Fish in a Tree


A Fish In A Tree


There are many relatives and acquaintances I would like to thank for helping me compile A Fish In A Tree , but the most important of them all by far is Rosalie Raine. Without Rosalie's enthusiasm and readiness to share and check information, very little of this would have been written. Over more than a decade, we've corresponded, and it has been great to work with her.

Several people have contributed material which I've used, and I've acknowledged individual contributions in different chapters, and also at the end of this section. However, I have been really grateful in particular for the support of Kate Carruthers, Heather Johnson and Ruth Bowden, and for the particular patience of my mother, Muriel Greenwell, and my wife, Eithne Greenwell, who have each womanfully put up with my repetitive recitations of some of the passages.


Kathryn Hughes, "Ancestor Worship", Prospect, May 2002

Kellow Chesney, The Victorian Underworld (Penguin, 1972)

Chapter One: Practically Certain

The description of the Brighton bomb explosion is based on conversations with my aunt, and on the accounts given in The Sunday Times, The Observer , The Newcastle Journal , and The Daily Telegraph over that weekend. I am also grateful to correspondence here with my mother, and with Rosemary Bowmer, and to accounts of Sunderland Shipowners meetings in the Sunderland Echo between 1875 and 1900. Some details are based on conversations with my grandfather in the 1960s, towards the end of his life, although most detail here comes from his surviving correspondence with Freda Podmore and Sylvia England, and with the GRO and others. The account of the by-election draws heavily on the accounts given in the Northern Daily Mail between 1942 and 1946 (which means I must thank the staff at Hartlepool library).

Chapter Two: You'll Be Wanting A New One

I am grateful to Hilda Thompson, to Dodie Reed, and to the staff of the harbourmaster's office in Sunderland. Much of the material here came from electoral records held at Sunderland City Library. I am also grateful to the late Marjorie Cairns and her daughter Alyson Kelly (now Hutchinson), to the late May Robinson (nee Raine), and her daughter and son-in-law Jill and Graham Harcombe, to Aline Robertson, and to Pat Reay. Much of the central part of this chapter is based on letters Laura Greenwell sent to my grandfather (and his father) over the period 1936-1948. It also uses Robert Surtees' four-volume History Of Durham. I was lent material about the Kitts family by Hilda Kitts, the daughter-in-law of Maud Kitts' cousin, and I also corresponded with another Kitts relative, Mrs. Poppy Lowe. Some of the information came from my meeting with the late Mollie Greenwell, whose executors I have to thank for giving me her photograph collection. I am also grateful to Leila Jeffrey and Pamela Corfield, Evelyn Greenwell's nieces (by his marriage to Gladys Harrison).

Chapter Three: The Owl And The Lighthouse

This chapter uses some surviving letters from my great-grandfather, for some of which I must thank my late aunt Pamela Hunter. The description of my great-grandfather is based on an unpublished memoir written for me by my father's cousin, Rosemary Bowmer.

Chapter Four: I am unaware what the precise procedure is

This is based on more of my grandfather's correspondence. I am grateful to Georganne Ishii, whose own forebears include the Greenwell family to which, unhappily for my grandfather, we are not directly related. This chapter is based on conversations and correspondence with Peter (Alec Innes) Pottinger and his wife Marjorie, Rosalie Raine, the late May Robinson, Jill Harcombe. The account of Arthur Greenwell's suicide is in The East Essex Gazette (13 July 1940). Some details come from notes Marjorie Pottinger transcribed from her mother-in-law, May (Greenwell) Pottinger. The descriptions of Ethel and Albert Raine are based on conversations with Rosalie Raine, Marjorie Cairns, May Robinson, on a letters in the possession of Robert and Rosalie Raine from Robert's father Wilfrid Raine, and on a letter from William Greenwell (the silversmith) belonging to Jill Harcombe. More details were provided by the late Kathleen (Stephenson) Turnbull and her husband Jim, and by the late Dorothy Holness. I am also indebted to Pat (Reid) Laidler in this chapter. The information about Ben Kellett comes from his daughter Helen Kellett, and from Pat Phoenix's autobiography, All My Burning Bridges . I am also indebted to Helen for the loan of photographs belonging to her grandmother, Mabel (Greenwell) Kellett; and to the late Tony Greenwell, his wife Beryl, and his daughters Judy and Jane (as well as to the "other" Judy Greenwell). The account of Geoffrey Greenwell's early life is from an unpublished memoir he wrote, and which was loaned to me by his family.

Chapter Six: A genial and much-loved companion

The story of Robert Hallewell owes a great deal to Rosalie Raine's research. Neither Rosalie nor I have ever been able to prove the South American part of the story. The last sighting of him is in Sydney in 1875. The story has been various related to me by the late Billy Reid, Bob Hallewell, Gordon Hallewell and Kitty Johnson; and by Robert Raine, May Robinson and Jill Harcombe, amongst others. The information in this chapter comes from Billy Reid and Kitty Johnson and Gordon Hallewell where it refers to William Hallewell; and from Bob Hallewell and Kitty Johnson where it refers to Bert Hallewell. I also learned a great deal from the late John (Malcolm) Settle's widow, Pat; and from his father's sister, the late Rhoda Settle. The information about the Knights and Maud Kitts I owe initially to Peter Pottinger; and then to Robert Greenwell Knight II, his sister Beth Cochron, and to Ron Cole. There are details in this chapter which rely on May Pottinger's notes, on Rosemary Bowmer's recollection of her mother's conversations, on Helen Kellett's photographs, and those of Mollie Greenwell. In addition, there are details from the Sunderland Daily Echo in 1874-5, the records of master mariners in London's Guildhall Library, and the Falmouth Packet from June 1922. Some information is gleaned from Steve Jones, In The Blood .

Chapter Seven: Marriage is a serious matter and must I think be an ordeal, at least for the man

This chapter is based on an unpublished memoir, "A Rickshaw At The Door", by Peter Pottinger (and its drafts), and on letters loaned to me by Peter Pottinger from Fred Greenwell. One or two details come from Robert Greenwell Knight, and from Laura Greenwell's correspondence with my grandfather.

Chapter Nine: I am just not interested in talking to you

This chapter derives from an unpublished written account of her grandparents by Nancy Shaw, from further letters and conversations with Nancy, from Graeme Chapman's Ballarat Churches of Christ, 1859-1993: A History (1994) (see ), and also relies on extracts from George Greenwell's short book on Renan (1864) (a copy of which is in Nancy Shaw's possession). I was helped in the research here by Sally Wills. The information in the later part of the chapter I owe to the late Jean Beddow, and her sisters the late Gwen Carruthers and Dorothy Greenwell Atkins; and to Hugh Bell of Carlisle (who bough George Greenwell Carruthers' shop).

Chapter Ten: The Labourer Is Worthy Of His Hire

This chapter uses Marshall Broomhall's Robert Morrison: a master-builder (1924), Fordyce's History of Durham , Surtees' History Of Durham ; and also the records of the Baptist community of Sans Street, Sunderland, a copy of which was made for me by Sunderland City Library (part of it existing also in a copy owned by my grandfather and typed up by Hilda Thompson). I had help with some of the Baptist material from Paul Dover of the Nottingham Church of Christ. The life of Candlish is partly derived from Sunderland Notables by William Brockie (Sunderland: Hills & Co, 1894), which incidentally mistakenly calls my great-great-great-grandfather "Thomas" instead of "Robert"; and the chapter uses another book by William Brockie, Memoirs of A.A. Rees, Minister Of The Gospel At Sunderland (London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co, 1884). It also uses material from the Sunderland Herald and the Sunderland Daily Echo . The account of the Victoria Hall Disaster is based on the inquest reports, as detailed in The Victoria Hall disaster. Narrative of the accident which took place at the Victoria Hall, ... whereby 183 children lost their lives, etc (1883). I am grateful to the late May Robinson for lending me her copy of this. Subsequently a list of all the dead has been made available on online at

- and William McGonagall wrote a truly terrible poem about it.

Chapter Eleven: Top Of The Pops

For information here, I am grateful to Rosalie and Robert Raine, to the late Marjorie Cairns and her sister Aline Robertson, to Heather Johnson, to the late Mollie (Raine) Spencer, to the late May (Raine) Robinson, to a report in the Sunderland Echo (the rescue), and to Fereleth La Cava. I was loaned a copy of Dozens Of Delightful Dishes by Peter and Marjorie Pottinger. I also consulted the thirteen Sunderland Year Books (1901-1913).

Chapter Twelve: A Sister Of Mother's Took The First Boy

This chapter was dependent on research in Bristol City Library; on Alan and Audrie Bishop, and on Arthur and Kath Bishop, and relies also on Arthur's transcription of Jane Redman (Brown) Collin's unpublished memoir and Alice Brown's notes about her life, both the latter transcribed by Arthur Bishop for me. The search for the descendants of Gilbert Tickle Collin would have been impossible without the assistance of Noel Redmond. The details of the Collin family come from Maisie Magee and George Collin jr. The story of Tom Carruthers was pieced together from a series of letters he wrote to his daughter and wife between 1920 and 1935, which were loaned to me by Kate Carruthers and her niece Kathleen English Barrett; and from the recollections of Dorothy Greenwell Atkins.

Chapter Thirteen: The Bard

This chapter is dependent on George Greenwell's The Bard: a poem in six cantos (Sunderland: George Richmond, 1839). (See Appendix Two). The section on the cholera epidemic draws on Cholera In Sunderland by Stuart Miller and Alan Brett (Black Cat, 1992), James Butler Kell's On the appearance of Cholera at Sunderland in 1831; with some account of that disease , Edinburgh, 1834, and William Reid Clanny's Hyperanthraxis: the Cholera of Sunderland , Whittaker, Treacher & Arnott: London, 1832

Chapter Fourteen: Evangelists

This chapter uses George Greenwell's A Short Exposure of Mr. Froggatt's Short Defence Of Infant Baptism (1841), and the text of his first talk in a series Christianity - A Religion Of Facts Not Of Speculation (1844), and also a number of articles by or referring to George Greenwell in The Millennial Harbinger and The Christian Messenger in the 1840s, to which Paul Dover directed me. It also refers to A Memoir Of David King , by Joseph Collin which can be read on-line at ,

and A History Of The Church Of Christ Meeting In Long Hedge Lane, Nottingham, by S. B. Mottershaw (Nottingham, 1886), as well as a number of other sources of material for which I am entirely indebted to Paul Dover (and through him, to the Church of Christ archive at Selly Oak, Birmingham). I also used John. A. Owston's The Scotch Baptist Influence On The Disciples Of Christ , originally (but no longer) available on the web. For the Catholic Apostolic Church, I used a number of general sources, but particularly A Reply to "New Apostles, or Irvingism, &c." By one who has been twenty-five years a Minister in the Catholic Apostolic Church by J.G. Francis (Bosworth & Harrison, 1861) and My Experience Of The Catholic Apostolic Church by H.M.Prior (Wilson & Whitworth, Stratford, 1880). I have also used George Greenwell's pamphlet The Ministry Of The Angels - A Letter To The Working Classes (1878) .

Chapter Fifteen: God permitt me life till I come home

The opening sections (the historical ones) of this chapter depend heavily on an unpublished account of the Greenwells by William Hart, which he kindly loaned to me, on conversations and communications with William, and on some (author unknown) pedigrees owned by my grandfather, as well as Surtees' and Fordyce's respective Histories of Durham (and a typescript of an additional piece of research by Surtees' son). It also uses some general histories of Sunderland (see below), and the Sunderland Daily Echo between 1875 and 1900. It also uses Where Ships Are Born , by J.W.Smith and T.S.Holden (Thos. Reed and Son, 1946), in which there is a section on Greenwell's shipyard. I consulted some Greenwell shipyard records in the Tyne and Wear archive; others are my own possessions. The Sunderland Echo in September/October 1952 was also used.

Chapter Sixteen: This is a difficult part of the book to write

This chapter is heavily dependent on Rosalie Raine's research, and her contact with Jean Bollen, the daughter-in-law of Jessie Currie Hindley. Arthur Redman Hindley's war experiences are reconstructed from a variety of accounts of life on the Western Front, but mainly from his service and pay record, for which I am grateful to the National Archives Of Australia. The account of Geoffrey Greenwell is from his own unpublished memoir. James Brown Collin's diaries were transcribed for me by his son, George Collin for which I am extremely grateful; some details were added after conversations with Maisie Magee and Dorothy Greenwell Atkins. The references to Bert Knight's war come from his son Robert Greenwell Knight II. I am also grateful to Harkess Roses for loaning me the photograph of the rose, and to Evelyn's nieces Pamela and Leila, as above. The chapter also depends on conversations with my mother, and extracts from my sister's journals.

General: web-sites, libraries etc.

At some point or other I have consulted all of the following, and have been helped by countless numbers of archive and library staff

The General Record Office (GRO)

The General Record Office Of Scotland ("Scotland's people" online)

The message boards on genforum ( )

The registries at Sunderland and South Shields

The web-site (and 1881 census discs) of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints

The census details for every year from 1841 to 1901, online, or at the Family

Records Centre, Myddleton St, London, as well as at other centres

The Northumberland & Durham Family History Society

Sunderland City Library

Newcastle City Library

Hartlepool Library

Bristol City Library

South Tyneside Library

Hayes Library

The Australian National Archive

The Ontario Library Service

The Tyne & Wear Archive, Blandford Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The Durham Record Office

Durham University Library

The National Probate Office

The Guildhall Library

Hawick Library

The Public Record Office (online)

Parson & White's Gazetteer, 1827 & 1828

Kelly's Trade Directory for Sunderland & South Shields, 1883

Pigot's 1828-1829 Directory Of Durham

Pigot's 1834 Directory of Durham

Ward's Northumberland and Durham Directory 1850

Paul Joiner's Joiner Marriage Index

The late Bill Rounce's indices of marriages

The British Library (St. Pancras)

The British Newspaper Library at Colindale

Ancestral Trails by Mark D. Herber (Sutton, 2004)

My Ancestors Were Baptists by Geoffrey R. Breed (Society of Genealogists, 1995)

Family Tree file

The .ged family tree file (and extracts) was made using a GSP program.

Sunderland & Durham

Apart from the Sunderland Echo archives, I have also used

Contemporary Biographies Durham at the opening of XX Century (W.T.Pike & Co, 1900)

Where Ships Are Born Sunderland 1936-1946 by J.W.Smith and T.S.Holden (Thos. Reed and Son, 1946)

Sunderland In Old Photographs ed. Stuart Miller and Billy Bell (Alan Sutton, 1991)

A History Of Sunderland by Glen Lyndon Dodds (Albion Press, 2001)

John Rain's An Eye Plan of Sunderland and Bishopwearmouth ed. Clay, Milburn and Miller (Frank Graham, 1984)

River, Town And People ed. Milburn & Miller (Sunderland, 1988)

Indices to the 1851 and 1861 censuses in Sunderland produced by NDFHS

Indices to censuses at Hetton and Newbottle produced by Andrew D. Fletcher

Pictures Of Cleadon Village (South Tyneside Libraries, 1994)

The history and antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham : comprising a condensed account of its natural, civil, and ecclesiastical history, from the earliest period to the present time by William Fordyce (Fullarton, 1857)

The History of Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (3 vols) by William Hutchinson (Walker, 1823)

An historical, topographical and descriptive view of the County Palatine of Durham, etc., by E. Mackenzie and [continued by] M. Ross (Mackenzie & Dent, 1834)

The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, compiled from original Records ... and illustrated by engravings of architectural and monumental antiquities, portraits, etc. by Robert Surtees (London, 1816-1840)

The County Of Durham by A.Heaton Cooper and G.E.Mitton (London, 1924)

Local records; or historical register of remarkable events which have occurred exclusively in the counties of Durham and Northumberland, town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Berwick upon Tweed; with an obituary of persons of talent, eccentricity, and longevity(4. vols) by John Sykes, continued by T.Fordyce (1866)


I would like to thank all the following (principally relatives) who have contributed to my research, not least by loaning me photographs, putting up with me, and even putting me up:

Muriel Greenwell, Eithne Greenwell, Clare Greenwell, Gunnar Hreinsson, David Greenwell, Mark Hunter, Dame Pamela Hunter, Gordon Hunter, Rosemary Bowmer, Helen Kellett, Tony Greenwell, Beryl Greenwell, Jane and Roger Bradshaw, Judy Greenwell, Mollie Greenwell, Leila and Stan Jeffrey, Pamela Corfield, Hilda Thompson, John and Pat Settle, Paula Settle, Patrick Settle, Joe Settle, Rhoda Settle, Vron Silvester, J.W. Hallewell, Mrs R. Daws, Billy Reid, Colin Reid, Kitty and Tom Johnson, Heather Johnson and John Noble, Pauline Johnson, Chris Cowey, Pat Laidler, Karen Laidler, Gordon Hallewell, Bob Hallewell, Dorothy Holness, Eileen Dodds, Kathleen and Jim Turnbull, Winnie and Terry Lloyd-Hughes, Gordon Turnbull, Marjorie Cairns, Alyson Hutchinson, Sarah Kelly, Aline and Bob Robertson, Rosalie and Robert Raine, May Robinson, Jill and Graham Harcombe, Kerry and Katy Harcombe, Mollie Spencer, Pat and Jimmy Reay, Carolyn and Alastair Snyders, Carol and Derek Spencer, Sue Thom, Hilda Kitts, Peter and Marjorie Pottinger, Judy and Norman Rudd, Robert and Mary Knight, Beth Cochron, Ron Cole, Ian Brown, Alan and Audrie Bishop, Arthur and Kath Bishop, Richard Brown, Noel Redmond, Phil and Christine Gray, Maisie Magee, Moira and Aidan Conlan, Hilda Keller, Dr. George H. Collin and Dorothy Collin, Jennifer and Ian Young, Robert Hindley, Stephen Hindley, Mabel Jean Bollen, Jean Beddow, Dorothy Greenwell Atkins, Gwen Carruthers, Frank Beddow, George Beddow, Kate Carruthers, Kathleen Barrett-English, Robert Shaw, Nancy Shaw, Bob Bage, Patricia Hallman, Paul Dover, William Hart, Angus Larcombe, Ann and David Johnston, Fereleth La Cava, Georganne Ishii; Ann Downer, Ann Beddow; and last but not least, the novelist John Harding, who forced me to do something constructive with the material.


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