1,261 baptisms at the Scotch Church in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland district, covering 1778-1837.
Birthdates are included in most of these baptisms, and even better, mother’s maiden surnames and the birthplaces of both parents were included starting in August 1800 and continuing to the end of this record set (end of 1837). From July 1825 onward, the baptisms included the names of witnesses, and we noticed that often one of the witnesses shared the surname of the mother, leading us to think the witness was probably her father or brother.
- 28 Mar 1778 Alexander McKinzey, of Monkwearmouth Shore, born 20 Mar 1778, son of Alexander & Christian McKinzey
- 22 Sep 1800 John Lockart, born 30 Aug 1800, son of George Lockart (shoemaker, native of Penenock, mid Lothian) & Jane Vietch (native of Longham, N.B.)
- 30 Jan 1814 James Roseberry, 4th son of Thomas Roseberry (mason, native of Authol Stoneford, N.B.) & Bridget Salmon (native of Sunderland, C. Durham)
- 5 Aug 1825 Jane Balmer, of Monkwearmouth, born 24 Jul, 1st daughter of James Balmer (joiner, native of Rothberry, Northumberland) & Elizabeth Hay (his wife, native of Monkwearmouth)
Witnesses: John Brown, elder of Park Chapel & Robert Hay
- 22 Dec 1831 Peter Hunter, born 8 Dec, 2nd son of William Hunter (native of Lerwick, Scotland) & Isabella Turnbull (his wife, native of Monkwearmouth; she died soon after the child was born)
Witnesses: James Rose, elder & John Turnbull
Many of these parents were born in Scotland. At this time, the southern part of Berwickshire was called Merse (March, or borderland) and, in this register, this area is often called Merceshire, Merseshire, or the shire of Merce.
History of the Scotch/Scots Church in Monkwearmouth
Since the introduction of Presbyterianism in Sunderland in the mid-eighteenth century, the protestant dissenting congregation (non-conformists) had to attend either the chapel in Robinson Lane, built in 1739, or the Spring Garden Lane chapel, which was first used in 1766. Both were in Sunderland, and there was no bridge across the River Wear, so members from Monkwearmouth had to take a ferry across the river, which was inconvenient and sometimes dangerous. To solve this problem, in the spring of 1777*, a chapel was created in a converted stable near the top of Brewery Bank in Monkwearmouth. Land was then acquired opposite the brewery and a chapel was erected in 1778. Known locally as the Ropery Lane or Rope Walk chapel because of a nearby ropery, the name was changed to the Park Chapel early in the ministry of the Rev. Alexander McFarlane (1803-1813). The move from Brewery Bank to Bridge Road (now North Bridge Street) took place in 1827, after the lease of the Park Chapel had expired. Timbers from Park Chapel were recycled to make the pews in the new church at Bridge Road. This church was demolished in 1891 and replaced in 1892 by the church that stands there today.
Because of all the moves, the same families will appear to have attended different churches throughout this period, but in reality, it was the same congregation, sometimes moving location, sometimes changing the name of the meeting place. Records for this congregation are found under the following names: Brewery Bank, Ropery Lane or Rope Walk, Park Chapel, and Bridge Road which later became North Bridge Street. This record set includes all of those locations.
*Several scholarly articles cite a particular ferry accident, which drowned about 20 people, supposedly including some church members returning home from Sunday services, as the impetus for acquiring a chapel on the north side of the river. However, this particular accident didn’t occur until 1795, almost 20 years after the establishment of the meeting place on Brewery Bank, so I’m not sure why it gets cited as such.