William Henry Wiatt Jr.

This story is one related to an ancestor of a friend whose family tree I have recently begun to research. As usual for me it is the back story of the lives of the people rather than just the facts and figures of dates and times that are of interest and the life of William Henry Wiatt Jr. (my friend’s great-great grandfather) jumped out at me as an interesting place to start.

William was born in Liverpool on 23rd June 1838, the fifth of eight children to William Henry Wiatt Sr. and his wife Hannah.

William Senior was a book keeper and it seems that William Junior was to follow a similar line of work. In the various censuses from 1871 onwards his occupation is described mainly as “clerk”, although once as “merchant” in the 1871 census itself, the first I can find him listed in as an adult.

It isn’t clear how William’s connection with Brazil began but I would guess he went out there as a young man. He is absent from the census of 1861 which implies the records have been lost or he wasn’t in the country that year. I am guessing that census coincided with his first trip to Brazil.

I am also speculating his introduction into Brazil was in connection with import-export opportunities associated with Joseph Pater (whose daughter William would marry) and another of Pater’s sons-in-law Charles Comber who lived his whole life in Bahia, Brazil and, with Pater, ran an import-export business out of that region.

It would seem that for about ten years William had his own business interests in Brazil, presumably collaborating with others in the ex-pat community in the northern region of Bahia. As an aside, although I have no evidence of the type of business William was involved in, the main exports from Brazil in the mid-1800s were coffee and sugar, however, that didn’t apply to Pernambuco where Joseph Pater had his business interests, the climate there was better suited to cotton production. Irrespective, all of the crops relied on plantations worked by slaves – slavery not being abolished in Brazil until 1888.

Anyway, William’s business must have involved trips back to the UK and, indeed shortly before the 1871 census, William married Eliza Jane Pater, eldest daughter of Joseph Pater in London and then immediately set off for Brazil, his first son William Henry Wiatt III being born there the following year.

He was the first of what would be eight children for the couple.

At some point however, William elected to give up his personal business interests in favour of taking on a managerial role in the firm, Johnston Comber and Co. of Bahia.

After three years working for that company William left to join the Conde d’Eu Railway company as an accountant in 1884. However, despite working for the rail company for eight years, William left them in 1982 after a disagreement with his manager. Thus it was on 4th February 1982 that William joined the staff of the London and Brazilian Bank as a Bills Receivable Clerk in their Rio de Janeiro office.

This sequence of employment comes from the wonderful records kept by the London and Brazilian Bank that was, many years later, subsumed within the Lloyds Bank organisation but whose records were stored in their document archive.

I contacted the archivist who kindly scanned the records related to the service of William Wiatt and sent them to me.

All new members of staff had their photograph taken for the records so here is Henry, aged 53 when he joined the bank.

He served in this role for just over 18 months but at the end of 1893 he became sick and was hospitalised for two weeks with ague at the end of November. Seemingly recovered, he returned to work but a year later he became very ill and was advised to return to England permanently. He was given a 5 month furlough on full pay to return home and recuperate before returning to work.

Thereafter, his work focused on maintaining the bank’s “Character Books”, essentially a repository of information relating to the reliability and trustworthiness of current and potential clients.

It is noted in his appraisals that he was fluent in Portuguese, was very diligent but slow and could not be given any “arduous” tasks. I assume his debility was a legacy of his illness.

This last picture is of William at work late in his career.

William remained with the bank until 1913 when he was given a pension.

William died in 1914, just after the outbreak of World War 1 and was busied in Ealing, Greater London on 30th October.

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