Stathers the Chemist

The Scarborough Gazette Directory of 1905 places Alfred STATHERS, dispensing chemist, at 3 Union Street, Filey. At the census four years earlier, he was resident at this address, above the shop, with his unmarried son, Alfred Bird Stathers, 30, and a Housekeeper, Hannah POOL, age 26 and single. Alfred senior had been a widower for over twenty years, since his wife Mary Jane died in March 1879. Mary Jane was the daughter of Robert BIRD, the subject of last Friday’s post. You may recall that Robert and wife Ruth employed Elizabeth Stathers to help with the running of their London home (1871 census). I speculated that Elizabeth was Mary Jane’s sister in law, and Alfred Stathers was indeed her brother. The relationship of the two women would appear to have been much deeper than mistress and servant, or sisters.

In affectionate remembrance of ELIZABETH STATHERS, late of Malton, who departed this life Dec 27th 1878, aged 49 years.

‘Thy will be done’

Also of MARY JANE STATHERS, the beloved wife of ALFRED STATHERS, who died March 12th 1879, aged 44 years.

‘Nearer my God to Thee

Nearer to Thee’

Also of ALFRED STATHERS M.P.S., who died Sep 3rd 1905, aged 73 years.

‘His end was peace’

This stone is next to that of Robert and Ruth Bird, and if the street numbers have not changed in the last hundred years, Alfred’s chemist shop has morphed into Frothies.

Union Street, Filey

I have united previously unconnected elements of the Bird and Stathers families on the FamilySearch Tree. There is more work to be done – and another stone to present, to make a family group of three.

Path 128 · Church Walk

Migrating Birds

Robert BIRD ran a successful business as a tailor and woollen draper in Queen Street, Filey, for a quarter of a century or more. He seems to have had only two children with Ruth nee POSGATE; Mary Jane born in 1835 and Samuel Robert who arrived twelve years later. Both were with their parents when the 1861 census was taken. Mary Jane married in 1864 and built a nest with Alfred STATHERS. Robert retired from business not long afterwards and flew south to London where the enumerator found him in Hungerford Road, Islington, with Ruth and Samuel Robert, 24, who was working as a junior clerk in the Public Record Office. The trio had a lodger, a commercial traveller in the woollen trade called Adolph WEPPLER, who had been blown across the German Ocean by the winds of fate. The live-in servant, Elizabeth STATHERS, aged 40 and unmarried, was most probably Mary Jane Bird’s sister in law.

The older Birds may have tired of the Great Wen because ten years later they are enumerated in Westcott, just outside Dorking. They are living at The Lodge – and I want to believe they had a few contented years in this small property –

Nowadays, you would have to hand over about £600,000 to acquire ownership but, hey, it is only a couple of hundred metres from Nirvana Cycles.

Robert died in January 1885 and the homing instinct in Ruth was too strong to keep her in Surrey. She is buried in Filey – and her stone remembers Robert. I have put a photograph of it on the Shared Tree.

Path 127 · Headland Way

to Speeton Sands

The Four Wives of James Knaggs

At the end of March 1851, James was at the Pigeon Pie Inn, Sherburn, with older sister Jane and her husband, William SAWDEN. He was 25-years-old, working as a joiner and single. It would be three years before he found a wife. For reasons unknown, he crossed the Humber to Lincolnshire, wooed Sophia MARSHALL and married her in Winteringham on 15 August 1854. In early summer the following year she gave birth to William, their only child, in Filey. When the boy was five months old she died. The family is minimally represented on the FamilySearch Tree.

Sophia’s headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard has fine letter forms that have withstood 164 years of weather quite well.

A year later, James married Ann REYNOLDS in North Frodingham. There is a Scarborough birth registration in the September Quarter of 1859 that could mark the entry of daughter Anne into the world but the child then disappears from view. Mother Ann vanishes too. I cannot find a record of her death but on census night 1861 James is with his third wife, Isabella née BROWN, at 10 Pembroke Cottages, Islington.

James has given up his trade and become a Lay Missionary. His firstborn, William, is living in Winteringham with grandfather William Marshall and “step grandmother” Catherine. (Sophia’s father has married for the third time.)

In 1871 James is the Minister at Stratford Congregational Church and a widower, but young William, 15, is with him and the three children born to Isabella. Ten years later James is a widower still and now an “Independent Minister”. William is working as a grocer’s clerk and the other boy, Cornelius, has a similar position in a chemist’s shop. James’ daughter Isabella Margaret, 18, is listed as “housekeeper” and there are two other servants. Fourth child, Caroline Mary, now 14, is a boarder at Milton Mount College, Gravesend.

By 1891, James is back with the Congregationalists – and has found a fourth wife, Eliza, fourteen years his junior. If this is Eliza Mary WOOLFE, they are in the eighth year of their marriage. Margaret seems to have dropped both her first name (Isabella) and skivvying for her father. At 28 years of age she is now a “Professor of Music”.

In 1901 James is 75 and retired but his house in Hampstead rings with the voices of two native South Africans – Marjorie Knaggs, 9, and her sister Isabel, 7. I must seek out their parents.

James Knaggs is the first fellow I have happened upon who married four times. I haven’t found appropriate statistics for Victorian Britain but in 21st century America 3% of men and women have married three or more times.

I will flesh out James and Sophia’s thin pedigree on the Shared Tree when I can. Quite a few of the people mentioned above have IDs already but they are scattered all over the place. Dots to be connected – and a lot of merges to be done.

Found Object 46 · Filey Sands