Another Guesswork Wife

The mother of the Sellers boys (yesterday’s post) is Sarah McLAREN on Filey Genealogy & Connections. This Sarah is given the same dates and children as Sarah WILSON, the rightful wife of Robert senior.

The McLarens offer wider horizons than the Wilsons. This isn’t immediately apparent if you have clicked the link to Sarah M. Three other children of David McLaren and Jane SMURFOOT married, but it is Hannah who connects to several Filey families with interesting, though not extensive, pedigrees. She married into the BRAMBLES, which lead to COULTAS and WATKINSON. And one Thomas COULTAS married a Sarah Jane SELLERS, born only two years or so before a daughter given the same name by Robert Sellers and Sarah Wilson. Most of these connections appear to be reliable.

I wondered this morning who Sarah McLAREN married, if anyone, and was surprised to find her contributing to future generations on the Shared Tree.

Although FG&C has again been found wanting with a guesswork wife fail, Kath offers more people in these families than FST. I will add as many as I can, as and when…

What Killed the Sellers Boys?

Life has always been a lottery. That isn’t going to change but the odds of surviving to a good age have improved somewhat since unwise apes began to shuffle around on two feet.

At the beginning of the 19th century in Britain, one child in three died before their fifth birthday. It took around 70 years for this figure to improve to one in four, and, about another 80 years before 19 out of 20 children could party, aged five.

The mortality story is well-told online, offering tables and graphs that can be downloaded.

One of the Office of National Statistics interactive graphs shows the “survivability” of individuals at all ages from 0 to 110, from 1850 to 2010. This enables the deaths of the Sellers Boys to be put into a context of sorts.

Robert SELLERS and Sarah WILSON had eight children between 1851 and 1870, five girls and three boys. I haven’t yet discovered when Robert, the youngest boy, died. A headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard remembers the other two brothers.

George, 15, and William, 17, both died in 1872, fifteen days apart. When the census was taken the previous year, William was at home with the family, working as a Shop Boy. George was “living-in” not far away in Scarborough Road, a servant to farmer John RICHARDSON.

The survivability graph mentioned above has precise figures at 25-year intervals but, roughly, William and George had 67 chances in a hundred of reaching their next birthday in 1873. Reasonable odds, but they were two of the 33 in a hundred who didn’t make it.

If we had the certificates, we would know what the attending Filey doctor thought was the death of them. (Charles Waters SCRIVENER was the town’s medical officer, but two other doctors were resident in Filey in 1871, and presumably in practice – Brooke CROMPTON and Richard ALDERSON.) Without the certificates, we can only surmise.

That the boys died within a couple of weeks of each other suggests an infectious disease could be the culprit, most likely consumption, aka tuberculosis or TB. This bacterial infection was so common it would not have raised the eyebrows of a newspaper editor. An outbreak of cholera, typhus, scarlet fever or smallpox in the town would surely have been reported.

It is possible, of course, that the timing of the brother’s deaths was coincidental, and each was taken by a different cause. A wonderful online resource gives the causes of death of most people buried in Leeds General Cemetery. I browsed the first couple of hundred records, noting the causes of death of males aged 15 to 17. (I didn’t note the calendar years in which the deaths occurred.)

The modal cause of death was, not surprisingly, consumption with 14 instances. Bronchitis was a distant second with four; accident and fever with 3. (Had the Sellers boys died on the same day I would immediately have thought “accident” – drowning whilst fishing – if I hadn’t already known their occupations.)

There were two instances each of these causes – typhus, general decline, abscess, and inflammation of lungs.

Single instances – asthma, inflammation, temporary insanity, affection of brain, erysipelas, pleurisy, congestion of lungs, congestion of brain, scarlet fever, hernia, hip disease, inflammation of bladder, liver complaint, heart disease, general debility, tumour, diarrhoea and rupture of blood vessel.

It is interesting to note that heart disease is now the leading cause of death for English males; dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for females. These causes swap to take second place for each sex. (Figures don’t seem to be available for the myriad other sexes of choice available now.)

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In loving memory of SARAH, the beloved wife of ROBERT SELLERS, who died July 23rd, 1908, aged 84 years.

Thy will be done

Also, the above ROBERT SELLERS, who died Jan 3rd, 1909, aged 83 years.

Peace perfect peace

Also, two sons of the above; GEORGE who died June 6th, 1872, aged 15 years, and WILLIAM who died June 21st, 1872, aged 17 years.

Gone but not forgotten

This is currently a two-generation family on FamilySearch and extending it seems to be a daunting task

Farmer, Publican, Farmer

Samuel Nesfield was born in 1811, the eldest son of Samuel GOFTON and Sarah. When his firstborn daughter Henrietta was baptised in 1836, his occupation was given as Farmer in the St Oswald’s register. Five years later, the 1841 census describes him as a Publican.  Samuel’s wife, Catharine, gave birth to four more girls and it seems likely that they were all born at The Bull Inn, Gristhorpe.

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Catharine died in 1845 when youngest daughter Juliana was about 18 months old. Samuel might have been expected to find a second wife to help with the raising of his family but he chose to remain a widower – and return to farming.

In 1851 he is working 110 acres at Colton near Tadcaster. The return says he is employing no labourers but his widowed mother Sarah, 66, is his housekeeper and Henrietta, 15, is “employed at home”.

Ten years later the census names the farm as Colton Haggs where he employs 1 man and 2 boys on 108 acres. There are two farm servants living-in,  both carters, aged 18 and 19. Big boys! Two nephews, Samuel Gofton and John Henry SELLER(S), are there on census night and one is described as a farmer.  Samuel’s four daughters are still unmarried and presumably helping around the farm.

Colton Haggs is a working farm today, with Bed & Breakfast being a supplementary generator of income. The farm name on an old census return is perhaps flimsy evidence that this place was once owned by the Goftons – but there are photographs on the Internet that may be of interest.

Samuel seems to have returned to Gristhorpe to die – in 1867 aged 56. His headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard also remembers Catherine but does not tell us that they are “Reunited”. It is next to the grave of Rachel Swales, his father’s first wife.

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Find Samuel Nesfield on FamilySearch Tree.

Today’s Image

After photographing The Bull Inn this morning I walked back to town along the cliffs. I have long thought of “North Cliffs” running from Carr Naze to Gristhorpe Wyke but Googling brought up Newbiggin Cliff for the ramparts heading east from the Wyke.