Tuesday, 25 January 2011

William James Darby 1857-1903 and Elizabeth Read 1854-1921

William Henry Darby's parents were William James Darby and Elizabeth Read.

William James Darby was born on 5 February 1857, at Adelaide Street, Aston, Warwickshire. His parents were Henry Darby, a saw maker, and his wife Ellen Haywood - William was their last child. William grew up in Aston, and eventually began working at his father's saw-making workshop in Freeman Street, Birmingham.

Elizabeth Read was born in Grosvenor Street, Birmingham on 11 January 1854, one of the younger daughters of iron-plate worker Silvester Read and his wife Isabella Child. Isabella died in 1857, and Silvester remarried a couple of years later. His new wife (Ann Terry) was the daughter in law of Catherine Allen, who ran a pub on Freeman Street. Following their marriage, Silvester and Ann moved in with Catherine and helped her to run the pub, eventually taking over the Fox and Grapes and running it themselves. Ann continued to run the pub until her death in 1897.

William and Elizabeth married on 28 August 1877, barely 4 months before their first child was born. They lived initially in Aston, then in other suburbs of Birmingham, while William worked as a saw-maker, presumably in his father's workshop. The family spent a year or two in London (during which time daughter Mary Louise was born) before returning to Birmingham.

William died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 26 August 1903 at the age of only 46, and was buried at Witton Cemetery, Birmingham. Over the next few years, as the children reached adulthood, some of them chose to emigrate away from the poverty they had grown up with in Birmingham, in the hopes of a better life in Canada or the US. Elizabeth saw three of her sons leave to fight in World War One; only two returned. Elizabeth died on 14 December 1921, at the age of 67. She was buried with her husband in Witton Cemetery.

The couple's children were:

William Henry Darby 1877-1917
Ellen Isabella Darby 1879-?? (emigrated to Manitoba, Canada)
Charles Silvester Darby 1881-1964 (emigrated to Manitoba, but died on a return visit to the UK)
Elizabeth Sarah Darby 1883-1962
Kate Lillian Darby 1885-1953
Elsie May Darby 1887-1968
Mary Louise Darby 1889-1971
Frederick Albert Darby 1891-1969
Annie Hilda Darby 1893-1959
Sidney James Darby 1895-1971
Alice Victoria Darby 1897-?? (emigrated to Canada following her mother's death)


  1. Hallo Rebecca, I find your blog very interesting especially as you mention Reads!! My ears always prick up at the name Read as it is my family name and my blog is mainly about Read ancestors.

    My ears prick up even more when I see the names Darby/Read together. Way, way, waaaaaaay back I have Samuel Darby who married Martha Read in Oxfordshire and then they disappear.

    I have some ancestors in Warwickshire so it just makes me wonder ... ;-)

    Kind regards,

    Christine (rootsresearcher)

  2. You do a very nice job telling the family stories. Thank you for sharing.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)