The Thornhiill arms
                                         of Thornhill and Fixby

Heraldic arms of Thornhill                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

According to W.P. Baildon [Baildon History, p. 28-9.], the Thornhills cut their fess in half and and made two bars, at a later date these were divided forming two bars gemelle to which some branches added a chief.


Thornhill Arms Early Midgley Arms
Gules two bars gemelle and a chief Or7
Gules two bars gemelle and a chief Arg 8
Sable two bars gemelle and a chief Or
 The Thornhill heraldic arms found on the ceiling of the Savile Chapel, Thornhill Parish Chuch of St. Michael & All Angels. Gules two bars gemelle and a chief Or. These arms were also recorded by Watson on the ceiling of Halifax parish church and by John Burton in 1758 in one of the windows of Selby Abbey [Mon. Ebor]

The Thornhill Runes.Ancient rune stones, a miracle and a rich tapestry of land owning Yorkshire families set against the background of early English history.

Thornhill boasts a runic inscription known as the Thornhill Runes which attests to the early Christian culture of the Anglian settlers.

This rune stone is dated to between 700 and late 800 A.D., before or about the time the Danish raids began on the east coast.


Three hundred years later here were at least five persons called Gamall in Yorkshire at the time of the Domesday Book (1086). One of these Gamall's often appears in D.B. as a land holder in the Calder Valley before and after the Conquest. The Thornhills may have descended from this Gamall. Later in the 1300's the descendants of this family held the manors of Thornhill and Sitlington with 'Little Midgley'. The Arms of Midgley and Thornhill are very similar in their early form only differing in their tinctures.7 This family were tenants of the De Lacis of Pontefract and are probably linked genetically through Peter de Birkin a.k.a. FitzEssulf or 'Petri de Migelaya' etc.





                                    |                                                                                                                       |                                                    

                          Leising(us/er)                                                                                                   Ulf ^                                                                                                          

                                   |                                                                                                                       |                                                       


                 |                                        |                                                                                               |

         Hugh de Elland         Henry de Elland                                                              Essulf de Thornhill

          |                                                                                  |

     Leads to                                         Leads to Thornhill-Midgley-Birkin-Everingham families

    Elland family                                                          

 ^ Probably the holder of the manor of Sitlington at the time of the Domesday Book, 1086 where 6 bovates or about 90 acres had been under cultivation but at the time, like much of the North, Sitlington had been wasted in 1069 by William the Conqueror in what came to be known as the great 'Harrowing of the North'.

Another well known Gamall was a Yorkshire magnate of the time of earl Tostig [1055-1065] who was killed by the earl in 1064. The editors of the Yorkshire Domesday Book published by Philimore, basing their notes on work by Skaife, say that this Gamall was the son of Ormr and that it is this Gamall's inscription that still exists on the sundial at St. Gregory’s Church, Kirkdale, North Yorkshire. Ormr is known from the inscription on the Kirkdale sundial where his estate lay. As lord of Welbure both Ormr and Gamelbar appear in the D.B. 

                               Ormr (Osmund or Gerneber) d. 1066


                                                     Gamall - killed 1064



                |                                                                                       |

             Ormr*                                                                        Gamelbar

      Lord of Welbure

* His name is found on the Kirkdale sundial which he had built.


The Gamall found in the Calder Valley had two sons, Leising or Leisingus [had two sons, Hugh and Henry de Eland] and Ulf, b. abt. 1075. All these names are particularly Norse or Danish, which indicates their hold over the Anglian lands after the Danes settled to farming.  Leisingus managed the Elland estates for Ilbert de Laci of Pontefract and held the manor of Rochdale but resided at Elland Hall, Elland.  We do not know of Ulf's wife but Ulf had a son Essulf.  The de Thornhills are the descendants of Essulf who appear to have retained their lands from the Norman conquerors. Perhaps this was done by intermarriage with Norman wives.


A negative image of the interlaced        ornament from the Anglian Thornhill rune stone.

Essulf [i.e. ?FitzUlf] was born ~1100 and died after 1189. Some genealogists have him married possibly to Maud de Bailey. He was of Norse/Danish descent, living in the reigns of Henry I and King Stephen. Essulf had at least 8 sons13 who took their second name from their place of ownership and principal residence. In 1100 a law was passed, essentially to assist with taxation in England, that every person must have a second name. Here the toponymically derived names from the ownership of estates at Thornhill, Birkin and Tong are given for Essulf.  The manor of Shelf, north-east of Halifax was granted to Essulf  a predecessor of  the Thornhill's of Thornhill. This grant occurred after the 2nd earl Warrene's [William Placetis, d. 1138] tenure of the manor of Wakefield who had previously been granted the manor of Shelf. In 1316 Shelf ('Shef') was held by 'Johannes de Schorell' who was probably John de Thornhill. [Nomina Villarum, 1867, p.361.]

A map of the manor of Wakefield showing its constituent townships. Note: There is an eastern and western division. 

1 Wadsworth  2 Heptonstall  3 Midgley  4 Stansfield  5 Erringden  6 Langfield  7 Sowerby  8 Soyland  9 Rishworth  10 Scammonden  11 Barkisland  12 Stainland    13 Norland  14 Skircoat  15 Ovenden  16 Northowram  17 Shelf  18 Hipperholme ('Hyperum')  19 Halifax  20 Ratrick  21 Fixby          22 Quarmby  23 Golcar  24 North Crosland  25 Austonley  26 Upper Thong  27 Cartworth  28 Holme  29 Scholes  30 Hepworth  32 Wooldale                 33 Thurstonland  34 Dalton  35 Clifton  36 Hartshead   39 Dewsbury  40 Soothill  41 Ossett  42 Sitlington  43 Horbury  44 Thornes  45 Alverthorpe  46 Stanley  47 Wakefield  48 Sandal  49 Crigglestone  50 Walton  51 Normanton  52 West Bretton  53 Emley  54 Shelley  55 Shepley                         56 Cumberworth Half  57 Fulstone  58 West Ardsley  59 Eccleshill  60 Kirkburton

Source: Based upon Fraser C.M., & Troup, K.M. (eds.), Wakefield Court Rolls 1338-1340, Y.A.S. 1999.

Adam de Everingham  was granted free warren in Shelf between 1298 and 1314 [Watson p. 115.] and gained some Thornhill lands by marriage of an ancestor to Isabel de Birkin for in the survey of the manor of Wakefield in 1314 Everingham is also described as lord of the vill of Midgley. [Watson,  p. 141; Crabtree, History of Halifax, pp. 193-4]. In 1303 [31 Ed I ] he possessed land in Flockton:

                                                                    Floketon. De Ada de Everingham. pro di. car. terrae in Floketon (sic). unde, ut supra, xxd.

                                                                      [Aid Granted to King Edward I in Kirkby's Inquest]

At the same time John de Herly held lands in the manor of Sitlington:

                                                                 Schittelingtone. De Johanne He[rly], [Cor]onatore, pro di car. terrae, Schittelington, unde, ut supra, xxd. [Ibid]

He held Sitlington in 1316 as 'Chylington' [N.V.] However, Adam de Everingham forfeited his lands and other privileges in 1322 for being a retainer of earl Thomas who had rebelled at Boroughbridge against King Edward II after which, Shelf was then granted to a supporter of Edward II, [Sir] William de Miggeley of Stanley probably held lands at Midgley in the manor of Sitlington near Wakefield. William was related to Adam through a common ancestor, Peter de Birkin, a.k.a Midgley &c. [see below]

Some of the children of Essulf [Asolf, Asulph Asculf, Asculph, Eisulf, Eisulf, Heisulf de Thornhill, Sitlington, Birkin and Tong. Almost all of Essulf's sons bore bars or fesses in their heraldic arms. [History of the Baildons. p. 17.] The order is produced from land charters by Richard Holmes in his Pontefract Chartulary of 1901: 

1. Peter de Birkin b. ~1110  He is referred to as ' Petri de Migelaya' in the Chartulary of St. John of Pontefract although this may be an error.16   However, he did hold 'Little Midgley' near Wakefield and also Sitlington, the latter through his mother Ethelrida [who could thus conceivably be 'de Sitlington']. In addition [Ibid.] Peter was the eldest son of Essulf  [W.P. Baildon. Baildon History. p. 33.] and was probably a half brother to Essulf's other sons who were of a second or third marriage. In his heraldic arms Peter bore a fess and a label. His son the 'Great Adam' FitzPeter was also called after the lands he held viz: Adam de Birkin, de Falthwaite, de Flockton, de Midgley, de Middleton, de Shitlington de Stainborough, etc. although principally de Birkin, his line led to the Birkins of Birkin, Yorkshire. One of Peter's other sons, Thomas, was the progenitor of the Ledes family of Leeds. Thus at this time second names had not become fully standardised. Multiple toponymics and aliases for land holders were offered in isolation and derived from the particular geographic location of the estates or public offices held by that individual.Peter held a moiety in Flockton with a man called Saxe of Horbury (who also held lands at Midgley and Sitlington  [Pont. Chart. vol 2, p. 483.] Saxe is described as 'a parallel personage' to Assulf and son Peter. One of Saxe's grandsons was a Thomas of Midgley son of Matthew of Flockton and Sitlington and his wife Amabel. Thomas had two sons, the eldest being Sir Ralph de Horbury whose son was Sir John de Horbury, both being stewards for the earls of  Warrene.  However, despite possessing  lands in 'Little Midgley' this branch of the Horbury family of Saxe is unlikely to have led to those calling themselves Midgley because the Horbury heraldic arms are completely different  [Argent a bend sable three towers of the first] The more likely evolution is as descendants of either Peter de Birkin [a.k.a. Petri de Migelaya, Peter FitzEssulf &c.] or his half-brother Sir Jordan de Thornhill sometime during the 1100's.

   The De Birkin / De Midgley connection

              Peter de Birkin+===Emma Lascelles



                                |                                                                                                                                               |                                                |                                  |                             |                      |                                                 

             Adam FitzPeter de Birkin^===Maud de Cauz                                                                           Thomas                                    Peter                           John                    Roger              William

                                                     heiress of Laxton & Shelford Notts.                           of Leeds           Extinct line of Burton Salmon                                                    



                                                                     |                                                                              |                                                     |                                         |                                 |

                                               Robert de Birkin* a.k. a.  de Midgley                              Peter                                           John                              William                       Isabel heiress of Birkin, Laxton etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Extinct line                                                               married Sir Robert de Everingham

Also called : Peter de Leeds, Peter de Midgley, and Peter de Birkin ; the first name from Gipton which is in Leeds, the second from Little Midgley in Sitlington, and and third  from Birkin, each of which appears to have belonged to his son Adam, if not to himself. [Pont. Chart p. 396.]

Was called or called himself: Adam de Birkin, de Falthwaite, de Flockton, de Middleton, de Midgley, de Sitlington, de Stainborough, etc. for he had interests in all those places, most of which he had received with his wife. [Pont. Chat p. 396.] Before 1182 'Adam son of Peter gave to the church of Rievaulx all the mines and territory of Sitlington and of the territory of Flockton and all the dead wood of the same towns.' Witness: Alexander, abbot of Kirkstall. (d. 1182)

* Held 'Little Midgley' nr. Wakefield. Robert de Birkin  inherited lands in Midgley [Holmes, Richard. The Chartulary of St. John of Pontefract. Vol. II, Y.A.S. Record Series, vol. xxx, 1901,  pp. 602-3.] Robert also witnessed grants to Rievaulx Abbey in Midgley for rights to extract mineral resources [iron/ coal]. Robert later became known as Robert de Midgley. [Ibid. p. 397.] Robert's sister Isabel married into the Everinghams and carried the bulk of the De Birkin and Lexinton estates with her to this family.  Isabel also carried a carucate in 'Little Midgley' to her husband. A reference to Isabel and Robert de Everingham having land in 'Miggelay' is mentioned in the Close Rolls of Henry III's reign:

'Mandatum est justiciariis Hybernie quod in loquela que est coram eis inter W. comitem Warrenn', petentem, et Ricardum de [. . .], tenentem, de j. carucata terre in Miggelay [incorrectly stated to be Midgley in Halifax] unde idem Ricardus vocavit ad [warantum] Robertum de Everingeham et Isabellam uxorem ejus, procedant secundum legem et consuetudinem regni Anglie ad judicium inde reddendum ad diem videlicet quem. [. . . .]' 18

                                  The present parish of Sitlington. This approximate boundary probably delineates the extent of the former manor of Sitlington

 In the Domesday Book Sitlington consisted of 6 bovates, or about 90 acres of tillable land that at the time was 'waste' following William the Conqueror's 'Harrowing of the North' seventeen years earlier. All the surrounding manors were also wasted except for Crigglestone [10 bovates] and Horbury [7 bovates] The others wasted were West Bretton (1 carucate), Ossett (3.5 Car.), Earl's Heaton (1 Car.),  Stanley (3 Car.), Emley (3 Car.), Cartworth (6 Car.), Kirk Burton (3 Car.), Shepley (2 Car.), Shelley (1 Car.), Lower Cumberworth (1 Car.) and North Crossland [Lockwood], (1 Car.). See Domesday explained.



2. Sir Jordan de Thornhill [Fitz-Essulf] of Sitlington and Flockton. Jordan was born  ~1123 at Sitlington and died after 25th January 1194. He is sometimes known by the following  names, Jordan de Sitlington or Jordan de Flockton, presumably gaining Thornhill later as Jordan de Thornhill.  He seems to have married twice although the name of the first wife is unknown. He appears to have married again about 1148 to, some say, Ethelrida [?de Midgley]+ a possible heiress of lands in Sowerbyshire.15 Perhaps it was from her that the hamlet and sub-manor of Sitlington was named in the 1100's. According to to the V.C.H. for Lancashire it is an error to state [as found in Alfred S. Ellis, Dodsworth's Yorkshire Notes (Agbrigg), Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal, 1884, vol. VIII, p. 487 and the Pontefract Chartulary vol. I chart 23] that this Jordan de Thornhill married the daughter of a Richard FitzRoger of Lancashire.17 According to the V.C.H. the FitzRoger daughter [Quenilda] was married to one of Jordan Fitz-Essulf's sons Jordan de Thornhill not Jordan Fitz-Essulf. After examining related families, we have to agree with this. It appears after Jordan's death Quenilda*  married secondly, Roger Gernet of Halton, chief forester of Lancaster. * Also Quenilda daughter of Richard FitzRoger should not be confused with Quenilda de Kirkdale, daughter of Roger de Kirkdale [d. 1200] who passed the lands in Formby to Jordan and Quenilda before their marriage. [See VCH Kirkdale and Farrers note 2, pp. 564-5, Chartulary of Cockersand Abbey]

Jordan is definitely not the same person as Jordan de Stansfield who married Towneley  as suggested by the Stansfield genealogist, both men held lands at Stansfield at [very] different times. In the History of the Stansfields, which contains very few citations, Jordan de Stansfield is claimed to have married a daughter of 'Sir John Townley of Townley, co. Lancaster.' If correct, this is probably the alias of John de la Legh who married Cecilia de Towneley, sole heiress of Towneley about 1295. Thus it appears that the Stansfield genealogist has placed his 'Jordan son of Wyan Maryons'  far too early [as he recognises in his History of the Stansfeld Family,  p. 105.] Wyan is said to have come to England with the Conqueror as a follower of William de Warrene, later 1st earl Warrene & Surrey and lord of Wakefeield &c. In fact on p. 269 the Stansfield author presents the Latin text for the Worsthorne grant to Oliver de Stansfield  by Henry de Lacy [7th April 1292] which mentions both Cecilia, John de la Legh and Cecilia's sister Agnes. Jordan Fitz-Essulf  held lands in Ovenden, Skircoat, Rishworth, Norland, Barkisland etc. [Watson's Halifax p. 189; Baildon History,. p. 27.] and evidently Shelf, Rawtenstall, Hunsworth, Wadsworth, Sowerby and Stansfield.* The townships in which many of his western lands lay,  partly surrounded the townships of  Midgley [nr. Halifax] and Sowerby, around which lay the forest of Sowerby, both Stansfield and Skircoat being described as being within the forest. In 1169 his inheritance in Sowerbyshire [forest of Hardwick] was confirmed by Hamelin Plantagenet earl of Warrene & lord of Wakefield [Ibid.] However, there is no evidence that these were paternal inheritances, and as such it has been suggested by Baildon that these were instead inherited through Jordan's wife [2nd or 3rd]. At the same time of this confirmation Jordan granted a quarter of his lands in Sowerbyshire and lands in Stansfield and Rawtenstall to his younger brother Elias whilst (according to Watson) Warrene retained Sowerby. According to Watson, Skircoat as part of Sowerbyshire was later held by the Warrenes in 27 Hen. III [~1243] and at Kirkby's Inquest [1298]. Jordan was constable of Wakefield14  between 1174 and 1178 i.e. at Sandal Castle whilst his younger brother Thomas 'Pincerna' was the steward of the monks at St. John's, Pontefract. Jordan led to the line of Thornhills of Thornhill. As we will see he and his family are associated with a claimed 'miracle' which is commemorated in a stained-glass window in Canterbury Cathedral.  

* Note: Stansfield [D.B. Stanesfelt] is not a village or hamlet, it is an area in West Yorkshire called a township which lay within an extinct administrative unit called Sowerbyshire. The present Stansfield Hall is located 400 metres N.E. of Todmorden railway station on Stansfield Hall Road. This is probably  the site of the original manor house. The place-name Todmorden does not appear in records until 1246.

+ N.B. This is interpolated from the evidence that in the 1100's Midgley ['Migelaia'µ] was one of the five hamlets & sub-manors of  the manor Sitlington held by Essulf along with the hamlets of Middle- Nether- and Over-Sitlington [Now Middlestown, Netherton and Overton respectively].  Ethelrida's father may have been a land holder at Midgley [Miclei in D.B.] near Halifax and/or a tenant of Essulf at 'Migelaia' near Wakefield. Thus the genealogy may help to explain the similarity of arms held by the Thornhill and Midgley families, the Midgley arms following the style of the Thornhill arms. Heraldic arms began to appear during Henry I's reign [1100-1135] and particularly between 1125 and 1150 [Henry Bedingfield. Heraldry. p. 12.] Thus Jordan [a good friend of the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a' Beckett^] and Jordan's possible tenant of  Midgley near Wakefield probably had their arms devised about this time. Jordan's brother Peter is stated to have carried heraldic arms of a fess and a label which if  Peter was the eldest son of Essulf would have been a three pointed label. Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and Maine who married Henry I of England's daughter Matilda, had a coat of arms shown on the shield of his tomb plate after his death in 1151. As in more recent times it was not unusual to follow the fashionable example set by the royal line. Geoffrey of Anjou's illegitimate son, Hamelin Plantagenet of Conisbrough, brother of Henry II, married Isabel de Warrene daughter of William de Warrene, lord of the manor of Wakefield. Interestingly, Jordan was in favour with Hamelin, who assumed the earldom of  Warrene upon his marriage to Isabel de Warrene, daughter of William de Warrene 3rd earl and Adela Talvas. [History of the Baildons. p.27.] Ethelreda is an English name of Anglian origin c.f. the East Anglian princess Ethelreda of the 600's. The Ockham's Razor solution is that the sons and grandsons of Essulf took the names of the places which they inherited and resided in, as we see above with Peter's son, Adam FitzPeter.

µ The place-name Migelaia appears in the 1100's  for the hamlet of Midgley near Wakefield. [ Pontefract Chartulary, vol. II, 1901,  p. 426; Yorks. Charter Rolls 1160- 1175 ; A.D. Mills 1991, p. 229.]

^ Jordan is depicted with Beckett in a stained-glass window at Canterbury Cathedral [see below]

3. John de Thornhill 'John Filius Asholf', b. ~1125 d. after 1185, married Maud_______ they had three children, William, Eustace and Amabil.  Amabil married Roger FitzWarin.                                                                                   

4. William 'The Baker', also known as 'The Almoner', 'The Dispensator', de Whitwood or de Mara.            

5. Elias/Eli ['Helie'] de Thornhill b. 1124, d. 1195

6. Hugh       

7. Thomas FitzAsulf, the steward [seneschal] of the monks [of St. John's Pontefract], dapifer, Thoma filio Edulf, Thomas Pincerna, Thomas de Monte, Thomas de Monkhill.  b. aft. 1165 d. 1190 had  one child William who married Agnes______ they had two children, Margery & Elizabeth. His various alias's show that he was a steward for the monks of St. John's priory, at Monkhill, Pontefract.. 

8. Richard de Tong b. ca.1125. He inherited Tong from his father. In 1190 his son Richard participated in the massacre of Jews at York. [Baildon History, p. 26.]  Richard's daughter Maude de Tong married Stephen Hibernicus. Richard's line led to the Tong family of Tong.                                                             


W.P. Baildon.  Baildon History, p. 28-9:

"The most notable episode in Jordan's life is his connection to St. Thomas a' Beckett narrated by two monks of Canterbury, William and Benedict, who were contemporaries of the murdered Archbishop; their collected accounts of the miracles are said to have been made within a few years of the murder, and the incidents are therefore probably not later than 1180. The story is given in the notes to Dean Stanley's Historical Memorials of Canterbury, with some omissions and one important misprint; the following is in the main the Dean's translation, with some corrections and additions from the Latin text.

William the Monk begins his tale thus:

There came to Canterbury a knight, Jordan son of Heisulf, of the town which is called by the name of Broken Bridge (nomine Fracti Pontis, i.e. Pontefract), with his wife, and a son about ten years old, who was, as he asserted, being dead, restored to life by the Blessed Martyr Thomas.

Benedict omits the important reference to Pontefract, and begins:

The hand of the Lord was heavy on a knight of great name, Jordan son of Eisulf, and smote his household with disaster from the time of August unto the Easter days. Many were sorely sick in his house, and there was no one who could help. The nurse of his son William, surnamed Brito [cognomine Britonis], (Baildon's footnote: I cannot explain this name; possibly William had been born in Brittany, and was jestingly nicknamed "the Breton." A William Brito was dapifer or house-steward to Pontefract Priory about 1190-95, which office had previously been held by Thomas FitzEssulf — Pontefract Chartulary, p. 528; Thoresby Soc., vol. 9, p. 35. (FURTHER NOTE: BAILDON HAS MUDDLED THE OWNER OF THIS NAME, 'BRITO' IS THE NAME OF THE NURSE, possibly from nearby West Bretton, the town of the Britons.) died of a violent disease [morbo acuta], and was buried. Then the son himself died. Mass was said — the body laid out — the parents were in hopeless grief. It so happened that there arrived that day a band of twenty pilgrims from Canterbury whom Jordan hospitably lodged for love of the Martyr. When the priest came to bear the corpse to the church for burial, the father cried "By no means shall my son be carried forth, since my heart assures me that the Martyr Thomas is unwilling that I should lose him; for I was his man while he was in the body, and his familiar friend."

From the pilgrims he borrowed some water in which a drop of the Saint's blood had been mixed, and bade the priest pour it into the boy's mouth. This was done without effect. The father still delayed the burial, and the priest, while admiring his faith, thought him mad, as the boy had now been dead two days. Jordan then himself uncovered the body, raised the head, forced open the teeth with a knife, and poured in some of the water. A small sign of red showed itself on the boy's left cheek. A third draught was poured down his throat. The boy then opened one eye, and said, "Why are you weeping, father? Why are you crying, lady.'' Be not sad; behold the Blessed Martyr Thomas has restored me to you." He was then speechless till evening. The father put into his hands four pieces of silver, promising that the boy should offer them to the Martyr at Mid- Lent, and the parents sat and watched him. At evening he sat up, ate, talked, and was restored well to his parents.

But the performance of the vow was neglected and delayed. And so St. Thomas appeared to a leper, Gimpe, by name, in his sleep, who lived on the knight's estate, about three miles from his house, and said "Gimpe, art thou asleep?" The leper said "I was, until you awoke me. Who art thou.?" "I am Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury; knowest thou Jordan, the son of Eisulf.?" And Gimpe replied "Very well, lord, as the best of men, who has done many good things to me." He was then ordered to go and warn Jordan of the evils that would befall him unless he instantly fulfilled his vow. The leper did nothing. The Saint appeared a second time, and ordered the leper to send for his priest, who refused to convey so idle a tale to a great and powerful man. St. Thomas appeared a third time, and ordered the leper to send his daughter for the knight and his wife. They came, heard, wondered, and fixed the last week in Lent for the performance of the vow.

But it so fell that the Earl Warenne, [Hamelin Plantagenet] the knight's lord, in whose name alone the aforesaid knight possessed his property [cujus nomine res soli miles praetaxatus Dossidebat]," came to that place, and prevented them from setting out on their pilgrimage; thus they did not keep their vow.

On the last day of the last week, namely, on Holy Saturday before the day of our Lord's Resurrection, the Lord smote with a violent disease another son of the knight's, a little older, and more beloved than the one resuscitated, because his father's race was shown more perfectly in his features.

On the morrow the parents themselves were taken ill and confined to bed, and were despaired of. And the disease took hold of the boy, and he slept in death on the seventh day, on the sixth day [feria] of Easter Week. Twenty of the knight's household were also sick.

Then the knight and his wife determined at all hazard to accomplish their vow. By a violent effort — aided by the sacred water — they set off; the servants by a like exertion dragging themselves to the gate to see them depart. The lady fell into a swoon seven times from the fatigue of the first day, and was in despair at the long journey [from Thornhill to Canterbury!]; but her husband said "Alive or dead she shall be brought to Canterbury." When she saw the pinnacle of the Temple of Canterbury, she dismounted from her horse, and with her husband and son, barefoot, walked the remaining three miles to the Martyr's sepulchre, [the shrine was not erected until at least 1220] and then the vow was discharged.

Benedict adds that he received this story in a letter from the priest [at Thornhill?], who stated that the boy was undoubtedly dead and brought to life again."

(1) The funeral of the nurse [Lower left]

(2) The younger son at the point of death [bottom centre]

(3) The father administering the miraculous water, while the mother supports the boy's head [lower right]

(4) The boy reviving, and the four pieces of silver being put into his hand

(5) The boy revived, feeding himself with a spoon from a basin [top centre]

(6) The Archbishop and Gimpe the leper [top right]

(7) Gimpe the leper warning the parents

(8) The death of the elder son

(9) The final offering at the shrine at Canterbury. [centre right]


Detail of the centre panel  from "Plague in the House" window (c.1220 about 26 years after Sir Jordan's death) showing Sir Jordan Fitz-Eisulf [Fitz-Essulf, de Thornhill &c.] and his family. This panel is part of the Becket Miracle Window 6, north aisle of the Trinity Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral. Sir Jordan seems represented on the left and his wife on the right. Saint Thomas a' Beckett is shown above smiting the family with a sword representing the plague. Of course this type of story was important to the monks of Canterbury in order to encourage pilgrims to make offerings, particularly when Canterbury was in opposition to Jordan's nearest cathedral of York. Hamelin Plantagenet, Jordan's overlord, would conceivably not have wished Jordan to attend at Canterbury because it highlighted the problems his brother, King Henry II of England  [d. 1189]  had encountered with Beckett. If the story is true in its basis then the affliction occurred shortly after December 1170  when Beckett was murdered and as Baildon says no later than 1180.



The genealogy and land inheritance also helps to explain why a descendant of the master forester of the forest of Sherwood, Adam de Everingham of Laxton, Notts. [d. 1280] was later a land holder at Sitlington. Peter de Birkin's [a.k.a. 'Peter de Migelaya'] son Adam married  Matilda de Cauz, Lady of Laxton, Notts. [her first husband]. Their daughter Isabel de Birkin married Sir Robert de Everingham master forester of Sherwood and their son was Adam de Everingham. Adam's son was Robert de Everingham, also master forester of Sherwood. With Alice de la Hyde this Robert had two sons, Robert and Adam. In 1302-3 this Adam held a carucate in Sitlington and a half carucate in Flockton [Early Yorkshire Charters, Charles Travis, 1949, p.210.] In 1316 he is shown to hold 'Chylington' [Sitlington] and in 1326 is shown to have held Middle Sitlington [Now Middlestown]. In Laxton Church, Notts. there are 6 effigies two effigies being female dating  from about 1335. these two efiigies  are found beside a knight effigy that represents Adam who held the land in Sitlington. The two female effigies are of  his first wife, Clarice Tibetot or la Warre, the other being Margery, widow of John Deiville of Cundall. Margery's effigy is carved from Sherwood oak.

< The effigy of Sir Adam de Everingham [d.1341] with his first wife Clarice de la Warre on his left and the wooden effigy of Margery de Ledes on his right.


Children of Jordan de Thornhill and Ethelrida [Those children in red are more certain]:
1. Helen de Thornhill 
2. Juliana de Thornhill
3. Margery de Thornhill
4. Goditha de Thornhill
5. Elias de Thornhill23 married Astrid in 1174 one child Elias de Thornhill b. ca.1180.
6. Richard de Thornhill b. 1150, d.1208 married ca.1178 to Alice ______ b.1154, d.1204. They had three children.
7. William de Thornhill b. 1160
8. Jordan de Thornhill b. 1175 d.s.p. after 1212. This is the Jordan de Thornhill who married Quenilda daughter of  'Richard son of Roger' [Richard FitzRoger son of Roger the Thane of Woodplumpton] lord of Formby, Bootle and Woodplumpton, Lancs. She died in 1252.17 Upon the death of her father in 1212 she and Jordan had become heirs of  a quarter [a 'teamland' or carucate] of  the manor of Formby, Lancs.20 After Jordan's death she remarried to Roger Gernet, chief forester of Lancaster. On her death in 1252 Quenilda  must have gained another quarter of Forby as she enfeoffed Sir William de Samlesbury of Samlesbury, Lancashire with a moiety in Formby, this must have been passed directly to William's daughter Margery as she is found to have been a tenant of this moiety in 1252. At some point the moiety passed to Margery's sister, Cecily de Samlesbury who married John de Euyas. Their son Richard was lord of the moiety of Formby in about 1280.17


Advance from the castle Children of Richard de Thornhill and Alice :
1. Sir John de Thornhill b. 1180 died 1249 of Thornhill Manor [built 1236], married ca. 1226 Olivia de la Mare b. ca. 1193 died ca. 1240 [This is the first indication of French-Norman marriage into the family]. They had four children.

2. Eve de Thornhill b. 1200 married before 1277 Robert de Lalander.
3. William de Thornhill b. 1200

The children of Sir John de Thornhill and Olivia :
1.Sara de Thornhill
2. Sir Richard de Thornhill [Thornhill Lees] b.1228 at Thornhill, died 1287. This appears to be the same Sir Richard de Thornhill who is mentioned in the Wakefield Court Rolls for 1274 being wanted by the Earl de Warrene for hunting in the forest of Sowerbyshire, part of which, near Holmfirth, was called the 'Greenwood'. He married firstly Margaret_______ and in abt. 1258 secondly Matilda de Fixby b. ca.1240 at Fixby. They had four children. At this point, this de Thornhill line acquired the Fixby Hall estate. This was during Henry II's time [1216-1272]. This may be the Richard Thornhill who is mentioned being interred at the Dominican Friary of St. Richard's [Friars Preachers] in Pontefract.10
3. John de Thornhill b. ca. 1230
4. Simon de Thornhill, b. ca. 1232 d. 1270.

Children of Sir Richard de Thornhill and Matilda de Fixby :

1. Sir John Thornhill b.1260 Thornhill, d.1322.

Sir John de Thornhill John is known from the Nomina Villarum of 1316 to have held East Bierley and also the manor of Shelf before Sir William de Miggeley. [N.V. 1867, p. 361.]  According to some he died in Austria-Hungary, fighting the Islamic Turks of The Ottoman Empire. However, his recorded presence in England in 1321 and 1322 suggests that he may have died soon after the Battle of Boroughbridge [17th March 1322]. He was married in 1310 at Thornhill to Beatrice Taboner/ Talboner b. ca. 1270, they had six children,  she died after 1327 in Austria-Hungary at the beginning of Edward III's reign. She was certainly dead by 1329 when her dower in Wadsworth was enfeoffed by her brother-in-law Brian de Thornhill rector of Bedale to John de Methley his brother-in-law. In 1327 there was also a crusade planned by the Knights Hospitallers against the Cathars in Hungary. John was a Knight of Rhodes or a Hospitaller.  Also at this time during Edward II's reign [1307-1327] the Thornhills married into the Babthorpes.
John appears earlier in the Wharncliffe Muniments where he was a witness to a deed for Nicholas de Wortley of Wortley between 1295 and 1300. He is also mentioned in the C.P.R. a number of times in Edward II's reign as a commissioner of oyer and terminer [25th Sept 1318; 2nd Sept 1320] but not in Edward III's reign, thus flourishing in Edward II's reign. In 1317 he was granted a market and fair at Thornhill  as well as free warren here and at 'Hundesworth', 'Birle', Gomersall and Cleckheaton by Edward II at the request of John de Warrene19 and in 1321 held the wardship of Richard de Tonge also granted by the king. These appointments and grants all suggest that, like his neighbour William de Miggeley,  he was King Edward II's man throughout most of the rebellion of Thomas earl of Lancaster. The only evidence to show that he wavered was when he was pardoned on 20 August 1321 at York with many others for his actions against Hugh le Despenser, the son and father, between 1 March and 19 August 1321. He was pardoned on the testimony of John de Warrene earl of Surrey, Lord of Wakefield. On the 8th October 1321 he is recorded as having entered the dwelling of Hawisa, widow of Walter de Gloucester at 'Haidore' [Haydor] Lincolnshire with Walter's two sons and many others wherein they drove her livestock away and stole her jewellery.11 His death in 15Ed.II [1322] showed that he was also seised of the manor of Foulridge in Whalley. He is mentioned in a Parliamentary writ for 25th March 1322, three days after the execution of earl Thomas of Lancaster at Pontefract when he was given commission to raise 4000 footmen in parts of Yorkshire for a Scottish campaign which proved a near disaster. It is possible that the chain-mailed and life-like effigy, in Thornhill Parish Church dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, is that of John. 

In the C.P.R. there is also made mention of a John de Methley [Metheleye / Metheleye] of Thornhill who held the manor of Methley. This John de Methley was a brother-in-law to John de Thornhill after he married Cecily de Thornhill in abt. 1320, William's sister. John de Methley was pardoned in 1313 for his part in the death of Piers Gaveston, and later whilst the king was visiting the manors of the defeated rebels, John  was described as a 'king's yeoman' pardoned on the 8th June 1323 for being involved in Lancaster's rebellion. In 1326 John de Methley was pardoned for acquiring in fee from Adam de Everyngham of Laxton the manor of Middle Sitlington [Middlestown], 'held in chief as of the honour of Pontefract, and entering therein without licence; with restitution of the same.22  Adam de Everingham is related back to a common ancestor, Adam FitzPeter, grandson of Essulf, with Sir William de Miggeley, a contemporary.

There is a also 'Richard de Thornhille'/Thornhill, possibly kindred to John, who was pardoned at Westminster Hall in 1313 for his part in the death of Piers Gaveston and at York in 1318 for being an adherent of earl Thomas of Lancaster. If this man was a relation of John de Thornhill's, then like a number of northern families at this time, they were divided over their loyalties between earl Thomas and Edward II.

2. Cecily Thornhill b. ca 1281 married firstly John de Methley and secondly in 1301/4, Henry de Methley.
" indenture dated at Caltorne [Cawthorne], the Feast of St. Martin 7 Edward I, there is an agreement for a Thomas le Hunt to take to wife a Beatrice, daughter of John de Methley of Thornhill, and the said John to give her fifty marks, while Thomas binds himself to make over all his lands at Calthorn [Cawthorne]and Barnby to Henry de Calthorn his chaplain, who is to re-enfeof jointly the said Thomas and Beatrice for them and their heirs".6

3. Theobolt Thornhill [Theobold] b. 1285, Thornhill. married __________. They had a child, Thomas Thornhill b. 1312, Thornhill d. 1339 who married Margaret Lacy of Cromwell Bottom probably distantly related to the de Lacy's of Pontefract. They had a son Richard.
4. Brian Thornhill b. 1287, Thornhill.

helmeting of a knight Children of Sir John Thornhill and Beatrice Taboner [Talboner]:
1. Sir Brian Thornhill b. 1298, Thornhill, died Austria-Hungary 1369. A High Sheriff of Yorkshire August- October 1349. In 1327 he was accused of murder and became a fugitive. By 1335 he was a J.P. for the West Riding. Married Joan FitzWilliam [or Eland] b. 1310 of Sprotborough. They had five children.
2. Agnes  Thornhill b 1302 at Fixby. Deed for marriage to John de Dronsfield 12 Ed. II [1319-1320].21
3. Brian Thornhill b. 1308 at Thornhill
4. Richard Thornhill born 1311 at Thornhill. [Tony Ingham has meticulously gathered Thornhill genealogy back to Richard Thornhill who died by 1393-4 which can be imported into Gedcom compliant genealogy software.] 10 May 2019 - Updated with Savile-Lacy connections.
5. Cecily Thornhill born 1313 at Thornhill.
6. Thomas Thornhill  The Stansfield Family History (p. 111.) shows that a Thomas de Thornhill married a Margaret. This Thomas and Margaret were granted 9 acres in Ovenden by Sir Henry de Soothill ('Sotehill') on 25th January 1313, suggesting that this Margaret was a De Soothill, daughter of Sir Henry who died in 1322. This Thomas may be confused with Thomas son of Theobold [above].

The children of Sir Brian Thornhill and Joan FitzWilliam [or Eland] :
1. Simon Thornhill born 1336 died 1369 at Thornhill married Isabel Eland.They had one child, The Anglo-Norman Lady's boudoir. Elizabeth Thornhill who married Sir Henry Savile of Dodworth, Tankersley, Elland and now, the Thornhill and Shelf  manors by marriage. This extinguished the Thornhills of Thornhill which now passed down the Savile line. Thornhill now became the seat of the emerging & powerful Savile family. During the 1300's the home of the Thornhill's was also at Brookfoot, Brighouse. Thus by Edward III's reign [1327-1377] the Thornhills' had been united with the de Fixbys', Babthorpes and the Saviles of Dodworth. The Saviles' were resident at Thornhill until New Hall, Thornhill was demolished in Charles I's time by the Parliamentarians. See Savile Line
2. Thomas born 1338 at Thornhill.
3. Elizabeth b. 1340 Thornhill married  ca. 1335 to Henry de Masters b. ca. 1315 Kirklington, died ca. 1349 Austria-Hungary.
4. John born 1342 at Thornhill.
5. Margaret b.1344 at Thornhill.

Thomas Thornhill son of Theobolt Thornhill :
Had a son Richard Thornhill b. 1310 Thornhill d. 1418 married Margaret Toothill b. ca. 1364 Toothill.
They had a child William Thornhill b. 1386 who died 30th January 1417or1418. He married Joan de Catton. They had a  son, Brian Thornhill b.1418 at Fixby, mentioned in 1444, died 1484. Thus it appears that another line of the Thornhills' continued at Fixby Hall north west of Huddersfield*.  Brian Thornhill married 1446 at Fixby to Barbara Hapton b. ca. 1422 at Swillington.
They had two children
William Thornhill b.1444 Fixby died 1500 and Diones Thornhill b. 1446 at Fixby.
William married Elizabeth Mirfield b. ca,. 1448 at Mirfield. Their son, John Thornhill b. 1476 at Fixby, d. 31st March 1529 at Elland married Jenet Savile b. 1480 Hulmedge [Hutton Edge?] d. after 1567.John Thornhill and Janet Savile had seven children 

In a part of Elland Chapel belonging to Saville and Thornhill appear William kneeling at prayer in armour. His upper garment is alternately red and white. Behind him in the same posture is his wife, Elizabeth (Mirfield) her garment the same. In two places there are arms of two bars gemells, argent (see arms below).

Under these effigies:

"Orate pro prosperitate WILLELMI THONHILL ET ELIZABET. uxoria ejus et JOHANNES THORNHILL fili et hereditus eorundem, et JHNAE uxorissuae et prosperitate NICHI..... et AGNETIS consortia suae filiorum et filiarum eorundem, ac omnium, Benefactorum suorum" 12


                                                       Above: Thornhill of Thornhill given in Ralph Thoresby's Ducatus Leodensis 1713 after Hopkinson.


Defending the keep Scaling the walls Launching an attack


Another version of the Thornhill ArmsAnother variant of the Thornhill coat of Arms:
Gules two bars gemelle and a chief Arg 8 
This could be a cadet branch of the Thornhills:

The children of John Thornhill and Janet Savile :
1. John Thornhill
b. 1502 Fixby, mentioned in the 1550's, d. 1567.Married Elizabeth Grice b. Coyhill, d. 10th March 1582, Elland. They had ten children
2. Richard Thornhill b. 1504 d. after 1567.
3. Bryan b. 1506 d. after 1567
4. Alice b.1508.
5. Ellen b. 1510
6. Angius b. 1510. Married Thomas Clayton b. ca. 1540, Clayton Lancashire, d. 1585.
7. Thomas b. 1514 Brighouse d. aft. 1567.

The children of John Thornhill of Fixby and Elizabeth Grice :
Their children appear to have been born at Fixby Hall which was built in the 1500's.

  1. Bryan b. 1528 d. aft. 1567
  2. John b. 1570 Fixby d. aft. 1567
  3. Nicholas b. 1532 d. aft. 1567
  4. Richard b. 1534 Fixby d. 27th February 1593-4 at Elland. Married 22nd October 1586 at Holy Trinity, Goodramgate,York, Elizabeth Ward.
  5. William b. 1576 Fixby, d. after 1567.
  6. Elizabeth b. 1538
  7. Cecily b. 1540, d. aft. 1567.
  8. Isabella b.1542 Fixby, married June 1560, Roger Rayner d. after 1567.
  9. Ann b. 1544 Fixby d. aft. 1567.
10. Catherine b. 1548 d. aft 1567.

Much later in the early 1800's Thomas Thornhill is described as the absentee landlord of Fixby5
During the 1881 census a Midgley family was living at Fixby. [Fixby Hall is now a golf club]

Joyce Moore has begun research through her Thornhill line. Joyce is descended from the Ellands, the Lacys of Cromwellbottom as well as Isabel de Lacy and Thomas, her husband, etc.  Joyce your email address is out of date please update as someone wishes to contact you re Thornhill.

Home                                                                                     PREVIOUS

                                                                                        THE KNIGHTES TALE ......a film review

Elizabeth Taylor in Ivanhoe 1. Truth meets fiction: The photographs here are taken from the M.G.M. film  "Ivanhoe" based on Sir Walter Scott's novel by the same name. The film is a "must see" even though it employs a young Elizabeth Taylor and is fairly dated. It is quite faithful to the dress and architecture of early medieval times and would put some of today's period films to shame for its honest portrayals of the novel. The battles, jousts and armoured hand-to-hand combat are gripping. Sir Walter was no stranger to South Yorkshire for he based his famous novel Ivanhoe around Conisbrough Castle
2. Domesday Book for Yorkshire
3.Thornhill Lineage
4. Thornhill Line by Len Thornhill.
5. Richard Oastler, Steward of Fixby Estate.
6. Pratt C.T., History of Cawthorne, 1881.
7. E-mail communication from a claimant to the lordship of  Everingham of Laxton, Notts. January 2004. This similarity in the arms suggests as predicted from other evidence that the           Thornhills' and Midgleys' have feudal connections.
8. Thoresby, Ralph. Ducatus Leodiensis, The History of Leeds.1714 2nd edition by Whitaker, T.D. 1816, citing Book of Arms of Yorkshire by William Fairfax & also E-mail communication Edward Thornhill who garners this Coat of Arms from Burke's General Armory, Burke's Landed Gentry 1939 ed. and 1972 ed.
9. C.P.R., 1321-1324, p. 294.

10. Collectanea, p. 73.

11.  C.P.R., 1321-1324, p. 58.

12. A Concise History of the Parish of Halifax. p. 435.

13. Baildon. W.P.  Baildon and the Baildons, v. 2, 1924, p.18.

14. Ibid. p. 22.

15. Ibid. pp 28, 32.  i.e. A "claim in 1526-7 was put in evidence, when a verdict was given for Henry Saville, the then defendant. He had produced old Court Rolls to prove his title, and also "shewed an ancient deed under seal, without date [of 1169] , declaring that Hamelyn, Earl Warren, owner of the lordship of Wakefield, had granted to Jordan son of Askolf, ancestor to the defendant, his inheritance in Sowerbyshire." [Ovenden, Skircoat, Rishworth, Norland, Barkisland etc.]

 "The only difficulty here is that earl Hamelyn speaks of "confirming his [Jordan's] inheritance.......... A possible explanation would be that the Sowerbyshire estates came to Jordan's wife, somewhat late and unexpectedly, on the death of her brother or other male heir of her father; the confirmation by the Earl might then have been a re-grant on a  surrender, with a life estate to Jordan himself and the remainder to the heirs of his body." [Additionally we know later inb1274 that a John de Miggeley who resided at Havershelf near Sowerby was recorded as the forester of the forest of Sowerby [Wakefield Court Rolls.1274-1297] and a Henry de Miggeley son of Addam is mentioned in 1276 as having leased land in Ovenden from Sir John de Soothill.

16. Holmes, Richard. The Chartulary of St. John  of Pontefract vol II, Y.A.S. Record Series, vol. xxx, 1901,  p. 426:

CCCXXIII. Carta Ade filii Petri de Migelaya. [Charter of Adam son of Peter de Midgley a.k.a. Adam FitzPeter, i.e. the son of Peter de Birkin a. k. a. Peter FitzEssulf]

[ .... I, Adam fitz Peter, have confirmed .... a bovate of land in Midgley, that is to say the eighth part of all Midgley, ... for the healing of my soul, ....and for the souls of all who have sinned through my occasion, Robert, my son, witnessing and granting. Witnesses.]

Omnibus fidelibus sancte ecclesie filiis Adam filius Petri salutem. Sciatis me dedisse et concessisse et hac presenti mea carta confirmasse deo et sancto Johanni et monachis deo servientibus in Pontefracto imam bovatam terre in Migelaia, [This manor is "Little Midgley" in Shitlington, not Midgley near Halifax.] scilicet octavam partem totius Migelie, [sic] in bosco et piano, in paschuis et pratis, in viis et semitis, in molendinis, et cum omnibus pertinentiis suis, in puram et perpetuam elemosinam, liberam et quietam ab omni servitio et seculari exactione de me et de heredibus meis, pro remedio anime mee et patris mei et matris mee et uxoris mee Matildis et omnium antecessorum et heredum meorum et pro animabus omnium qui [See No. 320. There is a similar clause in a charter R 345 of this same Adam to Rievaux, "qui propter me vel per me peccaverunt.] causa mei peccaverint. Testante et concedente, Roberto filio meo, et testibus hiis, Thoma filio Petri [of Leeds, Adam's brother] Willelmo Campiun, Rainero Flamingo [Reyner le Fleming], Petro filio Ade [Peter son of Adam], Huctredo de Birkewait, Roberto de Stivetuna, Johanne de Rorestona, Ricardo filio Laising [Richard son of Leising], Rogero fratre suo, et aliis.

It is interesting here to see that Jordan's brother Peter is referred to as Petri de Migelaya [Peter de Midgley]  indicating a probable genetic link between the early 'Thornhills', sons and grandsons of Essulf, and the early Midgleys.

17. V.C.H. Lancashire v. 3, 1907. p. 46.

18. Calendar of Close Rolls, Henry III: volume 4: 1237-1242 (1911), October 1238, p. 113.

19. Cal. Chart. Rolls. 1300-1326, p. 334.

20. Chartulary of Cockersand Abbey. vol II, Chetham Soc. 1900. pp. 564-565.

21. Hunter, J. South Yorkshire. The History and Topography of the Deanery of Doncaster. Vol II, 1828/1831, p. 242.

22. C.P.R., 22nd March 1326, p. 251.

23. Pedigree Chart from The Chartulary of St. John Pontefract, vol 1, 1907, p. 254.

The manor of Sitlington had four hamlets / sub-manors:

Modern Name >>>>>>>> Manor of Sitlington Middlestown Netherton Overton Midgley
Old English Scytlel tun - - - Mycg leah
Norman D.B. 1086 Schellintone - - - -
1145 - 1160 Shitlingtona - - - -
1150 - 1170 Siclintona  - - - Parvam Migelheiam
1155-1158 Schitlingtona - - - -
1155-1170 Sittlingtun -
1160-1175, 1100's - - - - Migelaia, Migelie
1170-1175 Sitlintona - - - Litle Migeleia
1199 Sittlingtun - - - -
1234 - - - - Miggeley
31 Ed I, 1303,  [Aid granted to King Edward I; CPR, p. 292.] Schitttelington - - - -
1316 [W.C.R.] Scytlyngton - - - -
1316 [Nomina villarum] Chylington - - - -
Medieval 1325 [Reany] - Midle Shitlington - - -
Medieval 1326 [CPR, p. 251.] - Middel Shitelington - - -
Tudor - Myddleston 1551, Middle Shitlington Nether Shitlington Over Shitlington Midgley
1929 Eupemised to  Sitlington - - - -

See: West and South Yorkshire Arms









© Copyright Tim Midgley, March 2002,  revised 1st April 2024.