The Northumberland At War project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to mark the centenary of the First World War, set out to examine the county’s archive collections for material illustrating local aspects of the war. Much of this content was previously ‘hidden’, perhaps within uncatalogued collections, and the work carried out by many volunteers makes it accessible for the first time.
Several of the resulting documents which have particular reference to Berwick and North Northumberland are made available here (PDF format).
As a result of the National Registration Act passed in July 1915, all men and women between the ages of 15 and 65, who were not members of the Armed Forces, were required to register with their Local Authority. Berwick Town Council kept registers of people moving in and out of the town, and this is a very useful source for family historians, particularly as electoral registers were not compiled during this period and did not include women.
Register of removals within Berwick, from August 1915 to June 1919 (D8-10) This register covers change of address within Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal.
On 27th January 1916 the Military Services Bill became law. The Act introduced the compulsory enlistment of every man aged between 18 and 41. Under the Act, Military Service tribunals were formed by Borough, Urban District, and Rural District Councils to hear applications for exemption from conscription. Very few records of the tribunals have survived – many were destroyed in the years immediately after the War upon the orders of the Government. However, the business of the tribunals was reported in local newspapers. The following index lists the Military Tribunals for Berwick which were reported in the Berwick Advertiser during the year 1916.
Petty Sessions courts were organised within a county on a divisional basis. The Courts were presided over by two or more Justices of the Peace who made decisions without recourse to a Jury. They met as often as they were cases to hear which could be every couple of days, depending on local circumstances. The records of cases are useful for genealogical information and for social history of the period.
Glendale Petty Sessions 1915 – 1920 (covering the area around Wooler, including Milfield, Lowick and Kirknewton)
Norham & Islandshire Petty Sessions 1915 – 1923 (covering the area from Cornhill across to Holy island)
After the end of the First World War, men from Berwick who had served in the armed forces during the war were given the status of Freemen of Berwick for their lifetime. The list of those who received this includes their Berwick addresses, their occupation, and information about their service record.
The banner image at the top of this page shows troops assembled at Berwick railway station during World War 1 (Photo: Berwick Record Office).