From the book "Filey - a Yorkshire fishing town" by Irene E Allen and Andrew A Todd
LUGGERS AND YAWLS
When the Scarborough Register of Sailing and Fishing vessels began in 1786, offshore fishing was done from boats of 50 to 60 feet in length, and about 50 tons in weight. They were lug rigged up to about 1870. This meant that they had four cornered sails, usually on three masts, with the yard arm lashed obliquely to each mast. We can assume that the design and fishing methods had changed little in centuries.
These "three masted luggers" were also known as "Five Man boats" or "Farms". This was probably because Yorkshiremen would run the words "far man boat" together. As well as the crew of five, there would also be a cook and a boy. This "apprentice" was, no doubt, the general dogsbody: Captain Sydney Smith, who worked as a "boy" on later steam fishing boats reckoned that the attitude of the crew to "the lad" could be summed up in the words "it was his fault", whatever went wrong!"
Three masted luggers were fully decked. Below was a rope room, a fish room and a cabin, aft, where the crew ate and slept.
It is most interesting to look at the first few pages of the Scarborough Registers. Of the 15 or so luggers registered in the 1780's, seven were owned by Filey men. (We can assume that a similar proportion of the crews of these Scarborough boats were Filey men). Some well known family names are represented.
- John Cappleman and William Edmond owned the "Happy Return" (built at Scarborough in 1777, it was lost in 1806)
- William Edmond owned the "Providence" built at Scarborough in 1773, it eventually became a coaster, and after 90 years of work was lost in 1863
- Christopher Williamson and William Anderson owned the "Christopher and William" which was built at Scarborough in 1772 by Christopher Smith, one of the Captains relatives!
- Robert Edmond owned another "Endeavour" built in Scarborough in 1773, and lost in 1790
- Marmaduke Cammish and Peter Cappleman owned the aptly named "Herring" built at Scarborough in 1787 along with the Muston farmer, William Darley
- Robert Edmond owned the "Robert and Mary" which was another Christopher Smith built boat in 1787. Robert had married Mary Healand in 1781, and so named his boat accordingly
The first reference to a Jenkinson in the Registers is William Jenkinson[1776-1844] of Filey, who was skipper of the three masted luggers "Friends", and "Ark" around 1800. The respective owners were John Skelton, shipbuilder of Scarborough, and John Nessary, farmer of Hunmanby. We can assume that he was a capable seaman, since he did not remain in fishing,: his gravestone in St Oswald's indicates that he was a "Master Mariner" when he died at Kronstadt, Russia, in 1844. His wife survived him until 1867, when her death was recorded in the Filey Post on 26th October:
"At Filey October 20th aged 89 years after a long and severe illness borne with true christian resignation, Mary relict of the late Captain William Jenkinson (an elder brother of the Trinity House)who for many years sailed from the Port of Hull"
William Jenkinson (1776-1844)and his descendants, were as far as we can discover the only Jenkinsons from Filey to have risen above the calling of fishermen, and to have established themselves socially. His son, Captain Edmond Jenkinson (1815-?) married Mary Hutchinson, the sister of Christopher Hutchinson, a farmer according to the 1861 census, of 256 acres at Muston Hall, and Edmond's only son, John William Jenkinson warranted an entry as Esq of London in the births, deaths and marriages column of the Filey Post when he married at Sheffield Parish Church in 1867. [Filey Post 21st September 1867]
Wiilliam's uncle, Robert Jenkinson (1756-?1808) was the direct ancestor of the whole Filey Jenkinson fishing clan! He is the second Jenkinson to appear in the Registers. He was skipper and part owner of the 58 ton three masted lugger "Prospect" from 1802 to 1805. It would have cost several hundred pounds to construct such a boat, and would therefor have been beyond the means of the average working fisherman.
A 39 ton boat was reckoned to have cost £500 in the middle of the 18th century; with its sails, ropes, coble, lines and nets, the cost was put at Â£1000). For this reason ownership was normally divided into shares. The skipper would usually own some. Robert Jenkinson's co-owners were James Barker and Herbert Stalker, ropemaker of Scarborough. It is common to find boatbuilders, ropemakers and sailmakers owning shares in these luggers : it was a source of investment for them, and often guaranteed a market for their products. Equally, the skipper, and crew, stood to gain from the arrangement since they could be sure that any work done for the boat by such an owner would be promptly and carefully executed!
Anybody with capital could , of courese, invest in a lugger. Local farmers and tradesmen commonly did. We found Thomas Jenkinson (1793-1863), the fourth of five fisher brothers, skipper and part owner of the "Flora" in 1830, with Thomas Foord, innkeeper of Filey. The "Foord" still stands at the bottom of Queens Street, Filey.
Fishermen who skippered and part owned boats would, when they got older, would often make a younger relative or in-law skipper. The third Jenkinson brother, John Jenkinson (1791-1872) was owner of the "Vigilant" and his son in law, Skelton Fenby, was skipper. The youngest brother, George(1795-1860) who owned the "Integrity" from 1834 to 1846 had his nephew, Matthew(1802-51) as skipper after 1836.
The following table, taken from the Scarborough Registers, shows the Filey owned three masted luggers in the year 1830, just before they began to be replaced by the smaller two masted luggers. The table is interesting in that it shows how varied ownership could be, and features many family names which are still closely associated with fishing in Filey today. All the boats were built in Scarborough:
- Endeavour: built 1792. Owned by Ann Williamson and Richard Richardson both of Filey. Skipper was Richard Richardson
- Zephyr built 1801. Owned and skippered by Richard Cammish.
- Isabella built 1815. Owned by William Dunn, Cornelius Railey and William Newton (all of Filey) and Chris Grundon(Gamekeeper of Hunmanby). The boat was skippered by Charles Dunning
- Dunn's built in 1815. Owned by Willaim Dunn and William Newton both of Filey. Skippered by John Crawford. - Diligence built in 1817. Owned by John Cammish(fisherman of Filey ), William Smith(Scarborough boatbuilder) and Herbert Stalker (Scarborough ropemaker). The boat was skippered by John Cammish
- Scarborough built in 1818. Owned by William Newton a Filey Baker and slippered by Robert Scales.
- Herring built in 1820. Owned by Marmaduke Cammish(Filey fisherman), William Cammish(Filey fisherman), John Coulson(Scarborough shipowner), William Darley (Whitby gentleman) and William Peck(Beverley farmer). Skippered by Marmaduke Cammish.
- Providence built in 1822. Owners were John Crumpton (Filey fisherman), Jane Dixon(Filey widow) and George Smith(Master Mariner of Scarborugh). Skippered by John Crumpton.
The Registers indicate that a new type of lugger appeared after 1833. The middle mast was dispensed with mainly because it obstructed fishing operations. These "two masted luggers" were about 35 feet in length, and about 20 tons in weight. They were half decked.
The final development in these offshore sailing fishing vessels was the yawl. This type appeared in the 1840's and 1850's. At First, they were lug rigged, in the traditional manner.
These fine boats were replaced by steam powered vessels from 1913; Scarboroughs last yawl is believed to have fished until 1917. Clearly, men who actually sailed on such long gone vessels are now few and far between. We were fortunate enough to speak to two - Tommy Flynn of Scarborough (now in his eighties) and George Cappleman (who settled in Scarborough from Filey in 1919, and is now in his nineties). Their recollections, and information given by Captain Sydney Smith, helped us to build up a picture of herring fishing techniques in the last years of sail.
Herrings were caught in rectangular nets(up to 30 yards long) called drift nets. Their other name, gill nets, derived from the method by which they were ensnared. 60 nets or so were fed out (end to end), in a line, from the right hand side of the yawl, as it moved along. Each man provided his own nets.
They were expensive items, traditionally made in Bridport, Dorset. The Reverend Charles Kendall, writing in 1870, reckoned they cost £1 and 18 shillings to £2 5 shillings each. Since each yawl carried about about 60 nets, the capital expenditure involved in herring fishing was substantial. To spread the risks of loss evenly, each man's nets were distributed regularly along the line of nets (abc abc abc etc). They were winched in by a hand capstan.
Such nets required regular maintainance. They were boiled (in coppers) in a preservative called cutch (so called from the Indian Gulf where the substance was obtained). Sails, lines and even smocks were also treated in the same way, giving them a distinctive brown, tarry appearance. George Cappleman recalls how the nets were washed and dried and stored in attics after the herring season.
Herrings were fished at night. They are pelagic fish, which swim near the surface. Even on a dark night, with no moon, their perculair glow was visible at around 30 yards. During the summer, boats could leave Scarborough around teatime, and be back early in the morning. There would be boats from Scotland, Yorkshire and East Anglia using Scarborough Harbour at this time of year. Tommy Flynn recalls that it got so full "you could not get any more boats in!"
As the shoals moved south, however, the yawls would follow them, staying at sea for days at a time, and calling at the nearest port to land their catches. In the days of the yawls, Filey men might be away from home from October to Christmas.
At the close of the herring season, yawls would either be laid up in Scarborough, or else engaged in long line fishing over the winter.
Yawls carried a coble on board, known as a corfe (pronounced in Yorkshire as a "calf"). they were launched from the gangway, the opening of the ships deck, halfway down its length. They were oar and sail powered, and had the manoeuvrabiliity needed to draw in the lines, or to tend herring nets.
When "long lining", the skipper and boy stayed on board the yawl, baiting lines ready to be "shot". The other three men took the coble out to draw in three lines at a time (with the caught fish) so that these could again be baited and "shot". There was, as George Cappleman put it, "No Stopping!"
With so much work to be done on board, it was difficult for the skipper and boy to handle the lug rigging. For this reason, the yawls were "dandy rigged" from the 1870's onwards. This was easier to handle, but restricted the boats speed and meant that they could not lay as close to the wind as when they were "lug rigged".
Bait was sometimes obtained for long line fishing by "midsummering". This involved using 12 to 14 nets to catch herring: these in turn would be used to bait the lines, one third of a fish per hook.
Normally, the proceeds from the weeks catch were shared out on the saturday, according to a specific ratio. Commonly, 50% went to the owners, as a return on their investment in the boat and gear; the remainder went to the crew. Their division took place after the cost of bait had been covered. Extra men may be taken on at busy times in the summer, on a wage. The system could cause disagreement.
George Jenkinson, yawl owner of Filey was summoned at Bridlington petty sessions in August 1878 by one William French, whom Jenkinson had taken on at a guinea a week. Having been paid for one week's work, on the first saturday night, the boat was preparing for departure the following Monday when Jenkinson stated that "if they did not get any fish they could not pay any wages". French objected to this change of terms and was put ashore.
He was awaredd a week's wages by the court and two shillings compensation. George Jenkinson also had to pay 11 shillings costs[Filey Post 10th August 1878]. George Jenkinson appears in work done on the yawl "Thomas and Mary". It seems reasonable to deduce that this, therefore , was, an example of a boat being named after a boats parents.