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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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