The Border Reivers

The family name – meaning a farm belonging to a person of low birth – is associated with the small village of Charlton near Bellingham in Northumberland.

They were an active English reiving family, known for their riding skills.  Hesleyside Hall, near Bellingham was the seat of the Charltons and is the subject of a Northumbrian melody ‘The Hesleyside Reel’.  Their favourite feuding partners were the Scott family of Buccleugh near Hawick in Scotland.

A Charlton tradition existed that when the larder was empty a spur would be presented to hint that if the family wanted food they would have to go raiding -which they were known to enjoy.

In 1711, William Charlton was involved in a fight with Henry Widdrington of Buteland, which resulted in his opponent’s death. Widdrington’s family deliberately buried his body by the door of the Charlton family’s pew  in their church,  requiring William Charlton to step over the grave each time he entered. 

The Charlton surname is still very common throughout Northumberland and made  famous by the footballing brothers Bobby and Jack.