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Can anyone throw any more light on the origins of the place name Thorpe Thewles which was originally located in south-east County Durham (now Cleveland/Teesside).
In c.1166 AD the village was just known as “Torp” but some time after 1200 AD it acquired the suffix Thewles. In several official maps as recent as the 1840s the village was still being referred to simply as “Thorp” without the addition of the suffix “Thewles”.
The village name obviously contains the Old Norse place name element “Thorp” or “Torp”. This term is usually applied to signify the location of an outlying farmstead. Locally the secondary element “Thewles” (derived from an Old English word meaning wanton, dissolute or immoral) is believed to have been applied to denote an "immoral" farm or place. However, I am not so sure about this and wander if the manor of Thorpe wasn't just given to a family by the name of Thewles or Thewlis. After all this is a common surname in both the North-East plus parts of Yorkshire and Scotland.
I have a considerable interest in genealogy and the history of my famil's surname "Thewlis". I maintain a data base of Thewlis realated family histories plus contacts with other families who share our surname all over the world.
According to Dr. George Redmonds (an noted historian and academic from Huddersfield) two brothers, Adam and Richard Theules landed in Yorkshire (possibly Hull?) circa 1245 to take up lands sequestrated to them by a forebear of theirs, who may have had military connections with William the Conquerer who's rampaging armies "laid waste" to what is now Yorkshire, County Durham and most of Northumbria. This land was "waste" in Doomesday and was of little value for at least 200 years thereafter.
So, when Richard and Adam arrived in the area there was little for them except to toss a coin so to speak as to who got what. Richard headed North into what is now County Durham and added the Theules to the village of Thope he discovered in a broken down state.
Adam stayed in what is now Yorkshire in a settlement which was there before "Oddresfeld" (Huddersfield). This was Lindley or is now known as Old Lindley as it the other side of the M62 and closer to Greetland than where (New) Lindley is today. There are still a lot of families with the surname Thewlis or Thewles in this area.
Thanks for your reply. Do you have Dr. Redmond's history you mentioned in electronic form on a CD you could send me? When did he write his history and does he quote his sources/references at all?
I, like you, believe our village of Thorpe was a manor which took its name from a connection to a Thewles family. Many in the north-east prefer the alternative explanation that in our village's case the application of the term Thewles was to signify an immoral farmstead. I understand that in Middle English "Thewles" means "immoral".
We have at least three other Thorpe hamlet names within a mile or so of Thorpe Thewles. Each of these has a different suffix or prefix name term applied to them, e.g. fulthorpe, Thorpe Leazes and Thorpe Larches.
The earliest reference I have for our village name is Thorp or Torp in 1166. Sometime after 1200 I believe we get the first mention of the "Thewles" as one "Robert son of William Lord of Thorpethewles (sic)" granted lands (in the parish of Grindon -in which, Thorpe Thewles lies) to the monks of Finchale Prior, outside Durham.
The Thorpe Thewles History Group is having its second annual local history day and exhibition plus a local history book launch on Saturday 26th May 2007 and I dare say we could mount a section of the display on the origins of the village name together with other nearby hamlets in Grindon Parish.
Hello again Mark
As far as I know Dr. George Redmonds' research is beyond reproach. He is a well known and noted Yorkshire historian with a particular bias towards (Sur)name history. He used to write a Piece for the Huddersfield Daily Examiner explaining where names had originated. This was our first contact with him but later we discovered that he works (worked) for Huddersfield University as a history lecturer and that everyone who had ever come across him thought he was brilliant, a very studious person with an eye for the minute detail. He also taught WEA evening classes and did after-dinner speaking. He'd even lectured the Society of Genealogists in London according to James Stockdale, one of it's stalwart members. He is a past transcribe of the Wakefield Manorial Rolls, working alongside William Paley Bailon etc. The WMRs, which go back to 1274, contain much history, so I would certainly trust Dr. Redmonds' credentials. I'm quite sure he also quotes his sources wherever possible as he's written several books on Huddersfield local history.
The information about the Thewles in Thorpe you mentioned in your last posting might have solved another issue which goes a bit like this - Adam Theules who settled in Old Lindley had 2 sons (we know of) John & William.
John married an Alice (of unknown maiden name) and their only (known) child was also named William born about 1300 and was apparently dead before 1379. What dates are associated with the Robert son of William of Thorpe Thewles? The reason I ask is that we know little of what happened to this William. It may be that this William moved up to Thorpe Thewles on the death of his uncle Richard and that the Robert you know about is William's son? All pure conjecture at present but if the dates are right it might be a scenario we could work on and expand?
I don't subscribe to the "official" version of the meaning of the name Thewlis, i.e. “immoral”. I think this was dreamed up by an omastician by the name of P. H. Reany back in the mid 1960's, but I can't for the life of me recall the book he published his theory in. In my opinion he's obviously confused "immoral" which means "without morals" [OED] with "weak" or maybe "spineless" neither of which could ever be mixed metaphored with "Immoral". Thewlis according to Dr. Redmonds may be of nickname origin as the Old English word for muscles is "Thews". Adding "less", "les" or "lis" means that the person with the attributes may be "muscle-less" or "weak", or even "weak -willed", but not Immoral in any sense of the translation. This term Reany says is ME and I'd like to know where the borderlines of OE end and ME begin. It seems to me he's just grabbing at straws or inventing meanings to suit his own ideas. Problem is he's been published so everyone looks in his book and says; "Ahhh - so that's what it means!". I don't think and have never done so that there is anything remotely "Immoral" about the name Thewlis - In fact I'm VERY proud to belong to an exclusive club with less than 4000 worldwide membership...!
I have about 7500 names and about 2800 marriages in my database. We have cousins in the following places: Dallas Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennesee, West Virginia, Florida, California, Toronto Canada, Vervey Switzerland, Tokyo Japan, Australia, New Zealand and more in the UK than you could shake sticks at. There are some surprising links too, like our relationship with Harold Wilson (Ex Labour PM), a recusant priest HDQ in 1616, a Lord mayor of Manchester who opened the Victoria baths (winner of BBC TVs "Restoration") and more Yorkshire cricketers than you could shake wickets at! These are just a few of the more interesting ones, but there were many over time indicted for various "crimes" in the past such as debtors, suffragettes etc. etc.
Hope the above is of use to you. I will send you a copy of Dr. Redmonds’ work on the name “Thewlis” on CD for you to have a good look at.
not sure if this is any help
Thorpe Thewles (Teesside)
The element Thorpe in English place names is of Danish origin and means farm. Thorpes were of secondary importance to place names ending in by which were Danish villages to which thorpes often belonged. In the Teesside area there are a number of by names south of the Tees, like Thornaby but there are few on the north side of the river, which lay outside the old Viking kingdom of York. Thorpes can be found in what used to be the northern part of Cleveland county however and include Middlethorpe, Thorpe Larches and Thorpe Thewles. Thewles is an old word of medieval origin meaning immoral, thus Thorpe Thewles was an immoral farm, but what kind of immoral activity took place here we do not know. See also Graythorp.