The Colley Brothers?

Kath has a note in Filey Genealogy & Connections about John and George COLLEY.

1861; [John] In 5 The Crescent, was he George Colley’s brother (bricklayer) who was the s. of John Colley. 1851; a visitor living with Richard & Jane Ferguson in Back Rd. a bricklayer. did he come to Filey to help with the development of New Filey? 1871: a builder living with family on the Crescent.


No.5 The Crescent is a substantial property for a brickie and those making up Cliff Terrace were not shabby either. The distance from the black door above to Wrays (photo in Saturday’s post) is about 120 yards. Not far, but not proof of a blood relationship.

Turn the clock back 20 years. John and George are living in Bridlington. John, 16, is a bricklayer’s apprentice, living with his father, stepmother, three brothers and a sister in Church Green. George, given age 30, a journeyman bricklayer, is in Pinfold Street with his first wife Ann. They share the dwelling with another couple, John and Bridget AGAR, and their newborn son Thomas. It is a three-minute walk from Church Green to Pinfold Street. George and John’s proximity in two towns and their shared occupation surely makes them “family”.

Living at 5 The Crescent in 1861 with John, his wife Grace and their two infant boys is John’s father, also John, who headed the Church Green household in 1841. It is he who is George’s brother.

I am not the only one who has been struggling to untangle Colleys. When George was five years old, his eldest brother William married Elizabeth WHITING in Skipsea. I have so far found three of their children, but on the FamilySearch Shared Tree they have been given twelve.


The marriage of William and Elizabeth is right, and Elizabeth’s dates of birth and death and her parents may be correct. But William was born in 1788, died in 1845 and has the wrong parents here. Only Maria in the list of twelve children rightly belongs to William and Elizabeth. (They also have a Skipsea born and christened George and Ann, their firstborn, who is missing from the list.) All the others belong to someone else.

This outlandish family is, however, well documented. One of them has twenty sources attached. But a close reading of the christenings reveals the family to be itinerants. Chronologically, the children were blessed in Doncaster, Ecclesfield, Hull, Doncaster, Ecclesfield, Doncaster, Skipsea, Bridlington, Scawton (x3) and Gravesend. Yeah, right.

If I seem a bit peeved, it gets worse. Looking for Ann in the FamilySearch Sources returns her as the top hit, but clicking on the tree icon brings up the Mary Ann born in Doncaster three years later (No.4 on the above list). This is very annoying.


I made a lot of progress with the Real Colleys today – because I had a lot of help. In a dusty folder on a back-up hard drive, I found a Colley Family “story” sent to me seven or eight years ago, in response to a post written for the original Looking at Filey blog. I hope to right most of the Colley wrongs on FST over the next week or two.

Also in the letter Charlotte Brontë wrote to Ellen Nussey (Saturday’s post):-

Filey seems to me much altered; more lodging-houses – some of them very handsome – have been built; the sea has all its old grandeur.

The first observation echoes Kath’s note about there being plenty of work for brickies in “New Filey”. The second gives me an excuse to link to the First Man in Filey. Adam tries out a new camera on the path to Filey Brigg, on Carr Naze, at Bempton Cliffs and Selwicks Bay.

Charlotte wanted to go on the Brigg in 1852.

One day I set out with intent to trudge to Filey Bridge, but was frightened back by two cows. I mean to try again some morning.

I wonder what she would make of digital cameras.

2 thoughts on “The Colley Brothers?

  1. Hi again. Forgot to mention that our branch of the family have been researching the Colleys since 1972, and tentatively have the pedigree back to c1590. I first visited Filey as a child with my parents, and with the example and mentorship of the late John Crimlisk, grew up to be a genealogist and Historian. Although in latter years I’ve moved away from family history to write on British India. I last visited Filey with my wife, three weeks ago. All the best Alan.


  2. This branch of the Colley family originated at Butterwick in the late 16th century, with William Colley who married Ann Rowsby on 4 August 1628. Subsequently the family moved between the various parishes in the area, with John Colley ( bapt 24.02.1760) marrying Mary Bulmer at Lisset, on 21 November, 1787. The couple had a number of children, viz., William (bn c1788) who married Elizabeth Whiting in 1811. John ( born 1792) died in infancy. John, born 31.01.1795 Skipsea. Married Ann Dixon. Ann ( or Fanny, born 09.11.1797 Skipsea). Married George Pape. Christopher Colley ( born 27.01.1801 Skipsea. Bur 30.09.1830 Skipsea). George ( born 08.09.1804 Skipsea, died at 6 months. George ( born 21.06.1806 Skipsea ) & Elizabeth ( born 3 May 1812 Skipsea. Married James Barr.
    John Colley Snr was an Agricultural Labourer, & like most employed in that way during the early 19th century, found it hard to support his large family. Periodically the family moved in the quest for work. When that ran dry, the Colleys were returned to claim relief from where they had originated at Skipsea. John’s son George ( born 1806) was sent before the bench a few times for poaching, and presumably he had tried to help out with feeding the family during hard times. On 18 January, 1830 George married at Skipsea to Ann Edward’s. She was already eight months pregnant, and it is uncertain whether her child born the following month, was George’s or not. Either way the child died in the March of 1830. The couple moved to Bridlington ( where John & Mary had moved also), where Ann Colley died in childbirth in the November of 1843. She was returned to Skipsea for burial.
    George, who by now was a bricklayer, seems to come off the radar for a number of years. But appeared in Filey in April 1852, to marry Louisa, daughter of Eleanor & Francis Smith of Cliff House ( Now Charlotte’s in what is now Belle Vue Street- then North Street). He is said to have married purely for improvement of his position and financial gain. George & Louisa had four children: Hannah Eleanor ( born 1853. Died 1934) . Married John Foster Barwick. Mary Louisa ( born c1862, died 1946) Married William Gofton. Sophia Mable ( born 1852. Died 1859) & Sophia Mable ( born 1860) who died in the care of her maternal relatives at Hunmanby in 1863, of water on the brain. During their marriage George and Louisa lived at 2 Cliff Terrace ( now Wrays in Belle Vue Street). It was here that Louisa died, again of child birth on 21 May 1860. The three surviving girls were placed with the Smith’s. George sought to continue his life in finding a new marriage. Why he travelled to Stickford in Lincolnshire to do this is unknown. But his new wife was found in the person of Sarah Town, the daughter of William Toyn, a minor farmer. Sarah was employed as a barmaid at the local Inn, and by this time already had, had an illegitimate son. George was very much older than Sarah. She needed security. He wanted breeding stock in order to acquire a son. Having married at Stickford in May 1861, the newly weds returned to live at 6 North Street ( now a charity shop in Belle Vue Street). It was somewhat callous an act. The property was just a short distance from Cliff House, and they had married on 21st May, the first anniversary of Louisa’s death. They remained at 6 North Street, Sarah having three children: George Toyn ( known by the family as Fadder. My great grandfather) born 17 August 1862. Emma ( born 28.01.1865 died the same year ) & a stillborn child in 1866. Sarah died shortly afterwards of ‘white leg’. Her husband predeceased her by a few months, having been an alcoholic and contracting liver disease.
    My great grandfather, George Toyn Colley, now orphaned at the age of three, was packed off to live with his cousin, Robert Pape of Beverley. He was a Master Builder and the £600 G.T.C had inherited from his father was left in his trust. Robert Pape brought G.T.C up as if he were his own child. At age 21 then, my great grandfather came into his father’s bequest, and set upon moving to London to start up a bicycle business. Before leaving Yorkshire, he had occasionally to stay the night at Middleton on the Wold. He was unable to find lodgings and was directed by staff at a local public house to try at the grocers. Here he met the daughter of the house, Charlotte Warley. He fell instantly for her, exclaiming that she was the most beautiful lass he had ever seen. He stayed much longer than intended, and eventually leaving for London, vowed that once his business had been established, he would return to marry her. This he did, marrying on 26 December 1885 at Middleton on the Wold. They returned to London and had four children, adopting another: George ( born 11.05.1886). Mable (born 23.10.1887. Dd 1940). Married Ernest Rickard. Annie Louisa ( born 06.10.1900. Dd 05.10.1977 ). Married Leslie Mander. Evelyn ( my grandmother. Born 19.10.1902). Married 1) John Henry Hayes. 2) William Lewis Luckhurst. After a couple of moves around South London, the family settled in Thornton Heath, Croydon. Charlotte died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. George Toyn Colley died 1940 and was buried at the family plot in Croydon Cemetery.
    Although now based in the South, the family’s tie to Filey was strong. My grandmother spent some time in Filey living with Mary Louisa Gofton when she was 13 or 14. Annie stayed there often too. Mable and Ernest Rickard had four children. George, the eldest returned to Filey to marry the late Winifred Fenby. The second and fourth children: Maurice Nelson Jellico ( Jell) & James Rickard, returned to join Yorkshire regiments during WW2. Both died in action and their names are recorded on Filey war memorial. My mother ( Christine Evelyn Hayes ) was in love with her cousin, and until her death at Margate in 2012, still kept his photograph next to her bed.
    So then there’s me. Born in October 1963. A southerner now living in Leicestershire. I too spent many happy times in Filey. You may see me there sometimes and I do notice the looks when I open my mouth, and a Croydonian accent is perceived. But to me, as with my mother and grandmother before me, Filey is home. It’s where I belong. Alan C Hardcastle, Heather, Leicestershire. (


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