The Wagner Journal

David Cormack, Turning the Telescope Round

David Cormack, Turning the Telescope Round

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March 2018, Volume 12, Number 1, 27–36.

This year will see the 150th anniversary of the birth of the bank clerk William Roberts. He was born at 16 Waterhouse Street, Everton, on 30 November 1868, the son of a tailor named Seth Roberts, from Pwllheli in Gwynedd, northwest Wales, and his wife Harriet, née Spark, from Childer Thornton on the Wirral peninsula. Both parents had previous marriages (Harriet’s first married name was Jones), and children, some of whom were brought up with William. For some reason, his mother didn’t register William’s birth until 8 January 1869.

In 1894 William Roberts married Kate Eleanor Woolett, born in Everton in 1868. They were in their twenties and surely had much to look forward to. In 1901 the census recorded them at 54 Grove Street, Liverpool (he aged 32, she 33), along with William’s widowed mother Harriet (aged 71), and an Irish general servant Susan Cahill (aged 21). After a long illness, Graves’ disease of the thyroid diagnosed five years earlier, Kate died of heart failure aged 50 on 13 October 1918 in Edgbaston; no post-mortem was considered necessary. Their last years were not happy. They had no children. Kate’s death certificate, however, is in the name of Kate Eleanor Newman, with, under ‘Occupation’, ‘Wife of Ernest Newman Journalist’.

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