Can you help historians put together pieces of the past

A picture showing Edward VII's visit to Alnwick in 1906. The Ironmongery shop of Wilkin and Dickman is on the left. Photograph courtesy of the Bailiffgate Museum Collection.
A picture showing Edward VII's visit to Alnwick in 1906. The Ironmongery shop of Wilkin and Dickman is on the left. Photograph courtesy of the Bailiffgate Museum Collection.
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Family history buffs from the Alnwick branch of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society are currently handling a series of appeals for help from people looking to learn more about their ancestors and loved ones from yesteryear.

To aid these efforts, the Gazette has teamed up with the group, which operates out of the town’s Bailiffgate Museum, to try to help those who have made the appeals. Details of the appeals are listed and if anyone has any information, they should contact the Society on 01665 604502.

A family photo from the 1950/60s belonging to David Wilson, which shows members of his family.

A family photo from the 1950/60s belonging to David Wilson, which shows members of his family.

Case 1: Wilkin and Dickman Ironmongers

The Ironmongery shop of Wilkin and Dickman was a feature of Bondgate, Alnwick, for more than 50 years. Opening in the early 1840s, the business thrived right through until the early 1900s.

Henry P Wilkin, the co-founder, was a descendant of Thomas Wilkin (1738-1799), land surveyor to the Duke of Northumberland who married a Jane Lorain in Hexham Abbey.

It is believed that relatives of Henry Wilkin may well still be living in the area. A descendent now living in Bournemouth is coming up to Alnwick in March and is hoping to meet anyone who believes they are related, or has links to the business.

Case 2: The Stewarts

This is the family of Henry and Mary Stewart, of Morpeth, and licensees of the Black Swan Inn, of Alnwick, from 1911 until 1921.

Georgina Frances is the maternal grandmother of the person making the appeal – who goes by the initials TS and is from Perth, Australia – after marrying Thomas Stevenson of Alnwick in April 1913 in the town.

They, in turn, had Henry Lewis, Doris Isabel, Georgina Mary and Matthew George, who was the father of the person making the appeal. Thomas’s parents were John Stevenson and Isabella Slight. They emigrated to Saskatchewan around 1885 and stayed for around nine years before returning to Alnwick.

Hopefully there may be someone in Alnwick who is researching related Stevenson Lines.

Case 3: Gunner Harry Brown

Seeing Gunner Harry Brown’s entry on Alnmouth war memorial and a death date on his records of September 1916, one could be forgiven for assuming that he died on the Somme battlefields.

In some ways his death is even more tragic, although almost certainly linked to a tale of heroism the previous year.

Henry (Harry) Brown and his father William were fishermen in Alnmouth. Returning to harbour one day in April 1915, their boat, the Sanspareil, was hit by a massive wave and capsized.

PC Willoughby, the local policeman, witnessed the drama, dived in and dragged father William to shore, while Harry just managed to reach shallow water.

Both father and son were deeply affected by the near-death experience.

The older man never fully recovered from the shock and died in November that year.

Harry joined the Royal Garrison Artillery and was on the south coast under training in 1916, but it seems likely that he was deeply affected.

On September 25, a lady walking on the seashore at Bexhill came across the body of a soldier, fully dressed on the edge of the water. The coroner returned an open verdict.

It is believed by a descendent of the family now living elsewhere that there may be relations still in the Alnmouth/ Alnwick area that she would like to get in touch with.

Case 4: The Wilson family

A Peterborough man, David Wilson, is hoping to find out more about his family.

He is looking into his ­ancestors who came from the Northumberland and Durham areas.

Members of the NDFHS, including its Alnwick branch, enjoy a range of benefits to help them discover more about their ancestors.

This includes access to a wide range of excellent speakers on family history-related issues.

They also have free use of the extensive library of books, periodicals, microfiches etc relating mainly to the Northumberland and Durham area in the NDFHS offices at Percy House, Newcastle.

Drop-in sessions at the Bailiffgate Museum are held on a regular basis to access online record facilities with guidance available.

The branch is happy to carry out research into people’s family trees, in return for a donation to branch funds.

For more information, call 01665 604502, email familyhistory@bailiffgatemuseum.co.uk or visit bailiffgatemuseum.co.uk