05 October 2011

BIFHSGO October Meeting: The Watsons of Weardale

The next BIFHSGO monthly meeting feature presentation, this Saturday October 8, 2011 in the Library and Archives Canada Auditorium is:

The Watsons of Weardale
by Brian Watson

The Watsons were, like their neighbours, poor yeomen who eked out a
living in the Wear Valley west of the city of Durham in northeast England.
They supplemented their farming income through lead-mining. The lead mines and most of the land were owned by the powerful Lord Bishop of Durham. However, in 1689 George Watson acquired a freehold property from the bishop. Weardale was one of the earliest centres of Methodism in England and the Watsons often hosted John Wesley, the founder of Methodism and built one of the first Methodist chapels. In 2010, Brian Watson visited Weardale and found that the ancestral house was still occupied. Using 18th and 19th century documents, as well as historical fiction of the era, Brian will describe the life led by his ancestors and the reasons for mass emigration from Weardale to the New World at the beginning of the 19th century. Brian’s branch arrived in what is now Oakville, Ontario around 1833.

Brian Watson grew up in Toronto and obtained a B.A. in history from the
University of Toronto and an M.A. in international relations from the
University of Sussex. He joined the Canadian foreign service in 1967 and
served in Ottawa and in Peru, Cameroon, Australia, the USA and New
Zealand. Since retirement, he has worked as volunteer interpreter at the
Museum of Civilization and the War Museum and for Oxfam Canada. He
has served as the Co-Chair of the annual BIFHSGO conference for the last
two years. In June, he participated in Great Moments with a talk about
Nicholas Watson, the founder of the family’s American branch.

The main meeting starts at 10am, but come at 9am to hear Elizabeth Kipp speak on the Guild of One Name Studies. Elizabeth writes on her English Research from Canada blog that she will "give a good overview of the Guild and the value to you of membership in the Guild and the opportunity to showcase your one name study if you have undertaken one. They tend to grow whilst you are busy collecting and particularly with rare names you have a sizeable one name study and become somewhat the expert on that surname."

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