©Vivien Ellis, June 8, 2003
Social History from the Burial Register of St. Andrew, Aycliffe,1800 - 1809
Having done many look-ups for several people from the registers of St. Andrew, Aycliffe, and sending this information via the Internet I have acquired some knowledge of the area of Great Aycliffe. Recently I have been collating this information and typing it up onto my computer. The amount of social detail is fascinating and here are a few observations from just a short period of time, 1800 -1809.
214 people were buried between January 18, 1800 and September 24, 1809, ages ranging from one hour to one hundred and one years old. Of these 76 were children from 1 hour old to 16 years of age, a sad reflection of the high child mortality rate.
The child who was 1 hour old was John Swinbank, son of William Swinbank, and died March 14, 1807 and was buried the following day. John Stockdale, from the Township of Preston le Skern, lost two sons, James and Robert, aged 1 year and 4 years, on successive days and buried them October 18, 1805. John Brown, Clerk of this Parish, lost his daughter Elizabeth November 1, 1800, age 16.
Some men suffered loss doubly: Thomas Walker lost his third daughter Ann April 7, 1802, only 2 days old, and then his wife Isabel died 4 days later, April 11, 1802, age 37. John Newton, Farmer at Ricknall Grange, lost his third son, John, June 12, 1804 (no age given) and then his wife Elizabeth the next month, July 31, 1804, age 43 years. Joseph Wood, Paper Stainer, lost his wife Margaret, daughter of Thomas and Margaret Bentley of Darlington, December 24, 1807, age 25 years. Sadly just over a month later, January 28, 1808, his first son, Shipton Wood, died age 11 weeks.
If a child was illegitimate (or natural used as an euphemism) it was duly noted, so we know that Abraham Burton, who died 18 days old, January 18, 1804, was the natural son of Mary Burton, and 2 ½ year old Jane Wilkinson, who died June 19, 1806, was the illegitimate daughter of Hannah Wilkinson. Even if you were an older child your illegitimacy wasn't forgotten. Poor William Snaith, who was 13 years old when he died June 15, 1806, is noted as being the illegitimate child of Mary Snaith.
People's occupations or living conditions are often noted. Martha Atty, a poor widow, died January 21, 1800, age 60 years. Jane Snaith, age 83 years, died December 1, 1808, in the Poor House of Aycliffe. William Walker, son of William Walker, age 18, was a weaver, Thomas Smith, age 84, a yeoman, John Clement, age 35, a slater and Thomas Moore of Brafferton, age 86, was a potter. George, the father of Mary Fairbarnes, age 14, was a shoemaker and Cabel Worth, whose wife Ann died age 61, was a quarryman. Richard Bacon, age 60, had been a taylor (sic). Robert Jackson, whose widow Barbara died age 72, October 2, 1807, had been a stone mason. Thomas Hammond, whose widow died January 3, 1808, age 77, had been a house carpenter. William Bywell was a shopkeeper. His mother Elizabeth died age 76, November 22, 1808. John Stamper was a miller and lost his 5 year old daughter Jane, July 15, 1802.
There were several blacksmiths and innkeepers. The blacksmiths: Thomas Elliott died January 8, 1800, age 27, Robert Robinson died July 20, 1803, age 80, Joseph Addison of Traveller's Rest, age 65 and John Fogg, age 50, died September 29, 1807. There may have been a local scandal not forgotten when Mary Miralees died age 63, June 22, 1807. Noted in her entry is the fact that she was the "widow of Alexander Miralees, Blacksmith - see his death May 6, 1799." When this was checked Alexander was 80 years old at his death, so had Mary, who would have been just 55 years old when he died, been his dolly bird?!?
The innkeepers and publicans were James Eden of Traveller's Rest, age 35, John Smith, whose wife Mary died May 16, 1804, age 42, and William Coulson. His wife Margaret, who died age 40, September 20, 1808, was the daughter of William Smith of Aycliffe Moor and had been the widow of the James Eden above, who was buried March 8, 1800.
January and February 1805 were not good months for widows! The following 5 widows died: Ann Ewbank, age 40, January 8, Ann Whitelock, age 69, January 8, Elizabeth S….?, age 62, January 31, Ann Swinbank, age 70, February 12, and Elizabeth Watson, age 86, February 26, 1805.
The church officials were no less affected by death. Already noted is John Brown, Clerk of this Parish, who lost his daughter Elizabeth. The Rev. Mr Henderson lost 2 older children. His second daughter Elizabeth died age 24, August 19, 1801 and his son James Thomson Henderson died September 13, 1809, age 28 years. John Perkins, Parish Clerk, lost his second wife Margaret, age 33, December 11, 1808. Thomas Brown, Sexton, died age 61, December 13, 1801 and James Robson, Vicar of this Parish, died October 12, 1805, age 76 years.
From out of the parish were buried 3 month old Elizabeth Lawson, daughter of John Lawson, Traveller from Blackwell, and William Wynne from Bletchington, Oxfordshire. William Wynne was 25 or 35 years old and was a Private in the 11 th Regiment of Light Dragoons. He died August 19, 1801.
Finally, there are 15 farmers mentioned in this period: David Taylerson, age 85, John Johnson, age 76, Thomas Walker, whose son Robert died age 50, James Clement, age 66, John Newton, who lost 2 children and his wife, and George Cowley who died November 1802. William Towers, age 82, and John Towers, age 50, both of Newhouse, died February 20, and March 30, 1803. John Staindrop lost his 3 month old son William, and George Etherington his 16 year old daughter Jane. John ??? of Woodham died age 63, Robert Walker lost his 21 year old daughter Ann, and Edward Hall of Brafferton died May 17, 1806, age 64 years. Most intriguing of all is Jonathan Wearmouth, who died July 1, 1807, age 77 years, and is described as "a decayed Farmer".
From the 14 farmers so far detailed it is evident that many of the farmers were old when they died and, therefore, it is no surprise that the entry in this period that gives us the centenarian is that of a farmer:
William Simpson, of Aycliffe, Farmer, died September 30, 1801 and was buried October 3?, 1801, age 101 years