The Belper Families - THE VAYRO ANCESTRY

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The Vayro Ancestry in Belper Derbyshire, an Unsolved Mystery and an MBE

    In December 2014 a couple of new contacts from a social network opened up another avenue for research in Belper Derbyshire, one of the areas of the UK that I had not considered before. Information received was that a Thomas Henry Vayro was born circa 1890 in Belper and died aged 77 in Belper in 1967 (registration Oct/Dec quarter)  Both contacts were his great granddaughters but by different sons. Henry and his wife Edith had three sons Norman, Percy James Thomas and Dennis Vayro. It turns out that Henry was not born in Belper after all, so initially that little piece of information proved a little misleading. But what I found interesting was that one of these brothers disappeared without trace, a mystery yet unsolved, but more importantly I have now found someone famous in the family, someone who received an MBE.

   Details from the family showed a vague tree of 4 generations all from the Belper area. So as usual I issued a plea for help and turned to colleagues in the Guild and Upper Dales FHG and within days various pieces of evidence turned up in my email inbox, so I cannot thank them enough for their help and assistance.

Map of Belper, Darbyshire

Clifton Castle in Uredale

Thomas Henry Vayro and Edith Short

   Entries for a Thomas H Vayro were found on the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census sites, and it turns out that he was born in the small village of Pickhill near West Tanfield in North Yorkshire. Thomas Henry was in West Tanfield in 1891 Census, age 5 months with his parents John (28 born Clifton Lodge Bedale) and Martha (23 born Thirsk) and his sisters Christiana 3 and Sarah 6.

  Ten years later in 1901, at 10 years old Thomas and his parents were at Harlsey Grove Cottage in East Harlsey in the Hambleton District of North Yorkshire near Northallerton (RG13 PN4594 f.79 p.12). John Vayro and Martha Ann Rose had married Oct to Dec Quarter 1884 (Thirsk Vol 9d 767 L351/4) and John turned out to be one of the sons of Thomas Vayro and Sarah Todd of Clifton Cottage on the Clifton Castle Estates.  (Journal Vol 11 Is 6 April 2013 Percy Vayro Gentleman Farmer of Clifton Castle Estates.)

   In 1911 Census Thomas was working as a groom at Willoughby House, near Rugby in Warwickshire (RG14 PN18634 RD391 SD3 ED 14 SN26B); not quite Derbyshire, but he'd clearly headed south from Yorkshire. Again he was shown as birthplace, Pickhill Yorkshire. Now aged 20 like many before him and following, he was a farm hind working with animals. Immediately prior to the start of WW1 there was probably little farm work available, so Thomas had moved south to find agricultural work, but he was not yet in Belper Derbyshire. A close family member confirmed the story that Thomas Henry was a groom and when the gentleman he worked for went off to WW1 as an officer in the cavalry, Thomas also went as a foot soldier attached to the cavalry brigade.

   It is also thought that he had met his wife (who originated from Belper) whilst she was working in service at Willoughby House, his place of work. It was not uncommon for young girls going into service to move to a different area. Whilst there was plenty of employment for girls to work in the cotton mills and stocking factories in Belper and surrounding areas there was little else available, so the domestic life as a maid in a Yorkshire Country House was probably a great attraction.

http://www.findmypast.coma marriage was located in Belper of Thomas H Vayro to Edith M Short in 1914 (registration July/Sept quarter) and also an entry for a Thomas H Vayro 3374 300 Battalion, Private, Household Cavalry, Staffs Yeomanry, Sherwood Rangers, Corps of Hussars CMIC SWBC. That's a lot of separate regiments, but I think the Household Cavalry can be confirmed by going off to war with the "master of the house".  

   The "Burnt Records" on were consulted to see if Thomas Henry's WW1 Service. Records were available. Unfortunately not, but his Medal Index Card is there showing service in the Staffordshire Yeomanry, Sherwood Rangers and Corps of Hussars.

   No mention of Household Cavalry, but the medal rolls which put his name forward for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal come from the Corps of Hussars, a sub-unit within the Household Cavalry and Corps of Cavalry. I think that might re-confirm where the Household Cavalry reference comes from.


   A family contact confirmed that there is an inscription in a book "The advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. July 1917 - October 1918", which reads " "Trooper T.H.Vayro of the 1/1 Nottinghamshire Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, 14th Cavalry Brigade 5th Cav. Div. served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. This book was reputedly given to Thomas by his commanding officer, presumably the "master of the big house". Normally Thomas Henry would have probably joined a Yorkshire Regiment, with his roots in Uredale but he must have acted on his master's advice and the chance to join a more prestigious regiment.

   So I needed to re-focus and search for details of Thomas Henry's parents.

John Vayro and Martha Anne Rose

   Firstly to recap, from the 1891 and 1901 Census Returns, evidence suggests that Thomas Henry Vayro was born 1890 in West Tanfield North Yorkshire, (1891C) and his parents were John and Martha Vayro. His father John was in turn born at Clifton Lodge, (on the Clifton Castle Estate in Uredale) so is it was highly likely that he was the son of Thomas Vayro and Sarah Todd and baptised 16/02/1863. Basic calculations could show that John was born in 1863 and Martha in 1868.

   Interestingly it was a colleague that spotted an 1871 census entry with a John Vayro shown aged 8, with his brother William aged10, and they are living with their paternal grandparents on their mother's side, namely William and Dorothy Todd. Although he was not living with his parents, little snippets of information led me in a certain direction. William and Dorothy's daughter Sarah Todd had married Thomas Vayro circa 1860 and John and his brother William are the first two of their 13 children. Fortunately I already had a wealth of information on that family but more importantly this took the ancestry back one more generation. I was able to find John on 1891, 1901, and 1911 census sheets with his wife Martha Anne.

   On the last of these John and Martha Anne have a grandson James Henry with them. I have no proof but the grandson may well be an illegitimate son of one of their daughters Christiana and Sarah who had already left the family home. By then Thomas was in Warwickshire.

   To tie up another loose end and possibly locate the parents of Martha Ann Rose, I had a look on and on the 1871 Census for Thirsk in Yorkshire I found a John Rose aged 24, (born Pickhill), Sarah Ann Rose aged 24, Martha Rose aged 3 (born 1868/69) and Esther Rose aged 1.

   The Martha shown is probably Martha Anne Rose and the fact that Pickhill was mentioned clinched the deal, because it is possible that Thomas Henry was born in his grandparent's house in Pickhill. Previously it has been shown that John Vayro and Martha Anne Vayro (nee Rose) had married in 1884 and were at the Hind's Cottage in West Tanfield in the 1891 Census with children Sarah, Christiana and Thomas Henry.

   There were two other clues in the names of John and Martha's daughters, Sarah and Christiana. It is often the case that parents pass on a particular Christian name to the next generation. In this case I thought that the Sarah was probably sourced from John's mother. And it turns out that the only Christiana (May Hudson) I have on my database is the wife of a William Vayro married in Thornton Watlass in 1936, a grandson of a Thomas Vayro and Sarah Todd.

Thomas Vayro and Sarah Todd

   There was a marriage between Thomas Vayro and Sarah Todd registered in the Northallerton area in 1959 (CRO reference entry 9D page 882 line 3)  This particular Thomas Vayro (the Grandfather of Thomas Henry) was baptised 13 th Dec 1835, at East Witton, was the son of Richard Vayro and Mary Bussfield and died aged 55 and was buried July 23rd 1892 at Thornton Watlass. Sarah Todd was born in 1836 and was buried aged 71 on 23 rd April 1907.

   Thomas and Sarah are known to have baptised 13 children at Thornton Watlass and apart from William their first born in 1861 at Thirn, all the others were born at Clifton Lodge in lower Wensleydale in quick succession. Although it is only John born 1863 that I was concerned with, they had 8 daughters and 3 more sons.  Having examined the actual Parish Register it is possible that they had two sets of twins, with two boys baptised together in 1867 and two girls baptised together in 1871. Unfortunately there are no notes in the margins of these entries to suggest they were twins and nor are their dates of births recorded.

   The last of their sons James was born in 1880, joined the Northumberland Fusiliers 27 th Battalion Irish (Reg. number 48227), and went off to fight in WW1 and died in the Western European Theatre of War on April 17 th. 1917. There is a small memorial for James in Thornton Watlass, but he is buried at the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais in France.

   Whereas I have not been able to locate Sarah Todd's birth details but on the 1851 Census for Horsforth, Askwith there were a William Todd aged 51 (born 1800) and a Sarah Todd aged 45 (born 1806) and their daughter Sarah A Todd aged 12 (born circa 1839).  If these are her parents they are still at Askwith on the 1861 Census, William Todd age 61 and Sarah Todd age 56. And if this is the same Sarah Todd then she would have been 20 years old when she married Thomas Vayro, and the mother of both the William Vayro and John Vayro who happened to be living in Walworth with their Uncle and Aunt.

Belper in Derbyshire Connection

   As every researcher knows it is worth investigating the facts and evidence, to separate these from the guesswork and storytelling. It is like detective work leading to our past generations. However on this occasion I was working on a particular branch of the family that were completely new, so I decided I needed to rely on the information supplied by my contacts in the direct family. I was already convinced that there was a direct line back to my own ancestors and a particular part of the country in the distant past. More importantly their roots, like mine lay in the villages of Wensleydale.

   When I started looking into the ancestors of my two contacts they gave me basic information that their Great Grandfather was a Thomas H Vayro, who had three sons, Percy, Norman and Dennis. Several records of births and marriages were found on for Belper that contained familiar names and were passed on by a colleague from the Guild. The most important were the marriage in 1914 of Thomas H Vayro and Edith A/E Short (Q3 7b 1347) from the CRO, and basic registration details for their three sons.

Percy James Thomas Vayro

   Percy James Thomas Vayro was the eldest of the three brothers, first generation born 1917 in Belper Derbyshire (Q3 7b 995) In 1944 he had married Vera Milnes (Q1 7b 1991) and they had two boys, Brian and Keith Vayro.  It is thought that Percy used one of his middle names during his time in the army. He was awarded his Member of the British Empire Medal for work he did whilst working for the Central Government Control in Germany. The family have a wonderful photographic record of his work in Germany at the end of the Second World War, but no details whatsoever of what he actually received his award for.

   A supplement of the London Gazette 1st January 1946 carried a list of New Year's Honours, and among them was Warrant Officer Class 1 (acting) Percy James Thomas Vayro number S/1888023 of the Royal Army Service Corps. The local press had a heading "Milford man honoured" and added the extra information that the MBE had been awarded in the Military Division.  It reported that Percy had been employed in Derbyshire County Surveyor's Department since 1939. Also that he was the chief clerk of the Legal Division Control Commission for Germany and had spent several months there in 1944. So although it can never be proved his work may have been secret and certainly high status.

  Percy passed away in 1970 and Vera in 1995. He is known to have written a book on "The Strutt Family: Belper's Benefactors", but it was only published posthumously in October 1995, by his son Brian as a tribute to both his parents.

Percy James Thomas Vayro MBE

Stoker-mechanic Norman Vayro aged 20

Norman Vayro

    Norman was the youngest of the three sons born in 1931 (Q4 7b 930), and in 1953 he married June Varney (Q3 3a 139) and they had two children, Celia Anne and Andrew N Vayro. The Derby Evening Telegraph of Friday September 5 th 1952 carried a feature "Belper Shipmates Back From the East" and photograph of two crewmen of the cruiser H M S Ceylon which had been patrolling Korean waters and had taken part in bombardments of enemy onshore batteries and installations.

   The two seamen named were Stoker-mechanic Norman Vayro aged 20 youngest son of Mr and Mrs T H Vayro, and Stoker Peter Billyeald, enjoying home leave. Both had apparently been pupils of the Belper Pottery School, and Norman had gone on to the Herbert Strutt Grammar School in Belper. Presumably the same H Strutt that Percy had written about and later to be published.

   The newspaper item mentioned that Norman was a Portsmouth based rating and his 21 st birthday was later that week.   Norman had married June Varney in August 1953 after another trip to Korea.  Before joining the Royal Navy Norman had worked as a mechanic at Spencer's Garage in Strutt Street, Belper.

Dennis John Vayro

    Dennis John  Vayro was the middle brother of the three sons born in 1924 (Q2 7b 1151) to Thomas Henry and Edith Short.  He married a Dorothy Winson (Dolly) in Belper Derbyshire (Q1) in 1943, and they had three children, David J, Hilary and Philip.

   There are unusual circumstances surrounding Dennis, and some of the family have reported that he may have gone into witness protection, may have changed his name and was always a bit of a character. In my time researching the Vayro name I have found quite a few relatively harmless "Black Sheep" and perhaps he was another.

   Dennis had worked as a taxi driver for a local cab company and I can only suggest that suddenly the family had the equivalent of a torpedo exploding in their midst, tearing their world apart.  Dennis simply walked out one morning suggesting he was going to work, and was never seen again. He just disappeared. Quite unusual circumstances to "lose" a member of close family, and despite Police enquiries being made at the time, he simply "went off the radar".

   Attempts have been made at intervals to try to locate him but nothing was ever found. So perhaps it is best to leave this as an unsolved mystery in the Vayro Ancestry, particularly for those who moved to the Derbyshire area just before WW1. However their story must end there, even though there are two more generations that could be identified.

Finally I can only thank those colleagues who searched for and passed on the evidence for the earlier generations. But  I would also like to thank Patricia Anne Vayro, Samantha Vayro Redfern, Karen Vayro and Anna Raynham for their contributions of  more recent facts and information, particularly the two photographs.

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