The Earnshaw Family Web Site

Genealogy can become an obsession!

Updated 24 May 2013 (click for details)

Photos from our recent trip to Canada (click here)


My Great Great Great Grandfather, John Earnshaw who was born in Denholme Yorkshire in 1810.
This picture, from Martha Earnshaw's photo album, is courtesy of John Rushworth. It was probably taken around 1895.


We may not be famous, but at least we have a road with our name on it!
This name plate is very near the junction of Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road at the heart of London's West End. Apparently it is dedicated to Thomas Earnshaw, the famous maker of watches and chronometers.

         See the Burrington Parish Hall web site at Burrington Parish Hall

         See the Holt Copse Conservation Volunteers (HCCV) web site at HCCV

         Support the campaign to open a Community Shop in Burrington



In common with most Family History sites, there are NO details of any living people, other than names.

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Jack and Sue Earnshaw lived in Wokingham in Berkshire, England for 32 years and 3 days and we have three grown up sons - Paul, Nicholas and Michael. This site has been created to record the genealogy of the Earnshaw and Howell names and to gradually build a history of our life in Wokingham.

Now of course we must start to think about documenting our new life in beautiful North Devon.

We have been researching our history for a number of years now and have been astonished at how rapidly our knowledge of our family history has grown and also the number of living relatives that we have found as a result of this work. Initially, we just recorded the names of the family that we could remember being mentioned or who we had been told about by older relations. My mother's family came from Devon - the BEST family from Exmouth and the THORNE family from Fremington near Barnstaple. From just that small amount of information we had enough to get back to the late 1800's and quickly found most of them on the 1881 census.

But, my father's family was a mystery. My father wouldn't speak about them and so I had an almost blank piece of paper to work from - other than his father's and grandfather's names and that they came from the Halifax area of Yorkshire. So started the quest to discover the EARNSHAW family history. An area of interest now, though, is to discover the roots of my dad's mother, Florence Lavinia GIBSON. She died in 1935 aged just 42 years and the family appear to be very much based in London. Through the GIBSON family I have already discovered some interesting facts, but need to find more in order to track the family back in history. So far the names related to the Gibson's are POTTER, ABELL, AKERS, GREEN, WATTS, WILLIAMS and SMITH(!). Not easy names to research in a vast metroplis. But gradually we are getting to know a bit more - such as the fact that my great great grandmother Elizabeth ABELL was married at least four times having surnames LOADER, WATTS, POTTER and MARSHALL. The 1861 census for the area where the POTTER family was living has been lost. This is a great shame as this seems to be around the time that the family split up and Elizabeth went to live with Mr Marshall and her husband Humphrey moved in with Jemima Costin. To date I have no information on Arthur Joseph GIBSON other than his marriage.

The search for the Earnshaw family has now extended to cover the surnames GIBSON , LINDLEY , MURGATROYD, ABELL, BRIGG or BRIGGS , FARRAR, FOSTER and HARTLEY to name but a few. But a really special mention must be made of MURGATROYD, since that is the source of valuable information and photographs from the Earnshaw's in the late 1890's. Thank you, John, for providing these wonderful views of my ancestors.

Although Dad's ancestors did live in Luddenden, near Halifax, it transpires that before the 1870's they lived in Denholme (part of Thornton near Bradford). In May 2003, we visited the area for the first time and found where they lived in Edge Bottom in Denholme Edge, the family graves and also the baptismal records for Thomas EARNSHAW who was christened by Patrick Bronte at Haworth Parish Church (about a five mile walk across the Yorkshire Moors from Denholme).

Recently I discovered yet another descendant of the same EARNSHAW family (Simon) and am rapidly extending the knowledge of Timothy Earnshaw's descendants. But we were all, so far, stuck at our common 4 times great grandfather John EARNSHAW who was born in about 1787 - somewhere in Yorkshire! I was fairly sure that I have found the family to whom we are related, but hadn't found any sign of John's baptism. John married Sarah HARTLEY in Haworth (stated as Sally on one of the baptisms just to try to confuse us). From searching the IGI in a different way, I found his baptism in Heptonstall, the illegitimate son of Martha Earnshaw (from Oxenhope). This single piece of informaiton allowed me to trace the family back several more generations and they appear to have been called EARNSHAY in the 1580s. As soon as I can pay another visit to Yorkshire, I ought to be able to clarify this information and then hopefully link all the various EARNSHAW families from around Oxenhope, Oakworth, Cullingworth and Wilsden.

Sue was born and brought up in Cornwall. Her mother was from a true Cornish family, WILTON. Her father was born in Bath. To date we have a huge amount of information on the WILTON family in Cornwall (thanks to John Wilton) and are starting to gather more about the DAW / DAWE family. But Sue's father's family was still eluding us - HOWELL from Bath and previously Southampton until a wonderful piece of luck. I was contacted by someone researching a family, from Hindon in Wiltshire, who married into the Howell's and idly asked if there were any Howell's in the Hindon registers. Yes, Sue's gt gt gt grandfather Benjamin! So we have got back a little further and moved the search to Wiltshire. Other relevant names in Sue's family include HAWLEY, SILK, MILLER, DAMSELL and BALLINGER. Having had a lot of help unravelling the SILK family, we are now in touch with a member of the HAWLEY family and I'm about to add the basic results of her research. Hopefully we will be meeting up in the near future.

The largest expansion of knowledge of late has been in my Devon families - BEST, EDMONDS, HOOPER, PARKER, ROW, THORNE, BLACKMORE, MUXWORTHY, RENDLE, CAWSEY etc. Following a visit to Devon in 2003 and the results of some research carried out by Devon Archives, the BLACKMORE line has been confirmed and expanded - and I now have a copy of a photo of Eliza Ann BLACKMORE thanks to my cousin David. Eliza Ann's father (William BLACKMORE) had been particularly difficult to track - he doesn't appear on the 1881 census and I was unable to find him in Devon in 1861 and 1871. It seems he was a railway construction worker and travelled the country in search of work. We have traced all 8 children - born in Devon, Norfolk, Suffolk and Hammersmith. In 1861 he was living in Fulham and in 1871 his family were in Hammersmith (but not William himself). After tracing another cousin in Devon, it transpires that William spent several years overseas as well - explaining his non appearance in 1871 and 1881. The main remaining task with this family was to track down where William's grandfather (James Blackmore) originated from. He was married in Burrington and there are several generations of BLACKMOREs in the village, but no sign of his birth. In October 2004 we went to Devon again and found the family were living in Ashreigney, just two miles from Burrington. The Ashreigney family was traced back to the 1650s, but unfortunately earlier parish records have been lost. In January 2005 I was able to return to Devon for a day and go through the Bishops Transcripts that go back to 1607. Unfortunately they are in such a poor state and have a lot of missing years. The end result was that no further information was obtained on the earlier years.

Please follow the links above to look at our family trees and my search for the EARNSHAW roots. Of course if you find any of your own ancestors or know more about any of the names I would be delighted to here from you.

Major names in the trees, other than Earnshaw and Howell are Lindley , Abell, Gibson , Thorne, Blackmore, Rendle, Arnold, Muxworthy, Best, Edmonds, Parker, Row, Rowe, Hawley, Wilton, Daw, Dawe, Silk, Damsell, Stevens, Bade, Sunderland, Smalridge, Murgatroyd. Areas of the country are primarily Devon (Exmouth, Exeter, Burrington, Fremington and Barnstaple), Cornwall (Camelford, North Tamerton, South Petherwin) and West Yorkshire (Luddenden, Denholme, Wilsden, Haworth and Bradford).

In common with most Family History sites, there are NO details of any living people, other than names.


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