Roger Wilson (1839 - 1906)

Roger was born in 1839 at Piercebridge, County Durham, 5th son of William Wilson and Mary Marriner. While his father and older brothers were Blacksmiths, Roger's occupation on every census is 'millwright' and later 'Foreman Millwright. By the time of his wedding, on September 29th 1861, his address is given as Wharf Street, Durham. However, his marriage to Mary Ann Maddison, took place at The Parish Church, Leeds. Yorkshire.

This splendid example of Gothic Revival architecture has been Leeds' parish church since 1841, when it was built to replace a medieval church that had fallen into disrepair. Thanks to some unsympathetic town planning, the church is somewhat cut off from the city centre but it is definitely worth taking the time to find. The interior is particularly stunning - look out for the original Victorian fittings that reinforce the High Church atmosphere. Guide book available.

Their first child was born in Leeds, but then the family moved back to Durham and in 1869 when my grandfather, Edward Maddison Wilson was born, he is shown as living at North Road, Crossgate, Durham. We have visited that street and there are no traces any more of the houses once there, although just up the road is St. Margaret's Church, where many weddings, christenings etc for the Wilsons took place.

Later, in 1881, the family has moved to Durham Road (no number given) Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, where his family has grown to seven children. Mary, William, Edward, Margaret, Emily, Roger and Thomas. By 1901 census, Roger and Mary Ann live at 5 Green Terrace West, Sunderland. He was a millwright every time his occupation was mentioned, and in 1901 at age 61 he is described as a "foreman" millwright. Emily is still living with them and is now a school-teacher, and their daughter Mary, now Mary Forbes, with two children, Alexandra and Frank, is their house-keeper. A six year old, Harold Middleton Wilson, also lives there, the son of the unmarried Emily. We don't know when Roger died, but as he was alive in the 1901 census, it is reasonable to assume he was still around when my Dad was born in November 1901.

General view of Bishopwearmouth showing Green terrace.

A famous building in Green Terrace. Circa 1900

Roger is always described as a millwright - I asked what a millwright was and this is the answer:

A Millwright was a highly skilled and specialised fitter who erected engines in proper alignment with pulleys,
shaftings, transmission gear, etc., having regard to friction, tension, vibration and other factors which aided or
prevented efficient working of the plant. The term originated in corn mills, etc., where water power was used, when
the tasks of fitting, erecting, gear-cutting, etc., both in wood and metal, were performed by a millwright.

Roger died in June 1906 at the age of 66. This is an extract of a list of wills, from which we see the occupations of two of his sons...



Household 1871 Census

Guidesleys Yard, Framwellgate, Durham

Roger Wilson Head, 31 Millwright, born Piercebridge
Mary A Wilson, 32 Born Durham City
Mary A, daughter, 9, born Leeds, Yorkshire
William, son, 4, born Durham City
Edward, son, 2, born Durham City

Household: 1881 Census

Durham Rd, Bishopwearmouth.

Roger WILSON Head M Male 41 Piercebridge, Durham, England Mill Wright
Mary Ann WILSON Wife M Female 42 Durham City, Durham, England
Mary Ann WILSON Daughter U Female 19 Leeds Dressmaker
William. WILSON Son Male 14 Durham City, Durham, England Scholar
Ed. Maddison WILSON Son Male 12 Durham City, Durham, England Scholar
Margaret. Elizabeth. WILSON Daughter Female 9 Durham City, Durham, England Scholar
Emily WILSON Daughter Female 7 Sunderland Scholar
Roger George. WILSON Son Male 5 Sunderland Scholar
Thos. Henry. WILSON Son Male 2 Sunderland

1891 Census

Roger (described as Flour Miller/Millwright)
Mary A Wilson
Mary A (daughter) 29, occupation Head Mantle Cutter
Margaret E (Daughter) 19 School Teacher
Emily (daughter) 17, Pupil/Teacher
Roger George (son) 15, Telegraph Messenger Boy
Thomas Henry (son) 12 scholar
Elizabeth Maddison (sister-in-law to Roger) single, no occupation given.

Therefore, Edward Maddison Wilson and William Wilson have moved away.

1901 Census

Roger Wilson, 61 Foreman Millwright, Durham, Piercebridge
Mary A Wilson, 62, Wife, Durham City
Emily Wilson, daughter, 27, School-Teacher, Durham City
Mary A Forbes, 36 (a mistake, presumably) daughter, housekeeper
Alexander J M Forbes, 5 Granddaughter, Durham
Frank R W Forbes, 7 months, Grandson, Durham
Harold Wilson, 6 Grandson, Durham
so as well as Edward and William, Thomas and Roger are now gone.

Did Roger George die young?

Wilson, Roger George
Record Type: Deaths
Age at death: 22
Quarter: June
Year: 1898
District: Sunderland
County: Durham
Volume: 10a

It's right age and right town

Thomas could be any one of these in the 1901 census EXCEPT he would be 22 and there are NO 22 year-old Thomases
Thomas Wilson 21 Durham Sunderland Durham Sunderland Labourer Shipyard
Thomas Wilson 21 Durham Sunderland Durham Sunderland Dock Labourer
Thomas Wilson 21 Sunderland Durham Durham Sunderland General Labourer


Birth - No
Marriage - YES
Death - No



William Wilson 1805
Mary Marriner 1806


Thomas 1828
Matthew 1830
George 1832
William 1835


Mary Ann 1862
William 1867
Edward Maddison March 25th 1869
Margaret Elizabeth 1871
Emily September 21st 1873
Roger George November 14th 1875
Thomas Henry July 10th 1878