William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
William Wordsworth
Born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Grasmere, Cumberland, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Father of
Died in Ambleside, Westmorland, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 6 Oct 2014
This page has been accessed 2,450 times.

Categories: English Poets | Poets Laureate of England | Cockermouth, Cumberland | English Authors | St John's College, Cambridge | British Notables.

William Wordsworth is Notable.


William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 at Cockermouth in Cumberland, England.[1][2]

William was the second son of John Wordsworth, attorney-at-law and law-agent to Sir James Lowther, afterwards Earl of Lonsdale. His mother was Anne, the only daughter of William Cookson, mercer of Penrith, and his wife Dorothy, nee Crackanthorp of Newbiggen Hall, Westmoreland. There had been Crackanthorps at Newbiggen Hall since the time of Edward III. William's grandfather moved to Westmoreland from Peniston, Yorshire, where his family had lived since before the Norman Conquest (according to William). and purchased the estate of Sockbridge His mother, Anne, died in 1778 of a decline brought on by a cold. His father never recovered from his wife's death, and died in 1783. when William was in his fourteenth year, and had just completed his ninth year at Hawkshead, where his older brother Richard also went to school.[3]

William had four siblings;

  1. Richard;[3]
  2. Dorothy;

William and his brother Richard were placed into the care of his uncle Christopher Crackanthorp when their father died, and it was due to Christopher and another uncle, Richard Wordsworth, that he was allowed to continue his education, as Sir James Lowther had forcibly borrowed £5,000 from his attorney and refused to repay it, and the Wordsworth family spent most of their father's remaining forturne trying to recover it, which they did eventually after Lord Lonsdale's death in 1801.[3] and

Wordsworth graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge University.[4] Describing himself as a child he said,

"I was of a stiff, moody, and violent temper; so much so that I remember going once into the attic of my grandfather's house at Penrith, upon some indignity having been put upon me, with an intention of destroying myself with one of the foils which I knew were kept there. I took the foil in my hand, but my heart failed."[4]

Thomas De Quincey said of him,

"... Throughout his later life, with all the benefits of a French discipline, in the lesser charities of social intercourse he has always exhibited a marked impatience of those particular courtesies of life. . . . Freedom,—unlimited, careless, insolent freedom,—unoccupied possession of his own arms,—absolute control over his own legs and motions,—these have always been so essential to his comfort that in any case where they were likely to become questionable, he would have declined to make one of the party."[4]

William lived at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Westmoreland, with his sister Dorothy, between 1799 and 1808.[5] He then lived at Rydal Mount for 33 years, eventually dying there.[5]

They lived a simple life, drinking water and eating simple fare, gardening, wandering over the hills, and rowing upon the lake, Coleridge and his family repeatedly stayed for months under Wordsworth's roof, later their circle of friends increased but life remained simple.[4]

Dorothy introduced her friend, Miss Mary Hutchinson of Penrith, to William and in 1803, William married Mary.[4] After thirty-six years of marriage, he wrote the following lines about his wife, Mary:

"Morn into noon did pass, noon into eve,
And the old day was welcome as the young,
As welcome, and as beautiful,—in sooth, more beautiful,
As being a thing more holy."[4]

William and Mary had several children who died in childhood, but they had three children who survived.[4]

  1. Dora, predeceased both her parents and her father spent many weeks in tears, inconsolable;[4] and
  2. William;[3] and
  3. a son;

Wordsworth's poetry was the subject of much criticism during his life, as he wrote about the mundane and ordinary, which was in great contrast to other popular poets that had preceded him.[4]

In 1843, William was appointed Poet Laureate.[2]

Wordsworth died on 23 April 1850 and was buried in Grasmere churchyard.[2] His wife Mary who had been deaf and blind for many years survived him, living until she was over ninety.[4]

The "Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth", William's sister, have been published in two volumes, and shed light on their lives and travels, and their literary family.[6] [7]

This profile is a collaborative work-in-progress. Can you contribute information or sources?


  1. Wikipedia entry for William Wordsworth
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 BBC, "William Wordsworth (1770-1850)", Historic Figures: History, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/wordsworth_william.shtml, accessed: 6 October, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 F W H Myers, Wordsworth, ( ), accessed 6 October 2014, http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/8747/pg8747.html .
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Hattie Tyng Griswold, Home Life of Great Authors, seventh ed, (Chicago: A C McClurg & Co, 1902), accessed 6 October 2014, .
  5. 5.0 5.1 Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great, 1 of 14, (New York: The Roycrofters, 1916), accessed 6 October 2014, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12933/12933-h/12933-h.htm#WM_WORDSWORTH .
  6. William Knight, ed., Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, I, (London: MacMillan and Co Ltd, 1897), accessed 6 October 2014, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42856/42856-h/42856-h.htm .
  7. William Knight, ed., Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, II, (London: MacMillan and Co Ltd, 1897), accessed 6 October 2014, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42857/42857-h/42857-h.htm .

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Searching for someone else?
First: Last:

No known carriers of William's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Images: 1
William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850
William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850


William is 32 degrees from Rosa Parks, 26 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 14 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

W  >  Wordsworth  >  William Wordsworth