THE STOKESLEY STOCKBROKER LINE
These Mewburns are the most recent strand to have come to public attention. An unpublished history of them by Charles Wood, a descendant of this line, is in the library of the Society of Genealogists.
Wood’s account draws on research carried out by a cousin, Desmond Williams, but he has gone much further than the brief history published by Williams. Information on recent family members is clearly based on direct family records and recollection, and the account is enlivened by valuable photographs of key characters and places – several of which he has provided for use here.
This family is significant through William Mewburn, born in 1817 into a shoemaker’s family in Stokesley, Yorkshire, who amassed a sizeable fortune as a stockbroker in Manchester.
Stokesley, on the river Leven, was a centre for linen weaving and also for Methodism with a chapel built first in 1765 in which John Wesley preached in 1776.
Stokesley on the Leven, North Yorkshire
Historically, the earliest record for a Mewburn baptism in Stokesley is of a Mary, daughter to a John, in 1693 – though an Ann Mewburn had been married in 1672 and also a James Mewburn (to Ann Appleby) in 1677 so we know that more than one family was in the area in the 17th century. Then, of course, just a short way north at Ormesby and along the Cleveland stretch of Teesside there was a considerable concentration of Mewburns.
Nicholas Mewburn c1669-1703
The first sizeable family on record in Stokesley, in the period 1730-1750, is made up of the eight children of Nicholas Mewburn, a weaver, married there to Ann Hopkin in 1729. That Nicholas may be the son baptised on the 5th June 1704 at Stokesley to an earlier Nicholas (Nickill Muburn) likely to be the one married to Mary Morley on the 6th May 1703 (the timing is good and Nicholas is not a name used often among the Mewburns). If this is correct then that earlier Nicholas may well be the yeoman of Great Broughton (just a mile and a half from Stokesley itself) who had been buried on the 18th November 1703 and who left a will in 1703 that went to probate in 1703/4. The will identifies his wife, Mary, as principal heir and executor but makes no mention of a son because he was to be born six months after the elder Nicholas’s death.
An exciting feature of the will is that the others named in it as siblings to the dying Nicholas match those of a family born at Ormesby between 1661-1673 to a George Mewburn – who may be the one who married Isabell Lion in 1660. They may, therefore, be in a line going back to a John Mewborn from around 1580 – one of the first of the Cleveland Mewburns to show up in the records. That possible line could be as follows (red dates indicate wills):
A possible early line from Ormesby to Stokesley
In this tree it is proposed that Nicholas Mewburn of Great Broughton is the Nicholas baptised at Ormesby on the 27th February 1669 (1670).
There is a degree of uncertainty in looking further back as we cannot be absolutely sure that Isabel Lion married the George from 1642. There was a George born in 1638, though he seems much more likely to have been of the Marton line and there was also a George born in 1637. He however is believed to have been a sibling to George of 1642 so presumably died young though no death or burial has been discovered. Given those uncertainties the tree as shown is the most likely.
The greatest remaining uncertainty is then over whether that Nicholas’s son Nicholas and his wife Anne Hopkin had a son named James who provides a line from the 18th century to William Mewburn the stockbroker in the 19th.
The Stokesley shoemakers line
There is a clear understanding within the family of a descent through two generations of shoemakers starting with the James Mewburn who married Eliza Watson at Stokesley on the 28th March 1762. James’s origin, however, is quite uncertain. The only reasonable candidate from the records locally, within an appropriate time frame, is a baptism on the 5th April 1742. That birth was irregular, with an Ann Mewburn as the only parent. It also took place at Hutton Rudby, two miles from Stokesley. Is it possible that this Ann Mewburn was actually the wife of Nicholas (but why would he not be named?)? The date of the birth certainly fits in with the sequence of Nicholas and Anne’s other children, but it remains a highly speculative attribution. The absence of any other Ann Mewburn from the Stokesley records around that time is the only other ‘supporting’ evidence.
The other uncertainty is whether James 1742 was the father of James born in 1773 (though this does seem altogether more likely).
Working upwards, William (1817) was the illegitimate son of Mary Mewburn (1794-1871) daughter of a James Mewburn and Tamar Forster. James and Tamar were married at Stokesley on the 3rd November 1789 and had only two children – James at Stokesley in 1792, who became the third in the generations of shoemakers, and Mary at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1794 (a non-conformist baptism so it seems that those beliefs were established at least two generations before the Wesleyan stockbroker). Their father, James, is believed to have died around 1811 because Tamar married again at Stokesley on the 28th June 1812 to William Wilson. Tamar was widowed again (possibly in 1832) but lived on to appear in the censuses of 1841 and 1851, living with daughter Mary. The 1851 census gives her birthplace as Yarm and indicates a birth year of 1773 – so she would have been 16 when marrying James. There is a baptism for a James, son of a James, in 1773 at Stokesley so if that was him, and there is no other good candidate, he too would have been 16 when he married. That birth fits in well with the sequence of Stokesley births that follow the marriage of James Mewburn to Eliza Watson in 1762. However there is still a small element of speculation since the mother’s name is not given on any of the baptismal records.
Tamar was buried at Stokesley on the 4th November 1853 aged 81 (in line with her age from the census) and Mary was buried there on the 29th December 1871 aged 77.
The full story of William Mewburn the stockbroker, son of James and Tamar, is on another page. Click here.
THE THIRD SHOEMAKER
These were not the only people in this family line. Mary, the mother of William the stockbroker, had an older brother James who followed his father into shoemaking.
James Mewburn 1792-1874
James was baptised at Stokesley on the 9th June 1792 and on the 31st January 1814 he was married at Stokesley to Mary Harwood.
They remained in Stokesley. Mary died early in 1835 but James, who never remarried, lived on into his eighties so appears in four censuses from 1841. He was practicing his craft and living alone at South Side, Stokesley in 1841. In 1851, as a journeyman, he was lodging on South Street, Middlesborough with a young shoemaker and his family and in 1861 was with another such on New Street, Thornaby. Presumably he was going around and taking work where he could find it. In 1871, then 78, old age or sickness had taken its toll and he was in the Stokesley workhouse, a typical end-point for those no longer able to look after themselves. He died there early in 1874.
James and Mary are known to have had six children, two sons and four daughters. These were:
Elizabeth Mewburn 1814-1901
Elizabeth was baptised at Stokesley on the 4th December 1814. She was living with her sister Maria at South Side, Stokesley in 1841, apparently separately from their father, and working as dressmakers. In the spring of 1846 she married grocer William Best, originally from Northumberland but settled into Stokesley. They lived on Front Street, then later on High Street, where they had four children. William died in 1882 and by 1891 Elizabeth had moved in with daughter Jane Ann (Scott) and her family, where she was still in the 1901 census before her death later that year.
James Mewburn 1816-1888
James was baptised at Stokesley on the 30th December 1816. He became a printer/compositor, and presumably a fine one, since for over 30 years he lodged with Henry Beadnell and his family in London. Beadnell was a printer or printer’s reader and the author, in 1859, of the highly influential A Guide to Typography, a standard work for many years.
James never married and by 1881, after Beadnell’s death, he had moved in with another printer. The printing trade then seems to have been supportive and in his later years, as the Electoral Register for 1888 shows, James was at 5 Printer’s Almshouses on the Bound’s Green Road. In September of that year he died.
Richard Mewburn 1819-?
Richard was baptised at Stokesley on the 6th June 1819. By 1841 he had moved to Kingston-upon-Hull where he was living communally at 26 Silver Street as a draper’s assistant with seven others and five apprentices. It was then quite usual for the staff to live above the premises, in this case a seemingly large, thriving enterprise. He was still there in 1851, aged 30 and unmarried. After that he vanishes from the records. Neither his death nor burial has been found and there is no clear sign of him having emigrated (though the gold rushes in 1848 in California and 1851 in Australia were a powerful incentive to many around that time).
In the absence of any other information the line is assumed to have ended at this point.
Maria Mewburn 1821-1893
Maria was baptised at Stokesley on the 5th May 1821. She was working as a dressmaker with her sister Elizabeth by the 1841 census and then married Thomas Lane, a letter-press printer, early in 1848.
They had moved to Stockton on Tees by 1861 with the six surviving of their seven children, and by 1871 were in Darlington where they remained.
Maria died in Darlington in 1893 and Thomas in 1896.
Jane Mewburn 1821-1835
Jane may have been a twin to Maria and was baptised on the same day at Stokesley on the 5th May 1821. She, however, died at thirteen and was buried on the 25th April 1835 at Stokesley.
Mary Ann Mewburn 1825-1825
Mary Ann was baptised on the 12th January 1825 but lived for just six months and was buried on the 20th July 1825.