Alnwick, Camera Club

View of autumn leaves at Alnwick Castle.'Picture by Jane Coltman
View of autumn leaves at Alnwick Castle.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Past professionals

The Alnwick Branch of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society welcomed Professor M Moss and Dr K Price to their September meeting.

The town was one of nine chosen by Newcastle and Oxford Universities in looking at professional people chosen from the 1851 census and following up their descendants for two generations.

The aim was to discover answers to such questions as whether subsequent generations went on to follow in a profession, and if they consolidated as a social class through such factors as intermarriage.

Professor Moss thanked the volunteers from Alnwick who had assisted them and provided invaluable information. He presented findings so far and focused on Alnwick, Dundee and Merthyr Tydfil.

Results so far have unearthed stories of success, survival and failure among those studied. Several of the current theories about Victorian professionals have been contradicted, and many new intriguing questions have emerged. For example, why did few granddaughters from professional families marry? Why are some families more successful than others in increasing their wealth over generations?

The role of women in professional households was also raised. Merthyr Tydfil was cited as having a strong presence of influential women. However, more research needs to be done into women’s roles.

Professor Moss gave examples from other towns where sons of professional fathers had moved into more lucrative, new professions that were emerging in Victorian times, driven by industrial expansion, such as surveying and engineering.

Although the project is nearing its end, the team is still looking to add more information about individual families. This could be in the form of letters, diaries, documents or photographs. Only last week the study discovered that there was still a person from the third generation of a family still alive.

If you are able to assist in any way, please contact familyhistory@bailifgatemuseum.co.uk

To read more about the study and the people featured from Alnwick, please go to www.vicorianprofessions.ox.ac.uk

The next meeting of the Alnwick Branch of the NDFHS will be on Tuesday, October 4, at the Bailiffgate Museum, at 7.15pm for 7.30pm, when we will learn about the fascinating history of the Downie family. All are welcome, and refreshments available.