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Bedlington area names, late Victorian


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Hello, all. I have a thread in Friends and Family but thought I would include some names here, as I have some corrections and amends, now I have tried to read original documents again. I'm aware of other sources of information eg census, trade directories, but I have not yet got that far. These are all names connected with a murder in Guidepost - witnesses, inquest jurors and the family of little boy killed  by his mother (details see my post elsewhere). All these people are from Guidepost, Choppington or Bedlington. They may have living relatives in the area. I hope this is not construed as spamming these boards. 

Anyone know any of these: 

John Frederick Rath, pork butcher, German born

Annie Rath, nee Richardson, his wife, born Elswick, Newcastle, who killed her son

Charles Frederick Rath, not quite two years old, the victim

Joseph Richardson Davidson Lynn - coroner

Mrs Elizabeth Thompson - witness. Neighbour of the victim, in Blyth Terrace

Mrs Elizabeth Hare  - witness and neighbour. Wife of John Hare, miner. Mrs Hare was illiterate, as she does not sign her statement but leaves her mark X

Dr John Trotter - witness, possibly related to James Trotter of Bedlington

Policeman Robert Stuart, a constable stationed at Guidepost; born Bamburgh, married to Isabella born Chatton. Later lives in the police house in Bedlington

Inquest jurors were:

William Johnstone, landlord of the Anvil Inn (another forum user is descended from this man)

William Harrison

Andrew Napier

Ernest Wheatley (butcher in Guidepost)

Armstrong Cole 

John Kidd

James Nicholson

Peter McHugh

George Rutter

William Horsham

James Young 

George Ternant (possibly Tennant)

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20 hours ago, HeatherW said:

I hope this is not construed as spamming these boards. 

Definitely not, Heather! We love any historical challenge! Welcome to the forum. I've had a look at the names but there's nothing that rings any bells except Trotter and that's because of Bedlington's connection with Dr. Trotter. It's an interesting, if gruesome, bit of history though and nothing I've ever heard about. Thanks for sharing it.

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Alan suggested that Dr James Trotter had a brother who lived in the Guidepost area. I hadn't heard that but I do know there were several doctors in the family. A short while ago I posted that I'd found, in the 1911 census, one of my relatives working for Dr Robert Samuel Trotter at Brewery house, Front Street Bedlington. I have to report that this wasn't THE Dr Trotter, as later resarch has shown. Dr Trotter of 'monument' fame died in 1899.

However, both he(on the 1891 census) and Robert Samuel Trotter (on the 1911 census) lived at the same adress. I'm assuming therefore that the latter is the son of Dr James Trotter.

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Thank you, @Canny lass.....I think it’s likely ‘my’ doctor T was the son of the Bedlington one. 

There are some other local doctors in the story, as two of them gave evidence at Newcastle assizes that Annie Rath was unfit to plead. I’ll decide whether to follow those rabbit holes, when I decide how far to look at the treatment of mentally ill people in Northumberland and elsewhere at that time. Many of you will know that throughout the nineteenth century, attitudes became more and more enlightened - not really by modern standards, but certainly in comparison with what had gone before. 

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2 hours ago, HeatherW said:

Many of you will know that throughout the nineteenth century, attitudes became more and more enlightened - not really by modern standards, but certainly in comparison with what had gone before. 

If you are interested in the changing face of Mental Health Care, Heather, have a look at the topic ‘John Stoker Letter’  posted in History Hollow by John H Williams in December last year. The topic concerns the dog breed Bedlington Terrier but a few posts in it goes off at a tangent related to the development of mental health diagnosis and treatment. This came about because the son of a Bedlington Vicar was 'committed' to the 'madhouse' taking with him a dog of this breed.

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Hi again, Heather,

I had a look at various documents to see if I could find any son named John for Dr James Trotter. He does not appear to have had a son of this name from either of his marriages. Both wives were called Jane which complicated the matter. I believe John is a brother.

John Erskine Mar Trotter, to give him his full title, appears as the five year younger brother of James Trotter, then aged 8, in the Scottish census of 1851. He is the youngest in the family.

In 1861, when John EM. Is 11 yo, James has started studying medicine but is still living at home with his parents.

According to the historical info given by Wetherspoons for their Red Lion Public House in Bedlington, James “Trotter came to the town in 1864, where he joined forces with his brother as a GP”.  However, seven years later in 1871, John E.M. is still a medical student in Scotland so it wasn’t him who came to Bedlington with James.  I can, however, see from the census records and the medical register  that it was his older brother, Alexander who was his partner.

Like his brother, John remains at home with his parents during his studies but later, after qualifying and registration in 1879 he followed his brothers to the Bedlington Area. The earliest record I can find for him in the area is in The Medical Register for 1883 when his address is given as Bebside (he was probably the doctor for some of my relatives!) – just across the River Blyth from Bedlington. The same register shows his brother James in Bedlington and his brother Alexander in Blyth, all very close to each other.

In 1890 James and Alexander appear in Ward’s Directory where they appear not only as doctors but also as councilors on the Northumberland County Council. John E.M. isn’t mentioned.

Then, in 1894, John E.M. turns up again in Kelly’s Directory but now living at Choppington, Scotland Gate, which puts him nicely in the vicinity of the crime. His brother Alexander is still in Blyth.

1897, just one year before the murder he is recorded in the prestigious Burkes Family Records and  has a daughter, Isabel. (That should help if you're looking for descendents).

Six years later, 10 July 1900, John E.M. is initiated into the St Cuthbert Lodge of the Free Masons in Bedlington , contributing the princely sum of 17 shillings and 6 pence. His address on initiation is still Choppington. (A penned entry in the margin notes death on 3 February 1908)

He appears to have continued living in the Choppington/Scotland Gate area, as entries in The Medical Register 1903 and 1905 testify, presumably until his death.

I’m quite sure this is ‘your’ Dr. John Trotter.

If you’d like any of the supporting documentation let me know.

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@Canny lass, thank you so much....this is such a detailed and impressive set of information that’s saved me a chunk of digging! 

I wonder if Dr John wrote any memoirs? I think the murder would certainly feature. 

Thank you again. The Trotters were such an interesting and active family. 

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You're welcome, Heather. It filled a few hours of a grey, rainy day for one confined to barracks waiting for the Covid vaccination to come my way. 

The Trotter's do seem to be an interesting family and I'm posting the entry from Burkes Family Records, compiled in 1897, where you (and anybody else interested in the family) can see the development from Robert, the father of the three Dr Trotter(s). It's Robert who is the subject of the main entry and as spouse names and children's names are entered there are lots of ways forward for research.


Dr James Trotter, 1897 Burke's Family Records-00613.jpg

Burkes records the geneology of the junior houses of British nobility so Robert wasn't just your ordinary, every-day kind of guy and as you can see (bottom of page) the family had its own coat of arms.

Edited by Canny lass
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