In the 17th and 18th Centuries in Waddington, Yorkshire, England


Nicholas is an uncommon name among the Thornber family. The article below draws together examples that seem to be from one family in the Waddington area in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The case starts with the manor court rolls of Slaidburn, kindly provided to me by Chris Spencer.

There are some examples in Gisburn in the late 16th century, Gargrave in the late 17th century and also in Giggleswick in 1740s and 1750s as shown at the end.

M1649 E1650 roll

At this court came Nicholas Thornbur of Westbradford, by Henry Leemeinge, and surrendered a mansion or dwelling house, two barns, certain gardens belonging to the same, and certain closes or parcels of land lying and being in Westbradford aforesaid called the Barley Croft, Farhey, Overhey, Litle Inge, containing by estimation 7a of land, and also certain other closes of land now or lately improved from the wastes above Bradford called the Walker Feild, Slackbrowe, Stonedelfeild and the Rakes, containing by estimation 7½a of land, and 3½a of land of the new improvements as the same are divided and allotted. To the use and behoof of Anthony Thornber, son of the said Nicholas Thornber, his heirs and assigns, from and immediately after 2 February next and immediately following the decease of the said Nicholas Thornbur and Isabel now his wife, and the longer liver of them, forever. Admitted. Fine 7s. 10d

Manor Court Roll: M1656 E1657 roll; 9 Oct 1656

At this court comes Isabell Thornebur, widdowe, the relict of Nicholas Thornebur of Westbradford deceased, by Henry Leeminge, and surrendered the half of one messuage, two barns with other buildings, certain gardens with other parcels of land in Bradford aforesaid commonly called Litle Inge, Barley Croft, Farhey and Overhey, containing by estimation 7a of oxgangland and other parcels of ground now or lately improved from the wastes above Bradford aforesaid, known by the names of Walkerfeild Slacke and the Rakes, together with 3½a of moss or turbary as now it is meared and set forth, containing by estimation 7a 3r 13f of land with the appurtenances. To the use and behoof of Raph Leeminge of Rodwellyaite in Grindleton and Henry Knowles of West Bradford aforesaid, and their heirs, according to the custom of the Manor aforesaid forever as feoffees in trust, to stand and be fined and seized thereof to such uses as are specified and declared in one Intent hereunder written. Admitted. Fine 6s. 3d.

The Intent … is to the use and behoof of the said Isabell Thornebur for and during her natural life, then to the use and behoof of George Thornebur son of the late Nicholas Thornebur, he paying unto Ellen the now wife of Thomas Dale of Bradford aforesaid, unto Elizabeth the now wife of John Franckland of Alderhouse, unto Margaret Thornebur and Isabell Thornebur, sisters unto the said George Thornebur, the sum of £48 equally to be divided amongst them upon the third Candlemas day next following the decease of the said Isabell Thornebur. And also paying unto Isabell Thornebur, Nicholas Thornebur, James Thornebur and Agnes Thornebur, sons and daughters of the late Anthony Thornebur deceased, the sum of £12 to be equally divided as hereafter: unto the said Nicholas Thornebur, James Thornebur and Isabell Thornebur, every of them 40s. as they accomplish the age of 21 years and unto the said Agnes Thornebur £6 at 21.

Genealogical Interpretation

From the court rolls we learn that Nicholas Thornber was married to Isabel. In 1656 it appears that Nicholas has just died but that Anthony had either predeceased him or died just after, before he could take over the tenancy. However, we also learn that by 1656 Anthony had children under the age of 21. In addition to Anthony, Nicholas and Isabel had children, George, Ellen, Elizaabeth, Margaret and Isabel. George must have been over 21 to take over the land so we can begin to see a family tree which is enlarged from other data below.

A will transcribed by Chris Spencer shows that Nicholas, died between March and June 1658, had an older son Anthony, a younger son George and four daughters, Ellin, Elizabeth, Margaret and Isabell. Nicholas’s wife was called Isabella. Baptisms for two of the daughters can be identified at Waddington, St. Helens.

The baptisms of four children of Anthony were also found in the Waddington Registers and the burials of an Anthony in 1656 and James son of Anthony at Waddington on 20 December 1657 and Margreta wife of Anthony in 1669. The death of Anthony in 1656 fits the facts in the court rolls that Anthony died near the time of his father and never took over the tenancy of his land.

There are records of a George Thornber who had a son Nicholas and he could be the one in generation 2 above. George Thornber married Margareta Chew on 9 April 1667 at Waddington and children of George were baptised at Waddington as Nicholas, 1668, Isabella, 1670 and Elizabeth in 1673. However, Nicholas son of George was buried at Waddington on 30 April 1672 and a George was buried on 7 August 1675. It would make sense that the George son of Nicholas and Isabel would name his first son Nicholas and his first daughter Isabella so I have put them tentatively into the tree above in italics

The Nicholas Thornber who was baptised in 1650 in Waddington is probably the one who had a son Anthony in 1675 and daughter Margaretta in 1680 baptised at Waddington. Anthony and Margeretta were the names of Nicholas' parents. (There is also another Nicholas at this time in Gargrave who married Jane in 1681. He and his wife were buried at Gargrave in 1722 and 1726 respectively.)

There are a number of records that could relate to the Anthony baptised in 1675 son of Nicholas and Elizabeth. An Anthony Thornber of Bradford married Alice Haighton of Chageley on July 1. 1707 at Mitton. Children baptised at Waddington were Nicholas, Elizabeth (i.e. names of Anthony's parents) Anthony, Jacobus, Grace, Thomas, Jane and John. The Christian name evidence fits with Anthony son of Nicholas and Elizabeth. Only two of the sons, Nicholas and Anthony survived childhood.

A Nicholas Thornber married Elizabeth Turner in 1734. He could be the one born in 1708. The marriage bond states:

26 October 1734, Nicolas Thornber, P. of Mitton, County of York, gent., and Elizabeth Turner of Casterton, P. of Kirkby Lonsdale, spr. Both above 21 years, Bondsmen were John Gilman of Kirkby Lonsdale, yeo. Witnesses were John Brigg and Robt. Crosfield.

This couple had a daughter Alice (the name of Nicholas' mother) baptised 12 August 1735 at Waddington.

Nicholas Thornbers in Gisburn in the late 16th and early 17th centuries

There are some references to the name in Gisburn as early as 1584 but one of the references is to a Nicholas who died in infancy. However, it is interesting that the name was in use at this time and if we had more records from this period connections might have been discerned. However, few churches in the area have records prior to 1600 whereas Gisburn and Whalley do

Baptisms and Burials of children of John Thornber at Gisburn

Anthony, baptised 1576. Antho filius Johis Thornber buried 20 January 1576
Richus, baptised 1580
Barnardus, baptised 23 Aug 1584
Nicholas, baptised 23 Aug 1584. Nicholas filius Johis Thornber buried 2 Sept 1584
Anna, baptised 1586
Reginaldus, baptised 1592


Nicholas Thornber married Margaret Wilkinson on 9 October 1610 at Gisburn.

Nicholas Thornber of Eshton in the late 17th century

At this period there is another Nicholas who appears in the Gargrave registers. He married Jane on 21 May 1681 and was described as of Eshton. The following baptisms and burials are recorded at Gargrave. Nicholas was probably born around 1660 from his marriage date.


Nicholas Thornber of Eshton married Jane, 21 May 1681 at Gargrave.  Her maiden name is not given.


Thomas s. of Nicholas and Jane Thornber of Eshton, baptised 7 May 1682, Gargrave. Buried on 30 Nov 1685, Gargrave
Mary d. of Nicholas Thornber, 16 March 1683, Gargrave
Alice d. of Nicholas Thornber, 27 November 1688, Gargrave
Susanna d. of Nicholas Thornber, 23 October 1692, Gargrave
An(n) d. of Nicholas Thornber of Eshton, baptised 2 February 1695, Gargrave. Buried oon 16 November 1697 at Gargrave.

Other Burials

Jane wife of Nicholas Thornber of Eshton, 12 April 1722, Gargrave
Nicholas Thornber widw paupr of Eshton, 28 Feb 1726

Nicholas Thornborough of Settle in the mid 18th century

The following children of Nicholas Thornborough were baptised at Giggleswick. It is not uncommon for Thornber and Thornborough to be used interchangeably in the registers but Thornber is more common in the registers of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Jane d. of Nicholas Thornbourrah of Settle, bapt 16 Dec 1744. Buried 15 Feb 1747/8
Jane d. of Nicholas Thornborough of Settle, bapt. 14 Jan 1749/50
Grace d. of Nicholas Thornborough of Settle, bapt 21 June 1747
Thomas s. of Nicholas Thornber of Settle, bapt. 2 Aug 1752. Buried 3 Sept 1760
Nicholas s. of Nicholas Thornborough of Settle, bapt. 5 June 1755.

Other Burials at Gigglewick

Anthony s of Nicholas Thornborough of Settle, 1 Feb 1747/8
Nicholas Thornber of Settle, 29 Nov 1761






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