Bashforths in early Seventeenth Century Yorkshire (1600-1660)

By the end of the sixteenth century, the Bashforth name (mostly in its variant forms of Basforth and Basford) was beginning to appear in Yorkshire, where the Bashforth form eventually evolved (though the other spellings also continued).

The establishment of family lines in Yorkshire was somewhat disrupted by the events of the English Civil War (1642-1649) and the Commonwealth (1650-1660), after which parish registration recovered and began to settle down into something more reliable as a means of family history research. The period from 1600-1660 therefore represents a useful chronological field in which to explore the family’s distribution. As always, there is the cautionary warning that written records do not distinguish between the short ‘a’ pronunciation deriving from Cheshire and Staffordshire, and the long ‘a’ pronunciation deriving from Nottinghamshire [Baseford].

One locality dominates the records for the name during 1600-1660, that is the parish of Ecclesfield, where records are consistent throughout the century. Potentially related to this group are records towards mid-century in Sheffield, immediately to the south, and Penistone just to the north-west. I will deal with these townships, along with Rotherham, in a separate essay concerning South-West Yorkshire, which is more important in the emergence of the final Bashforth spelling. What follows concerns places outside this immediate part of Yorkshire.

Ledsham is a parish five miles north of Pontefract. There was a series of baptisms of children to a man called variously John Basford or John Basforth from 1606-1617. These were John 16 November 1606, Prudence and her twin sister Elizabeth 6 April 1609, Edward 14 June 1612, Susanna 1 June 1615 and Jana (Jane?) 6 July 1617. Apart from ‘John’, none of these forenames were used by the Ecclesfield branch of the family, therefore a link is doubtful. There is no longer term connection to this parish.

There are two possible links to the family in Ledsham elsewhere in Yorkshire. The first is to the city of York. An Edward Basford both baptised and buried a daughter, Dorothy at St Michael le Belfrey, the church adjacent to the Minster at York, on 2 November 1648 and 13 January 1650 respectively, and could be the son of John Basford. Similarly an Elizabeth Basford (or Baresford) married Thomas Wood at the same place circa 1638. The surname variant given raises the question as to whether this is a corruption of the name Beresford, but this could conceivably be one of the twin daughters of John Basford of Ledsham. If so, this might suggest that this family moved from Ledsham to York.

The second possible link is to the baptism of a child Nicholas Basford on 27 December 1639, presumably born out of wedlock, to an Elizabeth Basford, at Throapham, near Dinnington, almost 40 miles to the south of Ledsham. There is a series of other events, both baptisms and burials at Throapham in the same period, which would suggest the presence of more than one family of the name in that parish, of whom Elizabeth may have been a member. Nicholas, the son of Ralph Basforth was buried 25 June 1621, and Ralph himself was buried on 27 December 1622. Ellin, the daughter of William Basford, was buried on 10 March 1635. In the same year, on 14 August 1635, Francis Basford married Elizabeth Brounde or Broune. There were no children of theirs baptised. Nicholas Basforth baptised a son John on 4 March 1637, while Ralph Basford baptised a son John on 20 January 1639. William Basford baptised a daughter Allis 14 February 1639.

What is apparent from a comparison with the Ecclesfield parish registers is the close similarity of the chosen baptismal names to families there: Francis, William, Nicholas, Ralph, Elizabeth. Not surprising when one compares the events attributed to Throapham on the Family Search website with the Ecclesfield parish registers. The illegitimate birth and all except the three records highlighted above in italics appear in the Ecclesfield registers. All the late 17th century Basford/Basforth events attributed to Throapham likewise appear in the Ecclesfield register!

Throapham lies just short of 20 miles to the south east of Ecclesfield, beyond Rotherham. While it is conceivable that there was some movement of the family between the two parishes, there is no earthly reason why the two parish registers should duplicate each other in such an extensive way.

Researchers into the family name are advised to completely discount the references to the family at Throapham on the Family Search website, as these are more likely to be records from Ecclesfield, incorrectly attributed.

The three records that appear to be additional to what has been found in the Ecclesfield register will need to be checked against the Bishops Transcripts, as they may be genuine, either for Ecclesfield or Throapham.

There may be an explanation for this oddity. The church in Ecclesfield suffered a break in and robbery from the parish chest at some point close to this period, and parts of the parish registers were lost. Have they ended up mixed in with the records at Throapham?