She was the first child of Dr William Smithson CORTIS and Mary Jane née GREEN, baptised on the 5th of January 1846 in St Oswald’s Church, Filey. Her mother died when she was twelve and the household at census in 1861 shows signs of an extended family pulling together. Jane’s aunt Isabella Maria BOWES (her mother’s sister) was in residence with her second son Richard Taylor Bowes. The old salt, Richard Cortis, hale and hearty at 74, was visiting from Hull. Jane’s younger sister Alice Weddell Cortis was away on census night but her brothers were home – William Richard, 14, who became an MP in the Australian Parliament and would be tried for murder, and Herbert Liddell, 4, whose destiny was to cycle twenty miles in an hour before anyone else did. Three servants, all Lincolnshire born, completed the household in John Street.
It was in Lincolnshire that Jane found a husband. John Would PARKER was a farmer of 600 acres, employing 18 labourers and 6 boys in 1871. He was fifteen years older than Jane, in his mid forties when they married in St Mary’s Church, Newington (London) in 1876. They settled on the farm in Ludborough but were not blessed with children. They had dogs instead.
This photograph isn’t dated but was taken at Ludborough, I guess around 1890.
The enumerator in 1891 found the couple at “Lindens, Turnpike” near Louth. John was still farming, but possibly not 600 acres. He died towards the end of 1893, aged 63. John’s spinster sister, Sarah Elizabeth, had lived with the couple for many years but she died a few months later. With all her surviving birth family scattered to the ends of the earth, Jane set off for Australia. Her father died in Manly on 15 September 1906 and she breathed her last in that place, 19 May 1911.
It isn’t certain that this is Jane Maria but the photographer was Willey of Louth, a town only six or seven miles from Ludborough. The wee dog could be significant.
This is Jane and she seems to have an engagement ring and wedding band, so maybe the photo was taken in 1876, after her marriage and before she returned to Lincolnshire with her husband.
Jane seems to have filled out somewhat but John still looks youthful, though his mutton chops are greying. The photograph may have been taken while on their honeymoon (and Jane’s extra pounds are merely a fashion accessory).
The uncertainty about the identity of Jane in the second photograph seems justified if close attention is paid to the eyes, ears and nose of the lady with a whip. The features are noticeably different, though the overall shape of the face is similar.
What does it matter? I just hope that John and Jane’s seventeen years of marriage brought them much happiness. She was a widow for a year longer than that, and most of that time was spent in a foreign land. I wonder what her life was like in Australia.
They were brother and sister, born at the end of the 18th century and baptized in Filey. Their mother, Frances, was unmarried and there are few sources that reference her. The “best fit” indicates that her mother was also Frances, married to John MORGAN.
For most of their adult lives, Frances and Francis went their separate ways. Francis, an agricultural labourer, is working for George GARDINER on a Muston farm in 1851. Ten years later he gives his birthplace as Muston and is living-in at Carr House Farm, a mile or so from the village. In 1871 he is with Frances in Filey. It is the only census (of four) that gives her an occupation.
The lodger that has their family name is George Francis WILLIS. In 1861 Frances tells the enumerator he is her nephew and offers his true name. (His given age, 5, is more accurate than “18” at the 1871 census.)
In 1851 Frances is described as a pauper and shares her small cottage in Church Street with another – and different – young lodger.
Filey Genealogy & Connections has two boys called William Willis born in 1843. One has a substantial pedigree. He marries Mary KNAGGS and they name one of their daughters Frances. The other William is without parents, or a future that takes him beyond the age of 22. Searching for a glimpse of the two Williams in newspapers, the one who married becomes a local hero when he rescues three children from drowning in Filey Bay. The year before the other William dies he falls into bad company and ends up in court. (More about this later.)
In 1841 Frances Morgan is living in King Street, Filey, in a household headed by Timothy HOPPER.
She is possibly the fisherman’s housekeeper. With them are Robert WILLIS (a sailor) and Rachel nee HOTHAM, and their children Sarah and William. The boy’s full name is William Hotham Willis and when he is seven years old his Aunt Nancy (Rachel’s sister) names her last born child William. It is this William who is living with Frances in 1851, a consequence perhaps of his mother’s death in July 1845 when he was two years old.
Clearly, Frances Morgan had a close connection to the Willises but I have yet to confirm a blood relationship with “the nephew” in 1871. Not knowing for certain who the mother of George Francis Willis is doesn’t help.
George is the father of one of the boys who died as a result of the Bridlington rocket explosion (last Thursday’s post). The birth registration suggests his father is not known.
WILLIS, George Francis, Mother’s Maiden Surname: -. GRO Reference: 1856 J Quarter in SCARBOROUGH Volume 09D Page 278.
On Filey Genealogy & Connections George has a wife, but no children or forebears. Mary Helen AINSWORTH is represented on the Shared Tree [MGHS-L96] with her parents, five siblings and her paternal grandmother.
I don’t yet have firm evidence that Sarah Willis was George’s mother. The Hotham sisters both named their firstborn Willis children “Sarah” in 1834. Nancy’s Sarah married John MOORE two years after George’s birth and had at least five children. I have not found Rachel’s Sarah after the 1841 census and think she is more likely to have given birth to George. Or maybe it was someone else altogether.
I have a bit more research to do regarding the bad company William Willis kept so will tell that story tomorrow.
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.
William Smithson CORTIS, firstborn son of Richard (Thursday’s post) and Jane SMITHSON, married Mary Jane GREEN in Wintringham in June 1843 when he was 23 years-old. Their first child, Jane Maria, was born in Filey about eighteen months later. I don’t know what accidents or designs brought him to this small and undistinguished town but he didn’t just look after the health of its people – he saw a bigger picture. He took a deep interest in the history of the area and, perhaps not surprisingly for the son of a master mariner, did all he could to better the lot of local fishermen and all who sailed the dangerous waters off the Yorkshire coast.
In Scarborough Town Hall in November 1857 he read a paper about the recent discovery of Roman artifacts on “Car-Naese” and in the same year began to campaign for the building of a Harbour of Refuge in Filey Bay. This appeared in the Scarborough Mercury on 22 October 1859: –
The Cortis Testimonial.
It will be in the recollection of most of our readers, that during the inquiry before the Royal Commission appointed to obtain evidence as to the best site for a National Harbour of Refuge, on the North East Coast of England, Dr. W. S. Cortis, of Filey, displayed considerable talent and persevering energy during a period of eighteen months, in searching out and obtaining information to lay before the Commissioners relative to the advantages possessed by Filey Bay for such a Harbour. Dr. Cortis had also during the sitting of the Parliamentary Committee on Harbours of Refuge in 1857-8, rendered much service by developing the merits of Filey Bay, and, in consequence, rendered himself deserving the esteem of a large circle of friends and those who are intimately concerned in the Shipping interest. To shew their gratitude for this persevering labour, on the part of a private individual, a public meeting was called at Foord’s Hotel, Filey, some time back, when a number of gentlemen were appointed to receive subscriptions for the purpose of presenting Dr. Cortis with a suitable Testimonial. The committee for carrying out this object, have so far succeeded as to be enabled to purchase a very handsome and richly chased silver breakfast service, consisting of kettle and stand, with lamp, a coffee-pot, tea-pot, sugar-basin, and cream ewer, all en suite, and which are to be presented by the inhabitants of Filey to the worthy Doctor, on Friday next, the 28th instant. The testimonial bears the following somewhat lengthy but appropriate inscription:-“Presented with-guineas, to W. S. Cortis, Esq., M.D., by the inhabitants of Filey and the neighbourhood, as a testimonial of their appreciation of the services which he rendered to the maritime interests of the coasts, and to the cause of humanity, in advancing the claims of Filey Bay as the site of a National Harbour of Refuge, by the able manner in which he searched out evidence and laid it before the parliamentary committee, by the clear and lucid way in which he developed its advantages before her Majesty’s commissioners, and by the talent, energy, and perseverance with which he conducted the whole case.
The blank left in the inscription will, we believe, be filled up with the amount of money intended to be given with the Testimonial-the sum, we understand, will be between 159 and 200 guineas. A large number of merchants, and shipowners, in Hull, have also testified their appreciation of Dr. Cortis’s labours in bringing to a successful issue a question of such vast importance; they have therefore purchased a large massive salver, twenty inches in diameter, to be presented at the same time, on which is a faithful and well executed engraving of the beautiful Bay of Filey, shewing the long projection of rocks, called the “Brig,” as well as the handsome buildings which characterise the improvements on the South Cliffs. Under the view is the following inscription:-“Presented to William S. Cortis, Esq., M.D., Filey, by his friends in Hull, as a token of their recognition of the services rendered by him to the commerce of the east coast of England, by his indefatigable advocacy of the formation of a National Harbour of Refuge in Filey Bay. October, 1859.”
The whole of these exquisite pieces of workmanship have been entrusted to the skill of Messrs. Jacobs and Lucas, silversmiths, of Hull, and are now being exhibited at Mr. Suggitt’s, grocer, Filey, previous to the presentation. We understand that a public dinner will be given after the presentation, at five o’clock.
The effort to make the harbour of refuge a reality continued for many years and ultimately failed, but reprint copies of William’s book, Losses of Ships and Lives on the North-East Coast of England, and How to Prevent Them can still be purchased online.
William is remembered on the stone marking the grave of his wife and their infant son Henry Liddell in St Oswald’s churchyard.
Also, WILLIAM S. CORTIS M.D., husband of the above, died at Manly N.S.W., 15 Sep. 1906, aged 86 years.
Mary Jane died in the summer of 1858 aged 36. Four years later William married Susanna HEWSON in Louth, Lincolnshire. In 1878 their names appear on the Victoria Inward Passenger List of the vessel Hankow, their final destination Sydney.
The Will of Dr Cortis can be found online and the codicil caught my eye.
It is dated 1901 and I need to go back to my notes to see if there are reasons for William Richard losing the silver. (He outlived his father by just over two years.)
Measure of Man 42 ·Evron Centre
I wonder what William Smithson would have made of SARS-CoV-2. I think he would have lined up with the good doctors.
Towards the end of 1810, the British vessel Neva was captured by the French. Richard CORTIS, second in command, found himself a prisoner of war.
Fifty-nine years later, a mariner called Richard Cortis was laid to rest in Hull’s General Cemetery. There is a photograph of his headstone at Billion Graves. He was eighty-three years old and so, if he is one and the same, would have been only 24 when living at Napoleon’s pleasure.
On census night 1861, Hull mariner Richard was with his son William, Filey’s doctor, at No.1 John Street. The household of twelve also contained three of Richard’s grandchildren, Jane Maria, 15, William Richard, 14, and Herbert Liddell, 5. The lives of all three, and their father’s, would end in Australia. Sadly, Richard did not live to see Herbert become a World Cycling Champion.
Last month, out of the blue, I received a set of photographs from Australia that included a picture of Richard.
This appears to be a hand coloured studio photograph – so Richard would have had to be approaching sixty when it was taken. On the evidence of the kepi on the table, the uniform is French. Does this connect him to the other Richard? Were the French so impressed by Richard’s bravery that they honoured him with this dress uniform and sword upon release from prison? And many years later, after the invention of photography, he could still fit into it.
I am not going to speculate further on this image. Richard’s exploits and qualities as mariner, ship owner, hotel keeper, local “prime mover” – and father – are impressive enough not to need a tale of derring-do and showmanship. But doesn’t he look handsome?
My thanks to Peter for sending the photographs. I will share the others over the next few weeks.
A Reduction in UK COVID-19 Deaths
There were 5,299 fewer UK deaths recorded at Worldometers today. The muppets at Public Health England have been forced to acknowledge the nonsense that Britons catching the supposed disease could never be cured, ever. Weeks and months after appearing to recover, Covid would nonetheless appear on certificates, whatever actually caused their deaths. A dumb, dishonest way to boost scamdemic fatalities. This at-a-stroke 11% drop in Covid deaths has not changed the rankings posted yesterday. Deaths per million have fallen from 686 to 608 but the UK keeps the top spot in my Table.
There are more apparently lethal countries: Belgium (854), Peru (657), Spain (611). There are a few “safer” countries than New Zealand, including Uganda and Vietnam (0.2 per million), Sr Lanka (0.5), Rwanda and Mozambique (0.6).
(If you are offended by my use of the term “muppets” for UK Regime Health Advisors please see Skepticat’s take on The Second Wave.)
Early in 1905, Filey Postmistress Mary Eliza YOXON had to retire because of ill-health (see A Shropshire Lass two days ago). The vacancy was filled towards the end of the year by George Newcombe TOOKER. I wrote about George on 17 May (The Postmaster’s Son) and some weeks later was pleased to hear from two of his descendants. Grandson Mike Tooker has kindly sent me a photo of the clock George received from his Plymouth colleagues before heading north, and has given me permission to share it here.
Encased as it is in Connemara marble, the clock must be quite a weight, but it has made the journey to the antipodes, and back and forth within New Zealand perhaps. Right now it is telling South Island time.
I was told a few days ago that the house I identified as “Chez Tooker” in Mitford Street wasn’t built until 1916. I subsequently found it clearly shown on the 1911 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map. So, for now, I stand by the photograph posted in May.
Wave 38 · Filey Bay
The Martin’s Ravine cascades this morning – as they should look in a dry spell. I can only think that I happened to walk by yesterday just after the Muston Road *tank” had been emptied as part of the Flood Alleviation Scheme works.
In loving memory of EDMUND SAMUEL, the beloved husband of MARY ELIZA YOXON (Postmistress of Filey), who died October 15th 1904 aged 48 years.
‘Thy will be done’
Also MARY ELIZA, wife of the above, who died May 13th 1905, aged 45 years, interred at Whitchurch, Shropshire.
‘Peace perfect peace’
The inscription on the headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard tells us that Mary was a widow for seven months – but not that she had been married for only two years.
Mary Eliza was the first of eight daughters born to William RUSCOE, a Shrophire builder, and Sarah CATO. The births of all the girls were registered in Whitchurch and the stone suggests it was Mary’s wish to be buried in her home town. She did not, however, die in Shropshire. I think she may have fallen ill in Filey, where she was listed as Postmistress in the 1905 Directory, and travelled to Herefordshire to be nursed by her mother. Sarah Ruscoe was then approaching seventy years of age and would live on for fifteen years after Mary’s death. Mary’s final journey, then, was from Ledbury in Herefordshire to Whitchurch, a distance of about 80 miles.
Her life journey from Shropshire to Filey is something of a mystery. In 1881, at the age of 21, she was working as a clerk, living in Great Howard Street (Liverpool), in the household of widow Mary CUNNINGHAM, a flour dealer from Scotland. Five years later she signs the register as a witness to the marriage of sister Clara Annie to Arthur WALKER.
This looks like the autograph of a determined and efficient young woman, the undotted ‘i’ notwithstanding.
I haven’t been able to find her whereabouts in 1891 but in 1901 she is enumerated at 4 Cliff Terrace in Filey, aged 41, single and the town’s ‘Sub Postmistress’. The Post Office was then situated in Union Street. I discovered the address this morning and went to record the property’s current occupant.
How did Mary meet her husband? In 1901 a census enumerator found him in Welsh Row, Nantwich, boarding with widow Susannah BRAMHILL. Edmund Samuel seems to have spent most of his working life in the Merchant Marine. In 1881 he was Second Mate on the vessel Woodburn, docked at Holyhead. Six years later he married Constance LEWIN in Liverpool. Their only child, Esther Eleanor, was born in the autumn of 1891 but died within a few days or weeks. The death of Constance was registered the following quarter. Edmund was not a stranger to such losses. He was three years old when his father died.
Somehow, the fates brought Edmund and Mary together and they were married at St Oswald’s on 6 October 1902. I have not found a newspaper notice or report of his death two years later.
I was pleased to find Mary Eliza on the FamilySearch Shared Tree – it saves me a lot of work – but had to add Edmund to his birth family. You will notice that his youngest brother was born after father Mark’s death.
Given the wayward nature of the Shared Tree, it would have been disappointing not to see a genealogical howler. I can understand these things occurring (we all make mistakes), but not them being allowed to persist. Mary Eliza’s younger sister Sarah Cato RUSCOE died aged two, but in a parallel universe married and had a couple of children. In this instance the FamilySearch ‘system’ flags the nonsense, so far to no avail. As the real Mrs Preece had children I will leave it to possible descendants to put this right.
Mark of Man 52 · St Oswald’s
We, the sheeple, need you more than ever. Plagues of locusts, the flooding of Godless countries and the near-complete melting of Arctic ice are not waking up enough of us. The descendants of those implicated in your death have just nuked Beirut. Enough is enough, surely. The video evidence of a tactical nuclear missile hitting the dockside warehouse supposedly containing fertiliser and fireworks has been taken down this afternoon by YouKnowWho because it contravenes “community guidelines”. (What does nuking a city contravene?) Material may survive a while longer on Seemorerocks. Steven Ben-Nun at Israeli News Live is always worth listening to whenever human wickedness blossoms (despite Luciferian attempts to dress it up as something else). If this link doesn’t work please do your own research. (I haven’t watched all of TruNews’ Wednesday bulletin yet but I expect the team to be attentive to every detail of the story. Look here, starting 12 minutes in.)
John Braithwaite TAYLOR is currently married to Ann CHADWICK on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. Nine sources are attached to his record but one is duplicated and another has been removed. Only the Civil marriage registration source is misleading.
Here is John’s Probate entry –
Hmm, Elizabeth. The 1881 census finds John and Elizabeth at 14 Ferndale Terrace, Scarborough, with two children – Annie Gertrude, 4, and Francis Edward, 2. And the GRO Births Index offers…
Clearly, the marriage of Ann to John Braithwaite Taylor on the Shared Tree should be dissolved so that the birth of her first daughter with George COCKERILL can be recorded.