Tuts' 17th Century Cottage -
How it got its name.
here to see a photograph of 'Awd Tut'
at the turn of the 19th century.
This grade-2 listed cottage, constructed in 1640, is stone-built
like those adjoining it. Sadly, due to the state of disrepair in
the 20th century, it was partly re-built. The internal walls however,
are still the original stone, laid there over 360 years ago by craftsmen
of the day. These tiny cottages, stacked together like a pack of
cards are tucked away among the narrow yards and 'Ghauts' in the
oldest part of Whitby. They have a long and historic past. Most
of the buildings in the area are Grade 2 and Grade 3 listed, some
even dating back to the 16th Century, as does the property adjoining
us and fronting Church Street.
If walls could talk, they would have plenty to say about the days
of smugglers and the press gangs, rife in this area at the time.
Many of these buildings, 'Awd Tuts' being one of them, are known
to have 'hidden rooms' where contraband was once stored. Looking
out of the window from the top floor bedroom, it is very easy to
understand how illicit gains were passed from window to window to
avoid the Bailiffs, Police and Tax Inspectors below. Smuggled goods
could travel from one end of Church Street to another, without ever
touching the ground!
In tracing the history of 'Awd Tuts', Whitby Archives were used
in an effort to track down census documents for the property. With
help from an assistant at the Archives, a small part of the history
of the cottage was eventually pieced together. These records showed
that a well-known and respected family by the name of Dryden lived
in the cottage from early in the 20th century until the start of
the 2nd World War. The head of the family was called Thomas Dryden.Some
weeks later, following the initial archive search, a phone call
was received from the great grandson of Thomas Dryden.
One of his relatives who had been visiting Whitby stumbled across
our cottage brochure and had posted it to him. He contacted us and
fortunately, he was able to fill in some of our missing details
and provided information about his great grandfather's life, and
that of his family.'Awd Tut', derives from old Yorkshire slang,
and means 'Old Tom'. This was the nickname given to Thomas Dryden,
born in Whitby in 1866. He was a fisherman and a member of the lifeboat
crew in his younger days. Around 1884 Tom married Mary Ann Miller
Sayer. She had 9 children within the space of 16 years. Five of
these children died within the first few months of their lives,
a fact of life not uncommon in those days. Their eldest daughter,
Fanny, born in 1886 was a singer and by the age of 16, was touring
the theatres and bringing home a wage.
For a short time, the Dryden family moved to Hartlepool, so that
'Awd Tut' could work as a fisherman
aboard the Hartlepool steam trawlers. It was here, that his youngest
child John Robert, then aged 5, became infamous, earning his nickname
'Stowaway'. The story of John Robert's adventure provided the inspiration
for a song and a children's book in later years written by Theresa
Tomlinson. At the time it was thought the missing youngster had
been lost and drowned in the harbour In fact, he had hidden on board
his father's boat, and was not discovered before the boat left for
the open sea. This is recounted in more detail in 'The Story of
a Stowaway' below. After the stowaway incident 'Awd Tut' decided
to move his family back to Whitby, occupying a house in Henrietta
Street. Tragically in 1906, Fanny became ill and died. Mary Anne,
heartbroken by the loss of her talented daughter at only 20 years
of age, also died within the year. Following the deaths of both
his wife and his daughter 'Awd Tut' bought this very cottage in
1908. Because 'Awd Tut' spent many weeks at sea his younger daughter
Jane Elizabeth (known as 'Jinnie') who was then aged 11, was given
the task of caring for the remaining family members. These were
John Thomas ('Young Tut'), 'Stowaway' and William. It was not unusual
in those days for older children to be left in charge of younger
members of the family whilst their parents worked.Jinnie's younger
brothers came to regard her as a mother figure, as well as a sister.
When they grew older and left home, they would often call in for
a chat, advice, or just to enjoy a pot of the stew that was always
on hand for the local fisher-folk. Jinnie remained in this cottage,
and eventually married a local fisherman by the name of Robert Harland.
They had five children of their own, who all lived very happily
in the cottage until around 1940. Jinnie also cared for an elderly
blind man who lived alone nearby. Her kindness was repaid when she
was bequeathed his house following his death. Jinnie then moved
her family to the larger house. Afterwards, this cottage stood empty
for some 30 years, until 1970, when Robert Harland Junior had it
re-built, to save it from being demolished, living here himself
until the mid 1980's.He named the cottage 'Awd Tuts' - in memory
of his great grandfather Thomas Dryden.
'Awd Tut' died in 1934, aged 68. He was a highly respected member
of Whitby and the local fishing community. At his funeral, his coffin
was carried by the Coxswain and crew of the Whitby Lifeboat. Despite
extremely bad weather on the day, the cemetery was full of local
townspeople who had come to pay their final respects.'Awd Tut' was
not the only heroic member of the family and as they grew older
his three sons also became valued members of the Whitby Lifeboat
team. 'Awd Tut', together with his sons 'Stowaway', William and
'Young Tut' have been credited with saving over 100 lives between
them.A truly remarkable family, these were ordinary people, living
in poor conditions, but who had 'Hearts of Oak', 'Nerves of Steel'
and a courage and knowledge of the sea second to none.
above information has been compiled from the Dryden family history,
census forms, newspaper accounts, birth and death certificates, stories
from family members and pictures and documentation of the time.'Awd
Tut', 'Jinnie' and 'Stowaway' are depicted in one of 'Frank Meadow
Sutcliffe's sepia images. ( Sutcliffe was one of photography's most
important and talented pioneers of the Victorian era) Pick here for
a view of this image.
Story of John Robert Dryden ('Stowaway')
Dryden (Awd Tuts son) hated going to school, even though it was
situated near to the cottage. It is now the site of the Whitby Rowing
Club a few metres away from this cottage. He often played truant,
preferring to go fishing with his older brothers. At the tender
age of 5, after spending short spells with his father aboard the
trawler docked in Hartlepool, young John Robert Dryden was desperate
to join his father and go to sea.Not wanting to be left behind while
his father went away on yet another fishing trip, John Robert crept
aboard his father's trawler to hide. Among the hustle and bustle
of preparing the boat for sea, the activities of the child went
unnoticed. Finding himself a hiding place behind the coal-box down
in the hold, John Robert stayed quiet, becoming colder and hungrier
as the boat made its way out of the harbour towards Dogger.
He was found two days later by an astonished crewmember. Faint from
his predicament, frightened and tearful at being caught, the boy,
well known to all the crew on board, was relieved when his father
was summoned. After being comforted and warmed by some food, when
asked what he was doing on his father's boat, the boy replied "I
wanted to go in Daddy's ship, and not to school". By this time,
the boat had reached the Dogger where trawling was to commence.
At this point it was impractical to turn back with an empty hold.
Tom knew that his wife would be frantic, but in those days there
were no radios aboard ship to notify the authorities. It was decided
to carry on with the fishing trip.
The barefooted boy was not adequately dressed for the cold weather,
prompting the skipper and crew to make up some clothes for him,
fashioned from cut-down items of their own. Realising the distress
his absence would be causing back home, attempts were made to get
a message back to shore. Eventually, through signals passed to other
boats returning home, the police were finally notified, much to
the relief of his distraught mother.
A search had indeed been initiated, the harbour had been dragged
and nearby gypsy camps searched. All had assumed that the youngster
had been lost in the harbour. There was much elation when mother
and child were eventually reunited.Shortly afterward, 'Awd Tut'
decided to take his family home to Whitby, where the young John
Robert had by then, earned the nickname 'Stowaway' from the local
fishermen and townsfolk.
Later, these events were relayed in the book 'Freeman of the Sea'.
A children's book 'The Little Stowaway' was also published by Theresa
Tomlinson about his adventure. A photograph of the Dryden family,
showing 'Stowaway' as a baby, is featured in the back of this book.'Stowaway'
died in 1960, aged 59 years. During his lifetime, he helped to save
50 lives, one for almost every year of his life. He received his
first R.H.S bronze medal when he was aged just 11, for saving the
life of another child. He was the holder of numerous medals, certificates
and awards from the Royal Humane Society, the Carnegie Trust, and