Williscroft & Woolliscroft

Worldwide One-Name Study


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Mary Williscroft 1796-1864 of Ireland and England

Life Story

On the 7 January 1852 Mary Abernethy married James Coop at Manchester Cathedral. Mary was a widow and her maiden name was Williscroft. She was the daughter of George Williscroft a reedmaker. In 1861 Mary was working as a servant for Capper family at 8 Oldham Road. Her status was given as a widow. I think that James died in 1857 in Manchester. Mary most likely died in 1864. There did not appear to have been any children from this marriage. The English census returns gave her place of birth as Ireland about 1796.

This was very exciting news for me. The William Williscraft living in Portadown in 1820 was also a reedmaker. (I think that in this instance the term ’reedmaker’ means they made weaving reeds which are a comb-like device for 'beating' the weft thread into place as it is passed by the shuttle.) If George and William had the same occupation then it suggested to me that there may be a family connection. I estimate that George was born about 1770. If this connection is correct then it is possible that Alexander b.1787 and Jane b.1792 are also George’ children as they were born about the same time. Elizabeth Williscroft (1812-1877) also gives her fathers name as George. I think that George is very likely the brother of William Williscraft. So far this is just a theory as I haven’t found any supporting evidence in Ireland.

After finding out that Mary was a 'Williscroft' I decided to try and find out more about her earlier life. On the 1851 census she was a married woman, living at the home of John & Elizabeth Benson at 93 Portugal Street, Manchester. She was a street hawker. I have not been able to find out if Mary was related to either John or Elizabeth but another branch of the Irish Williscroft's has 'Benson' as a first name. John and Elizabeth were also from Ireland.

I had thought that Mary's first husband was Henry Abernathy but I know know this to be incorrect. The Irish Marriage Bond records show that Mary married Samuel Abernathy in Armagh, Ireland in 1836.  I have been unable to find out any other information on the couple. However, it  is possible that Samuel was in the army at the time. If so he possibly enlisted in the 35th Regiment of infantry, regiment in December 1831 at Newry, County Down. The records show he served 10 years in Mauritius with his regiment and was discharged in 1853 in England. He said he planned to settle in Ireland at his discharge. 

Owner/SourceJill Dixon
Date5 Jan 2018
Linked toMary Williscroft (Name)

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