William Domkowicz (a.k.a. Wilhelm, and also Domkowies) 1820 - 1898

In April 2014 I received this information from someone who was researching Walkley Cemetery in Sheffield

"Just came across your site, looking for information on those who are buried there. I attach a document giving a brief outline to William Domkowicz who was buried in the cemetery on 16 August 1898.

An unremarkable man, but interesting in that he was one of the first 28 refugees to arrive in Sheffield from Hungary in 1851. A newspaper article, to which he has put his name (amongst others) is also shown in the document. The newspaper article came from the Northern Star dated 9/8/1851."

Here is a transcription of the document

Whilst no documentary evidence has been obtained to verify William (or Wilhelm)'s birth, the available evidence points to him being born in Rudnik in about 1820. Unfortunately, there are several places by the name of Rudnik in Poland, but there are a number of birth records for the Domkowicz family name in the Posen (now Poznan) area of Prussia (now Poland), and there is a village of Rudnik some 45km west from Posnan. A clue may be in that in several of the early Census records, William has given his birthplace as Rudnik, Poland, Austria - which was part of the Prussian empire at the time of his birth. According to the current Polish map, Rudnik is almost due west of Poznan.

The surname Domkowicz is spelled in a variety of ways in various records. However the earliest known record for the family is the newspaper article shown below in which Wilhelm had added his name. The significance of this document should not be underestimated, as it does confirm that, with 27 others, William (or Wilhelm) arrived at Liverpool, England from Poland in about 1848 following the intervention of Sir Stratford Canning, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during the Hungarian Revolution, and the people of Sheffield welcomed the 28 refugees. William is shown as one of the signataries of the newspaper article.

The first census record found for William is in the 1861 England Census (Source Citation: Class: RG9; Piece: 3480; Folio: 12; Page: 22; GSU roll: 543139.), where he is shown as William Domkowies, aged 37, single, and living alone at 58 Mill Sands, North Sheffield. The census records that he was employed as a time-keeper. On the census he declares his place of birth as Poland. 

By the time of the 1871 England Census (Source Citation: Class: RG10; Piece: 4699; Folio: 190; Page: 9; GSU roll: 847239.) William is found living at 12, Goulders Building, Sheffield & Rotherham Road, Attercliffe Cum Darnall, Yorkshire. By this time he is aged 49 and is working as a commercial clerk. According to the census, he has a wife, Elizabeth, who is aged 28, however we already know that William did not marry Elizabeth until 1876, although they were living as husband and wife. William and Elizabeth have three children - Mary Ellen who was born in the Jul-Aug-Sep Quarter of 1866 and the birth was registered in Ecclesall Bierlow. Daughter Florence Julia was born in the summer of 1868 in Attercliffe Cum Darnall, Sheffield. Son William Henry was born on 14th July 1870 at Lodge Road, Attercliffe Cum Darnall, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. His mother is shown as Elizabeth Domkowicz (nee Shipstone) on his birth certificate. 

In the April-May-June Quarter of 1872 son Julian Tadens (Julius Thaddeus) was born and in the January-February-March Quarter of 1874 daughter Rosa Adelaide was born. William eventually married Elizabeth - in the July Quarter of 1876, but this was in the Manchester area. (England & Wales FreeBMD Marriage Index 1837-1983 for William Domkowicz and Elizabeth Shipston. Year of Registration: 1876 Quarter of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep, District: Manchester (1837-1924) County: Lancashire, Volume: 8d Page: 348). Why they were in Manchester is unknown. The Parish record for the marriage shows William's father named as Daniel - presumably the English equivalent of a Polish name, who appears to have been a lawyer (or possibly a Sawyer).

In the April-May-June Quarter of 1875 William and Elizabeth's daughter Florence Julia died.

By the time of the 1881 England Census (Source Citation: Class: RG11; Piece: 4664; Folio: 77; Page: 2; Line: ; GSU roll:1342128)., the family had moved to 644 Brightside Lane, Brightside Bierlow, Sheffield, Yorkshire and William was employed as a book keeper in a factory. He declares his birthplace as Austrian Poland. By this time, his family had grown and in the household on the day of the Census were his wife Elizabeth (aged 39), sons William Henry (aged 10). Julius (or Julian) Domkowicz (aged 8) and Casimeer Valentine (aged 4) and daughters Mary E. (aged 14) and Rose Adelaide (aged 7). 

There must have been some tension between William and Elizabeth - or at least Elizabeth tended to spend too much money and incurred some debts. The newspaper notice below, dated 4th November 1890, shows that William tired of Elizabeth's spending and issued the notice as a warning to others. The family address is given as 17, Berkeley Road,
Attercliffe Common, Sheffield.

By the time of the 1891 England Census (Source Citation: Class: RG12; Piece: 3840; Folio 109; Page 49; GSU roll: 6098950), the family were still living at 17 Berkley Road, Attercliffe Cum Darnall, Sheffield, Yorkshire and William was employed as a Clerk. On the census the family name is shown as 'Dom Korcz'. It has to be appreciated that, up until the 1911 England Census, the forms were completed by Enumerators who recorded what they were told (or heard) It is assumed that Julian's father, who would have provided the information to the enumerator, probably did not speak English particularly well and this, coupled with the unusual family name, resulted in the surname being incorrectly recorded. 

In the household were William (aged 71), his sons Casimeer (aged 14 and working as an office boy), Julian (shown as Tadeus - his middle name - aged 18 and working as a steel turner) and William Henry (aged 20 and working as a steel model-maker). Also in the household were Daughter in-law Nelly (aged 18 and married to William Henry) and grand-daughter Flossy who is shown as just two months' old. Elizabeth, William's wife, does not appear on the census at the home address and has not been traced elsewhere.

Bearing in mind that there may have been some domestic strife between them, it is possible that Elizabeth had left the family home. No death record has been found for Elizabeth. Indeed, it is possible that this marriage followed a divorce, but no divorce records have been traced. Interestingly, there is an Elizabeth Domkowicz still living, on independent means, at the home of Fred and Mary Hobson at 28 Leader Road, Hillsborough, Sheffield on the 1911 England Census. The census information matches the age of Elizabeth and all indications are that this person was William's
(former?) wife. 

Whatever the reasons, it seems that William married (possibly bigamously) again a few months later in the Summer of 1881. This time, he married Elizabeth Kay in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield. (England & Wales FreeBMD Marriage Index 1837-1983 for William Domkowicz and Elizabeth Kay Year of Registration: 1881 Quarter of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep District: Ecclesall Bierlow County: Yorkshire, Volume: 9c Page: 322).

In early August 1883 William and his new wife Elizabeth had a daughter - the first by that marriage. She was baptised Florence Eva on 14th August 1883 in Carbrook, Sheffield. Sadly, Florence Eva died very shortly afterwards in the August or September of 1883 and daughter Rosa Adelaide (by his first wife) died in the April-May-Jun Quarter of 1886 aged 12 years. Daughter Mary Ellen went on to marry a Charles Ezra Hoyland in 1889 and, after his death, she married Charles James Donger. Both marriages produced descendants. 

It is known that William died in the July-August-September Quarter of 1898 at an estimated age of 79. It is worth noting that the Death Register shows his surname spelled as Donkowicz (England & Wales Death Index 1837-1983 for William Donkowicz, Year: 1898, Quarter of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep. Estimated Birth Year: 1819. Age at Death: 79 District of Registration: Ecclesall Bierlow. County: Derbyshire, Yorkshire - West Riding Volume: 9c, Page: 220).. According to the National Burial Index records, William was buried on 16th August 1898 at St Mary's Church, Walkley, Sheffield. Further research reveals that the grave number at St Mary's Church is C444 and that no memorial inscription appears on the grave. The address given for William at the date of death was 19 Blake Grove Road, Sheffield. The burial was conducted by the then minister of the church, the Rev. Thomas Smith.

I passed this details on to  Hugh Waterhouse who has access to the records of Walkley Cemetery and he kindly found this additional information about William and his family.

Grave C444 (public grave, no MI)

DOMKOWICZ William 16 Aug 1898 19 Blakegrove Rd 79 Thomas Smith

(name/date of burial/address or place where death occurred/age/minister)

(9 burials in this public grave, all in August 1898)

I note the difficulty in finding the birth details for the child Mary Ellen. I believe this is her:

GRO Births SEP Qtr 1866 Shipston Mary E D Ecclesall B. 9c 261

This is from FreeBMD. The Sheffield Family History Society's re-indexing of Sheffield births (at  http://libplugins.sheffield. gov.uk/bmd/SearchMain.aspx ) has a fuller version of her name: Mary Ellen 'Doncouch' SHIPSTON

It must be a  mis-hearing or a mis-transcription of Domkowicz.

She married in 1889:

GRO Marriages JUN Qtr 1889 Domkouriez Mary Ellen Hoyland Charles Ezra Sheffield 9c 541

But her husband died young: GRO Deaths SEP Qtr 1892 Hoyland Charles Ezra 27 Sheffield 9c 340

She re-married a few months later: GRO Marriages MAR Qtr 1893 Donger Charles James Hoyland Mary Ellen Ecclesall B. 9c 380

She died in 1903: GRO Deaths MAR Qtr 1903 Donger Mary Ellen 36 Wortley 9c 167

Mary Ellen is buried with some SHIPSTONs:

Burials in Attercliffe Municipal Cemetery
Grave B712nc (nc=non consecrated)
SHIPSTON Levi 3 Feb 1876 77 steel melter Janson Street  Attercliffe
SHIPSTONE Mary 8 Nov 1891 92 widow 29 Spring Place Attercliffe
DONGER Mary Ellen 13 Jan 1903 36 wife of Chas James 61 Rotherham Street Attercliffe
KERRY Edwin 13 Jan 1903 3d son of Edwin 32 Ardmore Street Attercliffe

Her first husband is buried with a child from each marriage:

Burials in Tinsley Park Cemetery
grave KB55nc (nc=non consecrated)
DONGER Phoebe Elizabeth 31 Jul 1896 11w dau of Chas Jas 63 Rotherham Street Attercliffe
HOYLAND Charles Ezra 29 Aug 1892 27 labourer 37 Amberley Road Attercliffe
HOYLAND Leonard 24 Feb 1891 6m son of Chas. Ezra 37 Amberley Rd Attercliffe

(This grave seems to have been used as a public grave some time later, 1916-1919.)

A daughter, Lilian M DONGER, is with Charles James and Mary Ellen in 1901, born in Hull. This is her birth:

GRO Births DEC Qtr 1894 Donger   Lilian Maud Sculcoates 9d 199

This may be her death: GRO Deaths MAR Qtr 1941 Donger   Lilian M 46 Wisbech 3b 1616

…and the death of her father: GRO Deaths MAR Qtr 1955 Donger Charles J  84 Wisbech 4a 425

If anyone has any further information about William's life and family, please contact me


C section no 444. - William's final resting place

That part of the section is in the most overgrown in the cemetery and as William was buried in a public grave there is no headstone/mi. It is just two rows behind the mostly covered headstone to the right in photos

In July 2014 the section was cleared and William's unmarked grave was uncovered - it is to the right of the red marble headstone 


This is a cutting from the Liverpool Mercury dated 3rd July 1851. It is interesting in that it gives the issue of Hungarian immigration a wider perspective

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This page was last updated on 08/08/14 14:42