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Christopher THRELKELD

Male Abt 1660 - Bef 1712  (~ 52 years)

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  • Name Christopher THRELKELD 
    Born Abt 1660  Cumberland, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Will 10 Feb 1708  Northumberland County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died Bef 16 Jan 1712  Northumberland County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Probate 16 Jan 1712 

    • (1)


      The sir name [sic] of Threlkeld is thought to be originaly from Sweden and is toponymic, derived from the place where a man once lived or held land. Threlkeld is believed to come from the Old Scandinavian "thraell kelda" which means "serf's spring" or "peasant's spring". There is also a village of Threlkeld in the Lake District of England which was settled in the 10th and 11th centuries by Scandinavian Vikings.



      The history of Threlkeld goes back for at least 800 years, though very little is known of its earliest days. The name is Norse, and it means "the spring (or well) of the thrall(s?)." Thrall is a Feudal term for a man bound in service to his Lord. The word "keld" is by no means uncommon in place-names in this part of England, for people naturally settled close to a supply of water. Old spellings of Threlkeld are Trellekell (1197-Pipe Rolls), Threlekelde (1247) and Threlcot (Speed Map of 1610). It cannot now be determined to whom the serf or serfs who originally gave the name to Threlkeld were in thrall, but no doubt the settlement was made close to water flowing down from Blencathra with the purpose of taming the land to see what it could produce for the benefit of the thrall's master. The taming of the land had started many centuries earlier but it still must have been an extremely arduous task because of the physical problems with which the thralls would have had to grapple.

      Before human interference began in Neolithic times about 3500 B.C. the hills would have been densely wooded to a height of at least 2000 ft., and the valley would have been an almost impenetrable swamp. The physical features assumed their present form with the decay of the last glaciers some 10,000 years ago. The ice gouged out the steep and rough hollows on the hills and deposited the gouged-out material as till on the valley floor. This till was left as a thick sheet when the ice finally melted and no doubt there was, at least intermittently, a lake stretching eastwards from the narrow defile through which the River Greta now flows down towards Keswick. After the ice melted and the climate became warmer, plants could return, mosses and lichens at first, then arctic flowering plants arid grasses, followed, as the climate warmed up still further, by pines and birch, and later oak, with alder and willow swamp along the valley bottom. This was the kind of situation with which the first inhabitants had to cope. It would be most interesting if one could get a glimpse of what the neighbourhood of Threlkeld looked like in those days. But one thing is certain, and that is that there would be no distant views, for the dense growth of trees would mean that everywhere one's view was restricted except on the summits of the Fells. The open landscape of today is completely unnatural, and is the result of man's interference by cutting down the trees for wood and charcoal, as well as in order to clear the ground, and then by ensuring that the trees do not regenerate by pasturing the now open hills with sheep. The result may be more attractive and beautiful--certainly much more varied--than the thickly wooded landscapes which the first settlers at Threlkeld found, but it is not natural. If all grazing were now to stop and trampling by walkers reduced to a minimum, scrub of hazel and hawthorn would creep up the hillsides and be followed by taller trees, for woodland is still clearly the vegetational climax in the present climatic conditions.

      There had been a previous settlement which has left no name, but only the remains of rough buildings and walls, on a fairly flat shelf of ground above the present quarry. This settlement probably occupied ground already largely cleared of trees by previous settlers' pasturage. It presumably involved a further amount of tree-felling, and is provisionally dated in the Dark Ages, perhaps roughly from 300 - 900 A.D., but it may well have been occupied before Roman Times. Why and when it was finally abandoned is not known. Perhaps the arrival of the Norse thralls frightened the former Celtic settlers away. In any case, though for many hundreds of years the hills had been considerably denuded of trees, the much more intractable valley swamps and woods were probably still untamed. The present village is dominated by Blencathra, popularly known as Saddleback. This name is something of a problem. The first element, blen, is Welsh for top or summit. It occurs widely in these parts, as well as in Wales, with some variations in spelling. (Blencow, for instance, is probably Blaen = "too" and Haugr = "hill"; Blencogo seems to be Blaen = "top," "Cog" = "Cuckoo" and Haugr = "hill"). But the second element, cathra, is very uncertain. It has been suggested that the personal name Arthur is concealed here; but no Arthur is known to have had any connection with these parts. Perhaps a more likely suggestion links cathra with the Welsh catheir, a seat or chair. "Chair-top" would then refer to the same physical feature as "Saddleback." But this is conjecture. Another interesting name is that of the river which flows along the valley. Before it is joined by St. John's Beck and becomes the Greta, it is called the Glenderamackin. Here again it is the last element which presents the difficulty, for Glen-der-a means "valley of the water of the river." (See Ekwall: Dictionary of English Place-Names). Mackin is uncertain, as is Terra at the end of Glenderaterra, the beck which flows down to the Greta at the western boundary of the present parish between Blencathra and Lonscale Fell. The Tithe Map of 1838 gives Glendera Maugham instead of Glenderamackin. But it looks very much as if this is an attempt to give a known shape to a word the meaning of which had been long since forgotten.

      By the year 1220 A.D. Threlkeld was a sufficiently large settlement to have a priest, for there is a Manuscript in the British Museum attested by Walter, Bishop of Carlisle, and Bartholomew, Prior of Carlisle, on which Randulf, Priest of Threlkeld, was a witness. There must have surely been a Church here even then, however small and primitive its structure, in which Randulf could lead the worship. The oldest locally surviving document so-far known relating to Threlkeld itself dates from the same time or perhaps a few years earlier and certainly before 1234 when Adam of Derwentwater was dead. It concerns the gift of some land. "Gift by Thomas, the Clerk, son of Simon of Threlekelde, to Adam, son of Peter of Craistoc (now Greystoke) for his homage and service of one toft which Roild, brother of William of Threlkelde held within the bounds described in a charter of G. the grantor's brother, and one croft with two bovates of land in the same territory with one messuage and croft of one acre of land which belonged to Arnald and two acres of land in the Strends within the territory of the same vill of Threlkeld which he had given by the charter to John of Derwentwater and also three wandales in the Strends as is contained in a charter of his brother G. and also in a charter of the same John of Derwentwater who in turn had held by Thomas' gift. Witnesses: Thomas, son of Ran (ulph) of Daker, William of Jonesbi, Adam of Derwentwater, William of Threlekelde, R. the forester, Adam of Hotun, G. of Talentir, William the clerk."

      Threlkeld was obviously until quite recent times a very isolated and largely agricultural settlement. But, with the existence of lead mines the last of which was closed soon after 1910, and the opening of the Granite Quarry just before the turn of the century, Threlkeld became a semi- industrial village, and even though the Quarry now employs far fewer men than formerly because modern machinery has been installed the semi-industrial nature of the place still remains, with more and more men employed outside the village itself. In fact, at the present time Threlkeld is largely a dormitory for folk who work at Keswick, and a pleasant place to which many people have retired, and in which a considerable number of people from away have bought holiday houses.

      Blencathra Hospital, at about l,000 ft. up on the hillside, was opened in 1904 for sufferers from tuberculosis. The money was raised by subscription, and many organizations and individuals made gifts. It was nearly the first sanatorium to open in England, but was just beaten by Meathop in Westmorland. Even as recently as 1904 the first resident doctor, Dr. Goodchild, received only ??150 a year. It was largely owing to his devotion and vision that the Hospital became a place of mental and spiritual renewal from which many returned to their homes with fresh optimism and zest for life, even if they were by no means in every case finally cured of the disease. For many had to return not just once more, but often several times. Naturally, because of the high risk of infection, there was little contact between the Hospital and the village, but more recently, when drugs had replaced the open-air, sunshine and good food type of treatment, the risk of infection was greatly reduced, and Blencathra Hospital became a source of employment for people who lived in the village and went to work there day by day instead of having to live there in seclusion. As tuberculosis was mastered by the new treatment the Hospital was gradually given over to the care of geriatric patients, and latter there was no resident doctor. For the last few years before its closure on March 12th, 1975, it was entirely a home for geriatrics. It is hoped that eventually the buildings will be used for outdoor pursuits and courses for young people, especially for those who come from the larger towns and cities, for it is ideally situated for that purpose. This hope looks as if it will be realized, for early in 1976 the Cake District Planning Board took over the buildings with a view to adapting them for holiday and recreational purposes.

      Additional Note-

      Mr. B. C. Jones has kindly supplied a glossary of the terms used in the ancient document quoted above.

      Toft - means a homestead or a site for a homestead and its buildings.

      Croft - as in toft the croft means a piece of arable ground, usually enclosed and attached to the homestead.

      Bovate - is strictly as much land as one ox could reasonably be expected to till annually. In Cumberland this was probably about 8 acres and would represent an average peasant arable holding.

      Messuage - is really the same as toft except that it is more likely to mean the dwelling house. The context would be important here.

      Wandale - a single division or share in the large open arable field belonging to a township.



      A maritime and border county of England, having the counties of Dumfries and Roxburgh on the north, Northumberland and Durham on the east, Westmorland and Lancashire on the south, the Irish Sea on the west, and the Solway Firth on the NW.; length, NE. and SW., 75 miles; extreme breadth, E. and W., 45 miles; average breadth, 22 miles; coast line, about 75 miles; area, 970,161 acres, population 250,647. The coast on the Solway is low and sandy, but on the Irish Sea it is lofty and rugged; chief promontory, St Bees Head. In the NW. the country is open and flat; it is watered by the Eden and other streams, and consists chiefly of verdant meadows and good arable land. From this plain the surface rises towards the east and south into a region with deep defiles or dales, which form the mountainous district of "The Lakes,". Coal and iron are extensively worked in the west, the coalfield stretching from the neighbourhood of Whitehaven to that of Maryport. Numerous blast furnaces are constantly at work. Plumbago or black lead is obtained in considerable quantities near Keswick. Slate, limestone, and sandstone are abundant. Copper, cobalt, antimony, manganese, and gypsum are also found. Owing to the general elevation of the land, and the moisture of the climate, the cultivation of the soil is less attended to than the rearing of sheep and cattle. The dairy produce is very considerable. Woollen manufactures are carried on to some extent at Carlisle and some other places The County comprises 5 wards, 208 parishes, the parliamentary and municipal borough of Carlisle (1 member), and the parliamentary borough of Whitehaven (1 member). It is mostly in the diocese of Carlisle. For parliamentary purposes it is divided into 4 divisions, viz., Northern or Eskdale, Mid or Penrith, Cockermouth, and Western or Egremont, 1 member for each division.

      From Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887.

      (4) Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Volume I, Northumbria Collectanea, 1645-1720, M-Z, p. 619:

      Threlkeld, Christopher, Will. Dated 10 Feb 1707/8. Prob 16 Jan 1711/12. Wife Mary. Sons Wm, Christopher, Henry, James. Dau Elizabeth. All children under age. 18.131.
    Person ID I233  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 25 Nov 2018 

    Family Mary (THRELKELD),   b. 1674,   d. 1737, Lancaster County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 63 years) 
    Married Bef 1696 
     1. William THRELKELD,   b. Abt 1696, Northumberland County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 7 Aug 1766, Brunswick Parish, King George County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 70 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 25 Nov 2018 10:18:54 
    Family ID F822  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart