Friday, 17 June 2016

Margaret's Tragedy - An Anxiety Known Only To Themselves

On Wednesday I published a post about Bill Storey. This week, I wish to detail the life of his wife, Margaret Oliver. She suffered multiple tragedies in her seventy years - tragedies which should be remembered.

Margaret Oliver was born in 1827 at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, to Robert and Frances Oliver (née Lisle). Margaret's maternal great-grandfather was George Robinson who died in the Newbiggin fishing disaster of 1808. 

Margaret married Charles Twizell on 8 April 1849 at St Mary's, Woodhorn. Charles was a fisherman at Newbiggin, one of the sons of William and Ann Twizell.

St Mary's, Woodhorn.
Where Margaret and Charles were married.

Margaret gave birth to a boy in early 1851, and he was named William Charles Twizell, after his paternal grandfather and father, respectively. All was well - until the day of 18 March that same year.


It is with regret we announce one of those disasters which too frequently overtake the industrious and enterprizing [sic] fishermen belonging our sea coast. During the morning of Tuesday the boats from Cullercoats and Newbiggen [sic] were off, as usual, following their occupation, when towards noon the wind, which had been blowing from the S E, rose to a gale, and the sea becoming very heavy the boats instantly made for the shore. Those belonging Cullercoats arrived in safety, but three from Newbiggen were lost, when nine souls out of twelve perished. It appeared that those belonging Newbiggen were pressing towards that place, when several prudently put into Cresswell with comparatively little damage, while the three ill-fated boats proceeded forward, the crews, it seemed, being desirous to reach home. Unfortunately, when between Cresswell and Newbiggen, two of the boats were engulphed [sic] in the waves, when all hands perished, amounting to eight persons, three of whom were brothers. The third boat nearly succeeded in reaching Newbiggen, when a heavy sea swamped her, but by the timely arrival of a boat, which was carried over the moor to the beach, three of the crew, who were clinging to it, were saved in a very exhausted condition.  The progress of the boats, as usual on these trying occasions, was watched by the fishermen's relatives and friends with an anxiety only known to themselves, and it is stated that so close was one of the boats to the shore at the time of catastrophe, that a sufferer named John Oliver, while holding by the boat, shouted to his distracted mother, who was an eye-witness of the said calamity. Another fisherman, named Henry Brown, was twice so near the shore as to feel his feet, but alas! the second time he was swept away by the boiling surge and drowned. The three boats afterwards drifted on the rocks, and on the following day all the bodies were found on the beach. The following are the names of the sufferers:- Charles Twizell, who has left a wife and child; John Oliver, single man; Philip Dawson, wife and two children; John Dawson, brother to Philip; William Armstrong, wife and two children, and his brothers Robert and Hunter Armstrong; Henry Brown, single man; and William Armstrong, wife and six children. The scene, we understand, was of the most heart-rending description - men, women, and children were running to and fro almost in wild despair, and nothing for some time was heard, but sounds of wild lamentation commingling with the warring elements."
- From the Newcastle Courant, 21 March 1851

So that was the fate of Charles Twizell. The above named John Oliver, who called to his mother on the shore, was Margaret's elder brother. A double tragedy for Margaret and the Oliver family. 

The disaster was widely reported in newspapers, both regionally and nationally, so many people flocked to Newbiggin to pay their respects. The victims of the disaster were all buried on 21 March 1851, in the grounds of St Bartholomew's Church. On that same day, Margaret had her son, William Charles Twizell, baptised. 

Perhaps to people now, that sounds strange, maybe even a little morbid. I can only assume that little William was sickly at the time, and so Margaret rushed the baptism forward, for the sake of his soul. Sadly, William Charles Twizell died on 2 July 1851, and was buried with his father three days later. Poor Margaret was now widowed and childless. 

Margaret married Bill Storey eight years later at Tynemouth. Bill was a fisherman from Cresswell, but he moved to Newbiggin to live with Margaret.

The marriage notice of William (Bill) Storey and Margaret Oliver (Mrs. Twizell).
Notice no actual date is given for the wedding - 'lately'
Bill and Margaret's daughter, Margaret (known as Meggie) was born in early 1860, only about a year into their marriage. 

Margaret gave birth to twin sons in July 1863. They were named William and Edward, after their father and maternal uncle, respectively. The Storeys were obviously very proud at the birth of their sons, and so a suitable notice was placed in the Morpeth Herald newspaper. Sadly, the happiness wasn't to last.

Baby Edward died on 13 November, and baby William on 5 December. They were both just over four months old.

Three years later, Bill and Margaret had a third son, another William. Luckily he, along with their daughter Meggie, survived to adulthood.

Margaret Storey (née Oliver), sitting on the left,
between her two children, Meggie and William.
Her husband Bill Storey stands at the right, displaying a fish.
Shown with three of her grandchildren.

Meggie Storey married George Dent on 18 March 1882 at Morpeth Registry Office. The couple began living in the house next door to Bill and Margaret in Vernon Place, Newbiggin.

William Storey, Jnr married a Durham lass named Hannah Etherington in Newcastle in 1893. They had one child together that same year, and named him William. He was born while the family were living in Byker. 

Margaret died in May 1897, aged 70-years-old. Her husband Bill died in 1912.

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