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Brian Pears  – Gateshead, U.K.

These pages are an archive of my posts and pages written over the last few years. The menu button can be found on the top right of each page.

Genealogical information about my own family and relations is online as are a number of my efforts relating to World War Two in the area:- Index to the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour (which covers Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire); North East Diary 1939-1945 (which I co-authored with the late Roy Ripley of Cramlington); When Bombs Fell on Rowlands Gill (which looks at the air raid of May 1st 1942); Rowlands Gill and the North-East 1939-1945 (which covers many aspects of life on the home front) and Wartime Incidents in Allenheads and Allendale.

All of my local history essays are now online including: Blaydon Council’s Water Supply to the Rowlands Gill AreaEighty Years, the story of Rowlands Gill’s electricity supply; From Roller Skates to Bingo, the story of Rowlands Gill’s two cinemas; and Telephone Rowlands Gill One, the story of Rowlands Gill’s postal and telephone service. I’ve also edited and published my late father’s history of High Spen entitled High Spen and District; this is available as an e-book.

A series of articles – Our Ancestors, Conceptions, Misconceptions and a Paradox, The Ancestor Paradox Revisited and The Ancestor Paradox Yet Again – is also now available, as is Where There’s A Will… an article about the trouble that wills have caused in my family. This topic is also addressed in great detail in my paper, Greendikes – A tale of forgery and greed, which is available in PDF format (921 Kb).

Fans of murder and mystery may be interested in three articles describing murders in and around Rowland Gill. The Mystery of Doctor Robert Stirling and The High Spen Murderer were written by my late father, Thomas William Pears, and The Lintz Green Murder is by a friend, Terry Middleton, a very able local historian.

Still available are my survey of Plaques and Memorials in Gateshead Borough and my selection of Photographs taken at the North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish, Co Durham.

Also online is an article I wrote back in 1996 entitled Police on Medium Wave which looks at very early police communications in England and Wales.

I’ve placed a few small collections of photographs online, mostly for the benefit of ex-pats I’ve kept in touch with through mailing lists. These include:

Larkin Poe at the Caedmon Hall 12 April 2015 Gilded Thieves at the Caedmon Hall 12 April 2015A Visit to the Pathology Centre, QE Hospital 18 March 2015Fenwick’s Xmas Window Display 2011Family Reunion 23rd October 2011Smith Family MemorabiliaFenwick’s Xmas Window Display 2009Red Kite over Hookergate CemeteryLocal Scenes by Tom Waters (1907-1990)A Nostalgic Visit to Highfield SchoolTall Ships’ Races on the Tyne 2005Newcastle Quayside 2 July 2005Town Moor Hoppings 2005Vindolanda Roman Camp 2004Fenwick’s Christmas Window Displays 2003Brandling Coal DropsDemolition of the Union Debating Chamber at Newcastle University in 2003High Spen in 1977 with some old mapsMarlborough Crescent Bus Station in December 1976Exploration of the Victoria Tunnel, Newcastle.

There’s also a little bit about me.

20 thoughts on “Home Page

  1. I have been fascinated by your comments for the last few years now and have discussed them with various people who simply don’t believe that we are very likely descended from the whole population of the British Isles around 900 to 1,000 years ago (at least those who have descendants alive today). ‘It’s a mathematical impossibility for this not to be the case’ I tell them. But they still don’t accept it.

    To take a single example, does this mean we are all descended from William the Conqueror? If any of our country’s history is correct he most certainly has descendants alive today. He is something like 28 generations back from when I was born (assuming about 30 years per generation) so should certainly be far back enough to be included by your theory. He had something like 10 children so should have plenty of descendants alive today.

    Following your theory to it’s logical conclusion, it’s virtually impossible that we are not descended from him but I still find this fact astonishing. Have you written to the papers about this?I would be really interested to hear your comments, Thanks, Anna.


  2. Hi Anna Yes, you and I and most of the rest of of the population are almost certainly descended from William the Conqueror. You say “Your theory”, but I must point out that it’s not mine. I just gave a simplified description of what many demographers and statisticians have known for years. You can find lots of academic papers on the subject, but the maths in them is invariably somewhat tricky so I thought a greatly simplified account would be helpful. Incidentally, we are probably all descended from every monarch up to and including the last Plantagenet at least. Here’s a piece from Andrew Millard, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Durham, about our descent from Edward III – http://www.dur.ac.uk/a.r.millard/genealogy/EdwardIIIDescent.php


  3. Hmm . . . there are differences between mathematical probability and reality, particularly when we deal with human beings, aren´t there? Though the mathematics do point to a strong likelihood that all of us of English descent are fairly closely related (well, thirtieth cousin or so, I suppose), that we all descend from all early Englishmen and -women with living descendants certainly doesn´t seem plausible when one considers such factors as geographic propinquity, social prejudices, and simple physical attraction and repulsion.

    This appears an instance of statistical rigidity outweighing common experience.


  4. As any scientist or mathematician soon discovers, “common experience” is a very poor guide to reality. Indeed one doesn’t have to progress very far in either discipline to realize that the human brain is far from the ideal tool to deal with the realities of the very small or the very large, and that includes very small and very large numbers as well as physical entities.

    As to the specific objections you mention, the first, geography, is dealt with explicitly and at length in the second of my three articles on this subject. The second objection, social prejudices, is referred to in the third article, and is probably of little significance given that we are talking about breeding, not necessarily marriage. How many illegitimate children of servants were down to their socially “superior” masters or their sons, and how many aristocratic sons and heirs were in reality the offspring of Mellors, the gardener, or Jeeves, the butler? The third objection, the vagaries of physical attraction, is, again, probably of far less significance than might appear at first sight, given that marriage, even as recently as the 19th century, was usually a matter of necessity or social convenience rather than romance. Arranged marriages were the norm on all social levels, and a teenage, unmarried mother, who was disowned by her parents in the days before the welfare state, would be likely to accept an offer of marriage from any suitor, however physically repulsive – as indeed would a young widow with a family in tow.

    All in all, objections such as yours, even if meaningful, could not materially alter the conclusions that I and several other have reached, because the main conclusion is mathematically inevitable however one tweaks the variables. The timing might vary a little, but the conclusion remains inescapable – we all descend from around 85% of the population around 30 generations ago and in all previous generations.


  5. John was the son of Simon and Sarah[neeDouglas] bapt at Stockton Parish Church,he was first married to a Jane Hunton and Abel was their son Abel died in Stockton-on-Tees 1859 John was brother to myGG Grandfather Robert also a Tees pilot My GGrandfather Stephen Lister has 3 sons also pilots and his Grandson my Father was a sea captain and aTrinity House North Sea pilot. John also had one of the first houses to be built in the new town of Middlesbrough


  6. Arthur son of John was a Master Marriner he married a Margaret E Robinson at Stockton 21/8/1866 they had a son also Arthur he died an infant . Arthur snr must have also died as Margaret married 1/4/1875 SPC one William Tennant widower 20 years older than her


  7. I am going to revert to my schooldays and say Hi Mr Pears, I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, you may have been my maths teacher at John Marlay School!!!


    1. Hi Lindy – I was a maths teacher at John Marlay School. If you don’t mind me asking, what was your surname back then and what form were you in?


  8. Hello Brian,
    I really enjoyed reading your ‘life story’ (so far). I have sought your help on numerous occasions and your replies have been superb. Our lives have similarities: I was born in 1945; I became a teacher (of mathematics). They have differences too: my family left County Durham when I was young; we moved quite a bit with university in Manchester and I have lived near Elgin since 1973. I am obsessed with my family background. One grandfather was W.P. Richardson (1873-1930) DMA secretary, MFGB treasurer, …. The other was John Edward Gilliland (1877-1951) agent for Jack Lawson. An awful lot to live up to! (Sorry if I’m boring.) Thanks for all your help.


  9. Dear Mr Pears,

    Wow, I have just come across an old photo of my Dad, posing against what I think was Ryton Hostel for displaced persons, and I thought I would Google Ryton Hostel and see what I could find out about it. I was so amazed to come across your very interesting piece on Ryton Hostel and even more amazed to find my Dad’s name staring out at me! Also my two Uncle Fedors and Dad’s friend Tony Samovics. Alas, all these people have now passed on but I’d just like to say thank you for giving me that little snippet of my Dad’s past.

    Regards, Anne Jeavens (nee Baetul)


  10. Hi iv just read an article on the 1855 Durham murder I’m very interested in this as my 3rd great grandfather was Richard Rayne I’m doing my family tree so any information would b great thanks East Hall


  11. Could you tell me what the various initials of bombs stand for please. I am guessing HE is High explosives and IBs are Incendiary Bombs, but what are PMs?


    Dave Edwards.


  12. Hi Brian iv just read an article :-
    The Gospel Hall opened on 13th November 1937 in what is now the premises of Abel Building and Roofing Services Ltd on Station Road. This hall had been built around 1928 and had been used as an Auction Room by Oswell Carter. In the 1960s the hall was taken over by the Elim Pentecostal Church, but it closed in the 1970s.]

    I purchased the premisses in the early nineteen eighties it had been a carpet shop and purchased the adjacent land from Gateshead council and formed a car park for my business Abel Building and Roofing Services Ltd. the hymn books,cups, saucers and stage were still there from the gospel hall, I had thought the building was old railway premises from the Arched windows at the front and the Bricks used to build it.
    In the late eighties before we extended the building sitting in my office at the front left arched window two elderly gentlemen came in and said they were revisiting the village after moving south many years ago,They remembered the building as the joiners shop for the railway.
    My son now runs the business which i believe is now one of the oldest in the village.

    Are you aware of any photographs of these buildings? We have searched over the years without luck.

    Regards, Richard Johnson.


    1. Hi Richard
      Yes, as I understand it, the building was built by Oswald Carter in 1928 for use as an auction room, and was taken over by the Gospel Hall people 9 or 10 years later. I believe that the minister (or whatever they called him) was a chap called Routledge from Blackhill Mill.
      I’ve only ever seen two photographs of the building as the Gospel Hall – one was of a group of people just outside the door, the other, if memory serves, shows a group of church worthies around the pulpit inside the building. I’ve never seen one which shows the building as a whole. If I can find copies of the two pics I’ve mentioned I’ll send you scans.


  13. Hi Brian,
    my gt grandfather James Richard Bye was the brother of George Bye who married Elizabeth Atkinson Hall, daughter of James Hall and Catherine Atkinson.
    I believe there were another two children Percy Bye and Kathleen Bye.
    Would you have any photos of George and Elizabeth Bye’s family?
    Denise Bye


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