Early Warburtons




      Strictly speaking the "Warburtons" commenced with those members of the main Dutton family who adopted this style. At the moment, the records on this fact are uncertain, but at least it can be stated that it occurs for the first time in the family deeds (1314) of Sir Geoffrey Warburton, Sheriff of Lancashire.

      Odard or Udard de Dutton came to England with his four brothers at the time of the Norman invasion. It is said that he was the son of Vicomte de Constin, in Normandy, and half brother of Nigel, the first Baron of Halton. Following the conquest, Nigel settled at Dutton and in 1086 was seneschal of the township of Acton, a portion of Weston and one third of the township of Dutton.

      It was from Odard that the houses of Warburton, Cheadle and Ashley originated. Adam de Dutton, from whom sprang the Warburton family, was the second son of Hugh de Dutton and great grandson of Odard. Adam married (c.1170) Agnes, daughter and co-heir of Rodger Fitz Alured and his wife Lecline. He was made seneschal of Blackburnshire at Clitheroe Castle in 1178 and was present at the confirmation of Norton Priory, and a witness to the charter establishing the first ferry over the river at Runcorn in 1190. He died c.1211.

      Geoffrey, the eldest of Adam's two sons (John died 1190), succeeded to the estates and distinguished himself as a soldier. In company with his superior, Lord John Lacy, of Halton, he joined the Crusades under Richard of Cornwall and played an active part in the rescue of Jerusalem from the Saracens in 1244. It is said that he severed the head of the Saracen leader and, proud of his achievement, adopted the gory emblem for his Crest.

      His son Geoffrey, succeeded him in 1248 and settled in Warburton. The fact that he is referred to in several documents as Lord de Warburton (or Werberton) indicates that he very probably resided there and was the builder of Warburton Park.

      Sir Geoffrey was succeeded by his grandson Sir Peter de Dutton, who assumed the name Werberton. According to John Warburton, Somerset Herald, "Sir Peter de Dutton knt., being possessed of the town and Lordship of Warburton (most pleasantly situated on the bank of the river Mersey) he made it his chief house and thence wrote himself de Warburton, which name hath ever since been retained by his successors", vide London and Middlesex Illustrated, 1749.

      His son Sir Geoffrey de Werberton entered the estates in 1314 and was afterwards appointed vice-chancellor of Lancashire. His grandson, also Sir Geoffrey de Werberton served under the Black Prince in the French and Spanish campaigns. He evidently made a favourable impression on his royal master for he was commissioned to serve him in peace and in war with two esquires. For this service, he was awarded an annual payment of 40 to provide for his men and horse and shipping overseas. (Note: On 12th November, 1202, Richard de Werberton received 6d. per day as a retainer to serve the king as an archer of the Crown).

      In contrast to the loyal devotion of the older Werbertons, the 1403 rebellion found Sir Geoffrey's grandson Sir Peter, fighting on the side of the Earl of Northumberland at the battle of Shrewsbury.

      Following the collapse, however, Sir Peter received the Royal Pardon and absolved his action by fighting under the Prince of Wales (Henry V) in his French Campaign and at Agincourt. On 16th February, 1408, the king granted him an annuity of 8 marks. He is referred to in the grant as "my beloved squire Sir Peter de Werberton".

      In 1448 his grandson, Sir Peter succeeded the estate and a year later built Arley Hall, which then became the family seat.

      Hereafter the descendants, Sir John, c.1495, Sir Piers, c.1524 and Sir John, c.1550, buried at Budworth, are styled "Warburton and Arley" and, therefore, with those that follow them, leave our pages.

      Although Warburton, Cheshire - and later Arley, near Northwich, were the principal seats of the Warburton family, the heraldic reference books name also Whitbeck, Cumberland, Mitford, in Suffolk, and Rowles (sic)Nottinghamshire, besides which there seems to have been armigerous Warburtons settled in unspecified towns of Lancashire, Cheshire, Shropshire and Ireland. These were undoubtedly offshoots from the main tree, but not close enough to claim title or privilege. For example, the Warburtons of Ireland originated from John who migrated there in 1645. Richard, his son, became Clerk to the House of Commons in Ireland, 1661. As a result of an official enquiry the pedigree of this Irish branch was deleted from Burkes with due apologies and only reinstated in 1931 after much negotiation.

      It is tempting to consider some of the reasons for leaving Warburton Manor for Arley, but this must be left for the day when all sources of information have been correlated and the full and cross-checked history of this main tree's growth can be known, in all its exciting detail.

      However, the famous Rent Roll compiled at Arley by the last mentioned Sir John concerns those junior Warburtons now occupying his lands in Warburton and administered, no doubt, by Drinkwater, the bailiff, to whom reference has been made.

      The Cadet branches of Warburton left behind at Warburton itself, were catalogued by Sir John at Arley on his Rent Roll, the heading of which is as follows: "Rent Roll of Sir John Warburton kt., of Arley Co.Chester, 24th June 1572, of all his lands in the Counties of Chester and Lancaster".

      The Roll is 30 feet in length, neatly written on twelve-inch-wide skins of parchment stitched together, within a two-inch-wide running border of conventional leaf ornament and is headed by an illuminated achievement of Arms and descriptive title in Latin. This contains the "Rental of Sir John Warburton kt., for the feast of St. John Baptist and all his manors, lands, tenements, messuages, townships and other rents in the Counties of Chester and Lancaster made and renewed the tenth day of July in the fourteenth year of the reign of our lady Elizabeth by the Grace of God Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith etc., etc."

      The earliest Warburtons noted as tenants were Robert, Thomas and Haymon or Hamon whose names were endorsed with twenty-one others on this Inspeximus of the Charter of St. John of Jerusalem, 11th March, 1520. These twenty-four persons were probably occupiers in the St. John of Jerusalem moiety only and not of the entire township of Warburton, and it is therefore likely that additional Warburtons may have existed in the other moiety.

      During the 300 years from 1220 until 1520 the male descendants of younger sons, legitimate and otherwise, recorded and unrecorded, settled mainly in North Cheshire and North Lancashire, although one family is known to have settled in Flintshire as early as 1408.

      A few founded families of minor gentry, long since extinct in their senior lines, whilst the remainder became tenant farmers, life holders or artisan and labour tenants at will.

      In the first category were the Warburtons of Halton in Runcorn, Agden (ancient) in Bowden, Newcroft in Flixton, Over Tabley in Rostherne, Partington in Bowden, Nether Walton in Runcorn, Flint, Consylt, Cornist, Holywell and Bagilt in Flintshire, Tottington and Haslingden, Lancashire, and later of Little Clegg in Butterworth, Stubbins, Bank and Walshall in Bury (from whom descended the Somerset Herald, John Warburton) and in all probability Garryhinch and Aughrim in Ireland.

      From their younger sons descended many yeoman families in Cheshire, Lancashire, the West Riding in Yorkshire and Leicestershire. There may also have been families derived from Peter Warburton of Bromfield in Grappenhall (Born c.1455), before wedlock to Piers Warburton (of Arley) and Ellen Savage, and also his (Peter's) younger brothers Thomas, Richard and John who were legatees in the will of their father Sir Geoffrey (1448).

      Thomas is described by Holme the Herald as of Halton and states that Richard (who was Proctor at Cambridge, 1457) died without issue. John is mentioned in the 1510-11 settlement of the estates and is recorded in the 1613 visitations as father of an illegitimate son named Thomas of Northwich, father of Sir Peter Warburton of Grafton kt., and justice of the Common Pleas.

      Sir Peter (c.1545-1621) was thus second cousin of Sir Piers who died in 1550, but contemporary with the latter's grandson Peter of Arley, 1545-1627.

      Another possible progenitor of the later Warburtons was Thomas de Werberton, servant of Sir Geoffrey, 1408-1448, who left him in his will the choice of two oxen and two cows or 33s 4d. Similarly, Thomas and John Warburton, who were left 40s each in the will of Sir John (1565) over a century later, doubtless held responsible positions.

      Another possible connection was Peter Worberton, yeoman, who in 1555 (Harpers Deeds) was bound with Edward Harper of Northwood, yeoman, and George Bowden, gent., to George Sandes.

      The six successive barons of Dunham Massey bore the Christian name of Hamon, which many progenitors adopted. Whilst it is true that Hamon, Hamnet or Hamlet was common to many families in North Cheshire and South Lancashire, it is very probable that the late 16th century Warburton families of Poulton, Thelwall, Carrington and Eccles were collaterals of the Warburtons of Partington, for the name appears frequently in their records. It is, however, singularly absent from Warburton and the various townships of Bowden, apart from one instance in Sinderland and is also relatively rare further South. This does not suggest common descent with those families. Nevertheless, the Warburtons of Warburton and of Flixton may have derived from Partington, which was still in possession of 4/18ths part of the Manor of Partington (and the deeds relating thereto) towards the end of the 17th century. It was acquired by their ancestor William, son of Peter de Werberton in 1319-20, and also a small property in Bollington which was settled upon William by his father. It may be noted that his mother in this document is called Hawise de Heffield.

      The remainder of the Partington estate was bequeathed to William's sisters Cecilia and Alice. From this it is regarded that Hawise was probably the second wife of the first Sir Peter de Dutton alias de Warburton, and that William was half brother of Geoffrey, Peter, Hugh and Adam.

      So far, no record of this long descent has come to light, but the evidences are not in doubt and probably preserved in the Palatinate Rolls.

      Three generations later, Hamo de Warburton occurs in the Recognisance Rolls of 1436 and 1442. Four generations later, Hamon Werberton of Partington, gentleman, appears. He was juror in 1517 and a tenant in Warburton in 1520 of land adjoining his own. His son William, outlawed in 1565, is reputed to have married Alice, daughter of Richard Warburton, of Appleton, Rector of Warburton, and by marriage the family became closely related to the Warburtons of Arley.

      The next to follow was Hamon, jurer in 1580, and Hamnett, coroner for Cheshire, who compounded for knighthood in 1631, and was buried in the chancel of Warburton Church in 1651. These were probably cousins of a junior line who acquired one-twelfth of the manor.

      One of the most valuable sources of information is the parish rentals and the first complete and only one prior to 1646 is that for the year 1572. It contains the names of 24 leaseholders and 15 tenants at will in addition to six freeholders, four under Sir John Warburton of Arley and two (Booth and Massey) claiming to hold direct from the Crown.

      Warburton Park, Warburton Mill, and Moss Brow were at that time in all probability unenclosed.

      The rental is also valuable evidence in revealing the relative status of the tenants. Of the 1,747 acres involved, some 1,120 were tenanted. Sir John held the reversionary interest in lands settled upon his brother Peter, of Hefferston Grange, who held it for life only. All the tenants would owe service and share rights of common. About 1,082 acres were occupied by leaseholders or lifeholders, and 38 acres by tenants at will, small holders and cottages, which in the latter ranged from 6 acres downwards. The area of the leasehold varied from approximately 90 acres in occupation by Richard Drinkwater of the Bent to about 141/2 acres held by Robert Newall.

      Peter Warburton held in reversion approximately 49 acres, whilst his father, Peter senior, held 39 acres and Peter Warburton, gentleman, of Hefferston Grange, held 161/2 acres.

      Of the 24 farmers referred to above, only four farmed more than 56 acres, whilst the 15 tenants at will held little more than an average of 21/2 acres each.

      It is perhaps necessary to mention that tenants of a given surname in 1572 were not necessarily the sons or grandsons of tenants bearing the same name in 1520. There would be much movement of families in and out of the parish due to death, expiration of leases etc. In particular, it would be necessary for the sons and younger members to find work or farm elsewhere, and this consequence applies equally to families in adjoining parishes. Indeed, the absence of parochial and testamentary records makes it impossible to relate the 16th century members of the family in Warburton with each other, but it is reasonable to accept that the relationship existed. In support of this, it may be pointed out that, excluding the Park and Moss Brow farms (mentioned in a return of 1839) in hand in 1572, and considering the estimated additional acres then held, the number and size of the holdings of 141/2 acres and upwards remained much the same number and size, i.e. 24 terminary tenants in 1572 and 26 leasehold in possession in 1839


      The Rent Roll of 1572 compiled by Sir John Warburton* was, after a long search, eventually traced by Mr. Lawson to Arley Hall. It is some 10 yards in length and contained in an iron cylinder.

      Apart from a few leaves of parchment said to date from 1611 and a few entries made shortly before the Civil War, the Warburton Parish Registers only date from the Commonwealth period, and are either missing or incomplete for long periods in both the 17th and 18th centuries.

*Sir John and his brother-in-law Edward Fitton were knighted in 1553 following Queen Mary's Coronation, and during her short reign were entrusted with the command (through Lord Derby) of county forces under "The knight of Arley" to take part against any invasion from Scotland. After her death and accession of Elizabeth, Sir John with Sir Ralph Leycester, Philip Mainwaring and Thomas Holford were appointed as mise collectors in Bucklow Hundred, to support forces sent to Scotland to assist the "reformers" and repel invasion from France. He was buried in the Warburton Chapel at Great Budworth in 1575, here his effigy reposes today, although mutilated by the "Roundheads".