Famous people from North East England of the past and present
Surnames beginning with:
Auf Wiedersehen Oz
Real name James Bradford. Newcastle-born actor, producer, singer and shipbuilder’s son who rose to prominence after he was cast in the part of the Geordie brickie Oz Osbourne in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Nail created and co-wrote with Ian La Frenais, the Tyneside-based police drama Spender (in which he played the starring role) with additional script writing from sister, Val McLane. Nail also wrote and starred in the series Crocodile Shoes about a country and western singer with songs for the series written by Paddy McAloon. Nail’s hits as a singer-songwriter include Crocodile Shoes, Ain’t no Doubt and the Tyne inspired song Big River. A cover of the Rose Royce song Love Don’t Live Here Anymore was another hit for Nail.
The Nevilles : Barons
Durham Barons with Anglo-Saxon Roots
The Nevilles were one of the most powerful English familes of the Middle Ages, descended from Uhtred, an Anglo-Saxon Northumbrian noble of the ancient line of Bamburgh, and himself a descendant of King Malcolm II of Scotland. In the twelfth century Uhtred’s son Dolfin held the family seat of Staindrop near Raby in Teesdale. Dolfin’s son Maldred was father of Robert Fitzmeldred who married Isabel De Neville, a Norman whose family are named from a place in France. Their son Geoffrey Neville adopted his mother’s surname. Geoffrey’s son, Robert Neville supported Henry III during Simon De Montfort’s rebellion and Robert’s grandson was Ranulf, the 1st Baron Neville (1262-1331). Ranulf’s eldest son was Robert Neville, ‘the Peacock of the North’ who was slain at Berwick by the fearsome Scottish noble ‘The Black Douglas’ in 1319. Robert’s younger brother, Ralph (1291-1367) was captured by Douglas but ransomed and released. He became Ralph Neville, the 2nd baron and successfully commanded the English forces at the Battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346. For the honour he became the first layman buried in Durham Cathedral. Ralph’s son, John Neville the 3rd Baron (1337-1388) fought alongside his father at Neville’s Cross. He was appointed Governor of Aquitaine and in 1378 converted the family seat of Raby into Raby Castle. John’s sister, Margaret was the wife of Henry Percy, first Earl of Northumberland and mother to Harry Hotspur Percy (see also). When John died at Newcastle in 1388 he was buried in line with his wishes at Durham Cathedral though his tomb was later mutilated by Scots during the Civil War of the 1640s. John’s son and successor was Ralph Neville (1364-1425) the first Earl of Westmorland.
The Nevilles : Earls
Powerful County Durham Family
Ralph Neville (1364-1425) of Raby Castle features in Shakespeare’s Henry V. He was appointed Earl of Westmorland in 1397 for his services to King Richard II and gained the Honour of Richmond with extensive lands in North Yorkshire. Ralph married twice, firstly to Margaret Stafford, daughter of the Earl of Stafford and then, after her death, to Joan Beaufort daughter of John of Gaunt. Through this marriage Ralph supported the royal claims of his brother in law, Henry Bollingbroke, Duke of Lancaster. In 1399 Richard II was deposed and Bollingbroke became Henry IV. Later, when the Percys rose against Henry, Neville supported the king and defeated the Percys at Topcliffe in Yorkshire. Neville had several children from his two marriages and this caused a rift in the family. Sir John Neville, Ralph’s eldest son, by Margaret, died before Ralph so the Raby inheritance went to Sir John’s son, Ralph the 2nd Earl of Westmorland (1406-1484). However this Ralph struggled to assert his rights to the Neville lands of Middleham Castle in Wensleydale claimed by the Beaufort side of the family (See Cecily Neville). Ralph, who was married to Elizabeth Percy, daughter of Hotspur had no surviving children and was succeeded by his nephew, Ralph Neville, the 3rd Earl (1456-99) who is buried at Brancepeth. His grandson, Ralph the 4th earl (1498-1549) was present at the Field of Cloth of Gold and this Ralph’s son, Henry the fifth earl (1525-1563) took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. His son, Charles the Sixth Earl of Westmorland (1542-1601) was the last earl who in 1569 led the failed Rising of the North against Elizabeth I accompanied by Henry, the 7th Earl Percy. Unlike the unfortunate Percy, Charles fled to Holland to escape capture and execution where he died in 1601. His lands of Brancepeth and Raby were confiscated and in 1626 Raby was purchased by the Vane family. Raby’s present owner, Lord Barnard is descended from members of the Neville and Vane family lines.
Cecily ‘Rose of Raby’ Neville
Mother of Kings, Aunt to the Kingmaker
Cecily Neville, daughter of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmorland and Joan Beaufort was born at Raby Castle in 1415 and known as ‘The Rose of Raby’. At the age of nine she was betrothed to Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and they married in 1429. She gave birth to future kings, Edward IV in 1442 and Richard III in 1452. It was around this time that Cecily’s nephew, Richard Neville (1428-1471) a grandson of Ralph, started his rise to power. He came to be known as ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’ the most powerful figure in the Wars of the Roses. His father, also called Richard, was the son of Ralph Neville and through marriage became Earl of Salisbury, a title that would also pass to his son. The ‘kingmaker’ himself married Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick and through her became Earl of Warwick in addition to the Salisbury title. From his Yorkshire base at Middleham Castle in Wensleydale he was the wealthiest, man in the land. Initially supporting the Yorkists he deposed Henry VI and secured the coronation of Cecily’s son as King Edward IV. He subsequently fell out with Edward in 1470 and the king was ousted. Warwick placed Henry temporarily back on the throne but then Warwick was killed in battle near London in 1471. King Edward was restored and continued to reign until his death in 1483. The king’s two sons, the uncrowned Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, were imprisoned in the Tower of London where they subsequently died. Their uncle, Richard was crowned Richard III with Ann Neville (the kingmaker’s daughter) as his wife and queen. Richard’s reign was short, ending in death and defeat to Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field in 1485. In 1487 King Henry VII married Elizabeth of York, a granddaughter of Cecily Neville and in 1491 Elizabeth gave birth to the future King Henry VIII. It is remarkable that Cecily, the Rose of Raby, who died in 1495, lived through all these remarkable events in her family’s story.
Mike Neville MBE
Geordie Legend Anchor Man
Willington Quay-born TV anchorman for BBC Look North and Tyne Tees Television. The face of North East television news and North East regional magazine programmes for four decades. As a young man he had worked in repertory theatre for Newcastle Playhouse. He joined the new station Tyne Tees Television in 1962 briefly presenting their North East Newsview programme in 1964 before moving to BBC Look North. During his time at the BBC he and fellow presenter George House were noted for their humorous Geordie sketches including recordings of Scott Dobson’s Larn Yersel’ Geordie. Neville returned to Tyne Tees to present North East Tonight in 1996 up until his retirement in 2005.
Comedian and actor from Cramlington, Northumberland especially noted for the spontaneity of his random observation stand-up comedy and for his mad cap contributions to comedy panel shows. Was a member of the youth theatre at Newcastle’s People’s Theatre in Heaton and studied performing arts at Newcastle College.
Bruce Oldfield OBE
Man of Fashion
Fashion designer, Bruce Oldfield was born in Hammersmith, London to a Jamaican father but was taken into the care of Barnardo’s and fostered by a family in the village of Hett near Spennymoor where he lived for 12 years along with four other foster children. His foster mother, Violet Masters to whom he dedicated his autobiography Rootless worked as a seamstress to make ends meet. As a teenager Oldfield moved back into Barnardo’s Care and was educated in Ripon furthering his education at St Martin’s School of Art in London. Oldfield’s clients as a fashion designer have included Joan Collins, Jerry Hall, Diana Princess of Wales, Melanie Griffith, Sienna Miller and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
King of the North
King of Northumbria and later a saint. The son of Æthelfrith of Bamburgh, a king of Bernicia (northern Northumbria). Oswald converted to Christianity following victory over the Welsh king Cadwallon at the Battle of Heavenfield near Hexham in 634AD. He prayed to the Christian god for victory before battle to test out the faith. Oswald, who had lived in exile on the Scottish island of Iona as a boy employed an Irish missionary called Aidan (St Aidan) from Iona to convert the Northumbrians who were mostly pagan. Aidan chose Lindisfarne as a Christian centre. Oswald became Bretwalda or overking of all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. He was killed in battle in the midlands fighting Penda, King of Mercia at a place that came to be called Oswestry. Oswald’s head is buried in Durham Cathedral and St. Cuthbert is often depicted holding it.
Bob Paisley OBE
Liverpool Legend, Hetton Heart
Hetton-le-Hole born footballer and manager. Born into a mining family, Paisley played for Eppleton Junior School and Hetton FC. He worked briefly as a miner before becoming a bricklayer. He was rejected by boyhood heroes Sunderland for being too small and signed for Bishop Auckland, playing in the FA Amateur cup final for the Bishops at Roker Park. Signed professional for Liverpool in 1939 and served alongside Liverpudlians in the war. When his playing career ended in 1954 he stayed on as physio and then reserve coach becoming manager in 1974. Paisley’s extraordinary achievements as Liverpool manager include six league championships, three league cups, three European cups and one UEFA cup. A memorial can be seen to Paisley in his home town of Hetton.
Sir Charles Mark Palmer
1822 – 1907
The Jarrow Shipbuilder
Shipbuilder, entrepreneur, MP for North Durham and Baronet, born South Shields. Palmer was the son of a Tyneside ship owner and worked as a lad in Marseilles where work was found for him by his father. Palmer had an eye for business which saw him progress into colliery management then colliery ownership and then shipbuilding. He established a shipyard at Jarrow which saw the then village develop into a major industrial town. Palmer was noted for building The John Bowes which was the first iron screw collier ship. In the 1930s the closure of Palmer’s shipyard during an era of economic decline had a major impact on the town of Jarrow and resulted in the Jarrow ‘hunger march’ to London.
Woman of Words
Women’s fiction author. Born Eaglescliffe near Stockton-on-Tees, her titles (currently 15) have all been best sellers including the 2005 novel Husbands which sold a quarter of a million copies.
Charles Algernon Parsons
Tyneside engineer who invented the compound steam turbine and the famed vessel Turbinia which was by far the fastest ship in the world at the time (preserved in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum). Telescopes, optics and searchlights were amongst other areas of Parsons ‘ expertise. Parsons was the son of the Earl of Rosse, a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy who was a noted astronomer. Though born in London and educated at Cambridge business and industry brought Charles to Newcastle where he worked for W.G Armstrong’s engineering works and then Clarke Chapman and Co before forming his own Tyneside company in 1889 for the manufacture of turbo generators. The first power station in the world to use such generators was at Newcastle’s Forth Banks. Facilitating the mass generation of electrical power arguably makes Parsons ‘the man who invented the twentieth century’.
Railway Maker Quaker
Quaker businessman and railway pioneer from Darlington who was the man behind the development of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The son of a Darlington woollen manufacturer Pease wished to facilitate the movement of coal from south Durham to the River Tees for shipment, considering first a canal, then a horse-drawn railway and then opting for a steam railway through his own foresight and the influence of George Stephenson who he employed. Pease ensured that the line from the south Durham coalfield to Stockton-on-Tees passed through his hometown of Darlington.
The Maker of Middlesbrough
Darlington businessman and railway pioneer, the son of Edward Pease and founder of the town of Middlesbrough. In 1829 Joseph Pease was the head of a group of Quaker businessmen who purchased the land of a farm called Middlesbrough near the River Tees where around 25 people lived and worked. Here he intended to develop a port called ‘Port Darlington’ to which the Stockton and Darlington Railway was extended for the shipment of coal. A planned town was built on the site – which became the town of Middlesbrough.
The Percys : Barons
The Percy family of Northumberland, closely associated with Alnwick and Warkworth were for centuries arguably the most powerful family in the North in the Middle Ages and could only be matched by the Nevilles of Durham and Yorkshire in political stature. Taking their name from a place in France these powerful barons arrived with William the Conqueror and were initially granted lands in Yorkshire. In 1309 Henry Percy (1273-1314) purchased Alnwick Castle from Anthony Bek (see also), the Bishop of Durham and the Percy association with Northumberland began. Henry was succeeded by his son, Henry Percy (1299-1352) who acquired Warkworth in 1328. This Henry fought at the Battle of Hallidon Hill near Berwick and Battle of Neville’s Cross near Durham. His son, the third Henry Percy (1321-1368) was a Warden of the Marches and played an important role defending the border from the Scots. This role was also continued by his son the fourth baron Henry Percy who was appointed Earl of Northumberland in 1377.
The Percys : Earls
Rebels, Plotters, People of Power
Henry the 4th baron Percy (1341-1400) was appointed First Earl of Northumberland in 1377 by Richard II. The first nine earls were all called Henry and many were heavily involved in defending the Border from the Scots. The title Earl of Northumberland should not be confused with the Earls of Northumbria of Anglo-Saxon times. The first earl was a serial rebel and plotted against King Richard, supporting Henry Bollingbroke who became Henry IV. The earl and his son Hotspur (see also) subsequently led rebellions against Henry IV. Hotspur died in battle in 1403 and Percy himself was killed at Bramham Moor. The Second Earl (1393-1455) was Hotspur’s son. He and his son, the Third Earl (1421-1461) were both involved in feuds with the Nevilles. The Fourth Earl (1449-1489) commanded a wing in support of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth but his troops did not commit and there is a suspicion of treason. The Fifth Earl (1502-1537) fought for his king in France at the Siege of Thérouanne and Battle of the Spurs. The Sixth Earl (1502-1537) was betrothed to Anne Boleyn as a young man but his father would not give permission. He instead married Lady Mary Talbot but they had no children. His brother Thomas Percy was executed at Tyburn for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion against Henry VIII and was the father of the Seventh Earl (1528-1572), a catholic sympathiser who was beheaded at York for leading the Rising of the North rebellion against Elizabeth I in 1569. The Eighth Earl was an MP for Morpeth and Governor of Tynemouth Castle. The Ninth Earl (1564-1632) was imprisoned in the Tower of London for seventeen years, largely because a distant relative and associate called Thomas Percy had been one of the chief instigators of the Gunpowder Plot. The Tenth Earl, Algernon Percy (1602-1668) fought for the parliamentarians in the English Civil War. His son, Joceline Percy, the Eleventh Earl (1644-1670) had no sons but his daughter Elizabeth Seymour Duchess of Somerset was the heir to the family estates. Her son, Algernon Seymour was father to another Elizabeth Seymour who married Henry Smithson (1714-1786), who adopted the name Percy and was given the title First Duke of Northumberland. The present Duke of Northumberland is descended from this line.
Harry ‘Hotspur’ Percy
Henry ‘Harry Hotspur’ Percy was a nobleman and rebel from Northumberland who was immortalised by Shakespeare in Henry IV part I. The son of the Earl of Northumberland, Hotspur was born at either Alnwick or Warkworth in Northumberland and was called ‘Hotspur’ from his temperament and desire for battle and played an important role in defending England from the Scots. He also rebelled against the reigning monarch Henry IV and died in battle at Shrewsbury fighting against him. Lands in the Tottenham marshes area of London that belonged to his descendants are said to have given their name to the football club there.
Alan Plater CBE
Close the Coalhouse Door
Jarrow-born writer, playwright and screenwriter. Work includes the Beiderbecke Trilogy and the musical Close the Coalhouse Door – a collaboration with songwriter Alex Glasgow. Other TV credits include Dalziel and Pascoe, Z-Cars and Selwyn Froggitt.
Lt. Colonel James Porter
Brewer of the Dog
Inventor of Newcastle Brown Ale, Lieutenant Colonel Porter was a third generation brewer born in Burton on Trent and was the Managing Director of the Newcastle Brewery in Newcastle upon Tyne. He served in the military in Staffordshire and moved to Newcastle upon Tyne after World War One, introducing Newcastle Brown Ale in 1927. Brewing of ‘Broon’ aka ‘Dog’ moved to Tadcaster in 2010.
Follow the Geordie Boys
Keyboard player with The Animals and later a solo musician and singer. Born Fatfield, Washington, raised and educated Jarrow. Following The Animals, Price formed his own band the Alan Price Set and collaborated with R&B jazz singer and musician Georgie Fame. Notable work by Price includes the music score for the film O Lucky Man and the score for the musical Andy Capp. His Jarrow Song about the Jarrow March begins with lyrics: “My name is Geordie McIntyre…” and the chorus includes the line“Come on Follow the Geordie Boys, they’ll fill your heart with joy…”
Bishop Hugh Pudsey
Hugh Du Puiset. Ultra-powerful Prince Bishop of Durham. Earl of Northumberland, Chief Justiciar of England and Regent of the North. Instigator of the Boldon Buke (Durham’s version of the Domesday Book) Pudsey issued the charters establishing the boroughs of Gateshead and Sunderland set in motion early urban development in much of the north.