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NOTES from Nicholas Singleton Dewhirst [b. 1949 Bromley, Greater London, England, d. 19 July 2013, Whitstable, Kent, England] on Whalley, Ribchester and environs in an email with Jana Black in June 2013

"I leave it to Stephen to correspond about the very comprehensive Dewhirsts of Keighley family tree that he built ..."

"In that case maybe we can help you further because we came to the conclusion that Ribchester was where it all started. We took extensive photos there. I am afraid that the present Dewhurst House is not that which our forebears may have inhabited. It is a farm house that appears to date from 1800-1850 but nevertheless they will give you some feeling for the location. If it was worth replacing what was there before the predecessor cannot have been very grand, so we should not kid ourselves that the Dewhursts were that important - minor landowning families so enough to appear in legal documents because
there were assets to argue about but not much more."

"FYI The Parish of Whalley was not your ordinary village and Ribchester was not a village. They were the two population centres in the Middle Ages. They had the first two decent churches built by St. Wilfrid (my dad's Christian name). He was the bishop of York who practiced management by ride about with a retinue of workmen restoring churches. Hence the Ribchurch name, St. Wilfrid. I have photos of the Dewhurst pew and also a floor stone stating here lies Edward the son of Thomas Dewhurst 1685."

"Whalley was the location of the nearest Abbey which accounts for its size 100,000 acres versus a normal 2,000 acres. It includes what are now several large towns, Accrington, Burnley, Colne with a combined population of 150,000. The Whalley you may see on the map now is only a small village of 2,500 people following the destruction of the monastry in the Reformation. Thus the parish reached the Pennine ridge and included the Dales on the Lancashire side. Similar more extensive Dales extended on the Yorkshire side.(see map). That is relevant to the scattering of the family from Whalley myth."

"It included the river Ribble and thus also the main E/W route Lancashire to Yorkshire which would still have been the Roman Road via Colne and Skipton to York, so it would have been central to Dewhurst (Lancs) migration to Dewhirst (Yorks). The Dales were poor hill farming country only good for grazing sheep. There were few woods because of the moorland vegetation which is still the case today. Probably the Romans had also extensively deforested the Ribble valley around Ribchester."

"Hence a wooded hill or hurst would have been a notable feature in this region. NB Stoneyhurst College and Hurst Green nearby. Elsewhere England where the Saxons conquered land was flatter, so good land with plentiful forests, which probably explains the concentration of our names respectively on either side of the Pennines (see GB Names). Wales and Scotland have the same features but the Saxons did not penetrate that far. Cumbria inc. Westmoreland (note the name) and Northumberland are similar so Dewhursts / Dewhirsts might appear but Cumbria was only ever thinly populated and Saxon influence in Northumberland would have been quickly diluted by Danish and Viking invasions."

"Ribchester itself is the Roman fort town built at the cross roads of the N/S Roman road to Hadrian's wall and the E/W route from York to the roman port on the Lancashire coast. As such it was the most important place between Preston and Lancaster in Roman times and that remained the case till the Lancashire spinning and weaving industry grew after 1700. "

"Dewhurst Houses land certainly extended to the bridge for they were known as Dewhurst of Bridge-End. Dewhurst Wood straddles the N/S stream now known as Dutton Brook. Dutton Hall became the dominant land-owner owning also Dewhurst House in recent centuries after our family left the House but not the town. (See spreadsheet) The map is 1846 and probably representative of many previous centuries as Ribchurch itself did not expand beyond two small mills upon industrialisation."

RIBCHESTER
1841 CENSUS
Christian Name Family Name Age Occupation Address
Richard Dewhurst 30
Dorothy Dewhurst 30
Edmund Dewhurst 25 Publican Red Lion
Ann Dewhurst 25
John  Dewhurst 6
Ellen Dewhurst 5
Thomas Dewhurst 3
George Dewhurst 1
William Dewhurst 0
Ellen Dewhurst 60
Thomas Dewhurst 35 Tailor
Ellen Dewhurst 25
Elizabeth Dewhurst 7
William Dewhurst 6
Peter Dewhurst 4
Mary Dewhurst 2
Jane Dewhurst 1
John Dewhurst 60 Grocer
Sarah Dewhurst 25
Margaret Dewhurst 20
Elizabeth Dewhurst 15
Jane Dewhurst 1
Elizabeth Dewhurst 65 Teacher
Alice Dewhurst 5
Elizabeth Dewhurst 25
Roger Dewhurst 0
Henry Dewhurst 50
Ann Dewhurst 50
Thom Dewhurst 25
George Dewhurst 20
Robert Dewhurst 20
Jane Dewhurst 15
Richard Dewhurst 15
Mary Dewhurst 10
Lawrence Dewhurst 65 Weaver Church St.
John Dewhurst 50
Jane Dewhurst 40
Ellen Dewhurst 13
Charles Dewhurst 11
Total 39