The Purloined Rector

While looking for information about the early “photographist” Oliver SARONY, I happened upon this irresistible tale.


Oliver, born in Quebec in 1820, came to England to make his fortune and wandered the eastern half of the country for about ten years before settling in Scarborough. His studio stamp there seems to have first appeared in 1857.

The Reverend WHEELER was only about 21 years old when Oliver stole his soul and the tramp Mulligan made off with his image. The cleric’s long life of good and faithful service to the Anglican communion was rewarded with the honorary title of Canon of Worcester. He died in 1910 aged 76. Find him on FamilySearch Tree.

Oliver died in 1879. I plan to visit his last resting place on Saturday and will write more about him then. If you can’t wait, the Scarborough Civic Society offers a detailed and profusely illustrated account of his life (as a PDF).

Farmer, Publican, Farmer

Samuel Nesfield was born in 1811, the eldest son of Samuel GOFTON and Sarah. When his firstborn daughter Henrietta was baptised in 1836, his occupation was given as Farmer in the St Oswald’s register. Five years later, the 1841 census describes him as a Publican.  Samuel’s wife, Catharine, gave birth to four more girls and it seems likely that they were all born at The Bull Inn, Gristhorpe.


Catharine died in 1845 when youngest daughter Juliana was about 18 months old. Samuel might have been expected to find a second wife to help with the raising of his family but he chose to remain a widower – and return to farming.

In 1851 he is working 110 acres at Colton near Tadcaster. The return says he is employing no labourers but his widowed mother Sarah, 66, is his housekeeper and Henrietta, 15, is “employed at home”.

Ten years later the census names the farm as Colton Haggs where he employs 1 man and 2 boys on 108 acres. There are two farm servants living-in,  both carters, aged 18 and 19. Big boys! Two nephews, Samuel Gofton and John Henry SELLER(S), are there on census night and one is described as a farmer.  Samuel’s four daughters are still unmarried and presumably helping around the farm.

Colton Haggs is a working farm today, with Bed & Breakfast being a supplementary generator of income. The farm name on an old census return is perhaps flimsy evidence that this place was once owned by the Goftons – but there are photographs on the Internet that may be of interest.

Samuel seems to have returned to Gristhorpe to die – in 1867 aged 56. His headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard also remembers Catherine but does not tell us that they are “Reunited”. It is next to the grave of Rachel Swales, his father’s first wife.


Find Samuel Nesfield on FamilySearch Tree.

Today’s Image

After photographing The Bull Inn this morning I walked back to town along the cliffs. I have long thought of “North Cliffs” running from Carr Naze to Gristhorpe Wyke but Googling brought up Newbiggin Cliff for the ramparts heading east from the Wyke.

Remembering Rachel

She came from nowhere to marry Samuel GOFTON on 25 March 1794 at St Oswald’s Church. She gave birth to two known children, Robert in 1794 and Elizabeth in 1796, and died in 1803 aged just 32.


The verse that might have given us an insight into her character has been mostly erased by time and weather. Just the first word or two of each line remain. Make of them what you will.

‘Here lies…

One who…




We hope…

And O…

Take her…

Her birth family name is SWALES but I can’t find a record that identifies her parents or her village of origin. A “Rachiel” Swales was born to “Robart” in Whenby in 1769. This is close in time – a two-year discrepancy if the monumental inscription is correct – and in space. Whenby, population about 130 at the beginning of the 19th century, is 40 miles west of Filey, a few miles beyond Malton.

Her marriage and the baptisms of her children generated places on the FamilySearch Tree for the family she created – but disconnected from Samuel’s second wife and the eight known children he had with Sarah GLAVES. I have brought them together.

I don’t know if Rachel’s children made it out of childhood. I suspect neither did because Samuel and Sarah named their fifth child Robert and their last Elizabeth.

Thomas the Nut Warmer

This newspaper story made me smile.


I wanted to find this chap.

The coarse mesh of the census netted only one BURNETT in Filey town between 1841 and 1891 – widow Mary Jane, born MUNRO in Valparaiso, Chile, about 1857. She was living with her mother in 1891 but would marry Richard GRICE later that year.

Filey Genealogy & Connections offers only one likely lad, born 1841 in nearby Muston. I couldn’t find a birth registration for him and, aged 10 in 1851, he is described in the census as the grandson of William and Hannah Burnett. When Thomas married Ann CARR in 1863, he gave his age as 23 and owned that his father was the aforementioned William. If this is the correct relationship, it would indicate his mother Hannah was 46 years old when she gave birth to him.

Thomas and Ann had a daughter in Filey in 1865, Hannah, and then moved up to Durham to live. Two children were born to them in Stockton on Tees in 1868 and 1871. The only indication I could find that this Thomas returned to Filey is the account of drunkenness and unwise words in court.

Is rover Thomas the miscreant? I can’t find him, or wife Ann, in the 1881 census, nor death registrations that fit them comfortably. However, in 1881 their son Christopher was under the roof of George and Mary BRAMBLES in Muston. He is described as the couple’s grandson and with him is William Burnett, who we met earlier. Now an 86-year-old widower, William is still working as a bricklayer. Unhelpfully, his relationship to the head of the household is given as “Boarder”.

I then became entangled in a thicket of Brambles. Jonathan BURNETT, the son of William and Hannah and possibly an older brother of our Thomas, had married Martha, the daughter of George and Mary Brambles. Christopher Burnett is clearly not related by blood to the Brambles but may have been thought of as their grandson. It is more likely that “grandson” in the census refers to Christopher’s relationship to William.

Some help is at hand on FamilySearch Tree. Old father William has a Y-line pedigree going back to the early 17th century. This link doesn’t acknowledge paternity to either Jonathan or our Thomas of interest and I’m reluctant to add either chap, partly because there seem to be two Martha BRAMBLES born 1838 in Muston. One appears to have been illegitimate – there is no Mother’s maiden surname in the GRO Birth Register Index. She married Robert Joseph STABLER in 1857 and the couple migrated to North America. Curiously, FG&C has more detail about her mother, also Martha, than FST, giving her death in Ontario, Canada in 1880 (though no source is offered). It seems very likely that Martha the Elder was the abovementioned George’s sister, but neither FST nor FG&C joins all available dots.

On this morning’s walk, I noticed a familiar name in Hope Street, only temporarily prominent and another smile generator.


England’s Turn



At Hull Police Court in December 1854 Jarvis DUNDERDALE stood before the Magistrate, Mr TRAVIS. Described in a newspaper report as a “respectable-looking middle-aged person”, Jarvis he was charged with stealing a silver fork, the property of Ann VARLEY, proprietress of the Cross Keys Hotel in Market Place, Hull.

One of the waiters at the Hotel, Edward WINTRINGHAM, had observed “the prisoner” taking the fork from the silver drawer, Edward followed Jarvis out to the yard, challenged him with the theft and had the police called. PC WOOD (65) arrived and took the thief into custody.

In court, Jarvis said nothing when charged and was committed for trial. Justice must have been swiftly done because the following brief report appeared in the same issue of the newspaper that provided the details above.


At the 1841 Census Jarvis Dunderdale, given age 30, was living in Myton Gate, a short Walk from the Cross Keys, working as a Waiter. A Sheffield man, he had married Elizabeth WAKEFIELD nine years earlier at Rotherham Minster (as Gervis or Gervase). The couple had two children, Jarvis Jnr (7) and Hannah (4). The birth of another daughter, Catherine, in 1842 gives the family a second representation on FamilySearch Tree.

I spent a little time trying to discover what became of this poor family, without success.

However, I found more information about Ann Varley, born ATKINSON. In the Patrington marriage register in 1839, her father James is described as a Victualer, the same occupation as her husband and father in law. Two years later, James Atkinson is in the census as an Innkeeper, in High Street, Patrington.

When her silver fork was stolen, Ann had been a widow for a year. (Her father had died in the summer of 1851.) William Varley Jnr was 49 years old when he died and his ownership of the Cross Keys Hotel was legally transferred to Ann the following year. At the 1871 Census, Ann was running the Hotel with the help of son James and daughters Sarah and Ada, though the enumerator didn’t give the young Varleys an occupation. Ten years earlier, though, Ann, James and daughter Eliza were keeping the Queens Hotel in Withernsea.  My first thought was that the Varleys had downsized and later returned to the big city and the bigger Hotel. It seems more likely that Ann had added the Queens to her portfolio.

You will find photographs of the Withernsea hotel online but it is Queens Hotel II, built at the beginning of the 20th century and now a care home for the elderly. The Varley property, at the rear of the Railway Station, was demolished long ago and its “footprint” now accommodates the car park of Withernsea Community Hospital.


If you have clicked the earlier link to the Cross Keys Hotel you will have noticed its proximity to the statue of King Billy. The hotel was demolished in the 1970s and King Billy figured in my childhood. Try as I may, though, I can’t now picture the buildings around the golden horse and rider. (You won’t hear any living Hullensian talk about a statue of William of Orange. Ask for King Billy.)

Ann Atkinson was clearly a remarkable woman. I wonder how well she knew the other resourceful Hull hotelier who has appeared in LaFRedux ­– Richard CORTIS. He was thirty years her senior but outlived her husband by almost 20 years.

Find Ann on FST.

The Varley broken column in St Oswald’s churchyard, this morning

Lives Cut Short

James VARLEY arrived to “keep” The Crescent Hotel in about 1877. He was experienced in the trade, having helped his parents to run The Cross Keys in Market Place, Hull, for many years.

James’ monument in St Oswald’s churchyard is a distinctive and emblematic broken column and recalls two lives that didn’t last as long as they should have. His second child, Henry James, had an accident while playing, or perhaps helping out, at Church Cliff Farm. A cut became infected with Clostridium tetani and within a few days, he died at the Hotel, aged ten.

Six years earlier, Henry’s mother had died, a day after her thirtieth birthday.


In 1901, James was living on Crescent Hill with his unmarried daughter Clara. He died in Hunmanby five years later, aged 62, and was brought to Filey for burial.

I wrote a short post about the family on Looking at Filey: Suffer Little Children. I didn’t know back then what had become of Clara but today found a death registration in York that may be hers. If confirmed, she didn’t marry and reached the age of 93.

James and his parents were on FST, and Kate’s mother had an ID too. I will add some more Varleys and Morrishes and, perhaps, hit upon a connection to a more extensive pedigree.

Today’s Image

I was shocked to discover how old the “new bridge” on Filey Promenade is. Here’s a photo taken two years earlier (to the day)…



A Boy Named Allison

In 1881, the census enumerator identified the head of a Mariners Place household as “Harrison Mason”. I think this must have been a mistake. At Charleston Farm, Boynton, in 1851, Allison was a 17-year-old farm servant, bunking down with several other young men. In 1871, working as an agricultural labourer, he was at home with his parents in Thwing, his given age 35, his status unmarried, and his name again, unashamedly, Allison.

Two doors away that year, John BENTLEY, hind to Mrs BARUGH, (for whom Allison had worked twenty years earlier), was playing host to his sister in law, Barbara BOWMAN. Barbara’s sister, Mrs Bentley, was on this census night some miles away, under her parents’ roof in Filey – in Mariners Place.

One can’t help being a little intrigued, especially as the enumerator wrote that Barbara was unmarried.

Barbara HUGILL had married Francis Bowman in 1860. He may have died in the first years of the marriage – I haven’t yet found his death registration – but, towards the end of 1879, widow Bowman married Allison Mason in Little Driffield. Barbara’s father had died a couple of years earlier and at the 1881 census “Harrison Mason” shared his home with mother in law Mary. The 76-year-old lady paid her way, working as a laundress with Barbara. Allison was now working as a “general labourer”. He didn’t quite make it to the next census.


In affectionate remembrance of ALLISON MASON, the beloved husband of BARBARA MASON of Filey who died April 3rd 1890, aged 56 years.

‘Be ye also ready for in such an hour

As ye think not, the Son of man cometh’


Also of BARBARA MASON, the beloved wife of the above who died March 18th 1903, aged 65 years.

‘Leave this world without a tear, save for the friends

I loved so dear. To heal their sorrows, Lord

Descend and to the friendless prove a friend’


Also THOMAS HUGILL, father of the above BARBARA MASON, who died Nov 19th 1879, aged 77 years.

Also MARY his beloved wife, who died Nov 16th 1886, aged 83 years.

‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.

Yeah, saith the spirit, that they may rest

From their labours’

I don’t think Barbara had any children with her two husbands but there was another boy named Allison in this part of Yorkshire, briefly. The registrations of his birth and death are found in the first quarter of 1877, in Driffield. His father was John MASON, his mother Sarah DOBSON, but I haven’t yet found the family connection to the older Allison – which must surely exist.

Find the Allison who grew to be a man on FST.