A Happy Life Well Spent

Hatty MIDDLEWOOD’s birthday gives me an excuse to re-post The Middlewood Windows (Looking at Filey, 7 August 2011).

Two large stained glass windows in Filey Methodist Church are dedicated to the Glory of God but also remember George MIDDLEWOOD, his wife Mary Jane, and their only son John Charles. On Friday I was given permission to photograph the windows – and to post the results here. Here are a couple of details.

Courtesy Filey Methodist Church

The name MIDDLEWOOD was vaguely familiar, but I had to Google George to discover I’d put him on the Wiki in the December Anniversary list! He died in St Just, Cornwall on the 18th of December 1922, aged 88. Mary Jane had died twenty years earlier in Filey and she is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard. She was sixty-three years old, though the Free BMD registration gives “65” (Scarborough 9d 222). John Charles lived a few days beyond his sixth birthday. Mary Jane was forty-three years old when she gave birth to her only son and fourth child in December 1871. Firstborn Emily had been born in 1866 and then there were the almost regulation two year gaps to Hannah and Hatty.

The three girls were born in Gristhorpe and at the 1881 Census Emily and Hannah, age 17 and 15, were Pupil Teachers. I don’t know what became of these two young ladies, but Hatty lived on through two World Wars and died in August 1949 in her 82nd year. Her inscription on the St Oswald’s headstone tells us that hers was “a happy life well spent”.

Mary Jane being an elderly primer, with a family residence in Gristhorpe, two daughters possibly going into teaching careers and, above all, being memorialized in two beautiful stained glass windows – everything seems to point to the Middlewoods being from the first rank of Victorian society but in 1881 George was a butcher with a shop in Murray Street. And the family appears to have lived above it.

George was born in Muston, but it doesn’t appear that the Middlewoods were long stayers there. I don’t know what trade or profession his father John followed.

Mary Jane at the 1881 and 1891 censuses gave her birthplace as Harrogate which inevitably prompts speculation that, perhaps, she may have married beneath her station. She was a daughter of Matthew YOUNG and Hannah and baptized at Kirkby Overblow just south of Harrogate on 28th December 1828 (Family Search, Source film 918345). She married George at Sherburn near Leeds when she was thirty-one years old (Family Search, Source film 1068405; Free BMD Tadcaster 9c 646).

George retired from trade in his early fifties, and it must have been a terrible blow to lose his wife in 1892. Hatty, only 22 years old, had been living with her parents the year before so he wasn’t left completely alone. And of course, he had the community of the Wesleyan Methodists to support him. He and his family were clearly loved and respected in Filey to be given such a fine memorial in the Church. I wonder what the circumstances were that took him all the way to Cornwall at his great age.

She Married a Memorable Manitoban

In Filey Genealogy & Connections, Sarah Jane was the eighth of nine children born to John WOOD of Gristhorpe and Sarah ATKINSON from Hutton Buscel. The Shared Tree indicates that five of the younger Wood children emigrated to Canada. The parents seem to disappear from English records except for an assertion by FG&C that Sarah was buried in St Oswald’s churchyard in July 1895. My failure to see Woods in England didn’t seem to matter when there were so many of them on the Shared Tree, a good number pictured – one being Sarah Jane’s memorable husband, George E. COLE.


FG&C gives Rickman and Margaret only one child – Sarah born in 1828. The 1851 census finds mother and daughter in Dog and Duck Lane where Margaret, at the age of 46, Margaret is a “fisherman’s widow”. The Shared Tree gives Sarah three brothers – John, William and Robert. The youngest boy, born in 1833, is found in 1841 at the above address aged 8 with his mother “Mary”,  and siblings Sarah and John. Father Rickman could have been away at sea on census night but, given the lack of further additions to the family, he was more likely deceased.

Sarah and Robert moved north to Hartlepool, found partners and gave Margaret plenty of grandchildren. In 1871, named “Margaret Fenling” in the census, born Filey but with the erroneously given age of sixty, she was with Sarah, son in law Jacob and six COX children at 17 Mosley Street, Hartlepool. She was, alas, described as an invalid and her death before the year was out is noted on the Shared Tree.

Flight of Fancy 46 · Scum Face

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