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The Hardys of Easingwold

theserpentI have long harboured the belief that our Hardy patrilineage was steeped in the northeast County of Durham, particularly in the town of Sunderland, much due to the word of my Grandfather – Wilfrid Hardy. As a family historian I really should have known better than to have faithfully followed the names and dates provided by Grandpa; doing so has unwittingly kept me off the right track for decades. Reviewing all the data and finding a huge discrepancy prompted me to prove the birth of my Great Grandfather, Alfred Hardy. More than three family sources knew his birthday – 6 April, around 1870, but I had never obtained his birth certificate from The Public Records Office. Alfred Hardy was born on that day in 1871 at Ogdens Cottage, Bishopswearmouth, Sunderland to William Hardy and his wife Hannah, formerly Plummer. A further PRO certificate was demanded after all those years of erroneous assumptions and so the marriage, on 26 November 1855 in Thorganby in the County of York, of William Hardy and Hannah Plummer was identified.

In another chapter you can read about a different William Edward Hardy – ‘Fanny and the Gold Snuffbox’.

What followed was a summer flurry of research in 2010. At sometime after their 1855 marriage William and Hannah moved to Sunderland, together with William’s brother Jonathan Hardy. There the brothers became Constables in The Sunderland Borough Police. But, before then the Hardys came from Yorkshire and the many small farming communities and parishes within a 15 mile radius of the City of York. Some of the villages that feature in this history include Fulford, Stillingfleet, Riccall and Wistow to the south of York, Thorganby, Cottingwith, Sutton upon Derwent, Holme and Polkington to the southeast, and Alne, Aldwack, Farlington, Husthwaite, Oulston, Coxwould and, by no means least, Easingwold to the north.

Certainly Hardy ancestors at sometime came from Easingwold, as we shall discover, but also Farlington, a matter of six miles to the east. Establishing this depends on following each generation back through the records, which in most cases, including the decennial census, refer to a place of birth. William and Jonathan were born in Sutton upon Derwent, 8 miles southeast of York, as was their father John Hardy. The previous three generations, George Hardy, Jonathan Hardy and another Jonathan Hardy were from Farlington twenty miles to the north, and even earlier in this family, a further Jonathan Hardye and his father Will Hardye were from Easingwold. Interestingly there are six generations of Jonathan Hardy. Except for two Hardys, a wheelwright of Oulston, just six miles north of Easingwold, and a blacksmith of the parish, they were all agricultural labourers. The Hardys were in good company as almost 75% of the 4.8 million population of Britain in 1600 were engaged on the land.

Striving to discover the origins of ancestors and their communities, is where I want to get with my research. To establish that The Hardys are as Yorkshire as Yorkshire Pudding or Yorkshire Tea and from God’s own Country, as they say there, gives me, a Southerner, that extra sense of identity. My very good friend Maurice, a self-declared Yorkshireman from Bradford whose ancestors, we have discovered, were actually from Kendal in Cumbria, is naturally disbelieving. I don’t think, talk or behave like a Yorkshireman, albeit I am more so than he! It’s a matter of where on the timeline you measure your Yorkshireness. Migration is that factor that makes Maurice a Yorshireman and me a Londoner. And Yorkshiremen William and his brother Jonathan Hardy migrated to Sunderland.

Before the Civil Registration began in 1837 records of baptisms, marriages and burials were kept by the Priest or Parish Clerk of the Church of England in as many as 11,000 parishes nationwide. These valuable records were started in 1538 on the order of Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General to King Henry VIII. Most of the details of an event would have been made in a notebook or on slips of paper and entered into a register at a later date; hence many records were incomplete and depended on the conscientiousness of the Parish Priest. More is the pity that the Priests and Parish Clerks didn’t concentrate on drawing up family history charts; they simply recorded single events with varying degrees of information. At worst the record might say ‘Willm Hardie a very old man buried 28 Mar 1651’ and at best ‘Eliz [dr of] Jonathan Hardy of E labr s of Jonat Hardy of Farlington labr & of Sarah d of John Bentley near Helmsley fmr [b] 1 [bp] 5 Sept 1801’. It is not unusual to see another family member or even the same person’s surname spelled in different ways from record to record. In the 1800’s and before, when many people were illiterate, especially amongst the working classes, the Priest simply spelled it as he thought.

The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist and All Saints, Easingwold
The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist and All Saints, Easingwold

It was not until 1599 that a proper register was started for The Parish Church of St John’s Easingwold. All parish records are parochial by definition, in that they ‘have a very limited or narrow outlook or scope’, and arriving at St John’s Easingwold is, in truth, only the beginning of establishing the origins of the Hardys. Easingwold is just one of the 607 Parishes in the Diocese of York and it is worth considering that within a five mile radius of Easingwold there are twenty other parishes, many of which will include references to Hardy ancestors. This reflects a necessity to migrate from one parish to another, not just for work but also in the quest for a suitable wife or husband. During the seventeenth century nearly a half of all country folk died in a different parish from the one in which they were born and, not only this, a large proportion that died in the same parish of their birth had lived and worked in a nearby parish; and when it comes to marriage it was common practice for the ceremony to take place in the wife’s home parish, a time honoured custom upheld even today; it was also common for the wife to return to her home parish to give birth, especially in the case of a firstborn; there the infant would be baptised before mother and baby returned to the father. It was rare for the same family to live in the same parish for more than 3 generations or a hundred years but, apart from a great flow of people to London or other great cities such as nearby York, families would not move more than a few miles¹. Poor Laws and Settlement Acts of the early Seventeenth Century, whereby a parish was responsible for the welfare of those in its fold, is another factor that effectively reduced mobility.

The parish records for the towns and villages mentioned in this chapter are held at The Borthwick Institute of Historical Research at York University and on 7 Sept 2010 I took a day trip by train to York from London. In 1700, it took a week to travel the route by Stagecoach; this mode of transport would not have offered the luxurious and speedy travel of today’s 2 hour trip on a Virgin Pendolino. Delving into the parish records, first of Sutton upon Derwent then of Farlington and more, successfully followed the Hardy line back to Easingwold but the realisation that many other parish records would have to be examined soon became all too evident. In fact the deeper you delve into the family histories during this period the more an argument emerges for a project of family reconstitution²; this is a process of compiling family trees for as many people as possible in each parish, a one-place study that focuses on the entire population of a village, as ancestors relate in some way to all their neighbours. Too greater challenge for me and it would take several months at The Borthwick Institute to complete.

Having already mentioned Jonathan Hardy, the Sunderland policeman, I will turn back the clock by six generations of ancestors all bearing the same name, with the story of the earliest Jonathan Hardy I have found to illustrate Yorkshire country life during the Eighteenth Century. This Jonathan Hardye was born in December 1705, the son of Will Hardye, an agricultural labourer of Easingwold, and his wife Frances. He was the sixth of nine children born over a 17 year period to his parents, Jane Hardye, baptised 24 September 1695; John Hardye, baptised 3 January 1696; Anne Hardye, baptised 3 September 1698; William Hardye, baptised 15 October 1700; Frances Hardye, baptised 21 December 1703; here is Jonathan; Mary Hardye, baptised 17 April 1708; Elizabeth Hardye, baptised 11 March 1709; and Ann Hardye, born in about 1712.

Life would have been hard for the Hardy household through the 18th Century, living in a small two storey timber-frame and brick built farm cottage with its traditionally thatched roofed. This was likely to be a tied cottage owned by the farmer on whose land they worked; with maybe four rooms, an open hearth, and only basic furniture it would have been very cramped for a couple with nine children. Their diet would have been very plain and rather monotonous, consisting mainly of bread, butter, bacon, potatoes, tea and beer; for them meat was a luxury.  Half the population in 1700 lived at subsistence or bare survival level and Frances and her younger children would have grown vegetables in the long narrow garden at the rear of the cottage, called locally a garth, toft or croft. I imagine, being a keen wild blackberry picker myself, that, like all country folk, they would have been masters of foraging for any edible or medicinal wild food source during the changing seasons, a knowledge that has long since vanished. William would have spent long hours in the fields and, whilst agriculture methods were changing, seed was still sown by hand; it was hard labour.

Before Enclosure³, farmland around the village of Easingwold was divided into four fields; Crayke Field lay to the east, Mill Field with its windmill to the north, Church Field to the north-west and Stone Field to the south. Farmers and their labourers, many employed on an ad hoc basis, had strips on each open field.  But, gradually during the 18th century new machinery transformed working practices and this agricultural revolution enabled farmers to use their land more efficiently. Land was ‘enclosed’ with miles and miles of dry stone walls and layered hedgerows and each farmer had all his land in one place instead of different allocations scattered across Easingwold’s four open fields.

Easingwold was the main settlement within the ancient Forest of Galtres, valuable Royal hunting grounds, not only rich in game – deer and wild boar, even bears and wolves at an earlier time, but also a dependable source of timber. Besides providing commoners with an opportunity for poaching the occasional game bird or deer that emerged onto cultivated land, this kind of forest was also used by commoners for gathering fuel and also pannage, the old practice of turning out domestic pigs to feed on the abundance of fallen acorns, beechmast and chestnuts for which they paid a fee to the kings foresters. The forest had been crown property since the Norman Conquest but during the seventeenth century parts were disafforested and acquired by local titled landowners as a result of the Crown’s desperate need for ready money. Thereafter it was gradually cleared and converted to farmland. Between 1670 and 1743 the population of Easingwold increased from 176 to 240 and within the surrounding parishes of The North Riding of Yorkshire growth was much the same, with these communities exclusively engaged in agricultural production.

Friday was market day in Easingwold; a market had been held there since Charles I finally conveyed the market rights to a George Hall in 1638 by Letters Patent. From St. Matthew’s Day to St. Thomas’s Day (21 September – 21 December) there was also a cattle market every other Friday, selling stock at a time of year when it was costly to feed them through the oncoming winter. With two fairs each year village life would have been progressively thriving. It would have been an important weekly social event with an opportunity, not only to sell excess produce but also meet neighbours and those from nearby villages. Since Roman times Easingwold was on the direct route from London to Newcastle and by 1734 there was regular coach travel between the two. Earlier in 1706 there was a regular coach from Easingwold to York, a matter of 14 miles distant. With this ease of travel and growth in the local economy it is highly likely that at least one of Jonathan’s older sisters, Jane, Ann or Frances, would have sought work to improve the family’s income; being in service as a maid to a merchant in York would have been a real opportunity. Jonathan and his two older brothers, John and William, however, would have supported his father’s endeavours on the land as agricultural labourers.

Local historian Valerie Taylor of Easingwold
Local historian Valerie Taylor of Easingwold

Since researching The Hardys of Easingwold I have received much assistance from the voluntary run Easingwold Tourist Information website –, and particularly their local historian, Valerie Taylor, who freely undertook to extract and transcribe the Hardys listed in the Easingwold Parish records. This valuable list is shown as an addendum to this chapter. Pictured at the Easingwold National School of 1862; carved in the portal with the date is the Victorian sentiment – ‘Learn or Leave’.

Jonathan Hardy, William’s son, married Mary around 1728, in a nearby parish and one which I have yet to identify. They had five children; their first born, Jonathan Hardy was baptised on 15 June 1730 but, alas, was buried on 8 November 1731; Frances Hardy was baptised on 17 January 1732; a second Jonathan was baptised on 13 October 1735; Moses was baptised on 12 Jan 1738; and finally Elizabeth was baptised 13 November 1750.

There is definitely a pattern of longevity of the Hardy males in our ancestry. Ultimately that will demand a study in its own right. William, Jonathan’s father, was born around 1665 and was buried on 24 August 1758, aged 93 years; his wife Frances predeceased him by 30 years. Jonathan Hardy died on 4 December 1796 aged 91 years and his surviving son, Jonathan Hardy, died on 24 March 1809, aged 75 years at Farlington. These are enormous ages for working class people of this era.

A working chart entitled Hardys of Easingwold Family Tree accompanies this chapter and endeavours to plot the Hardys currently identified. Yes indeed, more research is required to develop this chapter further but the time is right to publish in the hope of attracting other family historians with ancestral links.

Addendum – Easingwold Parish Register Entries (Book I – 1599 – 1812) Hardy family – Index chronological – Page No. + Entries typed exactly as seen on the page.

13 Willm Hardie and Dorithie Jhonson maried November the xviijth 1610 [j=i]

18 Robt Hardie and Joane Boye marryed November xijth 1615

19 John the sonne of Robt Hardie buryed Auguste xvijth 1616

20 Marye the daughter of Robt Hardie baptized Septr xxjth 1617

22 Susanna the daughter of Robt Hardie baptized March xxviijth 1619

24 Dorithye ye d of Robert Hardy bur February 10 1620

25 Thomas Thompson & Helen Hardie maryed 5 Aug 1621

27 Willm the sonne of Willm Hardie baptized 31 Aug 1623

28 Willm the sonne of Willm Hardie buryed 14 Aprill (sic) 1624

32 Barbarye the daughter of Wm Hardy buryed 25 Novemb 1627

43 Johan the wife of Robte Hardye was buried 12 May 1639

47 Willm Ellis and Mary Hardy weer (sic) married 30 Nov 1642

52 Robert Hardy an old man was buried Octob 28 1647

56 Willm Hardie a very old man buried 28 Mar 1651

58 Dorothy Hardy and old woman buried Jan 10 1659

78 Robert Cundall et Anna Hardie nupt 29 Oct 1678

93 Jane the daughter of William Hardye was bapt Sep 24 1695

94 John the son of William Hardye bap Jan 3 1696

96 Anne the daughter of Will Hardye bap Septemb 3 1698

98 William the son of William Hardye bap Octob 15 1700

101 Frances the daught of Will Hardye bap Decemb 21 1703

104 Jonathan son of Will Hardye baptiz’d Decemb 17 1705

106 Mary d of Wm Hardye was bap Apr 17 1708

107 Elizabeth daught of Wm Hardye bap Mar 11 1709

123 Mary Hardy buryed Apr ye 16th 1723

129 Mary Hardy buryed April the first day 1728

130 Frances wife of Wm Hardy buryed 8r [October] 24 1728

133 Jonathan son of Jonath Hardy bap June the 15th 1730

134 Jonathan son of Jonath Hardy bury’d Nov 8th 1731

136 Frances dr of Jonath Hardy bap Jan 17 1732

139 Jonath s of Jonath Hardy bap 8r [October] 13 1735

142 Moses s of Jonath Hardy bap’d 12 Jan 1738

154 John Hardy batchelor & Ann Best spinr both of ys parish marri’d 17 Feb 1747/8

155 William Craike batchelor & Elizth Hardy spinr both of this parish married by Licence Oct 5 1748

155 Richard Dixon widr & Elizth Hardy spinr both of this parish married 15 Nov 1748

155 William Hardy batchelor & Hannah Horner sp both of ye par mar 27 Nov 1748

155 Wm son of Jno Hardy laboured bap 20 Decr 1748

157 Eliz th dr of Jno Hardy labourr bap 13 Nov 1750

159 Hannah dr of Wm Hardy blacksmith bap 23 Dec 1751

161 William son of Will Hardy blacksmith buried 28 July 1753

161 John s of John Hardy labourr bap 4 sept 1753

162 William son of Will Hardy blacksmith bap 5 Nov 1754

165 Mary Hardy wd 84 buri’d 9 Septr 1757

166 William Hardy labourer 93 buri’d 24 Aug 1758

173 William Atkinson batchelor and Frances Hardy spinster by John Armitstead [curate] Sept 29 1760 Witns W Webster John Lumley

196 John Atkinson batch and Jane Barker spinster mar 4 Feb 1794 W[tns] Thomas Hardy Wm Burril

211 Moses [s of] William Atkinson of E s of John Atkinson of Oslinthorp by Mary his wife [& of] Frances d of Jonathan Hardy of E by Mary his wife [b] 8 Feb [bp] 8 Mar 1778

234 John [s of] Joseph Spray of Bollsover Darbyshire carpr s of Jos S of B carpr & of Hannah d of Wm Hardy of E blacksmith [b] 13 [bp] 19 July 1792

244 Eliz [dr of] Jonathan Hardy of E labr s of Jonat Hardy of Farlington labr & of Sarah d of John Bentley near Helmsley fmr [b] 1 [bp] 5 Sept 1801

258 Mary Hardy Easingwold daughr of John Watson of Sheriff Hutton butcher [d] 22nd day of April [bur] 23rd day of April 1780 89

269 Jonathan Hardy of E s of Wm H of E labr [d] 4 [bur] 5 Dec 1796 91

269 Jonathan Hardy E s of Wm H of E labr [d] 4 [bur] 5 Dec 1796    91

270 Ann Crake E d of Wm Hardy of E labr [d] 10 [bur] 12 Jan 1798   87

270 Eliz Dixon E d of Edwd Hardy of Oulston wheelwt [d] 24 [bur] 25 June 1798 80

270 Hannah Hardy E d of John Horner of Craike taylor [d] 8 [bur] 10 Apr 1798 76

Book II 1813-1837

48 Sarah Hardy bur 8 Nov 1815 46

48 Elizabeth Hardy bur 22 Apr 1816 14

53 William Hardy bur 28 Feb 1822 90

Raskelf section

118 Samuel Hardy of pa Coxwould & Elleanar Burnet otp [of this parish] mar by publication [banns] 22 Mar 1736

Useful references

¹ Parish Registration and the Study of Labour Mobility – Keith D.M. Snell –

² Family Reconstitution, a process of compiling family includes detailed demographic information about such matters as age at marriage, fertility, expectation of life, etc., a technique developed in England by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. The standard work on the subject is E. A. Wrigley, R. S. Davies, J. E. Oeppen and R. S. Schofield, “English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837” (1997).

³Enclosure or inclosure was the process used to end some traditional rights, such as mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock on land which was owned by another person, or a group of people. In agriculture the years between 1760 and 1820 saw wholesale enclosure in which, in village after village, common rights are lost. Enclosure was a plain case of class robbery and completely destroyed the medieval peasants’ farming methods and communities.