West Herrington

The village must have remained fairly isolated until this century but the Houghton registers do occasionally record an “incomer” such as Gatheray Browne, a Scot buried from there in 1587. In December 1590 Robert Kirkley, a “poor traveller” died at West Herrington. Was he a tradesman like the “poor pedlar found dead in the fields at West Herrington” in November 1618?

There is an echo of this in the last century when skeletons of a boy and a six foot man were found at the spot where the burn crosses the edge of the village – the latter showing signs of violence.

In 1602 William Ayton, Yeoman, one of the more substantial farmers who had inherited part of the Manor, left a will with an income of over £300.

Anthony Robinson of West Herrington in 1616 mentions bequests to his niece of two cupboards in the forehouse, his pewter, bedding off the bedstead and the wearing apparel of his late wife. He also notes the village folk to whom he owed debt of 53 shillings and 9 pence – William Cooke, Anthony Passmore, Edward Gillerie and William Todd.

The Protestation Returns – those subscribed “to defend the Protestant religion in the Realm” in 1641 denote 27 persons:

Mr. Robert Ayton Francis Cowpland
Christopher Simpson George Willowby
Henry Hopchurch Robert Willowby
Thomas Cooke Anthony Turner
George Cooke Thomas Wake
George Smith John Wilkinson
Ralph Robinson Anthony Weatherhead
Edward Pearson George Farron
Robert Anderson Thomas Paxton
George Orde William Archer
James Cowtheard William Lawes
Robert Parlour William Holliday

However three persons.of one family still clung to the old faith – Mr. Tobias Lisle, Tobias junior, and Gilferry Lisle “refuseth to sign”. Probably they are to be identified with Talbot Lisle who was in Barmston in 1636.

Given a spouse and say 3 or 4 children each, we see a flourishing population here and from the Hearth Tax a little later in 1674 we have some idea of the social standing and size of houses. For the Tax paid upon hearths reveals Mr. William Smith and Oswald Wragham with seven each, Mr. John Richardson with six, William Dunn two, Thomas Cooke three and George Smith, John Smith, John Little and Robert Guy with a single hearth, a total of twenty nine.

Certain names in the registers of Houghton are prominent for a run of years. In 1620 the children of Edward Hedworth. From 1650s-1670s the children of William Smith appear (not to be, but often are, confused with the Catholic Family at East Herrington); in the 1730s the family of Sir Francis Blake; in the 1760s John Neasham, (Caroline Neasham in 1801 married William Beckwith who inherited the Silksworth Estate and whose name is perpetuated in Beckwith Road) and finally in 1796 the daughters of Christopher Maling and his wife Martha Sophia, a lady who merits an entry in Fanny Burney’s Journal. They had already been baptised at Artois in Picardy but now again in Penshaw to make sure! Maling was apparently living at West Herrington at the time before inhabiting Silksworth House. A Scarborough family, they established a Pottery at North Hylton in 1762 and the business extended until transferred to Newcastle where it existed until 1963. Many homes in the North-East have examples of Maling Ware. Workers in the factory were known as “Maling’s white mice” because of the white pottery dust on them.

So the Village had a small population, perhaps about 120 in Stuart times, but continually welcoming new faces and names as the years passed. In 1801 at the first census of population, they show 209 people in all West Herrington and the surrounding district.

Not until 1851 with the beginnings of industrialisation did it increase to 752 and it was another twenty years before a substantial growth took place.

Once the chapel was demolished something of the character of the village was lost. The old village seemed in danger of being swallowed up but the new building of recent years has ensured that West Herrington has still a future.