From Old LaF 8 February 2013

Photographer unknown, 8 Feb 1932, courtesy Martin Douglas (cutting from unknown newspaper)

The following account of the Hull trawler Johannesburg’s encounter with the Brigg is reproduced by the kind permission of Tony Green, Filey Bay Research Group.

This vessel was a steam trawler of Hull owned by W Normandale of Scarborough and although the vessel was saved, the circumstances surrounding this incident are worthy of note. 

On 8th February 1932 at 6:30am the Johannesburg came ashore on the north side of Filey Brigg, at 6:35am the Coastguard reported the wreck and at 7:30am the Coxswain of the Filey Lifeboat reported to the Honorary Secretary of the Filey Lifeboat Station, Charles Burgess, that the sea was “very rough” on the north of Filey Brigg. Accordingly the Lifeboat, the Hollon the Third was launched shortly afterwards. 

Exactly why the lifeboat came back at 9:15 is unclear but it went again at 1pm as the sea was getting worse and tried to get the men off but they would not come off the vessel. The Coxswain of the Filey Lifeboat signalled to the Coastguard at 2 pm for the Scarborough Lifeboat to attend and assist and it was launched and arrived on scene at 3:20pm, however at 3pm the men on board the Johannesburg decided that they wanted to come off and “with great danger and difficulty” the lifeboat got them at 3:30. 

The rescued crew consisted of 8 crewmen of the Johannesburg and 20 Filey fishermen who had got aboard and could not get back to their cobles due to the “strong gale and very heavy sea”. The Honorary Secretary watched the incident and reported thus – “I watched through my telescope and it was very well done and the danger was very great, every minute from 3 to 2:30 I thought the boat would roll over”. He then went on to report that the rescued consisted of “Crew 8, Pirates 20 about” which perhaps gives an indication of why the Filey fishermen were present on the wreck! 

The wreck slipped of the rocks after the men were taken off her and the Scarborough lifeboat put three men aboard of her who cut her cables and towed the vessel into Filey Bay where she was beached for repairs, it was reported that “it is full of water and sand”. 

The written accounts of the day do not always do justice to the danger that the Lifeboat Crews were exposed to or the difficulties and hardships that they endured. The Honorary Secretary’s account above however is the closest description that we are likely to see to a daring rescue and it must be borne in mind that the Filey boat had no engine and relied on traditional sail and oar and sheer good seamanship. 

An indication of how bad the conditions were can be seen in the entry in the records enquiring about damage to the boat which reads, “2 oars lost – sail slightly damaged”.

There are photographs of the trawler on Filey Sands and berthed in Scarborough on Wreck Site.)

Johannesburg  (H711) was built in 1902/3 for the Hull Steam Fishing & Ice Company and sold on to William Normandale in 1932. The following year she was re-named and re-registered as Nordale SH89.

In September 1935 Nordale offered a tow to the trawler Skegness, which had hit the rocks beneath the Speeton/Bempton cliffs. This was declined and a tragedy ensued. In March 1937 Nordale was moored in Scarborough Harbourwhen her radio operator picked up an SOS from Lord Ernle and passed it to the Harbourmaster.

Nordale was bought and sold several times between 1938 and 1941 and, after playing bit parts in the tragedies of others, took centre stage when her own luck ran out on 15th January 1942.

At 6.20 p.m. steaming at about eight knots [she] struck the Carskey Rocks on [the] tip of Kintyre 2 miles SW of Borgadelmore Point, bumping once violently then two more bumps before stopping and settling firmly about 100 yds from the cliffs.

(Source: Wreck Site.)


I only had three or four hours to work on Anniversary People today and hit the rocks with the first two. The PINDER and HOLMES families that produced Frank (born 1895) and Susannah (baptised 1857) needed a lot of attention if I was to reconcile FG&C with the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

Frank is the son of Jane Pinder.

Susannah on the Shared Tree.

Below – Susannah and her siblings on the Shared Tree, FG&C and in the GRO Births Index.


1985 Coalbrookdale


In the dream, I had opened a shop selling prints in some dusty, hot place. Walking up to the shop (on opening day?) I saw a line of people in the street and up the wooden outside stairs. I pushed past. In my gallery the walls were bare… The room was dense with smoke. The floor was littered with dark-skinned people smoking ganja (?). “All your pickchers sold, man.” Rastas apart, it must’ve been Australia (from the Morris West novel which is bedtime reading)…

The Severn Way is a dreary track, especially cycling into sleet. Crossed my mind that humping a camera to work on such a morning would be a total waste of time. But then the sleet turned to snow. While I slowly put together the bones of a darkroom I could see it swirling, almost horizontally, across the windows for several hours. By the time the poor little Roadline Man came with the Morsø, it was two inches deep. And the Gorge transformed into a place of astonishing beauty.

The lorry driver had “got stuck” three times already and wouldn’t risk descending the ramps into Maw’s main yard. He slipped as we eased the crate over the tailgate and the crash set the machine’s springs vibrating loudly. He managed to heave the crate onto his barrow but, looking down the slope, said “This isn’t going to work.” Two boys came round the corner with a plastic toboggan. “Maybe we could borrow that.” (He wasn’t joking.) I suggested we just toboggan the crate as it was. From the bottom, he barrowed it the rest of the way and we hauled it up the steps into the workshop. I removed the top when he’d gone. Beautiful machine. Half-past three. Decided to go home.

Earlier, while going about my crude carpentry, I saw something fall from the electric meter, heard a light slap. A butterfly, which seemed to be dead. Moments later another fell. This one started to walk, groggily, towards the fan heater. At the step it paused for several minutes, basking in the warmth, wings fluttering in the blast of air. It then set off for a walk along the timber, back across the floor to perch on the leg of the stool. False spring. Outside the blizzard raged. Wondered how many of the moths and butterflies I’d swept up in the past few days had been sleeping, not dead.

Beach 157 · Muston Sands

Speeton Cliffs

The Gale at Filey

Saturday 31 January 1863

During the terrific gale of wind, which on Saturday last swept over Filey and the neighbourhood, the little village church of Muston had its heavy lead roof torn off from one end to the other, the lead being deposited across the steeple. In consequence of the rain which afterwards fell passing through the roof, the vicar was obliged to hold divine service in the Schoolroom.

The Scarborough Mercury


1902 Filey · Birth  Rosella Mary EDWARDS is the middle one of five children born to musician Harry Herbert Cullen Edwards and Minnie Gertrudenée CRAWFORD. Minnie’s father is the thrice-married David Dunn Crawford, so I imagined I’d be in for a hard time. Especially with Harry being a minimalist on the Shared Tree.

In 1939, three of the four sisters are living with their widowed mother in Kenmore Avenue, Harrow. They have chosen not to marry. Rosella is a milliner, older sister Violet a “clerk drapery” and Kathleen a shorthand typist. (I am not sure where Minnie Gertrude junior was at the outset of war.)

All five of the Edwards children enjoyed long lives. Their average age at death is 83.6 years. Rosella was 85. She died in Harrow.

When I have time, I will give Lonesome Harry his wife and children, and try to find something about his relatively short life as a musician/professor of music.

1779 Brompton by Sawdon · Baptism  Hannah SMIDDY died at the age of 38 in Wykeham and may never have been to the seaside. She is on FG&C because her son married Jane SOUTHWELL and the marriage of one of their children led to a Filey outrage. I will get to it eventually.

Hannah on the Shared Tree.

1814 West Heslerton · Marriage  Martin BRYAN and Mary LISTER currently have just one child on the Shared Tree but I think they had at least five, and four of them married. From the Hunmanby/Seamer axis, their descendants quite soon moved to Filey and marriages connected them to several of the core fishing families, including the Jenkinsons. This is not obvious when you start here on the Shared Tree but I’ll try to make the necessary connections in the next few weeks.

1928 Gristhorpe Manor · Death  Agnes Elizabeth FRASERmarried William Beswick MYERSin Leeds in 1876. William inherited a title from his uncle, Thomas Keld BESWICK, and changed his name. After his premature death in 1904, Agnes dedicated a window in St Oswald’s church to him.

To the glory of God and in loving memory of WILLIAM BESWICK MYERS-BESWICK of Gristhorpe, died 27th Dec 1904. This window was erected by his wife AGNES AD 1908.

Kath has a note on FG&C that towards the end of her life, she enjoyed going for rides in the car with Albert the chauffeur, known as ‘Faffy’, and on her little ‘dog car’. “The pony which drew the trap also pulled the lawnmower.” This information comes from Diana Beswick’s book on Gristhorpe, pp105-109.

I haven’t found the elevated William Beswick Myers and his wife on the Shared Tree yet. His parents are here.

1871 Filey · Burial  A small obelisk in Filey churchyard remembers nine sailors whose bodies were recovered after the Italian barque Unico was wrecked on Filey Brigg on 16 January. Three named sailors were buried on the 19th and the supposed captain, Angelo DODERO on the 31st. There was one survivor, Litano MACCOUCHI, and Kath notes on FG&C that he “had a story to tell”.

He claimed that the captain was to blame for the disaster because he was drunk and fearful that the mate would tell of his drunken state, shot him through the head. Among the bodies washed ashore was that of the mate, and a bullet hole in his forehead supports the survivor’s story.

Abstract 89 · Manhole Cover

FV ‘Chilian’

The Grimsby registered steam trawler Chilian ran onto the rocks of Filey Brigg about three o’clock in the morning of Sunday, 8th April 1894. She was a new vessel, having made her first fishing trip a couple of months earlier. The Investigation into the accident towards the end of April found the skipper, Joseph William LITTLE, culpable and withdrew his captain’s license. Such had been his previous conduct, this was only for 9 months, and he was allowed to continue working as a Second hand. A number of people, the surviving Chilian crew, Filey coastguards, and fishermen, gave evidence that the Bell Buoy wasn’t working as it should at the time of the accident. Joseph was adamant that his vessel would not have run aground had the bell been heard. Chilian ­had been traveling at full speed until about 1 am when fog closed in and “Dead Slow” was telegraphed to the engine room.

There was, however, a strong sea and the vessel hit the Brigg with great force and “full astern” couldn’t drag her off. Chilian began to break up almost immediately and the skipper ordered his crew to climb the rigging, Some thought they could launch the small boat but the vessel slipped off the rocks while they were doing so, causing them to be thrown into the sea. Five men drowned and one was crushed by a falling spar. The captain found himself in the water at one point but managed to get back onboard and climb the funnel. He and the four crewmen atop the rigging held on for about five hours until rescued by Hercules, another Grimsby trawler that had been keeping company with Chilian on the way home. A local coble brought Joseph Little to Filey to face the music, while the other rescued were taken by Hercules to their home port.

The body of one of the drowned was picked up during the morning of the 9th and taken to Scarborough, where an inquest on the body of Thomas WEEDON was held in the evening.

The Shields Daily News, 10 April, named the deceased:-

First Engineer B. LEEMAN, 32, of 36 Guildford Street, Grimsby, married, three children.

Fourth hand T. F. WEEDON, 25,  of 32 Guildford Street, married, a native of Hertford.

BARKER, 23, single, 22 Phelps Street, a native of Scarborough.

Steward W. CLARK, 23, who lodged at 108 Park Street, a native of Retford.

Trimmer C. TRIPLER, 31, single, 22 Orwell Street, a native of Copenhagen.

Trimmer T. E. LOFTUS, 19, single, Queen Street, a native of Grimsby.

And the saved:-

Captain J. LITTLE, 108 Park Street.

Second hand T. BARKER, 22 Phelps Street.

Third hand W. WEEKS, 87 Victor Street, a native of Bristol.

J. JONES, 29 Stanley Street.

George LEEMAN, 36 Guildford Street.


This painting by an unknown artist is in Filey Museum and doesn’t seem to fit the published narrative of the wrecking too well. The waves covered the vessel almost to the top of the funnel during that terrible night, according to Joseph Little’s testimony.

There is information about Chilian at Wreck Site and you can download a PDF of the formal Investigation here. (Search ‘Chilian’; click PDF number 16400.)

Today’s Image – The possibly culpable Bell Buoy is the faintest of grey specks beyond the end of Filey Brigg (near high tide). If the wind and sea are right you can sometimes hear it tolling from the promenade.

Syria won’t go away. I felt a little uncomfortable a few days ago saying that the BBC seemed to prefer bringing on “useful idiots” to analyze events. I’m somewhat comforted that BoJo the Clown has since used this term as a descriptor for Jeremy Corbyn, (who has come out of the wretched Skripal Affair with at least some credit). I switched on the radio this morning and heard the last few minutes of the Thoughts of Bob Seeley, MP for the Isle of Wight. You can listen to his Five Live wisdom on Twitter. Judge for yourself, but I thought this was idiotic:-

What you can do is recognize that the Syrian regime is criminal, you can recognize that what the Russians are doing is significant war crimes, both there and they’ve done the same in Eastern Ukraine as well. And you can record this for posterity. I know that doesn’t sound much but recording the truth is important and then you can try bringing people to justice, even if they’re not there, even if they never serve a term, you can find people guilty for action and record it.

Yes, sir. Blair, Clintons, Obama, Bush Senior, Bush Junior, Netanyahu… The New Axis of Evil delivers an endless list of the guilty-as-charged and thus-far-unpunished. TheresaMay has just pronounced that Russia should be held accountable for the brutality of the Assad regime. Perhaps she has forgotten. We (the British) didn’t “rule the world” by being nice. In our post-imperial phase, who should be held responsible for bombing Libya into failed-state misery? Shall we, the guilty UK,  just blame the French?

Selective amnesia, willful blindness, hypocrisy and dual standards rule the state-supported airwaves almost everywhere.

Seeing the Light

Captain Price made an error of judgment 159 years ago and destroyed his “fine vessel”.


The barque “Carnatic,” of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Captain Price, 621 tons register, left Malta on the 24th of January in ballast, for Newcastle. All went on well during the passage, and they made Flamborough Head on the 26th ult., weather thick and hazy, on nearing Filey the captain mistook the light in the town, which is exhibited for the use of the fishermen, and, unfortunately, supposed it to be the light at Scarboro’ Lighthouse, and did not discover his error until too late. In consequence of standing in too close to the land he got upon Filey Brig, when they threw out some ballast, and got the assistance of some Filey fishermen to carry out two anchors, but they could not succeed in getting the barque off the rocks. She soon began to fill with water and they were compelled to leave this fine vessel on the Brig, after securing a great part of the stores, which have been landed at Filey. The vessel is about twelve years old, and was built in America, is coppered and copper fastened, and abundantly found in stores. The crew, 17 in number, were forwarded to their respective homes by Mr. White, secretary to the Fishermens’ Shipwrecked Society; but only two of them were members of this very excellent institution. The vessel and the stores saved from her, were sold yesterday.

Scarborough Mercury, 5 March 1859

The “light in the town” referred to stood at Cliff Top, outside the Coastguard House (aka Cliff Point) in Queen Street. It was only distinguishable from an ordinary streetlamp because it had a couple of coloured glass panels facing the sea. One green, one red (I think). It was affectionately, or jokingly, known as “Filey Lighthouse”. A few years ago the old lamp was replaced by one of similar Victorian design, but with plain glass panels. Earlier this month, on a bright, sunny morning, the lamp and its shadow beckoned me to take their picture.


If you are wondering what the label on the glass says:-


I doubt our 19th century forebears would have been so slack. Where was the Overseer?

I wondered about Mr. White, Secretary of the Fishermen’s Shipwrecked Society. There are only two likely candidates for the job, a father and son, both called Richard.

Richard senior was 72 years old in 1859, but still working as Chief Officer of Her Majesty’s Coast Guard two years later, when the census was taken. (He was living in Suggit’s Yard, not at Cliff Point.)

Richard junior was 43 when Carnatic was wrecked, and described in the ’61 census as “Late a Grocer”. In  1871 he was an “Assistant Overseer”, and in ’81 “Clerk & Assistant Overseer” for the Filey Local Board – good secretary material for any kind of Society one would think, and not one to leave a job unfinished.

This WHITE family is represented on FamilySearch Tree.Young Richard had two brothers, William and Lawson, but all three were resolutely single men as they approached the end of their lives. There may not be anyone around today interested in looking deep into their ancestry.

A few years ago I searched online for information about the unfortunate barque Carnatic but found nothing. I drew a blank again today, so she must remain a ghost, or mystery, ship.

The Barque ‘Unico’


Unico came to grief on Filey Brigg this day 1871. I favour her being the “barque” of the memorial obelisk rather than the “schooner” of this vivid report of her demise in the Driffield Times, 21 January.

Wreck and Loss of 13 Lives at Filey

The Italian three-masted schooner Unico, captain Angelo Dodero, coal laden from Newcastle for Genoa, which brought up in Filey Bay on Sunday, dragged her anchors in a gale of wind, before daylight on Monday morning, and struck upon Filey Brigg, and went to pieces immediately. Of the whole crew, thirteen in number, only one man, Litano Maccouchi, was found alive upon the rocks. A Newcastle pilot was also drowned.

The Inquest

On Wednesday, an inquest was held at the Ship Inn, before J. M. Jennings, esq., coroner, on the bodies of three men cast on Filey Brigg, whose names are Gaetano Paganetti (mate), Carlo Lavaggi (able seaman), and Francesco Bugino (apprentice). From the evidence of Litano Maccouchi it appears that the vessel Unico, with a cargo of 600 tons of coal, sailed from Newcastle-upon-Tyne for Genoa, on the 11th inst., having on board Capt. Didero, a crew of 12, and a Tyne pilot named Corbett. The vessel arrived off Flambro’ Head on Saturday 14th, and being hazy, with strong wind from S.S.W. the pilot requested her to be anchored under Speeton Cliffs; this done the vessel rode safely until Monday morning, when, thick with rain, a fearful gale sprung up from S.S.E., which caused the ship to drag her anchor. The pilot at once requested sail to be made, anchor to be slipped, and stand out to sea; this was done, but in doing so the Unico struck upon the extreme end of Filey Brigg. A heavy sea was running at the time and so great was the concussion that the ship’s bottom was stove in; at this momentary crisis part of the crew got into three boats, which were on deck, the other part of the crew took refuge on the fore-rigging; no sooner done than an awful sea broke upon the ship, swept the deck, and hurled the boats into the gaping sea, thus drowning at one blow eight of the poor fellows; a twin mountain wave followed, which burst upon the ship, carrying away the foremast, upon which were the other six clinging for life, but these were also thrown amongst the breakers, which were spending their fury upon the fatal rocks, only one rose to the surface to grasp a piece of timber to which he tenaciously clung, when another wave lifted and cast him upon a safer part of the rocks; fearfully bruised and bewildered he climbed upon a higher rock, and upon this rock he sat shivering for more than an hour, when he was found by two fishermen, who carried him over rocks and to the Ship Inn, where every care and comfort was bestowed upon him.

James Gondrill, fisherman, said: I left my house on Monday morning about 7.15 a.m. and went on to the Brigg, when I met two fishermen carrying a shipwrecked man; I proceeded further on the rocks and espied another one of whose hands was uplifted firmly grasping some seed weed: with assistance I lifted him up and found him cold and dead; a little further on I found another lifeless man, both of whom were taken to the Ship Inn.

The Coroner, having summed up, the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”

I think the reporter did rather better with the names of the unfortunate crew than whoever carved their names on the obelisk in St Oswald’s churchyard.

Here’s the Crimlisk transcription (the names are now obscured):

This stone is erected to commemorate a fearful shipwreck which took place

on Filey Brigg on 16 Jan 1871 of the Italian barque ‘Unico’ from Genoa

whereby 12 out of a crew of 13 including an English pilot perished


The following are interred in Filey Churchyard





and five others (Names unknown)

The East Yorkshire Family History Society transcription helpfully adds the Burial Register entries. These indicate that one body, supposed to be that of Captain DODERO, was not found for about ten days after the event and was interred with the others on 31 January.

*1871 Jan 19. Carlo Lauggi. Wrecked. 38.

*1871 Jan 19. Gaetano Paganetti. Wrecked. 37.

*1871 Jan 19. Francesco Bugiano. Wrecked. 17 yrs.

*These 3 men were washed up on Filey Brigg, from the wrecked barque Unico.

I walked to the overlook on Carr Naze this morning to photograph the scene of the wreck for Today’s Image. I was a little disappointed not be faced with a stormy sea and bruised sky but the upside was better light in the churchyard and Queen Street to picture two other elements of the story.

Fisherman “James Gondrill” was almost certainly James GOUNDRILL, born in Keyingham in 1839. At the census of 1871 he was living with his in-laws in Mosey’s Yard, off Queen Street, and working as a Gardener. Kath gives his occupation as Fisherman in Filey Genealogy & Connections but he began his working life as a Farm Servant (1851) and ten years later was a Servant to John Rook, the Miller at Mappleton. In 1881, still working as a gardener, he was living with wife Hannah and three daughters in Scarborough. The couple would return to Filey and be laid to rest in St Oswald’s churchyard. I didn’t have a photograph of their headstone in stock, probably because it is so hard to read, being well coated in lichen.


In loving memory of HANNAH, the dearly beloved wife of JAMES GOUNDRILL, who died April 19th 1898 aged 52 years.

For to live in Christ and to die is gain.

Also the above JAMES GOUNDRILL, who died Sep. 9th 1905, aged 66 years.

The grass withered, the flower fadeth. The word of God stands forever.

James and Hannah are on FamilySearch Tree but without their full complement of offspring and for the most part disconnected from their forebears. When I find the time I’ll attempt to bring them all together. I had a quick look at Italian records for Unico’s named crew without success. I hope Litano Maccouchi recovered from his ordeal and lived well, to a great age.

I walked the short distance to Queen Street to photograph the Ship Inn, sometime after 1871 re-named the T’awd Ship, and now a private dwelling.


There is a fine view of the Bay at the end of the street and from Cliff Top a cargo ship was heading north beyond the Brigg. It was the Mistral, a Ro-Ro flying a Finland flag, heading for Teesport from Zeebrugge. Calm sea certainly, prosperous voyage maybe.





The Unfortunate Apprentice

On the night of Sunday, 10th January 1892, a gale blew the Whitby brig Lancet towards the Filey rocks. The Master, Lewis, ordered the anchors to be cast and these held the vessel until early morning when distress flags brought out the Filey Lifeboat, Hollon the Second. It took about six hours for the Filey volunteers to rescue seven of Lancet’s crew of eight. A newspaper reported that “one boy was drowned while launching the ship’s boat in an effort to get ashore”. Another report named the deceased as Henry COOR, who hailed from London and was “within eight months of completing his apprenticeship”. Henry’s body was transported by wave and tide about three miles and was found at Reighton the next day, the 12th. Several newspapers repeated the macabre and possibly misguided observation that “the poor fellow had evidently been alive when washed ashore, as his hands were full of gravel”. It is hard to imagine him surviving 24 hours in the winter sea.

Henry’s age isn’t given and I couldn’t find a “boy” with his name in London birth registers. Henry Thomas COOR, born in Bethnal Green, would have been 21 in January 1892. Old for a boy, and perhaps for an apprentice seaman, but a curious fact suggests it was indeed he who drowned in Filey Bay. His mother’s maiden name was registered as McCLARENCE. In the June Quarter of 1892 in Bethnal Green, a boy was born to Mrs. COOR née McCLARENLL (sic) and given the name Henry.

The names COOR and McCLARENCE bamboozled most registrars and their clerks. I couldn’t return the young man to his folks today with certainty. I think his father was William and his mother Maria – but she seems to have died aged 24 when Henry the First was two-years-old. It isn’t impossible that Henry the Second’s mother was Emma McCLARENCE, wife of  James COOR and a younger sister of Maria, but it’s quite a stretch.

I just hope the unfortunate apprentice will take his place on the FamilySearch Tree some day.

A Coincidence Chain

I wrote about Robert Jenkinson WATKINSON  back in August, on the anniversary of his death in 1917 on the Western Front. Eight months before his birth, his father had been lost at sea off St Abbs Head, about 140 miles north of Filey. That family tragedy happened 126 years ago today.

Looking more closely into the event this morning, I soon discovered that Robert Jenkinson senior had not drowned from a fishing boat but from the SS Bear, Master J. HAWRIE. The cargo ship was carrying pig iron from Middlesbrough to Grangemouth and sank after a collision with SS Britannia. Twelve of her crew of 14 drowned. (Sources: Canmore and Wreck Site.)


I wondered…


Reverend Thomas was the incumbent at Filey for 42 years (1831-1873). He has a memorial window in St Oswald’s but the sources readily to hand only reveal him making a speech now and again and “solemnly dedicating” the first Hollon lifeboat. He perhaps wasn’t a hard act for Reverend Basil K. WOODD to follow.

Basil, remarkably, had something in common with Mrs. NORFOLK – they shared the middle name Kilvington. It isn’t immediately apparent that the two were related. Sarah’s maiden name was BARSTOW and she was born in Acomb, about 16 miles from Basil’s birthplace, Aldborough. (Although The Driffield Times notice says the Reverend JACKSON was “of Acomb” he appears to have been a native of Beverley.)

KILVINGTON, as a family name, is surely derived from a geographical location. It is very much a Yorkshire name but there is only South Kilvington in the county. Nottinghamshire has Kilvington – but not many people bearing the name in the 19th century.

Whatever, this coincidence seems to beg further investigation.

FamilySearch is, perhaps for the first time in my experience, rather unhelpful. The Reverend Thomas has several PIDs but only this one gives a reasonable starting point. Others give him the “wrong” spouse and somebody else’s children. The system seems to be culpable, rather than human contributors to the World Tree, but it is still a mess to be cleared up.

I promised in August to “expand” Robert Jenkinson WATKINSON the Younger’s family on FST but seem to have done next to nothing since then. There are not enough hours in the day!

An Unfortunate Steamer


Wreck Site has eight photographs of Laura in her distress 120 years ago. There are few accounts of the event readily available online and I have yet to find one that names anyone involved in the stranding – crew, rescuers, salvage men.

Occasionally the sand is scoured to reveal what remains of Laura’s ribs but most of the time low tide offers only the boilers and sternpost. Not much to see, but I can’t imagine anyone walks by without having a nose around.

A couple of short videos on YouTube give a drone’s eye view of the wreck in its geographical and historical context, here and here.


Two Brigs called ‘Felicity’

courtesy Hartlepool Library Service

I don’t know the details of this Felicity’s unhappy end but almost twenty years later a brig of the same name, but with a different home port, sailed from Hartlepool and came to grief at Filey.



On Sunday afternoon last, the brig “Felicity,” of Lynn, from Hartlepool, with coals came on shore on Filey Sands, opposite the town, during the heavy gales of wind which had been blowing on this coast from the eastward. The lifeboat of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, stationed at this place, was immediately manned by fourteen men and launched before the vessel took the ground; the boat then succeeded in taking off her crew, consisting of seven men, who were in half-an-hour afterwards landed safely on the beach. The gallant crew of the lifeboat will be paid £14 by the Lifeboat Institution, for their valuable services. This lifeboat station is one of the most complete on the coast.   The lifeboat coxswain and his crew were thoroughly conversant with the qualities of this lifeboat, which has been repeatedly instrumental in saving the lives of poor shipwrecked sailors.

The Scarborough Mercury, Saturday 20 November 1858

This un-named Filey lifeboat was built by Skelton of Scarborough and bought by public subscription a year or so before the RNLI was formed in 1824. It served this stretch of coast for almost forty years, requiring crews of tremendous courage as well as strength. All knew the boat could not be righted if it capsized.

The Institution took over the running of the Filey Station around 1852 and about three years after the Felicity rescue the local committee put in a request for a new boat. The joyful public inauguration of Hollon took place on 26 November 1863.

A Current Event

In July 1865 John CHEW of Filey, while helping passengers disembark from his pleasure coble, noticed a bottle bobbing in the wavelets. Breaking it he found a chilling message.

January 23, 1865. – Dear Friends, – We are sinking; the pumps won’t work; in lat. 35., long 19.30. Captain John Roberts, screw steamer Golden Eagle. Anybody picking this up is requested to take it to the nearest magistrate.

I wrote about this in Messages in Bottles in January 2013 and clearly thought it an unlikely story. I am amazed that I spent so much effort assessing the prospect of a bottle finding its way to Filey Sands from four locations. I concluded it was just about possible if the Golden Eagle had foundered 600 miles south west of Portugal.

Four years ago I failed to find any references to the death of Captain Roberts or the sinking of his ship but re-visiting the event today I found this:-


Cap’n Roberts’ coordinates do indeed put  his vessel off the River Plate if the appropriate easting and northing are added – but over 2,000 miles off. And I would still argue that a bottle tossed into the sea there couldn’t float into the North Atlantic.  The dates are intriguing – Jan. 23 and Jan. 25 but the published report was a year earlier than stated in the message. I suspect a descendant of the writer of the note is now scattering fake news items about the Internet (and the Gray Lady is publishing them).

I spent a couple of hours searching for Filey CHEWS on FamilySearch Tree and found another candidate for the bottle finder. John Francis CHEW is plain John in some sources, including FST [ID MGCB-JN8], four years younger than the second cousin I thought might have owned the pleasure coble.

Every visit to FST  reveals how much work there is to do there. Here is an example of a mistake “the system” makes that cries out to be sorted.


Robert married Betsey Ann NICHOLSON and they had four children at least. His mother was Lucy COOK and she had twelve children with Robert Senior. The elder Robert has a duplicate ID attached to his own baptism record (MGZS-4N3). Search for that and you will not bump into the interlopers from New Jersey and Indiana.

A short distance inland from the cliffs in the foreground of Today’s Image, in amongst the caravans of the Blue Dolphin Holiday Park, the body if Gristhorpe Man was discovered in July 1834. Anniversary post in a few days!