Northumbrian nostalgia weekend

Amusing myself at Oslo Gardermoen airport, waiting for a flight to Edinburgh. Heading “home” to Nothumberland for a long weekend to meet two Canadian cousins for the first time. Their visit will be a little shorter than originally planned as they are having to catch a later train up from London on Friday. The objective is to give them a little taste of their roots, but it will be a whirlwind tour. They are the daughter and granddaughter of my first cousin James Murray Ash (1943-2011), known to the family as Murray. Murray was born in Radcliffe, Northumberland to my aunt Mary Webb (1921-2011) and her Canadian husband Jimmy. Mary and Jimmy (James Murray Ash sr) met when he was stationed in England with the Canadian Airforce during WW2. They moved back to Toronto shortly after establishing a family, so I never had the pleasure of meeting my cousin Murray. Making up for that now by joining some of his family to show them where he was born and where my Aunty Mary worked at Alnwick Castle.

3 new topics on DNA

DNA plus paper menuI have added three new topics to my page DNA plus paper today:

  • Deciding which DNA tests to take
  • AncestryDNA circles
  • Alias Smith and Jones?

You can access them from the link in this post or from the menu line of Digging up the Ancients.

Just as an aside, the lady in the picture directly above the menu item is my great aunt, Dorothy Ann Crackett, (1888-1974). She was born in Choppington, Northumberland. She married Ralph Tweddle in 1909 and they lived most of their married life in Radcliffe, Northumberland. (Just realised that if you are looking at this on a tablet, then the menu item is under a different lady. Sorry folks, I will have to look at how to optimise for reading on other devices.)

28 Leslie Row, Radcliffe, Northumberland

granny-and-granda-webb.jpgA question from my Canadian 1C1R about her father’s origins triggered me to dig out this wonderful photo of my grandparents standing in the yard of their house in the colliery village of Radcliffe. Looking across the road from where they are standing they would see the communal water standpipe, the coalhouse, the outdoor “netty”, the midden and their garden. The picture was taken by brother at some stage after he left home, so I am guessing it can be dated close to the end of the 1960s. Radcliffe village was demolished in 1971 to make way for opencast coal mining. The whole community were moved to a new council estate in the neighbouring town of Amble.

The people in the picture are

  • My granda: Jonathan Doleman Webb, 1899 – 1981. Jonty was born in Stobswood and worked at Hauxley pit. His hobby was his garden and in particular growing prize leeks.
  • My granny: Margaret Jane Henderson, 1899 – 1982. Meggie was born in Amble and is related to the Henderson fishermen. She was very houseproud and could often be seen with a paintbrush in her hand, sprucing up her home.

113 years ago today

My granda, Jonathan Doleman Webb, was born 9 July 1899 at Radcliffe in Northumberland. I never heard anyone call him Jonathan. It was always Jont or Jonty. Jonty was an intelligent man, but growing up in a mining family in the early 1900s he had little opportunity for education and spent his working life down the pit. This photo shows him ready for work. Take a look at the kneepads for crawling through the pit and the carbide lamp hanging from his pocket. I scanned it in situ in the album because the caption underneath is written by my granny. I remember this bike. He used to call it “Sputnik”.

He never talked much about his childhood and now, knowing what my genealogy research has taught me, I realise it must have been a tough one. His Dad Robert Webb was a pitman, and from the few family tales that have survived was clearly not an easy man to live with. Jonty was only two and a half when his Mam, Mary Davis, died of surgical shock after suffering a brain tumour for 8 months. I can only assume that big sister Annetta, who was about 9 at the time, had to roll up her sleeves and help out with toddler Jonty and four year old Edmund. Five years later their Dad married a widow Isabella Sharp and by the time of the 1911 census father, stepmother and the two boys were together but Annetta had left home to live with other relatives. At 14 Jonty started his working life down the pit which continued until he retired from Hauxley Colliery. I suppose I can be thankful that his young age and his occupation in the mines spared him from WWI in which he lost his big brother Edmund.

88 years ago today

Edmund Webb – Amble West Cemetery – age 9 months

My Mam’s baby brother, Edmund Webb, died in Radcliffe in Northumberland on 11 May 1924. Edmund was only 9 months old when he died of broncho pneumonia. I remember my granny taking me to put flowers on two graves at Amble West Cemetery when I was little. One was her aunt, the other I believe to be that of her little boy. On my first photo shoot in the cemetery I had forgotten all about him, so I wasn’t even looking for him. I later sent my brother and nephew to follow my vague directions to find him, but they had no success. On a new trip this Easter I had a flash of inspiration and think I have found him. There is no name, but the “monument” fits very well with my childhood memories of place and size and follows the norm of older baby graves there being near the paths. So I hope this photo is of the right grave, but even if it isn’t, I think little Edmund still deserves a thought. There are no living relatives I can think of who knew him during his short life as his only surviving sister was born 6 years after his death.

My baby uncle Edmund shares his name with two others. My granda’s brother Edmund Webb (1897 to 1916) and my great great grandfather Edmund Webb who is one of my most frustrating brick walls. He was probably born around the 1830s, perhaps originates from Cornwall and then moved to Lancashire where he produced great granda Robert Webb who is also a mysterious chap. 2x great grandfather Edmund may have been a tin miner, a coal miner and a stonemason. If any of you out there have any ideas on how to pin him down I would be thrilled to hear from you. Drop me a comment and I will get back to you.

70 years ago today – 18th April

1942 – George Crackett & Peggy Webb

My Mam & Dad, George William Crackett & Margaret Jane Webb (George & Peggy) were married on 18 April 1942 at Amble Methodist Church. You can see from the attire that it was a wartime wedding, and the festivities were no doubt a little dampened by the loss of my Dad’s brother Syd just a couple of weeks earlier. The officiating minister at the wedding was great uncle Will (the Rev. William Robinson Turner) brother of my granny Crackett. Shortly after the wedding my Dad went off to serve in India for 3 years and my Mam returned to live with her parents in Radcliffe for the duration of the war.

81 years ago today

My great grandmother Mary Crackett, née Mary Parkinson, died 81 years ago today (19 March 1931) in Radcliffe, Northumberland. She was born 26 March 1852 and was just a week short of her 79th birthday when she died of senile decay. One of her living grandchildren remembers her as a rather stern woman which would seem to be consistent with photos of her later in life. Mary is the matriarch in the centre of the large family which is pictured in the banner of my blog.

Mary’s daughter-in-law Emily Crackett, née Emily Thompson shares the same death date 18 years later. Emily died in 1949 at age 75.