Life story retold by Jan Clark
William Knapp was born in Reading in 1851. According to the 1861 Census he lived at Salem Place, a court off Minster Street with James, his father who was then 38 and worked as a corn porter and Hannah, his mother. James was born at Eastbury and Hannah at Lambourn so, like many other workers from the countryside, had possibly moved to the town to find employment.
William had three sisters, Sarah, Eliza and Mary and a little brother, Charles. With the family lived Charles Smallbone, their lodger, who was 73 and worked as a gardener.
The following year, James died and was buried in the cemetery on 26 March.
By 1871 Hannah had remarried and the family was living with George Green, a labourer. The family had grown with the arrival of Thomas, who was now 9 and a step brother George who was 6. They all now lived at 6 Salem Place and William was now working as a gardener.
By 1871 William had left home and was lodging at 157 Kings Road with George Stoad and his wife and three young children. William was now a baker at the biscuit factory. Another lodger, John Flavin, was a shunter on the railway.
William was married in 1882 to Maria Ann Malins, a dressmaker, who was born at Easthampstead. By 1901 they had four children, Rosa, Gertie, Florrie and Arthur William who was not at home when the census was done. William was now a luggage porter on the railway and the family lived at 10 Somerset Place.
But by 1911 William, now 61, was an inmate in the workhouse. He may have lost his job through illness or infirmity. His wife was living at 6 Warren Place off Caversham Road with her son Arthur William, himself now a luggage porter at the station and with Florence. William died that year in the workhouse infirmary and was buried in a common grave on 27 May 1911. His wife died in 1917 and was buried in the cemetery on 20 November.
Buried in Section 25, mound