I have met several helpful collaborators since starting to research our STANLEY family line. One of which is a Mary Hill in the USA who is descended from William's grandaughter Ann Lexcey Stanley born 24 April 1845 who married Jonathon Wilde in 1864 and emmigrated to America. Mary Hill is the grandaughter of Ann Lexcey's eldest daughter Esther Wilde born in 1864. Mary's Aunt Jessie told her in 1969 that William made beaver hats living in Wales near Cardiff. Apparently all William's brothers had had a good education and had done well in business, but although William was also well educated he did not prosper. He did not use money wisely and had spent some time travelling round Europe squandering money. He had several children, but failed to educate them. In the end his family from Dukinfield came to the family's rescue and pensioned him off. As my research continued it transpired that Aunt Jessie's memories were to contain more than a grain of truth.

The first problem we find is why did William have to go to Cardiff to persue a trade in 'Hatting'? It is likely that he learned the trade whilst still living in Dukinfield, but surely there would have been plenty of opportunities to persue this locally, this area of North Cheshire and East Manchester being more or less the hub of the Hatting Industry in the country.

Secondly William's first son William was born in Dukinfield in 1808 and his next son John was not born until 1817 in Cardiff, to be followed in fairly rapid succession by eight brothers and sisters. What circumstances surrounding the birth of William in 1808 could have necessitated his father's removal from Dukinfield? Could it be that these missing nine years were spent travelling abroad?

Thirdly William 1808's mother is given as Ann in the Ashton St Michael Parish Register and the mother of his further nine children in Cardiff's name is also given as Ann. Is this the same Ann? Cardiff Ann's age is given as 44 in the 1841 census and 56 in the 1851 census stating that she was born in Hereford, which seems to indicate that she would have been far too young to be the mother of William born in 1808, or could this be the root of the scandal and that she was then allowed to join him several years later when he showed signs of making something of his life. Either that or there were two Anns and he left the mother of his first child. Later he did show some responsibility to his son William because they were both working together in Cardiff making hats. Another problem is that no-one has managed to find William and Ann's marriage.

These three problems remain conjectural, but some answers seem to have been found.

By 1851 the whole family at Cardiff seems to have undergone significant changes. William 1788 is no longer making hats for a living; he has now become a proprietor of houses and is living on David Street, St Mary's, Cardiff. His eldest son now appears on the 1851 census for Newton Heath in Manchester and is now a coal miner. His next son John is living at Shackliffe Green in Moston, Manchester and is working as a colliery bookkeeper. His son Robert (our great, great grandfather) now has a grocery store on Melbourne Street in Stalybridge with his youngest brother James working for him as a grocery assistant. The question is why have most of William's sons returned to Manchester?

It appears that the person most instrumental in these changes was John Stanley 1786, William's brother. He was a man of many talents and several business interests, mostly in Ashton-under-Lyne, where he owned cotton mills, a couple of iron works and one or two shops. His nephew Robert came back to Ashton in 1838 to work for him in his grocery store on Stamford Street. I have also just found out that John Stanley also owned Moston Colliery from the 1840's and it seems that this must be the link that led to William Junior and John both moving to that area and starting the STANLEY line there. I also suspect that John Strongi'th'arm bought a couple of houses for his brother in Cardiff to provide him with some sort of income to live on, since his involvement with hatting seems to have floundered. This is likely to have resulted from the new fashion for silk Top Hats.

So it seems that part of what Aunt Jessie told Mary Hill may have had a basis in fact. As far travelling round Europe and squandering money is concerned, there is nothing to indicate that this did not happen.

Details of William Stanley's Children
William8 July 1808Moved to Cardiff persued hatting as a trade with his father. Married Hannah Short at St Mary's Church Bitton 10 September 1837, by 1851 he is living at Newton Heath in Manchester, where he is now a coal miner, where he eventually died aged 85. He had a total of seven children. Click here to see what happened to his daughter Anne Lexcey
John17 Feb 1817Born in Cardiff, moved back to Ashton circa 1840 where he married Betty. By 1851 he is working as a colliery bookkeeper at Moston Colliery. By 1861 he has his own grocery store on Canning Street, Ashton. He had eight known children.
George 28 April 1819 died aged 6 on the 29 November 1825, buried at Cardiff Cemetery.
Thomas22 July 1821 died aged 5 on the 25 January 1827, buried at Cardiff cemetery
Ann Lexcey27 June 1824 no further trace.
Matilda26 January 1827died 30 January 1827, buried at Cardiff Cemetery
Robert4 September 1828By 1838 he is apprenticed to work for his Uncle John Stanley at his grocery store on Stamford Street, Ashton. By 1851 he is married to Emma Meredith and has his own grocery store on Melbourne Street in Stalybridge. They had eleven children. He died aged 83 on the 6 September 1911 at Southport.
Henry9 March 1831no further trace
Mary Jayne4 October 1833Married William Rees, Ship and Boat Builder and lived at 15 Fitzalan Place Cardiff.
James12 December 1836 In 1851 he is training as a grocery assistant at his brother's shop on Melbourne Street in Stalybridge. By 1861 he is back in Cardiff working as an Outdoor Officer of Customs. he married twice and is buried at Cardiff cemetery. He had seven possibly eight known children



Gay J Oliver © 2001 - all rights reserved