Fish in a Tree

Appendix Four

Appendix Four

Unresolved mysteries - and new discoveries (2007)

Unresolved mysteries

There were some loose ends as follows:

1) I never discovered what became of Denis Herring Gaunt, other than that he emigrated to Vancouver, and possibly married. I do know that he was probably registered as deaf. Nor do I know what happened to his brother Ernest Gaunt, and Ernest's wife Veronica (surname unknown). All three are mentioned in their mother's will, and Ernest has the cryptic word ‘Africa' written against his name in May Pottinger's notes.

(In 2016, I was contacted out of the blue by Denis Herring Gaunt's grandson in Canada - he married his mother's nurse after his mother's death in 1960. His surviving children all live in Canada. Ernest Gaunt and his wife Veronica had no children, but the DHG family has lost touch with what happened. They did indeed live in Africa.)

2) I never discovered – or rather, Rosalie Raine never discovered, since she did all the research - what finally became of Elizabeth Hindley's daughter and Alice Hindley's children in Australia. The Hindley family is the only one with which I have had no first-hand contact.

3) As noted in Appendix 3, I never succeeded in tracing Evelyn Greenwell's half-sister, Ethel Johnstone.

(Ethel Johnstone married Robert Blakey in 1907; at the end of 1914, they had a son - Robert Greenwell Blakey - who later maried and had two daughters. They also had a daughter who had two sons. Ethel died in 1923.)

4) I never discovered what became of the daughter, Doreen Raine, whom May Raine gave up for adoption in 1933.

5) I never discovered what became of Isobel (Collin) Braithwaite's three children, and their children.

6) I suspect that I have a photograph of Mary Jane (Greenwell) Hindley, but this remains conjecture.


New discoveries (I have left this in as a caution to any genalogical optimists)

At the time of writing (August 2007), I suspect I have finally worked out where George Greenwell, the one who married Mary Wilson in 1811, really did come from. Unsurprisingly, it was right under my nose, and the clue was in what I'd written as well as in what William Hart had written.

George Greenwell appears, as a fully-fledged and committed Baptist, in 1809, at Sans Street's Sunderland chapel, and he is described as a follower of the comparatively new 'Haldane' beliefs - particularly in adult baptism. My grandfather had been told that the original George had come from Wolsingham. But what if he had come from the next parish to the south - that is, from Hamsterley? Hamsterley was the main base for Baptist beliefs in Durham, and the only secure Baptist community in Durham in the eighteenth century (and earlier). Sunderland's Sans Street Chapel had been preached to by Hamsterley's minister on its first day - a man who had already been instrumental in sustaining Sunderland's Baptist community even before Sans Street opened in 1798.

And in Hamsterley, albeit not in the Baptist community, but in the congregation of St. James, the C. of E. parish church, there were Greenwells in the eighteenth century. One of them was a George Greenwell, baptised on 5 April 1772, and he had five siblings: John Greenwell, baptised in 1773, James Greenwell (baptised 6 November 1774), Benson Greenwell (baptised 10 April 1777), Margaret Greenwell (19 November 1780)  - and Jane Greenwell (baptised 23 January 1785). Jane was baptised in Cockfield, which lies to the south of Hamsterley. These five were the children of another George Greenwell and Elizabeth Benson, who married in Startforth on 16 December 1766. They are shown in the Hamsterley registers as living at High Bank, South-Side. High Bank farm still exists, and is just north of the hamlet of South Side - between South Side and Hamsterley, in fact.

George Greenwell the elder was the son of yet another George Greenwell, and his wife Elizabeth Rain. He (i.e. George son of George Greenwell and Elizabeth Rain) was baptised on 22 May 1744, and he seems to have had two siblings - John Greenwell (baptised 14 May 1749) and Jane Greenwell (baptised 14 July 1754). George Greenwell married Elizabeth Rain on 3 February 1740 in Hamsterley. He is shown in 1758 and in 1759 as one of the churchwardens of St. James (these are the only years in which the churchwardens sign the register). He is still alive in 1780, because his son is referred to as 'George Greenwell the younger' at the time of Margaret Greenwell's birth. At that time, he would have been 64, since he was baptised on 8 May 1716, the son of Thomas Greenwell and Jane Gibbon, who married in Hamsterley on 16 May 1715.

Incidentally, the appearance of the name Margaret suddenly helps: Robert Greenwell's children are all named for someone until one reaches Margaret (later Kitts). It would appear that it was a family name after all.

And so suddenly we have not just George, father of Robert and George, but a line which runs

Thomas > George > George > George> George and Robert

It seems very likely that the George born in 1772 is the right one. Only one other George is recorded at that time as having a sister called Jane (and that is a false lead - see Chapter 15). He is from a family steeped in the church, and would therefore have been (as we know he was) highly literate. He comes from a village in which Baptist ideas would have been accessible. There is no surprise that he should have shifted his allegiance (after all, Alexander and Mary Wilson had been Methodists before they were Baptists). And if he was 'of Hetton-le-Hole', as Mary's death certificate says he was, it suggests again that this is where he moved when William Greatrex founded a splinter Baptist community in Hetton in the 1820s.

As yet I have not been able to prove this, and I will only prove it if I can find another way forward. One route might be through George's brother, Benson, about whom various things are known - that he married Elizabeth Pears (from near Yarm) that he was a farmer, who, between 1808 and 1815 had a lease on the farm at Hagar Leazes (spelt a number of different ways, including Hagger Leas). We also know that he had a son called George, who died in 1808 (at South-Side), probably at the age of 13. We also know that, in 1814, he was father to twins called Jane and Margaret on Feb 25 of that year. He must have had a son, too, who survived him, since there is a Benson Greenwell listed much later in the nineteenth century. Benson Greenwell himself died in 1840 at Cockfield.

(Subsequently I have traced many of the descendants of Benson Greenwell and his siblings, and these are in the new .ged file in the final appendix. If you are a member of 'Genes Reunited', the material is there as well.)

In the meantime, I have been shown the deeds of my great-great-grandfather's property in Cleadon. After marrying Jennie Johnstone, he lived somewhere unknown in Cleadon until late 1907, when he built 'Hillside Cottage' on the large strip of land he owned on what is now known as Laburnum Grove. The plot of land had been part, originally, of the estate of Cleadon House, from which it was sold in 1895. Hillside Cottage was numbered 5 West Park Road, and its named later changed (a source of confusion, since there is a house called 'Hillside' on West Park Road proper). Thanks to the owners, Alan and Sheila Smith, I've now been to the house. My great-great-grandfather would appear to have lived there from 1907 until 1910 and perhaps longer. He sold the house two years after Jennie's death in 1910. He signs himself Thomas - the name, it now seems, of his great-great-great-grandfather, of Hamsterley, just as it is the name of his great-great-great-grandson (my son). The line runs

Thomas > George > George > George > Robert > Thomas (George) > (Thomas) William > (Thomas) George > (Thomas) Anthony > (Thomas William) or Bill > Thomas (Patrick).

Eleven generations, and we haven't come up with a new name yet.

(This turned out to be completely if optimistically untrue! When in 2015 it became possible to search old papers, I stumbled very quickly on this from the Durham Advertiser of Sept 23 1828:


At Hetton-le-Hole on the 15th inst, aged 37, George Greenwell, shoemaker, much respected.

This is certainly him. He is much younger than I expected, born by implication in 1789 - ten years or so after Mary, his wife. He was only 22 when they married. There are no records in any of the usual places of anyone called George Greenwell being born in 1789 or a couple of years either side. One reason might be that he was from Monkwearmouth, which notoriously lost all its birth registers in a fire in the 1790s. I suspect that finding him is a lost cause. I have probably found his sister Jane. She seems to have married a mariner called John Hall Johnson in 1823. He died in 1830, and it looks like she died about the same time: not provable.)




Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Appendix One
Appendix Two - 1
Appendix Two - 2
Appendix Two - 3
Appendix Two - 4
Appendix Two - 5
Appendix Two - 6
Appendix Three
Appendix Four
Appendix Five
Appendix Six