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2 Dec 2016

I Can't Believe I Know it All - But I Do

Although Annie Gibson was born in 1836, I was able to stay the night once, with one of her granddaughters. I had invited myself there in the dying years of the century. I tried to peer back to another epoch behind the bright south coast sunshine. I failed.

I blogged about how we found her father's true identity as a wagoner in South Shields.

But although new cousins could share plenty about Annie's mother, we were still none the wiser about her father, John Gibson. We had his marriage at Allendale and his 1841 census entry in Westoe, age 25, but that was it.

He must have died by 1851 but back in 2008 it was prohibitively expensive to look at the GRO death indexes, as there are lots of Gibsons in South Shields.

I decided to look at all the John Gibsons born in Northumberland who had a baby brother Jonathan, the crucial witness at his marriage with very childish writing.

The boys were found, baptised along the Tyne at independent chapels by their noble father, Lancelot. Lance became farm steward to the powerful vicar Christopher Bird of Chollerton, not far from Allendale.  Cousin Linda went through the Chollerton registers and found that my John's death in South Shields was recorded in 1844. She even photographed his gravestone all covered in snow one February morning while up walking the dogs. It is still there, listed with his parents Lancelot and Ann.

Gingerly, I stepped back further in time, by going forwards. The 1861 census for Crawcrook seemed to reveal there was an older half-sister born at Whittonstall while John's mother was still unmarried. A search of the registers by Linda there took me back another two generations.

I had now arrived at Annie's great grandparents John and Ann Charlton born in the late 1750s in the Hexham area.

The new GRO indexes brought some surprises to the narrative.

Annie Gibson was not an only child. In October 1843 came along brother William who died at eight months and is buried at South Shields. Six months later dies John, 31, after an accident on the wagons. His widow becomes a housekeeper in fancy Newcastle while Annie goes to live with her aunt in The Lakes.

At this point her widowed grandfather, Lance Gibson is still alive, but guess who else is still alive? John's grandparents the Charltons, Annie's great grandparents! (Her mother's parents and a grandmother were also still living.)

The Charltons had thus survived their daughter grandson and baby great-grandson.

The GRO indexes reveal that Ann reached age 88 and died in Gunnerton Burn from drowning in June of 1847. Her husband of over 60 years went to stay in Hexham and died there two weeks later.

Interestingly, their other grandson John Gibson was then completing his family of illegitimate children by various local women. Avoiding marriage he used his power to his advantage. His children all lived with him at Colwell.

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