Extras from the archives

The Blair papers

In November 2019, the Society was alerted to the coming auction of a bundle of papers which included the membership certificate of Bridget Atkinson of Temple Sowerby, the first (honorary) female member, elected in 1813. We bid for and obtained the collection, which turned out to be more than expected. There were 22 items, ranging in date from a  late 17th or early 18th century account of the “Distribution of the Papists Horses within the County of Northumberland” to a 1993 autographed ticket to an “Evening with Dean Martini & his Ding a Lings”. Research has shown that the papers can be linked to Robert Blair, a major figure in the history of the society and a significant contributor to the study of the region’s past. He was elected to the society in 1874 and served as its secretary from 1883-1923 and editor from 1884-1923.  Hence, presumably, the presence of the membership certificate.The bundle includes family history material relating to Robert’s Blair, Watt and Stevens ancestors. Research into the Blairs, who were Tyne pilots show them to have been energetic in promoting the interests of their profession. Some of Robert’s Stevens’ ancestors were sailors during the Napoleonic wars and their letters home provide an insight into that period. Their prize money seems to have provided the wherewithal for the family’s move up the social scale.

Those documents which need transcribing have now been done, and we are in the process of putting images and transcriptions on this part of the website. The papers themselves will be deposited in Northumberland Archives when it reopens. Below is a list of the documents, linked to the images and the transcriptions where these are needed (note, this is a work in progress and not all the links are on there yet)

  • Document 1, 16 May 1810; Copy will and probate of Elizabeth Stevens of Heworth Shore, widow, mother of Hugh Stevens, boatswain. Mainly print, no transcript needed.
  • Document 2, 16 May 1810; Legacy duty certificate, personal estate  of Elizabeth Stevens of Heworth Shore, parish of Jarrow. Mainly print, no transcript needed.
  • Document 3, 13 February 1798; Letter from a son (presumed to be Hugh Stevens) to Elizabeth Stevens,  from HMS Latona, Portsmouth Harbour to ‘George Stairs Nigh the Foot of Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne’, transcription 
  • Document 4, 23 January1802; Letter from Hugh Stevens, on Latona, Spithead to his mother Elizabeth Stevens c/o [her brother] Crawford, transcription
  • Document 5, 12 March 1813; Letter from John Stevens on HMS Volontaire  at “Gibraltar or elsewhere” to his sister Margaret but addressed to Mr J Watts [brother in law], to whom it is redirected to South Shields,  transcription
  • Document 6, 26 August 1813; Letter from John Stevens, HMS Volontaire, Portsmouth Harbour 26/08/1813 to his sister and brother in law James Watt, Waggonway Wherryman, ‘at the high end of South Shields’, transcription
  • Document 7, 24 June 1763; Discharge papers of John Stevens, Sergeant, referring to 20 years’ service in the 12th  Regiment of Foot. Mainly print, no transcript needed
  • Document 8, 26 June 1763; Papers of Chelsea out-pensioner John Stevens, aged 39, who had served 20 years in the 12th Foot (general Napier’s) ‘being ruptur’d and worn out in the Service’, no transcript needed
  • Document 9, 27 July 1811; Letter from John Stevens, HMS Volontaire, off Toulon, to his sister and brother in law,  transcription.
  • Document 10, 28 December 1805; Letter from Hugh Stevens, HMS Latona, Spithead to [his mother] Mrs Elizabeth Stevens Heworth Shore, near Newcastle, in the care of Mr John Dale, Low Heworth. transcription
  • Document 11, 20 September 1820; Account of prize money due to Hugh Stevens of the Latona, paid to James Watt, High End, South Shields. £77-10-09, transcription with notes
  • Document 12, Early twentieth century? Five sheets of paper with partial MS transcripts of  some of the above
  • Document 13, Early eighteenth century; Table headed, Distribution of the Papists Horses within the County of Northumberland to the Severall officers of the Militia of the County. transcription (as a spreadsheet).   This is the most complicated document in the bundle, so follow this link for an explanation and notes, and this one for a version of the spreadsheet with additional workings, showing how the calculations were done.
  • Document 14, 20 September 1857; Manuscript list of the children of James and Jane Blair, signed Robert Blair 1857, transcription
  • Document 15, Around 1831; Printed list with manuscript additions Children of Robert and Sarah Blair (dated 1812-1831), transcription
  • Document 16, Some date between 1831-1860; A second copy of 15 with more manuscript additions,  transcription
  • Document 17, Twentieth century; Two sheets of paper with manuscript genealogical notes mentioning Watt (cf Stevens) and Blair, transcription
  • Document 18, 14 May 1936; Letter Hugh MS Blair, Thorney House, Laygate, South Shields to  The Midland Gun Company, Bath St Birmingham, enclosing a postal order for 10s 6d, no transcript needed
  • Document 19, c1918; Certificate presented by Corporation of South Shields to Jane Turner in Commemoration of the Victorious Conclusion of the Great War, no transcript needed
  • Document 20, 8 June 1946; Printed leaflet as distributed to schoolchildren at end of World War II, no transcript needed
  • Document 21, 1 December 1993; Photocopied flier or ticket for an Evening with Dean Martini & his Ding a Lings, Riverside Venue 2 with manuscript endorsement “To Helen” by ? (illegible).
  • Document 22, 6 February 1813; Printed and manuscript Certificate of Membership of the Antiquarian Society of Newcastle upon Tyne (the original title of the Newcastle Antiquaries) for Mrs Atkinson of Temple Sowerby. Seal in seal box attached. As noted above, it was this document that originally attracted the interest of the Antiquaries,

Extras from the SANT library

Our library of over 30,000 volumes contains a number of books where the authors, or early owners, have added to them with ‘tipped-in’ manuscript pages or illustrations. Some of these are too fragile to be available for public viewing, or only on a very restricted basis. Our librarians have therefore begun a project to digitise the extra pages, and provide transcriptions as necessary. As they are completed, they will be included in this section of the Unlocking website. The first of them, added in August 2019, is below;

A History of Corbridge and its Antiquities by Robert Forster – A unique second edition

Forster’s History was the Library’s Featured Book for June 2019; follow this link to go to that page on the SANT website.

It is not often Librarians look to archive a rare second edition, but in this case the decision was made because a second edition was never actually published! Between 1881 and 1884, when the author died, Forster was given additional information which he felt should be included in his History, and so he wrote up this extra material, tipping in manuscript sheets into his own copy.  Below are the links to a set of the images and transcriptions of each manuscript page (in two parts, because of the size of each file)

History of Corbridge and its Antiquities part 1, images and transcriptions.

History of Corbridge and its Antiquities part 2, images and transcriptions

For more about Forster and his History, follow this link

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