Geoffrey, Lost at Sea


BradleyG2There are 13 people born BRADLEY in Filey Genealogy & Connections but none are Samuel, Jack or Geoffrey. The family remembered in Filey churchyard is not yet represented on the FamilySearch Tree. Geoffrey’s name does, however, appear on the War Memorial in Murray Street – and on the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill in London.

The official record and the family headstone say he died on the 11th July but he lived for about two hours of the twelfth day. Two torpedoes from U-582 struck the SS Port Hunter at 01.47 hours, west-southwest of Madeira. Explosions ripped the vessel apart and she sank in a couple of minutes. Three men who were sleeping on deck were blown into the sea and rescued a few hours later. Sixty-eight crew members, 14 gunners and five passengers were lost “presumed drowned”. (Some would have been killed in the explosions.)

Geoffrey was an apprentice in the Merchant Navy, 17 years old. The master of Port Hunter was John Bentham BRADLEY. I have spent some time gathering Geoffrey’s forebears but, so far, haven’t discovered that they are related.

Geoffrey’s birth was registered in Scarborough but his father was a Lincolnshire lad. His mother, Hannah, was a SMITH and has so far evaded capture. She was Samuel’s second wife. He first married Lusianna ROBINSON in Boston, Lincolnshire, in 1888. I found eight children in Boston born to a Bradley/Robinson couple in the GRO Online Index but the 1911 transcription on Find My Past states they had 7 children in 23 years of marriage, one of whom had died.

Lusianna (various spellings) died in late 1917, aged 50. Samuel married Hannah Elizabeth SMITH in the summer of 1919, in Boston. Jack was born two years later and Geoffrey in the last quarter of 1925.

I have some information for about thirty of Geoffrey’s ancestors. FamilySearch has records for most of them but I have found just three on the World Tree thus far. It’s a start.


Wharton SMITH was baptized at St. Oswald’s, Filey on this day 1879. The eighth child of Robert Smith and Zillah Agar SUGGIT he went to South Africa and became a farmer.  Robert had moved from Hunmanby to farm at Church Cliff and when he died in 1890 his second son, Tom, became “master”.  In 1897 Tom employed a “quiet steady lad” of about twenty called Edwin JOHNSON as a foreman. He worked well until harvest time the following year and one day refused to work as instructed. He asked to be paid off, went to Scarborough, bought a revolver and the next evening returned to Church Cliff and fired a shot at farm labourer Matthew Milner who, he claimed, had taken his job. As this “shooting incident” began to unfold Wharton confronted the gunman who said to him, “You needn’t be frightened; it’s not you I’m going to hurt.” Wharton, who was described in newspaper reports as a draper, ran to fetch the police. He returned with P.C. WILES who asked Johnson, “What is the matter?” Edwin, said, “What do you want? It is all right,” lifted his arm, put the barrel to his own head and pulled the trigger.

FamilySearch Tree suggests that Edwin died about 1900 but a couple of records I have found today suggest he lived to the age of 91. He carried the bullet around in his head all that time but kept the sight in one eye that enabled him to work as an agricultural labourer for most of his life. The judge, convinced he would go blind, passed a merciful sentence at trial, binding him over in the sum of £10 to be of good behavior and to “come up for judgment if called upon”.

kwss_22_WhartonSmith79_Wharton, two years younger than the unfortunate Edwin, isn’t readily found on FST. I gave his father a wife a few weeks ago and will put the children on the Tree tomorrow. Before he departed for South Africa, Wharton was photographed at the Studio of E. STEAD in Aberdeen Walk, rather neatly turned out as you would expect of a draper’s assistant. He married Christine DREYER and three children were born in SA, all with Agar as a middle name. The Agar/Smith/Suggits are well represented on FG&C and I have a number of photographs kindly donated to LaF by James Suggit and anonymous family members via Kath (Gomersall) Wilkie which I will share in the coming months. Below is a picture of Wharton in his later years.


Update 28 August

I added the children of Robert SMITH and Zillah Agar SUGGIT to FamilySearch tree today, plus the photo of young Wharton and a photo of the headstone remembering Robert, his wife and three of their daughters. The FST ‘system’ offered a hint which proved to be a record of Wharton’s death in Bloemfontein in 1975.

This morning I photographed Church Cliff House, formerly the Smith’s home, and made it ‘Today’s Image’.

Miss Hankes

Re-posted from Looking at Filey 20 July 2012

Hilda Charlotte HANKES was eighty-six years old when she died in Scarborough in 1962. The available public records don’t give any clues to the reasons why she did not marry. They do, however, indicate that she was something of a catch. Age 24 at the 1901 Census, she was “living on [her] own means”.

The HANKES money was made in salt. Her father, William, was described as a Salt Dealer in 1861 and a Salt Merchant in 1871. In 1881, though, he was a “Retired Farmer” and only 44 years of age. He seems to have filled his days of early retirement by joining several Filey Societies and serving on a number of committees. At the Filey Horticultural and Horse Show in August 1881 he was a Steward in the Foals and Leapers Department with Messrs Robson, Scrivener, Haworth, Birch and Maley. In May 1882 he proposed the vote of thanks to Captain RIDDELL who had given a lecture on the Afghan War at the Spa Saloon, in aid of the Church Schools. In August that year he was Honorary Secretary of the local committee of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and in March 1883 was elected chairman for that year’s Filey Show. At the end of the year he was a prime mover in reviving cricket in Filey. The sport had been dormant for years “for want of a suitable field” but as Honorary Secretary of the new club William helped to secure land in one of the best parts of town, watched the creation of the pitch and must have looked forward to many a summer afternoon, playing the game perhaps or watching.  He may have enjoyed a match or two but died in September 1884, when he was just 48 and his only child eight years old.

Hilda’s mother, Caroline Mary nee FREUND, was well provided for but she also died relatively young, in 1898.  Hilda found herself an orphan at twenty-two. She seems, however, to have been a young woman of intellectual as well as material substance. In Edwardian Filey she features many times in the local newpapers. Her appearances in “theatrical entertainments” were often in partnership with a Mrs Horsfield, “two very clever exponents of the historic art” one newspaper report proclaimed. Occasionally these performances were given for good causes and in January 1909, “as a result of the recent theatricals at Filey”, Hilda gave £6 11s to the Rev A. N. COOPER “for the soup kitchen”. The following month she was in the company that performed “A Sensational Case” in aid of the Free Breakfast Fund. Towards the end of the year she was one of a group of people who procured for St John’s Church “a small, portable American organ” for use at daily services, classes and meetings held in the large vestry. It would appear that Hilda was settling in for a long but fulfilled spinsterhood. It was not all play acting, though. In October 1909 the Scarborough Mercury reported on the Quarterly Council Meeting in Cardiff of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, noting that H. C. Hankes was Hon Sec of the Filey W.S.S.

The Scarborough Evening News of 22nd July 1901 reported on another of Hilda’s interests.

Field Naturalists

Last Saturday afternoon [20th] some of the members of the Filey Field Naturalists Club made an excursion to the cliffs at Bempton. Their visit was well timed, as the cliff-climbers having ceased work the week before, the birds were very tame, and allowed the members to get quite near to them without betraying any alarm. The ledges and crevices of the cliffs were full of sea-birds; indeed, in many places it was quite impossible for even one more to find a resting-place, and the visitors spent a long time observing them from different points of vantage, and gained much information about the different kinds of birds and their habits, etc. The weather was brilliantly fine, and a most enjoyable afternoon was spent. The secretary is Miss Hilda Hankes, Upcliffe House, Filey, who will be glad to receive the names of those wishing to join. A programme of the excursions proposed for the next few weeks will soon be issued.

I don’t have the evidence but I suspect Hilda’s love of “the natural world” sustained her throughout her long and husband-less life. There may be people reading this who remember her.

A bit of an update

Hilda’s mother was one of the FREUNDs I wrote about last month. Caroline Mary is on FST (M9HG-NQY) but only tied to the record of her first marriage to Newman ELDERS. He died in 1869 and Caroline Mary married William HANKES two years later. Hilda had a half sister, Mary Freund ELDERS, born 1867 in Reighton. Neither girl appears to be represented on FST.

Yesterday I photographed the Celtic Cross that marks the grave of Hilda and her mother but I prefer the pictures I made five years ago. Here’s looking at the Cross from both sides then.

D8_HANKES celticCrossF&B_s

D8 Celtic cross


born December 27th 1840 died August 22nd 1898

HILDA CHARLOTTE HANKES daughter, born July 9th 1876, died Sept 10th 1962

Hilda went to live with her half-sister after their mother died. Mary Freund ELDERS married Robert William SMITH in 1892 and at the 1901 Census they were living at 7 Murray Street with their 6 year old daughter Mildred Mary, Hilda and two servants. The arrangement must have suited because ten years later Hilda was with them at 14 Southdene and still “living on her own means”. (Mildred was absent on that Census night, possibly away at school.) Over the next 25 years or so Hilda must have become restless – or perhaps her own means had run out – because at the Register taken at the start of the Second World War she was working as a librarian, 63 years old – and still living with Robert William, Mary and Mildred, at 21 Southdene. (The Public Library was situated at the other end of the street, a couple of minutes walk away.)

21 Southdene