Coquetdale Ward - South Division

Elsdon Parish


elsdon, an extensive parish forming the whole south division of Coquetdale Ward, is bounded on the north by Holystone chapelry, on the west by Ramshope and Scotland, on the south by Tindale Ward, and on the east by Rothbury. The parish, which is about 20 miles in length, and from six to twelve miles in breadth, comprises an area of 74,917 acres, and its population in 1801, was 1,694; in 1811, 7,821; in 1821, 1,848; in 1831, 1,724; in 1841, 1,680; and in 1851, 1643 souls. It embraces the townships of Elsdon Ward, situated on a branch of the river Reed; and those of Monkridge Ward, Otterburn Ward, Rochester Ward, Troughend Ward, and Woodside Ward. It is an extensive vale, enclosed on the north side by an irregular ridge of hills, and on the south by a ridge much more regular. The hills on both sides are of considerable elevation, and invariably clad in heath, except a small part of those near the source of the river Reed, where they begin to participate in the nature of those in Roxburghshire. Several brooks, or burns, fall into the Reed from the hills on both sides. The parish appears to have been at one time almost an entire forest, and several remnants of it still remain on the banks of the Reed, consisting of birch, alder, and willow, with here and there a mountain ash. In the forests of the Reed and the Tyne, were reared those brave and dexterous archers, who often, tried their skill with the bold rangers of Ettrick Forest:—

"In Redesdale his youth had heard
Each art her wily dalesmen dared;
When Rooken-edge and Reedswair high,
To bugle rung, and bloodhound's cry,
Announcing Jedwood's axe and spear,
 And Lid'sdale's riders in the rear;
And well his venturous life had proved
The lessons that his childhood loved."


Some years ago this parish displayed little else than large neglected heaths and extensive morasses, which exhibited the most desolate appearance; but the spirit of improvement moved over these uncultivated wilds, large tracts of barren moor were enclosed, and converted into grazing ground for the rearing and feeding of cattle and sheep. This parish contains some fine seams of coal, and there are numerous collieries throughout the district. Limestone and ironstone also-abound here.

elsdon ward is a township and village in this parish, the property of the Duke of Northumberland, Charles William Ord, Esq., Robert Delisle, Esq., the trustees of Rothbury Grammar School, and several freehold proprietors. It contains 6,404 acres, and its rateable value is 2,103. The number of inhabitants in 1801, was 267; in 1811, 325; in 1821, 299; in 1831, 306; in 1841, 282; and in 1851, 313 souls. The lordship of Elsdon was formerly the property of the Clennell family, from whom it passed to the Greys of Chillingham, and afterwards to Charles Howard, Esq., of Overacres, whose son sold it to the first Duke of Northumberland, in whose family it still remains.

the village of Elsdon is pleasantly situated eighteen miles W.N.W. of Morpeth. It is supposed to have been a Roman town in the time of M. Aurelius Antonius, and was probably the first of a chain of forts between Watling-street and its eastern branch, called the Devil's Causeway. At a short distance north-east of the village is an entrenchment designated Moat Hill; it is of a conical shape, surrounded by a moat, or ditch, and is supposed to have been used as a watch-hill and place of sepulture by the Romans. There are also several other "remains" in the neighbourhood. The market is held on Tuesday, and a fair for cattle, sheep, linen, and woollen cloth, is held on the 26th of August. the church, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, is a large, ancient, cruciform structure, and having lately undergone extensive repairs, is now in a good state of preservation. The living is a rectory in the archdeaconry of Lindisfame and deanery of Rothbury, valued in the Liber Regis at 20; gross income, 700. The tithes were commuted in 1839, aggregate amount 800. Patron, the Duke of Northumberland; rector, the Rev. John Baillie, M.A.; curate, the Rev. Robert S. Moore, B.A. the rectory house is the ancient castle of Elsdon. It is a square embattled tower, and on its front are sculptured the arms of the Umfravilles. Here is a school under the patronage of the rector, who gives 30 per annum towards its support. There is also a library containing 160 volumes, which is supported by subscriptions. William Moffett, schoolmaster, librarian, and parish clerk.

charities. - Martin Hall, in 1703, bequeathed a rent charge of 1 4s. to the poor of this parish; and John Hedley, in 1746, left 40, the interest of which was to be distributed amongst the poorest people in Elsdon Ward and Woodside Ward, either on St. John's day or Easter Monday, at Elsdon Church. Through the insolvency of a person to whom this money was lent, only 7 10s was devoted to the purposes of the charity. This sum was placed out, and its interest, amounting to 7s. 6d. per annum, is divided amongst the poor of the two divisions above mentioned.

monkridge ward is a township one mile and three quarters west by south of Elsdon. It comprises an area of 5,451 acres, and its rateable value is 1,321. Population in 1801, 98; in 1811, 109; in 1821, 109; in 1831, 106; in 1841, 111; and in 1851, 93 souls. The principal proprietors are Nicholas R. Reed, Esq., Sir Walter Trevelyan, Bart., Charles W. Ord, Esq., Nicholas Maughan, Esq., and Henry and Edward Storey, Esqs. This township consists principally of luxuriant pastures, and was formerly the property of some religious establishment, the ruins of which, in the shape of hewn stones, are found here. Monkridge Ward produces coal and ironstone in large quantities. Here are the remains of a large entrenched camp, but whether Roman or British it is not determined.

otterburn ward is a township and small village the property of the Duke of Northumberland, Robert Delisle, Esq., Richard B. Sanderson, Esq., Lord Decies, Lord Redesdale, T. Wilkinson, Esq., Thomas James, Esq., the Misses Davidsons, Messrs. Murray, Messrs. Storey, and Mr. William Hedley. The township contains 8,517 acres; its rateable value is 2,870, and the number of inhabitants in 1801, was 364; in 1811, 397; in 1821, 388; in 1831, 385; in 1841, 412; and in 1851, 415 souls. The manor of Otterburn was the property of the Umfravilles at a very early period, but we find that it was possessed by the Crown in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, since which period it has belonged to several families. This township is pleasantly situated on the north side of the Reed water, and contains the remains of many old "Peels" and "Cairns." the village of Otterburn is on the north bank of the Reed three miles west of Elsdon. Here is a United Presbyterian chapel, erected in 1834, upon a site given by Thomas James, Esq., of Otterburn Tower. This place is celebrated as the scene of a desperate contest between the English and Scots, under the command of Henry Percy and Earl Douglas, in which the former was taken prisoner and the latter killed. The battle was fought by moonlight on the 19th August, 1388. Half a mile from the village, in a stunted wood, and about one hundred yards from the road, stands a ruined cross of some twenty or thirty feet high, to mark the spot where Douglas fell. An avenue has been left in the wood from the road to the cross, to allow those who love to trace the scenes of ancient poesy and story, to visit the spot, where, according to one of the best ballads in our language—

"Leaving life, Earl Percy took
The dead man by the hand,
 And said—Earl Douglas, for thy life
Would I could give my land."

otterburn Tower, a fine old mansion, ornaments the village.

rochester ward is a township and village, the property of the Duke of Northumberland, Lord Redesdale, Ralph Carr, Esq., the heirs of the late Nicholas Dodd, Esq., Robert Delisle, Esq., John Davison, Esq., Cuthbert Ellison, Esq., A. C. Forster, Esq., W. Ord, Esq., Lord Decies, and others. The township contains 22,068 acres, and its rateable value is 4,246. Population in 1801, 379; in 1811, 437; in 1821, 491; in 1831, 467; in 1841, 437; and in 1851, 446 souls. The Duke of Northumberland is lord of the manor. the village of Rochester is situated seven and a half miles W.N.W. of Elsdon, and in its neighbourhood are a few remains of the important Roman station Bremenium, where, during some excavations which were made about two years ago, many coins, altars, &c. were brought to light. This station occupied the brow of a steep rocky hill, commanding the pass of Redesdale. Steep and rugged hills rise upon every side except the south, where the Reed pursues its course through a deep valley. From its position and the manner in which it was defended, this station was esteemed the strongest the Romans possessed in the north. The Roman road, called Watling Street, crossed the Reed at Elishaw, and passed close by the eastern side of this station, and that at Chew Green, whence it proceeded northward and entered Scotland at Black Hall Hill. Many British remains have been discovered in this neighbourhood. rochester school was endowed in 1850 with 10 per annum by Lord Redesdale; there is also a house and garden for the teacher. redesdale cottage the residence of Edward Lawson, Esq., is a handsome mansion occupying an eminence on the Roman Road. At Horsley in this township there is a chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It was erected in 1844 at a cost of 725, of which sum the Church Building Society gave 150, the Diocesan Society 50, Lord Redesdale gave the site, stone, and a donation of 100, and the Duke of Northumberland contributed 150: the remainder was obtained by voluntary subscriptions. It is a chapel of ease to Elsdon parish, and forms a joint living with Byrness.

birdhope craig is a hamlet in this township situated eight and a half miles north-west by north of Elsdon. Traces of two large entrenchments are still observable near this place.

byrness is another hamlet in this township situated on the north bank of the Reed twelve miles north-west by west of Elsdon. There has been a burial ground here from time immemorial, and in consequence of its distance from the parish church, a Chapel of Ease was erected in 1800, and endowed with 1,750, of which 1,200 was given by the Rev. L. Dutens, at that time rector of Elsdon, 400 by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and 150 by the subscribers to the edifice. The living, a perpetual curacy in the archdeaconry of Lindisfarne and deanery of Rothbury, is in the patronage of the rector of Elsdon, and incumbency of the Rev. John Burrell. chapelry of byrness school. - Twelve children of poor parents within a limited distance of Byrness Chapel receive instruction from the resident curate, without any charge. The children are appointed by the rector of Elsdon, whenever a vacancy occurs.

elishaw is also a hamlet in this township, five miles west by north of Elsdon, and is the property of Lord Redesdale, Many vestiges of the Roman occupation of this country may still be observed in this neighbourhood. sillsburn foot is another hamlet situated eight miles W.N.W. of Elsdon at the western extremity of Rochester Ward.

troughend ward, a township situated on the south side of the Reed, four miles and a half west of Elsdon, is the property of the Duke of Northumberland, Lord Redesdale, Ralph Carr, Esq., James Dodds, Esq., Robert Delisle, Esq., Cuthbert Ellison, Esq., Nicholas R. Reed, Esq., William and Henry Thompson, Esqs., and others. The Duke of Northumberland is lord of the manor. The rateable value is 4,693 10s., and the area comprises 26,010 acres. The number of inhabitants in 1801, was 393; in 1811, 380; in 1821, 397; in 1831, 327; in 1841, 314; and in 1851, 264 souls. Coal is abundant in this township. troughend hall, the ancient residence of the Reed family, is now occupied by Messrs. William and Henry Thompson. garresheels and rattenraw are hamlets in this township; the former is situated on the south side of the Reed three miles and a half west of Elsdon, and the latter is about five miles and a half west by north of the same place.

woodside ward is a township, extending from one mile and a half to five miles north of Elsdon. It contains 6,467 acres, and its rateable value is 1,346. Population in 1801,193; in 1811, 173; in 1821, 164; in 1831, 131; in 1841, 124; and in 1851, 112 souls. The landowners are the Duke of Northumberland, who is also lord of the manor, C. W. Ord, Esq., W. Hedley, Esq., W. W. Bardon, Esq., C. A. Forster, Esq., Lord Decies, Sir W. B. Riddell, Bart., and the Misses Davidsons. There is a coal pit, a brick and tile works, and a corn mill in this township; there is also a deer park, the property of C. W. Ord, Esq. high carrick, the residence of Thomas Arkle, Esq., is pleasantly situated on a gentle declivity, which commands extensive views of the surrounding country.

ramshope is an extra parochial place, at the extremity of Elsdon parish, on the north side of the Reed, fifteen miles W.N.W. of Elsdon. It is the property of George Dodd, Esq., and comprises an area of 1,010 acres, the rateable value of which is 375. It contains only one house, and in 1851, there were thirteen inhabitants. It is occupied by Henry Thompson, farmer and grazier.



William Whellan & Co., History of Northumberland, 1855



31 August 2009


Parish Listing

Steve Bulman