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genealogy of the Bird and Musgrove families
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William John MUSGROVE (1860 to 1901)

William MUSGROVE was my great grandfather on my birth family side of the tree. He lead a hard life, working on the newly expanding railway, living in slum conditions with his large family. This is my research into his life and the times he lived in.

William was born in 1860. He was just 6 months old on the 1861 census living as a single child with his parents at 29 Upper Carlisle Street, Marylebone (next door to his mothers parents living at 27 Upper Carlisle Street). This street didn’t exist on the 1871 census and I haven’t been able to determine whereabouts it was.

By the time of the 1871 census he was living with his parents and now three siblings at 19 Cirencester Street, Paddington. During this time, or shortly after, there was a “rapid social decline in streets further north between the railway and the canal” of the rather more prosperous Westbourne Grove area of Notting Hill. By 1894-95 his street was among the eleven most overcrowded streets in the parish. There is still a Cirencester Street directly off the Harrow Road in exactly the same area as described by Charles Booth in his survey of London.

William was employed in various positions on the new railways, specifically at Paddington by Great Western Railways (GWR). He was described at various times as being a cleaner, a porter, a general labourer, an engine boiler washer and an engineer. Having looked at the staff records held at the National Archives in Kew, I found him working for GWR from 8th March 1879. He was shown as a cleaner at Paddington Station earning 2 shillings and sixpence per week (£60 per week in today’s terms based on wage inflation index) and getting a pay increase almost exactly 4 years later. The photo is of the last broad gauge train to leave Paddington on 20th May 1892 at 10.15 a.m. Continuously for the next 2 days 170 miles of GWR track was altered to the new standard 4 foot 8.5 inch gauge. Was William perhaps one of the workers watching on as the train puffed and chugged out of the station ?

By the time of the 1881 census he had left the family home, by then 2 Edinburgh Road, and was lodging with the Partridge Family at 21 Edenham Street in Kensington .

William married Hannah Elizabeth WILD on 19th April 1885 at Christ Church in Notting Hill, Kensington – their marriage certificate shows that they had been living next door to each other at 36 and 38 Treverton Street, Kensington. William’s 15 year old sister, Louisa, was a witness at the wedding but neither of his parents were (is this significant ?). William was 23 years old but Hannah was just 18. She was very pregnant and they had a son, another William, on 13th May 1885, just three weeks after they married. They went on to have a total of 7 sons and just 1 daughter between 1885 and 1900.

By 1891 the entire MUSGROVE family (including Williams wife, his 3 children and mother in law) had moved to 27 Southam Street, Kensington. See photo from English Heritage 1889 on the right. They were on one floor of the three floor property, living in just 3 rooms. Very cramped conditions to say the least. Click here to read more about the Southam Street property which I have ascertained from going through the census'. Click here for a good map of Southam Street and the surrounding area.

In 1901 William and 9 other members of his family were still living in the same 3 rooms at Southam Street (including a kitchen). Sadly, William died aged just 41 on 24th November 1901 of acute bronchitis just over a year after the birth of his youngest son, John William Musgrove (my grandfather) who was born on 5th August 1900. You can read Hannah’s story by clicking here.

On William’s son Jack’s marriage certificate, a long time after his death, it describes William as a “Locomotive Engine Driver” but this appears to have been fanciful. Jack was only 15 months old when his father died so maybe he was brought up to believe that was what his father did ?

However, and I need to follow this up, T's mother Caroline (William's sister) told her that he was "very proud of his achievements as he started with GWR as a porter and eventually became a steam engine driver, a very sought after position". Just 6 months before his death, William had described himself on the 1901 census as an "engine boiler washer railway", so an engine driver is most unlikely, other than perhaps moving the train from one siding to another for maintenance.


read about the early MUSGROVE’s

read about their children

return to MUSGROVE index

Linked toWilliam John Musgrove; Hannah Elizabeth Wild

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