Edith (Dixon) Timmins stated that her mother Jessie (Wilson) Dixon was born in the Burnopfield area of County Durham but was later brought up at Canonbie and Lockerbie in Dumfriesshire. This is supported by the 1891 census returns for Canonbie, where Jessie Wilson, aged ten, born in England, is shown as a granddaughter of Thomas Wilson.[1] A copy in my possession of William Smith’s First Latin Course[2] is inscribed on the flyleaf with the name Jessie Wilson and the location Canonbie and on the title page with the name Jessie Wilson, “Langholm P. School” and the date September 1892.


Confirmation that the Wilsons of Tanfield and those of Canonbie were the same family is provided by the records mentioned below in relation to the marriage of Jessie Wilson (daughter of Thomas) to George Harrison.


One possible baptism of John Wilson, the husband of Margaret Thomson, was at Canonbie on 15 June 1766, when John, son of Thomas Wilson and Margaret Henderson, was baptised.[3] There was also a John, son of John Wilson and Marion Glasgow, baptised at Canonbie in 1769.[4]


It appears from the baptism record of John Wilson and the marriage records of his parents Thomas Wilson and Dorothy that Dorothy’s surname was Goodfellow. However, the statutory death record of Thomas Wilson from 1891 gives his first wife’s name as “Dorathy Elliot”.[5] This matches the burial of a Dorathy Elliot on 19 October 1842 aged 33, when her residence was given as Mumby. The birthplace in Canonbie of John Wilson and the residence of Thomas, Dorothy and John in 1841 was Mumbyhirst. It seems implausible that there were two different Thomas Wilson and Dorothy couples who would match so closely without appearing separately in the records. It therefore appears that Dorothy was sometimes known as Dorothy Goodfellow and sometimes as Dorothy Elliot.


A John Goodfellow married a Dorothy Elliot at Lanercost in the 1760s. This is too early to be the marriage of the parents of Dorothy, wife of Thomas Wilson, but there may be a connection of some kind. There are a few other references to Goodfellows in the area, which may be relevant.


From a monumental inscription at Canonbie, it appears that a William Scott married a Margaret Goodfellow, the latter dying 8 January 1857 aged 60.[6] Margaret’s death record gives her parents as John Goodfellow, a farmer, and Elizabeth Clementson, so it would appear that she was a daughter of the John Goodfellow and Elizabeth Clemitson married at Crosby on Eden in 1788.


A Dorothy Goodfellow was baptised at Raughtonhead, Cumberland, on 5 February 1817, daughter of Robert and Jane, but she was presumably the Dorothy living at Craggs in the parish of Westward at the time of the 1841 census and who was buried at Raughtonhead on 25 January 1847 when her residence was given as Craggs in Westward. Robert Goodfellow of Dalston and Jane Thompson were married at Raughtonhead in 1814.


A John Goodfellow and Mary Nieves were married in 1818 at Kirkbampton, the parish given as Dorothy’s residence when she married Thomas Wilson in 1839. A William Messenger and Bella/Isabella Goodfellow were married there in 1806. Their daughter, Dorothy Messenger, was baptized at Burgh by Sands in 1812. She married Joseph Wilson at Burgh by Sands in 1835 and her death on 29 July 1836 is reported in The Carlisle Journal of 6 August 1836. As a widower, Joseph Wilson was of Kirkbampton when he married Matilda Lawson at Wigton in 1837.


A possibility is that Dorothy, wife of Thomas Wilson, was the Dorothy, daughter of Susan Stephenson, who was baptised at Brampton on 22 December 1811. The reason for considering this is that a Susanna Stephenson married a John Goodfellow at Brampton in 1783 and the mother in the 1811 baptism entry may be the same person under her maiden name as a widow or, more likely chronologically, her daughter Susan Goodfellow, perhaps using her mother’s maiden name as an alias at the baptism of the illegitimate child. I have not yet seen the 1811 entry in the original register so there may be additional information in it. There was also a Dorothy, daughter of Susan Goodfellow, widow, buried at Brampton in 1808, and a William, son of Susan Goodfellow, baptised there in 1813, the latter suggesting that Susan Goodfellow did indeed have at least one illegitimate child. It is also worth observing that a Thomas, illegitimate son of Dorothy Goodfellow, spinster, was baptised at Brampton on 4 October 1833. Thomas Goodfellow is recorded at the workhouse at Brampton in the 1841 census returns (no other Goodfellows being there at the time). The mother may well be the Dorothy who married Thomas Wilson. The most obvious alternative is the Dorothy Goodfellow baptised at Raughton Head in 1817 who would probably have been only sixteen at the time and as far as is known was living with her family in the Raughton Head or Westward area, some distance away from Brampton. There was also a Dorothy Goodfellow of Scaleby who married a John Fergusson of Dearham at Gretna on 12 August 1834. However, she may have been the Dolly James who married Gideon Goodfellow in 1816 as a Gideon Goodfellow was buried at Scaleby on 9 May 1834.


If Thomas Wilson’s wife Dorothy did come from Brampton, then the surname Elliot sometimes given for her may be her father’s surname. There were certainly Elliots in the Brampton area in the relevant period.


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1     JOHN WILSON of Forgebraehead, Canonbie, Dumfriesshire, labourer, was born ca 1766 and died on 16 December 1845 at Canonbie.[7] He married on 28 September 1796 at Canonbie, MARGARET THOMSON.[8] Margaret was born ca 1771 at Half Morton[9] and died on 30 September 1853.[10]


         Children of John Wilson and Margaret Thomson:

                  i       ILIAN WILSON, b 28 July 1797.[11]

                  ii      MARGARET WILSON, b 17 July 1799, bap 28 July 1799, Canonbie.[12]

                  iii     HELEN WILSON, b 22 August 1804, bap 9 December 1804, Canonbie.[13]

         2       iv     THOMAS WILSON (ca 1812-1891);[14] m(1) DOROTHY GOODFELLOW; m(2) ELLEN SCOTT.

                  v      WILHELMINA WILSON, b ca 1816, Canonbie,[15] d 25 December 1893, Dumfries.[16]


2     THOMAS WILSON of Canonbie, husbandry labourer and drainer, was born ca 1812 at Canonbie[17] and died on 17 November 1891 at Canonbie.[18] He married first, on 22 September 1839 at Gretna, DOROTHY GOODFELLOW or ELLIOT.[19] Dorothy was born ca 1810 in England and buried on 19 October 1842 at Canonbie.[20] Thomas Wilson married second, ELLEN SCOTT,[21] daughter of James Scott and Ellen Irving.[22] Ellen Scott was born ca 1820 at Canonbie[23] and died on 17 December 1893 at Canonbie.[24]


         Child of Thomas Wilson and Dorothy Goodfellow:

         3       i        JOHN WILSON (1840-1888); m HANNAH McNEIL.


         Illegitimate child of Thomas Wilson and Janet Sinton:

                  ii       SARAH BELL WILSON, b 12 Aug 1844, bap 14 Sep 1845, Canonbie,[25] bur 29 Dec 1845, Canonbie.[26]


         Children of Thomas Wilson and Ellen Scott:

                  iii      HELEN WILSON, b 1850, Canonbie,[27] d 6 November 1916, Edinburgh;[28] m(1) 17 January 1868, Canonbie, GEORGE STORIE;[29] m(2) 19 March 1883, Edinburgh, JAMES WRIGHT.[30]

                  iv      MARGARET WILSON, b ca 1851, Canobie.[31]

                  v       JAMES WILSON, carpenter, b 28 April 1855, Canonbie,[32] d 12 Nov 1945, York Mills, Ontario; m CLARA ELIZABETH PARR.[33]

                  vi      JESSIE WILSON, b 5 May 1857, Canonbie;[34] m ca 1888, GEORGE HARRISON.[35]

                  vii     WILLIAM WILSON of Carlisle, Cumberland, joiner, b 5 July 1859, Canonbie;[36] m 29 December 1882, Canonbie, JANET LITTLE.[37]

                  viii    ELIZABETH WILSON, b 7 June 1862, Canonbie,[38] d 23 May 1863, Canonbie.[39]


3     JOHN WILSON of Tanfield, County Durham, cartman, was born on 12 November 1840 at Canonbie[40] and died on 28 December 1888 at Burnopfield.[41] He married on 26 August 1866 at Carlisle register office, HANNAH McNEIL,[42] daughter of John and Hannah (Sewell) McNeil of Liverpool, Lancashire (see here). Hannah McNeil was born in July 1841 at Liverpool and died on 24 October 1881 at Burnopfield.


         Children of John and Hannah (McNeil) Wilson:

                  i       THOMAS WILSON, b 6 June 1867, Blaydon, Durham,[43] d 12 December 1887.[44]

                  ii      JAMES WILSON, b 12 January 1869, Blaydon,[45] d in infancy.[46]

                  iii     JOHN WILSON of Whickham, Co. Durham, colliery labourer, b ca 1871, Tanfield,[47] d 9 March 1909;[48] m 6 Apr 1896, Sugley, MARY SMITH BEATTIE.[49]

                  iv      EDWARD WILSON, b 16 July 1873, Tanfield,[50] d in infancy.[51]

                  v      MARGARET WILSON, b 3 November 1874, Tanfield,[52] d 31 May 1959, Leeds.[53]

                  vi     WILLIAM WILSON, labourer, b 25 December 1876, Burnopfield,[54] d 22 November 1942, Darlington.[55]

                  vii     EDWIN WILSON, b 9 May 1879, Burnopfield,[56] bur 11 Feb 1880, Burnopfield.[57]

                  viii   JESSIE WILSON, b 30 December 1880, Tanfield,[58] d 18 November 1918, Wallsend-on-Tyne, Northumberland;[59] m 26 July 1911, Tynemouth register office, Northumberland, JOHN DIXON[60] (see here).

[1] 1891 census returns, Canonbie (General Register Office for Scotland [GROS], 814/00 009/00 004).

[2] William Smith, A First Latin Course, 34th ed. (London, 1892).

[3] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0010 0111).

[4] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0020 0010).

[5] The informant when Thomas Wilson’s death was registered was William Wilson, son of Thomas by his second wife Ellen Scott. The death was in fact registered by a Goodfellow. The registrar Alexander Goodfellow was a son of Thomas Goodfellow and Sybella Nichol, Thomas being a son of Alexander Goodfellow and Elizabeth Little.

[6] Scotland Monumental Inscriptions (online at www.findmypast.co.uk).

[7] Transcription of monumental inscription at Canonbie (online at www.findmypast.co.uk).

[8] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0020 0361).

[9] 1851 census returns, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 011/00 008).

[10] Transcription of monumental inscription at Canonbie (online at www.findmypast.co.uk); burial abstracts in England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers, 1800-2016 (online at www.ancestry.com). The MI transcription gives the date of death for Margaret Thompson, widow of John Wilson, as 30 Sep 1855 and her age as 84. I was not able to find a death entry for Margaret in the statutory registers (although they had only been started earlier in 1855 and undoubtedly were not entirely complete). In the “Select Cemetery Registers” collection is an entry for Margaret Thomsen, buried on 3 Oct 1853 aged 84. Unfortunately, the burial place is only given as “Scotland” and the entry is not linked to an image of the register. However, the only area of Scotland listed in the sources for the collection is Dumfries and Galloway, and a comparison with census returns and monumental inscriptions shows that some of the other 1853 entries in the collection are for Canonbie residents. Given the absence of Margaret’s death in the statutory registers and the ease with which 1853 on the inscription could be misread as 1855, it seems most likely that Margaret died on 30 Sep 1853.

[11] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0020 0190). Ilian seems to be used in the Canonbie parish registers in this period as a variant of Helen. See, for example, the marriage of Thomas Little and Helen Taylor in 1789 and the baptism of Margaret, daughter of Thomas Little and Ilian Taylor in 1797.

[12] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0020 0190).

[13] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0020 0213).

[14] Thomas Wilson’s death certificate confirms that he was a son of John Wilson and Margaret Thomson.

[15] 1851 census returns, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 011/00 008), where her name appears to be given as Minea. She was evidently the Wilhelmina Wilson who had an illegitimate daughter by James Smith baptised at Canonbie in 1838, named Catherine Hannah (Canonbie parish registers, GROS, 814/0030 0243), who would seem to be the Catherin Smith, granddaughter of Margaret (Thomson) Wilson, who was living with Margaret and Minea in 1851. Catherine married Robert Byers in 1874 (statutory marriages, Half Morton, 828/00 0002).

[16] Statutory deaths, Dumfries (GROS, 821/00 0486); statutory deaths, Middlebie (GROS, 841/00, 0029). In the latter, which is marked as cancelled in the register, presumably because the death had already been registered at Dumfries, Wilhelmina’s usual residence is given as Kirtlebridge, which is where she had been living with her daughter Catherine and son-in-law Robert Byers at the time of the 1891 census (GROS, 841/00 001/00 003). Wilhelmina died at the Crichton Royal Institution.

[17] 1851 census returns, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 011/00 008).

[18] Death certificate.

[19] Gretna Green marriage registers, held by Achievements of Canterbury. The Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0030 0370) state that Thomas and Dorothy were married at Gretna on 20 Sep 1839.

[20] 1841 census returns, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 006/00 001); burial register images in the England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers, 1800-2016 collection (online at www.ancestry.com). Dorothy’s age is listed as the 25-29 age group in the 1841 census returns but as 33 in her burial entry the next year.

[21] When the birth of their daughter Elizabeth was registered, Thomas and Ellen were stated to have been married on 13 Dec 1850 at Half Morton (statutory births, Canonbie, GROS, 814/00 0058), although the age of their daughter Helen in the 1851 census returns, taken in March, appears to be given as 11 months (1851 census returns, Canonbie, GROS, 814/00 011/00 008), and in the birth record of their son James, the marriage is stated to have taken place in 1849 at Half Morton (statutory births, Canonbie).

[22] Ellen Scott’s parents were so identified when her death was registered, the informant being her son William Wilson (statutory deaths, Canonbie).

[23] 1851 census returns, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 011/00 008).

[24] Statutory deaths, Canobie.

[25] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/30 288); Canonbie kirk session minutes (National Records of Scotland, CH2/1582/1/4).

[26] Burial register images in the England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers, 1800-2016 collection (online at www.ancestry.com).

[27] 1851 census returns, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 011/00 008).

[28] Statutory deaths, Canongate (GROS, 685/03 0396).

[29] Statutory marriages, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 0001).

[30] Statutory marriages, Canongate (GROS, 685/03 0091).

[31] 1861 census returns, Canonbie.

[32] Statutory births, Canonbie.

[33] Ontario deaths, RG 80-08-0-2438.

[34] Statutory births, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 0037).

[35] The Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force attestation paper for William Wilson, dated 3 Dec 1915, states that he was born on 25 Dec 1876 at “Barnopfield, Durham, Eng.” and gives his next-of-kin as his aunt, Mrs. G. Harrison of Swalwell, Co. Durham (Library and Archives Canada, RG 150, accession 1992-93/166, box 4930-35). The 1911 census returns for Swalwell (National Archives, RG 14/30503) show a George Harrison, married for 23 years to his wife Jessie, the latter aged 53 and born at “Canobie” (sic), Dumfriesshire. The birth certificate of their daughter Georgina Storey Harrison (b 2 Dec 1899, Swalwell) shows that Jessie’s maiden surname was Wilson. This matches with the birth of Jessie, daughter of Thomas Wilson and Ellen Scott. William Wilson is found to have been living with George and Jessie Harrison at the time of the 1891 census (National Archives, RG 12/4187, fol. 66).

[36] Statutory births, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 0050).

[37] Statutory marriages, Canobie (GROS, 814/00 0016).

[38] Statutory births, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 0058).

[39] Statutory deaths, Canonbie.

[40] Canonbie parish registers (GROS, 814/0030 0257); 1851 census returns, Canonbie (GROS, 814/00 011/00 008).

[41] Death certificate; monumental inscription at Burnopfield.

[42] Marriage certificate.

[43] The place is given in the 1871 census returns for Tanfield (National Archives, RG 10/4955, fol. 93). The date is given in the International Genealogical Index, citing the Tanfield parish registers. I have not seen the entry in the original registers.

[44] Monumental inscription at Burnopfield.

[45] James appears to have been born at Blaydon from the 1871 census returns for Tanfield (National Archives, RG 10/4955, fol. 93). The place is indicated by ditto marks under the place of birth of his older brother Thomas, which was originally written as Winlaton but then crossed out and changed to Blaydon. The date of birth is given in the International Genealogical Index, citing the Tanfield parish registers. I have not seen the entry in the original registers.

[46] Monumental inscription at Burnopfield.

[47] 1871 census returns, Tanfield (National Archives, RG 10/4955, fol. 93).

[48] Monumental inscription at Burnopfield.

[49] England Marriages, 1538–1973 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVNZ-8K1); 1901 census returns, Whickham (National Archives, RG 13/4762, fol. 5).

[50] Birth certificate.

[51] Monumental inscription at Burnopfield.

[52] Birth certificate.

[53] Yorkshire Evening Post, 1 Jun 1959.

[54] Birth certificate.

[55] Death certificate.

[56] Birth certificate.

[57] Monumental inscription at Burnopfield; National Burial Index (online at www.findmypast.co.uk).

[58] Birth certificate.

[59] Death certificate.

[60] Marriage certificate.