Could mystery over original Kitty Brewster be at an end?

Grenville Green (left) who is researching his family history meeting author Neil Taylor who wrote Memories of the Northumberland Coalfields and who mentions Grenville's grandfather Kitty Brewster.
Grenville Green (left) who is researching his family history meeting author Neil Taylor who wrote Memories of the Northumberland Coalfields and who mentions Grenville's grandfather Kitty Brewster.

A descendant of a well-known Blyth family believes he has uncovered the identity of the real Kitty Brewster.

When Grenville Green-Urwin, of Nottingham, was prompted by to research his family history, he had no idea what he was about to find.

With the help of Paul Ternent, a senior archives assistant at Woodhorn Museum, he got hold of a book called Images of England: Blyth, Volume 2 by Bob Balmer and Gordon Smith.

In it is a photograph of a man standing outside the old Percy Arms in Blyth – and, according to the caption, he is called Kitty Brewster.

After asking his family’s solicitors, Brummell and Sample, to search its archives, an entry was found in an old deed register relating to a lease of land at Bedlington Bank Top and Sleekburn Lane in April 1904.

It features the name Christopher Urwin – Grenville’s great-grandfather – with Kitty Brewster printed underneath. Grenville had previously thought Kitty was a nickname for the wife of Kit, alias Christopher.

He believes that reference proves the gender of Kitty Brewster – a name since adopted by a trading estate, pub and county council ward in Blyth.

The 68-year-old said: “I’m just over the moon that something that started with a quest to find the family roots led to something as significant as this. We now know 100 per cent who Kitty Brewster was.

“It started with an enquiry from Martine, my brother’s daughter in America, who was tracing the family roots.

“I wrote to the News Post Leader and got a letter in, and I got a response from a couple of cousins.

“I thought I was really on the right track regarding Kitty Brewster, the wife of Kit, then a spanner was thrown in the works when Paul at Woodhorn sent me these photos and then came the realisation that the person standing outside the Percy Arms was a male.

“The deed is significant because it is dated 1904 and the picture in the book says circa 1900.”

Paul said: “Grenville contacted the archives in the early part of 2010 to ask for assistance in his family research.

“Since his original contact, we have completed several hours of research into his ancestors using various resources including our electronic catalogue, census, parish registers, wills, 1910 land valuation records and trade directories, as well as some printed and internet sources.

“It was during the search of these printed sources that I came across Images of England: Blyth, Volume 2. This book includes a picture with the following caption ‘Looking west along Cowpen Lane, Kitty Brewster stands beside the Percy Arms, circa 1900’.

“Who or what was the origin of Kitty Brewster? Whenever you ask anyone, they always come back with a different theory.

“Blyth Library was able to provide us with an article which was taken from the Blyth News back in 1971 and included various theories as to the origin of the name.”