Yellow River

Annie Elizabeth TURNBULL (Some Clay Figures, 20 September) was “Nina” when she first married.

John Grant BIRCH was born in Antigua and a brief note in my RootsMagic database indicated his death by drowning – in China. I looked today for details.

We much regret to learn this morning of the death of Mr. JOHN GRANT BIRCH, of the firm of Messrs. John Birch & Co., London, at the age of fifty-three. In this gentleman China has claimed another victim, and Britain has lost a loyal and most patriotic son. Mr. Birch was the eldest son of Colonel J. F. Birch, late 3rd West Indian Regiment. The Times says:- He made the acquaintance of our correspondent, Dr. Morrison, during his frequent journeyings in China in late years, and in our columns have appeared on several occasions letters showing his intimate knowledge of Chinese politics and foreshadowing later untoward events. In his last journey, on or about June 24, he lost his life by drowning through the wrecking of the raft in which he was travelling on the Yellow River, on his way from Lanchow [Lanzhou] to Peking [Beijing], where he had intended making strong representations with a view to the opening of the Yangtsze Valley by railways – a subject on which he was fully informed, and which he advocated in the interests of his country. A further tribute is due to Mr. Birch’s memory in connection with the Soudan expedition, which was rendered possible only by the dessert (sic) railway from Wadi-Halfa to Abu Hamed. Almost the whole scheme of this railway followed a plan drawn up in great detail by Mr. Birch, and submitted by him to Lord Cromer several months before the first advance on Dongola.

London and China Express, 27 July 1900

(Find Wadi-Halfa Railway Station on Google Maps and John on the Shared Tree.)

Measure of Man 63 · Flyers

Muston Sands

An Occupational Hazard?

Frederick Andrew CULLEY and Annie LANGFORD married in 1881 and brought nine children into the world. The first three births were registered in Somerset, the others in Scarborough. I think only the last two, Walter Edgar and Sydney Horace, were born in Filey. The family headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard is a sad one. Both parents died at 86 – having mourned the deaths of at least five of their children. One boy died at 14 months, the Great War took two young men, “middle age” two more (though we would say 37 and 43 are “young”). The first name on the headstone is  Sydney Horace who “died as a result of an accident”, a few months before his 19th birthday.

I couldn’t find a newspaper report of the fatal accident but towards the end of 1916, The Driffield Times offered a snippet of Filey news –

Sydney H. CULLEY, son of Mrs. Culley, Vernon House, aged fourteen, has been successful in passing a railway clerkship examination.

Earlier that year Annie had received letters informing her of the two who died “on active service”, so perhaps seeing her youngest making good progress raised her spirits. Did you wonder about the absence of Mr. Culley? Annie and Frederick were still married at the 1911 Census but, it seems, living apart. Annie was a “Clothier” at 1, Union Street, aged 50. Ten years later she was given the honour of opening the Memorial to the Fallen in Murray Street.

But back to Sydney. His death was registered in Selby, a small town of no great distinction. My only memories of it are of the Trans-Pennine train rumbling slowly over the old bridge spanning the River Ouse, and the sight of the Abbey – rare beauty on this rather grim northern journey. Of course, I’m jumping to a conclusion thinking Sydney died on the railway. Perhaps somebody reading this may know what happened to him.

There were three Culley girls. Rhoda Susan died aged 74 in 1969. She did not marry. I haven’t researched Edith Madeline or Dorothy Winifred yet.

There are only three Culleys on Filey Genealogy and Connections and they are not “joined up”. I have added a few sources to the FamilySearch Tree. The casualties of war have had LaF Wiki pages for a while but I haven’t had a chance to update them.

TwoCulleys

Reginald Vernon CULLEY 1882- 1916

Thomas Joseph CULLEY 1888-1916