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THE WILLERT FAMILY

By David Culley

 

Photo from the collection of Mary BarnesPhoto from the collection of Mary Barnes

 

Some time before August 1890, Teresa and Frederic Willert moved into No 3 Lamberts Cottages Doncaster Road Thrybergh. They brought with them 6 children.  They lived in the Cottage for the rest of their lives raising the remainder of their 15 children there. After Teresa died in 1936 their son Edmund, who at some stage became owner of the row of four cottages and their daughter Maud Bailey, continued to live in numbers 2 and 3 until they were condemned as unfit for habitation by the council and demolished to facilitate road improvement.  Only Lamberts Lane remains to mark the location.  Maud was re-housed; Edmund, dead by this time, had shared the property between his surviving siblings and their families.

 

 

 

 

Teresa Willert was born in Brackenfield, Derbyshire on the 4th  of May 1862.  She was one of a family of 11. At an early age she became a live-in servant at Butterley Farm near Ashover and when just 15 conceived the first of her children. The father was Frederic Willert age 24, eldest son of William who was the farmer. The newspaper notice of Frederic’s death says he was “running the farm” and family tradition has it that he was the intended heir to whatever property the family had. However, when he declared his intention of marrying Teresa he was cut off, perhaps at the instigation of his step-mother, who, surviving her husband, left property at Milltown (Ashover) to her daughters. They immediately found husbands!

Teresa was married on March 19th 1878 two weeks before her 16th birthday. Her son William was born three weeks after her birthday, in Brackenfield.

It looks as though Frederic found it hard to find work. They moved first to Lea where Frederic’s brother Edmund lived and named their second child Edmund.  There were other children at Dethick and Tansley where Teresa had an Uncle George. At Tansley their daughter Mary Ann (Polly) died aged 10 months. Shortly after Uncle George died in 1890, they moved to Thrybergh perhaps on the advice of another Uncle (Thomas) who raised a family at Wombwell. The baby they brought with them was baptised Robert (after Teresa’s father) at Thrybergh in September, along with his brother, George, who was born in August 1890 and named perhaps after the uncle.

At Thrybergh the family grew.  The children are photographed at school and three of the Willert girls are in the photo on the right taken circa 1900 at Thrybergh Fullerton School
 
The older ones go out to work, the girls finding employment in service, the boys like their father labouring on local farms, (Deer Park Farm and Glebe Farm) brickmaking, or in the steel works. 

The house was hung inside with drying herbs. Teresa had a reputation for herbal remedies one such recipe remaining in the pages of her Bible when I looked at it in 2003.  Reputedly, her services were called on by neighbours at childbirth.  These were skills learnt no doubt from her mother, whose photograph too survives, at the door of her Brackenfield cottage.


Daughter Maud was in service as cook at Thrybergh Rectory for the Reverend Bowen together with a sister-in-law, Gladys Willert. Rose and Beth Willert found employment in service with Catherine Herbert Fullerton of Thrybergh Hall moving with her to Hill, a hamlet near Leamington Hastings in Warwickshire, when she married Lieutenant Henry Alan Leeke.

 

 

Thrybergh School group Photo  Rose and Beth TurnerAt Thrybergh the family grew.  The children are photographed at school and three of the Willert girls are in the photo on the right taken circa 1900 at Thrybergh Fullerton School.

 

The older ones go out to work, the girls finding employment in service, the boys like their father labouring on local farms, (Deer Park Farm and Glebe Farm) brickmaking, or in the steel works. 

 


 
The house was hung inside with drying herbs. Teresa had a reputation for herbal remedies one such recipe remaining in the pages of her Bible when I looked at it in 2003.  Reputedly, her services were called on by neighbours at childbirth.  These were skills learnt no doubt from her mother, whose photograph too survives, at the door of her Brackenfield cottage.


Daughter Maud was in service as cook at Thrybergh Rectory for the Reverend Bowen together with a sister-in-law, Gladys Willert. Rose and Beth Willert found employment in service with Catherine Herbert Fullerton of Thrybergh Hall moving with her to Hill, a hamlet near Leamington Hastings in Warwickshire, when she married Lieutenant Henry Alan Leeke.
 

The first world war

 

Photo from Ted Bailey

Edmund
 

 

Photo from Ted Bailey

Edmund at the river Don Bridge

Photo from Ted Bailey

Eric Willert (front) with Edmund behind

When war came in 1914, Edmund and George are photographed in uniform against the same backdrop by a local photographer. Edmund was wounded but survived.  He returned to find the girl he’d left behind had married another. He remained single all his long life, a support for his ageing parents and for his siblings.

He was a foreman for the construction company Beeden for whom his father had als worked for a time. Edmund is photographed working on the foundations for the new Don Bridge at Kilnhurst. 

 

He was a member of Thrybergh Park Cricket Club for 70 years meaning he had joined as a teenager a few years after the family arrived in Thrybergh.  Later photographs show him in his umpire’s coat. His brother William was groundsman for the club in his later years.

 

Photo via Shirley WalkerPhoto by David CulleyGeorge fought with the Connaught Rangers in the Dardanelles where he was wounded. He survived to fight again, this time at the Battle of the Somme. He was injured by shrapnel in the leg and evacuated to a military hospital in Rouen where he died and is buried in the military cemetery. 

 

The family kept Teresa’s letter to one of the daughters in which she refers to her last contact from George “not out of his clothes for weeks”, and to the storms in Sheffield which stopped the trams running.  Teresa also kept the letter of sympathy from the hospital

 

 

 

In the influenza epidemic which followed the war, daughter Fanny lost her husband Willy Jones, a miner. At the time Fanny was pregnant with her only child, Vera, only to lose her at the age of two. 

Tragedy struck again in 1949.  Grandson Arthur Bailey was on his way to a family gathering in Marton, Warwickshire. On a wet corner in Warsop (near Worksop) his motorbike slid and collided with a stationary car.  He died together with his fiancée, riding pillion.

In later years the children and grandchildren trekked on Sundays to keep company with their parents in the cottage. Photographs show Frederic and Teresa in the front room with daughter Alice and her husband, carnation in his buttonhole, or with a family group in the back garden. Daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren pose behind the onion rows.  The last photo of Frederic at his back gate shows a man worn out by his years of toil. Teresa’s sister Phoebe who had been a witness at her marriage to Frederic in 1878, though now 75, came from Renishaw to be at the funeral in Thrybergh in 1933.



At the back of Lambert’s Cottages.


Teresa has her hand on her grandson Leslie’s shoulder.  On her left is Edmund and on his left, his father Frederic.


Frederic and Teresa are buried with a memorial in Thrybergh cemetery. Corporal George Willert and two grandchildren who died in infancy are also recorded on the stone



One final photograph survives to stir memories. Frederic is shown seated in a charabanc endearingly named “Beatrice” about to set off to Matlock. Did they pass the fields and villages he had known as a boy?

Footnote:
Willert seems to derive from a Derbyshire pronunciation of Willet …draw out the “e” to an “air” sound. [ Phonetic Willairt]. Imagine the clerk recording the name from illiterate parishioners and listening to their accent.  Even earlier it appears as ort and art. Its confusing because this is almost a unique spelling in England. It is however a very common German spelling and there are a couple of immigrant families in London and in Manchester where to make matters worse some of the Derbyshire Willerts migrated with the Willert spelling. Of course once literacy kicked in the name was fixed with the ert spelling.
David Culley

Text copyright David Culley
Page formatted by John Doxey

Willert Family pg1

 

 

 

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