People from the past
Anne Isabella Byron (17 May 1792 – 16 May 1860)
Anne Isabella Milbanke (her name before she was married) was the only child of Sir Ralph Milbanke, Baronet and his wife, Lady Judith Milbanke. In 1792 Sir Ralph Milbanke moved from Dalden Tower to Seaham Hall. He extended and rebuilt the main hall more or less how we see it now. She was a very gifted child and her parents hired a tutor, a former Cambridge University professor. Her education included classical literature, philosophy and more unusually for the times science and mathematics at which she excelled.
In March 1812 Annabella as she was known by her friends met Lord Byron-the poet. Byron proposed to Annabella in October 1812 but she turned him down.
In August 1813 Annabella started writing to Byron again and Sir Ralph Milbanke invited Byron to visit Seaham Hall. Byron again asked Annabella to marry him and this time she accepted. They were married in Seaham Hall on the 2 January 1815. Byron was in debt, mainly because he refused the money for his written works (he didn’t think he was being paid enough). He became very moody and his poems from that time and about his life in Seaham shows he was not very happy.
On December 10 1815 Lady Byron gave birth to Ada their only child.
In January 1816 Byron suggested Annabella and Ada should return to her parents home in Leicestershire (the Milbankes had several homes including Seaham Hall) In March 1816 Lord and Lady Byron agreed to be separated. Lord Byron left England soon after this and never returned.
In 1821 the Milbankes sold Seaham Hall to Charles William Stewart. Lord Byron died in Greece on April 19th 1824. Annabella committed herself to other causes such as prison reform and abolition of slavery whilst bringing up her daughter Ada.
More information can be found at International Byron Society page.
Augusta Ada King- Countess of Lovelace 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852)
Ada Lovelace the daughter of Lord Byron and Lady Byron (Annabella Milbanke) was a gifted mathematician and schooled privately by the same tutor as her mother, William Frend, as well as William King and Mary Somerville (Mary Somerville was a noted researcher and scientific author of the 19th Century). Mary Somerville introduced Ada to Charles Babbage in 1833
In 1835 she married William King, 8th Baron King, later 1st Earl of Lovelace. They had three children, Byron, Annabella and Ralph.
From 1842-3 Ada translated Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Babbage’s new machine-the Analytical Engine. She also added a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers within the machine and which historians now recognise as the worlds first computer program.
You can find out more information about Ada at the Computer History Museum.
3rd Marquess of Londonderry 1778-1854
Charles William Stuart, later Vane and nicknamed Fighting Charlie was born in Dublin, educated at Eton and at the age of 16 became a lieutenant in the British Army. He had various appointments and by 1813 was made Colonel of the 25th Light Dragoons.
In 1819 he married his second wife-Frances Anne Vane-Tempest who at 19 was the daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest who owned several coalmines near to Durham. In 1821 he brought Seaham Hall from Sir Ralph Milbanke and in 1822 he became the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.
The Penshaw and Rainton collieries in 1822 earned the family £61,364 whilst the miners themselves only earned a few pounds a year. The cost of shipping coal along the River Wear to Sunderland was £10,000 a year and so Londonderry decided to build a tramway and then a railway to Seaham and a harbour that could take the coal to market.
In 1823 he was created Earl Vane and Viscount Seaham in recognition of his works in Seaham. By 1828 the foundation stone of the harbour was laid and the first coal ships departed the harbour in 1831. A number of mines were also opened up in the area at Seaham and Seaton for the Londonderrys. The influence of the Londonderrys can be seen throughout Seaham through the layout of the town around the harbour but also in many street names.