Ghost Story

A couple of posts earlier this month, Balaclava and The Missing Parson, featured some STORYs. I revisited them yesterday to tie up some of their loose ends on FamilySearch.

The stone remembering Elizabeth Alice STORY is in a sorry state. The Crimlisks in their 1977 survey noted it was broken…


The carved lettering is very distinctive, appearing on only one other headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard, as far as I’m aware – that of Elizabeth Alice’s parents and brothers Henry Errington and William. This one reads:-

In affectionate remembrance of ELIZABETH ALICE, the beloved wife of THOMAS MATTHEW EDWARDS, daughter of WILLIAM STORY, who died at Bridlington, October 26th 1880, aged 29.

She was buried in Bridlington and to give her such a substantial memorial in the town of her birth is quite a statement. Her only child, Walter William, was four months shy of his seventh birthday when she died. He would acquire a step-mother around the time he turned eight.

After adding a source or two to Elizabeth Alice’s record on FamilySearch I checked to see if she had any duplicates. There was just one and it was quite startling – of Elizabeth Alice STOREY, with the same birth and death years and a husband with the surname EDWARDS, the marriage taking place, it appears, about the same time. Very clearly, they were “not a match”. This other Elizabeth had entered the world in Hants Harbour, Newfoundland, and departed from the same place. The location rang a bell, though, so I looked again at the biography of Filey Elizabeth’s brother, George Philliskirk STORY.

…Following three probationary years as an assistant in the two St John’s [Newfoundland] circuits, Story was ordained in 1880. That summer he married the daughter of John Steer, a leading merchant in the city. The next eight years were spent in hard and onerous labour as a circuit preacher around the island: at Channel (Channel-Port aux Basques), Hant’s Harbour and Catalina on Trinity Bay, and Freshwater on Conception Bay.

Spooky, huh?

Elizabeth Alice the First

Elizabeth Alice the Second

The Missing Parson

The Scarborough Mercury on Friday, 8th December 1882 reported as follows:-

Filey: Strange Occurrence

This retired watering-place was thrown into a state of great excitement the other day, in consequence of the sudden loss of one of the Primitive Ministers. This rev. gentleman is in the habit of walking to Filey Brig and then returning to tea, but he happened to deviate from his ordinary custom, and the result was that a very painful scene occurred. His wife became excited, hearing nothing of her husband. for several hours. The aid of fishermen was summoned and the Brig searched, but no parson [was] to be found; after which, ropes, &c., were procured to drag the sea-pools about the Brig. The townspeople spreading the news, crowds of fishermen began to move towards the cliff top ; during this excitement a well-known ironmonger and a parson stepped among the crowd to enquire what was up, when the parson to his astonishment was told they were going to search for his body on the Brig, having heard he had been drowned. Naturally enough he bolted home to his distressed wife. I can’t describe the meeting, to explain that he had stayed tea with the ironmonger and had forgot to send a message home where he was. The fishermen were recalled from the Brig and the little town soon settled down to its normal quietness. This should warn husbands and wives to be sure and “come home to tea.”

The ironmonger was almost certainly John ROSS senior, a native of Castleton (near Danby) and active in the overlapping circles of Filey Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists. He probably had parson friends of both persuasions and after his death, in January 1885, the Rev. G. OYSTON opened a meeting of the Port of Hull Society Sailors’ Orphan Home with an “appropriate allusion” to John’s passing.  Reading the 19th-century newspapers one gets the impression that this watering place rarely had fewer than a dozen parsons going about their singular master’s business, so which one got his wife excited is anyone’s guess.

Amongst a supporting cast of lay preachers and circuit trustees were William STORY senior, who featured in yesterday’s post, and Harrison PHILLISKIRK. William indicated the depth of their friendship by giving a daughter, Ann, and a son, George, the middle name “Philliskirk”. George would take the name with pride across the Atlantic. He worked himself into an early grave as a teacher and Methodist clergyman in Newfoundland.

George married Elizabeth STEER in St John’s in 1880 and one of their descendants died in January last year – a William Story who had brought the honoured middle names, Philliskirk and Steer, into the 21st century.

The Langleecrag Cousins

Photograph by Walter E. Frost, Mar. 10, 1933, via City of Vancouver Archives

Early in November 1947, the SS Langleecrag sailed from Britain in ballast to collect a cargo of wheat from Canada. Approaching the mouth of the St Lawrence in a storm, Captain Thomas ORFORD made an error of judgment in setting his course and Chief Officer Cyril KING failed to make a correction. At 5.20 on the morning of the 15th, the freighter ran onto the rocks of bleak, uninhabited, Great Sacred Island.

Fileyman William Johnson COLLING (“Bill Bullocky”) was at the wheel and knew instinctively that they had “bounced over rocks” and not, as some of the crew thought, hit an iceberg. Most accounts of the event have stated that a boiler exploded shortly after impact and split the vessel in two but Bill would say many years later that he could not recall that happening.  His memories of the death of his “half-cousin” William Cammish COLLING were still clear when aged about eighty, he gave interviews for the two Heritage Lottery supported local history projects, Exploring Filey’s Past and To the Last of the Line.

The boat ‘ad broken in two then, one ‘alf ‘ad gone that way and one ‘alf ‘ad come this way. And my two watch mates who went on watch wi’ me at four o’ clock, were both drowned. I did me best to save my mate, who lived down street ‘ere (points), ‘e was a cousin more or less. Er, ‘is father and my father were cousins, like, so ‘e was sort of ‘alf cousin. Tried to save ‘im, and the air was that so thin, I couldn’t get enough stamina. I threw a rope at ‘im…I threw a lifebelt just missin’ ‘is ‘ands…and, er, he was unconscious with water, cold and, er, I threw a life…er, er, an ‘eavin’ line at ‘im and it wrapped round ‘is ‘and. Well I thought I ‘ad ‘im then, when it got round ‘is ‘and, and I towed ‘im down side of boat where I could, where I thought I could get ‘im. Sea was breakin’ right across deck, I was onny one on deck, rollin’, thing and, er, I gorrim right up t’ side, I gorrim within very near in reach, like that (demonstrates), just, I just couldn’t reach ‘is ‘and by about that (puts fingertips of each hand almost together) leanin’ ovver. And I was so exhausted that I…and there was nowhere I could tie it, to go and fetch somebody to ‘elp me, er, I laid there exhausted and, er, at the finish I ‘ad to lower ‘im back inter t’ sea.

One account says that the bodies of the two men who drowned were not recovered but William Cammish Colling is buried in a small graveyard in Flower’s Cove, about  50 miles from the rusting hulk of Langleecrag.


In St Oswald’s churchyard, he is remembered with one of his brothers.


In loving memory of THOMAS JENKINSON COLLING, died June 22nd, 1949 aged 41. WILLIAM CAMMISH COLLING. Lost off S.S. Langleecrag, Nov. 15th, 1947 aged 27. Buried at Flower’s Cove, Newfoundland. Beloved sons of MATTHEW T. and ANN COLLING. “At Peace.”

“Bill Bullocky” died aged 90 at the Hylands Care Home on 15 December 2015.

The two were second cousins once removed with George COLLING & Ellis (Alice) SIMPSON as common ancestors, and fourth cousins once removed to Robert JENKINSON & Margaret TRUCKLES. Find them on Filey Genealogy & Connections: William Cammish, William Johnson.

William Cammish is on the FamilySearch tree.

There are two posts on Looking at Filey about the wreck – SS Langleecrag and ‘Langleecrag’ Revisited.The links don’t work on the Wayback Machine but searching online for the ship by name will bring rewards. I found the Investigation of the Wreck and an extract from the book Shipwrecks of Newfoundland and Labrador  Volume IV by Frank Gargay and Michael McCarthy particularly useful. (Annoying ad warning!) I was particularly moved to find a photograph of the large rock which sheltered the crew through four miserable days and nights of wind, rain, and snow. It is Figure 43 in this PDF. (You may get a warning from your anti-virus; click at your own discretion.)

If you do take the trouble to check out the Looking at Filey posts, please don’t overlook the responses that came in from Newfoundland (and the touching inquiry from the nephew of Francis John ANDERSON, the other seaman who died).


My Delilah

A couple of weeks ago FamilySearch kindly sent me some relatives via email. Since the door to my fancy forebears closed I have been left with a modest pedigree so any “new blood” is most welcome, even if it ain’t blue. I doubt I would ever have unearthed these people – descendants of a third great granduncle, Charles FENN. A gift gratefully received.

Charles (1797 – 1863) was the firstborn child of Jonathan FENN and Anne ALDOUS and he had six children (at least) with Sophia COPEMAN. Two of the children, Charles Jnr and Eve Maria were born in the Gressenhall Workhouse. The second son, William (born 1833), was with his family in the Workhouse in 1841 but ten years later he had, it seems, set out to see the world, leaving behind two brothers and two sisters with their father, widowed in 1850.

William headed north to Durham and on 3rd January 1857 married Margaret Ann McVAY (or McVEY) in Sunderland. Their first child, named  Eve Maria after the workhouse baby sister, was not long in arriving but she opened her eyes in New York. Her two brothers and eight sisters would enter the world in New York, Salt Lake City, Idaho, Lewis and ManganeseWickesHelenaClark County and Park City in Montana. At the 1880 Census they were living in Helena, which was one of the wealthiest towns in the nation around that time. William was working as a boilermaker and I guess his main employers would have been mining companies. Gold was the main source of the area’s wealth but the mountains to the south of Helena had other minerals worth scrabbling for. In Jefferson City, a few miles from Helena, there were over 14,000 claims and 2,500 mines. Checking the satellite view on Google Earth it is the manganese at Wickes that catches the eye.

FamilySearch focused on William and Margaret’s five-year-old daughter Sarah Doremis and I became somewhat emotional imagining her going to school in “Lewis and Clark” country near the Missouri River. (Last year I read Allan Wolf’s novel New Found Land and connected most readily with Meriweather’s wonder dog, Oolum!) Sarah died aged 83 in Cascade, Montana when I was ten years old and totally unaware of her existence. She was my second cousin three times removed.

But what of Delilah FENN, my first cousin four times removed? Sarah’s aunt, she married Frederick RUSSELL in 1867 and bore him 12 children. Fred was a builder and, I suspect, a fairly prosperous one, well able to pay for Delilah to cross the pond to see her 60-year-old brother and surviving nephews and nieces. She sailed for New York from Glasgow aboard the State of Nebraska in1893.

Who knows how many wonderful memories she brought back to “the old country”? She died in Sussex in 1913, age 65.

On FamilySearch Tree – Delilah, Sarah Doremis.

The path towards the uncertain glories of a now mythical Plantagenet heritage can be followed from my 3 times great grandmother, Esther Wells – but only for three generations.