Opening the Sea-Wall, Descending a Rabbit Hole

The following extract from Picturesque History of the East Riding of Yorkshire, published 1900 accompanies a lithograph of the Filey Sea-Wall, available as a giclee print from Allposters.

The new sea-wall at Filey was opened on Tuesday, by Lord Herries, the ceremony being witnessed by a large number of people, who gave the usually quiet little watering-place quite a holiday appearance. Visitors came from most of the neighbouring Yorkshire towns, such as Scarborough, Driffield and Bridlington. Even Hull and York furnished contingents. The town was prettily decorated with flags and bunting. A luncheon was given after the ceremony in a large marquee erected for the purpose. The wall has an average height of nineteen feet above the sand, and the promenade is about eleven feet above high-water mark a bull-nose ledge under the coping has the effect of turning the waves. The walls run a distance of 700 yards. A slipway which divides the two portions of the promenade is spanned by an ornamental iron bridge. The coping is to be surmounted by an iron railing 3 feet 4 inches high. Our illustration is from a photograph by A. McCallum, Filey, sent to us by Mr J. G. Gofton, Secretary of the Committee to whose exertions the building of the new sea-wall is due.

dl_HERRIESlord1_7mAs Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire Marmaduke Francis CONSTABLE-MAXWELL must have been at the top of the list to  open Filey’s Sea-Wall on the 19th June 1894. He was also 11th Lord Herries of Terregles, a village 150 crow-flown miles away in Kirkudbrightshire, Scotland (but rather appropriately pronounced “treegulls”). Marmaduke’s eldest child, Gwendolen Mary, became the 12th Lady Herries and also Duchess of Norfolk when she married her first cousin once removed, Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke. We are entering a different world to that inhabited by Yorkshire coast fisher folk aren’t we? Well, maybe.

The Herries Wikipedia page is somewhat sparse but the spaces occupied by the family extend to Northumberland, Derbyshire and, when the 14th Lady Herries married the cricketer Colin COWDREY, Kent.

What about time? FamilySearch Tree offers a pedigree that stretches back to the 11th century, taking in yet more territory. Followers of the curious English game aforementioned – cricket – will be amused to find one of  the old family estates  is a place beloved of “Aggers”, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.

It is tremendous fun to dive into pedigrees as extensive as this one. FamilySearch’s Wiki Tree is akin to a rabbit hole and by choosing a different “start person” one can fall in with a very different bunch of fantastic characters. On my second visit I chose to plunge straight into the 15th century with Wikipedia’s First Lord Herries, Herbert, but found myself in a parallel universe where the Third Lord Herries was born about two hundred years earlier. This line, going back, morphed into “Heriz”, then “de Heriz de Harcourt” at the time of the Conquest, losing both names around 900 AD. By this time Marmaduke’s forebears (possibly) are living in Germany and one of their number marries the “Queen of Saxony” [L87K-44J].

I tried again, this time once more from the beginning (with Marmaduke), taking some branches not previously traveled and arriving at the Duke of Normandie, William Beuclerc I  [9H17-VTZ].

You are perhaps muttering, “What has all this got to do with the humble folk of 19th century Filey?” Well, Sir Herbert HARRIES (1381-1440) married Margaret DOUGLAS (1372-1440) , the daughter of William, First Earl of DOUGLAS [LZLB-P6K]. Follow the DOUGLAS Y-DNA line towards the present day, to the Alexander DOUGLAS who married Frances EDE in 1842. FamilySearch has records for five children of this couple but there was a sixth. You will have to connect with Arthur DOUGLAS on Kath’s Filey Genealogy and Connections (via FamilySearch Genealogies) and make your way then through several generations of Filey fishermen. Martin of that ilk is retired now but you can usually find him working in the Care & Share on a Saturday morning. Pop in for a chat!  I told him a few weeks ago of his illustrious forebears but that was before I knew about the Queen of Saxony and The Conqueror. Be sure to bow.

Words of caution. Fantastic pedigrees need to be supported by amazing sources – and they rarely are. The FamilySearch branches mentioned above have a number of warning “Exclamation Flags” in them and the crossover from FST to Kath’s Filey Genealogy needs to be confirmed. Maybe the moral of this tale is simply that we are all one, riven unnecessarily by class, privilege and power.

Note: My thanks to Darryl Lundy for permission to use the photograph of Marmaduke that appears on The Peerage. It was a book plate image, I think, and I took the liberty of putting it through Topaz Impression 2 to suppress the effects of the half-tone screen.

Today’s Image of a Whitethroat was  made this morning on a walk along the Eller Howe cliffs. I fired off a number of shots and it was only when I looked at them on the computer that I realised I had captured the chap’s sighting of a tasty morsel and his flight to catch it.



This time I reached for Topaz Texture Effects 2 to hide the inability of my point and shoot camera to capture the fine detail that is the expert bird photographer’s stock in trade. I apologise if my use of software changes the colours of plumage beyond what is acceptable. I have left it late in life to take an interest in “the feathered tribe” and will almost certainly blot my copy book even further by wrongly identifying species (if I haven’t already). Not just of birds – insects, flowers, mammals and trees. I’m no Mr Natural.

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