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Origin and Meaning of the name Cheetham

The name CHEETHAM is a geographical description made up of the Old English word, ham meaning a homestead and cheet, a Celtic word meaning a wood.


The Cheethams I am researching were a very large, extended family who were Boatmen and women on the  Leeds & Liverpool Canal for generations. The Cheetham name appears repeatedly in my family.

Aims of my Research

The aim of my research is to find the connections between the three sets of Cheethams in my family and try to link them to the Cheetham ancestors of the writer Robert Cheetham Houghton which he lists in his books "Liverpool Waif" and "Burscough Boatmen, their boats & their marriages"

See Bibliography

If you have any information or questions about this surname

please contact me.

Adrian Philip Pearson

My Research Results

Thomas Cheetham

First of all, my maternal grandmother, Gladys and her sister Lilian Bentham married two canal boatman who were best friends, my grandfather Thomas Rudduck and Thomas Cheetham. Tommy had a brother called John Richard and a sister called Alice.

Richard Cheetham (1879-1955)

Tommy’s parents were Richard Cheetham and Margaret Webster (1883-1955) of Burscough. Richard was from a very large canal boat family – all brothers:

Henry b. 1862
Edward b. 1864
Robert b. 1872
James b. 1876
John b. 1878
Thomas b. 1884

James Cheetham (1840-1901)

They lived on the canal bank in Halsall and their parents were James Cheetham and Cecily Johnson b. 1843.

Henry Cheetham (b. 1806)

James was born in 1840 in Lydiate and on the 1841 census we find:

Canal side cottage, Lydiate
Henry Cheetham, aged 35, boatman
Elizabeth 40 , wife
Margaret 15
Richard 15
Thomas 13
Mary 9
John 6
Henry junior 4
James 1

Cheetham Family Group Sheets - Group 1

Click above to view my Cheetham Family Group Sheets - Group 1

Elizabeth Cheetham

Secondly, my great grandfather’s brother Peter Ruddock (b. 1875) married Elizabeth Cheetham in 1897. They lived on the Canal bank at Wigan Pier.

On the 1881 Census, the 6-year-old Peter is living with his grandmother, Elizabeth Cheetham at Lydiate (see below), meanwhilealso in Lydiate is a 4-year-old Elizabeth Cheetham, who seems to be the obvious candidate for his future wife:

Census Place: Lydiate, Lancashire, England
Source: FHL Film 1341896 PRO Ref RG11 Dwelling: Canal Boat "Snowdon" Nr Jackson Bridge
Piece 3744 Folio 141 Page 23
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Henry CHEETHAM M 34 M Lathom, Lancashire, England
Rel: Head
Occ: Canal Boatman
Catherine CHEETHAM M 34 F Newburgh, Lancashire
Rel: Wife
Nancy CHEETHAM 14 F Newburgh, Lancashire
Rel: Daur
Elizabeth CHEETHAM 4 F Upholland, Lancashire
Rel: Daughter
Margaret CHEETHAM 2 F Upholland, Lancashire
Rel: Daughter

Henry Cheetham married Catherine Carrington in 1866

Carrington links us to the Cheethams again on the 1881 census below, as Peter Ruddock's grandfather, Thomas Cheetham is on a boat with Elizabeth and her son Edward Carrington

Cheetham Family Group Sheets - Group 2

Click above to view my Cheetham Family Group Sheets - Group 2

Margaret Cheetham d. 1881

Thirdly, Thomas & Peter Ruddock’s mother was also a Cheetham. My great, great grandfather Thomas Ruddock married a Margaret Cheetham in 1870. She died, possibly giving birth to her daughter Margaret Ruddock in 1881. On the 1881 census the Ruddock children are living on the canal bank at Lydiate with their grandmother, Elizabeth Cheetham (neé ???) b. in Lathom in 1806.

Dwelling: Canal Bank
Census Place: Lydiate, Lancashire, England
Source: FHL Film 1341896 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 3744 Folio 133 Page 8
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Elizabeth CHEETHAM M 75 F Lathom, Lancashire, England
Rel: Wife (Head)
Occ: Boatmans Wife
Elizabeth BAYBUTT 12 F Burscough, Lancashire, England
Rel: Grandaughter
Occ: Scholar
Catherine BAYBUTT 7 F Upholland, Lancashire, England
Rel: Grandaughter
Occ: Scholar
Peter RUDDOCK 6 M Upholland, Lancashire, England
Rel: Grandson
Occ: Scholar
Thos. RUDDOCK 3 M Upholland, Lancashire, England
Rel: Grandson
Margaret RUDDOCK 4 m F Lydiate, Lancashire, England
Rel: Grandaughter

Thomas Cheetham b. 1809-1812

I believe Margaret's father is Thomas Cheetham. On the 1881 census we find him on his boat also with a Baybutt girl:

Census: Liverpool, Lancs.
Thomas Cheetham M 72 Master of Flat Halsall, Lancs
Elizabeth Carringtion M 38 Sutton, Lancs
Susannah Baybutt U 14 Burscough, Lancs
Edward Carrington U 3 Wigan, Lancs

And in 1851, this seems to be the family:

Thomas Cheetham aged 39 born at Halsall
Elizabeth Cheetham aged 42 born at Lathom
Edward Cheetham aged 16 born at Lathom
Ellen Cheetham aged 14 born at Lathom
Thomas Cheetham aged 9 born at Lathom
Elizabeth Cheetham aged 3 born at Lathom
Margaret Cheetham aged 8 months born at Lathom

I have a marriage for Elizabeth Cheetham to Fairhurst Baybutt in 1863

Cheetham Family Group Sheets - Group 3

Click above to view my Cheetham Family Group Sheets - Group 3

Robert Cheetham Houghton's Family Group Sheets

Click above to view Robert Cheetahm Houghton's Family Group Sheets

Cheetham Links

Cheetham Surname Noticeboard at Genforum

Cheetham Surname Noticeboard at

Chris Cheetham's Family History Pages

If you have or know of any other websites dedicated to the Cheetham Surname, please let me know so that I can include a link on this page.

Cheetham Researchers

Contact me if you would like me to add your details to the list of Cheetham researchers below:

Researcher Given names (if known), Geographical Area & Dates
Joy Salt 

Benjamin Simpson b. Abt. 1771 in Rochdale, Lancashire, England
married Mary Cheetham b. Abt. 1780
Mary is a very recently discovered GGG Grandmother I am now tracking and I must assume she is from Rochdale as she married there aged around 16. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

John Burrows  

I seek information on ALICE CHEETHAM b.1767 who was married to JOHN GARSIDE b.1768[Mottram-in-Longendale,Cheshire]
They married 5 Feb.1788 and had:
Betty b.1790, John b.1792, Ann b.1796, William b.1798, Matty b.1804, Sally b.1806, Joseph b.1809, Hannah b.1811
This family came from Newton,Mottram-in-Longendale
I seek information on Alice Cheetham's family. so far, I have been unable to find anything other than her birthdate.


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