A Mystery Pearson

Heading west along Church Walk, the headstone of William PEARSON is an eye catcher, (though you would have to be eight feet tall to see all that this photo reveals).


The inscription tells us that William is “of Filey” but none of the four major censuses he lived through caught him in the town. I thought the mention of his daughter, Elizabeth Ann DUFFILL, who died aged 78 in 1928, would make the family easy to find. Not so.


Filey Genealogy & Connections has William on his ownsome, with his death/ burial dates and a calculated birth year of 1797. The records say he was 76 when he died; the headstone begs to differ, asserting 72 years.

An hour or two searching available sources on FamilySearch and Find My Past failed to deliver a William I could wholeheartedly believe in. But I did have three or four possibles and one against whom I scribbled “best” on my notepad. There were several Williams that were on the FamilySearch Tree already but none were immediately convincing.

A little more cross-pollinating available online data brought me to an affirmation of “Best William” being the fellow buried by Church Walk, and I have added the headstone picture as a memory on FST.

Some scraps of mystery adhere to him nonetheless. Who was his first wife? He was 43 years old when he married Ann FENWICK and the Cloughton Church marriage register notes his widower status.

Somewhat related – how did a farmer from the Whitby area meet a farmer’s daughter born just outside Hull, over 60 miles away? You will find the answer in a ‘blue hint’ on FST. While William journeyed south, Robert FENWICK moved north to the Scarborough area enabling the connection that brought Elizabeth Ann into the world to be made.

Perhaps more mysterious than William is Elizabeth Ann’s husband, Henry DUFFILL. I have been unable to find a trace of him after this brief entry in The Scarborough Mercury of 10 October 1874.

On the 6th inst., at Murray-street Chapel, Filey, by the Rev. Stephen Cox, Mr. Henry Duffill, of Farnhill, near Leeds, to Miss Elizabeth Ann Pearson, of Filey.

Find William on FST here.

A Fishing Family

A younger sister of Rachel EDMOND (yesterday’s post) married fisherman Charles PEARSON in 1873. Mary Ann had five children with him before he died at the age of just 32. His early death didn’t make the news in any of the newspapers I am able to access, so I am assuming he died from ‘natural causes’. I added his headstone as a memory to FamilySearch Tree this morning.


Also remembered are their son Robert, who died in Hull aged 25, and daughter Mary Ann who lived for only five months.

Their youngest child, George, was only fifteen months old when his father died but he became a fisherman too. He married Milcah HOPE in 1901 and they had nine children. The parents’ grave in St Oswald’s was bounded by a kerb, so I didn’t have a photograph of it. Kerbs are not photogenic and are readily overwhelmed by grass and accumulations of soil. But on a whim this afternoon I went to see the plot and found the kerb had been restored and a headstone erected. The stone remembers all the children, as well as the parents.


I created an ID for George on FST this morning and will marry him to Milcah before I post this. She was baptised in Millington on 16 February 1879 and took her mother’s name. Jane HOPE married John William DYKES before that year was out, connecting Milcah to an extensive pedigree.

‘Trio’ Again

A year ago I wrote about the loss of six Filey fishermen from the yawl Trio, off Spurn Point. I said that the only man not remembered in the churchyard was also absent from the FamilySearch Tree. He was there, but masquerading as the son of William and Ann TAIT.

Ann had given birth to her first child in 1834 and her ninth, and last, twenty years later, when she was aged about 44. It was possibly a misunderstanding that caused the enumerator in 1871 to add Robert to her roster, though she would have then been about 54 at the time of his birth.

Robert was the illegitimate son of William and Ann’s eldest daughter, Rachel, but only a few weeks after he was baptised she married Charles VEARY. Whether or not he was the boy’s biological father, Charles accepted him as his own.

Charles and Rachel seem to have had just one child in marriage, John William.

I think I have set the records straight on FST, though there is more information to add. Find the unfortunate Robert here. If you go to the pedigree you will see that Charles is a WILLIS. He seems to have adopted this surname shortly after he married. The GRO Index gives his “bachelor name” as Charles Willas VEARY. Filey Genealogy & Connections shows him to be the illegitimate son of Susannah VAREY. His sister, Sarah (Varey) WILLIS married Filey fisherman and boat owner William HUNTER. They had eleven children together and the name Varey (usually in parentheses) is occasionally met on the community tree. I have no idea who the original “Willis” may have been.