William's middle name SCOONS (sometimes written as SCOONES) was an unusual and much appreciated distinction, although the reasons for this name are somewhat obscure. His father Thomas’s sister Ann BOORMAN married Dalby SCOONS. His other sister Jane Eliza BOORMAN married a William LILLYWHITE who named their youngest son Edward Scoons LILLYWHITE, and their daughter Mary Ann”Polly" married a John SCOONS. So they seemed quite partial to honoring this surname, apparently only associated by marriage. A clue to the reason why is provided by a family story published in “Notes on the Life and the Descendants of Thomas Boorman” compiled by Caroline Dyer c1954 (a granddaughter of Thomas through his oldest daughter Mary Ann):
"Grandfather Boorman's sisters … were always referred to by my Mother as Aunt Scoons, Aunt Lillywhite and Aunt Fairbridge and Aunt Louisa, as the last named remained unmarried … Aunt and Uncle Lillywhite immigrated to Australia in or about the year 1850, taking with [them] ten of their eleven children. One daughter, named Mary Ann, they left behind with Aunt and Uncle Scoons who, being childless themselves, wished to adopt her. She was generally known as Polly Scoons and she eventually married a nephew of Uncle Scoons and had three sons.”
William (minus his Scoons middle name) first appears in the 1851 census as a boy of 8 living with his parents and 4 siblings on High Street in Wandsworth, Surrey, a “scholar at home”. In 1861, William is found living in the BEVERLY household on High Street in Wandsworth, working as a servant and grocers’ assistant.
Four years later on 31 Aug 1865, William married Frances Jane “Fanny” ROBSON in the Congregational Church on the corner of Geraldine Road and High Street, Wandsworth. William was listed as bachelor and clerk residing at 3 West Street, Wandsworth. By 1871 they were living at 2 Cedar Terrace in Fulham with three young daughters who had been born, in succession, in Wandsworth Surrey, King’s Cross Middlesex, and Fulham Middlesex. So the family was obviously moving frequently while William gained work experience and looked for the right placement. In 1871 at age 28, William was already a master grocer with his own grocer’s assistant and a general servant in his employ.
A decade later in 1881, William was working as a clerk for a coal merchant in Battersea, living at 31 Ashbury Road with daughters Henrietta EA and Amelia A, and sons Walter W and Albert S. Their oldest daughter Frances Eliza “Lillie” was living with (or visiting) her Grandfather Thomas and Aunt Sarah in Wandsworth at this time. By 1891 William and family were still living in Battersea, and their youngest son Harry E (age 9, Terry’s grandfather) had been added to the household. Son Walter William had already left home and daughter Frances was living in Staffordshire with her Aunt Jane Hookey and family.
The 1901 Canada census lists the others already in Victoria BC. It tells us that William immigrated in 1892, and his wife and 3 children Alice, Albert and Harry followed in 1894. Henrietta arrived in 1893. Son William (this would be Walter William) is listed in his own household in Victoria with wife Mary, young daughter Kate E, and sister Kate E (Where did she come from? We have her 1877 birth certificate but can’t find this child in any England census, and thought she had died as a young child.) The 1901 Canada census also says that the siblings William [Jr.] and Kate E both immigrated in 1889. So it looks to me that Walter William was the one who initiated the exodus to Canada.
In 1897 the family (Albert, Harry, Wm J, Wm and WW) had moved to 129 Michigan Street in the James Bay area. Again there appears to be a duplication of one of the Williams. William [Sr] was still working as a clerk at Driard House. His son W W Boorman was working as a clerk at 44 Johnson street, which might be the location of E J Salmon used furniture store on Johnson where also a Wm J was working (I am assuming that these 2 entries were for the same person in spite of the variances). Others living with the family on Michigan Street were sons Albert and Harry. The four of them were still listed there in 1900.
Fortunately, at least part of the reason for their move from England has been provided in the family history written by cousin Caroline Dyer in about 1954:
“NOTE: William [son of William Scoons Boorman] immigrated to Canada when quite a youth intending to take up a Government grant of land and go in for farming. He found, on arrival there, that he was too young to be given a grant of land. His father (Uncle William) decided to go out to him, being then a middle aged man who had been a clerk most of his life. He went and was followed by his wife and all his family except for Lillie who then had a boarding house in Ventnor. Cousin William and Uncle William having died, Lillie decided to go out and join the rest of her family and she took with her Dorothy Freeman.”
It is indeed heartening to realize that this family found a way to stay together as long as life allowed, taking turns crossing the Atlantic ocean and (probably) the American continent on their way to its Pacific west coast where they reunited. They likely journeyed across Canada by train because, in 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed between Ontario and BC, making it much easier for people to travel west by land. We are so very grateful that they first forged the trail to such a beautiful country that we now call home.
Descendants of William and Sarah Boorman - 9 Generation Family Tree
For additional Boorman blog posts, click on the "Boorman" category to the right.
"52 Ancestors" is a reference to the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge I am participating in.
Reference the No Story Too Small blog by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow for more details.
It is giving me the much needed incentive to write and publish my family stories.