Greater Love…

…hath no man, that he give his name to a flatworm.

Arthurdendylus somehow made its way from New Zealand the UK, where it was first seen in Northern Ireland about sixty years ago. Harmless in Aotearoa, the creature has no natural enemies here.

The New Zealand flatworm is formidably hardy: it can reproduce without mating and live for a year or more without feeding. The problem, though, is its appetite for earthworms. It hunts them by gliding nightmarishly through their burrows. Lacking teeth or jaws, the flatworm slithers alongside its prey in a clammy embrace and pumps out a lethal, earthworm-dissolving enzyme. Once the earthworm’s innards have been sufficiently liquidised, the flatworm simply wallows in the worm soup and soaks it up through its skin. Under certain conditions, whole populations have been wiped out in this way. Then the knock-on effects begin. Without earthworms to turn over and aerate the soil, it becomes sour and ill-drained…A recent survey discovered that, while the flatworm was detected in only 4 percent of grass fields [in Ireland] in 1991, the proportion had risen to 70 per cent by the end of the decade. The loss of earthworms has meant a corresponding diminution in the numbers of wild birds and mammals, notably moles and hedgehogs.

Bugs Britannica, Peter Marren & Richard Mabey

More about the little monster here.

The eponymous zoologist can be found on the Shared Tree and there is a photographic portrait of the man on his Wikipedia page.

(Bugs Britannica is my breakfast reading now, and for the next couple of months probably.)

Bird 105 · Reed Bunting♂

Emberiza schoeniclus, Carr Naze

A Sense of Belonging

I wrote about John MABBOTT in July 2011. The Looking at Filey blog is still inaccessible at The British Library’s Web Archive so I offer it below, in full, with some comments inserted in square brackets.

The stone has begun a glacial topple from the vertical but its position by the path in the churchyard guarantees that most people passing by will notice John MABBOTT – and perhaps wonder about the “of Filey” beneath the name.

In 1881 the census enumerator caught John with his wife Ruth at 80 Ashton Old Road, Openshaw, his occupation Herbalist & Patent Medicine Dealer. He was 57 years old and Ruth 56. Any children they may have had would have flown the nest.

Ten years later John was in Filey with another wife, Mary Elizabeth, eight years his junior. Checking Free BMD I found that Ruth, born MASON, died about June 1882 in Chorlton Registration District, which includes Openshaw. It would appear that John had no family to keep him in Lancashire because about eighteen months later he married a former Governess, Mary Elizabeth BIRD, in Selby. In 1881 Mary Elizabeth had been staying in Filey with a much older cousin, Mary BIRD, at 14 Hope Street.

Mary BIRD described herself as a ‘proprietress of houses’ at the 1861census and in 1881 as a ‘retired milliner’. Her retirement came to an end a few weeks later and perhaps Mary Elizabeth was a beneficiary of the substantial estate.

In 1882 or ’83, then, there were two bereft and maybe lonely people whose paths unaccountably crossed. Whether it was for love or convenience John and Mary Elizabeth married in Selby and set themselves up in one of cousin Mary’s houses in Filey. They enjoyed almost ten years together. Can we be sure they were happy? I think the “of Filey” is a clue. John seems to have been a wanderer – the 1841 to 1871 censuses might confirm this – but maybe his last years in Filey were his happiest and he asked Mary Elizabeth to let everyone know this by implication on his headstone. It is one thing to feel comfortable in a community though and another to be accepted by it. One wonders if old Filey family tongues wagged disparagingly when they saw the inscription. 

According to the Census John was born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.  I haven’t found any other sort of record to confirm this but I did happen upon a PDF of burials in that town which prompted an intriguing thought or two. (Well done Sleaford Town Council for making this information freely available on the web.) [The URL for this PDF doesn’t work now.]

The first Mabbott on the list is Alma, aged 0 in 1859 when John was 37. Ruko Inkermann MABBOTT died the following year before reaching his (her?) first birthday. Other tiny Mabbott infants died in 1862, 1865 and 1867. And the father of at least some of these babies was almost certainly a John MABBOTT who married Mary POWDREL (or POWDIEL) on 18th October 1855 (Family Search England Marriages 1538 – 1973 Source Film 989862; Free BMD Dec Q Sleaford 7a 835).

It may not have been Filey’s John though. On the 30th May 1866 another John MABBOTT, born 1822, was buried in Sleaford and there had only been one of these Johns in the town at the1861 census.

Thirteen Mabbott burials are recorded in Sleaford in a hundred years. The modal age is 0, the median 3 and the average just 26 years so our John did very well to reach seventy, though I guess the herbal remedies and patent medicines helped.

After her husband’s death Mary Elizabeth moved back south, close to the places where she was born and married. She died in or near Selby on 22nd June 1915 and although she is remembered on the headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard it isn’t clear that she is actually buried there. [A record of her burial in St Oswald’s churchyard was found later.]

I have put John MABBOTT and his wives on the Filey Tree even though it is unlikely any other family groups will ever connect to them. I think it’s what he would have wanted. I have also opened a Wiki Page for him with blank tables for 1841 to 1871 census information that will help fill the gaps in his life journey.

[The “Filey Tree” was a database briefly hosted by FamilySearch but it disappeared in the major revamp of the Shared Tree some years ago. The “Wiki Page” is no longer easily accessible online. I offered some thoughts on the 1851 census last Friday ( John Mabbott’s First Marriage). In 1861, John “Mobbett” is visiting John BOWNS and family at Earls Terrace, Newton in Makerfield, given age 37, married, working as a Smith, birthplace “Sleaford, Lancashire” in transcription (RG09 2898 f99 p29). On census night ’61, Emma “Mabbott, widow”, age 39, “Cotton L Weaver”, birthplace Manchester, is a lodger at 55 Mulberry Street, Hulme, Chorlton (RG09 2898 f99 p29). In 1871, at West View, Openshaw, John heads a household containing second wife Ruth Mason nee GREEN and two of her three surviving children, Amos (16) and Martha (12). As the eldest, Mary at 19 was possibly in service somewhere in Manchester. (There is a Mary Mason of this age in a Manchester Prison but the receiving ledger gives her birthplace as York.)]

Path 133 · Martin’s Ravine

The Killing of Brother George

George TAYLOR was four years younger than his brother Thomas (Sunday’s post). In between, two other boys were born. They both made a start in life but James died aged four, and two years later Francis departed aged seven. George was probably not old enough to understand these losses but he would form an intriguing bond with Thomas.

On the FamilySearch Shared Tree, Thomas and George have one thing in common. They have, at the time of writing this, both been killed off too soon. Thomas at age 9 and George at 18. The early demise of George is puzzling because he was survived by a nine year-old widow and nine children, the first of them born eleven years after his death.

Of course, the death recorded in 1851 is ridiculous but it is plain to see.

One of the sources for George shows he was alive and kicking in 1901, retired from the joinery trade.

On Sunday, I said that in 1851 Thomas was working as a joiner in Scarborough, aged 21 and lodging with William COLLINSON, also a joiner and just nine years older. I may have been wrong to suggest William could not have been Thomas’ master because of this relatively small age gap.

Apprentices could and did lay complaints against their masters and mistresses for maltreatment or neglect of their proper training. They were not necessarily much younger than their masters and could behave much like truculent younger brothers as dutiful sons.

Keith Wrightson, Earthly Necessities: Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain, 1470 – 1750 p.66

Not only did George follow the same trade as Thomas, he did so initially in the same place. On 7 April 1861 Thomas was living at 5 Queen Street, Rusholme, Lancashire with wife Barbara and three young daughters. Seven weeks later, in Barrow on Humber, Lincolnshire, George married Sarah Ann BOLLEN. The marriage register gives his place of residence as Rusholme.

George took his bride to Lancashire and spent the rest of his life in a small area of Manchester – Chorlton on Medlock, Hulme,Moss Side and Rusholme.  Thomas didn’t stray from the Chorlton Registration District either. I haven’t mapped their addresses but I suspect they lived within a mile or two of each other for thirty years or more.

Thomas died in 1896, aged 66. George died in the decade following the 1901 census because in 1911 Sarah Ann is a widow, living at 77 Derby Street, Moss Side with two unmarried daughters and granddaughter, Nellie ODEN.

A search of the Chorlton death register reveals two men in their mid-seventies who might be “our” George. A burial record for one names his brother as “Watts TAYLOR” so the other becomes favourite. Fortunately, there is a probate record for him.

The “real price” of George’s effects at 2017 values is almost £30,000. Sarah Ann’s widowhood lasted nine years and in that time the value of the pound dropped significantly.

It isn’t clear how many of George and Sarah’s children were still alive at the end of the First World War. The Shared Tree has them bringing nine children into the world – and their names and dates seem to be correct. Sarah wasn’t required declare the number of  her children on the 1911 census form but she offers six, of whom three had died. She may have misunderstood the question put to married couples; perhaps six of the nine were still living. However many there were, they had to share about £6,000 at 2017 values.

Beach 111 · Muston Sands

Old normal-like

Thomas Given Life

As a fledgling family historian I found the advice to “kill off your ancestors” somewhat disconcerting. It has to be done, of course, but with caution. Thomas, the first child of Francis TAYLOR and Mary BRAITHWAITE (Friday’s post) was dispatched without good reason.

On the Shared Tree this death registration has been taken from FamilySearch Sources and attached to Thomas, who was christened in October 1829.

The GRO Index shows that this poor child would not celebrate a single birthday.

As it happens, “our” Thomas is found by the 1841 census enumerator with his parents, three brothers and sister Ann in Bridlington. (Ann’s fate was to be married off to the wrong chap on the Shared Tree.)

When the next enumerator called on this Taylor family there are four children at home. Thomas and George have flown the nest; their places taken by Edmund and a second James, born 1842 and 1848. Francis II has died, aged two.

Thomas left home to learn a trade. On census night 1851 he is in Scarborough working as a joiner. A disparate household is headed by William COLLINSON, also a joiner but only 30 years old and so unlikely to have been Thomas’ master. But there is a third joiner in the household, Jonah WARD, 24, plus a visiting tailor from Nafferton and two young girls, Rachel and Ann MARSHEL from Flixton, also visitors.

Thomas was difficult to find in 1861, for several reasons. A Find My Past transcriber has him as “James”, aged 61 and born in “Rudgwick”. And he has crossed the Pennines, married Barbara PARKER in Manchester (1854) and fathered three daughters.

Barbara, a Scot from Kirkcowan, “Wigtownshire”, gives birth to three more daughters and one son, Francis. At each of the four censuses from 1861 to 1891 the family has a different address in Chorlton but are clearly settled and close-knit. In 1891, three unmarried children are with their parents in Boston Street, Hulme (Chorlton Registration District). Mary Jane, 34, is a dressmaker, Agnes, 23, a milliner, and Francis, 25, an agent (unspecified).

Thomas died on 15 June 1896 and Barbara on 19 December the following year, both aged 66. Thomas’ last address is given as Salisbury Road, Urmston and Barbara’s 31 Victoria Road, Heaton Chapel, but they are together in Ardwick Cemetery, Grave Number 3547A.

Better than being bumped off as a kid, eh Thomas?

Path 100 · Above Mile Haven

Near Primrose Valley

A Tale of Two Clements

On 8 October 1909 The Shipley Times and Express carried a court report under attention-grabbing headlines.


When the name of “Clement Mitchell” was called at the Bradford Police Court a week ago there tripped into the dock, to the amazement of all present, quite a coquettish female. “She” glanced saucily and defiantly round the Court, put out her hand to straighten her coiffure, and seemed aggrieved to find “herself” there in such a position. But the make-up was but a disguise – a clever one it is true – used by the man Mitchell in his career of thieving.

Clement lived in Gashouse Row, Bradford, as a married woman separated from her husband, worked in a mill as a woman, and the dresses he made won prizes in carnivals. In women’s disguise he was known to stop men in the street – but, as nobody had ever complained about being propositioned, the court set this behaviour aside and concentrated on the thieving. Quite why Clement had joined the Seaforth Highlanders the previous year, only to desert a few months later, was not considered. The Stipendiary took a previous conviction for a felony into account and sentenced Clement to two months in jail, with hard labour.

I could find the birth of only one Clement Mitchell registered in Bradford in the years 1881 to 1883 – and therefore close to the reported age of the “masquerader” – and he is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard, Filey.


“My Dear Husband” isn’t enough on its own to suggest that this can’t be the cross-dressing Clement. However, the nearby grave of his brother, Herbert Warren MITCHELL, helps to identify his birth family with certainty, born in Pudsey to William Marshall Mitchell and Ada GREENWOOD. Find them on FamilySearch Tree.

In 1885, another Clement Mitchell was born in Bradford and at age 15 he was working in a mill as a worsted spinner. He had three sisters.

Pudsey Clement does not have a wife on FST so I went in search of her.

In 1901 Clement was working as an apprentice joiner in Fulneck, Pudsey. Ten years later, he had married and crossed the Pennines. His occupation was given as “manual instructor”, employed in Littleborough by Lancashire County Council. His wife was Eva Lena, daughter of German immigrants, Frederick BEERMAN and Lena TINKEL.

Clement and Eva married in 1909 and their daughter, Florence, was born in Littleborough, Rochdale Registration District, in the 3rd quarter of 1914.

When the 1939 Register was taken, Clement was still teaching in Littleborough but the woman carrying out unpaid domestic duties in 3 Mount Avenue, was “Ivy M BUTTERWORTH (Mitchell)”.  Ivy was 14 years younger than Clement but seems likely to have been his second wife.

Further investigation showed that Eva Lena had died in Rochdale in 1920, aged 34 in the GRO Index.

About 18 months later Clement married Ivy M DAVIS in Rochdale. Perhaps this was her second marriage too, though she was only 24-years-old.

The question I’m unable to answer is, “Why are these two Pudsey brothers buried in Filey?”

Herbert Warren Mitchell’s wife died in 1942 and was interred at York. Herbert died seven years later just outside that city but was brought to Filey for his eternal rest. Eight years after that, his younger brother joined him in St Oswald’s churchyard.

And the other Clement?

When leaving the dock, Mitchell’s face became wreathed in smiles, and he patted himself on the head.

Yorkshire Evening Post 5 October 1909

Given his entertaining performance in court, it is not a great surprise that this Clement decided to tread the boards after his release from prison. Curiously, his adventures as a Music Hall artiste took him to Burnley, about 15 miles from Littleborough. With another female impersonator, James HARRISON, he entertained in the evenings as one half of “The Two Deans” and found ways of obtaining articles “by other than honest means” during the day. One of his landladies was relieved of some particularly valuable property and Clement was hunted down and found in Manchester where he was performing as Fanny Leslie, soprano. Harrison was also apprehended. Both men received six months with hard labour.

In 1915 he found another partner in crime, one Thomas McKitton. In November, they were both sentenced to six months for failing to register for army service, and also for stealing a travelling bag, overcoat etc, valued at £5, from their digs in Great Ardwick Street.

Meanwhile, handicraft teacher Clement spent the war in Littleborough successfully appealing conscription into the army.

And then –


Fox Hunt

Dr. George Sheeran (Bradford University) appealed to the readers of the Dorset Echo last November for information about the FOX-HAWES sisters who had been the main beneficiaries of Elinor Clarke’s will in 1905. I’m sure he hoped that a photograph of Elinor might be flushed from cover. I doubt anyone in Filey today knows what the wealthiest resident at the turn of the last but one century looked like.

I’d hardly begun my online search when I picked up the scent – and received a major surprise. Not that her sister Eliza had borne six children but that she had married William Fox HAWES at St Oswald’s Filey – and the Reverend William ALDERSON had officiated.

(All of William and Eliza’s children were given Fox as a middle name but most of the official records I found today gave their last name as HAWES – so I have decided not to add the hyphen.)

Circumstantial evidence suggests that William was introduced to Eliza by her brother Robert Dennison CLARKE. Robert was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in 1865. William had been called by Lincoln’s Inn three years earlier. They both took their first degrees at Cambridge and William stayed on to take an M.A., which he received in October 1866. One of his ways of celebrating was to go up to Filey a short time later and, on the 1st of November, marry Eliza.

Eliza gave birth to four sons – William, Robert, Edward and John. Caroline was first born and Elinor fourth to arrive. Eliza died in 1878 aged 39  when John was just a year old. William Senior married Margaret Annie SIMPSON in 1884. She was in her mid- twenties but there are no signs in the Census or GRO of her having any children. Twenty years William’s junior she outlived him by 26; she died aged 78 in 1936 and William in 1910 at 72.

What of the fortunate nieces? Caroline, who does have a the FOX-HAWES name in her marriage registration, was wife to Raoul Hyppolite C. ROBICHON for only nine years. He died aged 43 in Croydon in 1908. I looked for children but didn’t find any. (The information that I was given some years ago that the couple had married in 1865 isn’t correct.) Elinor died a FOX-HAWES aged 82 in 1956 in Bournemouth (Poole Registration District).

The Terence Edward mentioned in the Dorset Echo is a plain HAWES in his birth registration, mother’s maiden surname DRISCOLL.

I wonder if Northcliffe family photographs of Elinor, Eliza and Robert Dennison Junior. The fourth Clarke child, Mary Anne, did not survive infancy. There is a Chorlton death registration for a 3-year-old in March 1844 which fits reasonably well with a June Quarter birth in 1841 in the same place. The wee mite didn’t make it to Strawberry Cottage in 1851.


The Elinor Clarke memorial window in St Oswald’s, Filey; photo courtesy Ray Kilsby

Update 19 August

Elinor’s window, all of it, snapped this morning.