The Wass Family

A boy named 'Laindon'

While researching into Laindon’s history, I discovered that a baby boy born on 3rd December 1904 was actually given the name ‘Laindon’ as one of his middle names. His family were active in the Salvation Army and lived in Laindon for approximately 14 years, before leaving Laindon for Toronto, Canada in 1919.

Although I centre this story around Philip Wilfred Laindon Wass, I write of what I have learnt about his family and attach a few photographs that were taken in Laindon during their time there.

Philip’s father, Samuel Wass was born in Colchester in 1857. Samuel, a Salvation Army Officer was employed as a clerk in an Assurance Office. He married Sarah Ann Nevard in 1879 and they had three children, Samuel William Wass, James Ebenezer Randall Wass and Abigail Ivy Wass. The family lived at various addresses around the country. Sarah died in 1898.

In 1899 Samuel married Julia Kate Ward. They had three children. Freda Amy Wass was born in 1900 and Arnold John Rhys Wass in 1901. Philip was born in 1904 in West Ham although the family apparently moved to Laindon very shortly after and named their baby son accordingly.  The family were active in the Salvation Army in Laindon which met at the Salvation Army Citadel in Northumberland Avenue.

I have been unable to establish which school the children attended in Laindon although I now know that from the age of approximately 10½, Philip took the train each day from Laindon Station to travel to school in London.

According to the 1911 Census, the family’s address was ‘Morningside’, Station Road, Laindon (later renamed ‘Laindon High Road’). The house ‘Morningside’ appears in some of the photographs. Sadly, Julia Kate died in 1916.

Samuel remarried in 1917 to Mahala Amelia Perry. Their address according to the 1918 Electoral Register was then ‘Pen-y-Bryn’, Laindon. In 1919, after 14 years in Laindon, Samuel travelled to Toronto in Canada with his wife Mahala, and three of his children, Abigail (Ivy), Arnold (Rhys) and Philip.

Although the family settled in Toronto, Samuel and Mahala sailed back to England in June 1921 on the S.S. Melita.   Maybe Mahala hadn’t taken to life in Canada and wanted to go home because later in October of that year, Samuel returned to Toronto alone on the S.S. Minnedosa. Samuel died in Toronto during 1923 aged 66.

The other members of his family settled in Canada and continued to be active in the Salvation Army. Their descendants now live in various parts of North America.

Philip did return to England for a while during the last war but returned to Toronto which had become his permanent home.

Having discovered Philip Wilfred ‘Laindon’ Wass’s story, I researched a little about the Salvation Army and write below a short outline of its beginning.

The Salvation Army was formed in 1865 by a Methodist Minister called William Booth, although the name ‘Salvation Army’ wasn’t adopted until 1878. Members became ‘soldiers’ and ministers became ‘officers’. Booth himself became “General”. Women members were on a par with men. The movement became very popular and expanded so rapidly that in 1880 a Commissioner and seven young women were sent to work in New York City.

In 1882 two young men met by chance in Ontario and finding common ground suggested a branch of the Salvation Army should be opened in Canada. After an urgent call, Captain Charles Wass was sent to Toronto. Apparently he was a bearded gentleman who came from a modest Lincolnshire mining family. He  became the founder of the Toronto branch.

Samuel Wass from Laindon arrived in Toronto some 37 years later in 1919 and although I haven’t yet traced a family connection, I can’t help but believe they were related.

The Salvation Army continued to expand and by the early 1900s had branches in 36 countries.

The Canadian branch had a large and very active band, the history of which is well worth reading. Including a report of a tragedy at sea in 1914 when the “Empress of Ireland” carrying the band, was struck by the Norwegian collier “Storstad” in the St Lawrence River and sank within 14 minutes. They had just set out for Liverpool and only 8 of the band survived.

More in depth details can be found on the following link.

Although I have been unable to trace the house named ‘Pen-y-Bryn’, I have traced the position of ‘Morningside’ in the records. This 6 roomed house stood between St Nicholas Lane and Nichol Road, about a ten minute walk from Laindon Station.  In later years, the house was used as a house cum shop run by the Butler family. (See article called ‘Morningside’). The 1949 Electoral Register shows one of my classmates then aged 3  and her family, (the Bartley family) were also living there.  The Bartley family were re-housed to Devonshire Road around 1953.  The Hayden family then moved into the property until Morningside was demolished in 1970.

Philip married Phyllis Birch in 1926 and they had two children, Lawrence and Judy.

Incidentally, Philip had a lifelong interest in city planning and served for a while on a planning board in Toronto. He passed his interest onto his grandson Greg by sending him an article on New Towns while he was in college, which led on to become his profession. 

Philip Wilfred Laindon Wass remained active in the Salvation Army throughout his life and died in 1991 aged 86, leaving us with the story of the time his family spent in Laindon together with those amazing photos taken very early last century when Laindon was just a tiny village consisting of a few dwellings on unmade roads.

Many thanks to Philip’s son Lawrence for sharing his memories and to his grandson Greg, for his kind permission to publish the photographs.

Post script.

I first contacted Greg Wass on 15th October 2012 after seeing some photographs of his family that had been taken in Laindon. He kindly agreed to me using the photos and writing an article about his family. Greg’s dad Lawrence who was in hospital at the time, was happy to add a few of his memories. I finished the article and sent it to Greg for his approval. This afternoon (8th November 2012) I received the following reply:

(Nina.  I want to thank you for writing this article, it is very meaningful for me and my family. Lawrence died of a heart attack yesterday (Wednesday) morning. My wife Marina and I were able to see him for a couple hours this past Sunday, and he read your article and looked at the photos. It is one of the last memories we have of him, and it is a good one. Your article and interest in our family history has made us want to visit Laindon sometime in the near future (next few years). We will be sure to get in touch ahead of time if we make the trip. Thanks so much. Greg Wass).

I can hardly believe that all this happened in just under four weeks.  Somehow I believe it was just meant to be.

Editor:  Dorothy Wass, wife of Rhys Wass, 1928 – 2013 (Son of Samuel Wass b. 1891 and Grandson of Samuel Wass b. 1857 ) has very kindly provided some extra photographs and family tree information which date back to before the family moved to Laindon. Dorothy lives in New York State, USA.  To view, please click on the following link:-  Link to Further information on the Wass Family

Philip Wilfred Laindon Wass - Laindon 1906
Greg Wass.
Philip's father - Samuel Wass
Greg Wass.
Philip's mother - Julia Kate Wass
Greg Wass.
Philip and Freda - 'Morningside', Laindon 1907.
Greg Wass
Arnold (Rhys) - 'Morningside', Laindon 1907.
Greg Wass.
From left - Rhys, Freda and Philip - Laindon 1913.
Greg Wass.
The Wass family - 'Morningside', Laindon 1913. From left - Freda, Samuel, Philip, Julia Kate, Abigail Ivy, Rhys.
Greg Wass.
Philip - Laindon 1918.
Greg Wass.
Philip and Freda - Laindon 1915. (Philip wearing his football outfit).
Greg Wass.
Philip - somewhere in England 1943.
Greg Wass.
Philip with his children, Lawrence and Judy - Toronto 1948.
Greg Wass.
Philip Wilfred 'Laindon' Wass - 1967.
Greg Wass.

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  • Dorothy Wass, wife of Rhys Wass, 1928 – 2013 (Son of Samuel Wass b. 1891 and Grandson of Samuel Wass b. 1857 ) has very kindly provided some extra photographs and family tree information which date back to before the family moved to Laindon. These can be viewed by clicking on the link provided just above the first photograph in the above article. Dorothy lives in New York State, USA.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (21/02/2018)
  • I am related to this family by my husband Rhys Wass. We live in the USA.
    I have met the other Wass families years ago, in Canada.
    I have also searched the Wass families back to Earls Colne, in Colchester, England.
    You can contact me if you wish.

    By Dorothy Wass (04/01/2018)
  • Probably not much help to anybody, but I vaguely recall being at LHR school with someone named Bartley. This would have been the period 1958-62 and having read Nina’s last comment, the name “Teddy” she mentions is ringing a bell. For now that is all that I can add. 

    By Donald Joy (11/01/2016)
  • Does anyone know what happened to the Bartley family of Devonshire Road, Laindon?

    By Shirley Tamplin (10/01/2016)
  • Charles and Lilian Bartley moved from Morningside to No. 65 Devonshire Road in the early 50s.   Their daughter Linda was a classmate of mine.  She had an older sister, Lilian, an older brother, Alfie and a younger sister, Rose.

    Linda had several cousins who lived in the Devonshire Road area.  I believe their names were, Brenda, Pat, Yvonne and Edward (Teddy).       

    Linda married Derek Gordon and they had two daughters. Sadly, both Linda and Derek died several years ago.  Her sister, Lilian, married George Burdett and they had two children.  Her brother, Alfie, married Maureen Perry.  I was told that Alfie very sadly died in a road traffic accident back in the 80s.  I’m not sure about her younger sister, Rose, but I believe she is still around and well.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (10/01/2016)

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