Letter: Searching for information on Wolds Ranger

Does anyone have any information on Thomas Tommy Rooks (1876-1967)?
Does anyone have any information on Thomas Tommy Rooks (1876-1967)?

I wonder if any of your more mature readers or family members still living in the area have any memories of my mother’s great uncle Thomas ‘Tommy’ Rooks (1876-1967).

The Rooks were a large and prolific family hailing from Warter, but living in Pocklington from about the 1840s.

Tommy’s grandad Charles had been a noted and rather cheeky poacher, writing in 1833 to then Home Secretary (later PM) Lord Melbourne begging for clemency.

He became father-in-law to Arthur Tayleure, landlord of the Black Bull and son of the well-known Pock photographer Michael Tayleure. Charles’ son Lyth was a bit of a lad as well, especially after a few drinks, so no surprise that Tommy was in and out of court from the age of 14.

He joined at least three different army regiments, twice giving an alias or incorrect details before being dismissed.

He joined up again in 1914, but was immediately thrown out of the West Yorks for drunken behaviour, he rejoined the Army Service Corps but ended up in the Chinese Labour Corps, deserting or going AWOL at least 10 times up to discharge in 1920.

Afterwards he became a moderately well known Wold Ranger, drifting around finding casual farmwork until at least the 1950s, although allegedly wintering with a lady friend in Scarborough.

Despite a dissolute life, he lived to 91 or 92 and died in a nursing home which was the former Driffield Workhouse where so many Wold Rangers had ended their days.

I do have a lot of information about Tommy from old newspapers, official sources and a photograph (actually a mugshot from one of his spells in prison!) but would welcome any anecdotes to add to the few I have, as my mother wouldn’t discuss him and I never met him!

I hope eventually to write this up with other information about the Wold Rangers to extend the one published account by Angela, Lady Antrim, which mentions Tommy in passing.

Trevor Brigham

Cottingham