4,516 baptisms and 3,526 burials at Earsdon St. Alban in Tynemouth district in the county of Northumberland, covering 1773-1812, from the Bishop’s Transcript with extensive checking against the original register. This includes the detail-rich period, which at Earsdon started a bit earlier than usual. Baptisms at Earsdon started providing birth dates in 1793 (and some before that), and maiden surnames of mothers start appearing in both baptisms and burials in August 1795, over 2 years before this information was required.
In these records, there are numerous references to “Bedlington, Durham” or “Bedlingtonshire”. This may puzzle modern researchers, who think of Bedlington as being firmly situated in Northumberland. Although it was always within the traditional bounds of Northumberland, Bedlington, also called Bedlingtonshire, had been bought by the Bishop of Durham in the early 900s and was an “exclave”, a detached part of County Durham.
Here are some sample baptisms:
- 3 Jan 1773 Elizabeth [Crammon/Lawson], illegitimate daughter of George Lawson & Mary Crammon
- 15 Apr 1787 John Hogg, of South Blyth, born 21 Sep 1781, son of Mr Jonas (surgeon) & Sarah Hogg, private baptism 28th Sep 1781
- 23 Aug 1795 Isabella Duxfield, of Newsham, born 20 Jul 1790, daughter of Timothy Duxfield (farmer) & Jane his wife formerly Mafflin
- 31 Oct 1808 Sarah Horner, born 1 Dec 1784, 4th daughter of John Horner (Esq., native of Bradford, Yorkshire) by his wife Ann Robison Wakefield (native of Darlington, Durham)
- 29 Nov 1812 David Howe, born 29 Sep, 5th son of the late George Howe (pitman, native of Chester le Street) by his wife Jane Scurfield (native of this parish)
Sample burials, starting with the oldest person in this set, who was born about 1695 if her age is correct:
- 23 Nov 1804 Elizabeth Wood, of Sleekburn in Bedlington parish, age: 109, spinster, died 22 Nov
- 14 Jan 1773 Susanna Wonders, of Hartley, daughter of Thomas & Deborah Wonders
- 26 May 1783 Mary Heslop, of Burrowdon, wife of William Heslop (labourer)
- 27 Oct 1795 Elizabeth Heron, of Seaton Sluice, daughter of Thomas Heron (glassman) & Margaret his wife formerly Coundon
- 8 Apr 1803 Mary Gallon late Saunderson, of Seaton Sluice, age: 63, died 6 Apr, wife of Ephraim Gallon (blacksmith)
- 10 Apr 1810 Henry Short, of South Blyth, age: 43, pilot, buried at Blyth, lost in the lifeboat off Hartley Bates in heavy surf on 7 Apr
The lifeboat disaster referenced in the last burial above was documented thusly (courtesy of Google Books) in “THE HISTORY OF BLYTH, FROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST TO THE PRESENT DAY”, by JOHN WALLACE, published in 1869. On page 129 it says:
On the morning of April 7th, 1810, the morning being fine and the sea smoother than it had been for several days, a number of Cullercoats fishermen launched their boats and went off to their great lines. Whilst employed at their fishing a sudden storm broke over them, and they had to hasten towards the shore to find shelter, but were driven to leeward of Cullercoats, the wind blowing from the E.S.E., with a heavy sea. They were seen off Hartley in great peril; the Blyth life-boat was sent for and obtained; a number of people accompanied her. The boat was manned by a crew of seventeen men, and put off just by Hartley Bates; she was gallantly rowed through the breakers, and reached the cobles. She took eleven men out of the cobles, and such was the confidence of the crew in her capabilities that they also took on board a considerable quantity of the fishing tackle; having thus far succeeded in their mission of mercy, the question arose among the crew as to where they were to land; the majority were for landing where they launched from; others wished to run down to Blyth, which they could have easily and safely done in less than an hour; unhappily the former opinion prevailed, and they attempted to land on the beach. On coming among the breakers a high and ridgy wave broke into the boat, severely injuring the steersman and stoving the boat almost to pieces; still she floated. Another heavy wave followed when she was nearing the shore, and being under no command she struck the ground, splitting nearly in two; the cork floated and the fragments were entirely dispersed. In an instant, twenty-eight men were struggling in the surf, in the sight, and within a few yards, of fully 2,000 people, many of whom saw a father, a husband, or a brother perishing before their eyes, without being able to render them the smallest aid. Thomas Brown, the son of a Hartley pilot, was so nearly saved that he obtained footing just opposite where his father was standing; they each recognised the other, and the father, crying, “O my son, Tom, come to me ! ” hastened to help him; when they had nearly met, the back-sweep of a wave carried the young man to sea again, where he was overpowered, and ultimately perished.
In a few moments the death-struggle was over, only two men escaped with life, twenty-six having met a watery grave. Nine of those who were lost belonged to Blyth, viz : Henry Short, Duncan Stewart,John Hall, Thos. Turnbull, John Dobie, Wm. Oliver, Wm. Todd, Joseph Partis, and Matthew Jefferson. Short, Stewart, Dobie, and Oliver were buried in Blyth churoh-yard on Monday, the 9th of April. Henry Short commanded the boat, and was a fine good-looking man, and a gallant and skilful seaman. He was the youngest of five brothers, at that time pilots at Blyth, when there were but twelve pilots attached to the port; he had swam to the beach, but, being too much exhausted to rise, he expired before he was discovered. Duncan Stewart also reached the beach, but, being driven with great violence against a rock, he died. Duncan was an excellent swimmer; a few years before this, he had been at sea off Blyth in a pilot boat; on returning he was alone in the boat, tow-a-stern of a ship; when crossing the bar, the boat filled with water and sunk, leaving him to swim for his life. He managed to disencumber himself of his pea jacket, and, after almost superhuman efforts, he reached a place where he obtained footing; there he remained till a boat was sent to his rescue from the upper part of the harbor. Short and Stewart were married men and left large families; the others were single, and all quite young. John Hall was eldest brother to the present Mrs. James Darling. Matthew Jefferson was cousin to the writer; the others have no relations here so far as can be ascertained.
This disaster was generally attributed to the improper materials of which the life-boat was formed. The subscribers had contracted with the builders to make her of wainscot, with copper bolts, but after she had gone to pieces, it was discovered that she had been built (of elm with iron fastenings; she was a large boat, and. much more fragile in appearance than the life-boats built since.) It cannot be doubted that if she had been as stoutly built as those we have now, she would not have had her timbers overstrained and her joints loosened by the first sea that broke into her, nor have crumbled to pieces the first time she came to the ground.
The sum of £933 was subscribed for the widows and orphans. Six of those lost belonged to Hartley, Josiah Walker, Thomas Brown, John Bobinson, George Lee, James Morgan, and William Hunter; also Thomas Lilly, who was saved; the other man who was saved was a Swede, belonging to the “Beckford” of Blyth.