A French Invasion

Research often turns up oddities, and information is sometimes found where you least expect it. Parish registers are legal documents, so can sometimes turn up information that is lost elsewhere. For centuries, coastal towns in Britain  were subject to raiding parties, inhabitants often hid in the parish church for shelter. The entire town of Baltimore in Ireland was carried away by raiders. This is from Highways & Byways of Northumberland.

Less than a hundred years ago there was a curious tradition that Widdrington had at one time been devastated by a foreign invasion, It has ben prove that the French landed on the coast by the following extract from the parish book of Bellingham in the county of Durham.

“July 31st 1692. Collected in ye parish church of Billingham in ye county palatine of Durham, for a brief for ye inhabitants of Drudge Widdrington Chibborne for a losse by ye French landing there three shillings, seen pence.”

No history book refers to this and it would be interesting to know if any remembrance of a two-centuries ago panic in these hamlets was awakened with the threat of the German invasion recently, and particular precautions were taken at Druridge Bay.

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