Hibbitt & Barnes Family History


John Gale HELLIER (abt. 1844 - 1895)

John Gale HELLIER was born in Tavistock, Devon, and was the fourth child and eldest son of William HELLIER and Sarah (nee SILLICK). There is some ambiguity over his exact date of birth - there was a birth entry for John Gale HELLIER in the first quarter of 1844, however, the naval record for John HELLYER states that his date of birth was 29 Dec 1844. Other records put his birth between 1844 and 1846.

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In 1851, John was a schoolboy living with his parents and siblings in Bannawell Street in Tavistock. The census details are as follows...

Name: John Gale Hellier 
Age: 7 
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1844 
Relation: Son 
Father's Name: William 
Mother's Name: Sarah 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Tavistock, Devon, England 
Civil Parish: Tavistock 
Town: Tavistock 
County/Island: Devon 
Country: England 
Street address: 45 Bannawell Street
Registration district: Tavistock 
Sub registration district: Buckland 
ED, institution, or vessel: 2h 
Household schedule number: 305 

Household Members: Name Age 
William Hellier 35 
Sarah Hellier 40 
Jane Hellier 11 
Eliza Hellier 9 
John Gale Hellier 7 
William Hellier 5 
Elizabeth Ann Hellier 3 
Samuel Hellier under 1 Mo 
Sarah Radford 84 (Landed Proprietor)
Mary Cook 70 (Nurse)

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A seventeen year old John was still living with his family in 1861 and had begun an apprenticeship. The enumerator spelt the family name as 'Helyer' on the census for that year...

Name: John Helyer 
Age: 17 
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1844 
Relation: Son 
Father's Name: William 
Mother's Name: Sarah 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Tavistock, Devon, England 
Civil parish: Tavistock 
Town: Tavistock 
County/Island: Devon 
Country: England 
Street Address: Bannawell Street
Occupation: Ap to Iron Moulder
Registration district: Tavistock 
Sub-registration district: Tavistock 
ED, institution, or vessel: 10 
Household schedule number: 92 

Household Members: Name Age 
William Helyer 45 
Sarah Helyer 50 
John Helyer 17 
William Helyer 15 
Elizabeth A Helyer 13 
Samuel Helyer 10 
Thomas Helyer 7 
Thomas Jacketts 21 (Boarder)

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The 1881 census shows John as married with four children living in the Stoke Damerel area of Devonport, Devon. John was now in the Royal Navy and his surname was spelt HELLYER. Today, Devonport forms part of the city of Plymouth...

Name: John Hellyer 
Age: 36 
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1845 
Relation: Head 
Spouse's Name: Mary A. 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Tavistock, Devon, England 
Civil Parish: Stoke Damerel 
County/Island: Devon 
Country: England 
Street address: 60 Mount St 
Condition as to marriage: Married 
Occupation: Seaman R N 
Registration district: Stoke Damerel 
Sub registration district: St Aubyn 
ED, institution, or vessel: 7 

Household Members: Name Age 
John Hellyer 36 
Mary A. Hellyer 28 
Kate Hellyer 3 
Wm. Hellyer 2 
Lilly Hellyer 8 months
Mary Hellyer 8 months (should read May)

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John was also noted as being on the books of HMS Briton in 1881, although not on board on the night of Sunday 3rd April. The census recorded the following...

Name: John Hellyer 
Age: 36 
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1845 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Tavistock, Devon, England 
Civil Parish: Vessels 
County/Island: Devon 
Country: England 
Street address: "Briton" 
Condition as to marriage: Married 
Occupation: Leading Stoker 
Registration district: Stoke Damerel 
Sub registration district: Tamar 
ED, institution, or vessel: Briton

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John and his wife, Mary, sadly lost one of their twin daughters, May Amelia, in 1882. They had a further five daughters, including Alice Maud who died at 10 months old, and another son, who died at 9 years.

The couple lived at various addresses in Devonport throughout their marriage but then Mary died in 1890.

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John's naval record stated he was 5'5" tall with brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. He was also tattooed on his left arm. The record confirms his trade had been a moulder and his rating was recorded at various times as a Stoker SM, Lg Stoker and Stoker. Ships, vessels and bases he served on were Narcissus, Indus, Newcastle, Gorgon, Briton and Vivid II. It was whilst serving on HMS Briton that John won the Soudan Medal during the 1884 Sudan Campaign.

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On the 1891 census, John was described as a navy pensioner (having been first described as such in 1886 on his daughter, May Elizabeth's, baptism entry). By now, his daughters, Lily and Sarah, had been sent to live with relatives and his 1 year old son, John, was described as an adopted son of Thomas (also a naval pensioner) and Mary Simpson, living at 49 Mount Street in Devonport. The details on the census are as follows...

Name: John Hellyer 
Age: 45 
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1846 
Relation: Head 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Tavistock, Devon, England 
Civil Parish: Stoke Damerel 
Ecclesiastical parish: St Mary 
Town: Devonport 
County/Island: Devon 
Country: England 
Street address: 57 James Street
Occupation: Navy Pensioner RN
Condition as to marriage: Widower
Registration district: Stoke Damerel 
Sub registration district: St Aubyn 
ED, institution, or vessel: 9 

Household Members: Name Age 
John Hellyer 45 
Kate Hellyer 13 
William J Hellyer 12 
Mary Hellyer 5 (should read May)
Elizabeth Hellyer 3 
Jane Hellyer 2

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At one time or another, family legend has it that John was robbed but no further details about this incident are known.

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John died, aged about 50, on 7th March 1895 in the district of Stoke Damerel whilst living at St Stephen Street. His naval record stated the cause of death as phthisis. This Latin term means a wasting disease and formerly applied to many wasting diseases, but is now usually restricted to pulmonary tuberculosis or consumption. Perhaps John's occupation as a stoker contributed to his demise.

Family legend passed down the saying, 'he died of a broken heart', presumably after the death of his beloved wife.

John was buried on 12th March 1895 within the Parish of Stoke Damerel.

 

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