The Wilcoxon Family
In 1851 Thomas Wilcoxon was living in Coedpoeth and in the census of that year was recorded as being a visitor at the Machine House, Coedpoeth. His occupation was given as a lead miner. In 1852 Thomas married Elizabeth Edwards of Rhosllanerchrugog. In 1855, Mary the first child of Thomas and Elizabeth died aged just 2 years old. Of their other two children, Thomas the youngest son died in 1880 aged 17. He and his sister are buried in the graveyard at Wern Chapel, near Minera.
By the time that the 1861 census was taken Thomas and his family were living at the `Three Mile House` His occupation at that time was publican and lead miner. This was an inn so called because of the milestone outside showing the distance from Wrexham to that spot. This was the scene of an accident, and the following inquest was reported in 1868.“On Sunday last, John Blackwell of `City Arms `died as a consequence of injuries received after falling from his horse on Tuesday, 9th June 1868. The jury was told that Mr Blackwell had called to see his friend Thomas Wilcoxon, who kept the `Three Mile House`. He had one drink but was not drunk. Wilcoxon said he saw him mount his horse, which was a very tall horse, more suited to a cart than for riding. As he was going towards Pen Y Gelli the horse shyed away from a dark animal that ran out of a gate and Mr Blackwell fell on his head. He was bleeding from his ear and nose and he never regained consciousness. By 1871 Thomas had left the inn and moved to the New Inn, Nant Road. He was still working as a lead miner and publican.
The land for St John’s church, also known as the “iron church” was purchased from Thomas when he lived at the New Inn. It opened on 16th June 1875. When St Tudfil`s was consecrated on 11th August 1895 the old church was used as the schoolroom. On the tithe map of 1850, John Burton Esq. and Richard Kirk owned this area of land. The land was leased from the Grosvener estate and was used for the smelting of ore from the lead mines. How Thomas came to be in possession of this land is not sure, some times lead miners were given a plot of land to build on, or if it was common land then they just built on it and claimed it as their own. Perhaps because by now he was living at the New Inn he decided that he didn’t need the land and decided to sell.
In theWorrells Directory of 1874 he is entered as Thomas Wilcoxon, beer retailer of Church Street. He was still here at the time of the 1881 census. This street was previously known as Nant Road, but when the “iron church” was built the name was changed to Church Street and stayed as such until 1921 when the majority of residents there were in favour of naming it Park Road after the recreation grounds that had been built there. Thomas remained at the “New Inn” until his death at the age of 62 on July 4th 1886. In his will dated June 1st 1886 Thomas bequeathed all his real and personal property to his son Joseph on condition “that he will maintain and support his mother Elizabeth, or contribute a sufficient sum weekly for her lifetime”. Elizabeth lived on for another seventeen years and died on February 7th 1903 aged 72. In her obituary, she was described as a widely known and respected member of the community and of Salem where she was the oldest serving member of the Church. Thomas and Elizabeth are buried together at Wern Chapel graveyard along with their children Mary and Thomas.
Joseph Wilcoxon, the only surviving child of Thomas and Elizabeth was born in 1855. As a boy he was well educated and on leaving school went to work at the office of Mr Daniels, the assistant overseer for the area. Later he went to the Talwrn Colliery where he became the check weight man.
In 1876 at the age of 20, he married Annie Taylor of Coedpoeth, and they went on to have eleven children, but only five daughters and four sons survived. When Joseph left the colliery he went into business and is entered in the 1886 Postal Directory as a grocer of Church Street. For many years he ran the Post Office at Tegla House, 27 Queens Terrace, High Street, Coedpoeth where by 1893 he was the resident agent for the North Denbighshire Building Society.
The shop is now the “Village Newsagents” having previously been Kettlewell and Roberts paper shop. The Wilcoxon family lived above the shop and also occupied the house next door. The car park at the rear of the shop is the old site of the New Inn where Thomas and Elizabeth lived.
He was also appointed assistant overseer to the Board of Guardians who collected rates from the wealthier people of the parish to help those who needed assistance. This organisation later became the Public Assistance Authority.
In the “ Red Book” trade directory 1892/3 there is an entry for `Wilcoxons Terrace `Alexandra Road, Wrexham also a John Jones, was entered as living at `Wilcoxons Cottage` Coedpoeth, so Joseph was becoming quite a notable figure in the community. In subsequent years there are more entries in various trade directories.
At the official opening of the new Council School at Pentre Bais, now known as Gwynfryn, Joseph was the chairman of the group managers and in his speech at the ceremony upset a number of church people by his remarks. He said that the school would fill a great need in a single school area and that the people of the area could rejoice in that they now had the freedom to send their children to a school of their own choice and teach them in their own religion. He implied that the Rev.Theo Jones, vicar of Minera had hinted that an attempt would be made to deprive parents of help from the Hastings charity if they sent their children to the New School. This charity was from the will of Richard Hastings of Chester, who owned land in Minera and had left £1000 to the vicar to help the poor and orphans of Minera. Over the next few weeks there were a number of letters sent to the Wrexham Guardian concerning the remarks made by Joseph, whose own family were by this time strong chapel worshippers. As a boy he had assisted at Salem Welsh Congregational Chapel, but when Seion Church, Talwrn was founded he was appointed precentor. Later he was elected treasurer at Seion, and was also a trustee for the Harwd Chapel at Brymbo.
The Carnegie Library, on Park Road Coedpoeth, was where the Bersham Parish Council held their meetings. They were built at a cost of £1500.Joseph was the first to be elected clerk to the council, when the offices were opened. In 1915, the Denbighshire County Council elected Joseph to the School Board of Wrexham County School. He retained this position until 26th November 1930.
There is a photograph of Joseph in the office where he worked in Coedpoeth, also a gold topped walking cane that he was presented with.
In his many social roles in the village he was involved in musical societies and organised the Coedpoeth Band. There was also a marching troupe called the “Wilcoxons Cubs” which entertained at the many carnivals, fetes and festivals held in the village. As a result of his many interests in the day-to-day life of the people of Coedpoeth, Joseph came to be often known as ` The Mayor `
In 1917 Joseph and his family moved to Alexandra Road, Wrexham. During their time in Wrexham their son Joseph was killed in the Somme and daughter Bertha died in a road accident, they stayed there until 1932 then decided to move back to Coedpoeth. On his return Joseph was readily re-appointed deacon and precentor at Seion Welsh Congregational Church, Talwrn and fulfilled these positions until his death after a short illness in 1934.
His popularity was testified by the extremely large attendance at his funeral on August 11th. The service at the house was conducted by the Rev. Mihangel ap Rhys, Cardiff and Rev.J Oldfield Davies of Wallasey. The cortege proceeded to Coedpoeth Cemetery where the Revs. J.O.Davies, Mihangel ap Rhys, T.E.Thomas, Old Colwyn and R.Jones-Williams of Coedpoeth officiated. Brother Isaac Roberts conducted the Oddfellows service. Annie, three daughters and two sons, survived Joseph. Annie lived on for another seventeen years until her death in 1951 aged 91 She was buried on January 5th with Joseph and their daughter Bertha in Coedpoeth cemetery. The grave looks down to the Wern where two of their children and Joseph’s parent s are buried.
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