The Family of William & Lily Finch Leicester

Lily Eliza Bailey (chr. Eliza Alice Bailey) was born 22nd March 1868 in St Pancras, London, to William George Bailey and Mary Ann Bustard. Her baptism on 13th April 1868, in the Parish of Saint Pancras, in the county of Middlesex, lists Eliza Alice Bailey as being born on Mar 22 1868 to William and Mary Ann Bailey and living on Burton Street. Profession is listed as French Polisher.

Baptism in the Parish of Saint Pancras, in the county of Middlesex
Lily was baptised as Eliza Alice Bailey

According to the 1881 British Census, Lily's parents were both born about 1837 in London and her father was a French Polisher.
It lists ELIZA as the second of six children and says that they lived at No 36 Burton Street, London.

William Finch Leicester
was born to Fanny and George F Leicester on 6th May 1866 in Lambeth, Surrey.

William Frederick John Finch
(William Finch Leicester)
b. 6 May 1866
Southwark, London
d. 28 March 1939

Lily Eliza Bailey
(christened Eliza Alice Bailey)
( Eliza, Lillie, Lily)
b. 22 March 1868
St Pancras, Middlesex
d. 6 December 1964

17 December 1888
St Saviour, Southwark, London


{Click here for William & Lily's family tree}

William and Lily met in the theatre in London where she was a dancer and he was a set painter. Lily was a chorus or gaiety dancer.

"Fondest love to my dear dear mother from Lily"
Headshot photo taken by Stafford Meeson
114 W 44th Street, New York

William was apparently John Tiller's scenic artist and painted all his back-cloths for his stage shows. Being a scenic artist seems to be a family occupation. William's Uncle John and Uncle Walter were both scenic painters (Fanny's brothers).

Newspaper Clipping 1887
Mr Finch Leicester's scenery for Theatre Royal is mentioned in this 1887 Western Times newspaper clipping
(courtesy of David Lynch)

William was only age twenty-one when this was printed in the Western Times newspaper in 1887: "Whilst speaking of changes, I am sure that everyone will learn with regret that the young but gifted scenic artist, Mr Finch Leicester, has returned to London. His productions have been generally admired, and I trust that the management will be fortunate in securing the services of one so able as Mr Leicester."

The marriage of Lillie Eliza Bailey and William Frederick John Finch (Artist) was registered on 17th December 1888 at St Saviour, London, and their address was 88, Barkham Terrace, Lambeth Road, Southwark, Surrey. Lily's father is listed as William George Bailey (French Polisher). William's father is listed as John Guard Finch (actor).

Marriage certificate of William Frederick John Finch and Lillie Eliza Bailey
Seventeenth December 1888

W. Finch Leicester is listed under "SCENIC ARTISTS" for "Pain's Great Spectacle", July 1898.
Kindly researched by David Lynch who says it is from a whole programme for entertainment held at
Alexandra Palace which is on a hill in the north on London.
He says, "In William Finch Leicester's time, it would have been near the edge of London, now it's several miles to countryside. The BBC started its television service from there."

The 1891 British Census shows William F. Leicester (indexed under William Dressor!) and Lily F. Leicester (both age 22) were living at 4 Brook Street, Lambeth. William is listed as a "Scenic Artist Sculp". Lillian is age 2 born in Lambeth and Edgar is age 4 months born in Southwark.They have a domestic servant called Sarah (age 14).The family of four were all born in London.

William and Lily are on the 1901 British Census under the names William and Eliza Finch (both age 33). It lists their address as 21 Vicarage Terrace, Southwark, Surrey. William is listed as being a "scenic artist". They already had six children by the time of the census: Lillian 12, Edgar 10, Dora 9, Effie 6, Adelaide 4, and Frederick 2. (Interesting to note that Clara Southbeer/Earle (widow) and her children were also living at 22 Vicarage Terrace in 1901. Clara is William's aunt as she and William's mother, Fanny, are sisters.)

William and Lily had a total of ten children from 1888 to 1911; Lillian (Lily), Edgar (Ted), Dora, Effie, Adelaide (Addie), Frederick (Fred), Walter (Wal), Lewis (Lew), Leslie (Les), and Hubert.

The 1911 Census says that the family lived at 30 Cromford Road, Wandsworth. Their home had six rooms including the kitchen. The surname "Leicester Finch" is used. Lily is listed as Lillian Leicester Finch. It says that they were married for twenty-three years. Nine of their ten children (all but Ted) were living there on April 3rd 1911 when the census was taken. Lily was twenty-two, Dora was nineteen, Effie was sixteen, Adelaide was fourteen, Frederick was twelve, Walter was nine, Lewis was seven, Leslie was three and Hubert one-month-old. Their niece, Florence Corito (age seventeen) was in the house at the time. William was still a scenic artist in the theatrical industry. Dora was a shop assistant at a Chemists and Effie was a student and part-time clerk.

Closeup of 1911 census
(cropped) of William and Lillian Leicester Finch
(in William's handwriting)

Taken in about 1915
STANDING: Fred & Wal
SEATED: Leslie, Lew, Hubert

When William got a very good job in Manchester, the family moved from London in about 1915. They moved to Barton Street, Moss Side, a suburb of Manchester. Seven of the ten children went with them to Manchester: Dora (23), Addie (18), Fred (16), Walter (14), Lewis (12), Leslie (8) and Hubert (4). Daughters Lily and Effie had married by this time. Ted had emigrated to New Zealand and that year he married his English fiancé, Violet.

All ten children married. Barton Street played a large part in their lives because Fred Vipond, Cis Tarr, Margaret Pownall, and Babs Jones also lived on Barton Street. Dora married Fred Vipond. Lew married Cis. Les married Margaret. Fred married Babs and followed Edgar to New Zealand. Walter became engaged to a girl who also lived on Barton Street but it was broken off and he later married Lilian. Walter followed Fred to New Zealand.

Three of William and Lily's sons emigrated to New Zealand (Ted, Fred, and Wal) because it was hard to find jobs in England. They each had families and lived in New Zealand's North Island for the rest of their lives.

Their daughter, Addie, married into the Aldous family when she married Frederick Aldous (II) in 1918. William and Lily both attended the wedding of their daughter, and their signatures can be seen on the wedding reception menu.

Their youngest son, Hubert, wrote to his father asking about his surname. Apparently, although he had been christened Leicester Finch, Hubert has always been called Hubert Leicester. Hubert wanted to find out the correct surname before he got married (31 July 1939). The addition of the name Leicester came from William's father (John Guard Finch) who used George Finch Leicester as his professional name. This is an extract (hand-written by Hubert) from that letter from William to his son Hubert, 15th February 1938, explaining that Finch was the original family name.

On the Manchester South death certificate it says: William Frederick John Finch otherwise Leicester died at the age of seventy-two, on 28th March 1939, at 20 Dell Lane, Withington, Manchester. His occupation is listed as Scenic Artist (Theatre). Lily Eliza Finch is listed as the widow of deceased at residence 50 Parkside Road, Moss Side.
Death certificate of William Frederick John Finch otherwise Leicester
Twenty-eighth March 1939

Soon after her husband passed on, Lily went to live with her daughter, Addie, and her family at Oaklands in Whaley Bridge. She had a bedroom downstairs, near the front door. Lily later moved with Addie, Fred and Rosalind to a flat on Broadwalk in Buxton.Around 1959/60, Lily moved to Manchester to live with her daughter, Effie, and her family (Nora and her children Keith and David). David become very fond of his Great Grandma who he called Grandma (since Effie, his real Grandma was known as Nana).

David recalls: "Despite her great age she remained very active up until the last couple of years and still went shopping by bus into Manchester city centre every Thursday on her own when she was 94! I remember this for some strange reason because she went on the number 94 bus and it stuck in my mind. She was a tiny woman by this time - standing only about 5 ft with very white hair. She invariably wore black or dark blue and for some reason I can vividly remember her shoes. I don't know how you would describe them but they were black, patent leather, had a chunky heel about 1 1/2 inches high and they laced up the front".

Lily died peacefully in bed on 6th December 1964, at age ninety-six, at the home of Effie, Nora and her children. The family were gathered around her bedside. The Nov/Dec 1964 death index lists Lily E. Finch age 96 in Manchester. (vol 10E page 42)

Rosalind Leach and David Fender remember attending Lily's funeral.

Lillian Finch Leicester (Lily)
b. 25 September 1888


Edgar George Finch Leicester (Ted)
b. 23 April 1890
Southwark, Surrey
(Photo taken in 1948)


Dora Finch Leicester
b. 1892
Southwark, Surrey


Effie Finch Leicester
b. 14 August 1894


Adelaide Phyllis Finch Leicester
b. 4 December 1896



Walter Southbeer Finch Leicester
(Walt, Wallie, Wal)
b. 1901
Wandsworth, London


Lewis Finch Leicester (Lew)
b. 23 June 1903
Wandsworth, London


Leslie Finch Leicester (Les)
b. 19 July 1907
Wandsworth, London


Hubert Leicester Finch
b. 18 February 1911
Wandsworth, London
Walthamstow, East London