Joseph Cameron

Joseph Cameron was the second child and eldest son (of seven) born to John Cameron III and his wife Mary at Wigton in Cumberland (now Cumbria). John was probably a coal miner – we have no information on this but there was a coal mining industry at Wigton and John’s descendants would be coal-miners as long as there were pits in Britain.

When Joseph was fifteen, I believe his father died. The parish records state that on 13 September 1819 John Cameron was buried and George Cameron, son of John Cameron, was baptised. There could have been a mistake in the dates. On the other hand, the unfortunate Mary may well have had to endure this sad day.


Possibly the whole family moved to Dearham after John Cameron’s death. There are marriage records at Dearham which could easily relate to Joseph’s brothers William, John and Robert, and later census records there for John and William.

We do know that Joseph himself had moved to Dearham by 1828, when he married Betsy Gibson. In 1841 they were living in the Ellenborough district of Dearham, Cumberland, where Betsey was born. They had seven children aged from one month to 12 years old.


By 1851 the family has moved across the Pennines to the Crook and Billy Row district in Durham. All seven children are still at home, the three eldest sons are coal miners like their father, the next two aged 15 and 13 are “putters”. These boys wouldn’t hew coal, but were underground workers in the pit moving the tubs of coal from place to place. The two youngest children, aged 12 and 10, are “scholars at home”.

In the 1861 census the Camerons and four of their sons have moved again, to Medomsley near Consett, where the men are all coal miners in the Durham coalfield. Presumably their daughter and older sons had left home by now.

In 1871, Joseph is widowed and has retired to Crook. He has three of his sons still with him. John is married to Hannah, from Truro in Cornwall, and they have three children. Edward and Edmondson (sometimes Emmerson), now in their thirties, are still unmarried. All three sons are coal miners.


Robert, our ancestor, has moved to Chesterfield and married Esther Ward. They are established in The Square with their four children and he is now working in the Derbyshire coal industry.

Joseph died in 1873 but it’s interesting to see that in the 1881 census, John has inherited his father’s house and his brothers are still with him. Edward and Edmondson are still unmarried and all the men of the family are still working in the pit. A third generation has joined them: 14-year-old John junior is a pony driver. John’s two daughters aged 16 and 18 are domestic servants.

There’s plenty of scope for further research in this branch of the family – how did Hannah come to be so far from home? Did the uncles ever marry? Did John Jnr inherit the house in due course? What happened to his sisters?

Father of Robert, son of Mary and John Cameron III

Born Joseph Cameron (various spellings) in 1804 in Wigton, Cumberland

Married Betsey Gibson on 15 November 1828

Died late 1873

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