Adam Hindmarsh, Northumberland shepherd made good

Photo of Alwinton by Peter Reed

Photo of Alwinton, Northumberland, by Peter Reed

Adam was born in 1797, the son of shepherd William Hindmarsh and his wife Margaret Grieve.  He was one of seven brothers and two sisters, but unlike his other brothers he seems to have suddenly taken the leap from small-scale shepherd to farming a large farm.

He was born at Carshope in Alwinton.  As I wrote in a post about his younger sister Jane, “Alwinton at that time had a population of 102 souls, a Norman church (St Michael and All Angels) for spiritual needs and a pub for worldly ones (the Rose and Thistle, some lovely views on their website). Now part of the Northumberland National Park, it looks like the area was beautiful but that Jane would have have had to get on with hard work in all weathers.  The Rose & Thistle website describes the nearest market town as Rothbury to the south east; Cragside stately home is nearby.”

Picture of River Coquet and Bygate Hall

River Coquet and (I believe) Bygate Hall, Harbottle, Northumberland, from Google Maps

As I don’t have access to many offline records relating to that period, the next online record I have is of his marriage to Hannah Thompson, in Alnham on 23 May 1828. 13 years after that, in the 1841 census, he’s working as a shepherd in Bygate Hall, Holystone, only about a mile away to the south east.

However, ten years later, the 1851 census finds him with a drastic change of circumstance.  He’s living at Little Ryle, and the census records that he has ‘200 acres of land, employing 12 labourers’.

Letting advert for Little Ryle Farm, Newcastle Journal, 1854, copyright British Newspaper Archive

Letting advert for Little Ryle Farm, Newcastle Journal, 1854, copyright British Newspaper Archive

Although there are a couple of mystery Hindmarsh men whose relationships I’m still to match up, I have found no concrete evidence yet that Adam and Hannah had children together.  There is however a tantalising shepherd recorded in a census called William and I wonder if he’s possibly a son from a possible previous marriage for Adam who’s he’s a few years older than Hannah.  But that’s still just a possibility, a theory to explore when I have access to the records.

Various census years find him with various nieces and nephews visiting or working for him, this has been helpful in working out connections to the Drummond and the Thompson families.  It helped to confirm a nephew of his, Alexander, whose father has presented the biggest challenge for mapping the Hindmarsh brothers and their families.

I found this newspaper advert for Adam and Hannah’s Little Ryle farm, so it looks likely they finished a let or sold their farm – now noted at 400 acres – in 1854.

Map image

Featherwood farm displaying on Streetmap

In 1861 census we see Adam and Hannah are living at Featherwood, a large farm by Rochester (still in Northumberland). If you look at the aerial view (grid ref NT 81524 03939) you’ll see the land round Featherwood is marked with military as well as farming scars.  A Roman Road marches past and there are sites of former camps just north of the farm.  Appearing less than half a mile – but almost two millennia later – there’s a Farm Bomb Blast Shelter immediately to the west.  This is listed by English Heritage for its significance in 20th century military development (for residents to shelter from artillery practice).  Inbetween those two eras, shepherds scattered sheepholds across the landscape.

In 1871 Adam and Hannah are still farming away at Featherwood.  Adam died soon after in spring 1872.  By 1881 Hannah was living in the small village Rochester, she died there two years later in 1883.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 15 January 2015
First published:

1 thought on “Adam Hindmarsh, Northumberland shepherd made good

  1. Pingback: Hannah Drummond and the mystery of Alexander Hindmarsh | starryblackness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s