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Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Errington Inquiry, 1715

Here's another video from the 1715 Northumbrian Jacobite Rising weekend with John Nicholls, MBE, talking about the Northumbrian Jacobites and what happened to the unsuccessful rebel ringleaders, Kendal Leask about the reproduction printing press, excerpts from poetry readings in English and French in Berwick Literary Festival, Derek Sharman about the Berwick 900 Festival and a drama, The Errington Inquiry set in the Court room above Berwick Guildhall.

The inquiry was presided over by the Mayor of Berwick and features Mrs Wilson, a tavern-keeper on Holy Island,  Corporal Francis Amos, Alexander Unthank, the jail-keeper and tavern-keeper of the Berwick Arms. Most of their evidence is about Lancelot Errington, the principal ringleader who seized Holy Island castle with his nephew.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Men Who Marched Away - Stories from the Berwick World War I Research Project

The Friends of Berwick & District Museum and Archives' autumn lecture will be about some of the research undertaken by the volunteers on the Berwick World War I Research Project. It includes short talks on Belgian Refugees,Berwick War memorial and Gallipoli.

It'll be at 7pm on Friday, 6 November in at Holy Trinity Parish Centre, The Parade,  Berwick-upon-Tweed (in the grounds of Holy Trinity Parish Church).

Open to everyone. Free admission.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A Replica 18th Century Printing Press in Action

This is a replica of the type of printing press used in the 17th and early 18th century used to produce a reproduction of the Berwick Patriot broadsheet about the capture of Holy Island by the Jacobites.

It was set up at 2 Hide Hill, Berwick-upon-Tweed on the 1715 Jacobite Rising weekend, 10 & 11 October.

The ink should have been chimney soot mixed with boiled linseed oil but they didn't have any apprentices to mix it, so they used a modern water-based ink.

It was interesting that they were using an engraved steel plate rather than blocks of type and while I watched, it was rather slow production; though the printer claimed that an experienced 18th century printer with a full staff could produce 180 printed sheets an hour, which is somewhat faster than my dot-matrix printer, on my computer system, could produce in 1985.

The initial narrator is Derek Sharman, the subsequent narrator, talking about the press is Kendal Leask.

A Gallery of Photos from the Berwick 900 Family History Festival

These images are of the Berwick 900 Family History Festival held on 3 and 4 October.

Davina on the Borders FHS stall

John Murray talking to Alan Turnbull about family history

Berwick Record Office Display about the Brown and Willoby Families

Northumberland Archives Display

Berwick Record Office Display about Dr Philp MacLagan

Berwick Record Office Display about Thomas Grey, the Railway Poet

Northumberland & Durham Family History Society

Northumberland & Durham Family History Society Display

Northumberland & Durham Family History Society Display

Telling a Family Story on the Great Performing Rope stand

Berwick Stamp Club Display

New Book: The Postal History of Berwick-upon-Tweed


Scottish Genealogical Society Display

Scottish Genealogical Society Display

Borders Family History Society Display about the 
former Peel Hospital, near Clovenfords

John Murray talking to Alan Turnbull about family history

Berwick Record Office Display

Gregory Lauder-Frost providing advice (by courtesy of Valerie Glass)

(by courtesy of Valerie Glass)

Having a Chat on the Northumberland & Durham Family History Society Stand 
(by courtesy of Valerie Glass)

Northumberland & Durham Family History Society Display 
(by courtesy of Valerie Glass)

Arty-Facts Finale to Berwick 900 at Berwick Town Hall - 24 and 25 October

This weekend from 11am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday there will be an exhibition of local art and craftwork reflecting the themes of the Berwick 900 festival during 2015 in the Berwick Town Hall and demonstrations of peg-loom weaving, needle-felting, Lucet cord-making, mosaic-work and making rag-rugs.

There will also be family history displays.

It's not quite the finale, because the Berwick 900 Our Families project will be continuing to record family stories and provide training in family history and related subjects over the winter and into next spring.

Also, go and visit the memories and family stories of Berwick-upon-Tweed tied to a rope  from 22 to 25 October.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Memories and Family Stories of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Tied to a Rope – 22-25 October

Carl von Weiler making a section of rope
Can you imagine the memories and family stories of Berwick-upon-Tweed tied to a rope ?

Visit Berwick, this Thursday to Sunday (22-25 October), to see a 900 metre sculptural rope threaded through the centre of Berwick with family stories and memories of Berwick attached to the rope on luggage-type label pieces of card as well as other objects.

I’ve had a hard time imagining it but I’m looking forward to seeing the rope, handling the objects and reading the stories.

The idea is inspired by the town’s history of rope making and the legendary rope walks that residents and visitors to Berwick-upon-Tweed still remember.

The rope will be in place from 22nd to 25th October but the family stories will stay on The Great Performing Rope website for at least a year.

There’s still time to get your family story included.  If you miss their deadline, send your story to

and I'll put it on the family stories section of the blog.

Also, visit the art and crafts exhibition in Berwick Town Hall from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, 24 October and Sunday. 25 October.

The Willoby Family ‘Pedigree’

From Julia Day:

In connection with the Greenses/Ravensdowne families project,  I have been researching the Willoby family, whose male line came to an end with the death of Edward Willoby in 1922.  He was a land agent, but his brother William Gray, father Edward, his grandfather William and great-grandfather Edward were all solicitors, and his father, grandfather and great-grandfather served the office of Town Clerk.

I have found many records to help build a fuller picture of the family, but some of the most interesting have been newspaper articles. 

On Edward’s death in 1922, an article was published in the Berwick Advertiser describing him and listing his interests.  It describes him as reserved and dignified, with ‘simple old-world manners’.  However, a keen horseman, it also paints a picture of him ‘in blue coat and white buckskin breeches’  riding up Hide Hill towards his stables at the top of Woolmarket on a ‘tired and mudstained’ horse. 

Edward never married, neither did his brother, William, or his sister, Mary Lee Willoby.  

His other sister, Jane Gray Willoby, married William Anderson and lived in Dunbar.  She died in 1927, her death notice in the Berwick Advertiser stating that she was ‘the only surviving member of the Willoby family resident in Berwick since the sixteenth century. 

In 1923, an article on the Willoby Family appeared in the Berwick Advertiser, drawing up a family tree going back to around 1603.  It relies in part on parish records, most of which I have checked, but also draws on a pedigree ‘in the possession of the late Mr Edward Willoby’. 

I wonder where it is now. 

Have you heard of this pedigree, and whether it still exists? 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Be Famous for a Few Weeks

Inspired by the town’s history of rope making and the legendary rope walks that residents and visitors to Berwick-upon-Tweed still remember, The Great Performing Rope is producing a 900 metre rope, which will be threaded through the town with objects and family stories attached to it.

Add your memories of Berwick, interest in Berwick or hope for the town's future by adding your story, now.

Also, consider sending us an email to

with your family story (and possibly a picture ?) connected with Berwick, Tweedmouth or Spittal for the family stories section of the blog.

Berwick Literary Festival, 16 to 18 October

There's more than 25 interesting talks and workshops to engage you during Berwick Literary Festival which runs from 16 to 18 October.

For example,
Friday, 16 October at 10am  
Archives for Creative Writing
A talk by Linda Bankier at Holy Trinity Parish Centre (tickets £2).

Friday, 16 October at 12 noon  
History in Historical Fiction: Icing on the Cake or Main Ingredient?
A talk by Margaret Skea about her latest book; A House Divided. Set in Scotland in the 16th Century, Munro, one of the Earl of Glencairn's followers, is trapped in a longstanding feud between the Montgomeries and the Cunninghames.

Sunday, 18 October at 2pm  
Archives for Creative Writing
A workshop led by Linda Bankier at Holy Trinity Parish Centre (tickets £5).

Full list of Berwick Literary Festival events.

Bookings for a talk or workshop.

Are you an author or want to be one ?
Are you interested being part of a creative writing group, based in Berwick, uses your own historical research, newspaper clippings or research produced by the Berwick 900 Our Families Project to write fictional family stories about incidents (before World War I) and historical characters in Berwick’s, Tweedmouth’s and Spittal’s history ?

There's lots of scope for imagining what led up to incidents, what impact it had on people, what happened afterwards and creating a family story.

If you're interested, please send me an email

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

300th Anniversary of 1715 Jacobite Rising, 10 and 11 October, Berwick-upon-Tweed Town Hall

This weekend, there's another Berwick 900 event commemorating the 300th anniversary of the capture of Holy Island Castle by the Northumbrian Jacobites in 1715 and the blowing up of houses in Castlegate, Berwick.

The event is at Berwick Town Hall, Marygate, Berwick-Upon-Tweed,TD15 1BN. Map. Admission is free and it runs from 11am to 4pm.

The Fifteen (The Northumbrian Jacobite Society) will have a stand.

Impromptu drama scenes in and around the Town Hall based on the inquiry into the Erringtons' capture of Holy Island Castle.

2pm A talk "The 1715 Rebellion from the Berwick Archives perspective" by Linda Bankier.

There will be three dramas based on the inquiry into the Erringtons' capture of Holy Island Castle.  These will take place in the courtroom upstairs from the big hall at 12.30, 1.30 and 2.30pm.

2pm A talk "Berwick's response to the Jacobite threat" by Phil Rowett 

Also, the Wilson’s Tales Project have arranged for Northumberland Theatre Company to do their stage version of ‘Lancelot Errington: A Tale of Lindisfarne’ (about the Northumbrian Jacobites) at Berwick Town Hall on 10th of October at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5.

More information and a booking link.

Elsewhere, at 2 Hide Hill, a replica 18th century printing press will be producing copies of an A3 broadsheet and handed out free of charge. 
The press will be open from 11am until 4pm on Saturday and 11am until 3pm on Sunday.

Was your ancestor one of the Northumbrian Jacobites ?

Was your ancestor's house blown up ?

Friday, 2 October 2015

Free Access Weekend to Ancestry UK

It seems doubtful that Ancestry have announced their free weekend just for the Berwick 900 Family History Festival but let's make good use of it.

Free access is until midnight British Summer Time.

I'm puzzled that the Ancestry page says "UK Records Free Access" but lists only immigration and emigration records.

The records include

  • 19th-Century Emigration from Kreis Simmern (Hunsrueck), Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany to Brazil, England, Russian Poland, and USA
  • A List of Emigrants from England to America, 1682-1692 and 1718-1759
  • American Migrations 1765-1799
  • An Alphabetical Index to Ulster Emigration to Philadelphia, 1803-1850
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