A Comedian

1934_PEARSONmaude_flower containerMany years may have passed since flowers were placed in this marble container. Names on three sides remember Frank, Thomas C. and Maude PEARSON.

Maude, a first cousin three times removed to Wrightson Pearson but not blood-related to John of the Three Wives, (go figure), married a WILKINS from Essex. A recent additional stone remembers Ray, who died in 2006. Maude died eight years ago.

None of these St Oswald’s churchyard people has places on the FamilySearch Tree yet, so I set about putting their jigsaw pieces together. I found some of them in the nation’s capital.

Raymond Parker Wilkins was the son of Gerald Douglas Wilkins and Sabina UMPLEBY and grandson of Frederick Robinson Wilkins and Hannah Elizabeth GOLLEDGE.

In 1901, Gerald was three years old, living with his parents at 7 Cormont Road, Lambeth. Visiting the family and snared by the enumerator were Richard and Elsie DOUGLAS. Within minutes of wondering if Gerald’s middle name came from the Douglas family, I discovered Elsie was a Golledge. She was 28 years old and an actress. Her husband was the same age and an actor, but also a comedian. Elsie must have thought she needed a classier moniker for the stage and when she applied for the marriage licence…

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The registrar would have none of it – the civil marriage record has her as Elsie. They married in 1894 and registered the births of two daughters in ’95 and ’96. The girls were not guests of the Wilkins family and I found no trace of any of them after 1901, until 1960 when the older girl died aged 65. Her death is registered in her birth name, but she had married one Arnold WALKER as a 19-year-old. Both life events occurred in Salford, Lancashire, where her father was born.

Salford may not seem the most romantic place to enter the world or leave it, but Richard Douglas was one of at least eleven children. He was the first to be Salford-born but his older siblings took their first breaths in Ireland, South Africa or Japan. (Their father was a bandsman in the army and their grandfather a sergeant in the same regiment.)

The “disappearance” of Richard and Elise/Elsie might be explained by an urge to travel to distant lands.

But another mystery remains. What relation was Elsie Golledge to Hannah Elizabeth? I haven’t found Elsie’s birth registration yet. Hannah’s father, Thomas Miles Golledge, was born in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Five years after he married Eliza Watkins SHEPPERD in Marylebone, a William J Golledge married Anna M DALE in Lambeth. Thomas worked as a boot machinist, William as a bootmaker. And William had also been born in Shepton Mallet. There is a gap in the arrivals of William and Anna’s children, between Eleanor Sophia and Walter Thomas, where Elsie would fit. Cousins then?

The Shared Tree, however, does offer the Golledge male line through Thomas Miles back to Stephen, born 1578, but Hannah is waiting at the altar – and Elsie doesn’t appear as a child of William Joseph Payne Golledge and Anna Maria Dale. Still a mystery.

And I wonder if the Golledge girls ever visited Filey.

The Three Wives of John Pearson

John was the son of Charles PEARSON and Martha SIMPSON, and stepbrother to Wrightson who drowned from the yawl Integrity (Friday’s post). Today, on the FamilySearch Shared Tree, he is a single man.

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His brides-to-be can be found, though not easily.

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Filey Genealogy & Connections offers two wives, Elizabeth (with a ‘zed’) Baxter and Jane, but Kath notes the existence of Wife No. 2; “not sure which Elizabeth he was married to – choice of a few”.

Elizabeth Baxter was 30 years old when she married and 39 when she died in 1874. There are no indications in the records that she gave birth to any children. In 1871, the enumerator gave her age as 36, five years older than John, and her birthplace Filey.

Ten years later, John’s wife is Elizabeth, given age 43, but her birthplace is omitted. In 1891, the couple is living with John’s father and the transcriber of the enumerator’s book has all three born in Norfolk. This is a wilful misinterpretation of a blizzard of dittos, in the middle of which Charles’ birthplace stands out – Goathland, which we know isn’t in Norfolk but rather the Yorkshire birthplace of John’s mother, Martha. The 1901 census asserts that Elizabeth was born in Filey and again her given age is the same as John’s. This age consistency across three censuses bolsters confidence when we search for the Elizabeth JENKINSON John married in 1875. In FG&C there are three possibilities, born in 1839, 1841 and 1843. The younger two have married other men. The Elizabeth born in the same year as John is a Filonian and waiting for her Mister Pearson, so she must be our gal.

I continue to seek a “clincher” but have enough certainty to proceed with marrying John to all three women on FST over the next few days.

John was a Filey character. The Scarborough Mercury tells us so.

Friday 10 January 1908

Mrs. Pearson, wife of the sexton, of the Parish Church, died on Wednesday evening at about seven  o’clock, at her home in Church  Hill. She had been ill for some time.

Friday 31 December 1909

Another misfortune was the death which took place yesterday of Mr. John Pearson, the old sexton. So well known was he that his death, which came suddenly at the end, was regarded as a town’s matter-for the sexton was almost part of Filey. Visitors to the Parish Church will have seen him frequently. He was an aged man, well on to 80 years, and was quite a character in his way. He had been poorly for some little time past, and had been medically attended. It is thought that he had had a fit during the night, and died. Just over a year ago he was married for the third time. It was thought, at first, that there would be an inquest, but as he had been medically attended, it was deemed that an inquiry was not necessary. He had been sexton for very many years.

Poor John. Too unwell, perhaps, to enjoy the short time he had with Jane, a woman 21 years his junior.

It seems strange that a sexton for so many years at St Oswald’s does not have a marked grave in the churchyard.

The 1911 census caught Jane visiting retired coal dealer William WATKINSON at 3 Belle Vue Street, Filey, occupation dressmaker. The only death registration I have found that fits her closely indicates her passing in Pontefract, in 1934. (I did look for her marrying again, without success.)

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3 Belle Vue Street this afternoon

I suppose John’s “failure” to honour the genetic imperative accounts for his remaining a bachelor on FST for so long. However, one of his houses had rung with young voices. In 1901, he and Elizabeth the Second had two servants aged 11 and 12 – Rose and Melita OLDBRIDGE, born in Lincolnshire. I have looked, but have found nothing more about these girls.

 

Another Guesswork Wife

The mother of the Sellers boys (yesterday’s post) is Sarah McLAREN on Filey Genealogy & Connections. This Sarah is given the same dates and children as Sarah WILSON, the rightful wife of Robert senior.

The McLarens offer wider horizons than the Wilsons. This isn’t immediately apparent if you have clicked the link to Sarah M. Three other children of David McLaren and Jane SMURFOOT married, but it is Hannah who connects to several Filey families with interesting, though not extensive, pedigrees. She married into the BRAMBLES, which lead to COULTAS and WATKINSON. And one Thomas COULTAS married a Sarah Jane SELLERS, born only two years or so before a daughter given the same name by Robert Sellers and Sarah Wilson. Most of these connections appear to be reliable.

I wondered this morning who Sarah McLAREN married, if anyone, and was surprised to find her contributing to future generations on the Shared Tree.

Although FG&C has again been found wanting with a guesswork wife fail, Kath offers more people in these families than FST. I will add as many as I can, as and when…

What Killed the Sellers Boys?

Life has always been a lottery. That isn’t going to change but the odds of surviving to a good age have improved somewhat since unwise apes began to shuffle around on two feet.

At the beginning of the 19th century in Britain, one child in three died before their fifth birthday. It took around 70 years for this figure to improve to one in four, and, about another 80 years before 19 out of 20 children could party, aged five.

The mortality story is well-told online, offering tables and graphs that can be downloaded.

One of the Office of National Statistics interactive graphs shows the “survivability” of individuals at all ages from 0 to 110, from 1850 to 2010. This enables the deaths of the Sellers Boys to be put into a context of sorts.

Robert SELLERS and Sarah WILSON had eight children between 1851 and 1870, five girls and three boys. I haven’t yet discovered when Robert, the youngest boy, died. A headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard remembers the other two brothers.

George, 15, and William, 17, both died in 1872, fifteen days apart. When the census was taken the previous year, William was at home with the family, working as a Shop Boy. George was “living-in” not far away in Scarborough Road, a servant to farmer John RICHARDSON.

The survivability graph mentioned above has precise figures at 25-year intervals but, roughly, William and George had 67 chances in a hundred of reaching their next birthday in 1873. Reasonable odds, but they were two of the 33 in a hundred who didn’t make it.

If we had the certificates, we would know what the attending Filey doctor thought was the death of them. (Charles Waters SCRIVENER was the town’s medical officer, but two other doctors were resident in Filey in 1871, and presumably in practice – Brooke CROMPTON and Richard ALDERSON.) Without the certificates, we can only surmise.

That the boys died within a couple of weeks of each other suggests an infectious disease could be the culprit, most likely consumption, aka tuberculosis or TB. This bacterial infection was so common it would not have raised the eyebrows of a newspaper editor. An outbreak of cholera, typhus, scarlet fever or smallpox in the town would surely have been reported.

It is possible, of course, that the timing of the brother’s deaths was coincidental, and each was taken by a different cause. A wonderful online resource gives the causes of death of most people buried in Leeds General Cemetery. I browsed the first couple of hundred records, noting the causes of death of males aged 15 to 17. (I didn’t note the calendar years in which the deaths occurred.)

The modal cause of death was, not surprisingly, consumption with 14 instances. Bronchitis was a distant second with four; accident and fever with 3. (Had the Sellers boys died on the same day I would immediately have thought “accident” – drowning whilst fishing – if I hadn’t already known their occupations.)

There were two instances each of these causes – typhus, general decline, abscess, and inflammation of lungs.

Single instances – asthma, inflammation, temporary insanity, affection of brain, erysipelas, pleurisy, congestion of lungs, congestion of brain, scarlet fever, hernia, hip disease, inflammation of bladder, liver complaint, heart disease, general debility, tumour, diarrhoea and rupture of blood vessel.

It is interesting to note that heart disease is now the leading cause of death for English males; dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for females. These causes swap to take second place for each sex. (Figures don’t seem to be available for the myriad other sexes of choice available now.)

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In loving memory of SARAH, the beloved wife of ROBERT SELLERS, who died July 23rd, 1908, aged 84 years.

Thy will be done

Also, the above ROBERT SELLERS, who died Jan 3rd, 1909, aged 83 years.

Peace perfect peace

Also, two sons of the above; GEORGE who died June 6th, 1872, aged 15 years, and WILLIAM who died June 21st, 1872, aged 17 years.

Gone but not forgotten

This is currently a two-generation family on FamilySearch and extending it seems to be a daunting task