Greenwood Genealogies, 1154-1914 (Chapter 3)

By Frederick Greenwood, East Templeton, MA — 1914


For full seven centuries the surname Greenwood has been in use in England. The early English Greenwood records given in this volume and a long Greenwood pedigree now in the College of Arms, in London, Eng., show the progenitor of the Greenwood family in England to have been a Wyomarus de Greenwode. All family records of Anglo-Saxon extraction are believed to run back to this Wyomarus and the name Greenwood may be regarded as having had its beginning with him. This Wyomarus was caterer to Maud, the Empress, mother of King Henry II, who reigned in England A.D. 1154-1189. Wyomarus furnished the provisions for the household of the Empress Maud (known also as Matilda) and was of the titled gentry or nobility of his time. His coat of arms, which all Greenwoods are entitled to use, appears in this volume.

In the township of Heptonstall, Eng. (which is in the West Riding of Yorkshire), 1-1/2 miles from Heptonstall village, on the old Roman highway, which leads from Heptonstall to Colne, there stands today a grand old hall or manor house, built of hand-hewed stone. This house, which is of such ample pretensions as to be known as a mansion, has for many centuries been standing here. It is set high up on the slope of what is known as Hardcastle Crags, or Hebden Valley. It overlooks this beautiful, wooded valley and the scene presented is picturesque and enchanting. Many tourists are attracted to this spot by the grandeur of the scene. According to Thoresby's history of Leeds, published 1715, and from the records which appear in this volume, this mansion was built by Wyomarus or his immediate descendants and was their home place. The mansion with its buildings and land attached is known as Greenwood Lee. The mansion is 20 miles due west from Leeds and is 2 miles distant from the flourishing cotton manufacturing town of Hebden Bridge.

Three-fourths of a mile from Greenwood Lee, on the same old Roman road leading from Heptonstall to Colne, is a second building of stone and is known as High Greenwood. This structure was rebuilt 100 years ago and is now much changed from its former appearance. In the neighborhood of Greenwood Lee and High Greenwood there are today such places as Greenwood Lee Wood, High Greenwood Wood, Greenwood Lee Clough, Green Hill and others, and the public records of Heptonstall show that these places were formerly included in what was once known as Greenwood. It was a little settlement in itself. At one time this tract was a forest and this little settlement took its name from that forest. It was a large tract of green wood, of waving trees of oak, ash, maple and birch and many other varieties of wood. Probably the forest from which Greenwood took its name included the whole district from Stoneshay Gate to Widdop Gate and from the right side of the highway down to the river Hebden in the valley. The clearing in the forest was begun on the plateau skirting the valley. Here Greenwood Lee was built. It is possible that the first houses were of wood and then after the forest was somewhat cleared Greenwood Lee was constructed; then followed the construction of High Greenwood, the Clough house and others. This settlement of Greenwood was one of the oldest in Heptonstall and the Greenwoods of the settlement from ancient times down to the present day have ever been prominent in shaping the history of that old town. Turn over the pages of history of old Heptonstall, either of its remote past or immediate present, and the name Greenwood stands out prominent before you. Whichever way you turn in Heptonstall you are confronted by that name. The largest tax payers of Heptonstall have ever been Greenwoods, while the records of the ancient parish church of the place and the old wills recorded at York show generous contributions by Greenwoods to the church and large bequests to public charity.

Previous to the year 1154 very few people in England had more than one name. Wyomarus was known only as Wyomarus. Surnames were introduced into England by the Normans after their invasion, in 1066, and many family names have originated in England since that time. After Wyomarus had established his home in the forest at Heptonstall, and a little settlement of his descendants was made there, he became known as Wyomarus de Greenwod (Wyomarus of Greenwood). The children and descendants of Wyomarus also took similar names and were known as Bartram de Greenwod (Bartram of Greenwood), Robert de Greenwod (Robert of Greenwood) and so on, and the old public records of Heptonstall show that it was nearly as late as the year 1500 when the surname Greenwood became fully established and the Latin word "de" was omitted. Greenwood is a place name. The family takes its name from a locality and that locality the green wood or forest at Heptonstall. It is evident that the mansion, Greenwood Lee, took the first part of its name (Lee) from the fact that its location was sheltered or that the buildings afforded shelter to both men and beasts. Just the date Greenwood Lee was built there are no records that show. In 1362 Greenwood Lee is mentioned in Heptonstall public records as being occupied by Thomas de Grenwod. In 1379 Hegh Grenewod (High Greenwood) is mentioned. There are no earlier public records referring to these buildings.

Public records referring to the Greenwoods at Greenwood are of much interest. From the earliest public court records we find that on Nov. 22, 1274, one William Grenehod (Greenwood), was, for taking bushwood from Erringden forest, fined 6 pence, and according to the record a pledge was given by Luvecock, his brother, that it would not occur again In the following year, or Friday, in whit-week, 1275, John de Greenwode (John of the Greenwood) was fined in the court of the Lord of the Manor 2 shillings for the escape of 3 beasts to the meadows of Rawtonstall. These records show that at that time there was a settlement in the forest at Greenwood and that some of the land had been cleared, fenced and cultivated. The court of the manor was held at Wakefield by the Earl of Warren, or John de Warren, as his real name was. The Earl had been given by King Henry III (1250) free warren, or right to preserve the forests for game in Heptonstall, Wadsworth, Rawtonstall, Stansfield and Langfield and he punished all intruders. He was Lord of the Manor of that district and once when his right was questioned he unsheathed his sword and stretching out his arm declared that it was that weapon that gave him his right.

In the year 1379 a poll tax was issued by King Richard II upon all persons in England over the age of 16 years in every parish or township The tax list is of interest as showing who was living at Greenwood at the time. The list follows:

Ricardus de Grenwod & vx. iiij d. (Richard of Greenwood and wife 4 pence.)
Thomas de Grenewod & vx. iiij d. (Thomas of Greenwood and wife 4 pence.)
Thomas de Grenewod & VX. iiij d. (Thomas of Greenwood and wife 4 pence.)
Thomas de Grenewod iiij d. (Thomas of Greenwood, single.)

From the above list it would appear that 4 Greenwoods constituted the inhabitants of Greenwood in 1379 -- three of the Greenwoods were married and their wives living and one single person able to a tax on account of age. One of these Greenwoods was named Richard and three were named Thomas. Besides these married Greenwoods there may have been children under the age of 16. Each was taxed 4 pence and evidently the tax had no bearing on the property each held.

The records of the Court of the Manor show a Richard de Grenewod as a juryman in Oct., 1379, and in 1380 a Richard, son of Thomas de Grenewod, was a juryman at both April and October Turns. At an inquisition held at Halifax, 1362, a Thomas de Grenewod is named and described as the father of William and was probably living at Greenwood Lee. A Thomas de Grenewod was a juror of the Manor Court held 20th of October, 1413, and was then living at High Greenwood. His name was second on the panel, a position he continued to occupy 1433 and 1434. Thomas de Grenewod, the single man on the poll list, may have been the Thomas de Grenwod whose name appears on a jury list 3d of Oct. 1434, when he is last on the list of those impaneled at the local Turn.

Public records show that soon after 1382 that the Monks of Lewes, in Yorkshire, had some control over the estates at Greenwood, and those adjoining, and drew revenue from them, the right being given by the Earl of Warren.

In 1433 a John de Grenewod was living at Greenwood Lee and was the wealthiest landlord in Heptonstall, for he was paying a tax of 24s. 9-1/2d. annually in the way of rent, which was considered large as money was then valued.

On Dec. 16, 1439, the 18th year of the reign of King Henry VI, a rental was made in Heptonstall by order of the Proctor of the Priory of Lewes and from this rental it is learned that one Thomas Michell (Mitchell) was then living at "Heghegrenewodde" (High Greenwood) and paying rent to the Priory of Lewes of 6s. 2d. per year. The Mitchells had evidently married into the Greenwood family. Formerly they occupied adjoining estates. They are of Norman descent. John de Grenewodde of Grenewoddlee (Greenwood Lee), the largest occupier in Heptonstall, paid an annual rent for Greenwood Le of 6s. 7-1/2d.; for lands and tenements called Gloghehous (Clough house), which is situated near Greenwood Lee on the far side of Greenwood Lee Clough, to the left of the road, 15s.; for a close of land called "Gyllotraide," 4d.; land and tenement at "Robedshag" (Robert Shaw), near the slack Baptist chapel, 17d.; for other lands and tenements in Heptonstall, no described by name, 17d.

Richard de Grenewode, probably son of John, the same year was holding lands and tenements at Colden-Ing, for which he paid yearly rent 20d. He also held one parcel of land called "Walker-wyfynge," for which he paid 4-1/2d.

William de Grenewodde held lands and tenements in Learing, in Heptonstall, for which he paid yearly rent 20d. He also rented "Esthap More" (East-up-Moor) for which he paid 20d., and also one acre of land taken from waste for which he paid 4d. per year. He is probably the same William Greenwood who was constable of Heptonstall in 1461. There was also a second Richard de Grenewodde who held lands and tenements in Heptonstall township, for which he paid 3s. 9-1/2d.

The rental list of 1439 shows that there were only 12 persons in the township of Heptonstall at that time paying rent. The combined rent of the 4 Greenwoods amounted to 34s. 3-1/2d. The combined rent of the other 8 persons was 22s. 8-3/4d. The largest tax payer was John de Grenewodde (John of Greenwood); second largest in Heptonstall, John Pygehils (Pickles), who paid for land and tenements in the town, 7s.

The old English public records show that very early the Greenwoods of Greenwood, in Heptonstall, began to scatter to the surrounding districts, marrying and intermarrying there, accumulating property and establishing homes. At one of the Turns of the Court of the Manor one Roger Greenwood of Sowerby (6 miles from Greenwood), in 1326, was fined 3d. for his beasts unlawfully eating from the herbage of the forest. The record reads: "Rog'us de Grenwood, p. exh. best, iij d." In 1432 a lease, which was in Latin, was made for 40 years of a certain property called "Huldisworth Inge," in the township of Ovenden, near Halifax, at 20s. per year, to William Greenwood of Mixenden, by William Otes and others. In 1509 John Greenwood with Peter Crabtree, two clothiers (manufacturers of cloth), acquired from Richard Young and Margaret, his wife, what is known as Old Town farm, in Wadsworth, and the adjoining one known as Crabtree farm, in Wadsworth. In 1524 both these men paid a subsidy of 20s. each to King Henry VIII and in later years they were both said to have been accused of using flocks in the manufacture of cloth. On his death John Greenwood was succeeded in business by his son William.

In 1563 William Greenwood, a merchant or chapman, of Wadsworth, purchased from Wm. Brigg and Henry Brigg, his son and heir apparent, land called Potter Cliff, at Old Town, in Wadsworth, and about the same time he bought lands called Hirst from Henry and Charles Farrer, in Old Town. He was active in church matters for in the Heptonstall church registers, dated Apr. 21, 1572, he signs an entry to the effect that 120 organ pipes had been laid up in the church coffer.

Greenwood Lee, from the time of its construction, passed down through an unbroken succession of generations of Greenwood owners until 1642, when it passed out of Greenwood possession. The last Greenwood occupant of the estate was Rev. Charles Greenwood. He was rector of Thornhill, and through the influence that his own family had attained in the district as well as his connection with Greenwood Lee, he became Lord of the Manor of Heptonstall.* He was son of James Greenwood of Sowerby, a direct descendant of the Greenwoods of Greenwood Lee. His mother was Cecilia, daughter of Chas. Radcliff, of Todmorden. He left no living heirs. The will of the Rev. Charles Greenwood, proved July 14, 1642, provided for the establishment of a free grammar school in Heptonstall, the buildings for which he had erected** He also bequeathed L100 to be lent and put forth from year to year to ye poor people inhabiting within ye township of Heptonstall to succeeding ages for ever, the better to enable them to live by their labors in their honest vocations." He gave also money for the founding of two fellowships and two scholarships in University College, in Oxford, of which he had been fellow, and 1500 pounds more toward building of a new quadrangle at the college, but the college was wronged of these bequests through the misconduct of the executors.

In 1650 Greenwood Lee was twice sold. For a time it was in possession of the family of Sutcliff. In 1760 it was purchased by Abraham Gibson and at present it is occupied by Mrs. M.E. Gibson, widow, and her son Abraham, who are direct heirs of the Abraham first mentioned.

The last Greenwood occupant of High Greenwood was one William Grenewod, whose will was proved at York Apr. 2, 1522, and his descendants. In 1559 High Greenwood was purchased by a Mr. Mitchell and it has remained in the Mitchell family ever since, having been passed down from one generation to another. Both Greenwood Lee and High Greenwood are today used as farmsteads. Both estates join and both extend from the moors at the summit of the hills to the valley below.

The buildings now at Greenwood Lee consist of a large two story stone house, about 30x40 feet in size, with a long ell 60x30 feet, also two stories. The house has five gables; roofs covered with slate or thin stone and the house is especially noticeable for the large number of chimney tops and stone balls above the roof. Back of the main house is a second stone house 40x40 feet in size, two stories high, with a gable, slated or stone roof. There is a large stone barn on the premises unique for its architecture. It is only one story high and has a high pointed roof. It is 100 feet long and 60 feet wide. In a stone over the porch of the large house is cut the figures 1712. This porch was rebuilt that year by the Sutcliffes. Otherwise the exteriors of all the buildings are as they were originally made except new glass windows and chimney pots. The estimated age of the present buildings at Greenwood Lee is 500 years. Probably the present structures were built about the year 1400 and are an enlargement of the original or first buildings bearing the same name. High Greenwood when rebuilt is believed to have been standing since the year 1260.

According to Tappan's history of England, as late as 1500 the poor people in the country lived in cottages made of sticks and clay. There were no real chimneys, but only a hole for the smoke to go out. With Greenwood Lee, High Greenwood and the Clough house, large buildings of stone, the Greenwoods of Greenwood may be regarded as wealthy people for their time.

Ralph Thoresby in his history of Leeds, Eng., and the West Outriding of Yorkshire, published 1715, and Whitaker in an edition of Leeds, published 1816, both refer to a place known as New Laithes as famous for its long Greenwood occupancy. Thoresby says of New Laithes: "Here for many years resided the very ancient family of Greenwood descended from Wyomarus, who flourished ano. 1154, cater to Mawd the Empress." This New Laithes is the small village 5 miles north-west of Leeds, near the river Aire in the township of Newlay. New Laithes hall, or manor house, is yet standing, but no Greenwoods or their descendants are now living there. New Laithes hall came into possession of the Greenwoods as early as 1180 and was occupied by a Charles Greenwood as late as 1816. On Apr. 13, 1670, the estate was sold by a James Greenwood to Thomas Lord Viscount Savile, Earl of Sussex, but the estate was repurchased by a Joseph Greenwood, who died there in 1728.

The Empress Maud, with whose household Wyomarus de Greenwod was connected was daughter of King Henry I, the third of the Norman Kings to rule England. While still a child she married the Emperor of Germany; that person dying she was married to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, a Frenchman. Her mother was known as "Good Maud," daughter of the King of Scotland. By Geoffrey, she had a son who became King Henry II of England.

The early English records which appear in this volume have been passed down from one generation of Greenwoods to the next succeeding. In the year 1700 the records were in the keeping of James Greenwood of York; in 1815, they were in the hands of Joseph Greenwood Clayton, of New Laithes. (See Whitaker's History of Leeds.) The records are in two parts. The first part is upon parchment. The second part is in the autograph of Sir William Dugdale. By these records every descendant of Thomas Greenwood of Newton, Mass., can trace an unbroken line of ancestry extending over a period of 700 years and through many generations. The line of descent in the English records from Thomas of Newton runs through John Greenwood, the priest, who was great grandparent of Thomas.

The old church at Heptonstall (Thomas a' Becket), at which all Greenwoods of the parish worshipped, was built as early as 1260, but is now in ruins. It was disused in 1854. An effort is being made to perpetually preserve the now standing walls of the old stone structure and contributions for this purpose are solicited from all interested persons. The Vicar of the Heptonstall Parish Society, Heptonstall, Eng., receives subscriptions. The registers of the old church run back only to 1593. The first Greenwood interment entries are: March 20, 1593, twin children of William Grenwod, Wardsworth; March, 1594, infant of Richard Grenwod, of Ayringden; Apr. 10, 1594, John, son of John Grenwod, of Stansfield; June 7, 1594, wife of Ric. Grenwod of Lang; June 11, 1594, infant of Simion Grenwod.

No Greenwood marriages were recorded in 1593, but in 1594 there are two: May 5, Matthew Grenwod and Jane Buckley and Richard Grenwood and Agnes Grenwood. In 1599 these baptisms appear, the first in the registers: July 15, Grace, dau. of John Greenwood of Wadd.; 22d, Doriti, dau. of William Greenwood; 22d, Grace, dau. of Thomas Greenwood; Aug. 12, John, son of Simion Grenwod of Wad.

A John Grenewode was clerk (in Holy orders) of the Heptonstall Church in 1439, a Sir John Grenwodde, curate, in 1531, and Thomas Greenwood, of Elphaborough Hall, officiated 172-1744. He died 1748. A gallery at the west end of the north nave of this church was called High Greenwood loft, but when erected is not known.

In the gallery of the tower of the new church of the Heptonstall parish society at Heptonstall, is a marble tablet placed in memory of a John Greenwood, whose death occurred June 16, 1823, aged 81, in recognition of his gift to charity. Names of the wives by his three marriages and those of his children are also given.

A John Greenwood, of Cottingly, as shown by a deed dated Feb. 20, 1598, left the sum of L40 to be lent from year to year for ever, to the poor of Heptonstall parish and L20 to the poor of Bradford-dale. Paul Greenwood of Old Town, Wadsworth, left 20 shilling a year for the poor people of Wadsworth and 20 shillings a year for the minister at Heptonstall.

John Greenwood, of the Learings, in Heptonstall, by his will dated Feb. 10, 1687, left an annuity of 20s. for the minister of Heptonstall Church and one of 20s. for the purpose of apprenticing a poor man's child.

John Greenwood, of the Hippings, in Stansfield, by will dated Dec. 13, 1705, left 20s. yearly forever to the minister at Heptonstall for the preaching of a sermon the first Wednesday in August yearly.

Referring to the number of Greenwoods now living in Heptonstall vicinity a public writer says: "In the Calderdale district, from Halifax to Todmorden, the number of Greenwoods is positively amazing. One cannot take up a newspaper, or attend some public or social function, or visit the homes of the people, but the name of Greenwood stands out in numbers almost like the stars in the firmament; and when one remembers that all these came from that original stock found at Greenwood, in Heptonstall, some centuries ago the thought cannot fail to be brimful of significance."

* It appears from a manuscript in the British Museum, No 797 of the Harleian mss., being a collection relating to Moreley Hundred, that John Warren, Earl of Surrey, claimed free warren in Heptonstall by charter dated 37th of King Henry III, A.D. 1253. The right of the manor passed into other hands for by an inquisition taken at Pontefract 25th Aug., 5th and 6th Philip and Mary, or A.D., 1558, that Sir Henry Savile, Knight, died seized in fee tail of the manor of Heptonstall and from him it passed by degrees to Sir George Savile, of Rufford. In the 5th King Charles, 1629, court was held at Heptonstall by Charles Greenwood, Clerk, Rector of Thornhill, Lord of the Manor of Heptonstall. Later the Right Honorable, the Earl of Scarborough, became Lord of the Manor of Heptonstall.

One of the descendants of Charles Greenwood was cornet to Captain Gascoigne and another, Ferdinand Greenwood, was lieutenant of horse in the service of King Charles the First, and was slain at Newark.

** The school building provided for by the will of Rev. Charles Greenwood is yet in use and stands close by the old churchyard in Heptonstall. The school house was given as a free gift to the people of Heptonstall and land and property at Colden, in Heptonstall, was endowed for the perpetual care of the building and continual salary of the master of the school. The executors of the will consisted of John Greenwood, son of Robert Greenwood, John Greenwood of Elfaburgh Hall, William Mitchell, Thomas Greenwood of Learing and Richard Robertshaw and their heirs.

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