Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Barrass Matriarch

Sarah Hempseed was baptised on 11 January 1767 at St Alban's, Earsdon. She was the daughter of William Hempseed and Catherine Ledger, and is my 5x great-grandmother.

On 7 February 1784, Sarah married Alexander Barrass at St Alban's, Earsdon when she was about seventeen years of age. Alexander was a pitman from nearby Hartley and together he and went on to have ten children.


St Alban's, Earsdon

Alexander died in January 1826, at the age of sixty-four. By that time, he and Sarah had moved to Benton Square. After Alexander's death, Sarah spent time living with her children who all lived nearby in numerous different mining villages. 

Her son William lived in Benton Square, running the Wheat Sheaf Inn with his wife. Sarah was living there when she died on 3 October 1850, twenty-four years after her husband's death. Sarah was 83-years-old, and died of Climacteric Disease; general decline or a sudden alteration in health. She was later buried alongside her husband in the family grave at St Alban's church, Earsdon, the same church where they had wed. 


The Barrass family grave,
with St Alban's church behind.

On 12 October, Sarah's name appeared in the death column of the Newcastle Guardian newspaper. The Newcastle Guardian expanded and described more of Sarah's family life, showing her to be a true matriarch:


"At Benton Square, on the 2nd inst. aged 85, much respected, Sarah, widow of the late Mr Alexander Barrass; deceased has left no less than sixty-five children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and forty-three of them attended her remains to the grave."

Although they did get Sarah's date of death incorrect, I find this entry so remarkable. I'd like to think that Sarah was a very caring and maternal woman, as the number of granddaughters named in her honour suggests.