By coincidence, I visited the National Archives at Kew, England website looking for the rolls Marc Morris talks about in his book, A Great and Terrible King, and was waylaid. I came across a section on Marriage Across the Border which has a scan of a genealogy made for Lord Burghley in 1596 of the Graham clan of Netherby, Cumberland. I immediately wanted to see if there were any Clark/Graham marriages (you may remember that my 3X great grandmother, Jane Graham married Henry Clark) on the document but guess what? It wouldn’t enlarge enough for me to make out that ridiculous quill pen writing of the day. I went to print it and it wouldn’t print the image although the option was there. So, no go. I have contacted the Archives to see if anything can be done. My Graham records only go back to the early 18th century. I sometimes think it would take 10 lifetimes to sort out our life in Britain, never mind when they finally came over to Canada! Will advise.
I have plotted my ancestors on this map of Roman Scotland. This is a little hypothetical in that this is where they were from 1600 AD onward. It puts them in context a little. You can see my Grandmother’s family (Smith and Gartshore) ensconced in the more prosperous area of Glasgow where they would have been more Britonic. My two gg grandparents, Will and Sarah’s families (Graham and McDougall at opposite ends, Sarah growing up just above Hadrian’s wall and William’s family being further north in their original setting. William’s family would have been definitely Gaelic.
Two of William’s daughters married into the Fraser family but I didn’t plot them because they are not blood relatives. Later, I will plot the families on a medieval map which should give a better idea of what ethnic and language groups they fell into.
Here is an interesting article about Scottish surnames.
In 1848, Jane Ann McDowell, William and Sarah’s first child, was born on Canongate Street, in the town of Alnwick, Northumberland. Later, in the 1851 census, we find them living in the Tile Sheds, Village of Letch, Longhoughton. They have a new daughter, Alice born that year, 1851. Alice was followed by James born 1853. The children were duly christened at the Church in Longhoughton.
So, while William laboured and made his way, Sarah was kept busy having children. By 1855, my great grandmother, Elizabeth was born in Embleton. The family had moved again. Sarah signed with an X on the birth certificate showing that she was the one that registered the child. An entry in Whellan’s directory for Northumberland 1855 Embleton shows William McDowell as co-proprietor of a beer house. As stated below, employers often owned and paid their employees from a public house so I think we can assume that William was either managing or owned a tilery by this time.
From The Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton by Louise Creighton:
“Creighton, the vicar, had a poor opinion of the villagers (of Embleton): “In many ways the moral standard of the village was very low, and it was a difficult place to improve. There was no resident squire, the chief employers of labour were on much the same level of cultivation as those they employed, and in some cases owned the public-houses and paid the wages there .”Writing two years after he had left Embleton, Creighton said: “I always felt myself engaged (at Embleton) in downright warfare, and strove to get hold of the young … working through the school, the choir, the G.F.S., any possible organisation of the young, that here and there one or two might be got hold of who would make a testimony. The unchastity of Embleton was terrible – low, animal.” (Quoted from Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton by Louise Creighton 1904 and posted on Wikipedia.
Not an easy time for Sarah, it would appear, following William around as he looked for work. The 1851 English census shows her parents and a brother living in Hesleyhurst, about 12 miles southwest of Alnwick. However, her brother Fergus can be found in Embleton on the 1861 census so it is likely that William and some of her brothers went to that area for employment. One definitely gets a sense of how important family was during those times. Sarah’s family came to visit her in Ireland many times over the years.
Two things happened in the following 5 years, another girl was born, Sarah in 1859. and William somehow came into contact with Lord Edward Stanley, the 15th Earl of Derby. From this he was assigned management of a tilery at Solloghead in Tipperary, Ireland.
It is so unfortunate that we do not have paintings or photographs of our ancestors when they were young. The above photograph of Sarah was very likely taken for a special occasion sometime around the marriage of my great-grandmother Elizabeth McDowell (1885). In her face, you can see the experience and hardship she went through in her life. And the strength of character. I admit to being enthralled by the history of Sarah’s family right from the start and found myself side-tracked several times just researching. Below is a map of Cumberland, England c. 1814, showing Arthuret and the range of her family in blue.
The story of Sarah Clark’s family is a very old and interesting one. She was born along with her twin sister, Jane on March 25, 1821 at Great Randalinton, Arthuret, Cumberland. This area is just slightly south and east of Longtown and northeast of Carlisle (now called Cumbria). Her family consisted of a long series of marriages between the Graham and Clark families who were inhabitants of the border area of Scotland and England . At the time of Sarah’s birth, the family lived and worked on the Netherby estate owned by Lord Graham. A little further south, lay Hadrian’s Wall built during the Roman occupation. This area was at one time known as “the debatable lands” and was the scene of border raids by the Scots and English into each other’s territory. Among the most notorious of these “Reivers” were the Grahams from whom Sarah’s maternal line was descended, her mother being Jane Graham. When James I became King he brought the border lands under control and built the Scots Dyke to separate the two areas. And as time passed, the title “Duke of Montrose” was bestowed upon the Graham Clan in Scotland where it remains today.
Randalintion was part of an area in Cumberland granted to Richard Graham by King James I. In 1690, Richard was charged with treason against King James and his property was confiscated. It was then granted to Charles, the Earl of Carlisle. From the Treasury Books for 1694:
February 1. Royal warrant to the Attorney or Solicitor General for a great seal for a grant to Charles, Earl of Carlisle, Sir George Fletcher, bart., and Thomas Bendlows of all that manor of Arthurett and Randalinton, co. Cumberland, its courts, villes, granges, farms etc., parcel thereof and forfeited to the Crown by the treason of Sir Richard Grahme 1690, Dec. 29, and the capital messuage called Netherby Hall, with the demesne lands thereto, situate in the said manor and in the parish of Kirk Andrews; . . .
The family of Henry Clark was settled at Randalinton when he was born in 1784 to Henry Clark and Mary Graham. He married Jane Clark in 1804 at Kirk Andrews Upon Esk. They had 11 children.
Today Randalinton is a large farm with a house, outbuildings and small cottage by the road, very likely the former site of Great and Little Randalinton.
Below, a picture of the church where Sarah and Jane were baptized. King Arthur is said to be buried there.
And a description of the Graham land grant by King James I in which both Sarah’s and her parents birthplaces are mentioned. From “ A History of Cumberland” by Richard Saul Ferguson.
“In 1604 James I, sold to George the earl of Cumberland, the lands of the barony, namely, Nichol forest, the manors of Arthuret, Lidelll and Randalinton, The Fishery of Esk, and the Debateable Ground—about 5400 acres. The next earl, Francis sold this vast estate to Richard Graham, son of Fergus Graham of the Plump. From this Richard, descend the Grahams of Esk and of Netherby in Cumberland and of Norton Conyers in Yorkshire. Richard Graham was in the service of the Duke of Buckingham and rose through the Duke’s interest to high favor with James I and Prince Charles whom he accompanied on his journey into Spain………………. Like the Dacres, the Grahams are we think (natives) of the county, at any rate, of the borders….. Sir J.R.G. Graham will ever hold a place of elevation among modern Cumberland worthies. To his sagacity and energy are due the improvements which have brought this once wild district to a high rank among landed estates.
William started out as a labourer on a farm at Sturton Grange, a tiny agricultural community in Warkworth, Northumberland. He was working among English people so we assume that he gained the name “Irish Willie” from the people he worked and lived with.
William and Sarah met while he was working under her father, Henry in the tilery at Sturton Grange. Many large farms had tilerys on them to make the drainage tiles that were used to drain excess water from the land. They were generally built where there were large deposits of clay. The process was very labor intensive.
Sarah Clark was described as being a tiny girl with a pink and white complexion. She spoke in the old dialect using thou and durst (dare), common in the border country. Whatever, her attributes, William decided she was the girl for him. Her family did not agree to them marrying, so they ran away to be married across the Scottish border. It was thought at Gretna Green but finding no records of them there, I contacted the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society. I was able to get a record of an irregular marriage for them which took place on July 10, 1847 at Lamberton Toll, Scotland. This is just north of the border and close to Alnwick where they spent their early years. The reasons for the irregular marriage can only be assumed but Sarah was of age being 26.