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Genealogy and Nottinghamshire, England

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Introduction

This page is devoted to the county of Nottinghamshire, England, and covers the origin of its name, an outline of its history and geography, links to other web sites concerned with the county, genealogical resources relating to the county and the same types of information in more detail for those cities, towns and villages in the county in which I have a family history interest. In doing this, it is not my intention to duplicate unnecessarily, nor to compete with, web pages which already do some of those things, but to complement such pages and provide links to them, with appropriate description of what they have to offer.

My wife, her father and his father's ancestors, and some of her mother's siblings were born in Nottinghamshire, so it is a major area of interest to me.

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Origins of the Name

The shire based on Nottingham, first referred to in the 11th century, when it had an S at the beginning. The name Nottingham came from Old English Snot + inga + ham, meaning the homestead of the family of a man named Snot.

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Geography

Nottinghamshire is roughly eliptical, with a slight leaning to the east, and is situated in the north-east Midlands of England. It is bounded by Leicestershire to the south, Lincolnshire to the east, Yorkshire to the north and Derbyshire to the west. It extends about 50 miles from north to south and a maximum of 27 miles from east to west.

Except for a small area in the west, where it includes a little of the limestone Pennines, it is relatively low-lying, either gently undulating or flat, and geologically divides into two distinct main areas, low sandstone hills to the west and flattish clay to the east, with some fertile alluvial areas in the south and along the River Trent in the extreme east. It is basically an agricultural county, although the rich coalfield under the sand and limestone has led to considerable industrial development in the western half.

Nottinghamshire has only two rivers of significance, of which by far the most important is the Trent, England's third longest river. This enters the county in the south-west, where Derbyshire and Leicestershire meet, flows roughly north-eastwards across the county until it meets the middle of the eastern boundary. It then forms most of the northern half of the border with Lincolnshire before cutting across north Lincolnshire to the Humber estuary. The second river is the Idle, which has its source just over the border in Derbyshire, flows north-east across half the width of the county, then turns north through East Retford and Bawtry before turning east again to join the Trent. The smaller River Soar forms part of the boundary with Leicestershire before joining the Trent where that river enters Nottinghamshire. There are other, minor, tributaries of the Trent in other areas, but none of navigable size.

By far the largest urban area is the city of Nottingham, located at the southern end of the coalfield. It grew up as a major market town, developed large industries for making hosiery and lace, then diversified into bicycles, tobacco and pharmaceuticals and now supports a great range of light and heavy industry. It nevertheless remains a clean, attractive city with many buildings in white Portland stone and numerous areas of green parks. As one of its graduates I am perhaps biased in considering its university (photo 22,035 bytes), in its lakeside parkland setting, one of Britain's most beautiful buildings. Other important Nottinghamshire towns are Mansfield, Newark and Worksop, but their combined population is less than half that of the city.

Despite its industrial town and villages, the west of the county is still largely agricultural, and contains the remnants of once mighty Sherwood Forest (which once stretched 25 miles form Nottingham to Worksop), as well as several great public parks which were once stately homes in the area known as the Dukeries. This name came from the fact that four 18th century dukes lived as neighbours in this area - the grounds of their homes are some of the parks mentioned. Newstead Abbey, once the home of the poet Lord Byron, is also found here not far north of Nottingham. Traditionally the sandy soils in this part of the county have been used mainly to grow barley and to rear sheep, while the heavy clays to the east have been used for wheat, beans and cattle, with sugar beet of major importance since its introduction.

The ancient Great North Road (now the A1 trunk road) passes through the eastern side of the county, through Newark and Retford, while the modern M1 motorway goes up the west, passing close to Nottingham and Mansfield, the two roads meeting just over the Yorkshire boundary near Doncaster. The old Fosse Way (now the A46 trunk road) runs north east to south west across the southern part of the county, from Lincoln through Newark and on to Leicester and beyond.

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History

Some of the earliest traces of human activity ever found in Britain were discovered at Creswell Crags, an area shared between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. In the caves at this spot men cooked and ate locally caught hippopotamus and rhinoceros, with the remains being eaten by hyenas. Paleolithic carvings were also found there. The caves were inhabited before and after (but not during) two separate ice ages, thousands of years apart. Other ancient cave dwellings exist at Rock Hill, Mansfield and at Nottingham. Not so old, but also from the Stone Age, a neolithic burial was found at Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Other ancient remains include a tumulus at Potter's Hill, near Collingham, both Stone Age and Bronze Age remains at the Roman settlement near East Bridgford and two hill forts near Farnsfield. Hundreds of piles driven into the bed of the River Trent near Nottingham are thought to have supported huts about 400BC, and two canoes found in the Trent near Clifton are considered to be over 2,000 years old.

The Romans seem to have been active in Nottinghamshire throughout their occupation of the country. Two of their main roads pass through, the Fosse Way (Lincoln to Exeter) diagonally across the south, passing through Newark, where the road just reached but did not cross the Trent, and the Lincoln to Doncaster road in the north. There were at least five Roman stations in the county, including Vernometum on the Fosse Way near Willoughby, Bilborough, Newark (I do not know their Roman names), Margidunum, also on the Fosse Way at East Bridgford and Segelocum at Littleborough, where the Lincoln to Doncaster road crossed the Trent. There was a ford at the latter in the time of Hadrian, and later a ferry. Margidunum was an important settlement throughout the Roman occupation, covering 7 acres, enough to hold 1,000 men plus some cavalry. Roman coins from Constantine (emperor 306-337 AD), Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) and Vespasian (69-79 AD) have also been found at Mansfield. There are also the remains of a suspected Roman bridge over the Trent at Winthorpe.

The county remained important in Saxon times, when Mercian kings had a residence at Mansfield and a castle, called the Key to the North, was first built at Newark. In 617 AD Battle of Idel took place at Eaton - Redwald of Anglia killed Ethelfrith, usurper of the throne of Northumbria, and restored Edwin to that position. Later the Danes used the Trent as a ready means of access to the centre of the country, and made Nottingham their main fortress against attacks by Saxons from further south.

The Normans, as elsewhere, used castles to help impose their will on the conquered Saxons, rebuilding that at Newark and building another at Nottingham. Both towns remained of great importance throughout the Middle Ages, which is when coal mining began in Nottingham. Many mediæval kings frequently visited the county to hunt the deer in the royal forest of Sherwood, and King John died in Newark Castle.

The end of the Wars of the Roses is generally accepted as marking the end of the mediæval period in England. Its final and conclusive battle took place at East Stoke in 1487, when Henry VII destroyed a Yorkist army (nominally supporting the fake claims of the duped youth Lambert Simnel). The defeated Yorkist army included 5,000 men recruited in Ireland and 1,500 German mercenaries. Between 6,000 and 7,000 men died in the battle. The rebel leader, the Earl of Lincoln (who had some real claim to the throne and planned to take over when the dust had settled) was among the casualties. He had earlier been spared and had sworn loyalty to Henry after fighting for Richard III on the losing side at Bosworth in 1485.

Both Nottingham and Newark played an important role in the Civil War. It was at Nottingham that Charles I raised his standard to begin the war, and later Nottingham Castle, held for the Parliamentary side by Colonel Hutchinson, successfully withstood a siege. Newark Castle was unsuccessfully besieged three times by Cromwell's Parliamentary forces, who constructed earthworks at Sconce Hills (then just outside the town) which remain probably the best preserved such works from that war in the country. Like many others, both castles were demolished when the war was over.

The site and stones of Nottingham Castle were used by the Duke of Newcastle to build an imposing palace for his own use, but this was burnt down during the machine breakers' riots in the 19th century. The mansion built on the site 40 years later is now a museum.

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Laxton Mediæval Field System

At Laxton Nottinghamshire has the only surviving example of the mediæval strip field system still in operation. The arable land is divided into three fields (named Mill Field, South Field and West Field) of 300 acres each. These are cultivated on a three course annual rotation consisting of winter grain, spring grain and fallow, with the stubbles and the fallow field being grazed by the tenants' livestock.

Each of the two fields in cultivation at any one time is divided into strips, separated by grass paths which are used for access and for a communal hay crop. Each tenant is allocated ten strips, more or less randomly distributed across the two fields. The allocation is carried out annually by a jury, and was originally intended to ensure a fair allocation of good and poor land among the tenants. The jury is elected each year by the tenants to carry out this function and to impose fines (via the manorial court) on any transgressors against the rules. The whole system is presided over by the lord of the manor, who receives rent from the tenants for their land.

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Web Pages about Nottinghamshire

A fair amount of information about the county and its history can be found on the Newark Advertiser (local newspaper) site.

Nottinghamshire County Council site gives much general information about the county, and the council has now set up a specialist Nottinghamshire tourism site.

Pictures and information about Nottingham can be found on this site, which I think is professional.

Sherwood Forest has its own web site.

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Genealogical Resources for Nottinghamshire

The UK Genealogy Interests Directory, a new and growing facility, has a page of surname interests in Nottinghamshire.

As with other counties, the first port of call for on-line genealogists should be the Nottinghamshire GENUKI site.

Nottinghamshire Local History Association will be of interest to some family history researchers.

Nottinghamshire Family History Society should be of major interest to all family history researchers with interests in the county.

Nottinghamshire Lookup Exchange is a list of volunteers willing to do free lookups, as and when they have time, in resources they happen to have available to them.

The Broxtowe Hundred site is worth a look for those with an interest in that part of the county.

Nottinghamshire surnames list lists names other people are researching. There is a separate web site to add your names to the list.

The following are the web sites of other Nottinghamshire family history researchers. At the time of writing I have just received this list from David Litchfield (owner of the last site on the list), and haven't had time yet to look at them. Once I have done so I may comment further on what you can find there:

http://www.footstepspast.co.uk/

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/steven.ashley/

http://ley-family-tree.rootschat.net/

http://www.angelfire.com/al/aslc/

http://www.beeston-notts.co.uk/

http://www1.tribalpages.com/tribe/browse?userid=alfred&rand=669199344

http://www.sheilakhan.100megsfree5.com/

http://www.theaker.info/

http://www.maxpages.com/spendlove

http://www.tribalpages.com/tribes/lindak53

http://www.freewebs.com/lindak53

http://www.alanwhitaker.co.uk/

http://www.greasleyparish.com/

http://cornish-family.netfirms.com/gc2.htm

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/brianh.taylor/

http://www.thesorensens.net/

http://www.mts.net/~bydesign/RUS/Guide.htm

http://home.clara.net/daibevan/index.htm

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/grenville.astill1

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~davidlitchfield

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If you have a major interest in Nottinghamshire genealogy, you can join a mailing list devoted to the subject. The list owner, Hugh Winters, has asked me to give the following joining instructions:

Nottingham Mailing List-NOTTSGEN

For people researching their ancestors in the England county of Nottingham.

This is a discussion area for anyone who has an interest in genealogy related to the England County of Nottingham, the surnames you are researching, and the sharing of any data related to the history of Nottingham which would help genealogists researching in this area.

It is hoped that the genealogists would like to contribute the following:

  1. The names they are researching in the county.
  2. Any important info about Nottingham that other genealogists on the list would like to share with others.
  3. Background information about the life and times of the county that may help researchers understand the environment their ancestors lived in.

To subscribe to the list, send a message to:

NOTTSGEN-L-request@rootsweb.com

and put

subscribe

in the body of the message (not the subject line - anything you put in the subject line is ignored). You DO NOT have to leave the subject line blank. It is IGNORED except to quote it back to you if there is an error.

Anyone with ancestors in Nottinghamshire is welcome to join.

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A map of Nottinghamshire parishes has been made available by Clive Henly.

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Nottinghamshire Stray Marriages

I have added a page of some Nottinghamshire marriages in which one or both participants came from a different parish from that in which the marriage took place. There is an alphabetic index of male, and of female, names.

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Nottinghamshire Stray Wills

This extra page is a list of people who were living in the places shown in Nottinghamshire when they wrote their wills, but died (and the wills were proved) in Derbyshire.

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Some Nottinghamshire Parish Registers

I now have a set of pages of transcriptions (with a surname index) of some 17th century parish registers, all in the Southwell area. The original parchments are held in Southwell. The parishes concerned, and the years for which the registers are available, are:

Beckingham: 1634, 1637, 1641
Bleasby: 1633
Blidworth: 1638
Calverton: 1617, 1623
Cropwell Bishop: 1638, 1641
Darlton: 1622, 1633, 1641
Dunham: 1641
Edingley: 1638
Farnsfield: 1623
Halam: 1622, 1637
Halloughton: 1622, 1633, 1641
Holme: 1623, 1625, 1628, 1638, 1641
Kirklington: 1622, 1638
Morton: 1622, 1623
North Muskham: 1623, 1633, 1638
South Muskham: 1623
Norwell: 1638, 1641
Oxton: 1622
Ragnall: 1623
Southwell: 1633, 1641
Tithby: 1625
Upton: 1633, 1638
Woodborough: 1623, 1627, 1637, 1638, 1640

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Nottinghamshire 1841 Census Strays

Some people found on the 1841 census in other counties who were born in Nottinghamshire are listed on this page, with a surname index linked to the household entry concerned.

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Nottinghamshire 1851 Census Strays

Some people found on the 1851 census in other counties who were born in Nottinghamshire are listed on this page, in alphabetical order with the full reference to the original schedule.

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Nottinghamshire 1861 Census Strays

Some people found on the 1861 census in other counties who were born in Nottinghamshire are listed on this page, with a surname index linked to the household entry concerned.

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Nottinghamshire 1881 Census Strays

Some people found on the 1881 census in other counties who were born in Nottinghamshire are listed on this page.

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Nottinghamshire 1891 Census Strays

People found on the 1891 census in Nottinghamshire in a parish other than the one in which they were born are listed on this page for an increasing number of parishes, with a surname index linked to the household entry concerned.

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Nottinghamshire Marriage Licences

Transcriptions of Nottinghamshire marriage licences are now being made available on a separate page.

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A Nottinghamshire Bibliography

R. Thoroton: Antiquities of Nottinghamshire (1677) First history of the county, and reputedly a good one (I haven't yet seen it). An expanded edition in 1796 by John Throsby in 3 volumes covers the north of the county less well than the south.
G.A. Cook: Topographical and Statistical Description of Nottinghamshire (1810).
F.C. Laird: Beauties of England and Wales - Nottinghamshire (1813)
J. Curtis: Topographical History of Nottinghamshire (1843-4). Contains extensive quotes from Thoroton.
T. Bailey: Annals of Nottinghamshire (1853-5). Important events in chronological order, but no sources cited.
C. Brown: Popular County History - Nottinghamshire (1891)
W. White directory 1832, updated by others 1844, 1853, then "regularly".
J. Ward published bibliographies of Nottinghamshire history, including lists of documents in institutions and in private hands in 1891 and 1896. Lord Belper produced a similar bibliography in 1915.
Journal of Lincoln Diocesan Architectural Society (which later became the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Architectural and Archeological Society).
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Notes and Queries (6 volumes, 1893-1898)
Thoroton Society: Transactions (annual from 1897)
H. Hampton Copnall: Nottinghamshire Quarter Sessions Records 1604-1700 (1915)
K. Tweedale Meaby: Nottinghamshire Quarter Sessions Records 1701-1800 (1947)
Thoroton Society record series (38 volumes 1903-1990); includes Bishop's Transcripts, poll books, inquests, probate inventories, lists of clergy, etc.
W.P.W. Phillimore: Pre-1812 Marriage Register Transcripts (219 parishes published 1898-1938)
W. Page (ed): Victoria County History of Nottinghamshire (2 volumes, 1907 and 1910); this was the first to cover social and economic history.
Chambers: Nottinghamshire in the Eighteenth Century: A Survey of Life and Labour under the Squirearchy (1932)
Chambers: The Vale of Trent, 1670-1800: A Regional Study of Economic Change (1957); an expanded version of the previous volume
A.C. Wood: Nottinghamshire in the Civil War
A. Cossons: The Turnpike Roads of Nottinghamshire (published jointly by the Historical and Geographical Associations)
W.E. Tate: The Parish Chest contains many Nottinghamshire examples
A.C. Wood: History of Nottinghamshire covers from Roman times to 1832
J. Glover, A. Mawer & F. Stenton: Place-Names of Nottinghamshire (1940)
N. Pevsner: Buildings of England - Nottinghamshire (1951)
D. Kaye: Nottinghamshire (1987, Darwin County History series)
C. Weir: The Nottinghamshire heritage (1991)
A. Mee: The King's England - Nottinghamshire (Hodder and Stoughton, 1938)

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Some Places in Nottinghamshire

This page has become too large, so my descriptions of selected towns and villages (i.e. those of family history interest to me) are now on a separate page. The towns and villages concerned are Bulwell, Cropwell Bishop, Holme Pierrepoint, Mansfield, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottingham, Radcliffe-on-Trent, Sneinton, Tollerton and lots of information about Newark-on-Trent (29 pages of geography, history, photos, old street map, surnames interests lists, etc.).

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My Surname Interests in Nottinghamshire

ARCHER, 17th century, Tollerton
ASHTON, 18th century, Newark
ATHEIS, 19th century, Newark
ATHEIS, 18th century, Radcliffe-on-Trent
BALL, 19th century, Mansfield
DICKISSON 17th-18th century, Radcliffe-on-Trent
DUKE, 17th century, Holme Pierrepont
DUKE, 18th century, Nottingham
DUKE, 18th century, Radcliffe-on-Trent
HOPKINSON, 18th century, Newark
HUTCHINSON, 18th-19th centuries, Newark
LANGLEY, 17th-18th century, Bulwell
MARSH, 19th century, Newark
SHAW, 18th-19th centuries, Mansfield
SHAW, 19th-20th centuries, Newark
SMITH, 18th century, Newark
STONE, 18th century, Cropwell Bishop
STONE, 17th century, Radcliffe-on-Trent
TRU(E)MAN, 18th century, Bulwell
TRU(E)MAN, 18th century, Radcliffe-on-Trent
WARD, 19th-20th centuries, Mansfield Woodhouse
WARD, 20th century, Sneinton
WILCOX, 20th century, Mansfield

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Acknowledgements

The following have provided information which I have paraphrased on this page:

C.R.J Currie and C.P.Lewis A Guide to English County Histories (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1994), ISBN 0-7509-1505-6.

A. Room: Dictionary of British Place Names (1988), ISBN 1 85605 1775.

A.D. Mills: A Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford University Press, 1991, revised 1995), ISBN 0-19-869156-4.

A. Mee: The King's England - Nottinghamshire (Hodder and Stoughton, 1938).

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