In the 1800s thousands of people from Cornwall’s mining communities left to make their way to coal and iron mining districts in the north of England and south Wales. But there was also a strong migration flow to London. Craftsmen and shopworkers were particularly likely to make the move to London, attracted by the greater possibilities of work, as were domestic servants.
William Henry Quiller might not have been the son of a craftsman. In fact, we don’t know what his father did as his mother Elizabeth was recorded as a widow in 1851 at the young age of 21. William was brought up by his aunt and uncle and his grandmother first at Barn Street in Liskeard, then Varley Cottages. His uncle was a gardener but William learnt the carpenter’s trade.
In the 1870s he set off for London where he married Bessie Kessell, also from Cornwall. Bessie was from Gwennap in the west which implies he probably met her in London. The couple then began a trek across London. Living in Newington in 1881, their five children in 1891 were born in five different locations as William and Bessie zig-zagged across south London from Newington to Camberwell and Walworth, then over to west London at Bayswater and Marylebone and finally back south again across the river to Battersea.
Bessie died in the early 1890s. William, obviously a fan of the Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, whose surname he gave as a second name to his youngest son, moved again from Battersea to Westminster. By 1911 he was living rather sadly alone in Pimlico, still following his carpenter’s trade.
Not far from William geographically but a very long distance socially, was the district of Brompton in South Kensington. There, Elizabeth Moon from Liskeard had in 1881 been one of the three domestic servants in the home of Charles and Jane Vacher. Charles Vacher was quite a well-known and prolific painter in watercolours, although he died not long after the 1881 census in 1883.