WILLIAMSON OF HOLBECK
My descent from the Williamson family is through Nellie Atkinson (recorded as Nellie Williamson in the 1901 and 1911 census returns) who was born in 1885 while her mother Sarah Jane (Greenwood) Atkinson was married to John Atkinson. Nellie’s birth certificate gives John Atkinson as Nellie’s father, and he was the informant when the birth was registered. However, DNA tests eliminate any reasonable possibility that John was the biological father. The evidence indicates that Nellie’s true father was Edward Williamson, Sarah Jane’s second husband.
I thank John Kitchen for sharing DNA test results which allowed the identity of Nellie’s father to be ascertained. John Kitchen is a great-grandson of Randall Atkinson, a brother of Sarah Jane Greenwood’s husband John Atkinson. The brothers were sons of Samuel and Elizabeth (Dickinson) Atkinson (see here). John Kitchen has a significant number of DNA links which support his Atkinson descent, with some matches through Samuel and some through Elizabeth. The ones through Elizabeth in particular are compelling, with multiple strong matches with descendants of Elizabeth’s siblings as well as matches with a descendant of Elizabeth’s uncle Samuel Dalmer and with a descendant of James Hooper, brother of Elizabeth’s maternal grandmother. By contrast, my father and I do not share any of the matches through the Dickinsons, Dalmers or Hoopers. Furthermore, neither of us appears as a DNA match with John Kitchen. If my line through the Atkinsons was correct then John and my father would be third cousins. It would be very unusual for such a close relationship to not show as a match. My father and I have strong matches through the Greenwoods which support our descent from Nellie and her mother Sarah Jane Greenwood. Therefore, the conclusion is that John Atkinson was not the father of Nellie.
John Atkinson and Sarah Jane separated within a few years of Nellie’s birth, probably between 1887 (when John was the informant for the birth of a child recorded as his and Sarah Jane’s) and 1891 (when the census returns show Sarah Jane as a visitor in the household of her brother Albert Greenwood), and definitely by 1894 (when Sarah Jane, then “of no occupation”, gave birth to a daughter Gladys Williamson). Thereafter, Sarah lived with Edward Williamson as his wife although they were not married until shortly after John died in 1912. Nellie is shown as a daughter of Edward Williamson in the 1901 census returns, and the will of Edward Williamson also describes Nellie as his daughter. Indeed, there are some DNA matches which corroborate this relationship. My father, Derek Vincent Davies, has matches of 26 cM and 18 cM with descendants of the Williamson family of Holbeck (Edward’s paternal ancestors). He also has a match of 11 cM with a descendant of John Sykes, brother of Edward’s mother Emma Sykes.
The patrilineal ancestry of Edward Williamson is straightforward back to his grandfather Benjamin Williamson who was born at Holbeck in 1778, with the parish register giving Benjamin’s father as John. Further identification of this John Williamson is somewhat more complicated, but he appears to be the son, baptised in 1756, of John and Lydia (Waddy) Williamson. Derek Vincent Davies, a great-grandson of Edward Williamson, has DNA matches of 26 cM and 18 cM with descendants of two sons of Joseph Williamson who was baptised at Holbeck in 1767, son of John Williamson. Joseph’s mother was evidently the Lydia Waddy or Waddey who married John Williamson in 1752 (indeed, Joseph had a daughter named Lydia). A connection with the Waddy family is also suggested by the presence of John Waddy as a witness at the marriage of Benjamin Williamson and Mary Rhodes in 1796. However, Lydia Waddy was apparently baptised in 1726 and therefore would be too old to plausibly be the mother of the Benjamin Williamson born in 1778. No evidence has been found that Lydia died before Benjamin was born so the possibility of her husband John being able to remarry and be the father of Benjamin is doubtful. On the other hand, John and Lydia did have a son called John who fits very well chronologically to be Benjamin’s father. A search for the younger John’s marriage reveals that John Williamson married Elizabeth Leathley at St Peter, Leeds, on 15 September 1777. The parish records show that John and Elizabeth resided in Holbeck. One of the witnesses at the marriage was William Williamson, whose signature seems to be that of the William Williamson who married Hannah Parkinson, widow, in 1789, and who was evidently John’s brother, baptised in 1754.
Following Benjamin in 1778, there is a gap in the Holbeck baptisms of children of John Williamson until that of John, son of John Williamson, in January 1785, which is then followed by several more children of John Williamson over the following years. Holbeck was a chapelry in the parish of Leeds and the Leeds parish registers have two John Williamson marriages in the likely period to be that of the John whose son John was baptised at Holbeck in 1785. John Williamson and Elizabeth Cartwright were married on 1 March 1784, and John Williamson, shoemaker, and Elizabeth Rhodes were married on 6 June 1784. Their residences within the parish are not stated in either entry. The John married to Elizabeth Cartwright can be safely identified as an army officer who died at Sandal Magna in 1829 and who had a daughter baptised at Dewsbury in 1797, so he is unlikely to be the Holbeck man. The John married to Elizabeth Rhodes was much more probably the one whose son was baptised at Holbeck in 1785. There is a question as to whether the husband of Elizabeth Leathley was the same person as the husband of Elizabeth Rhodes, but the bridegrooms’ signatures in the marriage entries do not seem alike. Furthermore, a John Williamson was buried at Holbeck in 1844 aged 80. This John would have been implausibly young to marry Elizabeth Leathley in 1777, but old enough to marry Elizabeth Rhodes in 1784.
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1 HENRY WILLIAMSON of Holbeck, Yorkshire, weaver, was born about 1703. He married on 8 February 1724/25 at St Peter, Leeds, MARY HAWCROFT. Mary was born about 1702 and was buried on 22 September 1747 at Holbeck.
Children of Henry and Mary (Hawcroft) Williamson:
2 iii JOHN WILLIAMSON (1730-1796); m LYDIA WADDY.
viii BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON, bap 1 Jun 1740, Holbeck.
ix JOSEPH WILLIAMSON, bap 17 Sep 1742, Holbeck.
2 JOHN WILLIAMSON of Holbeck was baptised on 21 June 1730 at Holbeck and buried on 21 July 1796 at Holbeck. He married on 24 August 1752 at St Peter, Leeds, LYDIA WADDY, daughter of John and Lydia (Mann) Waddy. Lydia was baptised on 12 October 1726 at Holbeck and buried on 13 February 1796 at Holbeck.
Children of John and Lydia (Waddy) Williamson:
3 iii JOHN WILLIAMSON (1756-1817); m ELIZABETH LEATHLEY.
3 JOHN WILLIAMSON of Holbeck, wool comber, was baptised on 11 July 1756 at Holbeck and buried on 16 October 1817 at Holbeck. He married on 15 September 1777 at St Peter, Leeds, ELIZABETH LEATHLEY, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Gott) Leathley. Elizabeth was baptised on 3 September 1755 at Holbeck.
Child of John and Elizabeth (Leathley) Williamson:
4 i BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON (1778-1859); m MARY RHODES.
4 BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON of Holbeck, clothier, was born on 7 June 1778 at Holbeck and died on 5 October 1859 at Holbeck. He married on 13 December 1796 at St Peter, Leeds, MARY RHODES, daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Gibson) Rhodes (see here). Mary was born on 17 March 1777, baptised on 27 April 1777 at Holbeck, and died on 23 September 1845 at Holbeck.
Children of Benjamin and Mary (Rhodes) Williamson:
i JOHN WILLIAMSON, b 30 Apr 1797, bap 27 Jun 1797, Holbeck.
v BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON of Holbeck, clothier, b 24 May 1805, Holbeck, bur 14 Aug 1867, Beeston; m(1) 12 Jan 1827, St Peter, Leeds, MARY FAWCETT; m(2) 24 Jun 1835, St Peter, Leeds, ANN STOCKS.
ix JAMES WILLIAMSON of Holbeck, engineman, b Holbeck, bap 15 Oct 1815, Holbeck, bur 6 Feb 1870, Beeston; m(1) 28 Jun 1838, St Peter, Leeds, ANN WAGER; m(2) 14 Jul 1850, St Peter, Leeds, ELIZA RHODES.
5 xi JOHN WILLIAMSON (1822-1897); m(1) MARY WILSON; m(2) EMMA SYKES.
5 JOHN WILLIAMSON of Holbeck, cordwainer, was born at Holbeck, baptised on 9 June 1822 at Holbeck, and died on 26 July 1897 at Armley. He married first, on 25 June 1860 at St Peter, Leeds, MARY WILSON, daughter of Nathan and Hannah (Oddy) Wilson. Mary was born on 7 December 1830 at Bramley and buried on 19 April 1863 at Beeston. John married second, on 13 February 1865 at St Peter, Leeds, EMMA SYKES, daughter of Joseph and Martha (Holmes) Sykes (see here). Emma was born on 29 March 1830 at Holbeck and died on 4 November 1905 at Armley.
Children of John and Mary (Wilson) Williamson:
Child of John and Emma (Sykes) Williamson:
6 iii EDWARD WILLIAMSON (1866-1936); m SARAH JANE (GREENWOOD) ATKINSON.
6 EDWARD WILLIAMSON of Armley, butcher, was born on 8 February 1866 at Holbeck and died on 27 December 1936 at Leeds. He married on 17 November 1912 at Leeds register office, SARAH JANE (GREENWOOD) ATKINSON, widow of John Atkinson and daughter of James and Ann (Sowden) Greenwood (see here). Sarah was born on 9 March 1859 at Wortley and died on 22 February 1929 at Leeds.
Children of Edward Williamson and Sarah Jane (Greenwood) Atkinson:
 John Waddy was also a witness at the marriage of William Shaw and Mary Williamson at St Peter, Leeds, in 1803. Mary was perhaps the one of that name baptised at Holbeck in 1780, daughter of Charles Williamson.
 War Office records (National Archives, WO 42/49).
 Marriage bond (Borthwick Institute). Henry Williamson may be the one of that name buried on 13 Apr 1757 at Holbeck, although that might be his namesake son. A Henry, son of Laurence Williamson, was baptised at St Dennis, York, in 1703, and it can be seen that Henry and Mary (Hawcroft) Williamson had a son called Laurence. However, Henry Williamson, stuffweaver, son of Laurence Williamson, carpenter, is listed among the freemen of York in 1733, suggesting that Laurence’s son Henry was still associated with York at a time when Mary Hawcroft’s husband Henry Williamson was living in the Holbeck area. This reduces the probability of their identity, but does not rule it out altogether. See Francis Collins, ed., Register of the Freemen of the City of York, vol. 2 (Durham, 1900), 241 (https://archive.org/details/registeroffreem02surtuoft/page/240/mode/2up).
 Marriage bond (Borthwick Institute).
 Holbeck parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com). There was also a John, son of John Williamson, baptised at Holbeck on 2 Sep 1726, but John, son of John Williamson, was buried there on 7 Feb 1729/30.
 Holbeck parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com). The entry does not give her forename, identifying her only as “Wife of John Williamson”. This gives the impression that her husband was still alive (some other burials the same year using “Wid.” for widow) and this seems the likely entry for Lydia, rather than the “Wife of John Williamson” who was buried at Holbeck in 1804. There was also an earlier John Williamson in the Holbeck area but he already had children by the 1720s so it is improbable that the 1796 burials refer to him or his wife.
 St Peter, Leeds, parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com). She may be the “Elisabeth Wife of John Williamson” buried at Holbeck on 11 Feb 1789, or the unnamed “Wife of John Williamson” buried there on 3 Jul 1804.
 Holbeck parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com). There was also an Elizabeth, daughter of Garvas Leathley, baptised at Armley in 1750. However, the 1755 baptism at Holbeck is a better fit with the later residence of John Williamson’s wife, whereas an Elizabeth Leathley of Armley who married John Birkhead at Leeds in 1785 is a more likely candidate for the Armley baptism.
 Grant of probate (will dated 29 Dec 1856, proved 18 Oct 1859).
 Death certificate.
 St Peter, Leeds, parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com). Their daughter Sarah Elizabeth Williamson is recorded with her grandfather Benjamin Williamson in the 1851 census returns for Holbeck (National Archives, HO 107/2317, fol. 397).
 Rothwell parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com). There was another Charles Williamson of Holbeck (born in 1808, son of Joseph) who married Mary (Gray) Priestley in 1836, then Mary (Midgley) Graham in 1851. See the 1851 census returns for Holbeck (National Archives, HO 107/2317, fol. 558).
 Monumental inscription at Birstall (https://images.findagrave.com/photos/2015/286/153706397_1444842483.jpg); Birstall parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com).
 Holbeck parish registers (online at www.ancestry.com); 1851 census returns, Holbeck (National Archives, HO 107/2317, fol. 397). John may have been aged several months or more at baptism as his age is given as 20 in 1841 and 30 in 1851 and his monumental inscription gives his age in 1897 as 77. However, his death certificate states that he was 73.
 Death certificate; monumental inscription at Armley Hill Top Cemetery (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/194616451/john-williamson).
 Registers of Lane Chapel, Bramley (National Archives, RG 4/2810); 1861 census returns, Holbeck (National Archives, RG 9/3363, fol. 108).
 Death certificate.
 Marriage certificate.
 Birth certificate.
 Grant of probate (will dated 27 Oct 1930, proved 15 Jan 1937).
 Marriage certificate.
 Edward and Sarah Jane’s children were born whilst Sarah was married to John Atkinson, although Sarah and John had separated by the time Gladys was born. The birth certificate of Sarah Jane’s son Willie Atkinson (b 26 Sep 1887, Holbeck) gives his father as John Atkinson, who was the informant when the birth was registered. However, as Sarah Jane had already had a child fathered by Edward Williamson, it seems plausible that Edward was also the biological father of Willie.
 Birth certificate. The certificate gives John Atkinson as Nellie’s father. However, DNA test results eliminate any reasonable possibility that John was the biological father and they give some support to the true father being Edward Williamson. Indeed, Nellie is shown as a daughter of Edward Williamson in the 1901 census returns for Armley (National Archives, RG 13/4212, fol. 99), and the will of Edward Williamson (proved 15 Jan 1937) also describes Nellie as his daughter.
 Evening Post, 18 Jul 1978; death certificate.
 Marriage certificate.
 Birth certificate. The birth certificate and the entry for Gladys’s marriage in the St Peter parish registers do not name her father. However, she is recorded as a daughter of Edward Williamson in the 1901 census returns for Armley (National Archives, RG 13/4212, fol. 99), and given Gladys's middle name, this seems clear. The will of Edward Williamson (proved 15 Jan 1937) also describes Gladys as his daughter.
 Civil registration indexes.