Linekar and Connected Families

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THE LINEKARS OF CHESHIRE AND ASSOCIATED FAMILIES

 The Researched Family Names

 The Linekars of Cheshire resided for at least the whole of the 19th century on the Wirral Peninsula and more exactly in the area which now can be designated by the names West Kirby, Hoylake and Wallasey. During last century and earlier, however, this area was made up of small individually named parishes and townships some whose names are no longer in common use.  Some attempt will be made in this report of the Linekar and related families to outline the nature of the areas in which they lived and the changes that have taken place over the past 300 years or more.

The principal names being researched are Linekar, Barlow, Beck, Hegg, Peach, Knowles and Mason.  At this stage the information  only on the Linekars comes to any amount and this is rather paltry when compared with that for the Gunns, Melvilles, Booths and some of the other connected families being researched.  However, over time, I am sure that information will slowly gather on this family and the other associated ones.

To find some general information about the families I consulted Reaney's book on Surnames of England.  It was extremely useful in outlining the development of some of the names in which I had an interest and also emphasised the difficuly of claiming a name came from a single geographical area, source or derivation.  To try to give a brief, but clear, outline of the information contained in Reaney I have listed the main points under the name headings below.

Linekar

Variants - Linacre, Linaker, Lineker, Liniker, Linnecar, Linnecor, Linnekar, Linegar, Linnegar, Lynnacre. 

It should be noted that Reaney does not list Linekar itself and the closest he comes is with Linnekar or Lineker.  His first noting of the name was in the Domesday Book of 1086 for Cambridgeshire and the reference was to Goodwin de Linacra.  He further notes an Alan de Linacre in 1227 from Assizes Rolls in Staffordshire.

The name is said to be derived from three possible sources.  Linacre in Lancashire, Linacre Court allias Lenniker in Hertfordshire or from the Old English for 'dweller by the flax field'.  This derivation is also contained in the Book of Newfoundland Surnames by Seary which also gives a Northern Irish connection associated with those flax fields.

Barlow

At present I have not included information on the name Barlow.  This is simply because it does not appear to be covered in either Reaney or Black.  This surprised me as I was of the opinion that Barlow was a reasonably common name.

Beck

Variants - Beck, Becke, Bec

 Four derivations for the name are given.  The first noted is for a Walter Bec from Buckinghamshire in the Domesday Book of 1086.  It is suggested that Walter and other under-tenants mentioned in the book came across the channel from Bec-Hellouin.  It is also noted that others may have come from one of the numerous places in France named Bec.

The second derivation of the name is from 'a dweller by the brook'.  An example of a person who might have received his name by this method is Robert Attebek.  He is mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls for York for 1297.  This form of the word for a brook appears to come from two sources.  The Middle English word 'bekke' and the Old Norse word 'bekkr'.  Names coming through this source were said to be common in the North of England, the Danelaw and Scotland.  It is not a name I have found to be particularly common in Scotland.

The another route for this name is through the Old English word 'becca' meaning mattock and comes from being the 'maker or of mattocks'.

The final suggested derivation is as a nickname.  It is said to be descriptive of someone with a beak like a bird and comes from the Old French for beak which is 'bec'.

Hegg

Variants - Hegg, Hedges, Hedge, Hedger, Hedgeman, Hegge

The meaning of the name seems to be fairly straightforward and refers to the occupation of hedge cutting or of dwelling beside a hedge.   The name is mentioned by Reaney as occurring as early as 1227 in Assizes Rolls and is there spelt as Hegge.

Peach

Variants - Petch, Petche, Petchey, Pechey, Peach, Peache, Peachey, Peech

Again the Domesday Book of 1086 is the first source of this name and mentions its existence in Essex and Norfolk.  The derivation would appear to be from the Old French word 'peche' and the Latin 'peccatum' meaning 'sin'.  It is said to be a nickname and in one circumstance it is interesting to note it it is the name of Robert Peche,  Bishop of Coventry in 1123.

Knowles

Variants - Knoll, Knowles, Nowles.

The word seems to come from the location of a residence meaning 'dweller at the top of the hill'.  The word it is derived from is the Old English 'cnoll'.

The first identified holder of a variant of this name was said to be Robert de la Cnolle in 1185.   Reaney notes that there are places called Knole in Kent and Knowle in Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Warwickshire.  Clearly later families could have been given the name not from dwelling on a hill but from living in one of those settlements.

Mason

Variants - Mason, Massen, Masson, Machen, Machent, Machin, Machon

There seems to be little doubt that this name is derived from the occupation of mason.  Black goes as far as to say that in Scotland it is likely to be the only source of the name.

The two earliest sources quoted by Reaney are John Macum in 1130 and Roger le Mason in 1200.

 

The Research to Date

The research into the Linekar line in England has proved to be particularly difficult and time consuming.  A visit to the Wirral, Cheshire was an essential step having collected what I could from friends and the limited records available locally to me.  A first visit to St. Catherine's House was more a 'getting to know the place' experience though it did prove useful in unearthing some family information. A further visit to St. Catherine's House in London is necessary.

Research in England can be expensive and slow because of the necessity to purchase birth, marriage and death certificates before one is absolutely sure that the correct individuals have been identified.  The cost is further increased by the almost double price for certificates requested by post.  Clearly distance from the source of the material is also a very limiting factor in terms of cost and easy access.

Some research in the Cheshire archives was carried out, in the first instance, for me by a fellow genealogist, Brian Gray.  Brian was living in Manchester but had Caithness connections and was busy working on Gray families in the county when we first corresponded.  He was when  last in contact resident in the south west of Scotland having bought a small hotel there.

Brian Gray provided census information and I have reproduced it in the reference section.  This information increased my knowledge of the family considerably.  This increased knowledge allowed me to purchase some statutory certificates, in addition to those I got myself on a visit to London.  Those extra certificates were obtained for me by Tony Ferguson of Reading.  Tony had Gunn ancestors in Halkirk parish and Thurso and Ferguson ancestors in Golspie.  The Gunn ancestors appear to link fairly directly into the Gunns of Dale and from them into the line from George the Crowner of Caithness.

In 1996 I made my first visit to Chester and the Wirral and visited the Cheshire Records Office and places of interested on the Wirral.  My time in the records office was very limited and amounted to only five hours in total.  A major part of this time was taken up getting to know the records and finding my way around an excellent facility with much historical material.

I found reference to the families of interest to me in trades directories and in the census records.  Time precluded a particulary comprehensive or disciplined search but a return visit will, hopefully, prove much more productive.  The trades references found are noted, along with the census material and photographs, in the appendix to this report.

The research on the Wirral only amounted to a day’s tour of the area with stops at points of interest but, nevertheless, was more worthwhile than could have been imagined.  At West Kirby a bookshop contained many books on local history and one entitled ‘Hoylake and Meols Past’ by Stephen Roberts turned out to be a treasure trove of information with a number of references to the very people I was researching.  And again in the appendices to the article the references are noted.

One does not expect to find much in a cemetery in a short time when looking for graves from last century.  However, within a few minutes and less than 50 metres from the entrance to the Hoylake Cemetery another important find was made.  Here in a relatively open position in a very overgrown burial ground I found two important stones side by side.  Both were well preserved and the inscriptions very clear.  Additionally, not far distant from those stones there were stones relating to the Barlow and Beck families and some of those were certainly part of the family structure.  The stones have been identified as of  family members are reproduced in the appendix.

On returning home I decided to contact a professional researcher who advertised that he could obtain statutory records from St Catherine’s House.  On requesting those the first search proved fruitless with regard to the death certificate of Ann Linekar despite the stone having a definite death date engraved upon it.  The research also proved unsatisfactory in that the requirements of the search were not properly followed and so I had a second search carried out at no cost.  However, this too did not reveal the death date of Ann nor did it find the death date of her husband, Thomas Linekar.

A further line of enquiry was to write, via the publisher of ‘Hoylake and Meols Past’, to  Stephen Roberts the author.  Unfortunately, no response has been forthcoming from Mr Roberts and whether this is due to non receipt of the request for information or a reluctance on his part to reply is not known.

However, if one tries hard enough and waits long enough something usually materialises.  Correspondence from Alan and Sheila Nicholson from Cumbria proved to be the big breakthough.  The Nicholsons were researching in The Wirral at the same time as I was and there extensive enquiries produced many new family connections and details of how and where early Linekars and connected families lived.

 

The Hoylake  and West Kirby Area

Hoylake is small town in the north west corner of the Wirral Peninsula in the county of Cheshire.  It is nine miles or so west of Liverpool and 20 miles north of Chester.  It lies in wonderfully pleasant countryside and close to the famous Royal Liverpool Golf Course.  It has a long promenade and inviting sea and sand across which there is fine view to the North Wales coastline.  To the south west of the town and ‘round the corner’ is the town of West Kirby and to the east the small settlement of Great Meols and further on the continous built up areas of Wallasey and Birkenhead.

The name Hoylake is relatively new with a history of less than two hundred years.  The name comes from the Hoyle Lake which was the deep-water anchorage used in the 17th century by transport ships for soldiers and cargo vessels.  The former were ships taking soldiers to and from Ireland in the 17th century and the latter were in the lake either for shelter or to have their loads lightened.  This lightening of the cargo load was required so that the vessels could proceed up the River Dee to Chester.

As the Hoyle Lake silted up the trade lessened and by the end of the 19th century the lake had disappeared and the name Hoylake had become generally accepted as the new name for the village formerly known as Hoose.  This village, described later, nestled in the sandhills along with the neighbouring settlements of Little and Great Meols.  Indeed, until the coming of the railway Hoylake and Meols remained little more than fishing villages comprising, in the main, groups of fishermen’s small cottages.

The original Kirkby, from which West Kirby derives its name, was situated in what is now the old village near the parish church.  The community there dates from the 10th century when Norse settlers established a settlement and dedicated a church to St Bridget.  The town depended upon the sea for its prosperiry but this declined with the silting up of the River Dee.  West Kirby, like other ports, in the area had a reputation for smuggling resulting from the opportunities provided by the ships anchoring off the coast and lightening their loads.  Those ships were then to proceed up the river to Chester.  However, with the silting of the Dee and the divertion of ships to the Mersey and Liverpool the trade stopped.

As with Hoylake, it was only after the coming of the railway in the last quarter of the 19th century that West Kirby again became prosperous.  Communications with Liverpool and Chester became easy and so the tourist and commuter trade became an important factor in the area’s economy.  The population rose as wealthy merchants came to live in this attractive area with its easy access to busy Merseyside.

As noted above, Prior to the 18th century there is little mention of Hoylake though settlement in the area may be traced back to stone age times.  In early written records one is more likely to find mention of Little Meols, Hoose and Great Meols and those settlements were not always spelt as they are now.  The name Meols has changed from Meoles and Hoose was variously as spelt as Hoolse, Holse, Hulse Hous, Oolse and Oose.  In addition the Latin words Parma and Magna were often used instead of Little and Great.

Hoose was a small area, mainly in the part that was the heart of Victorian Hoylake with a relatively large population when compared with the other small villages around but, nevertheless, still a small settlement.  This was mainly due to the concentration of fisher folks house and the supporting trades.  The area was bordered by the sea on one side and the River Birket on an other.  The township of Little Meols formed the western boundary on land now occupied by the Royal Liverpool Golf Course and the Hoylake Municipal Course.  Most of the dwellings in this township were in the area of the present Hoylake Town Hall.  To the north east the area was bounded by Great Meols and this area itself spread up as far as the Wallasey parish boundary on the north east side and was contained on the landward side by the River Birket. Across the river and inland were the other parishes of Grange, Newton, Frankby and Greasby and it was in those parishes and West Kirby that some of the residents of Hoose, who did not marry their immediate neighbours, found spouses.

Early settlers in the area looked at a different landscape than we do in present times.  The land was higher with the River Dee much further to the west and the River Mersey a shadow if its present self.  About 8000 years ago stone age peoples inhabited the area but all that remains are a few stone objects.  As time passed peoples from Europe moved into Britain and those new stone age setters introduced agricultural techniques and new flint tools.  They had more permanent homes in a pleasant countryside and dwellings which would now be out at sea.  The relative permanence of their settled area left a few more arifacts though the finds are still meagre.

In time, through Bronze and Iron age, people came went and settled and helped mould a countryside and a population that to this day probably has some of the blood of those early ancestors flowing in its viens.  However, between those early peoples and the present day there were many other population movements, invaders and settlers, bringing diverse cultures to the area.  There were Celtic tribes, Roman invaders, Viking marauders and Norman Conquerers and settlers.

The oldest existing document for the the Hoylake area dates from Norman times.  In the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, 70 manors on the Wirral are listed and there are two entries under Meols.  Both are listed as having the same landlord, Robert of Rhuddlan,  but it is not entirely clear which is Little Meols and which Great Meols though it is likely that the entries were in order as the recorders travelled round the coast.  Assuming this to be correct, the populations of the settlements can be roughly calculated and give rise to a figure of about 25 for Great Meols and 23 in Little Meols.

Details of the area are very patchy over the period 1086 to 1600 but it is clear that by 1600 there were three tiny and proably distinct villages on the tip of the Wirral Peninsula.  Hoose is first mentioned 1157 when it was confirmed as the property of Basingwerk Abbey in Flintshire.  Other references to the area make a contribution to local history but are not directly relevant at this time.  However, the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1545 is of not a little interest because it makes the first historical mention of the name Linekar, or to be more exact, Lynnacre, in the area. The entry is as follows:                      

                        Parva (Little) Meols

                        John Lyttell                   John Browne                Elena Brown

                        Edward Wryght            Thomas Wryghe

                        Richard Shurleacre       John Rimmer

 

                        Magna (Great) Meols

                        Nicholas Pemberton     Richard Lynnacre

                        Thomas Aynsdale         Thomas Coventrye

                        Nicholas Dawbie          William Pemberton

                        Nicholas Gobbyn          Nicholas Wryghte

                        Richard Betson

 This is not, of course, a complete list of villagers but only of those able to pay tax and they were probably all farmers.  Of special note is the name Richard Lynnacre and it is clear that if the ‘y’ is substituted by and ‘i’ the name is not that far removed from later spellings in the statutory records.

 

The Linekars and Related Families on the Wirral

Thomas Linekar (Linacre in OPR) could possibly be the father of Thomas born 1796 and he had at least two other children, John born 1793 and Elizabeth born 1795.  His wife is the  earliest identified female who may be in the Linekar line and is a Jane Machingtack who was married to Thomas in 1790.  As no other instance of this name can be found in the Cheshire records it may be that it is a mis-spelling of Machin or a similar name.  Since many names were written as they sounded or as the recorder thought they sounded many strange spellings and interpretations appear in the OPRs and even statutory records.  I was previously 'playing around' with the idea that Jane might have been a Scot called Mackintosh though maybe a variant of Machin might be more likely.

 Thomas was born 1796 in Wallasey and married Anne (Nancy), whose maiden surname is unknown, but who was born 1797 in West Kirby.  They had at least seven children in Hoose, Cheshire between 1824 and 1844 and the registration of those births gives a clear indication of the spelling variations that occurred.  The earliest born children’s records showed the father to be Thomas Linnekar while for the last two the spelling was Thomas Linaker.  The records of those births and details of the children are given in the reference section.  The reasons for such spelling variation are obvious.  The ministers or clerks writing the names as thought they should be spelt or as they heard them.  Changes were generally a result of a change in recorder though it was not unusual for those recording names and even the people themselves to spell the names differently on different occasions.  It is worth noting with regard to spelling that at the baptism of the first three children of Thomas and Nancy the surname was Linnekar while after 1833 the spelling changed to Linacre before later becoming Linekar.  Another family had their name spelt similarly before 1833 and it is worth speculating that the change at this date is significant.  The new parish church in Hoylake opened then and families no longer had to travel to West Kirby to register, births, marriages and deaths.

As I have said, details of the family are scarce at present.  It would appear that the Linekars were in business on their own for a number of generations.  They had a carpentry business and were involved in making cartwheels and coffins amongst other things.  In the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 census returns the direct line and brothers of those in the direct line are given as joiners or wheelwrights.  Statutory records also indicate those occupations and in addition Miles Linekar (b. 1837) is given as a joiner and builder on the birth certificate of his son Miles Joseph Barlow Linekar.

A further clue to their relative affluence is to be found in their addresses.  Miles Linekar's home in 1871 was given as Linekar's Yard in Hoylake.  Further, father Thomas and brother Henry were residing in Wallasey and West Kirby.  Both areas being in the 'better' part of the area.  Indeed their existence on the Wirral side of the Mersey is in itself might be an indication that they could be fairly prosperous.

The first identified Linekar in the IGI is Thomas married to Jane Machingtack in 1792.  He had at least three children including a son Thomas whose wife may have been Anne or Nancy Linekar.  They had at least seven children including John,  Henry and Miles whose families I have identified.

This Thomas born in about 1796 had with certainty five sons and two daughters and there may have been others.  John, Henry and Miles have been followed in census records and and their wives have been identified though not followed up at present.  Henry married an Anne (MS unknown) and had at least five of a family while Miles, in the direct line, married Jane Barlow and also had a family of five or more children.  One son, Miles Joseph Barlow Linekar married Elizabeth Hegg and they in turn kept up the tradition of by having five children.  The younger son of this family was Joseph, named after his father and grandfather, and he married into the Booth and Gunn lines through Mary Louise Booth. 

From the little information available from the census returns and statutory certificate it appears that Jane Barlow's father was a fisherman and her brothers followed the same occupation.  They were resident in Hoylake also and like the Linekars the census records their place of residence as Hoose.  This was, as indicated above, the local name for the central part of Hoylake, or certainly part of it, at that time.  The Peachs, Knowles and Heggs came from Derby.  Their various occupations can be seen on the reference sheets.       

All but the certificates 'signed' by Samuel Peach and Joseph Barlow would appear to have been signed by the individuals concerned.  Joseph Barlow, however, signed Jane Barlow's birth certificate with a cross and the marriage certificate for Benjamin Hegg and Sarah Ann Peach was signed with a cross by Samuel Peach but countersigned by his wife Mary Peach.

The information on the Linekar line, as I have said, is fairly scant at present but hopefully it will extend with time.  The above outline is equally brief and can be difficult to follow without reference to the outline family tree.  Readers are referred to the first tree in the reference section and Charts 11.1C and 11.2C when considering the above outline.

Linekars and variant spellings in ‘Hoylake and Meols Past’ by Stephen Roberts

Linacre, Thomas

Thomas is listed as a neighbour of John Hazelhurst in School Lane, Hoose.  He is given as a carpenter, wheelwright and boat-builder with his own saw-pit in his yard.  Though the spelling is different from the present this is undoubtedly a member of the family under consideration.

Linaker, Ann

Ann appears in the list of Probate Documents of Residents of  Great Meols, Little Meols and Hoose proved between 1600 and 1800.  She is given as possibly a Yeoman resident in Great Meols and the will was proved in 1798.  Unfortunately the actual will appears to be lost.

Linekar, Thomas

This Thomas was given as a Tidesman in 1766 the source being Gore’s Liverpool Directory.

Linekar, Paul

Paul Linekar, resident in Hoose, is listed in Parish Registers between 1759 and 1789, along with seven others in similar occupation, as a fisherman.  No connection has as yet been made to the family under consideration.

Liniker, Robert

A mariner of Great Meols whose will was proved in 1613 was described as one of the few who owned valuable cutlery.  The inventory mentions ‘silver spoons and other plate’.  Wherether on not this Robert was an ancestor of the present Linekars cannot be ascertained but the name being relatively rare it is certainly possible.

Lynnacre, Richard

The Lay Subsidy Roll  of 1545 lists the heads of households from Wirral who were wealthy enough to pay a tax to the Crown.  Amongst the names can be found that of Richard Lynnacre, Great Meols.  It is likely that those listed in the roll were farmers though it is possible that some other professions might have had the ability to pay the tax.

Linacre’s House

Will of Simon Crofts, proved 1729, lists household items and property owned.  Included in the property is Linacre’s House.  The situation of this house cannot now be ascertained except for one field in modern Meols.  However, Simon Croft’s son, also called Simon, appears to have resided on Hoose though in his will, proved 1750, he spells the name ‘Hoolse’.

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20/02/2008