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Monday, 23 November 2015

Unknown Branch of the Burgon Family Tree Identified

From Barbara Colman in response to Can you Place this Unknown Branch of the Burgon Family Tree ?:

Anyone interested in the Burgon family should take a look at the ancestry details on the James Burgon page:

You can trace back James Tiger Burgon's  ancestors as far back as John Burgon b. 1720.

Another interesting ancestor is James Tiger Burgon's brother, Robert Cowe Burgon (Blue Bob), my great great grandfather. 
Both these men had very strong connections with the RNLI and won medals.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Can you Place this Unknown Branch of the Burgon Family Tree ?

Following on from The Descendants of James Burgon and Joanna Richardson, Jenny Burgon writes:

This group of 4, a couple and their daughters, are James “Tiger” Burgon, born 6 December 1848, died March 1925.
He is seated at the left in black, beside him, his wife,  Elizabeth Tait, born about 1850.

Their daughters were: Ruth, standing behind James; Mary standing behind her mother.
I am sorry that, as he is not a direct ancestor, I don't know where he fits into the Burgon family tree.

If you know where they fit into the Burgon family tree, please add a comment below.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Descendants of James Burgon and Joanna Richardson

From Jenny Burgon:
We really enjoyed the (Berwick's Maritime Connections) exhibition in July and were really sorry we were unable to return in October (for the Family History Festival).  
We noticed that one of the Burgon tree branches stopped at James Burgon and Joanna Richardson.
Their second son, Alexander, is my husband’s grandfather and here is a list of his descendants. 
I hope it fleshes out some of his offspring.

James Burgon (1856 – 1928) married Joanna Richardson (1854- 1894)

Peter (1879 -  )
Alexander (1880-1947)
Alexander was born at home in Low Greens, the second son of James and Joanna Burgon.   He joined the Navy and sailed home from China on HMS Rinaldo.  He was based at HMS Pembroke, Chatham until his marriage at the Baptist Chapel, Castlegate, Berwick-upon-Tweed on 19 October 1905.  He married Eliza Webb (1881 – 1962), the eldest daughter of a former soldier, Charles Webb (1844 – 1916) who had been posted to Berwick and married a widow, Eliza Fewell (née Scott) (1845 – 1932) in July 1879.

On his marriage, Alexander left the Navy and worked for the railway.  He and Eliza had four children: James (1907 – 1949), Alexandrina (1910 – 1982), Charles (1911 – 1974) and Peter (1916 – 1975).

James worked in Glasgow, where he married Catherine Macmillan Guy.  He volunteered for the services at the outbreak of the war but was declared unfit due to rheumatic fever as a child and joined Fairfields, the shipyards.   He also joined the Home Guard and worked in Clydebank during the blitz.   After the war he returned to Berwick.  He died there in 1950 leaving his widow with two sons, Alec and David.

Alexandrina, always known as Rina, married John Buglass and had two daughters.  Charles joined the Merchant Navy, married Nancy and had a daughter.  Peter married Isa and also had a daughter, Wendy, who joined the WRENS.  Both Charlie and Peter spent the war years in the Navy.

James’ son Alec married Valerie and has a son and three daughters, Robert, Catherine, Alexandra and Carolyn.  All married and Robert has two daughters, Laura and Olivia Burgon.  Alexandra has a daughter and 3 sons, the youngest are twins.  Carolyn has a son.   James’ son David married Jenny and has Graeme, Peter and Ruth.  Both boys married and Graeme has two daughters, Rosalind and Hayley Burgon.

Rina’s two daughters, Sandra and Frances, married and had children.  Charlie’s daughter, Patricia, married and had a son, Ben, and daughter, Nancy, who has two sons, Frank and Sidney and a daughter, Mabel.

Of Alexander’s 2 grandsons and 4 granddaughters, Alec worked as a marine draughtsman and Wendy joined the WRENs.  Of his, at least 11 great grandchildren, two have worked as diving instructors but the marine connection is now very weak.   He currently has at least 7 great great grandsons and 6 great great granddaughters.   Sadly, the Berwick connection is also weakening.  All but one of his surviving grandchildren are living in Scotland, one lives in Kent and one died in New Zealand.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Free Access to ArkivDigital's Swedish Records - November 14 to 15

This weekend, November 14 to15, ArkivDigital will open their digital online archive and give all new users free access to ArkivDigital with over 57 million images or approximately 114 million photographed historical pages.

The free offer is to celebrate National Archives Day which will be celebrated at many places throughout the Nordic countries.
Many archives, libraries and genealogical societies will be open to the public offering lectures, exhibitions and archive tours.

This is a unique opportunity to explore Swedish historical sources, everything from church books and estate inventories to military records and court records are found in ArkivDigital. There are also prison records, tax registers, documents from the Second World War and much more.

For those who are entirely new users or for those who haven’t used ArkivDigital in a while, this is a unique opportunity to explore or maybe rediscover the historical treasures which are available in their continually growing database.

More information.

There's also a reduced subscription of 195 Swedish Krona (about £15) for the next month that you can take advantage of until 19 Nov.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

New Creative Writing (Fiction) Group Using Historical Sources

Did you enjoy watching Downton Abbey, Sharpe or the dramas televised from Catherine Cookson’s novels ? 
 Do you enjoy reading historical fiction ? 
Is there a book or a short story inside you, just waiting to be written down ? 

The Berwick 900 Our Families Project has unearthed lots of interesting family stories about local people over the past 8 months, many of which can be seen here, as well as lots of other interesting bits of history. 

However, there are always questions remaining to be answered: 
Was Peter Gentle recaptured after he escaped from Berwick Jail while waiting to be transported to Australia ?, 
Did Agnes Aitchison’s son survive measles, 
Was John Hamilton Hall’s invention ever produced ? 

We’re looking to start a creative writing group to write stories, scripts for performance or poetry to fill in the gaps about incidents and historical characters in Berwick’s, Tweedmouth’s and Spittal’s history, using research produced by the Berwick 900 Our Families Project or that the writers do, themselves. 

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 a budding or an established writer and you would like to be involved, please consider coming to the Creative Writing Group’s first meeting on Tuesday, 17th November in Berwick. 

Tea and coffee will be available and attendance is free. 

Space is limited and we want only a small group at the start, so if you’re interested, please email 

and I'll provide the location and starting time,

Friday, 6 November 2015

Getting Started in Family History

As part of the Berwick 900 Our Families project, we are running a free workshop on Getting Started in Family History on Friday 13 November between 10.30 and 12.30 in Berwick Town Hall, Marygate, Berwick-Upon-Tweed,TD15 1BN. Map.

This is aimed at people who would like to start researching but don't know what to do or how to go about it. The workshop will give some pointers on how to get started.

If you are interested in attending, please book by email to or phone (01289) 301865.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Johnson Patterson's Family Story and Other Stories from the Berwick 900 Family History Festival

A major part of Berwick 900 has been the many family stories discovered during the festival.

An unusual start to the video about the Berwick 900 Family History Festival weekend has two volunteers, Trevor Bird and his son, Andrew Bird, talking about Northern Spirit, Berwick, a peer support group for people suffering from health problems like depression and anxiety issues.

Hear Gordon Elliot, born in Spittal, Peter Guthrie, Carol White and Terry White, glimpses of the exhibition in Berwick Town Hall and a couple of speakers (Fred Kennington about researching family history across the England/Scotland border and I about harnessing search engines for family history research), Derek Sharman talking about the legacy of the Berwick 900 Festival, Linda Bankier talking in detail about family history research and using Berwick Archives.

You'll see Linda Bankier in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church talking about the gravestone of Charles Younghusband Patterson, son of Johnson Patterson, born 1763 and Isabella Patterson; about checking the burial registers and the parish registers. Using church records, Linda discovered that Johnson and Isabella had 7 sons and 2 daughters, but that Johnson had an earlier wife, Ann Dumble. The 1841 census showed a son from that marriage. The Freemen of Berwick Guild records showed that Johnson was a Freeman and several of his sons became Freemen, too. Linda established that Johnson had 15 children in total.

You can also see a small boy helping artist, Carl von Weiler, making part of the Great Performing Rope.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Thomas Hogg's Family Story

From Thomas Hogg:

William Hogg and Mary Harrington Aitchison at their wedding in 1929
I was born on the Highfields Estate, Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1940.

My father was William Hogg (1896 – 1966) from Portobello, Scotland. He enlisted in the Cameron Highlanders in 1915 and fought in France till the end of World War I. After the war he returned to Portobello and worked as a journeyman butcher in West Linton, Ayton and Eyemouth and eventually Tweedmouth.

My mother - Mary Harrington Aitchison (1906 – 1995) - was born in Burnmouth, and had four brothers, namely William Spears Martin, James Martin, Thomas Martin (who went to New Zealand) and John.  My mother’s family tree (all connected with the North Sea fishing from Burnmouth and Eyemouth) can be found in the book ‘Children of the Sea’ by Peter Aitchison about the Eyemouth fishing disaster 1881.

My parents married on 25 September 1929 at the United Free Church, Burnmouth.
I was the 7th child in the family and had siblings - William (1930 – 2000), Elizabeth, Moira, Flora May (1934 -2011), Henry Bolam (1937 -2011) and James Aitchison (1939 – 2011), all of whom were born in Tweedmouth and Berwick.  A later sibling is Linda, born in Newcastle on Tyne where the family lived from 1944.

I returned to Berwick many times, in the late 40s and early 50s, with family members and stayed with relatives in Burnmouth or with the Mason family in St. Cuthberts Road, Berwick.

As a young child I enjoyed walking across the fields to bathe in the two sea-pools but was always afraid of the jelly fish that came in on the tide.   I remember going with my older siblings to the Berwick barracks and we went to one or two socials there.  In the town we loved to buy our favourite sweets, Ross’s Berwick Cockles, at a corner shop near the bridge - they were a real treat for us at that time.  

In the 50s, I recall going with my dad to Shielfield Park to see Berwick Rangers play Hibernian reserves before our team played in the new Scottish Divisions.
I still look now on Saturdays for the Berwick Rangers score.

At Burnmouth it is still easy to visualise the creels and fishing nets strung out for repair near the sea front at Cowdrait  and the many happy days we spent clambering over the rocks to collect whelks.    My grandmother (née Elizabeth Martin) lived in Cowdrait until her death in December 1947.  My uncle, Jimmy, also in Cowdrait was always telling us about the fishing off Burnmouth and about the family trawler, ‘True Vine’.

It was always fascinating later to visit the small harbour at the bottom of the brae, however the memorial stones in Ayton tell a story of tragedies in the family in the old trawling days.