Thursday, 12 February 2015

A Most Genial Hostess

When tracing your family history, you often find yourself getting attached and favouring a certain ancestor. For me, Margery Isabella Turnbull my 3x Great Grandmother is one of them. 

Margery was born in 1825 in Philadelphia, Murton in the parish of Tynemouth, Northumberland to John Turnbull a collier, and his wife Jane Hunter. She was baptised on 2 October 1825 at Tynemouth.

Margery's baptism at Christchurch, Tynemouth
on 2 October 1825.

Margery went on to marry Edward Barrass on 17 February 1849 at All Saints Church, Newcastle upon Tyne. Edward was born in 1821 to Robert and Elizabeth Barrass at Longbenton, however the Barrass family were natives of Earsdon for generations. By trade Edward was a master tailor, breaking from the Barrass tradition of becoming a butcher.

Edward & Margery's marriage certificate.

Margery and Edward soon moved to Earsdon, then later to New York near Murton, Northumberland where Edward carried out his tailoring business from his home. The home and business was hit hard in 1857, when a fire broke out causing considerable damage. Several suits of clothing were completely destroyed and to make matters worse, both the property and stock were not insured. 

By this time Margery's father-in-law Robert had acquired a property in New Hartley - a leasehold, on the estate of the Right Honourable Baron Hastings. The property became known as Barrass House or Barrass Cottage. Later on, Robert became a publican in New Hartley. It is unknown whether his public house was a different property, or simply a converted Barrass Cottage. Robert died in 1876, and his son Edward took over the pub - the Hartley Arms. 

Edward applied to the courts in August 1884 for a full license to the Hartley Arms, which was refused. Sadly, not even one month later, Edward died. From then on, Margery took over and became the publican of the only public house in New Hartley. One year after Edward had first applied, Margery appeared in the courts to apply for a license to sell ale and spirits. This application was also refused.

The Hartley Arms seems to have been a popular place under Margery. She would often hold quoiting competitions and ball handicaps which many locals turned out for. It was often noted as being piercingly cold, yet a large crowd would gather at the pub. A game of 'paper chase' was also held, with the Hartley Arms being used as the starting line. 

One humorous story is from Christmas at the Hartley Arms in 1887. It appears that Margery was reported for supposedly having certain intoxicating liquors on the premises, which she was not licensed to sell. The investigating inspector went to the Hartley Arms and found a 'grey hen' - an earthenware container, holding about a gallon of whiskey. A label on the bottle was found which said, "With the compliments of the season, to Mrs Barrass from Mr Newton, brewer, Newcastle-on-Tyne." There was not sufficient evidence for Margery's conviction, and the case was withdrawn! 

Margery often hosted suppers in the Hartley Arms, namely for the Hartley Football Club. The greatest credit and thanks was given to Margery - a most genial hostess, for her fantastic culinary skills and the kind way in which she catered for her company. She'd respond with some kind words, and only hoped that every individual had enjoyed himself. 

Throughout all of this, Margery carried on applying for an on-license for the Hartley Arms. In August 1891, a ballot was held for the residents of New Hartley to vote on the license of the pub. 168/252 voted in favour of a full license, however the Temperance parties believed that they had been disenfranchised, and asked for a second ballot to allow them to fully exercise their vote. The second ballot was taken, and this time 174/252 voted for a full-license. 

In the past there had been numerous objections from the owner, Lord Hastings, but this time there appeared to be a necessity for a full-licensed public house in the mining village. The nearest licensed pubs in the area were over a mile away. This time there was no opposition, and even Lord Hastings' agent had given permission. Margery's good character was brought up in court, stating she had kept the house for a great number of years without problems. Thus, the court allowed the Hartley Arms to have an on-license.

Seaton Delaval Hall - the Northumbrian residence
of Baron Hastings.

However this was still not got enough for Margery, and in the next few years she carried on fighting for a full-license. Augustus Whitehorn, a solicitor who lived in Whitley Bay always represented Margery in the courts, but still a full-license was refused. 

Finally in September 1896, a full-license was granted to Margery Barrass and the Hartley Arms. In the past she was opposed by the Seaton Delaval Coal Company but this time they were not only willing, but were anxious that a full-license be granted as the circumstances had much altered.

In the past Margery was the tenant of Lord Hastings, but now the Coal Company had become the tenants and Margery was their sub-tenant. This meant that the Seaton Delaval Coal Company now had command over the Hartley Arms, and these were the grounds on which their previous objections had been based. Now if the public house was not properly conducted, the Coal Company would be able to cast Margery aside and put someone else in the job. 

It was noted that Margery had made some vast improvements and the Hartley Arms was now made up of a kitchen, wash-house, pantry, bar, parlour and a large and small sitting room. On the first floor there was also a large club room. The length of time the Barrass family had the Hartley Arms was taken into consideration, and finally the full-license was granted to Margery

Sadly not even one year later, Margery died on 1 July 1897 in her beloved Hartley Arms - after campaigning for so long and hard to get a full-license. She died of senile debility or dementia, and also syncope meaning she had lost consciousness. A sad way to go for such a strong woman.

Margery's death certificate.

Her son Matthew inherited the tenancy of the Hartley Arms.