The Miller’s Daughter

Thomas ROANTREE seems to have wandered East Yorkshire grinding corn, judging by the birthplaces ascribed to his many children. He did, however, stay long enough in Filey to be caught by a census enumerator. The family home in Common Right Road (“Lane” in the census) is easily picked out on a map printed in 1851. (Now West Road, with Ashley Court built on the site of the Mill.)

Sophia was a middle child and married Jenkinson HAXBY, a fisherman, in 1853. They were together for over fifty years but were not blessed with children of their own. The 1881 census transcription claims they had a daughter, also called Sophia, but this young woman was Jenkinson’s niece. Sophia’s niece, Emma ROWNTREE, lived with the couple for many years – she was not a “visitor”. Later censuses indicate she was their housekeeper and at their deaths inherited the property in Carlton Road. Emma was a child of Sophia’s elder brother Thomas Dickinson ROWNTREE who died young. The enumerator’s book reveals his confusion. (Jenkinson was enumerated that year in Grimsby, where he was staying with timber merchant Samuel ELLIS and family.)

Without responsibilities to a large family, Jenkinson had time to throw himself into community life – with gusto, purpose and success. Responding to his death in 1908, The Scarborough Mercury offered two observations: –


The late Mr. Jenkinson Haxby, of Filey, had made himself a name far beyond the bounds of the little town in which he was born and lived all his life. He was the leader for many years of a band of men known as the Filey Fishermen, who went from place to place holding services. They were attached to the Primitive Methodist body, and their breezy utterances were looked forward to in many places as a relief from the ordinary pulpit supply. The special line of religious teaching which they took is the one which is coming more and more into vogue. Jenkinson Haxby and his fellow fishermen had not much learning and were not able to dwell on the ancient side of religion and “the wonders of old time.” They specially spoke of their own experiences in the present, and what religion had done for them. Various circumstances are likely to bring this side uppermost, among others the teaching of the higher critics shows that the story of the past has been covered with many accretions, and even falsities, so that one scarcely knows truth from legend. But when dealing with the present, one is soon able to sift the chaff from the wheat.


Never was a larger funeral seen in Filey than when, last Tuesday, Mr. Jenkinson Haxby was [laid to rest]. The whole available population of [Filey] seemed present, and the Churchmen and dissenters vied in doing honour to his memory. The address at the grave was given by a Primitive Methodist, Rev. F. E. Heape. In the course of this he said he had known many disasters happen to the place, such as shipwrecks, loss of men, loss of gear, accidents to children, and the like, but the worst disaster he had ever known had been the death of Jenkinson Haxby. This sounds great praise, and some might think it exaggeration, but who can estimate the value of really good men! Before a naval battle, the Greeks were recounting the ships and men possessed by the enemy, and compared them with their own few, and looked desponding. “How many do you reckon me worth?” asked their admiral. The question was not necessarily a boastful one, for the event proved that one capable man in command was worth more than twenty ships, including the crews. So the loss of a good man of the pronounced type of Jenkinson Haxby may be greater in the long run than twenty ordinary disasters.

Sophia lived as a widow for twelve more years at No. 6 Carlton Road.

photographed this afternoon

I think it unlikely that Sophia was aware that many of her kin had dwelt in castles – Alnwick, Bamburgh and Leicester, to name just three. If the FamilySearch Shared Tree can be relied upon, she had forebears in a number of great English families – Percy, Neville, Mortimer and more. Harry Hotspur was a kinsman, John of Gaunt too, and Æthelred the Unready was a royal ancestor. You will find others if you start here and wander through time.

Tree 52 · Glen Gardens

The Misses Abbey

The graves of Ann and Elizabeth ABBEY in St Oswald’s churchyard are 17 rows and about 90 steps apart. Forty-one years passed between their funerals but in 1911 the census enumerator had found them living together, on their “private means”, at 3 Station Road in Filey.

photographed yesterday

Their headstones, though very different in style, have terse inscriptions in common.


In loving memory of ANNIE ABBEY born May 26th 1868, died Dec 20th 1911.


In memory of ELIZABETH ABBEY who died 23rd April 1952.

Elizabeth’s last address was the house she had shared with her sister. They possibly moved to Filey in the early years of the new century. In 1908, at the annual parish tea and concert the vicar, Rev. A N COOPER, thanked the ladies who had “provided the trays” and those parishioners who made “gifts of money” following a fire in the Church:-

…these including; The Misses Abbey, Mr and Mrs Aspell, Mrs Breckons, Mrs W. Cammish, Mr N. Maley, J.P., Mr Wigley, Mr Wolstenholme, Mr Foster Smith, and Mrs Wheelhouse.

(Three years later Ann would take her eternal rest next to Agnes Caroline Wheelhouse.)

In August 1909 the local paper reported on the half-day collection for the Scarborough Hospital and Dispensary and noted the Ackworth station had been “presided over” by one Miss Abbey, and assisted by another.

The sisters were the daughters of Martin Abbey and Jane née DICKINSON. They had a brother and two other sisters and none of the five had a FamilySearch ID. Both parents were from farming stock but Jane was not as robust as you might expect. She died aged 31 in 1872 when her youngest child, Mercy, was about a year old.

Martin didn’t take long to find a second wife, a 38-year-old spinster, but Sarah THOMPSON lived less than two years as a married woman.

An advertisement appeared in a local paper about 18 months later…


Alice ElizabethWRAY was in post at the 1881 census, the daughter of Marmaduke, a grocer in Great Driffield.

Martin died five years later and there seems to have been nobody in the family to continue running the farm. In addition to his children, he was survived by 156 pregnant ewes that had to be quickly sold at auction.

I wonder what brought Ann and Elizabeth to Filey.