John William’s father worked on the railways as a porter and the boy followed in his tracks and became a signalman. He found work in Northumberland, where his path crossed that of a Londoner, Louisa Fanny BROWN. They married in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1887 and had two children. In 1901 the family was enumerated at Windsor House in Hexham with two boarders – William BRIGGS, a photographer, and Robert GRAY, a painter. (What Robert painted isn’t specified).
I couldn’t find John or Louisa in 1911 and searching for their deaths in England and Wales drew a blank. I assumed they had emigrated – and found them on a passenger list for the Orient Line’s steamship Osterley, departing London on 1 December 1916, taking them to Australia, John gave his occupation as “Grocer”. Four years later, George T Pashby, age 30, his wife Annie and their son George sailed to Australia aboard Themistocles. They gave Scotland as their last country of residence.
When John William was three years old, his great grandfather, 80-year-old Jeffery WILSON, was with the family in Clarence Terrace. Jeffery was a painter, in oils on canvas most probably, and on one of his Plein-air excursions, he happened upon the remains of the Roman Signal Station on Carr Naze. It must have been well-hidden or taken for granted because nobody else had been exercised by the ruins for a thousand years. Jeffery wrote a report about his discovery and pass it to the Filey doctor, William Smithson CORTIS. See Dr Cortis Speaks. The good doctor spent the final years of his life in Australia, dying about six years before John William headed Down Under. It is fanciful, but perhaps family stories with a Cortis connection influenced his decision to emigrate.
In an earlier generation of WILSON families, Jane is not related by blood to Jeffrey. But she is the mother of William BESWICK who was instrumental in the unearthing of Gristhorpe Man.
Both Robert WYVILL and Jane DRING had been married before, a circumstance not obvious on the FamilySearch Shared Tree yet. All in good time perhaps…