Keartons who left the Dales

16 05 2013

The Kearton family, with their variant name spellings have been recorded in the North Yorkshire Dales from the early 1300’s and it is very interesting to note that recent Y chromosome and deep clade DNA test results shows the our blood line has been identified as “Brythonic” indigenous to Britain from the Iron Age. The classification being L21 or R1b1a2a1a1b4. This indicates that we are all from the original arrivals who were in Britain before the Romans came, and that we are not part, in the male line, of any of the subsequent invaders, Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Jutes or Normans.
Christopher Kearton was born at Thwaite in Swaledale on the 25th of October, 1791, the sixth child of his father Christopher Kearton by his first wife Nellie Metcalfe who were married at Muker on the 5th of October, 1782. Christopher the elder, was a lead miner and small farmer of Thwaite, who had been born at Thwaite in July, 1762. Nellie was born in May, 1784, and was a daughter of Michael and Eleanor Metcalfe of Thwaite.

The young Christopher first married his distant cousin Eleanor Kearton. She was a daughter of James Kearton, Publican and Farmer of Scar House, Thwaite, and his wife the former Phyllis Alderson. Christopher and Eleanor had married at Muker on the 16th April, 1812, and Eleanor had been born on the 18th December, 1793, but unfortunately she died on the 21st December, 1813 a few months after the birth of their daughter Eleanor Kearton, on the 12th September, 1813 and who died in July, 1814. Christopher married again for a second time, at Muker on the 2nd December, 1819. His bride was Mary Alderson, the widow of the lead miner Nathan Coates who had died aged 25 years on the 28th January, 1816. Mary had been born at the small hamlet of Keld, Upper Swaledale, on the 15th December, 1794, and she was a daughter of Ralph Alderson, a lead miner of Keld and his wife, the former Mary Sandwick. There had been two children born to Mary and Nathan Coates. A son William Coates who was born at Keld on the 3rd September, 1814 and who was buried at Muker a few days later on the 22nd. A daughter Mary Coates was born at Keld on the 23rd August, 1815. Mary Coates remained in the household of her mother and step father Christopher Kearton, and after the shift to Heggerscale, she eventually married Abraham Hilton of Old Park, at Brough, Westmorland. She was later the mother of seven children, six girls and a boy who were all baptised at Brough Church.
After the birth of Christopher and Mary Kearton’s two daughters at Thwaite, Alice Kearton on the 21st February 1821 and Isabella Kearton on the 9th March 1823, the family along with Mary’s daughter Mary Coates, left Thwaite in late 1824 and made the journey to the remote hamlet of Heggerscale in Westmorland, near Kirkby Stephen and Kaber, where Christopher farmed a few acres and set himself up in business as a butcher. This move follows the departure of Christopher’s younger step brother James Kearton from Heggerscale. James had been born at Thwaite on the 25th February, 1798, The only child of Christopher Snr’s second marriage to Ann Pounder of Thwaite at Muker in February, 1796. James had departed Thwaite in 1816, for Heggerscale where he was a husbandman and farmer. When there, James met and courted Jane Ashton, a daughter of James Ashton and his wife the former Jane Dent, farmers of High Ewebank, a very remote hamlet situate well off the Stainmore Road and located near to Heggerscale, but separated by the deep and undulating roughly wooded area of Coldkeld over which the imposing Belah Railway Viaduct would eventually be constructed in 1859. James Kearton and Jane were married at Kirkby Stephen on the 12th May, 1823 and soon after, they departed for Romaldkirk which was then still a part of Yorkshire and their first three children were born there. After Christopher and Mary Kearton settled at Heggerscale, five more children were born to them. A daughter Nancy Kearton on the 24th August, 1826, a son Christopher Kearton on the 4th March, 1829, a son Ralph Kearton on the 8th August, 1831, a son William Kearton on the 29th June, 1834 and a son Thomas Kearton on the 10th May, 1837. It is to be noted that after their births, all the children were taken to their mother’s home village of Keld, to the Keld Independent Primitive Methodist Chapel to be baptised. The exception to this was Thomas. The Rev Stillman had died by the time he was born and the Keld Chapel was without a Minister. Thomas Kearton was later baptised at Heggerscale on the 13th June, 1837, by the Primitive Methodist Circuit Minister. His name was recorded in the register as Thomas KERTON.
While at Heggerscale in 1833, and at the age of 42 years, Christopher Snr., was persuaded to attend the new Mouthlock Primitive Methodist Chapel which had been built earlier in 1831.. He was then given to be a swearing man, a Sabbath profaner, and one who kept worldly company. It is also documented that he had seen the error of his ways and he eventually took up the important roll of local preacher and he continued to do this for the next 30 years, with great credit to himself [sic] By 1841 Christopher and his family had made the move to nearby Old Park and then by 1851 and through to 1862 the family had a well established Grocer and Butcher shop business in the High Street of Market Brough. When Christopher died on the 2nd April, 1866, Christopher and Mary were the custodians of the Temperance Hotel in the Main Street of Brough. He was interred in the cemetery of Brough Church and I am pleased to be able to say that in 1991, the large headstone is still standing and readable.
Of their children, I have already mentioned that Mary Coates eventually married Abraham Hilton, of Old Park, at Brough and had a large family.
Alice Kearton born at Thwaite in February, 1821 married William Elliott, a flax dress at Brough Church on the 12th July, 1845. They had family.
Isabella Kearton born at Thwaite in March, 1823 married Jeremiah John Dixon at Barnard Castle, County Durham, on the 3rd August, 1848. Earlier in 1841 Isabella had been the housekeeper for the Horse Dealer John Wilson and his family at Kaber, near Heggerscale. In 1851 Jeremiah Dixon was a Grocer and Draper at Horse Market, Barnard Castle and later at Bishopwearmouth. Isabella died at Sunderland in 1891. Her husband Jeremiah had died some nine years before. They had two sons and a daughter.

Nancy Kearton born at Heggerscale in August, 1826 married William Emsley Parker at Brough Church on the 9th June, 1855. William born in 1832 was a son of Barnabas Parker of Sunderland and at the time of his marriage was a Primitive Methodist Minister but, by 1881 the family were Restaurateurs in Stockport Road, Manchester. They had six children, four boys and two daughters all born at Manchester. After Christopher Kearton’s death in April 1866 his widow Mary Kearton moved to Manchester to live with her daughter Nancy and family and she died there on the 7th April, 1882. After her decease, she was returned to Brough and interred with her husband Christopher Kearton in the cemetery at Brough Church. An inscription added to the headstone confirms this.
The son Christopher Kearton, Butcher and Grocer of Brough was born at Heggerscale in March, 1829. At the age of 24, he eloped with 17 year old Ann Fawcett, a daughter of Fenton Fawcett and the former Eleanor Hindmore of Brough, and they married at Gretna Green, Scotland, on the 17th May, 1853, at the anvil of John Murray. They had in total thirteen children, nine sons and four daughters. Five children had been born at Brough before the family made the shift to Cleator Moor in Cumberland in 1862. There Christopher was employed at the Montreal Iron Ore Mining Company as an Iron Ore Miner and eventually he rose to the position of Overman.. In later life, Christopher and Ann lived at “Rose Cottage” Keekle Terrace and Anne died there in 1911 and Christopher in 1918.
Ralph Kearton, Butcher, Grocer and Accountant at Brough born at Heggerscale in August, 1831, married Alice Bainbridge, the eldest daughter of Thomas Bainbridge and his wife the former Alice Fawcett who was a daughter of Robert Fawcett and Alice Moss of Sandford. Thomas Bainbridge was a Yeoman, Farming Brough Castle Farm. The large Castle on site, rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford after a disastrous fire was already an imposing ruin at that time and had been for over one hundred years.. Ralph and Alice Kearton had five children, four boys and a daughter, three of the children had been born at Brough before the family made the shift to Cleator Moor in 1862. There Ralph was employed as a miner by the Montreal Iron Ore Mining Company and he also eventually rose to the responsible positions of Overman and then as Under Manager for Montreal’s six pits.. Montreal’s No.4 pit at the bottom of Crossfield Road was the only one in the area to bring up Iron ore and also Coal from the same shaft. They lived at 141 Ennerdale Road Cleator Moor, and Ralph died there in 1907 and Alice in 1908.

William Kearton born at Heggerscale on the 29th June, 1834 died at Brough on the 28th October, 1847. The cause of his death was given to be Hydrocephalus [water on the brain] but modern day thinking is, that he died of Meningitis. The young William had attended the Mouthlock Chapel with his father and on the 29th June, 1846, the 15th anniversary of the chapel, he had been awarded a Wharton Bible as a prize. According to a faded inscription on the front page, this was for the able manner in which he was able to recite the history of Joseph and Brethren. This bible is still extant and it was given to me by a close relative in England in 1987. As a family heirloom, it is treasured, and it is now in the possession of my brother John Kearton, also here in New Zealand.
Thomas Kearton born at Heggerscale on the 10th May, 1837, married firstly Agnes Sweeney, in February, 1858 at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Spring Gardens, Doncaster. She was a daughter of John Sweeney, a Cordwainer There were three children of the marriage two of whom unfortunately died young. The surviving daughter Ann Maria Kearton in 1881 was employed as a waitress for her Aunt Nancy at the restaurant in Stockport Road, Manchester, but no record of her has been found since that time ?? Thomas was a Linen Draper at Doncaster in 1858/9, and also at Manningham, Bradford in 1860. He was a Commission Agent at Manchester in 1868 and a Manager for a Cotton Manufacturer at Flixton, Manchester in 1879/80. A wholesale Confectioner in London in 1888 to 1902, and a warehouseman at Liverpool at the time of his death in 1907, aged 70 years. Thomas had married for the second time in November 1868 at the Independent Chapel Longsight-Gordon, Manchester. His bride was 20 year old Mary Metcalfe, a daughter of William Metcalfe an architectural carver. There was a son of the marriage born at Flixton in June 1880 but sadly he only lived six months. Mary died at Ormskirk, on the 29th June, 1914 aged 66 years.

With the shift to Cleator Moor, Cumberland, in 1862, the sons of Christopher and Ann Kearton were employed by various Iron Ore Mining Companies in the area. In 1884, three of the sons, Edwin, Thomas and Frederick Kearton went to the Gympie Gold Mines in Queensland, Australia. Of the three, two eventually returned to Cleator Moor in 1902 but Frederick stayed on in Queensland, having made his fortune there. He also married there and had family. In 1923, Richard Kearton of the Cleator Moor family emigrated to Pittsburgh, USA., His wife Jane Cowman later followed and they had a son William and a daughter Elizabeth Kearton born at Homestead, Pittsburgh. William Fenton Kearton, son of Edwin Kearton, one of the two who had returned to Cleator Moor in 1902, from the Queensland gold fields in Australia, emigrated to Queensland Australia, in October, 1926 with his wife and family. Another, John Frederick Kearton from Cleator Moor also emigrated to Victoria, Australia, in early 1926 with his wife son and three daughters. There, he was first employed in the coal mines at Wonthaggi but, several years later following a disastrous fire in the mine which closed it down, there was a move to Wollongong, New South Wales and the steel mills.

After the death of Ralph Kearton on the 3rd of November, 1907, and then his wife Alice Kearton on the 1st March, 1908, their two married sons Christopher Thomas Kearton and John Isaac Kearton and married daughter Mary Alice Holmes progressively emigrated to New Zealand with their family. Christopher Thomas had been employed by the Montreal Mining Company as a mine manger and his younger brother John Isaac as Accountant and Surface Manager.. In the main, Christopher Thomas and family departed for New Zealand in 1910, Mary Alice and family in 1911 and John Isaac and family in 1912. It was not really the best of ideas for the middle aged Iron Ore Mine employees to try to became farmers in the South Island of New Zealand. However, without doubt, they were far better off there than those they had left behind. In the North of England at that time there were poor working conditions, Iron Ore and Coal mines and also steel mills were closing down, unemployment was rife and there were unsatisfactory living conditions for many of the miners and their family.. My father, Albert Edward [Rex] Kearton, was the youngest of John Isaac Kearton’s family of five sons and I once asked an elder brother, my Uncle Jack, if he had ever had any desire to return to Cleator Moor. He said a definite No… He was 14 years of age when the family left for New Zealand and he said when going to school at Moor Row, he could still clearly remember the thick red ore dust and the filth and grime of the place. A window of a house suddenly being opened up and a miner’s head coming out coughing and spitting blood. !!! Again…No way.. The Iron Ore of Cleator was that kind known as red or kidney ore. Compact red haematite which yielded up to 65% metallic iron. These deposits of iron ore were the richest and most valuable in the area. Yes, I do think that the family were better off here with clean air and far better living conditions. Much better than those who had been left behind but, even so, life was not so easy for them trying to be farmers in a new country.

Of James Kearton and Jane Ashton’s family. After they departed Heggerscale, they settled in Romaldkirk Parish and three children were born at Balderdale, where James was employed as a labourer. Their fourth child James Kearton was born at Startford in 1831, and he married for the first time at Shildon, Co. Durham, in April, 1862 but there were no children of that marriage and he was left a widower in October, 1859. In February, 1870. He married for the second time at St James Church, Coundon, Co. Durham. His bride was the widow Sarah Jane Dobson, formerly Oliver. Sarah already had three children from her previous marriage and they all took, and were known by, the family name Kearton. James and Sarah’s first child was a son James Christopher Kearton born at Thornley, Co. Durham, in June, 1871. He was baptised at St Oswald, Thornley in September, 1874 and the entry shows his name as KURTON.. Their second child Jane Elizabeth Ann Kearton was born at Thornley in August, 1874. The son James Christopher Kearton, blacksmith, roadman and later coal miner of Cassop, Co. Durham, eventually married Dorothy Jane Hutchinson in February, 1897, he married by the name of KIRTON. And that name KIRTON has carried on through that branch of the family to the present day..

Part 2…
On the 23rd December, 1780, John Kearton farmer and lead miner of Thwaite married the widow Elizabeth Peacock at Muker and they had four children born at Thwaite, three sons and a daughter. The eldest sons were James Kearton born on the 29th July, 1783, and Christopher born on the 23rd March, 1786. In 1804, James and Christopher Kearton departed the dales for Cheshire where they were employed at Congleton as Joiners, Machine Makers and Millwrights. James married twice, for the first time on the 21st March, 1808, at Astbury Church to Mary Bailey… They had a son and three daughters, the last daughter being born in 1813 and who died in April 1814. James married again at Astbury Church on the 27th May, 1819 and his bride was the widow Martha Fithon, formerly Simon. They had a family of a daughter and two sons. James Kearton died at Congleton, Cheshire on the 20th December, 1827, aged 44 years.
Christopher also married twice. His first marriage was to Elizabeth Newton at Astbury Church on the 4th September, 1808 and they had a family of nine children, three daughters and six sons. Christopher married for the second time at College Parish Church, Manchester on the 27th November, 1842. His bride was Elizabeth Taylor. There were no children of that marriage and Elizabeth died at Greenheys, Manchester on the 28th April, 1872. Aged 73. Christopher died at Congleton on the 6th March, 1867, aged 81 years..
The children and g/children of James and Christopher Kearton had large families with many settling in Cheshire and neighbouring counties and also emigrating to Australia.



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