The Four Wives of James Knaggs

At the end of March 1851, James was at the Pigeon Pie Inn, Sherburn, with older sister Jane and her husband, William SAWDEN. He was 25-years-old, working as a joiner and single. It would be three years before he found a wife. For reasons unknown, he crossed the Humber to Lincolnshire, wooed Sophia MARSHALL and married her in Winteringham on 15 August 1854. In early summer the following year she gave birth to William, their only child, in Filey. When the boy was five months old she died. The family is minimally represented on the FamilySearch Tree.

Sophia’s headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard has fine letter forms that have withstood 164 years of weather quite well.

A year later, James married Ann REYNOLDS in North Frodingham. There is a Scarborough birth registration in the September Quarter of 1859 that could mark the entry of daughter Anne into the world but the child then disappears from view. Mother Ann vanishes too. I cannot find a record of her death but on census night 1861 James is with his third wife, Isabella née BROWN, at 10 Pembroke Cottages, Islington.

James has given up his trade and become a Lay Missionary. His firstborn, William, is living in Winteringham with grandfather William Marshall and “step grandmother” Catherine. (Sophia’s father has married for the third time.)

In 1871 James is the Minister at Stratford Congregational Church and a widower, but young William, 15, is with him and the three children born to Isabella. Ten years later James is a widower still and now an “Independent Minister”. William is working as a grocer’s clerk and the other boy, Cornelius, has a similar position in a chemist’s shop. James’ daughter Isabella Margaret, 18, is listed as “housekeeper” and there are two other servants. Fourth child, Caroline Mary, now 14, is a boarder at Milton Mount College, Gravesend.

By 1891, James is back with the Congregationalists – and has found a fourth wife, Eliza, fourteen years his junior. If this is Eliza Mary WOOLFE, they are in the eighth year of their marriage. Margaret seems to have dropped both her first name (Isabella) and skivvying for her father. At 28 years of age she is now a “Professor of Music”.

In 1901 James is 75 and retired but his house in Hampstead rings with the voices of two native South Africans – Marjorie Knaggs, 9, and her sister Isabel, 7. I must seek out their parents.

James Knaggs is the first fellow I have happened upon who married four times. I haven’t found appropriate statistics for Victorian Britain but in 21st century America 3% of men and women have married three or more times.

I will flesh out James and Sophia’s thin pedigree on the Shared Tree when I can. Quite a few of the people mentioned above have IDs already but they are scattered all over the place. Dots to be connected – and a lot of merges to be done.

Found Object 46 · Filey Sands

Brief Lives

James BARR was only thirty-three years old when he died. He was one of at least seven children born to John and Sarah nee TAYLOR in North Frodingham, a village about 23 miles south of Filey. John was an “excavator”, as was his father before him. They mostly dug ditches for farmers, I suspect. James has one of the most striking  headstones in St Oswald’s churchyard, with a fine carving of mason’s tools.

I was surprised today to find that he began his working life as a groom, serving the  Doctors SAVILE (father and son) in Nafferton. Between 1861 and the next census he learned a trade, married and became a father. In 1871 he was living in Church Street, Filey with wife Diana/Dinah nee WILLIAMSON and their four-year-old daughter Sarah Ann, and working as a bricklayer. He had six more years to live and I can only assume he acquired a mason’s greater skills in that short time. I haven’t discovered the cause of his death.

In 1881 James’ widow had moved the short distance to a house in King Street and was making ends meet as a charwoman. Sarah Ann, 14, was with her, described as a domestic servant.

Sarah Ann married in 1889 and two years later Dinah was enumerated with three “lodgers” – Francis SIMPSON, his wife Ann and their three-year old son John Williamson. Ann was Dinah’s niece and the wee boy her grandnephew.

Dinah died two years later, aged 53.

Found Object 38 · Mask

Glen Gardens

Whiting Wrongs

The day after my Tailor, Soldier, Sailor post, the family of William COLLEY and Elizabeth WHITING was re-arranged on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. William, the Tailor of Scawton, was given a new wife and eight of his children vanished.

With Elizabeth née JARMAN taking her place in William’s bed, what has become of “our Elizabeth”?

WHITINGeliz_sonGeoX_FSTss_20200102

Elizabeth is with her rightful husband here, William the Bricklayer, and one of her 18 sources is the 1841 Census showing the couple in Skipsea with daughter Maria, 18, and Robert PAPE, 14, also a bricklayer. Christening sources for Maria and George are also correct. I think Walter should have stayed in Scawton. Twelve sources attached to Elizabeth are bogus, being the christenings of children belonging to the cutler, the soldier, the sailor and the tailor. The 13th is the proof of her own christening. Wrong year, wrong place, wrong father.

1793_WHITINGeliz_Chr

I don’t yet know if this daughter of John reached adulthood and married. When exiled from Scawton a few days ago she took Elizabeth Jarman’s death date with her. She kept the 1811 marriage date too but on the 19th December that year, it was a different Elizabeth Whiting who married William Colley. Hence the Big Red X on the screenshot above.

William’s burial in All Saints churchyard, Skipsea, is correctly sourced. Elizabeth rests eternally nearby but not as a Colley. When I couldn’t find a death registration for her, I guessed she must have married again.

About the time William died in Skipsea, Frances FALLOWDOWN breathed her last in North Frodingham, five miles to the west. A few months later, on 11 October, our Elizabeth married widower Phineas Fallowdown. With Victorian etiquette advising widows to wear “full mourning” for two years, this appears to be a tad unseemly. But our Elizabeth’s birthplace, Beeford, is only two miles from North Frodingham, so the Whitings may have known the Fallowdowns for years. There are also tantalizing glimpses in census returns of families GRAINGER and BARR being Fallowdown neighbours. William Colley’s sister Elizabeth married a Barr and his daughter Maria a Grainger. (In 1851, Ellen Grainger, age 13 and a “visitor”, was with Phineas and Elizabeth on census night.)

Our Elizabeth died in North Frodingham in 1858 and her body was taken to Skipsea. It may have been her wish to be buried with her first husband.

1858_FALLADOWNeliz_BUR

Second time around, Phineas was fourteen years a widower. He died towards the end of 1872, aged 78. At census the year before he had been living alone. I haven’t found a burial record for him. Phineas has two PIDs but a minimal representation on the Shared Tree. You can find our Elizabeth as a single girl, with parents and siblings, here. The church register entry for her marriage to Phineas identifies her as the widow Colley and the daughter of the Miller of Beeford.

1845_FallowdownColley_Mar

Today’s Image

The first trees in Filey Parish Wood were, I think, planted in 1996. I remember being underwhelmed when I first set eyes upon it in 2010. This is how the wood looked this morning.

20200102ParishWoodPano1_8m

The ghost of Jude is standing a few feet beyond the gate on the left.