South-west Yorkshire became the main centre for the names Basford and Basforth and it was here they mutated into the Bashforth form. In the period to 1660, which covers the disruptive and unsettled period of the English Civil War (1642-49) and the Commonwealth (1650-1660), there were isolated references in the parish registers relating to Penistone and Rotherham. The two main centres of concentration were in Ecclesfield and Sheffield.
Penistone: Ralph Basford, yeoman of Langsett in Penistone left a will dated 30 December 1597 in which he named four children: Henry, Thomas, Anne and Ellen. The last-named daughter, Ellyn Basforth, married John Crosland in Penistone on 18 June 1609. Penistone in the early seventeenth century was an upland parish stretching well into the Pennines in the area known as the Dark Peak. Langsett itself was very much in the upland parts of the parish and it is likely that Ralph was engaged in sheep farming. As a yeoman farmer, he was well-established, though probably tenanted the land he farmed. There are no further references to the family name in the subsequent decades, so it can be assumed that the family left the area. There is a likely link to the nearby parish of Ecclesfield (see below).
Rotherham: Henry Basforth married Jane Jackson on 15 November 1618, and is almost certainly the son of Ralph from Penistone, as the name Henry is uncommon in the family at this time. Rotherham in the early seventeenth century was largely a market town serving the surrounding relatively low-lying, mixed arable, agricultural land around, with a smaller element of manufacturing. There are no baptismal or other references to the family in Rotherham after 1618.
Sheffield: Apart from the isolated reference to the baptism of Roger, the son of Francis Basforde on 11 January 1596, there is only one family group in the parish register prior to 1660. This may very well be the same Roger (spelled Basforth) who married Alice Cowley on 3 November 1642, though this does seem rather late in life for a marriage (so it may more plausibly be his son). The couple subsequently baptised two children in Sheffield: Alice on 11 May 1645 and Mary on 31 October 1647. Sheffield in the early seventeenth century was already becoming established as a centre for cutlery and for the manufacture of small tools from iron and steel. By the early eighteenth century the family name became associated principally with the making of files and this may already have been the trade followed by Roger in the 1640s. The forename Roger remained peculiar to the Sheffield family.
Ecclesfield: The earliest records are for the burials of an un-named infant of John Basworthe on 30 August 1570, the burial of Nicholas Basforthe on 26 March 1584 and of Richard Basforthe (senex, i.e. old man) on 25 November 1602. The family was clearly well-established in the area in the late sixteenth century.
The last named of these three, Richard, left a will indicating that he lived in the township of Whitley, just outside of Ecclesfield itself, and he worked there as a weaver. He probably also farmed a small-holding, as was the custom with artisans in that period. The will names his wife Margaret as the principal benefactor, along with three sons: William, Ralph and John. The presence of a Ralph among these names suggests a relationship to Ralph of Langsett, who may have been Richard’s brother. The forename Ralph also continues down the family line.
Ecclesfield in the early seventeenth century, and certainly later, was associated with the trade of nail-making. Much of their connections were with parishes to the north, such as Wortley and Barnsley, which produced the wire used to make nails. The whole parish stretched well up into the Dark Peak area to the west and was renowned for being wild and unruly. Whitley is a small village about a mile across the fields from Ecclesfield itself, to the north west of the former priory, and is referred to in the parish registers as ‘Whitley byerley’. Later references to Ralph and William make this link.
Each of Richard’s three sons married within a few years of the will and established families in the parish. These families form the basis of a further essay specifically about Ecclesfield parish.