Wilson Grandparents

Dewis and Mary Wilson
Dewis and Mary Wilson
Dewis and Mary Wilson parents

This page is about grandparents Dewis and Mary Wilson.

Dewis Wilson

Dewis was born on 27 Oct 1904 to Joseph Wilson and Harriet Wilson (nee Bettison). They lived on Main Street Huthwaite. The photograph of Main Street on the right was taken in 1909.

He attended New Street Junior School in Huthwaite and was part of the school choir when they won first prize at the Sutton Patriotic Fair.

New Street Junior Choir
School Choir – Dewis back row, 2nd from right

By the 1911 census, they had moved to Sherwood Street Huthwaite. In the census, he is shown as having three sisters, Emily, Lucy and Francis and two brothers, Joseph and William.

Main Street Huthwaite 1909
Main Street Huthwaite 1909
Dewis, Joe, Bill and Emily Wilson
Grandad Wilson (far right) with brothers Joe and Bill and sister Emily

The 1911 census had additional information which included a column showing how many children in the family had previously died. Their census return shows there were four other children who had died. One of those deaths was a son Hedley who had died at the age of six, but my dad’s brother Graham believes two others were stillborn twins and the other died before being named.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Dewis’s mother Harriet died in 1913 at the age of 36. She died of tuberculosis. Then two of his sisters Francis and Lucy died in 1919. He would have only been nine when his mother died and I wonder how much all these deaths affected him.

When he started work, he followed the family tradition of becoming a coal miner.

Mary Wilson (nee Shacklock)

Mary was born on the 20th October 1903 to Frederick Shacklock and Mary Shacklock (nee Dove). They lived at 41 Slater Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield. Fred was a bricklayer by trade, but also worked as a miner.

By the 1911 census, they had moved to St Michael’s Street, Sutton. Mary had four sisters, Mona, Victoria, Elsie and Edie, and one brother Fred. Later they moved to Mansfield Road. Before she married, she worked as a Hosiery Hand, but I don’t know where.

Their Married Life

On the 7th June 1925, Dewis and Mary married at the Zion Baptist church on Mansfield Road, Sutton-in-Ashfield. They had four children.

They lived at various places in Sutton including Eastfield Side, Glen Street, Mansfield Road, Charnwood Street, North Street, eventually finishing in Herne Street where they spent the rest of their lives. They bought 16 Herne Street in 1934 when they took out a mortgage with the Halifax Building Society for £405 12s. The monthly repayments were £2 12s.

In 1925 Dewis entered a competition in the local paper where you had to predict the results of ten football matches. He did very well and won the first prize of £25 for getting all ten results correct. This is equivalent to about £1500 in 2021.

He was in the Huthwaite Home Guard during the war. I don’t think Sutton was high on Hitler’s hit list, but Nottingham and Sheffield definitely were, so I’m sure they saw enemy aircraft in the skies. Sheffield was badly hit on the 12th and 15th December 1940 when around 660 people died and around 40,000 were left homeless. The red glow from the fires could be seen as far as Sutton.

Grandad’s id card shows him living in Carlton Road Sheffield between March 1944 and September 1944. I found out from my cousin something that one of Grandad’s former mining colleagues told her at his funeral. During the war, Grandad was tasked with mechanising the pits to increase efficiency and ensure there was sufficient fuel.. They didn’t want the enemy know so it was kept top secret. Is this why he went to Sheffield?

Rationing continued after the war right until 1954. People would find ways to augment their rations. They started keeping chickens in the back garden. I don’t know when they started doing this, but they certainly had chickens in 1946 because she mentions in a letter that she had to buy some chicken feed. I also have vague recollections of them keeping a pig as well.

Early photo of Dewis and Mary Wilson
A photo taken early in their marriage
Dewis and Mary at the seaside with Elsie and Norman.
At the seaside with Elsie and Norman

He worked most of his married life at Silver Hill colliery where he became a deputy. (The following is a definition of a deputy I found on the internet – ‘a supervisor who was responsible for an area of the pit underground. He would walk the roadways and crawl along the coal face where men were working. He would be supervising all aspects of health and safety and mostly stop and speak to the men on his area – often called a district.)’
He was very good at his job. In 1951, following a fire at Silver Hill, he received a letter from the area manager of the Coal Board, commending him on his prompt action stopping it becoming a serious incident and he received an award of £5 ‘in recognition of his devotion to duty’. My Uncle Edgar Holmes also wrote to my dad about an accident he had at Silver Hill. He wrote ‘Your father’s timely intervention saved me from further worse injury when I broke my neck in the mine, I will always remember him for his kindness and help’.

Mary augmented her housekeeping money by becoming an agent for Grattan Catalogues. They would send her their catalogue and friends and family would order things. She sent off the orders and they would send her the goods to distribute. Goods were paid for in twenty weekly instalments. She would collect the payments, send it off and they would give her a commission.

Dewis and Mary Wilson

He retired in 1965, by which time he would have been working as a miner for about fifty years. Mary died on 30 December 1976 of pneumonia and asthma. The minister of the Zion Baptist where the funeral was held described her as ‘a marvellous wife and wonderful mother whose life interest was for her family’. He continued to live at Herne Street on his own for another twenty years when he died on 31 July 1996 of pneumonia following a fall when he broke his femur.

The Name Dewis

I’ve often wondered about the origin of the name Dewis and after some digging round, this is the best explanation that I can come up with.

Although the name always appeared in census records as Dewis, the earliest Dewis was registered at birth as D’Ewes.
The name Dewis was not just confined to our family. Nottinghamshire parish records show the name was used by other families and the spelling varied, including Dewis, D’Ewes and Dewes. A possible clue to the origin of the name is that it was originally spelt D’Ewes.

This name can be traced back to the Coke family in Pinxton. They were a rich family and for many years, the rector of Pinxton and South Normanton was the Rev D’Ewes Coke. His grandfather was also a D’Ewes Coke and the name originated from his mother. Her name before she married was Elizabeth D’Ewes. She wanted to have her family name remembered, so she used it as a Christian name for her son. This is the most likely explanation for it becoming a Christian name. The D’Ewes family came from Suffolk. The most successful member of this family was Sir Symonds D’Ewes who was knighted and made a baronet.

I can’t find any connection between our family and either the Coke family or the D’Ewes family. However, the Rev D’Ewes Coke was also a mine owner, so would be well known to the mining community of the area. It is quite likely that mining families, if they liked the name, would use it to name one of their sons.