Three More Sisters

Two are remembered on this headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

Row 20 | 2047 Somerset E164 | Granite cross

The family name and brief inscription give the impression that they were strangers here. The third sister, Kate, was the only one to marry and she was a beneficiary, with Amy, of the money shared out after Mary Ann died.

That’s over half a million in today’s money.

Brislington House was established as a private mental institution for the wealthy and was still being run by descendants of its founder, Edwin Long FOX, in 1939.  At the time of her death in 1948, Amy was living in Larkhall near Bath – in Somerset! And Kate died in 1952 in Sodbury, Gloucestershire.

All three were born in Doncaster to Edward SOMERSET and his second wife, Emily DALE. Edward had at least three children with Mary Elizabeth TIRPIN. The deaths of both daughter Mary at the age of eleven and her mother were registered in the same quarter of 1866. (Younger son Herbert currently has Emily for a mother on FamilySearch.)

Edward worked as a draper and later a valuer and he must have been successful in both occupations because neither his widow nor his daughters registered gainful employment with census enumerators – until Mary Ann was caught keeping a boarding house on the Crescent in Filey in 1921. Amy was with her but not, it seems, getting her hands dirty.

Filey welcomed lots of guests from the West Riding in the summer months and they were typically middle and upper-crust families. Lower orders preferred Bridlington and Scarborough. But it was still a surprise to find Amy and Mary Ann here, and puzzling that Mary was brought from Bristol to be buried at St Oswald’s when all three sisters seemed to have migrated to the South West. Amy invested her inheritance wisely but her wealth didn’t protect her from an untimely and shocking death. I don’t know if she and Mary Ann are close companions for eternity.

A Light Fall of Snow

Townscape 78 · Crescent Gardens

View from the Bandstand


1895 Filey · Birth  The scrap of information I have on Bernard Charles ROSS has him being baptised on the day of his birth at the Wesleyan Chapel. Maybe he wasn’t expected to live -but a quick check on Free BMD…

After younger sister Grace Eileen’s birth in Filey in 1899, parents John and Mary Elizabeth (née McFARLANE) moved the family to East Retford in Nottinghamshire. When Bernard was thirteen, his mother died and towards the end of 1909, John Ross married Lucy NETTLESHIP in Worksop. Lucy, a single woman, was 44 years old and did not have any children with John. The family continued living in East Retford for a while but perhaps relocated to Sheffield, Lucy’s home town, shortly after the 1911 census. The 1939 Register has Bernard based in the city, working as a commercial traveller in wooden bedsteads and dining tables. With him at No. 1 Crawshaw Grove is Norah H Ross, seven years younger exactly (born 6 February) and almost certainly his wife, though I haven’t found the marriage record yet.

Bernard’s father is on the Shared Tree, but unmarried and without seven of his siblings.

1879 Filey · Baptism  Elizabeth Crawford was the second girl to be given these names by parents William HALL and Mary CRAWFORD. The first child had died the previous year, aged two. The second, known as Lizzie, lived for 76 years.

In 1911 she is in Chapel Street with sister Jane Crawford, brother in law George SCOTTER and two Scotter children. She is described as a general servant domestic but during the ensuing twenty-eight years becomes “incapacitated” and unable to work. Jane is widowed in 1922 and when the Register is taken in September 1939, the two sisters are living together at 27 “Chapel Lane”. The last address for Lizzie in 1955 is given as 25 Chapel Street. Jane departs nine years later from 27 Chapel Street, aged 83.   

1860 Filey · Burial  In 1851, Ann Eliza CUDDEFORD, a single woman from Devon, was enumerated in the household of her married sister Ellen. The head of the household in Church Street, Filey was Benjamin FOWLER, 45, a Ridings Officer. Ellen was eleven years his junior; her sister was 29 years old.

Ann Eliza died on the first day of February 1860; her brother in law on the third of the following month. Ellen lived on for thirty-four more years and did not marry again. A headstone at the west end of the church remembers the trio, and also Jane Smith Fowler, daughter of Benjamin and Ellen.

Shared Tree Benjamin & Ellen

The Ada Puzzle #2

Keen to put Frederick Herbert Horrabin’s gravestone on the Shared Tree, I created a second Ada WHEATLEY today. After marrying the couple and giving them six children, I noticed that the ensuing Blue Hints included a page image of the Crookes Parish Church marriage register.

This was all the evidence I needed to separate the other Ada Wheatley from George Henry. (He is “Meatley” in the FamilySearch transcription, understandably, but look at Ada’s signature.)

I have not yet found the parents of the Ada who married Henry APPLEYARD, but looking more closely at census returns for both Wheatley families shows that they lived in Sheffield within two miles of each other – and the Horrabins.

My fingers are crossed that the Findmypast contributor I messaged will have a solution to the puzzle, but you can see the Horrabin stone as a Memory here.

Path 145 · Long Lane

The Ada Puzzle #1

I made the case on Monday that the Ada who married Henry APPLEYARD was not the daughter of George Henry WHEATLEY and Hannah COLLIS. In the three censuses 1891 to 1911 her calculated birth year is 1866 or 1867 and her birthplace is given as Sheffield. A search for Ada Wheatley in Free BMD, widening the date range  a little to between 1864 and 1868, gives the following return –

There is only one Ada Wheatley born in Sheffield. She is with her parents, George and Hannah, in Nether Hallam, Ecclesall Bierlow, on the census nights of 1871, 1881 and 1891. (Ecclesall Bierlow Registration District was abolished in 1935, becoming part of Sheffield and Chesterfield.) In the September Quarter of 1891 she married Frederick Herbert Horrabin. So, which of the other girls in the above list married Henry Appleyard? Perhaps none of them did. Several hours of searching databases hasn’t made any appear to be a likely candidate. Taking the date, geographical proximity to Sheffield and the absence of a middle name into account, only the Nottingham born daughter of shoemaker Thomas John seems worthy of further investigation. Aged four in 1871, she is with her parents and younger brother Arthur in Stafford. Ten years later an Ada of the right sort of age is an inmate in the Nottingham Workhouse. Alas, her birthplace is given as Sunderland (in County Durham) and is therefore not on the Free BMD list above.

I have made a table showing what I know about the two Misses Ada Wheatley so far, indicating sources and FamilySearch IDs.

 I have messaged someone with a Find My Past connection to Puzzling Ada. Between us we may be able to solve the mystery.

Path 143 · Black Cliff Steps

Hint, Hint

In What Happened to Ada? (15 July), I said that in 1881 she was living with her parents in  Daniel Hill, Sheffield, aged 13. Over the next ten years, her brothers Joe, Clifford, and Lawrence left home, leaving just Ada, 23, and Clara, 21, to be enumerated with their parents, George Henry and Hannah nee COLLIS, in April 1891. Five months later, Ada married Frederick Herbert HORRABIN.

But wait…

This Ada has just one source attached to her details page, the 1887 christening record for her firstborn, Ernest.

Blue Hints on FamilySearch are only as helpful as their triggers allow. There are three for Ada – the census returns for 1871, 1881 and 1891 and, as you would expect, all place her with parents George Henry and Hannah Collis.

Henry Appleyard has hints for the same censuses but, as you can see above, he married in 1885. He is with his parents, Joseph and Ann, in 1871 and 1881 and with Ada in 1891.

Annie is their second child. On this census night, Ernest is with his paternal grandparents in Nottingham Street, Brightside (RG12 3831/117 Page 13).

Here is the Ada who married Frederick Herbert Horrabin in 1891 –

Taking the hints confirms that we are dealing with two women called Ada Wheatley, seemingly born in Sheffield in the same year. But only one, the daughter of George and Hannah, appears in the GRO Births Index.

WHEATLEY, Ada, Mother’s Maiden Surname: COLLIS. GRO Reference: 1867 D Quarter in ECCLESALL BIERLOW Volume 09C Page 286.

The search for the other Ada’s birth family continues.

Abstract 76 · Grasses

From the new path along Short Hedge

What Happened to Ada?

She didn’t make the cut for remembrance on the family headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

Doris and Phyllis Ida are two of the four daughters Ada had with Frederick Herbert. In 1911 the family was complete and living together in Abbeydale Road, Sheffield. Frederick, 44, was working as an Assurance Superintendent and Ada, a year younger, had her hands full with six children, from Sidney, 18, down to Marjorie aged seven.

Thirty years earlier, Ada WHEATLEY, 13, was living with her parents in Daniel Hill, Sheffield, less than two miles from the HORRABIN family. Ada isn’t given an occupation but Frederick, 14, is said to be a “school teacher”. At the end of the year, though, Ada is a witness in the case of The Crown v. Dover. Described as a servant, it isn’t clear whether she was in the full-time employ of Thomas SKINNER, who had died of arsenic poisoning. There is an account of the case on Wikipedia with several photographs, including one of the modest house in which the killing took place. It looks too small to have needed a housekeeper and servants. Thomas has an interesting back story – and a Wikipedia page – but no place on FamilySearch Shared Tree. His killer, under her full name, can be found there, but she only has her father for company.

Ada may have acquired a taste for drama from her participation in the murder trial. She found herself in the newspapers again in 1888.

The Stuart Wortley Working Men’s Club, Daniel Hill – The first entertainment was held at this club on Monday evening. Mr. R. Gleadhill presided, and a very excellent programme was gone through. Mr. Harris, Miss Ada Wheatley, and Mr. J. S. Marshall, assisted by a portion of the Society Minstrel Troupe, gave every satisfaction in rendering their songs, readings, and ballads.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 19 April

I wonder if this is where Frederick first set eyes upon Ada. They were married three years later.

Ada died in the spring of 1941 in Sheffield, aged 73. I don’t know how long Frederick stayed in the city before moving to the coast. His last address is given as 38 The Crescent in the burial register. His spinster daughters died from the house they shared in West Avenue, Doris in 1968 and Phyllis in 1973. I wonder if anyone remembers them – and knows what happened to Ada.

(The guilty Kate Dover didn’t serve her whole of life sentence. She was released from Woking Female Prison about 1895 and must, therefore, have done time with the innocent Florence MAYBRICK. Though the two women had arsenic in common, I can’t imagine them being friends.)

Mark of Man 67 · Churchyard

St Oswald’s, Filey

A Terrible Accident

In several posts last month, I railed against the misappropriation of Colley children in Doncaster, Ecclesfield, Hull and Scawton, and their placement with Skipsea Colleys on the Shared Tree.

A few days ago, while looking through newspapers for coastal Colleys, an inland community caught my eye. Wadsley was the home of one of the Wrong Williams – the Cutler of Ecclesfield. A George Colley, in the same trade and possibly a close relative of William, lost his daughter Elizabeth in sad circumstances.


If the Shared Tree is a reliable source in this instance, the younger sister referred to was Olive/Olivia, aged five and the last of eleven children born to George and Mary ARTRAM. The Colley line has no past beyond George’s father (William!) but the Artrams lead the way to a dozen earlier generations.

George married Mary just two weeks before William the Skipsea bricklayer/mason married Elizabeth Whiting (of Beeford).

More Colley Wobbles

And another contrary Mary.

Francis COLLEY, born in Folkton in 1785, is not related by blood to young Jane LUNDY, the supposed descendant of Boudicca. He had at least nine children with Mary, born Colley, who was also not related to him by blood. All the children entered the world in Filey but on the FamilySearch Shared Tree they had, until yesterday, some younger siblings who were born in Sheffield. Mother Mary would have been sixty-years-old or thereabouts when she gave birth to the last of them.

My breakfast reading at the moment is A Measure of Darkness, by Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman, and this morning I read about the discovery of a dozen credit cards found on the corpse of a Jane Doe. A different name on each card. Clay, our resourceful narrator, begins to search for the owners of the stolen, cloned or faked cards. He opines…

Without a second data point, a name is close to meaningless.

The FamilySearch ‘system’ had a Mary, married to Francis Colley, as the mother on a bunch of christening records. For each, they had another data point – the christening place – but this was ignored. So Filey Mary and Sheffield Mary were treated as one.

I looked for the Sheffield mother’s birth family name and decided it was COCKAYNE. Foolishly, I attached this detail to Sheffield Mary and thereby gave several instances of her Filey counterpart the surname Cockayne. (Both women had several IDs, one for each christening source.)

It took a while to clear up my mess but I think I have left the Sheffield Colleys in reasonable shape. There are some issues that still need to be addressed. Search in Records on FST for Mary Cockayne, born Sheffield in 1800 and the top hit currently shows William Cockayne and Betty as her parents. Clicking on her tree icon returns Filey’s Mary Colley. Mary Cockayne has a different ID and one possible duplicate for a Maria Colley. I don’t know how to fix this bizarre glitch.

If you have linked to the Sheffield Colleys on FST, you will see there are few sources given for the family. Harriet had been given a precise birthdate in 1848, without a source. I have added the GRO registration for 1840. This Harriet did not die in infancy. She went on to marry and is aged 60 in the 1901 census. (She married Marriott HALL on 11 June 1863. On the same day, in the same place, her sister Emily married Leonard COOKE.)

The apparent firstborn, Francis William, has a christening source but awaits his bride, Sarah BANKS (possibly MP6P-BVS). The marriage took place in 1857 when Francis William and Jonathan worked in their father’s Leather business. Francis senior employed 11 men in 1851 and the firm advertised a number of times for journeymen curriers over the next ten years. But in 1861 the father is listed in the census as “Out of Business”. Jonathan remains in the family home, aged 28 and unmarried, described as a Leather Dealer. A bit more research revealed that the partnership of father and two sons was dissolved by mutual consent on the last day of 1859. Jonathan continued to run the company under its original name, Francis Colley & Sons.

In the 1850s, Francis senior’s name appears a number of times in the local newspapers, sometimes twinned with that of his brother in law. In the Election for Sheffield Guardians in 1857, Thomas Bagshaw Cockayne came ninth in the race and Francis tenth. Both just missed out, as because only eight Guardians were elected. Twelve years later, both men were re-elected as Directors of the Sheffield Waterworks Company.

Returning to the coast and the other Francis and Mary. Six of their nine known children died in infancy. Although Filey Genealogy & Connections denies a blood relationship, the marriage record shows they were from the same parish. Love is perhaps blind to the size of gene pools. The three that survived childhood married. I don’t think I have all the offspring of these unions yet: five to John Colley and Martha PRETTY, and two to Jane (the second) and Robert Benjamin FOWLER. It seems that Robert Colley and Betsy HARPER, marrying in their mid-forties, left it too late to start a family.

Today’s Image

I don’t have a picture to illustrate the Colley story, but I offer a Glamour shot instead. The white glint on the horizon of the Filey Sands photo is the Vos Glamour. She looks somewhat raddled – handheld in poor light with the point and shoot at max zoom. Plenty of pictures online though – and I found this short YT video mesmerising. Oddly, Ship AIS had her down as a Passenger/Ferry. Fake Shipping News.


What Happened to Henry?

In the May 19 post A Mystery Pearson, I mentioned my failure to find any online sources referring to Henry DUFFILL, other than the civil marriage registration in the 4th Quarter of 1874. This is slightly embroidered by a brief Scarborough Mercury notice, dated 10 October –

On the 6th inst., at Murray-street Chapel, Filey, by the Rev. Stephen Cox, Mr. Henry Duffill, of Farnhill, near Leeds, to Miss Elizabeth Ann Pearson, of Filey.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve looked for him again and come up with nothing. I have no idea when or where he was born and know only that he died between 6 October 1874 and 5 April 1891 when his 44-year-old widow, Elizabeth Ann, was enumerated at the lodging house she kept in Trafalgar Square, Scarborough. Her lone boarder, John G. Brewin, 27, is listed as a “Certificate Teacher of Elementary School”. He would marry Ruth BURROWS later in the year and be a father of two by 1901, and Headmaster of a Scarborough Board School.

20190929TrafalgarSq70_GSVIn 1911, Elizabeth was still in Trafalgar Square (at No. 70, inset) with another lone boarder, Fred WRIGHT, 24, a Coal Merchant’s I didn’t find the Headmaster on the Shared Tree, but this link will take you to Fred. The Find My Past transcription of the census entry says he was born in “Beatlerton”. I have taken this to be Brotherton, which is just down the road from Ferry Fryston – in Selby Coalfield country. I wonder if he knew anything about his 17th-century forebears on his mother’s side.

Elizabeth may have been a handsome 44-year-old, and a merry widow. I must own up to wondering if she might have, erm, had a relationship with the teacher. I have just added her dates to the Shared Tree, and they triggered a “blue hint” recording John Brewin as the first beneficiary of her will. Over thirty years had passed…

Henry remains a mystery. I thought he might be hiding behind mangled spellings of his name, but registrars in Hull in the 1870s seem to have had no difficulty recording the children of half a dozen or more Duffill families. I have yet to see a government source pinning a Henry Duffill to Leeds, let alone Farnhill. Anyway, I have given him an ID and one day, maybe, someone will sketch his life.

A Very Special Lady

There are hundreds of small memorial plaques scattered around Filey. If they were all transcribed and digitized they would make up a database of people, visitors mostly, who loved the town. If their native places were to be found, an interesting distribution map might be drawn, showing Filey’s “hinterland of attraction”.

The first plaque I noticed on my morning walk today gently asked me to remember Margery Joan RABJOHN.


I was taken initially by her year of birth. She shares 1926 with the scum of the earth I wrote about yesterday so her specialness was a welcome restorative (of faith in human nature). Her family has chosen the Parish Wood as a place of remembrance.

With such an unusual name, I thought it would be easy to find Margery and her forebears.

A quick online search failed to turn up a “meaning” for the name. Ancestry’s 1891 distribution map showed an absence of Rabjohns in Yorkshire but another site remarked that there are still a lot of them living in South Yorkshire.

Margery was born a DEAR, to Thomas and his wife Dorothy M. CARTHEW in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I struggled to find her DEAR forebears so turned to her husband, Ronald. He was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire!, in 1924 to Percy and Minnie RABJOHN. Yes, Minnie was born a Rabjohn. I haven’t put my findings in a family tree program but, despite the rarity of the name, I would expect this couple not to be related by blood.

Percy’s parents were William RABJOHN and Eliza Ann EYRE, who married in Sheffield in 1869.

Minnie’s parents were George Charles RABJOHN and Sarah NORTON, who also married in Sheffield but later, in 1882.

At the start of the Second World War Ronald was approaching his fifteenth birthday and working as a Gas Fitter’s apprentice. His father, Percy, had spent some time in the Navy but in 1939 was doing heavy work as a Boiler Fireman. The family was enumerated at 231 Crookesmoore Road, Sheffield.

I found some sources for these Rabjohns on FamilySearch but none had a hoped-for “tree symbol” attached. One should not give up hope in such circumstances. FamilySearch has a quirky way of hiding people. Well, it is more likely that the failing, if it can be called such, is with the searcher’s methodology. When I approached from a different direction I found George Charles straight away on the tree – as Charles George RabJohn.

I spent some time looking in newspaper archives for Margery Joan without success. I’m sure she WAS very special, but perhaps in a low key way, to a select group of friends and family. There is, of course, every chance that she left a considerable mark that my amateurish search failed to uncover. Whatever, I enjoyed my time today with this stranger met by chance in a Filey wood.