Margaret Grey

Married Thomas Vardy of Fenton on 10 November 1780 at Doddington

Buried at St. Bartholomew, Whittingham on the 22 November 1786.

West Fenton farm photographed by Katherine Hutchinson. Reused under Creative Commons licence.
Above: West Fenton was called Fenton Demesne, Fenton Town also called East Fenton, Fenton Mill and Nesbit.

Margaret Grey was the daughter of John Grey of Longhorsley. She may be the daughter baptised at Longhorsley on 22 June 1756. If so then she was 24 when married Thomas Vardy of Fenton at Doddington on 10 November 1780. Her father had just died in about 1779. Nesbit farm was being run by her brothers William and George by 1788 with Thomas Vardy as their nearest neighbour. There are no children on the family tree but three children have been found on family search that could be theirs, all baptised at the United Presbyterian Church in Cheviot Street in Wooler: Ann in 1781, Margaret in 1782 and John in 1783. Margaret was 30 years old when she died. She was buried at Whittingham on the 22 November 1786. The will for Thomas Vardy of Fenton written in 1814 and proved on 8 June 1830 mentions these three children. He died aged 80.
Know all Men by these Presents that we, Mary Vardy of Fenton in the Parish of Wooler in the County of Northumberland Widow Thomas James of Belford in the same County Gentleman and John Grey of East Lilburn in the Parish of Egglington in the County aforesaid Gentleman are held and firmly bound unto the Right Reverend Father in God WILLIAM, by divine Providence Lord Bishop of Durham and to the Right Worshipful JAMES BAKER, Clerk, Master of Arts, his Vicar General and Official principal, lawfully constituted in the Penal Sum of twelve thousand Pounds of good and lawful Money of GREAT BRITAIN, to be paid to the said Reverend Father in GOD, his said Official, or to their certain Attorney, their Executors, Administrators or Assigns; To Which payment, well and truly to be made, we oblige ourselves and each of us by her and him self, jointly and severally, for the whole, our and every of our Heirs, Executors and Administrators, firmly by these Presents, sealed with our Seals, dated the fourteenth Day of January in the Second Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord William the Fourth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Ireland, King, defender of the faith, and in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and thirty two THE Condition of this Obligation is such, that if the above bounded Mary Vardy, Widow, the lawful Relict, and Administratrix of all and singular the Goods, Chattels, Rights, and Credits of John Vardy late of Fenton in the parish of Wooler in the County of Northumberland and Diocese of Durham Gentleman - deceased - - do make or cause to be made a true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the Goods, Chattels, and Credits of the said Deceased, which have or shall come to the Hands, Possession, or knowledge of her the said Administratrix or into the Hands or Possession of any person or Persons for her and the same so made, do exhibit or cause to be exhibited into the Registry of the Consistory Court at Durham at or before the fourteenth Day of July next ensuing: and the said Goods, Chattels, and Credits, and all other the Goods, Chattels, and Credits of the said Deceased at the Time of his Death, which at any Time after shall come to the Hands of the said Administratrix or to the Hands of any other Person or Persons for her do well and truly administer according to Law. And further do make or cause to be made a true and just Account of her said Administration at or before the fourteenth Day of January in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Eight Hundred and thirty three. And all the Rest and Residue of the said Goods, Chattels, and Credits which shall be found remaining upon the said Administratrix’s Account the same being first examined and allowed of by the Judge or Judges for the Time being of the said Court, shall deliver or pay unto such Person or Persons respectively, as the said Judge or Judges by his or their Decree or Sentence, pursuant to the true intent and Meaning of the late Act of Parliament made in the two and twentieth and three and twentieth Years of the Reign of our late Sovereign Lord King Charles the Second, intitled An Act for the better settling of Intestates’ Estates, shall limit and appoint. And if it shall hereafter appear, that any last Will or Testament was made by the said Deceased, and the Executor or Executors therein-named do exhibit the same into the said Court, making Request to have it allowed and approved: accordingly, if the said Administratrix above bounden, being thereunto required, do render and deliver the said letters of Administration, Approbation of such Testament being first had and made in the said Court, then this Obligation to be void, or else to remain in full Force and Virtue. Signed, Sealed, and delivered (being first duly stamped) in the Presence of Wm Proctor Mary Vardy Surrogate Thos James Jn. Grey Under £6000

Letters of administration for Mary Vardy, wife of John, who didn't make a will. The signature of John Gray of East Lilburn can be seen left. Reproduced by permission of Durham University Library. DPR I/3/1832/A7. John Gray with an "a" farmed at East Lilburn and is described as "husbandman" according to the 1851 census. He was born in Scotland in about 1793, married to Isabella, also born in Scotland and had a daughter called Isabella. He is unlikely to be a relation.

This is the last Will and Testament of me Thomas Vardy of Fenton in the County of Northumberland Gentleman made published and declared this twenty third day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight Hundred and Fourteen.- I do direct that all my Just debts funeral expences and the charges of the Probate of this my Will shall in the first place be paid and satisfied. And it is my Will and I do direct that immediately after my decease an account shall be taken of all such Lease and Leases as I may be possessed of at the time of my decease and all the Farming Stock Corn Hay growing Crops Horses Cattle Implements of Husbandry Household Goods and furniture and all other my Personal Estate and Effects whatsoever and wheresoever And that a valuation of all my said Leases Farming Stock and other Effects before mentioned shall be made as soon thereafter as may be by three indifferent Persons one of whom shall be nominated and appointed by my son John Vardy one other by my two Daughters Ann and Margaret Vardy and the third by the two persons first named and the valuation of the said three Persons or any two of them shall be final and conclusive for the purposes of this my Will. And the said valuers shall make all Just and due allowances And do give and bequeath to my said son John one full halfpart of all my said Leases Farming Stock and all other my Effects before mentioned and unto my said Daughter Ann one fourth part thereof and unto my said daughter Margaret one fourth part thereof And it is my Will that if my said son John shall within twelve months after my decease pay unto my said two Daughters the value of their respective shares or give them security for the same to their respective satisfaction then I give and bequeath the whole of the said Leases Farming stock and all other my personal Estate unto my said son absolutely. I give and bequeath unto my sister Margaret one Annuity of twenty five pounds per Annum to be paid from the day of my decease by quarterly payments by my said son and Daughters in proportions to their shares of my Effects hereby bequeathed to them. And I constitute and appoint my said son sole Executor of this my will In Witness whereof I the said Testator Thomas Vardy have hereunto set my Hand and seal the day and year above written. Tho. Vardy Signed sealed published and declared by the said Testator Thomas Vardy as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses Rich Jobson John Grey Edward Nicholson

1830/V1/2 This Will was proved at Durham on the 8th day of June 1830 by John Vardy of Fenton in the parish of Wooler in the County of Northumberland Gentleman the Son and Sole Executor therein named To whom administration was granted He having been first duly sworn by Commission before the Reverend William Haigh, Clerk, Master of ?Arts A Commissioner in this behalf lawfully appointed faithfully to execute and perform the same as usual (Effects sworn under £6000) Burrell ?St

The signature of John Grey on the will of Thomas VARDY, gentleman, of Fenton in the county of Northumberland Date of probate: 8 June 1830 will, 23 December 1814 (DPRI/1/1830/V1/1-2). Reproduced by permission of Durham University Library.
Left: John Grey of Dilston's signature which has some similarities, but it is not thought that he ever lived at East Lilburn in 1832, the year before he moved from Milfield Hill to Dilston.

A family history of the Vardys by R. E. Vardy suggests that the Vardys of Wiltshire, Bury St Edmunds and South Africa are descended from ancestors of this Vardy family. It suggests that Thomas Vardy of Fenton was the brother of an Elizabeth Vardy of Rothill who married William Bolton of Longhorsley. This would mean Thomas of Fenton's father was Thomas Vardy of Rothill. Thomas Vardy born 1682 farmer of Rothill, Whittingham, was said to be the originator of a special breed of horses called the Vardy horse. Mentioned in this history is a letter by G. Aynsley Smith who suggests Thomas's father was John Vardy of Tesbury. As evidence he notes:

Burials 13 Mar 1690 Mary wife of. John Vardy

13 February 1695 George son of John Vardy

12 Nov 1719 Richard Vardy Miller Tesbury"

However the author comments that Thomas may be John’s grandson or son of George or Richard. "Tesbury" seems unlikely. The Vardys are numerous in parish registers around Alnwick and it seems more likely to be Lesbury.

"Thomas Vardy of Fenton born 1783 admitted " tenant in “Halmote court rolls" at age of 12. This was a form of feudal land tenure, which carried right to be admitted by Lord of Manor as one of registered tenants on his estate. It was hereditary; R.E. Vardy suggests that possibly he derived his claim from his mother Ann daughter of Thomas Clarke gentleman of Durham Castle. The Earls of Durham had seats in Fenton & Wooler.

R. E. Vardy's family tree is inserted left but has not been verified and it is thought to be inaccurate.


“The Vardys and Associated families” by R.E.Vardy In family History Tracts Vol. 50 & 52 at Society of Genealogists.

LIVE STOCK NEGLECTED BREEDS OF HORSES. SURVIVAL OF THE CLEVELAND BAY. Upon the subject of horse breeds in Great Britain that have been allowed to run out, a writer in the "Mark-Dane Express" offers the opinion that it is difficult to estimate the loss the country has, sustained by the neglect of breeds of horses which at one time had become established in various parts of the kingdom. These breeds were established primarily because of the need of some such horse. For example, the Clydesdale, or Shire, was utterly unfitted for the work of the Devon shire pack horse or the Chapman horse, as the Cleveland Bay was originally called. On the rough roads, in many places, wheeled traffic was impossible, and the pack horse a necessity. When the utility of the older breeds was shown in other ways they were preserved and bred on more or less scientific lines till the types became thoroughly established. In these breeds there was a lot of horses admirably adapted for draught as well as for lighter work, and as a foundation for strong saddle horses they were invaluable. The breeds to which allusion may be more particularly directed, are the Cleveland Bay, the Devonshire pack horse, the Yorkshire coach horse, the old Holderness cart horse and the Northumberland Vardy horse.

The five breeds enumerated were good, and doing good, but for quite a perfunctory reason they became unfashionable. Then came the spirit of progress and so-called improvement, and whilst one set of breeders endeavored to improve them in in another direction. Then those who bred one direction, another set was equally busy for utility only - that is, for the purposes of the farm. Seeing that certain 'breeds had, so to speak, lost their vogue, got rid of the old -stock as quickly as possible and crossed with the heavy breeds till they had lost the former types.

There are, however, still the Cleveland Bays and Yorkshire coach horses left, and here and there may be a Devonshire pack horse. But the Vardy and the Holderness cart horse have gone. These breeds are lost, and of the former very little is known by the present generation, and even in his native Northumberland he is now scarcely known by name. The books have nothing to say of his history, even that most accurate of historians, the late Cadwallader J. Bates, never once mentions him in his history of Northumberland. What was the original home of the breed-whether it was localised in one corner of the county or spread over the whole of it, I have been unable to discover. That it was rapidly approaching extinction in the latter part of the eighteenth century may well be believed.

The Vardy was a short-legged, active horse of the draught type. He was not a heavy horse, as heavy horses are known nowadays. His bone was very clean, flat and flinty in texture, very like the bone of the Cleveland Bay, and he had no feather in the modern sense of the word. He was under rather than over 16 hands, had fair action and shoulders good enough to carry a saddle. Indeed, when he was "trimmed up," he made a very good weight carrying hack, as he possessed good pace as well as stamina. A horse possessing such characteristics as the Vardy was by the very nature of things in a dangerous position He could be got at from both sides. He could be crossed with the thoroughbred or the hackney to "improve" him in one direction: and with the heavier Clydesdale or Shire to improve him in the other. This is no doubt what took place, and in the process the original breed was lost.

Sir Jacob Wilson remembered a few individuals of the breed that were, he said, fine horses for work. He looked upon their loss as serious, as they had hardy constitutions, had plenty of bone and substance, could carry weight and could get over the ground. There is a theory that they were descended from the horses which carried the Northumbrian men at arms on their raids. Sir Jacob Wilson said he had seen a horse that at any rate had a lot of Vardy blood in him. This was a horse named Silvertail, who travelled the Cleveland district in the sixties. He was bought at Newcastle fair without a pedigree, and was a good looking grey horse with the silver main and tail from which he got his name. He was about 16 hands high, was a very fine mover, had good clean bone, and was a remarkably high couraged horse. The owner had a couple of horses by him, and two better or harder horses he does not think he ever saw. They would have cut a poor figure in a show ring amongst the modern draught breeds, but when they were at their best, they would have made the best of these cut a sorry figure beside them when it came to work. As they could very cleverly manage 25 cwt. loads, or if it came to a pinch even a ton and a half, their powers of draught were sufficient for all practical purposes. In a plough they could work any of the heavier horses to a standstill. The younger horse was as good a harness horse as ever was yoked to a dog cart. This was found out by accident. One morning the owner had a train to catch, and the harness horse came out lame. The grey horse was handy, and put in the dog cart. He covered the four and a half miles to the station within twenty minutes without being touched with the whip.

Digitized newspapers on line. Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918) ( Saturday 25 April 1914

From web site:
The Culley brothers, Mathew and George are credited with introducing the Vardy horse. They were farming Fenton Town farm in 1788, and were close neighbours of both Thomas Vardy and William and George Grey.

"Durham Marriage Bonds.

Dec 4 1771, Thomas Vardy, Whittingham, 21 wdr

Yellowly, Elz, Lowick, 21

Grey, John, Longhorsley."

Research by Julie Simpson shows that the Vardy family is connected to the Coxon family of Howbalk farm and the Jobson family from Widdrington.
HENRY COXON, farmer, Howbalk p Whittingham, 22 November 1797. Wife ELEANOR COXON; daughter JANE COXON; grandson Henry Patterson; sister Margaret Vardy; son RALPH COXON, executor; son-in-law Robert Patterson, Alnwick, executor and his son Robert; Thomas Vardy, Fenton p Wooler, William Morrison, Eslington, Northumberland and John Moffatt, Felkington p Norham, executors. Witnesses: Joshua Crea; Thomas Vardy. Proved: 13 November 1798 by Thomas Vardy, Robert Patterson, John Moffatt and William Morrison; under £5,000.
Howbalk farm from the Ordnance Survey 1864-1867 map Number 030 Whittingham. Photo by Russel Wills © Copyright Russel Wills and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Above: Mountain farm, farmed by the Boltons, Howbalk by the Coxons and Rothill by the Vardys. It seems likely that Thomas Vardy of Fenton was the son of Thomas Vardy of Rothill, who married Mary Anderson, whose sister Patience married John Grey of Middle Ord.
Left: Expanded Vardy tree shows how the family is connected to the Andersons from Glanton and the Boltons.