|In June 1998 the Royal Wolverhampton School held an open
day, to which a member of Keystone Masonic Lodge was invited. At that
time I was away on holiday so it was decided that of the Senior Past
Masters, Stanley Nelmes, would attend the function. I asked him if he
would be kind enough to make enquiries for me to ascertain if what I had
been told was correct.
On our return from holiday I was advised that in
1897 John Rollings presented a peel of bells for the chapel at the
School to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. They were a set
of 8 tubular bells, manufactured by Harrington & Latham of Earsldon,
Coventry; the cost was £800. The bells were dedicated by the
Bishop of Shrewsbury on the 19th June 1897.
This old postcard is the clearest picture I have
seen which shows the bell tower on the school Royal School
|In 1933 the Bell Tower was dismantled due to one of the
bells being cracked and the Tower itself being unsafe. The
bells were disposed of to a local scrap merchant.
I understand that this was to the great joy of the local
residents, who had suffered the nuisance of the incessant
bell ringing of incompetent pupils.
John Rollings was a Vice President and Governor of the School.
|My next move was to ascertain if John Rollings was a
Freemason. I wrote to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Staffordshire who
advised me that he was initiated into Victoria Lodge on the 29th June
1901, was passed on 23rd November and raised on 28th December in that
year. I was further advised that he passed away on 17th October 1909 and
that he lived at the Pines, Penn Road, Wolverhampton.
morning in September I decided to try to find the Pines. I walked both
sides of the Road but could not find the residence. However, whilst in
the area, I paid a brief visit to the Chapel at the School. Inside I
found a brass plaque that commemorated John Rollings' donation of the
|The brass tablet inside the Royal School chapel.
To the Glory of God and in commemoration of the
Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
The Bells in this Tower were
presented by John Rollings of Wolverhampton. June 1897
I then wrote to David Moore, Secretary of Victoria
Lodge, who was most helpful. He sent me copies of the following:
the Lodge History from 1901-1951.
copies of the original Summons and the Present day ones.
copies of Extracts from the Lodge Minutes relating to John Rollings.
a copy of his Declaration Form.
My son Steven and I were invited to attend a meeting of
Victoria Lodge on Saturday 10th October 1998. A very warm welcome was
extended to us. I had the privilege of responding to the Visitors Toast.
Whilst at this meeting we were advised by Stan Potts that he thought
that the Pines was part of the Goldthorn Hotel site. The existing
Victorian house on the site is not the one in the picture we have in our
possession - although we cannot be sure that the picture we have is of
the house of John Rollings.
At this point I decided to seek the assistance of a good
friend of mine, David Muddiman, who has considerable experience in this
type of research. After he had made a few visits to the Library the
whole thing started to move in a different direction. He established
that John Rollings was my Great Uncle and not my Great Grandfather as
was originally thought. Benjamin Davis Rollings, his elder brother, was
my Great Grandfather.
Benjamin Davis Rollings
|It the middle of the last century the family lived on
the Coalfields, at the back of Eagle Works, which were situated
somewhere in a square bounded by Eagle Street, Steelhouse Lane, Cable
Street and Bilston Street, Wolverhampton.
The family lived there with
Joseph Rollings, their father, a chartermaster employing 32 men. (A
chartermaster is a person who is responsible for extracting coal from a
section of a mine, being responsible for the men's safety and welfare,
and for the maintenance of the workings etc.). And with their mother
In about 1890 the family moved to Powlett Street, where
Jane Rollings, my great great grandmother, lived at No. 59 with
Elizabeth Lisle (her granddaughter), Edward Lisle (her
son-in-law), Sarah Ann Lisle (her married daughter) and her
sons Edward Lisle (junior) and Joseph Lisle.
At No. 60 lived Benjamin Rollings with his
children Joseph, George, John, Henry and Kate. His housekeeper was his
sister-in-law, Mary Holding, who later became his second wife.
Benjamin's first marriage was to Catherine Williams, who was my great
grand mother. After Mary's death Benjamin was married yet again, this
time to Amelia Iveson, in September 1908.
At this stage I thought that Edward Lisle sounded quite
interesting. An "engine maker" it said on the census form. More about
When we received a copy of Benjamin's will, we
established that he was a Master Builder. Regrettably we cannot find any
details of his business but we did find that he lived from about 1900,
up to his demise in 1913, at Marlborough House, Balfour Crescent, off
Tettenhall Road. I wrote to the occupiers, a Mr. and Mrs. Brian Wooley,
who kindly permitted Sylvia, my wife, and me to have a look round. It
was furnished in the Victorian style and was rather like going back in
time. The original Victorian fireplaces were still in position in every
room. It really was quite splendid inside. The will and probate papers
also revealed that Benjamin had left the sum of just over £6,000. In the
will was a provision for the children of my Grandfather, Henry.
Regrettably the boys never received a penny.
In early December a copy of the will of John Rollings
arrived. We had established previously that he had left the sum of
approximately £13,000. In the 1891 Census his occupation was described
as a railway clerk, which on the assumption that he had not been left
any money, did not tie up with this wealth. The will revealed that, on
his death in 1909 he was a director of The Star Cycle Co. in
Wolverhampton, which later became the Star Engineering Company.
I noticed that one of the witnesses to the will was Mr.
Horace Scotthron George, of 28 Oaklands Road, Wolverhampton, who was a
tailor. Sylvia's mother used to visit a Miss George who lived in the
bungalow on the corner of Oaklands Road and Penn Road. It would seem
that he was this lady's father.
The will also told me that John Rollings was buried in
the church yard at Penn Fields. On the 6th November 1998 I visited St
Philip's Church in Church Road, Penn Fields. At the side of the church
was a small graveyard; in the fourth row down to the left of the path
are two graves, one being that of John Rollings and the other that of
Benjamin Davis Rollings.
||The family graves in St. Philip's
"Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade"
|The inscription on the left hand stone reads:
"In loving memory
of Mary beloved wife of Benjamin Rollings who died August 25th,
1908 aged 66 years.
Also of the above Benjamin Rollings who died
April 27th, 1913 aged 68 years. Thy will be done. Also of John Rollings who died November 21st, 1908 aged 37 years. Interred at
The inscription on the right hand stone reads:
memory of John Rollings who departed this life October 17th 1909
aged 59 years. Thy will be done.
Also Lucy the beloved wife of
the above. John Rollings who died Dec 1st, 1926 aged 71 years.
Also of Ann Swindley who died Dec 19th, 1909 aged 91 years"
On the same day I tried to find the house to which John
Rolling's widow Lucy had moved: Cutherston, Stubbs Road. But without
A close-up view of the left-hand
In March 2014 an interesting email was received from
Amanda Hamlyn (Family name Wain) advising me that she
had read my Family History, and found it most
interesting. Further to this, she advised that she was
also related to Joseph Rollings, being a descendant of
my Gt. Gt. Grandfather's sister Jane, making us third
cousins. Even more interesting, her early school days
were spent in Great Barr Birmingham, we found that we
both attended the same school though some 18 years
apart. Amanda sent the photograph of the graves below,
which are in Memory Lane Cemetery, Wednesfield. The
photograph is courtesy of Deborah Day, a descendant of
The inscriptions are as follows:
Grave No. 1
WHO DIED JULY 12TH 1865 AGED 54
THE BELOVED WIFE OF EDWARD LISLE
ALSO DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE
WHO DIED JUNE 29TH 1873 AGED 21 YEARS
Grave No. 2
LOVING MEMORY OF
WHO DIED FEB 7TH 1875
AGED 40 YEARS
RELICT OF JOSEPH
WHO DIED JULY 14TH 1898
AGED 77 YEARS
Jane Rollings was Joseph
The founder of the Star Cycle Company was Edward Lisle, who
was my great aunt Sarah Ann's husband. Star was one of the early
pioneers in the motor industry. The company produced its first motor car
in 1898. This was a modified version of the German Daimler Benz. It was
called the Star Benz. They quickly developed many other motor cars and
were actively involved in motor racing. The company became a public
company just before the turn of the century. In the early days they had
some very stormy Annual General Meetings. It would appear that they were
not paying a dividend and were using the profits, which came mainly from
cycle manufacture, to finance the development of their motor cars.
Edward Lisle married Elizabeth Rollings. They had two
children, Elizabeth and Yorath - who cannot be traced. His second wife
was Elizabeth's sister, Sara Ann Rollings (Sadie), and they had a total
of 13 children.
In early December the will of Lucy Rollings, the wife of
John Rollings, arrived. The bulk of the estate was left to Walter
Hamblett, the Bursar of the Royal Wolverhampton School. A
provision was also made for a stained glass window to be put in the
school chapel in memory of her late husband, John Rollings.
We established from the records that Peter Lisle, the
grandson of Edward, was still alive and living in Albrighton,
Wolverhampton. After speaking to him on the telephone I went to visit
him just before Christmas. At our meeting he kindly provided me with all
the family information he had, including the Lisle family tree. Also, he
owned a 1931 Star Comet 4 Seater Tourer 18/50 motor car, which he has up
for sale. This is because of his poor health in recent years. On January
5th, 1999 I am going over to see the car, with the view of trying to
Peter is a very interesting man. He was an engineer and
had a furnace designing and manufacturing company. He has been very
involved with researching the history of the Star. It has been my good
fortune to be allowed to copy his papers. He now spends his spare time
painting and the Queen Mother has agreed to sit for him to paint her
portrait in early 1999, which, when completed, will be hung at the Royal
Wolverhampton School. After the death of his father he and his elder
brother were sent to the school in 1937. In those days, he said, it was
a very hard life there and he would have rather been the poorest kid in
the street than be there.
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