Joseph Brown, my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, was baptised in Bellingham in April 1800. He was at least the third generation to live in that Northumberland village.
He married a girl called Jane from Ellington/Allington, Northumberland and they had their first child, Michael in 1823, who was baptised in Bellingham, in this ancient church with its ‘almost unique in England’ barrel roof.
One of my favourite things about Joseph is that when Michael was baptised the family were living in a place called Boggle Hole. Boggle Hole. Brilliant. In terms of place names that’s very hard to beat. I think it may have been where Bellingham Golf Club is now sited, or perhaps Hole Bastle. One to check out.
The other thing I love about Joseph’s life is that I know his precise occupation: more specifically than being an Ag. Lab. he was a horse-breaker, conjuring up images of him working in fields and courtyards. Overly romantic images of him working with horses in early morning Northumberland mists probably, but hey ho, they’re my images and better than picturing the lives of some of my other ancestors who worked in some pretty grim conditions down mines.
He and Jane went on to have 6 more children: Jane, Margaret, Elizabeth, Barbara, Joseph (my ancestor) and William. They moved east to what is now Newcastle-upon-Tyne, living in Cox Lodge and Elswick. Jane died in 1874; Joseph 7 years later in summer 1881.
This summer we’d hoped to go to Leeds, Yorkshire, to have a look in the villages where my Yorkshire ancestors lived. That didn’t work out as the weekend we needed coincided with the Tour de France and the only rooms left were unaffordable.
So we ended up in Northumberland, staying at the beautiful Leazes Head near Hexham. And I’m so glad we did; Northumberland was beautiful, and in family history terms it was also going back to my roots, seeing the villages and the old churches where they would have worshipped, maybe the pub we went to would have taken their money too. But I haven’t traced far enough back to confirm that any of the goods found at Hadrian’s Wall or the unbelievably vast Vindolanda Roman fort & village were family heirlooms!
Bellingham has a Heritage Centre which we visited, and I got to try on old 17th century armour and wave round a pike (much to my son’s embarrassment). I found out that my distant relatives, Dodds and Armstrongs may have been descended from border reiver clans. Hmmm. And I did chat with Rob who works in the centre and was really helpful; I hadn’t known that there was a big network of railways, but it tied into some of the history of my family. Great few days altogether!
© Text and photo copyright Lynne Black 24 October 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/joseph-brown-1st/