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The Nessworthys of Tyneside: Chapter 2. Brothers and Sisters
Part 1: The children of Matthew Nessworthy and Mary Ridley

by Alan D. Craxford, Anne Brooks and Linda Harper
with contributions by Margaret Curzon, Elizabeth Rutherford, Pamela Sharkey and Vincent Oliver


The first episode of this saga, The Nessworthys of Tyneside: Chapter 1: Matthew the mariner, examined the origins and life of Matthew Nosworthy the founder of the dynasty. Born in Devon in 1819, he moved to the North East of England where he spent his working life at sea, mainly skippering Tyneside colliers taking coal to the near continent. He was married twice and died on February 18th 1903.

This article will concentrate on his sons and daughters and this first part will look at the offspring he had with his first wife. One of the facts of life of Victorian and Edwardian Britain was that families tended to have many babies but at the same time infant and childhood mortality was shockingly high. Matthew's own family was large and those of the next generation demonstrated this trend as well. Each section below will give a resume of the facts about one of the children as currently known. We will keep a running total live births and premature deaths for each marriage that we know of as we proceed and present the grand totals at the end of Part 2. We will add a glossary at the end of the chapter where we will attempt to make sense of some of the archaeic medical terms which were used on the official certificates to explain away these deaths.

The children of Matthew Nessworthy and Mary Ridley

Matthew Nosworthy settled in South Shields in the early 1840s after which the surname appeared in virtually all documentation as Nessworthy or Nesworthy. He married Mary Ridley at St Hilda's Church on December 18th 1842. Despite his long absences on board ship, he and Mary were to have 10 children over the course of the next 23 years. Mary may have accompanied him as 'the Captain's wife' on a number of his journeys and she died in, as yet, unexplained circumstances in Hamburg, Germany on August 19th, 1866. It should be remembered that the care and supervision, particularly of the five youngest children, fell to their stepmother, Matthew's second wife.

Robert Ridley Nessworthy (1845-1910)

Robert was born on January 7th 1845 in South Shields. He became a carpenter and shipwright. He is known to have kept two families simultaneously in South Shields and North Shields. His life story, and that of his younger brother Ambrose, is told separately in the article The Nessworthys of Tyneside: Chapter 3: The Beverley Brothers

(Live births: 19 - Early deaths: 7)

James Ridley Nessworthy (1846-1894)

Shadwell Street

Shadwell Street looking across the Tyne to the High Light at North Shields (2)

James was born on September 28th 1846, the second of the sons of Matthew Nessworthy and Mary Ridley. As was his older brother Robert his surname was entered in the birth register as 'Nurseworthy'. The family home in Marshall's Quay, a narrow lane off Shadwell Street which wound its way down to the shoreline, was always bustling with activity. Although his father was regularly away from home, by the time he was ten years old, James was surrounded by grandparents, uncles and brothers. After he left school in his early teens, he became an apprentice mariner. One of his earliest postings as a fourteen year old was aboard the brig Rebecca Jane. This 215 ton vessel, which had been built in Jersey in 1838, plied the route between the Tyne and the Baltic ports carrying timber under its Master G V Smith.

In the summer of 1869, he and his younger brother Matthew had a brush with the law (1). They were part of the crew of the barque Scott, a 370 ton ship which had been built in Sunderland in 1852. They had put into the port at Great Yarmouth on a voyage between the Tyne and Point de Galle, Sri Lanka. When instructed by the Master Captain Laycklock to get ready to leave, the pair along with five other seaman, refused on the grounds that the barque was leaking and not seaworthy. They were charged with refusing to obey orders. A government surveyor was called who examined the Scott and declared it fit for ocean travel. All seven sailors were sentenced to twelve weeks hard labour.

After his mother died, James spent his shore leave with his uncle and aunt, John and Mary Jane Ridley at 2 Mount Terrace, South Shields. The house was two doors away from the home of the Anderson family. James married 21 year old Margaret Jane Anderson at St Hilda's Church on June 9th 1872. Margaret's older sister Elizabeth was one of the witnesses. Her father had died some years before and her mother ran a small grocery store. Margaret was heavily pregnant at the time of the marriage and gave birth to a son eight weeks later. They named him Robert.

Garden Lane South Shields
Garden Lane

Two views of the Garden Lane. LEFT: North towards Victoria Vale;
RIGHT: South towards Readhead Street. On the left is the entrance to Mount Terrace (3)

During the next decade whilst James continued to work away, Margaret's mother took over another shop in Charlotte Street. Margaret's brother George and her son Robert moved too. Robert attended the Union British School which stood on Garden Lane in the triangle between the gasworks, coal depot and railway embankment. The school was just around the corner from Mount Terrace. During his final year he became treasurer of the school's Woodhave Memorial Committee. In a letter to the local newspaper (4) he wrote 'we beg to hand you the sum of Three Pounds Twelve Shillings and Fivepence, being the amount subscribed by the boys of the school as a small tribute of respect to the memory of their fellow-townsman William Woodhave'. The newspaper also printed the full lists of subscribers - Robert himself pledged two shillings and sixpence. In the 1780s William Woodhave, the Clerk to St Hilda's Parish, was part of an initiative to design a lifeboat for the mouth of the River Tyne. The Woodhave Memorial (a clock tower and a replica lifeboat) was unveiled on Ocean Road in 1894. After he left school, Robert became a clerk. There is some evidence that he became a proficient amateur painter and became honorary secretary to the newly formed South Shields Art Club (5, 6) By 1891, Margaret had moved back to Mount Terrace to take charge of the shop again. This was a shortlived arrangement as the following year the house and shop were put up for sale. (7)

Union British School
Woodhave Memorial

LEFT: The Union British School, Garden Lane (3). RIGHT: The Woodhave Memorial (8)
The school was closed in 1900

SS Thurso

The Tyne Steamship Thurso (9)

Tragedy struck the family in early 1894. At the beginning of February, James took up a position as an able seaman on board the steamer Thurso. This 974 ton schooner rigged iron cargo ship was built at the Blumer & Company Yard on the River Wear at Sunderland. Originally launched as Eastella it started life on the Baltic run to Riga in Latvia. It was sold to the Wilson Line of Hull in 1886 when its name was changed to Thurso. (James younger brother Ambrose worked on one of the Wilson Line's sister ships Tasso for a time.) At the beginning of January 1894 it was sold to Thompson, Elliott & Co of Newcastle upon Tyne for the coal trade to Hamburg. The vessel left the Tyne on February 10th 1894 with a crew of 15 bound for Germany under the command of Captain George Hollingshead. It was never seen again. Some weeks later three bodies and some wreckage was washed ashore on the Danish coast of Jutland. James was 47 years old.

In 1897 James' niece Elizabeth (the daughter of his oldest brother, Robert Ridley Nessworthy) married Robert Aynsley. They moved into a house in Readhead Street which was to the south of Garden Lane. Robert was a journeyman joiner and established a thriving business. His builder's yard still stood at the end of Mount Terrace into the 1930s.

Mount Terrace 1
Mount Terrace 2

Two views of the Mount Terrace. LEFT: Looking west towards Garden Lane. Aynsley's Yard gates are at the end of the street.
RIGHT: Looking east towards Fowler Street (10)

Margaret survived her husband by over 30 years. In 1901 she moved to 28 Shortridge Street, a quiet street between Ocean Road and Dale Street close to South Marine Park. In October 1903 she had to attend Court to give evidence against barmaid Catherine Farilley (11). She had given Farilley a home at a time when she was in desperate need but Farilley had repaid her by stealing money and rings from her valued at £ 10. Farilley was sentenced to five years penal servitude for the offence.

Her son Robert married Kathrine Warden on December 12th 1898. He worked for a time as a tobacconist but then moved to North Shields where he was employed as a surveyor's clerk. They had a daughter they named Dorothy Edith in 1904. Margaret moved to North Shields too. She moved to 7 Ashfield Grove, North Shields where she finally died on January 27th 1926. In her will, proved on June 24th the same year, she left her effects valued at £ 341 to her son.

(Live births: 1 - Early deaths: 0)

Matthew Nessworthy (1849-1907)

1866 census

The 1861 England census
Mary at home with five young sons

Matthew was born in early 1849. He left formal schooling before his twelfth birthday. He was taken on initially as a boat builder's apprentice at a local shipyard alongside his older brother Robert. He did not stay in this position for long and soon moved away to sea. In 1869 he was involved in the incident aboard the barque Scott with his brother James which earned him twelve weeks hard labour.

Matthew married Elizabeth Morrison on May 28th 1878. The couple were residing at 73 Dale Street at the time of the ceremony. Elizabeth was the daughter of mariner Alexander Morrison and his wife Elizabeth. It is curious that she is described as a spinster on the marriage register as she had previously married Daniel Edgar Seal at St Stephen's Church on December 24th 1871. They had produced a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1873.

Matthew and Elizabeth had their first child, a son they named John Morrison Nessworthy, on February 27th 1879. By the time of the 1881 census, Matthew and his wife, son and step daughter Elizabeth Seal were living at 4 Charlotte Street, the household of Elizabeth's brother, Master Mariner Ivan Morrison. Also present was their now widowed mother. Three more children followed. Second son Matthew (who was also known as George) was born on September 9th 1882. Mary Isabella appeared on March 4th 1887 and second daughter Lily Maud arrived on October 17th 1889.

By the turn of the decade, the family had moved about half a mile south to Selbourne Street, not far from the gates of Westoe Cemetery. At the next census (1891), Matthew was away at sea. Elizabeth was at home with their four children as well as her own daughter who was noted on this return as Elizabeth Nessworthy (rather than her birth name Seal). Living with them was Elizabeth's 45 year old brother, Mariner John Morrison.

Ella Terrace

Ella Terrace (St Vincent Street) (14)
Note the double door Tyneside flat

Towards the end of the decade, the family moved again to Ella Terrace, a new development south of Mowbray Road and behind the Ingham Infirmary. When finished, the whole road was renamed St Vincent Street. Matthew junior found himself in trouble with the law in March 1899. He had attempted to obtain money by false representation from Elizabeth Alexander who lived in Lyndhurst Street (the next street to Selbourne Street) and from Isabella Ingram of James Mather Terrace. He appeared in court on March 22nd 1899 and was fined ten shillings with costs on both counts (12). He was taken to Court again on May 3rd 1899 charged with stealing 10 stones weight of oats from Thomas Thompson and two carriage lamps from Thomas Allen. The case was adjourned when local biscuit manufacturer Mr Wright promised to find him a job. It was also recorded that his mother was in Court and stated that she depended on Matthew's wages to keep the bailiffs out of the house. (13).

Another change of residence at the beginning of the new century saw the Matthew move to Dock Stairs on Wapping Street to join his brother Charles' family. At the same time, Elizabeth moved with her remaining children to Challenor Grove off Woodbine Street, which was due north of Westoe Cemetery. Matthew lived another seven years until he developed a chest infection in the autumn of 1907. He died on October 27th 1907. His death was registered by his oldest brother Robert Ridley Nessworthy. After his death, Elizabeth moved into a house in Bath Street with her bachelor brother and mariner John to become his housekeeper.

In 1900, their son, John Morrison Nessworthy, had enlisted as a sapper in the Royal Engineers. He had undergone training at Chatham but was discharged medically unfit after serving for less than one year. He returned to the North East and become a bricklayer. He died of pulmonary tuberculosis on September 27th 1913. Second son, Matthew, does not appear on the census return for 1901. However he enlisted in the Royal Navy and by November 1904 was working as a stoker. He was plagued with defective eyesight and was invalided out of the service in December 1907. He joined the merchant marine. He worked as a fireman on the vessels Guildhall and Semantha in the early months of 1909. Records show he was contracted at a rate of £3 15s. per month. At the end of each voyage he returned to his mother at Challenor Grove.

He was killed while serving on board SS Lonada which hit a mine and sank in December 1916. Matthew's story is told in the article For those in peril on the sea: Matthew Nessworthy (1882-1916). Daughter Lily Maud married Lawrence Waters in 1912 while Mary Isabella married Oswald Woodhouse in 1913. Matthew's widow, Elizabeth, survived him by over ten years, living on until the closing months of the first world war.

(Live births: 4 - Early deaths: 0)

William Nessworthy (1852-1910)

Matthew's fourth son, William, was born at Marshall's Quay in the spring of 1852. His story, and that of his younger brother Thomas Weightman Nessworthy, is told separately in the article The Nessworthys of Tyneside: Chapter 4: Gunslingers

(Live births: 15 - Early deaths: 9)

Isabella Nessworthy (1854-1856)

Isabella, the only daughter of Matthew Nessworthy and Mary Ridley, was born on December 22nd 1854. The baby girl was poorly from the start and she was baptised at St Stephen's Church, South Shields within a month. She was diagnosed as suffering from hydrocephalus (water on the brain) (15) for which there was no definitive treatment or cure. The condition was an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the skull which caused a rapid expansion of the girth of the head and increasing pressure on the brain. Her condition deteriorated and she died on June 15th 1856 aged sixteen months. She was interred at St Stephen's Church three days later.

Continued in column 2...

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John Ridley Nessworthy (1856-1880)

John Nessworthy was the fourth son to be born to Matthew Nessworthy and Mary Ridley. His birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1856. Interestingly his surname is spelled 'Nosworthy' in the Birth Index and is grouped with three other babies born in the south west of England and who were most probably his cousins (16).

After his mother died, he moved with his father and the rest of his young siblings, first to Garden Lane and then to Heron Street. In his early teens he became a mariner. On June 8th 1878 he married 19 year old Christina McClean. She was the daughter of mariner William McClean and Eleanor Thompson. They settled at 2 Wallis Street which was just around the corner from Garden Lane. Their son, William McClean Nesworthy was born on March 17th 1879 and baptised at St Hilda's Church three weeks later.

SS Ottercaps

The Steamship Ottercaps (17)
This vessel built in Sunderland was a similar size and construction to The Galeed

John was taken before the South Shields Police Court on February 10th 1880 having been arrested for being drunk and disorderly in the street the night before. He was fined 5s. with costs. A few days later he signed Articles of Arrangement at the North Shields Shipping Office to join the crew of the steamer The Galeed as a fireman. This was to be a six month placement with a first voyage bound for the Baltic. This 950 ton screw steamer had been built by James Laing at the Deptford Yard, Sunderland in 1870. The vessel left North Shields with a crew of 17 hands under the command of Captain W Lambert on February 23rd 1880 bound for Aarhus and Gothenburg, Sweden where it arrived on March 4th 1880. After loading up with a cargo of 1200 tons of iron The Galeed set sail for London March 11th 1880. It was never heard from again. A Board of Inquiry was convened in North Shields on May 4th 1880 when it was presumed that all hands had drowned. No evidence was offered for the cause of the accident but the Court considered that the cargo had not been properly stowed.

Six months after the loss of The Galeed, John's widow, Christina remarried on August 1st 1880 at Holy Trinity Church. Her new husband was steamboat man James Hudson. They set up home together with her son William and her widower grandfather Thomas Thompson in Wreken Dyke Lane (the same street where Robert, the brother of Matthew Nessworthy's first wife Mary Ridley had lived some years before). James and Christina Hudson had a daughter they named Elizabeth Ann in 1882.

William McLean Nesworthy followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a fireman on a steam vessel. He married Barbara Ford on Boxing Day 1898. They went on to produce nine babies. It is noted that this branch of the family still spells the surname with a single 's'.

(Live births: 1 - Early deaths: 0)

Ridley Nessworthy (1859-unknown)

There is an air of unexplained mystery about the life of Matthew and Mary's sixth son, Ridley Nessworthy. Ridley was born on April 10th 1859 and was baptised six weeks later on June 1st at St Hilda's Church. He is listed on the census return for April 1861, the youngest of the five boys resident at Marshall's Quay. After that there is nothing in the record to indicate what might have happened to him. He does not appear on future censuses and there is no marriage or death certificate to commemorate him.

There is, however, one other mystery in the archives which awaits a solution. The local newspaper (18) of Friday August 25th 1876 reported that a nineteen year old seaman, who was named as William Nessworthy, had been drowned while on a pleasure excursion with friends on one of America's Great Lakes. The boat had capsized throwing everyone into the water. All but William were saved.

Although there is no confirmation, the timeline of these two dates is very close. We have never been able to place a William of this age on our family tree. It is possible that Ridley called himself by another name as he grew. Although not on his birth certificate, could he in fact have been William Ridley Nessworthy? It is quite feasible that he would have become a mariner, like his brothers and uncles, and if so, could well have been involved in the timber trade between England and Canada.

Thomas Weightman Nessworthy (1861-1939)

Thomas was born in the Spring of 1861, the eighth of the children of Matthew Nessworthy and Mary Ridley. He was given his second baptismal name (apparently slightly mis-spelled) in honour of Thomas Wightman, the husband of his mother's sister, Barbara Ridley, who had married about five years before. After his mother's death, he too moved with his brothers first to Garden Lane and then to Heron Street. He too became an apprentice mariner. Along with his older brother William, his story is told separately in the article The Nessworthys of Tyneside: Chapter 4: Gunslingers

(Live births: 13 - Early deaths: 4)

Ambrose Nessworthy (1863-1915)

Ambrose was born on November 29th 1863. After a spell on the Training Ship Wellesley he became a mariner. He was married twice. Various aspects of his later life mirrored those of his older brother Robert Ridley Nessworthy and these have been explored in greater depth in the article The Nessworthys of Tyneside: Chapter 3: The Beverley Brothers

(Live births: 4 - Early deaths: 1)

Charles Nessworthy (1865-1950)

Mary Ridley's tenth and final child for Matthew Nessworthy was born on June 3rd 1865 (although St Hilda's Parish records show that he was not baptised until September 16th the following year). In his first few months in the parental home in Marshall's Quay Charles was surrounded by other young children. He had five older brothers aged 12 years and under. Robert Ridley Nessworthy, his oldest brother by 20 years, had married about three years before he was born. They were living in the same house and already had three children.

It is clear from various sources that the youngest childrens' early years were disrupted by a series of bewildering changes, and Charles' boyhood more so than most. His father was away at sea for much of the time, trips on which Mary, his mother, probably went too. Tragedy struck on August 19th 1866 when Mary died in as yet unexplained circumstances in Hamburg, Germany. Charles was not yet a year old. Initially, it is more than likely that Charles and the other toddlers would have been looked after by Robert and his wife, Elizabeth. Then, within a year his father had remarried and the family, including Charles and his four youngest siblings had been moved from Marshall's Quay to a new address in Garden Lane, South Shields.

Matthew Nessworthy returned to his voyages to Holland and Hamburg in Germany almost immediately. Charles' new step-mother does not appear to have been able to handle her new charges. She was pregnant at the time of the marriage and gave birth to a daughter in December 1867. Sadly the baby died within twenty four hours. In May 1868, the not yet three year old found himself and his four brothers abandoned and destitute on the streets of Exeter, over 350 miles from home. Matthew Nessworthy had to appear before the bench at the Guildhall in the town to plead for funds to help him return his children home. He could offer no explanation as to how or why Mary had done such a thing.

The family were moved again to Herron Street and by 1873 three more babies had arrived. That summer, the 8 year old Charles had seen his older brother Ambrose sent away to the Training Ship Institution in North Shields. Sometime towards the end of the decade, Charles ran away from home. He spent time living rough and moving backwards and forwards across the Tyne. In June 1880 he appeared before the Police Court in North Shields charged with begging in the street. He was remanded for reports but subsequently discharged when he promised not to offend again. He was arrested with two other teenagers following a series of thefts from shop premises in the centre of South Shields in February 1882. On pleasing guilty he was remanded in custody.

At some point during his early teenage years, Charles worked as a labourer's assistant at the glassworks on Coronation Street, South Shields. On October 30th 1882 he was arrested for begging in Thomas Street in the town. He appeared at South Shields Police Court before Mr E. Moore, the magistrate, who was also the owner of the glassworks. Charles said that he had left home three years before because his father was away at sea and he could not live with his stepmother. Mr Moore told Charles to report to the works to find some useful employment (20). He appears to have held down this job although he appeared before the bench again the following February. He had been picked up by the police with one of his workmates acting suspiciously in the Market Place at three o'clock in the morning. He was discharged with a warning.

Charles Nessworthy

Charles Nessworthy

His criminal career came to a head on November 11th 1883 when he was arrested in Linthorpe, Middlesbrough for stealing two pence from a shop till. He appeared before the Middlesbough Police Court when his previous convictions were disclosed. The Stipendiary Magistrate gave judgment that 'he could not measure the seriousness of the offence by the amount of money stolen. It was not the fault of the prisoner that he had not taken more, and he would have to go to prison for three months'. (19)

Union Stairs

Union Stairs: flight of 80 steps up from Liddell Street to Union Street: between Pandon Bank to the east and Green Man Bank and Magnesia Bank to the west.

On August 16th 1885 Charles married Margaret Johnson at St Peter's Church, Tynemouth. Margaret was the 17 year old daughter of barrel maker Thomas Johnson. She was of medium height with dark eyes and black hair. After the ceremony, they made their home initially in Pandon Bank, North Shields, at the side of the Black Bull Inn. This was one of several steep narrow stairways which wound their way up the escarpment through densely packed housing from Liddell Street. They did not stay in this abode for long as various records show that they moved house quite frequently. Their first daughter Margaret Anne, was born on May 25th 1886. The child died on December 12th the following year, her death attributed to tuberculosis. The place of her death was recorded as 7 Reed Street, North Shields which was adjacent to the dwelling of Charles' oldest brother Robert Ridley Nessworthy and family. During this time Charles was still working as a labourer in a glassworks. However he had not abandoned his previous tendancies entirely as he was charged with a breach of the peace in July 1886 by hawking draperies in Lovaine Place without a pedlar's licence. He was fined 5s. and costs.

A second daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born in 1888. After this, Charles moved the family to Milburn Street, Cowpen, a village ten miles north of North Shields near Blyth, Northumberland. His first son, Thomas Matthew was born there. At the time of the 1891 census they were sharing a house with Margaret's younger brother and sister. Charles was working locally as a labourer. One other curiosity is that Charles had declared his place of birth for this return as 'Hamburg'. Three more children were born whilst they were living in Cowpen: Hannah Orange on April 24th 1893; Jane Isabel on August 8th 1895 and Charles Henry in the winter of 1898.

Another, and perhaps unexpected, change of scene occurred before the turn of the century. On April 15th 1900, Charles and Margaret's third son was born in South Shields. The boy was baptised Ambrose Edward at St Stephen's Church in early June. The family, including their five young children, were still south of the river at the census of April 1901 in a house at Dock Stairs at the lower end of Wapping Street. Charles was employed as a mason's labourer. What was the reason for this apparent change of heart that saw this return 'home'? Charles may have felt more comfortable since his step mother had died a few years before. His father was now infirm and a resident in the South Shields Union Workhouse at Harton. The other curious detail appearing on this census return was that his older brother Matthew was lodging with his family. Further examination reveals Matthew's wife, Elizabeth, had moved to Challenor Grove with her four children where she was employed as a domestic housekeeper.

1901 census 1
1901 census 2

The 1901 England census returns for Charles Nessworthy and family and Elizabeth Nessworthy and family

The family's sojourn in South Shields was shortlived however. Margaret became pregnant again at the beginning of 1902 and before the date of her confinement, Charles had moved back across the river. He continued his masonery work. Albert Edward was born at 2 Phillipson Court on Reed Street North Shields on August 10th 1902. Very soon after this, the family moved back into familiar territory at 9 Reed Street. Their daughter Ann Josephine was born there on November 7th 1904. Another change of scene and job came about within the next twelve months. Charles became a labourer at the North Shields Chemical Works on East Percy Street to the west of the Pow Burn. This had been founded in 1888 by WS Corder to process fish guano into fertilizer. Expansions had added a blacksmith's shop, a medicinal oil processing room and a deodorising plant. Dispite this, the works were notorious for the pungent smells which pervaded the surrounding area.

They were able to celebrate the marriage of their oldest daughter Mary Elizabeth to labourer George Organ Thompson. He had spent his childhood at 7 Reed Street. Charles and Margaret's perambulations continued, having moved again from Reed Street, initially into Toll Square where daughter Emily Georgina was born on December 15th 1906 and then on to 3 East Percy Street. By the time of the census of 1911, Charles and Margaret had provided George and Mary Elizabeth Thompson with accommodation consisting of two rooms within their house. Mary Elizabeth had already given birth to two young daughters. Charles and Margaret's eleventh child, George, was born in the summer of 1911.

On July 20th 1914 she was approved for a certificate in pursuance of the Pedlar's Acts of 1871 and 1881 which allowed her to sell goods from door to door. Her certificate, number 72, was signed by J.H. Huish, the Chief Constable of the Borough of Tynemouth. Margaret died in North Shields during the summer of 1920. Charles lived on, finally dying in 1950 at the age of 85 years.

(Live births: 11 - Early deaths: 2)

Total this branch, carried forward ...

(Live births: 68 - Early deaths: 23)

..... the history continues

Proceed to Chapter 2. Brothers and Sisters. Part 2: The Children of Matthew Nessworthy and Mary Bainbridge

Further Reading

As well as the articles and source material indicated in the reference list, we recommend the following book for background reading.

North Shields steps

The book cover

North Shields: Stepping back in Time by Jack Shotton: Summerhill Books, Newcastle upon Tyne. 2010. ISBN: 978-1-906721-37-4. This thin volume creates a highly evocative picture of a town which has now all but disappeared. The author has researched and documented through old photographs, local maps and his own watercolour illustrations, the steep steps and alleyways which were all part of life for the inhabitants of North Shields a century ago. The town occupied the space between the river bank and the valley side. As buildings spread up the embankment, so stairs and banks were constructed to access them. All had descriptive names (Magnesia Bank, Post Office Stairs etc) and at one time the total reached 67. Some stairs had over 100 steps with branches leading into narrow landings and courtyards. A section entitled "Life on the Banks and Steps" states many families lived packed together on the banks most living four or five in rooms that were approximately 14 feet by 14 feet by 7 feet or smaller. Often 10 or more families shared one pant (tap) and no toilets. Most rooms had no windows or ventilation. Human waste sewage was often thrown into an open sewer and often overflowed to be trodden into houses. The smell permeated into the living accommodation and rats thrived on this sewage causing disease and death. The men at least could get a break from these terrible conditions when they were at work but the women had no reprieve: struggling to bring up a family, washing and cooking with no decent light or heat. There was little money to survive.


1. Police intelligence: Norfolk Chronicle August 14th 1869 British Library Newspaper Archive
2. 'A Drawing of Shadwell Street': Historic images of South Tyneside Southtynesideimages
3. 'Waterloo Vale looking into Garden Lane', 'Garden Lane', 'Union British School': Historic images of South Tyneside Southtynesideimages
4. The Lifeboat Fund £ 200 Wanted. Praiseworthy effort of school children: Shields Daily Gazette June 9th 1888 British Library Newspaper Archive
5. South Side Notes: The Art Club: South Shields Gazette May 15th 1901: British Library Newspaper Archive
6. 'Landscapes in oil (2nd prize): Loch Lubnaig' The Fine Art Exhibition at New Hartley: Morpeth Herald Saturday December 26th 1891. British Library Newspaper Archive
7. Properties for Sale: Classified Advertisements: Shields Daily Gazette October 24th 1892. British Library Newspaper Archive
8. Woodhave Memorial, South Shields: Old Postcards and Photographs of South Tyneside 1 Pictures of Gateshead and the Surrounding Area
9. SS Thurso: Blumer Ships Built at North Sands The Sunderland Site
10. Mount Terrace, South Shields Historic images of South Tyneside Southtynesideimages
11. 'Alleged Larcenies by a Barmaid' Saturday October 17th 1903 and 'Barmaid Sent For Penal Servitude' Friday November 20th 1903 Shields Daily Gazette British Library Newspaper Archive
12. False Pretences at South Shields: An Ingenious Youth: Shields Daily Gazette March 22nd 1899. British Library Newspaper Archive
13. 'Begging': Shields Daily Gazette October 31st 1882. British Library Newspaper Archive
14. Ella Terrace, St Vincent Street, South Shields: Google maps
15. Lifshutz, Jason I., and Johnson, Walter D., Division of Neurosurgery, Loma Linda Universoity Medical Center, California "History and Treatment of Hydrocephalus" Medscape Multispeciality
16. Nosworthy (Alfred, John Ridley, Mary Ann, Thomas William) Births: October - December 1856 England & Wales Civil Registration Indexes 1837 - 1983.
17. SS Ottercaps: Iron Collier built in Sunderland The Sunderland Site
18. 'A South Shields Seaman Drowned' Northern Echo August 25th 1876. British Library Newspaper Archive
19. 'Begging': Shields Daily Gazette October 31st 1882. British Library Newspaper Archive
20. 'Charges of theft at Middlesbrough' Daily Gazedtte for Middlesbrough. November 12th 1883. British Library Newspaper Archive

First added October 25th 2014

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