Elizabeth Greenwood header

This blog is a technical discussion and general moan about some of the travails of putting together a family history. It isn’t even my Greenwood family. So if you find it boring do skip to the next blog which is the story of this Elizabeth Greenwood of Coxwold.

There comes a stage when researching a family tree that one hits a wall. Its like the “Wall” when marathon running, you just run out of oxygen. You are stuck, there is a complete gap in information to use in finding out about your long lost family. It usually happens when you run out of census information, probably 1851, but you can get some reverse momentum to 1841 and then 1837 when civic records started.

Beyond that you are relying on the details held in Parish Registers, which is often sketchy at best.  For example, in my own family tree we have a few William Greenwoods, pinning down the right one in the registers means potentially looking through the 861 William Greenwoods born in Yorkshire between 1830 and 1837, most of them in the area around Heptonstall.

A few years ago when tracing my direct ancestral line of Greenwoods, I could not find any ancestors beyond my great (x3) grandfather Thomas Greenwood of Welburn in North Yorkshire. So I set about looking around the neighbouring villages; trawling through the Parish Registers; searching wills; contacting local historians and wandering through Churchyards. Nothing worked.

However, I did find other Greenwood families in the area, particularly around Coxwold, Husthwaite and Stillington. The Coxwold family looked promising as they were mobile across the villages in the area. Then I  found a will from an Elizabeth Greenwood of Coxwold, dated as proved 11th March 1836. In it she lists a large number of her family and where they came from. This could have been a breakthrough linking the few Greenwoods in Ryedale, North Yorkshire to the much larger number of Greenwoods in West Yorkshire.

Elizabeth Will Details

Elizabeth Greenwood of Coxwold was a spinster who had an extended family in Coxwold and villages around Leeds. From the registry entry shown above, it is not clear why this will was lodged in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Placing the will in Canterbury Court rather than York would only apply if property was outside the Archbishop of  Yorks area. I not sure what property Elizabeth would have that this would apply to, more research is needed. I did go down a wasted journey to find out about Stowell Quires, referred to above. Apparently the section of  register of Wills is named after the clerk who complied it, so it is clerk Quires writing we can see.

Elizabeths executor was her nephew,  Richard Greenwood a Tallow Chandler living in Pickering. Then she mentions her sisters,  Margaret and Ellen.  Margaret  was already dead, but Ellen had married into the Barker family in Coxwold.

Then there were other nephews and nieces, Catherine Butler, the wife of John Butler, Sarah Wood, wife of Isaac Wood of Harewood, Edward and Ellen Greenwood of Horsforth, and William Greenwood son of late nephew George. Here was plenty to go on, particularity showing she had at least one brother, probably coming from Horsforth, which was then a village outside Leeds. But it was all to no avail, after some frustrating research, I could not establish any connection to my family living just 10 miles further east.

Rather than waste the research into Elizabeth Greenwood of Coxwold, I have compiled the part of her story I have.  This is in the next blog;