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William Wooliscroft 1849 - 1917
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William Wooliscroft 1849 - 1917

of Rusholme, Lancashire

William Woolliscroft was born on July 21, 1849, in John Street, Rusholme, England, his father, John, was 50 and his mother, Mary Ann, was 42. William's father died when he was 5 years old.  By 1871 William and his mother had moved to Ashton Road in the Openshaw area of Manchester where he was a dentist. In 1873 William is listed in Post Office Directory as a dentist in Rochdale Road, Manchester. In 1877 he was listed in Slaters Directory as a dentist at 16 Collyhurst Street Manchester.

William must have served his apprenticeship as a dentist between 1861 and 1871. It was not until the Dentist Act introduced in 1878 that practitioners required ‘formal’ training. The following year The Dentist Register commenced. Dentists could be register if they could prove they had been practising dentistry for the previous five years. However, many dentists did not see the need to register. Between 1878 and 1921 the number of unregistered practitioners was larger than the numbers of registered dentists. (British Dental Association Museum

In 1877 William spent 2 months in Belle Vue Prison, Manchester on hard labour for assaulting his mother. The General Register for the prison states he was 5' 4” tall, of pale complexion with brown hair and eyes. At the time William gave his next of kin as his mother, Mary Ann Woolliscroft of Collier Street, Manchester.

Belle Vue Prison c1855

Belle Vue Prison c1855
Courtesy of Manchester Local Image Collection

In 1881 William was still practicing as a dentist and boarding with fellow dentist Horatio Harrop in Stockport Road, Gorton, Manchester. Until recently this was the last record I had for William. I still have been unable to identify him on the census returns between 1891 and 1911. William is not mentioned on the The Dental Register between 1891 and 1911. 

However, recently I have found out that William was admitted to Wakefield Prison in 1901 to serve ten days hard labour for begging. I have no idea why he was in Wakefield but on the admission papers he said he was a dentist born in Rusholme, Lancashire. At the time his name was given as William Lee Wooliscroft.

Wakefield Prison

Arial view of Wakefield Prison
copyright unknown

By 1902 William was living in Manchester and most likely the William Wooliscroft admitted to Withington Workhouse at the end of October for a week at his own request. By 1907 William had again fallen on hard times and the Creed Registers for Withington Workhouse show he was admitted at his own request in the April. He lived in the workhouse for the following 10 years. When he was admitted he gave his name as William Leigh Woolliscroft. He possibly died in summer of 1917 following his discharge from the workhouse.

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