Francis GRACE, a young man of 17 years, sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl in Filey 132 years ago. I wrote about the sad, short life of Mary Lizzie WILKINSON in Looking at Filey, speculating on what happened to Francis. I was unable to find a Grace family in the town but noted the death of Francis Grace, 19, in Hull two years later, adding “I haven’t been able to confirm that this was Mary Lizzie’s attacker, breathing his last in Hull Jail perhaps.”
Here are two newspaper reports.
Mary Lizzie died about three years later, aged 13. Victim and victimizer are buried seven rows apart in Area D of St Oswald’s churchyard, though the young girl’s stone has been relocated and now stands against the north wall.
At some point during today’s research I remembered Baby Boomers, a June post here on Redux. Sure enough, Francis had been registered at birth as a GRACE, his mother’s maiden surname BOWMAN. All of his siblings had been given GRICE. Francis was the odd one out –a dis-grace you might say.
When searching for a newspaper account of his death in 1887 there were 33 hits, the one you see above and 32 reports of cricket matches in which the fine fellow pictured left played. William Gilbert GRACE is on FST as himself. Francis, rather surprisingly given his contrary given name at the beginning and end of his life, is on the World Tree correctly as a Grice.
Today’s Image only coincidentally celebrates the start this weekend of the English Premier League season. I saw the ball yesterday evening, bobbing in the high tide wavelets at Children’s Corner and was surprised to see it cast on the sands at Coble Landing this morning. To think, if you can kick one of these about really well you can become a millionaire in no time. W.G. must be spinning in his grave.
Photo of W. G. Grace by Herbert Rose Barraud (1845-1896) via Wikimedia Commons
Update 15 August
I went to the churchyard on my early walk to see how far away Frank and Mary Lizzie are from each other. They are at opposite ends of their respective rows, a crow-flown distance of about 90 feet. The poor girl’s grave is now undefined and unmarked, near a bench and William and Mary SIMPSON’s broken headstone. If you have followed the link above to Looking at Filey you will have seen how lovely Mary Lizzie’s stone is, with its rose carving. In its relocated position it is just fourteen feet from Frank’s grave. His remembrance catches the early morning sunlight; hers is in the wall’s shadow.
Five years ago I wrote a post about one Robert COLLEY, up before the magistrates at Bridlington Petty Sessions charged with cruelty to a horse. I couldn’t identify the miscreant with confidence back then but I did find the attending RSPCA officer in the recently taken 1881 Census. I checked on Samuel CRAIGIE again today and discovered he came to a rather sad end.
He became an Inspector with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after serving in the British Army. I don’t know how long he was a soldier, service number 365, but he must have spent many hours on a horse. His attestation date was 10th November 1864 and at the 1871 Census he was enumerated at the Cavalry Barracks, Spital Road, New Windsor. When discharged he was a Corporal Major in the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards – the highest rank for a non-commissioned officer in the Household Cavalry. He must have known great despair when he witnessed, time and again, the terrible cruelty his fellow humans inflicted on their animals in “civvy street”.
I couldn’t find him in 1891 but ten years later he was working as a check taker in a Music Hall, aged 56. (He collected tickets from patrons entering the auditorium and perhaps showed them to their seats.) His wife Ellen Agnes was helping to make ends meet by working as a needlewoman. About thirty months later she found herself a widow.
Samuel is on FamilySearch Tree, the second child (and second Samuel) of Andrew Craigie and Susan Lamb, born in Coupar Angus on the 1st June 1844. He had 5 brothers and four sisters but I failed to find any children he may have had with Ellen Agnes. I have struggled to find this lady in the records. I suspect she was a widow when she married Samuel and she may have been reluctant to give her true age to census enumerators. The death of an Ellen Agnes Craigie registered in Nottingham in 1916 has her age as 78, eight years older than the Ellen of the 1901 Census.
The Third Battle of Ypres began on 31st July 1917 and August in Flanders would be the wettest in living memory. The alternative name for this three-month slog through mud is Passchendaele, a village that wouldn’t be fought over until 12th October and, what was left of it, finally taken on 6th November.
Scarborough born Benjamin Watson STORRY traveled just a short distance on this particular road to hell, with B Company, 2nd Battalion South Staffordshires. Dan Eaton records that Ben “enlisted in Beverley, had poor hearing and eyesight but felt that it was his duty to serve, and therefore did not apply to be exempted from military service.” I have no idea how long he served on the Western Front and I’m not really sure where his Company was in the second week of August. Several sources place the 2nd Battalion South Staffs in the Passchendaele campaign so he possibly watched the early August rain fall for several days before, perhaps, taking part in the Capture of Westhoek on 10th August.
I mentioned yesterday the uncertainty surrounding Ben’s death, “killed in action”. Filey is a small town but even so, I had a remarkable encounter on my early morning walk today. I met my neighbour in Murray Street. He was reading his just-bought newspaper as he walked home. I said, “You must enjoy fairy stories if you’re reading that rag.” He said, “I’m looking at the football results – they’re all true.” I had to concede. “And I’ll tell you what else is true – obituaries.” I said, “Not necessarily…” and told him about Ben’s monumental inscription being at variance with the “official” date of death. My neighbour said, “Neither of those dates is necessarily correct. I have a letter informing his family that he was missing on the 9th, presumed killed.”
We will never know what Ben endured in his last hours – or days. He was 36 years old, a husband and father of four – and my next door neighbour’s great grandfather. I’m hoping my neighbour will find that letter and allow me to share it with you.
I have made a start on updating Ben’s page on the Looking at Filey Wiki. You will find links there to a number of online sources that go some way, I hope, to make him seem a real person and not just another casualty of that particularly horrendous war. On This Day lists 545 whose deaths are allocated to the 12th August 1917. Nearly all are soldiers, all but one are men. Staff Nurse ROBERTS of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service is remembered in Danygraig Cemetery Swansea.
Looking down the list I thought it had been a quiet day at sea but eleven seamen died when H M Drifter Dewey was sunk in a collision in the English Channel.
If you scroll down to Gorre British and Indian Cemetery you will see that Ben lost his life (officially) on the same day as Private DANBY, a 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire brother in arms.
Today’s Image shows that Filey Bay was flat calm this day 2013. It was a “mill pond” this morning too.