Family History

From time to time, we receive requests for information on the ancestors of people who have visited the village and/or are researching their family history. If you can throw any light on the names mentioned below, it would be very much appreciated by those who have been in touch and are keen to know more about their familiy history.

12 October 2023 - Photograph of WI and Children and Vicar in The Institute, circa 1953

We have received this photo, taken around 1953, from Terry Burgess, who was born in Thornton Steward and christened in the church, where Terry's father, Desmond Burgess, was a church warden. Terry's mother, Hilary Burgess, is standing 2nd from the right at the back and his sister Gillian, aged around 3, is in front of her. The family moved to Thornton Steward around 1950 and lived at 3 Field Side, having initially stayed in the house of Mrs Burnett. They moved to Northallerton in 1954 and then to Scotland in 1956. 

A friend, Barbara Mason, is seated at the extreme left of the photograph and her mother may be third from the left at the back. Barbara is now living in the Ipswich area and Terry is still in touch with her. Barbara's father, Harry Mason, farmed in the village before retiring to Crakehall and from Terry's description, they appear to have lived in Pear Tree Cottage. Terry sent the photograph to Barbara and she was able to name a few of those pictured immediately and is going to try to put as many more names to faces as possible.    

If anyone remembers this event (which Terry thinks could be connected to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II) and/or recognises any faces in the photograph, please let us know by emailing

25 February 2020 - Enquiry about the Ryder and Hammond families who lived in Thornton Steward in the 1800’s

We have received the enquiry below from Jackie Campbell. If anybody can provide Jackie with further information about her ancestors or could forward her enquiry to others who might be able to help, she would be very grateful. Jackie can be contacted directly using the email address

Jackie has written:

I have several ancestors who lived in Thornton Steward:

John Rhyder - Born 1802 Thornton Steward and died at Low Butterknowles Farm. In the 1861 census he was still living in Thornton Steward. He married Elizabeth Kilburn 18.2.1828. He died at Thornton Steward in 1889.

Ellen Rhyder/Hammond was born in Thornton Steward in approx. 1845.

John Hammond born in Durham.
1871 census - Butterknowle listed as Agricultural Labourer.
1881 census - East Butterknowle  Farm Bailiff 85 acres.
1891 census - Low Butterknowle. Farm Manager
1901 census - Butterknowle Agricultural labourer

If you have any more information about these people I would be so grateful. If you have any questions then please feel free to email me.

Jackie Campbell


22 October 2018 - Denise Clements has been in touch again with further information about Thompson Hall and his second wife, Ann Newton:

I sent a picture of my husband's grandfather, Thompson Hall quite a while ago . I asked for information and have just realised my email and phone number are now different. They are 01274 774305 and I found out he was married to a Sarah Reynolds/Potts in Auckland Durham and had four children with Sarah plus older children from her first husband. Thompson then married Ann Newton and had another nine children.

If anyone has any further information about Thompson Hall and Ann Newton, Denise would be very interested to receive it.

Thompson Hall
Blacksmith of Thornton Steward
in the 1841 census.
(See last entry below for further information)  


Ann Newton, second wife of Thompson Hall

22 February 2017  - We have had the following enquiry from Peggy Winn:

Hello, I was wondering if you have any information about the Winn family who lived in Thornton Steward for several centuries. Any information would be gratefully received. I understand they had a lot to do with St Oswald's Church. Many thanks, Peggy Winn.

If you can help, then please contact Peggy by email using the following address:

 7, Penn Court,
        Oxford Road,
     CALNE, Wiltshire, SN11 8BJ.
        tel: O1249 81351O
31st July, 2016

Dear Sir,

Re: Thornton Steward:  Church/Possible Family Connections.

    I write a belated thanks to you and your Committee for your much appreciated hospitality provided by your Institute premises in the village; this was a most helpful refuge for myself, my Wife and two relations after we had visited the Church, village and surroundings one day in June when the weather was very wet and windy!

    To explain: my Grandmother’s name was Elizabeth Whitelock and my interest in Thornton Steward is partly evoked by two of my early ancestors who were baptised in the Church (a) Elizabeth WHITELOCK on 29th Jan. 1786 and (b) Mary WHITELOCK on 30th Mar.1788. Elizabeth died, however, in 1810, but had earlier given birth to a James WHITELOCK (out of wedlock), James b. 1804 died 1873 in Hartlepool where he was a master Blacksmith. He was my Great/Great Grandfather.

    Our oldest ancestor chronologically has proved to be a John Whitelocke who was a lessee of land owned by Fountains Abbey in Baldersby, he appears in the Abbey Rate Book for 1521; his descendants were various village blacksmiths living and working in local villages such as Skipton-on-Swale, Rainton and Dishforth as well as Thirsk.

    The parents of Elizabeth and Mary mentioned above were John Whitelock and Dorothy NATTRASS who were married 6th May 1784 at St. Martins East Witton. On the death of Dorothy in c.1790 John married again to Hannah PICKARD at Harewood to be followed by 5 or 6 more children.

    One of the descendants of James, above, came to London in about 1862 when work was ‘short’ in Hartlepool. He was very successful as a builder and property developer in the then expanding Boroughs of West and East Ham in the later 19th century.

    At this great remove in time, I would be most interested to hear of any present-day connections with any of the above names. I would thank you once again for your hospitality and look forward to returning again to Wensleydale in the near future to visit our friends/2nd Cousins in Bedale and to further explore your beautiful area. In closing I must observe that the many 17th/l8th century descents (Illegitimate) were very helpful in the perpetuation of the WHITELOCK name, aided by male progenitors who did not wish to be identified or held responsible!

    With our very best wishes,

         Sincerely yours,

                   Ray and Barbara Skinner
                   (London exiles to Wiltshire).

Barbara, Ray and Keith, enjoying refreshments in the Institute

4 January 2016

Good Morning,

I have been looking at your Thornton Steward website for some time, as I have been researching my husband's family tree.

Last night I found the Roll of Honour from WW1 that you put up on your Facebook page each Remembrance Day.

My husband's grandfather is mentioned on the Roll of Honour, along with two of his great uncles and his grandfathers cousin. The family name is Waddington.

I have a small amount of information about the four Waddington boys, I also have found that their cousins, who were born in Thornton Steward also served in the war, one of them sadly fell at Ypres. The surname of their cousins was Trotter. The Trotters farmed in and around the village.

Some residents of Thornton Steward may remember the Waddington and Trotter families. I would be very happy to share with you both the information that we have along with a few photographs which may be of interest.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Suzanne Stirke
Telephone No:  01677 427061
Email Address:

16 December 2015


My husband Robert's Gt.Grandfather was Thomas Edward Wright. He worked for the Danby estate as a gardener and his wife Elizabeth Fitzgerald Wright was the School Mistress at Thornton Steward in the 1880s and onwards.

We have tried to find his birth registration to no avail, and was wondering where we could find his baptismal records for either Thornton Steward,|Middleham or East Witton.

We know that they were married in Liverpool at a Catholic Church but his parents were C of E, so have assumed he became a catholic to marry. He lived at Ulshaw Bridge as a young man and moved to Eagle Lodge later. He died there in about 1946

Any help would be much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Pauline Gill
Telephone No:  01205 722686
Email Address:

6 January 2015

Hi, I am trying to trace my ancestors. We are doing quite well, but we are rather stuck at the moment. My Grandad was called Francis Thomas Reynolds (Tot/ Tom Reynolds) and he lived at East Witton. But, he was born at Marriforth Lodge, and the census suggests that his family was there for at least 40 years. I have been trying to find out where Marriforth is / was. I am assuming that Marriforth no longer exists, but I'm not sure where it was. Does anyone know where it was based?

I also have come across a place called 'Rookwith' which we cannot find either. I assume that this is also an estate. Can anyone shed any light on this? Also, where would people from Marriforth be buried? We have been to the church, but we will look again, as we found no Reynolds there at all. We have found a couple in East Witton churchyard. Any information would be brilliant. Thank you.

Susan Price
Telephone No:   01748 824976
Email Address:

(Postscript: We sent details of Marriforth and Rookwith to Susan)

28 October 2014

Hello - I am researching a family of a Christopher Kirby - who was a Publican in Thornton Steward in the 1861 Census at least. Before that, his mother-in-law Annas Winn was an inn-keeper (certainly the same place), and before that Annas's husband George Winn.

Any idea if the inn/pub would still exist in Thornton Steward?

Descendants interested in exploring the area, coming from Canada.

Tom Moffatt
Telephone No: 506-529-1022
Email Address:

22 August 2015 - Thompson Hall

My Husband's grandfather, born 1841 in Thornton Steward and baptised on the 4th June 1841 in Thornton Steward. His father (my husband's great grandfather), was born and baptised in Thornton Steward in 1801 and was the blacksmith. I was told the actual smithy is now The Cottage. He was also called Thompson Hall and his wife was Dorothy but I don't know her maiden name . I visited Thornton Steward a few years ago .I thought it was a beautiful little village. The only person we met to ask for any information was the man who lived in the house going down to the church. He was very nice but had not lived there very long.

I wondered if you have a history of people who lived in the village in the 1800s and any photos. My husband knew nothing of his family as both his parents died when he was young He was adopted ,that is why he is called Clements now not Hall. Thank you for your time

Denise Clements.

PS I can find nothing on Ancestry.

Telephone No:  01274 774305
Email Address:



sitemap | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement