Ref NoNRO 06069
DescriptionThis collection derives from material collected by several generations of the Hedley family who latterly resided at Whitelee Farm. The papers cover a period from the later eighteenth century to just after the Second World War. The family always resided in Redesdale and were connected to branches of the family resident at Bewshaugh Farm in the north Tyne Valley and at Overacres, a farm situated in the Rede Valley between Otterburn and Elsdon. The oldest papers in the collection are receipts for rent paid for the farm of Monkridge. This farm was part of the Orde of Nunnykirk Estate (see NRO 1356 for papers relating to this estate) and was located in the Monkridge Ward of Elsdon parish. This collection was brought together by Mrs. Vivian Fray. Mrs. Fray helped the last members of the family with the administration of their farming business and collected the papers on the instruction of the family solicitor. From Monkridge the family appear to have expanded their farming interests to include a number of other farms in the Rede Valley. The full extent of their business is described in the diaries of 1915 and 1916 (NRO 6069/1/8-9) and shows that the Hedleys rented over 10,000 acres of land that were managed from Whitelee. Some of the farms, for example Hole Mill and Birdhope, were passed to shepherds to run on their own account as part of their wages for working on Whitelee and the other larger farms of Monkridge and Cottonshope. In due course, the Hedleys were able to purchase some of the smaller farms and these were later sold as part of the dismemberment of the family enterprise in the later 20th century.Identification of the family members before the mid 19th century is problematic. The diary of 1866-1867 (NRO 6069/1/1) was the property of George Hedley (1833-1926) who established the family at Whitelee. This was the last farm in England before crossing the border with Scotland at Carter Bar and was over 4000 acres in size. George had two sons, Robert and Joseph. Robert (1867-1951) succeeded his father at Whitelee. With his wife, Mary (1880-1972) he conducted the business and had two children, George Cecil (1910-1995) and Elizabeth (died 1999). Neither married. On the death of George Cecil (known as Cecil) the tenancy of Whitelee was relinquished and his sister spent the remaining years of her life at the farm of Braidhaugh situated near Bonchester Bridge in Roxburghshire, Scotland. Whitelee, throughout its occupation by the Hedleys, was owned by the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company and was purchased by other companies when they in turn bought the Water Company. In 1999, the farm was put on the open market. The largest part, Whitelee Moor, an acre of over 1500 hectares, was purchased by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, with the aid of a lottery grant, and has become a nature reserve. The Percy Hedley collection (NRO 542) contains pedigrees and genealogical notes relating to the Hedley family. This introduction was supplied by Dr. Ian Roberts.
RepositoryNorthumberland Archives
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