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Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

I began my research into the MOWFORTH name while tracing my maternal line. I discovered that the majority of family members lived in East Yorkshire, particularly Brantingham, Brough, Cottingham, Ellerker, Elloughton, Hedon, Hessle, Hull, Kirk Ella, North & South Cave, North Ferriby and Swanland  where the surname predominates. A few travelled to London, Nottingham, Canada and Australia, with earlier ones appearing in Westmorland parish registers. Many were involved in the building trade, farming/gardening and working on the railways. Others became seamen, soldiers or clergymen.

Over 25 years of researching my family history I have amassed numerous records citing the MOWFORTH name, which has formed the basis of my one name study. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has someone with the Mowforth name in their family.

Variant names

I have recorded numerous different spellings of the surname, some of which are transcription errors – Howforth, Mawforth, Meforth, Mewforth, Mofforth, Mofirth, Moforth, Monfirth, Monforth, Moofin, Mooforth, Morfirth, Morfitt, Moufforth, Mouforth, Moufif, Mourforth, Mowfforth, Mowfirth, Mowford, Mowforde, Mowfordth, Mowforsth and Mowforthe.

Name origin

I have been unable to find the surname listed in any printed source but MOWFORTH is possibly a derivative of Mawford. The old English "mawe" meaning meadow, and the second element "ford" a ford, hence "mawe's ford" or the "meadow by the ford".

Historical occurrences of the name

The Registers of Kendal and Westmorland record a christening 8 January 1571 of Margrett to Henry Mowforth

Lambeth Archives, Reference: IV/66/8/53 ….brass rubbing of William Mowforth, Rector of Streatham, 1573 (presented by Percy J Home).

Nottinghamshire Archives, Reference: DD/FJ/4/29/1 Probate will of Jas. Mountaigne of Cawood. Will: 2 Oct.1598; Probate: 9 Dec.1600 ...To godson Jas. Mowforthe, 2s 6d.

John Mowforth, son of Joseph Mowforth and Jane Knaggs was baptised in Cottingham, East Yorkshire in 1857. He grew up in Ellerker and in 1877 he married Frances Eleanor Webster. Later they moved to Durham where he was a railway signalman. In 1890 along with his wife and four children William Waudby, Sarah Jane, Leonard Webster and Charles Henry they emigrated to Albany, Western Australia where he had a dairy. They later moved to Grasmere and he became one of the leading potato growers in the State. John served on the Albany Road Board from 1896 - 1912 and it was as a result of his suggestion that the townsite "Lakeside", (which later became Torbay Junction) was renamed "Elleker" after Ellerker in East Yorkshire where he had lived.

John Mowforth 1857 - 1941


Name frequency

Mowforths listed in census records
1841 – 39 in Yorkshire.

1851 – 45 in Yorkshire.

1861 – 26 in Yorkshire, 2 in London.

1871 – 68 in Yorkshire, 1 in Kent.

1881 – 101 in Yorkshire, 4 in Durham, 1 in Lincolnshire & 7 in London.

1891 – 86 in Yorkshire, 2 in Cambridgeshire, 8 in Durham, 1 in London & 1 in Canada.

1901 – 124 in Yorkshire, 2 in Cambridgeshire, 1 in Cheshire & 2 in Canada

1911 – 276 in England and Wales and 2 in Canada

1920 - 1 in U.S.

1939 - 259 in England

None recorded in Scotland.

341 recorded in ONS in England, Wales in September 2002 database.




GRO Indexes for England & Wales - Births 1837 – 2006. Marriages 1837 – 2008, Deaths 1837 - 2007

All births, marriage and deaths in Scotland (since 1855)

All UK census records from 1841 to 1911and some from Canada & US & the 1939 Register

Birth, baptism, marriage, banns, death, burial and cremation records from the UK, Canada and Australia.

Wills and probate 1858 - 2014.  Headstones and monumental inscriptions

Directory and gazette entries, electoral rolls, employment records, military records, hundreds of newspaper articles and passenger & crew lists 

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