VOL. iv. 3 B
370 LOCAL HISTORIXN'- [A. D. 1837.
Friday the 14th, at the village of Glanton, near Whittingham, Northumberland, and its neighbourhood, about ten o'clock in the morning, the face of the sky became shrouded in clouds of sable, and all was dark and dismal as if some terrible convulsion of nature was about to take place : the animals of the field, as well as the fowls of heaven, seemed to possess an instinctive consciousness of an approaching thunder- storm by hastening to places of refuge. The awful grandeur which it this moment pervaded the face of nature was speedily increased by vivid flashes of forked lightning, accompanied with loud and lengthy peals of thunder, which followed each other in rapid succession, increasing in magnitude and awful splendour, and filling every bosom with dread and consternation until the evening one clap of thunder in particular, resembled in its effects a heavy discharge of shot falling upon the roofs of the houses, which caused some of the inhabitants to run to the door for safety. At this interval a servant of Mr. Carnaby's, of Shawdon Wood House, came galloping at full speed for Doctor Crea, bringing the painful intelligence that Miss Donkin (Mr. Carnaby's niece) was struck by the electric fluid, and this dreadful catastrophe spread additional terror throughout the village. Mr. Crea hastened to Mr. Carnaby's residence with all possible speed, but the vital spark had fled, and there remained on his arrival nothing of that once truly amiable young lady but a blighted and withered form, deprived of its existence by an unexpected and awfully sudden calamity. It appears that Miss Donkin had gone into the kitchen for her maid to fasten some part of her dress, and there unfortunately sat down below a bell that was hung in the kitchen ; just at that moment the electric fluid struck the west chimney, and, entering the house, ran along the bell-wire to the kitchen, and, descending from thence upon the head of Miss Donkin, struck her down with violence. Her maid, who had escaped, ran to her and covered her head (which was all in a blaze) with her apron, and extinguished the flame, but the young lady never rose more. There were two dogs lying near Miss Donkin, one was killed on the spot, and the other was so much injured as to render necessary its destruction.
The Wedding that wasn't and the Wedding that most certainly was..
For upwards of a century, the Donkins, a well-known Northumbrian family, farmed at Great Tosson. Shortly before 1720, Samuel Donkin — the "Patriarch" came into Coquetdale, and settled at Great Tosson. He died at the ripe old age of 102, and was buried in Rothbury Churchyard, on May 6th, 1791. Members of this numerous family farmed at Whitton Dene, Rye Hill, Spital, and Plainfield. The wedding of one of them — William Donkin of Tosson took place on the 7th of June, 1750, and was remarkable for its festivities and the length of the cavalcade which accompanied the pair from the Parish Church of Rothbury, to Tosson,
The Gentleman s Magasine, speaking of wedding customs, says : — " Perhaps the most extensive entertainment of this kind that ever took place in Northumberland, was held at Tosson, near Rothbury, about the middle of the last century. It occurred on celebrating the nuptials of Mr. William Donkin and Miss Eleanor Shotton, both of that place. There were provided no less than 120 quarters of lamb, 44 quarters of veal, 20 quarters of mutton, a great quantity of beef, 12 hams, with a suitable number of chickens, &c., which was concluded with eight half ankers of brandy made into punch, twelve dozens of cider, a great many gallons of wine, and ninety bushels of malt brewed into beer. The company consisted of 550 ladies and gentlemen, who were diverted with the music of twenty-five fiddlers and pipers, and the whole was conducted with the utmost unanimity."
The Chirm as we know it today was sometimes referred to as North Wingates, which together with Todburn formed part of the parish of Longhorsley. Circa 1764/5 a list of properties which formed part of the Estate of the late James Thornton d.1761 (Wingates and other associated Farms) was drawn up and clearly shows Lionel Aynsley as tenant of Garrett Lee, paying a rent of £52 per annum for a term of 11 years from 1763.
In addition to this circa 1764/5 the Colliery at the Chirm was rented to a Mr Thomas Stair for £20 per annum. I wonder whether he had to pay compensation for the accident.? Somehow I doubt it.
In addition it is interesting note that the Landlord and many of his tenants are noted as being of the Catholic faith, with Royalist sympathies during the 1640's and a near miss during the 1715 Jacobite rising!
For further information re Wingates & the Thornton Estate see below:-