SOUTHERN Isabella Jane (1849 – 1912)


Situated in the Unconsecrated/East Section of Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Isabella Jane Southern nee Barkas.

Isabella Jane Southern was the only daughter of Thomas Pallister Barkas and Isabella Barkas nee Gow.

In 1876, she married James Proctor Southern and her children, Mary, was born in 1877, and William, in 1879. They lived in Granville Road, Jesmond.

James worked in the family business, W. Southern and Sons, Timber Merchants.

Isabella was well know for her poetry and in 1891 she had a book published called ‘Sonnets and other Poems’, which was well received at the time, with one critic in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle enthusing, “this gifted lady seems to have inherited a double portion of genius of the family. The sonnet is a difficult form of poetic composition, and the success which has attended this lady’s efforts in that form show that while dowered with the vision and the faculty divine, she has also in a very high degree the accomplishment of verse….her work gives evidence that she possesses that versatility which marks the minstrel.”

The dedication to her father in the front of her book.

There is a section within her book, entitled, “Sonnets of the City” which includes works such as ‘John Hancock’, a long time friend of her father, ‘The Cemetery’, which, given the proximity of the death of her father and the publication of her book, may well be about Jesmond Old Cemetery. ‘The Church of the Divine Unity’ and ‘The Rev. Frank Walters’ are of additional interest, given that the family attended the Church of the Divine Unity, one of the oldest nonconformist congregations in Newcastle, then situated in New Bridge Street (the current church is in Ellison Place and opened in 1940) and Ministered by the Rev. Frank Walters from 1885 to 1907, who also conducted her father’s funeral service.