Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Woodsman of Hollywell Reins ...

This morning was to be devoted to Other Things, but I came upon this chappie and strayed to Northumberland ...

The vendor classed the photo as circa 1860. I guessed, a wee bit later? 

Well, the picture is faultlessly inscribed on the verso: T White, woodman, Woolsington. Well, Woolsington was, in the 19th century a pretty small township --  so I assumed this would be easy. Seventy-four inhabitants in 1841, 65 in 1861, 75 in 1891 and this last including the, then, ten servants at the big house, looking after the lords of the manor, the Bell family .. who were some half-dozen ... plus gamekeeper, woodsmen ... of which Thomas White was one. And was for something like a hundred years. Because they were three: father (b 13 December 1806; d 1867), son (b 16 April 1837; d 1902) and grandson (b 26 July 1868; d 1941). Seems like the job was hereditary. And maybe the home, too. Hollywell Reins. The Whites occupied it for at least sixty years ... 

They were, of course, employees of the Bell family, and father, alone, from his early teens, to his death, nearly half a century later

But the White family found their way into the local newspapers for more just than the odd court case -- witnessing against poachers on Mr Bell's land -- for they had a talent with more than just a pick and a saw. They grew flowers. And Mr Thomas White (sr or jr) was frequently to be seen at the Ponteland, Kenton or other Horticultural gatherings, carrying off first prize in the Cottagers Section -- or even the all comers section -- for his geraniums, his roses or his calceolaris

Even little Simon (1840-1861) scored with his wildflowers ..

On a rare occasion, one of the family married into the farming class ..

I think it fairly likely that our photo is Thomas II ... maybe about the time of his marriage to Matilda Cook .. so the vendor would be right, 1860s.

Anyway, here are the Thomases of Holywell Reins (variously classed under Newburn, Woolsington, Dinnington, Newbiggin):

I: 1802-1867. Married Hannah Marquis. Children Mary Bell, Hannah, Thomas and Simon 
II: 1837-1902. Married Matilda Cook. Children William, Margaret, Thomas, Hannah M, Mary Elizabeth, Matilda, Annie and a Frederick Charles who died as a baby
III: 1868-1941. Married Ann Isabella Riddell. Children Thomas, John, Walter Riddell, Martin

Looking at the map, I see that Woolsington has a 'Holywell Grove'. Maybe the White's home is buried thereunder. It looks very 1960s ...

I imagine it also, now, has more than 75 inhabitants.

Mathhew Bell's beautiful home ...

with its forestland, that the Thomases tended, passed into the unsympathetic hands of biggish business, until it was 'accidentally' largely destroyed by fire ... 

And to think that, before today, I had never heard of Woolsington ...


Unknown said...

I actually live in the house that was Holywell Reins built in 1860 on the main Road between Ponteland and Newcastle.
It is now split into two houses, Emblehope formerly Reins Cottage and Woodlands.
Ian Simpson


Great! I love it when one of my blogs finds it's 'natural home'! If you could send me a Today photograph, I could add it to the article!

Bestest, Kurt. (ganzl@xtra.co.nz)