A Filey Shepherd

There were several farms in and around Filey in the 19th century but I don’t think any raised sheep. When Filey Fields Farm went under the hammer in the early 1930s the byres, sheds, and pens were for cattle only. So, any young Filey man wanting to work with sheep had to leave the town.

Robert CAPPLEMAN was born into a fishing family. Two brothers, Thomas and “Jack Wraxer”, negotiated the dangers of this dangerous occupation, as did the father, John Pockley CAPPLEMAN. Robert’s youngest brother, Stephenson, died a soldier in South Africa (see the post Three Soldiers, 30 May).

Robert began his working life as a fisherman. The 1881 census captures him aged 14 following in his dad’s wake. Ten years later he was a servant on Greenhills Farm near Pickering and the following year he married Mary Hannah BERRIMAN from East Lutton. The couple had five children in the first twelve years of married life, as they moved from farm to farm on the Yorkshire Wolds. The last two children, though, were born in Beswick, in 1902 and 1904. Thirty-five years later, Robert was recorded in the 1939 Register in Beswick, aged 72, and still working as a shepherd. His death was registered in December Quarter 1952 in Holderness District, which includes Beswick within its boundaries.

By chance, my bed-time Kindle reading at the moment is Wild Life in a Southern County. I have a copy of the book, picked up at Winchester Market for 25 pence in 1978, about a hundred years after it was published. In Chapter V, Richard Jefferies has this to say about shepherds:-

If any labourers deserve to be paid well, it is the shepherds: upon their knowledge and fidelity the principal profit of a whole season depends on so many farms. On the bleak hills in lambing time the greatest care is necessary; and the fold, situated in a hollow if possible, with the down rising on the east or north, is built as it werer of straw walls, thick and warm, which the sheep soon make hollow inside, and this have a cave in which to nestle.

The shepherd has a distinct individuality, and is generally a much more observant man in his own sphere than the ordinary labourer. He knows every single field in the whole parish, what kind of weather best suits its soil, and can tell you without going within sight of a given farm pretty much what condition it will be found in. Knowledge of this character may seem trivial to those whose days are passed indoors; yet it is something to recollect all the endless fields in several square miles of country. As a student remembers for years the type and paper, the breadth of the margin – can see, as it were, before his eyes the bevel of the binding and hear again the rustle of the stiff leaves of some tall volume which he found in a forgotten corner of a library, and bent over with such delight, heedless of dust and “silverfish” and the gathered odour of years – so the shepherd recalls his books, the fields; for he, in the nature of things, has to linger over them and study every letter: sheep are slow.

When the hedges are grubbed and the grass grows where the hawthorn flowered, still the shepherd can point out to you where the trees stood – here an oak and here an ash. On the hills he has often little to do but ponder deeply, sitting on the turf of the slope, while the sheep graze in the hollow, waiting for hours as they eat their way. Therefore by degrees a habit of observation grows upon him – always in reference to his charge: and if he walks across the parish off duty he still cannot choose but notice how the crops are coming on, and where there is most “keep”. The shepherd has been the last of all to abandon the old custom of long service. While the labourers are restless,there may still be found not a few instances of shepherds whose whole lives have been spent upon one farm. Thus, from the habit of observation and the lapse of years, they often become local authorities; and when a dispute of boundaries or water rights or right of way arises, the question is frequently finally decided by the evidence of such a man.

St Margaret’s, Beswick, 20 June 2017

Robert’s pedigree on FST is a work in progress. On FG&C he has a “guesswork wife” but his ancestors may be usefully compared with those on the World Tree.

Today’s Image

Two days after the patriotic beach scene was recorded, England was beaten 2 – 1 by Italy in the first group match of the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. A few days later, Uruguay defeated our lads by the same score. I remember nothing about the third match. A goalless draw with Costa Rica meant an ignominious exit by England in the group stage. National pride this year is at the feet of a relatively young bunch of multi-millionaires. They should do better than the faded “golden generation” last time out. I just hope our traveling supporters have a good time in Russia and come home with a different narrative about the Federation than the shameful one peddled by the United Kingdom regime these past few years.


On yesterday’s walk to Wilfholme Landings I looked around Watton and Beswick churchyards.  I’m not sure I’m a true taphophiliac, because I have never really pondered my feelings of contentment whenever I wander round a graveyard. Having discovered the FamilySearch Tree quite recently I have, though, an additional  reason for visiting last resting places – to check if the sleeping are remembered and linked appropriately with forebears and descendants.

First, though, here are some places to visit online if you have been smitten by cemetery love. Taphophilia  was rather slow to give up some of its treasures this evening but it may work well for you.  Loren Rhoads’ aim in life is to encourage people to go to graveyards and I hope her book, out in October, will be successful in doing that. With a title like 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die

20170620BECKITTmj_WattonMost of Watton churchyard is kempt but there are a couple of wild places. On the northern bank of the brook, under mature trees and largely hidden are several graves. I am partial to celtic crosses and was strongly drawn to this one. On Free BMD I found only one Richard BECKITT who married a Mary Jane (nee SMITH) in 1846 which figures but in Doncaster which doesn’t really, though geographically it’s not so far distant I suppose. A Yorkshire Gardens Trust Report by David and Susan Neave (pdf available online) helpfully informs that “from c. 1860 Watton Abbey was let to Richard Beckitt, a prosperous tenant farmer”.  Mary Jane died in 1876 and by the 1881 Census had been supplanted by Ann Ducker GREAVES, the marriage in Bath registered in the December Quarter of 1878. Ann was 44 years old when she wed, fifteen years younger than her husband but a spinster. Helpfully, her unmarried sister Sarah D. GREAVES was enumerated at Watton in 1881. Richard’s occupation is given as “Farmer 775 acres, 12 men, 8 boys”. A cursory look at FamilySearch Tree reveals only one Richard BECKITT, with a father Richard and mother Harriett but he is our guy [MPY9-2SB], christened Melton on the Hill , Yorkshire 18th June 1818. (Born Melton in the 1881 Census.) Also known as High Melton, this parish is less than 5 miles from Doncaster. Richard is not linked on FST to either of his wives so there is work to be done! Ann Ducker is duplicated [MRVK-7JT & KGQC-2JG] as are her parents John and Ann. Her sister Sarah doesn’t appear to have a record yet.

There is a likely Mary Jane SMITH on FST [LRDQ-WDB] but her unsourced spouse is given as Edward BECKETT. There are some issues with the sources that have been given or offered as “Hints” by the system. More work for someone!

BARMBYdalby_BeswickIn Beswick churchyard I only had time to photograph a dozen stones before the bus to Filey was due. I would have shared another celtic cross  but couldn’t find the grave’s occupant on FST.  Here is a plain stone bearing an intriguing name – Dalby BARMBY. Dalby is on FST but the family name has been wrongly transcribed as BARNBY [MGJG-B2Q]. (His mother is just “Sarah”.) As is very common on FST, the screenshot only gives the christened child in the married couple’s drop-down. A neighbouring stone shows that Dalby  had a younger sister, Jane. The 1881 Census adds another sister, Mary, and a brother, John, all unmarried. There is a thirteen year gap between Dalby and Jane so there may be four or five other siblings who married and moved to set up their own households or died in infancy. Sarah is a widow in 1881- “of the late John BARMBY” and there is a Free BMD Marriage record for John BARMBY and Sarah WILSON, March Qtr 1838 Bradford 23 133. Dalby was christened at the end of that year, 16th December, so this marriage fits neatly, though Bradford is a caution.

What is surprising is that one of the FST Hints has Dalby on an Outward Passenger List from Melbourne, Victoria in 1878. FST Hints are generally useful so I wouldn’t doubt that Dalby tried to build a new life in Australia. I wonder how long he stayed there. His occupation in 1881 is given as “farm labourer”.

Update 22 June

C39_SULLIVAN_20120812_1mThis morning I found a photograph of the monument to which yesterday’s cross belonged in an original LaF folder and checked out the people remembered on FST.

Michael B. SULLIVAN [LV41-W1R] was born in Turlow, County Cavan in 1848. The Monumenta Inscription states that he was a Priest and Vicar of Brackenfield but at the 1881 Census his given occupation is Primitive Methodist Minister. He married Maria MOON [LV41-48Y] in Malton in 1875 and the household in Trinity Place, Bingley in 1881 records Mary E, and Amos W.E. – their children aged 5 and 2. Oddly, a middle child at that time, Arnold Moon SULLIVAN, is not recorded. His birth was registered in Helmsley, December Qtr 1878 (9d 453). The full MI transcription reads:-

Area C39  Cross

In Memory of MARIA SULLIVAN died April 21 1922 aged 72

And her beloved husband MICHAEL SULLIVAN Priest, Vicar of Brackenfield, died Dec 28 1930 aged 82

Also their son J.H.B. SULLIVAN died Feb 8th 1932 aged 41

And of their daughter MARY EVELYN died May 13th 1949

‘Well loved by her many friends’

Mary Evelyn is in splendid isolation, without parents, on Kath’s Filey Genealogy & Connections but the FST takes the MOONs back a little further than is evident in the screenshot below.


The symbolism of a cross is, of course, powerful but extends beyond the obvious (for those of the Christian faith). It is a sign of a place where the paths of the living and the dead cross each other. In Asia the vertical axis is seen as representing active powers associated with the sky (masculine) and the horizontal the passive powers of water (feminine). The axes together symbolize the equinoxes and solstices. If I ever knew this I’d forgotten it – I posted the cross quite by chance yesterday!

The Williams Beswick

I arrived in Filey with my faithful companion Jude, a 7 year old lab cross, nine years ago today.  I can’t remember writing a local history blog being high on my To Do List but when I began Looking at Filey in 2010 the first post featured the area’s most famous Bronze Age citizen. Put Gristhorpe Man into your favourite search engine and you will find plenty of information about him, including photographs of what the facial reconstructionists reckon he looked like. His skeleton was discovered on the estate of William BESWICK (1781 – 1837) in July 1834.

William’s second son, also William, was born 200 years ago and as a 17 year old was probably in the party of amateur archaeologists and labourers who excavated the barrow near Gristhorpe cliffs. Should you doubt the interest in such an activity by a teenager in the reign of William IV take note that the first report on the excavation was written by William Crawford WILLIAMSON, the son of Scarborough Museum’s curator, also aged seventeen.

I will write a post about the excavation next month but today young William BESWICK is my first guinea pig in the experiment to link Yorkshire coast people in Kath’s Filey Genealogy & Connections (FG&C) with the same individuals on FamilySearch Tree (FST).

My initial search for William on FST was disappointing. Here is a screenshot of the family tree.


For a scion of a locally significant landed family this was an unexpected result but after a few weeks of exploring the world of FamilySearch I guessed there would be more to discover.

A second search, this time for William Senior, brought another fragment of pedigree.


You will see from my comments on the screenshots that Kath’s database has more information on these Beswicks than FST seems to be currently offering.

Here is a graphic comparing the Williams on FST and FG&C.


Two hundred year old William is the target man. His FST ID is in red as a warning that he is currently detached from his extended family. (See yesterday’s post for an explanation of why he is Generation 5.) On his male (Y-DNA) line the IDs for earlier generations are in green because I hope these will prove to be the best of two or more Duplicates for the people on the two (and possibly more) pedigrees.

The names of the Males in the Filey Genealogy column are in bold because they are represented on FST. Mary KELD is also on FST but as just “Mary” and I’m not sure which of her Duplicate IDs will survive a merging process that will see Young William linked to his extended family.

Brian BESWICK born 1602 is in regular font because I haven’t yet found him on FST. (This doesn’t mean he isn’t there!)

You will see very clearly from the graphic that the BESWICK female line begins and ends with Mary KELD. Maybe you can extend it by finding Mary’s mother, then her mother’s mother – and maybe even take the line further back towards “the Daughter of Eve”.

William didn’t marry and died in 1884 shortly before his 67th birthday. Only Mary Elizabeth [LRB5-GP9] of his five siblings married and her husband will be the subject of a future post.

I hope all this makes sense and is of some interest. Feel free to go to FST and reunite Young William with his family. You will need to sign up for a Free Account to make changes to the World Tree Wiki but anyone can access the Pedigree Resource File. To search for Young William there click Genealogies on the Menu bar and enter his name, birthplace “Gristhorpe” and birth year “1817”. Kath’s database should be the better of two birth and christening hits. The third return is for the 1841 Census which shows William and his younger brother with servants.

(The burial place of Gristhorpe Man is about two miles towards the setting sun in today’s image of the Cleveland Way.)