Elizabeth Haymon nee Mears

Elizabeth Haymon c1918
From the private collection of Vanessa Maskell
Elizabeth Haymon c1930
From the private collection of Vanessa Maskell

My Grandmother Elizabeth Haymon was the eldest child of Charles and Louisa Mears; she was born in Eastbourne in June 1888. Her father was a shopkeeper and greengrocer the patriarch of the Brighton Mears family.

She had an extremely hard life; her husband Stephen Haymon died in 1932 living her with seven children to support, the eldest Bertie was only 13 years old. She survived the slums of Cavendish Street, I remember when I was very young she told me the rats were as big as cats and that she used a WW1 bayonet to kill them.

Eventually the council cleared the slums and the family moved to St John’s, Place Brighton. She lived here until her death in 1963. These are the only photos I have of my grandmother, the first is circa 1918 the girl sitting is her eldest daughter Elizabeth (Bet) and baby we believe belonged either to  a neighbour or her sister Louisa. The second a portrait is circa 1930

Comments about this page

  • Elizabeth was my grandmother too, she was also a friend to my paternal grandmother and I have a couple of other photos if you let me have your email address I will send them on.
    Editor: Please set up a new page containing your photographs (just follow the links and instructions on the left sidebar of the screen) and we’ll get it published to the site.  Thanks!

    By Laine (03/09/2008)
  • Re your comments re Cavendish Street: my mum and nan Georgina Demascio, and the Fulgonys and the Demarias all lived there. But I don’t think it was a slum. My mum Rosina was born there and it was very clean. The Italians were very proud people.

    By Joe Demascio (01/07/2012)
  • The word ‘slum’ is a very emotive term and comes (I think) from a German word meaning a swamp or marsh, ie somewhere where no one but the very poor live.The ‘slum clearance’ of the interwar period involved areas of sub-standard housing, some were slums in anyone’s terms, but other streets in the block were included some of which, like William St across Edward St were very clean and well maintained but were still included, much to the chagrin of the inhabitants. My mum lived at 145 Edward St when my grandfather moved here from Hackney almost adjacent to Cavendish St and later in Devonshire Place nearby; she often spoke of the Italian community in the area.

    By Geoffrey Mead (02/07/2012)
  • Sorry to hijack this page from Elizabeth, Vanessa, but I’m very interested in the comments about the Italian community in the area. My great grandfather, Francesco Gonnella, came here as a very young man and was living in nearby Cumberland Place in the 1880/90s. I would be interested to know if there was a large Italian contingent and the reason why they settled here. Francesco made and sold plaster figurines, but most of his fellow Italians went to Scotland. Why Brighton, I wonder?

    By Janet Beal (03/07/2012)
  • Vanessa is correct- it was a slum in the sense that it was overcrowded, poor quality, damp and dirty . Individual families may well have tried to keep their homes clean. My grandmother suffered great hardships living there. My mother lived with her there and remembers the slum clearance. She said the conditions were terrible. My mother is still alive and anyone who doubts that the street was a slum should speak to her-she is one of the few people still alive who can provide a living testament.

    By Laine (04/07/2012)
  • Janet, Brighton attracted a wide variety of foreign workers; it always has done, as for centuries it was a beach-based port trading with the Baltic for mainly timber, and the Meditteranean where we traded smoked and dried fish. Italians in the 19th century were here to work in the leisure industry, their presence in the hotel industry added an ‘exotic’ aspect. Many Italians opened ice cream parlours. Even in my life in Brighton (born 1949) I can recall Mrs ‘Pip” Pirolli in Oxford St, Fortes all over the south- east, Gizzi brothers, de Marco in George St, Hove and in York Place. My mother recalled her life in 1920’s Edward St where on Friday nights drunks would attempt to ‘burn out’ the Italian families. Many years ago in preparation for a local history class, I was taking pictures in Hereford St further east along Edward St. To my delight I found two little old Italian ladies clad in black, in adjacent front gardens, talking in their ‘native’ tongue.

    By Geoffrey Mead (06/07/2012)
  • Geoffrey – if you have any other memories of Mrs Pirolli Ice Cream, I would love to hear further. I am researching my family tree – and my grandfather came from Brighton – “Pip” was, I think, one of his brothers, Peppino – so this would be his wife/widow. Another brother, Antonio, also had an ice cream place and the family are still local to Brighton.

    By Lis Hyett (05/10/2012)
  • ‘Mrs Pip’s’ was located on the north side of Oxford St. I recall it as tiny, but my Kelly’s Directory 1960 shows the premises as 12/13 Oxford St- ‘Antonio Pirolli ice cream manufacturer’. To the right of the door going in, was a tiny counter with a big tray of toffee apples [of course all unwrapped], the ice cream was white or pink, though Mrs Pip offered ‘mixed’, a scoop of each. My older brother, who was at Stanford Rd school [as was I], remembers Mr Pip being outside the school with a ‘Stop Me and Buy One’ trike. This would have been 1945 onwards.

    By Geoffrey Mead (06/10/2012)
  • Pip’s Ices were owned by my mum’s (Nina Pirolli) Uncle Tony and Aunt Pep. When the family first settled in Brighton they lived in Southover Street area and had a shop and mobile horse-drawn and motorcycle ice cream vehicles.  I still have old pictures from those days, my Dad’s Father, Domenico Paolella, was also an ice cream vendor.

    By Peter Paolella (05/01/2013)
  • Interesting to hear Liz may be related to me – my mum’s Father was Peter Pirolli, the brothers I knew were Joseph and Tony. However, I knew another in Brighton but can’t remember his name – his children were Louis and Jenny.

    By Peter Paolella (06/01/2013)
  • I also could be related to your family somewhere along the line, one of my relatives was called Georgina Demascio (everyone called her Judgie), she died in 1992, because I have Italian relations Demascio / Gunn / Marsh. Am also related to Mears, Demario and Allen somewhere in there too. My relatives lived in Lennox Street and everyone used to call my great gran granny ‘Gunn’.
    I agree with you, Joe Demascio, about the Italians being clean. I hear enough stories from my relations about this too. Joe – I was wondering whether we could be related along the line somewhere? Would love to hear back from you.

    By Louise Marsh (21/06/2013)
  • With reference to my above comment, I have to adjust the date when my relation Georgina Demascio died – it was in 1991 and not 1992, was still wondering if this is your Georgina Demascio, Joe? Would love to hear back from you please if it is, as I am researching my family tree.

    By Louise Marsh (24/06/2013)
  • I hadn’t remembered I’d previously posted on this site back in 2013, so I am sorry to Peter Paollela.  I am hoping you are still looking at this site.  We are indeed related, we are second cousins !  Nina was my mother’s cousin – Your Grandfather, Peter was my Grandfather’s brother. I met Nina and Peter  for the first time in 1979 at my Grandfather’s funeral and they then visited me in Worthing hospital after a car accident.  I also met your sister, Tony, when she was in practice in Emsworth.  Hopefully you are still reading the site and we can make contact.

    By Lis Hyett (27/08/2015)
  • Hi Louise Marsh and Lis Hyett. Interesting to read your comments, not sure whether are related to me.  Anyway, Elizabeth Hayman is my aunt, also her brother Richard Mears married Demario – I believe her first name was Tressa. They had four children: Louis, Peter, Betty and Richard. If you are interested in contacting me please use my email at deavja@gmail.com

    By John Deacon (05/09/2015)
  • Hi Liz Hyett, glad to hear you are still using this site. Now and again I glance at it and I saw your message a couple of years after mine! I honestly cannot remember meeting you back in the 70s, how strange, but I am 60 now so it was a long time ago and a lot has happened since those days! I left Brighton 20 years ago with my Maltese wife and three children (who are all grown up now ) and now live in Malta and Sicily! Sadly both Mum and Dad have passed on now. Her two sisters Frances and Josie are still alive but I no longer have any contact with them. I know my Grandad Peter had five or six brothers as I still have old pictures of them and one sister Maria Rosa who was actually my Grandmother too as she had adopted my Father Frank when he was five years old! Last year my wife and I drove up to Santa Elia in the Abruzzi area of Italy where our family are from and stayed with my Mums cousin Assunda for a few days, beautiful area! Would love to make contact with you!

    By Peter Paolella (01/03/2016)
  • I knew Richard, Johnny and Peter Mears from around the Town and Mannorbes Gym in Western Road.  Peter’s sister was married to Derek Manthorpe who owned the gym and was a great friend to all of us and was a perfect gentleman! Back in the late 70 s I had worked for Prater Asphalt, Richard and Johnny Mears were also Asphalters. In those days I knew of a few Asphalt families of Italian immigrants, the Demarios, Azzaraties etc.

    By Peter Paolella (01/03/2016)
  • Started to research my family tree. This is my great grandmother, the 2 pictures as above are all I have. Should anyone have more, please do get in touch.

    By Leanne Millis (28/03/2016)
  • Hi Peter Paolella, I was just reading about your link with the Demarios. I have started to research my family tree. My Nan’s mother was Margaret Damario whose sister was Teresa Demario (who married Richard Mears). You speak of your mother’s two sisters, Frances and Josie – were they the Madgwicks? Would be great to hear from you as you may well be one of my missing links in my family tree. I am also planning a 4 week trip to Sicily in August, and it would be wonderful to learn if there were any family members over there. I understand Antonetta and Pietro Demario came over from Naples way, but Nan seems to recall family links in Sicily, although I have no information to suggest this.

    Louise Marsh – My Nan still talks about her Aunt Judgie. She has very fond memories of her. 

    If anyone has any further information on the Demarios, please get in touch: Sophia_camilla@Hotmail.com


    By Sophia Jones (24/06/2017)

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