Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1920 & 29

Sir William Stephens (1848 - 1929)

Sir William Stephens was Mayor of Salford Council for three terms (1902 to 1905) and officially opened Salford Northern Cemetery at Agecroft on 2nd July 1903. He was Liberal in politics, a Cotton Yarn Agent by profession, a life-long member of Hope Congregational Church and a keen Temperance worker.

He was born in 1848 in Salford. His father was William Stephens born 1811 in Salford who was a Warehouseman and his mother was Eliza, born 1809 in Bury, Lancashire. In 1861 William was a 12 year old scholar living at 16 West Richmond Street, Salford.

William served his apprenticeship at what became a branch of English Sewing Cotton Co Ltd, but as the American Civil War caused the "Cotton Famine" in Lancashire, the firm sent him to Owen's College as a student for nearly four years. There he studied English, History, Literature, Logic and Political Economy. William returned to the firm to continued work as a cotton yarn Salesman.

In 1873, William married Martha Jane Fogg in Salford by Registrar and by 1881 they were living at Moorelands, 56, Derby Road, Pendleton with three sons. In 1891 William was a Yarn Agent, living at The Laurels, Eccles Old Road, Pendleton with their three sons: James Fogg aged 17, William Ewart aged 14 and Thomas Smithson aged 10, and two servants.

William Stephens's political career began in 1883, joining Salford Council for the Liberals and spanning 37 years until 1920 when he retired due to poor health. He was elected Alderman in 1901 and elected Mayor three times, in 1902, 1903 and 1904. In 1905 he was knighted by King Edward VII, when he and Queen Alexandra came to Salford to open the new No.9 dock at Manchester Docks and to unveil the Lancashire Fusiliers monument opposite Salford Royal Hospital. As well as being the first Chairman of Salford's Education Committee, William was Chairman of the Overseers of the poor, a Distributor of Booths Charities, a Justice of the Peace, Chairman of the Licensing Justices, Chairman of Pendleton Poor Children's Treat, supporter of the Ragged School movement, President of Salford Sunday School Union, a Governor of both Manchester Grammar School and Manchester High School for Girls, a member of the Court of Manchester University and a Governor of Henshaw's Blind Asylum. In the Parliamentary election of 1918, William stood as a Liberal Coalition candidate for Salford West, but was defeated.

During the time that William Stephens was Mayor of Salford, as well as opening Salford Northern Cemetery at Agecroft, he officially opened: the Frederick Road Electricity Station, Buile Hill Park on Eccles Old Road, St. Matthias School on Blackfriars Road, the new Nurses Home at Hope Hospital, the new Coroners Court at Pendleton Town Hall, three new social institutes at Irwell Street Mission, the new Prince's Bridge, the new Littleton Road Bridge and the Height Congregational Church in Claremont Road.

William died on 30th December 1929 aged 81 and was buried at Weaste Cemetery.