The Unfortunate Apprentice

On the night of Sunday, 10th January 1892, a gale blew the Whitby brig Lancet towards the Filey rocks. The Master, Lewis, ordered the anchors to be cast and these held the vessel until early morning when distress flags brought out the Filey Lifeboat, Hollon the Second. It took about six hours for the Filey volunteers to rescue seven of Lancet’s crew of eight. A newspaper reported that “one boy was drowned while launching the ship’s boat in an effort to get ashore”. Another report named the deceased as Henry COOR, who hailed from London and was “within eight months of completing his apprenticeship”. Henry’s body was transported by wave and tide about three miles and was found at Reighton the next day, the 12th. Several newspapers repeated the macabre and possibly misguided observation that “the poor fellow had evidently been alive when washed ashore, as his hands were full of gravel”. It is hard to imagine him surviving 24 hours in the winter sea.

Henry’s age isn’t given and I couldn’t find a “boy” with his name in London birth registers. Henry Thomas COOR, born in Bethnal Green, would have been 21 in January 1892. Old for a boy, and perhaps for an apprentice seaman, but a curious fact suggests it was indeed he who drowned in Filey Bay. His mother’s maiden name was registered as McCLARENCE. In the June Quarter of 1892 in Bethnal Green, a boy was born to Mrs. COOR née McCLARENLL (sic) and given the name Henry.

The names COOR and McCLARENCE bamboozled most registrars and their clerks. I couldn’t return the young man to his folks today with certainty. I think his father was William and his mother Maria – but she seems to have died aged 24 when Henry the First was two-years-old. It isn’t impossible that Henry the Second’s mother was Emma McCLARENCE, wife of  James COOR and a younger sister of Maria, but it’s quite a stretch.

I just hope the unfortunate apprentice will take his place on the FamilySearch Tree some day.

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