William FLETCHER (1831–1872)
His wife Sarah Grace FLETCHER, née Hadley (1826–1871)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 24, Grave 53½

William Fletcher




wife of]
[… NOVEMBER 1871]
AGED [45]


The rest of the inscription
is both worn away and
obscured by the footstone, but
the initials and date on the latter
show that the second person
buried here is Sarah’s husband
aged 41 in September 1872]



S. F.

W. F.


William Fletcher was born at Oxford in 1831 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 2 October. He was the son of James Fletcher and Elizabeth Young, who were married at that church at the respective ages of 20 and 17 on 21 April 1822: neither could sign their name, and their daughter Ann was born soon after the wedding. William’s other ten siblings were also baptised at St Thomas’s: Elizabeth (1823), Rachel (1825), James (1827), a second Elizabeth (1829), William (1831), Robert (1833), Sarah (1836), Daniel (1838), Joseph (1841), and Jane (1843).

William’s father was a labourer, and he and his wife lived at Fisher Row for a short while after their marriage and then at Hollybush Row. At the time of the 1841 census William (10) was living with his parents and eight of his siblings in St Thomas’s Street, and his father was now described as a brewer.

William’s mother Elizabeth Fletcher died at the age of 42 and was buried in St Thomas’s churchyard on 7 November 1847, and his father James Fletcher died at the age of 48 and was buried with her on 15 April 1849.

At the time of the 1851 census William (20) was living at St Thomas’s Street with his siblings James (24), Elizabeth (21), Robert (18), Sarah (15), and Daniel (13). William and his younger brother Robert were both working as brewer’s men; their older brother James was a brewer; and their sister Elizabeth kept house.

Sarah Grace Hadley was born at Gloucester Green in Oxford in 1826 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 3 November. She was the eldest child of the whitesmith John Hadley and Sarah Jones, who were married at that church on 11 December 1825. Sarah’s brother Daniel was baptised there in March 1828, but her next two sisters were baptised elsewhere: Mary Ann was baptised at St Thomas’s Church in xx 1830 and Anne at St Clement’s Church in August 1833. Her next seven siblings were all baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church again: John (1836, buried there 1837), John (1838, buried there 1840), Elizabeth (1840, buried there 1841), George (1842), Sam (1843), Ashfield (1845), and Pearce (1848).

At the time of the 1841 census Sarah was 14 years old and was living in Friars Entry, where her father was a blacksmith, with her parents and four of her younger siblings: Daniel (13), Marian (11), Anne (9), and Elizabeth (2).

By 1851 she was a 24-year-old laundress, living in Friar’s Entry with her widowed aunt Mrs Mary Jones.

In 1852 in the Abingdon district William Fletcher married Sarah Grace Hadley, and they had the following children:

  • William Frederick Fletcher (born in Oxford in 1853, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Emily Fletcher (born at Penson’s Gardens, Oxford in 1854 and privately baptised on 23 November; received into at St Ebbe’s Church on 12 June 1855)
  • Sarah Ann Hadley Fletcher (born at Penson’s Gardens, Oxford in 1856 and baptised at St Ebbe’s Church on 20 November)
  • Alfred James Hadley Fletcher (born at Penson’s Gardens, Oxford in 1860 and privately baptised on 22 May, received into St Ebbe’s Church on 13 July 1862)
  • Ellen Fletcher (born at New Street in 1862 and baptised at St Ebbe’s Church on 13 July).

The family evidently began their married life at Penson’s Gardens, but by the time of the 1861 census William Fletcher (29), described as a brewer, and Sarah (34) were living at 6 New Street, St Ebbe’s with their children William (7), Emily (6), Sarah (4), and Alfred (eleven months).

By 1871 they were living at Paradise Square, and Sarah was now working as a laundress. Three children were at home: Sarah (14), Alfred (10), and Ellen (8), and they had a 12-year-old servant girl. William (18) was an engine fitter lodging in Swindon, and Emily (16) was the in-between maid in the home of a milliner and his wife at 1 Warwick Street, London.

Mrs Sarah Fletcher died just seven months after the 1871 census:

† Mrs Sarah Grace Fletcher née Hadley died at 18 Paradise Square, St Ebbe’s at the age of 45 in November 1871 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 12 November (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Because of her place of residence she would normally have been buried in Osney Cemetery, but it can only be assumed that her family, who had been in St Mary Magdalen parish for a long time, had possession of this plot.

Sarah’s husband died the following year:

† William Fletcher died at 18 Paradise Square at the age of 41 in September 1872 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 25 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

His death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal read: “Sept. 22, at 18, Paradise-square, St. Ebbe’s, aged 41, Mr. William Fletcher, College brewer, having survived his wife ten months.” His effects came to under £100, and administration was granted to Mrs Elizabeth Thornton (the wife of the waiter Thomas Thornton) of 3 Wadham Place, who was the aunt and guardian of the five Fletcher children, all of whom were still under 21. None of them was living with her at the time of the next census in 1881.

Children of William and Sarah Fletcher
  • William Frederick Fletcher (born 1853) returned to Oxford, where in 1874, as soon as he was 21, he married Ellen Hayward. At the time of the 1881 census he was still working as an engine fitter and living at 18 Paradise Square with his wife and his children Frederick (6) and Henry (4). In 1901 he was living at 27 Newton Road, south Oxford with Ellen and their younger son Henry (24), who was a hairdresser.
  • Emily Fletcher (born 1854) is hard to trace after 1871, and may have married before the 1881 census.
  • Sarah Ann Hadley Fletcher (born 1856) also used the name Frances Ann Hadley Fletcher. She married the telegraph clerk Frederic Pilbeam in Croydon in 1877, but they had no children. At the time of the 1881 census they were living at 45 Clarendon Street in Croydon, and had taken in Sarah’s younger brother Alfred as well as having two lodgers. In 1891 and 1901 they were in Camberwell. By 1911 they had moved to Ramsgate, where Frederic still worked as a Post Office clerk. Frederic died in 1914, and Sarah Ann Pilbeam died at 22 Royal Road, Ramsgate on 16 July 1915: her effects came to £191 6s. 2d.
  • Alfred James Fletcher (born 1860) was a 20-year-old plumber living with his sister Sarah (Frances) and her husband in Croydon in 1881. In 1883 in the Horsham district he married Emily Watling, and in 1884 they emigrated to New York, where they had three children: Emily Sarah Fletcher (1884), Nellie Elizabeth Fletcher (1887), and Alfred Watling Fletcher (1889). By the time of the 1911 census Alfred and his wife had moved back to England and were living at 68 Tharp Road, Wallington, Surrey: his father-in-law and two of his children, Emily and Nellie (now Mrs Messer) were living with them. He died in Epsom at the age of 80 on 4 August 1940, and his effects came to £737 12s. 7d.
  • Ellen Fletcher (born 1862) was only nine when she was orphaned. She is hard to find in censuses from 1881 onwards, and may have married very young.



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