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My Genealogy Home Page

Updated May 31, 2006

jackie Nicholson

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Olivants in the Forest

For the past two years I have been researching my maternal line in Cumbria, formerly known as Cumberland. I knew very little about this side of my family, so to have found anything would have been good. Little did I know just what was in the Records Office in Carlisle just waiting to be found. There appeared to be a group of Olivants who had settled early in Inglewood Forest. Who were they, where had they come from, were these my ancestors? Here are some of the answers.

The Forest of Inglewood today covers an area between Penrith and Carlisle along the valley of the River Petteril. It has been owned by the Dukes of Devonshire since the mid 1700's. The present Lord of the forest lives in the Manor of Hutton in the Forest and is an MEP. Anciently Inglewood covered a large area of Cumberland, from the River Eden in the east bordering on the Barony of Gilsland and the River Wampool in the west. From Carlisle in the north to Penrith in the south.

The history of the forest goes back a long way, pre Roman caves and tunnels have been found underground. The Roman fort was called Brocavum, now known as Brougham. The fort and stables were supplied from the forest.

It was a Royal Forest under King David I of Scotland, being used as his hunting grounds in the 1100's. Many of David's and following Kings numerous hunting tallys are to be found in the Exchequer Rolls of the period. As a Royal Forest there was strict control of who lived there, you were granted land by the King who ruled by the Lord's of the various manors and his Sherrif.

The forest or Swainmote court was held on the feast of St Barnabus, June the 11th each year, by the stone and the ancient thorn tree which is on the road north to Carlisle. At such courts a jury would be chosen from the land owners, cases would be heard, lands passed between father and son, rents paid and improvements to the land would be agreed on.

One of the major sources of information on the Olivants is a collection of wills dating from 1566 to the 1800's. These were a real treasure trove, as they pre dated the parish records of Hesket in the Forest and other parishes which begin in the 1700's. Thomas Olivant who left a will in 1566 in Lazonby was one of two or three Olivant brothers living in Cumberland by 1540. His wife was Jane and his children were Robert, Rachel, Elizabeth, Hugo, Thomas, William, John and Janet, born from 1543 onwards.

Thomas was a yeoman and he and his descendants initially lived on two farms, Coathill and Theveside in Lazonby parish, which is a large village within the boundaries of Inglewood forest. His family were yeomen and fellmongers. Many of them later became Master Carpenters and Joiners, and there are Olivants who are carpenters in the area to this day.

In the nearby parish of Dalston lived Alexander Olivant, who may be Thomas brother. The two families both married people from both parishes having links throughout the years.

Some of Thomas grandchildren settled at Troughead, one of several farmsteads which have a long history. They were part of the Manor of Morton and today they are part of Broadfield Estate which is still owned by the descendents of this branch of Olivants.

The first mention I found of these farmsteads is in the Calender of Patent Rolls of Edward III.

“March 30 1358 committed to Robert de Tilliol herbage of Morton and Morton Sceugh in Inglewood for 12 years on petition and granted him said herbage for life”

“February 8 1361 the ancient farm of Wollaykes grant for 30 years by Ralph de Neville to William de Stapleton and his heirs”

“1466 Morton Woolakes and Itonfield passed to Richard Kirkbride and his heirs.”

“1490 Walter Kirkbride loses the same lands to the Skelton family as Walter had murdered his neighbour.”

Unfortunately the documents in the record office change to a less specific type at just the point I need them to find out when

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