Saturday, 7 April 2018

John Jackson (1743-1808), schoolmaster of Hutton Rudby

In the Schoolmasters section of People of Hutton Rudby (Sadler to Seamer), I had a little bit of information about the Rudby schoolmaster John Jackson, taken from The Church and Parish of Rudby in Cleveland by the Rev Arthur Eddowes (published 1924).

He took his information from The Bards and Authors of Cleveland, which was written and published by George Markham Tweddell, the Stokesley printer, in 1872.  The full title was The Bards and Authors of Cleveland and South Durham and the Vicinage.  Tweddell has a short chapter on John Jackson
who for six-and-twenty years was master of Rudby School, was so much esteemed as a classical and mathematical teacher that the sons of the principal inhabitants of Stokesley used to travel daily to and from his academy to avail themselves of his instruction.  Many of the sundials still existing in Cleveland are of his manufacture, that at Rudby Church being one.  
Tweddell quotes in full the lyrics of the song The Cleveland Fox Chase, for which John Jackson wrote both the words and the music.  It begins
The glimpse of Aurora appears o'er the hills,
The morning's inviting and fair;
The murmuring streamlets and fine purling rills,
Along with the sweet-scented air,
Invite the gay sportsmen; and first do appear
The two noble chiefs of Greenhow,
With famed Gis'brough's lord, and the hounds in the rear,
In hopes to cry off - Tally-ho!
(The gentlemen mentioned were Sir William Foulis, Bt, his brother John Robinson Foulis, and William Chaloner, owner of the hounds).

John Jackson was evidently a man of many talents.  The notice of his death in the Hull Packet of 21 June 1808 records
On Friday the 27th ult. that very useful member of society, Mr John Jackson, of Hutton Rudby school, aged 65.  He was a universal scholar, and many years a contributor (in every department) to those learned and entertaining annual publications, the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Diaries.
(I think the Diaries was an Almanac-style publication)

As for The Bards and Authors of Cleveland, which covers authors and poets from Caedmon to Francis Mewburn, the solicitor for the Stockton & Darlington Railway, you can read it here, as now has the text online.  A full account of its contents is to be found here on the website dedicated to the life and works of George Markham Tweddell (1823-1903).

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Photographs of Hutton Rudby

Looking for photographs of Hutton Rudby, old and new?  Go at once to Malcolm McPhie's Facebook page Hutton Rudby Karting incorporating village history 

So many pictures that have never been seen before – don't miss the one looking downstream under Hutton Rudby bridge with the mill chimney beyond. 

Definitely not to be missed!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Hutton Rudby celebrates a Royal Wedding, 1863

Newcastle Chronicle, 21 March 1863
HUTTON RUDBY. - Among the Yorkshire villages, none were more conspicuous in their celebrations of the marriage of the Prince of Wales than Hutton Rudby.  
A correspondent says that on the wedding day the British and Danish flags were seen waving in the air from the summits of the Cleveland Sailcloth Manufactory, and in various prominent places of the village.  The Hutton brass band sent forth its animating and melodious strains, and Mr George Wilson provided a liberal banquet for all his workmen and their wives, in which the band joined them, and all enjoyed themselves most heartily.  
A subscription was set on foot to provide the juveniles and poor of the village with tea and plum cake, and through the exertions of Miss Garbutt and Mrs Henry Chapman, and the liberality of Miss Righton, sufficient funds were raised so as to enable them to give out a general invitation to the whole of the inhabitants of Hutton Rudby to come and partake of a bountiful supply of tea and plum cake, and some five or six hundred availed themselves of the treat.  
The tea was served in the National School-room, which was lent for the occasion by the Rev J Barton [actually the Revd R J Barlow], the vicar, who did all in his power to promote the festivities of the day.  In the evening, an immense bonfire blazed on the village green, and the day's proceedings finished with a grand display of fireworks.

For the story of the political ramifications of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with Alexandra, daughter of Prince Christian of Denmark, on the 10 March 1863, don't miss the website called the Heirs to the Throne Project

This is a Research Project based at the University of St Andrews and its full title is Heirs to the Throne in the Constitutional Monarchies of Nineteenth-Century Europe (1815-1914).  Their article on the marriage of Bertie and Alix, with full details and illustrations, is a must-read.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Revd Francis Blackburne (1748-1816) of Rudby-in-Cleveland

In late March 1774, a new vicar came to Hutton Rudby.  He was the Revd Francis Blackburne, an unmarried man of twenty-six and the son of the Revd Francis Blackburne, Archdeacon of Cleveland and Rector of Richmond – which can only have helped young Francis in obtaining the living from the Hon. General Cary.

Young Francis Blackburn must have looked a most inviting prospect to the young ladies of the neighbourhood on his arrival in the parish. 

He was born in 1748, educated at Richmond School and Peterhouse, Cambridge and was a Fellow of Catherine Hall (later St Catherine's College), Cambridge.

Archdeacon Francis Blackburne (1705-87)

Archdeacon Blackburne
Francis's father, Archdeacon Francis Blackburne (1705-87), was a noted scholar who had written, hidden away in Richmond, controversial and influential works on religious freedom for Protestants – though not for Roman Catholics.  He had continued to be a clergyman of the Church of England, but it's clear that his contemporaries kept expecting him to leave – he was invited to become pastor of the congregation of the Old Jewry meeting house.  (For a learned account of the Archdeacon's position in this great movement of the age, see, eg., here).

The Blackburne family had long roots in Richmondshire.

Archdeacon Blackburne's grandfather, also called Francis Blackburne, was the younger son of a gentleman with a large family and a poor grasp of finances who had, accordingly, lost the family their estates, which had included Marrick Priory in Swaledale.  So the Archdeacon's grandfather had gone into the stocking trade in Richmond and there had made a great deal of money.  He married Mrs Jane Inman of Bewerley, near Ripon, and became a wealthy and respectable figure, an Alderman of Richmond.  

Their son Francis, the Archdeacon's father, died at the age of 29 (from "a gross habit of body brought on by the excesses of the bottle" in his grandson's words), leaving his widow with three young children.

The Archdeacon's mother was Alice Comber, and through her he gained a very respectable lineage – and through his stepfather, a very good education at schools in Kendal, Pennington, Hawkshead and Sedbergh.

Alice Comber was the daughter of Thomas Comber (Dean of Durham) (1645-99) and his wife Alice Thornton.  Her maternal grandparents were William Thornton of East Newton & Alice, daughter of Sir Christopher Wandesford of Kirklington.  Mrs Alice Thornton (1626-1707) is remembered nowadays for her autobiography – her account of the Civil Wars in North Yorkshire is really fascinating and can be read online here.  (Printed versions are also available)

The Archdeacon was deeply affected, at the age of about 17, by the death of his brother Thomas from smallpox, and this had interrupted his education at Cambridge.  On his return to his college, he expected to be made a Fellow, but the majority of the Fellows were "high royalists on the principle of hereditary right" [The Works, etc of Francis Blackburne, Vol I, from which this account of his life is taken] while he had been reading Locke and talking to "liberal minded friends".  He spoke too freely in public about ecclesiastical and civil liberty and the Fellows took against him and rejected him as a candidate.  He left for East Newton to live with his uncle Comber and he stayed there for some years.

During this time, he was so depressed that he could not work at his books and could find relief only in strong exercise, particularly fox-hunting – though being very careful, when "engaged in parties of dissipation" in York not to fall into the habits of drink that had brought about his father's early death.

At this crucial point in the future Archdeacon's life he came across some old Puritan books in the lumber-room of his uncle Comber's house.  The books had belonged to his great-grandfather William Thornton of East Newton, and it was the deep impression that the old Puritan divines made upon his mind that set the course of his life and determined his life's studies.

He had, meanwhile, been waiting in hopes of the living of Richmond, where the incumbent was married to his aunt.  At last, his uncle died and family friends exerted their influence with the patron of the living, the Lord Chancellor, and Blackburne, at the rather late age of 34, became Rector of Richmond.

He married Mrs Hannah Elsworth (born Hotham).  She was the mother of three children from her marriage with Mr Elsworth; Hannah, the only surviving daughter, married the Revd Theophilus Lindsey, vicar of Catterick and a close friend and associate of the Archdeacon.  (Lindsey left the
Theophilus Lindsey (1723-1808)
Church of England in 1773 and set up the first avowedly Unitarian chapel in the country).

Francis and Hannah had five children together:  Francis; Thomas, a physician; Jane, who married John Disney (1746-1816), an Anglican clergyman and friend of Theophilus Lindsey, who joined Lindsey as a Unitarian in 1782; Sarah, who married the Revd John Hall; and William, a London physician.  

The Archdeacon was much grieved by the death of Thomas, "a favourite son", who died at the age of 33 in 1782, when the Archdeacon was 77.  It was a bad blow for the old man, and in addition his eyesight was failing.  A conscientious young schoolboy was employed to help, who went on to be well-known locally as the Revd Mr Tate, Master of Richmond School and, from 1830, vicar of Stanhope.

Perhaps the Archdeacon's son Francis was not his favourite, but he was entirely devoted to the memory of his father and his father's great works. 

Francis Blackburne in Hutton Rudby

Francis Blackburne spent only six years in Hutton Rudby, but he found his first wife while in the parish.  

In 1776 he married Ann Rowntree, daughter of Christopher Rowntree of Middleton-on-Leven, in the chapel at Middleton.  I wonder if the Christopher Rowntree, the well-known foxhunter (see this blogpost), was her brother?

In 1780 Francis left Hutton Rudby – Jeremiah Grice would be his successor – for Brignall, four miles south-east of Barnard Castle, on the Yorkshire side of the River Tees, near Greta Bridge.  He was to be vicar there for the rest of his life, the next 35 years.


Brignall has two notable claims to fame, and both of them came about in Francis Blackburne's time.  

Sir Walter Scott mentions Brignall in his poem Rokeby (1813) – Scott was a friend of the antiquary John Bacon Sawrey Morritt,of Rokeby Park and had visited the area:-

O, Brignall banks are wild and fair,  
And Greta woods are green,  
And you may gather garlands there,  
Would grace a summer queen: 

And Brignall is still remembered for the strange story of the Curse Tablets.  The earliest account that I have come across is in Whitaker's History of Richmondshire (1823).

Two leaden plates were discovered on Gatherley Moor, south of Melsonby, in the late 18th century.  They had been carefully concealed under a heap of stones – some sources say it was a tumulus – and they were inscribed with astrological symbols, rows of figures, and these words:
I doe make this, that the father James Phillip, John Phillip, Arthur Phillip and all the issue of them shall come presently to utter beggary and nothing joy or prosper with them in Richmondshire. J. Phillip 
According to an account in The Teesdale Mercury of 8 September 1886, the rows of figures "if summed up diagonally, horizontally, or perpendicularly, made up the mystic number 369."  (I haven't checked).

In 1789, an account of the tablets was sent to the College of Arms and an answer was returned, providing details of the Phillips family of Brignall.  

Henry Phillips of Brignall had two sons.  The elder was called Charles, who in turn had two sons: John and Cuthbert.  The younger was called James and he was the father of five sons:  John, Arthur*, Henry, Christopher and Thomas.  In 1575, it was James Phillips who was living at Brignall.  

According to Bulmer's Directory of 1890, James was steward to Henry, Lord Scrope of Bolton and was notorious for his litigious, quarrelsome and vindictive nature.  Whitaker in 1823 conjectured that James had cheated his brother's family of their inheritance and that John Phillips had resorted to witchcraft in the hope of getting his revenge.

As to whether the curse had succeeded – all that is known is that 200 years later the family (in the male line, I presume) had long ago disappeared.

*Whitaker has "Richard", but the Victoria County History has it as "Arthur" and specifies that John E. Brooke who provided the information

Francis Blackburne at Brignall

Brignall was a tiny hamlet even in the time of Whitaker's History of Richmondshire (1823)
Village indeed there is scarcely any at Brignall, where there are only a very few families, but not one of these is within half a mile of the church.  
About halfway on the slope of the hill between both stands the vicarage-house, one of the most pleasing retirements I have ever seen, with the woody brows and white rocks of the Greta in front, and a sweep of rich sloping land in the immediate foreground.
The church of St Mary stood by the banks of the River Greta – little remains of it today.  It was replaced by a new church in 1834, the great man of the parish, John Bacon Sawrey Morritt, bearing much of the cost.

It sounds an idyllic setting for Francis Blackburne and his young family, and surely a fraction of the workload compared to Hutton Rudby.  Within thirteen years of their marriage (I have not found the date) Francis's wife Ann Rowntree died.  On 12 May 1789 he married Miss Elizabeth Peacock, daughter of the Revd John Peacock of York.  

And in this quiet rural spot, Francis could spend his life in preparing his father's manuscripts for publication, carrying out his various charitable works and engaging with the political issues of the day.

Francis was a great friend of Christopher Wyvill (1740-1822), the clergyman and reformer, who
Christopher Wyvill (1740-1822)
owned the Constable Burton estates near Leyburn and lived at Burton Hall near Bedale.

Francis, in the words of his obituary in The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature
was the intimate friend of Mr Wyvill, and co-operated with him in all those measures, whose object was the amelioration of the representation in parliament, and extension of religious liberty to all classes of his Majesty's subjects, being firmly convinced that wherever the truth lay it was to be maintained in the spirit of brotherly love, and not by pains or penalties, or restrictions of any kind.
The Archdeacon had left his manuscripts to Francis jointly with Christopher Wyvill and Francis's brother-in-law, the Unitarian John Disney, which was perhaps not a resounding vote of confidence in his son.  But it was Francis who devoted years of his life to editing the works and getting them published.  They can be read online – The Works, Theological and Miscellaneous of Francis Blackburne.  Volume I (1804) can be found here.

"Increasing infirmities", in the words of Francis's obituarist, "compelled him to retire to Richmond" where he owned family property.  I expect it meant that he was within easy reach of his physician, but anyway who could blame him for seeking the delights of Georgian Richmond?  Why, they are still recreating them now!  (Keep an eye on this website for a date for the Georgefest in 2018)

He must have left a curate in charge of his flock, but he "in every year paid frequent visits to his parishioners, by whom he was universally beloved".  

His obituarist does not say when his failing health prompted the move to Richmond, but he died there on Sunday 21 January 1816, aged about 68; his father had lived to the age of 82.  He was buried at his express request in the churchyard at Brignall on 24 January.  He left a widow, two sons and a daughter, who had married in 1808 the reformer and writer William Frend (1757-1841), who had originally been a clergyman of the Church of England but by the time of their marriage had become a Unitarian.

Francis's obituarist describes him as distinguished by his "Good Temper" and states that his devotion to his father's opinions meant that he "asserted [them] on all proper occasions, with that calmness and dignity which was peculiar to his character".

(I wonder when the proper occasions were?  Can the writer be hinting, ever so delicately, that on the subject of his father the dear vicar of Brignall was a little bit of a bore?)

Sunday, 28 January 2018

George Wilson's absconding book-keeper, 1864

To follow on from my last post on James Wilson, this is the newspaper report of George Wilson's missing book-keeper:-

Shields Daily Gazette, 11 May 1864
EMBEZZLEMENT AT NEWCASTLE - John Carr, for nearly twenty-seven years in the employment of Mr George Wilson, linen and sail cloth manufacturer, of Newcastle and Hutton Rudby, in Yorkshire, as book-keeper and manager of his warehouse, in Pilgrim Street, has absconded to America, having embezzled and taken upwards of £600 belonging to his employer, in money he had received from various customers, and not in any way accounted for.  A warrant was taken out for his apprehension, and a search made for him in Liverpool, by the police authorities, as it was known he had proceeded to that port, but, so far, without being fortunate enough to discover the delinquent

Friday, 12 January 2018

James Wilson of Hutton Rudby (c1775-1865)

An old resident of Hutton Rudby has turned up in Massachusetts, and I think he may like to come home.  You can see him in this fine mid-19th century portrait by Clement Burlison.
Mr James Wilson of Hutton Rudby

James Wilson was born in about 1775 at Woodhouse, a few miles from Alnwick, in Northumberland.  He married Mary Straker in Gateshead on 30 January 1798.  They had a large family – I have found the names of three daughters (Jane, Matilda and Mary) and six sons (William, James, John, Henry, George and Edward) and there were possibly more – and they lived in Newcastle.

We don't know when his wife died, but by 1840 James was living in Hutton Rudby.

The fortunes of his son George (1810-76) had brought him to the village.  George was the founder of the Hutton Rudby Sailcloth Mill on the banks of the River Leven.

George had come to Hutton Rudby as a very young man in the 1830s when he was working as a clerk for the linen manufacturers & spinners, Messrs Clarke, Plummer & Co.  

It seems to me now, after looking at the newspaper reports that are now available online, that he had gone into the business in which his father had worked for many years. 

This report shows that a Mr James Wilson had worked for Clarke, Plummer & Co for 37 years at their Northumberland Flax Mill at Ouseburn:-

Northern Liberator, 25 May 1839
A dinner was given on Monday last, by the workmen of the Northumberland flax mill, to Mr James Wilson, on the occasion of his retiring from his situation, when a silver cup was presented to him, bearing the following inscription:- "Presented to Mr James Wilson, by the workmen of Messrs. Clarke, Plummer, and Co., of the Northumberland flax mill, Ouseburn, as a token of their high respect for him, he having been agent for thirty-seven years to the said works. - 20th May, 1839."
I think it's very significant that James's daughter Mary, who generally recorded her place of birth in censuses as Newcastle, in the 1881 census was more specific – she said that it was Ouseburn.

There had been a flax mill by the Ouseburn near Newcastle since the mid-18th century (cf. here) and Clarke, Plummer & Co were evidently operating from there from the earliest years of the 19th century.  I assume they began with a water-driven flax spinning mill (cf here) but a steam engine was soon added.  Their first serious fire happened in 1822, when a flake of soot flew from the engine chimney and ignited a stock of flax and tow, and they had a very damaging fire in March 1836, when initial losses were estimated at £4,000.  For the men, women and children working there, the loss was of course of livelihood and means of subsistence. (For more on the lower Ouseburn industrial area, see here).  The fire of 1836 occurred while James Wilson was agent; I rather hope that it was during this calamity that he earned the respect of the workmen who gave him his silver cup on retirement.

Two years before James Wilson's retirement, this advertisement had appeared in the newspapers:

Newcastle Journal, 28 October 1837
BEG respectfully to acquaint their Friends that they have REMOVED their Stock from the Warehouse at the Northumberland Flax Mill, Ouse Burn, to a newly erected and commodious one at
Where they intend to keep an extensive Assortment of every kind of LINEN GOODS OF CLEVELAND MANUFACTURE, for the accommodation of their Customers in this District, and where all Orders will be received and attended to from this Date.
Newcastle, Oct. 11th, 1837
This was George Wilson's venture, and from this advertisement it seems that he was originally in partnership with a Mr Robinson.  It looks rather as though George has taken over the Hutton Rudby end of Messrs Clarke, Plummer & Co's business.  I know that he continued to keep a warehouse in Pilgrim Street,  Newcastle, as it is mentioned in the Shields Daily Gazette of 11 May 1864, when it was reported that his bookkeeper and manager had absconded after 26 years with the firm, taking with him at least £600 from the till.

By 1840, George's father James had joined him in Hutton Rudby, and was listed there under the
James Wilson (c1775-1865)
description 'Gentleman' in the 1840 White's Directory.  

I suspect that George must have been glad of James's presence in the village to supervise the mill when George had to travel to Newcastle on business.  By that time, George was a family man.  He had married Ann Hutton in Newcastle on 9 June 1836, and their son James Alder Wilson was born in 1837, followed by Allan Bowes Wilson in 1839.

The censuses for 1841, 1851 and 1861 show that James lived in the last house at the west end of South Side.  (The house nowadays has a West End address, but the name West End was not used in the 19th century.) 

This is a photograph of the house from the 1930s (courtesy of Malcolm McPhie), looking eastward along South Side:
Mrs Sidgwick in her front garden, Hutton Rudby 
The house looks rather different today: it has been rendered, the window glazing has been altered and, most noticeable of all, an enclosed porch has been added to the front door.

James lived there until his death on 14 July 1865 at the age of 90.

The family of James Wilson & Mary Straker

James & Mary's daughter Jane (c1806-77), married John Ingo, a shipowner and ship's captain (1800-77), who was born in Whitburn, Co. Durham.  They had no children, but their nephew John J Brunskill, ship broker's clerk, is with them for the censuses of 1861 and 1871. 
In 1861 the Ingos were living in Sawdon House, Gosforth.  In 1871, they had moved to No 1 The Grove, Gosforth, where John died, a few months after his wife, on 30 December 1877.
In the 1851 Census, Jane is to be found in Hutton Rudby visiting her father.

James & Mary's daughter Matilda (1808-96) married a master mariner, Thomas Churnside.  She was a widow by the time of the 1861 census.  They had at least four children:  Matilda (b c1836), Mary, (b c1838), Edward (b c1841) and Jane Ingo Churnside (b c1842). 
Young Matilda was to be found in Hutton Rudby in 1851, acting as housekeeper to her grandfather.  In 1861, Matilda and her children were living at 45 Fowler Terrace, Bishopwearmouth.  By 1891, old Matilda was living with her son (a Master Mariner – the census notes that he was deaf) and her widowed daughter Mary Robinson, at Bar Moor, Ryton, Gateshead.

James & Mary's daughter Mary (b c1817) married a Mr Todd (probably John Todd).  Their children were (or included) James Wilson Todd (b c1842), Edith (b c1855) and Mary (b c1852). 
At the time of the 1861 census, Mary was staying with her father in Hutton Rudby, together with little Edith, while James Wilson Todd, a ship broker's apprentice, was staying with the Churnsides.  In 1871, Mary (described as a schoolmistress) was living with her daughters at 38 Tatham Street, Bishopwearmouth, and in 1881 she and her son James (then unemployed) were living at 10 Harlow Street, Sunderland.  

So it can be seen that the fortunes of Matilda and Mary were not as prosperous as those of their brother George.  Of the other brothers, William, James, John, Henry and Edward, I have no details.  Perhaps they too had George's entrepreneurial flair.

George Wilson & Ann Hutton lived at Hutton House, Hutton Rudby.  Their children were:
James Alder Wilson (1837-1910), Rector of Crathorne 
Allan Bowes Wilson (1839-1932) of Hutton House
for details of Allan's interest in the works of artist Ralph Hedley, see my blogpost here 
Thomas Bowes Wilson (1845-1929).  He and his wife Maria Hutton lived at Enterpen Hall.  They had three children:  Capt. George Hutton Bowes Wilson (1878-1915), solicitor, who married Nora Dulcie Linney;  Lt Col John Hutton Wilson (1880-1917); and Mary Hutton Austin.
for details of the life and early death of George, see my blogpost here

John George Wilson (1849-c1930) was a prominent solicitor in Durham.  He married Anna Louisa Eade, daughter of the Rev Canon Eade, vicar of Aycliffe, in 1879.  He inherited Staindrop Hall in Co. Durham on the condition that the family surname was changed to Luxmoore.  Their son Allan Aylmer Luxmoore was also a solicitor in Durham. 
Annie Hutton Wilson (1856-1947)
Allan and his brother Thomas took over the running of the Sailcloth Mill on their father's death.  For details of the mill in 1860 see this blogpost.  And for details of the mill in 1877 see this one.

The portrait by Clement Burlison (1815-99)

Clement Burlison was a native of the city of Durham.  A few newspaper clippings serve to track his career, and you can see that it was his bequest that established Durham's first art gallery:-

Durham Chronicle, Friday 27 November 1846
Our talented townsman, Mr Clement Burlison, returned to England a few days ago.  He has been spending the last two years for improvement in his profession in Rome, Florence, Venice, &c, and we understand brings with him a magnificent collection of studies from the Old Masters, &c, which will add materially to the fame which, before he left England, he had acquired as a first rate historical and portrait painter.  He sent home during his travels several excellent pictures, which were included in the last exhibition of the Royal Academy.
Northern Echo, 6 February 1899
DEATH OF MR BURLISON, OF DURHAM. - We regret to announce the death of Mr Clement Burlison (83), which occurred at his residence, Victoria-terrace, Western Hill, Durham, on Saturday.  
Mr Burlison, who was one of the oldest citizens of Durham, was an artist by profession, and his abilities gained for him considerable local reputation.  On many occasions he received commissions to paint the portraits of notable citizens, and many of those now occupy prominent positions on the walls of the Durham Hall, where they are much admired for the lifelike fidelity with which Mr Burlison has invested them.  In other directions beside that of portraiture Mr Burlison's talents were greatly appreciated.  He leaves a widow and one daughter.
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 4 June 1901
The Lord Lieutenant of Durham (the Earl of Durham) yesterday formally opened the art gallery which has been established in Durham by means of the bequest of the late Mr Clement Burlison, a Durham artist, who left to the city his collection of fifty pictures conditionally upon the city authorities providing a public gallery for their reception within a definite period.
The art gallery premises were in Sadler Street according to the Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette of 31 May 1901.

Burlison left a record of his early life in a short book called The Early Life of Clement Burlison, Artist. Being His Own Record of the Years 1810 to 1847.  It was first published in 1898 and, according to the Newcastle Journal of 8 May 1914, "gives interesting information about the artist's methods of work". 

You can find other paintings by Burlison online here, on the Art UK website, and also here.  You will be able to see from the Art UK website that Co. Durham still holds quite a stock of his civic portraits.  Other works by Burlison can be found in the online auction house sales records.

James Wilson's fine portrait has been found by Brad Verter of Carpe Librum Books, Williamstown, Massachusetts.  Brad deals in books and art and tells me that Clement Burlison had his creative peak in the 1840s and 1850s, which is when he thinks this portrait was completed. 

And how could Brad tell that this grand old chap was James Wilson of Hutton Rudby?  Because he is
helpfully holding a letter addressed to himself. 

This seems to me to be rather odd for a portrait intended for family, so I wonder if it was perhaps painted for some association or institution to which James belonged.  I wonder how it made the journey to the USA ...

If you are interested in acquiring James for your own walls (especially if it is a wall that James once knew, in Hutton Rudby or Crathorne!) please contact Brad at

The painting is for sale at $1,500 (about £1,125) plus shipping, which will be charged at cost.

And how can you resist, when old James is so finely rendered as this?

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Schoolmaster wanted at Ormesby, 1793

An advertisement from 1793.  Revolutionary France had declared war on Britain on 1 February that year.  Little did anyone know that war would continue for the next two decades.

The Ormesby churchwardens were looking for a new schoolmaster for the "Publick Schoolhouse" which still stands in the High Street.  It had been built in 1744 and rebuilt in 1773, presumably just before the previous schoolmaster arrived.  The requirement that the master could teach Navigation is a reminder that Cleveland was a maritime area – and, of course, Stockton-on-Tees was then the nearest town.

Newcastle Chronicle, 28 December 1793
WANTED, at Ormesby, in Cleveland, near Stockton upon Tees, 
A SCHOOLMASTER, qualified to teach the English grammatically, Arithmetic, Navigation, &c, &c – A Person so qualified may have every Information respecting the Situation, by addressing a Letter (Post-paid) to John Hymers, or John Trenholm, Churchwardens of Ormesby; or R. Christopher, Bookseller, Stockton. 
N.B.  A good modern-built House and School-House adjoining, Rent-free with 3l a Year for teaching six poor Children to read. 
The late Master being dead, who occupied the same for above twenty Years, occasions this Vacancy.