Saturday, 12 December 2015

'Lines written on a visit to Leven-Grove in Cleveland, the seat of Lady Amherst' 1817

Leven Grove was the early 19th century name for Skutterskelfe Hall.  It's the subject of this poetic tribute, by an author writing under the pseudonym of LEO:-
When rosy Spring, with fingers bath'd in dew,
Unfolds the primrose pale and violet blue,
And many a blooming flowret that supplies
Joy to the smell and pleasure to the eyes,–
Soothes with her smiles the fury of the north,
And breathes and bids the tender buds burst forth –
When soaring high on never-wearied wings,
To charm his mate the lark enraptured sings;
Balmy the air; above, the sky serene;
The meads, below, soft, fragrant, fresh, and green;
O be it mine at peaceful evening time,
When the sun decks his western throne sublime,
O be it mine with tempted feet to rove
Along thy flowry paths, fair Leven Grove
There deep concealed amid thy shady bowers,
The Thrush and Blackbird charm the careless hours,
And every bird its melody essays
To pour to bounteous Heaven its humble praise.
Hail, lovely scenes, that ever can impart
A sense of genuine pleasure to my heart!
O sweet thy greensward bents and sunny glades,
Thy crystal streams and murmuring cascades!
Here, while I gaze, each earthly trouble flies,
My soul expands, my thoughts ascend the skies:
Soft, as I stray thy fragrant haunts among,
Comes the lone murmur of the ring-dove's song;
She, faithful bird, her lover's stay deplores,
His absence long from her whom he adores; 
Or, 'reft of him that never will return,
Pours to the echoing woods her agonizing mourn.–
Lo, as I gain sweet Foley-Hill, are seen
Fair Cleveland's plains with future harvests green;
And lengthening far, and towering to the skies,
Her mountains dark in solemn grandeur rise:
There, bleak and bare, which every blast assails;
Here, cloth'd with woods that scorn the blustering gales.
Now, while the western breezes curl the stream,
And clouds obscure the sun's unfavouring beam,
Across the brook, with keen and ready eye,
The patient angler throws his feather'd fly;
With restless arm attempts each prosperous guile,
And frequent deaths reward his pleasing toil.
Nov. 12, 1817.

Published in The Northern Star or Yorkshire Magazine: A Monthly and Permanent Register of the Statistics, Literature, Biography, Arts, Commerce, and Manufactures of Yorkshire, and the Adjoining Counties (Volume 2)

There's something rather unexpected in the way that the writer begins sentimentally with primroses, violets, greenswards and glades - and ends in a snap with agonising mourning, bleakness and "frequent deaths" ...

An account of Skutterskelfe Hall can be found earlier on the blog, here

Note: Foley-Hill is present-day Folly Hill.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

"On the wondrous trail of Alice"

Alice in Wonderland, that is.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chris Lloyd (deputy editor of the Northern Echo) wrote a beautifully concise and evocative account of Carroll's links to the North East and the ways in which his years spent here may have provided inspiration for Alice.

He mentions, too, Henry Savile Clarke whose story, and that of his wife and daughters, can be found earlier on this blog, and who created the first stage adaptation of the books.

You can find "On the wondrous trail of Alice" here on the Northern Echo website.

(I think you can get 10 free articles a month before a subscription is needed).

I don't know why we let Oxford take all the credit, when both Lewis Carroll and the Liddells (Alice Liddell being the main inspiration for the books) had such firm roots here!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Papers deposited at NYCRO

I have now deposited all the papers relating to John Richard Stubbs with the North Yorkshire County Record Office.

The deposit includes his diaries and also family letters mainly from the 1870s.  The letters from Ellis Macfarlane of Helensburgh written during their engagement and in the early years of their marriage are particularly lively and interesting, as are the letters from John's mother.

Anne Weatherill's diary from 1863 – which is such a tiny scrap of a document that over the years the family has had several moments of fearing we had lost it – is now also safely at NYCRO, I'm glad to say!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Lewis Carroll & the North East

Don't miss Alice in Teesside, Simon Farnaby's programme on Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland!

It was broadcast on Radio 4 last Thursday and is now on iplayer.

I can't help but think that their shared roots in the North East must have made for an extra bond between Carroll and Henry Savile Clarke, who wrote the first stage adaptation of the Alice books.

For the remarkable story of Henry Savile Clarke, go to my earlier blog posts - there are four of them, and this is the first.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

'The Live Bait Squadron Remembrance Book'

Henk van der Linden is the founder of the the Live Bait Squadron Society and the author of The Live Bait Squadron: three mass graves off the Dutch coast.

Henk is now proposing to produce a commemorative volume called The Live Bait Squadron Remembrance Book.

It would be a large, high quality hardback book in colour.  It would include a DVD of the moving documentary film The Live Bait Squadron made by Dutch diver & filmmaker Klaudie Bartelink (the film's in English!) and a DVD of the centenary commemoration at Chatham Historic Dockyard last year, which Klaudie also filmed.  The book would include accounts of the disaster, its historical context, stories of the men (sent to Henk by their families and descendants), and details of the memorials erected to their memory ...

In order to get this book published, Henk needs to guarantee to his publisher that it will achieve a certain number of sales.  So he needs a list of subscribers who will engage to buy the book when it becomes available.  The price will be £40.

So if you are interested, contact Henk!

His email address is

(The only thing that might put you off is that I feature rather more in Klaudie's film than I ever expected when filming took place!  I try not to think about it too much ...)

Monday, 7 September 2015

From Hutton Rudby to Nova Scotia in the 18th century

I have already mentioned in this blog the emigration from Hutton Rudby to Nova Scotia in the 18th century.  It was prompted and encouraged by Charles Dixon (1730-1817), who owned the paper mill in the village (you will find a reference to him, for example, in this chapter on the Faceby Mormons).
As a result, quite a number of his fellow Methodists left the village for Canada.

I have just realised that the account of Charles Dixon's life can now be read online.

You will find it here – but if for any reason that link does not work, search for "Charles Dixon" and "Nova Scotia" and you will find it.

The Community Hub at Hutton Rudby

I mentioned the Sycamore Tree Project or Village Hub in my reply to Joan (see last post) and I think I should include a mention of it here.

I don't live in Hutton Rudby any more, but friends tell me it's a great place to go for coffee and meet others and I think people who are visiting the area in search of their family history might find it a pleasant place to encounter the village today.

You will find details of the daily opening hours, Zac's Coffee Servery, the Book Area, etc, here on the website of the Hutton Rudby Methodist Church.

Flintoff family of Hutton Rudby & Nova Scotia

Joan McDougall has just commented on the About this Blog page, but I thought I'd also post her comment here, in case it's missed.  Her family, the Flintoffs, were among those who emigrated to Nova Scotia in the 18th century:
I am researching my family history, descended from Jane Flintoff who lived in this interesting village, but left (probably) with her brother Christopher or sisters Mary or Sarah around 1772-1774 to move to Nova Scotia on Canada's east coast. I think her father's name was also Christopher and in Nova Scotia, she married William Humphrey (another Yorkshire emigrant, thought to be from Northallerton). They had 5 children and interestingly the name Flintoff remained in the Humphrey family for 4 generations! 
I am coming to visit the area in mid Oct and would love to speak with a local historian who may be able to fill in some blanks. My email is look forward to seeing Hutton Rudby and meeting my past...
So if anybody has any information about the Flintoffs in the 18th century, please contact Joan!  

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Dragon of Sexhow

I wrote this version of the old story a long while ago for schoolchildren and had quite forgotten it until I came upon it recently.

I have to admit - this is one blog post for which I really cannot make any claims of historical accuracy!
Once, long ago, when wolves hunted along the high moors and down the wooded valleys, there came one spring morning a mighty dragon to Sexhow. 
Down he flew and his shadow darkened the sky, and the children of Sexhow and Hutton and Rudby ran from their houses and down to the church where the bridge crosses the river and their elders came out and stood before the dragon and trembled for their lives. 
Down flew the dragon and wrapped his great tail three times around himself and roared in a voice that shook the hills that he must be fed or he would lay waste the land. 
"What can we give you?" called the people, quaking.  "We are a land without children.  Your kind have taken them all." 
The dragon hissed and his poisonous breath scorched the trees on Folly Hill. 
"Then it must be milk," he groaned.  "Milk me nine cows and I will drink it now." 
And every day he called for milk and hissed and roared until the ground where he lay was brown and burned and bare.  And the villagers worked and toiled.  There were no children to help them.  The children were playing hide and seek among the trees by the river where the dragon could not see them. 
"This is too much!" groaned the fathers as they hitched the oxen to the plough. 
"This is too much!" sighed the mothers as they fed the chickens and swept the floors. 
The dragon hissed for milk and the children skimmed stones across the river. 
And so it went on through the long summer days and the parents grew wearier and the dragon grew fatter and the children grew wilder.  And the lord of the castle at Whorlton whose walls were black from the dragon's smoky breath called for champions to save his people from their plight. 
But no one came. 
"This dragon is no match for us," said the King's knights.  "There is no glory in fighting a dragon who drinks milk." 
And so the parents toiled and the children played and the dragon hissed until there came at last an unknown knight journeying north to seek adventure.  He came one evening to the castle and the lord begged him to rid the land of the fiery serpent and the knight agreed. 
"But only," said he, "if no one knows my name.  There is no honour in killing a dragon who drinks milk." 
And early in the morning, so early that the villagers had not yet begun to milk the nine cows for the dragon's breakfast, he left the castle and surprised the dragon as it snored and, driving his spear deep into its heart, he left it dead and went on his way. 
The villagers were overjoyed and took their knives and skinned the great beast and hung its scaly pelt up in the church by the river in thanksgiving for the unknown knight whose bravery had saved them all.  And the children every Sunday would gaze at the dead dragon's wrinkled skin and remember the long summer when they had played all day. 
And so my story ends.  But where the dragon skin is now, that nobody knows.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Emailing me through the blog

Just to say that if you've tried to email me through the blog and found your email has pinged back - do try again!  I know at least one person has had problems, but the thing usually works.

Friday, 7 August 2015

John Cresswell Brigham of Darlington

I often wondered what happened to the Brigham family of Rudby.  Now, thanks to an email from their descendant Jonathan Taylor at last I know!

The son of George Brigham (1790-1841) was also called George.  He was a clerk for Backhouse's Bank in Darlington, rising to chief accountant.  His son was the noted antiquarian bookseller, historian & collector, John Cresswell Brigham.  This is from the online catalogue for Durham County Record Office:

Brigham Collection (Ref: D/XD 16/1-18a)
This collection, including many books which are now part of the Local History Collection, was bought by Darlington Library on the death of the antiquarian bookseller, John Cresswell Brigham, in 1936.  It was then described as three collections, one relating to Darlington, one to Durham and one to Yorkshire. Those archive items which have been identified as part of the Brigham Collection are listed here, but it is likely that many of the items without provenance which are listed as the Darlington Library Collection (D/DL), came from the Brigham Collection originally. 
John Cresswell Brigham owned a book shop at 26 Coniscliffe Road and also set up a private museum in Northumberland Street. He was a Quaker and married Eleanor Lingford of Bishop Auckland. He was a well known figure in the town and his son has donated some notes about his life to the library. 
J. C. Brigham's father was George Brigham, who was chief accountant for Backhouse's Bank till his death in 1892. The family came from Rudby where George Brigham was a land agent and valuer, coroner for Cleveland and chief constable for the west division of Langbaurgh.
He was quite a collector.  A 1935 newspaper article relates that eleven railway wagons were needed to transport the items bought from J C Brigham's executors by a purchaser in the Lake District.  They included books, manuscripts, pictures and curios.  There were 500,000 books!  These treasures included:-

  • an early edition of the Douai Bible (first published in 1582)
  • a Rembrandt etching dated 1641
  • signed copies of Dickens' works
  • first editions of works by Voltaire, Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott
  • a number of Saxton's C16 maps
  • the little satchel carried by Wordsworth on his mountain tramps in the Lake District.
And I notice from a quick search that it was John Cresswell Brigham who photographed the interior of St Cuthbert's Church, Darlington, just before the galleries that had been erected in 1730 were taken down in the major structural works of 1862.  Unsurprisingly for the time, it's not a very clear photo, but you can see it here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Revd Thomas Todd (1799-1860), Rector of Kildale

Amongst the photographs I have received from Australia was this one:

It shows notes and cuttings about the parish and rectors of Kildale and the burial place of the Revd Thomas Todd, which must have been made by Isabella Mary Todd, his daughter.

Isabella has also kept a cutting about John Jackson's Charity, noting that John Jackson's brother was her grandfather George Jackson.  Perhaps, far off in Australia, she liked to remember her "mother's home" in Lackenby, where, in the words of the newspaper, "the family have been native for upwards of 300 years."

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

William King Weatherill of Guisborough: a sad story

Far off in Sydney, Australia, Richard Ord Todd and his aunt Isabella had photographs of her nephew William King Weatherill of Guisborough and his children.

(William was the brother of Annie Weatherill, whose diary I posted on 1 December 2012.)

William King Weatherill was born on 22 November 1844. These photos, taken in Harrogate, show him apparently in the prime of life and with everything before him.

William King Weatherill (1844-77)
He was married to Hannah Maria Pickersgill and they had two children.

Here is his son Thomas, and below, his daughter Mary. 

But William had known a good deal of sadness.

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Ords of Guisborough

Richard Ord Toddwas born in Guisborough.  His mother was Elizabeth Mary Poynter, the daughter of John Poynter and Ann Ord.  Here she is, with her husband Edward:

Edward and Elizabeth Todd

So the Revd Richard Ord Todd of Sydney was connected to the Ords of Guisborough, and the family photographs in Australia include pictures of the Ords.

The family is best remembered now for its most famous member, John Walker Ord, author of History of Cleveland:

John Walker Ord

John Walker Ord was the son of Richard Ord (1783-1879), a tanner and leather merchant, prominent in the public life of Guisborough, whose obituary in the Whitby Gazette records
The deceased whilst in the prime of life took a great interest in everything relating to the welfare of the town – was connected with nearly every public body in the district, and for over twenty years was vice-chairman of the Guisborough Guardians.  In politics he was a Liberal, and was a great support to the local party in the stirring times of the reform agitation.  
Richard Ord (1783-1879)

Richard Ord's wife was Ann Walker, whose great grandmother was the Dame Walker who is said to have taught Captain James Cook to read as a boy.

At least, that's what his obituary says but my Australian contact has pointed out :
I know that the obituary of Richard Ord states he married Ann Walker, the great great granddaughter of Dame Walker however her name was Ann Ovington and Richard and Ann were married 20 Jun 1805, her parents were William Ovington and mother Elizabeth Wood. Ann's grandparents were William Ovington Snr and Ann Walker the daughter of Dame Walker.
Another of their sons was Richard Ord junior (1807-77).  He was a currier and leather-seller, for many years an Alderman of Stockton and Mayor of the town in 1865.  Although of retiring disposition and having suffered some ill health he was a justice of the peace until his death.  He died at his home in Bowesfield Lane in October 1877.

Richard Ord jnr (1807-77)

The photographs show that Richard Ord senior was a keen supporter of cricket in Guisborough.  He he is (back, right) with the Cricket Team:

Guisborough Cricket Team

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Richard Ord Todd on the Isle of Man and in Australia

A glimpse of life on the Isle of Man in the 1880s.  Private theatricals were evidently all the rage!

You may remember from the photograph in the last post, that Richard Ord Todd as a youth had delicate features – so it seems he was ideally suited to be put into dresses:

Here he's on the left, beside Henry VIII:

In this one, featuring Britannia, Mary Queen of Scots and various assorted others, Richard is on the left next to the headsman and his sister Annie Elizabeth is second from the right in the front row:

And here is Richard with the football team, looking dapper in their hooped jerseys. Richard is top left and next to him is his cousin, Herbert William Quiggin:

Soccer team, 1880s, Isle of Man

Herbert was born in 1866 in Douglas and died in 1900 in Winnipeg, Canada.  He was the son of Richard's aunt Margaret Todd (1835-87) who married her Manx cousin William Thomas Quiggin in 1864.  I understand that William Thomas Quiggin and his brother Edward Todd Quiggin ran the family business, timber merchants & rope manufacturers in Douglas.  Apparently William left the business and then left his wife and three small boys to go to Canada with the family maid; he died in Ottawa.

Richard Ord Todd left the Isle of Man and went out to New South Wales on the Orizaba in 1887.

He married Frances Pym Stevens (1866-1959), eldest daughter of John Harry Stevens and Rosetta Pym on 1 January 1895 in Marrickville, NSW.  They had four children, Charles, Ruth, Stella and Geoffrey.  

His aunt Isabella was evidently living with the family at the end of her life because the notice in the Sydney Morning Herald of her death in 1907 shows that she was with them in their home at 376 Crown Street, Sydney.

Not long after his marriage, Richard's life took another surprising turn.  In his mid-thirties he left banking for the Church and in June 1901 he was admitted to the priesthood of the Church of England.  

He was successively curate of Christ Church, Enmore; Rector of SS Simon & Jude, Surry Hills; Rector of St Stephen's Church, Lidcombe; and assistant chaplain at the Anglican cemetery, Rookwood.

Here he is graduating from Moore Theological College in about 1901 (he is bottom left):

Richard Ord Todd graduating from Moore Theological College, c1901

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The family of the Revd Thomas Todd, Rector of Kildale

In February 2013 I mentioned the family of the Revd Thomas Todd, Rector of Kildale, and his wife Elizabeth Jackson.  She was born in Wilton, the eldest daughter of George Jackson of Lackenby and his wife Margaret Rowland.

Widowed at the age of 52, Elizabeth left Cleveland to join her married daughter Margaret on the Isle of Man.  She was accompanied by her two unmarried daughters, Isabella and Rhoda, and the infant motherless children of her eldest son, Edward.

Isabella and her nephew Richard Ord Todd both emigrated to Australia, and it's from there that I have been very glad to receive a selection of Todd family photographs taken in Yorkshire, the Isle of Man and Australia.  They came to my correspondent via her mother from the last survivor of the Todds there.

Here is Mrs Elizabeth Todd, in her new life on the Isle of Man:

Mrs Elizabeth Todd 1808-79

And here is her daughter Isabella.  She went out to Australia as a governess in 1880, a few years after this photo was taken:

Isabella Mary Todd 1837-1907

Here is her younger sister Rhoda.  She was the principal of the Cleveland Private School at Douglas, IoM, and this photograph shows her looking appropriately scholarly:

Rhoda Anne Todd 1839-1927

I think that these two girls, photographed at the studio of G. Wallis, Union Place, Whitby, look very like Isabella and Rhoda, but I leave it to readers to judge for themselves:

My Australian contact points out that they can't be - the photo must date from after 1860 and they would be older than that.  But they certainly look like Todds!

Their eldest brother Edward Todd was a chemist & druggist.  On 17 October 1861 he married Elizabeth Mary Poynter (1841-66) in Guisborough.  She died on 2 July 1866 leaving Edward with a two-year-old daughter and a three-month-old boy, Annie and Richard.

Here are Edward and Elizabeth in happier days:

Edward Todd and his wife Elizabeth Poynter
Edward must have found himself unable to manage with his little children and so entrusted them to the care of his widowed mother and spinster sisters.

I think the photograph below must have been taken after Elizabeth's death.  Certainly Edward looks more careworn here, and he is accompanied not by his young wife, but by his dog.  Perhaps his mother wanted a photograph of him to take with her when she left for the Isle of Man with his little children:

Edward Todd 1834-1916
Ten years after Elizabeth's death, Edward remarried in Wolverhampton.  He and his wife Margaret Griffiths had two children, Frederick John Todd (1878-1939)and Elizabeth Margaret Todd (1881-1950).

His first son, Richard Ord Todd, became a bank clerk.  Here he is, photographed as a young man on the Isle of Man:

Richard Ord Todd 1866-1953

Alfred Edwin Sadler of Sadler & Co, Middlesbrough and Ulverston

Here, with very many thanks to Ian Stubbs, who contacted me to offer the use of the photographs on his flickr stream, are pictures of the Sadler family memorial in the churchyard at St Cuthbert's, Ormesby.

This side of the obelisk commemorates Alfred:

Alfred Edwin Sadler J.P.
of Sandhall, Ulverston
brother of 
Sir S.A. Sadler J.P. D.L.
born 28th August 1857
died 24th April 1922

Ian's flickr stream is a must!  Especially if you are researching family from the North East and you can't easily get here, look and see if he has a picture for you.
For example: if you missed the WWI exhibition at the Dorman Museum, don't panic - you can read the beautifully-done information panels here from Ian's photos.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Alfred Edwin Sadler, manufacturing chemist of Ulverston

John Lamb of Ulverston has asked me if I have any information on Alfred Sadler, son of Samuel Sadler.  Alfred, who once owned John's house in Ulverston, Cumbria, ran a tar works in Ulverston.

I will set down below the details about Alfred that I have found in a quick search, but John is particularly interested in the history of the Ulverston works.

Anyone who has any information – and particularly pictures – of the Ulverston works of Sadler & Co, please contact John!

His email address is

Yorkshire Evening Post & Leeds Intelligencer 
16 April 1922
News was received at Ulverston yesterday of the death in a nursing home at Stokesley, Yorkshire, of Mr Alfred Edwin Sadler, principal of the firm of Sadler & Co Ltd., chemical manufacturers, of Ulverston and Middlesbrough.  For 45 years Mr Sadler had been prominently identified with the industrial, social, and political life of Ulverston.  He was a well-known Freemason, and was Assistant Prov. G.M. of the province of West Lancaster, and was keenly interested in Masonic charities.  Mr Sadler was also a staunch Unionist, was unmarried, and was 65 years of age. 
28 April 1922
The presence of upwards of a hundred workmen who had walked in drenching rain from Middlesbrough to Ormesby Churchyard yesterday to attend the funeral of the late Mr Alfred Edwin Sadler, was evidence of the esteem in which that gentleman was held on Teesside and in Cleveland.  The service was conducted by the Rev. J C C Kemm.  The coffin was borne to the graveside by foremen from the works of Messrs Sadler and Co. Ltd, Middlesbrough, etc.  The principal mourners were Mr C J Sadler (chairman of Messrs Sadler and Co), Mr S A Sadler (managing director), Mrs S A Sadler, Mr Basil Sadler, Col H Sadler, Mr C N Sadler, Mr Alex. Sadler, Mr and Mrs A W Field, Mr Frank Cooper (representing Mrs Gloag), Mr Douglas Cooper, Mrs Gjers, Mr John Gjers, and Sister Jefferies. Sir John Fry, Bart. and Mr R H Wilson, directors of the company, as well as the chief officials, were present, as well as a large and representative gathering of Freemasons. 
19 July 1922
Mr Alfred Edwin Sadler, of Sand Hall, Ulverston, principal of the firm of Messrs Sadler and Co (Ltd), chemical manufacturers, of Ulverston and Middlesbroiugh (net personalty £7,253) - £7,963 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Days of plenty in Redcar: a middle class household before the First World War

In old age, Mrs Katharine Isobel Ellis Hill (1905-2005) looked back to the golden times before the First World War broke out ... when she lived with her parents and her brothers in the little hamlet then called Nunthorpe Station, and they went to visit her father's parents in Coatham ...

Her memory of the end of those happy times was very vivid and painful:

King's Head, Newton-under-Roseberry
On Aug 4th 1914 my godmother had a picnic for the young people staying with her & about 12 of us walked 3 miles across the fields, climbed Roseberry, had tea at the King's Head & walked 3 miles back.  
As I ran across the last field & the others went away I crossed the road & saw my father in his Territorial Uniform (khaki) vanish round a bend on his motor bike – I called after him but he did not hear – 
I rushed into the house & asked why? & someone said, 
"There's a war with Germany, so be a good girl."   
I never see that corner of the road without seeing my father on his way to Ypres & the Somme.  7 weeks later Duncan was dead; our house was closed for the duration & I was parted from all my little friends, pets, the garden (& all sense of security forever) & the servants who were old friends.
Katharine's brother, Duncan Stubbs
(Her father's account of the day is here and an account of the death of her brother Duncan is here.)

But to return to life before the War ... 

Katharine looked back across the decades to meals at her grandparents' house, 7 Trafalgar Terrace, Coatham.

7 Trafalgar Terrace, Coatham, in 1904

Her grandfather John Richard Stubbs, had grown up with the open hospitality of his mother and her neighbours in Boroughbridge.

Her grandmother Ellis Macfarlane grew up on the west coast of Scotland, in Helensburgh.  Her father Duncan Macfarlane was a Canada merchant; her mother Mary (also a Macfarlane) was the "lovely little girl" mentioned in Three Nights in Perthshire; with the description of the Festival of a 'Scotch Hairst Kirn' (1821).

This little book, several times reprinted, recounts the author's visit to Mary's childhood home – Ledard, "a large, beautiful farm-house" near the head of Loch Ard.

Mary's father, Donald Macfarlane, had himself taken the great Sir Walter Scott to inspect the nearby waterfall, which Scott described to great dramatic effect in Waverley and Rob Roy.

(Sir Walter hasn't been in fashion in England for many years – this post on Louis Stott's literary blog will put you in the picture).

The book describes the harvest festivities, with plentiful accounts of the food and drink:
sweet and ewe milk cheese, some of the delicious trout for which the neighbouring lochs are famous, basons of curds, with bowls of sour and sweet cream, and piles of crispy oatcakes, together with rolls and butter. 
So we can imagine that, with that sort of family background, food played a significant part in John and Ellis Stubbs' daily life.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Counting sheep in dialect

Further to my last, I've just had my attention drawn (thanks John!) to the article on wikipedia on the subject.

(An appropriate photograph follows ...)

Friday, 17 July 2015

Counting Sheep in the Bilsdale dialect

A note made in 1972 by Katharine Isobel Ellis Hill (1905-2005) of the old words for counting sheep.

It was dictated to her by the grandson of Mr Featherstone, who was born & bred & farmed in Bilsdale; she thought he was probably born in the 1870s or early 1880s.

She has used "the best phonetic spelling I can devise".

It is similar to the counting used in the Lake District.
Yan (or Yëan)

Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Noddings family of Hawnby, Hutton Rudby and Hartlepool

I've been contacted by Scott and Keith Noddings with this appeal for information.  They would be very glad to hear from anyone who can help.   
Appeal for information on the Nodding(s) family from Hawnby, Hutton Rudby and Hartlepool
A quick introduction, I’m Scott Noddings, I was born in Burnley, Lancashire in 1973 and my dad is Keith Noddings who was born in West Hartlepool in 1949 and we both have a keen interest with regards to our family history.

 My father and I are particularly interested in the journey our grandfathers took from Hawnby in the 1600s to Hutton Rudby in the 1700s, to Welbury, Appleton Wiske and finally to Hartlepool around the 1820s.  We are trying to figure out what took them from the green fields of Hawnby and the Yorkshire Dales to the coast line of Hartlepool and Seaton Carew, was it simply work and the need to feed the family or was it something else, like their religion…??

Already from this blog we have discovered that our family were connected to All Saints Church in Hutton Rudby.  A Michael Nodding was the churchwarden in 1773,1778 and 1779, furthermore his brother Thomas Nodding was the churchwarden in 1777, 1781, 1798, and 1799.  We know that both Michael and Thomas along with their father James had connections with All Saints' Church in Hawnby, St Leonard's church in Welbury and later at All Saints' Church in Stranton (Hartlepool); what we are keen to know is, was it the church that took them on this journey…..??

Also we are interested in Michael’s grandson Ralph Spencer Noddings who we think was born at Windyhill farm, Seamer in 1786.  The reason for this interest is that he is the first of the Noddings to have a middle name (Spencer) and the only one to have godparents mentioned on his birth register. The godparents were Ralph Spencer Esq, Mr John Middleton and a Mrs Hutton.  We would love to find out who these people were and if they would have played a role in shaping Ralph Spencer Nodding's future.

Finally we are looking for information regarding Ralph Spencer Noddings' marriage to his wife Jane.  We know the marriage must have taken place between 1804 and 1812 (before the birth of their first child), the census of 1871 tells us that Ralph and Jane lived together with their children in Seaton Carew. We have searched high and low for this marriage, can anyone help us…??

If anybody could shine a light or point us in the right direction with regards to the questions above it would be well appreciated, our contact details are as follows……

Scott Noddings - 07748 968 175
Keith Noddings

Below is a list of their names, with date and place of birth and date of death
 James Nodding           (1889 - 1778)  Hawnby
Michael Nodding        (1726 - 1799)  Hawnby
Michael Nodding        (1755 - 1792)  Hawnby
Ralph S Noddings      (1786 - 1872)  Seamer
 Their wives were:
 Ann Gibson                 (1690 - 1782)  Hawnby
Mary Chapman           (1734 - 1789)  Hawnby
Susannah Sayer           (1755 - 1812)  Great Ayton
Jane (Nodding) ?        (1786 - 1868)  Stokesley
 Many Thanks
 Scott & Keith Noddings

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

John Macfarlan Charlton, 21st Northumberland Fusiliers

I've recently been sent these details on the death of Captain John Macfarlane Charlton.  They come from Dennis Tyerman, whose father, a private in the same battalion, was wounded in front of La Boiselle on the same day.

Dennis wrote:
After volunteering in 1914 Captain Charlton trained with his battalion, the 21st Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish Brigade) throughout 1915. In 1916 the Brigade embarked for France and experienced life in the trenches on the Western Front in the early months of 1916.   
On 1 July 1916 the Northumberland Fusiliers were in the front line with orders to attack the German strong point of La Boiselle.  
At exactly 7.30 am Captain Charlton and the other Company commanders led their men into No Man's Land towards the German lines. 
As the British troops reached the point of no return, machine gun crews of the Bavarian Infantry Regiment subjected them to withering fire. Despite heavy casualties some troops reached the German second line but attempts to gain a foothold in La Boiselle failed.  
Captain Charlton and Captain Herries with six men were isolated in a crater and unable to advance because of heavy fire. They eventually obtained a machine gun and advanced. Herries reported how Charlton was killed. 
"For a while we did great execution but the gun jammed at a critical moment. Charlton was shot down while attempting to charge a German strong point and the initiative passed to the enemy."  
The 20th and 23rd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers had practically ceased to exist and only the remnants of the 21st and 22nd Battalions, some 200 men and seven officers, remained holding the line. After suffering great hardships, at midnight on 3rd July, thes men made their way back to the British lines.  
The total number of casualties sustained by the four battalions of Northumberland Fusiliers was 2,438 killed, missing or wounded. The 21st Battalion alone recorded 11 officers killed, 10 wounded, other ranks killed 161, wounded 478. The survivors from the whole Brigade barely comprised one battalion and the Brigade was pulled from the line.  
By condensing the first day of the Battle of the Somme to those few lines I have done a great disservice to those men who participated. It must have been a horrendous experience. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Farming records of John Jackson of Lackenby, 1833-55

Record of the farming year kept by John Jackson, 1833-55
A very nice day yesterday at the University of Teesside/Cleveland & Teesside Local History Society Day School on Private Lives: Diaries in Local History, and I remembered that I meant some time ago to post this particular double-page spread from the Farming Day Book of Thomas and John Jackson (see here, and here, and here).

Of interest, I feel, to farmers - and possibly to climate change researchers?  

The Day Book is now at Northallerton Archives - the digital copy they have made is easier to read than the original (you might be glad to hear).

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

'The Man on a Donkey' by H.F.M. Prescott

With all the Tudor stuff on the BBC and the excellent dramatisation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, I thought blog readers might like to be reminded of a seriously good historical novel based on Tudor times, one that is often forgotten these days.

The Man on a Donkey by H.F.M. Prescott was first published in 1952 and it remains one of the greatest historical novels ever.  It goes in and out of print – though as a Northallerton bookseller once commented to me, "We can always sell it here" – and it's currently in print in a two-volume paperback by Loyola Classics.  (You'll find this and various other editions on Amazon.)

And why does it always sell round here?

Because it deals with the Pilgrimage of Grace (as in Thomas Milner of Skutterskelfe: the life & times of a Tudor gentleman) and is set in familiar places – Richmond, Swaledale, Pinchinthorpe, York etc, etc.

Highly recommended.

Talk in Hutton Rudby

At 8pm on Thursday 19th - the day after tomorrow - I'll be at Church House, Hutton Rudby to give a talk on Thomas Milner of Skutterskelfe, his life & times (and the pulpit, of course).

Friday, 9 January 2015

A belated Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year to all my readers & many thanks for visiting the blog! Your messages of support, encouragement and appreciation have meant an enormous amount to me over the months of blogging.

I'm not undertaking any new work at the moment – as some of you know, I have problems with my vision and reading is rather problematic these days.  However, I have various projects to finish off and a couple of engagements this spring.  I'll be speaking at Hutton Rudby History Society on 19 February on the subject of Thomas Milner of Skutterskelfe, and at the Cleveland & Teesside Local History Society and University of Teesside Joint Day School on 14 March on the subject of the Jackson family and their Day Book.  And if I don't seem to recognise any old friends who are there, I'm not cutting you dead, it's just that you're a blur because I've had to stop wearing my distance specs.  Do come up to me and speak!

In the meantime, I am reading (slowly!) Paul Menzies' book Middlesbrough: Remembering 1914-18.  Don't miss it!  It's such an immediate, vivid, concrete evocation of those days.  We've become so used to seeing the War depicted on its grand, global scale – this is what it was like to be there in Middlesbrough at the time.

And I must also strongly recommend the exhibition Middlesbrough in the Great War at the Dorman Museum.  It is on until 6 April, and it's beautifully done.  The Dorman is open Tuesdays to Sundays, admission free.  If you haven't visited for some time, you simply must, you will be amazed – and it's a great place for children too, especially the H2O gallery.  (And there's a playground nearby in Albert Park as well, to tire them out completely).