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Biographies of Illegitimates.

All the people named in the biographical accounts who had an established connection to Addingham are listed in an Excel Index sheet, which you can downloaded by clicking below.  If you find a Biography name you would like to read, please e-mail me and I will provide you with access.


Most of the biographies are listed under the name of the mother, with the odd exception where it is the father or the child that is the real person of interest to this study. If you have ancestors who came from Addingham, you may find information about them here. If you do not find the person you are looking for, please feel free to contact me through the website and I may be able to help. The research is still very much on-going.

These accounts form the bedrock of my research. I find them fascinating, both individually, and as a collection that reveals much about the place and the time. Not quite all of the accounts involve a proven case of illegitimacy; there are a few where investigation pointed to a possible clerical error in the registers, and a few where the investigation produced such an interesting case study that I thought it worth sharing anyway.

The origins and form of the biographies:

In most cases I started with a baptism record, where the illegitimacy of the baby was obvious, even if not directly stated by the vicar or minister. Baptism entries do not give the baby’s surname, which was assumed to be that of the father, or for an illegitimate child, that of the mother. I have been precise in recording only what was recorded in the register. Anything in square brackets is detail added by me, culled from another source. Occasionally, an unusual census record led to me investigating further, as did the naming of an unexpected father in a marriage record. A search through the Petty [Magistrates] Sessions records for Leath Ward, which were held in Penrith, enabled me to see which local women had sought to affiliate their child upon the father, and thus claim maintenance. I frequently already had further information in my database but I then went looking backwards from the birth, hoping to understand what led to the woman being in this situation, and forwards, to establish if possible how she managed and how she and the child fared. Online, the genealogical websites Ancestry and Find My Past were invaluable here, as were the family trees posted on them. Many I found to be inaccurate, but others have been well researched and I have had many fruitful email conversations with their helpful owners. I have also found the British Newspaper Archive very useful. I have made much use of the archives at Carlisle and Kendal, and the libraries at Carlisle and Penrith.

Despite most of these accounts staring with a baptism, it should not be assumed that the individuals named were all parish residents. Some were born elsewhere and were in Addingham only briefly.  I have not generally given the detailed references for my accounts, as they are created from tiny details culled from a vast range of resources; instead I have tried to signpost the way within the biography to the sources used. When I refer to where people were living in 1841, 1851, 1861 etc, I am referring to a census entry unless otherwise specified. ‘1939’ refers to the Register produced in that year for England and Wales, a necessary part of the introduction of war-time identity cards.

Naming & Other Conventions:

Women’s names pose a problem in a study like this, as both maiden and married names are important. In the accounts, I have chosen to run both together, with a capital letter in the middle (thus, for example, Isabella ClementsonJohnstone). It looks rather odd but helps to distinguish surname from middle given name in cases such as Elizabeth Workman LancasterVarty. In a study such as this, middle given names, being often indicative of paternity, are of significance.

The spelling of surnames was often erratic and the same name can be spelt in different ways from one census to another. Within each account, I have therefore settled on one form of common names such as Cooper/Cowper; Blenkinship/Blenkinsop; Clementson/Cleminson; Elliott/Elliot; Milburn/Milbourne/Milbourn; Moor/Moore; Lowthion/Lowthian; Reay/Wray/Ray. Where necessary, alternative spellings are indicated with [sic].


Birth registrations were listed by quarter; thus, when I am unsure of a full date of birth and have to give the date of registration instead, it is given in the form 1Q 1900.

Members of a household were described by the enumerator in relation to the head of the household only. Thus, the illegitimate son of the wife, for example, may have his origins concealed (intentionally or not) if described only as ‘son’ (to the head of the household).

I have used ‘church’ when referring to the Church of England and its buildings, and ‘chapel’ when referring to the Methodist buildings. There was originally one parish church, St Michael, near Glassonby, commonly referred to as Addingham Church. There is no village of this name, so if I write ‘Addingham’ I am referring to the church building or the parish.  Another church was built at Gamblesby in 1868, dedicated to St John, and St Mary’s chapel opened in Little Salkeld in the 1870s.

If you have any queries about the Biographies, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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