Archive for June 2016

Brothers- in- Law

Private Walter Etheridge, 16th Northumberland Fusiliers.

Walter was born in Stokesby, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in 1883. He was one of ten children born to Ben and Ellen Etheridge. Ben was a Shoe Repairer by profession.

On the 1901 census Walter and his elder brother Ben, were living in lodgings in Choppington, Northumberland with the Minshall family. Both Walter and Ben were working below ground at Choppington Colliery.

In 1903 Walter married Phyllis Blanche Howard who had also had come from Norfolk. They moved to Ashington, where in 1911 they were living at 10 Poplar Street. They had 3 children, Walter John 5 years, Cyril 3 years and Gladys 1 year.

After Walter’s death Phyllis Blanche Etheridge, never remarried and died on 26 February, aged 75 years still living in Ashington, Northumberland.

Walter enlisted 7th December 1914, with his brother in law Albert Gardner. Albert had married Walter’s sister, Lily Etheridge.


Walter Etheridge's name on memorial

Walter Etheridge’s name on memorial


On the eve of the Battle of the Somme the Battalion moved off in platoons from Knights Redoubt to the trenches via Martinsart, Aveluy Wood and Black Horse Bridge. Their movement was slow as the roads were crowed with troops, guns, ammunition columns. For miles the route to the trenches was just one mass of men, horses and vehicles. As they got closer to the trenches the toll of human life began and the battalion took many casualties before they even reached their battle position where they were to relieve the 2nd Battalion Inniskillings at 0230hours.

Walter and Albert’s were in No 5 Platoon, ‘B’ Company, which was chosen to lead the attack from Hamilton Avenue to Maison Brise Sap. Zero hour was 0730hours and for five hours the battalion stood too, crowded in their trenches. At zero hour the leading waves scrambled over the top of the parapet and the men were picked off by accurate German rifle and machine gun fire. Walter’s commanding officer was killed immediately and Walter possibly not long after him.

‘B’ Company was Commanded by Captain P. G. Graham and Sergeant G. Robertson and both of these were killed on 1st July along with Walter and Albert as well as 16 of their comrades. Of the 42 Other Ranks of No. 5 Platoon, ‘B’ Company that took part in the first day of the battle 31of the men were wounded or killed.

Did Walter and Albert die side by side that day?

However, unlike his brother in law, Walter’s body must never have been found as he has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B 11B and 12B.


Private Albert William Gardner, 16th Nothumberland Fusiliers.

Born in 1883, in Northampton. The 1901 census, has Albert living as a boarder at 22 Ebenezer Tenancy, Gilbert Road, Erith, South London, with the Holmes family, he was working as a Labourer. He married Lily May Etheridge in 1906 in Wiltshire. Sometime after this they move to Ashington.

On 1911 census, they are living with their new baby son at 41half Hawthorn Terrace. Ashington, Northumberland. Lily’s brother Alfred Etheridge, is also living with them. Both men are working as Stonemen underground at the local colliery.

Albert enlisted December 1914 in Newcastle with his brother in law Walter Etheridge. Albert had married Walter’s sister Lily. Both were attached to the ‘B’ Company No. 5 Platoon, 16th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. He was one of the many killed on 1st July 1916 his headstone reads “Thy will be done”

The battalion formed in later 1914 and went to Alnwick Camp in December 1914 for training. On arrival in Alnwick they were welcomed by the band of 4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers “Who played us down the hill to the Lion Bridge and up the hill to the camp”. In camp the Battalion had regular hours of exercise and training as well as good rations and invigorating fresh air which resulted in most of the men putting on weight. Their khaki uniforms arrived in the New Year along with harder training and longer route marches together with tactical manoeuvres.

The Battalion’s stay in Alnwick was abruptly ended and they board special trains to take them to Cramlington at only a few hours, notice. They were under the impression that they were sent there in case of the enemy landing on the North East Coast. They were marched out of Alnwick Camp by the pipes and drums.

The move to Cramlington was done in three stages. The first consisted of the Headquarters staff together with “A” and “B” Companies who were very smart and soldierly, then by “C” and “D” Companies who were less smart and soldierly as they were loaded down with extra rifles, boxes of ammunition, picks, shovels and other equipment and then finally the Clearing-up party. Their first night in Cramlington was spent in the open as they did not have time to erect their tents. It rained all night!

After spells at Catterick Bridge and Codford St Mary Camps the Battalion left for France on 20 November 1915, bound for Folkestone and the ‘Glorious Adventure Beyond’.

On the eve of the Battle of the Somme the Battalion moved off in platoons from Knights Redoubt to the trenches via Martinsart, Aveluy Wood and Black Horse Bridge. Their movement was slow as the roads were crowed with troops, guns, ammunition columns. For miles the route to the trenches was just one mass of men, horses and vehicles. As they got closer to the trenches the toll of human life began and the battalion took many casualties before they even reached their battle position where they were to relieve the 2nd Battalion Inniskillings at 0230hours.

Albert’s company was chosen to lead the attack from Hamilton Avenue to Maison Brise Sap. Zero hour was 0730hours and for five hours the battalion stood too, crowded in their trenches. At zero hour the leading waves scrambled over the top of the parapet and the men were picked off by accurate German rifle and machine gun fire. Albert’s commanding officer was killed immediately and Albert possibly not long after him.

‘B’ Company was Commanded by Captain P. G. Graham and Sergeant G. Robertson and both of these were killed on 1st July along with Albert, Walter his brother in law and 16 of his comrades. Of the 42 Other Ranks of No. 5 Platoon ‘B’ Company, that took part in the first day of the battle 31of the men were wounded or killed.

Albert is buried at Serre Road Cemetery No 1.


Albert Etheridge's name on memorial

Albert Etheridge’s name on memorial

Charlton Brothers

Hugh Vaughan Charlton

Hugh was born 1883, in London the eldest son of Mr John Charlton, who was a well-known Painter of 6 William Street, Knightsbridge, London and 24 Windsor Street, Newcastle. Hugh’s father was born in Bamburgh, Northumberland on 28 June 1849 and was an artist of some note. He debuted at Royal Academy in 1870 and decided to move to London, where Hugh was born. He painted Hugh and his brother John sitting with their grandmother, the painting has since been lost. He did a Posthumous portrait of John that was exhibited in Spring 1917.

On the 1911 census Hugh was living 44 Beverley Terrace, Cullercoats, Tynemouth as an Artist Painter. He was educated at The Mount, Northallerton and Alderham School, Watford, Herts. He also studied at Armstrong College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and joined the O.T.C. [Officers Training Corps] while there. He obtained his commission in August 1915 and went to France on 13 March 1916.

Hugh was an artist of promise and the ‘Yorkshire Post’ on 27 December 1916, published the total of his will – £3858.  Killed in action, struck by a bomb from a trench mortar. His obituary was published on 1 September 1916 in “British Birds” journal (along with obituary to his brother John MacFarlane Charlton):-

LIEUTENANT HUGH VAUGHAN CHARLTON, NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS – Fell in action near Whychaate, on June 24th, 1916, struck by a bomb from a trench mortar. He was thirty-two years of age, and joined the Armstrong College O.T.C., receiving his commission in August of last year. He also, was a clever ornithologist, and the brothers worked much together, though Hugh’s inclinations leaned towards animal painting, for which he studied in Newcastle, Edinburgh and London. Birds were his speciality; his work was very artistic and he had a fine sense of colour and beauty in nature and in art, and was a sound critic. His paintings had already been hung in exhibitions in the cities where he had carried on his studies. One of his pictures, “The Home of the Dipper,” was exhibited in the Royal Academy of 1912.


Hugh Vaughan Charlton

Hugh Vaughan Charlton


As an officer he had earned warm tributes of affection from his Colonel and comrades, he devoted all his energies to his military duties, and, what makes his death doubly sad, is the knowledge that he had, a few days before, received an important appointment on the Staff.

Both the Charlton’s were keen sportsmen, taking special interest in wildfowling, for which they had exceptional opportunities on the Northumberland coast. It may truly be said of them that they would have shone in whatever profession they choose. They were patterns of honour, integrity and gentlemanly character, as well as being charming companions. The writer deeply deplores their untimely death, a feeling that is shared by all who knew them, and lovers of natural history will regret that ornithology has lost two students of great promise. Their father is Mr. John Charlton, the well-known artist, of Knightsbridge, S.W., and Newcastle-on-Tyne. On their mother’s side they were great-grandsons of the late John Vaughan, one of the pioneers of the Cleveland Iron Trade and grandsons of the late Thomas Vaughan, of Gunnergate Hall, Middlesbrough.

Newcastle Journal 24 July 1916PUBLIC NOTICES. A MEMORIAL SERVICE in Memory of LIEUTENANT H.V. CHARLTON and CAPTAIN J.M. CHARLTON, both of the Northumberland Fusiliers, sons of Mr John Charlton, of Banks House, Lanercost, and Newcastle-on-Tyne, will be held in LANERCOST ABBEY, on THURSDAY, July 27th, at 3.15 p.m. Conveyances will meet the train from Newcastle at Brampton Junction at 2.40, and will be at the Abbey after the service in time for the 4.45 train to Newcastle for those who wish to return by it.

Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough 24 July 1916TWO BROTHERS KILLED. Amongst North-country officers who have fallen in action in France are the two sons of Mr John Charlton, the eminent animal painter, of Knightsbridge, London, and Newcastle upon Tyne. The elder son, Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Charlton, Northumberland Fusiliers, named after his grandfather, the late Mr Thomas Vaughan, of Gunnergate Hall, Middlesbrough, was killed on 24th June; and the younger, Captain John Macfarlane Charlton, on 1st July (the 25th anniversary of his birthday). Lieutenant Charlton joined the O.T.C., Armstrong College, and received his commission in August last year. Captain Charlton, who was educated in Uppingham, enlisted in the Northumberland Hussars, and was afterwards attached to the Tyneside Scottish. Both the deceased officers were keen naturalists and sportsmen. St. George’s Church, Cullercoats.

Roll of Honour August 1916 – To Mr John Charlton in the death of both his sons, young men who promised to make their mark in the world. His grave is in La Laitere Military Cemetery, south of Ieper (Ypres). Grave Reference: VI. A. 7.


John Macfarlane Charlton

Born 1891 in Kensington, London, son of Mr John Charlton, the well-known painter of 6 William St, Knightsbridge, London. John joined the Northumberland Yeomanry, Oct. 1914 and received a commission in the 21st Battalion in November the same year.

After volunteering in 1914, Captain Charlton trained with his battalion, the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish Brigade) throughout 1915. In 1916, the Brigade embarked for France and experienced life in the trenches on the Western Front in the early months of 1916.  A few days before John was killed he wrote to a wife of a fallen soldier;-

“Dear Mrs Welsh, I expect by now you will have heard of the death of your husband Corporal Welsh. I write these few lines to express my admiration of your husband. The day previous to his death, he held out with his section against the enemy and by rapid firing under heavy shell fire, he helped greatly in maintaining the position. I congratulated him on the way he had held on and he replied his motto was ” never say die” I only wish I had more of his like in the company, and I want you to try and feel that in laying down his life as he has done, he has won the admiration and love of his, comrades and officers. My brother officers and myself wish to express to you our deepest sympathy to yourself and your children in your great sorrow. Yours Sincerely, J. M. Charlton, Captain.

On 1 July 1916 the Northumberland Fusiliers were in the front line with orders to attack the German strong point of La Boiselle. At exactly 07.30 Captain Charlton and the other Company commanders led their men into No Man’s Land towards the German lines.  As the British troops reached the point of no return, machine gun crews of the Bavarian Infantry Regiment subjected them to withering fire. Despite heavy casualties some troops reached the German second line, but attempts to gain a foothold in La Boiselle failed.  Captain Charlton and Captain Herries with 6 men were isolated in a crater and unable to advance because of heavy fire. They eventually obtained a machine gun and advanced. Herries reported how Charlton was killed.

“For a while we did great execution but the gun jammed at a critical moment. Charlton was shot down while attempting to charge a German strong point and the initiative passed to the enemy.” The 20th & 23rd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers had practically ceased to exist and only the remnants of the 21st and 22nd Battalions, some 200 men and seven officers, remained holding the line. After suffering great hardships, at midnight on 3 July, these men made their way back to the British lines.


John Macfarlane Charlton

John Macfarlane Charlton


The total number of casualties sustained by the 4 Battalions of Northumberland Fusiliers was 2,438 killed, missing or wounded. The 21st Battalion alone recorded 11 officers killed, 10 wounded, other ranks killed 161, wounded 478. The survivors from the whole Brigade barely comprised one Battalion and the Brigade was pulled from the line.

He was killed in the attack on La Boisselle while leading his men, having assisted to capture the 1st & 2nd lines in German trenches and about to attack the 3rd. His brother Captain Charlton was killed in June 1916. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 13th Nov. 1917, over a year after his death.  He had, at an early age, shown conspicuous ability in an illustrated essay on “The Birds of the Fame Islands, “while competing for the John Hancock prize of the Natural History Society of Northumberland in 1903, regarding which the late Canon Tristram wrote to him that he had had the duty of adjudicating upon the essays, and although Charlton did not win the prize, the Canon was so pleased that he gave him a special present for his work. In Dec. 1910 he won a special bronze medal given by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds [VOL. X.] CAPT. J. M. AND LT. H. V. CHARLTON. 91 (Public Schools Competition); in 1912 he wrote “The Birds of South-East Northumberland “for the Zoologist, which was later published in pamphlet form, with map and illustration. In 1913 ” Notes on Norwegian Birds “appeared in Country-Side, and afterwards as a ” separate “paper ; he also supplied British Birds with a number of interesting notes, commencing with Vol. IV., and wrote many short articles in other journals and local papers.

He was a most skilful and artistic taxidermist, his methods of mounting birds in natural positions being, as a near relative of his observed, ” equal even to those of my dear old friend, John Hancock,” whose work both Charlton and his brother so much admired. The writer is of opinion that he would have made a great name, if he had been spared to continue his studies, in that branch of ornithology alone.

As a soldier he had won golden opinions from his superior officers, and also from the men under him, and before the attack in which he fell, had already greatly distinguished himself, and been recommended for the Military Cross. He left £5, 737 in his will. CHARLTON, John MacFarlane [Captain] joined the Northumberland Yeomanry October 1914, received a commission in the 21st in Nov. same year. He was killed in the attack on La Boisselle while leading his men, having assisted to capture the first and second line in German trenches and about to attack the third. His brother Captain Charlton was killed in June 1916. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 13th November 1917, over a year after his death.

John was 25 years old when he died on 1st July and is remembered on Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 10 B 11 B and 12 B.


Captain Carr

John Evelyn Carr was born at Gosforth, Northumberland, in 1871, one of fourteen children born to John Carr and his wife Charlotte (nee Fair). The family lived at Roseworth, a substantial property in Gosforth, since demolished, and also owned a home on the north Northumberland coast – Scremerston Sea Houses.  John Carr senior was a timber merchant – the family business ,  Messrs. Carr & Sons was based in Newcastle upon Tyne.  He was also a partner in the Scremerston and Shorewood Coal and Lime Company and was a coal exporter. In 1881 he qualified to serve as a magistrate and went on to serve as a member of Northumberland County Council, eventually becoming an Alderman.

John Evelyn Carr attended Durham School and went on to qualify as a mining engineer. In 1900 he married Gertrude Isabella Moncrieff Blair at St. Andrew’s, Newcastle upon Tyne. Gertrude’s family originated from the Ayr and Perth areas of Scotland. Her brother was a manager of the Berwick North Eastern Bank and it may have been this association that brought her into contact with her future husband. Prior to the outbreak of war John was appointed managing director of Scremerston Coal Company – he was the fourth generation of his family to hold this position. He also farmed at Heathery Tops, Scremerston. He was also a keen sportsman, playing rugby for Northumberland county.


Captain Carr

Captain Carr


In August 1914 John Evelyn Carr enlisted as a private soldier in the London Scottish and served in the 1st Battalion in France from September 1914 to January 1915 when he was wounded near Bethune. He convalesced at Cottesbrook, Northamptonshire and was commissioned in the 8th Manchester Regiment, in which he served at Barrow from March to August 1915. He transferred to the 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters at Bordon Camp, and served with the Battalion and with the 70th Brigade H.Q. in France until November 1917 and in Italy until the end of the War. He was demobilised in December 1919 having been awarded the Italian War Medal and being mentioned in despatches.

After the war Carr resumed his position with the Scremerston Coal Company resigning this post in 1922 but returning to it thirteen years later and remaining in post until the establishment of the National Coal Board in 1947. He established the concrete works at Scremerston Sandbanks, and  also took over the  Battleship Garage at Scremerston. He continued to farm at Heathery Tops where he was a well known breeder of stock cattle and sheep. Carr was one of the founders of the Scremerston Branch of the British Legion. He was a former chairman, and he also helped to tidy up and maintain the village War Memorial.

John Evelyn Carr died at Spittal, Northumberland, in June 1958. One of Captain Carr’s brothers lost his life in World War One – Henry Cecil Carr lost his life whilst commanding HMS Bayano in 1915. Another brother Reginald Carr also served as a Naval Commander. There is a memorial to him on Gosforth Parish Church.


The Dairies

Captain Carr’s diaries comprise four books, the second and third providing separately written versions of the same experiences between September 1916 and November 1917. It is probable that the diary or at least the first two books, were written up after the events from notes kept in other forms. Each book also contains numerous photographs and postcards of towns and villages in France, postcards of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Cottesbrook, Barrow inn Furness, Bordon etc, humorous, sentimental and propogandist postcards and papers, extracts from newspapers, regimental magazines, regimental notices and orders (including one for a raid on enemy trenches), cards and souvenirs taken from German prisoners, and some original letters. The last book ends with a copy of a testimonial referring to Captain Carr’s service by Brigadier General H. Gordon commanding 70th Infantry Brigade.


Diary Entry July 1st 1916

Diary Entry July 1st 1916

Diary Entry July 1st 1916

Diary Entry July 1st 1916


Diary Entry July 1st 1916

Diary Entry July 1st 1916


Diary Entry July 1st 1916 Transcription

A lovely summer day & one that I shall never forget for many things; one principal thing was that my Battn. (as good as any in the British Army)was almost entirely demolished, only 2 officers who were with it got back unwounded Capt. Hudson & Lt. Hayes, all the rest were either killed or wounded, the Col was badly hit in the both lungs, the Adt. was wounded & many of my best pals were killed.

The whole of our Brigade (the 70th) which went over at La Boisselles was about wiped out, I think somewhere about 400 being left, the 8th York & Lancs suffered the worst, out of the whole Battalion only 2 Privates came back unwounded, the Col, Col Addison  Major Lewis & all the officers were killed, I believe one or two were picked up alive afterwards.

We found some of their bodies the following September, Padre Farrington found the bodies of Col. Addison & Major Lewis both together in a shell hole, & it was then discovered that the Col has lived 3 or 4 days in his wounded condition before dying, on the notes found on him it stated that the Major, who was a very big man, was suffering great pain & he could not lie still during the daylight & turned his position & exposed his breast which was covered with many ribbons to the enemy, and he was almost immediately shot. This is an example of what many of our gallant officer’s fates were, there went two of the best and most popular officers in our Brigade.

At 6.30am I went up on to the hill behind Albert & saw our Artillery simply pounding the Hun trenches to pieces, then there was lull & we knew the Infantry were advancing, I waited until 8am & then rushed down as I knew what work would be before me.

I spent I think quite the busiest day in my life, the wounded began pouring in about 11am & continued coming all day, in the 2 stations we had approximately 4000 cases, I evacuated 2 trains including 966 cases, many being terribly mutilated, the sights and agonies of the men are too awful for words. I saw many officers and men that I know & heard bits of the fight from them. I had the infinite pleasure of meeting dear old Kinghorn a great friend of mine in the London Scots, & I got him the best of everything I could & saw him safely into the train, he is now a Lieut. in the Bedfords. He was shot through the shoulder & I think will be OK.

It is a sight never to be forgotten seeing there splendid men lying like helpless babies, & one poor fellow died while I was putting him into the train & I had to take him back.

I have 500 sitting cases to get away from No. 36 tomorrow morning at 1.30, so am going to lie down for an hour.

The news from the front is good, though we have to pay a terrible price for it, while I write the guns are going as hard as ever.

It was found out later that where the 70th Bte went over the wire had not been sufficiently cut & the Huns had come back into their front trenches & simply mowed our men down in hundreds as they advanced , it was in a part of the salient, & was afterwards taken with great difficulty.


The Wellesley Training Ship

Following the passage of legislation relating to the treatment of “delinquents” in 1866, James Hall of Tynemouth and a group of other local philanthropists purchased the training ship Cornwall from the Admiralty in 1868. As the Admiralty wished to retain the name Cornwall the ship was re-named the Wellesley. The ship provided an education for boys who were deemed as being destitute or suffering from parental neglect. The original aims of the training ship were to give shelter for the homeless and provide training and education that would equip the boys for a life at sea.

By 1873 a larger ship was needed – H.M.S. Boscawen was purchased and again re-named Wellesley. This ship continued to serve as a training vessel until 1914 when it was destroyed in a fire. Throughout the duration of First World War the boys were housed in the Tynemouth Palace and when war ended it was agreed that the school would find a permanent shore base. On 18 May 1920 the school moved from Tynemouth to Blyth. At the outbreak of war in 1939, the school was evacuated to Hamsterley, County Durham, and finally returned to Blyth after the war.

Boys on parade on the deck of H.M.S Wellesley c.1900

Boys on parade on the deck of H.M.S Wellesley c.1900


Green’s Home Industrial School in South Shields was certified as a branch of H.M.S. Wellesley on 19 December 1884. The school accommodated up to 60 boys up to the age of 12. At the age of 12 the boys were generally transferred to H.M.S. Wellesley for training in seamanship. The Training Ship Minute Books give information about life and practices on board the ship. Discipline was strict and the boys schooling and physical exercise was of prime importance. There were football, cricket, athletics and rugby teams and the boys also did gymnastics, tug of war and rowing. They also learnt life skills such as cooking and sewing.


Boys undertaking physical exercise c.1960

Boys undertaking physical exercise c.1960

Boys sewing c.1940

Boys sewing c.1940

Boys practicing semaphore c.1920

Boys practicing semaphore c.1920


Local Hero

John Buckley became a trainee on board the Wellesley on 2 August 1894. He appears in the admissions register aged 12 and was sent to the ship due to a refusal to attend school. He  was discharged on 19 July 1898. John became a hero after saving the life of a fellow trainee. At 2.45pm on 1 December 1897, William Linscott fell overboard into the Tyne and was carried away by the current. John Buckley jumped into the river and managed to keep hold of Linscott until a boat came to pick them up. Due to his bravery he was put forward for an award by the captain of the Wellesley. On 22 December the fifteen year old was awarded the Large Bronze Medal by the Royal Humane Society for carrying out a successful rescue involving great personal risk. John Buckley later went on to join the Royal Navy Reserve as a Stoker, qualifying for the First World War British War Medal and Mercantile Marine Medal.


Minute Book Entry 16 December 1897

Minute Book Entry
16 December 1897


The Captain Superintedent mentioned that some day previously a Wellesley boy, William Linscott fell overboard, when another Wellesley boy, John Buckley, aged 151/2 years , without divesting himself of his clothing jumped overboard, caught hold of Linscott and held him till rescue came, both being then much exhausted. It was agreed to give 5 shilling each to two Watermen whose assistance saved the boys from drowning; and it was understood that Buckley would receive a medal from the Royal Humane Society.

Tragedy at Greenhaugh Hall

Annie Mable Spencer of Greenhaugh Hall, Bellingham was brutally murdered by her husband John Cuthbert Spencer on 7 June 1897. The body of the 26 year old was found in the wood near the hall covered over with grass and branches from a fir tree. She died from wounds inflicted upon her with an adze [tool with an arched blade used for cutting or shaping large pieces of wood].


Greenhaugh Hall

Greenhaugh Hall


On the day of the murder, Mr Spencer had been working in a plantation about 400 yards from the hall. He had been cutting down trees for the purpose of making a new drive. Mr Spencer had asked his Gamekeeper, Mr Foreman, to meet him in the woods at 6pm to discuss the renovations and help with felling the trees. Mrs Spencer was with her husband and after a short while they left the Gamekeeper and went to look at a new pond before returning and informing Mr Foreman that they were going home for dinner. The fact that Mrs Spencer did not appear for dinner at 7.30pm alarmed the servants and by 9pm Sergeant Dobson from Bellingham police station received a telegram asking him to go to Greenhaugh Hall immediately. He was accompanied by P.C. Potts and P.C. Musgrove. When they arrived Mrs Spencer was missing and Mr Spencer was plunging an adze up and down in a bucket of water.


Location of Greenhaugh Hall

Location of Greenhaugh Hall


Mr Foreman stated that when he spoke to Mr Spencer he was in an excited state and was talking wildly. He believed that his father was St. Michael and that he was St. John and said that his father had sent him a message telling him to kill his wife. The coroner claimed that the case was one of the most painful and extraordinary ones that he had seen for many years. John Cuthbert Spencer was later committed to trial. He was found to be insane and sent to Broadmoor.


John Peter Elliot – Doctor

Doctor Elliot visited the Spencer house on Monday 7 June about 7pm. He had attended Mr Spencer a few days earlier for insomnia. As neither Mr or Mrs Spencer were at home, the doctor waited about a quarter of an hour and was about to leave when he saw Mr Spencer coming towards the house from the direction of the wood. Dr Elliot waited for him in the smoke room and when he entered he could see that his hands, face and shirt front were wet. After a general conversation regarding his health, the doctor advised him to go away for a change of scene. Mr Spencer claimed that he was going to Newcastle with his wife the next morning and then on to Edinburgh where they intended to stay for two or three weeks. Dr Elliot noticed a large spot of blood on Spencer’s shirt cuff but when he mentioned it he was told that it was from a scratch from his finger. The doctor was aware that Mr Spencer’s mental health had been a concern in the past and judging from his current behaviour, there was a fear that this could be a return of the insanity.


Arthur Patrick Brown – Doctor

Doctor Brown stated that he received a message on the night of 7 June to go to the Spencer house at Greenhaugh. A few minutes after his arrival at 10pm, Mrs Spencer’s dead body was brought to the house. The body was fully clothed and covered in blood. The doctor made an examination of the body and identified five wounds The first wound was on the head above the left ear, wounding the cerebellum. The skull was fractured and all the blood vessels on that side of the neck had been severed. The next wound penetrated the brain and another damaged the frontal bone. There was also a comminuted fracture of the frontal bone. Two wounds were also discovered on the back both running longitudinally on the left of the spine each about 4.5 inches long. Both these wounds penetrated the ribs.


Inquisition Report Cover

Inquisition Report Cover







This Week in World War One, 16 June 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915






The film being shown at the Playhouse this weekend is “Whoso is without Sin.” It is founded upon the ideal prize story, and is a tale for saints and sinners – exhibiting some modern pharisees and a penitent woman. The variety programme is of exceptional interest being Pharos, the world famous Egyptian illusionist. He shows a programme of Oriental splendours, and is assisted by Ibhar. He presents in rapid succession the most startling and baffling series of magical problems ever presents to the public. From Monday to Wednesday of next week there will be a splendid comedy drama in three acts, entitled “The Pretenders.” It is an exclusive film from the well-known firm of Harma and Co., London. It is particularly noteworthy for magnificent scenery, and contains a thrilling story of two wealthy young people, each pretending to be of a humble station in life.

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

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


The girl gets locked out of her home and has to break in. The young man sees her, and concludes she is a thief. A burglar also breaks in, and after a furious struggle is overpowered by the young man. A detective comes on the scene and finishes by arresting all three! Subsequent explanations secure the release of the girl and the young man. A few weeks later they meet again, and in the privacy of the conservatory come to an understanding which leads to a happy ending. The third series of “Greed” will also be shown. It deals with the evils of cheap construction, a slight explosion causing a badly built subway to cave in, carrying with it a loaded tram and scores of people who were in the street above. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the film will be “White Star.” It is the finest sporting drama ever filmed – a story containing a magnificent blending of human pathos, laughter and thrills, combined with perfect photography. It is an all British romance of the turf and stage, and contains an exciting plot to poison a favourite race horse – White Star. The vaudeville entertainment is in the hands of Arthur Canworth, banjo expert, who introduces the one and only bass singing banjo in the world.




James Young, baker, Seahouses, appealed for his son, Richard Thomas (22), confectioner and general dealer. The local Tribunal disallowed the appeal as it was not a certified occupation; that an older man should be obtained, and that female labour could be utilised. As to supplying the needs of the fishers it was contended that fishing was diminishing, and it was not essential the Young should be retained for this purpose.

Herring girls with barrels in Northumberland. © Berwick Record Office BRO 426- SL 104.

Herring girls with barrels in Northumberland. © Berwick Record Office BRO 426- SL 104.

In his appeal Mr Young said he had contracts to supply the military with bread. The nearest baker was seven miles away, and he supplied a radius of seven square miles, embracing 5000 people, and a number of small shops. At the time of the herring fishing he supplied a large number of boats. If his son was taken he would be left with one man and an apprentice. His foreman was 42 years of age, and he had another lad (19), who was going to the army.

In answer to the Military Representative he said he had supplied as many as twenty boats. Each boat generally carried a crew of seven men.

The appeal was dismissed.



Mrs P. McLaughan, widow, appeared in support of the appeal for her son, Hugh McLaughlan (23), 38 Bridge Street, a horse driver with Messers Elder, agricultural implement makers. She stated that she had one son in the navy, the claimant in the appeal, one son (16) incapacited through disease in the arm, and one daughter four years of age. The appellant’s weekly wage went to the whole support of herself. She also received an allowance of 15s weekly from the son in the navy.

By Mr Hogarth – The appellant was refused as medically unfit for the navy. If he had joined the navy she would probably have had an allowance the same as she has for the other boy.

The Tribunal decided that he should serve.




Farm-Workers War Wages – The recent agricultural hiring fairs in Scotland show that farm servants wages have about doubled in the past few years. In Roxburghshire, Berwickshire, and Dumfrieshire, wages are now very high, but not so high as in some counties further north, where the Farm Servants’ Union held meetings urging the men to stand out for a standard wage of £70 per year. The men acted largely on this advice, and one considerable farmer states that his single men now cost him £100 a year. In Berwickshire, besides some perquisites, 24s to 28s per week was given, whereas in 1906 the rates were 13s to 15s. other counties exhibit similar advances.

Early 1900s farming scene showing a horse drawn reaper. Author 'Whatsthatpicture,' Hanwell, London. © Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Early 1900s farming scene showing a horse drawn reaper. Author ‘Whatsthatpicture,’ Hanwell, London. © Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Foxhunters and Farmers – At a meeting of the Hunt Secretaries Association held at Messers Tattersall’s, the following resolution was unanimously passed: – “That the thanks of the Hunt Secretaries’ Association be recorded to all the farmers and poultry-keepers for their great help during the past season, enabling hunting to be carried on successfully under very difficult circumstances, and it is hoped, owing to the difficulties arising from the war, that they will do all in their power to continue their loyal support to the various hunts in the future.


The Sun Inn Murders

On 15th April 1913, James Wood Irons, owner of The Sun Inn public house in Bedlington went to the premises to terminate the employment of his manager John Vickers Amos due to deficiencies in stock and takings. Irons had with him Mr Grice who he intended to make his new tenant manager. Also present at the inn was Mrs Grice. Amos became threatening and produced a gun resulting in the horrific murders of three innocent people. P.C. George Bertram Mussell (30) Sergeant Andrew Barton (40) and Mrs Sarah Ellen Fenwick Grice (33). John Vickers Amos fled but was captured and arrested the same day. He was found guilty of murder and was hanged on 22 July 1913. Northumberland Archives holds the inquest report and witness statements relating to the murder case.

Sun Inn c.1900

Sun Inn c.1900


James Wood Irons – Owner of the Sun Inn

In his statement Mr Irons claimed he planned to install Richard Grice of Seghill as his new tenant manager after deciding to terminate Mr Amos’s tenancy. On 15 April 1913, he entered the inn by the back door and went into the smoke room. He met Amos who had by this time guessed that his position was under threat. Amos asked about getting his bond back and was told that it depended upon the success of the stocktake. Irons said he then left the inn and went to the train station to meet Mr Grice and a lady called Mrs Craggs. All three went to the inn and entered by the back door then went into the smoke room. Irons commenced with the stocktake and asked Mr Grice to step into the bar and take charge which made Amos angry. Irons reported the matter to Inspector Culley and just before 2pm P.C. Mussell arrived. Irons claimed P.C. Mussell talked to Amos and told him to keep cool.


Richard Grice – New Tenant Manager of the Sun Inn

Richard Grice claimed that he saw Amos carrying an item which he put into a cupboard in the kitchen but he was unable to confirm if it was a firearm. Mr Grice said that he heard P.C. Mussell ask him if he had a firearm in the house and he said no. After the shootings had occurred, Grice stated that he saw Amos outside the front of the inn pointing the gun at the door. Later on he claimed to hear a man shout from outside the window that Amos had gone over the fields.


George AmosSon of John Vickers Amos

George gave a statement to police stating that he was he was 11 year old and John Vickers Amos was his father. He said that on 15 April about 2pm his father gave him half a crown and ordered him to go to Mr Oliver’s shop in Bedlington to purchase a box of cartridges. He then came straight back to the inn and handed the box to his father before going out to play.


John Culley – Inspector stationed at Bedlington Police Station

Inspector Culley stated that about 3.40pm on 15 April 1913, he circulated information to police in the district so a search could be made for John Vickers Amos who had fled the scene of the crime. Culley joined in the search and Amos was eventually found in a culvert and arrested. The gun was also found in the culvert and was noted as being a Winchester Repeating Sporting gun. Culley said that at about 9.30pm that same evening he went with Superintendent Tough, Inspector Hutchison and Dr Haworth to the inn and saw the bodies of Sarah Ellen Fenwick Grice, Sergeant Barton and  P.C. Mussell. The next day he questioned Amos and then charged him with murder.


David Hutchison – Inspector stationed at Blyth Police Station

In his statement Inspector Hutchinson said that he arrived in Bedlington about 4pm in response to a call for assistance. On arrival he helped in the search for Amos and claimed that after shots were fired into the culvert, Amos came rushing out. He noticed that there were two small wounds on his forehead and that he smelt of alcohol. Hutchinson said that he was the officer who took the prisoner to the police station. That evening he proceeded with Inspector Culley, Superintendent Tough & Dr Haworth to the inn and he viewed the bodies of the victims. He extracted several pellets from the wall and recovered more from the floor. On the following day he returned to the inn to photograph the bodies.


James Kenworth Johnston Haworth – Doctor

Doctor Haworth arrived at the inn about 3.50pm and entered through the back door from the yard. On entry he saw the body of P.C. Mussell with a large open wound in the right side of his neck. On the right shoulder of his tunic there was a circular hole through which he could see a deep wound extending into the shoulder joint. In the kitchen he saw Sergeant Barton lying on his back. He was still alive but near the end of life and sadly passed away a few minutes later. Doctor Haworth stated that he saw pellet marks in the left breast of the victims tunic & on exposure he found many small circular wounds. The doctor claimed that he was taken to the cellar trap door by Mr Grice where he saw Mrs Grice lying at the bottom of the ladder. She was breathing heavily and blood was flowing from a gunshot wound on the right side of her head. An examination of the wound revealed the whole right side of her skull was fractured and that the wire rim of her hat had penetrated her brain. With help he lifted her up to the bar but she died moments later.


Police Funeral

Police Funeral


Burial Entries for Barton & Mussell

Burial Entries for Barton & Mussell

The Swinburne Charters Project

In December 2015 Northumberland Archives was awarded a grant of £14850 by The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust to undertake conservation work on an important series of deeds in our care. The collection, known as the Swinburne Charters, form part of the collection of papers of the Browne-Swinburne family, the main collection of which was deposited with our service in 1962. The Charters are a collection of 758 early deeds, charters and papers of the Swinburne family of Capheaton covering the period, 1172-1714.

Up until the time of Reformation the Swinburne family played an important part in affairs in Northumberland, the wider border area and in North Wales. Influence waned after the Reformation when the family retained their Roman Catholic faith. Documents included in the collection provide an insight into some of the difficulties faced by a prominent Roman Catholic family arising from its recusancy in the 17th century, particularly during the Civil War as well as into medieval ecclesiastical matters. Much of the collection is significant in charting the history of the English/Scottish border area up to and beyond the Union of the Crowns in 1603. The Swinburne family were significant players in the economic and political life of the area and the governance of the Border Marches – the tempestuous buffer zone area created in 1249 in an attempt to control the English/Scottish border. As an example, the collection includes papers relating to a meeting between the officers of the English And Scottish Marches at Kershope Bridge at the end of the 14th century. Items of particular interest include twelve 13th century charters of the Kings and Queens of Scotland, one of which appears to be a 13th century forgery. The collection is therefore significant to the history of both England and Scotland.

The collection also includes material relating to the history of Wales – documents relating to the rebellion of Owen Glendower – Sir William Swinburne was a follower of the Duke of Northumberland – 1399-1402. These include an order to proclaim the general pardon to the rebels in 1400 by King Henry V. Also of interest is content relating to overseas conflicts. This includes agreements of 1374 as to the wages and division of booty between a lesser captain and his men at arms in the war in France and Brittany.

The charters are currently mounted into seven volumes with Victorian bindings. The bindings are inappropriate. The paper onto which items are mounted is acidic and some of the documents have been damaged as a result of folding and creasing. The volumes will be disbound, surface cleaned and residues removed. Parchment documents will be dry pressed, humidified where necessary, paper and parchment repair will be undertaken and seals cleaned and repaired where necessary. Documents will be rehoused in custom made folders and boxes and seal bags as appropriate. Following repair each item will be digitized and digital images of each item will be appended to our online catalogue. As our project progresses we will provide updates on progress.

The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust was established in 1990 by the British Library and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. It is the only UK grant-giver that focuses solely on the care and conservation of manuscripts in the UK. We are very grateful for the support of the Trust for our project.

The image below is of the earliest document in the collection – Grant of William, King of Scotland, to Reginald Prath of Tindale [Tynedale] his squire of the third part of the township of Haluton [Haughton] with all appurtenances in the woods, fields, meadows, pastures, moors, marshes, streams, ponds, mills, fisheries, vineries, and all other liberties and easements. It is dated 1172 but is believed to be a 13th century copy. The grant bears a fragment of the Great Seal of the King William.

ZSW-01-01 p1

This Week in World War One, 2 June 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915






Berwick Fair, which was opened at noon on Friday in the quaint and recognised fashion obtaining for so many years, was, by general consent, regarded as one of the most attenuated in street stall representation that has been witnessed. Nevertheless the Fair was a centre of great attraction, and on Saturday the streets of the town were thronged by large numbers of country visitors. Ideal summer weather prevailed on Friday and Saturday, materially contributing to the comfort of the strangers and the general success of the Fair.

Early 1900s photograph shows people selling their wares on the High Street. © Berwick Record Office - BRO 0017

Early 1900s photograph shows people selling their wares on the High Street. © Berwick Record Office – BRO 0017


The east side of High Street was, as usual, set apart for the stalls. There was the customary strong representation of china merchants, who had a large and varied collection of all kinds of ware. There were a few hardware stalls some flower stalls, and one dealer in cheap jewellery. The latter by his artful and enticing manners did quite a big business. The Parade was occupied, as usual, by a number of travelling shows, the principal item being the electric roundabouts and cake walk. The showmen, with an eye to business, doubled the penny charge on the Saturday afternoon for these amusements. Despite the big advance a large trade was experienced, and this was increased in the evening when the prices returned to the normal charge. Accompanying these amusements were a number of side booths having an allurement for those who wished to have a venture in making money. The odds were always against them, however, the keepers of the booths coming out on top to the discomfiture of their numerous patrons. The streets of the borough were packed by crowds till a late hour in the evening.




BAdvertiser 2 June 1916 Heir to Wed Lieut C D leyland

Berwick Advertiser 2 June 1916 Heir to Wed Lieut C D leyland


An interesting engagement is that just announced between Christopher Leyland, 1st Life Guards, and Miss Sylvia Cotterell. Mr Leyland comes of the Northumbrian family of Haggerston, of which the Naylor Leyland are an offshoot, and is heir to Haggerston Castle. The Bride to be is Miss Cotterell, who is not yet 20, is eldest of the three daughters of Sir John Cotterell, 4th Bart., of Garnons. He married in 1896 Lady Evelyn Gordon Lennon, daughter of the Duke of Richmond.




Although racing machines are not built for general road use it is remarkable evidence to the strength of the Raleigh that Mr David Murtrie, of Woodend, South Mt. Vernon, Glasgow, is able to write that he has ridden his Raleigh racer 12,000 miles on track and road in two years, and he has never had to adjust a bearing or spend anything on renewals, except tyres, and the machine is “running sweeter than ever.”


Council’s Good Wishes to Young Recruit – A well-known young gentleman in the person of Mr Wm. Blakey, acting Sergeant-at- Mace, has enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders, and left to join the regiment at Fort George on Thursday.


View of the barracks at Fort George. © Cp111 - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

View of the barracks at Fort George. © Cp111 – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


At a meeting of the Town Council on Wednesday afternoon the Mayor made a pleasant and happy reference to the step Mr Blakey was taking, and wished him the best of good health and success in the profession of arms which he was able to enter upon. He also alluded to the service which his father had rendered as Sergeant-at-Mace to the Council as well as previously in the same historic Highland regiment that his son was joining. Since his father had been recalled to the colours the son had continued to discharge the duties faithfully and well, and he had always been most willing and obliging (Applause). In the Council’s name he wished young Mr Blakey all success, resting assured whether he was called to the front or not he would worthily maintain the traditions of the old Border town, and remember his connection with the Council. They sent him off with the best of good wishes (Applause).  Mr Blakely, in a word, replied thanking the Council for their kind greetings.


The document signed by Queen Anne and Sir Robert Walpole concerning the pay of the 25th Foot (now the King’s Own Scottish Borderers), from April to June, 1708, which was given to the Church Army in aid of its war work, is being bought by a Scottish brigadier-general for presentation to his old regiment, the headquarters of which are at Berwick.