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William was born in Wolverhampton in 1872, the son of Eliza and James Worthington. In 1904, William married Rachel Upton in Wolverhampton. By 1911, he was living at Lower Green, Tettenhall, together with his wife and daughter, Lily. He was working as a domestic gardener.

William enlisted with the 1st/6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 4630). He served in the Sudan War in 1896, and in the South African campaign, prior to the First World War. He rose to become Lance Corporal, but died in Wolverhampton on 5 December 1915. He is buried in the Churchyard of St Michael, Tettenhall Regis, and is remembered on the war memorial at St Michael & All Angels.