Windle, Connop, Thirlwall, Holdsworth

In the previous post I wrote about Thomas Windle, a gentleman and magistrate who lived in Mile End Old Town at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, and who was one of the executors of the will of Sarah Gibson in 1789. Sarah was the younger sister of my 5 x great grandmother, Elizabeth Holdsworth. When Elizabeth made her own will in 1809, one of the executors was Richard Eykin Windle, a surgeon and apothecary who (I am fairly certain) was a member of the same family as Thomas, though I’ve yet to discover their exact relationship to each other.

Mile End Old Town in the 18th century

Mile End Old Town in the 18th century

As I noted yesterday, Thomas Windle was the son of another gentleman of the same name, who died in Bethnal Green in 1793. Thomas Windle made his son Thomas junior the sole executor of his own will, composed in 1784. There were three witnesses to that will: Ellen Flowen (or possibly Plowen), Susanna Connop and William Connop Junior.

William Connop Junior was, as his name implies, the son of another William Connop. William Connop Senior was born in about 1717 and at the time of his marriage was said to be living in the parish of St John, Wapping. On 3rd February 1741 he declared his intention to marry Susannah Walter of the parish of St George (in the East?), Middlesex who was, like him, twenty-four years old. After their marriage the Connops lived in Mile End Old Town, where their daughter Susanna was born in 1746: she was baptised at the parish church of St Dunstan and All Saints on 9th May that year. The Connops had a son named William christened on 22nd October 1750, but he must have died in infancy, as another child of the same name was baptised at St Dunstan’s on 2nd June 1752. On 15th January 1753 a son named John was christened. All of these records describe William Connop senior as a surgeon.

18th century surgery demonstration

18th century surgery demonstration

William Connop junior was married at St Dunstan’s church on 8th October 1776. If the parish register is to be believed, his wife was another Susannah Connop – possibly a cousin. The witnesses included William Connop, presumably the groom’s father, two more Susanna Connops, perhaps his mother and sister, and a Richard Connop.  I haven’t found evidence of any children born to this second William and Susannah Connop. I’m assuming they are the people who witnessed Thomas Windle Senior’s will in 1784, but it’s possible that the Susanna named there was William Connop’s sister.

We know from his will that William Connop junior was a surgeon like his father, and from other sources that he (like Richard Eykin Windle) was also an apothecary. William made his will in June 1790 and it was proved in October of the same year: he would have been about 33 when he died. William left money to his ‘good friend’ Thomas Windle Junior of Mile End and also appointed him as one of the executors of his will.

Rev Thomas Thirlwall

Rev Thomas Thirlwall (via

William Connop Junior’s widow Susannah married again on 19th June 1792. Her second husband was the curate of St Dunstan’s, Stepney, Reverend Thomas Thirlwall. The son of another vicar, Thirlwall studied at Brasenose College, Oxford and was curate at Holy Trinity in the Minories before taking up his appointment in Stepney. A prolific author, he was later appointed as Rector of Bower’s Gifford in Essex, where he died in 1827.

There’s a tenuous connection between my ancestors and Rev. Thirlwall. In 1804, my 4 x great grandfather William Holdsworth occupied property in Mile End Old Town owned by Thirlwall, who seems to have been a significant landowner in his own parish. We know that the Holdsworths had moved from Marmaduke Street, in the parish of St George in the East, sometime between 1798 and 1801, when my great-great-great-grandmother Eliza was born, in Mile End Road.

Connop Thirlwall

Connop Thirlwall

Thomas and Susannah Thirlwall had a son, born in 1797, to whom they gave the name Connop Thirlwall. He followed his father into the Church, and eventually became Bishop of St David’s in Wales. A precocious scholar and debater (John Stuart Mill once described him as the best public speaker he had ever heard), he was elected a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and tried his hand at the law, before becoming a clergyman, a role he combined with that of noted historian and author. Connop Thirlwall died in 1875.

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