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The Cornthwaite Family

of Claughton, Caton and Littledale in Lonsdale, and Lancaster

including the Russell Family

The direct line is shown in bold. sps = sponsores, godparents


Two generations of the Russell family have been traced before the alliance with the Cornthwaites. These are:

1. John Russell who married Elizabeth Tompson. They had one son, Bryan Russell born in 1629

The name of Bryan's wife is not known as mother's names are rarely given in early parish records, but they had a daughter Elizabeth Russell (1662-1726) who married William Cornthwaite. The Russell family have not been reearched any further yet.


1. William Cornthwaite & (1) *Ellen Gibson

The first known William Cornthwaite married twice.. William & Ellen married at Caton parish church on 27 Jun 1693 and had two sons, John, and Thomas.

  1. John Cornthwaite chr. 5 Aug 1694 in Caton
  2. Thomas Cornthwaite chr. 4 Aug 1695 in Caton

Ellen died before 1697 and little is known about this family. The main line continues with William's second wife.

*This name usually appears as Helen in early parish church records and in all Catholic records but is simply the Latin form of the name and was not common in English. William's first daughter by his second wife was named 'Ellen' and appears in that form in his will. A common spelling is also 'Ellin'.

Thomas is mentioned in William's will of 1718 so was still living then. Nothing more is known about either of them at present.

William Cornthwaite & (2) Elizabeth Russell

We know from William's will that he was a yeoman of Claughton in Lonsdale. He married Elizabeth Russell, daughter of Bryan Russell above, on 4 May 1697 in Caton parish church in the Lune Valley, where their children were also baptised. Both William and Elizabeth were almost certainly Catholic but the penal laws were still in place, priests were few and always in danger. (For more information on the background see the introduction to the Ball family)

Children of William Cornthwaite & Elizabeth (formerly Russell)

  1. Ellen Cornthwaite chr. 14 Feb 1698 m. a Townson
  2. Richard Cornthwaite b. 1699, d.1746 (Will, 1746)
  3. Mary Cornthwaite chr. 29 Jun 1701
  4. Bryan Cornthwaite chr. 10 Aug 1702, m. Agnes Bruce, d. 1772
  5. James Cornthwaite chr. 30 Mar 1704

William Cornthwaite's will was made on 15 Apr 1718 and the inventory included with it was made on 17 May 1718. He left bequests to his eldest son Thomas Cornthwaite (son of Ellen) and to his daughter 'Ellen Townson', also to his sons Bryan, James and Richard (in that order). To his wife he left a field called Tenter Close in Caton and after her death to his daughter Ellen and her heirs

2. Richard Cornthwaite made a will for which the details are give in 'Catholic Ancestor' Vol. 6 No.5, Jun 1997, p.210. He was a collier of Caton, 'late of Claughton' in Lonsdale The will is dated 30 Apr 1746, and probate was granted on 10 May 1746. He made bequests to his brother Bryan, and to Bryan's children, William, Thomas, Richard and James (see the family below), and to the children of his (deceased) brother James, of London, John, Thomas and Ann. He also left bequests to his housekeeper, Rebecca Hodshon and to his niece Jane, daughter of his sister Ellen Townson. This suggests that Richard did not marry and have children of his own.



2. Bryan Cornthwaite & Agnes Bruce

Bryan Cornthwaite was probably born in 1702, and his baptism, 10 Aug 1702 was the same day or the next as it was the usual practice to baptise children as soon as possible after birth. He appears as a carpenter in the register of Papists in 1767 in the list for Caton.

Agnes Bruce was as far as is known the daughter of Thomas Bruce and Jane Chippindale who were married on 22 May 1694 in Bolton-le-Sands, a village on the coast near Lancaster. (Thomas was the son of Edward Bruce and Jane the daughter of William Chippindale (dates unknown. 'Chippindale' is a variant of 'Chippendale') These children were baptised in the parish church whether Catholics or not as the few priests, in constant danger of their lives, rarely stayed long in one place.

Children of Edward Bruce:
1. Mary chr. 11 Feb 1660
2. John chr. 28 Feb 1662
3. Elizabeth chr. 14 Feb 1664
4. Thomas chr. 11 Mar 1666

Details from the IGI, Batch #P005801

Children of William Chippindale
1. Jane chr. 11 Apr 1669
2. Ellin chr. 22 Oct 1671
3. Eleanor chr. 16 Aug 1674
4. Edmund chr. 10 Jun 1677
5. Sarah chr. 24 Apr 1641
6. Elizabeth chr. 6 Jun 1686

Children of Bryan Cornthwaite & Agnes Bruce

  1. William Cornthwaite (2) chr. 25 Jul 1731 in Caton, m. Elizabeth Townson, d. 30 Jul 1783
  2. Thomas Cornthwaite chr. 21 Mar 1733 in Tatham m. Mary Addison, d. 1754
  3. Rev. Richard Cornthwaite chr.2 May 1736, d. 1803 in Harvington, Worcs.
  4. James Cornthwaite b. 1739, m. (1) Ann Hudson 25 Aug 1766 (2) Ellen Laurenson. He d.1809

2. Thomas Cornthwaite was baptised in 1733 (Tatham, IGI P005271) his father's name, Bryan, only being given. He married Mary Addison probably about 1754 and they had one known son, Bryan born about then. Bryan married Elizabeth Bleasdale on 9 May 1786 at St Mary's, Lancaster and they had a daughter Mary whose baptism is in the records of St Peter's, Lancaster as 1 Feb 1789, sps James and Mary Cornthwaite.

3. Richard Cornthwaite was probably sent as a boy of about 14 to Douai, was ordained there and sent back on the English Mission. Harvington Hall was at the time the home of the Throckmortons, a family well-known among Catholics. Harvington Hall, Chaddesley Corbett, near Kidderminster, is said to have the 'finest collection of priests' hiding places in England.' [Catholic Missions and Registers, Vol.2, Michael Gandy p.65] Kelly's historical notes on the English Mission 1907[reprinted by Michael Gandy] gives Richard as serving there from 1794.

The account of Harvington adds that St John Wall who died as a martyr at Redhill near Worcester, 7 Aug 1679, worked in this district. Also Hugh Tootell, alias Charles Dodd wrote his 'Church History' here from 1726 till his death in 1743.

4. James married (1)Ann Hudson on 25 Aug 1766 at St Mary's, Lancaster.

Ann had three children,

  1. Andrew Cornthwaite m. 6 Feb 1793 Elizabeth Brogden (chr. 8 Sep 1782 at Tatham)
  2. Mary Cornthwaite m. 7 Jul 1793 Henry Gregson of Thurnham who d. in Preston
  3. Richard Cornthwaite, had a son James.

    Andrew & Elizabeth had two children, both baptised in the Catholic chapel in Lancaster. Mary Melicent on 9 Aug 1795, and Richard on 22 Oct 1802

James married a second time, to Ellen ('Ellin') Laurenson on 7 Nov 1780 in St Mary's parish church in Lancaster. Their children were:

  1. Bryan Cornthwaite b.abt 1781 m. Mary Armistead (abt 1777-1864) on 9 Sep 1807 at St Mary's, Lancaster, d. 30 Nov.1835
  2. William Cornthwaite chr. 12 Nov 1786 sps. William Walker, Alice Hothersall
  3. *Agnes Cornthwaite chr. 13 Jul 1788 sps. Anthony Kew (Chew?), Agnes Morton; m.1832 Thomas Greaves;
  4. John Cornthwaite chr. 23 Sep 1790 sps. Richard Morton, Esther Bradley; d.1860

(* the name given for her mother is 'Elizabeth' which must be a mis-transcription. She is mentioned in her brother Bryan's will as 'my sister Agnes, wife of Thomas Greaves of Preston, cabinetmaker')

Bryan & Mary Armistead had the following children, all baptised at the Catholic chapel recorded as St Peter's Lancaster

  1. James (2) chr. 19 Jul 1808 sps. Thomas Townson, Agnes Cornthwaite; d.bef 1815
  2. John chr. 30 Sep 1810 sps. William Whiteside, Agnes Cornthwaite d. 23 Nov 1835
  3. Richard chr. 10 Mar 1813 sps. John Coulston, Agnes Cornthwaite d. 22 Jan 1828
  4. James (3) chr. 15 Nov 1815 sps. to be completed
  5. William chr. 24 Aug 1817 sps.
  6. Eleanor chr. 10 Jun 1819 sps.
  7. Esther chr. 29 Jun 1823 sps.

The following records are listed at St Peter's, Lancaster:
James(1) can probably be identified with the 'Jas. Cornthwaite' who died on 12 Dec 1809 'of old age'. James (1) was then 70.
Richard, 3rd son of Bryan & Mary died aged 15 of 'suffocation' on 22 Jan 1828 on Common Garden St, Lancaster.
John, 2nd son of Bryan and Mary, died on Common Garden St, Lancaster of 'enlargement of the heart'.
Bryan, husband of Mary and father of John died aged 54 also on Common Garden St on 30 Nov 1835 of 'general decay'.



3. William Cornthwaite (2) & Elizabeth Townson

William Cornthwaite was baptised on 25 Jul 1731 in Caton. and married Elizabeth Townson in 1756
This family exemplifies what Antonia Fraser calls 'the vast Catholic cousinage'. She writes, "In this small world which for security's sake perpetuated itself by intermarriage, it is perhaps simplest to state that almost everyone was related to almost everyone else.' [Antonia Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot, p.35]

Elizabeth was the daughter of Robert Townson, yeoman, born about 1702 of Claughton in Lonsdale and his wife Ellen (surname unknown) born about 1704.

Children of Robert Townson & Ellen

  1. Elizabeth Townson m. William Cornthwaite
  2. Jane Townson
  3. Nancy Townson
  4. Mary Townson m. Thomas Winder
  5. Christopher Townson

Elizabeth and Jane are listed with their parents in Littledale on the Return of Papists 1767 (which gives ages, and also father's occupation) and Elizabeth, Nancy, Mary and Christopher all receive bequests from their uncle Thomas Sweetlove in his will dated 22 Nov 1733 where the four are listed as his nieces and nephew, children of Robert Townson.

4. Mary Townson and Thomas Winder had four children, all baptised at the Robert Hall & Hornby Mission,

  1. Elizabeth Winder chr. 7 Jan 1760 sps. John Townson, Elizabeth Cornthwaite
  2. John Winder chr. 26 Jul 1761 sps. Robert Townson, Alice Walmsley, baptised by Elizabeth Cornthwaite
  3. Christopher Winder chr. 6 Apr 1768 sps. John Croft, Ann Ball
  4. Ann Winder chr. 28 Mar 1771 - of Caton (no parents or godparents given in the record)

Robert Townson left a will, dated 6 Mar 1777, with probate granted on 27 Sep 1777. A summary is given in 'Catholic Ancestor' Vol. 6 No.5, Jun 1997, p.210 and Vol.7 No.3. He left £10 to his grandson Robert Cornthwaite, brother of Jane Cornthwaite who married John Ball, .
£5 to Jane Croft, wife of John Croft, £150 to his son-in-law Thomas Winder and all the rest of his property, 'messuage, lands, tenements, hereditaments, real estate etc' to his son-in-law William Cornthwaite, father of Jane and Robert. William Cornthwaite was sole executor.

Children of William Cornthwaite & Elizabeth [Townson]
They were all born in Claughton in Lonsdale and baptised at Robert Hall & Hornby Mission, and the (unofficial) marriages were at the Leonardgate Chapel, Lancaster, which preceded St Peter's.

  1. Robert Cornthwaite chr. 17 Jul 1757 sps. Christopher Townson, Ann Townson
    m. (1) Mary Ball (1761-1796) (2) Nancy Smith 15 Aug 1797, d. 19 Mar 1839 Claughton
  2. Agnes Cornthwaite chr. 13 May 1760 sps. Robert Townson, Jane Townson, d. 1810 Claughton
  3. Jane Cornthwaite chr. 29 Jun 1763 sps James Cornthwaite and Jane Townson
    John Ball ( 1763-1847) 17 Jan 1785 d. 12 Oct 1829 Rossall Grange Farm, Thornton
  4. Mary Cornthwaite chr. 23 Mar 1771

William Cornthwaite died in Hornby on 30 Jul 1783 and was buried in Claughton on 1 Aug 1783. Elizabeth Cornthwaite[formerly Townson] d. 15 Mar 1796 in Hornby.

1. Robert Cornthwaite m.Mary Ball, sister of the John Ball who married his sister Jane, brother and sister marrying sister and brother (quite a common occurrence!) After Mary's death Robert married again, to Nancy Smith. Robert was a flax dresser in 1806, but by 1813 he was a farmer and in 1838 is referred to as a yeoman. Altogether he had 14 children (listed below). His will is dated 12 Mar 1839 and probate was granted on 11 May 1839 before J.Rowley, Surrogate.

2. Agnes Cornthwaite died intestate so admon was granted to her sister Jane Ball of Rossall, the 'lawful wife of the within bounden John Ball', the administrators being John Ball himself, Bryan Cornthwaite of Lancaster, saddler (her cousin, son of James Cornthwaite & Ellen Laurenson, see above), also William Kendal of Lancaster, grocer. The three administrators signed their names.

4. Mary Cornthwaite does not appear in the 'Pedigree of Bishop Cornthwaite' but parents are frequently not given in the baptismal records and this appears to be the only family where she could belong.

Overview of the Ball Family
The Ball family - direct line

Children of Robert Cornthwaite & Mary Ball

  1. Elizabeth Cornthwaite chr. 10 Dec 1785 m. George Kirkham 18 May 1809
  2. Agnes Cornthwaite chr. 13 May 1787
  3. William Cornthwaite chr. 5 Oct 1788 m. Elizabeth Cuerden
  4. Mary Cornthwaite chr. 2 Jan 1791
  5. Ellen Cornthwaite chr. 19 Feb 1792
  6. Jane Cornthwaite chr. 17 Mar 1794 m. John Dowbiggin 30 May 1814

Children of Robert Cornthwaite & Nancy Smith

  1. John Cornthwaite 1797-1827 m. Ann Atkinson
  2. Catherine Cornthwaite chr. 25 Nov 1800
  3. Thomas Cornthwaite b.abt. 1802 d. 11 Jun 1835 m. Agnes Brinnan
  4. Ellen Cornthwaite chr. 13 Jan 1805
  5. Sarah Cornthwaite chr. 7 Jun 1807
  6. Ann Cornthwaite chr. 22 Jan 1810
  7. Robert Cornthwaite chr. 16 May 1813 m. Mary Gardner 25 Jun 1837 at St Peter's, Lancaster, d. 1867
  8. Richard Cornthwaite b. 29 May 1816 chr. 3 Jun 1816

    Children of William Cornthwaite (1788-1857) & Elizabeth Cuerden (1793-1861)

    1. Rt Rev Robert Cornthwaite b.1818 Preston, d. 16 Jun 1890, Bishop of Leeds
    2. William Cornthwaite b. 1820 d. as infant
    3. John Cornthwaite chr. 28 Feb 1822
    4. William Cornthwaite chr. 20 Mar 1825
    5. Thomas Cornthwaite chr. 18 Aug 1827
    6. Jane Cornthwaite chr. 26 Apr 1829
    7. George Cornthwaite chr. 12 Nov 1830
    8. Mary Cornthwaite chr. 8 Jul 1832 m. Christopher Robinson (1833-) in 1858, d.1908 s.p.

    All the above children of William Cornthwaite & Elizabeth Cuerden were baptised at St Peter's, Lancaster from no.3. John, onwards.