Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with Carol Griffith’s work at the Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn, where she has been researching, and transcribing, the extensive archive of material associated with Bamburgh in the 18th century, when the trust was administered by the able Dr Sharp. There will be more exciting news soon, as Carol has produced a book on her work, but in the mean time, here is a further tale from her to wet your appetite.
Any one who knows a little of the history of this north coast of Northumberland, and especially of Holy Island, may recollect a feint memory of this name. The Erringtons-uncle and nephew, acquired a certain notoriety at the time of the first Jacobite Rebellion in 1715, for their seizing of Lindisfarne Castle, an incident that from a modern viewpoint, seems almost comical.
Local gentry-led by the Earl of Derwentwater of Dilston, and Thomas Forster, nephew of Dorothy Forster, Lady Crewe( whose husband Lord Crewe had rescued the family from bankruptcy and whose Will would dramatically benefit the Castle and local people through the establishment of many charities) were deeply involved in the uprising. Part of the strategic plan was for French ships to rendez vous with the Jacobite supporters Lancelot and Mark Errington, Uncle and nephew, at Holy Island. Mark and Lancelot did indeed take Lindisfarne Castle, by sailing their ship with a cargo of brandy into Holy Island harbour, and allegedly arranging for one of the castle gunners-who possessed barbering skills!-to trim Lancelot’s beard and hair. Lancelot, later returning on pretext of picking up something he had left, overpowered the small force in the Castle, and for one night the Jacobite flag of James II was flown from the Castle. However, the anticipated French support vessels with troops did not appear (they arrived several days too late) and the next day-
In the great civil war the isle was the station of a parliamentary garrison; and in 1715 it was seized by the adherents of the Pretender, who were, however, soon dislodged by a detachment from the king’s troops at Berwick.
‘Holtby – Holy-Island’, A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848),
As is well known locally, Uncle and nephew were taken to Berwick goal, but later escaped, hiding for some time under heaps of Pease sticks in the farm of a relative in Bamburgh, until they escaped. It is reported that Lancelot eventually ran a public house in Newcastle, and died of a broken heart at the failure of the final ’45 Rebellion.
And the brandy on board?
Report of the Comrs of Customs to the Lords of the Treasury, relating to certain brandy seized out of the ship “Mary,” the master of which, Lancelot Errington, had surprised and taken possession of the castle of Holy Island. The riding surveyor on the coast of Northumberland immediately went to Berwick to give notice thereof. He apprehended that Errington (who had for several years been a common smuggler) might have brought stores for the rebels then at Wooller; he (the surveyor) came to the island the next day, when several persons sent by the magistrates of Berwick, with about 20 soldiers, came and retook the castle. Whereupon the riding officer and others made a seizure of the brandy, &c. on board the vessel. The officers of the castle pretended to have made the seizure, but the Comrs were of opinion that the officers of Customs were the prior seizers, and entitled to the officers’ share. 15 Nov. 1715.
Minuted:—“17 December 1715. Read. To be consider’d when the petition from Berwick comes up.”
So more about the Bamburgh connection- The Manorial Court Book of the Lords of the Manor of Bamburgh 1695-1776 (00452/D/2/1) held at Woodhorn County Archive reveals that Mark Errington was called to the Manorial Court at the Castle on 25 October 1714, and again in 1719. By 1719 a John Errington was called, and again in 1721.
Fast forward to 1764, when the Woodhorn Archive reveals a sad and very evocative letter from a Margaret Errington ( NRO 452/C/3/2/3/10).On August 14th she wrote to Mrs. Mary Fewster of Balmbrough from Monkwearmouth Shore-
Time and long absence may have made you in past forget me, though I think you will remember when I lived at monk house I was very intimate in your Family and had respect shown to me from it and all the families in the neighbourhood. But alas Madam now I am reduced to very low yea in a manner to destitute Circumstances-
My children all that were able to help me are dead, I have in a manner lost my sight, am unable to do any Thing for my support through old Age and Infirmities and therefore am reduced to the Necessity of asking Relief from you or of any other you can recommend me to-
Mr. Sharp, whose father I knew very well and who has been at our House when we lived at Monks House I understand lives near you to whose Charity if you can recommend me you will do a Compassionate action-
We built a Pew in Balmbrough Church as the Neighbourhood will tell you-for which we never had any Thing-if you can make that after so long a time any advantage to me you’ll further oblige me- the Bearer is my Daughter. These with my Prayers for You and your Family are all from
Your humble and obt’ Servt
(Mrs Fewster was the wife/widow? of a Mr Fewster who had been an important tenant in the Manor of Bamburgh. Records at Woodhorn in Dr Sharp’s own hand (00452/J/36) reveal an intriguing village dispute at the time of an early Court in 1748-
I was at Balmbrough view’d the Hall-House and Garden there, upon which I obtained Dr Eden’s Consent to allow Mr Fewster to charge us with lime for rough casting the Northside of the House, he leading it; and to divide the garden with Ja.Callender, he being at the expense of the said division.
b. p17 July 5 1748
I met Mr Rudd at Alnwick and went with him, from thence to Balmbrough where on July the 6th we held a Mannour Court at the Castle. The same evening we settled the dispute between Mr Fewster and Calender the Gardiner abt the Nurseries Herbs etc; in Mr Fewster’s part claim’d by Calender. And the next day we kept a Court at the Mannour house)
In an undated Note circa 1765 the Archive reveals a further development regarding poor Mrs Errington(NRO452/C/3/2/19/31). A note in Dr Sharp’s hand gives the context to this family tragedy-
John Younghusband of Sunderland in the Parish of Balmbrough bought a pew in Balmbrough Church, which had been publickly put up for sale-
About 44 years ago Mark Errington who then lived and farmed at MonksHouse (an extra parochial place bounded on three sides by the parish of Balmbrough and on the fourth side by the sea) and which pays no sort of Parish Rates either to Balmbrough or to any other Parish) built a pew in Balmbrough Church with the consent of Rev Dr Beaumont, the curate thereof. About 4 years ago John Dawson who married a daughter of the said Mark Errington put up the said pew for sale (which was some years after he and his mother in law Margaret Errington (widow of the said Mark) had left Monks House and quitted the farm) When this pew which was put up for sale as abovementioned, it was purchased of the said John Dawson by John Younghusband of Sunderland. Some time after this the said Margaret Errington claims the property of the pew on pretence her son in law had no right to dispose of it without her consent and has employed an Attourney Francis Blakiston of Sunderland to acquaint the said John Younghusband by a letter date July 7 1765 that she is determined to assert her right to the same and to oust John Younghusband of the possession thereof unless he will immediately direct his application to him as her Attourney”
The letter written by Francis Blakiston still exists (NRO452/C/3/2/19/3)-
“I am told that about 4 years ago John Dawson of Warkworth took occasion to sell you a Pew in Balmbrough Church belonging to his mother-in-law Margaret Errington that the purchase money is 4 guineas. The Purpose of this thereof is to inform you that the said Dawson had no legal authority to dispose of the said pew nor the least right thereto, that the said Margaret Errington who is the proper owner thereof is forthwith determined to assert her right to the same and oust you of the possession unless you immediately direct your application to me as her Attourney and come to some agreement about the Premises. I await your answer
There the mystery remains unresolved; there is no further correspondence in the Dr Sharp letters held in the Lord Crewe Papers at Woodhorn. We are left with many teasing unfinished threads – did the impoverished Margaret receive the value of the Errington pew? Surely the issue was with her son in law John Dawson, rather than the hapless john Younghusband, who had presumably bought the pew in innocence? Did her Attourneys letter have any effect? And how could she afford his fees? And it is surprising that an Attourney dwelt in (North) Sunderland in the mid 1700s; the Trustees Solicitor/Attourney was Thomas Adams who practiced from Alnwick. Was the sale of church pews common? And was the daughter, bearer of Margaret’s letter to Mrs. Fewster, the widow of John Dawson-let us hope that she gave her mother solace in her poverty and blind old age. And how intriguing that Mark Errington, Jacobite supporter and nephew of the “pirate” Lancelot Errington, had had the wealth-and piety-to erect a pew in Balmbrough Church.
There is one last secret about the Errington family I have uncovered-in attempting to find out more about Mark and his family, I turned to the IGI (www.familysearch.org). That revealed that Mark Errington of MonksHouse was christened at Bamburgh in 1689 (making him 26 at the time of the ’15 Rebellion). His parents were Francis Errington, married to Elizabeth Blackman. Francis himself was christened at Bamburgh in 1656, and died on 21 Feb 1720. His parents were Gilbert Errington, married to Margaret Babbington. Gilbert was born in West Denton in 1611, dying on 28 November 1686. Astonishingly, the IGI reveals quite clearly a further 6 generations of Erringtons in a direct male line, all born at West Denton, Newcastle, back to the earliest ancestor Edward Errington, born in 1416, and married in 1446 (name of his wife and date of his death, not recorded). An amazing direct male line through ten generations….how sad that Mark’s widow should end her days in penury, desperately seeking to recoup the value of a Church Pew built by her husband in better days, farming at MonksHouse….
With thanks to Woodhorn Archives