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

Geatches Tout

I have been keeping a dream diary for about a year. Last night I was a young man, not prospering financially but befriended by a rich landowner, a few years my senior. His name was Geatches TOUT. He spent most of his time and money designing, building, and competitively rowing single scull boats. He seemed to value my encouragement and limited expertise in this field (or river) of endeavor. All went well until he made an inappropriate advance that I rebuffed. I lost my luxurious accommodation in The Big House and was sent below stairs. Apart from one ancient retainer, the servants treated me very unkindly.

Geatches Tout possibly strikes you as a strange, made-up name, but it may ring a bell with Filey folk who read this post. Towards the end of the 19th century, five children of William TOUT and Elizabeth Spry GEATCHES had to live with the moniker. In order of arrival:- William Robert, Rhoda Bessy, Mary Medga (?) Jessie, Minnie Maud Charlotte, and Rosie Hettie.

Elizabeth Spry gave me the opportunity to add these young people to the FamilySearch Tree. I have carried a candle for Minnie for almost a decade, so she is obviously the spark for the dream name. The watery connection may be a coincidence, rather than obscurely psychological – but paterfamilias William was a Coastguard!

Three of the girls married. Young William died aged 21 and is buried in Filey churchyard.  I went in the rain at lunchtime to photograph his headstone, now sadly lacking its cross.

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His sister Rosie’s husband, Thomas HARRISON, also died quite young, just a few doors down the street from where I’m writing this. The young widow seems to have immediately taken herself and three children to Canada. FamilySearch has a record of the middle child, Mary Eleanor Tout HARRISON dying within months of arrival in North America. She was just fourteen.

From competitive rowing to professional cycling. Today’s Image shows that the work on “re-cobbling” the lower part of Crescent Hill is almost complete. On Saturday 5 May, riders in the  Tour de Yorkshire will pass this way.

On my stroll home this morning, I was pondering more of the dreams I have had recently when a flutter of paper caught my eye in West Avenue. A pair of dessicated wind-blown “leaves” from an old book. I had to smile at the title.

GoodWives

I found a true love late in life and today is the 4th anniversary of his departure to The Big Kennel. I talk to him every day. He was picked up off the street in 2001, when he was about a year old, and named Jude – because his origins were obscure. He was, like his two-legged namesake, something of a philosopher.This photo was taken in March 2009 when we had been living in Filey for about eight months.

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I noticed on FST that the Geatches Tout children’s GIDLEY forebears go back to Walter, born about 1500. The name in the pedigree that most appealed to me, though, belonged to Minnie’s great-grandfather, Robert MEMORY. Perhaps he was a Bad Husband – because his son took a variant of the Wife’s name, Elizabeth GETSIUS.

Families, eh?

Coastguard

John STOCKDALE was buried in St Oswald’s churchyard this day 1849. His headstone tells us he was  “Late Chief Boatman of the Coastguard Service”.  Born around 1776 he would have been in his mid-forties when the Service was formed, an amalgamation of the Revenue Cruisers, Riding Officers and Preventative Officers. He probably had a varied career, therefore – and must have had a very thick skin. Who loves a Revenue Man?

Well, Susanna GENERY did and they had at least four children. The first two were born in Harwich, Essex. Elizabeth seems to have come next but I can’t find a record of her birth. One source says she entered the world in Filey but her younger brother Joseph was born in New Romney, Kent. It seems unlikely that father John would have returned to Filey after a first stint here. There is a gap of at least six years between the third and fourth children too, so there are probably more to be found.

All four for whom I have some records married. The two boys settled in Filey; John junior had nine children with Mary WHITTLES(?) and Joseph at least three with Susannah WILLIS. Naomi, daughter of John and Mary married Robert SKERRY, brother of Thomas who was lost from SS Mexico. (It’s a small world.)

It is proving rather difficult tracing the journeys of those STOCKDALES who either married away or chose to venture overseas. At least two fetched up in South Africa and probably have adventures to relate.

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Sacred to the memory of JOHN STOCKDALE ((late chief boatman of the coast guard service) who departed this life September 1st, 1849 aged 73 years. Also SUSAN, wife of the above who died February 27th, 1851 aged 72 years.

The couple’s representation on FST is minimal at the moment. FG& C  gives a better idea of John the Boatman and Susan(na)’s impact on the town.