Ghost Story

A couple of posts earlier this month, Balaclava and The Missing Parson, featured some STORYs. I revisited them yesterday to tie up some of their loose ends on FamilySearch.

The stone remembering Elizabeth Alice STORY is in a sorry state. The Crimlisks in their 1977 survey noted it was broken…

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The carved lettering is very distinctive, appearing on only one other headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard, as far as I’m aware – that of Elizabeth Alice’s parents and brothers Henry Errington and William. This one reads:-

In affectionate remembrance of ELIZABETH ALICE, the beloved wife of THOMAS MATTHEW EDWARDS, daughter of WILLIAM STORY, who died at Bridlington, October 26th 1880, aged 29.

She was buried in Bridlington and to give her such a substantial memorial in the town of her birth is quite a statement. Her only child, Walter William, was four months shy of his seventh birthday when she died. He would acquire a step-mother around the time he turned eight.

After adding a source or two to Elizabeth Alice’s record on FamilySearch I checked to see if she had any duplicates. There was just one and it was quite startling – of Elizabeth Alice STOREY, with the same birth and death years and a husband with the surname EDWARDS, the marriage taking place, it appears, about the same time. Very clearly, they were “not a match”. This other Elizabeth had entered the world in Hants Harbour, Newfoundland, and departed from the same place. The location rang a bell, though, so I looked again at the biography of Filey Elizabeth’s brother, George Philliskirk STORY.

…Following three probationary years as an assistant in the two St John’s [Newfoundland] circuits, Story was ordained in 1880. That summer he married the daughter of John Steer, a leading merchant in the city. The next eight years were spent in hard and onerous labour as a circuit preacher around the island: at Channel (Channel-Port aux Basques), Hant’s Harbour and Catalina on Trinity Bay, and Freshwater on Conception Bay.

Spooky, huh?

Elizabeth Alice the First

Elizabeth Alice the Second

The Missing Parson

The Scarborough Mercury on Friday, 8th December 1882 reported as follows:-

Filey: Strange Occurrence

This retired watering-place was thrown into a state of great excitement the other day, in consequence of the sudden loss of one of the Primitive Ministers. This rev. gentleman is in the habit of walking to Filey Brig and then returning to tea, but he happened to deviate from his ordinary custom, and the result was that a very painful scene occurred. His wife became excited, hearing nothing of her husband. for several hours. The aid of fishermen was summoned and the Brig searched, but no parson [was] to be found; after which, ropes, &c., were procured to drag the sea-pools about the Brig. The townspeople spreading the news, crowds of fishermen began to move towards the cliff top ; during this excitement a well-known ironmonger and a parson stepped among the crowd to enquire what was up, when the parson to his astonishment was told they were going to search for his body on the Brig, having heard he had been drowned. Naturally enough he bolted home to his distressed wife. I can’t describe the meeting, to explain that he had stayed tea with the ironmonger and had forgot to send a message home where he was. The fishermen were recalled from the Brig and the little town soon settled down to its normal quietness. This should warn husbands and wives to be sure and “come home to tea.”

The ironmonger was almost certainly John ROSS senior, a native of Castleton (near Danby) and active in the overlapping circles of Filey Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists. He probably had parson friends of both persuasions and after his death, in January 1885, the Rev. G. OYSTON opened a meeting of the Port of Hull Society Sailors’ Orphan Home with an “appropriate allusion” to John’s passing.  Reading the 19th-century newspapers one gets the impression that this watering place rarely had fewer than a dozen parsons going about their singular master’s business, so which one got his wife excited is anyone’s guess.

Amongst a supporting cast of lay preachers and circuit trustees were William STORY senior, who featured in yesterday’s post, and Harrison PHILLISKIRK. William indicated the depth of their friendship by giving a daughter, Ann, and a son, George, the middle name “Philliskirk”. George would take the name with pride across the Atlantic. He worked himself into an early grave as a teacher and Methodist clergyman in Newfoundland.

George married Elizabeth STEER in St John’s in 1880 and one of their descendants died in January last year – a William Story who had brought the honoured middle names, Philliskirk and Steer, into the 21st century.

Balaclava

William, the fourth child of Filey Draper and Postmaster William STORY, died at the age of 17 in the Crimea, a year or so after the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade. I have been unable to find any information about the part he played in what is sometimes referred to as “the first modern war”. Given his youth, I’m not surprised he is seemingly lost in the mists. I’m left imagining his path crossing one, or maybe both, of our Victorian wonder nurses, blessed Florence and irrepressible Mary. (Find their underwhelming pedigrees on FST here and here.)

Young William was one of about 25,000 British combatants who died in that conflict and as the preponderance succumbed to disease and neglect we can assume our Filey lad did too. Sevastopol fell in September 1855, the Russians retreated and several months of mopping up operations by the winning side ensued. The Treaty of Paris brought the war to an end on 30 March 1856.

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I have put a photograph of the headstone on FST as a “Memory”,