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George James Jay (1834 - 1880)

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George James Jay
Born in Wells next the Sea, Norfolk, England, United Kingdommap
Son of and [mother unknown]
Brother of
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, England, UKmap
Profile last modified | Created 7 Aug 2017
This page has been accessed 120 times.



George was born about 1834. He was the son of George Jay. He passed away in 1880.

George met a tragic end to his life which was reported in many newspapers across England and Scotland. The following account is based on a newspaper article written in the Norfolk News[1] on the 6th November 1880.

The Wells lifeboat Disaster

The RNLI memorial Statue at Dorset on which George is remembered. Photo Dave Sanford

On the 28th & 29th October 1880 there was a furious gale that struck the east coast of England. Every fishing village was on the look out for ships in distress. At Wells-Next-The Sea the fishermen & beach men assisted 2 stricken vessels using life-lines to drag the crew ashore. The Wells lifeboat, the 'Eliza Adams', was called out to assist a vessel, the 'Sharon Rose' that had been driven by the waves onto the sand banks just of Holkham.

Ordinance Survey map of Wells-Next-the-Sea 1946 showing the channel.

At 12 O’clock the Eliza Adams was towed out of Wells harbour and down the channel between the mud flats and salt marshes that lead to the sea by the steam tug 'Promise'. The men then rowed to the stricken vessel and rescued seven men from drowning. The Eliza Adams then rowed back to the entrance of the channel and was then towed back into the harbour by the Promise.

As soon as the lifeboat got back to shore and unloaded it's crew and rescued mariners another vessel was see in distress about 3 miles up the coast. The crew immediately wanted to go to their assistance, but due to fatigue 4 or 5 of them swapped places with fresh volunteers. It is unclear if George was involved with the first rescue but he was part of the crew for the second rescue attempt.

The Eliza Adams was again towed out to sea by the Promise at around 3 O’clock. About a quarter of a mile away from the vessel in distress the tow rope was released and the Lifeboat then dropped it's anchor. It then let out the anchor rope so that it approached the stricken vessel in reverse and in a controlled manner. Whilst this was happening the stricken vessel, now known to be the 'Ocean Queen', was pushed onto the beach by the waves.

The lifeboat could not offer any more assistance as the water was too shallow and the Ocean Queen was considered not to be in any more danger as it was beached. So the crew pulled the lifeboat back out to sea using the anchor, they then hauled the anchor into the boat and set the sails to sail back to Wells.

Cromer lifeboat circa 1884 - similar to the Eliza Adams

A short time after this a large wave hit the side of the lifeboat and overturned it. The Eliza Adams was a self righting boat but as she had her main sail set the boat did not immediately right itself due to the pressure of the water on her sail. The boat remained upturned for about 15 minutes until her mast broke on the seabed after being pushed ashore by the waves.

All but one of the crew was in the water; some had already started to swim for shore. Those clinging to the lifeboat tried to climb aboard but were weighed down by their saturated clothing and boots. The man on the boat was tangled in the rigging and after managing to free himself he tried to pull one man aboard but he had sustained an injury to his back during the capsize and could not manage to pull the man aboard.

The bystanders on the beach pulled one man from the sea after he floating ashore clinging to the rudder. The man in the boat managed to walk ashore at low tide.

When the storm passed the crew of the Ocean Queen were able to walk to shore safely.

Eleven of the crew were drowned leaving 10 widows and 28 children. 8 of the children were George's.

George's body was washed ashore the following morning.

The village started a fund for the widows and the RNLI gave £1000 for the fund and to pay for the funerals. A few years later, 1906, a memorial was erected near the lifeboat station.

The memorial at Wells to those who lost their lives. Photo by Paul Shreeve

Ten years later his widow, Fanny, later took her own life and the circumstances were reported in a few newspapers from Norfolk. Below is the story created from the news article in the Norfolk News [2]dated 22nd March 1890.

Tragedy hits the family for the second time

George's widow was left to bring up 8 children. In the 1881 Census she can be found in the Norfolk County Lunatic Asylum (See Fanny's profile for details).

On the 18th March 1890 she was found dead by her daughter, Christina. At the inquest that followed it was obvious that Fanny's mental health had suffered, although it is not clear when her troubles began. She had been in the lunatic asylum 3 years prior to her death but was released.

On the morning of the 18th Fanny was helped by her daughter Christina to wash up the breakfast dishes. Christina then went out for 10 minutes to go to the washroom. When she returned to the house she found her mother lying at the foot of the stairs apparently dead.

Several neighbours were called who noticed a great deal of blood. The doctor was called. When the body was moved a razor was seen lying on the ground and two large cuts to her throat were seen.

The coroner returned a verdict of death by suicide by cutting her throat whilst in a state of unsound mind.

Factual Records


Not yet found


Name: George James Jay [3]
Date: 02 Jul 1834
Father: George Jay
Mother: Mary
Location: Wells Next The Sea, Norfolk, England, UK


Name: George James Jay [4]
Date: Oct-Nov-Dec 1864
Wife: Fanny Bacon
Location: Walsingham, Norfolk, England, UK


Name: George Jay [5]
Date: Oct-Nov-Dec 1880
Age: 46 (Est. Birth Year 1834)
Location: Walsingham, Norfolk, England, UK


Name: George Jay [6]
Date: 03 Nov 1880
Location: Wells, Norfolk, England, UK
NB Image available on FindMyPast[7] with possible location of grave... Row 6, G27, Feet 6

UK Cenus Info

Name: George Jay [8]
Age: 7 (Est. Birth year 1834)
Birthplace: Norfolk, England, UK
Father: George Jay (25)
Mother: Mary Jay (35)
Siblings: Susan Jay (8), William Jay (5), Randle Jay (4), Mary Jay (0)
Address: Sun Yard, Wells Next The Sea, Norfolk, England, UK
Not yet found
Name: George Jay [9]
Age: 27 (Est. Birth year 1834)
Birthplace: Wells Next The Sea, Norfolk, England, UK
Occupation: Mate
Location: Yorkshire (West Riding), England
NB Census Image [10]shows George on the Vessel called 'Mary' with John Fox (40)-Master & William Hall (16)-Boy
Name: George J Jay [11]
Age: 36 (Est. Birth year 1835)
Birthplace: Wells Next The Sea, Norfolk, England, UK
Occupation: Mariner
Wife: Fanny Jay (38)
Children: William B Jay (3), Christiana Jay(1), George J Jay (0)
Mother: Mary Jay (71)
Brother: Randall Jay (33)
Address: East End, Wells Next The Sea, Norfolk, England, UK


Further Research

Find George in 1851 Census. NB it is possible that he is at Sea.


  1. Available from FindMyPast - pay per view (
  2. Available from FindMyPast - pay per view (
  4. "England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005," database, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2014), George James Jay, 1864; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing 1864, quarter 4, vol. 4B, p. 873, Walsingham, Norfolk, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.
  5. "England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007," database, FamilySearch ( : 31 December 2014), George Jay, 1880; from "England & Wales Deaths, 1837-2006," database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing Death, Walsingham, Norfolk, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.
  6. "England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991," database, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2014), George Jay, burial 03 Nov 1880; citing Wells, Norfolk, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 2,149,813.
  7. [1]
  8. "England and Wales Census, 1841," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 4 August 2016), George Jay in household of George Jay, Wells Next The Sea, Norfolk, England; from "1841 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.
  9. "England and Wales Census, 1861," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 28 September 2016), George Jay, , Yorkshire (West Riding), England; from "1861 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO RG 9, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.
  10. Available from FindMyPast - pay per view (
  11. "England and Wales Census, 1871", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 23 June 2017), George J Jay, 1871.

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George is 41 degrees from Rosa Parks, 28 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 28 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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