Marriott family

George Josiah’s mother was Martha Marriott (1854-1948) and she was born in Milton Malsor in Northamptonshire. Her family has a long and interesting line that takes us through a family of yeomen farmers to the English Civil War and, if the evidence would survive further tests of authenticity, could take us back to the medieval royal family (along with up to 25% or even 100% of the rest of the population – estimates and proof vary!). It does however make, first, for an interesting exploration of rural landed society in the 17th and 18th centuries and, second, for a study of the interconnectedness of the Anglo-Norman ruling order up to the time of the end of the Middle Ages. This page will explore first the Marriott family connection.

Milton Malsor cottages
Milton Malsor cottages

The name Marriott is from the medieval female personal name Mariot, a pet form of Mary (see Marie), itself coming from the Hebrew and probably meaning ‘wished-for child’.

The Northamptonshire Marriotts

This branch of the family were centred in the area to the south and south-west of Northampton, with a particular focus on Roade. As has been pointed out previously, people before the advent of the 18th century road improvements, and later the railways, did not travel far and marriages and dwellings tend to stay within a fairly tight radius of some centre. Thus it is not until Martha’s parents, Josiah and Elizabeth, move to Dudley in Worcestershire and then Aston that it changes for our people, as when we find her and her parents in the 1861 census living in Dudley and her father is a shoemaker.


In this research a Thomas Marriott ancestor has been traced to 1575 when he was born in Courteenhall. Thereafter his son also a Thomas (1598-1665), and grandson John (1631-1708) were living in Roade. Study of the history of Roade and the villages round about show that the Marriott family were yeomen farmers who had built up a strong presence in the area. They were, from the evidence so far seen, probably at the more prosperous end of the spectrum.

Yeomen and gentry in the Seventeenth Century

The 17th century was a very status-conscious age, but not “class-conscious” in the modern sense. According to the beliefs of the time, there was a natural order, ordained by God, with each occupying a position in a “Great Chain of Being” with the king as its head. Analogies were drawn with the body, each having an essential part in how the body functioned and each dependent on the other parts, an interdependency. To interrupt this natural order could provoke a crisis, as indeed happened with the English Civil Wars (1642-1651), and the gentry, who played a large part in the political disturbances that occurred, were very jealous in the maintenance of this “order”. As Oliver Cromwell insisted to the Levellers who briefly challenged this order in 1647-49, people had to have a “stake”, ie land, in order to vote and participate in the running of local affairs, which was for the most part what the gentry and yeomen did, being magistrates or constables for example, and the good government of their county, or “country” was what concerned them most.

As Ireton said in the Putney Debates of 1647, with regard to the fundamental constitution of the realm, “that no person that hath not a local and permanent interest in the kingdom should have an equal dependence in election [with those that have].”

Yeomen were in general larger-scale farmers in the early 17th century with land of at least 100 acres. They would employ people and do hands-on work themselves. As a social grouping they sat between the gentry and husbandmen and at the upper end the boundary with a gentleman might be indistinct. To be a gentleman equally had blurred boundaries, except that in the end it would be the consent of their peers that told, that others would accept them as such. Both social groups might use the distinction in legal documents. Thus John Marriott (1631-1708) in his will uses the designation “yeoman” (will & codicil dated 20 March 1707; Northamptonshire and Rutland Probate index for 1708), and a gentleman might have the word “Gentleman” or “Esquire” after their name.

As a social group yeomen were probably in decline, since the term goes out of use in the 18th century as they, and the smaller gentry are in crisis by the end of the 17th century, hit by the impact of the “little ice age” of poor weather, land taxes due to wars with France towards the end of the century, a fall in rental income, and lack of capital. There’s a trend towards such people being forced into impoverishment and/or selling up.

A shift away from land

It seems that, for our family, there is a gradual shift away from land and towards skilled work and movement to the new industrial towns, and, whether they are particularly hit by the above changes can’t yet be proved, it does seem plausible.

St Mary's Church Roade
St Mary’s Church, Roade

John Marriott’s successors stayed in and around Roade and their burial services were conducted at  St Mary’s Church there, until Thomas Marriott (1715-1771) moved to Moulton nearby and his son William Marriott (1751-1831) to Milton Malsor. It is his son, also named William (1781-aft. 1851) who, in Milton, is shown with his son, who is a shoemaker, and a cousin George Marriott who is a labourer in the 1851 census. It is Josiah (1825-1903), it seems, who made the significant move to Dudley in Worcestershire and his daughter Martha who as we have seen in the Edge tree married George Edge, a wire drawer, in Aston, Birmingham.

The gentry of Roade

If we return to John Marriott (1631-1708) described above, he seems to have made an interesting marriage on 25 September 1651 to Frances Lane (b. 1630) in Chellington, Bedfordshire (England Marriages, 1538–1973: FHL film 952423). What follows needs further documentary validation but it seems that Frances was the youngest child of Sir Richard Lane (1584-1650) of Harpole, near Roade. Sir Richard was a lawyer with a practice in London but with property in Northamptonshire who became well-known through his defence of the Earl of Strafford before Parliament as the latter attempted to rein in the perceived excesses of monarchical rule in 1641. Lane joined Charles I at Oxford during the English Civil War and was appointed Keeper of the Great Seal and knighted. After Charles’ execution in 1649, Lane followed his son Charles II into exile and died in Jersey in 1650.

Trial of Strafford
Trial of Strafford

If we have the right Frances, she could have been a necessary marriage since the property of Royalists judged “delinquent” was seized or sequestered by Parliament and the Lane family could have faced difficulty. To marry Frances at age 21 to a respectable local yeoman in an age when the boundaries were not distinct could have made practical sense, as well as socially desirable for John Marriott. This is of course speculation at this point but it was very usual for families to advance their situation by making good marriages.

You can follow the Marriott tree here (click to enlarge):

The Lanes’ links with aristocratic ancestry

To explore Sir Richard Lane’s ancestry makes an interesting journey into the medieval Anglo-Norman gentry and aristocracy. Again one should remember the above-mentioned tendency of landed society of this period to make arranged marriages to advance any of their dynastic, local, political, social and economic interests. His mother, Elizabeth Vincent (1551-1589), was the daughter of Clement Vincent Esq. (1526-1576) of Harpole, and his mother, Anne Jane Slorey (1489-1548) is the daughter of Elizabeth Sacheverell (1446-1489), who in turn is daughter of Sir John Sacheverell, the Earl of Ratcliffe in Derbyshire who was killed at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. That line takes us back to the Curzon family, of Norman extraction.

Tanfield coat of arms
Tanfield coat of arms

However, Clement Vincent’s wife, Anne Tanfield (1536-1592), was the daughter of Francis Tanfield (1508-1558), who was in turn the son of William Tanfield (1489-1529). The last-named was the son of Robert Tanfield (1461-1504) of Gayton, Northamptonshire, who was married to Catherine de Neville (1459-1525), another of the major medieval Anglo-Norman aristocratic families. The Nevilles who were Marcher Lords of the Northern borders had their seat at Raby Castle in Co. Durham. Her father was Edward de Neville, first Baron of Abergavenny (1400-1476). His mother was Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland (1375-1440), and she in turn was the daughter of John of Gaunt (1340-1399), Duke of Lancaster. John of Gaunt was the son of Edward Plantagenet (1312-1377, King Edward III of England (1327-1377).

Raby Castle
Raby Castle

Before one’s ego gets too oversized, genealogists tend to consider that much of the present-day English population who can trace their ancestry a few generations back are likely to find that they have similar ancestry.

You can follow this tree, in two stages here (click to enlarge):