William Bond was born on 11 April 1843, a scant two months after the marriage of his parents, Thomas Bond and Alice Barnes. He was baptized at St. Michael’s Church in Kirkham on 18 April of the same year. Sometime after William’s birth, the young family moved from the small village of Kirkham to the larger town of Preston, a short ride away on the Preston and Wyre railway.
When William was two and a half, his sister, Frances was born on 7 September 1845 on Pleasant Street in Preston. She was likely named after Alice’s mother Francisca. Almost from her birth, baby Frances was sickly and William would have been left to play on his own as his mother changed diaper after diaper for the new baby. When Frances was two weeks old, she was baptized at Saint John’s Church. Possibly the baptism of baby Frances was rushed because she was sick or perhaps the information was miscopied on another day but the church register shows that the baby of Thomas and Alice Bond baptised on 21 September 1845 was named not Frances but James. Whatever the reason for the error in the register, the baptism took place just in time. Three days later, William’s sister Frances died 24 September 1845 of the diarrhoea that had plagued her almost since birth. At his tender age, William was too young to understand what happened to the baby Frances but must have felt the grief of his parents as they mourned their loss.
A couple of years later, in the spring of 1847 when William was almost four, another sister was born and again she was named Frances. This time, however, William’s sister was healthy and thrived. Soon after Frances’ birth, William’s mother became pregnant again and in September 1848, gave birth to yet another daughter who they named Cordelia, this time after Thomas’ mother. Not long after her birth, like the first baby Frances, Cordelia developed diarrhoea and again, in a horrifyingly familiar struggle, William’s mother changed diapers continuously. Despite her best efforts, after three months of digestive upset, baby Cordelia died 9 December 1848.
When William was seven, his brother Thomas was born and was probably named after his father. Just over a year later, in March 1851 at the time of the census, the family was living in the parish of St. James Church at 30 Brunswick Street in Preston. Thomas senior gave his occupation as a mechanic and the family included three children: William, aged 7, a scholar; Frances, aged 4, a scholar and young Thomas who was one year old.
In mid 1852, Thomas and Alice had their sixth child. Cordelia Ann was probably also named after Thomas’ mother but like the previous baby Cordelia, she became ill and she died two weeks later.
Although Alice was only thirty four and still in her child bearing years, she and Thomas must have lost heart at the death of their second baby Cordelia, because they had no further children. Tragedy continued to follow the Bond family. When William was fifteen, his brother Thomas contracted meningitis and eight weeks later on 4 May 1859 he died of the after affects of the disease. He was nine years old.
When the next census year rolled around in 1861, the family was living at 38 Oxford Street, still in Preston. Thomas was thirty seven years old and was employed as an “agriculturer machinist”. Alice was forty two years old. William was eighteen years old employed as a “plumber” and his sister Frances was only fourteen but already working as a “cotton weaver”.
Life had not been kind to the Bond family and it was probable that William yearned to escape his lot. At the age of twenty four, on 17 October 1867, William Bond enlisted in the Royal Artillery, in the 10 division Coast, Regiment number 17544 in Lisburn, Ireland collecting a bounty of £1 and a free kit. He gave his occupation at the time as a plumber. He was described as being 5 feet 8-3/4 inches tall with sandy hair, grey eyes and fresh complexion. Despite his mother’s Catholic roots, he gave his religion as Church of England.
Soon after enlisting, on 3 December 1867, he was sent to Malta. William settled into military life, determined to make something of himself. On 16 July 1868, William was awarded a Second Class Certificate of Education. He remained in Malta until 27 October 1873 when he was sent to Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, Cornwall. In 1875 he moved on to Devonport and then to Dover in 1877 and finally to the Isle of Wight in 1878. William was thirty six years old.
Image Credits: Bill Boaden via Geograph