Jane BEDLINGTON was born in Robin Hood’s Bay. She was pregnant with her first child John James Edward when she married John DOWNEY in Hartlepool in 1867. The couple had a daughter in 1870 but neither infant made it to their first birthday and their father died early in 1871. Jane married Edward Joseph LITTLEFAIR in Stockton before that year was out. Annie, the fifth of their seven children, had eight children with Thomas HOPE of Stockton and their firstborn married Filonian Thomas “Dasher” HOLMES (AP 1692 · death · 4 October).
Edward Littlefair [L111-D2D] waits patiently for Jane at the Shared Tree altar.
Leah HOOK was baptised at Filey St Oswald’s. Her parents are not yet fully realised on the Shared Tree. Leah’s father was a waiter and I didn’t expect he would stay long in Filey. Five years later the family was living in Leeds, but Jane (née HILL) had stopped on the way to give birth to Robert in Bradford. In 1891 all four were enumerated in Knaresborough, the parents now bath attendants and Robert, 22, a tailor’s cutter. Leah did not declare an occupation. Both children were single and Leah remained so to the end of her days, though she may have had a long-term relationship with John Thomas HOLDSWORTH. In her mid-forties she kept a lodging house on Coltsgate Hill in Ripon and on census night 1911 John was her only boarder. He was about the same age, a widower working as a general labourer. Ten years later the enumerator found the pair at the same address. John was now a general dealer working on his own account and Leah engaged in “home duties”. I hope the two were happy together but the relationship, if it was one, was soon to end.
John Robert BARTON was born in Cloughton near Scarborough, as was his older stepsister, Rachel SELLERS. Their mother, Maria Elizabeth BUTTERY, was a widow when she married George Barton, a general labourer from Suffolk.
John Robert married Ann Elizabeth JENKINSON at St Oswald’s. A daughter had been baptised at the beginning of the year. Lilian Barton Jenkinson may have been an only child.
66 Willis B28
In affectionate remembrance of WILLIAM WILLIS, who died November 14th 1823, aged 29 years.
‘Them also which sleep in Jesus will God
Bring with Him’
Also of MARY his beloved wife, who died June 28th 1864, aged 70 years.
(The remainder of the inscription is unreadable.)
Crimlisk Survey 1977
In 1861, Ann WHITTLES was keeping house for octogenarian Chelsea pensioner Donald MUNRO, the father of William who had died twenty years earlier (AP 1294 · burial · 31 July). Less than two months after the census, Ann had to seek other employment. For most of her remaining years, she was either a laundress or a charwoman and seems to have lived alone.
Phyllis Ritchie and Kenneth Simpson CLARKE were aged six and five when their mother, Norah Mary née RITCHIE was killed by Walther SCHWEIGER, captain of U-20, and his crew. She was not alone. Another twelve hundred people aboard RMS Lusitania perished with her.
Phyllis was born in Fife, Scotland and her husband, Francis William Clarke, was a Hull man. The family of four plus servant Ellen STANWELL was caught by the 1911 census in South Street, Cottingham. Francis, a printer’s commercial traveller, provides the Filey connection – he was a nephew of William STORY who had died in an earlier war, at Balaclava in the Crimea.
The year before Elizabeth’s parents married, Richard Fox YOUNG was trying to drum up custom.
Elizabeth, Filey-born, would marry a sailor from her father’s home town, Scarborough, but William HUNTLEY may have been a disappointment to her. In 1871 they were living on the Crescent in Filey with Elizabeth’s maiden aunt Mary WILLIAMSON. William’s status – “mariner unemployed”. He must, however, have brought home a load of bacon subsequently because their address at the next two censuses was Ambrosia Villa on the Foreshore.
During their occupation, the house never rang with the voices of children, not theirs at least. William died from here in 1898 and three years later Elizabeth had downsized to a modest terrace property in Mitford Street. Aged seventy-five, she told the 1901 census enumerator that she was “living on her own means”, and offered the name of a servant – Sarah Ann KNAGGS, 39.
I can’t be sure that the William WILLIS who found himself before the bench in 1864 is the orphan that was part-raised by the pauper spinster Frances MORGAN. The newspaper reports I have seen are lacking helpful detail. The young miscreants involved are referred to as “youths” or “young scamps” but one is said to be 22 years old. The two “just Williams” of yesterday’s post would have been twenty-one.
The law was most concerned about a 66 year-old reprobate called Charles COYLE.
A more detailed account in The Bridlington Free Press (same date) was headlined Atrocious Cruelty to a Cat and introduced Coyle as “a dirty old son of Erin”. He was facing justice because two of the participants in the events of 19th February were sickened enough to bear witness.
Coyle…who, it appears has for a length of time been in the habit of keeping a room in which he encourages all kinds of cruelty, such as dog-fighting, cock-fighting, and the worrying of cats, for the purpose of affording sport to himself and several young scamps residing at Filey, who had on several occasions taken stolen cats there in bags. It appeared also that Coyle had kept not less than five dogs for the purpose of worrying cats, &c…. He had lived in a room in a filthy condition, and kept coals under the bed on which he slept, and it was not an uncommon thing for him to tie the cats to his bedpoles until a favourable opportunity arrived for torturing them to death, selling the skins, and giving the carcases to his dogs for food. Mr. Richardson, solicitor, Bridlington, appeared for the Humane Society, and in opening the case said that during the whole of his experience he had never met with such a bad and cruel case as the one in question, now brought before the bench. … Coyle had long been practising a series of cruelties, and his house or room where he lived was a well-known depot for the worrying of cats and dogs, and one where every description of vice and wickedness had been going on. The old man was not only old in years, but he was old in infamy, and he hoped the bench would inflict that punishment on him which his conduct deserved, and he thought the bench would, after hearing the statements of the two witnesses he should call, think he was fully justifiable in asking for such punishment.
WILLIAM WILLIS said that on Friday, the 19th ult. he met a man named Thomas Jenkinson with a cat in a bag, and he took it down to Coyle’s house. It went under the bed and laid amongst the coals. There were four dogs in the room at the time. He was at Coyle’s at six o’clock that night with twenty or thirty others when the cat was worried. It was customary for a number of people to go there for the sport of killing the cats. The cat he saw was brought forward to the centre of the room and held by a string. Coyle held one dog and Featherstone another. The cat was partly worried by Coyle’s dog, and finished by Featherstone’s. Before the cat was dead it got away, while it was in great agony, and was again brought forward and two dogs got hold of it and were each pulling in opposite directions. The cat screamed loudly, &c., and died, and was then thrown to one side. Shortly before this he saw some cats’ skins hung up on the wall to dry. Coyle sold these skins to Featherstone.
WM. WISEMAN, another youth who had been present at Coyle’s on the day in question corroborated the evidence of Willis.
William Wiseman had the middle name “Willis” and was a first cousin once removed to our William Willis – circumstantial evidence that we have the right man. Wiseman, a fisherman, was eighteen and would marry in February 1867. Johanna BULLIMORE bore his seven children, the last after he had drowned in October 1880.)
William Willis had just sixteen months to live and I am pleased he didn’t go to eternity with his reputation completely ruined by Coyle.
The CHAIRMAN [Rev. J. HORDERN] then ordered the two young men, who had come as witnesses to be placed before him, and he, in very kindly terms cautioned them relative to their future conduct, remarking that it was a disgraceful circumstance indeed for such youths to be connected with. He urgently advised them not to frequent such infamous places as the one kept by Coyle, as surely they might find some better means of employment or amusement than that of cruelly torturing poor dumb animals, and they might think themselves fortunate they were not placed in the same position as Coyle and Featherstone, though they perhaps might have been with equal right. He would advise them to take the present admonitory warning, and never again disgrace themselves by taking part in cruel and wicked pastimes, as the Society of which Mr. Heffer was an agent were constantly on the look-out, and such cases would always meet with careful attention and the perpetrators of such heinous crimes would likewise receive their just punishment.
Charles Coyle was not reformed by his three months hard labour in the Bridlington House of Correction. Less than a year later (February 1865) he was charged with leaving his donkey an unreasonable length of time in the public street at Filey, fined 2s. 6d, 11s. 6d. costs with 14 days imprisonment if he defaulted. In December 1867 he was fined 25 shillings for keeping two dogs but having a licence for only one. In September 1870 he was fined one shilling with 9 shillings costs for taking lodgers in his house when he was not licensed. And over several years he corrupted a young man from a respected local family. William SUGGITT “fell into intemperance” and stole goods which Coyle fenced. In 1875 Suggitt was apprehended for stealing a pair of scissors and a silver pencil case. Fearful of the shame a guilty verdict would bring upon his family, the young man pleaded for a non-custodial sentence but was sent to the House of Correction for six weeks of hard labour. For receiving stolen goods, Coyle was committed to trial at the next Beverley Sessions. Whatever happened to him there he lived a couple more years, dying at the age of eighty in 1878. Overnight, Filey became a better place.
I have not been able to find the cause of William Willis’s death. He was buried in St Oswald’s churchyard on 9 July 1865 in an unmarked grave.