England & Matthew

Northumberland, England

‘First generation’ John and Isabel Anderson

Our branch of the Anderson clan can be traced back as far as John and Isabel Anderson who were living at Clennell Mill in the 1730s. By 1758 they were at at Barra (now known as Barrow) Mill where the family were millers for the next 80 years or so. Both mills are near Alwinton in Upper Coquetdale in Northumberland, England, close to the border with Scotland.  It is likely that the ancestors of John, and perhaps Isabel came south over the border during the time of religious strife in Scotland during the 17th century.  The name John Anderson is so common in the area that we are unlikely to ever trace his ancestors.

Google map showing places in Northumberland and Scotland mentioned in this website

The River Coquet starts on the England-Scotland border, in the Cheviot Hills that rise to over 800 metres.  Although Alwinton lies at just 150 metres above sea level most of the surrounding land is over 300 metres and marginal farmland.  The Andersons would have run sheep on moorland that is now lies in the Ministry of Defence’s  Otterburn Army Training Estate.

 The historical importance of Barrow Mill and its Corn Drying Kiln

‘Second generation’ the offspring of John and Isabel

1.Our main line: John b 1743 married Margaret Hall of The Storeys,  Elsdon 

We can all trace our roots back to John and Isabel via their son John born 1743 and his wife Margaret and then their son Matthew (who went to County Mayo Ireland) and his wife Jane.

John born 1743  married Margaret Hall of The Storeys,  Elsdon who brought the name Ephraim came into the Anderson family. John and Margaret lived at Barrow Mill where their offspring were born.

There is an old family story, related by Isabella Deverell in a High School Essay c.1920 saying that Margaret Hall “.. was a frivolous and extravagant woman who destroyed her husband by causing him to lose his fortune.  Because of this Matthew, still a young boy, was forced to become a shepherd in the [Northumberland] mountains.  He became very frugal, painfully so, and he soon earned enough money to begin farming on his own. Soon he married Jane Wanless, and brought up a family to whom he gave the best education possible at that time, short of the great university. His religion was Puritan. Two of his six children, both girls died of typhoid fever, leaving four sons, John, Ephraim, George and Archibald.  In 1852 these four came to Ireland with their father, and settled in the west in County Mayo.”

Images of the essay, transcript and comments

John and Margaret had four children:

  • John born 1779,
  • Ephraim born 1781 who farmed at Silloans, where Matthew’s son John who went to Ireland was residing during the 1841 and 1851 censuses.
  • our direct ancestor Matthew  1784-1867 who went to Ireland, as described above
  • Elizabeth born 1786, who in 1810 married Gideon Pitloch.
  • It is my, Carolyn’s suggestion that there must be another daughter who married a Bolam as in his will Ephraim born 1781 who farmed at Silloans left money to his ‘nephew’ James Bolam and his ‘nephew’ John Bolam was an executor.   In 2016 no record of such a marriage or the baptism details of James and John Bolam have been found. In the English 1841 and 1851 censuses Matthew 1784-1867 who went to Ireland with his sons was with members of the Bolam family rather than his own offspring.

2. Matthew 1738 -? of Shittleheugh

In addition the descendants of Ephraim Anderson 1819-1893 and Mary Ann Anderson 1825-1890 have an extra link back to John and Isabel via their eldest  son Matthew. Matthew born c.1738 at Clennell Mill married  Eleanore Hunter of Hillocks in Redesdale.  Matthew and Eleanore and their family lived at Shittleheugh in Redesdale. Redesdale is a more fertile area than Upper Coquetdale around Alwinton. During the next few generations other members of  the family also made the 10Km or so move south to Redesdale including Ephraim born 1781 who farmed at Silloans. There are direct descendants of John and Isabel still living, some as farmers in Redesdale.

See Mary Ann Anderson page for her link with Matthew born c.1738 at Clennell Mill.

3. Other offspring of  John and Isabel includes

Eleanor 1731-? eldest offspring born at Clennell Mill. Eleanor married William Bollum whose extended family no doubt includes John and James Bolam mentioned above and in the Silloans page. Eleanor, Matthew and John probably had two sisters and two brothers.

Why did the family move to Ireland?

How did the brothers, who were born in a small building on marginal land in Northumberland hills come to be referred to as ‘gentlemen’ in County Mayo? After The Irish Famine Patrick Crean Lynch was one of the Irish landlords who deliberately cleared tenants from tracts of land to form large sheep grazing farms and looked for English and Scottish shepherds to manage their new concerns. At the same time in England Enclosure Acts were preventing small farmers from using areas of common grazing land, so adding to the difficulties for families like the Andersons to run viable farms. We do not know what finally triggered the brothers and their father Matthew move to Ireland, maybe just meeting a persuasive agent of Patrick Crean Lynch, but the main reason would have been to improve the quality of life for their families.

Who moved to Ireland? and their roles during and after the move.



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