Too Many Cooks

On the 22nd October 1915, the Scarborough Mercury reported that Percy COOK, confectioner of West Avenue, Filey,  had been fined 10 shillings at the Police Court for “not having had lights properly shaded”. (I guess the authorities were afraid of Zeppelin raids and needed to set an example.)

Life was sweets for Percy and his occupation should have earned him the respect of the town’s children. It seems to have done the opposite. A few years ago Martin Douglas told me of a nasty rhyme that urchins would hurl at Percy. (Martin heard it from his mother.) They would enter his shop, chant the verse and make a quick exit, pursued by Percy.

Percy Cook said come and have a look

At my old chocolate shop,

The scales are rusty,

The chocolates are fusty,

And you’ve gone off yer nut.

(Not the best advertisement for British education if the last line referred to Percy’s mental state.)

Percy died in 1944, almost twenty years after his wife Mary Jane née MOODY. The couple married late, aged 33 and 40 respectively, and did not have little angels of their own.

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In loving memory of MARY, beloved wife of PERCY COOK, entered into rest Sep. 27th 1925, aged 57.

Go thou improve the present hour,

Be thankful for the past,

And let thy future movement tend

To calm and soothe the last.

Also of the above PERCY COOK, died June 10th 1944, aged 71.

On Filey Genealogy & Connections Percy stands alone. He was one of at least eight children born to John Frederick Cook, a cashier and bookkeeper, and Catherine JOHNSON. At the 1911 Census, remarkably, six of the siblings were living together at 1 St Paul’s Road in Bradford. All were unmarried. Ten years earlier, widowed Catherine ruled a roost of seven children, one of them Percy, at Cliff Bridge Place, Scarborough. He was the only one to fly the nest during the next decade.

So, why too many Cooks, given this generation’s unwillingness to submit to the genetic imperative? Well, an hour or two of sleuthing, brings in 15 MOODYs, who connect with several Filey fishing families (BAYES, COWLING, SCALES). FG &C has these folk but to check them all out on FamilySearch Tree and add the West Riding COOKs is a daunting task.

I noticed in passing one source that elaborated on the Bradford address, labeling it “Manningham Hall”. This seemed rather grand and I wondered if our humble confectioner had been something of a black sheep. In 1901 his sister Evelin (various spellings) was pursuing the same trade but ten years later told the census enumerator that she was a lodging house keeper.  A younger brother headed the St Paul’s household in 1911 and the Find My Past transcription gives his occupation as a “Trains Merchant”. Inspection of the page image reveals he dealt in pianos, as did brother Vernon William Alexander. A noble occupation, romantic even, but the world was changing and in 1939 Sydney had to file for bankruptcy.

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I looked again for a foothold on FamilySearch Tree and found Mary Jane MOODY Cook’s mother, Ann KNAGGS. Someone to build on…another day, perhaps.

A few words about Today’s Image. The concrete jumble below Flat Cliffs/Primrose Valley Holiday Park is the remains of a short promenade that was, I think, still functional in the 1950s. I have seen an old postcard showing an ice cream van parked on it. I haven’t discovered the purpose of the concrete “rings” yet. Someone must know.

The Baltic Connection

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This is one of my favourite stones, with its dove flying from clouds on rays of light. And yet… It tells just a little of the sad story of this WILLIAMSON family. The inscription notes the father’s death in 1810 at 57, a reasonable “innings” in those days. But his youngest son died at 12 and the third of four children, John, drowned in the Baltic Sea, aged 19, in 1808.  Firstborn William drowned 10 years later, closer to home in South Bay, Scarborough. One of his sons would drown in Filey Bay in 1858, aged 50.

The only daughter of Francis and Ann CAMMISH, married “awd Marky” BAXTER and they brought six children into the world. She died aged 49 and Mark lived on for thirty more years.

But back to John. Filey Genealogy & Connections says he was a fisherman but the Baltic, as far as I’m aware, is beyond the normal range for a yawl, let alone a Filey coble. The war with France had a way to go and I’m wondering if John was pressed into the Royal Navy.

Last month I wrote about the Battle of Flamborough Head, which ended with Captain Pearson surrendering ignominiously to John Paul Jones,  but successfully ensuring the safety of the Baltic convoy under his protection. Roll on twenty years and the Royal Navy is in the Baltic Sea safeguarding its trade routes, thwarting Napoleon’s efforts to cut Britain off from the continent.

If you are not convinced by this scenario, I offer you another Filey fisherman, George Whiteley BOYNTON, who was given the byname “Baltic”. As a teenager, he sailed that sea when it was a theatre of the Crimean War.

I haven’t found “Baltic” on FamilySearch Tree but his parents are there, and his wife, Ann SAYERS.

This WILLIAMSON male line on Filey Genealogy & Connections ends with a grandfather going back in time but brother William leads the way to the mid-twentieth century. (William was baptized in 1779, four days before the Baltic fleet dodged Bonhomme Richard’s cannonballs.) The pedigree is not yet as extensive on FamilySearch Tree.