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.

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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.

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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.

‘Re-united’

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

Another Killer Gale

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John William was buried just four days after his death, so he must have been almost home. The Register of Deceased Passengers held at The National Archives and available to view online via Find My Past gives the name of the ship and its approximate location when John expired.

Marcotis was almost certainly bound for its home port and 51º10’ N, 6º 40 W places her in the Irish Sea, south-west of the Pembrokeshire coast and about 280 miles from Liverpool. Innocuous as degrees and minutes, the coordinates are fiendish when converted to decimals.

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The inscription on John’s red granite memorial in St Oswald’s churchyard tells us he “died in a gale at sea”, a description that paints a fuzzy, uncertain, picture of his final moments. The Register provides shocking clarity, giving the cause of death as “Hemorrhage of the Lungs”.

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John’s grave is just a few yards from that of his older brother, Edwin, after whom the southernmost Filey Ravine is named. The 1881 Census reveals that Edwin, age 32, was a “Woollen Manufacturer of Martins Sons Employing 930 people”. Ten years later he has passed the running of the factory to John. Perhaps it was too great a burden for the younger brother.

In 1881 John had married Lily, daughter of Benjamin HANSON, another Huddersfield Woollen Manufacturer, employing 372 hands in 1871. John and Lily had two children, Kenneth born 1883 and Gwynneth  Adrienne in 1888. After her husband’s death, Lily moved with the children to Eastbourne on the south coast. In 1911 Gwynneth remained single but Kenneth, 29, “Company Director, Financial Corporation (Private Means)”, was married to Clarisse Lillian nee MELLIER and they had two boys, Patrick Kenneth and Jack Mellier.

For all their wealth and social standing, the Martins were poorly represented on FST. I put in a shift today but there is a lot more still to do.

Hale Mary

Francis CHEW (or CHOW) was named after the father he never met. Francis Senior and his brother were drowned in January 1808.

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There is a verse inscribed on the stone that has long been covered by an accumulation of soil. When the Crimlisks did their survey of the monuments in 1978 they relied on George Shaw’s Rambles Round Filey, 1886, to quote it in full (and kindly gave him a credit).

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Sacred to the Memory of FRANCIS & JAMES CHOW who were drowned Jan·y 14th 1808, the former aged 30, the latter 24 years.

‘Most epitaphs are vainly wrote;

The dead to speak it can’t be thought;

Therefore, the friends of those here laid,

Desired that this might be said.

That rose two brothers, sad to tell,

That rose in health, ere night they fell –

Fell victims to the foaming main;

Wherefore awhile they hid remain.

Friends for them sought, and much lament,

At last the Lord to those them sent.

So child and widow they bemoan

O’er husband’s and o’er father’s tomb.’

Young Francis had an older brother but it would appear from the singular child of the verse that he had died before the father.

I made a start today on putting the CHEWs on FST and if you click the link you will notice the curious appearance of two women called Mary EDMOND who would become the grandmothers of John Francis CHEW.

The two Marys are not related by blood but one of them, the wife of John JENKINSON, was the niece of Ann EDMOND who featured in a post a few days ago.

Young Francis married Mary JENKINSON, the daughter of John and Mary Edmond II, on Christmas Eve 1832. Nine years on, to the day, this Francis was lost at sea. There are records of three children – Mary Ann who didn’t quite make it to her fortieth year, Elizabeth who died aged about three and John Francis who fell nine years short of his natural span.

Their mother, though, kept going through her long widowhood and saw in the 20th century.

She was only 26 when her husband died so it is perhaps surprising she didn’t marry again. In 1861 she was housekeeper to her father who was giving shelter to a couple of his grandchildren. John was still around in 1871, giving his age as 83, still cared for by daughter Mary. His granddaughter Elizabeth JENKINSON was with them, busy making dresses.

John died a year later and so did Mary’s daughter Mary Ann. At the 1881 Census, Mary was caring for her three HANSON grandchildren, aged 18, 15 and 12. Ten years later the King Street cottage was occupied by just Mary, now 76, and Frank Hanson, a 27-year-old Joiner who would marry Mary Jane COWLING that summer.

In 1881 Mary had kept a shop to support her young family and she possibly kept it going through her seventies. She was obviously made of stern stuff. Hail Mary!