George Luke and Mary Smith

George Luke was born in 1781 at Pithill, near Chester-le-Street, Durham, England to parents Robert Luke (1733-1793) and Mary Young (1741-1820).

St Mary and St Cuthberts Chester le Street Durham

He was baptised on 1 July 1781 at St Mary and St Cuthbert, Chester-le-Street, Durham.

His father Robert was a pitman, and George was one of nine children born to the couple.

George was a coal miner like his father before him, and led a very busy family life, as he was married four times, having a total of ten children.

Chester-le-Street is a market town and civil parish in County Durham, England and is located 7 miles (11 km) south of Newcastle upon Tyne and 8 miles (13 km) west of Sunderland on the River Wear.

The coal industry was central to the towns prosperity. From the late 17th century, coal was dug in increasing quantities in the region. Mining was centred around the rivers, for transportation by sea to other parts of the country, and Chester-le-Street was at the centre of the coal being dug and shipped away down the Wear, so a centre of coal related communication and commerce sprung up around the mines.

Coal miners Durham England

One of the most tragic episodes in the town’s history and that of the coal industry in NE England occurred during a miners’ strike during the winter of 1811/12. Local collieries  were brought to a standstill by the strike, causing much hardship amongst the people of the town.

The strike was broken on New Year’s Day, 1 January 1812, when the Bishop of Durham, sent a detachment of troops from Durham Castle to force a return to work.

George would have been 30 years old during this strike, so would have certainly been affected. It seems George chose a moment during the strike to marry his first wife Jane.

This is a list of George’s marriages and his 10 children –

1. George Luke and Jane Bell married 9 Nov 1811 Chester le Street, Durham
Jane Bell was born 1790 Chester-le-Street to parents John Bell & Eleanor Potts
Jane Luke died in 1817 at Handenhold, Durham. Children –
*   Mary Ann Luke b 1813 Dipton, Durham
*   Hannah Luke b 1816 Pit Hill, Beamish

2. George Luke and Mary Smith married 8 Nov 1818 Newcastle Upon Tyne
Mary Smith was born around 1795 in Durham.
Mary Luke died in February 1823 at Newbottle aged 22. Children –
*   George Luke 1819-1819 Handenhold, Durham, 8 weeks (Chester le St)
*   Barbara Luke 1821-1825 Newbottle, Durham (Houghton le Spring)
*   Jane (Jenny) Luke 1823-1901 Newbottle, Durham (Houghton le Spring), 3 children,       by 3 fathers.

Garden Street Newbottle, Durham

3. George Luke and Isobella Wilson married 23 August 1824 Washington, Durham
Isabella Wilson was born in 1784# in Washington, Durham
#possible baptism 1784 Chester-le-Street, abode Washington, but that would make her 40 at marriage, and then having five children.
Isabella Luke died in 1842 in Pittington, Durham. Children –
*    George Luke b 1827 Easington Lane, marr Ann Briggs, 2 children
*   Nicholas Luke b 1830 Pittington, imm to USA, marr Susan Hablet, d 1861 Tamaqua,             Pennsylvania, USA
*   Thomas Luke b 1832 Pittington, d 1915 Easington, Durham
*   James Luke b 1833 Pittington, d 1911 Hetton, marr Isabel Taylor 9 children
*   John Luke 1835-1836 Pittington, Durham

4. George Luke married Elizabeth Bates 6 May 1844 St Nicholas, Durham
Elizabeth Bates was born in 1794 in Craghead, Durham.
I haven’t been able to find Elizabeth’s remarriage or burial or census after 1851.

By the 1841 census George, aged 55 was living with his third wife Isabella, aged 45, and three of his children George aged 14, Nicholas aged 11, and James aged 8 in the village of Pittington.

Pittington is made up of the neighbouring settlements of Low Pittington and High Pittington, which were developed for coal mining by Lambton Collieries from the 1820s. High Pittington, the larger of the two, now includes the old hamlet of Hallgarth.

Pittington Durham

After Isabella’s death (sometime between the 1841 census and 1844), George married again in 1844 to Elizabeth Bates.

In the 1851 Census, still in Pittington, fourth wife Elizabeth is taking care of two of George’s children – Nicholas aged 21 and Thomas aged 19, and also a four year old (illegitimate) grandchild, George Luke (son of his daughter Jane/Jenny Luke b 1823).

George died at New Pittington, Durham in 1845, aged 66.  I haven’t been able to find a marriage or burial record for Elizabeth.