The Strange Metamorphosis of William Grainger

The re-structured family of William COLLEY and Elizabeth WHITING (“Beeford Elizabeth”) currently shows the couple with just three children. There is an eight-year gap between George and Maria so there may have been more.

COLLEYmaria_FSTss_20200105

The three children reached adulthood. Ann married blacksmith William BLENKIN(G), George had at least ten children with Jane WALLIS/WALLACE, and Maria married William GRAINGER. Some handwritten sources show his name spelt “Granger” with an insertion mark and the “i” above as if he’d noticed the mistake and demanded a correction. He is a man of mystery, to me at least.

Family lore says he was a schoolmaster and the church marriage register supports this.

1842_ColleyGrainger_marr

Born in 1821, the son of Francis, he is “impannelled” on the Grand Jury at the General Quarter Sessions for the Eastern Division of Yorkshire, held in the Spring of 1844, as “Mr William Grainger, of Beverley, Schoolmaster”. His first child, Anne Elizabeth, was then about six months old.

The births of three more children were registered to a Grainger/Colley duo; Maria (1845), William Henry (1847) and Ellen (1849). I haven’t found any baptism sources that give the father’s occupation.

The census enumerator finds the family incomplete in 1851 at Albert Terrace, Beverley. The two older children are with their parents but William Henry is with his Aunt, Ann Blenking, in Bridlington and Ellen eluded my search. Father William’s occupation is given as “Butler and Proprietor of Houses”. It is a surprising career change, but even more startling is that he has aged terribly. Maria’s given age is 28 and William’s 44. His birthplace is given as Warter. Subsequent censuses agree with the revised birth year of 1807 but give his place of birth as “Holm(e)” or Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, a village about twelve miles from Warter. Searches for a William Grainger of this age and place of origin suggest his father was William and not Francis as stated in the marriage register.

I tried but failed to find a convincing 1841 census record for William Graingers aged around 34 or twenty.

Maria dies in 1852, aged 30, and is buried in Beverley. William the Butler marries Mary SMALLEY, a 40-year-old Lincolnshire woman in 1859. At the census in 1861, Mary is at home with her “daughter” Helen, aged 11. The girl’s name is not a mangling by the enumerator. She will be Helen, rather than Ellen, to the end of her days. On this census night, William is with his employer, Mary HARVEY, 68.

Ten years later the Grainger household in St Mary’s Terrace, Beverley, comprises father William, stepmother Mary, daughter Helen and 54-year-old boarder, Elizabeth TURNER. (Elizabeth will stay with the family until 1881, at least).

Helen is one of several children over ten baptised in April 1866 at the church of St Mary and St Nicholas in Beverley, though her entry has “Xtened only” by it.

1866_GRAINGERhelen_chris

Death came to the Graingers in threes in the early 1880s. William departed in September 1882; Anne Elizabeth, his first child, died just a couple of weeks later (in Derbyshire as Mrs Bradshaw). William’s second wife, Mary, followed in the first quarter of 1883.

Helen lived on at St Mary’s Terrace and married from there in 1890. She was forty, her husband a 56-year-old widower, Robert Smith PARNELL.

William’s age at death is given as 75, consistent with all but the one record saying he was born in or about 1807. As most readily available sources make sense of his life-journey, the real mystery man is the young schoolmaster he may never have been.

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