The Billings (Billing) Family of St. Breward, Cornwall, England

[Related surnames: Bromell, Bond, Rickard, Peter, Lean, Hawkin | Hocken, Hoskyn, Broad, Lodge, Batzold, Beggs, Gungel]

My grandpa, William Albert Billings, age ~10 with his family: Father, John Albert; mother Emma Bromell Billings; children Caroline, Gladys, and my grandpa

My paternal grandfather was William Albert Billings. He was born in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada in 1893. I never met his sisters, and his parents died well before I was born. This picture of my grandfather as a young boy with his family was taken around 1902-03.

My grandfather told me very little about his family. His mother died when he was a boy, and I believe it may have been in a flu epidemic. He had two sisters, Gladys and Caroline. [I have since found records that show he also had 2 other sisters and 2 other brothers who died young.]

William was married young and had a child, Ila Maxine. Until recently, I only knew that his wife had died when his daughter was 6 or 7 years old. No one in my family knew her name or anything about her, and my grandfather rarely discussed it. On a recent visit to the St. Thomas Library, I unearthed a news clipping about the death of his wife, Laura Mary. Delores Laura Mary Jones was born in 1894 and died in 1919, when the flu was rampant in Canada and the U.S.

From the Friday Jan 10, 1919 St. Thomas Times-Journal. . .

Billings – On jan. 9, 1919, Laura Mary Billings, beloved wife of William Billings, aged 24 years. Funeral on Saturday at 3 p.m. from the family residence, 30 Barwick street, to the St. Thomas cemetery.

I am still searching for information on Laura. She is buried alone in a large plot in the St. Thomas West Avenue Cemetery.

A new aunt
I knew nothing about Ila Maxine, his daughter by that marriage, until my grandfather’s death, when her son and grandchildren were mentioned in his obituary. I knew there was a woman named Maxine who had visited and was in many family pictures, but as a young girl, I never got the connection.

I posted a message in Rootsweb and got a response from my cousin once removed, Nancy Daoust. Her father was Tommy Beer, Ila’s son by her first husband. We have remained in touch, and both of us would love to find any information about my grandfather’s first wife.

John Albert Billings
The only Billings ancestor I was aware of was my grandfather’s father, John Albert. During my research at the St. Thomas Cemetery in December 2001, I found him, his wife (Emma Bromell), and her sister all buried in the same plot. I also found more potential relatives, with the last name Billing, no “s.” Edward, Giles, and Shedrick [aka Shadrach] Billing are all buried in the Old English cemetery. At that point, I could see no connection.

Edward Billing from St. Breward, Cornwall
Using the dates found in their cemetery records, I was able to go online to the LDS records and find that Edward and Giles Billing were brothers. Looking at the tree that resulted from this info, I first thought that Shedrick was the son of Giles’s, which made him John Albert’s cousin. It appeared Shedrick emigrated from Cornwall to Canda as a young boy and lived with Giles.

I then found Edward and Giles on the Visitations of Cornwall, and that gave me the Billings ancestry all the way back to the 1600s in England. Amazing what a little information can lead to!

I later found Giles and Edward as brothers living together in 1851, and Edward with his son John Albert in 1871.Happily, my hunches seem to be fast becoming facts, and I suddenly had a whole tree, where I only had a handful of names the previous year. I love genealogy.

[2005 update – Shedrick is Edward’s son by his first wife in Cornwall! Edward and Shedrick were both living in Giles’s house in 1851, which led me to believe that he was Giles’s son. Edward was listed as single, so I had no inkling that he had been married earlier before emigrating.

Facts just didn’t add up, so I delved deeper. I now have Shedrick’s birth certificate which states that he is the son of Eliza Cowling and Edward Billing. I have not found any record of Eliza after 1851. Edward remarried Eleanor Foote, my great grandfather’s John Albert’s mother.]

I also came across many census records of the family in St. Breward that I will post soon. And I found this gem: my ggg-grandmother Catherine Rickard Billing, a beer retailer in St. Breward in 1873. At one point, she owned the Old Inn in St. Breward and I’ll post photos from when my late husband and I visited the inn in 2009.

Photos – See the Billings Photo Page

My grandfather William Albert Billings married Ariel Lavern Watson, 1920

Obituaries and Memorials
Ariel Billings Goodridge (1921-2001)

Jack Ramon Billings (1925-1944)

Genealogy Reports and Family Group Sheets
The Billings report–updated March 2024 and beginning with Richard Billing of Trevorder, Cornwall, England.

My grandfather, William Albert Billings, and his family with Ariel Watson.

My grandfather with his first wife, Laura, and their child, Ila Maxine.

My great-grandfather, John Albert Billings, and his family.

My great-great grandfather, Edward Billing from Cornwall England with wife Eliza and family. I’m not sure what happened to Eliza. Edward and Shedric emigrated to Canada, and Edward remarried to Elenor Foote. I can find no record of Eliza’s death. Another mystery to solve!

Edward Billing from Cornwall England with wife second wife Elenor (my great-great-grandmother) and family in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Giles Billing, Edward’s brother.

Shedric Billing, the son of Edward and Eliza Cowling, Edward’s first wife in England.

St. John Billing, my great-great-great grandfather, father of Edward and Giles.

Census Pages
A few census records from our origins in St. Brewards, plus my grandfather with his family in the 1901 St. Thomas census.

Blog Posts
Rick and I went to St. Thomas, Ontario, where I finally got to the cemetery. Story and photo posted here.

Ariel Goodridge passed away November 2, 2001.

The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid
Billings family members are buried in St. Thomas and can be found in this great index.

The Visitations of Cornwall
Visitations of Cornwall, Comprising The Heralds’ Visitations of 1530, 1573, & 1620. With additions by Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. Vivian. Exeter: William Pollard & Co., North Street. 1887
Discovering this fantastic resource changed everything! My second great grandfather is listed at the bottom of the tree, which links my heritage back to the
Billing of Trevorder, on pages 32 and 33, contains my ancestry. If you have ancestors from Cornwall, this resource may be of value to your research. I highlighted my ancestor at the bottom of the tree on page 33.