The Brothers Philliskirk

George, named after his father and grandfather, was born in 1800. Harrison, six years later, took the surname of his paternal grandmother and Davison, from 1809, would carry his mother’s family name until his death.

All three were born in Bridlington, or that part known as Bridlington Quay, and George died in the town when he was 25 years old. Davison, the youngest of the three, married first, in Bridlington in April 1832. His bride was a Filey woman, Mary JENKINSON, and a few months later Harrison also married a Filonian, Mary WYVILL, in St Oswald’s Church. This second Mary was an aunt to the brothers James and Crompton Wyvill who married Jane WATKINSON (Monday and Tuesday’s posts).

Both marriages were long but neither was blessed with children.

Davison became a master saddler but then branched into property, multi-tasking as an estate agent. It seems he saw an opportunity when “New Filey” was established in the late 1850s. In 1861 he was Secretary to the York City and County Bank, encouraging people to buy shares in the Filey Public Bath and Saloon Company.

The many improvements recently carried out in FILEY, and particularly in the Hotels and Lodging Houses, have induced a much larger number of Families to visit the place during the Season than could at one time have been anticipated, and Filey has now become one of the most fashionable Watering Places on the Yorkshire Coast.

As a further attraction, and to comply with the wishes of many of the Visitors, some of whom have been compelled to leave the place in consequence of the want of such accommodation, it has been decided to erect suitable BATHS in Filey, and for this purpose a Company has been formed and registered under the “Joint Stock Companies’ Limited Liability Acts.”

The Building, which is now in the course of erection, upon a most eligible site on the Undercliff, contains Hot, Cold, Shower and Vapour BATHS; a SALOON and READING ROOM, and a suitable Dwelling for the Manager, and will, it is expected, be completed in the month of July next.

Nearly two-thirds of the shares have already been taken, and Forms of Application for the remainder may be had on application to


Filey, June, 1861; Secretary, Filey

N.B. Bathing Machines in connection with the above establishment.

This building became an important focus of resort and all year round town social life and is currently nearing the completion of refurbishment as luxury apartments. I wonder how much Ackworth House cost to build 157 years ago.

Photographed this morning.

Harrison worked variously as a painter, plumber, glazier and decorator, employing five or six workers (“men and boys”).

Both brothers were ardent Wesleyans and trustees when the foundation stones were laid for the “new gothic chapel” in May 1876. Davison had made a substantial contribution to the cost of the building but was too ill to attend the ceremony and died about five weeks later.

Harrison lived on for another thirteen years and when his turn came he was laid to rest next to his brother.

Photographed this morning.

There is a less tangible memorial to the esteem in which Harrison was held. Linen draper and Filey Postmaster William STORY gave two of his children the middle name Philliskirk. Ann died in infancy but George would cross the Atlantic and make it into the Canadian Dictionary of National Biography. His short life in the service of God is considered on Faded Genes.

There is work still to be done on the Shared Tree but you can find the three Philliskirk brothers here. There are photographs of George Philliskirk Story and his wife here.

A Tale of Two Clements

On 8 October 1909 The Shipley Times and Express carried a court report under attention-grabbing headlines.


When the name of “Clement Mitchell” was called at the Bradford Police Court a week ago there tripped into the dock, to the amazement of all present, quite a coquettish female. “She” glanced saucily and defiantly round the Court, put out her hand to straighten her coiffure, and seemed aggrieved to find “herself” there in such a position. But the make-up was but a disguise – a clever one it is true – used by the man Mitchell in his career of thieving.

Clement lived in Gashouse Row, Bradford, as a married woman separated from her husband, worked in a mill as a woman, and the dresses he made won prizes in carnivals. In women’s disguise he was known to stop men in the street – but, as nobody had ever complained about being propositioned, the court set this behaviour aside and concentrated on the thieving. Quite why Clement had joined the Seaforth Highlanders the previous year, only to desert a few months later, was not considered. The Stipendiary took a previous conviction for a felony into account and sentenced Clement to two months in jail, with hard labour.

I could find the birth of only one Clement Mitchell registered in Bradford in the years 1881 to 1883 – and therefore close to the reported age of the “masquerader” – and he is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard, Filey.


“My Dear Husband” isn’t enough on its own to suggest that this can’t be the cross-dressing Clement. However, the nearby grave of his brother, Herbert Warren MITCHELL, helps to identify his birth family with certainty, born in Pudsey to William Marshall Mitchell and Ada GREENWOOD. Find them on FamilySearch Tree.

In 1885, another Clement Mitchell was born in Bradford and at age 15 he was working in a mill as a worsted spinner. He had three sisters.

Pudsey Clement does not have a wife on FST so I went in search of her.

In 1901 Clement was working as an apprentice joiner in Fulneck, Pudsey. Ten years later, he had married and crossed the Pennines. His occupation was given as “manual instructor”, employed in Littleborough by Lancashire County Council. His wife was Eva Lena, daughter of German immigrants, Frederick BEERMAN and Lena TINKEL.

Clement and Eva married in 1909 and their daughter, Florence, was born in Littleborough, Rochdale Registration District, in the 3rd quarter of 1914.

When the 1939 Register was taken, Clement was still teaching in Littleborough but the woman carrying out unpaid domestic duties in 3 Mount Avenue, was “Ivy M BUTTERWORTH (Mitchell)”.  Ivy was 14 years younger than Clement but seems likely to have been his second wife.

Further investigation showed that Eva Lena had died in Rochdale in 1920, aged 34 in the GRO Index.

About 18 months later Clement married Ivy M DAVIS in Rochdale. Perhaps this was her second marriage too, though she was only 24-years-old.

The question I’m unable to answer is, “Why are these two Pudsey brothers buried in Filey?”

Herbert Warren Mitchell’s wife died in 1942 and was interred at York. Herbert died seven years later just outside that city but was brought to Filey for his eternal rest. Eight years after that, his younger brother joined him in St Oswald’s churchyard.

And the other Clement?

When leaving the dock, Mitchell’s face became wreathed in smiles, and he patted himself on the head.

Yorkshire Evening Post 5 October 1909

Given his entertaining performance in court, it is not a great surprise that this Clement decided to tread the boards after his release from prison. Curiously, his adventures as a Music Hall artiste took him to Burnley, about 15 miles from Littleborough. With another female impersonator, James HARRISON, he entertained in the evenings as one half of “The Two Deans” and found ways of obtaining articles “by other than honest means” during the day. One of his landladies was relieved of some particularly valuable property and Clement was hunted down and found in Manchester where he was performing as Fanny Leslie, soprano. Harrison was also apprehended. Both men received six months with hard labour.

In 1915 he found another partner in crime, one Thomas McKitton. In November, they were both sentenced to six months for failing to register for army service, and also for stealing a travelling bag, overcoat etc, valued at £5, from their digs in Great Ardwick Street.

Meanwhile, handicraft teacher Clement spent the war in Littleborough successfully appealing conscription into the army.

And then –


Halifax or Lancaster?

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Sgt W. E. L. HARRISON.


William was in the RAFVR when he was killed. One online source has a photograph of him (giving his second name as Edward) and states in part:-

…the unit was equipped with Halifax bombers, one of the mainstay bombers within the R.A.F. at the time.

Unfortunately, during one particular training flight Billy’s Halifax was seen to lose control and the bomber crashed.  Harrison died of the wounds he received in the crash and his body was interred in St. Oswald’s cemetery just over a week later.

Another source offers “Edmund” rather than Edward but, more importantly, says he was the bomb aimer aboard a Lancaster.

Both sources agree on his service number – and his prowess on the football field. He played semi-professionally for Bradford Park Avenue FC. I thought that the CWGC website might offer a definitive casting vote but the information there is sketchy. It reckons Edmund was his middle name, but the St Oswald’s burial register gives Edward. (His birth registration has “William E. L.”).

William isn’t on the FamilySearch Tree but his great-grandmother, Eleanor AUTON, offers a starting point to build upon.

Today’s Image

The official record of the deaths of Port Hunter’s crew gives Geoffrey Bradley’s last address as 16 West Avenue, Filey. (Wednesday’s post.) If the numbering hasn’t changed since the Second World War, the space where this dwelling should be is occupied by Thornton House. With its three gables and sunny appearance, it makes me smile whenever I walk past. It is very clearly a one-off in architectural terms, and may well be the fanciful creation of a capable small town builder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASamuel Bradley was such a man. He appears in a number of newspaper court reports seeking restitution for non-payment, mostly for minor debts relating to materials used, but one customer defaulted on a house that Samuel built in Lincolnshire.

The birth of his first son with Harriet Smith was registered in that county and Geoffrey’s, three years later, in Scarborough. Perhaps Thornton House (at left in the photo) was a fresh-start project for his second family.

The Hands of Augustine Roulin


In 1888, about a thousand kilometers south of Savigné l’Evȇque, the birthplace  of Father Eugène Augustine Roulin, Vincent was painting Augustine, the wife of a namesake, Arles  postman Joseph-Etienne Roulin. Father Eugène was then 28 years old and about to be ordained. He was then posted (sorry, couldn’t resist) to the monastery of Silos. For reasons unkown to me he subsequently requested a move to the English congregation of the Order of St Benedict and in October 1905 he fetched up in Filey. He served the community for 27 years before retiring because of ill-health. He spent most of his last years at Ampleforth and died in March 1939. (If you search online for images of Father Roulin you will be lucky to find one in the gallery  of Van Gogh paintings.)

20170703HUNTERgravesFiley1_1mNinety-eight years ago today Father Roulin was standing here, a Roman Catholic officiating at the funeral of a supposedly Protestant Filey fisherman. The event caused some consternation locally and in The Two Funerals of John Hunter on Looking at Filey I reproduced contemporary newspaper reports and commentary at some length.

I haven’t found a record on FamilySearch Tree for Father ROULIN but John HUNTER has at least two. One is a minimal entry triggered by his baptism that doesn’t give his mother’s full name. The other (L87F-L6H) has a warning attached pointing out his birth after his mother’s child-bearing years should have been over. Whoever created this short pedigree added thirty years to the age of Sarah WILLIS.

But was John’s mother really a WILLIS? FST says so but Kath on Filey Genealogy plumps for “Sarah (Varey) WILLIS” – with good reason.  Sarah’s mother Susannah married George WILLIS in December 1821 when she must have been heavy with child. Their son Robert was born in February 1822 and George died the following month. Kath has a note about a smallpox outbreak at the time but George, a fisherman, may have drowned.  Sarah (Varey) WILLIS was born four years later in Filey followed by a brother, Charles (Varey) WILLIS, in 1830. Edward HARRISON didn’t make an honest woman of Susannah until 1835 and they had three children together.

I searched further on FST and discovered  that George WILLIS has four IDs. Two show him in splendid isolation, linked to nobody. A third, linked to his baptism, also gives his date of death. The one ID worth developing is K2FK-1M3. It takes his male line further back than Filey Genealogy, to William WILES from Middleton on the Wolds, born 1682.

In the churchyard photo above the grave next to John’s is the resting place of his parents. The stone’s inscription reads:-

In Loving Memory of WILLIAM HUNTER the Beloved husband of

SARAH HUNTER who died 22 Nov 1881 aged 66 years

‘He suffered long, but mourned not

We watched him day by day

Grew less and less with aching heart

Until he passed away’

Also of the above SARAH HUNTER who died 7th Oct 1897 aged 74 years

‘Her end was peace’


The photo of Father Roulin’s hands is a crop from a three-quarter length portrait, a photocopy, given to me by Kath without a date or any attributions to pass on. I joked about Father Roulin being sent to Silos but he wrote a book about the place that can be obtained at Waterstones. And from Amazon you may be able to acquire his 1931 book Vestments and Vesture: Manual of Liturgical Art.