William was the eldest child of Samuel and Eliza. In 1901, when the Census was taken, he was living with his parents and two younger sisters at 23 Hallam Street, Cale Green, Stockport. He was then aged 14 and working as a leather printer.
In the June quarter of 1912, he married Jane Hannah Lane. In the 1920s, she was living at 83 Higher Hillgate, but it is not known if this was the home she shared with William.
He originally enlisted into one of the Territorial Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment and was given 2524 as his service number. This was probably the local 6th Battalion and the number suggests he might have enlisted around Christmas of 1914. His medal entitlement records at the National Archives show that he must have served abroad on active service with the Cheshires.
His overseas service is a mystery as the above Labour Corps unit was a home service company comprised men deemed unfit for the rigours in the trenches. William would have been working as a labourer on a local farm, releasing a fitter man to fight at the Front. He will have died from natural causes or an accident.
Labour Corps records published after the War show that he had previously served with the 10th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment (service number 43648). However, this service could not have been overseas as it is not mentioned on the medal records. Although it probably cannot now be confirmed, it is possible to speculate that soon after going on active service with the Cheshires, William was discharged from the army due to ill health. It is actually more likely that this was because he had a very poor physical fitness - records show this was a particular problem for the 6th Cheshires in 1915. It is possible that he then re-enlisted, possibly as a conscript in 1916. The Labour Corps was formed at the beginning of 1917 from men who were not fighting fit and it is possible that this is why William was transferred.