|......a Yorkshire one-name study....|
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"The Ancient family of Midgley of Midgley Township in the parish of Halifax have been traced back seven centuries. ...the family produced noted clerics, lawyers, physicians and authors and once owned vast estates from Erring- den, Thornton to Bingley"13.
"The Midgleys are probably one of Yorkshires oldest families"14.
i.e. there are records going back to the 1100's &1200's.
Midgley used as a First Name.
"Lawyer Midgley "
of Halifax appears in the1500's to have transferred many Latin deeds in a beautiful hand. The Midgley's were the greatest conveyancers of these parts of Airdale and Calderdale for many years2
Midgley of Cullingworth
-tracing names can be difficult.
A property near the church entered into the Midgley family of Cullingworth in the 1400's who were amongst the oldest landowners there.
At the start of the 1800's there were thirty-eight buildings in the village. The main street consisted of eight farmhouses, four on each side of the road and a few cottages. All the farmers were christened John!
In 1816 prior to the Enclosure Act, a survey was carried out where it was found that James Fox was Lord of Cullingworth Manor and John Midgley was amongst the principal farmers. This John was also a road manager, he would survey and contract for the highway for 20-30 miles around Cullingworth15
Midgley of Breary
Following the "Dissolution of the Monasteries", Edward Midgley settled at West Breary, parish of Adel, where he purchased an estate. His brother, Richard alsopurchased an estate . These estates were part of what had been the Cistercian Kirkstall Abbey. The Norman church at Adel had a large graveyard built from 1160 to 1170. Several members of the Breary Midgley family are buried near the entrance to the church and elsewhere in the graveyard.
The first page of the Parish Register has an entry" Suzan, daughter of Samuell Midgley was baptysed the 25th Maye, Anno Domini 16062.
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A Yorkshire name from the 11th century.
There are many English names with the suffix -ley (leah), from Anglo-Saxon (now referred to as Old English) meaning wood or clearing in the forest and later as a field or meadow. The prefix represents:
i) The Old English name Mycge as the head of a group which settled here i.e. Myg a danish name perhaps relating to the conditions of the low country from the Old High German
ii) the condition of the field/clearing i.e. infested with midges
iii) The middle field
referring to the position of the lands held
iv) A fourth derivation has been suggested by Milnethorpe Midgley of Tasmania as being "Migge " or large
These people probably migrated from what is now the low country of Northern Germany and Denmark from 500 A.D.
Why are two places in West
Yorkshire called Midgley?
A jewel in the English crown
In the 1300's the name came to indicate anyone who originated from
the villages of Midgley e.g.William
de Midgley. Any male with the
surname Midgley has a direct genetic
link through the male line going back to
the inhabitants of one of the villages#.
along the male line.
#note: There is also
a hamlet of Mickley
in Northumberland 'Michelleie' in 1086 and 'Michellie'
in c. 1190. O.E. large wood or clearing.17
The Midgley name is found from the Middle Ages throughout the Western district, many of the districts manor houses were owned by Midgley families. These landowners made their wealth from the wool produced on the Pennine moors which would have been traded along the packhorse routes and south along the "Via Magna" joining with the "Great North Road" at Doncaster.
A word about Mottoes:
A Caltrop is a device, laid upon the ground & designed to lame cavalry horses; they are composed of metal with protruding spikes.
Limited edition book which describes West Midgley available from June 2007
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taken from two villages
of the same name, West Yorkshire, England.
in the Domesday Book1
in 1086 but probably 600 years older.
n analysis of a place map of England (shaded an orange colour) shows a high concentration of occupation sites with names ending in "ley" in West and South Yorkshire. to the East the names are evidence of later Scandinavian (viking) occupation with place names ending in -by , -carr and -Thorpe
During the 11th Century the name "england" came to be used, this name originated from the folk of Angeln10 in Southern Denmark and Northern Germany who called themselves "Engle"8 later, Angle.
There are two English Place names of Midgley both in West
Wakefield, referred to
as Migelaia in the12th century1.
In Norman times Midgley manor was controlled
from Wakefield manor5
During the Middle Ages a road called the "Magna Via" connected the Halifax region to Wakefield through "Battyeford" this would have allowed easy movement of peoples from the western village of Midgley3.
Research indicates that the Township of
Midgley was an important western control
point for the Manor of Wakefield A study of family
groups from the IGI shows
migration from the area to Halifax occurred
as early as the
1400's as the woollen industry was encouraged
to develop. Village life was yet to
see changes resulting from The
enclosure and urban industrialisation
in the 1700's.
Other seats were Kershaw House at Luddenden, Brearley Hall near Mytholmroyd, Thornton2 , Cullingworth, & Clayton near Bradford and Midgley near Wakefield.
Historical references often state that the surname was first recorded in 1207. A recent study of the Thornhill predecessors, sons and grandsons of Essulf from the 1100's indicates that at least one source for the Midgley Surname surfaced even earlier with the sons and grandsons of Essulf taking their second names from their principal estates. See: Thornhill the Pontefract Chartulary provides us with 'Petri de Migelaya', a.k.a Peter de Flockton, Peter de Birkin, Peter Fitz-Assulf [ eldest son of Assulf the great land holder of the West Riding and brother to Jordan de Thornhill, constable of Pontefract. See Early Names
Raoul Warren in a French novel, "The Assassin" sets a story in Miggeley in the Cevennes in southern France.
See Le Grande Francais Connection
If you require a "look-up" for genealogical purposes I have
*Joseph Hunter's History of the Deanery of
*The 1881 British Census and National index.
* John Watson's History of Halifax.
* Ralph Thoresby's History of Leeds.
J. Horsfall Turner's
*1851 Census Indexes for Midgley, Middlestown, Netherton,
Overton, Altofts, Normanton
, Snydale, Pontefract (G to O),Carleton,
East Hardwick, Aketon, Whitwood,
Featherstone, and Purston Jaglin.
*Marriage Indexes 1813-1837 for:
for 1851 Census.
Cawthorne Parish Registers 1654-1799.
A History of Cricket Heritage of Calderdale
City of Bradford
Australia-Tasmania Genealogy Links
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.p. 277 in Crabshaw
1. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place Names. O.U.P.1997.
2. Midgleyana, John Franklin Midgley, Cape Town 1968.
3. History of Cawthorne.C.T. Pratt 1880.
4. Collins English Dictionary 1979.
5. History of the Principal Cities and Towns of Yorkshire.
6. Parish Register of Halifax Vol. 37
7. Reany, P.H. & Wilson, P.M. A Dictionary of English Surnames. O.U.P. 1995
8. Odijk, Pamela. Angles, Saxons and Jutes.
9. International Genealogical Index.
10. Brown, David. Anglo-Saxon England, The Bodley Head, 1978.
11.Information & coat of arms kindly provided by
Milnethorpe and David Midgley of Tasmania.
12. Phillips G. & Keatman, M. Robin Hood: The Man Behind The Myth, M. O'Mara, p.65, 1995.
13. Longbottom, J. A local antiquarian in a West Riding newspaper article, 1890.
14. Harwood, H.W. Survey of Midgley History, unpublished, January 1957.
15. Cudworth, William. Round about Bradford, 1876.
16. Email communication with Tom Mitchell of Tasmania.
17. Mills, A.D. A Dictionary of English Place-names, 1991, p. 229.
18. History of the family of Stansfeld of Stansfield in the parish of Halifax and its numerous branches, p. 111; Burke's Commoners, Vol. III, p. 60.