Too Many Cooks

On the 22nd October 1915, the Scarborough Mercury reported that Percy COOK, confectioner of West Avenue, Filey,  had been fined 10 shillings at the Police Court for “not having had lights properly shaded”. (I guess the authorities were afraid of Zeppelin raids and needed to set an example.)

Life was sweets for Percy and his occupation should have earned him the respect of the town’s children. It seems to have done the opposite. A few years ago Martin Douglas told me of a nasty rhyme that urchins would hurl at Percy. (Martin heard it from his mother.) They would enter his shop, chant the verse and make a quick exit, pursued by Percy.

Percy Cook said come and have a look

At my old chocolate shop,

The scales are rusty,

The chocolates are fusty,

And you’ve gone off yer nut.

(Not the best advertisement for British education if the last line referred to Percy’s mental state.)

Percy died in 1944, almost twenty years after his wife Mary Jane née MOODY. The couple married late, aged 33 and 40 respectively, and did not have little angels of their own.


In loving memory of MARY, beloved wife of PERCY COOK, entered into rest Sep. 27th 1925, aged 57.

Go thou improve the present hour,

Be thankful for the past,

And let thy future movement tend

To calm and soothe the last.

Also of the above PERCY COOK, died June 10th 1944, aged 71.

On Filey Genealogy & Connections Percy stands alone. He was one of at least eight children born to John Frederick Cook, a cashier and bookkeeper, and Catherine JOHNSON. At the 1911 Census, remarkably, six of the siblings were living together at 1 St Paul’s Road in Bradford. All were unmarried. Ten years earlier, widowed Catherine ruled a roost of seven children, one of them Percy, at Cliff Bridge Place, Scarborough. He was the only one to fly the nest during the next decade.

So, why too many Cooks, given this generation’s unwillingness to submit to the genetic imperative? Well, an hour or two of sleuthing, brings in 15 MOODYs, who connect with several Filey fishing families (BAYES, COWLING, SCALES). FG &C has these folk but to check them all out on FamilySearch Tree and add the West Riding COOKs is a daunting task.

I noticed in passing one source that elaborated on the Bradford address, labeling it “Manningham Hall”. This seemed rather grand and I wondered if our humble confectioner had been something of a black sheep. In 1901 his sister Evelin (various spellings) was pursuing the same trade but ten years later told the census enumerator that she was a lodging house keeper.  A younger brother headed the St Paul’s household in 1911 and the Find My Past transcription gives his occupation as a “Trains Merchant”. Inspection of the page image reveals he dealt in pianos, as did brother Vernon William Alexander. A noble occupation, romantic even, but the world was changing and in 1939 Sydney had to file for bankruptcy.


I looked again for a foothold on FamilySearch Tree and found Mary Jane MOODY Cook’s mother, Ann KNAGGS. Someone to build on…another day, perhaps.

A few words about Today’s Image. The concrete jumble below Flat Cliffs/Primrose Valley Holiday Park is the remains of a short promenade that was, I think, still functional in the 1950s. I have seen an old postcard showing an ice cream van parked on it. I haven’t discovered the purpose of the concrete “rings” yet. Someone must know.

Blowman v. Wiseman

Walter BLOWMAN married Alice MOODY in the summer of 1908 and a year later summoned his mother-in-law to court. On the 9th July, a week after their appearance, The Scarborough Mercury reported:-

The story of a family squabble was unfold­ed at the Policecourt on Friday, when Walter Blowman, labourer, Church-hill, Filey, summoned his mother-in-law, Sarah Moody, for doing damage to a door lock, to the ex­tent of 2s. by breaking it open. He also sum­moned her for assaulting him, and John Moody, his father-in-law, he summoned for a like offence. Fines and costs amounting to 17s. 6d. were imposed, and a cross summons against Blowman by Sarah Moody for assault was dismissed. The magistrates on the Bench were: Mr. A. T. Clay (presiding), Councillor Maley, Mr. A. V. Machin, and the Hon. N. de Y. Bateson.

This unseemly episode didn’t ruin his marriage. He went on to have at least seven children with Alice and died at a ripe old age in 1966. (Sadly he didn’t hang on long enough to see England win the World Cup.)

Sarah Elizabeth Moody, nee WISEMAN, entered court as a 44 year old mother of ten children, seven of them girls. In checking on the families in Filey Genealogy & Connections and FamilySearch Tree ­it seems the Moodys and Blowmans may have daughtered out. Sarah Elizabeth’s father, Robert, has two IDs on FST one for each of his daughters by second wife Sarah BAYES (MGZ9-7KV & LD49-4Z6]. He had three children with his first wife, Ann WILLIS, and some of their descendants may still be living in Filey.

Robert also accepted as his own the son born to Sarah BAYES and her first husband William BROWN. The available records suggest that the start of Robert and Sarah’s relationship was perhaps unconventional. I may be misinterpreting but it appears that Robert’s first wife died in 1850 but he describes himself at the 1851 Census as “married”. With him are his daughters Susannah and Catherine and natural son William WISEMAN, (PRO Ref HO107 2368 f34 p33). Also in the household is Housekeeper Sarah BROWN, 24, her status “married” and described as a “Labourer’s wife”. The deaths of three William BROWNs would be registered in Scarborough in the next two years and Robert and Sarah married in 1854. I haven’t traced William Senior and Junior in 1851 but ten years later the WISEMAN household consisted of Robert, Sarah, young William BROWN (“son in law”) and Robert’s eight year old niece Fanny SCALES, (PRO Ref RG09 3615 f25 p3). (William WISEMAN was elsewhere on census night 1861, perhaps away fishing; he drowned in the Storm of 1880.) The next four censuses would find William BROWN at home with his parents, still single in 1901 and working as a Carter.

You will find young William on FST with the ID LKCF-9ZH. He is shown as having married Elizabeth HEWITT with whom he had a son, John Charles BROWN, born 24th August 1873 in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada.

There are quite a few references in the local Filey papers to a W. Brown who, over a number of years, gained a reputation as a breeder of racing pigeons. This may have been our bachelor boy.

A month after The Filey Mercury reported on the Blowman/Wiseman squabble it informed its readers:-

Apropos of the Filey Homing Society one of its most successful  competitors has been Mr. W. Brown, and in view of this, it is interesting to  read  what a representative of “The Homing Pigeon,” who has inspected his lofts, has to say about them. He begins “Having heard of the prowess in the pigeon racing world of Mr. W. Brown,  Upcliffe Lofts, Filey, I took the opportunity to give the fancier  a  call. . . . . The inmates of the lofts numbered ten pairs of old birds, five of which have flown Rennes and one Dol, and some of the others the intermediate stages. The youngsters numbered twenty in all, all flown Banbury and Didcott, 184 miles. The stock really emanates from the loft of the late Mr. A. March (Sunderland) blended with a pair from Mr. King, Boston. .  .  . “Mr. Brown,” he continues, “is a member of the Filey Homing Society, and the Hull and East Riding Homing, Society, and if I may append the results of the season just finished, it will give fanciers a slight idea of the quality housed at Upcliffe. In the  Filey Society’s old bird races Mr Brown wins: 1st Cottingham, 3rd Gainsborough, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Market Harborough; 1st and 3rd Bournemouth. Young birds: 1st Cottingham, 1st Newark, 2nd and 3rd Nottingham, 1st Market Harborough, 1st, 2nd and 4th  Banbury; 1st, 3rd and 4th, Didcot;  also four firsts, two seconds, and four third prizes in the Hull and East Riding Homing Society, which is splendid testimony to the quality of Mr. Brown’s birds.”

A final curiosity: Walter BLOWMAN had brought his mother-in law to a court where Councillor Nicholas MALEY was officiating. Nicholas is the only MALEY in Filey Genealogy & Connections and was a notable citizen of the town. Two of Walter’s children with Alice, Walter Jnr (1911) and Alice Muriel (1914) were born at home in Maley’s Yard.


Today’s Image (previous post) shows the start/finish marker of two National Trails – The Cleveland Way and the Wolds Way. If you fancy a stroll along the cliffs that will put you (almost) in the picture go here. The fifth of the six Google Path Views points you in the right direction.