Our Fearnley family of Warrington, Cheshire

Our Fearnley family history is shown here by place and period.

Our Fearnley ancestors in Warrington and Winwick

St Elphin’s, Warrington

Fearnleys in Nantwich, Chester and Tarporley 1613 to 1682

St Mary’s, Nantwich

Wills and deeds of Fearnleys in Warrington and Winwick parish, 1663 to 1852

St Oswald’s, Winwick

Wills, deeds and rents of Fearnleys in Great Budworth parish, Cheshire 1526 to 1707


Great Budworth churchyard


Fearnleys in Great Budworth parish records, Cheshire 1560 to 1729

St Mary’s and All Saints church

Fearnleys in Yorkshire in the thirteenth century


Fearnleys in Yorkshire in the early fourteenth century


Fearnleys in the Peak Forrest in the thirteenth century


Fernilee reservoir, Goyt valley


Fearnleys in Cheshire in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries: Rostherne and Plumley


St Mary’s, Rostherne

Fearnleys and their origins



Possible sites to come: Whitfields (Warrington, Widnes, Cuerdley) and Lanes (Warrington, Galway)

Research for this site



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Our Fearnley ancestors

By Austin Fearnley

My brother, Edward, and I, Austin, and our sisters Eileen and Frances were born into a branch of the Fearnley family in Warrington, Cheshire. Warrington was designated to be part of Cheshire in 1974 but for most of the period of our family history it was in Lancashire. Warrington is situated on the River Mersey half way between Manchester and Liverpool with Lancashire being to the north of the Mersey and Cheshire to the south.

This website concentrates mainly on trying to find our roots prior to 1675 which is a question posed by researcher Bob Fearnley in his website (follow his link to “Family Tree”). The story of two later mysteries is also included: one concerning the birth of James Fearnley (1803) and the second is the temporary disappearance of his grandfather, also named James Fearnley, from 1782 to 1790. My brother, Edward, has a much fuller history of the wider family tree after 1675 than is shown here. Readers wanting to add information or comments or to ask for more information from Edward (Eddie) can leave a message at

A summary of my direct paternal line through Fearnley ancestors in and around Warrington is as follows:

Father Arthur


Grandfather James


Great grandfather James


Great great grandfather George


3Gg James


4Gg Joseph


5Gg James

Hulme, in Winwick to Warrington

6Gg John

Hulme, in Winwick

7Gg George

Ashton (Winwick parish) to Golborne (Winwick parish)

8Gg John

Latchford (Grappenhall parish) to Winwick parish

9Gg Anthony

Great Budworth parish (?) to Latchford (Grappenhall parish)

10Gg Thomas?

Great Budworth parish

Thomas is a possibility for our 10Gg.


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Father Arthur Fearnley (1906 to 1981) & mother Elsie Whitfield (1911 to 1989)

Notes on the research on Warrington Fearnleys

Arthur was born on 12 May 1906 in Warrington. Arthur was married to Elsie Whitfield in the 2Q, 1932, in St. Mary’s Church. Elsie was born on 2 May 1911, to Samuel and Mary. They first lived in Plumtree Avenue, Bewsey, before moving to Mersey St., near Mersey Mount. Their final move was to Locker Avenue, Longford. Arthur died in 1981, and Elsie moved to a bungalow a few streets away, in Petworth Avenue, Orford. Elsie died on the 26 December 1989. They had four children: Eileen, Edward, Frances and Austin.

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Grandfather James Fearnley (1882 to 1953) & wife Margaret Ada Howard (1887 to 1946)

James was born on 2 October 1882 in Warrington. He married Margaret Ada Howard on 9 December 1905, at St. Anne’s, Warrington. Ada was born on 22 March 1887 in Warrington. They had six children: Arthur (1906), Elizabeth (1908), May (1910), Ada (1914), Evelyn (1916) and Alice (1918). Ada died in 3Q 1946, at the age of 59.

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Great grandfather (Gg) James Fearnley (1858 to [after 1917]) & Alice Dickinson (1863 to [after 1901])

James was born 14 March 1858, to George and Mary Ann in Warrington. In 1881 he married Alice Dickinson on Christmas Day, 1881, at St. Paul’s, Warrington. They had 7 children: James (1882), Margaret Ann (Annie) (1885), John (1887), May (1888/9), Sarah Ellen (1892), George (1896) and Arthur (1898).

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2Gg George Fearnley (1832 to 1890) & Mary Ann Worsley (c1837 to 1910)

George was christened on the 27 May 1832, in St. Elphin’s Church, Warrington. He married Mary Ann Worsley on the 25 November 1855, at St. Paul’s, Warrington. Mary Ann was born c. 1837. George and Mary Ann raised six children: Alice (1856), James (1858), George (1862), Margaret (1864), Ellen (1866) and John (1869). They also raised George (1880), who was born illegitimately to Margaret, when she was 16. Mary Ann died at the age of 71 on 30 September 1910.

In 1860 George gave evidence at the trial of a Hankinson for the murder of his wife in a fire. There was a verdict of accidental death, although Hankinson was reportedly sent to gaol. The Warrington Guardian (4 Aug 1860, page 4) records the following:

“George Fearnley, Lythgoes Lane Brewer: On Sunday after dinner I was in company at this house with William Lawless and George Smith: it was about half past one. Hankinson came in, sat down, was drunk, but not noisy. He stayed about a quarter of an hour. He did not say anything about his wife. It was about five or seven minutes after he went out the news was brought. David Bate was here at the time.

By a juror: I did not notice anything remarkable about him. I went to his house and met him going to tell a relative that his wife was burnt to death.”

Intriguingly, Hankinson was sent to gaol despite the verdict of accidental death, and a juror appears, if reported correctly, to have given evidence, which would not be allowed today.

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3Gg James Fearnley (1803 to 1885) & Ellen Pike (1811 to [between 1841 & 1851])

A James Fearnley recorded as born in Warrington to Joseph, a Weaver and Ann, was baptised on 4 September 1803. Was the name Ann recorded by mistake for the name Betty? James married Ellen Pike on 16 January 1827, in Daresbury. She was baptised on 12 May 1811, in Warrington. They had at least four children: Ellen (1827), Alice (1830), George (1832) and Ellen (1834). Wife Ellen died in the period 1841-1851. James, a Brewer, died on 20 March 1885, aged 79.

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4Gg Joseph Fearnley (1782 to 1872) & Elizabeth Weawell (c1782 to 1862)

Joseph was christened on 29 Sep 1782 in St. Elphin’s. In 1783, some 15 months after the birth of Joseph, the family was removed to Golborne by the Church Wardens and Overseers of the Poor of Warrington (Ref. QSP/2173/57-date 1783 24 Dec). The wording of the removal order suggests that Joseph’s father James was not present: see the section on Joseph's father, 5Gg James, for further details. Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth Weawell, was also born around 1782 in Warrington, where they married on 12th April 1803 at St. Elphin’s Church. They had at least 7 children: James (1803), George (1808), Ann (1811), Thomas (1813), John (1816), William (1817) and Joseph (1818). A child, James, was born to an Elizabeth Weywell on 4 Jan 1803, in Newton, and christened 13 Feb 1803; the reputed father was a John Hall; but could this be an illegitimate child of Joseph’s future wife, Elizabeth? There were two other Elizabeth Weawell marriages around this time in Warrington: Elizabeth Weawell & Patrick Fegan on 26 June 1803 and Elizabeth Weawell & James Hughes on 28 May 1795. The Elizabeth Weawell who married James Hughes in 1795 was the subject of a removal by a Wigan court order, at the Lancashire Quarter Sessions, from Warrington to Culcheth, in the Winwick parish, dated 17 Dec 1800. Could she instead be the Elizabeth Weawell who had the illegitimate baby in 1803? The marriage to James Hughes might perhaps be a prior marriage of the same Elizabeth before she married Joseph. Information in parish records at this time is too scant to be certain of the true history. A child, James, was baptised on 4 Sep 1803 in Warrington, to Joseph (weaver) and Ann. Neither a record of a marriage of a Joseph and Ann, nor any other contemporary reference to a Joseph and Ann has been found. It is possible that Elizabeth was incorrectly recorded as Ann and that the child was born prematurely; alternatively, James was an illegitimate child of Joseph and was brought up by Joseph and Elizabeth as their own.

Elizabeth died 27 March 1862, aged 81. Joseph died on 15th February 1872 aged 89.

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5Gg James Fearnley (1753 Winwick to 1841 Warrington) & Mary Sheridan (c1749 to 1815) [& Fanny Bradshaw]

Notes on the research on Winwick Fearnleys

James was born on 4 Jan 1753 in Hulme, Winwick, and christened in St. Oswald on 18 Feb 1753. He married Mary Sherridan on 16 Mar 1773 in St. Oswald’s, Winwick. Mary was born c. 1752 in Winwick. They had at least seven children: Thomas (1773), John (1775), George (1777), George (1779), James (1781), Joseph (1782), possibly Mary (1787/8) and Martha (1790). Thomas, John and George (1777) were born in Orford and baptized at St. Oswald’s, Winwick; the later born children were born in Warrington and baptized in St. Elphin’s parish church. James was a husbandman at the time of Joseph’s baptism. In 1783, some 15 months after the birth of Joseph, the family was removed to Golborne by the Church Wardens and Overseers of the Poor of Warrington (Ref. QSP/2173/57-date 1783 24 Dec). The wording in the official document appears to omit James from the removal order, which suggests that he was not on the scene. Perhaps he was in jail or serving with the armed forces. There is also a gap of eight years before the last child, Martha, was born in 1790, so an enforced absence is indicated. This, of course, could account for the family’s state of poverty in 1783. Perhaps James had been press-ganged as Warrington is only 20 miles from the port of Liverpool. Seven years was a common length of term in deportations at the time. But prisoners were not being transported in 1783 because of the American war of Independence; instead transportees went to serve time on Thames prison ships, though prisoners may have served in the forces in lieu of serving time in prison. Whatever happened, it appears not to have affected his health too much as he went on to live until he was 88 years old and even re-married at the age of 64 years to Frances Bradshaw who was then about 46 years old. James could write his own signature and it is a very similar signature in both of his marriage records, in 1773 and 1817.

Mary was buried on 12 Jan 1815 in Winwick, at the age of 66 and was living in Warrington at the time of her death. James was remarried to Fanny Bradshaw on 28 Apr 1817, in Daresbury; James was 64 and Fanny c. 46 years old. Fanny died aged 82 and was buried on 22 Aug 1852, at St. Elphin’s. James died in Warrington in 1841.

My sister, Frances, was told, in the 1950s, by our father, Arthur, that our Fearnley family originally came from the Winwick area. The baptism of a son of James in 1777 in Winwick denotes the last Winwick parish register baptism in our family, which is 180 years before my father told my sister of the Winwick connection. James and his son, Joseph, both lived very long lives, however, and Joseph who died in 1872 could have told of his direct knowledge of the Winwick connection to his newer family members up to 100 years after that last Winwick event.

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6Gg John Fearnley (1711 to 1774) & Elizabeth (1709 to 1775)

John was born 5 Oct 1711 in Ashton and christened 14 Oct 1711 in St. Oswald’s, Winwick. He lived in Hulme with Winwick (Hulme), a place to the southeast of the township of Winwick and encompassing Orford. John married an Elizabeth c. 1742 and they raised at least four children: William (1743), John (1747), Thomas (c.1747) and James (1753). Elizabeth was born c. 1709, but her maiden name is not known. The family lived in Hulme, where the children were born and raised. John was buried 12 Jan 1774 in Winwick and his widow, Elizabeth, was buried 26 Feb the following year, at the age of 66.

John would have lived in Ashton until he was nine years old, after which he moved to Lowton; and then onto Golborne. His father died in Golborne when John was 17 years old. His mother died in Golborne another 29 years later. These connections with Golborne point to the opportunity for John’s son, James, to marry a girl from Golborne: Mary Sherridan.

There is some doubt in the 6Gg and 7Gg generations about the correct route to our direct line; see the details given for our 7Gg, which follow.

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7Gg George Fearnley (1680 to 1728) & Margaret Clayton (c1680 to 1757)

George was born in Winwick and christened on 6 Jun 1680 in St. Oswald’s Church, Winwick. He married Margaret Clayton of Haydock on 2 Jan 1710, at St. Oswald’s. They had at least eight children: John (1711, Ashton), Ann (1712, Ashton), Henry (1714, Ashton), Thomas (1716, Winwick), Jane (1719, Ashton), William (1721, Lowton), George (1724, Golborne) and another short-lived William (date?, Golborne). George was a sidesman at St. Oswald’s Church in 1719. The family lived in Ashton until c. 1720. They moved to Lowton for several years, before finally moving to Golborne, where George died; he was buried in Winwick 14 May 1728, at the age of 48. Margaret, born c.1680, continued to live in Golborne and was buried 7 Aug 1757 in Winwick, aged 77.

There is some doubt in the first 6Gg and 7Gg generations about the correct route to our direct line, but on the balance of probabilities the preferred one is:

8Gg John (1655) > 7Gg George (1680) > 6Gg John (1711) rather than

8Gg John (1655) > 7Gg John (1682) > 6Gg John (1721).


A major reason for this preference is because of the Golborne conection for some children of George (1680) and because our 5Gg, James (1753), married Mary Sheridan who must have been born in Golborne as she and her children were subsequently removed from Warrington to Golborne to obtain poor relief. Poor relief at the time was available only in the parish of one’s birth.

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8Gg John Fearnley (1650 Latchford to 1729) & Anne Whittel (c1655 to 1707)

John was born in 1650 in Latchford and baptised at St. Wilfred’s, Grappenhall, on 17 Mar 1650. He married Anne Whittell on 30 Nov 1675 in Winwick. John and Anne had at least five children: Thomas (1676), William (1677), George (1680), John (1682) and Jane (1686), all christened in St. Oswald’s Parish Church, Winwick. A John Fearnley was a sidesman at St. Oswald’s Church in 1720, but this sidesman could alternatively have been John’s son: John (1682). The family moved to Ashton in Makerfield (Ashton) some time before Anne’s death. Anne was buried on 27 Dec 1707 and John on 16 Mar 1729, both in Winwick; the burial registers described them as living in Ashton. John’s origins are uncertain but a John Fearnley was baptised on 17 March 1650 at St. Wilfred’s, Grappenhall, the son of Anthony. Grappenhall is now a suburb to the south-east of Warrington but then was a village about two miles from the centre of Warrington. Grappenhall was also close to the north-western edge of the large Great Budworth parish in an area called Over Whitley which stretched a further six miles south-west beyond Grappenhall to the parish church of Great Budworth.

A less likely possibility is that John was born on 14 Dec 1654 in Nantwich, the son of Thomas.

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9Gg Anthony Fearneley (c1610 to before 1676) Latchford, Warrington

Go to Notes on the research on Grappenhall Fearnleys

Anthony had at least four children baptised at St Wilfred’s, Grappenhall: George (29 Sep 1647, Latchford), Ellen (3 Oct 1652), John (17 Mar 1650, Latchford) and Jane (5 Jan 1655, Grappenhall). Anthony’s wife’s name is unknown as it was not required in the parish baptismal records of her children at that time. Anthony’s son John (1650) is the most likely candidate for our 8Gg and Anthony for our 9Gg.

Much is known about Anthony’s elder son George (1647) as George left a Will in 1707 (see Great Budworth Wills). George (1647) married Mary Tompson on 2 Apr 1676 in Warrington (an IGI record). They had children Margret (9 Feb 1677, IGI), George (16 Feb 1679, IGI) and John (6 Jun 1680, LPRS book) in Warrington. In 1680, at the birth of his son John, George Fearnley was living in Orford, Warrington, and baptised his son at St. Elphin’s church, and later had more children when living in Great Budworth after receipt of an inheritance from his aunt Mary ffernley.

Clues to the siblings and parents of Anthony are found in the Wills of Fearnleys in Over Whitley, Cheshire, in the parish of Great Budworth and, also, more details of John’s older brother: George (1647). Anthony had a spinster sister, Mary ffearnley, who wrote a Will in 1676 in which she mentions that she had a nephew George, son of the deceased Anthony. The Inventory of Thomas ffearnley in 1616 points, rather cryptically, to his having a son Anthony. That would make Anthony at least 31 years old when he had his son George in Grappenhall parish. Anthony might also have had sisters Marjorie (1595) and Bridget (1602) and brothers Lawrence (1600) and Thomas (1589). One of these sisters is likely to have married William ffazackerley and had four children. One of these four children was Alice, a co-inheritor of Mary’s estate along with George (1647).

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10Gg Thomas Fearnley? (1560 to 1616. This is speculative and more work is required.)

Go to Notes on the research on Great Budworth Fearnleys

Our 10Gg Thomas may or may not be the Thomas who was baptised on 9 Mar 1559 (now 1560) at Great Budworth and married Ellin Widdows on 3 Sep 1580 at Great Budworth. There are baptisms of children of Thomas in Great Budworth:

Thomas 7 July 1589 & burial of an infant 24 Sep 1589

Peter 20 Dec 1589

{Assuming that the above two baptisms, July and December 1589, were close after the births, then there must be two Thomas ffearnleys having children in Great Budworth in this period.}

George 26 Jan 1592

Marjorie 3 Aug 1595

Lawrence 2 Mar 1600

Bridget 25 Dec 1602.


A “Mr” Thomas ffearnley of Antrobus was buried on 6 May 1616. Also, a Thomas ffearnley of Antrobus was buried eight days later. The latter Thomas is the one who left an Inventory and is our possible 10Gg ancestor. Presumably, “Mr” Thomas, or a third and unknown Thomas, married Ellin and had a child: Peter (1589) and George (1592). The Inventory of 1616 lists three names: Anton, Lorrenz and Thomas and this may be a very flimsy clue that our 10Gg Thomas may have had three sons: Thomas (1589 -1589) and Lawrence (1600) and Anthony (?). Lawrence, son of Thomas, was baptised in Great Budworth on 2 Mar 1599 (date now 1600), but work is still required to locate the baptism of Anthony. Thomas must have had another son, alive in 1616, named Thomas after the son who died as an infant in 1589.

Thomas had a daughter Mary, which is a deduction with no parish record evidence, who was buried a spinster in Antrobus on 14 Sep 1680, leaving a Will naming George as her nephew, son of a deceased Anthony. The Will of Peter, 1616, seems to indicate that Marjorie (1595) and Bridget (1602) were also our Thomas’s daughters. Thomas had at least one brother, deduced to be John of Shawbrooke, Antrobus, who left a Will and was buried on 16 Apr 1611 after dying, probably of the plague. It is likely that Thomas also died of the plague. Our Thomas might also have had a sister Eme (or Gwendillian?) who married William Newall on 24 Sep 1608.

Anthony is an unusual name in the records in the Fearnley history and it is a fanciful speculation that Thomas might have named his son Anthony after Shakespeare’s Anthony & Cleopatra was first produced around 1608 (rather than after Antonio in the Merchant of Venice first produced ten years earlier). So perhaps Anthony was born between 1608 and 1616. If Anthony was born a few years after his brother Lawrence (1600), then Anthony would have been say 45 years old at the time of the birth of his first son. This is probably too late an age suggesting that this Thomas is not our 10Gg ancestor. But if Anthony was born in say 1615 then he would only have been 32 at the time of his first son’s birth. But 1615 is a long time after the birth of a sibling in 1589, though not impossible. On the other hand could the civil war have had a role in delaying the start of Anthony’s family? There was civil war action in Warrington, however, in 1648 when Cromwell visited the town, though that is after the birth of Anthony’s son, so the civil war may not be a plausible cause of an aged parent.

There were also significant civil war camps and action in Nantwich, Beeston castle and Chester and it is speculated that two of the brothers, Lawrence (to Chester) and Thomas (to Nantwich), were re-settled because of the war. (Click here for history of the Nantwich Fearnleys and Chester Fearnleys.)

A burial on 22 May 1634 of a Thomas son of Thomas ffearnley of Middlewalk, Antrobus, however, may throw some caution onto assuming that Anthony’s brother Thomas went to Nantwich. A link between the Nantwich and Chester Fearnley families, though, does seem likely.

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Fearnleys in Nantwich, Chester and Tarporley, Cheshire in 1613 to 1682

(Click here for notes on the investigation of the family tree in Nantwich.)

Before finding a more likely candidate for our 8Gg in the 1650 baptism of John Fearnley in the Grappenhall parish registers, the investigation took a long but intriguing detour down a possible side branch of John Fearnley (1654) and his family of Nantwich. It is now my speculation that these two Johns may be first cousins. The clue that set off the investigation of John of Nantwich was given by Bob Fearnley (See the website The CPRdb: Cheshire Parish Register Database website held a record of this baptism and also gave John’s father’s name (Thomas) and John’s sister (Anne) as follows:

Baptism 2 May 1647 Margery, daughter of Thomas Fearnley, Nantwich, Cheshire

Burial 11 June 1649 Margery, daughter of Thomas Fearnley, Nantwich, Cheshire

Baptism 14 December 1654 John, son of Thomas Fearnley, Nantwich, Cheshire

Burial 26 May 1656 Lorrence Fearnley, resident of “Caug.”, Parish of Backford near Chester

Burial 27 December 1656 Anne, daughter of Thomas Fearnley, Nantwich, Cheshire

Burial 6 June 1660 Thomas Fearnley, Nantwich, Cheshire


This website also gave the baptism and death records of Elizabeth Fearnley (1718- 1818) of St. Mary’s parish of Chester, which suggested that there may have been much later Fearnleys in Chester perhaps descended from or related to Lorrence of Backford, Chester.


The Nantwich baptisms of these Fearnleys were confirmed by viewing microfilms of the original records for St. Mary’s of Nantwich. A microfilm of parish records of the nearby St Mary’s of Acton gave also:

Born 18 September 1657 Lawrance, son of Thomas Fearneley, (baptised on 8 December), St. Mary’s, Acton, near Nantwich.

Born 18 September 1659 Sarah, daughter of Thomas Fearneley, (baptised on 11 October), St. Mary’s, Acton, near Nantwich.

For some reason the family, if the records are in fact all from the same family, switched parishes from Nantwich to the nearby Acton in early 1657. The IGI website has a record of a Sarah Fearnley marrying a Thomas Harrison in 27 July 1682 in Chester. Also, the IGI gave a birth of the same Sarah Fearnley in Chester c1651. The latter must have been arrived at by subtracting a speculative 21 years from an accurate date of marriage and assuming that her birth took place in the same place as the marriage. The Chester baptism and marriage turn out to be correct in the original use of the name Chester to denote the county of Cheshire rather than the city of Chester. The book Chester Marriage Licences, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, Vol. 1, 1606-16, lists:


27 July 1682 Thomas Harrison, of Namptwich, and Sarah Fernley, of same, Spinster. Bondsman, John Wright. At Namptwich, Acton or Marbury.

Some latitude appears to have been given in the licence as to the church to be used, but Marbury was chosen. Marbury is about eight miles to the south west of Nantwich. The marriage is recorded in the Marbury parish records and it refers to a John Wainwright, rather than John Wright as bondsman and the record uses an old name for Nantwich, i.e. Malbanc.


The death of Lorrence Fearnley in Backford, Chester in May 1656 was followed by the baptism of Lawrence Fearnley in Acton, Nantwich, in September 1657. This could perhaps be a sign that the Chester and Nantwich families were related and in touch with each other. Lawrence is not a common name but does appear as a Fearnley Christian name in the 1600s in Mottram in Longdendale, east of Manchester, and also in Over Whitley, in the large parish of Great Budworth, Cheshire. I suspect that Lorrence of Chester may have been the brother of Thomas of Nantwich, and they also may have had a brother Anthony (more details), near Warrington, who was father of the more likely candidate John (1650) for our 8Gg. If that is the case, it is possible that the civil war of the 1640s had made the brothers mobile and caused their dispersion from a single place. Nantwich was a stage on the coach route from London to Chester at that time. Nantwich and Chester were also the sites of army camps and battles in the civil war.


The Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies holds transcripts of Nantwich and Acton parish records. Although they were handwritten and there was no index of surnames to the transcripts, they were still very much easier to read than the microfilms of original records. From these were found:


Marriage 27 October 1660 George Whintiley & Anne Fearneley, St. Mary’s, Acton, near Nantwich.

Baptism 19 August 1661 Margery, daughter of George Whintiley, St. Mary’s, Acton, near Nantwich.

Baptism 19 June 1664 Hannah, daughter of George Whintiley, St. Mary’s, Acton, near Nantwich.

From these records, it appears that Thomas Fearnley had been married to Anne. Thomas died in June 1660 and Anne re-married in October of that year to George Whintiley. It was possibly an economic necessity to re-marry so soon after being widowed with two young children. Their first child, in 1661, was named Margery Whintiley probably after her child Margery Fearnley who had died in 1649 aged two years.


The following record may be the baptism of the Harrison who married Sarah Fearnley in Marbury in 1682 (although his father may instead have been Thomas, with a record not yet found):


Baptism 16 July 1654 Thomas, son of William Harrison, St. Mary’s, Nantwich.

And the following record may be the baptism of their first child in Nantwich:

Baptism 23 February 1685 Margery, daughter Thomas Harrison junior glover.

Sarah’s daughter is another Margery named perhaps after the daughter that her mother, Anne, conceived in 1661. One of her further children in 1691 is a Hannah. Perhaps Sarah is naming her own children after her step-sisters?

A complication is the large number of Harrison records of Nantwich. The term “Thomas Harrison junior glover” in the baptism of Margery in 1685 appears to indicate that Thomas’s father was also a Thomas Harrison, rather than a William. I doubt that he would have been termed a “junior glover” at the age of 31 years.

No other events were found in the Nantwich and Acton records for John (1654). I have not checked the Marbury parish records for more events.

Another very speculative diversion takes in the Fearnleys of Tarporley. An Anne Fearnley was slandered by John Witter of Tarporley, ref. a court case of 1635 (A2A website). Could she be Anne the wife of Richard Fearnley who was having a family in 1613-1619 some twenty years earlier in Tarporley? Or perhaps the Thomas Fearnley who had a daughter in 1637 in Tarporley is the same man who married an Anne (Thomas Fearnley of Nantwich had a wife named Anne) and went to live in Nantwich (which was not too far away and was on the main highway from Nantwich to Chester) and had more Fearnley children from 1647-1659. But the Anne in Nantwich re-married to have three Whintiley children from 1660-1664 which probably makes too long a child bearing span (1637-1664) for it to be the same Anne.

The Fearnley records found in Tarporley are as follows.

·         Baptism of Jane fearnley the daughter of Richard fearnley and Anne his wyfe on the sixth? daie of November (1613)

·         Baptism of Margaret ffearnley daughter of Richard fearnley of Tarpley on the 4th daie of January 1615 (now 1616)

·         Baptism of William ffearnall the sonne of Richard ffearnall of Tarporley on the fifth of December 1619. {Is this Richard ffearnall really Richard fearnley the same as above? I have a suspicion that Fearnall was occasionally written instead of Fearnley, as happened in the Will of George, 1707. Was Fearnall thought to be a more 'latin', or more formal, version of the name Fearnley? Also, ordinary people at this time could probably not write and therefore not know what the registrar was writing. Alternatively, the registrar may have written the variant of the name that was most familiar to him?}

·         Baptism of Elizabeth the daughter of Thomas F(?)earnley on the fifth day of January 1636 (now 1637)

There was also mention of the surname Witter in the Tarporley parish events, including a John Witter.

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Wills and deeds of Fearnleys in and around Warrington and Winwick parish 1663 to 1852

(Click here for notes on the investigation of the Wills.)


Photocopies of seven Wills and/or Inventories of Fearnleys in the Warrington and Winwick area between 1663 and 1852 were obtained from the Lancashire Record Office, Preston:


·         Ann ffearnley of Warrington 1663

·         William Fearnley of Hulme, parish of Winwick 1666

·         John Fearnley of Ince in Makerfield 1799

·         Peter Fearnley of Ashton, parish of Winwick 1802

·         George Fearnley (Fearndley) of Warrington 1822

·         George Fearnley of Golborne 1835

·         Margaret Fearnley of Ashton with Makerfield 1837


A photocopy of a Will of one former Fearnley in the Warrington of 1852 was obtained from the Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies, Chester:

·         Ellen Pickton (formerly Fearnley) of Warrington 1852


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Summaries of the Wills and Inventories are shown below.

ANNE FFEARNLEY of Warrington 1663


Anne Fearnley is not known to be related to our family tree. I first came across a reference to Anne Fearnley on the British History web site:


Footnote 24 “But few Warrington cases appear in the Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.). John Bate, who had gone to reside in the enemy's quarters, but had since taken the National Covenant, was allowed to compound in 1646; i, 152; as also was Anne Fearnley, a widow, whose delinquency was similar; ii, 314.”

Reference: 'The parish of Warrington: Introduction, church and charities', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3 (1907), pp. 304-316. URL:


Her burial, assuming that it is the same person, at St. Elphin’s church in Warrington took place on 21 Nov 1663 “Mris Ann [Bulling, allies] ffernley” as recorded in the Warrington parish registers.

Anne’s Will written on 16 November 1663 mentions a cousin named Elizabeth Bullinge and various ‘frends’. This, together with the parish record entry, suggests that her maiden name was Bullinge. Charles Bullinge is perhaps her brother. She has a nephew Edward Harding [the spelling is uncertain]. John Bate and John Beswick were Executors of the Will and John Shaw and Gwinett Wilkinson were witnesses to the Will.



Item I doo give to my cosen Elizabeth Bullinge a chark choker

I doo give to Charles Bullinge one silver spoon

I give Charles Toppinge one silver spoon

I give Luke Sutcliffe five shillings

I give Will Dobes[?] five shillings

I give Gwinett Wilkinson a xxx chasse petticote and a third part of my wearing xx for my body

I give Anne Barnes a third pt of my wearing xx for my body

I give Maudlin Beswick five xxx xxx

I give Elizabeth Toppinge one silver spoon

I give Maudlin Beswick a third pt of my wearing xx for my body

I give Margrett Shaw five shillings

I give John Haslor[?] five shillings


All the remainder of my goods beside the expenses of my ffunerall I leve to the dicretion of my two executors for the use of my nephew Edward Harding[?] except x shall spend by my executors on my behalf I doo ordayne John Bate and John Beswick my lawfull executors in this my last will and testament under my hand this sixteenth day of November 1663

The mark of Anne ffearnley


Witnes to this will:

Signed John x Shaw

Signed Gwinett x Wilkinson



There is a long Inventory which has not yet been transcribed. It totalled £63-15-10.


Anne was described as a widow in the Civil War internet reference and as ‘Mris’ in the parish registers, but she does not mention any children in her Will, nor the name of her deceased husband. The IGI, however, gives a record of the marriage in Warrington on 25 November 1630 of Philip Fearnley to Ann Bulling.

There is an IGI record of the Baptism of Philip Fearnley in Warrington in c1605. But this record has surely been invented with a standard speculation that Philip was born where he married, and married at the age of 25. It is possible that there is a Warrington birth but the record is missing. There is also a chance that Philip was the same Philip registered as baptised on 25 June 1604 at Great Budworth as the son of George fferneley of Over Whitley.

A Phillippe Fearnley the younger inherits minor goods in the Will of Robert Fearnley of Crowley, from Will and Codicil written in 1623/1629. He is possibly the same Philip.

On 4 Sep 1637 a John Loaton marries an Ann ffearnley at Warrington. Perhap Philip died between 1630 and 1637 and Ann re-married to John Loaton?


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WILLIAM FFEARNLEY of Hulme, parish of Winwick 1666


William ffearnley had an Inventory written on 22 June 1666. Our 6Great Grandfather John Fearnley was born in Ashton in 1711 but lived in Hulme (died 1774). If William was a direct ancestor of ours he would have pre-dated John in this area of Winwick. Such is the lack of confidence in the accuracy of the early family tree that I had been quite expecting, while waiting for the copy of the Will to arrive from Preston, to need to add to the possibilities for our ancestors earlier than 5Gg James.


“Memorand that the 22nd day of June 1666 Wee Richard Jenings and George Batterby whose names are subscribed finding to visitt William Fearnley late of Hulme in the parish of Winwick & county of Lancaster now dead, who was then sick in body but of sound & pfect minde & iudgemt the said William ffearnley did thou declare that it was his will and minde that his debts should bee paid out of his lands in Cheshire which he did freely give to Jaquett his then wife & now which all his goods moveables and immovables of what quality soever hee dyed possest of and did then further will & declare that neither his sister’s friends, nor any of his allyes should have one pennyworth of his goods but only his wife - Jaquett.


Wittnes of[?] hands[?]

Richard Jenings

George x Batersbee

his mark

Margaret M Kerfot

her mark

Adam Ranson



March 5 1666

John Sefton[?} xxx Jaquette ffearnley xxxetc [obscured and in Latin]

Tho: Bouchire[?]”





“A true and pefect inventory of all the goods and chattels of William ffearnley of Houlme in the county of Lancaster deceased

L s d

ye mis[?] for [=four?] twenty measures of Barley


for [=four?] Hay


iii swine


One gray meare


One cubbord


One broome


One chest


One Hackney Saddle


One mattock


Two sheeres


One bill one hatchet


One little pott


Three bedhillings


Foure quishms[?]


One chascbed


One pack saddle one paire of panniers, one wonty[?] one brydle


The apparrill of the deceased


Valleued by us John x Mather his mark

Adam Ranson

5 March 1666”



William left everything, rather amusingly quoted as down to his ‘last pennyworth’, to his wife Jaquett. He also had a living sister who was not named. It is probable that Margaret Kerfot, who was the only female to witness the Inventory, was his sister.

It is also possible that William was the same William, son of John, baptised in Great Budworth on 9 Oct 1625 “Gulielmus fil: Johannis Fearnely de Anterbus” [Anterbus=Antrobus]. There was a John Kerfoot who baptised a daughter Margret Kerfoot in Winwick on 30 January 1666. Perhaps John is Margaret’s husband. But these are just possibilities while the true facts may be unknown.

No mention is made of any children of William and so there is no need to re-write our possible ancestors. What is important is that the Inventory mentions that “his debts should bee paid out of his lands in Cheshire”. This quite probably points to William having lands in Cheshire near Warrington, e.g. in the nearby parishes of Grappenhall, Great Budworth or Daresbury. It is interesting that Lancashire testators referred to their neighbouring county as ‘Cheshire’ in 1666, yet in Cheshire they referred to their own county as ‘Chester’. Similarly, the Lancashire Wills referred to their own county as ‘Lancaster’ while Cheshire Wills referred to their adjoining county as ‘Lancashire’. It may be the case that William’s early connections with landowners or farmers in Hulme proved useful for later generations of Fearnley moving to and farming in Hulme; and it certainly points to movement of people from Cheshire to the Winwick parish, near and to the north of Warrington.

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JOHN FEARNLEY of Ince 1799

John Fearnley of “Ince within Mackerfield” was a yeoman with at least four cottages or ‘dwelling houses’ in Hindley who wrote a Will in 1792, which was executed in 1799. John had sons Peter and John, and granddaughter Ellen Johnson. Also he had two other sons: Thomas and Edward.


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PETER FEARNLEY of Ashton, parish of Winwick 1802

Peter Fearnley of Ashton in the parish of Winwick wrote a Will on 20 November 1803 and was buried soon after on 27th November, at the age of 78. He does not appear to be a direct ancestor of ours.



“In the name of God Amen, I Peter Fearnley of Ashton in the Parish of Winwick and County of Lancaster being of sound Mind & Memory do make constitute appoint and ordain this to be my last Will and testament. First it is my Will and mind that my Body after my decease be decently Intered in the earth from whence I Originally came, and that all my Just Debts and funeral Expenses be paid by my Executors herein named as soon as it can conveniently be done after my decease; Item I give to my executors herein after named all my real And personal Estates, Goods & Chattels of any kind whatever for the use And uses herein after named first it is Will and mind that my son Edward Fearnley be paid out of my Estate & effects Forty five pounds of Good & Lawfull money as his full share of my estate & effects to be paid him by my executors herein after named in Twelve Calandar Months after my decease. Item I give unto my son William the like sum of Forty five pounds but as appears my son William Fearnley is much xxx in debt I leave to the Discretion of my Executors to pay such of his debts as they in their discretion shall seem right to do and I hereby wish it to be understood that such debts of my son William Fearnley as my Executors may pay is to be deducted out of the said Forty five pounds by one hxx decreased to them and the Remainder to be paid to Him in Twelve Calandar months Next after my decease; the Remainder and Residue of my estate and effects I give and Bequeath unto my Daughter Elizabeth Fearnley subject to the regulations hereafter named, my son John Fearnley, and my son Peter Fearnley to be divided by them equally Share & Share alike subject to the regulations hereinafter named and it is my Will & Mind that if my daughter Elizabeth Marrys then my son John & Peter shall cause a Valuatory to be Made of all the Effects they then stand possessed of and it is my Will and Mind that my daughter Elizabeth shall receive for her sole use the Net lawfull Interest of One Third Share of the Principal they then stand possessed of And in Case my son John or my son Peter either of them Marries then it is my Will and Mind that they shall quit[?] the fore xxx I now hold and be paid them one third share of the property they have amongst them three that is Elizabeth, John and Peter and it is my Will and Mind that they are long not unmarried Retain the Interest in my Estate and Effects and it is my Will and Mind that if my daughter Elizabeth have Issue by Marriage then I wish it to be understood that one third share of my Effects derived to Her be paid to Her as soon as conveniently may be after the Birth of such Issue anything herein to the contrary Notwithstanding – And I have a pew in the New Gallery of Ashton Church I give and bequeath it to my Daughter Elizabeth my son John & my son Peter to be by them mutually Enjoyed, Lastly I nominate and appoint my son John Fearnley, my son Peter Fearnley and James Jameson Executors of this my last Will & Testament giving unto them all my Estate & Effects real & Personal for the use And uses herein beforementioned; And be it understood and it is my Will and Mind that if any Disputes arise respecting the Intent and meaning of this my last Will & Testament they shall be finally decided by James Jameson according to the txxx hereof . I do hereby Revoke and do annul all Wills by me heretofore made and I hereby declare this to be my last & Testament and have hereunto affixed my Hand & Seal this Twentieth day of November in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred & Two.

Peter Fearnley his mark

Signed Sealed and Delivered in the Presence of us the last Will & Testament of the said Testator

James Hall

Joseph Hall

Thomas Jameson”



We already knew from parish records that Peter was born in Ashton on 2 Aug 1724 and was christened in St. Thomas’s, Ashton in Makerfield, on 16 Aug 1724. Peter married Elizabeth Pinnington on 2 Oct 1753 in St. Oswald’s, Winwick. They baptised Edward (1753) and William (1755), both born in Ashton. Peter’s wife, Elizabeth, was buried on 9 Mar 1780 in Winwick, aged 62. This Will has added new information to the family tree as it mentions sons Edward, William, daughter Elizabeth, sons John and Peter in that order, which is probably their order of birth. See also the Will of Margaret the widow of son Peter.


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George was a victualler who died intestate. His widow, Ellen Pickton, was administratrix of his estate, which appears to have been worth £1200, with details in an administration bond. Ellen herself left a Will executed in 1852.


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GEORGE FEARNLEY of Golborne 1835


George Fearnley of Golborne wrote a Will in 1833 and died on 5 May 1835. According to his Will, George had a wife Alice, a sister Mary (nee Fearnley) who had married a Weawell living in Lowton in the Winwick parish, a grandson George, and four nephews William, Henry, John and George, a niece Ann Fearnley and two deceased nieces Mary and Betsey. There is also an Ann Fearnley and a Betty Fearnley who is the sister of grandson George.  George's sister Mary had a daughter Betty Baker, wife of Thomas Baker of Lowton.

It is likely, from parish register data, that this George Fearnley married Matty (Martha?) Adamson on 17 Aug 1786 and she was buried on 20 Mar 1818, aged 54, in Golborne leaving George to remarry. George then married Alice Grimshaw on 14 Sep 1819 in Winwick. Alice was born in 1771 and was of independent means in 1841 and living with Mary Grimshaw, aged 40, in Golborne. Further work is needed on the Weawell family tree in Winwick to try to shed light on our 4Ggrandmother, Betty Weawell who married Joseph Fearnley, as it is a slight possibility that ‘Betty’ Weawell, who also seemed to call herself ‘Ann’, may be Ann the niece of George.

“In the name of God, Amen. I George Fearnley, of Golborne, in the County of Lancaster, weaver, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding but mindful of my mortality do this 21st day of February in the year of our Lord 1833, make and publish this my last will and testament in matter and form following; that is to say:- I order and direct all my past debts, funeral expenses and the charge of the Probate of this my last will and testament to be paid. Then I give and devise unto my dear wife Alice Fearnley all my freehold property consisting of three cottages with gardens and appurtenances thereunto belonging the same being situate in the township of Golborne for her own use during the term of her natural life; and after her decease I give and devise the same unto my sister Mary Waywell of Lowton for her own use during her life time; and after the several deceases of my said dear wife and my said sister Mary Waywell, I give and devise the same in manner following; that is to say: I give and devise unto my said sister’s grandson George Fearnley the cottage, which is at this time occupied by myself, it being one of the above mentioned cottages, together with the appurtenances thereunto belonging, the same being the garden in front of the cottage and as far as the place call’d the turning[?] gutter on the back part of the cottage to him, his heirs and assigns for ever; such sister’s grandson George Fearnley nevertheless paying thereout the sum of five pounds unto his sister Mary Fearnley. – Also, after my said dear wifes and my said sister’s several deceases, I give and devise the other two cottages, now severally occupied by John Prescot and John Gummershaw as tenants thereof, unto my said sister’s daughter Betty Baker, the wife of Thomas Baker of Lowton their heirs and assigns for ever; such Betty or Thomas Baker being subject nevertheless to the payment of ten pounds therefrom that is five pounds to be paid to the aforesaid George Fearnley’s sister Betty Fearnley and five pounds to his sister Ann Fearnley and in case any of the sisters should happen to die before the said legacies become due then such deceas’ds share to be equally divided amongst the survivor or survivors. Also I give and bequeath unto my said dear wife Alice Fearnley the use or interest of the principal sum of money which may be remaining in the hands of Benjamin Pierpoint Malster of Warrington & belonging to me to and for her own use during the term of her natural life; and after her decease I give the same unto my sister Mary Waywell of Lowton aforesaid during her life time; after which several deceases of my wife and sister, I give and bequeath the said Principal sum of money unto my four nephews William Fearnley, Henry Fearnley, John Fearnley & George Fearnley and unto my niece Ann Fearnley each of them to have a share alike, and also two equal shares of the same unto my deceas’d nieces (Mary and Betsey’s) children, each mothers share to be equally divided amongst her own children and if any of the above mentiond nephews, neice or children should happen to die before the distribution of the said Principal sum, the deceas’d share or shares to be equally divided among the survivors, for their own use their executors, administrators and assigns. Also I give to my said dear wife Alice Fearnley all my household goods and remainer of my estate whatsoever and wheresoever, and of what nature, kind and quality soever the same may be, and not herein before given and disposed, to and for her own use and benefit absolutely. And I do herby make, ordain, constitute and appoint Mr Robert Worsley Manufacturers of Golborne and Henry Birchall Pipe Maker of Golborne, executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills and testaments by me at any time heretofore made. In witness whereof I have to this my last will and testament set and subscribed my hand and seal, the day and year first above written


George x Fearnley


Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the said testator George Fearnley as and for his last will and testament, in the presence of us who, at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our name as witnesses thereto.

George Waddington

John Prescot

Thomas Wright



The eighteenth day of September 1835 Henry Birchall one of the Executors in this will named was sworn in common form, however[?] being reserved to Robert Worsley the other Executor therein also named to take upon him the execution of the said will, when he shall xxx fully request the same and he further made oath that the personal estate and effects of the testator were under the value of two hundred pounds

Before me

Jonathan Topping



The testator died the 5th day of May 1835


Probate issued

Dated 18 September 1835”


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MARGARET FEARNLEY of Ashton with Makerfield 1837


Margaret was the wife of the late Peter, son of Peter (1802 Will). Parish records show that Margaret was born Margaret Naylor to Robert and Sarah (Marsh) on 25 July 1757 at Warrington and that she married Peter Fearnley on 25 Jul 1802 at Warrington.


Peter's Will of 1825 (he was buried on 8 August 1826, aged 63) was covered in Margaret’s Will and is summarised as follows:

Peter had brothers John, William and Edward (deceased) and a sister Betty. He also had nephews William, a nail maker, and John, a farmer. Peter's brother, William, had a daughter Catharine, who had an illegitimate child, Alice.


Margaret's bequests show that she had nieces Betty Marsh, daughter of her sister Grace Clarke, and Jane Cunliffe, daughter of her late sister Mary Birchall. Margaret also had a brother William Naylor, who had a daughter Margaret Hodson, both of whom were mentioned in the Will. Margaret’s Will is very long and is not transcribed here.


The information in this Will is leading my brother Edward to re-write this section of our wider family tree as Peter’s brother William now probably looks to have married an Alice Gaskell on 14 Aug 1785 (rather than marrying Martha Sugden as previously thought to have been the most likely).


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ELLEN PICKTON of Latchford 1852

On the envelope: probate dated Feb 1st 1852 of will of Ellen Pickton formerly Fearnley dated Apr 6th 1848 who died Dec 11th 1851.  Legacy receipts etc.


She left legacies to five people; the details were on tax receipts.

Joseph Gerrard, brother of Ellen    £98 - 9 - 4

Mary Potter, sister of Ellen           £98 - 9 - 4

Sarah Stevenson, sister of Ellen and wife of Nicholas Stevenson, a file cutter    £147- 13 - 11

George Gerrard, brother of Ellen                            £147- 13 - 11

Rachel Mather, niece of Ellen & daughter of George Gerrard & wife of William Mather        £78- 15 - 5

Funeral expenses   £1- 0 - 10

Probate admin.   £4- 14 - 3

Probate expenses  £3- 3 - 0

Total            £580- 0 - 0


Extracts from the Will:

" ...and whereas by indenture of Settlement bearing date on or about the 12 March 1823 made between the said Isaac Pickton of the first part, me the said Ellen Pickton, then Ellen Fearnley of the second part and Thomas Leigh of Warrington aforesaid Gentleman of the third part certain sums of money household furniture stock in trade and other effects of me ...."


"... and whereas there is no issue of the said marriage and whereas the sum of 340 pounds has been advanced by my said husband and myself out of the said trust fund of 1500 pounds unto James Fearnley the father of my former husband George Fearnley leaving the sum of 1160 pounds the net balance of the said trust fund..."


 "... Thomas Leigh (who is now dead)..."


Ellen Pickton had been previously been married to George Fearnley, Victualler, of Warrington who died in 1822. George was the son of a James Fearnley.


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Wills, deeds and rents of Fearnleys in Great Budworth parish, Cheshire 1588 to 1707

(Click here for notes on the investigation of the Wills.)


Photocopies of ten Wills and/or Inventories of Fearnleys in the Great Budworth area between 1606 and 1707 were obtained from the Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies office at Chester:


·         George ffernley of Middlewalk 1707

·         Mary ffernley of Antrobus 1676/1680

·         Katherin ffearnley of Over Whitley 1634

·         Robert ffearnley of Crowley 1623/1629

·         Bridget ffearneley of Over Whitley, Inventory 1618

·         Alice ffearneley of Antrobus, Inventory 1617

·         Thomas ffearnley of Over Whitley, Inventory 1616

·         Peter ffearnley of Over Whitley 1616

·         George ffearnley of Over Whitley 1613

·         John ffearnley of Shawbrooke, Great Budworth 1611.

·         Wills of in-laws


Summaries of Deeds were found in the Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies website.


·         Deeds witnessed by George Fernley 1609 and 1615

·         Deed of Thomas Fernely, Winnington, 1558


Rents were found in Charles F Foster’s book: Capital and Innovation - how Britain became the first industrial nation - a study of the Warrington, Knutsford, Northwich and Frodsham area 1500-1780.


·         Rents of Fearnleys in 1526/7, 1545, 1595, 1612 and 1662 in the Whitley Lordship


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Summaries of the Wills and Inventories are shown below.

GEORGE FFEARNELEY of Middlewalk 1707

George ffearneley is the brother of 8Gg John Fearnley. George ffearneley was baptised on 29 Sep 1647 at St Wilfred’s, Grappenhall parish, the son of Anthonye ffearneley of Latchford. George ffearnley of “Midlewalke”, Antrobus, was buried on 12 Jan 1706 (now 1707) at St Marys and All Saints, Great Budworth parish. Although I cannot find Middlewalk on a modern map, ‘The Pole’ was the home of the Eaton family and the parish records show that The Pole was in Middlewalk. The Pole is still to be seen in Pole lane, Antrobus.


George ffearneley

+ Mary Tompson (possibly buried 23 Aug 1728, GB) married George on 2 Apr 1676 Warrington (IGI), and their children were:

-          Margret (9 Feb 1677 Warrington (IGI) -?)

-          George (16 Feb 1679 Warrington (IGI) - ?)

{this George must have died young, leaving John noted in the Will as the eldest son}

-          John son of George ffearnlay of Orford was baptised at St. Elphins Warrington on 8 Aug 1680. John is the eldest son.

-          Margret (c1684? - ?) {Presumably, the earlier Margret born in 1677 must also have died young}

-          Georg (23 May 1685 Great Budworth - ?) son of George de Middlewalk

-          Anthony (c1687? - ?) {named after the baby’s grandfather Anthony of Latchford}

-          Sarah (c1689? - ?)

-          William (c1691? - ?)


George, a “loving” son, was one of the two executors of his father’s Will in 1707. The other was Richard Hall, George senior’s brother-in-law from Croft in the Winwick parish. Richard Hall would have married either Ellen (baptised 3 Oct 1652) or Jane (5 Jan 1655) who are the two daughters, born in Grappenhall, of Anthony ffearneley.


The total amount in the Inventory was £94. George left £30 to be divided equally between his five “younger sort of children”: Margret, Georg, Anthony, Sarah and William and it is assumed that this order of listing in the Will is the order of their birth. His eldest son John received his horses and assignes for life (the wording, however, is difficult to decipher in this part of the Will). George’s “younger sort” of children would have been those assumed to have been born in Antrobus rather than in Orford, Warrington.

It is a concern that the baptism records of most children named in the Will above were not found in parish records. George may also have had a daughter Mary on 4 Feb 1683, but if so she must have died before the 1707 Will was written. {Baptism in Great Budworth church on 4 Feb 1682 (now 1683): Maria filia Georgii Fernly de Antrobus.}


An oddity in the Will is a latinised listing of the two executors George and Richard named as Georgius fearnall et Richardus Hall. Perhaps the latinising of ‘ffearneley’ into ‘fearnall’ was just a spelling error? Also there are three different spellings of the name Fearnley in the Will.


Another curiosity in the Will is that George’s wife, Mary, is only named once and that was in a memorandum which states that if Mary marries again then she shall have 20 shillings a year and “goo out of this hause as long as she shall live”. This was witnessed by Edward Gandy at the time of the sealing of the Will. A Mary Fernley who was buried in Great Budworth on 23 Aug 1728 could have been George’s widow.


“In the name of god Amen of George ffearnly of Midlewalke in the Lordship of Over Whitley in the county of Chester yeoman being weak in body but prayse be the Almighty god but of a sound person and disposing(?) memory and considering the uncertainty of this transitory life and being minded to sett in order my temporall afaires and to dispose of such estates as god in his goodness hath blessed me with doo therefore make this my last will and testament in manner and forme following dated the twenty third day of November in the year of x 1706 And first of all it is my will and mind that my personal estate shall pay the charge of all funeral expenses and providing of this my will and what is over and above be towards all such debts as I shall owe at the time of my death soo far as it will extend to pay and also it is my will and mind I doo hereby give x and bequeath unto my loving wife the dwelling house I now live in together with the garden and the homeyard and the croft at the side of the lower leed? dureing her naturall life and in lewe of her X and allso as x the x and closures of land lying on the farside of the homeyarde it? x my will and mind that my executors hereafter named shall stand and be seised and have power to get? and sell? the two crofts and the surs? of land soo longeunt? x x as they shall or reasonably may out of those fills those of laise such sumes or sume of money as is herein. And hereafter mentioned and x x that is to say soo much of my debts as my personall estate will not extend to pay And also it is my will and mind and I doo hereby give and bequeath unto Richard Hall of Croft in Lancashire the sum of one pound & likewise to his wife ten shilling my sister as legasses to them And alsoo And it is my will and mind that my executors as afore said shall raise the sum of thirty pound for ye use and benefit of my younger sort of children to be theire ffilial working which I doo order them to pay as followeth that is to say six pounds part thereof to pay my daughter Margaret ffearnly for soone as the same is raised And also to pay unto my son Georg ffearnely the sum of six pounds part thereof for soone as the same is raised And also shall pay unto my son Anthony ffearnely the sum of six pound part thereof soo soone as the same is likewise raised And also shall pay unto my daughter Sarah ffearnely the sum of six pound part thereof soo soone as the same is likewise raised And likewise shall pay unto my son William ffearnely the sum of six pound x of therefore said sum of thirty pound to be raised out of the expenses aforesaid And as ffor and in? X x the afore said x x garden homeyard and the croft at the lower ledd side together with the two croft on x of land Immediatly after the death of my said wife as also the aforesaid sums or sume charged as aforesaid upon the x wise and x x of the charges herein mentioned and as the same shall x and and x together with the x and x and remainder thereof It is my will and mind Ad I doo hereby will x give and bequeath the same unto my oldest son John ffearnely his horses? And assngs for ever And I doo hereby publish this to be my last will and testament in wittnes Here of Georg ffearnely herehow unto set and put my hand and seals x for the twenty first day and years first above written x.

And I doo hereby nominate and appoint my loving son George ffearnely and my loving brother in law Richard Hall of Croft in Lancashire to be my executors to see this my last will executed.



George ffearneley X his mark


Sealed signed and published to be my last will & testament in the presence of


Richard Peacock

Thomas Elam

George Eaton X his mark


2 Maij 1707

Georgius fearnall et Richardus Hall

Executorei? Supranoiti? fidem diderunt? De? x?

Coram me Tho:? Wainwright


Memorandum that if mary my now wife shall marry again that then she shall have twenty shilling a year and goo out of this hause as long as she shall live this was written at the time of sealing hereof

Edward Gandy form?



(There is also an Inventory of 22 lines of items, which has not yet been transcribed.)






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MARY FFERNLEY of Antrobus 1676/1680


Mary Fernley, a spinster in Antrobus, was buried at Great Budworth on 14 Sep 1680. George ffearneley of Middlewalk, who left the 1707 Will, was living in Orford in 1680 when his aunt Mary died. Mary left a Will which included “a fame {=farm} to be disposed of”. Mary divided her Antrobus estate between her nephew George ffernley and her niece Alice ffazackerley. Mary noted in her Will in 1676 that her nephew George was the son of Anthony ffernley deceased, which therefore means that Anthony died before 1676. Mary would have been Anthony’s sister. Those who benefited from Mary’s Will were:


·         Thomas Jackson of Over Whitley (received £5)

·         Richard Dutton of Thelwall (received £5)

·         Edward Gandy of Antrobus (20 shillings)

·         Her late brother in law William fazackerley had three sons: William (10s), Thomas (10s) & Nicholas (10s)


The sum bequeathed in the Will was £60-3s-7d.


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KATHERIN FFEARNLEY of Over Whitley 1634


A Katherin Eaton was baptised in Great Budworth on 29 January 1576 (now 1577) and a Peter fearnley married Katharen Eaton on 3 Dec 1608 at Great Budworth. Catherine was mentioned in the 1616 Will of Peter ffearnley as his wife. Katherin gave her goods as follows:


·         George Eaton and children: Thomas, Mary & Elizabeth Eaton: £6 each

·         Cosen Margery Middleton and children: Margery & Elizabeth Middleton.

·         Brother John Eaton & daughter Margery Eaton: £6 each

·         Ales Deaken: 20s

·         Godson George Dair... : 10s

·         William Venables : 10s

·         Peter Eaton (son of Thomas Eaton): 10s

·         Jane Eaton (daughter of Thomas Eaton): 10s

·         Jane Bretton : 6s

·         Humphrey Bretton’s three children: John, Margery & Ales: 6s “apeace”

·         Bett Feaslant 2s & her sister Ann: 1s

·         My kinsman William Eaton of the Pole & his wife: 5s apiece {‘The Pole’ is a fine house in Antrobus}

·         Made {Maud?} Eaton: 5s

·         Thomas ffearnley : 5s

·         Brother John Eaton: my cloake & 10s

·         Elizabeth ffearnley & Bridgett ffearnley: 2s apiece

·         My sister An Monkes: ..... & best pettisole

·         My brother John Eaton’s son John Eaton: my aker {acre} of yeomande for ever.

·         Mary Eaton (daughter of Thomas Eatton): my messuage & dwelling house & all the residue of my goods.


Richard Newall, George Eaton and Thomas ffearnley witnessed the Will. Richard Newall and Peter Barlow were the executors.


Debts of £66 10s were owed to Katherin (out of a total Inventory of £94 10s) from:

·         Cousin George Eaton of Shawbrooke: £30 {N.B. Shawbrooke is in Antrobus}

·         Peter Barlow: £10

·         William Eatton: £3

·         Richard Newall: £4

·         Athur Key: £6

·         Thomas Burrowes: 40s

·         Richard Mason: 40s

·         My brother John Eaton: £22

·         John Dakin: £5

·         Thomas Eatton of Sthilley? Heath: 30s

·         Robert Hatton: 20s


Katherin seems to have favoured her Eaton family who borrowed heavily from her and also inherited the estate. She had a son John Fearnley who had been mentioned in the 1616 Will of her deceased husband Peter, but John is not mentioned by Katherin and therefore was presumably dead before 1634 or had left the area. Also, there were a lot of Fearnley deaths between 1610 and 1620 and there may not have been many Fearnleys in Antrobus in the 1630s? The Warrington website at mentions that there was plague in Warrington in 1613. The 1616 Will of Peter mentions that "...if the said John ffearnley my sonne do not xx into this county of Chester xx..." so it appears that he was expecting him to leave the area. On the other hand, on 10 Mar 1627 (now 1628), a John ffearnley of Stretton was buried in Great Budworth, where Stretton is between Antrobus and Warrington.


Katherin’s Inventory includes spinning wheels totalling 1s 6d. Three kyne (cows) and two calves totalling £10. Also, pottbrass and punbrass, pewter of all sorts, earthen pott, ironware of all sorts, cowperie ware {copper?} , ffyer turf {peat}, coale and wood.


The Inventory was valued by Peter Sankie, William Eaton, Roberte Eaton and Thomas Burns on 3 Nov 1634.


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ROBERT FFEARNLEY of Crowley 1623/1629


Robert was baptised on 6 Aug 1582 at Great Budworth church. He married Ellen Caldwell on 26 May 1608 at St. Oswald’s, Chester by licence, though the marriage is recorded in the Great Budworth parish register with no mention of Chester. Ellen was a widow at the time of her marriage. The Great Budworth parish records show that they lived in Crowley when they baptised a daughter Elizabeth on 1 Jun 1608. Crowley is on the outskirts of Antrobus and also on the edge of the large Arley Hall estate. Their daughter, though, was buried on 22 Jan 1610 (now 1611). Ellen was buried on 21 June 1621 but her name was not recorded except as “uxor Roberti Fearneley de Crowly”, i.e. the wife of Robert. Only Robert’s name was needed on the baptism and burial records of his daughter. Even a father’s name was not deemed relevant until 1582 and we are not given the name of Robert’s own father. There is no record of their having any children in Robert’s Will and no mention of his deceased wife, though her relatives, the Caldwells, appear to have been close to Robert judging by the nature of the goods he bequeathed to them. It is presumed that Ellen’s maiden name is unknown with Caldwell being the name of her previous late husband.

There is a Will of 1623, a codicil of 1623 and a large additional codicil added in 1629. The 1623 section is the easier to read but there is a substantial right hand margin missing. The 1629 section is in very fluent but scrawled writing, written by or on behalf of a barrister, and I have not yet been able to decipher it.


Robert gave his goods as follows:

·         Richard, John & Alice Jackson ( children of William Jackson): £xx

·         xx daughter xx John ffearnley my brother: £20

·         Elizabeth xx of Knutsford widow: £20

·         Margaret Millington xx Millington: £4

·         Elizabeth Clark: 40s

·         John ffearnley my brother: £10

·         William Jackson my brother in law of Norton: £20

·         Xx {=Richard} Hale & Elinor his wife: £20

·         Thomas Caldwell & xx James: £4

·         John Caldwell my xx: xx

·         Briget ffearnley: £4

·         Peeter Richardson xx: £6

·         Mary CCwwinton daughter of John CCwwinton@ £3

·         Xx Leigh sonne of Pliph Leigh: tables 20s

·         Margery Eaton wife of W xx: 20s

·         Peter, Richard Thomas, xx Alice & Ellen Ryland: 1s each

·         And xx their mother: 4s

·         Dorothy Beusley 6 xx: xx

·         George Eaton: 2s

·         Elizabeth ffearnley xx George ffearnley: 6s 8d

·         John Deakin xx: xx

·         Thomas, Robert & Ellen Jackson (children of William Jackson): £8 equally divided

·         Margaret fforest and Elizabeth Leigh my sister in law: 40 xx “devided betwixt them”.

·         Margery & Alice Gleave: 20s

·         Unto the poore of Crowley at every Christmas xx: xx

·         John Caldwell: all things “appertayninge unto husbandrie”

·         Thomas Caldwell: my best featherbed

·         Geffrey Caldwell: the best xx his brother

·         Phillippe: Bed with one bedhillinge one peare hempe sheete with a good bolster

·         Elinor Hale my sister: two fine? Clothes two chasse beds and xx one flaxen sheet and good pillow peare

·         John Childwall: two cowpett xx and boulster and chark pillow boarde

·         Geffrey Caldwall: a white cowle xx

·         Thomas Caldwall: one boulster and pillowe and flaxen sheete

·         xx Caldwall: one flaxen bordcloth and towel

·         Phillipp ffearneley xx: xx

·         John Caldwall: hretesp? Chest

·         Thomas Caldwall: xx in the last {=loft?}

·         Elizabeth Caldwall: that chest with the broken lid xx

·         Elinor Hall: chest

·         John Caldwall: the boards in the xx with all forms sheetes boards with one chayre

·         Thomas Caldwell: xx Caldwall sister of them a chayre


Peter Richardson the younger Phillippe ffearneley xx sonne of William Jackdon of Norton were executors of the Will with William Jackson and xx as overseers.


The Inventory totals £483 19s 4d and was valued by Peter Okell, Raphe Jackson, Thomas Ashton and Thomas Mosse, of which £373 15s 4d was in bills and bonds and other casual debts. A heriot inheritance charge of £3 10 is included. An interesting item was his apparel with swords & daggers (£4). It is not clear, however, from the 1623 Will who was the chief recipient of Robert’s estate.


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BRIDGET FFEARNELEY of Over Whitley, Inventory 1618


According to her Inventory of 1618, Bridget ffearneley died a widow on 27 February 1617 (now 1618). The parish records of Great Budworth do not record her burial. Although there is no Great Budworth parish record of a Fearnley marrying a Bridget, a George ffearneley left a Will in 1613 in which he named his wife as Bridget and his two daughters as Isabell and Ellen. An Isabell was baptised on 22 June 1598 as daughter of Georg ferneley.


The Inventory was executed by: Peter Marburie, Peter Dakine, George Moore and Richard Grommbe(?) and totalled £33 6s 6d. One pounde of woole was reckoned to be worth 18d. One spinning wheel plus one sittinge wheel rated 2s 6d. Some other items were: one mare and one nagge (£5 13s 4d); two kyne (cows) (£11 13s 4d); and, two heffers (£5). A John Jackson was named at the beginning of the Inventory. That concurs with a parish record, which shows that an Isabel ffearneley (possibly Bridget’s daughter) married a John Jackson on 2 May 1616 at Great Budworth church.


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ALICE FFEARNELEY of Antrobus, Inventory 1617


This short Inventory was too difficult to read except in parts. It appears to mention Humphrey Burrows, William Barlow, Peter Barlow (or Barbar?) and William Newall.


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THOMAS FFEARNLEY of Over Whitley, Inventory 1616


The Inventory of my likely 10Gg ancestor was written on 28 October 1616. It states that Thomas died on 13 May 1616 and the Inventory was appraised by Robert ffearnley and Thomas Venables. The Inventory mentions Anton, Lorrenz and Thomas ffearnley. It also mentions John ffearnley “fratri mali” of which the meaning is unclear. Does fratri mali means ‘evil brother’, and, if so, why is it used? Is the badness referring to the manner of his death, perhaps of a pestilence. A John Fearnley of Antrobus was buried in Great Budworth in 1611. Perhaps both John and Thomas died of plague. Certainly there were many deaths about this time among the Fearnleys and a Warrington website at mentions that there were plagues in Warrington in 1613 and 1647. Robert, the Inventory appraiser for Thomas, had a brother John, but that John was still alive at the time of Robert’s 1626/9 Will.


Anton Lorrenz Thomas ffearnley my? de Over Whitley .................. de Budworth magna ....... John ffernley fratri mali ..... 28 Oct 1616


An inventory of all the goods of Thomas ffernley of Over Whitley deceased the 13th daye of Maye 1616, apreased by Robert ffearnley and Thomas Venables




1 cowe & adals?


1 horse


1 swyn


Corne sowen & non sowen


All the land in x & x

6s 8d

The hempe seed & lymen? seed sowen & non sowen


Yron ware


Pewter & brass


2 old plryus? pluws {=ploughs?}


Bedding lynnens & woollens & towe ...


1 peare of sheering sheres {=shears}


Cheeres & stooles & all shistes and bords with and dishe bord


All cowzye ware dishes & kreuchers {=crockery?}


2 cheste

6s 8d

2 cowes which heales & keadz

13s 4d

2 spinning wheels


2 sythes




Chick & 1 little swine


1 old brak & wheel karr...


Firtes & firewood


1 old ladder & axzkell {=axle?}


{the sum total amount is not given}


(The text in blue in the table was corrected from ‘Thomas’ to ‘John’ on 1 August 2008)

Some very interesting information about Thomas and his likely use of sheep is given by Charles Foster:


"It was a common practice in Cheshire and Lancashire to keep a few sheep on each farm. 15 of the 36 inventories for the Whitley Lordship listed sheep, and a small amount of wool or yarn often appears.  This part of North Cheshire is not good sheep country, because the wet and boggy clay land often causes disease in their feet.  The purpose of keeping sheep seems to have been simply to provide wool for use in the household.  The yarn seems to have been woven into woollen or linsey-wolsey (half linen, half wool).  Thomas Fearnley, who died in Whitley in 1616, had a pair of shearman shears as well as two looms."


Extracted from: Capital and Innovation - how Britain became the first industrial nation - a study of the Warrington, Knutsford, Northwich and Frodsham area 1500-1780, by Charles F Foster, Arley Hall Press, 2004.




This is the Thomas suspected of being our 10Gg ancestor. The 10Gg may, though, be a different father of an Anthony perhaps born post 1616 as Anthony had children in 1647-1655 in Grappenhall. But further research on that is needed.


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PETER FFEARNLEY of Over Whitley 1616


A Peter ffearnley was born in 1590 and he may have been the Peter who married Katherin Eaton (baptised 1577) on 3 Dec 1608 at Great Budworth. Peter’s Will was written on 1 May 1616 and he requested that “ bodye to Christian burial to be buried in the churchyard of Great Budworth where my ancestors heretofore have beene buryed”.


There are two versions of the Will. In one Peter leaves:

·         Thomas ffearnley my brother £4 x x... and my best hat

·         George ffearnley my brother 20 shillings my best dublet and breeches x...


In the second version Peter leaves:

·         Thomas my cloak my best jerkine and my best hatt.


The second version may have been a revision after the death of George ffearnley in 1613. But the Will of Peter mentions that his brother George had a daughter Jane whereas George’s Will in 1613 mentions only his daughters Isabell and Ellen. So it appears that Peter’s brother George is not the George who died in 1613. Perhaps Peter’s brother George was instead the George of Antrobus who died in 1615.


Other goods left by Peter are to:

·         my sister Margreat Chadwick: 6s-8d

·         Iain?? Croft? “Some one x said wife? at Arley”: x

·         Jane ffearnley (daughter of my brother George): 20s and the greatest x...

·         x... ffearnley daughter of the said George: 10s

·         Lawrence ffearnley & Margorie ffearnley (children x...) x... ffearnley & Bridgett ffearnley (children of Thomas ffearnley): 10s

·         Thomas Crosby: x...

·         John & William Eaton (sons of Thomas Eaton of Shawbrooke): 6s-8d each

·         Marjorie x’s godson: 20s

·         Thomas ffearnley: 6s-8d

·         “all my feallowes sitting at oh table”

o    John Barlowe: 2s each

o    Robert Drinkwater & Thomas Clare & x...: 12s

o    Thomas Bennett a whipsawe, a square and a chipping axe.

·         wife Catherine ffearnley: house, lands, comon? & hurburie

·         son John ffearnley: 20s

·         John ffearnley (nephew son of Thomas ffearnley): “shapplenns”?

·         John Deykne {=Deakin?} & Humfrey Bretton: £30-2s-6d

{NB Humfraye Bretton married Jane ffernley on 8 May 1613 at Great Budworth}

·         Elizabeth ffearnley daughter of the said George... x of Thomas ffearnley x of them 6s-8d.

·         George, John, & Wiliam Eaton x Eaton suns of x Eaton daughter of x sonne Thomas 10 shillings

·         Godson Peter Eaton: 20s

·         Hannest? Warburton x Berrie:2s each

·         John Savage: 12s

·         {There is a complicated section concerning land, meadows and a xspitt which is not detailed here}



An interesting section of the Will states that if John ffearnley (son) “ do not x into this county of Chester x”... I do give and bequeath the said two meadowes together with all the xpitts that shall received for the same for x... the said Thomas & Robert to my said sonne John to the said John ffearnley my nephew his executors & assigned x... Chendork? to each of them 6s-8d :


Peter’s wife Catherine ffearnley received all the rest of the goods.


Peter’s wife Catherine was the executor and the witnesses were John Manck(?), Thomas Newall, Jane ffearnley, and Richard Lownes and x others. There seems to be an earlier version of the Will in which x and Robert fearnley were overseers of the Will.



The following were noted to have owed money to Peter:

·         William Kerkuran: 42s

·         Brother in law John Eaton: £5-12-0

·         Geffrey Caldwall: 10s

·         George ffearneley, carpenter: 5s

·         Thomas Eaton: £11-12-0

·         William Choaoe? for a x of bacon: 8s 8d

·         The same Wiliam for y....?: 10s

·         Hughe Keye: 36s 8d

·         Anne ffearneley: 22s

·         John Deckin & Humfrey Bretton : 37s


The Inventory totalled £69 13s 8d and was appraised by Thomas ......{line missing}.... Robert ffearnley.


An interesting line in Peter’s Will states:


Text Box: “ ... to almighty god ordeyne and make this my last will and testament in x the same? Following Christ x god trusting meritt and x of x Christ to be one of the elect of god”.





There is a similar line in the Will of his widow Katherin in 1634. “Unconditional election” is one of the Five Points of Calvinism doctrine. The biography of John Donne, 1571-1631 (Donne, The Reformed Soul by John Stubbs, 2006) notes that a pre-destined "elect" was a belief common to all shades of puritans. I am unsure, however, if the use of the word "elect" on its own in this Will uniquely implies that Peter and Katherin were puritans or whether the term "elect " was used by other faiths too, without it meaning a pre-destined Puritan elect.


The following extract, however, seems to imply that in the early church, converts to Protestantism were necessarily also converts to the Puritan elect:

Text Box: “The tension begins with the theory holding that once converted to the Protestant cause, one acquires virtues that are bestowed by God, making the individual one of the “Puritan elect” and closer to redemptive status than non-converts.”






(Paul Cefalu, see


The book: A History of Cheshire by Alan Crosby has a reference to Puritanism in Cheshire.


Text Box: "In the 1590s the Puritan movement in the diocese began to gather force and, according to the government and archbishops, was not met with sufficient counter-activity by the bishops of Chester, who were usually regarded as over-lenient towards dissenters of all colours. In the late 1630s archbishops Neile of York and Laud of Canterbury began to enforce stricter controls on Puritans in the diocese, but the collapse of church government in 1640 put an end to this. Puritan elements were in the ascendancy from the end of the 1630s." 

A History of Cheshire by Alan Crosby, Phillimore & Co. Ltd.,1996 (The Darwen County History series).












It is possible that the term “elect” is a clue that Peter and Katherin were Puritans although it is probably no more than a speculation at present.

There were Quakers in the Antrobus area much later in the century, and a Fearnley tenement was owned by a Quaker.



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GEORGE FFEARNLEY of Over Whitley 1613


George, a husbandman, left goods, in a long and wordy Will not shown here in detail, to:


wife Brigett: the house (providing that she maintained her mother and two daughters) and various goods with many contingency clauses

Brigett’s mother:

Daughter Isobell: amongst other things, all the husbandry ware.

Daughter Ellen: various goods and a share of the residue


Brigett was the executor with Thomas Whitley, John Peacock and Richard Woodnett as the overseers. The Will was sealed on 11 may 1613 with witnesses: Richard Eaton, Thomas Whitley, Peter Marbury, William Underwood and John Peacock.


The Inventory totalled £93-18-10, including debts owed to George ffearnley by:

George Pickson: 19s

John Parre: 12s

William Newall: 6s

Th: Andos? of Crorenist?: £3-6-8

John Starkey: 7s

Mr Clark, landlord: 12s

Mris Clark, landlady: 10s

Richard Wey: 4s 4d

Thomas Whithz: 6s

John Anjou: 2s 2d

George Joneson: 20d


George owed a debt of 20s to Prudence Bleus?


The Inventory was appraised by John Peacock, Thomas Whitley, Peter Dakin and Richard Woodnett on 4 June 1613.

Strie fine? £15

Fower homifer? bullocks £11

Ffive heffers £6-13-4

Two calves 20s

One nagge with coats his horuoke? £3-5s

Three old mares £3-10s

Seabenwene? Onle sheepe 56s 8d

Ten lambes 26s 8d

Two swine 13s 4d

Goose 6s

Cocks, hens and chickens 3s

Featherbeds bolsters & pillows £3-13-4

Two other beds 10s

Five gowlits? 23s

Three blankets 16s

X & parke 10s

Panne brasse 40s

Potte brasse 30s

Pewter 13s 4d

Barlie and beans £3-6-8

Malte and oate 13s 4d

Corne sowen £11-13-4

Hempe & flaxe, broon? 11s 8d

Wolle 15s

Flaxen sheets & napie ware of flaxe 20s

Then powder linens & sheete 20s

Fortie shippings of saleparsne? 20s

Twentie shippings of other parsne 10s

Reste hemps 17s

Three pownds of raw flaxe 4s

Treeme ware 16s

Mugges & earthen potts 2s

One chest and three wheels 6s

Beef bacon butter and cheese 13s 4d

Hey trassle? Payd for 22s

Money in his purse £3-6s

Hurbes and other fewell 10s

Wheat strawe 12s

One racker three pives & two wiskers 2s

One lawfull a paymt of oards 12s

Shoines? Lrast & tallow 12d

His apparell 40s

“These goods that follow here and the gifte given by the sayd George ffearneley to his older daughter as her childe part”

One farme carte bord wheels and axeltz 45s

One wwueke carte one payre of wheels one cole carte chest & two payre of draughts 20s

Two plowes 2s

Two harrows 10s

Seven payre of breasts & five collers 8s

Two carte sheres & thilhandles two payre 2s

Fower ladders three brakes & athreshell? 11s

Three shomebrowes? 12d

Crach? And maryer? 12d

One sowen of ?k 5s

One wheelbarrow 12d

Three sowes a whipsaw foringe saw, & handsaw 5s

One chipping axe, one la hinge axe & a squaw? 3s

One cuttinge axe a hub-hettc and finot? 3s

Two chiselles one file three nayers & apve pyloles? 3s

One spotstave? Two hames two flaxxmye knives? 12d

Two spades matlok and a harell? 4s

One fryinge oanne crotteth yard??ron clortes two ?amdretyes pothooks two spits & lmys? 11s

Two payre of plowe Irons one Ihayne krewith and foriche bolte and Ibetise & onle Iromf? 6s 8d

Frets of Iron and other ould iron 2s

Two sythes and two hevlves? 2c6d

One cartrope two woutyes three ladders three halters a packet and an oreley 6s

One great chest and three bedsteeds 16s

One table moulding board one dishboard & fall board 6s

Sixteen shelves frmes & other boards 8s

Cheares and stoles 12d

One hwinter hefer 30s

Debts owing to the deceased the xtrilans? Whereof appeare by the will at the are there seethe down use xxxx £7-6-10

Summa totalis £93-18-10



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JOHN FFEARNLEY of Shawbrooke, Great Budworth 1611.


John ffearnley, husbandman, of Shawbrooke in Antrobus in the parish of Great Budworth made a Will on 3 May 1606 requesting to be buried in the parish churchyard of Great Budworth. A John ffearnley was baptised in Great Budworth on 8 Sep 1562 who might have been the same man. The Inventory for John made after his death was signed in April 1611.  An Anne ffearnley, possibly his widow, was buried at Great Budworth on 29 Jan 1621 (now 1622). Anne’s stepfather was Richard Jackson. Also John ffearnley’s brother in law was Richard Jackson (presumably son of Richard Jackson senior). Anne was likely to have been Anne Jackson prior to marriage to John assuming that she had adopted the name of her stepfather.


John left the following goods:

·         to be divided equally between his wife Anne & son Thomas:

o    all the buildings and all the lands, meadows, pastures and common of pasture of the Enrbury?

o    all the grounds lying in Ashwood

o    the residue

·         Thomas Gibson: xx

·         Son Thomas: forty for his xx xx and xx at the xx of

·         John Newall & Thomas Eaton xx


John’s brother in law John Newall and xx Thomas Eaton were overseers of the Will. The witnesses were: Thomas Monteforde, John Newall, Thomas Eaton, George ffernley and Thomas ffernley

The Inventory was appraised in April 1611 by his son, Thomas ffearnley, Thomas Eaton and Thomas Marsh? An interesting item is that a pig seems cheap at 2d compared to a sheep at 28d. But perhaps that is because the sheep provided wool annually for cloth making? The price per horse was £1-11s-1d.


Debts owed to John ffearnley:

..............................? 8s

Richard Jackson, John’s brother in law for marriage goods £3

Richard Jackson for money lent 13s

Richard Jackson, John’s wife’s stepfather for money lent 20s


Debts owed by John:

William Gandy the younger £3-3s-4d

Godfray Jhackson 40s

Thomas Eaton of the Shawbrooke 20s

xx xx 13s

Robert? Eyre 20p

Wilfrid? Eatom 12d

Elizabeth Eatom 12d

George Eaton son to Thomas Eaton xx xx 12d

Margreat Warburton 12d


Thomas Eaton, who was mentioned above could be the husband of Elizabeth Fearnley (married on 24 Jan 1585 at GB). Very interestingly, another Eaton/Fearnley wedding took place on the same day: William Eaton & Margery fernely. This may possibly make John a close relative of Elizabeth and Margery.


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Wills of in-laws.


A dozen Wills of possible in-laws or acquaintances were examined for information on Fearnleys but they provided very little information.


John Hall, of Crowley, died 1602

John Hall, 1602

Thomas Venables, 1618

William Jackson, of Norton, 1633

Richard Deakin, 1633

Peter Forest, 1634

Thomas Eaton, 1637

Richard Newall, 1638

Richard Hale, of Crowley, 1640

William Eaton, 1640

Thomas Jackson, 1685

Richard Dutton, 1699


An internet site ( shows details of a Will left by William Gandy, of Sevenoake, Antrobus, who died in 1616. William’s Will leaves: his “Best coat, doublet and best pair of Breeches to George Fernely” and “Twenty shillings to William Fernely his kinsman.” John Fearnley’s Will of 1611 notes that he owed William Gandy £3, but the marriage of a Fearnley to a Gandy is not mentioned.


Also, the same website details a later William Gandy, who died on 14 Dec 1683, who was a Quaker farmer at Frandley, near Antrobus, and who owned various local properties including a “Fearnley’s tenement”. William Gandy was a strong supporter and host for the famous traveling preacher George Fox, from 1657 onwards, and at one time this William and 88 supporters were imprisoned at Chester for refusing to take the oath of allegiance.


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George Fearnley, Over Whitley, 1609 and 1615


George Fernley, Thomas Norcot and Hugh Crosbie had some involvement in a deed of conveyance for property in Knutsford on 13 Sep 1609.

(Ref. Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service. Shakerley family of Hulme and Somerford, records. Title Deeds. Central Cheshire Estates. Knutsford: Title Deeds. FindingNo DSS 3991/191/65.)



George Fearnley, Raphe Mather, William Eaton de Powell, Thomas Eaton de Shawbrooke, Peter Dawkyn, and Richard Lowndes were witnesses to a feoffment (similar to a deed recording the sale of property (land or buildings)) on 8 May 1615, in Over Whitley.

(Ref. Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service. Over Whitley, 1615.

Catalogue Ref. DDX463. FILE - Feoffment - ref.  DDX463)



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Thomas Fernely, Winnington, 1558

There was an agreement on 10 Feb 1558 between Robert Wynington and Richard Birkenhed and Thomas Fernely not to lease or sell without licence a property.


(Ref. Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service: Catalogue Ref. DDX463.

Shakerley family of Hulme and Somerford, records. Title Deeds. Central Cheshire Estates.

Winnington and Birches: Title Deeds. FindingNo DSS 3991/184/42)


Winnington of Birches is a family name and it is not known where the property in the deed is located. The property in question could be somewhere on the family estate of The Birches which contained (in 1840 at any rate) nearly 360 acres of land three miles south-east of Northwich. 360 acres is roughly equivalent to a rectangular plot of land with sides of length one mile and width 1/2 mile. On a modern map, The Birches appears to be centred about a mile to the north of Sandiway golf course. This manor passed with the daughter and heiress of Nicholas de Birches, in the reign of Edward II, to Nicholas de Winnington, in whose family it continued for several generations; in the reign of Charles I a co-heiress of the Winningtons brought it to Ralph Starkey, who continued in possession in 1662.  This manor in 1695 was the property of Mrs. Eliz. Dobson, who conveyed it to Thomas Cholmondeley In 1840 its tithes were paid to the vicar of Budworth.



The family also owned property elsewhere. On the same day, 10 Feb 1558, the same three men also took out a lease agreement. Also, on the same day, there was a Charter between Robert Winington to Richard Burkenhead of a property at “Plumley, Lostock etc.” Also, on the same day, there was a Bond from Robert Winnington to Richard Birkhened. On 21 November the previous year, there was a Quit Claim between Robert Winnington to Robert Winnington, his father, re the family property at The Birches. So the site of the leased property in question is not known.


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Rents of Fernleys in 1500s in Whitley Lordship

The book: Capital and Innovation - how Britain became the first industrial nation - a study of the Warrington, Knutsford, Northwich and Frodsham area 1500-1780, by Charles F Foster, Arley Hall Press, 2004, contains details of some rents paid by Fernleys in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries near Great Budworth.


The Whitley Lordship tenants, taxpayers and owners, 1526/7-1662:



Tenant & annual rent


   John 19s 4d

   John   4s 8d

   Thomas £1 2s 7d



Taxpayer & value of land & goods in £ p.a.


   George £4

   Richard   £4

   Roger      £1

   Thomas   £1



Tenant & annual rent


   George £1 1s 2d

   Sibil   4s 0d 

   William, Jnr. 4s 7d



Tenant & annual rent

Fernley, Margaret and her son

   George 1 farmhouse, 8 statute acres    4s 7d



Thomas Fernley ... paid 1s  1.5d rent for one of the ... 9 cottages on the Common with gardens or hempyard.  All nine were encroachments.


1662, Fee-farmers* in Whitley Lordship listed by Sir Peter Leicester:


Fernley, William, (farm) now in possession of widow Eaton of the Pole  £2 13s 4d.




*After the tenants bought their lands in 1612, they continued to pay their ancient rents which were called Fee-farm rents.



It is not clear if Thomas Fernley above, who was paying rent in 1612, is my 10Gg ancestor as there was more than one Thomas in the area at this time. A “Mr” Thomas ffearnley of Antrobus was buried on 6 May 1616. Also, a Thomas ffearnley of Antrobus was buried eight days later. An Inventory was made of the latter Thomas’s assets.


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Fearnleys in Great Budworth parish, Cheshire 1560 to 1729

(Click here for notes on the investigation of the parish records.)


These earliest parish records have the bare minimum of information with no details of parents’ names. This makes it impossible to use them to establish family relationships:

baptism Sibell 1560 6 Jan 1559  (now 1560) Sibell Fearnesle  baptism 

(Sibell is the fourth entry in the first Great Budworth register.)


baptism Thomas 1560 9 Mar 1559 (now 1560) Thomas fernesley

burial Roger 1560 5 Sep 1560 Roger fernely

(This burial of a Roger may make him one of the oldest Fearnleys in the registers.)


baptism John 1562 8 Sep 1562    John Ferneley baptism

baptism Margaret 1563 9 Aug  1563   Margaret Fearneley baptism

baptism Peter 1563 9 Dec 1563 Peter fernesle

baptism Margery 1565 18 Feb 1564 (now 1655) Margery fernelse

burial Thomas 1569 9 Dec 1569 Thomas fernely

baptism Ellin 1570 4 July 1570  Ellin fernely

baptism Richard 1571 30 Mar 1571 Richard fernely

burial Margery 1573 17 Dec 1573 Margery fernely

burial Rodger 1577 30 April 1577 Rodger ferneley

baptism Sibell 1579 4 June 1579 Sibell fearnely

burial William 1579 25 Jul 1579 William fearnely

marriage William 1580 3 Sep 1580 William fernely = Margaret Skelle

baptism Sibell 1581 23 April 1581? Sibell fearnely

burial William 1581 14 Sep 1581 William fernely

burial Margret 1581 14 Sep 1581 Margret fearnely {Same day}

baptism Robert 1582 6 Aug 1582 Robert ferneley

baptism Anne 1582 20 October 1582 Anne fernesle


From here on the father’s name was given for baptisms, though not always:

burial MissWilliam 1583 5 Sep 1583 a daughter of William fernely

marriage Isabell 1586 23 Jan 1585 John Hall = Isabell ferneley

marriage Margery 1586 24 Jan 1585 William Eaton = Margery fernely

marriage Elizabeth 1586 24 Jan 1586 {Same day} Thomas Eaton = Elizabeth ferneley

Note the double wedding of Eatons to Fearnleys

marriage Thomas 1586 7 Sep 1586 Thomas fernely = Ellin widdows

burial George 1587 13 Oct 1587 Mr(?) George fernely

(I have transcribed all surnames to this date, but they are not shown here. There are many of Eaton (the most frequent name), Chadwick, Caldwall, Gandy/Gandie, Jackson/Jacson, etc.)


From here on, to the end of the seventeenth century, the names and dates are frequently written in Latin:

baptism John 1587 21 Dec 1587 John filius George ferneley ba

burial Margaret 1587 25 Dec 1587 Margaret fernely infa {infant?}

burial Margret 1588 31 Jan 1587 (now 1588) Margret fernely widz {= widow?}

burial Isabell 1588 3 Feb 1587 (now 1588) Isabell fernely

baptism Thomas 1588 Mar 1588 Thomas filius William ferneley

baptism Thomas 1589 7 July 1589 Thomas filius Thomas ferneley

burial Thomas 1589 24 Sep 1589 Thomas fernely inf

burial George 1590 30 Jan 1589 (now 1590) George fernely

burial John 1590? 3 Oct 1590(?) John fernely inf

baptism Peter 1589 20 Dec 1589 Peter filius Thomas ferneley

burial George 1592 11 Jan 1591 (now 1592) George fernely

baptism George 1593 26 Jan 1592 George filius Thomas fernely

burial William 1595 11 Jan 1594 (now 1595) William fernely agr (?) {=aged, or an old man}

marriage Margaret 1595 4 Mar 1594 (now 1595) Peter Forrest = Margaret fernely

baptism Thomas 1595 3 Apr 1595 Thomas filius George ferneley ba:

burial William 1595 22 Apr 1595 William fernely agr {=aged, or an old man}

baptism Margery 1595 3 Aug 1595 Margery filia Thomas ferneley

marriage William 1597 12 Nov 1597 William fernely = Ales Pickering

baptism Isabell 1598 22 June 1598 Isabell filia Georg ferneley

baptism Thomas 1599 13 Jan 1598 (now 1599) Thomas filius John fernely

burial Peter 1600 19 Jan 1599 (now 1600) Peter fernely infa

burial Jane 1600 19 Feb 1599 (now 1600) Jane fernely inf

baptism Lawrence 1600 2 Mar 1599 (now 1600) Lawrence filius Thomas ferneley

burial Peter 1600 9 May 1600 Mr(?) Peter fernesle de Aston

baptism Bridget 1602 25 Dec 1602 Bridget fferneley filia Thome fferneley de Overwhitley

baptism Phillip 1604 25 June 1604 Phillipus ffernley filius George fferneley de o/xx

burial Jane 1604 23 Oct 1604 Jana fferneley de Over Witley?

burial William? 1604 24 Dec 1604 ???helius ffernley de Over Whitley {-ius = a male}

marriage Elizabeth 1605 25 May 1605 William(?) Jacson = Elizabeth fernley

marriage Elizabeth c1605 c1605 Robert Jackson = Elizabeth Fernley?

baptism? Peter 1606 23 Oct 1606 Peter the son of Thomas Fernley of Antrobuse [Bishops’ transcripts]

marriage Robert 1608 26 May 1608 Robert fearnley = Ellen Caldwell {the marriage licence noted Ellen to have been a widow. They married at St. Oswald’s, Chester}

baptism Elizabeth 1608 1 Jun 1608 Elizabeth filia Robt ffearnley de Crowley baptism xxxx

marriage George 1608 24 June 1608 Georgius ffernley = Elinora Davies? {The marriage licence names William Gandy as the bondsman}

marriage Emma 1608 24 Sep 1608 William Newall = Emma (or Eme ?) ffearnley {or Gwendillian (IGI)?} {The marriage licence names Gwenllian Fernley, with bondsman Ralph Massey of Antrobus, on 21 September}

marriage Peter 1608 3 Dec 1608 Peter fearnley = Katharen Eaton

burial master John 1609 30 Nov 1609 A child of John fearnley of Hulton bastard

burial Elizabeth 1611 22 Jan 1610 (now 1611) Eliz: ffearnley daughter of Robert ffearneley of Crowley

burial John 1611 6 Apr 1611 John ffearnley of Antrobus {an Inventory of brother Thomas 1616 contains a hint that John may have died of the plague}

burial Margarett 1612 17 Aug 1612 Margarett ffernley of Anterbuse wydow {a widow in Antrobus}


The Warrington website at mentions that there was a plague in Warrington in 1613. Certainly there were many Fearnley deaths from 1609 to 1622.


marriage Jane 1613 8 May 1613 Humfraye Bretton = Jane ffernley

burial George 1613 27 May 1613 George Fernley of Over Whitley [Bishops’ Transcripts]

baptism Elizabeth 1613 8 Aug 1613 Elizabeth the daughter of Thomas ffernesly? {Probably}

marriage Elinor 1614 25 Jul 1614 Richard Hale = Elinor ffernley

burial George 1615 2 Apr 1615 Mr George ffernley of Anterbuse {= Antrobus}

burial Thomas 1616 6 May 1616 Mr Thomas ffernley of Anterbuse

burial Thomas 1616 13 May 1616 Thomas ffernley of Anterbuse

burial Peter 1616 19 May 1616 Peter ffearnley of Anterbuse

marriage Isabel 1616 Isabel F Great Budworth Cheshire, married John Jackson on 2 May 1616. {The marriage licence notes the bondsman to be John Malbone of Halton. They married at Daresbury.}

burial Ales 1617 27 Oct 1617 Ales ffernley of antrobuse widow

burial wydow 1618 8 Feb 1617 (now 1618) wydow ffernley of Over Whitley

burial Margrett 1618 16 Apr 1618 Margrett ffernelye of Over Whitley

burial MrsRobert 1621 21 June 1621 uxor Roberti Fearneley de Crowly

(We know that she was Ellen Caldwell before being Ellen Fearnley, but her maiden name is unknown. Caldwell was probably the name of her previous husband.)


marriage John 1621 10 Dec 1621 John ferneley = Mode (?) Hollinfield (?) {Mode=Maud?}

burial Anne 1622 29 Jan? [or Feb?] 1621 (now 1622) Anne Fearneley de Anterbus vid {vid=widow}

baptism Ellenor 1622 1 Sep 1622 Ellenor fil: johannis fearnely de xxxxxxx (or Ellen, in IGI)?


The Warrington website at mentions that there was famine in northwest England in 1623 to 1624.


burial John 1625 3 Apr 1625 Johannes fil Georgii Fearnley

Baptism William 1625 9 Oct 1625 Gulielmus fil: Johannis Fearnely de Anterbus bapt {=William son of John}

burial John 1628 10 Mar 1627 Johannes ffearnley de Stretton

marriage Brigetta 1629 17 or 27 Jan 1628 (now 1629) Ricardus Leach = Brigetta ffearnley

burial William 1629 19 May 1629 Wiliam fil Emma ffearnly de Over Whitley

baptism inf 1629 xx Aug 1629 could be a fearnley baptism but the record is very indistinct

burial Ellenor (wife) 1631 29 June 1631 Ellenor ux George ffearnley de Antrobus

burial Thomas 1634 22 May 1634 Thomas fil Thomas ffearnley de Middlewalk

baptism Miss Ferniley 1639 10 Mar 1638 (now 1639) xxxxxles filia Thomas Ferniley de Midlewalk


The Warrington website at mentions that there was a plague in Warrington in 1647.


Burials of plague? 1646/7 “Barnton peste moriebuntor” {a Great Budworth parish record note of deaths in Barnton, of some epidemic or pestilence?}


The Civil war in the 1640s may also have disturbed the parish record keeping. The records are neither well preserved nor easy to read in the mid 1600s.


burial Ellen 1675 15 Dec 1675 Ellena Fernley de Antrobus

baptism Maria 1678 17 Nov 1678 Maria fil Radulphi ffinley {not a Fearnley?}

burial Mary 1680 14 Sep 1680 Maria Fearnley de Whitley Lordship

baptism Mary 1683 4 Feb 1682 (now 1683) Maria filia Georgii Fernly de Antrobus

baptism George 1685 23 May 1685 George son of George ffearnley de Middlewalk

burial Ellen 1685 15 Dec 1685 Ellena Fernley de Antrobus

baptism William 1692 12? July 1692 William fil William ffearneley de Appleton

baptism Thomas 1696 29 Dec 1696 Thomas fil Elizabeth fferneney de Sands in Staffordshire by Thomas Hollins de Sands in those countie bastard

baptism Thomas 1702 26 Oct 1702 Thomas son of George Fernley (Aston)

marriage Elizabeth 1703 4 April 1703 xxekrxm = Elizabeth fernley? Of Newton in ye parish of Dagenham

burial George 1707 12 Jan 1706 (now 1707) George ffearnley of Antobus

baptism Thomas 1707 9 Nov 1707 Thomas son of Jno: ffernley (Appleton)

marriage Elizabeth 1709 9 April 1709 John Tinkley? = Elizabeth ffinley of Middlewalk (not a Fearnley?)

burial John 1709 1 May 1709 Jno ffearnley of Sutton in Runcorn parish

baptism Margaret 1716 5 July 1716 Margaret daughter of John Fearnly

baptism Alice 1716 31 Jul 1716 Alice daughter of William Fearnly (Stockton Heath)

marriage Elizabeth 1722 15 April 1722 Richard Weamwright = Elizabeth ffenley both of Plumley

burial William 1728 24 March 1727 (now 1728) Wiliam Fernelxx of Aston

burial Mary 1728 23 Aug 1728 Mary Fernley of Whitley Lordship

burial? George 1729 31 xxx 1729 George ffearnley of Nathan? Birch? xxx




Family groups

To group all of these Fearnley records reliably into families seems impossible. The Wills show many children who are not mentioned in the Great Budworth (GB) parish records. So where are they recorded? Are they recorded in nearby parishes (e.g. Grappenhall, Daresbury, Lower Peover, Lymm and Warburton)? I have briefly scanned all of these and cannot find another large site of Fearnleys such as is found in Great Budworth. Or are they not recorded at all? Was religious faith an issue preventing registration? Or was church registration just not very important to some of them. Nevertheless, a very patchy attempt at family groupings for some ancestors is made below based on combining the data from the Wills and the parish records. Below is a sketch map of the modern Antrobus area.









(Generations 1 to 4.)

1 John (husbandman, buried 6 Apr 1611, of Shawbrooke in Antrobus, at GB parish, possibly of plague [see Inventory of Thomas, 1616]) (possibly bapt. 8 Sep 1562?)

+ Anne Jackson, his wife, who was buried at Great Budworth on 29 Jan 1621 (now 1622).

2 Thomas (bapt. 13 Jan 1598 (now 1599) at GB)

1 Thomas (buried 13 May 1616, possibly of the plague also)

2 Mary (buried as a spinster in 1680 Antrobus, GB)

2 Lawrence (bap.2 Mar 1599 (now 1600), GB)

2 Marjorie (bap. 3 Aug 1595, GB) (mentioned as sister of Lawrence in Peter’s Will of 1616)

2 Bridgett (bap. 25 Dec 1602) (possibly mentioned as sister of Lawrence in Peter’s Will of 1616))

(One sister of Mary, possibly Marjorie or Bridgett, married a William ffazackerley and had four children. One of these children was Alice who inherited half of Mary’s estate.)

2 Thomas (bap. 7 Jul 1589)

2 Anthony (born before 1616 [Inventory of Thomas, 1616]: died before 1676 [Will of sister Mary, died 1680])

3 George (baptised 29 Sep 1647, of Latchford, at St Wilfred’s, Grappenhall and buried on 12 Jan 1706, of Middlewalk, Antrobus, at Great Budworth parish)

+ Mary Tompson married George on 2 Apr 1676 Warrington (IGI)

4 Margret (9 Feb 1677 Warrington (IGI) – presumably died young)

4 George (16 Feb 1679 Warrington (IGI) – presumably died young)

4 John, son of George ffearnlay of Orford was baptised at St Elphins Warrington on 8 Aug 1680. John is noted as the eldest son in the 1707 Will.

4 Margret (c1684? - ?) mentioned in the Will of 1707

4 Georg (sic) (23 May 1685 Great Budworth - ?) son of George de Middlewalk

4 Anthony (c1687? - ?) mentioned in the Will of 1707

4 Sarah (c1689? - ?) mentioned in the Will of 1707

4 William (c1691? - ?) mentioned in the Will of 1707

3 John (baptised 17 Mar 1650 of Latchford, at St. Wilfred’s, Grappenhall) (he is assumed to be the John who married Anne Whittle in 1675 in Winwick)

3 Ellen (baptised 3 Oct 1652, Grappenhall) (possibly married Richard Hall of Croft?)

3 Jane (baptised 5 Jan 1655, Grappenhall) (possibly married Richard Hall of Croft?)

1 Eme? {or Gwenllian ffearnley?} John possibly had a sister with an unrecorded marriage to a John Newall. At any rate, John had a brother-in-law named John Newall. Alternatively, John Newall might be the brother of William Newall who married Eme ffearnley {or Gwenllian ffearnley} on 24 Sep 1608. John could alternatively have had a brother with an unrecorded marriage to a Newall daughter.



Another strand of the Fearnley family is outlined in the Will of Peter in 1616.


1 Peter Fearnley (left a Will, 1 may 1616)

+ married Katherine Eaton, 3 Dec 1608, GB

2 John

1 Margaret Fearnley (Peter’s sister)

+ married Mr Chadwick

2 They had four Chadwick children

1 Thomas (Peter’s brother)

2 John Fearnley (noted as such in Peter’s Will)

1 George (Peter’s brother) (died before May 1616)

2 Jane (noted as such in Peter’s Will)

2 Elizabeth (noted as such in Peter’s Will)


And another strand of the family is given in Robert’s Will and Codicil of 1623, although another Codicil of 1629 is not yet transcribed.


1 Robert ffearnley (bap. 6 Aug 1582? And left a Will in 1623/1629)

+ married a widow, Ellen Caldwell on 26 May 1608, at Chester. Ellen was buried on 21 Jun 1621, GB

2 Elizabeth (bap. 1 Jun 1608, GB and was buried on 22 Jan 1610 (now 1611) at GB)

1 John (Robert’s brother)

1 George, deceased before 1623 (Robert’s brother)

1 Elizabeth (Robert’s sister)

+ married William Jackson of Norton on 25 May 1605, GB.

1 Elinor (Robert’s sister)

+ married Richard Hale on 25 Jul 1614, GB

Elizabeth Leigh (was Robert’s sister in law)


It is not easy to inter-relate these three strands of the Fearnleys with any confidence or to connect them with other Fearnleys in the early Great budworth parish registers.


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Fearnleys in Yorkshire in the thirteenth century: Weston Hall records

(Click here for notes on the investigation of the Weston Hall records.)

This section gives names of the earliest Fearnleys in Farnley in Yorkshire. This period is out of reach of church parish records of baptisms, marriages and burials, which is from 1540s onwards, but is within reach of Middle Ages records. The sources of records used here are all Internet sources from A2A. The Farnlays recorded here may or may not be direct ancestors of mine. One can only have reasonable confidence by tracing back in time the fathers of successive males in one’s direct line, and for me that has stopped with, possibly, Thomas who died in 1616, in Great Budworth, Cheshire. Work is needed though to try to make connections between Great Budworth Fearnleys and earlier Fearnleys in the adjoining parishes of Plumley (fourteenth century) and Rostherne (thirteenth century). It seems impossible ever to be able to prove such far-reaching links to thirteenth century Fearnleys by finding written records, but it is interesting nevertheless to find information about potential ancestors.

The earliest Farnlay that I have found reliable written reference to in property deeds, from the Weston Hall manorial records on the A2A website, is Thomas de Farnlay who witnessed a deed in 1238 handing over a share in the village of Farnlay (see sketch map below).

Demise by William son of Robert de Povel to Richard de Monte of a moiety of the vill of Farnlay.

Witnesses: Lord Henry decanus, Adam, chaplain, Nicholas Ward, William Vavasore, Hugh de la Lay, Pauline de Neuhale, Adam of the same place, Robert de Tunbl, German Mausel, Thomas de Farnlay and others.


[Reference: Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service, Staffordshire Record Office: Smith Hill Child Family of North Staffordshire. Catalogue Ref. D1229/1/7/43 – date: 1238. Creator(s): Child family, baronets, of Stallington Hall] []




(The shaded area indicates the modern boundaries of Otley. Otley would have been smaller in the thirteenth century, not extending so close to Weston or Farnley.)

Lord Henry is the Dean and Adam the Chaplain, but it is not clear to which particular religious establishment they are associated. Farnley is about two miles from Otley in Yorkshire. The recorded history of Otley dates from 1222, only 16 years earlier, when King Henry III granted it a Royal Charter.

The next record is a deed just a couple of years later (around 1240) in the Weston Hall manorial records held at Leeds, Yorkshire, witnessed by very likely the same Thomas de Farnley. The deed granted a “lease for life” in and around Weston.


Witnesses: Malger Vavasor, Patrick de Westwic, Germain Mansel, Ellis the clerk, Hugh de Dent, Gillinto of the same, Alan de Munketon, William ad Portam, Thomas de Farnlay.


[West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds: Weston Hall Records. Catalogue Ref. WYL639. Creator(s): Dawson family of Weston Hall, near Otley, West Riding of Yorkshire. FILE - Lease for life - ref. WYL639/2 - date: n.d (c.1240)]






The spelling of the names of probably the same witnesses is different in 1238 and 1240. William Vavasore is replaced by a Malger Vavasor; and German Mausel becomes Germain Mansel. The latter could be an example of haphazard spelling and/or illegibility of writing but Germain appears to be the same witness as ‘German’. Thomas de Farnlay retains the same spelling in both deeds. Askwith and Weston are about three miles west of Farnley. Galphay and Azerley are about 15 miles to the north-west, near Ripon.

The A2A web site notes that the Weston Hall source documents “relate chiefly to the Yorkshire estates of the Vavasours of Weston from whom they have descended to the present owner. The property was built-up by Sir Brian de Lisle (latinized as de Insula), who died in 1234, and by his nephew Sir Robert de Stopham (died before 1275). The Stophams seem to have originated in Sussex and Dorset and the Yorkshire branch to have been established by the Lisle inheritance.”

A third deed, of c1270, is related to the earlier deed of c1240 and relinquishes the assets.

Quitclaim indented - ref. WYL639/8 - date: n.d. (c.1270)

Witnesses: Robert Malherb de Timbol, William de Farnlay, Roger clerk of Weston, Ivo son of William de Weston, Adam son of Robert de Haskwyt and Scales, Richard del Bec, Roger de Lelay, Ivo son of Gregory.




In 1270, some thirty years on, William de Farnlay has superceded Thomas, his father or uncle perhaps, in the role as a witness to deeds. Ivo son of William de Weston is possibly the son of William Vavasore. Presumably Haskwyt is what is now named ‘Askwith’. Scales is just over a mile away from Askwith. Roger de Lelay is possibly a younger relative of the 1238 witness Hugh de la Lay.

What is a “Quitclaim indented”? Eric Foster, of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Medieval Section, in January 2004 wrote some helpful explanations of medieval legal terminology.

“Medieval deeds were not usually signed, but were authenticated by sealing and by quoting the names of witnesses. But deeds - and also seals - were sometimes forged and so indentures came into use as a protection against fraud. For a deed involving two parties, a pair of indentures was made thus: two copies of the deed were written on the same sheet of parchment and separated by an indented i.e. toothed, cut (Lat. dens, dentis a tooth). One copy was held by each party so that at a future date they could be placed together to check that the indentations matched....

.... documents were cut with a wavy and not a zigzag edge, but the term 'indenture' still applies.....

Deeds which were a unilateral declaration by one party only did not need to be indented but were plled (meaning 'cut with a straight edge'). A Medieval (and later) example is a Quitclaim (renouncing all right and title, for example to certain land) and a modern example, a Deed Poll to declare a change of name.”




A William son of Henry de Farnelay witnessed a ‘quitclaim’ deed to the same estate executed in c1280. Note the slight change in the spelling from Farnlay to Farnelay. Perhaps it is the same William as witnessed in c1270, ten years earlier, but more information is now given: he is the son of Henry de Farnelay. My speculation that William could have been the son of the first mentioned Thomas de Farnlay was wrong. Two of the witnesses were knights, but William de Farnelay was not.

Quitclaim - ref. WYL639/9 - date: n.d. (c.1280)

Witnesses: Sir Robert de Plumpton, Sir Malger le Vausur, knights; William de Marton, John le Vausur, Adam de Westeuike, William son of Henry de Farnelay, William Faukus de Neuhal, William son of Master de Ottelay clerk.




Malger Vavasor, the c1240 witness, had apparently become Sir Malger le Vausur in c1280. William Faukus de Neuhal (now called Newall, very close to Farnley) in c1280 is likely to be related to the 1238 witness Pauline de Neuhal. He is also possibly a distant ancestor of Guy Fawkes of Farnley of 1605 Gunpowder Plot fame, who was from Farnley ancestry. Another Vavasore is named as witness in c1280: John le Vausaur.

There is a deed of sometime after 1275, in the Weston Hall records, granting assets in Lincolnshire.

LINCOLNSHIRE Grant - ref. WYL639/230 - date: n.d. (after 1275)

Witnesses: Sir William le Vavasur, Sir Simon Vard, Sir Mawger Vavasur, kts., Sir (Dominus) Adam de Middelton, Robert de Middelton, Walter de Middelton of Burelay, William son of Henry de Farnelay, Falcassius de Lindelay.




Sir Malger le Vausur c1780 was sometime after 1275 apparently named Sir Mawger Vavasur, but this is probably a vagary of the spelling of his name. It is possible that the knights named c1280 were created around 1266 after the barons’ uprising against Henry III.

“...Henry (III) deprived de Montfort's supporters of their lands, but the 'disinherited' fought back until terms were agreed in 1266 for former rebels to buy back their lands. By 1270 the country was sufficiently settled for Edward to set off on crusade.”


BBC website, Sept 2007




Richard de Monte, who received the properties at Farnlay in the 1238 deed, may perhaps have been a descendant of Richard de Monte-Acuto (or Montague) who died in 1161. There is evidence that Richard de Monte-Acuto, who died in 1161, was Sheriff at sometime much earlier, possibly between 1110 and 1116. This earlier Richard de Monte was ordered by King Henry I by writ to make a payment of alms. The great grandson of Sheriff Richard de Monte, if he be William de Monte-Acute, was ordered by Henry III to Chester in 1257. It is possible that Richard de Monte, the recipient of the 1238 Farnlay deed, is related to William de Monte-Acute and to the earlier Richard de Monte.

“Notes for William MONTACUTE:

Was summoned to attend King Henry III into Gascony, against Alphonse 10th, King of Castile, who had usurped the province. In 1257 he was summoned to be with King Henry III at Chester on the feast day of St. Peter, ad vincula, well furnished with horse and arms, thence to march against Llewellin ap Griffith prince of Wales. He had similar citation the next year.”


Richard De3 Monte-Acuto (Knight) (William De2, Drogo De1), died 1161. He married unknown. {William Montacute was the great grandson of this Richard de Monte-Acuto.}






But it is also possible that Richard de Monte, with property in the Farnlay village, was less well connected than the Montagues.

These are all the deeds known which were witnessed by de Farnlay and de Farneley in the thirteenth century near Farnley; but there are more in the fourteenth century in a later section. There are also more Weston Hall records from the thirteenth century not involving de Farnlays which could throw more light on their neighbours but which are not explored here. In the next section there are some thirteenth century records in the High Peak rolls of Henry III and Edward I which mention the Fearnleys.

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Fearnleys in the rolls of the Peak, Derbyshire, in the thirteenth century

(Click here for notes on the investigation of the rolls of the Peak.)

This section gives names of the earliest Fearnleys in Farnley in Yorkshire and in the Goyt valley in Derbyshire. The sources of records used here are all Internet sources from the Rolls of the Forest of the Peak.

Between 1227 and 1233, Henry de fernelev obtained ten acres of cleared land (an assart is a clearing in a forest to make way for a building or farmland) in the king’s Derbyshire High Peak forest area from William de Smalley. This pre-dates the 1238 Yorkshire deed witnessed by Thomas de Farnlay by five to ten years.

Assarts made ... in the time of Robert de Lexington as King’s Bailiff. (12 to 18 Hy. III.) (i.e. 1227 to 1233)...


henry DE fernelev, 10a., which Wm. de Smalley then held.


{in The Feudal History of the County of Derby, Chiefly during the 11th, 12th and 13th Centuries, by Jeatman, J P; and provided on the www by Robert P Marchington, 26th July 2005. Completed in Durham, Co. Durham.}




Perhaps Henry was not the same father of “William son of Henry de Farnelay” in the Yorkshire deed of c1280, but there is some evidence to suspect that he was the same man.

In the 35th year of the reign of Henry III, Henry de Fernelay, Richard de Weston and Richard de Smallcross were fined half a marc for “vert in the demense Park”. (Roll VI. 35 Henry III. 1/3 P.R.O.) That presumably means that, in 1250, they were accused of chopping down trees, or somehow damaging the habitat (the ‘vert’) of the deer, in the King’s forest (the ‘desmesne’). Perhaps Henry was creating illegal assarts to extend his assets.

The wording given in the source is:

“rich. DE smallcross, for vert in the demesne Park, 6d; fine ½m. bl. Hy. de Ferneley and Rich. de Weston.”





The meaning of the abbreviation “bl.” is unclear. Perhaps Richard de Smallcross was the chief perpetrator, aided by the other two? The juxtaposition of Henry de Ferneley and Richard de Weston makes them likely to be visitors from Weston and Farnley in Yorkshire. It is possible, however, that other Ferneleys may already have been established in Derbyshire for there is a now a village (and a reservoir) called Fernilee in the Goyt Valley of the High Peak. It is possible, though, that Henry’s ten acre assart was the start of a Ferneley settlement at Fernilee in Derbyshire from 1227.

Another link is Brian de Insula. The Weston estate in Yorkshire was built up by Sir Brian de Insula, and the fact that he was King’s Bailiff in the Peak forest, from 1222 to 1227 (he died in 1234), may be relevant to the journeying there of Henry de Ferneley and Richard de Weston. Brian was King’s Bailiff from the 7th to the 12th year of Henry III’s reign.

Brian de insula (7 to 12 Hy. III.) six years. The Pipe Roll records the grant to him of the 7 Hy. III. of the farm of the Peak and of Bolsover for £50.”




After ceasing to be Bailiff in the Peak forest in 1227, Brian de Insula and Hugh de Neville were given the job of “perambulation” in Sherwood forest, Nottinghamshire, in 1231 or 1232. This means that they were commissioned to find and record the boundaries of the forested land in Sherwood.

Forests. Nottinghamshire. Sherwood administration:- appointments, records, perambulations, claims, etc.


FILE [no title] - ref. DD/4P/75/20/1-2 - date: temp: Hen. III. copies: 17th c

Copy and translation of perambulation of the Forests of Nottingham, taken before Hugh de Nevill, Brian de Insula and others.


FILE [no title] - ref. DD/4P/75/21/1-2 - date: 1231-1232; trans: 1673 and n.d

2 attested translations of grant of Henry III, confirming perambulation of Hugh de Nevill and Brian de Insula, dividing forest and disafforested areas of Notts.


[Nottinghamshire Archives: Portland of Welbeck (4th Deposit): Estate Papers [DD/4P/50 - DD/4P/86]





The next Ferneley misdemeanour was that of an offence of ‘vert’ by ‘Henry de fernileg.’ which is recorded in the same year, 1250, Roll VI (35 Henry III. 1/3 P.R.O.) as in the previous case. The name “fernileg.” might be an abbreviation of fernilegh. It is probably also spelt badly. But it is also strangely close in the modern spelling to the Derbyshire place name of Fernilee. But he is presumably the same Henry as previously offended against ‘vert’.

Henry is presumably the father of William de Farnelay mentioned in the c1280 deed. Henry is likely to be related to the Thomas de Farnlay named in the 1238 and c1240 deeds; possibly they are brothers, cousins or father/son.

Also, Henry de Fernely, below, was bailed in 1250, the 35th year of the reign of Henry III.

Robert Clic de Pecco fined one marc, bail—William le Herberjour de Boden, Richard Scakelcross, Hy de Fernely, Henry Brenhand, John de Akerlands, William Bruway, Hugo and Richard his brothers, William de Smallgrass, Galf de Alstanly, Roger de Arnicroft, Richard de Littlebirches, Richard de Redeshawe.

The Lost History Of Peak Forest, Chapter VIII, Feudal History of the County of Derby.,   John Pym Yeatman and Sir Geo. Sitwell and re-transcribed by Robert P. Marchington.




A Richard de ferneley had an official role as an Agistator in the royal forest but was fined half a marc for poor administration.

Roll VII


“All the undermentioned Agistators (men appointed by letters patent to take rents for agistments of the cattle of strangers agisted in the King's forest, that is sent to feed there ; they were created by letters patent, and there were four appointed for every forest where the King had pasturage) in misericor1a for not producing their rolls according to the customs and assize of the forest.


rich. de ferneley, ½m.”




In c1280, Richard de Ferneley and others were treated “in mercy” despite failing to produce the killer of the king’s deer. This presumably means they were treated leniently.

rich. de stafford, Rd. Daniel, Roger le Archer, Roger le Ragged, Wm. Foljambe and Rd. de Ferneley, in mercy because they did not produce Wm. de Stafford for whom they were bail, Wm. de Stafford and Wm. de Wyleyboth having taken one doe.




William son of Richard de Ferneley obtained one rood of land, which is about about one quarter of an acre, in Coombes (assumed to be Combs on a modern map, about two miles east of Fernilee), according to Roll IV when Richard le ragged was bailiff. That is, this took place in 1280, the eighth year of the reign of King Edward I. This is more evidence that Ferneleys were settling on land in the High Peak.


ROLL IV (and Roll 4 of 1/11) In the time of Rich. Le Ragged (8 Ed.I) 

robt. de horden, in Combes, ir., Hugo Day, ½a., Rich. de Wythall, 1r., Rich. de Herdefield, ½a., Roger de Aston, 1r., Rad de Tonsted, la. and 1r., Rich. de Heylowe, 1r., Rich. fil Adam, 1a., Wm. Pastor, ½a., Wm. fil Rich. de Ferneley, 1r., Wm. de Thornely, la. and 1r., Rich. fil Rad. de Thornley, ja., Robt. atte Lowe, ½a. Rich. sub Monte, Wm. de Brok, Lucas de Forest, 2a. 1r., Stephen de Lcyc, Thomas le Ragged then held it.




Some clarification was apparently needed about the extent of the claim on land by Thomas le Ragged of Fernley. The date for this is unclear and it is an assumption that “the water of G’wit” is the river Goyt. Perhaps these lands are also near the village of Fernilee.


ROLL IX Purprestures beyond the Demesne by Thomas le Ragged. In the time of Edward I.

Required by the Foresters and others concerning the metes and bounds of the land of Thomas le Ragged of Fernley who claimed liberties, who say, that the metes and bounds of the said lands of the said Thomas begin at the Bridge of Welegh by the Royal Way to the (cross) to Crescliff, and from the said cross by certain caves (fovia) up to Routing-clought, and from Routing to Brownhegge, and up to the Waynstones, and from Waynstones descending to the Hocklow, and from Hocklow descending to the water of G'wit and by the water of G'wit ascending to the wood of Horworth.





During the reign of King Edward I, 1272-1307, Richard son of Richard de Fernlegh in Horwich was penalised in some way for offences presumably carried out in Horwich as was Thomas le Rugged of Ferneleigh for offences in Berde. Presumably Thomas le Rugged had lived at ‘Fernilee’ for some time and was penalised for offences committed in Berde.


In the time of Edward I. Roll V

... Rich fil Rich. de Fernlegh in Horwich, Thos. fil and heir Rich. le Ragged in Berde and Wythal, Thos. de Montheved in Kinder, Nic de Kinder, John dr Stones in Kinder. Peter de Hollinwood, Jo. de Bruera, Ad. de Olrenshaw, Wm. fil Hugo de Thornlegh, Hy. fil Wafrer de Greatrakes, Rich. Miller of Row Tunsted, Wm. fil Amode de Capella in Berde, Roger de Moswood of Eccles, Rich. de Amundesham in Kynder, Ralf de Parco in Hayfield, Rich. fil Roger de Howedene in Berde and Chinley, Jo. fil Jo. dc Ormsby in Berde, Wm. tie Olresete, Wm. Wedkoks de ead, Rich. Stede in Chinley, Walter Littlekake de Olresete (bail Wm. le Horsknave and Roger le Ragged de Peak), Roger de la Bothe (Robt. Fabre dc Chinley and Roger Maynwaring), Benedict dc Rochewell in Derby in Derwent.  Hy. DE medwe, Gervase de Clifton, Wm., because when he was Sheriff of Derby he liberated Benedict de Rochewell without warrant, Wm., Abbot, dc Basingwerk in Shelf, Wm. Redmon de Eiton (Chinley and WyKield), bl. Wm. Hally and Jo Martin, 27s. 4d , Rich. le Hore of Amundesham, 26s. 8d , Ricli. fil Luce de Foresta (bl. Rich. de Esseburn and Hugo Cassebyn), 5s., Wm. Martin Orberwork, John fil Mathew de la Hawe, Thos. le Rugged of Ferneleigh in Berde, Thos. le Gratten and Wm. Marten for same.





“The area around where New Mills is established today was designated as part of the Royal Forest after the Norman Conquest. It was not until 1391 when a corn mill known as ‘Berde’, located near the site of the present Salem Mill, took the name New Mill, that the present town was born.”





Also, Richard de Fernlegh’s offences in Horwich were presumably near what is now Whaley Bridge, as Whaley Bridge has a south-west suburb called Horwich End. Whaley Bridge is two miles north of Fenilee and three miles south of New Mills, the latter built on the site of Berde, in the Goyt valley.  Later on in the Rolls a Thomas le Ragged of Berde is mentioned.  This perhaps indicates movements up the Goyt valley from Fernilee to Berde and Whaley Bridge, perhaps gradually clearing the Kings’s forests in the Goyt valley as they moved.


Also mentioned in the rolls in the time of King Edward I is a Ranulfe le Ferne and in King Richard IIs time is a Richard del Ferne. The name Fearn which occurs in the later records in the Goyt valley is possibly derived from this usage. Whether Ferne was a place and different to Fernilee is unknown.


The imprisonment of Roger de Feneeley, of Chester, is on the Roll in the time of Edward I but the King appeared to be very slow in catching up and the offence appears probably to relate to the 36th year of Henry III’s reign, i.e. 1251. (Or is it the 51th year i.e. 1266?) Roulesthorpe is not on a modern map but there is mention in manorial rolls of the Leigh family in 1391 in north Cheshire a place called Routhesthorne which may have been the same place and is also not on a modern map. {I now know that Roulesthorne (or Roulesthorpe) is the modern Rostherne, near Tatton, where Chester means the county of Cheshire not the city of Chester.} (See Fearnleys in Cheshire in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries: Rostherne and Plumley.)


The Inquest of Henry III is as follows (late F 51, now 1/6 Duchy Records.).  

“The Jury present, &c., that the following was the division between the demesnes of the King and the lands of the Abbot of Basingwerc at Glossop, which begins at Geyt......


..... the order of the Abbot, and because, &c., the said Abbot could not warrant, &c., the said men were imprisoned.


And the Jury presented that the Abbot of Basingwerk (who was then dead) sold many oaks from the King's forest and in the regard, -and Richard Propositus of Tinglawisel (dead), Rad de Woley (dead), and Ralf Herened, and the whole vill of Romeley were guilty of taking the wood without warrant. willam DE wytehill killed 1 doe.


...list of offenders possibly imprisoned...

... roger DE feneeley, of Roulesthorpe in Chester




“robt. LE wine, of Monyash, bl. Wm. Hally, Thos. de Gretton, and Wm. Longston, 20s. and l0s. john DE mersh, bl. Rich. de Olrenshaw, 4os. roger LE archer, for not producing Wm. de Stafford, whom he had bailed, ½m. Wm. de Fowlowe, Rich. de Fernielegh for same (3 Ed I)


.rich. de fernleye, of Roulesthor, Chester, St. Peter ad Vinci (57 Hy. Ill), one stag, bl.

Thomas le Ragged in Ferneley, Wm. fil Adam de Honock, Co. Chester, one stag at Longsden, (St. Giles, 56 Hy. Ill), he carried the venison to the house of Robt. de Stockport.”




Richard de fernleye of Roulesthor, Chester, {i.e. Rostherne in Cheshire} was apparently associated with St Peter “in chains”. ‘St. Peter in Chains’ is a saint’s day and the reference is probably merely the day on which the case was heard. Certainly, other cases were heard by, or on behalf of, the king on that particular saint’s day.

Possibly it was the the same Richard de fernleye of Roulesthorpe who killed a stag in 1272 abetted by Thomas le Ragged in Ferneley. In 1275 (‘3 Edward I’), Richard de Fernielegh was fined half a marc for failing to produce a man he had bailed. This is possibly the same man, but the variation in spelling may point to a different man or it may be simply an instance of a carefree attitude to spelling.

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Fearnleys in Yorkshire in the early fourteenth century


These records are just an extension of the thirteenth century records in the previous section. The online records are very scanty after this period, which possibly represents a decline in record keeping or record preservation after the bubonic plague of the mid fourteenth century.




Gift - (c.1300)

Witnesses: William de Marton, William Faucus de Newale, William son of Henry de ? Fernelay, John de Mon... of Askewyht, Robert ? Wykele, Thomas de Scalwr.

Gell family of Hopton Hall, Derbyshire Title Deeds date: 13th cent

: Elias de Midhop, Henry de Spina, Geoffrey de Mora, Ralph clerk of Ithefeld, Ralph [ ] Ylionis, Walter de Petrus, Henry de Ferniley

Quitclaim indented - date: 3 May 1300

Witnesses: Sir Symon Ward, Sir William de Stopham, Sir Robert de Plumpton, Sir Mauger le Vavasour, knights; Adam de Midilton, William Frank Fauk, William son of Henry de Farnelay.

FARNLEY gift - ref. date: n.d. (c.1300)

By William de Somerscales to William son of Robert de Stayneburne of a toft and croft at Farnelay called Knyxtecroft between Forneby and Staynewardcroft to hold of William son of Henry de Farnelay paying 2d per annum.

Witnesses: Falcaseus de Lindelay, William Malebanke of Farnelay, Thomas de Northewode, Robert Gafayre de Lelay, Simon Godebarne, Simon son of Jord' de Farnelay, Henry Westiby of the same, Henry Bonenfaunt "maker of this writing".

Gift date: n.d. (c.1305) Witnesses: William de Castelay the elder, William de Farnelay, Henry le Vavassour, William de Castelay the younger, Robert de Fosse, Thomas de Askewyth, Thomas de Scalewra.

Quitclaim- date: n.d. (c.1305)

Witnesses: William son of Ellis de Castelaye, William son of Hugh of the same, William de Marton, John de Midheppe, William de Farnelay, Henry le Vavassour, Thomas de Scalewra.

Quitclaim - - date: 29 Apr 1313

Witnesses: Walter de Burghelay, William de Farnelay, William Faukes, William de Castelay the younger, Patrick de Marton.

Gift indented - ref.  WYL639/23  - date: 18 Mar 1313
Witnesses: Simon Warde, John Warde and Robert de Plumpton, kts; Walter de Burcheley, Patrick de Marton, William de Farneley, John de Calvirley.

NEWTON Indenture of lease for life - date: n.d. (c.1315)

Witnesses: Walter de Midelton, William de Castelay the younger, William de Farnelay, Lawrence de ?Markington.

Catalogue Ref. WYL639: Dawson family of Weston Hall, near Otley, West Riding of Yorkshire


Gift - ref. WYL639/25 - date: 15 Oct (?) 1321

[from Scope and Content] Witnesses: Mauger le Vavasour, Peter de Middleton, knights; William de Ferneley, William de Casteley, Robert de Wikeley, Robert de Burley the maker of these presents


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Fearnleys in the county of Chester (now Cheshire) in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries: in Rostherne and Plumley

(Click here for notes on the investigation of the Fearnleys in Cheshire in the 1200s.)

An IGI pedigree record had a Richard de Ferneley marrying Hawise Massy in Tatton c1290, Cheshire. Richard has no recorded parentage on the IGI but Hawise has traceable ancestors for her mother back to Hawise’s 4Gg Ralph Mesnilwarin {which later became Mainwaring} b c1043, and for her her father back to Sir Hamon Mascy b c1124. Rostherne is close to Tatton Park and the Massy family were connected with the Dunham Massey estate. . The pedigree was submitted to IGI, in a different format, by Rhonda Bawden, West Valley City, Utah, USA. For more details of the Massey family see and


This Richard de Ferneley was probably related to the earlier Roger de feneeley who was possibly imprisoned for an offence against the royal forest in 1251, noted in another section. We can speculate whether Richard is named in the Rolls of the High Peak. If he married in 1290 at age 20 years, he might appear in the rolls after 1290. This Richard is unlikely to be Richard de fernleye of Roulesthorpe as he was penalised in 1272. That would place him at age no less than about 40 years at the time of his marriage. That is possible, but unlikely. A Richard was also penalised in 1280: if he were the Richard marrying in Tattton, he could be no younger than about 30 years of age at the time of marriage. He is the more likely one. A William son of Richard is penalised in 1280 so that Richard is unlikely to be the same Richard unless he married twice with the second marriage 30 years after the birth of a son William, which is very unlikely.


A belated realisation, in March 2008, is that Roulesthorpe (or Routhesthorne) is an early spelling of Rostherne, near Tatton as seen in a manuscript dated 1326.


“By John de Shirbourn Proctor of Sir John Paynel rector of the Church of Routhesthorne (Rostherne) of two marcs of Thomas de Legh in part payment of 100s for half of tithes of Legh 1325. Dated at Routhesthorne Sunday before the feast of St. James the Apostle 1326.”


[Ref: Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service
LEIGH OF WEST HALL, HIGH LEGH. Catalogue Ref.  DLL 4/28  - date: 1326.] 





Probable descendants of these Rostherne Fearnleys had land granted to them in nearby Plumley as noted in Tabley estate records as follows.


Paragraph y. “William de Modburlegh granted Adam de ffernylegh and Alice his wife and john their son, 10 acres in a field called Lytillegh, in Plumlegh. Boundaries. Rendering to the abbot and convent of St Werburgh’s 6d. (Nativity of St. John the Baptist and St. Martin’s). Witnessed by Robert de Mascy, John de Legh, Robert le Grovenour, Roger de Leycester, William de Maynwaringe, Ralph de Lytilour, Adam Ffullone de Tatton, Richard clerk and others. Latin. f.124b 1341.”

[Data found on the website of Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies ref. Leicester-Warren family of Tabley, records. Family and Personal Papers. Peter Leicester [1614-1678]. Peter Leicester's Books. FindingNo DLT/B1. Level Item. Title Liber A. Date 17th century.]

Also, para z. "William de Modburlegh granted John son of Adam de le ffernylegh and Sarra his wife 10 acres in the field called Lightwode. boundaries Rendering 6d. a year to St. Werburgh’s. Witnesses as in {para.}y"





The following extract could be referring to a likewise named Adam and John Fearnley or more likely an early variant of a Fearnall or Furnivall in 1345 in Over Alderley, which is about ten miles from Plumley.



“Assize to recognise if Roger son of John de Ffarnehull father of Adam de Farnehull was seized of a messuage and 4 acres in Over Alderley (Latin transcript) F.108b 18 Edward III 11 Jan 1345.”


(Ref: Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies. Leicester-Warren family of Tabley, records. Family and Personal Papers. Peter Leicester [1614-1678]. Peter Leicester's Books. FindingNo DLT/B14. Level Item. Title Tomus Secundus of the evidences belonging to Leicester of Tabley. Date c.1677.)




More information may be available in mediaeval deeds from Tabley Hall, Arley Hall, Dunham Massey Hall, Tatton Hall and Marbury (near Great Budworth). Arley hall muniments are archived at the John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester. If Fearnleys settled post-plague in the 1300s in Great Budworth, and if they had not been freemen prior to the plague in the 1300s, where would they likely to have been bonded? (For surely not all Fearnleys at that time would have been as apparently free as Richard and Hawise and their families.) If Fearnleys settled at Great Budworth on the borders of the Marbury and Arley estates then they could have been returned as bondsmen to those estates. Perhaps they were not bonded men at Arley or Marbury but further away at, say, Tatton or Dunham Massey? But was that escaping far enough away to remain freemen in Great Budworth?


Also, there may be more Fearnley records in the area between Plumley and Great Budworth (five miles away) between 1341 and 1526. Work is needed to locate these records, if any, in the archives of Arley Hall and Tabley Hall.


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Fearnleys in other places and the origin of the Fearnleys

The IGI gives clues to family groups of Fearnleys not too far from Warrington and Great Budworth, though there may be other such groups not covered by IGI. The Goyt valley is close to Mottram in Longdendale and to Prestbury which both had early Fearnley families. In Mottram was buried a Lawrence, also spelt “Lorrence” in his Will of 1613. Perhaps this family is related to the Lorrence in Chester. There was an interesting, unusual naming of an Otiwell mentioned in the 1613 Will. Two other Ottewell Fearnleys appeared in Mottram one hundred years later. Lawrence left money in his 1613 Will to the Mottram church to go towards buying a new, fifth bell. It is not known if that bell was built at that time (if it was not agreed within a year the money was to go to the local poor) but the church more recently had eight bells. The ancient Prestbury parish used to be huge and not just located near the modern village of Prestbury. Siddington lies between Macclesfield and Great Budworth and was in the old parish of Prestbury. A Will was left by Ciciley Fearnley of Siddington in 1668. She may be the same Ciceley Foden who married William Fearnley at Prestbury on 16 Jan 1620 (IGI). According to her Will, Cicely had sons Robert and John and at least two daughters Anne and Catherine. If this is the Cicely who married in 1620, then her son John is likely to be too old to be our 8Gg ancestor.

There are some old records of Fearnleys in Frodsham in the 1580s and again in the early 1700s, but very little in the 1600s. A Cheshire Society book on the Frodsham parish registers, records that in 1738 a John Fernley married Sarah Milner “at ye great church in Chester”. Was Sarah living in Chester, or did families in nearby areas sometimes like to have a grand wedding in the city? A John, son of Thomas Fearnley, was baptised in Aston, near Daresbury, near Warrington, on 20 November 1628 (noted from a transcript of some Daresbury church registers at Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies). John is too old to be the elusive 8Gg ancestor, but the Daresbury records in the 1600s are very patchy and a record of a potential ancestor from that parish could easily have been lost. An Aston also features in the Great Budworth records but that is a different Aston, near Great Budworth. Lymm lies closer to Warrington than Great Budworth, but there are no Fearnleys there in the 1600s (admittedly after only a perfunctory inspection of original records on microfilm). There were some Fearnheads, though and an intriguing record was of a baptism on 17 October 1646 of John son of William ffearnlxxxx. Unfortunately, the name was written tailing off into the binding margin of the ledger and the last few characters are illegible on the microfilm. Only an inspection of the original ledger can confirm that it is another Fearnhead and not a Fearnley. The Bishops’ Transcripts, held in Chester, for Lymm have been inspected but they are not conserved for the year 1646.

In 1635, John Witter of Tarporley was sentenced at Chester for slandering Anna Fearnley (Source: A2A website). Tarporley is half way between Nantwich and Chester. I have checked the Tarporley registers, and this Anna could be the wife of Richard Fearnley of Tarporley or, albeit much less likely, the wife of Thomas Fearnley of Nantwich.

In Warrington, on 21 Nov 1663, Mris Ann [Bulling, allies] ffernley was buried. Earlier in Warrington, on 6 May 1637, John Fearnley, the butcher, was buried at St. Elphin’s. John had a wife (Eme) who died a few years before his daughters (Marie and Margaret) were born.

A Willm {Wilhelmina? Ellin?} ffearnley daughter of George ffearnley was baptised at Rostherne on 13 Nov 1607. A John fferneley was also baptised in Rostherne in 1634, possibly too old to be a contender for our 8Gg ancestor (16 March 1634 Johannes filius Johannes fferneley).

There are more Fearnleys that are deliberately not covered by this work. That is because it would be too big a task. In particular, the IGI shows many Fearnleys in Yorkshire especially around Birstall. And other Fearnleys in the south of England, in Beccles, and in London. Other Fearnleys further north-east in England, too. And those who migrated to the USA and Norway are not covered.

It is tempting to think of the spread of the Fearnley family from that first known Henry de Farnlay born possibly before 1205 in Farnley, near Otley in Yorkshire, then spreading down to the High Peaks to settle in Fernilee in the Goyt valley as evidenced by the assarts in the King’s Rolls of the High Peaks. A further spreading could have been to Roulesthorne (i.e. Rostherne, near Tatton Park) and from there to Plumley and Great Budworth, Winwick and Warrington. But some of that would be conjecture and making connections in a history based too much on slender pieces of surviving records. There may have been no such migration. There may have been different and unrelated settlements of Fearnleys around the country from the first usage of surnames. Perhaps not kindred peoples, but folk who lived in different fern leas, or fern covered meadows.

The task of finding the ancestors of John Fearnley who married Anne Whittell in Winwick in 1675 was noted by Bob Fearnley in his website One doubt that I had when our tree was being uncovered was that it seemed to be homing in on that John as to a magnet. He was the first Fearnley available in the Winwick records. That is a danger that I was very aware of yet it is difficult not to be drawn to the existing data and find your history there. So when the existence of a Will of William Fearnley of Hulme, Winwick, of 1666 was recently discovered and sent for but not yet received, there was a moment when the doubts re-surfaced. The doubts caused by the uncertainty of whether or not we have enough records; whether the true ancestors may be unrecorded in the written history, or not yet discovered. That particular William, however, appears to have been childless.

A similar problem occurs when interpreting the records in Farnley, the Goyt valley and around Rostherne. Does the incompleteness of the data cause you to think that there is a migration when it is in fact illusory? Was there a connection between the Yorkshire and Goyt valley Fearnleys? A Henry de Ferneley (from Farnley near Otley) and a Richard de Weston (from Weston near Otley) in Yorkshire probably travelled together to the Peak forest in 1250, but we cannot know if they settled there. Unless, perhaps, that Henry was the same Henry who was granted ten acres of Peak land between 1227 and 1233. It is just possibly enough data to suggest that Henry was one Fearnley who migrated. The Fearnleys in the thirteenth century appear to have been nibbling away at the Peak forest making assarts or clearances and so perhaps helped the growth of Fernilee, Whalley Bridge and New Mills in the Goyt valley. Some Fearnleys fined in the Peak forest lived at Rostherne and there is a long but unsure structure to the family tree of about seven generations in Rostherne from about 1250 to 1340, ending in nearby Plumley. But we cannot say with any confidence that there was a further migration of Fearnleys from the Goyt valley on to Rostherne as there is not enough data. The Rostherne Fearnleys may have been independent of the Yorkshire Fearnleys. The migration from Rortherne to Plumley seems more certain as Rostherne notables witnessed the deeds granting the lands in Plumley to Fearnleys. Research is needed between 1340 and 1526 to see if the Great Budworth Fearnleys of 1526 were descended from the Plumley Fearnleys of 1340. Plumley is only about five miles east of Great Budworth.

It is certain that the Warrington Fearnleys had ancestors in Winwick. And it is probable but not certain that their ancestors were from Latchford and before that from Great Budworth. An interesting line in the 1616 Will of Peter Fearnley notes that he asked to be buried in the churchyard of Great Budworth where his ancestors “heretofore have beene buryed”. Again there is a lack of data. What exactly did Peter mean by his ancestors? Did he mean ancestors back 50 years (i.e. to 1560 of which we already know of Fearnleys in the parish records) or further back to nearly 100 years (to 1526 of which there are records of four Fernley families near Great Budworth) or 150 years (to 1450)? Does the term “ancestors” used by Peter suggest that the move (if there was such a move) from Plumley to Great Budworth was earlier rather than later in the period 1340 to 1525?

It may be futile to look for an original field which became the first “Fernley” settlement and produced the entire Fearnley family. For example, the website for Bishop’s Castle ( claims that Hereford was called Fernley in Saxon times. People were not known to use surnames in Saxon times, however. Was Fernley really a Saxon word? The concise Oxford Dictionary defines both ‘fern’ and ‘lea’ as having Old English origins, where Old English was the language of the Anglo-Saxons up to about 1150. There may not be a single Fearnley tree; there may be non-kindred Fearnleys. That should not, however, stop us trying to find the links that do connect us.

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Notes on the investigation of the family tree in Warrington


My brother, Edward Fearnley, started to research the family some years ago and obtained birth, marriage and death records of Fearnleys in Warrington through internet BMD and census sites and Registrars’ offices for paper copies of certificates. In February 2007, I joined him in the work and started reading the transcripts of Warrington parish records of baptisms, marriages and burials kept at Manchester Central Library and in LPRS books at Warrington library for records of events before 1837. Some relevant information has also been found on the IGI website ( and also on the A2A website ( and the occasional reading of microfilm of original records of Warrington and Grappenhall in the early 1800s was necessary. The Online Parish Clerks for the County of Lancashire at was also useful.


It is very fortunate that so many of the parish records were available as typed transcripts by the LPRS, because looking at microfilms of original records can be slow work and the reading of photographs of original handwritten records, can be frustrating. I helped Edward in the work of making sense of these data in the pre-1837 period in terms of family structures, and helped to edit the history and to look for possible inconsistencies in the tree structure.


Warrington Library had a project to index the articles in The Warrington Guardian, which proved useful for pointing to the Hankinson trial and for a few other stories not reported here. The project unfortunately only covered part of the 1860s, but the coverage is in great depth. It is likely that The Warrington Guardian contains other stories relevant to Fearnleys in the later 1800s, not indexed, which would take time to uncover.


Edward (Eddie) has a much more detailed history of Fearnleys in Warrington than is shown here, though not all records found can be linked to our branch of the Fearnleys. Readers wanting more information should contact him via


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Notes on the investigation of the family tree in Winwick

LPRS books of Winwick parish records of baptisms, marriages and burials kept at Manchester Central Library provided the Winwick family data; as also did LPRS books and microfiches of Ashton, Newton and Culceth parish records at Manchester Central Library and at Warrington Library. That is, from about 1560 to 1837. Also, relevant information has been found on the IGI website ( and on the A2A website ( My brother, Edward, took the lead role in putting the records into family groups and linking them to the later Warrington families, as he had the prior experience of arranging such groupings for the later Warrington families. I have supported him by checking this work and have been surprised at just how difficult it is. It is painstaking work, and was much more arduous than the collecting of the data, particularly as so much of the data were found in books in the locality. The wording of the family tree history in Winwick and Warrington was mostly by Edward but with some insertions and editing by me.


It is not always possible to be sure of family groupings. For example, if there are two William Fearnleys married to two Marys in the same parish, then even if you have all the records it is not absolutely certain which children belong to which family as the parish records, unlike later national BMDs, are sparse in the information they give. Nor indeed is it necessarily certain which Mary married which William as the two Marys will be distinct in the records (if such records are found), by their different surnames, but the two Williams will both be recorded as William Fearnley. But which is which? There are over four hundred events in the database for the Winwick period but when searching through them cross-checking dates, birthplaces and parents’ names, and looking for alternative compositions of families, it seemed that there were many more! That feeling is in stark contrast to the earlier excitement of first finding those same family members in the parish records. A constant worry is that you are putting the families into the wrong groupings because the relevant records are lost or destroyed forever or were never documented, or … perhaps you have not found them yet. That is, there is a need to minimise a tendency to create false links between the records that have been found, and instead accept that there are missing records.


Winwick was a very large parish with its base at St. Oswald’s church about two miles to the north of Warrington on the A49 road. The parish at one time included Newton (Newton-in-Makerfield), Ashton (Ashton-in-Makerfield), parts of what are now Warrington (e.g. Hulme), Croft, Culceth and part of Golborne. Edward has a much more detailed history of Fearnleys in Warrington than is shown here. Bob Fearnley has been working in this area and had already accessed the Winwick, Newton and Ashton parish records and made them available on the internet before I started this work. (See Bob also noted the difficulty of finding the origin of our 8Gg John Fearnley and he found a possible though, as he acknowledged, a rather distant John Fearnley born in 1654 in Nantwich, Cheshire. Peter Booth has been researching the Fearnleys near Winwick and he very usefully pointed to the A2A website for details of the removal order of Mary Fearnley and family from Warrington to Golborne (in the parish of Winwick).



In 1660, Richard Sherlock was made rector of Winwick, by the Earl of Derby, but the living was disputed by the lessee of the parish whose term had not expired. Also, when he first came to his living, the rumour was that he was a High Churchman, which prejudiced the Winwick parishioners against him. Sherlock was not a full rector until 1662. The previous lease of the glebe, patronage, and tithes of the parish, which had been made for 99 years, expired in 1662. Mr. Potter did the duties before, and shortly after, Sherlock's arrival, and was noted to have married two couples from Grappenhall in 1663 at Winwick church. (Based on Winwick: Its History and Antiquities. By William Beamont. Second edition. 1897 Our 8Gg John Fearnley was, therefore, not the first person from Grappenhall to marry in Winwick.

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Notes on the investigation of the family tree in Grappenhall

I have searched in the microfilm of original records of baptisms, marriages and burials for St Wilfred’s, Grappenhall, Cheshire, kept at Manchester Central Library. The writing was dreadful in the post-civil war 1650s. Some of it at a 20 degree slope downwards.


It took so long for me to get around to looking at the records of this parish, which is very close to Warrington, because I was entertained and diverted by the possible Nantwich connection for our 8Gg John. Also, I have found no easy transcripts for the Cheshire parishes of Grappenhall and Great Budworth and I had been spoiled previously by the comparative ease of searching the Lancashire area data due to the useful LPRS books being available. I found the 1600s original handwriting much easier to read after I had gained familiarity in a fortnight spent transcribing the Great Budworth Wills.


The Bishops’ Transcripts copy version of the parish registers were also consulted at the Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies but they were disappointingly sparse in the period of interest.


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Notes on the investigation of the family tree in Nantwich and Chester

I was alerted to the possibility of the Nantwich connection for the birth of 8Gg John Fearnley by the website of Bob Fearnley (See The CPRdb: Cheshire Parish Register Database website held a record of this baptism and also gave John’s father’s name (Thomas) and John’s sister Anne. A visit to Nantwich Library allowed me to search through the microfilms of original writings of the parish records of St. Mary’s, Nantwich, and St. Mary’s Acton near Nantwich. But they were very difficult to read because of my unfamiliarity with the old writing. I was pointed to Nantwich Library by Warrington Library staff but I did not check other alternatives soon enough. In fact, the microfilms were also available at my local library in central Manchester. Also, excellent hand-written transcripts are available in the Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies office at Chester, and those were very helpful in quickly extending the search by finding Thomas’s wife’s name (Anne) and details of her re-marriage to George Whintiley. Visiting Nantwich though did give me an opportunity to take photographs of the two St. Mary’s churches at Nantwich and nearby Acton.


Transcriptions of Chester parish records were harder to obtain. There are about ten parishes and, surprisingly, only three of them have transcriptions, kept at Chester. Microfilms of original writings are available at Chester for all their parishes and also at Manchester Central Library. The task of finding Fearnley records in Chester was left unfinished after I found that the Grappenhall and Great Budworth Fearnley records were more relevant to me than those at Nantwich/ Chester.


Dr. Sherlock, who was rector of Winwick from 1662 to 1689, and may therefore have married John our 8Gg ancestor to Anne Whittle, also had a connection with Nantwich. His first living was in Ireland, which he lost on the outbreak of rebellion in 1641, whereupon he was appointed chaplain to one of the regiments then going over to England. In the defeat of the King's forces under Lord Byron, near Nantwich, on 25 Jan 1643, where Sherlock was with his regiment, he was taken prisoner. Fairfax, in his despatch from Nantwich on 29 Jan 1643, mentions that Sherlock was taken prisoner in the battle. From Nantwich, where he was captured, Sherlock was sent to Oxford, where he became chaplain of New College.

(Based on Winwick: Its History and Antiquities. By William Beamont. Second edition. 1897


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Notes on the investigation of the Wills (1663 to 1852) in Warrington and Winwick

Thanks go to the Lancashire Record Office at Preston for providing copies of the Wills. The Wills were requested via email to their office, following a telephone call to check that they provided such a service, and they were kindly sent to me through the post by 23 April 2008.


I could not find an index of available Wills on the Lancashire Record Office website and this lack of such a facility was confirmed to me in a telephone conversation. I should have found reference to the Wills sooner but the story is rather convoluted.


A visit was paid to Chester to the office of the Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies with the purpose of trying to find more information on Fearnleys in Plumley 1340 up to Great Budworth in 1560. The first card index pointed me, however, to a Will of Ellen Pickton of Latchford, Cheshire, 1852. I knew of the existence of this Will from the A2A website but had not yet taken the trouble to seek it out, so I inspected the original document that day. The card index for the period 1340 to 1600 in Plumley/Great Budworth was meagre (although there were intriguing riots in Plumley in 1605) and the job I had intended would have entailed looking through the twenty or more volumes of catalogues, which are typed summaries of the original manuscripts. Some of these are available on their website and others not yet so. Thirty per cent of all the archives are not even yet recorded in the typed catalogues. A cry sometimes is made by people that they do not wish to be labelled, but it is essential that archives be catalogued as without a label (a card index or a catalogue reference code) the original manuscript cannot be fetched out of the stores to the public. While looking, somewhat daunted, at the catalogue volumes, I found a nearby set of books named Wills of Chester by the Record Society for the Publication of Original Documents Relating to Lancashire and Cheshire. These books listed all the Wills in Cheshire and in south Lancashire, i.e. in Lancashire south of the river Ribble. The Cheshire Wills are available at Chester whereas the south Lancashire Wills are available at Preston. A telephone call to Preston confirmed that south Lancashire Wills were called ‘Chester Wills’ and north Lancashire Wills were called ‘Richmond Wills’ and, although north Lancashire is not relevant to my studies, I checked the www to compare facilities and found a website containing an online index of individual people’s names who have made Richmond Wills, but an index for south Lancashire was not found.


The information in these Wills is causing my brother Edward to re-write some sections of our wider family tree. Also, some of the information in this section is written with the help of Edward in connecting the Wills data to the parish records data.



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Notes on the investigation of the Wills (1611 to 1707) and parish records (1560 to 1729) in Great Budworth

Thanks go to Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies for providing copies of the Wills. The Wills were requested via their website and were sent to me through the post. Their website usefully included an index of the Wills.


Although written in English, all at first looked almost impossible to read, but with familiarity they became more manageable. That is, the writing was systematically different from modern writing. Full stops were used only sparingly. Some letters were formed differently, for example, c, d, e, f, h, r, s. But once aware of those differences, transcription became manageable. Deterioration in the conservation of the document was another matter. Some photocopies were missing margins of an inch or so, which left gaps in the transcriptions throughout the documents. Some had holes mid-page where the documents had been folded. Some of the Wills were very well written but others were not, and it seems harder to decipher ambiguous writing when the characters are not perfectly familiar. Also, my place on the page during transcription was kept, especially at the beginning of this work, with post-it notes as to look away from the word focused upon for a fraction of a second was to lose your place, which was very disconcerting. With modern writing you can often take in a block of text at once and almost instantly know where your focus should be, after looking away, but this is not the case with unfamiliar characters. In the early stages it was very irritating and unexpected to lose my place so easily, that is until post it notes were employed. For each separate Will, I made a table with both upper and lower case old letters and against them their equivalent modern letters. That was very useful and these tables also helped me in the subsequent task of reading the Great Budworth sixteenth and seventeenth century parish records on microfilm at Manchester Central Library. One codicil of a Will, of Robert Fearnley, 1629, is still, however, not transcribed as the writing is still too difficult for me to read.


The Bishops’ Transcripts copy of parish registers were consulted at Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies but only provided one extra Fearnley record.


The parish records and the transcription of Fearnley Wills gave information on in-laws of Fearnleys. Wills of a dozen in-laws were received from Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies but they provided little extra information on Fearnleys.


Details of the 1616 Will of William Gandy, Sevenoaks, Antrobus were found in the website William and George Fearnley received some money and goods in this Will. Also, a later William Gandy, who died on 14 Dec 1683, was a Quaker farmer at Frandley, near Antrobus, who owned various local properties including a “Fearnley’s tenement”. William Gandy was a strong supporter and host for the famous travelling preacher George Fox, from 1657 onwards, and at one time William and 88 supporters were imprisoned at Chester for refusing to take the oath of allegiance.


Reference to the Will of a George Fearnley of Antrobus 1588 was found in Wills of Chester 1545-1620 by the Record Society for the Publication of Original Documents Relating to Lancashire and Cheshire, Vol II (1879). However, that Will was lost or too badly deteriorated sometime after 1879.


Note that in transcribing old writing, care must be taken to distinguish between Fearnley, Forrest and French, which can look superficially alike in old handwriting styles, and all three surnames were frequent in Great Budworth.


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Notes on the investigation of the Yorkshire records in the thirteenth century

Most of the information in this section was found on the A2A (Access to Archives) website The search engine requires exact spelling so just entering “Fearnley” will not pick up records for, say, “Farnley”. The original records have not been accessed by me for these purposes, only the summaries obtained on the A2A Internet website.


Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service possesses one of these Yorkshire records but their website states that “Our role is to locate, collect and preserve archives relating to past and present life in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent, and to make them available to the people of Staffordshire and its visitors”. But this possession does not give grounds for thinking that there is a link between Farnley and Staffordshire in 1238: Farnley is in Yorkshire. It is probable that the Will was labelled as pertaining to Weston Hall, which is nearby to Farnley, but there is also a Weston Hall near Telford, in Shropshire, which is only 15 miles from the Staffordshire Record Office. Possibly there was some confusion in the distant past over the Weston name when the archive was obtained by Stafford. Also this deed is labelled in A2A as both ‘miscellaneous’ and ‘unidentified’.


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Notes on the investigation of the rolls of the Peak in the thirteenth century


Information in this section was obtained from: The Feudal History of the County of Derby, Chiefly during the 11th, 12th and 13th Centuries, by Jeatman, J P; which is available online, by Robert P Marchington, 26th July 2005. Completed in Durham, Co. Durham. At


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Notes on the investigation of the Fearnleys in the county of Chester (now Cheshire) in the thirteenth century


The information on the c1290 marriage of Richard Fearnley and Hawise Mascy was obtained from the IGI website. There appears to be a family of Fearnleys beginning with a Roger de feneeley c1250 of Roulesthorpe (i.e. Rostherne near Tatton Park) and ending with Adam de ffernylegh and his wife Sarra who were granted 10 acres of land in nearby Plumley in 1341. (From Rolls of the Peak and from A2A.)


The Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies website provides a lot of mediaeval information online for Cheshire and Warrington, but there is very little on Fearnleys. More information on Fearnleys is possibly available in the original archives themselves or in offline summaries at Chester, rather than in the online summaries. To pursue that would seem to require a far greater effort that the historical work I have undertaken so far. I started to investigate the offline summaries at the Chester archives office but became daunted by the task and diverted to investigating Wills and marriage licences instead. If I were to suggest where to explore new areas for work on the Fearnley tree, it would be from 1340 to 1526 between Plumley and Great Budworth. Fearnleys were in Plumley in 1340 and Plumley is around five miles east of Great Budworth where there were Fearnleys in 1526. Is there a link between the Plumley and Great Budworth Fearnleys? Five miles and 180 years apart, with as yet no Fearnley data in between.


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Austin Fearnley

19 July 2008

Revised 28 July 2008



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