Monthly Archives: March 2017

Hierarchy at Sea

Edward Weddall joined the Navy at the age of fifteen pretending that he was sixteen. He gave his date of birth as 1843, when he was really born in 1844. That was not uncommon for youngsters to pretend they were older to join the services. It was harder to prove age as there few passports if any, were issued and authorities rarely questions anyone who looked of age. Edward Weddall was one of those who slipped through the cracks.

Edward’s parents may well have condoned his early joining the navy, he was one of many children and had older brothers to inherit his father’s farm. It was Victorian time and survival of the fittest was the order of the day.

Ranks in the Navy

Commissioned Officers

  • Admiral
  • Captain
  • Lieutenants
  • Warrant Officers


  • Purser
  • Surgeon
  • Boatswain
  • Gunner
  • Carpenter

Inferior and Petty Officers includes:

  • Armorer
  • Cook
  • Gunsmith
  • Sail-maker
  • Schoolmaster
  • Master-at-Arms
  • Midshipman
  • Coxswain
  • Quartermasters
  • Gunners mates

Royal Marines

  • Officers
  • and men
  • ‘The People”
  • Able seamen
  • Ordinary seamen
  • Landowners
  • Servants
  • Dogs



The Russian Revolution leaves Emily Penniless

Emily’s financial trouble may have been building up for some time, even back as far as when she was widowed in 1908. Her husband Captain Weddall, died intestate, however Emily eventually claimed his estate of £276 9s 5d, roughly €18,000 in today’s money. In 1917 it was almost a decade since his death the cash was possibly well spent. One such occasion which easily have put a dent in her finances was the possible purchase of her house Rockfield from the Mission Estate in 1913. By the time revolution broke out in February/March of that year she may have been feeling the pinch. By November, when the second wave of the uprising took place,  her income from her shares in Russian Industry were to be wiped out completely.

Emily possibly kept an eye on the news unfolding in Russia, not necessarily for financial reasons but for her great empathy with the Russian people. Her affinity with the country began years earlier when she visited or perhaps worked there as a nurse. It would have still hit hard the moment that she discovered the gravity of her financial future. Since the death of her husband she had led a pretty independent life, not afforded to many at the time, especially women. She had the financial freedom to do what she pleased and she did. But what she did could not have been considered self indulgent, as she gave her resources freely, including her time.

Emily was as generous with her time as she was with her money. She co-founded the Lower Achill branch of the Gaelic League, Scoil Acla and financed the Hall in Dooagh. She gave her time to the same causes and sat on many committees working tirelessly for all. But now that she had no resources left she would have to go back to work as a nurse. But all was not lost she still managed to help those that needed her assistance. Even in financial trouble herself she still scraped what she could together to help the widows and orphans of 1916.

Her good friend Mary O’Connor recounts the day that Emily asked her to her house. She knew there was something seriously wrong when a gloom looking Emily opened a cupboard, a pile of letters came tumbling out. The documents were notices from the bank, dating back quite a while. All were informing her of her worsening financial state. Emily may have sheepishly admitted to Mary that she had paid no attention to the letters until then.

As the two women went through the documents it was coming more apparent how much debt Emily was actually in. The bottom line was that Emily had no choice but to go back to work immediately and possibly sell her house. She did get work eventually. An unfortunate turn of events in 1918 secured her full employment. But the sale of her house would take nearly a full decade, and a long drawn out legal wrangle.

Liverpool Daily Post 17 March 1917
 Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim, 1995.  

Generosity and History Repeats Itself

In April 1917 there was a gift sale held at the Mansion House in Dublin in aid of the Irish National Aid and Volunteer Dependents. Emily, out of generosity and always ready to make a contribution to a cause close to her heart, donated a motor coat, which fetched £20.

“Relics As Bargains

The desk on which Gerald Griffin wrote “The Collegtans” was bought for 22s 6d and two L’enian pikes got £1. A case of butterflies collected in India by the Late Michael Mallin, one of the executed leaders, together with two books of music containing his autograph, presented by his widow bought £1 10s. Twenty pounds were paid for a motor coat presented by Mrs. Weddall and a motor coated lined musquash, given by Mme O’Reilly, reached £10. forty pounds were given for a pan of 6in antique silver candle sticks, Dublin hallmark 1725. Robert Emmet’s Wallet fetched £10 and the block on which he was beheaded was sold for £5 10s. Ten pounds were paid for a silver dish 1774.”

History Repeats Itself

The mentioned block that Robert Emmet was beheaded on is still doing the rounds to this day. It was on display in the entrance hall in the Pearse Museum, St. Enda’s Park associated with Emmet and for a time at Kilmainham Gaol, where he was held before his execution in 1803, completing the full circle. Read more on Robert Emmet:

The donation of the motor coat by Emily was most generous, as at the time the cold reality of her dire financial state was beginning to dawn on her. She was on the eve of becoming penniless. Up until early 1917 Emily was reliant on her income from her stock and shares and any other investments she had in Russia. In March of 1917 the Revolution began to unfold and any finance from there was under threat. Emily was not the most financially astute person and overlooked the bills and notices from the bank stacking up.



Freeman’s Journal 21 April 1917
Staffordshire Advertiser 31 May 1919
Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim, 1995.  

St Patrick’s Day 1917

St Patrick’s Day 1917 was more of a bleak affair than previous years. The country was still under the dark cloud of the uprising of the previous year. In Achill it was no different but with the added extra of the deportation of Darrell Figgis, a prominent member of the Gaelic League in Achiil and indeed Mayo.

The celebrations went on in spite of all and a Ceili was held in the hall Emily had commissioned a few years earlier in Dooagh on the night of the 17th of March. The event proved lucrative and £5 was raised for the Gaelic League.

Claidheamh Soluis; April 7th 1917. p5

The Sea

The village of Pocklington lies in close proximity to Hull, a major port especially in Victorian times. I was not unusual for local young Yorkshire men to go embark on a life at sea. By no means an easy life and in in some ways harder than the agricultural alternative. In Edward Weddall’s case he grew up in an agricultural setting, however the sea must have called to him. At the age of “sixteen” he left the land behind and headed off to to sail the seven seas.

In 1859 young Edward Weddall may have taken the 90 minute train journey from Pocklington Station to Hull to begin his life at sea.

Pocklington Station. Photo courtesy

Hull’s Maritime History

During the late 12th century when the monks of Meaux needed a port to export wool from their estates they chose a spot at the junction of the rivers Hull and Humber to build a quay and named it Wyke on Hull. In the late 13th century when Edward I looked for a port in the north east of England he acquired Hull which then became known as Kingston (King’s Town) on Hull. The king set about enlarging Hull and built an exchange where merchants could buy and sell goods. Read More:

Special thanks;
Andy Sefton of Pocklington Historical Society