Archive for January 2016

Murder, marriages and manors: researching ownership for the Manor Authority files

In order to determine which places in Northumberland are actually manors and which aren’t we gather supporting historical evidence, and we write this up into a Manor Authority file. Every potential candidate will have one of these by the end of the project, even if it only contains a short sentence to confirm that it isn’t a manor. We use the documents discussed in previous posts and local history sources approved by The National Archives, such as the Northumberland County Histories, Hodgson’s Northumberland, Raine’s North Durham (which covers Bedlingtonshire, Norhamshire and Islandshire), and trade directories. We scour the histories for references to the manor, its description, owners and how it was passed through different hands and families. Our aim is to provide a complete account of the manor, with no gaps in ownership. However as being lord of the manor brought an income and social position these can also be fascinating stories of murder, abduction, forced marriage, theft of property and estates being squandered by profligate heirs. It isn’t always a simple case of an owner being ‘to the manor born’, you could become lord of the manor through marriage, purchase, or be rewarded with one for service to the monarch. We hope to relate some of the tales we have uncovered in future blog posts. Below we have given the example of the Manor Authority file we compiled for Ford.


Ford Parish

Alias: Foord

Geographical extent: Includes the townships of Ford, Kimmerston; Catfordlaw; Broomrigg; Flodden; Crookham; Ford; Ford Westfield ; Gatherick

Honour/Lordship details: Barony of Muschamp

Ownership:                                                                                                                            The manor of Ford was originally part of the Barony of Muschamp. By the late 13th century it was owned by the Heron family and remained in their possession until the mid-16th century. During this time it was passed mainly from father to son, with William Heron owning it by 1520. By 1557, the ownership of the manor was disputed between the Heron and Carr families because of the marriage of Thomas Carr to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Heron. The disagreement was brought to a head in 1558 with the murder of Thomas Carr. The manor then passed to the Carr family and remained with them until the early 18th century. In the 1660s, the manor was in the possession of three sisters of Thomas Carr – Margaret, married to Arthur Babington; Elizabeth, married to Francis Blake; and Susan, married to Thomas Winkles. By the early 1700s, Francis Blake had bought out the other sisters to become sole owner of the manor. He died in 1717 and the manor then passed to his grandson Francis Delaval, the child of Mary Blake and Edward Delaval, on the understanding that he assumed the surname Blake – becoming Francis Blake Delaval. The manor remained with the Delaval family until 1822 when it passed on the death of Susan Delaval to her granddaughter, Susan, Marchioness of Waterford. It remained with the Waterford family during the remainder of the 19th century. In 1907 the Ford Estate and manor were sold to Lord Joicey and have remained with Joicey family since this date.


View of Frankpledge with Court Baron – referred to in the first extant court roll – 1658


NRO 1216/A7/8 – Ford Manor Court Rolls

Northumberland County History, Vol. XI, pp.341-410

Kelly, E.R, (1914), Kelly’s Directory of Northumberland

Ford Village

BRO 0426/1037 – Ford Village around 1929


Anyone can request to see original documents like the manor court rolls in the Northumberland Archives searchroom, see our website below for how to visit.

You can also find many of the history books and directories we use online, using the following links.

Hodgson, Mackenzie and the County Histories can be found at:

Scott’s History of Berwick can be accessed using:

Trade directories are available through the University of Leicester’s special collections:

For pictures, maps and other digitised images for Ford, many of which come from our archives, try Northumberland Communities:


This Week in World War One, 21 January 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915






A very interesting musical exhibition was given by the pupils of the Beal School on Friday afternoon the whole performance testifying to the careful tuition imparted by the head teacher, Mr W. F. Blackham, and his assistant, Miss M. Reid. Since his appointment Mr Blackham has evinced much zeal and careful attention in the discharge of his responsible duties, and the result was that the short musical programme was most capably sustained on Friday, adding a pleasurable feeling in the minds of the distinguished ladies of the district, who graced the proceedings with their presence. Mrs Leyland, Haggerston Castle, presided, and there were also present, the Hon. Lady Lambton, Miss Joan Leyland, Mrs Patinson, Lowlyn, and Mr M. A. Coates, estate agent.

A recent photograph of the former Schoolhouse at Beal.

A recent photograph of the former Schoolhouse at Beal.


These gave several dainty and beautiful prizes of books, knitting cases, work baskets, etc., to the pupils who had gained distinction in their studies. Mr Blackham said he was sure that they were all very pleased to be present on that occasion to receive these prizes, and they meant more than their actual value to the successful pupils. Some might be disappointed, but he hoped those who had not been able to secure a prize would go away in the resolve and determination that they would obtain one next year. By doing so they would help themselves, and lead to better results in the school next year. (Applause.) He had received an apology from the Vicar, the Rev. W. C. Harris, who had kindly sent two prizes.




Concert –  A Concert organised by Mr Ferguson was held in the Archbold Hall, Wooler, in aid of British prisoners in Germany. The hall was crowded, most of the leading families in the district being represented. The performers were Miss K. Vincent, Mrs C. E. Brown, Mr W, Adamson, and Captain Collingwood, also the Pom Pom Pierrots, consisting of Mrs Collingwod, Miss Collingwood, Miss Ivy Fenwick, Miss Walker, Capt. Collingwood, and Mr Ferguson. The accompanists were Miss Vincent, Mr Smith, and Mr Ferguson. The proceeds amounted to about £24, the event being a great success.

Archbold Hall, Wooler (c) Berwick Record Office

Archbold Hall, Wooler (c) Berwick Record Office Ref: BRO 0426-1225


Mr George Lumsden, who has completed 50 years as a member of Berwick Board of Guardians and Norham, and Islandshires Rural District Council, is in his 78th year, and one of the oldest active cyclists on the Borders. For 34 years he farmed Shoreswood Farm, near Norham; and in his younger days was a keen hunting man. He can remember the last person – a woman – in Berwick stocks.



Arrangements for New Groups


Active arrangements are being made in Berwick for the accommodation of the new groups about to be called up under Lord Derby’s scheme. It is understood that the Royal Scots occupying the huts on the Parade will be transferred to various halls in the town, and that the new recruits will be accommodated in the vacated huts. The mobilisation of the new men should materially add to the number of soldiers in Berwick. Some 200 turned up at the Barracks on Thursday and were dispatched to their various regiments in the course of the day. A further number of recruits were expected to arrive for the K.O.S.B. by train on Thursday night.

Fuller's engraving of Berwick Barracks 1799. BRO 1637-04 (c) Berwick Record Office.

Fuller’s engraving of Berwick Barracks 1799.  (c) Berwick Record Office. Ref: BRO 1637-04




At Berwick Petty Sessions on Friday, before Messrs A. L. Miller (presiding) and A. J. Dodds, Mark Rutherford, an ex Police Superintendent, was charged with unlawfully wounding his wife, Isabella Rutherford on the previous day at lodgings at 17 Dock Road, Tweedmouth.

The Chief Constable explained that it was a case of unlawfully wounding, and he would ask for a remand until Thursday.

The complainer gave evidence to effect that the defendant struck her on the left hand side of the head with a walking stick. He had been drinking for some time past, and they had quarrelled. There was a large knob on the head of the stick, and a doctor had to be called to dress the wounds.

Police Sergeants Wilson and Moore also gave evidence as to apprehending the accused on the charge, the defendant being conveyed to the Police Station in a cart.

Mrs Colthard gave evidence to the fact that the defendant and his wife had been lodging in her house at 17 Dock Road and that she heard them quarrelling on the day mentioned.

The accused was remanded till Thursday morning.


An Ashington lad a Royal Marine & the Russian Revolution.

William Bell was born in February 1900 at the family home in Sycamore Street, New Hirst, Ashington. He was the third child (only son) to William and Agnes who also had five daughters. By the time that William reached school age at five years, the family had moved to Severn Street, New Hirst, Ashington. He attended the local school and at age thirteen years, he left to take up employment at one of the local collieries, possibly nearby Woodhorn Colliery where his deceased father had worked.

RMLINothing is known of William until just after his seventeenth birthday. Like thousands of young men, he was desperate to enlist to ‘do his bit for King and Country’. It is not known if he had his mother’s permission but on the 21st May 1917, he travelled into Newcastle upon Tyne where he enlisted in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. His service record shows that he was 17 years 3 months and 14 days of age and that by profession, he was a coal miner. The record goes on to describe him as being 5 feet 53/4 inches in height with brown eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. He had no distinguishing scars or marks on his body.

Being under the age of 18 years, he was unable to take part in active service. His record shows that he was based at the Royal Marines Light Infantry Depot, Deal, Kent for training from his enlistment until the 28th November 1917. He then transferred to the Marines depot at Portsmouth where he underwent further training until 3rd May 1918. His record shows that he was classed as ‘very good’ in infantry and musketry drills and his sea going gunnery skills were also classed as ‘very good’.

hms canadaBy now, as William was eighteen years of age, he was able to go on active service. On the 4th May 1918, he joined the Marines aboard the battleship HMS Canada, part of the Royal Navy’s 1st Battle Squadron. By October 1918, HMS Canada was with the British Grand Fleet which was preparing for a major sea battle with the German Navy, a battle that never took place due to mutiny aboard the German ships. William remained on board HMS Canada until she returned to Portsmouth on the 29th March 1919
The 4th April 1919, saw William joining Marines aboard HMS Glory, a battleship that was the Flagship of the British North Russia Squadron and had been stationed at the White Sea (Russia) port of Archangel since 1916. The primary role of HMS Glory was to ensure that urgently needed supplies reached the Russian Army in their fight on the Eastern Front against the Germans. However, the Bolshevik revolution of March 1917 greatly complicated the British position in northern Russia. For a brief period the British fleet and Royal Marines cooperated with the Bolsheviks against the Finns and their German allies, helping to move reinforcements and equipment to exposed parts of Northern Russia. This ended in November 1917 when the Bolsheviks declared Russia as being neutral and ceased fighting against the German Army. The Eastern Front Army were then diverted to the Western Front which caused great alarm amongst the Allies. The Allies decided that the troops in Northern Russia would support the Russian White Army in their fight against the Bolsheviks. The hope was that the White Army would overcome the Bolsheviks and that Russia would re-join the Allies, forcing the Germans to move men back to the Eastern Front.hms glory

The Allies continued to fight alongside the White Russian Army, but by January 1919, they found themselves being pushed back to Archangel. It was soon after this that a decision was made that all Allied troops would be withdrawn, leaving the White Russians to fight the Bolsheviks alone. Allied reinforcements in the form of Royal Marines (including William) arrived to assist in the withdrawal of all Allied troops. The withdrawal continued over the next six months until finally HMS Glory left Archangel at the beginning of October arriving back at Portsmouth on the 8th October.

William remained in Portsmouth until his discharge on the 17th November 1919 when he then returned to the family home in Ashington.

It is not known what William did for work when he arrived home, but as his mother was a widow, it is highly likely that he returned to his earlier profession as a coal miner.

William married Isabella Gray in 1928 and it is known from the 1931 baptism record of their first daughter that William was the publican of the Station Hotel in Blyth. The family were still there at the time of the birth of their second daughter in 1936.

By 1938, William was the manager of the North Seaton Hotel, Ashington, a position that he kept for several years, possibly until his death in 1947.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Allan Robinson for supplying this article for our Northumberland At War Project.

‘Aliens at Woodhorn’

At the outbreak of First World War, under the terms of the Alien Registration Act and British Nationality Act, all aliens over the age of 16 were required to register at local police stations and to demonstrate a good character and knowledge of English. This was due in part to a fear of spies. Those registering were required to provide details of name, address, marital status and employment as well as information about their background and origins. Northumberland Archives holds almost 300 ‘aliens files’ amongst the records of Northumberland Constabulary (ref: NC/3/46-48). One of our project volunteers, Hilary Love, has looked at some of the files and written this article about one of the cases recorded.
No, the Archives hasn’t been invaded by little green men! There are numerous files stored at Woodhorn giving details of a wide range of people, from travelling musicians to miners, designated as Aliens in Northumberland during World War One. They give a fascinating glimpse into their nationalities and lives, the bureaucracy and paperwork involved in recording their movements and the mindset and suspicions towards any foreigner, regardless of how long they may have lived in England.
They can also be frustrating as the records only record their lives while they are in Northumberland so, once they have moved out of the County, there is no record of what happened to them.
One example is a file relating to Helene Grundmann, a Governess, who, in September 1914, applied for a permit to travel to Cornhill on Tweed. There was no objection to her residing at the Manse, Crookham and a letter from the Superintendent at Alnwick Police Office explained that she was the sister of the Reverend Moses Forsyth’s wife. NC-3-46-2-27 GRUNDMANN CHANGE REPORT
The Alnwick Police Office wrote to the Chief Constable of Northumberland in November 1914 to inform him that they had received a letter from J. Fenwick in Longframlington pointing out that there were Germans at Crookham Manse and that the Vicar of Branxton had declared that he could send messages to Germany through his agent in Holland. The clergy were obviously not above suspicion!
The Superintendent at Alnwick explained that the Reverend Forsyth’s wife was German and that she did not need to register at the time that the Act came into operation. Her sister had come from London and all her papers were in order. He didn’t know anything about the Vicar of Branxton but would make private enquiries and report back to the Chief Constable.
Enquiries were duly made and the report referring to the Vicar of Branxton, the Reverend Charles Ernest Hoyle, gave details of a letter he had read out at one of his meetings in the Reading Room at Branxton on 26th October 1914, which he’d received from a German lady. She had stayed with Reverend Hoyle in the summer but had gone back to Germany when war broke out. The letter stated that “this lady didn’t intend to speak to an Englishman again. England had been the cause of the war.” The Superintendant made it clear that Reverend Hoyle in no way favoured the Germans and no mention had been made of Belgian refugees or of an Agent in Holland.NC-3-46-2-27 GRUNDMANN LETTER
The War Office then entered the picture and wrote to Fullarton James, Chief Constable, in September 1918, and asked him what he knew of Mrs. Moses Forsyth: “Is she of German origin and is there any truth in the statement that she is exerting a very harmful influence over the minds of the village people by inculcating sentiments of disloyalty and anti-patriotism.”

The reply from the Superintendent, Alnwick Police Office, dated 1st October, 1918, states that Mrs. Forsyth is a German by birth but has been married to Mr. Forsyth for some years. “…. from enquiries made, I am quite certain that there is no truth in the statement that she is exerting a very harmful influence …. I am of the opinion that this complaint comes from the Church of England in the district by Mrs. Florence Neville, (a former Vicar’s wife), now of 8 Manor Head, Oxford, who was at one time resident at Ford, which is in the Crookham district. The district is a very small population and I cannot see what influence she could have over them; it is nothing to my mind but a case of petty spite.”

The final document, dated 23rd January 1923, is addressed to Miss H. Grundmann, returning her passport which had been re-endorsed to enable her to remain in the United Kingdom until 7th May 1923.

This is only one of many cases which are available at Woodhorn. Some contain very little and others contain many documents and give enough detail, covering several years, to piece together a good picture of the life of a registered Alien during the War.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Hilary Love for supplying this article for our Northumberland At War Project.

This Week in World War One, 7 January 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915





The celebration of the New Year in the streets of the ancient borough of Berwick appeared to maintained in much the customary fashion despite the effects of the war. The weather was dull and wet, but the streets bore an animated appearance, the khaki uniform predominating among the pedestrians. The lighting restrictions, combined with the weather exercised a damping effect on the majority of grown-ups, but the young idea moved about exchanging the compliments of the season in a hearty and hilarious fashion, while lively and  popular songs added zest and variety to the proceedings.

Berwick Playhouse 1958. Copyright Berwick Record Office BRO-1250-123.

Berwick Playhouse 1958. Copyright Berwick Record Office BRO-1250-123.

The only place of public entertainment in the Borough, the Playhouse, drew large crowds, and the performances were very much appreciated. The shops drew large numbers in the making of seasonable purchases, and in laying in additional supplies to tide the householder over till Monday. As the evening advanced the thoroughfares assumed a more livelier air, the hum of voices and merry shout emphasising the fact that the old year was slowly vanishing, and that the majority were out for the night to witness the actual death. As usual a number seemed to give way to over indulgence, but as a reasonable latitude was for  once allowed the police were not called upon to interfere, the result being that there was a clean bill on the first morning of 1916. Towards midnight large numbers assembled at the foot of the Town Hall to hear the knell of the old year and the peel that welcomed the new born year. The usual good wishes were exchanged and thereafter friendly visits were paid to the houses of acquaintances. For a considerable time after twelve o’clock the thoroughfares resounded to the shouts of the merry makers. Saturday was a general holiday. The weather continued dull and wet, and few people were to be seen in the streets. The special performances at the Playhouse were again well patronised. On the whole the New Year was quietly celebrated, all circumstances tending to have this effect.



The Mayor of Berwick (Ald J. W. Plenderleith), has just been notified by the authorities in charge of the Scottish Command in Edinburgh that a captured German gun is being sent to Berwick for exhibition purposes. In making the notification it was enquired which would be the most convenient site to have the gun placed, and His Worship in reply suggested the Parade between the military huts and Wallace Green Church.

Army huts with the Berwick Barracks in background. Copyright Berwick Record Office. BRO-1944-1-149-1

Army huts with the Berwick Barracks in background. Copyright Berwick Record Office.                                                             BRO-1944-1-149-1

The military authorities have expressed themselves pleased with the proposed site, and the gun will be exhibited in presence of a military guard. It is understood that the captured gun will be on exhibition for three days from nine a.m. till four p.m. and that it will be removed to the Barracks each evening. No definite date has yet been fixed for the arrival of the gun.


On December 27th, at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Sunderland, the marriage was solemnised of Mr E. Norman Chapman, York, to Miss Sadie Waters, daughter of Mr Thomas Waters, Wooler. The bride was given away by her father, and the bridesmaid was Miss M. H. Brand, cousin of the bride. Miss Allison James and master Reggie Waters, niece and nephew of the bride, acted as attendants. The best man was Mr E. Settle of York. Rev. R. L. Wiseman officiated. The bride was charmingly attired in a costume of saxe blue galardine, trimmed fur, with hat to match. She carried a lovely shower bouquet, and wore a brooch of rubies and diamonds, the gifts of the bridegroom. The bridesmaid wore a costume of navy blue and large white hat, and a gold bangle, the gift of the bridegroom. The bridegroom’s gift to Miss Allison James, who looked very pretty in a dress of pale grey, was a gold chain pendant, and to Master R. Waters a silver watch and chain. A reception was held at the house of the bride’s brother, Hunter Terrace, and later the new-married couple left for their future home in York. They were the recipients of a large number of useful and beautiful presents.


Bankhill Church Intercessory Services – The Rev. R. Leggat at the morning intercessory service on Sunday read the roll of honour of the young men attached to the Early 1900s French and British boy scouts with their respective national flags. Source Bibliothèque nationale de France. Wikimedia Commons PD-1923.congregation. He mentioned that 27 were on active service, while all the men of military age, with the exception of three who were exempts, had enrolled under the Derby Scheme.  New Pipe Band – The first appearance of the Berwick Boy Scouts Pipe Band under Piper Major Lawrie, of the Royal Scots, took place at the Pier Field, on Saturday, the occasion on being a football match between the Boy Scouts and the Sea Scouts, in which the former won by four goals to one. The band made a very creditable appearance, and the selections were much enjoyed.

The Diary of an ‘Unknown’ First World War Soldier.

In September 2014, I heard that Northumberland Archives needed volunteers to delve into the experience of the First World War. As an amateur archaeologist I am interested in history and thought this would be a fascinating project to get involved in, and as I do freelance work, I would be able to do it when I was not working.
I went along to the training days which were very interesting. I was already familiar with the family history section of the archives at Woodhorn as we have been researching my husband’s family, the Lindsays of Alnwick. On completion of the training days we were each given a project to undertake and mine was to transcribe the diary of an ‘unknown’ First World War soldier which had been handed in to the Archives.
I found this to be utterly fascinating. The diary is very well written, full of humorous stories, heart breaking and vivid accounts of the writer’s experience of death and war, drawings, and even a theatrical programme! I actually found it a privilege to be one of very few people to read this diary since it was written. Some of his accounts moved me to tears and brought the whole experience of the war very close to me, and as a mother, I couldn’t help but be mindful that each account of a soldier dying such an awful and lonely death was somebody’s son. I was privilege to details of their deaths that their mothers probably never knew. The author reveals a loyalty to his country, respect for superiors and acceptance of ‘doing one’s duty’ which is rare today.

One of a number of drawings found within the diary.

One of a number of drawings found within the diary.

I became so interested in this man’s stories that I really wanted to find out who he was. He gave some clues along the way, such as the fact that he knew a lot about sheep and farming. A German steamer had run aground near Cheswick Burn ‘to the south of our land’, and his brother had been in command of the coastguard at Berwick. From this it was clear that he had some connection with farming in an area I am very familiar with in Northumberland, and I thought that it would be easy using the internet to find out the name of his brother. I had no luck and emailed the RNLI and other organisations such as the website of the London Scottish, his regiment, but had no replies. I took my husband along to have a look at the diary and we read on further. The words jumped out from the page when we read that his ‘dear brother Cecil’ was killed whilst in command of the cruiser H.M.S. Bayano on 12th March 1915. This was an enormous clue. We went home and spent the evening in pursuit of our soldier and found him.
Using Google we found that his brother was called Henry Cecil Carr who was 43 when he went down with his ship. From this, I had his birth year so I then looked at census records and found Cecil in the 1881 census when he was 8, along with his father John Carr who was a Merchant and Justice of the Peace, five sisters and 4 brothers, Reginald E, George, Hubert and John E. Which one was our soldier? The census showed that they had all been born in Gosforth and were living at Roseworth Cottage, Coxlodge. I then found Cecil in the 1911 census living in Rochester, Kent, with his occupation as ‘Royal Navy Commander’ so I knew we had the right family.
With these clues, I googled and found that Reginald E was the coastguard, so that narrowed our unknown soldier down to George, Hubert or John E. Remembering that our soldier had mentioned ‘our land’, I decided to look at Kelly’s Trade Directory for 1914 for Berwick, and found one John Evelyn Carr on page 21 as Manager of Scremerston Coal Company, coal owners and merchants, brick and tile manufacturers and farmers. I strongly suspected we had our man! (It was midnight by this time).
I was about to do some double checking to make sure this was our soldier and decided just to put his name into Google to see if there was any more information on the net about him. I got a shock! Up popped an entry for Northumberland Archives about one John Evelyn Carr who had written 4 war diaries, and who had had a special study on him done by Emily Meritt in 2014. I read her work about the soldier and recognised from the information about him that my soldier and hers were one and the same person! There was even a photo of him, which I found fascinating I could now put a face to the person behind the diary. His words had also featured in a book called ‘Tommy at War 1914-18, the Soldiers’ own Stories’ by John Sadler, and I found another photograph and information that he had been a sheep breeder on ‘Historypin’. The mystery was solved but I was a tiny bit disappointed that my soldier had already been known about, and his diary wasn’t unique. He seems to have been a prolific writer! We have still to find out if my diary is part of the four already known about, or separate.
The Cloth Hall, Ypres.

The Cloth Hall, Ypres.

I found out that he had been married in 1900 at St Andrew’s, Newcastle to one Gertrude Isabella Moncriff Blair (obviously not a scullery maid). He had worked after the war as Managing Director of the Scremerston Coal Company and lived at Heathery Tops Scremerston and Spittal, where he died in 1958. I have recently found out that there is a farmer whose surname is Carr who farms at Scremerston today and am minded to get in touch with him to see if he is a relative. It would be interesting to know how the diary came to be in the Archives and not cherished by John Carr’s family as a precious heirloom.
One of a number of funny cartoon drawings found within the diary

One of a number of funny cartoon drawings found within the diary

I feel that I know this man. I think he descends from The Carrs of Etal who once owned Barmoor Castle where our family have a holiday home today. It is odd that he was born and brought up about half a mile from where I live, and that he lived and worked in an area I know well and love. I even know the road where he lived in Spittal. It was meant to be that I got to transcribe his diary, and I hope I can do justice to his bravery and brilliant storytelling, so that other people can experience the immediacy, humour and sorrow that I have felt while transcribing it.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Carole McKenzie for supplying this article for our Northumberland At War Project.

Beyond the court rolls – other manorial documents

In our first post we looked at some of the court rolls, and in the second how the courts worked. We will now explore some of the other documents that we commonly use to determine whether a place is a manor, and what else we can find out from them. From the documents we can learn more about agriculture and diet of the period, crime and the way criminals were treated, urban growth and industrial development, and land, house or property ownership. There is excellent scope for local history studies from these documents and the detail they give of land boundaries and the individuals who held them. There is also huge potential for genealogists – though you may think they would only provide information about the landed classes, some court rolls and other documents list the names of those renting or holding land by service. Here we have divided up the documents we use thematically.

Geographical documents

ZCR M-02 (AWARD) Survey of CrasterSurveys – as you would expect, these are descriptions of the manor and its boundaries. This can be very useful when trying to identify what land was owned by whom. They often also detail the customs of the manor, which often differed from place to place.

ZCR/M/2: Survey of demesne of Manor of Craster, Northumberland


Terriers – a survey arranged topographically, showing you the manor field by field or where open fields existed, strip by strip.

Maps – from the sixteenth century this survey information is commonly laid out in the form of maps. These marked out the boundaries, adjoining manors or parishes, and topographical features. Unlike the terriers these would be done to scale, and became increasingly accurate as time went on. 

NRO 452-E-3-3-1-2 Blanchland boundary rollBoundary roll – Description of the manorial boundary, though not a full perambulation.

NRO 00452/E/3/3/1/2: Blanchland Bounder Roll, Northumberland.

Perambulation – A long description of walk around the boundary, detailing local landmarks.

Land holding and ownership

Rentals – the names of all the tenants of the manor, however they held it, with a description of what they held and how much they paid, and what form their payment took. Payments could be in the form of money or produce. If they were expected to provide services it would say what these were. These weren’t as frequent as accounts or court rolls and sadly don’t always survive.

Custumals – The survey of rents, services owed by the tenants to the lord of the manor, the rights of the lord, the obligations he owed, and the customs of the manor. These would need to be examined occasionally, and everyone reminded of what these were to avoid confusion. Often the customs or rents changed, for example if services or produce were exchanged for payments of money.


Extents – An often earlier form of rental, a valuation and description of everything on the manor, such as the manor house, mills, demesne land (much like a ‘home farm’, the land near the manor house farmed for the lord), tenant’s rents and services.


ZCO IX-5 1 cropped imageSurrenders and admissions – The transferral of copyhold land from one owner to the next was done by one owner ‘surrendering’ his or her claim to the lord, who then ‘admitted’ the next tenant. This would be written down in the court roll, and the new tenant would be given a copy of what was written, hence this being called ‘copyhold’.

ZCO IX/5/1: Enclosure Act for Ovingham, Bywell St Peter and Bywell St Andrew.

Enclosure Awards – Enclosure was the practice of taking areas of unused land, strip fields or common and dividing them into privately owned fields. This would be done through private act of parliament up until about 1800, after which public acts were made possible, and from 1845 Commissioners were appointed to oversee the process of enclosure and issue enclosure awards. The awards detail how the land was divided and who the owners were.


Court papers

Presentment ZBL 2-13-21Presentments – lists of the matters to be dealt with by the court, such as disagreements between tenants or disobeying the manor customs, often drawn up beforehand by the jury. They might often be included in the court roll. ZBL 2/13/21 has some interesting examples including those brought before the court for offences such as ‘speaking scandalous words’ of someone or ‘wrongful mowing’ of someone else’s meadow.

ZBL 2/13/21: Presentments at Melkridge

Suit rolls or Call books – like an attendance register of everyone who owed suit to the court or attended the court. In some places these could be resident books, not only of the tenants but of everyone who lived in the manor. They might be kept within the court books.

Customs of the manor – a list of the individual customs of the manor, such as how many animals an individual could feed on the common

Stewards’ papers

 Accounts – These would be kept by the steward or bailiff of the manor, usually annually at Michaelmas (the 29th September), and marked the income and outgoings of the manor. For example ‘charges’ or income from the rents, money from sale of produce or fines; and ‘discharges’ or expenditure from purchasing livestock, repairs or labour.

Appointment of bailiff – a bailiff was a manager for the day-to-day running of the manor appointed by the lord. In some cases the role would be unpaid, with one of the tenants being elected annually to serve as ‘Reeve’ or ‘Greave’. This document would detail the bailiff’s appointment in the role.

Notice of court – letter to the lord notifying him of holding the court, or a notice often posted on the church door, giving the date, time and location of the court.

Correspondence – between the lord and the steward over various court matters.



The new Stannington Project assistants

Our new Project Assistant

As highlighted in our previous blog posts the second phase of the Stannington Sanatorium project is now underway. Using a second tranche of funding from the Wellcome Trust this phase will make digitised copies of the patient files covering the period 1946-1966 and re-package them in conservation grade materials. Our new Project Assistant began in early November. Her part-time role will involve determining which are the most important or ‘core’ documents, separating them from the rest by means of an archival standard brass paper clip. They are then enveloped in a four-flapped folder, made from acid-free card, tied and labelled with its own reference number. This way we can help to preserve the original documents for years to come.

Our new Project Digitisation Assistant

Our new Project Digitisation Assistant

The Project Digitisation Assistant, will then make Jpeg and Tiff image files of each document. Digital copies of the core documents will be redacted, removing the names and personal information of the patients and attached to our online catalogue. This will mean that although they will be accessible from anywhere in the world, that patient confidentiality will still be maintained. They will provide an excellent resource for those studying the treatment of Tuberculosis, and the lives of children in hospitals in the mid-twentieth century. We will be posting in the coming months about our progress, so please look out for how we are getting on. We will also be creating a Flickr set of a typical case file including all contents. This too will be redacted to protect patient confidentiality. Please remember to look at our new online exhibition about Stannington Sanatorium, available at

This Week in World War One, 31 December 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915






The amount of Christmas work dealt with at Berwick Post Office was very much the same as last year, but being spread over a longer period the pressure was not so much felt in consequence. Although the staff has been greatly depleted during the past year everyone put their shoulder to the wheel and the work went through expeditiously. Extra hours were, of course, worked, and the praiseworthy arrangement of supplying refreshment to the workers on the premises was once more in operation.

WW1 Xmas postcard 1915.

WW1 Xmas postcard 1915.

Extra help was brought in for rural deliveries in the shape of motor and other vehicles, while the Oddfellows’ Hall again proved a useful clearing house. Parcels delivered during the Christmas week amounted to about 6000, but there was not the usual postings of Christmas cards. A special and most noticeable feature was the large number of parcels posted for soldiers at the front, causing at times very great pressure, out-going mails being very heavy. For the first time at Christmas women were employed to do delivery and collection duty in place of the men on active service and officials speak in glowing terms of the way they discharged their duties. There is still a considerable amount of parcel and other postings passing through, but it is not anticipated that the staff will be heavily taxed at New Year.



Interesting Notes on Christmas Carols


An attractive carol concert on behalf of the National Institute for the Blind was given in the Queen’s Rooms, Berwick, on Thursday evening by a number of local talented ladies and gentlemen. The principal object was to assist in raising funds to assist those soldiers and sailors who have lost their sight during the war and for their maintenance in a hostel for the purpose of teaching them some useful trade.

Blinded by tear gas in World War One, 55th (West Lancashire) Division troops await treatment at an advanced dressing station.

Blinded by tear gas in World War One, 55th (West Lancashire) Division troops await treatment at an advanced dressing station.


The soloists were Mrs Shepherd, Miss E. Elder, and Messrs Abbott and Riddell, while a duet was rendered by Miss Harbottle and Mr Riddell. Messrs R. Stott and Smith also took part in the programme of carols. The conductor was Mr Geo. Ballantyne, and the accompanist, Miss Skeldon. The programme was ably sustained the whole of the pieces being feelingly and tunefully interpreted, the efforts meeting with the cordial approval of the audience. A feature in the programme was a lecture on carols by Dr Gauntlett, organist and choirmaster in the Parish Church.




Corner Accident– An accident which might have been attended by serious results took place on Friday last at the foot of Hide Hill. It appears that a tub trap driven by a young lady named Miss Brown, of Tweedmouth, was taking the corner when a collision occurred with a motor car belong to Messrs McBain, Tweedmouth. The tub trap was upset and the young lady received a severe shaking. Happily she suffered no injury, although the pony was slightly cut by the collision. This is only one of many accidents which have taken place at the corners of Hide Hill from time to time, and each succeeding accident accentuates that fact that these sharp turnings are entirely out of date in coping with modern vehicular traffic.



Again we have reached the closing days of another year. Too well we realise the terrible experiences we have come through during the past twelve months, for there are few homes that have not had their full share of the awful miseries of the Great War. To the bereaved and the maimed ordinary sympathy seems utterly inadequate, and a quiet and subdued silence often speaks more eloquently than any human words can utter. Time is the great healer and consoler in affliction, and it will only be the soothing influence of the ever-revolving seasons that will adequately supply the balm and needed comfort to so many aching hearts which are so utterly bereft. As we approach the end of the year it is natural that many should raise conjectures as to the position the country will be in by another year. Will the war be over? Who can tell. At the same time it seems highly improbable that its duration will extend so long. The material and national resources of Germany will be exhausted ere that time, and there may be an internal upheaval of the Teutonic empire that will hasten the close of the awful devastation.

Picture of Serbian infantry on Ada Ciganlija during the First World War. Wikimedia Commons

Picture of Serbian infantry on Ada Ciganlija during the First World War. Wikimedia Commons


Already the national credit of Germany is steadily diminishing in the exchanges of neutral countries, and this must have a very important bearing on events in the opening periods of the new year. As we make a brief and general survey of the year that is nearly finished we have – great and acute as our sorrows are – reason to feel grateful that we have escaped the general holocaust that has overtaken Belgium, the North of France, and Serbia. And when we think of the recent awful massacres of the Armenian people it makes us realise this more fully. For had the brutal enemy been enabled to land on these shores we would have experienced this to the full. A small sample of it was shown a year ago in the bombardment of defenceless east coast towns where no discrimination or humanity was shown.

Notwithstanding the serious nature of the times we are passing through we desire to wish all our readers