Tag Archives: Cornwood

Memoirs of John WIGHAM, 1749 – 1839

Wow! I really enjoyed reading the “Memoirs of the Life, Gospel Labours, and Religious Experience of John Wigham”.

John Wigham, and his wife, Elizabeth (nee DONWIDDY, or DUNWODE) appear to have had amazing Christian faith. Parts of the book read like prayers, praising the Lord for all the things that He had done in and through their lives, and encouraging their children (and descendants) to walk in His path. I think that the strongest of these are in letters, from John, to his daughter-in-law, Barbara Wigham, in April 1800 (pp. 88-90.) and to his son, Amos Wigham, in January 1813 (pp. 107 – 108).

It was also interesting to see letters that John WIGHAM wrote to Elizabeth FRY (nee GURNEY, the prison reformer) who was the wife of a cousin on the opposite side of my family tree (see pp.101-106). This is the first time that I’ve seen records of people from opposite sides of my family tree (in the distant past) communicating with each other!

Page 90 gives a good summery of John Wigham’s life to date, which he ends by saying “I write these memorandums, that when I am gone, my children may be encouraged, by seeing and knowing how He [the Lord] has supported me.” .

The best summaries of their lives are given by John Wigham’s final testimony, dated September 1828 (pp. 121-126), and by the testimonies given by the Aberdeen Monthly Meeting of the Quakers, about John (pp. vii-xiv), and his wife, Elizabeth (pp. 123-126).

Having read the “Memoirs … of John Wigham”, I went on to read “Some Account of the Rise of the Society of Friends in Cornwood in Northumberland”, published in 1848, which says more about the wider WIGHAM family. (Note – that in both books, “Cornwood” appears to be a mis-spelling of “Coanwood“, near Haltwhistle, in Northumberland). It tells of how John Wigham’s grandfather, Cuthbert WIGHAM, became a Quaker in about 1734, and subsequently gave some land next to his house in Coanwood, for a Friends Meeting House, which was built in 1760.

There is a lot more information (on several websites) about the Coanwood Friends Meeting House. See;

The book goes on to tell of a number of Cuthbert WIGHAM’s children and grandchildren, and their spouses, particularly in relation to their involvements within the Society of Friends. It provides quite a good sense of the WIGHAM family tree.

I have not, myself, ever looked very closely before into the family history of the Quaker parts of my family tree! I’ve long known that the Quakers do have very good family history records, evidenced by the fact that, to date, the FRYs (and related families) are the branch of my family tree that I know to be traced furthest back – both in time, and in generations.

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Quakers in Britain

Finding this material about the WIGHAM family, in the books mentioned above, and in a number of other sources, has opened my eyes to just how good these Quaker records are, and to how much of it is now freely available on-line – as well as where to go to find the stuff that isn’t yet on-line. There is clearly a lot more material there that I can dig into further, in the future.

A couple of generations remain whose details I have not yet fully checked out, between the WIGHAMs and the family that I know about through direct family knowledge! But from what I’ve seen, I’m pretty sure that they do all genuinely link up. Benjamin Buck (whose family history website led me to the above books) has been able to put me in touch with John Gray, who had written to my Granddad nearly 20 years ago with a tree of the HENDERSON family [see my sources to the WALTON family tree.]. The HENDERSONs are one of those additional links, and John Gray has been able to send me some additional pages of his HENDERSON family tree, with notes, which also add some more names, dates, and details that I didn’t have before.

I just want to say “thank you”, again, to John Little and Benjamin Buck , for their family history websites, which led me to all the materials noted above (and more).