A Troubled Family

What was Hannah HOOD thinking when she persuaded her husband to share a bedroom with her 80-year-old father?

The remains of Mr. Frank Chapman, aged 80, who met his death at Reighton, by falling from a window, was interred on Tuesday. Deceased was formerly a farmer at Gristhorpe.

Scarborough Mercury 18 December 1903

 

Hannah was about six months old and her brother George three when they were christened at the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Filey on 16 November 1865.

Twenty-three years later, George married Maria GLENTON. In 1901 they are in Gristhorpe with their three children, Charlotte Ann, 11, Robert, 8, and Eliza Jane, 2. George was sound of body, working as an agricultural labourer, and would see his father buried two years later. If he attended the funeral, he may have considered St Oswald’s churchyard a pleasant spot to rest eternally. If that was his wish, it came true a decade later.

I have not discovered the whereabouts of George or Maria in 1911, Their children were scattered. The youngest, Eliza Jane, is boarding with widow WELLBURN in Gristhorpe. Charlotte Ann is a general servant to farmer Thomas JACKSON at Osgodby, near Cayton. Robert is a “beastman” to another farmer, Charles Collins SKELTON, near Hunmanby, unaware that he will soon be asked to forfeit his life. A life remembered on the headstone of his parents, a few metres from the grave of Frank and Ann.

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In loving memory of GEORGE CHAPMAN of Gristhorpe, who departed this life April 9th 1913, aged 50 years.

‘Not gone from memory nor from love

But to the eternal Home above’

Also of MARIA, wife of the above, died Nov 11 1926, aged 67 years.

‘At rest’

Also, Pt. ROBERT CHAPMAN, son of the above, who was killed in France after four years active service, Nov 1st 1918, aged 26 years.

‘In the midst of life, we are in death

Forever with the Lord’

The life expectancy of a soldier on the Western Front was short, and for Robert to have come through three or more years of carnage to die within days of “victory” is poignant. I couldn’t find him on the CWGC database, the nearest sacrifice to November the first being an infantryman with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Robert isn’t to be found on the Filey War Memorial – no surprise as he was a Gristhorpe man. I looked for a photo I took of the Gristhorpe Memorial in March.

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There he is, at the bottom of the list – “K. O. Scottish Bords”. If he served with the 6th Battalion throughout the war he may have fought in a dozen battles, including the Somme, Passchendaele, Delville Wood, Zonnebeke Redoubt, Cambrai. Robert was killed during the Final Offensive in 1918. His body was identified by his cap badge, general service uniform and boots and placed in a temporary grave. With a thousand or more other comrades he was taken to the New British Cemetery at Harlebeke, near Ieper, in 1924 or 1925.

George had died in the North Riding Asylum in York, aged 50, unaware of the trials his son would soon endure. How much did Maria know of her son’s fate? Robert’s service record online is bereft of kin. She died on Armistice Day 1925 (not 1926) in the same mental hospital as her husband. What must those twelve years of widowhood have been like for her?

In 1924, Eliza Jane signed the register at the marriage of her sister to Charles Henry JACKSON, (perhaps a relative of the people Charlotte had skivvied for at Osgodby). Thirty-four years old when she married, Charlotte died childless (I think) in Scarborough, in 1949, aged 60. I don’t know what became of Eliza Jane.

Accidents and Alcohol

StationApproachFiley1_8mOn this day in 1869, a passenger train from Hull was approaching Filey about 3 pm. The driver was “in the habit of running down the incline from Hunmanby at considerable speed” and,  a second or two after passing under the Donkey Bridge, he noticed the signal protecting the station was set at danger. (The signal may have been in the same place as the one you can see in the photo, but distances given in the accident investigation report suggest it was a hundred yards or so further on.) At the bridge, he had shut off steam and whistled for the tender and guard’s brakes to be applied, and as he passed the signal he reversed steam and set the sand pipes going, slowing the train from 40 to ten miles per hour. He hit a stationary coal train on the downline just south of the station with quite a thump, throwing a couple of coal wagons off the track. Thankfully, none of the passenger carriages derailed. (Of the 150 people aboard, fifteen would complain of injuries.) The driver was not in a fit state to be questioned immediately, possibly because he was inebriated rather than hurt. A month later the Report stated, “This man appears to have been drinking since1st January 1870, and has now been dismissed from the service of the company.”

The passenger train had been running late so there was even less of an excuse for the station staff to have allowed the coal train to remain in its dangerous position.  The station master claimed to have given instructions for its removal well ahead of the expected arrival of the Hull train; the underlings, somewhat feebly, claimed not to have received said instructions. The danger should have been clear to everyone.

The Report doesn’t name names but the culpable station master was Charles MILNER, born in Huddersfield in 1807. He married in Gloucestershire and moved several times thereafter with his growing family. The first two children were born in Cheltenham, and the next three in Yorkshire at Sinderby, Pickering, and Starbeck.

Charles not only kept his job in Filey after the accident but his only son, Charles George, was stationmaster at Seamer in 1873 when they were both up before the court for “refusing to pay poor rates”. (The case was dismissed on a technicality.)

Eight years later the census finds the father retired in West Parade, Filey, with wife Mary and single daughter Jemima, aged 26. Charles George left it late to marry. He was 39 when he hitched his wagon to 25-year-old Asenath GREENHELD,  in Scarborough. Nine months or so later their only child, Bertha Frances, was born. Charles George left the railway company but not the rails. He worked as a salesman for a book publisher. The 1881 census catches him in an Exeter lodging house with a motley crew of wanderers, commercial travelers in hardware, “stuff goods”, fancy stationery – with a Clerk in Holy Orders to keep them honest, for a while at least.

Charles senior died in April 1886 and the following year Charles George moved his small family to Eastbourne in Sussex, where he bought a coal merchant’s business.  A few days before Christmas 1889 he went out for the evening on his own. At the Gildredge Hotel he had a whiskey, or maybe it was a gin, and ordered a joint of beef. He talked about “strikes and business” with a man who would give evidence at the coroner’s inquest.

When I went away I left him in the smoking-room talking to Mr. Turton and to little Mr. Moore who used to be coachman at Compton-place. I never saw deceased in a public house before. I was surprised to see him there. I think he was quite sober.

The jury found that the death was purely accidental, and “not brought about by intoxication”.

Two young men about town witnessed Charles Milner the younger’s death. One of them, Mr. G. BRADFORD said:-

I live at 9 Susan’s –road. Gilbert said to me, “Hallo! Here is one copped it already.” He then halloaed out, “Hallo! Old man, don’t attempt that. You can’t do it.” He said that because he saw deceased was close to the steps. Deceased made a grab at the pillar post to steady himself in going down or to save himself from falling. He fell at once. I went for the police, leaving Gilbert with deceased.

Charles had not fallen far but his neck was broken and he died before Dr. J.H. EWART arrived at the scene. He told the inquest that there was no evidence that Charles had imbibed a “great quantity” of alcohol.

One of the Jury, a Mr. COOMBER, suspected foul play and refused to sign the inquisition but it seems the verdict of accidental death was readily accepted by the people of the town

Great sympathy is felt for deceased’s family. The unanimous testimony of his friends is that he was a man of extremely temperate habits…

Old man? Charles George was 54 when he died. Had he made it to 65 he could have played a proud father role in the audience when the Eastbourne Philharmonic performed Sir Frederick Bridge’s “grand setting of Rudyard Kiplings patriotic ode” The Flag of England. Bertha Frances Milner was one of the sopranos in the choir.

Sources: North Eastern Railway accident report; Poor rates case, Driffield Times 31 May 1873, ‘Fatal Accident to an Eastbourne Coal Merchant’, Eastbourne Gazette, 25 December 1889, ‘The Flag of England’ Concert¸Eastbourne Gazette, 14 February 1900.

I have made a start connecting disparate MILNERs on the FamilySearch Tree.