The Family History of Janet Lovesey

The Hymas Family of Burton Leonard & Bishop Monkton ~ West Riding

Thomas Alva Hymas

My maternal grandfather was Thomas Alva Hymas...  known as Tom by his work colleagues, Alva by the family and Hymas by his wife, my Nan.  An Electrical Engineer by trade, he left his beautiful home town of Bishop Monkton with his family (my Nan Ellen and my Mom Eileen) to come to Kings Norton - a parish in the south-west of Birmingham.  Why?..   For work of course.

My Grandad Alva was a gentleman; he was quietly spoken, intelligent and thoughful, he was also very musical, playing the guitar, violin and piano.  Grandad was also a member of the RSPB and had a great fondness and respect for wildlife.   Living in South Birmingham we were only a stones throw away from the countryside but my Grandad must have missed the fields of his home county.  As children, he would take my brother and me on walks around the canals on Lifford Lane where he would astound us by showing us how magically, he could crush nettles in his bare hands without getting stung.  We would also go 'boating' on the lake at Swanshurst Park on a Sunday afternoon after he had dropped my Nan & Mom off at the Pavilion Bingo Hall in Stirchley.  

My Grandad loved his pipe; he had a great collection of wooden, and ivory pipes.  I would sit and watch him as he rolled tobacco in his leather pouch, taking in that magnificent smell...   Even to this day, I love the smell of pipe tobacco and the connotations and memories it brings alive.

Alva was named after 'Thomas Alva Edison' - the inventor, much admired by his father Tom Watson Hymas.  Like Edison, my grandad was an Engineer, although unlike Edison, he ran his business rather unsuccessfully it would seem judging by the amount of creditors summons' he received over a decade from the late 1940s.   In 1959 following the precedence set by his brother Eric and his now married  sister Rene who along with mother Lily had moved to Cardiff,  he left Monkton and  journeyed south. 

Left ~ A young Alva Hymas with mother Lily circa 1925 at Bridlington

Before she married, Elizabeth Hutchinson - or Lily as she was known, was a Dressmaker.  She married Tom Hymas, a Monumental Mason at the 1901 Census in Bishop Monkton.

Wedding at Bishop Monkton

The following excerpt appeared in a local Ripon newspaper in April 1903. It details the wedding of my great grandparents ~ Thomas Watson Hymas and Elizabeth Hutchinson at St John’s Church.

...There was a large congregation at St John’s Church …. on the occasion of the marriage of Mr Tom Watson Hymas, builder, to Miss Lily Hutchinson, youngest daughter of Mr W Hutchinson. The service was fully choral and appropriate music was played by Mr Jowett the organist. The bride entered the church leaning on the arm of her brother, Mr G Hutchinson, who gave her away. She was prettily attired in a dress of cream crepe de chine with hat to match and carried a shower bouquet of white flowers, the gift of the bridegroom. The bridesmaids were Miss Amy Hutchinson, sister of the bride, and Miss Minnie Hymas, sister of the bridegroom. They wore pale blue crepe de chine dresses with hats to match and carried shower bouquets of daffodils and jonquils. They also wore swallow brooches, the gifts of the bridegroom.  Also the misses Ennie and Gwinnie Greenbank, little nieces of the bride, who wore empire frocks and Dutch bonnets of white silk and carried baskets of pink tulips. Mr Arthur Hutchinson acted as best man. The Ven. Archdeacon Danks officiated.  At the close of the ceremony, a reception was held at Claremont Villa. The newly-married pair left Ripon by the 4 p.m. train for the North, where the honeymoon will be spent. The bride’s going-away dress was of brown zebeline with a large black hat trimmed with cream lace and cornflowers...

The List of Presents followed the above article:  Bride to Bridegroom, dressing-case. Bridegroom to Bride, dressing-case. Father of Bridegroom, cheque. Mother of Bridegroom, cutlery. Miss Hymas, bedroom service. Miss M Hymas, photo frame. Miss Ward, silver cruet. Mrs A Knowles, jam dish and spoon. Miss Hutchinson, sheets and pillow cases. Miss A Hutchinson, blankets. Mrs F Greenbank, Chenille table cover. Mrs CA Hutchinson, counterpane. Mrs Parkin, silver toast rack. Mrs Topham, table cloth. Miss Bickerdyke, tumblers. Miss M Shaw, table cloth (drawn thread). Mrs Barker, inkstand. Mrs J Hymas, ornaments. Miss L Barker, writing case. Mr G Hutchinson, pictures. Miss E Stead, table centre. Miss Child, doylies. Mr G Knowles, fruit knives. Mr WE Dixon, brass kettle, Mr Hebden, table cloth. Mr & Mrs Morland, silver sugar sifter. Mrs Elison, silk cushion. Mr Bellerby, mahogany table. Miss Elison, velvet slippers. Mr JH Calverley, Damask table cloth…


Tom Watson Hymas (left) at Scarborough (with usual cigarette in situ)

Hymas Family (above) at Caerphilly ~ L-R  Irene,  Alva, Eric's wife Vinnie, mother Lily & father Tom

The Watson Hymas's

Tom Watson Hymas was listed in several editions of  Kelly's Trades Directory during  the 1920s as an Electrical Engineer although this was not his only profession.  Working as a Builder and Mason alongside his brother James Herbert  for his father John Watson Hymas, the family were reportedly responsible for 'remodelling' Bishop Monkton.  The following is an excerpt from an article in the Ripon Gazette & Observer (26 Aug 1948):

NEW HOUSES AT BISHOP MONKTON... In Bishop Monkton, one of the prettiest villages in the district, Ripon and Pateley Bridge Rural District council, under its post-war housing scheme is erecting ten houses.  These are nearing completion and probably will be ready for occupation about October.  The village has at present 105 dwellings to house its 472 inhabitants.  As in many other villages there has been no other building since the outbreak of the last war, but probably no village in the district has changed more in the past sixty to seventy years. 

MUCH OF VILLAGE NEW...  There are one or two Georgian houses, and a few farms with foundations of earlier periods, but a good part of the village is new, as villages go.  The change was brought about by the late Mr Watson Hymas who was responsible for Church Terrace where, within living memory, there were three small cottages, a cow byre and a stonemason's yard. He reconditioned the cottage property by the Central Stores, which he also built.  He had a hand in building the Terrace next to the Mechanic's Institute, and was next responsible for Fontein Terrace, "Claremont" and the neighbouring bungalows.  This building was well before the first World War, after which Mr Hymas's sons, Mr J.H. Hymas and  the late Mr T.W. Hymas, developed the west end of the village in the Ripon Road area.

The Hymas's were certainly a force in the village.  The following obituary and burial notice appeared in the Ripon Gazette & Observer upon the death of John Watson Hymas in 1933:

BUILDER WHO REMODELLED BISHOP MONKTON ~ DEATH OF MR JW HYMAS... The death took place on Tuesday, at his residence, "Nailsworth", Burton Leonard, of Mr John Watson Hymas, one of the best known builders in this part of the county. He was 79 years of age.  A native of Burton Leonard, he was the only son of Mr Thomas Hymas, who was farm bailiff to the late Lady Mary Vyner of Newby Hall. As a young man he had ambitions, and with very small capital set up on his own as a builder. His first contract was gained during the building of the new church at Skelton. During the period of his contract he suffered the misfortune of having his employees leave him, but being a man of much grit, he struggled on with his cousin, Mr Peter Watson, of Burton Leonard, who acted as his foreman, and the contract was finally brought to a successful conclusion.  He then went as manager for his uncle, a building contractor at Manningham, Bradford. Mr Hymas later returned to his native place, and his first speculation was the rebuilding of the terrace in Burton Leonard that leads to St Leonard's Hall. Shortly afterwards he turned his attention to building operations in Bishop Monkton, and during the last forty years it can be said with much truth that he re-modelled that village. He built St John's Terrace, effected alterations in the middle of the village, erected a string of bungalows and Fontein Terrace; opened out the area known locally as "Hungate" and also built residential dwellings round the top end of the village. A further development of that part of the village in later years has been carried out by his two sons, Mr T.W. and Mr J.H. Hymas.  In 1909 he took over Littlethorpe Potteries much against the wishes of his business friends, as the place had been despaired of by a previous succession of proprietors, but here again his business capabilities and determination, after some initial difficulties, gradually turned the venture into a paying concern. He was as well known as a cricketer as he was as a builder over a very large area and was for many years captain of both the Bishop Monkton and Burton Leonard clubs. He was a familiar figure at all county matches in the West Riding and when his cricketing days were done he took the greatest pleasure in offering his services as an umpire. He worked up to shortly before Christmas and it was only when he had not the strength to carry on the building developments at Holber Hill, Burton Leonard, with his sons that he finally gave in. He was the oldest member of the St Leonard's Lodge of Druids. His wife, a native of Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, died in 1922. The funeral takes place tomorrow (Friday) at St John's Church, Bishop Monkton.

MR J.W. HYMAS. The interment took place at St John's Church, Bishop Monkton, on Friday, of Mr John Watson Hymas of "Nailsworth", Burton Leonard. The service was conducted by the Vicar (the Rev J. Woods) The chief mourners were: Mr and Mrs T.W. Hymas (son and daughter in law), Mr and Mrs J.H. Hymas (son and daughter in law), Mrs Murquest (daughter), Mr and Mrs E.W. Hymas, Mr C. Hymas, Miss I Hymas, Mr A. Hymas (grandchildren), Miss Watson, Mr and Mrs J. Watson, Capt and Mrs Danby, Knaresboro' (nephew and niece), Mr Peter Watson, Mr and Mrs J. Watson (senr), Mr Albert Hymas, Harrogate, Mr Allan Hymas (Cousins), Mrs Askew, Harrogate and Mrs McQuorn. Among those present were Mr J. Murquest, Ripon, Mrs Thornton, Littlethorpe, Mrs W. Lee, Mrs J.G. Knowles, Burton Leonard, Mr H. Davy, Mr Smith Jowett, Miss G. Jowett, Mrs S. Webber, Mrs C. Hutchinson, Mrs M.A. Roberts, Mrs J. Heath, Miss O. Heath, Mrs Bellerby (senr), Mrs R. Mear, Miss H. Hutchinson, Mrs L. Slater, Mr H. Wood (the Bungalows), Mr C. King (acting secretary St Leonard's Lodge A.U.O.D. of which Mr J.W. Hymas was a trustee and oldest member), Mr C.H. Spencer, Mr R.D. Horner, Mr Tom Horner, Mr J.T. Wigglesworth, Mr D. Ellis, Mr E. Chambers, Mr H. Hardy and Mr H. Dobby (all of Burton Leonard), Mr J. Moss (representing the Ripon A.U.O.D. Lodge, Mr James Hymas, Mr R. Hymas (junr), Mr E. McLoughlin, Mr and Mrs Frederick Simpson, Mr G.W. Spence (all of Littlethorpe), Mrs T. Cussans, Miss Swale, Miss Duffield, Mrs Sadler, Mrs W. Morland, Miss Forbett, Miss M. Butterfield, Mr W. Heath, Mrs W. Hymas, Mrs A. Scatchard, Mr H. Horner, Mr H . Whitehead, Mr W.G. Armitage, Mr J. Lee, Mrs G. Yates, Miss A. Wood, Mr J.F. Mountain (representing Messrs Hutchinson and Buchanan, Ripon), Mr Taylor and Mr Fearnley (Burton Leonard), Mr Alf Hymas, Mr Webster (representing Miss Shaw, The Kennels, Burton Leonard) and Mr W. Roberts. Wreaths were from the family.

The Will of JW Hymas was granted Probate in London on 1 April 1933; the effects of £6940 4s 10d were left to (sons) Tom Watson Hymas and James Herbert Hymas, builders and James Francis Mountain, clerk.  

John Watson Hymas is flanked by his grandchildren in the mid to late 1920s

L-R  Irene Hymas, Netta Hymas, Eric Watson Hymas, Kenneth Charlton & sister Dorothy from Canada, Thomas Alva Hymas and Cyril Hymas


The Hymas's and the Watson's were also quite famous locally for their cricketing ability.  Another 'cousin' Jeff Calder in his unpublished research on 'The Family of John Hymas' quotes from a newspaper article stating how "William Hymas of the Burton Leonard side was said by all who met him to be the most scientific batsman in Yorkshire".  Also mentioned in the article is the 'numerous famous men against whom the Burton Leonard side were opposed... Dr WG Grace and George Freeman' to name but two.  For more information about the cricketing Hymas's and Watson's, click on the link to the Burton Leonard Cricket Club.

Additional Information about the Hymas’s of Burton Leonard

Barbara M Wray writes in her book ‘A tale of Two Villages; Bishop Monkton and Burton Leonard’ [ISBN 0 9522575 0 5] of the “entrepreneurial bent of the Hymas family”. She mentions how JT Hymas (John Thomas - a first cousin of JW Hymas) was a leading and respected figure in the Wesleyan community as well as being the head of a well sinking firm. Ms Wray also states that it was reported in the Ripon Gazette of 1915, that JT had been called upon by Sandringham to advise about the best methods of providing the Royal Estate with a water supply.

The aforementioned Jeff Calder also wrote about a tragedy occurring when two employees of JT’s well sinking business died of suffocation whilst carrying out work at Whinmoor near Leeds on 28 June 1910. Jeff quotes from a report in the Yorkshire Post of this accident whereby “two men lost their lives. Ernest Fawcett and George Hymas (a nephew of JT)… were overcome by foul air whilst engaged in well sinking operations.” The inquest found that death was due to suffocation most probably from carbonic acid gas; the jury returned a verdict to this effect.

Further information about other entrepreneurial Hymas's - Albert Hymas (of building and quarrying fame) and his descendants that crossed the pond to Canada can be located in James Hymas's website.

The Bus Ticket on the right is from  Alfred Hymas Ltd.  The company has gone from strength to strength and is currently the largest family-owned bulk haulier in North Yorkshire.

Gravestones in Burton Leonard and Bishop Monkton

This grave in the churchyard of St Leonard's, Burton Leonard (next to the grave of the Watsons) is the grave of Thomas and Tabitha Hymas (nee Watson)...

'In loving memory of Tabitha wife of Thomas Hymas who departed this life July 11th 1887 aged 62 years.  Also Thomas Hymas who died March 8th 1892 aged 67 years.

The photo below shows the stone in more detail

This grave in St John's churchyard in Bishop Monkton is the grave of John Watson Hymas and Johanna Hymas (nee Wathen)..  'In Loving Memory of Johannah the Beloved wife of JW Hymas who died March 21st 1922 aged 69.  Peace Perfect Peace.  In Loving memory of John Watson Hymas who died January 31st 1933 aged 79'.

Underneath the scroll is the inscription for their daughter Hellen Tabitha who died July 12th 1889 aged 7 years.

The Watson Family of Burton Leonard

John Watson Hymas pictured (far left) in 1909 & (left) circa 1925

The first Watson’s recorded at Burton Leonard were Charles and Ralph who appear on the 1672 Claro Wapentake Hearth Tax list; both brothers seemingly owning one hearth apiece in the village. Ralph Watson’s birth can be found on the IGI as being circa 1651 in Burton Leonard, no other details are given. Other Watson’s, Christened at Burton Leonard that appear on the IGI but not on my Generational Tree below are:

  • Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, Chr. 1702
  • Hannah, daughter of Henry, Chr. 1733
  • Anne, daughter of James, Chr. 1743
  • John, son of Henry, Chr. 1737
  • John, son of Henry, Chr. 1746
  • Jane, daughter of Henry, Chr. 1735
  • William, son of Henry, Chr. 1738

The above named John Watson, born circa 1746 is mentioned by Barbara Wray in her book ‘A Tale of Two Villages; Bishop Monkton and Burton Leonard’ in relation to villagers withholding the payment of small tithes in 1828.  Apparently, several villagers when asked about non-payment of tithes and whether they would be willing to contribute were in denial of its existence. Barbara Wray notes the 'refreshing honesty' of John Watson who said that 'he would wait and see what his neighbours did!'

Ms Wray’s book also mentions a William Watson who in 1841 gives over some land in Burton Leonard to the Primitive Methodists in order that a Chapel can be built.

The Watson family of Burton Leonard are probably most famous for being Master Builders and Stonemasons. Peter Watson undertook the stone carving of St Leonard’s Church in Burton Leonard. His sons Peter and Joseph succeeded him in this business, as did his grandsons, Peter, Henry and Joseph, and another grandson John Watson Hymas.

This is the grave (now hidden and protected from the elements by a large tree) in the churchyard of St Leonard's in Burton Leonard of 'Peter Watson who died January 6th 1835 aged 46 years.  Also Jane Watson wife of the above who died December 6th 1874 aged 87 years'.

The picture below shows the rear of the grave and the large tree in situ!

The Hymas & Watson Family Tree

 Generation No.1 ~ Paternal

  1. Thomas Alva HYMAS. Born on Oct 17 1915 in Bishop Monkton Yorks. Thomas died on May 05 1977 in Birmingham; he was 61.
   On 21 Sept 1940, when Thomas was 24, he married Ellen Maria Warrior.

 Generation No. 2 ~ Paternal

2. Thomas Watson HYMAS.  Born on Jul 23 1878 in Burton Leonard, Yorks.  Thomas died on Dec 29 1942 in Yorks; he was 64.

In 1902, when Thomas was 23, he married Elizabeth HUTCHINSON.
They had the following children ...
            i.       Eric Watson HYMAS (1903 - 1986)
            ii.      Irene HYMAS (1913 - 2003)
 1       iii.      Thomas Alva HYMAS (1915 - 1977)
3. Elizabeth HUTCHINSON. 
Born on Oct 23 1879 in Bishop Monkton, Yorks.  Elizabeth died on Dec 23 1966 in Cardiff; she was 87.

 Generation No. 3 ~ Paternal

  4. John Watson HYMAS. Born on Apr 24 1853 in Burton Leonard Yorks. John died on Jan 31 1933; he was 79.

  On Apr 18 1876, when John was 22, he married Johanna WATHEN.
  They had the following children ...
             i.      Edith Ann HYMAS (b.1876)
  2       ii.      Thomas Watson HYMAS (1878 - 1942)
            iii.      Minnie HYMAS (1880 - 1947)
            iv.      Hellen Tabitha HYMAS (1882 - 1889)
            v.      James Herbert HYMAS (1885 - 1959)
  5. Johanna WATHEN. Born in 1850 in Nailsworth Gloucs. Johanna died on Mar 12 1922 in Bishop Monkton Yorks; she was 72.

 Generation No. 4 ~ Paternal

  8. Thomas HYMAS. Born in 1825 in Burton Leonard Yorks, England. Thomas died on Mar 08 1892; he was 67.

  On Jul 11 1850, when Thomas was 25, he married Tabitha WATSON.
  They had the following children ...
             i.      Mary Hannah HYMAS (b.1850)
   4       ii.      John Watson HYMAS (1853 - 1933)
             iii.     Jane Ann HYMAS (b.1858)
  9. Tabitha WATSON. Born in 1824 in Burton Leonard Yorks. Tabitha died on Jul 11 1887 in Burton Leonard; she was 63.

  10. James WATHEN. Born in 1809 in Bristol. James died in 1878 in Stroud, Gloucs; he was 69.

  James married Mary SMITH.
  They had the following children ...
             i.      Joseph WATHEN (1831 - 1849)
             ii.      Maria WATHEN (1832 - 1881)
             iii.      Ellen WATHEN (b.1833)
            iv.      Martha WATHEN (1837 - 1885)
             v.      William WATHEN (b.1839)
            vi.      Ann WATHEN (1841 - 1864)
 5       vii.      Johanna WATHEN (1850 - 1922)
11. Mary SMITH. Born in 1810 in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire. Mary died in 1900 in Stroud; she was 90.

  Generation No. 5 ~ Paternal

  16. John HYMAS. Born in 1799 in Darlington, Durham. John died in 1854; he was 55.

  On Nov 26 1821, when John was 22, he married Esther MARWOOD.
  They had the following children ...
             i.      Mary HYMAS (b.1823)
  8       ii.      Thomas HYMAS (1825 - 1892)
            iii.      John HYMAS, b.1828 (b.1828)
           iv.      James HYMAS (b.1833)
            v.      William HYMAS (b.1836)
            vi.      Hannah HYMAS (b.1838)
           vii.      Robert HYMAS (b.1841)
  17. Esther MARWOOD. Born in 1802 in Marton le Moor, Yorks, England.

  18. Peter WATSON. Born in 1789 in Burton Leonard Yorks. Peter died on Jan 06 1835 in Burton Leonard; he was 46.

  On Oct 31 1811, when Peter was 22, he married Jane CARTWRIGHT.
  They had the following children ...
             i.      Ann WATSON (b.1812)
             ii.      William WATSON (b.1818)
  9       iii.      Tabitha WATSON (1824 - 1887)
            iv.      Peter WATSON, b.1827 (1827 - 1898)
  19. Jane CARTWRIGHT. Born in 1791 in Galphay, Kirkby Malzeard, Yorks. Jane died on Dec 06 1874 in Burton Leonard; she was 83.

 Generation No. 6 ~ Paternal

  34. John MARWOOD. Born in 1757 in Marton le Moor, Yorkshire, England.

  On Nov 24 1778, when John was 21, he married Jane SMITH.
  They had the following children ...
                i.      Francis MARWOOD (b.1790)
               ii.      Ann MARWOOD (b.1795)
               iii.      Rachael MARWOOD (1797 - 1883)
              iv.      Martha MARWOOD (b.1799)
   17       v.      Esther MARWOOD (b.1802)
              vi.      James MARWOOD (b.1805)
  35. Jane SMITH. Born in 1757.

  36. John WATSON. Born in 1750 in Burton Leonard Yorks.

  On Aug 19 1771, when John was 21, he married Tabitha COATES.
  They had the following children ...
                i.      Henry WATSON (b.1772)
   18       ii.      Peter WATSON (1789 - 1835)
  37. Tabitha COATES. Born in 1750 in Yorks.

 Generation No. 7 ~ Paternal

  72. Henry WATSON, b.1700. Born in 1700 in Burton Leonard, Yorkshire, England.

  Henry married na202 (MOTHER).
  They had the following children ...
                i.      Hannah WATSON (b.1733)
               ii.      Jane WATSON (b.1735)
               iii.      John WATSON, b.1737 (1737 - 1737)
               iv.      William WATSON, b.1738 (b.1738)
                v.      Peter WATSON, b.1749 (b.1749)
   36       vi.      John WATSON (b.1750)
  73. unknown (MOTHER).

 Generation No. 8 ~ Paternal

  144. Henry (Henricus) WATSON, b.1670. Born in 1670 in Burton Leonard, Yorkshire, England.

  Henry (Henricus) married unknown (MOTHER).
  They had the following known children ...
                i.      John (Johannes) WATSON (b.1697)
                ii.      Ellin WATSON (b.1698)
   72       iii.      Henry WATSON, b.1700 (b.1700)
               iv.      Elizabeth WATSON, b.1702 (b.1702)
  145. unknown (MOTHER).