The Last Words of Bridget Driscoll

Bridget was the first woman to be killed by a motor car in England, on this day 1896. The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of accidental death but one of the vehicle’s passengers and several witnesses presented evidence at the inquest that damned the driver more than faintly. A few months short of his twentieth birthday, and with only a few hours driving experience, Arthur James had a name that would raise its ugly head in the motoring world sixty years or so later – EDSELL.

The BBC, well-known these days for its patchy and biased reporting of current affairs, is mostly beyond reproach when it deals with old news.

BridgetDRISCOLL2This family photograph of Bridget and Michael DRISCOLL and their children is in the public domain (via Wikimedia Commons). If it has been correctly attributed it must have been taken before 1891 when daughter Mary was 14, John 12 and James 9 (census source).

Mary was called “May” in newspaper reports of the Inquest. She testified that the car was proceeding on a zigzag course, that there were few people about, and there was plenty of room for the vehicle to have passed without hitting her mother. Two other cars had gone by a few moments before the tragic collision and Bridget had said, “What queer things they are.” A doctor said that Bridget had died instantly from a blow that sliced open her skull, exposing the brain.

I have not had time to do a thorough investigation on FamilySearch but I don’t think any of the dramatis personae of this sad tale are represented on the World Tree.

In 1901 the census found John Driscoll in Stanley Road, Croydon, with wife Albina nee O’LEARY and their newborn child, Mary. Also in the household were widower Michael, 56, and his other son, James, aged 19 and working as an Engineer’s Clerk.

Headstones Project

John and Maisie Crimlisk divided St Oswald’s churchyard into eight areas when they carried out their transcription project in the 1970s. A to H. I took a roll call last week and discovered I haven’t taken as many photographs of the headstones as I’d thought. The small sections, A and B are 85% complete but the largest area, G, is only 41% done.

So far I have photographed 899 stones, 49% of the total. I’m still hoping to complete the photography before the end of the year. So far, the “no can do” total is only 16 graves, less than 1% of the total. This proportion will rise as I tick off those graves without a headstone, having instead a kerb without an inscription or one that is overgrown, or just a seemingly empty plot. At a rough guess, I may have another 500 photographs to take to complete this part of the task. Rather more time-consuming will be the piecing together of families and putting folk on the FamilySearch Tree if they are not already represented there.

Today’s Image

The Mass Dial is above and to the right of the priest’s door into the chancel – though I expect you spotted it easily enough. More about such “objects” here.

There is another incised “sundial” to the left of the door with a more obvious hole where the gnomon once was. It is near the top left of a roughly rectangular section of paler stones that, I was told, had blocked up a medieval leper’s window. I accepted this information as “true” but a little research this afternoon points to many churches in England having leper’s windows – with no supporting data for the number of lepers in the country. I think this may be a case of Fake Lore.

The Rudston Mausoleum

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For too long the Mausoleum was a storage place for old lawnmowers and bits of plywood and timber. I was pleased this morning to see that an attempt has been made to clear it of rubbish. Maybe soon the structure will be afforded the full respect it deserves. There was some talk a while back of seeking a mason who might repair the stonework, perhaps even restore the structure to its original state. The cost would be enormous.

The shield-shaped plaque above the west windows bears an inscription that explains the building’s purpose.

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This monument was erected by the eldest son in honour of his father and mother.

Is also testimony of affection for his 8 brothers and sisters  and for other members whose names are inscribed within.

One of those named is William John –

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I searched under the assumption that he was a RUDSTON and failed to find him or any of his 8 siblings. This is really The BROWN Mausoleum.

But the Rudston name has great cachet in East Yorkshire, though quite where William John’s mother, Emily Rudston, fits into a long and complicated pedigree has yet to be discovered – by me at least.

Emily married the Reverend John Henry BROWN at All Saints Church, Sculcoates, in June 1838. Their first two children were born in Hull, the next two in Liverpool, two more in East Retford and the last three in Brewood, (pronounced Brood), Staffordshire. I don’t know how many are sleeping beneath the tiled floor. Kath has a note in Filey Genealogy & Connections for Harry COWLING (1920 – 2005), “an absolutely lovely man”.

He was a choirboy and had to go down to the Rudston Memorial – right down.  The steps to the mausoleum were not immediately outside the memorial, they were a bit further down the path so he and Jimmy Brown – as choirboys – had to go down with the funeral party. He told me that they were scared stiff.

It seems likely that the Rudston family name comes from the monolith that gave an East Yorkshire village its name. Eight hundred years ago there may have been a connection to the influential de GANT dynasty but they seem to have established themselves for generations at Hayton, near Pocklington. The pedigree is difficult to trace with certainty, in part because of a three-way split into Rudston, Calverley Rudston, and Rudston-Read. Andrew Rose has generously placed his fascinating narrative of The Rudstons of Hayton and Allerthorpe on the Pocklington History website.

You can find John Henry BROWN on the FamilySearch Tree but his wife Emily’s link to the Hayton Rudstons, if there is one, is not clear. I haven’t had time yet to check through all of Kath’s Rudstons and Rudston-Reads on Filey Genealogy & ConnectionsThere may be some answers in plain view there.