Christ Church in Tynemouth was consecrated in 1668 and was the local place of worship for members of my family in Tynemouth, North Shields and Cullercoats. Many of my ancestors in that area were fisherfolk and seafarers. I am still trying to disentangle when they used Christ Church, when they used Tynemouth Priory and when they hopped over the river Tyne to St. Hilda’s in South Shields, Co. Durham. I visited Christ Church for the first time in my summer holidays and found it to be a picturesque setting. My visit was a little late in the day so I was unable to see inside the church. Most of the churchyard has been cleared and put to grass. The old headstones have been moved to form a boundary wall for the churchyard. This would have been positive, but for the fact that a high hedge has been planted in front of the headstones rather than behind. Very disappointed to think that some of my ancestors may be hidden from sight behind that hedge. Still living in doubt as to who is lurking behind that hedge and who may have been moved to another location such as Preston Cemetery.
Oh, where is the boatman, my bonny hinny?
Oh, where is the boatman? bring him to me
To ferry me over the tyne to my honey,
And I will remember the boatman and thee
I am finding an increasing number of relatives in the 1700s who found their better halves on opposite sides of the River Tyne. People who lived in Cullercoats and married in South Shields or lived in North Shields and found their partner in Boldon. I understand that before full dredging operations were implemented that it was possible to walk across the river at low tide, so maybe this explains how easy it was to find a spouse in the next county.
During my summer holidays I visited the Cullercoats Family History Research Group to see if they could help me with my Henderson, Miller, Newton and Oliver families from that area.
They are a very hospitable group of folks. They have local information and photos organised both by surname and by street. Worth a drop-in if you have Cullercoats ancestors. They are open on Monday afternoons and evenings at the Community Centre on Belle Vue Street.
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?
I started out focussing on the family element of family history, but have now progressed to considering the history aspect too. With the exception of Romans and Vikings I was never particularly interested in history as a subject at school, so my knowledge of the history of the past two or three centuries is seriously lacking. As I have added new people to my tree I have tried to find out more about the historical context in which they lived their lives. This has given me much more insight into the transition from an agricultural society to the industrial age and also the timeline of events in the first World War. One of the most interesting pieces of historical research has been looking into where the Northumberland Fusiliers served in 1915 and 1916 to track the path of my great uncle Edmund Webb from enlistment at Amble to his death in battle at Flers-Courcelette.
Moving on from history to genealogy I can claim four H-names in my pedigree. All four come from my mother’s half of the tree.
H is for Hall
H is for Hedley
Another of my pedigree H lines is Hedley. I have not found quite so many of them. They too have lived in the Elsdon area and I found them by following up the Hall line.
H is for Henderson
The closest of my H pedigree lines is Henderson, to be found in Amble and Cullercoats. My maternal grandmother was a Henderson.
H is for Hunter
My final pedigree H is Hunter. Yet another Elsdon connection found by tracking back up the Hall line.
If you would like to know more about this alphabet challenge or read other bloggers’ H-contributions take a look at Family history through the alphabet.
I was planning to figure out where my Cullercoats ancestors might be buried before my next trip to Northumberland so I could plan a photo shoot. However, a chance conversation with a friend who mentioned that there was a cemetery near Billy Mill roundabout that he passes on his way to his allotment triggered my curiosity and answered my question. It turns out, after he has investigated further, that a section of Preston Cemetery has been set aside for headstones moved from Cullercoats. Does not sound very promising with respect to legibility, but there could be some little research gems hidden under the ivy. Among the names I will be looking for there are Henderson, Newton and Miller.
A late addition to this post: Forgot to mention before I hit the publish button that the post title not only reflects the topic, but was chosen because the friend who checked this out for me likes Joe Cocker.
I have added another 5 local books that have helped my genealogy research to my Publications used page. The pictures of old Northumberland help to develop a better understanding of the world my ancestors lived in. Topics include Amble, RAF Acklington, Tynemouth, Cullercoats and Alnwick.