From the book "Filey - a Yorkshire fishing town" by Irene E Allen and Andrew A Todd
The risks involved in seafaring are horrendous. Yet with some justification Filey people claim that no maritime community has proportionately lost so many men as theirs has. Our study of the Jenkinson family alone has revealed a staggering catalogue of deaths at sea. A visitor to the churchyard at St Oswald's, Filey, cannot fail to be moved by the many inscriptions on the gravestones which record such family losses. Walking from west to east, you will find the following testimony to the price that the Jenkinsons have paid for their livelihood:
- Ted and George Jenkinson lost at sea 25th November 1925
- William R Jenkinson drowned at Primrose Valley June 29th 1948
- Ross Jenkinson lost at sea October 29th 1880 aged 38 years
- William Jenkinson aged 43,
- Richard Cammish Jenkinson, aged 26
- Thomas Castle Jenkinson, aged 15 - Who were lost at sea through the explosion of a in on April 15th 1919. Though death divides us sweet memory clings."
- George Jenkinson drowned near Filey Brigg January 16th 1874 aged 27 years
- Thomas William Jenkinson killed at sea July 25th 1914 aged 50. Also son George drowned Dec 5th 1907, aged 20
- Edmund Ross Jenkinson lost at sea April 28th 1892 aged 30 years
- William Jenkinson drowned at sea on 2nd November 1861 aged 32 years
- George Jenkinson lost at sea in Filey Bay from the Coble Mary December 14th 1896 aged 20 years
- Matthew Jenkinson drowned in Boston deeps July 3rd 1849 aged 32 years
- Matthew Jenkinson drowned in Filey Bay December 1st 1863 aged 31 years
- John R Jenkinson born 1862, Robert Jenkinson Born 1890, George F B Jenkinson born 1897. All drowned in the "Research" disaster November 25th 1925.
- James H N Jenkinson born 1882 lost at sea
This represents only a small fraction of the losses to the Jenkinson family. Countless Jenkinson girls married into the Cammish, Cappleman, Colling, Johnson, Mainprize, Ross and Scales families (to name only a few), and all these names figure on other equally tragic gravestones. There cannot have been a single person in the Filey fishing community who had not lost at least one close relative at sea: in many cases, as we shall see, one family could lose several men in a single tragedy.
The St Oswald's burial registers only record deaths at sea if the body were recovered. We have established this by a comparison between the registers and the St Oswald's gravestones which refer to deaths by drowning. Most bodies were never recovered. For example, we suspect that 20 or more Jenkinson's that we know to have been lost at sea are not the full number. Gravestone inscriptions and local newspaper items are the only ready sources for establishing a death by drowning; but not everybody was recorded on a gravestone, and newspapers we have looked at only survive in patches. This may provide the answer to the msytery of the male Jenkinsons on our tree who figure only in the register of baptisms, or in the census returns as children, but whose later life cannot be traced.
It is possible that they moved out of the town, perhaps to Scarborough or Bridlington, where we know some Filey Jenkinsons settled. It is also possible that some were lost at sea, and their bodies never recovered. Perhaps they were washed ashore many miles away and buried in some distant churchyard as "a drowned man". The sea could be utterly unpredictable with drowned bodies. Captain Smith told us how his uncle, Jack Bell, and "Filey Tom" Cappleman were both drowned near Scarborough pier when their coble was swamped around 1890. Tom, in his heavy leather sea boots, went straight down and was found right away. Jack was only found nine days later, a mile to the south, where the bathing pool is now. he could only be identified by his Guernsey. Bodies could be carried large distances by the sea: on 28th September 1903, the body of Leonard Mainprize of Flamborough was recovered, and identified, at Scarborough, nearly 20 miles away. He had been lost one month. His father, drowned with him, had been found off Flamborough. [Nellists Filey Almanac]
The sea claimed lives in the most unusual of circumstances. George Matthew Jenkinson (c1886-1907) was cut off by the incoming tide at the foot of Gristhorpe Cliff, at Castle Rocks, about three miles North West of Filey. Like many Jenkinsons, even those who regularly went to sea, he could not swim. His death, on 5th December 1907, was reported in the Filey Post on the 14th December:
On Friday, Mr Luke White,MP, held an inquest on the body of George Matthew Jenkinson, who was cut off by the tide while engaged in gathering perriwinkles, on Thursday, and whose body was found the same night.
Sarah Ann Cappleman, of 25 Mitford Street, Filey, fisherman, said the body viewed by the jury was that of George Matthew Jenkinson, of 1 Reynolds Street, a golf caddie, aged 21 years. He was son of Thomas William Jenkinson, fisherman, with whom he lived.
John Coley, of Queen Street, Filey, Fisherman, said that on Thursday morning, about 8 o'clock, he went to the Red Cliff ; deceased went to gather perriwinkles, and witness went for flitters. About an hour and a half afterwards, he saw deceased walking about the rocks; the tide was coming in. Witness ran to the sands to warn the deceased, and when he got near he shouted he was getting "flowed" in , and was to come off. Deceased shouted that the tide was right round, and he could not get ashore; he tried to do so, and got into the gulley, and went up to his breast in water. Witness was 70 or 80 yards away. Deceased turned back and got upon some high rocks. Witness shouted that he wass going to get some assistance, and then ran up the cliff to Allison's farm; he asked a man to go to Filey and get a boat, which he did. On Thursday witness went onto the rocks, with others, in search of the deceased body, which was ultimately found by Wm. Wright, about a quarter past ten. He was 18 years old.
William Wright, of Mitford Street, Filey, marine store dealer, deposed to finding the body on the rocks.
The jury returned a verdict of "accidental death, caused through being drowned by the incoming tide.
Owing to the pathetic nature of the fatality, andf to the fact that the deceased was particularly well known in the town the funeral on Sunday afternoon was attended by several hundreds of mourners, despite a drenching storm. The Primitive Methodist choir headed the procession to the Parish Church, singing hymns en route. The church itself was crowded. Here the vicar of Filey (the Rev A.N. Cooper) conducted the service, as later at the graveside, through the Rev. H Oliver (Primitive Methodist superintendent) read the lessons from the lectern. There were many beautiful wreaths.
Seven years later, on the 25th July 1914, a week before th Great War began, his father, Thomas "Crow" Jenkinson (c1865-1914) was killed in an accident on the steam drifter "Pride of Filey" and the Filey Post of 1st August 1914 carried a report. The skipper Isaac Ross and mate Thomas William Lewis, both Filey men, told the coroner's inquest how the death occurred. The nets were been wound in by means of a drum. The vessel was in heavy sea, and rolled over to the port side. The rope came off the roller, and the sudden relief of pressure caused it to fly forward, striking Thomas William Jenkinson in the stomach and knocking him to the deck. He died of a brain haemorrhage at Scarborough Hospital some hours later, the back of his skull having been fractured by the fall.
Like most Filey fishermen, Thomas William Jenkinson was a Primitive Methodist. The vicar of Filey, the Canon A N Cooper, was assisted at the funeral by the primitive Methodist Superintendent, just as he had been at the funeral of Thomas's son, George, seven years before.