2. The Hildick Family

As mentioned earlier, the story starts (so far) in the direct male line in the mid 1500’s.

Robert Hildyke or Hildike was born in Walsall in around 1560. No record of his parents have been discovered so far and there are no records as yet of any siblings. There are other records of Hildykes and Hildikes in and around Walsall around this date but as yet no links have been made, although there is some evidence of a brother to Robert which remains to be investigated. According to family sources, the original “Hildikes” were of Dutch origin and were tube manafactures in Erduington, Birmingham but this has not been verified. Another “rumour” has it that the family name was Van Hyledicke but again has been so far impossible to pinpoint.


In a recently obtained copy of a letter that Mona Hildick-Smith (b 1892) wrote in 1965 to Kit and Pete Hildick-Smith in the USA she says:


  “ I   am afraid I don’t know the date when the 4 Hildick brothers came to this country as political refugees. But 2 settled in Sheffield and 2 in Walsall. They were steel manafacturers.”


As has been mentioned earlier they were more than likely to have been Protestants (Hugenots) from the Low Countries, most likely The Netherlands, as many were forced to flee from religious and political persecution in the mid to late 1500’s but as yet I have not traced their origins, what the 4 brothers were called and have found no trace of the early Sheffield connections although there were certainly Hildicks in this area in the late 1800’s.

The connection of the family to the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury has yet to be more fully investigated. 


The first definite date is Roberts wedding to Joice Walker at St Mathews Church, Walsall on 9/7/1581.

Only one offspring has so far been traced.

Thomas                   b c 1596

  He was christened at St Mathews Church in Walsall although no definitive date has yet been found.

  Thomas Hildike married   Jone (or Joan) Curtice on 5/8/1621 at St Mathews, Walsall.

  They had one son:

  Thomas                       b 1631

  It appears that Thomas   married someone called Frances but her maiden name is as yet unknown, nor the place and date of the ceremony. It is known that it was in Walsall.

They had one son, born in Walsall,although I suspect there were others:

  Thomas                       b1670

  Thomas was a smith and edge tool maker and worked at Coal Pool, Walsall.

  I found the following recently:

  “A water-mill called Coal Pool mill was leased in 1692 by Margery and Isabel Horton to Thomas Hildick (our Thomas b 1670) the younger, a Walsall whitesmith. (Footnote 49) It was presumably the forge or mill which in the later 18th century stood on a stream just south of the Wyrley and Essington Canal in the triangle formed by the canal, Harden Road, and Goscote Lane. (Footnote 50) A Robert Hildick had a mill, evidently at Coal Pool, in 1793. (Footnote 51) Coal Pool mill may still have been worked in 1834, when Henry Hildick, an edge-tool manufacturer, was living at Coal Pool. (Footnote 52) It had gone out of use by 1843; (Footnote 53) what may have been the remains of the millpool were visible in the earlier 1880s but had disappeared by 1901. (Footnote 54)”

From: 'Walsall: Economic history', A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume XVII: Offlow hundred (part) (1976), pp. 180-208. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=36193. Date accessed: 01 June 2005. The footnotes can be seen at the above site but refer only to source documents, mostly town meeting minutes.


 Thomas married Mary Cowper (b 1665 in Walsall) on 01/05/1688 in Walsall. They had 9 children, all were christened at St Mathews Church:

Samuel b1689   c 7/7/1689           died young

Thomas                       b1691   c 26/11/1691     d 1723

Mary                               b1693   c 30/1/1693         married John Creage 4/5/1718. Mary died before 1738.

Robert                           b1695   c 9/3/1695             died young

John                                 b1698   c   5/1698

Robert                         b1698   c 24/5/1698         d 1737

Hannah b1700   c9/10/1700

Moses                           b1702   c20/2/1702

Aaron*                         b1705   c 16/5/1705


One of the main offshoot branches of the family occurs here and Aaron* will be followed here for a while as one of his descendants married back as a cousin into the extended family of Thomas (1665) offspring.


*Aaron (1705) married Martha (maiden name unknown). 


They had 8 children but although I have details of all of them I will follow only one, their eldest son Thomas b 1728 in Rushall.

He married Mary Tennant in 1755 at St Mathews Church in Walsall.

Thomas 1728 also had a son Thomas b1758. This Thomas married Ann Worallo and their son Aaron b1795 married the Elizabeth Dukes featured below, where we get a hint of the Hildike origins and of the origins of family firm Aaron Hildick Ltd.


Aaron Hildick Ltd was based in Sheffield, the family had moved there from Walsall after Aarons marriage to Elizabeth Dukes. He founded the family firm together with his nephew Robert (1853), the son of Sarah Hildick who was Aaron and Elizabeth Hildicks eldest child.


Robert took over the firm when Aaron died in the late 1800’s although I have not yet found his date of death. The firm seems to have passed down this line through Roberts family, principally to Ernest Thornton, husband of his daughter Beatrice. Ernest died in 1940 and was sold to another company at the end of WW2. The firm produced very high quality blades for woodworking under the brand name “Diamic”, a name which exists today. The company was allied to Henry Taylor Ltd in 1948 and in 1974 the company became Henry Taylor Ltd (proprietor Aaron Hildick). In 1974 it became Henry Taylor (Tools) Ltd incorporating Aaron Hildick. The company is still in business, situated on Lowther Street in Sheffield and is one of the few firms still producing tools which largely depend upon the manual skills of the workforce.


Aarons wife Elizabeth Dukes was born in Pelsall, Staffordshire in 1797 and when she reached her century in 1897 an article was published in the Walsall Advertiser celebrating this momentous event. The article is not fully transcribed here but crucially it goes into the origins of her husband Aarons family name. The information must have come from the lady herself or one of her children. It reads:


“For nearly two centuries the Hildicks’ had been stationed there (Coal Pool, Walsall) in that trade (edge tool making), carrying their goods to Birmingham and neighbouring fairs on packhorses. They were a family supposed to have been driven from the Netherlands in 1570, by religious persecution and settled at Sheffield by the aid of George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. From Sheffield they took the trade to Coal Pool. Being strong Protestants all the members of the family took biblical names and were closely associated with the Rushall parish in all church work and as the centenarian says” At least, they were always Singers and Ringers”. From the founder of the Coal Pool works, who spelt his name in the Dutch style, Hildyke, all the Walsall Hildicks’ are descended”


She lived to be 101. The following has been found recently and I reproduce it here as it gives an insight to the times and hints at the origins of the Hildicks in Sheffield. It comes from http://uk.geocities.com/suelote@btinternet.com/id88.htm 

A Remarkable Centenarian:    Elizabeth HILDICK nee DUKES (1797-1899).

The following Obituary of a remarkable native of Pelsall, Staffordshire was brought to my attention by Mr Brian Hildick, (a descendant of the HILDICK's of Rushall), who in turn had obtained the information from Sheffield Archives.

Elizabeth HILDICK nee DUKES was born in Pelsall, Staffordshire 13 December 1797 and was baptised at St Michael, Pelsall on the 6 January 1798 the daughter of John & Sarah DUCKES (sic). On the 29th December 1825 Elizabeth married Aaron HILDICK at St Michael, Rushall. Destined to live to the great age of 101 (just 6 weeks short of her 102nd birthday), she could recall many events from her youth, which was spent in Staffordshire, and many of these were recorded in the following Obituary.


Sheffield Telegraph - 22 October 1899.






Our readers will remember that on December 14th 1897, we announced that Mrs. Elizabeth HILDICK, who was then living at Crabtree, had completed her 100th year. A year later we recorded the celebration of the old lady's 101st birthday, when she was in capital health and spirit. It now becomes our duty to record Mrs Hildick's decease, which took place on Wednesday evening at Melrose Road, Pitsmoor, at the age of nearly 102. During the last months the old lady enjoyed good health and gave very few signs of decay. On Wednesday morning her son, Mr Aaron Hildick of Bridge Street, thought she was not quite as well as usual and called a doctor, who said there seemed to be nothing amiss, and he promised to call again in a few days. Towards evening Mrs Hildick had tea, and at six o'clock went to bed. At length a slight change was noticed, and the end came --------.  the venerable old lady passing peacefully away in the presence of her family. She leaves a son and three daughters, the oldest being 73, many grandchildren and some great grandchildren.


Mrs Hildick was born at Pelsall, Staffordshire on December 13th 1797. her earliest recollection was of being held up in her grandfather's arms, when four or five years of age, to see a man flogged tied to the rear of a cart in Walsall Market Place. She remembered the crowd expressing their approbation by groans and shouts. After leaving school, she went to live with her uncle at Tamworth and she used to speak with pride of how the first Sir Robert Peel held open the gate of one of her uncle's fields while she drove the cows through. At Sir Robert's invitation she accepted service at Drayton Manor. She remembered the Parliamentary contests between him and Sir Charles Townsend and used to tell how the mob pulled up the stones from the streets to riot with. She also saw the soldiers go down Tamworth Canal in boats for Waterloo. The second Sir Robert Peel, who became Prime Minister, she saw little of, as he had just entered Parliament, and was winning his Parliamentary spurs. While with the Peel family she saw London for the first time, but her recollections were confined to Piccadilly and St James' Park, and of seeing 'Tom and Jerry' played, which was then very popular. In 1825 she married Aaron Hildick of Coalpool, Staffordshire, whose family had been edge tool manufacturers there for a century and a half, having taken the trade from Sheffield. (Note: This intimates that the Hildicks had been in Sheffield much earlier than at first thought although no records have been found pre 1750. This may relate to the original 4 Hildick brothers mentioned earlier.) By this marriage she had four children, all of whom are living. She always enjoyed good health and had been free from serious illness, but a few years ago she suffered much from influenza, but resolutely refused all medicine, as she had taken none during her life. At 90 years of age she received her second sight, and was able to sew, and also to read the smallest print, without aid of spectacles.


Writing last December on Mrs Hildick's 101st birthday, one of our representatives stated that with the exception of a slight deafness, which has overtaken her during the last year or two, Mrs Hildick has the use of all her faculties, and these she utilizes to the fullest extent. Her eyesight is better than enjoyed by some persons eighty years her junior, and as a proof, she proudly shows to visitors different shawls she has knitted without the aid of spectacles only a few months ago, and delicate book-marks which she has clipped into pretty shapes with scissors. A short time ago she made a large patch-work bed quilt, which is a model of neatness and skill. if her physical strength permitted she would still  ------- worker, for she detests idleness. In her younger days she was full of energy, not selfish energy, but energy which was exercised for the benefit of all who sought her assistance, and the hard work which she accomplished, instead of wearing her out seems to have had the reverse effect and to have given her a store of strength to keep her going in her old age. Even now she hastens to be of service in the house, but her relatives not daring to trust her necessarily feeble hands with work of any magnitude, humour her in small ways and allow her to perform unimportant duties, the accomplishment of which afford the centenarian the greatest pleasure. That she has full possession of her senses is evident when she plays a game at cards, a pastime, by the way, to which she is particularly attached, but woe to her opponent or partner who makes a bad lead or plays the wrong card for Mrs Hildick is all quickness and detects the smallest breach of the rules of the game.


For a centenarian Mrs Hildick is an early riser. half-past eight o'clock each morning sees her dressed and downstairs, and she retires at night promptly at ten o'clock. Her habits are extremely systematic, and she is the very essence of regularity. To these two qualities those who know her well attribute her longevity. She has always been very temperate in all things, and has not, like many other old ladies, taken either to the habit of smoking or snuff taking. She still writes a legible hand, and can read without employing glasses. Of late she has not walked out so frequently as before. When she celebrated her centenary a year ago she rode in the 'bus' as far as Norwood Road, and then proceeded on foot to Crabtree, where one of her relatives resides, and this walk she often undertook. Now, however when she wishes to pay visits cabs are requisitioned and yesterday, instead of going abroad to receive congratulations, she remained at home and saw visitors. She is extremely fond of children and nothing delights her more than to see them about her.




Published with the kind permission of Mr Brian Hildick.



Pat Mangwana who descends from this branch of the family has obtained a photo album with pictures of Elizabeth Hildick and her family.


Elizabeth Hildick (nee Dukes) c 1898


                                                Aaron and Sarah (Bayley)Hildick

I have many more details of this branch of the family coutesy of Pat Mangwana and the Richardson family and intend to write all this up in due course.


Back to the main line of our family:


Thomas Hildike died in early 1738.

In his will* of that date he left 4 houses in Woodend Lane, Walsall and a meadow in Rushall. The total inventory amounted to £178.1s 0d and his estate was split between his remaining children. No mention is made of his wife, Mary, so she presumably predeceased him. (* The will information supplied by Brian Hildick.)

Nothing is known of Roberts childhood but he is recorded as having inherited his fathers business as a smith and edge tool maker at Coalpool, Walsall..

On 23rd June 1717 he married Dorothy Latchford, also from Walsall, at St Matthew's Church in Walsall. They had a large family, common in those days, 6 boys and 3 girls:

  Thomas*                   b1718                           c 15/4/1718         Tettenhall, Staffs

William                         b1719                           c   16/1/1720       Tettenhall

Sarah                           b1721                           c 26/1/1720         Tettenhall

Robert                           b1723                           c   4/8/1723                        

John                                 b1726                           c 17/4/1723                                                     d 1738

Moses                           b1728                           c 30/7/1728                          

Joseph                         b1732                           c 25/1/1732                      

Cordelia                     b1733                           c 26/12/1733                  

Hannah                         b1736                         c 28/12/1723                    

All of the children were christened in Tettenhall, Staffordshire, a small town some 5 miles from Walsall, so the family had obviously moved there sometime after the marriage.

Robert Hildike died in 1737.

(* The eldest son Thomas had a son Joseph. His son Moses b1778 was the first Hildick to live in Lapworth, as is more fully described later.)

Up until now all records show the name Hildike but with the next generation the name is shown as Hildick.


Joseph Hildick, as he is next recorded, married Elizabeth Spencer on 3rd September 1757 in Kingsbury, Warwickshire.

(This is a very large parish in area, and the village stretches along the Coventry to Tamworth road. There were many gravel pits in the area. The church has a Norman nave. Kingsbury mill is mentioned in Domesday Book; it became a gun-barrel mill in the early 19th century, then a saw mill, paper mill and leather mill. Hamlets, Hurley, Wood End, Picadilly, Bodymoor Heath, Hemlingford Green, Wheatley, Cliff.)

It is likely that Elizabeth came from there as it was the custom for brides to be wed in their home town. They set up home here as all their 3 children were christened there. Joseph is recorded in 1757 as a grinder but by 1783 had become a farmer at Kingsbury.

Of the three children , one, a son, died in infancy.

Joseph                           b 1759                       c 24/2/1759         d 18/1/1761   (d=died)     Kingsbury

Joseph                           b 1765                         c 18/12/1765     Kingsbury

Francis                       b 1767                         c 30/11/1767     Kingsbury

  Francis Hildick was married to Martha Hildick (b1772) on 11/4/1792 at St Matthew's Church, Walsall.

[Martha was a cousin of Francis, her family being   based at Rushall, Staffordshire. She was christened on 9/11/1760 at Rushall, at the parish church. Her father was John Hildick and her grandfather Aaron was brother to Robert (1698). There has been some doubt about this link but the only other Martha Hildick b 1760 possible, daughter of Thomas Hildick b 1728, and also son of Aaron 1705, has been disproved by the discovery of her marriage to a William Jackson in 1784. My thanks to Brian Hildick for this link and to Pat Mangwana for the  family information on another Martha b 1783 who could not have married either due to her age.]

All of Francis and Martha's children were christened at Rushall so they obviously lived there. Francis was recorded as being a retired file manufacturer in Whites Trade Directory of 1834 when he was 67.

Their 10 children were:

John                                                       b1792                           c 25/11/1792

Thomas*                                                b1794                           c 28/12/1792

Moore                                                    b15/9/1796         c 19/11/1797 Rushall

Martha                                                    b1798                           c 12/8/1798

Joseph*****                                           b1800                           c   20/7/1800

William**                                               b1802                           c 13/10/1802

Benjamin                                                 b1805                           c 28/4/1805

Francis Spencer***                                 b 23/11/1807     c 20/12/07           d 1873

Lucy                                                        b1810                           c 8/2/1810

Robert ****                                            b1812                           c 25/10/1812

Of these children, details of some have included below.

Thomas* married Eleanor Healey and had 8 children. He became a furniture manufacturer. One of his children, Alfred Healey Hildick, emigrated to the USA and married Julie Macey in Manhattan in 1868. He is recorded in the US Census of 1880 as being a hardware importer and lived with his wife in Englewood, Bergen, NY. It is likely that Hildicks remain in NY although no further research has yet been carried out.

[Peter Hildick-Smith in New York reports: “In the US, there was a brand of "Apple Jack" (apple brandy) being distilled in New Jersey as recently as the 1970's, known as Hildick's Apple Jack, we used to have a bottle of it, now lost, don't believe they are in business. There was also a Hildick working at GE when I was an   SVP   there, but he did not respond to an email query about his family background.]

The Apple Brandy was made by Walter H Hildick Co of 265 Greenwich, New York City, a cider and vinegar manufacturer. (from White-Orrs Trade Directory of NYC 1930). Walter was probably the son of Francis Finch Hildick whose father was Thomas*. I have an (empty) bottle of Hildicks Apple Brandy.

Recently I have had contact with Patricia Maxson, an MD from Sturbridge, MA. She is the daughter of Walter E Hildick b1906 who is about to celebrate his 101st birthday. This dynasty of Hildicks derive from Francis Finch Hildick b1837, son of the above mentioned Thomas* b1794. Francis Finch had 5 children, 3 of whom teamed up and left for America in the late 19thC. These were:
Francis James Hildick               b1868
Thomas Henry Hildick                b1871
Walter Heeley Hildick                  b1876

(The two girls, making up the 5 were Eleanor b1879 and Clara b1880, neither are recorded as having been to the USA), 

Francis James initially settled in Newark,NJ, later moving to Leominster and Sterling, MA to establish the orchards that supplied his brothers Thomas and Walter with the produce which went into the brandy and cider business which was established in NewYork.

 Patricia Maxson writes: 

“The two brothers (Walter and Francis) wrote each other every day, always having a piece of paper in the typewriter headed to each other. I have visited with my great uncle in the Battery section of New York as a child. He (Walter) was a very sophisticated man and my dad remembers having frog’s legs while out dining with him in NYC”
She continues:
My Dad often mentions that my granddad designed and made every single machine in the apple cider mill. My grandfather was well known for innovation in the Central Mass community of Sterling, where he lived for many years. He had the first radio, first telephone, and the first car in the area. People came from miles aroundto see these new things” 

Francis James married Elizabeth Bexon and they had 4 children. 

Francis George             1892-1970
Eleanor                         1894-1960
Dorothy                        1896-1988
Walter Edmund            1906 

Walter is Patricias father by his marriage to Ann Follin and he is still going strong at nearly 101, a retired chemist and scientist.  

Patricia says of her father: 

My dad was Vice President of the Textron Corporation when I was a  small child.  During WW2 he worked on parachute lines. One of my first toys was a parachute teddy bear compliments of Dad.  His degree is from MIT in 1928 in chemical engineering. I feel there is a strong 3D ability going through the family and that is well used in engineering and medicine.  My dad was so good at 3D thinking he was used to standardize a famous aptitude test called the Wiggly Block invented by Johnson O'Connor.  This is the essential  aptitude for both engineering and medicine.  I see it going from him to me to my daughter Kate.  I think his Dad Francis J. had it as well.

Carol Button from Burlington, Vermont has kindly supplied much more information relating to the brothers. She is the great granddaughter of Walter Heeley Hildick (1876) and her father William and uncle Alan (sons of Walter H Hildick) finally sold off the company in the 1980’s.
She writes:
Walter H. Hildick had a son Walter H. Hildick, Jr., who is my grandfather.  Hildick Brandy evolved into Sterling Cider, Co. (owned/run by my grandfather in Sterling, MA):


A Brief History of the Cider Mill

The Cider Mill, erected in 1898, began doing business as The Sterling Cider Co., Inc. in 1906.

From 1906 to the 1970's, surviving a fire in 1928 and a few different owners, the mill ran as a production site for products such as Apple Cider, Cider Vinegar, Apple Juice and Sparkling Cider.

During the late 1970's to the early 1980's the mill sat idle and became somewhat derelict.

In the mid 1980's the Sterling Mill Works was established as a gallery, artist studio haven and craft/candle shop.

Early in the 2000's the mill was waning and was sold to its next and present owner. At this time the Cider Mill Arts and Antiques Building came to be.

Now just known as the Cider Mill, the building has experienced a rebirth. Phoenix-like, it is once again a bustle of activity and prosperity, taking its place as a vital cog in the history and economy of the region.




 My grandfather ended up with Alzheimer’s disease and eventually could no longer run the company.  My father (William Kenneth Hildick) and his brother (Alan Hildick) decided to sell the company rather than take it over in the 80’s.  When the new owners took over they tried to make some changes – like the taste of the apple juice, bottling design, etc., which didn’t work out so well for them.  They later dissolved the company.  Too bad...the apple juice was so good!  

I am particularly interested in the brandy side of things as well.  I have some articles I will forward.  Interesting...the way I came across your site was when I was trying to do a little more research on it this past weekend.  There are 4 articles that I found on Time Magazine’s website re. Distilled Liquors Corp. - Hildick Brandy (which was on the New York “Curb” Exchange).  Sounds like his involvement in the stock was quite a disaster!  What a story...  From what I was told by my father, etc. prohibition was the problem for the Brandy business.  Love those ads!”

 The financial dealings are a bit of a mystery but relate to Distilled Liquors Corp, which bought the Hildick and cider plants in the mid 1930’s. I am uncertain as to whether they bought the whole lot or just created a public company. Whatever it was a man called Richard Whitney who invested heavily in the stock despite having no capital of his own and eventually was made bancrupt and was jailed for his financial mistakes. In any event the company carried on.
She also forwarded an article relating to her great grandfather which can be seen by going to the link shown here.It was published in “The Glass Container” in December 1922.
The article does give a flavour of the man both as a salesman and entrepreneur.

One of Thomas* b1794s other children was Edmund Septimus Hildick 1845-1900. He became a prosperous saddle merchant in Walsall and served with distinction as a town councilor at around the same time as John Hildick, his cousin. His son Edmund Vernon Hildick b1884 helped in the family business and his son Edmund Wallace Hildick (1925-2001) emigrated to the USA and became a well-known author of mostly childrens fiction. Greta Morley (nee Hildick) has given me a copy of a letter she received from E W Hildick after her son Giles had read one of his books. In it he gives a few details about the family, in particular his Grandfather Edmund Septimus Hildick. He also refers to his book “A Cat Called Amnesia”. Apparently the cat in question was a stray who adopted his family when they were living near Guildford. I have so far been unable to find out when he went to America but a record of his death gives his nationality as “Naturalised US Citizen” although he died in London in 2001. As yet I have been unable to find any photos of him or his family.
William** became licensee of the Sir John Falstaff pub in Warwick.One of his sons was Francis Hildick b1855. He married in 1875 Alice Beddoe. The Beddoe family were closely related through her mother to the Pitt family. This was a very well known manafacturing family of blacksmiths and engineers. I have much more on this side of the family from Robert Pitt who has a well researched and comprehensive family tree on Ancestry.com and has kindly passed on details to me. At present I have not fully reviewed these data but will do so in due course. One of Alice Beddoes sisters also married into the Hildick family. She, Margaret Elizabeth Beddoe, married Joseph Francis Hildick*****, cousin to Francis b1855. I assume that the Beddoe and Hildick families became aquainted through their business dealings, both being prominent in the Birmingham area at that time.

Francis Spencer*** died at Lapworth in disturbing circumstances, this is detailed later.

Robert**** moved to America as well. His landing is recorded at the following site: http://castlegarden.org/. He is recorded as a farmer, b 1812/13, who arrived there on board Virginian on 19/6/1834. I have as yet not tracked him further but it appears as if he was the first to make the trip, with others from his family following.


Moore Hildick became a file and iron square manufacturer, like his father, and conducted business in Wolverhampton Road, Walsall (Whites Trade Directory of Warwickshire 1834).

 However, Mona Hildick-Smiths's letter says:

“ My Great Grandfather (Moore) Hildick had a large flour mill and he wanted my Grandfather John to take it over- but the flour upset my grandfathers chest so an iron and steel tube works was started for him”

Moore married Sarah Wood on 9/8/1821 at St Matthew's, Walsall . They lived in Walsall, most likely in Wolverhampton Road,   and had 6 (or 7) children.

 Benjamin                       b1822                           c 8/5/1822

Joseph Moore                b1823                           c 15/10/1823

John                               b1825                           c 31/3/1825

Sarah                             b1826                           c   1/1/1827

Moore*                         b1828                           c 4/6/1828

Elizabeth                        b1830                           c 24/3/1830

Martha                           b1841   (This not proven but comes from a source through Genesreunited.)

  All the children were christened at St Matthew's Church, Walsall. The two eldest boys obviously inherited the file manufacturers as John became a grocer. This is at odds with the information in Monas letter who says he was in the iron and steel tube business.

The following has again been found recently and refers to the iron businesses in Walsall in the 19C:

  “Several other works were set up in the mid 19th century. In 1855 Edward Russell opened the large Alma Tube Works on land leased from Lord Bradford at the corner of Rollingmill and Wharf Streets. (Footnote 65) By 1860 it had passed to John Russell & Co. of Wednesbury. (Footnote 66) The company continued to occupy the works until 1929 when Stewarts & Lloyds took over Russells and closed it. (Footnote 67) In 1860 another firm, Brown & Chesterton, was making tubes in Station Street, but by 1873 it was concentrating on gasfittings and chandeliers. (Footnote 68) Three more works opened in the 1870s. (Footnote 69) George Gill, manager of the Alma works in 1872, and a Mr. Hildick had by 1876 established the Walsall Tube Works on the north side of the Cyclops Ironworks in Pleck Road. (Footnote 70) Gill left the partnership c. 1879 and the firm became Hildick, Mills & Hildick. (Footnote 71) The style changed to Hildick & Hildick in 1884. (Footnote 72) About 1876 A. C. and J. G. Russell, trading as Russell Bros., opened the Bradford Tube Works in Upper Brook Street. (Footnote 73) The firm became Russell Bros. (Walsall) Ltd. at some time between 1917 and 1920. (Footnote 74) About 1880 George Gill had joined with T. A. Russell to establish the Cyclops Tube Works on that part of the Cyclops Ironworks site flanking Wharf Street. (Footnote 75) The firm became Gill & Russell Ltd. in 1911. (Footnote 76)”

From: 'Walsall: Economic history', A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume XVII: Offlow hundred (part) (1976), pp. 180-208. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=36193. Date accessed: 01 June 2005. Notes relate to source documents, mostly meeting minutes and can be seen at the web site.

  It should be noted that I have found references to Hildick and Hildick trading in the Birmingham area up to the mid 1940’s and a recent contact with Greta Morley (nee Hildick) whose father Howard, a son of John Hildick (1857), ran the company until its demise in the 1950s, has clarified some details..

  Moore* is noted in Jones Directory of 1865 as a Miller and Baker with premises at 196, Stafford Street, Walsall, the flour obviously did not upset him as much as brother John.

  I have also found reference to Hildick and Hildick making and operating canal boats in the late 1800’s.

Monas letter continues:

  “ Before he (John) went into the works-as he hadn’t been well he was sent to The Isle of Man. He was given a letter of introduction to Joseph Torrance, where he met my grandmother, Jessie Isabella Torrance.” The letter also includes details of the Torrance family:

  “Great Grandfather Torrance was born in Hamilton near Glasgow-I don’t know anything about his wife- he wanted to go to London-he set sail and going down the West coast of England his boat was becalmed by the Isle of   Man-he went ashore and was so taken with the place that he settled in Douglas. After he had looked round for a while he decided to import coal from Liverpool to the island. That is what he did   and he imported all the coal that was used on the island by sailing ship. He sold out when the steam ships where (sic) invented. I don’t know how many sons and daughters he had – but one son was a captain in the merchant navy and he was always on an oil tanker.”

John Hildick married Jessie Isabella Torrance in Douglas, Isle of Man on 8/9/1852. It is recorded as a Non Conformist marriage so no details of exactly where have yet been obtained or who from the family attended. She was born in 1821 at Douglas, Isle of Man, recorded as one of 5 daughters of Gavin Torrance and Christian Allen.

I have done a little more research into the Torrance family, who became well known on the Isle of Man in the 19th C. Joseph Torrance, as mentioned in Monas letter above was in fact Jessies brother. How John Hildick managed to get a letter of introduction to the family remains unknown but it must have been some kind of business contact.

Gavin Torrance was born in Hamilton, Scotland in about 1795. I have not found a definitive date for his birth, the date has been estimated from his given age at the time of the 1841 Isle of Man census. What is sure is that he married Christian Allen (b c1791) in Greenock on 8/10/1808.  It is possible that they were en route to London very soon after as their children (with one exception-see later for details) were born on the island. They had  7 or 8 children. The firstborn son Gavin is recorded as being born in Liverpool and the record is not very sound. If correct Gavin and his wife were there before settling on the island which does cast some doubt on the story of their becalming off the island. 

Gavin                           b1810              d1917  buried at Bradden, IOM but born in Liverpool?

Gilbert                          b1812              d 1858

Joseph Alexander         b1815              d1894

Jessie Isabella               b1821              d1903              married John Hildick

Christian Ann                b1812              d1852              unmarried

Maria Martha               b1826                                      no other records found

Helen Martha               b1826                                      no other records found

Jane                             b1831              d1904              poss marriage 1858

In 1841 Gavin and his family were living at Duke Street, Douglas and was a self employed General Merchant. Joseph was not at home at that time. By 1851 they had moved to 24, North Quay, Douglas as a general merchant. His son Gilbert was described as a merchant and shipowner, Joseph as a mariner. Later on Joseph was described as a wine merchant. They obviously prospered. I found the following at


The Quay on the Castle side was known as the Castle Quay, and the Quay on the other side as the Irish Quay. There were three warehouses on this quay, two of them having been demolished The remaining building is known as the Umber House, for the following reason. It was used by a Mr. Torrance, a ship's chandler and provision dealer, who carried on his business at the Fleetwood Corner on the North Quay at Douglas, as a store for umber. Mr.Torrance had his works near Ballasalla, at a water-mill near Silverburn, which has now been altered and with additions thereto is used as a residence by Dr. Quine. The umber was periodically shipped in barrels to an English port in Mr. Torrance's schooners - the 'Christianna' and the 'Bessy' - the latter schooner making the journey once a year to Lisbon to load cork for the fishing nets.

And from Thwaites 1863 Commercial directory


To Glasgow, The Christiana and William, every three weeks; G. Torrance & Co., owners
To London, The Bessie, during the summer months; G. Torrance & Co., owners

Also from the first souce comes:  http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/fulltext/pb1925/text.htm

 MR. GAVIN TORRANCE - came from Dumbarton early last century, and laid the foundation of an extensive and flourishing business in Duke Street, which was later transferred to the North Quay. He was identified with the Presbyterian cause from the first and was a prominent Office bearer. His two sons, Gilbert and Joseph, followed his example. The third generation is worthily represented by Captain Allan Torrance (This is Gilberts son, born 1864 and probably the person noted in Idas letter), who retired from a seafaring life some years ago, and at once took a prominent place in the Church of his childhood. The captain is a breezy, typical son of Neptune, warmhearted and openhanded, and a prime favourite with the young people. At present he is in New Zealand, where his youngest brother, Maurice (b 1877), has been for many years. We deeply regret his absence, and assure him of a warm welcome on his return.Gavin was also on the Board of Directors of the Isle of Man Packet Company. His grandson Alan was also associated with the sea. In 1881, at the time of the Census he was a student on board the sail training ship “Conway” which was then moored in Liverpool. According to Idas letter he became a Captain but as yet I have not tracked him further. I have also yet to track one of his other brothers, Maurice, and his connection to New Zealand.However, they were obviously well known on the island in the mid to late 19th Century

Gavin Torrance died in 1858 so it was Gilbert who was the owner of the vessels, perhaps crewed by his brother Joseph. Gilbert married Harriet Lee and had 5 children, Joseph married Elizabeth Ann Taubman but I have not been able to track down any children. Although I have not done much further research yet, there were certainly burials of the Torrance family well into the 1970s although whether any descendants still live there is unknown.

Jessie obviously moved to Walsall soon after as John was successful in building up   the factory and grocery   business and set up a shop   at 60/61, Stafford Street , Walsall as noted in Whites Directory for 1854. Later on he seems also to have inherited the file business either from his brothers or father and he became a respected member of the Walsall community. He served as Mayor of Walsall twice, in 1867 and 1868. They moved to Gospel Oak House, Lapworth, Warwickshire some time in the 1880’s after inheriting it from his cousin Joseph Robert Hildick after 1877. He became a JP (a Justice of the Peace, a sort of lay judge and an important social position), a farmer, land and factory owner. There is a bridge on the nearby canal called Hildick’s Bridge and there is also mention of a steel narrowboat maker named Hildick and Hildick who were a major maker of canal vessels among other things.

  Monas letter adds weight to this:

  “They (John and Isabella) were married and grandfather started the works. They made all sizes of pipes. Grandfather was Mayor of Walsall 3 times.[I can only find records of 2 terms] When there was an epidemic of smallpox in Walsall-there wasn’t an isolation hospital so he got the council to build one- he was on the committee of the hospital and used to visit it quite a lot. The Matron was a very wonderful nurse-she was one of Florence Nightingales nurses-Her name was Sister Dora and there is a very wonderful statue of her on the bridge at Walsall.

Grandfather had a cousin who was a farmer and lived at Gospel Oak Farm-Lapworth-Warwickshire-when he died he left the farm to Grandfather(John). The house was a very old farm house so it was pulled down and rebuilt-it is there today. When he died in 1895 grandmother still lived there until she died 10 years later. Uncle John then went to live there and Aunt Mary and the three boys. When Uncle John and Aunt Mary   had both died   the house and farm were sold. Uncle Gavin died on his 21st birthday from typhoid which he got from the milk-I believe he was a very nice young man- Mother was very fond of him and often talked about him-that is why your father* is called Gavin. (*This is Monas brother Gavin b 1884)”

John and Jessie had four children.

Jessie Elizabeth b1853                          c 28/10/1853   St Mathews Walsall

Sarah                                                   b 8/3/1855           c 4/4/1855   St Mathews

John*                                                     b1857                         inherited Gospel Oak Farm , Lapworth

Gavin                                                   b1860                           d1881  

There is a minor mystery in the 1861 Census. The family were living 61, Stafford Street, Walsall and the family is as above except for the addition of a Joseph Hildick aged 32, shown as a servant and marked as “Not Known British Subject”. Who he was is as yet unknown.                

By the 1881 Census, the family were living in Walsall, at 60/61 Stafford Street, John is recorded as a grocer and his son John as a file manufacturer. Gavin was already dead by March 1881 (from typhoid according to Monas letter) when the census was made. No record of daughter Jessie Elizabeth has been found, she may have died or married and moved away.


John* Hildick (Uncle John in Monas letter) who inherited Gospel Oak from Jessie, was born in 1857 in Walsall.

 He married Mary Jane Howard Smith (b1855). She was Frederick Charles Smiths' sister. (Frederick married Sarah Hildick in 1883). They were married on 18/6/1884 at St Marys Church, Aston, Birmingham.

The officiated vicar was Frederick Smith, Mary Janes uncle. (See The Smith family pages for more details.)A new contact made with Greta (Hildick) Morley, who was Mona Hildick-Smiths god-daughter has now established that they had three boys.  In 1901 they were living 33, Lysways St, Walsall, the three children seemed to have been recorded at their respective boarding schools. John was the owner/manager of the Hildick and Hildick iron tube works.   Mary Jane Howard Hildick is buried in Lapworth churchyard, date as yet unverified. See later for more details of Johns' family descendants.


 Sarah Hildick married Frederick Charles Smith at Lapworth Parish Church on Sept.12th 1883 and their offspring became the Hildick-Smiths.


Lapworth and the Hildicks.

How the Hildick family became involved with Lapworth is worth documenting at this point as the story is related in a book called “A Portrait of Lapworth” written by Joy Woodall and although I have not yet managed to definitely identify the original land owners with those Hildicks I have already described, the tale is an interesting one.

According to transaction records much land in the Lapworth area came into the possession of the Hildick family in 1792. It was then that 2 members of the family bought farms and land as an investment. These were Robert Hildick, a box iron manafacturer from Wolverhampton and Benjamin Hildick, a metal toy maker from Birmingham. The book does not give a relationship between the two. However I cannot track down Robert or Benjamin for sure and it may be that this branch of the family has so far eluded me.

The two bought substantial lands in the Lapworth area including Brome Hall (later described as Broomham Farm) and Gospel Oak Farm. These were initially let out to various tenants and their holdings grew as a result of further purchases and additional “free” allocations of common land under the Enclosure Acts of the early 1800’s where land was allocated to existing land owners pro rata.

The first recorded Hildick to take up residence was one Moses Hildick in 1814 who took over the running of the holdings on behalf of Robert and Benjamin and lived at Brome Hall. Moses b 1778 was the son of Joseph, who was (I think) Roberts brother and therefore Roberts nephew.

In 1824 Moses married a cousin, Martha Hildick (1801). Martha was the daughter of Francis (1767) and Martha Hildick(1760). (You may recall that Francis and Martha were also cousins, it seems that the Hildicks liked to keep it in the family!)

Together they ran the all the Hildick holdings.

In 1824 he married a cousin Martha Hildick, not yet definitely identified, and together they ran the all the Hildick holdings.

They had two children, Benjamin b 1830 d 1867 and Joseph Robert b 1833.

When Joseph Robert was only one, his father Moses was killed in a stagecoach accident in 1834. At about the same time Benjamin Senior (one of the original landowners) also died and in the absence of Robert, who may have been dead by then, Martha apparently took over the running of the family farms. I have a copy of Moses will but all his goods were left to Martha, no other family are mentioned. One of the executors was Joseph Parsons, is this the same man who in 1873 shot and killed another member of the Hildick family? See later for details.

Martha disliked Brome Hall and rented it out in the mid 1840’s and moved to Gospel Oak Farm. The original very old Gospel Oak farmhouse was not to her liking either and this was pulled down and rebuilt although the precise date is unknown.

A recently obtained copy of the 1861 Census lists the following:

Martha Hildick        Widow                              60             Farming 130 acres with 4 men and 1 boy

Benjamin                 Son                                   31

Joseph                     Son                                   27

Elizabeth Hildick      Niece                                14              Born Liverpool

Frances Hildick        Nephew                              6              Born Warwick                          

Henry Parsons          Servant                              33             Born Warwick                           A carter

It seems that Elizabeth and Frances were children of two of Martha Hildicks brothers, respectively Benjamin (b1805) and William (b1802). (Their father and mother Francis and Martha had 10 children.)

 Henry Parsons may have been related to the infamous Joseph.

Also on the same record a widow, Mary Hildick, 59 (nee Lea) was living with her widowed mother Sara Lea, 89, at The Punch Bowl Inn, Lapworth. As yet the family connection is unknown.

Martha Hildick died in June 1867 aged 69. The cause of death was the “dropsy”, a term used for retention of fluids in the body.

Her younger son Benjamin also died on 5th June 1867, the entry of his death in the official records is on the same page as his mothers. He died from diabetes and bronchitis, and his death was reported by Francis Spencer Hildick.

Her other son Joseph Robert inherited and was living at Gospel Oak on his own in the 1871 census records.It was he that dedicated a window in St Marys Church in Lapworth to Martha, his mother and Benjamin, his brother.

Soon after, Brome Hall was sold and on Joseph Roberts death, in December 1877, aged only 45, the farm at Gospel Oak was passed to John Hildick (b1825) who was my great-great grandfather.

John lived at Gospel Oak with his family until his death on 9th March1895, his widow Jessie Isabella continued to live there until passing it on to their son John b 1857 at her death on 11th April 1903 aged 82. Both are buried at St Marys in Lapworth.

Their son John married Mary Jane Howard Smith, his sister-in-law, in 1884 and they had three sons:


Howard (1885), Douglas (1887) and Allen (1889). A recent contact with Greta Morley who is Howards daughter has filled in some more information about the Hildicks in the 20th C.


Howard took over the family steel firm after his fathers death and in 1923 married Winifred Mary Evans at Chessetts Wood, Solihull. They had two daughters:


Mary (Joyce)                           b 1926

Margaret (Greta)                      b 1929  (Mona Hildick-Smith was her Godmother)


 John died in 1912 and the business was carried on by his eldest son Howard. Greta reports that for a long time Mary (Joyce) worked for her father at the company and it is hoped that in the future she may be able to fill in details about the firm.

Greta has kindly supplied the photograph below which is the only one I have showing the majority of the Hildick, Smith and Hildick-Smith family, although there are some faces that need to be definitely identified.






















Standing L-R: John Hildick 1857, poss ? Alan Hildick 1889 ,Ida H-S 1888, Douglas Hildick (Johns son) 1887,Mona H-S 1892, Howard Hildick 1885, unknown lady, poss Fredk "Atwood" Hildick-Smith 1889

Sitting middle L-R: Jessie H-S 1885, Frederick Smith 1858, Mary Jane Howard Hildick (nee Smith, Fredericks sister)1855, Jessie Hildick 1855.

Front L-R: John Norman H-S 1894, Joseph Don H-S 1895, Dorothy H-S 1890.

The gaps and uncertainties:

1.        The fact that Frederick Smith reportedly had deserted his family in 1901 or 1902

2.        Alan Hildick bears an uncanny resemblance to Attwood H-S

3.        There is one H-S “missing”, probably Gavin who may already have gone to South Africa.


Records from the church in Lapworth shows that Mary Jane was buried there, date as yet unknown. The farm was sold on his death and family comnnections to Lapworth seemed to have ceased. Incidentally at the time of the 1891 census Frederick and Sarah (Hildick) Smith were staying with John Hildick at Gospel Oak.

Other members of the Hildick family have also lived in Lapworth although the only definite link was one Francis Spencer Hildick b1807. He was the son of Francis b1767 and Martha Hildick, their son Moore is the direct link to our family.

He initially lived at Common Farm, Kingswood, not far from Gospel Oak and presumably part of the family holdings. He lived there with “a nephew” Joseph Parsons. Francis Spencer only had one sister, Lucy b 1810 but as yet I have not tracked down her marriage but for the time being have to assume that he was a nephew. A Joseph Parsons was an executor of Martha Hildick, maybe they were the same person? She certainly had a carter named Henry Parsons living with her in the 1861 Census.  

By all accounts they were an eccentric pair and when the farm was sold they moved together to firstly, The Bird in Hand Beer House, Lapworth (in the 1861 Census Joseph was recorded as a butcher and Francis a farmer of 50 acres) and then to a small house called Grove Cottage.

According to the writings of Sir Robert Arundel Hudson in “Memorials of a Warwickshire Parish” published in 1904: 

“It was here that the tragedy happened. In a drunken frenzy Joseph Parsons shot and killed Francis Hildick. He then committed suicide and was swiftly buried at night with no rites and in unconsecrated ground. Francis was buried in Lapworth Church grounds on 26th July 1873.”


The death certificate confirms the murder took place at Kingswood on 22/7/1873, an inquest was held in Warwick on 26/7/1873 to confirm this.