Archive for the ‘Early History’ Category


(Updated details on the Inskip Y-DNA Study page . )

A wonderful opportunity has arisen to include the Inskip One-Name Study in the University of Leicester’s ground breaking project Roots of the British. We are therefore looking for men to take part in the study, whose ‘natural’ father had the surname Inskip, Inskeep, or Inskipp.  We need 90 volunteers who are no closer than second cousins to each other ie not father and son , brothers,  first cousins or first nephews.

Professor Mark Jobling, and Dr Turi King at Leicester University, have set out to use genetics as a basis for establishing the population history of the British Isles.  To date they have worked on questions such as the Viking ancestry in the North West England, and the link between surnames and a common ancestor: their work is published on the Roots of the British website.

The objective of the Inskip One-Name project will be to feed into the Roots of the British study, and to see if men with the surname Inskip share a common paternal ancestor or not.  Also to see what links might show up between the different geographical clusters eg are the Bedfordshire Inskips the same family as the Staffordshire Inskips?  Do the Leicester Inskips share a common ancestor with any other groups?

Taking part in the study will mean the University of Leicester sending you the simple equipment and instructions to take a brushing from the inside of the cheek – in layman’s terms it is the quick wipe of a cotton wool bud and takes no more than 10 minuites.  This is then put in a sealed test tube and returned to Leicester in a pre-paid envelope.  The tests are then carried out in the much respected  Departments of Genetics at Leicester.  We will keep everyone who takes part notified of when the results can be expected.  The purpose of this study is historical academic research and there will be no charges made for tests to participants.

The final analysis will be given in papers by the Roots of the British team, and will help in the overall understanding of the ancestry of the British.

If you would like to take part  or discuss taking part then please contact me at inskip@one-name.org.

The Roots of the British Project is sponsored by The Wellcome Trust and has been reviewed by the Leicestershire, Northamptonshire & Rutland Research Ethics Committee.


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John and Margaret Inskip were married in January 1584, a reasonably common month to marry as weddings were not allowed during the Christmas or Lent periods.  John was aged around 28 and Margaret 26 – couples at this time only got married when they had the means to support a family and somewhere to live.  John and tudor6Margaret were relatively young for the time, up to 25% of young people in the early seventeenth century never married because they could not afford to set up a family, including John’s son Robert.

The couple had 8 children, one every two-three years, from Robert (1585) to Dorothy (1604), with no recorded child burials – given the difficult times they were living in in the 1590’s (plague broke out in nearby London in 1592/3, whilst 1596 and 1597 saw the worst harvests for a century, followed nationally by malnutrition)  this is an unusual achievement.  Interestingly conception was usually around December or August, suggesting they were not involved in tiring harvesting work, but enjoyed a rest and feasting at Christmas.

Margaret died in March 1614; she was born around 1558, at a dip in the national population, entered the menopause around age 47, and died age 56, a reasonable lifespan. With death from childbirth, illness and economic conditions around every corner Margaret’s classic female sixteenth century life shows good management.

John Inskip married second, wife, Alice Goodine from Warden Street in April 1615, he was aged around 59 and she was possibly in her late 30’s. Coming a year after Margaret’s death this was fairly late, many men married within months of a wife’s death as the family had to be supported.  However, John’s youngest child was aged 10, five others were likely servants elsewhere, and the two elder girls, who both married in Warden, may have lived at home. In September 1615 John was involved in the court case over enclosure. John had two further children with Alice,  Mary in 1616, who died at birth,  and Henry in 1617.

John Inskip died in late October 1626,  he was probably a committed Protestant who explored Puritan ways along with other Warden townspeople in the years from the 1570’s.  The Old Warden area was part of the cradle for Bedfordshire non-conformist belief that took hold in the mid-seventeenth century.  Evidence for John’s beliefs comes from the christening of his eldest daughter Elizabeth in Southill in 1595 at a time when the village had charismatic Puritan preachers;  and the naming of his second daughter Rebecca in 1598, one of the new biblical names beloved of Puritans and given to around 10% children instead of their godparents names.   The majority of children in Old Warden, as elsewhere in southern England, where given one of the popular names of  Elizabeth, Mary, Ann or John, Thomas, William and Richard.

Picture source:  A summer rural scene showing a sheep being dipped and in the background a maid milking a cow. © Folger library

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Map picture

For the last nine months I have been deep in old parchments trying to find out why the Inskips first moved to Old Warden, Bedfordshire in the late sixteenth century.  The result has been a village reconstruction of all the families in Old Warden between 1537 when Warden’s Cistercian Abbey was Dissolved, and the 1660 Restoration of the Monarchy.

So what of the Inskips? Well, John Inskip, born around 1556,  is still the earliest Inskip in the village, with his 1584 marriage to Margaret Pope – the Popes were in Old Warden at the Reformation.  John Inskip set out, probably from the Lancashire Fylde, around the 1570’s to seek opportunity.  He was part of the migration of young men from the North to the South-East of England at a time of great economic and cultural change in the country.  I found evidence of other young men in Old Warden from Lancashire and Yorkshire.

It is likely that he was the son of a husbandman – a rank in Elizabethan society- and may well have taken out a contract as a farm servant in Old Warden.  Very many young people in those times became farm servants, often on annual contacts, from age 11 – that is how they learnt how to earn a living and maintain a family.

Margaret Pope inherited her fathers copyhold tenement.  She and John lived next to what was the vicarage (possibly now the Old Post Office) on a small plot of land with a three bay cottage, a garden, an orchard and a two bay barn.  They had common rights to graze two oxen and a cow. Unlike other Warden cottagers, they didn’t keep sheep.  They paid 5 shillings a year for a copyhold worth 10 shillings in 1605 and 30 shillings in 1622.  However, they could not possibly have lived off such a small holding and so John must have had a trade and/or wage employment.  The documents were reluctant to provide that information so I have speculated on the following:

Ø Drovers or carters – based on their travel and keeping oxen with only a smallholding.

Ø Weavers or tailors – Alice Inskip’s kin (John’s second wife) were tailors, as was John Inskip’s grandson. They may have had expertise in flax weaving from Kirkham in the Fylde.

Ø Horticultural labourers – based on the family predominance in market gardening from the late seventeenth century and land fertility expertise in the Fylde, plus John’s orchard and barn.

Many ancient copyhold tenancies in Old Warden were brought out and merged into larger farms during the late sixteenth, early seventeenth century – as was the case in many areas of the country, as land was made more productive in order to feed a growing population.   However,  John held on to his copyhold and in 1615 was one of a group of men who took a local landlord to court for enclosing common land.  The documents of the case are still in the National Archives in Kew.  John must have won the case (that part is not in the archive) as when he died in 1626 he passed his copyhold to eldest son Robert.  When Robert died unmarried, around 1651,  the copyhold – one of the last remaining in the village – went to sister Elizabeth Mathie and husband Thomas.

At a time when Old Warden was going through a huge amount of economic change with land investment and shrinking smallholdings, when poor harvests, due to the little ice age of the late sixteenth and seventeenth century, brought death and disease,   the Inskips were one of the families who survived and even to some extent thrived.  That was very much through good management.

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I’ve been trying to establish who owned the Manor at Inskip from earliest times, to get some context for our family. To date it looks something like this, but there are still a lot of tangles to undo. If anyone can shed any more light on this, do get in contact via the comments below. (I’ve used modern spellings for the names Inskip and Keighley). (more…)

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