Key questions in family search

A FAMILY history quest is taking one man all the way from Down Under to north Northumberland this month.

David Allen, from Victoria in Australia, is travelling around 10,000 miles to discover more about his ancestors.

His great grandfather was born at Lowlynn, near Lowick, and later married Charlotte Hughes from Middleton Hall before leaving Northumberland for Australia in 1876.

David’s family is also connected to the Selbys through his great great grandfather Henry Knight Gregson, son of Rev Thomas Knight from Ford, who married Eliza Mary Donaldson-Selby.

His aim during his week in north Northumberland is to visit all the places that he can where his ancestors have lived and farmed but also places like Middleton Hall, Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle.

However there are four key questions to which the family wants to find answers during their trip.

David said: “The first one should be straightforward – how many children did Rev Thomas Knight and then his son Henry have?

“The second one is also reasonably simple – are there still Gregsons, Hughes or Selbys farming or living in the area that we can connect with?

“The third one is a bit trickier – in the mid 1800s, a ‘violent quarrel developed between Henry Knight Gregson and Viscount Waterford who had appropriated the tithes which my grandfather claimed belonged to the parish of Ford’.

“There was a court case and the costs ran to £75,000, eventually won by us but ‘ruined him and Viscount Waterford’. So we would like to know a bit more about that case and why he took such a strong stand?

“Fourthly, in a document we have, my grandfather states: ‘It is not known for certain if a Mrs Selby or my grandmother retrieved the lid of the coffin when General Tom Foster, who led the Jacobite rebellion in Northumberland in 1715, was re-interred at Bamburgh, but it was recovered and made into a small coffee table and painted green.

“It was at Lowlynn for many years’. We would love to have a drink around that table if we can find it!

“So they are our four challenges and we have a week to achieve them (sounding a bit like a reality TV show) but we also aim to have lots of laughs along the way as well.”

If anyone has any information for David, contact the Gazette on 01665 602234 or