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About the study
The information referenced in this website relates to Asquith families that were first recorded in or near the town of Morley, West Yorkshire, in the early 16th century, and who have since spread into other parts of Batley and Woodkirk parishes as well as the parishes of Birstall, Dewsbury, Thornhill, Mirfield, Halifax, Bradford and some other nearby parishes. This group, as identified to date, consists of approximately 1,900 Asquith families and closely related cousins as well as lesser numbers in spousal branches for Briggs, Stead, Sutcliffe and Atkinson. The information for these families is presented on 105 linked charts that can be viewed and searched using standard Acrobat navigation. The charts are documented by text, tables and images that can be accessed using links on the charts. The site was first posted in 2007, taken down in July 2012, and reestablished in May 2013 to provide a marriage index from which visitors can determine if the ONS can provide information of interest to them. The site has since been updated to include a large amount of data acquired by Ancestry in cooperation with the West Yorkshire Archive Service.
The surname Asquith as used in Batley Parish and vicinity evolved from names pronounced Austwick then Astwick and to Asquith by the time of the English Civil War. Various spellings of these basic pronunciations occur in the records. The spelling Askwith was not commonly used in this area.
The name is presumed to have evolved in and around the town of Austwick which is located about 50 km (30 mi) northwest of Bradford in West Yorkshire. This group is considered to be separate from those generally using the Askwith spelling which were located more to the north and east of Leeds. These names are Old Scandinavian, and relate to a cluster of ash trees.
Historical occurrences of the name
The surname Asquith is probably best known for being that of Sir Herbert Henry Asquith, Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1908-1916, and later Earl of Oxford and Asquith. The ancestry of Sir H. H. Asquith is covered in detail in the ONS. Lord Cowdray, who was of some note in the construction of aircraft during WWI is also included. The Asquith surname is also notable from the Farnley Wood Plot of 1663. This brief and little-known uprising was a total fiasco as a revolutionary event. However, one of the conspirators who was among the 21 hanged for high treason for their parts in the conspiracy, was an Asquith, and it appears that this event had a substantial effect on the use of the surname in Halifax Parish for several generations. Since publication of the first version of this profile, the pedigree of 'Kate' Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, has been published indicating that her 2Gt-Grandmother was an Asquith. The pedigree extends her Asquith line back to the 1841 census, and using the ONS, to several of her Asquith ancestors who were involved in the Farnley Wood Plot of 1663.
Distribution of the name
Asquiths originated in Yorkshire, and that part of England is still the primary concentration of this surname. However, they have spread to other parts of England, to the US and Canada on the west, and to Australia and New Zealand on the south. The Author is currently working on a study of Asquiths in the US.
The Asquith ONS is primarily a study of the 'Old Parish Registers'. Genealogists know, or soon find out, that the English parochial records generally do not include information for the parents of the partners in a marriage, and that the study of sequential generations using this data is an *interpretation* rather than a rigorous analysis. The author has approached this problem by studying all of the families of this surname in the parishes involved rather than just a single sequence of families from one generation to another. As a result, what the author thought would be a relatively simple study to determine the relationship of his family to that of H. H. Asquith, expanded exponentially to become an extensive ONS.