Archive for September 5th, 2021

My English ancestors and St Leonards Church

Over the years I have always known my Sutherland name has implications of Scottish ancestry. Over recent years I have uncovered those details and yes, my Scottish ancestors go back to the ancient Kirk of Scotland, Dunrobin Castle and beyond. But what of my English ancestors on my mothers side?

My mother’s ancestors, on my grandmothers side, descend from Welsh origin through the surname of my great grandfather Henry Jones. Yet my mothers father was English through and through.

This grandfathers surname was Smithies, a direct ancestry that can be traced back to an area in Northern England known as Middleton. Here my English ancestors have direct connections with St Leonards, an ancient parish with a Church on a hill. It was here, at St Leonards, where 16th century reformer John Bradford preached and also directly referenced in his farewell to Lancashire and Cheshire. Bradford pleaded with them “Turn unto the Lord, yet once more – I heartily beseech thee.”

The Church was established in Saxon times and was also the place where the Lindsfarne Gospels and the bones of St Cuthbert were temporally kept. The Church was also attended by the Bamford family, from whom came Samuel Bamford.

At present the baptismal records directly trace my Smithies ancestors to 1658. This is a fantastic discovery for me knowing that I have been walking in the footsteps of my ancestors.

For me, after 35 years of being a Christian, I am resolved to know that in the Church of England I am standing in the right place.

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