This is an ancient line with a first birth recorded in 1663. However, this line persists and has descendants still in Yorkshire.
The Marton tree
The Hearth Tax shows properties in the name of George Mewburn at Marton and Ormesby. Whether they are one and the same person cannot be determined but at Marton a George fathered six children – his wife is unknown, though a Barbara is a possibility. We know from a parish record at Marton that he died in 1699. A 25-year rule of thumb estimates George’s birth at around 1639 so there is a strong possibility that he is the 1638 son of a Christopher of Ormesby and Ellen Lazenbye and part of the “Cleveland race” deriving from John (c1580) and possibly going back via the earliest Richard to William at Ormesby in the early 16th century.
Only one of the children, Henry (1681), survived and had children. In the next two generations the pattern was repeated with just one son, George, surviving to perpetuate the line, though Ralph also married.
As always, it can be difficult to substantiate linkages between the generations in early records due to the lack of such records and paucity of information from them. In this case we have two valuable sources. A monumental inscription at St Cuthbert’s, Marton reads:
Erected to the memory of
who departed this life
15th June 1778 Aged 66 years
Also James Mewburn son of the above
who departed this life
29th day of May 1801 Aged 57 years
In affectionate memory of
Eldest daughter of
Robert and Mary Mewburn of Ingleby Hill
who died December 17 1882 Aged 75 Years
Her end was peace
That gives us evidence linking four generations down the main line of descent. It also allows us to link back to parish records at Marton, St Cuthberts. The MI indicates that George was born about 1712. That ties up with a Marton baptism in 1711 for George son of Henry Mewburn. In turn there is a record for Henry 1681 son of George so a reasonable set of links can be established. Nothing more is known about these earliest Mewburns, however.
The second item is a 1760 will for Ralph Mewburn who also appeared in the 1741 Poll Tax as:
Mewburn, Ralph – freehold at Ingleby; abode at Marton; condition F
The will describes Ralph as a butcher. He had no children so allocated his wealth to others in the family after providing for his wife Margaret Appleton. The will identifies a brother George, nieces Dorcas and Mary, and a half-sister Isabel. Dorcas is a usefully distinctive name and helps to confirm the family structure as shown. Isabel is intriguing as there are no records for her or for the implication that Henry had a second marriage.
Ralph’s will mentions a tenanted property at Howgill in Ingleby Arncliffe (some way south on the edge of the North Yorks moors) and a farm at Eastgate, Marton (presumably the place he was living in in 1741) that he held of Sir John Ramsden and bequeathed to his brother George, also a butcher and farmer.
George and his wife Hannah eventually ended up at Ingleby Barwick in the parish of Stainton, though their children were all baptised at Ormesby. George, in the 1750s and 60s was a tenant of Ralph Ward Jackson and had a farm of him at Eston (bordering on Ormesby). It is only speculation, but possibly the inheritance from Ralph enabled George to buy at Barwick.
George left all his property to his wife Hannah Wilkinson. Hannah drew up her will in 1784 and identified two parcels of land at Ingleby Barwick totalling 129 acres. Bequests of at least £1300 were made – equivalent to perhaps £2 million today so the family had become prosperous by that time. Most of the estate went to her grandson Robert.
George and Hannah had four children – Dorcas (1739), who married James Emerson and had two sons at Marton; Mary (1741) who married Thomas Dale and had a family of four at Guisborough; James (1743) who married Christina Harrison at Ormesby, and George (1759) who may have died young.
James seems to have been the least settled with children at Upleatham, then Eston and then Marske before ending his days at Marton. He had a farm of Ralph Ward Jackson at Normanby in the 1760s but seemed to be perpetually in dispute with him. James’s personality may explain why the Ingleby Barwick property passed over him to son Robert.
James also had two daughters – Elizabeth, who may have died in infancy, and Mary who remained unmarried. Robert, however, married Mary Harrison at Stainton (presumably Ingleby Barwick) and had nine children there by her. Robert seems to have been a considerable businessman since at the time of his death he had the estate of Rounton Grange as well as that at Ingleby Hill plus properties at Marton and at Fellbriggs in Upleatham and Marske, and at Norton. His goods and chattels alone amounted to £20,000 which, in itself, equates to around £20 million today.
Robert Mewburn (1766) of Ingleby Barwick tree
The eldest son, James was not especially favoured in Robert’s will of 1840 as Robert disapproved of a relationship James had with “Jane Hall, mantua maker of West Rounton”. All provision other than £50 per year was to be withdrawn if he married Jane! In the event, James married Helen Fairbrass over seven years later.
William Henry got rents from Rounton Grange. Ingleby went into trust with profits going to Robert George. Fellbriggs in Upleatham and other property at Marton also went into trust and rents from Fellbriggs went to John. A copyhold at Norton went into trust with rents going eventually to Dorcas Hannah. A sum of £5,000 went into trust to provide income for James; £2,500 in trust provided income to Elizabeth and to Mary Ann and yet another £2,000 provided for Dorcas Hannah.
Lets look at what we know of the children.
Elizabeth Mewburn 1809-1882
Elizabeth was born at Ingleby. She married James Stonehouse at Stainton in 1833 and by the census of 1841 was living at Marske with her four children. James was not in evidence. Elizabeth continued to describe herself as married in censuses up through 1871 though James was never with her. She did though admit to being an annuitant from 1851 (living then at Ingleby with Robert George) so it suggests she may have been widowed (there are possible deaths for James in 1844 at Sunderland and at York and another in 1848 at Northallerton). In 1881 she was living with her daughter Mary (Dobson) at Pickering. At probate she was said to have lived in York though latterly had been in Middlesborough.
[James is dealt with out of sequence at the end since the line descends through him]
Robert George Mewburn 1816-1860
Robert George did not marry. He lived at Ingleby with his mother after his father’s death, though she later moved to Rounton Grange. In 1851 he was farming 130 acres as a “landed proprietor” and at probate was designated a gentleman.
Mary Ann Mewburn 1816-1889
Mary Ann married William Simpson at Rounton in 1842 and went off to live with him at Nunthorpe and raise their three children. After William’s death in 1857 the family moved to Stockton then later to York.
John Mewburn 1818-1876
John lived at Rounton Grange after his father’s death until at least 1851, secure in his rents from Fellbriggs. He too never married and by 1861 he had moved to Fellbriggs in Upleatham where he farmed its 140 acres, dying there in 1876.
Dorcas Hannah Mewburn 1820-1888
Dorcas vanished after being mentioned in her father’s will. In the 1861 census there is mention of a Hannah Mewburn, aged 42, at the Friends Retreat Lunatic Asylum, Walmgate, York. She died at Acomb, Yorkshire in 1888 with Mary Ann as her executor.
William Henry Mewburn 1827-1865
William Henry was the youngest, just 13 at the time of his father’s death, but was decently provided for with the rents from Rounton Grange. He was at Jonathan Thomas’s boarding school in Northallerton in 1841 but was farming the Grange in 1851 (with brother John in attendance). For some reason, in the 1850s, he upped and went to Northumberland where he farmed at Blanchland. In 1858 he married Ann Bell at Hexham (though she was from Nunthorpe back in home territory). They had three children, Dorcas, Henry and Ralph at Blanchland before returning to the Grange around 1863-64 where John was born.
William Henry died at the Grange in 1865, aged just 38. Ann took over the running of the farm, handling 150 acres according to the 1871 census. Unfortunately the entire family is missing from the 1881 census.
By 1891 the family had given up farming. Ann and son Ralph were living at Burnage in Lancashire with Dorcas and her husband, electrical engineer, Joseph Chambers. Ralph by this time was also an electrical engineer, while Henry and John were telephone engineers. New technology had captured the whole family.
William Henry Mewburn (1827) tree
Of the children:
Dorcas Clementina Mewburn 1858-1928
She married Joseph Chambers in 1881 at Stockton. They lived mostly in Leeds, where Joseph became a manager in the National Telephone Company, and they raised three children though the eldest, Henry, died at 14.
Henry Mewburn 1860-bef 1901
He married Caroline Chambers at Leeds in 1883. They had three children up until 1891 and continued to live mostly in Yorkshire where Henry became a telephone inspector. Quite what happened next is a little unclear but Henry seems to have gone to Tasmania in 1894. He has not been found subsequently. Caroline and the children lived on at Ilkley where she ran a boarding house before her death in 1902. Her son William Henry became a seaman and was plying between Canada, New Zealand and New South Wales in 1920. He died, unmarried in 1950 at Winchester [or did he settle in Oz?].
Ralph Mewburn 1862-1923
Ralph emigrated to Australia in 1891. There are no details of his life there but he seems to have married Charlotte Neumann in 1921 at Sydney. He had no children and died at Coogee, NSW in 1923.
John Mewburn 1864-1938
John lived a little more conventionally, marrying Rose Chambers at Leeds in 1887, having two children and working as a telephone manager. They ended up at Ash Vale in Surrey where he died in 1938. His son, Guy (1895) was apprenticed as a journalist but then seems to have moved to Kenya with occasional visits back to Surrey. He is not known to have married and is believed to have died in Mombasa.
Overall, there is no known continuation of the Mewburn name in that line beyond William Henry’s children.
James Mewburn 1814-1883
A year after his father’s death James, escaping the temptation of Jane Hall and the fascination of her mantua making, was running a farm of 200 acres at Leake House near Northallerton. James married Helen Fairbrass of Whitstable at Canterbury in 1848. They had eight children, the first five being born at Leake House and registered at Northallerton and the remaining three, from 1861 (after the death of Robert George), being born at Ingleby Hill (and registered at Stockton) where he had initially 130 acres. By the 1871 census this holding had risen to 250 acres but then by 1881 it dropped back to 120, perhaps because by this time son Robert was farming 120 acres at White House.
This apparent success was not what it seemed. Jim Mewburn of Brandesburton offered this comment:
My own grandfather, James, son of James, farmed with his father and brother, Robert, at Ingleby, High Leven nr Yarm, Nth Yorks. The two brothers worked for very little money but their father said 'never mind lads - when I die it will all be yours'. When he died he was bankrupt!
His wife Helen lived on, bizarrely in 1891 staying in Eaglescliffe with daughter Edith at the ‘Railway Refreshment Rooms’. She was still with Edith, in 1901 but Edith was by then married to John Holt, a chemist and wine & spirit merchant, with a place on the High Street at Yarm.
All eight of James and Helen’s children married and six had children but only James had a son to carry on the Mewburn name.
James Mewburn (1814) of Ingleby Barwick tree
Mary Mewburn 1849-?
Mary was born at Leake House. At 11 we see a sign of wider family closeness with her at Canterbury staying with her grandmother, Jane Fairbrass. In 1871 she married veterinary surgeon William Henry Holmes and produced two children at Beverley before moving to Scarborough where William died in 1888. Mary’s death has not been traced.
Jane Mewburn 1860-1940
Jane married farmer Robert Turnbull at Stockton in 1874 and had four children at Meaux where they had a sizeable, 310-acres farm. Around 1883-84 they moved to Leven where their youngest was born and where Robert died in 1887. By that time Robert had become an inn-keeper and brewer at the New Inn on South Street. After his death Jane carried on the business (even adding more to the portfolio as a coal merchant).
According to Jim Mewburn:
The brewery supplied the inn plus two other nearby pubs as well as supplying barrels of ale to local farms for consumption by the farm men who lived on the farms.
Jane lived out her life there, with her son Robert eventually taking over business responsibilities.
Sarah Ann Mewburn 1852-1912
Sarah Ann married Joseph Ramsey, another brewer, and lived with him at Yarm. They had no children.
Robert Mewburn 1855-1934
Robert farmed Ingleby Barwick with his father, living latterly at the White House with his wife Margaret Mothersdale. They had only one daughter who died in infancy. After his father’s death and the financial crash Robert did what he could. In 1891 he was working as a shepherd at Tunstall House, Wolsingham and by 1901 was the farm bailiff there. Then by 1911 he was farm manager at Mare’s Close Farm at Seghill in Northumberland, and there he remained.
Eliza Mewburn 1857-1941
Eliza married Alfred Cannon, a paper maker, and lived with him producing six children at Sandford in Oxfordshire. Between 1901 and 1905 when Alfred died they had moved to Thatcham in Berkshire (Alfred being listed at probate as ‘gentleman’). And by 1911 Eliza was living in the 10-roomed Wood Hatch at Egham in leafy Surrey where she remained until her death.
Helen Mewburn 1861-1926
Helen married John Law Smith who worked his way up to become manager of an iron foundry at Billingham, working for The British Chilled Roll Engineering Company. They had four children at Seaton Carew and Eaglescliffe, later settling at Holmesdale in Billingham.
Edith Mewburn 1865-1944
Edith, as we’ve seen, married John Holt who was a chemist and wine and spirit merchant at Yarm. They had no children (John had a son from an earlier marriage).
James Mewburn 1863-1935
James found his world turned upside down at the age of twenty after his father’s death and bankruptcy in 1883. As his grandson, Jim Mewburn, put it:
He took a job carrying corn from the keyside into boats at Teeside from 6am to 6pm 6 days a week. This provided enough cash to live on and he earned any spending money gambling at cards.
Grandfather turned tired of his job and answered an advert for men to work in a flour mill in Rio which he did for two years until he became homesick and came back to Yorkshire.
He went to Leven where his sister Jane had the inn and in 1899 married Eliza Jane Hodgson.
Jim’s account then goes on:
Grandmother's Father had the tenancy of Sandsfield Farm and when Grandfather married Grandmother in 1899 he surrendered the tenancy in favour of Grandfather. The estate was owned by Emmanuel Hospital estates in London which was sold around 1920 and Grandfather had been frugal or lucky enough to purchase the farm.
The line continues there to this day.
By way of a postscript, the London Gazette, in 1874 carried details of a Petition to Parliament by the surviving children of the successful Robert Mewburn seeking to be allowed to sell some of the land and properties put in trust by him.
They were selling to Henry Bolckow who was of course that great entrepreneur in the north-east who had developed a vast empire of iron production – Bolckow & Vaughan. He had been the first mayor of Middlesborough, he was the local MP, and he lived at Marton Hall.
It would be interesting to discover exactly where the Mewburn land was. Bolckow had already created the Albert Park for Middlesborough so was he just increasing his holdings around the Hall?