Family history research seems to only concentrate on the souls who have passed over, to where ever it may be.
But what about your ancestors whom are still alive and kicking, the ones who remember the souls you are desperate to discover.
Isn’t it our jobs as budding historians to document not only the deceased but our living relatives lives as well as our own!!!
After all we are all history in the making.
I’m doing just that by making a start on documenting my Nan’s life and it’s my absolute honour to be able to share a little of it with you.
The surname Willats is derived from the diminutive form of the Old English personal name “Will” or “William.” Thus, the name refers to a “son of Willet.”
The surname Willats was first found in Essex, where the Willats family held a family seat from very ancient times. Records of the name in Essex and the surrounding shires date back to the Middle Ages, during the years immediately following the Norman Conquest.
Spelling variations of this family name include: Willet, Willett, Willhite, Willot, Willitt, Willets and many more.
(You can find out more information here.)
I asked my Nan about her early life and this is what she told me.
When and where were you born?
I was born on the 21st May 193*, at 11 Cross House Terrace, Southampton, Hampshire.
How much did you weigh at birth?
I believe I weighed 6lb.
Do you know if it was a easy birth for your Mum?
My Mother had a hard time as she was 3 days in labour.
How old were your parents at the time of your birth?
Mum was 20 years old and Dad was 24 years old.
Why were you given your first name?
Mum and Dad just liked it.
Where did you live in you early years?
We lived mostly in Southampton, but we moved a lot as my Dad was a commercial traveler.
What sort of buildings were they?
We always lived in a house with a garden. I always had my own one as I had no Brothers or Sisters.
What are your earliest memories?
My earliest memory is of sitting on my Dads shoulders and waving goodbye to my Gran and all my Mums family, when we left my Auntie Dorrie’s (Dorothy O’Connor) wedding.
I was 3 years old.
Did you have any favourite toys?
I had a favourite Teddy Bear. He only had one eye and I called him Nelson.
Did you have any hobbies?
My hobby from an early age was reading.
How old were you when you learnt to ride a bike?
I learnt to ride a bike when I was 7 years old. I had a small bike then but Dad brought me another bike at the end of the war, when I was 15. You couldn’t buy bikes during the war.
Did you receive pocket money?
I always had pocket money, I think it was sixpence (2 1/2 pence) when I was about 5 years old.
At 14, I got 2/6 (12 1/2 pence), for laying the table, wiping the dishes and keeping my room tidy.
When I was older I spent my pocket money on sweets or a comic. You could buy a penny’s worth of sweets and a comic for Ten-pence. You could go to the Saturday morning pictures for Sixpence, or any other day you paid a shilling (5p) for the cheap seats.
When I was a little older I would go to the Speedway, that cost 2/9, Dad used to give me extra money when I went there.
Did you have Birthday parties?
I did have Birthday patties but not during the war.
Do you have an special memories from Christmas Day?
I would wake early in the morning and feel the weight of my stocking on the end of my bed. In my stocking I always had an orange, an apple, some nuts and three new pennies, as well as my presents.
It’s details and memories like these, that are so very important to document, it’s the simple things about our ancestors life’s which can’t be found in dusky documents. Ask questions now so you don’t leave yourself with a mountain of regret, as one day it will be too late to ask.
Please pop back next week, to find out all about Nan’s/Doreen’s school years and beyond.