Castle Ward - West Division

St. John's Parish


This parish comprises the townships of Benwell, Elswick, St. John, and Westgate, the two latter constituting the western portion of the town and county of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with which their histories, &c., are incorporated. The parish contains 2,358 acres, and the number of its inhabitants in 1801, was 6,628; in 1811, 6,673; in 1821, 9,410; in 1831, 13,196; in 1841, 22,452; and in 1851, it had increased to 31,146 souls.

benwell is a township and village in the above parish, comprising an area of 1,346 acres. The population in 1801, was 951; in 1811, 1,064; in 1821, 1,296; in 1831, 1,278; in 1841, 1,433; and in 1851, 1,272 souls. The rateable value of the township in 1853, was 6,704 17s.; and the principal proprietors are William Ord, Esq., of Whitfield, and the executors of Joseph Crahall, Esq. The soil is generally fertile, and there are extensive coal mines worked by Mr. John Brown, of Benwell Bank Top, and Messrs. Wheatley and Musgrove. The manor of Benwell was anciently held under the barony of Bolbeck, by the Benwells, Whitchesters, and Delavals. It subsequently became the property of the Shaftoes and the Archdeacons, from the latter of whom it was purchased by the notorious A.R.S. Bowes, after whose decease it was sold in lots, and realised the sum of 65,000.

Andrew Robinson Stoney Bowes came to Newcastle an ensign in the 4th regiment of foot, and succeeded in marrying the daughter and heiress of William Newton, Esq., of Burnopfield, in the county of Durham. This lady, who possessed a fortune of 20,000, was treated most cruelly by her husband, and died without issue. He subsequently married the Countess of Strathmore, a most accomplished young widow, who had been left, by her lord's death, in the possession of immense property. In consequence of this marriage he assumed the name of Bowes, and afterwards became High Sheriff of Northumberland and M.P. for Newcastle. In consequence of his cruelty to the Countess, she obtained a divorce, but in a short time afterwards she was compelled to exhibit articles of peace against him, which resulted in his being sentenced to pay a fine of 300 to the king, to be confined in the King's Bench Prison for three years, and at the expiration thereof, to find security for fourteen years, himself in 10,000, and two securities in 5,000 each. He died within the rules of the King's Bench Prison, London, on the 16th of January, 1810.

the village of Benwell  is situated two and a half miles west from Newcastle, and is supposed to have been the Condercum of the Romans. It is also said to be the first place in Great Britain where coal was wrought. In the 17th century a coal seam in the neighbourhood took fire by a candle, and burned for nearly thirty years, spreading into Fenham Grounds, and bursting out in the manner of a volcano, in several places. There is a Chapel of Ease here dedicated to St. James, erected in 1832, at an expense of 1,668 14s. 5d. It is in the Gothic style, and possesses accommodation for 600 persons. For ecclesiastical purposes it was made a district parish in 1842.     Incumbent, Rev. William Maughan.

The ruins of benwell hall were entirely removed in 1831, and a new stone building, in a castellated form, erected upon the old foundation, by Thomas Crahall, Esq.

benwell high cross is a hamlet in this township, situated one mile and three quarters west from Newcastle. paradise is a village, also in this township, situated on the north bank of the river Tyne, one mile and three quarters west of Newcastle. benwell house, the seat of W. Isaac Cookson, Esq., is beautifully situated, and commands fine views of the valley of the Tyne, and the surrounding country. benwell grove stands north of the village, and is the seat of Charles H. Cooke, Esq. Near this latter is situated benwell lodge, the seat of W.J. Harding, Esq. benwell tower is the residence of George Anderson, Esq.

elswick township is bounded on the north by the Town Moor, on the west, by the township of Benwell, on the south, by the river Tyne, and on the east, by Westgate township. It contains 783 acres, and its rateable value is 17,000. The population in 1801, was 301; in 1811, 398; in 1821, 464, in 1831, 787; in 1841, 1,789; and in 1851, it had increased to 3,539 souls. Elswick is situated on the north bank of the Tyne, and west of Newcastle to which place it forms a suburb, and with which it is included for municipal and parliamentary purposes. That part of the township which extends from Skinner's-burn to the borders of Benwell, is called LOW elswick, the other portion high elswick. There are extensive manufactories here which have been noticed in speaking of Newcastle.

the newcastle-upon-tyne poor law union comprehends eleven parishes and townships embracing an area of 7,102 statute acres, and a population in 1851, of 89,156 souls. The parishes are All Saints', St. John's, St. Nicholas's, and St. Andrew's. The townships are Byker, Westgate, Elswick, Jesmond, Heaton, Benwell, and Fenham; the two latter are in the county of Northumberland, the rest form the borough of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The annual expenditure for the relief of the poor is about 28,000. This union is divided into four districts, over each of which there is a relieving officer. The number of poor people receiving out-door relief is about 5,200. The board of guardians numbers eighty-five members, eighteen of whom are guardians ex-officio, the remainder are elective. Henry Ingledew, chairman; Thomas Ridley, vice-chairman, George Forster, clerk.

the union workhouse is situated in this township, about one mile west of Newcastle. It is a substantial and suitable building, erected in 1840, and will accommodate 500 persons. The number at present amounts to 508. In August, 1843, the guardians purchased the adjoining estate, known by the name of the "Milestone Estate," from the executrix of the late Mr. Richard Wardle. It contains upwards of thirty-two acres, and it is intended to erect upon it schools for 400 pupils, an infirmary for the sick children, and to convert the remainder into an extensive garden. The whole of the workhouse, together with the new buildings, are to be drained upon new and improved principles. The order and regularity observable in this establishment reflect the highest credit upon the governor, Mr. Robert Salmon.

westgate, a township in the above named parish, forms the north-western suburb of Newcastle, with which it is joined for municipal and other purposes. It contains 229 acres, and the number of its inhabitants in 1801, was 669; in 1811, 745; in, 1821, 1,360; in 1831, 2,296; in 1841, 10,489; and in 1851, it had increased to 16,477 souls. This township contains many spacious streets and handsome houses of recent erection.




William Whellan & Co., History of Northumberland, 1855

04 March 2008


Parish Listing

Steve Bulman