Dennis Yeats Wheatley

A talk by Jean Wilkinson to the fifth Dennis Wheatley Convention

I am not sure how much DW knew about his ancestry. I think that he was interested in it but because it was much harder to research before computers and also because he was very busy writing, time was limited. Therefore most of his information was picked up from personal memories and from relatives.

I have compared what I have discovered with what DW wrote in "The Young Man Said". I have found this extremely valuable but have found a few discrepancies that I will come to later.

Show photos of house, church and baptism record.

Dennis Yeats Wheatley was born at 10 Raleigh Gardens, Brixton Hill. In his memoirs he mentions that his parents were married at Christ Church, Streatham but does not mention his baptism/christening. Both he and his brother and sister were baptised at Christ Church. When Steve and I visited the church recently unfortunately it was closed but if one could gain access and climb the bell tower one would have a very good view of Clinton House, which is directly opposite the church. One wonders whether Dennis' parents had aspirations to own this large house. Probably not but who knows? What a shame this once grand house is now in a very dilapidated condition.

Show photo of Freedom of City document.

One other document I discovered regarding DW was his Freedom of the City Admission Papers dated 08/01/1914 when he became an apprentice to Robert Gray for a term of 4 years. It makes quite interesting reading. "He shall not commit fornication nor contract Matrimony. He shall not play at cards, dice, tables or any other unlawful games. He shall not haunt taverns or playhouses."

Show photo of Admission to Vintners Hall document.

The final document I discovered regarding DW was his admission into the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, London, by servitude dated 11th of July 1918.

Albert David Wheatley (father)

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Show 2 school records.

Born 24th January 1872 at 19 Whittaker St., Belgravia, London. Probably named David after his uncle David Wheatley who was "Ready Money's" brother. I have found 2 school records for him. He attended St. Paul's Infant's School, Westminster from the age of 3. He was there with his elder sister Eleanor (Nell) and brother Jesse.

This is the first discrepancy in the memoirs as on Page 19 Dennis states "Nell and Jess, poor little devils, were dragged into the business without any schooling, as soon as they were old enough to be made use of." I guess they probably only had a few years at school. Interestingly on the school record it states that "Ready Money" was a butterman.

Show 1881 census record.

By 1881 the family had moved to 4 Little Bruton St., in the parish of St. George, Hanover Sq. and "Ready Money" is described as a Provisions Dealer employing 5 men and 2 boys. As well as "Ready Money" and his wife Sarah (Hart) there were now 6 children - Ellen (Nell), Jesse, Berty aged 9, Dennis, Charles and Etty. Also in the household there was Mary Wheatley, "Ready Money's" widowed mother aged 61 and born in Huntingdonshire, (DW's great grandmother), Herbert Killingworth, nephew of Ready Money, aged 15 and born in Huntingdonshire and Etty Hart, visitor unmarried aged 20 born in Faversham, Kent. (She is probably Sarah's niece).

Show 1891 census record.

By 1891 the family were at 30 Mount St., Mayfair. "Ready Money" is described as a Wine Merchant, Nell is a bookkeeper, Jess is a cheesemonger, Albert is a wine merchant's clerk, Dennis is a broker's clerk and the two youngest Charles and Etty are probably at school.

Show marriage record.

On the 4th of March 1896 Albert married Florence Elizabeth Harriett Baker and DW was conceived very quickly as he was born just over 10 months later. A brother for DW, Albert John, was born in late 1901 but died on the 13th of June 1902 aged 8 months. He was buried on the 3rd of July 1902. DW states in the memoirs that he died of whooping cough.

Show Albert John's baptism and burial records.

Here we come to a rather puzzling discrepancy in the memoirs. DW states on page 41of the memoirs "Some fifteen months after I was born a baby brother appeared on the scene and was christened Jack. I have no memory of him as he died within a year or so of his birth." Albert John was actually born when DW was nearly 4 years old and died when he was nearly 4 and a half so it is a little surprising that he has no memory of him.

On the 14th of April 1904 DW's sister Florence Muriel was born. She never married and died on her 76th birthday the 14th of April 1980.

Albert David Wheatley died on the 4th of May 1927 aged 55 years. His address was Clinton House, Palace Rd., Streatham but he died at Streatham Manor, Leigham Avenue, Streatham. He left £13,555. 4s. 9d.

Florence Elizabeth Harriett Baker

Show baptism record and photos of St. Marks.

DW states in the memoirs page 28 that his mother was born in 1875 but she was born in October 1874 in Kennington, Lambeth, London and was baptised at St. Mark's, Kennington on the 1st of November 1874. The family were living at 16 Studley Rd., Kennington and her father was described as an "Iron Merchant".

Show burial record and administration record of William Edward Henry Baker.

She had two elder brothers - William Edward Henry Baker (Willie) born in 1863 and Alfred John Baker born in 1872 (known as wicked uncle Johnny). William married Lizette who DW described in the memoirs as a South American ballerina. He died in 1899 at the age of 35 in Camberwell House, Peckham, London but his address was 12 Cyril Mansions, Battersea. Camberwell House, 30-35 Peckham Rd., SE5 was a "lunatic asylum". In the memoirs page 35 DW is talking about WYB's attitude to Florence wanting to marry Albert. "WYB cannot have been pleased, as his only daughter, with Willie dead and Johnny going rapidly to the bad, she was in a fair way to becoming a considerable heiress." Of course we now know that Willie was not dead. I cannot find a record of his marriage or a record of him on the 1891 census. He was described on the administration of wills as a traveller so maybe he married abroad and was abroad in 1891.

Alfred John as documented in the memoirs was pensioned off to Northern France.He died on the 20th of February 1914 and was buried in France probably Dinard, Brittany.

In 1879 the family moved from Kennington to Aspen House, Streatham Hill On the census of 1881 Florence was living there with her parents and brothers.

In 1891 Florence was living at Aspen House, Streatham Hill with her parents and her mother's unmarried sister Elizabeth Herbert.

Married 1896 - widowed in 1927.

Florence married Louis Arthur Newton in 1930 and became Lady Newton. He pre-deceased her and she died on the 17th of February 1955. Her address was 53 Wildcroft Manor, Putney. Probate was granted to DW. Her effects were £15,255. 7s. 8d.


Dennis "Ready Money" Wheatley

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Show Earith & Bluntisham Village Signs.

Show 1841 Census Record for Haddenham

DW describes him as easy-going and generous.

In the memoirs DW states that he was born in St. Neots, Cambridgeshire. Actually St. Neots was in Huntingdonshire when Ready Money was born. I can understand why he believed this as the Wheatleys came from the hamlet of Earith in the parish of Bluntisham, Huntingdonshire. Ready Money's parents were Daniel Wheatley and Mary Ann Killingworth. Daniel was born in Earith on the 6th of June 1817 and Mary Ann was also born in Earith in about 1820 (she was baptised on 21st April 1820). They were married at Bluntisham on the 30th of January 1838. In 1841 they were living in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire with their two children, James aged 2 who was born in Earith and David aged 3 months born in Haddenham. Daniel is a wheelwright. Later that year baby David died. In late 1842 they had another baby whilst in Haddenham and named him David. By about 1847 they were back in Earith where their fourth son Jesse was born.

Some time between 1847 and 1848 they came to London and were living in Lambeth when Ready Money was born in the last quarter of 1848. Whether the elder boys came to London or stayed in Earith with relatives I do not know. Tragedy struck the family when Ready Money was about 6 months old. His father Daniel died of cholera in July 1849 in Lambeth. He was brought back to Bluntisham and buried on the 23rd of July.

Show 1851 Census record.

Mary Ann moved back to Earith and became a baker to support her young children. By 1851 her eldest son James was apprenticed to and living with his childless uncle and aunt John and Elizabeth Wheatley in Bluntisham. John was a builder and joiner. Ready Money aged 2 was living with his mother and other two brothers David and Jesse. They lived next door to Mary Ann's parents John Killingworth who was a boatwright and his wife Mary.

Show 1861 Census record.

In 1861 at age Ready Money aged 12 was still living in Earith and working as an agricultural labourer. Mother Mary Ann was still a baker, brother David was a builder and brother Jesse was also an agricultural labourer.

I am not sure what became of David and Jesse, as I have been unable to find them after the 1861 census. Maybe they went abroad.

I can't find James in 1861 but in 1863 he turns up in London and married Frances Puzey in Shoreditch. In 1871 they are living in Walworth, London with 3 children and mother Mary Ann. James and Frances have 8 children and he lives to the ripe old age of 86 dying in 1925.

Going back to his brother Ready Money, I am not sure when he came to London but DW states in the memoirs that he ran away at an early age.

He married Sarah Hart in Camberwell, London in 1867 at the young age of 19.

In 1871 he was a cheesemonger journeyman aged 24 living at 19 Whittaker St., Belgravia with Sarah and children Nell and Jesse.

In 1881 as mentioned before he was at 4 Little Bruton St., Mayfair and in 1891 as mentioned he was at 30 Mount St., Mayfair.

Show 1901 census record for Westgate-on-Sea.

On page 24 of the memoirs DW says that by 1901 his grandfather would have been just over 60 and his doctor advised him to take a less active part in business and move to the sea. Infact he was just over 50 years old. By 1901 he had taken his doctors advice and moved to Springfield, Hengist Rd., Westgate-on-Sea, Kent and was living with Sarah and his two daughters. In 1911 he was at the same address, which had 10 rooms. Sarah and the daughters are also there. It states on the census that he and Sarah had 7 children, 6 living and 1 dead. I do not know anything about the child who died.

Ready Money died on the 27th of July 1918 at Springfield, Westgate-on-Sea. Probate was granted to his sons Albert, Dennis and Charles (he had fallen out with Jesse according to the memoirs). Effects £17,747. 10s. 1d.

Sarah Wheatley (nee Hart)

You may remember from the memoirs that DW did not like his grandmother at all and describes her as "a rigid disciplinarian, straight-laced to the point of fanaticism and extremely mean.

She was born around 1839 in the village of Lower Halstow, near Sittingbourne in Kent. She was around 9 years older than Ready Money. Her father was an agricultural labourer named Thomas and her mother was named Sarah. She came from a large family of 9 children. On the 1841 and 1851 censuses she was living in Lower Halstow. I have been unable to find her on the 1861 census a few years prior to her marriage. DW states in the memoirs that he thought she was a cook in one of the big houses that his grandfather served.

She died on the 15th of June 1923 at the age of 84 at Springfield, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent. Probate was granted to son Albert. Effects £253. 6s. 3d.

William Yeats Baker (WYB)

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On page 25 of the memoirs DW stated that he never heard WYB talk of his father and so he believed that he was illegitimate. DW stated that his grandfather was born in 1938 in Wandsworth.

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In fact he was born on the 20th of July 1836 at Clapham Road, Kennington, London to Elias Baker and Marian or Mary Ann. He was baptised at St. Mary Newington on the 5th of February 1837. His father described himself as a brewer.

Show 1841 Census

In 1841 he was living at Henry St., Kennington with his parents and siblings.

Show 1851 Census

In 1851 at age 14 he was a butcher's boy living at 4 Cross St., Kennington with his parents and 6 siblings.

On the 6th of February 1859 at the age of 22, he married Mary Ann Herbert at St. Marks, Kennington.

Show 1861 Census

In 1861 aged 24 he was a mercantile clerk living at 34 Hatfield St., Southwark with his wife Mary Ann.

Show 1871 Census

In 1871 he was a clerk in an Iron Works living at 16 Studley Rd., Lambeth with Mary Ann and his elder son William Edward Henry Baker aged 7.

Show photo of Aspen House

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In 1879 he had come up in the world both literally and figuratively and was living at Aspen House, Streatham Hill where he died aged 80 on the 11th of August 1916. I found an article in the Streatham Society quarterly magazine stating that the site of Aspen House was where the Arriva Bus Garage is now situated. It mentions WYB as being the grandfather of DW.

Probate was granted to DW's father Albert David Wheatley and George James Ingram, gentleman (whoever he might be). Effects £70,491. 9s.

This brings me on to the family vault of WYB, which is surmounted by a pink granite obelisk in West Norwood Cemetery.

Photos of Memorial


"The Family Vault of William Yeats Baker of Aspen House, Streatham Hill. In Loving Memory of Mary Ann wife of the above who departed this life December 10th 1864 aged 60 years also of William Edward Henry elder son of the above who died 20th March 1899 aged 35 years. Also of the above named William Yeats Baker who departed this life August 11th 1916 aged 80 years. Beloved and missed by all who knew him."


"Albert John Wheatley grandson of WY Baker who died June 13th 1902 aged 8 months. Also of Alfred John Baker son of WY Baker died and buried at Dinard, France. Also of Albert David Wheatley dearly bellowed husband of Florence EH Wheatley and father of the above Albert John who died May 4th 1927 aged 55 years. Gone but not forgotten."


Also of Florence Lady Newton widow of Albert David Wheatley who died 17th February 1955 aged 81 years. Also of Dennis Yeats Wheatley elder son of the above and of Albert David Wheatley and grandson of William Yeats Baker who died 10th November 1977 aged 80 years. Also of Florence Muriel Wheatley daughter and sister of the above who died 14th April 1980 aged 76 years. R.I.P."

Mary Ann Baker (nee Herbert)

Born on 29th November 1834 in St. Giles without Cripplegate, London. She was the daughter of John and Mary Ann. Her father was a porter and they lived at White Cross St. She was baptised at St. Giles in 1837 along with her younger sister Jane. She died aged 60 on 10th of December 1894. I know she had an unmarried sister who lived with WYB after Mary Ann died.


Daniel Wheatley

As mentioned Daniel was born in 1817 in Earith, Huntingdonshire. He was the son of Daniel Wheatley and Elizabeth Gosling who were married in Bluntisham on the 18th of November 1804. His occupation was a carpenter and wheelwright. Unfortunately I have not yet discovered where Daniel senior was born. He was a cooper and wheelwright. I know he died before 1841 census as Elizabeth was listed as a widow. Elizabeth was born about 1774 in Bluntisham and baptised in 1775. She died in March 1847 and was buried at Bluntisham.

Mary Ann Wheatley (nee Killingworth)

Mary Ann was born about 1820 in Earith and baptised 21st April 1820 in Bluntisham. She was the daughter of John Killingworth a boatwright and Mary Taylor who were married in 1817 in Bluntisham. John was born in Bury, Huntingdonshire and Mary was a local girl born in Earith. As stated before Mary Ann came to London and was living with her oldest son James in 1871 and 1891 and with Ready Money in 1881. She died aged about 80 in 1899 in Southwark, London. It is likely that she saw Dennis as a baby; I like to think so anyway.

Thomas Hart

Thomas was born around 1802 in Newington near Sittingbourne, Kent. He died in 1861 in Lower Halstow, Kent.

Sarah Hart

I have not found their marriage yet so I do not know her maiden name. From census records she was born around 1805 also in Newington. She lived to a good age of 85 dying in 1890 in Kent.

Elias Baker

Elias Baker was born in the village of Uffcolme near Tiverton, Devonshire in about 1809. He was a brewer. I am not sure when he came to London. I have found a marriage to a Marian Harris in St. George, Hanover Sq. London in 1831. As Elias and Marian's first child Caroline was born in 1832 this might well be the right marriage but I am not certain. I somehow expected Marian's surname to be Yeats. They settled around the Lambeth area. Elias died in 1868 aged 59 and was buried in Nunhead Cemetery, Linden Grove, Southwark.

Marian or Mary Ann Baker

On records she is sometimes referred to as Marian or Mary Ann. From census records I know that she was born in Walworth Common, London around 1810. I have not found any information on her after the 1861 census.

John Herbert and Mary Ann Herbert

As yet I have not found out any information about DW's maternal grandmother's parents except from her christening record (see above).

Well DW I have not found the Pevensey John Wheatley who your father claimed as his ancestor nor have I found any connection between WYB and the Earls of Warwick but I hope you approve of your good hard-working tradesman ancestors.

© Jean Wilkinson 2012