Wednesday 16 January 2019

The Mystery of the rise of the Lillywhites

Sometime between 1802 and 1807 John and Martha Lillywhite arrived in the Windsor/Eton Wick area.  On John’s marriage in Norwich in 1802 to Martha West (age about 30), John was a Gamekeeper in Linford, Norfolk.  On arrival in Windsor and Eton they quickly appear to have established themselves in both Windsor and Eton Wick. John appears in the 1811 Holdens’s Directories at the Swan Inn in Thames Street, Windsor and had also taken a tenancy of a farm in Eton Wick between the Tax assessments of 1813 and 1814.  By the 1841 Census (John having died in 1828) the Lillywhite’s were tenants of both Saddock’s (Martha) and Manor (her son George Snowden) Farms.  How was it that a “mere” gamekeeper had so quickly gained so much?  Is the middle name of their eldest son, George Snowden Lillywhite, baptised at St Andrew’s Clewer in 1809, a clue as the Snowden family feature in Windsor as councillors, with John Snowden elected as Mayor in 1812?

Fields farmed by Martha and George Lillywhite 
John Lillywhite was a Gamekeeper near Norwich when he married Martha West 1802.  Where John Lillywhite came from is unknown, there being no other Lillywhites at the time in Norfolk and how when and why he came to Eton is also unknown.  However, over the next 3 decades they became a prominent part of the local establishment. 

After 1814 John appears to have concentrated on farming  whilst Martha appears to have been the driving force at the Inn as Angus Macnaughton in "Windsor and Eton in Georgian Times" reports that "Across the road from Old Bank House stood one of Windsor's most famous inn, the Swan, of which only a small part survives today.  For thirty years, from 1810, Mrs Lillywhite presided, making it a notable RV for the many organizations which held their meetings and banquets there".  John had died in 1828, with his son taking over his father’s role, with Martha retiring from the Swan in 1840, but with her son George Snowden Lillywhite she seems to have continued farming, being shown in the 1841 Census as the farmer at Saddock’s Farm with her son the Farmer at Manor Farms.

George Snowden Lillywhite
The Lillywhite appear to have been fully integrated into the local society.  For example Windsor and Eton Express, on Sat 16 Nov 1833 reports that a number of "owners and occupiers of lands  through which it is proposed to make a railway or railways from  Bristol to London and Windsor to London do hereby convene a meeting to  be held at the Windmill Inn, Salt Hill in the county of  Buckinghamshire on Tuesday 19th November ...."  There were 19 signatories including G.S. Lillywhite.  The next year on Sat 29 Mar 1834 (Page 1, Column 2) it is further reported in the same paper that the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Salt Hill Society for Protection against Felons and Thieves there were listed as subscribers Martha Lillywhite of Eton and George S Lillywhite of Eton Wick.  This society was formed in 1783 to protect the property and persons of local farmers and gentry from "Robbers, Felons, Highwaymen and Footpads".  Entrance was One Guinea and there was an annual subscription of 5/-.

George Snowden Lillywhite was a member of the Chalvey Chapel and it is reported in the history by Dr Judith Hunter that "The Sunday School was closed (at Boveney) though services continued to be held in a barn, probably one belonging to Manor Farm; for at this dated the tenant farmer, George Lillywhite, was a member of the Chalvey Chapel.   There is also a tradition that the cottage next to the farmhouse was once used for worship, with 25 people attending the services on “Census Sunday" in 1851". 

By 1871 George had been elected Baliff of the Manor of Eton cum Stockdales and Colenorton.  In the same year, Dr Judith Hunters' history reports George Lillywhite being a member of a committee which purchased Bell Farm from William Goddard for a sewage farm.  George was married to a Goddard, and George's daughter married a William Goddard so this seems to have been a family affair!

George died age 68 in 1877 and is buried in Eton Church. No 536. His parents are buried in St John the Baptist, New Windsor.  But how and why John and Martha came to Eton remains a mystery as does the reason for their rapid acquisition of the tenancy of a pub and two farms.

This article has been written by Louis Lillywhite.

Further notes on the Lillywhite family in reply to the comment from Helen Burlinham.

A reply to Helen Burlingham's questions on the Lillywhite family 

1. George Snowden born 1890 (I have 1889) is as you say your grandfather; George Snowden born 1808 died in 1877 is your great (x3) grandfather.

2. Police Sgt Henry Lillywhite (1865 – 1927) Collar Number 132 was your Great Grandfather.  As a Policeman, he moved around (1887 in Upton cum Chalvey; 1888 Salt Hill; 1889 Eton; 1891 53 Berkhamstead Rd Police Station)

3. I cannot find any link to the cricketing Lillywhites, even though the obituary in the Parish Magazine of the daughter Lydia  of George Snowden Lillywhite born 1808 reported after her death in 1927 at 14 Clifton Cottages, Eton Wick:

“Miss Lydia Lillywhite passed away at the age of 91, and with her has gone the last representative of the Eton Wick of ancient days.  She was the daughter of George Snowden Lillywhite of Manor Farm, whose father kept the Swan Inn of Windsor, from which the Eton Coach started, of which Miss Lillywhite had a picture, with her grandfather's name on it.  Her mother was Lydia Goddard.  The Lillywhites were a branch of the Sussex family, so well known in cricket history.

Miss Lillywhite had suffered for some time from the infirmities of old age, and lived in great retirement. In earlier years she had been an excellent pianist and devotedly fond of music.  She was a staunch member of the Church. She was the last surviving subscriber to the building of the Eton Wick Church, just sixty years ago."

4. In spite of the reference to the Sussex family, I have not been able to find any evidence that there is in fact a link in spite of extensive searching.  It was, however, an “accepted truth” in the family and indeed started me off on the hobby of Genealogy!

Ancestor Tree

You (Helen)  – Joan Lillywhite – George Snowden Lillywhite (Born 1889 in Eton) – Police Sgt Henry Lillywhite (born 1865 in Eton Wick) – George Lillywhite (born 1837 in Eton Wick)  - George Snowden Lillywhite (born 1808 in Windsor) – John Lillywhite (born circa 1776, died 1828 in Eton Wick).

The additional information has been supplied by Louis Lillywhite.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Louis- this is very interesting. I have 3 questions:
    1.What relation was my Grandfather, George Snowden Lillywhite,born 1890, to the George Snowden who died aged 68 in 1877?
    2.What relation was the London police sergeant 132 to him ie George Snowden who died in 1877?
    3.Were the Lillywhite cricketers, one who captained England in Australia, any relation to him-ie Geo Snowden, deceased 1877?
    Looking forward to hearing further about him.
    Best wishes
    Helen Burlingham, and Bruce, my brother.