Wilson Nicholson was born in 1769 in Sunderland, Co. Durham. Whilst apprenticed to a shoemaker there, he was set upon by press gangs who were taking every apprentice they could lay their hands on. Wilson managed to flee, successfully eluding the gang who pursued him as far as Darlington.
Some time later, he came to Rochdale and married Sarah Ann Law of Healey Stones. The marriage took place in Manchester Cathedral on the 20th November 1797. The Cathedral records have the first name Joseph crossed out and corrected with Wilson. As we have never discovered a record of Wilson's birth, could it be possible that he changed his name at some point?
We know from his son's obituary that Wilson & Sarah raised their family in Blackwater Street, Rochdale, next door to the George & Dragon Inn. Robertson (see below) described Wilson as 'eccentric'. We know that at the age of 54, he walked to Sunderland with 13 y.o. Hamlet, which suggests that he still had family connections there.
In the 1841 & 1851 censuses, Wilson was living in Blackwater Street, Rochdale, a shoemaker.
He died on 14th February 1852 and is buried at St. Chad's.
Sarah Law was born in Todmorden. Her parents were probably Jeremiah Law, a clockmaker, and Ann Dawson. She has no occupation recorded on the censuses, but W. Robertson in The Social and Political History of Rochdale tells of her making a living applying leeches http://www.rochdale.gov.uk/living/libraries.asp?url=DPhuntleech . Her daughter Margaret is cited as a 'bleeder with leeches' in the 1861 census, so it was obviously a family business.
Sarah died 26th April 1856 aged 83 years. St. Chad's churchyard was closed at the time, so she was buried in Todmorden Old Church Yard.