Northumberland, History Society

The church of St Michael and All Angels Ford. Jane Coltman
The church of St Michael and All Angels Ford. Jane Coltman

This month there was a completely free choice of what to talk about at North Northumberland Family History Group.

This turned up an interesting variety of contributions, as one might imagine.

We heard about a letter from the Barmoor Castle collection, which led to the discovery of an adventurous Englishwoman, born in 1807.

She had four husbands and many more lovers, including Ling Ludwig of Bavaria.

Then there was a poem, written specially for this meeting, on the British Newspaper Archive – surely a first.

We saw a bone porridge spoon, which had been used daily by a member’s father, as well as viewing an elephant’s tusk gifted to him and a small glass receptacle like a rolling pin, use unknown.

Two interesting words were brought to members’ attention.

Scumfished, meaning suffocating hot, steamy and smoky, was once in common usage in North Northumberland, but it is now very rarely heard.

The other word, Neurosenior/neuroscenia, was used in connection with an elderly relative who had served in World War I, meaning nervy.

The word is actually neurasthenia and indicated shell-shock. Nowadays it is replaced by Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

There was also a photograph of a member’s great uncle who had emigrated to Toronto from Blyth. We learnt that he played the piano in silent films and was an accomplished singer.

And we heard about the early days of our branch and its meetings in Fenwick Village Hall.

One member talked of tracking down pottery manufactured by an ancestor, who owned potteries in Tyneside and whose products have become collectors’ items.

It was found eventually through the internet, duly purchased and is now displayed in the member’s home.

Our next meeting will be held on Saturday, September 16, at 10am, at Bell View, when Ralph Holmes will tell us about Salmon Gallows and other stories.