Historical background

So far as is currently known, the Smallwood family first appear in Cumberland between 1555 and 1562, when a Robert Smallwood was the master gunner of the Citadel of Carlisle. Given the first name patterns of the known Smallwood families flourishing in this period, it is feasible that Robert was a member of the relatively affluent Yorkshire Smallwood line, although this remains only a speculative possibility. 

It seems likely that this Robert was antecedent to the Smallwood family which later flourished in the northern part of Cumberland; in the area of Whitrigg on the borders of the parishes of Aikton and Bowness-on-Solway, about 8 miles to the west of Carlisle. This line, documented from the mid-17th century, is discussed as tree 384. It is also possible that a member of this family migrated south to the area around Whitehaven some time during the early 17th century, initiating the later Smallwood lines in Kendal (tree 392) and Camerton (tree 211). So far, no earlier evidence of the presence of Smallwoods in these areas has been found, and the proximity and first name patterns are supportive of a link, but it remains possible that they arrived independently from elsewhere.

The seaport of Whitehaven was important in Atlantic trade during the 17th century, and it seems likely that Smallwoods from this area were antecedent to at least one of the principal North American Smallwood lines. The specific origins of the various known lines are discussed individually in connection with the various trees outlined below.

It is also important to note that another prominent Cumbrian line, the descendants of Alan Smallwood (1608-1686), rector of Greystoke, Cumberland, is discussed as part of the Early North and East Yorkshire (Egton) tree, since Alan's origins lay there.

Documented trees

Tree Description Location Period Names
211 Descendants of John Smallwood of Camerton Cumbria/Hull 1667-date 383
384 Smallwood of Aikton and Bowness on Solway Wigton, Cumbria 1676-date 181
392 Descendants of Joseph Smallwood of Kendal m. 1685 Kendal 1685-1913 93
884 William Smallwood (b.1801 Nantwich, Cheshire, a baker), wife Agnes, and family in Whitehaven  Whitehaven 1801-1906 20
881 William Smallwood from Whitehaven [1833-1881] Whitehaven 1833-1903 5
869 John Smallwood from Whitehaven Whitehaven 1825-1924 3
822 Elizabeth Smallwood, widow from Penrith Ulverston 1841-1893 2
813 William Smallwood from Arlecton, Cumbria Whitehaven 1856-1881 1

Other (currently unconnected) research interests

Researcher Description of local interest


Any inquiries relating to this page should be addressed to Ian Hall.


This page was last updated 16 May 2007 Return to main page >>>