Redheugh Estate, Co. Durham deeds

Scope and Content

This deposit of deeds covers the later years of the Askew's ownership of the Redheugh Estate, Gateshead, Co. Durham, especially from the 1830s to the 1880s. It relates particularly to the disposal of land and mining rights by the family and their trustees under various settlements, detailed above in the biographical history. The deeds were preserved as a record of the family's continuing interest in the area during the gradual disposal of land and rights. During these years successive family settlements altered the nature and degree of interest of individual members of the family, which in turn affected the disposal of portions of the estate.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Redheugh Estate was one of several large landed properties in Gateshead which survived in the form of a gentleman's residence surrounded by gardens and agricultural land until the development of industry and housing in the area in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1748 the estate was purchased from the Radcliffe family by Adam Askew, M.D., of Newcastle upon Tyne. It remained in the Askews' hands for a century and a half, but was gradually reduced in size by sales and leases for building and mining developments.

Askew family The precise origins of the Askews of Redheugh remain unclear, (C.R. Hudleston and R.S. Boumphrey, Cumberland Families and Heraldry, (Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Sociey, 1978), p.8), but by the eighteenth century they were established among the gentry of north-west England. Anthony Askew, a physician in Kendal, Westmorland, married Anne Storrs, a Lancashire heiress, and thereby acquired Storrs Hall. Their son and heir Adam, after education at Cambridge, established a notable medical practice in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1725. From then until his death in 1773 he invested the considerable profits from his practice in lands scattered round the north of England, including the estate at Redheugh with which this deposit deals.

Adam Askew entailed his landed property by means of trusts declared in his will. Of Henry's tenure no details survive. On Henry's death without issue in 1796, the Redheugh Estate passed to his nephew, Adam Askew the younger [1762-1844], son and heir of Anthony, the deceased eldest son of Adam Askew the elder, who dying childless left it, according to the terms of the entail, to his brother Henry, rector of Greystoke in Cumberland. Henry's son and heir, Henry William Askew [1808-90], married in that year Lucy Percy, daughter of the bishop of Carlisle. The settlement upon their marriage confirmed the entail, perserving the life-interests as under the old will down to Henry's death [1852] and thereafter settling the estate upon two trustees, Adam Washington and James Pulleine, to hold to the use of Henry William for life, in trust for his sons and heirs. The deeds in sections B and D refer to the land dealings of Adam Askew the younger in Gateshead both before 1832, when he acquired an interest in St Helen's Close, adjacent to Redheugh, and after the resettlement, when he conveyed the riverside portions of the estate to railway companies. Section C covers the 1832 settlement.

From 1852, Henry William as life-tenant, with the trustees, undertook some piecemeal disposal of parcels of the estate [section E]. 1868 saw the coming-of-age and marriage of his son, Henry Hugh Askew. Instead of simply making a new settlement, Henry William [life-tenant and protector of the settlement] and Henry Hugh [tenant in tail] agreed to disentail the estate as a whole, in order to facilitate sales and leasing of those portions not yet disposed of nor earmarked for disposal. Section F contains the deeds relating to the dispersal of Henry William's share of the estate and those in section H cover conveyances by Henry Hugh and the trustees.

Rights to mine coal and fireclay under the surface of the land were carefully reserved throughout these transactions. They were leased out in toto in 1871 to John Fleming and John Milling, who sank the Redheugh Colliery in 1872 and mined successfully for several decades. The detailed leasing arrangements which assured the Askews of shares in the profits from coal are found in section I.

Development of Gateshead Although much of Gateshead remained agricultural until the nineteenth century, industry was not new to the area. Coal-mining had been a major enterprise since the Middle Ages; after a lull in the late seventeenth century, new technological expertise paved the way for deeper and more difficult mining. Other established industries included glass, iron and rope manufacture. Nevertheless certain estates, including Redheugh, remained suitable residences for the gentry. For Redheugh, the turning-point was the construction of the Redheugh branch of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway in the 1830s (see G. Whittle, The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway (London, 1979), pp.31-3, 43-4, 46). Even before the line opened, Adam Askew had moved south, leasing Redheugh Hall and its gardens in 1835 to William Cuthbert, a Newcastle glass-manufacturer. The new lines passed close to the Hall; further railway expansion, including Askew's grant to the companies of his lands along the river banks, rendered the house wholly undesirable as a gentleman's residence (F. W. Manders, A history of Gateshead (Gateshead, 1973), pp. 114-15, 130-2). Henry Askew attempted to sell the whole estate for building in 1850, but no buyer could be found. Development in the area did not offer a good investment until access to and from Newcastle was improved by the building of Redheugh Bridge across the Tyne, begun in 1865 and completed in 1871 (ibid., pp. 121-1). The striking effect on the area is illustrated in these deeds: conveyances which had been a trickle in the 1850s and 1860s increased to a flood in the 1870s, as the Askews sold land for housing and industrial building, and at the same time leased coal-mining rights.


Arranged by subject, and then in chronological order.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the British Records Association in Durham University Library, Palace Green in June 1948. They were presented to the BRA by Messrs Beachcroft, Hay & Ledward, solicitors, 29 Bedford Square, London W1.

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue, available at online catalogue

Separated Material

Tyne & Wear Archives Service: deeds concerning Redheugh itself 1703-24 and a nineteenth-century sale bill for the estate, as well as numerous other deeds and papers relating to local estates and enterprises.

Related Material

Church Commission Durham Bishopric Estates Deposit: includes not only counterparts of some of the deeds in this collection, but also other documents relating, for example, to St Helen's Close.