A Tale of Two Clements

On 8 October 1909 The Shipley Times and Express carried a court report under attention-grabbing headlines.


When the name of “Clement Mitchell” was called at the Bradford Police Court a week ago there tripped into the dock, to the amazement of all present, quite a coquettish female. “She” glanced saucily and defiantly round the Court, put out her hand to straighten her coiffure, and seemed aggrieved to find “herself” there in such a position. But the make-up was but a disguise – a clever one it is true – used by the man Mitchell in his career of thieving.

Clement lived in Gashouse Row, Bradford, as a married woman separated from her husband, worked in a mill as a woman, and the dresses he made won prizes in carnivals. In women’s disguise he was known to stop men in the street – but, as nobody had ever complained about being propositioned, the court set this behaviour aside and concentrated on the thieving. Quite why Clement had joined the Seaforth Highlanders the previous year, only to desert a few months later, was not considered. The Stipendiary took a previous conviction for a felony into account and sentenced Clement to two months in jail, with hard labour.

I could find the birth of only one Clement Mitchell registered in Bradford in the years 1881 to 1883 – and therefore close to the reported age of the “masquerader” – and he is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard, Filey.


“My Dear Husband” isn’t enough on its own to suggest that this can’t be the cross-dressing Clement. However, the nearby grave of his brother, Herbert Warren MITCHELL, helps to identify his birth family with certainty, born in Pudsey to William Marshall Mitchell and Ada GREENWOOD. Find them on FamilySearch Tree.

In 1885, another Clement Mitchell was born in Bradford and at age 15 he was working in a mill as a worsted spinner. He had three sisters.

Pudsey Clement does not have a wife on FST so I went in search of her.

In 1901 Clement was working as an apprentice joiner in Fulneck, Pudsey. Ten years later, he had married and crossed the Pennines. His occupation was given as “manual instructor”, employed in Littleborough by Lancashire County Council. His wife was Eva Lena, daughter of German immigrants, Frederick BEERMAN and Lena TINKEL.

Clement and Eva married in 1909 and their daughter, Florence, was born in Littleborough, Rochdale Registration District, in the 3rd quarter of 1914.

When the 1939 Register was taken, Clement was still teaching in Littleborough but the woman carrying out unpaid domestic duties in 3 Mount Avenue, was “Ivy M BUTTERWORTH (Mitchell)”.  Ivy was 14 years younger than Clement but seems likely to have been his second wife.

Further investigation showed that Eva Lena had died in Rochdale in 1920, aged 34 in the GRO Index.

About 18 months later Clement married Ivy M DAVIS in Rochdale. Perhaps this was her second marriage too, though she was only 24-years-old.

The question I’m unable to answer is, “Why are these two Pudsey brothers buried in Filey?”

Herbert Warren Mitchell’s wife died in 1942 and was interred at York. Herbert died seven years later just outside that city but was brought to Filey for his eternal rest. Eight years after that, his younger brother joined him in St Oswald’s churchyard.

And the other Clement?

When leaving the dock, Mitchell’s face became wreathed in smiles, and he patted himself on the head.

Yorkshire Evening Post 5 October 1909

Given his entertaining performance in court, it is not a great surprise that this Clement decided to tread the boards after his release from prison. Curiously, his adventures as a Music Hall artiste took him to Burnley, about 15 miles from Littleborough. With another female impersonator, James HARRISON, he entertained in the evenings as one half of “The Two Deans” and found ways of obtaining articles “by other than honest means” during the day. One of his landladies was relieved of some particularly valuable property and Clement was hunted down and found in Manchester where he was performing as Fanny Leslie, soprano. Harrison was also apprehended. Both men received six months with hard labour.

In 1915 he found another partner in crime, one Thomas McKitton. In November, they were both sentenced to six months for failing to register for army service, and also for stealing a travelling bag, overcoat etc, valued at £5, from their digs in Great Ardwick Street.

Meanwhile, handicraft teacher Clement spent the war in Littleborough successfully appealing conscription into the army.

And then –


A Child, Poisoned

Listmaking duties yesterday brought this family unit to my attention. Thanks to the kindness of a LORRIMANdescendants, I was already familiar with some of the people and sensed immediately that there was something amiss with the picture presented by FamilySearch Tree.

FST_LorrimanBuckleThe FST system wasn’t concerned that “Sarah Duckells” was 48 years old when she gave birth to Harry and one research suggestion was to look for a missing child between Frederick and Sarah A. Hardly any of the many sources available online have been co-opted to build this family.  Just two or three of them, well-chosen, would transform the family. Father William, for instance, married Sarah BUCKLE in the summer of 1859 and died twenty years later, not long after the birth of Frederick.. Sarah’s maiden surname is given as Buckle for each of her eight children in the GRO Index. (Missing from the family, left, is Charles, born in the third quarter of 1874.) The 1891 census places the family in Albion Place, Filey and clearly indicates that Sarah A, Annie and Harry are grandchildren of widow Sarah. She told the enumerator they had been born in Filey but a careful search of the GRO Births Index indicates that the girls are sisters, born in York, to Sarah Buckle’s son William LORRIMAN and Sarah Ann ROBSON. I haven’t been able to find a birth registration for Harry (or Henry) so, until evidence to the contrary is discovered, will consider him to be the brother of the two girls.

Sarah Ann ROBSON married William LORRIMAN in York, in early June 1883. The birth of their first child, Sarah Ann, was registered the following quarter. Young Sarah joined a half-brother, George Arthur ROBSON, who had been accepted by William as his own.

Towards the end of April 1884, when he was three years old, George took advantage of his mother’s fleeting absence (to talk to a neighbour) and drank the contents of a medicine bottle she had left in the middle of the kitchen table. It isn’t clear from a local newspaper report of the coroner’s inquest what ailed the mother. The bottle, however, contained strychnine in the smallest of concentrations – but enough to kill a toddler. Little George staggered into the backyard, fell over and damaged a leg. It was thought initially that this was his only injury but he began to spasm. Someone ran for a doctor who arrived quickly, sensed the damage was internal and gave the lad emetics. These did not help, so the doctor dashed back to the surgery to get something that would control the spasms. When he returned, the child was dead.

Dr Hill, who supplied the medicine, had not given the mother special instructions about the danger the liquid would pose to a child. It contained eight doses, of which Sarah Ann had taken three. One dose would have been enough to kill George.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death by poisoning”, and the Coroner, at their request, impressed upon Mr Hill the desirability of cautioning patients, particularly when young children are about, to whom he prescribed medicine that contained poisonous ingredients.

Yorkshire Gazette, 3 May 1884

Learn how strychnine was once thought to be good for you (in very small doses) here.

I don’t know what became of George’s half-brother, Harry. Sarah Ann, pictured below, married James MILNER in Tadcaster in 1905 and bore him four children. James died young and Sarah raised the children mostly on her own.

Photo courtesy of Rose Toye

Annie married Alfred Henry Pritchard, an Essex man, in 1912. They raised their small family in Canada.


Annie and Alfred with children Gladys, William and baby Frederick (known by the family as James and the father of Brenda Pritchard, who donated the photo to Looking at Filey).

Annie and Alfred are buried in the small town of Kars, Ontario.

Pritchard Gravestone

I will add to the World Tree as soon as I can. Meanwhile, find “Sarah DUCKELLS” here.

Nathan the Indefatigable

Nathan was the eighth of nine children born in Filey to John Chinery STOCKDALE and Mary WHITTLES. I mentioned his older sister, Rachel, a servant at St Nicholas House, a couple of days ago.

In 1861, aged 20, Nathan’s occupation was given as Cordwainer, his father’s trade. Shortly afterwards, he left the family home in Queen Street, Filey and moved to York, where he married Mary Ann HARDACRE at the end of 1864. I don’t know how long he continued making shoes for a living but in 1877 he was one of 179 applicants for the job of school attendance officer in the town. He was appointed, together with Thomas THORNTON, on a salary of £80 per annum, (about £6,500 now).

At the census four years later he was still in the post but in 1891 he described himself as an insurance agent. At the age of 60, in 1901, he was working as a School Board Officer.

Nathan’s day work with children stretched into many evenings. A newspaper report in 1883, about the York Temperance Society Sale of Work at the Victoria Hall, mentions a concert given by the Templar Choir…

…under the conductorship of Mr. Nathan Stockdale, and the performance of the juvenile songsters was much appreciated by the visitors.

Nathan was a longstanding member of the “Good Intent” Lodge of the National Independent Order of Oddfellows, Pride of York District, and down the years put his musical interests and expertise to good use. An October 1896 description of a concert in the Good Templars’ Hall, St Saviourgate, says …

The hall was filled with an appreciative audience, and the handsome lodge banner was conspicuously hung at the end of the hall. Bro. Nathan Stockdale, the hard-working secretary, had organized a creditable display of local talent…

Reporting on an N.I.O.O.F concert two years earlier the Yorkshire Gazette’s scribe had concluded…

The whole arrangements reflected the greatest credit on the indefatigable secretary, Mr Nathan Stockdale, and “Good Intent” owes him a deep debt of gratitude for all the arduous work he has done for the benefit and extension of the club.

Nathan died in York in September 1908, at the age of 68. I’m not absolutely sure, but I think he was brought back to Filey for burial next to other Stockdales. There’s a handsome gravestone in St Oswald’s churchyard (photographed this afternoon)…


Find Nathan with parents and siblings on FamilySearch Tree.

Random Connections

I made an attempt to find Herbert SIDNEY, painter, on the FamilySearch Tree without immediate success.  So I turned instead to another of his subjects, John Woodall WOODALL, a Scarborian.

29_20180929WoodhallHousel2_6mWhen I took the photo of a Scarborough wave on Saturday, I had no idea that the former Woodall residence was in the frame. The family sold St Nicholas House to the Corporation in 1898 and it still functions as the Town Hall.

John WOODALL (1801 – 1879) married Mary Eleanor WOODALL, which explains why they gave their firstborn two helpings of the family name.

I found young John on FST as a single man. This seemed an unlikely state for a wealthy banker. The Sidney portrait reveals a fine looking fellow in what would prove to be his last year or two.

Photo credit: Scarborough Museums Trust

I was surprised by the uniform and regalia but the 1901 census explains – giving his occupation as “Retired Banker, JP, and Hon Lt RNR” (Royal Navy Reserve). The salty side of his life took him beyond the defence of the realm (or expansion of empire), encompassing a serious concern with the fishing industry. He must have been one of the first men of some power and influence to question the dangers that trawlers posed to the nation’s food stocks. He was, in this respect at least, ahead of his time and would be bitterly disappointed with what has been done to our oceans.

An article by Paul and Anne and Paul Bayliss reproduced on the Scarborough Maritime Heritage website gives more details of his activities at sea.

He may have retired from public life in 1892 because of ill health but John was hale and hearty enough to woo the Widow COWPLAND and marry her in 1896. Louisa Catherine née CALVERT was about 13 years his junior and gave him two adult step-children, aged 29 and 17. The terms of John’s will suggest that he loved his wife and admired her children.


If £800 a year makes you think Louisa had to scrape by – it is about £80,000 in today’s loot. (Various historic  money value calculators may give different amounts.)

Find John W W on FamilySearch Tree.

In 1871, one of the ten servants living in at St Nicholas House was Rachel STOCKDALE, a 38-year-old single woman born in Filey. Her parents and some siblings are on FST but disconnected from each other. I’ll try to unite them over the next few days.

The Emperor of Filey

Local historian Michael Fearon, in his Story of Filey Through the Centuries (1990) has this to say:-

The Romans were competent seamen and it is reasonable to assume that they were familiar with Filey Bay. There is, however, nothing to substantiate legends associating the Emperor’s Bath, a large rock pool on the Brigg, with the Emperor Constantine!

Bummer. It is such a romantic notion. When I first heard the “legend” after arriving in Filey about ten years ago, I so wanted it to be true.

I set out for an evening walk yesterday, diverting from my intended path because of mist rolling in from the sea. I was drawn to the Emperor’s Bath, aka Emperor’s Pool, which nestles in the Second Doodle at the back of Filey Brigg.


Heavy rain in 1857 caused a slip on Carr Naze which revealed a portion of a wall. The first people to notice this unexpected evidence of human occupation removed some of the stones, finding an earthen vase, human and animal bones and some ornamented shells. A more rigorous excavation was funded by the landowner, the Reverend BROOKE, and this uncovered the five stones that now reside in Crescent Gardens, in their original disposition as foundations for a Roman Signal Station.

Five such towers were built on the east coast about 370 AD, at a time of Pictish incursions from the north and “barbarian” raids from across the sea. Constantine the Great was long gone by then so the notion of him making the journey from York to inspect the outpost at Filey on a warm summer day can indeed be discounted. There is, however, at least one picture of him taking a bath (of sorts).


This is a detail from a Romanesque fresco in Santi Quattro Coronati Church in Rome, showing Constantine being baptized by St Sylvester.

Chronology appears to kill the legend but myths are like pearls. In so many instances they are found to have some grit of reality at their centre.

Enter Constantine III,  a career soldier at the sunset of Empire. Following a power struggle in Britannia, in 407 he declared himself the Western Roman Emperor before crossing to Gaul to establish his power base. He locked horns with Honorious, was accepted as co-Emperor in 409, abdicated in 411 and was killed soon afterward. Perhaps one of his last thoughts was of a day at the seaside and a refreshing plunge into a rock pool.

A pedigree on FamilySearch Tree shows Constantine III to be the great-grandson of Constantine the Great, the brother of King Vortigern of Britain and the father of King Uther Pendragon. No shortage of romance there already, even before reaching Arthur and Guinevere. Heading back in time will bring you eventually to Troy.

38 Generations

In the 1890s The Cardiff Times ran a series on Old Brecknockshire Families. If the anonymous author portrayed the Gwynns accurately there is a lot of work to be done on the FamilySearch pedigree. As we all make mistakes, there are probably errors on both sides.

It isn’t an easy family to deal with. Cousin marriages, duplicate first names of wives (without their family name given in baptism records), and the predilection to adorn male children with two or three middle names from the glorious past, (Howe, Sackville, Thynne), make it all too easy to place children with the wrong parents.

It is above my pay grade to deal with these difficulties on FST.

There is only one “Filey Gwynn” – Chedworth Morgan, born in 1904, but I have linked him to the illustrious pedigree on FST. A few generations into the past there are serious issues with a number of Gwynne children born after the deaths of fathers and/or mothers but I’m fairly sure these can be resolved and the descent of Chedworth from Charlemagne established.

I wandered today down different byways and discovered that I may be related to Chedworth. For a few weeks last year I found myself on a Super Pedigree. One of our common ancestors could be Mary BOLEYN.

Ann’s sister is just 12 generations distant, at which point we all have 2,048 great-grandparents. At 24 generations we have, notionally, over 8 million such. By the time we reach Charlemagne at Chedworth’s Generation 38 there are, impossibly, 137 billion plus.

Given my possible family connection to Chedworth and the mysterious way pedigrees “fold in on themselves”, it seems very likely that, if you can take your family tree back just far enough, a small army of blue-bloods will be yours. Really, we are all one big family.

It might be tedious to give you a complete route from Chedworth to the Holy Roman Emperor, (there are several), but here are some signposts along the way.

Gen 21. Edmund Plantagenet m. Eleanor of Castile

Gen 27. Henry 1, King of England m. Matilda Edith

Gen 28. William the Conqueror m. Matilda, Countess of Flanders

Gen 35. Robert 1 of France m. Beatrice de Vermandois

Chedworth left Filey but didn’t travel far to find a wife. He married Edith Joan TERRY in York and in 1939 he was living at Middlethorp Manor, now York’s “most expensive house”. Also in residence – Edith’s father Francis, the chocolate manufacturer.

The Surgeon and the Poisoner

Claudius Galen WHEELHOUSE, towards the end of his eventful life, filled his “retirement” hours serving the people of Filey in a variety of ways – JP, magistrate, and chairman (I think) of the Lifeboat Committee. He was also a churchwarden at St Oswald’s, Filey (Today’s Image). His compassion for humankind, or “peoplekind” if you prefer, was probably instilled into him as a child, but an early, and very public, demonstration of it occurred in 1856. Aged thirty and building his career and reputation as a surgeon, he added his name to a petition, pleading that the life of “The Leeds Poisoner” should not be taken by the hangman.

Your petitioners…humbly pray that your most gracious Majesty will be pleased to spare the life of…William Dove.

Claudius and about twenty other citizens were of the opinion that:

…if persons of such unsound and defective intellect as…William Dove are to suffer the extreme penalty of the law, the effect upon the public mind will be most injurious, and will tend more than any other cause to bring capital punishment, under whatever circumstances imposed, into general odium and disrepute.

They seem to have believed that locking him up for the rest of his life would be “the most just and adequate punishment”.

The woman who sent her armies to slaughter people in the hundreds of thousands was unmoved, and a large crowd gathered in York on Saturday, 9th August, to watch “the drop”. A novice hangman added a certain amount of extra drama to the terrible occasion but William was eventually dispatched. He didn’t struggle much.

His family was, apparently, of “the Wesleyan persuasion” and he had been attended by several religious gentlemen in his last days. He had admitted his guilt but, from my reading of the case thus far, he didn’t seem to care for his wife much. I doubt they diagnosed “borderline personality disorders” 150 years ago but that section of the DSM-5 would be my first port of call in an attempt to understand the wretched fellow.

Poor Harriet JENKINS. She had met and married the handsome northern man of limited, but independent, means in Plymouth in the summer of 1852. She was from a good family. A  clergyman brother was also a professor of mathematics in Madras, and her mother and sister, traveling up from Devon to look after her, crossed the letter announcing Harriet’s death. A saving grace, perhaps – there were no children born to the unhappy couple.

You will find the Poisoner and his victim on FamilySearch Treeand there is a lengthy PDF of the inquest, trial and execution online that can be freely downloaded.