My ancestor Robert Pearson spent much of his life living on his farm in the parish of Kirkland near Penrith, Cumberland, at the base of Cross Fell, the highest peak in the north Pennies. The area is renowned for thick fogs and the Helm Wind, which makes a shrieking noise and is the only named wind in England. Thanks to Google street view, I did a virtual tour of Kirkland and I suspect the area has changed little in hundreds of years. The church appears to be in a field in the middle of no-where and there are a few old farm houses in nearby. It looks like something out of Wuthering Heights. But was Robert Pearson’s life lonely and remote? I think not. He had 13 children.
Robert Pearson was born about 1766, possibly the son of William Pearson and Sarah Monkhouse who was baptised 24 August 1766 at St Michael’s Appleby in Westmoreland. I need to do more research to confirm this. There are several other possible Robert Pearson’s baptised in the area around that time.
My first certain record of Robert is his marriage to Anne Blenkinsop*on 9 August 1793, in the parish of Kirkland near Penrith in what was then Cumberland. Their first child, John was born early in 1796 and their last child, my ancestor Jane, was born in 1821. They had five sons and eight daughters. At least one of the daughters died young, I am not sure about what happened to many of the others; Pearson is a common name and so challenging to research. Most of the children had common given names too, including an Eliza and an Elizabeth, both living with their parents in 1841. One daughter had a less common name, Tamar, which might be a helpful clue for further research. A John Pearson married Tamar Braithwait in 1724, in Kirkland. Also of interested ins their daughter Frances, as this name was passed down the family, as can be seen from the lineage outlined below.
As mentioned, Robert was a farmer. On his death certificate he was described as a Yeoman, which suggests he owned land rather than leased it. I don’t know what he farmed but his third son, Joseph Pearson, seems to have inherited the farm. The 1851 and 1861 censuses say that Joseph was a farmer of 57 acres.
By 1841, Robert Pearson and Ann seem to have retired to Newbiggin, near Dacre, on the other side of Penrith to Kirkland, although the census still lists him as a farmer. Just to complicate matters, Newbiggin is also the name of a Westmorland parish next to Kirkland. There are several Newbiggin’s in the area, so it is necessary to be extra careful to make sure I am researching in the right location.
Robert Pearson died 11 December 1845 of natural decay. His age was given as 80, so my guess is that natural decay is another term for old age.
Robert left a will, but I have not yet obtained a copy of it. Maybe it will fill in some gaps. Researching this family is certainly a challenge given the common names.
*or Blenkinship. There are a lot of variant spellings for this surname.
Notes on lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Frances Ruth Akeroyd > Percy Tomlinson Akeroyd > Frances Elizabeth Tomlinson > Jane Pearson > Robert Pearson