Tracing the disparate ancestries of four great families


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An interpolation in a Lamplugh parish register

- the mysterious case of the fudged documents clouding the ancestry of Archbishop Lamplugh

Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, Volume LXI, 1961 10pp, art,   XIII.—

An interpolation in a Lamplugh parish register

By Antony Raymond Jabez-Smith

Read at Carlisle, July 8th, 1960.

SOME twenty-five years ago I extracted all the entries in the Lamplugh registers relating to the Lamplugh family. When later I compiled a genealogical table from these extracts I was left with an entry which could not be linked with any of the others. It was:

"Thomas the sonne of Christofer Lamplugh the same date"

The registers contained no other mention of a Christopher Lamplugh nor could any of the other Thomas Lamplughs in the registers be identified with one born in 1615. But I knew that Thomas Lamplugh, Archbishop of York 1688-1691, was supposed to have been born in 1615 at Thwing in the East Riding of Yorkshire, a son of Christopher Lamplugh and Ann daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Roper of Octon (which is in the parish of Thwing) but that no record of his birth or baptism had ever been found.1 It therefore seemed probable that the mysterious baptism entry in the Lamplugh registers was intended to refer to this Thomas Lamplugh who, successfully circumlocuting the many pitfalls in the path of 17th century prelates, was promoted from the see of Exeter to the province of York by James II on the eve of his flight from the country.

Shortly after my examination of Lamplugh registers I wrote a short account of the Lamplugh family for a Yorkshire newspaper.I was prompted to do this to correct a rather garbled account of the Yorkshire branch of the family by a local antiquary, who did not appear to have realised that there was a place called Lamplugh in Cumberland and had surmised that the family derived its name from a commendable habit of ploughing by night as well as by day and lighting lamps to enable them to do so! I think that this Yorkshire antiquary was misled by the fact that at that time the representatives of the family in the East Riding were yeomen farmers who spelt the name "Lamplough" even when their baptism entries used the customary spelling. I took the opportunity afforded by my newspaper article to mention, on the strength of the Lamplugh parish baptism entry, perhaps rashly, that the Archbishop appeared to have been baptised in Cumberland and not at Thwing as previously supposed. However, the effect of what I hoped would be regarded as an interesting little discovery was somewhat spoilt by the paper's editor who sub-titled the article "Archbishop baptised at Thwing", In the light of the further research which it is the purpose of this paper to discuss the editor was almost certainly justified in declining to surrender a Yorkshire worthy to Cumberland,

In 1936 the registers of Lamplugh were published by the Parish Register Section of our Society and confirmed that there were two baptism entries for 13 June 1615, the first relating to William son of Thomas Jackson of Smaithait and the second to Thomas Lamplugh as quoted at the beginning of this paper.

My interest in the family was again aroused when in 1938 and 1939 the late Canon Taylor's history of the family was published in CW2 xxxviii and xxxix. Mr Taylor dealt at some length with the circumstantial evidence that the Archbishop was born at Thwing but did not seem to have noticed the 1615 entry in the Lamplugh registers,

I wrote to Mr Taylor calling his attention to the entry and what at the least must have been a very remarkable coincidence if there were two Christopher Lamplughs, who each fathered a son called Thomas in the same year. Although Thomas was a customary name in the Lamplugh family, Christopher at that time was not. Mr Taylor acknowledged the coincidence but concluded that there were in fact two Christophers and two Thomases and that the Cumberland Christopher was the Christopher who, according to Joseph Foster's Pedigrees recorded at the Heralds Visitations of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland 1615 and 1666 was mentioned in a 1615 Visitation thus:

But there are some very weighty objections to this solution, not the least of which is that there probably never was a 1615 Visitation of Cumberland. Mr Anthony Richard Wagner, Richmond Herald, states:3

"Harl. JMSS. 1536 and 1435 and Coll. Arms MS. I.C.B.2 con­tain collections of Cumberland and Westmorland arms and pedigrees which have been supposed to be the fruit of Visitations made in 1615. I have found no evidence, however, that such Visitations wore made and the pedigrees in question have neither dates of entry nor signatures."

Foster says that he compiled his "1615" Visitation pedigrees from Harl. MSS. 1536 and 1435 but does not explain the significance of the italics he used for the last part of his Lamplugh pedigree. Volume vii of the Harleian Society's publications also gives what purports to be a Lamplugh pedigree from the "1615" Visitation, said to be a transcript of yet another Harleian MS., 1374. But this Harleian version ends with John Lamplugh, the son of John Lamplugh and Isabel Stapleton. So it is reasonable to assume that Foster's italics indicate an addition found in one only of his two sources.


The evidence leads one to conclude that these so-called 1615 Visitations are nothing more than copies of earlier Visitations with or without unauthenticated additions. The "1615" Lamplugh pedigrees seem to be copies of a pedigree in Flower's 1563 Visitation of Yorkshire (which contains a number of Cumberland pedigrees). John Lamplugh, the son of John Lamplugh and Isabel Staple-ton died in 1604 "about the age of 76"4 so he was about 35 in 1563 but eleven years dead in 1615. It is hardly necessary to point out that an authentic 1615 Visitation would have referred to his successor, who in fact was his nephew the son of his brother Richard who died in 1591.5 Enough has been said to show that the Lamplugh pedigrees in Had. Soc. vii and in Foster's Pedigrees were certainly not the product of a Visitation in 1615 and I suspect that the same may fairly be said of the other pedigrees in these two collections.

Now let us examine Foster's italic additions at their face value, whatever may have been their origin. First it is noticeable that they give prominence to the Denton offspring of Mary Lamplugh, implying that the Dentons were the presumptive heirs of John Lamplugh. John Lamplugh was childless and his brother Richard's eldest child was not born until 1584.Until that date, therefore, it seemed that Mary Denton's eldest son would eventually inherit the Lamplugh property. This indicates that the additions which Foster gives in italics were made before 1584.

Next I note that the figure "1" appears before Christopher's name and the figure "2" before Richard's. If this means anything it must mean that Christopher was the elder of the two. It may well be that he existed and was named after his grandfather, Christopher Stapleton of Wighill. But if he were older than Richard and alive at the death of John in 1604 he would have succeeded to the Lamplugh property, whereas John Lamplugh specifically refers in his will7 made in 1603 to his heir John Lamplugh and to another nephew, George, and a niece Elizabeth {all children of Richard), but of Christopher Lamplugh there is no mention. As I have said earlier, the only mention of a Christopher Lamplugh in the Lamplugh registers is the entry which is the subject matter of this paper. If John Lamplugh and Isabel Stapleton ever had a son Christopher, he must have died before 1603 and probably before 1581 when the Lamplugh registers start. So he really could not have been the father of a son born in 1615.

I could not, therefore, feel that Mr Taylor's solution was the right one, but I let the matter rest with a mental reservation to have another look at the mysterious entry if I ever found myself in Cumberland again. Recently, however, I mentioned this little mystery to Mr Roy Hudleston during the course of a correspondence with him on another subject, and, prompted by the knowledge that another record concerning the Archbishop's parent­age had been tampered with, suggested that the baptism entry might have been interpolated. He was kind enough to express a lively interest in solving the mystery and asked Mr R. F. Dickinson of Red How to look at the original entry in the parish register. Mr Dickinson was good enough to do so and reported that "The entry is made in a different hand and ink from that used on the rest of the page and has been inserted over a partly deleted entry in what appears to be the regular hand and ink of the page."

Mr Hudleston a little later inspected the entry, confirmed Mr Dickinson's report and arranged for the entry to be photographed. The photograph accompanies this paper. It can be seen that not only has a previous entry been written over but that part of it has been scored out. It is also apparent that the Lamplugh entry is the only one which does not give the place of residence of the father, e.g. "Harieson of High Trees", "Fleming of Wakemill", "Jacson of Smaithait". Mr Hudleston states that the register itself shows more clearly than the photograph that the Lamplugh entry is in a different ink from that used for the other entries.

We have therefore reached the stage at which it can be said beyond doubt that the entry is an interpolation. Why was this interpolation made? It may help us to make a surmise if we have a look at the other irregular record I have previously mentioned.

The D.N.B. says that Thomas Lamplugh; Archbishop of York, was the son of Thomas Lamplugh, "a member of an old Cumberland family seated at Dovenby." This is evidently based on an entry in the Oxford University Matriculation lists, a photograph of which, by courtesy of the Keeper of the University Archives, accompanies this paper. But this has also been tampered with.8 The first line seems to have been

      "Thomas Lamplugh Cumberl. fil Christ'. Lamplugh"

but the name "Thomas" has been written over the name "Christ: ", and in the second line the words "de Dovenbey" seem to be in the tamperer's hand, though it is impossible to discern what, if anything, was originally written under them. It is also apparent that the age "16" was originally entered as "19", which would have been correct for 1634, the date of matriculation, if the Archbishop was born in 1615, as has always been supposed.

Mr Taylor has pointed out9 that in 1634 the Archbishop could have had no connection with the Dovenby branch of the family; Sir Thomas Lamplugh of Dovenby had died in 1632 without issue. Dovenby was, in 1634, in the possession of his younger brother and heir Anthony Lamplugh.

How came the Archbishop to be linked in someone's mind with the Dovenby branch of the family? There is, in fact, a connection but it did not arise until sometime between 1670 and 1680 when Richard Lamplugh of Ribton who was probably a first cousin of the Archbishop10 married as his second wife Mary Molyne, co-heiress to the Lamplughs of Dovenby. According to tradition, Richard's father, Thomas Lamplugh of Ribton, came from Yorkshire about 1630 and it is thought that he brought with him his nephew, Thomas the future Archbishop, then an orphan aged about 15. Some member of the family at some time after 1670 must have thought that the Archbishop was the son and not the nephew of this Thomas Lamplugh and also that the latter as well as his son Richard were "of Dovenby". Ribton and Dovenby are both in the parish of Bridekirk, so the mistake is excusable even if the "correction" of the matriculation entry is not. I do not think that the two "irregularities" were perpetrated at the same time or by the same hand, if only for the reason that they give the Archbishop different fathers. So I conclude that the immediate purpose of the tamperer with the matriculation entry was not the same as that of the tamperer with the baptism entry.

But let us look at the matriculation entry in its original form, "Thomas Lamplugh Cumberl!, fil Christ: Lamplugh". Is the "Cumberl." strictly accurate? The Archbishop went to St. Bees School, of which his uncle, Thomas Lamplugh of Ribton, became a Governor in 1642 and to that extent he was Cumberland bred, but his Lamplugh baptism entry having been shown to be false, all the evidence so far produced (which I will review later in this paper) points to his birthplace as Thwing in Yorkshire. Without going so far as to say that the original matriculation entry is also false, I can at least say that it gives the impression that the Archbishop was a native of Cumberland, whereas he himself in later life accepted a Yorkshire origin and his descendants have never suggested otherwise.

The Bursar of The Queen's College, to whom I am indebted for information from the College records, states “As regard preference to be given at this College to natives of certain counties, privileges for Yorkshiremen and a Yorkshire connection did not begin until a benefaction by Lady Elizabeth Hastings in 1739. The original Statutes of 1341 of the founder, Robert de Eglesfield, had prescribed that in admission to the College preference was to be given to natives of Cumberland and Westmorland, especially to the kin of the founder, and next to natives of places where the College had livings or property." C. E. Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford i 270 n-., says:

"Eglesfield certainly contemplated the admission of Scholars outside Cumberland and Westmorland; and a decree of Richard II" s reign provided that elections from, these two counties or from Founders' kin should be balanced by elections from, places where the College had property or from members of the University. But the practice of confining elections to the two counties, with its inevitable consequences prevailed."

In February 1650/1 a petition was presented to the Committee for the Reformation of the University by twenty-two junior members of the College, praying that preference in election to fellowships and scholarships be given to natives of Cumberland and Westmorland. The petitioners who describe themselves as having been born in those counties include a Thomas Lamplugh and a George Lamplugh.11 It would help my argument to assume that the petitioner, Thomas Lamplugh, was the future Archbishop but I do not believe that he was. The Archbishop became a Fellow of the College in 1643 whereas the list of petitioners, which seems to be in order of seniority, starts with three or four graduates and continues with "other schollars". The first two graduate-petitioners were in fact appointed to Fellowships as a result of the petition. Clearly there was no point in the Archbishop who was already a Fellow petitioning to be made a Fellow. The petitioner, Thomas Lamplugh, must have been Thomas Lamplugh of Cockermouth, son of George Lamplugh of Papcastle, who benefited considerably under the will of Sir Thomas Lamplugh of Dovenby.12 This Thomas Lamplugh was baptised at Bridekirk in 1633/4 and went up to The Queen's College in 1650. His name in the list of petitioners follows that of Tim Halton who went up in 1649. The petitioner, George Lamplugh, was the younger brother of Colonel John Lamplugh of Lamplugh,13 was baptised at Lamplugh in 1630 and went up to The Queen's College in 1650. He was Rector of Lamplugh from 1660 to 1700.

Although the Archbishop was not one of the 1650/1 petitioners who claimed Cumberland birth, it does not seem to be beyond reason to suggest that at some period of his academic career at Queen's College it was expedient that he should be recognised as of Cumberland birth; it might have been to obtain his Fellowship in 1643 or a Scholar's place before that date, or even perhaps to retain his Fellowship at a later date. Presumably the College would not rely entirely upon the ipse dixit of a candidate with regard to the place of his birth and would require confirmatory evidence. No doubt a copy of a baptism entry certified by the incumbent or by a Justice of the Peace would have been accepted. This then I suggest as the reason for the interpolation, and it is possibly not out of place to mention here that Thomas Lamplugh of Ribton, almost certainly the Archbishop's uncle and in loco parentis to him, was a Justice of the Peace, who was performing marriages at Lamplugh in the 1650s.14 He and his clerk must have had legitimate access to the registers.

Whatever may be the true explanation of the interpolation in the parish register of Lamplugh, it seems clear that, after he became Archbishop of York, Thomas Lamplugh acknowledged that he was born at Thwing in Yorkshire. In 1688 he gave communion plate to Thwing church, and some time after he became Archbishop he caused a memorial stone to be placed in the sanctuary of that church to his mother, Ann Lamplugh, who died in 1661.15 I have read somewhere that in the last century an old cottage in Thwing used to be pointed out as the Archbishop's birthplace and was known locally as the "Archbishop's Palace". A 19th century tablet in Thwing church (quoted in full by Mr Taylor) states that the Archbishop was born in the parish, although in view of its late date it cannot be accepted as anything more than evidence of a strong tradition to that effect. The Yorkshire Visitation of 1612 gives three sons to Thomas Lamplugh of Little Riston (now Ruston Parva) and his wife Jane daughter of Robert Fairfax of Pockthorpe (which is in the neighbourhood of Ruston Parva and Thwing), namely Christopher "now living", Thomas and John. Christopher is given a wife, Ann, daughter and co-heir of Thomas Roper of Octon. The parish register of Ruston Parva confirms this marriage in 1607. It is this Christopher and Ann who are presumed to have been the Archbishop's parents. Christopher's brother Thomas is presumed to be Thomas Lamplugh of Ribton. Of the third brother, John, nothing is known except that with his brothers, Christopher and Thomas he appears in Dugdale's Visitation of 1665. Unfortunately Dugdale does not carry the pedigree of this Yorkshire branch beyond these three brothers. Was this because the future Archbishop was still in 1665 unwilling to admit Yorkshire birth? That Christopher had issue, apart from Thomas the Archbishop, seems certain because we know that the Archbishop had a brother, Josiah, who, together with the Archbishop was mentioned in the will of Elizabeth Lamplugh of Dovenby who died in 1645. This Josiah was probably the man who became Rector of Yelden, Beds., and had a son Josiah who went to Eton in 1680 and Merton College in 1682, dying in January 1688/9.16  I have also found entries in the parish registers of Langtoft (adjoining Thwing) recording the baptism and burial of John son of Christopher Lamplugh in December 1620. The second brother, Thomas, probably married before he went to Ribton in Cumberland as he was born about 1587 and his eldest son of his marriage with Grace Barwis heiress of Richard Barwis of Ilekirk, which probably brought him to Cumberland, was not born until 1630. John may also have had issue. There was certainly a very numerous clan of Lamplughs in the Langtoft, Thwing, Pockthorpe and Ruston Parva area in the late I7th, 18th and 19th centuries. Large families and agricultural depressions scattered them, some to Australia and America, others to the South of England. Somewhere among the living descendants of the Ruston Parva branch or the probably senior Lebberstone branch (with which we are not concerned in this paper) must be the senior representative in the male line of this old Cumberland family.

The interpolation we have examined in this paper had evidently served its purpose before Thomas Lamplugh became Archbishop of York. He was almost certainly born at Thwing, the son of the Christopher and Ann mentioned in the 1612 Visitation of Yorkshire, but it is unfortunate that the expediency which at some time dur­ing his career led him to claim Cumberland birth and con­sequently avoid reference to his Yorkshire connections has cast the shadow of doubt on the exact position of himself and his Yorkshire relations in the Lamplugh genealogy.



1 "The Lamplugh Family of Cumberland" by Rev. S. Taylor (CW2 xxxviii 107).

2 "An East Riding Family — The Lamplughs of Octon and Lebberstone" (Hull Times. 23 March 1935).

4 Lamplugh Registers,

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

5 A. R. Wagner, "The Records and Collections of the College of Arms" (obtainable from the author at The College of Arms. E.C-4). See also "English Genealogy", A. R. Wagner (Oxford University Press) p. 325.

7 CW2  xxxviii  123.

8 Ibid., 108

9 Ibid., 109.

10 CW2 xxxix  32, 34.

11 Magrath, The Queens College iti 18,

12 CW2 xxxix  93-" 13CW2 xxxvii1 97.

14 Lamplugh Parish Registers. 11

15 CW2 xxxviii  106.

16 Eton College Registers.


Linked toAntony Raymond Jabez-Smith; Archbishop Thomas Lamplugh, DD; Thomas Lamplugh, of Ribton Hall

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