The Third Son

The headstone of John Harvey WHISTON is not as communicative as it was 40 years ago.


All it tells us now, for sure, is that he was the third son of William Whiston. We can confidently deduce that 1836 is the year of his death. The Crimlisk Survey states that father William was “of Derby”, a Gentleman and that John died on the Seventh of September. I think the erosion of the stone was far enough advanced in 1977  to require guesswork.

A newspaper death notice says he took his last breath on 30 October, “in the 25th year of his age”. It would have been very odd for his corpse to be stored for almost two months before burial on 4 November.

John had followed his father into the legal profession and moved to the Yorkshire coast “for the benefit of his health”. Sadly, the hoped-for improvement didn’t occur.

In 1836 the plans for “New Filey” had only recently been commissioned by John Wilkes UNETT. It would take about twenty years for The Crescent to be built. John Unett was a Birmingham solicitor and perhaps the jungle telegraph made John Whiston aware of the recuperative powers of Filey. He may even have worked for Unett in those early days of transforming a small fishing village into a select Victorian “watering place”.

I don’t know where young Whiston would have lodged in the town, but it would be sad to think that he died alone. The Crimlisks discerned the two words “and also” after the date of his death. I haven’t found a marriage for him yet, so who is also remembered on the stone must remain a mystery.

John Whiston was represented on FamilySearch Tree a couple of days ago with just his father and mother, Sarah.

I found Sarah’s family name quite easily but gathering her children has required an FST  “merge-athon”.

Sarah HOPKINSON married William in Derby in 1804 and had ten children. She died aged 78 in 1863. William celebrated his 90th birthday before taking his leave as “one of the oldest and best-known inhabitants of Derby”.

Find John Harvey Whiston here.

The letterforms on John’s headstone are unique in St Oswald’s churchyard. Strong and industrial. I’m inclined to think that father William commissioned the stone from a Derby mason and had it shipped to Filey, rather than bring his son’s body back to the Midland city for burial.

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