Doubting Thomas

In Dodgy Deals a few days ago I said that Thomas WILSON, son of farmer Joseph, had been elected to the Filey Local Board in the 1880s. Moving on to a different Wilson branch I happened upon another Thomas of that ilk, born 12 years earlier and also enumerated in Filey in 1881. He was living with wife Annie, two daughters and a son – in Reynolds street. Presumably, he would have taken an interest in the contentious footpath.

Might he have been the Thomas Wilson elected to the Local Board? While gathering information on his life, I found this in a local newspaper:-

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There isn’t another R. DOBSON in town that is a better fit for this association than the one who went public with his criticisms of farmer Joseph. The thought flickered that Joseph’s son Thomas might have formed a business relationship with “the enemy”, but he was a farmer too, not a saddler. A small doubt dismissed.

There is a stone in the churchyard remembering saddler Thomas, his wife and mother. Next to it, a large stone that his firstborn daughter, Eliza Annie, has to herself.

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Thomas on FST.

I made only a token effort to take this Wilson family further back in time – because they were incomers to the town from over the moors. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Hawnby baptism records proved to be the most detailed I have ever found, giving the grandparents’ names too and, in some cases their parents also. The unexpected gift of two generations of SUNLEYs isn’t apparent on FST  yet, mainly because I need to determine who is confused – me or a Find My Past transcriber.

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Shaken Bridge in the 21st century.

(There is a small, neat stone in the churchyard remembering Ann SUNLEY of Lebberstone – ‘In life respected, in death lamented’. I haven’t been able to find her family yet but maybe this baptism entry will lead me to her. She isn’t recorded in Filey Genealogy & Connections.)

Dr. Cortis Speaks

On this day in 1857, at possibly his first meeting in the Town Hall after being elected Mayor of Scarborough, Henry SPURR introduced William Smithson CORTIS to the gathering. The good doctor of Filey read a paper about the recent finds of Roman artifacts on Carr Naze, following a landslip caused by heavy rain. I haven’t yet found a transcript online – and accounts of the more recent excavations of the Signal Station are not freely available either. Some of the brief online references to the discovery say Dr. Cortis led the excavation and gave his talk to Filey antiquaries. Neither “fact” seems to be true.

Dr. Cortis credits “a painter belonging to Filey, named Wilson” as the finder of the revealed objects. Filey Genealogy & Connections identifies Jeffrey WILSON as the man of that moment. He was about 65 years old at the time but still working in 1861 so could have been sprightly enough to descend “at some risk…down the falling cliff” to retrieve what he initially thought were pieces of jet. He died aged 76 in October 1872.

Carr Naze was then the property of the Reverend Richard BROOKE  of Gateforth and it was he who organized the excavation. It is not clear from the talk if Filey’s doctor got his hands dirty or was merely an interested observer at the dig.

You will see from Today’s Image how narrow the spine of Carr Naze is now. The Information Board at the site gives an indication of how much of the promontory has been eroded since the Romans left Britain.

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The five stone blocks found at the base of the tower can be seen now in Crescent Gardens, and the “hunting scene” of the Information Board is described by Dr. Cortis as “a dog chasing a stag”. Over the years I have looked for the animals a number of times. I think they may still be visible if the light is favourable, but perhaps not as clearly as in this old photograph of poor quality and unknown provenance. (There is a more recently taken image here.)

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William Smithson CORTIS is on the FamilySearch tree.

Henry SPURR, born Doncaster in 1795, died 30th May 1865 at Westfield House, Scarborough after a short illness. He has at least two nascent pedigrees on FST, both generated by “the system”. One gives his parents and the other his son, James Frederick, by first wife Eleanor WHITE. Eleanor died age 48 in 1844 and Henry married Louisa Amelia BLIGHT almost four years later, in East Stonehouse, Devonshire.

“Jeffry” WILSON is also unmarried on FST. His granddaughter, Mary WILSON, married the grandson of the William PASHBY who died suddenly in Friday’s post – but you will have to go to Kath’s Filey Genealogy to see that Connection.