Back in the early 1960s I began tracing my direct line pedigree through ancestors who lived in the villages of Campsall near Doncaster and Grenoside near Sheffield, both in West Yorkshire. Unfortunately, I cannot get beyond the marriage of John Bilbrough to Mary Readyhoff at Campsall in 1745 which I found very early on in my efforts. I therefore chose to research collateral lines and those families who are linked to the pedigree by marriage.

Consequently, I now have lots of information on other people who can trace their line back to that same common ancestral couple. Many of them founded dynasties in different parts of Britain and America although Yorkshire and Cheshire in England and New Hampshire and Illinois in the United States are particularly represented in the pedigree.

In the case of Yorkshire this is hardly surprising since the Bilbrough name comes from a village ten kilometres to the south west of York. The village was old when listed as Mileburg in the Doomsday survey. It probably grew up around a fortress once occupied by a person having the old English forename of Billa. In 1167 they called the village Billeburc and in 1226 Billeburg. The first reference to a named individual I have found is in 1239 when a Richard de Bilburgh was a Freeman of York. After 150 years, other instances of the name show it generally moving south from York down through South Yorkshire, although by 1567 the name also appears in London. In the late 1670's, at least some Bilbrough's seem to have arrived in the Campsall area.

Campsall is twelve kilometres north by west from Doncaster at a sharp bend in a stream. The first part of the name is probably a British word for "bend of a river." The second is from the Old English Halh or Haugh - a corner or nook of land in the bend of angle of a river. In the Doomsday book they called it Cansale. When the Bilbrough's first appear there Campsall was a fertile rural parish mainly of limestone soil and included the villages of Norton, Sutton, Askern, Fenwick and Moss. Through the parish ran the Great North Road (the A1) and what is now the A19 to Selby and York. These roads were in a poor state. Animals and even people drowned in the potholes of the Great North Road. Therefore, though the roads brought the area in reach of several local towns, they would not always have been easy to visit. There was also much of the Barnsdale Forest still remaining. This had folk memories of Robin Hood almost as vivid as Sherwood Forest itself. He is supposed to have waylaid travellers on the Great North Road and once made the Bishop of Hereford dance in his boots near the village. Indeed, the part Norman parish church of St Mary Magdalene was by legend the place where the outlaw had married Maid Marian five hundred years earlier.

The arrival of the Bilbrough's also coincided with the childhood of one of Campsall's most famous sons, Richard Frank. He was to be buried in the Churchyard in May 1762, having been born sixty-four years earlier in Campsall Park House. During his life he was a Fellow of the Royal Society, an eminent scholar and antiquary (being an early member of the Society of Antiquaries) and Recorder for Pontefract and Doncaster.

I have established this web presence to make available a list of every person I have so far identified as linked to the line. However, only a part of the information I possess is included. In particular, there is no detail provided for those who are or are believed to be alive. It is common courtesy not to put into the public domain without their permission the personal details of living individuals. Obviously, it is impossible to contact all living family members. I have therefore chosen to exclude that personal data. Anyone interested in getting more background on a particular branch is welcome to e-mail me and I will supply what I can.

In the past the spelling of surnames, especially the rarer ones, could vary considerably. My own line of the family spells our surname as Bilbrough and has done so for generations. Therefore, to keep my database consistent that is the spelling I have chosen to follow. I am aware that other spellings have occurred from time to time and that to this day, a number of the collateral lines use the alternative spelling of Bilbruck, particularly in America. I hope my reason for not separately identifying each variant is understood and certainly no slight is intended.

For completeness I have also included material on two other Bilbrough families where I have not made any definite connection to my own pedigree but which are likely to be related in some way. First is the family of Thomas and Elizabeth Bilbrough who lived in Campsall between 1700 and 1749 [References 881/2]. All the children of this family died without heirs but Thomas was alive when John Bilbrough married Mary Readyhoff and it is likely that there was some link between them. Second are the Bilbrough's of Gildersome and Morley just south of Leeds (30kms from Campsall) . This family also starts its line at broadly the same time as mine with the birth of James in about 1713 [Reference 899] and because of the rarity of the name it is fair to assume that there was some common link at an earlier date. The family stayed in that area until the 1900's although by then some members had moved to London, America and Australia. Unlike the Campsall line they significantly improved their status and one in particular, Arthur Bilbrough (1840-1925), founded a shipping business which continues to this day as managers of the London Steamship Owners' Mutual Insurance Association.

The pedigree has been generated from information held in my Legacy database and reflects the position as at 7  March 2004. Updates will usually be made annually if there is anything significant to add.





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