A Hurricane in England? You’ve got to be joking!

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A Hurricane in England? You’ve got to be joking! Or so we thought when we read about it in a letter in the Browsholme Hall archives. The letter was written by Ellen Parker to her father, Thomas Golbourne Parker, on the 2nd June 1860.

After discussing her friend’s and her own school holidays, Ellen causally mentions that ‘they had a hurricane on Monday’. As sceptical 21st century readers we thought this was probably a schoolgirls over-imagination but as I read on, Ellen tells that it was ‘quite frightful; six fishermen were drowned, four of whom were married and left nineteen children.’

Now I started to take more notice, a tragedy this size doesn’t sound like a schoolgirl’s exaggeration. So what else could a researcher do? Yes, you’ve got it. Good old Google! I found a website that confirmed all the details:*

“The Scarborough Mercury, of 2nd June, 1860 reported a hurricane that hit Filey the previous Monday. It was truly "the worst ever" calamity to have hit the Filey. It came "so suddenly upon the coast that, in ten minutes, the calmness of the Bay and neighbouring waters was changed to a boiling flood"

"A party of young men went to sea in a small boat for an hours pleasure previous to business. The storm overtook them, and though not far from the harbour, they were unable to gain it, and were drifted onto the rocks a mile or two south. (One man saved the day) "casting himself from the boat, he battled with the wind and water, taking with him the rope of the boat, and providentially landed, though with much difficulty. He hauled the boat to shore, and thus saved his companions".

Looking at letters written in the Victorian era never ceases to amaze me, as I learn more and more about the Parker family, but also about events that I would have thought couldn't happen in England. I wonder what I’ll find out next? I can’t wait!


by Linda Sawley

Apr 27, 2023

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