The Value of a Good Education

On Thursday 17th March 1881, Henry DARLEY, 42, attended his first Spelling Bee, acting as Chairman for the social evening, held in the Spa Saloon, Filey.

Juveniles under fourteen were tested first. All the local elementary schools were represented and Florence PICKERING took the first prize and Tom SCRIVENER the second. I have no record of Florence but Tom was twelve-years old, son of one of the town’s doctor. Both children attended Mrs Holmes’ school.

A Miss “BRAWSHAW” of Beach House was victorious in the adult competition, with Mr RICARDO second. Neither is to be found in Filey Genealogy & Connections. Thinking the lady may have been wrongly transcribed, I looked among the Brayshaws and Bradshaws without finding a likely candidate.

The chairman said that they had two  more prizes for anyone in the audience  to compete for, and he would very glad for them to go on to the platform while the band was playing. Twenty-one competitors stepped forward, but many of them were soon disposed of, six of them coming down with “Oolite”. After that good stand was made, but eventually all the gentlermen succumbed, and only five ladies were left, when some most excellent spelling was gone through, and then another breach in the  ranks was made, when the field was left to Miss MacCullen and Miss Latham.   Between them the contest was  most  severe. The  two  were spelling upwards of ten minutes, when Miss Latham gave way, and Miss MacCullen remained the victor.

“Miss MacCullen” was almost certainly one of the McCALLUM sisters. Lucy Eliza, 39, was headmistress of the school she ran at Clarence House, West Avenue, with younger sister Margaret. 34. Both ladies can be found on the FamilySearch Tree under the name McCULLUM. (In both the 1881 and 1891 censuses, Lucy’s middle name is Martha.)

A good bet for Miss LATHAM is Rose, 28, a Governess working for the NICHOLSON family where one of her charges was Maud. Aged eleven in 1881 this child would later marry the much older Arthur Nevile COOPER, vicar of Filey for fifty years.

During the evening several duets were sung by Miss MacCullen’s pupils, Dr. Haworth, and the Vicar [Rev. Cooper], accompanied on the pianoforte by Miss Latham.

The McCallum sisters put education before marriage but in her mid-thirties Rose married widower Thomas Newton HARRISON in her home village of Tattershall, Lincolnshire.

The Scarborough Mercury reporter ended his piece –

We understand that another spelling bee and  a geographical  bee will be  held in about a fortnight. We hope that all who possibly can will go, as we feel assured that a more enjoyable evening has not been spent at Filey than on the occasion of the spelling bee.

The Spa Saloon would subsequently become Ackworth House and it has retained the name following extensive renovation. This morning it was unblemished in the morning sunlight – all the builders’ stuff gone and with furniture on the balcony shared by owners of favoured sea-facing apartments.

Wave 39 · Filey Bay

Filey Promenade (near Ackworth House)

The Tide Has Turned

Alan Jones reports on the abuse of Zoe.

Mrs. Nicholson Does Good

District Intelligence: Filey

School Treat

[Last] Saturday afternoon the children of the Church day and Sunday schools had their annual treat. A substantial tea was provided, and in the evening prizes were distributed to about three hundred. They were given by Mrs. Nicholson, of the Crescent, who last week gave a tea to twenty-nine little girls, whom she teaches sewing. She also has provided a soup kitchen in Hope-street, and distributes soup to the poor twice a week.

Scarborough Mercury, 14 January 1882

Annie NICHOLSON was 34 years old in 1882, a mother of three girls and engaged in the kind of good works you might expect from an older woman whose children have flown the nest. But she’d met her husband at the age of thirteen (perhaps earlier) and buried him at 29 so perhaps she was old beyond her years. (She would die in 1902, aged 54.)

For the second half of her life, she lived at 11, The Crescent, Filey – the photograph below was taken this morning, her front door just visible in the twin portico.


Her husband, Walter NICHOLSON, was the fifth of thirteen children born to the wealthy and ennobled Leeds Magistrate and Landed Proprietor, William Nicholson NICHOLSON, and Martha née RHODES. (William had changed his birth name, from William Nicholson PHILIPS, so that he could inherit the Nicholson estate at Roundhay Park.)

Walter led a busy and financially rewarding life as a manufacturer and farmer yet still found time to be a Guardian for the Wharfedale Union. He left Annie well provided for when he died aged 37, in 1877. No. 11 The Crescent had five servants in 1881, 3 in 1891, and 4 in 1901.

Annie WHITAKER was born in Liverpool in 1848 but the Census snapshot of 1861 captures her visiting the home of William FISON in Burley in Wharfedale. He was a manufacturer who employed over 400 workers. Another visitor that Census night was 21-year-old Walter NICHOLSON. The couple must have made a great impression on each other, and married seven years later at St George’s church in Everton.

The Nicholsons of Roundhay Park are well represented on the FamilySearch Tree – and two of Walter’s brothers threaten to draw attention from the dutiful Annie. The colourful story of Rhodes Tudor and Albert Henry can be found in this PDF. It complements the NICHOLSON and Nga (Wha Wha) RITAKA pedigrees on FST.

When I first looked at his pedigree, this morning, Walter was lacking a wife. Annie was on the Tree with her parents so I united her with her six siblings, joined her unto Walter and gave them their three girls. The youngest, Maude, married the 40-year-old vicar of Filey when she was just 21. Arthur Nevile COOPER is still talked about today as “The Walking Parson”. (He would leave his Filey flock untended for months on end to ramble across Europe, once to Rome, another time to Florence.)  For all his elevated position in the community and long life, I couldn’t find him on FST. He has a presence now but there’s work to be done to give him some forebears.

The Somme

On Saturday 7th August 1880 a young man called George MARTIN found himself at the Bridlington Petty Sessions, on remand and accused of “wandering about”. He had been apprehended by Sergeant COOPER and in the post I wrote about this event on Looking at Filey I wondered what had become of the suspicious policeman and the suspected “lunatic”.

Poor George eludes my search still but I have had more luck, if you can call it that, with William COOPER. His road led me to the Somme.

At age 30, living in Hope Street, Filey, Sergeant Cooper had two children; Fred born in Hull and Maggie in Hunmanby. Caroline Anne arrived in Filey in 1882 and Richard Mason COOPER was born in Weeton in 1885. Five more Cooper children entered the world in Leven, a fact that would indicate father William had either left the force and been allowed to settle down – or that he had risen through the ranks and jumped off the constabulary relocation merry-go-round. I looked for him on FamilySearch and found a record hint that gave the 1901 Census details. At the age of 50, William was Superintendent of Police, living in Ashville Street, Bridlington. The pedigree on FST had all the children born to William and Clara Jane CONDER but, on the face of it, only one had married. Caroline Jane, born in Filey, wed Maurice James PARSONS in 1911. She was then 29 years old and her husband 33. It was sad to see that their marriage lasted only five years. I felt sure Maurice’s death in 1916 would take me to France.

Before checking his sources on FST I sought the marriage details elsewhere. Maurice James and Caroline Anne were married in Wetwang Parish Church on 22 July 1911. The register shows that the groom was an assistant schoolmaster and his father, James William, a retired school master. Modestly, William Cooper gave his occupation as Retired Police Constable. The happy couple had not been previously married.

Returning to FST I looked at the three sources for Maurice. One offered a photograph of his grave marker in Warlencourt British Cemetery in the Pas-de-Calais. A brief biography stated that he lived in Skelton-in-Cleveland and had enlisted at Saltburn. No enlistment date is given but as late as May 1916 he didn’t have to volunteer. The Military Service Act of January that year exempted him – if he was still working as a teacher.

Maurice’s Index entry, available at the CWGC website is brief.

PARSONS, Pte. Maurice James, 5692. No.6 Coy. 1st/6th Bn. Durham Light Inf. Killed in action 5th Nov 1916. Age 38. Son of William James and Naomi Parsons; husband of Caroline Annie Parsons, of Wetwang, Malton, Yorks. VIII. G.38.

From their home in Skelton Maurice and Caroline could see the North York Moors three miles away, hills dotted with hundreds of Bronze Age tumuli. The last Maurice would see of this earth would be a burial mound in a foreign field.

The Butte de Warlencourt rose barely fifty feet above the flatlands around it but had been a perfect observation post for the Germans. The British and their Allies made many unsuccessful attempts to capture it. Some sources assert that the hill had become an obsession to the donkeys who led the lions. The Somme Offensive had started on 1 July 1916 and was still ongoing but nearing its November conclusion.

On the 5th November 1916, three Battalions of the 151st Infantry Brigade were to assault the Butte de Warlencourt, a 50ft high prehistoric burial mound in the centre of a man-made swamp, near the village of Warlencourt on the Somme battlefield, and used as an observation point by the Germans. It was heavily fortified with barbed wire, machine guns, tunnels and mortars. The British Army tried to capture it several times in the Autumn of 1916; the first attack was on 1 October by the 141st Brigade of the British 47th (1/2nd London Division).

Each Battalion being on a frontage of three Companies with one Company in reserve which was to remain in Maxwell Trench. The 9th D.L.I. was on the left, the 6th D.L.I. in the centre, and the 8th D.L.I. on the right. At 9 a.m. the assaulting Infantry moved forward. These troops were in four lines with a distance of 15 yards between each line. The 6th D.L.I. and 8th D.L.I. when they had gone forward about 50 yards came under very heavy machine gun fire, which caused them many casualties and prevented them from reaching their objectives although many heroic efforts to get forward were made.


The mound was captured in 1917 as the Germans retreated and whilst in British hands the war artist William Orpen visited the place and produced this impression. How hideous it appears.

Orpen, William, 1878-1931; The Butte de Warlencourt


There is a short video on YouTube with some introductory archive photographs followed by two or three minutes of drone footage. The mound looks so small and insignificant. Just the right size for a Bronze Age tribal leader. Never meant to witness the deaths of many thousands of supposedly civilized men of the 20th Century. As for becoming a “Visitor Attraction” in the 21st

At the 1911 Census, shortly before her marriage, Caroline was housekeeper to her widowed, police pensioner father. She did not remarry and I think she probably returned to Wetwang after her husband’s death to care for her dad. A death registration in March 1931 fits him for age, 81, as well as location, Driffield (9d 544). Caroline died the following year aged 50 (1 April, June Quarter Driffield 9d 371).

In the Looking at Filey post I also speculated about the Doctor who declared George to be of unsound mind. Whether I was correct or not in my assertion that it was probably Edward Warren HUTCHINSON, this fellow is on FamilySearch Tree with his parents and some other forebears.