In the Spring of 1994 I took a walk back through time, visiting family houses once occupied by my ancestors. The oldest were the farmhouses of Hawksheath and Turnerford, situated on Burn Moor at Keasden, lying halfway between Settle and Bentham. Hawksheath is where Christopher Remington, the head of a new branch of the family, came at the beginning of the 1600's to farm. His family and descendants all worshipped at the Parish Church in Clapham, where records of their births, marriages and deaths were kept. However, 100 years later, Christopher's great-grandson, William, joined the Quakers at Bentham, and, soon after, left home to join the Friends at Briggflatts near Sedbergh. For 60 years he and his family lived and worked on the farm at Archer's Hall nearby.
William was head of my branch of the family, and in 1805 his grandson, Michael built Tynefield House in Penrith, Cumberland, our family home for the next 150 years. I was born in Tynefield House during the First World War and lived there until the Second World War. Much information has been handed down to me about the family in William and Michael's days, but I know virtually nothing about the family before that. Early information about the history of families is regrettably difficult to come by, but it is possible, using political and social records, to speculate how each generation may have lived during the reign of each monarch, and this is what I have done, but obviously such details can only be assumed.
Christopher Remington, the head of the three main branches of the family, was born in 1588 in the reign of Elizabeth I of England. He lived through five reigns and died in 1663. As a small boy during the strong, united rule of Elizabeth, he and his family would most probably have led a peaceful life. Even so, the standard of living was poor. Most rooms and privies smelled, and fleas abounded. Water supplies were poor and plague, typhoid and smallpox were rife.
In 1603 James I came to the throne and, although an able man, he disagreed bitterly with parliament and caused distress in the churches to the extent that Catholics planned to blow up the King and Parliament. Plague also swept the country three times during his reign and there were as many as a thousand deaths a week. As a result, many people moved away, some even to America, in search of a better life. It was probably due to these conditions that Christopher Remington left home and eventually established himself at Hawksheath farm. Being of yeoman stock, he would have had no difficulty in finding a job before setting up on his own to farm.
The farmhouse was always called Hawkshouse in the parish records and I do not know when the present house was built, so it is possible Christopher and his family lived at first in a one room thatched barn with stone walls. At one end of the building there would have been a chimney for a fire for warmth and cooking. I am told there is an old chimney stack in the present building. In the centre of the room would have been a long, thick, oak table with benches to sit for eating, and the other end of the room would be where they slept, possibly in communal beds.
When Christopher died, the list of his personal effects attached to his will suggests he had the barest of essentials, but at least life would have been healthier than it was in the towns and cities. This life must have suited him since he lived till the age of 75. He had married Elizabeth, of unrecorded parentage. Their first child, Thome, was born on 5th July 1609, but he died young. Their second son, Thomas, was born on 30th December 1610 in Hawkshouse, and he was followed by Robert in 1611 and Christopher in 1618. They were all christened in Clapham parish church.
These three boys would have been brought up on Hawksheath farm and would be expected to help their father on the farm, as local labour was difficult to come by and farmers relied on their families to help and eventually to take over. Schooling was not considered necessary for life on a farm, so when all three made their wills (copies of which I hold) none could sign his name.
When Charles I came to the throne in 1625, the three boys were in their teens and their father was 37 years old. The family would have been living a very busy farming life at Hawksheath, breeding cattle and sheep for wool, meat, hides and skins. Perhaps a small acreage of roots and kale would have been grown to supplement their feed during the winter months. There may have been a small herb and kitchen garden and Christopher's wife may have kept a few hens. Life would have been very routine, apart from a two mile walk to Clapham church on Sundays and a five mile walk to Settle on market days. Possible visits to neighbouring farms and village inns may have provided a little pleasure in an otherwise hard life.
With the increase in the size of the family, a larger house would have been required, so an upper storey for more bedrooms would have been built, entrance possibly being gained by outside steps. Inside stairs, partitioning of rooms with ceilings and raised floors came later.
As I wandered around admiring the house and farm buildings, I heard the call of a hawk and saw in the distance two birds displaying, and thought how apt were the names for the house and farm. I wondered who first gave the names.
Thomas and Robert both started families quite early in life. All their children were christened in Clapham parish church and were registered as children of Thomas of Turnerford and Robert of Hawksheath. Thomas probably moved into Turnerford farm soon after he was married.
Thomas, the eldest son, had five sons and one daughter. There are no records of what happened to three of the sons, but one son died young, leaving Robertus the fourth son (born 1641) to help his father Thomas on Turnerford farm.
Robert, the second son, had three daughters and two sons. The eldest son, Christopher, died young or moved away, leaving the younger son, Laurantus (born 1646), to help his father, Robert, and his grandfather, Christopher, on Hawksheath farm.
There is not much information available about Thomas' and Robert's brother, Christopher (old Christopher's third son) except that he had one son called Laurentij, who died on 2nd November 1710. They both lived at Hawkshouse, but because there is no information in the church records, it is possible that the father may have moved away, leaving his son in the care of his grandparents.
The reign of Charles I, in which Thomas, Robert and Christopher, the sons of Christopher the elder, grew up, was spent in a series of tussles with parliament, mainly over money and religion, ending in battle between Cavaliers and Roundheads which resulted in the monarch losing his life. These troubles would probably have had little effect on the family on the moors, since such news may not come their way except at church on Sundays, on Market days or in the inns. Young men avoided these places for fear of being press-ganged into Cromwell's army.
In 1649 Cromwell elected himself Lord High Protector of the Commonwealth. He accepted the Christian faith but no Popery. The church was purged and everyone had to attend for the good of their souls, although Quakers and Jews were allowed to practice their religion.
Most people at that time wore black. Men wore breeches, jackets, overcoats and black hats. Women wore black dresses with white accessories. Laws were passed against betting and adultery, also village social activities, which people revolted against. Children were treated more sternly and boys were put to learn early from churchmen and at schools, whilst girls learned at home. This was the atmosphere in which the families of Thomas and Robert grew up.
Christopher, the elder, died in July 1663 and was buried in Clapham churchyard. Robert took over Hawksheath farm and Thomas continued to farm Turnerford.
Thomas's son, Robertas, and Robert's son, Laurantus, both married in Clapham church, in 1663 and 1668. Robertas had three sons, the two youngest dying young, whilst the eldest, Robert (born 1664) survived and stayed at home to help his father on Turnerford farm, eventually taking over when his father died. Robert married Mary Smith in Clapham church on 3rd May 1684. They had two sons, both of whom died young, and five daughters, one of whom married and moved away, leaving four for whom we have no records. This saw the end of the era of the Remingtons at Turnerford.
Laurantus, who was helping his father Robert to farm Hawksheath, married Jenetta Norham in August 1668. They had three daughters and three sons. The eldest daughter stayed at home, whilst the other two married and moved away. The eldest son, Robertas (born 1st September 1678), lived on in Hawkshouse and helped his father on the farm, eventually to take over at his death. The youngest son died young.
This left William, the second son (born 30th October 1680), who became a Quaker at a young age and left home to join the Friends at Briggflatts Meeting House near Sedbergh. It was William who became head of the Cumberland branch and the head of my branch of the Rimington family. It was at this time that our surname was changed, due to the spelling adopted by the Quakers. William must have had some education for, unlike his forebears, he was able to sign his name to some of the documents I hold.
Robertas, the eldest son of Laurantus mentioned above, had two daughters and two sons, the youngest dying young. The two daughters both married into the Cort family of Burton Bentham and moved away, whilst the eldest son also married a Burton Bentham girl. They had two daughters and one son, all dying young.
Laurantus, the father, died on 20th December 1706, at the age of 60. His death was recorded in the Clapham church register, stating that he fell off his horse while crossing the Turnerford bridge and was found drowned in the Keasden Beck below. It was a high, humped bridge at that time, and we are left to imagine that Laurantus was returning after a late night session at the local inn and may have misjudged the bridge when turning left to go up the road to Hawkshouse. I was told by the present occupant of Turnerford farm, when talking to him about the incident, that the wife of one of his predecessors had complained so much about the dangers of the bridge, that it was rebuilt at a lower and safer level, but when this happened is not clear.
This brought to an end the era of four generations of farming Remingtons at Hawksheath and Turnerford. Laurantas, however, left his mark, for on the lintel above the front door of Hawkshouse are the much worn embossed initials LR with the date 1700. They are quite certainly those of Laurantas Remington, but more research is needed to establish whether the date was when the whole house was built (which I doubt) or possibly rebuilt, or if it is the date when the front porch with the small room above was added to the existing building. It would be nice to know.
Linking the two families of Robertas of Turnerford and Laurantus of Hawksheath with the history of the time, both were born in the reign of Charles II and grew up in the reigns of James II (1685-1688) and William and Mary (1689-1702). Within a short time, James had alienated his subjects, forcing them to dethrone him and invite William and Mary to replace him as joint monarchs.
There had been attempts by Monmouth, Charles I's illegitimate son, and James I, to reseize the Crown, and press gangs were used to enrol soldiers to help them. Many feared being caught up in the conflict, ant it was an unsettling time for the country. However, it would have had little effect on this family living on the Yorkshire moors away from the more densely populated towns, where incidentally plague was still rife. William, though, may have felt a little uneasy and by becoming a Quaker may have been looking for a more secure and peaceful life.
By the end of William and Mary's reign there were signs of church reform, and people were able to practice whichever religion they wished. Book publishing restrictions were relaxed and books became more readily available. Education was also becoming popular.
The population at the beginning of 1600, in Christopher's time, was just four million, but by 1700, when William moved from Bentham, it had risen to five and a half million. There was such a shortage of houses that people had to board their workers in their own homes. William lived with the owners of Archer's Hall, Sedbergh, where he worked and raised a family, and from where he and his family were able to attend the Quaker meeting at Briggflatts, just two miles away. Before William could marry his future Quaker wife, Ann Raw of Sedbergh, two Friends were asked to find out from the Friends of Bentham whether he had already been promised or not. They eventually married on 3rd July 1706 and raised a family of three girls and three boys. Besides working on Archer's Hall farm, the notes of the Quaker meetings record that William was employed by them in building a schoolroom and also in panelling the walls of the Meeting House. Archer's Hall has some identical wall panelling, possibly also installed by William. His son became a chairmaker.
Michael, William's grandson, who built Tynefield House in Penrith in 1805, the year of the Battle of Trafalgar, became a Grocer and Banker. George, Michael's son, who took over the business, married out of the Quakers in 1805, and the family became Church of England after three generations. Tynefield House was sold by my father after the Second World War and has recently been brilliantly refurbished after having been neglected for almost forty years. Hawkshouse, Turnerford and Archer's Hall, all of which I visited, are still in a good state of repair and stand as monuments to this Craven branch of the Remington family. It is such a pity that we have no other records of this branch, but then education was so poor that none may have been made to hand down. There must have been many stories that would have made fascinating reading.
There were several other Remington families living in Craven at that time. These were at Austwick and Wharfe, also at Bentham and Ingleton to the West, Giggleswick, Settle, Stainforth and Ribblesdale to the East, and Long Preston and Gisburn to the South. I have short pedigrees for some of these, but it is difficult to determine whether any are associated with the families of Hawksheath and Turnerford or in fact with one another, so leaving a challenge for further research. Any information about the family and farms and even about the other named branches would be most welcome.
Click here for the Remington and Turnerford family tree.
Please contact me at Southcroft, Duffield Lane, Stoke Poges, Bucks, SL2 4AA.
G Philip Rimington.