Lancashire Rose Yorkshire Rose

This family tree, on my own branch of the Thornber family, is the result of work carried out since the 1960s.  The point has been reached where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find any relevant new information for the earlier period but the tree is presented as "work in progress."

The family tree from John Thornber and Alice Briggs, married in 1802, to the present day is supported by extensive documentary evidence. The identification of John Thornber as the son of William Thornber and Mary Inskip, as shown below, was initially based on naming patterns within the various Thornber families..  Several John Thornbers were born in the 1770's in neighbouring parishes. All but three have been eliminated from consideration by tracing their marriages and deaths. The three who remained were::  

John the son of William Thornber and Mary Inskip of Bolton by Bowland;
John the son of William Thornber and Mary Briscoe of Waddington;
John the son of Ralph Thornber of Slaidburn.

The last is thought least likely because none of John's children have the distinctive names Ralph, Anthony and Giles which are common in this family.  Of the other two candidates, the son of William Thornber and Mary Briscoe was baptised in Waddington in 1772 while the son of William Thornber and Mary Inskip was baptised at Holden Chapel in 1776.  My John was reported to be 50 at his death in 1828 so I seek a candidate born about 1777/8 but have to allow for the usual errors in remembering and recording ages and the well known tendency to round ages to the nearest ten when reporting deaths. William Thornber who married Mary Inskip was a stone mason as reported on his marriage bond. My John was a stone mason.

The forenames in John's family fit well with those in both of the families of the two Williams but the use by John of the name Catherine for his second daughter is of interest. The mother of the William who married Mary Inskip was Catherine, nee Altham. William had a sister called Catherine and named one of his daughters Catherine. So John had a grandmother, aunt and sister with this name. There are no Catherines in the family of the William who married Mary Briscoe, so on balance I favoured William and Mary Inskip as the parents of my John Thornber.  William and Mary Briscoe appear in the family tree of Thornbers in Blackburn,   It seems likely that the William who married Mary Briscoe was the uncle of the William who married Mary Inskip. The arguments based on marriages, baptisms and burials was eventually augmented by three wills as shown in footnote 5.

The families of the children of John Thornber and Catherine Altham other than William, are less securely based in terms of documentary evidence through lack of wills and missing burial records. In some cases the evidence is based on the most appropriate marriage in the locality and naming patterns.  More work is required to uncover other records. Elizabeth Thornber in generation 3 married Robert Seed at Waddington in 1798 and the witnesses were Henry Inskip, who could be a cousin or uncle on her mother's side of the family and John Altham, who could be a cousin or uncle related to her grandmother, Catherine Altham.

Ideas on the forebears of the John Thornber who married Catherine Altham, of which I am less confident, are shown in footnote 1.


C41         Census of 1841, similarly C51, C61 etc.
BC          Birth Certificate
DC          Death Certificate
MC         Marriage Certificate
MI           Monumental Inscription


Footnote 1.

Ideas for the earlier generations become increasingly speculative because of the scarcity of records and the fact that popular Christian names were used.  However, there is a good liklihood that we can go back at least one further generation.

John and Catherine used the names Richard, Jane, Susan and Henry for their first four children. This makes it likely that John's parents were Richard Thornber and Jane Brown, who married on 12 June 1715 in Waddington.  They had two children, John baptised on 12 June 1715 and Richard, baptised in 1717, both at Waddington.  Jane, wife of Richard Thornber of Bradford was buried 8 June 1721 at Waddington.  Richard may then have remarried as there is a group of eight children of Richard Thornber baptised at Waddington between 1726 and 1745 as listed below.   Ann wife of Richard Thornber of Bradford (near Waddington) was buried on 21 Feb 1772 at Waddington.

Children of Richard Thornber baptised at Waddington 1726 to 1745.

Thomas     20 Dec 1726
Wm           6 Sept 1730
Thomas     16 Feb 1733
Ann           6 Oct 1734
Henry        15 May 1737
Giles         25 Dec 1739
George     13 Feb 1743
Anthony    10 June 1745

The only other candidate for a John baptised in the appropriate period is the one baptised at Waddington on 29 Aug 1714, the son of William Thornber (Gulielmus in the register) who married Alicia Hanson on 30 Dec 1708 at Waddington.  We know of two other children baptised for this family - Anna in 1709, who died in infancy, and Giles (Egidius) in 1710.   The John Thornber who married Catherine Altham did not use the names William or Alice for his children but did used Richard for his eldest son and twice used the name Jane.  So it seems most likely that the John who married Catherine Altham was the son of Richard and Jane.

As Richard married Jane Brown in 1715 we would seek a baptism for him prior to about 1697. The only clues we have are that Richard named his first two sons John and Richard so one of these could be the name of his father.  The only Richard Thornber in this district baptised in the appropriate period was Ricardus, son of John, who was baptised at Waddington on 16 April 1693 which is in the appropriate period.

Children of John Thornber baptised at Waddington

Johannes 20 Oct 1690
Ricardus 16 Apr 1693
Thomas 12 Jan 1696
Henricus 11 June 1699
Gulielmus 17 Mar 1706

There are three candidates for the father, John.  The first John was the son of William and Anna baptised at Waddington on 28 Jan 1671: he would have been only about 19 in 1690.  The second candidate is the one baptised at Waddington in 1663 son of John.  The third is the John baptised on 10 Jan 1669 son of Giles.  The second candidate seems marginally more likely as he named  his first son Johannes and continued with four more sons without using the name of Giles.  

Children of John Thornber baptised at Waddington, 1655-1663

Ellin  2 Sept 1655
Agnes  30 Sept 1660 (birth date)
Johannes 3 April 1663

Ann a further daughter was buried on 3 Jan 1677/8 and Ellin four days later on 7 Jan.  Margretta, the wife of John Thornber was buried at Waddington on 19 Feb 1685/6.  John, the father of this family, would have to be born before about 1635 but there is no baptism record that fits in the Waddington registers and there is a gap in the Slaidburn records from 1600 to 1631.  If these connections are true then then the earliest part of tree is as follows leading in generation 1 to the John Thornber who married Catherine Altham.  Note that William son of Richard and Jane is the one who married Mary Briscoe and their story is told as part of the family tree in Blackburn.

Footnote 2.  The Will of Alice Thornber, widow of John Thornber

These are the key features of the will showing information of genealogical significance in bold type.  

This is the last will and testament of Alice Thornber of Whymond Houses in the township of Pendleton and County of Lancaster, Widow. I give, devise and bequeath all my real and personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever situate and over which I have any power of appointment unto my trustees hereinafter named that is to say my son Thomas Thornber now residing with me, my son-in-law, Thomas Peel of Wilton Heys in Pendleton, farmer, and my son-in-law, James Lambert, of Low Moor near Clitheroe, Manager of a Cotton Mill.

(The trustees were required to take all her property and convert it to cash as soon as convenient after her death by public sale or private contract.  After payment of any debts, funeral and probate expenses the following legacies were to be paid twelve months after her decease.)  

To my son John Thornber of Pendleton, farmer, the sum of five pounds.  To my son Richard Thornber of Pendleton, farmer, the sum of five pounds.  (each of whom I have from time to time assisted in their businesses as farmers. To my grandchildren the sons and daughters of my deceased son James Thornber, the sum of ten pounds and I declare that my great grandson James Whitaker, the only child of my granddaughter, Nancy Whitaker, shall take his mother’s share of the last named legacy to which she would have been entitled if living. To divide the residue of the said monies and effects into five equal parts and to pay them in the following manner.  One part to my son William Thornber of Pendleton, farmer’s servant, one to my daughter Mary, the wife of William Mitchell of Pendleton, labourer, one to my daughter Catherine, the wife of Thomas Peel, aforesaid.  One share to go equally among the children of my daughter, Alice, the late wife of said James Lambert.  One share to go equally among the children of my daughter, Ellen, the late wife of David Dawson of Pendleton, labourer. And I do hereby declare that I have omitted my son, Thomas Thornber, from any participation under this my will because I allowed him to become several years ago, and he now is, a farmer in the farm which I occupy under LeGendre Nicholas Starkie Esquire, and the farming stock and implements of husbandry (but not the household furniture and effects) at Whymond Houses without him paying to me a consideration for so doing.

Dated 9th May 1865.  Alice signed.  Witnesses were Wm. Smith of Eshton Terrace, Clitheroe and John Hayhurst, Wheelwright of Clitheroe.  

In a codicil of  19 November 1867, Alice made special provision for some household effects to go to her son Thomas, her grandchildren Richard and Mary Dawson, and her granddaughter Sarah Mitchell. Witnesses were Wm. Smith and P R Hargreaves, clerks with Mr.  Dixon Robinson, Solicitor, Clitheroe Castle.  The will was proved at Lancaster on 10 October 1868.  Under £450 including leaseholds.

Footnote 3    The Will of John Thornber son of John Thornber and Alice Briggs

John Thornber of Pendleton near Clitheroe, yeoman, died on 9 December 1904 and Richard Tomlinson, a farmer of Pendleton was the executor.  The key genealogical information is as follows:  

I give to my son William, whose residence I do not know, the sum of £50 if he shall personally claim the same sum from my executor within 12 months from my decease and (if not claimed) the said sum to become part of the legacy payable to my daughter Ann Tomlinson (neé Thornber)

I give to my daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Thornber, the widow of my son John, the sum of £70 and I declare that if the said Elizabeth shall die within my lifetime leaving a child or children who shall survive me and reach the age of 21 years or marry, then such child or children shall take in equal shares the said legacy of £70.  I give devise and bequeath all my real and personal estate whatsoever and wheresoever subject to the payments of my debts and testamentary expenses and the above legacies of £50 and £70, to my daughter Ann Tomlinson the wife of the said Richard Tomlinson, for her own use and benefit absolutely.

Will made 30 May 1904.  John made his mark.  Witnesses were Wm. Self Weeks, Solicitor of Clitheroe and Hartley Baldwin, Solicitor, Clitheroe.  Probate was granted on 17th February 1905 at Lancaster to Richard Tomlinson.

From this we discover that of John’s five children, (William, Ann or Nancy, John, James and Henry), that John has already died and that James and Henry may have died without issue.

Footnote 4.

I am grateful to Sharon Fry in New Zealand for pointing out the following entry in the probate index

Thomas Thornber of Pendleton near Clitheroe in the County of Lancaster, Shopkeeper, died 31 Oct 1884 at Pendleton, was proved at Lancaster by Richard Tomlinson, farmer and Richard Dawson, labourer, the nephews, both of Pendleton, executors.

Footnote 5.

Information on the children of William Thornber and Mary Inskip comes from the wills of Mary's father Richard Inskip and her father's cousin Matthew Ainsworth.  The key genealogical features are shown below.  

Will of Matthew Ainsworth, dated 4 August 1806.

And I do hereby give and bequeath unto the six children of William Thornber and Mary his wife deceased, the grandchildren of Richard Inskip, to wit Betty the wife of Robert Seed, John Thornber, Mary the wife of Richard Chippendale, Catherine Thornber, Jane Thornber and Ellen Thornber the sum of one hundred and sixty pounds equally to be divided among them, share and share alike.

Will of Richard Inskip, dated 2 April 1807.

I give unto my six grandchildren John Thornber, Betty Thornber, Mary Thornber, Katherine Thornber, Jane Thornber, and Ellen Thornber the sum of £100 to be equally divided amongst them, share and share alike.

Will of Joseph Jackson of Lane Ends, Parish of Mitton, 26 May 1781

The will mentions Joseph's granddaughter, Mary, the wife of William Thornber of Baygate. A Giles Thornber was a witness.

Footnote 6

I am grateful to Carole Parkes for the information that Benjamin Thornber married Emma Wildman in September 1893 and had at least five children from the census returns. They were Albert Edward, in 1895; John William in 1897; Mary Alice in 1900; Sarah Ellen in 1902 and Frederick Victor in 1904 all born in Nelson except Albert Edward who was born in Brierfield.

Footnote 7

Article from a Clitheroe Newspaper of 22 November 1929 regarding the death of Mrs. Margaret Ann Thornber neé Eastham.

Mrs. Margaret Thornber, who died at Colne on Wednesday, was an old Clitheronian proud of her native town and possessing a fund of reminiscences of the old borough. Seventy-nine years old, Mrs. Thornber was the widow of Mr. John Thornber, a brother of Mr. Adam Thornber who died a few weeks ago. Her maiden name was Eastham and she was a sister of Mrs. W. J. Hartley of Chatburn and the late Mrs. W. R Dugdale. Although she had lived "on the other side of the hill" for many years, Mrs. Thornber maintained close interest in Clitheroe affairs and nobody read the columns of this journal with greater zest. She read every word the paper contained week by week and though out of the town had probably a greater knowledge of local happenings than many who live in the town. Mr. Thornber was raised in a hard school, beginning work at a very early age and receiving nothing like the education now available for all. She had a retentive memory and great resources of good humour enlivened her recollections of the past. Not long ago, she penned an interesting letter to the editor recalling the time when the Spa Well at Claremont was used for domestic purposes in the Goosebutts district. Mrs. Thornber had many relatives and friends in Clitheroe and they mourn the passing of a fine old lady who faced every trouble with a stout heart and set an example of cheerfulness. The internment takes place at Foulridge today (Friday)

Note that Margaret Ann Eastham was born in 1850. It was not until 1870 that legislation was passed to provide elementary education to the age of 11 for all children. Initially it cost a penny a week but after a few years the charge was dropped.

I am grateful to Colin Brown for the picture below showing Margaret Ann Eastham, seated on the left, her mother Ellen neé Seed and her younger sister Emmeline


Margaret Eastham
Margaret Ann Eastham, seated on the left



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