[HOME] [Introduction] [Horrabridge tree] [John WINGATE (1742-1823)] [John WINDEATT (?1778-1851)] [William P.G. WINDEATT (1816-90)] John Windeatt

The Musician who Moved to Manchester (and back again)

THIS PAGE: [Tree] [Parents] [1st Wife] [2nd Wife] [Children ][Census]
John WINDEATT =(1)Margaret SCANLAN  =(2)Mary LAIGHT
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    Margaret Selina       Francis John   Florence Amelia    William Robert   Thomas Alfred   George Frederick   Violet Mary
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John WINDEATT (?1841-1890)

We haven't been able to find a birth certificate for John but we know he must have been born after April 1841 in Exeter because he appears in the 1851 Census aged 10 and living with the rest of his family in Summerland Terrace, St. Sidwell. See transcription below .

Like most of this particular branch of WINDEATTs, John changed his occupation several times, seizing any opportunities that came along.  At various times he gave his occupation as Asylum Attendant, Musician, Coal Dealer and School Attendance Officer.


Although he had a variety of occupations over the years  he was a musician during the 1870s and his daughter, Margaret, recorded it as his occupation on his death certificate.  Descendants tell of him being able to play a number of instruments including the piccolo.  This has been confirmed by a newspaper report from 1878 - See transcription below.

The Move North

Life in Devon was difficult in the 1860s and at some point he moved north to Manchester.  He was probably the first in the family to do so. 

There he married his first wife, Margaret SCANLAN and their first daughter, Margaret Selina Windeatt, was born on January 31st 1868 in Prestwich, Manchester (see transcription for details).

Sadly his young wife  died of Puerperal fever just seven days later.  We know from the census that baby Margaret, age 3, was being looked after by his parents in Exeter in 1871.  And by 1881, her father, his second wife and family were all back in Exeter and she was living with them.  At some point she must have returned to Manchester because she was the informant on his death certificate and gave her address as Manchester.

Asylum Attendant

John was working at Prestwich lunatic asylum in 1868.  It appears to have been an institution where cruelty to the patients was not tolerated.  Three of John's younger sisters, Mary Ann, Ellen and Louisa, followed him into this profession.  And his youngest brother, Henry, was to become the Union Clerk for the modern Asylum at Aston.

  • Link to a document on the history of lunatic asylums for schools, which is based on Prestwich lunatic asylum where John was working in 1868.
  • Link to Manchester Local Image Collection.  Type Prestwich Hospital into the search box for some aerial views.
  • Link to section on Mary Ann Windeatt, his younger sister, who also worked at the Prestwich Lunatic Asylum
  • Link to a section on Ellen Windeatt, another younger sister who worked with her sister Louisa at the Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum in 1881.
  • Link to section on Louisa Windeatt, another younger sister, who married an attendant at the Royal Asylum in Cheadle.


As well as moving up and down the country and changing his job fairly frequently, John also seemed to be quite busy and successful in finding husbands for his sisters.  He was probably instrumental in getting his sister, Selina a spinster of 30, married to Richard Snow a widower and fellow Coal Merchant.  He also probably had a hand in helping his younger sisters move up north and get jobs as Asylum attendants (see above).  All five of his surviving sisters did manage to get married - quite an achievement in those days - even if Ellen was 43 before she made it to the altar (and only admitting to 38!).

Death at 48

John died aged 48 of a stroke.  This branch of the family which descends from William and Selina (ne JARMAN) is characterised by a pattern of early male deaths.  Selina's own father died aged only 38.

Margaret, the daughter of his first wife, obviously came down to Devon from Manchester to be at his deathbed (see death certificate below).

Musician - Newspaper Report 1878


An excellent entertainment was given at the Society's Room last evening, including instrumental and vocal music and readings.  Mr. W. MEARS presided, and there was a fair attendance.  The programme opened with a selection by a well selected and balanced band, viz., piccalo [sic], Mr. WINDEATT; violin, Mr. STEVENS; flute, Mr. WILLEY; cornet, Mr. TOZER; double bass, Mr. STEER, senr.; piano, Gunner WILLIAMS.  This with other selections which followed, was played with much taste and precision.  Mr. J.S. KING and the Chairman read pieces, both from the immortal Dickens - the former choosing the "Schoolboy's Story", and the latter a portion of the "Christmas Carol."  Mr. KING's abilities as a reader has been spoken of before, and locally Mr. MEARS' name has been associated with Dickens for years as his true and talented interpreter.  A serio-comic song was given my Mr. SKINNER, whose effort would have been more acceptable had he given it without hat and overcoat.  Mr. TRIST's 'Tom Bowling' was sung pathetically, and was encored.  Much feeling was also given to the 'Vacant Chair" by Mr. SANDERS/  Miss BLANCHFIELD, Miss SMEATH, and Miss STEER were also on the programme for vocal efforts, but they should have been introduced earlier in the evening.  All the songs were well supported by the tasteful accompaniments of the band.  Votes of thanks concluded the meeting.

- Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, February 1878

There is also a report from 1864 which lists two WINDEATTs who were members of the band which accompanied the Teignmouth Company of the Exeter and South Devon Battalion Volunteers.  We can probably assume that John was one of the two members.


The inspection of the Exeter and South Devon Battalion by Colonel Hume on Monday wa, with one xception, a decided success.  The weather was fine, and the moments were executed with a precision, which elicited warm commendation from the inspecting officer . . .



- Trewman's Exeter Flying Post,
Wednesday, June 15, 1864; Issue 5119

School Attendance Officer - Newspaper Report 1883


". . . A letter was read at the previous meeting of the Board from the Local Government Board stating that they were unable to assent to the appointment of the Relieving-officer as School Attendance-officer, and the CHAIRMAN now moved a resolution from Mr. STERRY, who was absent,
"That Mr. John WINDEATT be appointed School Attendance-officer from Midsummer next, for the whole district at 70 a-year." 

The motion not being seconded, Sir JOHN PHEAR said that, had the resolution been put in a different form, he should have had no hesitation in seconding it.  The Guardians should bear in mind that the Attendance Committee was an entirely separate body from the Board, and that the committee had within its discretion the power to appoint officers to this extent, but they could not appoint an officer without having the consent of the Board; and having obtained that, if they thought that one of the officers of the Board was a fit person to fill the office they must also come to the Board for its consent.  The only question they had to entertain was whether or not the consent of the Board should be given.  If the motion were worded,

"That the Board gives its consent to the appointment, by the School Attendance Committee, of a School Attendance-officer for the whole district for one year from Midsummer next at 70 a year,"

he should be very pleased to second it, - The CHAIRMAN said that he would be ready to alter the resolution to that form. - Sir JOHN PHEAR seconded the resolution. - Mr. FORD could ot let the opportunity pass without entering a protest against the Local Government Boad in not allowing that Board to do what they had allowed other Boards to do in other parts of the country. - (Hear, her.) - The resolution was then put and carried."

-Trewman's Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser (Exeter, England),
Wednesday, June 13, 1883; Issue 6031.

Death in the sub-district of Heavitree, Saint Thomas, in the County of Devon 1890

When & Where Name Sex Age Occupation Cause of Death Signature, description and residence of informant When registered
8th February 1890
4 Alpha Terrace, Heavitree, RSD
John WINDEATT Male 48 years Musician Hemiplagia
Certified by E. Steele PERKINS
L.S.A. Lond.
Present at the death
Overdale House, Prestwich, Manchester
8th February 1890

Parents & Siblings

First wife: Margaret SCANLAN (?1847-1868)

He probably married Margaret in 1867 but for years I could not find the marriage certificate nor any trace of her birth or birthplace.  

[LATER - March 2013] Hooray! An flash of inspiration led me to look in the Irish records for a marriage and I found this church record:
Area - KERRY (RC) , Parish/Church/Congregation - TARBERT
Marriage of JOHN WINDETT of MEENSTOWN and MARGARET SCANLAN of TARBERT on 3 November 1866. Groom's Father: WILLIAM WINDETT, Bride's Father: JAMES SCANLAN
Further details in the record: Priest REV. D. FOLEY, Witness 1 JOHN DOYLE, Witness 2 JOHN SCANLAN
Book Number 1; Page 9; Entry Number N/R; Record_Identifier KY-RC-MA-77777
- from: Irish Genealogy

I think this has to be the missing marriage and WINDEATT (unsurprisingly), has been mistranscribed and MEENSTOWN is probably also a mistranscription - probably of Manchester. And I also found her baptism:

Area - KERRY (RC) , Parish/Church/Congregation - BALLYLONGFORD
Baptism of MARGARET SCANLAN of TARBERT on 1 September 1846 (ASSUMED)
Date of Birth 1 September 1846 (BASED ON OTHER DATE INFORMATION)
Further details in the record: Father Occupation NR, Sponsor 1 CATHERINE SCANLAN, Sponsor 2 MAURICE SCANLAN, Priest REV.D.MCCARTHY About the record: Book Number N/R; Page 50; Entry Number N/R; Record_Identifier KY-RC-BA-72918. - from: Irish Genealogy

Previously all I had is the birth certificate of their daughter, also Margaret, and the certificate of his wife's death seven days later:

Death in the Sub-district of Prestwich, Manchester - 1868

When & Where Name Sex Age Occupation Cause of Death Signature, description and residence of informant When registered
7th February 1868, Wash Lane, Prestwich Margaret WINDEATT Female 20 years Wife of John  WINDEATT, an Attendant at the Lunatic Asylum Prestwich Puerperal Fever Certified John WINDEATT present at the death
Wash Lane, Prestwich 
7th February 1868

Second wife: Mary LAIGHT (?1841-?)

John married again in 1870. All we know (from the marriage certificate) is that she was apparently working with John at the Prestwich Lunatic Asylum.  She also appears to have had an illegitimate son, Francis John LAIGHT, aged 2, who was being looked after by her parents in Worcester.  This son became part of the WINDEATT family and took on the family surname.  See the section on Francis John below.

Mary went on to have five children with John.  He died in 1890 aged only 48 but Mary lived on as a widow for another 22 years.  She died, in 1912, from a head injury caused by an accidental fall.  She was 71.  There was an Inquest on 9th February, 1912 (the same day she died) and the record is probably available somewhere.

1870 Marriage solemnized at the Parish Church in the Parish of Prestwich in the County of Lancaster

When married Name & Surname Age Condition Rank or Profession Residence at the time of Marriage Father's Name and Forename Rank or profession of Father Witnesses
July 2 John WINDEATT full Widower Attendant at Asylum Prestwich William WINDEATT Builder James OGDEN 


Mary LAIGHT full Spinster Attendant at Asylum Prestwich Thomas LAIGHT Bricklayer


With Margaret SCANLAN

1.  Margaret Selina WINDEATT (1868-?)

Birth in the Sub-district of Prestwich in the County of Lancaster 1868

When & Where Name Sex Name and Surname of Father Name, surname and maiden surname of mother Occupation of father Signature, description and residence of informant When registered
Thirty-first January 1868, Wash Lane, Prestwich Margaret Selina Girl John WINDEATT Margaret WINDEATT formerly SCANLAN (deceased) Attendant at the Lunatic Asylum, Prestwich John WINDEATT
Wash Lane, Prestwich
7th February 1868

Margaret's mother had died and we don't know who looked after baby Margaret immediately after her birth but certainly at age three, she was down in Devon being cared for by John's mother Selina and his sisters:  Selina, Elizabeth, Ellen and Louisa - see my transcription of the 1871 census return.   But by 1881 she was living with her father, his second wife and family in Exeter.

At some point in the next ten years she must have moved back to the Manchester area because she gave her address as Overdale House, Prestwich, Manchester in 1890 when she acted as informant for her father's death certificate in Exeter.   Overdale house was a large building so presumably she was working as some sort of servant?

When the census was undertaken on 31st March 1891, she was working as a servant in Parkside County Asylum, West Macclesfield, Cheshire with her sister Florence (information provided by a kind contact).

A few months later she married in Salford:

Marriage solemnized at the Parish Church of St. Clement Broughton in the County of Salford

Date Name & Surname Age Condition Rank or Profession Residence at the time of Marriage Father's Name and Forename Rank or profession of Father Witnesses
July 21st, 1891 Charles Edwin HARDMAN 36 Bachelor Collector 55 Trafalgar Street Joshua HARDMAN (deceased) Gardener Alfred HARDMAN


Margaret Selina WINDEATT 24 Spinster - 16 Melbourne Street John WINDEATT

All signed the certificate.  Florence, one of the witnesses, was Margaret's step-sister.  Florence would have been about twenty at the time.

I haven't traced any further.  If you know anything more about this family please get in touch.

With Mary LAIGHT

?1869 Francis John, 1871 Florence Amelia, 1873 William Robert, 1875 Thomas Alfred, 1877 George Frederick, 1884 Violet Mary

2 Francis John WINDEATT (?1869-1934) (Stepson)

Francis John was, for some time a bit of a mystery for us.  He appears on the 1881 census, aged 12, living with John and Mary in Exeter.  His birthplace is given as Worcester in the census.  We don't have a copy of his birth certificate nor have we found it listed in the GRO index.   He seemed too old to have been born before John married Mary Laight and too young to be Margaret SCANLAN's child.  

A kind researcher from the Worcestershire list found him for us on the 1871 census.  He was living with Mary LAIGHT's family in Worcester and his name is given as Francis John LAIGHT, aged 2 (see transcription below).  It look as though he must be Mary's illegitimate son born in 1868 or 1869 before she married John WINDEATT.  Of course, John could still be the father.  His first wife died in February 1868 and he could have consoled himself with a colleague.  And unless we find out that Mary LAIGHT was not working with John in Prestwich Asylum at that time we cannot discount it.  We will probably never know who was Francis' biological father.

1871 Census (taken 2nd April) © Crown Copyright > (taken 2 April)

Living at No 32 Dolddy (a house to themselves) in the Parish of All Saints, Worcester.

 Name  Relation Marital Status Age Occupation Birthplace
Thomas LAIGHT  Head   M  68  Waggonner Worcester
Sarah LAIGHT   Wife   M  59  - Worcester
Henry LAIGHT Son Unm 22 Sawyer Worcester
Alfred LAIGHT Son Unm 19 Day Labourer Worcester
Emma LAIGHT Daur Unm 16 Gloveress Worcester
Francis John Grandson Unm 2 - Worcester

1897 - Marriage solemnized at St. Luke's in the Parish of Weaste in the County of Salford

Date Name & Surname Age Condition Rank or Profession Residence at the time of Marriage Father's Name and Forename Rank or profession of Father Witnesses
January 10th 1897 Francis Jhon [sic] WINDEATT 27 Bachelor Stoker Weaste John WINDEATT Musician William Robert WINDEATT

Margaret HARDMAN

Mary Ellen SPEAK 25 Spinster - Weaste John Henry SPEAK Bricklayer

All signed. The witnesses were Francis John's older step-sister Margaret, the daughter of Margaret SCANLAN, and his younger brother William Robert.  William must have joined the police in Manchester by now.

We don't know how many children Francis and Mary had but they must have had at least one daughter because she was present at her mother's death.  Francis died in 1934 and his widow in 1949.

3. Florence Amelia WINDEATT (Flossie) (1871-?)

Florence Amelia was born in the Worcester Registration district in the December quarter of 1871 according the to GRO index.  We don't know much about her although a descendant has told us that she was known as Flossie.  A Florence Amelia WINDEATT married in the March quarter of 1896 in St. Thomas parish Exeter but we don't have any further details.  The GRO reference is 5b 79.

We do now know that in the March 1891 census she was working as a servant, aged 20, at Parkside County Asylum, West Macclesfield with her eldest sister, Margaret (information from a kind contact).  The following July she was a witness at Margaret's wedding.

4. William Robert WINDEATT (1873-1918)

1873 - Birth in the District of St. Sidwell in the County of Exeter

When & Where Name Sex Name and Surname of Father Name, surname and maiden surname of mother Occupation of father Signature, description and residence of informant When registered
13th July, 1873, Holloway Street William Robert Boy John WINDEATT Mary WINDEATT formerly LAIGHT Musician John WINDEATT
Polsloe Road, Exeter
16th August 1873

It looks as though Mary had her baby in her mother-in-law's house (Selina & William were living in Holloway Street in 1871) because William Robert was born in Holloway Street although her husband, John, gives his address as Polsloe Road.

John  had obviously returned to Exeter from Manchester and Worcestershire.  We don't know what he was doing in Worcestershire but he must have decided to make a career from his musical talent when back in Devon.  However, he appears to have followed at least two other occupations before his death: four years later in 1877 he was a 'coal dealer' and in 1884 a 'School Attendance Officer'.

William Robert together with moved North in his twenties as did his older sister and brother.  He became a Police Inspector but died in the great 1918 flue' pandemic.

5. Thomas Alfred WINDEATT (1875-1931)

1875 - Birth in the District of St. Sidwell in the County of Exeter

When & Where Name Sex Name and Surname of Father Name, surname and maiden surname of mother Occupation of father Signature, description and residence of informant When registered
9th March, 1875
Oakfield Street
Thomas Alfred Boy John WINDEATT Mary WINDEATT formerly LAIGHT Professor of Music Mary WINDEATT
Oakfield Street, Heavitree
3rd April 1875

Now living in Oakfield Street, Heavitree and John is a "Professor of Music". His cousin Charles Allen WINDEATT over in Weston Super Mare was also "a Professor of Music".  I suppose it means he taught pupils at home?

Thomas followed his brother William Robert into the police although he did not follow him to Lancashire but stayed on in Exeter.

6.George Frederick WINDEATT (1877-1942)

When & Where Name Sex Name and Surname of Father Name, surname and maiden surname of mother Occupation of father Signature, description and residence of informant When registered
13th July, 1877
42 Commercial Road
George Frederick Boy John WINDEATT Mary WINDEATT formerly LAIGHT Coal Dealer J. WINDEATT
42 Commercial Road, Exeter
13th August 1877

Perhaps the music lessons did not pay well enough to support John's growing family?  He gives his occupation as 'coal dealer' now in 1877 and in 1881 he is a 'coal agent'.

It was about this time that John's younger sister, Selina, married Richard Snow who was also a Coal Dealer and it's my guess that the marriage was set up by John (Richard was a widower and Selina, at 30, was on the shelf).

George Frederick WINDEATT worked for the London and South Western Railway.  He started as a Stoker as shown in the 1901 census but was a Fireman by the time he got married in 1907, eventually becoming a full-blown Engine Driver by 1911.  He died, aged 65, in 1942.

There are living descendants of George Frederick WINDEATT. Please contact the Message Board if you have any further information or would like to get in touch.

7. Violet Mary WINDEATT (1884-?)

When & Where Name Sex Name and Surname of Father Name, surname and maiden surname of mother Occupation of father Signature, description and residence of informant When registered
1st April 1884
Woodbine Place Heavitree
Violet Mary Girl John WINDEATT Mary WINDEATT formerly LAIGHT School Attendance Officer John WINDEATT
Woodbine Place, Heavitree
7th April 1884

John has another change of profession now and is a School Attendance Officer.  He died six years later

We know very little about Violet Mary.  A Violet Mary WINDEATT married in Christchurch in 1910 - this is likely to be her although I wonder what she was doing there?  Another Violet Mary WINDEATT was born in Christchurch in 1919 which is somewhat of a coincidence.  This latter Violet was the granddaughter of John's cousin, John Chapman WINDEATT.  John's younger brother Henry also had a daughter called Violet (Violet Ida born 1888).  It must have been a popular name around this time.

Census Transcriptions

1851 (taken 30th March)

Living with his parents, brother and three sisters at 5 Summerland Terrace, St. Sidwell's, Exeter.

Name Relationship Mar Age Sex Occupation Birthplace
William WINDEAT Head M 34 M Porter Horrabridge-DEV
Selina WINDEAT Wife M 32 F Seamstress Exeter-DEV
William WINDEAT Son - 11 M Scholar Exeter-DEV
John WINDEAT Son - 10 M Scholar Exeter-DEV
Selina WINDEAT Daur - 6 F Scholar Exeter-DEV
Ann WINDEAT Daur - 2 F --- Exeter-DEV
Emma WINDEAT Daur - 1m F --- Exeter-DEV

1861 (taken 7 April)

I haven't found him on this census yet.  He may have been in Manchester already.  

1871 (taken 2 April)

Living at no 86 Wash Lane, Prestwich, St. Mary's in a house to themselves.

 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Age Occupation Birthplace
 John WINDEATT   Head   M   Male   29  Attendant at the Asylum Exeter, Devonshire 
Mary WINDEATT   Wife   M   Female   29   Attendant at the Asylum Worcestershire

They are still living in Manchester in 1871, having married the previous July.  Their daughter Florence Amelia, was to be born in the last quarter 1871 and in Worcester.  So they must have moved down to Worcester before the birth.  Perhaps so that Mary could be with her mother?

John's three-year-old daughter, Margaret Selina, by his first wife Margaret SCANLAN was living down in Exeter with John's parents.  But where was Francis John, his son?  We cannot find his birth in the GRO index but he appears in the 1881 census - see below.  

Incidentally John's sister, Mary Ann, who married Edwin PREECE in 1873 was living in Worcestershire when she attended their mother's death in 1890. So there may also have been other connections with Worcestershire.

1881 (taken 3 April)

Living at Paragon Place, Exeter Holy Trinity, Devon.

 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation
 John WINDEATT   Head   M   Male   39   Exeter, Devon, England   Coal Agent 
Mary WINDEATT   Wife   M   Female   39   Worcester, England    
Margaret S. WINDEATT   Daur      Female   13  Prestwich Manchester    
Francis John WINDEATT   Son      Male   12   Worcester, England    
Florence A. WINDEATT   Daur      Female   9   Worcester, England    
William R. WINDEATT   Son      Male   7   Exeter, Devon, England    
Thomas A. WINDEATT   Son      Male   6   Heavitree, Devon, England    
Geo. Fredk. WINDEATT   Son      Male   4   Exeter, Devon, England    

1891 (taken 5 April)

John died in 1890 at no 4 Alpha Terrace, Heavitree, Exeter.  His widow and family were still living in the same house at the time of the 1891 census.  Here they are:

 Name  Relation Married Age last birthday Profession or Occupation Employment Where Born
Mary WINDEATT  Head  Wid 50      Worcester
William WINDEATT  Son S 18 Inn Waiter Employed Devon  Exeter
Thomas WINDEATT   Son  S 16  Telegraph Messenger Employed Devon Heavitree
George WINDEATT   Son    14 Port Messenger Employed Devon Heavitree
Violet WINDEATT Daur   7 Scholar   Devon Heavitree

1901 (taken 31 March)

Mary and her two younger sons living in a household in one house but with only four rooms at number 16 Little Silver, Exeter.

 Name  Gender Relation Married Age Occupation Employment Where Born
Mary WINDEATT  Head  Wid   Wid  60       Worcester, Worcester
Thomas A. WINDEATT   Male   Son    S  26  City Policeman
Worker Devon Heavitree
Geo. Fredk. WINDEATT   Male   Son    S  23 Railway Engine Stoker Worker Devon Heavitree

Where is Violet?  Perhaps she is off in service somewhere?

William Robert has left Devon and is working as a Police Constable, aged 27 and married to Alice E. Windeatt aged 23.  She is from Hope in Shropshire.  They were living in three rooms at No 2, Greaves St., Mossley in the parish of St. John's Yorkshire in the district of Colne Valley in the County of Lancashire (RG 13/3801 page 26).


Please get in touch if you can correct or add to any of the information on this page:

Last updated: March 2013