Answers to Questions


LEVICK/WILLMOTT, Harpenden, early 20th century

March, 2011




Liz Walsh (liz @t of Auckland, New Zealand, writes: I am trying to find information on Lizzie Willmott.  She married Dyson Levick (although I have not found a marriage record) and they had two children Alexandra Bearice Levick 1903 and Donald Stewart Levick 1904 in Harpenden.  Their address was Luton Road, Harpenden Urban.  By 1911 they had migrated to New Zealand.  I have been unsuccessful in going beyond the births of Alexandra and Donald.  Do you have any records of a Lizzie Willmott (Wilmott / wilmot) who lived in Harpenden before 1903?  I have Donald's birth certificate, and electoral roll information in NZ. 

The evidence you give shows that Dyson and Lizzie Levick were living in Harpenden in 1904 (from Donald's birth certificate) and presumably they were there in 1903 when Alexandra was born.  I have also discovered that Dyson Levick is listed in the County trade directory published in 1908 as a shopkeeper in Luton Road, Harpenden. He is not listed in the 1902 directory. There is no evidence of Lizzie Willmott living in Harpenden in the 1901 census.

We need to know if there is any connection with Hertfordshire (and possibly Harpenden) before 1903. Dyson Levick is an unusual name while Elizabeth (and variants) WIL(L)MOT(T) is comparatively common - so it is appropriate to ask about Dyson first. This is what I found:

There seem to be three possibilities to consider:

  1. Henry Dyson Levick left his wife for Lizzie Willmott and the couple ran away from Yorkshire to Hertfordshire, abandoning his young family. In this case it is very unlikely that Lizzie had any Hertfordshire connections. My feeling is that it is unlikely that steam engine fitter would chose to run a shop.

  2. When Dyson Levick's wife died he linked up with a very much younger Lizzie Willmott and he moved from Yorkshire to Harpenden and opened a shop. This seems a perfectly reasonable occupation for a former commercial traveller - and the fact that he was a commercial traveller might explain why he is missing from the 1901 census.  (A variation of this is that he ran away with Lizzie before his wife died.)

  3. There is a third, as yet unidentified, Dyson Levick who was perhaps not in England in 1901.

All three options have one feature in common - there is no reason to suggest that Dyson Levick had any connection with Hertfordshire prior to about 1901. If his liaison with Lizzie Willmott started before they set up home in Harpenden there is no reason to assume that she had any prior connections with Hertfordshire. - which means there are many possible candidates because the name is quite common.

To proceed further you needs more information from New Zealand Records (death, census, immigration, etc) as to the age (and hence date of birth) of both Dyson Levick and Lizzie Willmott. Did any other Levick come to New Zealand at about the same time - for instance a child by an earlier Levick marriage?

March 2011

Anthony ( from Denmark) has looked at the case in more detail and sent several messages in quick succession

How about the 19 years old Lizzie Wilmot living at Colney Heath, Hertfordshire, in the 1901 census? However this may not be your Lizzie as I found a marriage to someone else in the St Albans Registration District that would fit the lady from London Colney

Your steam fitter can be ruled out in that he and wife Charlotte are still together after 15 years marriage and he is building locomotives at Doncaster in 1911 when the mystery Dyson is supposed to have reached NZ. I notice that the older Dyson Lavick traveller aged 47 figures on the passenger list to Cape Town 14 November 1891. Not any old commercial traveller one might say. My money is on him. Both these records are on Findmypast where I checked the pre-WWI service records on the off chance there was a soldier of that name serving abroad (none found).

As you know in 1891 Dyson's wife Annie aged 52 was living with him at Eccleshall Bierlow and there is a BMD death from this RD in Sep Q 1899 of Annie Stanton Dyson aged 57. There is a matching burial record from Fulwood Christ Church Sheffield specifying the date of death as 22 August 1899. Whilst this seemingly clears the way for Dyson to marry again, who is the Annie Levick aged 62 enumerated at nearby Brightside Bielow in 1901? Her place of birth is given as Staffordshire but in the original this is followed by Somerset crossed out. Dyson's wife was from Somerset. The 1901 Annie is head of household but shown as married not widowed. The only other member of this household is surnamed Dyson. Curiouser and curiouser as Alice would have said. Yet another instance of Right Name, Wrong Body I would suggest; either that or some serious hanky panky was going on.

In 1881 three Dyson Levicks were enumerated although I suspect our traveller was enumerated both at home and at his hotel in Plymouth. This is the Dyson married to Annie from Somerset who we find in 1901 as head of house but married not widowed. (Harry was their son.) I stand by this Dyson as the most likely spouse for Ms Wilmot. The second (or third) Dyson is older; not old enough to be father of the first Dyson but highly unlikely to have married Ms Wilmot. He lived in Nether Hallam. Importantly his wife was also called Annie; she was younger than him and was close in age to the first Annie. Maybe she died in 1899 though so far I have not been able to find her or the older Dyson in the census later than 1881.

Harry Dyson Levick your engine fitter died 21 June 1929 and probate was granted to his widow Charlotte. That finally rules him out.   Annie from Somerset (listed as Ann) now found 1911 living with son Harry but right age of 72. Still lists herself as married (for 44 years). Has had 3 children of which two survive, presumably Harry and William.  Did Dyson leave her for Ms Wilmot? He would probably have been too smart to enter on a bigamous marriage in England; is that why they did a bunk?.

Dyson Levick was a commercial traveller, and we don't know what he was selling, but it appears that he may have been selling in Plymouth at the time of the 1881 census, and he went to South Africa in 1891. He has not been located in the 1901 census - which may be a recording error - or he might have been out of the country. It would seem that his work would have taken away from home for long periods. Perhaps, like the proverbial sailor, he had a wife in every port. The information from the 1911 census relating to Ann(ie) is very strong evidence that his wife was still living in England after he arrived in New Zealand with his "wife" Lizzie.

If the New Zealand evidence shows that Lizzie was born circa 1882  she could well be the Lizzie Wilmot who was living with her widowed mother in London Colney in the 1891 (with two older brothers) and 1901 censuses. The fact that Dyson is listed as a shop keeper at Harpenden in 1908 suggests that he had definitely left his wife Annie by this date.

June 2011

Betty Boss (bdboss @t writes from New Zealand to say I actually stumbled onto your site by accident while looking for things relating to my Grandfather. Dyson Levick & Lizzie Willmott were my Grandparents, they had 4 children Alexandra, Donald, George & Eleanor, I am the daughter of Alexandra.

I have forwarded her email to Liz Walsh, and perhaps there will be more to report here later.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

March 2011   Page created
June 2011   Email from Betty