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William Desborough junior
Fruiterer, sugar boiler and ice cream maker
38 High Street

William Desborough was born in 1864 at Wymington, son of William and Rebecca. The family had moved to Succoth Yard in Rushden by 1880, before moving to Alfred Street.

In 1887 William junior established his business behind High Street, and was listed in Kelly's 1890 directory as a fruiterer and sugar boiler. He had moved into 38 High Street, when the fire in 1901 destroyed the cottages and shops. He soon built two new shops at 38 & 40 High Street.

A billhead - Established 1887

Looking north - c1898 before the fire destroyed these two shops

Advert from the W'boro News 1890

Advert from the Rushden Argus 1893

He had attended a Sunday School senior class in the 1880s and was sent a letter from his friend Samuel Knight, junior:

Part of a letter signed by Samuel Knight junior, posted Nov 12 1882

In the 1891 census he was 26 years old, and he worked as a sugar boiler, and also made ice cream. He had married Ada Williamson in 1888 and they now had a baby son. His sister, Laura, was helping as his assistant confectioner.

Their son Cyril William was born in 1890 and Robert George was born in 1894.

Cyril started at infant school and moved to the junior school at Alfred Street Board School in May 1897. In May 1901 his brother Robert joined him.

In July 1901 the family was living at 3 George Street when their cottage and the shop at 38 High Street, near the Succoth Church were destroyed in the fire at Cave’s shoe factory across the road:

At 2.20 the shops of Messrs. Everingham and King, drapers, and Mr. Desborough, confectioner, on the opposite side of the High-street had caught fire, owing to the heat of the flames on the other side of the road. Up to the present we cannot find out the cause of the outbreak, but it is said that the flames might probably have started in the sewing-room. It was in the dinner hour that the fire broke out.

At 2.40 Messrs. Everingham and King’s shop was almost gutted. Succoth Chapel is endangered. Mr. Cartwright’s shop is on fire. The leather goods, &c., from Messrs. Cunnington’s and George Denton’s factory are being removed. Portland-road is strewed with household goods. Goods are being stored in the Rectory grounds, the Public-hall, and Messrs. Morris’ grounds. The goods from the Union Bank are being removed.

At 2.43 Succoth Chapel caught fire and is now burning furiously. There is no hope of saving the Alfred-street schools. A house in Duck-street is on fire. Wellingborough Fire Brigade have arrived here. Two or three cottages in Drawbridge yard, at the back of Mr. Desborough’s are on fire.

1901 fire Everingham & King's
Photos from the C W Desborough collection in 2022
Ruins of Everingham and King's drapery and William Desborough's shop
The Succoth Church c1895, and the cottages lost in the fire

The shop and family home was lost. But within a short time William had plans passed to build two shops: one at 38 High Street, with living accommodation for his family, and one at 40 was rented to Alfred Gramshaw.

carnival passing
A carnival passing Gramshaw's and W Desborough's shops c1908

He owned a few other properties in High Street, and Rectory Road, as he kept a rent collection book, between 1896 and 1906. It was a small black cash book with a label stuck onto the opening page.

William was renting out properties. The first entries have just a few weeks collections, but no name or address. Other rentals were 40 High Street, space on the gable end of one shop for the Bill Posting Company, and for 12 & 14 Rectory Road.

the label
The label on the first page
Mr Everingham rented the newly built shop at 40 High Street
but the rent had doubled

A bank promisory note was signed by William on 23rd March 1910 and settled by payment to Wm Pendered.

promissory note
Promissory note 1910 for £10 to pay in twelve months - Cancelled by Settlement

In 1916 William bought a peice of land adjoining his property from the Succoth Church Trustees.

for land purchase envelope
above: Envelope addressed to Chesterfield, Court Avenue
left: Letter regarding purchase of land

By 1927 William had moved to 'Chesterfield', 196 Avenue Road, at the corner with Newton Road, where he began a shop in the front hall of the bungalow.

Cyril Desborough eventually became a projectionist and moved to Wellingborough. He took photographs at sometime for the local newspapers.

Robert left school in May 1909 for work, and was working as a tailor, having been at Wellingborough Technical School for four years. He was a partner with Mr J Newell, at Irthlingborough.

He enlisted in the Royal Engineers as Sapper 496946 and was on active service from May 1917 until July 1918. In July 1917 he was injured:

Rushden Echo, 24th August 1917

A Rushden Soldier’s Narrow Escape
Sapper R G Desborough – Wounded by Shrapnel

Mr. William Desborough, fruiterer, of High-street, Rushden, has received news that his son, Sapper Desborough, who enlisted in the spring of last year, went to France about three months ago, prior to which time he was in business as a tailor in partnership with Mr. J. Newell, of Irthlingborough. The soldier, whose wound is but slight, has had a narrow escape as described in a letter to his father. He writes under date August 20th:-

"A piece of shrapnel hit the back of my haversack, which I was carrying on my back. I did not feel it hit until afterwards, and didn’t know how I had been saved. It went in the back of my haversack, smashed my tin with my soap in it, and struck a tin a bully beef, and then still another tin, and shot it out of the end of the haversack, instead of going through my back as it must have done otherwise."

The piece of shrapnel finally embedded itself in Sapper Desborough’s back, but the wound is fortunately but superficial. He is now at a rest camp.

Robert returned to the front and in July 1918 he was taken to 2 Canadian General Hospital, Le Treport, having suffered gas poisoning.

In October 1918 he was transferred to defence work, until February 1919.

He suffered from chronic bronchial catarrh due to his service, and was granted a pension for life.

His brother Cyril had moved to Wellingborough. Perhaps following his parents’ deaths, Robert also moved to Wellingborough, where he died on the 19th July 1959 at Highfield Hospital.

Cyril died at Kettering in 1978.

Ada died in 1936 and William in 1937. They were buried together in Rushden Cemetery Grave DA 336:

DESBOROUGH William 1864 - 1937 Ada 1866 - 1936 "We which have believed do enter into rest".

Further Notes: William Desborough senior was an agricultural labourer, when he married Rebbecca, and they lived at Wymington. By 1881 they had moved to Succoth Yard in Rushden, with a growing family. William junior was 18, Ellen E 14, David 12, Louisa 9, Annie 8, Caroline 6, Amelia 3, Deborah R 1, and Sarah A, 1 month. Ten years later the family was living in Alfred Street, and Caroline was servant to Walter Wood, headmaster of the nearby school, and they had two more daughters, Maud and Florrie. William junior was living at a George Street cottage, and had opened his shop in High Street.

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