The following notes about various branches of the Smithson family have been collected by me during the last four years, and to prevent loss (which is so liable to happen to a quantity of miscellaneous manuscript) it has been suggested that I have them put into print, in simple book form.
Although the writing of these pages may seem to have been easy, as now arranged, yet the gathering of the materials for them has entailed a considerable amount of solid work.
Large areas of ground had to be covered before one arrived at proof of even one well-attested link which would be of importance.
Besides the Parish Registers which I have examined at a large number of churches in Yorkshire, Cumberland, Westmorland and Durham, many wills have been copied at the York Probate Office, also the Principal Probate Office (Somerset House), and the Probate Offices of Carlisle and Durham.
The Diocesan Registry at Carlisle has been very helpful with transcripts of some of the Cumberland Parish Registers.
The Record Office in Chancery Lane, E.C., and the British Museum have been largely consulted for old references to Deeds, Court Rolls, Chancery Bills, etc., and the Marriage License Bonds at York have been searched for a considerable period, also some at Carlisle.
I was much interested in reading 'The Bewleys of Cumberland' by Sir Edmund Thomas Bewley, and decided, if possible, to trace back our branch of the family beyond John Smithson of Preston Patrick, near Kendal, who was the first of the Cumberland Smithsons to join the Society of Friends, presumably about 1740.
I should mention that I got a very valuable clue about our family, from a King's Bench Roll of 1533 referred to in Sir E. T. Bewley's book.
We had very clear records back to the above John Smithson, the writer's great-great-grandfather, who died and was buried at Preston Patrick in 1795. Our tradition was that he was born in Yorkshire, and so I commenced my searches in the North Riding of that county.
Although he was not born in Yorkshire, but in Cumberland, as I subsequently found, the tradition as to Yorkshire origin proved to be correct, but much more remote than his generation.
I have been much assisted in my work, especially in the early stages, by Mr. John S. Smithson, and my sincere thanks are tendered to him. The Rev. Wm. Ball Wright, M.A., who is kindly editing these notes (and who for some time has interested himself in our name owing to a believed ancestral connection with one branch of the Yorkshire Smithsons), has been invaluable with advice and help, and with his great experience in similar work has throughout greatly assisted me. I take this opportunity of expressing my great obligations to him.
I have received much kindly help from many of the clergy in Yorkshire and Cumberland and elsewhere, in giving me access to their Parish Registers, and I should like especially to thank the Rev. Ernest A. Stockdale, Vicar of Middleton Tyas, and the Rev. S. Gilbert Beale, Rector of Romaldkirk.
H. M. Sanderson, Esq., the present owner of Moulton Hall, near Richmond (Yorks), has been most kind in supplying interesting facts concerning that property and the Manor House adjoining, and I am most grateful to him.
Mr. Charles H. Smithson has rendered valuable help in photographing for reproduction in this book a number of old houses and places connected with the notes and references.
The collection of the data for this little work, although laborious, has throughout been a matter of the greatest interest to me, and I hope it will prove so to those members of the family who, like the writer, did not know much of the family history, and for whom it has been compiled.
I have traced the grants of several coats of arms, to which references will be found in the course of the work; but those appearing on the frontispiece appear, without doubt, to be the oldest from all the available evidence.
GEO. R. SMITHSON