John William Siblings - THE VAYRO ANCESTRY

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John William Siblings

John Rennison


My Grandfather Thomas was married twice. His first wife was Anne Dunn (born 17 th May 1885) and the marriage ceremony took place at Durham Register Office on 21 st September 1907. Unfortunately Anne died shortly after the birth of Thomas Henry on 12 th February 1908 following complications.

His second wife as Ethel Poole born 6 th August 1887 and they were married at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Old Elvet, in Durham City on 15 th February 1913. At the time Thomas was living at 71 Commercial Street, Willington, Co. Durham. They had seven children in total including john William.


Thomas Henry was born 22 nd January 1908 in Willington and died 17 th February 1964 in Redcar, County Cleveland. This is the Uncle on my father’s side that I know least about.

Following his mother’s death Thomas Henry is thought to have lived with a Mrs Rutter his mother’s paternal grandparents, and stayed with them until his father Thomas remarried.

Thomas Henry was apparently a rather stern, upright person who was extremely religious to the extent that he became a lay preacher on the Wesleyan Methodist Circuit in the Willington area.

Thomas Henry married Ethel Moore, circa 1935 and they had a daughter Alwyn born in 1936. In the early 1950’s they all moved to the Redcar area, where he managed a small newsagent’s shop.

Their daughter Alwyn went on to marry Eric Keith Moore and they in turn had a son Mark Richard Moore and a daughter Helen Suzanne Moore.

Found on the website


It's plow and soa, scythe an' hoa, then in tid 'arvest we da goa.

Fust it's t ' 'ay, then comes t'e corn, aye, ta sich a life wus ah born.

There's cows to milk, an' hosses ta feed, turnips ta snag an' tatties ta lead.

Wi fingers all frosted an' numbed, Offen ah wunner, why ivver ah comed.

Aa t' maisters 'ard, and misses taa keeps shoutin' out what work's ta daa,

An early grave will be me fate, Wi' t' Parson prayin' at t' Churchyard Gate.

Then rest t' will be fra scythe and hoa for t' Lord in 'eaven ordained it soa.

He'll say "Come in lad wi friends sa few, sit thee down, and thee strength renew.

Weep noa more, my poor bit lad, but in the brightest raiment clad

Laugh wi joy, and sing thee praise, in my presence, all these days."

Till then tis on, and on, ah goa, it's plow an' soa, scythe and hoa'

Fust it's t' 'ay, then comes t' corn, aye, ta sich a life wus ah born.


MARY ELIZABETH 70 th Birthday Party

Mary Elizabeth was born on 2 nd December 1915 in Willington. She was a spinster all her life, with a major problem with Epilepsy attacks during her teenage years, which miraculously disappeared when her mother Ethel died in 1954. At the age of 14 Mary went to London, and worked “in service” in a large house as a maid, and it was here that she learned to cook.

As a child I remember sitting playing cards with most of my Aunts and Uncles around a large table at 19 Gardner Avenue in Willington.  We played for pennies or matchsticks rather than for large sums of money, but it was always Mary that had to win, and accused everyone of cheating if she didn’t. She did however nurse Grandfather Thomas through a long illness, just before he died in 1966. Mary seemed to be always there in times of crisis, helping out, when my brother Clifford was taken into hospital when his throat started bleeding again a few days after his tonsils had been removed. She also tended to my father when he suffered his heart attack, and just before he died.        

Mary eventually moved from Gardner Avenue to a small bungalow in Willington, and passed away on 22 nd May 1992.


Alfred was born on 30 th May 1920 in Willington, and is another sibling in my father’s family that I know little about. I do have an anniversary “Cradle Roll” card for his 3 rd birthday from the Methodist Chapel, which caused much confusion because I assumed he had died after the age of three, and have only recently found that he actually died on 28 th January 1921 aged seven months, of bronchitis and infantile convulsions.

His Baptism record is still to be traced. One of the reasons for this is that the Vayro family were Methodists, and there were several Chapels in Willington, as well as a local Methodist Circuit and records are either not available or difficult to access.


Harry was born 20 th December 1922 in Willington, and from the age of 15 worked in Brancepeth mine as a coal face hewer.  Apparently he would come home from school and wash the floors of the kitchen and scullery. He married Edna Goulding on 17 th March 1951 at  St Catherine's Crook. They have no children, but “adopted” a son Keith, her sister’s boy. Harry worked with the Colliery Fire Services at Peases West near Crook, before retiring to one of their cottages.

Like my father, his brother George, and my Uncle Ray, Harry had a motorcycle, and when Harry and his brothers John and George set off on a motorbike sidecar, whilst going round a bend at Brancepeth, the sidecar detached itself from the main bike while the bike went in a totally different direction. Fortunately no one was hurt.

Harry also used to have a bicycle and one day George was riding “croggy” behind Harry, when the police arrived on the scene.  They had just dismounted before P C Plod came across to talk to them, and managed to persuade him to let them off. I can certainly remember Harry, George, Ray and my Dad arriving on their motorcycles at the Wolsingham campsite with leather airmen’s helmets.

Harry passed away on Saturday 4th August 2012 aged 89. His Cremation took place at the East Durham Crematorium in Coundon on Monday 13 th.

Edna as the last of the generation died in Crook October 9 th 2017


Lillian was born 1 st April 1924 in Willington, and when she was just past her 17th birthday her father Thomas signed the papers for her to join the Women’s Royal Air Force.

Lillian stayed in the WRAF during the Second World War where she met John Robson Cuthbert who she later married in St John’s P M Chapel in Sunny Brow on 8 th June 1946. (See photo)

They had a son John Alan Cuthbert, born in 1951.

They settled in Seaham Harbour, and several years after Johnny died following a massive heart attack on 29 th August 1990. Lillian eventually moved to a small bungalow after her original home had suffered subsidence.

Lilian is still alive living in a retirement home in Seaham Harbour


George Vayro was born 27 th December 1925 in Willington, and spent time in the local Brancepeth Mine. He married Edna Smith on 18 th December 1948, at Crook high Hope Street Methodist Chapel and they had four children. Pauline, David, Keith and Nigel.  During his early twenties George and Harry were active Ice skaters at the Durham Ice Rink, and may have played on the local team.

At one stage George and Edna moved to Newcastle where he had a job in the Mine Fire service, and for a time when I was at College I stayed with them as a lodger. They then moved to a small cottage at Harperley near Howden le Wear, where they managed a market garden, while George was also working with the Colliery Fire Services at Peases West near Crook.

They finally settled in Stanhope. George was a bit of a comedian, constantly playing jokes on people. I can remember an occasion when he had poked his finger in the largest cream cake saying, “that one is mine”. His party trick was asking people if they could touch the tip of their nose with their tongue, and showing them that he could! George died on 18 th September 1997, and was cremated at Durham.

Edna survived  for several years living in stanhope but died in Willington Nursing home 15 th December 2015


Ruth was born 17 th January 1930 in Willington, married Raymond Anderson at St John’s Methodist Chapel in Sunnybrow on 1 st September 1951.

Sadly they never had children, though they are ideally suited and would have made good parents, and Lillian’s son Alan, who spent a lot of his childhood with them, is as near to a son as ever they would have wished for.  She remembers her father Thomas having to come to school to collect her following a flood.

When first married they were in Back High Street, Willington, a property owned by Coates who also had the post office and newsagents directly opposite.

During my early teenage years I spent many happy days with them both, at Hare Law Farm camping, fishing and shooting rabbits, (Ray was a gamekeeper for Brancepeth Estates) and looked on them as mentors and guardian angels.

My friends David Coates, Arthur Graham, Derek Foster, and their nephew Colin Anderson would pop in for cups of tea, biscuits, and a look at the latest Motor Bike that Ray was riding.

Raymond passed away in Willington nursing home 14 th April 2016

They then moved up to Long Row in Oakenshaw before finally settling in Hunwick. As an ex miner Ray has always had a liking for red mule canaries, which he has successfully bred in specially built cages, or redpolls. He is also a keen fisherman and they regularly went on fishing trips to local reservoirs or further afield. Well Ray fished while Ruth provided the company and picnic hampers.

Sadly Ruth passed away on 21 st April 2007

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