top of page
adamthwaite farm banner

Adamthwaite Archive

"The website IS the one-name study!"

map banner

Early occupants of Adamthwaite Farm

Various Adamthwaite researchers have speculated about the links between those early Adamthwaites that appear in the Ravenstonedale Parish Registers and in Manorial documents.  There are tantalising clues about how these individuals could link together, but little in the way of hard evidence that would allow us to build an accurate picture of the precise relationships between them.


However, careful analysis of the earliest documents that specifically name the tenants of Adamthwaite seems to clarify that from the 1540s up until 1675, the only Adamthwaite tenants in the very large parish of Ravenstonedale lived at Adamthwaite (where there were certainly four individual farmsteads - two tenanted by Adamthwaites, two by Fothergills), Artlegarth (where there were three farmsteads, all tenanted by Adamthwaites) and (appearing in the 1640s), at Lowcombe (Lockholme) Head (I don't know how many farmsteads were located at Lockholme, which was a FOTHERGILL stronghold, but there only seems to have been one Adamthwaite tenant at any time).  After 1675, individuals with the Adamthwaite surname began to appear at Hill, Ravenstonedale Towne and Ellergill.  Then in the 1700s the parish registers started to record Adamthwaites from Stennerskew, Steps Beck, Murthwaite, Streetside, Newbiggin and Coldbeck - these latter properties were all located further to the south of the parish in Fell End Angle, which seems to have been a part of the parish which was a stronghold for Dissenters and Quakers.


Armed with this information, it may be possible to produce a speculative chart showing how many of the early individuals that appear in the parish registers of Ravenstonedale could be linked together.  But in the absence of information to tell us how many people each of the different farmsteads could support, we cannot establish with certainty how many family members of the tenant farmer named in the documents actually shared the farmstead.  


Patterns of Inheritance

We do know that the custom in the area on the death or incapacity of the named tenant, was to pass on the tenancy to the eldest son (as long as he was able to take it on) or a named beneficiary (who could be a younger son, a daughter, or any other person).  If a tenant died without putting forward a named successor to the Lord of the Manor, members of the Grand Jury decided who the most appropriate replacement tenant should be. From the relationship between the named tenants at Adamthwaite Farm itself, it seems that tenancies were regularly passed on to sons-in-law ... thus the pattern of surnames of tenants includes a number of surnames related to the Adamthwaites by marriage (see the first table below).


It is also important to consider what happened to the younger sons, who did NOT take over tenancies from their father.  It was very uncommon at that time in Westmorland for farms to be divided or amalgamated ... so those family members whose labour was not required on the family farm would have to seek another tenancy (perhaps through marriage?), go to work for another tenant, be apprenticed to a trade, or seek a living elsewhere.


Moving away from Ravenstonedale

The second of the two tables below shows the gradual spread of Adamthwaites to other properties in Ravenstonedale and later to nearby towns and villages.  But what is surprising is the number of Adamthwaites that left the county altogether, and at such an early date, to seek employment in Yorkshire, London, Essex and later the industrial towns  in Lancashire and County Durham.


Recent discoveries, seem to point to some of these individuals having originally come from Ravenstonedale.  For example, the John Adamthwaite, woollen draper, who died in Maldon Essex in 1625, naming his mother, two brothers and a nephew in his will, seems to have been the son of Thomas who was baptised in Ravenstonedale in 1584.


And an apprenticeship record for Richard Adamthwaite, who was a plaisterer in the City of London, confirms that he was the same Richard who was christened in Ravenstonedale in 1616, the son of John, yeoman of Ravenstonedale.  I am still searching for more apprenticeship records in the hope that they will explain the origins of some more of the Adamthwaites found in other towns in 17th and 18th century records.

spreadhseet thumbnail

This table shows the people who lived at Adamthwaite from 1541 through to 1798.  Note: there are no entries in either parish registers or manorial documents which mention anyone with the surname Adamthwaite actually living at Adamthwaite after 1781.  The entries on this spreadsheet show only those individuals who DEFINITELY lived at Adamthwaite ... many entries in the parish registers do not specify the place of abode, so it is likely that there were in fact many more, especially in the early years.  Many of the sources were rental documents which list ONLY the named tenant ... they would often have a wife and (extended) family living with them - we cannot begin to speculate on total numbers.

spreadhseet thumbnail

This table shows the various places in and around Ravenstonedale (and elsewhere), where Adamthwaites lived from 1568 to 1833.  Again, we only know the place of abode when it was actually specified in either a rental document or as clarification in an entry in a parish register; there could be many other places within the parish where Adamthwaites lived.  Some later entries on this spreadsheet have been colour coded to indicate the line of Adamthwaites concerned - lack of detailed information has prevented the early Adamthwaite individuals to be placed in one of the family lines, though we have produced a very speculative tree linking the early Adamthwaites to the Sedbergh Adamthwaites in our Family Tree section.


NOTE:  The tables on the left will open as pdf files (either in a new window or there will be a link to them at the foot of the page)

There is more information about the migration of Adamthwaites away from Westmorland in the Resources section.


22 feb 2022

contact details

adamthwaite @

calling all


read our stories

r'dale banner thumb copy

Adamthwaite Archive

"The website IS the one-name study!"



The links to the right will take you to other parts of this 'History' section of the website, where you can discover more about the history of the Adamthwaites, and Adamthwaite Farm.


This is one of the Sections of this website where I regularly report new discoveries, so do come back often to see what's new!

bottom of page