From Farmers to Railwaymen

Like many people living in 18th century Britain, the Applebys of that era were farmers. The little information we have about the first recorded Appleby of the family line is that he was a shepherd who tended flocks of sheep on the Birkdale Moors to the east of the village of Keld in North Yorkshire. He had some attachment to Hoggarths Farm, one of the bigger farms of the area, but what that connection was is not known. The single reference to an Anthony Appleby indicates he lived in a cottage near the B6270 which is marked on Ordance Survey maps of the moors as Beck Meetings, so named because it is situated near where Crooked Sike Beck flows into Uldale Beck. The cottage and nearby livestock pen were miles from anywhere - the nearest major town was Appleby-in-Westmorland, 26 km to the north-west. It would have been a quiet and lonely existence.

The livestock pen of Beck Meeting on Birkdale Moor is still used today

One can presume he lived there with his wife or partner, as he had a son - Anthony (1625? - 1682) - who he named after himself. No details of the child's mother are known. Information on young Anthony are sketchy - he was born in 1625 or 1635 depending on which piece of information found by past researchers you believe. His birhplace is recorded as Beck Meetings, but he died and was buried on 10th April, 1682 at Kirkby Malzeard, a village 70 km away near Ripon, a place the next four generations of Applebys would call home.

There are no records to confirm this, but it is likely that the Applebys moved from the moors of North Yorkshire to the village of Kirkby Malzeard to provide a better environment for their young son to grow up in. Anthony jr is said to have had two siblings. Their names are not recorded but it seems likely they were Rachel Appleby, who was buried in Dallowgill cemetery on 22nd May 1684, and a Katherine Appleby, who was buried at Larton on 29th October 1686. What age they were when they died is not known, but if they were sisters of Anthony jr, they would have died quite young. There were no other Applebys living at Kirkby Malzeard at the time, and Dallowgill and Larton are both hamlets in the parish of Kirkby Malzeard, and places where future generations of Applebys would reside.

Anthony jr had a son, Henry (1655-1700). Where Henry was born is in doubt - there was an Anthony Appleby born in York in 1885 but whether or not this was the same Anthony Appleby has not been verified, but like his father, he was buried in Kirkby Malzeard. Henry's children were all born at Beckmeeting, Kirkby Malzeard, a farm just outside Kirkby Malzeard village at the end of Appleby Lane (what else would one call a road leading to the Appleby's farm?).

A farmhouse at Carlesmoor. William Appleby's daughter Beatrice and her husband, Christopher Richmond, lived at Carlesmoor

Beckmeeting Farm still exists, but is no longer known by that name. Whether they rented it or owned it is not known, but generally farmers in rural England rented their properties from wealthy aristocrats who owned most of the land. Beckmeeting Farm was the home of Henry and his wife, Mary (nee Lister), and was passed on to their son William and his wife, Beatrice (nee Dallow). These two generations of Applebys had thirteen children between them, living in or around numerous hamlets in the parish of Kirkby Malzeard. It may be coincidence that Beckmeeting Farm at Kirkby Malzeard had the same name as the cottage on the Birkdale Moors, but it is more likely that the Applebys took the name with them when they moved to Kirkby Malzeard.

Kirkby Malzeard moor

Henry had two sons - William (1690 - 1772) and Anthony (1692 - 1722) - and four daughters - Catherine (bap. 24.3.1688); Mary (bap. 23.2.1695); Helen (bap. 24.10.1696); Sarah (bap. 7.5.1698, died 31.10.1711). All were born at Beckmeeting Farm outside Kirkby Malzeard. William appears to have taken over Beckmeeting Farm after his father's death as his 7 children - 2 boys and five girls - were all born there.

Houses on Bowler's Hill, Mickley

William's eldest son Robert (born 1629) inherited Beckmeeting Farm. His younger brother William (1734-1805), who was the great great grandfather of James Appleby who migrated with his family to Australia and settled in Bathurst, NSW, moved to Mickley when he married Ann Bearpark in 1768. There he stayed until around the turn of the 19th century, when he and most of the Appleby clan of the parish of Kirkby Malzeard, who by then numbered around 20, moved into the Darlington and Newcastle-upon-Tyne areas. William and his family moved to Hurworth-on-Tees, William's son George moved to Walls End, others settled in Gateshead. What became of Robert and how long he stayed on at Beckmeeting Farm in Kirkby Malzeard is not known.

Their move from country to town was part of a major shift in population across the British Isles at that time, brought on by the Industrial Revolution, which took place from the 18th to 19th centuries. It was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the late 1700s, manufacturing was often done in people's homes, using hand tools or basic machines. Farming families like the Appleby's brought their produce to markets held in designated market towns, of which Kirkby Malzeard was one. There they would sell their produce and at the same time purchase clothing, furniture and household goods created by the villagers. Life for the average person was difficult, as incomes were meagre, and malnourishment and disease were common.

Industrialisation marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles in the Industrial Revolution, which also saw improved systems of transportation, communication and banking. The two places where the Appleby's moved to - Darlington and Newcastle - were both leading centres of the industrial revolution that was taking place, and the opportunty to earn a regular income and lift their standard of living would have been a major influence in their decision to abandon farming and join the revolution.

Settling at Hurworth-on-Tees proved to be a wise move. In the early 1800s, British engineer Richard Trevithick (1771-1833) constructed the first railway steam locomotive in Cornwall, but it was the Stockton and Darlington Railway that became the world's first public railway to use steam locomotives, first connecting collieries near Shildon with Stockton-on-Tees and Darlington, then establishing the world's first passenger rail service, from Shildon to Stockton on 27 September 1825.

The new railway line ran within a kilometre of Hurworth-on-Tees. They would have heard the steam engines chugging along and seen the smoke from the locomotives from their house each time a train went up or down the line. So it comes as no surprise that William's son Christopher and his grandson James - who later moved to Australia and settled in Bathurst - both turned to the railways for employment, a tradition that was continued in Australia by James's sons.

Above: Sockburn All Saints Church, where James Appleby and Ann Bell were married, 23rd November 1805.

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