The Battle of Corbridge, 918



Fans of the Bernard Cornwell Saxon Series of books and the popular Netflix adaptation “The Last Kingdom” will be well aware of the historical setting of the Battle of Corbridge.  It occurred around eight years after the Battle of Tettenhall (August 910) which was covered in the book “The Pagan Lord” and episode four of Season Four of The Last Kingdom. 

As with most events during this period, the records are scant and there is some debate on the exact date and location of the battle, the numbers involved and even if it was only one battle or two separate engagements.  What is known, based on references given in the Annals of Ulster and the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, is that a battle was fought between the Norse-Gael leader Ragnall ua Ímair and his allies against the forces of Constantine II, King of Alba (Scotland) and Ealdred I of Bamburgh. 

The description given in the Annals of Ulster suggests that the Norse-Gael army was divided into four columns.  The combined Scottish army managed to defeat the first three columns but was ambushed by the fourth.  It seems that, following some fierce fighting, the Scottish army managed to disengage in some order and the outcome was indecisive.

However, following the battle, the Vikings did not march north into Scotland and Ragnall was able to exploit the weakness of Northumbria and establish himself as de facto ruler of southern Northumbria, taking the City of York in 919 and proclaiming himself King.

The Battle Site

It is unknown exactly where the battle took place other than it was on the banks of the River Tyne around the area of Corbridge.

The British Isles in the 10th Century

Map showing England in the late 9th and early 10th Centuries

At the time of the Battle of Corbridge the British Isles was a splintered mosaic of separate Kingdoms.  Modern notions of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland did not yet exist (although soon would).  The Germanic Angles, Saxons and Jutes had settled in the British Isles between the 5th and 7th Centuries, following the decline of the Roman Empire, displacing native Celtic tribes and pushing them to the fringes of Cornwall, Wales, West Scotland, Ireland and the many islands along the west coast.  By the 9th Century, Anglo Saxon England (the collective name for the various Germanic settlers of the British Isles) was formed of several Kingdoms: Wessex in the Southwest, Kent, Sussex and Essex in the Southeast, East Anglia, Mercia from the Thames to the Midlands and Northumbria occupying the lands north of the River Humber up to the River Forth in Scotland.  In the 8th Century, Norse warriors known collectively as the Vikings began raiding the coast and rivers of the British Isles.  In the North East, raids on Lindisfarne and Jarrow are particularly well known.  This was followed by a concerted effort to settle in these newly won lands and they quickly carved out the lands known as “Dane Law”.  This separated and truncated the Anglo Saxon Kingdoms severely and effectively cut off and isolated Northumbria in the North.  Northumbria was further weakened under Viking and Scottish attacks and almost ceased to exist.  The Norse invaders were pagan, worshiping the panoply of Norse Gods.  The Christian Saxons feared and reviled them and took it upon themselves to rid the land of these heathens in a holy war.  It was a difficult task.  The Vikings were ruthless fighters and the Saxons, being fragmented, struggled to coordinate their efforts.  Alfred the Great (849 – 899) began the fight back and his son Edward the Elder and grandson Athelstan finally succeeded in neutralising the Viking threat and united the Anglo Saxon Kingdoms to form the fledgling Kingdom of England (Angle Land) in 924.  Saxon hegemony would not last long and in 142 years (in 1066) descendants of other Norse “Vikings”, the Normans, would succeed in invading England.

Who were the Norse-Gaels?

Often included under the blanket term “Vikings” (which can be misleading), the Norse-Gaels were a people of mixed Gaelic and Norse ancestry and culture who were descended from Vikings who settled in Ireland and Scotland.  Eventually the Viking roots would become ever more diluted, but they left a lasting influence on place names, especially in the Isle of Man and Outer Hebrides.  Norse-Gaelic surnames, such as MacIvor, MacAskill and MacCotter are vestiges of the Norse influence.

Map showing the heartlands of the Norse-Gaels

The Norse-Gaels dominated much of the Irish Sea, Scottish coastal regions and islands from the 9th to the 12th Centuries.  They founded the Kingdom of the Isles, the Kingdom of Dublin, The Lordship of Galloway (which is named after them) and briefly they ruled the Kingdom of York. 

The Ui Ímair (“the grandsons of Ímair” or Ivor the Boneless) were one of the greatest dynasties of the Viking age.  For a time, at their height, they were the most fearsome and wide-reaching power in the British Isles.

Ragnall ua Ímair (died 921) was a grandson of Ímair (Ivor) and probably grew up in Dublin.  He was likely expelled from Dublin in around 902 following attacks by the Kings of Leinster and Brega, which drove the Vikings out.  He is thought to have then moved to southern Scotland or the Isle of Mann before following his kinsman Sitric Cáech to attack and retake Dublin in 917.  Ragnall then left for England with aspirations to become King in Northumbria.  This led him to the Battle of Corbridge following which he did indeed proclaim himself King in York.  His rule was immediately challenged by a group of Christian Vikings who opposed his paganism.  Ragnall died in 921 and was succeeded by his kinsman Sitric Cáech.

What was the Kingdom of Alba?

The Kingdom of Alba refers to the Kingdom of Scotland between the deaths of Donald II in 900 and Alexander III in 1286.  The collapse of the Kingdom led directly to the Scottish Wars of Independence.  Constantine II (c900 – 943), who fought at the Battle of Corbridge, was the second king to be recognised as King of Alba.

Map showing the Kingdom of Alba

The Importance of Bamburgh

Bamburgh, known as Bebbanburg (named after the Saxon Queen Bebba) was an important settlement (perhaps the capital) of both the Kingdom of Bernicia and then the Kingdom of Northumbria (following the merging of Bernicia with Deira in the 7th Century).  Before the idea of “England” became a reality, the Saxon kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria were not united.  Following the defeat of Northumbrian forces by the Viking Great Heathen Army, at York in 867, the Kingdom of Northumbria was reduced to a rump state with most of their southern lands lost.  Bamburgh remained as a lonely outpost of Anglo Saxon Christianity surrounded by the Danes to the South and the Scottish Kingdoms to the West and North.  A fortress has existed on the site of Bamburgh Castle since Celtic times and, due to its elevated position and exploitation of natural defences, was all but impregnable before the age of gun powder. 

Who was Ealred of Bamburgh?  Following the deaths of Danes Eowils and Halfdan at the Battle of Tattenhall (910), Ealdred may have become ruler of what was left of Saxon Northumbria.  The Historia de Sancto Cuthberto states that Ealdred “was a friend of King Edward the Elder, as his father had been a favourite of Edwards father King Alfred the Great.”  Ealdred was driven from his lands by Ragnall ua Ímair sometime between 914 and 918.  He sought refuge at the court of Constantine II King of Scotland (Alba).  Following this he joined Constantine II to fight Ragnall at the Battle of Corbridge.  As the battle was inconclusive, Ealdred did not regain his former lands and in 927 he was one of the northern rulers to submit King Athelstan (Edward the Elders son).  He largely disappears from the sources after this and he is thought to have died sometime around 933.

Warfare in 10th Century Britain

Whilst we can’t know how the actual battle of Corbridge was fought, we can speculate. Battle in 10th Century Britain was a brutal and close quartered affair.  Most soldiers were not professionals but generally knew how to fight.  The shield wall was the most common battlefield tactic of the time, in which the two forces would form lines of locked shields before closing with the enemy to use short thrusting swords, axes and spears.  The two sides would slog it out pushing and shoving in unison until one side gave ground and broke the line.  Once a battle line was broken the army could easily be routed.

The fantasy depictions of this era, with warriors clad in studded, close fitting (and overly flattering) leather armour bedecked with a mass of fur around the shoulders is, alas, a myth (thanks Game of Thrones). As is the pointy helmet!

Shield Wall – The Last Kingdom

North East Victoria Cross Winners

This is a list of 25 soldiers and sailors from the north east who have received the highest award for bravery.  They are very interesting group of men who have showed supreme courage on the field of battle.  The list includes those who fought during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the Defence of Rorke’s Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War, World War 1 and World War 2.  It’s worth clicking on the links to find out a bit more about them.  Information sources include Wikipedia, London Gazette Archive and VCOnline.

Richard Wallace Annand (1914 – 2004)

Place of birth: South Shields, Tyne and Wear

Unit:  Durham Light Infantry

Rank (at time of VC action): 2nd Lieutenant

Conflict:  World War 2


For most conspicuous gallantry on the 15th–16th May 1940, when the platoon under his command was on the south side of the River Dyle, astride a blown bridge. During the night a strong attack was beaten off, but about 11 a.m. the enemy again launched a violent attack and pushed forward a bridging party into the sunken bottom of the river. Second Lieutenant Annand attacked this party, but when ammunition ran out he went forward himself over open ground, with total disregard for enemy mortar and machine-gun fire. Reaching the top of the bridge, he drove out the party below, inflicting over twenty casualties with hand grenades. Having been wounded he rejoined his platoon, had his wound dressed, and then carried on in command.

Richard Annand’s platoon sergeant said later “Mr Annand came to me at platoon headquarters and asked for a box of grenades as they could hear Jerry trying to repair the bridge. Off he went and he sure must have given them a lovely time because it wasn’t a great while before he was back for more.

During the evening another attack was launched and again Second Lieutenant Annand went forward with hand grenades and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. When the order to withdraw was received, he withdrew his platoon, but learning on the way back that his batman was wounded and had been left behind, he returned at once to the former position and brought him back in a wheelbarrow, before losing consciousness as the result of wounds.

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William Wilson Allen (1843 – 1896)

Place of birth:  Kyloe, Northumberland

Unit: 24th Regiment of Foot

Rank (at time of VC action): Corporal

Conflict:  Anglo-Zulu War


On the night of 22nd-23rd January 1879 under the command of Lieutenants Chard of the Royal Engineers, and Bromhead of the 24th, Corporal Allen and another man, Private Frederick Hitch were heavily involved in keeping communication open between the hospital and the barricades. During this action, Allen was wounded in the left shoulder, and briefly left the front line to get treatment. Their actions had already helped the patients to be withdrawn from the hospital safely, and having had their wounds dressed, they returned to action. Unable to bear arms due to his wounds, Allen joined with Hitch in distributing ammunition boxes around to their comrades throughout the night.

Allen was recommended for the Victoria Cross and his citation alongside Hitch was published in the London Gazette on 2nd May 1879. He was presented with his medal later that year on 9th December by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. Later he served as a Sergeant Instructor with the 3rd Militia Battalion in Brecon and the 4th Volunteer Battalion in Monmouth.

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Roland Boys Bradford (1892 – 1917)

Place of birth:  Witton Park, County Durham

Unit:  Durham Light Infantry

Rank (at time of VC action):  Lieutenant Colonel

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and good leadership in attack, whereby he saved the situation on the right flank of his Brigade and of the Division. Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford’s Battalion was in support. A leading Battalion having suffered very severe casualties, and the Commander wounded, its flank became dangerously exposed at close quarters to the enemy. Raked by machine-gun fire, the situation of the Battalion was critical. At the request of the wounded Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford asked permission to command the exposed Battalion in addition to his own. Permission granted, he at once proceeded to the foremost lines. By his fearless energy under fire of all description, and his skilful leadership of the two Battalions, regardless of all danger, he succeeded in rallying the attack, captured and defended the objective, and so secured the flank.

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George Nicholson Bradford (1887 – 1918)

Place of birth:  Witton Park, County Durham

Unit:  Royal Navy

Rank (at time of VC action):  Lieutenant Commander

Conflict:  Work War 1


For most conspicuous gallantry at Zeebrugge on the night of the 22nd–23rd April, 1918. This Officer was in command of the Naval Storming Parties embarked in Iris II. When Iris II proceeded alongside the Mole great difficulty was experienced in placing the parapet anchors owing to the motion of the ship. An attempt was made to land by the scaling ladders before the ship was secured. Lieutenant Claude E. K. Hawkings (late Erin) managed to get one ladder in position and actually reached the parapet, the ladder being crushed to pieces just as he stepped off it. This very gallant young officer was last seen defending himself with his revolver. He was killed on the parapet. Though securing the ship was not part of his duties, Lieut.-Commander Bradford climbed up the derrick, which carried a large parapet anchor and was rigged out over the port side; during this climb the ship was surging up and down and the derrick crashing on the Mole. Waiting his opportunity he jumped with the parapet anchor on to the Mole and placed it in position. Immediately after hooking on the parapet anchor Lieut.-Commander Bradford was riddled with bullets from machine guns and fell into the sea between the Mole and the ship. Attempts to recover his body failed. Lieut.-Commander Bradford’s action was one of absolute self-sacrifice; without a moment’s hesitation he went to certain death, recognising that in such action lay the only possible chance of securing Iris II and enabling her storming parties to land.

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Hugh Cairns (1896 – 1918)

Place of birth:  Ashington, Northumberland

Unit:  46th Battalion, CEF

Rank (at time of VC action):  Sergeant

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery before Valenciennes on 1st November, 1918, when a machine gun opened on his platoon. Without a moment’s hesitation Serjt. Hugh Cairns seized a Lewis gun and single-handed, in the face of direct fire, rushed the post, killed the crew of five, and captured the gun. Later, when the line was held up by machine-gun fire, he again rushed forward, killing 12 enemies and capturing 18 and two guns.

Subsequently, when the advance was held up by machine guns and field guns, although wounded, he led a small party to outflank them, killing many, forcing about 50 to surrender, and capturing all the guns. After consolidation, he went with a battle patrol to exploit Marly and forced 60 enemies to surrender. Whilst disarming this party he was severely wounded. Nevertheless, he opened fire and inflicted heavy losses. Finally, he was rushed by about 20 enemies and collapsed from weakness and loss of blood.

Throughout the operation, he showed the highest degree of valour, and his leadership greatly contributed to the success of the attack. He died on the 2nd November from wounds.

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Edward Colquhoun Charlton (1920 – 1945)

Place of birth:  Rowlands Gill, Gateshead

Unit:  Irish Guards

Rank (at time of VC action):  Guardsman
Conflict:  World War 2


In Germany on the morning of 21st April, 1945, Guardsman Charlton was co-driver in one tank of a troop which, with a platoon of infantry, seized the village of Wistedt. Shortly afterwards, the enemy attacked this position under cover of an artillery concentration and in great strength, comprising, as it later transpired, a battalion of the 15 Panzer Grenadiers supported by six self-propelled guns. All the tanks, including Guardsman Charlton’s, were hit; the infantry were hard pressed and in danger of being over-run.

Whereupon, entirely on his own initiative, Guardsman Charlton decided to counterattack the enemy. Quickly recovering the Browning from his damaged tank, he advanced up the road in full view of the enemy, firing the Browning from his hip. Such was the boldness of his attack and the intensity of his fire that he halted the leading enemy company, inflicting heavy casualties on them. This effort at the same time brought much needed relief to our own infantry.

For ten minutes Guardsman Charlton fired in this manner, until wounded in the left arm. Immediately, despite intense enemy fire, ‘he mounted his machine gun on a nearby fence, which he used to support his wounded left arm. He stood firing thus for a further ten minutes until he was again hit in the left arm which fell away shattered and useless.

Although twice wounded and suffering from Boss of blood, Guardsman Charlton again lifted his machine gun on to the fence, now having only one arm with which to fire and reload. Nevertheless, he still continued to inflict casualties on the enemy, until finally;” he was hit for the third time and collapsed. He died later of his wounds in enemy hands. The heroism and determination of this Guardsman in his self-imposed task were beyond all praise. Even his German captors were amazed at his valour.

Guardsman Charlton’s courageous and self-sacrificing action not only inflicted extremely heavy casualties on the enemy and retrieved his comrades from a desperate situation, but also enabled the position to be speedily recaptured.

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George Bell Chicken (1833 – 1860)

Place of birth:  Wallsend, Tyne and Wear

Unit:  Indian Naval Brigade

Rank (at time of VC action):  Master (Civilian Volunteer)

Conflict:  Indian Mutiny


Indian Naval Brigade. For great gallantry on the 27th September, 1858, at Suhejnee, near Peroo, in having charged into the middle of a considerable number of the rebels, who were preparing to rally and open fire upon the scattered pursuers. They were surrounded on all sides, but, fighting desperately, Mr. Chicken succeeded in killing five before he was cut. down himself. He would have been cut to pieces, had not some of the men of the 1st Bengal Police and 3rd Seikh Irregular Cavalry, dashed into the crowd to his rescue/and routed it, after killing several of the Enemy.

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Joseph Henry Collin (1893 – 1918)

Place of birth:  Jarrow, Tyne and Wear

Unit:  King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Rank (at time of VC action):  2nd Lieutenant

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice in action. After offering a long and gallant resistance against heavy odds in the Keep held by his platoon, this officer, with only five of his men remaining, slowly withdrew in the face of superior numbers, contesting every inch of the ground. The enemy were pressing him hard with bombs and machine-gun fire from close range. Single-handed 2nd Lt. Collin attacked the machine gun and team. After firing his revolver into the enemy, he seized a Mills grenade and threw it into the hostile team, putting the gun out of action, killing four of the team and wounding two others. Observing a second hostile machine gun firing, he took a Lewis gun, and selecting a high point of vantage on the parapet whence he could engage the gun, he, unaided, kept the enemy at bay until he fell mortally wounded. The heroic self-sacrifice of 2nd Lt. Collin was a magnificent example to all.

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Edward Cooper (1896 – 1985)

Place of birth:  Stockton-on-Tees

Unit:  King’s Royal Rifle Corps

Rank (at time of VC action):  Sergeant

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and initiative in attack. Enemy machine guns from a concrete blockhouse, 250 yards away, were holding up the advance of the battalion on his left, and were also causing heavy casualties to his own battalion. Sjt. Cooper, with four men, immediately rushed towards the blockhouse, though heavily fired on. About 100 yards distant he ordered his men to lie down and fire at the blockhouse. Finding this did not silence the machine guns, he immediately rushed forward straight at them and fired his revolver into an opening in the blockhouse. The machine guns ceased firing and the garrison surrendered. Seven machine guns and forty-five prisoners were captured in this blockhouse.

By this magnificent act of courage he undoubtedly saved what might have been a serious check to the whole advance, at the same time saving a great number of lives.

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Fredrick William Dobson (1886 – 1935)

Place of birth:  Ovingham, Northumberland

Unit:  Coldstream Guards

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  World War 1


For conspicuous gallantry at Chavanne (Aisne) on the 28th of September, in bringing into cover on two occasions, under heavy fire, wounded men who were lying exposed in the open.

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Dennis Donnini (1925 – 1945)

Place of birth:  Easington Colliery, County Durham

Unit:  Royal Scots Fusiliers

Rank (at time of VC action):  Fusilier

Conflict:  World War 2


In North-West Europe on 18th January, 1945, a Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers supported by tanks was the leading Battalion in the assault of the German position between the Rivers Roer and Maas. This consisted of a broad belt of minefields and wire on the other side of a stream.

As the result of a thaw the armour was unable to cross the stream and the infantry had to continue the assault without the support of the tanks. Fusilier Donnini’s platoon was ordered to attack a small village.

As they left their trenches the platoon came under concentrated machine gun and rifle fire from the houses and Fusilier Donnini was hit by a bullet in the head. After a few minutes he recovered consciousness, charged down thirty yards of open road and threw a ‘grenade into the nearest window.

The enemy fled through the gardens of four houses, closely pursued by Fusilier Donnini and the survivors of his platoon. Under heavy fire at seventy yards range Fusilier Donnini and two companions crossed an open space and reached the cover of a wooden barn, thirty yards from the enemy trenches.

Fusilier Donnini, still bleeding profusely from his wound, went into the open under intense close range fire and carried one of his companions, who had been wounded, into the barn. Taking a Bren gun he again went into the open, firing as he went.

He was wounded a second time but recovered and went on firing until a third bullet hit a grenade which he was carrying and killed him.

The superb gallantry and self-sacrifice of Fusilier Donnini drew the enemy fire away from his companions on to himself. As the result of this, the platoon were able to capture the position, accounting for thirty Germans and two machine guns.

Throughout this action, fought from beginning to end at point blank range, the dash, determination and magnificent courage of Fusilier Donnini enabled his comrades to overcome an enemy more than twice their own number.

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Basil John Douglas Guy (1882 – 1956)

Place of birth:  Bishop Auckland

Unit:  Royal Navy

Rank (at time of VC action):  Midshipman (on board HMS Barfleur)

Conflict:  Boxer Rebellion


On 13th July 1900, during the attack on Tientsin City, a very heavy cross-fire was brought to bear on the Naval Brigade, and there were several casualties. Among those who fell was an able seaman (name not quoted here), shot about 50 yards short of cover. Mr. Guy stopped with him, and, after seeing what the injury was, attempted to lift him up and carry him in, but was not strong enough, so after binding up the wound Mr. Guy ran to get assistance. In the mean time, the remainder of the company had passed in under cover, and the entire fire from the city wall was concentrated on Mr. Guy and the other man. Shortly after Mr. Guy had got in under cover the stretchers came up, and again Mr. Guy dashed out and assisted in placing the wounded man on the stretcher and carrying him in. The wounded man was however shot dead just as he was being carried into safety. During the whole time, a very heavy fire had been brought to bear upon Mr. Guy, and the ground around him was absolutely ploughed up.

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Michael Wilson Heaviside (1880 – 1939)

Place of birth:  Durham

Unit:  Durham Light Infantry

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.

When the Battalion was holding a block in the line a wounded man was observed about 2 p.m. in a shell hole some sixty yards in advance of our block and about forty yards from the enemy line. He was making signals of distress and holding up an empty water bottle. Owing to snipers and machine gun fire it was impossible, during daylight, to send out a stretcher party. But Pte. Heaviside at once volunteered to carry water and food to the wounded man, despite the enemy fire.

This he succeeded in doing, and found the man to be badly wounded and nearly demented with thirst.

He had lain out for four days and three nights, and the arrival of the water undoubtedly saved his life.

Pte. Heaviside, who is a stretcher bearer, succeeded the same evening, with the assistance of two comrades, in rescuing the wounded man.

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Stanley Elton Hollis (1912 – 1972)

Place of birth:  Middlesbrough

Unit:  Green Howards

Rank (at time of VC action):  Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant Major)

Conflict:  World War 2


In Normandy on 6 June 1944 Company Sergeant-Major Hollis went with his company commander to investigate two German pill-boxes which had been by-passed as the company moved inland from the beaches. “Hollis instantly rushed straight at the pillbox, firing his Sten gun into the first pill-box, He jumped on top of the pillbox, re-charged his magazine, threw a grenade in through the door and fired his Sten gun into it, killing two Germans and taking the remainder prisoners.

Later the same day… C.S.M. Hollis pushed right forward to engage the [field] gun with a PIAT [anti-tank weapon] from a house at 50 yards range… He later found that two of his men had stayed behind in the house…In full view of, the enemy who were continually firing at him, he went forward alone…distract their attention from the other men. Under cover of his diversion, the two men were able to get back.

Wherever the fighting was heaviest…[he]…appeared, displaying the utmost gallantry… It was largely through his heroism and resource that the Company’s objectives were gained and casualties were not heavier. ….he saved the lives of many of his men.

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James Bulmer Johnson (1889 – 1943)

Place of birth:  Widdrington, Northumberland

Unit:  The Northumberland Fusiliers

Rank (at time of VC action):  2nd Lieutenant

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty S.W. of Wez Macquart on the morning of 14th Oct, 1918, during operations by strong patrols.

He repelled frequent counter-attacks and for six hours under heavy fire he held back the enemy. When at length he was ordered to retire lie was the last to leave the advanced position, carrying a wounded man. Three times subsequently this officer returned and brought in badly wounded men under intense enemy machine-gun fire. His valour, cheerfulness and utter disregard of danger inspired all.

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Thomas Kenny (1882 – 1948)

Place of birth:  South Wingate, County Durham

Unit:  Durham Light Infantry

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the night of 4th November, 1915, near La Houssoie. When on patrol in a thick fog with Lieutenant Brown, 13th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, some Germans, who were lying out in a ditch in front of their parapet, opened fire and shot Lieutenant Brown through both thighs. Private Kenny, although heavily and repeatedly fired upon, crawled about for more than an hour with his wounded officer on his back, trying to find his way through the fog to our trenches. He refused more than once to go on alone, although told by Lieutenant Brown to do so. At last, when utterly exhausted, he came to a ditch which he recognised, placed Lieutenant Brown in it, and went to look for help. He found an officer and a few men of his battalion at a listening post, and after guiding them back, with their assistance Lieutenant Brown was brought in, although the Germans again opened heavy fire with rifles and machine-guns, and threw bombs at 30 yards distance. Private Kenny’s pluck, endurance and devotion to duty were beyond praise.

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Edward Lawson (1873 – 1955)

Place of birth:  Newcastle upon Tyne

Unit:  Gordon Highlanders

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  Tirah Campaign


The Gordon Highlanders. Private E. Lawson. During the attack on the Dargai Heights on the 20th October, 1897, Private Lawson carried Lieutenant K. Dingwall, the Gordon Highlanders (who was wounded and unable to move), out of a heavy fire, and subsequently returned and brought in Private McMillan, being himself wounded in two places.

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John Aidan Liddell (1888 – 1915)

Place of birth:  Newcastle upon Tyne

Unit:  No.7 Squadron RFC

Rank (at time of VC action):  Captain

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on 31st July, 1915. When on a flying reconnaissance over Ostend-Bruges-Ghent he was severely wounded (his right thigh being broken), which caused momentary unconsciousness, but by a great effort he recovered partial control after his machine had dropped nearly 3,000 feet, and notwithstanding his collapsed state succeeded, although continually fired at, in completing his course, and brought the aeroplane into our lines— half an hour after he had been wounded.

The difficulties experienced by this Officer in saving his machine, and the life of his observer, cannot be readily expressed, but as the control wheel and throttle control were smashed, and also one of the undercarriage struts, it would seem incredible that he could have accomplished his task.

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George Allan Maling (1888 – 1929)

Place of Birth:  Bisphopwearmouth (Sunderland), Tyne and Wear

Unit:  Royal Army Medical Corps (Medical Officer in the Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade)

Rank (at time of VC action):  Temporary Lieutenant

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the heavy fighting near Fauquissart on 25th September, 1915. Lieutenant Maling worked incessantly with untiring energy from 6.15 a.m. on the 25th till 8 a.m. on the 26th, collecting and treating in the open under heavy shell fire more than 300 men. At about 11 a.m. on the 25th he was flung down and temporarily stunned by the bursting of a large high explosive shell, which wounded his only assistant and killed several of his patients. A second shell soon after covered him and his instruments with debris, but his high courage and zeal never failed him and he continued his gallant work single-handed.

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William McNally (1894 – 1976)

Place of birth:  Murton, County Durham

Unit:  Green Howards

Rank (at time of VC action):  Sergeant

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery and skilful leading during the operations on the 27th October, 1918, across the Piave, when hie company was most seriously hindered in its advance by heavy machine-gun fire from the vicinity of some buildings on a flank. Utterly regardless of personal safety, he rushed the machine-gun post single-handed, killing the team and capturing the gun.

Later at Vazzola, on the 29th October, 1918, when his company, having crossed the Monticano River, came under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, Sjt. McNally immediately directed the fire of his platoon against the danger point, whilst he himself crept to the rear of the enemy position. Realising that a frontal attack would mean heavy losses, he, unaided, rushed the position, killing or putting to flight the garrison and capturing a machine gun.

On the same day, when holding a newly captured ditch, he was strongly counterattacked from both flanks. By his coolness and skill in controlling the fire of his party he frustrated the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy.

Throughout the whole operations his innumerable acts of gallantry set a high example to his men, and his leading was beyond all praise.

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Robert Newell (1835 – 1858)

Place of birth:  Seaham, County Durham

Unit:  9th Lancers

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  Indian Mutiny


For conspicuous gallantry at Lucknow, on the 19th of March, 1858, in going to the assistance of a comrade whose horse had fallen on bad ground, and bringing him away, under a heavy fire of musketry from a large body of the enemy.

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Henry Howey Robson (1894 – 1964)

Place of birth:  South Shields, Tyne and Wear

Unit:  Royal Scots

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery near Kemmel on the 14th December, 1914, during an attack on the German position, when he left his trench under a very heavy fire and rescued a wounded Non-commissioned Officer, and subsequently for making an attempt to bring another wounded man into cover, whilst exposed to a severe fire: In this attempt he was at once wounded, but persevered in his efforts until rendered helpless by being shot a second time.

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Richard Been Stannard (1902 – 1977)

Place of birth:  Blyth, Northumberland

Unit:  Royal Navy

Rank (at time of VC action):  Lieutenant (on board HMS Arab)

Conflict:  World War 2


The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the grant of the Victoria Cross to Lieutenant Richard Been Stannard, R.N.R., H.M.S. Arab, for outstanding valour and signal devotion to duty at Namsos. When enemy bombing attacks had set on fire many tons of hand grenades on Namsos wharf, with no shore water supply available, Lieutenant Stannard ran Arab’s bows against the wharf and held her there. Sending all but two of his crew aft, he then endeavoured for two hours to extinguish the fire with hoses from the forecastle. He persisted in this work till he had to give up the attempt as hopeless.

After helping other ships against air attacks, he placed his own damaged vessel under shelter of a cliff, landed his crew and those of two other trawlers, and established an armed camp. Here those off duty could rest while he attacked enemy aircraft which approached by day, and kept anti-submarine watch during the night.

When another trawler near-by was hit and set on fire by a bomb, he, with two others, boarded Arab and moved her 100 yards before the other vessel blew up. Finally, when leaving the fjord, he was attacked by a German bomber which ordered him to steer East or be sunk. He held on his course, reserved his fire till the enemy was within 800 yards, and then brought the aircraft down.

Throughout a period of five days Arab was subjected to 31 bombing attacks and the camp and Lewis gun positions ashore were repeatedly machine-gunned and bombed; yet the defensive position was so well planned that only one man was wounded.

Lieutenant Stannard ultimately brought his damaged ship back to an English port. His continuous gallantry in the presence of the enemy was magnificent, and his enterprise and resource not only caused losses to the Germans but saved his ship and many lives.

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Adam Herbert Wakenshaw (1914 – 1942)

Place of birth:  Newcastle upon Tyne

Unit:  Durham Light Infantry

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  World War 2


On the 27th June, 1942, south of Mersa Matruh, Private Wakenshaw was a member of the crew of a 2-pounder anti-tank gun. An enemy tracked vehicle towing a light gun came within short range. The gun crew opened fire and succeeded in immobilising the enemy vehicle. Another mobile gun came into action, killed or seriously wounded the crew manning the 2-pounder, including Private Wakenshaw, and silenced the 2-pounder. Under intense fire, Private Wakenshaw crawled back to his gun. Although his left arm was blown off, he loaded the gun with one arm and fired five more rounds, setting the tractor on fire and damaging the light gun. A direct hit on the ammunition finally killed him and destroyed the gun. This act of conspicuous gallantry prevented the enemy from using their light gun on the infantry Company which was only 200 yards away. It was through the self sacrifice and courageous devotion to duty of this infantry anti-tank gunner that the Company was enabled to withdraw and to embus in safety.

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Thomas Young (1895 – 1966)

Place of birth:  Boldon, Tyne and Wear

Unit:  Durham Light Infantry

Rank (at time of VC action):  Private

Conflict:  World War 1


For most conspicuous bravery in face of the enemy when acting as a stretcher-bearer. He showed throughout the whole course of the operations a most magnificent example of courage and devotion to duty. On nine different occasions he went out in front of our line in broad daylight under heavy rifle, machine gun and shell fire which was directed on him, and brought back wounded to safety, those too badly wounded to be moved before dressing he dressed under this harassing fire, and carried them unaided to our lines and safety; he rescued and saved nine lives in this manner.

His untiring energy, coupled with an absolute disregard of personal danger, and the great skill he showed in dealing with casualties, is beyond all praise. For five days Pte. Young worked unceasingly, evacuating wounded from seemingly impossible places.

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Christmas Ideas!

I’ve shared so many beautiful images of our historic Northeast since starting this blog. All of them have been taken from old books I have collected. I liked some of them so much I wanted to make them into prints to have in my home. They came out so well I decided to make some available to buy on my Redbubble site. The feedback I’ve had so far has been great. I don’t make much money from it (putting it mildly!) but I think they make great wall art and wanted to share them. If you fancy having a look and maybe getting one as a Christmas present (!) please do so here……

Robert Surtees, Antiquarian 

Robert Surtees was born in Durham in 1773. He was educated at Kepier School in Houghton – le – Spring (founded by Bernard Gilpin in 1574 and still going strong although in more modern premises!) before attending Christ Church, Oxford. He studied law but never went on to practice law instead opting to become a celebrated English historian and antiquary of his native County Durham. He spent most of his adult life at Mainforth Hall, near Sedgefield (the building was demolished in 1964 – He married Anne Robinson or Herrington in 1807 and had no children.He will be most remembered for his encyclopaedic work The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, published in 1816. The four volume tome is a descriptive history of most of the historic County Durham compiled from original record preserved in public repositories and private collections. He began this gargantuan labour in 1804 and the final volume was published, posthumously in 1840.

Robert suffered from sustained ill health throughout much of his life. He complained of a cold in January 1834 and following complications he died on 13th February 1834 with his wife by his side. He was buried at Bishop Middleham churchyard.

I managed to get an early edition of the first volume a few years ago and I’ve shared a few photographs below which give a flavour of its contents (totally biased towards Sunderland!). The full four volumes can be read online here along with many other digitised historical publications. Well worth a look!

The Siege and Capture of Newcastle

At this time 372 years a Covenanter army from Scotland under the command of Lord General Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven (spelt Lesley in the account below)and Lieutenant General James Livingstone, 1st Earl of Callander were storming Newcastle.  The City had been under siege since 15th August 1644.  The western half fell on 19th October and the commander of the Royalist garrison, Governor Sir John Marlay negotiated the surrender of the city on 21st October after retreating to the Castle Keep.  The fall of Newcastle to the forces of Parliament signalled the end of Royalist resistance in the North during the first phase of the English Civil War.

The following account of the siege and capture of Newcastle was published in March 1891 in the Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend.

If you want to find out more about the siege check out some of the events which are being held at Newcastle Castle to mark the anniversary.



One of the most important incidents in the great Civil War was the siege and sack of Newcastle by the Scots in 1644. The town was conspicuously loyal. The Scots Covenanters, who had been the first to declare openly against the unfortunate Charles, were the objects of mingled hatred and contempt there. The bulk of the gentlemen of Northumberland and Durham shared heartily in these feelings. When Charles visited Newcastle in May, 1639, on his march northward against the Scots, he was magnificently entertained by the Mayor and magistrates. “All the town,” writes Rushworth, “seemed but as one man against the Scots in case of an invasion.” The Mayor, Mr. Alexander Davidson, and the Town Clerk, Mr. Thomas Riddell (son of Sir Thomas Riddell, the Recorder), were knighted by his Majesty. The town had previously been fortified at the charge of the inhabitants, according to the practice of former times. There were 1,500 men able to bear arms in the town and suburbs, besides the trained bands, and it was expected that at least a thousand more would come from the outlying districts for their own safety. Further, there were a troop of 100 horse, consisting of Northumbrian gentlemen of good estates and fortunes, who, all gallantly mounted, went to warfare at their own charges, not putting the King to any expense for their maintenance.

Never on earth, perhaps, since the days of Gideon and Judas Maccabeus, did so pious an army take the field as that of the Scots Covenanters when they invaded England, under Alexander Lesley, afterwards Earl of Leven, in the month of August, 1640. At every captain’s tent-door colours were flying, with the Scots arms upon them, and this motto in golden letters, “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant.” There were daily sermons from their ministers, and prayers morning and evening, under the canopy of heaven, to which the men were called by tuck of drum; and, besides this, reading the Scriptures aloud, praying and psalm-singing were to be heard in every tent. Both in numbers and discipline the Scots were likewise superior to the English. The battle of Newburn, in which the Covenanters defeated and routed the Royalists, spread panic among the English soldiers. In a council of war held at Newcastle, at twelve o’clock the night after the defeat, it was determined that the place was untenable, and Lord Conway accordingly forth-with abandoned it, and marched south into Yorkshire, leaving all the royal stores and magazines collected there as a prize to the victors. The occupation of the town, which the Scots entered the next day, gave them military possession of both the two North-Eastern Counties. The inhabitants were panic-struck, and offered no sort of opposition; and the magistrates seem to have merely considered how to make the bast terms they could. At this time, writes Rushworth:

Newcastle and the coal mines, that has wont to employ 10,000 people all the year long, some working under ground, some above, and others upon the water in keels or lighters, now not a man to be seen, not a coal wrought, all absconding, being possessed with a fear that the Scots would give no quarter; 400 ships using to be here at a time in the river, not a ship durst come in; an hundred and odd coming to the mouth of the haven the day after the fight, and hearing the Scots had possessed Newcastle, returned all empty, and tradesmen in the town for some days kept their shops shut; many families gone, leaving their goods to the mercy of the Scots, who possessed themselves of such corn, cheese, beer, &c., as they found, giving the owners thereof, or some in their stead, some money in band and security for the rest, to be paid at four or six months’ end in money or corn; and if they refuse, said the Scots, such is the necessity of their army that they must take it without security rather than starve.

Durham was in like manner deserted and occupied. The bishop forsook his flock and fled. For four days After the fighting not one shop in the city was open. Not one house in ten had either man, woman, or child in it. And not one bit of bread was to be had for money, for the King’s army had eaten and drunk all up in their march into Yorkshire. At Darlington much the same state of things existed. His Majesty’s troops swept the whole land north of the Tees of comestibles before they left it to its fate. They also ordered all the upper mill-stones to be broken or buried, everything of a movable nature to be removed, and the cattle and sheep to be driven off. It was to little purpose that the inhabitants petitioned the King for relief, and represented that they and their posterity were likely to be “ruinated and undone.” The King could not help them, and the Scots might harry them to their heart’s content, without let or hindrance. And so it was that the Scots compelled Durham to pay them £350 a day, Northumberland £300 a day, and Newcastle £200 a day, besides furnishing them with great quantities of hay and straw. Between the two contending parties, then, the people were woefully tested.

Early in August, 1641, the Scots, having received from the English Parliament a large sum of money, or the promise of it, quitted Newcastle. A few days after their departure, the King passed through the town, journeying North to pacify the malcontents across the Border, whence (having neither pleased his friends nor conciliated his enemies) he returned by the same route in November. By this time civil war was seen to be inevitable, and both parties were anxious to secure possession of Newcastle. An order to this effect was issued by the House of Commons; but the Royalist party were in the ascendant upon Tyneside, and the order was disobeyed. William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle, being appointed governor of the town by the King, was warmly welcomed, and generously helped to put the district in an efficient state of defence. So highly gratified were the burgesses with both King and Earl that they lent his Majesty £700, and gave the Earl their honorary freedom.

In the month of January, 1644, another Scottish army, consisting of 18,000 foot and 3,000 horse, commanded by the same experienced general as before, crossed the Tweed to the assistance of Parliament in the midst of a severe storm. The King’s forces in Northumberland, under Sir Thomas Glenham, were very inferior in number, and their leaders laboured under the disadvantage of being of various ways of thinking. The Yorkshire gentlemen voted for devastating the country before the invaders, while the Northumbrians were naturally averse to seeing their estates laid waste, and proposed to return a conciliatory answer to the propositions of the Scots Commissioners. All agreed that it was impossible to meet the Soots in the field, and the result was that the King’s troops fell back, first over the Aln, and then over the Coquet, after some desultory skirmishes; and the Scots experienced no serious difficulty till they arrived under the walls of Newcastle, except such as bad roads and wretched weather occasioned.

General Lesley came before the town on Saturday, the 3rd of February, and summoned the place the same day. The Mayor and Corporation returned a resolute answer. In the evening the suburb of Sandgate, a poor place without the walls on the east side of the town, was set on fire to prevent the enemy from making his advances under cover. This was on Saturday night, and the suburb continued burning all Sunday and Monday. After three weeks’ waiting, seeing that the siege, or rather blockade, was likely to be a long and wearisome affair, Lesley determined to waste no more time. So he broke up his camp and marched to Heddon-on-the-Wall, leaving behind him only six regiments of foot and some troops of horse to hold the garrison in check. On the 28th of February the Scots crossed the Tyne, without opposition, at the three several fords of Ovingham, Bywell, and Eltringham. The next day they passed the Derwent at Ebchester, their foot crossing the river, which was both deep and rapid, being greatly flooded, in single file, over a bridge of trees. Two days afterwards they crossed the Wear, at the new bridge near Lumley, and on Monday, the 4th of March, they entered Sunderland. Marching and counter-marching up and down North Durham, with skirmishes at South Shields, Hylton, and other places filled up the time till the second week in August. Meanwhile, the battle of Marston Moor had completed the ruin of the King’s affairs in the North; and the surrender of York to the Parliamentarians left Newcastle the last bulwark of the Royal cause in this part of the kingdom. The Earl of Crawford and other Royalists had thrown themselves into the town. But General Lesley, having been joined by the Earl of Callendar, with a reserve army of 10,000 Scots, determined to make himself master of the place, and accordingly sat down before it on the 13th of August, beleaguering it on all sides.

The chief Scottish engineer, William Hunter, had formed a new kind of great guns, never before discovered, which were made purposely for this design, “above three-quarters of a yard long, or some a yard, that would carry a twelve-pound bullet, to do good execution at a good distance, and yet so formed that a horse might carry one of them.” The Scots also brought with them one hundred and twenty other great guns, and a train of ammunition, “very full and large.” We learn from “A True Impartial Relation of the Taking of Newcastle,” published by authority in 1644, and reprinted in 1825 as one of the Newcastle Typographical Society’s Tracts, that no fair means were unessayed to invite the townspeople for their own safety to surrender themselves “unto the Obedience of King and Parliament.” In a letter from “the Committee of both Kingdomes” to “the Mayor, Aldermen, Burgesses, and Common Councell of the towne,” the latter were adjured not to trust to rotten reeds and broken staves, which would suddenly bring the town to ruin, but to acquit themselves like rational men. Numerous copies of a letter from “a well-wisher to the Town” were cast over the walls, in order that they might come into the hands of the inhabitants, who were therein told that it was “no more wisdome, nor Honour, but extreame madnesse, any longer to hold out, when the danger was “present and certain,” and when all hopes of relief had failed them. But when all thece waves could nothing prevaile against the obstinacy of the Enemy, the Army having endured much hardship with patience, and the Mines and Batteries being in readinesse, it was resolved without loss of time to send in a peremptory summons. A courteous correspondence followed, in which the parties designated each other as “loving friends,” and both professed the utmost anxiety to shun the effusion off Christian blood. The result was the appointment, “after many shiftings and delays,” of three gentlemen, besides a secretary, to arrange with the Earl of Leven the terms of a treaty. Sir John Marley (the Mayor), Sir Nicholas Cole and Sir George Baker, Colonel Charles Brandling, Lieut-Colonel Thomas Davidson, and Captain Cuthbert Carr, late Sheriff of Newcastle, were named as hostages on the part of the town for the safety of the Scots Commissioners who went in to treat; and the trio accordingly went out to the Sandgate. But, as the “true and impartial relater” says, “the time appointed for Treaty was very improfitably spent.” The Newcastle gentlemen “would not suffer any propositions to be put in writ, but used high and intollerable expressions against the power of Parliament, and their own power to stand out, and nothing appertaining to the businesse of that meeting. And after three or foure houres’ debate, all they would resolve upon was to send out Propositions to the Lord General within two or three dayes, and in the meantime they declared that whatever should be the conditions of their agreement, they would onely give Hostages to render the Towne after twenty days, if reliefe came not.” Whereupon the Scottish Commissioners, finding themselves deluded and delayed by the governor, who was “void of all candor, and tyrannized so absolutely over the mindes and fortunes of the people that none durst expresse their inclinations to peace and happinesse,” were “forced to part and desert the Treaty, the Governor refusing to doe so much as seeke a continuation thereof while to-morrow.” He “evanished so farre in his owne conceit, that be thought the Army would have taken a summe of money, and have beene gone, and himselfe have been desired to be a Mediator betwixt the King and Parliament. But all hopes of accommodation failing, the Commissioners and the hostages were mutually returned; and thereupon orders were given to the whole Army, and at the sevarall Batteries, to be in a posture ready for action the next day, early in the morning, seeing all fair meanes were ineffectuall.”

Further delay was desired by the besieged, but Lesley refused to give it. Then Sir John Marley, in his own name alone, sent this imprudent message to the Scottish camp, addressed to Lord Sinclair:

My Lord, I have received divers Letters and Warrants subscribed by the name of Leven, but of late can hear of none that have seen such a man; besides, there is strong report he is dead; therefore, to remove all scruples, I desire our Drummer may deliver one letter to himself; thus wishing you could think on some other course to compose the differences of these sad distracted Kingdomes than by battering Newcastle, and annoying us who never wronged any of you; for if you seriously consider, you will find that these courses will aggravate and not moderate distempers; but I will referre all to your owne consciences, and rest Your friend, John Marley.

Sir John Marley’s foolish epistle bears date the 19th, and was probably written shortly after midnight on Friday, the 18th of October. Barely had the drummer who bore it returned to his place within the walls, when the final assault began.

During the siege, Lord Leven, with the forces immediately under him, beleaguering the west and north-west parts of the town, was quartered at Elswick, then a village about a mile west of Newcastle. Lord Sinclair’s regiment lay to the east, separated from the main body by Shieldfield Fort belonging to the town. The Earl of Callendar, with his division, was stationed at Gateshead, on the bridge, and at the glass-houses, below which he had thrown a bridge of “keill boats” over the river, for the passing and repassing of his forces, to both sides, and also for the use of the country people, who brought in daily provisions for the army. The bridge itself, being duly guarded by Lord Kenmoor’s regiment at both ends, and a strong sentry set at each of them, with two redoubts, had also there a “watery guard” of “keill boats,” tied with cable ropes from bank to bank, to secure it from any sudden surprise. The besiegers were domiciled on the Town Moor, Leazes, and elsewhere in huts composed of turf, clay, straw, and wattles. On the other hand, a round tower in the Castle Garth, called the Half-Moon Battery (on the site of which the Assize Courts were long afterwards built) was used by Sir John Marley to secure the Close and the Quayside; and the Castle, which had been suffered to fall into a very ruinous state since the union of the crowns, he put into good repair. The walls are described by William Lithgow, an eye-witness of the siege on the Scottish side, as being a great deal stronger than those of York, and “not unlike the walls of Avignon, but especially Jerusalem.” As for the inhabitants, he says, “the richest or better sort of them, as seven or eight common knights; aldermen, coal merchants, puddlers, and the like creatures,” were “altogether malignants, most of them being Papists, and the greater part of all irreligious Atheists; the vulgar condition being a mass of silly ignorants, living rather like to the Berdoans in Libya (wanting knowledge, conscience, and honesty) than like to well-disposed Christians, pliable to religion, civil order, or church discipline.”

On the morning of the 19th of October Lord Leven ordered his batteries to be opened all round the town. The besieged made a gallant defence, and the Scots suffered considerable loss, yet still they pressed on. After some hours’ desperate fighting at breaches which they had made near the White Friar’s Tower, and in the neighbourhood of Sandgate, the Scots forced an entry, made themselves masters of the gates of Newgate and Pilgrim Street, and, being joined by comrades who had entered at other breaches in the walls, effected the capture of the town.

The Milbank Manuscript adds several particulars of the defence from the Royalist side. “The Newgate Ward, which was under Captain Cuthbert Carr, was taken by the enemy, who entered at the White Fryer Tower and Sandgate, and encompassed (hem before and behind; and Pilgrim Street Gate was maintained by Captain George Errington, Lieutenant William Robson, and Ensign Thomas Swan, who fought and killed very many, they themselves not having one hurt, until they were encompassed by the enemy before and behind; and even then would not parley with the Scots who fought against them from without, but did capitulate with “Lieutenant-Colonel Sinclair, who loved and honoured them, and kept his agreement well with them, that not one of them was robbed of his clothes or money, nor were any of his men suffered to give any evil word; and it was the great blessing of God that all that time there was not one man slaine nor hurt, although that company consisted of nine score men, all tradesmen; and there were divers sallies made out at that gate, for it was the largest of all the gates of the town, it being barrocaded and shut up. And after they had surrendered, and the enemy was called over at that breach, they durst not approach, but shot at their friends that called them, and would not believe that the town was taken.”

Edward Man, Merchant Adventurer of Newcastle, was on the side of the Parliament, and was made Town Clerk after the capture (an office which he retained down to his death in 1654). On the day that the town was stormed and taken, he wrote off to a Member of Parliament, informing him of the fact. “The storm lasted,” said he, “two hours or thereabouts. It was very hott, and managed bravely on both parts, till the towne was over-mastered. I am happie God made me a spectator of the fall of those wicked men who were born to vacuate so famous a towne. The Maiors house, or some other adjoyning, are burning; yet my Lord Generall hath given order for the staying off the fire, if possible.”

The Scots wondered at their own moderation in the hour of their triumph. If there was some pillage, there might have been more. There would have been less if the ruling authorities could have had their own way. “Then began the whole armie,” writes Lithgow, “commanded and uncommanded (observing King David’s ancient rule that they who stayd with the baggage and they who fought in the field should share the booties alike) to plunder, I say, for twenty-foure houres time, being an act of parmission, although to no great purpose. And why? Because the common souldiers, being only able to plunder the common people (although they might have justly stretched their hands further), had for the greatest part of them small benefite,” getting little “excepting only household stuff, such as bedclothes, linens, tanned leather, calve skins, men and women’s apparel, pots, pans, and such like common things.” The store of victuals and ammunition within the town was found to be almost spent, so that they could not have holden out ten days longer, “unless the one half had devoured the other.” After the lapse of a day, further plundering was prohibited under pain of death; but the Scots are said in the meanwhile to have rifled the town’s hutch, and destroyed most of the deeds and documents belonging to the Corporation.

A news-sheet, entitled “Perfect Occurrences,” bears witness to the religious discretion observed by the soldiery: “They have not taken anything’ from any godly persons, men or women, that they finde never acted or carried themselves against the Parliament; and they do so piously that they show them all the respect that maybe.” Still, saints and sinners all suffered. “Looting” fell not only on the ungodly, but pretty impartially on all who had anything to lose. Even the globes of the Trinity House, terrestrial and celestial, were seized by warriors who would “make the best of both worlds,” and turned them into ten shillings the sum accepted for their ransom.

The ballad mongers were not behind in turning a penny by the sack of the town; and their candid rhymes confess that the pillagers were no respecters of persons.

Straightway to plundering we did fall,

Of great and small, for we were all

Most valiant that day;

And Jenny in her silken gown,

The best in town from foot to crown,

Was bonny and gay.

While Jenny flaunted in ill-gotten silk, there was Te Deums sung. Both sides claimed the favour of God. Lord Leven and his comrades went to church “to give thanks to God that He was pleased, even according to the words and wishes of their enemies, to prosper and bless His people, according to the justness of their cause.” Sir John Marley, the defeated commander, who had now cause to believe in Lord Leven’s presence without the evidence of a drummer, addressed his lordship on the 21st from the Castle, of which he still held possession. He desired that he and chose with him might have liberty to stay, or go out of the town, with His Excellency’s safe pass, to His Majesty’s next garrison not beleaguered, with their horses, pistols, and swords, and have fourteen days’ time to dispatch their journey, so many as pleased to go. “And truly, my Lord,” says he, “I am yet confident to receive so much favour from you as that you will take such care of me as that I shall receive no wrong from the ignoble spirits of the vulgar sort; for I doubt no other. I must confesse, I cannot keep it [the Castle] long from you; yet I am resolved, rather than to be a spectacle of misery and disgrace to any, I will bequeathe my soul to Him that gave it, and then referre my body to be a spectacle to your severity. But, upon the tearmes above-said, I will deliver it to you.” Upon his surrendering himself, he was almost torn to pieces by the mob; was committed to his house, under a strong guard, to protect him from the fury of the people; and, not being considered safe there, was cast, writes Lithgow, “into a dungeon within the Castle, where now that presumptuous Governor remaineth, till the hangman salute his neck with a blow of Strafford’s courtesy.” Parliament and Army were, however, more lenient. His life was spared, and he shared the exile of Charles and Clarendon, and lived to enjoy their Restoration.

Many were the companions-in-arms of Sir John Marley who suffered death in the defence of the town. Conspicuous among the fallen was Sir Alexander Davison, whose mansion was on the Sandhill, opposite the Exchange. Under its roof, in all probability, he received from the King, during his second mayoralty, the honour conferred upon him in 1639. At the siege, he fought on the walls as a lieutenant-colonel, with his son Joseph by his side as captain. Father and son were borne away wounded, and did not long survive the defeat of their cause. They died, and were buried in the church of St. Nicholas, the former being laid in his tomb on the 25th, and the latter on the 29th of October. On the llth of November, the eldest son of the fallen knight placed in St. Mary’s Porch a mural monument recording the manner of their death.

There is a tradition that the Scottish general threatened the Mayor, during the siege, that if the town was not instantly delivered up, he would direct his cannon so as to demolish the beautiful steeple of St. Nicholas. Sir John Marley thereupon promptly ordered the chief of the Scotch prisoners to be taken to the top of the tower, below the lantern, and returned Lord Leven an answer, that if the structure fell, it should not fall alone, as his countrymen were placed in it. And so St. Nicholas’ Church was saved.

Pandon Dene, Newcastle

The following is a description of Pandon Dene, published in the Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore & Legend in February 1890.  In Medieval times, Newcastle was divided by several streams or burns flowing towards the River Tyne. Several of the roads have the term bridge in their names although no water is visible today. Examples are Barras Bridge, New Bridge Street, High Bridge and Low Bridge. They were often important sites for industry and settlement but hampered communications and development. As the town expanded they were filled in and now flow in culverts buried deep below the surface.



To write of Pandon Dene is like writing of some departed friend. There is a tender melancholy associated with the place like that associated with the memory of the dead. And when we think of it as it once was gay with foliage and blossom and look upon its condition of today, buried far beneath a mass of ever accumulating rubbish, our melancholy is not unmingled with regret that so splendid a site for a public park should have been lost the city.

One of the old features of Newcastle, in which it differed from the flat monotony of many towns, was the number of its little valleys, each with its streamlet flowing down the midst, which graced it with so pleasing a variety of hill and dale, and added to the picturesqueness of its situation on the bold sloping banks of the Tyne. Of these little valleys one of the most lovely was that whose blotting out we now deplore. Through it flowed the Pandon or Bailey Burn rising near Chimney Mills, running between the Leazes and the Moor down to Barras Bridge then, after receiving its little tributary, Magdalene Burn, about opposite the end of Vine Lane, merrily turning the wheels of the various water mills which nestled down by its side amongst gardens and trees, until it flowed under the Stock Bridge and Burn Bank, and so joined old Father Tyne.


Barras Bridge, Newcastle, about 1810 


It would take a very big book to contain the history of this little valley and its associations, and its historian might linger long and lovingly over many a spot within its watershed, of deepest interest to lovers of old Newcastle lore. He would have much to say of its two bridges now bridges only in name: of the Barras Bridge and of the contiguous hospitals of St. James and Mary Magdalene of the New Bridge and its building. We show in one of our illustrations a view of the former bridge when it was in reality a bridge. The picture is from a drawing made by the elder T. M. Richardson about 1810; and, rude as it is, a sufficiently good idea of the former beauty of the spot may be gathered from it. Two of our views show the other, the New Bridge, gracefully spanning the Pandon valley. One is from the north, taken from near the foot of the steps which used to lead down from Shieldfield at the end of the lane called “the Garden Tops.” It was painted by John Lumsden in 1821, and shows the old water corn mill, afterwards the Pear Tree Inn, the town in the middle distance, and the Windmill Hills at Gateshead beyond. The other (from a painting by James Dewar about 1833) is from the south, from near what was afterwards “New Pandon,” and gives us a view of the well-known Mustard Mill in the foreground. The roof of Picton House (now the Blyth and Tyne Railway Station) is seen, on the left, peeping over the parapet of the bridge.


Pandon Dene, Newcastle, 1821



The account of the mills of Pandon Dene would of itself form a goodly chapter in our imaginary historian’s book, and would carry the reader far back into the mists of antiquity; for the waters of the burn have turned mill wheels from time immemorial. As far back as 1460 we have recorded the proposed erection of one of these mills. On July 10th of the year named we find the Mayor and community of Newcastle devising to John Ward (formerly Mayor of the town, and founder of the Charity in Manor Chare known afterwards as Ward’s Almshouses), along with other lands, “a certain other parcel of waste land, of the trenches called the King’s Dykes outside the (Town) Wall, and land within the wall to the extent of forty-two ells in length, from the aforesaid gate (Pandon Gate) and along the wall, and in width the same as the King’s Dykes, to hold, etc., for the building and construction upon the said parcel of land, outside the wall, a dam for the mill, &c.” (Welford’s “Newcastle and Gateshead.”).


View in Pandon Dene from drawing by R. Jobling


With this part of Pandon Dene is associated the memory of one of the old worthies of Newcastle, the opulent and munificent Roger Thornton, whose memorial brass is still extant and to be seen in All Saints’ Church. After his death in 1430, an inquisition was held to take account of his property, and in the record the name of Pandon frequently occurs in connection with gardens and orchards possessed by him in the vicinity of the Stock Bridge.


In our own times, besides the two mills already mentioned, there was the Oatmeal Mill, higher up the valley on the left bank of the burn. It is seen in Mr. Jobling’s view on this page, which shows some of the old gardens in front of Lovaine Crescent, with the little houses in which many of the occupants lived, the mill house in the middle distance, and St. Thomas’s Church behind. Close by the mill was the cottage of Julia St. George, the famous actress, whose career is sketched elsewhere. We give also another very interesting view, showing Julia St. George’s house in the distance, with the footpath leading down by the burn side from near the end of Vine Lane. It is from a pencil drawing made by Mr. Ralph Hedley, after T. M. Richardson, and gives some idea of the old-time rural beauty of the Dene.

Some further idea of the charms of Pandon Dene may be gathered from the following verses which they inspired, and which appeared over the signature of Rosalinda in the Newcastle Magazine, Sept. 18th, 1776:

When cooling zephyrs wanton play,

Then off to Pandon Dene I stray;

When sore depressed with grief and woe,

Then from a busy world I go;

My mind is calm, my soul serene,

Beneath the bank in Pandon Dene.


The feather’d race around me sing,

They make the hills and valleys ring;

My sorrow flies, my grief is gone,

I warble with the tuneful throng:


All, all things wear a pleasing mien

Beneath the’bank in Pandon Dene.


At distance stands an ancient tower,

Which ruin threatens every hour;

I’m struck with reverence at the sight,

I pause and gaze in fond delight.

The antique walls do join the scene

And make more lovely Pandon Dene.


Above me stand the towering trees,

While here I feel the gentle breeze;

The water flows by chance around,

And green enamels all the ground,

Which gives new splendour to the scene

And adds a grace to Pandon Dene.


And when I mount the rising hill,

And then survey the purling rill,

My eye’s delighted; but I mourn

To think of winter’s quick return,

With withering winds and frost so keen,

I, sighing, leave the Pandon Dene.


O, spare for onre a female pen,

And lash licentious, wicked men,

Your conscious cheek need never glow

If you your talents thus bestow;

Scare fifteen summers have I seen,

Yet dare to sing of Pandon Dene.

Alas, poor Rosalinda! both you and the carping critics of your generation, whose wrath you so modestly deprecate, and whose “conscious cheek” you so tenderly seek to spare, are now laid low in the dust. Not you only, but even the sweet scenes which inspired your muse. Henceforth, all thoughts and memories of Pandon Dene shall be but as echoes from the depths of a buried past, gradually, on each repetition, growing fainter and more faint, until they die away into the utter silence of forgetfulness.


Northeastlore is One Year Old Today!

Hi!  Northeastlore is one year old today so I thought I’d reflect a little on what has happened over the last twelve months.  As I said in my first blog, I can’t claim any credit for the content of this blog but I really enjoy sharing these stories and I am thrilled that so many people like reading them.  They give such a human perspective to the history of the North East of England.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to have a look, like and share.  Doing this blog has also put me in touch with some amazing people and opened doors to exciting new things to come (announcements soon I hope)!

As someone who is a self confessed and unashamed geek I am fond of the odd statistic, so  I thought I would share a few of the facts and figures to let you know how Northeastlore has gotten on this year.

  • We’ve posted 91 blogs covering everything from fatal balloon crashes to the streets of Newcastle
  • 3,764 people have visited
  • The blogs have attracted 10,511 views
  • We have 726 followers through Facebook (, Twitter () and WordPress
  • We have had visitors from 42 countries (which blows my mind a little bit!).  See the map below.


So after that, I’d just like to say a huge THANK YOU again.  I’ll keep blogging as much as I can and we’ll see what stories there are to tell in the next year.

J P Morton

Help, the Railway Dog

The following is a nice little article published in July 1889 in the Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend.  It is concerned with the story of Help the railway dog who was used to collect money for the Railway Servants Orphan Fund.  The railways were a dangerous occupation to be in during the Victorian era and many charitable funds were set up to look after the families of those railwaymen who were killed at work.  You can read more about the railway dogs here



The Scotch collie, on account of his intelligence and tractability, is a general favourite. But although he is frequently put to uses for which he was never intended, he soon adapts himself to his changed circumstances, and proves himself the friend of mankind. Help, the railway dog, an interesting specimen of the collie breed, is the property of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. He will follow, without leading, any railwayman with whom he has had a few hours’ acquaintance. The idea of keeping and training a dog to act as a medium for the collection of money in aid of the Railway Servants’ Orphan Fund originated with Mr. John Climpson, the guard of the “night boat train” on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway a position which he has filled for over twenty-seven years. Mr. William Riddell, of Hailes, Haddington, having become acquainted with the fact that such a dog was required, presented the subject of this notice to the Orphan Fund. Help has been the means of adding about a thousand pounds to the funds of the society. When he visited Newcastle in October, 1887, the local contribution amounted to £2 4s. 9d. He has not been trained to perform any antics, so that his mission is known only by a handsome silver collar, to which is appended a silver medal bearing the following inscription: “I am Help, the railway dog of England, and travelling agent for the orphans of railwaymen who are killed on duty. My office is at 55, Colebrooke Row, London, where subscriptions will be thankfully received and duly acknowledged.”

Our drawing of Help is reproduced from a capital lithograph executed by the Newcastle artist, Mr. Wilson Hepple.

The Explosion on the Town Moor, Newcastle

The following is an account published in April 1888 which tells the tale of a tragic accident which occurred on the Town Moor in Newcastle in December 1867.



Twenty years ago, a terrible accident occurred on the Town Moor, resulting in the deaths of eight persons, two of them esteemed and prominent citizens of Newcastle. Not since the Gateshead explosion had anything happened which startled and shocked the town so much as this singular and remarkable fatality. The story will not take long in the telling.

In December, 1867, the attention of the police was called to the fact that a quantity of explosive material was stored in a cellar in the White Hart Yard, Newcastle. On examination this proved to be nitro-glycerine, a compound produced by the action of a mixture of strong nitric and sulphuric acids on glycerine at low temperatures. The material was contained in nine large tins or canisters, each holding 24lbs.; and the police were told that it was intended for blasting purposes in mines and quarries, and for this purpose it was doubtless useful, as exposure to flame did not cause it to explode, though explosion instantly followed a strong blow or concussion. The police-superintendent having conferred with the authorities, an order was given that the nitro-glycerine should be at once removed from the town or destroyed. The railway company, however, would have nothing to do with it, and it was ultimately resolved that it should be taken to the Moor, and there poured into the depressions caused by the workings of the Spital Tongues Colliery. The Sheriff of Newcastle, Mr. John Mawson, and the Town Surveyor, Mr. Thomas Bryson, determined to accompany the material to its destination. Accordingly, on the 17th December, 1867, Thomas Appleby, cartman, a labourer named James Shotton, Constable Donald Bain, and Sub-Inspector Wallace, set out with the canisters in a cart, Messrs. Mawson and Bryson following in a cab.

When the party reached the Town Moor, the tins were taken out of the cart, and the contents of some of them poured into the depressions mentioned, which were situated at no great distance from the Grand Stand, and close to a wooden building that had been erected for use as a temporary hospital in the event of a visit of cholera. It was then found that a portion of the nitro-glycerine in three of the canisters had crystallised and was adhering to the sides. Mr. Mawson expressed a wish to have a sample of the compound to take away for further examination. A piece of the crystal was accordingly broken off, and Mr. Mawson put it into the pocket of his overcoat. He then said to the men, “Bring these three tins away, and we will bury them under the other hill” — referring to a part of the Moor distant a few yards away. Mr. Mawson, Mr. Bryson, the policeman Bain, and Appleby and Shotton then went over to the hill indicated, leaving Sub-Inspector Wallace engaged in covering up the liquid compound with soil. What followed after this will never be rightly known.

Just as Mr. Wallace had finished his task, and was about to join the others, a terrible explosion occurred. Fragments of clothing and human remains were sent flying high into the air. Though dreadfully startled and alarmed, Wallace was uninjured, having been sheltered by a bank which lay between him and his unfortunate companions. On hurrying to the scene, the first thing he found was the mutilated and shattered remains of poor Bain, portions of the body having been actually blown away. He next came to the cartman, Appleby, fearfully disfigured and lifeless; and near to him was the mutilated body of the labourer, Shotton, likewise dead. In a hole of the ground above was found a boy, named Waddley, who, as well as another lad named Stonehouse, had followed the cart to the Moor from curiosity. Close to this poor lad was found the body of a man, apparently about forty, whose name was unknown, and who had also followed the cart to the Moor. Lying on the side of the bank was Mr. Bryson, and on the top of the same place was Mr. Mawson, both gentlemen being alive, but fearfully injured.


Mr. Wallace hurried with all speed into the town, where he informed Dr. Fife and Dr. Heath of the terrible affair. These two gentlemen set out at once for the scene of the accident. It happened that, just as the explosion occurred, a young surgeon named Walpole was walking on the Moor only a short distance from the spot. Dust, stones, fragments of clothing, &c, suddenly fell all around him. About three hundred yards from whore the catastrophe had occurred, he found the foot of a human being, supposed to be that of poor Bain. Hunting forward, Dr. Walpole next discovered Mr. Bryson in one of the excavations, and to all appearance dead. Stimulants having been administered, however, he began to show some signs of life. Dr. Walpole then placed Mr. Mawson, Mr. Bryson, and the boy Waddley in the cart which had brought the terrible explosive to the ground, and they were conveyed to the Infirmary. Two hours after his admission, the boy succumbed; and at half-past one o’clock next morning Mr. Bryson died, Mr. Mawson surviving him an hour and twenty minutes.

It is really impossible to adequately describe the excitement and consternation which this awful accident caused in Newcastle. Mingled with the sorrow and sympathy felt for the victims there was a great amount of indignation against those who had stored the fatal agent in the very centre of a large town. A Mr. Spark, an auctioneer, commission agent, &c, had settled in the town a few months before, and had taken an agency for nitro-glycerine from a Mr. Burrell, who had resigned it. Some little time before, Burrell had prevailed upon the ostler of the White Hart inn to allow him to store several tins of the explosive in the cellars of that hostelry. This fact coming to the knowledge of the police, they seized the tins, with the terrible result that we have recounted. The day after the explosion Mr. Spark presented himself before the magistrates in order to explain his possession of the material. Little blame seems really to have attached to him, since at the time of the occurrence he was not the regularly appointed agent, and was still negotiating with the firm to which the nitro-glycerine belonged. A great deal of evidence was given at the inquest which was subsequently held, and the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.” In all eight persons perished in the explosion — the Sheriff, the Town Surveyor, P.C. Bain, Thomas Appleby, James Shotton, the boys Stanley Waddley and James Stonehouse, and a man whose name was never ascertained.

The terrible nature of the accident was discussed all over the country. It was about the time of the Clerkenwell outrage, and, of course, till the full particulars were explained, the Fenians were suspected of causing the calamity.


John Mawson, a native of Penrith, was apprenticed to a chemist and druggist in Sunderland. When he had finished his apprenticeship, he began business on his own account in that borough, but was not successful. He shortly afterwards removed to Newcastle, where he opened a shop, and here he also failed. This failure, however, was due to his having stood bond to a large amount for a friend, who left Mr. Mawson to pay the money. Nothing daunted, he tried business once more, this time in Mosley Street, where he remained till his death. Here he was more fortunate, and began to make fight against his debts, having resolved to pay everybody to the last farthing. He stoutly refused to take “the benefit of the Act,” and, like most men who stick to a good resolution, he ultimately achieved his purpose. And he deserved to succeed, for he worked with great energy and determination. His first successful venture was the introduction into Newcastle of Rothwell’s Fire Fuel, which he afterwards got a patent to manufacture. With this material he did a very large trade. His next venture was in German yeast, which was first imported into the North of England by Mr. Mawson. The writer remembers the crowds of people who used to go to his shop for this indispensable commodity, as that was the only place in the town where it could then be purchased. Mr. Mawson, in partnership with his relative, Mr. Joseph Wilson Swan, famous a few years later for the invention of the electric appliance known as the Swan Lamp, produced a series of very great improvements in photography.

Now that the tide had turned, Mr. Mawson saw his way to the great object he had always held in view — the discharge of every farthing of his debts. Such were the honour and probity of the man, that he seemed to work for this sole object. But he had his moments of despair. “I shall be eighty before I can pay all I owe,” he once said to an old friend. Before he was forty, however, he had succeeded in his laudable purpose. A splendid bookcase, filled with valuable books, was presented to him on the occasion by his gratified creditors. This took place, we believe, in 1849. Thereafter, till his sad and tragical death in 1867, Mr. Mawson’s career was one of unbroken prosperity and public usefulness.

Mr. Mawson was twice married. His first wife, to whom he was united in 1838, was Miss Jane Cameron, of Sunderland. This lady, after a long and severe illness, died in 1844. She was a singularly amiable and exemplary woman; and two years after her death, Mr. Brown, of Barnard Castle, and the well-known Dr. F. R. Lees, compiled from her diary and correspondence a “Memoir of Mrs. Jane Mawson.” Some years after her untimely death, Mr. Mawson married the niece of his first wife, and the sister of his partner, Mr. Swan. Of this marriage there was a family of five or six children.

Elected to the Newcastle Town Council for West All Saints’ Ward in 1858, Mr. Mawson was allowed on all hands to be a faithful and zealous representative. It was during his absence on the Continent that he was elected to the office of Sheriff, on the 9th of November preceding his death.

From a very early age Mr. Mawson was a zealous reformer. In Newcastle he always supported the Radical candidates for Parliament, and he seconded Sir Joseph Cowen at that gentleman’s first election. Those who are old enough to remember the Old Lecture Room meetings, where there was always so much public spirit and heartiness displayed, will also recollect that John Mawson’s pleasant smiling face was seldom absent. He was a hard working temperance reformer, too, and frequently travelled with other zealous teetotallers amongst the North-Country pitmen, doing his best to make converts to the cause. As a member of the Peace Society, he attended several of the international conferences which were held from time to time in different parts of Europe. But perhaps, after all, it was as the friend of the slave that he was best known. He was for many years the earnest and willing helper of George Thompson, William Lloyd Garrison, William Wells Brown, and other eloquent advocates of negro redemption. During the terrible war between the Northern and Southern States, when the slaveholders found so many friends in England, and even great statesmen prophesied the ultimate success of the South, John Mawson remained a constant adherent of the Northern cause, and never wavered in the opinion that slavery would be blotted out for ever. When the war was at length at an end, his life-long friend, Mr. Garrison, came to Newcastle, where he was entertained at a soiree in the Assembly Rooms.

For this sketch of the career of Mr. Mawson, we have been much indebted to an article which appeared in the Daily Chronicle at the time of his death. We cannot do better than quote here the few concluding lines of the biography, which form a summary, as it were, of the deceased gentleman’s many good qualities: — “Honest in business, intelligent as a politician, earnest in public matters, faithful at all times to his convictions, Mr. Mawson was certainly one of the most esteemed citizens of Newcastle. The integrity of his conduct, the excellence of his public, the spotless purity of his private, life, and the tragic manner of his death, all conspire to claim for John Mawson a distinguished place in the catalogue of Newcastle worthies.”


Mr. Bryson was a native of Tweedmouth, and was Apprenticed as a stonemason in that town. While still a very young man, he left the little Border town, and was employed for some time at Howick Hall, the seat of Earl Grey. Subsequently he was engaged by Mr. Richard Grainger, who was then carrying out his great improvements in Newcastle. Mr. Bryson showing great practical ability, Mr. Grainger appointed him to a place of trust and responsibility. While engaged on some work at the Exchange Buildings, Grey Street, he slipped from the scaffold on which he was standing, and fell a distance of 38 feet. He was dreadfully injured, and lay for some time unconscious. It was several months before he recovered from the effects of this serious accident; but when his health was sufficiently restored, he entered into the service of the Newcastle Corporation as Superintendent of Works under Mr. Wallace. This position he occupied until 1854, when important changes were made in the duties of the officials. Mr. Wallace was appointed Corporation Property Surveyor, and Mr. Bryson was promoted to the position of Town Surveyor. In the performance of his duties he displayed the most zealous care for the interests of the town. Many incidents which occurred during his useful life illustrate his kind and benevolent disposition. Mr. Bryson was interred in Jesmond Old Cemetery on December 21, 1867. A very large number of friends, as well as members of the Council and other influential inhabitants, followed his remains to the grave. Dr. Rutherford (with whose congregation the deceased gentleman had been connected for many years) conducted the service. Mr. Bryson was 62 years of age at the time of his untoward death.