Robert Aubrey Spink

Ancestor Profile – Robert Aubrey Spink (1883-1923) – part 2

Last week I told you about the accident that killed Robert Aubrey Spink.  This is the second newspaper article about the accident and covers the Coroners Inquest held on 20th April 1923.

“HEAD-ON” COLLISION OF MOTOR-CYCLISTS

WAS THE MISHAP CAUSED BY CHANGING GEAR?

A second death has occurred as the result of the collision between two motor-cyclists on Wednesday evening on the Leeds and Harrogate road between Moortown and Alwoodley.

It is believed that the two motor-cyclists collided “head-on”.  The medical evidence at the inquest, which was opened today, suggests that their heads crashed together with such force as to cause the injuries from which they died.

The dead men were.

Robert Aubrey Spink (40) 22, Ash Road, Headingley, postal telegraph clerk, a well known member of the Moortown Golf Club.

Harry Greenwood (19), 16 Union Terrace, Chapel Allerton, market gardener.

The girl who was riding on the carrier of the latter’s machine, Miss Peggy Stannard, a tailoress, of 26 Harehills Road, Leeds,, is progressing favourably in Leeds Infirmary.

The inquest was opened by the Leeds City Coroner today, and was adjourned for a week.

Evidence of identification was given by Miss Mary Jane Spink (sister) and by Clifford Greenwood (brother).

Miss Spink said her brother was “one of the most careful riders on road.” and never lost his head.  He went out to play golf about 5 o’clock, and when he did not come back at 7.30, as expected, she thought something had happened, for his movements were as regular as clockwork.  Her brother was a temperate man, and his hearing and eyesight were good.

Mr Greenwood said his brother had ridden for 18 months or two years, and was a cool, collected driver.  He was accustomed to carrying a person on the pillion, and knew the difference in dealing with a machine in those circumstances.  Witnesses added that his brother was a sober and healthy man, and had had no previous accident, except that he had once run over a dog.

A WITNESS’S THEORY

Leonard Bexon, of 128 Street Lane, Leeds, paper merchant’s assistant, said he had ridden Greenwood’s machine during the last month, and it was in perfect order and was easy to drive.

“It is quite likely that he would be changing gears at the time of the accident,” added the witness.

The Coroner: That may be the whole cause of the accident.

Witness said it would necessary to take one hand off the handlebar to change gear, but the change was easy.  On the other hand Spink’s golf clubs, which he was carrying on his back, might have swung round and interfered with his steering.

Dr Birtwistle said that both men had fractured skulls and severe injuries to the brain.  It appeared as if the men’s heads had crashed against each other.  An operation was performed on Greenwood.

So as far as I can tell no actual blame was attached to either Robert Aubrey Spink or to Harry Greenwood.  I wasn’t able to find a newspaper report giving the Coroner’s final verdict but I am pretty sure that it would be accidental death.

Ancestor Profile – Robert Aubrey Spink (1883-1923) – part 1

Robert Aubrey Spink is my 1st cousin 3x removed.  I mentioned him briefly in a Tombstone Tuesday post.  He was born about 1883 and died on 18th April 1923.  His gravestone says that he was “accidentally killed”.  So I just had to find out about the accident, what happened to Robert and the cause of his death.

I knew from the 1911 census that he was living in Leeds at the time.  I guessed that the local newspapers would have covered the story.  There is a really good family and local history department at Leeds Central Library so that was my starting point.  The newspaper archives for the period are on microfilm and it didn’t take long to find two stories about the fatal accident in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Here is the first article from the Yorkshire Evening Post on 19th April 1923.

LEEDS MOTOR-CYCLISTS COLLIDE HEAD-ON

HEADINGLEY MAN KILLED

YOUTH AND GIRL HURT IN CRASH AT DUSK

A fatal collision between two motor-cyclists took place on the Harrogate Road between Moortown and Alwoodley last night.

It appears that Mr Robert Aubrey Spink (40), of 22 Ash Road, Headingley, was cycling towards Leeds when he collided “head-on” with Mr Harry Greenwood (19) of 15 Union Terrace, Chapel Allerton, who was travelling in the opposite direction with Miss Peggy Stannard (18), a tailoress, of 26 Harehills Road, Leeds, as a passenger on the carrier.

All three were thrown violently into the road, and it was realised at once that the two riders were seriously injured.  All were quickly taken to the Leeds General Infirmary, where Mr Spink, who had received severe injuries, died soon after admission.

Mr Greenwood is suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull, and his condition is serious.

He was still conscious this morning, but is stated to be going on as well as can be expected.

How the two riders happened to collide is not yet explained.

MISS STANNARD’S STORY

Miss Stannard is suffering with shock and bruises.

Seen by a representative of “The Yorkshire Evening Post” today, Miss Stannard, who looked well in spite of the shaking she received when the impact occurred, was unable to say how the accident happened.

“I was on the carrier,” she said, “and we were going towards Harewood on our proper side of the road, and not, so far as I know, at an excessive speed.”

“I did not see the other cyclist, and I do not know what happened except that I was thrown violently from my seat on the carrier, and found myself here.”

“It was daylight when the collision occurred, but I do not know exactly what time it was, though it was near lighting up time.”

Miss Stannard is likely to be about again in a day or two.

NO EYE-WITNESSES

Mr Greenwood is a member of a family which is well known in the Chapel Allerton neighbourhood.  He is a son of Mr James Greenwood, an old Leeds professional cricketer, and is following the occupation of market gardener with a view to taking up farming later.

At the time of the accident he was going to a bungalow rented by his father a few miles out in the country.  The young people were visiting the bungalow with some small articles, and were to return later in the evening.

There appear to have been no actual witnesses of the accident.

It seems that Mr Spink had been having a round of golf at Moortown golf links, and was on his way home, carrying his clubs slung across his shoulder.

It is possible that the clubs may have become entangled with his handlebars and caused him to swerve.

Dr Jenkins, with a friend, was also returning from the golf links.  The doctor reached the spot a few minutes after the smash, and attended to the victims of the smash pending the arrival of the ambulance.

Mr Spink was employed at the GPO, Leeds.  He was a man of much promise and of considerable intellectual attainment.

Mr Spink had the reputation of being a very careful driver.

An inquest will be held tomorrow by the Leeds Coroner (Mr W H Clarke), and the funeral will take place on Saturday afternoon.

This was clearly a very tragic accident – but who, if anyone was to blame?

I will post the second newspaper article about the inquest next week.

Tombstone Tuesday – Joseph Spink & others

This gravestone is in St. Mary’s church, Conistone, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales in England.

Buried here is a father, a mother and two of their sons.

Joseph Spink is my 2x great grand uncle.  He was born on 11th March 1838 in Conistone to parents John Spink and Sophia Shuttleworth Kitching (my 3x great grandparents).

At the age of 13 on the 1851 census for Conistone with Kilnsey Joseph is living at home with his parents and three of his siblings – James, Sophia and John.  Their father John is working as a shoemaker as is James (aged 14).

In 1861 we find Joseph still at home with his parents in the village of Burnsall, not far from Conistone.  His siblings John and Sophia are also there together with a niece, Ann Elizabeth Spink (8).  Joseph has followed in his father’s footsteps and is working as a shoemaker and also as a rural messenger.

Sometime in the December quarter of 1861 Joseph married Isabella Hannah Metcalfe.  The marriage is recorded in the Skipton registration district.

I haven’t researched Isabella’s line so I don’t have any earlier information about her apart from her date of birth, 27th December 1839, which I got from the gravestone.  Oh, I also know from census records that she appears to have been born in the village of Arncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales.

The 1871 census has Joseph and Isabella living in Burnsall with three children – Annie Sophia, Mary Jane and John Metcalfe.  Joseph continues to work as a shoemaker.

The family has moved to Conistone by the time of the 1881 census.  As well as working as a shoemaker Joseph is described as a Post Master.  There are four children at home – John Metcalfe, Margaret E, Joseph Ellis and Thomas Frederick.

Moving on ten more years and Joseph appears to have given up making shoes.  His occupation on the 1891 census is Rural Postman.  The family are still in Conistone and there are five children at home – Annie Sophia, Mary Jane, Joseph Ellis, Thomas Frederick and Robert Aubrey.

At the turn of the century Joseph is 63 years old and still working as a rural postman.  The address on the 1901 census is the Post Office, Conistone and Isabella is described as Postmistress.  Their daughter Mary Jane (35) is the only one of the children at home.

The last available census is 1911 and Joseph is now described as a retired postman.  Joseph and Isabella will have been looking forward to their golden wedding anniversary in 1912.  They are living at “Sunnyside”, Consitone.  Also with them is their daughter Mary Jane (46), their son Thomas Frederick (31) working as a butcher, and their daughter Annie Sophia with her husband of three years John Webster Smith who is described as a grocer and beer retailer.

Isabella died on 21st November 1916 at the age of 76 and Joseph survived for almost three more years until his death on 3rd September 1919.

Joseph Ellis Spink was living at home at least until the 1891 census when he was 15 years old and working as a drapers assistant.  Sometime over the next ten years he moved to Barwick in Elmet near Tadcaster, about 45 miles from Conistone.  On the 1901 census he is living with his brother, John Metcalfe Spink and his family.  John’s occupation is a self employed butcher and Joseph Ellis is working as a butchers assistant.

Within two years Joseph Ellis passed away.  I haven’t got his death certificate but I know from the gravestone that he died on 2nd January 1903.

Robert Aubrey Spink first appears on the 1891 census living with his parents.  By 1901 he had also moved to Barwick in Elmet to live with his brother.  His occupation is described as sorting clerk.

In the 1911 census Robert is listed as a visitor at an address on Harehills Lane in Leeds.  He is working as a telegraphist.

The gravestone shows his date of death as 18th April 1923 and that he was accidentally killed.  I visited Leeds Central Library last week and found newspaper articles about Robert’s accident and these will feature in future blog posts.

I also found both Joseph Spink and Robert Aubrey Spink in the British Postal Service Appointment Books recently released on Ancestry.  Joseph is listed as a “runner” in 1856 having been appointed at Kilnsey, near Conistone.  He next appears in December 1880.  Robert Aubrey Spink started as a “learner” in May 1900 working in Leeds.