Mary Anne Willington

Mary Anne Willington was the youngest daughter of Edward Willington and Sarah Baddeley. She was baptized on 21 Mar 1811 in Tettenhall Parish Church, although she may have already been two or three years old (according to some of the census records).

Samplar dated 1817

There are two interesting things about her. Firstly a samplar she did, dated 1817, has survived. The mastery of needlework and the alphabet would suggest a very accomplished six year old and adds to the credibility that she was born around 1809. This artifact may have come to us through a number of possible routes, but primarily because she died childless.

On 7 Aug 1832 she married Samuel Shaw-Hellier the third son of James Shaw-Hellier of the Woodhouse, Wombourne. Her elder sister Elizabeth was to marry Samuel’s brother in law, John Evans in the same church in Bushbury on 7 Oct 1837. This gives Mary Anne a double connection with the Evans family where the Samplar was to eventually land up.

Samuel Shaw-Hellier died at the age of 48 in 1856 and Mary Anne appears to have moved in with her brother-in-law Thomas Shaw-Hellier who by then was living at Rodbaston Hall. Even after Thomas’s death in 1870, the 1871 census still records her as living at Rodbaston Hall, now with her nephew Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier.

The 1871 census also fascinatingly records her place of birth as Barnhurst Manor. The Barnhurst estate clearly had a number of dwellings and farm holdings with houses but this fact puts the Willington and Baddeley families right at the heart of the Shaw-Hellier estate and leads us to a few other interesting speculations.

This would make it all the more likely that Mary Anne’s mother Sarah Baddeley was the sister of James Shaw-Hellier’s wife Elizabeth Baddeley. This would also mean that her husband was in fact her first cousin.

As we also know that James and Elizabeth’s early children were illegitimate, a fact that contributed to James’s restricted inheritance as laid out in the will of his father the Rev Thomas Shaw-Hellier, it would seem likely that the Baddeleys too were probably tenanted farmers of part of the Barnhurst estate.

Elizabeth was seemingly illiterate and therefore probably did not have the social status that the Rev Thomas Shaw-Hellier wanted as the wife of his heir. After her husband’s death, Elizabeth Shaw-Hellier lived the last eight years of her life at Barnhurst. By the time of the next generation the Willington children were able to boast a considerable social advancement alongside their Shaw-Hellier cousins.

Mary Anne Shaw-Hellier died in 1879.

Last updated on 9 October 2017 by JJ Morgan