Egyptian Variant

A vulture, not seen in this country for over 150 years, reminded me of a nightjar from the same neck of the desert, shot by Albert Charles SPINKS in 1883.

I didn’t need much reminding – I read the story while having my breakfast a couple of days ago.

Egyptian Nightjar, Caprimulgus aegyptus. This pale desert nightjar has been recorded just twice in Britain. The second occasion was in 1984, but to the first attaches an entertaining story. A Nottinghamshire gamekeeper, Albert Spinks, flushed a bird from its resting spot while he was shooting rabbits and, thinking it looked unusual, brought it down with his second barrel. A day later when it started to smell he threw it on to the ashpit near his cottage, only for his ornithologist employer, J. Whitaker, to notice and retrieve the skin. Whitaker sent it to his taxidermist and subsequently had its identity confirmed as an Egyptian nightjar, then he honoured ‘his’ find by erecting a monument at the site of discovery (Thieves Wood near Mansfield). The inscription, in which the largest letters spell his own name, was intended to read: ‘This stone was placed here by J. Whitaker, of Rainworth Lodge, to mark the spot where the first British specimen of the Egyptian Nightjar was shot by A. Spinks, on June 23rd, 1883, this is only the second occurrence of this bird in Europe.’ In fact ‘occurrence’ was misspelt and the date appears to have been wrongly given as 1882.

The stone is significant as probably the only memorial raised to an individual wild bird in Britain for more than a century (see Great Auk, page 254). Whitaker’s mounted skin of the bird is now in Mansfield Museum, but his stone was recently replaced by a simple concrete post with only a nightjar etching and the date, which now forms part of a nature trail through Thieves Wood.

Birds Britannica, Mark Cocker & Richard Mabey

There is a photograph of the concrete post on Joseph WHITAKER’s Wikipedia page.

Albert’s claim to infamy isn’t obvious on the FamilySearch Tree and his employer, who didn’t have to work for a living, only has one ancestor – his father Joseph.

Looking for Whitaker descendants offers an example of good sources leading to unbelievable outcomes.

One source attached to the tree places the marriage of Joseph and Mary EDISON (sic) in Mansfield, in the Second Quarter of 1872.

A second source is even more helpful in recording the ceremony at Blidworth on 16 April 1872 and informing us that the bride was the “only surviving daughter of the late Booth Eddison, surgeon of Nottingham”. Booth is represented on the Shared Tree but is not yet married to Eliza ELLIS, with whom he had three daughters and one son, Alfred. Two of his girls were with him when he died on 7 March 1859 in Funchal on the island of Madeira. The more benign climate there was no match for tuberculosis. If one of the daughters at his deathbed was firstborn Sarah Anne, she would die in Mansfield just a few months later, aged 19. Alfred died in Penzance in 1861 aged 16 and middle daughter Margaret in Nottingham in 1866, aged 22.

The middle name of the first child born to ornithologist Joseph and Mary Eddison came from his grandmother Mary RANDALL. His birth in Blidworth in 1875 was registered in Mansfield. In April 1911 he is with his widowed father at Rainworth Lodge (near Thieves Wood) and before the year is out he has married Selina READ in Curling, Newfoundland. A whirlwind romance?

Booth Eddison seems to have been a remarkable doctor. If you want to discover more about his short life, start here and follow the offered links.There is a likeness of him here and lot of information about his forebears here.

But don’t forget the poor Egyptian Nightjar.

Path 140 · Nuns Walk

Men in Drink

Gathering notes and sources together for Wiki Tree  “profile people” is time-consuming. Writing their biographies likewise.

Charles Waters SCRIVENER, surgeon, was visited with a variety of misfortunes in the late sixties and early seventies of the 19th century. His second child died not long after her birth in 1868, he declared himself bankrupt the following year and in April 1871 his wife Jane died. Six months before that, in the process of getting a valuation on a watch from Nathaniel (aka William) COOPER, he was assaulted in the Refreshment Room at Filey Station by a drunken carriage proprietor. John RICHARDSON believed the surgeon had a monetary debt to repay.

The debt in today’s money is about £290 and John’s fine plus costs a little over a third of that. I’m sure I have seen John in court before but his pedigree contains some solid citizens in Filey Genealogy & Connections. His representation on FamilySearch is minimal. He married twice but neither spouse is recorded on the Shared Tree.

Watchmaker Cooper has three footholds the Shared Tree, twice as Nathaniel, once as William – the pages generated by his own christening and those of his two daughters.

 Charles’ friend, William THORALD, may be the Reverend William THOROLD who is buried in Manor Road Cemetery, Scarborough. He has a brief biography on the Yorkshire Chess History website and it is interesting to note that “William was accused by his congregation in Weeton of being a drunkard, and was removed from active pastoral care”.

I hope to put Charles on Wiki Tree tomorrow.

Townscape 66 · Scarborough Spa

The Bankrupt Brothers

Elizabeth Christiana VICKERMAN married Bridlington sailmaker Thomas SCRIVENER in 1809 and in the next fifteen years gave birth to at least six children. I do not know when she died but Thomas married again in January 1831 when he was 44 and Anna CALAUM 35. Henry Thomas was born at the end of November 1831 and Charles Waters in April 1834.

On Monday I mentioned the unusual bond the brothers had. I said that when William Charles Scrivener was born “maternal grandmother Elizabeth Sweet was also his aunt”. This is a true statement but it does not tell the whole story. William’s birth was registered in the June Quarter of 1867, eleven years after the widow SWEET married his uncle Henry Thomas. His father, Charles, married Elizabeth’s firstborn daughter in St Oswald’s, Filey on the 15th of May that year, when she was either near term or already a mother. Impossible to say when Elizabeth attained her grandmother to William status. She died before the year was out.

Why would a 24 year-old fellow marry a widow twenty years his senior and a mother of seven children, five still living? For love or money?

Some sources claim that Elizabeth’s first husband, William Sweet, was a solicitor but I think he was only a solicitor’s clerk. She may not have been a rich widow. In 1851, aged 20, Henry was working as a draper, but enumerated at an establishment in St Pancras that housed 55 boys and men between the ages of 13 and 47 (median age 25) – an assortment of carpet salesmen, cashiers, clerks – and drapers. I do not know what accidents or designs took him from the capital to the far north of England but in 1861, five years after marrying, he was head of a household in the parish of St Andrew, Newcastle upon Tyne, a “Mustard Manufacturer employing 2 Men”. (Elizabeth’s father in law, Samuel Sweet, had been a Mustard manufacturer.) Three of Elizabeth’s children were at home, including Jane Elizabeth, Henry’s his sister-in-law to be but described by the enumerator as his “daughter-in-law”.

The following year Henry declared himself bankrupt and, for reasons I cannot fathom, was still a bankrupt six years later.

Younger brother Charles Waters Scrivener set out on a more elevated career path. Aged 17 in 1851, he was a Student of Medicine in Hull. I have not been able to find him in the 1861 census but in 1871 he was living in Clarence Terrace, Filey (now West Avenue), an “MD Doctor”. With him were Jane, their second son Thomas, Jane’s sister Mary Elizabeth Sweet and a servant, Elizabeth FOSTER, 19. As mentioned on Monday, first son William Charles was with his grandfather on census night and it would appear that Mary was in Filey to help Jane in a time of trial. Four weeks after the census Mrs Scrivener was dead. She had given birth to three children in three years and had suffered the ignominy (maybe) of her husband’s bankruptcy.

Eighteen months after his wife’s death, Charles married again. His bride was Mary Ann WOODALL. Alas, it does not appear that her father was William Edward, Registrar of the Court.

By 1881, Charles seems to have re-established himself as one of Filey’s doctors. (In 1873 he was also Acting Assistant Surgeon of the 2nd East Riding of Yorkshire Artillery Volunteer Force.) The family of three had moved to 3 Rutland Street and with them was “June CALAM”, a single woman aged 62 described as Charles’ “sister-in-law”. I think this was Jane Ann CALAUM, daughter of Michael and Anna née BRAMBLES. Sources indicate that Charles’ mother, Anna CALAUM, was born eighteen years before Michael and Anna married. As I do not have Michael’s birth record yet, it is possible Jane and Anna were half-sisters.

Henry was a widower for just over five years. He married Jane WINN in Hartlepool in 1873 but I have not found a parish record that might have given his occupation. He had recovered remarkably from bankruptcy because in 1871 he claimed to be – a surgeon. He also told the enumerator he was 35 and had been born in Scarborough. On census night he was visiting widow Dora MORISON, 47, and her four children in Castle Eden, County Durham. Eldest son James, 17, was a Medical Student at Edinburgh University.

Henry died a Gentleman in 1879.

I have not been able to discover what he was doing at the Globe Hotel.

Brother Charles followed him to eternity about three years later and is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard, but nowhere near his first wife.

Dog 29 · Gizmo

The little fella migrated inland some time back. I hope he is keeping well.

Sweet Baby Rounds Cape Horn

On 17 November 1867, ship’s surgeon Andrew ALEXANDER assisted in the birth of Maud Marian Grey, daughter of William Hales SWEET and Elizabeth née EVANS. All sources I have seen agree that Maud was born on Brunel’s “ship that changed the world”, SS Great Britain. Some say, though, that the vessel was passing the Cape of Good Hope at the time. One census enumerator writes “Good Hope” in his book but this is rubbed out and “Horn” substituted. Transcribers give Maud’s birthplace variously as Chile or South Africa.

SS Great Britain was on its 29th Voyage and after leaving Melbourne, where Maud was most likely conceived, the captain set an eastbound course.

Maud’s father was the son of John Hales SWEET and Mary Ann GOFF. After much searching over the last couple of days, I am still unable to explain John Hales’ second family. There seems to be little doubt that there was only one John Hales and two “wives” called Mary Ann but I have been unable to find a marriage record for his union with Mary Ann PULLAN, nor birth registrations for thei seven children. It is as if he had something to hide. Perhaps if he had been other than a man of the cloth…

Marriage in March 1840 to Miss Goff is clear enough and there are registrations or family notices in newspapers for their four children. The last of these, Charles Henry, was born in Hunslet, Leeds, on 3 September 1845. Mary Ann Pullan’s first child with John, Amy Adela Selina, was born later that year, on 7 December. Miss Pullan was a Leeds girl, about eight years younger than Mary Ann the First.

The former Miss GOFF didn’t die until 1882. If John didn’t divorce her, might the Church have “turned a blind eye” to his second family? The first Mary Ann considered herself still married to John. In 1871 she was living with William, Elizabeth and grandchildren “Cape Horn” Maud and Charles Iberson. She told the enumerator she was married and living on “income derived from funds”. Ten years later she declared sherself a “clergyman’s widow”. There is a sad reference to Maud’s father on this census page – William Hales SWEET “rambles very much at times”. He would die in a lunatic asylum in 1883. His mother had breathed her last the year before in a different asylum.

Our sea-born child married in 1890 and had several children with Frederick William CRISP. She died in 1945 in Hastings, aged 78. Find her on the FamilySearch Tree, born in the wrong part of the world, still single and with a dubious bunch of great aunts and great uncles.

Found Object 37 · Princess

On the bench that encircles Charles Laughton’s sycamore.

A Fine Type of Englishman

I can’t remember how old I was when my father sat me down and explained that people lie. I do recall that he would subsequently say, often, that a particular person of his acquaintance would “lie and look at you”.

Theresa May has looked into a TV camera on hundreds of occasions in the last few years and lied to the British people. She continues to do so. She will never stop. (It’s clearly pathological.)

Claudius Galen WHEELHOUSE died a hundred and ten years ago. He was a surgeon of some renown, and in his years of retirement in Filey was variously a magistrate, churchwarden and chairman of several organizations at the centre of town life.

1909_WHEELHOUSEcgSnip1_NEWS

Ah, those were the days, when people who served the public had high ideals of duty.

1849_OssyridecolumnsThebes_cgwAt the age of 29, Claudius was engaged by Henry PELHAM-CLINTON, Earl of Lincoln and later the 5th Duke of Newcastle, to take “medical charge” of a yacht setting out on a voyage around the Mediterranean. Claudius was able to indulge his interest in photography. He was an early practitioner of the Talbot-type process, producing paper negatives from which quantities of prints could subsequently be made. (Image left by Claudius is of the Osyride Columns at Thebes. Thirteen years later a rather more famous early photographer, Francis BEDFORD,  would follow in his footsteps.) The Mediterranean voyage ended in shipwreck but, safely back in England, Claudius presented his negatives to his employer. In March 1879 they were destroyed in a fire at Clumber House, along with many other works of art. Fortunately, Claudius had made an album of prints and the images lived on to illustrate some of his traveller’s tales.

One particularly wonderful story, told by Pam Smith, concerns a remarkable encounter between Claudius and another Filey ancient.

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In memory of CLAUDIUS GALEN WHEELHOUSE F.R.C.S., born 29th of December 1826, died 9th April 1909.

‘Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus’

And of AGNES CAROLINE, his wife, born October 10th 1824, died April 13th 1911.

Claudius died at Cliff Point, the former Coastguard House at the end of Queen Street.

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Postcard, no date, courtesy Christine Hayes

It may seem inappropriate to now take you back to Brexit but I watched a video this morning, made by a fine type of Swedish Man, and wanted to share it.

Young William Tout

On the 3rd April 1881, the census enumerator found William Robert Geatches TOUT boarding with about a dozen other 21-year-old students, at the Diocesan Training College, in York. Three months later he died at the Coastguard House, Cliff Top, Filey.

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Photographed this morning

A week or so before Christmas that year, William was remembered at the College’s Prize Giving Ceremony. The Principal, Rev. G. W. De Courcy BALDWIN, introducing the Very Rev. Dean of York, honoured guest and prize-giver, said that this yearly gathering was in many respects the most pleasing of their College meetings, but continued:

No retrospect, however, could be altogether pleasant in this world of change, and they had had their share of trials. A plain, simple white marble tablet had just been placed in their chapel to the memory of one of the most promising young men he had ever had under his care. William Tout, a senior student of that college, died at his parents’ home in Filey in July last. He was a young man of great intelligence and many virtues, among which moral and physical manliness, unswerving integrity, and, thank God, a deep sense of religion were conspicuous. The simple memorial to which the speaker alluded had been erected at the sole cost of William Tout’s fellow students, by whom he was loved as well as respected.

The College, in Lord Mayor’s Walk,  has been incorporated into York St John University but you can read about its Victorian existence here.

In the spring of 1891, the sadly reduced Tout family was living in Cliff Terrace, part of present-day Belle Vue Street, rather than Cliff Top. The Coastguard house was occupied by the retired surgeon and Justice of the Peace, Claudius Galen WHEELHOUSE. While looking in local newspapers for Tout information, I found an intriguing snippet.

In a report on Local Board business (Miscellaneous Items) –

Mr. Tout, coastguard officer, sent an application to the board for leave to erect a target near Mr. Wheelhouse’s property for the coastguard men to practice at. It was decided that the site be inspected before leave be given.

Scarborough Mercury, 9 February 1878

In 1881, at the age of 54, Claudius was still happily and successfully knifing people in Leeds, but had clearly settled on the place – and the house – in which he wished to end his days.

A Marriage Made in Cyberspace

William Smithson CORTIS practiced medicine in Filey for over ten years. In that time his wife, Mary Jane née GREEN, gave birth to five children.  Two of three sons survived into adulthood and both qualified as doctors. The elder, William Richard,  blazed an adventurous trail to Australia and father, stepmother, brother, and two sisters duly followed him there. You may find a fourth son recorded in a British Census but “Albert” is a mistranscription of Herbert who, when not treating people for ailments, was thrilling those who turned up at cycle racing tracks in the early 1880s. Herbert Liddell CORTIS became widely recognized as the greatest cyclist of his generation and was still being remembered as such forty years after his death.

William Richard had a longer life, dying at 61 in Perth, Western Australia, at the beginning of 1909. He packed a great deal into his span – a shipwreck, fighting in a war, owning racehorses, becoming an MP, giving evidence in murder trials and being charged with an unlawful killing himself. He married three times and none of his brides were Anne Barnby HILL.

CORTIS_WmRichd_Screenshot

Link to pedigree

Blame “the system”!   Humans make mistakes like this too, of course. When I happened upon this marriage a couple of days ago I was quite prepared to accept it. The Australia connection fooled me initially but I went back to old notes and recently donated information and began to find more credible pieces of the Cortis Family jigsaw.

Titanic was not the first White Star Line vessel to hit an iceberg. In 1864 one of the company’s first steam-powered sailing ships, Royal Standard, got into a scrape in the South Atlantic. The people onboard lived to tell the tale, the ship making her way to Rio de Janeiro for repairs and then returning to Liverpool, her home port. The ship’s luck ran out in October 1869 when she was wrecked on the coast of Brazil. William Richard Cortis, on his way to Australia, was among the survivors.

William returned home rather than continue his journey to the antipodes and within a year had married Mary Julia MOORE in Camberwell. The newlyweds almost immediately sailed for the Australian Colonies but Mary Julia soon died in Tambaroora of tuberculosis, aged 23.

On 15th January 1873, William married Florence FYANS, daughter of the late Captain FYANS (4th King’s Own Regiment and formerly Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Western District, Victoria), at Christ Church, St Kilda, Melbourne. By the time William is reckoned to have married Anne Barnby Hill, Florence had borne one son and was pregnant with another. They would go on to have nine children together – and then divorce about 1905.

I haven’t found any evidence that William took up with a younger woman while still married to Florence but, as he approached sixty, Edith (family name not yet found) became the doctor’s third wife. On the 5th October 1908, The West Australian was reporting her funeral “in the Anglican portion of the Karrakatta Cemetery”. The screen image of the death notice is too heavily printed to be sure but, aged 23 or 28, Edith died well before her time.

1908_CORTISedith_DEATH

(Family Notice via Trove.)

Within three months, William Richard Cortis was also dead. On the 6th January 1909, The Geraldton Express reflected on “A Varied Career”.

Dr. William Richard Cortis died suddenly yesterday at the W. A. Club. He was over 60 years of age, and during his career had been a prominent surgeon, legislator, soldier, and magistrate. During the past six or eight months he acted as Resident Medical Officer at Kookynie. He came to the city about a month ago, having obtained leave. For two or three years he held the position of Resident Magistrate and Medical Officer at Derby. The post-mortem examination revealed the fact that the cause of death was angina pecoris (sic), and although the deceased had taken a quantity of morphia to alleviate the pain, this had nothing whatever to do with his end. Deceased was a man of fine physique, but during the last year he was overtaken by a trouble which no doubt undermined his health, and this was accelerated by the recent death of his wife, which preyed on his mind. Last year, while Resident Magistrate and Medical Officer at Derby, he was called upon to stand his trial on three separate occasions for the alleged unlawful killing of a man named Gerald Ascione.

William Richard’s short-term in Government is officially recognized here.

My thanks to Elizabeth Kennard (USA) and Peter Donkin (Australia) for kindly offering information on the Cortis Family that might otherwise have remained hidden from me. I have several more leads to follow and hope soon to make the necessary corrections to the pedigree on FamilySearch. I won’t be at all surprised to discover that the William who married Anne Barnby HILL and William Richard are cousins with a recent common ancestor just three generations back in north Lincolnshire. CORTIS isn’t a common name.