The Story of Henry Robinson of Withernwick
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This is the life story of Henry Robinson, born in Withernwick in 1850. He seems to have written the story in the 1930's, he finally died in 1939 aged 89. It is a wonderful story of life in the seconds half of the 19th Century and the first few decades of the 20th Century. It is written in a very 'flowery' style but that adds to its charm. It is long but a wonderfully evocative story, so well worth reading.  Click here to see a photo of Henry in 1928.
Below is the 1851 census entry for the Robinson family, it simply says that they were living in Withernwick but does not say where specifically.




Year of Birth


Place of Birth

Robinson, John B




Agricultural Labourer


Robinson, Fanny L






Robinson, Mary






Robinson, Rachel






Robinson, Henry


5 months





I Henry Robinson born at Withernwick on October 4th 1850 and spent the first
fourteen years of my life at home with Father, Mother, Brother, and Sister. But now that I am over eighty four years old, I should like to run over those few short years once again, if it be only for the purpose, to while away the time.

I remember when at home Mother used to tell us about some of our Father's ancestors, but as I have forgotten much of what we were told, I can give you but very little of the history, however small it maybe, perhaps it will be of some interest to you and yours in days to come.

I  remember Mother, saying that our Great Grandfather Mr Robinson lived at Beverley, and was a free man of that place, and had some interest in the free pasture land known as Westwood and other places, and I understand that these freemen held a right to run so many cattle in these pastures free, or had a share in other ways, and he was a Cow keeper.

And he had a son named John, a free born man of Beverley and as such he had received a good and free education, Mother told us that he was a good  scholar, and I think I can vouch for the correctness of this, as at various times he would give us children books with our names beautifully written in them and we were told that he married "I think" a Miss Boynton about the year 1820, and went to live at Anlaby near Hull, and followed the occupation of a gardener.

And he had a son born in February 1822, and he; was named John Boynton, who became my Father, and he had brothers, and sisters but of these I know very little, except that I was told to say, Aunt Esther, Uncle Robert, Etc. and the last cousin I had belonging to my Fathers family died at the age of 84 in 1936 being Uncle Robert's Daughter.

Now when this boy John Boynton, the elder, was about twelve years of age, his Grandfather at Beverley took him to bring up as his own, and to assist him in his cow keeping business, and if he had stayed the business might have been his own in due time, but it appears that it was not the life he wished to follow. "For to use his own words" he did not like working amongst the cows, neither did he get on very well with his Grandmother. But perhaps the chief reason for not staying, was that he was not sent to school as he expected to be. So in the space of a year or two, he ran away, and instead of going home to Anlaby, he fount his way into Beverley market, and it was the farmers hiring day, as Martinmas (11th November) was close at hand when masters seek new servants, and servants seek new places, so he hired himself to a farmer, named Mr Leaper living at Withernwick twelve miles from Beverley, on a farm known as Aldbrough Lane farm, situated about a quarter of a mile from the village.

This would be about the year 1834. Now at this time, and for many years after, boys and girls were hired to farmers when very young, and for a very small wage, boys when first leaving home got about three or four pounds for the year, girls got two, in some cases a new frock if they had done well.

Beverley hiring were held in November just before Martinmas and wore largely attended by both masters and servants, and also held in many towns and villages in the East Riding, but about 1850 or a little later they gradually dwindled away, and it became more usual to advertise their wants in the local papers.

It was the servants custom to leave their places on November Twenty Fourth, and go to their fresh places First of December having but one week holiday in the year and at a very dismal time of the year too, for young people to leave their homes, especially for the first time to meet with strangers, in dark cold weather, but it was suprising how soon they settled down and were comfortable.

Girls on many farms had six or more cows to milk each morning and night
And when the days of summer came round, it was a pleasure to see how happy all servants on one farm could be, although working from five in the morning until seven or later at night, also same on Saturdays, and attended to horses and cattle on Sundays without any extra pay, the shepherds doing the same with the sheep. When a servant went to a place for a year, he seldom went any further away than into the village, and many happy hours were spent in the evenings by the farm lads, in the blacksmiths, joiners
or in the shoemaker's shop, as these shops kept open till about eight o clock, and seemed to give a welcome to these lads for an hour or so.
And then they returned to their various farms "suppered up", gave the horses their last feed for the night and retired for the night.

But to return to our boy, mentioned at the foot of page three, mho hired himself to a Mr Leaper of Withernwick, and came to the place, but had a short stay, for only a few days after his arrival early one morning before the household was astir, he crept silently down stairs, put on his boots, and pulled his cap well over his ears, took his little bundle under his arm. and was just in the act of passing quietly through the door, when he was startled by a voice from behind saying "halloo me boy where is thou going”, he says, “I’m going to run away”, The first speaker says, “so am I, we'll go together”. This was the new servant girl so they both passed out together into the darkness of that cold December's morning, and trudged on for many miles, the girl going to her home.

The boy found a new master, and got hired and probably would be taken to a new place in his master’s gig. I think this new place would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of Beswick near Beverley (for in after years) I have heard him talk about Beswick, Watton, Kilnwick etc. and after living somewhere about here for a few yearn he naturally would be grown up to manhood so after about ten years had passed, he hired himself once again to a farmer at Withernwick this time to one named Mr Bateson, living at Cowden Road Farm to be the farm foreman, and at the end of the year, he received a very good Testimonial, as to character, for steadfastness, regularity, efficiency etc. from his master.

There was living at the same farm that year, a young girl, a native of Withernwick named Fanny Lawson Thompson, and at the end of the servants year, that is Nov,23rd. Martinmas. They both left this place and on December 15th 1845. They wore married at St. Alban Church Witherwick and lived there all their lives -in a cottage at South End near the village.

It may appear somewhat surprising to find that once again he engaged himself(after 10 or 12 years) to the same Mr Leaper farmer, Aldbrough Road, this time to be the foreman(and not as a little boy to run away) and he stayed on for some years. Mr Leaper had a Daughter at home and many times she would look very steadfastly at this foreman and say "I know I have seen your face before, but I cannot remember where, or when it can have been”, but he said that he never told her that he was the little boy who had ran away when the girl went too, some years ago, and although he stayed on the farm for some years Mr Leaper or his daughter never knew that he had been there before and on leaving that farm he worked with many other farmers in the neighbourhood, and for most port he worked at piece-work. In the winter months, it was such work as draining land, trimming field hedges, pulling turnips etc. and many cold hours I have been helping him instead of being at school.

In the summer months the work that, had to be done was various, hoeing corn, and turnips etc. and any other work that came to hand, and a good farmer, on a good farm can always find a job to be done, the meadow fields had to be cut by scythe, for the merry time of haymaking. Grass cutting machines were not in use at he time. This was done in June and July and it was generally a busy time, yet as a rule if the weather was fine, Hay harvest was fraught with much merriment and joy. The sweet scent of well made hay the beauty of thetree and the hedgerow, the Lark singing overhead, and most of the country side dressed in a mantle of many colours, and the cuckoo is heard in some distant tree, greeting all with its cheery voice Cuc-koo-hurry on.

And then on the last Sunday in June it was the Wesleyan Sunday School Anniversary, and the crowds of people who came to it seemed to take the village by storm, a great number came from Aldbrough, and some from far and near, and the streets were crowded, and the village looked more like holding a fair, than a school-feast.

And after the Hull and Hornsea Railway was built, about 1860, the number that came for many years were greatly increased owing to the fact that many young people, from Withernwick had gone to live in Hull, and now they looked upon it as a great pleasure to visit their native village yearly.

And this feast was looked upon as a great occasion, for many friends could meet in love and joy for a few hours, perhaps for only once a year, and after the hay was safely gathered in, a few more jobs had to be done preparatory to the busy days of harvest, generally commencing in the month of August, some labourers engaged to a farmer for a month or five weeks, others preferred to help by the piece in the harvest field by cutting down the corn with the scythe. There was not any corn reapers in those days and the men’s wives turned out to gather up the corn, into sheaves, and the children from about the age of eight, did a useful work by making straw bands to bind up the sheaves, and most of the people from the villages came out to help with the harvest. Blacksmiths, joiners, shoemakers, tailors etc. and I have often seen the village schoolmaster taking a hand in the harvest field.

And it was the rule for apprentices to hire themselves to farmers for a month in harvest, and then give to their respective master half the wage earned for allowing them to go.

And large numbers of men came over from Ireland each year to help with the corn, some bringing sickles to shear wheat. It was heavy work, and a slow process, about one acre a day was cut by the scythe, and set up into stooks.

And if the weather wan favorable for about a fortnight, then the horses and wagons were brought out, and leading of the corn commenced in earnest, and soon the empty stackyard was filled with lofty corn stacks. And as soon has the fields were cleared of the stooks, many women and children might be seen hurrying away into the fields to glean up the scattered ears of corn, which was a great privilege given unto them by the farmers, and dated back a long way, some people with families gathered up sufficient wheat to last them for flour, after been thrashed, and ground in the village mill to make into flour.

And some people gathered up a quantity of other grain, that helped to feed the cottager pig, for many owned a pig in those days.

 And after the older boys had finished making bands they were sent into the stubble fields to tend the farmers pig, until they were picking up, the stray ears of corn, and many wild run I have had after them, for when the ears of corn were few and far between, and the pigs hungry, they would run through any hedge and trespass into forbidden fields.

And then about September things became more normal, and the corn stacks were thatched
to protect them from the wild storms that winters usually brings.

But today a great deal of this work is not done, the self-binders show an abundant proof of this in the harvest fields, with many other modern implement that helps the farmers with their many and various duties on the land.

Now may I say in honour to the farmers in general of the years long gone past. It was
the custom that when the last sheaf was safely brought into the stackyard, to accompany it by much rejoicing, waving of flags of various sorts, chiefly the handle of a fork was the flag-staff, with a handkerchief tied to the prongs, with much cheering, hurrahing and rejoicing, then a few days later the general staff of helpers who had worked in the harvest field were invited into the farmhouse to partake of a sumptuous meal, known as the Harvest supper, where the farmer and his men spent a vary joyful hour together, and after telling tales about past harvests "wet and dry" etc. then the bade each other goodnight, for all that is past we thank you, and wish you well for that which is to come.

Now to come to my Father and mother's middle age, and to their closing years, I may say that farm work was his life's work, and was followed, as a rule when work was plentiful in a quiet and comfortable way, my mother and her mother lived next house to each other, until Grandmother did a few years before mother.

And it was a help to mother when Grandmother always kept cows and was always ready to help when any assistance was needed in any way.

Of course they had their afflictions and sorrows, being the general lot of mankind.

About the year 1862 my Father suffered several weeks from a fever, laying a fortnight
unconscious and many a weary trudge I had to Aldbrough three miles away, for medicine from Dr Clark's surgery. However; the Summer passed by, and then Father recovered and continued in good health until the year 1874 when he had the misfortune to fall from a wagon load of wool that he was helping to cover up, and his thigh was broken, he was removed to the Royal Infirmary Hull, and laid for several weeks, and after being off work for many months he recovered and remained in good health to his death, which came about very suddenly, it was in February 1890, when the most dreadful disease "Influenza" was passing through the land, he was assisting to thrash corn, in the same stackyard where his thigh was broken some years before, when he was seized with illness, and left work at once, and when he got home he turned cold and passed away in a few days. And was interred in the Church-yard Withernwick.

And mother remained in the same cottage and was kindly attended to by some of her children who were living in the neighbourhood, and our younger brother who was a Bachelor) also lived at home as usual and mother lived nine years after Father's death and her death took place in February 1899 and was laid to rest near Father in the Churchyard at Withernwick
And after occupying the same cottage for over fifty years it was given up in March the same year. The owner of the property was William Bethel, Esq, Rise Park , Near Hull.

Now with reference to my own individual life, I may say that Witherwick is my native place, it was there that I was born in the year 1850.and there that I spent my childhood days, and those were days of a very various kind.

There were two sisters in the family a little older than myself, but as I was the elder boy, and when about eight years of age, I began to find life busy, and my young days were spent with a great deal of running about, sometimes work, sometimes school. I went to school those days that a farmer was not wanting me, some people today may say what has a farmer to do, for a boy like that. Just to give you a single incident,

A farmer sowed a field with beans, early in march, and prevent the crows from pulling the seed up, I was sent to tend it and early it was in March, I had to be there by six o clock in the morning, when frost was on the ground, to six at night, and from early spring to after harvest, half my days were spent on the land, leaving a  very short margin for school, and farmers did not dash about in motor cars as they do now, but rode about in gigs with a pony, and as there were so many gates across the High­roads a farmer often took a boy with him to open gates.

And when I was about nine years old, there was in our family eligible for school four other children and it war, serious having to pay two-pence per week for each child for school fee. It seemed better to have sixpence a day from a farmer for it appeared that education was little thought about by the poor in those days when a sixpence was so valuable.

But however time kept passing by, one day succeeded another in quick succession, so was I growing older.
There was a gentleman in our village namred Mr William Robinson, a tailor by trade, who had said for a year or two, that when I was fourteen years of age, he would take me to be an apprentice.

And I well remember the time when I reached that age, and was called upon to decide how I should like to spend my future days.
But as I had noticed many times that when tailors were at work they had to sit with crossed legs upon a table in front of the window.
Tailors in those days journeyed from house to house to make up cloth or other materials for the people and dressmakers went about in the same way working for the ladies and sewing machines had not yet been introduced.
So after due consideration I felt that I had not any desire to be shut up in this way as I previously had had much liberty in our outdoor life. I still had a preference to continue so.
Although many times I felt it very hard, especially in the summer, having to run about from six in the morning to six at night, with tired limbs, and sore feet, yet nothing
could persuade me to say, yes, to Mr Robinson, when he came to see my Father and Mother, about taking me to be an apprentice. I was fully decided that I desired to lead a more, active and open life than the life of a tailor gave promise to.
And as there was no particular pressure put upon one to act differently, by either Father or Mother. Mr Robinson was, very disappointed because I still hold out against going to him as an apprentice.
This was sometime in September 1864, as I would be fourteen years of age on the fourth of October, and it was drawing near to martinmas when farm servants change their places, so I went with my Father to the hiring at Bransburton and I was hired to a farmer, Mr Mariner, living at Goxhill near Hornsea for
£3.10.0 for the year, with Farmer Wariner.

First Year of Farm Service

I went to this place on the first day of December, and soon settled down, and felt much at home, my work was to feed and attend to the cattle, and it was a cold, and snowy winter, and many times my little strength was taxed to the uttermost, when carrying straw etc. in storms of snow and rain for I was not a big strong lad yet always had good health.

There was a small wooden shed erected in the fold yard, that was set apart for the
purpose of feeding a bull, and I had to take a feed of meal into this shed each morning, and one occasion on entering I left the door open and the big beast followed me in, and as I was in the act of placing the meal in the crib, he came up behind where I stood and placed one horn on each of my body, and gave such a hard push that made the crib crack, and perhaps it was on account of it having long horns and set far apart that I was not injured, but I know that I slipped down from beneath its forehead, retired in haste, and very afraid of it some time after.

But the cold days of winter, with its many storms passed away, and all
was beginning to look very pleasant, as the bright days of spring drew near, filling the heart of the birds with song and praise, the Farm was partly surrounded on the east and north by a narrow wood, and beauty was seen everywhere.

The Hull and Hornsea Railway, now in tho possession of L.N.E. Railway, built about 1860 passed close to the stack yard, and the church of Goxhill St Giles stood on a hill at the opposite side of the line. When spring came the cattle were turned out into the pasture, and it did away with much Sunday work, so that I had the opportunity to go about and attend the morning service at the Church, It was the smallest Church that I ever was in. 
If I remember rightly there were but, six pews, on each side, and were built lengthwise and the Congregation faced one and other from either side.

And when I got out into the fields to work along with the men, it was then that I
could sing "To reap and sow, Plough and mow and be a farmer’s boy”.
And as I had been accustomed to do so many things; when a lad, I was greatly helped now by past experience, and the master said, before the year was out that I could beat the second man with the plough: and so the days passed nicely away with the music of the birds singing in the open air.
And the good will that existed between the master and the servants, helped the time to glide very smoothly by. Yet we worked at that time from six to six Saturdays included.

And joining in the evenings, with the other boys from near farms, for an hour or two, made it more pleasant and sociable, because of the sunshine and open air.
However the summer days were gliding on space with our various duties, and the busy time of harvest was rolling quickly round,
The golden grain was ripening in the fields, which bespoke for a few weeks of duties both long and hard, there was not any corn reaping machines at this time, and a few casual farm workers were engaged for the extra work, the corn was cut down by the scythe, and gathered up by a rake into sheaves, and bound up by the straw bands twisted together by children.
Each man that was mowing had his gatherer and each gatherer had a child to twist the straw bands.
It was a slow process but one which had served the people of our land for many generations so with patience, a strong arm, a willing mind and a few weeks of nice weather, it would still get done, and by the time that harvest is over, the stacks thatched and made secure against the storms of the coming winter, and the land prepared, the seed sown for the harvest of another year. 

Martinmas won't be far off, when the farm servants have a week's holiday, leaving one place November 23rd and have a holiday until December 1st when returning or going to
a new place.
It was this Martinmas that terminated my first year of farm service. And it was spent fairly well, a mixture of work and pleasure, every bit satisfactory with the choice I had made, and so far I do not regret doing any bit on the land.
Mr. and Mrs Wariner were vary nice people and liked well by all the servants, and I was well treated by the maid Miss Blackburn from Cowton and by all the other servants living on the farm.

And we parted all good friends at Martinmas and wended our respective way to our various homes.
I do not remember having met with them ever afterwards.
I dare say I should feel very proud, as I walked home with my wage.
£3.10.0-swelling out my pockets.
Goodbye to all Friends. And to the year 1665.

Second year Farm service,

Since I had passed through one year on a farm fairly comfortable, I was encouraged to try again, so having a day off duty to go to thy hiring to look for a farmer who wanted such a lad as I. And I was fortunate enough to meet with one in the parson of Mr Blenkin Farmer, living at Hatfield Magna. who hired me for a year for the sum of £7.0.0. This village was about two miles nearer my home than Goxhill, so it made it possible that I could visit my home each Sunday.
Hatfield was a small, an appeared to be an ancient village, with a few old thatched cottages remaining, and I remember two or three brothers living in the village, aged men and small farmers, and there was an amazing case, when one of them had to attend at the court for allowing some cattle to stray , and he pleaded guilty  but said "If you please deal nicely with me because I have neither Father nor Mother to look after me now”. and he was over eighty year of age.

Now I went to this place on December 1st 1865 and I found it to be a nice and comfortable farm, the Master and Mistress were both nice people, and there was a son
Master George, who worked in the fields occasionally, and had a nice horse, a dapple-grey one, on which he followed the; hounds sometimes, and there was a foreman and a waggoner and so I settled down very nicely.

And the year passed, as most years do on all farms, work varying with the changing of seasons, winter as its duties cold and uninteresting, spring follows on with warmth and animation, summer introduces sunshine and plenty of hard work, and then Autumn, named the third season of the year, The season of increase in which the fruits of the earth having grown to maturity, are cut down and gathered in and terminate the servants year. But before that time comes I have a little more to say.
This year was not more eventful on the farm except for two incidents than usual.
The first one happening in winter a short time after I came, and that was the great epidemic known as Renderpest, that afflicted the cattle of all ages, and in a few days most of these died, and were buried by hundreds throughout the land, two or three cases each day, on the farm that I was on our master would lose about thirty head of fine stock.
Now let me say that there were about six excellent cows tied up in a shed, and the master instructed me to feed, and attend to them, and keep apart from all the other cattle and mould not allow any one to go near the cows, and they were milked morning and evening by the servant maid, and it was with thankful hearts that we had satisfaction of knowing that not one of these cows was afflicted.

And after all the trouble, and care, anxiety for all, the spring was drawing near with its beauty, and providing food for the beasts of the fields, and decorating them with flowers, and throwing a mantle of green over every tree and hedge-row where the birds sing their cheery songs.
And after a few weeks of sunshine in the fields preparing the soil, sowing the seed for a future crop, and looking forward to the time of hay harvest, hoping that the sun may shine, and the winds may blow, to transform the new mown grass into spicy hay.
And by the time the sweet odour of the hay has scented the air of eventide, and has
been gathered into the stackyard, and safely protected from the storms of winter.
It was near the time, when we could look upon the golden grain, as it waves its radiant head across the broad fields of labour indicating that the time of harvest was near at hand.

You will remember that I told you a sad story how the Renderpest carried off a large number of fine and costly cattle, a short time after I came to Hatfield.

Now I wish to mention to you another event that took place while I am here, but of a very pleasant nature, and a surprise both to our master and his harvest men, I told you how the son Master George used to ride to hounds on his own favourite horse a beautiful dapple-grey, but before the harvest came he sold this horse and purchased a reaping machine to cut down the corn. Not one of the up to date machine that you may see today in the year 1937. 

But in the year 1866, you cannot realise the joy and wonder that was seen on each
face as this machine was taken into a ten acre field of fine standing wheat, and began to cut it down in grand style, and it was laid in sheaves ready to be tied up by the straw bands twisted together by children, while the reaper knives went chitter-chatter as they flew hither and thither over their journey from side to side. And soon the master, and all workmen were filled with wonder and admiration at the achievement already wrought. But our joy knew no bounds, when about five o’clock in the afternoon, the ten acres of wheat were cut down, bound up into sheaves and set up into stocks, which would have taken about three days to cut by scythe, and the master was present and he said “Now lads its too soon to go home yet, let us sit down and take a bit of rest”. The joy and happiness that lit up the face of the master George would not easily be forgotten when he realised what had been gained by sacrificing his favourite horse and purchasing this corn reaper. It was a reaper of an early type, and not a self binder. 

The days of harvest would last for about four weeks, and the carting of the grain from the field into the stackyard was laborious and long days. This was done and then
the stacks were thatched to protect them from the storms and wind-and rain that winter usually brings. And after the seed had been sown in cold and damp earth, ready to appear at natures call to live in the sunshine of heaven, grow, mature and yield more food for other days. And this been done, we see that the last weeks of the servant's year is ebbing out, and hearts were growing light with the thought of being at home once more amongst friends much more so than the thought of having a mere holiday, particular when one was leaving a good place, and going to one of uncertainty. 

However Martinmas is here at last, for the servant's year closes on November 23 and it is a rule to leave the place on the 24th, usually the evening of Martinmas day is noted
for holding the servant's Martinmas supper, and about five pm the servants, and a labourer or two, gather into the large bright kitchen of the farm house to partake of the many good things, kindly provided by the good lady of the house, in this case Mrs Blenkin and all sat down to a repast of excellent character. And as enjoyed each others company, along with the splendid supper, I hoped that we with clear conscience, believed that we had done our duty on the farm, throughout the year of our service, and were worthy of it, so that we could depart in the morning without any remorse. And when the supper was over, we were joined in the kitchen by the good people of the house. And when a few tales had been told, and a few jokes cracked, and good humour was in every heart.

I wondered if any one knew anything about the ancient village of Hatfield,
but little was known except that a Church once stood near to a farm house with a Church attached, where some old vaults and grave stones were visible and yet funerals still took place, but all that could be seen of the church, were parts of its foundation. I think the most that is usually known about is that it was destroyed, once when a battle was fought in the neighbourhood. And there is a stone cross standing where three road ends meet, about three feet above the steps at the base, what its ancient use was for is not known now.   

And then some one offered an expression of joy and pleasure of having had the opportunity to welcome, and work with, the first corn-reaper that was brought into the village of Hatfield-Magna in the name of Master George Blenkin, and to witness the splendid work that it was capable of doing. At this, Many Cheers, rang through the room. Then Master George, and his sister sang a song entitled Paddle your own Canoe.  I have remembered those lines for over more than seventy years, and when I have repeated them. I have been carried back in mind to the days that are no more. I have seen again the old places, heard-the endearing words as of old, giving instruction and encouragement, and seen the smile of many a friend, These things have brought new life when otherwise sadness was creeping into my soul. But alas, these times are forever past. But to return to our Festivity, the supper is over, many thanks are repeated. 

Then a goodnight and a farewell to all.
The next morning the servants part perhaps to meet no more, I had liked the people, also the place, and was now eager to leave it. But the thought of a holiday was nice and I was pleased to spend a few days at home with Father and Mother, and all. So I suppose that I walked home, two miles, proudly taking my wage of £7.0.0. swelling out my pocket. So here ends a good and pleasant year, 1866.

Third year Farm service - Withernwick.

The following year 1867. I engaged myself to Mr John Croft, living on a farm known as "Westlands" at Withernwick, about a mile from the village on the Hull road, who was cousin to my mother, I had spent many happy weeks on this farm in my childhood days when this same John Croft's Father and Mother lived there with their family. The farm belonged to them, and the reason why I was there so much was because Mother's uncle was getting old and lame, and he wanted me to be there, to run errands for him, as he was always doing spare jobs on the farmstead but when I was about twelve he retired from the farm and I was taken home and they went to reside at Hornsea. Several years before, two of the sons, John and Robert, had bought a portable engine and thrashing machine, about the first that was brought into this district, from a firm in Lincolnshire, and were busy thrashing corn all winter at nearly all the farms in the neighbourhood, as there was no other in the district, and when John's Father retired from the farm he took it on, and this how he became to engage me when I left Hatfield.

And the year passed without anything particular turning up. The threshing machine and engine was sold. I was the only servant living in the house, and the farm required but the keeping of three horses, and every week passed in the same quiet way. And it was like being at home than being amongst several other servants, and in case of a few days special work wanting doing, a casual farm labourer was employed so that by this method the work on the farm was always kept up to date. And the summer was fine and passed by in a pleasant and peaceful manner. The weeks rolled past, and the harvest drew on apace, the glorious crops of golden grain looked beautiful as it shook its cheery self in a most confiding manner that there will be, bread for the hungry. 

Now that it is ready to cut, two men were engaged in the work, and with favourable weather for a few weeks, with strong arms, and willing minds, all the fruits of the field will be gathered into the stackyard and made secure against the storms of winter. And then a few more weeks of preparing the soil and dropping in the seed for the crops of another year. And with God’s blessing, may it grow and bring forth abundantly. By now we find that the year as rolled by, and Martinmas is once more at hand, and it seems to have drawn up, at the last breath with a little rush and ended on a Saturday, November 23. And Mr. Croft paid me my wage on the Saturday but wished me to stay until the Monday morning. 

So on the Sunday I took advantage of a walk the fields, the stackyard where I had helped
uncle and gathered many hen's eggs, and the orchard where I had pulled so many apples, pears, and plums. For the good ladies of the house and all this done when about the time that I be entering my teens. I felt most loath to leave the old place but memory is still there. So on Monday morning I bade all good day and took my leave, with my wage
£10.0.0. Adieu to the year 1867.

Fourth -. year Farm service  Withernwick. 

When finished with my last place, I still continued going to farm work, and for this
year I was hired to Mr. Robert Taylor, Southend Farm. Withernwick, and all the servants drew up on December first, and there were two maid servants, and four men, living in the house and about six labourers outside. And it proved to be a nice pleasant place, and there was plenty of work, for so much of the land lay a long distance from the farmstead. 

I will mention one small instance to show what a diffident way they do things now.
We three farm horsemen left the farmstead about six in the morning (in winter) with four horses each, and travelled to farthest field about three miles away, and commenced to plough when the morning stars were yet visible, what a change now. And when on one occasion we were going to this far away place to have a thrashing day with some horses and wagons one dark morning some one had propped open the gate leading from the high road into a field, and some had passed through and I had yoked to my wagon
four horses, and just as they turned, left side, into the field, the prop dropped down and the gate closed to, in the face of the horses and caused some trouble, all the horses were squeezed close together by the impact of the gate, and the horse I was riding was thrown over the wagon pole, in amongst the other three. As I by the blessing of God,(but never remember how) I crept out from horse legs, and wagon wheels, with nothing more than a badly scratched fore part of the left leg and it kept bad and sore for weeks. 

This was a cold and hard winter, subject to sudden storms of wind and rain also of
severe snow storms. But after it had past away the spring was very nice, and been well able to get on with the various kinds of work in the fields, it brought joy and gladness into our lives and we all felt very cheery, the spring time is always busy with sowing the several kinds of seed and when this is accomplished, we may soon expect to be engaged with summer work. And we found that when this summer came that it was an exceedingly dry one, all the ponds and small water brooks became dry, and before the end of the summer, it was found very difficult to obtain water for the cattle to drink, even in the low land known as Lammas, or any other place in the neighbourhood. And the weather was very hot, the sun shone each day from morn till night, without cloud to intervene, and there was not any difficulty in gathering the crops of hay into the stackyard. 

And the harvest was the earliest that I have ever known, we commenced July 26th and were favoured without a drop of rain all the time we were engaged with the work. The corn reaper that was used was one that was pushed along in front of the two horses. This may seem a peculiar way of doing, but it was just as if some one should yoke two horses into a pole wagon, but contrary way round, with there heads to the body of the wagon, and as the reaper was moved along and cut down the corn it was laid in a nice even swath and many people from the village came to gather it up into sheaves. And even the school master was seen taking a part in the work amongst the others, but as the weather had been so dry the harvest was over in a month, ended by Aug 26, making the Autumn much longer than usual, and so many fields were ploughed, and many acres were sown with seeds for the crops of another harvest. And then spending a week or two with a few odd jobs, such jobs as a good farmer can always find to be done. 

The worst piece of work I did was, I think when the wagoner and I got orders to
yoke up and load two wagons of straw, one Saturday afternoon and take to a field a mile away for the sheep to lay, as they were sinking in the soft land, it would have been alright if the weather had been calm but it was a difficult thing to handle the straw for the high wind that was blowing, and the rain came down continually, and it was very cold and it was bad travelling over the soft land in the field, after this Martinmas was soon to hand. 

November 23rd once more. The night when usually the farmer at this period provided what is known as Martinmas supper, and the farm servants and the labourers are gathered together to partake of a sumptuous supper held in the farmhouse as a token for the
splendid work that had been done in the harvest field, and in thanks for a fine harvest, and nice crops and a very prosperous year. And then about
six o’clock the supper was ready, and about ten able looking men
seated themselves round the table ladened with good things provided by the good lady
of the house.        

And the half hour operation seemed to have put new life and energy into them, for they turned from the table and took there seats round the fire, with happy voices and faces all aglow, for the next hours or so, a few tales mere told, some told of long past wet harvests, another of long harvest, and then another of bad harvest when much barley bread had to be eaten etc. 

And my Grandfather was there aged about 70 years, not as a workman but from being a near neighbour, said when he was a lad he went to a farm at Martinmas where there was a large white table in the kitchen, but not any pots upon it, nothing but pewter
plates and dishes, and they took their own knives and forks with them, and when a meal was ended the knives and fork got a rub upon our jacket sleeve and we put them in the table drawer, that would be about 1820.
And the party began to disperse with many cheers and thanks to the donor Mr Taylor and his good wife, and many wishes for another prosperous year, and good night was heard on every tongue, and smiles were seen on every face, has they, passed from that glowing room, into the cold of that November's night. The servants left the following morning perhaps to meet no more. Goodbye to a pleasant year 1868. 

Fifth year Farm service   Withernwick. 

The year following 1869 was spent on Whitedale farm, Withernwick, owned and farmed by William Bethel of Rise Park near Hull, and Mr William Walker was the farm bailiff and his nephew was the farm foreman, and it was a nice steady going place, all the work on the farm was done as the various seasons came round for it, the Winter passed by steadily with its own work, and then the Spring came we took to the fields in a cheery spirit, enjoying all we could see and hear and felt the warm glow of the sunshine of heaven. 
We attached our labours to the need of sowing many seeds in the land that was necessary for future crops. 

And then the days of summer came along with other pleasures, and more work, and the time of harvest with all its work and long hours is generally a favourite time for all.  It was just about this time of the year when the Wesleyan Sunday school had their trip to the seaside at Hornsea, and several farmers in the parish lent their wagons and horses
yearly to convey the scholars and their parents there. And I was appointed to take Mr Bethel's newly painted wagon, and decorated horses all looked very trim, and I enjoyed the trip immensely, and after leaving Hornsea in the evening we had a very pleasant journey of five miles home, and all were pleased that we had been favoured with such a splendid day and the nice ride to our homes. And after alighting in the village the Teachers and the scholars, and all present gave three ringing cheers, and hearty thanks to the farmers for the loan of wagons and horses, and a good Hurrah, ended a happy day in July. 

And soon after this nice outgoing the harvest was very near at hand, when the corn reaper
was got ready, and several men were engaged for the occasion, from the village, and as a rule, if the weather was suitable it lasted about four weeks, and by that time all would be safely gathered into the stackyard. And when all the harvest men had left all was very quiet for a short time. But for a few weeks more our time was occupied with ploughing, and sowing the seed for a future harvest. I had a slight accident once, I was riding in an empty cart, and the cart jumped forward suddenly and threw me out and I suffered concussion for a short time I and was off work for a week.

It was while living here that I became a member of the ancient order of Foresters Court alder 9501, at Withernwick, and still remain a member. I leave Whitedale farm with a kind word for all. Adieu happy year 1869. 

Sixth year Farm service. Hatfield.

And the year following 1870, I am changing from one of Mr Bethel’s farms, on to another this time at Hatfield Mr Major was the farm bailiff, and a nice place I but I soon got to know that my stay would only be of short duration, because it had been decided to have a sale, and sell all that was on the farm, and let the farm. And after we had done all the winter's work, and got all arranged for the sale, there was but little to be done except feeding the cattle for a few weeks. 

Mr Bethel and his steward came one Sunday to the farm to see how the fat cattle were
improving, and the steward took a tape measure from his pocket to measure them, and Mr Major the farm bailiff, who was a very pious man turned to Mr Bethel and said “no sir, no sir”, and the tape was wound up unused. The sale was held in April, and William Bethell Esq kindly presented a nice white horse, and a cart to Mr Major so that he could do a bit of leading in his aged retirement, and let him have a house at a village a few miles away, named Sigglethorne. And when the sale was over and all cleared away I was no longer required, but very
sorry that I could not have stayed on for the whole year. 

So I left in April, and went to my home at Withernwick. And for the remainder of the year, I got work on a farm near home, from May to November, and the Summer was spent in a cheerful way "farmers way" without anything turning up to cause any special comment, most of our time was in the fields, the hay harvest did not last long, as there was little meadow land on the farm. But when the harvest time drew near everyone looked forward to plenty of work, and also to a pleasant time, as it was time of wonder and expectation for this was just a time for the introduction of new corn reapers, and all the people who were engaged with the harvest was very much interested in them, and what was used this year was one of the first type, but it did its work in fine style, the wonder and astonishment of all concerned. And so the harvest passed nicely, and a few weeks more brought us to the end of the servants year November 23rd. And as I had got a good insight into the many methods which as to be followed by farmers, I decided to stay my hand for the present from following it further. So I will bid farewell for the present to a farmer's life. Bye Bye to the year 1870.

Although farm work is hard sometimes I have never regretted serving those few years with the farmers. I have learnt many things that I should not have known, and one thing in particular is this, what a dull life a farmers labourer lead in those days with fifteen shilling a week, long hours, battered about by storms and no holidays, and many of them had long walks to and fro from the farms at which they worked. Others more fortunate, working most of their lives at farms nearer home this life refer to hundreds of men in those days up and down the farming districts when at that time the farmers were apparently doing well. I know one farmer when I was a lad, that was farming one farm, but before he retired was farming five good farms, but none of the labourer had one.

And it is now hard to believe, and realise to what a poor state many of the families were reduced to at that time. It was great boon to the poor, when about this time, the state granted free education, thus relieving the poor with large families of the burden of regular paying weekly school pence. I think I have told you that how many families augmented there small income "by gleaning" that is by picking up the scattered ears of corn after the fields had been cleared by the farmers. And to an old custom it was still adhered to, but it was about now, or a little later that the number of gleaners began to diminish, perhaps one reason was, the aged people were passing away the younger generation not following it up. And this may be accounted for, partly because the corn was cut so clean by the new reaping machines, and after the horse rake had passed over the land, the ears of corn became very scarce, yet we may say that from practical knowledge, gleaning was very remunerative to many families, gathering as many ears of wheat, that after been thrashed, and then taken to the flour mill to be ground into flour lasted most of the winter, and other corn was picked as well for most people had at that time the possession of a pig, and there was a number of cow in the village at that time belonging to the working people and in the summer grazed in the lanes, and were kept in a cow pasture at nights and were generally tended by an aged man. 

Now the months of the year 1870 was fast ebbing out, and before it ended, I hoped to be taking an interest in another class of work, you will have noticed that my farming life commenced at the age of fourteen, and I spent six years on the land, and having got a general knowledge of cultivating the soil, and producing the various kinds of crops also took an active part in stacking, and thatching the same, and when my cousin owned his own thrashing machine I got a practical knowledge of the same. 

Therefore having picked up these things, I was anxious to go a little further, and learn the method of grinding wheat, and prepare it for the manifold, and various uses that go to decorate the table. It is now, close to the year 1870, and I am twenty years of age. I went to the newspaper agent
(Hull weekly News) Mr B Webster and asked if he would forward a short advertisement to the paper for me as I wanted a place as a flour millers apprentice, so after asking many questions, and producing paper and pencil, he got one drawn up to his satisfaction and said that it should be sent to the Hull News office, so I paid the required fee, and with a good night, and thank-you sir, I left. Yes I left but I wondered if I should hear any more about it, but when I got a Hull News on Saturday morning, there it was, and I read it over a few times, I thought now, will any one else see it. And then a few days later I received a letter by post from a miller at Bempton Mill, Mr Thompson by name, saying that he was in need of a young man as an apprentice to the trade. So by meeting Mr Thompson at Beverley the following Saturday, I was engaged for three years, and for this time I was to have £30.0.0, £8.10.12 yearly respectively. 

So I left my home at Withernwick the first week in December 1870, and I found Bempton situated about three miles north of Bridlington, a neat little village, with a few thatched houses and the cliffs of the sea was then well known, and I think much more so by many visitors who came along to obtain the sea bird's eggs that is gathered by a few professional dinners from families in the village, going down by ropes. The mill was about half a mile away and stood pleasantly on rising ground in a small paddock joining cross roads, west of Flamborough. I have watched the lighthouse many an hour from the top of the mill at night especially on moon light nights when the sea shone like a mirror. 

My mother had made up my little bundle of clothing etc and when I left bade me
many goodbyes, and her pious life in my young days, always, afterwards had a great influence in shaping my character through life, and when I opened my small kit, I found a small bible within. We children always read the bible in the home on Sunday evenings, so I was pleased with this one, and by and by I took to reading it with regularity, and I read it through ten times in as many years. I call this my mother's bible. And the small print did not suit my eyes now, so I got a larger one, and it was read another ten times in other ten year, and I would ask any one who may read this paper, to read the bible regular for pleasure and knowledge. 

As I write these two or three lines, it is about sixty six years since I first arrived
at Bempton mill, the house was close by; and the family consisted of Master, Mistress, one son, and two Daughters, and very nice people they were. And now I find myself just entering into another class of work, instead of farming I am grinding the farmers corn, and I settled down very well. I must confess that I found all strange at first, but now I am beginning to take a marked interest in the many and various things that have to be done. The wheat was first cleaned, afterwards ground, between a large pair of "Bukrston" mill stone, each weighting about a ton, the next operation was to dress this meal, that is to take it and put it through a long cylinder to separate the flour from the bran, and other refuse. I took a special interest and care in dressing the stones that ground the corn, for if they were not carefully sharpened, the maximum of flour could not be obtained from the wheat. 

And all went on well for most of two years, until one very stormy day, one of the mill
sails was so much damaged that it had to be taken-down and replaced by a new one. The millwright was advised, and new timber was obtained from Beverley, and the broken sail and the sail opposite had to be taken down to allow the mill to run with two sails, whilst the repairs were in hand. And the making and fixing of this new sail proved very helpful to me, and I got a good share of assisting the millwright, as his young man was nervous in climbing, and height had no terror for me in those days. In due time the millwright's work was completed and the mill looked very prim again after the new sail had been fixed. And then we started again for my third year's work, the work was usually heavy in winter so as to keep us going from morning until late at night, and some times after midnight. But I will say in honour of Mr Thompson, my master that the mill was never run on a Sunday. 

But a dark shadow had already fallen over the place, and anxious thoughts moved across
disappointed hearts. The place belonged to a bachelor gentleman who had said that Mr Thompson should never be removed. But ah, death changes many things, this landlord took a fever, and passed away, and then the property befell to his sister, and she insisted on coming to live at the mill, so consequently Mr Thompson received notice to leave. No sooner was my, third winter at the mill nearly over, than preparations had to be made for the coming sale in April 1873.  

And when the day arrived for the sale, it was a vary sorrowful time, many a tear fell when the favourite black horse "Bod" passed to the highest bidder, beneath the auctioneers mallet. And many other things equally caused much heartache, as everything was sold, cows, horses and dead stock. As there was some land to the mill, all except a pony and a light cart. But I am pleased to say that it was a good sale financially, and a few days after Mr Thompson and the family left, and went to reside at Bridlington, after living at Bempton Mill for twenty years. 

The name of the new Landlady, who came to live at the mill with her husband were
Mr. and Mrs Dunning, but he was much against coming, as he had always been a farmer. For the purpose of making up my third year at the mill, I engaged myself to those new people, from April, to December, but I was not comfortable in my new service, as I did not like to deal with my late master's old customers, who still canvassed the villages for orders, as he had taken a shop at Bridlington. But I may say that it did not last for long, for all the n
ew Landlady was so very anxious to come to the mill, and I so sorry to relate that she should never have done so, because she was a slave to brandy drinking, and before the half year was over, I, for one helped to carry her to her last resting place in Bridlington Church yard. And by that time the year was drawing to its close, when I should leave Bempton Mill, after been there three years. I had made many friends in the village, and was most sorry to part from them, and taking it as a whole those three years were most pleasant that I spent in my young days. 

So I had to go. Farewell all. Bye Bye year 1873. 

Year 1874 Leven Mill. 

And it was at the commencement of 1874 that I engaged myself to Mr Hebb Miller living at Leven, a few miles from Hornsea, and the village was a large and prosperous one, having in it many different trades, and a canal running up from the river Hull up to the village supplying the neighbourhood with coal, lime, manure etc.
But the mill was not so pleasantly situated as the one, I had left, there was one advantage however, as there was a steam engine attached to the mill, so that in case the weather was calm, and the work in the mill was urgent it could be utilised to a great advantage. 

The winter months were a fairly busy time, early in a morning to late hours at night. As well as having a good flour trade, there was a quantity of grain that was ground into meal for the purpose of feeding cattle that lasted all winter, but when the spring came round we had it more easy. There was a field connected to the mill, and in Summer if I had a bit of leisure time in the mill, I would go out into the field for a few hours of recreation, doing any small pieces of work that needed it. But now the Summer that had been a very nice one is speedily passing away, and days of comparative ease are going too. There is every appearance of a plentiful harvest, and there is every prospect of having a busy time in the mill. 

I am pleased to say that my first year at Leven has passed nicely, I made it a practice
to be up about five in the morning, and commence work in the mill, and in Winter two more men came about six, fed the horses, and loaded up the sacks of meal, and got ready for going out into the country, and I was, with some help, in the mill, making ready the grain that had been brought in the previous night.
And thus day by day we toiled on. I was often in the mill from early morning, to eight or nine at night, and occasionally much later. And I found that the second winter at the mill was equal in work, or even more heavy than the first, grain was very low in price and several farmers preferred to have ground into meal and feed cattle with it. 

But we always got a nice rest at the week end, and I think as a rule it was well earned. It was beneficial to be able to get to a religious service, and as the dark days of winter wore on, we began to watch for the brightness of spring, and I think that nothing occurred to call for any special comment, except to say that when the slack time comes it is wise to have the machinery overhauled in the mill, and to attend to any necessary repairs.
But I was contemplating a change, so near the end of the year I should leave, and after been at Leven Mill two years. I left at end of 1875. 

Year 1876 

It will now be seen that eleven years have passed over my head since I left my home to go out into the world, to enjoy its pleasures and to struggle with its difficulties, and I must confess that I have been very fairly dealt with. The pleasures have not destroyed my usefulness neither have the difficulties debarred me from pressing forward. And I am leaving Leven after two years. I have enjoyed services in various Churches., and profited by many teetotal meetings I attended. And I am leaving the mill in which I have some happy days, and a master always considerate, and a family much respected, with very kind regards, and may they all prosper. 

For I have accepted a job on the N.E. Railway and start at once. I have arrived at an official's office in Paragon Station, and waiting orders. The order I received was go to Selby Station, and enquire for
London Road signal cabin and proceed there to be instructed in the art of blockworking. This is a new method of working trains on a more safe principle this is performed by bell signals, and is by electric instruments, worked to a special code of rules, I stayed there about five weeks studying the necessary rules, and the practical part. I was sent to York for my examination, to the office of the "Blockworking" superintendent, and after passing all the details and was considered competent to take charge of one of these cabins. I was sent to one on the main line between York and Darlington , four miles north of Northallerton, named Danby Wiske. 

This cabin had been opened about a year but for day duty only, but it became necessary
to have it open for nights as well to expedite the traffic, so I was sent there for this purpose and so it became open continually except Sundays. I arrived at Danby Wiske. November 8 1875 and the first thing I had to do was go into the village (half a mile from the Railway) to look for lodgings, and I was successful to obtaining a nice place with the late blacksmiths widow. I was told afterwards that this poor woman's husband was somewhat stout, and he had run a race at a village wedding sometime previously, and became ill and never recovered but gradually passed away. And the widow with her three children had removed from the smithy and was living in another house with sufficient meadow attached to keep a cow by the kindness of the Rev Archdeacon Cust, the Rector of the parish. I was glad to have found such a nice place to stay at, and for two years it was to me a home from home. 

Therefore I commenced to work in the cabin on the following morning, I found George Benson in charge and we became good mates for five years. Then he retired from the Railway and took the village Inn.
Another man came and we were mates for about twenty six years, and what winters we had in those days, what violent winds we had, doing much damage by blowing the telegraph wires down, and the terrific snow storms blocking the line, and delaying the traffic for hours, it was bad in the day time but much worse at nights, I have seen express trains travelling a foot at a time, as the men cleared away the snow away from under the engine wheels. These storms would continue for days or weeks at a time, sometimes the visibility was so bad that trains could not be seen many yards away, sometimes a signal man was asked to account for detentions which could not be avoided, been caused by the storms. 

ometimes a fog would settle down for a few days or a week making the work most dangerous, and requiring the utmost care. I have observed a few things occur in my time that would have caused some very searching questions, if these transgressions had been reported to the officials, but as nothing serious followed, all was kept quiet. 

After I had been in this cabin for two years the Railway Company built two houses for
the two signalmen, but before I leave my lodgings let me say that this widow had three children, the elder, a boy about twelve years old. And I took a great interest in his education, and instructed him a little in electricity, and taught him the Morse Electric Telegraph Code, and a few more useful things, and he was taken into the Post Office at Northallerton has a clerk, and was successful. After a few years he was transferred to York Post Office, and from a low beginning rose to be one of the chief officials in the Intelligent Department in that Post Office. 

There was a nice Wesleyan Chapel in the village with a society which I joined, and these area a few of the older members. 

Rt Raisbeck

John Foster

Rd Welburn

Miss Harding

Isa Raisbeck

Ann Foster

Ann Welburn

Wm Ward

E Ascough

James Foster

Ed Selby

M Ann Foster

Miis Merryweather

Miss E Merryweather

And I stayed to see most of these, and many others laid to Rest. 

The Rector was not much in favour with the Chapel people, yet he was known to say that they were his best attenders at Church. I also started a Sunday School, with upward of forty scholars, and carried it on
with much success until I left. 

Now in September 1877, after been in the cabin two years, the two new houses were ready for tenants, and so that I had got a house, I thought I was entitled to have someone to look after it. So going down to
Hull , we were married there at St Luke's Church. And after a few days returned, and went direct into the new Railway cottage. And that was the last of my good and homely lodging in the village, yet I did many a bit of work for my landlady, before she went to live at York with her son, that I mentioned before. This was a nice convenient cottage with a garden attached and we settled very nicely. I both liked the place also the work, and so the time passed nicely on. After being in the house for about two years my wife took a trip to her native village to see her Mother and people living at Reighton near Scarborough . And when the holidays were over she returned home bringing our little son who lived and grown and did well, the days of winter passed nicely by, and pleasant days came and put new life into all. 

Taking alternative duties day and nights weekly did not affect me, as I had been accustomed to much night duty when working in the mill, the work was somewhat complicated,
as the new method of working trains was only in its infancy. But as time passed, many new ideas were developed and put into use, such has telegraph telephone, and several other bell signals, making the work more simple. There were some new rules employed, and some new method of working the machinery in the cabins that I adopted and were taken up by the officials. This cabin had one very good feature that was favourable to the signalmen, it was built near a public road which crossed the line by a bridge, that was a great boon, for it was difficult working the traffic where a level crossing existed. 

The time passed pleasantly, with busy days some more easy. And in the year 1881, our younger son was born and in due time, both the boys attended
the school at Danby Wiske, and at the age of ten years the younger one John Henry had a severe illness of Brain Fever, which ended in death, and was put to rest in the village Church yard, on Sunday November 23rd 1891, and a blue granite stone marks his resting Place. 

After having lived in the railway cottages about eight years, a new station was built for the benefit of the neighbourhood, and the opening celebrations took place, on
December 8th 1884 . with sports in a field adjoining the Railway, to commence at one o’clock , and a tea at 4.30 p.m. in a large marquee, and a Grand Concert in the Danby Wiske school room at 6.30 p.m.  

And five passenger trains were booked to stop each way daily, to pick up and set down. Sometimes thunder storms wrought havoc with the telegraph, and other instruments in the cabin. I have known four or five instruments fused and put out of order, by one flash of lightning and then every train had to be stopped, the driver instructed to proceed with caution, lest any obstruction had fouled the line, this was most necessary until the faults or fault were repaired, if the signalman was fortunate enough to have acquired a knowledge to rectify the faults, better it was for himself, also avoiding many detentions to trains. I once saw in a thunder storm a ball of "Fire" or something resembling a large orange, drop on to the railway metal in front of the cabin, about one hundred yards in front of an express train, and just thought "we are all blown up", but this ball, did not turn towards the engine but turned the opposite way, and about one hundred yards in front of the train then it disappeared. I have often wondered what would have resulted if this ball, had turned the other way, and run under the engine wheel. It was a long time after this "ball" was seen, that I saw the same driver to speak to, and he told me that he saw this "ball" descending and when it dropped on the running metal he said, I   had the shock of my life, and I have thanked God for many years that we were all spared,   both the train and passengers. 

The following is written more for my son’s children to read, more than anything that relating
to myself. When our son, James Richard, was fifteen years of age 1894, he went to be apprentice to the cabinet making business, with Mr Abbott of Ripon and stayed until he was twenty one, he took kindly to that class of work, and also liked the place. And he took a great interest in playing the violin and Mr Abbott encouraged him in it. And paid for his tuition to the organist of Ripon Cathedral, and he was a member of a Carol society the time he stayed at Ripon. And when his apprenticeship was ended, Mr Abbott wanted him to stay on, and he was
offered a good wage, but he declined with thanks, because Mr Abbott had introduced a new partner into the business that my son did not favour, he left in 1900. So he came home and stayed for a few weeks, and made a tool-chest for himself, and then got work at Messrs Shepherdson’s, cabinet works Limited, Drffield, E Yorks

And when he found that he was staying, the chest was sent on, and acknowledged by the
following letter: 

Dear Father and Mother. 
he chest arrived on Tuesday and I began to work on Wednesday morning, the contents of chest in order. I think I shall like the place well the ordinary cabinet making is piece work and Bank Fitting, Town Hall jobs, etc is day work. About 170 hands are engaged at present, and about 30 girls, polishing, and cane seating chairs etc all is fit up with electric light, the shops are heated by steam, Hoping you are well. I conclude with best love, 
Your son, James. 

After working here about five years, all Driffield was alarmed one night by hearing the cry of fire, and next morning, people were reading in the news, the Following:
£22,000 damage. Disastrous Fire at Driffield Cabinet Works. An appalling spectacle. Last night the inhabitants of Driffield were thrown into a state of alarm by an outbreak of fire on the extensive premises of Messrs Shepherdson’s, whose place covers a large area and employs about 150 work people. All was safe at 7.30 and at llpm the first sign of fire was seen, it burnt like tinder, and much wood was destroyed. The works abut upon a thickly-populated centre, and many of the dwellers were asleep, one or two dogs kept, perished in the flames, much furniture was brought into the street, and children were sleeping on couches, many work people lost all there tools. 

Some time after work was resumed for a year or two, then the firm removed from Driffield to
Southport , taking a few men with them. May son stayed behind and worked at his trade. Now all this time we remained at Danby Wiske station, which has been built just over twenty years, and have seen I think four Station Masters and for several years my wife's health was not robust and now it seemed to be slightly failing, and she had a desire to be near to her relatives. At the commence of 1907 I applied for a removal on account of my wife's health, and I obtained one, and we were removed from Danby Wiske to a cabin at Nafferton station, Near Bridlington, on the first day of April. We had made many friends and were reluctant to leave them, I loved the work in the Sunday School. I loved the little children, I took many of them away on a photo, and treasure them yet. At Danby Wiske from 1875 to 1907. 

Arrived At Nafferton
April 1st 1907 . Appointed signalman at Nafferton Station with a company's house, and arrived April 1st 1907 and had Mr H Farrow for mate. My work was about as it had been, except, that we had no whole night duty, my wife’s health was about as usual for a few years, and then it began to fail, and then a Granddaughter came to her, now it had been a custom of my wife to call me up early in the morning so that we could have breakfast together before I went out to my day's work. And on Saturday morning September 9.1913, she called as usual, but when I was up, I found her suffering from a seizure, her speech was affected. Dr Ecles was called in, and a nurse came, but she did not rally, and passed away Oct 12th 1913 , and was interred in

Nafferton Cemetry by the vicar, The Rev Hewett. Mr Sutton undertaker had charge of the funeral. And after the relatives and friends have left all was most solemn, and quiet for a time. My granddaughter stayed on to look after the house, but the time soon came when the rumours of war were in the wind, and it was the main topic of the time, and soon it was a reality, and everybody was plunged into a state of much excitement, and volunteers were asked for, all over the country, both for soldiers, females for munitions workers and all kind of workers wanted. 

And on the Railway there was a great alteration in working the traffic, and after the zeppelins began to come over into
England , and drop destructive bombs, the company issued a special code of rules for working every class of train. I was at Nafferton station cabin near Bridlington. And the airships came into England by way of Flamborough, so that we got them at first hand. I have seen five come over in one night, I saw two Zeppelins destroyed during the war. All windows had to be shuttered and kept dark, all food was rationed, and tickets issued to be used weekly with grocers, bakers and coal etc. It was very difficult time for over four years that the war lasted. Thousands were slain in a Foreign Land , and many brought back to their homes in England crippled for life. But the four years of trouble and torture got over. The years of war were past, and peace was proclaimed at 11 am on November llth 1918. The bells rang out joyfully and loud all over the Land. Everybody was relieved from an awful heavy burden. Restrictions were removed, dark clouds rolled by, the joy of hope gave liberty to the people. But a war of this magnitude is sure to be felt and seen for many years in homes and places where bereavement and wounds have cast their gloom. 

Now the war is over and everybody is breathing more freely, my son enlisted in the Royal Engineers, and was sent to work amongst the airplanes at Farnsworth, and after his return from war duties, two or three years passed away without comment, and as I was due to retire from the Railway on March 31st 1921. My Granddaughter also left, who had been with me for about ten years, and she was married on
April 6th 1921 . at the Wesleyan Church , Driffield by the Rev Plain superintendent of the Circuit, to R C Forster, returned soldier who had been in the thick of many battles for several months, and succeeded to his Father's business(who had retired) near Newcastle , as Draper and Clothier. To. Fir.Henry Robinson We the Nafferton Station staff, have great pleasure in presenting you with the accompanying Kettle as a small token of esteem on your retirement from the N.E.R. after serving faithfully as signalman for 45 years and seven months.

N Savage - Station Master

R Cole

H Gray

Miss Wright

William Deighton

A Middleton

F Boynton

A H Farrow

H Taylor

Rd Boynton

C Fenby

G Thompson

I am saying farewell to the Railway after been on forty five years and lived only in two Company houses. Thirty three at Danby wiske, remainder at Nafferton. I am now going to reside at Little Driffield, where King Alfred is buried in the
Ancient Church . Where my son and family had resided for many years, and in 1923 he was taken ill and died suddenly from Angina Pectores, and was intered in Driffield Cemetery . Some time after his widow and children left Little Driffield and removed to Queensbury near Bradford , and her two boys worked together in a cabinet makers shop, and all living together in one house, until the eldest got married and removed into another house in 1932and in June 1934 the younger son Eric did likewise, and took to themselves a house with a splendid view across a valley. 

Now my dear children and all, I have told you a little about my young life, and about a few ways in which it was spent, and you may gather from it that things are very different today to what they were then (I refer to country life) and now I am hoping that if it be the Lord's will, I may have a Bright Even Tide. Perhaps I may tell you a little about my native village, Withernwick from what I remember of it. First, let us look at the Church,
St Albans . It is an old Church, the walls are built of coarse masonry, about two course of bricks, and three or four of rubble, with a good slated roof, but does not boast a Tower, but has a tapering spire, within is fixed two bells, and weather vane on the summit, situated on the west end of the Chancel roof. For some years there has been a nice Organ in the Church, and the time I visited it everything looked very nice and clean, and the Church yard is kept neat, with many tidy graves, and clean, well kept Tombstones, I have many relatives at rest, both aged and young, laid beneath its sods. When I was young I think the vicar was the Rev George Holdsworth, but did not officiate, as I can remember at different times young curates staying in the village, the last one was a married clergyman named Rev Turton. About the year 1860 a new vicarage was built and Mr Turton removed into it, and until about 1867, then left the village. And another clergyman came, named, The Rev J M Crocket, and lived in the vicarage for many years and was very popular in the village. 

My first remembrance of the village school would be about 1855, when I first attended.
Mr Henshaw (probably Earnshaw)
was the school master, and poor children were charged a school fee of twopence a week, but it was not compulsory to attend, so that many boys went to work on the farms, for sixpence a day. The schoolmistress attended two afternoons each week to teach the girls needlework. I knew other masters before I left finally, at the age of fourteen. When we were out of school one day, at playtime, I found a half sovereign in gold, apparently it had been lost a long time, the master took it from me and purchased some books for school. I had a very clear recollection of Mr William Oman, the miller, as an aged gentleman( a noted wrestler in his young days) who used to stand in the sun on a fine morning against the end of his house as I passed by to school, and his son John was the next miller for many years. And then his son William had the business till the mill was demolished. The school was nicely situated at the east side of the village, with a small play ground, and some years after I left school in 1864, a nice commodious house was erected close for the schoolmaster, and the school premises enlarged. About the year 1896 a young gentleman came named Mr E C Wright (Ernest Colton Wright), and his wife, to the school and became a most efficient schoolmaster, and a vary useful and respected gentleman in the village for over thirty years.

There was also a Wesleyan, and a Primitive Chapel (the latter is not used as such now) and about a dozen thatched houses in the village, but they have all gone. Ancient Forestry Court – Alder No 9501, this club has built a nice commodious Foresters Hall, in the village, since my young days, when I was a boy. 

The old wind mill was seen standing on its lonely and aged hill, the most sympathetic object in the whole village, situated in a field near the school,
where every boy as found pleasure in watching its sails go round, and added his shot at the old mill with a stone, but I think its distance from the highway was just out of range, so that most of the shots missed their mark. It has stood as a well known landmark for many years. (but not stood still and idle) always ready to work when to do so. It worked in the light, it worked in the dark, worked in the wildest wind that blew and it battled with the fiercest storms of its time without a murmur or a sigh, but ever rejoicing in the fact that much golden grain was ever coming into its storehouse, knowing that in due time it would change this grain into the precious staff of life, to go forth to feed the hungry, and cheer the soul of man. But now it begins to feel that the days of old age are drawing near, when no longer able to battle with atmospheric changes, and struggle with storms that blow, in its great age. So the old mill shuts its eyes upon the golden grain it loved so well and long. It closes its ears to the sweet music of the evening breeze, and to the loud and awful note of the hurricane's blast, and bared its brave bosom, to the wind of heaven and passed away. One sail, then another fell, crumbling to the ground, its days is past, and work is done. It now follows the same path that the human hands have gone, that first placed it on the hill. It is seen no more, and the hill whereon it stood is now growing grain for other mills to grind. The old mill did crush the golden grain and now it is crushed by Father Time, so it will be the fate of all things. The Great Power will crush, and all will fall from the hill of Being, into the valley of Forgetfulness

I am always pleased to pass a day at my beloved village, Withernwick, and I have had
the pleasure and privilege of doing so now for some years past. At the kind invitation of my esteemed friends, the late Mr. Wright, schoolmaster and Family, so I go to spend my birthday near my old home, and look once more upon many things that remain about as usual, and yet how different many things are from the days long gone by? And yet on the whole I think the village did appear to have a more neat and cheerful look. And yet I think that many fields that once yielded beautiful golden grain, as little now to gladden the eye, they are not cultivated, the plough as passed out of the gate, and the land is given up to its own method of growing crops of grass and herbs for cattle to feed upon. The farms are there, but the well known familiar Farmers have gone. The school remains the same, but a new master is there, and fresh scholars are there. The Church is made sacred by many memories of the past, and the clergymen of by gone days are here no more, and strangers are fulfilling the duties, that they once performed. Each year adds its iota to every changeable things of the wonders of the world. I now never meet in the village an old scholar of my school days, when we played together in the meadows, and by the singing brook and down in the pastures where the cattle fed.

I should say that there are about sixteen farms in the parish, and most of the farmers
employed some of the labourers who resided in the village, and their wages were about fifteen shillings a week, except in busy times, such as hay time, harvest time and piece work. Withernwick parish is a large village 5 miles south by west of Hornsea and contains 456. inhabitants (This number is taken from a Directory dated about 1650) and 2700 acres of land in Holderness. And most of the soil is owned by William Bethel Esqr of Rise park, near Hull , who is also the Lord of the Manor. The Church is dedicated to St Alban, and the vicarage is in the Patronage of the Prebendary of Holme, in York Cathedral, and incumbency of the Rev George Holdsworth, with a small Church, school. There is a beautiful stone war memorial erected to the memory of Withernwick boys who joined up for the great war. The ground was given by the Lord of the Manor, in a conspicuous part of the village, and planted with nice shrubs and evergreens, etc and prot­ected by a neat iron Palisade. 

If we take a look into the church we shall see a neat Brass Tablet fixed to the wall as  follows.


In Loving Memory of 
Ernest Colton Wright

Who died 16th August 1929 aged 61 years

For 33 years School Master of Withernwick
and for 30 years, organist of this church.

This Tablet is erected by his wife and children



Sometime after the death of Mr Wright, his widow vacated the school house and not able to obtain another in the village, she had a nice one built for herself and family on the outskirts of the village, situated on the south west side and suitably named Southfield.

These were the tradesmen of Withernwick about the year of our Lord 1860.

John Brainbridge
John Fox
John Simpson
Kirman Bradshaw

James Brainbridge
William Hewson
Barrington Webster
William Kale


William Coupland
John Coultred

Joseph Brainbridge
William Todd


William Robinson
William Everingham
George Moore

John Dunn - Butcher
John Oman - Flour Miller
Goerge Riby - Beer house
Richard Smith - Gate Inn
Charles Russell - Bricklayer
John Bowser - Brick and tile maker
Robert Oman - Market gardener

Carriers to Hull - Tues to Friday
John Fisher       William Hewson      Henry Wallis     William Wray (also the Beverley on Saturday

Now I will give more details of my family:
Father: John Boynton Roninson - born Feb 1822 - died 7th Dec 1890
Mother: Fanny Lawson Thompson - born 22nd Dec 1823 - died 15th Feb 1899

Married at St Alban's, Withernwick - 15th Dec 1845
Births and deaths of my brothers and sisers

First Name


Year of birth

Where / how died

Year of death


22nd Oct





8th Dec





4th Oct





16th April





29th Oct


Infancy 21st Nov



5th Dec


Infancy 21st May


Elizabeth Jane

24th Dec





31st July


Child 5th Mar



6th Feb





26th April


Hull 10th Feb



22nd July





10th March


Hull 12th Feb, bachelor


Marriages of my brothers and sisters

First Name

Married to

Where married


Henry Tomlinson



William Swift



Hannah Marshall



Rose Maw


Elizabeth Jane

Robert Ellis



Emma Sellars



William Duggleby



Mather Robinson


My grandfather (my father's father) was John Robinson Thompson born in Beverley about 1800 and his father was a cowkeeper and a freeman of Beverley therefore his son John recieved a free and good education.
John married about 1821 and settled in Anlaby near Hull and lived there all of his life, here are some of his children, so my father and my aunts and uncles:

John Boynton (my father), Robert, Henry, Hannah, Ester Boynton (Lewis) Jane and more.

My mother's father and mother:
James Thompson - born West Newton, 25th Feb 1799 - died in Withernwick, 4th June 1874 aged 75
Mary Lawson - Born Witherwick, 21st June 1799 - died in Witherwick, 1st Feb 1884 aged 85
Married at St Alban's church, Witherwick anout 1821 and lived at South End, Witherwick most of their married life.

Their children (so my mother and more aunts and uncles) 

First name

Date / Year of birth

Date/ year / age / place of death

Fanny Lawson (my mother)

22nd Feb 1823

15th Feb 1899 aged 75


1st Nov 1825



28th May 1829

8th Feb 1910 aged 81


12th Jan 1834

Feb 1893 aged 59


26th Dec 1838

West Newton

* Sussanah married Thomas Kitson and they left England for New York on 5th April 1851 on the sailing ship "Prince Regent". Thomas Kitson died in 1891 and by that time their descendants numbered about 70.

And finally a little poem:

The Old Mill of Withernwick

There was an old fashioned windmill
that stood in my native village
and I have often stood to watch
its sails go round and round.

I have often been inside the mill
but years have passed away
for it was when I used to go
with the miller's son to play.

And then there came some mighty winds
which blew the sails away
and now I see the old windmill
has fallen into decay.

And when I think of the old windmill
when it stood there in its prime
it brings to my mind my school days
and of many good old times.

And the sight of the old mill
is in my memory still
and often yet I can see it
still standing on the hill.

But then the aged windmill
had only its time to stay
and also after a few more years
we likewise shall pass away.

Then we soon may be forgotten
like many other things
for it is only what is seen or known
only to the memory clings


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