RICHARD, SON OF RICHARD LITTLER
With the help of a recent correspondent I have been able to place one of my stray Richard Littler’s. Richard, son of Richard Littler of Mickle Trafford, was baptised 29 November 1801 at Plemonstall St Peter. Richard, Sr. married Sarah Dean, 29 December 1800, at Thornton-le-Moors St Mary and of their nine children, only their eldest child Richard was baptised at St Peter’s. All the others, excepting son William, were baptised at Thornton-le-Moors St Mary, where Richard shows his abode as Dunham; a small hamlet some three miles to the east of Mickle Trafford. Both Richard and his son Richard were tailors by profession.
Richard Littler, Jr. married Ann Weaver on 04 February 1822 at Thornton-le-Moors St Mary and continued living in Dunham-on-the-Hill until about 1828, when this young family moved over to Manley. Their burials appear in the registers for Ashton St John.
EDMUND LITTLER REVISITED
In my April 2016 ‘Forum’ piece I discussed the numerous Edmund LITTLERs appearing in the Greater London records and the oftentimes difficulty of matching them correctly to their spouses. I also suggested in the article that an Edmund, son of Samuel and Hannah (MOORS) LITTLER, baptised at Witton St Helen, Cheshire on 05 Sep 1791, had possibly moved south to Waltham Abbey and subsequently married Mary Ann ROGERS on 08 Jun 1812.
This suggestion has been thrown into doubt by information that recently came to my attention. It now appears that Mary Ann ROGERS married Edmund LITTLER, son of William and Elizabeth (THOMPSON) LITTLER. Edmund was born at Waltham Abbey on 15 December 1790 and baptised there on 24 February 1796. This information was passed on to me by a correspondent who had inherited a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, in which three generations of his Littler family were noted. This handwritten pedigree begins with the births and subsequent marriage of Edmund LITTLER and Mary Ann ROGERS. Records on FindMyPast confirm the birth and baptism dates of Edmund (although the former has been transcribed as a baptism) and in both cases Edmund’s parents are shown as William and Elizabeth LITTLER of Waltham Abbey.
A series of Ordnance Survey Maps (1877-1954) encompassing the Northwich/Weaverham area have recently come to my attention. They prove to be of great interest to our family as these maps highlight the evolution of Wallerscote over the years. Between 1877 and 1938 the fields and meadows of Wallerscote farm largely remain unchanged, although the latter map does show the old manor and most of the outbuildings have since been demolished. The biggest change actually occurs in the sixteen years between 1938 and 1954 where we now find embankments surrounding three of the four present-day waste lime reservoirs. These three reservoirs appear to have been in use by 1947. The 1954 map also shows a railway line entering from the Winnington sidings and encircling the two largest reservoirs, transporting waste lime from the adjacent soda ash works at Wallerscote and Winnington. Another branch line circles Wallerscote’s southern boundary, delivering spoil to a fourth reservoir to the west that was still under construction. This reservoir is believed to have been in use by 1965.
Previous research indicated that Wallerscote Manor had not been demolished but lay buried under tons of lime waste; the Ordnance Survey Maps, along with more recent data, tells of a different story.
SIR RALPH DANIEL MAKINSON LITTLER
Baptised Daniel Makinson LITTLER, Sir Ralph was born in the Chapel House, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, on 02 October 1835. His father, the Rev. Robert LITTLER, was a clergyman attached to the Independent Lady Huntingdon Chapel in that town. It appears the given name Ralph was added some years later, as Sir Ralph is noted as Daniel and Daniel M. respectively in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, while still living with his parents. Ten years later, in 1861, we now find Ralph noted as Ralph D. M. LITTLER, an unmarried 28-year-old, practising as a Barrister at Law in Liverpool and domiciled in the lodging house of John and Sarah REID. It was while practising on the Northern and North Eastern Circuit that Sir Ralph made his reputation as a Parliamentary lawyer, acting as leading counsel for railway companies. While busily employed in this capacity he found time to qualify himself as a civil engineer.
Sir Ralph’s distinguished career began with obtaining his B.A. from the University of London in 1854, before making his move north to the Midlands. He was back in London by 1871, as the census finds him living with his future wife in Riverbrook House, Tottenham. A year earlier Ralph had been admitted as a barrister in Middle Temple, at the Inns of Court, in Holborn. On 25 January 1873 Ralph LITTLER married the widowed Mary Anne (RYAN) WOODALL at St Martin-in-the-Field, the same year he became Queen’s Counsel. The couple appear to have had no children. Sir Ralph took a great interest in both public and philanthropic movements, being chairman of the Middlesex County Council from inception, chairman of the Alexandra Park Trustees, and a high official of the Middlesex Lodge of Freemasons. He was most generally known as Chairman of the Middlesex Quarter Sessions where he was labeled as a severe but kind judge—Sir Ralph did not believe in light sentences for habitual criminals. He was made Companion of the Bath in 1890 and Knighted at Buckingham Palace in 1902. Sir Ralph died at his home, 89 Oakwood Court, Kensington, on 23 November 1908 and is buried at Hampstead.
Sir Ralph’s father, the Rev. Robert LITTLER (1796-1870), was a cousin of another family member who also distinguished himself, Sir John Hunter LITTLER (1783-1856). Both can trace their pedigree back to my distant ancestor, William LITTLER (1656-1730) of Tarvin. Sir Ralph’s mother Sarah, on the other hand, is proving a little more difficult to pin down. According to one source she was the daughter of Daniel MAKINSON, cotton spinner and Borough Reeve of Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire (where Robert and Sarah married), while Burke’s Peerage tells us that Sarah was the daughter of Robert MAKINSON, Esq. of Bolton. The only baptism I can find that works reasonably well is “Sarah, daughter of Thomas and Ellen (JOLLEY) MAKINSON, bap. 09 December 1804 at Ecclestone St Mary the Virgin (near Chorley), Lancashire—some 18 miles from Bolton-le-Moors.
SIR RICHARD LITTLER, 1607-1669
We can thank George Ormerod for what little we know of Sir Richard: “Richard Littler, gent. living 1636, aged 6 years, 1613.” Ormerod continues with this overview of the Littler family by saying: “The descents in the following pedigree have been brought down to the time of the disposal of the estate, when according to a tradition, the family retired to Kingsley. This is supported by entries in the parish register of Frodsham; and from which it appears that some of the younger descendants remained in that parish for many generations possessing there a small estate.” Wallerscote was sold to Hugh Cholmondeley, 17 April 1636.
What Ormerod tells us is that Sir Richard was born in 1607, was alive when he put his hand to the deed of sale of Wallerscote (along with his father Ralph and brother William) and settled in Kingsley after the sale of the family home. The parish registers for Frodsham St Lawrence do show two relevant burials: “Mary Litler de Kingsley gent[lewoman], 09 September 1668” and “Richard Litler of Kingsley gent[leman], bur. 08 March 1668-69”. It is not known when Sir Richard and Mary married, nor if they had any children. What we do know is that a number of researchers, ignoring the above information, have endeavoured to link their pedigrees back to Sir Richard.
Referring once again to George Ormerod the following is a possible connection: “Robert lord Cholmondeley, of Kellis, son of Hugh Cholmondeley, esq. was possessed of this manor [Wallerscote], 1671, and it was then held under him by Ralph Litler as lessee.” Ralph is thought to be a son of Sir Richard by association with Wallerscote. The baptism register for Frodsham St Lawrence also shows a possibility: “Richard Litler fil Rich. gent. 14 Dec 1662”. The thought here is that Richard may possibly be the son of Sir Richard and the Richard being baptised a possible grandson.
Other’s have come up with less likely scenarios, as in the case made by an American researcher who put forward the idea that Sir Richard emigrated to the United States and subsequently appeared in a Virginia Land Patent, dated 10 March 1647. While the Richard Littler in question appears to be the first of our family to settle in the United States, nothing has been found to show where he came from or how he made his way over to that country.
Another pedigree tells us that Sir Richard married Margaret Cawley, 20 Oct 1648, at Tarvin St Andrew. The couple settled in Tarvin and the following year the first of their six children was born. In light of what we know from George Ormerod this is doubtful. The Richard Litler who did marry Margaret Cawley is more likely to be the “Richard, son of Mr. Richard Lytler of Mouldsworth” baptised at Tarvin St Andrew, 23 February 1622-23. Margaret, daughter of William Cawley of Kelsall, was also baptised at Tarvin St Andrew, on 04 May 1625, making their ages at time of marriage 25 and 23 respectively. Time and place make this a much more realistic scenario.
Once again the Commonwealth Gap proves a bane to our family, showing just how difficult it is to construct realistic pedigrees through the mid-1600s.
THE WALTHAM ABBEY QUESTION
Over the past few years I have corresponded with family members who trace their pedigree back to the Littlers of Waltham Abbey, back to the “patriarch” of this family, Thomas LITTLER. The one question that always crops up is: Where did Thomas hail from? Some say Thomas and his brother Edmund were born in Cheshire, sons of Ralph and Elizabeth LITTLER. As young men they moved south to settle in Hertfordshire, to the towns of Cheshunt and Broxbourne respectively. Others say that Thomas (but not Edmund) is the son of William and Elizabeth LITTLER of Tarvin, Cheshire and it was he who moved south to Cheshunt. I have yet to see evidence that either theory is correct. In the first, it appears researchers have tried to establish a link back to Wallerscote Manor, the seat of the Littlers close by Northwich. In the second, it appears the date of Thomas’ baptism (25 Oct 1691) has proved convenient, nothing more.
Although covered on my Website under Puzzles, it’s worth repeating again that documentation in the Tarvin and Tarporley parish registers strongly suggests that the Thomas LITTLER attributed as “patriarch” of the Waltham Abbey Littlers, actually married Eleanor WRENCH in Tarporley (13 Jan 1722). Thomas, a yeoman, and Eleanor his wife lived in Tarvin, brought up their children there, and upon their deaths both were buried at Tarvin St Andrew.
So the question remains. Where do Thomas and Edmund hail from? Are they actually brothers? Were they born in Hertfordshire and their baptisms are yet to be found? Or do they hail from Northwich? Certainly, Edmund is not a common name with our Cheshire family; I know of only one occasion of an Edmund being baptised in the county between 1550-1850 and that was in 1791 [see Forum, April 2016]. Interestingly, this Edmund moved from Northwich to Waltham Abbey as a young man and become a silk printer. Does this point to a family relationship between the Northwich Littlers and those of Waltham Abbey? There is still much to do in finding satisfactory answers to these questions.
I would like to reach out to anyone who has researched, or who is in the process of researching, their connection to the Waltham Abbey Littlers: What evidence have you found that sheds any light on the origin of Thomas LITTLER, attorney of Cheshunt and Edmund LITTLER, schoolteacher of Broxbourne. I would love to hear from you.
As part of my effort to get the Littler One-Name Study underway I have been delving into the Great Budworth parish records. Not only is Great Budworth one of the largest parishes in Cheshire, it also happens to adjoin both Weaverham parish and Wallerscote Manor—home of the early Littlers. Because of this close proximity, the Littler name figures large in both the Great Budworth parish records and those of the parochial chapel of Witton-cum-Twambrooks St Helen. Located in Northwich, and close by the River Weaver, many of our Littler families worshipped at Witton St Helen. The records here are quite excellent. Generally clear and easy to decipher, beginning in 1779 there appears another listing of inhabitants to compliment the Parish Registers and Bishop’s Transcripts. This list, detailing baptisms and burials, is of huge benefit to the present-day researcher as the detailed information given is quite superb. In the case of baptisms, columns spread across the double pages show: Child’s Name, Father’s Name, Place of Abode, Profession, his Father and Mother’s Names, their Place of Abode, [child’s] Mother’s Name, her Father and Mother’s Names, their Place of Abode, When Born, When Baptised. The Register of Burials includes: Person’s Names, Place of Abode, Profession, Father and Mother’s Name and Place of Abode, When Died, When Buried, Where Buried, What Disorder, What Age. A wealth of information allowing us to construct accurate family pedigrees. There are gaps where only half the image of the original record is available, roughly 1797 to 1812, but by widening out the search to include siblings of one’s ancestor, this is generally overcome. The marriage registers for Witton St Helen give information we’re all familiar with; names of the bride and groom, their status (bachelor, spinster, etc.) date of marriage, their parish, witnesses and oftentimes the groom’s occupation.
LITTLER FAMILIES IN NEW ZEALAND
My interest in our broader family emigrating to New Zealand during the 19th Century stems from the arrival in that country of my great-grandfather Samuel LITTLER, in 1860. He stayed only a couple of years before making his way to Australia where, in 1865, he married Ann WHITE. All ten of their children were born in northern New South Wales, although Samuel and Ann, along with their youngest living daughter, did settle in New Zealand at a later date, about 1905. Their son William, my grandfather, had arrived in New Zealand a little before his parents, married there in 1912 and brought up his family in Auckland.
It wasn’t until 1884 that the first reference appears in the civil records of a marriage taking place between Harry LITTLER and Christina CHAMBERS, the ceremony taking place in Dunedin. Baptised Henry in 1861, Harry was the son of William and Elizabeth (ADDINGTON) LITTLER, a couple who were involved in the silk printing industry at Merton (near Croydon) in Surrey. In fact William’s parents, Edmund and Mary Ann (MAYBANK) LITTLER, owned a sizable establishment at Merton Abbey, employing a workforce of some 130 souls. Harry, at the age of 20, arrived in Dunedin aboard the Aros Bay in January 1882 and a little over two years later, married Christina CHAMBERS. The couple continued to live in the lower South Island where their six children were born, although one did die before Harry himself succumbed to fever at age 34. His widow remarried and it appears the surviving children continued to live in New Zealand.
Our next arrivals landed in Wellington in January 1886. The passenger list of the brand new steamer Aorangi shows a Mrs M. and Miss S. A. LITTLER—Mary (BARNABY) LITTLER with her eldest child, Sarah Ann. In 1851 Mary had married William Joseph LITTLER in Lincolnshire. After the birth of Sarah Ann the family moved across the Humber to settle in Hornsea, Yorkshire, where a further seven children were born. A singularly unfortunate family, of their eight children two died at the age of 4, three died during their teenage years, and the two sons who had earlier emigrated to New Zealand were dead by their mid-20s. Mary’s husband, William, hailed from Lichfield, Staffordshire and had died in 1866, only months after the birth of their youngest child. After their arrival in New Zealand, mother and daughter settled in Palmerston North where, at the grand old age of 85, Mary died. She lived long enough to see her daughter married and the proud mother of two healthy children, both of whom survived and married.
It is difficult to know just when Arthur LITTLER arrived in New Zealand, it was some time between the 1881 census in England and his marriage to Asenath Louise MORRIN in 1890. Son of William and Hannah (HARRIS) LITTLER of Blakenall, Staffordshire, Arthur had served his apprenticeship as a bridle bitt maker, a trade many generations of his family before him had followed. He came to New Zealand as manager for an English firm of wholesale saddlers, a position he continued to hold until ill health forced early retirement—he died in 1922, at age 61. Long before this sad occasion Arthur’s brother (William Charles) and sister (Mary Ann) visited Auckland on board the Zealandia. Both chose to stay and settle in Auckland, although neither married. Arthur and Louise had three sons of whom only one married and had children and grandchildren of his own. This family has had a strong history of yacht racing in Auckland over the years and have been staunch members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
The final character rounding up this vignette is Alan Francis Henry LITTLER, who in 1900 married May GRIFFIN in New Zealand. Alan’s pedigree can be traced back to the Littlers of Waltham Abbey, Essex and the Littlers of Launceston, Tasmania. Alan was the son of Augustus East and Hannah Sarah (MURRAY) LITTLER of Launceston, while Alan’s father was the second son of Charles and Ann (SUMMERS) LITTLER, a young couple who had emigrated to Australia only weeks after their marriage in London. They arrived in Adelaide, South Australia on board the Henry Porcher in 1838. Here their eldest child was born before they removed to the northern coast of Tasmania. Charles, baptised 12 Jan 1806 at Waltham Abbey, was one of fifteen children born to William and Elizabeth (THOMPSON) LITTLER, he a calico printer.
There are a few others with the Littler name appearing in local newspapers during the 19th Century, but none appear to have settled in New Zealand for any length of time.
This article has since been updated—see Forum, October 2017.
In putting material together for the Littler One-name Study I have been delving into the Waltham Abbey Littlers and trying to make sense of the various Edmunds that move in and out of this pedigree. An Edmund LITTLER first appears in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire in 1704, and from this date on there are successive sons by the name of Edmund being born through to at least the mid-1800s—their baptisms taking place in the Greater London area. In an endeavour to confirm earlier research on our Waltham Abbey Littlers I have spent time in the resources now available online. In doing so I have discovered that an Edmund LITTLER, baptised in Cheshire, appears to have moved south to Waltham Abbey and become a silk printer—a trade followed by numerous members of our family. If this is indeed the case, then he has the potential to rewrite the known pedigree of the Waltham Abbey Littlers.
Edmund, the gentleman in question, was baptised at Witton St Helen, Cheshire on 05 Sep 1791, son of Samuel and Hannah (MOORS) LITTLER. After moving south, it appears Edmund married Mary Ann ROGERS on 08 Jun 1812 at Shoreditch St Leonard and soon settled in Waltham Abbey where their six children were born and baptised. The 1841 census tells us Edmund was a “silk printer” and that both he and Mary were “not born in the county”. In the three census he does appear in (1841-51-61) Edmond’s age ties in with his birth and baptism date of 1791. He died on 21 Sep 1861, a resident of Sawbridgeworth, Herts. (Please note: The Edmund LITTLER who married Mary Ann ROGERS was actually the son of William and Elizabeth (THOMPSON) LITTLER, see Forum, October 2017).
Edmund and Mary Ann naturally enough had a son Edmund (1823-1885) who appears in successive censuses as a: silk printer, pattern designer, stationer/printer, auctioneer, and land surveyor. In 1848 son Edmund married Mercy Anna PUGH and between them raised ten children, although one daughter did die at a young age. By 1871 the family had moved from Waltham Abbey to West Ham, Essex and it was here that Mercy Anna died. In 1881 we find the widowed Edmund still in West Ham, living with a number of his children in their home called Wallerscote. This is of interest, as the old manor was still standing near the River Weaver in Cheshire at this time, not two miles from Northwich, where Edmund’s father Edmund had been born and raised.
There is more to do on this pedigree but it does show the potential difficulty in following family lines back in time; especially when children baptised with the same given name and living in the same proximity appear in the records.
BLANCHE, PRINCE AND EMILE LITTLER
Recently I had cause to delve into the history of three highly acclaimed identities of the entertainment world—Blanche, Prince and Emile LITTLER. During the mid-20th Century all three were involved in theatre productions in London’s West End and throughout the Counties. The three made a highly respected name for themselves, with Prince being honoured as Commander of the British Empire in 1957 and his brother Emile awarded a knighthood in 1974. Not only producing plays to a very high standard, the three siblings also owned theatres in major cities throughout England.
Interestingly, Blanche, Prince and Emile are the offspring of Julius and Agnes May (PAISEY) RICHEUX, their births registered in the Thanet Registration District during the 1890s and into the early 1900s. Their father was the son of Jules and Julia (BURNS) RICHEUX, he a Professor of Languages. Julius himself was involved in the tobacco and cigar business before turning to the theatre during the early 1900s. Julius RICHEUX died in 1911 and in 1914 his widow married one Frank Rolison LITTLER, a theatrical producer. Upon their marriage Frank adopted the children and all five Richeux children took the Littler name as their own.
Frank R. LITTLER was born in Bloxwich, Staffordshire (1879), son of William and Sarah (ROLISON) LITTLER. His family can be traced back seven generations to Thomas and Alice LITTLER of Lichfield, Staffordshire, who appear to have married about 1680. From there the trail is lost as we enter the Commonwealth Era.
LITTLER ONE-NAME STUDY
Late last year I attended a weekend seminar hosted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society here in Boston. Paul Howes, chairman of the Guild of One-Name Studies, was in town promoting this field of genealogical research. Paul gave two well received lectures over the course of the seminar, outlining the goals of the Guild, emphasizing the collaborative aspect of a successful one-name study, and giving excellent advice on setting up a suitable Website. It proved to be an enjoyable weekend where I took the opportunity to join the Guild and register the Littler name as a one-name study. I felt that over the years of amassing so much information on the Littler clan now was the time to share my research and possibly help others involved in tracing their own Littler pedigrees.
My goal for the Littler one-name study is to be up and running with the Website over the next few weeks. Not all I have will be immediately available as it will take some time to put my research into some presentable form. Because so much of my own work has revolved around the 17th and 18th centuries this will be the timeframe first available. Eventually the plan is to add all Littler names up to and including the 1841 census. I welcome any input and help by others researching the Littler surname.
RICHARD LITTLER, ANOTHER CONUMDRUM
The men in our family named Richard LITTLER continue to tax our genealogical skills as the following example illustrates. The 1613 Visitation of Cheshire shows that Richard, son of Robert LITTLER of Wallerscote, married Anne, daughter of John BRESSY of Tiverton. As no date is given, we can assume a timeframe for their marriage by looking at the date of their eldest son’s marriage—Ralph LITTLER married Eleanor BRUEN, 09 November 1573 at Tarvin St Andrew. If we assume Ralph was age 25 at the time of marriage, his birth date would be about 1548 with his parents’ marriage likely in the range of 1535-45.
Our conundrum occurs in the parish registers for Wybunbury St Chad, where we find a marriage between Richard LITTLER and Anne BRESSY on 22 June 1561 some twelve years after the birth of “their” son Ralph. My research indicates that this Richard is not the son of Robert LITTLER of Wallerscote, but a different person altogether. I have arrived at this conclusion by the following three reasons; First, the relevant dates do not match, unless “their” son Ralph married Eleanor BRUEN at age 10 which is highly unlikely. Second, the 1613 Visitation states that Anne was the daughter of John BRESSY of Tiverton, a hamlet within the parish of Tarporley. The marriage of Richard LITTLER (of Wallerscote) to Anne BRESSY (of Tiverton) was likely to have taken place at Tarporley St Helen. The registers for St Helen begin in 1558, some years after the suggested dates of Richard and Anne’s marriage. And third, the parish registers for Wybunbury St Chad note children being baptised to both a Richard and Randle LITTLER during the 1560s. It appears that this Richard and his wife Anne continued to live within the parish and any connection to Wallerscote Manor was probably long gone. Also of interest in the registers for St Chad is that Anne LITTLER, widow, was buried on 14 October 1591—was she the relict of the Richard LITTLER in question?
ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS
Earlier this month, I communicated with a gentleman researching his Tarvin Littler ancestors who kindly passed on new information about the family of 49. Richard and Sarah (WALLEY) LITTLER (Beyond Wallerscote Manor, p. 81). It concerns the marriage of their son, also Richard (b. 1796) and should be noted that, in fact, he married the widow Ann WILLIAMS on 03 Feb 1817 at Chester St Mary-on-the-Hill; not Ann WEAVER in 1822 at Thornton-le-Moors St. Mary, as shown in the book.
After thoroughly investigating this new information and verifying it against earlier research, I believe this attribution to be correct. This correction to the marriage of Richard (b. 1796) to Ann WILLIAMS does not affect any other information contained in the book.
As an additional note however, there is another Richard LITTLER (b. 1801) who did indeed marry Ann WEAVER, on 04 Feb 1822 at Thornton-le-Moors St Mary. Coincidently, he was also the son of a Richard LITTLER who lived at Mickle Trafford. Son Richard was baptised at Plemonstall St Peter and as an adult pursued his trade as a tailor. After their marriage, this family resided at Dunham-on-the-Hill before making the move over to Manley. Even after their move they continued to have their children baptised at Thornton-le-Moors St Mary. After their deaths both Richard and Ann were buried in the churchyard of Ashton Hayes St John the Evangelist.
THAT ELUSIVE LINK TO WALLERSCOTE
There is little doubt that Wallerscote Manor was the family home of our Littler forebears, for there is much in the way of solid evidence that proves this. However, it is quite a different matter for the present generation of researchers to prove their link back to the old manor. For this we can blame the Commonwealth Era (1649-1660) for much of the problem. It was during this time of political unrest that many parish records, detailing baptisms, burials and marriages, went missing. The registers were often deliberately destroyed by the followers of Oliver Cromwell, put into safekeeping and never seen again, or if they were, very little had been recorded in them. The three places of worship for the Littler family of Wallerscote are a case in point: at Witton St Helen (Northwich) the registers become difficult to decipher and intermittent between 1640-1661. For Weaverham St Mary the registers are illegible in part, with many gaps between 1618-1678. While at Davenham St Wilfred the registers between 1625-1665 are lost. There is little doubt that if these registers were available to us today the link back to the last of our family living at Wallerscote would prove less of a challenge.
Another problem making life difficult for the present day researcher is the use of the given names, Richard and William, both common in our family during the early seventeenth century. The fact that parish registers rarely noted the mother’s name in the baptism register makes it very difficult to place “your” ancestor, e.g. “William, son of Richard Littler” to the correct Richard during these years.
LITTLERS TO THE USA
During the mid-1920s, noted genealogist Alfred R. Justice completed his research into the origins of the Littler name in the United States and came to the conclusion that two brothers had emigrated from Frodsham, Cheshire, about 1699. Sons of William and Alice LITTLER, Ralph (bap. 1660) and Samuel (bap. 1665) lived in the Philadelphia area after their arrival in the US. Ralph married Sarah —?— and died without issue, while Samuel married Rachel (Minshull) Taylor and they had a family of four sons and two daughters. Unfortunately, there is no real proof of the link back to Frodsham. Both baptisms for Ralph and Samuel are clearly documented in the Frodsham parish records, but so is a marriage of a Ralph LITTLER to Mary ASHBROOKE in 1695. Children born to this couple were baptised and buried over the ensuing fifteen years before Ralph died there in 1717. There is no further sign of Samuel in the Frodsham records and although he may well have emigrated to the US, he may just as easily have moved to another location within England.
Further complicating matters is documentation relating to land grants in Virginia, dated 10 March 1647 (Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1800, vol. 1, p. 115), in which a Richard LITTLER is named. There is reason to suppose that Richard may have been a married man, had issue, and from there we find the Ralph and Samuel LITTLER in question.
What is even more tenuous is the link back to Wallerscote Manor through William, father of Ralph and Samuel. Alfred R. Justice makes the suggestion that William’s parents were Sir Richard and Lady Mary LITTLER but there is no proof that this is correct. In fact, there is no documentation of any children born or baptised to this couple.
THE STAFFORDSHIRE CONNECTION
In my years of researching I have often wondered about the William LITTLERs, father and son, who worked in Stoke-on-Trent. William Sr. was a potter employed in The Potteries. His son, also William, followed in his father’s footsteps beginning his apprenticeship as a potter in 1737. Of the two, it was William Jr. who made a name for himself while experimenting with the development of porcelain clays and bringing to market a deep cobalt-blue glaze forever known as “Littler Blue”. I have endeavoured to trace this family back to their roots in Cheshire, but with little success. William Sr. was born about 1695; some say in Tarvin, Cheshire, but this has proved incorrect. Of the three William LITTLERs baptised at Tarvin St Andrew during the forty-year period 1675-1715, one died at the age of eight, the second moved to the nearby parish of Thornton-le-Moors, where he married, worked and raised his children and our third William continued to live in Tarvin where he married twice, worked and brought up his children. None of these Williams became a potter in Staffordshire.
Lately I have been following another branch of our Staffordshire family, one located in the area surrounding Lichfield and south-west to Walsall. Children born to a Thomas and Alice LITTLER make their appearance in the baptism records of Lichfield St Michael between 1682-1702 and from here the trail is easily followed through to the 19th Century. My question is: Where did Thomas hail from? No marriage has been found for Thomas LITTLER to Alice, making it difficult to ascertain his place of origin.
THE NANTWICH LITTLERS
The parish registers for Nantwich St. Mary begin in 1539 and from the first we see two sons baptised to a Rondull and Margaret LITTLER—Raphe (January, 1539-40) and George (January, 1542-43). It appears the Littlers were well settled in Nantwich before this date and it begs the question of just where did this family hail from? Did they, or an ancestor, migrate directly from Little Over, eleven miles to the north of Nantwich; or from Tarvin, fifteen miles to the north-west? Or is Rondull/Randle related to a younger son of Wallerscote Manor? A strong case can be made for any of these options. Little Over is certainly the closest to Nantwich and it was from here our Littler name originated. Tarvin, on the other hand, is a little further away but has always had good road access to Nantwich. And even though Wallerscote is further away again, there is the possibility that a younger son of the manor may well have settled in Nantwich. If so, would he have come by way of Tarvin, where Littlers had settled by the 16th Century? The naming pattern of the above family, Randle, Margaret, Ralph and George, suggests that this may be the case—all four were popular given names in our family during this era. As yet, I have found no hard evidence of a direct link back to Wallerscote, but there is a strong possibility that the early Littlers of Nantwich could also tie there heritage back to the manor.
TWO RICHARD LITTLERS, COUSINS
During the latter part of the 16th Century and into the next, a gentleman by the name of Richard LITTLER practiced as an attorney in His Majesty’s Court of Common Pleas located inside the great Hall of Westminster in London. About 1570 Richard married Bridget, daughter of Richard WALL, and they appear to have had twelve children, all but three baptised at Silver Street St. Olave located in the Aldersgate ward of the City of London. Although the baptisms of the two youngest children have not been found in the St Olave registers, they are mentioned in their father’s Will.
Richard LITTLER died in 1623 leaving a detailed Will in which, among others, he names two cousins: “. . . delivered into the hands of my cousins Lawrence LYTLER and Richard LYTLER the younger of Mouldsworth . . .” and again: “And I make and appoint overseers thereof my loving cousins Lawrence LITLER gent and Richard LITLER the younger of Mouldsworth in the County of Chester gent . . .” (Note the spelling of Lytler/Litler in the same document).
The wording in the Will suggests that Richard LITTLER (attorney of London) and Richard LITTLER (the younger of Mouldsworth) are first cousins. We know from the records (Ormerod, vol. I, p. 222) that Richard the younger was a Clerk of the Courts of Pentice, Crownmote, and Portmote, for the City of Chester, 1627-38 and that he was also the son of Richard LITTLER, gentleman (Freemen of the City of Chester, 1392-1700: Ancestry.com).
So are the two Richards related? If so, how? I believe Richard LITTLER (Sr.) is the son of Ralph LITTLER of Wallerscote and his second wife Mary LITTLER of London, but I have yet to find who is the father of Richard LITTLER, attorney. Is it possible that he was born in Cheshire (about 1545) and his father likely one of the younger sons of Wallerscote?
LITTLER COAT OF ARMS (Argent a chevron Sable between three Squirrels Gules)
While researching Beyond Wallerscote Manor, I became intrigued with the family Coat of Arms and often wondered who among our ancestors was granted the honour of displaying them. In all the sources I researched, no mention could be found of just when and to whom the arms were granted. Although not all documentation related to the Littler family mentions the arms, it is referenced in some publications, notably George Ormerod’s History of Cheshire (2nd edition, 1882).
In an effort to find the answer to these questions, I contacted the Portcullis Pursuivant at the College of Arms, London. His research shows that no one in the Littler family has ever been granted a coat of arms. The name Littler (or variants) does not appear in any of the original visitation records and there is no reference in the Dictionary of British Arms. It appears that past members of our family who used the arms described above never established the legal right to do so.
Note: The one exception is Sir John Hunter LITTLER who was granted arms in the early 19th century, but they bear no resemblance to those noted here.