Luke is my two times great grandfather and lived in Stillingfleet in one of a series of cottages called “Who would have though it”. I am lucky enough to have the above photograph of the cottage and his wife Mary which my second cousin Jenny gave me. The cottages have since been pulled down and there isn’t very much left to indicate where they once were.
Luke’s parents were George Richardson (1797-1867) and Elizabeth Beilby (1806-1869). George was an agricultural labourer born in Melbourne and Elizabeth came from the nearby village of Wheldrake. They married in 1825 when George was described as a widower so it looks like Elizabeth was his second wife. They probably had thirteen children: seven boys and six girls. In both the 1841 and 1851 censuses the family were living in Stillingfleet and by the 1861 census they were shown as living in “Who would have thought it”; cottages which were on the outskirts of Stillingfleet on the road to Kelfield.
Luke’s siblings are all my third great aunts and uncles. His sister Mary (1831-1867) doesn’t seem to have married and Elizabeth (b.1826) has been difficult to find; his other four sisters married:
- Ellen (1827-1872) married George Peel (1824-1915) in 1854. In the 1871 census they were living in Jackson Street, York where George was a joiner.
- Hannah (1829-1899) married Seth Bell (1825-1878) in 1851. Hannah was a widow and head of her household, which included three of her sons, in the 1891 census in Naburn.
- Frances (1837-1881) was a dairymaid in the 1861 census and living with her parents in Stillingfleet. She married James Beck (b1839) in 1864. By 1871 they were living in Barlby with James recorded as a railway gate attendant.
- Sarah (1839-1907) married Robert Romans Tomlinson (1830-1909), incidentally also my first cousin five times removed, in 1864. In 1901 they were living in Riccall where Robert was an agricultural labourer.
Luke was the fifth of seven brothers. Robert (1848-1848) died in infancy, George (1833-1867) was a lodger with his sister Ellen in the 1861 census and the others married:
- Thomas (1835-1896) married Sarah Ann Barker (1840-1911) in 1863 and in 1891 his occupation was a coal merchant in Mansfield Place, Clifton.
- John (1842-1904) married twice, first to Hannah Horsfell (1845-1871) in 1867 and then to Ellen Lumby (1854-1934) in 1876. In the 1901 census John was an agricultural labourer living in Stillingfleet. After his death Ellen continued to live in Stillingfleet.
- Joseph (1844-1932) married Elizabeth Longbottom (1849-1915). In 1911 he was a platelayer for the North Easter Railway and the family were living in Coppergate, Riccall.
- William Stephen (1849-1932) married Sarah Render (1851-1933) in 1872. The family were living in Main Street, Riccall in 1911 and his occupation was: “roadman labourer working for Escrick Rural District Council”.
Luke married Mary Weir/Wear (1851-1918) in 1868. In 1871 he was an agricultural labourer living with Mary and one child in “Who would have thought it” in Stillingfleet. His brother John was also living in one of the cottages with his family and it looks like there were six families living in this location. By the 1881 census Luke’s occupation had changed to railway labourer. Then in the 1891 census he was railway platelayer probably for the North Eastern Railway company. Platelayers usually worked in a gang of five or six men with a foreman and they would walk a length of line twice a day to detect defects in the track. It was a dangerous occupation because of passing trains and the cause of many deaths on the railways. Luke probably worked on the line from Escrick station going south past his home in “Who would have thought it.” Escrick station was located nearer Escrick Grange and opened on 2 January 1871 and was closed on 8 June 1953. It was also a place where one of Luke’s sons Arthur worked before WW1 (see below). Shortly after the 1991 census was taken Luke died and he was buried on 26 April 1891 in St Helen’s Churchyard, Stillingfleet; Mary continued to live in Stillingfleet until she died and was also buried in Stillingfleet.
Luke and Mary’s children are all my second great aunts and uncles and what follows are their brief biographies.
John William (1870-1962) was a plate layer in the 1911 census when he was living with his mother and two brothers, Luke and Arthur, in Stillingfleet. He married Emily Turner (1874-1959) in 1934 and in the 1939 register they were living at Glenroyd, Stillingfleet; John was described as a: “line railway gauger permanent way retired”.
George (1872-1880) died at a young age.
Mary Elizabeth (1874-1973) married Joseph Pool (1870-1950) in 1893. In the 1911 census he was a cowman on a farm at Upper Haigh near Barnsley. By 1939 he was retired and they were living at Mount Pleasant, Middlestown near Wakefield.
Ann (1876-1958) married Arthur Stephenson (1869-1942) in 1900. In the 1901 census they were living in Rose Cottage, Back Street, Water Fulford where Arthur was a coach groom. By 1939 their address was West Park Gates, Escrick and Arthur was a general labourer. They are both buried in St Helen’s Churchyard, Escrick.
Violet Kate (1878-1971) was my great grandmother. She married Francis Digweed (1873-1959) in 1900 and in 1911 he was a coachman in Escrick. By 1939 he was described as a chauffeur living at Escrick Park. They are both buried in Escrick. I used to visit their house as a child and remember her and their outside toilet very well.
Frances Emily (1880-1963) married Thomas Bedford (b1877) in 1903. Thomas was a bricklayer in 1911 and the family were living in Cross Road, Middlestown. In 1939 they were still living there although Thomas was then recorded as a milk dealer.
Florence (1882-1966) married George Robert Clarkson (1883-1956) in 1906. At the time of the 1911 census they were living at 4 Ebor Street, York and George was a City Police Constable. In 1939 their address was given as 20 Market Street, York and George recorded as a retired police inspector and licensee of a public house. The address in Market Street is now a Costa coffee shop and is somewhere I have been many times without appreciating its part in my family history.
Luke (1886-1958) married Maud Gutherless (1889-1971) in 1917 although it looks like their first child was born before that date. In 1911 he was living with his mother and two brothers, John and Arthur, in Stillingfleet; his occupation was a railway plate layer. When he signed up for military service in the auxiliary corps on 11 February 1910 his address was given as The Crofts, Stillingfleet. He saw action in France in World War One in the Royal Field Artillery, Royal Tank Corps. In 1939 Luke and Maud were living at 20 Osbaldeston Lane, York and he was recorded as an LNER plate layer.
Arthur (1890-1917) was a labourer in 1911 census and died fighting in France during World War One. I found a database record for him on the National Railway Museum website which gives details of his military unit: the Royal Field Artillery, 50th Brigade, A Battery, where he held the rank of private/driver; his military number was 335500. It records that Arthur was “Aged 27, son of the late Luke & Mary Richardson of Stillingfleet. He joined the North Eastern Railway in 1909, working at Escrick, Cliff Common and Northallerton up until his enlisting in September 1914. He was officially reported as wounded on the 10th October 1917, and reported as missing since, as noted in the North Eastern Railway Magazine. Yet, that same date was provided as the date that Richardson died on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.”
I didn’t know that two of my second great uncles served in World War One or that a number of my relatives worked for railway companies. I am grateful to the Wyvern Railway Ancestry research advice service that has enabled me to update Luke’s story. I will at some point take this further though with visits to the National Railway Museum and the National Archives at Kew. In the meantime if you have any information about any of the people in this story then do please contact me.