The People (in alphabetical order)
(Back to Introduction)
Note: in the 18th century the spelling of surnames could be very variable, sometimes even in the same document. In this list, we have used the spelling most generally used in the documents, with variants in brackets)
- Askew, Mr, One of the Northumberland county magistrates
- Aynsley, Gawen, (also spelt Ainsley) one of the leading Northumberland county magistrates and Chair of the Quarter Sessions. His family seat was at Littleharle Tower
- Bigge, Mr, One of the Northumberland county magistrates
- Blackett, Christopher, brother of John Blackett, the County Treasure (see below) and did much of the Treasurer’s work for him
- Blackett, John, County Treasurer of Northumberland in the period, and a relative of Sir Walter, living at Wylam.
- Blackett, Sir Walter, 1707-77, Landowner, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne from 1734 until his death, and industrialist; owned lead mines and smelting works in Allendale, and was also Lord of the Manor for Hexham. Responsible for building the first bridge at Hexham, which collapsed in the Great Flood of 1771. His heirs forfeited the bond of £3,000 that he had given to the County that he would build and maintain the bridge.
- Davidson, John, Clerk of the Peace to the Northumberland justices. His job included keeping the records of the quarter sessions, and he had legal training so he could advise the justices.
- Donkin, John, Agent to Henry Errington of Sandoe, responsible for carrying on Errington’s business affairs when Errington was in London or elsewhere
- Errington, Henry, landowner living at Sandoe (now spelt Sandhoe) Hall north of the Tyne. Contracted in 1777 with the county to build the second Hexham bridge for £5,700, and involved in a long dispute about his financial liability after it collapsed in 1782.
- Fawcett, Christopher, (1713-1795) the lawyer advising the County, that is the JPs who were taking the legal case against Mr Errington. He was the Recorder of Newcastle from 1746-53, but had to resign after questions were raised concerning possible Jacobite sympathies. He was reappointed in 1769 and held the post until 1794.
- Fenwick, William, one of the Northumberland county magistrates, and also a leading player in Newcastle politics. Family seat at Bywell Hall, Bywell, which was severely damaged by the 1771 flood.
- Gascoigne, Thomas, A Yorkshire MP, lending his signature to a letter from Mr Errington in order that he could receive free postage (see Introduction)
- Heron, Ralph, Hexham lawyer, with an office also in Newcastle, used by Henry Errington to look after his legal affairs in Northumberland.
- Johnson, William, a mason, one of the local bridge surveyors (along with Robert Thompson and Thomas Rickley who gave evidence in the court case between the County magistrates and Henry Errington. He and Robert Thompson were responsible for the successful completion of a new Hexham Bridge in 1790-95, with Robert Mylne as consulting engineer. (Rickley was dead by this time). They are referred to in the papers without titles or prefixes; these are skilled artisans not gentry.
- Kenyon, Mr, Probably Lloyd Kenyon, MP for Hindon and a leading lawyer in Parliament.
- Layborn, Thomas, (also spelt Laybourn, Laybourne, Layburne) of Sunderland, a master-mason who signed a contract, along with Lowinger Maddison, to rebuild Blackett’s failed bridge in 1774-75, but was released from the contract. (According to evidence given by George Weatherby, deputy County Clerk, he was made insolvent). He also worked on Errington’s bridge, and gave evidence in 1787. Referred to without a title or prefix; he is a skilled artisan not a gentleman.
- Letteny John, (also spelt Letteney), London lawyer concerned with looking after Henry Errington’s interests in Parliament, nothing else known about him.
- Lowes, William, of Ridley Hall, one of the Northumberland magistrates. appointed High Sheriff in 1773. Took a strong and divisive part in the discussions leading up to the 1778 Hexham Bridge Act. Died 1783. He laid the foundation stone for Newcastle’s Assembly Rooms in 1773, and earned himself a derisive parody of the inscription from radical preacher James Murray in his Freemen’s Magazine. (Included in Lowes’ entry in Richard Welford’s Men of Mark)
- Maddison, Lowinger, of Stanhope, a master-mason working with Thomas Layborn (see above) on the bridge
- Middleton, Sir William, one of the two MPs for Northumberland; his family seat was Belsay Hall
- Mylne, Robert (also spelt Milne and Miln),1733-1811, a leading Scottish architect and engineer. To some extent he was a rival to John Smeaton, whom he beat in a competition for the design of Blackfriars Bridge in 1760, but he was also a founder member alongside Smeaton of the Institute of Civil Engineers. According to his Wikipedia entry, ‘as his career progressed he concentrated more on engineering, writing reports on harbours and advising on canals, and appearing as an expert witness in lawsuits and trials’. In 1789 Mylne, along with with the Northumberland bridge surveyors William Johnson and Robert Thompson, began rebuilding the bridge, completing it in 1795. Its superstructure was identical to Smeaton’s, probably because the previous materials were being re-used to save cost. To prevent a repeat of the earlier disaster, the reconstructed bridge (still standing) was founded on a piled timber platform that stretches from bank to bank, and substantial further repair work was done in the twentieth century. See Stafford Linsley’s article, Tyne Crossings at Hexham for more information on this.
- Paine, James (also spelt Payne), A leading architect, designer of Bywell Hall for the Fenwick family
- Pickernell, John, (also spelt Pickernel, Pickernall, and Pochernell in various documents in the volume) an engineer and surveyor employed under the direction of John Wooler (see below) in the building of the bridge. The spelling Pochernell, used in document 31, may be derisive or humorous. Gives evidence in the case in 1787.
- Ravensworth, Baron, Henry Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth (1708-84), of Ravensworth Castle. An immensely rich coalowner and entrepreneur, and a player in Northumberland and Newcastle politics.
- Rickley, Thomas, carpenter. See entry for William Johnson above
- Scott, Sir John, a leading lawyer and politician, born in Newcastle in 1751, and famous locally for having eloped with Bessie Surtees in 1772. He was a supporter of William Pitt, and in June 1788 he was appointed Solicitor-General by the Government, a post he held until 1793, and knighted. He played a key role in the Regency crisis later in 1788. In his later career he took an extreme reactionary and repressive position, bitterly opposing Catholic Emancipation. He became Baron Eldon in 1792, and died in 1838. (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
- John Smeaton (1724 –1792); Provided the design of Hexham Bridge and supervised its building. Smeaton was an English civil engineer responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours and lighthouses. He is often regarded as the “father of civil engineering”, and one of the founder members of the Institute of Civil Engineering. In 1812, twenty years after his death, a large number of Smeaton’s papers were collected together and published in 3 volumes of Reports. Reprints are available in various editions, and online versions are available on Google Books, and in the Virtual Library of the Institute of Civil Engineers. The Hexham Bridge dossier included in the Reports has been digitised for inclusion here, with the exception of some of the technical ones. It includes slightly edited versions of some of the papers in our volume, and links to digitised versions of these are included in the Contents list below as appropriate. Many thanks to Newcastle’s Mining Institute for allowing us to digitise these sections and put them online. The following sections are available; Design for Hexham Bridge; Design for a Diving Machine; Estimate for Hexham Bridge, January 1777; Pickernell letter July 1778, reporting damage to the half-built bridge; Smeaton’s Directions for repairing bridge 1778; Smeaton to Donkin July 1778; Smeaton on bridge repairs 1779; Smeaton to Errington April 1782 (after the bridge collapse); Smeaton to Pickernell June 1782; Mylne’s report 1783 to the Northumberland Justices; Mylne’s second report September 1783; Smeaton’s observations on Mylne; Smeaton’s Memorial concerning Hexham Bridge part 1 and part 2 (undated); Errington’s paper to the Grand Jury 1783; Smeaton’s Dissertation (undate
- Thompson, Robert, mason, see entry for William Johnson, above
- Tweddell, Francis, one of the leading gentry and magistrates for Northumberland.
- Tweddell, John, another leading gentleman, and also a magistrate. May be a cousin or brother of Francis Tweddell. Francis’ son John, a noted classical scholar and traveller, was only born 1769 so would have been too young to be involved at this stage
- Wallace, James, a barrister and MP for Horsham, Attorney-General for England and Wales from 1780 to 1782, and was reappointed in 1783, but died on 16 November that year. He came from a Northumberland family and had a home in Cumberland.
- Weatherby, George, deputy Clerk for the County of Northumberland, and gave evidence in the case in 1787
- White, Mr, mentioned as being in the House of Commons, probably a clerk but not an MP.
- Wooller, John, (also spelt Wooler, Woller) an engineer and surveyor employed by Newcastle Corporation on the rebuilding of the bridge over the Tyne at Newcastle, and subsequently by John Smeaton