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Descendants of John Fawcus, Warkworth, Northumberland 1698-1772


Generation No. 1:


JOHN FAWCUS was born about 1698, and died 3 June 1772 in Hope House, Amble. Amble was at the time part of Warkworth Parish, Northumberland.  He married DOROTHY BULLOCK, daughter and heiress of GEORGE BULLOCK of Amble. David and Hodgson  (1890) in their Monumental Inscriptions, say the manor house of Amble was in Bullock hands from 1630. Dorothy, born 1708, and died 12 December 1796, brought Hope House into the marriage. Both Bullocks and Fawcuses were freeholders of Warkworth, with voting rights, and holding from time to time parish offices. David & Hodgson also say that the Fawcuses farmed Amble Hope for many years, but farm land does not seem to have passed to John and Dorothy’s  grandchildren. Pending further investigation, they seem to have been small free holders, with strips in the common fields. We find their younger son John moving around as a large-scale, prosperous, tenant farmer.


John Fawcus and Dorothy had three children, according to the Warkworth Parish Records, microfilm,  Bolbec Hall, Newcastle. These were


i.         MARGARET2 FAWCUS, b. 1731; who married. THOMAS BREWIS, 1 June 1754, Warkworth

ii.        ROBERT FAWCUS, b. 1732; d. 16 February 1814, Amble.

iii.      JOHN FAWCUS, b. 1748, Hope House, Warkworth; d. 10 January 1824.


Generation No. 2: John Fawcus senior, a successful farmer with many descendants


The elder son, ROBERT FAWCUS, born 1732, has left little mark. The Warkworth Parish Records, then written in Latin, record him as filia Johannes Faulkes de Hop Houses. He died 16 February 1814 in Amble, aged 82, a few days after putting his mark to a will leaving all he possessed to his brother John Fawcus, of Emerside Law, Chatton.  The parish register has the baptism of Margaret, daughter of Robert Fawcus of Warkworth on March 25 1787, but it seems he had no living child or widow to remember when he died. He may have failed to sign his will because he could not write, or because he was too feeble to do more than make a mark. He described himself in the will as Robert Fawcus of Amble, formerly of Amble Hope House, which suggests he no longer possessed the property. David and Hodgson (1890) record that in 1890 the house still stood “massively built, with heavy grey slates”. This may have been built in the 1760s, as Aln (1945) says the original farmhouse was burnt down in 1759, and replaced by a modern one nearby.


JOHN FAWCUS was born 1748 in Hope House, many years later than his siblings, but the Parish register shows him clearly as Johannes, filius Johannes Fawkes de Hope Houses, and his brother’s will confirms the relationship. He died 10 January 1824, according to the Fawcus tombstone in Warkworth. He married ALICE GIBSON 25 January 1782 in St Michaels and all Angels, Felton, (Marriage Register, Morpeth Record Office), when she is described as “of the parish of Lesbury”. (Marriage Register, Morpeth Record Office).She died 7 May 1839, aged 81according to the Fawcus tombstone in Warkworth David and Hodgson  (1890).


This JOHN FAWCUS will hereafter be called John senior. He was probably reasonably educated, since the Reverend Andrew Sharp was such a good friend that John made him one of his trustees in his will. Andrew Sharp was his parish priest, the curate of Bamburgh Castle. The castle was noted for the library collected by Sharp’s father and grand-father. John may also have been hot-tempered, as in 1772, aged 26, John Fawcus of Hope Houses, husbandman, was convicted of an assault by the Northumberland Quarter Sessions. By 1781 he was sufficiently respected to be appointed to a parish office. 


John and Alice had 13 children, of whom 10 seem to have survived to adulthood. The first two children were born in North Acton, in Felton, where they had married. This was some 7 miles south west of Warkworth. The others were born in Newham, Bamburgh Parish, Northumberland (St Aidan Parish registers, Bamburgh, Morpeth Record Office). They were:

i.         JOHN FAWCUS, b. 25 August 1782, North Acton, Felton, Northumberland; d. September 1856.

ii.        DOROTHY FAWCUS, b. 12 April 1784, christened at  St Michaels and all Angels, Felton.

iii.      ROBERT FAWCUS, b. 29 May 1785, Newham, Northumberland; died c 1819 (ancestor of Mary Tiffen and Joan Eager).

iv.      ELIZABETH FAWCUS, b. 15 October 1786, Newham.

v.       ALICE, baptised 13 March 1788 – and presumably dying soon after.

vi.      ALICE FAWCUS, b. 13 April 1789, Newham.

vii.    GEORGE FAWCUS, b. 6 December 1790, Newham, d. 19 February 1837, North Shields.

viii.   THOMAS FAWCUS, b. 6 August 1792, Newham, d. 4 January 1793, Newham, Bamburgh Parish, Northumberland. He was buried in Bamburgh, and has a tombstone which shows he died aged 7 months (Bamburgh monumental inscriptions, Berwick on Tweed record office)

ix.       THOMAS FAWCUS, b. 2 October 1793, Newham, m. ANN WRIGHT, 4 June 1811, Embleton.

x.        JANE FAWCUS, b. 21 August 1797; m. JOHN BONNET COLVILLE.

xi.       HENRY FAWCUS, b. 3 February 1800, Newham, d. 11 November 1867, Stockton. .

xii.     WILLIAM FAWCUS, b. 23 May 1801, Newham,


In 1785, John took a lease of a farm in Newham, a hamlet of Bamburgh, Northumberland, belonging to John Blackett Esq . It was sold to the Duke of Northumberland in 1789, John Fawcus thereafter becoming the Duke’s tenant.  Mackenzie (1825) described Newham in 1824 as follows:

Newham 4.5 miles s by w of Bambrough contains 2 farm holds, a respectable pub and 25 other houses. Newham New Houses and Newham Barns, two farms about a mile north from the village; Hen Hill, about the same distance west, and Newsteads, another farm a mile and a half to the sw all belong to the Duke of Northumberland.

In John’s time the chief town and market of the large parish of Bamburgh was Belford, and another settlement was Budle. One of John’s daughters married a man from Belford, and a Mr Smith of Budle was another trustee in his will, so their social network was parish-wide.


The contract books in Alnwick castle show that Blackett had granted a lease to John Fawcus to hold from May day 1785 for 21 years at “a yearly rent of £345 free and clear of all taxes, charges and assessments whatsoever (land tax only excepted)”. This suggests it was free of burdensome tithes. The covenants and farming practices to be followed were:

1.        4 full fodders of clod lime upon every acre of fallow

2.        Not to take more than 2 crops of corn or grain off any of the said tillage land after such fallowing, liming and manuring till the same be again sufficiently fallowed limed and manured …

3.        Manure and compost to be spread. Hay and straw not to be sold off but consumed by stock to produce manure.

4.        No potatoes, mustard or rape seed to be planted, except potatoes for consumption of family and servants

5.        Every year 354 roods at the least of quickset for hedges to be planted.

6.        To take corn for his own use to the mill at Newham, provided the miller takes no more than the accustomed mulcture. (The mill was  tenanted by one Joseph Gibson, possibly a relative of his wife, Alice,  and was also purchased by the Duke from Blackett).

7.        If he intends to lay a field to grass, to take only one corn crop after fallowing, and then sow with sufficient quantities of good clover and hay seed – but not in the last 6 years of the lease.


These farming conditions were not unusual for the time in Northumberland. While some farms in the county were small, as in Warkworth and further south, the north tended to have large farms and became noted for good farming. Bailey and Culley (1805) note that in Glendale and Bambrough the farms were large, let at from £500-£1500 p.a. They calculated other farming costs at £2-0-6d per acre on good lands.  “The capital necessary for such farms entitle [the farmers] to a good education, and give them a spirit of independence and enterprise, that is rarely found amongst the occupiers of small farms and short leases”. Such men were ready to try new experiments, and many travelled to get new ideas, for example on new machinery coming into use at the time. “Scarcely a year passes without some of them making extensive tours for the sole purpose of examining modes of culture, or purchasing or hiring the most improved breeds of stock, and seeing the operations of new-invested and most useful implements”. Bailey and Culley also describe the hedging process - the creation of “earth mounds at base of which and on edge of ditch of which are planted the quicks”. It is apparent that John would have employed considerable labour, some on a full-time basis, and others as needed. Bailey and Culley say the full time labourers were often paid partly or wholly in kind, worth about worth £18.11.0d p.a. They were bound also to find a woman labourer for casual work - she got for harvest 6d. per day, and for hoeing 4d, later 6d. (This refers to the 1790s and then  the early 1800s).  The corn was cut by sickle – 7 women were needed per acre, plus a man for binding.


Marketing required skill. Bailey and Culley said that prices differ between local markets. In northern parts, where John was, they were amongst the lowest in the kingdom, because the produce was greater than locally needed. Hence, corn was exported from Berwick, Alnmouth, etc. The price of butchers’ meat was more equal to the rest of the country as stock could be driven. Belford, Wooler and Alnwick were important for the sale of corn, sold by sample for exports. On Wednesdays, Morpeth had a livestock market. Berwick dealt in both corn and meat. The 1833-50 diaries of William Brewis, a similar large scale farmer in Northumberland, who lived a little later, give some idea of the lifestyle of a man like John Fawcus. They describe visiting diverse markets and hiring fairs, following the hounds, dining with leading members of the community, and  the interaction between farmers, local landowners and business men in the vicinity (Foster 2003). We can imagine John riding around, and socialising with relatives and neighbours, to get the best information on where to sell. Marketing was all the more difficult as weights and measures differed in different places, causing, Bailey and Culley say, confusion. However, these authors also note that the union of stock and tillage enabled farmers to pay high rents, livestock being equal if not more important than crops. The rent of rich pasture land could exceed that of arable.


John began farming in Newham at a fortunate time. The period 1780-1813 saw rising prices and rising rents, but John had a fixed rent till 1806. Demand for corn was outstripping production as the population grew and became more urban, but the Napoleonic wars often cut off continental supplies. The prolonged rise in prices stimulated great interest in agricultural improvements and in new machines and new crops, in enclosures and drainage, documented by authors such as Arthur Young, and led by some of the great landowners, such as Coke of Holkham Hall, Norfolk. While there were several financial crises, ruining investors in country banks, those who had their capital in land or farming equipment did well {Ernle 2005 50 /id}.


Leaders in agricultural progress were the Culley brothers, who farmed in Fenton, some 20 –25 miles from Newham, and who made profits from farming of £4,500 in 1801 (McCord 1979). If John did even half as well, he would have had an income that would have pleased Jane Austen’s heroines. He may well have know George Culley’s son, Matthew, who purchased Fowberry Tower in 1807, not far from Amerside Law, Chatton, where John probably farmed with his eldest son from 1812. George was proud of his son’s  “palace” when he reflected that less than 50 years before he himself had driven a coal cart. His success demonstrated the potential existing for enterprising farmers at the time. Mackenzie says  “in propriety of manners, elegance of dress and good living the farmers are little inferior to the opulent inhabitants of towns”. This applied particularly to the great farms of the north. “Farmers did well in the war, and suffered less than other parts of England after it, as the poor rate continued reasonable due to the coal industry”.


John senior probably moved on the expiry of his lease to Glantlees, Felton, as his daughter Alice is described as “of this parish, on her marriage there to George Cornfoot in 1808. He was probably farming in association with his eldest son, and managing more than one farm. Item 8 on p. 127 of the Duke’s HI 9/8 contract book shows “John Fawcus the younger” of Newham, taking a lease of Hall and Barn Farms in Newham, 500 acres, for a rent of £750, for 1 year and then year to year from Lady Day 1808. The covenants of the lease, as normal, included that the farmer was to live on the farm, and observe certain farm practices such as manuring and liming, but, being only for one year, it did not impose any improvement works. Four years later, on Lady Day 1812, John Fawcus of Newham took a lease of the larger Amerside Law farm in the parish of Chatton, 1118 acres at clear yearly rental of £200 for first seven years, £350 for next seven, and £540 for the last seven. The contract was signed John Fawcus junr , the bond being signed by himself, John Fawcus the elder of Glantlees (Felton), and Geo Cornfoot of Shawdon Hill [near Warkworth]. The long lease, which at this time was less common, may have been because “The tenant engages within the first five years of the said term to expend to the satisfaction of his Grace’s agents one thousand pounds in draining, fencing and other permanent improvements upon the said farm”. It would have been politic to put a long lease in the name of the younger John, especially one requiring the expenditure of £1,000. John senior  remained strongly associated with it, describing himself in his 1822 will as John Fawcus of Amerside Law, farmer. He is also so described in the 1814 will of his brother Robert. As we shall see, John junior had yet another farm.


John senior’s will, made a will on 22 July 1822 shows great concern for his wife and daughters. Unlike landowners, who passed most of their estate to the eldest son, farmers valued all their children, who all contributed to the networks and contacts that helped the family flourish. His first bequest is “unto my dear wife Alice Fawcus all my household goods and furniture plate china linen and woolen to and for her own use and benefit”. He goes on to say he has already sufficiently provided for his sons John Fawcus George Fawcus and Thomas Fawcus, so he bequeaths to his executors and administrators, (his wife Alice, his son John, the Reverend Andrew Sharp of Bamburgh, clerk, G(?) Smith of Budle Esquire and Thomas Tate of Bankhouse  “my two Leasehold dwelling houses situate and being at Limehouse in the County of Middlesex numbered 5 and 6 in trust ………. for my daughter Elizabeth Brown (Wife of John Brown of the City of London,  House Carpenter) and … after her decease  … dwelling house numbered 5 in trust for the said John Brown and his assigns during the term of his natural life,  and …dwelling house numbered 6 in trust for Alice Brown daughter of my said daughter Elizabeth Brown” . He also left his grandson George Cornfoot £100 and his granddaughter Alice Brown £200. To his daughter Jane Colville he left £200. Having catered for his daughters, he looked to his remaining sons. He left his son Henry Fawcus £500, with the same sum to be divided between his grandchildren John Fawcus and Robert Fawcus,  “sons of my late son Robert Fawcus”. However, none of these legacies were to be paid out till the “decease of my said wife Alice Fawcus”. Alice was also to receive his “freehold Messuage tenement or dwelling house situate at Amble”. As to his “fourth part or share of and in the Leasehold Corn Tithes of the Township of South Charlton” that also should not be sold during Alice’s life. All his “farming stock and crops and implements of husbandry ready money and securities for money and all the residue and remainder of my goods chattels and personal estate and effects ….  (except my said household Goods and furniture  plate china linen and woolen and my said two Leasehold dwelling houses)  were left to his executors to meet his funeral expenses and debts, the remainder to be put at interest in the Public funds or upon call or good personal security or securities , from which “in the first place to pay unto my son William Fawcus for and during the term of his natural life an Annuity or yearly sum of forty pounds …and in the next place to pay and to apply the interest and dividends of  the sum of  six hundred pounds….to my daughter Dorothy Barber (wife of John Barber of Belford) and her assigns for and during the term of her natural life” and subsequently to her children. Upon further trust to pay and apply the interest and dividends of the like sum of six hundred pounds of like lawful money unto my daughter Alice Cornfoot” and subsequently to her children. After Alice’s death, any remainder was to be divided between his six children John Fawcus, Dorothy Barber, Elizabeth Brown, Alice Cornfoot, George Fawcus and Thomas Fawcus, but there was not be sufficient for all the legacies, these should be proportionately reduced.


On the 6th January 1824 he added a codicil. This provided that Dorothy Barber should receive “all or any part of the said sum of six hundred pounds at such time or times and in such manner an my said trustees in their or his discretion shall think proper, the same to be paid to her own proper hands for her own sole and separate use and benefit and without being subject or liable to the control debts or engagement of my said son in Law or any future husband and I direct that her own receipt notwithstanding her coverture shall be a good and sufficient discharge to my said trustees for the said sum of six hundred pounds….. any part she had not received to be held in trust after her decease for her children.


One wonders what Dorothy’s husband had done to merit the terms of the codicil! The small legacy to William was perhaps because he was handicapped. Henry, the second youngest son, only received £500 and is not listed as a recipient of the final division “amongst my six children”. Robert’s widow, Ann, whom Henry married in June 1825) is not mentioned.  Was an element of disapproval present in the will?


He died shortly afterwards on January 10th 1824, aged 76, “sincerely regretted by his family and friends” {David & Hodgson 1890 48 /id}. The same stone at Warkworth memorialises Alice, widow of the above, who died May 7 1839 aged 81.


Generation No. 3: Sons and daughters of John senior  and Alice


1. JOHN FAWCUS was born on 25 August 1782 in North Acton, Felton, Northumberland , and died in September 1856 (Source: Gravestone, Embleton.).  He married JANE ERRINGTON 17 December 1808 in Christ Church Tynemouth (Source: Marriage Register, Christ Church Tynemouth, Morpeth Record Office.).  She was born about 1786, and died 1876 in South Charlton (Source: Gravestone, Embleton.). John and Jane are known to have one son, GEORGE FAWCUS, b. about 1810; d. 1859, Embleton.


John , as we have seen, was a farmer like his father. By 1815 a bond for his brother Thomas shows he had a farm at Dunstan Steads, in Embleton Parish, probably owned by Lord Tankerville, lord of the manor and owner of most of its land. The will suggests his father provided the initial capital for this. John Fawcus of Dunstan Stead was one of the subscribers to Mackenzie (1825). He presumably also farmed the Amerside Law farm, referred to above, after his father died, of which the lease expired in 1833. In 1832 John Fawcus (once the younger, but now the senior member of this branch of the Fawcus family) took a lease of another of the Duke’s farms, Long Lee and part of Bog farm in South Charlton, from Lady Day, year to year, at a rent £580m, consisting of 820 acres. He is then described as of Amerside Law. A hand-written addition to the standard lease notes “The Game being reserved to the Landlord”. The rent remained the same. The bond, for £1160, was signed by John Fawcus of S. Charlton, farmer, Joseph Graham of Alnwick, bookseller, and Henry Fawcus, of Stockton on Tees, broker and ship-builder, for £1160. This Henry Fawcus was John senior’s youngest son (see below). It shows that Henry remained on good terms with his much older brother. John Junior renewed his lease in 1849, at a rent £620, tithes £120.15, 770 acres, of lands commonly called South Charlton or Long Lee farm. The farm buildings included an engine house and boiler, (so he had moved into steam threshing), and two privies. There were 383 acres old grass and 378 acres of tillage. In 1848 he had requested a valuation of its present worth (Long Lea and Bog farms, present rent £579). This was probably part of the negotiation of a new rent. The bond was signed by his son, George Fawcus of Dunstan Steads, and two others.


The gravestone which George Fawcus erected in Embleton shows that John, referred to as the grandfather of George’s daughters, died in South Charlton in 1856. He would have been aged 74.


2 DOROTHY FAWCUS, she of the codicil, was baptised in Felton on 17th April, 1784 and married John Barber, a farmer.


3. ROBERT FAWCUS, John’s second son, and ancestor of Mary Tiffen, was born 29 May 1785 in Newham, Bambrough Parish. He died about 1819. As yet, we have no details of how, where or when he met his death. Hereinafter, he is referred to as Robert senior, and his younger son as Robert junior.


Robert senior was described as of North Shields when he married, on 15th April 1814 in St Olave's, Southwark, ANN EVANS, of this parish, (Source: Marriage Register, St Olave's, Southwark. She was aged 20, still a minor, and her marriage was with the consent of her mother, Elizabeth Williams. Battersea parish records show she was born on October 30th 1793, and baptised in Battersea, daughter of Henry & Elizabeth Evans. (Her mother must have later re-married). Ann died 10 November 1872, aged 85, her age there agreeing with the Battersea record. (Source: Gravestone in Norton, and research by Joan Eager). A previous family researcher claims Henry Evans was High Sheriff of Caernarfon, but this has not been confirmed. She seems at least to have had pretensions to gentility. On the “7th day of Xmas, 1819” [December 31], the Sun Fire Office records her as gentlewoman of 112 Lucas Street, Commercial Road, insuring her household goods, wearing apparel, furniture, books and plate in her now dwelling house, situate as aforesaid, brick, for £350. This was a not insubstantial sum for those days, when teachers might earn only £40 - £60 a year. However, “gentlewoman” might mean no more than that she had some income independent of wages. It is also interesting that she had enough books to have them especially mentioned. Lucas Street was developed at this time. There are only a few houses in an 1813 map, but the whole street was completed in an 1819 map. The insurance record suggests she was already a widow, as her husband was not mentioned.


ROBERT FAWCUS and ANN EVANS had two children:

i. JOHN FAWCUS, b. 30 November 1814, Stepney; d. 1861, Hartlepool, ancestor of Joan Eager.

ii. ROBERT FAWCUS, (Robert junior) b. 13 July 1816, London , Stepney; d. 2 June 1894, ancestor of Mary Tiffen

They were christened in St Paul’s, Shadwell, whose parish boundary lay at the southern end of Lucas Street, their father being described as a master mariner.


Robert  senior is not recorded as an apprentice by Trinity House, Newcastle, but many apprenticeships then were informal, often to relatives or friends. It is likely that he followed a similar route to his near contemporary, William Richardson (Finch 1973). Richardson was born in South Shields in 1768, and wrote an autobiography.  His father was captain and part-owner of a boat, able to send his son to a boarding school where he learnt mathematics. “This was extended by a schoolmaster at Shields who “had taught most captains of the place navigation”. Mackenzie (1825) notes “able teachers of the mathematics, particularly of navigation” in the schools of North Shields.  He mentioned particularly James Pringle, an able mathematician, and successful teacher for 53 years, who died 1824 aged 71. A man like John Fawcus, a wealthy farmer, would have been well able to afford to send sons interested in a maritime career to schools in North Shields. This is probably why both Robert senior and his brother George came to settle there. Robert was described as of North Shields on his marriage. Mackenzie (1825) makes clear North Shields and the adjacent Tynemouth were bustling and expanding towns in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, challenging Newcastle for the control of the coal trade between the north east and London and the Baltic.


William Richardson joined his father’s ship at 12 in 1780 as an apprentice. Robert might have been slightly older, as his brother Henry seems to have has only three years as an apprentice. Apprentices aimed to complete their time by the age of 21. William’s diaries recount his initial homesickness and sea sickness, and their encounters with privateers. He describes a trip to the Baltic, where the captain sold his coal cargo at Lubeck and loaded with tea, gin and sugar, highly taxed in Britain, as well as iron, hemp and tallow from Cronstadt, the port for St Petersburg. The crew had no leisure in harbour, for they helped load the heavy cargo. During the war, hey returned  in convoys under naval protection from Elsinore. Delayed by adverse gales, and damaged sails, the crew suffered from fever, frostbite and malnutrition, their inadequate food often uncooked when rough weather put the galley out of action. After some repairs at Hull they were able to make their way to Shields, spending the winter at home. They returned to the Gulf of Finland as soon as the winter ice was broken to fetch a cargo of timber, and made a second voyage taking coal to Cronstadt  returning with iron, tallow and hemp. This second round trip took three months. The next season Richardson’s ship was mainly engaged in taking coals to London. By 1788 he had qualified as second mate, and could earn £2-5s-0d per month. He then got a job on the Mosely in 1789, which made 13 coaling trips to London in that year. Finch quotes the inventory of another ship, which shows the crew would have been employed in fair weather on tarring the rigging or manufacturing spun yarn, a light line produced from old rope. Some crew members would be expected to know how to use carpenter’s tools. The ship’s position would be plotted by calculating the ship’s speed and direction each half hour, using a log line and a quarter minute sand glass, since small ships had no chronometers.  The master of such a ship had to be a jack of all trades, not merely navigating in challenging seas, but understanding his ship’s construction, taking part in and directing repairs to the timbers, mending the sails, anchors and chains, as well as selling on his own behalf or on behalf of others the outward and return cargoes. It was a tough life, full of risk, but it produced close friendships and mutual dependence. North Shields had Friendly Societies, by which mariners paid regular subscriptions to provide a small pension for their widow if they died, or for their wife, if they were taken by a naval press gang. Master mariners might also insure each other’s ships, though specialist insurance companies and brokers were also developing.


By 1808 Robert senior was a ship-owner. The John, a prize ship taken in 1807, 210 tons was registered in North Shields to Robert Fawcus of North Shields, Master Mariner (Newcastle Customs and Excise record, EX.NC, Registers of ships 1807-1815, Newcastle Record Office). Robert Fawcus initially was Master as well as owner, but several changes of Master were recorded.  They include his brother, George Fawcus.

Charles Wilson  6.12.09

Geo. Fawcus 23.3.1810

Robt Fawcus 16.8.1810

Geo Fawcus 8.9.1810

R. Fawcus 4.5.1812

G. Huntington 1.12.1812

R. Fawcus 4.7.1814

R. Simpson 23.7.1814

R. Fawcus 13.8.1814

Willie Johnson 17.12.1814

R. Fawcus 10.6.1817

G. Stoker 21.10.1822

Jas. Ritch 14.12.1822


The list narrows the time of Robert’s death – he was alive 10.6.1817, but had become the  “late” son of John Fawcus when the latter signed his will on 22.7.1822.


Robert Senior, after his marriage, and possibly before, must have transferred his headquarters to London. He was probably in the coal trade between the Tyne and London, which needed good knowledge of the tides, currents and shoals of the Thames estuary. Profits depended on ability to make a quick turn around, and to develop a god relationship with a coal factor in London, who acted as agent for the buyers. The seller was generally the owner or master of the ship. The usual procedure around 1800 was that a vessel’s papers and cargo details would be transmitted to the factor, who took them to the Customs House and signed a bond for the payment of the Kings’ and city duties, giving clearance to sell. Cargoes might also be sold by post from Gravesend, which gave them priority in getting meters appointed to measure the cargo and get clearance. Robert probably also made use of a Public letter from a salaried man at Shields to the man who kept the Coffee House at the Coal Exchange. Access to this was limited to those who contributed to its cost. This enabled factors to anticipate arrivals, and find buyers faster. A 220 ton ship could be unloaded in 6-8 days, but it often took longer (Smith, 1961). Richardson’s ship must have done well to squeeze 13 trips in a year.


4. ELIZABETH FAWCUS was born 15 October 1786 in Newham.  She married JOHN BROWN, a House carpenter in London according to her father’s will. The will indicates that John was very fond of her and his grand-daughter Alice. Possibly he had business dealings which brought him to London, (London would be the ultimate destination of his cattle). Maybe John Brown helped him select the two leasehold houses in Limehouse in which he had invested, and Brown may also have been engaged in the building of Lucas Street nearby, where Robert and Ann settled.


 5. ALICE FAWCUS was born 13 April 1789 in Newham, Bambrough Parish, Northumberland.  She married GEORGE CORNFOOT 1808 in St Michaels, Felton (Source: Parish Register, Morpeth Record Office.). George Cornfoot was a master mariner, according to his children’s baptismal records, and seems to have been based in Tynemouth or North Shields. Known children are:

i.         DOROTHY4 CORNFOOT baptised in 26 September 1817, with her brother George, in Christ Church, Tynemouth.

ii.        GEORGE FAWCUS CORNFOOT, b. 13 March 1815 (Source: Baptismal record, Christchurch, Tynemouth, Morpeth Record Office.). This child may have died, for

iii.      GEORGE FAWCUS CORNFOOT, b. 1819 was baptised in Holy Cross Church, Chatton, (Parish records, Morpeth Records Office). He is given as George Fawcus, son of George and Alice Cornfoot of North Shields near Newcastle, “after having been privately baptised”. This sounds as if he may have been born earlier than expected when the parents were visiting John Senior in Chatton, and they did not delay to get him baptised. He is the presumed recipient of £100 in his grandfather’s will.


6. GEORGE FAWCUS was born 6 December 1790 in Newham, and died 19 February 1837 of apoplexy in North Shields (Fawcus: Cemeteries folder, North Shields library). The records of the John, quoted above, show he sailed his older brother’s ship as master in 1810, and may well have been apprenticed to him earlier. He married MARGARET FLINN 5 March 1814 in Tynemouth, Christ Church (Source: Parish  Register, Morpeth Record Office.). She was the daughter of ROBERT FLINN, a noted harpoon maker for the Arctic and Greenland fishery who moved first to Seaton Sluice and then to North Shields early in the nineteenth century (personal communication, Tony Barrow).  She died 20 April 1878 in Etal Villas, North Shields (Source: Fawcus file, North Shields Library, cemeteries file.). Etal was the Northumbrian village of her father.


Thanks to the efforts of the Local Studies section of the North Shields Central Library, and to the research on ships by Richard Keys, we know a fair amount about George, his wife Margaret, and their children. The librarian has collected cuttings and other ephemera on the Fawcus family, as well as other notable local families. Unless otherwise stated, the following information comes from the Fawcus file in this library.


In 1816 George was Master of the Fort Augustus, and by 1817 he was the total owner of it (Keys 1998). Possibly this was due to the help which his father says in his will he had already supplied to John, Thomas and George.  His occupation then was given as ship owner, as it was in an 1821 directory, when he was living in Church Way, North Shields. In 1822 he is listed as a chain cable and anchor smith, living in Dockwray Square, North Shields. In the Newcastle Chronicle on 23-9-1826, Robert Flinn announced his retirement as chain cable, harpoon and anchor manufacture, and the handover of his business to George Fawcus and Robert Pow. A second advertisement, by George Fawcus and Robert Pow, says that they have been working in conjunction with Mr Flinn as anchor manufacturers etc for the past five years, under the title of Robert Flinn & Co., and that they have now taken over his extensive and complete chain manufactury and powerful testing machine, situate in Reed Street, Dockwray Square, and also his shop near the Custom House, and that the whole business will be continued under its former name.


George also continued his investments in ships. In 1824 he bought 24/64th shares in the Nancy, Robert Pow and Robert Flinn also being shareholders.  In 1829 he, Robert Pow and Robert Flinn all bought 16/24th in Commerce. The remaining quarter was bought by Robert Cornfoot, a possible in-law of George through his sister Alice. It was sold on to others in 1836. In 1830 he acquired 21/64ths in London, (as did Robert Pow) and 16/64th in Hotspur, and sold Fort Augustus. In 1831 he acquired 16/64th in the Frederick Young, in which his wife Margaret took 8/64ths, and in 1832, 21/64th in the Northumbrian (sold in 1833) and 32/64th of the Three Friends. 1834 was another active year; he bought and sold 32/64th of the Henry Tanner and bought 18/64ths of Margaret, a newly built ship - (John Fawcus, agent, had some 4 shares) - and sold the Nancy shares, He then bought 20/64ths of the Newham – shades of his youth reflected in the name. In 1840 his executors had 20/64th, and Margaret Fawcus, widow, 8/64ths in Newham. These are all Tyneside ships (Keys 1998) – he may have had interests in other ships registered in other ports.


George died young of a stroke in February 1837, and on 29 September 1837 Robert Flinn & Co, chain, cable and anchor manufacturers, founders, ship smiths, etc, etc, took an advertisement in The Newcastle Journal to say that due to the death the previous February of their “senior Partner” the business would hence forward be carried on under the firm of POW & FAWCUS. While Robert Pow became senior partner, Margaret seems to have retained an active interest. She is described as of the firm of Pow and Fawcus in the 1851 census, and in an 1847 directory both her son John Fawcus, of 27 Toll Square, and Mrs Margaret Fawcus, of 15 Spring Terrace, were described as anchor manufacturers.


George and Margaret  had at least six children, listed in the next section. From 1819 onwards, they were christened in St Andrew’s Baptist Chapel, indicating a change in parental religious allegiance.


7. THOMAS FAWCUS was baptised on 2nd October 1793, in Bamburgh, after the death the previous year of the seven month old first Thomas. He married Ann Wright in Embleton on 4 June 1811, at the young age of 18. It seems he continued to work for his father or brother as husbandman till 1815, when the Duke’s records show that when Thomas Fawcus of Amerside Law took a lease of Warkworth Mill and 23 acres, from year to year, at rent of £125. The bond was signed by himself (husbandman), John Fawcus of Amerside Law aforesaid, farmer, and “John Fawcus the younger of Dunstan Steads”. The records show several Gibsons as millers, and Thomas may have learnt the trade from a relative of his mother.

The elaborate signature of a Thomas Fawcus appears as witness on his youngest brother Henry’s application for a Master’s Certificate in January 1851, but his date of death is unknown.


8. HENRY FAWCUS was born 3 February 1800 in Newham and baptised March 5 in Bamburgh  He died 11 November 1867 in Stockton. His Master’s Certificate application in 1852 shows him to have been a apprentice on Brothers from 23rd August 1818 to 23rd August 1821, engaged in the Baltic trade. The following year he was mate on John, the ship that his brother Robert had acquired in 1808, in the coal and Baltic trades. From March 1822 to December 1824 he was Master of the Shakespeare, in the Baltic and coasting trade. He seems to have done well, as he bought this ship in February 1825. As his father’s will was not proved till October 1826, he could not yet have received his legacy. From January 1825 to December 1826, he was master of the Fanny, in the Baltic trade. All these ships were registered in Newcastle, which covered North Shields and Tynemouth, but the John was transferred to the London register in December 1825.


Henry married ANN EVANS, Robert senior’s widow, on 11 June 1825 in St Dustan’s Church, Stepney, having obtained a marriage licence three days earlier:

Henry Fawcus of the Parish of St Dunstan, bachelor, and prayed licence to marriage (same church) to Ann Fawcus of the Parish of Tynemouth in the County of Northumberland, widow, and made oath that he believed there was no impediment of kindred .... usual place of abode within Parish of St Dunstan, Stepney. (Source: Faculty office marriage allegations 1632-1851. Public Record Office.)


Marrying your brother’s widow was illegal at the time, so both parties were in fact aware of an “impediment of kindred”. If the other statements in the allegation were true, it would seem that Ann had moved to Tynemouth sometime after 1819, where her husband’s brother George was probably in a position to assist her.  Henry would have been sailing in and out of Tynemouth or North Shields  while engaged in the Baltic trade, as a young apprentice, and between there and London whilst a mate in the coasting trade. Ships spent some time in London while unloading, or waiting to unload, and a complaisant priest might have been happy to regard Stepney, where his sister, Elizabeth Brown, lived, as Henry’s “usual place of abode”. This enabled the marriage to take place away from Tynemouth, where Ann’s previous marriage to Robert might have been better known. It was somewhat urgent, as their first son was born on 13 December 1825, when they were living at 3 Stepney Causeway. Their London children were baptised in dissenting churches.


Mrs K.F Newton researched Henry’s children as follows:

i.         HENRY FAWCUS, b. 13 December 1825, 3 Stepney Causeway, Commercial Road, christened at Bull Lane Independent church, Stepney, London (IGI); d. 11 November 1883, Hamburg.

ii.        ALICE FAWCUS, b. 9 January 1827; d. 28 January 1831.She was buried in Stepney

iii.      ELIZABETH TRISTRAM FAWCUS, b. September 1828; d. January 1830.

iv.      THOS FAWCUS, b. 1 March 1830. He was baptised in 1831, at  Mr Reed's New Chapel, Commercial Road, along with his brother Evans.

v.       EVANS FAWCUS, b. 21 July 1831, London, d. 7 July 1853, Melbourne, Australia..

vi.      GEO FAWCUS, b. 26 January 1833, Stockton-on-Tees; d. 1833, Aged 1

vii.    GEO ROBERT FAWCUS, b. 1 July 1834, Stockton; d. 4 December 1862, Stockton on Tees

viii.   ANN FAWCUS, b. 13 June 1836; d. 9 July 1856, Stockton on Tees.

ix.       ALICE FAWCUS, b. 1839; d. 2 May 1858, Norton see below


Henry also was responsible for John and Robert junior, Ann’s two older children by Robert senior. He took John on as his apprentice in his father’s ship, the John, 1828-1830. John seems to have completed his apprenticeship under another Master in Henry’s Shakespeare, in 1830-31 (Source: Masters’ claim form, Greenwich, 15-7-1851).


The shipping trade was changing at this time. With the end of the war in 1815, Baltic ships need no longer sail in convoy. During the war, high duties had been placed on timber imports from the Baltic in order to encourage ship-builders to make more use of Canadian timber, less at the mercy of Napoleon. The Baltic trade was also unpopular with the mercantilist economic philosophy, which still predominated, because with the exception of north east coal, there was little demand for British products in Baltic countries, while British maritime needs for timber were ever increasing. Hence, it often had to be paid for in bullion, which was thought to be a drain on the country’s wealth. However, Baltic timber was of higher quality than Canadian, and, with peace, the duties became politically more difficult to sustain. In 1820 and again in 1824 they were lowered. (Wikipedia, British timber trade).In first steps to free trade, Britain also began to sign reciprocity treaties with the Baltic nations, which led to increased foreign competition in shipping. The Newcastle Courant was still protesting about this relaxation of the seventeenth century Navigation Acts in 1842. It reported a meeting of the London General Ship-owners Company, complaining that the effect of reciprocity with Denmark in 1824 was that the 4 year average of tonnage employed in trade with Prussia was 87,772 tons in British ships, and 69,613 tons in foreign. By the years 1836-39 British tonnage had decreased to 77,084 tons, and foreign increased to 181,258, with similar changes in the trade with Denmark and Norway. Thus, Henry was engaged in a trade where there was plenty of competition, and a need to reduce costs. His ships, John and Shakespeare, were brigs, an economically rigged ship with two masts rather than 3 masts popular in the late eighteenth century, requiring less expensive sails and cordage, and only 6-8 crew, compared with 10 and 2 apprentices on the 3-masters. The brig could nevertheless negotiate the Thames, which required a 180° change of course round the Isle of Dogs, and some other sharp turns later (Finch 1973). Trading practices were also changing. Steadily mounting consumption of coal  by industries such as brewing led to manufacturers making direct contracts with colliery owners or their agents, so that master mariners gradually became carriers, making their profit from transportation, but not by trading in the cargo itself (Finch 1973,Smith 1961). Men like Henry had to make a choice between being becoming a specialist carrier, or a specialist trader.


For Henry, with a family suffering from the death of young children, the attraction of a land-based career must have been great. 1830-31 seems to have been his last year at sea.  It enabled him to support his younger step-son, Robert, then 15, for a year at the new University College, London. This offered a more modern curriculum than the ancient universities, at a more modest price, and to non-conformists as well as Anglicans. Non-conformists were prominent in its foundation, and we know from the baptisms of his children that Henry was at this time associated with them. His first effort to get out of sailing seems to have failed. On the 17 April 1832, he put an advertisement in the Northumberland Advertiser, as the manager of “The equitable office” at 17 Dean Street, Lower Shadwell, London, which would engage coal whippers for unloading ships (Fawcus file, North Shields Library). His aim, he said, was pay them in cash, to avoid the injurious practice of men being paid at public houses, “whereby they incur heavy expenses”. From the wording, he seems to have been acting on behalf of a group of coal whippers. (Coal whippers lifted coal by pulley from the ship’s hold). However, this venture seems to have been unsuccessful, and on 16 October 1832, he was advertising in the same paper as a Ship & Insurance broker, & general commission agent at Stockton on Tees.  He added “N.B. H.F. takes this Opportunity of stating that he is appointed Agent by Messrs Robert Flinn & Co, North Shields Iron Works, for the sale of their chain cables, anchors, etc at this port....”. This was, of course, the firm of his brother George.


Stockport must initially have seemed a good place to start a new business, as the Stockton & Darlington Railway had recently been completed with a view to bringing coal more cheaply from the inland mines to a river port. However, Stockton proved inconvenient for shipping coal, because of the shallow channel. The line was exteded to Middlesbrough, then a hamlet of a few houses, in 1830. Whites Directory shows Henry Fawcus & Son Merchant and Ship-owner, had an office in Middlesbrough in Exchange building in 1840. The son at this stage was his step-son, Robert junior). Henry also had a timber yard there, according to a history of Middlesbrough. His elder step-son, John, had married and was living in Middlesbrough, listed as a Master Mariner. However, Henry’s main base remained Stockton.


In 1838, Henry & Robert Fawcus, Timber merchants, Stockton on Tees, were advertising a house for sale, at 22 King Street, Golden Square, at £50 p.a. In the same year, on  13.8 1838 the John, Robert senior’s brig, was sold by the trustees of Robert and Henry Fawcus, Stockton, to Robert Pow, North Shields. A week later it was sold to Henry Fawcus & Son, Stockton. The last transaction suggests that the trusts set up by John senior in his will were being closed down.


Henry and Ann are listed in the 1841 census as Henry Fawcus, merchant, at Park Terrace, Stockton, with their sons, Henry, aged 15, Evans, and George, and the two young daughters, Ann and Alice, with 2 servants. His stepson, now married, was living nearby in Skinner Street.


Unfortunately, a year later, Henry Fawcus & Son went bankrupt. The notice in The Times describes them as timber merchants. The Newcastle Courant, in their notices of the same event, describes them more fully as Timber merchants, ship & insurance brokers, dealers & chapmen. The Courant had an article on 1st July 1842, which provides some background. It describes “the alarming state of distress in Stockport, with many thousands totally without means of living, except charity. The Poor Rate is rapidly increasing. Last year it was 6 shillings, this year 10 shillings is likely, but a rate of 2 shillings now does not provide more than a rate of 4d four years ago, because of so much unoccupied property. No prudent man will take any property in the town for the purpose of trade, lest he should be ruined by the increasing burden of rates, and a once flourishing town is becoming a desolation”. This was the decade of the hungry forties, when bad harvests led to high corn prices, and economic depression. In such circumstances fewer new houses and ships would be built, and the market for timber would decline.


Henry and Robert seem thereafter to have separated their business interests, and both recovered their fortunes in due course. In 1846 The Times had them paying a dividend of 1s.1d, presumably to the creditors of the collapsed firm. On January 10 1856 the Stockton & Hartlepool Mercury, recording the Stockton timber trade for the year ended 31-12-1856, lists Henry Fawcus & Son (the son now being Henry’s own son Henry) had had 14 shipments, 1609 tons, 1959 loads, giving details of the types of timber handled. It is clear from correspondence that has survived, and now with Mary Tiffen, that Robert remained in business touch with his step-father, and that Robert’s wife Anna Maria loved her mother-in-law, Ann Evans, writing to her often and visiting her. Her letters to her husband when he was on a business trip frequently refer to her and to the illness of Annie.


For though Henry may have prospered in the 1850s, in family terms this was a tragic period. His son Evans emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, arriving in December 1852. In July 1853 he died there of typhoid, aged 22. His grieving parents had a cast iron tombstone made and sent out to Melbourne. In 1856 Alice died of pulmonary tuberculosis, the great killer disease of the time. In 1858 Annie died of the same disease, aged 19. And in 1862 George Robert Fawcus, “a young man of great promise” and Swedish and Norwegian Vice Consul for the port of Stockton, died “after a long and painful illness”. All were buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, Norton, a village just to the north of Stockton. Of the children listed in the 1841 census, only Henry Fawcus remained, and he was living in Hamburg. (Henry senior and Robert junior had substantial business interests there). Henry died in 1867, but his older wife, Ann, survived till 1872.


Generation 4 &5: Some of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of John and Alice


We have seen that  the sons and daughters of John Fawcus probably helped each other and several occasions when they acted as guarantors for each other have been found. Some examples of continuing contact amongst their children can also be found. This section gives some details on the children of John Junior, the farmer, and of George and Margaret of North Shields. More  information  is provided on  the two sons of Robert Fawcus senior, the master mariner who died about 1819-20, John, born 1814, and Robert junior born 1816. They are closely associated their half brothers and sisters, children of Henry Fawcus, the second husband of Robert’s wife Ann. Several branches of the family developed strong contacts with Germany, but they also spread more widely round the globe.


1. John Junior’s descendants

GEORGE FAWCUS, farmer, eldest son of John junior, seems to have facilitated the marriage of the young Robert to a Quaker girl, Anna Maria Speciall. Anna Maria’s mother, Deborah Speciall, a widow in very poor circumstances, was very worried by the courtship, since Quakers were at this time expelled from membership if they “married out”. Anna avoided expulsion by resigning in October 1840, and in November her mother recorded in her diary that a G. Fawcus had visited her, after which she had indulged in “wrong thoughts”. It seems likely that Robert had asked his cousin to inform her of the family background and wealthy connections. On 2 January 1841Deborah records that Robert Fawcus came and took Anna Maria on a visit to “Barwick”. This is possibly Berwick, and Dunstan was on the way to Berwick. Such a visit by an unmarried girl, for several days, would have been very unusual unless George had convinced Anna’s mother of the family’s respectability. In April, Anna and Maria were married in Stockton’s Anglican Parish Church. Robert then took Anna on a honeymoon cum business trip to Hamburg. They returned in time for the 1841 census in Stockton, which recorded a 5 year old George Fawcus as visitor. His age suggest this is George, b. 1837, son of George Fawcus of Dunstan Steads. In January 1847 G.Fawcuscalled again on Deborah Speciall, now living in Sunderland. In May that year George and his wife had a daughter whom they called Anna Maria. The Newcastle Journal, 13/2/1847records that “A pig, weighing 48 stone, was killed few days ago by Mr G. Fawcus of Dunstan, near Alnwick. The 1851 the census shows he farmed 1100 acres at Dunstan Steads.

Children of GEORGE FAWCUS and JANE are:

i.         JOSEPH GRAHAM FAWCUS (Source: Baptismal record, Holy Trinity, Embleton, Morpeth Record Office), b. 26 February 1834, Embleton. The 1881 census him as a farmer of 630 acres, much less than his father, employing 6 men, 7 women, 1 boy. He had a very odd household, consisting of 2 unmarried brothers, George and James, an unmarried sister, Alice, and her child, and a widowed sister, Mary Ann, the housekeeper.

ii.        MARY A FAWCUS, b. About 1836.

iii.      GEORGE FAWCUS, baptised 21 February 1837, Embleton, the 5 year old visitor to Robert and Anna Maria in 1841. When this George died in 1911, he was buried in the grave in Bamburgh used in 1793 for Thomas Fawcus, the 7 month old son of John Fawcus senior. One can only suspect that John George Fawcus, son of Anna Maria and Robert, who was the lawyer of the family, arranged the interment in an old family grave, which suggests he had no closer relative when he died

iv.      WILLIAM FAWCUS, b. 12 August 1838.

v.       HENRY ROBERT FAWCUS, b. 29 March 1840, Embleton.

vi.      ALICE FAWCUS, b. 5 August 1841.

vii.    JANE FAWCUS, b. 5 August 1841.

viii.   JAMES FAWCUS, b. About 1845.

ix.       ANNA MARIA FAWCUS, Baptism: 2 May 1847, Embleton (Source: IGI.)

x.        MARGARET FAWCUS, b. About 1850, Embleton (Source: Gravestone, Embleton.); d. 27 June 1852 (Source: Gravestone, Embleton, - the first name on this large gravestone.).

xi.       ELEANOR FAWCUS, b. About 1851; d. 28 January 1856, Embleton  (Source: Gravestone, Embleton.). This gravestone also commemorates George and his wife, and his father John junior and his wife.

The likelihood that this family died out is supported by the 1881 census. This shows the eldest, Joseph, farming at Dunstan, but on only 630 acres. (He  employed 6 men, 7 women & a boy). He was unmarried, his sister and housekeeper Mary-Ann was a widow, there were two unmarried brothers, George and James, (occupation: farmer’s brother) and a sister, Alice, unmarried, and her child, Evadne Fawcus, both visitors.

The census data show there was another family of Fawcus living in Dunstan in 1851 and 1881, fisherfolk, but they do not seem to be closely related to George.


2. George Fawcus and Margaret Flinn’s children and descendants


i.         JOHN FAWCUS, b. 17 February 1815, Tynemouth (Source: VRI.); married on 4th September 1841  WILHELMINA HENRIETTA ILIFFE; b. 1811; d. 12 May 1897, Cullercoats.  (Source: Fawcus file, North Shields Library, cemeteries file.). The Port of Tyne Pilot entry on her marriage notes she was the youngest daughter of the late Henry Iliffe, M.D., of Bremen, and the 1881 census shows she was born in Germany. John was 22 when his father died, and he joined the family firm. Pow and Fawcus was becoming well known in the ship building industry. He became Mayor of Tynemouth in 1862. In 1881 Wilhelmina was a widow, living at 31 Beverley Terrace with her son Robert Flinn Fawcus, described as an engineer.

ii.        ISABELLA FAWCUS, b. 6 November 1816, Tynemouth (Source: VRI.).

iii.      ALICE ANN FAWCUS, baptised 29 January 1819, St Andrew’s Baptist chapel, North Shields

iv.      ROBERT FLINN FAWCUS, b. About January 1821. In 1841 he married Fanny Ross, in St Hilda’s, South Shields. He is described as a ship-owner in 1847, and as a ship chandler and broker in Bell Street, Higham Place, Newcastle in an 1852 directory.

v.       MARGARET FAWCUS. baptised 10 January 1822, St Andrew's Baptist chapel

vi.      GEORGE FAWCUS, b. 31 December 1824, North Shields; d. 4 October 1891, Genoa; m. SARAH HARRIS (Source: Fawcus file, North Shields Library.). He also entered the firm, and is already described a ship-builder in the 1851 directory, when he was 16 and still living with his mother. By 1858 he was living in Alma Place, and a directory describes him as shipbuilder, and owner and agent for Croggon’s patent felted sheeting, and for the Western Marine Clubs, and the Floating Dock, Limekiln shore, in Alma Place. By 1867 he was ship-builder and vice-consul for Prussia and Mecklenberg. Earlier directory entries show interests in Morrison and Fawcus, and Fawcus and Davison, the latter “foreign provision merchants”.  In an 1879 directory, he was shipbuilder and repairer of wood and iron ships, owner of the floating dock and the hydraulic slipway, Limekiln shore. He is remembered as being very inventive by the author of the memorial on his brother Henry (see below).


By 1890, he may have retired to Genoa, where he formed part of the English colony, engaged  in shipping and coal trade. He died there on 4th October, 1891. (Source: Fawcus file, North Shields Library, Correspondence with Dr Gianna Bruzzone, Piazza S. Maria 4/8, 16144 Genoa, Italy, researching the English colony in Genoa.)


vii.    JAMES FAWCUS, baptised 28 August 1826. He died 28 October 1871, in his mother's house, near North Shields (Source: Fawcus file, North Shields Library). Obituaries in the Lancet, Medical Times & Gazette show he was educated at Mill Hill and University College, London. He organised the hospital at Kenkoi, Crimea. Then he graduated in London, and in 1859 was appointed to the 49th Native infantry at that time ordered for service in China. Later he became Superintendent of Alipore Gaol with 200 prisoners. He introduced reforms, giving them useful work. He was also Assistant Surgeon in the Civil Hospital, Calcutta


viii.   HENRY WILLIAM FAWCUS was born in 1830, according to a memorial of him in the Fawcus file, North Shields Library. He was educated in Germany, and then took over a farm in northern Northumberland. Here he tried to introduce steam ploughing, unsuccessfully. On the death of John in 1862, he entered the family firm of Pow and Fawcus and was the last family representative in it. He was an accomplished German scholar and interested in the arts. He was actively associated with the management of the Mechanics Institute of North Shields, and in the Literary and Philosophical Society which preceded the foundation of the public library. He was buried in the Fawcus grave in Bamburgh, in May (date indecipherable), with his daughter Hallgerda, wife of Capt Archie Stuart, who died at Marylebone April 18th 1908.


Margaret, and her sons John, George, Robert Flinn and Henry William all seem to have continued to buy and sell shares in sailing ships, into the 1860s. Their ships sailed not only to London and the Baltic, but also to North America and the Mediterranean (Keys 1998).


3. Robert’s descendants by his wife Ann Evans


1. JOHN FAWCUS was born 30 November 1814 in Stepney (Source: St Paul's Shadwell Parish records.), and died 1861 in Hartlepool.  He married SARAH MCCLEAN.  She was born 1814 in Dublin, and died 1883 in Fulham.

                      i.    ANN FAWCUS, b. About 1835.

                     ii.    SARAH FAWCUS, b. 1836.

                    iii.    ROBERT FAWCUS, b. 1838, Middlesbrough.

                   iv.    JOHN FAWCUS, b. 1840.

                    v.    MARY FAWCUS, b. 1843.

                   vi.    ELIZABETH FAWCUS, b. 9 April 1846.

                  vii.    HENRY FAWCUS, b. 9 April 1846.

(Information from Joan Eager, descended from John, who has researched this branch of the family).


John seems to have followed his step-father / uncle Henry to the north, and we have seen he settled in Middlesbrough. Later, he moved to Hartlepool. His brother Robert moved to the neighbouring village of Seaton Carew in 1851. Anna Maria’s letters refer to a visit she made to Sarah. However, Sarah and her children were Catholics, and the letters show a much more fond relationship with Henry and Ann’s later children. Nevertheless, Robert was witness at the marriage of one of John’s daughters.


2. ROBERT FAWCUS was born 13 July 1816 in London , and died 2 June 1894 in Over Dinsdale, Norbiton, Surrey, after 3 days illness.  He married ANNA MARIA SPECIALL 12 April 1841 in Holy Trinity Church, Stockton on Tees daughter of THOMAS SPECIALL and DEBORAH BISHOP.  She was born 2 August 1820 in Kingston on Thames and died 15 May 1871 in Over Dinsdale Hall, near Darlington.


Robert, as we have seen, had a year at the new University College, London, in 1831, and in 1841 was working with his uncle/step-father in Henry Fawcus & Son, in 1842. He seems to have been responsible for its foreign connections. The honeymoon trip to Hamburg after the wedding in 1841 does not seem to have been Robert’s first visit to the free city. A letter written by his mother-in-law to the honey moon couple implies that Robert already knew the town well, and spoke German. He left his wife on her own for a few days, while he went to Stettin. Deborah was alarmed for her daughter, who would have to think twice before she spoke, contrary to her usual loquacity. The letter also showed that she thought Robert  would share the philosophical interests of her oldest son, William. The birth certificates of his children show that after the bankruptcy of the firm in 1842, he moved to Hartlepool. In 1843 and 1845 he was described as a Coal fitter, the middleman between colliery owner and shipper. In February 1846 he and Henry were able t pay a dividend of 1s.1d to their creditors The Times). This was the time when rival railway companies were battling to link coal mines and ports. One of the winners was the Great North of England Clarence and Hartlepool Railway, which Ralph Ward Jackson, the entrepreneurial founder of West Hartlepool, backed.  The end result building of the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway, and in 1847, the completion of a new and better harbour at West Hartlepool ,. (Wood 1967). Robert  then moved to Byers Green, as agent for the colliery there, which had now a direct rail link to Hartlepool. His responsibilities would have been to find markets for its coal and to arrange shipping. This seems to have restored his fortunes, and Deborah’s diary, when she visited her daughter there, describes how Anna Maria was able to drive her and her other daughters on visits and picnics in her gig.


By 1851 they were in a nice house in The Green, Seaton Carew, and Robert had an office in West Hartlepool. In the first few years Robert described himself in his children’s baptisms as a ship broker, and as merchant from 1857. His dealings with Hamburg were sufficiently important for it to be useful to take citizenship there in 1854, and Anna Maria must have accompanied him on a fairly lengthy trip in 1855, since Charles Augustus was born there. He was baptised on their return to Seaton Carew, and as she was still nursing him, Anna did not accompany him on a lengthy German and Baltic trip, which included St Petersburg, in May and June 1856. (Her delightful letters to him were treasured and have survived). At some stage after 1862 they moved to Over Dinsdale Hall, near Darlington, where Anna Maria died in 1871. In 1881 Robert, describing himself as a retired Coal Merchant, was residing at 33 Eaton Place, London, and he moved thereafter to a house he called Over Dinsdale, in Norton, where he died aged 78.


Mary Tiffen is continuing to research his life and his Speciall in-laws.



i.         HENRY FAWCUS, b. 20 February 1842, Stockton. He was living in Anna Maria and Robert’s house in Seaton Carew in the 1870s and was Swedish, Norwegian and Prussian Vice Consul for the Hartlepools. He married first Eliza, who seems to have died in childbirth in April 1866, and secondly, Anne Shane. The deaths of three infant children followed between 1869 and 1872, and they are all buried in Seaton Carew. Ann Shane survived till May 6, 1920. Like most of his brothers, his initial education was in his uncle Joseph Speciall’s school in Sunderland, and Joseph was visiting him at the time of the 1881 census.

ii.        THOMAS POWELL FAWCUS, b. 17 October 1843, Hartlepool, d. 13 May 1901, 3 Harewood Grove, Darlington. He was a timber merchant, but Fawcus and Cragg, Timber Merchants, went bankrupt 1875, Hartlepool Mail. However, he was still recorded as a timber merchant when he died.

iii.      ROBERT SPECIALL FAWCUS, b. 1845, Hartlepool (Source: 1861 census); d. 12 March 1903. He was a coal merchant like his father, and had a rather splendid house in Seaton Carew in the 1870s (Wood, 1960). He was buried Kingston on Thames, his address being then, Overdinsdale, Crescent Rd, Kingston-on-Thames (Source: Cemetery records, copied by Joan Eager).

iv.      ARTHUR FAWCUS, b. May 1847, Byers Green; d. 1930. He went to Hamburg in 1864 on his father’s business affairs, married Fanny Jackson  in 1878, and because his father. Robert Senior, had acquired Hamburg citizenship in 1854, was deemed, with his sons, a German citizen. His brother John George handled their application to resume British citizenship in 1895 (PRO).

v.       JOHN GEORGE FAWCUS, b. 16 December 1848, Byers Green; d. 26 February 1937, Lincoln's Inn. He never married. He became a lawyer, and looked after his sister Frances, (grandmother of Mary Tiffen) and her children when she was widowed. He was fondly remembered by them as “Uncle Jack”. He was elected minor scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge., and taught briefly at Haileybury before returning to a Fellowship at Trinity and reading for law. He was a barrister, in chambers of Mr Frederick Stallard at 21 Old Square, Lincoln's Inn till his death. (Source: The Times, March 4 1937, Obituary.)

vi.      ANNA MARIA FAWCUS, b. 1850; d. 19 March 1909, Kingston on Thames. She married in 1880 Henry Evans Fawcus, b. 1849, the son of Henry Fawcus b. 1825, and grandson of Henry Fawcus and Ann Evans. They had a daughter, Sylvia.

vii.    WILLIAM ALBERT FAWCUS, b. 1851, Seaton d. 15 November 1924, Cury Cross, Cornwall; m. ADA FAWCUS, 15 April 1874, English Church, Hamburg. Ada was the elder daughter of Henry Fawcus of Hamburg, and grandson of Henry Fawcus and Ann Evans.

viii.   EMILY JOSEPHINE FAWCUS, b. 1853, Seaton Carew (Source: Baptism); d. 19 June 1894, Over Dinsdale, Norbiton, 17 days after her father, with whom she lived all her life.

ix.       EVANS FAWCUS, b. 1854, Seaton Carew (and probably named after the Evans Fawcus, Robert’s half brother, who died in Melbourne). He married  Anne Maria Russell Challoner on August 18 1880.

x.        CHARLES OCTAVIUS FAWCUS, b. 1 December 1856, in  Hamburg, Germany; d. 8 January 1883, Surbiton.

xi.       FRANCES MARY FAWCUS, b. 23 November 1857, Seaton Carew; d. 4 March 1929, Kingston Hill. She married James Wilcocks Carrall, and they are the grandparents of Mary Tiffen.

xii.      ERNEST AUGUSTUS FAWCUS, b. 1859, Seaton Carew; d. 26 December 1886, Birkenhead, aged 27, as a result of an explosion on a ship he was inspecting. It would appear from the report of the inquest he was still celebrating Christmas when called on, and did not put out his cigar. His earlier career was at sea, and the 1881 census found him 3rd Engineer on the SS Lottie, in North Shields.

xiii.    LUCY BEATRICE FAWCUS, b. 1861, Seaton Carew (Source: Baptism); d. 1929.

xiv.   LOUIS EDWARD FAWCUS, b. 1864, Seaton Carew; d. 1951. Known to have a son Louis Reginald Fawcus, born 1884.


Henry’s descendants by his wife Ann Evans


The only child to survive and marry was Henry, born, 13 December 1825 in 3 Stepney Causeway, Commercial Road, London. He died 11 November 1883 in Hamburg (Source: The Times.).  He married ELIZA HUME 3 June 1848 in North Shields  (Fawcus file, North Shields library). This suggests that Henry visited the children of his uncle George Fawcus of North Shields, who died 1837, sufficiently often to become acquainted with a North Shields girl.


Eliza is mentioned in Anna Maria’s letters to her husband in 1856. She was unfortunately suffering from a boil in her nose that was delaying her return to Hamburg where her husband lived. Children of HENRY FAWCUS and ELIZA HUME are:

                      i.    HENRY EVANS FAWCUS, b. 15 September 1849, Brunswick Street. Stockton; d. 7 June 1922, Kingston on Thames – who married Robert and Anna Maria’s daughter, Anna Maria.

ii.                    ADA FAWCUS, who married WILLIAM ALBERT FAWCUS, 15 April 1874, English Church, Hamburg, Robert and Anna Maria’s son.


Much further information is available from Mary Tiffen on the descendants of Robert Fawcus and Anna Maria Speciall, and their 14 children, and in particular, on the descendants of their daughter Frances. She is the current custodian of letters written by the Fawcuses and Specialls,  circa 1841-1857, and of Speciall diaries, circa 1832-51.


She is planning a book showing the outward reach of a family from a remote hamlet in Northumberland, to the Baltic and Germany, and later, to India, China, Italy and the United States. She would be happy to exchange information with other descendants of the Fawcus families described here



Mary Tiffen, Orchard House, Tower Hill Road, Crewkerne, Somerset, TA18 8BJ.





Aln, G. (1945). People and Places in Northumberland. Newcastle: Richard Logan.

Bailey, J. and G. Culley. (1805). General view of the agriculture of the county of Northumberland: With observations of the means of its improvement ...... Richard Phillips.

David, M. H. and J. C. Hodgson. (1890). Warkworth monumental inscriptions. Alnwick. (Microfilm now in Bolbec Hall)

Ernle, Lord. (1937). English farming past and present. London: Longmans, Green & Co. 5th edition.

Finch, Roger. (1973). Coals from Newcastle: The story of the northeast coal trade in the days of sale. Lavenham: Terence Dalton.

Foster, Joan. (2003). The diaries of William Brewis, 1833-1850, Throphill, near Mitford. 

Keys, R. E. (1998). Dictionary of Tyne sailing ships: A record of merchant sailing ships owned, registered and built in the Port of Tyne from 1830 to 1930. Newcastle: Richard E Keys.

Mackenzie, E. (1825). An historical, topographical, and descriptive view of the county of Northumberland, and of those parts of the county of Durham situated north of the river Tyne, with Berwick upon Tweed, and brief notices of celebrated places on the Scottish border. Comprehending the various subjects of natural, civil and ecclesiastical geography. Newcastle: Mackenzie and Dent.

McCord, N. (1979). North East England: An economic and social history. London: Batsford Academic.

Smith, Raymond. (1961). Sea coal for London: History of the coal factors in the London market. London: Longmans Green & Co.

Warner, R. (1802) A tour through the northern counties and the borders of Scotland. Bath.

Wood, R. (1967). West Hartlepool.



Many thanks to Mary Tiffen for the wealth of information included above.

© 2000-2018 Mark Fawcus