Thomas Otterson and Ann Spraggon
  Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland  - County Durham - England
  Born about 1720s, married 1749
On the west side of the Corn Market, in a court called Half Moon Lane off High Street, Bishopwearmouth, stood the first Presbyterian chapel in the Sunderland area. It had been built in 1711, when the total population of Sunderland together with the neighboring parishes of Monkwearmouth and Bishopwearmouth on opposite sides of the river Wear, numbered a mere 5,000 or so.

It is the *christening records from this independent chapel that give us the earliest known records of any complete Otterson family in County Durham. Thomas Otterson - sometimes rendered Outerson -  was married on 4 May 1749 to the former Ann Spraggon, at the *parish church of St. Michael, Bishopwearmouth, but his six known children were all christened at the old Corn Market chapel.

Almost nothing is known of this family. Even the names of the children on the baptismal register are spelled differently. Mary Otterson came first, born 27 June 1750. Next came two sons - Joseph born 8 October 1752, and Thomas on 7 February 1755. Their surnames, like the two sisters that came after them, are spelled “Aterson” in the register. Ann was born 17 April 1757, followed by Isabella on 26 August 1759. The last son christened at the church was William, born 19 November 1763, and whose name was written as “Outterson.”

Research is continuing into this family, and especially with a view to identifying one of the sons as father to Nicholas Otterson, born in Sunderland in 1783, which would then provide an unbroken line of Ottersons from the 21st century back for 300 years.

One of the children of this Thomas Otterson family emerges in the historical record as a person of special interest, however. Daughter Ann married George Seymour at Bishopwearmouth in 1779. Their son Thomas Seymour, christened in 1783 at the same Corn Market chapel, was convicted at the York Assizes in 1809 of stealing a horse . He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to transportation for life to Australia. Thomas’s subsequent life in New South Wales is well documented. He is even listed on court records as Thomas Seymour, alias Outterson, apparently choosing occasionally to use his mother’s name. For a more complete history of Thomas and his descendants, see the website at the foot of this article.

The appearance of the name Outterson or Outerson has created some confusion. Outterson is a Scottish name, not English. Its origins are ancient. However, the best current researchers believe there is no link between the Outtersons of Scotland and the Ottersons of County Durham. The chance misspelling of Otterson as Outerson in the Corn Market chapel records and elsewhere have no special significance. In the mid-1700s, there was little standardized spelling, and most people could neither read nor write. Semi-literate clerks often made such mistakes in their records, especially when regional accents gave variations to vowels at the start of names. For all practical purposes, the Ann Aterson or Outerson born in 1757 can be regarded as part of the Ottersons of County Durham.  

 Film 0593805 Items 3-4, Births and baptisms at Corn Market Chapel, High Street in Sunderland, 1717-1837. Independent Church (Sunderland, Durham). Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969.
 Parish register transcripts, St Michael’s, Bishopwearmouth, 1567-1924; Joiner Marriage index.

For information about Thomas Seymour and his descendants in Australia, see the book by Marion Starr, “Murder, Mayhem and Misdemeanors,” a thoroughly researched work on early convict settlement at the Cowpasture River, NSW from 1810-1830 (

For information about the unrelated Scottish Outtersons and their descendants, see “The Outterson family: a history of the Outterson family, 1710-1995 : biographical sketches and lineage charts, by John A. Outterson. 

 Return to “The People” name index





Parents of
Thomas Otterson
Father: Unknown 
Mother: Unknown
Ann Spraggon
Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown

The Otterson Families of Northeast England and related lines                                  To share information or comment on this site, contact the webmaster: Michael Otterson

Children of 
Thomas Otterson and Ann Spraggon
Mary Otterson, born 27 June 1750
Joseph Aterson, born 8 October 1752
Thomas Aterson, born 7 February 1755
Ann Aterson, born 17 April 1757
Isabella Aterson, born 26 August 1759
William Outterson, born 19 November 1763


Thomas Seymour’s sentence of death was commuted to transportation to Australia for life, 15 July 1809 (fourth from bottom of page).

From Australian Convict Transportation Registers, 1791-1868, HO11/2


Index and Links to Otterson families on this site

For reasons of privacy, only deceased persons are featured on this site in any detail.

Thomas Otterson and Ann Spraggon - 1720s - 1780s
Nicholas Otterson and Jane Middlemas - 1783-1870
Elizabeth Otterson and Thomas Parker - 1817-1855
Elizabeth Otterson and George Blake - 1855-1898
Nicholas Otterson and Hannah Calvert - 1826-1880
John Otterson and Isabella Kane - 1828-1904
John Otterson and Jane Storey - 1845-1919
Robert Otterson and Lizzie Abernethy - 1881-1970
James Otterson and Jessie Abernethy - 1884-1960
Mary Otterson and William Smith - 1907-
Thomas Otterson and Cecilia Allen - 1909-1995
Robert Otterson and Doris Dix - 1911-1977
Doris Otterson - 1913-1999
William Otterson and Doris Hill - 1916-1993
Michael Otterson and Catherine Berry - 1948-otterson_nicholas_and_jane_1783.htmlotterson_elizabeth_and_thomas_parker_1816.htmlotterson_elizabeth_and_george_blake_from_1855.htmlotterson__nicholas_and_hannah_1825.htmlotterson__john_and_isabella_1828.htmlotterson__john_and_jane_1845.htmlotterson_robert_and_abernethy_lizzie.htmlotterson_robert_and_james_army_1.htmlotterson_robert_and_doris_1911_p1.htmlotterson_michael_catherine_index.htmlshapeimage_11_link_0shapeimage_11_link_1shapeimage_11_link_2shapeimage_11_link_3shapeimage_11_link_4shapeimage_11_link_5shapeimage_11_link_6shapeimage_11_link_7shapeimage_11_link_8shapeimage_11_link_9shapeimage_11_link_10

For details of the family tree of Thomas Otterson and Ann Soraggon, click on the WorldConnect icon below. This will open a window for these individuals in the Otterson-Berry family tree at, a free site.