With Britain at war with Germany, spy fever was everywhere. The English began to suspect anyone with an unusual name or accent of being a secret German spy. Sometimes suspicions arose for no good reason, although there had been talk nationally of a spy network being set up.
One Market Rasen man, a fish merchant in Oxford Street, who also had a permanent pitch in the Market Place, was forced to write to the Market Rasen Mail, denying that he was German or had any German connections. He also published a notice that he would take legal action against anyone who said otherwise.
Horatio Mainprize was a Yorkshireman, his family going back at least three generations to Filey in East Yorkshire, whilst his wife was from Lincolnshire.
They had a son, Railton, who worked in his father’s fish business. Railton was 26 when war broke out and in 1915, he enlisted in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, later joining the Machine Gun corps. He survived the war and returned to Market Rasen where he died in 1966 aged 78.
Here is the letter Horatio wrote to the Market Rasen Mail:
TO THE EDITOR OF THE
“MARKET RASEN MAIL”
I wish most emphatically to refute the statement that is being spread in this district that I am a German. I was born in Eastington, my father at Welwick, my grandfather and great grandfather at Filey, and my mother at Paull, all in the East Riding of Yorkshire, a county to which I am proud to belong. My wife is a Lincolnshire woman.
This untruthful assertion that I am a German is not only keenly resented by myself and family, but is proving injurious to my business. If, after this disclaimer, any one is found circulating this report, they will be proceeded against.
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