Absolon’s father, another William, had premises in Market Row, Great Yarmouth. In directories of the period he is described as a hatter and hosier, but he also had a clay pipe manufactory in this row. It is quite possible that young William, born in 1751 in Great Yarmouth, helped in this business by firing and moulding clay pipes. Records of William junior’s early life are limited, as many records were lost in the last war. We know that he was apprenticed to William Manning, a local merchant, in 1776 and was made a Freeman of Great Yarmouth in 1784. That same year an advertisement appeared in the Norwich Mercury stating that: William Absolon had purchased the stock of Mrs. E. Gabon, who is retiring, and he can now offer for sale English and foreign china, table services etc. etc., all on the cheapest terms at his shop, at the lower end of Market Row, at number 4.
Absolon must have done well, as he later moved to larger premises at 25 Market Row. At this period he started advertising that, apart from his retail and wholesale trade, he could offer gilding, enamelling and painting. Market Row has been re-numbered several times over the years, so it is difficult to ascertain the exact site of his premises. Absolon bought in wares from Wedgewood, Davenport, Turner and Staffordshire factories, which he then decorated. He painted dessert services with botanical subjects with the Latin name of the plant inscribed on the plate or dish and also his mark: Absolon Yarm and No. 25. He also decorated Turner Ware and Cream Ware jugs adding mottoes, such as a 'Trifle from Yarmouth', or ' Success to the Trade' or perhaps the name of a sailing ship. At this time he was also enamelling, gilding and engraving glass rummers, decanters and tumblers with views such as: St. Nicholas’ Church, a Yarmouth Coach or a coat of arms, with perhaps a gilded inscription. It is said that Nelson was presented with two rummers by Absolon in 1800: a clever marketing ploy. In 1807, he acquired a shop in King Street, but he kept his Market Row premises on and at the time obtained permission to build ovens somewhere on Deneside. William Absolon junior died in 1815. The business carried on for a time after his death, but the quality of work declined. There are some pieces of Absolon’s work still in existence, which now attract very high prices at auction.