As of March 2012 I have found two generations of Hall in my direct line. They start with my 3x great grandmother Margery Hall born 1803 in Elsdon in Northumberland. Margery’s father is 4x great grandfather Joseph Hall born in 1767 in Elsdon. I found Joseph just a few months into my research and since he was the first person I named in generation 7 he gave me a big incentive to continue digging. Margery Hall married John Thornton and had 8 children. They named one of their sons Hall Thornton which gave a good clue to finding the correct couple.

Wikipedia claims that Elsdon was a lawless place many centuries ago. I remember when I was about 9 or 10 going on a school trip to the Elsdon area and stopping to view Winter’s gibbet where a murderer was hung in chains in 1791. Strange sort of thing to take a busload of 9 year olds to see. Interesting now to see that this event would have been during the lifetime of my ancestor Joseph Hall. I suppose that in such a small village he must have known the murder victim.

Transcript of Elsdon parish records

Another Hall researcher gave me a useful hint today.  The Open Library have a transcript of Elsdon parish records from 1672 to 1812. This contains a lot of useful information but the search functionality is not very user friendly, a few pages are out of sequence and I have found one potential transcription error. Nevertheless a good starting point for finding out more about Elsdon folk.

Children of Joseph Hall and Eleanor Thompson

My initial list of the children of my 4x great grandparents Joseph Hall and Eleanor Thompson was taken from the transcript of Elsdon parish records mentioned above. Unfortunately it did not tally correctly with the vicar’s numbering of the children and was further confused by the transcript indicating that my 3x great grandmother Margery Hall was the daughter of John, which conflicted with my previous information that he was Joseph. I have now checked the details to the microfilm of the records of Elsdon St. Cuthbert’s church held at Woodhorn. (Reel M241 for future reference) and confirmed that the children of Joseph and Eleanor are:

Name Baptism Birth Position given as:
Gabriel 24 Aug 1794 22 Oct 1793  
James 24 Aug 1794 22 Oct 1793  
Alexander 22 Sep 1795    
Hannah 27 Aug 1797    
John 3 Mar 1799 26 Jan 1799 4th son
Margaret 27 Jul 1800 10 Jul 1800 2nd dau
Margery 24 Jul 1803 3 Jul 1803 3rd dau
Joseph 31 Mar 1805 1 Mar 1805 5th son
Matthew 3 May 1807 9 Mar 1807 6th son
John 2 Dec 1810 22 Oct 1810 7th son

Now I understand why some transcripts give James and some give Gabriel as the child baptized in 1794. The church record shows two baptisms and gives Oct 1793 as birth for both, so Gabriel and James must have been twins. My ancestor Margery is the 7th child and youngest girl.

Finding my Hall 5x great grandparents

As a result of my visit to Northumberland Archives Easter 2012 I believe I have now identified my 5x great grandparents Hall. My 4x great grandparents Joseph Hall and Eleanor Thompson were married in 1793 in Elsdon, Northumberland. I had previously been told by other distant relatives that Joseph was born about 1767. The marriage date suggests that this could be correct, but I wanted to be more certain so I checked the parish records for Elsdon St. Cuthbert’s backwards from 1775. This review gave me a baptism for Joseph Hall on 1 Jan 1769, son of Gabriel Hall and Hannah Hall of West Todholes in Elsdon parish. This was a very good possibility for my Joseph as he would have been 24 at the time of the marriage. I ran out of time at Woodhorn to follow this lead further, but have subsequently reviewed the Elsdon parish record transcription on Open Library and searched findmypast and familysearch. I found no other likely baptismal candidates for my Joseph, but did discover that Gabriel and Hannah had buried a son Joseph on 17 March 1766. I have not found a birth record for him. Since they have used the name twice it may suggest that there are more Josephs to look for further back in the lineage.

Further review of the transcript on Open Library turned up a marriage record on 12 December 1765 for “Gabriel Hall and Hannah Hunter of ye Westtodholes, both in this parish”. Since the event timings and place names are appropriate and I cannot find any other Joseph birth which fits I am drawing the conclusion that Gabriel Hall and Hannah Hunter are my 5x great grandparents. The fact that Joseph and Eleanor named one of their eldest (twin) boys Gabriel and their eldest girl Hannah adds an extra reassurance that I have traced the correct couple.

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