As we have seen, the children of
William and Martha gradually moved from Beoley to Redditch.
Eldest son William, a papermaker like his father, married
Mary Bate and they settled in Redditch soon after their marriage
- according to Dr Taylor's List of Women Delivered their
first child, Martha, was born in Redditch in 1791. Second son
Edward (likewise, a papermaker) married Mary (Hubbard?)
and their first child was born in Redditch in 1798, though subsequent
children were born and christened at Beoley. When Edward was
buried at Beoley he was noted as being from the adjoining parish
of Ipsley (which covered some parts of Redditch). Joseph
the sailor had moved away from the area altogether; James
(whose second wife was Rachel Harder) apparently stayed in Beoley,
and we know nothing of sister Martha. The youngest child
of William and Martha, Charles, was christened at St Stephen's
in Redditch in 1778, and lived in Redditch until his death in
Chapter 4 summarised the careers of the sons of Edward and Mary who moved to Birmingham, but we now track the founder of the firm of Webb and Sons, that is William the fish hook maker. There is no record of him from the time of his christening in 1806 until the record of the baptism of his daughter at the Congregational Church in Evesham Street. (Ref 1) gives details of this and other references, and of the history of the church. see Family Tree C.
It may be that after the deaths of his wife and daughter William left Redditch to visit his brothers in Birmingham, for the next year (with indecent haste, by modern etiquette) he married again. His second marriage, to Susannah Gardner, took place at St Philips in Birmingham, (which became the cathedral church of Birmingham) where they both had claimed to be "of this parish".
On later censuses we find that
Susannah was born in Solihull, but perhaps this was Solihull
Lodge, where several Redditch needlemakers were employed from
the late 1830s onwards. Possibly there is a connection which
has yet to be followed up.
One of the earliest references
to William is in Bentley's Directory of 1840, which lists him
as a beer seller and fish hook maker ; by 1850 he is listed as
"William Webb, bakers and flour dealers" yet
in the census of the following year he describes himself only
as a fish hook maker! A few years later (Billings Directory 1855)
he is a fish hook maker and shop keeper : at the marriage of
his daughter Ellen in 1858 he gives his occupation as "fish
hook maker" and in Billings 1860 edition a baker and fish
Son William joined his father
in business from an early age, (unlike his brother Thomas Edward,
who started his working life as a clerk for Abel Morrall, one
of the needle companies). William junior is noted separately
in Littleburys Directory of 1873 as being a "wine agent",
but his main occupation was as a partner to his father in "William
Webb and Son, bakers and confectioners" of Evesham Street.
William and Susannah had two daughters
- Ellen Emily, the eldest child of the family, left home
to become a milliner's assistant in Warwick, and in the census
of 1851 she is at the establishment of one Decima Walker, in
the Cornmarket, Warwick.
Second daughter of William and Susannah, Emma Jane, was born in 1835, and became a dressmaker. She remained single until the age of 36, when she married James Cranmore at the Wesleyan chapel in Redditch (1871). James was a widower, his wife Letitia having died in 1856, possibly in childbirth. James was the brother of Moses Cranmore, of the popular ironmongers and drapers at numbers 2-6 Evesham Street. James was a needlemaker at the time of his first marriage, but then became a warehouseman for the family business. (Ref 3) contains further details of Emma and James.
William, second son of William and Susannah was born in 1841 and, as we have seen, became a partner in the bakery firm Webb and Son, which at the time of his father's death was known as Woodman and Webb. In 1880 William married Sarah Hollington, the cousin of Frederick Hollington. (Ref 4) gives details of their marriage. The year 1887 is so significant for the family, that it merits a chapter of its own (Chapter 9), so we return to the eldest son of William and Susannah, great grandfather of the author of this history, Thomas Edward. See Family Tree I.
Thomas Edward was born in the year of Victoria's accession to the throne, and of the start of civil registration for England and Wales, that is 1837. He lived with the family at Evesham Street certainly until 1871, and probably until 1873, the year of his marriage. He did not, at this stage, become part of the family business, but was a "clerk" and then "agent" for Abel Morrall, the needle company. He married Catharine Cheer, the daughter of John Cheer, a farm bailiff, who, according to a later relative, was "a bit of a rolling stone gathering mostly daughters". (Ref 5) gives an account of the Cheer family. John Cheer showed some acumen in coping with the marriages of his daughters, losing three of them at the altar on the same day! They were married at the parish church of Great Marlow on April 22nd, 1873 (Ref 6) gives an account of a Victorian Triple Marriage.
Catharine Cheer was what we would
call a feisty young woman. She was good with horses and children
(very fortunately, as it turned out) and though of diminutive
stature was strong in body and determination, and lived until
1948. Like her mother before her, she had to cope with moving
house with an ever-increasing young family until finally settling
Their second son, Edgar Bertie, was born in Stoke Newington in 1878, (but christened at Little Waltham in Essex, the home church of his grandfather Cheer). (Ref 8) outlines the births and deaths of some of their other children while they were living in Stoke Newington.
By 1887 Thomas and Catharine had moved to Aldershot, near Thomas' brother-in-law John Hickley, as in the electoral register for Redditch of that year, Thomas is shown as owning land in Redditch, but being resident in Station Road, Aldershot. He may have given up the trade in needles to take up in business with Hickley, and perhaps Catharine needed the support of her sister-in-law Ellen Hickley after the death of Harvey, and with another new baby in the family. These plans were all changed following the startling events of 1887 described in Chapter 9, and Thomas, Catharine and family moved back home to Redditch.
At the time of the move back to Redditch in 1887 / 8 Catharine had 4 young children, had buried two, and was pregnant yet again. Gertie was just a baby of 15 months when another brother, Victor Gordon was born in Redditch in 1888 (but christened back at St Faiths, Stoke Newington). This suggests that the family was still not fully settled, and we can only marvel at the stamina of this petite woman, journeying so frequently with her young family.
They seem to be settled in Church Green by 1890, but they suffered a further bereavement when Mabel Elsie lived for only 12 days ; this was followed by another birth in 1891 (Wilfred Harold Leonard). Catharine's youngest was Nora, born in 1895. No doubt the 54-year old Thomas was as relieved as his wife that their family was finally complete!
Thomas had obviously benefited from his brother-in-law Hickley's business sense, and from gaining a broader view by having experienced life in London. When he returned to Redditch to take over the bakery firm he was able to develop and expand it, so that it became one of the best known establishments in the town. He and his wife Catharine endured the joys and heart-ache of a large family, with several tragic losses, yet he was evidently a stoic man who was well able to adapt to changing circumstances. In so many ways he typifies the enterprising nature of Victorian society.
must have been quite a formidable woman - apparently the Webbs
owned or rented fields round Easemore, and she threatened to
run an employee through with a pitchfork if he didn't call one
of her sons "master"! She was a widow for many years
as Thomas died in 1917, and she also lost her daughter Gertie
in 1919. She continued to be much involved in family life until
her death in 1948 at almost 96 years of age - she had a store
of wonderful memories, spanning the Victorian Era and two world
wars. Her obituary is a fitting tribute -
Catharine in the last years of her long life