Chapelry of South Shields

The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward. Originally published by Nichols and Son, London, 1820.

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Robert Surtees, 'Chapelry of South Shields', The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward, (London, 1820), pp. 94-104. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

Robert Surtees. "Chapelry of South Shields", in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward, (London, 1820) 94-104. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

Surtees, Robert. "Chapelry of South Shields", The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward, (London, 1820). 94-104. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

In this section


THE Chapelry, which is one of the severed members of the ancient rectory or original Parish of Jarrow, is bounded by the Tyne on the North, by the sea on the East, by the parish of Whitburn on the South, and by Jarrow on the West and South-West.

The Chapelry includes three Constableries: 1. South Shields (fn. 1); 2. Westoe; 3. Harton.

South Shields.

South Shields proper includes merely a narrow slip of ground lying close on the Tyne from North to South (from the head of the Slake to nearly opposite Clifford's Fort), and entirely occupied by buildings. A considerable portion of what is generally termed Shields is in the township of Westoe.

The town of South Shields rose gradually under the patronage of the Prior of Durham. In 1279 a Jury, sworn before John Delavale, the King's Justice Itinerant, found that "the Prior of Tynemouth had built a town upon the bank of the water of Tyne on one side, and that the Prior of Durham had built another on the other side, where no towns should stand, but only huts for fishermen (fn. 2)." The Prior of Tynemouth's four ovens at North Shields were fined five marks, and both Shields and Tynemouth were forbid to hold fair or market, or to expose to sale meat, drink, or other articles (fn. 3). Thus oppressed by the river dragon, the two vills of Shields derived very comparatively trifling advantage from their fine natural harbour: and the same cause, though with more limited influence, continues to operate against them at this day. It is not easy to trace with any accuracy the progress of the Southern port from a few huts or sheelings (fn. 4), whose inhabitants were allowed neither to sell bread nor beer, to a port of the second consequence in the county.

The first source of any great emolument to South Shields seems to have been the manufacture of salt. In 1499 Lionel Bell, of Sowth Sheles, surrenders back to the Prior of Durham his lease for sixty years, granted in 1489, of a parcel of land near St. Hilde's chapel, with two iron salt-panns, "duas salinas de ferro pro sale bulliend." constructed by the same Lionel within the said plot of ground (fn. 5). The salt-pans are frequently mentioned in the reign of Elizabeth; and seem betwixt that period and the reign of Charles (fn. 6) to have attracted several settlers to South Shields (fn. 7). In 1667 the accounts of the Chapel-Wardens include an assessment on one hundred and twenty-one salt-pans (fn. 8). In 1673 occurs "Charges on getting and serving a warrant on the salters, yt frequently used to work on the Lord's day, 5s." (fn. 9) In 1696, when the salt trade had reached its height, the number of pans amounted to one hundred and forty-three. From that period this branch of trade has been gradually decreasing, and at present only five salt-pans remain.

For the following information relative to the present Trade of the Port, the Editor is indebted, almost exclusively, to Nicholas Fairles, Esq.

The commerce of Shields depends entirely upon the shipping. Nearly 300 vessels now belong to the Port, though, if Hutchinson be correct, the number was only four within the last century. This shipping, which includes a very considerable portion of the vessels registered at the Custom-house of Newcastle, is, of course, employed in a great measure in the coal trade, and in time of peace in the Baltic trade. In war several tons of shipping are taken up for the transport service (fn. 10). There are several large ships belonging to South Shields now employed in the private trade to India, but as yet no goods have been brought direct to the port of Tyne. Messrs. Bulmers are owners of three vessels, and Messrs, Laing of two, employed in this trade. There are thirteen dry docks (only three when Hutchinson wrote, thirty years ago,) capable of containing nineteen large ships. The present proprietors are, James Craster, whose docks contain 2 vessels; N. Fairles 3; J. Laing 2; Forsyth and Co. 2; Metcalf 1; Bulmer and Co. 2; Wallis 1; Nicholson and Horn 3. Each dock has extensive yards for ship-building. In 1781 eleven vessels were launched at South Shields: during the late war the annual number frequently amounted to thirty, and several frigates were built for the Navy by Mr. Temple. The pilots belonging to the port reside entirely at the East end of the town, and have done so from time immemorial, intermarrying, almost exclusively, in each other's families, and forming almost an isolated clan. Their ability, as well as steady courage, in the management of vessels leaving or entering the port, is admirable, and has excited the attention of every officer of the royal navy who has witnessed their exertions.

The original life-boat was built at South Shields by subscription, under the direction and inspection of Messrs. H. Heath, Michael Rockwood, Cuthbert Marshall, W. Masterman, Jos. Roxby, and Nicholas Fairles. The latter gentleman was their chairman, and is now the only survivor. "The scheme was suggested by the melancholy loss of the crew of the Adventure, of Newcastle, in September 1789. The men dropped from her rigging one by one, exhausted by cold and fatigue, as she lay stranded on the Herd-sand, near the entrance of the harbour, in the midst of tremendous breakers, in the presence of thousands of spectators, not one of whom could be prevailed on by any rewards to venture out to her assistance in any boat or coble of the common construction. The above Committee was formed in consequence (fn. 11), and various plans were presented for attaining the proposed object—the construction of a boat calculated to brave the dangers of the sea, particularly of broken water. The preference was unanimously given to Mr. Henry Greathead, as the builder, who suggested the material improvement of making the keel curved instead of straight. The life-boat was first used on the 30th of January, 1790 (fn. 12) when several seamen were brought off in safety from a wreck in the offing; (the crew of the life-boat were provided, on this first trial, with cork-jackets, but the precaution was totally needless.) Since the above period, nearly three hundred lives have been saved at the mouth of the Tyne alone; and the life-boat, with various improvements or alterations, has been adopted in almost every port in Great Britain (fn. 13).

Associations for mutual Insurance. A mode for the mutual insurance of each other's vessels without payment of premium has been partially adopted in South Shields, for at least fifty years, and during the late war was carried to a great extent. There existed nine of these associations, which insured each other's vessels against risk by sea and capture, &c. to the amount of 747,000l.; the value of the vessels insured would exceed this sum 10 per cent. A similar mode of insurance is adopted with respect to freights and cargoes.

Glass works. There are in South Shields three manufactories of crown-glass belonging to Messrs. Cookson and Co.; one flint and ground-glass, and one crown-glass, Messrs. Shortridge and Co.; and four of bottle-glass, Cuthberts and Co. The Excise paid in one year, during the war, on glass manufactured at the above works, amounted to 89,334l.

Rope manufactories. There are seven of these, of which three, belonging respectively to Messrs. Green, Shadforth, and Co.; Smith and Co.; and Robertson and Fox; are extensive, and manufacture both patent and common ropes. In the other three only common rope is made.—Salt-pans now reduced to five : see before.

Mr. Fordyce erected a large barilla work at South Shields, but it did not answer his expectations. Part of the buildings were afterwards converted into a soap-boilery (fn. 14), and are now glass-house.

The Chapter-main colliery, near South Shields, was won and worked by Simon Temple, Esq. on the ground of the Dean and Chapter of Durham (thickness of upper seam 3 feet 6 inches, second ditto 6 feet 3 inches, depth 140 fathom (fn. 15) ). 80,000 chaldrons of coal were worked in 1809, and about 400 workmen employed here. Messrs. Brown, assignees of Mr. Temple, sold the lease to the present occupiers, Messrs. Devey. Mr. Temple also won Jarrow colliery.

The Population of South Shields, with its hamlets and out-farms, under the return of 1801, stands thus, but was probably considerably under-rated:

South Shields 8108
Westoe 2903
Harton 160

In 181]:

Shields 9001
Westoe 6164

No seamen were included in the account of either places. The real amount of Population in Shields and Westoe may probably be estimated at full 19,000.

As the Trade of Shields depends entirely upon the Shipping, it is frequently subject to interruption from disturbances or combinations amongst the seamen, arising, from disputes with their employers on account wages. During the war full employment and high pay had attracted numbers of prime seamen to the Northern ports; and in 1815, when the return of peace occasioned a great discharge of hands from the King's service (whilst the trade of Shields also shrunk into its natural channel), the combination amongst the seamen rose to such a height as to put an entire stop to the business of the port (fn. 16) for several weeks. The disturbance was at last quelled without bloodshed, thought not without the intervention of military. both regulars and the volunteer cavalry, from Newcastle, and the aid of a sloop of war (fn. 17). On this occasion Nicholas Fairles, Esq. and Robert Green, Esq. the acting Magistrates (fn. 18) at South Shields, received a handsome letter of approbation (by order of the Regent) from Lord Sidmouth; and an elegant piece of plate was presented to each of those gentlemen from the "Maritime and Mercantile Insurances." On a similar occasion the firm and moderate conduct of Rowland Burdon, Esq. M.P is remembered with gratitude.

The modern part of South Shields, which has improved rapidly of late years, consists of a spacious square Market-place towards the West (with the Church on the South), and of streets branching from the centers of each side of the square. Amongst other modern improvements, a handsome Town-hall, with a colonnade underneath, was erected in the centre of the market-place, by the Dean and Chapter of Durham, about 1768.

The more ancient part of Shields consists of several more crowded and irregular lines of building, Eastward, close on the river. The place has a singular appearance, from the huge ballast hills which seem to inclose the town on the South and East. Some of these hills are built upon.

TheMill-dam, a bay or inlet at the West end of Shields, affords a situation admirably adapted for a wet-dock. It is now filling up, by direction of the Corporation of Newcastle, in whom the conservatorship of the river is vested (fn. 19).

Bishop Trevor granted a weekly Market, by charter, in 1770, with two annual Fairs, held June 24 and September 1.—A Theatre was erected, adjoining South Shields, on the Bank-top (in the township of Westoe) in 1791.

A Subscription Library was founded Feb. 8, 1803, and is annually improving, supported by annual subscriptions. By one of the original rules, in case the institution should fail, by withdrawing of the subscriptions or otherwise, the stock of books becomes the property of the Charity-school.

The Chapel.

No record of the original foundation of the Chapel of St. Hilde, or of the separation of the Chapelry from the Mother Church of Jarrow, is now extant. It is extremely probable, that the Church is of high antiquity, and it is not perhaps without some claim to be considered as the "humble Church dedicated to St. Hilde, which standeth nearer to the Tyne than to the Wear (fn. 20)." The earliest record, however, of the separate rights of St. Hilde's Chapelry, is contained in the instrument of presentation of John de Gyseburne by John Prior of Durham, in 1402. In this evidence the Chapelry is mentioned as including Les Sheeles, Harton, and Wiveston (Westoe); the Chaplain is to have a manse, and the lands belonging to it, like his predecessors, half the oblations to Holy Cross, half the offerings of wax, all the petty offerings (or surplice fees) of Churchings, Baptisms, and Burials; the pence paid for holy hread (wafers), the St. Hilde fish offered by the devout parishioners, and one mark pension from the Master of Jarrow.

Terrier, 16 July 1806.
Imprimis. There belong to the Curacy a Parsonage-house tiled, in length forty-five feet, and in breadth thirty-six. It is situated on the North side of the Chapel, fronting the East, with a small court before it, enclosed by brick pillars and pallisadoes. It consists of two parlours, two lodging-rooms, a small room, two garrets, all boarded, papered, and ceiled, together with a small kitchen and coal-house, now converted into a kitchen on the back part of the said house. Item, three acres of land, or thereabouts, lately demised, under an Act of Parliament, for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, to Nicholas Fairles and Hendry Robson, Esquires, at the rent of one hundred and fifteen pounds, payable yearly to the Incumbent for the time being (and on which there is yet only one house erected), boundering on the West by the church-yard, on the South by a road adjoining the mill-dam, on the East by a horse-road, and on the North by a street called Chapter-row. Item, the sum of ten pounds annually for a small portion of glebe annexed to the burying-ground, paid by the chapel-wardens to the Incumbent on the 12th on May. Item, stable, gig-house, &c. situate on the West side of the church-yard. Item, the sum of sixty pounds per annum is paid quarterly to the Incumbent by the Patron, the Dean and Chapter of Durham, viz. at Christmas, Candlemas, Midsummer, and Lammas. Item, the sum of thirteen shillings and four-pence is paid by the mother church of Jarrow, half at Pentecost, and the other half at Saint Thomas. Item, to the church belong a red velvet cushion for the pulpit, a carpet and kneeling-cushions for the altar, and a red velvet covering for the communion-table. Item, a silver flaggon, containing near three quarts in measurements, with this inscription: "The Rev. William Radley, Minister in South Shields Church, 1760." Item, a silver cup for administering the wine, which will be contain about one pint, inscribed, "James Loggan, Robert Redhead, church-wardens, anno 1718, R.W. R.T." Item, a silver plate for element bread, inscribed; "So Shields Church, 1760."

The Chapel has received such frequent alterations and additions, in order to accommodate the rapid increase of population, that very little idea can be formed of its original state. When Hutchinson wrote, "the nave was divided from the South aisle, by five short round pillars with plain capitals, supporting pointed arches; the four Eastern arches were uniform; the two Western arches loftier, and of a different from; a North aisle had been added in 1753, with square pillars and uniform circular arches, galleried the whole length, and regularly stalled below; there was also a gallery at the West end of the nave, and three small ones in the South aisle." In 1810 and 1811, the Chapel was almost entirely rebuilt, except the steeple, the South and West walls, and part of the East wall; the pillars forming the North and South aisle were removed, and a single roof thrown over the whole structure; the ground floor was new paved, and a handsome uniform gallery extended round the North, South, and West. The ceiling of the whole is handsomely stuccoed; the altar is in the modern fashion, in a circular recess, ornamented with three transparent paintings from Scripture (fn. 21).

The Chapel is uniformly lighted by double rows of spacious sash windows. Several handsome monumental tablets are regularly disposed betwixt the lights.

Monumental Inscriptions.

East End:

Sacred to the memory of John Fairles, Esq. who died 30the August 1799, aged 75 years, And of Elizabeth his wife, who died 11th of June 1808, aged 80 years. Also four of their sons and Joseph Reed their grandson.

North wall nearest the altar:

William Blackburn, Esq.
of South Shields
died February 18th, 1808, aged 43 years.
In testimony
splendid talents, and independence of mind,
most zealously exerted
in acts of benevolence,
and eminent services rendered to the
Shipping interest of this port,
his friends, by whom he was highly esteemed,
erected this tribute to his memory.

South wall,

Sacred to the memory of Lady Heron
(consort of Sir Cuthbert Heron, Bart, of this place,)
who departed this life, November XXVII, MDCCCXII.
aged lx years.

The following inscription commemorates the fate of a whole family:

To the memory of GEORGE YEOMAN of Harton (in this county) Esq., who died January 23, 1785, aged 52 years; also of ESTER his daughter, an infant; and of ANN his daughter, who died on the 11th November 1793, aged 18, cut off by the corroding influence of a consumption, just as she was entering a world in which her beauty, her gentleness, and accomplishments would have attracted universal esteem. Likewise of George, John, and Henry, his sons, who returning from Quebeck were shipwrecked on the Land's End on the 17th December 1797, GEORGE aged 23, JOHN 20, HENRY 18 years; which unhappy catastrophe, while it filled the heart of their surviving parent with the most poignant sorrow, diffused a gloom over the whole circle of the neighbourhood; for the pleasing expectations which the manhood of George had already confirmed, the less mature years of his brothers promised to fulfil. Also to the memory of an afflicted Parent's last remaining hope THOMAS, who died March 19, 1799, aged 18 years. This monument, the sad memorial of no common devastation, is consecrated by the windowed Wife, and childless MOTHER. Stranger, if thou hast met with affliction, ponder o'er the rapid destruction of this once flourishing family, and in contemplating the sorrows of forlorn mother, forget for a while thine own.

On the 19th March 1803, having borne with the meek and resigned spirit of a Christian the repeated deprivations of her husband and children, it pleased God to call from this trial of her fortitude and submission ANN YEOMAN, the wife and mother of the above recorded deceased, aged 60 years: by whose death no vestige of the existence of this family remains save this poor memorial.

Other tablets in the Church commemorate:

  • (South wall.) John Carlen of Westoe, Esq. ob. 6 Febr. 1815, aet. 71. Edward his eldest son, drowned off Lowestoff, 10 Jan. 1803, aged 22. Mary relict of John Carlen, Sept. 8, 1815, æt. 67.
  • (North wall.)John Watson, Esq. of Westoe, ob. March 31, 1799, aged 61 years.
  • (West end.)Elizabeth Vickerman, died Oct. 10 1751, aged 26 years.

Formerly, at the West end of the Chapel-yard, on a table monument of free-stone:

Here lyeth interred the body of Sir William Hamilton, Knight and Baronet, sonne to ye Earle of Abercorne, and late servant to Henrietta Maria ye late Queene Mother of our Soveraigne Lord King Charles ye Second, that now is over England, &c. who departed to ye mercy of God the 28 of June, Anno Dom. 1681.

On other stones:

Here lieth ye body of Mary, wife of John Richardson. She dep'ted this life, Sept. ye 2d. 1713, aged aged 61 years.

Ralph Harrison, her father, dyed in the year 1700, aged 98, and Dorothy his wife dyed 1697, 93. They lived man and wife together 74 years.

The abovesaid John Richardson, who was buried here August the 30th day, Anno Dom. 1731.

On a large altar-tomp:

Here lyeth the body of william Watson of South Shields, late Sheriffe of Yorke, who......

A few years ago the rest of the legend was read, which commemorates Mrs. Dorothy Watson, wife of William, who died 1705, ret. 83, having lived to see her descendants 116 in number. to the fourth generation.

Here lieth the body of John Darley, Master and Mariner in South Shields, who departed this life April ye 30th, 1730, aged 50 years. He was born in Surby in the country of York.

Arms ......a Lion.....Crest, on an Esquire's helmet, out of a mural crown, a Lion rampant, holding a staff (fn. 22).

*** I am indebted to Bryan Abbs, Esq. for copies of the whole of the inscriptions in St. Hilde's Chapel.

Succession of Curates.

South Shields Perpetual Curacy.—The Prior of Durham formerly Patron. A peculiar to the Dean and Chapter, not in charge. Ep. Proe. 1s. 4d. Dedication to St. Hilda.

  • Robert de Daiton, occnrs 1321
  • Thomas de Aldofeldo, 1323, p.m. Dalton.
  • John de Werdale, 1375.
  • John de Giseburne, p.m. Werdale, 1402.
  • William Younger, 1418.
  • Thomas Ellison, 1553.
  • John Welche, occurs 29 Sept, 1563.
  • Thomas Blakiston,26 Oct. 1568.
  • Thomas Meslet,1577.
  • Edward Ambrose, occurs 1580.
  • William Brambale, 24 Oct.1583.
  • Thomas Tirwhitt, 1590.
  • George Carre, 1610, p.m. Tirwhitt.
  • Tho. Wandles, A. M. (fn. 23). 15 Nov. 1637, p. m. Carr.
  • Thomas Lupton, an Intruder, 1657.
  • Stephen Bordley, A.M. 27 July 1664.
  • Thomas Fawcett, occurs 1690.
  • Thomas Simpson, A. B. (fn. 24) 13 July 1721, p.m. Fawcett.
  • Robert Lambe, 3 Aug. 1747, p.m. Simpson.
  • Gilbert Nelson (fn. 25). 20 Nov. 1747, p. res. Lambe.
  • Francis Lherondell (fn. 26), 26 Nov.1748, p.m. Nelson.
  • William Thompson, 1 June 1750, p. res. Lherondell.
  • Samuel Dennis, A. M. (fn. 27) 1754,p.m. Thompson.
  • Richard Wallis, A. M. 1775, p.m. Dennis.
  • Richard Wallis, A. M. (fn. 28). Oxon. p. res. Wallis.

There is a lectureship, worth about 200l. per annum, entirely raised by voluntary subscription; the present very popular lecturer is the Rev. Robert Harrison, A. M.; the duty is voluntary, excepting a sermon on Sundays and on every principal festival.

"Patrick Watt, the lecturer at St. Hilde's, occurs 6 May 1637, and 1662. William Radley, A. M. occurs 27 July 1758, (Rector of Bishop Wearmouth.)— Crookbine, el. 29 July 1762. Thomas Slack, el. 29 July 1766. pres. to Skirmar, Essex, p. res. Lerondell 1770." (fn. 29)

The oldest register of the Chapelry now extant, commences only in 16. The Chapel Wardens books begin 1660 (fn. 30).

"Whereas sundry of the Masters and Mariners of Whitby are often by their employments obliged to be in Tinemouth harbour, and being then willing (when opportunity invites,) to pay yt duty yt they owe to God for his great mercies, &c. but being unwilling to be uneasy to the respectine inhabitants in their own seats. they have desired liberty to erect and build a gallery under the farthest arch save one in the said Parochial Chappell, at their own proper costs and charges, unto which request, we the Minister, Chapell-Wardens, and 4 and 20, do with great willingness consent. S. Bordley," &c.

(fn. 31) The Presbyterians have a Meeting-house in the lower part of South Shields, of ancient date; audit is probable that there has always been within the port, a considerable society attached to the discipline of the Church of Scotland. The Meeting-house was rebuilt in 1790; the pastor is the Rev. I. Toshack. There is another Presbyterian place of worship on the Bank-top in the township of Westoe, built in 1779, and enlarged 1817. Pastor, the Rev. W. Matthews.

The Methodists have a Meeting-house, which cost near 4000l. (opened February 26, 1809), capable of containing seventeen hundred persons. There are four or five other Meeting-houses belonging to Dissenters of various descriptions.

"In 1998, assessment on the Salt Panns, (6d. each) viz.

Charles Coatsworth 3, Leo. Wheatley 2, Widow Wilkinson 2, Thomas Cook 2, Cromwell Medlycott 4, Jo. and W. Coulson 16, Michael Coatsworth 9, Ralph Frost 6, W. Harle, sen. 8, Henry Wolf 5, David Douglas 3, John Patteson 4, Lancelot Cooper 5, Charles Sotheron 3, Michael Stanfield 3, Edward Killerby 4, Thomas Dent 5, Robert Linton, sen. 7, Thomas Harle 6, Wid. Middleton 5, John Doubleday 4, William Radley 9, Thomas Chilton 6, Mr. Raw 10, Richard Wake 4, Michael Hall 2, Ralph Harrison 1, Robert Linton, sen. 2,—143."

Account of public and Private Armour belonging to Jarrow Parish with Sheeles, 8 Oct. 1619 (fn. 32).

Common Armor. Corslets 4, Berers Thomas Brunton, Cuthbert Sotheron, Thomas Pearson of Harton, George Dunne. 2 Corslets wants and 2 musketts. Thomas Chambers, Hugh Constable, and Thomas Pattison, do promise to see these armes provided.

  • Musketts 5, William Atkinson, &c. one muskett and one bandelier defective, and 2 unprovided.
  • Private Armor.
  • Thomas Blaxton of Jarrow, I cor. he is removed fro' Jarrow.
  • George and Edward Harle, of Westoe, I corslett, defective.
  • Andrew Whitfield, of South Sheiles, I muskett, Lancelot Brown.
  • Mr. Henry Hilton, of Field-house, I muskett, Andrew Bell.
  • Edward Harper, of Westoe, I muskett, himself berer, defective.
  • Thomas Pattinson, of Hedworth, I muskett, himself berer.
  • William Harle, of Munckton, I muskett, George Harle.
  • Robert Stott and Raphe Brunton, of ye same, 1 muskett, Robert Stott berer.
  • Edward Harle, of South Sheiles, 1 muskett, George Wallys, defective.

ANTIQUITIES. There is no doubt that the Romans had some sort of establishment on the Lawe Hill, an eminence or rising ground immediately at the entrance into the harbour, nor is it at all likely that they should have ever neglected a post of such local importance.

An Alter which Horsley mentions as lying at the North-West corner of the Station, was removed by Dr. Hunter, and is now in the library of the Dean and Chapter at Durham; the inscription is effaced, but the sides exhibit the usual sacrificial vassels, and the knife is sculptured on the back (fn. 33). Horsley notices two other altars, one built up in the wall of a quay, and another which was sent to Dr. Martin Lister, who published as much of the inscription as he could read in the Philosophical Transactions (fn. 34). Diis matribus pro salute Imperatoris Marci Aurelii Antonini Augusti Pii felicis.......lubens merito obreditum. (This last altar was afterwards sent to Norwich, and is supposed to be lost.) A third fragment was apparently sepulchral. Dis Manibus (fn. 35). Still more decisive evidence of the existence of a Station has been since discovered. On this same Lawe Hill in 1798, some workmen employed on the grounds of Nicholas Fairles, Esq. struck on the evident remains of a Roman Hypocaust. A sketch taken at the time is in Mr. Fairles's possession, with some fragments of the masonry, which consisted of brick and dressed freestone intermingled; the lowest course was of rough whinstone, evidently brought from the shore, as the barnacles(patella vulgata) were still adhering to them. Mr. Fairles also possesses a beautiful gold coin of Marcus Aurelius (fn. 36), and several small brass from Claudius Gothicus to Valentinian. The Station seems to have included several acres; and fragments of Roman bricks pottery are turned up abundantly in a field adjoining the Lawe Hill when in tillage.

It may be observed, that in 1783 an alter was discovered amongst the foundations of part of Tynemouth castle, Jovi optimo maximo Ælius Rufus præfectus cohortis IIII Lingonum; and a tablet inscribed, Gyrum Cymbas et Templum fecit Caius Julius Maximinus Legionis sextæ Victricis ex voto. These are now in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries of London; but there is no need to suppose, with Mr. Gough (fn. 37), that they were carried to Tynemouth from the station at South Shields. The Romans, doubtless, took care to occupy the Type at its embouchure on both sides.

The Roman name of this station at the Southern mouth of Tyne is utterly uncertain, but it seems tolerably ascertained that terminated the military way called Wreken Dyke (fn. 38).

Drayton's Polyolbion, Watling-street loquitur.

And Rickneld forth, that weight of Cambria's shore,
where South Wales now shoots forth St. David's promontore,
And on his midway near did me in England meet,
Then in his oblong course the lusty straggling street
Soon overtook the Fosse, and towards the fall of Time
Into the German sea dissolv'd at his decline

The road intended by Drayton is probably that which Dr. Hunter traced, with much appearance of probability, branching from Watling-street, and passing North-East through Brancepath park, thence a little to the south of Brandon, lost in intervening cultivated grounds, but re-appearing in the same direction upon Durham Moor, passing by Hagg House, and very visible below upon Harbrass Moor, then tending past Lumley Castle, a mile East of Chester-le-Street, without any appearance of communication with the Station there, and pointing directly for South Shields. Two elevated pavements in the Tyne, the one at the West and of South Shields, the other on the North of the river, prove the importance which the Romans attached to commanding a safe passage of the river at ebb and flow, and imply the communication of this line of road with the first Station on the wall (fn. 39).

But the Wreken Dyke (sometimes written Raking-Dyke (fn. 40) ) is traced from the Lawe Hill through the marish or low ground adjoining, where an arm of the Tyne once probably ran, passing to the East of the Lay gate, from thence past Biddic-Barns, and so forward to the Dean Bridge, close by Jarrow.

In this space Horsley allows the traces of the road to be obscure, but "in the field beyond the Dean Bridge the track is plain, and for near the full breadth of the inclosure sensibly raised above the level of the ground," crossing the ridges. On the West of the inclosure there is a descent. and in the botton a lane (the road from Boldon to Shields), and in the field across the lane a small ascent. The military road ascending and descending bends into a curve, and then falls into a right line, and continues full West for five or six miles, along Leam Lane (fn. 41), to Gateshead Fell (fn. 42). It forms the boundary betwixt Gateshead and Lamesley, and, leaving the latter place and Kibblesworth to the South, crosses Blackburn Fell South-West, and, passing through the township of Hedley, reaches Causey (which probably derives its name from this same road or Calcetum), and terminates further West on Stanley Hill, where the vestiges of a square intrenchment still exist (fn. 43).


Westoe, anciently Wyvestow, a pleasant village, with several good houses on the heights above Shields.

The village was part of the ancient possessions of the Cell of Jarrow, and, excepting two small freeholds, one the property of Robert Green, Esq. and the other of —Ogle, Esq. of Kirkley (fn. 44), is entirely held under the Church of Durham.

The following charters (very briefly extracted) occur in the Treasury:

  • I. Omnibus, &c. Galfrid filius et heres Thome de Burton, sal. Noveritis me dedisse Wilto de Hilton, manenti in Wyvesaton, illos quatuor solidat. annui reddit. quos Sampson fil. Rađi le Sergant de Seton monachor. michi reddere tenebatur pro uno tofto, &c. Test. Henr. de Hardon, tune Seneschallo de Tynemouth. 1320.
  • II. Indent. inter Johannem de Denom et Priorem Dun. de uno mess. et centum et viginti acris terre in Wyveston in excambium pro 160 acris terre et 40 acris prati in Herdwyk super Mare juxta Munk Hesilden. 16 April 1324.
  • III. Sciant, &c. quod ego Ricardus de Milton dedi, &c. Johanni filio Willł de Hilton, terras in campo de Wyvestowe. T. Wiltmo de Hilton. 1341. [Quit-claim from the same to the same, 1343.]
  • IV. Omnibus, &c. Ricardus de Milton et Alicia uxor ejus. Sciatis nos teneri Joħi fil. Willi de Hilton, omnes convencones inter nos et predict. Joħem factas adimplere do uno tenemento et xxvii acris terre in campo de Wyvestowe. T.Dño Lawrencio capellano, Philippo Kakeloite, Johe del Stane, Ada Louuys, Petro Legate Clerico, et mult. aliis. Dat apud Soutchelis, die Mere. prox. post F. Decoll. S. Joh. Bapt. A. D. 1345.
  • V. Sciant, &c. quod ego Alicia relicta Radi de Milton dedi, &c. Philippo de Milton, filio meo, omnia terras et tenementa mea in territorio de Wystowe in le South sheles, 1380.


A village near the sea-coast, anciently Heortedun—why not the hill of stags? The whole coast was once a forest, notwithstanding its present naked appearance (fn. 45). Harton was included in Aldwin's donation to the reviving monastery of Jarrow. With the other possessions of that house it became the property of the convent of Durham; was granted, after the dissolution, to the new cathedral; and is now entirely held by lease under the Dean and Chapter.

Harton was the residence of the family of Smart, of whom came that turbulent Prebendary, Peter Smart, of the fourth stall.


A district within the Chapelry of South Shields. About a century ago it contained certain common fields, which were divided; and part of Simonside, according to this modern division, lies in Harton, part in Westoe. There are also in the same Simonside three farms in the parish of Monk-Wearmouth, partly considered as belonging to Southwick, and partly to Fulwell (fn. 46).

There is a tradition relative to this complex division, that the village of Simonside was entirely depopulated about two centuries ago by the plague, and that the nearest townships divided the deserted lands (fn. 47).

Simonside, whatever become of the tradition, is not the original name of the place, which seems to be included in Aldwin's donation to the Cell of Jarrow under the title of Preston. It was termed South Preston, to distinguish it from that across the Tyne, and seems gradually to have settled into the more distinctive name of Simonside.

The possessions of the Cell of Jarrow became virtually vested in the Church of Durham. Germanus, Prior of Durham (1163—1186), granted Preston to Hugh de Morwick (the Northumbrian Baron of Chevington) by the following charter:

Germanus P'r et Capitulum S'cti Cuthb'ti de Dunelmo om'ib[us] videntib[us] vl. audientib[us] has litteras salt'. Sciatis nos dedisse et presenti carta confirmasse Hug' de Morewic et heredib[us] suis in feodum et hereditate', villam de Prestona cum rectis divisis suis tenendam de nobis liberam et quietam ab omni servicio, reddendo annuatim q'draginta solidos, viginti scil't ad festum S'cti Martini et alios viginti sol. ad Rogationes. Hiis testibz Will'o Archid. Sim. Cam. Mag'ro Ric' de Coldingh. Sim. Capellano, Gilebto Hansart, Philippo Vicecom. Ric. de Parco, Acharia milite, Walt'ro Seneschallo, et aliis multis. (fn. 48)

Then follow two confirmations of Preston to the Church of Durham, from Henry III. and Pope Alexander III. and next,

Carta Hugonis de Morewic.

Sciant o'es ho'ies tam p'sentes q'm futuri q'd ego Hugo de Morewic dedi et c'cessi et hac &c. confirmavi Aline uxori mee p'stona' in dotem cu' o'ib[us] p'tine'ciis suis tenends' lib'e & q'ete ut dotem suam de me & heredib[us] meis reddendo q'd p'dicta villa illa debet monachis. His testibz Odenel de Humfra (fn. 47), Ernulf de Morewic, Joh. fil. Odardi, Walt' Bataille, Ric. Maltalat' (fn. 49), Nicolao de Morewic, Robt. Ricard. de Morewic, Gileb de Morewic, Hug' de Butelesdu' (fn. 50), Will. Malt. Bern. Cler.

Seal, a gallant knight full armed, on horseback, with foot-cloth sweeping to the ground.

In 1260 a leasing of lands in Preston occurs from Hugh the Prior (as superior Lord during the minority of Hugh Morewic) to William le Latymer. Sibil, daughter and coheir of Hugh de Morewic (sister, probably, of the last-named Hugh), became the wife of Roger de Lumley, whose descendants held Preston and Symondset for several descents. A crowd of subsequent charters, fines, leases, and private transactions, are scarce worth particularizing. In 1316 an assize appears to prove that Preston mill stood on the Prior's ground; and a release of all actions from Marmaduke Lumley follows, sealed with the seal of William Coury de Bywell, in the presence of Master Rowland, Dean of Chester, and Master John Kyllinghall, in the Prior's chamber.

Ralph first Lord Lumley, fourth in descent from Sibil of Morwick, forfeited his life and his title in open battle against "the canker Bolingbroke," who had supplanted his gracious patron Richard. By this attainder, of which there is a copy in the treasury, Preston and its appendages reverted to the Church; and South Preston, or Symondside, was almost immediately granted to Sir Ralph Blumer, and in that family it rested till in 1522, Sir William Bulmer exchanged his lands in Monk-Wearmouth, Symonside, and Durham, for certain lands of the Convent in Thorp Hewles, Claxton, and Fishburne. On the dissolution, Simonside was granted to the new cathedral.

Charitable Benefactions to the Chapelry of South Shields.

The return under the Act 26 George III. mentions no benefactions to South Shields, Harton, or Westoe; but in 1637, May 6, Henry Hilton, Gent. (see p. 29) leaves "the rent of the house at the church-style for eighteen years to so many poore wedowes in the Sheeles as shall be though fitt by the Church-wardens and Mr. Patrick Watt; the said rents being fiftie shillings."

Thomas Pattison, Gent. (of Hedworth) who died 9 Oct. 1680, left by will to St. Hild's 20l. to be a poor stock.

Mr. William Lawson, in like manner, left 5l. which has since been improved to 6l. (fn. 51)

A CHARITY SCHOOL was founded in 1772 by the application of 100l. bequeathed by Christopher Maughan; 100l. by Mrs. Anne Aubon, of South Shields; and other several benefactions, amounting in the whole to near 800l. Forty scholars were taught reading, writing, and common arithmetic; but the funds having been increased by various liberal donations, a good school-house has been built, and the original number of scholars greatly increased. The school is under the direction of five trustees annually elected. 1818, Rev. Richard Wallis, Nicholas Fairles, Esq. Robert Green, Esq. Edward Mayjor, Esq. and Mr. George Potts (fn. 52).


  • 1. South Shields is subdivided, for the purpose of collecting parochial assessments, into four Wards; Low Ward, East Pan Ward, Middle Ward, and West Pan Ward. The whole expence of the maintenance of the poor amounts to considerably upwards of 3000l. per annum. N.F.
  • 2. Previous to this trial betwixt the Burgesses of Newcastle and the Prior of Tynemouth (which may be seen at large in Bourne, 161–163), the Prior of Durham had obtained leave (by convention with the town of Newcastle) for his tenants of South Shields to brew and bake for their own use, but not for sale, or for strangers.
  • 3. The Prior of Tynemouth, it seems, had sixteen great fishing busses, which toiled for lucre of gain only, and not for the supply of the Prior's household. His town of (North) Shields included twenty-six houses, built on the King's soil, within high-water mark; and the inhabitants were grown so scandalously rich that they were able to lade and victual two hundred sail, which ought all to have sailed up the river, seven miles further, to victual and take in their cargoes at Newcastle. In 1306 the Prior of Tynemouth was obliged to remove, at his own cost, a shore or quay built within flood-mark at North Shields. See Bourne and Brand.
  • 4. This seems the most obvious derivation of the name, which is generally at an early date written le Sheeles; and thus in the West of the County, Broom sheeles, West sheles, &c. take their name from the summer residence of their herdsmen :"— When twilight dimm'd the green hill sideFar in his lonely sheil her shepherd died." Erskine.
  • 5. 2a 4†æ Spec. D. & C. Treas.
  • 6. A curious tradition prevails at Shields, that when the plague raged there with great violence, the persons employed about the salt-works entirely escaped the infection. N.F.
  • 7.
  • 8. Amongst the proprietors occur Mr. George Selby, Mr. Robert Logan, Mr. Ralph Anderson, Mr. Chapman, Mr. Ledgard, Mr. Richard Rowe, Michael Cotesworth, Roger King, &c.
  • 9. Chapel Books.
  • 10. The exact number cannot be ascertained without an application to the Collector of the Port of Newcastle.
  • 11.
  • 12.
    Account of Expences from the original Minute:
    1789 £ s. d.
    Mr. Wouldhave, for his model 1 1 0
    Mr. Greathead's bills 74 9 3
    John Bage, House, &c 58 10 7
    Advertisements 1 11 6
    Twelve Cork Jackets 11 11 0
    Getting Boat to the House 0 11 0
    Ropes for straps and grumets 0 5 0
    Expences to Newcastle 0 10 0
    Ropes to Mr. Green 1 4 5
    £.149 13 9
  • 13.
  • 14. Hutchinson, vol. II. p. 483.
  • 15. Bailey's Surrey of Durham, 1810.
  • 16. The sailors prevented all ships from leaving or entering the port, except a few vessels belonging to Scotland and ports South of Sunderland, which they suffered to proceed on paying ten shillings for each man on board.
  • 17. A party of marines were on the sand next the river, and at the Coble-landing; a troop of dragoons were posted on the Bank-top; a picquet of Col Burdon's volunteer cavalry at Harton; and two sloops of war lay in roads.
  • 18. The circumstance that the river itself is under the jurisdiction of the Corporation of Newcastle, whilst the Durham Magistrates act only on the South side, and those of Northumberland on the North (their respective authority extending to low-water mark), increased the difficulty of acting, and required an union of all the three Commissions.
  • 19. The following is literally copied from a memorandum of Smeaton, the architect of Eddyston light-house; "In coming down by way of South Shields, I observed a place called the Mill-dam, which, if the trade require it, may be very properly converted into a wet-dock, that would hold a great number of ships." This, once invaluable, is now lost for ever to the port of Tyne. Had such a natural situation existed in any other great port of the kingdom, it would have been most certainly converted into a wet dock. Remonstrances were made against filling it up with ballast, which, however, unfortunately availed nothing. N. F.
  • 20. See MONK-WEARMOUTH, p. 2.
  • 21. On the right, the baptism of Jesus, Matthew, Chapter 3d, verse 16th. On the left, our Saviour breaking the bread after the resurrection. St. Luke, Chapter 24, verses 30 and 31. In the centre, the Crucifixion, with the three Mary's weeping at the foot of the cross. St. John. 19 verse 25. In stucco, above the crucifixion, the ascension of Christ; on the right St. Peter, on the left St. John. N. F.
  • 22. The arms, however, of Darley of Buttererarab, Aldby, &c. in Yorkshire, are very different. Gules, 6 fleur de lis Arg. 3. 2. and 1. within a bordure Ermine. Crest, a horse's head couped Gules, maned Arg. bridied and bittted Or.
  • 23. Thomas Wandles (son of Edward Wandles, Alderman of Durham,) Miuor Canon of Durham Cathedral, and master of the song school on the Palace Green. He was generally called Caralier Wandles, having been sequestered and east into prison for his loyalty; from Shields he was carried prisoner to Hull, where he was released from gaol, but continued to reside there, and never returned to Durham. Ob. Eire. 1653. Randal.
  • 24. Vicar of Bywell St. Andrew, co. Northumberland.
  • 25. Rector of Okeley Magna, Norwich Diocese.
  • 26. Presented to the Rectory of Skirmur, Essex, by the Countess of Oxford; afterwards Rector of West Walton, Norfolk, Chaplain of the Earl of Moray.
  • 27. Son of Rowland Dennis of Worcester, A.M. New Coll. Oxon 1726, Vicar or Radford Semely, co. Warwick, and Chaplain to Archbishop Blackbura.
  • 28. Vicar of Seaham.
  • 29. Several of these were only probably assistants,, or Sub-Curates. N. F.
  • 30. 1660. Arreares resting by Thomas Ewbancke, whose estate is rained, and he in prison, 1l. 10s.; by Anthony Smyth, his estate ruined, and he absent, 9s.; by George Hawrle, whose Pawnes are in decay, 4s. Item, 6s. wh Andrew Nixon's man ran away with. 1670, a warrant against the Pan men 1s, 2d; 1671, for 2 bookes being a forme of prayer for the severall forces, 5s.; 1675, paid Mr. Trolop for the font 3l. 10s.; for an houreglasse 8d.; (the honest Vicars used frequently, I believe, to set their glass up, and preach it fairly out, stopping when their sand was down.) 5 July 1682, and agreement with Thomas Richardson to lead the Chapel.
  • 31. The scite of this house, with a few buildings below it, form almost the only ancient freehold in Shields. Tradition affirms, that the scite was the direct high road from the Bank-top to the river (but abandoned in consequence of its steep descent), and that it was first built upon in the time of Oliver Cromwell.
  • 32. Mickleton's MSS. Episc. Library Durham.
  • 33. Horsley, Brit. Rom. 286.
  • 34. Philos. Transac. No. 145, from whence it has been copied into Gale's Itinerary of Antonine, and Camden's Britannia. It is also engraved and described at large in Bourne, p. 176.
  • 35. Horsley, Brit. Rom. 287.
  • 36. This coin of Aurclius may add some confirmation to Dr. Lister's reading of the stone inscribed to the Deae Matres, which Horsley thinks might refer to Caracalla or Commodus. The coins of the Lower Empire prove, that the Station was not deserted till the reign of Valentinian, when the Roman Eagle took his final flight from Britain.
  • 37. Additions to the Britannia, III. 254.
  • 38. "I Know no better conjecture with respect to this etymology than that it has been the Warken Dyke, or Wrought Dyke; that is, a dyke of great labour and work, according to our Northern pronunciation. It consists of firm gravel and sand, very hard and compact, so as to make a very good way at this time (1731), at all seasons of the year. I also believe it has a mixture of stone, or somewhat of pavement." Horsley.
  • 39. Letter from Dr. Hunter to Roger Gale, Esq. 1735; and see, for fuller extracts, and several additional observations, Hutchinson, vol. II. p. 486-7.
  • 40. This is probably a mere corruption; if not, it would imply the road in a straight line. The word is still well understood in this sense in the North.
  • 41. Here the Agger, though used for so many centuries as a common road, is still, perhaps, distinguishable.
  • 42. 1750, Wreken Dyke is the boundary between Gateshead Fell and Eighton Common, and may be seen as it passes through Eighton quarries, and at the North end of Eighton village. Hunter's notes.
  • 43. See STANLEY, hereafter.
  • 44. On the latter property several good houses have been lately built. Mr. Fairles also has a small freehold in Westoe.
  • 45. Unless the name be taken at second-hand from some connection with Heortenesse. St. Hilda, it must be recollected, (the common patroness of Shields and of Hartlepool) is said to have migrated from this immediate district (ad septentrionalem partem Wiræ, &c.) coastwise to Hartlepool, and thence to Whitby.
  • 46. Mr. Blenkinsop's farm is partly in Southwick, partly in Hedworth. Mr. Ingham's is in Southwick and Monk-Wear-mouth. Mr. Atkinson's in Monk-Wearmouth, Fullwell, and Monekton.
  • 47. The whole district of Simonside lies to the West of East Boldon lane, and pays Easter dues to the Church of Jarrow.
  • 48. D. & C. Treas. 4, 5 ae Spec. To this early charter is appended the plain cross, which forms the reverse of the Conventual Seal afterwards used, bearing the head of King Oswald.
  • 49. Umfraville.
  • 50. Malo Talliatore; Mal tayleur, a soubriquet, like Mauleverer, Mauclerk, Mauduit, &c.
  • 51. Bittlesden hodie.
  • 52.
  • 53. i. e. The curved keel, for the model, with this exception, seems to have been the result of the united talent and information of the Boat-committee.