‘Happy Return’

Christopher LIGHTFOOT is one of many Filey fishermen whose date of final departure has been given as “before [year]” in the online trees I have looked at. This is a reasonable suggestion, as Jane WILLIS, the woman he married in 1850 is a childless widow when the census is taken in 1861. Sadly, the couple had been given only four years to start a family, not eleven.

I imagined the Dudgeon Light vessel to be at the mouth of the Humber but it was somewhat further away from Filey – about thirty miles north of Cromer. I don’t think the dangerous shoal needs a light these days because it now supports a wind farm.

Captain Syd gives 18 October as the date for this Happy Return’s sinking. (Six other vessels share the name in his database.) William SMITH built the vessel in Scarborough in 1840 and Richard CAMMISH was a part-owner. Abraham SANDERSON [MGZ3-WBR] is listed as skipper at the beginning of 1854 – but Richard Cammish, named “master” in the newspaper report, was his father in law and had presumably taken charge for this last voyage.

Filey’s loss of nine fishermen in this October storm has not been publicly memorialised. The window in St Oswald’s church remembers those who drowned from 1879 to 1896. Only one family stone in the churchyard recalls the event, and it agrees with Captain Syd on the date of the tragedy.

‘The water flowed on every side,

No friend was near to save.

At last he sank beneath the tide

And found a watery grave’

1346 Freeman D173

Another of today’s Anniversary People was unexpectedly and shockingly deprived of life. John KILLINGBECK was sixty-seven years old when he was hit by an express train. I wrote about him in Coincidences.

I haven’t put the three headstones on the Shared Tree yet, but here is the one remembering James CRAIK and his parents.

Sunrise 60 · Filey Bay


Bethalina CHAPMAN’s first husband, George COWLING, died 163 years ago today at the age of 26. While long-line fishing, he drowned “off Filey” – possibly somewhere in the watery expanse captured by Today’s Image.

Bethalina’s second husband, Thomas FREEMAN, died 142 years ago yesterday, aged 47. In 1861 he was working as a labourer but had turned to fishing ten years later.

Bethalina made it to age sixty. She had one child with George and three with Thomas – and at least 17 grandchildren.

I wrote a short post about girls’ names in Looking at Filey that featured Bethalina (aka Bothalina, Bothia, Bythia, Bithynia).  I also gave her a page on the LaF Wiki, which I’ll update soon.

Bethalina’s families are represented on both Filey Genealogy & Connections and Family Search Tree. I did some further research today, concentrating mainly on a second COWLING child that appears on FG&C. Thomas Marmaduke’s record shows he was born in 1856 and if that is correct then George could not have been his father.  Bethalina married Thomas FREEMAN in July 1857, so maybe he was the bio dad.

Thomas thoroughly confused the census enumerator in 1861 and the enumerators’ handwriting in that year and in 1871 has flummoxed the Find My Past transcribers.

Living with Thomas and “Bohahna” at 2, Wenlock Place in 1861 was “daughter in law” Mary CAWLING. There’s nothing much wrong with that, but his own boy and girl, William and Elizabeth, also bear the family name Cawling and relationship “in law”. In 1871 he has accepted Mary “COWLAND” as daughter and William as a Freeman. There are no signs of Thomas Marmaduke anywhere.

When I eventually caught up with the mystery child it was in Filey, marrying Mary Ann HOWE at St Oswald’s Church in 1903. (Mary Ann is “HOWL” in some transcribed sources.) He claimed, then, to be 45 years old and was therefore conceived after the marriage of Bethalina and Thomas Freeman.


However, if he was truthful at the 1911 Census the connection becomes questionable. He gave his birthplace as Staindrop in County Durham. That place is in Teesdale Registration District and there is a likely record for him there but in June Quarter 1857. The mother’s maiden surname is given as HOWDEN.

Thomas Marmaduke’s wife gave her birthplace as Princes End, Staffordshire. This was an area between Tipton and Coseley in the Dudley Registration District. A convincing record gives her birth there in the June Quarter of 1878, mother’s maiden surname COLE. (The age difference between the couple is  16 years in the marriage register and 1911 Census return, and 15 years in the GRO Births Index.)

Mary Ann was about six months pregnant when she walked down the aisle. Thomas Marmaduke junior’s birth was registered in the quarter following the wedding. Curiously, FG&C gives the birthplace as Frankton near Rugby but the registration was made in Scarborough. The birthplace may be correct because in 1911 the family was living in Foleshill, Warwickshire, about ten miles away from Frankton.