William Henry Hall: The Drunk

The youngest child, William was born on 13 February 1842 in Batley, Yorkshire. His father was Jeremiah Hall and his mother was Harriet Hall. The couple married at Batley Parish Church on 8 September 1830 and had five children (including William) that survived infancy.

I do not want to dwell too much on William Henry’s childhood as my previous blog details it.

Find it here: https://genealogywithgeorge.com/2021/06/06/jeremiah-hall-the-forgotten-hall/

William married Eliza Ann Day, illegitimate daughter of Sarah Ann Day, at Batley Parish Church on 27 Jan 1866. The couple boarded with William’s mother, Harriet, from their marriage up until her death in 1877.

The only snapshot we have of this time is the 1871 Census. The Hall family was living on New Street in Batley (see map below) with Harriet Hall, a shopkeeper, recorded as the head of the household. William worked as a plucker and Eliza was the housekeeper.

Map of where the Halls lived in Batley

Two years after the death of his mother, which he was present at, William was charged and fined for being drunk and riotous. He is described as having no education, sandy hair and being five foot and a half. He worked as a card fettler. He remained in this occupation in 1881, and the family moved, not very far, to live at Spring Gardens, Batley.

He was back to court in 1884, where he was probably sent to prison for being drunk and riotous. The description remains the same but we get some get more details. He is described as a Wesleyan, he has freckled arms and a cut on his right eyebrow.

Maybe it was his traumatic childhood or the loss of his mother, who he seemed very close to, but William began to have troubles with alcohol. There was a story from his son Lewis which detailed the fact that his father made extra money selling shell fish in pubs to help fund his alcoholism.

His convictions died down for just over a decade. The family lived at 25 Beaumont Street in 1891 and William continued to work in the mills as a machine fettler.

Eliza and William had nine children in 18 years, with their first two children (a boy and a girl) dying as infants. Their youngest child was my Great Great Grandad Ernest James Hall, who was born on 11 Feb (my birthday!) 1885.

William got sent down again, in 1897, for being drunk and riotous and in 1900 for the same crime. By 1901, the family moves to 42 Cobden Street and William changes his occupation to a Willyer. According to my Grandad, this was an easier occupation compared to a Card Cleaner (or fettler) so this may show us that William was beginning to age.

In July 1904, William began to suffer from Cancer of the Thyroid. In a short two months, he died of the disease, aged 61 years, at Batley District Hospital on 24 September. His interment into plot 476 in section R at Batley Cemetery took place on 23 September 1904.

Plot 476 in section R at Batley Cemtery on 27 Dec 2020

William and his, ostensibly, undesirable story is one of my favourites. He wasn’t a perfect character at all but his story is very real; you can see the turning points in his life.

For those on Twitter, that is why the unmarked grave is so important to me.

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4 responses to “William Henry Hall: The Drunk”

  1. What a lovely story. Would love to find out what my family got up to well before I was born

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With a lot of time and patience it’s not impossible to research!


      1. Gillian Holden Avatar
        Gillian Holden

        Very interesting story my family lived in Cobden Street , I have a feeling that I have come across the Hall family I will check my paperwork


  2. […] Great Grandfather Ernest James Hall. He was born in 1885 in Batley and had a rough childhood with a notorious alcoholic father. He married Emily Butcher in 1908, and the couple had seven children over their marriage. Ernest […]


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