‘He Opened Africa’s Skyways’

This is the inscription on the headstone of John WILLIAMSON in Cape Town’s Maitland Cemetery. Born Filey in 1895 he must have spent quite a few years in South Africa. Skyways can’t be opened in a hurry, surely.

John was one of the unlucky generation, called upon to fight for the elites in the worst of wars. I haven’t been able to confirm it yet, but I think he served as a motor mechanic in the infant Royal Air Force between 1915 and 1918. There is circumstantial evidence that he migrated to South Africa shortly after the end of the First World War and was serving in the South Africa Air Force when the Second began. His brief service details on the CWGC website reveal that he was known as “John Billie”. Plain “John” when his birth was registered, his father was a John William, a more likely reason for the diminutive, perhaps, than the surname.

I haven’t found a marriage for John in the UK but an online search found a possible daughter in law in the Capetown suburb where he lived with his wife ‘C. M.’ Cato ‘Dinky’ Williamson née LADAN, was the sister of sculptor Eduard Louis LADAN (1918? – 1992). She was one of South Africa’s first female pilots. Eduard served in the SAAF in the Second World War and was rewarded for distinguished services in the King’s Birthday Honours in 1943.

John is remembered on the Filey War Memorial in Murray Street and on a family headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

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And their dear son, Lt. JOHN WILLIAMSON S.A.A.F., died July 22nd 1942 aged 46, buried at Capetown, S.A.

‘Loved, honoured and remembered.’

The family is represented on the FamilySearch Tree but the pedigree is limited to just five generations of his direct male line.

Today’s Image

The mysterious algal bloom is back on the boating lake. Last evening it covered about three-quarters of the lake surface, a mosaic of slimy green ‘floes’. The wind overnight had pushed these to the eastern end, up against the retaining wall.

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When I photographed today’s star duckling I didn’t notice the lump on its back. I guess compromised nature will have to take its course.

The Beaumonts of Where?

Henry Reginald Tyrell Clare BEAUMONT was buried this day 1900 in St Oswald’s churchyard. I have been unable to link  Henry with certainty to any action in South Africa but his regiment, The Buffs, was at Spion Kop and the Relief of Kimberley. The latter event took place between the 11th and 15th February 1900, giving the poor chap time to fall ill and make his way back to England to die at the end of May. One has to wonder, though, at the time it would have taken to make that journey, and the earlier trip home to marry in 1899.

I haven’t managed to find out whether he married Rachel or Constance. I thought it would be an easy discovery to make, with a Census following only fifteen months or so later. It appears, though, to be a BEAUMONT family habit to dodge the census enumerators, even offering misleading names now and again. More confusing still, some of the birth registrations for Beaumont offspring don’t fit neatly into the available census families.

It was a help to stumble upon The Tathams of County Durham, a pedigree that included Henry’s parents. His father, Joseph Tyrrel BEAUMONT, married Hilda Gertrude TATHAM about ten years after Emily OLDROYD died. It doesn’t, however, answer most of the questions regarding the children of Joseph Tyrrel Beaumont and his father, also Joseph.

This branch of the Beaumonts seems to have rooted in the West Riding, in the Huddersfield and Mirfield areas. Emily was from Dewsbury. Joseph senior married Maria BRITAIN and her ties to Ripon may explain a Beaumont shift towards Harrogate.  Both generations, though, have handsome headstones in a Filey churchyard, even though Joseph senior seems to be the only one to have died in the town.

These Beaumonts clearly had an affection for Filey but kept a fairly low profile here. In 1871 Joseph and Maria were living on The Crescent. Ten years later, Maria was a widow and had downsized, marginally perhaps, to St Martin’s Villa, which she shared with spinster daughter Anne. Maria died in Boston Spa and Anne in Harrogate. Both are remembered on the marble cross in St Oswald’s churchyard.  I photographed it in drizzle and terrible light this afternoon so have chosen to render it rather gloomily. When the sun next shines I’ll make a photo that can be uploaded to FST. Joseph senior and Maria aren’t represented there yet and the younger Joseph doesn’t have all his children or his second wife. The soldier is here.

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Sacred to the memory of JOSEPH BEAUMONT, Esq., who died at Filey, July 23 1880, in the 70th year of his age.

R.I.P.

Also to MARIA, beloved wife of the above, who passed away June 28th 1892.

‘The Lord is my shepherd’

In loving memory of ANNE, eldest daughter of JOSEPH BEAUMONT, Esq, who entered into rest 11th November 1902.

Three Soldiers

For three young men with Filey connections, a 30th of May would be their last day.

SpionKopSAStephenson Warcup CAPPLEMAN was born in the town in 1872 and, at the age of 28, found himself in “Zululand” with the King’s Royal Rifles. I’m speculating that he was on Spion Kop and at Ladysmith in January but the inscription on the family headstone in St Oswald’s places him at Vryheid at the end of May. Like so many other British soldiers in the Boer War, he succumbed to the enteric fever. (Regimental history online.)

Stephenson is on FST but the system has given him the wrong mother. FG&C seems to be more reliable.

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In loving memory of JOHN P. CAPPLEMAN, who died Feb 26th 1899, aged 57 years.

Also SUSANNA his wife, who died May 24th 1898, aged 60 years.

‘Kind thoughts shall ever linger

Round the graves where they are laid’

Also STEPHENSON W. CAPPLEMAN their son, late King’s R. Rifles, died of enteric fever at Vryheid, South Africa, May 30 1900 aged 28 years.

‘Oh how hard not a friend of his own to be near

To hear his last sigh or to watch his last tear

No parting, no farewell, no fond word of love

To cheer his last moments or point him above’

Richard Haxby PEARSON was born in Chapel Street, Filey in 1895. He has a quite extensive pedigree on FG&C but has yet to be linked to scattered forebears on FST. In the Great War, he served with the second-line 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment and died before he was sent to France in July 1916. I have not found his service records online and he has a civil death registration. I photographed the modest cross in a grey, damp churchyard this afternoon, with the following inscription (in part):-

In loving memory of RICHARD HAXBY PEARSON, the beloved son of FRANK AND MARY PEARSON, died May 30 1916, aged 20 years.

‘Too dearly loved to be forgotten

Died for his country’

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Harry GRANT completes the trio.

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“With pride we remember son of above” has to be set alongside Harry’s very sparse Index entry at CWGC, given that both parents “fell asleep” in the 1950s.

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The family isn’t recorded on FG&C and initial research suggests that Harry was one of three children born to Tom TOWNEND during Hannah COULSON’s first marriage. On the 1911 Census return, he is given as Sam’s son but named as Harry TOWNEND. His birth was registered, as Henry, in Holbeck in the summer of 1899.  Samuel had two natural children in 1911, James (2) and Edna (newborn). Edna would almost make her century.

Even if you have only a short-term memory, the date of Harry’s death may remind you of George DOUGLAS. The 1st Lincolnshires took part in the Third Battle of the Aisne and  Harry GRANT is remembered on the Soissons Memorial. I wonder if Harry met George and swapped Filey reminiscences.

Witness

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.

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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’.