An Introduction to Farndale Family History











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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB



This page is an introduction to the history of the Farndale family. It should help you to understand the history of the family and its origins back to Saxon times and as a platform from which to explore the wider website, with a few suggestions and hyperlinks to link you to further exploration through the thousands of pages which now make up our more detailed history on this website.

As you read this page, you can explore more detail through the hyperlinks.

The Farndale Name

The Farndales descend from the folk who made up the engine room of British history. For the bulk of such families, it is generally very difficult to go back in time much beyond about 1500. However the Farndales are privileged to have a locative name, which is rooted to a place. What is more that place is a relatively small, rural valley in North Yorkshire, which provides a uniqueness which helps research of early medieval records. The name therefore provides a unique beacon which makes navigating the medieval sources much easier. This has made it possible to find significant records of individuals back to the thirteenth century.  We are extraordinarily privileged to be able to see back that far.

You will find a bit more information about names in family history which might help to understand why a locative name such as Farndale provides a special opportunity to see further back in time.

The locative nature of our surname also means that even before we can identify individual people who were or may have been our ancestors, we can explore the earlier history of the place itself. The place is an important part of our story. That means we can find a route even further back in time, to the earliest history of Farndale, a wild forested place, as it first emerged as a place known to local folk. So even beyond the identification of individual ancestors, we see back to the period shortly before the Norman Conquest, with some reasonably detailed optics to about the turn of the first millennium in 1000 CE.

If you are a Farndale, or descended from Farndales, then this introduction and the wider website provides your Tardis to travel back in time to meet and understand your earliest ancestors.


The Early History of Farndale the Place

There is a beautiful Saxon Church about a mile west of Kirkbymoorside, south of the North York Moors, which overlooks the Hodge Beck. Within the porch at the entrance door is housed a Yorkshire treasure. It is a Saxon sundial, and it bears the inscription “Orm the son of Gamel acquired St Gregory’s Church when it was completely ruined 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”. The inscription refers to Edward the Confessor and to Tostig, the son of Earl Godwin of Wessex and brother of Harold II, the last Anglo Saxon King of England. Tostig was the Earl of Northumbria between 1055 and 1065. It was therefore during that last peaceful decade, immediately before the Norman conquest, that Orm, son of Gamel rebuilt St Gregory’s Church.

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Orm was prominent in Northumbria in the middle years of the eleventh century. He married into the leading aristocratic clan of the region. His wife Aethelthryth was the daughter of Ealdred, Earl of Northumbria in the mid eleventh century. His brother in law was Siward, Earl of Northumbria until 1055, famous for his exploits against Macbeth, the King of Scots. Orm’s name suggests that he was of Scandinavian descent, but by his lifetime, he was very much a Christian, and a part of the Saxon world.

The Parish Church was a part of the wider estate, most likely handed out to Orm by King Cnut, then known as Chirchebi, but known to us today as Kirkbymoorside. Somewhere within that great estate lay the forested valley that would later become known as Farndale.

The Normans invaded England in 1066, and although the north was not immediately subdued under Norman rule, the harrying of the north meant that the location with which we are interested was under the Norman thumb by 1086, which was the date when the Domesday Book recorded the extent of Norman domination. The Domesday Book also evidences the administrative efficiency of the new overlords. A millennium later, that efficiency provides us with the tools with which to have eyes on the historical events of our very distant past. The Domesday Book recorded every important place in the country - what was there, who owned it prior to the conquest, and to whom it was transferred after the Conquest.

We therefore know from the Domesday Book, that Chirchebi was in the possession of Orm at the time of the Conquest and that it comprised ten villagers, one priest, two ploughlands, two lord’s plough teams, three men’s plough teams, a mill and a church.

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Presumably the villagers and the cultivated land were located together near the church, on the banks of the Hodge Beck. Before the Conquest, Orm seems to have held five carucates of land at Chirchebi. A carucate was a medieval land unit based on the land which eight oxen could till in a year. So presumably this area of land described the five carucates of cultivated land around Kirkdale. [I need to do a bit more work on Saxon Chirchebi to confirm this]. However this area of civilisation was part of a much wider estate of Chirchebi, which was said to be twelve leagues (about 42 miles) long by the time of the Normans. 

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So whilst there was a small community of folk living at Kirkdale, within this wider estate, the bulk of the estate was deep forest, stretching up through the dales towards the highlands of the North York Moors. This forest was probably largely impenetrable, and certainly not settled. It may have been used for hunting. Centuries before, the Venerable Bede had described this region as ‘vel bestiae commorari vel hommines bestialiter vivere conserverant’, ‘a land fit only for wild beasts, and men who live like wild beasts’.

Within this uninhabited woodland, there lay a forested valley, which was then unknown, but which was nestling quietly in those woods, the place which in time would become the cradle of the modern Farndale family. The land which was to become Farndale was little more than a possession, and a place which the owner himself did not likely know, and which after the Conquest, would continue to be possessed, transferred, perhaps sometimes hunted within, for another two centuries.

After the conquest, the estate of Chirchebi was forfeited to Hugh fitz Baldric (Hugh, the son of Baldric), a German archer who had served William the Conqueror and became the Sheriff of the County of York in 1069. Hugh died in 1086 and the estate passed to de Stuteville family, but they were deprived of it in 1106 when it was granted to Nigel d’Aubigny, one of Henry I’s “new men”. Nigel d’Aubigny then passed to his son, Roger de Mowbray, initially under the guardianship of Nigel’s widow, Gundreda.

The Mowbrays were significant benefactors of several religious institutions in Yorkshire. And so, in 1154, we are introduced to Farndale the place for the first time in the Chartulary of Rievaulx Abbey when Gundreda, on behalf of her guardian, gave land to the abbey.

“Gundreda, wife of Nigel de Albaneius, greetings to all the sons of St. Ecclesiff. Know that I have given and … confirmed, with the consent of my son, Eogeri de Moubrai, God and St. Marise Eievallis and the brothers there. . . for the soul of my husband Nigel de Albaneius, and for the safety of the soul of my son, Roger de Molbrai, and of his wife, and of their children, and for the soul of my father and mother, and of all my ancestors, whatever I had in my possession of cultivated land in Skipenum, and, where the cultivated land falls towards the north, whatever is in my fief and that of my son, Roger de Moubrai, in the forest and the plain, and the pastures and the wastins, according to the divisions between Wellebruna and Wimbeltun, and as divided from Wellebruna they tend to Thurkilesti, and so towards Cliveland, namely Locum and Locumeslehit, and Wibbehahge and Langeran, and Brannesdala, and Middelhoved, as they are divided between Wellebruna and Faddemor, and so towards Cliveland.”



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Roger of Molbrai, to all the faithful, both his own and strangers. Let it be known that I have granted . . to the Rievallis brothers, in perpetual alms, Midelhovet - scil. that meadow in Farnedale where Edmund the Hermit dwelt, and another meadow called Duvanesthuat, and the common pasture of the same valley - scil., Farnedale: and in the forest wood for material, and for the own uses of those who remained there, save the salvage. Witness Samson de Alb[aneia]; and Peter of Tresc; and Anschetillo Ostrario; and Walter Parar; and Eicardo de Sescal [or ? Desescal.]; and John the Scribe; and Walter de la Eiviere; [and] Eiinaldo le Poer.


And so, as we first lay our historical goggles onto Farndale the place in 1154, we appear to enter a Lord of the Rings World, with a dash of Game of Thrones. The House Mowbray (a competitor to the House Stuteville) has given to the monks, who live in their exquisite Elven home at Rievaulx, a place called Midelhovet, where Edmund the Hermit used to dwell, and another called Duvanesthuat, together with the common pasture within the valley of Farndale.


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Rievaulx, in its Elven valley, taken by the website author in 2016

Midelhovet is almost certainly the area in Farndale known today as Middle Head and Duvanesthuat is probably the place where the Duffin Stone lies today.

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The northwestern end of Farndale showing Middle Head and the Duffin Stone.                The area of Middle Head in 2021


We are also introduced to the first individual who roamed the lands of Farndale, who used to live at Midelhovet some years prior to 1154. Edmund the hermit of Farndale was a legendary figure who lived in a cave in the North York Moors in the 12th century. He was said to be a holy man who performed miracles and healed the sick. He was also reputed to have been a descendant of King Alfred the Great and a cousin of King Stephen. I don’t suppose he was our ancestor, since he was a hermit, but this is our first introduction to a character roaming the place.

So by this time, the dale had become known as Farndale.

The name Farndale seems to come from the Celtic ‘farn, or fearn’ meaning ‘fern’ and the Norwegian ‘dalr’, meaning ‘dale;’ and so was the ‘dale where the ferns grew.’ There are historical accounts which have suggested that the first people to settle in Farndale were bands of mixed Celtic and Scandinavian stock and that it was they who began to clear areas in which to build and grow crops. I still need to review the historical evidence to see if there is evidence of such. We have no records of them until the 13th Century. Until I see evidence otherwise, I think that Farndale was likely uninhabited forest until the twelfth century, but this needs more work to check the archaeological record of Farndale.

Of course whilst Farndale is today dominated by moorland bracken and ferns, ferns are naturally a woodland plant, so it must have been the ferns of the forested Farndale which gave rise to its name. Perhaps it was Edmund who must have known the valley intricately, who first chose its name.

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The House Mowbray supported the wrong side in a revolt against Henry II and the estate of Kirkbymoorside was ceded back to the House of the de Stutevilles. Robert III de Stuteville was one of the northern barons who had commanded his forces the English at the Battle of the Standard at Northallerton on 22 August 1138. He claimed the barony, which had been forfeited by his grandfather, from Roger de Mowbray, who by way of compromise gave him Kirkbymoorside.

The Stutevilles favoured the Benedictine monks of Saint Mary's Abbey, York, and their own small House of nuns founded by them at Keldholme, just to the east of Kirkbymoorside. Rievaulx Abbey therefore went out of favour in its claim to Farndale. In about 1166 Robert de Stuteville granted to Keldholme Priory the timber and wood in Farndale. Farndale itself then disappeared from the records for about a century, though we can still follow the fortunes of the Stuteville family and of the estate of Kirkbymoorside. In 1216, Joan de Stuteville, the daughter of Nicholas II de Stuteville and Devorguilla of Galloway and the heiress of the Stuteville estates was born. She married Hugh Wake, feudal lord of Bourne and later Hugh Bigod, Chief Justice of England, but as a widow was known as Joan de Stuteville, the ‘Lady of Liddell’. Before her death in 1276, she enfeoffed the manor of Kirkbymoorside to her son, Baldwin Wake.

It is during the time of Joan de Stutevilles, that we meet the first settled inhabitants of Farndale. Under the next chapter heading below, we will take up that story. But before we do so, we should just complete our history of the de Stutevilles who were the overlords of the Kirkbymoorside estate and therefore of the lands of Farndale during the following centuries, as our ancestors started to work on the land there.

The custody of Baldwin Wake was granted to Henry de Percy, who transferred it to the Society of the Ballardi of Lucca. However this was not ratified by the King, but later ‘not recollecting the confirmation of the grant’, he ‘caused the manor, then in the hands of the merchants, to be taken into his hands, and he delivered it with fees &c, who since he has held the said manor has received £340 out of the issues thereof, for which Henry de Percy has made supplication to the King to caused satisfaction to be made to the merchants for his exoneration.”

Thomas Wake remained in possession of the lands until he died in 1349. His heir was his sister Margaret, wife of Edmund Earl of Kent, whose son John succeeded her. John died three years later, however without issue, and his sister Joan, ‘the Fair Maid of Kent’, became the heir.  The impression of the Fair Maid of Kent’s seal depicted a lady riding on horseback sideways, which is a horse riding style which she is said to have been the first to adopt. Her first husband was Thomas Holand, created Earl of Kent in 1360, by whom he had a son and heir Thomas Holand. Later Joan married Edward the Black Prince, with whom in 1365 she settled this manor on Thomas and Alice his wife and their heirs, with reversion to the prince and herself. In 1397 Thomas Earl of Kent died and Alice was left in possession for life. Of her sons, Thomas the Elder was beheaded as a traitor in 1399 and his brother Edmund died before his mother in 1408, when the earldom of Kent fell into abeyance.


The First Farndales

The word ‘assart’, from the French word essarter means to remove or grub out woodland. It refers to the clearing of forested lands for use in agriculture. In the Middle Ages, land was sometimes cleared as common land, or for the benefit of the feudal overlord to improve his holding, or for monastic communities, particularly the Cistercians. We might suppose that the work was done by the villeins, the serfs or ‘peasants’, who were put onto the land to work it although it is difficult to imagine how men of villain status, compelled to pay rents of 1s 0d per acre for tiny holdings of marginal land, could also have managed to undertake their own assarting. Perhaps the land had already been reclaimed in advance of letting by the Lord’s agents. Assarting was described by the landscape historian Richard Muir as typically being "like bites from an apple" as it was usually done on a small scale though large areas were sometimes cleared. The evidence of standard rents being applied in Farndale by 1276 suggest a single campaign on a large scale rather than piece meal assarting. Field names in Britain which originate in assarting include such names as 'Stocks'; 'Stubbings'; 'Stubs'; 'Assart'; 'Sart'; 'Ridding'; 'Royd'; 'Brake'; 'Breach'; or 'Hay'.


Only a few years after the death of Joan de Stuteville, the Lady of Liddell, the Inquisition Post Mortem taken after Joan’s death in 1276, reveals assarting on a grand scale. In Farndale, bonded tenants were paying a standard rent of 1s 0d for each acre. This produced total income of £27 5s 0d, suggesting a cultivated acreage in Farndale of 545 acres. So this provides us with a snapshot to suppose that assarting must have started from about 1230, when individuals were placed from the surrounding lands into Farndale to clear land for agriculture and then to toil for their feudal overlords, paying them rents to provide the landlords with an income from the land, in return for bond holdings from which to scrape their own meagre living.


The Inquisition Post Mortem of Joan’s Son, Baldwin Wake, taken only six years later in 1282, noted that the bonded villeins were said to hold their land ‘not by the bovate of land, but by more or less’ (a bovate is an eighth of a carucate). The 1282 extent shows a considerable increase over that of 1276, but this probably means nothing more than that a new and up-to-date survey was used as the basis for the later document. The Farndale rents now amounted £38 8s 8d together with a nut rent and a few boon works and if the rate of 1s 0d per acre still applied, this would give a total acreage held in bondage of 768 acres. In neighbouring Bransdale rents were up to £4 14s 3d which would relate to about 188 acres at the old rent of 6d per acre for that valley. For the first time the number of bondmen were given - 25 in East Bransdale and 90 in Farndale.


The lay subsidy assessments of 1301 afforded a brief glimpse of the settlement pattern, listing several contributors bearing the names of the farms which are still to be found at Farndale such as ‘Wakelevedy’ (Wake Lady Green), ‘Westgille’ (West Gill), Monkegate (Monket House) and ‘Elleshaye (Eller House) and which are scattered all around the dale.

So between about 1230 and the end of the thirteenth century, we have a picture of villeins or serfs or peasants, who together formed the body of folk who must have been our ancestors, toiling the soil in a dreadful battle of survival.

We might I suppose imagine that those individuals in turn were plucked from the cauldron or primeval sludge of Bronze Age Beaker Folk, Iron Age Settlers, Brigantes, Romans, Vikings, Angles and Saxons that had roamed the moors and Dales of Yorkshire since about 9,000 years BCE.


The Early Farndale Pioneers

Imagine a group of folk, all called William or Philip, Robert or Peter, who meet at the start of a day’s work one day in Farndale. To distinguish themselves, the Williams might call each other by their jobs (William the Smith, or William the Shepherd), by their father’s name (as Orm Gamalson, son of Gamal did), or by some other description. They would not have called themselves by place, or at least by the place where they all lived, being Farndale, for that would not distinguish them at all.

But suppose another William leaves Farndale and travels to the Wapentake of Langbaugh. He might well call himself William of Farndale which would distinguish him from other Williams. And so the folk who stayed in Farndale, were more likely to adopt descriptive, patronymic or occupational names, or defined by the location of places outside Farndale from whence they had come previously as can be seen in the list of names in the 1301 record. But when De Willemo de Farndale appeared in the same 1301 Subsidy in the Wapentake of Langbaugh, he was the one to call himself William of Farndale.

So those who first described themselves as de Farndale, were those adventurous and pioneering soles, who ventured out to new places. As we are introduced to our later pioneer ancestors, we might reflect that we come from a stock of pioneers and adventurers.

Ordinary folk were starting to use such descriptions beyond Christian names by the early thirteenth century. However these names tended to fluctuate until about the fourteenth century. If William of Farndale moved from Langbaugh to York, he might have started to call himself William of Langbaugh. However by the fourteenth century, such names became fixed, and started to be passed down as hereditary names. We can actually see this happening in the Farndale history. From about 1310, we see the ‘de’, ‘of’ being dropped. This tends to suggest folk no longer defining themselves as ‘of’ a place, but using a name, with more permanency. So we see the first example of William Farndale (FAR00034) born in about 1310, and then William Farndale of Sheyrefhoton (Sheriff Hutton)(FAR00036), born about 1332. He is not William of Sheriff Hutton, but William Farndale, who lives in Sheriff Hutton. 

The records of the first individuals using the Farndale name tended to record the payment of taxes, surveys of the inhabitants of the land, and illegal activity.

To accompany this introduction you will find a timeline of Farndale history from 1000 to 1600, which provides a summary of the history to this stage, and which draws out the individual characters who appear from this point. The colour coding interlinks the history of individual Farndales, with the history of the feudal overlords who held the land, with the Kings and Queens at the pinnacle of the hierarchy, and with the dominant events at the national level of British history. 

So it is, that we learn much from the records about a significant number of our ancestors who were fined, outlawed and even excommunicated, for poaching and illegally hunting, particularly within the Royal Forest of Pickering. There is a historical documentary series on Sky television, called The Britains, and I would steer you particularly to episode 2, which depicts much of the historic background to the events described so far. It also depicts two outlaws pursued in Pickering Forest called Philips, but who may as well have been Farndales. The documentary observes that it was such folk who would inspire the legend of Robin Hood, and whose archery skills would one day comprise the successful armies who fought at Crecy and Agincourt. Park this thought about the links to the legend of Robin Hood, because we shall find ourselves in the heart of Robin Hood territory before too long.

So whether you perceive these folk as petty criminals or heroic ‘merry men’, you will find plenty of such characters including:

·         Farndales indicted for poaching in 1280 (FAR00019) Roger, son of Gilbert of Farndale, Nicholas de Farndale, William the smith of Farndale, John the shepherd of Farndale, and Alan the son of Nicholas de Farndale;

·         Peter de Farndale (FAR00008), whose son Robert (FAR00012) was fined at Pickering Castle in 1293.

·         Robert son of Peter de Farndale, (FAR00012)(The Farndale 2 Line) was outlawed for hunting in 1293.

·         Roger milne (miller) of Farndale (FAR000013A), son of Peter (FAR00008) of Spaunton on Monday in January 1293, killed a soar and slew a hart with bows and arrows at some unknown place in the forest. He with others were outlawed on 5 April 1293.

·         Richard de Farndale (FAR00016) was excommunicated for stealing in 1316.

·         Robert of Farndale (FAR00024) was fined at Pickering Castle for poaching in 1322.

·         John de Farndale (FAR00026) was released from excommunication at Pickering Castle on 9 Apr 1324.

·         Simon de Farndale (FAR00021) (The Farndale 4 Line), shoes son Robert was fined at Pickering Castle in 1332.

·         Robert of Farndale (FAR00031) was outlawed with others for hunting a hart in the forest in 1332.

·         Nicholas de Farndale (FAR00022)(The Farndale 3 Line) gave bail for Roger son of Gilbert of Farndale who had been caught poaching in 1334 and 1335.

·         William, smith of Farndale (FAR00037) on Monday 2 December 1336, came hunting in Lefebow with bow and arrows and gazehounds………’

·         Gilbert de Farndale (FAR00018) bailed by Nicholas Farndale (FAR00022) for poaching in 1344 and 1345.

·         Commission of oyer and terminer on 17 January 1348 to a long list of names including William Smyth of Farndale (FAR00040) the younger and Richard Ruttok of Farendale for breaking in to the park at Egton, hunting and carrying away the property of the owner with deer, and for assaulting the owner’s men and servants causing their inability to work for a long time, for which they were fined 1 mark.

A historical explanation for this activity might have been the Great Famine following bad weather and poor harvests in 1315 which gave rise to widespread unrest, crime and infanticide; followed by the Black Death which hit Yorkshire in March 1349.

As individuals who started to use the name Farndale, started to appear outside the dale, it becomes obvious from the records that there are some geographical groupings of Farndales in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries around Sheriff Hutton (of which family have been preserved two wills from two generations) , York (which family bore three generations of freemen of York) and then Doncaster. Perhaps there is some interrelationship between these three families. Perhaps those who settled in Doncaster by 1335 were somehow linked to the York family.

I recently drove south from the North York Moors to the York ring road and on to Doncaster. The land is flat and richly agricultural, albeit with rivers and floodplains. York was Eboracum, the Roman capital of northern England (and Jorvik the Viking capital thereafter), so even after Roman decline, a natural focal point. Similarly Doncaster was previously the Roman city of Danum, at the crossing on the Rover Don. So it’s not surprising the find the Farndales of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries drawn in that direction. Although our history from 1500 will be firmly rooted in Cleveland, to the north of the moors, at this stage there is no evidence at all of any of our ancestors anywhere but the southern region.

So let’s take stock:

·         Farndale as a place was a remote forested valley, possibly unknown until it became the dwelling place of a hermit called Edmund in the mid twelfth century. Even at that time, it was the mystic location of Midelhovet and Duvanesthuat, and the Elven monks of Rievaulx, and the play piece of the Houses Mowbray and Stuteville.

·         From about 1230, the land was cultivated and our villain forefathers no doubt lived a pitiful life, surviving each day as they could.

·         By 1276, there was a more developed community of folk who were farming in Farndale, and we start to be introduced to individuals.

·         From 1280, we start to see records of poachers and huntsmen who were fined, outlawed, or even excommunicated in the imposing Norman Pickering Castle.

·         The country faced the hardships of the Great Famine of 1315 and the Black Death from 1349 in Yorkshire, though in time, with a decimated population, that would provide greater power to the peasantry, to negotiate a better deal for themselves.

·         By the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the inhabitants of Farndale who had started to use its name to define themselves had moved south and had clustered around Sheriff Hutton, York and Doncaster.


The Doncaster Age

Modern Doncaster is strongly characterised by its industrial past. However the Doncaster to which we now turn our attention was a very different place. It was the place of a significant Roman Fort. After the Norman Conquest, Nigel Fossard had built a Norman Castle. By the thirteenth century, Doncaster was a busy town. In 1194 Richard I had given the town recognition by bestowing a town charter. There was a disastrous fire in 1204 (fires seem to feature heavily in Doncaster’s history) from which the town slowly recovered.

In 1248, a charter was granted for Doncaster Market to be held in the area surrounding the Church of St Mary Magdalene, which had been built in Norman times. But over time the parish church was transferred to the church of the old Norman castle, the castle which by then was in ruin. The new parish church was the original Church of St George. During the 14th century, large numbers of friars arrived in Doncaster who were known for their religious enthusiasm and preaching. In 1307 the Franciscan friars (Greyfriars) arrived, as did Carmelites (Whitefriars) in the mid-14th century. Other major medieval features included the Hospital of St Nicholas and the leper colony of the Hospital of St James, a moot hall, a grammar school and a five-arched stone town bridge with a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Bridge.

It is in this setting that we meet William Farndale. We first see his name in a grant of land in Latin by Walter de Thornton, the vicar of Doncaster, and Wm de Farndell, his chaplain on 11 April 1355. Perhaps William may have been about twenty then, so perhaps he was born in about 1335. The Black Death had ravaged Doncaster from about 1349, and its population had been reduced to about 1,500. So William must have survived the Black Death. Perhaps he was already a chaplain then, experiencing the horrors with pastoral responsibilities. Or perhaps it was his survival of those horrors that was his path to the church.

It is possible (but there is no evidence of this) that William Farndale might have been the son of Walter de Farndale (about 1300 to 1370), who was a vicar at Haltwhistle, Lazonby, Illis- haghe hospital, Upmeadon, and Chemlsford and that his grandfather might have been Walter de Farndale of Cayton (about 1275 to 1328), for whose death in 1328 Hugh de Faulkes of Lebreston was required to join an expedition against the Scots in exchange for his pardon. There is no evidence of this, but the ecclesiastical links makes it a possibility. Perhaps this was a family whose links with the church provided opportunities to venture more widely.

We then spot William of Doncaster again in the patent rolls of 1358:

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On 7 December 1368, Robert Ripers transferred five acres of land at Lovershall (just south of Doncaster) to Sir William Farndale, still chaplain. The term ‘sire’ was used as an address to religious men such as priests, it does not denote a knight. ‘Know men present and to come that I Robert Ripers of Loversall have given, granted, and by this my present charter confirmed to Sir William Farndale, chaplain, 5 acres of land with appurtenances lying in the fields of Loversall, extending from the meadows of the Wyke to the Kardyke, of which 1 acre 1 rood lie in Wykefield between the land of Robert son of John son of William, son of Robert on both sides. And 2 1/2 acres lying in the Midelfild between my own land on the west and the land of Richard son of Robert on the east. And 1 rood lying in Wodfild between my own land on the west and the land of John of Wakefield on the east. To have and to hold the said 5 acres of land with appurtenances to the said William and his heirs and assigns, freely, quietly, well and in peace, from the chief lords of the free by the services then owed and customary by right. And I, said Robert, and my heirs, will warrant the said 5 acres with appurtenances to the said Sir William, his heirs and assigns against all men for ever. In witness whereof I have affixed my seal to this present charter. These being in witness; Sir John of Loversall, Chaplain; William Vely, Robert Clerk, Richard Rilis, John son of William son of Roger and others. Given at Loversall on Thursday after the Feast of St Nicholas, 42 Edward III. (7 Dec 1368).’

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Sir William Farndale then became the Vicar of Doncaster from 8 January 1397 (aged about 61) to 31 August 1403 (aged about 68) when he resigned.

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                                                                                                                               A drawing of the early church in about 1300 from the History of St George’s Church, Doncaster, Destroyed by Fire, February 28, 1853, by the Rev J E Jackson.

So William was the vicar of the impressive early Church of St George’s at the end of the fourteenth century. Whilst not yet of the stature of the impressive Doncaster Minster of St George’s, which was rebuilt on the site after a fire destroyed the early church in 1853 and which was given Minster status in 2004, it was even by then an impressive church.

William transferred his land at Lovershall to John Burton in 1402; “‘Know men present and to come that I, William Farndalle, Vicar of the Church of Doncastre, have given, granted and by this present charter confirmed to John Burton of Waddeworth, his heirs and assigns 5 acres of land with appurtenances lying in the fields of Loversall. Viz, those 5 acres of land which I had as gift and feoffment of Robert Ryppes of Loversalle and which extend from the meadows of the Wyke to the Kardyke as the charter drawn up for me by Robert Ryppes more fully sets out. To have and to hold the said 5 acres of land with appurtenances to the said John Burton, his heirs and assigns from the chief of the lords of the fee by the services thence owed and customary by right. And I William Farndalle and my heirs will warrant the said 5 acres of land with appurtenances to the said John Burton, his heirs and assigns against all men for ever. In witness whereof I have affixed my seal to this present charter. These being witnesses; John Yorke of Loversalle, Robert Oxenford of Loversalle, William Ryppes of the same, John Millotte of the same, William Clerk of the same and many others. Given at Loversalle 6 April 3 Henry IV. (6 April 1402).”

In 1403 we see the installation of William Couper as the vicar of Doncaster, on William Farndale’s resignation.

The record then goes silent, albeit I do intend to do some detailed work in the Doncaster record. So we don’t know if William Farndale married or if he had children.

However our radar warms up again on 29 October 1564 when a wedding took place between a William Farndell and a Margaret Atkinson in the Church of St Magdalene in the village of Campsall, which is only a few miles north of Doncaster.

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So on a balance of probabilities, it seems more likely than not that William Farndell who married in 1564 came from the same line of Farndales as William Farndale, the vicar of Doncaster. There must have been a generation or two between them. It is possible that William the Younger was descended from a brother of William the Elder, or perhaps he was a direct descendant.

Now this is where we remind ourselves of our more distant ancestors who were outlaws in Pickering Forest, reminiscent at least of the ‘merry men’ of Robin Hood. Now it is to be observed that Campsall is a town which was then dominated to the west by the inaccessible and waterlogged marches of the Humber levels and to the west, by Barnsdale Forest, an area (together with Sherwood) closely associated with the legend of Robin Hood. Robin Hood is largely a creature of ballads composed in the fourteenth century (at the time of William Farndale, the vicar). He is reputed to have operated in the twelfth century. A map showing the geographical locations associated with Robin Hood reveals that Campsall is in its heart:

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Indeed a fifteenth century ballad A Gest of Robyn Hode suggests that Robin Hood built a chapel in Barnsdale that he dedicated to Mary Magdalene - ‘I made a chapel in Bernysdale, That seemly is to se, It is of Mary Magdaleyne, And thereto wolde I be’ and it has been suggested that this was their wedding place. Given the location of the Church of St Mary Magdalene at Campsall, it has been strongly suggested that this is the church of Robin Hood repute, and it was here in 1538, that William Farndell married Mary Atkinson.

If Robin Hood was a legend, might it not be that the fourteenth century ballads which told of his exploits in the twelfth and thirteenth century days of Richard I and King John, might have been strongly influenced by the tales of our own Farndale ancestors in the forest of Pickering, outmanoeuvring the sheriffs of Yorkshire? There have been many suggestions that the legend of Robin Hood may have its real roots in Yorkshire.

Whilst the records have not allowed me to put beyond doubt a link between the Doncaster Farndales, and the family who lived predominantly in Cleveland, to the north of the North York Moors, who are the undoubted ancestors of modern Farndales, the evidence strongly points to that being so. If it is, then this provides modern Farndales with a direct ancestral linkage to Sir William Farndale, Vicar of Doncaster, and thence to the Farndales of Sheriff Hutton and York and the emigrants from Farndale the place, who we have already met.


Arrival in Cleveland

Parish records began to be kept, by the orders of Thomas Cromwell, in 1538. From that date, we benefit from records which allow us to follow family relationships with certainty. And so it is that we are able to identify with certainty that Nicholas farndaile was buried in the parish of Kirkleatham, in Cleveland, five miles to the west of Skelton on 6 August 1572.

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That is all that we know about Nicholas. Martin Farndale assessed a possible birth date of 1512, assuming that he might have lived for 60 years. That is not a known fact. I know that many Farndale family trees on Ancestry and Find My Past have used this now long established estimate as the basis for Nicholas’ dates 1512-1572. That may well be right, but he may have been born at some other time.

We also know that an Agnes Farndale was buried at Kirkleatham on 23 January 1586. That is all that we know about Agnes. It has therefore been assumed that Agnes was Nicholas’ wife. Perhaps they married in about 1537. These are carefully considered guesses, and on a balance of probabilities, they are likely to be about right.

Nicholas and Agnes may well be the paternal and maternal grandparents of all modern Farndales.

We also know that a Jean Farndale married Richard Fairley, a relatively pedigreed fellow, in Kirkleatham on 16 October 1567. It seems probable that Jean was the daughter of Nicholas and Agnes.

And then there was a William Farndale who died on 24 January 1606 and was buried the next day at St John the Baptist Church in Skelton, five miles east of Kirkleatham. Because there are not many Farndale candidates about at that time, it seems pretty likely that William was the son of Nicholas and Agnes. Since we have already identified that a William Farndale married Margaret Atkinson in Campsall, near Doncaster in 1564, we have concluded that this is the same person. Of course we can’t be sure about that. However it helps us to make sense of the records. It seems quite likely.

We don’t find any evidence of Farndales in Cleveland before 1572. After 1572, we find almost all Farndales, and all Farndales who are ancestors of the Kilton lines from which I and most others descend, in Cleveland. So we have to explain how the Farndales who had become concentrated solely south of the North York Moors before 1572, came to move into Cleveland, such that they were predominantly clustered north of the North York Moors after 1572.

On a balance of probabilities, whilst acknowledging the difficulty in putting this beyond doubt, we might surmise that:

·         Nicholas and Agnes Farndale, who both died in Kirkleatham, were born in Campsall or thereabouts, around Doncaster, perhaps in about 1512 and 1516 respectively. If so, they were likely descended from William Farndale, the Vicar of Doncaster, or at least from his wider family (his brother perhaps).

·         William Farndale junior was born in say 1538, and Jean Farndale in say 1540 to Nicholas and Agnes.

·         William Farndale married Mary Atkinson at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Campsall in 1564.

·         Between 1564 and 1567, the family moved to Kirkleatham. We don’t know why. Maybe that was Agnes’ ancestral home. Perhaps more likely Jean had met Richard Fairly, a relatively well established fellow, whose family were Scottish, but who had more recently become associated with Cleveland and Kirkleatham. Perhaps the family saw opportunities by a move north.

·         On 16 October 1567, Jean married Richard Fairley in Kirkleatham.

·         The family lived generally at Kirkleatham until Nicholas and Anne’s death in 1572 and 1586, though William had by then realigned slightly eastward, to Skelton.

So this allows us to draw up a family tree for the Doncaster-Kirkleatham-Skelton Line of Farndales.

George Farndale was the second sibling of four, and in all probability was the son of William and Mary. George is the first of our direct ancestors, about whose life we can confidently record. He seems to have moved to Moorsholm, about three miles from Skelton, by 1592. He married Margery Nelson in 1595. They had five children, one of whom was another George Farndaile, born in 1602. George had four children, and the second was Nicholas Farndale. Nicholas was baptised on 6 July 1634 and married Elizabeth in about 1660, with whom he had four children. He paid a hearth tax for one hearth at Liverton in the 1660s to 1680s. Elizabeth died in 1670 and Nicholas remarried an Elizabeth Bennison on 23 November 1676. Nicholas died in 1694. Nicholas Farndale is the founder of the line we have called the Liverton 2 Line.

It is from this point that the Lines which lead to modern Farndales, start to diverge,

From Nicholas’ first marriage was born the ancestor of some other lines of modern Farndales, George Farndale, whose son William Farndale was founder of the Kilton 2 Line.

From Nicholas’ second marriage was born my own ancestor, John Farndale, and founder of the Kilton 1 Line.


Common history of all modern Farndales

Modern Farndales are descendants of the Kilton 1 Line, the Kilton 2 Line, the Ampleforth Line and a group of the Whitby Farndales. Subject to some comments about the Ampleforth and Whitby families, that means that all those whose name is Farndales, or who descend from Farndales, share the history I have recorded so far, and can:

1.    trace their direct ancestry back to Kirkleatham and the early sixteenth century;

2.    almost certainly trace their ancestry back directly to Doncaster and the early fourteenth century;

3.    trace their indirect ancestry back to the villeins of Farndale in the early fourteenth century and those who emigrated out from Farndale;

4.    imagine their further ancestors swirling within the primeval swamp of Bronze Age Beaker Folk, Iron Age Settlers, Brigantes, Romans, Vikings, Angles and Saxons that had roamed the moors and Dales of Yorkshire since about 9,000 years BCE; and

5.    identify their geographic routes in the Saxon lands of Chirchebi that would become Kirkbymoorside and the valley called Farndale where Edmund the Hermit roamed when those lands first became visible in 1154.


The branching of Lines

From the early seventeenth century, the family started to diverge. Between the mid sixteenth century and the early eighteenth century, I have only found Farndales north of the North York moors in Cleveland. For that reason, I think it likely that the perhaps single family (the Doncaster-Kirkleatham-Skelton Line) who we have seen moved into Cleveland in the mid sixteenth century, were the ancestors to all the family lines who started to diverge to Whitby and around Cleveland from the early seventeenth century and then some back south of the North York Moors around Ampleforth in the early eighteen century.

Broadly, the family started to diverge along four main branch lines, which in time would further diverge into smaller family lines:

·         A family emerged in Whitby, and engaged in the maritime life of the port. We can call the larger family the W1 Family, who diverged into the Whitby 1 Line, the Whitby 2 Line and the Whitby 4 Line.

·         A family settled in the village of Kilton and later diverged across Cleveland, Stockton, Northumberland, and to Wales and Surrey and to California. We can call the larger family the K2 family.

·         Another family settled in the village of Kilton and later diverged into the biggest group. This family would expand across Cleveland, Great Ayton, Whitby, Bishop Auckland, Richmond, Thirsk, Tidkinhow on the moors, Wensleydale and to London, Wales, Bradford, Wakefield, Holderness, Jarrow, and to Ontario, Newfoundland and Alberta in Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. We can call the larger family the K1 family.

·         A family emerged around Coxwold and Ampleforth in the early eighteenth century and later diverged to the wider area around York, including Malton and Huttons Ambo, and to Thornaby, Stockton, Bradford, Leeds, Cheshire, Norwich, and to USA and New Zealand. The hub of this family is the Ampleforth 1 Line. We can call the larger family the A1 family.

The divergence of these families can be seen in the second family Timeline, and the different main families can be differentiated by the tags A1, K1, K2, and W1.

The divergence of the whole family can be seen in 88 family lines into which this genealogy has divided the wider family The family lines can be navigated like an underground railway map and you can change lines to trace your own history or that of a particular family. There is an interface chart which acts like a general underground map.

Martin Farndale had originally ordered the family in a chronological list by date of birth, which he called the Farndale Directory. This directory also provides a means to navigate the family, particularly if you want to start by finding an individual (or maybe yourself), from which to explore the ancestry. As a rule the research only provides the most basic information about living Farndales; generally year of birth and link to direct ancestors, so that there is enough to link in to and explore the historical ancestry. The website is intended only to provide a ‘way in’ for living Farndales to the historical research. The detail starts with our forebears, no longer with us.

Each individual member of the family has his or her own webpage. As well as a historical record, this also provides a remembrance for each member of our family beyond a stone monument. The research tries to tell as full a story as is possible of every Farndale.

So from this point, the Farndale family remains related, but the family’s stories diverge. Yet we are all very likely the ancestral descendants of Nicholas and Agnes, and perhaps of William, the vicar of Doncaster. So the historical record which now follows tells the extraordinary story of multiple adventures and achievements of a significant body of folk who followed their own distinct paths. Wouldn’t Nicholas and Agnes (and perhaps Sir William of Doncaster) be proud, if only we could share these following stories with them?

From this point the second Farndale Timeline for the modern period from 1600 to the present day, accompanies this introduction.


The Whitby Farndales

On 19 November 1661, John Farndale of Whitby married Alice Peckock at Whitby Parish Church. Whilst I have not traced his parents, it seems very probable that he descended from the Farndales of Cleveland who we have already met, and that this was a family who moved naturally from the Cleveland countryside to the port town of Whitby. So it is very likely that this Whitby family were descended from the Cleveland Farndales who we have already met.

John and Alice are the Founders of the Whitby 1 Line, from which the Whitby 2 Line and the Whitby 4 Line descend.



The Whitby 1 Line

1636 to 1832

Whitby and around










The Whitby 2 Line

1711 to 1827

Whitby and around




The Whitby 4 Line

1773 to 1938

Whitby and around

Those Farndales who are descendants of the Whitby 1, 2 and 4 Lines, can be identified in the timeline by the annotation W1. This maritime family included:

·         Giles Farndale (W1), the Whitby 1 Line was press ganged into the navy in Whitby, at the age of 27 and died at sea on board HMS Experiment in the Caribbean having almost certainly fought in the Battle for Cartagena de Indias, during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.


·         John Farndale, (W1), founder of the Whitby 2 Line was a seaman named in a list of 42 of the crew of The Friendship of Whitby when James Cook was Mate (later the famous Captain Cook).


·         John Christopher Farndale the Elder, (W1), the Whitby 4 Line was Master Mariner of Cragg, Whitby about whom we have extensive records of his mercantile adventures, who died aged only 37.


·         Robert Farndale, (W1), the Whitby 2 Line was buried at St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Whitby, the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, along with several Whitby Farndales.


·         John Christopher Farndale the Younger, (W1), the Whitby 4 Line, later a ship’s captain who was charged for absence as an apprentice, was later involved in many maritime mercantile adventures, but was lost at sea in the Bay of Biscay in 1868.


·         William Farndale (W1), the Whitby 4 Line was a Master Mariner like his father and brother with extensive records of his commercial maritime journeys as Captain of various ships including the William and Nancy.


·         This was a family of mariners at the heart of the maritime coal industry in the mid Victorian era. The second generation ventured widely around the North Sea (often called the German sea at the time) and the Baltic and further south.


·         John Thomas Farndale, (W1), the Whitby 4 Line was manager of the Thirsk Branch of the York Union Bank and a free mason. He was a member of the naturalists society of Thirsk. He was involved with the Church. He was involved in the cycling club. He was a member of the Thirsk chess club. He was involved with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He was involved with a historic pageant and play.  He continued to take an interest in Whitby, where he exported his pageant ideas to. He was a member of the National Service League (campaigning by 1911 to introduce compulsory military training).


The Ampleforth Farndales

Elias Farndale was born, perhaps around Thirsk, in or about 1733. He married Elizabeth Raper at Thirsk on 28 February 1753. He is Founder of the Ampleforth 1 Line. Because I have not yet been able to identify his parents, I cannot directly link him, and his descendants into the wider family. It is possible he was not related to the Farndales who arrived in Cleveland by about 1567. However the fact that I have only found evidence of Farndales in the immediate centuries after 1567 in Cleveland, means that I think it is highly probable that Elias (and therefore his descendants) are somehow linked to the families in Cleveland who we know about in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In other words Elias is probably descended from the known family above, but we have just not yet managed to prove that or establish exactly how he links in. There is a ‘missing link’ here, but it is still probable that he is part of the same family we have met above.

So, Elias is the Founder of the Ampleforth 1 Line which branches into a significant part of the modern Farndale family (the lines with ** are contemporary lines which still have family members alive today):




The Ampleforth 1 Line **

1728 to Date

Ampleforth and more widely







The Bishop Wilton Line **

1788 to Date

Bishop Wilton and more widely





The Leeds 1 Line **

1826 to Date

Leeds and around



The Stockton 3 Line

1849 to 1993

Stockton and more widely

The Australian 2 Line **

1927 to Date

South Australia, Northern Territory

The Thornaby Line

1936 to Date

Thornaby and more widely

The Wetherby 1 Line

1875 to 1948

Wetherby, York, Northallerton

The Bradford 2 Line **

1910 to Date

Bradford and around


The Norwich Line

1870 to 1933

Norwich and area, and New Zealand

The New Zealand 2 Line **

1911 to Date

New Zealand

The Uxbridge Line

1912 to 1945

Uxbridge and area

Those Farndales who are descendants of the Ampleforth 1 Line can be identified in the timeline by the annotation A1. This family included:

·         William Farndale (A1), the Ampleforth 1 Line the sub post master at Huttons Ambo, near Malton, saved a child from drowning in the river at Huttons Ambo.


·         Herbert Arthur Farndale (A1), the Norwich Line was a mustard packer in Norwich.


·         Private William Farndale (A1), the Ampleforth 1 Line who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and later the Lancashire Volunteers. Later, he was an agent for Prudential Assurance by 1939. 


·         Private James Farndale, (A1), the Ampleforth 1 Line who joined the 1st Devonshire Regiment and later the Wiltshire Regiment in 1914. He served in Egypt in 1915. Reminiscent of the War Horse play, he worked in animal husbandry in both World Wars and tended horses in WW1 and his War Service years were 31 August 1914 to 10 March 1919 and then from 1939 to 1941.


·         Lance Corporal George Weighill Farndale,  (A1), the Bishop Wilton Line joined the West Yorkshire Regiment and was an infantryman in the first world war. He was killed in action at Arras during the Third Battle of the Scarpe. He had also served in Egypt in 1915.


·         Lance Corporal Herbert Arthur Farndale (A1),  the Norwich Line, of the Norfolk Yeomanry, the Northamptonshire Regiment and later the Royal Berkshire Regiment, was wounded in October 1917.


·         By 1917 James Arthur Farndale, (A1), the Bishop Wilton Line, was a drawing foreman at the Saltaire Mills at Shipley now in north Bradford. Due to the importance of his work, he was excused military duties at consecutive military tribunal hearings. James became a dominant person in the Saltaire community. He was later manager of the drawing room until he retired in 1942. He was a keen cricketer and a life member of the Saltaire cricket club, voluntarily tending its ground for five seasons. He died in 1952 on a bus returning from a football match. The Saltaire Mills were a Victorian ‘model village’ in Shipley to the north of Bradford. The site is now a World Heritage Site. James Arthur Farndale, and his descendants (see the Bradford 2 Line) were influential in its history.


·         By 1921, John W Farndale, (A1), the Bishop Wilton Line was a gardener for Lord Allerton at the Firs, Wetherby. His daughter with his first wife Annie Thomspon, Lily Farndale had been tragically killed when playing ball in 1933.  His second wife Jane Wade aroused the neighbourhood when there was a fire at the village smithy at Walton in 1952. John is the Founder of the Wetherby 1 Line.


·         By 1934, Wilfred Farndale, (A1), the Bishop Wilton Line, was the Sanitary Inspector for Shipley. Quiet and unassuming, and a successful cricketer in the Shipley team, he was a very popular member of the community. He gave lectures and wrote about his work, which is all recorded on his webpage. He was also elected President of the Shipley Branch of the National and Local Government Association and President of the Shipley Rotary Club. He married Kathleen Dawson. Wilfred is the Founder of the Bradford 2 Line.


·         Private James Farndale, (A1), of the Stockton 3 Line, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, died of wounds on 16 March 1941 in Eritrea. James is buried at Keren War Cemetery.


The Kilton 2 Farndales

Of the routes we can be certain about, William Farndale was founder of the Kilton 2 Line. The Kilton 2 Line branches into a segment of the modern Farndale family, of which several lines (denoted by **) still have family members alive today. 




The Kilton 2 Line

1690 to 1841

Skelton, Brotton, Liverton, Kilton, Lythe, Whitby







The Loftus 1 Line

1739 to 1833

Loftus, Whitby, Brotton






The Brotton 3 Line

1772 to 1917

Loftus, Brotton, Whitby, Marske, Middlesbrough





The George Farndale part of the Loftus 2 Line **

1843 to Date

Loftus, Brotton, Middlesbrough, Liverton and more widely



The Stockton 1 Line **

1796 to Date

Stockton, Guisborough, Rothbury, Northumberland

The Stockton 2 Line **

1814 to Date

Stockton, Middlesbrough and more widely

The Surrey 1 Line

1914 to 1944

Surrey, Sussex

The American 3 Line **

1932 to Date

California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Washington

The Wales 1 Line

1934 to 1966

Pontypridd, Glamorganshire

The Northumberland Line **

1913 to Date



Those Farndales who are descendants of the Kilton 2 Line can be identified in the timeline by the annotation K2.  This Kilton family included:

·         William Farndale (K2), the founder of the Loftus 1 Line was elected and sworn as a constable for Loftus in 1781.


·         William Leng Farndale (K2), of the Stockton 1 Line became a Sergeant in the Northumberland Hussars by 1902. That Regiment served in the Boer War, so he may have served there.


·         George William Farndale (K2) of the Loftus 2 Line enlisted on 10 December 1915 and became a clerk in the Army Pay Corps at Blackheath. After the Great War, her was a shipping clerk with George Alder Limited in Middlesbrough.


·         Sergeant Bernard Farndale (K2), 115th Squadron RAF, was killed in action over Denmark on 30 August 1944. On the night before 30 August 1944 nearly 600 RAF bombers flew over Denmark on bombing raids to Königsberg and Stettin. Particularly the planes for Stettin were attacked by German night fighters, when they were passing the northern part of Jutland and the Kattegat. Avro Lancaster Bomber LAN ME718 was hit and flew for a moment through the air before it crashed like a burning torch at Oue (about 400 m west of Rinddalsvej in Denmark). All of the bomb load exploded on impact. All of the crew were killed. The Germans did not want to collect the bodies and left them in the field. The locals were appalled by this behaviour and collected the remains in wickerwork baskets. The Wehrmacht ordered the Danes to hand the baskets over, and these were thrown in the crater at the crash site and covered. When the Germans had left the area, the locals together with members of the Civil Air Defence opened the crater and placed the remains in a coffin which was driven to Oue church. A memorial still stands to the dead airmen at Oue.


·         John Alan Farndale, the American 3 Line (K2) saw service during the Korean War in the Royal Air Force.


The Kilton 1 Farndales

The other certain path to family Lines of the modern family derive from John Farndale, the founder of the Kilton 1 Line.

John Farndale son of Nicholas Farndale, of the Liverton 2 Line (which Line preceded both K1 and K2), married Elizabeth Bennison at Brotton on 5 February 1705. By then he was living in Kilton and was one of the first members of the family, with his brother George Farndale (founder of the Kilton 2 Line), to live in Kilton. John and Elizabeth were the founders of the Kilton 1 Line, a core hub for the development of the history of the wider family. 

The Kilton 1 Line branches into a very significant part of the modern Farndale family (the lines with ** are contemporary lines which still have family members alive today):






The Kilton 1 Line

1680 to 1973

Kilton, Brotton, and more widely over time











The Whitby 3 Line

1743 to 1797

Whitby, Lythe

The Brotton 2 Line

1753 to 1790

Brotton, Skelton

The Whitby 5 Line **

1788 to Date

Whitby, Danby, Egton, Goathland, Loftus, York and more widely

The Australia 1 (Birregurra) Line

1793 to 1923

Birregurra and Victoria, Australia

The Great Ayton 2 Line

1795 to 1953

Great Ayton, Bishop Auckland, Barrow and more widely

The Great Ayton 3 Line

1795 to 2005

Great Ayton, Guisborough, Middlesbrough

The Bishop Auckland 1 Line

1822 to 1989

Bishop Auckland, Newcastle

The Coatham Line

1827 to 1984

Coatham, Marske, Redcar

The Ontario 1 Line **

1836 to Date

Ontario via the Crimean War


The Tidkinhow Line

1845 to 1992

Tidkinhow, Alberta and more widely

The Craggs Line

1850 to 1974

Craggs, Brotton and more widely

The Richmond Line **

1875 to Date

Gillingwood, Richmond, Darlington

The John Farndale part of the Loftus 2 Line **

1848 to Date

Loftus, Northallerton, Liverton, Moorsholm




The Martin Family

The South Shields 2 Line

1883 to 1928

Jarrow and South Shields


The Wetherby 2 Line **

1922 to Date

Wetherby, Thirsk, Northallerton

The Hartlepool 1 Line **

1834 to Date

Hartlepool and more widely

The American 2 Line

1890 to 1934

Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin

The American 1 Line **

1885 to Date

California, Texas

The Wensleydale Line **

1897 to Date

Wensleydale and more widely


The Wales 2 Line **

1940 to Date

Wales particularly Glamorganshire

The Newfoundland Line **

1886 to Date





The London 4 Line **

1907 to Date

London and Sussex


The London 2 Line **

1911 to Date

London, Bedford, Northampton, Essex

The London 3 Line **

1921 to Date






The Robert Farndale part of the Wakefield 1 Line **

1885 to date

Wakefield and more widely


The Thirsk Line **

1894 to Date

Thirsk, Northallerton, Richmond


The Thomas Farndale part of the Wakefield 1 Line

1839 to 2002

Wakefield and more widely

The Loftus 3 Line

1849 to 1993

Loftus, Danby, Whitby and more widely

The Nottingham 1 Line **

1909 to Date

Nottingham and more widely

The Holderness Line **

1914 to Date

Holderness, Hull

The William Line **

1947 to Date

Wide geographical spread


The Bradford 1 Line **

1909 to Date

Bradford, Chesterfield


The South Shields 1 Line

1904 to 1943

South Shields, Bradford


The New Zealand Line **

1919 to Date

New Zealand, particularly Masterton

The Cambridge Line **

1940 to Date

Cambridge, London, Middlesex




The Ontario 2 Line

1871 to 1912

Ontario, Canada












The London 1 Line **

1866 to Date

London and more widely

The Leicester Line **

1886 to Date

Leicester, Nottingham and more widely

The Bradford 3 Line

1916 to 1945












Those Farndales who are descendants of the Kilton 1 Line, can be identified by the annotation K1 in the timeline.  This is by far the largest hub of the family and included:

·         Johnny Farndale (“Old Farndale of Kilton”), (K1), the Kilton 1 Line had moved to How Hill Farm on the Wharton Estate at Kilton, a farmer and a merchant who was involved in the alum trade and later told tales of smugglers at Cat Nab at Old Saltburn.


·         Wiliam Farndale, (K1), the Kilton 1 Line, a farmer and merchant of Kilton like his father, who pulled down Kilton Lodge to build his new home, and imported rods, coals and bacon at Cat Nab from sloops out to sea.


·         John Farndale, (K1), the Kilton 1 Line, saved by his buckle from tumbling down a well, an author of many books about Kilton and the wider area, narrator of Victorian innovation, poet after the Battle of Waterloo, an agent, and the subject of many great stories.


·         Matthew Farndale (K1), the Kilton 1 Line, with his wife Hannah, his daughter Mary Ann Martin and her new husband William Martin, and their youngest daughter Elizabeth Farndale, left Liverpool on the Argo, bound for Melbourne, Australia. The voyage took 103 days or just over 14 weeks. Thus started the Australia 1 Line. You can read more about the Australian Farndales and about the Martin family.


·         John George Farndale, (K1), the Kilton 1 Line, took part in the Crimean War and there are letters from him from Sebastopol on his web page. He served in the 28th of Foot, a Yorkshire Regiment and may have transferred to that Regiment from the Coldstream Guards. His descriptive letters show that he took part in the battles of Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman and was at the Siege of Sebastopol. He later emigrated to Canada. There is an unsubstantiated story that he went to Australia first. He is the Founder of the Ontario 1 Line.


·         William Masterman Farndale,(K1), the Kilton 1 Line was an officer of HM Customs, a tide waiter at Cleveland port who discovered a fire on the ship Hydrus in Middlesbrough and caused the fire to be extinguished to save the vessel, though the captain was found ‘burnt to a cinder’ in his cabin.


·         John Henry Farndale, (K1) the Great Ayton 3 Line, was killed by a fall or ironstone at the Poston Mines, Ormesby.


·         Martin Farndale, (K1), the Kilton 1 Line, farmed 600 acres at Kilton Hall Farm with 16 employees.


·         Charles Farndale (K1), the Kilton 1 Line took over Kilton from Martin Farndale, his uncle, since Martin had no children of his own. Charles was a farmer at Kilton of 207 acres by 1851, with 9 employees, and later 577 acres. He was a methodist: “For very many years services have been held in the spacious farm kitchen of Mr C Farndale, Kilton Lodge, which was also that of his father before him. Methodism in the neighbourhood, and the cause of righteousness generally, owes much to the high Christian character and active interest in all good works displayed by this devoted Methodist family.”


·         Joseph Farndale the Older,  (K1), the Whitby 5 Line was Chief Constable of Birmingham City Police and involved in the Fenian Dynamite Conspiracy with a peak of activity in 1883. An article in the Birmingham Daily Post on 18 April 1942, suggests that the British habit of forming an orderly queue was down to Joseph.


·         Joseph Farndale CBE KPM, nephew of Joseph the Elder, (K1), the Wakefield 1 Line became Chief Constable of Bradford City Police Force. Joseph was involved in a new system for using fingerprints in 1903; a campaign to supress scurrilous picture postcards in 1904; meeting the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1904; the earliest use of a speed trap in 1905; the prohibition of the shocking ‘posings’ of the actress Pansy Montague, ‘La Milo’ in Bradford in 1907; managing strikes and street violence in Bradford in 1913; dealing with an epidemic of ‘bad language’ by children in Bradford in 1914; enforcing the control of the possession of homing pigeons in Bradford during World War 1 under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 and in enforcing the Aliens Restriction (Change of Name) Order 1914;  welcoming Belgian refugees in Bradford in 1914; making arrangements for public house licencing during World War 1; a parade exhibiting a captured 77mm German field gun lost at the Battle of Loos, in 1915; meeting the King and Queen in Shipley in 1918; and managing street congestion in 1924. Joseph was the inventor of the Police Box in 1929 in Bradford. He proposed the use of miniature police stations, kiosk shaped and equipped with a telephone, desk and red warning light to provide a police service at a hundred points in the City, instead of the present twelve points. So but for Joseph Farndale, Dr Who would not have had his tardis.


·         William Farndale, (K1), the Whitby 5 Line an ironstone miner in Loftus, and founder of the Loftus 3 Line, witnessed the death of his colleague, Henry Durham, in the Loftus mines.


·         Samuel Farndale, (K1), the Wakefield 1 Line, and brother of Joseph Farndale the Younger, later the Chief Constable of Bradford, was a humourist (the ‘comedian’ of the family) appearing at soirees in Wakefield in 1889.


·         Samuel (Kirk) Farndale, (K1), the Loftus 3 Line, travelled from Liverpool to Quebec on SS Sardinian. He settled in Oshawa, Ontario. He became a farmer at Brooklin, Pickering, Ontario. The locality in Ontario was clearly settled from his compatriots from the same area, since the towns there bore names like Pickering and Whitby Township. Kirk and his wife Mary were founders of the Ontario 2 Line.


·         John William Farndale MRCS Eng, LRCP Lond, (K1), the Whitby 5 Line was registered as a medical practitioner and worked in Ba in the Fiji Islands in 1901.


·         John Martin Farndale, (K1), the Loftus 2 Line, who had lived at Loftus and was a grocery store manager at Guisborough married Bessie Stainthorpe and they went to Newfoundland just after they were married. John was a grocery store manager in St John’s, Newfoundland. John and Bessie were founders of the Newfoundland Line.


·         James Farndale (A1), the Stockton 3 Line was a Druid in Stockton in 1909. He worked in Stockton in the iron and steam engine works.


·         James (“Jim”) Farndale, (K1), the Tidkinhow Line, went to Canada in 1911, the year before the Titanic Sank. There is a transcript of Jim’s diary recording his emigration to Canada. In 1911 James arrived to stay with Martin Farndale in Alberta. He did not stay long in Canada before he went to America for the rest of his life. He was involved with the Carpenter’s Union on the Boulder dam project and later was elected a Senator for Nevada. He was a great man of American politics.


·         George William Farndale, (K1), the Coatham Line, who had been a road labourer and plumber in Coatham, emigrated to USA. He married Frances Hilton in New York of Chicago in about 1915, but she died from swine flu in 1918. He saw service in the First World War. He later married Rose Cunningham in Clinton, Iowa in 1921. He became a naturalised citizen of USA on 16 May 1934. George founded the American 2 Line. George was later a teacher in vocational education in Milwaukie, Wisconsin.


·         John George Farndale, (K1), the Hartlepool 1 Line was Treasurer of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (“the Buffs”) in Hartlepool.


·         As President of the Primitive Methodist Conference in 1947 Rev Dr William Edward Farndale, (K1), the Whitby 5 Line, and founder of the William Line, sounded the Call of the Countryside and launched a “Back to the Soil” campaign.


·         Florence Farndale, wife of Rev Dr William Edward Farndale, (K1), the Whitby 5 Line was President of the North Eastern Federation of Suffragettes. She campaigned for ‘why women need the vote’. She was later very involved with the British Women’s Total Abstinence Union.


·         Lieutenant Graham Price, a World War 1 Flying Ace, the younger brother of Florence Farndale, wife of Rev Dr William Edward Farndale, (K1), the Whitby 5 Line was killed in action over the east coast of Scotland in a duel with a German aeroplane at 8,000 feet.


·         Corporal William Farndale,  (K1) the Great Ayton 3 Line enlisted at Stokesley into the Yorkshire Regiment on 12 October 1914 and arrived in France on 27 August 1915. In a letter home in October 1915, he joked that since he was in France, he had the Germans on the run. He served in France and Italy and came home on leave in August 1918. He was 5 feet and 7.5 inches tall. He was discharged in December 1920 with a 30% disablement from the War.


·         Herbert Farndale, (K1), the Craggs Line was enlisted into 2/4th Battalion, Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) and undertook training. He was 23, a farmer, 5 feet and 6.5 inches tall and weight 140 lbs, of good physical development. Later Sergeant Herbert Farndale, 10th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and later the 2nd Battalion the West Yorkshire Regiment, was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His Military Medal for bravery arose for service from 11 August 1915 to 30 June 1916 and particularly on 1 July 1916, with the Expeditionary Force in France. He was commissioned in 1918. Herbert later lived at Craggs Hall Farm and on 3 September 1940 the farmhouse received a direct hit by a German bomb. The house was rebuilt. Herbert was an independent Councillor, a member of Skelton and Brotton urban council.


·         Alfred Farndale (K1), the Tidkinhow Line, and founder of the Wensleydale Line, enlisted into the Machine Gun Corps. He served in France, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and India. He served at Ypres. He and Quartermaster Sergeant Zaccarelli had been galloping up to the Front with an ammunition limber when the Germans started to shell them. Zaccarelli was killed, along with a horse. Alfred managed to cut the dead horse free, drag Zaccarelli’s body into a ditch and carry on up to the Front on one horse with his delivery of ammunition. Alfred later emigrated to Alberta and they settled at Huxley and built their house there. They returned to Yorkshire after the Great Depression and the family farmed in Wensleydale.


·         Private (John) Richard Farndale, (K1), the Coatham Line, died at 21st Casualty Clearing Station at La Neuville of pneumonia. He enlisted at Redcar, and joined the 1/4th (TA) Battalion of the Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment, also known as the Green Howards. At the time of his death the battalion was not in the line but in reserve at Proyart. On 31 Dec 1916 it was at Bazentin le Petit and in reserve at Flers on 7 Jan 1917. On 11 Jan the battalion moved to the front line at ‘Hexham Road.’ It was again in the front line from 30 Jan to 11 Feb at Genercourt. The battalion moved to Proyart on 19 Feb 1917. Richard was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal posthumously on 21 Jan 1921. He was presumably badly wounded at Hexham Road or Genercourt or Proyart and evacuated to No 21 Casualty Clearing Station at La Neuville, where he later died of pneumonia.


·         Private George Farndale, (K1), the Whitby 5 Line, was killed in action on 27 May 1917, during the Battle of Arras, barely a month after arriving in France. He was serving with the 1st/9th (Territorial Glasgow Highlanders) Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry in 100th Infantry Brigade of 33rd Infantry Division in operations against the Hindenburg Line. He was 26 years old. On his web-page, you will find extensive correspondence and records about his service and correspondence.


·         William Farndale, (K1), the Tidkinhow Line had arrived in Canada in 1913, and he went to Early Grey in Saskatchewan where he was a butcher. He then served in the Canadian Army in WW1 and was wounded in action at Vimy Ridge on 13 December 1916. Still weakened from his wounds, he died of the flu epidemic shortly after the War ended, having insisted on transporting patients with flu to hospital.


·         James (“Jim”) Farndale had enlisted into the US Army on 31 August 1917 and he served in France until 1918. He was discharged on 1 August 1919. His younger brother, William Farndale, had enlisted into the Canadian army. His youngest brother, Alfred Farndale, had enlisted into the British Army. So three brothers served in the British, US and Canadian army. 


·         Private Robert Farndale, (K1) the Hartlepool 1 Line was in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He was wounded in 1917 and later joined the Labour Corps. He was admitted to the Fourth Stationary Hospital and discharged on 15 April 1918.


·         Henry Farndale (K1), the Wakefield 1 Line was a Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery who was gassed in November 1917. Before the War he was a solicitor’s clerk and engineer’s draughtsman. In 1920 the Army proposed that he transfer to the Corps of Military Accountants, but he discharged from the army in Woolwich that year.


·         Gunner John William Farndale (K1), the Wakefield 1 Line was severely wounded by a gas shell explosion and was admitted to a field hospital in Rouen in 1918 and then to the General Hospital at Leicester. He was later a leather salesman and founded the Leicester 1 Line.


·         Albert Farndale, (K1), the Kilton 1 Line was an architect who tragically shot himself at Kilton in December 1918.


·         Mark Farndale, (K1), the Ontario 1 Line, a farmer who had married Mary Wiltse in Ontario in 1908, died from the flu epidemic on 29 November 1918.


·         George William Farndale (K1), the Great Ayton 2 Line, became a well known comic actor. There are extensive records of his performances on his web page. He regularly performed with the Yorkshire Mummers and sang comic songs.


·         Grace Farndale (K1), the Tidkinhow Line, was assistant matron at the Towers Boarding School for Girls at Saltburn by the Sea. Grace was later a matron at Malvern and then emigrated to Alberta where she and her husband Howard Holmes had a ranch.


·         William Farndale, (K1), the Craggs Line moved to Plane Tree Farm at Maunby, Thirsk where William and Mary farmed for forty years. They were founders of the Thirsk Line. William chaired the Northallerton Branch of the National Farmers Union and had an active role in negotiations during the Second World War to get the most from the land.


·         John Joseph Farndale, (K1), the Great Ayton 2 Line, was a joiner and part of the Ayton cricket team.


·         John William Farndale, (K1), the South Shields 2 Line was the youngest member of the 185 men who set off on the Jarrow marches in 1936.


·         Audrey Celina McKelvie (nee Farndale), (K1), the Ontario 1 Line was a comptometer operator with the Hudson Bay Company.


·         Thomas Henry Farndale, (K1), the London 1 Line was a detective sergeant, later an Inspector, a real life ‘Foyle’s War’, who solved crimes during the Second World War in Surrey. He was involved investigating a serious crime involving the murder of a maid by three soldiers. He continued to solve crimes until he retired in 1955. His experiences were well recorded in the media and in a record of his service in the Surrey Mirror on 4 November 1955. After he retired from the police, he was a licensee of the Plough Inn at Dormansland and later President of the Caterham Licensed Victuallers Association.


·         Wilfred (or “Wilf”) Farndale, (A1), the Stockton 3 Line lived at Filton, near Bristol, with his wife Doris Eveyln nee Howard.  Wilf later worked with the Bristol Aircraft Company making aircraft jigs, the framework on which aircraft were built. He was involved with the Brabazon, Britannia and early stage of Concorde designs. He was a football referee. The family then emigrated to New Zealand and founded the New Zealand 2 Line.


·         Private Richard (“Dick”) Farndale, (K1), the American 2 Line attested into the army on 28 March 1941 at Chicago, Illinois and served in the US Army during World War II, spending more than four years in the Pacific theatre of Operation. He was a mechanic with the 43rd Division.


·         Hazel Jane Farndale (“Janie”), (K1), the American 1 Line married John Elif Rydell. John was a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force during WW2 and Korea. Janey later lived in Austin, Texas and was a regular visitor to the family in Yorkshire.


·         Ronald Martin Farndale, (K1), the Wakefield 1 Line had emigrated to New Zealand and served in 6th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps in Greece and Crete, before he was captured at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh in 1941 and became a Prisoner of War. He later became a builder and carpenter in Masterton, near Auckland, New Zealand and founded the New Zealand 1 Line.


·         Sergeant William Derrick Farndale, (K1), the Whitby 5 Line was a patrol member in the Withernsea Patrol on the East Yorkshire Coast from 1942 until 3 December 1944.


·         Jimmy Farndale, (K1), the American 1 Line enlisted into the US Army on 15 December 1942 and served in the US Army Air Corps. In 1952 he flew around the world visiting all continents by plane.


·         Raymond W S Farndale, (K1), the Newfoundland Line served in 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in September 1943. The regiment trained in Northumberland but by July1944 it was at Worthing in Sussex. It went to France and took part in the battles for Caen. By VE-Day it was at Hamburg. Lieutenant RWS Farndale RA went back to Canada in September 1945 with the Defence Medal, the 1939-45 Star and War Medal with a Mention in Dispatches. He joined 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment RCA (Reserve) and was with them until 1954, retiring as a Major, earning the Canadian Forces decoration (CD). He became an accountant and lived at St Johns, Corner Brook, Toronto and Halifax.


·         On 11 May 1945, only three days after VE day, Henry Stewart Farndale (K1), the Wakefield 1 Line died as a pilot in training in a Tiger Moth over Leeds.


·         General Sir Martin Farndale KCB (K1), the Wensleydale Line joined the Indian Army on 3 September 1946, transferred to the British Army in 1947 and went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery. He served in Egypt, Germany, Malaya, South Arabia, Ireland. He commanded The Chestnut Troop, 1st Regiment RHA, 7th Armoured Brigade, 2nd Armoured Division, 1st British Corps and Northern Army Group. He became Commander-in-Chief British Army of the Rhine and Master Gunner St James’s Park. He was awarded General Service Medal with clasps for Malaya, South Arabia and Northern Ireland, the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, and was made a Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1980 and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1983. He was awarded the 125th Anniversary of Canada Medal for services to Canada and an Honorary Degree of Literature at Greenwich University.


·         Major William Arthur James Farndale, (K1), the William Line was called to the bar by the Middle Temple. He was later a Chairman of the Governors of Dovedale Manor School in Camberwell. He regularly gave lectures and became involved later in residential care.


The diverse experiences of the family can be seen with more detail in the second timeline, and by delving deeper into the website. The website records the many achievements, struggles, lives and relationships within our family over the centuries. Some have enjoyed full lives and collectively the descendants of the medieval and early Farndales such as Nicholas have a rich history of accomplishment. Others have struggled, such as those who moved from the country to settle in the town of Whitby, some depending on Poor Law support. Some died very young, or at birth. Each has his or her own page, so that each member of our family is recorded for their life and role in society. The intention is that every historic Farndale will have a place on this website. Although in the Twenty First Century, the family has diverse and broad interests, we can perhaps summarise the historic Farndales, as farmers, pioneers and soldiers, with many also taking to the sea, working in ironstone mines in Cleveland and in many other occupations.


Social Historical Context

Whilst ancestor hunters might secretly like to search for their aristocratic forebears, what we find is the privilege of something much richer, of ordinary folk, the engine room of British society and their stories. What we find are stories of endeavours, ordeals, passion, adventure, pioneering, and real life The rich history of this single family, stretching through British history from the Norman Conquest, through the age of rural serfdom, the Black Death and the emergence of a more powerful workforce, associations with the legend of Robin Hood, centuries of rural life, the industrial revolution and rapid social change, into the horrors of the First and Second World Wars, and the era of the Cold War, provides a direct historical perspective of social change over twelve centuries of British history.


A note on research methods

Parish records were introduced in England by Thomas Cromwell, the lawyer and Chief Minister to Henry VIII (and well known to us through the historical novels of Hilary Mantel) on 5 September 1538. After 1538, family historians are able to rely on extensive records of births, marriages and deaths, which provide a framework upon which to build accurate genealogies. So from that date it is generally possible to compile factually accurate family history. The practical date for the availability of parish records is generally taken to be the start of the reign of Elizabeth I in 1558.

Before 1538/1558, the genealogist’s task is much harder. Extensive records still exist back to the Norman Conquest and the Domesday book. However gaps in evidence are inevitable. Nevertheless, with a unique locative surname like Farndale, it is still possible to navigate these more difficult sources and build up an impressive history.

Martin Farndale, Richard’s father, began his research into the family’s history in 1956. Before the age of computers and databases, he travelled around north Yorkshire, taking hand notes from Parish records, and compiling extensive card indexes, and achieved a remarkable history of the family, and had already identified the heart of the history back to the Norman Conquest. That Martin was the commander of the Northern Army Group of NATO (the north half of NATO’s defensive line) at the heart of the Cold War and wrote the history of the Royal Artillery along with an exhausting portfolio of other interests and still found time to undertake this family research is remarkable. He died in 2000.

Richard Farndale, his son and the author of this website, took the baton from Martin in 2000. The Data Age blossomed from 2000, so that records could be analysed and compiled electronically and over time national databases of historical material became more easily available so that searches could be undertaken with exponential efficiency compared to what was possible in the second half of the twentieth century. After a decade as an artillery officer, Richard spent a quarter century as a lawyer, and dispute resolution and the assessment of evidence were the heart of Richard’s professional career. That has helped Richard to work through the previous research, build on it, but also assess it evidentially and work on the robustness of the historical record. 

A lawyer generally recognises two standards of evidence. The standard used in criminal cases is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, that is that facts are as near to certain as can be. The standard used in civil cases is ‘on a balance of probabilities’, that is ‘more likely than not’ or about 50% likely.

The research has tended to adopt the principle that for the post 1538 history of the family, there is no reason why the history cannot be built up to meet the higher test, beyond reasonable doubt. So the record is built on recorded facts, and there are generally no, or very few gaps, where guesses have to be made.

A litigator also understands the importance of contemporaneous evidence over retrospective evidence. In building up a factual narrative, it is always sounder to base the work on the direct evidence that was recorded at the time.

The approach to our history before 1538 has been, so far as possible, to build the framework of events to the same standard, beyond reasonable doubt. In other words the primary focus has been to find physical evidence from the recorded history, to provide a certain record of events. However the absence of comprehensive family records means that it is impossible to identify every individual and core fact, so gaps in our history are inevitable. Where there are gaps, and only where there are gaps, it is therefore necessary to use common sense, logic, geographical associations, family clusters and other clues, to make a best guess at the true circumstances and family relationships. In general, where such an approach has been necessary, the research has tried to apply the legal test of ‘more likely than not’, or the ‘balance of probabilities’.

Where the work is based on records, applying the test of beyond reasonable doubt, the history is almost certainly correct, the risk lying in the accuracy of the contemporary evidence itself.

Where, in our pre 1538 history, it has been necessary to fill the gaps with an application of logic, then the history is ‘more likely than not’. It could be wrong and contrary evidence might take us down a different route in the future. But it is the best analysis that is possible based upon the evidence that has been reviewed to date.

There are some detailed research notes, which cover the sources of research including the medieval sources in much more detail, and this may be of particular interest to family and local historians, particularly researching Yorkshire families.


Farndale women – some comments on patrilineal lineage, descendants with other names, and the importance of women in our history, despite the poor historical records

From our twenty first century perspective, the predominance of the historical records on the achievements of the menfolk is stark. It is obvious that the historical record is heavily weighted and focused on male activity and often barely notices the lives, ordeals, achievements, and family adhesion provided by our female ancestors. We know today that the historical record provides us with a biased view. This cannot be the reality. It is simply what was recorded.

We should not blame the patrilineal system of our lineage for this. As a former anthropologist, I know that the passage of a name through the male line is not the only solution, and many societies particularly in West Africa have adopted matrilineal systems, and others have adopted multi-lineal systems such as clan systems. However the system adopted throughout Europe is a patrilineal one. What is important to a family historian is that there is structure, and the patrilineal nature of ancestry provides a structure which allows us to peer deep into our history. Whilst theoretically possible to explore every diverging family line backwards through time, that would be impracticable. The unique locative nature of the Farndale name provides a beacon, which we can follow through time, to find our history. It doesn’t matter whether we still bear the Farndale name today, or are descended from a relative however distant, who links into the Farndale chain, this family history allows us to see far back to our more distant ancestry. It is no more the history of modern folk bearing the name Farndale than a history of anyone who is descended from this line of ancestry. The Farndale lineage provides a tool to look back in time and no more.

In order to keep this work finite, I’ve recorded a page for every person who was born a Farndale. The record is equally about female as male folk who were born with the name. I have not generally recorded those who married into the Farndale family separately, but have included their stories where I can. I have sometimes explored maternal ancestry in a few instances. The patrilineal lineage thus provides a system to record a single family, both male and female, and to keep the research within some structure and boundaries.

What is to blame for the evidential focus on the menfolk is the historical record itself. However, the evidence can only derive from the historical record. It would be completely wrong for a historian to make up historical facts that were not recorded. So, I think, what we have to do is to start by recording the existing historical evidence, to build the story of the family. Inevitably it is evidence dominated by the male stories. Wherever there is factual evidence of the lives of women, those are of course brought in to play.

However, what we must then do, is to apply our own perspective of what must have been. Of course despite historical biases, women provided a bedrock of families through time. My granny was at the heart of my own family. My father recalled in the years of the Second World War, “My mother would come and sit with us as we went to sleep at night and these moments became highlights of those days. I adored her, she seemed to understand everything and she never failed to set my mid at rest whatever my problems. I owe her a great deal indeed. She ensured that we grew up with balance and understanding of other people.” I suspect these sentiments reflect the reality of family life stretching far back in time. So we might be forced to tell stories of the recorded exploits of the menfolk, but we can add our own perspective to provide more balance.

As I am still at a research stage, and continue to build the available evidence into some cohesion, I am conscious that a future task will be to do what I can to add more balance, to reflect this reality. The current focus will remain for some time on researching the available historical material, so please bear with me, but in time, I hope to use wider historical sources to build up a better perspective about the lives of women, where those are not directly available from the direct records.


Using the website

Hopefully this introduction has provided a general idea of the history of our family. The wider website has over three thousand pages including individual pages for every Farndale, with historical information about our forebears.

To go from here you might start by finding yourself, or the particular ancestor you are interested in by checking the Farndale Directory, indexed by date of birth. I also suggest that you explore the eighty eight Family Lines, and look at the Interface Page which shows how they all link up.

For those with less time, you can also look at the Headlines Page, which will take you straight to some of our ancestors most interesting exploits.

I have started to build up some underlying pages drawing together information about the geography of the family and particular locations such as Farndale, Rievaulx, Sheriff Hutton, York, Doncaster, Pickering, Kirkleatham, Skelton, Moorsholm, Ampleforth, Kilton, Cleveland, Brotton, Loftus, Liverton, Great Ayton, Stokesley, Lythe, Guisborough, Coatham, Redcar, Marske, Saltburn by the Sea, Whitby, Egton, Boosbeck, Tidkinhow, Stockton, Darlington, Northallerton,  Richmond, Wensleydale, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Scarborough, Wakefield, Bradford, Leeds, Newcastle, Australia, Birregurra in Australia, Geelong in Victoria, Melbourne, USA, California, Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, New York,  Alberta, Huxley in Alberta, Three Hills in Alberta, Trochu in Alberta, Newfoundland, Ontario and New Zealand. However please note that these pages are crude and often in note form at this stage, sometimes just capturing some material which I plane to look at further one day.

I am also starting to build up separate pages to explain the main occupations and influences in which our ancestors were involved including agriculture, pioneers, the armed forces, a table of the Farndales who served in World War 1, sailors, mining, and as lawmakers and law breakers. These pages all need more work.

I will also be building pages on aspects of Yorkshire’s history that impacted on our family, including James Cook, Outlaws and the Robin Hood legend, the Royal Navy in the eighteenth century, East Coast Yorkshire smugglers, the alum trade, nineteenth century maritime commerce, Yorkshire and the First World War, and other themes.

I will also build pages on Yorkshire’s pre-history, eleventh century Yorkshire and there will be further contextual historical pages including Roman Yorkshire, feudal Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Black Death, the Parish of Doncaster, Elizabethan Yorkshire, Yorkshire in the Civil War, Victorian Cleveland.

I will also be building up an underlying social record focused on the local area, to give wider context to the family story, including education, family self sufficiency, homes and big families in small houses, working in service, religion, poverty, recalling the past, women, ambition, leisure and entertainment, health, children.

You may see these pages evolving over time and gradually building up the wider context.

Meantime work continues on the wider project.