Can you help solve mystery?

HERALD readers have been asked to help with a search into family history.

Wil Gowans, who lives on the Isle of Wight, is trying to find out more about the well-known Woodman family from Morpeth and whether he may be related.

William Woodman, born in 1806, was a respected solicitor, historian and campaigner against slavery and his son Benjamin was the second of the clan to serve as Morpeth Town Clerk.

However, not so much is known about another son, William Benjamin Woodman, who was born in 1837.

He went to college in Percy Street, Newcastle, and married in the city in 1855, before setting off for America where he had children, served in the Union army in the Civil War and died in the 1890s.

His daughter returned to live with the Woodmans at the age of 10, staying with an uncle until she married.

But Mr Gowans is particularly interested in finding out more details about William Benjamin’s wife, Mary Gowans.

At their wedding, the couple claimed to be of full age, which was certainly untrue in the groom’s case.

There were no family witnesses and the groom stated his father’s occupation merely as solicitor.

Mary claimed to be the daughter of a labourer named George.

Mr Gowans is trying to find out if she was a daughter of Morpeth cartman George Gowans/Gowens, whose youngest son James, born in 1841, is mentioned in 1881 council records for complaining about the smell and mess of pigs and slaughtering behind Newgate Street. James’ son Edward was his grandfather.

Anyone who can shed any light on the history is asked to contact Mr Gowans by email to