In late November 1863, Filey’s second lifeboat and its transport carriages were conveyed from Limehouse to the town, free of charge, by the Great Northern and North-Eastern Railway Companies. On Thursday, the 26th, it went on show.
Front and centre of proceedings were the Lord and Lady Mayoress of York, Richard Welch HOLLON and Mary née TROTTER. The lifeboat was their gift to the town. Before a procession set off to the seashore, Mr. Hollon addressed the crowd.
Ladies and gentlemen, for this extraordinary demonstration of your feelings towards me, I can scarcely find words of acknowledgement; but I assure you it is from my heart that I thank you on behalf of myself and Mrs. Hollon. We feel that if ever there was a worthy institution amongst us – one deserving of the generous support of all classes – it is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. (Cheers.) We are all in some measure indebted to the service of our brave sailors for many of the comforts we enjoy – from the tobacco of the poor labouring man to the more costly luxuries of the rich. Nationally, we ought to feel bound to protect the lives of our loyal tars, who have ever been ready to defend our shores from the attack of the invader, both in times of yore and even now. (Cheers.) But for them our homes might be subject to the torch of the invader and we might have to sit down like Marius and deplore the fallen glory of our once great empire. (Cheers.) It must indeed be a proud consideration for the men of Filey if they have to think hereafter that they have saved but one single life. (Cheers.) It may be thought singular that I, who reside in an inland part, should be the donor of a lifeboat to the coast. But we once – my wife and myself – had the misfortune to be placed in a situation of the most imminent peril at sea during a storm. We were providentially saved from a watery grave, and since then Mrs. Hollon suggested to me the appropriateness of commemorating our merciful preservation by presenting a lifeboat to some place where it might be needed. This boat is the result of my acquiescence in her wishes, and I assure you nothing could give me greater pleasure than I now feel in presenting this boat to the people of Filey.
Scarborough Mercury, 28 November 1863
This generous man would present Filey with successor boats – Hollon II and III – and leave the bulk of his estate to what we now call “good causes”. He died in York in July 1890 at the age of 83 and some of his bequests are still being managed today. His wealth derived from selling drugs. At the 1881 Census he described himself as a “retired drug merchant”, and I imagine he must have had a chain of chemist’s shops to amass so much loot.
Richard was 49 years old when he married for the first and only time; Mary just thirty. They did not have children of their own but amongst the institutions to benefit from Hollon generosity were the York Blue School for Boys, the Grey School for Girls, the Victoria Blind School in Newcastle, the Newcastle Deaf and Dumb Asylum and Dr. Barnardo’s Home Missions.
Though much younger, Mary died before her husband, in 1880 aged 55. He had “found” her in Morpeth and in her memory made a gift to the town of £7,000, about £350,000 in today’s money. From the interest on this sum, 25 of the town’s elderly poor would be paid a quarterly sum – in perpetuity. Such was the size of the gift that more than this number benefited each year and the grateful town opened a subscription scheme, the proceeds of which paid for the Hollon Fountain. (The current income of the gift is £8,500 per annum. The fountain was accidentally demolished by a car some years ago but has been rebuilt in a nearby location at a cost of £600,000 – and the annual Hollon Tea tradition revived.)
The forebears of both Richard and Mary have proved to be quite a challenge. I introduced Richard to Mary on the FamilySearch Tree a couple of weeks ago but today discovered that his mother, Dorothy ANNET(T) was a widow when she married John HOLLON. Her first husband was one Nicholas Philipson – and another man of that name married Ann ANNETT. And, yes, Dorothy had a sister called Ann. Further investigation suggests there are two Ann Annetts and two Nicholas Philipsons of the same vintage and location. I don’t envy their descendants sorting the tangled web. The Allendale PHILIPSONs may be connected in some way to Dorothy. They have a long pedigree.
Mary TROTTER was born in India or “the East Indies”. A Richard & Mary Marriage Notice on FST gives her father as “Spottiswoode TROTTER”. This points to HIS father being the Robert Trotter who was instrumental in encouraging Francis EYRE to challenge placemen of the corrupt Earls of Carlisle for the Parliamentary seat of Morpeth, a rotten borough if ever there was one. But back to the main subject of this post.