James Woodworth 1849 - 1923

According to his birth certificate, James was born at 7pm on 16th January 1849 – near the May Pole, Handbridge. St Marys Parish, Chester. His father was William Woodworth a Waterman, and his mother, Jane Woodworth, formerly Potter.

Until it was removed in 1850, a maypole once stood at the Handbridge end of the Old Dee Bridge.

The American author, Washington Irving (best remembered today for his stories ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ in which the schoolmaster Ichabold Crane meets with a headless horseman, and ‘Rip Van Winkle,’ about a man who falls asleep for 20 years)- recalled seeing it on a visit to Chester around 1825:

“I shall never forget the delight I felt on first seeing a May-pole. It was on the banks of the Dee, close by the picturesque old bridge that stretches across the river from the quaint little city of Chester. I had already been carried back into former days by the antiquities of that venerable place… the May-pole on the margin of that poetic stream completed the illusion. My fancy adorned it with wreaths of flowers and peopled the green bank with all the dancing revelry of May-day. The mere sight of this May-pole gave a glow to my feelings and spread a charm over the country for the rest of the day”.

James was christened on 1 April 1849 St Mary’s, Chester, Cheshire. His eldest brothers, William and Robert were christened on 9 July 1844 at the same church.

He married Mary Ellen Disley on 22 Oct 1871 at St Mary’s Parish Church, Chester.  Mary was born in 1852 in Liverpool.

Both were living in Castle Street at the time of their marriage.

They had 9 children: William b.1872; Mary Ellen b. 1874, John b.1878; James Edward b. 1879; Richard b.1883; Robert b.1885; Elizabeth b. 1887; George b. 1889 and Jane b. 1893.

James is recorded as a mariner in the 1891 census.

By the 1911 census, James is living at 20 Weaver Street, Chester with his wife and two of his children – 28-year-old Richard a General Porter and 17-year-old Jane, a Mill Hand Weigher. James’ occupation is recorded as a General Labourer, aged 62 years.

His death is registered in the March quarter of 1923.