A Dynasty


This modest house in Chapel Street was the last home of William ROSS and his wife Mary Elizabeth before they died in 1921 and 1931, aged 82 and 92, respectively. On their headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard it says after Mary’s inscription: –

We shall meet in the sweet bye and bye.


Kath has this note in Filey Genealogy & Connections: –

…see the story of the Ross family – how William was saved and became religious. His brother Castle Ross was a well-known minister. 1867: a labourer – see also Kendall’s ‘Storm’.

It is tempting to imagine him being rescued from drowning in a storm while fishing and following the Lord’s advice to get a labouring job on land. But he is a fisherman in the 5 censuses from 1871 to 1911. and in 1883 he was (probably) the captain of the yawl Tranquility. I have written about it before but here again is the story from The Scarborough Mercury of 3 August.

SUDDEN DEATH ON BOARD A YAWL.-On Monday morning, about 5-30, as the yawl Tranquility was about to proceed to sea, one of the men named Charles Hamilton, a native of Barton upon Humber, was observed by the Captain, William Ross, to sit down. The Captain asked him if he was ill, but the deceased made no reply. Seeing the man looking very ill the skipper ordered the boat to be launched and the deceased was rowed on shore, and the doctor was sent for with all speed, but on Dr. Orr’s arrival he found life to be extinct. The deceased had a wife living at Hull. He had only arrived at Filey on Saturday night last and gone on board the yawl that morning. An inquest will be held.

Other than this distressing event, William and Mary’s lives together in Filey seem to have been unremarkable. Before she married, aged 20, Mary had lost her father to the sea. John WILLIAMSON was drowned off Reighton in 1858, I think from the coble Rachael & Anne. Death took one of her six children in 1877 when young Thomas Castle was just 7, but four married and produced at least 19 grandchildren. Tragedy would strike some of William and Mary’s descendants – and great wealth would accrue to others in the extended family. And my parents would contribute to the Ross fortune, by feeding their frozen foods to me when I was a child.

William was the uncle of Thomas Ross, son of older brother John and Eliza WHEELER. Thomas crossed the Humber to seek his fortune and found it in Grimsby, founding the firm that became Ross Frozen Foods.

William was a granduncle to John Carl Ross, son of Thomas and Maria BANNISTER. John Carl took over the business when his father retired and ensured its continuing success.

John Carl’s grandson David, William’s second great grand nephew, grasped an early opportunity offered by technology and quickly amassed a fortune estimated at £873 million. But he flew too near the sun.

I don’t know if the Ross Family representation on the FamilySearch Shared Tree mirrored what happened “in real life”. The family was connected on Filey Genealogy but split on FST. I doubt there really was a rift between those who stayed in Filey to continue long-line fishing from small boats and the Ross adventurers who built a fleet of distant water trawlers. Whatever, I’ve built the bridge on FST. You could start with the Dynast John Carl and travel back in time to Old Filey. There are images aplenty online – just search for ‘Ross frozen foods’.