A few days ago I posted a picture of a postcard sent by my grandmother (Margaret Jane Webb, née Henderson) who was holidaying in Toronto, Canada in 1949, to her younger brother (Randle Henderson) in Amble, Northumberland. The postcard indicated that they had lost contact with their brother Archie who had emigrated to Canada and that she was planning to seek him out while on holiday. The Archie in question was their younger brother, Archibald Henderson, born 1907 at Amble in Northumberland.
The good news is that the search had a positive result. My grandparents met up with Archie in Canada. I know this now because the cousin who sent me the scan of the postcard continued to dig in her family photo box and found another gem. On the back of this photo is “Your sister and brother, Maggie & Archie, hope it reaches you before boat sails.. Sent Harriet one too.” From this we can deduce that the photo is of my grandmother and her brother taken in Toronto late 1949, before she returned home to England, and that she sent two copies: one to her brother Randle and the other to her sister Harriet. We very probably have one in our own photo box, but as that would be her own copy it may not have his name on the back.
For several years I hunted for a headstone for my 3rd great grandparents, John Henderson (1811-1894) and Harriet Miller Newton (1814-1893).
I acquired their death certificates and knew that John drowned at Lesbury in 1874 and Harriet died in Amble in 1893. They could not be buried with other Henderson relatives in Amble West Cemetery as that opened in 1905, but I still kept my eyes open to see if they might have been mentioned on a subsequent memorial there. The death dates made it possible for Harriet to be in Amble East Cemetery, but that opened a little too late for John. However, I still had a wander round the cemetery and checked an online list of burials. No luck there either. My next thought was Warkworth St. Lawrence’s Church. There were Hendersons there too, but not this couple.
Then finally the penny dropped. There was another cemetery in Warkworth too, on the road up to the beach. There they were, together with two of their boys: Henry Henderson (1846-1871) and Archibald Henderson (1836-1874) – so easy to find once I finally got myself into the right place. It must have been tough on Harriet as she lost her son Archibald only 4 months after losing her husband.
My 3rd great grandfather John Henderson has had me running round in circles for about five years. The 1851 census told me he was born about 1812 in Cullercoats. I traced and followed several John Hendersons from the Tynemouth area without making the correct connection. Initially I was not observant enough to pick up on the conflicting birth place of Haydon Bridge shown in the 1871 census. After purchasing his death certificate I set off on the trail of a John Henderson baptized about 1811 in Haydon Bridge. Since the family were non-conformist I assumed that my problems in finding him meant that he was baptized in a Presbyterian or Methodist chapel somewhere in that area. After several years of banging my head against this brick wall I tried a new tack and took a closer look at his siblings. There was slow process there too, but finally I decided that Archibald Henderson baptized in Haydon Bridge could be his brother. This gave parents Archibald and Jane, so I set off in pursuit of other children who might share these parents. This lead me to two baptisms in Kirkwhelpington in 1813 for Ruth and John. My immediate reaction was that this ruled out this family as belonging to my John due to the date discrepancy. No further information was forthcoming online so I was stuck again. On my next visit to the Northumberland Archives I dug out the Kirkwhelpington records to view these baptisms on 19 December 1813 and I struck gold. The minister had made an annotation in the margin of the register which told me: “John born 1811 Haydon Bridge. How lucky can you get?