William John Roydhouse 1832-1852

William John Roydhouse was my great-great-great grandfather.
Born in Islington, London he worked in many parts of England before immigrating to New Zealand. My research into his life story will be told over the next few weeks on this blog.
Relevant parts of his autobiographical letter are included in each post, the full letter to be published at the end of the series.
The time-frames are 1832-1852; 1853-1867; 1868-1869; 1870-1885; 1886-1907

At the time of William John’s birth on August 25th, 1832 the Roydhouse family lived in Brewer Street (now Friend Street). His father Thomas was 60 years of age, and Sarah his mother 38. Brother Thomas had been born in 1816, and sisters Louisa (1819) and Ann (1825)
Thomas and Sarah Roydhouse baptised the youngest of their four children, on 4th July, 1837 at St James, Clerkenwell. His brother Thomas baptised his son William and daughter Martha on the same day.

By 1841 the 8 year old William lived at number 54 Rawstorne Street, and was soon to be the only child at home with the marriage of Louisa 2 months after the census.

(1841 census)
William started working for William Henley in 1846, based in St.John Street, a short walk from his home.

The census of 1851 records William as an apprentice watchmaker, however he was continuously employed in the business of telegraph wires until 1868, most of that time with Mr.Henley.

(1851 census)



Mastwell St,

I, William John Roydhouse, was born in Rawstorne Street, Clerkenwell, England, on August 25th, 1832. At the age of 14 years I was apprenticed to W.T. Henley, Telegraphic Engineer, whose works were in St Johns Street, Clerkenwell. Mr. Henley patented the magnet as applied to telegraphy in the magnetic needle instrument. The invention was exhibited in Hyde Park. These instruments were used by The Magnetic Company . This company later amalgamated with The British Telegraph Company which used Highton’s single needle instruments. The new company was called British and Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, with offices in Cornhill City and after at Threadneedle Street, close to the Bank of England

The Company held six subterranean cables from Cornhill to Dover and Dee, and a submarine cable from Dover to Calais. These were all the wires the company had at that time. The first subterranean cable laid by W. T. Henley for the company was from Threadneedle Street to Liverpool. It contained twelve wires, and I was in sole charge of these wires and tested every length that was laid. The cable was composed of wires covered with gutta perch and hemp, and were soon injured and the insulation destroyed.
The cable was carried from Threadneedle Street to Saint George Square, Liverpool. 350 men were employed upon this work. The distance was 206 miles and the cable was laid at a depth of two feet. The contract of laying and installing this cable was completed in a year and nine months, and I was left in charge for twelve months to keep the cable in perfect working order.

Author: gorcat28

writing up my ancestors one week at a time

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