NameWilliam LAIDMAN, 3495, O1153
Baptism19 Jan 1817, Lucker, NBL
Death12 Oct 1888, Streetgate, DUR
Occupation1881: Railway labourer; 1889: Innkeeper
FatherThomas LAIDMAN , 3472, N1005 (1784-1854)
MotherJane FRASER , 3473 (1781-)
Misc. Notes
1881 census return: RG11/4985 folio 99 page 5
Street Gate, Lamesley, Durham
William Laidman, head, married, 64, Railway Lab. born Lucker, Northumberland
Catherine Laidman, wife, married, 57, Railway Lab Wife, born Streetgate, Durham
Ralph Archbo, nephew, 5, scholar, born Dunston, Durham

1881-1888: Lamesley, Durham. Railway labourer

1889 LAIDMAN William 11 April Personal Estate £90
Administration (with the Will) of the Personal Estate of William Laidman late of Streetgate in the Parish of Lamesley in the County of Durham Innkeeper who died 11 October 1888 at Streetgate was granted at Durham to Ralph Teasdale Swinburn of Whickham in the said County Railway Clerk one of the Executors of the Will of Catherine Laidman Widow the Relict the sole Executrix and Residuary Legatee.

William was the innkeeper at the time of the Streetgate murder in 1865, reported thus:

The Streetgate Murder

The annual flower show had just been successfully held in the midst of that rich scenery which is so characteristic of the Ravensworth estate and much more so in the month of August 1865. After the show a dance was held in the Granby Arms, pictured above and now known as the ‘Marquis of Granby’, after John Manners 1721 – 1770 a hero of the ‘Seven Year War’.

In right good style the lads and lasses of Streetgate and from the neighbouring villages were stepping out to the music of the band, and even the hanging oil lamps were swaying to this joyous rhythm. All who have witnessed a country dance in a lighted marquee, with the rays of light playing on the greens outside, as if wishing to join in the merriment, have seen one of the most picturesque sights of rural life.

This marquee ball at Streetgate came up to the above description, and according to those few living who were present, all went merry as a marriage bell. Little did they think that not only would this be their last flower show dance at Streetgate, but that before the dawn of another day one more soul from their midst would have "sped its flight".

While these dancers were engaging themselves to the full, loud discordant notes were heard coming from the kitchen of the "Marquis of Granby", to the annoyance of the much respected innkeeper, William Laidman, after whom this inn was locally known as "Bill of the Bank". Here a group of men, no doubt all fired with drink, were seen engaged in a fierce quarrel, and loud and angry threats were overheard, the worst being against 47 years old Joseph Leybourne a farm worker at Fen House Marley Hill. He and his wife Catherine had come to live at Streetgate from Winlaton in 1848, they had two daughters and one son. It is believed that this fierce quarrel originated over Leybourne taking the part of a young farm servant from Hexham named Nixon against a notorious character, and wandering cobbler called Jack Bee. It is also believed that among this gang of drunken brawlers there were some of the men servants engaged as outside hands at Ravensworth Castle.

This deadly feud continued until closing time, which seems to have been extended on this occasion of the show, for, according to the evidence given by the woman who lived next door to the inn, they came out about two on the Tuesday morning uttering loud threats and curses. A savage voice was heard above them all, swearing that he would do for Leybourne, that he would "knock his soul out", but unfortunately this voice of "Cain" was not recognised. This witness, scenting danger, called all those belonging to her into the house, closing the upstairs window, and soon the noisy voices died away as this murderous gang made up the hill in the direction of Sunniside. Out into the dark on this lonely country road full scope was given for the blackest of deeds.

The dance was now over and most of the people had gone or were going home, and, according to village information one of the latest to come up the hill was a most respected villager named George Mudd. He was accompanied by some other men, and carried a lamp in his hand. They had not gone far up the hill before one of the men called his attention to a man sitting on a stone and propped up against the hedge on the side of the road almost opposite the Union Inn, (it was opened in 1856 by Robert Stott and would be renamed the Rose Shamrock & Thistle in 1868).

Thinking he was in a drunken sleep they called out to him, but received no answer. The man with the lamp then went near to him, and shining his light was horrified to see the ghastly and blood-stained face of a dead man, who was at once recognised to be Joseph Leybourne. On his head were two wounds, as if inflicted with a very heavy instrument, and as the light shone round about, the stones were seen to be red with blood. Later it is said that a heavy, sharp stone was found in the field over the hedge, covered with blood and hair. These men with the lamp sought a kind of stretcher, and slowly and sadly they bore this poor bruised body to his home, which was close to the Rose, Shamrock & Thistle Inn. Wishing to break the news gently to his poor wife, they shouted in the door that Joe had been hurt, to which I was told she replied, by a kind of foreknowledge: "No, he has not been hurt; he is dead". This was on Tuesday morning, August 29th the flower show having been held on the Monday before. Now arose the question, who did this brutal deed? which question still remains unanswered.

At the adjourned inquest, a report of which appeared in the 'Newcastle Daily Chronicle' on Friday, September 22nd, 1865, a verdict of 'wilful murder' was returned against some person or persons unknown. A treasured copy of this paper I found in the possession of an old resident whom it was a real pleasure to meet, Mr. Robert Young, whose house at Sunniside bears the curious name of "Penefine", (probably now known as Pennyfine).

The local Policeman of that day, Miles Robinson, known all round as "Miley", assisted by other members of the force and particularly Police Superintendent Squire, scoured the countryside for evidence against any person or persons sufficient to bring to a trial, but in vain. Several were examined and a few suspected, and it is even said that had it not been for the good character borne by Mr .Mudd, some of those men who were with him when the body was discovered would have been gravely suspected. Also I came across more than one old resident in this beautiful district of wood and field who maintained that some of the gardeners from the Castle were not above suspicion.

Lord Ravensworth, himself a Justice of the Peace was stirred to indignation at this horrible deed taking place on his estate and to clear the Castle (pictured above), from the stain of harbouring anyone suspected, he is said to have dismissed every one of his men servants who were present at the "Granby Arms" on that fatal night. At the same time he gave instructions that no more flower shows were to be held at Streetgate at least not in his time and with his permission.

A black cloud also hung for some long period over this picturesque inn, and many who used to frequent the "Marquis" and to enjoy the company of the landlord were afraid to go near for fear that they should be among the suspected. According to the local tradition the most suspected person seems to have been Bee, who has long since gone to his last account, though the evidence was not strong enough to bring him to trial. It is said that shortly before his death, he was heard in a public-house to say that though he was not the man who killed Leybourne, yet he knew the one who struck the blow. At the same time he swore that he would never reveal the name and if he was possessed with the burden of such a secret, he carried it with him into the "land of shades".

However, there are those living who knew Bee and refuse to believe that he was the man, and more than one who knew him told me that, though a rolling stone, hard to knock against, yet he was not without his good points, one of which was to stand up for the weak against the strong. Though this may be quite true, as all men have some good point about them, he seems to have been a character of somewhat bad repute, and he is still remembered as a tall, muscular, swashbuckler kind of character. He was quite notorious in his way, being a Cumberland man of no certain abode, who varied his cobbling with what is locally known as "bull walloping".

For my part after hearing the different accounts of this murder, I incline to think that he had a hand in the death of Leybourne, if he was not the actual murderer. This opinion was greatly strengthened on being told by one of my informants who clearly remembers the murder, that very early on the morning of the day the murdered man was found, Bee had a secret interview with each member of that rowdy gang who certainly led this poor man out to his death. Why did he do this but to warn and threaten? A man who was shrewd enough to do this and so strike terror into the hearts of these men, was likely to be one who, in that day especially, would be able to evade the law.

So ends this sad history of another undiscovered murder, which with the exception of the evidence given at the inquest, and reported in the 'Newcastle Daily Chronicle', is built up of scraps of information gathered from the old people of this district. In a word it is really their story retold, and even if not true in every detail is an honest attempt to peep into a bit of the dark past. It is stated in a further article, that Jack Bee did stand trial for the murder of Leybourne and was aquitted. In that same article, it is alleged that it was the owner of the Pub who was heard to shout, that he would 'do' for Leybourne and knock his soul out.

The writer of this article is unknown.

In recent years it has been suggested that the ghost of poor Joseph Leybourne walks the rooms of the Marquis of Granby.


The Marquis of Granby

The Marquis of Granby Public house is situated on Streetgate, Sunniside in the county of Tyne and Wear. The building is on the route of one of the first wagon-ways built around 1710 and may have been used for resting and watering of the horses.

The first tenant of the public house, The Marquis of Granby, we have been able to trace was Mrs. Margaret Pyle in 1861. In the year 1865 we know that the landlord was one William Laidman, locally known as 'Bill of the Bank'. The next tenants we are able to trace are Thomas Gray Thirlaway of Union Cottage, Sunniside and his brother Robert. The two brothers were left the property in a will but we are unable to be certain of the date or the benefactor.

The pub was purchased in April 1902 by Newcastle Breweries Ltd., and was rebuilt between 1903 and 1905 at a cost of £1908. The tenants since that date have been:-
Thomas Routledge May 1906
James Heanne Feb 1910
Chas Wm Esson April 1915
Jas Wm Redhead Feb 1934
Harold Burn Hall May 1936
Arthur Dixon Scorer Feb 1938
William Joseph Hocking Sep 1955
William Montgomerie Aug 1956
Malcolm Henry Frederick O'Shea Aug 1966
John Bingham Patterson June 1969
Mary Barton Aug 1970
Cecil A Bell July 1977
Ola Bell (his wife) Oct 1979
John Gray April 1981
Peter Weatherby Dec 1982

It was during the tenancy of the Scorer family that the first known sighting of the ghost occurred. It was young Arthur and his elder brother who witnessed the event one night in their bedroom. Since that time each succeeding tenant has experienced possible sightings and strange occurrences. It is believed to be the image of an elderly woman and whether or not there is any connection with the murder that took place in 1865, we are unable to say.
Birth1823, Streetgate, DUR
Death14 Feb 1889, Streetgate, DUR
Misc. Notes
1881 census return: RG11/4985 folio 99 page 5
Street Gate, Lamesley, Durham
William Laidman, head, married, 64, Railway Lab. born Lucker, Northumberland
Catherine Laidman, wife, married, 57, Railway Lab Wife, born Streetgate, Durham
Ralph Archbo, nephew, 5, scholar, born Dunston, Durham

1881-1889: Lamesley, Durham

1889 LAIDMAN Catherine 21 March Personal Estate £259.14s.8d.
The Will of Catherine Laidman late of Streetgate in the Parish of Lamesley in the County of Durham Widow who died 14 February 1889 at Streetgate was proved at Durham by Robert Swinburn of Spoon Street Dunston in the said County Engine Fitter and Ralph Teasdale Swinburn of Whickham in the said County Railway Clerk the Nephews the Executors.
Marriage29 Nov 1846, Gateshead, DUR
Last Modified 16 Jan 2009Created 3 Jun 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh