There is no conclusive evidence where or when William met his first wife, Mary Ann Culf [i] but they were married on the Wednesday, 21st May 1862 at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel [ii] on Saville Street, in New Malton. The officiating minister was Joseph Sykes who at the time of the 1861 Census was living with his wife, Mary and six children next door to the Chapel. Judging from the birthplaces of the six children, Joseph’s ministry had taken him from Berwick-on-Tweed to Market Raison in Lincolnshire; to Peasenhall and Mildenhall in Suffolk and then in 1856 to Manningtree in Essex, the family home of the Culf family and finally just prior to New Malton to William’s home town of Stokesley. Mary and Joseph’s tenth child Mary Elizabeth was born in Stokesley in 1857[iii].
This peripatetic ministry was not without its problems and whilst Minister at the Peasenhall Wesleyan Methodist Church, Joseph Sykes recorded in the 1851 Census of Religious Worship that the average persons present at morning worship was 20 and in the afternoon 25 – remarking that ‘Congregation was much larger until some time ago when certain persons caused great disturbance in the society, and led members away to another place, from which at least some of them may return’.[iv] It seems almost certain that the answer to how William met Mary Ann and why they were to marry in New Malton is inextricably linked to the Sykes family. Mary Ann’s family were Wesleyan Methodists her parents having been married in the Wesleyan Chapel, Manningtree in December 1831 – the chapel ‘was reputedly the first in Essex and is alleged to have been built by Wesley himself’.[v]
At the time of William’s marriage, the 1861 Census shows that living in the Sykes household in New Malton were two domestic servants – William’s wife to be, Mary Ann Culf (a maid of all work) and her sister Jane Culf (a house maid). It is likely that the two sisters had joined the household when Joseph was a minister in Manningtree and moved with them to Stokesley, where Mary Ann may have met William, and then onto Malton. Although the marriage certificate gives William’s profession as compositor residing in Middlesbrough it is more than possible that he was regularly meeting his old mentor, William Braithwaite in Stokesley particularly because he would still have been employed to provide local news items for the York Herald.
Mary Ann’s age is given as 23 making her two years older than William. There were three witnesses to the marriage; Mary Ann’s father, William Culf, a Maltster, her younger sister Jane and Sarah Ann Hesp, most likely a friend of the Culf sisters, who was a cook in the household of James Smith, a banker, living with his New York born wife, Margaret, in Barton Cottage, Castle Howard Road, Malton. Both William’s and Mary Ann’s mothers had died four years earlier in 1858. Mary Ann’s mother Mary Ann (nee Bowman) was 45 when she died at her home in Manningtree from Pneumonia following an Intermittent Fever that had lasted for fourteen days. Unlike the certificate for his second marriage there is no entry for William’s father on this certificate.
In June 2016 Hilary and I visited Malton, having found the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Saville Street we had a coffee in the Kingfisher Café[vi] opposite. I had thought we might not see inside because of safety concerns but having seen a couple enter the Chapel I asked permission to take a few photographs which record some of its former glory. It is now being redeveloped by a York-based conservation architectural firm of PPIY Architects+ to create an imaginative scheme to act as a community hub and a place for worship.[vii]
If William had arrived by train he would have walked up Railway Street over the River Derwent passing Ralph Yates & Sons (established in 1845 and still fully operational) – the ‘Ransomes Patent’ unchanged from 1845 when ‘Ploughs and Irons’ were’ kept in stock’. Reaching Yorkersgate a first left and first right he would arrived in Saville Street and seen the Chapel as it appears today.
At the time of his marriage William was living in Middlesbrough, possibly in Commercial Street – some nine months later when William and Mary Anne’s first child, Hannah Elizabeth was born on the 26th February 1863, the family had moved to 5 Dundas Street which was part of the burgeoning development of long rows of basic terraced housing for workers south of the Middlesbrough branch of the Stockton and Darlington railway. Although they did not stay very long in Dundas Street, moving to North Ormesby by the time their second child Mary Ann was born just after Christmas in 1867. Of some importance to their being located in Dundas Street is that it is likely that William got to know Sister Mary Jacques who with the support of John Jordison, the first postmaster of Middlesbrough started the country’s first cottage hospital in Dundas Mews which ran parallel to Dundas Street. When hospital outgrew its premises in Dundas Mews, it was to move to North Ormesby where William’s involvement in the hospital was to increase and some twenty years later he was to write about his friendship with Sister Mary[viii]. [post to follow – Sister Mary Jacques and the first Cottage Hospital].
[i]The surname Culf is alternatively spelt Culph in the family and this later usage was sometimes used interchangeably by my father, William Culph/Culf Burnett
[ii] The grade 2 registered building is now called ‘Malton Methodist Church’. It was built in 1812 and the exterior front is to all intents and purposes as it was at the time of William’s marriage.
[iii] GRO Index of Births; SYKES, Mary Elizabeth, Dec 1857, Stokesley, 9d 419
[iv] Timmins, T C B and Dimond, D P, ‘Suffolk Returns from the Census of Religious Worship of 1851’ Suffolk records Office publication (1997) ISBN 0 85115 577 4
The Croft is a vibrant intentional community on the edge of the North Yorkshire market town of Malton offering a diverse and evolving range of living, working, social and cultural opportunities. Currently home to 37 community members, an inspiring group of learning disabled adults spanning the years from individuals in their 20’s to those in their 70’s.
[viii] Burnett, William Hall, Old Cleveland, being a collection of papers compiled and written by W. H. Burnett. Local writers and local worthies. Section I-complete, London: Hamilton, Adams & Co.; Middlesbrough: W. H. Burnett, (1886)