William Robert DEAKIN (1862-1943)

William Robert DEAKIN was the eldest son of Samuel Pownall DEAKIN and Sarah Ann SIDEBOTTOM (also SIDEBOTHAM). William was born on 1 September 1862 in Wigan, Lancashire[1].

In the 1881 Census, William’s occupation is recorded as ‘Grocers Assistant’, 13 Wignall Street, Wigan, living with his mother, Sarah and his seven brothers and sisters.

Throughout his life, William was involved in religious life and was a member of the Wesleyan Movement in Wigan regularly attending monthly meetings of the Band of Hope in Poolstock.

In 1885, William firstly married Betsy HODSON (1861-1892) in Wigan[2]. William and Betsy had the following children:

  1. Samuel Wesley DEAKIN, b. 1886, Wigan, d. 1956, London.
  2. John Bertram DEAKIN, b. 1887, Wigan, d. 1977, Melbourne, Australia.
  3. May Elizabeth DEAKIN, b. 1889, Wigan, d. 1893, Wigan.
  4. William George DEAKIN, b. 1890, Wigan, d. 1954, Altrincham, Cheshire.
  5. Bessie DEAKIN, b. 1891, Wigan, d. 1973, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

In the late 1880s William set up a partnership with John Hartley HODSON and his father Samuel Pownall DEAKIN to manufacture marmalade and preserves in Wigan. The partnership was amicably dissolved in the 1890s and William went on to set up his own jam manufacturing business, W.R. Deakin, manufacturing jam and other preserves at the Eclipse Preserve Works, Bradford Place, Wigan.

Following Bessie’s birth, Betsy Deakin died in 1892[3] at the age of 31, at 9 Lethbridge Road, North Meols, near Southport and was buried in Wigan Cemetery (Lower Ince) in plot A356.

On Saturday 6 May 1893, William laid the second foundation stone of Tyldesley Independent Methodist Chapel. During the summer of 1889, several local preachers severed their connection with the Leigh Wesleyan Chapel and began work on forming an independent Methodist chapel in Tyldesley. Building of a new chapel, on land leased from Mr. H. Ormerod, started in May 1893. Following a procession, members and friends assembled at their room in the square and headed by Tyldesley United Bass Band, processed through the town to the site of the chapel where a service was held. The first foundation was laid by William Boote, President of the Connexion from Liverpool.

William secondly married Mary Jane HARTLEY in 1894 in Blackburn (at Blackburn Registry Office or Registrar Attended). William and Mary had the following children:

  1. Robert Hartley DEAKIN, b. 1895, Wigan, d. 1917, France.
  2. George DEAKIN, b. 1896, Wigan, d. 1943, Lancashire.
  3. James Stanley DEAKIN, b. 1899, Wigan, d. 1974, Lancashire.

By 1900, William was a Wigan Councillor and a member of Brunswick Welseyan Chapel, Newtown, Scot Lane, Pemberton.

In the 1901 Census, William is listed as living at 14 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan, occupation ‘Jam Manufacturer’ with his family and widowed mother-in-law, Peggy HARTLEY (b. Darwen, Lancashire), aged 76 and one ‘General Servant/Domestic’ Annie Dowd, aged 22. The family later moved to 14 Park View, Wigan.

The Move from Wigan to Worcestershire

With the expansion of Deakin’s Jams, William purchased land surrounding Hampton Park, Evesham, and in 1906 purchased The Hall, Mount Pleasant, Pershore, Worcestershire. The Hall, also known as ‘The Mount’ or ‘Pershore Hall’, is now a Grade II listed building. It was built in 1862 by Mr Samuel Whitfield Dawkes (Daukes) for the Humphries family on the site of a former farm. The Hall had extensive grounds including a large pond in front of the house and a tennis court. William planted the surrounding acres with fruit adding to the several hundred acres of fruit he already owned at Hampton.

William R. Deakin at Hampton Park, Evesham.

William’s sons and their families were all involved in running the family business but son Samuel Wesley Deakin spent time in the United States4 firstly with the Methodist Episcopal Ministry and later at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

William expanded the business by building a jam and canning factory at Toddington near Winchcombe in Gloucestershire. During the First World War the factory supplied jam and bully beef to the troops.

In January 1917, William was appointed Chairman of the No. 2 Association of the Winchcombe branch of the War Savings Scheme.

William’s business expanded further in 1917 after the purchase of the Stoulton Estate5 between Pershore and Worcester and William moved to Norton Hall, Norton Juxta Kempsey, Worcestershire where he lived with his wife Mary until the mid 1930s. The large lake in front of Norton Hall is no longer there and the treelined driveway leading off the Worcester Road has gone – today the house is a nursing home. 

William and his sons continued to run the family business, which included the many acres of fruit and jam manufacturing and canning factories in Wigan, Toddington (Naunton Fields Jam Factory) and Norton (opposite Norton Hall) until 1923 when the new canning factory at Norton-juxta-Kempsey was built.

William’s wife, Mary died on 8 January 1935 (aged 75) at Norton Hall. Mary is buried in Wigan Cemetery (Lower Ince), plot A355, 11 Januar 1935. Probate was granted in Gloucester on 6 February 1935 to Bessie DeakinGeorge Deakin and James Stanley Deakin. Total effects £32,690 8s 2d.

After the liquidation of the family business William continued to live at 14 Park View, Wigan. William died on 21 April 1943, aged 81, at 12a Birmingham Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. Probate was granted in Birmingham on 14 August 1943 to: Rev Samuel Wesley Deakin (Clerk), John Bertram Deakin (Farmer) and William George Deakin (Major HM Army). Total effects £11,076 11s 2d. His estate was handled by March & Edwards, 15 Foregate Street, Worcester.

William is buried at Wigan Cemetery (Lower Ince), plot A355, with his second wife Mary, and daughter Mary Elizabeth (1889-1893).

Parents of William Robert DEAKIN

Samuel Pownall DEAKIN

Siblings of William Robert DEAKIN

George Edward DEAKIN
Martha Elizabeth DEAKIN
Samuel Pownall DEAKIN
Sarah Ann DEAKIN
Harriet Eliza DEAKIN

Brunswick Welseyan Chapel, Newtown, Scot Lane, Pemberton


  1. Source: Register of Births, July, August and September, 1862, Wigan, Vol 8c, page 52.
  2. Source: Register of Marriages, July, August and September, 1885, Wigan, Vol 8c, page 130.
  3. Source: Register of Deaths, October, November, December, 1892, Ormskirk, Vol 8b, page 518.
  4. Several members of the family travelled to Iowa; on 18 November 1911, William travelled with his daughter, Bessie DEAKIN on the SS Lusitania from Livepool to New York (arriving 24 November 2011) and then on to Alexander, Iowa to visit Samuel W. DEAKIN.
  5. William R. Deakin purchased the Stoulton Estate from Lady Henry Somerset, part of the Eastnor Castle Estate, on 18 July 1917. Lands included 2,800 acres across the parishes of Stoulton, Pershore, Norton-juxta-Kempsey, Worcestershire. The land was later sold in the mid-1930s.