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The Royal Mrs Simpson

04 Apr

A brief history of the Simpson’s from Oswaldkirk.

St Oswalds, Oswaldwick North Yorkshire

Born in 1873 to parents John and Frances Simpson of Oswaldkirk, North Yorkshire , Kate Adelaide Simpson was one of 7 children, 4 born in what is the Beetonville district of Kingston Upon Hull. The Simpson’s arrived in the City at a time of great economic change, a time that would see enormous physical growth and an enormous boom in the City’s trade from overseas. Modern transport mechanisms had made anything possible in a port the size of Hull.
Kate’s father was a woodworker, a carpenter and a business man. At the time of massive population growth in the City, he would have many opportunities to make a good living, building homes amongst other things but later, just as he had helped them in life, John Simpson’s skills in wooden crafts would help them in death, when he took over the Undertakers shop on Woodcock Street, and carved out a living making coffins.
Some 7 years after Kate was born, her recently widowed grandfather John Simpson, who had married in Oswaldkirk on 25 March 1844, came to Hull. He passed away in the City in 1870 and in 1899 Kate’s mother also died. Sadly this meant she did not get to the marriage of Kate to Walter Billington, at St Matthews in Hull.

Following the death of Frances, John, the eldest of 10 siblings from Oswaldkirk, remarried Widow Diana Davis, some twenty years his junior. Diana, originally from Tetley in Lincolnshire had 3 of her own children. It was at this time the Simpson’s moved to Woodcock Street and from where John managed the Undertakers Business. His son Arthur is listed as a Wagonette Proprietor at that time and his other son John Henry has a wood working and joinery business. The family were quite the entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurism did not stop with the male side of the family, and in this respect Kate was quite the pioneer, not only did she own property but her interests in the East Coast extended to her owning an Ice Cream Stall and a group of travelling Pierots. Kate and Walter must have loved music as we have several pictures, featuring Walter at the Piano.

The Pierots of Kate Adelaide Simpson 1921

Walter Billington’s family, originating from Newton in Manchester, had arrived in Hull via Sheffield Brightside, where he had been born in 1869. Walter also worked with wood and had been a foreman at the Timber department on the Timber Dock in Hull in the 1890’s. Following their marriage , the 1890’s blessed them with 3 children; two boys and one girl; Raymond, Walter ‘Cyril’ and Lillian Billington.

As the century turned and Queen Victoria passed, a more modern error approach and one in which ordinary people would experience different ways to spent their leisure time. Saturday afternoon’s were a great example of that and Walter, Cyril and Raymond were always proud to be amongst the first supporters at the first professional football match in the City in 1904.
Lillian the eldest, married Harry Hall in October 1914. Their first child soon followed; Leslie was born in 1916. At the same time of these events, the elder of Lillian’s brother’s ; Cyril had enlisted in the East Yorkshire Regiment. War was happening in Europe and in Hull too.

Family Wedding, Kate and sister Harriet Simpson pictured at Front

Cyril had previously been employed as a clerk by what was then the Wilson Line, who had historically ran the busy passenger service between Hull and Hamburg that made Hull a busy thoroughfare for Europeans heading to the America’s for a new life. As a result of his employment, Cyril had been enlisted as a Corporal to the Army Cycle Corps. Once in Flanders, Cyril would become attached to the East Lancashire Regiment, his role was to cycle ahead of the battle to conduct reconnaissance until the inevitable happened. Cyril died at Serre sometime between 1st and 2nd July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. He was just one of the greatest number of casualties in British military history during that battle, one of 60,000.
For many years after Cyril’s death, the family tried to find out what had happened to him, to no avail and it was not until the 1980’s that we discovered his grave to be at Railway Hollow in Serre He had been placed amongst the Accrington Pals of the East Lancashire regiment. Sometime after this, my uncle visited the grave , where he planted a white rose bush, so Cyril’s origin could be identified amongst the red rose’s of Lancashire.
Cyril did not marry and did not father any children. Lillian’s second child born during a dirigible air raid in Hull, March 1917 was named Cyril in his honour.

War ended in 1918, and, like the rest of the nation, the family tried to bring something like normality back to their lives. Raymond was now in his early 20’s and thinking about his future business plans in Advertising and Promotions. Eventually he would have his own business as an Advertising Contractor.

By 1924, sadness again hit the family, when Lillian’s first born, Leslie died aged 8 of a heart condition. Harry and Lillian’s long desire to move to America had been kept on hold due to Leslie’s heart condition. The immigration authorities would not allow the family to come to America because of Leslie’s health issues. When Leslie died, the dream came alive again and the proper documents were cleared for Harry to travel to San Diego, California, to join his brother William and sister Ellen. Shortly after, Lillian and Cyril boarded a steamer in Liverpool and made the voyage to New York. By train, they continued on to San Diego in early 1926.

Raymond the youngest was married in 1927 to Florence May Taylor, of the Horbling Taylors from Lincolnshire. They too, would eventually leave the City but only for the Village of Brough 15 miles away. I imagine Raymond would not wish to be so far away from his beloved Hull City Football Club. Whom he followed until his death in 1966. Raymond and Florence had four children, Raymond, Peter, June, Valerie. Whilst in 1928, Lillian gave the family, its first US born addition; Irene Lillian.

Cyril and Irene both married and had families in the states. Now complete with great grandchildren, the family extends from San Diego to the Seattle and New York areas of the USA. Cyril, who had been 9 on arrival in California found he quickly had to adapt to the American way; not being used to the name Cyril , American children called him Cereal, he resorted to the middle name of Kenneth from then on.

Cyril Kenneth Hall, with wife Phyllis and son Raymond Albuquerque USA 1943

When Cyril (now known as Kenneth) turned 18 in March 1935, his father expected him to quit high school and take a job. It was The Depression Era and finding a job was very difficult. He did find several part-time positions however. Around the same time, Harry, Lillian and Irene moved to Los Angeles to support Irene’s budding dancing career. Shirley Temple was a huge Hollywood star and many parents with talented children made similar moves to Los Angeles dreaming of ‘fame and stardom’. Kenneth stayed in San Diego where a friend’s family took him in and provided room and board. In time, he felt the need to join the US Army in 1936. After basic training, he was sent to Hawaii and based at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. He reenlisted in late 1939 as was stationed near Los Angeles where he met Phyllis Kaiser. They married in 1941 and he was re-stationed to an army base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During World War II, he served in the liberation of New Guinea and The Philippines as an Army medic. After the war, Kenneth was discharged from the army and he and Phyllis moved back to Los Angeles. He died in 1994 leaving his wife, now in her 90’s, three children; Raymond, a retired high school teacher; Nancy, a Baptist seminary professor and minister; and Kathryn, who has 2 children, one an author and the other an artist.

Irene had a flirtation with the theatres and Hollywood before her marriage in 1951 and two children came along. She featured in the chorus line of the 1951 film ‘Showboat’ and in the 1940’s she toured London’s West End and Manchester as part of the Californian Debutants, appearing at (then) His Majesty’s Theatre in ‘Romany Love’ and in the stage version of ‘Show Boat’ at the Manchester Opera House. Her marriage brought two sons, Jim and John. Today, 86 year old Irene Lillian Hall resides near her son, John, on Widby Island, Seattle, USA. Her son Jim lives in Ramona, California. He and his wife, Linda, have two daughters and one son and six grandchildren.

Of Raymond, Peter, June, Valerie. Only June remains in Yorkshire. Raymond ( or Denis as he preferred) was the first to leave, when he enlisted in RAF at the outbreak of World War II. His first assignment was to a training Camp in North Wales. There he met his future wife.

After his spells in Norway and on attachment to the 8th Army in North Africa, he returned to North Wales, got married and had 2 children, who now have their own children and grandchildren living in the same area. Dennis passed in 2008.

Peter was employed in a detailed technical areas of aircraft construction, he too had served in the RAF during WWII, serving in Germany. His career path would take him from Blackburn’s Aircraft Factory at Brough , to Belfast and finally to Bedford. He married a school Headmistress from Hull and had 3 children. His wife, children and grandchildren survive him. He died in 1991.

Valerie, the youngest of the siblings was born in 1926 and ill health ended her life prematurely in 1960. Raymond Billington never quite got over her loss and he himself passed away shortly afterwards in 1966.
June spent much of her life travelling in her role as a Market Researcher. Living a peripatetic live style but always maintaining her base in or close to Hull. Her daughter was born in South Norwood, London and her Son in Doncaster . She has one granddaughter, who now attends the grammar school first attended by the children of Kate Adelaide Simpson at the turn of the 1900’s in Hull.

Those are the descendents of John Simpson born in Oswaldkirk in 1834.

Discover the Simpson’s of the past


An experienced former Government Researcher and Investigator (UK) offering specialist services to descendants of families originating in the United Kingdom. Offering a special emphasis on Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire, I can research your ancestors from any region of England, Scotland and Wales providing all available personal details for your family tree. As well as being a member of the Society of Genealogists, I am also a member of several other UK based Family History Societies.
For more information Family Tree Services or any other Family History advice, please contact me. danny.billington

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