An Appleby Family Tree

Why Appleby?

Why should Duncan Scott Grey, born in Newcastle upon Tyne 18.11.1951 be interested in the Appleby family tree?

Because it is my mother's family line. She was born Irene Appleby, and while I was growing up she talked to me about her side of the family.

In particular she hinted at the background of my grandfather, William, sent to a children's home for much of his childhood, and the fascinating but mysterious past of my great grandfather William Cunningham Appleby, who travelled to Jerusalem and Cairo and lived in Johannesburg until his sudden death.

This certainly had an effect on my interest in genealogy as well as stimulating my interest in travel. I did get around to doing the Grey Family Tree too ....

Thomas Appleby b circa 1615
Johannes Appleby - 1636 - 1696
Thomas Appleby d 1717
Johannes Appleby 1694 - 1768
Margaret Burton
Thomas Appleby 1734 - 1763
Jane Huntley
Joseph Appleby 1762-1837
Jane Carr
Joseph Appleby 1803 - 1845
Jane Cunningham
William Cunningham Appleby 1838
Hannah Ford
William Cunningham Appleby 1869 - 1909
Martha Woods
William Appleby 1889 - 1984
Alice Scott
Irene Appleby1926
Edward Grey
Duncan Scott Grey 1951
Jenny Grieve
Catherine, Philippa, Sarah Grey

Before 1600
It seems likely that an early Appleby of my family line came, around or previous to 1600, from the town of that name in Cumbria (previously Westmorland), though there is an Appleby in Humberside and an Appleby Magna and an Appleby Parva near Birmingham.
Appleby in Cumbria is first recorded in 1130 as Aplebi. probably Apple Village. With surnames common in England by 1500 the first Appleby so named would be likely to have left the village in the 15th century.


In "The Homes of Family Names" by Guppy (1890) numbers are given to represent a proportion per 10,000. For Appleby that proportion is 11 for Derbyshire, 8 for Durham, 9 for Essex, 10 for Yorkshire and 30 for Northumberland.

Thomas Appleby born c 1615?  

Known from the birth record of his son John in 1636 and also his son William.

A Mary Appleby married one William Brown in 1647. Could Mary be a sibling of Thomas, or a daughter? Ian Appleby <> believes Mary is sister to Thomas.

Johannes Appleby 1636 - 1696

Tracing the family back some 200 years it is possible to link in with information in Hodgson's County History of Northumberland (see Volume 5, page 375) to produce a reasonably certain line back to Johannes Appleby of Acklington, Northumberland who died 8.5.1696.

Acklington birth records have "John, son of Thomas of Acklington 1636 22 June"

Hodgson also gathered information on this family which shows that there is no mention of Applebys in the area of Acklington on the muster roll of 1538, nor when surveys were made in 1567, 1585 and 1616. However a 1664 Hearth Tax Survey mentions Wm Appleby with one hearth. Ten people were named, while 29 were too poor to count.

It is not impossible that this William was father to Johannes Appleby, though this remains supposition. Nevertheless evidence suggests that the Applebys came to Acklington in about 1616, or at least came to financial prominence at that time.

In 1762 the Militia List for the 31st March includes:
William Applebe, servant, Warkworth
John Applebe, journeyman, Warkworth
Thomas Appleby, weaver, Morrick
Thomas Appleby, farmer, Acklington
Robert Apeleby, husbandman, Acklington

Ignoring the possibility of William (fl. 1664), we start with Johannes (names were often written in a Latin form in parish registers of this time) who died in Acklington 8.5.1696.

He may have married Grace, who died 1.3.1685 and seems a likely candidate although there is no record of a wedding.

An "end of 18th Century" survey shows 18 farms, two of which were owned by Thomas Appleby and one by John Appleby. Clearly the Applebys were spreading - but care must be taken not to jump to conclusions when relating different pieces of information. At times it is impossible to know which of the many Roberts, Johns, Williams and Thomases are which.
Thomas Appleby died 1717

He did have a son, Thomas, (date of birth unknown) who himself had eight children - ->

This Thomas, on 1st December 1696, took a new lease of the lands formerly held by his father [Enrolment of Leases, Duke of Northumberland's MSS]
A ready candidate for his wife is Maria, who died 17.10.1720, although once more there is no positive proof.

Isabell (1689),
Margareta (1697),
Thomas (1699),
Robertus (1702),
Josephus (1705),
Gulielmus (1707)
Edvardus (1711).
18th Century
Johannes (John) Appleby 1694-1768
Thomas's eldest son, Johannes, born 21.10.1694, married Margaret Buston in Shilbottle on 25.6.1719, having taken a lease of lands owned by his father and grandfather before him, on 20.1.1718 or 1719. He renewed that lease on 10.10.1738.
We do have documentary evidence of that land which confirms his family line:
Alnwick Castle muniments, survey of 1727, Acklington, North Side:
John Apleby, late Thomas Apleby ... before him John Apleby ... messuage and tenement with a garth and ... arable land ... and pasture. Rent £4. Improved £23. 81/2 frames on north syde ... 860 acres. 0.25.

Johannes and Margaret had eight children too - ->
(note that the Maria who we may suppose to have been Johannes' mother died in the previous year.)


Margaret died 17.9.1766 and Johannes 17.12.1768, in Acklington.

Maria (1721)
Isabella (1724),
Margareta (1726),
Anna (1728),
Johannes (1731),
Thomas (1734)
Robertus (1736).
Thomas Appleby 1734-1763

Johannes (1694) was one of eight children, (one of whom was Edvardius, christened 7.9.1711.)

Now he too married, one Isabel Miller of Brinkburn, and they also had a child named Thomas. This is where confusion arises. There is such a profusion of Thomas Applebys at this time that it is unclear which is which. One of them clearly sired Joseph Appleby who was born in Warkworth on 11.4.1762, and this Joseph is clearly an ancestor of the present writer.

However, which Thomas was his father is not so certain.
• Probably it was Thomas the weaver (of Morwick) mentioned in the Militia List (born either 8.2.1741 or more likely 27.12.1747, died 2.12.1763) and probably he was the son of Edward (1711).
• Possibly it was Thomas the farmer and
• Possibly it was the son of Johannes (1694).
It is almost certain that, whichever Thomas it was, they each had a common grandfather in Thomas of Acklington (died 1717) and were therefore cousins.
Intriguingly, I have a copy of Pilgrim's Progress that belonged to Thomas Appleby of Morwick Hall and is dated 1790. Photographs 1 - 2 - 3 - here.
But who precisely was this Thomas? I'm guessing he was brother to Joseph (b1762) as the father, Thomas, (b 1734) died at Morwick. It's perfectly possible (though unproven) that Thomas was born between 1754 and 1761 and as eldest son inherited Morwick Hall - and kept a copy of Pilfim's Progress in his library.
Joseph Appleby 1762-1837

So, one of theThomas Applebys married Jane Huntley in Warkworth 31.5.1761 and one of them had the child, Joseph, christened in 11.4.1762. Thomas died in Morwick 2.12.1763.

Joseph, almost certainly a very poor man, married Jane Carr (1770) in Ulgham on 4.6.1797. He is described as a labourer.

Joseph and Jane had four children - ->

Thomas (born 6.5.1798, christened 11.5.1798),
John (born 28.4.1800, christened 30.4.1800, died 2.3.1832),
Joseph (1803)
James (born 10.1.1806, christened 6.7.1806, died 18.5.1843).
I nformation from the Ulgham Parish Register.
Joseph died, in Ulgham, on 21.4.1837. Jane died 23.10.1841 The Ulgham Churchwarden's Accounts show that "poor money" was paid to Joseph Appleby: 1830 - 1 x 2/6d; 1831 - 2 1/2 x 2/6d; 1832 - 1 x 2/6d; 1834 - 7 x 2/6d; 1836 - 5 x 2/6d.
Presumably these last years of his life (he would be over 70 by now) were too difficult for a labourer and his 60 year old wife.
19th Century
Joseph Appleby 1803-1845

His son Joseph (born 11.7.1803 and christened 15.7.1803) was a husbandman or hind, a kind of farm labourer.

He married Jane Cunningham in Alnwick on 28.1.1834 and they had three children -
Jane (1834),
William Cunningham
(1838) and
Joseph John (1840).
He is known to have lived in Clayport Street, Alnwick, where William was born and lived there possibly from 1834 - 1838.

He is known to be in Ulgham 1838-1841, looking after his mother as the 1841 census shows:

 Joseph Apleby  35 years  Agricultural labourer
 Jane do  25 years  
 William do  3 years  
 Joseph do   7 months  

Eight houses away:
 Jane Appleby  70 years  
 Jane do   7 years  

1841 Census, Ulgham

Evidently Joseph's family moved back to Ulgham to tend to grandmother Jane, young Jane living with grandma and the rest several doors away. Old Jane (nee Carr) died later that year.

Joseph did not live much longer, dying on January 1st 1845.
Young Jane lived only to 1849, dying at the age of 15.


William Cunningham Appleby (the 1st) 1838-
He was born in the family's brief stay in Alnwick - at midnight on February 24th 1838. By the time he was baptised, on March 26th, the parish register notes that the family is "now living at Ulgham". In the 1861 census he is shown as living with his aunt Mary Cunningham (probably the May Cunningham who witnessed his father's marriage to Jane Cunningham at St Michael's, Alnwick, 27 years previously), her son William, aged 19 and a cabinet maker; and Joseph Appleby, aged 20 and a labourer.  
William Cunningham Appleby is described as a paper stainer, which is a kind of wallpaper maker. They lived in Back Blandford Street, Newcastle, off Westgate Road, in houses demolished in the 1970's (although the present author stood on the foundations of the house in 1983!)  
Young Joseph, whose middle name was John, turns up briefly as late as 1910 when a letter written by him has been inserted in the pages of the Ulgham Parish Register (page 37, baptisms for 1840) asking the vicar for a birth certificate. Dated September 6th 1910 it reads:
Dear Sir,
Would you be so kind as to send the certificate of my Birth. I was born on the 24th of October 1840 and christened at Ulgham church Joseph John Appleby and would you see how much it would be and I will send you a "Post Office Order" and oblige.
Yours Joseph John Appleby.
The address is 43 Durham Street, Elswick Road, Newcastle.

Ten weeks after the census William Cunningham Appleby was married, to Hannah Ford (1842), in Newcastle on 12.6.1861. Their children were all born in Leeds - ->

By this time William Cunningham Appleby the elder was described as a "journeyman paper stainer."


Charles Ford (1867),
William Cunningham
Walter (1872) and
John Ernest (1876).

Charles and William were born at 18 Oatlands Street and Walter at 33 Meanwood Road.

20th Century
William Cunningham Appleby (the 2nd) 1869-1909
William Cunningham Appleby (1869) is the most charismatic character of the family. Married in Newcastle to Martha Woods ( see photograph >>) with an address at 108 Hamilton Street, he travelled to South Africa during the 1890's and worked as a carpenter for Natal Government Railways.
He is said to have been in General Buller's "reconstruction gang" and to have been at the relief of Ladysmith - though this is a common claim. Certainly he travelled widely, including Jerusalem, and many souvenirs held by Duncan Grey testify to this, with photographs of Madeira, Italy, Egypt, Suez, Jerusalem.
Duncan Grey also holds his campaign medal (the box lid gives the number 139).
Although it is with William Cunningham Appleby the second that we are mainly interested, it is worth adding that Irene Appleby remembers her uncles Charlie and Walter who probably returned to Wallsend in the 1930's. They may have been seamen.
John Ernest (known as Jack) was a river policeman on the river Tyne. This is confirmed by Barnados who gave his address in 1910 as 126 Raby Street, Byker.
Note that Jack married Mary Jane Woods (1875), sister of Martha Woods (1875) who married William Cunningham Appleby. So two brothers married two sisters.
Although his son William was born in Barrow in Furness in 1898 (shortly before the Boer War began), his daughter Irene was born in South Africa and is said to have been the first child in the register in a church in Pretoria in 1904.
A copy of the birth certificate shows the date of birth as 15.10.1904, when the address was "Stand 125 Bezuidenhout Valley, Johannesburg." Note that their address at the time of baptism (at St John the Divine, Belgravia, Pretoria) was then Stand 1333 Corner of Boom and Faucus Street (10.9.1905).
A testimonial dated August 2nd 1898 from the Hellier Reef Company Ltd says:>>


A cheque of the time suggests he was in South Africa in October 1898, at Gwelo, (now in Zimbabwe). William Appleby, his son, had his birth (3.12.1898) registered in Barrow on 6.1.1899, so clearly there was some movement between South Africa and England at this time.


"The bearer, Mr W C Appleby, has been employed here as carpenter. I can recommend him as a thoroughly steady and hard working man who understands his work in all departments"

A photograph of c.1898 (see photograph >>) shows him as a prosperous man and it is said he had expensive tastes in clothes. Another photograph shows young William by a tricycle outside their home.
The last remaining article in the hands of Duncan Grey is an old rocking chair, said to have been made by him, presumably for his son and therefore dated 1900.
At the time of his death Martha, William and Irene were in Newcastle, having returned there on the grounds of Martha's health in 1907 and again in 1909. William Cunningham was living in the Kimberley Roodepoort Single Quarters at the Solo Mine, Roodepoort, Krugersdorp. He seems to have been working for the Roodepoort United Main Reef Gold Mining Co.Ltd.
His estate consisted of "Stand 110 Eastleigh Township ... subsequently found to be unsaleable, a box and tools [which were sold] and £1 in cash." Notice of his death or estate was inserted in each of the Leader and Gazette 22nd July 1910.
I have an original news clipping, kept by his daughter Irene Appleby, but I have been unable to trace the newspapers: the State Library of South Africa cannot trace a newspaper with either of these titles; the British Newspaper Library claims to have these papers from Roodepoort, although not for July 1910.
It was here that he committed suicide as he was depressed, "going through a bad patch" and believed himself to be pursued. A newspaper article in the Rand Daily Mail of December 1909 explains the situation in some detail. Presumably he was not as successful as he had expected, probably felt isolated from his family and perhaps found the disgrace of failure too much to bear.
In the previous months he had written back to Martha briefly but on several occasions, from Roodepoort in July, Brakpan in September, Johannesburg in late October and November.
His death certificate gives the cause of death as "gunshot wound in the head." The gun used was returned to Martha together with certain personal effects and is remembered by Irene Grey although she did not then appreciate its significance. It was said to have been handed to the police in an amnesty in the late 1960's.

The home address of Martha, William's wife, at his death was given as 53, Richardson Street, Wallsend. She was born in The Close, Newcastle on January 14th 1875, and may have returned there, to number 84, as young William lived there for a time, presumably with her.


A census collector in 1861 adds a personal note on the Quayside which the Close joins: "This is a portion of the lowest district in Newcastle, principally inhabited by lodgers, prostitutes and vendors of fish."

After her husband's death she was in serious financial trouble, and in early 1910 was forced to sell her furniture (with the exception of the rocking chair) and move in with her sister Mary Jane and her husband Jack (John Ernest Appleby, brother of William.)
A photograph of John Ernest shows him in the uniform of the Tyne River Police, including two medals. They were then living at 126 Raby Street, Byker, presumably with their children Joseph and Ivy.
It seems that this arrangement could not last, nor could young William stay on his own with them, so in April the family moved to Wall in Northumberland, where Martha had been in service with the Reverend London from the age of 17 to 22 (when she married.)


William Appleby 1898-1984

William was born in Barrow in Furness on 3.12.1898, registered in Barrow on 6.1.1899,

Young Irene (known as Rene) was 7 years old at the death of her father. The vicar could not house both children so on July 18th 1910 young William, at the age of 10 entered Dame Margaret's Home in Washington County Durham. On January 12th 1912 he was moved to Leopold House, Stepney, and on May 17th 1912 to Woodford, a cottage home. Details are available from Barnados who kept a close record of the boys in their care. There are photographs of 1912 and 1913.

The Reverend London thought highly of Martha.

Dr Barnado's describe her as "in fair health, and of good character."

William is described as "healthy, intelligent, clean, and well behaved." He had brown hair, blue eyes, was 4 ft 5inches tall, weighed 771/2 pounds, had a chest measurement of 24 inches and a freckled complexion.

Further confirmation, if it were needed, that his mother still cared about him, lies in the fact that she refused to sign the "Canada Clause" which would have meant that he could have been shipped to Canada to start a new life.
Finally it is recorded that a letter and a parcel of cake were sent from Mrs Woods (presumably his grandmother, then 58 years old) who was living at 5, Trotters Road, The Close, Newcastle, in 1912.
In 1910 Barnados notes that she was at Brokers Yard, The Close, Newcastle, with Thomas, (1898) and Steven Woods (1894). Another gift to William was of a purse containing three pennies.
On March 12th 1913 he was "restored to his mother."(see two photographs from 1912 and 1913 >>)

William recalled his life in London as an unhappy one. On one occasion, asked to draw an onion in an art class, he first drew it, then, being hungry, ate it. (sensible to do so in that order ...)

In 1921 he lived at 84, The Close, Newcastle, whence he corresponded with the Reverend London concerning matters of his father's will (or lack of it.)

For many years he lived on St Anthony's Road, Walker, where he lived with his wife Alice (nee Scott) who he married on 19.4.1924. It is said they spent their honeymoon (one day only!) at Penshaw Monument. They had two children, Irene (1926) and Joan (1932). He worked as a scaffolder and steel erector and was a respected union representative. Later, William and Alice moved to Hunter House, a high-rise block overlooking the River Tyne.


He joined the army for World War I, enlisting on 2.3.1916 in the Northumberland Fusiliers as Private and serving in France.
His regimental number was 79514. He was transferred to the Reserve on 29.6.1918 in a Yorkshire Regiment. A Christmas card sent in 1918 adds "9th (Service) Battn" and the Regimental Symbol plus "XIX".

Although Alice died in 1969, William remained active into his 80s. He travelled widely throughout Europe and also worked at Bainbridge's in Newcastle, regularly walking several miles to and from work for the sake of keeping fit, as much as to save money.
The photograph here was taken on the 3rd December 1979, at his 80th birthday.
Soon after the age of 80, however, he declined, and died in St Nicholas' Hospital on 28.5.1984.

A quiet man and a good one.

His sister Rene died in August 1992, having maintained her independence fiercely to the last.
The relics which she kept, in the form of photographs and memorabilia brought back from travels by her father were shared between Irene and Joan, her nieces, and Duncan and Robin, her great nephews.

After his death a friend of his, George Blaylock, wrote to Irene:

"Your father and I were at Grasmere for a week; and didn't we talk! What an experience it was to me! His quiet calm way possessed a deep experienced mind which one had to watch for, and I'm sure some would miss. .. How could one forget a humble Natural Gentleman?"

To the page of Duncan Grey or e-mail me at

To the Grey family tree

To other Appleby pages | to Applebys of Essex | to Applebys of Acklington and Morpeth | to The Appleby DNA Project