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

Our direct ancestors: John b 1743 and Margaret Hall 

John born 1743-? married Margaret Hall of The Storeys, Elsdon on 14 August 1776 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

‘Third generation’ the offspring of John Anderson and Margaret Hall

Our direct ancestors: Matthew  1784-1867 and Jane Wanless 1787-1841. The family moved to Ireland about 10 years after Jane died.

The other offspring of John and Margaret: Matthew’s siblings Elizabeth, Ephraim and John

Probable relations of  Margaret Hall: The Hall family

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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