Welcome back to the life of, Harry Herbert Willats (Money).
We left Harry back in 1911, Margate, were he was performing with his “White Stars Concert Party,” married to Eleanor Willats Nee Kirby. They have had three children, Harry, Doris and Reginald. Baby Doris, passed away leaving a family of four, living the life of Music Hall artists. Glamorous or not, it was how they chose to live their life’s and must have loved it, as there is no sign of them giving up and young Harry (Jnr) fall for the lifestyle and lived his life to entertain.
This is where Harry’s secret life comes into play.
There is no sign of Harry in the 1911 census.
Eleanor and their two boys, Harry and Reg, were residing at Number 16, Springdale Road, Stoke Newington, London, which was a four room dwelling.
Eleanor is listed as married for 12 years.
She has had three children, 2 living and 1 which had died.
There is no sign of Harry!!!
Where was he? Was he on the road traveling with a show? Or was he with the second lady in his life?
I can’t really tell you for sure but I know the year after the 1911 census, he had a son with a lady called Ellen May Hobbs.
Harry and Ellen’s first born son, was born on the 8th November 1912, at Number 45, Chapel Street, Chesterfield, Derby, England.
They named him, William John Herbert Willats.
Harry is named as the Father, a Music Hall Artist and his Mother is named as, Helen May Willats formally Hobbs. Ellen/Helen registered Williams birth on, November 28, 1912.
Ellen changed her name as good few times over her lifespan.
From this point in time she used the surname Willats, even though they were not legally married, as Harry was still married to Eleanor.
Harry and Ellen/Helen, baptised William John Willats on the 28th November 1912, at St. Paul’s, Hasland, Southwell, Derbyshire.
They were residing at Number 10, Greville Street, Clerkenwell, London, England.
Harry occupation was listed as a, Light Comedian.
On the 17th March 1914, Harry and Ellen/Helen, had another baby, a Daughter whom they called, Mabel Helen Ruby Willats.
Mabel was born at Number 17, Bankhouse Street, Burnley Lancashire, England. Harry was working as Music hall Artist and Helen registered her birth on march 25, 1914.
Mabel would later marry, William G H Wicks, at Poole, Dorset, in the June quarter of 1937.
The birth of Mabel must have been torture for Eleanor after Eleanor and Harry, had lost their Daughter Doris, not to many years before.
No matter how Eleanor felt about Harry’s and Ellen’s relationship, if she was happy for them or not, it must have been a total gut punch, when Mabel was born, as it is for any mother who has lost a child or even trying to conceive.
While I was going through 3 years of treatment to conceive our youngest Son Calum, so many friends and family fall pregnant and delivered healthy beautiful babies, even though I was over the moon for them, my heart ached and wept for the little human, we desperately wanted but couldn’t conceive.
It’s not that I was bitter or upset that they had their children, it was my own failing that made my heart weep, as I’m sure Eleanor’s would have weeped when, Ellen gave birth to her daughter, and any other ladies Eleanor knew, gave birth to a daughter.
Some emotions just can’t be forced down, you have to feel them to be able to heal. I hope Eleanor’s heart healed, I really do.
Harry and Ellen’s second Daughter was born on the 19th March 1915, at Number 57, Park Lane, Stoke Newington, Middlesex, England.
They named her Evelyn Violet Kathleen Willats.
Ellen was named as Helen Willats, formerly Hobbs.
Harry was working as a Music-hall Artist.
He registered her birth on the 15th April 1915.
The London city directories, show Harry residing at number 57, Park Lane, Stock Newington, in 1915.
Harry and Ellen’s, Twin Daughters, Nellie May Poppy Willats and Lilian Maud Alice Willats, were born on June 10, 1918, at number 66, Regent Road, Morecambe, Lancashire, England, to Ellen May Hobbs, age 25, and HARRY Herbert Willats, age 41. Harry was working as a Music Hall Artist. He registered Nellie’s and Lilian’s, births on the 10th June 1918. Lilian was born at 7.30 am and Nellie was born at 8.15am.
Twins are hard work at the best of time, I should know I am one, but can you imagine how much harder it would have been in 1918. Ellen must have been running around like a headless chicken and exhausted.
I must admit, I find it kind of strange that they would name their Daughter, Nellie, because as you know, Nellie was Eleanor’s (Harry’s legal Wife) Stage name.
I wonder who’s idea it was, and how Ellen and Eleanor felt about it?
The following year in the September quarter of 1919, Harry and Ellen had another Daughter, whom they called Daisy H P Willats.
She was born in the Islington district.
Harry’s first born Son, Harry Richard Thomas, British Army WWI service records show, that Harry was residing at Number 99, Drayton Park, Holloway, London, in 1920.
The London Electoral Register, confirm he was residing in Islington, in the East Division, polling district A, Highbury Ward.
Ellen gave birth to hers and Harry’s 2nd Son in the September quarter, of 1922, in Thanet.
The 1939 Register gives his birth date as, 25th September 1922.
Harry Herbert Willats, placed a Wanted advertisement for, Big Theatres that can take money. March 30th (to follow Redcar), April 6th, 13th on, with exceptions for the W. & B. Super production – Rumbled.
The Whitstable Times – 14th July 1923, shows that Harry was now a producer/Manager, of the “White Stars” Concert Party and was fined £1 at Ramsgate Police Court, for wearing Navel Uniforms without permission.
Navel Uniforms Barred –
For wearing Navel Uniforms without permission,
Mr. Harry Willats, producer and member of the
“White Stars” concert party,
who perform daily at the sea front,
was fined £1 at Ramsgate Police Court on Monday.
It was explained that all the members of the company wore uniforms
was that of Lieutenant Commander of the
Royal Navel Reserve.
I have no proof yet of his enrolment in the Royal Navel Reserves.
Harry Willats and A.L. Pareeler’s “White Stars” Concert party at Marina Gardens, Ramsgate, Kent, England, were busy and successful. Harry told the Stage Newspaper (19th July 1923) that, their Feldman numbers worked today amount to Twenty-One, and every song a big winner.
Harry, put in a Pantomime call, in the Stage Newspaper, on the 6th December 1923.
Harry Willats “Cinderella” CALL – All Principals and Chorus engaged for the above, please assemble on stage, COL, ILKESTON, 11 o’clock prompt, mon Dec 17, No excuses. (Signed) Harry Willats)
Harry and Ellen, had their 8th child together in the September quarter of 1924, in the Thanet district.
They named him Kenneth A J Willats.
The below photo of Harry and his White Stars, was taken at Redcar, Yorkshire, England , in 1924, where he was performing for the holiday makers.
Harry is the gent in the top hat standing behind the black box with a star.
It’s so wonderful to see him in all his glory, doing what he loved best.
Harry Willats White Stars, held Auditions for, Redcar, Pianist, Entertainer, Comedian Producer. Baritone, Lt. Comedian. The Auditions were held at, 3 to 5.30 at 3, Bedford Street, Strand. (The Stage Newspaper, 23rd April 1925)
Harry’s wife Eleanor Mary Willats Steele Nee Kirby, aka Nellie Montague, died on the 2nd June, 1925, at Number 59, Spencer Road, Stoke Newington, London, England.
She died from, Cancer of the Liver and Asthenia.
George Herbert Steele her common-law husband registered her death on the 2nd June, 1925. He is named as her husband on Eleanor’s death certificate.
Harry and his family laid Eleanor Mary Willats Nee Kirby, at Finchley Burial Ground, in Islington Cemetery, Islington, Middlesex, England, on the 6th June 1925. She was buried under the name Eleanor Mary Willats Steele, in Grave reference Z/16851. She was buried in an open grave with 15 others.
Harry, placed a death announcement, in the Stage Newspaper, on the 18th June 1925, for his Wife, Eleanor Mary Willats Nee Kirby, aka Nellie Montague.
Willats (Nellie Montague –
On June, 2 1923, at 59, Spencer Road, Stoke Newington,
the beloved wife of Harry Willats.
Harry Herbert Willats, put a “In Memoriam” in the Stage Newspaper, a year after the death of his wife, Eleanor Mary Willats Nee Kirby.
Montague – In loving memory of my beloved Wife,
Nellie Montague, who died June 2, 1925,
R.I.P. Harry Willats.
Harry Herbert Willats, died on October 17th, 1929, at the, Royal Northern Hospital, Islington, London, England, when he was 52 years old.
Harry died from, Heart Failure, Disease of the Aortic Valve and Myocardial Degeneration.
N Hobbs of 20, Penshurst Road, Ramsgate, Kent, registered Harry’s death on the 21st October.
Harry’s occupation was given as, a Music Hall Artist of Number 20, Penshurst Road, Ramsgate, Kent.
Harry Herbert Willats, was laid to rest at, Islington Cemetery, Finchley, Middlesex, England, on the 23rd October 1929, in grave J/22123. He was buried with 15 others in a open grave.
I wonder why he wasn’t buried in the family volt?
Harry’s life was certainly interesting, with lots of skeletons, and loads of mystery, which I hope one day I will discover the answers to.
I have so many unanswered questions about him, especially about his days as a manager and how he ended up separated from Eleanor, also how he met Ellen and what became for their children?
Did Harry’s and Eleanor’s two boys, Reginald and Harry, know about their 8 half brothers and sisters? i know there were rumour of twins.
Were they in contact?
Did they form bonds and friendships?
Did Harry and Eleanor stay on talking terms?
There is so much I don’t know. I so very much wish I had the answers.
Harry has always fascinated me and I’m sure he will continue to do so until my dying day, maybe then our souls will meet and he can tell me in his own words, his life story.
Until then, May He Rest In Peace.
Harry Herbert Willats (Money)
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