Skip to main content

Author: WILDMAN, Abraham


WILDMAN, Abraham (1803-70:

He was born on 14 Aug. 1803 and baptised the following day at the Keighley Quaker Meeting, Yorkshire, the son of David Wildman and Susannah Naylor who had married in March of that year. He married Hannah Wilkinson (1809-68) on 14 Apr. 1828 and had at least the following children: Mary Anne (b. 1829), Elizabeth Susannah (1830) George Wilkinson (1833), William Joshua (1835), Sarah (1837), Emma (1839), Walter (1842), and Alice (1847). (Abraham Holroyd, to whom we owe virtually all the information we have on his life, only gives a daughter disabled in a mill accident and a son who emigrated to Australia.) He worked for most of his life as a woolstapler or woolsorter with an intermittent period as an innkeeper. Although poor, he was respected and became a Poor Law guardian. He often came into conflict with workhouse governors and shifted his attention to the Short Hours Factory issue.  In the 1851 Census the family with most of the children listed were living at 7 Lumbry Street, Horton. Abraham was listed as a warehouseman and the eldest daughter, Mary Ann (sic), as power loom weaver. By 1861 they had moved to 54 Kent Street and the youngest daughter, Alice, had become a worsted spinner. Holroyd visited him in 1868 in Kent Street and on seeing him recently widowed, in impoverished condition, and with the imminent prospect of the workhouse, went to Sir Titus Salt and appealed for help. Salt gave immediate relief and offered an almshouse place for his final years. He died on 19 Mar. 1870 at 39 Almshouse, Saltaire. His Miscellaneous Poems (1829) included "A Mother’s Grief," "The Lay of the Woolcomber," and "Dreams of Life," and although he did not publish another volume, he continued to contribute to local newspapers where he published the genre-poem for which he is best known, "The Factory Child’s Complaint" (Leeds Patriot 13 Oct. 1832). A subscription was raised for the publication of his Lays of Hungary but it does not appear to have proceeded to publication. His later poetry remains in manuscript and is held at Keighley Local Studies Library. A diary written shortly before his marriage is in Wigan Public Library. His poetry survived almost solely due to the efforts of Holroyd who included him in his Spice Islands Passed in the Sea of Reading (1859), a selection of 73 poems by Yorkshire poets,  and in his Garland of Poetry (1873), and wrote the 1886 memoir "Bards of Yorkshire: Abraham Wildman." His daughter Mary Anne, who kept house for him, appears to have entered the Union Workhouse, Oakworth Road, after his death. ( 24 Oct. 2020; Bradford Observer 21 and 24 Mar. 1870; Brighouse News 27 Feb. 1886; Keighley Local Studies Library, BK185; Wigan Public Library, Edward Hall Collection, EHC 68/M837; Goodridge) AA


Books written (1):

London: Sold by Simpkin and Marshall, 1829