Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 09, 2021
Webpage updated: May 10, 2021




All over the City of Plymouth will be found manhole covers emblazoned with "Willoughby Plymouth".  The man who founded the iron foundry business that made them was Mr William Willoughby.

Born in the Cornish village of Illogan, near Redruth, and baptised at the Ancient Parish Church on February 9th 1806, William must have been steeped in engineering, steam engines and iron founding.  He soon found his way across the County boundary and into Plymouth, where he married Miss Mary Ann Hoskin at the Ancient Parish Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle on February 25th 1827.  He became a partner of Mr Joseph Murch at the Central Foundry and Engineering Works in Rendle Street but the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on April 19th 1855.

In the 1851 census, taken on Sunday March 30th that year, the Willoughby's were living at number 1 Adelaide Street, East Stonehouse.  He was described as "a smith employing 16 men and boys and an iron founder employing 11 men and boys".  That was also where Messrs Willoughby and Murch were located.  He is said to have founded his business ion 1844 and it is interesting to note that he was the senior partner and must therefore have been joined by Mr Murch at some point.  The census shows that he had five sons and four daughters: James Willoughby, born 1828; William Willoughby, born in 1830, who was a smith in 1851; John Willoughby, born 1832, who was an apprentice iron founder; Joseph Willoughby, born 1839; Mary Willoughby, born 1841; Samuel Willoughby, born 1842; Eliza Ann  Willoughby, born 1844, all born in East Stonehouse; and Emma Maria Willoughby, born 1846 and Sophia Louisa Willoughby, born 1849, both in Plymouth.

At the time of the census on April 7th 1861 Mr Willoughby and his family had moved to number 3 Clarendon Terrace, North Road, Plymouth, where he was described as an "Engineer and Iron Founder employing 29 men and 30 boys".  Of his children, 21-years-old Mr Joseph Willoughby was now an engineer at the iron foundry and Mr Samuel Willoughby was an engineer pattern maker.  To his four daughters, one of whom was now married to Mr Sara, a corn dealer, he had added two more: Caroline A Willoughby and Fanny M Willoughby.   Mr James Willoughby and Mr William Willoughby had left home. 

In 1864 the business was known as Messrs Willoughby Brothers, which seems to indicate that Mr William Willoughby had retired, possibly because of ill health, and had handed it over to his five sons.  In that case, the senior partner was now Mr James Willoughby (1828-1882).

Mr William Willoughby senior passed away at his home in North Road on Sunday September 7th 1879 at the age of 74 years.  The funeral was held on Thursday September 11th 1879 at the Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Cemetery.  The Reverend J Rhodes officiated.  None of the women folk attended the funeral.  In addition to Mr Willoughby's four sons, Mr Joseph Willoughby, his brother, and Messrs Sara, Tottenham, Kent and the Reverend Williams, all sons-in-law, and Mr Murch, his former partner, and twelve grandsons were present.

The story thus continues with Mr James Willoughby (1828-1882), who lived in Plymouth.