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the article and data that initiated the Ravenstonedale  project


our project page on the Family Tree DNA website

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As part of my research into the surname Adamthwaite, back in 2011, I carried out a study of the incidence of all surnames which appear in parish and manorial records for RAVENSTONEDALE in Westmorland, England at key points during the period 1379 to 1777.


An abridged version of my article describing the research appeared in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of One-Name Studies - links to the full version of the article and the table showing details of the incidence of the 30 most common surnames to appear in the earliest records, are shown on the left.  Although the table only shows the incidence of the 30 most frequently found surnames before 1700, I did analyse ALL surnames which appeared in the parish before 1800 (details for specific surnames available on request).


Surnames in this part of Westmorland appear to still have been in the process of being adopted at the time that the earliest list of tenants was recorded in the 1379 Poll Tax, so it is possible that yDNA test results will provide evidence of shared ancestry between direct line male descendants of these early families, even when they hold different surnames.


Ravenstonedale was then an isolated village on the fells in the upper Eden Valley of Westmorland, and a high level of intermarriage (and recorded illegitimacies) over time may also have resulted in

discoverable connections between male or female descendants of these early families who have taken autosomal Family Finder tests. However, it should be noted that this test is only designed to discover matches within the past five or six generations, so this section of the project is somewhat experimental in nature.


So the main goals of this project are to discover

  • More about the history of the parish and the families who were living there at the time of the earliest records

  • When (and why) members of the old Ravenstonedale families started to migrate away from the dale and where they went

  • Whether there is any shared genetic ancestry between the surnames known to have been present in Ravenstonedale in the 16th and 17th centuries

  • Whether testers in the Family Finder part of the project exhibit matches with others with similar geographical origins

  • More about the distant genetic origins of descendants with Ravenstonedale ancestry

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Ravenstonedale DNA project

Ravenstonedale DNA project

Project background

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map of Lord Wharton's park, which he forced his tenants to enclose in 1560 by requiring them to build sections of the wall (click to download a zipped file of this map)

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