In Mesopotamia

Eleven British and Commonwealth soldiers buried in Amara War Cemetery, in what is now Iraq, died on this day in 1916. One was Gunner Albert STONEHOUSE, born in Filey in 1883, the fifth of Abraham Waugh Stonehouse and Alice SKELTON’s ten children. He was 32 years old when he succumbed to heatstroke while serving with the Royal Field Artillery, fighting the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia. His unit, 14th Battery, 4th Brigade, was under the command of the  7th Meerut Division of the Indian Army.

In peacetime, Albert had worked in the family business, as a carriage proprietor. He married Elizabeth GASH in 1907 and they saw four children into the world. Their only son, also Albert Charles, would serve as a Navy gunner in the Second World War and be killed in 1942. Two of his uncles, David and Edward GASH, died in the Great War.

The Amara Cemetery was desecrated during the illegal wars that followed 9/11 and only the brave actions of the Cemetery caretaker prevented total destruction of the place. I have plotted the approximate location of Albert’s grave on the 2012 Google Earth satellite image (Source: CWGC).

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Albert was remembered on the GASH family grave in St Oswald’s churchyard, on an additional stone that has now disappeared. The discrepancy between his age at death, 32 calculated from his birth registration and 30 on the missing stone transcription (and in the CWGC Index), can’t be resolved.

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Also of Gunner ALBERT C. STONEHOUSE R.F.A., killed in the Great War Jun 19 1916, aged 30.

Albert is on the FamilySearch Tree and several people have been making contributions to his pedigree in the last few years.

Albert is a nephew of Samuel Stonehouse who killed his wife Maria in 1894. (Some duplicate records need to be merged for this relationship to appear clearly on FST).

A Very Special Lady

There are hundreds of small memorial plaques scattered around Filey. If they were all transcribed and digitized they would make up a database of people, visitors mostly, who loved the town. If their native places were to be found, an interesting distribution map might be drawn, showing Filey’s “hinterland of attraction”.

The first plaque I noticed on my morning walk today gently asked me to remember Margery Joan RABJOHN.

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I was taken initially by her year of birth. She shares 1926 with the scum of the earth I wrote about yesterday so her specialness was a welcome restorative (of faith in human nature). Her family has chosen the Parish Wood as a place of remembrance.

With such an unusual name, I thought it would be easy to find Margery and her forebears.

A quick online search failed to turn up a “meaning” for the name. Ancestry’s 1891 distribution map showed an absence of Rabjohns in Yorkshire but another site remarked that there are still a lot of them living in South Yorkshire.

Margery was born a DEAR, to Thomas and his wife Dorothy M. CARTHEW in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I struggled to find her DEAR forebears so turned to her husband, Ronald. He was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire!, in 1924 to Percy and Minnie RABJOHN. Yes, Minnie was born a Rabjohn. I haven’t put my findings in a family tree program but, despite the rarity of the name, I would expect this couple not to be related by blood.

Percy’s parents were William RABJOHN and Eliza Ann EYRE, who married in Sheffield in 1869.

Minnie’s parents were George Charles RABJOHN and Sarah NORTON, who also married in Sheffield but later, in 1882.

At the start of the Second World War Ronald was approaching his fifteenth birthday and working as a Gas Fitter’s apprentice. His father, Percy, had spent some time in the Navy but in 1939 was doing heavy work as a Boiler Fireman. The family was enumerated at 231 Crookesmoore Road, Sheffield.

I found some sources for these Rabjohns on FamilySearch but none had a hoped-for “tree symbol” attached. One should not give up hope in such circumstances. FamilySearch has a quirky way of hiding people. Well, it is more likely that the failing, if it can be called such, is with the searcher’s methodology. When I approached from a different direction I found George Charles straight away on the tree – as Charles George RabJohn.

I spent some time looking in newspaper archives for Margery Joan without success. I’m sure she WAS very special, but perhaps in a low key way, to a select group of friends and family. There is, of course, every chance that she left a considerable mark that my amateurish search failed to uncover. Whatever, I enjoyed my time today with this stranger met by chance in a Filey wood.

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Elizabeth at The Crown

St George’s flags have begun to blossom. England’s first match in the FIFA World Cup is on Monday. I noticed these on my morning walk –

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20100303CrownEight years ago this building was boarded up, waiting for a developer to make some use of it. In the 18th century, it began life as The Packhorse Inn and there is a story that Blind Jack of Knaresborough stabled his horses there when he visited Filey. This Yorkshireman’s remarkable life is described in a PDF online. In the  early 1740s, “He…started transporting fish, on horseback, from the Yorkshire coast to Leeds and Manchester, but the hard work and effort involved never quite produced the hoped-for return, despite spending night after night on the road.”

The red brick stable buildings were knocked down to make way for a short terrace of houses and the derelict hotel turned into apartments.

The Packhorse Inn was renamed The Crown Hotel sometime before the 1881 Census when Elizabeth STUBBS ran the establishment. She had no live-in help except, perhaps, her two older daughters, Emily Annie and Grace Elizabeth KILBY, aged 18 and 14.

Elizabeth’s first husband, Henry John KILBY had kept The Foord’s Hotel, further down Queen Street towards the sea, before his early death at age 48 in 1874. She married William STUBBS, a farmer about twenty years her junior, just a few weeks before the 1881 Census was taken. He was enumerated on his 170 acres at Seamer with older sister Sarah, younger brother Christopher, and two farm servants. An indication that this may have been a marriage of convenience is found in St Oswald’s churchyard where she is remembered as “the beloved wife of Henry John Kilby”.

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Elizabeth died aged 65 in 1895. Her young husband had departed his life six years earlier, aged 38.

Blind Jack is on FamilySearch Tree but is waiting for someone to give him parents, a wife, and children.

Elizabeth deserves to have more work done on her pedigree, too.

A Filey Shepherd

There were several farms in and around Filey in the 19th century but I don’t think any raised sheep. When Filey Fields Farm went under the hammer in the early 1930s the byres, sheds, and pens were for cattle only. So, any young Filey man wanting to work with sheep had to leave the town.

Robert CAPPLEMAN was born into a fishing family. Two brothers, Thomas and “Jack Wraxer”, negotiated the dangers of this dangerous occupation, as did the father, John Pockley CAPPLEMAN. Robert’s youngest brother, Stephenson, died a soldier in South Africa (see the post Three Soldiers, 30 May).

Robert began his working life as a fisherman. The 1881 census captures him aged 14 following in his dad’s wake. Ten years later he was a servant on Greenhills Farm near Pickering and the following year he married Mary Hannah BERRIMAN from East Lutton. The couple had five children in the first twelve years of married life, as they moved from farm to farm on the Yorkshire Wolds. The last two children, though, were born in Beswick, in 1902 and 1904. Thirty-five years later, Robert was recorded in the 1939 Register in Beswick, aged 72, and still working as a shepherd. His death was registered in December Quarter 1952 in Holderness District, which includes Beswick within its boundaries.

By chance, my bed-time Kindle reading at the moment is Wild Life in a Southern County. I have a copy of the book, picked up at Winchester Market for 25 pence in 1978, about a hundred years after it was published. In Chapter V, Richard Jefferies has this to say about shepherds:-

If any labourers deserve to be paid well, it is the shepherds: upon their knowledge and fidelity the principal profit of a whole season depends on so many farms. On the bleak hills in lambing time the greatest care is necessary; and the fold, situated in a hollow if possible, with the down rising on the east or north, is built as it werer of straw walls, thick and warm, which the sheep soon make hollow inside, and this have a cave in which to nestle.

The shepherd has a distinct individuality, and is generally a much more observant man in his own sphere than the ordinary labourer. He knows every single field in the whole parish, what kind of weather best suits its soil, and can tell you without going within sight of a given farm pretty much what condition it will be found in. Knowledge of this character may seem trivial to those whose days are passed indoors; yet it is something to recollect all the endless fields in several square miles of country. As a student remembers for years the type and paper, the breadth of the margin – can see, as it were, before his eyes the bevel of the binding and hear again the rustle of the stiff leaves of some tall volume which he found in a forgotten corner of a library, and bent over with such delight, heedless of dust and “silverfish” and the gathered odour of years – so the shepherd recalls his books, the fields; for he, in the nature of things, has to linger over them and study every letter: sheep are slow.

When the hedges are grubbed and the grass grows where the hawthorn flowered, still the shepherd can point out to you where the trees stood – here an oak and here an ash. On the hills he has often little to do but ponder deeply, sitting on the turf of the slope, while the sheep graze in the hollow, waiting for hours as they eat their way. Therefore by degrees a habit of observation grows upon him – always in reference to his charge: and if he walks across the parish off duty he still cannot choose but notice how the crops are coming on, and where there is most “keep”. The shepherd has been the last of all to abandon the old custom of long service. While the labourers are restless,there may still be found not a few instances of shepherds whose whole lives have been spent upon one farm. Thus, from the habit of observation and the lapse of years, they often become local authorities; and when a dispute of boundaries or water rights or right of way arises, the question is frequently finally decided by the evidence of such a man.

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St Margaret’s, Beswick, 20 June 2017

Robert’s pedigree on FST is a work in progress. On FG&C he has a “guesswork wife” but his ancestors may be usefully compared with those on the World Tree.

Today’s Image

Two days after the patriotic beach scene was recorded, England was beaten 2 – 1 by Italy in the first group match of the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. A few days later, Uruguay defeated our lads by the same score. I remember nothing about the third match. A goalless draw with Costa Rica meant an ignominious exit by England in the group stage. National pride this year is at the feet of a relatively young bunch of multi-millionaires. They should do better than the faded “golden generation” last time out. I just hope our traveling supporters have a good time in Russia and come home with a different narrative about the Federation than the shameful one peddled by the United Kingdom regime these past few years.

A Fistful of Barley

I haven’t completed the two BEAUMONT families that loved Filey so much some chose to rest eternally here. Made enough progress, though, to put two headstone photographs on FamilySearch Tree and tag them. (Joseph senior.) To my dismay, I discovered I’ve unnecessarily created IDs for several persons, making some merging work for myself.

So far, I have only two of Joseph and Maria’s nine children marrying. Joseph Tyrrel chose a wife from his own merchant class. Jessie Clare married into the aristocracy and can be found on the splendid Peerage website.

Sir Peile THOMPSON, 2nd Bt. was a barrister and clerk in holy orders (in Filey Genealogy & Connections). His father, Sir Matthew William, was chairman of the Forth Bridge and Midland Railway Companies. He seems to have been solely responsible for building Guiseley Town Hall in the 1860s. It is now a Theatre and if you scroll through the Codswallop to the third photograph you will see the THOMPSON crest – with a cute stone button above it.

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Sacred to the memory of JOSEPH BEAUMONT, Esq., who died at Filey July 23 1885, in the 70th year of his age.

R.I.P.

Also to MARIA, beloved wife of the above who passed away June 28th 1892.

‘The Lord is my shepherd’

In loving memory of ANNE, eldest daughter of JOSEPH BEAUMONT, Esq., who entered into rest 11th November 1902.

The Beaumonts of Where?

Henry Reginald Tyrell Clare BEAUMONT was buried this day 1900 in St Oswald’s churchyard. I have been unable to link  Henry with certainty to any action in South Africa but his regiment, The Buffs, was at Spion Kop and the Relief of Kimberley. The latter event took place between the 11th and 15th February 1900, giving the poor chap time to fall ill and make his way back to England to die at the end of May. One has to wonder, though, at the time it would have taken to make that journey, and the earlier trip home to marry in 1899.

I haven’t managed to find out whether he married Rachel or Constance. I thought it would be an easy discovery to make, with a Census following only fifteen months or so later. It appears, though, to be a BEAUMONT family habit to dodge the census enumerators, even offering misleading names now and again. More confusing still, some of the birth registrations for Beaumont offspring don’t fit neatly into the available census families.

It was a help to stumble upon The Tathams of County Durham, a pedigree that included Henry’s parents. His father, Joseph Tyrrel BEAUMONT, married Hilda Gertrude TATHAM about ten years after Emily OLDROYD died. It doesn’t, however, answer most of the questions regarding the children of Joseph Tyrrel Beaumont and his father, also Joseph.

This branch of the Beaumonts seems to have rooted in the West Riding, in the Huddersfield and Mirfield areas. Emily was from Dewsbury. Joseph senior married Maria BRITAIN and her ties to Ripon may explain a Beaumont shift towards Harrogate.  Both generations, though, have handsome headstones in a Filey churchyard, even though Joseph senior seems to be the only one to have died in the town.

These Beaumonts clearly had an affection for Filey but kept a fairly low profile here. In 1871 Joseph and Maria were living on The Crescent. Ten years later, Maria was a widow and had downsized, marginally perhaps, to St Martin’s Villa, which she shared with spinster daughter Anne. Maria died in Boston Spa and Anne in Harrogate. Both are remembered on the marble cross in St Oswald’s churchyard.  I photographed it in drizzle and terrible light this afternoon so have chosen to render it rather gloomily. When the sun next shines I’ll make a photo that can be uploaded to FST. Joseph senior and Maria aren’t represented there yet and the younger Joseph doesn’t have all his children or his second wife. The soldier is here.

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Sacred to the memory of JOSEPH BEAUMONT, Esq., who died at Filey, July 23 1880, in the 70th year of his age.

R.I.P.

Also to MARIA, beloved wife of the above, who passed away June 28th 1892.

‘The Lord is my shepherd’

In loving memory of ANNE, eldest daughter of JOSEPH BEAUMONT, Esq, who entered into rest 11th November 1902.

The Emperor of Filey

Local historian Michael Fearon, in his Story of Filey Through the Centuries (1990) has this to say:-

The Romans were competent seamen and it is reasonable to assume that they were familiar with Filey Bay. There is, however, nothing to substantiate legends associating the Emperor’s Bath, a large rock pool on the Brigg, with the Emperor Constantine!

Bummer. It is such a romantic notion. When I first heard the “legend” after arriving in Filey about ten years ago, I so wanted it to be true.

I set out for an evening walk yesterday, diverting from my intended path because of mist rolling in from the sea. I was drawn to the Emperor’s Bath, aka Emperor’s Pool, which nestles in the Second Doodle at the back of Filey Brigg.

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Heavy rain in 1857 caused a slip on Carr Naze which revealed a portion of a wall. The first people to notice this unexpected evidence of human occupation removed some of the stones, finding an earthen vase, human and animal bones and some ornamented shells. A more rigorous excavation was funded by the landowner, the Reverend BROOKE, and this uncovered the five stones that now reside in Crescent Gardens, in their original disposition as foundations for a Roman Signal Station.

Five such towers were built on the east coast about 370 AD, at a time of Pictish incursions from the north and “barbarian” raids from across the sea. Constantine the Great was long gone by then so the notion of him making the journey from York to inspect the outpost at Filey on a warm summer day can indeed be discounted. There is, however, at least one picture of him taking a bath (of sorts).

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This is a detail from a Romanesque fresco in Santi Quattro Coronati Church in Rome, showing Constantine being baptized by St Sylvester.

Chronology appears to kill the legend but myths are like pearls. In so many instances they are found to have some grit of reality at their centre.

Enter Constantine III,  a career soldier at the sunset of Empire. Following a power struggle in Britannia, in 407 he declared himself the Western Roman Emperor before crossing to Gaul to establish his power base. He locked horns with Honorious, was accepted as co-Emperor in 409, abdicated in 411 and was killed soon afterward. Perhaps one of his last thoughts was of a day at the seaside and a refreshing plunge into a rock pool.

A pedigree on FamilySearch Tree shows Constantine III to be the great-grandson of Constantine the Great, the brother of King Vortigern of Britain and the father of King Uther Pendragon. No shortage of romance there already, even before reaching Arthur and Guinevere. Heading back in time will bring you eventually to Troy.