New Year Mix

When I saw this brief video a couple of days ago I noticed that commenters had no idea who the Doc was. By her face, favour and rich voice I recognized one of “The Five Docs”. Today, seeking the link to post here, I saw that someone has just expressed love for Lee Merritt. Robin links to the Fives latest meeting.

Old LaF

Tuesday 1 January 2013

The SS Poderosa Mystery

On the 27th November 1896 the SS Poderosa, in ballast from Grimsby to Grangemouth, came to grief on Scoughall Rocks, about 4 miles east of North Berwick (56.042842, 2.614741).The vessel’s master at her wrecking was T. GREIG. Eleven years earlier, under the command of Edward THOMPSON, the Poderosa, carrying copper from Huelva to Rotterdam, struck a submerged rock off Ushant. Though badly damaged and taking water, the ship made it to the destination port. At a Board of Trade Poderosa’s home port of Sunderland, Captain THOMPSON was reprimanded but kept his ticket. [Some] years or so before this, an incident may have occurred on the Poderosa as it steamed past Filey Bay. It is by no means certain that a man was lost overboard but the mutilated body of a sailor with connections to the steamship washed up on Filey Brigg some days, or maybe weeks, later.



An inquest was held on Monday, at the Ship Inn, on the body of the man who was found on the Brigg on Sunday by George Featherson [sic]. The deceased appeared to be a man-of-war’s man, but there was no evidence to show how he got into the water. On his blue collar was the name of “J. Burgett” stamped inside. The body was very much decomposed and was minus the head, hands and feet. A sailors discharge was found in the pocket. Verdict, “Found Drowned.” Lloyd’s agent informs us that the Poderosa is or was a steamer of 794 tons, registered at Sunderland.

Scarborough Mercury, Friday 5th January 1883


1920 · Harry COWLING · 2007 Cowling F170

Kath wrote this appreciation of Harry on Filey Genealogy & Connections

An absolutely lovely man.  Heartbroken when his wife died.

He used to look after some of the graves at St Oswald’s churchyard  – later on, my girls would help him strim the weeds when we were up there.

He knew so much about the fishing history and other elements to Filey’s history even though he was away for a while

He was a choirboy and had to go down to the Rudston Memorial – right down.  the steps to the mausoleum were not immediately outside the memorial, they were a bit further down the path so he and Jimmy Brown – as choirboys had to go down with the funeral party. He told me that they were scared stiff.

He was also friendly with Andie Caine’s son – who died after coming home as a prisoner of war and came off a little lorry that David Cowling  and Sonny Caine were in when bringing some window frames back from Barmston or somewhere further down the E Riding. He grabbed a window frame that was a bit unsteady with the wind and movement of the wagon but it took him over the side and he landed on his head. He died a few days later from his injuries but Sonny Caine lived.

Note: see David Livingstone Cowling

1899 Arthur FERRAR · 2029 Ferrar E152

1916 Charles ROBINSON & Grace Elizabeth CRIMLISK · 1739 Robinson E20

1926 Mary Watkinson née JENKINSON · 826 Watkinson G659

1858 George GOFTON · MGCY-D22


1979 Church Farm, Ashmansworth


I can’t remember seeing a day like it. Crimson sun rising into a cloudless sky and, after a short golden journey, bathing the evening fields in fabulous orange light. The crusty unbroken snow striated into lovely patterns by the wind. (The lane to the wood and Cowslip Dell chest high with drifted snow). Taking the cows out into this brilliant freezing day, Buttercup “escaped”, playfully running into the Halls’, then into the wrong field, then back down the lane. Heather and I finally cornered her in the churchyard.

The blizzard came on Saturday night. Great fun stepping out from the cottage yesterday morning into a completely fresh landscape. The temperature way below freezing last night and expected to stay that way for several days. It ought to make life harder here but it doesn’t seem to. The cold doesn’t strike nearly as deep as it should.

1981 Coalbrookdale


Up to the New Year just after seven. A bank of indigo cloud above Dale Coppice; above Captain’s Coppice a bright sickle moon. Out at ten. The cloud gone, sun bright but weakened by cold. The village deserted. Along the Rope Walk the first-met living thing of 1981 – an extremely fat Robin. The wind booms through the electricity cables strung across the valley. A barely audible shushing from the Loamhole Brook fifty feet below. Occasional snapping of twigs, fragments of bird song. Reaching the knoll of silver birches I met the bitter north wind cutting down the valley from Coalmoor.

Beach 152 · Muston Sands

Ancestral Trials

The Misses Mary TOALSTER on FamilySearch (IDs GZMR-29J & 9QVZ-N86) could not, of course, be merged, being different individuals. I had two choices. Declare them “not a match” and then change the name of “Mary E.” to create the person Mary Elizabeth HUNT. Or I could make this change first, thereby removing the “potential duplicate”. I thought it better not to break the chain of data custody and go the “not a match” route. I started the clock to see how long this would take me. After four hours yesterday I had most of the information I held on the two Marys uploaded to the Shared Tree but hit some obstacles along the way and didn’t get as far as connecting Mary Elizabeth to her forebears. The most interesting puzzle involved Sarah ODLING, a grandmother of Mary Elizabeth Hunt. She has this toe-hold on the Shared Tree.

And here she is, usurped –

Sarah UNDERWOOD/HUNT has six sources attached to her record. Two census returns, three baptism records for daughter Sarah Ann and one reference to the baptism of Mary Jane the Elder. None of these sources identify mother Sarah as a born Underwood.

It seems unlikely that there were two Mary Jane’s living together as sisters. I have not found a record of the younger Mary. Here are the birth registrations of four children –

(Roger, Mary Elizabeth’s father-to-be, is usually “Rodger” in subsequent records.)

It appears we should accept Sarah ODLING as the wife of James Crowther Hunt. Here is the parish marriage register record –

Grimsby is in Caistor Registration District and the family crossed the River Humber after Mary Jane was born to settle in Hull. I found it interesting that Sarah could write and her husband couldn’t. Sarah’s childhood had not been easy. In 1851, given age 9, she was descibed as a pauper inmate of Boston Workhouse, with her mother Ann, (married, 48), brother Benjamin (15) and younger sisters Elizabeth (6) and Mary Ann (3).

It gets worse. On the Underwood screenshot above the “real” Mary Jane Hunt marries William AARON and if you look on the Shared Tree they have (perhaps) seven children. The youngest, Doris, has an attached record showing her baptism in 1895 in Goole, which is about thirty miles from Hull. By some genealogical legerdemain, she transforms into Doris Lynette, born in Athens, Georgia in 1918. It should not come as a surprise that Mrs Mary Jane Aaron, aged fifty when Doris Lynette was born, was not in real life the daughter of James Crowther Hunt.

I’m not sure I want to bite the bullet. It feels as if I’ve been put through a cement mixer.

Found Object 51 · Primrose Valley

A Dynasty


This modest house in Chapel Street was the last home of William ROSS and his wife Mary Elizabeth before they died in 1921 and 1931, aged 82 and 92, respectively. On their headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard it says after Mary’s inscription: –

We shall meet in the sweet bye and bye.


Kath has this note in Filey Genealogy & Connections: –

…see the story of the Ross family – how William was saved and became religious. His brother Castle Ross was a well-known minister. 1867: a labourer – see also Kendall’s ‘Storm’.

It is tempting to imagine him being rescued from drowning in a storm while fishing and following the Lord’s advice to get a labouring job on land. But he is a fisherman in the 5 censuses from 1871 to 1911. and in 1883 he was (probably) the captain of the yawl Tranquility. I have written about it before but here again is the story from The Scarborough Mercury of 3 August.

SUDDEN DEATH ON BOARD A YAWL.-On Monday morning, about 5-30, as the yawl Tranquility was about to proceed to sea, one of the men named Charles Hamilton, a native of Barton upon Humber, was observed by the Captain, William Ross, to sit down. The Captain asked him if he was ill, but the deceased made no reply. Seeing the man looking very ill the skipper ordered the boat to be launched and the deceased was rowed on shore, and the doctor was sent for with all speed, but on Dr. Orr’s arrival he found life to be extinct. The deceased had a wife living at Hull. He had only arrived at Filey on Saturday night last and gone on board the yawl that morning. An inquest will be held.

Other than this distressing event, William and Mary’s lives together in Filey seem to have been unremarkable. Before she married, aged 20, Mary had lost her father to the sea. John WILLIAMSON was drowned off Reighton in 1858, I think from the coble Rachael & Anne. Death took one of her six children in 1877 when young Thomas Castle was just 7, but four married and produced at least 19 grandchildren. Tragedy would strike some of William and Mary’s descendants – and great wealth would accrue to others in the extended family. And my parents would contribute to the Ross fortune, by feeding their frozen foods to me when I was a child.

William was the uncle of Thomas Ross, son of older brother John and Eliza WHEELER. Thomas crossed the Humber to seek his fortune and found it in Grimsby, founding the firm that became Ross Frozen Foods.

William was a granduncle to John Carl Ross, son of Thomas and Maria BANNISTER. John Carl took over the business when his father retired and ensured its continuing success.

John Carl’s grandson David, William’s second great grand nephew, grasped an early opportunity offered by technology and quickly amassed a fortune estimated at £873 million. But he flew too near the sun.

I don’t know if the Ross Family representation on the FamilySearch Shared Tree mirrored what happened “in real life”. The family was connected on Filey Genealogy but split on FST. I doubt there really was a rift between those who stayed in Filey to continue long-line fishing from small boats and the Ross adventurers who built a fleet of distant water trawlers. Whatever, I’ve built the bridge on FST. You could start with the Dynast John Carl and travel back in time to Old Filey. There are images aplenty online – just search for ‘Ross frozen foods’.

A Grocer and His Servant

Alfred Burley TOWSE was born on 12 September 1866. I planned to mark his 152nd birthday last Wednesday with a short post but his family proved to be rather demanding. I have done a few hours work on them each day and have a way to go before I have his birth family all present and correct on FamilySearch Tree.

Alfred didn’t cause any problems, for me at least. He married Annie Maud JENNINGS in Grimsby when he was 25 but their three children were born in Filey. He described himself at the 1891 census as a Grocer’s Assistant, presumably working for his father. Samuel Towse was a Grocer and Sub Post Master in Filey.

In 1893 he got on the wrong side of Constable HARRISON.


In today’s money, 21 shillings is about £95.

Eight years later he was a Grocer’s Manager living at 11 Union Street. Samuel was clearly still “the boss”, and would remain so until shortly before his death in 1916.

Before the next census, Alfred had moved south, crossed the River Humber and changed trades. In Scunthorpe in 1911, he is described as a Tobacconist Manager.  With him at 74 High Street were Annie Maud and two of their children, Eric Alfred (17) and Ethel Mary (16). Annie Maud was a Lincolnshire lass and that may be the only reason for the family’s move.

During the next 28 years, Alfred changed his occupation again. In the 1939 Register, at 63 East Street, Grimsby, he is listed as a retired House Agent.

Alfred and Annie made what seems to be a sensible decision, forsaking the fishing port for  Louth, some miles inland. Alfred died there at the beginning of 1954 aged 87 and Annie followed him into the good night a year later.

You can find them on FamilySearch Tree.

Turning the clock back to 1901 finds the couple in their mid-thirties and their children aged 6, 7, and 8. They have a live-in servant, a young widow, Mary Jane HANSON, 32.

I expected to find that Mary Jane’s husband had been a fisherman, but no, he worked as a joiner, not a particularly dangerous trade.

There are only twenty Hansons in Filey Genealogy & Connections and of those, I only had death information for eleven of them. Two boys and a girl didn’t reach their first birthday and only one of each sex passed three score and ten. It is a small sample so nothing can really be read into the average lifespan of those born a Hanson: men 35 years and women 34. I recalled adult, gossipy conversations throughout my childhood during which my mother would say, “Oh, they’re not long-livers.”

Widow Hanson didn’t marry again and died aged 81 in January 1950. There are a lot of Filey Cowlings and calculating their average span will have to wait.


In loving memory of FRANCIS E. HANSON, the beloved husband of MARY JANE HANSON (of Filey), who died July 29th 1894, aged 31 years.

‘His end was peace’

Also of the above MARY JANE HANSON, who died Jan 31st 1950, aged 81 years.


Find Mary Jane on FamilySearch Tree. Her pedigree is more extensive on Filey Genealogy & Connections.

FV ‘Chilian’

The Grimsby registered steam trawler Chilian ran onto the rocks of Filey Brigg about three o’clock in the morning of Sunday, 8th April 1894. She was a new vessel, having made her first fishing trip a couple of months earlier. The Investigation into the accident towards the end of April found the skipper, Joseph William LITTLE, culpable and withdrew his captain’s license. Such had been his previous conduct, this was only for 9 months, and he was allowed to continue working as a Second hand. A number of people, the surviving Chilian crew, Filey coastguards, and fishermen, gave evidence that the Bell Buoy wasn’t working as it should at the time of the accident. Joseph was adamant that his vessel would not have run aground had the bell been heard. Chilian ­had been traveling at full speed until about 1 am when fog closed in and “Dead Slow” was telegraphed to the engine room.

There was, however, a strong sea and the vessel hit the Brigg with great force and “full astern” couldn’t drag her off. Chilian began to break up almost immediately and the skipper ordered his crew to climb the rigging, Some thought they could launch the small boat but the vessel slipped off the rocks while they were doing so, causing them to be thrown into the sea. Five men drowned and one was crushed by a falling spar. The captain found himself in the water at one point but managed to get back onboard and climb the funnel. He and the four crewmen atop the rigging held on for about five hours until rescued by Hercules, another Grimsby trawler that had been keeping company with Chilian on the way home. A local coble brought Joseph Little to Filey to face the music, while the other rescued were taken by Hercules to their home port.

The body of one of the drowned was picked up during the morning of the 9th and taken to Scarborough, where an inquest on the body of Thomas WEEDON was held in the evening.

The Shields Daily News, 10 April, named the deceased:-

First Engineer B. LEEMAN, 32, of 36 Guildford Street, Grimsby, married, three children.

Fourth hand T. F. WEEDON, 25,  of 32 Guildford Street, married, a native of Hertford.

BARKER, 23, single, 22 Phelps Street, a native of Scarborough.

Steward W. CLARK, 23, who lodged at 108 Park Street, a native of Retford.

Trimmer C. TRIPLER, 31, single, 22 Orwell Street, a native of Copenhagen.

Trimmer T. E. LOFTUS, 19, single, Queen Street, a native of Grimsby.

And the saved:-

Captain J. LITTLE, 108 Park Street.

Second hand T. BARKER, 22 Phelps Street.

Third hand W. WEEKS, 87 Victor Street, a native of Bristol.

J. JONES, 29 Stanley Street.

George LEEMAN, 36 Guildford Street.


This painting by an unknown artist is in Filey Museum and doesn’t seem to fit the published narrative of the wrecking too well. The waves covered the vessel almost to the top of the funnel during that terrible night, according to Joseph Little’s testimony.

There is information about Chilian at Wreck Site and you can download a PDF of the formal Investigation here. (Search ‘Chilian’; click PDF number 16400.)

Today’s Image – The possibly culpable Bell Buoy is the faintest of grey specks beyond the end of Filey Brigg (near high tide). If the wind and sea are right you can sometimes hear it tolling from the promenade.

Syria won’t go away. I felt a little uncomfortable a few days ago saying that the BBC seemed to prefer bringing on “useful idiots” to analyze events. I’m somewhat comforted that BoJo the Clown has since used this term as a descriptor for Jeremy Corbyn, (who has come out of the wretched Skripal Affair with at least some credit). I switched on the radio this morning and heard the last few minutes of the Thoughts of Bob Seeley, MP for the Isle of Wight. You can listen to his Five Live wisdom on Twitter. Judge for yourself, but I thought this was idiotic:-

What you can do is recognize that the Syrian regime is criminal, you can recognize that what the Russians are doing is significant war crimes, both there and they’ve done the same in Eastern Ukraine as well. And you can record this for posterity. I know that doesn’t sound much but recording the truth is important and then you can try bringing people to justice, even if they’re not there, even if they never serve a term, you can find people guilty for action and record it.

Yes, sir. Blair, Clintons, Obama, Bush Senior, Bush Junior, Netanyahu… The New Axis of Evil delivers an endless list of the guilty-as-charged and thus-far-unpunished. TheresaMay has just pronounced that Russia should be held accountable for the brutality of the Assad regime. Perhaps she has forgotten. We (the British) didn’t “rule the world” by being nice. In our post-imperial phase, who should be held responsible for bombing Libya into failed-state misery? Shall we, the guilty UK,  just blame the French?

Selective amnesia, willful blindness, hypocrisy and dual standards rule the state-supported airwaves almost everywhere.

AB George Lewis

The headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard that remembers George LEWIS ( 1846 – 1918) and his wife Mary Jane née COWLING also asks us to think of…

…their beloved grandson, drowned in Falmouth Harbour while serving his King and Country, March 10 1918, aged 20 years.


Another seaman, Deckhand William CUTHBERTSON, drowned with young George but I have been unable to determine exactly how they died. The Lewis family headstone gives the wrong year for whatever accident befell them. The war was over; it was 1919.

One report says they were found floating in Falmouth Harbour, having fallen from their ship, HMT Emmanuel Camelaire, or perhaps from the dockside.

Emmanuel Camelaire
Photographer unknown, no date, Imperial War Museum

George was a “Trimmer Cook” – two clearly separate jobs. The first required him to get his hands dirty in the boiler room, and the second to keep them reasonably clean in the galley. I don’t know how long he had served in the Royal Naval Reserve but Lives of the First World War gives his birth date as 14 October 1896. His birth was registered in Scarborough, December Quarter 1898, so perhaps he was too young to join the service and lied about his age. He was fifteen when the war began.

He left a widow at their home in Grimsby, Christiana, four months pregnant with their first child. Annie LEWIS was born on the 9th of August and I photographed her stone in the churchyard this morning.


The LEWIS family is a work in progress on FST.