Category Archives: Yorkshire

Digweed – origin of the surname

Researching the Digweed side of my family has been much helped by Jenny who had already done so much before I even got started. She has also been a wonderful source of family photographs, something which adds so much to the stories of our ancestors.

What I hadn’t realised, until I started to look at my Digweed ancestors, is that the surname isn’t a Yorkshire surname. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names, Digweed, and its variant Digwood, is a locative surname. Their presumption is that it comes from Thickwood in Colerne, Wiltshire. At some point -weed was substituted for -wood.

The dictionary also provides some information about early bearers of the surname, the earliest of which was Thomas de Thikwode, found in Colerne, Wiltshire in the 1332 Subsidy Rolls. So far, I have traced the Digweed line back to probably my 8th great grandfather William Digweed, possibly born about 1600 in Thatcham, Berkshire; a place about 43 miles from Thickwood. Interestingly the dictionary mentions a record for Guilelmi Digweed 1683 in Kingsclere, Hampshire and two records in Thatcham: Thomas Digweed 1691 and Ann Digwood 1764, which could be relevant to my research.

Unfortunately, the only available on-line parish records for Thatcham are transcriptions with the earliest baptism an unnamed Diggwid dated 16 March 1627, earliest marriage John Digweed/Digwood to Mary Norcutt on 30 November 1612 and earliest burial of John Diggwid on 16 August 1629. When I looked at a small selection of the Thatcham parish records, I found the following additional surname variants: Diggweed, Diggwidd and Dugwidd. A trip to consult the originals at the County Record Office is now on my list.

My Digweed ancestors continued to live near the parish of Thatcham, probably until the middle of the 18th century, when they next appear in the parish records for Hampstead Norris in Berkshire. William (1739-1823), my 4th great grandfather, married his wife Sarah Shackler (1739-1796) on 10 March 1765 in St Mary the Virgin, Hampstead Norris (see following photograph).

St Mary the Virgin, Hampstead Norris

William and Sarah’s 6th son, John (1791-1855), my 3rd great grandfather, was baptised on 29 May 1791 in St Mary’s Church, Hampstead Norris. He married Rachel Hilliear (1793-1851) on 26 August 1811 in St Michael and All Angels Church, Inkpen. They had at least eight children which included seven sons and one daughter. The family initially lived in Inkpen and had moved to Ham by 1817 when their second son was born. John was recorded as a farm labourer living in the village of Ham in both the 1841 and 1851 censuses. It was largely an agricultural area as described in Lewis’ 1848 topographical directory of England:

Lewis’ 1848 Topographical Directory of England – Ham

Rachel and John remained in Ham until their deaths in 1851 and 1855 respectively. The following OS map dated 1877 shows the relative locations of Ham and Inkpen and the arrow indicates that Hungerford was about 4 miles north of Ham.

Extract from OS Map Berkshire XLI dated 1877

John and Rachel’s youngest son was my 2nd great grandfather Thomas (1836-1910). He was baptised on 1 May 1836 in Ham parish church and, at the age of 14, was recorded as an agricultural labourer in the 1851 census in Ham.  Thomas married Mary Ann Tuttle (1837-1900) on 1 May 1959 in St Mary’s Church, Reading. The family were living in Sherfield upon Loddon, Hampshire by the time my great grandfather Francis (1873-1959) was born.

Francis was only recorded with his parents in the 1881 census. By 1891 he was a boarder in a household in Hayes, Middlesex, where he was described as a “groom domestic servant”. At some point he moved to Yorkshire where he married my great grandmother Violet Kate Richardson (1878-1971) on 16 October 1900 in St Helen’s Church, Stillingfleet. By 1901 they were living at West Marton near Skipton where Francis was working as a “coachman domestic servant”.

It is likely that the family had moved to Escrick, near York, by 1905. In 1911 Francis, Violet and six children where living at Escrick Park with Francis described as a “coachman domestic”. He continued to work for the Lawley/Forbes-Adam family and in 1939 was described as a “Chauffeur”. The following photograph shows him with the car he drove:

Great Grandfather Francis Digweed

Francis and Violet continued to live in Escrick Park until their deaths in 1959 and 1971, respectively. The following photograph is of Francis and Violet’s grave in St Helen’s Churchyard, Escrick.

St Helen’s Churchyard, Escrick – Francis and Violet Digweed’s gravestone

I am interested in knowing more about the origins of the Digweed family on the Berkshire/Wiltshire/Hampshire borders. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


1939 Register.  : accessed December 2021.

Births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials.  and : accessed December 2021.

Census Records.  : accessed December 2021.

Ham. : accessed December 2021.

Hampstead Norris (Hamstead Norreys). : accessed December 2021.

Hanks, Patrick et al. (2016.) The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Inkpen. : accessed December 2021.

Lewis, Samuel ed. (1848) A Topological Directory of England. London: Lewis. : accessed June 2021.

OS Maps. : accessed December 2021.

Thatcham. : accessed December 2021.

Thomas Lazenby and Antonia Armstrong – my eight times great grandparents

According to Redmonds dictionary of Yorkshire surnames, Lazenby is an example of a geographical surname which was derived from three possible places, two in Yorkshire: Lazenby near Northallerton and Lazenby near Redcar plus Lazonby in Cumberland, which suggests a number of distinct origins for the surname.

By the early 14th century there were examples of the surname in the North Riding of Yorkshire, York and the West Riding of Yorkshire. A major expansion of the surname had taken place in York and nearby villages and it is possible that my ancestors are descended from this group, although my research is still a work in progress. Certainly, by the 17th century there was a concentration of Laysenby’s and Laysnby’s in York and the nearby village of Huntington who, used distinctive first names like Seth and Wilfray. This group were linked by Redmonds to some important York families, including the anti-clerical poet Wilfrid Holme and the Snawsells family.

By the 1881 census, Lazenby was reasonably numerous in Yorkshire with higher totals in Pocklington, Selby and York. Lazonby was a rarer variant of the surname and found mostly in Durham and Cumberland.

Thomas (b. about 1684) and Antonia (b. about 1684) – Thomas was born about 1684 and there is a possible baptism for him in York dated 28 September 1864 to father Thomas Lazenbie. There is another potential baptism in Holy Trinity Church, York in 1685 to parents John and Ann, however there is also a burial record for a young man called Thomas in 1699 who may be the same person as in this baptism.

Thomas married his wife Antonia Armstrong on 17 June 1704 in St Crux church, York. Their marriage license suggested they were to be married in St Denys Church, York which, at that time, was also linked to the parish of Acaster Malbis. On the license Thomas was described as a yeoman and he signed it together with Thomas Simpson. He gave his residence as “Gilridding” which was a property in Naburn, a village near York. Naburn was also part of the parish of Acaster Malbis and was where Antonia was baptised on 3 December 1684. Her father was Methamus (Matthew) Armstrong (1650-1690) and her mother was his second wife Isabella Gray. The following descendant chart shows what’s been found so far for Methamus and his family:

Descendant chart for Methamus Armstrong

Thomas and Antonia continued to live in Naburn and had at least five children, one son and four daughters. Their second daughter Rebecca (1716-1792) was my 7th great grandmother. She may have had a child called Francis before she married her husband Nicholas Simpson (1714-1800). Rebecca and Nicholas were married by license, dated 20 July 1744, in York Minster on 27 July 1744. Their license described Nicholas as a husbandman aged 27 from Saxton and Rebecca a spinster aged 26 from Stillingfleet. It was signed Nicklas Simpson, John Nicholson and Wm Morritt. Saxton is about 12 miles from York and 8 miles from Stillingfleet. Stillingfleet is 3 miles from Naburn and 7 miles from York. I do wonder how Nicholas and Rebecca met.

The following outline descendant report shows Thomas, Antonia, their children and grandchildren.

Descendant report for Thomas Lazenby

Towards the top of the chart, I have highlighted Francis Lazenby, as one hypothesis I have, is that he was Rebecca’s illegitimate son. He appears in the Saxton records in 1756 when an indenture was paid for his apprenticeship to William Stoker, wheelwright. Francis married Susannah Stubbs (1739-1810) in Saxton on 11 April 1770 by license. The license was witnessed by John Firth and Will Morritt. It is possible that Will was either the same person who witnessed Rebecca and Nicholas’ marriage license or someone related to him. It does seem that there were some connections between the Morritt and Nicholson families, as there is a record of a William Morritt marrying Ann Nicolson on 3 December 1736 in Saxton church.

Francis and Susannah had at least six children; two of their son’s baptisms described his mother as Rebecca, daughter of Thomas Lazenby of Stockton, and his father as John Lazenby also of Stockton. It is likely that Stockton was a property about 10 miles North West of Saxton. However, no baptism has been found for Francis. 

Descendants of Rebecca and Nicholas Simpson continued to live in Saxton into the 19th century and can be found in census records. For example, William Simpson (1787-1861), my first cousin 7 times removed, was recorded in the 1851 census in Saxton village and was described as a farmer of 35 acres employing one labourer.

Lewis’ 1848 topographical dictionary of England described Saxton as follows:

Saxton, Yorkshire from Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of England

Members of the Lazenby and Simpson families were found as tenants of both the Gascoigne family and Lord Hawke in the West Yorkshire land tax records held on Ancestry.

Lastly – I would like to know more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. So far, I’ve been unable to find burial burials for Thomas Lazenby and Antonia. He may have moved to a property called Stockton 10miles North West of Saxton, but a search of the burials records for the surrounding parishes has so far failed to find them. They weren’t found in the records of the parishes of Naburn or Stillingfleet either. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.


Births, marriages and deaths. : accessed September 2021.

Census. : accessed September 2021.

Lewis, Samuel ed. (1848) A Topological Directory of England. London: Lewis. : accessed September 2021.

Naburn (in parish of Acaster Malbis). : accessed September 2021.

Redmonds, George. ((2015) A Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames. Donington: Shaum Tyas.  

Saxton. : accessed September 2021.

Stillingfleet. : accessed September 2021.

UK, Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811. : accessed September 2021.

West Yorkshire, England, Select Land Tax Records, 1704-1932. : accessed September 2021.

York Minster Marriage Register. : accessed September 2021.

Yorkshire baptisms, marriages and burials. : accessed September 2021.