February 25, 2009

The Charltons; Family history, Noted Scottish Border Reivers

Northumberland, history, Hesleyside Hall, Bellingham, North Tyne

By Clive Dalton

Hesleyside Hall viewed from the road and the front park - the seat of the North Tyne Charlton grayne (clan)

The Charltons

For more information on the Charltons, and the history of the English- Scottish feuds that they were actively involved in and went on for nearly 400 years, the best source is the following brilliant book:

The Steel Bonnets- the story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers.
By George MacDonald Fraser. 1971
Published by Collins Harvill 1989
ISBN 0-00-272746-3

Notes from book:

CHARLTON (Carleton)

English, although in its alternative form the name appears in south west Scotland, also Tynedale.

The Charltons were one of the hardiest and most intractable families on the English side, and were alternatively allied to and at feud with other Scottish tribe in the west.

Latterly they were engaged in bitter vendetta with the Scotts of Bucleugh. Although Carleton is another form of the name, the Cumbrian Carletons had no alliance or association with the Tynedale Charltons.

Notable family members:
  • Lionel of Thornburgh
  • Hector of the Bower (reputed to be the greatest thief of the region)
  • Thomas of Hawcop
Family are still in Northumberland.

Garden party at Hesleyside Hall in 1939.
From L to R: Eileen Thompson, Ursula Davidson, Cliff Charlton, Lilly Charlton

The picture shows the back door to the Hall. The family still have the famous spur which was brought to the table to indicate they were out of meat. It was a discreet way of indicating that somebody had better get mounted and spurred and get across to the 'Scotch Side' to do some reiving (stealing).

In today's world they would be classed as terrorists!

And they would have left on their forays via this, the front gate - but before the beautiful ironwork was in plac. Who was the blacksmith who made this?

1 comment:

  1. In 2005 Carlisle in Cumbria was engulfed in floods which affected the very fabric of the community. Houses were abandoned as the seemingly relentless rise of the river Eden forced families from home and hearth.
    It was to be many months before life got back to normal.
    At the time of the floods it was mooted both locally and nationally that the great misfortune which devastated Carlisle was a result of the erection of the 'Cursing Stone' within the city in 2000.
    Proud of its heritage, the civic fathers thought it would be a worthy addition to the memory of the Border Reivers who had roamed the Border country, both English and Scottish,prior to the Union of the Crowns in 1603. They held sway for centuries and created a society where feud, blood-feud, murder, arson, blackmail and theft were rife.
    By 1525 the church had had enough of the Reivers and Gavin Dunbar, Archbishop of Glasgow, determined to bring down the wrath of God upon their unholy heads, proclaimed his 'Monition of Cursing' against them.
    He 'cursed thair heid and all the hair of thair heid; ...thair face, thair ene (eyes), thair mouth ... and everilk (every) part of thair body...
    The erection of the Cursing Stone in Carlisle was seen as a bad omen culminating in the floods of 2005.
    The Cursing of 1525 was not the first. In 1524 the thieves of Tynedale were cursed. At Easter of that year Hector Charlton of the Bower raided Bellingham church and committed great sacrilege by breaking into the tabernacle and stealing the communion hosts. To make matters worse he also made away with a firkin of wine. He took them to Tarset Hall where he served the Reiver congregation with host and wine and insisted that he received the offerings normally made to the parish priest.
    It is worth both knowing and remembering that the Tynedale kinsmen were every bit as unholy as their Scottish counterparts. Given the experiences of Carlisle in 2005 it perhaps would be as well if Tynedale were to forego any remembrance in stone to their turbulent heritage.

    I love the history of the Reivers and have spent many a pleasant day wandering around Tarset and Bellingham.

    Tom Moss.

    They had created so mu