Small Craft

Late 19th & Early 20th Century British Yachting

The Sailors: Amateur British & Irish Yachtsmen Before World War One

W. Edward Wigfull, 1875–19?

William Edward Wigfull was a cruising yachtsmen with a fondness for the southern coast of Essex and the still waters of the swatchways therein. Wigfull was, professionally, an illustrator—both for newspapers and books and magazines. He worked regularly with prolific author Percy F. Westerman.

It appears that Wigfull was born in Sheffield (Ecclesall Bierlow), the youngest child of William and Ann Wigfull. His father was an agricultural implement maker and his oldest brother James appears to have been an architect. Dick Durham notes in The Magician of the Swatchways that Wigfull lived on a houseboat on Benfleet Creek in Essex. According to the 1911 census of England and Wales Wigfull was married to Alice Rhoda Wigfull (maiden name unknown) and the two were, at that time, living with her family in Leamington, Warwickshire.

He contributed to The Yachting Monthly on a regular basis in the pre-war years, particularly during 1913 and 1914 and well into the 1920's. In addition to publishing under his own name he also contributed under the nom de plume of "Handy Billy".

His article Round About Canvey describes an adventure in exploring Canvey Island and Leigh (which is apparently where he kept his boat). He mentions his wife and sister-in-law (Charlotte Elizabeth Green according to the 1911 census) along with a daughter who must have been born shortly after 1911. The article is accompanied by a lovely full-page illustration of Canvey Island that he did himself.