5 Celebrations

                                                                                       William Warner Major


Jill C. Major, Author 

                                     St George's Hanover Church                                           


 William Warner Major was 17 years old when his father died. It is likely that he had already chosen the profession of artist, because he was able to continue in that direction, a suitable profession for the son of a "gentleman." But while William was being groomed as an artist, his younger siblings prospects were altered considerably after the death of their father. This is evidenced by their ages at marriage, place of marriage, and choice of occupations.

The tradition in the Major family had been to delay marriage until a bride with a dowry of land could be found. The males often waited until they were in their late twenties or early thirties. Henry was 18, Richard age 24, and Elizabeth 21 when they married.1 Mary Jane disappeared from the records after 1821, so she probably died young.

 St. Pancras, Old Church cemetery.  Melanie Major Rogers, 3rd great granddaughter of William Warner Major, is reading the old head stones (March 12, 2000.)


Henry and Elizabeth married in the rural church of St. Pancras. According to the Guide to St Pancras, Old Church, "By the mid nineteenth century, a hundred years of the Industrial Revolution had scattered many a country population and turned villages into ghost towns. The Old Church of St Pancras had always been somewhat isolated, and now the City (London) had drawn the parish’s centre of gravity further and further towards itself. In 1822 all parochial rights were transferred to the new parish church in Euston Road, half a mile away to the South. The Old Church became a Chapel of Ease and gradually fell into disuse." 2

Richard married Martha Ann Harvey married in St. Anne, Soho, a slum area in the early 19th century.   

St. Anne, Soho History

Richard learned the trade of house painter and glazier. His wife, Martha Ann Harvey, added to the family income by doing laundry.3 Elizabeth married John Robert Terry, an upholsterer. Henry died young, before he was 35 years old, and his occupation is unknown.4

 St.  Pancras, Old Church in the Spring of 2000.


 William, however, married age 28. He chose Sarah Coles, age 20. He may have delayed marriage, hoping for a more prosperous companion, but in the end, it appears he married for love. Sarah Coles, an Oxfordshire woman, had traveled to London for work. She was a hat maker. Perhaps she lived on her future companion’s street. Still, Major wasn’t taking his fiancé to the Old St. Pancras Church. He chose a grander, more celebrated edifice, Church of St. George, Hanover Square.

 St. George's Hanover Square, 1842 (Engraving owned by Jll C. Major).  This engraving was made only 10 years after the marriage of William Warner Major and Sarah Coles, so the clothes they wore to their wedding would have been similar to those in this picture.   



"St George's has long figured in fact and fiction as a centre for fashionable weddings, and was referred to by a Victorian writer as ‘the London Temple of Hymen’...A most remarkable wedding was that Prince Augutus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, 6th son of George III, to Lady Augusta Murray, daughter of the Earl of Dunmore...Conan Doyle used St. George's as the venue for a marriage ceremony (1892).  See "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and the chapter headed "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor". Eliza Doolittle's father Alfred, of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion fame was also married in St. George's, but neither of these dates appear in the register!"5 

Weddings at St. George's


There they wed on April 2, 1832. William's brother and sister-in-law Henry and Elizabeth Major signed the marriage certificate as witnesses.6 Sarah proved to be an equal partner in every way. She was adventurous, loyal, courageous, and faithful.

 Wedding certificate passed down to Bernard D. Major, gread grandson of William Warner Major and Sarah Coles.


George Frederick Handel belonged to the Parish of St. George's Hanover Square.  After he moved to Brook Street in 1724, he was consulted about the organ.  Handel had a pew and was a regular worshipper.

Handel and St. George's

 St. George's Hanover Square, Spring 2000.  The Church quite large and is surrounded with buildings, so it is difficult to take a picture of it with a little camera. 



William and Sarah began their family with William Warner Major Jr., who was born May 29, 1836. At the time of his birth, the family had moved to Leicestershire County for unknown reasons, about 130 miles northeast of London.1 William Jr. was followed by Henry Coles Major, named after his mother, Sarah Coles, in 1837. Henry was also born outside of London. 2 Fannie or Frances followed about 1842. She was named after William’s mother, Francis Constance Warner. 3