This blog page details my direct Backler ancestors who have been traced to the Birmingham area. From there they relocated to Warrington, and subsequently my grandfather started the East Sussex branch of the family (see my blog page on East Sussex Backlers).
My 3 x great grandfather, William Backler, married Ann Bates (born 1817-1884), from Derbyshire on 30th November 1843 at St. Peter and St. Paul parish church, in Aston, Warwickshire, part of the Birmingham conurbation, where they lived at Aston Road, Duddeston. William’s father Henry was described as a Warehouse Clerk on the marriage certificate.
By the 1851 census William and Ann were living at 67 Inge Street, St. Martins, Birmingham and William was listed as an Inspector of Police born in Somersetshire. In the Corporation of Birmingham directory for 1862, he was recorded as the Superintendent of the Fifth Division based at Ladywood Lane, so his police career continued to prosper. Living with the family in the 1851 census was Ann Bates aged 64, William’s mother-in-law, born in Derbyshire and, perhaps in a throwback to his previous career as a cabinet maker, Samuel Holden was noted as a lodger aged 53, born Worcester, whose profession was also a cabinet maker.
William died on 20th November 1890, whilst living at 5 Weston Road, Handsworth, Staffordshire, according to Probate records, leaving an estate valued at £418. Elizabeth Carter, his daughter – see below – was granted rights to administer his estate on behalf of the next of kin. The Birmingham Daily Post of 27th November 1890 reported that William’s funeral had taken place the previous day and that he had died following a short illness after retiring on a pension in 1880. Attending the funeral were Superintendents Black, Noon, Stephenson and Shaw along with ex-Superintendents Sheppard and Lomax plus ex-Drill Inspector Wilson. Quite a turnout from the Birmingham police!
My 2 x great grandfather was William Henry Backler, born 19th February 1844 then baptised in the parish of St. Philip, Birmingham on 25th March 1844. His father was noted as an Officer of Police living at Inge Street. According to Birmingham Postal Service records, viewed via Ancestry, William Henry became a sorter and was noted as such on 14th May 1864.
By the time of his untimely death from diphtheria at the age of 35 on 30th December 1879, he had risen to be a comptroller. William Henry died in the police station at Ladywood Road, but he did find time to father a child, apparently out of wedlock, as there is no record of a marriage or an identity for my 2 x great grandmother. Probate records show his estate valued at under £200 and it was granted to his father, noted as a superintendent of police, on 2nd February 1880. At the time, William Henry and his father William both lived in Ladywood Road, Birmingham, probably at the same address, which was the police station.
After William Henry, William and Ann had three further children: Elizabeth Anne Backler (born 25th January 1846 – died 1907), Emily Jane Backler (born 11th October 1847) and Clara Sidney Backler (born 1851, died 25th September 1853). According to the Derbyshire Advertiser of 9th March 1894, Emily Jane was married on 1st March at St. Giles Church, Aston, Birmingham to Henry H. Loveday of the Midland Railway, Derby.
On Clara’s death certificate, her father is described as an Inspector of Police, living at Inge Street, Birmingham, which on the 1851 census was noted as at number 67. Clara died of Scarlatina and Pneumonia.
Elizabeth married Joseph Carter (1843-?), of The Willows, Erdington on 27th February 1869, according to Aris’s Birmingham Gazette of 6th March 1869, at Edgbaston Old Church. She may have had George Henry Backler (born 1864) out of wedlock, who was baptised at St. Martins, Birmingham on 11th March 1864 . When her father William died, the Carters were living at 82 Hampton Road, Handsworth, Birmingham according to the death certificate and this was the address recorded on the 1891 census. In the 1861 census, Elizabeth was working as a milliner and the family were living at 8 Reservoir Retreat, Aston, because by then Mabel A. (born 1870) and Frederick W. (born 1871) had arrived. Elizabeth and Joseph had five more children recorded in the 1881 census and these were their ages when they lived at 337 Albert Road, Aston: Maude 8, Elsie C. 7, Nellie M. 5, Earnest E. 2 and Charles H. 1. In the 1891 census Gertrude aged 9 and Joseph W. aged 2 had also appeared on the scene.
My great-grandfather was another William Backler, a baker, who married Ann Maria Smith on 3rd June 1888 in Bloxwich at the parish church, when she was aged 18 and he was aged 29. On their marriage certificate William Henry also gave his profession as baker. Ann Maria died in 1918 aged 47 in Warrington and William survived about another ten years.
UPDATE 3rd February 2022: The 1921 census is now available and the entry for my great-grandfather William Backler says he was 64 years and 3 months old. As the census was taken in June 1921, this would place his birth approximately in March 1857. If this is correct, his purported father, William Henry would have only been 13 when William was born. Furthermore, William Henry was living in Birmingham, and William was born in Bristol. It seems unlikely that a 13 year old travelled that distance to father a child and then travelled back again. More research is needed because the William Henry shown as his father on my 2 x great grandfather’s William’s marriage certificate may well be a different person. This casts doubt on the Backler family connections prior to great-grandfather William.
One interesting observation is that William appears to have been recorded in the 1901 census twice. Initially my research was thrown into confusion, because I thought that there might be a newly discovered William with the potential for another line of enquiry. Thankfully, there were enough clues in both entries to conclude, as best as it was possible to do, that it was the same person.
The first entry records him as a Bristol born bread baker aged 36, along with the rest of his family at 13 Mill Street, St Helens, Lancashire; wife (Ann) Maria 30, William 13, Charles 11, Thomas 7, Elizabeth 4 and Frederick 1 (my grandfather). Apart from his age being incorrect, because he was aged 41 (11 years older than his wife), and the family surname being recorded as Bachler, the entry appears to be correct.
The second entry records him as a Bristol born bread baker aged 40, along with son Thomas 6 and daughter Elizabeth 5, both born at Pleck, a district of Walsall. He was visiting George H. Francis and his family at 48 Providence Lane, Walsall and also at that address was a boarder, John Smith aged 67, a coal miner, who was his wife’s father. John Smith was shown as a widower, born in Bloxwich, when he was actually born in Heather, Leicestershire, which raised some doubts that he could be another John Smith. However, George H. Francis, was one of the two witnesses to William and Ann’s marriage, which is a strong enough connection for me to conclude that this is the correct John Smith and William was engaged on a family visit back to Walsall. The other inaccuracies in this entry are William’s age and also the ages of both of his children being 1 year different (one higher and one lower).
It looks like either the census form at St. Helens was pre-completed before he left for Walsall or his wife thought it best to include him and their two accompanying children anyway, despite him being away on a visit.
William and Ann Maria had ten children, two of whom died in the year they were born: Minnie Backler in 1887 and Frank Backler in 1893. Elizabeth Regina Backler, managed to reach ten years of age (1897-1907). Elizabeth and Thomas (see below) were the children who accompanied their father on a return trip to Walsall, mentioned above, that caused the duplication in the 1901 census returns.
Thomas Edward Backler, a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action between 11.00 am and 11.25 am on Sunday 22nd April 1917 during the First World War at the age of 22. He was in C Battery of the 34th Brigade, which came under heavy, continuous fire at Roclincourt and he was killed at the same time as six other brave men. He is buried in the North section of Albuera Cemetery at Bailleul-Sire-Berthoult in Northern France, near Arras. This detail was recorded in an Ancestry search.
This left my great uncles: William Backler born in 1888 and Charles Earnest Backler born in 1890, plus my grandfather Frederick, completing the first seven, who were all born in Walsall north of Birmingham. Sometime between 1891 and 1901, the family moved to Lancashire, settling in Warrington, and then three great-aunts were born: Isabella Beatrice Backler (1902), Florence Alice Backler (1904) and Elizabeth Backler (1914).
There will be more on the Backlers in Warrington in a later blog page.