the article and data that initiated the Ravenstonedale project
our project page on the Family Tree DNA website
Barbara has sent this story about some of her Bousfield ancestors:
My mother didn’t have many memories of her grandmother, but she does remember she seldom smiled. Born Mary Bousfield in 1854 at Dubbs in Ravenstonedale, she was living at Friar’s Bottom when she married George Airey in 1875. These two young people of long-standing Westmorland farming families were forced from the land by the Great Depression in Agriculture, which dated from 1873 to 1896. By 1890 they were living in industrial Lancashire, which must have been hard for them and perhaps accounted for her sadness.
Mary’s father Robert had farmed at Friar’s Bottom from the 1870s and was there until his death in 1894. Robert’s surviving children had moved away from Ravenstonedale by the time he died, but the tenancy of Friar’s Bottom stayed in the family with another Robert Bousfield, his nephew and son of his brother Thomas, at Friar’s Bottom until he died in 1925.
Robert’s parents were John Bousfield and Agnes Knewstubb. The family of Agnes can be traced back in Ravenstonedale to at least the mid 1600s, and local names Hebblethwaite, Clemison and Fawcett come into the family from this line.
Although John Bousfield was born at Midfield in Orton, and his father and possibly grandfather were also not born in the town, they did live here for a time, were heavily involved with the Independent Chapel (there is a very informative gravestone in the chapel grounds), and very probably descend from a family who had been resident here for some years. Although I can’t yet prove it, it seems very probable that Richard Bousfield, great-great grandfather of Mary, married Agnes Bousfield – and Agnes does seem to have been from a branch of the family long settled in the town. The name itself though, would seem to have come from the very small hamlet called Bousfield, which is in Orton.
To the Memory of
RICHARD BOUSFIELD of WEASDALE
Yeoman who died the 31st of August 1783
Aged 65. And of AGNES his Wife who
died Novr 9th 1782 Aged 60.
This Stone is erected as a memorial of filial
affection for the best of parents.
Their eldest Son CHRISTOPHER died
March 15th 1813 Aged 54.
Their second Son RALPH died Feb. 10th
1810 Aged 47.
Their fourth Son RICHARD died Aug 12
1815 Aged 44.
Their eldest Daughter ANN the Wife of
John Chamberlain died Feb. 9th 1837 Aged 83.
ELIZABETH their second Daughter died
July 5th 1838 Aged 82.
Their third Son Robert died March 14th 1855.
In his 'History and Traditions of Ravenstonedale' Rev. W Nicholls relates a tale which I believe refers to John Bousfield, grandfather of Mary and son of Christopher listed on the gravestone shown above. This is what he has to say:
And now I can give you a capital practical joke. Now a practical joke, as a rule, is a very objectionable thing, and especially to those on whom it is practised; but of the one I am about to tell you I think that its cleverness will atone for the rest. I am informed that Thomas Thompson and John Jacques, shoemakers in this parish, were impressed with the fact that there was coal in this dale, and thought that they had discovered traces of it in Pinska Gill, and so they determined to dig into the earth in search of it. This they could not afford to do all day long, and so they worked at it overtime. When they had dug a pit about the size of a small room, John Bousfield, of Weasdale, while the shoemakers were at work at their trade, dug deeper down and underneath, and inserted a large block of his own coal. That evening, as one of them was digging, he came upon it. Their joy was unbounded. They clapped their hands, they embraced each other, and they threw up their work for the night; and carrying the piece of coal they had dug out to the Black Swan, told the men therein assembled of their success. The fact soon spread, and others were attracted in, and it was taken in sober earnest by the people. Meanwhile the shoemakers chipped pieces about the size of a hen’s egg off the lump and burnt it in the landlord’s fire, and all pronounced it to be good. The price was determined upon, and the happy sons of Crispin received a great many orders for loads of coal. The next day also, tradition says, they spent at the Black Swan; and when their lump had about gone in samples, and their money was spent, they went to their mine in right good earnest, when, after working for a day or two very determinedly, they learnt that the coal discovery was all a hoax.
This tale must be from before 1851 when John Bousfield had moved from Weasdale to Dubbs. Thomas Thompson was a shoemaker at Town Angle in 1851.