The Manners family of Coundon were descended from Jonathan Manners, my 7th great grandfather, who was born in Lambton in 1700. Jonathan married Eleanor Taylor at St. Mary and St. Cuthbert, Chester-le-street, Durham, on 26 December 1722 and they had approximately ten children. The village of Lambton, now in Washington, Tyne and Wear, lies about 2 miles northeast of Chester-le-Street and is historically linked to the Lambton family of Lambton Castle. The Lambtons were the earls of Durham and their wealth was largely derived from the mining on the lands surrounding their estate. John George Lambton was made 1st Earl of Durham and Viscount Lambton in 1833.
Jonathan Manners was a miner in Lambton and the Taylor family were also involved in the mining industry in that region. The personal history of most of the children cannot be determined, however at least five of them may have died in infancy. Jonathan’s two daughters, Elizabeth, born in 1733, and Dorothy, born in 1744, both married and had children of their own. Three of the sons, Thomas, Ralph and William survived into adulthood, although there is no evidence to suggest William ever married and it is Thomas and Ralph who formed different branches of the family.
Thomas, my 6th great-grandfather, was baptised at St. Mary and St. Cuthbert on 23 January 1726 and he married Rosamund Nelson in the same church on 7 February 1747. Thomas and Rose had nine children, however it is the eldest son, George, baptised on 18 August 1751, who begins my Coundon story. Most of George’s siblings died young so he was the only son to carry on the family name for this particular branch. George married Elizabeth Gardner on 29 December 1775 and they eventually had four sons and four daughters. Of course, there are no census records to tell us when George actually moved to Coundon, however the landmark events in the lives of the children offer a clue. Most of the children were born in the Chester-le-Street area, however the second youngest daughter, Maria, was born in Bishop Auckland in 1789 and George appears in land tax records for the area in 1799.
Coundon, a rural mining village which has existed since 1197, has been the home to generations of my family and I have fond memories of visiting as a child. As a small village, it is inevitable family lines will cross over on a regular basis and many of the old mining families intermarried over generations so the branches on my tree are quite tangled. My paternal grandfather made his home in Scotland after marrying my Scottish grandmother and the remaining members of his direct family in Coundon have long gone, however there are still traces of the old surnames in existence. Of course, the mining industry in Coundon has long gone and the village is facing the same challenges as other areas in decline.
Getting back to the Manners family, land tax records show George and his sons were running a pit which became locally known as the Manners Black Boy Pit since there were a number of collieries bearing the name Black Boy in the area. After George’s death on 20 August 1821, his four sons continued working in the mining industry, however three of them died young and it was left to the second eldest son, John, to continue the family trade.
John’s younger brother, George, my 4th great-grandfather, married Margaret Simpson on 2 July 1809 and they had eight children. Margaret was the younger sister of John’s wife, Ann, and was just one of many examples of siblings marrying siblings. All but one of George and Margaret’s children survived into adulthood and they went on to have large families which will be explored in future posts.