Puzzling Pattie

St John Paliologus was something of a butterfly. Three sources give his occupation variously as business transfer agent, “formerly tea trade” and fine art dealer. Born in Calcutta but living in South East England in 1881, 1901 and 1911, it is not a stretch to imagine him briefly alighting in Wales to marry first wife, Martha Sarah HALL.

Without a church source or newspaper family notice, we can’t be sure of Martha’s origins. The marriage began and ended between the 1891 and 1901 censuses. Martha gave birth to Zoe and Irene in Reigate in 1895 and 1896 and died at Oak Cottage, South Nutfield just before Christmas 1900, aged 29. A family notice appeared in several newspapers. The Sussex Agricultural Press gave her name as Pattie, “the dearly-loved wife of St. John L. Paliologus”. Hmm.

The birth registrations of the girls give Hall as Martha’s maiden surname. In the three years, 1870 to 1872, the birth of only one Martha Sarah Hall was registered in England & Wales. What else could I do but accept her as the daughter of John Sanford Hall, a Leicester cotton manufacturer, and Elizabeth BUXTON?

Piecing together John and Elizabeth’s family was a harrowing experience. They brought eight children into the world and in short order the Reaper took six of them away. The first four, all boys, contracted scarlatina and in seven days from 29 October to 5 November 1870 they died. Their ages ranged from 2 to 6. A few weeks away from her first birthday, Hannah Elizabeth survived the bacterial infection.

Martha Sarah was born a year after the deaths of her brothers and was too young to remember the brief visits of sisters Mary Ellen and Susan Anne.

Hannah Elizabeth married estate agent Henry Walter John NUGENT in Hastings in 1891. The couple would have six children together, the last of them in utero when the Reaper called for Henry.

Spare a thought now for the parents who lost 75% of their children. Elizabeth didn’t make old bones, saying her last goodbyes in 1877 to Hannah, 7, and Martha, 5.


I have not been able to find John, or his two surviving daughters, in the 1881 census. He doesn’t appear to have been a notable manufacturer of cotton but in 1891 he was away on business in Europe and died “between Dresden and Cologne” that summer. (Perhaps one of his few happy days as a family man had been attendance at Hannah’s wedding a few months earlier.) He was 67 and his estate was valued at  £57 19s (about £5,300 today).


Martha was living at Lydford House with her father and unmarried aunt when the enumerator called in 1891. Hannah was only about five miles away in Battle but maybe that was far enough away to spare her the task of executrix.

Hannah’s husband, an estate agent in January, was now a poultry farmer and a couple of years later he moved to Gloucestershire to raise chickens – and more children. Two girls and a boy were born in Aylburton – in Chepstow Registration District. It now makes perfect sense for Martha to have married from her sister’s home. How the match with St John had been made and her re-invention as Pattie continues to puzzle.

Gas Attack, 1915

The Battle of St. Julien began on the morning of 24th April 1915 with the German army firing chlorine gas canisters at Canadian forces to the west of the village. The shocked allied troops soaked their handkerchiefs in urine and held them to their noses. The bodies of those that died turned black within 15 minutes. The Germans took St. Julien.

The next day, the York and Durham Brigade units of the Northumberland Division counter-attacked but failed to recapture the village. The 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment formed part of the York and Durham Brigade and included a number of young men from the Yorkshire coast who had enlisted in Scarborough shortly after the war began. Local newspapers would identify them as The Scarborough Terriers. (The Northumberland Division was the first Territorial brigade to go into action in the Great War.) The Canadians called them “The Yorkshire Gurkhas” and D Company was known as “Filey Company”.

Amongst their number was Thomas JENKINSON, 19, and during the counter-attack of the 25th, he was killed while attempting to capture an isolated farmhouse to the south-east of St Julien, at Fortuyn, now Fortuinhoek. His regiment had been in France for just one week.


On the 26th, three battalions of the Northumberland Brigade attacked St Julien and gained a brief foothold before being forced back, having suffered 1,954 casualties.

StOs_JENKINSONtom_1Tom Jenkinson has no known grave and is commemorated at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. The plaque in St Oswald’s church (inset) places him with the wrong regiment. (The 5th East Yorks was a Cyclists Battalion that remained in England for the duration of the war, guarding the home front.) The family headstone in the churchyard tells us where he died, and his parents, Thomas Robert and Elizabeth Towse née SHEPHERD, named their house in Mitford Street “Fortuyn”.


Also Pte. THOMAS JENKINSON 5th Yorks. grandson of the above

killed in action at Fortuyn, France, April 25th 1915, aged 19 years

‘Out in France in an unknown grave

Our dear soldier son lies sleeping

For his King and Country his life he gave

Into his Saviour’s keeping.’

Tom is not yet on FamilySearch Tree but you can find him at Filey Genealogy & Connections. He was a third cousin once removed to Richard Baxter COWLING, lost from Emulator in 1919, (Sunday’s post).

Polygon Wood


Before the Great War began the wood may have had this exact shape – but probably a different mix of tree species. It was fought over in October 1914 by, amongst other regiments, the 2nd Worcesters. When they returned in September 1917 –

…the aspect of the scene at dawn was very different from what it had been three years before. The open fields had been beaten into a desolate expanse of boggy shell-holes. Such trees as still stood had been stripped and broken. On the skyline to the left, a mere stubble of bare tree trunks marked the site of Polygon Wood.

The Battle for the Wood “raged” throughout the day of the 26th and in the hours of dark the area was subject to an intense bombardment.

…as dawn broke at 5am the artillery of both sides suddenly ceased their fire. For some minutes all remained under cover, then, as the guns did not recommence, men
ventured cautiously from their defenses and gazed around in wonder. The intense bombardment of two days and nights had beaten the whole area into a different
appearance. Such landmarks as had existed beforehand had disappeared. The surface of the ground from Stirling Castle to Gheluvelt had been churned up afresh, the whole
landscape was even more desolate and repulsive than before.


The battle for Polygon Wood was effectively over. “Intermittent sniping alone
continued throughout the day of Thursday the 27th of September.”

Perhaps it was a sniper’s bullet that ended the life of Private Harold CRIMLISK of Filey, fighting with the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.

Harold is buried at Cement House Cemetery, about 12 kilometers distant from where he fell. There is a small cemetery at Polygon Wood and this source offers a gallery of 14 photographs showing the difference a hundred years make.

Harold and some of his forebears may be found in Filey Genealogy & Connections and on the FamilySearch Tree.  He also has a page on the Looking at Filey Wiki.

The Battle of Flamborough Head

The Wikipedia account of this significant naval engagement, watched by citizens of Filey from their clifftops, is compelling, balanced and, I think, reliable.

I noticed this: –

Boats from both Serapis and Alliance were used to begin the evacuation of Bonhomme Richard’s crew. One or two of these boats went missing during the night, as ex-captive British crewmen took the opportunity to go home…

The author of the article offers the York Courant as a source for this observation. On the 24th September, Thomas BERRY deposed before H Osbaldeston, JP…

…That Jones called to the Alliance for assistance, who came and gave the 40 gun ship a Broadside, which being badly disabled, struck: That Jones’s Officers called for the Alliance to hoist out their boats, as their ship [was] sinking, in one of which deponent and six other … made their escape to Filay [sic].

This story is just about alive today when the Battle is discussed by anyone interested in the area’s history but it is usually accepted that the escaping prisoners came ashore at Butcher Haven and then made their way up moonlit paths to Hunmanby. They were challenged in the village, arrested and questioned. It seems reasonable, given the conflagration off the coast, that “the law” represented by Osbaldeston should arrange an emergency court session the day after the battle.

I don’t have any night photos of Butcher Haven, sorry! It is said the place was so named after the butchery on the bay. I don’t think there is an agreed casualty total but it is easy enough to imagine decks awash with blood.


The two top sea dogs in the fight were very different characters. One couldn’t imagine Richard Pearson catching the attention of Catherine the Great, or being accused of murder and rape. The Englishman was, though, court-marshaled after his surrender to the mercenary but exoneration and a knighthood followed. He had, after all, saved the convoy and millions of merchant pounds. He went on to have a steady, honorable career and died aged 73 in 1805. The multi-faceted John Paul – pirate, traitor, slaver, blackguard, hero, Father of the American Navy – had died alone in Paris 13 years earlier aged just 45.

Who has won the battle of ancestors and descendants on FamilySearch Tree? Follow the charisma. But that is a quality in a man that tends to dazzle and the several subsequent generations supposedly carrying his genetic inheritance sprang from a son, David, sired when the future Russian Admiral was only a year old.

The commander of Serapis doesn’t even have a wife on FST or a paternal grandfather. Filey Genealogy & Connections offers more. Kath has somehow located six sons and four daughters of Richard and Margaret Harrison and there are some interesting characters among his descendants. His second great-granddaughter Maria Pearson GREAVES was born in Burdwan, Bengal in 1864  and about eighteen months later her brother was born “off the Western coast of Africa”. Sir Richard’s youngest son, Jackson, was a prisoner during the Napoleonic Wars. One source has him dying in prison at Verdun in 1807, another that he was still a prisoner there three years later.  So much to look into – and not a one-year-old father of anything or anyone in sight.

On the First Day

The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (Third Ypres) began a hundred years ago today. The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial lists the names of over a thousand men who lost their lives during those 24 hours. Amongst those whose bodies were not recovered was John James TOMBLIN, a Huntingdonshire man who came with that county’s Cyclists to Filey – and found a wife. He married Elizabeth CAMMISH on the 19th April 1916, taking a respectable place in several of the other Old Filey families – Cappleman, Cowling, Haxby, Jenkinson, and Skelton. A son, Jack Crane TOMBLIN, was born on 29th April 1917 and made fatherless five months later.

There is a short but powerful video on YouTube that gives some context to the loss of life from all corners of Empire – there were many Australian and South African casualties – and the last letter written by Captain Reginald Henry GILL of the 28th Battalion AIF is a poignant reminder, if one is needed,  that cannon fodder had loved ones back home.

Many more died in this battle, on this day, but they rest elsewhere in Flanders. G/17480 Private JENNINGS, Wilfred Walter but recorded as Fred, is about five kilometers away at Hooge Crater Cemetery and his story can be found here. A similar distance further east at Tyne Cot there are 2,000 more men remembered for whom this was their last day.

With the help of Kath’s Filey Genealogy and Connections database and some further research, I have added a little to the TOMBLIN pedigree on FamilySearch Tree. If you haven’t done so already, check out John James and Elizabeth’s wedding photo on the Hunts Cyclists website.

TOMBLINjjJ J is remembered on the Filey War Memorial but not on the ‘Honours Board’ in St Oswald’s Church. Peterborough brought him home.