Newmains – Ancestry of a Village

On a recent visit to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland I spotted this poster in the Maritime Heritage Centre.

It’s an ambitious project that aims to trace the ancestry of every person who has lived in the village. The Maritime Centre is a great wee museum tells the story of the village and how the people made their living from the sea. There are some great photos of the area as it was and of the people who lived there.

Newmains, the village which features most heavily in my family tree, can’t boast of a coastal location but it does have an interesting history. It became home to many immigrants seeking a better life during and after the Great Famine in Ireland. Many of the descendants of these immigrants are still in the village and local area today and many will be unaware of their Irish roots.

The Irish in my family comes mainly from my mother’s side. Go back a couple of generations and her family were all in Ireland. They came from various counties and I now have a big list of towns and villages in Ireland I would very much like to visit.

The men from these immigrant families found work mainly at the Coltness Ironworks. Their homes were mainly provided by their employers and, even by the standards of the day, they were poor.

The parish of St Brigid in Newmains was founded in 1896 and the records from the early years list the baptisms, marriages and deaths of so many family members. If you click on the link to the parish website you can find the details of these records. You can also find more about the history of the parish.

My grandfather was Hugh Brawley. He was born in Newmains in 1899. He was one of 12 children. His father, Daniel was one of 10 as was his mother, Ellen Keenan.

My granny, Catherine Cosgrove was the only child of Patrick Cosgrove but she grew up with step and half siblings.

Through these families I am linked to so many others in Newmains by blood and by marriage. Here are a few that locals might recognise.

  • Brawley
  • Keenan
  • Cosgrove
  • Burns
  • Smith
  • Wright
  • Mullervy
  • Cooper
  • Keegan
  • Reynolds
  • Mulvey
  • McAdam
  • Darragh
  • O’Donnell
  • Coyle
  • Bradley
  • Monaghan
  • Brown
  • Higgins
  • Collins
  • Hunstone
  • Hagan
  • Hendry
  • Devlin
  • Armit
  • Russell
  • Lockie

A Newmains genealogy project would be a massive undertaking but I would like to know if anyone has any photos or stories of their Newmains Irish immigrant families that they would like to share.

4 thoughts on “Newmains – Ancestry of a Village

  1. Hi Paula,
    I have just come across some more of your research and must say I am impressed by how much information you have found and how well you have recorded and coordinated it.
    Having just read the report you published referring to the fight between Patrick Cosgrove and Edward Cooper, I thought you might be interested to know that Edward Cooper and Agnes Sweeney are my great grandparents. I also research my family tree and was quite delighted to read your information.
    I would be happy to share any info I have that might be of any use to you.
    Kind Regards
    Maureen Walker


    • Hi Maureen and thanks for reading my blog. I haven’t really researched Agnes and Edward’s children even though they were a big part of my granny’s life so I would like to know more. Likewise I’m more than happy to share any of my research.
      The newspaper clip was a real surprise as Edward as always been described to me as a real gentleman. I guess we’ll never know what went on that day.


      • Hi Paula,
        Good to hear from you. Interestingly, my sources did not speak so highly of Edward. I suppose conflicting information, especially word of mouth, is part of this type of research.
        From memory, I think Edward had three children with Agnes Sweeney his first wife : Edward, Brigid, Sarah( my grandmother) and then your great grandmother and he had two children: Arthur and Mary..
        I have been working on the life of Agnes Sweeney recently and have been able to find info in various certificates and census reports.


      • Hello again
        My source is my mother. I suppose she only knew him as an old man so maybe he had mellowed. She was certainly surprised by the newspaper report. I’d love to hear more about your research. Maybe better by email –
        If you haven’t read it already I did a blog post about Bernard Mulvey. He’s from your side of the family. A really sad story.
        I look forward to hearing from you again


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