While researching my family history I have come across a number of unusual surnames and this blog post in the first in a series I plan to write about them. I’ve chosen Palframan for my initial post, in part because it is an interesting occupational surname, and also, because it leads to one of my many brick walls.
Origin of surname
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, Palfreyman, plus its variants Palphreyman, Palfreman, Palfreeman, Palframan and Parfrement, is an occupational surname from the Middle English palefreiman; a man responsible for the palfrey’s or riding horses, alternatively a groom. In the 1881 census there were 645 occurrences of the name, mainly in the West Riding of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Interestingly, Redmonds, in his book on Yorkshire surnames, describes another possible spelling variant, Palphramand, and describes the surname as reflecting the man in charge of the palfreys, or saddle horses. He also explained that in 1881 the surname Palframan was most prominent in Selby with Palframand in York and Palfreeman in York and Pocklington.
My ancestral connections
My ancestors mostly use the variant Palframan, although the records for my five times great grandfather, Michael (1722-1812), also include the variant Palfreyman. Michael died in Pontefract, West Riding of Yorkshire and his burial record gives his age as 90, suggesting he was born about 1722, and that he was a hatter. He was apprenticed to Joseph Rawnsley, a hatter, of Pontefract and his stamp duty was paid in 1740 for his apprenticeship. By 1753 Michael was master to an apprentice, Thomas Thresh, and his occupation given as a felt maker. Despite searching I’ve been unable to find his baptism and parents. I do have a working theory but need more evidence to prove a link. Michael’s 1740 apprenticeship record gave his father’s name as Michael.
The following chart shows Michael and two generations of his descendants. The people circled in black are, reading from left to right, my five times great grandfather Michael, my four times great grandfather John (1754-1839) and my three times great grandfather Michael (1782-1877) who was the father of my two times great grandmother Sarah (1845-1920). Thomas Palframan, annotated in orange at the top of the chart, is the father of my first cousin four times removed, John (1817-1874), who moved to farm in Wistow, Yorkshire and whom more about later. The chart has also been annotated to show where in Yorkshire each family group lived.
Hambleton is 9 miles (about 13 km) from Pontefract and I was intrigued as to why my four times great grandfather John (1754-1839) moved from Pontefract to Hambleton.
John Palframan (1754-1839)
John was baptised on 19 August 1754 in St Giles and St Mary’s church, Pontefract. He married Ann Booth (1751-1831) in the same church on 12 December 1782. They had six sons and two daughters and were living in Hambleton by the time their second son Thomas (1756-1858) was baptised in St Wilfrid’s Church, Brayton. The following map shows the layout of Brayton in 1851; St Wilfrid’s church is marked with a circle.
Brayton and Hambleton were largely agricultural areas as described in the following two extracts from Lewis’s topological directory of England dated 1848. At that time only Brayton had a parish church and this is where John and his wife continued to baptise their children.
Whilst living in Hambleton John was recorded as possessing an alehouse licence in 1803 and in 1810 he appeared in land tax records showing that he occupied land owned by the Vicar of Brayton and William Bew senior. By 1822 he still occupied land owned by William Bew and the Reverend Richard Paver. In the same land tax record his son John (1883-1859) was recorded as occupying land owned by the Hon. Edward Petre, who later became the Mayor of York in 1830.
John died in January 1839 and was buried on 13 January 1839 in Brayton parish church. The ceremony was conducted by the Vicar of Brayton, the Reverend Richard Paver, the owner of the land he occupied in Hambleton.
John and Ann’s fourth son, Michael Palframan (1792-1877), is my three times great grandfather. He married his first wife Sarah Slater (1797-1834), on 3 March 1823 in Brayton. They had seven children, four boys and three girls.
By 1832 Michael was also occupying a house and land owned by the Hon. Edward Petre and in the same year Michael appeared in the Poll Book for Hambleton as the occupier of a “farm above £50 per year”. His brother John and Joseph also appeared in the same Poll Book.
Soon after Michael’s first wife Sarah died, he married Martha Seymour (1813-1889), on 26 December 1835. They had nine children: five boys and four girls. I am descended from their daughter, Sarah (1845-1920), my two times great grandmother.
By the 1841 census Michael was described as a farmer in Hambleton. The following map shows the layout of Hambleton in 1850 with a circle around the Wesleyan Chapel.
By 1871 Michael farmed 96 acres and employed three labourers. He lived in Chapel Street, Hambleton. The approximate position of the street can be seen in the above map as the Wesleyan Chapel is located on it.
When Michael died on 25 February 1877 he was described as a farmer from Hambleton and his sons George and Michael, also farmers from Hambleton, were his executors. Michael left effects valued under £450.
Thomas Palframan (1786-1858) and John Palframan (1817-1874)
Thomas was the brother of my three times great grandfather, Michael; i.e., my 4th great uncle. He too became a farmer and by 1832 was farming at Henwick Hall, Burn where the Poll Book recorded him as a “Farmer £50 rent” per year. He continued to farm at Henwick Hall and the 1851 census recorded that he was a farmer of 164 acres employing two men. He was still living at Henwick Hall when he died on 17 March 1858 leaving effects under £600. The following is a modern photograph of Henwick Hall farm:
Thomas’ eldest son John (1817-1874) left Burn to farm in Wistow. He was recorded in the 1871 census as a farmer of 86 acres who employed two labourers at “Old Ouse”. John is buried with his wife Sarah Otley (1818-1872) in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Wistow. The majority of their children stayed in Yorkshire except their daughter Mary (1847-1916) and son John (1856-1924) who both emigrated to Ontario, Canada
Finally, the brick wall
I am intrigued as to how the son of a hatter from Pontefract came to move to a more rural area where he kept an alehouse, and also perhaps, became a small farmer. I would like to know more about all the people mentioned in this blog post, and in particular, if there is any information about the parents of my five times great grandfather Michael, the hatter/felt maker, from Pontefract. It seems his father was called Michael. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share.
Note: the maps used in this blog have been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ and sourced from the NLS maps site https://maps.nls.uk/.
Bill Henderson/Henwick Hall Farm via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0
Brayton. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/WRY/Brayton : accessed May 2021.
Census records. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
Hanks, Patrick et al. (2016.) The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Lewis, Samuel ed. (1848) A Topological Directory of England. London: Lewis. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/england : accessed May 2021.
Petre, Hon. Edward. https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1820-1832/member/petre-hon-edward-1794-1848 : accessed May 2021.
Redmonds, George. ((2015) A Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames. Donington: Shaum Tyas.
UK, Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1538-1893. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentice’s Indentures, 1710-1811. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
Vision of Britain. https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
West Yorkshire, England, Alehouse Licences, 1771-1962. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1512-1812. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
West Yorkshire, England, Select Land Tax Records, 1704-1932. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
Yorkshire baptisms, marriages and burials. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed May 2021.
My Great-great aunt, Maud Allon Dixon was married to Michael Palframan 1849-1907 they had 2 daughters, Mollie & Mary Isabel. Lived in Skipwith.
Pauline Thanks for this information. I will need to see how it ties up with what I know about other Palframan’s. There are a lot of Michael’s!
Hello there.Many years ago my father was sent a two page print document of the Palframan family history by a distant relative. If you are interested I can send you a copy with pleasure.
That would be lovely. If you use the contact form I can then reply to your email. Best wishes Joan
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