Another of my hobbies is genealogy - though it's quite a while since I did any proper research I must admit! As this week seems to have disappeared in a heat haze and I've done nothing to report, I thought I'd share one of the stories from my family history.
My family are mainly from Northumberland on the north east coast of England and for generations they were part of the fishing community of the village on Newbiggin by the Sea.
One of my sets of Great Great Great Grandparents were John and Elizabeth Armstrong, between about 1835 and 1852 they had nine children.
Fishing in those days was hazardous, the small boats they fished from were known as cobles and usually owned by a family, or extended family. The menfolk rowed out and did the fishing, the women cleaned and fixed the nets, helped pull the boats onto the shore, sorted and cleaned the fish then went around the streets of the village and neighbouring villages to sell them. They wore baskets on their backs known as creels, and if they didn't make enough for a ride back on the train then they walked, sometimes several miles. From the photos I've seen, it looked like a very hard life.
This particular family had more than it's fair share of sadness. In 1864 their son John and his wife Ellen (my Great Great Grandparents) died within a few days of each other leaving my Great Grandfather (also John) orphaned at only one year old.
In December 1883 John and Elizabeth's second eldest son, Edward was lost at sea.
In December 1904 three more of the family were drowned - sons George and James, and their grandson Edward, who was George's son. They died during an attempt to rescue the crew of the ship "Anglia" which had run into trouble in Newbiggin bay. Altogether seven fishermen drowned. Of the eight fishermen who had rowed out in the coble "Henry and Jane" (shown left - well it would be if Blogger would let me load my pictures!) to try and help the crew of stricken ship only John Armstrong survived - he was the only one of them who could swim and was another of George's sons.
The fishermen had a long tradition of not learning to swim as they thought it would only prolong their suffering if they were thrown overboard, they preferred to think that death would come quickly.