Tag Archives: memoir

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).

Follow-up on new WALTON and HENDERSON family links

Following my last post, I’ve been looking at details about the WIGHAM family, on a website by Benjamin Beck, who John Little cites as the source for “much of the information” on his site (which I linked to last time). And despite my doubts, I have had a reply from John Little!

I found Benjamin Beck’s family history website wonderfully detailed, although a little difficult to get into at first, without a basic overview/chart of the family trees. But his site is certainly one of the best family history websites that I’ve seen in terms of citing its sources. I wish that more were like that. I aspire to be as good as that, and his site gives me some ideas for areas that I might develop on afamilyhistoryblog.

Following a link to one of Ben’s sources about the WIGHAM family, I’ve just started reading the “Memoirs of the Life, Gospel Labours, and Religious Experience of John Wigham”, published in 1842 (3 years after his death). There are two digitised copies of the book available on-line.

John WIGHAM was evidently a prominent member of the “Society of Friends” (or “Quakers”) in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, and his Memoirs express a strong Christian faith. I’m enjoying reading his memoirs, and the spirit-filled faith that he writes about.

In e-mail messages we’ve exchanged, Ben Beck has suggested that I may find the Quaker Family History Society of interest. This is certainly something that I’ll be looking at, as I also have well-known Quakers on the opposite side of my family; the FRYs. (See my ELLIOTT tree).

Based on the WIGHAM family tree, from John Little’s website, John WIGHAM appears to be my 6x Gt-grandfather, on my Granddad’s maternal line (see genealogy below). I have yet to check all the in-between links (which I will be doing). But Benjamin Buck’s site (in particular) is so good in its detail, and in citing all of the source records for his information, that I’m in little doubt about its authenticity.

My line, from John WIGHAM;

  1. John WIGHAM, b. 23 Mar 1749, Hargill House, Coanwood, Haltwhistle, NBL, d. 17 Apr 1839, m. Elizabeth DONWIDDY, b. 24 Mar 1748 Ambroseholm, m. circa 1769, d. 16 Apr 1827 – See; http://benbeck.co.uk/fh/wigham.html#P3.%20JOHN%20WIGHAM
  2. Elizabeth WIGHAM, b. 1779, Burnhouse, Coanwood, Haltwhistle, d. 04 Aug 1854, m. James GLENNY, b. 27 Mar 1777, m. 28 Nov 1798 Kinmuck, d. 31 Jul 1804
  3. Jane or Jean GLENNY, b. 28 Apr 1801 Mill of Lethenty, d. 02 Apr 1848, m. James SMEAL, b. circa 1798, m. 22 Sep 1824 Kinmuck, Aberdeenshire, d. 1847
  4. Jemima SMEAL, b. 11 Sep 1832, d. 19 Nov 1908, m. 19 Jun 1856, James HENDERSON, b. 29 Mar 1833, d. 13 Jul 1893
  5. Helen Urie HENDERSON, b. 15 Apr 1859, d. 28 Aug 1945, m.2. 04 Jun 1890, Edward Arthur WALTON, b. 15 Apr 1860, d. 18 Mar 1922
  6. Elsie Marjorie WALTON, b. 17 Oct 1898, d. 12 Dec 1976, m. 15 Nov 1918, William Oliphant HUTCHISON, b. 02 Jul 1889, d. 05 Feb 1970 (my Great-grandparents).

The WIGHAM family line is traced back another 5 generations.

There are details of the Coanwood Friends Meeting House on Wikipedia.

This is a branch of my family that I, myself, have not yet done very much research into.

What I know about Helen Urie Henderson and her descendants comes largely from family knowledge within my immediate extended family. I have some details of Jemima Smeal, James Henderson and their family (and the names of Jemima’s parents) from a family tree and letters sent to my Granddad by a John Gray, dated 1997. See my WALTON family tree.

All earlier details I have only found in the last few days via John Little’s and Benjamin Buck’s websites. So I still want to go through these details for myself to check that they all fit together.

Thank you, to John Little, and Benjamin Buck, for your websites.