Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
When I started researching my family history almost twenty years ago, I kept returning to my maternal grandmother’s line – she was an Adamthwaite, and the name had always fascinated me. I quickly discovered that her family had moved to County Durham from Westmorland in the 1870s, but I hit the proverbial brick wall with the marriage of John Adamthwaite and Isabel Keasley in 1753 in the parish of Ravenstonedale, where I was thrilled to discover that there is still an Adamthwaite Farm, located in a very isolated position to the south-west of Harter Fell.
After turning to the Adamthwaite surname list on Rootsweb, I soon met others who were stuck at exactly the same point. I decided that if I collected details of ALL the Adamthwaites mentioned in the Ravenstonedale Parish Registers, I would be able to work out the identity of John Adamthwaite. Thus begins the typical one-name study!
Working with those first Adamthwaite researchers I met through Rootsweb and lots more helpful folk we gathered along the way, we have now collected most of the factual data relating to the Adamthwaite surname (Census and BMD results, etc) in the British Isles, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. However, this project is still very much a work in progress, as we continue to research individual past name holders in order to provide a flavour of the lives they led in the stories written in the Miscellany section of our website.
We currently have just over 100 members on our mailing list. The general aim of our group is to build a comprehensive set of worldwide Adamthwaite family trees and to that end we welcome anyone who has Adamthwaites in their family tree to join our mailing list and share information.
Although there are no true variants of the surname, the spelling has evolved over time. The earliest occurrences of the name appear as Adamthwayt and Adamtwat, later becoming Adamthwait. The current form is usually Adamthwaite (occasionally Adamsthwaite), though the name is frequently mis-transcribed. However, I am assured that the correct pronunciation (in and around Ravenstonedale at least) is “Adamth’t”. And, just in case you were wondering, Ravenstonedale is pronounced “R’zzendale” - and was often written as Russendale in older records.
It seems highly likely that the surname is locative – and that the earliest name-holders took their name from the hamlet called Adamthwaite in the parish of Ravenstonedale, in the old county of Westmorland, where they were living at the time that hereditary surnames were adopted in this part of the country. This process is said to have taken place later than in more southern parts of England. Unfortunately the Domesday Book does not include parishes as far north as Westmorland, so the earliest document in existence which lists individual tenants is the Lay Subsidy Roll, taken in 1379. The roll for Ravenstonedale is badly damaged, so although we can see that there are 108 individuals listed, around 18% of the names are illegible. Those which remain include a number of individuals holding names derived from personal names (such as Henrymayden, Atkindoghter). I was very disappointed not to discover a single Adamthwaite amongst the list!
The origin of the place-name Adamthwaite is probably derived from the old Norse ‘thwait’, meaning a clearing, and the personal name Adam (being the person who cleared the land or lived in the clearing).
The Pipe Rolls of Cumberland and Westmorland for each of the years between 1235 and 1260 mention an individual referred to as AdamThwayt (earlier entries appear as Adam Cayt or Adam Kayet). Throughout this period, this person paid dues to Alexander of Kirkeby Yrloc (Kirkby Ireleth?) In 1242, William of Ukmannesby seems to have paid the dues on Adam Cayet’s behalf. For the years 1248 to 1251, a Thomas of Morland also appears in Adam Thwayt’s entry, paying four marks to capture wild animals. However, I have never found any records connecting this person to Ravenstonedale, so he may or may not have been connected to those families later found living at the hamlet named Adamthwaite.
Apart from the AdamThwayt mentioned above, the earliest written record we have found for a person definitely holding the surname is for Roland Adamthwaite of Carlisle diocese, who was ordained at New College Chapel Oxford on 28 February 1461. He was the first of a number of Reverends Adamthwaite, a few of whom had somewhat worrying involvement in Yorkshire Academies which were later to be immortalised by Charles Dickens in 'Nicholas Nickleby'!
The next Adamthwaites we located, in 1541, were tenants of two hamlets in the parish of Ravenstonedale, Westmorland, England – Adamthwaite, located in an isolated position on the moors three miles from the village, and Artelgarth, much closer to the village itself (see map left, which dates from the 1770s).
They appeared in the first manorial document that survives for the parish, which is a conveyance dating from 1541 following the Dissolution of the Monasteries when the tenancies seized by Henry VIII from the Gilbertine Monastery which previously held the entire parish, were passed over to Lord Wharton, and the document lists the names of the current and former tenants of every property and the agreed payment. By this time all names mentioned are clearly hereditary. At Adamthwaite, the four current tenancies were held by Martin Futhergill, Leonard Futhergill, Robart Adamthwait and Rolland Adamthwait and at Artelgarth all three tenancies were held by Adamthwaites: Richard, Henry and William. No other tenancies in the parish were held by Adamthwaites according to this document.
Both Adamthwaite and Artelgarth are still working farms today - though at Adamthwaite only the largest of the four original farmsteads survives - this was rebuilt by Thomas Adamthwaite in 1684 - but there are still the remains of one or two of the other buildings visible alongside the track leading down past Wandale towards Murthwaite.
We have identified a strong clustering of early records from Ravenstonedale in Westmorland, which reduces after 1800 as families move away from the dale. The following figures relate only to births or baptisms (and there is no guarantee that we have identified every birth/baptism prior to the introduction of civil registration in 1837!)
It should also be noted that during the 17th and 18th centuries, many Adamthwaites were known dissenters, and though they usually married in their local parish church, their baptisms and burials are often not recorded – though our birth/baptism figures below do include many events we have located in Quaker and Congregational records:
The Public Profiler website for Great Britain reports that there were 116 people with the surname Adamthwaite living in Great Britain in 1998; the accompanying distribution map shows the highest concentrations of the surname in London and the south east with another small pocket in West Yorkshire.
The Public Profiler website for World Names reports a Frequency per million of the surname in the following countries as:
However, the most populous country is known to be Australia – missing from the Public Profiler data altogether!
The Resource section of our Adamthwaite Archive website includes comprehensive BMD and census data for Britain (with a growing amount of BMD and Census/electoral data for Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada), as well as Indexes to Wills and Probate records, Apprenticeship records, Passenger Lists, Hearth Tax, Tithe Records, Trade Directories, Electoral Registers, Military Records, Newspaper references, copies of historic wills and other historical documents.
By cross indexing the BMD and census records, together with invaluable information gleaned from early wills, we have been able to reconstruct ten family lines - all of which originate in Ravenstonedale (Westmorland) or nearby towns, or just across the county border in Sedbergh (West Riding of Yorkshire). Both places are now in the county of Cumbria. A vast majority of BMD events between 1700 and 1950 and virtually all census records have been classified into one of these family lines and are clearly identified on the spreadsheets using a colour-coded system, which is also used on all other spreadsheets throughout the resource section. Amongst the international membership of the Adamthwaite mailing list we have at least one representative of each of these family lines:
ADAMTHWAITE/GARLICK - pink line (a branch of the olive line) origins Brough, Westmorland
Our original hypothesis was that most, if not all, of the Adamthwaite lines that we have identified were originally descended from a single individual male named Adamthwaite, and that he lived in the farm of that name near Ravenstonedale in Westmoreland. However after embarking on our yDNA surname project in September 2008 at Family Tree DNA, it became apparent from the first few results received that in fact three of the largest of the ten lines identified were descended from different individuals, and that probably the place came before the surname, which was adopted by several different families who were living at Adamthwaite around the time that surnames were first adopted. The latest theory is that there were at least five biological ancestors, but we are hopeful that as more volunteers join the project, the picture will be clarified!
As well as our yDNA research project, which tracks the surname through generations of male Adamthwaite surname bearers, we have also recently started to accept Family Finder results from male and female Adamthwaite descendants, which is helping to confirm the validity of the reconstructions of our ten lines, even when there are no male descendants to take a yDNA test. So, whether you are male or female, and even if you are not an Adamthwaite by birth, if you have Adamthwaites 'in your blood' you too can join this exciting new branch of our DNA study!
Because the Family Finder results indicate that the participants carry DNA not just from their Adamthwaite ancestors but also from several other old Ravenstonedale families - we have also set up a Ravenstonedale DNA Project, which aims to discover more about the genetic links between descendants of families known to have lived in the dale prior to 1700.
The website explains out how to join the Adamthwaite Mailing List and view past copies of our Newsletter, which is circulated to all members of the Mailing List. There is also a section about our DNA project.
A static copy of the Adamthwaite Archive website is also held here as part of the Guild Websites Project - though this version may not be as up to date as the main copy (check the latest update date at the foot of the home page!)
The Ravenstonedale DNA Project
includes links to the research on the incidence of surnames in early Ravenstonedale parish and manorial records, and includes a summary of the results from both the yDNA and Family Finder test results to date.
Adamthwaite – Adam’s clearing in the Eden Valley appeared in the April-June 2012 issue of the Journal of One-Name Studies
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: