William’s main love was the theatre, where he went whenever he had the chance, and he devised a comedy routine to entertain his family at parties which included a magician's act. A job as a professional entertainer was, however, an absurd notion to a family seeking a higher social status. His father was therefore eager to keep his son on the straight and narrow by giving him a partnership in the family business.Shop hours in those days were long and arduous and once the week’s work was done William was keen to enjoy his leisure time to the full. He would often travel as far as London to see the shows and enjoy the nightlife of the big city. Since his parents would have frowned upon such activities William was forced to slip out of Castle Hill without their knowledge. He would arrive back in the early hours of the morning and climb the ivy to his first floor bedroom window which he would ask his sisters to leave ajar. One night he fell from the ivy and cut his face very badly. He sought help from his sister Edith who cleaned the wound and then spent all night clasping the sides of the cut together to stop the bleeding. By morning the gash was sealed but William had a hard time explaining how he had gone to bed unblemished but awoken with so much damage!
His father was not really a hard task master but he was strictly governed by the morality of the times and no doubt persuaded by his austere wife to practise what she preached. James was, by then, a pillar of local society and the family needed to maintain their status within the town as his five daughters were now reaching marriageable age. This was no small matter as marriage to the right man was, of course, all important for ’nice’ girls. Wealth and status held a much higher priority over love and affection which were still considered to be a bonus. Women of their upward mobility should not be expected to work for a living and so it was imperative that they married well.Go to page 3