The Acomb line starts essentially with James Mewburn, 1680-1731, the Steward at Seaton Delaval. He had a first marriage, with two sons both of whom were apprenticed to tanners in Newcastle (a potentially lucrative, but odorous, trade). He then married Jane Armstrong in 1708, daughter of Simon Armstrong of Acomb House (now a Grade II listed building) on the edge of Acomb village, near Hexham, Northumberland. In tribute to Jane’s father both Simon and Armstrong became given names in the family.
James’s father was another James. He may have had another son, Thomas (of the Croft line), who links these Mewburns to those of Cleveland.
Early north east Mewburns
Dorothea Mewburn-Watson’s account of the Acomb branch provides a family tale that Jane Armstrong had two suitors, James and some unknown Scotsman. Unable to decide she took a stick, balanced it on the ground and when it fell pointing to the south accepted James. Not the most romantic start to a dynasty.
Dorothea also had access to family papers and portraits whose whereabouts are no longer known. These included part of the marriage settlement with Simon Armstrong’s seal and including the wording:
“The fifth day of May in the seventh yeare of the reign of our Sovereign lady Anne by the grace of God of Gt. Britain, France, and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith”. Then the names of the couple and “It is concluded and agreed upon by and between the said parties to those present that a marriage shall by the grace of God be shortly here-with-after had and solemnized.”
The marriage duly took place at Warden, Northumberland on the 20th May 1708. James then had eleven children with Jane to add to the two from his first marriage.
Acomb though did not come to him or indeed to his wife Jane, the natural heiress. Instead the will of Simon Armstrong left it to his grandson, Simon Mewburn, via his mother – who remains memorialised on a plaque in Acomb House.
The Armstrong/Mewburn plaque in Acomb House
The plaque is slightly at odds with available records which show three sons and seven daughters. Seven of them reached adulthood and were married, including two sons. Dorothea’s account has them going off to Southwick in County Durham but this must be wrong as their children were all born at Earsdon. That was where they lived, close to Seaton Delaval and to James’s commitments as the Steward there. The Victoria County History has Jane going to live at Southwick, or Suddick as it is often called, after James’s death in 1731. Suddick is where her other son Armstrong was farming. Monkwearmouth, the district in which Southwick lies, is then where some of her daughters make their marriages.
In his will of 1731 James is described as a yeoman of Seaton Delaval. William and James, tanner sons from the first marriage, received one shilling each while Simon got one guinea – they were already provided for. His wife was given £400 while son Armstrong had £200, and the rest was spread around the daughters.
James and Jane had eleven children:
Simon Mewburn 1709-1784
Simon was named after his grandfather Simon Armstrong. No birth record found for him but he must have been born around 1709 since the deed of Curation of 1728, when his grandfather died, gave his age then as 19. The deed bonded his father James to bring him up properly so that he could benefit from his grandfather’s will. That will provided for him to succeed to Acomb which he must have done in 1730 on reaching 21. His life is described in detail later.
Dorothy Mewburn 1710-1785
Dorothy was baptised at Earsdon on the 16th July 1710. She is mentioned in her grandfather Simon Armstrong ’s will. She married John Garrett, a yeoman of Suddick, Monkwearmouth at St Mary, Durham on the 24th April 1736. Her brother Armstrong Mewburn, also then of Suddick, provided surety for the marriage bond.
There is no trace of them having had children and there is a burial record, at Sunderland, for John on the 18th January 1737. There is then a marriage bond for a widowed Dorothy Garret and a widower mariner Thomas Burn of Monkwearmouth on the 9th June 1738. Again there is no sign of them having had children. A burial at St Peter, Monkwearmouth on the 20th December 1785 of Dorothy Burn, widow, may be for her.
Ann Mewburn 1712-1771
Ann was baptised at Earsdon on the 20th January 1712. She too is mentioned in her grandfather Simon Armstrong ’s will. She married George Rawfield at Kirkwhelpington on the 13th February 1729 and, according to Dorothea, had three children, George, James and Margaret. A burial at Kirkwhelpington in 1771 may well be for her.
Armstrong Mewburn 1715-1779 has his life described more fully in a separate entry on this website devoted to the “Armstrong” Mewburns.
Jane Mewburn 1716-bef 1728 or aft 1737
Jane was baptised at Earsdon on the 17th June 1716. Oddly, she is not mentioned in her Grandfather’s will which could have meant she died before 1728. However, Dorothea has her marrying a Thomas Holburn and having a daughter Jane. In confirmation, a marriage bond exists dated 05 January 1736 in which Thomas Holburn, yeoman of Suddick, Monkwearmouth obtained a licence to marry Jane Mewburn, of Monkwearmouth. There is a baptism for a Thomas Holbourn in 1737 to a Thomas at Monkwearmouth, but no trace of a Jane’s birth
Elizabeth Mewburn 1717-1718
Elizabeth was baptised at Earsdon on the 22nd December 1717 and buried in April 1718.
Frances Mewburn 1719-1719
There is an element of confusion over Frances. FamilySearch has a transcript indicating that she was baptised at Earsdon on the 15th February 1720. However there is also a burial record at Earsdon for the 12th November 1719. Was there a retrospective baptism? There is little doubt, though that there was an infant death and two years later they baptised another girl Frances.
George Mewburn 1720-1720
George was baptised on the 20th September 1720 and buried on the 22nd at St Alban, Earsdon though is commemorated at the Chapel of Our Lady at Seaton Delaval Hall.
Frances Mewburn 1721-1753
The second Frances was baptised on the 17th September 1721 at Eardson. She married Alexander Starfoot on the 31st October 1743 at Chester-le-Street but there is no indication that they had children. A burial at Stockton-on-Tees on the 14th December 1753 may be for her.
Hannah Mewburn 1724-1800
Hannah was baptised at Earsdon on the 31st December 1734. She married John Taylor, a coal fitter (a kind of broker who matched coal supplies from inland mines to cargo vessels coming in to the Wear), at Monkwearmouth on the 2nd December 1744 and had seven children there by him.
Hannah was buried at St Peter’s Graveyard, Monkwearmouth on the 16th December 1800.
Elizabeth Mewburn 1728-poss 1763
The last of the children was Elizabeth, baptised at Earsdon on the 9th December 1728. Elizabeth married William Suthren, a butcher of Monkwearmouth , on the 31st March 1751 at Washington, County Durham. The only burial found that might be for her is at Tanfield in the Lanchester district on the 24th August 1755 for Elizabeth Southeron, of Causey, wife of William Southeron – a distinct shift from Monkwearmouth if indeed it is her.
Simon Mewburn succeeded to Acomb in 1728, though as a minor did not have full control of his inheritance until about 1730. A bond of curation was entered into by his father requiring him to look after him and bring him up properly until reaching his majority. The inheritance created the most senior strand of Mewburns, in the landed gentry sense. The house remained in the Mewburn family for another 280 years.
Acomb House, near Hexham, Northumberland
Acomb is in an area that became a centre for coal mining (plus lead and tin) and was eventually dominated by these industries. However there is no evidence that the Mewburns benefited from this or that their land provided any mineral wealth. All papers held by The National Archives in which these Mewburns appear are exclusively to do with land transactions. One son did engage in brick making and lead smelting, ruining his health in the process, but no new wealth came their way. It seems that they remained minor landed gentry for over two centuries living in the centre of a village described by The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle in December 1873 as:
“a chaotic mixture of a mining settlement, with prosperous lead and coal mines working nearby, and agricultural village with pens and stockyards spilling out on to the main street.”
The early records from St John Lee, the parish containing Acomb, are patchy so constructing a genealogy from them to pursue Simon’s line is difficult. Fortunately, a tree for the family is given in the Victoria County History for Northumberland. This tree does not conflict with extant records, thus offering some confidence in parts of the tree that have no supporting records.
On the 2nd November 1736 at Tillington in Sussex, Simon married seventeen-year old Mary Tulip. Mary was the daughter of Henry Tulip of Fallowfield in Northumberland (not far from Acomb so the reason for marrying in Sussex is unclear). Immediately the young couple set about re-modelling Acomb House and now the south door has a keystone with date 1737 and initials SM, for Simon and Mary.
It was over five years before their first child, James, was born, then another five until Simon, the second. After that, though, another ten births took place in the following 13 years though six died in infancy.
Simon, as a significant property owner, appears in the 1774 Poll Book for Tindale Ward, being resident at Acomb and with freehold at Allendale. There were no secrets then and it records that he voted for Sir William Middleton, independent.
Simon outlived his wife by five years dying on the 15th April 1784 and being buried at St John Lee, the local church that can be reached directly by a path from the house. He had made his will in 1780 leaving his whole estate to son Simon. Henry received just five guineas, presumably in recognition of the fact that he already had a successful medical practice in Newcastle. Tulip, the draper, was given £100 and James the priest received £800, perhaps because had did not have a good living to sustain him.
Descent through the first three Simon Mewburns
Simon’s heir, James, died unexpectedly at just 18. The event was recorded in the Newcastle Journal of 19th September 1761, and in the North Country Diaries of John Crawford. That left Simon’s second son, the second Simon, as heir to Acomb.
Two of Simon’s younger sons were then apprenticed in Newcastle. The records show:
1767 Henry to Richard Lambert, Newcastle, surgeon
1770 Tulip to John Reed, Newcastle, merc
The youngest, James, went to Cambridge and was later ordained.
This shows that the family was able to place children within the professions, and therefore at the upper end of the middling sort. Resources were insufficient, though, to provide any of them with separate estates of their own.
Simon also owned land at Portgate in Allendale and Poll Books show he had a vote there in consequence. Dorothea Mewburn-Watson comments about other land:
“In 1747 Wall Fell, by right of ancient lands, came to Simon Mewburn as his share at the division of Common lands; and again in 1779 we find the Commissioners appointed to act for the division of Acomb Common making their awards as follows: – “… Simon Mewburn the elder Esquire, 182 (acres); Simon Mewburn the younger 2 (acres)”
The two acres, of course, gave young Simon a vote – that’s democracy 18th century style.
James Mewburn 1743-1761
James was baptised on the 20th May 1743 and grew up as the heir to Acomb. Unexpectedly, though, he died aged just 18 at Newcastle on the 13th September 1761. The Newcastle Journal of 19 September 1761 reported it as:
“On Sunday morning, died in Pilgrim Street, Mr James Mewburn of Acomb, near Hexham, a promising young gentleman who is deservedly lamented by all his friends and acquaintances.”
He was buried on Thursday the 17th at St John Lee.
Simon Mewburn II 1748-1834
No birth or baptismal records are known for the second Simon, but Dorothea Mewburn-Watson gives his birth date as the 2nd September 1784.
He is said to have spent his time hunting and enjoying the social life of the local squirearchy and fulfilling his civic duty as a local Justice of the Peace. He is listed among the gentry of Hexham in the 1828 Pigot’s National Directory. He did not marry until a month short of his 50th birthday.
He married Elisabeth Davison, possibly from Newcastle, on the 11th August 1798 at St John Lee. They had two children, Simon, his heir, in 1799 and Isabel who lived for only 3 months in 1801. Childbirth took its toll, perhaps in puerperal fever, and Elisabeth died just two moths after Isabel. The marriage had lasted less then three years.
Simon lived on until 1834, mostly without even the companionship of his brother the Rev. James who died in 1807.
He and his son served simultaneously as Justices of the Peace for Northumberland in William IV’s time.
Dr Henry Mewburn 1750-1829 of Newcastle
Henry, according to the Victoria County History of Northumberland p. 142, was born on the 30th September 1750. He was apprenticed in 1767 as a surgeon to Richard Lambert of Newcastle for the substantial sum of £134 10/-. A year after his apprenticeship would have ended, Edinburgh University, in its index to matriculated students (those registered for the year), has an entry for a 'Harvey' Mewburn for the year 1775-6. In the absence of any other candidate from among the Mewburn lines this seems likely to have been Henry. However, the medical faculty matriculation book has not been signed. Instead, entry 269 for that year simply has the name 'Harvey Mewburn' pencilled in (evidently contemporaneously). So whether he simply failed to sign the book but still attended lectures or had expressed an intention to attend but never turned up is unclear. He certainly did not take a degree, but in those days only physicians did so.
Henry established his practice in Newcastle and appears there in town directories listed as a barber surgeon. Later he took on his own apprentices
Wm Potter in 1780 (I R1 vol 61, folio 94)
Isaac Hunter in 1789 (I R1 vol 65, folio 24)
Jonathan Featherston in 1795 (I R1 vol 67, folio 198)
He appears too in the Poll Books and voted for Sir John Trevelyan in the 1777 election. Trevelyan was MP for Newcastle between 1777 and 1780.
Henry married a second cousin, Dorothy Mewburn of Chesterton, and they had five children. In later life they moved to Over Dinsdale near Sockburn in Yorkshire, just south of the Tees. Dorothy died there in 1824 and Henry in 1829. Henry made his will in 1823. The estate at Over Dinsdale passed to his son Henry (who was also the executor) with a £30 annuity to daughter Mary Elizabeth Hodgetts who was living with him at the time the will was made. His second son Simon Thomas received £400. Interestingly, as a sign of Mewburn inter-relationship, Francis Mewburn the famous railway solicitor of Darlington was a witness to the will.
The five children were:
Henry Mewburn 1780-1834
Henry set out to break the country mold by heading for London, though he later settled back into it in Cornwall. He was baptised on the 15th December 1780 at St Nicholas Non-conformist church in Newcastle. It seems likely that he was then apprenticed as a surgeon in 1795 to William Jackson in Newcastle. Whether he completed this training and ever practised is uncertain. What does seem clear is that in 1811 he was subject to bankruptcy proceedings announced in the London Gazette, July 9-13, 1811, p. 1284. He was described as Henry Mewburn the Younger, late of Lloyds Coffee House in the City of London, Underwriter, Broker, Dealer and Chapman. Papers on the case at TNA (piece B 3/3242) give later entries in the Gazette showing that Henry wrapped up his affairs properly. They include items for two ships the 'Hero', a coastal coal transporter, and the 'Alexander' bound for the West Indies, both apparently underwritten by Henry in February 1811, so perhaps the reason for his failure.
This bankruptcy was a misfortune but Henry was clearly capable which may be why he later turned up as a land agent in Cornwall. He married Hannah Fox, a Quaker from Cornwall, at Stoke Damerel, Devon in 1814 but then they lived and had seven children at St Germans in Cornwall, where he was the agent for the Earl of St Germans (the Eliot family).
Despite inheriting Over Dinsdale in 1829 they continued to live in the south west though they moved to Gloucestershire. Henry’s will in 1834 at Down Ampney leaves all his moveable property to wife Hannah for her lifetime use, with it then passing to son George, or should they die then to Henry Simon, or if he dies to his three daughters.
Henry was a keen ornithologist and corresponded with the famous engraver, Thomas Bewick – sending him some specimens from Cornwall.
Simon Thomas Mewburn 1782-1846
Simon Thomas was baptised on the 13th December 1782 at Newcastle. He never married and devoted his life to the Militia. The London Gazette for 1810 has a Simon Mewburn promoted from Ensign in the North Yorks Militia to Captain – it can only be for this Simon (though in his will he describes himself as Lt).
The Electoral Register for 1834 shows him as living at Richmond, Yorkshire and also owning a tenanted property in Gilling, Yorkshire. By the census of 1841 he was living in lodgings on the Market Place and listed as ‘Army, half pay’.
There is a memorial at Croft churchyard with the inscription:
In Memory of Simon Thomas Mewburn Esq of Richmond who died April 29 1856 aged 66 years
In fact he died in 1846 and the date on the stone is that of probate for his will. In the probate record it states that he actually died on the 7th July. He left about £3,000 and created a trust to provide income to his sister Mary Elizabeth (Hodgetts) and her children.
Dorothy Mewburn 1784-1785
Dorothy was baptised at St John Lee on the 17th September 1784 and was buried there on the 25th May 1785.
John Mewburn 1787-1797
John’s was another fairly short life. He was baptised on the 30th September 1787 at St John Lee and buried there on the 17th January 1797.
Mary Elizabeth Mewburn 1790-1851/1861
Mary Elizabeth was baptised back at Newcastle on the 14th August 1792. She survived and was married to John Hodgetts at Sockburn on the 24th September 1818. Sockburn is the parish for Over Dinsdale so this suggests that her parents had moved there by that time.
Mary appears in the censuses for 1841 and 1851 as a widow at Dudley in Worcestershire. In 1841 she was working as a tailor (the £30 annuity from her father evidently requiring to be supplemented) and had her son John, a cooper, living with her on Stafford Street.
There is a baptism for John at Dudley in 1821 but he may have been born earlier as there is also a burial for a 31-year old John at Bromsgrove in 1819.
In the 1851 census Mary Elizabeth had moved to Vicar Street in Dudley and was now listed as an annuitant and mortgager. By this time she had inherited from Simon Thomas. There are several Mary Hodgetts deaths in Worcestershire in the 1850s and hers has yet to be pinpointed.
Carrying on with the first Simon's children we have:
Mary Mewburn c1751-1752
Mary was probably born around 1851 but her baptism has not been found. She was buried at St John Lee on the 8th October 1752.
Thomas Mewburn 1752-1752
Thomas was probably born early in 1752 though his baptism has not been found. He was buried on the 3rd February 1752 at St John Lee.
Thomas Mewburn 1753-1753
Thomas was probably born early in 1753 though his baptism has not been found. He was buried on the 3rd January 1753 at St John Lee.
Thomas Mewburn 1754-1754
This third Thomas was probably born in 1754 though his baptism has not been found. The Victoria County History gives a death date for him of the 15th August 1754.
Tulip Mewburn 1755-1834
Tulip was born in 1755 at Acomb and named in honour of his grandfather, Henry Tulip of Fallowfield. After apprenticeship in 1770 to John Reed, a mercer at Newcastle, he married Catharine Reed in 1778 at Newcastle, possibly a daughter of his master. Local directories show him operating as a draper in Newcastle in the 1780s. Remarkably, in the 1783 Medical Register, he was also listed as a surgeon in Newcastle at the Infirmary and the Lying-in-Charity. There is no trace of an apprenticeship to become a surgeon so how this transformation was achieved is unclear (and there are no traces of any alternative Tulip Mewburn). The likelihood is of an error in the Register and that it was his brother, Henry Mewburn, who had that role. The tale becomes stranger as, in 1795, Tulip was listed as a brandy merchant in Newcastle. This however was a career too far and in 1797 Tulip the spirit merchant was declared bankrupt. Proceedings rumbled on until 1805 when the final bankruptcy notice was issued.
There are no records of children born to Tulip and Catherine. Catherine, however, died in 1811 and around 1814, a Tulip Mewburn, claiming to be from Acomb, married Betty Armstrong of Canonbie, Dumfriesshire at Gretna Green. He was 57 and she about 21. Intriguingly, Dorothea Mewburn-Watson makes no mention of this second life of Tulip’s, or indeed of his bankruptcy, in her account of the Acomb family.
They lived in Cumberland, where he worked first as a labourer and then as a small farmer.
Tulip was buried on the 19th January 1834, aged 78, at St Mary Magdalene, Hayton, Cumberland Newspapers mention a small well-kept farm to rent in Feb 1834 at Fenton, 5 miles SE of Carlisle, previously occupied by Tulip.
Tulip and Elizabeth had nine children before his death in 1834 so the last twenty years of his life were certainly fruitful and may well have been filled with a contentment his farm brought where the brandy business had not. His eldest son James (1819) became a mason in Newcastle (but James’s son, James Tulip (1849), did not marry). The other son, Simon Henry (1826), emigrated to the USA with his wife Isabella but there is no evidence that they had children, so the Tulip line ended.
Descent from Tulip Mewburn
The story of the family after Tulip’s death has been tricky to unravel. Elizabeth could not or did not continue with the farm and with little to support her and her large brood of still mostly young children she moved to Newcastle. They appear in the 1841 census at Elswick. The census return is in a poor state and has been badly indexed but the best guess is that they are recorded as Mayburn – identification being based largely on children with the right names and ages in the right sequence.
Intriguingly Elizabeth was now living with someone apparently called Joseph Mayburn, though the 1841 census gives no explicit indication of relationship. In 1851 it became a little clearer when a Joseph Irwin was found with wife Elizabeth Irwin and several of the Mewburn children. No trace of any marriage to a Joseph Irwin or Mayburn has been found neither has Joseph’s death been found but in 1861 Elizabeth (still Irwin) was listed as a widow. By 1871 she was living at Byker, next door to daughter Bridget. The death of an 84-year old Elizabeth Armstrong, registered at Newcastle, in 1875 may be for her (showing the occasional Scottish widow’s habit of reverting to her maiden name).
The 1841 census casts confusion as well as light. It includes a 20-year old Martin. He must either be a son of Joseph’s or is a mistake for daughter Mary Ann. A son Francis is given too, though we expect a daughter. One issue with the family is that three children were baptised together in October 1831 – Bridget, Jane and Francis, so all three should have been aged 9 or over at the time of the census. If we extrapolate from ages given later by them, then Bridget’s most likely year of birth is 1829; Jane consistently goes for 1830; Frances most often indicates 1832 but if she was born late in the year, perhaps just before the baptism, then 1831 is indicated.
Thomas Mewburn 1756-1757
The fourth Thomas was baptised on the 10th June 1756. He survived a little longer than the others but was buried at St John Lee on the 15th August 1757.
William Mewburn 1757-1792
William was baptised at St John Lee on the 08th September 1757. Nothing else is known about him other than his burial on the 4th of July 1792 at St John Lee.
Mary Mewburn 1758-1759
Mary was baptised on the 28th December 1758 at St John Lee and buried there on the 15th December 1759.
Rev. James Mewburn 1762-1807
The fourth of Simon’s sons, James, was born on the 19th September 1762 and baptised at St John Lee on the 25th November. He went to Cambridge University, was ordained, and entered the priesthood.
James offers a graphic illustration of the importance of patronage to the upper ‘middling sort’ in this period. The National Archives hold a letter written by him from Acomb to Pitt the Younger pleading for preferment over a living in Pitt’s gift. In the letter he sought:
Assistance regarding the Living of Felton in the said County [Northumberland] and said Gift, worth about 150 a year … I make free to mention that the cause of my writing … is my coming to Cambridge to vote for you at the General Election in 1798, being then a member of Christ’s College.
There was nothing untoward about this. Patronage was the accepted way of gaining position and a multitude of posts were settled in this way.
In fact James spent most of his time living at Acomb with his brother Simon (at least until the latter’s late marriage) and acted also as Curate at St John Lee. He apparently kept a diary that was available to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, though its whereabouts now is a mystery. It is sorely missed. He was a hunting parson and according to Dorothea:
“His diaries contain accounts of the many runs he enjoyed; he was a lover of nature; possessed a sense of humour and enjoyed his game of cards.”
James died on the 18th March 1807 and was buried at St John Lee on the 21st.
Acomb eventually passed to the third Simon, son of the second
Simon Mewburn III 1799-1872
The third Simon was baptised at St John Lee on the 15th August 1799, having been born according to Cambridge University records, on the 13th June. The entry as given on Ancestry reads:
NAME: Simon. Mewburn
COLLEGE: ST JOHN'S
ENTERED: Michs. 1817
BORN: 13 Jun 1799
MORE INFORMATION: Adm. pens. at ST JOHN'S, Mar. 13, 1817. [S. of Simon, of Acomb, Northumberland (and Elizabeth, dau. of C. Davison). B. June 13, 1799.] School, Oakham. Matric. Michs. 1817; B.A. 1822. Of Acomb, Northumberland. Married, Oct. 20, 1830, Margaret, dau. of Henry Richmond, of Humshaugh House, Northumberland, and had issue. Died Oct. 5, 1872. (Burke, L.G.; Fox-Davies, Armorial Families.)
He lived the life of the landed proprietor and became a local Justice of the Peace. It is worth noting that local directories, describing the area in great detail and noting the presence of coal and other mineral wealth, say only of Simon that he is one of the three or four landowners who own West Acomb, and that it is a township of some 500-600 persons. The family was independently wealthy through the income from its land and property holdings, but there is no indication that their land ever had mineral holdings so it must have been a modest wealth.
On the 20th October 1830 at Simonburn, Northumberland, where she had been born, he married Margaret Richmond. Simon and Margaret had eight children at Acomb. Margaret died there in 1867. Simon was still there in 1871 but died on the 5th October 1872 at a house called 1 Hillside in Cricklewood where William Richmond Mewburn lived. At probate Simon’s effects were under £1,000.
Subsequent Acomb Mewburn descent is summarised below.
Mewburn of Acomb succession from Simon III
The third Simon had eight children:
Simon Henry Mewburn 1833-1852
Simon Henry was baptised on the 15th August 1799 at St John Lee. His birth date according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson was the 13th June.
He presumably was not cut out for the academic life since in the 1851 census Simon was learning the ways of trade as a 'warehouseman' (one of 13) at a lace warehouse on Watling Street, London. A year later, however, he was dead aged just 19, as recorded with his parents on a memorial at St John Lee.
William Richmond Mewburn 1834-1921
William Richmond was baptised at St John Lee on the 17th November 1834 having been born, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, on the 26th August. He inherited Acomb because his elder brother Simon Henry had died relatively young.
Like Simon, he was groomed for a business life and in the 1851 census was listed as visiting William Robson a clerk of his own age and son of William Robson a warehouse keeper at Wapping Pier Head. William Richmond was then a 16-year old clerk at the St Katherine docks in London. Ten years later he was lodging at Lewisham and was then a clerk in a joint stock bank. That was the Union Bank of Australia.
He rose to be Manager of the Bank, at its offices in London at 1 Bank Buildings, Lothbury from 1876, at which point he had been with the Bank for 23 years (i.e. since 1854 when he was 20 years old) and Secretary for ten years. He retired as General Manager in 1899 and became a Director in June 1904. His name appears often in Australian newspaper financial reports of the period.
The Dictionary of Australasian Biography even has an entry for him:
Mewburn, William Richmond, manager of the Union Bank of Australia, Limited, was born at Acomb, Northumberland, on August 26th, 1834. In Feb. 1854 he became a junior clerk in the Union Bank of Australia, Limited, in London. Mr. Mewburn was appointed assistant-secretary of the Bank in Jan. 1864, secretary in Jan. 1866, and manager in Sept. 1876. Mr. Mewburn returned from a visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1888.
Although he lived in London because of his banking commitments he still devoted considerable resources to restoring Acomb physically and redeeming mortgages with which it had been encumbered before he had inherited. Amongst all that he also found time to be a J.P. for Middlesex
As he moved up in the Bank and his circumstances improved the family moved to better houses. In 1878 they were living at 1 Hillside, Cricklewood, where the Electoral Roll shows he held a leasehold. By 1890 they were living at house they named St John Lee on Willesden Lane, again with a leasehold (a Miss Mewburn at, Holyrood, Willesden Lane).
Then in 1898 they were at 19 Holland Park, Kensington – a fine house in a desirable part of London today worth at least £25 million. He was still there in 1901 but had retired as a bank manager. He was listed in the 1902 Electoral Roll as ‘Mewburn, William R., J.P. 19 Holland Park, W.’ In 1911 he was at 6 Evelyn Mansions, in Westminster.
William ensured that his status was recognised and gained an entry in Walford’s County Families of 1920.
He also became armigerous and Fox-Davies gives his arms as:
Or, on a chevron azure, between in chief two demi-lions rampant couped gules, and in base a dexter arm fessewise embowed in armour couped at the shoulder the hand extended proper, three unicorns' heads also couped of the field. Mantling azure and or. Crest - On a wreath of the colours, in front of a demi-gryphon segreant sable, three crosses patee or. Motto - "Festina lente."
He is also commemorated at St John Lee by a plaque that reads:
In loved and honoured memory of William Richmond Mewburn of Acomb born at Acomb House 26 August 1834 died at Langley House Bucks 3 July 1921 and of Elizabeth Fanny his wife daughter of Joseph Savory of Wendover in the County of Buckingham born September 1845 died 2 June 1932
William’s son Simon died in WW1 so the estate passed to Dorothea. Her husband, Ivor Watson, changed his name to Mewburn-Watson to preserve the family identity but they remained childless and the line transferred to Edmund George then to his son Simon Edmund. Simon Edmund remained childless and the line ended with Margaret Richmond (1929), now in Canada, who sold the house in 2008. Acomb had been rented out since at least the end of Dorothea’s time.
W.R.Mewburn's children were:
William Claud Mewburn 1871-1871
William Claud was born on the 24th March 1871 and died six days later.
Dorothea Margaret Mewburn 1882-1969
Dorothea was born on the 23rd October 1882 at Hendon and baptised on the 16th of December. By 1911 she was living with her parents at the house in Holland Park. A year later she married the dashing army officer Ivor Watson, old Etonian of Langley House, Buckinghamshire and Wyke Hall, Dorset. In October 1913 Ivor returned to Bombay with his regiment, aboard the Egypt.
Dorothea certainly spent time at Acomb and used pictures and records held by the family to compile her history of the house and its people. A sketchy birth brief prepared by Dorothea is in the Society of Genealogists’ library. Langley, though was her principal home and her parents both lived, and died, there in the later parts of their lives. There was a strong commitment to Acomb nevertheless, so much so that Ivor changed his name to Mewburn-Watson so that the Mewburn name could be perpetuated. Unfortunately they had no children.
In 1921, on the death of her father, Dorothea inherited Acomb House. They must have made some use of it since after its sale in 2008 there were still photographs on the wall of Ivor in his schooldays.
Ivor and Dorothea retreated to Wyke House in later life. He died there in 1960 and she in 1969.
Simon William Richmond Mewburn 1884-1916
Simon was born at St John Lee, Brondesbury on the 9th September 1884 and baptised on the 4th October 1884 at Christ Church, Brondesbury.
He was educated at Eton, then Sandhurst, and was Gazetted 2nd Lieut. 14th Hussars in 1903. He appears in the 1911 census in the Miltary, India list and is given as absent on the census night.
Simon served in WW1 in France, Flanders and Mesopotamia in 1914, 1915 and 1916, taking part in the first battle of Ypres. He was awarded the 1914 Star. He was killed in action at Kut-El-Amara on the 21st May 1916. At the time of his death he lived at 6 Evelyn Mansions, Westminster. A marble monument to him, in the form of a fallen knight, has been placed in the church at St Johns Lee, Acomb. He was unmarried and had no children.
James Mewburn 1836-1905
James was born on the 13th May 1836, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, and was baptised on the 18th of June 1836 at St John Lee. In the 1851 census he was at Croft House school in Brampton, Cumberland along with his younger brothers George and John.
James went into industry and in 1861 was lodging at Tynemouth and describing himself as manager of a lead works. Ten years later he was back at Acomb now as a brick manufacturer employing six men and six boys. He has not been found in the 1881 census but in 1891 he had retired and was living in Axminster, Devon, boarding with George Barnes a physician and surgeon. He was still there in 1901 but now there was a second boarder, Arthur Williams, a medical assistant. It very much seems that Castle Hill House was acting as a personal care home for James. Working with lead and then brick dust could easily have ruined his health.
James never married and died at Axminster on the 13th July 1905.
George Francis Mewburn 1839-1893
George Francis was born on the 13th July 1838, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, and was baptised on the 9th August 1838 at St John Lee. In 1851 he was at Croft House school, Brampton with James and John.
George Francis became an India merchant who gathered considerable wealth in his own right. How this was achieved is hinted at in a paper by Michael Aldous on Anglo-Indian trade.
George joined a firm called Gillanders, Arbuthnot and Co. as an apprentice in 1857 and is said to have ben on £10 per annum. However by 1871 he had become a full partner (something that more commonly you had to buy your way into at a cost of £10,000 to £20,000). As Aldous then put it:
The future rewards of becoming a partner far outstripped the possible incentives available in the tea companies. A superintendent in the Assam Company could possibly expect a wage of £750 to £1000 per annum, with a possible small bonus from profits. The potential returns for the partners were far greater. Dependent on the amount of capital invested, and length of service, each partner was contracted to a proportion of profits or losses incurred by the firm annually.
George’s profit share in that first year as a partner was £3,400, worth, in terms of economic status, over £2m in today’s terms or over £4m relative to GDP.
He was living in India prior to becoming a partner and on the 26th May 1860 he married Julia Bell Deverine at Dinapore in Bengal. Julia had been born in Bengal. They had three girls at Ballygunge, two of whom died in infancy, then a son back at Acomb. A year after the birth of the fourth child, on the 28th March 1866, Julia was admitted to the asylum at West Malling. She was discharged on the 2nd October 1867 but that may have just been to transfer her to private care, since in subsequent censuses she was living with medical practitioners in the West country. As the 1871 census had it she was, “of unsound mind, not from birth”. In 1881 and 1891 she was listed simply as a lunatic. She died at Taunton in 1900.
At the time of the 1871 census George Francis, newly created partner and just 32, was staying at the Langham Hotel in London while his two surviving children were with his brother John. He was missing at the time of the 1881 census but in 1891 was living in Chelsea with his son at 11 Elm Park Gardens. At 52 he had retired. On Xmas eve two years later he died.
George Francis left over £20, 500 at probate, worth between £14m and £23m. A wealthy man.
George and Julia’s children were:
Margaret Cecilia Mewburn 1861-1862
Margaret Cecilia was born on the 16th July 1861 at Ballygunge and baptised at Calcutta on the 12th September. She died at just ten months at Ballygunge on the 14th April 1862.
Emily Mewburn 1862-1938
Emily was born on the 2nd September 1862 at Ballygunge and baptised at Calcutta on the 12th October. Back in England she lived with her uncle John Clayton Mewburn at Heston, Middlesex until in 1889 she married William Hay at Acomb. William was a Scottish advocate from Dundee (son of the town clerk) but who practised in Edinburgh where, in 1891 they were living at 20 Northumberland Street in the New Town. Tragically William died of enteric fever in January 1892 a month before their daughter Wilhelmina was born.
Emily lived on at Northumberland Street until her death in 1938.
Margaret Elizabeth Mewburn 1863
Margaret Elizabeth was born on the 24th November 1863 at Ballygunge and baptised on the 17th January 1864. There is no trace of her subsequently so it must be assumed that her’s was another infant death.
George Richmond Mewburn 1865-1941
George Richmond was born on the 14th February 1865 at Acomb and baptised at St John Lee on the 23rd March. His father’s success in India meant that he could be schooled at Eton then go on to Cambridge to study law. The University alumni records provide a handy summary of his life:
Name: George Richmond. Mewburn
Entered: Michs. 1883
More Information: Adm. pens. at TRINITY, June 21, 1883. [Only] s. of George Francis, of 34, Park Street, Grosvenor Square, London (and Julia, dau. of Charles Deverine). B. [Feb. 14], 1865, at Acomb, Northumberland. School, Eton. Matric. Michs. 1883; B.A. and LL.B. 1886; M.A. 1890. Adm. Solicitor, 1889. Practised in London (Morgan, Price & Mewburn, Old Broad Street). For many years Hon. Sec. of the Lawn Tennis Association. Married, 1891, Katherine, dau. of his Honour Judge Turner, and had issue. Died Jan. 5, 1941, at St Ives, Cornwall. (Law Lists; Burke, L.G.; Fox-Davies, Armorial Families; The Times, Jan. 8, 1941.)
George did work in the Morgan Price & Mewburn partnership at 33 Old Broad Street but the group eventually split and George began working on his own from the beginning of January 1909 (though they all continued to work from the same premises). He later became a partner in Pepper, Tangye & Co. at 6 Clement’s Inn, The Strand, but that in turn was dissolved in March 1913.
Interestingly, George Francis got involved in schemes to improve the Kensington area. British History Online includes an item:
Thackeray Street and Ansdell Street
Thackeray Street was laid out in 1900–1 in partial fulfilment both of a private scheme authorized by an Act of Parliament in 1896 and of a wider ambition to improve the southern egress from Kensington Square and the amenities of the neighbourhood that had been cherished by the local authorities since at least 1881. The undertakers named in the Act of 1896 were an East India merchant in Mincing Lane, C.W. Simson, and a solicitor in Broad Street, G.R. Mewburn. The more important figures in the development, however. Were Albert James Barker (1856–1909), a local surveyor, and his close associate and contemporary, R.J. Bowerman, a solicitor in Gray's Inn. Barker— the father of Harley Granville Barker—had since 1882 been accumulating property about here in which Bowerman also had extensive mortgage interests, and they were represented in the Act by Simson and Mewburn only as recently recruited financial backers.
His marriage to Annie Turner took place around September 1891 and was registered at Guisborough in North Yorkshire, though quite why it should have been there is unclear. Electoral Registers show him in 1892 and 1893 living in one third-floor room (furnished) at 10 Elm Park Gardens in Chelsea paying £13 per year rent to his father.
Their first two children had their births registered at Kensington in 1892 and 1894. The Electoral Registers then have George at 18 Campden Hill Gardens in Kensington in 1896 and 1897. By 1902 they had the third at Orme Lodge in Great Stanmore where George was listed in the Electoral Register as Mewburn, George Richmond, B.A., 33 Old Broad St, EC (his business address); & Orme Lodge, Stanmore.
Orme Lodge must have been a wonderful modern family home in William Richmond’s time but today is an old people’s care home, though lying within Stanmore’s Church Lane Conservation Area.
In the 1911 census George was staying with a Meadows family at Fauconberg Road, Chiswick while his wife, with Mary their youngest, was at 10 Kings Road, Berkhampstead where she listed herself as head of the family. In 1913 the Electoral Registers show George still resident at Fauconberg Road and with his business premises at 5&6 Clement’s Inn so the impression is that he was living apart from his wife. Later around 1924-1926 he was resident at Park Road, Chiswick then at Barrowgate Road, Chiswick in 1929.
Annie Katherine appears in the Surrey Electoral Registers at Reigate from at least 1932.
George is particularly noted for his efforts in the world of tennis. The Tennis Archives website records 94 matches that he played, including one tournament win. He played in the singles at Wimbledon in 1888, 1890, 1891 and 1898 though never managing better than the second round. He also played in the doubles up until 1911, reaching the finals in 1889.
George was a committee member of the Lawn Tennis Association from the time of its inauguration in 1888. He became the Hon, Secretary of the Association and was involved in arranging for tennis to be a sport at the 1908 London Olympics.
Latterly George’s life got into some difficulties. In 1926 he appeared in court as a defendant in a fraud trial where he had acted as the solicitor for a company that had failed, and its proprietor absconded to Canada. The case was lost and damages of £470 awarded. Then in 1929, while living at Barrowgate Road, Chiswick and carrying on his business at 36 Bloomsbury Square, he was summoned for bankruptcy hearings.
He died on the 5th January 1941 at St Ives, Cornwall where he had been living at 4 Sea View Terrace. At probate his effects were £1504.
George and Annie’s three children were the last of the Acomb line. Their story is told at the end of this chapter.
John Clayton Mewburn 1840-1901
John Clayton was born on the 7th August 1840, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, and was baptised on the 25th September 1840 at St John Lee. In the 1851 census he appears at Croft House school in Brampton, Cumberland along with his brothers – George, 12, and John, 10.
John became a lawyer and specialised in patent law in London – playing an important role in developing that specialisation. He founded a partnership with George Beloe Ellis in the 1890s under the name of Mewburn Ellis & Co. that continues to this day as Mewburn Ellis LLP, patent and trade mark attorneys, a major firm specialising in all aspects of intellectual property law. The firm of Mewburn Ellis LLP has its roots in the partnership of John Clayton Mewburn and He worked from 55 & 56 Chancery Lane from at least 1893 until 1900.
John was a signatory of the Royal Charter granted to the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys in 1891. He was President of the Institute from 1888 to 1890.
He married Matilda Ann Robson on the 23rd August 1866 at Islington. They had no children.
In 1871 they were at 14 Victoria Villas, Kilburn with Emily and George, the children of George Francis and Julia, and with Matilda’s mother. Electoral Rolls then show them living at Sunnyside, Spring Grove, Isleworth from at least 1874 until 1887.
Emily was still with them in 1881. In 1901 they were living at Spencer House, Ewell Road, Surbiton where, shortly after on the 25th April John died. Effects at probate were £16, 558. Matilda moved to Fairholm Crescent in Kingston-on-Thames where she died in 1913.
Henry Richmond Mewburn 1843-1912
Henry Richmond was born on the 26th October 1842, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, and was baptised at St John Lee on the 12th March 1843. We know little about his upbringing except that by 1861 he was a merchant’s clerk (and visiting the Crane family at Tranmere). There is no sign of him subsequently in censuses. Dorothea says that he did not marry. A memorial at St John Lee states that he died on the 25th May 1912 (though does not say where).
It is said that Henry and Octavius went into business and apparently emigrated, possibly to Brazil, but they, along with John, had no heirs.
Septimus Mewburn 1844-1844
Septimus was born on the 23rd March 1844, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, and was baptised at St John Lee on the 2nd May 1844 but died two days later and was buried on the 5th.
Octavius Robert Mewburn 1846-1905
Octavius was born on the 10th November 1846, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, and was baptised on the 12th January 1847 at St John Lee. He was a pupil at Rossall School in Fleetwood, Lancashire at the time of the 1861 census. In 1871 he was boarding with the Robson family who his brother William had been with twenty year earlier, and was listed as a merchant’s clerk.
Octavius’s business ventures were not great successes. The London Gazette has a notice on the 17th June 1873 for dissolving Burrows, Mewburn and Company Commission Agents in Walbrook, London but Octavius carried on with the business. On the 7th January 1876, Day and Mewburn of 1&2 Fenchurch Street and Birmingham Hardware Factors and General Commission Agents was dissolved. There is no trace of him a few years later in the 1881 census, so he presumably had emigrated. His death on the 12th January 1905 at Chascomus, Buenos Aires is known from a memorial at St John Lee.
END OF THE ACOMB LINE
One strand straggled on. That consisted of the children of George Richmond Mewburn and Annie Turner. The children were:
Edmond George Hamilton Mewburn 1892-1974
Edmund was born, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, on the 14th February 1865, and baptised at St John Lee on the 23rd March 1865. In 1901 he was with the family at Orme Lodge, with a governess for him and Margaret. He is not in the 1911 census and had become an India merchant.
In 1920 aged 27 he returned from Bombay, India, apparently intending to remain in England. However in 1925 he was back and was married to Dorothy Mortimer on the 28th May in Karachi. Their son Simon Edmund was born in India the following January.
In 1926 he returned again from Bombay (described as a merchant manager) with wife Dorothy and son Simon. He was staying at 8 Colbrooke Road, Bexhill, but indicated on the entry form his intent on settling elsewhere in the Empire. Whether that happened is uncertain but Dorothy, at least, was in Eton at the end of 1929 when their daughter Margaret was born.
Electoral Registers show Edmond living on the Earls Court Road from 1932-1958. He is recorded on the Court Pages of the Times attending the Sind dinner in 1938 and 1939.
His death was recorded at Richmond on Thames in March 1974.
Simon Edmund Mewburn 1926-1979
Simon Edmund was born on the 17th January 1926 in India. He never married and died at Gillingham in Dorset on the 30th June 1979. Acomb presumably came to him on the death of his father but by that time it was being rented out so he is unlikely to have lived in it.
Margaret Richmond Mewburn 1929
Margaret Richmond’s birth was registered at Eton in the last quarter of 1929. On the 15th April 1950 she married Timothy Pellew at St Mary’s Gillingham in Dorset and had their reception at Wyke Hall. They had five children and at some point emigrated to Canada.
As the last survivor of the Acomb line the house eventually came to her and it was in her name that it was sold in 2008, bringing the long association to an end.
Margaret Agnes Mewburn 1894-1913
Margaret Agnes’s birth was registered at Kensington in the first quarter of 1894. In 1901 she was with the family and governess at Orme Lodge. By 1911 she was living as a 17-year old pupil at a school in Bexhill called Austral House.
Dorothea Mewburn-Watson says she died in January 1913 somewhere in Germany, but no details are known.
Mary Monica Mewburn 1902-1994
Mary Monica was born, according to Dorothea Mewburn-Watson, on the 22nd November 1902, and the birth registered at Berkhamstead. She was with her mother at 10 Kings Road in Berkhamstead in 1911.
Mary Monica never married and died in Surrey aged 91 in 1994.
The Acomb strand remained minor gentry, just on the edge of being noticed. They did not appear in Burke’s Landed Gentry until 1906 in the name of William Richmond Mewburn. They were still there under Dorothea Mewburn-Watson in 1937 but had dropped out again by the time of the slimmed down 18th edition of 1965.