Tuesday, 17 March 2015

St Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day truly is a day I reflect on my Irish heritage. I think of those in my family who were forced to migrate to England and Scotland to escape the potato famine, and simply to live.

There are quite a few Patricks in my family, and fortunately I am able to trace the name through to Scotland and all the way back to Ireland.
A pedigree of the Patricks in my family.
Spanning the generations.
The first Patrick I have in my family is Patrick Duffy, my 4x Great Grandfather. I don't know much about him at all, and his name only appears on the marriage and death certificates of his children. His wife's name, Margery Harkins appears on the certificates also. Six of their children went from Ireland to the area of New Kilpatrick in Dunbartonshire, Scotland in the late 1840s. One son, Patrick actually went to Massachusetts, USA.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Search for Andrew

As detailed in my post about my Quinnin/McQueen family, I struggled quite a bit with tracing James, the brother of my 2x Great Grandfather, Martin. However he was not the only troublesome Irishman in the family. My 3x Great Grandfather was a man named Patrick Andrew Queenan/Quinnin and for a while he also went missing. He often liked to drop the Patrick and simply be Andrew, like his father before him. 

In the late 1840s and early 1850s, the Queenan family were living in the Wall Knoll area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. They later escaped to the coal fields and became drainers in the pits around Murton, Northumberland. Patrick Andrew's wife Bridget died there in 1867 of bronchitis and he is stated to be a farm labourer. Not long after this, his son James began to use the surname McQueen. 

Throughout this time, Patrick Andrew remained close to his elder son Martin and acted as a sponsor on a couple of his grandchildren's baptisms. Together with Martin, his daughter-in-law Barbara Coyle and his grandchildren, Patrick Andrew moved to Bedlington Station where he resumed his work as a coal miner. From Bedlington Station, the family group went to New Hartley where they can be found on the census returns. 

The last mention I had found of Patrick Andrew, was on the baptism of his granddaughter Martha in September 1879 at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic church, Annitsford, Northumberland where he acted as her sponsor. But thereafter, Patrick Andrew Quinnin could not be found. However then I found James McQueen and his family, and their lives in numerous public houses in the Sunderland area. I had much luck with finding newspaper articles on James and his family, and one day was amazed to find the following;
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A FATAL FALL - Early this morning, a man named Andrew McQueen, 67 years of age, who lived with his son, Mr James McQueen, landlord of the Waverley Hotel, High-street, died from injuries received by his falling in the cellar on Wednesday morning. The deceased never recovered consciousness, dying, as stated, at five o'clock this morning.
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- From the Sunderland Daily Echo, printed Friday, 1 April 1887

So I had finally found Andrew, although I was saddened to hear of the sad circumstances in which he died. 

I went on to find a further article, printed on the next day following an inquest into poor Andrew's death. The article detailed that Andrew had went down in the cellar of the Waverley Hotel, in order to open the coal hatch so that a labourer could put some coals down. Andrew must have stood on the beer slide in attempt to open the coal hatch when he suffered a severe fall, causing "a contused and slightly lacerated wound on the back of [his] head." He got up and returned to the bar, with noticeable blood on his shirt. A Dr. John Horan suspected that the injury had caused partial concussion of the brain. Andrew soon fell into unconsciousness, and later died from the concussion, followed by effusion of the brain.  

The awfully ironic thing was that Andrew could have actually opened the coal hatch from the bar, and there was no need for him to go down to the cellar to do so. 


The day after the inquest, Andrew McQueen was laid to rest in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery. There was an article printed describing the funeral saying there was quite a large cortege consisting of a hearse, five coaches, two private carriages and a band of about 50 instrumentalists. He was described as "Bro. Andrew McQueen" a member of the Order of Buffaloes (R.A.O.B.).

So I had eventually discovered what happened to Patrick Andrew Quinnin / Andrew McQueen and although the circumstances of his death were sad, I am pleased to have found him in the end.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Barty Keith - A Character

Bertram McKeith was baptised on 21 June 1813 at St. Paul's Church, Jarrow, Co. Durham. His parents were Robert McKeith a sawyer and a native of Perthshire, Scotland, and Mary Bertram of Pennsylvania. 

Bertram's baptism at Jarrow.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.

Bertram married Mary Widdrington on 16 July 1838 at All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne. Mary was the daughter of Ralph and Catherine Widdrington of Heaton. Together Bertram and Mary had three children; Ralph Widdrington, Mary Ann and Catherine.

Bertram, or Barty as he was often known, appeared in the newspapers fairly frequently. One instance being when a young boy named Ralph Blackett stole his cloth cap. However, by the time the police had caught up with young Ralph, he had already sold it for 8d. 

Another time, Barty himself was brought up in the courts - by his own brother, Robert. Robert, who lived in Cramlington, charged Barty with assault after they had both spent the afternoon in a public house in Horton. The case apparently "afforded considerable amusement" and the brothers seem to have been laughed out of the courtroom. Believing both brothers to have been drunk, the Bench ordered them to equally pay the costs of court. 

I can deduce from newspaper articles I've found, that Barty was a colourful, well-known character in his local area. He was once quoted as having said "nivvor gan te wark the day after ye lie idle."

Bertram (Barty) McKeith died on 28 September 1882, due to senile atrophy. 




On 23 July 1892 a rather interesting article was published in the Morpeth Herald, in reference to old Barty Keith who had died just under ten years before.
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It is not generally known that a new "Barty Keith" has arisen to life in the vicinity of Bedlington Station. Nevertheless the fact is reported; indeed, the Wood Hut has had a formal introduction to the ghost of Barty Keith, the matchless anecdote maker and profound liar. The new comer has a very genial frontispiece, with a rollicking twinkle in his eye, and when he removes his hat his snowy flocks resemble a covering of jeweller's cotton-wadden. His comic jests and notorious fibs are regular twisters, and cause the groups of hunker-men at the "Clayton Arms" corner to extend grins and give vent to clownish laughter. The news has already spread that Barty has come to life again, but the Wood Hut can assure the unsuspecting public on the best authority that the new Barty is not even the ghost of his great predecessor. 
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Saturday, 7 March 2015

A Canny Lang Way To Wa'k

My 3x Great Grandparents were Joseph Sharp of Seaton Sluice, Northumberland and Dorothy Hindmarch of Brafferton, a village near Aycliffe, Co. Durham. 

Joseph was the son of William Sharp and Ruth Hedley. He was born on 7 April 1804 probably at Seaton Sluice, and was baptised on 28 December 1805 at St. Alban's, Earsdon. 

St. Alban's Church, Earsdon.
Where Joseph Sharp was baptised.
Dorothy was the daughter of Robert Hindmarch and Margaret Brown, and was born on the 19 June 1809. She was baptised at the now ruined All Saints' Church, Sockburn, Co. Durham on 16 July 1809. As is fairly common, the spelling of Hindmarch was just one variation of the name. The family were also known as Hymas. 

From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts
for Sockburn.
When Dorothy was around 29 years old she gave birth to a daughter, out of wedlock. The baby girl was baptised Margaret, after Dorothy's mother.

Little Margaret's baptism at Aycliffe.
Dorothy is noted as being a 'Single Woman'.
Sadly aged only one years old, little Margaret died and was buried in the churchyard at Aycliffe.

Then, on 23 December 1843 at Tynemouth Registry Office, Joseph Sharp and Dorothy Hindmarch were married. Seaton Sluice, where Joseph Sharp was living is just over 40 miles from Brafferton, the small village where Dorothy was living prior to their marriage. What brought Dorothy to the Seaton Sluice area, or Joseph to the Brafferton area is unknown. In truth, I have no idea how their paths would have crossed. It certainly would have taken a good few hours for Dorothy to make her way up to the Tynemouth Registry Office to marry.

The Sharps went on to have five children; Robert William, Ruth Honour, Margaret Ann, William John and Mary Jane. Margaret Ann has previously been mentioned, in my post the Vicker's Will.

Joseph Sharp was a keen gardener, growing vegetables in his spare time. He was also a member of the Floral and Horticultural Society of Seaton Delaval. He often exhibited prized cabbages, potatoes and onions. The majority of the time, he also came first in the best flower competitions. Joseph would often be a judge for such competitions also.


Joseph died in 1873, followed by Dorothy in 1878. 

Lady of Sorrow

On 16 March 1783 my 4x great-grandmother, Martha Robinson was baptised at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Woodhorn, the daughter of George Robinson and Jane Simpson. The Robinson family were natives of the nearby Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

Martha's baptism entry.
Notice the spelling of Robinson.
The Robinsons were the victims of a fishing disaster on 14 January 1808. Martha, only in her mid-20s lost her father and older brother both named George, as well as other male relatives. All hands were lost in Blyth harbour during a storm.

Martha went on to marry John Armstrong, a fisherman like the rest of her family, however he was from Cullercoats a village further down the coast. 

Martha and John's marriage entry at Christchurch, Tynemouth.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
Only three months after marrying John, he died at sea on 7 April 1810 along with his father and brothers. The loss of life was well-documented and is quite a sad story. The Cullercoats fishermen were caught up in a storm, and so the lifeboat was called for. As Cullercoats did not have its own, the lifeboat came from Blyth. The lifeboat managed to reach the fishing cobles, but on the return journey was hit by a "high and ridgy wave." The lifeboat was hit yet again, causing her to strike the land and almost split entirely in two. There were only two survivors.

John's body was eventually found in August, and he could finally be laid to rest at St Alban's, Earsdon. To add to the tale, Martha was pregnant. 

She gave birth on 10 November 1810 to a boy. He was named George John Armstrong, after his two deceased grandfathers, and his late father. 

George John Armstrong's baptism.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
Martha went on to marry John Renner on 17 August 1817. Not surprisingly, this second John was also a fisherman. John Renner was also a Newbiggin freeholder, with some small parcels of land on Newbiggin Moor and in the east end of the village. 

The marriage entry of John Renner and Martha Armstrong at Woodhorn.
From the Durham Bishop's Transcripts.
Martha and John went on to have three children; Ann, Edward and John (known as Johnny). To complicate things, Martha's first son George John Armstrong dropped the 'George' from his name - meaning Martha had three Johns in her life, her husband and two sons! Her firstborn John Armstrong went on to marry a woman named Elizabeth Brown. Her daughter Ann married Adam Storey, but her two youngest sons remained bachelors.

John Renner died in 1847 at the age of 76. Martha's son Edward closely followed in 1854 aged only 33. Around this time Martha opened up her house, and started taking in lodgers. 

Disaster seemed to follow Martha and in December 1861 she lost her youngest son, Johnny Renner at sea just past the famous Newbiggin Church Point. Johnny was aged only 39 years old, and "left a widowed mother to mourn his untimely end" - as was reported in a newspaper at the time.

St. Bartholomew's Church, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
Johnny Renner lost his life just past here.
"It is impossible to realise the intense excitement which pervaded the entire community and great commiseration is felt for old Martha Renner, who, bordering on the 76th year of her pilgrimage, is thus deprived of her earthly stay."
- From the Morpeth Herald, dated 21 December 1861, on the death of Johnny Renner.


The Renner family grave
at St. Bartholomew's, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
Martha Renner died on 9 January 1867. Her legacy lived on, with two granddaughters being named after her and also a later great, great granddaughter. Martha was the maternal grandmother of Adam Storeythe Grand Old Man.