The World is our Tortoise.



By Eric Crookes.


My name is Eric Crookes and I was born on September 10th 1945 in the city of Sheffield in England. Sheffield is, I believe, the homelands of the Crookes family. Crookes with an "E" that is. I know nothing of the others.

The point about this web page is to satisfy a passion I have for the concepts of space and time. Time in the sense that we are products of our past and the future is a result of ourselves. Space in the sense of movement in space both in terms of physical movement and the transference of thoughts and ideas by whatever means.

I am therefore attempting to put to the world all that I know of myself, my family and my family's history at the risk of being boring or seeming conceited. Why indeed should I imagine anyone would want to know about me, simply because I existed.  

My father Leonard was born on January 27th 1911 in Stannington View Road at Crookes in Sheffield where his family had lived since around 1905. Leonard was the middle child of a family of twelve children, all but two were boys.

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His father Frank was born in Harvest Lane in the township of Sheffield in 1883 the second eldest in a family of six to Frank and Mary Crookes.

My father's mother, Lily, was also born in 1883 a late arrival to the second marriages of Henry and Elizabeth Bennett.

 And so I begin. My immediate family consists of my son Steven Eric who was born on January 25th 1973 to my first wife Grace (nee Short) in Sheffield and for all of his formative years he lived at 74 Greengate Lane in High Green, a suburb of Sheffield. He now lives in the small town of Ackworth in West Yorkshire and works as a Transport Manager with a distribution firm called McGregor in Doncaster. He is unmarried and has a passion for passenger transport and has a part share in several buses that are due for renovation.

For myself I have worked in Sheffield's steel and engineering industry all my life except for a spell in South Africa from 1970 to 1972.

I have spent much of my life in study making up for a poor education in my early years. I now have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities, a Master of Philosophy and a Master of Business Administration.

I have three brothers and a sister. My sister Patricia is the eldest and was born on January 11th 1939 in Sheffield. She divorced her former husband Robert Hanson with whom she had two sons Shaun and Wayne. Shaun is married to Julie and has three children and Wayne has one child.Sadly Pat, as we all called her, died in January 2008 just before her 69th birthday.

My eldest brother Leonard was born on October 19th 1943. He was married late in life to Gloria Tindall and had no children. He was short and in his later years looked a lot like my Dad. Leonard died in 2002.He had lived a relatively solitary life though he had a small circle of friends with whom he drank regularly in the pubs around Woodhouse. My next brother Anthony was born on November 4th 1946 and has been married three times. He has a son Anthony who was born in 1965 and a daughter Nicole who was born in 1993.


Alan is my youngest brother and was born on January 25th 1955. Alan is married to Vicky Barrett and has two children Danny born November 11th 1984 and Lee Anne who was born on January 3rd 1987.


Our Ancestors and before.

a) Leonard Crookes (1911-1986) and Ivy Leary (1917-1996).

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My father Leonard married my mother Ivy Leary (see ) on Christmas Eve 1936 after a lightening romance that lasted all their lives. My father was 25 years old and my mother a lass of 19. She was the eldest of twelve surviving children and my father the middle, also of twelve. Crookes was his name and he was born in Crookes amidst the working class lives of Sheffield's steel and cutlery industry that by this time had thrived through the nineteenth and into the twentieth century.

Leonard went to school at Lydgett Lane until he was fourteen and worked in several trades. The most important was property repairing. But there was no work in the area. At twenty years old he joined the Royal Navy signing on for twelve years. His long service log is by my side now and tells how he looked before I was born. He reached the rank of Petty Officer Stoker Mechanic. The log also shows the ships he served on through peace time and war.

He was an easy man, soft on the outside with a soft centre. He loved his wife and children and worked himself to death to support them. He died after several strokes at the age of 75 on February 19th 1986. My mother Ivy, whose history I will describe later, died quite suddenly on April 21st 1997.  From the outset she had endured a difficult life, her early years were spent with grand-parents because of the pressure of her motherís repeated pregnancies and her fatherís constant search for work in the coal mines in and around Sheffield.Then the first nine or ten years of her married life were spent without her husband, my dad, because he was in the Royal Navy fighting the war.

a) Frank Crookes (1883-1952) and Lily Bennett (1883-1936).

Frank Crookes was the son of Frank and Mary Gillyatt and was born in 1883 at Harvest Lane in Neepsend, Sheffield. Frank married Lily Bennett in 1903 at Saint Philip's Church in Sheffield and they made their home in Crookes, first in Bute Street and then on Stannington View Road also in Crookes. They spent the rest of their lives on this road. Lily died early at the age of 53 in 1936 whilst my Dad was away on naval service. Later Frank married Lily Cowen and they had one son called Philip.

††††††††††† The family of Frank and Lily Crookes is as follows:

Frank (1904-1963) married Louisa and had three children Frank, Dorothy and Eric.

Harry (1905-1987) married Marion and had one daughter Barbara.

Elsie (1906 -) married Edward Snape and had one son Anthony.

Fred (1908-1989) married Lily (1909-1989) and had one daughter Joyce.

Albert (1909-1985) married Florence and had three daughters Maureen, Margaret and Betty.

Leonard (1911-1986) married Ivy Leary (1917-1997) and had four sons and a daughter: Patricia, Leonard, Eric, Anthony and Alan.

Arnold (1917-) married Hilda and had one daughter Carol.

George (1915-1987) married Rosalie Green.

Edna (1926-1970) married Edward.

Philip (son to Frank and Lily Cowen)

There were two other sons who did not survive: Colin and Herman.


b) Frank and Mary Crookes (nee Gillyatt)

Little is known of my great-grand father Frank Crookes except that he was born in 1853 at Holme Lane in Grenoside, Ecclesfield into a family of ailing children, many of whom did not survive. In the census records for 1861 Frank can be found at the age of eight living in Owlerton on the outskirts of Sheffield along with his parents George and Ann and a small family. In 1871, after much searching he was found living in lodgings on Young Street off The Moor in Sheffield. His trade was a grinder as was most of the male members of the Crookes family in the nineteenth century.

The Gillyatt family in this line is almost legendary if only because of the great difficulty I had in tracking the family down. Great cousin Phyllis the daughter of Annie Eliza and Joseph Atkinson always talked about the Gillyatts and the Kelseys with affection and authority and I took almost everything that she told me as the truth.As far as she knew it thatís what it was.However as I became more and more involved with the pursuit and genealogical records became more available I was able to track the Gillyatts down.

The starting point was my great grandmother Mary Gillyatt.Phyllis said that she visited her grandmother regularly in the village of Waddington in Lincolnshire.The Gillyatts she visited were ďlandedĒ and involved in cattle hides and skins and Phyllis always spoke of them with pride and claimed the close relationship of Mary with them but she could never explain the connection.Also in the mix was Susanah Gillyatt who everyone knew had drowned in the Sheffield Flood of 1863.

The full story of the Gillyatts in Sheffield is told at

The family of Frank and Mary Crookes (nee Gillyatt) is as follows:

Jessie Ann (1879-1939) married Arthur Palfreyman and had six children: Arthur, Malin, Fred, Lucy, Ruth and Mabel.

Fred (1886-1935)

Frank (1883-1949) married Lily Bennett and had twelve children.

Malin (1885-1951) married Ada Gillyatt and had two daughters Minnie and Eleanor. Eleanor died whilst quite young and Minnie is alive and well in Lincoln.

Annie Eliza (1888-1967) married Joseph Atkinson (1883-1967) and had two children Phyllis and George. Both to the best of my knowledge are still alive though Phyllis is in her nineties.

Winifred died in infancy.


c) George and Anne Crookes (nee Crossland)

George Crookes was born in 1828 and was married to Anne Crossland who was born in 1832. Anne Crossland's family appear to have come from Skew Hill farm at Grenoside which is still standing on Fox Hill Road. When they married they lived at Holme Lane Farm at Grenoside where their first children were born. Like his father before him and his sons after George worked as a grinder in Sheffield's new and developing industries. He worked on farming implements such as shears and scythes since Wisewood, Owlerton and Ecclesfield were primarily agricultural areas at that time.

Anne's parents were William (born 1801) and Elizabeth (born 1802) and they lived and worked on the farm at Skew Hill. Ann had two brothers Joseph (born 1835) and John (born 1834) and a sister Mary (born 1840).

 George and Anne had the usual large family for the time. It was a fateful family though with only five out of the eleven reaching the age of twenty and beyond. George himself died in 1863 a date I found recently in the General Index here in Huddersfield.

The family of George and Ann is detailed here:

Arthur (1852-1868)

Frank (1853-1894) married Mary Gillyatt their family is listed above.

Herman (1854-1891) married Ann Turner who had a grocery shop in the Park district in Sheffield. They had one daughter Alice (1877-1955) who went on to be the mother of the Sharpe greengrocery business in Sheffield.

Malin (1856-1881) married Mary Darling (1856-1897) and had three children George, Mary and Emily all died in infancy.

Fanny (1858-)

Fred (1862-) married Ellen they had a daughter Amelia in 1891.

Albert (1864-1895) he was listed as a "hawker" in the 1891 census.

Hugh (1866-1868)

Lilley (1867-1888)

Emma (1868)

Willis (1870-1882)

The poignant tale of Malin Crookes and his wife Mary (nee Darling) is worth recording. Malin was a brother of Frank and Herman Crookes and was born in 1856 at Holme Lane. At the age of 21 he married his sweetheart, aptly named Mary Darling, They had three children in quick succession, George, Mary and Emily. George was named after his Grand-father George Crookes, whilst Mary after her mother. By 1881 George and the three children had all died leaving Mary to live a lonely life with her brother Rueben Darling until she died in 1897. Perhaps no one else alive is aware of this small unfortunate family. I feel a compulsion to raise their tragic lives to world wide proportions.

d) Joseph and Sarah Crookes.

The parents of George Crookes are to be found in the 1841 census of Sheffield.They were Joseph and Sarah.Because of the inaccuracies of the 1841 census I can only work out their birth years to within five years.Joseph was born around 1802 in the Bradfield parish and Sarah, whose maiden name was Beardshaw, was born in Rotherham in 1806..To the best of my knowledge there were four children to the marriage of Joseph and Sarah Crookes, two girls and two boys. The difficulty always with females is that they lose their identity on getting married and so they are sometimes difficult to track down later in their lives. But with modern technology and a little tenacity I managed to track them down.

The 1841 census shows the family living in the Wisewood area of Sheffield. This record, the first of its kind, did not show details of occupation and the age of each person was given to the nearest five years and so the information obtained is sometimes nothing more than a good guide. The 1851 census shows Joseph senior living alone with his two daughters and young George in Owlerton. Joseph had married their next door neighbour Betsy and was also living in Owlerton. Their descendants have been recorded quite accurately amongst my extended family history.

The family of Joseph and Sarah Crookes.

Elizabeth (1823-) married Job Smith

Joseph (1826-) married Betsy and had two daughters Sarah (1849-)and Amelia (b.1850) and two sons Joseph (1851-) and Bernard (1858-)

George (1828-) married Ann Crossland his family is listed above.

Ellen (1833-) married William Chapman.

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