Hull, High Treason and Scrooge

I grew up in the city of Hull.  It was a grey sort of world back then in Hull in the 60’s and 70’s. The city was a grimy, working-class place replete with unrepaired war damage. Hull was I think the second most bombed city in England and it still showed. More than that, it was a back water. Cut off seemingly from the rest of the country both geographically and culturally. It is funny how you don’t see certain things until you go back to a place but Hull always seemed to be a good 6-months behind in terms of fashion and music back then. I will be honest. I didn’t like it and I resolved to escape from it as soon as possible. In time, I left and put over 6,000 miles between me and Hull.

These days, I look forward to going back. I have come to realize that Hull and its surroundings are really rather beautiful. In researching our family history, we discovered that our roots actually lie further north. My father’s family hailed from the village of Ebberston between Scarboro and York. The same research suggests that in the 16th Century, our ancestors lived and farmed the Yorkshire Moors not far from the radar installation at Fylingdales. We never could get further back than that, but in the 1590’s two Vasey brothers farmed at Fylingdales.

We did of course find a few interesting tales in our family History. There was one Matthew Vasey, a direct ancestor, who was held at York prison on a charge of High Treason in 1657. Here is the actual account:-

A stranger deposition is that which hints at the presence of Prince Charles in Yorkshire disguised, in 1657. Matthew Vasey meets a Mr. Anderson riding a fine horse, and asks him to give it King Charles, promising that it should be five hundred pounds in his way another day. And the said Vasey did tell this informant (Mr. Anderson) there were three men who came from Bridling ton-ward the other day, over about that place where his the said Vasey, his dwelling is, and one of these men was thought to bee King Charles, “the said men did lye down on a bedd there, and got some potchett eggs, and went before day northward upon horses, each of about ten pound price.”

In fact, there are multiple accounts of Matthew Vasey’s trial and they caused my Father and I quite a lot of laughs as Matthew was found not guilty on account of it being well known that he likes to tell – ‘tall tales’. Plainly, living in the age of Cromwell and talking of meeting Charles II was rather silly to say the least but Matthew was a character apparently.


Piecing together our family history was a shared project for us and one we very much enjoyed. The move to Hull turned out to have taken place in the 1930’s after the birth of my Father and was undoubtedly employment-related.

One of the funniest things though looking back, was the day we first visited the churchyard in Ebberston. Dad and I eagerly clambered over tombstones with notepads in hand while my Mother looked bored and a tad uncomfortable. Suddenly, I heard my Dad say quite loudly something along the lines of ‘Well, bugger me!”. This wasn’t like my father – he rarely swore. I found him looking at a particular tombstone. He looked pale and haggard. One look at that tombstone told me why. Written there was:-

Charles Neville Vasey

b. 15.8.1929

d. 12.1.1972

For my father, this must have been a ‘Scrooge-like’ moment. That was his name and his birth date…. but clearly not the date of his death. It was like seeing a ghost. His own.