William was born in 1891 in Great Hallingbury, Essex. He was the son of Benjamin and Mary Ann Burrell (nee Pomfret) and was one of 9 children. The census information reveals that in 1891 he was aged 2 months and living with his parents, brother and 2 sisters, at Beldams Lane, Great Hallingbury, Essex.
By 1901 the family had moved to Spellbrook Lane, Sawbridgeworth, Herts. and in 1911 the census records William, then aged 20, living with his parents, brother and 4 sisters in Spellbrook Nr. Bishop's Stortford, Herts., which is in the Parish of Sawbridgeworth. His occupation listed as a farm labourer, but was currently out of work.
William married Annie Peternoster on the 14th February 1914, in the Parish of Sawbridgeworth.