Four Carrington Events

I was saddened to find Richard Carrington without family on FamilySearch Tree yesterday and set about gathering some company for him today. After a couple of hours of snooping around databases and websites, I went back to FST and discovered a couple of duplicate entries for him (missed yesterday). Both gave him parents and one provided several generations of his mother’s family. I chose to merge the three instances into the one with the largest population. And gave him a wife.

CARRINGTONrichdchris+PDphotoRichard was 43 years old when he married Rosa Ellen JEFFERIES in 1869. She was 23 and living as a married woman with a man in his late forties who went by the name of William RODWAY. Richard thought William was Rosa’s brother. Rosa was almost illiterate. She could hardly read and would ask a friend to address envelopes for any letters she tried to write. But she was not daft. Richard was a man of means. He may have looked old before his time but he was of independent means – his wealth derived from the family brewing business. Richard gave his young wife a generous allowance, most of which she passed to Rodway, with whom she continued her dalliance.

Event 1. William Rodway attempts to kill Rosa.

After stabbing Rosa three times in the hallway of the Carrington residence, known as The Devil’s Jump, Rodway tried to inflict mortal wounds on himself. Both survived to tell their sordid tale in Court. There is a long and fascinating account of proceedings in the Surrey Comet of 30 March 1872. After the case had been proven the jury was told that Rodway, going by the name of Edward SMITH, had been sentenced in 1848 for the manslaughter of a prostitute, Rebecca GILL. He received only 12 months hard labour in prison for that deed. For failing to end the life of Rosa he received twenty years and died in jail a year or two later.

Event 2. Rosa dies under mysterious circumstances.

On 16 November 1875 Rosa readied herself for bed. Richard, as was customary, gave his wife a potion containing 10 grains of chloral. She was being treated for epileptic attacks but was also known to be “in an unsound state of mind”. On waking around 8 o’clock the next morning Richard found his wife still sleeping so went down to breakfast. While eating, a maidservant told him that Mrs. Carrington was dead in her bed. Richard found her face down, her body still warm. A post-mortem discovered no traces of poison in her stomach and the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of “Death by suffocation, but how produced there is not sufficient evidence to show”.

Event 3. Richard dies under mysterious circumstances, two weeks later.

Richard had been censured by the coroner’s jury “for not providing a proper person to look after his wife”. It would appear that he dismissed his servants for he was last seen alive a week later, on 27 November, entering his house. His body was not discovered until the first day of December. There was a poultice of tea leaves above one ear, indicating an attempt to relieve suffering. A post-mortem showed that death had been caused by “an effusion of blood on the brain”. On 4 December an inquest returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes”.

Event 4. Richard’s Will is made public.


Esther Clarke Carrington on FamilySearch Tree.

Note: The photograph of Richard was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, photographer unknown. You will find it reproduced on the Solar Storms website – together with a lot of astronomical detail. Stuart Clark has written about the Carrington Event of 1859 in his book The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began.

Richard Christopher Carrington

The mysterious closure of a number of solar observatories a couple of weeks ago, most notably the one at Sunspot, New Mexico, led to a number of theories flaring up. One at least may have a molten core of genuine conspiracy. There was also a suggestion that a hole in the sun’s surface had appeared and might occasion a Carrington Event here on earth. This was met with a seemingly authoritative report that there is an 80% chance of one occurring in the next few days.

I’m not sure how great the disruption would be to our “civilization”. At best, people in certain parts of the globe will be treated to more auroras than usual – including pink ‘uns as the rays penetrate deeper and mess with nitrogen in the atmosphere. At worst…?

These events are named after an English amateur astronomer. His abilities were such that some of his observations of solar activity 150 or so years ago are still accepted as “standard”. His name may soon be in the news but on FamilySearch Tree he is a solitary figure.

A Grocer and His Servant

Alfred Burley TOWSE was born on 12 September 1866. I planned to mark his 152nd birthday last Wednesday with a short post but his family proved to be rather demanding. I have done a few hours work on them each day and have a way to go before I have his birth family all present and correct on FamilySearch Tree.

Alfred didn’t cause any problems, for me at least. He married Annie Maud JENNINGS in Grimsby when he was 25 but their three children were born in Filey. He described himself at the 1891 census as a Grocer’s Assistant, presumably working for his father. Samuel Towse was a Grocer and Sub Post Master in Filey.

In 1893 he got on the wrong side of Constable HARRISON.


In today’s money, 21 shillings is about £95.

Eight years later he was a Grocer’s Manager living at 11 Union Street. Samuel was clearly still “the boss”, and would remain so until shortly before his death in 1916.

Before the next census, Alfred had moved south, crossed the River Humber and changed trades. In Scunthorpe in 1911, he is described as a Tobacconist Manager.  With him at 74 High Street were Annie Maud and two of their children, Eric Alfred (17) and Ethel Mary (16). Annie Maud was a Lincolnshire lass and that may be the only reason for the family’s move.

During the next 28 years, Alfred changed his occupation again. In the 1939 Register, at 63 East Street, Grimsby, he is listed as a retired House Agent.

Alfred and Annie made what seems to be a sensible decision, forsaking the fishing port for  Louth, some miles inland. Alfred died there at the beginning of 1954 aged 87 and Annie followed him into the good night a year later.

You can find them on FamilySearch Tree.

Turning the clock back to 1901 finds the couple in their mid-thirties and their children aged 6, 7, and 8. They have a live-in servant, a young widow, Mary Jane HANSON, 32.

I expected to find that Mary Jane’s husband had been a fisherman, but no, he worked as a joiner, not a particularly dangerous trade.

There are only twenty Hansons in Filey Genealogy & Connections and of those, I only had death information for eleven of them. Two boys and a girl didn’t reach their first birthday and only one of each sex passed three score and ten. It is a small sample so nothing can really be read into the average lifespan of those born a Hanson: men 35 years and women 34. I recalled adult, gossipy conversations throughout my childhood during which my mother would say, “Oh, they’re not long-livers.”

Widow Hanson didn’t marry again and died aged 81 in January 1950. There are a lot of Filey Cowlings and calculating their average span will have to wait.


In loving memory of FRANCIS E. HANSON, the beloved husband of MARY JANE HANSON (of Filey), who died July 29th 1894, aged 31 years.

‘His end was peace’

Also of the above MARY JANE HANSON, who died Jan 31st 1950, aged 81 years.


Find Mary Jane on FamilySearch Tree. Her pedigree is more extensive on Filey Genealogy & Connections.