William Garret was the son of a hairdresser in the Bigg Market. He served his apprenticeship with Emerson Charnley, the noted bookseller, where he eventually became the Foreman and then General Manager of the business. Garret later set up his own business in Moseley Street, where he was accepted as a specialist on the works of Thomas Bewick. He was noted for writing a few local songs, including ‘The Gathering of the Whigs’. He compiled several articles, including ‘An account of the Great Floods of Northumberland and Durham’ and edited a black letter manuscript on ‘The Battle of Flodden Fields’.
In 1814 he was admitted into the Stationer’s Company of Newcastle by servitude and continued throughout his life as an active member of society. He was recognised as an ardent municipal reformer and, as a Freeman of the town, he discharged his duties for over 41 years as a Steward on one or other of the Incorporated Companies, including the Skinners and Glovers and also became the Chairman of the Stewards.