Faulder Family Genealogy Faulder Family Genealogy

30 August, 2020

Are We Related: George Willett (1. b ~1862 at Whitechapel)

This post, and its pair, is in response to a comment about a possible relationship between the Willetts (from Colchester – “my ancestors”, as researched elsewhere on this website) and a line of Willetts in the East End of London. The key link seems to be a George Willett born around 1862 or 1863.

This post examines how I am related to this George Willett. A second post looks at the other line.

The comment:

By Lee Willett — 2 June, 2020 @ 3:02 pm

Have used your website a couple of time as I investigated my Willett family tree. The stories about Lewis and Wilfred in the First World War were very touching. Thank You.

My Great, Great, Great Grandad was John Willett – who was William Willett Snr’s younger older brother and therefore I think we share some lineage. I have also got some photos of George Willett who was William Willett’s cousin if you are interested.


Amazing how history comes back to find you sometimes.

Stay safe

Comment on Are We Related: Willett summary page

A later email from Lee indicated:

… John (1834 – 1878) was the older brother to William Senior.
He was married to a Maria Willett (maiden name Mills)
On your chart below John Willett’s son George (1862 – 1936) is my Great, Great Grand Father. 
And then his first son Arthur Willett (1890-1978) was my Great Grandad.

Email from Lee

The first part of this ancestry (William Willett and his wife Maria Mills and older brother John) I recognised as being in my family tree. The descendants of George Willett, son of John Willett and Eliza Fenning, seem to be, for me, the new relatives.

John Willett’s relationship to the Colchester Willetts

George Willett and his parents were added sometime ago to my family tree, so this family bears revalidation.

From Essex Parish Records (Images online at Essex Record Office) I can confirm John’s parentage via his baptismal record.

No 837
2 Feby John, Everard & Maria Willett of St Leonards, Innkeeper

1834 Entry in Baptismal Register for St Leonards, Colchester (D/P 245/1/6 p105 – Image 56)

This links John to his parents, who we identify through their abode and the father’s profession.

John’s marriage to Eliza Fenning is also found in the Parish Registers at Essex Record Office:

149 In the parish of St Leonard, Colch in the Couty of Essex
September 10th
John Willett, 24 Bachelor, Millwright, of St Leonards
Eliza Fenning, 25 Spinster, of St Leonards
Groom’s father: Everard Willett, Publican
Bride’s father: Robert Fenning, Baker
Married in Parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church by me, Francis Curtis
This Marriage was solemnized between us, John Willett, Eliza Fenning
in the Presence of us, William Fenning, Maria Willett

1857 Entry in Marriage Register for St Leonards, Colchester (D/P 245/1/17 page 75 – Image 77)

This links the Groom back to his parents and then the Groom to the Bride.

The 1851 Census shows John (a Millwright’s Apprentice) with his parents in Colchester (Queens Head Inn, Hythe St).

The 1861 Census shows him (a Coal Merchant) with his wife and 3 sons in Colchester (79, Hythe St).

NameRelationshipMarital StatusSexAgeImplied Year of BirthOccupationBirthplace
John WillettHeadMarriedMale281833Coal MerchantColchester, Essex
Eliza WillettWifeMarriedFemale291822Colchester, Essex
John WillettSonUnmarriedMale21859Colchester, Essex
Harry WillettSonUnmarriedMale11860
Arthur WillettSonUnmarriedMale4 months1861

1861 Census John Willett & Family

There is no sign of a “John Willett, Millwright” in the 1861 England & Wales Census, so I would presume that he changed profession – the couple’s ages and places of birth in the extract above are consistent. William Mills, whose son William married Susannah Willett (John’s First Cousin) in 1854, was listed as a Coal Merchant in Colchester in the 1851 Census; It is possible that being a Coal Merchant was viewed as a “Family Business”.

In 1871 it appears that John and his family have moved to Whitechapel in London. The Census shows for 75, Leman Street, St Mary Whitechapel:

NameRelationshipMarital StatusSexAgeImplied Year of BirthOccupationBirthplace
John WIllettHeadMarriedMale381833Coal MerchantColchester, Essex
Eliza WillettWifeMarriedFemale391832Colchester, Essex
John WillettSonMale121859Colchester, Essex
Arthur WillettSonMale101861Colchester, Essex
George WillettSonMale81863Whitechapel, Middlesex
Charles WillettSonMale31868Whitechapel, Middlesex
Eliza FenningNieceUnmarriedFemale181853Colchester, Essex

1871 Census John Willett & Family

Is this the same John Willett in 1871 as recorded in 1861 – given relocation?

  • Places of Birth match
  • Head & Wife Ages consistent with Marriage record
  • Two Children details match (Harry presumed to have died?)
  • Profession same
  • Eliza Fenning as Niece matches to Wife’s maiden name
  • Conclusion: This is the same John Willett

Aside: Business at Beaumont Quay

There is a notice in the London Gazette of 9 May 1865 (Issue: 22967 Page: 2462) stating:

Notice is hereby given, that the partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Maximillian Bates and John Willett, of Thorpletoken, near Colchester, in the County of Essex, carrying on business there under the style or firm of Willett and Co, as Wharfingers, and Coal, Lime and Timber Merchants, and also as Freighter or Carriers by Water, and owners of a barge called the Matilda and Amy, were this day dissolved by mutual consent. All moneys due to the late firm are to be received, and all debts due from the firm are to be paid, by the said John Willett. — Dated this 21st day of April, 1865

London Gazette of 9 May 1865 (Issue: 22967 Page: 2462)

I can’t find Thorpletoken; it is not on the Navigable part of the River Colne below Middlemill Weir in Colchester.

It is probably a miss-print for Thorpe-le-Soken – a village 20km East by South of Colchester. Close to it there is a Beaumont Quay at the top of Hamford Water. The Quay was connected by a short canal to the navigable part of Hamford Water. At Beaumont there were Lime Kilns which are now a scheduled monument.

South East Essex showing Colchester and Thorpe-le-Soken
South East Essex showing Colchester and Thorpe-le-Soken
Open Street Map

The Historic England website includes this description:

The quay itself, the remains of the sailing barge [the Rose], the associated store where the traded goods would have been stowed away and the lime kiln representing associated industrial enterprise together give vivid testimony to the nature and scale of the quayside activities.

The quay and lime kiln at Beaumont flourished during the 19th century with barges bringing in cargoes of coal and chalk (some of which went to fuel and provide the raw material for the lime kiln), manure, building materials and agricultural produce. By the early years of the 20th century however, trade had declined, the limekiln ceased production and by 1921 the quay was out of use.

Historic England Website, “Beaumont Quay, Hamford Water: a 19th century quay and lime kiln” [Accessed 21 August 2020]

Given the nature of the businesses described by Historic England and how closely they match to the businesses described in the London Gazette notice, it is almost certain that the notice should have referred to Thorpe-le-Soken.

The wreck of the Rose, a Thames sailing barge registered at Maldon, lies by the abandoned quay at Beaumont-cum-Moze. Barges regularly took Essex hay and other produce to London, but now the cutting leading through the marshes to the open sea has silted up. The quay itself is made from stones brought from a former London Bridge.
The quay and warehouse at the inland end of the canal in 2002, before restoration. The wreck is the Rose, a 42-ton coastal barge of 1880 (Peter L Herring CC BY-SA 2.0)

It is conceivable that someone who trained as a Millwright should be involved in a Lime Kiln business. As noted above associated with this business is coal supply and shipping (read “sea-going sailing barges”) – which were businesses associated with both Everard Willett (b. 1803; Coal Merchant in 1845 per the Marriage Register of his son William) and William Mills (snr b 1803; Coal Merchant 1851 per the Census; Ship Owner in 1858 per the Marriage Register of his daughter Rhoda).

However the 1861 Census (per Family Search) for Beaumont with Moze has the following entry:

Name: John Willott
Occupation: Brage Owner [Barge owner?]
Birthplace: Greenhithe Kent
Age: 48
Residence: Beaumont Oak, Beaumont with Moze
Relationship: Head of Household

1861 Census entry for John Willott on Family Search [accessed 22 August 2020]

This is a far more likely identity for the person in the London Gazette notice – and the census entry is a miss transcription. On The Genealogist (RG9 PN:1093 Page:213) he is described as John Willett and their image supports both this and his occupation as a Barge Owner. So the Beaumont Quay business may be spurious as far as the Colchester Willetts are concerned.

Beaumont Quay features in the 1939 novel Secret Water by Arthur Ransome. (Ref: Wikipedia) Possibly more significantly, Wikipedia reports that Thorpe-le-Soken:

Between 1690 and 1720 Thorpe housed a community of several dozen Huguenot refugees fleeing persecution in France, who are thought to have stayed at the large house still called Comarques. (Source—Huguenot Society records)

WIkipedia entry for Thorpe-le-Soken [accessed 21 August 2020]

Given the rumour that the Willetts were Huguenots, it is probably worth looking at the ancestors and cousin lines of the “John Willett” at Beaumont with Moze in 1861 to see if they are connected with the Colchester Willetts. This will be a separate exercise.

Willetts in Whitechapel

Until now I had not explored this cousin branch of my family tree; now would seem an appropriate time to do so.

The 1871 Census shows George Willett as born in Whitechapel. On Find My Past there is a transcription of “London, Docklands and East End Baptisms” which shows:

First name(s): George
Last name: Willett
Birth year: 1862
Birth date: 16/12/1862
Baptism year: 1863
Baptism date: 11 Jan 1863
Address: 75 Leman Street
Father’s first name(s): John
Father’s occupation: Coal Merchant
Mother’s first name(s): Eliza
Parish: St Mary, Whitechapel
Church address: Whitechapel High Street
County: Middlesex
Country: England

London, Docklands And East End Baptisms on Find My Past

The GRO Birth Index for this birth also gives us his mother’s maiden name.

Name: Willett, George
Mother’s Maiden Surname: Fenning
GRO Reference: GRO Reference: 1863  M Quarter in WHITECHAPEL  Volume 01C  Page 422

GRO Birth Index entry for George Willett, b Whitechapel 1862

Together these give us the link between George Willett and his family (including his mother’s) and a date of birth for George.

Pursuing George and his family through the the 3 Census records from 1871 to 1891 we find possible Census entries:

  • 1871: George Willett, Leman St Whitechapel, 8yo YoB: 1863; PoB: Whitechapel, Middlesex (as above)
  • 1881: George Willett, Leman St Whitechapel, 17yo YoB: 1864; PoB: Whitechapel, Middlesex; Shopman (Gen)
  • 1891: George Willett, Leman St Whitechapel, 23yo YoB: 1868; PoB: Whitechapel, London; Shop Man Dealer
  • 1871: George E Willett, Gloucester Rd, Islington, 9yo YoB: 1862; PoB: Islington, Middlesex
  • 1891: George Willett, Crownfield Rd, W Ham, 28yo YoB: 1863; PoB: Henham, Essex; Labourer

The first three look as if they relate to our man, whilst the others may be spurious and unrelated. The age on number 3 appears wrong but other details match.

In 1881 the family is still in Leman St (now at 143), Whitechapel, but Eliza, a widow, is now the head of the household.

NameRelationshipMarital StatusSexAgeImplied Year of BirthOccupationPlace of Birth
Eliza WillettHeadWidowFemale491832Corn DealerColchester, Essex
JohnSonSingleMale221859Corn DealerColchester, Essex
ArthurSonSingleMale201861Corn DealerColchester, Essex
GeorgeSonSingleMale171864Shopman (Gen) Whitechapel, Middlesex
CharlesSonSingleMale131868Whitechapel, Middlesex

1881 Census Eliza Willett & Family

The Coal Merchants now seem to have become Corn Dealers.

In 1891 they are still at 143 Leman St, but the ages are a bit out – Perhaps Eliza was wanting to fictionalise her age and decided to do the same for her sons?

NameRelationshipMarital StatusAgeImplied Year of BirthAlternative Year of BirthOccupationPlace of Birth
Eliza WillettHeadWidow5018411832Colchester, Essex
John WillettSonSingle3018611859Corn DealerColchester, Essex
Arthur WillettSonSingle2518661861Corn DealerColchester, Essex
George WillettSonSingle2318681863Shopman DealerWhitechapel, London
Charles WillettSonSingle2018711868Shopman DealerWhitechapel, London

1891 Census Eliza Willett & Family

The alternative year of birth above is taken from the 1871 and 1881 Census records. Note that all the sons are listed as single.

Spreading their wings

In 1901 the family (less Charles) is again at 143 Leman St.

NameRelationshipMarital StatusSexAgeImplied Year of BirthOccupationPlace of Birth
Eliza WillettHeadWidowFemale681833Colchester, Essex
JohnSonSingleMale381863Corn MerchantColchester, Essex
ArthurSonSingleMale361865Corn MerchantColchester, Essex

1901 Census Eliza WIllett & Family

Charles is now a Corn Dealer and married (2 March 1897) to Florence Maud Willett (a half-cousin) and living in Shoreditch.

In 1911 the family is more dispersed with George Leaving the fold but the others still at 143 Leman Street where John is now the Head of Household.

NameRelationshipMarital StatusSexAgeImplied Year of BirthOccupationPlace of Birth
John WIllettHeadSingleMale481863Corn DealerColchester
ArthurBrotherSingleMale461865Corn DealerColchester

1911 John WIllett & Household

Again the ages are a bit variable but given the other details and the consistency of the address, this is the same family. On Find My Past the occupations are transcribed as “Car Dealer” – which could have been either a very early motor car dealer or a dealer in horse drawn cars. Examination of the image however shows that they are still Corn Dealers.

The London Gazette records when this occupation comes to an end. Two notices, one for John and one for Arthur, reveal the reason:

In the High Court of Justice. — In Bankruptcy.
No. 766 of 1913
Re JOHN WILLETT and ARTHUR WILLETT, trading as Willett Brothers, of 143, Leman-street, Whitechapel, in the county of London, Corn Dealers.
NOTICE is hereby given, that there being in the hands of the Trustee in the above bankruptcy a surplus, estimated at [£129 13s.|£129 17s.], arising from the separate estate of [Arthur|John] Willett, one of the bankrupts, and there being no separate creditors of such bankrupt, it is the intention of the Trustee, at the expiration of 14 days from the appearance of this notice in the Gazette, to transfer such surplus to the credit of the joint estate in the said bankruptcy. — Dated this 2nd day of October, 1914.
E. S. GREY, Official Receiver and Trustee of the Property of the above named Bankrupt, Bankruptcy Buildings, Carey-street, Lincoln’s Inn, London.

Notices in the London Gazette of 2 October 1914 (Issue: 28922 Page: 7867)

George has flown the nest, Looking at the 1911 Census reveals several possibilities (looking at year of birth 1862 +/- 1year):

Marital StatusSexAgeImplied Year of BirthOccupationPlace of Birth
11 New Road Denton
George WillettHeadMarriedMale511860PlatelayerEast Croydon
2Victoria St
Littleport, Cambs
George WillettHeadMarriedMale491862Farm LabourerLittleport
369 Water Ln
George WillettHeadMarriedMale501861Carpenter And JoineryMiddlesex
467 E Av Manor Pk E,
East Ham
George WillettHeadMarriedMale471864General AssistantWhitechapel
5129 Manby Rd Cann Hall
George WillettHeadMarriedMale481863Labourer RailwayHenham

1911 Census Possibilities for George Willett

We can exclude some of these possibilities if we can find matching 1901 Census records for them – in which case they cannot be the George we have already found in the 1901 Census

No. 1 has a closely matching (profession, wife, town of residence, place of birth, year of birth +/-1) record in the 1901 Census
No. 2 has a closely matching (profession, family, address, place of birth, year of birth +/-1) record in the 1901 Census
No. 3 has a closely matching (profession, family, town of residence, year of birth +/-1) record in the 1901 Census
No. 4 has a no closely matching record in the 1901 Census – other than the one we have previously identified with John and Eliza’s son George.
No. 5 has a closely matching (profession, family, area of residence, place of birth, year of birth) record in the 1901 Census

This would exclude all except No.4 as being George Willett, son of John & Eliza Willett.

  • Birthplace is right, Year of Birth out by almost 2 years (b 12/1862)
    • But no other Docklands and East End Baptisms found for George Willett 1862 +/- 5yrs
  • East Ham is about 7-8 km away from Whitechapel – looks like a rehousing type of move?
  • General Assistant is a bit of a step down from the 1901 “Manager” (1891: “Shopman Dealer”), but plausible especially if in a bigger establishment.

No death record or suitable migration record between 1901 and 1911 can be found for George, so this census record (67 East Avenue Manor Park E, East Ham) looks like the most likely record for George.

NameRelationshipMarital StatusSexAgeImplied Year of BirthOccupationPlace of Birth
George WillettHeadMarriedMale471864General AssistantWhitechapel, Middlesex
Margaret Jane WillettWifeMarriedFemale441867Domestic DutiesEdinburgh Resident
Margaret Eliza Mary WillettChildFemale81903Goes to SchoolEast Ham, Essex

1911 Census George Willett

FreeBMD reveals the Marriage Record and the Birth Record for Margaret Eliza Mary.

EventDateSurnameFirst Name(s)Registration
MarriageQ3 1901WillettGeorgeWest Ham4a578
GoodfellowMargaret Jane
BirthQ3 1902WillettMargaret Eliza MWest Ham4a245

Free BMD Entries for the above family


This post has verified the relationship of a George Willett b 1862 in Whitechapel, London, to Everard Willett of Colchester. It has then traced George forward through census records to the (currently) most recently available one of 1911.

It finds his marriage in Q3 1901 to Margaret Jane Goodfellow and the subsequent birth of his daughter Margaret Eliza in Q3 1902. This would appear to be his first marriage.

1 Comment »

  1. […] post, and its pair, is in response to a comment about a possible relationship between the Willetts (from Colchester […]

    Pingback by Are We Related: George Willett (2. b ~1862 at Henham) « Faulder Family Genealogy — 30 August, 2020 @ 9:17 pm

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