1880 Born 27/7/1880 at 1, Swan Mead, Bermondsey, Leathermarket. Parents Timothy Lyons and Elizabeth (nee Tobin) Lyons, father hide sorter. Swan Mead [ or part of?] was apparently a former leather tannery, which [ nos.1-4] has become by 2007 a home and gallery belonging to artist Kitty North. Birth Certificate.B7. -text. William John Lyons was the 2nd son of the family, but his elder brother Stephen Lyons ,1878, ( named after their grandfather) died in 1883. His grandfather David Tobin was also living at 1 Swan Mead at his birth, but died 5 months later. His uncle, 13yr old David Tobin, was also living there. No baptism found yet in a Catholic Church : I suspect he was baptised in Dockhead Church, where records were destroyed in WW2.
Whimsical that he should be registered in The Leather Market sub-district as he grows up to work with furs and leather : 3 months between birth and registration is longer than the norm.
The family is continually moving 1881 -1898..
1881 He appears in census with his parents, 2 year old brother Stephen & uncle David,14, his mother's orphaned younger brother.
1881 Census at 1, Swan
Timothy Lyons 28 married, clerk, born St.Johns
Elizabeth 26 wife born St.Johns
Stephen 2 born Bermondsey
William John 9 mths born Bermondsey
Patrick Pheien 32
David Tobin 14 brother of Elizabeth born St.Johns
In the same household is John Allen with son John,3, who could be the John Allen who later marries William's sister, Elizabeth,1891, in 1915.
1882. Family living Camberwell when sister Lilian Margaret is born Dec.
1883.Brother Stephen, 5, & sister, Margaret,1, die of scarlet fever on 2 consecutive days in October. Family living at 57, Pepler Road, Old Kent Road. Have d.cs. D6 & D5. . Why had they not been vaccinated? - vaccination was around in Southwark in 1873, viz Marion Maud Andrews
1885. Family living at 41, Stamford Street when sister Helen Lyons, is born 27/09/1885
1891. Appears in census with his parents and sisters Ellen (6) & Mary J. (3), living 34 Kinross Street..
Timothy Lyons 39 married Leather Warehouseman born Bermondsey
Elizabeth 37 born Bermondsey
William 10 scholar b. Bermondsey
Ellen 6 scholar b.Southwark
Mary J. 3 b.Peckham
Living at 34, Kinross St. St.Mary Magdalen, St. Olave
1894. Family living 8 Black Swan Yard, Bermondsey Street, Southwark
1895. Family living 10 Cundall's Place, Tyers Gateway, Southwark - this off Bermondsey Street
1896. Family living 10 Cundall's Place, Tyers Gateway, Southwark
1897. Family living 14 Kipling Street, Southwark.
1898 .Family living at 9 Wilds Rents. Timothy Lyons is in the London Electoral Roll at these addresses
1901 Appears, aged 19, in census with parents and sisters Helen (15), Josephine (12) & Elizabeth (9). Working as a general carman. Living at 9 Wilds Rents.
1901 Census . . . . . actually aged 20-21
Timothy S. Lyons 48 married Dock Labourer
William J. 19 General carman
David Tobin 30 Dock labourer
(David Tobin given as Brother in law)
Living at 9 Wilds Rents Bermondsey
1905 & 1907. William Stephen Lyons appears in the Electoral registers as having one room, ground floor, furnished at 9 Wilds Rents, owner/renter being Timothy Lyons. Who entered this name ?? There is an entry every year 1904 -1908 for Timothy Stephen Lyons, but only entries in 1905 & 1907 for William ? Lyons in the separate books that give subtenants. [ I remember there being 2 sets of Registers in the Southwark Archives - but never came across those with William in there].
Thus seems likely that William Lyons was still living in the same house as his parents to within months of his marriage in 1909.
These Lyons are not related, but lived in Bermondsey and worked in the docks: I have included this photo here as only 6 years before Williasm married, so gives an idea of a wedding of that period - but suspect William's was a much smaller affair
1909 14/02/1909 Aged 28, married Jessie Sullivan , aged 25, in St. Philips Church, [Jessie was protestant], Bethnal Green. Marriage Certificate M5. Witnesses were Clara and William Alfred Lawrence Hayter. He is given as salesman, she as stationer. His father, Timothy Lyons, is given as Warehouseman, hers, John Sullivan, deceased, as Builder. A joint address is given of School House, Mount Street [Bethnal Green]..
|Probably the Vicarage, with School House, the address given on the m.c, lying off to the left||
The interior of St.Philips Church
Jessie Sullivan was a protestant and they got married in St. Philips Church (C of E).( This church was closed in 1952 & demolished in 1961). School House was next to the vicarage. And their daughter Hilda said that her mother turned to believing in the Catholic Church later in life.
http://www.aim25.ac.uk/cgi-bin/vcdf/detail?coll_id=14785&inst_id=118&nv1=search&nv2= shows details of what can be found in the LMA about the church and school - 2013 task! Plus look at a cerca 1910 Ordnance map there.
http://london1868.com/ gives a superb 1868 map of the area, showing church & school
Nothing is known of School House, Mount St., where they were residing at the time of their wedding. I feel that Jessie must have been working there. And William, being catholic, would not have known any protestant church in Bermondsey. I wonder if his Catholic parents attended the ceremony! Have investigated the Hayters: they were brother & sister, station mail porter & sewing machinist tailoring, living with their parents in Victoria Grove, Stoke Newington, Hackney, aged 30 & 27 in 1911C. Clara was living, aged 17, born in India, with her parents and younger siblings, working as a waitress, in Bethnal Green in 1901C . Searched for William Hayter in electoral registers 1901-1909, but seemingly only one - of hundreds - living B.G., that in 1903. Mount Street was later renamed Swanfield Street.
From research - on Electoral rolls - in LMA: 1908-9 No Lyons or Hayters in 6 - 48
Rev.W J Ferrar - he the priest who married them -in St. Philips Vicarage but no mention of School House[ in 1904 Electoral Roll a Mr Coult at the School house] , but
In West Ward 2, Division 2 a Henry Withrington in St. Philips School House, Mount Street, and also a small lodger list for those entitled to vote, but no Lyons/Hayter/Sullivan, and could not find them anywhere in W2.
I also looked for info. or records on St.Philips Church / school , but nothing
In 1911C, at St.Philips School, Mount Street, B.G. N2 in 4 rooms... Henry Withrington 49 school caretaker LCC Educational b.B.G.
Eliza Jane wife 41 mar. 22 yrs, 1 child, 1 alive b.Maidstone
Henry James Edgar son 20 b.Walthamstow
Florence Louisa Ede 20 Bag Machinist, boarder . . .
William John Ferrar was in the Vicarage,13 rooms, his father, 2 sisters, a brother, 2 other clergymen, & a servant. I searched for info. on St.Philips Church/School, but nothing other than 2 of the above photos. Could there be a relationship between '1911C Florence L Ede -Bag machinist' and the 'paper packer' that was Jessie's job in 1901, and that Florence Ede has replaced Jessie at 'this' work.
Mount Street since renamed Swanfield Street.
1910. First child, Jessie Hilda Josephine Lyons, born 6/02/1910, at 21, Portsmouth Buildings.
1911C.William John Lyons, 30, leather Salesman, Leather Warehouse Worker, b. Bermondsey, Jessie, 27, married 2 yrs, 1 child, 1 alive, b. Walworth, & Jessie Hilda Josephine, 1, b. Bermondsey. . They are still living at 21, Portsmouth Building, Tower Bridge Rd., Bermondsey in 2 rooms.
All their children were baptised at the Church of the English Martyrs, Walworth. I have copies of their baptism certificates - these can be viewed on their individual pages.
1910. Jessie Hilda Josephine Lyons (6/02/1910) Baptised 27/02/1910.Godparents Compton & Elizabeth Amos: great uncle & aunt [Timothy’s sister] . Living at 21 Portsmouth Bldgs, Tower Bridge Road .
1912. Evelyn Ellen Lyons (1/09/1912). Baptised 6/10/1912. Godparent Ellen [aunt Nellie?] Lyons. Living at 10 Darwin St.
1915 Francis William Lyons (10/01/1915). Baptised 7/02/1915. Godparent Maria O’Neill. Living at 10 Darwin St. B13.
1917 John Leonard Lyons (19/11/1917).Baptised 9/12/1917. Godparent Elizabeth Allen:W.J.'s sister.21 Darwin Steet.B14.
1920 William Lyons (13/11/1920).Baptised19/12/1920. Godparent Henrietta Molloy[a nun]. Living at 21 Darwin St. B15
1923 Jessie Maude Lyons (23/05/1923). Baptised 10/06/1923. Living at 21 Darwin St. No godparents given B16.
1925. Dennis Compton Lyons (9/06/1925).Baptised 2/08/1925. Living at 21 Darwin St. No godparents given[ Not after Dennis Compton, cricketer, only born 1918, but after Compton Amos [died 1918] who had married his great-aunt Elizabeth on 10/04/1898 in a protestant church! I have m.c. M10.]
read Hilda and Eva the other way round in the lefthand photo.
10 Darwin Street, Southwark and a view of 21 Darwin Street and the whole street
I possess all these baptism records. Hilda said, in 2008, that the baptism was always the baby’s first outing from the house after its birth.From 21 Portsmouth Bldgs., the Lyons family moved into George & Maud White’s [rented] house, 10, Darwin St. by 1912. [The Whites seem to have lived here since1909 and stayed there till 1930; information from Electoral Roll Books] . 10 Darwin St is where, Maud Marion White (nee Andrews) - Jessie Sullivan’s elder (by 10 years) half-sister - was also living there with her husband & 3 children, Hilda White 1895, Arthur White 1905 & Ethel White 1910.William’s children ,especially the 3 eldest, kept in touch with Maud’s children probably up to the 1990s.,in particular, Arthur & his wife Gertie. And, in 2011, William's grandchildren, John & Audrey, keep in touch with Arthur's children, Joan & John.
From searching the Electoral Roll books in Southwark Local History Library, William John’s family first appear in 10 Darwin Street 1912-1913 [not there in 1911-1912]. They had 2 rooms on the first floor, unfurnished, and paid rent to George White.[ An Edward Evans had 2 rooms on the second floor and E.A.Winson a furnished first floor room. At this time W.G.Winson lived in 21 Darwin Street.] William John is also in the 1913-1914 book living there, but not in the 1914-1915 book [ odd, as not in 21 Darwin St. for this time period either ] , & then no books exist for the War years,1915-1917. He then moved from 10 to 21 Darwin St.[ these 2 houses being exactly opposite each other] between1915 & 1918: it is thought it was 1915-1917. And in the 1918 book he is given at 21, Darwin Street with his married sister, Elizabeth & husband, John, Allen. Here they stay through to 1932 [the Allens moving out after Spring 1924 and appearing at 3, Marcia Road in Autumn,1924].[ Jessie’s half sister, Maud White, leaves 10, Darwin St. by 1931. This is probably what prompted William John & Jessie to move out in 1932.]. . . .
There was a pub quite close by, the Globe, at 20 Darwin Street:- up to 1915 at least, and no. 21 itself was a pub in 1881C.. . .. . . . . .. . http://deadpubs.co.uk/LondonPubs/SouthwarkStGeorgeMartyr/index.shtml - for these details .
Jessie's children said that she was always working, from the moment she got up until she went to bed.After the birth of William John's and Jessie's first 3 Children, they moved to 21 Darwin Street for more room. And here they stayed until the summer of 1932. Jessie’s mother, Hannah Sullivan/ Andrews, lived with them and would have shared the work involved in looking after 7 children. It is said she retired to her room as soon as William John came home from work. It is thought that the family had little to do with the paternal grandmother, Elizabeth (Tobin), who, as a devote Catholic, might have disapproved of her son marrying a Protestant. But daughter, Hilda, suggested that Elizabeth frequented pubs[ specifically the Dun Cow], with other women and that Jessie disapproved of this. Apparently William still attended church & took his young children with him. And all 7 children were baptised at the Church of the English Martyrs, Walworth.
In their later lives, only daughter Jessie Maude(until her tragic death in 1944) & son Len (over in South Africa) adhered strongly to the Catholic faith. The other 5 seem to have lapsed when they got married. But Bill baptised his son, John, in an anglo- catholic church.
According to Eva’s daughter, Audrey,(who is the only grandchild old enough to remember her granddad, her beloved ”Nannie” and her Aunt Jessie), William used to say: No wonder I have no luck, as my children don’t go to church.
William John Lyons went into the Army during the World War I.[Maybe the 1916 photos of his wife and the 3 children were taken for him to have with him in the army] .
The children went to the Paragon School in Searles Road in their early years and then on to different secondary schools. Hilda Lyons to the Mina Road Central School.
Eva Lyons to Monnow Road School, Bermondsey Central School for Girls.
William John Lyons obviously believed in education as he enabled son Francis Lyons to make
full use of his scholarship, to gain entrance to Mercers School (even though
Latin had to be mastered by the 11 year old in 6 months)
Len Lyons to Priestmead School in Kenton and, probably,
Bill Lyons to the same school
It will probably not be possible to ascertain where Jessie Lyons attended secondary school. Dennis went to Priestmead School in Kenton.
According to Hilda, each child had their own chore to do in the household. Hilda ‘s job was the stairs , whilst Len’s was scrubbing the kitchen table and Bill's was cleaning the shoes. They had to change out of their uniforms on their return from school. Washing occupied all day on Mondays. (As it seemed to do a generation later in the 1950s in my childhood in Wanstead Park & Woodford, albeit for a much smaller family unit). Mother Jessie made all the children’s clothes using McCalls patterns and material from the market. (These patterns were still in existence up to the 1980s at least & certainly Joan & Eva also made their children’s clothes.) A photo of William’s eldest 3 children, aged ~ 6,4 & 1, shows most elaborate clothes – no doubt for very special occasions. With each new birth, the first outing for the baby was to church to be baptised.
1919. William John Lyons is on the Absent Voters List at 21 Darwin Street, as is son-in-law, John Allen.
1922 Mother-in-law Hannah Sullivan [Andrews] dies10/02/1922 at 21,Darwin Street [Southwark], aged 71. d.c.. DS1 .
1923 6/12/1923. Father, Timothy Lyons, dies, aged 71 .Death Certificate .D3. Buried in Leytonstone Cemetery, 13/12/1923. Have English Martyrs’ record.
1924. 5/03/1924. Mother, Elizabeth Lyons, dies, aged 69..Death Certificate .D4 . Buried in Leytonstone Cemetery, 10 /03/1924. Have English Martyrs’ record. She left a will and £27.
Late 1920s & Early 1930s. They were the only family in Darwin Street in which the children had proper, measured, shoes. Also William had a car before they left there, but did not park it in front of the house!. [ Info. passed on from son Bill]
1932. Moved to 9,Kenton Gardens, Harrow. The purchasing of 9, Kenton Gardens must have been a very big step for William & family. And it was bought with cash! Jessie's sister, Maud White, had moved from Darwin Street to Brockley Gardens on 14/11/1930, and this made William consider moving. Initially he had thought of Surbiton where he had a friend, but obviously found this repossessed house in Kenton an attractive prospect. He had a telephone here by 1933,[Wordsworth 1218] unusual for those times, but perhaps William could justify it for his work. They used to go to Belgium & France for their holidays; by boat to Ostend, and then by land along the coast to Blankenberghe & Heist: the photo of them at the start of this page was taken on such a holiday. One or more of their children would accompany them on these holidays: certainly both Hilda & Eva did. . A new passport was obtained in 1937, but this was never used.
William in Blankenberghe ~ 1936
Jessie & William Blankenberghe ~1936
|Jessie, William, Jessie & unknown c. 1943, south coast?|
Audrey's recollects that her grandparents had a cat called Noodle, also a dog. Nannie took her to the Odeon cinema in Kenton a few times. Despite his fearful reputation, WJL was very kind to his little granddaughter.
Audrey still has no recollection of a temporary home in Loudwater during WW2, a real mystery this one. John definitely recalls his Dad mentioning the place and his "Aunt CIS" (Eileen's cousin), now aged 90, -2011- says Eileen used to stay there at weekends to escape the blitz. JL did more esearch on Loudwater in September 2018: nothing concrete turned up, Loudwater was just a hamlet then, the High Street and London Road A40, not many properties.Loudwater railway station was on a branch line to Maidenhead. From there a connection to London Paddington.
photo of Loudwater Station, courtesy of John Lyons
Occupation. From being a salesman in 1920 he worked tremendously hard and became a successful Fur and Skin Trader. I cannot find him listed in any Trade Directories as such and JL has confirmation that he was never a member of the Leathersellers Guild.. He appears to have worked by himself and used to say that his diary was his office. He worked in the Fur industry, his passport stating that he was a fur and skin broker. This included buying furs from the Hudson Bay Company, whose auctions were held at Garlick Hill, EC4. From Joan White I have learnt that 'William had bought up the entire stock of a particular fur which was not popular at the time. He stored it and later when it was in demand sold the lot at a good profit . Because of his association with the fur trade it had been felt that WJL was Jewish'. Family lore, from son William/Bill 1920 through to his son John 1946, says that he used to socialize at the pub with a cousin Stephie, who had son[s] working for this company. I think that this would have been Stephen Patrick Lyons[bottom of Michael Lyons page] 1882, who indeed had 3 sons. Some of these sons are thought to have emigrated to Canada. I have failed to find any Canada immigration for any of these 3 through to 1935.[ these records being on Ancestry] .Dec2009. I contacted the HBC in Canada, and they replied they had no such Lyons records ,Jan 2010. And in Jan 2011, I discovered the eldest son, Stephen James Lyons 1906 did emigrate, but to Melbourne in 1955
1939. Appears on the 1939 Register at 9 Kenton Gardens, William J Lyons, born 27/7/1892 -incorrect!1880 - , leather hide & skin broker, with wife Jessie - 28/6/1883 - son, William- 3/11/1920- apprentice compositor, & Dennis C. - 8/7/1925- at school . Also 2 oficially closed records- presumably those of Len 1917 & Jessie 1923. Neighbours the same as in 1944 when the fateful V1 struck.
During the war, they rented a cottage at Loudwater, near High Wycombe, to escape from the bombs. It is thought this cottage/bungalow belonged to a friend. But they had returned to Harrow from there by summer 1944, thinking that the danger from attacks had died down. Jessie had indeed tried to persuade her sister, Maud, to stay with them at Kenton, feeling this was a safer place than Brockley.
Once war broke out in Sept. 1939, he soon decided to make a will, and this
,dated 6/10/1940, states he was a temporary Government clerk, and he left everything to Jessie, his wife. His children,
Eva & Frank, were the administrators of this. A copy of the probate can be seen lower down. Eva and husband, Harry, were the witnesses for the will.
William was still working [ almost certainly still as a government clerk, for the UNRRA - see later] in 1944 when a doodlebug(German V1) flattened 9, Kenton Gardens soon after 8a.m.on 28 June – Jessie’s 61st birthday. Daughter Jess had returned from Cheltenham, where she was seconded to the American Air Force, the previous night to be with her mother on her birthday. William was taken to Stanmore Orthopaedic Hospital but was declared dead before any of his relatives arrived there.The two Jessies were killed outright, Eva’s husband, Harry, having to identify young Jessie who was unrecognisable. Brother-in-law, George White, was called upon to identify bodies. Son Bill,1920, was informed by War Office telegram whilst serving with the RAF in Ceylon.
Poignantly, Jessie must have written a postcard to her daughter, Eva, the night before the bomb, this being postmarked ~2 hours after they were killed - it was probably posted that morning by Dennis on his way to work.
Died 28/06/44 Killed by a doodlebug at 9 Kenton Gardens. D.C 7. His d-c gives his profession as UNRRA Administrative capacity
UNRRA stands for United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Ass.: somewhat curious, as UN only established in 1945!!. But indeed UNRRA was created in 1943 to provide economic aid to European nations devastated by the war.
Possess probate document-see below, record of deaths in Civilian War Dead, [giving the 3 Lyons , Ann Littleton, 9, at no.11 and Emma Mason, 57, at no. 13 on the same page] ,newspaper article from 1985 on Kenton Garden fly bomb and an eyewitness account of the bomb and its aftermath from Newton Myers,aged 12 at the time, who lived two houses away in 5 Kenton Gardens. CWGC site also lists 9 of the dead.
Neighbours and those who died in June 1944:
5 Kenton Gardens. Myers, father( mother had died at start of 1944), Barbara
daughter aged about 22, died c.2003, (married in 1942 to Lou) & Newton (12).
7 Kenton Gardens. Delport( Suzanne & Vincent, in publishing).
9 Kenton Gardens. Lyons( William, Jessie, Jessie(21) & Dennis(19, & not in house that morning).
11 Kenton Gardens. Littleton( Mr & Mrs G.S., & 3 children, only 1 of whom, Ann, aged 9 ,seems to have died).Also Brian Fosbrook Purdy, aged 8, and his mother Ivy Ellen Purdy, aged 38, of 11 Kenton Gardens, died.[ Father & husband was Harold Fosbrook Purdy, RAF]. Were the Littletons & Purdys related? : the Purdys were not on the 1939 Electoral Roll
13 Kenton Gardens. Mason , Emma, 57, died. Husband was William Louis Mason.
15 Kenton Gardens . Amelia Alice Emily Rohrs, 58, died. She was wife of Herman John Fletcher Rohrs.
3 Kenton Lane[ this is at the bottom of the gardens of the above Kenton Gardens houses] . Alan John Michaelis, aged 7 hours, was injured here and died at Harrow & Wealdstone Hospital
A total of 13[ of who only the 9 mentioned above found on CWGC site] people were killed by this V1. All 3 Lyonses are recorded on the CWGC site[ no extra details]; another 6 of the dead from this doodlebug also listed .
Destruction of Kenton Gardens.
Probate was granted on 14/12/44 .William left £5,366.7.4.gross and £3,462.7.6.net.
Only one of their 8 grandchildren can remember them and they never knew of the existence of the last four of them. They were buried in Wealdstone cemetery on 1/7/1944 in a private grave; I eventually got to see this in 2011, with cousins John & Gill. A service was held at the graveside/in the cemetery chapel on 1/7/1944, officiated by Maurice Beckett, the priest who confirmed John's dad, Bill, in 1934. :Joan Turner's recollection sof the funeral , told to her nephew John Lyons:
Grave, E3673, of the 3 Lyons seen in, probably ~1980, 2 angles of it, then in 2011 before it was redone by John in 2012.. And a photo taken 28/6/2020
An old map of Wealdstone Cemetery
The cenetery as seen from the air in 1934
Grave owner in 1944 Francis Lyon (singular), 2 Parkway, Woodford Green, Essex (Eva's address at the time).
Neighbour Ann Littleton is also buried there , at Wealdstone cemetery, her entry 4 below the Lyons entry .
The church that they attended, All Saints, has no record of their funeral: maybe the Chapel that then existed in Wealdstone cemetery was used. It is thought a wake might have taken place at the Rest Hotel, which still stands.??Funeral at Kenton Catholic Church -priest(MauriceT Beckett)??
Map showing the St.Mary the Virgen Church, but this was not the one they attended , rather All Saints, further away,
Places he lived. Photos of houses 1880-1932 .
Children of William John Lyons: Hilda. . Eva. Frank . Len. . Bill. . Dennis . Jessie
Timothy Lyons, his father
Lyons family front page