What Happened to Henry?

In the May 19 post A Mystery Pearson, I mentioned my failure to find any online sources referring to Henry DUFFILL, other than the civil marriage registration in the 4th Quarter of 1874. This is slightly embroidered by a brief Scarborough Mercury notice, dated 10 October –

On the 6th inst., at Murray-street Chapel, Filey, by the Rev. Stephen Cox, Mr. Henry Duffill, of Farnhill, near Leeds, to Miss Elizabeth Ann Pearson, of Filey.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve looked for him again and come up with nothing. I have no idea when or where he was born and know only that he died between 6 October 1874 and 5 April 1891 when his 44-year-old widow, Elizabeth Ann, was enumerated at the lodging house she kept in Trafalgar Square, Scarborough. Her lone boarder, John G. Brewin, 27, is listed as a “Certificate Teacher of Elementary School”. He would marry Ruth BURROWS later in the year and be a father of two by 1901, and Headmaster of a Scarborough Board School.

20190929TrafalgarSq70_GSVIn 1911, Elizabeth was still in Trafalgar Square (at No. 70, inset) with another lone boarder, Fred WRIGHT, 24, a Coal Merchant’s I didn’t find the Headmaster on the Shared Tree, but this link will take you to Fred. The Find My Past transcription of the census entry says he was born in “Beatlerton”. I have taken this to be Brotherton, which is just down the road from Ferry Fryston – in Selby Coalfield country. I wonder if he knew anything about his 17th-century forebears on his mother’s side.

Elizabeth may have been a handsome 44-year-old, and a merry widow. I must own up to wondering if she might have, erm, had a relationship with the teacher. I have just added her dates to the Shared Tree, and they triggered a “blue hint” recording John Brewin as the first beneficiary of her will. Over thirty years had passed…

Henry remains a mystery. I thought he might be hiding behind mangled spellings of his name, but registrars in Hull in the 1870s seem to have had no difficulty recording the children of half a dozen or more Duffill families. I have yet to see a government source pinning a Henry Duffill to Leeds, let alone Farnhill. Anyway, I have given him an ID and one day, maybe, someone will sketch his life.

The Surprise Professor

The first Filey child to be born on New Years’s Day, for whom I have a record, is Hannah COCKERILL in 1881. Her father George, born 1836, is on the FamilySearch Tree but is waiting to get hitched to Ann CHADWICK, born Flamborough in 1851.  George had ten siblings and while sorting through them today I happened upon his nephew William, the son of older brother Joseph, born 1830.

William was nineteen when the 1871 census was taken and at the family home on Scalley Moor, near Scalby, he was the eldest of five and the enumerator, in a distinctive hand, immortalized him as “Professor of Music”. His father was barely 20 when he married Hannah WRIGHT and worked as an agricultural labourer. So how remarkable was his firstborn?


In 1881, William was with his parents still, on a different moor (Burniston), occupied as a basket maker. Roll the clock forward 30 years and he heads a household in Harwood Dale that contains younger brother Joseph, sister in law Hannah, and great nephew John EMERSON. William continues to make baskets, his wife has died and on the census return he states he has been blind since the age of ten. The same hand seems to have filled out the form, neatly, and William is the signatory.


William married Rosamond Annie WESTERDALE in 1888 and they brought three children into the world. In 1881 she was working as an assistant teacher at the Manor House Yorkshire School for the Blind in York and was, to some degree, unsighted.


I remember a blind man coming to Stoneferry Junior and Infants School, in the 1950s, to tune the piano in the Assembly Hall. Perhaps William had done such work as a young man. We’ll never know who was responsible for the elevation of his status in the community.

Three William Cockerills were born in the Scarborough area within a couple of years of each other and all three died between 1912 and 1920. I think “our William” departed in 1916, aged 64, but this needs affirmation. I don’t know yet what happened to his children. Find him here on FST but bear in mind his birth family is incomplete.