Henry ANDERSON (1893-1966) Gateshead, Durham

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A message on the Ancestry UK Facebook group’s page caught my eye at the weekend regarding Henry ANDERSON b.1893 in Gateshead, Durham. His great-granddaughter knew the name of his father but was having a hard time confirming who his parents were.

“Hi everyone just after some advice as hitting a brick wall. I have my GGGF who is called Henry Anderson, I have his marriage certificate and his death certificate but I cannot find his birth. My question is would he have a different name at birth than what is on his marriage and death certificate? I only know his father’s name of John Anderson but not his mother’s name so I can’t move from this branch of my tree. Henry married Mary Smith in 1915 and he died in 1966 if I could locate his birth I can order the certificate to move on so any help appreciated.
Edit – lived in Gateshead, 1939 Register gives his birth as 27th Oct 1892 but I can’t match his birth to his father’s name as I need his mother’s maiden name to move on.”


I started by confirming the known facts and then added details from his probate record, 1921 census and military records which recorded him as Henry, Harry and even Herbert. His birthdate also varied a little from record to record where noted.

  • Name: Henry ANDERSON / Harry ANDERSON / Herbert ANDERSON (all from his military records)
  • Birth: 27th Oct 1892 (from 1939 Register) / 1893 (from death and military records) / Sep 1893 in Gateshead, Durham (1921 Census, age 27y 9m on 19th Jun)
  • Father: John ANDERSON, general cartman (deceased bef.1915)
  • Marriage: 1q 1915 to Mary SMITH in Gateshead, Durham; Witnesses: E Wight and Jane Peacock
  • Residence: 1q 1915 – 1 Cleveland Street, Gateshead, Durham
  • Military Enlistment: 10th Dec 1915 – Private; Durham Light Infantry
  • Military Service: 7th Feb 1917 Newspaper – Wounded; Durham Light Infantry; H. Anderson, 31536 (Gateshead)
  • Military Service: 2nd Oct 1917 Newspaper – Wounded; Durham Light Infantry; L.-Cpl. H. Anderson, 31536 (Gateshead)
  • Military Discharge: 15th Apr 1918 – Private; Durham Light Infantry, 4th & 10th; 31536; British War Medal and Victory Medal; Cause of Discharge: A0.265/17; Served Over Sea
  • 1918 Residence: 27 Grosvenor Street, Gateshead, Durham (WWI pension records)
  • 1921 Residence: 27 Grosvenor Street, Gateshead, Durham (General Cartman for Jenning, General Cartman of Gateshead)
  • 1939 Residence: 47 Cross Row, Gateshead, Durham (Labourer Steel Wire Mill)
  • Death: 14th Feb 1966 in Gateshead, Durham age 72
  • Probate: Administration to Ellen WEDDLE married woman. £656.

There were no matching Henry/Harry/Herbert’s in the 1911 census and only one match in the 1901 census with father John ANDERSON. John’s occupation also matched the known information of “cartman”. More evidence was needed to confirm this to be the correct family so I spent the afternoon researching them in detail until I finally found the evidence I was looking for: Henry’s address at the time of his marriage in 1915 (1 Cleveland Street, Gateshead) also happened to be the address of one of his possible sisters in the 1911 and 1921 censuses! It was now looking much more likely that this was the correct family.

Henry’s prospective parents had proved a little difficult to trace back through the census records at first as they were listed with differing names and ages, and with transcription errors aplenty. They also reused first names for their children when one died and another was born. Henry, it turned out, was born Thomas Henry ANDERSON on 30th Oct 1893 in Gateshead, Durham, named after two of his brothers who had both died at the beginning of the year. His birthday differs by a few days from that given in the 1939 Register, but this particular record set is full of such discrepancies. Henry was baptised on 27th Nov at Holy Trinity and was the ninth of twelve children born to John ANDERSON and Emma ALEXANDER.

John ANDERSON was born c.1858 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland (parents unknown). Emma ALEXANDER was born 5th Feb 1859 in Govan (near Glasgow), Lanarkshire, Scotland and the second of two children born to John ALEXANDER (an iron puddler from Brailes, Warwickshire) and his wife Clementina FLEMING (of Cumbernauld, Dunbartonshire, Scotland). Emma’s mother died in 1865 aged about 43 and the family moved down to Gateshead where her father found work as puddler in the local ironworks. When the 1871 census was taken twelve-year-old Emma was working as a servant six miles away in Jarrow.

There is no marriage record for John ANDERSON and Emma ALEXANDER, suggesting that although they lived as married they never legally were. Their first child was born in 1877 and the couple had a total of twelve by 1903, losing four in infancy (as confirmed by the 1911 census). All children were registered at birth with the surname “Anderson” and mother’s maiden name “Alexander” in Gateshead and seven have baptisms online. Death records have been found for all but John jnr and marriage records too.

  1. John Thomas Anderson (b.17 Dec 1877 & bap.30 Dec 1877 – alive 1911 but location not confirmed)
  2. William Anderson (b.21 Jan 1880 & bap.9 Feb 1880 – alive in 1939) m. 1899 to Jane NAYLOR
  3. Richard Anderson (b.Jul-Sep 1882 – d.Jul-Sep 1882 age 0)
  4. Clementina Anderson (b.25 Aug 1883, bap.10 Sep 1883 – d.Sep 1883 age 0)
  5. Clementina Anderson aka Christina Anderson (b.1 Aug 1884 – d.27 Dec 1972 age 89) m.1902 to Thomas ROBSON
  6. Eliza Anderson (b.29 Jan 1887 – d.1964 age 75) m.1908 to John CROZIER
  7. Henry Anderson (b.Oct-Dec 1889 – d.Jan-Mar 1893 age 3)
  8. Thomas Anderson aka Thomas Henry Anderson (b.3 Apr 1892, bap.20 Jun 1892 – d.Jan-Mar 1893 age 0)
  9. Thomas Henry Anderson aka Henry Anderson, Harry Anderson & Herbert Anderson (b.30 Oct 1893, bap.27 Nov 1893 – d.14 Feb 1966) – m.1915 to Mary SMITH
  10. Maria Anderson (b.5 Oct 1896, bap.26 Oct 1896 – alive in 1939) m.1915 to George SMITH (no relation to Mary)
  11. Frederick Anderson (b.6 May 1899, bap.29 May 1899 – d.1973 age 73) m.1921 to Eleanor THOMPSON
  12. Mary Emma Anderson aka Molly Anderson (b.30 May 1903 – d.1984 age 80) m.1929 to Sidney BAINBRIDGE

When the 1881 census was taken the couple had two children (John jnr and William) and the family was living at 25 Swan Street, Gateshead. John was employed as an iron foundry labourer and Emma’s unmarried sister Mary Ann ALEXANDER (25) was also living with them.

John and Emma had a further five children over the next ten years, losing two of them just after they were born (Richard in 1882 and their first Clementina in 1883). The family was living at 5 Charles Square, Gateshead when the 1891 census was taken and the sheet contained a few errors (John was recorded as age 41 but was more likely 33, and Emma was recorded as 40 but was actually 32). The most interesting detail is that the whole family was recorded with Emma’s surname “ALEXANDER” rather than “ANDERSON” (further confirming they were not married).

The couple tragically lost their baby Thomas and three-year-old Henry in early 1893. On the 30th Oct later that year, the couple bore another son and named him Thomas Henry ANDERSON after the two boys they had recently lost (dropping “Thomas” thereafter on records to be just Henry). When the 1901 census was taken the family of six were living in 2 rooms at 98 Peareth Street, Gateshead where John was working as a cartman with his own account (the occupation Henry stated his father to have when he married). Emma was recorded as “Em” which has been incorrectly transcribed as “Ein” on Ancestry adding to further confusion on this family.

John and Emma’s eldest son has not yet been traced in the 1901 census (John). Son William was now married and living further along Peareth Street and their 19-year-old daughter Clementina was working in Gateshead as a domestic servant (recorded as “Christina Anderson”). The couple had their twelfth and final child in 1903 and by 1911 the family had moved to 18 Dun Cow Yard, Gateshead where they occupied one room. The census return for this year also had several errors, ranging from names, ages and birthplaces, to length of marriage and the number of children born. John was recorded as “Sam Anderson“, aged 43 (when he was more like 53) and everyone in the household was now born in Gateshead. It was John himself who filled out the form, so it is hard to understand why he made so many errors. Interestingly, under “completed years the present marriage as lasted“, John entered ” – ” with a correction later added as “20” (1891) by the enumerator, possibly a guess going on John’s given age (Emma was recorded as “50” rather than 52). The column for marital condition also has some editing and whatever John entered originally was rubbed out and “Married” was then entered. John stated to have three “children still living” and four “children who had died“. There were three children still living at home, so perhaps he simply got confused! Even his occupation was amended from “Stick Trade” to “Fire Wood Dealer“.

Of the five children who were no longer living at home, only John and Henry’s whereabouts are as yet unknown. Daughter Clementina and her husband Thomas ROBSON, a fitter in the engineer works, were living at 1 Cleveland Street, Gateshead, the same address Henry and his wife Mary gave as their address when they married four years later. William and his family were also living in Gateshead whilst Eliza and her family had moved to Newcastle.

The 1911 census is the last time John & Emma are confirmed in records. Henry stated his father to be deceased when he married in 1915 and Emma does not show up in the 1921 census but unfortunately, no matching death records have yet been found.

Henry, whilst working as a shipyard labourer, married Mary SMITH on 19th Mar 1915 at the Register Office, Gateshead. They both stated to be 21, which was true in Henry’s case but not Mary’s who was actually 17. The couple already had one child who had been born five months previous and likely why they were all living with Henry’s sister.

Britain had declared war on 4th Aug 1914 and on 10th Dec 1915, Henry enlisted as a private in the Durham Light Infantry (10th and 4th). Sadly his military records were destroyed during WWII so his exact movements are unknown but two newspaper reports from Feb and Oct 1917 included Henry in the wounded lists. The first lists him as “H. Anderson, 31536 (Gateshead)” with no rank included, then eight months later he was listed as “L.-Cpl. H. Anderson, 31536 (Gateshead)”. However, when Henry was discharged on 15th Apr 1918 it was listed as a Private so appears to have been demoted (or the newspaper report had an error). His medal records (British War Medal and Victory Medal) confirm he served overseas and was discharged due to ill health (A0 265/17), whilst his pension records show he had returned home to 27 Grosvenor Street, Gateshead. His records also show he went by Henry, Harry and even Herbert! Henry and Mary’s second child was born on 7th Aug 1918 (nine months previous would be Dec 1917, two months after being listed as wounded) and their third child was born just 11 months later on 24th Jul 1919.

The family was still living at 27 Grosvenor Street when the 1921 census was taken on 19th Jun where they occupied 2 rooms. Henry was working as a general cartman for “Jenning” in Gateshead. and gave his age as 27y 9m making his birth around Sep 1893, so only one month out. Mary stated to be 26y 11m but was actually 23y 11m. Henry’s sister Clementina (recorded as Christina) and her family had continued to live at 1 Cleveland Street.

By 1929 Henry and Mary had six children and when the 1939 Register was taken all but their eldest were living together at 47 Cross Row, Gateshead. Henry gave his date of birth as 24th Oct 1892 (one year and six days older) and Mary as 4th May 1897.

  1. John Anderson (b.21 Oct 1914 – d.1991 age 76) m.1937 to Henriette HOLDER
  2. Frederick Anderson (b.7 Aug 1918 – d.1971 age 72) – marriage condition unknown
  3. Henry Anderson (b.24 Jul 1919 – d.1984 age 64) – marriage condition unknown
  4. George Anderson (b.8 Mar 1922 – d.2001 age 79) m.1947 to Florence MACK
  5. Mary Anderson (b.19 Jan 1925 – d.1995 age 70) m.1946 to James COCKBURN
  6. Ellen Anderson (b.25 Jun 1929 – d. 2018 age 89) m.1951 to Norman WEDDLE

Mary died on 15th Mar 1965 aged 67 followed suddenly by Henry on 14th Feb 1966 at Bensham Hospital, Gateshead age 72 (heart failure). Up until their death, Henry and Mary had continued to live at 47 Cross Row.

Below are photographs of Henry and his wife Mary, his sister Clementina and four of Henry’s six children. All but Clementina are thanks to Ancestry member Lauren Hindmarch.


A DNA test would be a great way to research further back in the Anderson and Alexander lines. This would also further clarify Henry’s parents as John ANDERSON and Emma ALEXANDER by finding matches with grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Henry’s siblings (John & Emma had well over 40 grandchildren). Reaching out to other descendants of John and Emma’s younger children may even shed more light on Henry and the death dates of his parents.


I use many different resources during my research, a majority of which I do online. For this project, I used:

If you have any questions regarding my research or would like anything added or amended, please contact me. I’m also available to hire to trace family trees and delve into the history of your house.

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