The Yawl ‘Ebenezer’

Captain Syd Smith’s database offers six fishing vessels named Ebenezer but only one yawl, registered as SH30, official number 14911. She was built in Scarborough in 1856 and was only three years old when she lost three of her crew. The Yorkshire Gazette of 9th April reported the tragedy.

Fatal Calamity at Sea

A deep gloom has been spread over Filey for the last few days, owing to the melancholy intelligence having been received on Saturday last that three fishermen, named Francis Haxby, William Sayers and Edmond Sayers, the two latter of whom were brothers, had met with a watery grave. This sad event occurred about four o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, the 1st inst., 30 miles distant from Flamborough Head. The particulars, so far as can be ascertained, are as follows:- The way in which fishing is carried on here, at this season of the year, is by proceeding out to sea a great distance, perhaps 50 miles, in large decked boats called yawls, manned with a crew of eight men. On reaching the fishing ground, two smaller boats called cobles, which are carried on the deck, are launched, three men getting into each. From these smaller boats the lines are put out, and will often extend for miles in length. The lines are taken in after a few hours, the cobles remaining attached to them. It was at this juncture the accident happened. There was a strong gale of wind blowing from the south-west, which, at this distance from the shore, brings on a dangerous sea. The yawl had broken its fore-yard, and whether the men in the coble had been directing their attention to this circumstance, not sufficiently regardful of their own perils, or from whatever other cause, must remain a mystery; but, sad to relate, on proceeding to the spot, nothing could be seen of the men,  –  the coble was there, and full of water. It is supposed a heavy sea had broken into her, or upset her, and that the coble had afterwards righted herself, – the poor fellows having been thrown out. It is to be regretted that the fishermen do not provide themselves with “life-belts,” to put on when following their dangerous calling; had these men had them their lives would probably have been saved. Edmond Sayers was an excellent swimmer, but this could be of little avail, encumbered as they are with clothing and heavy sea boots. William and Edmond Sayers are unmarried; Francis Haxby has left a wife and three young children. His widow will be entitled to some relief from the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society, he having been a member of that noble institution. The bodies have not been recovered. The coble, too, and all the lines were lost.

Francis was part owner of Ebenezer, with his brother Jenkinson, Robert JENKINSON and Francis CRAWFORD. Jenkinson HAXBY skippered the boat. The vessel was transferred to Hull in the summer of 1876 and re-registered as H1228.

Francis is remembered on his parents’ headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard, and on the stone below, which also names his wife, Susannah, and a fourth child, Mary, who died aged 5 years and 6 months, a year and a half before her father. Francis junior, the couple’s youngest child born in the spring of 1857, would drown from Eliza in October 1880.


Francis and the Sayers brothers on FamilySearch Tree.

Annie o’ the Brigg

On the 23rd January 1894, a gale blew a Filey coble into danger in the Bay. The three occupants were rescued by Matt JENKINSON’s yawl. With this minimal information from a note on Filey Genealogy & Connections, I hoped to fashion a brief post.

In the 19th century there were more people with this family name than any other and among them were several candidates for the owner of the life-saving fishing boat. Captain Sydney  SMITH’s database offered Matthews who owned cobles, herring cobles, and luggers but only one had a yawl, George Peabody, in partnership with the Roberts JENKINSON (senior and junior) and Charles REYNOLDS, a Hunmanby grocer. But that vessel was bought in the mid-1860s,  when “Brazzy” JENKINSON, one of my possibles for 1894, was only 16-years-old. Checking on various branches of the Filey Jenkinson tree took up most of the day and I failed to make a sure connection. So, no post.

I had only one photograph on file for Today’s Image and, by chance, yesterday’s research efforts provided a human story to go with it.

One of two Matthew Jenknsons born in 1832 had a 13 –year-old servant in 1871, Annie Jane PROCTOR. She was the niece of his first wife, Mary Jane Proctor, who had died seven years earlier. In 1873 Annie Jane earned extra money in the summer guiding visitors to the caves and pools at the back of Filey Brigg. The season was nearing its end when the PAGETs of Ruddington Grange, near Nottingham, came to Filey for a couple of weeks. Charles Paget, once a Member of Parliament, was 74 years old but still fit enough to negotiate the rocky shelves on the northern side of the Brigg. It wasn’t much more than an hour to low tide but it would appear from the story that has come down to us that Annie had a sixth sense of danger and urged her employers to return to a place of greater safety than a ledge near the Emperor’s Pool. Mr. Paget wanted to stay a little longer and was soon swept into the sea by a rogue wave, with his wife and sister-in-law. Annie managed to grab hold of Miss TEBBUTT, saving her life, but the Pagets were lost. There is an account of the tragedy here. Annie was misrepresented as “Emma Proctor” in every newspaper account I have found, and I have been unable to find any reports of her being thanked, let alone rewarded, for saving Miss Tebbutt.

The Paget family did pay for a stone pillar to be made by monumental mason William DOVE of Scarborough, bearing a warning to visitors. It stood near Agony Point for many years, on the south side of the Brigg, before suddenly disappearing. The inscription was later found and can be seen in the garden of Filey Museum.

Charles PAGET is on FamilySearch Tree but there are more of his children and forebears here. Stuffynwood offers a short biography.

Annie o’ the Brigg is not on FST but you will find her with husband Frederick and twelve children on FG&C.

Have another look at Today’s Image – the “Emperor’s Bath” is in the doodle beyond the foreground tide pool.

A Sign of the Times

On my afternoon stroll today I was surprised to see a couple of sinister-looking ships in the bay. My pocket camera did its best to shoot them…



Two people walking their dogs on the beach told me the vessels were NATO warships. A friend at Flat Cliffs had clocked them already. When I got home Ship AIS confirmed they were part of a NATO force. A900 flies a Dutch flag and M31 the Royal Ensign. The latter ship is HMS Cattistock, a minesweeper, and appears to be Baltic-bound for three jolly months rattling the Russian bear’s cage. Let us hope she gets up to nothing more annoying than that. Sadly, the west seems to want a big profitable war and may find an excuse anytime soon.

The Unfortunate Apprentice

On the night of Sunday, 10th January 1892, a gale blew the Whitby brig Lancet towards the Filey rocks. The Master, Lewis, ordered the anchors to be cast and these held the vessel until early morning when distress flags brought out the Filey Lifeboat, Hollon the Second. It took about six hours for the Filey volunteers to rescue seven of Lancet’s crew of eight. A newspaper reported that “one boy was drowned while launching the ship’s boat in an effort to get ashore”. Another report named the deceased as Henry COOR, who hailed from London and was “within eight months of completing his apprenticeship”. Henry’s body was transported by wave and tide about three miles and was found at Reighton the next day, the 12th. Several newspapers repeated the macabre and possibly misguided observation that “the poor fellow had evidently been alive when washed ashore, as his hands were full of gravel”. It is hard to imagine him surviving 24 hours in the winter sea.

Henry’s age isn’t given and I couldn’t find a “boy” with his name in London birth registers. Henry Thomas COOR, born in Bethnal Green, would have been 21 in January 1892. Old for a boy, and perhaps for an apprentice seaman, but a curious fact suggests it was indeed he who drowned in Filey Bay. His mother’s maiden name was registered as McCLARENCE. In the June Quarter of 1892 in Bethnal Green, a boy was born to Mrs. COOR née McCLARENLL (sic) and given the name Henry.

The names COOR and McCLARENCE bamboozled most registrars and their clerks. I couldn’t return the young man to his folks today with certainty. I think his father was William and his mother Maria – but she seems to have died aged 24 when Henry the First was two-years-old. It isn’t impossible that Henry the Second’s mother was Emma McCLARENCE, wife of  James COOR and a younger sister of Maria, but it’s quite a stretch.

I just hope the unfortunate apprentice will take his place on the FamilySearch Tree some day.

A Hull Telephone Clerk’s Last Swim

This post’s title was the sub head to a report in the Driffield Times, 25 June 1904.

Drowning Fatality in River Hull

Mr Herbert Brown, Deputy Coroner for the East Riding, held an inquest on Tuesday night, at the Three Jolly Tars Inn, Wilfholme, near Driffield, as to the death of Frederick Stanley Elsom (16), son of William Henry Elsom, of 157, Walton Street, Hull, engineer and ship-smith. The deceased was a telephone clerk in Hull.

The father stated that the deceased left home on Saturday evening with a friend, their intention being to spend eight or nine days’ holiday in a houseboat on the River Hull. The deceased had been in a boat for two or three days last summer. He was a fairly good swimmer, and he was in the habit of bathing every morning in one of the Hull docks.

Harry Pegden, of Olive House, Southcoates Lane, Hull, stated he was with the deceased on the houseboat. They arrived off The Three Jolly Tars Inn, on Sunday, and moored for the night. On Monday morning they got up about .30, and soon afterwards the deceased remarked that he would like to go for a swim, but the witness endeavoured to dissuade him. He, however, undressed and plunged into the river. He swam half way across and then turned, and swam down one side until he arrived about thirty yards from the houseboat. Then the deceased suddenly sank, and coming up again he made a gurgling noise. Witness threw him an oar, and unfastened the boat’s moorings to run down to where the deceased was but the wind carried his craft across the river. The deceased was then under the water. The witness ran his boat ashore, and went for assistance to the inn. The landlord (Mr Cooper) and witness searched for the body, and found it in about fifteen minutes; it  had drifted some distance. The body was taken into the boat, artificial respiration being unsuccessful.

Robert Cooper stated that the depth of the water where the body was about 15 feet. A strong undercurrent was running at the time.

The jury found that the deceased was accidentally drowned while bathing.

Frederick Stanley  is my second cousin twice removed and I only learned of his existence a few months ago. (My thanks to fourth cousin David for the information that gave me the connection.)

20170620NoSwimming1_1mToday is the anniversary of the drowning. I caught the 121 to Watton and walked the road to Easingwold Farm, then took the footpath south that became a shoulder high forest of umbels and grasses overflown by flights of kingfisher blue damselflies and meadow brown butterflies. At the Watton Beck Sluice the Environment Agency issued warnings 113 years too late.

Access to the Moorings at Wilfholme is discouraged. I met Mr Harrison in the yard outside what used to be the Three Jolly Tars Inn and he kindly took me up to the bank of the River Hull. He told me graphic and interesting tales of his sixty years farming here and renting the moorings; below us a houseboat that may well have been of the type hired by Frederick and Harry.

Unable to photograph the moored craft to my satisfaction I settled for this view looking north towards the Waterworks, now a Nature Reserve.


It is getting late. I will update this post with a few family history words tomorrow.

Today’s image (previous post) was made on the walk along Wilfholme Road to Beswick – and given Van Gogh I treatment in Topaz Impression 2. I didn’t feel  Monet I or II cut it.

Update 21 June 2017

The most recent common ancestors that make me a second cousin to Frederick Stanley are George ELSOM and Mary Ann, my 3rd great grandparents. Until this morning I didn’t know Mary Ann’s birth name – and I’m still not a hundred percent confident to proclaim her a ROBINSON. There is a marriage in Thornton Le Moor (Westwold Deanery), Lincolnshire between George ELSOM and Ann ROBINSON on 24th December 1835, (source Lincolnshire Marriage Index via Find My Past), that fits the birth pattern of census enumerated offspring. From other records “Mary Ann” would have been 29 years old at marriage and George 46 but the 1841 Census has mother and three daughters but no father George – and “Ann’s” age is given as 25. There seems to be a 20 year old sawyer in the household called Thomas ELSAM but he is at the bottom of the list. Enumerated in Cottingham, Yorkshire all claim to have been born in that county which is not supported by other records. The GRO record of my second great grandmother Caroline’s Lincolnshire birth gives her mother’s maiden name as ROBINSON.


The Ann of 1841 is 36 year old widow Mary Ann in 1851. In the next decade she gets twenty years older but her children’s ages progress  consistently. John Henry, 4 in 1851 is 15 at the next census and his nephew Fred, my great grandfather, is three.

The GRO record for John Henry’s birth omits his mother’s maiden name.


The family story is that  John Henry took on the care of Fred after his mother Caroline died in 1869. (Mary Ann died in 1868.) It was clearly a difficult job because at the 1871 census Fred was in a reformatory. John Henry was, I think, a successful self-employed gardener, 58 years old and a widower when his grandson Frederick Stanley drowned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was a little disappointed yesterday that I couldn’t find a peaceful – and beautiful – patch of riverbank to contemplate my distant relative’s death. One consoling thought I have had since is that Frederick was likely spared a longer and more painful end ten or so years later. He was the right sort of age for cannon fodder. I know this doesn’t make much sense but one must grasp at anything in an attempt to make sense of bad stuff that happens.