Matthew Anderson (1784-1857) had been born into a family of millers living at Barrow Mill, Alwinton in Upper Coquetdale in Northumberland.
There is a story written by Matthew’s great-great grand daughter in the 1920s saying:
“[His] mother 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 ….. 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 ….four sons John, Ephraim, George and Archibald. In 1852 these four came to Ireland with their father, and settled in the west of County Mayo.”
Jane Wanless’s father Archibald c1760-1815, a shepherd was born at Auchope near Kirk Yetholm, Scotland within 2 kilometres of the border with England. His daughter Jane was born at Barrow about 15 kilometres south of Auchope and in sight of Barrow Mill where Matthew Anderson was born. The three images below show:
- Auchope in its setting, the house is a Victorian shooting lodge
- the single storey part of Auchope probably existed when the Wanless family lived there, so is likely to have been where Archibald Wanless was born, and
- the third is of Barrow, as seen from Barrow Mill
Matthew Anderson and Jane Wanless
Matthew Anderson and Jane Wanless were married on 28 June 1810 at Alwinton and their eldest son John (Arthur Oram’s father-in-law) was baptised in 1811 away from Coquetdale at Birdhope near Otterburn.
Archibald b1815, Margaret b1817 and Ephraim b1819 were all born at Lounges Knowe on the northern side of Upper Coquetdale valley above Barrowburn. The baptismal records give their father Matthew as a shepherd. In 2018 there were just the foundation stones remaining but luckily old photographs have survived.
In 1879 a stone schoolhouse, now Barrowburn Camping Barn and a wooden schoolmaster’s house, now a holiday let were built close to the Anderson’s old home.
Matthew then moved further up the valley to Carshope where George b1823 and Jane b1829 were born. This may have given the family a better house to live in but due to a cobalt deficiency in the soil shepherds always struggled to make a living there [i]. Locally they were known as the “Muckle Andersons”.
Matthew’s wife Jane died in 1840 and the next year during the 1841 census most of the family were living at Carlecroft, higher up and on the opposite side of the valley.
Ten years later, in 1851 the majority of the family had dispersed into the local area:
- Matthew was living with the Bolams at Bickerton; Matthew had been with a Bolam in the 1841 census. I have not established a connection between the Andersons and the Bolams. Maybe an unidentified sister of Matthew married a Bolam or they were in-laws of Matthew’s brother Ephraim at Silloans.
- John, as in 1841, was at Silloans, near Birdhopecraig, with his Uncle Ephraim. In his will Ephraim left the farm to a member of the Bolam family who was also living at Silloans. John was soon to marry Margaret Stokoe, daughter of a shepherd.
- Archibald had married Jane Patterson and become a cattle salesman in Westgate, Newcastle.
- Ephraim had married his cousin Mary Ann Anderson in the Rothbury registration district during the last quarter of 1843. By the 1851 census they had five children and were farming 122 acres at Little Harle.
- George had married Catherine Lamb and was farming 380 acres at Old Town, Troughend.
- Margaret & Jane were “daughters to head of household” (ie Matthew) at Carlecroft with James Cowan(s). Jane and James were married at an unknown place and date.
Marriage of John Anderson and Margaret Stokoe
Before the family moved to Ireland John Anderson, on 30 April 1853 married Margaret Stokoe b1828, a shepherd’s daughter at Birdhopecraig Chapel to the west of Otterburn. In the 1851 census Margaret Stokoe’s parents lived at Bellshieldburnfoot while Margaret was working at Silloans where John Anderson lived.
County Mayo, Ireland
Within a few years of the 1851 census Matthew Anderson and most of his family moved to County Mayo with James Cowan(s). By then Matthew’s daughter Jane had married James Cowan(s).
Matthew and his offspring John and Margaret
Griffiths shows that Matthew & John occupied 284 acres of land, a house, an office, and two cottages at Barnagreggan, Parish of Mayo, rented from Geoffrey Martin, and sublet a further 7 other holdings of land and houses.
The house at Barnagreggan was called Brize (or Brees) House. There Matthew lived with his son John and daughter-in-law Margaret nee Stokoe. Matthew’s daughter Margaret lived in County Mayo later in her life so she too may have lived at Brize House.
John and Margaret’s six daughters were born at at Brize House:
- Catherine 1854-1920 married Arthur Oram 1853-1919 in 1881 and lived at Wilford Lodge for the rest of their lives
- Jane 1855-c1910 married Andrew Dowie Hardie 1849-1923 and was farming in Iowa, USA by 1887. Jane was usually referred to as ‘Mrs Hardie’.
- Isabella “Bella”1858- married Robert Dick ?-1887 in 1884 and lived at Mullaun near Newport for the rest of her life.
- Mary 1859-1943 lived at Knockroe in 1887 then in the early 1930’s moved to Mosney, Co Meath. In 1898 Mary married her cousin James Cowan 1856-1936 who was the son James Cowan and Mary’s aunt Jane Anderson.
- Margaret “Maggie” 1861-after 1945 lived at Knockroe in 1887 and also spent part of the year in Edinburgh. Between 1933-c1944 Maggie lived at Mosney and in Edinburgh. Maggie probably died in Edinburgh after her friend Jo Weddell nee Hunter died there in 1945.
- Anne “Annie” b1862-after 1945? lived at Knockroe in 1887. Annie may have also spent time in Edinburgh with Maggie. Annie moved to Mosney in 1933. Annie does not feature in many photographs so it is difficult to know when she died as she may have been the photographer.
Deaths of Matthew and John Anderson and the move to Knockroe
Matthew died at Brize House in 1867 and his son John died in 1874 when he was living at “Mayo Cottage”, Knockroe about 2Km south of Mayo Abbey .
As James Cowan(s) ‘senior’, see below had moved back to England by the 1871 census he may have left his eldest son James Cowan ‘junior’ to work for John Anderson. John Anderson died when James Cowan ‘junior’ was about 19 years old. No doubt James took over running the farm and the responsibility of maintaining a home for John’s sister, widow and unmarried daughters. By 1887 John’s widow Margaret, his sister Margaret, three unmarried daughters and James Cowan junior had moved within the townland to “Knockroe House”.
If this is what happened then it could explain the marriage of James Cowan ‘junior’ and his cousin Mary Anderson very soon after the death of Mary’s aunt Margaret Anderson. Marriage would be an easy way of transferring property from the Anderson sisters to their cousin James Cowan.
Note and source:
Patrick Butler has kindly shared the information that “Mayo Cottage” was enlarged in the 1940s and is now called “Ivy Cottage”.
Ephraim and George:
Ephraim and George are mentioned in Griffiths as renting at least 1,000 acres of land in Tagheen, County Mayo from Patrick Crean-Lynch.
According to a very distant family source, a descendant of herdsman John Young, Ephraim and George were described as “Northumberland gentlemen” and that “it was highly likely that John Young was recruited by the Andersons, recognising him as a typically reliable Northumbrian Presbyterian herd”.
Ephraim and Mary Ann move into Hollybrook House, Boleybeg and lived there for the rest of their lives. In Arthur Oram’s diaries there are very brief references when he met Ephraim and Mary Ann’s six offspring:
- Matthew b1843
- Elizabeth b1845 married Thomas Honeyman “a Revenue man”
- Jane b1847 married Joseph Robinson who farmed in North Northumberland
- Robert b1848 who may have married Mary Bole
- Mary b1850 who married John Rochester
- John, born in Co Mayo c.1860. John, in the 1901 & 1911 Irish censuses was living at Hollybrook House with his wife Clara. They had no offspring.
George married Catherine Lamb, as shown in the record of Elizabeth Anderson’s birth 6 Feb 1865 in Claremorris.
It is thought that George and his wife Catherine lived at Hollybrook House before emigrating to West Virginia, USA. The 1880 US census shows that George and Catherine were living with seven offspring all of whom had been born in Ireland between 1855 and 1866. The 1900 US census gives the year of their arrival in the USA as 1874.
There is no evidence that Archibald went to Ireland with his father, though various family sources suggest that he was in County Mayo for a while. There was an Archibald Anderson, cattle salesman living in Westgate, Newcastle for the 1851, 61 & 71 census returns with wife Jane Anderson and their son Mathew Thomas. Matthew was born on 17 September 1850 and on his birth certificate Jane’s maiden name is given as Patterson. In 2013 there is no sign of them in 1881 & 91 census returns.
Family sources suggest Archibald was at Three Mile Bridge, close to Westgate so, although no record of Archibald and Jane’s marriage had been found by November 2013, it is highly likely that this Archibald was one of the brothers.
On 29 Aug 1893 Arthur Oram received a “telegram announcing death of Archibald Anderson” and attended the funeral at Hollybrook on 31 Aug but does not specify the graveyard. This is the only mention of an Archibald Anderson in Arthur Oram’s diaries. It is not known if he was living at Hollybrook or just visiting.
Jane Anderson and the Cowan family
Jane Anderson 1829-? married James Cowan or Cowans 1827-1907 who was at Carlecroft, the Anderson’s home in Northumberland for 1851 census. There are no James Cowan(s)s in Griffiths so we do not know where they lived but the birth of James in County Mayo in 1856 does back up the family story that James Cowan(s) moved to County Mayo with the Anderson family.
By the 1871 census James, a shepherd and Jane had returned to Northumberland with Matthew, Jane, Eleanor, John and Hector though some of the given places of birth are at odds to the entries in the national register of births. James and Jane could be the couple who appear in the 1901 census returns in Northumberland when their dates and places of birth are correct and James gives his occupation as ‘retired coal miner’.
James & Jane Cowan’s six children:
- James who was born in Co Mayo in 1856 (Irish census). To confuse matters James married John and Margaret Anderson’s daughter Mary b1859 in early 1898. No offspring. At the time Arthur Oram’s diaries start in 1887 James lived at Knockroe.
- Mathew born c1861, Co Mayo (1871 census), who went to Canada.
- Jane, born in Westport, Co Mayo c1863 (1871 census), married John W Rotherford (Rutherford in Arthur Oram’s diaries) farmer in Northumberland.
- Eleanor who was born in Ireland in 1865 (UK census), married Tony Oliver and lived in Northumberland. All their offspring emigrated to North America.
- John was born on 11 September 1866 in Claremorris, Mayo. Knockroe is close to Claremorris. John later went to Idaho.
- Hector who also went to Idaho was born on 5 June 1869 in Church Hill, Donegal.
Census and birth, marriage and death references and details from ancestry.co.uk
[i]MOD’s book “‘Then & Now’ A snapshot of Otterburn Training Area”. No ISBN.