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Acworth Village History and Family Arms

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Location: Ackworth, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Surnames/tags: Acworth Lacy
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Acworth Arms

Tabard of the Acworth Family of Bedfordshire

In the British Museum MSS Room may be seen a roll displaying ancient devices in coat armour, of which this griffin segreant (Lion rampant) is one, with the name Acworth beneath. The date of the drawing would be, from the style of the armour, thirteenth or fourteenth century.

In the Church at Luton in Bedfordshire there is a memorial brass commemorating John Acworth.

Memorial brass in Luton Church - John Acworth and wives Alys and Amy.

The brass shows an effigy of a man between his two wives and underneath are eight boys and nine girls. The man is in armour, his head resting on a helmet, with crest: Out of a coronet a hand grasping a sepent. A fine rubbing of the brass can be seen in the British Museum MSS. Room (Ref 32,490, F F 15). It has the following inscription at foot:

Pray for the soules of John Acworth squire & Alys and Amy his wyfes whiche John deceased the xvij day of Marche the year of o'Lord MDXEEE (17 March 1513) on whose soules thu have m'cy.

The brass shows four shields, three of which are three crowns quartered with three roses. The fourth shield is a griffin segreant.

The three crowns quartered with roses are the Leche Family Arms and the crest grasping a serpent is also Leche. What family the three roses indicate is uncertain. That the Leche crest should be displayed in three places makes it even more remarkable. The fourth crest is a griffin segreant and there may be no doubt that, although not enrolled at the Heralds' College, it represents the arms rightfully belonging to the Acworth Family. The griffin segreant is the device seen on the tabard.

William Acworth died in 1606, approximately 100 years after his Great Grandfather John Acworth, but was clearly still aware of his right to bear arms. The memorial brass at St Michael's Church, Oxfordshire clearly shows the same shield as that used in 3 of the corners of the Luton Church memorial brass. The crest seems to be a little foreshortened.,

William Acworth memorial brass

Abraham Acworth was born approximately another 100 years later in 1719 and died in 1781. He applied for a grant of arms. The letter awarding this is reproduced below[1] Page 41 (frontpiece) and is a nice example of the ceremony of the times...

Arms of Abraham Acworth

The Grant of Arms to Abraham is given:

To All and Singular to whom these Presents shall come John Anstis, Esquire, Garter Principal King of Arms and Stephen Martin Leake, Esquire, Clarenceux King of Arms, Send Greeting, Whereas those Badges or Ensigns of Gentility commonly called and known by the Name of Arms have heretofore been and are still continued to be conferred upon deserving Persons to distinguish them from the common sort of people who neither can or may pretend to use them without Lawful Authority and WHEREAS Abraham Acworth of the Parish of St John the Evangelist in the City of Westminster, Esquire, hath represented unto the Right Honorable Thomas, Earl of Effingham, Deputy (with the Royal Approbation) to the Most Noble, Edward, Duke of York, Earl Marshall, and Hereditary Marshall of England, that his Ancestors have for upwards of a century borne and used for their Arms: Quarterly First and and Fourth Ermine on a Chief Daucette Gules, three Crowns Or within a Border Sable, Second and Third Argent Three Roses Gules and for the Crest an Armed Arm grasping a Serpent proper Issuing out of a Ducal Coronet Or, but for want of due Entrys being made in the Records of the College of Arms is unable with certainty to prove such right thereto as the Strict Laws of Arms require, and being unwilling to continue such Ensigns of Honour without an unquestionable Authority hath therefore prayed his Lordship's Warrant for Our Exemplifying and confirming the same Arms and Crest with such variation as shall be necessary to be borne and used by him and his Descendants and the Descendants of his father John Acworth according to the ancient usage and the Customs of Arms and forasmuch as his Lordship duly considering the Premises and also the Qualifications of the said Abraham Acworth did by Warrant under his Hand and Seal bearing date the Twenty seventh day of June 1748 Order and direct Us to Exemplify and Confirm unto him the said Abraham Acworth and the Desendants aforesaid such Arms and Crest accordingly, Now Know Ye that We the said Garter and Clarenceux in pursuance of the Consent of the said Earl of Effingham and by Vertue of the Letters Patent of Our Offices to each of Us respectively Granted do by these Presents Exemplify and Confirm unto the said Abraham Acworth the Arms and Crest following Viz Quarterly per fesse dovetail First and Fourth Ermine on a Chief dancette Gules dancetre Gules three Crowns Argent within a Border Sable Besanty, Second and Third Argent three Roses Gules each charg'd in the centre with a Mullet Or And for the Crest On a Wreath of the Colours an Armed Arm Or Issuing out of a Coronet charged with three Strawberry leaves Gules the hand grasping a Serpent proper holding in its mouth an Annulet Sable as the same in the margin hereof are more lively depicted to be borne and used for ever hereafter by him the said Abraham Acworth and his Descendants and also by the Descendants of his Father John Acworth with their due and proper differences according to the ancient usage and practice of Arms without Lett ot Interuption of any person or Persons whatsoever in witness whereof We the said Garter and Clarenceux Kings of Arms have to these Presents subscribed Our Names and ffixed the Seals of Our seveeral Offices the Seventh day of July in the Twenty Second year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second by the Grace of God King of Great Britain France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc, and in the year of Our Lord One thousand seven hundred and forty eight. John Anstis: Garter Principal King of Arms
Stephen Martin Leake: Clarenceux King of Arms

In 1905 Green and Acworth[1] expresses a lack of satisfaction with the 1748 document:

On 7 July 1748 Abraham took out a grant of arms for all descendants of his father John Acworth, but the grant became extinct in 1818 by the death of his son Buckeridge Ball. The charges on the shield are evidently intended to bear some outward resemblance to the quarterigs shewn at Luton, Bedfordshire, of date 1513, but sadly garbled; and the indication thrown in of bastardy on a composition that is also intentionally deprived of any inner meaning is needless and absurd. But Abraham was unaware of the grounds on which he might with propriety have used the much older griffin device; he states in fact that he has lost trace of his desent, though his family have long used arms.

Of considerable interest are the Lacy Family Arms:

The Lacy Arms

These arms appear to be the same as the Acworth Family Tabard. So was John Acworth, and Wiliam before him, in the service of the Lacy Family?

Ackworth Village History

The Acworth Family are descended from those who lived in the Parish[2] of Ackworth in Yorkshire. Ackworth is seen to be only 6 km from Pontefract where the Castle has figured in English History on a number of occaisons.

In 1536, the castle's guardian, Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy handed over the castle to the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace[3], a Catholic rebellion from northern England against the rule of King Henry VIII. Lord Darcy was executed for this alleged "surrender," which the king viewed as an act of treason.

In 1541, during a royal tour of the provinces, it was alleged that King Henry's fifth wife, Queen Catherine Howard, committed her first act of adultery with Sir Thomas Culpeper at Pontefract Castle, a crime for which she was apprehended and executed without trial.

The Wikkispedia entry for the Parish of Acworth[4] gives the historical background for the Parish dating back to the 8th Century.

The earliest occurrence that has yet been found of the adoption of the name appears in the publications of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, wherein John Ackewrde is shewn to be one of the jurors in an inquisition post-mortem on Emma Wasthose held on 13 February 1250[1]. The recorded early history of the family begins with a William Acworth who was the attourney to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, younger brother to Henry V. Clearly, William must have come from an established family to have reached this social level. He is thought to have moved south from Ackworth in Yorkshire and buys lands in Bedfordshire and establishes the family at Biscott Mannor.

The Wikipedia History of Acworth provides some interesting clues to these earlier years. The earliest mention of the village appears in the 1086 Domesday Book: "Manor in Ackworth". Erdulf & Osulf have six carucates of land to be taxed, where there might be five ploughs. Humphry now holds it of Ilbert. [Humphry] himself has there one plough and a half, and fourteen villains, and two boors. There is a Church there, and priest; one mill, of sixteen pence. According to the Domesday Book, Ilbert de Lacy was Lord of a Manor able to employ five ploughs. His vassal was the Humphrey mentioned in the book, who himself owned one-and-a-half ploughs (about a quarter of the manor). The rest was divided between two farmers, who also acted as Humphry's tenants. De Lacy was a Norman knight, who received land for services to William the Conqueror.

Note: Humphrey was a name that occurs in the early Acworth Family Tree as a son of WIlliam Acworth. As William Acworth served Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, it had been assumed he had named his son Humphrey in honour of the Duke. It is also possible that Humphrey was a family name.

Ilbert de Lacy was born in Laci, Normandy in 1045. He was the son of Hugh de Lacy. He invaded England with William the Conqueror and took extensive part in taming the north for which he was awarded lands in Yorkshire and other counties. He made Pontefract his base and built an extensive castle there.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 'The Acworth Family Pedigree - Page 13'
  2. Google Maps reference https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ackworth,+Pontefract,+UK/@53.651781,-1.357583,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x4879694ad1e02f45:0xfab2d4162d1f0759!8m2!3d53.6590897!4d-1.3286744
  3. Pilgrimage of Grace https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilgrimage_of_Grace
  4. Village History https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ackworth,_West_Yorkshire

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