Category Archives: Durham

Georgi(a)na HARRISON – my first brick wall

My 2 x great grandmother was Georgi(a)na HARRISON. Her marriage to Thomas BRANNAN was registered in Gateshead in the first quarter of 1884, and her father’s name was George.

Across all censuses post-marriage, her husband varies her age and birthplace slightly each time:

1891 –  Georgina (surname transcribed as BRENNON), aged 26, Georgina’s birthplace given as Surrey, London; Class: RG12; Piece: 4182; Folio 109; Page 22

1901 – Georgiana BRENNAN, age 35, birthplace given as Golwell, London*; Class: RG13; Piece: 4759; Folio: 10; Page: 11

1911 – Georgenia BRENNAN, age 46, birthplace given as simply London; Class: RG14; Piece: 29538

* There is a GOSWELL Road in London

Looking at FreeBMD, there are four births between 1860-70 across all Home Counties (I think, I included Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, London, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Surrey) that might be her:

Sept 1861
HARRISON Georgina  St James Westminster 1a 327

Jun 1867
HARRISON Georgiana Ethel Kingston 2a 231
Harrison Georgina Ethel Kingston 2a 231

Jun 1868
HARRISON Georgina St. Luke 1b 698

Sep 1869
Harrison Georgiana Agnes Guildford 2a 58

There’s a postem against the Jun 1868 birth saying that one married another man in 1888 so I’m inclined to discount that one.

I have today e-mailed all concerned register offices to see if they will tell me if any of the above births were to a father named George.


Thomas BRENNAN was born in about 1863 in Sunderland, Durham, the son of Peter and Ann (née WRIGHTSON).

On the 1871 Census, Thomas was living at 37 High Southwick with his parents, older sisters Margaret, Maria and Ann, and younger brothers Robert and Peter.

By 1881, Thomas’s father has died, and Ann, Thomas, Robert and Peter have moved to 11 Double Row in Hylton, Durham.

Thomas married Georgi(a)na HARRISON in Gateshead in 1884.

Gateshead, Durham

This is a map of the location of Newcastle and Gateshead. This post was inspired by a comment from a friend of a second cousin of mine in Canada who assumed that our great grandfather, David Harrison BRENNAN, was a Geordie because he came from Gateshead.

*I* thought that only people from Newcastle were classed as Geordies – so I did some Googling and it appears I am wrong!

Gateshead’s Wikipedia entry states that “the town of Gateshead is situated in the North East of England in the ceremonial county of Tyne and Wear, and within the historic boundaries of County Durham. It is located on the southern bank of the River Tyne at a latitude of 54.57° N and a longitude of 1.35° W. Gateshead experiences a temperate climate which is considerably warmer than some other locations at similar latitudes as a result of the warming influence of the Gulf Stream (via the North Atlantic drift). It is located in the rain shadow of the North Pennines and is therefore in one of the driest regions of the United Kingdom.”

“One of the most distinguishing features of Gateshead is its topography. The land rises 230 feet from Gateshead Quays to the town centre and continues rising to a height of 525 feet at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Sheriff Hill.This is in contrast to the flat and low lying Team Valley located on the western edges of town. The high elevations allow for impressive views over the Tyne valley into Newcastle and across Tyneside to Sunderland and the North Sea from lookouts in Windmill Hills and Windy Nook respectively.”

“The Office for National Statistics defines the town as an urban sub-division which largely shares the same boundaries as the historic pre-1974 County Borough of Gateshead.However, the administrative divisions of the larger Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead do not correspond to these borders, meaning the town is almost entirely indistinguishable from surrounding areas in regards to local governance.”

“Unofficially speaking, the town of Gateshead typically refers to the urban area directly to the south of Newcastle City Centre as well as various surrounding suburbs. Felling, Heworth, Pelaw and Bill Quay, in a separate ONS urban sub-division and not part of the historical County Borough, are sometimes considered to be within the town of Gateshead due to their closeness to the town centre and because they are in the same contiguous urban area.”

“Given the proximity of Gateshead to Newcastle, just south of the River Tyne from the city centre, it is sometimes referred to as being a part of Newcastle. Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council teamed up in 2000 to create a unified marketing brand name, NewcastleGateshead, to better promote the Tyneside conurbation. When outside the North East of England a resident of Gateshead would most likely say they are from Newcastle, as it is largest and most recognised city in the region. Within the North East however, they would usually state that they live in Gateshead or more specifically give their neighbourhood within the town, such as Deckham or Dunston, for example.”

David Harrison BRENNAN

David was one of my great-grandfathers. He was born on 30 July 1892 and baptised three and a half weeks later in Gateshead, Durham, to Thomas and Georgiana (née Harrison).

At the time the 1901 census was taken, overnight between March 31/April 1, the 8 year old David was living in Gateshead with his parents and siblings – Thomas W (14), Sarah A (10), William S (5), Robert (3) and 2yo John.

By 1911 (the census having been taken on Sunday 2 April), the family had moved to 11 Oakland Gardens, Harrowgate, and had been enlarged by another 3 children – George aged 8, 6 year old Georgina and Violet (3).

David signed up to join the British Army in October 1915, enlisting in the Royal Engineers – he again gave his home address as 11 Oakland Gardens.

Shortly after joining up, he married Janet Conway, who had already fallen pregnant with their eldest daughter! The marriage was registered in Darlington in the first quarter of 1916; and they went on to have another 3 daughters, among them my paternal grandmother. David died in 1981 in Sheffield, almost 3 weeks after his 89th birthday.