The Edmondsons of Briercliffe with Extwistle

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Edmondsons - the beginning

But who were the Edmondsons and where did they come from?

The surname Edmondson emerged as a notable family name in Edinburgshire, Scotland, where the family is recorded as "being of great antiquity, seated, with manor and estates in that shire".

The family name, with all its varied spellings, was first brought to Scotland by the Norman nobleman, Edmundus, who accompanied Queen Margaret when she came to Scotland to marry Malcolm III in the year 1070 AD.

Frequently, but mistakenly, the Normans are thought to be of French origin. More correctly they were of Viking origin, having landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland as early as 870 AD, under their King, Stiergent the Stout. Some seventy years later, a descendant of Stiergent namely Thorfinn Rollo, landed in France and after defeating the French King, married his daughter, converted to Christianity and became the first Duke of Normandy. It was his descendant, William, who in 1066 AD invaded and conquered England.

It was four years after the Norman Conquest that the name Edmondson became known in Scotland, for Edmund quickly rose to great eminence and his descendants took his name as their surname. Over the next few centuries the family moved into Midlothian, Stirlingshire and Roxboroughshire and eventually over the border into England, where they held estates in Yorkshire.

I cannot prove any direct family connections with these Yorkshire families, though the name Edmondson is, if anything, even more popular there than in Lancashire. The border between Lancashire and Yorkshire has been altered several times over the years and even today, Briercliffe with Extwistle shares a common boundary with North Yorkshire at one point and one cannot preclude the possibility that our proud Lancashire heritage may have had its feet in Yorkshire!

During the 19th century several family members gave Yorkshire as their place of birth on the census, and we know of at least one family wedding taking place at Marton-in-Craven. As the crow flies, we are talking of a distance of some five or six miles separating Briercliffe and Marton and while I would have liked to research that area across the border, I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the Yorkshire Record Office at North Allerton, nor to have a good look at the area around Marton in Craven.

The earliest reference to the name Edmondson that I have seen is in the Court Rolls of the Ancient Manor of Ightenhill, dated "1st May, in the 31st year of the reign of our good Lord and King Henry VIII" - (which I make out to be 1540) and it reads as follows:

"William Edmondson fined 6/8d for trespass and breach of contract. The jury awarded the sum of 25/- in damages to Geoffrey Shaklyden versus Lawrence Hargreaves of Barrowford (Lawrence Hargreaves v John Hartley, alias Trock. 13/4d and William Edmondson 6/8d. Five shillings to be retained in the hands of John, son of Henry Mitton and executor of Henry Hartley."

It has not been possible to prove a family link with this early William for the parish registers of St Peters Burnley do not pre-date the Commonwealth period, when church records were abandoned by Oliver Cromwell in lieu of state records. It was not until the restoration of Charles II that record keeping was restored to the church authorities, thus leaving a considerable gap of many years in the parish registers, which today form the most accurate sources for family history.

History tells us that during the Commonwealth period, these things were left in the hands of lay men, who were called Parish Clerks. Frequently these men were neither sufficiently well educated nor sufficiently well paid, to carry out these clerical functions and it is therefore not surprising that many events went unrecorded.

For example, it was deemed to be sufficient notification of a marriage, that the couple should stand on the steps of the church and proclaim their intention before notifying the parish clerk in due course, and so, it was not until 1678 that we find, in the parish registers of St Peters Burnley, the marriage of the first Allen Edmondson, who, in the lack of proof to the contrary, will have to be assumed to be the founder member of the present family.

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