Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Harbertson Hunting Part 3 - Wooler

From Chatton we went back to Wooler. I knew Wooler to be the burial place of quite a few of my Harbertson ancestors already. Wooler is also special because a few of the Harbertsons actually lived there.

Church Street, Wooler
Like with Kirknewton and Chatton, we started in the churchyard. Again, I didn't expect to find any headstones as the Harbertsons would probably have been too poor to have one. We checked nevertheless, but found nothing. A small section of the churchyard is covered with trees, and as we checked the surrounding headstones the wind picked up. It wasn't a particularly breezy day, so I wonder if it were my ancestors, acknowledging us coming to find them. 

The church is dedicated to St Mary, and was built in 1765 from local stone. 

 Striking 3 o'clock.
The church dates back to 1765.
A Weeping Angel?
For being built in 1765, I found the church to be fairly modern inside. Inside the door was a computer and file on a desk. A kind volunteer has transcribed the burials for Wooler, although it is not complete. I hadn't seen anything like this before in any of the churches I have visited. I was pleasantly surprised. There were the burials of my 5x Great Grandparents, James and Christian and a few of their infant children. As well as those of their eldest daughter's family, the Cessfords.

Wooler itself is clearly a popular place today. Even on a Sunday, there were quite a few people walking their dogs, and one or two people asking for directions. 

A nod to the towns farming history.

It was nice to stand in the street where my 4x Great Grandparents, Andrew and Margaret Harbertson lived - aptly named Cheviot Street.

A view from Cheviot Street.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Harbertson Hunting Part 2 - Chatton

From Kirknewton we went through Wooler and onto Chatton. The Church of the Holy Cross at Chatton is located through the village centre and down Church Hill Road. To me it seems like it has been put out of the way, rather than be in the very centre of the village. 

The Church of the Holy Cross, Chatton.
Chatton was the parish in which James and Jane Harbertson, my 3x Great Grandparents were living in the early 1850s. James was a farm labourer, working and living at Fowberry Moor. Not long after living here, James and his family moved south to New Hartley to work in the colliery there.

The church has some truly beautiful stained-glass windows, which my photographs just don't do justice.

Again I looked in the surrounding churchyard, but found no Harbertsons. One gravestone did catch my eye, however. It was the gravestone of Robert Orange and his family, who lived near to Chatton in Lyham. One remarkable coincidence is that Robert Orange's nephew, also named Robert, owned land in Annitsford and was a revered figure in the area. In 1903, this second Robert had a street of houses built, named Orange Street after him. Orange Street later became of the home of my Great Grandparents, James and Sarah Jane Harbertson and their growing family.

I have actually written a blog post on Robert Orange and the building of Orange Street.

The Orange family grave.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Harbertson Hunting Part 1 - Kirknewton

On Sunday I went north to rural Northumberland, following in the footsteps of my Harbertson ancestors. They were from the Wooler area, living on small farms where they worked the fields.

First on the list was Kirknewton. It's a tiny village - a hamlet really, only boasting a few houses, but the church is very picturesque. The church is dedicated to St Gregory the Great, with a churchyard surrounding. 
St Gregory, Kirknewton
On 19 February 1784 my 5x Great Grandparents were married here. They were James Harberson and Christian Oliver. From them descends a large family, some of which now live abroad in the US and Australia. James was a shepherd. 

James Harberson and Christian Oliver's marriage at Kirknewton.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.

There are some ancient graves in the churchyard, as well as the burial place of the great Northumbrian social reformer, Josephine Butler. The churchyard is still in use today.

As is commonplace in rural areas, the church is still open to the public. Kirknewton is a very peaceful church. 

There is a chancel at the back, which felt very strange to me - it appeared to be a manmade cavern.

There is a stained-glass window in the chancel, showing Jesus in the centre, surrounded by angels. Apart from the stained-glass, there is only one other window in the chancel. From the photograph you see just how thick the walls of the church are.

St Gregory the Great

Walking back along the road to the side of the church are a set of gates, presumably only used for burials. From there is a lovely view of the church, although on the day it was slightly backlit. Opposite the church there are only fields and hills. 

A different view of the church and churchyard.
The decorated gate.
A friend I made. Wondering what I was doing!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

On This Day - Emily Davison's Birthday

On this day in 1872, Emily Wilding Davison was born. She was born in Blackheath in Kent, although her parents were natives of Northumberland. 

Emily was an activist, fighting for women's suffrage, along with other famous names such as Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia

Emily Wilding Davison
1872 - 1913
Emily joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906, an organisation founded by Emmeline Pankhurst. Not long after, Emily made a choice to dedicate herself entirely to the suffragette movement. 

Emily was frequently arrested for her actions, which included public disturbances and the more serious, burning of post boxes. She spent some time in Strangeways Prison, where she refused to eat, becoming a well-known hunger striker. Emily was force-fed, which naturally she resisted. On one occasion, Emily barricaded herself into her prison cell. An angered prison guard forced a hose into the room, and then proceeded to fill it almost entirely with water. Eventually the door was broken down.

On the night of the 1911 census, Emily hid in the crypts of the House of Commons. By doing this, Emily could say that her residence at the time was Parliament itself, the centre of power in the UK. People thought she wished to evade the census, but Emily had something else to say for her actions:

"It is assumed by the authorities that I went into the crypt of the House of Commons to avoid the census, because I refused to give any particulars when I was discovered. That such was not my real object is proved by the fact that I had a separate census schedule sent to me, and returned it with the words written on it: "As I am a woman, and women do not count in the State, I refuse to be connected. Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God," and signed my name to this. Of course I was counted by head for this, and I expect in the House of Commons too. Will you allow me to point out that our object in resisting and evading the census was not one of animosity or spite, but simply to show in a practical way that people cannot be governed without their own consent...
Yours, etc.,

Two years later on 4 June 1913, Emily attended the Epsom Derby. As the race was underway, Emily ran onto the track and attempted to grab the bridle of Anmer, a horse owned by King George V. Anmer hit Emily at full speed. She fell to the ground and was trampled by the horse's hooves. Although medics attempted to revive her, Emily later died on 8 June. 

It is thought that Emily's purpose was to attach a WSPU flag to the King's horse. The fact that she had bought a return rail ticket, and was planning on attending a suffragette dance implied that suicide was never Emily's intention. However, now the suffragette cause had its martyr. 

A memorial service was held in London on 14 June, but she was to be buried at Morpeth, Northumberland. Her remains left King's Cross soon after, reaching Newcastle Central Station where they stayed for the remainder of the night. The brake van carrying her body was draped in crepe and the colours of the W.S.P.U. Six of Emily's friends were an all-night vigil for the entire journey, until the brake van reached Morpeth at noon on 15 June. They were attired in white, and wore black shoulder sashes and armlets as a sign of mourning. 

The railway station at Morpeth was crowded and people from all over lined the entire route to St Mary's Church. Hats were reverently raised as the coffin passed, and suffragists formed a guard of honour up to the church. 

After a simple service, Emily was laid to rest amongst the beauty of Morpeth churchyard. As the coffin was lowered, a banner was placed on it from her mother - "Welcome, Northumbrian hunger striker."

The Davison family grave.

"A Veritable Princess of Spirituality"

"Valiant in Courage and Faith"

"Greater Love Hath No Man Than This,
That a Man Lay Down His Life
For His Friends"

My Great Grandmother and her family were living in Morpeth at this time. I like to think that they were amongst that crowd, watching a great Northumbrian heroine pass by.

A new film, Suffragette, showing Emily's activism and sacrifice is being released tomorrow. 

Deeds not Words.


Monday, 5 October 2015

On This Day - Happy 133rd Birthday!

A very happy birthday to my Great Grandmother, Sarah Jane Harbertson (née Taylor), who was born on this day in 1882. Sarah Jane's parents were Matthew Taylor and Isabella Errington, and she was born while they were living in Seaton Terrace, near Seaton Delaval, Northumberland.

Sarah Jane Harbertson
A doting mother, and a canny soul