Origins of the Ingham Family

INGHAM [also Hyngham and Yngholne] "Prolific in West Yorkshire. There are places in Lincs, Norfolk and Suffolk which may be the source of the early Yorkshire examples. e.g. 1329 Richard Hyngham (Sheffield) [P.T.Y], and Thomas de Ingham of Lincolnshire bought land in Halifax in 1424., [Y. Deeds, Vol.6, p136]. However, the name is particularly common on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border and an alternative derivation might be: 1379 Thomas de Yngholne (Bowland) [P.T.Y], 1584 Thomas Ingham [Bolton by Bowland P.R]. In this case the source would be a minor locality."

- From "Origins of Yorkshire Names", extract supplied by Tana,

The following is taken mostly word for word from an article written by Harold & Carole Ingham or Lincoln, England and is based upon their own research into the Ingham family. They are attempting to track down all descendents, living and dead, of William Ingham of Arthington, Yorkshire. Copyright for the following remains with Harold & Carole Ingham. The maps are based on those prepared by Harold & Carole - any geographical errors are likely my own.

The Origin of the name Ingham and how it might have arrived in the central Pennine Area

Standardised surnames started to develop in the 12th and 13th centuries. In England, the first people to use surnames were probably the Norman noblemen who added the name of their estates to their given names e.g. Simon de Montfort. Later ordinary people adopted surnames which were based on occupations, nicknames, relationships as well as names based on topographical features and names based on particular places, e.g. villages, towns, counties etc. There are five general types of surname origins:

We are concerned with the latter.

This period began in the 12th century and surnames slowly took hold over the next two centuries.

Another form of locative name grew up in areas of scattered settlement, names derived from the names of farmsteads; these names can still be found clustered not far from their point of origin whereas those formed when a person travelled from a place at the period of surname formation may now be clustered a long way from the traveller's starting point (but close to his destination).

At the time that surnames were being developed, if a person left the place where he lived to make his home in a place where he was a stranger he would be asked his name, and from whence he came; thus a William from a place called Ingham would be known as William of Ingham later losing the 'of' to become William Ingham. So in the case of the Norman barons their surnames were linked to their property, i.e. the Manor of Ingham in Norfolk was held by Sir Oliver de Ingham; the common people who left that manor and travelled to live elsewhere simply took the name of their place of origin with them which later became their surname. Hence we have both noble and common stock bearing the same name - this sometimes leads us researchers astray as we all live in hope! Ingham is one such name that arrived in West Yorkshire and Lancashire long ago.

Ingham is Anglo-Saxon for 'seated in a meadow' but where lies our meadow? We have a choice as there is a place called Ingham in Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Norfolk. I found no link with Suffolk. Ingham in Norfolk gave Sir Oliver Ingham who did indeed have West Riding connections, being given land in the manor of Otley in Yorkshire around 1315. Some fifteen years later he lost the land due to taking part in a plot against the King, Edward III. I found no trace of the name Ingham in the Otley area in the 14th century, having examined "The extent of the manor of Otley in 1307 and 1340-41" and again the Poll Tax return of 1379 and other rolls and registers from the 16th century. Sir Oliver had no male heirs. There is a connection between Sir Oliver Ingham and the Stapletons of Bedale, one of whom, Sir Miles Stapleton, married Joan Ingham the daughter of Sir Oliver. Sir Miles Stapleton became "of Ingham and Bedale" but again I could find no obvious links with his family and the Inghams of Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

I then found that, in the year 1424, a Thomas Ingham of Lincolnshire bought land near Halifax. His family could well have ramified in that area, the Ingham name was pretty solid there in the 16th and 17th centuries, but I very much doubt that he alone could have been the progenitor of all the Inghams who were well established in the environs of Halifax and the Sowerby Forest area by the mid to late 16th. To my mind there had to be a much earlier arrival.

Using the I.G.I. for the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire for the period mid 16thc to the last year of the 16thc I found that the name Ingham falls largely between a northern line from Whitewell in Bowland to the north of Leeds and a southern line stretching from south of Chorley, Lancs. to Wakefield, Yorks. The following 50 years, 1600-1650, shows a similar pattern with most of the spread of the name taking place within the aforesaid boundaries; the number of Inghams outside those boundaries, though increasing, is still insignificant. To be more precise, in the last half of the 16thc the I.G.I. shows a total of birth and marriage events concerning Inghams in the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire as 418: of this total only 8 entries fell outside the previously mentioned boundaries. The majority of the Lancashire events took place in Burnley, 131; Whalley, 94; Gisburn and Bolton by Bowland, 32. These churches surrounded Pendle Forest and adjoined Trawden Forest. Over in Yorkshire there were 5 recorded events in Leeds but the majority lay in the Halifax and the Sowerby Forest area, (Heptonstall, Midgely Ovendon and Elland) where there were 127 recorded events.

In the same two counties between 1600 and 1650 the total number of births and marriages was 631, out of this number there were nearly 150 events in the environs of Halifax and Sowerby Forest and over 320 in the Pendle/Trawden forest area. Ingham marriages and births outside the original boundaries totalled 46. The original men 'of Ingham' who came to the area were more than likely few in number, the population of England being small in ancient times and none of the three villages of Ingham were large places anyway, therefore for a small number of people to have ramified in the Central Pennine area to such an extent by the 16th and 17th centuries - despite the high death rate of previous centuries - suggests that their arrival in this area took place sometime in the Middle Ages, probably at a time when surnames were being formed. To give us some idea as to judge the time involved in the ramification of a family, we can look at the Ingham events in Adel Parish between 1631 and 1812; these numbered 94 (baptisms and marriages only); one must remember that the years 1631-1812 include, for the most part, years when the birthrate increased dramatically and the child mortality rate fell, whereas from the Black Death in 1328 to about 1475 the child mortality rate was high and sometimes the death rate was higher than the birth rate. Having found that the name had ramified in the environs of Pendle Forest and the parish of Halifax with only scattered families outside these two areas, can we find any reason for this? What event, or series of events, which took place in the Central Pennines around the 12th century which could account for their presence?

The following two maps showing the distribution of the name Ingham in Lancashire and Yorkshire (based on the IGI) demonstrates the clustering of a locative surname far from the traveller's starting point but close to his destination.

MAP 1 - Ingham IGI entries for marriages and baptisms in Lancashire and Yorkshire up to and including 1599

MAP 2 - Ingham IGI entries for marriages & baptisms in Lancashire and Yorkshire from 1600-1650, inclusive

Why did the first Ingham's travel to this comparatively small belt which stratches mainly from East Lancashire to the West Riding of Yorkshire? When did they arrive? Why did they travel there?

A chance purchase of a book, 'The Making of the Central Pennines', by John Porter (Cromwell Press, Wiltshire), gave the first clues as to a possible solution in that it tells us, amongst other things, that in the late 11thc the Norman Lords started to open up the Central Pennine area and in the process the de Lacey family turned the forests of Bowland, Pendle, Trawden, Accrington and Rossendale into chases for their hunting and sport. By the middle of the 13thc they began to look for an economic return from their chases and so took to cattle rearing in domainal farms known as vaccaries which were situated on the valley and moorland wastes. The cattle had to be fattened in less harsh climes which added to costs - the de Lacey cattle were moved to Norfolk each summer for this reason. By the late 14thc the vaccaries were in decline due to depressed economic conditions and depredations of Scots raiders who penetrated as far as the Ribble Valley. The lords then turned their vaccaries into tenanted farms. Some of these farms became the basis of new villages or townships.

From other reading I found that during the same period, in the Halifax/Sowerby Forest area, under another powerful Lord, the Earl Warenne the same process was taking place on a vast scale. This man too had connections in Norfolk - he held the Honour of Rising which apparently included Ingham, Norfolk.

Is it just a coincidence that in the precise areas of the Central Pennines where the Inghams had ramified - Halifax, Pendle and Trawden - that two Norman knights with Norfolk connections created their vaccaries? The employment of men from Ingham in Norfolk as drovers and probably later as vaccary men then tenant farmers in the forest areas becomes a possibility. So were the ordinary William's, Robert's and John's of Ingham in Norfolk the progenitors of the bulk of the Central Pennine Inghams?

The name is rare outside of Eastern Lancashire and West Yorkshire and apparently always has been. From the 1881 English census, the following distribution was found: Bedfordshire (0), Berkshire (1), Buckinghamshire (1), Cambridgeshire (18), Cheshire (246), Channel Isles (0), Cornwall (0), Cumberland (13), Derbyshire (50), Devonshire (25), Dorset (2), Durham (83), Essex (10), Gloucestershire (9), Hampshire (38), Herefordshire (2), Hertfordshire (15), Huntingdonshire (1), Kent (44), Lancashire (3441), Leicestershire (10), Lincolnshire (143), Middlesex (134), Norfolk (2), Northamptonshire (24), Northumberland (35), Nottinghamshire (59), Oxfordshire (5), Rutlandshire (0), Shropshire (3), Somerset (1), Staffordshire (11), Suffolk (14), Surrey (77), Sussex (10), Warwickshire (17), Westmorland (3), Wiltshire (0), Worcestershire (20) and Yorkshire (2860). A close examination of the records shows that the majority of Inghams were still living in East Lancashire and West Yorkshire, despite the massive population movement since the 17th century.

I would put the number of Inghams in Nottinghamshire down to movement from Ingham Lincs. The Derbyshire Inghams, perhaps, pushed up from Notts and Cheshire Inghams down from Lancs (although it should be noted the Sir Oliver Ingham was, in the 14c, the Constable of Chester and could have left some of his followers behind).

Note: "The Making of the Central Pennines" is a must for anyone wishing to get to know the history of that area.

H. Ingham

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