Son of Joseph Ebsworth and Mary Emma, daughter of Robert Fairbrother he was born in Islington, London, 2 September 1824. Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth entered the art school of the Trustees Academy at the age of 14, and studied under Charles Heath Wilson, Sir William Allan and David Scott. In 1848 went to Manchester where he joined the lithographic and letterpress printing firm of Falkner Brothers as chief draughtsman. A watercolourist, he was also an engraver on metal and wood . He exhibited four panoramas he took from the top of Scott's Monument at the Royal Scottish Academy. One of these he engraved, although it was never published. There is a copy in the National Library of Scotland. On leaving Falkners, he went to the Glasgow Government School of Design as a pupil, and afterwards as a master until 1853. He afterwards went up to St John's College, Cambridge, received his BA in 1864, took orders 31 July 1864, and became a curate. He married Margaret, eldest daughter of the Reverend William Blore on the 29 May 1865. In January 1877, he became Vicar of Molash in Kent. In his spare time he took up the study of old ballads, and edited “The Roxburghe Ballads”, as well as other early poetry including an edition of the “Poems of Thomas Carew”. He retired in 1894, which gave him more time for his editorial work. He died at Ashworth in Kent 7 June 1908.