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William Baugh Atcherley belonged to a family which was all too familiar with the Grim Reaper. Before he was two years old both of his older siblings, Mary and John, had died (both aged 4). His younger brother Thomas, less a month old, was buried just two days after William’s second birthday. Thomas’s twin brother Edward Baugh Atcherley followed a little over two weeks later. Sister Elizabeth Atcherley fared better, reaching the age of 25 before she died, unmarried, in 1871, while siblings Mary Ann, Jemima and Richard all survived into adulthood and raised children of their own. However William’s youngest sibling, Robert Pembrey Atcherley, died within weeks of his birth in December 1852. Within a year the mother of all these children, Eliza (Baugh) Atcherley, also passed away, aged 40, on 2 October 1853.
The 1851 census shows that William Baugh Atcherley, aged 9 (he was in fact 8 at that time) as a pupil of David Harris, independent minister of the chapel of Ruyton XI Towns in Shropshire. Ten years later the census recorded William on his 19th birthday working as a linen draper’s assistant at Ashton under Lyne in Lancashire. His sister Elizabeth, 15, was living on the premises too (in separate, female accommodation) and working as a dress maker. William remained in the drapery trade and by 1871 he was working as a shopman at a large linen draper’s establishment in St Marylebone, London.
One of his pursuits in the time available to him for leisure was rowing. On Bank Holiday Monday, 3 August 1874, he coxed a team known as the Magpies in the Open Challenge Cup race for four-oared boats at the Oxford City Royal Regatta; the Magpies being beaten into second place in the final heat by the Henley crew. He coxed the Mapies again in July 1878, this time in a race for eight-oared boats, from the London Boathouse at Putney to Hammersmith Bridge. Again his crew came second. The members of the Magpies were employees of the Marshall & Snelgrove department store on London’s Oxford Street.
William married Eliza Winter, daughter of tailor Frederick Winter and his wife Johanna (Weber), at Portman Square in London on 6 November 1880. In the marriage register he described himself as a commercial salesman, of 15 Vere Street. Five months later when the 1881 census was taken, William (a draper’s shopman) and Eliza were living in Ravenstone Road, Hornsey. They were still there at the end of 1882 when their daughter Constance Eliza Atcherley was born, but after this the family moved to Boscombe in Hampshire, where their son Lewis William Richard Winter Atcherley was born on 26 June 1884. William was then working as a commercial traveller and was listed in the 1885 Kelly’s Directory covering Hampshire in the Commercial section (“furnished apartments”) for Boscombe.
Within months of their son’s birth, tragedy struck the Atcherley family. Eliza contracted typhoid (a disease caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria) and died six weeks later, on 19 October 1884, when the bacteria spread to her lungs causing double pneumonia. After Eliza’s death William and his children moved to nearby Bournemouth, where William once again worked as a draper, until he too passed away, on 28 November 1887, from ‘phthisis’ – better known to us as ‘consumption’ or tuberculosis. He had suffered from the disease for seven years – from around the time of his marriage to Eliza.
With William’s death his two children, aged 5 and 3, were orphans. Constance and Lewis were taken in by their maternal aunts, Emma, Louisa and Anne Maria Winter, and the 1891 census shows the children living with their aunts, and grandfather Frederick Winter (by then aged 83) at the Winter family home in Bentinck Street, St Marylebone. The photo here (right) shows Emma Winter.
William Baugh Atcherley probably knew that TB would rob him of the chance to see his children grow up and deny them the opportunity to know their father. Perhaps that thought was in his mind when, at some point during the four years that he and Eliza were together in the early 1880s, he had a photographic portrait of himself and Eliza taken at the studio of G R Lavis in Eastbourne, Sussex. The back of the photograph bears the simple but poignant inscription, shown below: “For Lewis William Richard Winter Atcherley”.
The images above, from photographs held by Sir Harold Atcherley, appear by kind permission of Martin Atcherley.