Reeves, William (1846 WIL - 1915 HAM)


Reeves, William (aka MUSSELL, William)


Father: unknown
Mother: Ann REEVES

Birth: about 1846
Birth Source: Census and probable baptism

Death Source:

Spouse1: Elizabeth Jane CHESSELL


Piecing together William's early life prior to his marriage on the Isle of Wight in 1874 had proved to be challenging. Unfortunately, he was not wholly consistent with his age or place of birth. However, the Isle of Wight Family History Society's Index of Marriages provided the clue in its listing of an alternate surname of MUSSELL for William.

It is strongly suspected that William REEVES was the son of Ann REEVES and grandson of Henry Reeves. William was baptised on 6 September 1846 at the Parish Church of St Laurence, Downton, Wiltshire. Only his mother's name, Ann Reeves, is recorded. However, it is further suspected that this baptism occurred the day after his mother Ann Reeves was married to Robert MUSSELL on 5 September 1846 at the same church. His mother Ann died and was buried in Downton in January 1850. The birth of two individuals named William Reeves is noted by FreeBMD in the third quarter of 1846 in Alderbury Registration District (which includes the parish of Downton).

As William Reeves, this individual has not been identified on the 1851 census. However, there is a William MUSSELL of the right age, born in Downton to be found in the 1851 census as the grandson of Issac MUSSELL. Robert MUSSELL is shown immediately prior to William as Isaac's son. Robert & Ann's child JOHN MUSSEL (b1848) is also present in the same household, following William in the sequence.

Again as William Reeves, this individual has not been identifed on the 1861 census, but William MUSSELL (aged 14, born Redlynch) is again to be found in the hosuehold of Robert MUSSELL. William is now working as a Shepherd. His half brother John MUSSELL and step-grandfather Isaac Mussell are also part of the same household. William's step-father Robert has remarried in tha past decade and there are new young children arriving in the Mussell household.

On the 1871 census, William is not to be found in the MUSSELL household and there are no strong candidates named William MUSSELL, but see Research Note 1 below. However there is a William REAVES (sic) living on St Johns Road, Ryde, Isle of Wight. He is one of six lodgers, each of whom is recorded against an individual schedule number, in the house of James & Fanny BRINTON. He is working as a Labourer and his age is recorded as 23. His county of birth is given as Wiltshire and his place of birth is NK (not known).

The marriage of William Reeves to Elizabeth Jane CHESSELL is noted by FreeBMD as occurring in the first quarter of 1874 and the IoW FHS Marriage Indices indicate the wedding took place in the Wesleyan Chapel, Ryde.
The known children of William Reeves and Elizabeth (nee CHESSELL) are
  1. Bessie Reeves, born 1874
  2. Annie Reeves, born c1876
  3. Ellen Reeves, born 1877, probable d.reg. 3q1880
  4. Robert George Reeves, born 1879
  5. Emily Reeves, born 1881, probable d.reg 4q1887
  6. Frederick Joseph Reeves, born 1883
  7. William Charles Reeves, born 1886
  8. Alice Rose Mary Reeves, born 1888
  9. Olive Kate Reeves, born 1889
  10. Nellie Isabel Florence Reeves, born 1892
  11. Willie Reeves, born c1893
With the exception of Annie & Willie, all the above births were registered in the Ryde Sub-District. 1

At the time of the 1881 census, William and Elizabeth are living on High Street, Oakfield on the Isle of Wight. He is shown as aged 30 and born at Salisbury, Wiltshire. He is employed as a labourer. In addition to William & Elizabeth, there are three children in the household, Elizabeth (age 8), Annie (age 5) and George (17 months), all born Oakfield. See Research Note 2 below.

On the 1891 census, William and Elizabeth are again to be found on High Street, Oakfield. William is now shown as being 43 years old and claims birth in Dowton (sic Downton), Wiltshire. He is again working as a Labourer. The household is completed by their children George (age 11), Joseph F (7), William C (5), Alice R M (3) and Olive K (1).

By the time of the 1901 census, William and Elizabeth are yet again found on High Street, Oakfield. William's details are consistent with the 1891 census; he is now aged 53, was born at Downton, Wiltshire and is working as a Labourer. Three children complete the household, daughters Alice (aged 13) and Olive (11) plus son Willie (aged 8). It is possible that son Willie is an enumeration transcription error for daughter Nellie who is otherwise missing from this census but has been identified on the 1911 census and is known to have survived to marry in 1915. Willie has not yet been identified on the 1911 census.

The 1911 census shows William was aged 64 and was was born as Salisbury, Wiltshire. His occupation is given as General Labourer but no "Industry or Service" is given. His wife Elizabeth Jane indicates they have been married for 37 years and that 11 children have been born to the marriage of whom 9 were then surviving and two had died. The household is completed by Florence Cooper, who is described as a Granddaughter. See Research Note 3.

It is believed William's death, at the age of 66, is that recorded during the first quarter of 1915 in the Ryde Sub-District of the Isle of Wight.

Research Notes

(1) On the 1871 Census there is a William MUSSELL at the White Horse Inn at Downton. This individual is a servant in the household of William & Elizabeth CROCKER where he working as an Osler. He gives his age as 20, which, whilst not inconsistent with the age given by William Reeves in 1881, is questionable. He gives his place of birth very precisely as Standlynch, Wiltshire. Standlynch is a small hamlet to the north of the village of Downton. By contrast, Redlynch is to the east of the village of Downton.

However, his occupation as an Osler is probably the key differentiating fact. On the 1861 census, a William Mussell (son of Charles & Fanny) is working as a Carter's Boy. This individual is aged 13 and was born in Redlynch. He is not in his parent's home on the 1871 census or 1881 census returns.

(2) Whilst there is little doubt this our subject and his family, there are some unexpected discrepancies in the information in the 1881 census enumeration.
  • William's place of birth is given as Salisbury, which is the nearest major town/city in Wiltshire to Downton. The same place is repeated on the 1911 census.
  • Their eldest child is named as Elizabeth and this is suspected to be Elizabeth Jane CHESSELL who was William's stepdaughter, rather than Bessie. It is believed Bessie was with her maternal grand parents George & Elizabeth CHESSELL at the time of the 1881 census.
  • Their youngest child is named as George, whereas at birth he was registered as Robert George. He also appears as simply George on the 1891 census.
  • Their middle child Annie Reeves is most problematic. Firstly there is no obvious birth registration of a child by that name. It was initially assumed this might be an alternate name for Ellen, but it is strongly suspected that Ellen died in the third quarter of 1880, aged 3 and consequently would not appear on the 1881 census. Annie has also been identified on the 1891 census in domestic service.
(3) On the 1911 census, William's wife Elizabeth Jane (nee CHESSELL) indicates that 11 children have been born to the marriage of whom 9 were then surviving and two had died. Whilst nine children are positively known based on Surname & Mother's maiden name1, registrations for the births of Annie & Willie have yet to be positively identified. It is possible they were not registered, or that the registrations took place outside of the Isle of Wight.

Additionally the birth of a Elizabeth Jane CHESSELL was registered during 1872 in the Ryde Sub-District, with no other surname being noted, suggesting she was the child of an un-married mother. FreeBMD notes the same birth during the second quarter of 1872. It is strongly believed this is the 8 year old Elizabeth shown as William's daughter on the 1881 census. This Elizabeth married George Henry COOPER and two of their five children were registered with mother's maiden name of Chessell and three with mother's maiden name of Reeves. This Elizabeth is the mother of grand-daughter Florence Cooper from the 1911 census.


Baptism:   FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N6SJ-XDQ
Marriage: FreeBMD 1874, March quarter, Isle of Wight Registration District
                  IoW FHS Index to Marriage Records Reeves - Chessell Marriage
Death:      FreeBMD 1915, March quarter, Isle of Wight Registration District
                  IoW FHS Index to Death Records William Reeves Death's betwen 1911 and 2010
1851 Census: HO107, Piece 1846, Folio 223 face, Page 28 - as William MUSSELL
1861 Census: RG9, Piece 1314, Folio 20 face, Page 7     - as William MUSSELL
1871 Census: RG10, Piece 1167, Folio 44 reverse, Page 32
1881 Census: RG11, Piece 1181, Folio 40 face, Page 23
1891 Census: RG12, Piece 0892, Folio 77 reverse, Page 28
1901 Census: RG13, Piece 1026, Folio 22 face, Page 36
1911 Census: RG14, Piece 05727, Reg.Dist. 93 (Isle of Wight), Sub Dist. 03 (Ryde) Enum.Dist. 12, Schedule 295

1    Reeves-Chessell Children: IoW FHS - http://www.isle-of-wight-fhs.co.uk/bmd_1/births/b_results_1.php?surname=Reeves&forenames=&oname=CHESSELL&born_start=1870&born_end=1910&Search=Search
Contributors to this page: MartinB. .
Page last modified on Thursday 11 of December, 2014 05:22:47 CST by MartinB..