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The Migration of Victorian Families to Dudley Colliery, Weetsalde, Northumberland, England, 1861.

Family Migration to Dudley Colliery Village, Weetslade, Northumberland, 1861.

Dudley Colliery came into existence in the 1850’s this was a period of the great railway expansion across Britain. The Newcastle to Berwick track was opened in 1847, which passed through Weetslade and was later to be used by the Dudley colliery to transport its coal to the Pans at Howdon. There is a Stationmaster living at Dudley station in 1861, which would have made migration to the village easy. The Great North road also passes within a mile of Dudley so for the families migrating to the area there was plenty of access. As Dudley is approximately 6 miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne and all the industry and commerce of the city and its river see map one. There was a great many collieries and farms inland from the Tyne with its shipping and docks so there would have possibly been a lot of work in the area before the pit at Dudley was even sunk. An added attraction would also have been that the housing in Dudley was new. The sinking of Dudley colliery was during the early years of the industrial revolution when there was great demand through out Britain for coal to fuel the industries of iron and steel. Which was needed for the building of machinery, trains and bridges some of the machinery was to be used in the collieries in the for of pumps and headgear’s which enabled the miners to extract coal from deeper seams. ‘It was found that 50% of the migrants of Bristol had not come directly’ (Grigg, 1977, p.153). From the sample taken of the heads of Household in Dudley a colliery village it was found that 39% had migrated there from counties outside Northumberland.



Long-journey Migration to Dudley Colliery, Weetslade Northumberland.

In Dudley 1861 there were 27 (18%) heads of family who where long-journey migrants and 25 (17.24%) residents who where wives and 32 (10.25%) of the children under the age of 15 were long-journey migrants. See table three. Of the Long-Journey migrants from Ireland there were 10 heads, 9 of the heads and their wives were born in Ireland. Of These 1 Irish head had a Scottish wife, 5 of the 10 families had children born in Scotland, 2 of the families had children born in Durham and 1 head had a child born in Northumberland. And 2 heads had no children so for the purpose of this report it is assumed that they moved straight to Northumberland. With the Irish who would migrate and then settle into enclaves (Dennis and Daniels, 1981). It is not easy to tell if they migrated with their families settled in Scotland and then married another Irish national in Scotland. Out of the ten heads of household born Ireland only one had a mixed marriage and that was to a Scots woman. During my research I have found that it was even quite cheap for the Irish to migrate across the Irish sea as captains would use the Irish as a living ballast which would take less time to unload than the normal ballast used. (Smith, 1991). There are 5 heads in Dudley who had migrated from Scotland to Dudley only 2 heads had married a Scotswoman another married an Irish woman and a third married a woman from Durham. One Scotsman married a woman from Northumberland and had two children in Durham. One of the Scottish heads of house was a widow with two children born in Northumberland. Other long-journey migrants from Yorkshire had more mixed marriages than the Irish families. Although there are 12 residents of Dudley born in Yorkshire of a total of 6 heads only one family, the head, wife and child originating from Yorkshire and apparently migrated straight to Dudley. The rest of the heads, 3 had wives born in Northumberland 1 had a wife born in Newcastle on Tyne and a child born Durham another had a wife born Durham and no children 2 heads had wives born in Northumberland and 1 child each born in Durham and Northumberland. The last Yorkshire head of house had 3 children born in 3 different locations in Northumberland. Unlike a family from Lancashire who moved from their place of birth in Lancashire to Derbyshire had 2 children aged 7 and 12 then moved to Yorkshire having a child recorded on the 1861 C.E.B as 5 years old. Which would mean that this family moved from Derbyshire to Yorkshire with a child aged 2 years and then on from Yorkshire to Dudley with a child less than 5 years old as their next child is 3 months old at the time of the census in 1861. Another Lancashire family appear to have moved straight to Dudley there are 5 children born in Lancashire aged, 14 and 5 also 2 children born Dudley aged 2 and 3 months which would mean that this family migrated from Lancashire with a child of 3 years old. The longest individual Migration living in the Dudley of 1861, would be Thomas Reveley aged 28 who it would appear moved from Devon to Norfolk where he married and had 2 children aged 8 and 12 then moved it would appear directly to Northumberland. There, having another 2 children one aged 4 born Hartley in Northumberland the other aged 1 born Dudley. This family would have been migrating with a child as young as 4, also bringing the extended family of his mother in law a 64 year old widow with him. Of course he could have migrated from county to county but as there are no children for this period of time it must be assumed he moved directly to Northumberland and cannot be traced in the mean time.

Short-journey Migration to Dudley Colliery, Weetslade, Northumberland.

Short-journey migration these people came from the counties bordering on Northumberland, Newcastle on Tyne (Newcastle on Tyne was a county from 1400 until 1882 when it became a city) and Durham and Cumberland. Of the people who were Short-journey migrants 32 (21%) were male heads of family and 30 (20.68%) were wives here again the families migrated with their children in this case 36 (11.53%) were children under 15. There are 31 heads of household living in Dudley from the bordering counties of Durham, Cumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne, 8 of which brought children with them from their county of birth. There were 8 couples living in Dudley who had no children and 15 couples had children born only in Northumberland. Which would mean that 23 of the short journey migrants had apparently migrated straight to Northumberland. Only 13 of the couples in Dudley had married a spouse from the place of their birth. From that 13, 10 had married a spouse born in another county, of this 10 it is impossible to tell if the head from the Border County had migrated to Northumberland with his/her family. Or migrated alone and met their spouse while living in Northumberland or whether the wife/husband had moved out of Northumberland and met their spouse in the county of their birth moving back into Northumberland after the marriage. The families did not all migrate straight to Dudley when moving into Northumberland. After leaving the county of their birth using the children as a guide it would appear that one family moved through four locations, 2 moved through three locations 5 moved through two locations and seven families had children with only one place of birth before arriving a Dudley.

There can be complications when studying migration as in the case of the Hislop family head, born Durham, living in Dudley in 1861 with a son age 10 born Durham and a child age 7 born Cramlington Northumberland. This would mean that the eldest child would have been 3 years old at the time of the migration. Then the next child was age 2 born Durham then they moved to Dudley Northumberland on census night where they have a child aged 1 year so this family had since 1854 been crossing back and forth across the border of Northumberland and Durham.

Local-journey Migration to Dudley Colliery, Weetslade, Northumberland.

There were at the time of the 1861 census 91 heads of house living in Dudley who where born in Northumberland. There were 11 heads without children 5 where not married and there were 6 heads, which had children that were only born in Dudley. As such did not count in the step migration table see table five of the remaining 74 heads of house who where in Dudley with children they had all arrived there step by step migration. Of the 83 Married heads in Dudley 67 had wives born in Northumberland, 10 had wives from the bordering counties and 6 had wives from further counties. Also of the 74 heads of family 58 had a different place of birth to their eldest child 16 had the same birth place, of the 16, 7 had step migrated and 9 had all their children in the heads place of birth before moving to Dudley.


The process of migration was not all one way as 11 of the heads living in Dudley had migrated out of Northumberland then after having children moved back into Northumberland. Of that 11 families 6 had children born in Durham, 1 had children born in Newcastle on Tyne, 2 had children born both in Newcastle on Tyne and Durham, 2 families had children born in Scotland. These families migrated from county to county with children as young as 1 year old as in the case of John Whitton who had 3 children born in Scotland aged 1, 3, 5 in 1861. Another the Wardal family head and wife born Northumberland, with a child aged 12 born Newcastle on Tyne, 8 born Northumberland and 6 born Durham which would mean that the two eldest children where migrating across county borders when they where aged 4 and 2.


It must be remembered that this is only a snap shot in the migration of these families and soon after the census many of the families many have moved to a new location. I found that in looking at the data collected to examine step by step migration I was using the births of the children in the families to get the overall picture of the migration which in its self disproves Law seven, that families do not migrate. It would appear from the families that were migrating from counties outside of Northumberland that many of these families that migrated from other counties did so with their families. Apart from unmarried children and extended family members there are 34 other residents of Dudley for breakdown and distribution in households Out of a total of 825 people there are 221 (26%) of people living in Dudley from outside of Northumberland. Out of those 221 migrants 125 (56%) were Short -Journey migrants who only moved into the county bordering on their place of birth? The remaining 96 (43%) were Long-Journey migrants travelling across several counties. In conclusion families did migrate not only with their children but also with extended family members.

Return to Family & Community History Index.

This site is maintained by D.J.Kane, Dip. Eur. Hum. (Open)


Dennis, D & Daniels, F. (1981). ‘ "Community" and the social geography of Victorian cities’ in Drake, Michael. (1995). ‘Time, Family and Community.’

The Open University in association with Blackwell.

Grigg, D. B. (1977). ‘E. G. Ravenstein and the "Laws of migration" ‘

in Drake, Michael. (1995). ‘Time, Family and Community.’

The Open University in association with Blackwell.

Pryce, W.T.R. (1994). ‘From Family History to Community History.’ Cambridge University Press In association with The Open University.

Rau, Diana (1984). ‘Who chose Chalcots? Aspects of Family and Social Structure in 1851.’ DA301 Offprints Booklet One, (1994). The Open University.

Smith, Cicil. (1991). ‘The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849.’ Penguin books

Tyne & Wear Archives

C.E.B, Dudley Colliery, Weetslade, Northumberland, 1861,MF67

Tyne & Wear Archives.

Saint Bartholomews, Longbenton, Parish Records, Burials,1861,MF495