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12 Jan 2012

A wellspring of descendants - all thanks to the right church

After Christmas 2011, I returned home. When I sat in my rooftop eyrie, back in the warmth, it was to my father's Tyneside ancestor I turned my bow.

I knew that Joseph Gibson married at St John the Baptist, Newcastle 1862, but I had no idea what had happened to his sister Annie born around 1840 in Westoe, South Shields, a taverner's daughter. Her dad kept the Waggoners Arms in Westoe.

It took me two years until today to guess that his older sister Ann had probably married at the same church two years earlier. I searched through all the marriages at the Newcastle register office website which were for Newcastle itself, with this thought in mind, and I found several entries where the all-important page number had been misindexed at freebmd. Ah-ha, Gibson to Edwards.

(Tidying up this article 6 years down the track, I can't remember how the Newcastle register office site actually helped. I think it might have listed spouses, or at least given the church? It certainly doesn't do that any more!)

Sure enough the certificate confirmed the marriage at St John the Baptist of Ann Gibson, innkeeper's daughter.

But that very evening, having fixed the mis-indexed page, I already knew Ann's marriage (to carpenter Edwards) was right. The censuses and childrens' names all stacked. I even found their great-grandson was a Newcastle cartoonist (Doug Smith). Then a photo online of Doug's daughter (below). I eventually got a letter back from her, only to find she was living about half a mile along an old railway line from my rooftop eyrie, over the blue barking night skies of London.

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