Saturday 18 December 2021

Christmas news through the years.

Laxton in the snow

The news is depressing, the weather is murky and the days are short so it is definitely time to turn to local history. 

I love looking at the old newspaper site  to which I subscribe and usually distract myself with reading all sorts of snippets. Sometimes it is something which has been mentioned on a facebook page like the fascinating story of the de Cobain family who came to Goole from Northern Ireland. One branch of the family lived in a house called Armaghbreague on Hook Road and a search on that name and Goole soon brought up lots of articles.

But  today I thought I would  look at what was happening in the local area at this time of year. What was affecting people then? So below is a random collection of  events from Christmases past. I was particularly interested in the reference to a Christmas tree in Howden, obviously then something unusual. 

I hope that next year we will all be too busy celebrating with our friends to have time to sit in front of the computer!!!


HOWDEN. Christmas Treat. —On Christmas Day the inmates of the Howden Union Workhouse were regaled with the good old English cheer of roast beef and plum pudding to their hearts’ content, being allowed to eat much they liked. The provisions were of the first order, and were served up in style highly creditable by Mr. and Mrs. Meadley, the esteemed master and mistress of the house.



HOWDEN  Christmas Tree,—On Wednesday  a Christmas tree was exhibited, and a sale of useful and fancy articles held the Town-hall, Howden. The proceeds will be devoted to  defraying the expenses of general cleaning of Howden church. The committee of ladies who originated the bazaar have worked in the most indefatigable manner to ensure the success of their undertaking and the results have exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine promoters. In spite of the inclement weather the Town-hall was crowded during the whole of the afternoon and evening, and the day's receipts amounted about £1OO, great many articles still remaining unsold, the room was opened again on Thursday, when most of them would doubtless be disposed of



HOWDEN. Christmas Day. —The church bells commenced to ring about 6.30 a.m., and rang merry peals during the day. Postmen's Breakfast.—The postmen of the Howden District had their annual breakfast on Tuesday at Mr F. Powls’ house. There were about twelve present


 [Nb Tuesday was Christmas Day]



CHRISTMAS AT GOOLE WORKHOUSE. Forty large Christmas plum puddings were disposed of on Christmas Day, in addition to roast beef and other special fare by the inmates of  the Workhouse and Infirmary, who numbered 184. Dinner was served 12.30 in the dining hall, which had been specially decorated by the master and matron (Mr and Mrs J. Carpenter), the assistant matron (Miss Moore) and the cook (Mrs Walton), and which presented most attractive appearance

After dinner, tobacco and other luxuries were distributed, and at  2p.m. a 'free and easy" was held, recitations, etc. being given, and dancing indulged in. John Barnes was the M.C. On  Christmas Eve, Mrs Creyke, of Rawcliffe Hall, distributed sixpence each to the adult male inmates, tea and sugar to the women, and toys to the children in the house. She also gave buns to the Infirmary patients.


Dec 20th 1921

The high tide on Saturday evening overflowed the banks at Blacktoft flooded the houses, and some cases put out the fires.


December  1921

Through the efforts of the Goole Shipyard Employees Benevolent Fund Committee 1,050  children  the bulk of whom belonged to families of unemployed shipyard workers were entertained on Thursday to a substantial Christmas meal which took place in the canteen  of the Goole Shipyard and Repairing company who the generously contributed £300 to the committee funds. The committee also distributed £50 of groceries and 2,300lbs of beef to unemployed workers. 


 December 1941

The golden wedding anniversary was celebrated yesterday of and Mrs Benjamin Dale of Woodland-Avenue. Goole. Mr Dale is a native of Kilpin, near Howden, but has spent most of his life in Goole, where as a youth he was apprenticed to the late Mr Joseph Glew, furnisher and undertaker. The business was later taken over by Messrs Eastham, Ltd., and he remained with the firm until he retired five years ago.  Mr Dale is an old Volunteer, his eldest son served the last war, and youngest is present in the Army. Both Mr Dale and his wife, who was born at Sandtoft, are 71 years of age. They have a family of six, and eight grandchildren.


 December 1941

Repulse Survivor News has been received by his wife that Leading Seaman Douglas H. Shaw, of Broadway, Goole was one of the survivors from H.M.S. Repulse. Seaman Shaw, who is 25 years of age, is a native of Asselby. Howden, and has been in the Navy since he was a boy. He joined the Repulse shortly before the war. He was on leave during the summer.



December 1945

Told he would be reported for riding a pedal cycle without a light, Albert Tipping, a Howden farm labourer, said: If  I had had  a better bike you would not have caught me." Tipping was fined 7s 6d


December 1946

CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES AT GOOLE  with many of the town's former servicemen back home for their first Christmas for some years, Goole families did not allow austerity to stand in the way of merrymaking. The weather was fine, though cold, and the main outdoor attraction was the Yorkshire League match on Boxing Day between Goole Town and Huddersfield Town, which drew a crowd of 3,000, including 200 German prisoners of war. 

Friday 3 December 2021

Cotness and the Orson Welles connection.

 I was recently asked about the history of Cotness, a hamlet about one mile from Laxton in Yorkshire. I know it quite well - there are less than 10 houses there today.  But it has a long and interesting history and was mentioned in the Domesday Book.

The settlement was owned by various landowners over the years but the family I am most interested in is the Wells family. A John Wells was living there in 1525 when he  was the Cotness representative at the  annual meeting of the 48 [ Eight and Forty] township men who governed Wallingfen Common. Another John Wells was the bailiff for the Metham estate when he died in 1572. A Christopher Wells owned a messuage and lands at Cotness in 1583 and died in 1592. Another Christopher or the same was named as the former owner of a house, dovecote, orchard and garden which was let to tenants in 1625.

The line of descent is difficult to follow but an Anthony Wells [the younger] was a merchant and prominent Quaker in Hull. He died in 1716.  His father [?] Anthony Wells senior passed the Cotness estate on to his younger son Nathaniel.

Nathaniel, like the rest of his family was a Quaker. There were many Quakers in the area including the Empsons of Goole and the Ellythorps of Sandholme. His marriage in 1693 actually took place at Cotness

Nathaniel Wells' marriage in 1693

Nathaniel had sons Anthony, Nathaniel, Burdon and Gideon. He  died in 1730. After  his son Anthony's death the whole of his Cotness lands  eventually passed to Gideon.

Gideon, born 1701 at Cotness was a doctor. He married Mary Partridge in London in 1730 in a Quaker ceremony. Her father was Richard Partridge who was the agent at the "Court of Great Britain for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware"

Gideon lived and practised some of the time in Sheffield, selling some of his Cotness lands to the local Mawson and Empson families. But he kept the family house and surrounding gardens and appears as Gideon Wells MD,  Cotness in  the 1741 poll book.

He was the personal physician to Evelyn Pierrepont, second Duke of Kingston  [upon Hull] who had a very colourful life. The duke had a French mistress Marie Therese de Fontaine de la Touche, aka Marquise de la Touche. She was married and had three children but then eloped with the young Duke. But when the Duke abandoned her in 1750 she retired to Gideon Wells' house at Cotness.  It is hard to imagine this  aristocratic French lady at Cotness! She eventually returned to France and reconciled with her family. 

Gideon died in 1759 at Cotness and was buried in his own burial ground. 

His widow and son Richard born 1734 [who lived in Philadelphia] sold in 1761 "their manner and toftstead and all the site and circuit of the same manner and a stable and hophouse." Soon afterwards Richard sold a 9 acre close between  the house and  the Saltmarshe boundary. He initially reserved right of access to the Quaker burial ground where his family were buried.

This picture is taken from the Saltmarshe side - Cotness is on the other side!

This house was it is believed on the site of the Manor Farm house.

Richard was 16 when he emigrated to America  and returned briefly on the death of his father. He returned to Philadelphia and later that year  - 1759 - married Rachel Hill. 

They had several children including  Gideon born 1765 and William Hill born 1769.  Richard was a prominent merchant and cashier of  the Bank of North America. He wrote anti slavery pamphlets. He died in 1801 and was buried in  the Friends Burial Ground  in Philadelphia. 

His son Gideon was a merchant  and married Hannah Waln. His son William Hill Wells married Elizabeth Aydelott Dagworthy, the adopted daughter of General John Dagworthy.

William served as a  senator for Delaware. His son Henry Hill Wells born 1797 married Mary Putnam. Another son  son John Dagworthy Wells married Ann Lehman in 1832.

Henry and Mary  had children  including William Dagworthy Wells born 1837 and Richard Jones Wells born 1843. At some point the family began to add an extra 'e' into their name - ie Welles.

Richard Jones Wells married Mary Blanche Head whose father, Orson Sherman Head was a lawyer in Kenosha Wisconsin. Richard and Mary had a son Richard Hogdgon Head Wells. He had a son Orson Welles born 1915 in Kenosha. And the rest is history.

Who would have thought that Cotness was once the haven of a Duke's mistress and the ancestral home of Orson Welles?

I would like to wish all readers of my blog a safe and peaceful Christmas. It has been yet another strange year - let's hope 2022 is more normal!