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John Ward Girdlestone

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Engineer, Bristol Docks, Bristol.


The information below has been kindly contributed by researcher Richard Williams and Christine Buckley

He was the eighth of the nine children of the Revd Charles Girdlestone, who had been vicar of Sedgley in Staffordshire between 1826 and 1837. Charles did spectacularly well at Oxford, was a Fellow of Balliol, and married Ann Elizabeth, daughter of the Solicitor to the University, Baker Morrell. (The Morrell family had gained considerable wealth through brewing interests in Oxford, and a page of British History Online also mentions a connection to the later Lady Ottoline Morrell.)

John Ward Girdlestone was born at Alderley in Cheshire, where Charles was Rector, in the last quarter of 1840. He was named after John William Ward, 4th Viscount Dudley and Ward (later created Earl of Dudley) who appointed Charles to Sedgley.

His father, Charles spent part of 1845 and 1846 in Italy and other parts of Europe for his health. It's assumed John would've gone with him. A later Ward cousin, also Lord Dudley, presented Charles to the living at Kingswinford in 1847.

At least three of John's brothers became clergymen. (The most distinguished was Robert Baker Girdlestone, who became Editorial Superintendent of the British and Foreign Bible Society.) Stipendiary curates were at Kingswinford from the date of Charles's appointment there.

1851 John Ward G was at Rossall School in Fleetwood, Lancs, aged 10, in 1851.

1861 He was lodging at 71 Church Street, Birkenhead, already describing himself as 'civil engineer', aged 20.

John Ward Girdlestone married Ellen Anne Orton in Blaby RD, Sept 1865, no doubt something to do with his employment on the Leics Railway.

Henry John Girdlestone, his cousin, was in partnership with John from the 1860s in London. Henry John might have begun work on the South Staffs Railway at roughly the same time as Charles and his family arrived in Kingswinford. (Influence of the later Ward???) The Girdlestone family had a long connection with Kelling.

1871 In 1871, aged 30, 'civil engineer', he's at 7 Blenheim Road, St Marylebone, with his wife Ellen Anne, aged 27. They have two children, Mary (aged 4, b. Marylebone SepQ 1866) and Edith (aged 2, b. Marylebone DecQ 1868).

Ellen Anne was born in Narborough, a tiny place just west of Blaby, which itself is south of Leicester.

Charles continued as Rector until 1877, although census entries for 1861 and 1871 show him living at Holywell House in Weston-Super-Mare. I'd guess he employed curates to do the nitty gritty. Charles died in 1881 and his wife in 1882, just about the time when John Ward Girdlestone became Bristol Docks Engineer, but he might have moved down there at an earlier date.

1881 John was at 15 Alexandra Road, Clifton (by Bristol), aged 40, civil engineer. In addition to his daughters, by now he also had sons: Charles Lionel (aged 7, b. Marylebone JunQ 1873) and Harold Edward (aged 6, b. Marylebone MarQ 1875). This says that they were in London at least until 1875, but shows that they were already in the Bristol area around a year before he was appointed Docks Engineer.

1891 Perhaps temporarily abroad.

By 1901, he was already a retired civil engineer, aged 60, living at Hendra's Hotel in the Uny Lelant area of Carbis Bay, just outside St Ives, Cornwall. He seems to be in a part of the hotel separated off from the main. He was just with his wife.

1911 John and Ellen are at The Nest, Carbis Bay in the Uny Lelant district. Their four children are all living and they've been married for 45 years. The house has seven rooms and they have one domestic servant living in. John died on 10 October 1911 at that address. Probate was granted on 14 November 1911; his estate amounted to £531 2s 10d.



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