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The March 2016 meeting of South Tyneside Branch will take place at St Hilda's Visitor Centre in Market Place South Shields on Wednesday 16th March at 1.30 pm, when guest speaker Vince Petrolino will be giving a talk on "The Fatal Fire at the Borough Dining Rooms, Market Place, South Shields".
The March 2016 meeting of Durham-Belmont Branch will be held at Belmont Community Centre in Gilesgate on Wednesday 16th March at 1.00 pm, when Anthea Lang will be giving her talk on "Making Sense of the Census".
The March 2016 meeting of Blyth Branch will be at Briardale Community Centre, 35 Briardale Road, Blyth, on Tuesday 15th March at 7.30 pm, and will feature Part 1 of a talk on Blyth Coal Staithes by David Fraser.  Part 2 of this talk will be incorporated into the Blyth Branch AGM in June 2016.
The April 2016 meeting of Alnwick Branch will be at the Bailiffgate Museum on Tuesday 5th April at 7.30 pm, when Liz Finch will be giving a talk about "Jacobite Families".
« Last post by Vglass on February 29, 2016, 12:03:32 PM »
TALK: Facing Jeddart Justice: a look at cross-border crime- Margaret Fox

We welcomed Margaret Fox, formerly archivist at Berwick Record Office, who has researched Northumbrian people who were tried for crimes committed in Scotland. This talk dealt with serious crimes tried at the High Court in Jedburgh. Members visiting General Register House in Edinburgh could make use of a Criminal Cases Index on computer.

Jedburgh was on the Southern circuit for High Court judges. It provided plenty of examples of the various alternative outcomes of trials other than a verdict of innocent or guilty e.g. fugitation, desertion, not proven and insufficient evidence. We heard several examples dating back to 1751. There was the case of “sturdy idle beggars......vagabonds and sorners” from Rothbury and Alnwick. Though found guilty they were released as it was believed they would simply commit further crimes! The expression “Jeddart Justice” refers to execution without a proper trial, stemming from a particular case when this was applied to a gang of villains.

There were so many conflicting statements for the case of Andrew Gray of Wooler in 1813, discovered to have banknotes sewn into his coat, who was also alleged to be Andrew Gregg from Clackmannan who had stolen a horse, that the case was dismissed because of insufficient evidence.

Cases of “irregular border marriages” were common with “unofficial priests” presiding at such places as Lamberton Toll.  It had been declared that “the celebration of clandestine marriage is of a heinous nature”. In 1661 this had become a crime and was punishable by banishment from Scotland. Sometimes these marriages were followed by further incidents as in 1842 at Lamberton when charges of “assault and malicious mischief” were brought against wedding guests who refused to pay their drinking bill and allegedly assaulted the toll keeper.

David Hunter married Mary Cook in Belford in 1847 but when it was discovered he was already married he was tried for bigamy to which he pleaded guilty and was given a sentence of 12 months imprisonment.

An interesting case concerned Robert Bruce, the Master of the sloop, “Juno” in 1855, on a voyage from Berwick to Leith. It was alleged he had killed the Mate, Joseph Octon, on the charge of “culpable homicide”, i.e. manslaughter. Most of the witnesses were sailors. It transpired that an argument had taken place over the Master’s tea not being ready. In fact, his tea had already been eaten by the crew when the Master did not arrive on time. Master and Mate agreed to a fight on deck in which the Mate subsequently died. However, ship-owner and Mayor of Berwick, Robert Ramsay, spoke in his defence and this resulted in Bruce being fined the princely sum of one shilling and obliged to keep the peace for 12 months, surety of £20 being stood by Ramsay.

Margaret’s interesting talk raised many questions, such as what were these persons doing in Scotland and why did the sentences vary so much in severity. It was an excellent example of the wealth of details that can be found in such records. No one in the audience would admit to ancestral connections with any of these criminals! However, it is always worth searching such records when ancestors appear to go missing. Who knows what you will find?

« Last post by Vglass on February 28, 2016, 07:58:20 PM »
WE HAVE BEEN OPTIMISTIC IN CHOOSING THE TOPIC FOR OUR NEXT MEETING! We have all had that moment of knowing we have a snippet of vital info somewhere but where.........?  We are hoping that we can learn from each other and pick up some good ideas for keeping that info in order. Do come along on Sat 19 March at 10am at Bell View Centre, Belford.
South Tyneside Branch / South Tyneside February 2016 Meeting Report
« Last post by Annf on February 23, 2016, 04:21:59 PM »
The Chairman of the Branch, Gerry Langley, gave a talk at the meeting held on Wednesday 17th February on the subject of 'Irregular Border Marriages'.

The group enjoyed both the talk and ensuing discussion on how an irregular marriage constituted anything 'outside the norm', and which could take place anywhere in Britain.  One example given was the Fleet Prison in London.  The first 'Blacksmith's Marriage' was recorded in 1693, but the Marriage Act 1754 set out to control irregular marriages by increasing the age a couple could marry without consent from 16 to 21, and also stipulating the ceremony must take place in a church.  However, Scotland did not conform to this law, the result of which lead to an increase in irregular marriages, not only in the Border towns and villages but in cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The toll bridges along the Scottish Border became popular marriage venues, not only because couples could marry without consent at the age of 16, but also time and money was saved as there was no necessity to have banns read or to pay for a license.  Indeed between 1844-1847, there were some 1500 marriages recorded in the Scottish Borders.  Several of these records are currently in private hands and not all have been indexed, let alone published 'on-line'!!  For instance, Springfield Gretna Green records are at Durham University Library, with extracts also to be found at Northumberland & Durham Family History Society.  An interesting and informative read on the subject is "Irregular Border Marriages" by Claverhouse, a copy of this book is held in the Library at Percy House.

The next Branch meeting will be held on Wednesday 16th March at 1.30 pm in the St Hilda's Church Visitors Centre, South Shields.  Both existing and new members are most welcome to join us.
Tynedale Branch / Report of February 2016 meeting Tynedale Branch
« Last post by Susanne on February 19, 2016, 08:46:25 AM »
Tynedale Branch Meeting:   11 Feb 2016   16 members attended

The booked speaker was unwell and unable to come to give his talk on the Big Houses of Benwell so this will be rearranged.  Instead there was a Members Forum   on My Latest Discovery

This was chosen as the topic since no-one had a chance to prepare in advance of the meeting.  It was a very broad based topic and to confirm that it was not just about a new find online the first contribution was about flattening old photos.  One member has a large collection of curling old photos, many taken by his Navy father “somewhere east of Suez” in the 1930s.  Apparently putting them on a plastic grid above room temperature water in a large plastic box, with a lid, will relax the fibres.  They can then be pressed on blotting paper and then stored where they will stay flat.  This has not been tested yet and will be reported back on after trying it out with unimportant photos.  Photos kept coming up over the evening – with family members in the Leadgate Chapel Band, the Seaton Delaval “orchestra” and as head housekeeper at Greenside pit which involved jobs like mending pit pony harnesses at the bottom of the mineshaft.  The second speaker had wondered whether the middle name of Trevelyan in one set of sibling ancestors meant a connection to Wallington.  Only a recent chat with an elderly cousin (aged 97) revealed that the link was through education and helping an admired Trevelyan at a 1902 by-election.  It is always worth revisiting records at intervals as was proved when another member described how American census records (for 1925) and new probate/tax records were found.  They also produced a link to a grave finding site and then an obituary in which all the dates tallied.  Not a discovery but a new direction was provided by a member who, with old neighbours, is going to write up all their memories of living in a Crescent in Newcastle during the last war.  Genes Reunited and RootsWeb were cited as good sources of finding information – but came with a warning about being careful who you share information with, as some people will post it as their own!
A meeting of NDFHS Durham-Belmont Branch will be held at Belmont Community Centre, Sunderland Road, Gilesgate, Durham DH1 2LL, on Wednesday 17th February 2016 at 1.00 pm, when guest speaker Margaret Hedley will be giving a talk on "Thomas Kenny, V.C.".  Please come along - you don't have to be a member!
NDFHS Wansbeck Branch meeting 1.30 pm on Wednesday 3rd February 2016 at Pegswood Community Hub, Longhirst Road - talk by Liz Finch on "The Jacobites".
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