James Heppell was born on 20th March 1788, he was the only surviving son of John Heppell and Agnes Knowlson.
James became a Freeman of York on 1st March 1803, aged only fourteen, after seven years indentured servitude to William Guest, Cordwainer of York. When James was eighteen he married Agnes Pipes. The marriage record, dated 28th April 1806, notes that Agnes is a spinster, but there is evidence to suggest that Agnes had already married. Her maiden name was Knowlson and her first husband was Richard Pipes. They married in 1800 at Stillington, a few miles north of York, when Agnes was just sixteen. I need to find evidence of Richard’s death to be sure Agnes wasn’t marrying bigamously! Agnes’s maiden name of Knowlson is evidenced on the baptism record of their eldest son, John Heppell, born in the first year of their marriage. James and Agnes went on to have another four children; William, Jeffrey, Robert and Agnes.
James and Agnes made their home in Palmer Lane which is part of the Hungate area in the centre of York, very close to the River Foss. In the early 1800’s this area of York was heavily populated by working class people crammed together in poor quality housing. Many had come to York in search of employment with the railways and the chocolate factories so the area had become built up with cheap housing, lodgings and ale houses. James may have been a frequenter of the ale houses, for in 1826 he was charged with being an idle and disorderly person, refusing to work for his wife and family, and by doing so they had become chargeable to their parish. James was sent to the house of correction with a sentence of one months hard labour. This must have taught James a hard lesson as soon after he became a member of the Total Abstinence Society! On the 1841 census he was working as a shoemaker but by 1851 he was running a grocery shop in nearby Hungate with Agnes. After her death in 1854 he returned to his former trade of shoemaker. James appears on the 1861 census as a visitor to his son Jeffrey’s home in Hungate. He may have been living with the family, perhaps in ill health, as he died on 6th May 1861, shortly after the census was taken.
James was survived by four sons; John, William, Jeffrey and Robert, but sadly, daughter Agnes died in 1844, two years after her marriage to John Todd.