Clay Genealogy

Charles Travis CLAY, a nephew of Arthur Travis, died in Oxford in 1978 aged 92. A 57 page catalogue of his Archive of Family Papers can be viewed online. On page 2 there is a Genealogical wheel he made, based on earlier research done by his father, John William Clay. Today, I added some of the wheel information to my RootsMagic 8 version of Filey Genealogy and Connections to produce the Chart below.

Adding a generation to see how closely it resembles Charles’ effort isn’t a high priority.

Path 154 · St Oswald’s Churchyard

Clay headstone: left corner

Making Marks

1975 Oxford


I charged through Gore Vidal’s Collected Essays, bowed several times before his formidable intelligence, wit and humanity. Laughed at his searing character sketches (assassinations) of Nixon, Rockefeller, Howard Hughes. An entertainment, an education, an encouragement to make some mark with the only life I have.

And there’s the rub. How to make that mark. Looking up from my drawing board at work and out over St Thomas’ beyond the green-black bulk of Beaver House, Boars Hill and Wytham Hill are daily growing in size. Accumulation of leaves. Bulky, green, rich and beautiful under the occasional sun. Flashback to Stoke when I would go to the attic window in the winter months to watch the sun dip behind the Penkhull ridge, throwing redness onto Fenton Tip. The nearest thing to natural beauty invading the worker’s consciousness there. Here the grand cloudscapes, magnificent approaching storms. An eyrie almost. And just that square of glass between me and a living, natural world. I don’t seriously consider escape. Maybe I have inwardly accepted that escape is impossible though still keeping myself aloof enough from the work and most of my colleagues to preserve some pride. Some individuality.

The third floor of M House is a barren landscape peopled by shades mainly, shackled, shuffling, lost. Have they never had a bite of Captain Hook’s leg? I feel there should be more goodness in the work situation. More stimulus from the arrangement of furniture, from the movement of the planners through the spaces between, from the words that issue from their lips, from the hints and suggestions of what their lives “outside” are really like. But I continue to suffer from malnutrition. Get out then! Leave them to it. But, sir, where can I go? Who shall I go with?

And all the time now, though not to be at all morbid about it, I have the full realisation of my own mortality. A dreadful thing for someone so young to carry about on his person. In the midst of a wasteland here, I feel I have some value. Silly ain’t it? Yes, I’m frightened of dying before showing, clearly, what I am capable of…

On the Horizon


Landscape 116 · Filey Bay


The Station Master

The 1861 census for Filey Parish shows that John SIGSWORTH is stationmaster at Gristhorpe, married to Mary. He is fifty years old, his wife 39 and there are no children still at home. Given Mary’s age, it would be a simple matter to find children in the GRO Index, but I haven’t located a record of their marriage. John Sigsworth is a surprisingly common name in the area of Yorkshire around Easingwold and several men with that name married a Mary. But not this one, it seems.

A John Sigsworth born in November 1811 and baptised in Stillington could be the future station master but I am going with the John born to John and Alice née JACKSON.

“Our John” may be the 30-year-old male servant to Innkeeper Henry KIMBERLEY at Barton Hill, near Malton. Four years later the York to Scarborough railway would pass through the village, and a station built there. Maybe the romance of the railways made an impression on this John

I have failed to find the 1851 census so I can’t even hazard a guess at when John became a railway servant. But in 1861 he was here:-


W. ARTHUR, the author of this photograph taken in 2006, 47 years after the station closed, has generously put the image into the public domain, so I have taken the liberty of making it somewhat brighter than the downloaded version. There’s a photo on Geograph offering a perspective that includes the railway line, which is still open.


In 1871 the census enumerator found John at Gristhorpe Station still, but married to Emma, 22 years his junior and a native of Oxfordshire. (A later source gives her birthplace as the town itself.)

Mary had died on 29 June 1862 and is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard. Her stone has been moved to the north wall, by the church.


John may have intended his passing to be recorded on the stone’s open space but Emma put paid to that idea. There’s a death registration in 1877 that fits him perfectly (aged 66) but I can’t support this with a burial record. That Emma, born in Oxford, is a widow in the 1881 census would seem to be confirmation but, rather than being 48 years old, the page image clearly shows her aged ‘67’. In 1891 she is the second wife of William SKIPSEY, a retired gardener, and a more reasonable 61-year-old. She wasn’t finished with misinforming enumerators. In 1901 she has aged considerably when compared with her husband and, rather than being 7 years his junior, is now ten years older than him. William, 80 in the census, died at the end of the year at 84 according to the GRO Index. Emma followed him into the unknown five years later, registered as 75 rather than 95!

William Skipsey has descendants on FST from his first marriage to Elizabeth ARMSTRONG. I don’t think John had any children at all. His life seems to have been uneventful, which is surprising, given his occupations. Inns see a fair bit of action and the railway has its moments. As one of John’s namesakes in the Easingwold area sadly demonstrated. He was one of the Raskelf Sigsworths. The village is just three miles from Easingwold and a John four years younger than our subject, and a railway labourer, married and raised a number of children born there to his wife Rachel WHORLTON. They named one of the boys John. About the same time in Raskelf, farmer James Sigsworth also had a son called John who worked as a potato dealer. In July 1881, a coroner’s inquest into this young man’s death, aged 32, heard that he…

 …met his father with some pigs in a cart at Brafferton. His father left there for Boroughbridge, and the deceased promised to follow. In this, however, he failed, and the last that was seen of him alive was at 10.30 on Tuesday night on the road between Helperby and Raskelf, where he passed a brickmaker named William Baines, of Raskelf, and said “Good night.” The deceased then appeared to be sober, and had on his arm an overcoat. A few hours after he was found lying on the four-foot way of the North-Eastern line, a little more than a mile from Raskelf. He was dead, and his legs were lying apart from the rest of the body more than a yard away, he being frightfully mutilated. A train had evidently passed over him…On Wednesday morning, about four o’clock, the driver of a goods train…stopped at Raskelf station and left the information that the body of a man was lying on the line about half-way between the railway bridge at Raskelf and the signal cabin. On going to the place indicated, the officials found the body of Mr. John Sigsworth, of Raskelf, potato dealer, quite dead, his legs being entirely severed from the body, which was laid in the four-foot. The body was conveyed to the house of his father, with whom he resided. The deceased had been to Helperby Feast on Tuesday, and it is believed he left that village about 11 p.m. on foot, and on crossing the railway had been run over by an express train. The deceased was not married.

Leeds Mercury, 22 July 1881

In early March 1888, another Raskelf boy called John Sigsworth died, aged twenty minutes. Life is a lottery.