The rise and fall of a pow­er­ful clan which shaped many lives


Sunderland Echo - - Features - CHRIS CORD­NER LOOKS BACK

From elop­ing cou­ples to en­coun­ters with high­way­men - one of the North-East’s most in­flu­en­tial fam­i­lies has been in­ves­ti­gated by re­tired teacher Mau­reen Tay­lorGooby.

Her fo­cus turns on the Bur­dons who were be­hind the con­struc­tion of rail­ways, in­volved in the cre­ation of a fa­mous Sun­der­land bridge, and who played a big part in the es­tab­lish­ment of health­care fa­cil­i­ties in Hartle­pool.

The end re­sult is a new book which is a real in­sight into North-East his­tory.

Chris Cord­ner re­ports.

They were a fam­ily which had defin­tite in­flu­ence on Wear­side.

But the Bur­dons started out a lit­tle fur­ther south in Stock­ton, be­fore they set­tled in Cas­tle Eden and even­tu­ally had most of their es­tate over­taken by the rise of Peter­lee new­town.

Not that their in­flu­ence was limited to those ar­eas. Sun­der­land got their at­ten­tion and so did Hartle­pool and New­cas­tle.

Mau­reen Tay­lor-Gooby has pro­duced The Row­land Bur­dons, North Coun­try Gentle­folk, which is a 550-page read. Mau­reen, 76, ad­mit­ted: “It’s that long be­cause there were so many of them in the fam­ily.”

And in­deed, this is a clan which spanned the eras and still re­mained prom­i­nent un­til the world be­came em­broiled in con­flict, that is.

Hus­band David has pre­pared an in­tro­duc­tion and said: “It is in­ter­est­ing to spec­u­late how things might have turned out dif­fer­ently if the Bur­don fam­ily had not been wiped out by the First World War and had been able to main­tain its in­flu­ence in the area.

“The Bur­don fam­ily did not just look af­ter their es­tate. They and their re­la­tions were in­volved in many con­tem­po­rary events, from the Civil War, to the wars in In­dia, the abo­li­tion of the Slave Trade, min­ing dis­putes and of course the First World War.”

Other than na­tional events, this was a fam­ily which helped shape ev­ery­thing from health­care to trans­port.

David added: “The Bur­dons were also re­spon­si­ble for build­ing the Turn­pike (now the A19) and the first Wear­mouth Bridge in Sun(although der­land there was an on­go­ing dis­pute

as to ac­tu­ally de­signed it.)”

One of

the Roland Bur­dons, as they were com­monly

known, was a friend of Wil­liam Pitt and had an en­counter with a high­way­man. There were at least two elope­ments in the fam­ily and a JP who sen­tenced con­victs to trans­porta­tion.

Hor­den-born Mau­reen, a for­mer ad­vi­sory teacher in maths across County Durham, said: “It is not the sort of book you would read all at once but it’s the sort where you will find an in­ter­est.”

A pic­ture emerges too of a fam­ily which was con­cerned about, and cared for their lo­cal com­mu­nity, “al­beit in a pa­ter­nal­is­tic way,” said David.

“The book gives an in­sight into a way of life which has passed away, and pro­vides much in­for­ma­tion for those in­ter­ested in the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial his­tory of the pe­riod and this area.

“The Bur­dons were in­volved in the con­struc­tion of rail­ways, Hartle­pool docks, and per­haps most im­por­tantly Hartle­pool hos­pi­tal. They also helped many lo­cal char­i­ties and com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions on a smaller scale.”

He said the Great War wiped out all the sons who “would have con­tin­ued the line” in­clud­ing Roland Bur­don VII who would have in­her­ited the es­tate.

David said: “Now the fam­ily home has be­come flats and the church where the fam­ily was buried has been closed. It is there­fore im­por­tant that we re­mem­ber the con­tri­bu­tion the Bur­dons made to East Durham.”

The Bur­don fam­ily lived in Cas­tle Eden from 1758 un­til 1944. “The book paints a wide can­vass of what life was like dur­ing that pe­riod, and more im­por­tantly, how it changed,” said David.

“Cas­tle Eden was orig­i­nally a small agri­cul­tural so­ci­ety, but this changed both with the devel­op­ment of agri­cul­ture, and then the ar­rival of coal min­ing. The book shows too how so­ci­ety changed, and it is fit­ting

to see towards the end of the book how the po­si­tion of the Bur­dons in so­ci­ety was eclipsed by the leader of lo­cal gov­ern­ment and the min­ers, Peter Lee.”

The book, The Row­land Bur­dons, North Coun­try Gentle­folk, is avail­able on Ama­zon at £20, and di­rectly from the Tay­lor-Goobys by email­ing david.tay­lorgooby@bt­in­ter­ or call­ing (0191) 3741827.

A fam­ily which cared for their lo­cal com­mu­nity” DAVID TAY­LOR-GOOBY

Mau­reen Tay­lor-Gooby whose new book takes an in-depth look at the Row­land-Bur­dons.

Great War brought an end to the Bur­don line. Photo: Press As­so­ci­a­tion.

Peter­lee sits on the for­mer Bur­don es­tate.

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