William Francis Ireland and his children

The Irelands

A cabinet card portrait of William Francis Ireland, his six children and their dog.

Born in Westminster in 1847, William Francis Ireland was the son of Francis (‘Frank’) Ireland, an upholsterer from Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire, and Caroline Louisa née Goodman, a dressmaker from Woburn in Bedfordshire. The family appear on the 1851 census living at 17 Norfolk Street in Marylebone. Three other families were at the same address, so the Irelands could only have occupied a portion of the house.

When the census was taken in 1871, William was a waiter working in Edinburgh.

On 20 December 1875 at St Mary’s Church in Islington he married Clara Phoebe Goodman, daughter of baker Thomas Goodman. According to his marriage licence, William was at that time a waiter at the Caledonian Hotel in Inverness.

Their marriage produced six children before Clara’s early death. She died, aged only 36, on 14 September 1887 at the Station Hotel in Wick (Northern Ensign and Weekly Gazette, 14 September 1887).

In 1890 William was in court ‘charged with having supplied liquors to parties at the bar of the [Station] hotel [in Wick] after ten o’clock.’ His defence argued that the drinks had been supplied by one of the guests staying in the hotel and that though William had had his bar open ‘it was for the convenience of those staying in the house.’ Although one bailie wanted a conviction, his brother magistrates differed from him ‘and consequently the charge was found not proven’ (Highland News, 8 March 1890).

According to an inked inscription verso, this photograph was taken in or shortly before 1891. Clara Ireland is conspicuous by her absence.

In 1891 William was a widower and ‘Hotel Keeper’ living in Bridge Street, Wick, in the far north of Scotland. Also present on the night of the census were his six children: Caroline (13), Thomas (12), Edith (10), Laura (8), John (6) and Robert (4). Also present on the night of the census was William’s sister-in-law, Frances Caroline Goodman. She was still a member of his household when the census was taken in 1901, when they were living at Alnwick in Northumberland. William gave his profession as ‘Hotel Proprietor.’ They were still living in Alnwick in 1911, at a different address, only William was now a ‘Hotel Proprietor, Retired.’

In 1902, when he was the landlord at the Northumberland Arms Hotel in Alnwick, William was fined £3 and costs for having supplied a customer, in fact an undercover police officer, with a pint of whisky that was a gill short of the full pint the customer had paid for. ‘Supt. Miller corroborated, and further stated that Miss Goodman came into the room. She was in charge of the house, the landlord not being at home. She said she did not measure the whisky, only guessed it from the bottle [which the police had themselves provided]. She was sorry indeed; she did not think it was so much short.’ Ireland said in his defence that ‘He did not suppose that he sold a pint of whisky outside the house once in six months’ (Morpeth Herald, 22 March 1902).

On 27 December 1912 William and his sister-in-law Fanny were married ‘at the Manse, Lundin Links.’ According to an announcement of the marriage, the bride was the ‘third surviving daughter of the late Thomas and Frances Goodman, of Mildmay Park, London. – Present address, The Belmont Hotel, Largo, Fife’ (John O’Groat Journal, 5 January 1912). Prior to the passing of the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act in 1907, it had been forbidden for a man to marry his dead wife’s sister.

William Francis Ireland died, aged 69, on 16 May 1916 at the Belmont Temperance Hotel in Lower Largo, near Lundin Links, Scotland. His estate was valued at £140.

Photographed by A. Johnston of Bridge Street, Wick.

An inked inscription verso reads: ‘Work party / With William’s love to Willie / 18 Feb[ruar]y 1891 / The Irelands,’


Code: 127372
© Paul Frecker 2023