Friday, 17 June 2011

Ralph Todner 1738-1780 and Mary Dunn 1738-1828

Ralph Todner was born at Ninriding Moore, in the parish of Mitford, Northumberland, England in 1738, and was baptised at St Mary Magdalene Church in Mitford on 29 March 1738. He was the youngest of six children.

By the age of 20, Ralph had moved to Woodhead, in the parish of Longframlington, Northumberland, and was working as a coal miner.

On 11 July 1758, Ralph married Mary Dunn at St Mary the Virgin Church, Longframlington. Years later Bracey Robson Wilson reported that at the wedding "there were nearly a hundred guests, and that the celebrated Jemmy Allen, the Duke of Northumberland's piper played at the merrymaking."

Mary was born in Woodhead in 1738 (baptised 9 July 1738 at Longframlington).

Following their marriage the couple lived at Woodhead for a couple of years, then slowly moved south as Ralph worked at a succession of coal mines. Their moves can be tracked through the births of their children:

Jane, 1759, born at Woodhead, Longframlington
William, 1761, born at Long Witton Cleugh, Hartburn, Northumberland
Mary, 1764, born at Wylam, Ovingham, Northumberland
Patience, 1767, born at Chartershaugh, Chester-le-Street, Co Durham,
Prudence, 1770, born at Chartershaugh
Ann, 1773, born at North Biddick, Washington, Co Durham,
Ralph, 1775, born at North Biddick
Isabella, 1778, born at North Biddick

By 1778, Ralph was no longer working as a coal miner - he was now a ferryman, ferrying people across the river Wear between North and South Biddick. It's not clear if he stopped coal mining when he left Chartershaugh or if the change in jobs happened later. It's also not clear why he changed jobs - I suspect that ferryman at Biddick didn't pay anything like as well as coal miner. Perhaps he'd been injured working underground?

This possible injury may also explain his early death. Ralph died in September 1780 at the age of 42, and was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Washington. A couple of years later, Mary remarried, this time to William Read. Following his death Mary continued to live in North Biddick, becoming a celebrated innkeeper (according to Bracey Robson Wilson).

Mary eventually died in June 1828, at High Felling in Jarrow parish, and was buried at Washington.

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