In March we were contacted by Nadine Hodgson who had seen our blog post on the Russian Outrage. Nadine wrote, "I think that the Black man in the photo may possibly be my grandfather John James Wattley who was born in St Lucia in 1884." Nadine had already explored her family history extensively and as this story unfolded we came to realise that she was able to bring two seemingly unconnected stories together with a common familial thread, that of the Russian Outrage and Leon Riley.
George Chapman was born in the Caribbean around 1852 and grew up on one of the islands which make up the modern day sovereign state of Antigua and Barbuda. During his teenage years, it is likely that George worked in the maritime sphere, probably around the docks, before he was employed on one of the many European ships visiting the Caribbean.
During the early 1870s, George voyaged across the Atlantic and settled in Britain. It is probable that he was employed on a vessel bound for Liverpool and worked as a sailor out of the busy English port for a short period of time.  However, employment opportunities eventually brought him to Scarborough, where he met and married local woman, Emma Kneeshaw in 1874. Two years later, the couple had their first child, George Chapman junior.
[Note: click each picture to enlarge it.]
In 1881 the Chapman family were living at 3 Whites Yard in Scarborough. It is probable that this residence was not far from the docks as George worked as a fisherman to support his family. The following year, Emma gave birth to Mary Annie Chapman in 1882, followed by Florence Emma Chapman in 1887 and Elizabeth Chapman in 1890.
Whether it was due to their expanding family or because, George had changed his career path and was working as a bricklayer's labourer, by 1891 the family had moved to 5 Hudson's Yard, Scarborough.
Sadly, in 1897 the Chapman family where struck with grief when 7-year-old, Elizabeth died. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding her death have yet to be found, however it is probable that she passed away from one of the many nineteenth century diseases or epidemics that made infant and childhood mortality reasonably common. Shortly after the death of Elizabeth, the family moved to Hull. However, another tragedy occurred when George Chapman junior died in 1900 at the age of 24.
The Chapmans had cause for celebration a year later, when their daughter eighteen-year-old, Mary Annie Chapman married West Indian, Charles Augustus Hennessy in September 1901. A few months later the couple who were living in Campbell Street, Hull had their first child George Arnold, born on Christmas day and presumably named after Mary's father. However, this happiness was short lived as sadly baby George died the same day, and Mary Annie died on 2 February 1902, only two months apart. Charles went on to marry Mary Ann Thomas who was from Nottingham. They lived at 8 Strickland Street, Hull and they had four children together: David, Virtue, Joseph and Charles. It is not certain what happened to Mary Ann Thomas, whether she died or the couple just separated, as Charles Married again in December 1918, for the third time. This time to a lady from Grimsby named Eleanor Reeves. They had two children together, Valentine and Jack who were both born in Grimsby. Charles Hennessy died in Grimsby in 1925.
In 1904, George Chapman died of pneumonia at the age of 47, leaving behind Emma his wife and Florence, their only surviving child. Two years later, Emma went on to marry another man of African descent, John Henry Dockry in 1906. The couple remained in Hull and the 1911 census records that they lived in the Sculcoates region. When the First World War broke out Dockry was working as a sailor and thus joined the Merchant Marine. On 15 October 1914, he received a 'Certificate of Registration of American Citizenship' from James Fisher, Vice Deputy consul of the USA in Hull. The record gives greater insight into Dockry's origins and his living situation. It states that he was born on 15 September 1880 in Selma Alabama. He arrived in England in July 1892, at the young age of 12 and was employed in Hull's fishing industry.  It goes on to state that he was living at 8 Brunswick Avenue, Hessle Road, Hull, with Emma and confirms the couple had no children.  Dockry died, during the First World War at sea, near Gambia in 1915. Emma died in Hull in 1933.
The Wattley and Riley family
Florence Chapman was the daughter of George and Emma. She was born on 5 June 1887 in Scarborough and was of Caribbean and British descent.
In the late nineteenth century the Chapman family moved to Hull which is where she met West Indian sailor, John James Wattley. He was born in St Lucia in 1884 and was the son of Mary Elizabeth and George Augustus Wattley. John likely came to Britain in the very early twentieth century and settled in Hull. He was a cook on the steam trawlers that were part of the Beecham and Gamecock fleets. It is possible that John is the man of African descent featured in the 'Russian Outrage' photographs taken in 1904.
Florence married John in 1906 and two months later they welcomed their first child, Mabel Evangeline Wattley, into the world. Between 1908 and 1909, Florence had three children George, Mary Elizabeth and Florence junior. However, they all sadly died in childbirth or before their first birthdays. The couple went on to have four more children, Francis in 1911, Dorothea in 1913, John in 1915 and Hyman in 1917.
During the First World War, John Wattley senior worked as part of the Merchant Marine. In the spring of 1917, he left his family home at 77 Liverpool Street in Hull and boarded the Grimsby registered steam trawler Andromache employed as a ship's cook. Sadly, John never returned from this voyage, as on 12 April 1917 his vessel was sunk by an enemy submarine. It is likely that he did not know that his wife Florence was pregnant and that eight months later he would have a son Hyman. Wattley is remembered on the Tower Hill memorial which commemorates the men of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died at sea. Although, it did not ease the pain of the loss of her husband, it would appear that the 'Fishing Vessels War Risks Compensation Committee' tried to issue a small amount of money to the family. However, by May 1946, Florence had still not collected the compensation. 
Five years after the death of her first husband, Florence married another West Indian, Anthony Riley. He was born in Montserrat in 1898 and probably relocated to Britain in the early twentieth century due to employment opportunities. Together, the couple had a daughter, Joyce in 1924 and two sons, Leon in 1927 and Raymond in 1929.
While the late 1920s were most likely a happy time for Florence, the early 1930s provided grief and sadness. Firstly in 1932, her son John Wattley junior died at the age of 17. If losing one son was not bad enough in March 1934, Hyman Wattley went missing. An article in the Hull Daily Mail seeking information about the teenager reported that the 16-year-old fish worker, left his home on 5 March and had not been seen again. It informed readers that Hyman was wearing a navy-blue coat, dark grey trousers, a brown pullover, grey socks, black shoes, and brown check cap which were found 'on the Humber foreshore' and were handed over to the police. As of yet, no further information has been found about Hyman.  However, the circumstances would indicate that he possibly took his own life.
Throughout the 1930s, Florence and her children remained at 77 Liverpool Street. The 1939 register shows that her son, Francis (Frank) was employed slaughtering cattle, Dorothea as a fish filleter and packer, and Joyce as a tin box machinist packer. It also demonstrates that Raymond was still at school.  Florence's husband Anthony was frequently absent from the residence working as a film extra and can be seen playing the part of a native African in the 1935 film Sanders of the River. He continued to find work as an extra mainly in the many fairs and carnivals that went around the country. He performed in what was known at the time as The African shows. Which were shows made up of people of Afro-Caribbean heritage portraying native Africans. This was quite exciting and novel for the British public at that time. Tony as he was called would often go to the race track and dress up like Ras Prince Monolulu, and stand looking up in the air and when he had enough people gathered around him, wondering what he was looking at he would sell betting tips, and say “I've got a horse“. Towards the mid 1940's the couple separated. Anthony moved to London, where he lived with his daughter Joyce for a short time until his death in 1955. After the death of her father Joyce moved back to live with her mother and her two brothers in Hull. Joyce use to play the piano in pubs just like Winifred Attwell. Joyce passed away in Hull in 2003.
All of Florence's children attended Scarborough Street Infants and Junior School and regularly went to Brighton Street Primitive Methodist Church Sunday school, where every year they would take part in the annual May pageant. They were all chosen to be captains and Queens over the years.
Florence's sons Raymond and Leon also worked on St Andrews fish docks, as packer etc. After the war Raymond joined the RAF and took part in the Berlin Air Lift. Leon served in the army for a few years. They both married Hull ladies, Jean and Brenda, who were in fact sisters. They lived and raised their families in Manchester Street off Hessle Road. Leon was quite famous and a well-liked singer within the club circles in the North of England. Raymond worked for Smith and Nephews of Hull where he was a foreman, he was also a keen cricketer, and a member of the firm's cricket team. Both brothers sadly passed away at the end of 2017 at the great ages of 91 and 89.
In 1948 Florence's daughter, Dorothea decided to move away from Hull. She relocated to New York and married Uncil Duncan Forde, who was born in Panama in 1911 and was of African descent. Uncil came to the United States in 1930 with his father who was a tailor in Panama, and his two brothers. He became a naturalised American citizen and joined the US Army on 19 February 1942 at Camp Upton in New York. His terms of enlistment were for the duration of the War plus at least six months after peace had resumed. He had been stationed in Germany and England. Uncil may even at some point have been posted in Hull with the African American troops, but the couple had never met at this time. They had been pen pals for quite a few years before Dorothea agreed to marry Uncil and become a GI bride and move to New York where they lived together. It was extremely brave for Dorothea to move across the Atlantic away from her family, friends and familiar surroundings of Hull to the Post war, segregated, hostile social climate of America in the late 1940s. Fortunately, they did not experience any of this in Brooklyn New York in the newly built projects where they lived a happy life. They had one daughter, Nadine. Uncil worked as a government postal worker for twenty-two years. When he retired the couple decided to move back across the Atlantic to Britain in 1971. They lived in Hull where Uncil died not long after, in 1979, Dorothea remained in Hull until she decided to eventually move to London to be with her daughter and family until her death in 2006.
Francis had been a Royal Engineer during the war and had been stationed in Italy and North Africa. He continued to work in the food sector after the war. In 1948, he found himself in the middle of an escapade in which a young heifer had broken out of the Ministry of Food slaughterhouse and went on a rampage around the streets of Hull. He eventually caught the animal with a rope on Beverley Road and order was restored. 
In 1984, Francis Wattley died and two years later, 99-year-old Florence passed away in October 1986. Her life was long and fulfilling with great celebrations but also some dreadful lows. In 2003, her daughter Joyce Riley passed away in Hull and Dorothea died on 24 November 2006 in Bromley, Kent when she was 93 years old.
Florence Riley was a truly amazing person. Not only had she survived as a person of African, Caribbean and British heritage in late Victorian England, she had survived the ravages of poverty, epidemics, illness, childbirths and two World Wars. She had out-live her siblings and lived to the incredible age of nearly 100, six months short of getting a telegram from the queen. She had also given birth to eleven children of her own and at the age of 65 she informally adopted a baby girl called Jean, the child of a Jamaican airman and a local lady who she brought up in the family as her own well-loved child.
- The 1881 census states that Chapman was born in Liverpool. Thus it is probable that he had given information about his first place of landing.
- Ancestry.com. U.S., Consular Registration Certificates, 1907-1918 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
- Hull Daily Mail, 30 May 1946, p. 2.
- Commonwealth War Graves, John James Wattley, https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2969809/wattley,-john-james/ accessed 20/04/2018.
- Leon’s record remains sealed.
- Hull Daily Mail, 10 November 1948, p. 1.