Decline and Fall

So, men responsible for the deaths and misery of millions are ennobled. What is the world coming to?

This chimpanzee deserves a knighthood.


2017 Filey


The afternoon walk was uneventful. Quite a few people on the sands, all of them visitors I’d guess. And none displaying any anxiety about the coming nuclear war. Apparently, it is going to kick off on the 17th of February. Or maybe a few days before, to be followed by the Second Coming of Jesus. Exciting times, huh?

In the everyday fight for truth against lies and “fake news” several front line YouTube soldiers on the side of righteousness are discovering that their vlogs are being demonetized by Google AND having their PayPal accounts frozen. The elites are clearly concerned that The Truth is reaching a growing audience of people who are tired of being sheeple. The current bought and sold Big Platforms must be under severe pressure to curb the flow of objective reporting. It seems unlikely that making Truth Telling uneconomic will seriously reduce availability. New and independent platforms will spring up – until the PTB decide to shut down the Internet altogether. HAM Radio anyone? And snail mail? You can see where we are heading though. Civil Strife. Better perhaps to go straight to Nuclear Armageddon and have done with it.


1875 · Sarah Jane MAULSON · 2026 Cammish E155

1841 · Hannah DANBY · MG8J-3XD

Hannah’s family seem to have been content to live in and around Hunmanby but marriage to Francis MITCHELL opened the way to a Filey heritage replete with CAMMISH, COLLING, DOUGLAS and SCOTTER forebears. It would take a while and the connections are yet to be made on FamilySearch. Her grandson Francis, born in 1908, waits on the Shared Tree for his bride.

1897 · John William COLLEY & Jane LUNDY · 364 Colley G275 

John William and Jane have five children on the Shared Tree but I can’t make any sense out of “Nellia”. Third child John William Lundy (by my reckoning) was buried on their fourth wedding anniversary. (See below.)

1875 · Sophia Nunn née HAXBY · 1853 Nunn E64

1901 · John William Lundy COLLEY · L2BV-WKS

Old News

Friday 2 January 1885 AD.

District Intelligence.


FILEY VOLUNTEER LIFE-SAVING AND ROCKET BRIGADE.-The second anniversary of this company took place yesterday at Mr Fountain’s, the Ship Inn, Filey, and was celebrated by an excellent dinner, to which about 30 members of the brigade and their friends sat down. Captain Ling occupied the chair, and Mr Ellis, chief officer of the Coastguard, was in the vice-chair.

The Scarborough Mercury

I found Francis ELLIS on the Shared Tree. He had seven children with Elizabeth Small BROWN but five are “missing”. I don’t know when I will find the time…

Water 51 · Martin’s Ravine

Edmund or Edward?

William John PERRYMAN (Tuesday’s post) is currently without parents on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

The parents have a presence, lacking children and forebears.

The Blue Hints are to the marriage register. FamilySearch offers a page image and the groom provides a signature.

(Citation: “England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988,” database, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2021), > image 1 of 1; London Metropolitan Archives, England.)

Filey Genealogy & Connections has given Edward and Hannah six children.

The three daughters are all present and correct in the 1841 census – but their father is “Edmund”.

The address given is No. 22 Tower, Dymchurch. “Edmund” is not given an occupation but the Tower referred to is one of many built on England’s southern coast to deal with the invasion threat posed by Napoleon Bonaparte. After that danger passed this Martello Tower served the Dymchurch Coastguard Station.  

Look for “Edmund” Perryman on a list of British coastguards on Genuki, and then scroll up to “Perriman” to see EDWARD and Hannah with two children in 1871.

In 1861, the family is in Murray Street, Filey, but not easy to find – unless you search for “Edmond PENYMAN”. I have not found the parents in the 1881 census but there is an 1883 death registration in Scarborough for an EDMUND Perryman, with an age at death that fits his birth year. I failed to find a death record for an Edward Perryman.

His widow appears in the next two censuses, living with son Edward James in St Mary’s Walk, Scarborough. She dies on 13 April 1901 (less than a fortnight after the census) and a Roman Catholic register records her burial four days later, giving her age as 86. The same age is found in the civil death registration source but the recent census giving her age as 91 is a better fit with her other vital records.

I have enough information now to extend the family on the Shared Tree. My coastguard will be Edward, not Edmund.

Tree 72 · West Avenue

Too Late the Hero – and the Heroines

In the link I posted on Wednesday that directed you to a brief account of The Tragedy at Reighton Gap, Ces Mowthorpe said that a young nursemaid had charge of the five children who drowned. The nursemaid survived and, pitying her for the burden of guilt she may have carried for the rest of her life, I looked for her in the records. She proved to be a figment of Ces’s imagination, as were the “strong, fit country men” who were “washed off their feet as they tried to reach those who were marooned”.

Lavinia TAYLOR and her three children – Lily, 12, Clarissa, 9, and Elsie, 7 – had spent a month at Reighton with sister in law Hannah, her husband William WEBSTER and their two girls, Martha Alice, 11, and Hannah Mary, 3. The cousins had spent many happy hours playing on the sands and this was to be their last time together before the Taylors returned to their home in Leeds.

About two in the afternoon, the mothers settled themselves on the beach at Reighton Gap to knit, chat and watch the children build sand castles on the nearby sandbank. About half an hour later one of the children called out. The two women went to investigate the cause of the alarm and saw that the rising tide had filled the ditch encircling the sandbank. The photograph below, taken on 20 March 2015 from the path down to Speeton Sands, will give you some idea of the topography. (The line of concrete blocks on the beach are relics of the Second World War but the smudges closer to the sea on the right are remnants of the steam schooner Laura, wrecked in 1897. There would have been more of her visible in 1902.)

The mothers removed their shoes and stockings, hitched up their skirts and waded into the ditch. It was about twelve feet wide and the water was soon up to their shoulders. They were forced back to the beach. Realising they could not save their children, they looked around for help. There was not a soul in sight. They quickly came to a decision that seems incomprehensible to me. Hannah Webster set off north to Filey – three miles away – and Lavinia Taylor made for the cliff path up to the Coastguard post at Speeton.

About a mile north, Hannah met a married couple in their mid to late thirties, riding bicycles. After explaining her plight, William Henry CASS thought it best that he went to the children and that Hannah should take his wife’s bicycle and ride to Filey for more help. William had not gone far when his chain came off and he had to run most of the way to the sandbank, with Ruth following.

Meanwhile, Lavinia had met a woman walking south from the Speeton White Cliffs. Lavinia asked if she would kindly dash up the cliffs to Mr Chapman’s farm for help. Miss HARPER, as she is called in all newspaper reports, explained that it was beyond her ability to do so, following a serious accident she had suffered some years earlier – but she had just passed a lady who she didn’t know but who might be able to oblige. The woman, unnamed in the newspapers, did Miss Harper’s bidding. Miss Harper then said she would save the children and strode into the ditch. She came quite close to the girls before her feet gave way. She tried again from a different starting point but failed again to reach the children.

William Cass arrived then and, without removing his clothes, strode into the water. He could not swim and, well short of the children, he dropped into a a hole and briefly disappeared  from view. Somehow, he made it back to the beach and, as he was being helped out of the water  by Ruth, a wave swept the children from the sandbank.

The alarm Hannah Webster had raised in Filey brought people who could only search for the bodies of the children. Four were recovered close by from the “lays” (ditches). Three-year-old Hannah Mary Webster was carried three miles to Filey Brigg and found the next day in a shallow pool on Filey Brigg. She was buried in God’s Acre with her sister. The Taylor girls were taken home to Leeds. School friends carried their coffins to graves in Holbeck Cemetery.

The following month, William Cass, Miss Harper and Miss E M FENWICK received Awards for Heroes from the Royal Humane Society. Miss Fenwick must have been the woman who went to Mr Chapman’s farm for help. Her initials have not been enough for me to trace her. And all I could find out about Miss Harper was that she seemed to earn her living by renting property in the Reighton area.

The desperate sadness of this story does not end with the children being laid to rest. David Taylor, Lavinia’s husband, died five years later, aged 43. Lavinia was living alone in 1911 and this is what she wrote on the census form.

She died in 1928, aged 62.

Hannah Webster was only fifty when she died in 1913. The 1911 census form states the couple had five children, with three still living. I have not been able to find the trio in the records.

In the shadows of this story there is a villain. A man who could have saved all five of the children but chose instead to leave them in their place of danger. At the first inquest there was this exchange:-

Coroner: Did they wade across shallow water to reach the high and dry part?

Mrs Taylor: No, when we saw them at play they were quite safe. We sat down, and were knitting, and heard the Reighton coastguardsman say to them as he passed down on his way to Speeton Well, ‘You are enjoying yourselves.’ Evidently he saw no danger or he would certainly have told them.

That very morning, about ten o’clock, a young man called Harry SCOBY went for a swim from Speeton Sands with a friend. The tide was near full ebb. Harry got into difficulties in deep water and drowned. The friend went to the village for help and, when he returned with some men, he found Harry’s body had washed up on the beach. The tide had turned. It is inconceivable that the Reighton coastguard was unaware of this event, the incoming tide that mid-afternoon – and the dangers presented by the Reighton leys. I wonder if he lived on with a burden of guilt.

Beach 130 · Reighton Gap

Just after the solar eclipse

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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.