I’d like to find out more about my ancestors’ links with Jesmond Gardens
QMy ancestor James Dewar was born in Ladykirk in about 1759. He was in Newcastle by 1790 for the birth of his eldest son, John, who became a surgeon. James’s occupation was always given as gardener.
He bought at least five acres of Jesmond Dene between 1805 and 1809 and built some houses at Jesmond Place, now Jesmond Gardens.
On the rest of the land he planted more than 1,000 fruit trees and 2,000 gooseberry and currant bushes.
When James died in 1818, James’s son James and his brother Henry (my great great grandfather) continued with the business, which became a pleasure garden.
Do you know of any illustrations of Jesmond Gardens? I’m also intrigued how James came to have enough money to buy the land and develop it in the first place.
Clare Abbott, by email
AYou do not say where you have looked for illustrations, but the Local Studies department
of Newcastle Libraries has a collection of 80,000 photographs. A pamphlet entitled History of Jesmond Dene was issued by Newcastle City Council several years ago and there is a copy at Newcastle Library. The text was previously available on Newcastle City Council’s website, and an archived list of contents can be accessed at www.jesmond. uk.net/Archive_NCC_ Jesmond_Dene_Historical_
Information.htm. This lists some photographs and also refers to other publications that may contain relevant information and possibly sketches or photographs.
This history quotes a description from an account in 1825 that states: “Mr Dewar’s new and extensive tea and fruit gardens... purchased with the savings of industry, affords an honourable proof of skill and labour.”
As well as being industrious, James Dewar could also have inherited money. There is no evidence of anyone named Dewar having left a will in the Ladykirk area (Scottish wills are listed on ScotlandsPeople) or in
the Diocese of Durham at that time.
If James had benefited from anyone else’s will, this could be traced using Personal Names in
Durham Wills, covering 1787-1803 and available from the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society. James Dewar of Newcastle (aged 29) married Mary Eaton (aged 21) by licence at Swine in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1788.
The marriage allegation may indicate James’s occupation at that time. Mary Eaton was baptised at Swine in 1767, daughter of John. Alice Eaton, wife of John Eaton was buried there in 1800 and left a will.
It was unusual for a married woman to leave a will at that time, but assuming that this was Mary’s mother, Mary may have benefited from a legacy.
Wills proved at York, as well as marriage licences and many Yorkshire parish registers, can be searched on Findmypast.
Copies of wills and marriage licences can be obtained from the Borthwick Institute in York.
Top: A map of Jesmond Gardens; Clare Abbott’s great great grandfather, Henry Dewar