Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1900 & 09

William Joseph Wilkins (1842 - 1903)



The Rev. William Joseph Wilkins was a Missionary at Calcutta, India, as part of the London Missionary Society's aim to bring Christianity to the Indian sub-continent. He was also a member of the Society's "Religious Tract Society" (which distributed Christian literature). In 1900 he became the first Minister of the Lightbown Memorial Church in Weaste, Salford, (named after Henry Lightbown, Wallpaper Manufacturer).

He was born in 1843 in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, and baptised at the Anglican, Holy Trinity Church there on 29th January 1843. His father was William Wilkins who was a Cordwainer (leather goods and shoes), and his mother was Ann (nee Smith) Wilkins, who were married on 13th April 1837 at Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield. In 1851 the family lived at High Street, Sutton Coldfield, where William snr was a Master Cordwainer, William Joseph was aged 8 and his siblings Mary Ann was aged 12 and Sarah was aged 2. In 1861 the family lived at 63 Walsall Street, Wolverhampton and William Joseph's occupation was Tin Plate Worker.

In 1866, William Joseph married Mary Ann Whitehead in Hackney London. Mary Ann's father was Thomas Whitehead (born 1794 in Surrey) who was a Gunmaker, and her mother was Mary Ann Whitehead (born 1812 at Bow, Middlesex). In 1861, Mary Ann was a Cap Milliner and lived at 23 Church Street, Hackney, the home of her employer Caroline Smith, who ran a milliner's shop. It would appear that William Joseph trained to be a Missionary in London and married Mary Ann shortly before they embarked for India.

William Joseph and Mary Ann were posted to Calcutta, India. On 29th October 1869 their first child Helen Rome was born. In 1871 Willian had a book published by the London Missionary Society entitled "Hindu Mythology – Vedic and Puranic."  On 17th April 1880 a son William Douglas was born and on 28th September 1882 they had another son Arnold Kingsley. The exact year that the family returned to England is not clear, but the 1891 census showed that they lived at 106 Denmark Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. William Joseph was aged 48 and a Congregational Minister, Mary Ann was aged 48, Ellen Rome was aged 21, William Douglas was aged 10 and Arnold Kingsley was aged 8. However, it appears that William Joseph, must have had leave to return to England, as the newspapers recorded eight speaking engagements between July 1875 and September 1876. It wasn't until April 1885 that the newspaper reported further speaking engagements. One in particular, the Annual Meeting of the Manchester and Salford Auxiliary to the London Missionary Society held on 20th October 1885, referred to Rev. W. J. Wilkins as "late Missionary in Calcutta, and now agent to the Society for the northern counties of England."

On 8th December 1900, the Lightbown Memorial Congregational Church at Weaste, Salford was opened by Mr J. E. C. Lord, and Rev.W. J. Wilkins appointed its first Minister. However, it was to be a short incumbency as William died at his residence 665 Eccles New Road, Weaste, on 29th May 1902 aged 59. He was buried at Weaste Cemetery, grave A4/DISS/171 on 31st May 1902.