Local Historical Stories


Early in 1996 Alastair Robertson - one of our local historians was asked if he would write a couple of historical articles for the Alston Moor Newsletter. He thought he could manage three or four but in the event, over 20 years later, they were still going. Once, and only once, he received an unsolicited article from an outside source, this was the reminiscence of a school for wartime evacuees at Nent Hall that came from Mr. Michael Dickinson and it was gratefully included in the series.

They’re a real mixed bag, too random to put into a book, but they’re still worth keeping in a more permanent form, so the Historical Society website seemed the perfect place to have them.

Material for the articles came largely from local sources, from the Alston Moor Historical Society Archives, St. Augustine’s Church Records, Alston Library, the Cumbria County Records Office in Carlisle and the County Records Office Northumberland.

There has been editing in some cases that will be noted at the beginning of each item, otherwise the articles have been left as they were written, complete with occasional references to such things as cement lorries, the millennium, and foot and mouth disease, which are themselves now things of the past (?).
Read on …

Story No 46: Canadian Cousins?

Stacks Image 309699

"Although this map is later than the period referred to, it shows a typical layout for settlers' claims in Ontario.
Map reproduced by kind permission of Jim McGarry of The Lowbyer Manor Hotel."

CANADIAN COUSINS? (Issue No.82, Autumn 2012)

(This brief article was written in 2012 – but nothing came of the suggestion for a 200th anniversary commemoration in 2018.)

Are you from an Alston Moor family? Have you any connections with a group of people who emigrated from Alston Moor to Upper Canada, now Ontario, in 1818? Can you trace your family back to 1800? Would you like to trace your family back to 1800?

Emigrants that we know a little about are;
William Dixon, a lead miner from Leadgate
George Lee, a miner and butcher from Sheepriggs near Alston
Joseph Lee, a miner from Flatt
Robert Milburn, a miner from High Nest
Thomas Milburn, a miner who moved around the Moor a bit.
Thomas Moore from Knarsdale
John Smith, a shoemaker from Alston
Jonathan Stevenson, a miner from Nest
John Walton from Low Lee House
William Walton, a miner from Wanwood
Walton Wilson of Jollybeard House, now called Hill House

In the summer of 1818 about twenty adults and twenty children left Alston Moor for a new life in Canada. The ‘Milburn colonists’ as they were called, after Thomas Milburn who organised the group, set sail from Whitehaven in the ‘The Jason’, a ship that was only 79 feet long, weighing 159 tons, with two masts and a single deck for a total of 110 passengers. The ship arrived in Quebec in July or early August and the Milburn colonists made their way to Port Hope in Upper Canada. From there the menfolk left their families and went on through the trackless Canadian forests, following lakes and rivers, to a site that had been surveyed by the Canadian government and allocated for settlement. Here the men built a communal log cabin where they spent the autumn and winter while they staked out their claims on either side of what became called ‘Communication Road’, fenced them off and started to clear their land ready for farming. The following spring they went back to Port Hope to collect their families.

The 200th anniversary will be in 2018. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to commemorate this event? Staff of the Peterborough Museum and Archives in Ontario are looking into their records to find out what they can. Church and chapel records here have supplied quite a bit of information about some of the families but more is needed to pin them down for certain and to find out whether there are distant relatives on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Alston Moor Historical Society Archives are staffed by volunteers. But even though we give our time for free there are still ongoing costs. Filing cabinets, electricity, heating, hosting costs and more.

We would appreciate any contribution you could give us to help us with our work.
About Us
Alston Moor Historical Society was founded in 1973 and, due to the nature of Alston Moor, it is a member of both the Northumberland Association of Local History Societies and the Cumbria Federation of Local History Societies.
Alston Moor Historical Society
Alston Moor, Cumbria
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