Vol. 1, Part 5, January 1934



See map for places mentioned in this article

The study of a family name is an interesting one, and to many it has a great fascination. Who has not wondered at times where his or her own name came from, and how far back, and what was its origin or significance? Some more interested than others have made this quite a hobby, and can trace their genealogical tree three or four hundred years back, and even more. The Jews, as a people, were very careful in this matter, and there is quite a number of genealogical tables given in Holy Writ, the outstanding examples being the two tracing in one the genealogy of Jesus to Abraham, and the other through another line to Adam.

The name Gledhill has a very interesting origin and its significance is worthy of remembrance.

By referring to the old records at the different parish churches of Yorkshire, the name will be found spelt in many different ways, and from the pages of these registers an accurate account of the early life of the Gledhill family is obtained. It was stated by the verger of the Halifax Church, in 1931, that he could scarcely turn over a page without coming across the name; but the majority of names seem to be recorded at the Elland Church, and at the parish church of St. Peter’s, in Leeds. There are various forms of the name, such as:-

Gladhill, Gleadall, Gleddall, Gleddale, Gleadhill, Gleddel, Gleddil, Gledal, Gleddol, Gladall, Gladdell, Gladell, Gledel, Gleadle, Gleaddall, Gledehill, Gleidhill, del Gledehill, de Gledhill, de Gledehill, Gleydehyll and Gleydhill.

In an interesting book entitled "The History of Brighouse" is contained some interesting information regarding the different ways in which the name is spelt. The earliest reference to the name is that of Ric de Gledhill in 1359; he was one of a jury at the sitting of a Court at Brighouse. Further, in Bardsley’s "Book of Sur-names," it is recorded that the name "Gledhill" was a well-known Yorkshire name, dating back to the year 1379, which is as far as the records go, when a Poll Tax was taken in the West Riding of Yorkshire. On page 185 of these records appears the name of Ricardus de Gledhill and Thomas de Gledhill. Bardsley states:  "I have not identified the spot so termed ‘GLEDHILL’; it will, I doubt not, be found in the West Riding. Probably it means the hill frequented by the Gledes; gledes are known as kites, ‘Kite Hill’. The Glede is referred to in the Holy Bible, in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter XIV, v.13, ‘and the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind.’ In the Biblical Concordance the glede is referred to as probably the buzzard, there being three kinds in Palestine, the most common being the large red species resembling a small eagle."

In the Halifax Church Register is found the following entry:-

Dominus Thomas Gleydehill, contrarist in Cantaria Vocat Wylbe, chantre asquondam vicarius de Cannes berghe, sepuet. 12 Mai, 1541

The aforesaid had been appointed first chaplain of Wylbes Chantry, situated on the south side of the ancient church of Halifax.

From a glance at the parish registers, which are now a pride and valuable possession of the grand old Anglican Church, we find the following information relating to the family:-

1. JOHN GLEDALL, left money for the poor in 1681 for the Parish of Braithwell, City of York.

2. THOMAS GLEDHILL, Gentleman of Barkisland, died October 31, 1612. His corpse was dug up on November 27, 1612, because of accusations of suicide, but was found untouched and unwounded and replaced in tomb.

3. THOMAS GLEDHILL, also of Barkisland, died and was buried at Elland Churchyard, 1657, bestowed benefactions to Ripponden Church by bequeathing the sum of £120 upon lands for the use of a lawful preaching Minister of the word of God at the Riponden CHAPPELL that shall be settled there from time to time. The profits of the same LANDES from YEARE to YEARE to succeeding ages shall be paid to the Minister in charge.

(In commemoration whereof the Minister was to preach one sermon yearly on the 1st May, if it be not on the Lord’s Day, and if so, in the week following at the Minister’s choice. He also set apart £50 to be bestowed in lands, the profits therefrom to be for the benefit of the poor of Barkisland.)

4. THOMAS GLEDHILL (1) Sarah Gledhill (2). Thomas endowed a Grammar School. Sarah bequeathed money for the poor of Barkisland.

5. RICHARD S. GLEDHILL, a Gentleman of Barkisland, Captain in the Royal Army under Sir M. Longdale, was knighted by the Marquis of Newcastle and slain at Hessay Moor in 1644.

6. JOHN GLEDHILL, a Gentleman, was married to Sarah Horton by license on October 11, 1636. He was the builder of Barkisland Hall (photo), and was the son of Thomas Gledhill. On the same day in the same Church of England at Elland his sister, Elizabeth Gledhill, married William Horton, Gentleman, of Barkisland.

7. HUGH GLEDHILL, Vicar of Huddersfield, 1567.

8. It is noted from the records of the Foundling Chapel, London, that the Rev. John William Gledhill, M.A., Fellow of St. Catherine’s, Cambridge, was for 37 years morning preacher at the abovementioned chapel. He was born June 1, 1799, and died October 26, 1882.

It is interesting to record that during the 15th and 16th centuries the approximate numbers of births, marriages and deaths of people bearing the name of Gledhill in its different forms are as follows:-

15th Century.- Baptisms, 202; Marriages, 82; Deaths, 178
16th Century.- Baptisms, 173; Marriages, 219; Deaths, 124

The coat of arms of the Gledhill family was first granted to Richard Gledhill by Norroy, King of Arms, in the year 1612 and confirmed by Segar, Knight, Garter, King of Arms, in the year 1632. The following are the particulars:-

Arms: Azure, three lozenges in fesse argent.
Crest: A cock proper.
Motto: "Fortiter et Recte" ("Bravely and Rightly").

I will give you some extracts from a peculiar marriage settlement of John Gledhill, of Barkisland, dated November 20, 1502:-

"Whereas it is agreed that his son Thomas shall take to wife Janet, daughter of Nicholas Woodhead."

and among the provisions of the settlement are:-

1. His son and his wife to receive an annual rent of 6/8, issuing out of a property called "Pierce Hey."
2. His son to have two days in a week in a "Walk Milne," otherwise a fulling mill at Pierce Hey.
3. On day of marriage to have £8/6/8.
4. Similar amount within 40 days of wedding.
5. A gift of 40/- in pennies.
6. £6/6/8 in pennies when they shall "goo to hous."
7. His son’s father-in-law to agree to array his daughter Janet sufficiently in bed and back and to give meat and lodging to them for 3 years after marriage.
8. The father-in-law of his son is to provide a surety of 100 marks that his daughter Janet shall not vex, trouble or interfere with him (John Gledhill) her father-in-law to be.

The son of the above marriage, who was also named Thomas, was a much married man.

1st Marriage: Agnes Savile, his cousin, 2 children: John and Elizabeth.
2nd Marriage: Janet Woodhead, 4 sons: Thomas, James, George, Richard, and one daughter: Janet.
(A marriage settlement of May 8, 1543, stated that his wedding must be celebrated before Michaelmas. He inherited from his father and grandsire a new house in the "nether end" of Barkisland and seven closes of land called Southey, Tirredore, Karre, Longmytrode, Lyttyll, Alylnrode, Longholme and Sprying in Barkisland. His father-in-law covenated to give £6 in pennies at the time of their marriage and he promised to honestly "arraye his daughter of bedde and bakke as beseemeth both for the deliverer and taker.")
3rd Marriage: Agnes? and by this wife were two children: Donrel and Susan.

Thomas died, and was buried in the Elland Churchyard on March 25, 1568, and his eldest son and heir, John, of the first wife, now came into his own, and he:-

1st Marriage: Elizabeth, surname unknown.-Had a son Thomas (presumably son Michael) and four daughters. His wife died 1575.
2nd Marriage: Cicily, daughter of John Thornhill, one son (John) and four daughters.
(He died, and was buried at Elland, December 31, 1594.)

John Gledhill was an extremely wealthy man in those days, and we find no indication that he was engaged in the staple trade of the district. We must, therefore, conclude that he was to be numbered among the comparatively few landed gentry in the parish in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and undoubtedly he was the most influential personage in Barkisland township.

This John Gledhill was succeeded by his son Thomas Gledhill, who kept up the family traditions in regard to marriages. His first wife was Mary, daughter of Richard Wade. They were married at Halifax, January 23, 1534-35, and had Thomas, a son, baptised at Elland, May 7, 1587, and who died in 1607, during his father’s lifetime.

By a second marriage with Edith, daughter of John Harrison, of Leeds, he had: John, Elizabeth, Thomas, Richard and Judith. John, the eldest son, was the builder of Barkisland Hall, as we know it to-day.

In the year 1922, Mr. Hugh P. Kendall read a paper before the Halifax Antiquarian Society, entitled: "Barkisland Hall and the Family of Gledhill," from which we note that Barkisland Hall is a beautiful mansion, which stands at the foot of the village which bears the same name. It is a stately building, entered by a three-decker porch, surmounted by a rose window. Over the doorway of this is the date 1638, with the initials J.G.-S.G., those of John Gledhill and his wife Sarah. This building is still standing to-day, but unfortunately not in the hands of the family.

Barkisland Hall was the centre of social life, for opposite the entrance gates are some cottages, which were once the kennels of Barkisland in the days when the Gledhills hunted the surrounding country. The Hall is situated close to the road and can be seen by all who pass through the village. John Gledhill might have had some premonition of the end of his line, when he caused to be cut over a doorway the following:

Nunc mea, mox hujus, postea nescio cujus
Once his, now mine, but I know not whose afterwards).

John Gledhill was buried at Elland, May 28, 1656, and it was his desire to be laid to rest in the chapel at Elland "amongst his ancestors."

The end of this branch of the Gledhill family came with great suddenness, as father and son had departed this life in the short space of about ten months, and within a year after, the daughter of the last survivor followed, and Barkisland Hall knew them no longer. This daughter, Sarah Gledhill, was known for her benevolence, as will be noted from some extracts from her will:-

I do give and bequeath the sum of £200 unto the use of a schoolmaster, for teaching such poor children of the township of Barkisland whose parents are not able to bring them up in learning, and I do will that my executors hereafter named bestow the said sum of £200 in some convenient place in the purchase of lands, and put the same into feoffees estate, the profits whereof to be yearly gathered by such feoffees and their heirs to succeeding generations for ever, and paid to such schoolmaster or schoolmasters as shall be by them in their discretion placed or appointed in the town or township aforesaid, for which said yearly profit the said schoolmaster shall teach such children to read English and to write or cast account, or further learning as the said feoffees shall think meet and convenient, and as the moneys so raised will extend.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries we note that the Gledhills lived in the following towns and villages of Yorkshire: Huddersfield, Woodhouse, Churchyard, Halifax, Hunslet, Bathroyd, Littlehaven, Warley, Elland, Stainland, Sowerby, Baytenge, Rishworth, Rastrick, Barkisland, Auldlynley, and Brighouse.

The Gledhills, therefore, are a very old Yorkshire family, about which little has been published. If we turn to the pages of Mr. Watson’s "History of Halifax," we shall find the copy of a pedigree of the family of Gledhill, as collected from ancient deeds, etc., and confirmed by William Segar, Knt., Garter King of Arms in the year 1632.

In searching the records of the world to-day, we note that the family of Gledhill has spread far and wide the world over and is increasing as the years roll by. The name is perpetuated as follows:-

1. Gledhill Yard, Leeds, Yorkshire.

2. Gledhill Street, Footscray, Melbourne, Victoria, named after William Gledhill.

3. Steamship "Gledhill." The following are the particulars taken from Lloyd’s Register of 1927: - No. 20,808, Gledhill, ex Taywood, N.G.H.G. Well Deck Steel, 505 tons, 155 ft. long, 26 ft. 8 inches breadth, 11 ft. 7 inches depth, built 1894, Registered Newcastle, British, J. Geddes, Robinson, Brown & Co., Managers.

Mr Geddes named the ship "Gledhill," after a farm called Gledhill, in Morayshire, near Garmouth on Spey, Scotland.

As we read in this article these simple records, we cannot help but feel that there is a deep significance behind the fact of the name of Gledhill, that the members of the family were servants of the Lord and helped along the work of God and His Church amongst all classes of people. Centuries have rolled by, and still to-day we find scattered all over the world many of those who bear the name actively engaged in the work of the Lord.

This above article is republished with the permission of the Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney.

Map of the original "Gledhill Country" in the West Riding of Yorkshire