Miles and Mary Goforth of Knedlington

The Goforth family appears in the records of Howden Parish as early as the 1500s.1 At first the family name could be written either Goforth or Gofar. At a time when few people were literate, this would have been at the choice of the rector.2 Howden is in the southwest corner of the East Riding of Yorkshire, close to the West Riding and northern Lincolnshire.3 Howden parish included a number of villages, and covered 20 square miles of flat land.4 Miles and Mary Goforth lived in Knedlington, an old town, named in the Domesday Book in Howden hundred.5 The nearby town of Howden was historically a market town, especially known for its horse market, and under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Durham.

Miles was baptized in March 1608, the son of George Goforth of Knedlington.6 He was one of six known children of George, three of whom died in infancy.7 The children were: Margaret, baptized 1600; Robert, baptized 1602; William, baptized 1605; John, baptized 1607; Miles, baptized 1608; George, baptized 1611.8

About 1630 Miles married a woman named Mary. 9 They had three known children, and possibly one or two more. In the baptismal records Miles is shown as a resident of Knedlington. In 1659 Mary died. Three years later Miles’ son William married Ann Skipwith in a Quaker ceremony in Elloughton; Miles was one of the witnesses to sign the marriage certificate.10 Although there is no record of Miles becoming a Quaker himself, he did not disinherit his son, and left land to William in his will. The will, written in July 1674, and proved in December of that year, did not name his wife. Miles left three pieces of land, none of them in Knedlington. The tracts in Sandholme and Hive were left to his daughter Elizabeth Halliwell and son-in-law Henry Nutbrowne to pay for Miles’ debts and funeral expenses, with the remainder to go to his grandchildren Alice and John Awdus and Miles, Marie, and Elizabeth Nutbrowne.11 Henry Nutbrowne was the husband of Miles’ deceased daughter Mary.12 The house and farm buildings in Gilberdike were to go to his son William, and after William’s death to the grandson Miles. Sandholme, Hive and Gilberdike were three hamlets close together, and about four miles east of Knedlington. Miles was buried on July 15, 1674.13

Children of Miles:14

William, bapt. Jan 1631 O.S.15, married Ann Skipwith in 7th month (September) 1662, buried in Burlington, NJ on 25th 1st month (March) 1678.16

Elizabeth, bapt. May 163417; married – Helliwell, possibly first married – Awdus.

Mary, bapt. Aug 163618; married Henry Nutbrowne in June 1663, had children Miles, Mary and Elizabeth before 1674

George, son of Miles, died June 1657.19 There is a burial record for him, but no birth record.

  1. The early parish registers of Howden, which includes the village of Knedlington, were published by the Yorkshire Parish Register Society in four volumes. George Redmonds, an authority on England surnames, stated that the Goforth surname was unusual, probably originated in Snaith, Yorkshire, and probably derived from Gofar. (George Redmonds, comments after his talk at the FGS Conference, Philadelphia 2008) I think he was wrong about Snaith; there are no early Goforth records there, but many in nearby Howden parish. The first volume, volume 21, included the earliest weddings. It is available on Google Books in combination with Vol. 19 and 20 as well as, Yorkshire, England, Church of England Parish Records 1538-1873, Yorkshire: Howden Parish Register, 1543-1659. The index to this volume is included in Vol. 32. The second volume published by the Register Society, volume 24, included the earliest burials plus marriages from 1659 to 1702. It is available on Google Books in combination with Vol. 25, and on, York:Howden 1543-1702. It does not have its own index. The third volume, volume 32, was a continuation of volume 24 and was paginated starting with page 281. It included baptisms and marriages from 1703, plus burials from 1659. It has a combined index for all three volumes (21, 24, and 32). The index referred to volume 21 as I, and volumes 24 and 32 as II. This volume is not viewable on Google Books, but is on, Yorkshire: Howden Parish Register, 1695-1725.   The fourth volume, volume 48, covered records from 1725 to 1770 and included its own index. It is available on, Yorkshire: Howden Parish Register, 1725-1770, but is only limited view on Google Books.
  2. See the index to the parish register, volume 32, on, image 121, where the Gofar and Goforth entries are adjoining. The index differentiates between Gofar and Goforth, yet many of the same personal names are found in both, for example, Agnes, Anthony, Edmund, Miles, as well as common names like George and William.
  3. Map of the parishes of the East Riding, on
  4. Publications of the Yorkshire Parish Register Society, vol. 21, p. vi.
  5. Open Domesday Book, online. Knedlington is place SE7328.
  6. Howden parish register, Vol. 21, p. 198. Also in George Tuttle Goforth, The Goforth Genealogy, 1981, which does not trace the family further back than George. There are earlier entries in the parish register for Gofar and Goforth, but it is difficult to place them because of the common names.
  7. This is assuming that all six of the children baptized between 1600 and 1611 were children of the same George. The parish registers did not give the name of the mother. Around the same time, other men named Goforth were having children baptized: Arthur of Metham, William of Balkholme, Frances of Skelton, all in the parish of Howden (Howden parish register, Vol. 21, p. 176.) The children who died young were Margaret, William and George. Besides Miles, the two others who may have survived were Robert and John.
  8. The dates in the parish register use Old Style dating, where the year began on March 25 (Lady Day). For example, the entries for winter 1610-1611 are ordered: December 1610, January 1610, February 1610, March 1610, March 1611, April 1611, where the March entries roll over to the new year on March 25. (Vol. 24, pp. 140-141) In the list here, the dates have been corrected to New Style, that is, the years for January through March have been increased by one.
  9. A record of their marriage has not been found. Mary wife of Miles “Gofarr” was buried 3 Jan 1659 (Old Style), according to the Howden parish register, Vol. 32, p. 283.
  10. Goforth Genealogy, taken from the records of Hull Monthly Meeting.
  11. With no mention of a husband for Elizabeth, she was presumably widowed by 1674. The names suggest that she first married a man named Awdus and had children with him, then married a man named Halliwell.
  12. They were married in June 1663. (Howden parish register, vol. 24, p. 253)
  13. Parish record of Howden, Vol. 32, p. 322.
  14. From his will and the baptismal records of Howden. It is possible that he had another daughter who married an Awdus and had children Alice and John, or else his daughter Elizabeth married twice.
  15. Howden parish register, Vol. 21, p. 254.
  16. Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records, Burlington MM, Marriages births deaths 1677-1765, image 4. The year was only partly legible. Hinshaw’s index to Quaker records gave the year as 1678.
  17. Howden parish register, Vol. 21, p. 259.
  18. Howden parish register, Vol. 21, p. 263.
  19. Howden parish register, Vol. 24, p. 124.

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