Who Do You Think You Are?

Here are summaries of some of the lead industry family histories volunteers have discovered:

Forsters of Dukesfield Smelt Mill and the Dipton Mill

The lead smelters shift patterns of 4 days on & 4 days off created opportunities for additional work. George Forster, for example, smelted at Dukesfield and also kept the Dipton Mill pub a few miles away in Hexhamshire. His obituary of 1822 noted how he had worked at Dukesfield for 30 years: “The 3d inst. at Dipton, Hexhamshire aged 58 Mr George Forster, upwards of 30 years in the employment of Col. Beaumont, at Dukesfield Smelt Mill and for that time never lost an hour’s work by sickness or neglect” (Newcastle Courant, 11 May 1822). Robert Forster of Bellingham was delighted to find George in his family tree, and also to find that several other Forsters, wives, fathers, sons, and cousins ran the Dipton Mill for many years in the 19th century.

William Forster who was the publican at Dipton Mill in 1861 is not the brother of John Forster who was publican in 1871 – in fact they may only have been half cousins. Their common ancestor (and mine) is George Forster (b1703 Dotland). He had two sons John (1737) who is my 4g grandfather and George (1733). John (1737) had two sons – Joseph (1760) and John (1764) who was my 3g grandfather. Joseph (1760) has a son William (1801). He was landlord at Dipton in 1861 – and appears to have died before 1871. William mined lead at Plunderheath near Haydon Bridge in 1851. George (1733.) had a son George (1769) and I think he is the man who served the Beaumont’s at Dukesfield for 30 years without sickness or neglect and was also the Dipton Mill publican in the early 1800s. He had a son George (1808) who in 1851 works from Dipton Mill as a smelter, in 1861 farms Nicholas Hall, and in 1871 is landlord of the Dipton Mill. He dies in 1876 and was buried at Whitley Chapel. I think his wife, Ann (Dickenson) holds the licence immediately afterwards. She and I share a common ancestor too – in this case Ann Martindale (1772) who was Ann’s grandmother and is my 4g grandmother. My conclusion is that William (1801) and John (1808) were half cousins – sharing the same great-grandfather George (1703)

Robert Forster

Whites of Acton, Allendale, farmers and miners

My gt gt gt grandfather John White was born around 1758. His father was William, and on John’s marriage record is described as William White of Corsenside. However to date I have been unable to discover any Whites in Corsenside. In 1787 he married Ann Bell of Knockshield, and in 1789 they are listed as living at Farr Style Burn. By 1792 they are living at Dryside, but by 1803 they had moved to Hagburngate where they stayed until buying Middle Acton, near Sinderhope, sometime between then and 1808. On his children’s baptism certificates in 1792 and 1799 he is described as a miner. (so far I have checked the bargain books for Allenheads and Wolfcleugh but not found him ; the search goes on!).

John had seven children: his elder son William died in 1821 (there are records of a carrier called William White). In 1841 second son John was living at Finney Hill and is described as a lead ore miner. By 1851 John junior is a farmer and his son is a lead ore miner. Fourth son Matthew married Mary Green of Allendale. I’m still tracing this branch but in 1851 a John Green who is either her nephew or half brother, is a lead ore smelter at Nenthead. John senior died in 1823, and fourth son Matthew then took over Middle Acton, but in 1850 the family moved to Westburnhope in Hexhamshire, owned by WB Beaumont, and rented Middle Acton out. In 1856 they took on Low Staples, also owned by the Beaumonts, but continued to farm Westburnhope. The first two years at Low Staples were rent free because the farm was in such a poor state, having apparently been empty for some time. Matthew died in 1873. A couple of years before he died there was a fire at Westburnhope: apparently they were boiling tar on the open fire (for the sheep?) and the thatch caught fire. They moved to Burnt Rigg, which is no longer there, while the house was being rebuilt. My aunt Betty still has the chair that Matthew was carried out of the house on!

After Matthew’s death his son Thomas continued to farm at Westburnhope until he retired in 1906. The family then gave Westburnhope up, and Thomas moved into Mire Meadows (where we live now and which he had bought in 1871). Matthew’s second son William, my great grandfather, farmed Low Staples and his son John farmed at Loadman. William died in 1908 and in his obituary in the Courant it was stated that they were the oldest tenants of Lord Allendale. William’s son Arthur (my grandfather) took over, followed by my father Clarence and now my brother Anthony.

William’s grandson Sid took on Steel Hall in c 1927, and it is still farmed by his son Derek and grandson Martin. Sid’s sister Marie lives at Juniper, and her daughter Joan at Edge House.

Gill Whatmough 23 March 2015

Blackburns of Dukesfield

My great-great-grandmother was Sarah Ann Blackburn, born in Slaley and baptised in the parish church on 27 Oct 1833, daughter of William and Jane Blackburn (nee Lishman). I discovered from census and parish records that William had worked as a woodman and lived at Dukesfield Hall, and that the family had lived there for at least 30 years. This is why I became involved in the Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project and took up the challenge of researching all of the Blackburns in the area and their possible connection with the lead trade – and there are a lot of them! There are still some loose ends to tie up but it looks as if the various branches of the family are all related to each other and link back to a marriage between just two distinct Blackburn families. Among this host of Blackburns there were indeed smelters and carriers who toiled for the Blackett lead business as well as farming their own plot of land. All of them distant relatives of mine:

John Blackburn (1825, Hollin Hill), Lead Ore Smelter in 1851 (1st cousin,5x removed)
Joseph Blackburn (1793) also of Hollin Hill, Smelter 1831-1841 (5x G-uncle)and his brother
Ralph Blackburn (1789), Smelter 1815-1841 (5x G-uncle)

I’ve yet to establish the involvement of my direct ancestor in the lead industry but I’m sure William’s woodmanship must have played a part, living as he did in Dukefield Hall which was built for the mill managers. Timber was used in the smelting process and was needed for props and supports in the mines. Who knows? Perhaps his wood was used to build carts and wheelbarrows, or handles for picks and shovels. Other Blackburns were carriers but there is insufficient evidence to identify exactly which Blackburn was which so I can’t pin it down to individuals.

Fascinating, but here’s more yet to discover and the search goes on.

Michael Murphy

Chatt family

Alan Stephenson’s summary of his findings on his Chatt ancestors can be viewed by clicking on the document below.

Chatt Family
319.6 KB
The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467