Subject Name : William Garrett (b ca1814 – d 1887)
Researchers : Mike Brock and Carol Thompson
William Garrett was born in the Parish Workhouse of Godalming, probably in early 1814, the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Garrett (1, 2). He was baptised at Godalming’s St Peter and St Paul Church on 27th February but that is where facts about William’s early life come to an end. It is not known who Elizabeth or his father were.
The next record found for William is the 1841 Census, noted as a 25-year-old agricultural labourer living in Wonersh, a short distance south of Guildford (3). He was sharing a property with three other agricultural labourers of a similar age, so it would seem probable that they were working together on a local farm.
By the time of the 1851 Census, 37-year-old William, still a bachelor, was working as a skinner’s labourer at a leather mill (4). He was lodging with four other tannery workers in Shamley Green alongside the Upper Lostiford Mill which was where raw leather was processed and made into high-quality chamois leather goods, including gloves (5). This small industry continued here until the end of the 19th Century.
Ten years later, William was not at the Mill nor in Shamley Green. In fact, he has not been traced at all in the 1861 Census. A clue as to where he may have been comes the following year in 1862 when William was imprisoned in Wandsworth Gaol on 14th July for 21 days for ‘absconding from a workhouse with clothes belonging thereto’ (6). That workhouse was the Guildford Union, so it is possible that William had been there at the time of the 1861 Census. Unfortunately, 192 inmates’ records from that Census are missing so William’s location in 1861 will probably remain as guesswork (7).
William’s prison record gave a full description of him, saying he was age 48, 5’3” (1.60m) tall, weighed 8st 11lb (55.8kg) with brown hair and a fresh complexion. He had ‘lost’ his right eye, but how this had happened is not known.
There are no existing admission and departure records for the Guildford Union Workhouse, but the Guildford Poor Law Union Accounts from 1864-71 have survived (8). They show that William, now in his early fifties, was spending much of his time in that Workhouse.
He was still prone to cause trouble there, as on 9th January 1869, William was imprisoned for destroying clothes in the Workhouse. This time, his sentence was more lenient as he only served seven days in Wandsworth Gaol (9).
Little seemed to have changed by the time of the 1871 Census, with William being a 57-year-old inmate in the Guildford Union. It said that he was a ’labourer in a tan yard’ and was a widower, although no marriage record has been traced (10).
No further record for William has been found until the 1881 Census. Now 66, he was still in the Guildford Union, and again described as a widower and a ‘tan yard labourer’ (11).
William passed away there six years later on 20th November 1887, age 73. He was noted as a ‘labourer of Godalming’ and had died from ‘decay of age’ (12). His burial took place three days later at the Nightingale Cemetery, Godalming (13).
- William Garrett 27 February 1814 Surrey Church of England Parish Baptism Registers, Godalming, St Peter & St Paul, 1813-1833, Ref GOD/4/1, page 13. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey England / Ancestry.co.uk
- Sketch of the Godalming Workhouse in 1841 From a report to the “The National Society” GodalmingMuseum.org.uk
National Society for Promoting Religious Education, National Society for promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England and Wales. en.Wikipedia.org
- Richard, Amelia, George, Henry Edwards, William Garrett 1841 England Census return for Wonersh, Hambledon, Surrey, Class HO107; Piece 1045; Folio 27; p16. co.uk
- William Garrett 1851 England Census return for Wonersh, Hambledon, Surrey, Class HO107; Piece 1597; Folio 411; p2. Ancestry.co.uk
- Shamley Green, A History of the Village Published 1993 by Shamley Green History Society, page 20. SGmatters.org.uk
- William Garrett 14 July 1862 Metropolitan Police; Criminal Record Office; Habitual Criminals Register and Miscellaneous Papers; Wandsworth Prison, Surrey; Register of Prisoners 1862; Ref PCOM 2. Ancestry.co.uk
- 1861 England Census Returns RG9; Registration sub-district 4; Parish Stoke-next-Guildford; Missing pages: Guildford Union Workhouse 5-12 (end) 191 persons. National.Archives.gov.uk
- William Garrett, Godalming Parish Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey. Guildford Poor Law Half Yearly Accounts, 1864-1871, BG6/33/1. Surreycc.gov.uk
- William Garrett 9 January 1869 Metropolitan Police; Criminal Record Office; Habitual Criminals Register and Miscellaneous Papers; Wandsworth Prison, Surrey; Register of Prisoners 1868-1869; Ref PCOM 2. Ancestry.co.uk
- William Garrett 1871 England Census return for Guildford Union Workhouse, Stoke Next Guildford, Surrey, Class RG10; Piece 813; Folio 78; p2. Ancestry.co.uk
- William Garrett 1881 England Census return for Guildford Union Workhouse, Stoke Next Guildford, Class RG11; Piece 778; Folio 90; p2. Ancestry.co.uk
- William Garratt 20 November 1887 England and Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837- 1915; 1887 Oct-Nov-Dec Quarter; Guildford; vol 2a; p50. Ancestry.co.uk
Copy of original available from General Register Office Gro.gov.uk
- William Garratt 23 November 1887 Burial, Nightingale Cemetery record book N3/2711, page 34. Godalming-tc.gov.uk/burial-records