The Wellocks of High Garnshaw, Hebden in Craven

The trees tell you all you need to know about the weather, strategically placed to counter the wind, rain and snow blowing off Mire Ridge to the west. The substantial stone walls bordering Tinkers (historically Tinklers) Lane carry their own story, of an ancient thoroughfare now forbidding to all but the most substantial vehicle. This is High Garnshaw, Hebden, home to several generations of our ancestors and Wellock cousins spanning 250 years.

The Wellocks have been linked to Linton in Craven ever since William Walok paid 4d of poll tax in 1379. (Incidentally this reference led me to researching the Peasants Revolt of 1381 and from there to a reference to Linton & Rylestone participants in the 1569 Northern Rebellion….but that will need to be a subject of another blog). Hebden was historically part of Linton-in-Craven parish but sufficiently different to be noted in the records.

Records from here on variously refer to Garnshaw, High Garnshaw, Tinkler’s Lane or even just Hebden. Whilst it’s hard to be certain these all refer to the same place (particularly as there is both a High Garnshaw and a Garnshaw house in close proximity), I take heart from Harry Speight, who in 1900 wrote the following about Linton “There are still resident in the parish several worthy families, descendants of the old yeoman class, who have lived on the land held by their forefathers for generations and even centuries.” Whilst the ever-present Harry neglects to make any mention of the Wallocke or Wellock families in his book “Upper Wharfedale” he was not alone in this characterisation of the people who lived in the parish of Linton for Rev. Thomas Dunham Whitaker wrote thus “the tenantry lived in so much plenty and security, the tenements descended so regularly from father to son” in his book “The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, in the County of York” published in 1818.

An extract of an ordnance survey map showing High Garnshaw House and its relationship to Grassington. Hebden and Linton-in-Craven are just off the bottom of the map.

Here follows a timeline showing the evidence of our connection to Garnshaw.

1651 – “John & Mary Twins of James Symson of Garneshaw bapt. 11o of May.”

The very first mention of Garnshaw belongs to our 9xG Grandfather, James Symson. James married Isabell Ramell in 1639 and by the time the twins were born had already baptized three children. It is entirely possibly James himself was born and brought up on the same farm. Sadly this baptism was not a happy occaision. Isabell likely died in childbirth (being buried on 4 May 1651 and the twins were to follow on 7 December the same year). Agnes, (b. 31 December 1653) James’s daughter with his second wife, Mary, was to marry George Wellock in 1674 and thus begin the connection between the Wellocks & Garnshaw.

1674“Robert son of George Wallocke [was] borne at Garneshaw bapt. 16to Augusti [1674]” followed swiftly on from “George Wallocke & Agnes Symson both of this Parish were married 28th day of April [1674]” suggesting that the newly married George had moved in with his father-in-law James.  

1685 – “Willm son of George Wallocke Garneshaw bapt. 18th day of October.” George & Agnes were to have three further children including our 7x G Grandfather, William.

1702 – “Robert Wellock of Garnshaw burd ye 18 day of June.” Robert’s untimely death in 1702 (he would have been just 28) brought to an end this first period of connection to Garnshaw. William (our direct ancestor) (1685 – 1758) would have been too young to take over the property and clearly struggled to find a permanent tenancy, moving from Grassington to Threshfield to Coniston Cold all within a few miles of Garnshaw. William’s son William (6x G Grandfather) (1726 – 1813) was to establish a base at Upper Cow House in Winterburn where his son William (5x G Grandfather) (1748 – 1813) was born.

There is then a 50 year and three generation gap before we return to High Garnshaw.

1795 – “Richd. son of Richd. Wellock Tinkler lane Bapd. [June] 28th” – it was William’s son Richard (4 x G Grandfather) (1765 – 1849) who was to re-establish the Wellock connection to High Garnshaw. Richard married Mary Windsor at Arncliffe in 1789. Their first child, Jenny, was also baptized at the church there. By the time their son William arrived in 1792 the couple were described as living “near Hebden” and then in 1795 as “Tinkler Lane.” Whilst there would have been other dwellings on Tinkler Lane, the evidence of subsequent family connection to this specific property causes me to believe that they were now living at High Garnshaw house itself.

1810 – “Thomas son of Richard Wellack Tinkler lane, Farmer, Bapd. [June] 24th” – our 3 x G Grandfather, Thomas, was the eighth of Richard & Mary’s eleven children. Thomas was to establish another multi-generational tenancy at Toft Gate at Greenhow Hill. However, it was Thomas’s youngest sibling, Robert, who was to continue the connection the Wellock to High Garnshaw.

1846 title map showing an outline of the fields occupied by Richard Wellock.

1846 – thanks to a translation of the 1842 tithe assessment we can see the exact fields which made up the farm of High Garnshaw: Old House Field, Little Field, Low Laithe Field, Garth, Cow Garth, Far Field x 2, Strip, Intake, Paddock & Wogan Meadows plus the house itself were all occupied by Richard Wellock. The distinctive curve of Intake field (bottom left) can still be seen on modern photos.

1862 report of the alleged sexual assualt of Mary Wellock at High Garnshaw

1860 – Mary, Robert’s eldest daughter, went to work for a nearby farmer. In 1860, Mary alleged that a Mr Constantine “went into the room of the plaintiff, and committed an assault on her.” Mary moved back in with her family to have the baby and is recorded as living at High Garnshaw, together with her 4 day old daughter Fanny, in the 1861 census. Whilst at the time the case was judged to be nonsuited (meaning dismissed for lack of evidence) it is very hard to imagine a farmer’s daughter in the 1860s choosing to go to court to pursue a false allegation.

1865 – Robert’s youngest son, Jenkinson Wellock, was born. Jenkinson married Ellen Moore in 1888 and they had five children together.

1897John William Wellock, Jenkinson’s middle child, was born in 1897. John served in the West Riding regiment in WW1 and was killed in action on 8 September 1918. Although the family had moved out by the time of the war, John is remembered on the Hebdenhistory website.

The 1901 census is the last census showing Wellocks at High Garnshaw. Jenkinson heads the household, together with his wife, four of their children and his father, Robert.

1903 – John’s sister, Ellen, was the last Wellock child to be born at High Garnshaw on 21 February 1903.

By the time of the 1911 census, the Wellocks had moved out of High Garnshaw. Jenkinson, was boarding separately from his family with a woman he later went on to marry.

Ellen was my great grandmother (Mary Wellock)’s cousin and the 6x great grandchild of James Symson with whom we started our story.

In tracing our Wellock ancestry I owe a deep gratitude to my sister’s friend, Hazel Ratcliffe, whose daughter happened to have a child with a Wellock third cousin of ours and who kindly shared her research into our shared Wellock ancestry. I also am grateful to the Rev. F.A.C. Share M.A., Rector of Linton, who patiently transcribed the parish registers for St Michaels and All Angels Church, Linton in Craven for the Yorkshire Parish Register Society. These were published in 1900 (available on and are the source for everything I quote in italics above. My final thanks go to the author of for making the census and other research so much swifter.

Finding Agnes Symson (1653 – 1702)

There are so many reasons to be proud and grateful for being born a Yorkshire lass and whilst I suspect that there aren’t many people who would put the Yorkshire Parish Register Society on that list they have proved absolute gold dust in helping evidence the depth of our Yorkshire roots.

Founded in 1899 the aim of the Yorkshire Parish Register Society was to transcribe and publish at least one volume of an original parish register every year (complete with indices, an absolute godsend). It came as no surprise to discover that the first volume concerned St Michael-Le-Belfrey, possible the primary church in York (minster excluded). As the introduction explains:

The City of York is rich in Churches, and consequently in Parish Registers also. These cannot fail to be interesting to a large number of Yorkshiremen, because many of our County families sprang from amongst its citizens, and many of the junior members of other families of distinction, in the country, were brought up and followed their professions or callings here. As the capital of the north, also, York was the resort of many persons in the highest stations of life, from all parts of the Kingdom, so there can be no town in the county, and perhaps in the Kingdom, London excepted, in which the Parish Registers can equal, in interest, those of York”. Yet these parish registers are the most egalitarian of history books recording rich & poor, men, women & infants alike (almost, as mothers are for more rarely referenced) allowing us to trace, recognise and amplify our ancestors whatever their station and gender. The single mention in a parish register of of “Wid Swinden, pauper”, my 7x great grandmother even inspired a poem. Given our ancestors were agricultural labourers, tenants of a few acres or a yeoman at best there is little evidence of their existence. We were rarely poor enough to require a record of relief and never wealthy enough to for others to write about. Yet the parish registers have enabled me to trace several lines deep into the 17th & even 16th centuries.

St Michaels & All Angels Church, Linton-in-Craven. Own photo. The church dates back to the twelfth century. It’s hard to explain the surety of place that those of us with deep roots in rural Yorkshire parishes can feel. I can be fairly certain my ancestors saw this church being built.

Volume V (published 1900) & XVIII (published 1903) concerned the parish of St Michael’s & All Angels Church, Linton in Craven, faithfully transcribed in two parts by the Rev. F. A. C. Share. M. A. then rector of Linton. Thanks to the Rev. Share (and at least one other Wellock descendent) I have long since been able to trace my Wellock line back 450 years to one Robert Wellock, father of William Wellock, who was baptised his son in this very church in 1574.

This is where Agnes Symson, our 8xg grandmother crops up, apparently apparating into the parish of Linton-in-Craven, just in time for her marriage to George Wellock (Wallocke) on 28 April 1674. Whilst the Wellocks are well documented, their wives haven’t been accorded the same attention. In reviewing the original record, I was struck by one simple phrase “both of this parish.”

The hunt was on.

the first appearance of Agnes Symson in the Yorkshire Parish Register Society transcripts of the Linton-in-Craven parish registers.

Reviewing the registers suggested two possible candidates for her father, James “of Garneshaw” and Robert “of Hebden Moor.” Fortunately Robert was quickly eliminated as “Agnes the Dau : of Robert Symson of Hebden Moor side baptized the same day, viz: 6to March [1663/1664]” would not have been old enough to marry in 1674 and ensured that Robert would not have had an older Agnes, at least not one who survived childhood. (As an aside, I am reasonably confident that Robert & James must have been brothers with a mother named Agnes as it was not that common a name.)

I also knew that Agnes & George were also described as “of Garneshaw” in their children’s baptisms. This was looking promising.

James appears numerous times in the register: in 1639 when he married Isabel Rathmell and in 1651 when Isabel is buried, in the baptisms of Margaret (1640), William (1645), Ann (1646), Thomas (1656) and Mary (1662), in the burials of William (1646), John & Mary (twins buried in 1651) and John (1661) (where he is named as father) and of his second wife Mary (1681) as well as his own burial on 18 November 1684. If James was such a regular attender of church (at least so far as baptisms, marriages and burials were concerned) why why was there no baptism for Agnes?

This is where I am again grateful to Rev. Share[1] for his commitment to the task at hand extracting every last detail he could where records were in poor condition. I was struck by the following two entries.

…ghter of James Symson……in ye townshippe….borne ye last day of December, baptized ye 80 of January following [1653/1654]

[here follow. fragments of about a dozen baptisms ; only these Christian names are left, viz. : Margret, Elizabeth, Thomas, Agnes, Henry, and Isabell.] Wm Perte of Griston Hall yeat b…..d day of March. A……of….Knight…..rneshaw was borne the ….day of March 55 [sic]………[follows on from 4 October] [1655/1656]

Despite the obvious connection between “Agnes” and “rneshaw” I felt confident in ruling out the second entry as James’s son Thomas was born on 4 June 1656. Which left me with “…ghter of James Symson.” This had to be Agnes.  

Here then, courtesy of Rev Share and the Yorkshire Parish Register Society, is Agnes’s story.

Agnes Symson was born on 31 December 1653, a non-momentous day for most in that age, as the calendar was not to change for another century. Momentous though for her mother, Mary, being the safe delivery of her first child. James, on the other hand, was doubtless hoping for a boy. Isabel, his first wife, had given birth to five children, Margaret (b. 1640), William (b. 1646), Ann (b. 1646) and then twins, John & Mary in 1651, but William & the twins had died as infants, the birth of the twins likely resulting in the death of their mother (Isabel was buried on 4 May, the twins were baptised on 11 May and buried on 17 December the same year).

Husbandry in these parts was not without challenges as these wonderful two entries illustrate: “Robert Holdgate of Garneshaw who was lost by a tempest of snow that fell the 3 day of January att night was found the 10th and buried the 11th day of the said January [1659/1660]” and “Septembr 17th 1673 happened a great fflood wch overflowing the Banke in the lower end of the Churchyard covered the most pt thereof below the Church. Burnesall bridge & Bolton Bridge & many more were driven downe by the violence of said fflood”. I’ve written before about Yorkshire snow, this can be a bleak and unforgiving landscape.  

By 1674, James was getting on in life, likely in his late fifties or early sixties. Thomas, the only son James had not seen buried as a child, was still only 18, too young to take over the land. Agnes, then 20, may have been anxious when she shared the news of her forthcoming pregnancy, but, in reality, this must have been seen as a blessing. George Wellock, 26, was the third son of a local farmer, trained from birth to run a similarly placed smallholding but without a tenancy to inherit.

So it was that Agnes & George started a Wellock connection with Garnshaw which, with some gaps, was to last over 200 years.

Agnes & George had four children: Robert (b. 1674) (Robert was baptised in August 1674, four months after the couple were married), Isabella (b. 1676) (named after James’s first wife?), Anne (b. 1683) and William (b. 1685) (our ancestor). The couple must have felt secure. Sadly, this was not to prove the case. George died in November 1694, leaving Agnes with four children aged between 9 & 20. It looks like Robert, then 20, may have been the one to take on the tenancy. Possible, not easy. Possible that is, until Robert, then aged 28, died in 1702, buried on 18 June in St Michael’s & All Angels churchyard. Agnes, then living nearby in Grassington, may well have come to tend her eldest son through illness, for she died and was buried just three days after Robert thus ending Agnes’s tale.

the last appearance of Agnes in the Yorkshire Parish Register Society transcripts of the Linton-in-Craven parish registers

[1] Harry Speight in his book Upper Wharfedale, describes the Rev Share thus “Of Mr Share’s labours in the parish little now need be said. He is a hard and zealous worker, and I believe has never missed preaching a single Sunday since his induction to the living in October 1891. The industrious rector appears quite content with the 13,000 and odd acres of ground within his parish, and has sought no holiday nor other means of recreation than what this large expanse of mountain, moor, and pasture afford. He has lately copied for publication by the Yorkshire Parish Register Society, the important but ill-kept and in places much tattered registers of his parish, a work requiring the closes scrutiny and painstaking transcription”.