Eleanor Mary Kirby / Nellie Montague – 52 Ancestors in 52 Week – Week 29 – Part 1

I’m so excited to finally be able to tell you all about my Great, Great Granny, Eleanor Mary Kirby.
She is probably my favourite ancestor.
She’s intrigues me, even fascinates me.
She’s also one of my hardest ancestors to research, even though as you’ll find out, she should be one of the easiest.
Eleanor, is definitely one of those ancestors, you can picture in your mind, you can easily imagine what she would have looked like, what her personality would have been, you can even picture her voice.
She’s also one of my ancestors, I wish I could throw my arms around and give her the biggest hug I could possibly give, to sit with her as she tells me her stories, her memories, while occasionally breaking out in song.
As that dream of mine, can never come true, why not grab yourself a cuppa and let me tell you more about this incredible lady, whom I adore. (I know, how can you adore someone you haven’t even met? I really don’t know, but Eleanor has a piece of my heart, hook line and sinker.)


Eleanor Mary Kirby, was born on January the 6th 1881, at number 89, Devonshire Road, Islington, Middlesex, England, to Alfred Kirby and Susan Mary Kirby nee Lagden.
Her birth was registered on the 15th February, 1881, by her Mother, Susan Mary.
Eleanor’s Father Alfred, was working as a Carman.

Eleanor M Kirby Birth Certificate

Alfred and Susan Mary Kirby, baptised Eleanor Mary Kirby, on the 6th February 1881, at St. Marks, Tollington Park, England.
They were residing at number, 89 Devonshire Road, Islington, Middlesex, England and Alfred was working as a Carman.

Eleanor mary Kircy baptism

The 1881 census was taken on April the 3rd, 1881, which shows, Eleanor, Alfred and Susan Mary Kirby, residing in Islington, at, 89 Devonshire Road, Islington, Middlesex, England.
Alfred was working as a Fishmongers Carman.
Two other families were residing at number 89. They were, David and Mary Carter and their two children, Edith S E Carter and David J Carter. Also Jesse Howard and his daughter Florence S Howard.

Name Age
Alfred Kirby 22
Susan M. Kirby 21
Eleanor M. Kirby


In 1886, the family were residing at number 2, Bovay Street, Highbury, Islington, where Eleanor’s sister, Alice Maude Olive, was born on the 26th May, 1886.

Alice Maud Olive Kirby, Birth Certificate

She died later that year on the 8th November, 1886 from Meningitis.

Alice Maud Olive Kirby, Death Certificate

Eleanor’s sister, Alice Maude Olive Kirby, was buried at Finchley Burial Ground, Islington, Middlesex, England, on the 12th November 1886.

Alice Maud Olive Kirby, Burial

On the 13th October, 1887, while Eleanor, Alfred and Susan Mary, were still residing at number 2, Bovay Street, Highbury, Islington, Eleanor’s baby Brother, Richard Arthur Kirby, was born.

Richard Arthur Kirby, Birth Certificate

He died just over a year later, on the 15th November, 1888, at his home, number 2, Bovay Street, Highbury, Islington, from Bronchitis, 9 days and Convulsions.

Richard Arthur Kirby, Death Certificate

Eleanor, Alfred and Susan Mary Kirby, buried Richard Arthur Kirby, on the 22nd November, 1888, at Finchley Burial Ground, Islington, Middlesex, England.

Richard Arthur Kirby, Burial

Life doesn’t seem to get any better for the family, as on May the 24th, 1889, Eleanor’s Father Alfred Kirby, died at their home, Number 240a, Seven Sisters Road, Highbury, Islington, London, England.
He died from, Sudden Syncope, Heart Disease and Rheumatic Fever.
A post-mortem was taken and an inquest was held on the, 27th May, 1889.

Alfred Kirby Death Certificate ? Could Be Wrong

Eleanor’s paper trail runs dry up until 1899, when she married Harry Herbert Money/Willats, Son of Alice Maria Money.
They got married on the, 19th February, 1899, at St. Anne’s, Pooles Park, Islington, London, England.
Eleanor was residing at, 24 Queenland Road, Islington.
Harry Herbert Willats (aka Money), was a Filler, residing at, Drayton Park, Islington.
Both their Fathers were deceased.
Their witnesses were, George Enington and Alice Blackwell.

Willats_Kirby Marriage

Eleanor gave birth to her first baby, a boy, on the 4th March 1901 at Number 40, Windsor Road, Upper Holloway, Islington, London, England.

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 12.24.17

They named him, Harry Richard Thomas Willats.
Harry Herbert Willats, was working as a Music Hall Artist. 🎶
Eleanor Mary, registered Harry’s (Jnr) birth on the, 16th April, 1901.
She gave her residence as, 17 Gloucester Road, Islington.

Harry R T Willats, Birth Certificate

Harry Richard Thomas Willats, is one interesting charterer and I can not wait to share his story with you, which I will have to do other a few weeks.

Later that month, on the 31st March, 1901, the census was taken, which shows Eleanor, Harry Herbert and Harry Richard Thomas, boarding at 40 Windsor Road, Islington.
Eleanor was a Music Hall Artist, as was Harry Herbert Willats.
They are living off their own account.
They were bordering at William T Wilkins property with a good few other people, including, Vernon H Ryde, a Music Hall manager and Joseph W Spencer, a advertising manage of Musical halls.

Name Age
William T Wilkins 50
Francess Wilkins 46
William Wilkins 27
Water Wilkins 16
Bertie Wilkins 10
Harry Wilkins 7
Vernon H Ryde 50
Mary E Ryde 40
Joseph W Spencer 22
Lily Ryde 7
Harry H Willats 24
Eleanor M Willats 20
Harry R Willats


Have you noticed their Occupations ?

🎶🎶🎶Music Hall Artist.🎶🎶🎶

I won’t give too much away about Harry Herbert Willats, as his life is very interesting and he deserves his story to be told properly, watch this space.
I can tell you, that our, Eleanor Mary Willats nee Kirby, stage name was

🌟🌟🌟 Nellie Montague 🌟🌟🌟

She was a Comedian, a Burlesque Actress, a talented Singer, I believe even singing Opera, if my memory serves me correctly.
Up until now, I haven’t told you anything about Eleanor’s career. I have a good reason for leaving things out.
I have discovered lots of documentation on Nellie Montague, aka Eleanor Mary Willats nee Kirby. I thought it best to write a second post all about her life as Nellie Montague, so this post doesn’t overwhelm you with information or bore you more than normal.
To be honest, I feel it will be nice to dedicate a post to her life as Nellie Montague.
I’m half way through writing it, so my plan is to share it with you either half way through next week or as next weeks, “52 Ancestors”, post. It will probably be the latter, as I don’t seem to be able to find time to breathe at the moment.
Anyway for now, I’ll get back to her story.
Heartbreakingly it’s not the happiest.

On the 28th Feb 1904, Eleanor gave birth to a baby girl, at their home, Number 11, Moreland Street, , Islington, London, England.
Eleanor and Harry Herbert, named her, Doris Eleanor Poppy Willats.
Harry Herbert Willats, was working as a Music Hall Artist.
Eleanor registered Doris’s birth on the 14th April, 1904.

Doris Willats, Birth Certificate

Jumping forward a few years, to March 1906. Eleanor, Harry Herbert, Harry and Doris, were living at, High Street, Brownhills, Staffordshire.
Harry Herbert was working as a Music Hall Artist, while Eleanor was heavily pregnant, looking after her two children.
On the 19th March 1906, Eleanor Mary gave birth to her third child, a boy, my Great-Grandad.
They named him Reginald George Wilfred Willats.
He was born at their home, High Street, Brownhills, Staffordshire.
Eleanor Mary, registered his birth on the 4th April 1906.

Reg Willats Birth Certificate

Their happiness was short lived, when three year old Doris Eleanor Poppy Willats, contracted Meningitis.
The staff at the Great Northern Hospital in Islington, would have tried their upmost to help her. Heartbreakingly little Doris died on the 9th April 1907 from Acute Septic Meningitis (Streptococcus) and Exhaustion.
Poor Eleanor Mary, registered her death the same day, 9th April. I can only imagine how hard that must have been, the pain, the numbness, the helplessness she must have felt. My heart bleeds for them. If only medical science was what it is now, she more than likely would have been saved.
Eleanor could have watched her only daughter grow, she could have taught her the ways of the world, taught how how to cook, to keep a home, even to sing. What a beautiful sight that would have been. Fate had different plans and robbed little Doris of her future, a husband and children of her own.
That breaks my heart. 💔

Doris Willats, Death Certificate

6 days later, Eleanor Mary, Harry Herbert, and their two sons, Harry and Reginald (aka Reg), laid Doris to rest, at Finchley Burial Ground, Islington, Middlesex, England.(Islington and St Pancras Cemetery) She was buried in an open grave with thirteen other people, who were all buried between the 21st March 1907 and the 15th April 1907, in grave reference number, Z/3/15000.

Doris Eleanor Poppy, burial

Can you imagine how they felt, returning to their home, 22 Queensland Road, in Islington, without their daughter. It’s inconceivable. 😢
You can read more about our little hero Doris Eleanor Poppy Willats, here.

As they say, “The show must go on.” It had to, Eleanor and Harry, had to stay strong for Harry and Reg and their fans.

Eleanor and Harry, continued to please the crowds, entertaining their way through life, while bringing up their bairns.

By the time the 1911 census was taken on the 2nd April 1911, Eleanor and her two boys, Harry and Reg were residing at, Number 16, Springdale Road, Stoke Newington, London, which was a four room dwelling.

11 springdale Road, Stoke Newington, London, England

Eleanor is listed as married. They have been married for 12 years.
She has had, three children, 2 living and 1 which had died.
Her husband Harry Herbert, isn’t with them! Was he on the road performing? I can’t seem to find he anywhere in 1911. I have my own ideas as to where he was, and what he was up to, but you’ll have to wait to hear more about that, when I tell you all about his life, hopefully soon. (I need to order a few certificates which I just can’t justify at the moment)
Eleanor, Harry Richard and Reginald, have a one year old, nurse child, Bertram Gorier living with them. I wonder what the story behind that was?

Name Age
Eleanor Mary Willats 30
Harry Richard Willats 10
Reginald George Willats 5
Bertram Gorier 1

1911 Census

Things get a little tricky here, as the paper trail vanishes.
Apart from Newspapers articles about Nellie Montague, I can not find any documentation on Eleanor, not even a death registry.
I have tried weekly for years, to try and discover her death record. I’ve written numerous emails to the different records offices and even contacted the, General Register Office, who hold all birth, marriage and death records, and still I haven’t found it.
I do however know when she died, after finding a Newspaper article, under the birth, marriage and death section.
It reads –

WILLATS (Nellie Montague) – On June 2, 1925, at 59 Spencer Road, Stoke Newington, the beloved wife of Harry Willats. Deeply mourned. R.I.P.


I also found a second Newspaper article from “The Stage” newspaper, dated June 17th 1926, in the Memoriam section.
Which reads –

MONTAGUE- In loving memory of my beloved wife Nellie Montague, who died June 2, 1925. R.I.P. – Harry Willats


Having a date of death, location of death, you wouldn’t think it would be so hard to find her death index, so I can purchase her death certificate.
Trust me though, I’m not going to give up looking anytime soon.

Not only can’t I find Eleanor’s death record, I can’t seem to find her burial.
I believe it has to be in Islington, or the very close surroundings area, but nope, nothing.
I keep checking over and over, using different names, Willats, Kirby, Montague, Nellie, Eleanor, Ellen, etc, etc and still I can find one. And that bugs me, I need to find her, to know where she is at peace, to be able to visit her.

So unfortunately for now, that is the end of, Eleanor Mary Willats nee Kirby aka Nellie Montague, life story. It is far from complete but I promise you, I will NOT give up looking, my heart or my head, won’t let me.

Her show must go on!

Until then, I hope Eleanor is at peace, reunited with little Doris, Harry and Reginald and of course her husband, Harry Herbert Willats.

Although the stage may have long forgotten,
Your family hasn’t.

Eleanor Mary Willats nee Kirby
Nellie Montague
1881 – 1925

Remember to pop back soon, to read all about our, One and Only

🌟⭐️🌟Nellie Montague 🌟⭐️🌟

I have brought and paid for all certificates throughout, Intwined.blog.
Please do not download or use them without my permission.
Thank you.


15 thoughts on “Eleanor Mary Kirby / Nellie Montague – 52 Ancestors in 52 Week – Week 29 – Part 1

  1. Such an interesting piece about My Grandmother who I never knew as she died before I was born Georgina .you have done so much research ,it must take up such a lot of your time,Thank you for bringing her to life for me.,I know she was a beautiful lady with very long hair she could sit on. Sleep in peace Gran .Nan X X


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