Witness

Wharton SMITH was baptized at St. Oswald’s, Filey on this day 1879. The eighth child of Robert Smith and Zillah Agar SUGGIT he went to South Africa and became a farmer.  Robert had moved from Hunmanby to farm at Church Cliff and when he died in 1890 his second son, Tom, became “master”.  In 1897 Tom employed a “quiet steady lad” of about twenty called Edwin JOHNSON as a foreman. He worked well until harvest time the following year and one day refused to work as instructed. He asked to be paid off, went to Scarborough, bought a revolver and the next evening returned to Church Cliff and fired a shot at farm labourer Matthew Milner who, he claimed, had taken his job. As this “shooting incident” began to unfold Wharton confronted the gunman who said to him, “You needn’t be frightened; it’s not you I’m going to hurt.” Wharton, who was described in newspaper reports as a draper, ran to fetch the police. He returned with P.C. WILES who asked Johnson, “What is the matter?” Edwin, said, “What do you want? It is all right,” lifted his arm, put the barrel to his own head and pulled the trigger.

FamilySearch Tree suggests that Edwin died about 1900 but a couple of records I have found today suggest he lived to the age of 91. He carried the bullet around in his head all that time but kept the sight in one eye that enabled him to work as an agricultural labourer for most of his life. The judge, convinced he would go blind, passed a merciful sentence at trial, binding him over in the sum of £10 to be of good behavior and to “come up for judgment if called upon”.

kwss_22_WhartonSmith79_Wharton, two years younger than the unfortunate Edwin, isn’t readily found on FST. I gave his father a wife a few weeks ago and will put the children on the Tree tomorrow. Before he departed for South Africa, Wharton was photographed at the Studio of E. STEAD in Aberdeen Walk, rather neatly turned out as you would expect of a draper’s assistant. He married Christine DREYER and three children were born in SA, all with Agar as a middle name. The Agar/Smith/Suggits are well represented on FG&C and I have a number of photographs kindly donated to LaF by James Suggit and anonymous family members via Kath (Gomersall) Wilkie which I will share in the coming months. Below is a picture of Wharton in his later years.

kwss_5_WhartonSmithEtAl_m

Update 28 August

I added the children of Robert SMITH and Zillah Agar SUGGIT to FamilySearch tree today, plus the photo of young Wharton and a photo of the headstone remembering Robert, his wife and three of their daughters. The FST ‘system’ offered a hint which proved to be a record of Wharton’s death in Bloemfontein in 1975.

This morning I photographed Church Cliff House, formerly the Smith’s home, and made it ‘Today’s Image’.

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