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.

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A Companion for Today’s Robin

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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.

Another Man’s Wife

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I initially warmed to the Reverend William when I discovered he’d been baptised at Mappleton Church, a mile or so north of his birthplace in Cowden. My parents had a caravan (of sorts) on the Mill Field at Mappleton and, when on holiday there, I walked past the church several times a day on the way to and from the beach. It seems neat that he should end his days in Filey, as I am likely to do.

I also learned that his grandfather had been one of William CLOWES’ first converts in my hometown, Hull in the 1820s. I attended the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Stoneferry as a child and, as a young man, went up to Mow Cop one wild, windy night after I learned of the early Ranters’ Meetings there.

I was surprised to find William had married three times – and taken aback when I looked for him on FamilySearch Tree and saw him hitched to a fourth woman, Elizabeth Ann ALSTON.

William’s birth family seemed to be all present and correct and at the time of the 1901 census, he was living only eight miles away from Elizabeth Ann and the cotton spinning William Moore.

“Our” William was in Wigan, mourning the death of his first wife Annie Elizabeth COWAN about six months earlier.  The other William and Elizabeth Ann were childless in Chorley.

Here is a newspaper report of the wedding of William and Annie Elizabeth just five years earlier.

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Ten years later the Reverend was staying with his younger brother, James, in Hull. With him were second wife Margaret FISHER and their surviving child, William Henry, aged three. Margaret died about 18 months later, in West Derby – where William married Catherine NICHOLSON in the second quarter of 1916. They moved to Filey in 1919 and each died aged 78, William in 1944 and Catherine in 1955. Their last home, “Hilston”, was in Belle Vue Crescent.

There are photographs of William and Catherine, and more information, here.

A Marriage Made in Cyberspace

William Smithson CORTIS practiced medicine in Filey for over ten years. In that time his wife, Mary Jane née GREEN, gave birth to five children.  Two of three sons survived into adulthood and both qualified as doctors. The elder, William Richard,  blazed an adventurous trail to Australia and father, stepmother, brother, and two sisters duly followed him there. You may find a fourth son recorded in a British Census but “Albert” is a mistranscription of Herbert who, when not treating people for ailments, was thrilling those who turned up at cycle racing tracks in the early 1880s. Herbert Liddell CORTIS became widely recognized as the greatest cyclist of his generation and was still being remembered as such forty years after his death.

William Richard had a longer life, dying at 61 in Perth, Western Australia, at the beginning of 1909. He packed a great deal into his span – a shipwreck, fighting in a war, owning racehorses, becoming an MP, giving evidence in murder trials and being charged with an unlawful killing himself. He married three times and none of his brides were Anne Barnby HILL.

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Link to pedigree

Blame “the system”!   Humans make mistakes like this too, of course. When I happened upon this marriage a couple of days ago I was quite prepared to accept it. The Australia connection fooled me initially but I went back to old notes and recently donated information and began to find more credible pieces of the Cortis Family jigsaw.

Titanic was not the first White Star Line vessel to hit an iceberg. In 1864 one of the company’s first steam-powered sailing ships, Royal Standard, got into a scrape in the South Atlantic. The people onboard lived to tell the tale, the ship making her way to Rio de Janeiro for repairs and then returning to Liverpool, her home port. The ship’s luck ran out in October 1869 when she was wrecked on the coast of Brazil. William Richard Cortis, on his way to Australia, was among the survivors.

William returned home rather than continue his journey to the antipodes and within a year had married Mary Julia MOORE in Camberwell. The newlyweds almost immediately sailed for the Australian Colonies but Mary Julia soon died in Tambaroora of tuberculosis, aged 23.

On 15th January 1873, William married Florence FYANS, daughter of the late Captain FYANS (4th King’s Own Regiment and formerly Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Western District, Victoria), at Christ Church, St Kilda, Melbourne. By the time William is reckoned to have married Anne Barnby Hill, Florence had borne one son and was pregnant with another. They would go on to have nine children together – and then divorce about 1905.

I haven’t found any evidence that William took up with a younger woman while still married to Florence but, as he approached sixty, Edith (family name not yet found) became the doctor’s third wife. On the 5th October 1908, The West Australian was reporting her funeral “in the Anglican portion of the Karrakatta Cemetery”. The screen image of the death notice is too heavily printed to be sure but, aged 23 or 28, Edith died well before her time.

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(Family Notice via Trove.)

Within three months, William Richard Cortis was also dead. On the 6th January 1909, The Geraldton Express reflected on “A Varied Career”.

Dr. William Richard Cortis died suddenly yesterday at the W. A. Club. He was over 60 years of age, and during his career had been a prominent surgeon, legislator, soldier, and magistrate. During the past six or eight months he acted as Resident Medical Officer at Kookynie. He came to the city about a month ago, having obtained leave. For two or three years he held the position of Resident Magistrate and Medical Officer at Derby. The post-mortem examination revealed the fact that the cause of death was angina pecoris (sic), and although the deceased had taken a quantity of morphia to alleviate the pain, this had nothing whatever to do with his end. Deceased was a man of fine physique, but during the last year he was overtaken by a trouble which no doubt undermined his health, and this was accelerated by the recent death of his wife, which preyed on his mind. Last year, while Resident Magistrate and Medical Officer at Derby, he was called upon to stand his trial on three separate occasions for the alleged unlawful killing of a man named Gerald Ascione.

William Richard’s short-term in Government is officially recognized here.

My thanks to Elizabeth Kennard (USA) and Peter Donkin (Australia) for kindly offering information on the Cortis Family that might otherwise have remained hidden from me. I have several more leads to follow and hope soon to make the necessary corrections to the pedigree on FamilySearch. I won’t be at all surprised to discover that the William who married Anne Barnby HILL and William Richard are cousins with a recent common ancestor just three generations back in north Lincolnshire. CORTIS isn’t a common name.

 

John Robert Bell

John was born in Scarborough in 1893 and was living with his family at 12 St John’s Avenue in 1901. Ten years later the family home was Highfield Cottage, Lebberston Cliff (where the Blue Dolphin Holiday Park is now) but John, 17, seems to have moved away from the parish.

In the summer of 1918, he was with the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment in the Somme region of France, in Rawlinson’s  Fourth Army. I don’t know for sure how he came to be wounded but think he may have been with Braithwaite’s IX Corps fighting for the village of Épehy on the 18th September. This was one of a number of Battles for the Hindenburg Line – as allied forces pushed the German Army back into their own country. The village was taken that day but the fighting was fierce. John Robert “died of wounds” on the 25th.

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This inscription is on a headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard, Filey. His grave is in the Brie British Cemetery.

There are no “honoured memories” of John Robert in Filey Church or on the War Memorial in Murray Street. I haven’t found him on the Scarborough Memorial on Oliver’s Mount and he isn’t represented on the Gristhorpe (Filey Parish) Memorial either.

Initially, I found only a grandmother and two great grandparents on FamilySearch Tree but I have added his parents and siblings. His older brother, Albert Edgar, died aged 20 in 1905 but seven children of Richard BELL and Sarah Ann MOORE may have married and had children. Perhaps “family” will add some Memories to FST sometime.