5 Balls and Whitakers

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William John Ball (1824-1927) was a native of Shepshed in Leicestershire. (Four previous generations are recorded in the family tree.) At his retirement he stated: “In May 1850 I left my native village in Leicestershire and came to the metropolis to offer myself as a candidate for mission work”. He joined the London City Mission on May 27th 1850 and worked first briefly in Belgravia, then in the Jacob’s Island area of Bermondsey (the setting for Dickens’ Oliver Twist); from 1872 he was at Guy’s Hospital, and finally worked with “the day cabmen of South London”. He retired on July 1st 1900.

He married Ann in 1851 and had seven children – William (b. & d. 1852), William Clark (b.1853), Joseph (b.1853), John Josiah (b.1857), Anne Elizabeth (1860-1923), Emily (b.1863) and Sarah (b.1863).

William at his Shepshed cottage.

He “walked to London from Shepshed, Leicestershire, playing the fiddle en route at Inns to cover expenses.  In later years he was a London City Missioner. His youngest daughter Sarah, a spinster, cared for her father, and after his death moved from East Dulwich to South Norwood (Chatsworth Road)” – [based on 1970 note by Mabel Forster].  

His daughter Anne Elizabeth Ball (31.5.1860-7.2.1923) married Edwin Whitaker, the youngest of nine siblings. His oldest brother George had a daughter Alice who in turn had two sons who were killed in action in World War I and a daughter Ethel who married Alf Lyons, a builder. He built himself a house at 12 Park Road, Beckenham, including a billiards room that notoriously and despite his trade he built too small for the full-size table he wanted. Their children were Eric, Raymond and Barbara (Babs) Lyons.

Ethel Lyons (right) with Emily Holt in 1935

Edwin Whitaker (14.4.1857-4.1.1932) was a manager with the Building Section of R.Whites (mineral waters manufacturers) [Mabel Forster]. He was also an amateur artist and a keen fisherman.

He went angling frequently in the Fens, staying with the Thody family in Earith where members of the family were later evacuated during World War II.

With the Thody family at Earith – Edwin is standing

Anne and Edwin had six children – Edwin (Ted), Annie Elizabeth (known as Dot), Leonard, Ernest, Emily Blanche and William.

Anne Elizabeth is seen below (on the left), probably in the house where she and Edwin lived in Peckham Grove. She is with (perhaps) her daughter Emily Blanche and grandson Jack and (even more speculatively) her older daughter Dot.

At Peckham Grove

Below is a sketch of Anne, called ‘Forty Winks’, by her son William, made in about 1907.

William’s sketch of his mother, c.1907

Edwin and Anne’s oldest son, Edwin (known as Ted), was (according to Mabel) a “Master Builder, with House & Yard 55 Gloucester Road, Peckham, S.E.”  He is said to have proposed to Ellen Elizabeth (Nell) Holt but married one Kitty Bloxham. He died in 1926 after falling from a tree while fixing a wireless aerial.

Edwin (‘Ted’) Whitaker

The oldest daughter Annie Elizabeth Whitaker (1881-1973) was known as Dot. She was an “assistant sales woman Gloves Oxford St & another in St Paul’s Churchyard, name forgotten. Married William Thomas Edward Johnson, clerk in Shipping firm ‘Lamport & Holt’, Lime St, London [who] died July 21st 1929, aged 48, [of] TB” [Mabel’s note, which probably has his age and date of death wrong]. Below right, Dot with Leslie at Trudy‘s wedding.

Dot had two daughters and a son.

Elsie Johnson (11.1.1903-20.6.1984) (who became a typist in the City) married Charlie Haylor, a commercial artist who later turned greengrocer. They had three children, one of whom died in infancy.

Mabel followed (see below). Finally came Maurice (b. 22.8.1917) who was a glider pilot in the Arnhem raid in World War II. He married Theresa Shields and they have two children and two grand-children.

Mabel Johnson (16.3.1908-27.8.2001) is seen (below) with Dorothy Pollock in the 1950s. She trained as a singer but gave it up when she married Archie Forster (25.8.1901-22.8.1979) on June 6 1929. He was a statistician who got an MBE for his work as a temporary civil servant during World War II.

Mabel and Archie had three children. The first was Geoffrey (10.1.1934-7.1.2021) who married Shirley Hammerton (17.2.1934-6.3.2023). They have two daughters and a son and seven grandchildren.

Gillian (b.5.2.1938) married Bruce Starling and lives in Canada. They have a daughter, a son, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Christopher (b. 13.4.1944) married Anne Jebson, and they have four sons.

Edwin and Anne’s third child was Leonard. Mabel’s note on him says “Smithfield market, Buyer for Hotels and Florists”. He had a son, another Leonard (b.18.11.1916) and after his death his widow Lily (née Allen) married his youngest brother William.

The fourth child was Ernest (4.8.1885-18.2.1968) who became a “designer & maker of jewellery, employed by Court jewellers Hatton Garden” [Mabel]. He married Gertrude Archer (8.4.1885-5.5.1974). Their son David died in infancy but their daughter Gertrude, known as Trudy, married a diamond merchant, Cyril Tarling, and had two daughters.

Ern and Gertie are seen below on the left. Seated in the centre is Gertie’s sister Alice, and standing on the right is Frank whom she married. With them is Ern’s mother Anne Elizabeth.

Ern, Gertie, Alice, Anne Elizabeth, Frank

Many photos of Ern and Gertie were taken at formal dinners.

Ernest and Gertrude
Emily Holt, Alice (Gert’s sister), Ern, ?Trudy, Gertie, ?Cyril, Leslie & Dorothy – 1950s
In this 1950s photo, Ern and Gertie are on the right, Emily in the centre. On the left is Alice; the man next to her is unidentified.
In this photo Gertie is on the left, with Jack and Emily Holt and (between them) their daughter Dorothy.

After Ern came Emily Blanche, and last of all William (2.7.1890-11.5.1965), seen (below) in a blurry photo probably in the Peckham Grove garden about 1920-25. He became a professional artist and married his brother Len’s widow Lily.

In this photo of a picnic near Earith in about 1921 William is standing on the right. The others are (l to r) Jack (JE) Holt, his son Jack (JW), Dorothy (back to the camera) in front of Emily, Ted (Edwin) Whitaker, and Lionel.

Lily appears unclearly in two photos: on the beach at Folkestone in 1930:

Unknown, Dorothy, Emily, Lionel, Lily, and Jack (JW)

and reclining in front of “Harry’s bungalow” at Hemsby in August 1932, with Dorothy and her mother Emily Holt.

Lily, Dorothy, Emily

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