William Sargison killed by lightning

Sometimes, when researching people, a specific record catches your eye. This was certainly the case with William Sargison (1786-1811), whose burial record from the parish of St Mary the Virgin, Cottingham, dated 14 June 1811, indicated that he was the son of Thomas (Sergeason/Sergesson) and gave his cause of death as “killed by lightening”. At the time of the incident Cottingham was located in the East Riding of Yorkshire, near to Hull, and its position has been marked on the following map (see bibliography for map attribution):

Map from Vision of Britain website

William is included in the “Sargison South Cave and beyond tree” which includes people living in Cottingham.

The story of William’s death seems to have been picked up by newspapers outside the local area. For example, a report in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal (24 June 1811, page 4) reported that:

During a thunderstorm at Cottingham, near Hull, on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Sarjeson, his son William, and his nephew, being all engaged in hoeing turnips, the former at the end of the field and the nephew and son at the other, the latter (son) was suddenly struck dead by the lightening, his face on one side was completely scorched, and his hat, clothes and shoes, all rent to pieces.

In other reports William’s age was given as 22 and that he was “a remarkably steady young man” (Stamford Mercury, 21 June 1811, page 3). None of the reports identify his father by his first name although they do report his surname in a number of different ways: Sargerrison and Sarjeson are just two examples.

William was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Cottingham, Yorkshire (see bibliography for photograph attribution):

St Mary the Virgin, Cottingham, Yorkshire

William was the youngest of two sons born to Thomas Sargison (1747-1825) and his wife Jane Milburn (1746-1815). His elder brother Thomas (1773-1839) continued to live in Cottingham with his wife and children. Thomas and William also had seven sisters, some of whom I’ve been able to trace. The following chart shows Thomas, Jane, and the children and grandchildren that I’ve found so far.

Descendant chart for Thomas and Jane


Baptisms, marriages and burials. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed March 2021.

Cottingham. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/ERY/Cottingham : accessed March 2021.

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Cottingham, in East Riding of Yorkshire and East Riding | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time. URL: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/979  Date accessed: 11th March 2021

Newspapers. Collection: British Newspaper Collection. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed March 2021.

St Mary the Virgin, Cottingham. East Riding Archives, CCO, via Wikimedia Commons : accessed March 2021.

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