Story

William Woolliscroft was baptised in Leek, Staffordshire in 1774, the son of Thomas and Eleanor (nee Smith) Woolliscroft. His father was the landlord of the Swan Inn in Leek at the time. By 1791 William had moved to Rotherham, Yorkshire where he was a draper. In 1796 the Land Tax Records show him as a tenant of Robert Wilson. His older brother Robert was also living in Rotherham where he was a mercer and draper.

On the 25 September 1797 William married Ann Kay at Scarborough, Yorkshire. William was 26 and Ann was 20 years his senior although she gives her age as '21' at her marriage. Ann was the oldest daughter of John and Margaret Kay of Rotherham born in 1751. Ann had inherited a share of her father's estate in Rotherham and she is mentioned as the property owner in the Land Tax Assesments between 1796 and her death in 1823. Ann's ancestry is detailed in her will which was proved at Rotherham in 1823.

William and his brother Robert had set up business together as Calico Printers in the early 1800's. Their company "R & W Woolliscroft" was located in the High Street, Manchester.  The business must have hit hard times as in the later part of 1806 they were declared Bankrupts. At the time only trader’s owing more than £100 (about £5,500 in today’s money) could be declared bankrupt in English law. By becoming Bankrupt the debts up to the Bankruptcy were discharged. The supervisor in bankruptcy would distributed funds raised as a dividend if there were sufficient funds. During the period of bankruptcy the bankrupt unable to manage their financial affairs.

William and Robert were still Bankrupts in 1814. A meeting for their creditors with their Assignee was called on the 16 September at the Star Inn in Manchester. This was to discuss the disposal of Robert and William’s assets. The announcement mentions William’s wife Ann in connection with ‘messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments’ in Yorkshire.The court had given the Assignee permission to use the income from Ann's property to off set William's debts.

I think it is possible that William and Ann were living apart by 1816. In 1816 William returned to Leek where he was awarded the Administration of his fathers estate on the 16 Nov at Lichfield. At the time he was living in St Margaret’s Parish, London and was described as Thomas’ ‘lawful and natural son’. The estate was valued at £450. I think that Robert and William's debt was considerable as they were still paying dividends to their creditors in Oct 1817.

William's wife Ann had left Rotherham by June 1817 and was living in Doncaster, Yorkshire when she wrote her will. Under English law Ann as a married woman was able to make a will if property or land was her's under a marriage settlement created before the marriage. She left a legacy to her cousin Margaret Pullen (nee Scammadine), widow of William Pullen, butcher of Rotherham.  In addition she left bequests to the poor of Rotheram, the Feoffee's or Trustees of the common lands of the Town of Rotherham and her servant. The remainder of her estate, including that held in Trust was left to her sister Sarah Booth, widow of William Booth, of Clyffe House. William did not received a legacy in the will and Sarah Booth was sole executrix.

Ann died at Doncaster on the 8 Feb 1823. She was buried at the Minster Rotherham on the 13 Feb in the grave of her niece Maria Booth. Probate was granted to Sarah Booth on the 16 July 1823.

Following Ann's death there are annual references to her property in the Land Tax Records for Rotherham between 1823 and 1832. The indexes at Ancestry.com give the name 'Mr Woolliscroft' but this is a transcription error and the original documents give the name 'Mrs Woolliscroft'. Sarah Booth left her share of the estate in Rotherham to her son Thomas Booth of Brushes Hall, Sheffield when she died in 1839.

What became of William? He was living in London when he was granted Administration of his father’s estate in 1816. I have not so far found another reference to William elsewhere. However, I think he most likely returned to Manchester where he died in the Workhouse in August 1841.

Owner/SourceJill Dixon
Date2 Jan 2018
Linked toWilliam Wooliscroft (Name)

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