A pioneer of a new town

David Payne
David Payne

A RAILWAY line which shaped the region, and gave it a place in history, also influenced David Payne’s life.

Research by the Hartlepool genealogist shows his ancestors had links to the early days of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

David explained: “My grandmother Mary Ann Measor was the daughter of Ann Donkin. I recently discovered that her parents, William and Ann Donkin, were married in Acklam Church in Middlesbrough in 1832.

“The couple were both from Rothbury in Northumberland. It is probable that William Donkin came to Teesside to work on the Stockton & Darlington railway extension to Middlesbrough in 1830.”

A witness at the couple’s wedding was Robert Morrow, a tenant of the first new house to be built in Middlesbrough shortly after 1830.

David believes that, in 1832, William was one of the earliest inhabitants of the “new” town of Middlesbrough, which only started being built in 1830.

He added: “The curate who performed the wedding ceremony was Rev Isaac Benson, well known in the area and who was known as a strict disciplinarian.”

David said the first house to be built in Middlesbrough was in West Street and built by George Chapman who later built St Hilda’s Church in Middlesbrough.

The new house was rented out to Robert Morrow, who was to become the landlord of the King William IV public house.

William Donkin was first listed as a labourer in the town but eventually became a brewers assistant, and then an inn keeper and brewer.

“He must have felt that he was in secure employment and that Middlesbrough was a suitable place to marry and raise a family,” said David, whose story we shall continue to follow.