From Cobbler to Butcher

From shoemaker to butcher 1881

By 1881 Isaac age 24 was head of his own household at 61 Waterloo Road, West Bank, Widnes, close to the banks of the River Mersey, with wife Elizabeth and son William Stephen age four years. Isaac’s occupation was given as butcher. The change in occupation from shoemaker to butcher meant that he abandoned the family trade which, as we shall see, proved significant for Ike’s second life. This is the last record I have found of Isaac in Widnes or England.

Old Butcher's Shop
A G Wright’s Butcher’s Shop, Widnes. Photo West Bank Heritage
What happened to Ike after 1881?

After 1881 Isaac disappeared from all records in England. In the 1891 Census for example we find his wife Elizabeth and son William Stephen recorded as living with Elizabeth’s parents, William and Mary Stevens, who ran the Van Tromp Beerhouse in Marsh Street, Widnes. But there is no record of Isaac. No photograph of great grandmother Elizabeth has come to light.

Ike apparently left his wife and only son behind in West Bank, Widnes and travelled from Liverpool across the Atlantic to start a new life – his second life – like so many people before and after him. According to Canadian records Ike arrived in Canada in the year 1882, but I have so far found no record of the exact date when he left his family in Widnes or details of his voyage across the Atlantic or indeed across Canada, no naturalisation or immigration records either.

Isaac was always the family mystery. Family heresay had it that he possibly went to America with his younger brother Charles and that son William back in England regularly received money from abroad. Then suddenly the money stopped.

We now know that Ike’s plan was for Elizabeth and William to follow him to Canada. However, they remained in Widnes and eventually Ike divorced Elizabeth in 1892.

Read more about Ike’s life in Canada here.

The story of what happened to Elizabeth and William in England is told here.