A Brickmaker’s Family

William RAWSON was born in South Collingham, Nottinghamshire towards the end of 1837, to parents John and Elizabeth née BODY.

East Nottinghamshire around Newark is at the edge of the Rawson heartland, stretching north through Derbyshire into south Yorkshire and then taking a leap south-westwards to Manchester.

William had two brothers and two sisters (at least) but he is the only one that appears to have left his home patch to seek a fortune. I don’t suppose anyone knows why he chose Filey and having started out as an agricultural labourer his prospects were not great. But he was a robust and fine-looking fellow and in 1866 he married Elizabeth Ann MAULSON, a Filey woman about ten years his junior. In 1871 they were living on Ravine Terrace with two children, John Thomas, 3, and Elizabeth, 2. I suspect it is their firstborn pictured below.

Photographer unknown, no date, courtesy of Marilyn Briggs.

After John Thomas and Elizabeth, there was a deluge of ten more children. The births of Robert Hornby and Mary Eliza were registered in Stockton, County Durham, but all bar one of the others first saw light in Filey. (William junior, number 7, was born in Riccall.)

William senior seems to have had a career change in Durham. In 1881 he told the enumerator he was a bricklayer’s labourer. Ten years later he was a brickmaker, but maybe not a successful one because in 1901 he gave “general labourer” as his occupation. 

The Shared Tree has married six of the children but two more had exchanged vows in my RootsMagic database.

You may have noticed that the firstborn son John Thomas appears twice in the Shared Tree. In his 1888 death registration, he is just John. A labourer, he died at Cayton at the end of May and was buried in St Oswald’s churchyard on the third of June. He doesn’t have a marked grave. He had married Ann MAINPRIZE in Bridlington less than five months earlier and she would register John’s death and the birth of their son George in the June quarter of 1888. (You should check this information – and every other fact in the lists above.)

John the First made way for William and Elizabeth Ann’s last child, John the Second, who was tragically killed in a fall (see An Accidental Death). His memorial stone in the churchyard has toppled and broken in half. The hidden part of the inscription remembers his parents.

Marilyn also kindly donated this photo to Looking at Filey but she was not certain that it shows the Rawsons in later years. If the youngest boy here is John the Second, he looks to be about five years old, dating the photograph to around 1895.  That year, Robert Hornby was 24, William 16 and Charles 13.

I didn’t have information about William junior’s death. He was easy to trace. He married Angelina SPAVIN in 1902, five years after older brother Robert had married Angelina’s sister Hannah. In 1911 William had three children and was working as a blast furnace labourer in Loftus. In 1939 he was a “road worker” living in Scalby with Angelina and their daughter Minnie, 34. William’s birth date is given as 1 November 1880 in The Register but his birth was recorded in the December Quarter of the previous year. His death was registered in the September Quarter of 1958, aged 78.

I think it is the brickmaker’s family.

An Accidental Death

In A Dying Fall, I offered a link to an article about this sad event, available on the British Library’s Web Archive. Subsequently, the old LaF was taken down and has yet to be restored, so I am reposting The Fall of John Rawson below.

March 16 2012

On Thursday 20th May 1909 John RAWSON, a nineteen-year-old plumber in the employ of Councillor William GIBSON, painter and house agent, fell from a second-floor window ledge to the base of the stone steps that led up to the front door of 3 Belle Vue, Filey.

The Scarborough Mercury report the following day mentions cellar kitchens and gardens in portraying the location of the accident. Only one “house” comes close to fitting the description.  What was once 2 and 3 Belle Vue are now, I think, Apartments 1 to 10 Belle Vue Court. The private gardens are now public space and the two flights of stone steps that led up to first floor entrances have been removed. A single flight of concrete steps now leads down to the communal entrance of the apartments at cellar level. Number 1 Belle Vue is now, and always has been, the Hotel, built in the 1860s.

Ordnance Survey map, c. 1920, out of copyright

John was the youngest of twelve children born to William RAWSON and Elizabeth Ann MAULSON. He was described in the newspaper as steady, reliable, and very popular. Councillor GIBSON said he was a good worker and a willing lad “who would do anything for anyone”. John was a favourite of Hull doctor’s wife Mrs CROKE and on the fateful Thursday, she asked for him to call at No.3 Belle Vue. One of the tasks she gave him was to clean the windows. On an earlier occasion, GIBSON considered this a job for two men, which begs a question the deputy coroner failed to ask.

The Deputy Coroner said that there was no doubt deceased had received the injuries through


There seemed to be no question that anyone was to blame, or that there had been negligence. It was unfortunately one of those cases where deceased had not looked after himself sufficiently, and had lost his hold, or something of that kind, and fallen. It was usual, no doubt, to clean all the windows of those high houses from the sills.

The Foreman (Mr. Nellist): It seems a customary thing for them.

The Deputy Coroner: It is a thing which is a dangerous practice, but no doubt in many cases it has to be done in that manner.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death,” and attached no blame to anyone.

John Smith GOFTON, resident at 2 Belle Vue, heard the thud of John’s body hitting the ground and rushed out to give assistance. The young man was unconscious, “bleeding badly at the ear”. Medical assistance was sought and Dr C. B. SIMPSON was at the scene within minutes. He told the Inquest that John suffered four fractures of the skull and a fractured right arm. He was taken the short distance to the house of his sister Rose Annie Webb at 2 Rutland Terrace. He didn’t regain consciousness but lingered for almost five days, dying in the early hours of Tuesday 25th May.

There were no bad words spoken about John to journalists or at the Inquest but perhaps the most touching reference to his character comes to us 103 years later by chance. Christine Hayes, who supplied the Coronation Memories, has been collecting Filey postcards for about twenty years. She buys some cards on eBay but loves the postcard fairs where one can read the backs.

This charming viewpoint, now lost amongst trees, would have been a happy discovery but the sad message on the back of the card made it an immediately intriguing historical document. The postmark shows it was posted in Filey on the morning of John’s death, perhaps only an hour or so after ‘WGE’ learned of his passing.

We can only guess the age and sex of the writer but there is a real poignancy in “he is my last intimate friend”. I have spent some time looking for Nora Kirkaldie, assuming that she would be of similar age to WGE. I couldn’t find her in the 1881 Census but there were a few boys or young men who might have become her father. The heartland for Kirkaldies back then appears to be Kent, around Deal particularly, and towards the end of 1920, a Norah E. KIRKALDIE married Arthur J. GOLDER in Eastry Registration District.

WGE states that John fell “of 3 Belle Vue top window”, which is at odds with the newspaper account. Compare the map with this photo, taken today.

You can clearly see that the two windows with rounded arches must once have been the front doors of Nos. 2 and 3. To fall twenty feet onto the stone steps, John was most likely attempting to clean the single window just above the right-hand door, or perhaps the side window of the bay next to it. All the sills of red brick and tile are very narrow and slope down from the windows – accidents waiting to happen.

Because John didn’t regain consciousness after his skull cracked on the stones there’s no point wondering about who he thought of last. It is clear though, that a lot of people thought about him, during his life and after it, and kindly.

Update 18 Mar 2012

A LaF wiki Page has been created for John which has family and census information plus newspaper accounts of the accident and the Inquest into his death.

Nora Kirkaldie. Christine discovered that Nora was just fifteen years old in 1909. At the 1901 census, she is living with her parents and two older brothers at the Coastguard Station at Ringwould, Kent, about halfway between Deal and Dover. Her father, William KIRKALDIE, aged 42 and born in Deal, was a Commissioned Boatman with the Coastguard. (Written above the several Boatmen entries in a different hand, probably that of a statistical clerk, is “Navy Men”.) William died in the summer of 1908 aged 49 (Free BMD Medway Sep Q  2a 365) which goes some way to explaining why, the following year, Nora is living with a maiden aunt, Ellen Louisa KIRKALDIE, at 556 Garratt Lane, Lower Tooting. She is still there in 1911, a 17-year-old dressmaker.

This doesn’t help much with the sender of the postcard but Christine’s detective work makes it seem more likely that WGE was another teenage girl in 1909, perhaps a little older than Nora and close to John in age as well as affection. The handwriting on the postcard and the “form of words” seem to me, though, to belong to an older woman. I don’t suppose we will find out either way – but there’s always hope on the Internet.

John Harold was born in Filey, where his father kept The Grapes Hotel in Queen Street. John senior and his wife Rachel SPINK were from the Driffield area. John Harold doesn’t have a place on the FamilySearch Shared Tree yet and in the limited time I can give to searching I haven’t been able to find an ancestor to whom he can be linked with confidence. The following information should be checked:- John Harold married Elsie Eva CRAVEN in Bridlington in 1926. In September 1939 the couple was living in Skates Lane, Sutton on the Forest. The Register gives John Harold’s occupation as  “Company Secretary”. A cursory search of birth registers didn’t reveal any children. John Harold’s death was registered in Northallerton in 1981 and Elsie’s four years later in Central Cleveland.

William WARDHAUGH is one of many “singletons” in Filey Genealogy & Connections but probably unique in having a grand headstone.

In loving memory of WILLIAM WARDHAUGH, who died at Filey, May 21st 1897, aged 58 years.

The inscription seems to infer that he was a stranger, passing through – but who paid for the stone? I haven’t been able to find this William. I looked at several “possibles” but the likeliest lads outlived our man.

Path 169 · Nuns Walk

A Dying Fall

On Thursday 20th May 1909, John RAWSON, 19, fell from an upper floor of No. 3 Belle Vue Street, Filey.


He was carried, grievously injured, to his sister’s house in Rutland Terrace, where he lay unconscious until dying in the early morning of the following Tuesday.

I wrote about the accident on Looking at Filey. (There is a bitter-sweet, romantic coda to the tragedy.)

Six years ago I underestimated the distance the young man fell. I now think he travelled between the two red circles in the photo above.

John’s family had a limited presence on FamilySearch Tree and the pedigree is also rather modest on Filey Genealogy & Connections.

The Crimlisks recorded in their 1977 Survey of the churchyard that G576 was a “large fallen stone, now raised”. It has fallen again, face down. The hidden inscription reads:-

In Loving Memory of JOHN, the beloved son of W. & E. RAWSON,

who died from the effects of a fall, May 25th 1909, aged 19 years.

‘Be ye also ready for in such an hour

As ye think not the son of man cometh’

Also of the above WILLIAM RAWSON, died January 14th 1912, aged 74 years

‘The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away

Blessed be the name of the Lord’

Also ELIZABETH ANN wife of the above, died February 15th 1927, aged 76 years

‘We cannot Lord the purpose see

But all is well that live by Thee’

I don’t have a photograph of John but here are his parents with one of his younger siblings.

William Rawson and Elizabeth Ann Rawson nee MaulsonV2
Photographer unknown, no date, courtesy Marilyn Briggs