Search billions of records on

Main Page

Heathcote, Tomson, Raworth

Thomas Hethcote

Proposed Heathcote Lineage

Compiled by Judy Griffin, 2007 - email address

Thomas Heathcote (1)

This line originates in the 1400s. If the undocumented Richard as the father of Thomas is supported, the line would be seventeen generations for this compiler. The questionable links are the suppositions that the George Heathcote who married Elizabeth Blackwell is the son of George and Margaret Hethcote, that the Benjamin Heathcote who was born in 1666 was the son of William, and that George Raworth is the father of Benjamin Raworth, the Elder. The latter has no documentation, but the use of Heathcote as a middle name in the descendants of Benjamin, the Elder, and the names of his children strongly suggest that this is our lineage.

Unless indicated otherwise, all information in this document is from: Evelyn D. Heathcote, An account of some of the families bearing the name of Heathcote which have descended out of the county of Derby, Winchester, published in 1899. Research this far back is always questionable; however, the main source of the information is from an apparently well-researched book. I stumbled on the Heathcote information when I found one of my old notes suggesting that I check out an Evelyn D. Heathcote book. Fortunately, a scanned copy of his original book was found online. It is important to note that this family line is tentative and further research is needed. However, the evidence provided by Evelyn D. Heathcote, Rector of Lainston and Vicar of Sparsholt, County of Southampton, strongly supports our family connection to this line. His work appears well-researched.

By the end of the fifteenth century, the Hethcote or de Hethcote family in England had established itself in and around the town of Chesterfield in Derbyshire. A number of these Hethcotes conducted the trade of braziers (brass makers, metal workers) and bellfounders (bell makers), as well as becoming prominent in their community. Heathcote is a more modern form of the name, the letter a in the name is not sounded. Heathcote is said to be a locational surname from the Old English "cottage on the heath." Derbyshire is the chief source of the surname. (2)

Thomas Hethcote, and his wife Rose, are the earliest ancestor found for this line. Their children were Richard and Ralph. Thomas and Rose are mentioned in their son Richard’s will. Undocumented information gives additional information on Thomas and his father: Thomas Hethcote, born circa 1440, of Chesterton [sic], county Derby, married Rose, child Ralph Hethcote. Added to this entry was a post-it note stating that Thomas’ father was Richard Heathcote born circa 1410. (3) This family lived in Derbyshire during the time of Edward V and Richard III, whose reigns were at the close of the Medieval Age.

Richard Hethcote (son of Thomas) married, first, Isabel and, second, Alice. He was mentioned in a 1502 charter, where he is described as an Alderman, or Mayor of Chesterfield. In 1480, Richard gave forty marks to a Thomas Hampton of Leicester and James Hethcote, sen., to purchase one messuage, eight acres of land and nine acres of pasture, in Chesterfield, Tapton, and Newbold. A mark was equal to 13 shillings, 4 pence. In 1507, Richard also bought land at Buxton from a Thomas Twell and his wife. In 14 Henry VII [1498], Richard, a potter, granted land to his daughter Margery and her husband, Nicholas Skynn. In 2 Henry VII [1486], Richard was associated with a John Tomson in a trusteeship. This John Tomson was undoubtedly the brazier of Chesterfield, whose daughter, Ellen, married Richard’s brother Ralph. In his will, dated January 15, 1518, Richard, a brazier, mentions that his brother, Ralph, was a bellfounder. He also mentioned his nephew, Sir Richard Hethcote and his servant Margery Hethcote. He left money for yearly obits to the Buxton Chapel and Town House Chapel in the Peak (north Derbyshire), for his soul, the souls of his wives, Isabella and Alice, the souls of his parents, Thomas and Rose, and the souls of his daughters, Margaret Skynn and Johanna Roderham. Buxton is directly west of Chesterfield.

Ralph Hethcote

Ralph (Ralf) Hethcote (son of Thomas) married Ellen Tomson, the daughter of the John Tomson who wrote a will in 1496 and was married to an Elyn (surname unknown). Ralph was a brazier and bellfounder in Chesterfield and was probably born in Charlesworth. He was Alderman of Chesterfield and a considerable tradesman there. There is a letter from a Joseph Hunter to Dr. Ralph Heathcote, descendant of Ralph, that states: “I lately discovered the name of Ralph Hethcote, the bellfounder, at the head of a list of gentlemen of Scarsdale who advanced loan money to the king, early in the reign of Henry VIII (reign 1509-1547). The sum advanced by him was 53s. 4d., few other persons in the whole Hundred advancing more than his four marks . . . So it is clear that he was one of the more substantial people of the county.” Ralph and Ellen had ten children: John, William, Thomas, George, Rowland, Ralph, Christian, Johan, Anne and Margot. His will was dated 1502 with the inventory in 1525, when he probably died. In his will, John is only mentioned as executor, but the rest are mentioned in the order named above. His sons were apparently young, for he makes the provision that “if any of my sonnes wyll be a priest, I wyll that he be sent to the schole till he be able, and then his part of the land to be divided among the other.” Ralph willed his workshop and tools to his son William, a house and land at Tapton in Chesterfield to Thomas, two shops and land in Chesterfield to Rowland, and “Broadmeadow House Close and ground that butts on the water of Rodder” to his namesake Ralph. There was a release from Ralph, the bellfounder, to his son George, of houses and lands in Chesterfield and Tapton in 1524.

This is probably the above Ralph or the Ralph who was the son of George, the bellfounder: a Royal grant of Chesterfield property to a George Howard, knight et al., which once were given by Ralph Hethcote, recently of Chesterfield, bell-founder, to William Wolley of Riber who gave them to maintain a chantry priest in chapel of ‘Challesworth’, parish Glossop, 1560. (4) A chantry is an endowment for priests to sing masses for the person’s soul. Ralph is also mentioned in a record related to his bellfounder business found in the Derby Record Office: Bond in £10 by Ralph Heathcote of Chesterfield, bell founder, and Thomas Bett, his servant, to John Gell of Hopton, yeoman, and John Fierne of Workesworth, mercer, that a third bell provided by Hethcote for Wirksworth Church is of good tone and in tune with the other bells. 25 Aug, 2 Henry VIII, 1510. (5) He had to guarantee the tone of the bell he supplied and, probably more difficult, make sure it was in tune with the existing bells.

It helps to know something about the wages, profits and costs in early England. In about 1600 a field laborer earned 8d. a day, or 3d. if his master provided his food and drink. A four pound loaf of bread cost about 1½ d. In the mid 1500s, sheep brought a profit of 3l. 12s. per hundred. A tot (28 lb.) of wool in the early 1500s brought 8s. A four pound loaf of sugar cost 4d. and a chicken cost 1d. in 1515, but 3d. in 1603. The laborer who earned 8d. a day in 1600, would have spent more than one-third of his daily earnings to feed his family chicken for supper. £ or l., s., d. was divided into pounds, shillings and pence (or LSD as it is sometimes referred to).

George Heathcote

George Heathcote (son of Ralph), who married Margaret (surname unknown) was a bellfounder. They had nine children: two unnamed daughters, Ralph, George, John, Alysse, Mary, Thomas and William. In his will, dated August 4, 1558, he states, “I give and bequeath to Raffe Hethcott my sonne and Heyre all my lands and also I bequethe to the same Raffe my soone all my molds and Towles, all Brass and Bell metell and all other things in my workshowse apperteyning to my Occupation for and in recompence of a certain summe of moneye which I the said George doe owe unto him.” Though there is no additional information on the financial status of George or his son Ralph, George’s will indicates that he owed his son Ralph money, perhaps wages. George was probably Alderman of Chesterfield in 1545. A founder’s mark was attributed to him, nearly all the marks assigned to the Heathcotes bear the fylfot cross, now known as a swastika, as a prominent part of their design. George left his dwelling house at Saltergate-head to his wife Margaret. Saltergate was a street in Chesterfield (see history of Chesterfield below). When he died, Ralph and the two unnamed daughters were married. His sons and daughters, George, John, Thomas, William, Alice and Mary were unmarried.

At least two of the bells probably cast by George are still used, although they were recast in 1954 for the Church of the Holy Trinity in Ashford-in-the-Water, Derbyshire. (6) Parts of this church date back to the 13th century. There are seven bells in the tower, the fourth, fifth and tenor bells were recast as noted above. The oldest of these, the fourth bell, was undated, but it bore the founder’s mark of George Heathcote of Chesterfield, who died in 1558. The same mark and inscription is found on the tenor bell but this is dated 1612, so it is not certain whether both were hung in 1612 or the undated fourth bell was hung first. The tenor bell is the bell that the hammer of the church clock now strikes each hour.

George Heathcote

George Heathcote (son of George) was a draper in Chesterfield, as appears in a 1567 release of a messuage in Saltergate from “George Heathcote of Chesterfield, Draper, the Ralph Heathcote of ye same place, Brazier, his brother.” A draper was a dealer in cloth or clothing and dry goods. It was his brother Ralph who carried on the bellfounder trade, the third bellfounder in this line. George was unmarried in 1858, but he is thought to have married Elisabeth Blackwell at Chesterfield on August 2, 1562. Elisabeth died on January 29, 1601/2. Their four children were Mary, Anne, George and John. George married, second, Bennetta Wakefield on July 21, 1605. Little is known of the children of George and Elisabeth, except a lineage (direct line in bold):

Support for the connection of George Heathcote, the son of George the draper, to this Heathcote family comes from the will of Francis Hethcote (see first lineage). This Francis, who married Jane Renshaw, left a bequest to “George Heathcote’s wife, my aunt.” He could be referring to Bennetta Wakefield, the second wife of George. John Hethcote, son of George, names this same person his “mother-in-law,” which, according the time, meant his step-mother – “my mother-in-law, Benet Heathcote.”

This hearth tax entry for a Benjamin Heathcoat, may be the Benjamin who was baptized in 1641/2 (in bold, above): At Chesterfield, 1670, Benjamin Heathcoat and Mr. Thomas Radford were taxed on seven hearths (fireplaces). (7) This would have been a large dwelling.

A Benjamin Heathcote of Chesterfield, yeoman, surrendered an acre of land in Renishawe on May 31, 1694. (8)


1. Evelyn D. Heathcote, An account of some of the families bearing the name of Heathcote which have descended out of the county of Derby, Winchester, England: Warren and Son, 1899. All information in this document is from this source, unless otherwise indicated.

2. Paul Vivash, “Re: Surname- Heathcote,” email to email list, July 1, 2000.

3. Ronald Fortuna, Beckman & Maurice Families, May 16, 2001. Online at, accessed January 2004. Post-it note: Lesley Mason, October 9, 2002.

4. The Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock, Volume 6667 ff.144-211, 6667 f.170,, accessed January 2004. “copy of royal grant of Chesterfield property (details given) to George HOWARD knight et al. which once were given by Ralph HETHCOTE recently of Chesterfield bell-founder to William WOLLEY of Riber who gave them to maintain a chantry priest in chapel of ‘Challesworth’, parish Glossop [1560] (uc/chlsl)”

5. George Dawson, “Additions to Church Bells of Derbyshire, Wirksworth,” Derbyshire Record Office, ref: D258/16/10. Addition to George Dawson & Patricia A. M. Halls, Church Bells of Derbyshire. Addition online at, accessed January 2004.

6. Church of the Holy Trinity in Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire. Derbyshire UK, Derbyshire on the Internet,, accessed January 2004.

7. "Derbyshire Hearth Tax Assessments 1662-70", Derbyshire Record Society, Vol 7, 1982, pp. 136-137. Sonia Addis-Smith, “Re: [DBY] HEATHCOTE in Hearth Tax,” email to, March 25, 2000.

8. Frank Taylor, Hand-list of the Bagshawe muniments deposited in the John Rylands Library Manchester: The Librarian, The John Rylands Library :, 1955, p. 54. HeritageQuest, accessed January 2004. 13/3/325. Surrender by Benjamin Heathcote of Chesterfeild [sic], yeoman, of an acre of land in Renishawe. 31 May 1694. (Extract from proceedings at the Court Baron of Eckington.)