NameChristian MITFORD, 2688
Baptism20 Apr 1680, Earsdon, NBL
Bapt MemoEarsdon Register
Burial29 Sep 1743, Whalton, NBL
Burial MemoSt Mary Magdalen
Named in her mother’s will. Bond of marriage 2 October 1707; party to deed, 14 September 1723.
The Diary of Rev. John Thomlinson (1692-1761) mentions: 1717. Oct. 19th. .... Mr. Lademan’s wife represented as frantick, or foolish; he is to have living in Hexham, Sir W. Blacket’s gift. (footnote: The Rev. John Laidman did not obtain the benefice of Hexham but became Rector of Whalton (1723-1748). His wife was Christian, daughter of Robert Mitford of Seghill.)
Not far to the west of Morpeth (Northumberland) lies the delightful village of Mitford, on the junction of the rivers Wansbeck and Font (Mitford means ‘the meeting ford’) in a wooded valley, where, as Swinburne has it, “The Wansbeck sings with all her springs.” It was once an important place, for there is an old rhyme that evokes some rivalry:
Midford was Midford ere Morpeth was ane
And still shall be Midford when Morpeth is gane
MITFORD, a parish partly in the west division of Morpeth Ward, and partly in the west division of Castle Ward, comprehends the townships of Benridge, Edington, High and Low Highlaws, Mitford, Molesdon, Newton Park, Newton Underwood, Nunriding, Pigdon, Spittle Hill, and Throphill. It is bounded by the parishes and chapelries of Long Horsley, Hartburn, Meldon, Whalton, Morpeth, and Hebron, and comprises an area of 9,595 statute acres. The population in 1801, was 676; in 1811, 630; in 1821, 625; in 1831, 701; in 1841, 733; and in 1851, 700 souls. This district possesses rich and fertile soil, and is well
watered by the rivers Font and Wansbeck."
[From History, Topography, and Directory of Northumberland, Whellan, 1855].
This of course was the home of the great family bearing that name (motto: God careth for us), but the first lords of Mitford were the Bertram family. The church of St. Mary Magdalene stands by the road there, opposite the ruins of a most imposing 12C castle. Mitford castle was built by the descendants of Sir Richard Bertram (who came over with the Conqueror) in about 1170. It was dismantled by Alexander III king of Scotland in 1318. The Mitford family entered into possession during the reign of Mary I and soon moved moved out of what remained of the castle into a manor house directly south-west of the church.
The church stood derelict after a fire in 1705, and was restored in 1874 by the squire, Colonel John Philip Osbaldeston-Mitford. This double-barrelled name was adopted by most of the Mitfords of Mitford (but not the Mitfords of Seghill, my ancestors, from which this Christian springs) in the late 18C, no doubt resulting from a fortunate marriage with the Osbaldeston family. There is a private chapel for the use of the Mitfords. Apart from Mitfords and Osbaldeston-Mitfords, the gravestones also record some members of the old Northumberland Fenwick family.
The present very handsome Mitford Hall, built in 1828 by John Dobson, stands 1/3 mile to the west of the village, on the north bank of the river. However, the “old manor house” where Mitford Laidman was christened in 1711 and John Laidman in 1722, is now mostly in ruins. It stands south-west of the church, and seems to be largely of 16C date. The tower is the main surviving feature, with an arched doorway surmounted by an ornate entablature with an armorial panel dated 1637.
The Laidmans seem to have been very proud indeed of their Mitford connection. Mitford is used as a Christian name for several generations of Laidmans; in fact a William Mitford Laidman was born as recently as 1931. One wonders if he was aware of the origin of his strange given name...
Birth1680, Whickham, DUR
Baptism10 Jan 1680/1681, Woodhorn, NBL
Death28 Sep 1745, Whalton, NBL
Burial1 Oct 1745, Whalton, NBL
Burial MemoSt Mary Magdalen
Born in the reign of Charles II, John Laidman was educated at Sedbergh school (under Mr Posthumus Wharton, 1674-1706) and was admitted to St. John's College, Cambridge on 1 May 1699 aged 17 where his tutor was Mr Orchard. He matriculated in 1699 and was a BA 1702/3 and an MA in 1706. He was ordained a deacon on September 13 1703 and a priest on 8 June 1707. He was curate of Woodhorne 1709-1711, curate of Mitford 1711-12 and curate of Whalton in 1716 (the Rector of Whalton at this time was Matthew Forster). According to the Fawcett Index (a handwritten card index at the Society of Genealogists), he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Mercers Lectureship at Hexham in 1717 (see below). On 21 February 1723/4 he became Rector of Whalton until his death in 1745 (the year of the Jacobite rebellion), where he was buried (John Laidman 1723, p.mort. Forster.--Cha.Stoddart, A.M. 1748 p. mort. Laidman.)
The Diary of Rev. John Thomlinson (1692-1761) mentions: 1717. Nov. 16th. .... Mr. Lademan and Mr. Cowlin, having both recommendations from the town of Hexam, the Company of Mercers whose gift the lecturer’s place was in, said that to return either of them, must disoblige a great part of the town, and therefore they would send a third to whom they thought the town could find no exception. (footnote: Mr. George Ritschell, the younger, lecturer (and also perpetual curate) of Hexham, died in 1717, when Mr. Thomas Andrewes of Queen’s College, Oxford, was appointed by the Mercers Company lecturer in his room. His competitors were the Rev. John Laidman ... and the Rev. Cowling...)
Whalton (meaning: ‘the homestead on an arched hill’) is about eight miles south-east of Hartburn. It is a pretty village, originally consisting of bastle houses designed to withstand attack by the Scots or border reivers. These have disappeared in favour of a wide, tree-lined street with a pleasant grass bank to the north, where stand a number of surprisingly large houses, whilst to the south the cottage gardens lend colour to a delightful scene. The view from the church is wonderful, overlooking miles of open plain. The church itself contains a good deal of 13C work, while the tower is Norman, though rather spoiled by a neo-gothic top. There is, alas, no monument to John Laidman, nor to his wife Christian Mitford. This is all the more disappointing in view of his long tenure, although John is correctly listed on a board in the church naming all the rectors of Whalton.
See under the record of Laidman Green the transcript of a Bill of Complaint by John Green and his brother Laidman Green, against their uncle Revd. John Laidman et al. concerning the Will of their grandfather Christopher Laidman [J1037].
John himself seems to have been particularly litigious: he issued a bill of complaint against his parents in law over the Will of Sir William Blackett (doc. no. 490) and there are other family squabbles extant in the National Archives.
John Laidman's will, dated 28 September 1745 reads thus:
"This is the last Will and Testament of the Rev. John Laidman Rector of Whalton in the County of Northumberland / being of sound and disposing memory / First I give and devise to my son William Laidman the clock that stands in the Hall made by Thomas Lodge I also give to my son Francis Laidman the Gold watch his late mothers and to my Daughter Christian Laidman my [...] or wrought bed and as to all the rest and residue of my Estate and Effects of what nature or kind soever I give and devise the same to my Sons William and Francis Laidman upon these special trusts and Confident that [...] say that they (after my funeral expenses) shall out of the Residue if any therebe raisd out of the sale of such Effects the Sum of Twenty pounds and give and pay the Same to my youngest son John Laidman within Six Months after my decease and out of what shall remain of my said Effects after such payment to my said son John shall pay to my Daughter Catherine Laidman Five pounds in Manner Following that is to say the sum of Twenty Shillings yearly till the same is paid and also that my executors hereafter named shall further out of my said Effects if any shall yet remain after such payments as are above mentioned raise the Further sum of Twenty pounds and give and pay the same to my Daughter Christian Laidman within Six Months after my decease and my will and mind is that my said Executors shall weekly pay to my son Midford Laidman now in Morpeth jail the sum of two shillings and sixpence during the time of his Confinement And I do hereby constitute and appoint my said sons William and Francis Laidman joynt Executors of this my Will hereby revoking all others by me at any time made In Witness whereof I have to this my last Will and Testament set my hand and seal this Twenty Eighth Day of September in the year of our Lord 1745
Signed Sealed and Delivered)
in the presence of us ) John Laidman
Thomas Shephard )
John Ward (Registred)"
Although John was only 65 when he died, his signature is that of an old man: being a priest, the shakiness cannot be attributed to illiteracy.
Marriage1 Oct 1707, Stannington, NBL
Marr MemoThe rector of Stannington in 1707 was John Teasdale
William , 2546, L1010 (bp. 1710-1782)
Francis , 2544, L1012 (ca1716-1796)
Julia , 2547, L1015 (1721-1721)
John , 2693, L1944 (1722-)