William and Mary Ann Westall

Author: Dorothy Jones
Date published: 07/02/2013

William and Mary Ann Westall were living at Jack Street, Newbury, in 1871: William’s occupation ‘Journeyman Painter’ having evolved from a seemingly ‘jack of all trades’ recorded elsewhere variously Bricklayer Journeyman, Bargeman, Plumber’s or General Labourer, until finally House Painter on his Death Certificate: Informant Francis Westall, son.

William was baptized 18th January 1826 at Newbury St Nicolas, a son of William Westall and Sarah Lewis, who were married there on 16th May 1820. His father, a bargeman, died aged 39 on 17th April 1840 at Cheap Street, and his mother Sarah converted to the Church of Latter-day Saints in 1844, followed in 1846 by her married daughter, Mary Ann Canning and son-in-law George Canning, and in 1849 sons William Westall and his elder brother Francis. The LDS Register of Members records that William conducted a baptism as an Elder in 1851, whilst Francis was a Teacher at Reading.

At Newbury St Nicolas on 5th October 1851 William Westall married Mary Ann Green, also a convert to LDS in 1849, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Green, Shoemaker/Bootmaker of Speen. Mary Ann Green was baptized 21st May 1821 at Froxfield, Wilts.

From newspaper reports in the Reading Mercury it is evident that in 1862 William Westall was an employee of Samuel Biddis; in November 1869 he performed the physical part of the ceremony of ‘Beating the Bounds’ of Newbury Borough; and in 1876 he was also a member of the local Fire Brigade. [The Newbury Weekly News of 26th November 1869 holds a fascinating full account of the ‘Beating the Bounds’ ceremony, which was performed every seven years.]

William Westall died 9th February 1880 aged 53 [sic] at Marsh Street and his widow’s death at age 68 [sic] at Northbrook Place was recorded in the LDS register in 1883: Mary Ann Westhall [sic] ‘dead in full faith of the gospel on Friday December 6th 1883 at 4.30 am’. (Friday was actually December 7th – as recorded onher death certificate: Informant F.Westall, son.) Their burials were recorded in the registers for Newbury St Nicolas Parish and Newtown Road Cemetery on 12th February 1880 and 11th December 1883 respectively.

The couple raised two sons of the marriage to maturity: Francis Maroni born 23rd January 1852 at Speen and Henry supposedly born 20th March 1859 at Speen, according to his Birth Certificate, but baptized there on 14th March and recorded ‘Bless’d & Named’ in the LDS register on 21.10.1860 with a birth date 13.3.1859. They also suffered several infant/child mortalities but the actual whereabouts of all the children’s burials is unknown as those recorded in the St Nicolas PR appear after the churchyard was closed to burials, other than in existing family vaults or brick graves, and the St Mary Speen Register is illegible in parts due to water damage:


20 Feb 1857 John Thomas Westall 3 yrs Speen, St Mary the Virgin –
Born Newbury 07 Sep 1853 - baptized 13 Feb 1857 at Speen the day before he died.

1858 Clara Elizabeth Westall 1 yr born 26 May 1857 Speenhamland, Speen and died there 16 May 1858.

1865 Clara Westall bap 12 Jan 1865 Newbury St Nicola[P & D in Baptisms PR margin] . Birth cert: born Jack Yard, Newbury at 7 a.m. same day. Unnamed female twin reg’n in GRO index.

19 Mar 1868 Fanny Westall 6 yrs Newbury, St Nicolas. Died 15th at Jack Yard.

Sarah Westall, William’s widowed mother, had emigrated to USA in 1853, with a party of Mormons from Newbury on the Utah trail, and joined her daughter Mary Ann Canning and family at Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie Co., Iowa; their residence the last ‘sighting’ for Sarah in the 1856 Iowa Census. She was recorded Sarah Westhall [sic] (LDS transcription ‘Westfall’) aged 50 for her passage on 7th March 1853 on the Ellen Maria: Liverpool/New Orleans bound for Salt Lake with almost 350 other souls.

The burials for Mary Ann Canning and husband George are recorded at Walnut Cemetery, Council Bluffs, in 1896 and 1898 respectively. The resting place for Sarah Westall is untraced but she is mentioned as a widow ‘Sister Westall’ and identified by her Canning family links in a history written in 1878 by Thomas Tanner of Tooele City, an emigrant from Newbury who was born 1807 and ordained High Priest in the Church of Latter-day Saints in 1864.

The burial of Thomas Green of Speenhamland, William Westall’s father-in-law, was recorded at St Mary Speen on 2nd December 1863 aged 65. However, there is no obvious record for the death of his widow Elizabeth in the GRO index. The BFHS burials index offers two possibilities, both quoting the same burial date but with conflicting ages, the latter being the most likely:

05 Jan 1878 GREEN, Elizabeth 72 of Newbury Newtown Rd Cemetery

05 Jan 1878 GREEN , Elizabeth 78 of St John, St John the Evangelist Church Almshouses


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