Early History of Gateshead
Constant Argy Bargy with them ower the river

Welcome to the Early Gateshead History page which brings you
text from Vestiges of Old Newcastle and Gateshead by J.R. Boyle FSA
Low Felly Gaieshead'On-Tyne, June^ 1890.
The illustrations in the book are not available to me so I have sprinkled the text with pictures that were available

The northern extremity of the ancient parish of Gateshead was the blue stone," embedded in the roadway over the old bridge of Tyne. There the authority of the bishops of Durham and their bailiffs ended. Two-thirds of the bridge lay north of the stone, and that portion was under the jurisdiction of the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle. The remaining third was part of the patrimony of St. Cuthbert, vested in the bishop or convent of Durham.
The bishop's rights on the bridge arose from his rights in the river beneath.
It was an ancient claim of the burgesses of Newcastle, though repeatedly contested, that the whole river, from bank to bank and from Hedwin Streams to the sea, was theirs. But as early as the reign of Henry I. this claim was disproved. The elders (antiquiores) of all the Haliwarfolk* and of North-umberland at that time declared on oath that **from Stanlibum even to Tynemeuth, that is, even to the sea, half of the water of Tjme pertains to St. Cuthbert and to the bishop of Durham, and the other half to the county of Northumberland ; the third part, in the midst of the stream, shall be common and free.'' We have also a record, dating from the time of Henry H., of the fisheries in the Tyne which belonged to the monks and to the bishop of Durham.
The fisheries, or yares^ as they are called, of Gateshead, belonged to the bishop, and bore the following singular names : Gouret, Omper, Humiler yare, Besi Hungri yare. Dykes yare, Helfletes yare. Church yare and another Church yare, Letherhose, Grene yare, Dyaph yare, Essulnes yare. Maid yare, Suttel yare, Doimde yare, and two Comitith yares. The fisheries of Gateshead are mentioned in " Boldon Buke," and in Hatfield's "Survey" we are told that John de Sadberg held the Gateshead fishery of the Tyne, for which he paid a
* Haliwarfolk — more correctly, Haliwarkfolk — the tenants of the lands of the prior and convent of Durham, whose tenure was held by hofy work^ the work of defending the body of St. Cuthbert. See an interesting dissertation on Haliwarkfolk in Sir T. D. Hardy's preface to the third volume of " Kellaw*s Register " (pp. liv.-lx.)
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yearly rental of ;^2o. In an inquisition held at Durham on the Monday next after the feast of St. Margaret (20th July), in 1336, the jurors, in evidence of the bishop's rights on the bridge and in the river, declared that the borough of Gateshead had been accustomed to hold a market on two days in each week, that is, on the Tuesday and Friday, " even as far as the middle of the bridge,*' and a fair on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (ist August). They
also stated, as one of the grievances endured by the people of the bishopric at the hands of the inhabitants of Newcastle, that, whereas the bishop and prior of Durham had their free fisheries on the coast of the Tyne, and had been accustomed to freely sell their fish wherever they pleased, their fishermen, both in Pipewelgat, in Scheles, and elsewhere, were now entirely hindered from so selling the fish which they caught in the T3me or in the sea, and, with force and arms, were carried off and driven to the market at Newcastle, and, if they sold the fish elsewhere, were compelled to re-purchase it or were grievously fined.
A further complaint was that the town of Newcastle had built on the end of Tyne Bridge, on the bishop's ground, thus appropriating his soil and free tene- ment. What it was that had been built we are not told, but, in 1414, we find bishop Langley directing Ralph de Eure, his seneschall, William Chauncellar, his chancellor, and William Claxton, his sheriff, to take full and peacefuU
possession of two-thirds of one-half of a certain bridge, called Tynesbrygg, ** in our vill of Gatesheved," ** which two-thirds of one half contain and make the third part of the same bridge towards the south," whereupon the mayor and commonalty of Newcastle had recently caused " a certain tower " to be built
anew, " and which same two parts," the bishop proceeds, ** with the franchises, jurisdictions and regal rights pertaining thereto, we have recently recovered in the court of our lord the king, against the mayor and commonalty of the said town of Newcastle." Of the same tower Langley's successor, bishop Neville, appointed a keeper (custos turris) in 1448, whose emoluments for this office were one halfpenny per day, and a gown once a year, or, in lieu thereof,
a payment of eight shillings at Christmas. This tower was doubtless the " stronge wardyd Gate at Geteshed'' mentioned by Leland.
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Although, as time passed by, the claim of Newcastle upon the river
became more pronounced, the bishop's rights upon the bridge were not again disputed; but in the year 1552 an Act of Pariiament was passed which separated Gateshead from the county of Durham and united it to Newcastle. It is curious to read in the preamble to the Act the reasons for the annexation.

'* The quiet ordre, regiment, and gouvernance of the Corporacon and body politike of the Towne of Newcastle uppon Tyne hath bene not a lyttel disturbed and hindered • • • by reasone aswel that in the Towne of Gatesyde • • • doo inhabyte and bene from tyme to tyme a greate nombre of carpenters, collyers, fishers, maryners, and other handycraftes menne, which by their handy workes gayne and have their cheif and in manner hole lyving in the said towne of Newcastle, wher they daly comit manyfolde enormetyes and disorders which escape unponished, to a very evil example in the
hinderance of justice, by reasone that soch offendors, by repairing untto the saide towne of Gatesyde, being withowte the jurisdicon of the said haven towne of Newcastle, fynde evasone and meanes to escape the condign correcon and punishment of their saide
mysbehavors. • • • No smal nombre of the inhabitants of Gatesyde * * * do cast into the saide havon rubishe, w*^ all the refuse of their building, besydes the other clensing of their bowses and streetes. * * * A parte of the bridge over the saide ryver of Tyne, perteyning to the saide towne of Gatesyde is so farre in ruyne and decay for lacke of reparacon that no cartes or carryages maye be suffered to passe over the same."

This Act was repealed by queen Mary, when, in 1554, she restored Cuthbert Tunstall to his see. He, however, as Surtees suggests, "to take off the opposition of the wealthy and powerful Corporation of Newcastle, who reluctantly quitted their grasp of the south side of the river," leased the Salt Meadows to the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle for a term of 450 years, a lease which, says bishop Cosin, "will out-weare 20 bishopps.'' It has already
"out-worn'' four-and-twenty, and has yet 116 years to run.

A second attempt to unite Gateshead to Newcastle was made in 1575, when the see of Durham was vacant after the death of bishop Pilkington.
Several pleas and petitions of the people of Gateshead, praying that the proposed bill might be rejected, have been preserved, and from these we gain considerable information as to the state of the town at that period. We learn that there were "to the nomber of fower hundred housholders and dyvers artificers usinge freelye their artes and misteries and other lawdable customes
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of theyr said towne;" that "the brough of Gateshed, having Bailife, Bur- gesies, and a greate nombre of Comynaltie, to the nombre at the least of iij.*"' [3,000] parsons or their aboutes, have heretofore, for the space of iiij.*' [400] yeres and above, occupied freely their artes and mysteryes, which was the only stay of their lyving ;*' that "certen popre men of Gateshed have by the consent
of the Bushopp, nowe decessed, and the Justices of the Shire, buylded certen shoppes and howses upon that part of the bridge which doth apperteyne unto countie of Busshoprick, the which shoppes and houses were seassed [sessed] and rented by the said Busshopp and Justices for the repayring of the said bridge ;" that the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle " have had a great dis-
dayne at the said towne of Gateshed, in so moche that they have, by thier aucthoritie, heretofore prohibited the said townsmen of Gateshed, as tanners and others, to buy and selle in the Quenes high markett, so that those which have come to buy wares or sell any in the said markett, they have troubled them by way of arrest and ymprisonment;*' that " there are such holsome cod-stytucions, ordennances, and lawes, made in the courtes of Gateside, by the
Baylifes and Burgesses, and the same so well kepte, that the ryver is deper on that side that belongeth to Gatesyde then the other syde is;" and that "nowe in Gateshed their are a great nomber of substancal honest men faythful and trewe subjects, as did appere in the late rebellyon, some merchaunts, some drapers, and other honest artificers, whom the towne of Newcastell doth envie because they dwell so nie unto them.*' Finally, Sir William Fleetwood, the recorder of London, and escheator of Durham under bishop Pilkington, declares to the lord treasurer of England, that "the towne of Gatessyde is a corporate towne, an auncient borowgh, the keye of the countie pallantyne, the people religeus, godly, and good Protestannes, and, besides, men of good
welthe, and very civill of behaveier."* The inhabitants of Gateshead feared that, should the annexation be effected, "the Maiour of Newcastell and his brethren shall shutt upp their shoppes of the said artifycers, and stopp thyer
• It is, perhaps, worth while to quote Fleetwood's account of the people of Newcastle. " The towne of Newcastell are all Papistes, save Anderson, and yet he is so knitt in suche sort with the Papistes that Aiunt^ aiit; negant^

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trades and occupieing, which heretofore they have frely used, the which, if it so shall fall out, wilbe an utter undoing and a beggeryng of the whole towne," and so *^ of an auncyent boroughe shalbe made a desolate place,'* to the "over- throwe of nere m^ m^ m^ [3)OOo] people/' ** Yf,*' said they, ** theis townes shal be annexed they [of Newcastle] may put all their cattle to eat w**" Gateshed, or may enclose, and they may have the cole of Gateshed moore, w^.wil be worth, yf they may wyn the same, x thousand pownd, w** weare to the disheritaunce of the Sea of Durham,'* and Gateshead *' would be replenyshed w*^ evell disposed
persons and theues, because it is w***out their walls, as is the north parte of Newcastell."

The attempt at annexation failed, and the authorities of Newcastle
resorted, two years later, to the Court of the Lord President and Council of the North, held at York, for the purpose of depriving the inhabitants of Gateshead of some of their ancient privileges. The defendant in the suit was one Richard Nattres, of Gateshead, who had ** kepte open shoppe for these tenn yeres nere unto the Bridge ende, and uppon all dayes in the .weke hath kept
open shop and solde all such kinde of wares as he had, by means whereof" his shop was ** greatlye frequented." The object of the monopolists of Newcastle was to have the inhabitants of Gateshead ** restrayned or forbidden " to keep ** any fayers or markets in Gatesyde, or openlye to sett to sayle any wares in Gatesyde, or to open or kepe any marchants shopp therein, or to sett forthe
any stalls or boothes with anye kind of wares to be solde there." Although we have no record of the decree in the suit, it is clear that the evidence of the witnesses was decidedly favourable to the Gatesiders. From the depositions we Jeam that ** there hath bene heretofore two market dayes in the weke kept in the towne ♦ ♦ ♦ uppon the Tewsdaye and Frydaye or Saterdaye," for *^ althoughe one of the said market dayes was kept uppon the Saterdaye,
yet Frydaye was accounted the market daye by right." The markets were held "enenst the Towle Boothe, and about a crosse which stood there ♦ ♦ ♦ which was used to be called the Market Crosse," as well as **betwene the Toll Bothe and the Pante or condyte there, and at the south ende of Tyne Brige,
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at a place there called Brige Yeate/' and *' on the south side of a stone called the Blewe Stone." The commodities offered for sale included wheat, bigg, oatmeal, rye, groats, bread, beans, pease, salt, eggs, butter, cheese, ** and other marchandyces." It was also deposed that **a fayer'* was **kept yerelye * * * uppon the feast daye of St. Peter ad vincula, comonly called Lamas
daye ♦ ♦ ♦ throughout the said towne." As to the keeping of shops
the people of Gateshead did ** account theme selfes in Gatesyde as fre as th* enhabytantes of Newcastell in Newcastle." The opposition of Newcastle to the commerce of Gateshead was revived from time to time, and as late as 1702 a suit was instituted in Chancery by the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle against William Lakey "for keeping a comon Brewery in Gateshead."

The markets and fairs of Gateshead have passed away, but at a later period the town had an annual shoe fair of widespread fame. " Gradually, however," writes the late James Clephan, " as shops increased in number and improved in quality, stalls declined. In  1845 there were but seven, straggling from the top of Church Street to the railway bridge over the High Street — a mere patchwork of tradesmen's window shutters and sugar hogsheads. Time, which spareth nothing, had laid a heavy hand upon the shoe fair, and almost crushed it out of existence. The fair continued to dwindle, hogshead by hogshead, till it was reduced to a final shutter. The climax came in 1853, when one of the most courteous of the sons of St. Crispin — the last man of an ancient institution — presented himself in the High Street, a corporation sole."
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