Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

History – The Lambtons

The Lambtons have been in the area since the beginning of the 13th Century. The family seat is to be found at Lambton Castle, some five kilometres to the west of Penshaw Monument.

The much altered stronghold and stately home became the base for a series of agricultural and industrial ventures.

These saw the family grow in wealth and power until, at their peak in the late 18th Century, they held high position in the military and local politics with successive heads of the family being awarded knighthoods. The first was William Lambton who was knighted by Charles I in 1614.

Joseph Lambton - Roman Catholic Martyr ( ? – 1593)

Joseph was born in the family home Harraton Hall (or possibly South Biddick Hall). He decided to enter the priesthood and was educated at the college of Rheims in France and the English College in Rome where he was ordained in 1589 and sent to England. This was the time when Queen Elizabeth I was persecuting the Roman Catholics and on 27 July 1593 Joseph Lambton was executed for his faith in Newcastle.

John George Lambton – The First Earl of Durham (1792–1840)

John George Lambton was born on 12 April 1792. Like his predecessors he joined the army and served in the 10th Hussars before entering Parliament. After his marriage in 1813 he took on Lambton Castle and the responsibility for the estate and its extensive coal mines.

In the same year, 1813, at the age of 21 John followed his father as the parliamentary representative for Durham. He became Lord Privy Seal in 1830.

He was an active Whig who earned the nickname ‘Radical Jack’ for his association with the Great Reform Bill of 1832.

In January 1828 he was created Baron Durham, then Viscount of Lambton and in March 1833 he was created the First Earl of Durham.

He went to Russia as Ambassador in 1835 and stayed for two years before being sent to Canada in 1838 as Governor–General, a post he held for only five months. Due to ill health, he resigned and returned to England. He died at Cowes on the Isle of Wight on 28 July 1840.

On 10 August he was buried in the family vault at Chester–le–Street. Almost 50,000 people attended the burial, confirming how popular he had become.

Shortly after his death, it was decided to erect a monument to his memory. Public subscription lists were opened and £3,000 was quickly raised.

On 28 August 1844 the Earl of Zetland laid the foundation stone of Penshaw Monument. It was estimated that over 30,000 people attended the ceremony.

Many thanks to Bernadette and Michael Leckenby for this information.