Tag Archives: carlisle

Finding some details on Thomas and Margaret KINGHORN

24 May

Before my visit to the London Family History Centre (LFHC) on Saturday, I had very little hard information on Thomas KINGHORN, my 4x great grandfather. I knew he married Margaret SEWELL in Carlisle on the 5th May 1803 and they had six children between then and 1817. He worked as a guard on a mail coach, and was involved in an accident in 1808, when he narrowly escaped death. I also knew from his son’s marriage certificate that he had died before 1850.

What I really wanted to find out at the LFHC was when he died and how old he was when he died, so I could work out roughly when he was born. I had identified two possible short cuts to this information:

  1. A list of monumental inscriptions for the parish church of St Cuthbert, Carlisle, where he was married and his children subsequently baptised.
  2. An index to wills and administrations from 1800 to 1858 for the Diocese of Carlisle.

Unfortunately the only copy of the first one I knew of locally was at the Society of Genealogist’s library across the city, not at the LFHC, so that was a complete non-starter.

The second one was available on microfilm at the LFHC, but unfortunately there were no entries for Thomas or Margaret KINGHORN, in fact there were no KINGHORNs at all.

The only option left was to take the long route and search through the burial records in the bishops transcript’s for the parish of St Cuthbert’s, Carlisle, Cumberland. Starting in 1817 when their youngest child was baptised I went through year by year.

I finally found Thomas KINGHORN in 1833, except his name was spelt KINGHORNE (close enough for me), he was buried on the 4th May. His age was given as 52 years, which means he was born around 1781. His abode was given as Crosby Street. Compared to what I knew before that one record has probably doubled my knowledge of Thomas KINGHORN in one hit.

I continued to see if the were any other KINGHORN burials but there weren’t until the 15th May 1850 when, his wife Margaret was buried, she was aged 73 years and her address was South Street. So Margaret was around four years older than Thomas being born around 1777.

Although it seems likely that these two are my 4x great grandparents there is nothing that conclusively says they are. The lack of a will (or wills) doesn’t help, but perhaps a monumental inscription will at least show if they were buried together.

I already had the GRO death index entry for Margaret, so I need to order the death certificate and see if that holds any further information, like the fact that she was the widow of Thomas KINGHORN.

I can also now plan to visit the British Library Newspaper Library and check the Carlisle newspapers around those dates, and see if either of them got a mention. If Thomas died in the course of his duty as mail guard then that would be sure to be mentioned, but I doubt I will be that lucky.

Also I now have some more details to take with me to the British Postal Museum and Archive, to see if they have anything that might shed light on his service.

So lots more avenues to explore now, and a couple of streets to visit when I finally get up Carlisle.

The problem with Thomas KINGHORN

30 Apr

Despite discovering more about Thomas KINGHORNs occupation as mail guard, I still have very little hard information about the man himself.

Thomas KINGHORN married Margaret SEWELL on the 5th May 1803 in St Cuthbert’s Church, Carlisle, Cumberland. They had six children, all baptised in St Cuthbert’s:

1. John KINGHORN (baptised 30 Oct 1803)
2. Mary KINGHORN (baptised 03 Aug 1806)
3. Thomas KINGHORN (baptised 13 Mar 1808)
4. Abraham KINGHORN (baptised 10 Jun 1810)
5. Elizabeth KINGHORN (baptised 19 Mar 1815)
6. George KINGHORN (baptised 11 May 1817)

In all the entries Thomas is shown as a mail guard. The entries for John, Mary and Thomas don’t show a residence, but the entries for Abraham, Elizabeth and George have the residence as Moffat (of North Britain) and Abraham’s entry states the parents are late of Carlisle.

On the 25th October 1808, Thomas was involved in a mail coach accident in which he was injured, “severely cut about the head”.

Thomas had died by the time his son Thomas was married (for the second time) in London in June 1850, as he is shown as deceased on the certificate. I have been unable to find him in the 1841 census and there doesn’t appear to be a death entry for him in the civil registration indexes, so he probably died before July 1837.

So not really a lot to go on, he was alive definitely alive between 1803 and 1817, he worked as a guard on the mail coach and had six children with his wife Margaret.

The key fact I would like to establish is where and when he died. This will hopefully give me a clue to his age and year of birth. Given his occupation, his death could have occurred almost anywhere in the country, and his place of birth may not have even been in the north but he may just have been working there and meet a local girl.

To try and find the man himself, I am going to have to make my next step to try and establish what happened to the rest of the family, I think I have found his wife in the 1841 census (back in Carlisle), which is a good start as I should be able to find her death certificate which may provide some clues, such as where to look for a burial record for both of them.

Thomas KINGHORN narrowly escapes with his life

15 Apr

I had one of those jaw dropping moments this afternoon, I was idly Googling Thomas KINGHORN (as you do) and one of the results a long way down the list was a link to a book published in 1885 entitled The Royal Mail: Its Curiosities and Romance (by James Wilson Hyde) within the Internet Archive.

Now I haven’t read the entire book yet (I don’t read that quick!), only the section relating to the incident in which Thomas KINGHORN was involved. It literally left me speechless when I read it, my 4x great grandfather involved in such a terrible accident and he lived to tell the tale!

The story is quite long, and well worth reading in full, so apologies for the length of this post (the details about Thomas KINGHORN are in bold at the end of the text):

On the night of Tuesday the 25th October 1808, the road between Carlisle and Glasgow was the scene of a catastrophe which will serve to illustrate in a striking degree one of the perils of the postal service in the mail-coach era. The place where the event now to be described occurred, lies between Beattock and Elvanfoot (about five miles from the latter place), where the highway crosses the Evan Water, a stream which takes its rise near the sources of the Clyde, but whose waters are carried southward into Dumfriesshire. To be more precise, the situation is between two places called Raecleuch and Howcleuch, on the Carlisle road; and a bridge which now spans the water, in lieu of a former bridge, retains by association, to this day, the name of the “Broken Bridge.”

It was at the breaking up of a severe storm of frost and snow, when the rivers were flooded to such an extent as had never been seen by the oldest people in the neighbourhood. The bridge had been but recently built; and though it was afterwards stated that the materials composing the mortar must have been of bad quality, no doubt would seem to have been entertained as to the security of the bridge. The night was dark, and accompanied by both wind and rain elements which frequently usher in a state of thaw. The mail-coach having passed the summit, was speeding along at a good round pace, the “outsiders” doubtless making themselves as comfortable as circumstances would allow, while the “insides,” as we might imagine, had composed themselves into some semblance of sleep, the time being between nine and ten o’clock, when, suddenly and without warning, the whole equipage – horses, coach, driver, guard, and passengers – on reaching the middle of the bridge, went headlong precipitate into the swollen stream through a chasm left by the collapse of the arch. It is by no means easy to realise what the thoughts would be of those concerned in this dreadful experience pitched into a roaring torrent, in a most lonely place, at a late hour on such a night. The actual results were, however, very serious.

The two leading horses were killed outright by the fall, while one of the wheelers was killed by a heavy stone descending upon it from the still impending portions of the wrecked structure. The coach and harness also were utterly destroyed. But, worse still, two outside passengers, one a Mr Lund, a partner in a London house, and the other named Brand, a merchant in Ecclefechan, were killed on the spot, while a lady and three gentlemen who were inside passengers miraculously escaped with their lives, though they were severely bruised. The lady, who had scrambled out of the vehicle, sought refuge on a rock in mid-stream, there remaining prisoner for a time; and by her means a second catastrophe of a similar kind was happily averted. The mail from Carlisle for Glasgow usually exchanged “Good-night” with the south-going coach, when they were running to time, just about the scene of the accident. Fortunately the coach from Carlisle was rather late; but when it did arrive, the lady on the rock, seeing the lights approach, screamed aloud, and thus warned the driver to draw up in time. Succour was now at hand.

Something ludicrous generally finds itself in company with whatever is of a tragic nature. The guard of the Carlisle coach was let down to the place where the lady was, by means of the reins taken from the horses. Hughie Campbell – that was the guard’s name – when deliberating upon the plan of rescue, had some delicacy as to how he should affix the reins to the person of the lady, and called up to those above, “Where will I grip her?” But before he could be otherwise advised, the lady, long enough already on the rock, broke in, “Grip me where you like, but grip me firm,” which observation at once removed Hughie’s difficulty, and set his scruples at ease. The driver of the wrecked coach, Alexander Cooper, was at first thought to have been carried away; but he was afterwards found caught between two stones in the river. He survived the accident only a few weeks – serious injuries to his back proving fatal. As for the guard, Thomas Kinghorn, he was severely cut about the head, but eventually recovered.

It was usual for the coachman and guard over this wild and exposed road to be strapped to their seats in stormy weather; but on this occasion Kinghorn, as it happened, was not strapped, and to this circumstance he attributed his escape from death. When the mail went down, he was sent flying over the bridge, and alighted clear from the wreck of the coach. The dead passengers and the wounded persons were taken by the other coach into Moffat.

It may be added that the fourth horse was got out of its predicament little the worse for the fall, and continued to run for many a day over the same road; but it was always observed to evince great nervousness and excitement whenever it approached the scene of the accident.

My mind is now full of questions and sources to check, my visit to Carlisle Record Office is probably now going to have to include a visit to “Broken Bridge”, and I am going to have to see what the British Postal Museum and Archives have on this accident.

Presumably this report is taken from newspaper accounts or was there an official report, either way I have to get my hands on them and try and find out more details. Are there any other accounts of the accident available? Has anyone else researched it in any depth? Always more questions than answers!

Thomas KINGHORN: mail coach guard

2 Apr

I was quite excited by the discovery that my 4x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN’s occupation was the of a guard on a mail coach, this is certainly the most exotic occupation I have come across in my research.

The truth is that I know very little about Thomas KINGHORN aside from the fact he was a mail coach guard. He married (by licence) Margaret SEWELL on the 5th May 1803 in Carlisle, Cumberland, England and they had six children (all baptised in Carlisle) of which Thomas (my 3x great grandfather) is the only one I have researched so far.

The family appear to have lived across the border in Moffat for a few years, but still came back to Carlisle to have their children baptised. Thomas had died before 1850, and it looks to me like he died before the 1841 census (although the fact that I haven’t found it is not conclusive). I think I have found his wife living on her own in Carlisle in 1841 (in King Street, Botchergate, Carlisle).

I once visited Carlisle, about ten years ago, and didn’t think much of it at the time, admittedly I probably spent less than two hours there, waiting for a train connection. Now I find myself wanting to go back and have another look around, and a visit to the record office.

Thomas and Margaret KINGHORN have now officially become my third main project, and there are so many questions to be answered apart from the obvious: who were their parents? Hopefully of the coming months I can answer some of them.

I made a start today (well actually a couple of days ago when I requested it) by borrowing a book from my local library entitled “The Mail-Coach Men of the Late Eighteenth Century” by Edmund Vale. I have already learnt that Moffat was on the route between Carlisle and Glasgow, and that the London to Carlisle mail coach took 50 hours to cover 309 miles!

Aside from going to Carlisle at some stage, there are also the resources of the British Postal Museum and Archive that may hold some clues to his life. I am especially delighted by the thought that he was armed with a blunderbuss (and two pistols). I have always liked the word ‘blunderbuss’ since I was a small boy and read it in a children’s book. Now I have an excuse to use the word more often!

My brain is buzzing with the excitement of a new challenge, I have so much to read, searches to do, information to compile and a visit to Carlisle to plan, I can’t wait to get started…

Thomas KINGHORN, at last his parents are confirmed

25 Mar

My visit to the London Family History Centre today finally confirmed who were the parents of Thomas KINGHORN, my 3x great grandfather. It was a brief visit and my first time at an LDS Family History Centre, but the visit will probably go down as one of my most important research moments ever.

The answer was that Thomas’ parents were Thomas and Margaret KINGHORN, and he was baptised in St Cuthbert’s parish, Carlisle, Cumberland in 1808. I had suspected this for several months, but struggled to find proof, but I finally found it in the baptism registers (well, actually the Bishop’s Transcripts of the baptism registers).

Although Thomas was baptised in 1808, I started looking at the post-1813 baptisms for the same family (I had found the details in the International Genealogical Index but this didn’t give the father’s occupation). As I had the exact date from the IGI it was easy to wind through the microfilm to the correct place.

There it was, listed under occupation, the words I had been looking for: mail coach guard, this was a match for the father’s occupation shown on Thomas KINGHORN’s marriage certificate. My heart stopped (well perhaps not literally), my efforts had not been wasted, my hunch had paid off it was the correct family. As I stared at the entry many more questions rushed into my head, it was like one problem solved, and another dozen arrived to take it’s place.

I checked the rest of the film to see if there was a burial for Thomas, but there wasn’t, at least not between 1817 and 1828 in St Cuthbert’s. So I switched to another film, with the earlier registers on, I wanted to confirm the dates from the IGI were correct for the marriage and the baptisms of the other children.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pre-1813 baptism entries contained the same amount of information (if not more) than the later ones, something which seemed quite unusual to me, I am used to seeing just the date, child’s name and the parent’s name (sometimes just the father).

The entry for Abraham, baptised 10th June 1810, was packed with more information than I could ever have dreamed of, Abraham son of Thomas Kinghorn of Moffat of North Britain, late of the City of Carlisle, guard to the mail coach, and of Margaret his wife / late Sewell.

This gives me the green light to plan a trip to Carlisle to try and find out more (all I need now is a green light from my wife), and believe me there are so many more questions, such as why if they were living in Moffat, did they travel nearly forty miles to have their children baptised in Carlisle.

I also have visions of Thomas KINGHORN defending his mail coach from robbers and highwaymen, but perhaps that is just my imagination running wild again!

You know you are addicted to family history when….

25 Mar

You know you are addicted to family history when you take half a day holiday from work and spend £11.90 on a train ticket, to visit London so you can check two baptism records!

I’m sure there have been many posts like this on genealogy blogs the world over, but I think it is time to admit that I have a problem, I am addicted to genealogy.

The aim of my trip was to try and find out if my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN was baptised in Carlisle, Cumberland, England (yes, I still hadn’t found the answer to that one). I knew the records were at the London Family History Centre, and I had some other stuff to check if I had time or if my first search was negative, so it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.

So, it wouldn’t be a waste of time, but even to me in retrospect it seemed a little extreme or extravagant. This is why I think I am addicted, the need to be researching my family history is so strong now that I cannot last a week without visiting a record office!

I don’t think there is any way I can cure my addiction to family history, but I may be able to cut back on my consumption. So I am going to make a promise to myself and the blogosphere, that starting in April I will restrict myself to one record office/archive visit a month. There is plenty of research I can do without setting foot inside a record office, and it will give me an excuse to catch up with lots of sorting out I should be doing.

Besides, there are still five days  before the start of April!

What do to when the answer is miles away?

10 Mar

Now, I have an interesting dilemma, I am trying to find out where my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN was born. On the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census returns he claimed he was from Scotland, but searching online I have found no evidence of this.

Admittedly I have very little to go on, his date of birth works out at 1808 (give or take a year) and his father’s name was also Thomas and his father’s occupation was a mail guard, and that he died some time before 1850.

On the IGI (International Genealogical Index) I have found a likely family in Carlisle (just south of the border) but how do I prove this is the family? The IGI lists the baptisms of a number of children to Thomas and Margaret KINGHORN, a couple of which were after 1813, which should mean that the father’s occupation is recorded, and hopefully this will be mail guard! Of course if it isn’t that does mean he didn’t become a mail guard later in life, but it is quite possibly the only way I can prove a connection without a lot of in depth research on a family that might not be connected.

So my dilemma is how do I check the baptism register when it is up the other end of the country. Well surprisingly there are lots of options, however most of them are quite expensive.

  1. I could take a coach/train to Carlisle and visit the Carlisle Record Office, although there are cheap coach and train tickets, this seems a little extravagant (there  will be plenty of time to visit once I prove a connection).
  2. I could take advantage of the research service offered by Carlisle Record Office, but there appears to be a minimum of one hour, which could well be too much for my needs.
  3. I could try and find a research who would do the work for me at a cheaper rate, or perhaps come to some deal whereby I will guarantee future research if they check the baptism for me first.
  4. I could try and find some kind hearted soul who will do a lookup for me free of charge. Message boards and mailing lists would be a good place to start looking.
  5. Most sensibly I could request the microfilm of the baptism register at my local Family History Centre. Although there would only be a small charge there would quite likely be a while to wait for it to be shipped over from the US. Also my local FHC is not particularly convenient, so I would probably end up using the one in London, more cost.
  6. I could wait for the records to become available online, but there is no telling when this might be!

Ultimately however Google came to my rescue and I discovered the Northumberland & Durham Family History Society site (http://www.ancestral-indexes.co.uk/index.html) where they are selling copies of the baptism register on CD. I rushed and ordered a copy and paid through Paypal, I just hope it is a full transcription and has the answer I am looking for, in which case it will be a bargain at £6.50 plus 50p postage!

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