Early UK families: Alstonefield and Narrowdale Farm

The earliest references to Titterton families are from the two North Staffordshire villages of Alstonfield and Cauldon. This is in the 1530s.  However as there are more families in Alstonfield than in Cauldon it is believed that the Cauldon family must have come from ALSTONFIELD.

The origin of the Titterton surname is almost certainly from a person or small group of people called de Tydrinton who were living in Alstonfield at the start of the 1400s. (See Origins page for fuller explanation.) The earliest reference is to William de Tydrinton who was taken to court for committing a trespass in 1397. So the earliest known member of the family was a criminal!

The next references come from the parish registers of Alstonfield and wills. Both groups of records start from the 1530s. These records show that by 1540 there were several Titterton families in Alstonfield. There are four wills in the 1530s, for a Richard, a Henry and two Edwards. From the parish registers there are eight adult males fathering families in the 1540s and 1550s.  Only one family can be traced on for several generations in the parish. Other families must have either failed or moved away.  These ‘emigrants’ may well provide the parents or grandparents of the families that appeared for a short time in Cambridge and Bedfordshire in the 1600s.

The main family can be traced for about 200 years. This is the family which starts with Edward de Tetyryngton who died in 1533 and ends with his great- great- great- great- great grandson Daniel who was cast into prison for debt in 1736. The family lived on a farmstead called Narrowdale which is on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire County boundary.  It must have been quite a significant establishment.  It is shown on the early county maps of Staffordshire and Derbyshire and must have been a hamlet at least.

Edward’s will of 1533 makes interesting reading as it was made before the reformation and he leaves small bequests to chapels in the area. Edward was one of four brothers and cousins in the next generation were involved in a legal dispute.  The sons of two brothers tried to take the share of the inheritance of the son of a third brother from the estate of the fourth brother who died childless.  So it is alleged (find out more here). This is a pedigree of the early generations and the four brothers.

The Narrowdale Tittertons went to court twice again about various matters. There had been an arranged marriage which resulted in a court case. It started with the death of a Thomas Titterton, who had an only daughter Dorothy who was under age. The court case was between her maternal uncles (called Redfern) and a George Titterton (a member of the Narrowdale family). It seems that Dorothy was an heiress of sorts and the Redferns had plans for her marriage. George Titterton wanted to keep the inheritance in the Titterton family and married Dorothy off to his son Henry who was also under age. It seems there was little the Redferns could do.
Click on this link to open up pedigree showing these two branches.

The other case involved a William Titterton who found himself in a ‘David Copperfield/Mr Murdstone’ position. William (uncle of Daniel above) was born in 1642 and was the eldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth. Thomas died in 1657 and his widow married a Mr John Bagshaw. William was married, at the age of 17 to his step-father’s daughter Ellen. This would seem to be another arranged marriage. William’s mother was also an heiress of her grandfather, George Palfreyman. William later took legal action to try and recover his parents’ inheritance from his combined step-father/father-in-law. He was joined in the case by his siblings, Henry Titterton, Daniel Titterton, Ralph Woodward, and his wife Ellen (nee Titterton).

Click on this link for the pedigree showing the end of line and Bagshaw dispute.

Daniel was last of the line who held property in Narrowdale. This property would seem to have been of some importance as the Tittertons of Narrowdale held one sixth of one third of the manor of Alstonfield. One explanation for this division could be that the first Tydrington came to Alstonfield through marrying the heiress of one sixth of one third. Daniel’s heir in the female line (through a sister) would seem to be a Titterton Rudyard. There was also a Titterton Mycock. Neither gained from such unusual Christian names. Indeed Titterton Mycock had a rather unfortunate end to his life. The following is a report from History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851

“About one and a half miles N of Wetton, is the hamlet of Ecton, above which rises Ecton Hill, where there is a copper mine, which was first wrought in the 17th century ……. Near it, in a lofty and precipitous cliff which rises above the Manyfold, is the stupendous cave called ‘Thor’s House Cavern’, over the summit of which a poor man, Titterton Mycock, fell in a state of inebriation in 1825, and was dashed to pieces on the rocks below.”

Narrowdale farm is still there today. A public footpath which approaches it from the north is in fact a hollow way and passes some ruined farm buildings.  Unfortunately it still has not been possible to prove that there are Tittertons living today who are descended in the male line from the Tittertons of Narrowdale.