Herring Coble ‘Margaret’

SH200 Margaret was built in Filey in 1881 and its first owner was Arthur DOUGLAS senior. In 1896 Arthur bought the slightly older herring coble, SH111 Jane & Priscilla’. On Monday 26th May 1902 both boats left Scarborough together to fish off Robin Hood’s Bay, Arthur skippering Jane & Priscilla and his 23-year-old son Richard in charge of Margaret. At some time on Tuesday, the boats parted company. At 10.30 pm Margaret was about a mile off Ravenscar and heading swiftly for Scarborough, blown by a strong wind. While the mainsail was being reefed the boom swung and knocked Richard’s younger brother, Arthur (junior), into the sea. A third brother, James (17), shouted “Art is overboard” and Richard, at the tiller, leapt into the sea without hesitation. Both young men were good swimmers but, hampered by oilskins and seaboots, neither stood a chance of rescue. Even if James and an older fisherman, Isaac ETHELL, had been able to bring Margaret about immediately it may have been impossible to see them in the darkness. (They heard their cries for a while.) After searching the area hopelessly for a couple of hours, James and Isaac took their melancholy news to Scarborough where it was passed to Arthur senior by John OWSTON, coxswain of the Scarborough lifeboat.

ArthurDouglasH&SThree days before he drowned, Arthur married Mary COLLEY. Mary gave birth to their daughter, Maud, just a few weeks after Arthur’s death. The child was baptized on 25 June 1902 and buried on 15 January 1903. The photograph of Arthur (inset) was given to me by his grandnephew, Martin, who told me that Mary lost touch with the family thereafter. A small headstone in the churchyard is a poignant reminder of them.



In loving memory of MAUD, the beloved child of ARTHUR & MARY DOUGLAS,

who died Jan 12th 1903, aged 7 months.

‘Adieu sweet babe, short was thy stay,

Just looked around then passed away

Thy angel face we all did see

But soon we were deprived of thee’

Also of the above ARTHUR DOUGLAS, who was lost at sea May 27th 1902, aged 20 years.

‘We shall meet again’

FamilySearch Tree and Filey Genealogy & Connections are in serious disagreements concerning this branch of the DOUGLAS family. I don’t want to interfere too much on FST because it appears that descendants are providing information, rather than “the system”. Over the next few weeks, I’ll work on a version in RootsMagic to see if I can reconcile the differences. I will just say that I have happened upon a Super Pedigree that takes Clan DOUGLAS back to sundry Scottish Lairds before branching into the ruling houses of several European countries. Philip Henry DOUGLAS is a great-grandfather to the drowned Arthur above on FG&C – but not on FST. For fun, you may want to start on FST with Hugh CAPET, King of France and make your way “back” to Philip Henry, or wander further into the mists of time to some of the usual suspects, like William the Conqueror and Charlemagne.

Sleigh Ride to Mount Pleasant

I have been led astray the last three days – on a long and circuitous journey taking in Middle England, Scotland, Holland, and India, with a fanciful spin round Amen Corner on the way.

There are countless places in the English speaking world that have areas called Mount Pleasant – see how many there are in and around Swansea – but I fetched up just 20 miles north of Filey, in Robin Hood’s Bay.

Intrigued by the rather quick remarriage of Thomas Matthew EDWARDS, following the too early death of Elizabeth Alice STORY, I went in search of Ann NICHOL. She was 36 years old when she married Thomas in 1882 and I found soon enough that her maiden surname was possibly SLEIGH. I fired up the LDS 1881 British Census – I have my family’s heartland counties in a FileMaker database – and searched for Ann. Imagine my surprise…


Well Road doesn’t exist anymore in Bridlington unless it is masquerading as Well Lane, but I was really pleased to see the widow Nicoll next door to her parents. Young Ann had also had a son with George NICOLL, given name Linwood, his grandmother’s maiden surname. I haven’t found a record of his death but he would have been ten years old in 1881. All four Nicoll children were born in Forfarshire/Angus, Scotland.

George NICOLL, a Scotsman, had married Ann SLEIGH in Kings Norton, Worcestershire in 1866. He took his young bride home and died aged 49 in Forfar, in 1878. Ann returned to England with the three girls, met widower Thomas EDWARDS and his young son Walter William, joined forces and moved from Bridlington with her parents to her mother’s hometown, Pocklington. Young Ann’s marriage lasted no time at all. Thomas died in 1884.

I don’t know what happened to the boy EDWARDS over the next twenty years but in 1891 Ann and two of the girls were living in The Balk, Pocklington, and her parents not far away in Percy Road. Lily had gone up to Scotland on a visit.

As chance had it, Pocklington’s GP was Dr. Alexander Ferrier Angus FAIRWEATHER, born in Holland to the Reverend Robert of that ilk who, for four years, led the Scottish Church in Rotterdam.


Dr. Alexander’s eldest son Robert, also a medical man, born in Balfron (Stirling), married Lily NICOLL in Pocklington in 1893. Death cut that marriage short too. I haven’t established when or where the younger Robert FAIRWEATHER died – best fit is Tynemouth in 1897, aged 32 – but at the 1901 Census widow Lily was working as a school matron in London.

Lily’s grandmother, Ann née LINWOOD, died in Pocklington shortly after the 1891 census was taken, and John SLEIGH followed her to the next world five years later. In 1901 Ann EDWARDS was settling into Mount Pleasant, Robin Hood’s Bay, with unmarried daughters Annie and Bessie, (now going by “Nita” and “Bettie”). This section of the village today has three stretches of road designated Mount Pleasant North, South and East and there is little chance of identifying the Edwards house. But this image from the Francis Frith Company will give an idea of what it was like then. Not so distinguished now. (Photo: Google Street View.)


At the 1911 Census, Ann and daughters Lily and Bessie (once again) are together at Mount Pleasant. I don’t know what happened to Annie but I did catch up with William Walter EDWARDS, now a cashier at a paper mill in Tamworth, married to Mary Frances née RANFORD, with a daughter Alicia Clare, 7, and son Raymund Walter, 5. Both children were born in the area from which their step-grandmother had hailed.

North of the border, the FAIRWEATHERs had celebrated their triumphs and endured some tragedies. Dr. Alexander’s older brother, John Bisset, born in Rotterdam, died aged 60 after a swift and sad decline, his health possibly affected by 13 years spent on a coffee plantation in India. His sister, Isabella Guthrie married a soldier and gave birth to her third child on the sub-continent – and died aged 27 when the wee lad was just two years old.

And what of Amen Corner? The mother in law of the first Alexander Ferrier Angus was Margaret LOW  of Stonehaven and he agreed to his second child being christened Margaret Eliza Low FAIRWEATHER.  If you are of a certain age (and British) you will understand why I was triggered.

Most of the folk mentioned in this post can be found on FamilySearch.