An Untrue Story

In the post ‘Baltic’ and ‘Noran’ nine days ago, I said I would attempt to recover a memory of an amusing story involving the latter fisherman. As chance would have it, I met a relative of ‘Dick Noran’ on my early morning walk towards the end of last week. I told him the story as I remembered it.

Richard Duke ROBINSON was a friend of Mary Elinor PLACE, the only daughter of George Thomas Brown Place, a curate for a while at St Oswald’s. Mary ran a Café on Filey Brigg. Perhaps it was this one.

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Postcard courtesy of Christine Hayes

There were several generations of café, each having a few years of life before they were wrecked in storms. But surely only one had a proprietress as eccentric and inventive as Mary. If she ran out of ice-cream she would take a large white sheet around the corner of the Naze and weigh it down with rocks on the cliff face. This was a signal to Dick Noran to buy a large tub from Baker’s Café on the Landing and row it out to the Brigg in his coble.

I said to Dickie’s first cousin twice removed, “Is this true?” and without hesitation, he replied, “No”.

Aw, shucks. Tom did concede that “some people around town” said that Dickie and Mary had a relationship – and left it at that.

Dick was 17 years older than Mary but had been a widower for a long time when their friendship began. Mary didn’t marry. He died in 1969 aged 79, she in 1985 aged 78.

I went up to the churchyard this afternoon to see if I could get a better photograph of the stone remembering Dick and his parents. There is work for Paul and his gang because it has broken away from its base. Propped up at an angle it is in the early stages of being overwhelmed by vegetation.

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Dick and wife Mary Ellen named their first son Richard Duke. He survived for just four months, so they tried again with their third son. This Richard Duke Robinson joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and died in North Africa during the Battle for Tunisia. (Montgomery and his Eighth Army versus Erwin Rommel’s German-Italian Panzer Army.) I have no supporting documents for my surmise that Richard should have been safe at one of the British Hospitals, probably No.31 General in Oued Athmenia because he was initially buried in the Military Cemetery in that town. He may have succumbed to malaria. His body was exhumed the following year and re-buried at La Reunion War Cemetery in Bejaia. I have given him an ID and put him on the Shared Tree.

Richard Duke Junior was seven years old when his grandmother Mary Ellen died at 66 Queen Street. His elder sister Margaret was living at 68 Queen Street when she died in 1959. I photographed the cottages this afternoon.

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‘Baltic’ and ‘Noran’

In a Filey Genealogy & Connections note, Kath says that George Whiteley BOYNTON acquired his by-name following his experience of fighting in the Crimean War. Little more than a boy, he was seemingly a combatant in a distant theatre of that conflict – the Baltic Sea. When the Anglo-French fleet attacked Kronstadt in 1854 he would have been just twelve years old, and a few weeks short of his 14th birthday at the war’s end. He gave his occupation as “Mariner” when he married Ann SAYERS in 1864.

Richard Duke ROBINSON, known locally as ‘Noran’ or ‘Dickie Noran’ (for a reason unknown to me), was 47 years younger than George. He made a useful prop for the older man when they were photographed on a quayside with five other fishermen.

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This undated photo was kindly donated to the Looking at Filey blog by Suzanne Pollard and several names were usefully provided. If you reckon ‘Noran’ to be about 14, that would make ‘Baltic’ sixty-one years old, and the year 1903 or thereabouts.

At the 1911 census, George is still working at age 69, but as a general labourer, and living at 4 Spring Road, Filey, with Ann. The couple had six children, two of them failing to reach the first birthday. Three married and two of the boys would acquire distinctive by-names of their own – ‘Boysher’ and ‘Rammy’. More about them some other time.

I have a vague memory of hearing an amusing story about Dickie Noran. I’ll chase it up and, if recovered, share it here.

It appears that George acquired a lasting taste for violence in the eponymous northern sea. Married four years and with third child Annie’s appearance imminent…

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In November 1877, the Scarborough Mercury reported: –

Fighting at Brid Station

At the Bridlington Petty Sessions on Saturday, before Lieut-Col Prickett and Mr C. Mortlock, George Boynton, of Filey, fisherman, was summoned for wilfully interfering with the comfort of the passengers at the Bridlington Railway Station on 13th ult. Inspector Craig of the North Eastern Railway appeared for the company. George Knaggs, porter, stated that defendant and a number of other fishermen were on the platform arguing about a boat, when defendant struck one of the others and a fight ensued. Defendant was turned out of the station but returned and renewed the disturbance. Fined £1 including costs.

George and Ann’s last child was born about three years later and if you think young Frank’s by-name, ‘Rammy’, has violent connotations, you’d be right. But it seems to have been confined to the football field.

George was eighty when he died in 1922 and Ann 86 when reunited with him four years later.

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Find them on the Shared Tree. George’s mother, Elizabeth SUTTON, is not on FST yet. I’m struggling to determine which of several Boynton men called Francis she married.