Wood Family History

Joseph Wood


Where Lived

His Story

Joseph WoodJoseph Wood is the father of George Stanley Wood, and grandfather of Eddie, Dot, Les, Betty, Barbara, John and Margaret.

Joseph’s father John was born in Leeds, Yorkshire and worked for the railway as a plate layer. A plate layer was employed on laying or maintaining the railway itself. These men usually worked in a gang and carried out any work necessary on the tracks. His mother Alice (nee Ryan), was born in Fulham, Middlesex which is now within the city of London, and is rumoured to at one time have worked as a maid in Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria. It was Alice’s second marriage, the first was to a man named Lambeth. Early on the family lived in Richmond, Surrey, which is only 13 km from the centre of London, close to where Heathrow airport is now. It is in Richmond that the first four of their children were born. Joseph was the second born, on the 30th of December 1863, and baptised the following month in St Mary Magdalene Church. Joseph had five sisters: Alice Jane, Mary Jane, Eliza Mary, Jane and Maria. His parents must have liked the names Mary and Jane!

In the 1871 English census, Joseph was aged seven and living in Richmond with his parents and sisters. At some time between 1871 and 1876 the family moved to the county of his father’s birthplace, Yorkshire, with Joseph’s youngest sister Maria being born in Idle, Yorkshire in about 1876.

In the 1881 census of England, when Joseph was 17 years old, the family was living in the village of Baildon in Yorkshire. Baildon is perched on a hillside overlooking Shipley at a wide bend in the Aire Valley, just to the north of the City of Bradford. At this time Joseph was working as a Worsted Weaver, with four of his sisters also working in this industry as either Worsted Weavers or Spinners. Worsted yarn, spun from long, fine staple wool, has a lightweight and coarse texture. The essential feature of a worsted yarn is straightness of fibre, with the fibres parallel to each other. In the late 19th century, following the industrial revolution, the Bradford area was well known around the world for its Worsted and other cloths, and the mills producing this cloth would have been responsible for the town being a grim and sooty place for the working class.

In 1891, at age 27, Joseph was still living at home with his parents in Baildon. He had now moved up to working in the mills as a Plush Weaver. Plush is a textile having a pile similar to velvet, but with a longer and less dense pile and would have been made from worsted yarn.

On 16 April 1894, at age 29, Joseph married Mary Elizabeth Clarke in St Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Shipley. Mary was born in Warwickshire, though she was living in Saltaire at the time of their marriage. Joseph was a strong Catholic, Mary a staunch Baptist, but both were dedicated to bringing up the children under the Catholic religion. They had three children, John born in 1894, George Stanley born in 1898 and Albert Edward born in 1901. Interestingly for that time, records show that their first born, John, was born several months before they were married. Albert, who was known by his middle name Edward, died at age seven.

In 1899 the family moved from Saltaire, where George Stanley was born the previous year, to the nearby village of Shipley. In the 1901 English census of Shipley, as well as on his marriage certificate, Joseph is listed as a postman. Joseph worked as the local postman for 20 years. In those days the postman used to work according to what time the trains came in. Each morning Joseph would be there to meet the train to collect the mail, which would then be taken to the post office and sorted, followed by the day’s deliveries. There were two mail deliveries per day. He would be home to make his children’s lunch each day, back to work until about four o’clock, then coming home to meet his children who had returned from school. His hours were very convenient as his wife Mary was working long hours each day at the mill.

Joseph died of jaw cancer aged 54 on the 9th of January 1919 in Shipley, and was buried in Nab Wood Cemetery in the same grave as his son Edward. In 1923, a few years after her husband’s death, Mary emigrated to Australia, where she died at age 84 on the 28th of March 1952. She is buried in the Preston Cemetery on Plenty Rd, Reservoir Victoria.

Written by Rob Wood, with the information coming from English census data, marriage certificates, Eddie’s oral recording of George Stanley Wood, a story about George written by Bernadette Camish, and various internet sources for information about the time and places they lived.