Walter William and Ada

This is a brief account of the history of the Porter family, being the ancestry of Walter William Porter, a career soldier in the Green Howards, originating in London but ending his life in Scarborough, and his wife Ada Edginton, born in the Bampton area of Oxfordshire.

Walter William Porter married Ada Edginton on 26th December 1906 in St.Peter's Church, Battersea. At the time, Walter was a soldier in Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment) - popularly known as the Green Howards. He had spent just over seven years in India with the regiment, where he was awarded the Indian General Service medal with clasps for the Punjab Frontier 1897-98 and Tirah 1897-98, a medal which was awarded to members of the Tirah Expeditionary Force. The majority of Walter's service, however, was at the regimental HQ in Richmond, North Yorkshire, where he rose to the rank of Corporal. He retired from the Army in June 1913 at the age of 40 after over twenty years service, and moved to Scarborough where he became the caretaker of the regiment's Drill Hall.

With the advent of the First World War, Walter re-enlisted in the Regiment, becoming a Sergeant and spending most of the War training new troops. He ended the War with a short period of service in the East Yorkshire Regiment.

Walter and Ada had six children, five boys and a girl. Unfortunately they lost their only daughter, Ada Elizabeth, at the age of only 5 months in February 1913.

Walter William was the son of William Porter and Mary Ann Cunnington. He was born on 13th April 1872 at 18 Bennett Street in Southwark (now Rennie Street). At the time of Walter's birth, his father was a domestic coachman, having risen from being an ostler in his youth. Mary Ann's origin is somewhat obscure - perhaps deliberately so. In two of the three censuses in which I have traced her, she gives no place of birth, and in the third, she is listed as being from 'Lincolnshire'.

Mary Ann appears to have come to London some time before 1851. She seems to be working as a housemaid at the Saracen's Head Tavern on Skinner Street in the 1851 census. This is a slight guess on my part, as there is no concrete evidence to link the Mary Ann Cunnington who became William Porter's 'wife' in the early 1850s with the Mary Cunnington who was working in the Saracen's Head in the census - but the facts that William was living barely yards from the Tavern, that he was working as an ostler in, one would guess, one of the local taverns, coupled with the fact that she is the only Cunnington in the vicinity in the census, and is the right age, suggest that the likelihood is very strong that this is our girl!

There is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that she came from the village of West Deeping, in the south of Lincolnshire. This would make her the daughter of John Cunnington and Mary Lansbury. This strong circumstantial evidence may be wrong, however, with the discovery that she cites Henry Cunnington, gardener, as her father on her [long delayed] marriage certificate. Clearly there are still mysteries to solve here.

Mary Ann and William's marriage proved to be an enigma for a long time. Although they claim to be married in the relevant censuses and on the birth certificates of all their children, they did not actually marry until 25th April 1881, when they were 49 and 50 years old, 24 years after their first child was born!

Both William and Mary Ann died shortly after, in 1883 - William on 10th March, of a heart condition, and Mary Ann on 6th September of what is described as "diarrhoea 14 days". Rather her than me!

William and Mary Ann had four children altogether - Henry, Mary Ann, Maria and Walter William.

Henry James was the eldest, born on 10th Feb 1857 while the family was briefly living in Shoreditch at 94, Paul Street. Mary Ann was born on 18th June 1859 and Maria on 16th November 1860. Both the girls were born at 5 Smiths Place, Snow Hill, London. This small court no longer exists, but it was located very close to the Saracen's Head tavern and the church of St. Sepulchre. There has been extensive remodelling of the Snow Hill area with the building of the Holborn Viaduct in the 1860s.

William Porter was, interestingly, also the son of William Porter and Mary Ann. His father was also an ostler.

At the time of the 1841 census, the family were living at 5 Smiths Place, Snow Hill - the same place as William was living later in the late 1850s. Both William and Mary Ann are listed as being from outside Middlesex, but by the time of the 1851 census, when more information might have been forthcoming, William had already died, aged only 36, of dropsy. At the time of his death, William was living at no.16 Elliott's Court off the Old Bailey - mere yards from Snow Hill.

After William's death, Mary Ann remarried, to Thomas Drew, another ostler. On the 26 July 1842 they had a daughter, Ann, while they were living in Elliott's Court - now at no.18. At the time of the 1851 census the Drew family - including William, Edward and Elizabeth Porter - were living a short distance away on Fleet Lane.


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Created and maintained by Chris Porter. (c.e.porter@dunelm.org.uk)
Last updated: 14 August 2015