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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB



I thought it would be helpful to record here some notes on my primary sources for research and the methodology which I have evolved since I started working on my family history in about 2000. This might be particularly helpful to others who wish to research their family histories. It might be particularly helpful to those exploring Yorkshire families and their history.

At this stage this page is still being worked on. I’ll do a bit more work to this over time. I’ve used a lot more research sources than I’ve currently listed here, but still need to add these.



A genealogist hits the jackpot where a family descends from noble and aristocratic lines. For then the records are extensive and pave a course well back in time. Sometimes families can find a ‘gateway ancestor’, a link to a relative of pedigree, whose ancestry has already been studied and recorded in detail and which might provide a direct route to medieval noblemen and perhaps royalty. There the Farndale family are not fortune. But it would be no fun if we were, as the work would already have been done for us.

The Farndales, like most British families, are the ordinary folk. Families like these bind and explain the social fabric of society through the ages. Such families are the bedrock of society, and it their graft and experiences which provide the engine room of society. So if we can take a family, and explore it through time, this provides us with a unique insight into British social history.

However, having accepted that we fall into the class of the ordinary folk, in another respect the descendants of the Farndales have some privileged opportunities to explore their past, which is not shared by many other families.

Surnames, which I explore in a bit more detail on another page, are generally of four types. Occupational surnames derive from historical jobs, like Baker (which was my grandmother’s name), until the names become fixed over time. Patronymic names allow a fellow with a Christian name to link himself to his father, providing more continuity to who he is, like Orm Gamalson, who we meet in the early Anglo Saxon history of Farndale, the Saxon/Viking feudal lord of Kirkbymoorside. Descriptive names originated in nicknames until they became fixed as surnames, like Whitelock from the complexion of hair, or Pybus from pikebush describing a prickly character, both being examples of families who have married Farndales.

The fourth type of surname is a locative name. Those fortunate to have a locative name have an advantage in genealogy, because as the records dim over time, there is still a route to find more about the people who lived in the place, and about the place itself. Where that placed is relatively small, and easy to place in time, particularly a rural spot which is nevertheless identified and described in history, then it becomes possible to build up the fullest history back to the earliest of times.

For a genealogist exploring a name lijke Farndale, all the tools of research are available, including some tools which may otherwise be quite tricky to benefit from, in exploring medieval history.


For genealogists of English history, life becomes easier for all from 1538, when parish records started to be made, and even easier as births deaths and marriages were recorded more formally and centrally, and census records started from 1801.

For that reason, I, like most genealogists, have taken a very different approach to research after 1538 to that before 1538.

I was fortunate because my father, Martin Farndale, had extensively researched the family’s history before me, though in pre computer days when remarkably he had to work painstakingly through written records in different parishes and the like. So when I took over responsibility for the work at about the turn of the Millenium, the structure was already well in place. But as a rule, it is always best (indeed it is essential really) to work backwards, from what is known with certainty, into the unknown past. So the work can only start in the modern age, and trails followed backwards into the Middle Ages. That is always the best approach – when trying to solve a problem, start with what is known for certain in more modern times, and work back to try to use records to fill in what happened in earlier times. That said, there are occasions when a scattergun approach can help – with a name like Farndale, it is certainly worth finding a medieval record set, and just searching the name to find what comes up. That will help with some building blocks, then to be slotted in.

Medieval Records (1066 to 1538)

Before the Norman Conquest

There is no realistic source for bureaucratic records before the Norman Conquest, at least regarding ordinary folk. However for a family with a locative surname, there are still opportunities to understand the family’s roots. If the family comes from a place, then there is real value in exploring the place, which is more of a possibility. Potentially archaeological records might help, but there are records which help to build a picture of a place in Anglo Saxon Britain. For instance my family’s story starts with the Saxon/Viking nobleman, Orm Gamalson, who married in to the family of the Earls of Northumbria.Theer are historical records about him and some clues about the estate of Kirkbymoorside, of which the dale of Farndale is a part. For instance there is a church of St Gregory at Kirkdale. The sundial at Kirkdale is one of a number of late Anglo Saxon sundials and is particularly intricate in its design. The central panel contains the sundial and an Old English inscription above it which reads “This is the day’s sun-marker at every hour”. The left panel reads “Orm the son of Gamel acquired St Gregory’s Church when it was completely ruined.” The right hand panel reads “and collapsed, and he had it built anew from the ground to Christ and to St Gregory in the days of King Edward and in the days of Earl Tostig”. Tostig, the son of Earl Godwin of Wessex and brother of Harold II, the last Anglo Saxon King of England was the Earl of Northumbria between 1055 and 1065. It was therefore in the course of that decade that Orm, son of Gamel rebuilt St Gregory’s Church.

So although Farndale the place was deep forest and an unknown place in Saxon times, it was part of an estate whose community was developing no doubt around Kirkdale.

So we catch a glimpse of the place and the community around it, in Saxon times, just before the Norman Conquest.


The Norman Conquest

William the Conqueror was victorious over King Harold at Hastings in 1066. The south of England was quickly subdued. But the land was divided at that time, so the north was not so easily controlled and a painful period of about twenty years ensued when our poor ancestors must have suffered the harrying of the north, particularly during the winter of 1069–1070 to subjugate Northern England. But gradually the land fell under the dominance of the Normans and the land was redistributed to those who had fought with William.

The bureaucratic tool to record the conquered lands and which described who owned the land before the Conquest and to whom the land was transferred, is The Domesday Book. The hyperlinks on this page will take you to other pages to explore the topic in some more detail, or to other webpages. Kirkbymoorside is on the list. It was transferred from Orm Gamalson to Hugh fitz Badric. There were 10 villagers, 1 priest. 2 ploughlands. 2 lord's plough teams. 3 men's plough teams, 1 mill, value 4 shillings. 1 church.

Well we know that Orm Gamalson had just rebuilt St Gregory, so that must be the church where the priest must have lived. The 10 villagers must have lived around Kirkdale too. So that must have been the community living on the Kirkbymoorside estate at or around Kirkdale at the time of the Conquest.


Medieval Society

Medieval society might broadly be described as hierarchical, shaped like an inverted triangle with the King at the top, then the noblemen, then knights and with the vast bulk of the population falling into the bottom rung category of ‘peasants’, the villeins or the serfs. The Farndale ancestors were firmly in the villeins camp.

Medieval society was feudal, with land handed down from the monarch. The land of England was therefore organised into estates and manors. Farndale lies in the estate called Kirkbymoorside. So that provides our first important route marker to explore the history of the place, and the history of folk settling in the place, and eventually emerging with the name.

Medieval society comprised very rural societies organised into estates.

Land passed between aristocrats in various transactions. So in the earliest time, it is very relevant to explore the history of the aristocratic families who held the land. The ordinary folk who were placed on the land owed service and rent in return for the privilege of being allowed to hold parcels of land. The rules were also governed by custom. Different methods of holding land emerged, freehold, copyhold and leasehold [expand].

Medieval Records

Surveys were sometimes undertaken, into rents, costs, customary obligations. Roads might have been surveyed for upkeep purposes. For instance terriers were detailed surveys of boundaries and ownership of land.

Many of the medieval records are ow available on line. A lot of records are available and searchable through sites such as medieval genealogy and British History Online, but the primary source, which is well structured, is the National Archives at Kew, London (who use the abbreviation “TNA”). TNA also have plenty of guidance pages to help.

For local manorial documents, a good starting point is the TNA’s Manorial Documents Register.

The centre of administration was with the Crown, its royal household, and the parliament.


Records of landholding

Landholding – deed or indenture – enrolments (feet of fines (The National Archives (“TNA”) CP25/1 pre 1509 then CP25/2, close rolls (C54), charter rolls (C53)


Chancery Records

Central government was primarily found in the Chancery (the office of the Lord Chancellor), which was the bureaucratic centre of the Crown’s government, its ‘writing house’. From there flowed royal authority, through sealed writs, allowing stuff to happen around the Kingdom. Copies were made. Bureaucracy was born from the late twelfth century.

Patent Rolls (TNA record set C66) – open official business (letter patent, open for all to see, so more general business) Key comms between Crown and locality

Close Rolls (TNA record set C54) – closed official business – sealed – more for specific individuals – instruction, appointment etc

Fine Rolls (TNA record set C 60) – transactions with the Crown – now on line in English searchable now available

Liberate Rolls (TNA record set C 62) – payments and issues

Chancery Calendars

Curia Regis


Exchequer Records

The Crown’s financial affairs were organised through the Exchequer who were responsible for taxation and conducted audits. The King had to raise money in order to be able to govern his realm.

The relationship between the Crown and localities was an important feature. There were sheriffs and other officials at local level. Crown lands had to be managed. Royal officials were appointed. There were a few semi autonomous jurisdictions, namely Durham and Lancaster.

Pipe Rolls – E 372 – government transactions

Poll Tax – tax on people living somewhere

Lay Subsidies – tax on wealth

Lay Subsidies and poll taxes – TNA series E179 – search by date, place, name

Lay Subsidies– person’s moveable wealth

Poll Taxes 1377, 1379, 1381 – all men and women over 14 less beggars and hopeless impoverished, 4d from all regardless of income, names by parish, town, borough, hamlet

C Fenwick, The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 & 1381, 3 vols, Oxford 1998 to 2005

Memoranda Rolls – E159, E 368 – debts


State Papers

Privy Council – Proceedings and Ordinances 1386-1542

State Papers online – eg Papers of Henry VIII – academic institutions – subscription to access – good for civil war (eg those refusing to take oath)– calendars of state papers at British History Online or institutional subscription

Crown Surveys

Governing the country and raising armies

Include the poorer manorial tenants

Book of Fees (Testa de Nevill), 1198-1293

Hundred Rolls listing landowners 1279-1280

Inquisitions post mortem (IPM) 1235-1640 – assessors work out what land held for Crown and what worth, so how much to take – find age when father died if under 21 taken into wardship

Inquisitions Ad Quod Damnum – to what damage – local patronage – support local church etc

Other Inquisitions


The legal justice system

Trial by combat or ordeal before c11/12th

Attorneys, trial by court

Crown take over more and more including local justice

Judicial system


·         Crown and forest – forest laws very distinct, own justice system

·         Borough and manorial

·         Ecclesiastical

Civil and criminal cases

Legal codes - Common law – Canon - Equity

Criminal Justice and common law civil suits

King’s Bench – central criminal court – more serious cases – Westminster – TNA KB26 (pre 1272) and then KB27

Court of Common Pleas – civil cases - Westminster – TNA KB26 (pre 1272) and then CP40

Itinerant justices, criminal and civil

General Eyre circuits – TNA JUST 1 1194-1348

Assize circuits from 1274 – TNA JUST 1

Might refer up to the Westminster courts

Outlawry rolls – ‘outlaws’

Coroner’s rolls – unusual deaths – JUST 2

Separate courts for Durham, Lancaster, Chester, duchy of Lancaster

Royal justice – the equity courts

Equity v common law – private suits where no crime committed, but some sort of wrongdoing alleged, so resolution by evidence rather than precedent

Standard process – pleadings (bill of complaint, answer, rejoinder, replication) – Interrogatories (list of questions) to depositories (witnesses) and affidavits – master exhibits and reports – Decrees and Orders

Settlement out of court

Standard process for all equity cases

Variety of courts:

·         Chancery (c14th onwards)(Lord Chancellor) – wide ranger of litigants

·         Exchequer (c16th onwards), crown debtors or tenant law suits

·         Star Chamber (from 1485), emerged from Privy Council petitions

·         Court of Requests (from 1483 with records from 1485, court for the poor – much cheaper

·         Wards and liveries, Court of Augmentation, Palatinate Courts

Cities and trades

Guild and Livery companies – Guild Halls – look at occupation if lived in town

Freemen Freemen of York

Mayorial Registers

York Excommunications

York Wills

Universities – own records – alumni lists


Lawyer archives



Early military ancestors – navy lists, particulars of account (archer lists) – good TNA search guide on early military resources



CofE research centre


There is a useful graphic produced by Family Search showing the various medieval sources and the periods they cover.



Way documents are written – National Archives lessons on palaeography

Documents rarely in English before late c14th – National Archives Latin for beginners or just Google!



Regnal Year – 9 Henry III, ninth year of Henry III’s reign = 1225

Gregorian Calendar – in 1752, went straight from 2 to 14 September 1752

Cheney’s Handbook of Dates can help



1538 to Date

Parish Registers – began 1538

Births, deaths and marriages

Census records

Image result for victorian spinster

Official Gazette - The London (and Edinburgh and Belfast) Gazette – free on line

International Genealogical Records (IGI)

Military Records




Early Man in NE Yorkshire 1930, F Elgee

History of the ancient parish of Lastingham – CD - Dedicated to the Parishioners of the Six Townships of Lastingham, Spaunton, Hutton-le-Hole, Appleton-le-Moors, Farndale East & Farndale West which formerly constituted the ancient parish of Lastingham, many of whom are the descendants of those mentioned in these pages

Kilton, a Survey of as Moorland Fringe Township, Robin Daniels in Medieval Rural Settlement in North East England, Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, Research Report No 2, edited by B E Vyner, Durham 1990

New Settlements in the North Yorkshire Moors, 1086 to 1340, Barry Harrison in Medieval Rural Settlement in North East England, Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, Research Report No 2, edited by B E Vyner, Durham 1990


Family Records

Nothing more valuable

Collect from relatives, agree a strategy to preserve

Very extensive …

Keeping records


Tape Recordings/video



Historical Novels can provide some gloss to context for rural communities at the relevant times. Help to build up the story with relevant extracts which are more descriptive of the times. They can help tell the story, to bring life to the underlying historical evidence.

Thomas Hardy

David Copperfield, Dickens

The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens

Middlemarch, 1869, George Elliot, set in a fictional English Midlands town in 1829 to 1832, distinct, intersecting stories with many characters. Topics include the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism, self-interest, religion, hypocrisy, political reform, and education, the 1832 Reform Act, early railways, and the accession of King William IV, medicine of the time and reactionary views in a settled community facing unwelcome change.

Lark Rise written in 1939, Over to Candleford in 1941 and Candleford Green in 1943, Flora Thompson, Descriptive of late c19th rural communities (Oxfordshire)

Cider with Rosie, 1959, Laurie Lee, a childhood in Gloucestershire in the period just after the First World War.



The Ryedale Historian

North Yorkshire County Record Office, Malpas Road, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL7 8TB (Tuesday to Friday, 9.30am - 4.30pm), 01609 777585

Borthwick Institute, University of York - 01904 321166


Genealogy resources

Find my Past (subscription)

Ancestry (subscription)

Find a grave


Yorkshire resources

Kirkleatham Museum

Museum of Yorkshire, York



Direct research

Churchyards (monumental records)

A sign in front of a tree

Description automatically generated





Compiling the website

Not genealogy programmes. Too restrictive.

MS Word.

Saved in word but as web page (html, not doc).

Separate page for every individual.



Build up Family Lines and trees.

Further pages to explain research and particular sources – places – topics like military, mining etc.

Web host and web name.

Post up and it works!

For project with scope to develop indefinitely – by far the best way.


Excel Chart

Not published, just research tool

Reference – FAR 00001 … (remember 000!)

Last Review Date



Geographical locations


Family Line

Directory Volume


Born, married died – dates

Mother’s surname

Wife’s surname – now going to belatedly add Christian names! – good to fit an individual to family if you find MSN – needed Christian names as eg media article for Mary Farndale could have been born Farndale or married into the Farndale family – so find all the Mary’s to work it out!

Where buried

Other categories

Significant emigration

Military service

Topics needing more work/resolution (notes)

Brilliant tool – find easily by searches or ordering. Newspaper article for instance I can generally find who it is in seconds.


Family Lines








Martin Farndale’s Introductory Remarks to the Directory which he started compiling in the 1990s and which has since been developed onine by Richard Farndale


1. This document has been produced by me as a result of work which started in 1956. It consists of a chronological list of all references to the Farndale family from all known sources. Each Farndale is given a serial number when his birth is recorded or calculated and entered at his/her place within his/her family. The same number is used to mark his own family and life in chronological order. Thus by tracing a person’s serial number to his family at the time of birth it is possible to pick up his father’s serial number and similarly trace him back to his family and so on. Daughter’s marriages are recorded, but not details of their families.

2. The Directory was built up from family knowledge, Parish Registers and Bishops Transcripts, Burial Registers, Monumental Records and other Parish and family documents. To these were added all entries in the General Record Office for Births, Deaths and Marriages. All Farndale entries in the International Genealogical Index and detail as a result of searches in the County Record Offices for North Yorkshire and Cleveland and at the Borthwick Institute at York. All Records of Wills and Administrations in the PRO and at York have been searched. In addition all medieval records, Patent, Pipe, Curia Regis Rolls, the Feet of Fines and manorial records and the hearth taxes have been searched. All military/medal records and where relevant overseas records, returns of votes, entries in directories and telephone directories, the documents at the PRO and Society of Genealogists in London and more recently all relevant entries on the Internet have also been searched. And there is still more to do.

3.    Abbreviations have been kept to a minimum, but the following have been used:


PR = Parish Registers

BT = Bishop’s Transcripts

IGI = International Genealogical Index

Mon R = Monumental Records
BR = Birth Records
DR = Death Records
MR = Marriage Records
BC = Birth Certificate

DC = Death Certificate
MC = Marriage Certificate


September 1998. Sir Martin Farndale KCB (Serial 00911).



To help you follow the directory:

All Farndales are recorded in date order of birth

Each Farndale is given a reference number

Reference is made under each record to parents’ reference numbers and children’s reference numbers. So although the Directory is not organised as a tree, you can follow family links through the directory.

I have further information available to the information currently available on line, but I am trying to upload most information over time.



Other sources

Tracing your Yorkshire Ancestors, Rachel Bellerby, 2006.