This information was submited by Sheila Yeo.
The Westaway name is registered with the Federation for One Name Societies. At the moment it is in my name Mrs Sheila Yeo, Newton Abbot, Devon. This was done solely so that the Westaway name was registered but it is hoped that one day all of you will join together to make it a proper affiliated society.
I first became interested in the Westaways when my grandmother died at the tender age of 97 in 1991. Whilst she was ill she told me her mother was a Westaway and had lived in Newton Abbot. This fascinated me because prior to this I knew nothing about her roots. The day of her funeral I went to London and ordered her birth certificate and my love for history started. Her legacy to me was the best thing that happened in my life as I have found so many friends who share similar interests.
At this time I linked with Ron Upham and Bob Westaway and discovered the Westaway Chronicle, a brilliant base for all our Westaway work. When I found a burial for William Westaway son of Richard at Sampford Courtenay I had disproved Bob's work and I felt I had to find evidence that would prove the Inwardleigh/Sampford Courtenay links. Working with Ron, Bob and Shirley in Australia between us we amassed masses of information on the family, but no evidence of the early roots.
Four years ago, whilst visiting the Society of Genealogist, I picked up a book on the Reddaway family. In it was clear evidence that someone had access to early Westaway wills. I phoned the author of the book who lived in Bristol, and he told me that John Took Westaway, (from the Inwardleigh branch of Westaways) had collected a number of Westaway, Langmead and Reddaway wills and that these had been filmed and were stored at Salt Lake City. Ruth Clark, a Westaway descendent of the Ashburton Westaways, lives in Nottingham near the Mormon main Office and she ordered the film and photocopied all the early Westaway wills that were on the reel. There were 56 in total and it was like winning the football pools. I still have many to link in such as Gilberts, but my main aim was to try and solve the mystery of William for Bob Westaway. This we were able to do.
As you all probably know Bob, became ill in the last few years, and when he went into a nursing home, his daughter sent me all his working documents on the early Westaways. In this was a letter from a Mr Amery saying he had a 16th century chest full of Westaway wills etc relating to the Belstone branch. I looked his address up and tracked him down to Wendover in Buckinghamshire. He was able to send me copies of some of the missing wills on that branch of the family.
Meanwhile, I had made contact with Nicola Aldridge, who was fascinated with the family. She has done an amazing amount of work extracting the St Catherines House Westaway entries and indexes these, plus the post 1858 wills. Using this we were able to solve many problems. Recently she has done so much work on the Westaway Jigsaw, putting together all our research etc. She has done some excellent in depth research on different Westaway families and everything she does is so very thorough.
The Westaways have so many people working in different ways. Many years ago, Paul Ashton came to visit me from New Zealand. I'll never forget him arriving with a sheepskin rug as a 'thank you' present. Since then there have been several visits including his Mum and Dad. Paul is the computer expert, he, with a friend managed to put the chronicle into a PC format and I have a copy of this if anyone wants it. He has also worked hard to keep us all together, including the new site.
Then we have Ed Somers, who has kept us all going with his newsletters etc. Whilst mainly linked to the Bradworthy Westaways, he has kept everyone's enthusiasm alive and was the first one to use the internet to link everyone together.
Shirley Westaway, again, has done an amazing amount of work especially on the Australian branches. She has amassed so much information. Linking with Ron and in latter years with myself much has been achieved.
There are so many people that are involved that I can't mention them all here, but thought if I gave you a general background then anyone who has only recently become involved with understand what has evolved.
Yesterday, I was so delighted to receive a letter from Mrs Loveday Coombes. Anyone who has read the Westaway Chronicle will realise she was also one of the founder members and worked with Ron and Bob. This is the first time that I have had contact with her and it was the result of the new site. A friend of hers found it on the internet. She does say how delighted she is to see how far the Westaway research has progressed and is going to join the net.
I thought I would try and list some of the holdings we have for any newcomers.
What we need, is a list of names and addresses and which Westaway branch they are researching.
Whilst I am convinced all the Westaways originate from one source back in the 15 century, they then sub divide.
This is very brief and needs someone to update it with the 18/19 century descendents. My own line comes from South Tawton, but in spite of all the wills this has proved to be the most difficult line to prove. During the 1700's the parish clerk only recorded the father's name and I have had to try and use other sources such as poor law records to plot the tree. I am stuck at William and Elizabeth in the late 1700's. Which William was it ? Do I claim to be related to the infamous William Searle Westaway. Unfortunately it is looking more and more likely.
I hope this helps to give a general background of what has been achieved by us all.
Sheila Yeo, May 1999