THE SMALLWOOD FAMILY IN YORKSHIRE See below for details of individual trees >>

Historical background

The Smallwood name appears in Yorkshire from the early 14th century, and although no definite line of descent can be established, there is good evidence for a continuity of presence from that date. The distribution and known activities of family members point to some kind of link with the notable Salvin family, and it may be that the principal Yorkshire branch of the Smallwoods were tenants and retainers of the Salvins, following them as they moved from South Yorkshire up through the East Riding and thence to Egton on the North Yorkshire Moors. By the time of the 1666 Visitation, the Smallwoods of Egton were claiming to be 'a younger branch of the Smallwoods of Staffordshire', and their Cumbrian descendants employed arms related to those of the early Cheshire Smallwoods; but whether there was any factual basis for these assertions, or they were just a product of aristocratic pretensions based on the prominent contemporary Staffordshire Smallwood family, remains unclear. It seems most likely that the Yorkshire branches of the Smallwoods did indeed derive their name from the primary Smallwood home in Cheshire, but as mentioned in the introduction, there is also some possibility of a more local origin in West Yorkshire.

Early mediaeval records for Yorkshire make no mention of the Smallwood name, and the extensive 1297 and 1301 lay subsidy returns which in aggregate cover most of the county also make no mention of it. The first Smallwoods so far found are a John Smalwod, tailor, elected a Freeman of the City of York in 1357, and an Elizabetha Smallwode, enumerated in the 1379 poll tax returns for the West Riding. It would appear that by sometime soon after this period a Smallwood family had settled in the area around Selby in the south-western corner of the East Riding. The will of William, son of Thomas Escryk of Selby, dated 19th January 1407/08, refers to his brother-in-law Thomas Smallwood, then resident in Micklegate, Selby with his wife Isabelle. As mentioned above, the later evolution of the family suggests that the Smallwoods may have forged some kind of link with the notable Salvin family, then resident in nearby North Duffield , as will become apparent in the discussion below.

The Salvins had accumulated substantial landholdings in the area around Driffield in the heart of the East Riding by the end of the 14th century, and by the time of Thomas Smallwood’s contemporary George Salvin (the grandson of Sir Gerard Salvin c.1307-1369), the Salvins had settled in that area, with George buried at Lowthorpe in 1417. It seems likely that one or more representatives of the Smallwood family followed them there, as there is evidence of an early presence in the area, of which more below. George’s wife Elizabeth was the sister of Peter, eighth and last Lord Mauley of Mulgrave Castle (in the North Yorkshire Moors), and on his death in September 1415 she succeeded to half of his estates, including the lordship of Egton and the advowson of Hinderwell. In this manner, the way was paved for the move of the Salvins and Smallwoods to the Moors area. George and Elizabeth’s son John Salvin appears to have followed his older cousin William (settled in Whitby by 1395) up to the North Riding, settling at Newbiggin in Egton lordship sometime after his proof of age in 1430. In 1452, John nominated his namesake John Smallwood as rector of Hinderwell, a position he held until 1457, and it would appear that this same John Smallwood was afterwards rector of Bainton, near the core of the Salvins’ holdings in the East Riding. John appears as ‘Sir John Smallwood, rector of Bainton’ among the witnesses to Sir John Salvin’s will of 26th April 1469, and may also be the 'gentleman of Farlington' (in the parish of Sherriff Hutton, just north-east of York), who was party to a £40 bond to Sir James de Ormond in early 1442. By the end of the 15th century, the Smallwoods appear to have settled in a number of locations close to the central path outlined above. Roger Smallwood, a minstrel, was elected as a Freeman of the City of York in 1503 and left a will in 1516, while an administration of the property of Thomas Smalewod of Dickering wapentake was granted in 1539.

The continuous history of the principal Yorkshire Smallwood line also begins in the early 16th century, with the appearance of a John Smallwood in the 1524 lay subsidy for Egton. Whether John was a recent arrival from the East Riding or the representative of a longer continual settlement from the time of Sir John Smallwood remains unclear, but John does not appear to have been a man of particular substance, declaring assets of 40s in fee, in line with several other inhabitants of the parish and only around 8% of that of his contemporary Sir Ralph Salvin (the grandson of Sir John). The precise structure of the early Egton family remains opaque, but there is good evidence from the composite of later documents that there were close and fluid links between family members in the northern part of the East Riding and those in Egton; with John's probable contemporary Edmund Smallwood of Foxholes appearing as the most likely candidate for the ultimate ancestor of the later Egton line. He has been taken here as the starting point for the Early Yorkshire tree (tree 197), and a discussion of the evidence surrounding Edmund and his apparent descendants in the Egton and Rillington area is provided on the related web page.

It is worth noting at this point that this Early Yorkshire line was almost certainly ancestral to several of the other major Yorkshire trees, with the Egton branch ancestral to the later Egton Smallwood line (tree 17) and the Sutton on Derwent line (tree 19), and the Rillington branch ancestral to the Allerston line (tree 53) and the apparently related Scalby line (tree 227). A further discussion of these likely connections is provided on both the Early Yorkshire page and the pages for the individual trees. Beyond these established Yorkshire trees, the other significant Yorkshire lines probably had their ultimate origins in Cumbria. Robert Smallwood (probably part of the Kendal tree) and his wife Mary suddenly appeared in Brompton near Northallerton in the 1740’s, and initiated a fairly significant descendant line there (tree 110) which later spread up into County Durham. There is reasonable evidence that Robert’s daughter Mary moved to Bridlington, possibly accompanied by her brother William (with another brother Joseph perhaps settling in Whitby). Mary’s two illegitimate sons Robert and Luke initiated the reasonably substantial Bridlington Smallwood line (tree 114), which flourishes down to the present.

As noted below, there are a number of other, more minor, Yorkshire Smallwood lines, but overall, the early Egton family probably accounts for around 75% of present day Yorkshire Smallwoods, the Scalby line for 15-20%, and the Bridlington line for the majority of the remainder.

For the Yorkshire descendants of Richard Smallwood (1778/9 Walsall, Staffordshire - 1862 York), including several York confectioners, see also tree 854 on the Staffordshire page.
For the Yorkshire descendants of William Smallwood (1822 Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire - 1859 Barnsley), largely in the Barnsley area, see also tree 49 on the Staffordshire page.

Documented trees

Tree Description Location Period Names
17 Descendants of John Smallwood of Egton (Ian's tree) North Yorkshire 1700-date 2143
197 Early North and East Riding tree (including Egton)  North Yorkshire, Cumbria 1500-1880 841
19 Smallwood family of Sutton on Derwent, East Yorkshire  Yorkshire, Lancashire 1725-date 768
53 Smallwood family of Allerston, North Yorkshire North Yorkshire 1650-date 430
227 Smallwood family of Scalby, North Yorkshire North Yorkshire 1759-date 367
114 Smallwood family of Bridlington, East Yorkshire North Yorkshire 1782-date 202
110 Smallwood family of Brompton near Northallerton, North Yorkshire East Yorkshire 1752-1900 166
10 The Stampers from Digbeth Sheffield/London 1759-1862 56
443 Smallwood of Bradford, Huddersfield from Bolsover, Derbyshire West Yorkshire 1900-date 39
410 William Smallwood (c.1785-1843) of Sheffield, and his descendants in West Yorkshire and Manchester Sheffield 1785-date 30
673 Sheffield Smallwoods including Stephen Martin Smallwood Sheffield 1912-date 11
858 Edwin Derbyshire Smallwood of York [1843-1912 York, Glass Maker, s/o John Augustus 1819 Birmingham & Sarah] York 1845-1950 9
228 Lawrence Augustus Smallwood 1905-1990, son of Eleanor Smallwood from Bridlington [to be linked to T114, review detail] North Yorkshire 1883-1964 5
724 William Smallwood from Sheffield Sheffield 1842-1971 4
702 Alice/Ellis Smallwood of Alleston, married 1776 Ebberston [Stray part of T53] Allerston 1750-1776 2
549 Mary Smallwood from Warwick Kingston upon Hull 1867-1881 1
571 Harriet Smallwood from Worsborough Dale, Yorkshire Yorkshire 1858-1881 1
900 William Smallwood from York, RN York 1842-1892 1
853 Sophia Ann Smallwood, widow from Canterbury Pontefract 1833-1882 1

Other (currently unconnected) research interests

Researcher Tree Description of local interest

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


This page was last updated 13 December 2007 Return to main page >>>