Monday, 25 June 2012

The Pepper family of Goole

Yet again it has been cold, wet and grey. There has been flooding in West Yorkshire and a local gardener I talked to said all his vegetables were just sitting in the soil, not growing and looking a bit yellow. So my garden is not alone in looking very sorry for itself.

The poor weather has meant I can spend more time on the computer. I have been researching a Goole family called Pepper who spent much of their life on Goole barges and billyboys.

George Pepper was born on a canal boat and after his marriage to Emma Ward in 1880 he worked variously as a boatman and as a dock labourer. The family were living at The Barracks on the road to Swinefleet in 1911.

George had a few brushes with the law being summonsed for poaching and for salmon fishing without a licence.

At least two of George's sons, Paul and John Henry, served in the army in World War One. Paul survived but John Henry was killed in 1918, just before the end of the war. He was awarded the Military Medal.

Chris, who has recently set up a blog on Goole men who were killed in the war, provided the following entry from the Goole Times.


Taken from ‘Goole Times’ Thursday November 1st, 1918.

SERGT. J.H. PEPPER KILLED.

            Official news has been received of the death in action on September 18 of Sergt. John Henry Pepper, Manchester Regiment, of 21, Antis Street, Plymouth, son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Pepper, of 23, George Street, Goole.
            Sergt. Pepper, who was 36 years of age and was well-known in Goole, had left the town some two years before he enlisted at the beginning of the war, and he had been out in France some three years. He leaves a widow and six young children.
            Writing to Sergt. Pepper’s widow, his officer, Lieut. J.A. Corley, says:- “Please let me offer you my deepest sympathy in your sad bereavement in the loss of your husband. I saw him a few moments before he was hit. A more gallant or brave soldier I have never commended for his bravery. I had already mentioned him to my Commanding Officer, who promoted him to the rank of Sergeant and recommended him for a decoration. His death is a loss to the company and myself; we greatly appreciated his services, and his cheerful disposition was a magnificent example to us all.”
            A brother of Sergt. Pepper, Pte. Paul Pepper, has just been discharged from the Army after being wounded five times and gassed twice. A brother-in-law, Mr. Chas. Abson, of 32, Gordon Street, is a minesweeper, and is at present in Russia.



In 1911 John Henry Pepper was in Dartmoor prison but nothing is known of why that was or indeed what happened to his family after the war.

George Pepper survived until his early 90s and in 1930 was featured in an article in the Hull Daily Mail as 'England's oldest boatman'. He claimed to have fathered 20 children and to have 100 descendants.

If you are one of them please get in touch!







Sunday, 17 June 2012

Samuel Shirtcliffe/Shetliffe

Well, I did go to Eastrington show yesterday but as the field was so wet the horse and cattle classes had been cancelled. It was not actually raining when I was there and there was a good entry in the handicraft section in the village hall but it must have been disappointing for the organisers who had put so much work in.

On a completely different topic I have been contacted by David Shetliffe from Australia whose ancestors came from Goole. He is hoping to visit Goole later this year and would be delighted to meet any relatives. He has sent me details of his ancestor Samuel Shirtcliffe/ Shetliffe which have been passed down through the family and is happy for them to appear on my blog in the hope that he can find some Yorkshire relatives!

Samuel was born on 29th September 1816, one of five children of Thomas Shirtcliffe (the 'e' on the end of the name comes and goes) and Grace Clayton. Thomas was originally from Deptford in Kent and Grace was from Cowick.

Samuel married Ellen Rimmington at Snaith on July 14th 1838. Samuel was a seaman and  on one occasion brought his wife Ellen a silk shawl home from China in 1840 after a voyage on the Alexander Baring. He afterwards captained local vessels Bessie and Margaret and Sarah. 

Samuel and Ellen's first son, another Samuel, was born in 1846. In 1848 Samuel and the Margaret and Sarah were caught in a terrible storm in the North Sea and afterwards Samuel decided to stay nearer home and worked as a river pilot.

Their second son Joseph was born on December 1848 at Selby. The following year in September 25th 1849 the family sailed on the barque the Douglas for Australia and arrived at Port Adelaide on January 11th 1850. They then travelled by bullock dray to Burra Burra where Samuel worked in the copper mines. In February 1852 they moved to Goolwa where Samuel had heard news of shipping developments. Initially they lived in a tent.

Samuel worked for a time building the horse drawn railway between Goolwa and Port Elliott. Around this time the Shirtcliffe name began to be written as Shetliff[e] as this was in line with the way that it was pronounced by Samuel's workmates.

On March 6th 1854 Samuel and Ellen's daughter Amelia was born, the first white girl born in Goolwa.

Samuel put his shipping background to good use and went into business building ships, particularly paddle steamers which sailed along the River Murray. One wonders if he ever returned to Goole to get a few ideas!

If you can trace your ancestry back to the Shirtcliffes and Rimmingtons David would like to know. We do know that there is a connection with the Goole Hopley family. Robert Hopley married Mary Rimmington in 1827 at Hook.


Ellen Shirtcliffe

Samuel Shirtcliffe



Samuel [jnr] and Joseph Shirtcliffe/Shetliffe



Friday, 15 June 2012

Eastrington show

I hope to attend Eastrington show tomorrow as I have done now for more years than I care to remember. Although these days I have no connection with the show I used to look after some of the horse and pony entries and my parents and aunt were for a long time show officials. In particular my dad, Doug Watson, was the secretary, a job which took a surprising amount of work even for a small village show.

In the past I put up road signs, gave lengthy telephone directions to Eastrington (before the days of sat nav) and sat for hours in a tent which some years was very hot and other years was very cold.

More recently I attempted to have a history and old photo display in a tent the year after I published my book on Eastrington. Unfortunately the wind blew strongly and the tent blew down.  Some pictures and objects got very wet. I vowed never to have an outdoor display ever again.

This year I look forward to good weather (!!!!) and walking round as a spectator. I hope it all goes well.

The picture below was taken by my dad at the 1977 show and if you look carefully (double click on the picture to enlarge it) you can see a fancy dress competitor dressed as a queen.  It was the year of the Silver Jubilee.



Monday, 11 June 2012

Howdenshire History

We have been thinking for some time that my Howdenshire History website needed an overhaul. One of the main problems was that it did not have a proper address and so this weekend after many hours labour we have moved. The new address is:

www.howdenshirehistory.co.uk

Further updates are planned and I am hoping to add some new content including more photos and a page on Saltmarshe history.

I have just watched the Wheldale going past on its way home to Goole after taking part in the Jubilee Pageant on the Thames. I expect the crew are exhausted - last week's weather held up their return and it is still very cold and grey - but congratulations to them in bringing  Goole and its history to the forefront of the national and international consciousness.

I have recently been reading my copy of the bound files of the Goole and Marshland Gazette (covering Goole and Howden area history from 1854 until the late 1860s). It appeared monthly and is  is a fantastic resource for the history of this part of Yorkshire. The whole volume is very fragile but I have experimented by copying an extract  using a hand-held scanner. Here is an extract from the edition of January 1862 (please click to view a larger version).


Saturday, 9 June 2012

Will it ever be summer?

I have just listened to news of flooding in Wales and have listened to yet another weather forecast of below average temperatures and heavy showers. It does not feel yet like summer and the garden is sodden.

I was pleased to see the Wheldale from the Waterways Museum at Goole on the TV coverage of the Jubilee pageant but was disappointed not to learn more of the other vessels from the BBC commentary. I was not the only one.

I have not mentioned Molly for a while and have been asked how she is. She is now 11 months old and is doing well.  She is being trained not to jump up at visitors as, although she means no harm, a lively black Labrador can knock you off your feet. She still enjoys fruit and vegetables but a piece of orange peel that she insisted on carrying round was perhaps a step too far even for her.

The fig tree which was almost killed by the hard frosts over a year ago is now in leaf but will, I think, take a couple more years to recover completely. One of my apple trees looks sickly - the ends of the branches, with the blossom on, have died back - I have looked it up and think it could be something called fireblight.

The potatoes, which went in so late, are up and need 'banking'. Perhaps a job for later today?

Monday, 4 June 2012

Henry Bell Thorp, Goole architect

Members of the Goole Civic Society have recently been compiling a list of 'local heritage assets' - buildings which are an important part of the town's heritage and which planners  should therefore be aware of.

It became clear that several of these buildings were designed by Henry Bell Thorp, a local architect. So far we have found that he designed Bank Chambers (now the council offices) opened in 1892; the Clifton Gardens Methodist schoolroom [1890] and the adjacent Trinity Methodist church [1898] as well as the new Half Moon in Howden (now the Co-op shop) in 1890. I am sure that further research will add more buildings to this list. However no-one seemed to know much about Mr Thorp.

As I have  a lifelong interest in, and have written about, the Eastrington and Portington area I wondered whether there was a connection with Henry Bell of Portington Hall (see my recently published Eastrington history book).

After some research I found that there was.


Henry Bell of Portington [1729- 1816] was a landowner and farmer, lord of the manor of Portington and a friend and supporter of John Wesley. He and his wife, the former Mary Guy, had three sons and a daughter. Their eldest son Henry [1768- 1839] married Eleanor Wade and they had at least nine children.

One of their daughters, Maria [born 1800], married Robert Thorp at Eastrington in 1820. The couple lived at [Monken] Hadley in Middlesex (now part of Greater London) where their children were born. Their eldest son was Robert Hayton Thorp [b 1821], followed by Ellen Maria [1824], Henry Bell [1826] and Mary Ann [1828]. Both daughters died young - Mary Ann in 1843 aged 14 and Ellen aged 20 in 1844 and are commemorated in Eastrington church.

Robert also died and in 1841 Maria had married again to James Adcock, a linen draper. They lived in Wellingborough and their daughter Ellen Bell Adcock was born in 1844. Presumably she was named Ellen in memory of her sister.

By 1851 James too had died and Maria and Ellen were living at Temple Hirst with Maria's eldest son Robert, where he was farming. Robert's brother Henry Bell Thorp was living in York with his aunt and uncle.

Maria's younger sister Helen had married William Leak from Goole, a draper. Later uncle and nephew went into partnership as well known York drapers Leak and Thorp.

Meanwhile Robert married Ellen Acroyd in 1853. They had six children including another Henry Bell Thorp who was born in 1861 at Temple Hirst.

By 1881 the 20 year old Henry Bell Thorp described himself as an architect and was  lodging in London. I can find nothing about his training.

Although we know that he was designing local buildings by 1890/91, he also found time to make a trip to Canada. On 26th August 1891 at Toronto he married Emily Georgina  Hanning. They arrived in England aboard The Etruria on 12th September, having made the passage from New York to Liverpool.

Their son Henry Guy Hanning Thorp was born in 1895 at Goole. It is possible that he was born in a house in Clifton Gardens as it is known that Mr Thorp owned much of the land there.

The rest of Henry Bell Thorp's family had moved to Moorfields Farm on Goole Fields in the 1880s. His father died in 1890 and his mother in 1908 at Clifton Gardens.

His brother Robert Hayton Thorp lived at Willerby and another brother, Robert Justis Thorp, emigrated to Canada and lived at Telkwa in British Columbia.

Mrs Emily Georgina Thorp died in 1911 at Belle Vue House Doncaster. Henry Guy Hanning Thorp attended Haileybury School and was killed in France in 1915 whilst serving as a second lieutenant with 3rd battalion KOYLI. He was 19.

I believe Henry Bell Thorp died in 1953 but as yet have found no further details of his life.

If anyone can add further details to this account I would be pleased to include more about Henry Bell Thorp, who provided Goole with some of its impressive Victorian buildings.


Bank Chambers, Goole. Now East Riding Council offices.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Goole Old Boys rugby

I recently saw in the Goole Times a picture of a Goole Old Boys rugby team but unfortunately no names were given.

I immediately recognised it as I have a copy of the same picture. It was loaned to me by Ernest Butler, former editor of the Goole Times, who is one of the team members and who, before his death, was able not only to identify most of the team members but also to remember the exact occasion the picture was taken. Here is the picture with caption.



Pictured at the Victoria Pleasure Ground are the winning members of the Goole Old Boys team of 1932/3 who beat a Hull University team 19 points to 18 in February 1933.

From the left, Back row: Ken Powls, Tommy Waterland, Bill Bateman, Sherwood.
Next row down : HJOlphin [history master], Greensitt, Ron Boddy, Fred Cooke, unknown, White, Dick Flower.
Third row down: Ernest Butler, Ron Houghton [captain], Ted Willmott.
Front: Roy Charlesworth, Fred Amery, Bill Flower.

If anyone can add any further information about the team members I would be pleased to  add it in here.
For example those who are interested in Howden's history will be pleased to see local historian Ken Powls on the back row. Ken is still an enthusiastic writer of pieces about the history of the town.
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