William Whitelegg Goulden was a Solicitor who was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Lancashire and Salford, Vice Chairman of Salford School Board and a close ally of Rev. Hugh Stowell and his Church of England, evangelical values.
He was born in 1813 in Wilmslow, Cheshire. His parents died when he was young and he was brought up in Bowdon by his guardian, Mr Pass, a Solicitor. William was articled to his guardian and became a Solicitor, but then studied to be an Anglican Minister. He was told that his lungs were too weak for preaching and returned to his legal career. Slater's Directory gives his business address in 1840 as 54, King Street, Manchester and his home in Mary Street, Strangeways, Manchester.
William Whitelegg Goulden was very much a Churchman (Church of England) and Conservative. He was closely allied to Rev. Hugh Stowell who was considered to be Salford's "Protestant Watchman" and very anti Roman Catholic. In fact, when a well known Irish Priest in Manchester, Father Hearne, brought an action for libel against Rev. Stowell, it was William Goulden who fought this celebrated case all the way to the Queen's Bench and won it. He retired from business in 1860 and worked very closely with Rev. Stowell and when Stowell died five years later in 1865, he continued the crusade.
At a time when Salford's population was increasing and the need for churches and schools was urgent William Goulden threw himself into the cause, being: Trustee of Christ Church, St Clement's, St Matthias and Stowell Memorial churches; manager in five schools; active in the Ten Churches Movement; Vice President of Salford School Board; Hon. Secretary of the Bishop of Manchester's Fund; Hon Secretary of the Colonial and Continental Church Society; Visiting Secretary of the Church Pastoral Aid Society; active member of the Diocesan Church Building Society; Hon. Secretary to the Joint Diocesan Education Board and its Parliamentary sub-Committee; and Chair of the Northern Church Defence Association. He was also a member of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, Barne's Charity, Ardwick Industrial Schools, Hospital for Incurables and Discharged Prisoners Aid Society.
William Whitelegg Goulden died on 7th October 1878 at the age of 66. The Salford Weekly Chronicle gave him a black-edged obituary which began "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day". The funeral took place on Friday 11th October and almost the entire route from the Crescent to the cemetery was lined with spectators. Tradesmen closed their shops and residents drew their blinds. The procession was headed by 60 children from Christ Church Schools lead by two curates of Christ Church, Rev M. Thompson and Rev J. Miller and Mr H. Lord, Manager and Miss Shorrocks, Headmistress of the schools. Then the hearse followed by 2 mourning coaches containing Mrs Goulden and close family members. Then a long line of friends including Mr Hugh Birley MP, Mr Richard Haworth, the Mayor of Salford, (Cllr Walmsley), many Aldermen and Councillors and representatives from the many organisations of which William played such a prominent part. The cortege was met at the cemetery gate by the Bishop of Manchester and there was a large gathering of clergy and laity at the graveside. The coffin had an inside shell of lead and oak and the outside was oak with brass handles, covered with black cloth. The service in the church was conducted by the Bishop and at the graveside service by the son of his close friend Rev. Thomas Alfred Stowell.