William Tranter

The Tranter line and a Centagenarian.

In many families, by the time we get back as far as a great great grandparent, family memory is lost, and it is up to research, to discover more of our ancestors. However, some ancestors may be long remembered in the family for one reason or another, and these memories make research easier. We have a centagenarian in this family, who gives us such a start in this line of our family history research.

William Tranter, Frederick Tranter, Winifred Tranter (Harvey) and Gordon Harvey c1939

Tranter is a less common surname, originally from the West of England and of Anglo Saxon origin. It is sometimes transcribed incorrectly, this line of our ancestry, also tended to have large families, often using the same Christian names within different families, making research more complicated. There also seems to have been quite a few Tranters with similar Christian names in the Birmingham area. On the whole, the family line has been reasonably easy to trace back to late 1700’s.

My maternal ‘Nana’, was born Winifred Alice Tranter 1902 -1982, her father was Frederick John Tranter 1874 – 1954, both reasonably long lived, but Frederick’s father was famous in the family, for living to be 100 years of age, (1849) -1949 and can be remembered by my mother. He was William Tranter.

Photo taken of William Tranter, daughter, grandson, great granddaughter and great great granddaughter.

William Tranter was born, 11th December (1848/9) more of this date later, in Stokenchurch Oxfordshire, to James Tranter and Eleanor Tranter. James was a chairmaker. It is likely that James and Eleanor were related, being from the same area and both, with this same less usual surname. This makes ancestral research easier, as it reduces the number of lines to follow, but may not be so good for the inherited health of descendants.

1841 Census entry James and Eleanor Tranter.

Oldest daughter Susan, was with Eleanor’s parents, Richard and Sarah in 1841.

1851 census entry for Tranter family.

By the 1851 census, William Tranter, was the seventh child born to James and Eleanor. (Susan 1839, Richard 1841, Sarah 1843, Thomas 1845, Henry 1847 and William 1849). Both James and Eleanor were born at Stokenchurch in Oxfordshire, as were children, Sarah, Thomas and William. Susan, Richard and Henry, were born at Lewknor, close by. As a chair maker, the family must have been poor, and oldest daughter Susan aged 12 was already employed as a lacemaker.

1861 Census entry James and Eleanor Tranter page 1
1861 census James and Eleanor Tranter page 2

By 1861, James had decided to seek his fortune in London. His new occupation was Tallow Chandler (candlemaker), unlikely to have been a well paid occupation. Thomas had found a job as a coal merchant, and Henry and William, were Gardeners. Later, William says he had a job as a ‘van boy,’ in a laundry. Three more children had been born in the intervening ten years, Georgiana, Eleanor and Alfred James. Georgiana was aged 9, and had been born in Stokenchurch, Eleanor aged 4 had been born in Kensington, meaning the family must have moved into Kensington between 1852 and 1857.

William gave a lifestory to the local press in 1948. He claimed to have walked from Stokenchurch to London at the age of nine. He gave the impression that he travelled alone, with no money and only one apple to eat, whilst this is possible, it seems unlikely, as the whole of his family moved into London, about the same time. They probably all walked, the distance of 37 miles. William also claimed to have only had one apple to sustain him, although food was probably short, this may have been stretching the truth somewhat.

On 30th November 1868, William Tranter married Maria Jane Potter, generally known as ‘Jane’. Jane’s parents, John Potter and Maria Squires, from Colney (is this a corruption of Kings Langley?), Hertfordshire, had moved into Fulham by 1850. At marriage, William was described as a labourer.

By 1871 the couple lived at 6 Wellington Road and William was a carman. Next door at 7, lived John and Maria Potter, a coachman and groom, with Jane’s 15 year old brother, George, and sisters Ann 12 and Emily 9. In the same road, a John Potter aged 22, was living with his family, perhaps this was Jane’s older brother.

Marriage certificate William Tranter and Maria Jane Potter.
1871 census entry, William and Jane Tranter

According to the baptism entries of their children, William and Jane were living at 31 Wilson Road, Great Church Lane in 1876,and 35 South Street in 1878 and 1880. By 1881 William and Jane had moved to 27 Montagu Street. William was still a ‘carman’. (A delivery driver in todays parlance). They had five children, Emma 1872, Frederick John 1874, Arthur 1877, William 1879 and Florence 1880.

1881 census entry William and Jane Tranter

By 1889, William had become a Grocer, and in 1890, the family moved to 103 Queen Street. William appears to have been going up in the world, and he was employing others. His two sons were also employed in the business. According to his biography printed in the paper, his first shop, was in Great Church Lane, Hammersmith, before he moved to premises at Queen Street Hammersmith. In 1891, the family were living at 103 Queen Street, wife Jane and nine children. Since 1881, Rosina, Ellen, Lilian and Hilda had been born. Also living with the family was Minnie E Roberts aged 14 a nurse girl, domestic servant. Presumably to help look after the younger children. Oldest daughter Emma appears to have a very modern occupation, that cannot quite be made out, but involved electric lights.

1891 Census entry, William and Jane Tranter

By 1901, William and Jane were living at 61 Darlan Road, and operating a successful Grocery, wine and spirit business, on a new housing estate, as the photo of the shop shows below. Children still at home were William (also working as a Grocer ‘on his own account’), Rose, Nellie and Lillie. Percy Coates, aged 17 was visiting, probably a grandson. Both Rose and Nellie were dressmakers.

1901 census entry page 1
1901 Census entry page 2
Tranters Grocery Shop Fulham

By 1911 William had retired from his grocery business. This was rather unusual for the time. Although old age pensions had recently been introduced, many people continued to work into advanced old age, particularly those with their own successful businesses. William had passed the business onto his sons William and Arthur. Arthur died soon after the first World War. Then William Jr. continued with the business until about 1946, when he retired and sold it on, he was aged about 70 years.

In 1911, William and Jane, stated they had been married 42 years, had 12 children, with seven of them still living. Those remaining at home were Helen and Lillian. Also with them was grandson, Harold Arthur Tranter aged seven.

1911 Census William Tranter

In 1924, wife Maria Jane died aged 76. This photo below is dated approx. 1922, perhaps it was taken to celebrate a 50th (Golden) Wedding anniversary. They look to be very well dressed, and seem to be in natural surroundings. William was a keen gardener, and his plants and greenhouses were admired, so presuming this was his own garden at Aberdeen House, London Road, which sounds rather grand. This property was sold several years after Jane’s death, and he then lived with various family members, including my Nana, who was not impressed when she discovered that aswell as paying rent, she was also expected to cook and clean for him.

My parents had been living with mum’s grandfather in Hounslow since their marriage in 1926 and it was in Aberdeen House in London Road that my oldest brother, Gordon Charles, was born in 1929Cynthia

William claims to have lived next door to Malcolm Scott when he first arrived in Hounslow. Malcolm D. Scott was a female impersonator in the Music Halls in the early 20th century, with a fascinating career, and was obviously well enough known, for William to drop him into the conversation. It appears that William may have been stretching the truth again, as Malcolm Scott was not born until 1872. He lived at 137 Wellington Road in 1911, and William at 6 Wellington Road in 1871.

William and Maria Jane Tranter c1922.
1939 National survey

In 1939, he was living with his daughter Emma, who had married, Henry Coates. William gives his year of bith as 1849, but it was actually 1848 (see below). During WW2, he evacuated to relatives in Stokenchurch, before returning to Hounslow, where he lived with my Great Grandparents at 14 Montague Road. Then moving into Nursing homes.

Newspaper reports of his life.
Newspaper reports of his death.

Willliam spent the last couple of years in Weir House Nursing Home, in Sunbury. The newspaper report to celebrate his hundredth birthday, appears to be a year early, as it it dated 3rd December 1948, has the family legend been misleading us all this time? It appears not, his birth reference at the GRO states he was born December 1848, a year earlier than family legend has it.

Name: WILLIAM TRANTER 
Mother's Maiden Surname: TRANTER,     
GRO Reference: 1848 D Quarter in WYCOMBE Volume 06 Page 42

He died on 2nd April 1949, in Ashford Hospital, following a fall which fractured his leg, he had been trying to get out of bed, when he slipped and fell, and had been sufferering from acute Bronchitis.

As with many of my ancestors who moved into London during 1800’s to try and make a better life for themselves, the Tranter family achieved it. They started as country chairmakers, candlemakers, and delivery men, before becoming successful small business men. William, lived a long life, and managed to make a better life within one generation. In other branches of the family, it took a little longer.

Tranter Ancestry

  • Winifred Alice Tranter 1901 – 1982 married Charles William Harvey
  • Frederick John Tranter 1874 – 1954 married Florence Caroline Frost
  • William Tranter 1848 – 1949 married Maria Jane Potter
  • James Tranter – married Eleanor Tranter
  • Thomas Tranter married Susannah Rixen
  • Richard Tranter married Sarah Sears

Children of William Tranter and Maria Jane Potter

  • Emma Maria bapt. 20 August 1871
  • Frederick John born 19 January 1875
  • Arthur Edward born 15April 1876
  • William Henry born 6 May 1878
  • Florence Louise born 13 April 1880
  • Charles Percy born 23 December 1881
  • Rosina Maud (Rose) born 21 November 1883
  • Ellen Elizabeth (Nellie) born 14 April 1885
  • Lilian Jane (Lillie) born 26 April 1887
  • Ada Evelyn born 8 March 1889
  • Hilda May born 15 December 1890

Children of James and Eleanor Tranter (known)

Marriage of James Tranter and Eleanor Tranter 1837
  • Susan 1838
  • Richard 1840
  • Sarah 1842
  • Thomas 1844
  • Henry 1846
  • William 1848
  • Georgiana 1852
  • Eleanor 1857
  • Alfred 1860

To dig deeper into this line of Tranter heritage, please visit Tranter v Tranter