Lost from the Drifter ‘Joan Margaret’

In 1941 Joan Margaret was destroyed by an exploding  German mine in the Humber estuary. Five Filey men were killed. They were Anniversary People last year and I promised to post a reprint of an old Looking at Filey article that can’t now be accessed on the British Library Web Archive. Better late than never, perhaps…

Wednesday 13 June 2012

‘Joan Margaret’ Revisited

I wrote about the fishing boat Joan Margaret last year on the anniversary of her sinking in the Humber. She had apparently struck an enemy mine but that may not have been the true story.

The Scarborough Mercury of Friday, 21st March 1941 had this brief report: –

Four Filey Seamen Lost

News has been received in Filey that four local seamen have lost their lives and one has been injured on Admiralty service.

The four men lost were as follows: – two brothers, George Robert Pearson, 12 Queen Street and Thomas E. Pearson, 98 Newlands, Richard Haxby, 5 Newthorpe and John W. Powley, 18 Queen Street.

The injured man is George Willis, 2 Ebenezer Terrace.

I looked carefully in later issues but found no further reports and wondered if there had been a news “blackout”. I mentioned this to Martin a couple of weeks ago and on Saturday he gave me a couple of photos to scan and two letters he had received about ten years ago from Joan Sewell, who was researching the tragedy – because she had been named after the boat. In these letters, Joan referred to another vessel, the Gloaming, which sunk in the same explosion with the loss of yet more lives.

Four years ago “Joff” appealed to other members of the Ships Nostalgia website for help in locating a photo of Gloaming, a herring drifter. His uncle, William S. REDGRAVE, engineman, was one of the men aboard who were killed. The others were Charles A. LITTLE, Second Hand and Robert SWANN, Ordinary Seaman Cook. Gloaming was also on Admiralty Service and the crew’s Royal Naval Patrol Service numbers can be found here.

It seems that Joan shared her research discoveries with a good friend, Mary Grant of Saltburn by Sea and in The Joan Margaret Story, published in Down Your Way “Yorkshire’s Nostalgic Magazine” [link now broken], Mary wrote –

The Yorkshire Bell (sic), with three Filey men on board, helped with the rescue. It was believed

at the time that the engine had triggered off the mine, but according to a book written by J

P Foynes: “The minesweeper Fitzgerald was sailing in the vicinity of Cleeness Light Float,

Humber Estuary, when she sank the little net Vessel Gloaming and the civil defence smack Joan Margaret by inadvertently triggering an acoustic mine near them.”

(The yacht, Yorkshire Belle, was herself mined at the mouth of the Humber about three weeks later, on the 11th of April.)

One of the illustrations in this article is a copy of a typed note with an East Riding Constabulary Police Station date stamp (22 March 1941) giving a more accurate casualty list than had appeared in the newspapers the previous day. The information had been provided by George BEE of Grimsby, owner of the motor boat Joan Margaret. It reveals that only the bodies of George PEARSON and Richard HAXBY were recovered. Thomas PEARSON, George WILLIS and Jack POWLEY were also killed and “James Johnston BROIGHT (sic), 13 Church Street, Filey, seriously injured and now in the Naval Hospital, Grimsby”. Mary Grant says that Jimmy BRIGHT lived until September 1996.

In this photo, Thomas Edmond PEARSON, aged about 22, is standing behind Robert ‘Chorus’ CAMMISH’s Bath Chair.

Photographer unknown, abt 1931, courtesy of Martin Douglas

The seated men are, from left, Bob ‘Codge’ CAMMISH, ‘Tommy Chicken’, ‘Jossie’ JENKINSON, ‘Fatty’ CAMMISH and ‘Jackdaw’ JOHNSON.

Another of Mary Grant’s article illustrations is this photo of Joan Margaret in Grimsby Dock (I guess), having its compass adjusted.

Photographer unknown, abt 1934, courtesy of Martin Douglas

Joan suggests the date for the photo and names the crew in one of the letters to Martin. (The name of the compass adjuster isn’t known.) From left: Richard ‘Dick’ WILLIS, Bob ‘Cock Robin’ HAXBY, Tommy WILLIS (in wheelhouse), George Robert PEARSON (back of wheelhouse) and, sat down at the side of the wheelhouse, Paul ‘Hobby’ ROBINSON. Suzanne Pollard nee ROBINSON told me recently that her Granddad Paul was a member of the crew on Joan Margaret’s last trip but was taken ill and sent home. (Jimmy Bright only survived the explosion because he had “gone top side for a smoke and was blown clear”.)

Here is a photo of Joan Margaret going about her peaceful business.

Photographer unknown, no date, courtesy Martin Douglas

The family headstones in St Oswald’s Churchyard

Crimlisk Survey 1977 with some additions.

Row 11 | 1930 Haxby E102

In loving memory of RICHARD HAXBY, killed by enemy action 20th March 1941, aged 36.

‘Love’s last gift

Also of his parents, ROBERT, lost at sea 23rd March 1911, aged 43.

ELIZA, died 29th July 1944, aged 72.

Also, WILLIAM WATKINSON, died 2nd Jan 1934 aged 85.

Row 6 1834 Pearson F71 Granite

In loving memory of my dear husband, GEORGE R. PEARSON, killed by enemy action, 20th March 1941, aged 36.

‘Treasured in memory’

Also, FANNY ELIZABETH PEARSON, died 5th April 1985, aged 83.

Row 6 | 1833 Pearson F69 | Kerb

F40b Add – new headstone within kerb – A Filey Fishing Family

GEORGE PEARSON (1880 – 1935)

& MILCAH NEE HOPE (1879 – 1930)

Their Children










Row 6 | 1833 Pearson F69b |  Open Book

Row 32 |661 Willis G532

In loving memory of HARRY WILLIS, died 5th March 1936, aged 35.

Also of GEORGE, his brother, killed by enemy action 20th March 1941, aged 44.

‘Thy will be done’

An Attempted Catch-Up

Horace Percy HOWARD died on this date in 2002 at the age of 90. At the start of the Second World War, he was a shepherd, living in Burton Fleming with his first wife Mary. Mary, only 53 when she died, was an Anniversary Person last year (AP 449 · death · 16 March) but I did not have time then to present the headstone that remembers them both.

The East Yorkshire Family History Society Survey records a vase on the grave –

HORACE/ devoted husband of AUDREY./ A true gentleman./sadly missed.

Audrey Brenda TYSON was a widow when she married Horace at Filey Methodist Church in October 1980 and she is also remembered on a family headstone with three Anniversary People, Duke CARTER (AP 1969 · death · 17 November) and married couple William TYSON (AP 625 · marriage · 14 April) and Emily ABBOTT. I failed (again) to post information and photographs.

Horace is without forebears, children or Audrey on the Shared Tree. I made some progress today, finding his parents – the intriguing Archie Edward (or Edwin) from Norfolk and Jane FILEY (or FALEY) – but again ran out of time.

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.

Life Long Friends

Row 4 1121 Brown D52

In memory of FRANCES MARY BROWN, beloved daughter of Wm. BROWN, M.D., died February 14th 1924, aged 78 years.

Also of SARAH HANNAH STEAD, the lifelong friend of the above, died April 1st 1936 in her 93rd year.

‘They have done what they could’

Crimlisk Survey 1977

Frances and Sarah were children of the Holderness Plain, born about 25 miles apart. Frances has proved to be adept at avoiding the census limelight. I found her in only one census out of the eight she lived through. In 1891 she was enumerated at the Stead family home in Beverley. Twenty years earlier the house in Willow Grove was headed by widow Ann Stead and sheltered Sarah’s younger sisters Emma Mary and Christiana. In 1891 Christiana was the sole occupant, though she had a visitor on census night – Frances Mary Brown. So, Frances knew the family for many years but I didn’t find a source that placed her with Sarah at any time. We only have the stone. Its assertion that the spinsters did “what they could” begs an obvious question. Frances, I hope, was a good nurse. Sarah may have had plenty of free time to do “good works” – in six censuses that took a snapshot of her, five didn’t give her an occupation. In 1911 though, she wrote on her form that she was a Retired Nurse. She was living alone on Norman Avenue, two hundred metres from Frances.

The headstone gives the impression that they are together for eternity but this may not be the case. The St Oswald’s burial register gives 2, Granville Road, Filey as the last address for Frances – in the Street View below it is the house with satellite dishes, second from the right.

Sarah’s last address was in York but she died in Gloucestershire.

There is a photograph of the Old Mill in Oakridge Lynch here.

I don’t know if Frances had siblings. Emma Mary was the only Stead sister who married and she chose a 41-year-old widower as her helpmeet. Sarah was the last surviving Stead sister. The three did not create any children so I wonder who erected the headstone. William Brown the Chemist, I guess.

Lovely Flowers, So Young and Fair

Francis RICHARDSON and Mary, his wife have just one child on the Shared Tree. The GRO Births Index indicates the existence of five more and they may have had a seventh child – before they married.

The parents buried their two youngest children in 1862.

59 Richardson B17   

In affectionate remembrance of the beloved children of FRANCIS and MARY RICHARDSON, JANE ANN who died March 16th 1862, aged 1 year and 8 months.

Also, FRANCIS, who died November 28th 1862, aged 1 year and 3 months.

‘Those lovely flowers so young and fair

Called to an early tomb

Just came to see how sweet such flowers

In Paradise would bloom.’

Also of the above FRANCIS RICHARDSON, Master Mariner, who died Feb 13th 1883, aged 62 years.

Also of MARY his wife, who died April 27th 1895, aged 71 years.

Both interred at Cardiff.

‘Their warfare is accomplished’

Crimlisk Survey 1977

I failed to find a birth registration for Mary Ann in or about 1843. She appears in George CHEW’s household in 1851.

Here are some sources that may help to grow the family on the Shared Tree.

Francis RICHARDSON senior


RICHARDSON, Francis, Age at Death (in years): 62. GRO Reference: 1883 M Quarter in CARDIFF Volume 11A Page 208.


Buried 17 February 1883, Llandaff



RICHARDSON, Mary, Age at Death (in years): 71. GRO Reference: 1895 J Quarter in CARDIFF Volume 11A Page 178.




1851, Church Street, Filey

1861, 35 Cooks Row, Scarborough

1871, Norwood Street, Scarborough

1881, Scarbro House, Ely Road, Llandaff, Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales.

Jane Ann


RICHARDSON, Jane Ann, Mother’s Maiden Surname: WILLIS. GRO Reference: 1860 S Quarter in SCARBOROUGH Volume 09D Page 277.


16 Mar 1862, Filey? (The family was enumerated in Scarborough on 7 April 1861.)

RICHARDSON, Jane Ann, Age at Death (in years): 1. GRO Reference: 1862 M Quarter in SCARBOROUGH Volume 09D Page 211.


21 Mar 1862, St Oswald’s, Filey.

Francis Junior


RICHARDSON, Francis, Mother’s Maiden Surname: WILLIS. GRO Reference: 1861 S Quarter in SCARBOROUGH Volume 09D Page 295.


28 Nov 1862, Scarborough

RICHARDSON, Francis, Age at Death (in years): 1. GRO Reference: 1862 D Quarter in SCARBOROUGH Volume 09D Page 223.


1 Dec 1862, St Oswald’s, Filey.

The other children:-

Priscilla Dunn married George PALLISER in 1899; Mary b. 1853, married William HOLLINS in 1874; William Willis b. 1856, married Minnie Liza JOHN in 1888; Elizabeth b. 1858, married William Bilton SMITH in 1896.         

On Warfare

The use of chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Kings of Edith

Four years ago I wrote a post about Edith Beaumont BATES. After her death, husband Arthur Travis CLAY paid for the installation of a stained glass window in Filey St Oswald’s Church. Edith, Victorian in dress and hair style, is at the right hand of Jesus.

The Clays of Rastrick indicates my interest in the couple and their children but I didn’t follow through – until yesterday.

Edith has six IDs on the FamilySearch Shared Tree, and Arthur four, but none appear to take us back more than a generation. However, a seemingly trivial connection I made yesterday opened a portal.

One system-generated ID has given Arthur and Edith children but none have attached sources. So I gave a “minimalist Edith” parents to see what might happen.

Nothing much did – until the caret by mother Elizabeth Ledgard’s name was clicked. A trickle of this Elizabeth’s direct descendants soon turned into a flood. A consideable number ruled lands across the length and breadth of Europe for almost two thousand years.

I had wondered about Arthur’s  chutzpah in placing Edith in the company of her Lord. Maybe he knew something.

If you undertake the journey, it will be less frustrating if you start with Elizabeth. How incredible you find it will depend, in part, on what you think of the divine rights of Edith’s kings.

Clay memorial, photographed this morning

Abstract 78 · Ackworth Fresco

Update 18 September

I am not sure how I lost my way yesterday (with the failed link). The line from Edith’s mother [MTCC-DY7] stretches 71 generations to Christ Jesus son of Elohim [G8NL-D9Y]. Go on, be a pilgrim! (You won’t bump into any giants.)

I hope you will make your own way but if you must have a guide…

William Edward Ledgard, Edward Ledgard, Edward Ledgard, Thomas Ledgard, Robert Ledyard, Francis Ledgard, Michael Sheard, William Hepworth, William Hepworth, Henry Hepworth, Sir John Richard Osborn, Sir Peter Osborne, Henry Bourchier, Sir William Bourchier, Thomas of Woodstock, Humphrey de Bohun, Richard FitzAlan, Edmund FitzAlan, Sir Richard Fitzalan, John Fitzalan, John FitzAlan, John Fitzalan (3rd Lord), William “the Crusader”, William d’Aubigny, Sir William d’Aubigny, Lord William d’Aubigny, Roger d’Aubigny, Roger de Mowbray, Yves II, Ivo de Beaumont, Alber I, Gislebert, Henrich I, Otto I, Heinrich von Babenberg, Eberhard, Hludowic, Welf I, Isembert, Warin II, Rurhardus, Hartrad, Eticho Hertzog, Dux Adalrich, Leuthari III, Marcelus, Duc Sabirnis, Maximalus, Duc Lodhandr, Gunzo, Vithicab, Vadomarm Chlodomar, Guindomar, Wadomaire I, Chrocus I, Marcomir V, Childeric I, Sunno Magnus, Chlodomir, King of the Franks Marcomir, Odomir, King of Sicambrian Franks, Ratherius, King Antenor IV, Christ Jesus.

The Uncertain Future

Sajid Javid, who has taken over as the UK’s Secretary of State of Health from the unwholesome Matthew Hancock, seems certain that Covid restrictions will be lifted next month. He is spinning a fable that the old way of British life will return. He must be mad. Robin Westenra at Seemorerocks considers the lockdown variants planned for most of us in the increasingly uncivilized world.

This morning I began a final survey of St Oswald’s churchyard, with the intention of getting the job done before the world ends. Time for family history research will be limited for a while but I should be able to continue posting a Filey photograph each day.

Measure of Man 57 · Aircraft Carrier

Filey Bay

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently poking the bear off the coast of Syria.