|The Hullyer Family
The early ancestry of the Hullyer Family cannot be confirmed but there is the very strong possibility
that the Reverend John Hullier, who died a martyr in 1556, was a distant ancestor. Neither the
parentage nor place of birth of the Rev. John Hullier is recorded, but it is known that he attended Eton
College. That he entered the church, becoming curate of Babraham, three miles from Cambridge,
suggests that he was a younger son of a wealthy family. Unfortunately for him, Mary Queen of Scots
ascended the throne of England on 3rd August 1553. She was a Catholic monarch and the Rev. John
Hullier held Protestant beliefs, opposing papist superstition. As a result Dr. Thirlby, Bishop of Ely, sent
him to Cambridge Castle and thereafter to Tolbooth Prison for heresy. Three months later he was
condemned to death by Dr. Fuller. On Maundy Thursday 1556 he was burned at the stake. As his flesh
was burned from his body, his final words were said to be, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” With only his
skeleton chained to the stake remaining, the Rev. John Hullier became a martyr for the Protestant
My grandfather, William Richard Hullyer, was born on the 23rd August 1878 and had grown up on the
land in Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridgeshire. He came from a family of farm labourers and was the
seventh of nine children. His father was Thomas Hullyer and his mother Jane Blanks. His maternal
grandparents were Richard Blanks and his wife Susan (nee Morris). Richard Blank’s parents were
Thomas Blanks and his wife Ann (nee Morris).
The Hullyer Family of Washington began with a chance encounter. It happened after Church one
Sunday morning in 1909. George Haylock, (christened William George Stearn 4th February 1855 at
Stapleford, Cambridgeshire) had been the local preacher for the service and was shaking hands
with everyone as they left, with his daughter Mary Ellen at his side. William Richard Hullyer hung back
until the end. He had enjoyed the service, the hymn singing and the sermon, but this was not the
reason he particularly wanted to speak with Mr. Haylock. He had recognised that the preacher was not
from around these parts, his was a Cambridgeshire accent … as was his own. It was heartwarming to
hear the echoes of home once more. Mr. Hullyer had been travelling around the country for the
previous sixteen years or so, and had rarely had the opportunity to visit his parents and family in
Cambridgeshire. Within minutes of meeting, Mr. Haylock extended an invitation to Mr. Hullyer for tea at
the Haylocks’ home in Nelson Street to talk over “old times”. It was an offer too good to refuse.
As a result of this chance meeting Mary Ellen Haylock and William Richard Hullyer were married at
The Holy Trinity Church, Washington Village on the 9th October 1909.
|My Mam, Blanche Hullyer, was born in Avon Street, Washington, County Durham (now Tyne and
Wear) on 4th May 1918, a time when the flu was virulent and lots of people were dying because of it.
Blanche was the fourth of eight children.
|Blanche Hullyer was born 4th May 1918
in Avon Street, Washington, County Durham.
She is photographed here at her daughter Audrey’s home
in Adelaide, South Australia, age 86.
|William Richard Hullyer and his wife Mary Ellen
Haylock on their Wedding Day, in 1909.
|The Holy Trinity Church,Washington Village
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 1972
Photos courtesy of my cousin
Jean Stickland, nee Hullyer
|The plaque dedicated to John Hullier inside
Babraham Church. Photo courtesy of my cousin
Jean Stickland, nee Hullyer
There have been various spellings of the Hullyer name over time. For example: Hyllyer 1560,
Hyllyere 1569, Hullyard 1645, Hullier 1650, Hilyer 1654, Hullyer 1677, Hulyer 1699, Hulder 1708,
Huldger 1710, Hulyar 1710, Hulieard 1712, Huliad 1713, Hilleard 1716, Hilliear 1719, Hillierd 1719, Hillier
1723, Holyear 1725, and Huller 1741. The discrepancies are probably due to differing pronunciations
and a non-standardised form of spelling. The spellings: Hullyer, Hulyer and Hullier gained prominance
The origin of the name Hullyer is suggested by the ending “ere” or “iere”, which denotes someone
who lived next to a particular topographical feature. The 16th century spelling of the name as Hyllyere
would therefore indicate that the name originated as “someone who lived next to a hill”. It is interesting
to note however, that there were influential families among the French Bourgeoisie in Paris from the mid-
thirteen hundreds, by the name of L’Huillier.
My grandfather, William Richard Hullyer, known to his friends and family as “Dick” was born just down
the road from St. Mary’s Church at Swaffham Bulbeck, a small village in Cambridge,
on 23rd August 1878. He was christened at the church, which is fourteenth century, however the tower
is considered to be of an earlier date.
William Richard Hullyer’s ancestors can be trace back with certainty to a John Hullier, who married
Elizabeth Coe of the Parish of Brinkley, on 6th January1754 at Brinkley. According to the Brinkley
Parish Marriage Records this John Hullier was “John Hullier of Borough Green bachelor”. However, as
no baptism is recorded for a John Hullier at Borough Green it is fair to assume that he was merely a
resident of Burrough Green at the time of his marriage. He was the great-great-great grandfather of
William Richard Hullyer 1878.
As there are no baptism records to be found in Cambridgeshire for this John Hullier, his date of birth
around 1729 and parentage can only be speculated upon. The two main contenders for the father of
“John Hullier of Burrough Green” are firstly: John Hulyer, who was christened at Wood Ditton on the
28th June 1708, and secondly: Thomas Hullier who was born about 1697 at Kirtling and who married
Martha Missen on 1st May 1721.
The parents of the John Hulyer who was christened at Wood Ditton on the 28th June 1708 were John
Hullier of Wood Ditton and his wife Sarah. The parents of Thomas Hullier who was born about 1697 at
Kirtling were most probably Thomas Hullier of Wood Ditton and his wife Jane Pooley of Kirtling. John
Hullier of Wood Ditton and Thomas Hullier of Wood Ditton were brothers. The parents of these two
brothers would have been the great grandparents of “John Hullier of Burrough Green”. Their names
were Thomas Hullier and Mary Steere, and they were married on the 19th March 1673 at Little
Wilbraham. Upon their marriage they moved to Wood Ditton.
|St. Mary’s Church at Swaffham Bulbeck
Photo by Audrey Fletcher July 2011
|Little Wilbraham Church and main street about 1900
From old postcards
William Richard Hullyer's great-great-great grandfather "John Hullier of Borough Green" and his wife
Elizabeth Coe spent their married life at Brinkley and had seven children, the eldest of whom was
another John Hullier. He was christened on 21st April 1754, at Brinkley. This John Hullier married
twice, firstly in 1776 at Carlton Cum Willingham and secondly in 1784 at Brinkley, and had ten children
... three to his first wife, Elizabeth Simmons and seven to his second wife, Hannah Brand. During the
years of his first marriage John Hullier and his wife Elizabeth lived at Carlton Cum Willingham and
Weston Colville, but upon his marriage to Hannah Brand the family moved back to Brinkley. William
Hullier, the eldest child of John Hullier and Hannah Brand, was christened on the 30th October 1785 at
Brinkley and was William Richard Hullyer’s great grandfather.
Theirs was a heritage of farm labourers, working the land for hundreds of years, and they foresaw no
reason for this to change. They did realize however, that as there was a tendency towards large families
in those days, their children would probably need to leave home and seek work in a neighbouring
After his Great-grandfather William Hullier married Elizabeth Piper of Bottisham on the 5th November
1807 at Swaffham Bulbeck, the couple moved to Swaffham Bulbeck to live. Here William worked as a
labourer and together they raised a family of nine children, the seventh of whom was Richard Hullyer
who was born about 1821 and christened on the 25th September 1826 at St. Mary's Church, Swaffham
When Richard Hullyer married Rebecca Bradford in September 1839, the couple moved to
Bottisham. By 1851 Richard was working as a Shepherd, they had five children and were living at Bow
Bridge House, Bottisham. All six of their children were christened at the Swaffham Bulbeck Parish
|Bottisham High Street about 1900
From an old postcard
|A modern-day Bottisham sign
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
The second eldest of Richard and Rebecca’s six children was Thomas Hullyer … the father of William
Richard Hullyer. He was born on the 14th January 1842 and lived to the ripe old age of ninety! Life on
the land must have agreed with him. In 1861 he was working as an agricultural labourer.
|Thomas Hullyer and his wife
Jane Blanks, about 1885
|Susan Blanks nee Morris
Mother of Jane Blanks
|In 1901 the Hullyer home was situated in what is now the
carpark of the last remaining village pub
Photo by Audrey Fletcher July 2011
Thomas Hullyer married Jane Blanks of Little Wilbraham on the 18th January 1867 at St. Mary’s
Church in Swaffham Bulbeck, the village where their nine children were born and grew up. In 1901 the
family lived at 4 The Village, Swaffham Bulbeck, just along the road from St. Mary’s Church, and
Thomas Hullyer worked as a horsekeeper for a builder.
|The baptism entry for Thomas Hullyer at Swaffham Bulbeck Church in 1842.
Thomas Hullyer and Jane Blanks had known each other from an early age. In fact when Thomas was
nine his Hullier grandparents, William and Elizabeth, lived next door to Jane’s parents, Richard and
Susan Blanks at Village Street, Swaffham Bulbeck. Jane Blanks was the second youngest of eight
children and was christened on 14th March 1841 at Little Wilbraham.
The Blanks family had moved to Swaffham Bulbeck a hundred years earlier. The first parish record is
for Susannah Blanks, the eldest child of a Thomas and Margaret Blanks, who was christened on
3rd October 1742. Within the next ten years Thomas and Margaret had another five children but by the
10th April 1759 Margaret was dead and buried.
In the following year, on 4th May 1760, Thomas Blanks married Mary Baker. These were Jane’s great
grandparents. The second of their six children, Thomas, who was christened on 2nd January 1753,
was Jane’s grandfather. He had a twin sister Mary but she died within a fortnight of being born. His
mother, Mary (Baker) was buried on 10th December 1779. His father, Thomas, worked as a labourer
until he died and was buried as a pauper on 24th July 1793.
Meanwhile Jane’s grandfather, Thomas Blanks, had married Ann Morris of Milton in February 1790.
The banns were called at St. Mary’s Church in Swaffham Bulbeck on 7th February 1790. Ann was also
known as Hannah. They had five children, all born at Swaffham Bulbeck. The youngest child was Jane’
s father, Richard, who was christened on 30th June 1805.
Jane’s father, Richard Blanks, married Susan Morris on 12th September 1825 at Saint Michael,
Cambridge. On the birth records of their three eldest children at Swaffham Bulbeck between 1827 and
1830, Susan states that she was originally from Little Wilbraham but her christening is not recorded
there. The family moved back to Little Wilbraham, where Richard had found work as a labourer some
time after 1830. However they had returned to live at Swaffham Bulbeck by 1851 when they lived next
door to the grandparents of Jane’s future husband, Thomas Hullyer.
William Richard Hullyer was the seventh of nine children born to Thomas Hullyer and his wife Jane
Blanks. He was born on 23rd August 1878 and christened on 29th September 1878 at St. Mary’s
Church, Swaffham Bulbeck.
|1851 Census Record for Swaffham Bulbeck showing the Blanks and Hullyer families
living next door to each other
William Richard Hullyer was more commonly known as “William” in his younger days, then “Richard”
after he left home, and finally as “Dick” Hullyer in later years. When William left school at age ten it was
expected that he would follow in the family tradition and work on the land as a farm labourer. He did for
a few years, but becoming dissatisfied with that way of life he joined a Circus when he was thirteen and
travelled the country.
The times he remembered most were the later years with the Barnham and Bailey Circus and also the
Biddall Circus. Gradually “Dick Hullyer” worked his way up from being a groom to becoming a tent
master. He used to help raise the main pole, which supported the circus tent frame.
For about the next hundred years it was thought by members of the Cambridgeshire Hullyers that Dick
Hullyer had married a trapeze artiste ... and they had a photo to substantiate their claim!
|A Hullyer family member,
thought to be a sister of Thomas Hullyer b1842
|William Richard Hullyer 1878 to 1943
and his wife
Mary Ellen Haylock 1884 to 1953
... my grandparents
Thomas Hullyer and his wife Jane Blanks had nine children ...
1) Richard Walter Hullyer, chr. 26 April 1868, Swaffham Bulbeck (Parish Records) DOM 21 July 1893
at Wicken, age 25, to Mary Ann Thorbey, daughter of William. Died sometime after 1933.
2) Elijah Blanks Hullyer, b. 07 October 1869, chr. 26 December 1869, Swaffham Bulbeck (Parish
Records) DOM 24 December 1902 at Swaffham Bulbeck, age 33, to Lily Fordham, 23, daughter of
Ephraim, labourer. (Parish Records) Died towards the end of 1927.
3) Annie Jane Hullyer, chr. 30 July 1871, Swaffham Bulbeck (Parish Records) DOM 26 June 1892 to
Henry Breadman at Cambridge. Died 07 August 1914, Romford, Essex
4) Thomas Hullyer, chr. 25 August 1872, Swaffham Bulbeck (Parish Records)
Buried 02 July 1904 Thomas Hullyer jnr age 32 labourer, at Swaffham Bulbeck. Grave H71. Died at
Cambridge Hospital. (Parish Records)
5) Maria Hullyer, chr. 25 May 1874, Swaffham Bulbeck (Parish Records) Died 11 December 1879,
6) Henry Hullyer, chr. 30 April 1876, Swaffham Bulbeck (Parish Records)
Buried 22 March 1912 at Swaffham Bulbeck. Age 36, labourer. Grave L13. (Parish Records)
7) William Richard Hullyer, b. 23 August 1878, chr. 29 September 1878, Swaffham Bulbeck (Parish
Records) DOM 09 October 1909 at Washington Village, County Durham to Mary Ellen Haylock,
daughter of George Haylock, Miner. Died 02 August 1943, Washington, County Durham
8) Maria Hullyer, chr. 30 October 1881, Swaffham Bulbeck,
daughter of THOMAS JAMES and Jane Hullyer (Parish Records)
DOM 12 November 1902 at Swaffham Bulbeck, to James Marsh, labourer,
son of Jas. labourer. (Parish Records)
9) Ernest James Hullyer, b. 28 May 1884, chr. 03 August 1884, Swaffham Bulbeck
(Parish Records) DOM 26 December 1908 at All Souls Church, Hackney to Sarah Elizabeth Fitch,
daughter of henry Fitch, labourer. Died 03 May 1938. Age 53 years.
|Brothers Walter, Elijah and Thomas Hullyer
(Boer War Uniform)
|William Richard (Dick) Hullyer
Dick Hullyer's career with the circus ended at age 30 when he came to Washington, County Durham for
it was then that he met and later married Mary Ellen Haylock. Born at Craghead, County Durham on
24th August 1884, the eldest of three living children, Mary Ellen was born partially blind. Her father,
George Haylock had tried all sorts of remedies to help improve her poor eyesight but it only became
worse, until gradually she became totally blind.
At the time when William Richard Hullyer made himself known to Mr. George Haylock and his daughter
Mary Ellen on that providential Sunday after church, when Mr. Haylock had been preaching, Mary Ellen
still had sight in half an eye. Mr. Hullyer was invited back to tea with the family at Nelson Street,
Washington, County Durham to share reminisces about Cambridge where both men had spent their
youth. A companionable relationship quickly grew, and as Mr. Hullyer was leaving the circus due to back
problems the Haylock family extended an invitation for him to board with them.
Mary Ellen Haylock was twenty-four at the time and had never expected to marry but on 9th October
1909 she and William Richard (“Dick”) Hullyer were married at The Holy Trinity Church in Washington
|Barnham and Bailey Ponies
The Hullyer Family moved to 15 The Terraces, Washington, when my Mam, Blanche Hullyer, was seven
years old in 1925. The most probable reason for the shift at that particular time was that both sisters
Blanche and Nellie (Eleanor Jane) had been in the Chester-le-Street Hospital with serious illnesses.
Nellie had diphtheria while Blanche had Scarlet Fever. They came home from the hospital to a very big
near new house, with modern facilities, and a brand new baby sister, Ivy. Later, another two sisters
were to be born there, Lily and Mary.
|The Glebe School about 1910
|The Glebe Pit (coal mine) about 1908
|The Hullyer Family moved to 15 The Terraces, Washington in 1925
Over the years Dick Hullyer and his wife Mary Ellen Haylock were to have eight children. Sadly however
their son Tom died when he was only two and a half years old. His sudden death nearly killed them. It
was thought that Tom had convulsions after swallowing a small nail, which he had picked up from the
floor after his Dad had been cobbling shoes. My Mam, Blanche Hullyer, remembers little Tom laid out in
the corner of the front room. I was about five at the time. Mrs. Bell, who had laid him out, (she was also
the mid-wife) lifted me up to see him. He looked beautiful lying on a small table, which was draped with
white sheets and decorated with purple bows and ribbons.
|The children of William Richard Hullyer and Mary Ellen Haylock
Lily, Mary, Blanche, Nellie, George, Ivy, Violet
Perhaps Dick Hullyer was ready to settle down as he had developed a bad back from working in the
Circus. As a result he had to wear a back support for the next thirty five years until he died on 2nd
August 1943, three weeks before he was due for the pension. Over the years he still kept in contact
with the Biddall Circus family.
When Dick Hullyer first came to Washington he worked as a labourer helping to build the Glebe
School, but when it was completed there was only the Glebe Pit as a source of employment. He was
never a hewer on big money because of his bad back.
|The parents of Mary Ellen Haylock
My great grandparents
George Haylock, (christened William George Stearn 4th February 1855 at Stapleford, Cambridgeshire)
Ellen Boaden Basher who was born about 1856 at Redruth, Cornwall.
She was a seventh generation Basher whose ancestry can be traced back to Johannes Basher
and Maria Jenkyn who were married in Ruan Minor, Cornwall in November 1691.