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Genealogy quest

I'm new here, and new to forums in general. I will be taking a tour (through GCT) to England, Scotland and Wales in October of 2022. First we will hit London and Stonehenge, then head to Wales, then to Edinburgh. It will be a 3 week trip. I have ancestral roots in Rose's Bower, which is in Northumberland region. I also have relatives that were buried in Simonburn, but I'm not sure of the parish. I am using some of our tour time to break out from Edinburgh to take the 2 hour ride to Roses Bower. My question is this...
How do I proceed to research the area, both with maps and historical guides. I would also like to visit the parish where I can trace the furthest back of my ancestors-Cuthburt Burrell, born 1631. Could you guide me in the right direction?

Posted by
1190 posts

Looks like you might be heading to Hexham Northumberland which is near Hadrian's Wall. You can take a Train from Waverly Station in Edinburgh to Hexman; it takes about 3 Hours. Simonburn is 8 miles from Hexham by bus. St. Cuthbert is encrypted at Durham which may be your ancestor's birthplace. Durham is an hour's drive SE of Hexham or 2 hrs or more by public transportation. King James was monarch of England and Scotland in 1631. My ancestors were headed for America with Winthrop Ships in 1631. I'm on Ancestry, myself. You can "go down the rabbit hole" with any genealogical society but I got a good start. Start looking on Find a Grave for your Ancestors, it works best with birth and death dates. Bon Voyage!

Posted by
4869 posts

Roses Bower (no apostrophe) seems to be a sheep farm with rental cottages, not an area. Nearby St Mungo’s church in Simonburn seems to have covered much of this area and the parish records are held by Northumberland Archives Service. They hold records from 1681, which maybe too recent for you. This is where you need to start. They will also hold the old maps of the area. Transcripts (never as good as the originals) are held at Newcastle Central Library.

The Northumberland and Durham Family History Society website may help.

My dad spent thousands of hours researching our family tree. He found that the online services, whilst a useful guide were inaccurate in many instances, as people had inputted the data incorrectly. He managed to trace our roots back to the 1730s, but there weren’t any parish records prior to this time. He found the best way for accurate results was to visit the records centres and actually look at the microfiche - he ended up buying an old machine and the microfiche for several parishes so that he could do the research at home. The Mormon church records were also useful - he visited in person.

Roses Bower is a rural area, so it’s less likely that there would be records. At the time, agricultural workers couldn’t read or write. My family moved at the time of the Industrial Revolution to an urban area, where there were better church records and more people could read and write.

Any gravestones more than 150 years old can be difficult to read and as I have discovered, farm workers didn’t have gravestones as they couldn’t afford them.

Posted by
241 posts

Now this is really getting you into the depths of rural Northumberland! There is no way you can do this using public transport - you will need to hire a car.

Jennifer is right, Roses Bower used to be an isolated farm on the Wark Burn on the edge of Kielder Forest. Have a look here,-2.3180776,3062m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m8!3m7!1s0x487dbdc703c68689:0xb29b51c2f166927f!5m2!4m1!1i2!8m2!3d55.0856804!4d-2.3158836

It will have changed out of all recognition and is now very much into the luxury self catering business.

St Mungo’s Church, Simonburn would have been the parish church for the area as it is the oldest church in the area. It is tiny and a delightful small church, again well off the beaten track.

It is now part of a larger benefice with newer churches at Wark and Humshaugh. The church used to be left open, but if you do plan on visiting, it is best to check first!

Contact the vicar before you visit. She may well have information about burials in the graveyard and also information about the archives and who to talk to.

I think your estimate of two hours to Roses Bower may be a bit optimistic. I would want to allow 2.5 hours minimum, allowing time to get out of Edinburgh and roads in rural Northumberland are slow. There is also the possibility of getting lost as Roses Bower isn’t the easiest of places to find.... It also seems a shame not to visit Simonburn church while you are that close.

Being realistic, you need to allow 6-7 hours for the return trip.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for all of the very informative and helpful tips in reply to my questions! They are all very useful, and I will definitely be applying all your advice to my upcoming trip.


Posted by
1804 posts

while you're at it, can you folks on the ground recommend some reputable British genealogical societies and firms?

Posted by
4 posts

I’ve had great luck with a combination of and I started with family search because that one is free and then filled in the blanks using information from ancestry which requires a subscription.

Posted by
4934 posts

My cousin and my wife are deep genealogy researchers and have provided me tons of information on my ancestors, most come from the British Isles.

We did a four week drive tour of S. Wales and England visiting great places, as well as some were our ancestors originated.
You answers are on the genealogy side as to where people are buried, etc.

We visited the village in SW Wales where my paternal ancestors came from (left for America in 1716) in 2017. It was amazing.