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Historical Introduction to THE PEDIGREE

Robin Hood's Bay - "Bay" to those who belong - comes into history late. In 1539, the men of Fylingdales parish were mustered, and among them were several Storms. Jacob Storm listed John, Matthew, Peter, William, Robert and Bartholomew who were tenants of Whitby Abbey when it was dissolved at this period, and "Robin Hoode Baye" was their place of residence, The name of the village recurred in 1542 on the occasion of another muster, and among the 82 billmen and archers of "Robynhoyd Bay" and "Fyllyng Dayll" were William, Robert, Peter and John Storm. Descent from Scandinavians was commonly claimed in Bay, and there is some reason to accept this, because it might apply to much of the North Riding stock. Surnames, however, do not take us very far back, and most of the typical Bay names are to be found in the neighbouring countryside as early as they occur in the village. It may be that enclosure of lands to make larger farms drove increasing numbers to seek a living from the sea.

MAP: Robin Hood's Bay Town

The earliest reference to the name Storm near Fylingdales comes in 1330, when John Storm of Levisharn took a hind calf in Pickering Forest; he failed to appear and was outlawed, and his kinsman William lost bail. There may have been some of the family among the fishermen, not of Bay but of Fyling, for whom Whitby Abbey provided a net in 1394. Subsequently, there are a few early references at Beverley, Hull, Scarborough and York, and the Ripon area, and many at Howden near Hull until the time of the plague in that city, in the sixteen-thirties. It might be presumed, however, from the number of Storm households in Bay before mid-sixteenth century that the family had been growing in the settlement for some time. In the absence of accurate information about origins, members used to refer to the family cheerfully as "one of the lost tribes of Israel".

The best-known early reference to the village is that made by John Leland who visited the coast about 1540. He called it a "fisher townlet" with a "dok". From this time, the Bay people have often been thought of - not very accurately - as fishermen exclusively. Occupations are not often given in the parish register until late in the eighteenth century, but sometimes they can be gleaned from other sources, like wills. Nevertheless, a few mariners and masters are to be found early in the century, and from then on it can safely be said that "fishing village" was an increasingly inadequate description of Bay. Scores of careers can be noted, from apprentice to able seaman to boatswain, and so to mate and master, in the many vessels that belonged to the village households. However, Leland in his day saw twenty boats on the beach, and a document of 1563 concerning Richard Cholmley's application to purchase land and properties in Fylingdales from the Crown reveals that there may have been a sufficient population in the settlement to man this number of craft. There were some fifty households and the boats were more than likely the three-man cobles, the type evolved in working from a beach and thus significant in Bay history.

Many tenancies are listed in 1563, including Matthew Storm's Cow Close one of the largest holdings in the parish, and the largest in the village, judging by his rent. A large "close" like this tends to support the view that reduction of the number of holdings was forcing people to look seaward for livelihood. Peter Storm had another close, and a cottage, and among the occupiers of 28 other cottages were William, Peter, Bartholomew and two Roberts. This was the most numerous family in Bay. Bartholomew may have died about 1590 leaving a widow Jane and children Edward, Robert, Bartholomew, Joseph and Agnes.

It is probably necessary to accept that in the early years while some Bay people farmed, most fished for a living or mixed the two. The death of Robert Storm, fisherman, not at Bay but inland at Fylingthorpe in 1603 suggests this possibility of secondary occupations. His son had a holding at Bonsidedale on the moor near Flask, which makes him rather more a farmer than a fisherman. A little before this, an Anthony Storm also died at Fylingthorpe

Among other "Bay" names there were present in 1563 - and before - some of those with which many links were to be forged by marriage and co-operative employment in fishing and trading vessels over the next three centuries. These included notably, Hewitson, Moorsom and Richardson.

In 1638, the Cholmleys began to dispose of property in Whitby and Fylingdales by means of 1,000-year leases. This may have been to encourage settlement and stimulate the economy; it was certainly an inducement to inhabitants to stay. But there was great social significance in the development because it conferred a great measure of independence on the community, and would seem to explain why so many people appear in the parish register as householders, as though they were freeholders. The inhabitants are subsequently to be found paying a few pence a year for their houses and garths, and a shilling for any dwellings they built on the latter. The "as- good-as-freehold" tenure continued into the twentieth century, and was finally removed by conversions to freehold, long after any payments had ceased. Freedom to build and extend dwellings can be seen as one cause of the romantic appearance of the village, which Professor Pevsner called 'delightful', and it may be coupled in effect with the erosion of the cliffs which has compacted the village at the rate of about 90 feet per century.

Social change also arose for other reasons. One was that the Cholmleys, the lords of the manor, removed from Fylingdales to Whitby, and sold their house and demesne lands in the parish to their relatives, the Hothams. Sir John Hotham and his son were both executed after the Civil War engagement at Hull, and around 1660 only Lady Margaret Hotham remained at the hall. From this time, the Bay community was increasingly egalitarian in nature - and the more so because it derived its livelihood substantially from the sea rather than from having to labour in an influential landowner's fields. This character persisted, and those who can remember the village before WW II will recall how it was normal and common to meet about the place people of vastly differing economic fortunes but of the same blood.

PHOTO: A Bit Of News

This circumstance introduces one of the most striking aspects of this family history, which is the retention in Robin Hood's Bay of representatives of most of the branches, with the effect that at the time of the census in 1841, for example, there were some ninety members present, if those away at sea are included. With the other must numerous families of Bedlington, Granger, Harrison and Moorsom, they accounted for nearly half of the population. There was a strong awareness of indentity among these people, if the handing down of baptismal names and the use in baptism of one another's surnames be taken as evidence. The combined effect of these two factors - the large size of the family and the common family names - is to create a tangle of ancestors, a situation many family researchers would envy, up to the point where the numerous Annes, Elizabeths, Jacobs, Janes, Isaacs, Matthews, and the rest, have to be sorted out. As Jacob Storm of the memoirs remarked, nearly a century ago, "The Storm's pedigree has been the toughest hunt I ever had, and had it not been for the traditional information for which I am beholden to my Mother and Grandmother, I should have been out of the hunt long since .... and you must take the book [i.e. his record of the family, the first such effort] as we took the old wooden sailing vessels, viz, with all faults". Despite much work on the records since his time, notably by his grandson Raymond, the researcher can still sympathise with his exasperation. A major difficulty at the outset is that the parish register begins late, in 1653. There is a transcript for only half of the years between 1600 and 1640, and the decade 1691. 1700 is incomplete. However, although many of the people in the scattered entries cannot be built into a continuous history, intermarriage must secure them as ancestors, sometimes in a female line but direct rather than collateral, for most of the family living at the present time, despite the continuing lack of some detail.

Vital events concerning several of the family are recorded in, or to be inferred from, documents other than the parish register, of the early seventeenth century, and these might be starting points for descents if more evidence is discovered. Robert Storm, possibly one of the children of Bartholomew who has been mentioned, married Ellena Poskett in 1606. "Poskett" was a prominent farming name in Fylingdales neighbourhood. Its most famous holder was Father Nicholas Postgate of Egton, who was executed at York in 1679. Robert and Ellena had a son. Edward, whose wife Agneta bore a daughter Hellen (or "Hellinor") who married Richard of the important Hewitson family, but there is no record of children. Joseph (probably another of Bartholornew's sons) lost his wife in 1633, a few months after the death of their son, Thomas. The children of Robert, the Fylingthorpe fisherman who died in 1603, leave little trace: Henry disappears after his holding at Bonsidedale is listed in 1638, and William died in 1634; their sister Elizabeth's marriage to William Huntrods is worth noting, because her husband's family was one of the best known in the parish - and so well represented by Williams that it defies sorting out for much of the time. Sometimes one might be guided by the recurrence of Christian names. There were in the seventeenth century several Thomas Storms, and these may descend from one whose daughter Elizabeth was born in 1617. Again, searching the registers of neighbouring parishes produces yet another Robert who married Isabel Chapman at Egton in 1632/3, but he cannot be safely connected to the other bearers of the name, and experience of the problem of identity in these years gives early warning that it would be unwise to link him too confidently with the Robert, mariner of Whitby, who was buried in 1638 at Bishopswearmourth.

There is difficulty with one marriage of the eighteenth century, concerning a William who married Anna Nightingale in 1714. He was probably born in the incomplete decade, 1691-1700, and although one or two guesses might be made about his parentage, there are no children who can safely be assigned to the couple. He has therefore been omitted from the Pedigree, but he has not been forgotten. The same century produces a few interesting "strays": for example, it would be good to know more about the Thomas Storm of Bay who, at the age of thirty in 1755, was a shipmate of James Cook in the Whitby vessel Friendship

On such fragments much might be built if new evidence appears. Meanwhile it is proposed to start here with rather more substantial evidence, the first item of which concerns the household of Joshua. The record for his children begins in 1617, after a gap in the transcript of the parish register of nine years (which means that he may have been married for some time before that). The transcript of the register begins in 1600 and shows no marriage; therefore Joshua who starts the "family tree" of "No Male Issue" may have been born before 1580 and thus have been the son of one of the men of 1563, and perhaps grandson of Bartholomew of 1539. The fifteenth century, however, remains below the horizon.

Descent from many of the daughters' marriages has been pursued; those with Bedlington, Granger, Harrison, Helm, Hewitson, Moorsom, Peacock, Pinkney, Richardson, Rickinson, Robson, Skerry, Tindale, Todd, Trueman and - naturally - Storm, are of particular note since they created over a long period of time a highly integrated group at the heart of society and economy. An effort has been made to find a place for the names mentioned: no picture of Bay would be complete without them. Most of them occur among the owners and masters listed with the vessels in the Appendix. Not all the inter-relationships can possibly be given, but the repetition of names in the Pedigree will make the point about complexity. The intention in respect of the formidable-looking detail in text and footnotes which this sort of research can produce has been to give enough information to help descendants of the group - probably hundreds of them - to see where they fit in, and to take the matter further if they wish, but greater importance has been attached to presenting concisely and readably an impression of the triumphs and tragedies of a doggedly persistent community of ordinary people.

One of the most engaging and important aspects of the history of Robin Hood's Bay is the inhabitants' talent for survival as their own masters. Having little land, they turned to the sea, and by the middle of the nineteenth century about a thousand people living there, in what more than one writer recognised as great prosperity. There still survive some of those who remember the retired shipmasters of Bay who liked to recall how "this was once the richest place m the coast for its size" before the steamers drew people away to Tyne, Wear and Tees. The spirit of independence is well represented by the words of Henry Matthew Storm, a member of the Massachusets Senate, known in Boston as the honest selectman, who has not been found a proper place in the ensuing pages, but who undoubtedly belongs there, somewhere. His son Henry Hallgate Storm of Cambridge, Massachusets knew that his father's people hailed from Bay - but had moved away, and told how he liked to say that one day he would go back to "a village in Yorkshire - not Robin Hood's Bay - and stand covered in the street while the locals doffed their caps to the lord of the manor, and declare, "I am a citizen of the United States of America". Anyone who wishes to further the research work might consider the placing of Henry Matthew (1853-1917), son of Thomas and Mary Storm, a worthwhile undertaking. See NOTE (1).

But independence is not the whole story. The customary business arrangement in the fishing a co-operative one: the master - the person described in this work as "Master Fisherman" - provided the boat, and his crew were responsible for the gear. When profits were divided, everyone got a share but the master took an extra "one for the boat". Thus co-operation was familiar, and it is to be seen in the shipowning days when kinsmen and friends put their money together, and a leading master mariner among them would head the company. Young men served apprenticeships with relatives, experienced men made their way to become boatswains and mates of vessels owned by familiar groups, and then worked to secure masters' berths which would allow them to earn the means of continuing the cycle of co-operative involvement. Thus the community kept itself going, in a way quite different from that in, say, a manufacturing town.

One cost of the chosen way of life was danger. Any reader of the pages that follow is likely to be impressed by the frequent reference to loss of life at sea. Jacob Storm of Leeside, left a note that helps to put the matter in perspective. Without quoting his source, he stated that from the beginning of 1873 to mid-May 1880, 1,965 British ships were lost, of which 1,171 were sailing vessels, and 10,827 lives went with them. Freak weather in the first six-and-a-half months of 1881 accounted for 919 wrecks on the British coast; in the previous year there had been 700. The Bay experience was thus not unusual: the training and the subsequent life were rigorous and hazardous, and difficult for both men and dependants. Storm Jameson in Journey from the North wondered about its effect in his youth on her seemingly unfeeling and unapproachable father - a shipmaster who had served his time in sail - when she unexpectedly received from him in his last years a post-card view of the moors, on the back of which he had written, "A place of dreams". Perhaps a good word to apply to these people is that chosen by Jacob to describe John Harrison, the shipmaster uncle whom he admired and whom he placed among "the most persevering men of his time".

A necessary note is that since dates of birth are not available from the register until late in the eighteenth century, those of baptism have generally been used, but the two are seldom more than five months apart. The local taste for whimsey used to have it that children were not presented for baptism until their parents need not carry them up the long hill to the church, which leaves the village with a one-in-three gradient. A more realistic, but unhappily more prosaic, controlling factor was that in the sailing-ship days, men came ashore at the beginning of winter, and many births occurred in the following autumn, to be followed by baptisms before sailing was resumed at the approach of the next spring. Insurers could obviously influence the length of the working season: 1st March was a popular starting date, and many family occasions had to be celebrated by then.

Mention must be made of a few Storm households at Lythe, a little north of Whitby, in the later seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. There is no reason to suppose these did not spring from the Bay stock, and that impression is strengthened by the popularity of similar names, notably Matthew and William, and involvement with the sea. It may be that these people were drawn there by employment in shipping serving the alum industry, of which there were branches at Peak and Brow near Bay. Many Bay sailors and vessels brought materials there and took away the finished product, but the most successful operations in this North Riding industry were those carried out at Sandsend, only a mile from Lythe.

Most of the historic trends that have been detected in the village and its neighbourhood will be discernible in the Pedigree. Although the lines with "no male issue" - mostly short - no longer have Storm male representatives. there are those with a descent that survives to enter the twentieth century with male representatives. Even in the short descents, there is evidence of much that will be seen in subsequent chapters to be characteristic of the community. The main lines - that is to say those which have been, and still are, best represented - consist almost entirely of-
(a) the descent of William Storm and his wife, Elizabeth Reachey, and their eldest son, William,
(b) the exploration of the branches that follow from William and Elizabeth's son Jacob, and
(c) another branch, John Storm m Jane Moorsom, in which the name has only recently died out, that exemplifies the familiar long-term developments and serves to emphasise the great continuity.

Besides offering evidence of the pattern of trends the Pedigree adds to the accumulation of personal experiences from which it is hoped there will emerge not only a picture of a way of life that has all but vanished, but also reflections of wider themes, one of these being, for example, the North East's three centuries of obsession with merchant shipping. It would be unnatural if complete uniformity prevailed, and the Edward Storm lines deals with another, separate branch which contains the example of a rare, deliberate association with the Royal Navy, serving to emphasise by contrast the great concentration in trading vessels in previous chapters.

The reader of the notes that accompany the descents may well consider it a matter of regret that only one of the long procession of mariners of Robin Hood's Bay thought fit to leave a record like that of Jacob of Leeside.

NOTE :. Henry Hallgate Storm's daughter, Mrs Carey Bok devoted much interest to the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia [1924], endowed and presided over by Mrs Marie Louise Bok [nee Cords], wife of the publisher and music Patron Edward William Bok. [See Bok in The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians. 1980]