When researching family history it never ceases to amaze me the number of twists and turns it can take. What sometimes appears to be mere coincidence or fate may actually turn out to be have been meticulously planned and executed by our ancestors. The resulting image is full of colour and depth. The problem is it becomes so complex and complete it can be difficult to know where to start! In my case I thought I would start with my early memories of what had been the family farm and home for over 120 years.
My Early Memories
The servant’s bells, long redundant had been removed and spent the rest of their days propping up a wall in an outhouse. Echoes of the past were around every corner, just waiting to tell their story.
Details of the House listing can be found here.
"More Food for More People"
and how we came to be here....
Why had he left it so long?, as a younger man he had farmed with his father and brother at Loanend until it was sold to the Mathers. Was it perhaps due to the turbulent times being experienced in British Agriculture?
The definition of farm boundaries and legal titles to land resulting from the “Inclosure Acts” saw many who had lost the right to graze their animals on common or waste ground move to the mills and factories in search of work. It was during this period that farming became a business and not a subsistent existence. New techniques and practices resulted in a sharp increase of domestic arable production.
With domestic corn prices falling and the increased mechanisation creeping ever more rapidly into the agricultural industry, and import taxed on grain abolished many farmers and agricultural workers decided to try their luck in another Country and mass emigration from Britain occurred in the post 1850’s era.
Maybe, just maybe, these were some of the contributory factors affecting John decisions.
Meanwhile in the North
The Move and a Ploughing Match
“Mr Smith of Chevington, who is about to enter on the splendid farm of Longhoughton Hall, belonging to His Grace the Duke of Northumberland, had his ploughing day on Friday, when his friends and neighbours sent about 70 ploughs to inaugurate his entry on the practical business of the farm. The draughts were splendid specimens of their class, and the young fellows in charge would have gratified Mr Henley, the Government Commissioner, who has paid such a noble testimony to the character of the Northumberland hinds. The arrangements, which were under the management of Mr James Grey of Low Steads, and Mr John Aynsley of Hartford Bridge (his brother in law), were skilfully carried out. The refreshments were abundant. One of the chief attractions of the day was the working of the steam plough – Fowler & Co’s. The engines which cost £620 each, are named “Acklington“ and “Warkworth” being the district to which their work is confined. They are the property of the Duke of Northumberland by ….they are hired out to the tenants at the moderate sum of 10s per acre – a benefit which may be appreciated when we state that a northern firm charges 17s on hire for the same depth, namely 12 inches. It is a four breasted digger or plough and turns up the soil loose, like trenching with a spade; keeps the soil open to the action of frost, and enables the drains to work better…”
Mayhem on Market Day
The subsequent inquest into his death reported he had died of a heart attack brought on by excitement. Nothing more is known as to the fate of the Waite brothers.
The Next Generation
The farm passed to the eldest son John Smith 2nd aged just 16 at the time, a farm manager may have been appointed in the early days, as John spent time at the National Bank at Berwick and also in the Army, retiring in 1902 with the honorary rank of Major, to which title he was often referred. He also married later in life at 43 to Mabel Herd, again 15 years his junior in 1907. Their eldest child and only son John 3rd (known as Aynsley) was the first Smith child to be born at Longhoughton on 22nd August 1908.
In terms of the Smith family involvement with the history of the farm at Longhoughton, it was very much in its swansong. On surrender of the tenancy the land was divided amongst neighbouring farmers, the old steading, totally impractical for modern farming methods, converted into houses, and the paddocks around the house used for new build development.
The history of the farm itself is a fascinating one, steeped in history as far back as the border raids of the 15th and 16th centuries. Many familiar farming names have been associated with it, including Forster, Carr and Sample for short durations in the 19th Century, next to the Smiths, the longest incumbents and appropriately in keeping with the ‘spooky’ nature of the house, was the Adams family, whose earliest association can be traced back as far as 1497. A fascinating family by all accounts whose association with the farm finally came to an end in 1822.