The Helyer Family – Woodland Road

Hugh Helyar (Helyer) was born in West Coke, Somerset in 1843 to Thomas and Ellen Helyar. Thomas was a weaver and Ellen a glover. In 1851 the family was living at 8 Parish Lane, West Coke.

Hugh became a cordwainer and we next hear of him when he married Wiltshire-born Sophia (born 1845) in Yeovil, Somerset in 1869. Before long they moved to London and are recorded in the 1871 census as living at 8 Willow Terrace, Woodland Road. By this time they have a daughter 10-month-old Kate who was born in Sherborne, Dorset.

The 1881 census shows the family now lodging with Eliza Lucy Cosal (?), a widow and laundress, at 24 Danbrook Terrace in the Knights Hill area of Streatham. Three more children have arrived by this time: Elizabeth, born 1871, Charles, born 1874 and Sarah Jane, born 1879 – all in Norwood. Hugh has now become a bootmaker.

There is also a reference in the school register to Sarah being admitted to infant school on 26th May 1884 and the family address is given as 15 Albert Terrace, Forest Hill.

Hugh died in 1889, leaving his 46-year-old wife Sophia widow. The 1891 census records three children living at home: 15-year-old Charles, who is working as a postal errand boy, 12-year-old Sarah and another son Hugh aged seven years are both still at school. Hugh was baptised at St Peters Church, Streatham, on 19thSeptember 1883. Sophia Helyer is recorded in the 1889 street directory as now living back in Woodland Road, but this time at number 104 (formerly 4 Plummers Cottages), the row adjacent to Willow Terrace her address in the 1870s.

On 19th March 1893, son Charles married Emma Hands in All Saints Church.

The 1901 census shows Sophia Helyer still living at 104 Woodland Road with her youngest son Hugh, now aged 17 working as a draper’s porter. Sophia is recorded as being a monthly nurse (one who cares for mothers and babies in the immediate post-natal period) and, as such, having her own account (income). They also have a lodger – George Didman – a 68-year-old single man from Beckenham who works as a cowman.

By 1911 Sophia, now 88 years old, has moved in with daughter Kate as 75 Gipsy Hill. Kate had been married for seven years but has no children. Her husband appears to have been away on the night of the census as the registrar has difficulty identifying whether or not she is the Head of Household. George Didman is still lodging with the family and is described as a dairy worker.