After the Workhouse

I returned to the John Stork Problem this morning. It isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon.

I did some more delving and found a snippet of pedigree that gave the cuckoo in the Filey Stork nest the correct parents – Henry and Hannah NETTLETON – but hasn’t yet married John to Hannah STEEL.

I also found “Right John” (after the system had initially denied his existence and I’d created an ID for him). This seems to do a good job of the children he had with Sarah HARPER but also gives him an earlier wife called Sarah TWINHAM. She has borne three children after her death but there’s another reason for her being “iffy”. I think she married a Thomas PICKERSGILL in York.

John’s true first wife, Sarah HARPER, gave birth to eight children before dying in 1864 aged just 37. FamilySearch Tree gives her mother’s name as “Mrs Margaret Harper”. In looking to confirm this, I turned up several christening records of Sarah and siblings being born to Robert Harper and Rebecca.

Five Harper children were born in Bridlington between 1818 and 1830 but I have only been able to find two of them in the 1841 census. Sarah, 15, and her younger brother Richard, 12, are in the Bridlington Workhouse. They are not listed together in the enumerator’s book, but their ages fit very well with their christening dates. What became of the parents and other children?

Sarah may have been resourceful, or perhaps life dealt her some better cards in her later teenage years. She met agricultural labourer John Stork and married him in 1849 when she was 23 years old. At the 1851 census, they are recorded in High Street, Bridlington, with their first child, Emily.

Their youngest child, Sarah, was only two years old when mother Sarah died. John married again the next year. Ann CHAPMAN may have been a good stepmother, and in 1871 she was also caring for Fanny CHAPMAN, a nurse child. This may have been the daughter of a brother because a birth registration for Fanny gives the infant’s mother’s maiden name as WATKINSON.

John and Sarah Harper’s seventh child, Rebecca (perhaps named after her grandmother), married John MOORE, a fisherman who later worked as a brickmaker’s labourer.

They had eleven children, of whom nine reached adulthood. John and Rebecca are remembered on a handsome stone in St Oswald’s churchyard. It stands quite close to the grave of Rebecca’s Uncle Robert Stork. Her father, “Right John”, has a Filey burial record but no known grave.


A Companion for Today’s Robin


I snapped this chaffinch in Crescent Gardens this morning and didn’t notice its warty feet until I processed the photo. It seems finches of several species are prone to Fringilla papillomavirus (FPV). The condition is also called papillomatosis or, colloquially, fur foot or bumblefoot. The “warts” don’t seem to affect the general health of the birds but may accumulate to such a degree that perching becomes problematic – and feet are sometimes lost.


I collected some more information about the Moores of Cowden today and discovered why William and Catherine had called their house in Filey ‘Hilston’.

In the 1939 Register their address is given as 9 Belle Vue Crescent and, until it may be proven otherwise, I’ll assume that this is ‘Hilston’. People who followed Catherine into the house after 1955 had no emotional ties to the name and, presumably, removed any signs of it.


William’s father farmed his fifteen Cowden acres for many years and then moved the family six miles or so down the coast to Hilston. The address on the 1891 census return offers ‘Primrose Hill’ but I can’t find a map of large enough scale to identify the farm. Below is a Google Earth satellite view, with a smidgen of boulder clay cliff and beach top right. (The sea may have been half a mile further from the hamlet, maybe more, in the 19th century.)


The household consisted of Richard and Annie, sons James, Henry and Charles, daughter Lavinia and two grandchildren, Georgina, 9, and Earnest, 1. ( I haven’t yet found who the parents of the little ones are.)

Hilston is about 35 miles south of Filey. Perhaps William and Catherine visited a few times and liked it well enough to encourage daily recollections of the place and its people.

Another name “rang a bell” today, while I was looking at another Filey MOORE family. John Moore, seven years older than William but not related to him by blood, was a fisherman and Kath has a note on him in Filey Genealogy & Connections ­– “1881, crewman on the William Clowes.” After Johnny OXTOBY brought God and Jesus Christ to Filey the sober fishermen gave many of their boats names with religious connotations. William Clowes was a 6o-foot yawl built in Whitby in 1860. She was bought in 1880/81 by Samuel TOWSE, grocer, and William FREEMAN, fisherman, both of Filey, re-registered in Scarborough as SH104 and broken up in 1900 or 1905. (Captain Syd is ambivalent about the date.)

Dave Price offers a short biography of the evangelist and missionary William Clowes who connects these two unrelated Moore families.