In compiling this summary, Mike has drawn on a number of sources (only some of which are highlighted below), and he draws attention to the fact that not everything is fully researched and that future research may add to or modify the picture presented. Any feedback is welcome.

So, where did the Readman families originate?  The problem is not helped by the fact that different branches of the family now pronounce the name differently – either “Reedman” or “Redman” - or by the fact that some old records use the spellings Readman and Redman interchangeably while others (less commonly) use “Redmayne”, “Redeman” and other forms.

There is no doubt that my own branch of the family came out of the Egton area close to Whitby, probably earlier from the Parish of Lythe. Readmans had been there quite a while – at least since about 1570. 

One source (Aveling’s “Northern Catholics”[i]) mentions a Marmaduke Readman as a son-in-law of Sir Richard Cholmley being related to the Duke of Westermoreland and a “servant” of the Duke of Northumberland prior to the Northern rebellion of 1569.

Aveling later refers to “…the Readman’s of Mulgrave (who sold their lands in 1579) and became part of Katherine Radcliffe’s sizeable collection of poor relations and pensioners…” as among the “…numbers of Catholic or ‘mere’ decayed gentry…”  He also says that the biggest collections of vagrant (Catholic) gentry were at Ugthorpe and Egton and Whitby and mentions the Readmans as being in these collections in the late 16th century. Later Aveling refers to “…Readmans (by 1642 sunk to the status of yeomen at Mulgrave)…”  In his more detailed list of recusants, Aveling mentions at Lythe: Westrop Readman and wife (not named) in 1590; Readman (not named) in 1600 and 1621; at Whitby in 1596 Hy [Henry?] Cholmley Esq and wife with Mrs (no forename given) Readman.

Another source (Greenwood 1905[ii]) builds a family history from the Norman Vicomte Adam d’Avranches who was granted lands at Yealand and Silverdale in Cumberland by William of Lancaster in 1170.  The Avranches had given William the Conqueror a hand in the 1066 invasion, and so were, presumably, entitled to some spoils of victory.

This family also acquired lands at Redman in Cumberland – a place not readily located on contemporary maps, although the village of Yealand Redmayne is shown about one mile NE of Yealand Manor.   A Norman de Yealand - born c1140 and possibly a crusader to the Hly lands – later adopted the names “de Redman or de Redeman.   A branch of this family, through Sir Richard Redman (born c 1360 and later Speaker of the House of Commons) later moved to Harewood Castle in Yorkshire.  Sir Richard Redman married Elizabeth de Aldeburgh some time after 1393 – she was heiress to Harewood. 

Greenwood reports that Cuthbert Redman (probably Sir Richards great grandson) of this branch participated in the Northern Rebellion in 1569, and was indicted of conspiracy but having escaped the usual penalty (presumably as a minor player) he “…settled in the neighbourhood of Whitby where he owned lands.”  Greenwood goes on to report on Cuthbert and his wife Elizabeth in 1577 and 1589.  Greenwood identifies a “Wilstrop Redmayne”  and his wife Jane in 1596, suggesting that Wilstrop in a son or grandson of Cuthbert.  Wilstrop and Jane suffered “a fine of the manor of Borrowby in Lythe” in 1596 “…and again in 1599 of lands at Newmger, Acreynges and Newton Moor, Parish of Lythe.”  [Note this Wilstrop could well be the “Westrop Readman” that Aveling identifies above as a recusant at Lythe in 1590]

We also have O’Connor’s[iii] citation at page 153 of a recusant roll mention in September 1592 of “…Wilstrop Redman lately of Borrowby, gent, as a crown debtor to the account of £120…” – again probably the same person.

It is reasonable to assume that this data indicates a Readman line going back from near Whitby in about 1570 to Norman forebears.

Of course there are other Readman lines.  One appears in Ireland.  But then, a Cumbrian branch of the above family (Daniel Redman b 1617) was granted lands in Ireland (Killkenny) in reward for military service in the Civil War.  This might well be the source of this branch of Readmans.

The problem is that once a family dropped out of the “gentry” –as this family certainly did - records were rare until Church registers became widespread.  Even then the stauncher Catholics – and the Readmans were generally such - tended to avoid the official Anglican registers during and following the recusancy.  So we do not yet have a proven link from the Readman gentry to the top of our tree.

Mike Hutchinson , Canberra , Australia, May 2004

[i] Aveling, Hugh; “Northern Catholics: The Catholic Recusancy of the North riding of Yorkshire 1558-1790” Geoffrey Chapman, London, 1966

[ii] Greenwood, W: “The Redmans of Levens and Harewood: A contribution to the history of the family of Redman and Redmayne in many of its branches” Titus Wilson, Kendal, 1905

[iii] O’Connor, J L:” Hearts of Oak: Ain introduction to the Recusant history of the North Yorkshire Moors” (unpublished) Middlesborough 1968 (but see  online at: )





This page was last updated 01 June 2004