Faulder Family Genealogy Faulder Family Genealogy

16 October, 2016

Are We Related: Willetts of Colchester and Abingdon?

Filed under: Are We Related,England,Status: Awaiting Further Work,Willett — Tags: , — David @ 9:45 pm

This post is in response to comments about possible relationships between the Willetts (from Colchester – as researched elsewhere on this website) and a line of Willetts who appear to come from Abingdon, Berkshire.

Did a descendant of one of the Colchester Willetts move to Abingdon – or indeed, vice versa?

Source Comment

Jacqueline Turnbull commented (2015/04/22 at 11:30 pm)

My mother’s maiden name is Willett, her father Edward Willett I do believe is William Willett’s nephew and William Willett the elder’s grandson (1).

I was always told as a child by my grandfather that his father’s family were builders. My grandfather spent the first few years of his life in Hendon in a large house where his older sisters had a governess. My great grandfather John Willett suddenly disappeared when my grandfather was a small child and rumour has it that he committed suicide by throwing himself in the Thames, leaving my great grandmother and 15 children destitute as he had spent his entire fortune, hence the suicide.

I have recently been reading about William Willett and his father William Willett the elder and finding it so interesting. The strangest thing is William Willett the elder, the founder of Willett builders was born in Colchester and his parents were Innkeepers there.

My family are all from London, but in 1957 my grandfather Edward Willett and my grandmother Beat Willett moved from Romford, where I was born and became Landlords of a public house In Colchester where they remained ’til they died. I came up to live in Colchester when I was 21 and am still living there now.

Now here’s the really odd part! Up until two days ago while researching Willett Builders I had no idea that William Willett the elder was born in Colchester and that his parents were Innkeepers, the public house in question The Queens Head no longer exists, apart from the builders it has ironically now become an estate agents and is literally up the road from where I live!

Jacqueline Turnbull 2015/04/22 at 11:30 pm

After further research, Jacqueline Turnbull added (2015/04/26 at 10:54 pm)

I believe that Everard Willett born 1804 is my great great great grandfather as my grandfather Edward Hersant Willett was second cousin to William Willett of Daylight saving fame (2). My great grandfather was John Thomas Willett b 1865 and his father was John Willett. I am trying to piece it altogether but finding it very confusing.

I live close by to the grave of Joseph Willett In St Andrews Church Colchester, but didn’t move here ’til 1984 not realising until a short while ago that the Willett family had roots here, I am originally from Romford and always thought that my mother’s side of the Family the Willetts were from London, my grandfather was born in Hendon.

Jacqueline Turnbull 2015/04/26 at 10:54 pm

And Roger Noack commented (2016/10/11 at 7:39 pm)

Edward Hersant Willett was my great uncle. He was my grandmother’s (Gladys Taylor née Willett) youngest brother. He operated the “Newmarket Tavern” (now gone) in Colchester. Eddie and Beat took over the pub from Harry Taylor who was the eldest son of Gladys Taylor and the brother of my mother, Janette Noack née Taylor. Harry and Bette Taylor then took over the the “Flying Fox” (now gone) on Harwich Road. I have many fond memories of the “Newmarket” and the “Fox”.

Roger Noack 2016/10/11 at 7:39 pm


Jacqueline and Roger

Jacqueline and Roger appear to be second cousins – their common ancestors being their Great Grandparents (2Gs – 2nd cousins) John Thomas Willett (b 1860 at Reading) and his wife Florence Eliza Hersant (b 1863 Marylebone). Thomas and Florence were married in Marylebone in 1885. They appear to have had at least 11 children (Jacqueline understands there were 15). He is described in census records as a carpenter or builder (the same line of business as the Colchester line of Willetts).

His parents were John Willett (b ~1827 Abingdon, Berkshire) and Martha Champion (b ~1824 Donnington, Berkshire). They appear to have had at least 4 children. He is also described in census records as a builder or carpenter. John also appears to have married again after Martha’s death (in 1877). His second wife was Susannah Gray; in 1878 when they married, she would have been about 40. I have not found any children in the 1881 or 1891 Census records for this couple.

The above John Thomas Willett (JTW) and Florence Eliza Hersant had a son Edward Hersant Willett (EHW – b 1908 – Jacqueline’s grandfather).

Jacqueline’s and Roger’s great-grandparent’s relationship to “Daylight” Willett

The suggested relationships from Jacqueline (as she reconciles what her family stories said to what is known about ancestors):

  1. “Edward Willett [EHW] I do believe is William Willett’s nephew and William Willett the elder’s grandson.”
    • This would mean that JTW (father of EHW) is a son of William Willett (the elder).
  2. “I believe that … my grandfather Edward Hersant Willett was second cousin to William Willett of Daylight saving fame”
    • This would mean that JTW (father of EHW) is a first cousin to William Willett (the elder)

The similar occupations and Christian names makes this a tempting possible relationship.

Trying to fit the trees together

Looking at the first relationship (EHW as WW the elder’s grandson) – shown in red in the diagram below, we can see John Willett (husband of Martha) would have to be the same person as William Willett, the elder. Given Jacqueline’s reporting of John Willett’s parentage in her second comment, I think this hypothesis can be rejected.

Time Line of two Willett Families
Timeline of two Willett Families (of Colchester in Yellow, of Abingdon in Blue)

Looking at the second relationship, that Edward Hersant Willett was second cousin to William Willett of Daylight saving fame, means that their grandparents would have to be siblings (so they would have shared Great Grandparents). Which means that John Willett (husband of Martha) would have to be a son of Thomas Willett (husband of Sarah) – shown in green in the diagram above. However Thomas is believed to have been buried in 1808, whilst John was born in about 1827.

Initial Conclusions

This would seem to imply:

  1. The two families are not related, or
  2. There is some other – probably more distant – relationship between the two lines, or
  3. The relationship is spousal – in the Colchester Willett family tree there are a number of cousin marriages where a Willett marries a Willett. I do not know the surnames of the Maria who married Everard Willett or the Sarah who married Thomas Willett, or
  4. There is a mistake in the Colchester genealogy above, such as:
    • The 1808 burial record is for a different Thomas Willett.
    • William Willett the elder had more than four children, but they did not all live with him, or
  5. There is a mistake in the Abingdon genealogy above, such as:
    • John Thomas Willett’s parents are not John Willett and Martha Champion.

Further research

Trying to resolve the issues above:

The top of the Colchester family tree and the burial of Thomas Willett in 1808.

In my post The Willetts of Colchester, Essex (and Daylight Saving) 2 of 2 I have detailed what I know of Thomas, his wife Sarah and his children.

The grave for the Thomas Willett buried in 1808 may confirm that he was the husband of Sarah – particularly if she is buried (3 Jan 1847) in the same grave.

In that post, I identify a few people who are not yet fully accounted for:

  • Thomas Willett b~1791 possible son of Thomas and Sarah
    • He was buried 1836 at Greenstead aged 45. It is possible that he was married and had children.
    • I have not found a conclusive baptism record for him
    • Examination of his grave may show if other family members are buried with him. This might tell us if he had a family.
  • Sarah Willett b 1794 daughter of Thomas and Sarah
    • Baptised 26 May 1811, Greenstead aged about 17
    • I have not yet found a marriage or death record for her.
    • Why her baptism was delayed until the same day as her youngest brother John is not clear.
  • William Willett b~1801 son of Thomas and Sarah
    • Baptised 4 Jan 1801, Greenstead
    • No further conclusive records have been found for him.
  • John Willett b 1806 son of Thomas and Sarah
    • Baptised 26 May 1811, Greenstead
    • Buried 21 Feb 1835, Greenstead aged 29
    • It is possible that he was married and had children.
    • Examination of his grave may show if other family members are buried with him. This might tell us if he had a family.

Are any of the above related to the Abingdon family?

Further Children of William Willett Senior

Census records between 1861 and 1911 do not suggest any other children.

Census records make it unlikely, but not impossible, that William Willett (the elder) had more than four children – the fact that they moved around the country a lot does mean that it is possible to miss a birth record. But no word of any further children has come down to anyone in the three lines that had descendants.

The top of the Abingdon family tree

John Thomas Willett’s birth certificate would help confirm his parents. However, Family Search offers this Christening Record, which would seem to confirm his parents.

Name     John Thomas Willett
Gender     Male
Christening Date     03 Nov 1860
Christening Place     St Mary, Reading, Berkshire, England
Father’s Name     John Willett
Mother’s Name     Martha

Family Search Christening of John Thomas Willett at Reading

John and Martha are in Reading for the 1861 Census (with one son and one daughter). In 1871, they are in Hendon. A headstone or memorial for John and Martha are found in Hendon on the Find A Grave Website. The person who added the record (LB) records the following summary:

Birth: 1827 Abingdon, Vale of White Horse District, Oxfordshire, England
Death: 6 Dec 1899 (aged 71–72) Hendon, London Borough of Barnet, Greater London, England
Burial: St Mary Churchyard Hendon, London Borough of Barnet, Greater London, England
Memorial: ID 259810312


Father: John Willett, Shoemaker
Occupation: builder
1. Martha Champion on 17 Jan 1857 at St Mary, Hendon, London, dec 1877.
2. Susannah Gray on 23 Dec 1878 at St Marylebone Parish Church.
Ellen Willett (1857–1946)
John Thomas Willett (1861–)
Frank Percival Willett (1863–)
Martha Champion Willett 1825–1877

Record on Find A Grave for John Willett Memorial ID 259810312

The reference to John’s father being another John and a shoemaker, which comes from John and Martha’s marriage record (attached to the Find a Grave record), suggests that John’s father is not Everard Willett.

1857 Marriage solemnized at the Parish Church in the Parish of Hendon in the County of Middlesex

No 163 NameAgeConditionRank or ProfessionResidenceFatherFather’s rank or profession
January 17th 1857John WillettFull ageBachelorCarpenterSt Mary ReadingJohn WillettShoe maker
Martha ChampionFull ageSpinsterHendonJohn ChampionBaker

Married in the Parish Church of Hendon according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church after Banns by me ? curate

This Marriage was soleminized between usWitnesses
Jn Willett Joseph House
Martha ChampionEllen Champion
John WIllett and Martha Champion’s marriage record

This would seem to refute the idea that this family was descended from Everard Willett b 1804 in Colchester, Essex. Any link to the Essex Willets will require a larger exercise.

An initial step would be a reconciliation of all “Abingdon Willetts”.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress