Another Killer Gale


John William was buried just four days after his death, so he must have been almost home. The Register of Deceased Passengers held at The National Archives and available to view online via Find My Past gives the name of the ship and its approximate location when John expired.

Marcotis was almost certainly bound for its home port and 51º10’ N, 6º 40 W places her in the Irish Sea, south-west of the Pembrokeshire coast and about 280 miles from Liverpool. Innocuous as degrees and minutes, the coordinates are fiendish when converted to decimals.


The inscription on John’s red granite memorial in St Oswald’s churchyard tells us he “died in a gale at sea”, a description that paints a fuzzy, uncertain, picture of his final moments. The Register provides shocking clarity, giving the cause of death as “Hemorrhage of the Lungs”.


John’s grave is just a few yards from that of his older brother, Edwin, after whom the southernmost Filey Ravine is named. The 1881 Census reveals that Edwin, age 32, was a “Woollen Manufacturer of Martins Sons Employing 930 people”. Ten years later he has passed the running of the factory to John. Perhaps it was too great a burden for the younger brother.

In 1881 John had married Lily, daughter of Benjamin HANSON, another Huddersfield Woollen Manufacturer, employing 372 hands in 1871. John and Lily had two children, Kenneth born 1883 and Gwynneth  Adrienne in 1888. After her husband’s death, Lily moved with the children to Eastbourne on the south coast. In 1911 Gwynneth remained single but Kenneth, 29, “Company Director, Financial Corporation (Private Means)”, was married to Clarisse Lillian nee MELLIER and they had two boys, Patrick Kenneth and Jack Mellier.

For all their wealth and social standing, the Martins were poorly represented on FST. I put in a shift today but there is a lot more still to do.

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