THOMAS AND MARTHA HEDLEY FAMILY OF BIRTLEY
NORTHUMBERLAND

Colour and number coding: ~~1 Brown (born in early 1700s); ~1 Blue (b. mid 1700s; 1~ Purple (b. later 1700s);
                                                  1 Grey
(b. early 1800s); 1. Teal/Olive (b. mid 1800s)

Thomas Hedley of Birtley, born in 1750 (the son of Thomas and Mary Hedley of Dinley Hill) married Martha Weatherley, who was baptized March 18, 1750 at Chollerton, the third daughter of William Weatherley and Frances (Atkinson) of Gunnerton. The marriage took place at St. Giles Church in Chollerton August 29, 1773 . Witnesses at the marriage of Thomas Hedley and Martha Weatherley were William Weatherley and Thomas Hedley (probably fathers of the bride and groom).

Thomas and Martha alternated their residency between two farms, Rouchester and Dinley Hill, separated by a half kilometre. On one or the other of these two farms were born their eight children. All eight were baptized at St. Giles Chapelry, Birtley, within two kilometres of both farms. (Birtley Parish Baptisms and Burials Register, 1769-1802, Morpeth Records Centre)

Martha (Weatherley) Hedley died at age 77 at Dinley Hill, burial April 30, 1827. (Parish Register, St. Giles Birtley)
Thomas Hedley of Dinley Hill, husband of Martha, died eleven years later, at age 88; burial July 2, 1838. (Parish Register, St. Giles Birtley)

The Hedley family were probably tenant farmers at Dinley Hill and Rouchester farms. (A tenant farmer resides on, and farms, the land, which is owned by a landlord.) Much of the agricultural land of Northumberland is still owned by the Duke of Northumberland, whose family home, Alnwick Castle, is the second largest inhabited castles in England, after Windsor Castle. Rent is paid semi-annually by tenant farmers in exchange for the use of his many properties. From the 1700s onwards, a succession of Hedleys has resided on Rouchester Farm and Dinley Hill.

Children of Thomas Hedley and Martha Weatherley

1~ John Hedley, born at Rouchester Farm, was baptized Nov. 28, 1773 (Birtley Parish Register). John married Frances Lawes (Laws), who was born Oct. 12, 1777 at Woodside, Ryton Parish, Durham on June 9, 1798, the daughter of Nicholas Laws and Frances James. (IGI) Witnesses at the marriage of John and Frances were Elizabeth Weatherley (sister of John Dent Weatherley, who later sponsored the Hedleys' emigration to Canada) and Thomas Humble.
John and Frances (Lawes) Hedley, would eventually emigrate with their young family of six children to the Ottawa valley in Canada, establishing the Canadian roots of the John Hedley Family. They emigrated to Upper Canada in 1819 as employees indentured for five years to James Dent Weatherley, who had received a grant of land on his retirement from the British army.
John Hedley died on his farm in March Township, Carleton County, Canada at age 82 on Jan. 3, 1855; burial in St. John's Cemetery, South March.
Frances (Lawes) Hedley died at age 89 on July 14, 1866, eleven years after her husband's death. Her burial is listed in the Anglican Burial Registers for St. John's Anglican Church, South March, although her name was not placed with John's on the headstone, perhaps because, after the death of her husband, John Hedley, her family moved away from March Township to other parts of Ontario. (Please see Chapters 1 and 2 for more about this family.)

2~ Frances Hedley, second child of Thomas Hedley and Martha Weatherley, was born at Dinley Hill; baptized December 3, 1775 at Birtley. Frances married Reginald Urwin at Birtley Chapelry on Jan. 25, 1795 (IGI). Reginald Urwin, son of James and Mary Urwin, was christened Feb. 26, 1775 in Birtley (IGI).

3~ Thomas Hedley, born at Rouchester Farm, was baptized August 30, 1778. He died at age 47 on Oct. 8, 1825 at Dinley Hill and is buried at St. Giles Birtley. (Northumberland Burials 1813-1937 and also Parish Register, St. Giles Birtley)

4~ William Hedley, born at Rouchester Farm, was baptized August 12, 1781.

5~ Mary Hedley, born at Dinley Hill in Birtley Parish, was baptized April 17, 1785. At age 27 Mary married Robert Robson, age 28, at Birtley Chapel on Feb. 13 (or 14), 1813. Robert Robson was baptised Jan. 2, 1785 at St. Giles, Chollerton, son of Edward Robson (born in Burnmouth Houses) and Thomasine Pollard (born in Stamfordham).

"Marriage solemnized in the Chapel of Birtley in the County of Northumberland in 1813:
Robert Robson of this Chapel and Mary Hedley, spinster, of this chapel were married in this chapel by Banns with Consent of the parents this 14th day of February in the Year One thousand eight hundred and thirteen by me Robert Lowther, Curate.
This marriage was solemnized between us Robert Robson (signature) and Mary Hedley (x)
In Presence of Cuthbert Ridley, Jon Robson, Ralph Hedley, Martha Hedley
(signatures)"
(Copy of the original Birtley Parish Certificate of Marriage--courtesy of Lynne Coulson, N.Z.)


Robert Robson had previously been married to Elizabeth Forster, daughter of George Forster, on Jan. 18, 1808 in St. Giles, Chollerton. Elizabeth died in 1811, leaving two infant sons, George Robson, born March 2, 1810 and Edward Robson, born Dec. 8, 1811, both born at Rouchester and christened at Birtley. (Robert's occupation was stated variously as husbandman, labourer or farmer at his children's christenings.)

In January 1829 Robert Robson's father, Edward Robson, died at Pit House in Chollerton Parish. Robert, as the eldest son, took over the the farm, and Pitt House has been in the Robson Family off and on for the last 180 years.
Mary (Hedley) Robson died at age 64 at Pit House; burial at St.Giles, Birtley Parish on Dec. 24, 1849. Her husband Robert Robson died twenty years later, at Pit House; burial Sept. 20, 1870 at St. Giles, Birtley.
Mary and Robert Robson had seven children:

        1 Thomas Robson, born at Rouchester Farm and christened Aug. 14, 1814 at Chollerton St. Giles.
           Thomas's first marriage was to
Ada Slater at Chollerton Aug. 5, 1839; second marriage unknown.
        2 William Robson, b. Rouchester Farm, christened Aug. 31, 1817 Chollerton St.Giles.
        3 Martha Robson was b. at Comogan; christened Dec. 25, 1819 at Chollerton St. Giles.
        4 Mary Robson, born at Chipchase and christened March 24, 1822 at Birtley St. Giles; Mary married
          Francis Coulson
(son of Thomas Coulson and Elizabeth Davison) at Wark St. Michael's on Oct. 24, 1840.
          Francis and Mary named one of their daughters Mary Magdelene after her two maternal grandmothers.
          (from Lynne Coulson - for more about this family please see the
Coulson Family Tree.)
        5 Robert Robson, b. Chipchase Park House, christened July 25, 1824 Birtley St. Giles.
        6 John Robson, born at Pit House and christened Nov. 26, 1829 at Birtley St. Giles. John died at age four
           months at Pit House and was buried March 3, 1830 at Birtley.
        7 Matthew Robson, born at Pit House and christened Sept. 30, 1832 at Chollerton St. Giles. Matthew
          married
Dorothy Johnson on April 12, 1856 at Chollerton

6~ Ralph Hedley, sixth child of Thomas Hedley and Martha Weatherley, was born at Dinley Hill; baptized at Birtley August 5, 1787.

7~ James Hedley, born at Dinley Hall, was baptized January 29, 1792 at Birtley.

8~ Martha Hedley, youngest of the eight children of Thomas Hedley and Martha Weatherley, was born at Dinley Hill; baptized December 28, 1794 (Birtley Parish Register). Martha married John Robson, a joiner, b. May 22, 1796. They were married at Birtley on Nov. 23, 1828 "in the presence of Reginald Urwin, Thomas Robson and John Hedley." (Joiner: "a carpenter who finishes interior woodwork" - Webster's Dictionary )
Martha (Hedley) and John Robson had two sons:

        1 Thomas Robson
b. at Dinley Hill, christened Feb.14, 1830 at Birtley.
        2 John Robson christened at Birtley on Dec. 28, 1834.
           The 1881 Census for Birtley Village Cottage lists Thomas Robson age 50 and John Robson age 46,
           both joiners, both unmarried; also Hannah Charlton, servant, age 26.

Martha (Hedley) Robson died at Birtley Village on Dec. 24, 1874 at age 80, burial at Birtley St. Giles (Northumberland Burial Index 1813-1837).
John Robson died within ten months of the death of his wife Martha, also at Birtley Village-burial Oct. 8, 1875, age 79 years.
Information about Mary and Martha Hedley was contributed by Lynn Coulson of New Zealand.


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this page updated Jan. 16, 2009