The world is our tortoise.




By Eric Crookes.



My mother Ivy Leary and my father Leonard Crookes were married on Christmas Eve 1936. They met in the Ball Inn pub in Crookes where my mother worked behind the bar. Ivy was the eldest of twelve surviving children out of fifteen births and she paid the price for that. She was born at Oakes Green in Attercliffe, Sheffield, at that time a thriving industrial heartland on the edges of the city. Her parents Robert Anthony and Mary Alice appeared to have been pushed from pillar to post all their lives with their enormous family until in the 1930s they were housed by the local council in an old vicarage at: 90, Upperthorpe , a large house, because of their large family. When they were married my father was already in the Royal Navy having signed on in 1931 for a twelve years stint that was eventually to last until the end of the Second World War in 1945. In her turn my mother was also pushed from one dwelling place to another during the pre-war and war years living sometimes in Naval quarters in Devonport and Scotland during the pre-war years and in lodgings during the war years.

Ivy Crookes (nee Leary) (1917-1997)


My sister Patricia was born in 1939 and suffered the hardships of moving from one home to another as did my brother Leonard who was born in 1943. I was born immediately after the war in September 1945, my brother Anthony a year later and Alan a late arrival in 1955.

I can vaguely remember my dad being called back to the Navy in 1952 for the Korean emergency and the despair my Mother endured because of it.

I can recollect the instability of the Leary families during the 1950s and the stories my mother told us about her wayward kin in the 1930s and before and it made me afraid for my own future.

The history of the family as far as I know it is as follows.


The family of Robert Anthony Leary and Mary Alice Crump (1900-1979)


Mary Alice Leary (nee Crump) (1900-1979)

Bob Leary was born in Attercliffe which was a small township on the edge of the city of Sheffield in 1893. He appears to have had a traumatic upbringing in this thriving industrial community. His father was Robert Leary(1872-1935) and his mother Lily Cutts(1872-1930). The houses they lived in at that time were back-to-back with a common court-yard in the middle of a square of houses. The Learys and the Crumps shared a court-yard and were constantly at loggerheads with each other. Nonetheless, Bob and Alice were married around 1917 when my mother Ivy was born in Oakes Green.

Bob Leary worked as a miner at various pits, at that time he had to follow the work. He finally moved into the massive vicarage at Upperthorpe with his wife and bursting family during the 1930s. In 1937, shortly after she married my father and living in Naval Quarters in Devonport, my mother received a telegram saying that her father had died suddenly of a heart attack whilst working in the pit at Handsworth. My grand-mother Alice was left with a huge family and pregnant again.

Robert Anthony Leary.

Alice re-married in 1939 to Bob Leary's cousin Jack Cutts. They had another three children, though one Ronald died at only a month old. Alice and Jack Cutts moved into a house at Harworth Street, Walkley and I remeber in the 50s how the house was always full of her family and their children staying or visiting. Jack died around 1959 and Alice, my grand-mother in 1979.

The Children of this family were:

Ivy (1917-1997) married Leonard Crookes (1911-1986) and had five children Patricia, Leonard, Eric. Anthony and Alan.

Robert (-1998) married Edna and had 6 children Raymond, Robert, Arnold, Pamela, Glenys and Susan.

Anthony (1929-1996) married Ada and had three children, Christine, Malcolm and Neville.

Wilfred married Lily and had three children and married Agnes and had three children.

Evelyn (1933-1997) married Roy Shore.

Alice has two children.

John (1930-)

Arthur (1936-) married and has seven children.

Leonard (1938-) married Denise.

Ernest Cutts (1942-)

Sydney Cutts (1944-) married Angela.

Edith died about 1972 married Ernest Robinson and had two children Kathleen and a son.


The Family of Robert and Lily (nee Cutts) Leary.

Evidence of this branch of the Leary family in Sheffield comes to light in the census records of 1881. They show Anthony Leary, born in Gosberton, Lincolnshire and aged 38 years old. He is married to Mary Ryans who was born in 1846 in Chesterfield. All told they had five children, their third eldest Robert married Lily Cutts around 1892 in Attercliffe, Sheffield and together they had eight children. In the census record for 1891 Robert is reported as a miner and "minus a leg" though my mother was adamant that that was not not so. His age is given as 19 years.

Their eight children were:

John married Margaret.


George (1911-1943).

Ivy married Frank Williams.


Robert (1894-1937) married Mary Alice Crump (1900-1979).

Edith (1906-1933) married William Bellamy

Lily married Arthur Brown.

Mary married James Hutchinson.


The Family of Anthony and Mary (nee Ryans) Leary.

Anthony was the first link away from the Sheffield area that I discovered whilst researching my family history. The name Leary had always suggested Irish contacts but so far I have not established any connections with Ireland. The 1851 census in Gosberton, Lincolnshire shows the family of John and Mary Leary, the parents of Anthony, having originated in Ingoldmells, near Skegness. I can only assume that Anthony moved to the Sheffield area round about 1870 with his wife and two children, John Thomas (1866) and Elizabeth (1872) who were born in the Chesterfield area.

The 1891 census shows Anthony at the age of 49 and his wife Ann aged 50 living in Swan Street, Attercliffe. Ann is clearly his second wife since we know he was married to Mary Ryans. There is a step-daughter Lily Rodgers aged 13 listed. We can assume, therefore, that Ann had been previously married to a man called Rogers.

The children to Anthony and Mary Leary were:

John Thomas (1866-) married Christiana (1868-) had two children Alice (1888-) and John Anthony (1890-). There was a daughter to Christiana from a previous marriage called Mary Ann Wardle (1886-)


Elizabeth (1870-) married John Murphy (1870-)

Robert (1872-1935) married Lily Cutts (1872-1930) family listed above.

Mary Ann (1874-) married John Sargisson (1874-)

George (1878-)


The Family of John and Mary Leary

I had to go to the Lincolnshire Archives in the city of Lincoln to find the parents of Anthony Leary who I already knew was born in Gosberton in 1843. His family was easy to find in the 1851 census and gave me his father's name as John who was already 64 years old and his mother's name as Mary aged 48. His parents' birth place was listed as Ingoldmells of all places since that was the favourite holiday spot for my own parents, Len and Ivy Crookes.


Seven children were listed as follows:

James (1830-)

Charlotte (1832-)

Martha (1835-)

Thomas (1839-)

William (1840-)

Anthony (1843-) married Mary Ryans and their children are listed above.

Robert (1847-)

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