Newcastle Family History Tynedale
Community Centre,
Northumberland, NE46 3NP
Contact: John Parker

Meetings on 2nd Thursday in the month at 7.00 pm ( No meeting in August )
Visitors are always welcome


Calendar for 2022 (Depending on Government Regulations at the time)

Date Subject of Talk Speaker
14 July 2022 Joe the Quilter’s Cottage Geraldine Straker


Reports of meetings

June 2022

Meeting 9th June attended by 8 members + 1 guest and apologies from 6 members which was a Members Forum – “How did our forebears get Around”.

The discussion covered both the period in living memory and the wider historical picture.

Some members had brought photographs of family cars from the 1950s and there were also pictures of a “Rocket Cart” – a horse drawn vehicle from which rockets were fired by coastguard volunteers carrying out inshore rescues in the North Sea. There were reminiscences of trolley buses and trams ( it was noted that the tram has undergone a revival as a mode of public transport in recent years ) and it was also noted that the provision of public transport has reduced dramatically in recent decades, while the private car has become much more prevalent. A chicken and egg situation, perhaps?

Looking further back, it was generally agreed that people prior to the nineteenth century would have travelled mostly by sea as we have a long history as a maritime nation. Members mentioned ancestors who moved to the North East from Cornwall (tin miners recruited for the lead and coal industries) and from Dorset to Dent’s Hole who would almost certainly have made their economic migration by ship via the English Channel and the North Sea. Horses and carts would transport goods on land ( as well as people on occasion ) and the stage coach provided a form of overland public transport, although it would probably have been beyond the reach of most from a financial point of view.

With the industrial revolution came the canal network, closely followed by the railways. While the canals were predominantly used for freight to fuel manufacturing and trade, the railways were deeply involved in the radical social changes of the nineteenth century. The growth of the traditional British seaside holiday was enabled by rail connections between the industrial cities and the emerging resorts, such as Blackpool, Skegness and Scarborough.

The invention of the bicycle, the motor car and the motorcycle have led to the modern view that independent personal mobility is an essential part of life. It was noted that in earlier times many people could ride horses, but relatively few could afford to own one. Air travel, of course, has only been an option since the late 20th Century and did not crop up in the discussion.

May 2022

10 members and two guests attended the meeting on 12th May.

The speaker was Richard Tolson whose talk was on his Masters’ degree dissertation being the experience of Jewish boys who were sent to the North Eastern Reformatory near Stannington, which was later re-named as Netherton Training School and is colloquially known as Netherton Reformatory.

In the early 19th Century, the age of criminal responsibility was seven years of age, and young offenders could be punished by transportation to the colonies, imprisonment or even death by hanging. Social reforms resulted in the 1847 Juvenile Offenders Act which, as well as raising the age of responsibility to 14, resulted in the establishment of Reformatory Schools for young offenders. The North Eastern Reformatory was established in 1857, with 40 boys housed in a converted barn : in 1858 a purpose-built building was constructed at Stannington Moor, accommodating 100 boys.

The establishment grew over time : initially, discipline was very harsh, but this relaxed under changing management and as societal attitudes moved on. Rather than being housed in cells, the boys slept in dormitories. Their daily regime was classroom education in the mornings, industrial training in the afternoons (agricultural work, tailoring and shoe making being the main subjects ) and religious education in the evenings. For the last six months of their sentences, the boys were discharged on licence and placed in work – usually in a trade related to their industrial training.

Richard’s study concentrates on the 186 Jewish boys who passed the institution. Most of them were from the East End of London, although Liverpool and Manchester also provided numerous young convicts. More than 60% were the sons of people from what is now Poland and about a third of them were themselves born in that part of Eastern Europe. Their convictions were very rarely for any form of violence – nearly all had committed petty theft, almost always because of severe poverty.

The religious needs of this part of the community were met by rabbis from Gosforth or Jesmond who provided religious education and conducted the Sabbath ceremonies.

In terms of outcomes, many of the inmates went on to work in the trades in which they had been instructed at the Reformatory – agricultural work, tailoring, the boot and shoe trade and also the military. Nearly one-third emigrated, mostly to North America and almost half served in World War One. However, there were examples of those who reverted to criminality of one sort or another – sometimes combined with military service.

April 2022

The meeting on 14 April was attended by 9 members. Talk by Christine Hanley and Glenice Reed: The “Dead End” of Beltingham.

In 2021, Christine and Glenice had taken part in the National Burial Index project which amassed transcription and photographs gravestones and other memorials in churches across the country. They shared the photographs and the information they had gathered when they surveyed the church and graveyard of St Cuthbert’s Church, Beltingham. Beltingham is a small village located just South of the A69 between Hexham and Haydon Bridge, close to Allen Banks National trust site and Ridley Hall. St Cuthbert’s is a Grade I Listed late 15th Century church in the Perpendicular style. The churchyard contains several ancient yew trees, the oldest dating back over 2,000 years.

The graveyard and church, as is usual, contain memorials to several members of local families – the surnames Davidson, Dickinson, Lowes and Usher occurring frequently – and there is a plot divided off for the Bowes-Lyon family. They lived at Ridley Hall and were cousins of the late Queen Mother, born Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Also buried in the church yard, near the lychgate, is the local author Nancy Ridley.

As well as photos of gravestones and individual monuments both inside and outside the church, we saw images of the lychgate ( a donation from the Bowes-Lyon family in the early 20th Century ), the exterior of the church and some fine stained glass windows.

March 2022

23rd Annual General Meeting held on Thursday 10 March 2022 at which 7 members were present:

Chairman: The Chair expressed her thanks to all members for their support since the resumption of the Branch’s activities and welcomed the fact that the Branch had gained three new members since the last AGM.
Secretary: The Secretary endorsed the Chair’s remarks and noted that, although booking speakers had been subject to a great deal of uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the branch had managed to deliver a varied and interesting programme of events while increasing membership, if not regular attendance.
Treasurer: The Treasurer provided a report and copies of the accounts. It had now been 3 years since the Branch had required a subsidy from Society HQ, which was satisfying.
Adoption of the Officers’ Reports was approved unanimously.

Election of officers for 2022/2023:
Chairman: Christine Hanley was willing to continue. Agreed unanimously.
Secretary: John Parker was willing to continue. Agreed unanimously.
Treasurer: Glenice Reed was willing to continue. Agreed unanimously.
NDFHS Trustee for Branch: Glenice Reed was ready to stand down from this role if any other member was willing to take it on. John Harrison expressed an interest and was proposed by Christine Hanley, seconded by John Parker and duly elected unanimously.

The Chair reported that a venue for the Society’s AGM had been identified, booked for Saturday 24th September and paid for ( payment to be reimbursed by the Society in due course ). This is the Millennium Hall at Riding Mill. It is hoped that full details will be published in the Summer 2022 edition of the Society Journal.

Members’ Forum : The 1921 Census:
Two members had been to stay in Manchester since the last meeting to carry out research from the 1921 Census data at Manchester public library. They had been restricted in the amount of time they could devote to this research due to Manchester’s public buildings currently being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays – a fact not well publicised!

Manchester is the nearest place where it is possible to search the 1921 Census data unless you have a subscription to FindMyPast, due to the commercial licensing contract under which FMP carried out scanning and transcription. A member commented that FMP has exclusive rights over the data for a period of 3 years from the first release of the data.

The main areas of interest in terms of the information available is that individual’s ages are shown in years and months for the first time, which can be a great help in tracing birth records. The name and address of workers’ employers are another new piece of data which is recorded, as is the marital status of all individuals aged 15 and over.

The more subjective benefit of this release of data lies in the digital images of the original records : this gives a personal connection because the handwriting of the head of the household can be seen and may be familiar from family documents, personal letters, and so on.

It was generally agreed that the data held in the 1921 census was more likely to be known to researchers than information from earlier censuses because of closer personal connections.

The exclusivity agreement and the attendant costs were generally felt to be a disappointment, but it was recognised that this simply reflected the current climate in terms of public sector / private sector collaborations.

February 2022

Group meeting held at 7pm on Thursday 10 February 2022
Attended by : 8 members and 2 guests
Diana Whaley : The Northumberland Name Book Project
Diana had led a project which had run from 2016 to 2020 and which had transcribed and analysed the contents of the 103 surviving Ordnance Survey Name Books compiled between 1857 and 1864.

Each book relates to a place (usually a parish) and contains detailed information about the names of streets, antiquities, geographical features or other points of interest which the Ordnance Survey were surveying and mapping for the 1861 series of Six Inch scale maps of the United Kingdom.

For each feature identified on the map, there is an entry in the Name Book which corresponds to the name as shown on the map. Other information recorded in the Name Book about each feature gives alternative spellings or other variations on the name, the “authority” for each of the alternatives, the situation (describing the physical location in relation to other nearby features) and general observations.

The “Authorities” were local people – generally local worthies, tradesmen or landowners – who were interviewed by the survey teams to establish what each street, stream or prominent building was known as, and how the name was spelled. The general observations – also known as “descriptive remarks” – provide an often subjective additional layer of information about the feature being mapped.

The Ordnance Survey of Northumberland was carried out by a group of nearly 50 people, with just over half being members of the Royal Engineers and the rest civilians. The recent Name Book Project involved more than 40 volunteers.

Diana gave a number of interesting and entertaining examples of the derivation of place names, illustrating the historical, geographical and economic factors which influence how streets and structures are named.

The website is well worth a visit at

January 2022

Meeting held on Thursday 13 January 2022 attended by : 12 members and 3 guests
Speaker: Greg Geissler : The Mayflower More Family
Branch member Greg Geissler is a member of the Mayflower Society, an American-based society for people whose ancestors sailed to America in 1620. Greg has traced his connection back to his 12th Great-Grandfather, named William Brewster.

The talk related to William Brewster’s role in taking four children whose surname was More to the New World. The children – Ellen, Jasper, Richard and Mary – were the children of Samuel and Katherine More of Shipton in Shropshire. The parents’ marriage seems to have been one of convenience and arranged for dynastic reasons – Samuel and Katherine were cousins, and her father had no male heir to inherit his estate. Samuel worked in London as secretary to Lord Zouche, a diplomat and Privy Councillor. He came to believe that the four children were not his, but had been fathered by a tenant farmer, Jacob Blakeway to whom Katherine later testified that she had been betrothed prior to her marriage to Samuel. This testimony came during a lengthy legal battle over the custody and parentage of the four children, whom Samuel had disinherited. It appears that his solution to the whole issue was to send the children to America with the Pilgrims as indentured servants. Two of the children were indentured to William Brewster, with Samuel making financial provision for them by paying £20 for each child – twice the going rate – which would guarantee them a parcel of land when they came of age in the New World.
After sailing was delayed, the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth on 16 September 1620 with 102 passengers on board. They shared the Gun Deck of the vessel – an enclosure 20 feet wide, 50 feet long and with only five feet headroom. Livestock also shared the space and – although the passengers could get fresh air on deck when the conditions were suitable – they spent much of the time in their dark and insanitary quarters as weather conditions were poor, often stormy. After 10 week at sea, the Mayflower arrived off Cape Cod on November 21 1620.

For several more weeks, the winter conditions prevented the passengers from disembarking despite disease (especially scurvy and TB) being rife on board and, by the time they could get on to land, only 53 of the original 102 survived. Two of the More children were amongst those who died on board during this time and a third died shortly after landing.
The surviving child was Richard More, who was aged six. He went on to become successful as a sea captain, although it seems that his lifestyle was not entirely to the liking of the Pilgrim community. It seems that he had a wife in Massachusetts and another whom he married in London.

This story only emerged in about 1960 when Sir Jasper More searched his attic for documents about his ancestors and came up with the seventeenth-century legal papers relating to the protracted dispute between Samuel and Katherine More.

December 2021

Group meeting held on 9 December 2021 attended by 7 members. Disappointingly a number of members had to offer their apologies due to health issues. The formal meeting was followed by a “faith supper” – featuring the traditional refreshments and a challenging Christmas themed quiz set by the Chair.

November 2021

Group meeting held at 7pm on Thursday 11 November 2021 attended by 8 members + 1 Guest. Members’ Forum – “Brick Walls” and how to break through them.

This subject had been suggested by a member who, despite extensive research across many sources of information, had been unable to find reliable information about his grandson’s 3x great-grandfather, a Thomas Stobbart – born in 1840 in or around Haydon Bridge until the 1881 Census. The first 40 years of his life are therefore undocumented and represent a “brick wall”.

There was a wide-ranging discussion including the options – already investigated without positive results – of Military Service (including the Indian Army), time spent in Ireland, use of different online resources and name variations. One member mentioned that they had managed to knock down their own “brick wall” by using Find My Past’s new resource of Bishop’s Transcripts when it became available. Persistence, and awareness of new online datasets were the only constructive suggestions that came out in an area familiar to members.

(Last updated 29th June 2022)