A Troubled Family

What was Hannah HOOD thinking when she persuaded her husband to share a bedroom with her 80-year-old father?

The remains of Mr. Frank Chapman, aged 80, who met his death at Reighton, by falling from a window, was interred on Tuesday. Deceased was formerly a farmer at Gristhorpe.

Scarborough Mercury 18 December 1903

 

Hannah was about six months old and her brother George three when they were christened at the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Filey on 16 November 1865.

Twenty-three years later, George married Maria GLENTON. In 1901 they are in Gristhorpe with their three children, Charlotte Ann, 11, Robert, 8, and Eliza Jane, 2. George was sound of body, working as an agricultural labourer, and would see his father buried two years later. If he attended the funeral, he may have considered St Oswald’s churchyard a pleasant spot to rest eternally. If that was his wish, it came true a decade later.

I have not discovered the whereabouts of George or Maria in 1911, Their children were scattered. The youngest, Eliza Jane, is boarding with widow WELLBURN in Gristhorpe. Charlotte Ann is a general servant to farmer Thomas JACKSON at Osgodby, near Cayton. Robert is a “beastman” to another farmer, Charles Collins SKELTON, near Hunmanby, unaware that he will soon be asked to forfeit his life. A life remembered on the headstone of his parents, a few metres from the grave of Frank and Ann.

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In loving memory of GEORGE CHAPMAN of Gristhorpe, who departed this life April 9th 1913, aged 50 years.

‘Not gone from memory nor from love

But to the eternal Home above’

Also of MARIA, wife of the above, died Nov 11 1926, aged 67 years.

‘At rest’

Also, Pt. ROBERT CHAPMAN, son of the above, who was killed in France after four years active service, Nov 1st 1918, aged 26 years.

‘In the midst of life, we are in death

Forever with the Lord’

The life expectancy of a soldier on the Western Front was short, and for Robert to have come through three or more years of carnage to die within days of “victory” is poignant. I couldn’t find him on the CWGC database, the nearest sacrifice to November the first being an infantryman with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Robert isn’t to be found on the Filey War Memorial – no surprise as he was a Gristhorpe man. I looked for a photo I took of the Gristhorpe Memorial in March.

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There he is, at the bottom of the list – “K. O. Scottish Bords”. If he served with the 6th Battalion throughout the war he may have fought in a dozen battles, including the Somme, Passchendaele, Delville Wood, Zonnebeke Redoubt, Cambrai. Robert was killed during the Final Offensive in 1918. His body was identified by his cap badge, general service uniform and boots and placed in a temporary grave. With a thousand or more other comrades he was taken to the New British Cemetery at Harlebeke, near Ieper, in 1924 or 1925.

George had died in the North Riding Asylum in York, aged 50, unaware of the trials his son would soon endure. How much did Maria know of her son’s fate? Robert’s service record online is bereft of kin. She died on Armistice Day 1925 (not 1926) in the same mental hospital as her husband. What must those twelve years of widowhood have been like for her?

In 1924, Eliza Jane signed the register at the marriage of her sister to Charles Henry JACKSON, (perhaps a relative of the people Charlotte had skivvied for at Osgodby). Thirty-four years old when she married, Charlotte died childless (I think) in Scarborough, in 1949, aged 60. I don’t know what became of Eliza Jane.

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