St John's church

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

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Eneas Mackenzie, 'St John's church', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 342-357. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "St John's church", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 342-357. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "St John's church", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 342-357. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

In this section



It is neither known at what time nor by whom this church was founded. Bourne saw a charter, dated 1287, in which were these words:—" Venellum quo iter ad ecclesiam Sancti Johannis," which shews that it was then erected. It probably had been finished just about this time, as the architecture displays those distinctive lineaments of the English style which began to prevail at the commencement of the reign of the first Edward. Great alterations were probably made, both in the steeple and body of the church, by the pious and munificent Robert Rhodes. His arms, which were in two of the other churches, are found here also, under the belfry: they are also placed over the window, on the outside of the south cross. One William Hutton is conjectured to have been one of the first benefactors to this church, from some punning devices, expressive of his name, after the manner of those times, which were long preserved in the glass of one of the south-east windows of the south cross, and upon one of the pillars before the western gallery. (fn. 1) In the year 1379, this place occurs with the title of "capella," or "chapel."

The porch of this church was rebuilt in the year 1710: and in the same year, the north gallery was built to accommodate 33 persons, by Mr. Robert Percival, pinmaker, who was a great benefactor to this church. In 1723, the steeple was new pointed by the corporation, and the church by the parishioners. At this time, it appears, by the common council books. September 20, 1724, that the names of the mayor. M. Featherstonhaugh. &c. engraved on a stone, were set up in the steeple of this church, with an order, " that lest it might be claimed as a precedent for such repairs, that the said steeple ought to be repaired by the parishioners." This church was beautified in the year 1765.

In 1785, the old organ-gallery was removed, and a new and enlarged one erected. The aisles also were levelled, and pews made in the north aisle. In 1800, Thomas Fenton, Henry Sunderland, Matthew Brown, and John Darnell, being churchwardens, the church was painted and ornamented, at an expense of £452. The parishioners resisted the imposition of a rate to discharge this debt, on the plea, 1. That the expenditure was wanton and profuse; 2. That it had not been sanctioned by a general meeting of the parishioners, and recorded in the parish-book; 3. That they, the church-wardens, had wasted the goods of the church. A case, containing these objections, was drawn up, and submitted to the consideration of R. H. Williamson, Esq. the recorder, who thought that a rate for the full sum expended might be legally resisted, but advised the parishioners to take the opinion of a civilian on the subject. Mr. Swabey was accordingly applied to. He thought the conduct of the church-wardens had been irregular, and that the expenditure was profuse. At length, the parishioners agreed to pay £320 by a church-cess, and to raise £140 by a voluntary subscription.

A drain, in 1809, was made from the north-west part of the church to the south door, near to which it joins the common sewer. In 1811, the church and the pews were repaired; and in 1818, the north gallery was erected, and a small vestry was built adjoining to the old one. But the internal repairs of this church are frequent and expensive, it being peculiarly liable to the dry-rot, for which no effectual remedy has yet been devised.


There were anciently three chantries in this church; one dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr, a second to the Virgin Mary, and the last to the Trinity.

St. Thomas' Chantry was founded about A.D. 1319, by Adam of Durham, a burgess of Newcastle, for the souls of his father and mother, &c. and his own. Sir Roger de Burnet (fn. 2) occurs as first chaplain in the deed of foundation, by which the mayor and bailiffs of Newcastle are appointed patrons. The yearly value of this chantry was £4, 3s. arising out of property in the Sandhill and Westgate. John Ragge (alias Rige) was the last incumbent, and had an annual pension of £3, 16s. (fn. 3)

Our Lady's Chantry was founded by Edward Scott, in the time of Edward III. Its yearly value was £4, 4s. 4d. out of property in Sandhill and Westgate.

The Chantry of the Holy Trinity is said to have been founded by John Dalton, William Atkinshawe, and Andrew Accliffe, clerks. Its yearly value was £5 13s. 4d. arising out of tenements in Westgate and the Side, and one with a close without the Westgate. Bertram Bertley was the last incumbent, and had a pension of £5 per annum, which he enjoyed in 1553.


This church, agreeably to the opinion of Bourne, has probably been built about the year 1287, in the first stage of English or Pointed architecture, which was characterized by plainness and simplicity. The north side retains marks of the original style in which it was erected. The south side displays features of a more light and embellished order. The wall, instead of the plain parapet, is ornamented with battlements; and the buttresses, which project more boldly, are terminated in pinnacles, decorated with crockets. The windows, too, instead of being divided by one or two mullions, and surmounted with a single or triple circle, or quatrefoil, are portioned out by mullions into a variety of separate lights, and their heads are diversified by simple and chaste tracery-work.

This church is entered on the west by two doors; one on the north side of the tower, and the other in the south porch. These doors open upon the grand west entrance, which is 19 feet 7 inches in breadth. The choir extends from this place to the chancel, and measures 69 feet 6 inches in length. Three arches divide the aisles, which are 351/6 feet in breadth; but the breadth, including the north and south transepts, is 88½ feet. The chancel is 54 feet 10 inches in length, and 19 feet in breadth. (fn. 4) A porch near the communion-place leads into the chancel; and on the opposite side is the entrance into the vestries. Most part of the chancel is pewed. The church is low, and the ceiling plain and whitened.

Some time after the erection of the church, there has been an addition made to the west side of the north cross: and which, with great probability, is supposed to have been the chantry of St. Thomas. The old vestry is conjectured to have been another chantry. There is a niche in the wall evidently intended to hold holy water. In one of the south windows of the choir there was painted glass, said to be a representation of the Trinity. (fn. 5)

Many of the large windows of this church were formerly ornamented with painted glass; and the great eastern window of the chancel still contains many curious specimens. Brand says, "In the middle compartment at the top, within a crown of thorns, are the three first letters in the Greek name of Jesus. Underneath is a personage seated with a globe on his knee, with surrounding figures, in the act of adoration— probably meant for Christ. Below, the arms of England, quarterly, three lions passant gardant, and three fleurs de lis.—Supporters, a dragon on the side facing the spectator's right—the other seems a lion.—A skin mark.—In the compartment facing the spectator's left, the arms of the town of Newcastle—those of Thornton underneath. In the compartment facing the spectator's right hand, Lucy and Percy. Also the arms of Ord—with many inverted skin marks and mutilated inscriptions. 'Pro animabus,' &c." A brilliant specimen of painted glass, representing Jesus Christ with the Cup of the Last Supper, was lately inserted in this window. It was executed by Mr. John Gibson, an ingenious ornamental and house-painter, who has paid much attention to the long-neglected art of enamelling in glass.

The body of this church, the chancel, and the north and south cross, are crowded with seats. The north and west galleries are calculated to accommodate a great number of persons. The gallery, on the south side, is appropriated to the children of the charity-school. The pulpit stands close by the south-east pillar of the middle aisle; but the present archdeacon has suggested the propriety of removing it to the north-west corner of the chancel.


The communion-table of this church was given by Mr. Robert Crow in 1712; and Lady Musgrave, in 1754, bequeathed an altar-cloth and cushion. On the altar-piece there is a painting by Henry Mort, representing cherubs ascending and descending in the clouds, under a crimson curtain with gold fringe. In 1800, Mr. Fenton, the acting church-warden, and his associates, expended £125 in purchasing a new velvet covering, and in painting and gilding about the altar. (fn. 6)


The font, as in all ancient churches, formerly stood in the west porch, where the cover is still suspended. It now stands in the south cross. Bourne, quoting the Milbank MS. says, "In the year 1639, when the Scots sought to deface the ancient monuments, and said they were papistry, and superstition, they began with the spoon of this church's font, and broke it all to pieces. It had been given by one John Bertram. For there was written about it; 'For the honour of God and St. John, John Bertram gave this font stone.' Cuthbert Maxwell, a mason, observing the barbarity of the Scots, came in haste to St. Nicholas, and saved the spoon of that font in it's vestry, and also that of All-hallows. He lived, after the king return'd, to set them up again." The present font has probably been the gift of Andrew Bates, A. M. appointed lecturer of this church in the year 1689, as there is a shield on it with the arms of that ancient family.


An organ, or rather "organes," in this church. are mentioned in the year 1570. (fn. 7) The present organ was built by subscription in 1734, on which occasion the corporation gave 20 guineas. In 1736, Charles Avison was appointed organist, with a salary of £20 per annum, paid by the corporation. On removing to St. Nicholas' church, he was succeeded by James Clark Sadler. The organ soon became useless, until 1748, when Mr. Bridges, of London, proposed to put it in order for £160. Mr. Avison, on condition that he should be allowed to hold the office of organist by deputy, paid £100 towards repairing the instrument: the rest was raised by a subscription. On the resignation of Charles Avison. jun. in 1777. Mr. Simpson was appointed. In 1794. the organist's salary of £20. which had for 28 years been paid by the corporation. was taken from the church-eess. In 1785, the organ was repaired by Donaldson. at a cost of £132: and. in 1818, it was again repaired. and received additions, by Messrs. Wood and Co. Edinburgh. A subscription was made to pay the expense. which amounted to £126. This year, Mr. Simpson retired, and Miss Kinlock was elected organist.

The Steeple is a very plain square tower, containing a clock and six indifferent bells. In the Vestry there is preserved a curious specimen of old carving, on what has been part of an ancient chest: the subject, George and the Dragon. The vestry-books have not been well kept. The Register (fn. 8) begins in January, 1587.


In the chancel,—"This is the burial-place of Thomas Errington, merchant adventurer." These words are writ about the arms cut upon the stone:—

"Remember Death,
God's word ne'er shun,
With wings Time flieth
Whilst glass doth run."

"The burial place of William Wallas mercer, and merchant adventurer of England. He departed this life the 23d day of September 1664. William Wallas son of the said William departed this life the 11th day of January anno 1688, ætatjs suæ 23." On the same stone, "The burial place of Christopher Fawcitt, Esq. and family. He died the 10th of May, 1795, æt. 82."—"The burial place of Charles Clark barbar chyrurgeon. He departed the 2d of August 1667. Margaret his wife departed this life the 30th day of March 1683." At the bottom of the arms, "De pretient' Dei."—"The burial-place of the Rev. Matthew Forster, lecturer of this church, who dyed October 23d 1723, aged 46."—" Oswold Chayter lining weaver 38 year clerk of this church, departed to the mercy of God July 21st A. D. 1623, aged 68 years."

On a stone near the altar,—"Hie quod remanit Johannis Shaw hujus ecclesiæ pastoris: Deo, ecclesiæ, patriæ, regi pie fidelis—obiit Maii 22° A.D. 1689, Ætatis suæ 77."

Near the altar table,—

"Sepulchrum Roberti Fenwick mercatoris & Dorotheæ uxoris ejus suorumque filiorum & filiarum. Ille obiit Sept. die 8vo. A. D. 1689, ætatis suæ 61. Robert filius natu maximus obiit 23 die Martii 1690. Illia obiit 15 Julii 1701. Petrus Potts Geners Annam filiam eorum natu maximam duxit uxorem ex quo liberos suscepit quorum sex sibi fuere superstites (viz.) Dorothea, Jana, Maria, Petrus, Robertus, Johannes; illa obiit 3° April A. D. 1719, ætatis suæ 63."

"The burial place of Mr. John Bell, merchant adventurer, & Margaret his wife Margaret Bell died the 21st of November, 1710, aged 55. John Bell died the 22d of June, 1716, aged 62."—"Sepulchrum Radulphi Scourfield generosi qui obiit Februarii 16, 1675, et Janæ uxoris ejus quæ obiit Maii 12°, 1689. Quorum filius Radulphus Scourfield Armiger, de comitatu Northumbrie quondam vicecomes, obiit Septembris 1°, 1728."—"The burial place of John Clutterbuck, gent, and Barbara his wife, and their children. Hannah buried July 16th, 1683. Catherine buried July 23d, 1683. James buried April 3d, 1692. Barbara his wife buried September 2d, 1695. Richard their son departed the 9th of November 1702. He departed the 3d of July 1717."

In the chancel, much defaced,—

"Exuviæ Gulielmi Astell quas sub die resurrectionis spe fideliter hie custodiendas lubens deposuit... ....... Sept. 14. A°. Domini MDCL....III. Iterumque die illo magno....crucis Hinc cum gaudio petendæ Gloriose induet immortalitatem.
Stay, reader, stay, who wouldst but canst not buy
Choice books, come read the churches library,
Which like Sybelline leaves here scatter'd flies
Perus'd alas here by men's feet, that lies
In single sheets, then neatly to be bound
By God's own hand, when the last trump shall sound;
Amongst the rest glance on this marble leaf,
"Tis Astell's title page and therefore brief.

Here lies the reliques of a man And great good Shepherd humbly lay
But who was truly christian To his mad flock a bleeding prey,
Whose sounder judgment frantic zeal Who cheerfully sustained the loss
Never hurried on her wheel Of all for his dread Master's cross,
Of giddy error, whose heart bled Triumphant Charles hee"s gone to see
When rebel feet cut off their head, For militant praise heav'n's victory."

"Hie jacet Johannes Astell Armiger & Maria uxor ejus, ille obiit 17 die Martii Anno Domini 1633, aetat. 73. Hæc 22 Maii 1658, ætatis suae 95."—"Here lies interred the body of Peter Astell, gentleman: he departed this life 19th March 1678, and had issue by Mary his wife two sons and a daughter. William his son departed this life 15 March 1672."

On the north wall is a mural monument, inscribed,—

"To the memory of Bridget Featherstonhaugh, daughter of Henry Fcatherstonhaugh, B. D. formerly of St. John's College, Cambridge, afterwards master of St. Mary Magdalen's Hospital in this town, and successively lecturer of St. John's and All Saints' churches. Bridget was the last in descent from that branch of the ancient family of Featherstonhaughs, of Featherstonhaugh Castle, in Northumberland, which settled at Kirkoswald, in Cumberland, in the beginning of the 17th century. She died at Newcastle on the 24th Feb. A. D. 1815, aged 69 years."

"Under the middle aisle of this church are deposited the remains of Thomas Anderson, Esq.

"Sacred to the memory of Nathaniel Clayton, B. D. formerly fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, rector of Ingram. and vicar of Whelpington, in the co. of Northumberland, rector of Aberdaron in North Wales, master of the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen in Newcastle upon Tyne, and fifty years lecturer of tins church. He resigned his spirit to him that gave it Aug. 8th, 1786, in the 78 year of his age. His earthly remains were interred without the walls of this church, near the south aisle. He married Grace, one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Nicholas Fenwick, of London, merchant, by whom he had issue three sons and one daughter: Nathaniel, who died an infant; and Robert, Nathaniel, and Sarah, now living."

In the north cross is a monument,—

"To the memory of William Burnup, builder, who departed this life 15th Feb. 1819, aged 68 years, A man whose abilities and strict integrity gained him the respect, whilst his urbanity of manners and kind disposition secured him the esteem and love of all who knew him."

In the north aisle,—Henry Shaw, 1715—Sanderson—Whithouse—Thomas Hutchinson, sword cutler, July, 1655—Dawson—Aubone—Bacon—Peter Fewell—John Bennet. Escutcheon: "Thomas Wolfall, pastor of St. John's."—Christopher Cook— Thomas Robinson, merchant—Rayne—Robert Carr—Yielder—Hall—Edward French—"The burial place of Robert Bonner, Esq. of High Callerton."—"Sacred to the memory Charles Ilderton, of Ilderton, Northumberland, Esq. who departed this life the 10th day of Dec. 1793, aged 41 years. His remains lie interred in the middle aisle of this church."

On the east side of the south cross is a neat mural monument, with masonic emblems, and the following inscription:—

"This stone was erected by the Master, Wardens, and Brethren of the Newcastle upon Tyne Lodge, No. 26, of Free and Accepted Masons, as their tribute to the memory and worth of their late brother, Richard Fennings, who departed this life on the first day of March, 1815, aged 31 years."

On the opposite side of the cross is the funeral monument of Thomas Menham, sen. who died in 1782.

In the south aisle and cross,—On a very large stone, the arms of Bertram; and underneath those of the merchant-adventurers. Initials R. B. crest, seemingly a bull's head out of a coronet. Robert Bertram was sheriff of Newcastle 1522.—"The burial place of Robert Wheatley, (fn. 9) cordwainer, with Elizabeth his wife, and their children." Arms of the company of cordwainers.—"George Nicholson deputy townclerk: he departed 16 February 1624 and Margaret his wife;" with the following singular Latin inscription: "Corpus heus animus conclusum Libera clarus Est fruiter spectat carcere pace Deum;" which Brand thus translates: "The body, alas! is shut up in this prison; the bright mind enjoys free peace and beholds its God."—"Tomkins 1639–1666."—"Robert Bredy physician ob. 11 July 1723, aged 54 years."— "George Gatis."

In the south aisle a neat mural monument announces, that, "Near this place, by the side of his father, sleep the remains of William Cornforth Lowes, of Ridley Hall, Esq. who died November 17, MDCCCX. in his twenty-first year." Another adjoining monument bears this inscription, "In the middle aisle of this church are deposited the remains of Sarah Lowes, who died the 29th of May, 1808, aged 86 years. Also of her sister, Mary Lowes, who died Dec. 12, 1815, aged 85 years, daughters of John and Eleanor Lowes, of Ridley Hall, Northumberland. In gratitude and affection, this tablet is erected to the memory of departed excellence. The righteous shall be held in everlasting remembrance."—"M. S. Radulphi Waters et Annæ Michaelis Kirkhouse fille et hæredis exqua Percara conjuge prolem suscepit Gulielmum Margeriam Marguretum ab hae luce semotos Radulphum Henricum Thomam Annam jamnune superstites ille die Novembris XXIX. Anno Salutis MDCCCXI. Ætatis suæ XXXI. obiverunt Flebiles."

In the cross aisle, "Sepulchrum Edwardi Bell et Manse uxons ejus;—"Jhu have marcy nponn the soull of John Wilkenson marchant a venturer and draper, sometyme maior of this towne, and Margeree and Margaret his two wyffes and thre children, Anno 1570, the 16 of Marche."—" John Relief—" Adam Askew. M. B. died January 15, 1773, anno ætatis 77." He purchased the burial-place of Kellet, where he lies interred.

West end and middle aisle, "William Scott, linen-draper."—" Bartho' Anderson."


On an upright stone,—"The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance. Sacred to the memory of William Charnley. bookseller, who died August 9, 1803. aged 76. Elizabeth, his wife, who died March 29. 1814, aged 72. John, their son. who died July 4, 1797, aged 18. Elizabeth, their daughter, who died.October 16. 1815, aged 38; and of Ann, James, and Thomas, other three of the children, who died in infancy. William Charnley, son of the above, died July 1, 1819, aged 47. Holmes, son of Emerson Charnley, died in infancy."—"Erected to the memory of Sarah Maria, wife of John Gray, Esq. ob. May 24, 1819, æt. 21."—"The family burial-place of Cuthbert Pigg, many years surveyor of this town. He died Feb. 6, 1811, aged 73 years."—"In memory of Josiah Robinson, who departed this life the 1st Feb. 1792, aged 69 years. He was much respected in private life: and the propriety with which he filled an arduous department in the town's clerk's office, upwards of 30 years, will be long and deservedly remembered."—"Solomon Strologer, organist of All Saints', died Dec. 19, 1779. aged 77."—"William Yielder, Esq. ob. 15th Sept. 1807, æt. 79."—"Francis Hurry, ob. 8 March, 1808, æt. 79."—"Sacred to the memory of Robert Rumney, of Warden, Northumberland, Esq. who died August 6, 1816, aged 65 years. Elizabeth Crawford, sister of the above Robert Rumney, died 28th March, 1823, aged 69 years."

On a table monument,—

"Here lie the remains of John Cunningham. Of his excellence as a pastoral poet, his works will remain a memorial for ages, after this temporary tribute of esteem is in dust forgotten. He died in Newcastle Sept. 18th, 1773, aged 44 years. Also of his friend and associate, Robert Carr, printer. He died Jan. 1st, 1783, aged 45."

At the end of this stone,—"He cull'd the essence of simplicity, and arrang'd it in pastoral verse."

On an adjoining stone,—

"Sacred to the memory of John Howard, author of a Treatise on Spherical Geometry, and many other ingenious mathematical and poetical pieces. He died March 26, 1799, aged 46.

Poets themselves must fall like those they sung,
Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue."

"The burial place of Thomas Slack, Newcastle. Frances Slack died June 29, 1765, aged 3 years. Margaret Slack died June 18, 1768, aged 2 years. Jane Slack died July 19, 1776, aged 21 years. Ann Slack, wife of T. Slack, died April 25, 1778, aged 58. Thomas Slack died June 13, 1784, aged 65 years. Ann Bell, his daughter, and wife of John Bell, merchant, died Dec. 11, 1784, aged 30. Elizabeth, fourth daughter, died June 20, 1789, aged 31."

"Sacred to the memory of Solomon Hodgson. In times of unexampled difficulty, the honest and independent conducter of the Newcastle Chronicle. As he would not stoop to court the smile of any man, so neither did he fear any man's frown; but, through the medium of an uncorrupted press, delighted in disseminating the principles of rational liberty and eternal truth. Nor was he less esteemed in private life. In his affections ever awake to the best sympathies of our nature. The manly vigour of his understanding found its equal only in the kindness of his heart. He died April 10, 1800, æt. 39. Hoc perpetuæ charitatis monumentum quaerga prestantifimum conjugem tenetur morens posuit Sara Hodgson."

Below the table is inscribed,—

"Sarah Hodgson died March 29, 1793, aged 7 years. Solomon Joseph Hodgson, died July 2, 1816, aged 17 years. Hannah Hodgson died Nov. 16, 1818, aged 27 years."

"I. H. S. Here lies William Warrilow, who died on the 13th Nov. 1807, in the 70th year of his age. Requiescat in Pace."—"George Scott, gent, died Dec. 31, 1797, aged 40."—"Here lieth the body of Mr. Stephen Cleasby, late of Barnard Castle, surgeon, who departed this life on the 9th day of July, A. D. 1800, aged 60 years."—"In memory of Mrs. Abbs, who departed this life the 21st of Nov. 1816, aged 67 years. Also her daughter Hannah, who died in infancy."—"Sarah, wife of Rear-admiral Watkins, ob. 27 May, 1824, æt. 47 years."

On the north side of the church is the burial-vault of John Hodgson, of Elswick, Esq. Under the flagged foot-path are several burial-places:—"James Boucher, Esq. died Nov. 10, 1821, aged 78 years."—"The burial-place of Susannah Lowes, wife of Mr. George Lowes, late of Bellister Castle, Northumberland, died 8th of April, 1823, aged 77 years."—"The burial-place of William Thomas, Esq. of Charlotte Square, who died 20th April, 1824, aged 66 years."—"The burial-place of George Robinson, late of this town, collector of the tolls, who departed this life the 9th day of August, 1824, aged 42 years." North of the church, "The burial-place of John Bell, landsurveyor. He departed this life the 12th day of January, 1816, and was interred here the 16th of the same month, leaving two sons and three daughters, together with a widow (his second wife), to lament the loss of a kind and worthy parent." This stone also contains the date of the death of his first wife, Margaret, and of four sons. Adjoining is another large upright stone, which marks "The dormitory of John Bell, bookseller and land-surveyor," where Ralph Spearman Bell, his infant son is interred. Between the south wall and flagged foot-path is a flat stone, inscribed, "The burial place of Edward Chicken, who was 25 years clerk of this parish." (fn. 10)

Here are also the burial-places of John Leighton, surgeon—George Lee, grocer— Charles Whitfield Burnet, surgeon—William Woodman, merchant—William Alder, innkeeper—Thomas Brown, smith—Thomas Friend, merchant—George Todd, butcher—George Robison, cooper—John Harrison, baker—William Leadbitter, ironmonger—Matthew Forster, attorney-at-law—Samuel Brewster, coach-maker—Rev. William Pow, chaplain—John Wilson, cheese-monger—Joseph Atkinson, stationer —William Preston, ship-owner—William Richardson, currier—Joshua Straker, agent—John Robson, mason—John and Mary Horsley—Thomas Brown—William and Dorothy Scott—Robert Bell—John Hudson—Wilson Davison—William Tickle —James Proctor—Thomas Brown—Robert Howey—Henry and Edward Newbegin —Thomas Charlton—John Buddie—John Verty—George Fife—Moses Marshall— Richard Franks—William Cant—John Talintyre—John Hewitson—Ralph Hunter —Robert Hodgson—John Woodman—Gilfrid Ward—Cuthbert Berkley. Also the burial-place of the Featherstons, of Collingwood Street; of the families of Hemsley, Fenton, Ryle, Pollard, Birch, Dixon, Widdrington, Hindmarsh, Richmond, Nixon, Pringle, Hall, &c. &c.

In the year 1762, the Church-yard was inclosed by subscription with a brick wall and rail-work above, and planted round in the inside with lime and elm trees. The wall on the east side has lately been rebuilt, above which is placed iron railing, with an ornamental iron rail gate. This church-yard, though very spacious, is filled with the memorials of mortality. (fn. 11)


The vicar of Newcastle pays to the lecturer of this church £3, 10s. per annum, the king £4, 10d.

Jurdan. chaplain, occurs in a deed supposed about A. D. 1269. (fn. 13)

John Eland occurs (Randall's MSS. (fn. 14) ) in 1424.

William Talbot succeeded Eland in 1431.

Robert Bonner and Robert Wooler occur in 1500.

George Grave occurs in 1575. He died in 1579.

Humphrev Sicklemore occurs in 1580.

Thomas Maslet occurs in 1582. (Oswald Chaitor, parish-clerk, November 10, 1582.)

Lancelot Graye is mentioned in 1583.

Martin Liddall. clerk, occurs both in 1585 and 1586.

Edmund Robinson was curate before September 1589.

Mr. Bowland, curate, March, 1590.

John Murra, minister, August 22, 1590.

Henry Patteson occurs in 1591.

Clement Cockson, curate, before October 27, 1598.

Shaw, lecturer, occurs in 1614. (fn. 15)

Phil. Doncaster occurs 1626.

John Shaw occurs February 1, 1632. He died in 1637.

Robert Urquhart appointed July 28, 1637. (fn. 16)

Thomas Wolfal, June 14, 1647. He died before November 24, 1652.

William Cole appointed March 25, 1652–3. (fn. 17)

Henry Leaver in December, 1659. (fn. 18)

John Shaw, A. M. on Leaver's ejectment, August 27, 1662. (fn. 19)

Andrew Bates, A. M. appointed July 25, 1689. (fn. 20)

Matthew Forster, A. M. succeeded Bates in 1710. He died October 23, 1723. (fn. 21)

Henry Featherstonhaugh, B. D. appointed March 7, 1724.

Richard Cuthbert, B. D. appointed June 15, 1732. (fn. 22)

Nathaniel Clayton, B. D. September 29, 1736. (fn. 23)

Thomas Hornby, A. M. appointed September 21, 1786.

Robert Wilson, A. B. appointed 1796. (fn. 24)

Christopher Benson, A. M. chosen early in 1812. (fn. 25)

Henry Baker Tristram, A. B. appointed in February, 1820. (fn. 26)

Robert Hilton Scott succeeded H. B. Tristram in June, 1821.


Anthony Proctor was ordained priest September 25, 1664.

Mr. Bullock succeeded to the curacy at the end of 1688.

John Potts, A. B. of St. John's College, Cambridge, was the next curate.

Joseph Carr, A. M. of Trinity College, Cambridge, succeeded Potts.

John Thompson, A. M. of St. John's College, Cambridge, next occurs. (fn. 27)

John Brunton, A. B. of Christ's College, Cambridge, succeeded to this curacy.

J. Brown, clerk, curate of Kirkharle, appointed in 1780.

John Parkin, clerk, appointed in 1794. (fn. 28)

Henry Allison Dodd, M. A. chaplain of Queen's College, Oxford, licensed to this perpetual curacy July 24, 1826.


  • 1. " In one of the south-east windows of the south cross there is a coat of arms in the glass, but not coloured, viz. two fuller's clubs (I think), and in base, a tun. W.H. are set in the dexter and sinister points of the clubs—and in the west gallery, upon one of the pillars there is W. in the chief point, and underneath H.U. and a tun."—Dr. Ellison's MSS.
  • 2. Priests having the title of Sir were men in orders, though not graduated in an university. Founders of chantries usually preferred such priests, who, not being beneficed, were more at leisure to discharge the duties required.—Fuller's Ch. Hist. p. 352.
  • 3. Browne Willis, p. 166. In a deed preserved in All Saints' vestry, and dated May 24, 3 Henry VIII. mention occurs of land belonging to this chantry.—" Terra pertinen' cantarie Sancte Thome Martiris in Ecclesia Sancti Johannis."
  • 4. Grey, in his Chorography, says, "St. John's, a pretty little church, commended by an arch-prelate of this kingdome, because it resembleth much a crosse." Does not every church that has a north and south transept resemble a cross?
  • 5. "There is another thing at the top of this quire, which tho' little known, is yet of greater certainty; and that is, the funnel, or wood box, in the form of a spout, which hangs from the top of this quire. This was a conveyance for an artificial dove, on the day of Pentecost, in the times of Popery, to represent the descent of the Holy Ghost. That there were such things in churches, tho' in none that I know of in this town, but this; is matter of fact. For thus we are told, that on Whitsunday the Papists begin to play a new interlude. For then they sent down a dove out of an owl's nest, devised in the roof of the church. But first they cast out rosin and gunpowder with wild-fire, to make the children afraid; and that must needs be the Holy Ghost, which cometh with thunder and lightning."—Bourne, p. 24.
  • 6. Mr. Robert Rymer, of this town, in 1722 left to this church a large flaggon, a chalice, and a plate, all of silver, valued at £60, to be used at the Holy Communion; and in 1800, the church-wardens purchased two silver salvers. There is another silver plate, and a silver strainer, presented by Mr. George Anderson.
  • 7. From the will of Mr. John Wilkinson, merchant, dated February 1, 1570:—"I John Wylkinson &c. commend my soule unto almyghtie God and my bodye to be buryed in Saincte John church on the northe syde of the same church, nygh where the organes doithe stande." A little below this he thus orders:—"I wyll have the dyvyne service at the daye of my buryal, according to the lawes and custome of this realme. Item I wyll have delt and gevyn to the poore the daye of my buryal 40s. Item I wyll that myne executors shall in the daye of my burial make a dynner for my brethren the aldermen and for my neighbourheade in the Myddle Streete &c."
  • 8. Februarij 1588–9, "John Car gentleman and postmaster" occurs. September 1589, "Elswicke Stathe" occurs. "May 1589, Alice Stokoe the 13 May buried. She was servant to Thomas Hodgson butcher and did put downe herselfe in her maister's house in her own belt," i. e. hanged herself, a north country idiom. August 1589, Edward Erington the townes fooll buried the 23 of August died in the peste." October 1589, "Died this moneth of October on hundred 208 persons thre score and 3 children 32 young men and maids and 33 of marid folks being housholders 1589." December 1589, "Died in thys monethe December Mr. Willm Selbye major and John Gibson sheriffe 11 persons in the plage so that in all which hath died beffor this daie being the firste of Januarij in this towne it is counted by all the records in number to be in all 1727 persons wheroff 3 hundrede and 40 persons in St. John's 5 hundred and 9 persons at the chapell 3 hundred at Alhalows 4 hundred 9 persons at St. Andrew's on hundred" and......(Cætera desunt.)—See page 23.
  • 9. He is thought to have been the grandfather of Anthony Wheatley, Brand's maternal uncle. Since the memoir of that famous antiquary was printed (page 339), it has been discovered that his father, Alexander Brand, was parish-clerk of Washington, co. of Durham, where John was born on August 19, 1744, and baptized 10th of September, in the same year. His mother died immediately after his birth. Mr. Wheatley took him when a child, his father having married again.
  • 10. Edward Chicken was author of the "Collier's Wedding," one of the most interesting and descriptive local poems ever written. He was born in St. John's parish, Newcastle, in the year 1698. His father, Edward Chicken, who was admitted a member of the Incorporated Company of Weavers in 1689, died, leaving a widow, with two sons and a daughter in their minority. The boys received their education at the charityschool of their parish; and Edward, in 1718, was made free of the Weavers' Company, by whom he seems to have been esteemed; for, September 24, 1720, he was chosen elector; June 12, 1721, he was elected clerk; and, in 1723, he was both steward and clerk. His acquirements were sufficient to enable him to be a teacher of youth, which occupation he followed at his residence (now the Three Tuns public house) at the White Cross until his death. He received the support of many respectable families, and, about the year 1721, entered upon the duties of parish-clerk of this church. Mr. Chicken married Ann Jordan of Newcastle (who died 22d January, 1768), by whom he had, 1. Edward; 2. George, died in infancy; 3. Ellen, died unmarried, 25th October, 1810; 4. Catherine, died unmarried, 20th March, 1759. Edward, the eldest, in 1737 was prosecuting his studies under the direction of his uncle at Weremouth; and two years afterwards, he describes himself as an industrious student at the Grammar-school of Durham. He afterwards was sent to Cambridge. His first living was at Bridlington, and the next at Hornsey, in Yorkshire. He married Miss St. Ledger of that neighbourhood, and had one daughter. He was deprived of his wife by the upsetting of a boat off Flamboro', whilst out with a party of pleasure. This afflicting circumstance deeply affected his spirits, nor did he long survive the melancholy event. Edward, our poet, died 2d January, 1746. He was, it appears, "a fellow of infinite humour," and heartily disposed to render good offices to his neighbours. This cannot be more strongly exemplified than by stating that he was familiarly called "The Mayor of the White Cross," and frequently referred to for the adjustment of petty quarrels. At one time, a neighbour applied to him for advice and assistance, under circumstances of great poverty and distress. It being Saturday, Chicken ordered a round table to be placed in the street, around which he and some of his acquaintances placed themselves to smoke and drink ale. The novelty of the spectacle attracted the notice of the country-folk attending the market, and to whom the benevolent school-master depicted the sufferings of his neighbour in such affecting terms, that he soon collected a sum sufficient to save one "ready to perish." Besides the "Collier's Wedding," which is a faithful sketch of the "drunken, honest, working lives" of our pitmen about a century ago, Chicken wrote a satirical poem of 194 lines, entitled, "No, this is the Truth," in which two of the public characters of his time are described under the names of Cato and Felix. There is also preserved the commencement of a song, "humbly inscribed to Mr. Anthony Meggison, by E. Chicken." The other productions of our local bard have sunk into oblivion. The Rev. Robert Chicken, A. M. brother to Edward, was born in 1696, and, as before observed, educated at St. John's charity-school. He was also admitted into the Weavers' Company in 1741; but, by some means, he had previously procured admission into an university, where he obtained the degree of A. M. and subsequently the living of (Monk) Weremouth. Amongst some fragments of his MSS. in possession of Miss Elizabeth Sheville, of Newcastle, grand-daughter of his only sister, is a portion of a sermon preached by him for the benefit of the charity-school of St. John's, dated 6th June, 1727, in which he says, "I myself am an instance of your readiness to promote this charitable undertaking, as I myself have felt the influence and blessed effects of your bounty. It would scarce (I am afraid) become me to go about to persuade you to a duty in which (as I have found by a happy experience, and which I joyfully acknowledge) you excel so much already, It is with the utmost pleasure, and the utmost gratitude that a sense of such unmerited favours can inspire, that I now publish it to the world, that the charity which we are this day met to encourage has raised me from standing in the midst of these little ones to the honour at present of becoming their advocate. But tho' now it would be altogether superfluous to use any arguments to you, to whom I am directing my thanks, yet since there are others, perhaps, who hear me this day, that are not so well acquainted with my relation to this charity and these little ones, suffer me therefore awhile to crave a relief for those whose low condition I was once in myself, and to plead for my school-fellows, my companions, and my brethren." The humility and frankness of the preacher reflect honour upon him, and credit on the discrimination of his patrons. He died January 17, 1743. These biographical notices are selected from the preface of an intended new edition of the "Collier's Wedding," prepared for publication by William Cail, of Newcastle, agent.
  • 11. A boy, who was entered into St. John's charity-school under the patronage of Dr. Dockwray, was thought to have died. His school-fellows, according to custom, attended to sing at his funeral. On entering the church-porch, their voices reverberated so shrilly as to arouse him from his comatic attack, and he turned on his side to listen. The under-bearers, who were just setting the coffin upon the table, felt the motion, and, in a fright, informed the clergyman, who ordered the lid to be unscrewed. On perceiving that life had returned, he was immediately carried home to his aunt's house in the Low Friar Chare, where he was wrapped in a blanket, and, having drank a glass of cherry-brandy, was put to bed, and soon recovered. This is another instance of the danger and inhumanity of burying a body before the signs of dissolution have unequivocally appeared. The boy's name, who was thus accidentally rescued from an untimely grave, was Thomas Matfield. He afterwards became a keelman; and being in his old age turned out of the Keelman's Hospital for irregular conduct, died in All Saints' poor-house about seven years ago.
  • 12. Boundaries of the Parochial Chapelry of St. John's. The boundary line of this parish commences at the south side of the Bull and Mouth public house in Newgate Street, and, running southward, includes the west side of Newgate Street, the Nungate, Bigg Market, Union Street, Middle Street, Head of the Side, King Street, and Queen Street, to Bailey-gate. Taking in the north side of this street, is turns down Clavering Place, and, including Hanover Square, proceeds to the head of the Tuthill Stairs. From hence it runs along the brow of the hill, passing the White Friar Tower on the south, and including the whole of the ground formerly called the Butcher's Field. Turning northwards, it enters the road at the east end of Forth Terrace, and then, running westward, crosses the Forth Banks road, and passing round the Infirmary grounds, joins the road leading to the Maiden's Walk on the west side of the garden-house. It next skirts the garden on the west of the Forth grounds, and, taking in part of the garden adjoining to Mrs. Burt's house, enters Thornton Street at the end thereof. The line then proceeds past the west side of this street, up the Back Lane, and, turning down the road to Gallowgate, joins the boundary line of St. Andrew's parish, and runs to Mordaunt's Tower. From hence it proceeds along the wall, including Thornton Street; and, taking in Mr. Taylor's house, joins the commencement of the line a few yards south of the Darn Crook.
  • 13. Mention of this church again occurs in a mandate, dated at Aukland, March 19, 1419, to the archdeacon of Northumberland, to receive the purgation of William Medcalfe, of Morpeth, clerk, charged with stealing a horse and saddle from John Rauchif, of Morpeth, in the church of St. John in the town of Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • 14. The Randall MSS. so often quoted, were written by the Rev. Thomas Randall, who was born and educated at Eton: afterwards B. D. at Oxford; and next usher, and subsequently master to the Free School at Durham. In 1760. he had the vicarage of Whitworth. co. Durham, which, in 1768, he exchanged for the vicarae of Ellingham in Northumberland. Being devoted to the study of antiquities, he had free access to all the Libraries and public offices in the city of Durham, where he copied almost every record literatim. Dr. Hunter assisted him, and gave him many of his papers. He died October 25. 1775, and bequeathed his valuable MSS. consisting of 20 volumes in quarto, closely written, to Mr. G. Allan, of the Grange, near Darlington. From this circumstance originated Hutchinson's History of Durham. Mr. Allan died May 18, 1800.
  • 15. "Mr. Shaw was, about 1614, lecturer of St. John's, and had a salary quarterly paid him out of the town, and the like for several years after, during his continuance."—Randalfs MSS.
  • 16. His salary was £20 per annum; but, in 1643, it was raised to £40. In 1646, he sent to the common council a recantation of his principles, and expressed his sorrow for having preached against the parliament. After having suffered in the civil wars, he went abroad, turned Roman Catholic, and died in a convent. His place in St. John's was supplied by Messrs. Durant and Sydenham.
  • 17. Mr. Cole preached forenoon and afternoon. His salary was the same as that of his predecessor, namely, £150 per annum. "He was a polite man, and an eloquent preacher. He afterwards conformed." He had been minister of Kirby Kendal, in Westmoreland. Wolfal's widow was allowed £10 per annum by the common council.
  • 18. On Cole's resignation, Leaver "had a call" from Branspeth. He is said to have been "the descendant of a Popish prebendary of Durham of that name." He was deposed for non-conformity, and was buried in St. Nicholas' church June 6, 1673. He was remarkable for generosity and liberality. Besides his wife's jointure, he had an estate of his own of about £100 per annum, and had no children.—Kennet's Register, p.909.
  • 19. He was a clergyman's son, and born at Bedlington. He was first of Queen's College, and next of Brazennose, Oxford. In 1645, he was inducted to the rectory of Whalton, Northumberland, but in those troublesome times not permitted to enjoy it. In 1661, he left the small living of Bolton in Craven, Yorkshire, and returned to Whalton. He was twice or thrice a member of the convocation. Though a man of eminent learning and pure morals, he was severe and violent in dispute, and was imprisoned four years by the government of the Commonwealth. The corporation of Newcastle appear to have printed some of his writings against popery at their own expense. During some of the last years of his life, he was confined to his bed by the gout. He died May 22, 1689, aged 77 years.
  • 20. "Mr. Andrew Bates, a gentleman born, came to St. John's—he had in writing a scuffle with Dr. Gilpin, touching conformity, wherein the doctor was said to treat him with worse manners than were due to his birth, which was far superior to his own. But the doctor had the better of him, the gentleman's zeal far exceeding his abilities."—MS. Life of Barnes. His salary was £90, and £10 for his turn on Thursday's lecture. He was a good parish-priest, and did not neglect visiting the poor and the sick.
  • 21. He was "of St. Peter's College, Cambridge. A worthy generous man, who delighted in good works and acts of charity."—Bourne.
  • 22. He was removed from St. Ann's chapel, Sandgate; and was second son of John Cuthbert, serjeant-atlaw, and younger brother of William Cuthbert, Esq. respectively recorders of Newcastle. Being fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and A. M. he was licensed to Upletham chapel, co. of York, November 20, 1722. He was afterwards proctor of the university; and, in 1733, was presented by Trinity College to the vicarage of Kendal, where he died November 7, 1744, aged 48 years. "In his character, the Christian, the scholar, and the gentleman, rendered each other more illustrious."
  • 23. N. Clayton had been appointed to this lectureship by an order of common council, September 7, 1731; and one was to officiate for him nine months, on his going to Cambridge to take orders. See his epitaph in the chancel of this church.
  • 24. He died November 9, 1811, aged 54 years, and was buried in the nave of St. Nicholas' church. At his death, the right of appointing his successor was disputed between the vicar and the parishioners. A case was drawn up, and submitted to the opinion of two eminent civilians, who decided in favour of the vicar's claim. It was, however, arranged that the parishioners should nominate the candidates for the lectureship; but that the appointment should be made by the vicar.
  • 25. Christopher Benson, of Trinity and Magdalen Colleges, Cambridge, resigned this lectureship early in 1820, in consequence of being chosen Hulsean Lecturer in that university. The Rev. John Hulse, of Elworth Hall, co. of Chester, endowed a lectureship in divinity in St. John's College, Cambridge; and Mr. Benson was honoured with the first appointment under his will. The lecturer's duty is to preach and publish 20 sermons, chiefly on the truth and excellence of revelation. In May, 1824, he was inducted to the valuable rectory of St. Giles in the Fields, Middlesex, and was immediately pronounced the most eloquent and impressive preacher in the metropolis. In 1825, he was made a prebendary of Worcester cathedral. In August, 1826, he was presented to the mastership of the Temple, on the resignation of Dr. Rennell; and, the same month, married Bertha Maria, eldest daughter of James Mitford, Esq. Lincoln's Inn, grand-daughter of William Mitford, Esq. of Exbury in Hampshire, and great niece of Lord Redesdale.
  • 26. He is nephew to the late Lord Bishop of Durham. In March, 1820, he was presented with the vicarage of Bramham, co. of York; and July 11, 1821, he married Charlotte Jocelyn, daughter of the late Thomas Smith of the Inner Temple, and niece to the late Lord Donoughmore and Hutchinson. A short time previous to this, he was, when A. M. presented by the bishop of Durham to the vicarage of Eglingham, in Northumberland.
  • 27. April 15, 1765, there was an order of common council for the addition of £10 per annum to the lectureship of St. John's, on condition that the lecturer shall give no less than £30 per annum to his assistant curate, who was ordered by the same authority to officiate henceforth every other month at the gaol, with a salary of £10 per annum.
  • 28. "Died on Saturday (February 27, 1826), aged 68, the Rev. John Parkin, who for 31 years held the perpetual curacy of St. John's in this town. His many amiable qualities endeared him to all who knew him, and his death will be deeply lamented by a numerous circle of friends and acquaintances. His remains were interred at Earsdon, and, as a mark of respect to his memory, were attended out of town by the church-wardens, overseers, members of the twenty-four, and select vestry, of his parish."—Newcastle Chronicle. Mr. Parkin, it may be added, was educated under the able Mr. Yates, of Appleby. On April 21. 1787, he married Miss Jane Wright, who is now left a widow, with three sons and two daughters, one of whom is married to Mr. Thomas Ridley, agent. By a spontaneous and unanimous resolution of the vestry, his salary, in 1807, was augmented £20, which affords another proof of the high estimation in which his parishioners held his services.