William was the first child of John Besford and Margaret Besford (née Patterson). He was born on 28th November 1851 at Cowpen, Blyth, Northumberland.
The 1861 census recorded William as a scholar, aged 9, living with his parents at Cowpen Lane Row, Blyth.
The 1871 census recorded William aged 19 living with his parents at Cowpen Colliery.
On 11th August 1877, William married Jane Temple at Morpeth Register Office. William was by then 26 and working as a coal miner at Pegswood Colliery, Northumberland. Jane Temple was aged 21 and also living at Pegswood Colliery at the time of their marriage. Her father, John Temple, was a coal miner.
Jane must have been pregnant at the time of their marriage as she gave birth to a daughter, Hannah Temple Besford, on 18th February 1878. William and Jane were living at Broomhill when Hannah was born. William was recorded as a coal miner, presumably working at Broomhill Colliery.
William died on 28th December 1879 at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh. His death certificate gave the cause of William’s death as “Exhaustion from numerous abscesses throughout the body”.
William’s widow Jane married for the second time on 3rd January 1881. She married Stephen Thompson, a coal miner from Pegswood Colliery.
🔍 Unsolved mystery
Why did William Besford die in Scotland?
William’s death certificate states that his usual place of residence was Broomhill, Northumberland, so it does not seem that William was living or working in Scotland.
William’s death was registered on the day he died by his father, John Besford. It seems very likely that John was already in Edinburgh when William died.
The Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh was the largest voluntary hospital in Britain at the time, and the Newcastle Infirmary was overcrowded in this era. It may be that William was taken to Edinburgh as his chances of survival were thought to be better there.