The 1861 census for Filey Parish shows that John SIGSWORTH is stationmaster at Gristhorpe, married to Mary. He is fifty years old, his wife 39 and there are no children still at home. Given Mary’s age, it would be a simple matter to find children in the GRO Index, but I haven’t located a record of their marriage. John Sigsworth is a surprisingly common name in the area of Yorkshire around Easingwold and several men with that name married a Mary. But not this one, it seems.
A John Sigsworth born in November 1811 and baptised in Stillington could be the future station master but I am going with the John born to John and Alice née JACKSON.
“Our John” may be the 30-year-old male servant to Innkeeper Henry KIMBERLEY at Barton Hill, near Malton. Four years later the York to Scarborough railway would pass through the village, and a station built there. Maybe the romance of the railways made an impression on this John
I have failed to find the 1851 census so I can’t even hazard a guess at when John became a railway servant. But in 1861 he was here:-
W. ARTHUR, the author of this photograph taken in 2006, 47 years after the station closed, has generously put the image into the public domain, so I have taken the liberty of making it somewhat brighter than the downloaded version. There’s a photo on Geograph offering a perspective that includes the railway line, which is still open.
In 1871 the census enumerator found John at Gristhorpe Station still, but married to Emma, 22 years his junior and a native of Oxfordshire. (A later source gives her birthplace as the town itself.)
Mary had died on 29 June 1862 and is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard. Her stone has been moved to the north wall, by the church.
John may have intended his passing to be recorded on the stone’s open space but Emma put paid to that idea. There’s a death registration in 1877 that fits him perfectly (aged 66) but I can’t support this with a burial record. That Emma, born in Oxford, is a widow in the 1881 census would seem to be confirmation but, rather than being 48 years old, the page image clearly shows her aged ‘67’. In 1891 she is the second wife of William SKIPSEY, a retired gardener, and a more reasonable 61-year-old. She wasn’t finished with misinforming enumerators. In 1901 she has aged considerably when compared with her husband and, rather than being 7 years his junior, is now ten years older than him. William, 80 in the census, died at the end of the year at 84 according to the GRO Index. Emma followed him into the unknown five years later, registered as 75 rather than 95!
William Skipsey has descendants on FST from his first marriage to Elizabeth ARMSTRONG. I don’t think John had any children at all. His life seems to have been uneventful, which is surprising, given his occupations. Inns see a fair bit of action and the railway has its moments. As one of John’s namesakes in the Easingwold area sadly demonstrated. He was one of the Raskelf Sigsworths. The village is just three miles from Easingwold and a John four years younger than our subject, and a railway labourer, married and raised a number of children born there to his wife Rachel WHORLTON. They named one of the boys John. About the same time in Raskelf, farmer James Sigsworth also had a son called John who worked as a potato dealer. In July 1881, a coroner’s inquest into this young man’s death, aged 32, heard that he…
…met his father with some pigs in a cart at Brafferton. His father left there for Boroughbridge, and the deceased promised to follow. In this, however, he failed, and the last that was seen of him alive was at 10.30 on Tuesday night on the road between Helperby and Raskelf, where he passed a brickmaker named William Baines, of Raskelf, and said “Good night.” The deceased then appeared to be sober, and had on his arm an overcoat. A few hours after he was found lying on the four-foot way of the North-Eastern line, a little more than a mile from Raskelf. He was dead, and his legs were lying apart from the rest of the body more than a yard away, he being frightfully mutilated. A train had evidently passed over him…On Wednesday morning, about four o’clock, the driver of a goods train…stopped at Raskelf station and left the information that the body of a man was lying on the line about half-way between the railway bridge at Raskelf and the signal cabin. On going to the place indicated, the officials found the body of Mr. John Sigsworth, of Raskelf, potato dealer, quite dead, his legs being entirely severed from the body, which was laid in the four-foot. The body was conveyed to the house of his father, with whom he resided. The deceased had been to Helperby Feast on Tuesday, and it is believed he left that village about 11 p.m. on foot, and on crossing the railway had been run over by an express train. The deceased was not married.
Leeds Mercury, 22 July 1881
In early March 1888, another Raskelf boy called John Sigsworth died, aged twenty minutes. Life is a lottery.