Jane Maria

She was the first child of Dr William Smithson CORTIS and Mary Jane née GREEN, baptised on the 5th of January 1846 in St Oswald’s Church, Filey. Her mother died when she was twelve and the household at census in 1861 shows signs of an extended family pulling together. Jane’s aunt Isabella Maria BOWES (her mother’s sister) was in residence with her second son Richard Taylor Bowes. The old salt, Richard Cortis, hale and hearty at 74, was visiting from Hull. Jane’s younger sister Alice Weddell Cortis was away on census night but her brothers were home – William Richard, 14, who became an MP in the Australian Parliament and would be tried for murder, and Herbert Liddell, 4, whose destiny was to cycle twenty miles in an hour before anyone else did. Three servants, all Lincolnshire born, completed the household in John Street.

It was in Lincolnshire that Jane found a husband. John Would PARKER was a farmer of 600 acres, employing 18 labourers and 6 boys in 1871. He was fifteen years older than Jane, in his mid forties when they married in St Mary’s Church, Newington (London) in 1876. They settled on the farm in Ludborough but were not blessed with children. They had dogs instead.

courtesy H F Morrice Collection

This photograph isn’t dated but was taken at Ludborough, I guess around 1890.

The enumerator in 1891 found the couple at “Lindens, Turnpike” near Louth. John was still farming, but possibly not 600 acres. He died  towards the end of 1893, aged 63. John’s spinster sister, Sarah Elizabeth, had lived with the couple for many years but she died a few months later. With all her surviving birth family scattered to the ends of the earth, Jane set off for Australia. Her father died in Manly on 15 September 1906 and she breathed her last in that place, 19 May 1911.

courtesy H F Morrice Collection

It isn’t certain that this is Jane Maria but the photographer was Willey of Louth, a town only six or seven miles from Ludborough. The wee dog could be significant.

Photographer C J Tear, 12 Clapham Road, London, no date, courtesy H F Morrice Collection

This is Jane and she seems to have an engagement ring and wedding band, so maybe the photo was taken in 1876, after her marriage and before she returned to Lincolnshire with her husband.

Photographer Rogers of St Leonards-on-Sea, no date, courtesy H F Morrice Collection

Jane seems to have filled out somewhat but John still looks youthful, though his mutton chops are greying. The photograph may have been taken while on their honeymoon (and Jane’s extra pounds are merely a fashion accessory).

The uncertainty about the identity of Jane in the second photograph seems justified if close attention is paid to the eyes, ears and nose of the lady with a whip. The features are noticeably different, though the overall shape of the face is similar.

What does it matter? I just hope that John and Jane’s seventeen years of marriage brought them much happiness. She was a widow for a year longer than that, and most of that time was spent in a foreign land. I wonder what her life was like in Australia.

Water 31 · Paddling Pool

Bad Company

I can’t be sure that the William WILLIS who found himself before the bench in 1864 is the orphan that was part-raised by the pauper spinster Frances MORGAN. The newspaper reports I have seen are lacking helpful detail. The young miscreants involved are referred to as “youths” or “young scamps” but one is said to be 22 years old. The two “just Williams” of yesterday’s post would have been twenty-one.

The law was most concerned about a 66 year-old reprobate called Charles COYLE.

A more detailed account in The Bridlington Free Press (same date) was headlined Atrocious Cruelty to a Cat and introduced Coyle as “a dirty old son of Erin”. He was facing justice because two of the participants in the events of 19th February were sickened enough to bear witness.

Coyle…who, it appears has for a length of time been in the habit of keeping a room in which he encourages all kinds of cruelty, such as dog-fighting, cock-fighting, and the worrying of cats, for the purpose of affording sport to himself and several young scamps residing at Filey, who had on several occasions taken stolen cats there in bags. It appeared also that Coyle had kept not less than five dogs for the purpose of worrying cats, &c…. He had lived in a room in a filthy condition, and kept coals under the bed on which he slept, and it was not an uncommon thing for him to tie the cats to his bedpoles until a favourable opportunity arrived for torturing them to death, selling the skins, and giving the carcases to his dogs for food. Mr. Richardson, solicitor, Bridlington, appeared for the Humane Society, and in opening the case said that during the whole of his experience he had never met with such a bad and cruel case as the one in question, now brought before the bench. … Coyle had long been practising a series of cruelties, and his house or room where he lived was a well-known depot for the worrying of cats and dogs, and one where every description of vice and wickedness had been going on. The old man was not only old in years, but he was old in infamy, and he hoped the bench would inflict that punishment on him which his conduct deserved, and he thought the bench would, after hearing the statements of the two witnesses he should call, think he was fully justifiable in asking for such punishment.

WILLIAM WILLIS said that on Friday, the 19th ult. he met a man named Thomas Jenkinson with a cat in a bag, and he took it down to Coyle’s house. It went under the bed and laid amongst the coals. There were four dogs in the room at the time. He was at Coyle’s at six o’clock that night with twenty or thirty others when the cat was worried. It was customary for a number of people to go there for the sport of killing the cats. The cat he saw was brought forward to the centre of the room and held by a string. Coyle held one dog and Featherstone another. The cat was partly worried by Coyle’s dog, and finished by Featherstone’s. Before the cat was dead it got away, while it was in great agony, and was again brought forward and two dogs got hold of it and were each pulling in opposite directions. The cat screamed loudly, &c., and died, and was then thrown to one side. Shortly before this he saw some cats’ skins hung up on the wall to dry. Coyle sold these skins to Featherstone.

WM. WISEMAN, another youth who had been present at Coyle’s on the day in question corroborated the evidence of Willis.

William Wiseman had the middle name “Willis” and was a first cousin once removed to our William Willis – circumstantial evidence that we have the right man. Wiseman, a fisherman, was eighteen and would marry in February 1867. Johanna BULLIMORE bore his seven children, the last after he had drowned in October 1880.)

William Willis had just sixteen months to live and I am pleased he didn’t go to eternity with his reputation completely ruined by Coyle.

The CHAIRMAN [Rev. J. HORDERN] then ordered the two young men, who had come as witnesses to be placed before him, and he, in very kindly terms cautioned them relative to their future conduct, remarking that it was a disgraceful circumstance indeed for such youths to be connected with. He urgently advised them not to frequent such infamous places as the one kept by Coyle, as surely they might find some better means of employment or amusement than that of cruelly torturing poor dumb animals, and they might think themselves fortunate they were not placed in the same position as Coyle and Featherstone, though they perhaps might have been with equal right. He would advise them to take the present admonitory warning, and never again disgrace themselves by taking part in cruel and wicked pastimes, as the Society of which Mr. Heffer was an agent were constantly on the look-out, and such cases would always meet with careful attention and the perpetrators of such heinous crimes would likewise receive their just punishment.

Charles Coyle was not reformed by his three months hard labour in the Bridlington House of Correction. Less than a year later (February 1865) he was charged with leaving his donkey an unreasonable length of time in the public street at Filey, fined 2s. 6d, 11s. 6d. costs with 14 days imprisonment if he defaulted. In December 1867 he was fined 25 shillings for keeping two dogs but having a licence for only one. In September 1870 he was fined one shilling with 9 shillings costs for taking lodgers in his house when he was not licensed. And over several years he corrupted a young man from a respected local family. William SUGGITT “fell into intemperance” and stole goods which Coyle fenced. In 1875 Suggitt was apprehended for stealing a pair of scissors and a silver pencil case. Fearful of the shame a guilty verdict would bring upon his family, the young man pleaded for a non-custodial sentence but was sent to the House of Correction for six weeks of hard labour. For receiving stolen goods, Coyle was committed to trial at the next Beverley Sessions. Whatever happened to him there he lived a couple more years, dying at the age of eighty in 1878. Overnight, Filey became a better place.

I have not been able to find the cause of William Willis’s death. He was buried in St Oswald’s churchyard on 9 July 1865 in an unmarked grave.

Tree 45 · Glen Gardens

Frances and Francis

They were brother and sister, born at the end of the 18th century and baptized in Filey. Their mother, Frances, was unmarried and there are few sources that reference her. The “best fit” indicates that her mother was also Frances, married to John MORGAN.

For most of their adult lives, Frances and Francis went their separate ways. Francis, an agricultural labourer, is working for George GARDINER on a Muston farm in 1851. Ten years later he gives his birthplace as Muston and is living-in at Carr House Farm, a mile or so from the village. In 1871 he is with Frances in Filey. It is the only census (of four) that gives her an occupation.

The lodger that has their family name is George Francis WILLIS. In 1861 Frances tells the enumerator he is her nephew and offers his true name. (His given age, 5, is more accurate than “18” at the 1871 census.)

In 1851 Frances is described as a pauper and shares her small cottage in Church Street with another – and different – young lodger.

Filey Genealogy & Connections has two boys called William Willis born in 1843. One has a substantial pedigree. He marries Mary KNAGGS and they name one of their daughters Frances. The other William is without parents, or a future that takes him beyond the age of 22. Searching for a glimpse of the two Williams in newspapers, the one who married becomes a local hero when he rescues three children from drowning in Filey Bay. The year before the other William dies he falls into bad company and ends up in court. (More about this later.)

In 1841 Frances Morgan is living in King Street, Filey, in a household headed by Timothy HOPPER.

She is possibly the fisherman’s housekeeper. With them are Robert WILLIS (a sailor) and Rachel nee HOTHAM, and their children Sarah and William. The boy’s full name is William Hotham Willis and when he is seven years old his Aunt Nancy (Rachel’s sister) names her last born child William. It is this William who is living with Frances in 1851, a consequence perhaps of his mother’s death in July 1845 when he was two years old.

Clearly, Frances Morgan had a close connection to the Willises but I have yet to confirm a blood relationship with “the nephew” in 1871. Not knowing for certain who the mother of George Francis Willis is doesn’t help.

George is the father of one of the boys who died as a result of the Bridlington rocket explosion (last Thursday’s post). The birth registration suggests his father is not known.

WILLIS, George Francis, Mother’s Maiden Surname: -. GRO Reference: 1856 J Quarter in SCARBOROUGH Volume 09D Page 278.

On Filey Genealogy & Connections George has a wife, but no children or forebears. Mary Helen AINSWORTH is represented on the Shared Tree [MGHS-L96] with her parents, five siblings and her paternal grandmother.

I don’t yet have firm evidence that Sarah Willis was George’s mother. The Hotham sisters both named their firstborn Willis children “Sarah” in 1834. Nancy’s Sarah married John MOORE two years after George’s birth and had at least five children. I have not found Rachel’s Sarah after the 1841 census and think she is more likely to have given birth to George. Or maybe it was someone else altogether.

I have a bit more research to do regarding the bad company William Willis kept so will tell that story tomorrow.

Found Object 42 · A Framed Picture

Cliff path near Primrose Valley

The Misery of Six

Not more on the rocket boys  – but the legal requirement in England from Monday for no more than six humans to gather socially. All because of a steep rise in”cases” of Covid-19 infections.

Most people know by now that a positive PCR test for Covid means only that scraps of any old coronavirus have been found in swabs taken. The test cannot diagnose Covid-19 – a disease that is beginning to look increasingly mythical.

Assuming the disease is real and the numbers reported are believable they can be represented in a couple of ways.

Source: Office of National Statistics

The average figures are for the last five years in England and Wales. The cause of the spike is supposedly Covid-19. Notice how deaths have been running slightly below the average for a few weeks since the “pandemic” shot its bolt. Nothing to see here – for a while perhaps.

Source: Worldometer

For this chart the Expected Deaths have been estimated from World Bank 2018 figures, with 12,043 people departing each and every week. (I don’t have the data to assess seasonal variation for the whole of 2020.) The story is the same as for the line graph – the scamdemic is over. “Covid 19” is currently responsible for 0.4% of expected deaths in “any week”  of an old normal year.

There must be other reasons for the regime immiserating us with more restrictions and stolen freedoms. Dave Cullen has some ideas. And Dr. Sam in New Zealand bravely sticks her head above the parapet regarding masks and Covid vaccines.

Metal 14 · Tank

Six Boys and a Rocket

On the night of Wednesday, 2 March 1892, the Coastguards at the Hilderthorpe Lifeboat Station called out the Volunteer Life Company and the lifeboat crew by firing two “rockets”. One of the gun-cotton detonators failed to explode and landed in the garden of William GRAY in West Street. If the new RNLI Station is on the site of the old one, the detonator didn’t fly far. You can see West Street at the top of the image above (though there seems to be little room for gardens nowadays). The Saturday Leeds Mercury reported that a boy called HUTCHINSON found the detonator on Thursday morning. He did a deal with another boy, receiving a knife in exchange. The new owner of the ordnance was one of five boys who conspired to take what was in effect a small bomb and “let it off” on Thursday evening. They placed it on a wall surrounding the Local Board’s tool-shed on Beck Hill (a short walk north of West Street) and one of the boys ignited it with a match. The explosion shook the neighbourhood and was heard all over the town. The first people who rushed to the scene found  four of the “poor little fellows” lying senseless and bleeding on the ground. The fifth, John WILLIS had been able to run to his home in nearby Boynton’s Yard. Harry LYON and Arthur ATKINSON were conveyed to their home in Grundell Terrace (Nelson Street); Fred EDMUND was taken to Dr GODFREY’s surgery, his wounds dressed and then sent home; and after his wounds had been attended to, Tom WILLIAMSON was taken to the Lloyd Cottage Hospital.

The boys injuries received further attention from two more doctors (WETWAN and THOMPSON). Arthur Atkinson, 10, and his stepbrother Harry Lyon, 8, were considered the most seriously injured – some of the charge had penetrated Arthur’s lungs. Tom Williamson’s face and jaw were “shattered” and his left hand partially destroyed. Fred Edmund, 10, received injuries to his left hand and left leg. John Willis had “received a slight fracture of the skull and injury to the left eye”.

An addendum to the newspaper report ran –

Death of One of the Sufferers

Arthur Atkinson succumbed to his injuries at five o’clock yesterday morning at the hospital. Harry Lyon and Tom Williamson are in a critical state. Willis and Edmund are progressing favourably.

One of the survivors died some weeks later.

I happened upon this sad story in pursuit of information about John Henry’s father. George Francis was the illegitimate child of one Sarah Willis – but there is a second Sarah Willis born in the same year and location, and they appear to be first cousins. I was looking for a source that would show which Sarah was George’s mother. I have a hunch, because one Sarah “disappears”. At one census George is with a woman who claims to be his aunt. At the next census he has been given her family name – MORGAN – but marries later as a Willis.

I will write more about the Morgan/Willis situation another day but will end with “the boy named Hutchinson” who, sensibly, got rid of the bomb. William Gray of West Street was a Coal Merchant and at the previous year’s census his roof was sheltering six sons and three daughters. You would think one of these children would have found the dangerous object first. But next door was Holdsworth Hutchinson, a cordwainer, wife Ann, four sons and a daughter. I suspect ten-year-old Alfred was the finder who chose not to be a keeper. (Eldest Frederick was seventeen and an Ironmonger’s Assistant and third son Harold only seven and surely too young to barter with older boys.)

I wonder how the deaths affected Alfred Holdsworth Hutchinson. In 1901 he is following his father’s trade and living with brother Frederick, who is now married to Mary and father of a four year-old son. In 1911 Alfred is living alone, still single at thirty. He marries before the end of the year though. His bride is Rose Ethel SEARBY, daughter of a Hull provision dealer and somewhat mysteriously, they tie the knot in Hartlepool. Alfred takes her to Bridlington and at the end of September 1939 the census-taker finds them here…

… in the street where Arthur Atkinson had lived for such a short time.

Path 108 · Cleveland Way