An Unfortunate Steamer


Wreck Site has eight photographs of Laura in her distress 120 years ago. There are few accounts of the event readily available online and I have yet to find one that names anyone involved in the stranding – crew, rescuers, salvage men.

Occasionally the sand is scoured to reveal what remains of Laura’s ribs but most of the time low tide offers only the boilers and sternpost. Not much to see, but I can’t imagine anyone walks by without having a nose around.

A couple of short videos on YouTube give a drone’s eye view of the wreck in its geographical and historical context, here and here.


Too Many Cooks

On the 22nd October 1915, the Scarborough Mercury reported that Percy COOK, confectioner of West Avenue, Filey,  had been fined 10 shillings at the Police Court for “not having had lights properly shaded”. (I guess the authorities were afraid of Zeppelin raids and needed to set an example.)

Life was sweets for Percy and his occupation should have earned him the respect of the town’s children. It seems to have done the opposite. A few years ago Martin Douglas told me of a nasty rhyme that urchins would hurl at Percy. (Martin heard it from his mother.) They would enter his shop, chant the verse and make a quick exit, pursued by Percy.

Percy Cook said come and have a look

At my old chocolate shop,

The scales are rusty,

The chocolates are fusty,

And you’ve gone off yer nut.

(Not the best advertisement for British education if the last line referred to Percy’s mental state.)

Percy died in 1944, almost twenty years after his wife Mary Jane née MOODY. The couple married late, aged 33 and 40 respectively, and did not have little angels of their own.


In loving memory of MARY, beloved wife of PERCY COOK, entered into rest Sep. 27th 1925, aged 57.

Go thou improve the present hour,

Be thankful for the past,

And let thy future movement tend

To calm and soothe the last.

Also of the above PERCY COOK, died June 10th 1944, aged 71.

On Filey Genealogy & Connections Percy stands alone. He was one of at least eight children born to John Frederick Cook, a cashier and bookkeeper, and Catherine JOHNSON. At the 1911 Census, remarkably, six of the siblings were living together at 1 St Paul’s Road in Bradford. All were unmarried. Ten years earlier, widowed Catherine ruled a roost of seven children, one of them Percy, at Cliff Bridge Place, Scarborough. He was the only one to fly the nest during the next decade.

So, why too many Cooks, given this generation’s unwillingness to submit to the genetic imperative? Well, an hour or two of sleuthing, brings in 15 MOODYs, who connect with several Filey fishing families (BAYES, COWLING, SCALES). FG &C has these folk but to check them all out on FamilySearch Tree and add the West Riding COOKs is a daunting task.

I noticed in passing one source that elaborated on the Bradford address, labeling it “Manningham Hall”. This seemed rather grand and I wondered if our humble confectioner had been something of a black sheep. In 1901 his sister Evelin (various spellings) was pursuing the same trade but ten years later told the census enumerator that she was a lodging house keeper.  A younger brother headed the St Paul’s household in 1911 and the Find My Past transcription gives his occupation as a “Trains Merchant”. Inspection of the page image reveals he dealt in pianos, as did brother Vernon William Alexander. A noble occupation, romantic even, but the world was changing and in 1939 Sydney had to file for bankruptcy.


I looked again for a foothold on FamilySearch Tree and found Mary Jane MOODY Cook’s mother, Ann KNAGGS. Someone to build on…another day, perhaps.

A few words about Today’s Image. The concrete jumble below Flat Cliffs/Primrose Valley Holiday Park is the remains of a short promenade that was, I think, still functional in the 1950s. I have seen an old postcard showing an ice cream van parked on it. I haven’t discovered the purpose of the concrete “rings” yet. Someone must know.

Baby Boomers


Frank GRICE didn’t make it over the “trauma hump”. Nowadays the increasing probability of dying between the ages of 15 and 25 is mostly associated with accidents (young drivers killing themselves and their friends) but a check on causes of death graphs for 1891-1900, for age range 15 to 24, show it is likely that Frank succumbed to phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis). For males in this cohort violent death is the second biggest killer. I found no news report of his accidental death in the Scarborough Mercury; there wasn’t even a death notice.

The fine stone in Filey churchyard remembers him, his parents and three siblings who died in infancy. He was eleven when Dickinson died aged about a month and fourteen when Alice departed a week after her first birthday. George William died ten years before Frank was born.


On FamilySearch it appears that Frank was the firstborn of Richard GRICE [MGPK-XBQ] and Hannah BOWMAN [K8HF-2DR]. Not so. Kath’s Filey Genealogy & Connections has eleven children and maybe that is all of them.

Richard and Hannah have a different ID on the (Wiki) Tree for each of the children that have a baptismal record picked up by “the system”. Were the others not baptised?

I checked the births of Grice children in the Scarborough Registration District who had a mother called BOWMAN and found only five. They were not the five on FST.

The mother’s maiden name for the firstborn (George William the First) was recorded and/or transcribed as BOWMER, as was child 8, Fanny. Children 2, 3, 4 and 7 were born to mother BOOMER. Francis (Frank) was an odd child out in that his mother was a BOWMAN but his father a GRACE!

This begs the question, “Are these baby Boomers on FST?” They are not, so perhaps they were not baptised – or their baptismal record has slipped through the FST net. Kate was a BOOMER but she is on FST as a BOWMAN [MV83-2XY] though without  a christening source attached.

A month or so ago I had no idea how useful the GRO Online Index was for enabling the completion of family units. Then I happened upon Kathryn Grant’s BYU Webinar titled Finding a Woman’s Maiden Name Using the GRO Site. My research life will never be the same again.

If you are a Yorkshire Coast GRICE and are interested in expanding Richard and Hannah’s family on FST I suggest you begin by removing the parental Dupe records and then turn to Filey Genealogy & Connections for help. George William the Second married into a Filey family that will take you back further than a founding father of the Filey JENKINSON dynasty – Robert [K8H1-45C].



Today’s Image (previous post) was taken from one of the nicely mown paths on the Reighton Sands Holiday Park. In less than an hour you could stroll to the base of the chalk cliffs straight ahead (except at high tide) but your route must be circuitous if you heed warning notices on the perimeter of the wooded valley. Follow the green line on the Google Earth satellite view below to get down to Speeton Sands in relative safety. The steps at the top of the cliff are steep and the slope near the bottom slippery when wet. The bit in the middle, part of the old Donkey Trod, I think, is lovely in summer. (There was a trade in coprolites for a short time in the mid-19th century and donkeys carried the fossilized poop of large sea reptiles and fishes up to the railway for onward transport to Hull.)