- proprietor of the Spalding Free Press Newspaper -
My Great x 3 Grandparents:
Henry was born at Rookery Farm in Burwell Cambridgeshire on 17th July 1819, son of John
Watkinson and Mary Ball. He is recorded as being baptised in 1822 with five of his siblings
in Dr William's index of Non-Conformist church baptisms. There is also another possible
record of his Baptism at the Hightown Independent Church, Burwell on 25 November 1820
[under WATKIN] Henry was educated in St Ives and later apprenticed to William Watts,
printer and bookseller, Wisbech [1833- 1840] [g] Whilst at Wisbech he joined the
Independent Church in 1839 and was active as a local preacher and Sunday School teacher.
In 1840 he became assistance to his uncle C.N. Wright a printer in Nottingham where he
continued his church involvement.[g]
Jane Hewitt Jane was born about 1821 and christened 11th February, 1821 at Morton by
Bourne in Linc.[a] Her parents were Richard Hewitt and Lina Cawdron. Jane's name is
listed as Jane Cawdron Pettifer Hewitt on her daughter Lina's death certificate. I have
found no other reference to Jane being known by this full name however it was recorded as
such in 1933 in Australia, so the memory of it had lingered for over 100 years. Pettifer is
Jane's mother's maiden name.
Marriage: Henry and Jane were married on 6th November 1845 at St Mary and St Nicholas
Church, Spalding. Witnesses were John Hewitt, Jane's brother, Diana Watkinson, Henry's
sister, Edward Watkinson, Henry's brother, and Matilda Hobour [possibly Hobson] Henry's
abode is given as St Mary's Nottingham while Jane is a resident of Spalding.
The Chelmsford Chronicle dated 14th November 1845 reported:
6th Instant at St Mary's Spalding, by Rev Doctor Moore, Henry Watkinson of Collins Street,
Nottingham, son of the late Mr John Watkinson of Burwell to Jane, youngest daughter of R
Hewitt esquire, lately and eminent surgeon of the former place.
Henry and Jane had the following children: - according to a newspaper account at the
time of daughter Catherine's death, Henry and Jane had 22 children.
Richard Henry Watkinson, born March q 1848 [d], died 8th March aged 3 weeks. Cause of
death "irritation of the bowels from birth - certified". Place of death Market Place, Spadling.
Buried 11th March 1848,Infant, St Mary and St Nicholas, Spalding - [Death cert held][c]
Lina Mary WATKINSON, born June Q, 1849, Spalding. My great great grandmother
Catherine Mary WATKINSON, born about June Q 1850 vol 14 page 615, Spalding. Lina and
Catherine are usually shown as being the same age on each census. Catherine was a school
teacher, who was living with her Uncle and Aunt, Henry and Elizabeth COOPER [nee
Watkinson] in Waterbeach, Cambridge from 1871-1891. By 1901, Catherine [mispelt
Catharine] is boarding with the Reynolds family at Wimblington, Cambridge [cousins,
daughter of her Aunt Diana Watkinson/Thomson] She is shown as 'living on own means'.
Catherine left her sister Lina a 'life interest' in her estate. Catherine died January 1920. The
Derby Daily Telegraph dated 16th Jaunary 1920 reported:
At the inquest at Pinchbeck near Spalding on Thursday on Miss Catherine Mary Watkinson, a
Lincolnshire lady of independent means, found drowned in shallow water the previous day,
the evidence showed there were indications on the bank of a struggle to get out. The deceased
hat was found in one place and her umbrella [broken] in another. The back of her head was
in the water but her chin was above the water level. Two witnesses who discovered the body
but left it in the water to go and inform the police were severely criticised by the coroner for not
having taken the body out. It is thought that walking home on the rough and stormy night she
took the wrong turning and either walked or was blown into the dyke. The jury returned a
verdict of death by misadventure. Of 22 children of the late Mr Henry Watkinson, only one
daughter survives. The Yorkshire Evening Post describes 'Kate' as "in her 70th year and
Catherine M Watkinson's death is registered in March q 1920, Splading, vol 7a, page 415.
She left part of her estate to her sister Lina as per SMH notice.
John Edward Fitzball WATKINSON born June Q 1851, Spalding vol 14 page 611; buried
15th July, 1851, Infant, St Mary and St Nicholas, Spalding - Unconfirmed [c]
Louisa Mary Watkinson, born Spalding, September q 1852, buried 7th June, 1853, Infant,
Spalding St Mary and St Nicholas - Unconfirmed [c]
Henry John Edward Watkinson, born June q 1853 [d], buried 12th October 1853, Infant,
St Mary and St Nicholas, Spalding. Inquest gives the cause of death as convulsions - see
below for newspaper report.
Mary Louisa Fitzball WATKINSON, born December Q 1854, Spalding Vol 7a Page 282. She
married Frank [Francis] RHODES, a retired chemist from Middlesex, 31 years her senior, on
16th March March 1881, at New Sleaford. It was Frank's first marriage.
Henry John Edward Cawdron Richard Hewitt WATKINSON born December Q 1855, died
March Q 1856, Spalding [vol 7a page 192]
Mary Ball Watkinson born March Q 1857 Spalding vol 7a page 712; died March Q 185
7 vol 7a page 207 - Buried Pinchbeck 22nd March 1857 [not sure if this is the right family]
Ann [Annie] Bowden WATKINSON, born June quarter, 1859, Spalding. At the time of the
1871 census, Anne was a boarding school in London Street, Spalding. Annie Bowden
Watkinson died August 1877 and buried on 22nd August 1877 at St Denys, Sleaford [Old
Portion, D148 20662]. Aged 18. The Grantham Journal dated 25th August 1877 reported the
Sleaford - A Melancholy Case of Drowning. On Tuesday afternoon and inquest was held in the boardroom of
the workhouse before W Clegg esq coroner touching the death of Miss Annie Watkinson, youngest daughter of
Mr H Watkinson, newspaper proprietor, who was found drowned in the river a little below Simpson's mill about
half past 12 on Monday morning. Mr F Hipkin was chosen as foreman of the jury. Mr h Watkinson said he had
seen the body of the deceased; it was that of his daughter aged 18 years. He last saw her alive on Monday
between 11.00 and 12.00. He noticed she was perturbed and her mind was remarkably disturbed. She had
scarcely any breakfast. On the previous day a young man had followed her and it appeared this had unsettled
her mind. There had been some attachment between them but she was anxious to break it off. He told her it
was a great pity she could only meet him once or twice a week. He [Henry] had been with her all morning. In
the middle of the morning he had noticed her take out a large drawer full of oddments of paper which she
scattered all over the counter. At about 12.00 he observed her go out of the shop but did not know she had left
the premises. About three quarters of an hour later he was told by Dr Bissell's assistant she was drowned.
There were no mistakes made until this courtship began and he had to speak with her, but he did not do so
except as a father and as the manager of a business would do. He did not object to them going together but he
thought they were too young; they only seemed like children. The friendship had been broken off some time
ago but was renewed on Sunday last. Rose Ann Bridges said on Monday morning she saw Miss Watkinson
running towards her and others on the east Banks. When she got up to them she began to walk and a little boy
who was with them said "I think miss you will get your death of cold without your hat." but she only laughed.
Elizabeth Whitworth, married woman living in Ewerby said she was coming on the riverbank soon after 12.00
when she saw something in the river that she thought was a child. She ran immediately to Mr Sharpe's mill and
obtained assistance. When they got her out, a little girl who stood near said "It is Miss Watkinson." By a
Juryman - She was quite dead when I first saw her for her head was lying right back in the weeds. Thomas
Robinson, Mr Sharpe's carter said Mrs Whitworth told him she had seen a body in the river. It was about noon.
He took a drag with him and drew the body to the side. It was lying with the head and face quite under the
water about four yards from the side. He did not know her. J H Bissill, esquire, surgeon of Sleaford said he
was sent for on Monday being told Miss Watkinson had drowned herself. When he got to the spot the body had
been got out ad was quite dead. He could find no marks of violence upon her. She had died by suffocation by
drowning. Mr Superintendent Stevenitt, said by his direction the body was conveyed to the Union. When the
body was searched there was a letter in her pocket but it gave no indication as to the cause of death. After a
few remarks by the coroner the Jury at once returned a verdict of found drowned by river Slea.
2 x Male Watkinson [twins] born March Q 1860. Died March Q 1860. Lincolnshire
Chronicle dated 16th March 1860 reported: At Spalding on 12th instant, within half and hour
of each other, the twin sons of Mr Henry Watkinson aged 1 month.
Henry Edward Fitzball Watkinson, born September q, 1861 Spalding -Baptised 17th
December 1863 at Landbeach Cambridgeshire. Died 25th February 1864 aged 2 years 7
months, Landbeach, Cambridgeshire.
Lincolnshire Chronicle dated 27th February 1864 reports: On 19th Instant at Landbeach near
Cambridge, Henry Edward Fitzball, eldest son of Mr Henry Watkinson of Spalding aged 2
years and 8 months; and on 18th Harry Watkinson, nephew of the above and only son of Mr
Henry Cooper, farmer of the above place aged 5 years.
John Richard Hewitt Watkinson born Sept Q 1863 Spalding [7a 305] Died 7th July 1867
aged 3 years. Cause of death "gastric fever 3 weeks, meningitis 10 days, effusion, convulsions
- certified". Place of death Landbeach buried 11th July 1867 aged 3 years 10 months at
Landsbeach, Cambridgeshire. The informant was Edward Whitehead of Waterbeach who was
in attendance and made his mark instead of signing. The burial record notes little John was
'of the parish', but it is more likely he was staying with his Aunt Elizabeth [nee Watkinson]
and Uncle Henry Cooper? Stamford Mercury dated 12th July 1867 reported: On Sunday 7th
inst, at Landbeach, Cambs, aged 3 years and 11 months, John Richard Hewitt the
dearly-beloved and only son of Henry and Jane Watkinson, of the Free Press Office, Spalding
[Death cert held]
As Henry and Jane married in November 1845 there are also several more children
that may belong to them:
William Watkinson born Sept Q 1846 Spalding; died Sept Q 1847 Spalding, unconfirmed
John James Watkinson, born March q 1847, [d] died 5th January, 1848, Infant, St Mary
and St Nicholas, Spalding [e] Unconfirmed.
Family oral tradition also records that Jane is said to have given birth to 24 children
in total. Several of these were still born and twins.
Continued page two
Stamford Mercury advertisement dated 16th January 1857
Lincolnshire Chronicle dated 14th October 1853