Archive for January 2015

Mr Henry Mulrea Johnston

Henry Mulrea Johnston was born in County Down, Ireland in 1877 and studied medicine at Queen’s College, Belfast graduating in 1903.  He went on to study and work at Trinity College, Dublin before moving to London in 1910 where he worked at St Bartholomew’s and Great Ormond Street Hospitals and became a fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons in 1911.  In 1912 he was appointed Resident Medical Officer at The Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

 

During WWI he joined the RAMC and was posted to a hospital in Sidcup where he concentrated his efforts on deformities of the face.  Prior to joining the army he had been committed to research using the latest radiological techniques for diagnostic purposes, something that was evident in his research for many years.  An image in an article from the British Dental Journal demonstrates some of the pioneering work that Johnston was involved in whilst at Sidcup and it is also possible that it is Johnston who is pictured on the right of the picture. http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v217/n6/full/sj.bdj.2014.820.html

14 year old male with cyst of the humerus treated with with intra-medullary and osteo-periosteal grafts.  6 weeks after operations HOSP/STAN/10/1/30/3

14 year old male with cyst of the humerus treated with with intra-medullary and osteo-periosteal grafts. 6 weeks after operation
HOSP/STAN/10/1/30/3

 

Following the war he was also appointed Visiting Surgeon to Stannington Children’s Sanatorium, a role which he carried on until 1945.  In his obituary from the British Medical Journal it is remarked that “In general surgery he loved to demonstrate bone tumours and cysts and to illustrate his cases with beautiful radiographs of his own taking.”  Amongst the records of Stannington Sanatorium we have a selection of photographic copes of some of Mr Johnston’s x-rays reflecting some of his interests outside of the Sanatorium.  The collection of images shows patients of varying ages with different skeletal deformities, most of which appear to be unrelated to tuberculosis.

Male, age 8.  Perthe's disease affecting femoral head. HOSP/STAN/10/1/24/1

Male, age 8. Perthes’ disease affecting femoral head.
HOSP/STAN/10/1/24/1

Female, age 22. Right hand. HOSP/STAN/10/1/21/1

Female, age 22. Right hand.
HOSP/STAN/10/1/21/1

Click on images to enlarge

 

Sources:                                                                                                                                                                           ‘Henry M. Johnston, F.R.C.S’, British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4724, 21 Jul 1951, pp. 181-182

British Dental Journal http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v217/n6/full/sj.bdj.2014.820.html  [24 Nov 2014]

This Week in World War One, 29th January 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915

29 JANUARY 1915

WOUNDED SOLDIERS ENTERTAINED AT BERWICK

The wounded soldiers and patients to the number of 16 and the staff at the Berwick Barracks Hospital were entertained to tea and a musical programme on Saturday last by Mrs Roper, Castle Terrace, through the kind permission of Major Steele. Accompanying Mrs Roper were Miss Roper, the Misses Forbes, and Lieut.-Colonel Hunter of the Welsh Cyclists.

After an enjoyable tea an excellent musical programme was gone through and in the course of which refreshments were dispensed. At the close Private Mutter proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Mrs Roper for her kindness in entertaining them and this the men responded to by cheering lustily. The tea was prepared by Private Corstorphine, with the assistance of the Misses Forbes, while the following members of the staff also gave their assistance:-Sergeant Thos. Mutter, Private R Mutter, and Private W.F. King.

A doctor and nurses treat a wounded soldier in hospital

Treating a wounded soldier in hosptial. Credit: Wellcome Library, London, ref: L0009336, CC by 4.0

 

BERWICK FREEMAN’S EXPERIENCES AT THE FRONT

Capt. J Cairns, a Berwick freeman, who was Executive Engineer of Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway, resigned immediately war was declared and came home to join his regiment. He was attached to the 1st Battalion East Yorks., which, after six weeks in the trenches, was relieved by another regiment, at which time there were only 30 yards between them and the front German trench. The men of his company (in the pauses of grenade throwing) pitched biscuits and bully beef tins at the Germans. A few days before Christmas, Capt. Cairns was brought home by the War Office, but malarial fever from the muddy trenches developed and for a fortnight he was seriously ill. Now on his recovery he has been posted to Royal Engineers and appointed for special work to the staff at the War Office.

 

Red Lion Hotel advert

Advert from the Berwick Advertiser, 29th January 1915

 

 

 

Case Study – Abdominal Tuberculosis

Abdominal tuberculosis was a common diagnosis amongst the patients of Stannington Sanatorium and the patient case notes and radiographs give some indication as to the progression and manifestation of this form of TB.  As was seen in the post from 19 November detailing the different types of TB, abdominal tuberculosis was a common extra-pulmonary form of the disease in which patients had often contracted the bovine strain of tuberculosis (mycobacterium-bovis) through the ingestion of unpasteurised or contaminated milk.  We will explore the problems that arose from contaminated milk in a later post.

Abdominal TB most commonly affects the intestinal tract, mesenteric lymph nodes, and peritoneum and presents with symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.  The diagnosis of suspected extra-pulmonary forms of TB can often be assisted by chest x-rays where either active or healed tuberculous lesions can be seen.  However in the case of abdominal TB where the primary point of infection is often not through the lungs but through the digestive system there may not be any evidence of any associated pulmonary infection. (Lambrianides et al, p.888)  We don’t see as many radiographs within the Stannington records relating to abdominal tuberculosis in comparison to other manifestations of the disease such as pulmonary or bones and joints but there are nevertheless some good examples throughout the collection.

 

Case Study 1

Figure 1 - HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/21 (2)

Figure 1 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/21 (2)

Figure 2 - HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/21 (3)

Figure 2 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/21 (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above radiographs are some of the earliest examples of abdominal TB from amongst the Stannington collection.  They both relate to patient 80/21, a 9-year old female admitted in 1939 who presented with  “vague abdominal signs and pain and traces of albumin in urine,” and a report on an x-ray taken prior to admission states that “calcified glands visible in abdomen above sacrum.”  The reports given on the above two x-rays in the patient’s medical notes are very brief, with the first, figure one, being taken on 20 April 1939 and the report simply stating “gland to right of spine.”  The second, figure two, was taken on 12 October 1939 and the report stated “calcification better seen in abdominal glands.”

 

Case Study 2

NRO-3000-HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-1463-06

Figure 3 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/1463 (6)

Figure 3 relates to a patient who was originally admitted in June 1940 as patient 86/46 and discharged in May 1941 only to be re-admitted some years later in September 1947 as patient 118/1947.  On his first admission he was 5 years old and it was reported that during the past year he had had several attacks of vomiting and abdominal pain but an initial examination found no resistance in the abdomen and no mass was felt.  No glands were seen in the x-rays of his abdomen taken at this time.  The above radiograph was taken in October of 1947 following his second admission and the radiographic images from this slightly later period tend to be much clearer and better defined than those from the early 1940s, such as in figures 1 & 2.   When he was admitted the second time he presented with “listlessness, poor appetite, vague abdominal pain & night sweats” but during his stay no evidence of any active disease was actually found, with the above x-ray showing calcified abdominal glands, presumably as a result of his previous, now quiescent, case of abdominal TB from 7 years earlier.  He was discharged less than three months later once his symptoms had settled down.

 

There is little evidence of surgical treatments being employed in Stannington to treat abdominal tuberculosis, particularly in the earlier files.  This is corroborated by early literature on abdominal TB in children where rest and sunshine are cited as the main methods of treatment alongside the prevention of the putrefaction of bowel contents by reducing the intake of meat and eggs and the administration of charcoal and the occasional dose of mercurial aperient. (Sundell, 1926)  Later studies however recommend the use of surgical treatments to deal with intestinal lesions in order to prevent healing by fibrosis which could lead to obstructions causing later problems. (Kapoor & Sharma, 1988)  This healing process is evident in the radiographs of patient 118/1947 showing the calcified glands, with the possibility of problems occurring later on in life being something to consider with many of the Stannington patients.

 

Sources

KAPOOR, V.K. & SHARMA, L.K. (1988) Abdominal Tuberculosis, British Journal of Surgery, 75 (1), pp.2-3

LAMBRIANIDES, A.L., ACKROYD, N. & SHOREY, B.A. (1980) Abdominal Tuberculosis, British Journal of Surgery, 67 (12), pp.887-889

SUNDELL, C.E. (1926) Abdominal Tuberculosis in Children, Postgraduate Medical Journal, 2 (14), pp.24-26

This Week in World War One, 22nd January 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915

22 JANUARY 1915

 

SERGEANT CYCLIST WRITES TO BERWICK

 

Writing from the front to a friend in Berwick; Sergeant. T. Young, Army Cycling Corps, 7th Division, says: -“We sailed from Southampton for ———– on Christmas Eve and I can tell you we were fairly miserable to see the lights of the Old Country fade away and thinking of our friends at home.  We arrived at a rest camp at ——— about 3.00 p.m.  on Christmas Day, tired, hungry and very cold.

Three miserable days were spent then we departed for the front by train, the journey taking 30 hours.  We arrived at a place called Railhead and then had an hour’s cycle run to our billet,-a deserted farmhouse about one and a half miles in the rear of the trenches.  We have been on patrol work ever since arriving- looking for snipers, spies, shirkers etc; in ruined buildings just at the rear of the fighting line.

We get a “little” excitement as every day the Germans are sending us shrapnel and “Jack Johnsons”  Excepting for the artillery matters are very quiet in our division.  Yesterday (9th January) we had a good deal of shrapnel dropped around us,   some struck the billet but did no great damage.  We went out to look for souvenirs but we soon had to double back to the billet as more shrapnel started to come.

The Northern Cyclist Battalion, with a number from other Battalions are with this Company as reinforcements to a regular Company which lost heavily in a recent battle. Our lads have settled down wonderfully and the surprising thing to me is how quietly they all take the shell-fire.  We have good regular officers, especially the C.S.M. and C.Q.M.S.  we are all very cheerful, fit and happy and have been served with good clothing, which comprises corduroy breeches, jacket, British warm, and fur jacket.

The food is very good and there are plenty of free “smokes”, a tot of rum nightly and a good billet.  No one can speak too highly of the work of the Regulars, but at the same time there is quite a lot of Territorials out here doing the same work as the Regulars and doing it well.  It seems to me this is a sort of siege warfare and if a man has the stamina and guts to stick the rough life and can handle a rifle quickly it is nearly all that is required.   I don’t wish to appear too wise but from what I have heard I don’t think Cyclist Battalions will ever get out here as complete Battalions.  If any more men are called from this Corps you can tell them to come out here.  They will serve under officers with fighting experience and alongside comrades who have been through it and you know much that is worth.”

British Cyclist Corps cyclists

Troops of the British Army Cyclist Corps passing through Brie, France, during 1918.
 © IWM (Q 1868)

22 JANUARY 1915

The Berwick Company of the Northern Cyclist Batallion which was raised in Berwick  removed to Bamburgh on Monday. It is intended to billet 300 of this Battalion in Bamburgh Castle and Armstrong Cottages.

Advert for sale at Mosgroves Shoes

Advert from The Berwick Advertiser 22nd January 1915

 

A PLACE FOR DUCKS

In a letter to his aunt in Berwick :Lieut Eric Land, RAMC writes :

“The trenches are very wet and muddy just now in some places nearly four feet deep in water, and it is naturally very trying for the men to have no chance of getting dry for several weeks. It is extraordinary how cheerful and well they keep, in the circumstances and they don’t mind the Germans as long as they have plenty to eat and smoke – and so far they have had no cause for complaint in that respect. We are settling down for the winter here and I don’t suppose much will happen this side until spring comes. We shall soon have webbed feet if we live much longer in this country”.

A group of British soldiers standing in a muddy trench

A group of British soldiers in a trench at Cambrin during 1918. © IWM (Q 8458)

Two soldiers standing in a muddy trench

Clearing mud from a trench during the Battle of the Somme, 1916 © IWM (Q 1621)

A glimpse of Farming life in Ashington – 1916

One of the aims of our project is to look at previously uncatalogued collections for content relating to the War. One of the unlisted collections that we have looked at is papers of the Sample family, agents to the Duke of Portland and other Northumbrian landowning families (Ref: NRO 2637). In Box 3 of the unlisted papers are some records relating to the Military Tribunals held at Ashington. One of our project volunteers, Jean Wilkinson, has examined the papers and has written this short article outlining some of their content. We hope to catalogue the papers in detail within our project.

An Agriculture Census for England and Wales in 1916 gives an enlightening glimpse of farming life in Ashington. Eight of the biggest farms were owned by Ashington Coal Company whilst Ashington Co-Operative Society owned a couple of Market Gardens. The remaining farms were privately owned.

The Farm Manager for all eight of the Ashington Coal Company farms, one Geo. P. Graham was also responsible for 1115 horses & ponies. He was a widower aged 41.  With so much responsibility he would have had little free time.

The farms too were involved in asking Tribunals to exempt their workers, but unless there were health reasons for complete exemption, they only managed to get a few months deferment. Women were employed in quite heavy farm work although some worked in the Dairy or as house servants.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Jean Wilkinson in supplying this article for the Northumberland At War Project.

The Philanthropy Behind the Sanatorium

Previous blog postings have touched upon how the history of Stannington Sanatorium and the people involved in making the idea of a children’s tuberculosis hospital a reality. Roland Philipson was one such person, whose contribution of £5000 allowed the building of the sanatorium and the initial intake of 100 patients in 1908. However, Philipson was not the only philanthropist to come to the aid of Stannington Sanatorium. Many others offered financial donations towards the cause of children’s tuberculosis, a few of which are detailed below.

Aerial View of Stannington Sanatorium (NRO 10321-1)

Aerial View of Stannington Sanatorium
(NRO 10321-1)

Mr A.E. Ward, Trustee of the late Mr Robert Scott – Scott Trust

A large financial contributor to the Stannington Sanatorium vision was Mr A.E Ward, who acted on behalf of the late Mr Robert Scott. Robert Scott had been involved in the investigation of the curability of tuberculosis, and it was through his investigations that he contracted tuberculosis himself and subsequently died of the disease. Upon his death he left a sizeable trust fund, overseen by his friend Mr A.E. Ward, which was to be used for local charities in Northumberland. Due to the nature of Mr Scott’s death, Mr Ward saw the scheme for a children’s tuberculosis hospital at Stannington to be a fitting receivership for the ‘Scott Trust’ and donated £500 in the first instance providing that further local support was forthcoming.

As part of the opening ceremony of the Sanatorium, Mr Ward made a further donation of £500 from the Scott Trust, making his overall contribution to the Children’s Sanatorium £1000. An additional contribution of £1000 was made towards an Endowment Fund that was set up on behalf of the Sanatorium.

In light of his significant financial contributions, a marble tablet was installed within the Sanatorium in memorial to Mr Robert Scott. This was unveiled as part of the opening ceremony by his friend and the trustee of the Scott Trust, Mr A.E. Ward.

 

The Lady Stephenson Wing

On opening the Stannington Sanatorium in 1907, it was noted by Dr. T.M. Allison that a secondary centre should be added to wards treating tuberculosis of the lungs, for those children suffering from ‘localised tuberculosis’ or extrapulmonary tuberculosis (bones, joints, glands).

This extension of the hospital became a reality in 1911 through a generous donation from the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Sir William Stephenson.  Following his first visit to the Sanatorium, Sir W.H. Stephenson enquired as to the cost of building and equipping a new wing and subsequently, after consulting his daughters, donated the full cost of £4000.

The fully furnished and equipped West Wing consisted of two floors each with two wards containing 8 beds. It also held a medical aspect to it containing a dispensary, a bacteriological room, an examination room and operating room. The new wing was to accommodate up to 50 additional patients and had the facilities to treat surgical cases, now allowing for the treatment of all types of tuberculosis.

The foundation stone for the West Wing was laid on the 13th August 1911 by the Lady Mayoress of Newcastle, Charlotte Stephenson. Miss Stephenson, the eldest daughter of Sir William Stephenson, had previously held the title of Vice-President of the Poor Children’s Holiday Association and Rescue Agency. Although she died in 1914, Miss Stephenson’s obituary found in the Newcastle Daily Journal from 7th July 1914, commended her on her philanthropic work with the association and noted she was in large part responsible for the addition of the new wing at Stannington. The West Wing was re-named ‘The Lady Stephenson Wing’

The Lady Stephenson Wing was opened on 28thOctober 1911 with the ceremony being overseen by Earl Grey (Morpeth Herald and Reporter 27/10/1911).

 

Brough Wing

The 'Brough Wing' (HOSP-STAN-11-01-42)

The ‘Brough Wing’
(HOSP-STAN-11-01-42)

Following in the footsteps of The Lady Stephenson Wing, a second additional wing was added to Stannington Sanatorium in 1926. In 1925 J.W. Brough generously funded the building of a new wing to increase capacity by another 30 beds bringing the total capacity up to 300 patients in total (Yorkshire Post 24/01/1925).

Duke of York opened the new wing presenting J.W. Brough with a silver salver, the gift of the Poor Children’s Holiday Association. He described Stannington as being ‘a national asset of the highest value’ (The Evening News 29/05/1926).

Duke of York at the opening the Brough Wing (HOSP/STAN/11/1/44)

Of Additional Note

In addition to large scale contributors noted above, there are others who contributed a smaller, but no less significant amount. George Burton Hunter, of the Swan Hunter Shipbuilding Company, in collaboration with Mr T. Swinney, of Morpeth, placed motor cars at the disposal of the Sanatorium for situations which required moving patients to alternative hospitals, occasionally in emergency circumstances.

George Burton Hunter also supplied the engine necessary to supply power to the x-ray plant, the plant having been a gift from Miss Kate Stephenson, daughter of Sir William Stephenson.

Kate Stephenson’s donations also counted a new wing, the ‘Charlotte Stephenson Wing’ named for her late sister, added to the sanatorium in 1920. This wing came in addition to the ‘Ochiltree Ward’ a donated by the late Miss Ochiltree and the ‘United Services Ward.’ All three wings, catering for a further 120 patients, were opened by the Duke of Northumberland on 30th October 1920.

Opening of the Additional Wings by the Duke of Northumberland 30th October 1920 (NRO 10361-01-05).

Opening of the Additional Wings by the Duke of Northumberland 30th October 1920 (NRO 10361-01-05).

Interior of One of the New Wings at Stannington Sanatorium (NRO 10361-01-06).

 

Sources

Wain, C (Ed). 1913. A Regeneration of Romance. Published by Andrew Reid.

 

Unreported X-Rays

Amongst the 2242 sets of patient radiographs we hold there are 55 for which we do not have any corresponding patient case notes.  Within this group of 55 there is one patient in particular that stands out as the radiographs that survive for him are the earliest original radiographs we hold with the others all being on microfiche.  The other 54 also have their patient numbers clearly marked on the radiographs and references to them can be found amongst the other records in the collection, for example admission registers and treatment registers.

 

All we know about this patient is his name and the date on which the x-rays were taken.  The three x-rays were taken in September and October of 1939 and show the boy’s right arm and right leg.  Judging from his size we are assuming he was relatively young and was evidently suffering from disease of the right tibia and right forearm.  There are no later re-admissions for this patient and so we are assuming that he either recovered and was discharged with no later relapse or that he died.  We have the sanatorium school records for the period as well and there is no mention of him there, so again we can assume he was either below school age or too ill to attend.  The only other contemporary records we have where we might expect to find him are the register of operations and the register of splints and appliances.  Again there is no reference in either of these confirming he did not receive any surgical treatment during his stay and was not issued with a splint.

 

HOSP-STAN-7-1-2-2-1 HOSP-STAN-7-1-2-2-2

HOSP-STAN-7-1-2-2-3Click on the images to enlarge

 

If you can offer any additional details about this patient from his radiographs please add them to the comments below.

This Week in World War One, 15th January 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915

 

15 JANUARY 1915

K.O.S.B’s FROM INDIA AT BERWICK BARRACKS.

 

On Tuesday morning a party numbering fifty men and two sergeants, under the command of Bandmaster Wilson from the 1st Battalion arrived at Berwick Barracks from India.  The party left Lucknow on the 5th December and they had in their care the wives and children of the men, numbering twenty-three women and forty children.  From Lucknow they proceeded to Bombay, where they embarked on the “Cosican” on the 8th of December and sailed on the 9th.  On board there was a battalion of the Border Regiment and a battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, together with details from the Royal Scots, the Middlesex Regiment, and a number of recruits for Kitchener’s Army.

Lucknow Bazaar

Lucknow Bazzar, India. London Illustrated News 1857

On Christmas Eve the sergeants on the ship assembled and formed a sergeants’ mess and after an enjoyable dinner a smoking concert was held.  New Year’s Day was spent in a cheerful manner, but as one of the party remarked “there were few Scotsmen on board and the day passed off quietly.” Excellent weather was experienced during the voyage and to while away the time games, boxing and other sports were indulged in.  The ship arrived at Bristol on Sunday, where the men were served with warmer kit as they had come from India in their light khaki clothes.  The party at Berwick are to receive permission to go on furlough to visit their relatives.  Along with Bandmaster Wilson, the other sergeants were Sergt. Robison and Sergt.Turner. Sergt Turner was drill instructor at Berwick Barracks from October 1909 to October 1910 and Sergt. Robison has also served at the Depot. Two Berwick men were with the party.  One is Lance Corp. Jamieson, who is a piper and who went to India only a year or two ago, and the other is Band boy Amers who belongs to Walkergate Berwick.

King's Own Scottish Borderers Cap Badge

King’s Own Scottish Borderers Cap Badge Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-SA-4.0

Postscript

In the 1911 census Daniel Amers is listed as living at 28 Walkergate, Berwick. At that time, he was aged 22 and was employed as a labourer. He was living with his sister, Annie who was married to David Rutherford. Six of their children were also in the household. They all lived in two rooms.

 

Matron’s Medical Report Book – Part 2

Following on from our post of 28th November we have the second entry from the Matron’s Medical Report Book with an additional 4 patients being admitted and reports on the progress of all the 9 patients currently in the sanatorium.

 

May 9th 1908

“Four new patients have come during the last month.

7. Henry James Robinson, aged 14 ½; Address 50 Warwick St, Gateshead. Admitted April 11th

8. Dorothy Tuff, aged 11; Address 181, Butler Rd, Benwell. Admitted April 20th

9. Dora Patterson, aged 16 ½; Address 10, Saltwood Place, Bensham. Admitted May 2nd

10. John Joseph Mills, aged 11 ½; Address, 50 Mansfield St, Newcastle. Admitted May 2nd

 

The total number is only 9 owing to the fact that one boy, John Nicolson, developed appendicitis on May 2nd.  He was removed by Dr Allison to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, the next morning & operated on within 2 hrs of his arrival there.

The general condition of the patients continues to improve though the gain in weight in most cases is not so striking satisfactory as during the first month.  The average gain in weight per week per person is .95 lb.

No patients have fever now.  Five of the nine patients cough up no phlegm.  Of the remaining four the sputum has been examined for tubercle bacilli in 3 cases & in 2 of these (Maggie Smith & James Robson) they were found to be present in small numbers.

The local condition is satisfactory in all patients though there is no obvious improvement in the case of J. Robson & H. Robinson & also of the latest two arrivals.

We are feeling the need of encouraging the children to do some work.  One boy (J. Kenney) is now looking after some hens that live on the field; & more light work of this kind would be much appreciated by the children & would help to improve their moral tone.

Also it is becoming increasingly desirable that the boys should be kept more separate from the girls by occupying wards on a different floor.  This would mean that another nurse would be most valuable as we find it impossible to leave the children for five minutes without regretting it.”

Boys at work on the farm, 1929 HOSP/STAN/11/1/51

Boys at work on the farm, 1929
HOSP/STAN/11/1/51

The search for Manorial Documents!

At present we are concentrating upon the collections we hold within Northumberland Archives. Based upon the original MDR card index this constitutes 22% of the manorial records known to relate to the county. A proportion of the manorial documents we hold have been item listed and are easy to load directly to the database.

Unlisted Bundles

Unlisted Bundles

Large quantities however are listed at bundle level or are mixed within totally unlisted collections. Manorial records are often found in family and estate papers. Northumberland’s major landed families held large quantities of land much of which was manorial. The head of the family was often lord of the manor. As there was no central registration of land ownership the manorial records were an important source of proof to the ownership of land and property.

We are required to identify, describe and date individual document types therefore we need to check all of this material individually to ensure we record all the manorial records we hold.

NRO 324 Deed Bundle

Unwrapped bundle

This in itself is one of the most  interesting elements of the project as you never quite know what  you are going to find amongst the unlisted records.

When we start examining the bundles we are looking for specific  types of manorial document which can often be mixed with deeds  and other records from the same collection. Luckily many can be  identified from their appearance alone. The Court Roll is a good example. Early manorial courts recorded the court proceedings on pieces of parchment which were stitched together to form a roll. This was later replaced by paper and even if not in the form of a roll these documents are often much larger and longer than other contemporary records so are quite easy to pick out from their physical appearance. 

Hexham Court Roll - unrolled!

Hexham Court Roll – unrolled!

The Court Roll format is also quite specific and always begins with the name of the manor on the left, and then to the right the type of court, the name of the lord of the manor, where the court was held and when, and the name of the presiding official. This is usually followed by a list of tenants who failed to attend court; surrenders and admissions which record changes in tenancy; a list of jurors; presentments to be considered by the jury and any other court business arising in that particular session.This general formula is very useful when dealing with rolls in Latin because the same phrases crop up and can be easily translated into English.

Morpeth Court Roll 1659 dark copy SANT-BEQ-28-1-1

Morpeth Court Roll 1659, SANT-BEQ-28-1-1

There were two types of manorial court; the Court Baron was the principal manorial court and was held every 3-4 weeks. It dealt with the main administration of the manor and offences against it. The Court Leet was held every six months and dealt with the enforcement of law and minor offences within the manor. This court usually includes the ’view of frankpledge’ a system of mutual responsibility for law and order. Court rolls can often be found together in series covering a number of months or years and may have other court papers attached to them. Each time we look at unlisted documents we are hoping to find court rolls as these provide proof that the manor existed and operated as such.