The Armitstead Ancestry

The surname Armitstead originated from the name of a settlement about 2 miles west of Giggleswick in Yorkshire. The earliest recorded use of the surname is in the poll tax records of 1379, which include a Laurencius del Armetsted at 'Gygleswyk' and a Johannes de Armetstede at 'Langclyff' (Langcliffe, north of Settle). There is still a farm at Giggleswick today, called Armitstead Hall [photo , map]. Further information, particularly on the Cheshire branch of the family, is available on Nigel Watts' Armitstead Family History pages.

Thomas Armitstead (abt 1684 - 1755)  [probably my 6xgt-grandfather]

Thomas Armitstead married Eleanor Atkinson at Bentham, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on 11th February 1715/16.

The christenings of six children are recorded in the Parish Registers:

  1. William Armitstead, 1 January 1716/17 (see below)
  2. Ann Armitstead, 18 October 1719. Married Henry Yeaden
  3. Mary Armitstead, 10 October 1722
  4. Ellen Armitstead, 2 October 1726. Died 1745
  5. Catharine Armitstead, 4 January 1729/30
  6. Peter Armitstead, 28 January 1732/33

At Ann's christening, Thomas is described as a yeoman, of Grastongill.

He owned a property called Chesters, consisting of a house, a barn, and about four acres of land. It was located between High Bentham and Clapham, and appears on modern maps.

Thomas was buried at Bentham on 21st December 1755, aged 71; Ellen died in 1764.

Thomas left a will, in which he left his property to his son Peter, and the remainder of his estate to his wife, his other son William, and his son-in-law Henry Yeaden.


William Armitstead (1716 - 1799?)

William was the first child of Thomas and Eleanor (also known as Ellen) Armitstead, and was christened at Bentham on 1st January 1716/17.

He married Elizabeth Benson of Robin Hood Butts, Clapham on 2nd April 1738. The marriage took place, by licence, at Thornton-in-Lonsdale, which was not the home parish of either party to the marriage. Bride and groom were both aged 21, and William was a linen weaver 'of Greystonegill'.

I have identified six possible children from the parish registers, but some of these may have been born to a different William Armitstead:

  1. Thomas Armitstead, baptised 29 April 1739
  2. James Armitstead, baptised 23 November 1745
  3. John Armitstead, born about 1748 (see below)
  4. Edmund Armitstead, baptised 24 September 1749
  5. James Armitstead, baptised 30 September 1750 (either the first James died, or this James's father was a different William)

Two of the above baptism entries in the register describe William as 'of Graystongill'.


John Armitstead (abt 1748 - 1817)

John's baptism is not recorded in the Bentham parish registers, but the detailed entry for the baptism of his son Thomas states that John was the son of the above William and Elizabeth. However, there was a John Armitstead, son of William, christened at Ingleton on 26th January 1749/50.

John married Mary Morphet (or Moffat) at Bentham on 12th January 1773. Mary was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Morphet of Arncliffe.

John and Mary had at least six children:

  1. Betty Armitstead, born about 1774
  2. William Armitstead, baptised 3 November 1776. Married Sarah Bateson
  3. Thomas Armitstead, born 30 October 1778. Married Margaret Rowlandson of Over Kellett. Emigrated to Illinois, USA, in 1843.
  4. Ellen Armitstead, baptised 14 January 1781
  5. Richard Armitstead, born about 1783 (see below)
  6. Mary Armitstead, baptised 10 August 1794

One of the above baptism entries states that John was a weaver of Graystonegill.

By the time of his death, at the age of 68, in 1817, he was living at Mewith, a small settlement near Bentham. He was buried at Bentham on 29th October of that year. His widow Mary was living in School Hill, High Bentham in 1841; she died on 13th March 1842 at the age of 87, and was also buried at Bentham.


Richard Armitstead (1782/3 - 1824)

There is no record of Richard's baptism in the parish registers of Bentham or any of the surrounding parishes, and the earliest information I have on Richard is his appearance in the Craven Muster Rolls of 1803. These record all males aged between 17 and 55 living in the Craven district in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and were compiled to provide a list of men available to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. Richard is recorded as a weaver, living in Bentham, and is placed in the 17-30 age group. The previous name in the list is William Armitstead, also a weaver, who was probably Richard's brother.

Richard married Elizabeth Bellman, at Bentham Parish Church on 7th December 1811. A William Armitstead (Richard's brother?) was a witness; Richard had been a witness at William's wedding 4 years earlier.

Richard and Elizabeth had two children:

  1. John Armitstead, born 10 March 1812 (see below)
  2. Thomas Belman Armitstead, baptised 9 June 1816, buried 14 January 1818

Richard's wife died in 1817, at the age of 27, and their younger son died a few months later. At this time, the family were living in Mewith, a hamlet near Bentham. Richard himself died at the age of 41, and was buried at Bentham on 12th May 1824. At the time of his death he was living at Upper Bentham.


John Armitstead (1812 - 1876)

John was born in Bentham, probably at Bentham Mill, on 10th March 1812, and was christened at Bentham Parish Church on 12th April of the same year. He was orphaned at the age of 12 following the death of his father, his mother having died when he was five years old. I do not know what happened to John in the years following his father's death.

By the time of his marriage, John was living in Whittington, Lancashire, and working as a servant. He married Jane Thexton, on 8th August 1840, at Whittington Parish Church. Jane was a 27-year-old schoolmistress originally from Old Hutton, near Kendal, but had moved to Whittington with her parents some years previously. One of the witnesses at the wedding was a Thomas Armitstead, and I have yet to discover his relationship to John.

John and Jane remained at Whittington until at least the birth of their youngest son in 1847. John's occupation during that period is variously recorded as agricultural labourer, labourer, or servant. At the time of the 1841 census, Jane's father, Joseph, was also living with the family (her mother had died in 1835). They had five children, all born in Whittington:

  1. Elizabeth Armitstead, baptised 15 February 1841, buried 31 December 1841
  2. Richard Armitstead, baptised 10 April 1842. Latterly a Farm Servant in Silsden, Yorkshire. Drowned there in 1885.
  3. Joseph Armitstead, baptised 1 December 1844. Latterly a Medical Assistant in Manchester. Died 1884.
  4. John Armitstead, born 25 October 1847 (see below)
  5. Elizabeth Jane Armitstead, born 7 May, baptised 18 June 1851. Became a dressmaker.

Strangely, the 1851 census (taken on 30th March) records the family living in Heworth Road, York. Why they moved across to the other side of the country remains a mystery: John's occupation is shown as "Ag. Labourer", which is not the sort of job that requires one to relocate by such a large distance. It must have been only a short-term move, as they were back in Whittington a few weeks later for their daughter's birth and christening. By the time of the 1861 census, the family had moved the short distance across the county boundary to Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland, and were living in Royal Oak Yard. John was employed as a domestic gardener. In 1871 the family were living in Mill Brow, Kirkby Lonsdale. John died on 23rd August 1876, at Kirkby Lonsdale, at the age of 64, just three months after his wife had died. John and Jane were both buried at Whittington.


John Armitstead (1847 - 1914)

John was born in Whittington, Lancashire, on 25th October 1847, the third son of John and Jane Armitstead, and was christened at the parish church on 12th December of the same year. He lived in Heworth Road, York, for a short time, but the family had returned to Whittington by the summer of 1851. At the age of 13, he was working as an errand boy in Kirkby Lonsdale, but ten years later, in 1871, his occupation is given as 'under gardener'. At this time he was still living with his parents in Mill Brow, Kirkby Lonsdale, but he later (by 1874) moved to Milnthorpe, Westmorland, where he was employed as a coachman.

On 2nd June 1874 he married Agnes Preston, the daughter of William Preston, a bobbin turner of Staveley, Westmorland. The wedding took place at St James's Parish Church in Staveley. A daughter, Alice Jane, was born in 1875, in Milnthorpe, but tragically Agnes died the following year, of tuberculosis, at the age of 27.

After losing both his parents and his wife during 1876, John returned to Kirkby Lonsdale, and the 1881 census records him living at the Green Dragon Inn (now the Snooty Fox Tavern) in Main Street, where he was employed as a general servant. His daughter, one year old at the time of Agnes's death, went to live with Agnes's sister Annie in Staveley.

John married again on 18 June 1881. His second wife was Agnes Leighton, the daughter of Matthew Leighton, a carrier who lived at Sedbergh in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The marriage took place at Sedbergh Parish Church.

John and Agnes settled in Kirkby Lonsdale, where they had five children:

  1. John Armitstead, born 1882. Married Kate Hage, and became a butler.
  2. Mary Agnes Armitstead, born 28 March 1884. Married Harry John Evans. Living in Burnley in 1939, but had returned to Kirkby Lonsdale by the time of her death in 1957.
  3. Matthew Leighton Armitstead, born 16 May 1886. Married Annie Fisher, and ran a plumbing business in Kirkby Lonsdale
  4. Richard Armitstead, born 3 March 1889. Married Ethel Hayton, and was later licensee of the Joiner's Arms in Burton-in-Lonsdale.
  5. Joe Braithwaite Armitstead, born 19 June 1894 (see below)

In 1891 the family were living in Tram Lane, and they were still there in 1894, but by 1901 they had moved to 15 Market Square, where they rented out rooms. John's occupation from his second marriage onwards is recorded variously as driver, bus driver, and coachman.

John died at home on 12th May 1914 at the age of 66. Cause of death was hemiplegia (3 years) and cardiac failure. The death certificate recorded his occupation as Retired Coachman (domestic). He was buried in Kirkby Lonsdale churchyard.


Joe Braithwaite Armitstead (1894 - 1967)

Joe was born at the family home in Tram Lane, Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland, on 19 June 1894. His middle name came from his maternal grandmother, Mary Braithwaite. At the age of 16 he commenced his long career with the Post Office, when he was appointed as an Assistant Postman in Kirkby Lonsdale. In August 1912 he moved to Ambleside to work as a Sorting Clerk & Telegraphist, then 10 months later briefly moved to a similar job in Burnley, before returning to Kirkby Lonsdale in September 1913.

He served as a Sergeant with the Royal Engineers during the First World War. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, the latter indicating that he served in a theatre of war, but I have not yet discovered where.

Shortly before the end of the war he married Doris Midgley, whose parents ran the Waverley (Temperance) Hotel on the corner of Market Square and Main Street. Doris was originally from East Keswick, near Wetherby in Yorkshire, but the family had moved to Kirkby Lonsdale after Doris's father James, a farmer, had an accident and was unable to continue farming. The wedding took place on 15 August 1918, at St Mary's Parish Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.

Joe resumed working for the General Post Office in May 1920, again as a Sorting Clerk & Telegraphist, but now at Carnforth, Lancashire. Joe and Doris were living at 138 Lancaster Road (Hewthwaite Terrace), Carnforth in 1921, and at 14 Lancaster Road (1922-26) when their only child was born:

  1. James Harry Armitstead, born 21 April 1926 at "Farfield" nursing home, Sefton Road, Heysham.

Joe was re-located with his work once again, in October 1926, to the Lancaster & Morecambe district. The family were living at 48 Brunswick Road, Heysham in 1927-33, and later in the 1930s moved to 153 Torrisholme Road, Lancaster, where Joe and Doris remained for the rest of their lives. Joe continued to work for the Post Office, becoming a postmaster (postal supervisor). Latterly, he owned a black Hillman Minx car, registration PTE 2; his favourite recreational activity was bowls, which he played at Bare Institute.

Joe died of lung cancer on 6 November 1967, at Beaumont Hospital, Lancaster, and was cremated at Lancaster & Morecambe crematorium.


John Armitstead, York, England.  Last update 17 December 2022