William Bramwell was born in Elswick, Lancashire, in February 1759. He was the tenth of eleven children. His parents George and Elizabeth were regular church-goers, attending Cop Chapel, a mile north of Elswick, however, their religion was mainly to do with works rather than faith. They were very insistent that their children should attend church, but George was a very reserved man, giving little love to his children. At the age of six, Bramwell caught small-pox, but he recovered, spending much of his time in bed singing psalms. He received what education was available in those days, but this did not amount to much.
Bramwell helped his father on the farm until he was sixteen, then he went to Liverpool to work for his older brother, who was a respectable merchant, but he never took to the work. He was a very religious boy and was worried about the lifestyle he would have to take on in a lively sea port. He believed that if he had stayed longer he would have been ruined, so he welcomed a call home from his parents. His parents agreed that he should become an apprentice to a currier (leather worker) in Preston.
Bramwell was born near here. This is where he worshipped as a boy.