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.

Autosomal DNA relationship calculator

RJLOne of my distant genetic cousins is developing an autosomal DNA relationship  calculator. This is a work-in-progress at the moment, so he is happy to have folks test and offer suggestions on improvements. You can find more information about his development activities on Robert James Liguori’s Blog. Beta-testing of the basic functionality is now started and he is adding more Relationship Range Providers so that we can calculate with various theoretical assumptions as the basis.

Robert and I have a genetic relationship proven by DNA testing, but have yet to find the paper trail that will point us to our common ancestors. We know that they are on our respective maternal sides as we have an autosomal match between his mother and my maternal aunt. I rather suspect that these distant grandparents are lurking behind brick walls due to illegitimacy on both of our relevant ancestral lines. Best guess so far is that our ancestral paths crossed somewhere in Durham, Yorkshire or Lancashire. Possible names under investigation so far: Whitehead, Horsfield, Bailey, Shepherd, Mitchell, Manners, Webb.

Where to find my tree

TreeThe master version of my tree has been developed on my laptop using FTM (Family Tree Maker). I synchronise it regularly with my public tree on Ancestry: Crackett-Webb-Turner-Henderson. I also have versions of my tree on My Heritage,, genesreunited and a couple of other sites, but these versions are a little out of date.

If you are interested in my family, drop me a line and I will send you an invitation to view my tree on Ancestry. You do not need to have a subscription. It is possible to establish a free guest account if you want to view an existing tree.

Maternal Margarets and Marys

I have now added three more generations to my direct maternal line. Got stuck for a couple of years at Margaret Watson as the name was so common, but have now pinned her down. So far my maternal line is confined to Northumberland, but I expect it may cross the border to Scotland or hop over to Ireland if I can get further back. This is what I have at present, taking me back 8 generations to 6th great grandmother Margaret Brewhouse.
  • Margaret Jane Webb, 1921 -1999, born Radcliffe, Northumberland
  • Margaret Jane Henderson, 1899 – 1982, born Amble, Northumberland
  • Margaret Jane Thornton, 1871 – 1912, born Choppington, Northumberland
  • Mary Oliver, 1842 – 1911, born Netherton, Bedlington, Northumberland
  • Margaret Watson, 1818 – 1895, born Ulgham, Northumberland
  • Mary Hutchinson, 1791 – ?, born Felton, Northumberland
  • Mary Brown, 1769 – ?, born Felton, Northumberland
  • Margaret Brewhouse, bef 1747, probably somewhere around Felton, Northumberland, but could be from further North or from Scotland.
As you can see, my ancient grannies did not have much imagination in choosing Christian names for their girls. Thankful that my Mam decided to break the mould and I did not end up as the fourth in a row of Margaret Janes.

A granny-ism

I have spent the day in an office where the air conditioning seemed to be on strike. Since it was nearly 30C outside we were all starting to melt inside. This brought to mind something my granny Webb often said to us in the local dialect when we were “bairns”.

“Tekk ya jumpa off, a’m fair scumfished”.

It can be roughly translated to “Please remove your woollen outer garment, as I am feeling rather warm.” I never did manage to figure out how it would help her to cool down if I shed a layer of clothing, but I am sure there was logic in it somewhere :)

Norwegian Constitution Day

Norwegians dressed in bunad parading in front ...

Norwegians dressed in bunad parading in front of the royal family on May 17th. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

17 May is a public holiday in Norway to celebrate the signing of the Norwegian Constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814. A fantastic day when people dress up in their bunad (national costume, with local variations) and have parades and games. If you would like to know more about what folks get up to take a look at Norwegian Constitution Day.

This gives me an opportunity to mention that I actually have a handful of Norwegians in my family tree. The Hanson family of Lynemouth, Northumberland are “cousins” of my Granda Webb. Henry Hanson, born in 1879, was a Norwegian seaman who married Elizabeth Doleman in 1902. His father was also a Norwegian seaman named Hans August Hanson. I am still struggling to tie in the paper trail from the Dolemans and Hansons to my grandfather, but I remember being taken to visit the Hansons at Lynemouth when I was little and am sure they belong to us somehow.

New 2nd cousin-in-law

I have now found a new second cousin-in-law who I am hoping may be able to help me to figure out whether any of my living Spears or Smailes relatives have a treasure trove of documents from my Webb line hidden away in a cupboard. Maybe one step close to finding the clue that will knock down the brick wall behind Robert Webb and Edmund Webb.