Thomas WEBB was born in 1838, in Sutton St James, Lincolnshire, about 15 miles from the nearest port, King’s Lynn. In his early 60s, he appeared in a Scarborough Newspaper advertisement as an “old mariner” extolling the virtues of Bile Beans. “Indigestion, Sleeplessness and Influenza After Effects Cured.” For most of his working life, the various censuses attest, he was a labourer, brazier, or tinner.
In 1871, during a labouring phase, he was lodging with Robert SAYERS, a sailor, in Queen Street. Perhaps that’s where he got the idea from, though I think he may have tried line fishing for a while and not taken to it.
Thomas married Amanda LANE when he was 20. She bore him two children, then died at 19 a month or so before her infant son Thomas.
One wonders if grief pushed Thomas away from Sutton St James, but why move to Filey? There is a tantalising possibility that he was looked after kindly as a child by a young servant called Mary STORK, at a nearby farm. The 1841 census only tells us she was not a native of Lincolnshire but there is the remotest of chances that she was from the Yorkshire coast. Whatever, on 4 November 1866 Thomas married Mary Ann STORK, ten years his junior, at St Oswald’s in Filey. They would have seven children, but only one reached adulthood.
Thomas made several appearances in the local newspapers. In May 1887:-
At the Bridlington police court on Saturday, Thomas Webb, tinner, Filey, was charged with being found in possession of game unlawfully obtained on the 29th ultimo. Sergeant Nicholson said that whilst on duty near Primrose Valley, at 5 am, he heard two shots and shortly after saw defendant with a gun and something bulky in his pockets. Witness searched him and found two rabbits in his possession. He was fined £1 and 11s. costs.
Six years earlier, when he was 43 years old:-
At the Bridlington police-court on Saturday, Thomas Webb, a bill poster, of Filey, was charged with being drunk on licensed premises at Filey, on the 28th ult. [May]. Sergeant Cooper stated that at 10-45 p.m. on the day in question he was passing the Grapes Inn, and hearing shouting in the house he entered, and found defendant standing in the doorway of one of the side rooms, shouting to some men who were in the room. Witness had seen him before he went into the house, and he was then very drunk.—Defendant was fined 10s., including costs.
On a more positive note, following his brief local notoriety as an ancient mariner cured of biliousness, the Local Board Clerk, Mr W. B. GOFTON, told a meeting that –
only one application had been received for the position of Town Crier, that being Mr Thomas Webb, who offered the sum of £1 7s 6d (£111 at 2009 values), which was a similar amount paid by the previous holder of the position.
The offer was accepted and Mr Webb appointed, thus following in the footsteps of his former father in law, Robert STORK.
This undated newspaper image of Lifeboat Day, courtesy of Martin Douglas, shows the Bellman on the left. The fashions worn by girls and ladies suggest it may be Thomas. (I can’t identify the lifeboat. One of the Hollons, I guess.)
For several years Thomas gave work to the young John RAWSON before the lad went to work for Councillor GIBSON, presumably because he was “family”. Thomas’ second wife, Mary Ann STORK, had died in 1890 and two years later he married Mary Prue née MAULSON, the older sister of poor John’s mother, Elizabeth Ann (pictured, last Friday’s post). And Thomas’ only surviving child, Tom, married Elizabeth Ann’s daughter, Rose Annie. It was to her house that the unconscious John was taken on that awful day.
Somehow, Thomas senior navigated his way through countless reefs and shoals and died aged 76 in November 1914. This morning he had a foothold on FamilySearch Tree. I have given him a couple of wives and some children and hope to complete his families over the next few days.
There is one further curious element to establish. Our fake old salt seems to have had only one sibling, a brother called John or John Parker. He also appears to have crossed the Humber and settled in East Yorkshire, his death being registered in Driffield in 1905. When he was 51 he married Mary Ann Kirby, 56, in Langtoft but I don’t know yet if this was the first matrimonial adventure for either or both of them.
Thomas the Bellman on FST. (My thanks to Marilyn Briggs for information about Thomas’ first marriage.)