or 'The ancestor who refuses to be found'
Brick walls – we all have them, even experienced genealogists who have been researching their families for decades are likely to have come up against an immoveable obstacle that resolutely refuses to budge. Although research will naturally reach a point where the records run out, those that hover around the statutory registration and census periods are particularly annoying, as one way or another a solution, or at least a theory, should be possible to find.
Not so with a 2 times great grandmother of my own, Ann Ross, who adamantly refuses to give up her ancestral history, and is frankly making the family tree look somewhat lopsided! Every now and then I go back to her and do a bit more digging in the hope that inspiration will strike but invariably come away disappointed. It may seem odd to be writing about what is essentially a failure, but I thought others in the same position may be interested in a few of the methods and thought processes I use to successfully resolve cases like these, even though in this instance it has yet to produce a result. On many occasions the devil is most definitely in the detail!
Reliability of Sources
One of the first things to consider when dealing with a ‘problematic’ ancestor is to assess the facts known about the person and the reliability of the sources. It is also worth remembering that whilst records of life events and the census remain the foundation stones on which to build an ancestor’s story, there are many other potential places where reliable information can be found. Some of these may even be among your family’s personal possessions, or in the possession of others researching the same ancestral lines. They often say far more about a person and their character than an official record can too.
In the case of Ann Ross most of what I knew before I started digging came from my grandmother’s personal knowledge. Although Ann and her husband John Davison a printer in Alnwick, had both died before she was born, granny would often talk about her paternal spinster aunts, Sarah Ann and Mary Ogilvie Davison, whom she knew extremely well. Following the death of their father John in 1895, the aunts together with their widowed mother moved from the printing works at St Michael’s Pant to a little house at No 2 Croft Place, Alnwick. Of Ann herself, if my memory serves me correctly, granny spoke very little, other than imparting the fact she was Scottish, not a total surprise given her surname and the middle Christian name of one of her known daughters!
In terms of reliability of the source, everything Gran told me about her family history has to date proved to be ‘spot on’ – but did she know everything, and even so was some information perhaps held back?
One piece of information that came to light relatively recently was evidence that there had been another child, a son, who had died as a youngster. He was distinctively named William Tulloch Davison and had been born in second quarter of 1852 and died aged 3 on 27th January 1856. Further evidence perhaps of Ann’s Scottish heritage? It is always worth double checking for other children born to a couple, even if they died young, as their names may hold some vital clues, or indicate naming patterns. In this case William may well have been named for John’s father, but what about Tulloch? Every marriage combination of Ross, Davison, Ogilvie and Tulloch has thus far drawn a blank in terms of a viable potential connection for Ann. However, it is important to think beyond the immediately preceding generation – surnames used as Christian names often refer to grandparents or even further back still.
The Marriage Certificate
John Davison and Ann Ross had married at the Register Office in Alnwick on the 1st July 1851. She was described as 24 years old, a spinster, of no occupation, the daughter of John Ross a Shoemaker and a resident of Alnwick at the time of her marriage. Witnesses to the marriage were Mary Gilroy, John Davison’s married sister, and a David Geggie, possibly a cabinet maker in the town, whose wife’s maiden name was Amory. There does not appear to have been a representative of Ann’s immediate family present. Neither father is noted as deceased, although William, John’s father is thought to have had died before 1841.
Eking out every last drop of information and potential clues in official documentation is essential in difficult cases or where there is a conflict of evidence. Sometimes taking a close look at the witnesses to the marriage can provide hints too, as can they place they were married. In this case the Register Office may point to one or more of the parties following a non-conformist faith. If Ann Ross was of Scottish descent she may well have been Presbyterian and would not have wanted to marry in an Anglican Church.
In terms of reliability, the marriage certificate is often the least reliable of the three. Folk tell ‘fibs’ about their ages, and be prepared for invented names and occupations of fathers! There are many reasons why this may be the case not just illegitimacy; it can indicate the child had little or no knowledge of the father, perhaps he had died young and the child had grown up in a second family, was a smoke screen for a clandestine affair or used to invent a more suitable background – I have encountered them all and more! Is Ann’s marriage certificate truthful? When taken collectively with other information, her age would certainly seem to be correct, but there is a lingering question mark about her father’s name and occupation, despite her second son being called John.
Post Marriage Census Records
In the census records following her marriage Ann states her age and place of birth as:
Although her place of birth varies, her age is relatively consistent and suggests a birth year of 1827/28. In terms of the reliability of census information it is worth bearing in mind that the person completing the return may not have had the specific knowledge of the birthplace of a spouse, visitor or even children if the family often moved. Therefore at times the information in a census may be a ‘best guess’.
As to the reliability of post marriage census records for Ann Ross: – her place of birth is mostly given as London and her age remains consistent so on balance it would seem reasonably reliable.
Ann has not been identified living in Alnwick or the surrounding countryside in either the 1841 or 1851 census nor is there any sign of a John Ross, shoemaker! For sure there are several Ross families resident in the area but none fit any known criteria beyond a common surname. The only John Ross that has been identified living in Middlesex during this time was a dentist born circa 1816 in Scotland. Ironically he is living at 9 Kings Terrace, Clerkenwell with what appears to be his brother James, in the same building as a William Ross, a bookbinder, and his family also born in Scotland circa 1811. They appear to be the only Ross family living in Middlesex in the 1841 census. William and family are still living in Clerkenwell in 1851 at 11 North Avenue and William’s place of birth is given as Kelso, Roxburghshire. From this information his parentage was traced to a George Ross, a Printer in Kelso and his wife Isabel Scott. Whilst this couple are most certainly not Ann’s parents and the location and occupation may be purely circumstantial, there may yet prove to be a connection, and then again it may just prove to be another wild goose chase!
As it stands Ann has yet to be found in either census predating her marriage. There are too may variant factors to consider; she may have working in a household away from her family, one or both her parents were deceased, or she was visiting friends or relatives, which when combined with a not uncommon name make it impossible to draw an adequate conclusion. To date it is thought that she came to Alnwick from London shortly before her marriage. It is known that her husband John prior to opening his own print works in Fenkle Street in 1855 had worked for a Mr Pike in printing houses both ‘North and the South’ – is this when he had met Ann?
George Pike, Printer and Bookbinder operated at that time from 37 Market Street, the premises to which John Davison and his family would relocate in the 1860s and where they would remain until circa 1937.
Death & Burial
Ann Ross died on 21st April 1902 and her age recorded at death was 75. She is buried with her husband John and their two daughters in the family plot No. A353, in a block for non-conformists in Alnwick South Road Cemetery. (Many thanks to Ian Hopper at the Cemetery Lodge for pointing out on the location on a map and where it lies as there is no headstone marking the grave.) This confirms that the family were indeed non-conformist and whilst I do not have the baptisms of John and Ann’s children to confirm their religion, it is interesting to note those of John’s sister Mary Gilroy took place at the Alnwick Unitarian Chapel (or Ebenezer Unitarian Meeting House) in the Parish of Alnwick.
Much of the information contained in Alnwick’s various non-conformist Church records is not yet digitised or available online – certainly not post 1838, but many of the records are available to consult at the Northumberland Record Office at Woodhorn.
Birth or Baptism Record
As Ann was born circa 1827/28 some ten years before the introduction of statutory registration introduced in 1837, (and even then registering a birth did not become law until 1874), the best record of her birth that could possibly be found is her baptism. On the basis of her age at marriage, given in census returns, and at death, the best estimate for her birth would be the second quarter of 1828. Needless to say no baptism record has yet been identified. As she is thought to have been non-conformist, her baptism is also unlikely to be found in Parish records. I say unlikely, as some parishes did record the vital events of ‘dissenters’ in their registers, but in the main the only place where non-conformist registers can be found is in the National Archives Series Code RG. Many of these records have been digitised and are available through The Genealogist.
I can hear you asking ‘surely DNA has provided some answers’? Well, actually as yet it hasn’t! The biggest issue faced with trying to find clues within the DNA matches of myself and my brother is that we are the only living descendants of Ann Ross. Furthermore, we do not know if Ann had any siblings – if she had then we are looking at mutual common ancestors in her parents, who would be our 3rd great grandparents. This would mean that realistically the closest living relatives we could have in Ann’s line would be 4th cousins. If Ann was an only child, or the only child of her parents to have children then we are looking a generation further back again and to 5th cousin matches and a generation about which we have virtually no knowledge. As a result any matches that are lurking out there are potentially going to be quite small. Whilst we both have a few known Davison matches they are no use in this particular quest as they all descend from John’s sister Mary Gilroy and therefore will not carry any Ross DNA. In summary there is just not enough information out there at present from which to draw any sort of conclusion!
Ann Ross left no will herself and the wills of her two daughters Sarah Ann and Mary Ogilvie Davison which were both proved in London hold no clues whatsoever. The only will that I do not have as yet is that of Ann’s son John. Primarily this was because until a few days ago I had no idea when and where he had actually died, only that he passed away before my father was born. As his wife died in Northumberland ten years later I was unaware they had left the area. Once it had been found courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive it certainly came as a bit of surprise!
The motto here is always to expect the unexpected!
Mary Ogilvie Davison
Is it possible that Mary hold the key to this mystery? Just where was she on the night of 3rd April 1881 when the census was recorded? – she certainly wasn’t at home! My efforts to trace her have not borne fruit as yet – but then there are quite a few Mary Davisons listed in the 1881 census! The images used in this blog have been taken from Mary’s personal sketch book which is now in my care and features many paintings and illustrations not just by herself but also other people. It appears the album was begun in 1880/81 and the last entry is dated 1899. Whilst many of the pictures are just initialled, including one by her brother John, an H.R, a P.R. and a J.G.R also feature – could the ‘R’ possibly be for Ross? Other contributors have signed their names such as G Wilson, R Dodds, but there is one that stands out, Tom Paish in 1886 – just who was he?
 William Davison was a witness at the baptism of his grandsons William Gilroy in 1829, and James Gilroy in 1830 but was not present in 1841 census. The Gilroy family were Unitarians.
 The Genealogist.co.uk Non Parochial BMD Database RG4: Non-parochial Registers 1567-1858,RG5: Protestant Dissenters' Registry,RG6: Quaker Registers 1578-1841,RG7: Fleet Marriages 1667-1777,RG8: Non-Parochial & Miscellaneous Registers,RG32: Registers Abroad and on British & Foreign Ships 1831-1969,RG33: Foreign Registers & Returns 1627-1960,RG34: Worldwide Foreign Marriage Returns 1826-1921,RG35: General Register Office: Miscellaneous Foreign Death Returns - 1791-1921,RG36: Registers & Returns in the Protectorates etc of Africa & Asia,BT158: Registers compiled from Ships' Official logs of passengers at sea 1854-1908,BT159: Registers of Deaths at sea of British and other nationalities 1875-1888,BT160: Registers of Births at sea of British Nationals 1875-1891
Other useful Links for Alnwick
Durham Records Online database contains the burials for St Michaels Parish Church in Alnwick.
Family Search Wiki Page contains a comprehensive list of resources for researching ancestors from Alnwick
Non Conformist records from The National Archive Code RG series are available through The Genealogist
Last month Rosemary Dixon-Smith looked at the story of the ‘Redeswire Affray’ and how stories recounting this Border skirmish may have circulated amongst her ancestors in 19th century Northumberland. Here she was alluding to the ‘oral tradition’ which is the means by which events of the past have been verbally perpetuated into the present, particularly amongst local communities. Many of us will have encountered it in our family history too! However, over time embellishments and omissions often mean that the truth, although still there, has become distorted and is somewhat harder to piece together.
So what IS history? Simply put it is the study of past events, particularly in human affairs or a series of past events connected to a person or thing. It is perhaps the origin of the word that provides a more practical definition. ‘History’ as derived from the Greek ‘Historia’ – meaning 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation' – is the past, as it is described in written documents. The period before the existence of written accounts is therefore called ‘pre-history’.
Rosemary’s blog coincided with the annual Jedburgh’s Callants Festival and the Redeswire Rideout in early July. These Festivals and Civic Weeks hosted by many Scottish Border towns run throughout the summer and celebrate their unique identities, individuality and the roles their town played in the history of the Border. They culminate in Coldstream with the Flodden Rideout to Branxton Hill and the service of remembrance for the men of both nations that fell at the Battle of Flodden which took place in 1513. For those who have not heard of the Battle, it was a crushing defeat for the Scots, whose King, James IV was slain along with many of the Scottish nobility at the hands of the English. It might seem strange then that such an event should be remembered with such passion 5 centuries on, particularly by the side that essentially lost. But then the Borders and indeed the Battle itself remain a bit of an enigma!
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of Flodden. As a youngster the annual pilgrimage made around Christmas time to Tithe Hill, the then home of my grandfather’s sister Mary and her husband Willie Davidson, which lies almost adjacent to Branxton Hill. As my interest in family history grew I became aware of historic farming connections in land to the east that faced the battle site and over which the English army undoubtedly trod as it marched to meet the Scots on that fateful day. Aside from the connection to the Greys of He[a]ton who held the estate from circa the 13th century, a paternal 5th great grandmother penned her last will and Testament at the farm of New Heaton on 5th May 1814. She was Isabella Pringle, twice widowed and the last surviving child of John Pringle of Fenton & Kippy. Isabella had married Ralph Coxon in 1767 and following his death in 1768, married secondly, Edward Mole, with whom she had 4 known children. Edward Mole died in 1790 and Isabella was appointed administratrix of his estate with Edward Anderson of Glanton and Thomas Vardy of Rothill standing surety for the penal bond of £560. In 1804 Isabella’s last remaining brother John Pringle died intestate at New Heaton on 10th January 1802. Isabella was again appointed administratrix by the court, but on this occasion in addition to Edward Anderson (junior) of Glanton, (Senior had died in 1799), Edward Pringle of Snitter stood surety to the rather heftier penal sum of £18,000, or some £1.2 million in today’s terms. Undoubtedly there was a familial connection between the various parties, some of which are known and for others the exact details still need to be conclusively established and are therefore, the subject of ongoing investigations.
As chance would have it, I myself came to farm at New Heaton through marriage, at which point elements of my past and present collided. It was then with my feet firmly planted on the ground that the English army may well have passed, and with the battlefield in places in full view, that my interest in Flodden was reignited.
This interest was then cemented through a project of voluntary re-examination of some of the original documents pertaining to the Battle preceding the quincentennary commemorations in 2013. However, the project was naturally limited as to the number of documents it could cover, and therefore in many ways left more questions unanswered than it solved. When combined with the history of area of the region in the early 16th century it was only natural that other aspects of the Flodden campaign should form the topic of my prize winning MLitt dissertation ‘Food for Thought’. A 24 page document containing quantities of corn purchased and shipped from Hull to Newcastle for the English army formed part of the primary evidence in support of that specific ‘argument’. However, the document alone was insufficient to test the theory and required evidence drawn from other sources, such as corn imports, rent rolls and archaeological findings.
Now that the dissertation is behind me, my interest in the history of the area and events surrounding the campaign has not diminished but rather, the evidence uncovered through the research has prompted me to challenge long established theories still further. Mainstream accounts of the English army’s route of approach skirting around New Heaton to the east rather than either passing through it, or skirting it to the west, makes very little sense at all, armed as I am with a first hand working knowledge of the terrain.
Most accounts state that Surrey outflanked the Scottish army, and suggest his intention was to take Branxton Hill himself, and from there to engage on more equal terms with the Scots who had been dug in on the facing Flodden Hill. Yet the approach route that is shown, which roughly follows the line of the road from Tillmouth to the A697 today, crosses land that would have a) been in view b) crosses other areas of potential bog and c) necessitates the English army navigating a second area of bog below Pallinsburn and then marching directly in front of the entire Scottish army to take its position.
There are many books on the market that look at the campaign from different angles. However, a glance at the footnotes, endnotes or bibliography clearly show that the same old sources are rolled out time and time again. More annoying still is that the majority of the sources cited refer to the ‘Calendars of State Papers’ rather than the original documents themselves. The ‘Calendars’ are summarised extracts of document contents. In some cases they are extensively condensed and barring a couple of salient points bear little resemblance to the full contents of the original. Whilst useful for pinpointing primary documentary sources that may contain information of interest, they cannot be considered primary sources in their own right. Yet, time and time again the same condensed extracts are interpreted, quoted and cited – of course it is far quicker and easier than ploughing through pages and pages of 16th century script – but by doing so, they are at the mercy of the compiler of Calendar’s own opinion as to what is important and what is not. Furthermore, not all documents have even been ‘calendared’. There will doubtless be more clues and evidence as yet lying undiscovered in the collections held by The National Archives.
View of supposed English approach from Pallinsburn. Etal Castle is clearly visible. From this angle and position which is also taken from the mid-Scottish Line, it is clear to see that the land falls away and without the trees a body of men would have been in clear sight. The ridge of hills in the background have Berwick at their eastern foot.
Clearly some authors have actually visited the battle site (which is a bonus) and chapters of their books are adorned with bonny photographic plates. However, I have yet to see one that has looked at the Battlefield from the English perspective much beyond the view from Pipers Hill. There are few with pictures taken from the hill itself looking towards the terrain of the English approach, but alternative approach routes themselves have not been considered. The only account I have read to date to challenge this established route is ‘The Battle of Flodden and the Raids of 1513’ written by a Col. Fitzwilliam Elliott in 1911.
Had the authors done so, one landmark in particular would have stood above all others and possibly prompted further investigation. It is the hill that stands roughly in the centre of New Heaton, at the top of the ‘Noddens’ – standing at some 306 meters. Today it is a Trig Point and more obvious because of the wood that stand on its summit. To either side the land drops away; to the south the steading of New Heaton sits in a dip before rising up again to a ridge of 260 meters in height which runs in a similar trajectory to the hills above Branxton before sloping away just beyond Marldown and Cramond Hill. This ridge forms a false skyline when viewed from the approximated lines of the Scottish troops; to the north of the Noddens, the land again dips away into a valley at the bottom of which runs an old By-way known as Muggers Loan, which runs along the course of the Oxendean Burn.
To my mind for the outflanking manoeuvre, as it so often described, to have been successfully achieved, the route of at least a substantial body of the army, would more likely have passed through either Donaldson’s Lodge or New Heaton. Two possible routes through New Heaton are the line of Muggers Loan where the army could have passed unseen until it emerged around the bottom of Cramond Hill or Marldown, or, along what is now known as the ‘Thrieprig’ track, where again a body of men would have been hidden behind the false skyline, only emerging on the top of the ridge near Marldown. A view that was clearly shared in part by Col. Elliott in 1911. By approaching the field from this direction would also have eliminated the necessity to negotiate the boggy ground below Pallinsburn. An approach taking any other route from the crossing point of the River Till would have been, at least in part, clearly visible to the Scots. If Branxton Hill was indeed the objective then the alternative routes are also the shortest.
That they travelled unseen is suggested in Hall’s Chronicle by the Lord Admiral sending his ‘Agnus Dei’ to his father alerting him to the fact the Scots had changed position. This would certainly infer that both the Admiral and his father travelled with the Scottish army out of their field of vision, as it moved from its encampment on Flodden Hill to that of Branxton. However, the same paragraph mentions the Admiral first had sight of the Scots army after crossing the burn at ‘Sandyfford’. The only Sandyford to my knowledge lies to the east of Crookham, and if Hall is to be believed, this would contradict my earlier the theory in every way.
The Admiral’s father the Earl was reported to have been at his east again, which makes even less sense if the objective was Branxton Hill and the battle was fought on the site alleged. The Sandyford burn runs north into the Till, to cross it from the east heading west the Admiral is most unlikely to have crossed the Till at Twizell Bridge. Furthermore why would he? Travelling via Sandyford would also have added approximately another mile to the Pallinsburn route. It would however, have made (a little) more sense if Surrey’s objective was not Branxton Hill at all, but to have engaged with the Scots in their original position.
The inability of the English to see the Scottish position is attributed by Hall to a veil of smoke from fires deliberately lit in the Scot’s camp. With a prevailing westerly the smoke could not have covered the Scots as they moved position. If not, the the veil of smoke would surely have been between the English at Sandyford and Branxton and thus obliterated the view?
There are three main contemporary accounts which are referred to time and again; the ‘Articles of Battle’ although unsigned, looks to have been written by the Admiral himself, The Trewe Encounter and Hall’s Chronicle. The battle is also mentioned in various pieces of correspondence including a letter written from Bishop Ruthal to Wolsey on 20th September 1513. Herein lies a problem in itself as all of the accounts (with the exception of Ruthal) are attributed to the Howards, their followers, or on behalf of the King and none agree in the detail. They were mounted (Hall), they were on foot (Ruthal), they travelled from 5am to 4pm (Hall) and 8 miles to the Battle (Ruthal) etc. The latter is an impossibility if they travelled via Twizell as it is 7.4 miles in a straight line from Barmoor to Twizell alone, with approximately another 5 miles to the Field had they travelled via Pallinsburn as suggested. However as the crow flies, and had the army (or part of it) crossed the Till around Etal the distance from Barmoor to Branxton is approximately 7 miles.
Regardless of the historical project, the ability to transcribe, read and understand historic manuscripts is only half of the challenge, the remainder being the ability to interpret and contextualise their contents. It is necessary to raise the further questions of; by whom, why, where, when and for whom each ‘document’ was written. The ‘by whom’ and ‘for whom’ are clearly important factors when considering the various accounts of the battle. When referring to any primary written source, an assessment of the reliability and motives of the author are of paramount importance.
In the case of Flodden what has been left unsaid is as important as what has been ‘documented’. There is no record of Surrey’s original intent, whether that be to station his army on Branxton Hill, or to engage with the Scots in their original position. Then again, by not recording the aims of the manoeuvre, the leaders of the English army could not be admonished had those aims not been achieved. A great many of the details of the final day remain unknown, open to interpretation and opinion, which is not helped by the lack of archaeological evidence. With the exception of reports of a couple of cannon balls, one of which was allegedly found on the slopes of Marldown (what could it have been doing there?) and other unsubstantiated finds, no archaeological evidence has been found to date that places the battle in its current location. Of course there are many reasons why this could be the case – one being the documentary evidence in the form of accounts of armour being stripped from the bodies of the fallen and sold from the field – where money is concerned there is usually more than an element of truth – the other is that prolonged agricultural activity and quarrying in the immediate area have obliterated what few artefacts that may have remained.
I am not suggesting that my own theories are necessarily correct, but knowing the terrain first hand as I do, they must at least proffer a viable alternative. As it stands it would appear the English Army of circa 20,000 fighting men, with their ordnance in tow, marched upwards of 14 miles, navigated difficult terrain en route, in the form of a gorge at Heaton Mill and a bog at Pallinsburn, and then began a battle at 4 o’clock in the afternoon from which, although significantly outnumbered and having had nothing to eat for a couple of days, they emerged victorious.
History is in the main just that – ‘his story’, after all what could a mere woman possibly know of tactics, terrain and common sense. The history of war-fare still remains a male preserve. However, there is a reason the saying tells us to go to the horse’s mouth and not its backend! Speaking of which, a trick was clearing missed in failing to interview the last known survivor of the Battle – one Henry Jenkins, who died in 1670 aged 169 years!
Now that really IS a canny story!
(Postscript - we sold New Heaton in 2011, nonetheless I still look directly onto Branxton Hill today. Ironically, today it is from where I receive my internet signal!)
 Sir Thomas Grey of Heaton wrote the medieval history ‘Scalachronica’ whilst a prisoner of War in Scotland. Any King examines the work in some depth in his MA Thesis of 1998. King, Andy (1998) Sir Thomas Gray's Scalacronica: a medieval chronicle and its historical and literary context, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/4842/
 Patience Anderson sister of Edward Anderson senior married John Grey in 1767, before purchasing Middle Ord they lived at Old Heaton. Edward Pringle of Snitter’s wife was Margaret Vardy. Two of Edward Pringles children married Re[a]dhead siblings. Numerous connections between Pringle, Thompson, Hogg , Coxon and Readhead. Only familial connection not proven Isabella Pringle to Edward of Snitter.
 Accounts of Richard Gough E101 56 28.
 Col. Fitzwilliam Elliott, 'The Battle of Flodden and the Raids of 1513'
 ‘Mugger’ is the old word for Gypsy or Tinker.
 Hall Chronicle https://archive.org/details/hallschronicleco00halluoft/page/560
 This same reference seems to have caused some confusion for the Battlefield Trust too. See page 8.
If, like me you are trying to track down your Pringle Forebears, a first step may be to contact the Clan Pringle Association where you will find more details on how to join both the Association and also the Pringle DNA project.
As the 2019 Common Riding season is now well underway which sees many Border towns celebrate their unique but common heritage as they ride their historic boundaries throughout summer, this month’s guest post written by Rosemary Dixon – Smith could not be more appropriate. Initially I had thought of writing an introduction to her piece, but then thought no, and my reasons for this are tri-fold. To begin with, Rosemary (Mole) is a first rate genealogist and family historian based in South Africa. Secondly, she will need no introduction to regular readers of my blog, as she first acquainted us with her own Smith Family of Northumberland back in June 2016. Thirdly, her article stands so well on its own it does not require any preamble from me! In reading it, I hope that readers will be inspired to adopt Rosemary’s principle and take some time to think ‘outside of the box’ when researching their own family history. I have merely added some notes and links that may be of interest or use at the end.
Smiths at Fenwick and the last Border Raid
Moles Genealogy Blog Though South African ancestry is of particular interest to me, there are no boundaries in family history. I have traced my own and other peoples' ancestors in the UK, Canada, US, Australia,and Europe. My special field is Natal - settler families, maritime history, Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer Wars; favourite pursuits: dating photographs, costume history, the history of slavery, lighthouses, history of India and the Indian diaspora, explorers, missionaries, ships; shipwrecks, British history, militaria. Comments on my blog or questions welcomed.
If you a question for Rosemary or would like to contact her you can do so here
Edward Stamp was the son of Thomas Stamp and Mary Nicholson born circa 1813 in Alnwick. He was a Master Mariner and ‘industrialist’ who in the 1860’s became involved in the Canadian lumber business in British Columbia. A memorial plaque mounted on a rock in Stanley Park Vancouver reads
Captain Edward Stamp
Pioneer Industrialist and Legislator started lumbering operations, then finding a better site, he moved elsewhere on Burrard Inlet, and founded in the wilderness, now the City of Vancouver, the famous Hastings Sawmill 1865 
His biography states that
Donkin would have passed into obscurity had he not published, a year after his return to England, an account of his experiences under the title Trooper and Redskin in the far north-west: recollections of life in the North-West Mounted Police, Canada, 1884–1888. As an ordinary constable he had served during the rebellion, come into close contact with Riel, and lived the life of a mounted policeman in the early years of western settlement. His book, however, contains little of the self-glorification, heroism, and romance that is characteristic of most literature of the period on the NWMP. From the moment he arrived on the prairies, Donkin was struck by the contrast between his own experience and the way the country was portrayed by those “journalist globetrotters” who had set forth its “wondrous glories.” The result was an unembellished account of the daily routine of mounted police life, the harshness of the climate, the rude prairie settlements, and the loneliness of police detachments. With an eye for detail, Donkin described his experiences in a candid and critical manner, leaving behind a valuable record not only of the NWMP but also of western Canada at an important period in its development.
This was the first legislative recognition that the state was responsible for the safety and well-being of emigrants leaving the British Isles. The Act regulated the number of passengers that could be carried on a ship, determined the amount of space allocated to them, and required the provision of food and water for the voyage. While based on earlier legislation, the 1828 Act was the true foundation of British and colonial legislation, designed to protect emigrants from unscrupulous shipowners and shipmasters and from the perils of the North Atlantic crossing.
… promised productive soil, adequate rainfall, a good growing season, bountiful crops and a healthy climate. Such words as "cold" and "snow" were universally banned from the pamphlets in favour of the more positive terms "invigorating" and "bracing." With their colourful covers and attractive photographs, the pamphlets visually reaffirmed the Prairie West as a land of prosperity and happiness.
 Stanley Park Vancouver,
 The Dictionary of Canadian Biography, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/stamp_edward_10E.html
 Dictionary of Canadian Biography http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/donkin_john_george_11E.html
 RCMPVets Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RCMPVets/posts/homeless-veteran-left-account-of-christmas-eve-in-the-early-mounted-police-winni/981513715243338/
 Library and Archives Canada http://www.collectionscanada.ca/immigrants/021017-2111-e.html
 Library and Archives of Canada http://www.collectionscanada.ca/immigrants/021017-1100-e.html
 The Ships List http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/Arrivals/1834b.shtml
Many just want to test their 'admixture' or, as Ancestry calls it 'ethnicity', which represents the ancient migratory paths taken by our ancestors. Others are keen to use 'cousin matching' to reconnect with lost family members. Whatever your motives are for testing, do take some time to consider the potential downsides and the emotional upset it may cause before you 'spit'. A while ago, Margaret Ross contacted me for a little help which did lead to a revelation which could potentially have caused a great deal of family upset. I suggested she write about her experience so that others may be forewarned. She very kindly agreed. I hope you all enjoy the read.
Identity and the Pitfalls of DNA Testing
by Margaret Ross.
“Amaze yourself … find new relatives you never knew existed” (My Heritage)
“Confirm family history and traditions” (FTDNA)
As my research got under way, I became more interested in locating the diaspora than going straight up my direct lines. In the nineteenth century numerous siblings of my ancestors (mostly agricultural labourers or mariners) emigrated from the British Isles to make new, and hopefully better lives for themselves and their descendants. Others went overseas with the military or colonial service. It has been fascinating to discover how they succeeded, where their thousands of descendants live, and to have contact with far-flung family members.
Four years ago, I was given an Ancestry DNA test to help me dig deeper into my family history. I put a note on my Ancestry Member’s page to say I’d tested, including details of my GEDmatch number. I gave my closest cousins kits to help identify where my matches fitted into our tree. But there were several lines where I had to try to persuade newly-discovered, overseas cousins to take the test. As far as I was aware, this was unsuccessful.
Last month I discovered a new tree on Ancestry which had incomplete details of some of my ancestors. I left a note for the tree owner, not expecting any response. Luckily, he replied immediately, saying that he had looked at my member’s page, and was surprised that we did not show as DNA matches, because we were third cousins (3C) sharing great-great-grandparents. Nor did I match a kit he managed for my second cousin once removed (2C1R) in the same line.
Alarm bells began to ring in my head. This is one of the largest group of relations in my tree, a group which is very proud of – and partly identifies with – our shared Celtic heritage. It was one where I’d been trying to persuade cousins to test on Ancestry. I gave my new contact the names of DNA-confirmed cousins of mine in this line and a link to Blaine Bettinger’s Shared cM tool. There were too many relevant cousins in his DNA matches to list: he opened his matches to me so I could check for myself.
Instantly, I could see that I had succeeded in persuading cousins to do DNA testing with Ancestry! At least 50 of his matches were on my own paper tree at 3C2R or closer. But neither I nor my own confirmed cousins on that side matched anyone in this family. It was obvious that our shared paper trail was wrong; there was no way we were related.
Neither my new contact nor I could identify at least eight close mutual matches he had with his known cousins in this line. The mutual matches he had with each of these eight invariably included most of the rest of that group. They all had a distinctly different ethnicity from his known cousins. My assumption was that their trees could lead me to whoever was his great-grandfather if that was not my x2 great-uncle. Given these doubts, I felt the least I could do was try to find the true parentage. I needed to identify someone of the right sex (male) who was travelling through or living in the correct isolated, rural location in the Rockies over a period of at least 15 years.
It would have been inappropriate for me to contact any of this group, and certainly my newly discovered “Not 3C” wouldn’t want to. Only one had a public tree linked to their DNA, with 21 people in it. Another three had unlinked trees with one, five and 25 people. Three had no trees but one had a locked tree of around 450. I noticed that this DNA match was managed by Susie Douglas of Borders Ancestry, a professional genealogist living here in Scotland whose blog we follow in this household. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to contact Susie in case she was puzzling as much over her matches with my “cousins” as I was over her match to my erstwhile family.
Whilst I was waiting for a reply from Susie, I started building a “quick and dirty” tree for each of these unknown matches. I saw that the two closest, both at 3C level, had the same surname as a further possible 3C whose linked tree revealed the name behind her alias. This suggested to me that the three were siblings, maybe researching their history after one or both parents had died. An Ancestry search on their father’s name brought up a recent result in the Find A Grave Index where hyperlinks enabled me to build back several generations on both sides of their family. I had no idea to which side my “cousin” connected but suspected it was through the paternal line. Another match in this group (unlinked tree) descended from a line with that name spelled differently.
With the help of Google and comparing the two very small unlinked trees, I discovered that two distant matches for my “cousin” were themselves first cousins. I built back their shared ancestral line for several generations, once more with no idea where I should be concentrating. At that stage I could not join up the two first sets of matches. Although my own search was not relevant to Susie’s research, she very generously worked up a few ancestral lines in a “quick and dirty” tree for this set of matches. She provided me with the surnames of their shared ancestors living in England and New Jersey, America back in the eighteenth century. Luckily for me, one of these names was the maiden name of a paternal great-grandmother of the three sibling 3C matches, suggesting that my “cousin’s” true ancestor was most likely one of her sons or, less likely, a brother.
I needed to study the census returns. The couple lived on the east side of North America and had four sons and two daughters. Based on relationship probability, I discounted the grandfather of the 3C matches, leaving three sons to research. One had died before some of the children had been born, another showed up consistently in all relevant records living in the east. However, the census showed that the second oldest son, a Government official, had moved to the Rockies sometime in the late 1880s. From that time until his death in the 1930s he lived within ten miles of my great-great uncle’s family and would have travelled extensively throughout the whole area as part of his Government duties. He never married.
I have no doubt that this man, not my great-grandmother’s brother, is the ancestor of the large group of people I hoped were my relatives. One of the children was given his mother’s first name. We shall never know which man fathered the only one of the children who was childless, and who had the same name as my great-grandmother’s mother, but they all had my ancestor’s surname. Their descendants share great pride in the farming and engineering projects the man they believe is their ancestor carried out in the area and he was without doubt a loving and caring, “hands-on” father and grandfather after a divorce, when their mother moved away.
After careful consideration, I told my cousin what I had discovered. He was very disappointed but, given his understanding of DNA testing, not really surprised. Together we have researched deeper into the history of the area at the turn of the twentieth century. There is the possibility that the man fathered other children locally; if he did, then this could further confuse anyone in either family undertaking a detailed analysis of their DNA results. The surprise is that none of my “not 3C”’s close relations has queried their results yet. His assumption is that finding out about ethnicity and health risks is more important for most of them. And those who do research the family do not go further back than two generations. At present, he is not inclined to share this story with them; he expects that some elderly relatives would be distraught to know the truth.
To end on a more positive note, we have now discovered that my “not 3C” is distantly related to both sides of my husband’s family, certainly through his paternal line and probably through his maternal line as well. He still has Celtic connections! This account only serves as reminder that DNA testing comes with the following caveats, albeit often tucked away in the small print …
(In Ancestry’s Privacy Statement)
“…may reveal you are related to someone unexpected, or that you are not related to someone in the way that you expected” (LivingDNA’s FAQs)
“… you may also experience surprises, such as unknown relatives that you and your family were not aware of”
(FTDNA’s Consent to Participate in Matching).
Robert Bolam 1952 - 30 March 2019
A brief look into an extraordinary farming family from Northumberland
Mr. Isaac BOLAM is living for the present on Mr. ATKINSON's farm with his two sisters, their brother, John BOLAM ----------- the farm, having run away to escape justice after many frauds and forgeries his effects were seized and sold but the ruin thereby brought upon the rest of the family seems to be rather affirmed by themselves than believed by their neighbours. One female servant lives with them who is Presbyterian They have four Bibles and three Prayer books.
In 1866, his brother George was farming at Horton Grange, but as a result of John’s untimely death relinquished the tenancy to concentrate on the family’s interests nearer home. George, aged 45 married a Catherine Hall in Edinburgh on 1st August 1873. Together the couple would have three children, George b. 1879, Catherine Annie b. 1882 and Johnina Jane b. 1885. In 1881 George was living and farming at Alwinton but by 1891 had taken up residence at the family farm of Fawdon. In 1893 George too met with an accident that would ultimately cause his death.
 Rothbury Bible census https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/NBL/Rothbury/Rothbury1816
 Bishops Transcripts for Ingram
Below is an outline of the Pedigree as published, supposedly linking the Carnaby families of Hexham to those of Great Tosson and Todburn:
My soule to Almighty god and body to be bu-
ried in Rodbury [Rothbury] Churchyard and I dispose
goods as followeth
I give to Ralph Carnaby son to Francis Car-
naby what house and lands I have in Rod-
bury at the tutoring of his father till he
come to years
I give to my daughter Cissely Pringle at
the end of the leas of Todburn five yeows
and lambs for her legacy
I give to my daughter Jane hardy at the
end of the said lease one why stirk
or thirty shilings of money for her legacy
I give to Ralph Pott one yeowe and a lamb
at the same time for his Legesy
I give to Jane Pott one why or forty of
money whether the executors hath a mind
to give her for her legacy
I give to Ane Carnaby wife to franke Carnaby
one yeow and a lambe at the same time
for her legacy
I give to franke Carnaby and Raiph Young
what husband worke geare is at the end
of this time to be equally divided be-
I leave Raiph Younge the farme
which I nowe injoy with what
Stocke theire is paying my debts
and Legacys afore mencioned and
to be my soll executor
This is my last will and Testament
being in perfect memory
his mark and sealle
Witnes our hands
Edward C Errington
The condition of this obligation is such that if the above bounden Anne Young widow … dos well & truly execute performe the last Will & Testament & Administer the goods and chattells of Ralph Carnaby (to the onely use benefit and behoofe during the minority of Ralph Young his grandchild & executor now in his minority) late of the parish of Longhorsley and of the diocese of Durham aforesaid And pay all the said deceased debts and Legacies as Lawe requireth…
Firstly, this Will clearly demonstrates that Ralph Carnaby junior is not the son of Ralph senior, but the son of a Francis Carnaby and his wife Ann. The age of Ralph at his burial in 1763 would suggest a birth date of circa 1695. It is therefore most likely that he is Ralph senior’s grandson, rather than his son as the history would suggest. It is through this line of descent that heritable freehold of lands in Rothbury passed. It was still in their possession according to the tithe commutations records of the mid nineteenth century, when ownership passed to the Boak family of Rothbury under the Will of Ralph Carnaby of Shawdon (2x great grandson of the testator) in 1842.
Ralph Young is named as a grandson in the above Bond and is also clearly in his minority. It is to him that his grandfather passes the ‘farm he now enjoys’ which was presumably the tenancy of Todburn.
Secondly, the will also confirms that Ralph senior had at least three married daughters viz: Cecily Pringle; Jane Hardy; and Ann Young (see above). The relationship of Ralph and Jane Potts to Ralph Carnaby senior is not given, but when other offspring and their subsequent marriages are taken into consideration there is strong possibility of a further blood connection through a cousin marriage in the next generation. Indeed, there are several other connections that appear to have been missed (even by GAS) that I have traced and are fairly obvious once you get to know the family. Needless to say, this has added approximately a further 30 individuals to the increasingly more complex tree. (To avoid this information appearing publicly elsewhere, incorrectly attributed and without acknowledgement it is available on request only).
(Image shows an English Mortuary Hilted Backsword dating from the English Civil War.) http://www.antiqueweaponstore.com/English%20Mortuary%20Hilted%20Backsword,%20ca.%201640.htm.)
Iron hilt with large oval plate guard featuring crudely chiseled floral decor and busts of Charles I; integrally forged knuckle bow and side bars screwed to the chiseled ovoid pommel (one detached where it joins the pommel); the side bars joined to the knuckle bow by a pair of diagonal bars. Short scrolled rear quillon; later leather-wrapped grip with twisted wire. Tapering straight single-edged 30 ½" blade with two narrow fullers at the back running nearly the full length; the point rounded. Sword shows much age and wear, as typically found, with pitting and an untouched nearly black patina overall. Common cavalry weapon used by both sides during the English Civil War. Overall length 36 3/4".
- His wife at the time of his death was called Mary
- He was owed money from a Francis Carnaby and Richard Carnaby both of Hexham by bond
- He had a mortgage on a house at Green Harbour Court, London.
- His nephew was William Carnaby of Tosson who had a wife named Barbara.
- He had a niece called Isabella by his brother John
- He had a sister called Mary who benefitted from money owed to him by a John Carnaby, plumber in Carlisle which on her death would benefit John’s children. (Was this plumber another relation?)
- He had a niece called Mary (no father named) and a niece called Jane the daughter of his brother Richard.
- He had a sister in law called Frances who was the wife of Thomas Liddell a Glover in Hexham.
- He leaves money to a Thomas Beadland of Haggerston but no relationship is given – possibly a servant as it closely followed by a bequest of '£10 to my black boy Wandoe', his present manservant.
- He was due money upon a South Sea bill. This was to be paid to his cousin Jane of Hexham, widow, for her children. He also had a cousin called Elizabeth Lisle, a nephew James Winsellow, (who had a daughter called Mary Winsellow) and a cousin called Barbara Ord a spinster
- Ralph Carnaby junior did not marry Ann Dobson until 1719 six years after Roger’s death
- The surviving Mary of this union who married Lionel Aynsley was not born until 1735.
Plymouth, Jan 8. Yesterday came in here the Hunter of and for London, Roger Carnaby, Master, from Virginia” Daily Courant (London, England), Tuesday, January 12, 1703; Issue 230. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
 Members of the Errington family were also recusants and known Jacobite activists. This particular branch farmed at Old Park, Netherwitton.
 Appointed plumber at St Mary’s in 1687, undertook leadwork on Tullie House, Abbey St in 1689. Dismissed by St Marys in 1713 for substandard work, reinstated in 1721. Son in 1717 worked on Carlisle Castle Downpipes. Father died 4 Oct 1742 aged 87. His children are mentioned in will of Roger Carnaby of Hexham dated 1713. Descendants of this Carlisle line married daughters of George Hare and Elizabeth Wright of Ingram. Is this Hare family related to the Hare family that married James Carnaby, Thomas Brewis and Thomas Collin in late 1700s and also potentially linked to the descendants of Francis Carnaby of Todburn?
- History of Northumberland Vol 4, Archive.org
- The research of Dr Annie Forster, held by Northumberland Archives, 22 Folders – Pedigrees (NRO. 1954/22 – 31), A synopsis of her papers can be found in Northern Catholic History, No.10, 1979.
- Sword Image and other information from 'The Antique Weapon Store'
- Other information has been drawn from the research of George Aynsley Smith which is held in the family's private Archive.
- Susannah EGERTON (1776- )
- Thomas EGERTON (1777-c. 1779)
- Jane EGERTON (1779- )
- Elizabeth EGERTON (1781-1865)
- Mary EGERTON (1788-1850)
- John EGERTON (1791-1881)
- James EGERTON (1793-1832)
- Lucretia EGERTON (1796-1861)
James’ older brother John was also a coach proprietor at the time of his brother’s untimely death. By 1827 he had moved from London to Brighton and was running a coach from the Spread Eagle Inn to Hastings.
- Frederick Egerton WOLEDGE (c. 1841-1883)
- William Egerton WOLEDGE (1842-1876)
- Emma Egerton WOLEDGE (1844- )
- Mary Egerton WOLEDGE (1845- )
- John Egerton WOLEDGE (1846- )
- Herbert Egerton WOLEDGE (1849- )
- Amelia Egerton WOLEDGE (1851- )
- Clara Egerton WOLEDGE (1852- )
- Earnest Egerton WOLEDGE (1854-1858)
- Percival Egerton WOLEDGE (1857-1928)
- Florence Egerton WOLEDGE (1857-1929)
- Mary Esther HINE (1842- )
- Alice HINE (c. 1844-1925)
- Henry William HINE (c. 1845- )
- Elizabeth Mary HINE (1846- )
- Marian HINE (c. 1848-1937)
- Frederick James Egerton HINE (c. 1849- )
- William Egerton HINE (1851- )
- Alfred HINE (c. 1853-c. 1864)
- Mary Gertrude HINE (c. 1855- )
- Frances Isabel Egerton HINE (1857-c. 1857)
- Frances Katherine Egerton HINE (1858- )
- Arthur Roffey Egerton HINE (1860-c. 1861)
- Edith Egerton HINE (1861-c. 1864)
- Ethel Mary Egerton HINE (1863- )
- Maud Egerton HINE (1867- )
 Arts & Crafts Network https://www.accn.org.uk/Ethel-Blount-Maude-King/
 Peasant Arts http://peasant-arts.blogspot.com/p/introduction.html
The awful and sudden death of a near relation of ours at Shawdon Wood House happened with that great thunderstorm on the 14th and 15th of this present month to Miss Barbara Donkin, Mr Donkin’s only daughter and niece to Ralph and John Carnaby who are own cousins to us
Died on Wednesday last our Friend and Cousin Ralph Carnaby Esq, of Shawdon Wood House a very stout and gross made man I should say nearly 20 stones but a real worthy character. A man I should say, never did ill to no person, but a good natured peaceable person long steward for the Hargreaves family of Shawdon, and I should say by them much regretted, he has left only brother John who was an attorney some time in Morpeth … R Carnaby formerly lived at Todburn who was born then his father James Carnaby married my mother’s younger sister they farmed Todburn, Hedley Wood and the West Field near Rothbury before they left for Shawdon … the only surviving of the family is John, a very quiet and inoffensive man but not brought up to Farming, consequently he will leave the place on May first and retire to some quiet place to spend the remainder of his days.
Died at Whittingham on Wednesday 7th February John Carnaby Esq our cousin …it is said he has left his property which is said 15 or 20,000 to Dr Trotter of Morpeth, should it be so, it is said he was not capable of of making his will but the Dr had haunted him him to settle his affairs upon the Hargreave family of Shawdon, how that may be time will determine, he has no relative but our family and more strange, never sent word that he was dead, or invited to his funeral!!!
An alarming and destructive fire took place at Shawdon Hall, the seat of W Pawson Esq on Sunday last… But the Hand of Providence is sure and retribution cometh in due time, the family of Dr Trotter and Mr Smart of Sunderland swindled our family of the cash and goods belonged our cousins Carnabys effects!!!!
- Jean b. 1773
- George b. 1775
- Margaret b. 1777
- John b. 1779
- Helen b. 1782
- Esther b. 1786
- John b. 16.1.1806
- Catherine b. 1808 died 1819 buried at Stichill with her grandfather.
- Elizabeth (Betty) b.1810
- George b.1814
- William b. 1819 later of Coldside Farm.
George Smeaton (1814-89) was born in Berwickshire, studied at Edinburgh University, and was ordained to the ministry of the Church of Scotland at Falkland in Fife in 1839. He was among those hundreds of ministers who came out at the Disruption in 1843 to form the Free Church of Scotland, and later that year was inducted to Auchterarder Free Church. He was appointed to the Chair of Divinity at the Free Church College in Aberdeen in 1853, and in 1857 became Professor of New Testament Exegesis at New College, Edinburgh, holding this post until his death in 1889.
His works on the atonement for which he is best known – The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement and Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement – are published by the Trust, together with his The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
He left for New Zealand in 1878 where he taught school for several years. Smeaton then travelled to Australia where he spent ten years as a journalist before finally returning to Britain in 1893. Moving to Edinburgh, he began writing about Australian life and literature for various publications in Victorian Britain, including a multi-volume effort popularly known as the "Famous Scots Series". He also began writing several adventure and children's fiction novels such as By Adverse Winds (1895), Our Laddie (1897) and A Mystery Of The Pacific (1899).
John Smeaton (1806-1841), born at Hume, Berwickshire
Civil Engineer to the London Dock Co
1842 John Smeaton of the London Docks, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Was the familial association dreamed up by the young Smeaton’s father to inspire them? We shall never know but the legend has endured to this day. The reason why Esther was at Eglinton Castle in 1817 remains a mystery and as no records for Smeaton can be found in Ayreshire it will likely remain so.