Wednesday, 29 July 2015

On This Day - Silver Wedding

On this day in 1893 at the Lanchester Registry Office, Durham my 2x Great Grandparents, Joseph Metcalf and Ann Jane Knox were married. 

25 years later a notice was placed in the Morpeth Herald commemorating their silver wedding anniversary.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Morgan Family Tidbits

While researching my blog post for last week on the sad story of Alexander Morgan, I was able to glean a few other stories about his family. 

Number One

In May 1891, Lydia Pooley a housekeeper at Seghill was charged with having assaulted Elizabeth and Elizabeth Ellen Morgan, a mother and daughter. Elizabeth was the wife of Alexander Morgan, and Elizabeth Ellen was their daughter. 

Mr. Kewney appeared for the Morgans, and opened the case. According to Mrs. Elizabeth Morgan, she was coming down the row with a can in her hand. She said that Lydia was standing at her door, when she suddenly rushed at her and struck her with a shovel. Elizabeth Ellen naturally came to her mother's assistance, but she was also struck by Lydia, and also had her fingers bit. There had been no provocation at all. 

Lydia Pooley was up next, and stated that a few days previously Elizabeth Morgan threw a dish of greasy water over her as she was coming past with two pails of water. Elizabeth rejected this claim. Lydia went on to say that Elizabeth Morgan was always insulting and laughing at her. Elizabeth Ellen corroborated her mother's evidence. 

Thomas McGuinness was then called on. He came out of his house to see Lydia and Elizabeth Ellen fighting. Elizabeth Ellen's fingers were in Lydia's mouth. "She put her fingers in my mouth and I did bite them!" Lydia interjected, causing laughter in the court. "The old woman", Mrs. Elizabeth Morgan was lying on ground, and both mother and daughter fainted. 

Lydia Pooley went on to say that she came out of her house with the shovel only after Mrs. Morgan threw a can of beer in her face. 

P.C. Sproat who was stationed at Seghill at the time, said he was sent for and found "the daughter" bleeding, and "the mother" in a fainting condition. Two further witnesses were called but neither appeared as they were out of the court when the case commenced. 

The Bench fined Mrs. Pooley 2s 6d in each case, and dismissed the cross summons. 

Number Two

From the Morpeth Herald, 30 September 1905.

Number Three

In July 1907 William Herron Morgan, the son of Martin passed his examinations with distinction and was able to enter the Armstrong College, Newcastle after the summer vacation. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Cresswell Village

Yesterday I went to an ancestral haunt of mine, Cresswell village on the Northumbrian coast. My Storey family lived here from at least the 1760s until the mid-1800s. Cresswell was and still is a small village. Little more than one hundred years ago the little cottages were occupied by fisherfolk. Historically Cresswell was a township in the parish of Woodhorn.

Cresswell village.
19 July 2015
Cresswell beach

My 3x Great Grandfather Adam Storey was born and raised in Cresswell, but moved south to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea when he married Ann Renner. His parents, Adam and Hannah lived their entire lives in the village, eventually dying there in 1869 only days apart. Hannah's maiden name was Mills, another Cresswell fishing family.

My first direct link with the village is in 1762 when William Story, my 5x Great Grandfather was born there. He was later baptised at St Mary the Virgin, Woodhorn. On William's baptism only his father's name is recorded, written as "Adam Story".

St Mary the Virgin, Woodhorn, Northumberland.
The second direct link to Cresswell village is from 12 February 1776 when Margaret Storie [sic] was buried at Woodhorn. Margaret was described as "Wife to Adam Storie of Creswell". An added remark was that she drowned. I can only assume that Margaret was my 6x Great Grandmother.

Margaret Storie's burial.
Extract from the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.

The church in Cresswell is dedicated to St Bartholomew and was built in 1836 by the Baker Cresswell family, however burials did not begin in the churchyard until 1899.

James Storey a younger brother of my 3x Great Grandfather Adam was buried at Cresswell when he died in 1901. Five years later in 1906 his second wife Isabella Oliver was laid to rest with him.

The gravestone of
James and Isabella Storey
at Cresswell.

Nowadays Cresswell is a local tourist spot with a couple of caravan parks which are popular with families in the summer. The beach is a big attraction, truly highlighting how beautiful the Northumbrian coast is. There is only one shop in Cresswell, which sells the holiday essentials. And the ice cream is very nice too!

Cresswell's token shop.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

AncestryDNA - Part 3

Amazingly, there was no 6-8 weeks wait. 

My DNA testing kit arrived on 26 June 2015. I took the test almost immediately and sent it off the same day. 

My progress bar updated to 'Arrived' on 3 July, and on the 6 July updated to 'Processing'.

Now today, 15 July 2015 I received the results of my DNA test! 

The Ethnicity Breakdown

I am most definitely not an expert in DNA or genetics, but after mulling over taking the test for quite a while I did have to do some research - a kind which I wasn't used to. 

My results are as follows:

I am 100% European - no surprises there at all. I knew for a fact I had no foreign blood in my more recent ancestry. By foreign, I mean not from the UK or Ireland. Knowing the general history of Great Britain with countless immigrants from all corners of the globe coming here over the generations, I did know that I couldn't be 'just' British or Irish.

My ethnicity was then broken down further.

I am 63% British. In comparison, my result is actually 3% higher than the average native person.

I am 19% Irish. In truth I did expect this result to be higher, purely because of my own family research. Due to the nature of the test I think a lot of my British result is actually Irish, because of the migration to and from each place. The average Ireland native is 95%.

I am 10% Scandinavian. I did actually expect this result. Living in the North East of England and knowing my family have lived here for centuries, and also knowing the history of the area. In particular the invasion of the Vikings on this coast. Not a surprise for me at all. The typical native of what is deemed to be Scandinavia is 48%.

I am 5% Western European. This is primarily Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. The average native is 48%. This is not really a surprise for me either, purely down to geography and migration over the generations. 

The next percentages are my Trace Regions, where I literally only have "a trace amount of genetic ethnicity". Due to the estimated amount and range of the Trace Regions, it is entirely possible that these results appear by chance and are not actually part of my genetic make-up. 

I am 2% Iberian. This is DNA from the Iberian Peninsula which is primarily Spain and Portugal. The typical native is 51%. 

I am 1% Finnish/Northwest Russian. In comparison, the typical native of this area is 99%.

DNA Matches

This is the part I was most excited for when I decided to take the test. I currently have 21 DNA matches under 'Fourth Cousin'. I also share Ancestry Tree Hints with one of these, so I know exactly how I am related to them. This Ancestry User is descended from Bernard Carroll and Jane Duffy, my 3x Great Grandparents. These matches all have confidence levels of Extremely High in relation to being a cousin of mine. 

Unfortunately the majority of these matches do not have a family tree linked to their profiles. They might've just wanted to see their ethnicity breakdown and are not actually researching their family. 

All my other DNA matches are listed as 'Distant'. They are mostly all probably 5th to 8th cousins of mine. There is one of these with a shared Ancestry Tree Hint, so I am also able to confirm that they are cousins of mine through Samuel Dykes and Marion Findlay, my 5x Great Grandparents.

I have quite a lot of these distant cousins to check out, as I have 52 pages of DNA matches! 

Do I think that the AncestryDNA test is worth it? Yes I do. I think the genetic side of things is very interesting, and well worth researching.

I am also very excited to see my DNA matches increase as more and more people take the test. 

Suicide At Seghill

Sarah Barrass was born on 28 May 1798 at Shiremoor, Northumberland, and was baptised on 24 June at Christ Church, Tynemouth. She was the daughter of Alexander Barrass and Sarah Hempseed

Sarah's elder brother Robert was my 4x Great Grandfather.

An extract from Sarah's baptism.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts. 
On 30 January 1819 at Gosforth, Sarah Barrass married a man named Martin Morgan. Robert Barrass and Elizabeth Maughan, my not-yet married 4x Great Grandparents were the witnesses to the union. 

The marriage of Martin Morgan and Sarah Barrass.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
From Gosforth the Morgan family went to Longbenton, along with Sarah's family, and from there they went to Seghill. Together the couple had five children; Martin, Sarah, Alexander, Elizabeth and a second Elizabeth, after the first sadly died in infancy. 

When their third child, Alexander was around the age of 30, he married a lady named Elizabeth Fish. Together Alex. and Elizabeth had at least five children. 

When Alexander was about 63 in 1887 he was seriously injured at Seghill Colliery, after a fall of stone in the pit. 

Published in the Morpeth Herald, 11 June 1887.

Five years after the accident, Alexander's name appeared in the Morpeth Herald again. This time, for a much more tragic reason. 

"On Wednesday, before Mr. J. R. D. Lynn, Coroner, an inquest was held at the Blake Arms Inn, Seghill, touching the death of Alexander Morgan, aged 68, a miner at Seghill."

Alexander's son, Martin came forward confirming that the body was that of his father. Martin also stated that his father had been ill for around 14 weeks, after falling in his house and injuring his head and bowels. 

"On Sunday night deceased complained of a pain and trouble in his head, and could not rest, and appeared to be in a desponding state of mind. In his (witness's) opinion it was owing to not being able to get to work. A few years ago deceased had a fright, which somewhat affected his head. There was an insurance on deceased's life." 

Ann Wilson, a neighbour of the Morgans stated that for a while now Alex. had been in a desponding state of mind. Ann went on to say that a doctor had been attending him for 'shock to the system', caused by the fall he had some time ago. She also stated that she had never known Alexander to threaten to destroy himself. 

On Sunday, Alexander was complaining about the pain in his head. At a quarter to eight on Monday morning, Ann Wilson saw Alexander go into his garden to the privy, but did not take much notice. About three minutes later, Ann heard Elizabeth Morgan shouting and went out into the garden, finding Alex. in the outhouse. He was in a kneeling position, 'working his hand at his neck'. Alexander brought his hand away, and Ann noticed the razor, and the wound in his throat bleeding heavily. 

At once Ann called for assistance and had Alexander carried into his house, where he died about ten minutes later. 

"-The jury returned a verdict that deceased died whilst in an unsound state of mind."

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A Case Of Neglect

In March 1918 an article was published in the Morpeth Herald with the above title. The article concerned the family of Charles Rudd, the older brother of my Great Grandmother Margery

"A case which should serve as a warning to many people who are stated to require it was presented when Charles Rudd, of Back Phoenix Street, Newsham, was charged with neglecting to send his child to school. - There was no appearance on the part of the defendant."

Apparently Charles' daughter had "scarcely" been to school since April 1917. A doctor stated in the court that the girl suffered from scabies, which he had treated for nine or ten months. The doctor said that due to her condition she was not able to go to school, however, "there had been no effort on the part of the parents to cure her."

Mr. P. M. Dodds, a solicitor prosecuting on behalf of the Education Authority said that this was the point he wished to bring out. "Unless the parents had taken all precautions to cure the disease there could be no excuse." Mr. Dodds then went on to point out that the girl had been attended by the school doctor and nurse, whose instructions had not been followed out. 

Nurse Taylor came forward, stating she had the family under observation. She said the house had "been more or less affected with scabies for some time." Some notice had been sent to the Rudd family to send their daughter to school, but this had not been done and she had been re-infected with the disease through neglect. 

Dr. Fairlie, a schools medical officer "said the case was one of undoubted neglect." The girl was living in what was described as "untidy and not over clean house." Dr. Fairlie also brought up the fact that the mother and two boys aged 10 and 5 had also been infected with scabies. The mother, Elizabeth Rudd produced a card detailing instructions left by the nurse, which he said had not been carried out. 

It was added "that the disease required a deal of energy to eradicate it, but in a fortnight if properly treated it should be cured, and it should be cleared out of a family in a month."

The Chairman agreed that the Education Committee had been quite right the bring the seriousness of case forward, and hoped it would serve as a warning to others in the district. A fine of £1 was imposed. 

-The girl in the article could be one of two Charles and Elizabeth Rudd had at this time. It could be Jane Isabella, born 1906 or Hannah, born 1913. The boy aged 10 is their son Edward. The other boy mentioned, aged 5 I believe to be a mistake. Their only child aged 5 at this time would be Hannah, so I am inclined to believe that the girl in the article is their eldest daughter, Jane Isabella Rudd.-

Friday, 3 July 2015

AncestryDNA - Part 2

Update - Today my AncestryDNA progress updated from 'Activated' to 'Arrived', exactly one week since I sent away my DNA sample.

Hopefully Part 3 will be the results of the test! 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


Ralph Widdrington was born in 1757 and baptised at St Bartholomew's Church, Longbenton, Northumberland. He went on to marry Catherine Bowdon in 1780 at the same church. They are my 5x Great Grandparents. 

Ralph and Catherine's marriage entry.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
The couple were blessed with many children over the years. Their names were Mary, Robert, George, Ralph Jr, William, Anthony, Henry, Bowdon and Ann. The latter was born when Ralph and Catherine were both in their mid-forties. 

Sadly their eldest daughter, Mary died in 1803 aged 23. By some miracle, Catherine fell pregnant once again when she was around the age of 58, something which is highly unlikely, but not impossible. The baby was named Mary and later baptised on 15 January 1814 at All Saints, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. By the time of Mary's birth, the family had moved from Longbenton to the nearby Heaton. This second Mary is my 4x Great Grandmother. 

Mary Widdrington's baptism.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
When Mary was just over one year old, a huge tragedy occurred on 3 May 1815. Her father and brothers had went to work down the Heaton Main Pit. Some old workings had "become entirely filled with water" eventually breaking through the coal face, causing the pit to quickly flood. 

Some of the pitmen working nearby ran to the shaft, and were able to escape. Mr Millar, the under-viewer of the colliery was informed and ran off to give warning to the men and boys working in the higher part of the pit. However, this "was not accomplished." The water quickly rushed to the lower parts of the pit, cutting off the only means of escape. The water rose to the depth of about nineteen fathoms. 

Immediately efforts were made to reach the part of the pit where the trapped miners were through some of the old workings. This was without success due to the old shafts being blocked up with earth. Numerous other rescue attempts were made, but they were all unsuccessful. 

Seventy-five miners died; thirty-four being merely boys. Three of the men were Ralph Widdrington, and two of his sons Ralph and Henry. The miners died either due to starvation or "want of respirable air."

There were multiple problems and difficulties concerning bringing out the bodies of the unfortunate miners; the first of which was finally brought out about nine months after the accident. Soon after the bodies of the other deceased miners were found and buried. The majority were buried at Wallsend, but some were buried in the parish churchyard at Longbenton. 

Ralph Widdrington Jr was found first. He was later buried at Longbenton on 20 February 1816. Ralph Jr died leaving a widow and three children. His youngest was born posthumously and named Ralph in his honour. 

Ralph Widdrington Jr's burial.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
Ralph Widdrington Snr and his other son, Henry were presumably found together as they were buried on the same day; 15 March 1816 at Longbenton. 

The burials of Ralph Snr and Henry Widdrington.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
Ralph and Catherine's youngest child Mary went on to marry Bertram McKeith in 1838 at the age of 24. Although Mary barely knew her father, she honoured him by naming her only son Ralph Widdrington McKeith.

Ralph's widow Catherine never remarried, eventually dying in December 1842. She was aged around 86 years.