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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Hatches, Matches and Dispatches - What Do Certificates Tell Us ?

Northumberland and Durham Family History Society is holding a meeting in the Bell View Resource Centre, 33 West Street, Belford, Northumberland, NE70 7QF at 10am on 20 September titled 'Hatches, Matches and Dispatches - What Do Certificates Tell Us ?'

There are often problems with birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates whether you're looking at English or Scottish family history, so it's worth hearing what the speaker, Anthea Lang has to say.

On Sunday, 31 May next year, Borders Family History Society has a talk with a similar title, 'Hatches, Matches and Dispatches' but it will be given by Marjorie Gavin.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Another Member of John Hamilton Hall's Family Joins the Berwick Guild

My earlier articles about John Hamilton Hall, born in Coldstream on 22nd October 1799 were John Hamilton Hall - Dangerously Assumed to be Unique and John Hamilton Hall's Application to Join the East India Company.

I gave a talk about him in Berwick-upon-Tweed about 6 weeks ago and was asked lots of questions.
By a strange but happy coincidence, Linda Bankier, the archivist at Berwick Record Office informed me a few weeks later that one of John’s great great granddaughters was going to be admitted as a Freeman of Berwick Guild and she suggested that I go along to watch. It turns out that the Admission Ceremony is open for anyone to attend and it’s normal for the applicants’ family and friends to do so.

When I arrived at the Guildhall, I was greeted by the Halberdier dressed in a serge morning-suit; the applicants were having a walk-through of the ceremony so on his instruction I waited in the ante-chamber where the Chairman of the Guild was being enrobed.
The Ceremony is formal but friendly.
We stood. The Sergeant at Mace entered, bearing the Mace and was followed by the female Mayor wearing a suit of the same colour as the Halberdier and an ornate gold chain around her neck. She was accompanied by the Sheriff and the Town Clerk.
There was a speech by the Mayor, each of the 3 applicants stated their claim, the Town Clerk confirmed that the claim had been verified and the applicants' sponsor confirmed the identity of the applicant.
Each of the applicants, in turn claimant, took the Freemen's Oath, to uphold the law, the traditions of the Guild and take care of fellow Freemen's belongings.
The Mayor told the Town Clerk to enter the applicants' names in the Freemen's Roll and the applicants signed the book.
The Mayor and the Sheriff each addressed the meeting and the Chairman of the Guild welcomed the new Freemen, clothing them with the purple robes of a Berwick Freeman.
After the ceremony, there was lots of photography.
If you get the opportunity, it’s worth watching; the next ceremony is on 30th September.

More information on the Berwick Guild and the ceremony.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

John and Robert Brown, First Settlers of Berwick, Pennsylvania, USA

 In my blog, How Berwick, Pennsyslvania, USA, Got its Name, I asked if we can discover the first name and maiden surname of the wife, of John Brown or Robert Brown, as she was said to have come from Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Find A Grave has memorials to John, son of Robert and Mary McIntosh-BarrettJohn Brown, born 1760 died 1839, (which lists his wife as Amelia or Susan F.) and Robert Brown, died 1821, which lists his wife as Mary McIntosh-Barrett, died 1838.

On Family Search, I looked for John Brown and Robert Brown with various combinations of their birth, death, and residence but there are too many of them and I found no Mary McIntosh-Barrett, though lots of Mary McIntoshes and Mary Barretts, who died in 1838. There are no McIntosh-Barretts listed in FindMyPast.

Are this John and Robert Brown the first settlers of Berwick, Pennsylvania, USA ?

Mary McIntosh-Barrett was married to Charles Barrett who died in 1773, so her maiden name is presumably McIntosh, but I've not found a marriage to Robert Brown (except in 1873).

How Berwick, Pennsyslvania, USA, Got its Name

Thanks to Berwick St David's Masonic Lodge who sent me a link to Berwick, Pennsyslvania's history page.

In 1786, Evan Owen, an Englishman, decided to settle on the land which is now called Berwick. 

He persuaded fellow countrymen, John and Robert Brown to settle.   They called the settlement “Owensburg” but Owen renamed the land “Berwick” because the wife of one of the Brown brothers came from Berwick-upon-Tweed.

I wonder if we can discover this wife's first name and maiden surname and find her family in Berwick-upon-Tweed?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Which Berwick ?

Berwick-upon-Tweed town centre from the Elizabethan Ramparts
I was talking to Linda Bankier of Berwick Record Office about other places named Berwick and she told me some interesting stories about the confusion with the other Berwick in England, the place in East Sussex as well as some of the people who think that Berwick is still in Berwickshire (in Scotland).

We see Berwick-upon-Tweed called Berwick-on-Tweed, and most often Berwick but there are other places named Berwick in the world.

Berwick, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Berwick, Louisiana, USA
Berwick, Maine, USA
Berwick, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Berwick, New Brunswick, Canada
Berwick, Nova Scotia, Canada
Berwick, Ontario, Canada
Berwick, Otago, New Zealand
Berwick, Pennsylvania, USA
Berwick, South Africa
Berwick, Sussex, England
North Berwick, Scotland

Find A Grave says that Berwick, Louisiana, USA was named after Thomas Berwick (1740-1792), a surveyor from Pennsylvania and Wikipedia states that he was the first white settler to trek through the wilderness in that part of America.

According to the town history of Berwick, Nova Scotia, Canada, it's named after Berwick-upon-Tweed, the bear on the Canadian town's arms being taken from Berwick-upon-Tweed's arms.

Berwick, Pennsylvania is a twin town of Berwick-upon-Tweed and is named after Berwick-upon-Tweed.

According to Wikipedia, the Berwick suburb of Melbourne is named after Berwick-upon-Tweed, as was Berwick, Maine (perhaps due to the transported Scots prisoners of war from the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 ?)

The origins of Berwick, Sussex, England and North Berwick, Scotland suggest that like Berwick-upon-Tweed, the name Berwick is derived from the old English words 'bere' meaning barley and 'wic' meaning farmstead or settlement.

I'm disappointed that I haven't managed to find out about why these places were named Berwick:
Berwick, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Berwick, New Brunswick, Canada
Berwick, Ontario, Canada
Berwick, Otago, New Zealand
Berwick, South Africa
but I hope you'll leave me a comment below or send me a tweet @Berwick900.

I've probably left out several other places named Berwick and if that's the case, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

John Hamilton Hall's Application to Join the East India Company

In my blog, John Hamilton Hall - Dangerously Assumed to be Unique, I noted that the Guild records show the admittance of John Hamilton Hall on 24 October 1840, when his occupation was Capt, East India Company.
  1. How did he become a Captain in the East India Company ?
  2. What kind of Captain was he ?
  3. Where did he work or where was he stationed ?
The huge and powerful British East India Company was originally formed to trade with the East Indies but at different times traded not only in India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon), but also in Hong Kong, Burma, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. By 1840, the Company ruled large areas of India and other places with its own private army and navy exercising military power and assuming administrative functions which lasted until 1858.
After that, its military and administrative powers came under the rule of British colonial power  - the 'Government of India' and the records of the Company before 1858, and of the Government of India up to Indian independence in 1948 are collectively known as the India Office records housed by the British Library.

The Families In British India Society (FIBIS) have indexed a huge amount of the India Office records and their database search is easy to use.

I searched for John Hamilton Hall on FIBIS and was delighted to find a reference to a cadetship application, however, was it the right one ? FIBIS states that images are viewable at FindMyPast.

The record should be visible at Find My Past but isn't, it's missing; as I later found out by phoning the British Library, it got missed out of the digitisation.

However, the diligent British Library staff kindly photocopied the application.

It's a preprinted application form with blanks for answers.

Page 1 shows the application from John Hamilton Hall, as a Cadet for the Bombay Infantry, nominated by John Bladen Taylor at the recommendation of Stewart Marjoribanks. It's signed by JB Taylor and Stewart Marjoribanks and dated 27 April 1819. I've used italic below to indicate handwritten entries.

Page 2 asks questions
Question 1: Is the Signature to this Petition in your hand-writing ?
Answer: It is

Question 2: At what School have you been educated ?
Answer: Christ's Church School

Question 3: Of what nature has your education been ?
Answer: Classical Education

Question 4: What is the profession, situation,  and residence of your parents or nearest of kin ?
Answer:  My Father is a Physician and resides at Berwick upon Tweed

Question 5: Have you read the Terms upon which you enter the Company's Military Service ?
Answer:  I have

Page 3
Question 6: Who recommended you to John Bladen Taylor Esq for this nomination ?
Answer:  Stewart Marjoribanks Esq

I've left out questions 7 and 8 but note the applicant's signature.

It's followed by a handwritten letter:

My dear Sir,
           The bearer JH Hall is the young gentleman for whom you were kind enough to give me a Bombay Cadetship form
I always am,
My dear Sir,
27th April 1819
Yours  sincerely
S Marjoribanks

Also in the application are some preprinted forms:

Birth of John Hamilton Hall

Agreement by John Hamilton Hall's father, John Hall

Confirmation of nomination by Stewart Marjoribanks

British India was divided into three territories (called Presidencies): Bombay, Bengal and Madras.
Bombay covered the smallest area in the west of present-day India, extending through Sind and to the coastal area of what is now Pakistan and also included Aden (now Yemen).

I wondered whether John would have gone first to be trained at the East India Company Military Seminary (Addiscombe Military Seminary), Addiscombe, Croydon, Surrey but I don't see his name in the cadet records.

  1. Who was John Bladen Taylor ?
  2. Who was Stewart Marjoribanks ?
  3. Where was John Hall's house at Berwick-upon-Tweed ?
  4. Where was Christ's Church School ?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Bell Tower School, Berwick-Upon-Tweed

This is the last image in a set of photographs, relating to the McKay family of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, deposited in the Berwick Record Office.

The family lived in the Bell Tower area in the north end of Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

Bell Tower School ? (BRO2089/19)
Is this a school photograph ?
If so, is it Bell Tower School ?
We think the 3rd from right on bottom row is possibly a family member - do you agree ?
Do you recognise anyone on the photograph ?
There are no annotations and no indication of the reason for the photograph being taken.

For the other photographs, look at The McKay Family of Berwick-Upon-Tweed  and More Berwick-Upon-Tweed McKay Pictures.

Are you related to any of these McKays ?
These photographs, relating to the McKay family of Berwick-upon-Tweed, are in Berwick Record Office, waiting to be returned to the family.
If you can help us in any way to help track down descendants, do get in touch on 01289 301865 or leave a comment below.