Bamburgh “ Ghosts”-Tales from the 18C The Erringtons of MonksHouse , Bamburgh

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.

Graeme Young

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-

July 1747

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

Carol Griffiths

 

The strange story of the Bamburgh Castle Chapel

In researching the history of the Castle over recent years, especially the treasure trove of stories revealed in the Lord Crewe Charity papers, held at Woodhorn County archive, some wonderful stories and characters from 18C Bamburgh emerge. The papers are still owned by the Lord Crewe Trustees, but on deposit at and accessible by the public, at Woodhorn. The stories really do bring to life previous centuries of life at the Castle, where I am a volunteer Guide-and village. This story relates to work on the “Chaple” during Dr Sharp’s time; these frequent accounts and references in correspondence throw up a real mystery, which is not yet 100% resolved….

Everyone who knows Bamburgh Castle, will be aware of the ruins of St Peters Chapel, where it is said that long ago, the relics of St Oswald were held. St Oswald was the Christian King of Northumbria who died in 642 in battle against the pagan king Penda; it is said that his arm was revered at St Peters Chapel, Bamburgh, although later stolen. Recently, archaeological excavations have confirmed the existence of Saxon foundations beneath the Norman ruins, the apse area confirmed as Norman although there are later restorations to the walls. The British library owns a remarkable etching of the ruined Chapel by Samuel Grimm, who produced many etchings of the Castle, before any restoration work was undertaken by Dr Sharp, showing it not unlike it appears today.

Hence, when studying the voluminous correspondence in the Archive, and especially the letters written to Dr Sharp whenever he was absent, by his Foreman and Constable at the Castle, George Hall, frequent references to work at the “Chaple” seem really puzzling, indicating a substantial restoration.

March 17 1787

There is now 2 masons building the chimney in the Vestry as you ordered it to be done

Dec 27 1788

Robson and son will continue dressing stones for the Chaple

Jan 31 1789

This week Robson and son have been dressing stones for the Chaple at the Castle (DN-confirms St Peters Chapel-NOT St Aiden’s)

Feb 21

This week Robson and son have been dressing stones for the Chaple-they have a great many stones drest for the Chaple. I think Robsons should begin to sett them

Feb 28

I will set the Robsons to work on the Chaple on Monday

March 7

This week Robsons have got 2 courses stones set in the sinclor (circular!) part of the Chaple

March 21

Robsons are going on with the third course upon the Chaple..

On firing the guns at Alnwick Castle for the Kings Recovery one of them unfortunately busted and took a poor mans thye from his body

March 28

Robson have been casing the inside wall of the chancel which were much the lowest part of that work but are now higher than the alter part

April 2

This week we have had very unfavourable weather for our masons work going forward not one day without great falls of snow.

Robsons has been dressing a part of the outside of the Chancel wall-

April 11

The Robsons are going on with the alter part of the Chaple…

May 9

Received yours of the 6th was sorry Robson had left off the alter part of the Chaple before and are going on with the South Wall of it and have laid one more window sole {sill].

May 30

Robsons have got the collard of the Chaple to the same height of the other [?]next to this which joins the door. We are raising the jamb of the door a little at the same time work and are now going with the other collard

Jan 8 1790

On Sat last the two Robsons began dressing stones for the Chaple

Jan 16

The two Robsons are dressing stones for the Chaple, old Wilson is winning stones for them, the other 3 masons are winning stones at Sunderland Quarry

Jan 23

The Robsons are yet dressing stones for the Chaple and old Wilson winning stones for them. The bottom of the Quarry turns out as fine stones as ever (DN the quarry, now the Grove, is near exhaustion; trials are being made to seek a new source of stone elsewhere in the village)

Jan 30/Feb 6/13,20

The Robsons are yet dressing stones for the Chaple and old Wilson winning stones for them, and other Masons are working on flagging

March 6

The Robsons now have a great many stones dressed for the Chaple and the weather are now very promising for walling if you think it convenient for them to begin to sett

March 13

I rec’d yours of 8th inst on Thursday and set the Robsons to wall of the Chaple on Friday morning they have since got the window soles level-what height from the Chaple floor should the fireplace for the Organ loft be placed?

March 20

The Robsons are now going with the third course above the window soles each course being one foot high. I mentioned in my last what height the fireplace for the organ loft should be placed from the Chaple floor-which should be determined as the work are going on in that part of the Chaple

April 17

Since you left us Robsons has repaired both the large jambs in the Chaple and are now going on with the North Front

April 24

We have now got a scaffold raised to that part of the Chaple which are now going forward-also a scaffold on that part of the old hall both of which are going on very well. I think a base should be taken of the pillars in the old hall in the going on of that building

May 1

The Robsons is now leveling the North Wall of the Chaple to the height of the fachea

May 8

Robsons has got the fachea course put in the Chaple which looks very well

May 15

There is now one course stones put in the Chaple work above the fachea

(Letters for 1791 cease)

There is a further handwritten Account Book containing sadly, little information-

Chapel Accounts 1787 (NRO 00452/D/5/12/2-)

(in Dr Sharp’s hand)

BC Chapel begun to be repaired March 27 1787

(Individual payments of wages detailed; no info re work or site)

Work at Chapel paid for by Contingencies

1787 June 7 To George Wilson-Cottagers Bondage rent- £2-12-9

1788 July 23 Dr Poyn’s present laid out upon the chapel-paid to Guy the Mason-£1-11-6

1789 A Present to the Chapel-anon-£20-0-0

When the Castle management, and BRP Graeme Young were given these references, they could not accept that so much restoration work was undertaken on St Peter’s Chapel, without any trace remaining, or sketches of the restored Chapel.

Months later, a thought occurred-for years, there had been a building in the West Ward, abutting the Castle Wall, the entrance through the Smith’s Gate(now Neville Gate). Could this be the Chaple?

Bamburgh Castle in the 19th century

Bamburgh Castle in the 19th century

The windows appear to be gothic in structure, however the entrance door cannot be seen, and all trace of the building has disappeared with Lord Armstrong’s subsequent work in that area, after he purchased the Castle in 1894. Graeme Young believes that the orientation of the building is not correct for a church-and there is a further fly in the ointment. In 1835, Mrs Catharine Sharp, niece of Dr John, and widow of Rev Andrew Sharp(Bowlt) wrote of work carried out during her late husband’s Curacy at St Aiden’s Bamburgh. This included-

1817 Between this year and the year of his death 1835 the following works were carried out in the church by Rev Andrew Sharp-

– A Gallery was built for the Castle Schools and an Organ erected by Subscription. The Gallery was erected at the expense of the Lord Crewe Trustees

NRO 00452/J/29

Why would a Gallery (since disappeared) be erected for the Castle Schools if indeed this building was a Chapel used by Castle residents and Schools?

The mystery remains to be conclusively settled, but meanwhile, I continue to believe this is indeed Dr Sharps lost “Chaple”!

With thanks to Woodhorn Archive

Carol Griffiths