Geoffrey, Lost at Sea

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BradleyG2There are 13 people born BRADLEY in Filey Genealogy & Connections but none are Samuel, Jack or Geoffrey. The family remembered in Filey churchyard is not yet represented on the FamilySearch Tree. Geoffrey’s name does, however, appear on the War Memorial in Murray Street – and on the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill in London.

The official record and the family headstone say he died on the 11th July but he lived for about two hours of the twelfth day. Two torpedoes from U-582 struck the SS Port Hunter at 01.47 hours, west-southwest of Madeira. Explosions ripped the vessel apart and she sank in a couple of minutes. Three men who were sleeping on deck were blown into the sea and rescued a few hours later. Sixty-eight crew members, 14 gunners and five passengers were lost “presumed drowned”. (Some would have been killed in the explosions.)

Geoffrey was an apprentice in the Merchant Navy, 17 years old. The master of Port Hunter was John Bentham BRADLEY. I have spent some time gathering Geoffrey’s forebears but, so far, haven’t discovered that they are related.

Geoffrey’s birth was registered in Scarborough but his father was a Lincolnshire lad. His mother, Hannah, was a SMITH and has so far evaded capture. She was Samuel’s second wife. He first married Lusianna ROBINSON in Boston, Lincolnshire, in 1888. I found eight children in Boston born to a Bradley/Robinson couple in the GRO Online Index but the 1911 transcription on Find My Past states they had 7 children in 23 years of marriage, one of whom had died.

Lusianna (various spellings) died in late 1917, aged 50. Samuel married Hannah Elizabeth SMITH in the summer of 1919, in Boston. Jack was born two years later and Geoffrey in the last quarter of 1925.

I have some information for about thirty of Geoffrey’s ancestors. FamilySearch has records for most of them but I have found just three on the World Tree thus far. It’s a start.

Webb Log

Thomas WEBB was born in 1838, in Sutton St James, Lincolnshire, about 15 miles from the nearest port, King’s Lynn. In his early 60s, he appeared in a Scarborough Newspaper advertisement as an “old mariner” extolling the virtues of Bile Beans. “Indigestion, Sleeplessness and Influenza After Effects Cured.” For most of his working life, the various censuses attest, he was a labourer, brazier, or tinner.

In 1871, during a labouring phase, he was lodging with Robert SAYERS, a sailor, in Queen Street. Perhaps that’s where he got the idea from, though I think he may have tried line fishing for a while and not taken to it.

Thomas married Amanda LANE when he was 20. She bore him two children, then died at 19 a month or so before her infant son Thomas.

One wonders if grief pushed Thomas away from Sutton St James, but why move to Filey? There is a tantalising possibility that he was looked after kindly as a child by a young servant called Mary STORK, at a nearby farm. The 1841 census only tells us she was not a native of Lincolnshire but there is the remotest of chances that she was from the Yorkshire coast. Whatever, on 4 November 1866 Thomas married Mary Ann STORK, ten years his junior, at St Oswald’s in Filey. They would have seven children, but only one reached adulthood.

Thomas made several appearances in the local newspapers. In May 1887:-

At the Bridlington police court on Saturday, Thomas Webb, tinner, Filey, was charged with being found in possession of game unlawfully obtained on the 29th ultimo. Sergeant Nicholson said that whilst on duty near Primrose Valley, at 5 am, he heard two shots and shortly after saw defendant with a gun and something bulky in his pockets. Witness searched him and found two rabbits in his possession. He was fined £1 and 11s. costs.

Six years earlier, when he was 43 years old:-

At the Bridlington police-court on Saturday, Thomas Webb, a bill poster, of Filey, was charged with being drunk on licensed premises at Filey, on the 28th ult. [May]. Sergeant Cooper stated that at 10-45 p.m. on the day in question he was passing the Grapes Inn, and hearing shouting in the house he entered, and found defendant standing in the doorway of one of the side rooms, shouting to some men who were in the room. Witness had seen him before he went into the house, and he was then very drunk.—Defendant was fined 10s., including costs.

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On a more positive note, following his brief local notoriety as an ancient mariner cured of biliousness, the Local Board Clerk, Mr W. B. GOFTON, told a meeting that –

only one application had been received for the position of Town Crier, that being Mr Thomas Webb, who offered the sum of £1 7s 6d (£111 at 2009 values), which was a similar amount paid by the previous holder of the position.

The offer was accepted and Mr Webb appointed, thus following in the footsteps of his former father in law, Robert STORK.

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This undated newspaper image of Lifeboat Day, courtesy of Martin Douglas, shows the Bellman on the left. The fashions worn by girls and ladies suggest it may be Thomas. (I can’t identify the lifeboat. One of the Hollons, I guess.)

For several years Thomas gave work to the young John RAWSON before the lad went to work for Councillor GIBSON, presumably because he was “family”.  Thomas’ second wife, Mary Ann STORK, had died in 1890 and two years later he married Mary Prue née MAULSON, the older sister of poor John’s mother, Elizabeth Ann (pictured, last Friday’s post).  And Thomas’ only surviving child, Tom, married Elizabeth Ann’s daughter, Rose Annie. It was to her house that the unconscious John was taken on that awful day.

Somehow, Thomas senior navigated his way through countless reefs and shoals and died aged 76 in November 1914. This morning he had a foothold on FamilySearch Tree. I have given him a couple of wives and some children and hope to complete his families over the next few days.

There is one further curious element to establish. Our fake old salt seems to have had only one sibling, a brother called John or John Parker. He also appears to have crossed the Humber and settled in East Yorkshire, his death being registered in Driffield in 1905. When he was 51 he married Mary Ann Kirby, 56, in Langtoft but I don’t know yet if this was the first matrimonial adventure for either or both of them.

Thomas the Bellman on FST. (My thanks to Marilyn Briggs for information about Thomas’ first marriage.)

Person Unknown · 1

I was an only child and although my parents had seven siblings between them none had been greatly exercised by the genetic imperative. The annual ritual rummage through a box of family photographs fascinated me with its cast of hundreds. Who were all these people? Where were they? Many, perhaps most, would still have been alive in the 1950s, but few ever appeared at our door.

Looking through the photographs today, I realize that most of the faces are of total strangers. No amount of facility with genealogical records is going to help me to identify them. (No names on the back!) Distant memories are all I have to go on. On second thoughts,  a growing familiarity with my “tree”, could focus the memories and sharpen intuition.

Take this venerable chap, for instance.

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I do remember clearly that my parents couldn’t put names to a fair proportion of faces and I think this fellow was one of them. Their knowledge of their grandparents was sketchy, and of great-grandparents almost non-existent.

It doesn’t help that my maternal and paternal sides’ photos are mixed together. (They were always thus.)  This image is on postcard stock so, off the cuff, I’m going to date it to 1890. The subject is probably wearing his best clothes but they are sensible rather than fashionable. He is fresh-faced but his hands have done much work. A countryman. The kind of person we all want to have in our pedigree – an Ag Lab.

So, I’m looking for a parental great grandfather aged between 60 and 70 in 1890, who lived in a village. Of the eight candidates, I have the names of just five. One is Norwegian, totally lost in the mists, one a Channel Islander, ditto. Two were city dwellers, and one got my 2x great-grandmother pregnant but did not marry her. Last man sitting for this photograph is Thomas Andrews GOODING (1819-1897). Born in Binbrook, worked the land around Binbrook, died in Binbrook. He married late, aged 41, but had eleven children with Eliza HATCLIFFE.

There isn’t much chance of this hunch ever being confirmed – unless a distant cousin reads this, has the same photo in their family album and kindly gets in touch.