William Avery was born in 1832 in Feckenham, a civil parish in the Borough of Redditch in Worcestershire, England. He was baptized at St. Stephens, a branch of the Church of England, located in the centre of Redditch. He was the eldest son of John Avery (1807–1865), a needle maker/needle manufacturer from Headless Cross and Catherine Johnson (1806–1888).
William had at least three brothers and a sister: Charles (1834–1911), Benjamin (1834–1846), Joseph (1839–1915) and Catherine (1842–1875). His two brothers that survived to adulthood were also employed in the needle industry.
William Avery married Maria Proctor Dingley in 1855 at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Sherborne, Dorset. Shortly thereafter they returned to Headless Cross where they lived for the rest of their lives. They had four children: Helen Grace (1856-1860), William John (1859–1869), Benjamin Ricardo (1862–1947) and Charles Harold (1867–1943).
In addition to creating needle cases, Mr. Avery wrote a book entitled "Old Redditch Being an Early History of the Town from 1800-1850". His youngest son, Charles, who wrote under the pseudonym, Harold Avery, was the author of over 50 children's books.
After suffering from deafness and heart problems for many years, William died of heart disease in 1899 in Headless Cross at age 67. He died suddenly but peacefully while sitting in the garden at his residence. A special memorial service was held at the Wesleyan Church in Headless Cross on 17 September 1899, at which a 21-page pamphlet entitled "In Memoriam William Avery, J.P. of Headless Cross, Redditch", published by the local newspaper, was distributed. It sold at the service for three pence, for the benefit of the Unsectarian Benevolent Society of the Poor of Headless Cross which was founded by Mr. and Mrs. Avery in 1856.
Mr. Avery was well known in the Redditch area not only for his commercial success as the head of the W. Avery & Son firm but also for his philanthropy. Soon after his marriage, he and his wife established a fund for the poor of Headless Cross. Together they organized musical concerts which, because of his reputation as a musician, attracted large influential audiences which added to the organizations coffers. The Avery's also created a clothing club so they could literally "feed the hungry" and "cloth the naked". William helped to establish the Redditch Literary and Scientific Institute and the local School of Art. He served on the Feckenham district school board and was a staunch supporter of public elementary education. He delivered a series of lectures on Old Redditch to enthusiastic crowds which were eventually published in 1887 and continued to give lectures on a variety of topics. In politics he was a liberal. Later in life William was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for Worcestershire and sat for a short time on the bench at Redditch, however had to give it up due to his increased deafness. He was an active member of the Wesleyan Church where he played the organ for 50 years, taught Sunday school for 40 years and attended numerous Wesleyan meetings and conferences. He was a prominent citizen in all aspects of life in the area in which he lived, being known and beloved by friends and neighbours alike for his sincerity, integrity, humour and wit.