Links between one of Whitby’s most famous streets and a vicious American gangster have been uncovered.
Loughborough resident Ian Argument claims he has traced his family back hundreds of years, when they fled to Whitby to escape religious persecution.
“It makes me feel proud to be associated with Whitby,” said Ian. “Argument’s Yard is part of Whitby culture and it is my second home.”
At one time there were two yards of the same name, from the family name Argument.
While the Church Street yard is one of the most photographed in the town, the other was located near The Cragg and demolished in the late 1950s, at around the same time Ian’s father was born in the town.
However, Ian said he believes Argument is actually an Anglicisation of the Flemish name Argomont.
His ancestors were sixteenth century Protestants called Huguenots. They fled Catholic France to avoid persecution and settled in Whitby.
Hundreds of years later, the Argument family were well-established in the town, with Ian’s grandfather living in Brunswick Street and working at Spanton’s clothes store.
According to Ian, he was a pianist who had his own band on board the RMS Queen Mary.
Family legend says Hilary sailed to America during the 1920s, where he bumped into one of the world’s most dangerous characters.
Ian explained: “There’s a story going around that when he was in Whitby he jumped ship and was an illegal alien in America and he once met Al Capone, the famous gangster.
“He was playing in a club in Chicago, a man entered and said he liked how he played.
“My grandfather refused to play for him so he put a bullet on the counter and said ‘If you don’t play, that’s for you’.”
Eventually Hilary was deported and toured the United Kingdom under the stage name Hilirie Agromont
When back in Whitby, he would play at The Metropole.
Ian said the surname Argument is dying out due to its common meaning and he may be the last of the original Whitby Arguments remaining.
“I have no children so the name won’t continue,” he said.
Argument’s Yard forms a part of the old Medieval settlement of Whitby and could be closed in case of marauders from the sea.
Early deeds in the 1650s refer to Thomas Argment living in the vicinity and the same spelling still occurs in 1830.