Current events have directed me to this branch of my extended Sillifant family tree….
Yesterday, I attended the Devon FHS AGM & Conference in Exeter. I always love driving down the M5 to Devon and get a strange feeling of being ‘home’ when I pass the ‘Welcome to Devon’ sign, as although I have never lived there, half of my ancestral lines originate from the county. It’s one place where people don’t look at me strangely when I say ‘I am researching the Sillifant surname’ …. !
The distribution of the surname in 1881 census shows that, per 100,000 people, 910 people in the Holsworthy Registration District held the name. Putting that into context, walking down the road in 1881, you had a 1 in 100 chance of bumping into a Sillifant – I’d say more chance, if you wandered up a cart track and onto some farmland!
I digress slightly…. Having been a member of Devon FHS for many years, quite a few members are aware of my eccentric worldwide study of the surname and not one, but two people came to tell me of their Sillifant discoveries yesterday! So, having planned to stay in Clawton (at the mighty fine Claw House Bed and Breakfast with the lovely Stockley family), I detoured from the direct A30 route to Launceston and came off at Okehampton to travel up to Halwill Junction. The reason being that a gentleman commented that two Sillifant men were commemorated on the Halwill and Beaworthy War Memorial. They had not died in battle but all the Halwill men who served and returned are also noted on the memorial, so he said.
And so, Gertrude, Roxy and I arrived in Halwill and excitedly parked outside the little newsagents in the village, to walk across the road and visit the memorial:
How many Sillifant names can you see?
Five Halwill Sillifant men went to War and all five returned. W. is William, E.R. is Ernest Richard (who I wrote about on 24 August), F. is Frederick, H. could be Herbert or Hedley Charles or even Heber and F.C. is ….? Father Christmas?! He doesn’t fit into the same line. All the others are brothers and the sons of William and Jane (née Bassett) Sillifant. Perhaps F.C. should be H.C. for Hedley Charles as he definitely served…. Confusing, but exciting to find something new and I’ve driven past that spot many times over the years!
Most of the boys lived their entire lives in Halwill but William had moved away from the village prior to the War, marrying Elsie Jeffery in 1911 in Yeovil and another brother, Herbert John moved to Kent marrying in 1919. Later in life, Hedley Charles also moved around a lot in the south of England from Bridport, Dorset to the New Forest and Cheltenham, Gloucestershire before dying in Swindon, Wiltshire. A really interesting family line and thank you ‘Mr A. Janes’, Devon FHS member. Onward to following up on the second Sillifant discussion ….