‘And when did you last see your father?’ painting by William Frederick Yeames, 1878, public domain via Wikimedia Commons. William Carnaby of Farnham, Alwinton and Bothal was elected MP for Morpeth again for the Long Parliament in November 1640. He raised forces for the King and was accordingly disabled from attending parliament on 26 August 1642. He was Treasurer of the Army and fought in the Northumberland Regiment, commanded by the Marquess of Newcastle at the Battle of Marston Moor. The family's support of the Royalist cause is cited as the main contributory factor along with their recusancy in their subsequent downfall.
Just because something is written in history books does not mean it is correct. It should be noted that this is an observation and not a criticism! Many historians and genealogists have done excellent work in laying the foundations for understanding our families past on which we can build. However, as the authors were or are only human they, like us, can only draw conclusions based on the information they have before them, or the sources they chose to consult. The same applies for some of the pedigrees these histories contain. For many researchers they are the first port of call for information, particularly in the pre-census and statutory period. For those trying to piece together earlier generations where non-conformists baptisms and marriage information does not appear in parish registers and is in short supply, these printed pedigrees provide an easy ‘one stop shop’ of seemingly credible information. However, they remain secondary sources. They are not always as reliable as their reputation would suggest which is perfectly illustrated by the case in question. It relates to three branches of the Carnaby family of Northumberland, some of whom were known to be ‘recusants’ or adherents to the Roman Catholic faith.
The Carnaby Pedigree which appears on pages 19 – 21 in ‘A history of Northumberland’ Volume 4, published in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1893 is irrefutably incorrect in several details. Most importantly, it is missing a whole generation preceding the marriage of Ralph Carnaby to Ann Dobson at Longhorsley in 1719. Resulting hypotheses drawn from this pedigree are therefore questionable, and researchers of this family are missing a group of descendants that may just provide the link they are seeking.
Below is an outline of the Pedigree as published, supposedly linking the Carnaby families of Hexham to those of Great Tosson and Todburn:
The Northumberland History is not alone in making this fundamental error either. Dr Annie Forster whose extensive research into the catholic families of Northumberland in the 1960s, has also failed to spot the missing generation. It is somewhat incredulous that such eminent historians should have either missed the Will of Ralph Carnaby of Todburn dated 25th April 1702, along with annexed inventory and bond, or have chosen to ignore it. Researchers then as now appear to be pre-occupied in establishing links with titled or landowning classes, in this case the armorial family of Carnaby of Halton. By doing so they are missing out on vital information regarding their own family and its place in history.
When Ralph Carnaby’s Will and administration of 1702 is taken into account a very different picture of familial relationships to that recorded in Vol IV emerges. It reads:
In the name of God amen first I commend
My soule to Almighty god and body to be bu-
ried in Rodbury [Rothbury] Churchyard and I dispose
goods as followeth
I give to Ralph Carnaby son to Francis Car-
naby what house and lands I have in Rod-
bury at the tutoring of his father till he
come to years
I give to my daughter Cissely Pringle at
the end of the leas of Todburn five yeows
and lambs for her legacy
I give to my daughter Jane hardy at the
end of the said lease one why stirk
or thirty shilings of money for her legacy
I give to Ralph Pott one yeowe and a lamb
at the same time for his Legesy
I give to Jane Pott one why or forty of
money whether the executors hath a mind
to give her for her legacy
I give to Ane Carnaby wife to franke Carnaby
one yeow and a lambe at the same time
for her legacy
I give to franke Carnaby and Raiph Young
what husband worke geare is at the end
of this time to be equally divided be-
I leave Raiph Younge the farme
which I nowe injoy with what
Stocke theire is paying my debts
and Legacys afore mencioned and
to be my soll executor
This is my last will and Testament
being in perfect memory
his mark and sealle
Witnes our hands
Edward C Errington
The inventory taken shortly after his death (below) is typical of a yeoman farmer of the day with the majority of his moveable wealth being on the hoof rather than in the hand. What is most unusual, however, is the first entry. Whilst it is commonplace to list a horse and apparel, to make the point of itemising a sword is not!
The appended bond dated June 1702 clarifies the relationship between the testator and Ralph Young:
We Ann Young of Todburne in the County of Northumberland, widow, Robert Errington of Oldpark in the county aforesaid yeoman, and Francis Carnaby aforesaid in the county aforesaid yeoman …
The condition of this obligation is such that if the above bounden Anne Young widow … dos well & truly execute performe the last Will & Testament & Administer the goods and chattells of Ralph Carnaby (to the onely use benefit and behoofe during the minority of Ralph Young his grandchild & executor now in his minority) late of the parish of Longhorsley and of the diocese of Durham aforesaid And pay all the said deceased debts and Legacies as Lawe requireth…
The Northumberland History claims a relationship existed between the Carnaby family of Hexham and those of Great Tosson and Todburn, citing the Will of Roger Carnaby in 1713 as proof of the familial link. Whilst this Will undoubtedly proves the link between the families of Hexham and Great Tosson, I am struggling to see how and where it verifies a link to the family of Todburn.
Roger’s Will of 1713 tells us that:
What it does NOT tell us, NOR confirm, is any relationship between Roger Carnaby of Hexham’s family and the Carnaby family of Todburn. Nowhere is the mention of any of the Todburn descendants. The only potential ‘stray’ is his niece Mary Carnaby to whom he bequeaths £20. This cannot be Mary granddaughter of Ralph Carnaby d. 1702 (as per Vol IV) as;
It is therefore currently believed that the Mary mentioned in Roger's Will must be another daughter of Richard Carnaby of Great Tosson baptised at Rothbury in 1695, (the most likely - a baptism of another child, Richard, at Rothbury in 1700 has also been missed) or his brother John about whom very little is known other than he had a daughter named Isabella. A familial relationship between the families has not been ruled out but nor, as yet, has it been proved.
Roger’s Will of 1713 also provides evidence of trade connections, possibly with the Carolina’s – was Wondoe his black manservant named for the Wando River in South Carolina - and what exactly is meant by the ‘South Seas’? Is this a reference to the ‘South Sea Trading Company’ formed in 1711 which became known as the South Sea Bubble before its collapse in 1720? Certainly the presence of Wando would suggest evidence of Roger’s involvement in the Slave Trade. A bit of digging in the newspapers within the ‘Burney Collection’ uncovered possible evidence of trade with Virginia.
Plymouth, Jan 8. Yesterday came in here the Hunter of and for London, Roger Carnaby, Master, from Virginia” Daily Courant (London, England), Tuesday, January 12, 1703; Issue 230. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
Whilst there is no evidence to confirm this is the one and the same Roger Carnaby it is certainly possible, particularly when it is known he also had a house in London. It is tempting to speculate that Wando was also aboard the shipped that docked in 1703 and was bequeathed £1 for every year of service until Rogers death in 1713, however, without firm evidence, speculation is what it must remain.
The above is just an extract from a much larger piece of research, which at present is set to rival if not exceed the 18,000 words of last years Master's dissertation! I must thank Archivist Sue Wood and Paul Ternent of Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn for their assistance thus far, no doubt I shall be imposing myself upon them again in the not too distant future. Forewarned is forearmed as they say! If you are interested in acquiring a copy of this research or indeed would like to contribute to it then please do get in touch.
 A Why or Quey Stirk was a young cow or heifer. When written in Scots the ‘qu’ is often used in place of a ‘w’. Origin – Danish.
 Members of the Errington family were also recusants and known Jacobite activists. This particular branch farmed at Old Park, Netherwitton.
 Appointed plumber at St Mary’s in 1687, undertook leadwork on Tullie House, Abbey St in 1689. Dismissed by St Marys in 1713 for substandard work, reinstated in 1721. Son in 1717 worked on Carlisle Castle Downpipes. Father died 4 Oct 1742 aged 87. His children are mentioned in will of Roger Carnaby of Hexham dated 1713. Descendants of this Carlisle line married daughters of George Hare and Elizabeth Wright of Ingram. Is this Hare family related to the Hare family that married James Carnaby, Thomas Brewis and Thomas Collin in late 1700s and also potentially linked to the descendants of Francis Carnaby of Todburn?