Because my combined list of Unanswered Questions and their solutions has grown, I have now split them.
This page now contains descriptions of the solutions.
Please e-mail me (see below), if any of these solutions are of help to you

Thomas Roe's marriage - In conjunction with Dorothy (The Whitby Group) - a 2 way success!.
Thomas was one of Martin Roe's brothers and was living in Manchester in the late 1800's. I had him married to a Jane Rudd.
Dorothy had a Thomas Roe in her tree also in the Manchester area, but married to a Jane Reed. However, when we compared some of the children from both apparent marriages, they were shown to be identical!
Solid confirmation came when Dorothy obtained the marriage certificate, proving the Thomas Roe's were the same person and the spouse was indeed Jane Reed! We now have a common link and I was able to furnish Dorothy with 2 missing children of Thomas who were with their grandparents William and Jane Roe in Whitby in the 1881 census. Thomas was in Manchester with 2 daughters in the 1881 census.

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The identity of Mary Smith - The moral here is don't ignore anything, even if it doesn't seem relevant at the time! A key piece of this jigsaw, which had lain in my archives since the mid 1990's, was a photograph I had taken of a grave, in Larpool Cemetery, Whitby.
This grave held John Smith - Master Mariner and others - the inscription is reproduced elsewhere on this website. At the time I took the photograph, I had not seen Mary Wilson's will and therefore did not think it was too relevant except that it was near to the Stanger grave and it contained a potential Readshaw link. - How wrong I was!
Only a week or so ago, whilst looking through the 1861 Whitby census to help out Dorothy with the location of Thomas & Jane Roe, when I stumbled across an entry for John Smith and his family living in Silver Street, Whitby! The ages of John, Mary and their son William tallied with those on the MI, but the bonus was Mary's mother - Martha Readshaw, aged 74 - living with them!
With this Readshaw link, I was able to backtrack through the IGI to establish:

Although I have yet to find the record of Elizabeth Readshaw as a child of Thomas & Mary, the circumstantial evidence is very strong that Elizabeth Readshaw and John Readshaw were siblings. Mary Readshaw as a child of John Readshaw and Martha Miller would definitley be a cousin to Mary Wilson as a child of William Stanger and Elizabeth Readshaw! This little episode also proves that all is not lost when one of your ancestors is named SMITH!

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The link of Ann Foggo with the family - here's a case of keep your eyes peeled and don't be afraid to ask questions!
Since I analysed the wills of Robert & Mary Wilson back in 1998 (item 2 - Bibliography page), there have been, in those wills, a number of people who I had been unable to substantiate. One, Mary Smith, is in the dialogue above and now thanks to information from Lin in The WHITBY GROUP, I've been able to substatiate Ann Foggo (nee Wilson)

All I knew from Robert Wilson's will was that Ann Foggo was the daughter of one of Robert's siblings - Richard. Recently Lin had posted some info on The Whiby Group site relating to Foggo's - immediately my eyes focussed and I was very quickly in touch with Lin.
Lin's subsequent info confirmed Ann Wilson (b 1807), daughter of Richard & Mary Wilson, had married George Foggo - a Master Mariner - (b 1798). One of 6 children of this marriage - Hannah M Foggo (b 1834 Whitby) married John Rowland (b 1832), who started the Whitby Shipping Company - Rowland & Marwood.

Here's where the story comes full circle back to the wills of Robert & Mary Wilson!

John Rowland was one of two trustees and executors of Robert's will and John Rowland & Christopher Marwood were the two trustees and executors of Mary Wilson's will!

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The identity of Mary Halland - The moral here is don't ignore the obvious! And be prepared to ask for help!
Similarly to the Ann Foggo puzzle above, Mary Halland was a person who I was unable to substantiate in the analysis of the will of Mary Wilson back in 1998 (item 2 - Bibliography page).

I re-examined the problem in early May 2005 and postulated that, as a grand niece to Mary Wilson, Mary was possibly Mary H Bryan (b 1859), daughter of Charles Bryan & Hannah Jefferson. However I could only find Mary H Bryan in the 1861 census of Whitby - aged 1 - living with her parents and siblings in Baxtergate. Was this another 'dead' end, in that Mary was an infant death?

I tried FreeBMD for any such record, but none was found - not conclusive as FreeBMD records are not yet complete. Maybe she was away with relatives. This was only creating more questions than answers! I therefore posted a request for help to The Whitby Group late on 04/05/2005 and by noon on 07/05/2005 we had solved the problem!

Initially, Bryan H (The Whitby Group) found a Mary Halland (married),but the ages were a complete mismatch. I thought I might try the 1881 census yet again,but no suitable Hallands. So on the off-chance I did a national search for Mary H Bryan - bingo - she turns up in Leeds living with her elder sister Lucy Reyner (nee Bryan). At last we were getting somewhere - if this was indeed Mary Halland then she must have married between 1881 and the date of the will 1886. Alas hopes were dashed when Dorothy (The Whitby Group) found Mary Hannah Bryan unmarried in the 1901 census, a visitor to the Fall household in York.

This left us puzzled - no other known children of the Bryan family at grand niece level would match names or ages. There must be a yet undiscovered child, but what lineage? I suggested to The Whitby Group that a possibility might be another daughter - as yet unknown - of Hannah Wilson (nee Bryan) i.e. a sister to Elizabeth and Emily.

Bryan H initially found the death of another Mary Halland - aged 59 - in the June quarter of 1908 in Darlington, quickly followed by her location in the 1901 census:
RG13 4618 Folio 155 in Rockinham St, Darlington:
John HALLAND Head M 62 Cattle Drover Newcastle on Tyne
Mary Do Wife M 52 Lancs Manchester*
Hannah GODLEY Daur S 29 DUR do
Joseph E BULMER Son 22 Engine Cleaner (Railway) DUR do
Margaret Hallard daur S 12 DUR do
James Howe Grandson 4 DUR do
Mary Howe Grandaur 1 DUR do
John Armitage Boarder S 20 General Labouer Dur South Church
A real profusion of childrens' surnames - as Bryan H pointed out, the Son & Daur are probably Step relations

* A Manchester birth of Mary Halland - could this be Mary Wilson?
Bryan H (The Whitby Group) then delivered the following clinchers:
Marriage of William GODLEY 1870 10a page 36 Darlington to Mary WILSON

1871 Census RG10-4882 folio 31 Darlington, St Cuthberts, 13 Katherine Street
William GODLEY Head M 22? Engin ??? DUR Barnard Castle
Mary do Wife M 22 Lan Manchester

Marriage 1876 Sep Qtr Darlington 10a page 8 James Vickers BULMER to Mary GODLEY

1881 RG11-4888 folio 122 Darlington 5 Wallis Yard
James Vickers BULMER Head Mar Joiner out Employment DUR Darlington
Mary do Wife 31 Manchester
Mary do Daur 15 Factory Girl (wool sorter) DUR Dton
James Vickers do Son 12 Scholar
Robt Henry do Son 10 do DUR do
Hannah Mary do Daur 9 do DUR do
Harriet do Daur 7 do DUR Hartlepool
Emily Wilson Do Daur 3 DUR Dton
Joseph Edward do Son 2 DUR do
Charles Pharah do Son 1 DUR do

Death James Vickers BULMER 1884 June Qtr Darlington 10a page 2 age 45

Death James Vickers BULMER 1889 March Qtr Darlington 10a page 4 age 20

1891 RG12-4043 folio 20 3 Abbots ? Darlington
John HALLAND Head M 56 Cattle Drover NBL - Newcastle on Tyne
Mary Do Wife M 41 Lancs Manchester
Margaret do daur S 2 DUR Darlington Hannah GODLEY Step Daur S 19 Laundress DUR do
Emily W Bulmer Step daur 13 DUR do
Joseph E BULMER Step Son 12 Scholar DUR do

Just for completeness, I needed confirmation of the death of william Godley and I found this on FreeBMD as:

Death William GODLEY 1875 June Qtr Darlington 10a page 19 age 25

All now seemed to be in order, with the 1891 Census details clarifying the Step relatives!
One question was left though - why Mary Wilson was not with her mother and 2 sisters in Whitby in 1861?

Bryan H was on the ball again with another clincher, Mary was living with her uncle in Shildon!:

1861 Durham RG9-3708 folio 79 Shildon, Adelaide Street
Edward WILKES Head Mar 48 Plumber & Tinner DUR West Aukland
Mary do Wife Mar 40 YKS Whitby
Mary WILSON Niece Mar 11 Scholar LAN Manchester.

Shildon is just up the road from Darlington, where Mary married William Godley in 1870!
And who is Edward Wilkes? - He is mentioned in the will of Mary Wilson (nee Stanger) as her nephew! - I now need to crack the lineage of Edward - but that's a question for another day!

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The lineage of Edward Wilkes - Uncles & Nephews may not always be blood lines!
Similarly to both the Mary Halland & Ann Foggo puzzles above, Edward Wilkes was a person who I was unable to substantiate in the analysis of the will of Mary Wilson back in 1998 (item 2 - Bibliography page).

Having cracked the intriguing Mary Halland puzzle, I was convinvced that being a nephew of Mary Wilson (nee Stanger), Edward must have been a blood line from either the Stangers or the Bryans. The 1861 census information put his birth around 1813, making it a little more difficult to find his parents, so a look at the IGI was called for. No luck though!

Looking at William Stanger's (b 1763) children, a possible parent in Hannah Stanger emerged - Hannah was born in 1791 ~ 3 years before her sister Elizabeth, who married Charles Bryan - so Hannah could have married a Wilkes and produced appropriately aged children [Both Hannah and Elizabeth were half sisters to Mary Wilson (nee Stanger)]. Again a search through IGI records was fruitless!

But what else did the 1861 census data tell me? Edwards wife Mary was born in Whitby, around 1821 - maybe this was the family connection. A quick check on my family history data base for the Bryan family showed a Mary Bryan born to Charles Bryan and Elizabeth Stanger in Whitby in October 1820. Things were getting interesting!

Time for FreeBMD again - a quick search found in the September 1840 quarter a marriage for an Edward Wilkes in Stockton vol 24 p 170 - promising, but who else was on the list for that quarter - a Mary Bryan! If this was the sister to all the other children of Charles and Elizabeth Bryan, why wasn't she in Mary Wilson's will with her siblings? The probable answer was she had died prior to the making of the will.

FreeBMD again - confirmation of the death of a Mary Wilkes aged 56 Darlington vol 10a p1 Sept quarter 1877.

For continuity, I checked the 1881 census and found that Edward had moved to Whitby from Shildon and had a new younger wife named Ellen born in Ormskirk, Lancs! FreeBMD confirmed a marriage of an Edward Wilkes in Whitby vol 9d p632 in the March quarter 1880, on the list for the same quarter was an Ellen Malburn! Enough said!

Strictly speaking Edward was not really a nephew, only the husband of a niece, but common courtesy in close knit families often prevails! I'll leave the search for Edward's parents for another time.

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The relationships of George Shimmings and Thomas Leng to Mary Wilson (nee Stanger) - Neither of these surnames seemed to fit with known relationships to the Stanger, Wilson, Bryan or Roe families, so back to the old faithful route of checking census returns!

The 1881 census shows Thomas Leng (40) as Head and George Shimmings (38) as a Boarder in a household in Baxtergate, so there was a possible relationship between these two. Moving back to the 1871 census, George Shimmings (28) is shown as Nephew to the Head - Mary Smith (53) Widow at 24 Silver Street, Whitby. A stroke of luck here - this Mary Smith (nee Readshaw) was a cousin of Mary Wilson, so the possibility of Grand Nephew arises. The 1861 census shows George Shimmings (18) living with his widowed mother Margaret (43) in Baxtergate - however I have not yet ascertained Margaret's maiden name, which could be the vital clue to the true relationship

For Thomas Leng, the trail is cold at present.(July 2005) In 1881, as discussed above, Thomas Leng is in Baxtergate with his family - wife Elizabeth is 40. In 1871 Thomas Leng (30) and Elizabeth (30) are in Old Abbey Yard and in 1861, Thomas W Leng (20) is with his parents William Leng (42) and Jane Grace (48) in Baxtergate. However I have not yet ascertained the maiden name's of either Thomas' wife Elizabeth or William's wife Jane Grace - no doubt these names will be the clues to his relationship to Mary Wilson (nee Stanger).

However, a recent contact with Alan Leng in September 2005 seems to have cracked this one! Whilst Thomas was with his parents William and Grace in 1861, Alan has pointed out that Grace (nee Tuite) was William's second wife and Thomas' true mother was Elizabeth Readshaw, who died on Christmas Day 1844, some 3 years after Thomas was born (19/11/1841). So here is confirmation of a Readshaw connection with Thomas!

I still have to crack the relationships between Mary Smith (nee Readshaw), Elizabeth Leng (nee Readshaw) and Elizabeth Stanger ( nee Readshaw).


As noted above, Margaret Shimmings is shown as a widower in the 1861 census. Looking back into the 1851 census, I couldn't find her at first, but then I found her under a mis-spelling Shimmins of the surname, together with her husband William ( born ~1817) - Journeyman Saddler and son George (born ~1843) scholar.

I still needed to know Margaret's maiden name, so next stop was the BMDs. I searched in vain in the BMDs between 1837 and 1843 (George's approximate birth date), but couldn't find any trace of William either as Shimmings or Shimmins. Another look at the BMDs under possible surname mis-spellings produced a William Skimmins marrying in the 2nd quarter of 1841 in Whitby. In the list of others marrying in that quarter in 1841 in Whitby was a Margaret Readshaw - this looked a distinct possibility and would tie up with the Readshaw links!

What was the chance of finding Margaret in the 1841 census? With the marriage in the second quarter of 1841, she was likely to be there under her maiden name and so she was aged 20 in Flowergate with a Martha Readshaw aged 50 (presumably her mother) plus others in the household, including a Wm Shimmins aged 20 - Saddler!

This looked like the final solution, but for confirmation I needed to check the IGI for Margaret's dob/christening - this was given as a christening in the IGI in Whitby on 27 th November 1818. Her parents were given as John Readshaw and Martha, which tied it all together.

But there is more to this link! Whilst on the IGI, I re-checked the other children of John & Martha's marriage, these were:

  • Mary Readshaw - christened Whitby 14th July 1814
  • James Readshaw - christened Whitby 6th August 1816
  • Elizabeth Readshaw - christened Whitby 28th November 1820

  • We have come across 2 of these children before:

  • Mary became Mary Smith - cousin to Mary Wilson - nee Stanger
  • Elizabeth became Elizabeth Leng, mother of Thomas W Leng
  • Only Mary was mentioned in Mary Wilson's will, so all the other cousins must have died by the time the will was written - we know for definite that Elizabeth had died (1844). So another search another day is required to pin down the deaths of Margaret and James!

    As a postscript, it seems strange that Mary Wilson should specify Mary Halland, Elizabeth Wilson & Emily Dawson Ward as grand nieces in her will, but only refer to Thomas Leng and George Shimmings as relatives, when they were actually grand nephews!

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    The probable identity of Charles Bryan's parents - Piecing together various data from the IGI would suggest that his parents were Thomas Bryan and Mary Gage, who were married in Skelton on 19/8/1781. A sibling of this Thomas Bryan, Mary Bryan, married a Timothy Castley in Skelton on 23/3/1767. Both of the GAGE & CASTLEY surnames were used as christian names for 2 of the children of Charles Bryan & Elisabeth Stanger - William Gage Bryan born 1823 & Timothy Castley Bryan born 1840.

    In February 2006, using Skelton Parish Register data from Keith Botwright and a more extensive look by myself at the IGI, I have been able to determine a very extensive ancestry, stretching back to late 1600/early 1700. This is presented as an All-in-One tree - see this ancestry tree.

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    Who was George Pharoah and why he was buried in William Stanger's grave - Although I had got the MI for William Stanger's grave in June 2005, I hadn't followed up George Pharoah. There was obviously a link with Pharoah being used as a christian name for one of Charles & Elizabeth Bryan's children - George Pharoah Bryan. A prompt from a new contact (another Bryan decendant) a couple of days ago prompted me to look again at George Pharoah with a bit more urgency!

    According to the MI, George Pharoah was 82 when he died on 2/6/1844, suggesting his birth year was ~1762 - interesting as William Stanger's birth year was ~ 1763! I looked on the IGI for Pharoahs, not too many around, but couldn't find a birth for GP, however I did find a marriage for a George Pharoah in Skelton on 11/2/1779, putting GP ~17 years old at the time - a possibility.

    But who was his wife? It was Elizabeth Fishwick! This was certainly getting interesting, especially as Hannah Fishwick was the 1st wife of William Stanger. Could they have been sisters? It would certainly explain why he was in the grave with family relatives. Incidently my greatgrandparents Martin & Elizabeth Roe are in the grave (in Larpool Cemetery) of William Stanger's son William from his 2nd marriage to Elizabeth Readshaw!

    Further examination of the IGI shows:

    Elizabeth Fishwick christened on 30/6/1765 in Skelton

    Hannah Fishwick christened on 27/7/1767 in Skelton

    Both have a father called John Fishwick, who married Elizabeth Wood on 28/2/1758 in Skelton! Certainly consistent with the births of Elizabeth and Hannah.

    Whilst no birth dates were given, we know from the MI that Hannah died on 22/9/1800 aged 33, putting her birth year ~ 1767 - Fairly conclusive don't you think!

    To make this complete, I need to do some more digging on the IGI for Pharoahs and find George Pharoah in the 1841 census!

    Who were Thomas Readshaw Robinson's parents Thomas is referred to in Mary Wilson's will as a 'reputed' half-brother, suggesting some illegitimacy! For many years, I have tried unsuccessfully to find any record of him, but I did find one of his daughters - Isabella Helm. Isabella is also mentioned in the will and is indeed present in the household of Mary Wilson in the 1891 census as a visitor. I have compiled quite a lot of info on Isabella, but that is a seperate topic.

    Returning to Thomas, I found his death reference in BMD as Glandford Brigg 1876 Sep qtr 7a 431 aged 76, so I decided to send for his death certificate. When it arrived a couple of days ago, it did not at first appear to help - fairly basic stuff - died 8th July 1876 at Kirton, Lincs aged 76 - informant was I Helm - daughter, present at death from Middle Handley, Derbyshire. Looked like I had the right Thomas through his daughter Isabella! Was there further confirmation?

    In many cases a day or two stewing on information helps for further confirmation and it did in this case! The first clue was the place of death, so to minimise the chaff I was able to find a census reference for Kirton in the 1851 census of Lincolnshire as HO 107/2116. Armed with this, I used my Ancestry subscription to narrow down any Thomas Robinsons in 1851 and was rewarded with HO 107/2116 Folio 72 p 44 sched 149 as a possibility. Two items stood out immediately - this Thomas Robinson was born in Whitby and his occupation was 'Inland Revenue Officer' His age was also quite close as 50. The death certificate showed his occupation as' Formerly an Officer of the Inland Revenue' - this was the clincher!

    The 1851 census also showed Thomas had a wife Mary, born ~1805 Lanark, Scotland and a son David, born ~1839 Crowle, Lincs. Incidently, Isabella was born ~1836 Thorne, Yorkshire. At first sight, the births are well apart in two counties - but Thorne is no more than 3 miles from Crowle! Incidently Thorne is now in Lincs!

    Mary Wilson's will identifies 5 children of Thomas - James, Thomas, Elizabeth, Isabella and a deceased son John. No mention is made of David, so he must have died before the will was made in 1886. However there is reference to two daughters of John, but they are not specifically named. So it seems that Thomas & Mary had 6 children.

    A potential death for David in BMD is Spilsby, Lincs 1867 Sep qtr Vol 7a p 311 aged 29. Spilsby is approx 20 miles SE of Kirton - a distinct possibility.

    No other clues as yet to the whereabouts of Thomas and his family (apart from Isabella) in any other census - a strategy for unearthing them is required! Bring in The Whitby Group.

    Jools (The Whitby Group) found Thomas and his family in the 1841 census living in Sutton on Trent, Notts

    HO107/867/4 f4 p32 - Sutton on Trent, Notts
    David Robinson 2 not bic( not born in the county)
    Isabella Robinson 4 not bic
    John Robinson 7 not bic
    Mary Robinson 35 born scotland
    Thomas Robinson 40 excise officer, not bic
    Thomas Robinson 9 not bic

    This still leaves the question of the origin of Thomas - the reputed half-brother of Mary Wilson. A normal half sibling relationship to Mary would be a child of William Stanger's first marriage - indeed Mary refers to her half sister Elisabeth Bryan in her will. An illegitimate half sibling must come from extra-marital relationships of William Stanger, Hannah Fishwick or Elizabeth Readshaw. Thomas's middle name of Readshaw would suggest that it is likely to be Elizabeth Readshaw. Elizabeth's marriage to William was in March 1802, Thomas was born 2 years prior to this marriage in 1800 - Elizabeth was described as a spinster in the marriage details! At present I cannot find any more details of Thomas' birth.

    Now thanks to Gillian (The Whitby Group) - 9/08/06, we have almost certain proof that Elizabeth Readshaw was Thomas' mother. Whitby Parish record transcipts show the following

    'Reacher' could be a misinterpretation of 'Readshaw' through local dialect. A later fact just unearthed supports this - having tried in vain to find Thomas in any other census than the 1851, I finally found him in the '61 & '71 census returns by tracing his wife Mary. In 1861 Thomas and Mary are living in Owston, Lincs (RG9/2405 folio 60 p6) - here the entry shows Thomas as Reacher T Robinson aged 60 Inland Revenue Officer born Whitby Yorks. In 1871 Thomas and Mary are living in Kirton in Lindsey, Lincs (RG10/3247 folio 55 p30) - here the entry shows Thomas as Reuben T Robinson aged 70 Retired Revenue Officer born Whitby Yorks. Dialect interpretation is obviously a major problem in the census returns!

    Further evidence is shown in the naming of Elizabeth's first legitimate child from her marriage to William Stanger - Mary Reacher Stanger b 11 Feb 1803 d 9 Aug 1803. Clearly we now have the proof of the half brother relationship of Thomas Readshaw Robinson to Mary Wilson (nee Stanger).

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    How did Timothy Castley Bryan end up in an unpurchased grave in Crewe Cemetery in 1908. Until recently (23/06/2005) my last 'sighting' of Timothy was in the 1881 census, living with his wife Ellen at her mothers house in Nottingham. I then located him in the 1891 census living with his wife in Leicester and in 1901 visting a house in Harrogate with his wife and brother-in-law. But what caused him to die 7 years later in the Crewe & Nantwich area?

    I found Timothy's death record found on FreeBMD (Feb 2005) - died 9th February 1908 - aged 68 ref Nantwich Vol 8a P 234. When I visited Crewe Cemetery on 8th February 2005 to examine the records, I found that he was buried 12th February 1908 in grave no 1156A.

    The Cemetery assistant remarked that this was probably an unpurchased grave at the time as the following people were buried in it and that Timothy had most likely died a pauper:

    4th June 1883 Eliza Speight aged 12
    17th September 1895 Florence Penny aged 6 wks
    12th February 1908 Timothy Bryan aged 68
    25th November 1969 Simon John Lucas aged 18 hours
    21st February 1982 Christopher Johnson aged 7 days - The grave had been purchased by this child's father.

    Timothy's age at death and the ages at the census returns would question the originally specified birth date of 26th October 1842. A check on the IGI revealed that this date was a christening date, not a birth date.(8th Feb 2005)

    Christening: 26 Oct 1842, Whitby, Yorkshire

    With the comment that Timothy had most likely died a pauper, I began to wonder how I might find records onf him in the local area. However I struggled to understand how he could be left a pauper so far from his family in the Whitby, North Yorkshire area. So before embarking on workhouse records, I decided to get his death certificate - what a completely different story!

    The death certificate stated that he had died on 9th February 1908 from Bronchitis Syncope at 5 Brook Street, Monks Coppenhall UD (now known as Crewe), with his occupation as Commercial Traveller. The informant being a W Adams of the same address. This information would suggest that Timothy was still in gainful employment when he died and was probably lodging there on business.

    Why was he not buried back in Whitby? His death was announced in the Whitby Gazette, but Timothy was the youngest of his siblings and most if not all had long since passed away. He doesn't appear to have had any children, but I cannot currently find any record of his wife's death. I guess that distant relatives weighed up the expense of having him transported back to Whitby and thought he was better left where he died!

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