In 1888, about a thousand kilometers south of Savigné l’Evȇque, the birthplace of Father Eugène Augustine Roulin, Vincent was painting Augustine, the wife of a namesake, Arles postman Joseph-Etienne Roulin. Father Eugène was then 28 years old and about to be ordained. He was then posted (sorry, couldn’t resist) to the monastery of Silos. For reasons unkown to me he subsequently requested a move to the English congregation of the Order of St Benedict and in October 1905 he fetched up in Filey. He served the community for 27 years before retiring because of ill-health. He spent most of his last years at Ampleforth and died in March 1939. (If you search online for images of Father Roulin you will be lucky to find one in the gallery of Van Gogh paintings.)
Ninety-eight years ago today Father Roulin was standing here, a Roman Catholic officiating at the funeral of a supposedly Protestant Filey fisherman. The event caused some consternation locally and in The Two Funerals of John Hunter on Looking at Filey I reproduced contemporary newspaper reports and commentary at some length.
I haven’t found a record on FamilySearch Tree for Father ROULIN but John HUNTER has at least two. One is a minimal entry triggered by his baptism that doesn’t give his mother’s full name. The other (L87F-L6H) has a warning attached pointing out his birth after his mother’s child-bearing years should have been over. Whoever created this short pedigree added thirty years to the age of Sarah WILLIS.
But was John’s mother really a WILLIS? FST says so but Kath on Filey Genealogy plumps for “Sarah (Varey) WILLIS” – with good reason. Sarah’s mother Susannah married George WILLIS in December 1821 when she must have been heavy with child. Their son Robert was born in February 1822 and George died the following month. Kath has a note about a smallpox outbreak at the time but George, a fisherman, may have drowned. Sarah (Varey) WILLIS was born four years later in Filey followed by a brother, Charles (Varey) WILLIS, in 1830. Edward HARRISON didn’t make an honest woman of Susannah until 1835 and they had three children together.
I searched further on FST and discovered that George WILLIS has four IDs. Two show him in splendid isolation, linked to nobody. A third, linked to his baptism, also gives his date of death. The one ID worth developing is K2FK-1M3. It takes his male line further back than Filey Genealogy, to William WILES from Middleton on the Wolds, born 1682.
In the churchyard photo above the grave next to John’s is the resting place of his parents. The stone’s inscription reads:-
In Loving Memory of WILLIAM HUNTER the Beloved husband of
SARAH HUNTER who died 22 Nov 1881 aged 66 years
‘He suffered long, but mourned not
We watched him day by day
Grew less and less with aching heart
Until he passed away’
Also of the above SARAH HUNTER who died 7th Oct 1897 aged 74 years
‘Her end was peace’
The photo of Father Roulin’s hands is a crop from a three-quarter length portrait, a photocopy, given to me by Kath without a date or any attributions to pass on. I joked about Father Roulin being sent to Silos but he wrote a book about the place that can be obtained at Waterstones. And from Amazon you may be able to acquire his 1931 book Vestments and Vesture: Manual of Liturgical Art.