The Spencer Family and a Tragedy at Stillingfleet, Yorkshire

A contact from a fellow family researcher alerted me to an interesting grave in St Helen’s churchyard, Stillingfleet, which lists the names of 11 people who were drowned in the tidal River Ouse on 26 December 1833.  He kindly agreed that I could use the following photos of the grave:

Four of the people listed were called Spencer. I knew that I had Spencer ancestors on the Sarginson side of my family tree, but I had not completed my research on them. My four times great grandfather was John Spencer (1776-1843) and his father was Edward Spencer (1748-1811). What I discovered was that the four Spencers named on the gravestone were related to me:

  • Henry Spencer (1790-1833), my fifth great uncle and two of his daughters Sarah (1817-1833) and Elizabeth (1819-1833), my first cousins five times removed.
  • Christopher Spencer (1798-1833,) my fifth great uncle.

The following chart shows how the family members were related to each other:

Spencer family descendant chart
Descendant chart for the Spencer family

A transcription of the parish burial records for the four family members is shown below. It was annotated to indicate that Henry, Elizabeth and Sarah were a “father and two daughters”.

Stillingfleet Parish Records -extract of family burials

The Tragedy

In order to find out more about what happened to the people who died, the two main York newspapers of the time, Yorkshire Gazette and York Herald, were consulted for further details. The Yorkshire Gazette (28 December 1833, page 3) provided a lengthy report of the incident. Fourteen people from the Stillingfleet church choir had set out in the early afternoon of 26 December 1833 to sing Christmas hymns at various places within the parish. This had involved travelling on the River Ouse in a small boat owned by a local fisherman called John Turner.

About 4pm, as dusk was setting in, the party were on the river, having left Acaster Selby, heading downstream on the ebbing tide towards Stillingfleet landing. Two members of the party, John Fisher and George Eccles were rowing the boat, when they came across a coal barge called Perseverance, coming up the river towards them. It had its sails up with a rope to a horse on the Acaster side river bank. It is not clear why John Turner recommended the men row the boat between the barge and the river bank, but the consequences for the choir were devastating. They were unable to row it over the rope, despite it being loosened by Stephen Green who was leading the horse; and, although an attempt was made to lift the rope over the boat, the boat capsized. Of the 14 people who had set off that afternoon, only three survived: John Fisher, George Eccles and Richard Toes. Despite an extensive search of the river the following day only nine of the eleven missing choir members bodies were found; they were:

  • Five men: William Bristow (55, parish clerk), Christopher Spencer (36), Henry Spencer (44), John Turner (55) and Thomas Webster (44)
  • Four young women: Elizabeth Buckle (15, daughter of the inn keeper), Elizabeth Spencer (14, daughter of Henry Spencer), Clarissa Sturdy (15, daughter of the schoolmaster) and Jane Turner (16, daughter of John Turner).

The bodies of two young women were not found: Sarah Eccles (16, daughter of George Eccles) and Sarah Spencer (16, daughter of Henry Spencer).

The Yorkshire Gazette reported that, on the day after the tragedy that:

A little after two o’clock, Bessy Spencer, one of the daughters of Henry Spencer, was found. The family was sorely afflicted. The disconsolate widow, who has a child at the breast, is left with eight children and is herself in a delicate state of health, having recently been a patient in the County Hospital.”

The following map shows the approximate location of the accident together with the location of Acaster Selby and Stillingfleet landing:

OS Yorkshire 204 map dated 1849

The Inquest

An inquest into the tragedy was held on 27 December 1833 at the White Swan Inn, Stillingfleet where the landlord was Mr Sturdy, Clarissa’s father. The coroner was John Wood Esquire and a jury was elected from the local community. It was extensively reported in the York Herald (4 January 1834, page 3); the viewing of the nine deceased individuals was described as follows:

The bodies of the men presented a fine, robust appearance, – and those of the young women betoken that death spares neither youth, nor beauty.

A number of witnesses were called by the Coroner, including John Fisher, George Eccles, William Rogerson (captain of the Perseverance) and Stephen Green from Cawood who was leading the horse. While it seems clear that John Turner, the owner of the rowing boat, had recommended that it pass between the coal barge and the river bank on the Acaster side of the river, it isn’t clear why he suggested this course of action. He was one of the five men killed; his proposal had been agreed by the others because they thought that, as a regular user of the river, he was more knowledgeable than they were. If they had stayed on the Stillingfleet side of the river then the accident would have been avoided.

The crew on board the Perseverance were unable to use their own boat to help those in the water as it had come loose and drifted free when they had run their barge to the river bank where it became stuck in the mud. They did rescue two of the men, John Fisher and Richard Toes, who were clinging onto the rope between the barge and the horse.

After hearing all the evidence, the coroner declared that the incident was “clearly an accident” and the jury:

Without hesitation returned, a verdict in each case, of ACCIDENTALLY DROWNED, with a deodand of 1s[hilling] on the boat. “

Note: a deodand is a legal term for the instrument which caused a person’s death. (Hey, 2008) In this case the boat was deemed at fault for the accident.

The Funeral

A report of the funeral appeared in the Yorkshire Gazette (4 January 1834, page 3). A large single grave for the nine bodies had been dug by 30 members of the village; P B Thompson Esquire, a local landowner, paid all the funeral expenses. The funeral was attended by a large number of people as quoted in the newspaper:

The number of mourners could not be less than 120, and the emotions they displayed were heartrending in the extreme.”

The Reverend Bree from Haxby officiated, with the Stillingfleet minister, Reverend D F Markham, giving a sermon. Choristers from the nearby Escrick church also assisted with the funeral. Reverend Markham was acknowledged as having visited the bereaved families to offer support and assistance.

Coffins for the nine parishioners had been made by the workmen at Escrick Hall, paid for by P B Thompson Esquire and were described thus:

The coffins were made of black wood, – those of the men being neatly ornamented with gilt wire, – and those of the females, with white ornaments.”

The coffins were taken into the church in three groups of three for the service, with the final group comprising Henry Spencer, Elizabeth Spencer and Christopher Spencer. After the service the coffins were taken to the churchyard and laid side by side in the grave. Concern for the bereaved families was mentioned in the newspaper and that they were likely to need financial help.

Spencer Family

The consequences of the tragedy for the two Spencer families were significant; they were left without breadwinners. Christopher had a wife and four children and Henry a wife and eight children. 

Christopher’s wife, Jane Watson (born 1804) remarried in 1840. In the 1841 census she was in Stillingfleet with her husband, two further children and three of her children from her marriage to Christopher: Elizabeth (1827-1915), Charles (1832-1905) and Christopher (1834-1879). Christopher who was born after his father died was baptised on 31 August 1834 with his mother Jane described as a widow. Charles and Christopher, and their sibling, Sarah (1823-1899), and Edward (1829-1893), all went on to have families.

It seems likely that Henry’s family didn’t fair so well after the accident. His wife, Frances Harrison (1789-1834), died a year after her husband Henry. The fortunes of their eight surviving children varied somewhat as follows:

  • Hannah (1811-1894) married and moved to Cawood where she died.
  • George (1813-1882) married and moved near Doncaster where his death was registered.
  • John (1815-1836) died aged 21 and is buried in Stillingfleet.
  • Frances (1822-1878) married and emigrated to Canada in 1851 with her family.
  • Mary (born 1826) was probably a servant in York in 1851. She may have been a pupil at the Grey Coats School for Girls in York.
  • Anne (1828-1846) died aged 18 and is buried in Stillingfleet.
  • Jane (1830-1873) married and moved to York where she died.
  • Henry (1833-1926) married, became a farmer, and died in Thorganby.

I am interested in knowing more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Baptisms, marriages and burials. : accessed March 2021.

Census records. : accessed March 2021.

Hey, David. Ed (2008) The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Newspapers. Collection: British Newspaper Collection. : accessed March 2021.

OS Maps. : March 2021.

Stillingfleet. : accessed March 2021.

Alfred and Martha Haw – York, England

Alfred Haw (1869-1940) is my first cousin four times removed. He was born in Heslington, near York, the youngest son of Joseph Haw (1818-1875) and his second wife Anne Cariss (1827-1888). In 1871 Joseph was farming 55 acres in Heslington. By 1891 Alfred was a general labourer living with his brother Frederick (1861-1936), a gardener, at 93A Heworth, York. Alfred married Martha Emma Fowler (1867-1938) on 10 July 1892 in the Centenary Chapel (Wesleyan Methodist), in York. Alfred was described as a labourer from Dennison St, York and Martha, a domestic servant, whose father John, a railway foreman, was deceased. Alfred’s brother Edwin was one of the witnesses.

Alfred and Martha had four daughters and one son. No baptism record has been found for Elsie their eldest daughter. Lydia, Lily and Alfred were all baptised in St Maurice’s Church, Monkgate while the family were living in Dennison St. The church was demolished in 1966. Ivy was baptised at St Thomas’, York with a change to her father Alfred’s occupation. Their address’ proximity to the Rowntree Cocoa works, suggest that Alfred was working at Rowntree’s by November 1899. The following table shows their children’s birth and baptisms and where the family were living in York and Alfred’s occupation.

Child’s nameBirth dateBaptism dateAddressAlfred’s occupation
Elsie Evelyn Haw21 Jul 1893   
Lydia Anne Haw21 Aug 18954 Sep 189517 Dennison StLabourer
Lily Constance Haw05 Dec 189623 Dec 189617 Dennison StLabourer
Alfred Edward HawQ2 189827 Apr 189817 Dennison StLabourer
Ivy Maud HawQ4 189915 Nov 1899Ashville StPacker
Table 1 Baptism details for Alfred and Martha’s children

All seems to have been well with the family until the later part of the 19th century. However, what happened to the family in the early 20th century becomes less clear. In the 1901 census Alfred was recorded as the only member of his household at 2 Ashville St, York. Neither his wife Martha nor any of his five children were recorded as living with him at the time. Further census records for his wife Martha and son Alfred have so far proved elusive. Three of Alfred and Martha’s daughters, Elsie, Lydia and Lily, were recorded in the 1901 census in St Stephen’s Orphanage, Trinity Lane, York and their youngest daughter Ivy was probably living with Frederick, one of Alfred’s siblings.

St Stephen’s orphanage was set up in York in 1870 in a house in Precentor’s court near York Minster to provide for destitute orphans. By 1901 the orphanage occupied premises in Trinity Lane (numbers 21, 23, 25 and 27), York and that is where Alfred and Martha’s daughters were living in the 1901 census. By then it was providing for children who had lost one or both their parents. Elsie, Lydia and Lily’s father Alfred was alive in 1901, as evidenced by his entry in the 1901 census. The following extract from the OS (1910) Yorkshire CLXXIV.SW map shows the location of Trinity Lane in York (marked by a square box). The premises occupied by the orphanage have been converted to residential use.

OS (1910) Yorkshire CLXXIV.SW map

What is unclear is what had happened to Martha and her son Alfred by the 1901 census; they haven’t been found in either the 1901 or later censuses in York.

By the 1911 census it seems that Alfred senior had been reunited with two of his daughters: Lily and Ivy, who were living with him at 2 Ashville St, York; his occupation was recorded as a labourer. His two eldest daughters, Elsie and Lydia, were both working as servants. Elsie was a housemaid at The Mount School in York and Lydia a kitchen maid at Alne Hall, Yorkshire. The following extract from the OS (1910) Yorkshire CLXXIV.NW map shows the location of Ashville St in York (marked by a square box).

OS (1910) Yorkshire CLXXIV.NW map

The FindmyPast collection of National School Admission Registers and Log-Books helped bridge the gap between the 1901 and 1911 census records. Some information about the girl’s education was gleaned from these records, although no information for their son Alfred was found. The following table charts each of their daughter’s education.

Elsie Evelyn HawLydia Anne HawLily Constance HawIvy Maud Haw
SchoolBishophill and Clementhorpe Infants for GirlsBishophill and Clementhorpe Infants for GirlsPark Grove Infants for GirlsPark Grove Infants for Girls
Date entered21 Feb 190229 Jun 190313 Aug 190615 Feb 1910
Home addressThe Home, Skeldergate58 Skeldergate13 Lord Mayor’s Walk2 Ashville St
Date left4 Jul 19027 Jul 190429 Jan 190725 Aug 1911
Next schoolGrey Coat School for GirlsGrey Coat School for GirlsHaxby SchoolLeeman Rd School
Table 2 Four daughters and their schools

Elsie and Lydia also attended the Grey Coat School for girls. This was a charity school which fed, clothed and prepared pupils for domestic service.  

Whilst no further information has been found for Alfred and Martha’s son Alfred, Martha’s death certificate does help to explain what had happened to her. She died on 5 February 1938 in York City Mental Hospital, Fulford. It is possible that she had been in a mental institution since around the turn of the 20th century, although that has not yet been confirmed. A visit to the Borthwick to consult their mental health records is planned for when archives can re-open.

It looks like Alfred was unable to cope with his children around the time of the 1901 census, hence why he was living on his own and three of his daughters were in St Stephen’s Orphanage and his youngest was probably living with one of his brothers. He was reunited with his two youngest daughters by 1911. It is likely that the education his two older daughters Elsie and Lydia received meant that they were able to secure work by the time of the 1911 census.

Only one of Alfred and Martha’s daughters, Ivy, married; the other three remained single. Brief biographies for Alfred and his four daughters are as follows:

Alfred Haw (1869-1940) continued to live in 2 Ashville St, York and in the 1939 Register he was listed as a widow and confectioner’s labourer with two of his unmarried daughters: Elsie and Lydia. He died in York in Q2, 1940 at the age of 70.

Elsie Evelyn Haw (1893-1984) remained single and in the 1939 register was recorded as a housekeeper. She died in York in Q2, 1984 at the age of 90.

Lydia Anne Haw (1895-1985) was a daily maid in 1939. She was living at 2 Ashville St, York when died on 25 September 1985. She left an estate of approximately £40,000 and was the last member of her immediate family to live at the address.

Lily Constance Haw (1896-1983) was a patient in the York City Mental Hospital in Fulford, near York in the 1939 Register. Her personal occupation was described as “private means”. She died at the age of 85 and her death was registered in York in Q1, 1983.

Ivy Maud Haw (1899-1977) married Joseph Taylor in Q2 1932. They were living at 34 Diamond St, York in the 1939 Register. Ivy died in York in Q1, 1977.

I am interested in knowing more about all the people mentioned in this blog post, and in particular what happened to Alfred and Martha’s son Alfred. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share.

Note: the maps used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


National School Admission Registers and Log-Books 1870-1914. : accessed February 2021.

OS Maps. : February 2021.

St Maurice, Monkgate. : accessed February 2021.

St Stephen’s Orphanage, York. : accessed February 2021.

St Stephen’s Orphanage, York. : accessed February 2021.

Tillott, P. M. ed. (1961) Victoria County History: A History of Yorkshire, The City of York. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 440-460.

Methodism in York and the Haw family

Whilst researching my Haw ancestors I came across a number of them who had been baptised and/or married in Methodist chapels in York. I didn’t know much about Methodism in York so this post starts with some brief information on how Methodism developed in York before looking at some of my ancestors and the chapels where I’ve found baptism and marriage records for them.

Methodism in York

According to the Victoria County History for York, Methodism was first introduced in York in 1744 by John Nelson, a stonemason, who was an early Wesleyan convert. By 1747 a society had been formed and Methodists continued to meet in a house in the Bedern until 1752. After that meetings were held in a number of places in the city, including Pump Yard. Both Charles and John Wesley preached in York, with John preaching there 15 times between 1761 and 1790.

The first chapel to be established in York was the Peasholme Green chapel, probably opened by John Wesley, in 1759. It was built to accommodate 400 worshippers. Methodists did also continue to meet in other places in the city, including Coppergate and Coffee Yard.

The next chapel to be built in York was New Street Wesleyan chapel which held 1500-2000 worshippers and was completed in 1805. The Peasholme Green chapel was then sold. New Street Chapel continued in use until 1908 when it was sold. Its closure had been mooted in 1897 as a result of the extension of Methodism into the neighbourhoods of Bootham and Clifton. Further chapels were built in different places to serve the needs of Methodists in the city, including two of particular interest with regards to my Methodist ancestors; the Centenary Methodist chapel in St Saviourgate and Melbourne Terrace Wesleyan chapel.

Primitive Methodism was introduced to York through the preaching of William Clowes in May 1819. This was followed by other local evangelical preachers. Although initially small, the York branch expanded and occupied the Grape Lane chapel. This was vacated in 1851 when the Ebenezer chapel in Little Stonegate was opened. It was the principal Primitive Methodist chapel in York until the new Monkgate chapel was opened in 1903; it provided accommodation for 775 people and the organ from the Ebenezer chapel was rebuilt and installed within it.

A development of Methodism, Wesleyan Protestant Methodism, was first introduced to York in 1829. Their first chapel in Lady Peckitt’s Yard was opened in 1830 followed by the Monk Bar chapel in 1859 which was able to accommodate 800 people. Financial problems meant that in 1917 the trustees agreed to its disposal. This was avoided by amalgamating it in early 1919 with the York Central Mission. It then became the Monk Bar Central mission which was closed in 1934. The building itself is still in use as commercial premises.    

Haw Methodist ancestors

William Haw (1780-1855) and Phillis Feather (1788-1844) are my fourth great grandparents.  All the people mentioned in this blog post are related to them.  The majority adopted Wesleyan Methodism .

The first ancestor I found who married in a Methodist chapel is Sarah Haw (1839-1896). She is my first cousin four times removed and is William and Phillis’s granddaughter. Sarah married William Thorpe (1841-1920 on 10 August 1867 in New St Wesleyan Chapel. The chapel was located in New Street, York and was converted into the Tower cinema in 1920. It was damaged in WWII and later demolished. The following 1910 map of York has been annotated to show the location of the New Street Wesleyan chapel which is circled in purple.  

OS Map York 1910 CLXXIVNW

Baptisms have been found for four of Sarah and William’s children as follows:

Date of baptismChild’s nameMethodist chapelFamily’s address
2 Sept 1868Sarah Ellen Thorpe (1868-1902)New Street Wesleyan ChapelPark Crescent
4 Feb 1871John Edwin Thorpe (1871-1931)New Street Wesleyan ChapelGoodramgate
7 Dec 1877Laura Thorpe (b 1877)New Street Wesleyan ChapelLow Petergate
30 Mar 1880Rose Ann Thorpe (b 1880)Pontefract non-conformistNot known

Although their daughter Rose was baptised in Pontefract, the family moved back to York where her father William was recorded as a school attendance officer in the 1891 census.

A record has also been found for another family member who married in New Street Wesleyan Methodist chapel. Annie Eliza Haw (1867-1914) married William Douglass (1850-1918) on 10 November 1890. Annie was William’s second wife and he was described as a widower and a tailor on their marriage certificate. One of the witnesses was Annie’s brother Edwin Haw (1866-1945). Annie and Edwin are my first cousins four times removed and Sarah Haw’s (1839-1896) is their first cousin. Annie and William did not have any of their children baptised in a Methodist chapel; they used St Maurice’s Church in Monkgate. The following image shows New Street Wesleyan chapel.

New Street Wesleyan Methodist chapel

Moving on next to Maria Mason (1861-1942), my second cousin three times removed. She was the daughter of James Mason (1831-1872) and Elizabeth Haw (1837-1902), my first cousin four times removed. Elizabeth’s cousins are Sarah Haw and Annie Eliza Haw who were also involved with New Street Wesleyan chapel as discussed above. Maria had been baptised in St Lawrence’s Church in York but her brother Albert was baptised a Methodist in the Monk Bar United Methodist chapel on 14 February 1871. He later married Kate Adams (1871-1955), a Roman Catholic whose family came from Ireland, in 1895. More information on him can be found in the WWII submariner story.

The 1881 census for York shows Maria and her brother Albert living with their mother Elizabeth, her second husband John Law (1825-1886), their two children and George Poole (1857-1942) a lodger and groom. One Elizabeth and John Law’s children, Sarah Elizabeth Law (1876-1937), was baptised in Monk Bar United Methodist chapel on 28 January 1877.

Maria married George Poole on 20 August 1881 in the Ebenezer Primitive Methodist chapel; they both gave their address as Gray’s Court, York and George’s occupation was recorded as a coachman. The chapel had been built in Little Stonegate in 1851 and was closed in 1901. The building is listed and still in use as commercial premises.

Maria and George baptised their children in the Monk Bar United Methodist chapel (see above map where the chapel is ringed in blue) as follows:

Date of baptismChild’s nameMethodist chapelFamily’s address
1 Mar 1882Ada Poole (1882-1947)Monk Bar United Methodist7 Gray’s Court
21 Mar 1883James Poole (1883-1916)Monk Bar United Methodist7 Gray’s Court
19 Nov 1884William Ewart Poole (b 1884)Monk Bar United MethodistGray’s Court
19 Oct 1887Edith Mary Poole (b 1887)Monk Bar United Methodist2 Gray’s Court, Ogleforth
13 Mar 1889Annie Elizabeth Poole (b 1889)Monk Bar United Methodist2 Gray’s Court
18 Jun 1890Frank Lockwood Poole (1890-1917)Monk Bar United Methodist18 Nelson Street
7 Oct 1896Edward Poole (1896-1915)Monk Bar United MethodistNelson Street
14 Mar 1900Maria Louisa Poole (1900-1934)Monk Bar United Methodist11 Emerald Street, Park Grove

The Melbourne Terrace Wesleyan Methodist chapel also features in the family’s history. Emma Bean’s (1853-1825) cousin, Ann Bean (1843-1911), married my second great grandfather William Haw (1846-1907) and she has been included here as a member of the extended Haw family.  Emma married William John Oxtoby (1857-1932) on 29 May 1882 in the parish church of East Acklam, Yorkshire.  They subsequently moved to York and had at least five children. So far, I have found Methodist baptisms for three of their children as follows:

Date of baptismChild’s nameMethodist chapelFamily’s address
17 Nov 1883William John Oxtoby (1883-1944)Melbourne Terrace Wesleyan ChapelAlne Terrace
7 Dec 1884Henry Ewart Oxtoby (1884-1963)Melbourne Terrace Wesleyan ChapelAlne Terrace
1 Oct 1890Albert Oxtoby (1890-1954)Centenary Methodist chapel, St SaviourgatePalmer House, Palmer Street

The following map shows the location of the Melbourne Terrace chapel and nearby Alne Terrace.

OS Map York 1910 CLXXIVSE

The chapel the family would have been familiar with was demolished and rebuilt in the 1950s. The Centenary Methodist chapel in St Saviourgate is marked in green on the first map in this blog post. It was built in 1840 and became the Central Methodist church in 1982.

The final Methodist member of the Haw family to be included in this blog post is George Haw (1857-1931), my first cousin four times removed. He married Esther Ambler (1863-1913) on 11 March 1884 in Shipton parish church, Yorkshire. They too moved to York and I found just one Methodist baptism for their eldest son George William Haw (1884-1966). He was baptised in the Melbourne Terrace Wesleyan chapel on 7 June 1885 when the family were living at 8 Milton street, off the Hull Road. Unfortunately, there are no further records for Melbourne Terrace in the FindmyPast online collection after 1885. The original records are held at the Borthwick Institute in York and a visit there in the future is planned.

I am interested in knowing more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.

Note: the maps used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Central Methodist Church, St Saviourgate, York.  : accessed October 2020.

Cinema Treasures, Tower Cinema, New Street, York. : accessed October 2020.

Ebenezer Chapel, York. : accessed October 2020.

Genealogical records. : accessed October 2020.

Genealogical records. : accessed October 2020.

Genuki/York. : accessed October 2020.

OS Maps. : accessed October 2020.

Tillott, P. M. ed. (1961) Victoria County History: A History of Yorkshire, The City of York. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 404-418.

A submariner in World War II – George Leonard Mason (1913-1943)

George served on the submarine HMS Turbulent during World War II and was declared dead after the submarine went missing while out on patrol in 1943. He was my third cousin 3 times removed and his grandmother Elizabeth Haw (1837-1902) was my first cousin 4 times removed.

George was the youngest son of Albert Mason (1870-1932) and Kate Adams (1876-1955). While his father Albert had been baptised in Monk Bar United Methodist Chapel on 14 February 1870, his mother Kate was a Roman Catholic. Kate’s parents had been born in Ireland and Albert and Kate married in St Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church, York on 14 September 1895. George was baptised in St Sampson’s Church, Church Street, York on 27 April 1913 when the family were living at 3 Wilmots Court, Swinegate (see the following map for Swinegate and St Sampson Church which is just nearby in Church Street and circled in red).

Extract from OS Map York 1910 CLXIVNW

By 1939 George had married Annie Upton (1912-1991) and they had had a son Leonard (1936-2003). The family were living at 44 Kyme Street, which is inside the city walls and part of the Bishophill area of the city of York. George gave his occupation as a “maintenance mechanic motor transport”.

By 1943 George was a submariner on HMS Turbulent where he was described as a “engine room artificer 4th class”. An artificer is a Royal Navy trade and they are skilled mechanics. Presumably George’s previous experience as a mechanic was being put to use here.

The following photograph shows HMS Turbulent on the outboard side, moored up with HMS Taiku on the inboard side, in Algiers in 1943.

HMS Turbulent – Royal Navy Official Photographer, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

HMS Turbulent is known to have left Algiers on 23 February 1943 for a patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is part of the Mediterranean, to the west of Italy. She did not return from her patrol duties and was declared overdue on 23 March 1943. It is likely that she was torpedoed and sunk in early March, but the precise details have not been conclusively confirmed, and her wreck has not been found. Members of George’s family continued to live and work in York and George’s death is commemorated on the Naval Memorial at Plymouth.  

I am interested in knowing more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Commonwealth War Graves Commission. : accessed October 2020.

HMS Turbulent. : accessed October 2020.

HMS Turbulent. : accessed October 2020.

HMS Turbulent (N98). : accessed October 2020.

OS Maps. : accessed October 2020.

Royal Navy Trades. : accessed October 2020.

Two actors and an accidental drowning

My recent research into my family history has focused on my Haw ancestors. Whilst I have traced them back from my great grandmother Sarah Ann Haw (1874-1944), to my five times great grandfather William Haw (1755-1798), what I hadn’t done was look in more depth at each generation to identify further aunts, uncles and cousins.

The two actors and the accidental drowning who form part of this blog post were related to Maria Haw (1841-bef.1901) my first cousin four times removed. Maria’s father William Haw (1811-1897) was the brother of my three times great grandfather James (1804-1871).

Maria was born in 1841 and baptised on 26 September 1841 in St Maurice’s Church, Monkgate, York. By 1851 the family were living in nearby Gate Fulford where her father William was a gardener. There is then a gap in the information I have found for her until she married Henry Morley (1837-1881), a soldier, on 27 May 1868 in Ashton-under-Lyme in Lancashire. Later birth records for their children confirm their marriage although, when I first found it, it seemed unlikely it was her marriage. Henry’s military record includes information about him re-attesting for the 6th Dragoons on 7 January 1868 in York where he probably met Maria. He had previously served in the Crimea and Turkey, as well as the East Indies.

Henry attained the rank of Corporal in the 6th Dragoons and completed his military service on 5 January 1876. He gave his intended address as Lowther Street, York. While he was in the 6th Dragoons it is likely that Maria spent some of her time with him as this is reflected in where their children were born.  Their eldest daughter Annie was born in Aldershot, Hampshire in 1871, son William in Tipperary, Ireland in 1872, son Charles in 1873 in York and daughter Lavinia in 1876 in York. The following chart shows Henry and Maria, their four children, their children’s spouses and their grandchildren. The two actors are circled in blue and the accidental drowning in red.

Descendant chart for Henry Morley and Maria Haw

Although Henry and Maria’s eldest daughter Annie’s birth was registered in Aldershot, Hampshire, she was baptised in York, Yorkshire on 28 May 1871. The family were recorded in York in the 1881 census and, at the age of 20, Annie married George Curryer (1848-1925), an actor, on 10 June 1890 in Folkestone, Kent. He gave his condition on their marriage certificate as a widower; however, Annie was his second wife. He had previously married Mary Ann Wheeler on 26 January 1874. Together they had had four children, only one of whom was still alive in 1882 when George divorced Mary as a result of her adultery with Edward Shelton. Mary was also an actress who performed under the stage name Mabel Verner

On both his marriage certificates George gave his father’s details as Thomas Curryer, gentleman. George had spent his early life in Islington, London. It is not clear when George became an actor. In the 1871 census his occupation was recorded as an architect, but by 1874, when he married Mary, he considered himself an actor. His father Thomas was a retired stationer in 1871 living at no 20 St John’s Villas, Upper Holloway, London.  

After their marriage George and Annie, and their two-month old daughter Madge, were next found in the 1891 census living in Scarborough with Annie’s mother Maria, her second husband James Davison (b. 1852) and her three Morley siblings. George’s occupation was recorded as an actor. Maria and George went on to have a son Henry (1893-1920). However, after the 1891 census George and Annie were not found together in later census records.  

So far, I’ve been unable to find Annie in the 1901 census. There is an education record for her son Henry which shows that he was admitted to Acomb School on 19 March 1900 by his mother Annie who gave her address as 4 Whitehall Cottages, Acomb. These were near Southview Terrace as shown on the 1910 OS map below. (Acomb Schools are also circled on the map.) In addition, her daughter Madge was recorded as living at 4 White Hall Cottages with her “aunt and uncle” in 1901. Henry was in London with his father George and uncle William Curryer, a retired jeweller, living at 62 Vicarage Road, Tottenham.

Extract from OS Map York 1910 CL.XXIVSW

By 1911, George’s census entry states that he had married 20 years ago and his address was 142 Gladstone Buildings, Willow Street, Finsbury, London. He continued to live there until his death on 17 December 1925. Probate was granted to his brother Henry.  His wife Annie was probably living in London in the early 1900s although records for her have been difficult to find.

George and Annie’s son Henry enlisted as a Royal Marine. He was serving on HMS Lowestoft in South Africa when he accidentally drowned on 19 March 1920. He was buried in the cemetery at Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape and his mother’s address was given as 128 Brixton Hill, London.  It is possible that by then she was calling herself Alice Curryer rather than Annie. Perhaps the 1921 census will help me to find out what happened to her.

The second actor in the family was Annie’s younger sister Lavinia (b 1876) who had married Henry Paine (b 1872) in 1898 in London. She was described as an actress in the 1911 census. A snippet from the Music Hall and Theatre Review dated 21 December 1911 details her appearance in a comedy sketch called “The man who knew a bit” at the Leicester Pavilion. It is possible her husband moved to the USA but it is unclear what happened to Lavinia.

With regards to Annie and Lavinia’s two brothers William Morley (1872-1957) and Charles Morley (1873-1952), they both continued to live and work in Scarborough. By 1911 William was a lithographic printer and his address, when he died in 1957, was 80 Highfield, Scarborough. Charles was recorded as a watch repairer in 1939 and was living at 42 Trafalgar Road, Scarborough when he died in 1952.  The brothers lived within about a mile and a half from each other during their lives.

I am interested in knowing more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Darby, Neil. (2017) Life on the Victorian Stage: Theatrical Gossip. Barnsley: Pen and Sword.

OS Maps. : accessed October 2020.

Music Hall and Theatre Review. : accessed October 2020.

Stanley Pickard (1760-1779) – a short life

Whilst researching my ancestors on the Sarginson side of my family I came across a record which intrigued me. Stanley, my first cousin seven times removed, seems to have been apprenticed to a member of the Glover’s Livery Company in London in 1779. The Company was one of the City’s ancient Livery Companies with a Hall which had been established in Beech Lane, Cripplegate in 1638. However, by the late 18th Century the number of members in the Company had decreased and the Hall was given up as there were limited funds to maintain it. Unfortunately, there is only a transcribed record of Stanley’s apprenticeship which states that he was the son of George Pickard from Dunkeswick, Yorkshire who had died by 1779.   Stanley was apprenticed to William Pickard on 25 January 1779.

Further research determined that Stanley had been born on 9 April 1760 and baptised on 7 May 1760 in All Saints Church, Harewood, Yorkshire to parents George and Mary from nearby Dunkeswick. George’s sister Catherine Pickard (1732-1793), is my six times great grandmother (1737-1775) and married Thomas Selby (1730-1818) on 24 November 1754 in Sherburn in Elmet, Yorkshire.

All Saints Church, Harewood – Tim Green / CC BY (

At the time of his burial in 1775, George (1737-1775) was described as a labourer from Dunkeswick. The 1848 Topographical Directory of England describes Dunkeswick as a township within the parish of Harewood in the West Riding of Yorkshire. In the late 18th century much of the lands were owned by the Lascelles family and the parish is well known for a significant property: Harewood House. Catherine’s brother William (1729-1807) was a tenant farmer in Dunkeswick on land owned by the Lascelles family.

It is unclear how Stanley came to be apprenticed to a master glover in London. While the master was called William Pickard, there does not seem to be a close connection between his father George and his master William. What does seem to be the case is that Stanley did not complete his apprenticeship. A record for his burial was found in the parish records of St Mary at Hill parish church near Billingsgate, London. It shows that he was buried on 31 August 1779 aged 19. No further information was included in the record. It seems that his apprenticeship was short lived.

I found a further record for his brother James (1763-1832) which showed that he did gain the freedom of the City of London on 3 April 1799, on payment of 46 shillings and 8 pence, after completing his apprenticeship with the Draper’s Livery Company. His father was also named as George Pickard from Dunkeswick, deceased. So far, I’ve been unable to find James’ apprenticeship record. Draper’s Hall does still exist in the City of London in Throgmorton Street.

I am interested in Stanley’s ancestors as I have limited information about them. Do contact me if you know more about the family.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Harewood Parish. : accessed August 2020.

London Apprenticeship Records. : accessed August 2020.

London Freedom of the City Admission papers. : accessed August 2020.

OS Maps. : accessed August 2020.

St Mary at Hill Church. : accessed August 2020.

The Drapers Livery Company. : accessed August 2020.

The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London. : accessed August 2020.

West Riding Land Tax Records. : accessed August 2020.

Yorkshire baptisms, marriages and burials. : accessed August 2020.

Searching for a landed gentry family in my ancestry

As a family historian I was hoping that at some point I would find a significant historical figure in my family. Early on in my research I came across a possible link into the Fairfax family who had risen to significance during the English Civil War. On further investigation it proved incorrect as there were two Henrie Arthington’s living in the old West Riding of Yorkshire during the 17th century. The first Henrie Arthington (1616/7-1681) was baptised on the 2 January 1616/7 in St John the Baptists Church in Adel; his parents were William and Ann Tancred. Arthington is also a place within the parish of Adel and Arthington Hall was the seat of the Arthington family from 13th to 18th century. Henrie married Mary Fairfax (1616-1678) in 1638; Mary’s father was Ferdinando Fairfax (1584-1648) who was on the side of the parliamentarians in the Civil War and was at Marston Moor. The second Henrie Arthington (1605-1656/7) was my 10th great grandfather and he was buried in Gargrave on 19 January 1656/7. Gargrave is near Skipton in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Henrie married Elizabeth Shaw and I am descended from their son William (1630-1670) – see the following chart.

Descendant Chart for Henrie Arthingtoncropped

Descendant chart for Henrie Arthington of Gargrave

I have a copy of the transcribed Gargrave Parish Records for the period 1558-1812 which include quite a lot of records for members of the Arthington family, some of which I’ve been unable to link to my own family. For example, the register records on 10 April 1637 an agreement that the vicar and churchwardens had come to over the pew rights of Richard Arthington and that “Henrie Currar is contented to suffer the said Richard Arthington to sitt in (the pew) during his natural life”. If anyone else has been able to link together more of these Arthington records then do please contact me.


Waterhouse family coat of arms

Turning then to another landed gentry family, the Waterhouses, it seems likely that there are connections between them and my ancestors. My first clue came when I eventually found the baptism for Bridget Waterhouse in the Braithwell parish register. Braithwell is in the West Riding of Yorkshire and Bridget had been baptised on 6 October 1635 with her father recorded as Charles, gent. Bridget married Thomas South (1629-1685) on 30 April 1655 in Braithwell and they are my 9th great grandparents.



St James Church Braithwell ID 166756155 © Peter Shaw |

Bridget’s father Charles proved more difficult to find until I found a reference to Charles in the pedigree of the Waterhouse family of Braithwell (near Halifax) reproduced in Joseph Hunter’s history of South Yorkshire. Charles was one of Thomas Waterhouse and Dorothy Vincent’s younger sons and his baptism was recorded in 1580 in the Braithwell parish registers; the registers can be found on Family Search. Thomas and Dorothy had married in 1573 and the lands of the Vincent family at Braithwell passed to Dorothy, the daughter and heir of Thomas Vincent, and thus her husband Thomas Waterhouse. Very little information could be found for Charles, although he does seem to have received an inheritance when his father died. The estates at Braithwell went to his elder brother Vincent and were passed to his descendants.


OS map 1854 showing Micklebring and Moot Hall in the parish of Braithwell

Charles’s father Thomas (1547-1598) is descended from the Waterhouse family of Halifax whose pedigree is recorded in Foster’s Yorkshire families and can be traced back to Sir Gilbert Waterhouse (1275-1340). Thomas’s grandfather was Robert Waterhouse (1500-1581) of both Moot Hall and Shibden Hall which his wife Sibil’s (1500-1588) grandfather William Otes had owned. Shibden Hall dates from the early 15th century and was owned by the Savile and Waterhouse families before the Lister family. One of the Lister families descendants was Anne Lister, also known as ‘Gentleman Jack’.

Returning now to Bridget Waterhouse and her husband Thomas South, after their marriage they continued to live in Micklebring near Braithwell and had at least 10 children: eight boys and two girls. Three of their children died young and no marriages could be found for any of their siblings in the Braithwell parish register. It seems that some family members did marry in the nearby parish of Conisbrough. Thomas’s burial record in the Braithwell parish register records that an affidavit was sworn indicating that he had been buried in a woollen shroud. Thomas and Bridget’s son Samuel (1677/78-1729) is my 8th great grandfather. The family chart shows Thomas and Bridget and their children.

Descendant Chart for Thomas Southcropped

Descendant chart for Thomas South and Bridget Waterhouse

I am interested in knowing more about the South family as I have not been able to trace all of Thomas and Bridget’s children. Do contact me if you know more about them.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Adel, West Riding of Yorkshire. : accessed July 2020.

Braithwell, West Riding of Yorkshire. : accessed July 2020.

Braithwell, West Riding of Yorkshire. : accessed July 2020.

Burke’s Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland. : accessed July 2020.

Clay, John W. ed. (1895) Familiae Minorum Gentium. London: The Harleian Society. Vol III. pp. 844-850. : accessed July 2020.

Foster, Joseph. (1874) Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire: West Riding. London: W Wilfred Head. Vol II. : accessed July 2020.

Hunter, Rev Joseph.  (1828) South Yorkshire. London: Hunter. Vol II pp. 130-135.

Gargrave, West Riding of Yorkshire. : accessed July 2020.

OS Maps. : accessed July 2020.

Turner, J. Horsfall. (1883) Biographica Halifaxensis. Bingley: T Harrison. Vol I. pp. 274-276. : accessed July 2020.

Turner, J. Horsfall. (1911) The Coats of Arms of the Nobility and Gentry of Yorkshire. Idle: John Wade. : accessed July 2020.

George Hamnette Bean (1864-1958)

I came across George while researching my Bean ancestors. In a family who often worked on the land or as domestic servants he stood out as someone with a different occupation. The 1891 census records him as a musician and I also found a record for him which described him as a bandsman on a ship. But before we get to that I would like to explain his relationship to me; George is my first cousin three times removed.

George was the third son of William Bean (b 1837) and Mary Askew (b 1832) and was baptised in the Chapel in Sowerby, Yorkshire on 10th July 1864. His father’s occupation was given as butler and their residence as Lower Brockwell. In the 1861 census George’s parents were both living in Sowerby but in different houses. William was a domestic servant in Mill House which was headed by William Henry Rawson, Deputy Lieutenant, Magistrate and woollen merchant. William’s wife Mary was living at nearby Stansfield Lodge with their first son Frederick Joshua Bean (1859-1869). In 1871 the family were at Brockwell house where William was the butler to the Rawson family (see annotated map). He was still a butler in 1881; George was then aged 15 and a wool teaser.


1894 OS Map showing Sowerby, Brock Well House and Mill House

George enlisted in 21st Hussars as a private in 1882, served in Dublin, Ireland and arrived in Colchester, Essex on 15 July 1887. He married his wife Harriet Ann Wroe (1864-1942) on 19 September 1887 in Colchester. George went with his regiment to India and his military records show that he arrived there on 21 December 1887. Within a year he was in hospital in Bangalore. George served in the East Indies for just over two years and was back home by 19 December 1889. His military record shows that he had completed seven years’ service, and that in 1889 he was transferred to the Army Reserve and discharged in 1894. Unfortunately, the record does not confirm his occupation at the end of his military service, just that he had been a wool teaser when he enlisted. It’s George’s WWI enlistment record for the 2nd East Lancashire Brigade in 1915 which gave his occupation as a musician. It does seem possible that George became a musician during his military service with the 21st Hussars.

George and Harriet’s first two daughter, Gladys (1890-1926) and Marjorie (1892-1976), were born in Sowerby. By the 1891 census the family were living in Redcar, North Yorkshire when George was described as a musician and their address was No. 2 Beach Cottage. Between 1891 and 1901 George and Harriet had four more children, Esme (1893-1893) born in Yorkshire, and then Esme (1895-1986), George Frederick (1897-1985) and Kenneth William (1900-1901) born in Lancashire. In 1901 the family were living at 6 Molyneux Street, Levenshulme, South Manchester, Lancashire. George’s occupation was recorded as “musician orchestral”.  A record for George in the 1911 census wasn’t found, but one for his wife Harriet was. She was living with four of their children at 26 Clare Road, Levenshulme. Harriet was described as an elementary school head teacher. It is possible that George was working away from home at the time of the 1911 census.

The next record I found for George was on the ship Oronsa’s crew list. His address was listed as 26 Clare Road and he had signed an agreement to board the ship on 11 July 1912 at 6am as a bandsman. His wages were £3 per month and he left the ship in Liverpool on 14 October 1912. The Oronsa was a steel hulled steam ship which had been built by Harland and Wolfe in Belfast in 1906. It was operated by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company on their Liverpool to Argentina route. During WW1 it what used as a cargo steamer; it was sunk by a U-Boat on 29 April 1918.


Ship Oronsa

George re-enlisted in the army, the 2nd East Lancashire Brigade, in Manchester at the age of 50 on 16 March 1915. He was attached to the 2nd Reserve Battalion of the Royal Field Artillery as a gunner and served at “home” probably in the 190th Territorial Force Depot in Manchester. He was discharged from military service on 6 July 1917. His army pension papers include a note from 26 Clare St, Levenshulme, written on 15 February 1919, inquiring about his silver war badge which he later received.

George, Harriet and their four adult children left Levenshulme not long after WWI. George left London on 1 November 1919 and arrived in Melbourne, Australia on 12 December 1919 on the ship Orvieto; a cruise ship built in 1909 by Workman Clark, Belfast and owned by The Orient Company. The arrival of the ship was reported in a number of Australian newspapers as there were a number of returning soldiers and members of their families on it.

George and Harriet’s daughter Esme married Frank Unwin Simpson (1898-1964) on 11 December 1919. The witnesses to her marriage were her sister Marjorie and brother George. Her husband Frank left for Melbourne, Australia shortly after their wedding.

Harriet, their son George Frederick, his wife Louisa Durden (1901-1984), and daughters Gladys, Marjorie and Esme followed George and Frank to Australia. They left London for Melbourne on 17 June 1920 on the ship Beltana run by the P&O Branch Line Service and they all travelled third class.

It seems from electoral roll records that George, Harriet, their children and partners settled near Melbourne. Some of the family are buried in Box Hill Cemetery. Their son George and his wife Louisa are both buried in Drouin Cemetery in the shire of Baw Baw. Drouin is about 90 kilometres east of Melbourne.

I am interested in knowing more about what the Bean family did in Australia as I know very little about their lives there. Do contact me if you know more about them.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Australia Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980. : accessed June 2020.

Australia newspapers. : accessed June 2020.

British Army Service Records 1760-1915. : accessed June 2020.

British Army Service Records 1914-1920. : accessed June 2020.

British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920. : accessed June 2020.

Brockwell. : accessed June 2020.

Liverpool, England, crew lists, 1861-1919. : accessed June 2020.

Oronsa. : accessed June 2020.

Orvieto passenger ship : accessed June 2020.

OS Maps. : accessed June 2020.

Sowerby. : accessed June 2020.

Territorial Force Depots. : accessed June 2020.

UK, Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920. : accessed June 2020.

World War One British Army Pension Records 1914-1920. : accessed June 2020.

Emily Bristow (1877-1954)

While I was researching members of the Bean family, I came across Emily the daughter of William Bristow (1838-1908) and Jane Bean (1850-1922). Emily is my first cousin three times removed. She was the daughter of a farmer and the family were living in New Grange, Airmyn, Yorkshire in the 1891 census. The village is sited where the rivers Aire and Ouse meet and is less than two miles from Goole.

Emily married Goldthorpe Brunyee (1879-1919), the son of local landowner William Brunyee (1853-1917), in St David’s Church, Airmyn on 27 November 1900. At the time of their marriage Goldthorpe was living in Booth Ferry House and Emily at Airmyn Grange which, her parents had moved to by then. Goldthorpe was named after his mother Martha Goldthorpe (1856-1904).


OS Map 1907 showing Booth Ferry House

According to the recently published Oxford Dictionary of Family Names, the surname Brunyee is a nickname from the Middle English brun/brown and eye. There were 86 Brunyee’s recorded in the 1881 census; they lived mostly in the West Riding of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. One of them wad Goldthorpe’s father William (1853-1917) who continued to live in Booth Ferry House, Airmyn near Goole until his death aged 63. William was badly burned in a fire in his house and was found by Richard Brown, a groom. The report of his inquest stated that he occupied farms at Goole Fields, Ousefleet and Howden. The jury’s verdict was that he had died of shock as a result of “burns accidentally received”. Although William died intestate the main beneficiary was his son Goldthorpe.

Returning to Emily and her husband Goldthorpe, they had at least six children as the chart at the top of this page shows. By 1911 the family were living at Goole Fields with Goldthorpe described as a farm bailiff. They had two servants and five wagoners.


OS Map 1907 showing Goole Fields 

Goldthorpe’s death in 1919, aged 39, was also reported in the newspapers. He was described as a prominent agriculturist living a Goole Fields and that he had died after a short illness. In 1939 his wife Emily was living at Brunthorpe, Airmyn Road, Goole with two of her daughters and their families. She was still living there when she died in 1955.

I am interested in the Brunyee family as I have limited information about them. Do contact me if you know more about them.



Note: all maps used in this blog have been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Airmyn. : accessed 18 June 2020.

FindmyPast. Collection: British Newspapers, 1710-1965. : accessed 18 June 2020.

Hanks et al. (2016) The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

OS Maps. : accessed 19 June 2020.

University of Portsmouth, History of Airmyn, in East riding of Yorkshire and West Riding | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time. : accessed 19 June 2020.