Descendent’s of Ralph the Red and how to be sure?

Ralph the Red Pic

“Ralph the Red” sometime from the early 12th. century

The genealogy of the early de Mitton family to those of the 21st century can be traced through several research sources. Their is documentation of the family legacy beginning with the de Lacy’s grant to Ralph the Red in the early 12th. century and the “de Mitton” surname first used in the early 13th century (1219) as identification for the poll tax.

The Coucher Book of Whalley has the early genealogy of the Norman de Mittons beginning about the early 12th century until 1377. Many local de Mittons are then found in the Clitheroe Court Rolls, but inability to connect father to son pedigree until about 1577 when Richard Mitton is born in Austwick,Yorkshire. His father is Roger, also from Austwick born in 1537 and dies in 1585 has been recently established independently. These dates may not be entirely accurate as the Bishops rolls did not commence until 1538. It is possible that the first recorded Craven area Mitton, Roger de Mitton was a descendant of a cousin of the earlier Roger de Mitton who died in 1377 and who is recorded in the Coucher Book of Whalley.

Jack Knowles 1982 “The Mittons of Craven” is an exhaustive source that relies on the Bishops rolls of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths recorded by law beginning 1538 as noted above. They start with the above Roger Mitton but Knowles does not provide a birth date. A later research source claims it is 1537. Knowles traces the de Mittons from Ralph the Red to 20th century Mittons in England. He includes “Squire” Joseph Mitton 1723-92 of Horton in Ribblesdale who is authenticated in the separate 1906 genealogy memo now referenced;

That next confirming source is the handwritten primary* document memo of Edmund D. Mitton dated 1906 that connects precisely with Jack Knowles 1982 genealogy through  “Squire” Joseph Mitton br. 1723 died 1792. It was Josephs sons and grandsons that began to immigrate to Canada beginning at the end of the 18th century. Edmond D. Mitton 1906 memo refers to “Squire” Joesph Mitton of Ribblesdale and is the same Joesph Mitton in the Knowles 1982 genealogy separately researched and written by him in England on file at the British Library.This connects the Canadian-US Mittons to their ancestors in the Craven area of Yorkshire via Knowles genealogy connections.

* Please see 1906 genealogy memo written* by Edmund D. Mitton under Notes and Addenda.

“Squire” Joesph Mitton (1723-1792) is the axiom ancestor for descendant genealogies to the present day for connecting Canadian-US genealogy to the Craven and prior Norman line of Mittons. Squire Joesph is the authors own 5th great grandfather. His great, grandson John aka.”Grover John” was baptized Aug. 9,1818 at St. Oswald in Ribblesdale. The same church where Joesph “Squire” Mitton is buried in its Church yard. John aka. “Grover John” of Kent County, Ontario would be the authors second great grandfather born June 25, 1818 in Horton -in- Ribblesdale, Yorkshire.

The early post-Norman pedigrees is of course due to the extended Mitton – Bailey – Shireburne families whose genealogies first recorded by the abbots of Whalley Abby in the “Coucher Book of Whalley”  The “de Mitton” family progenator is first attributed to “Ralph the Red” from the Nov. 23 rd.,1102 charter grant of “Mitune” to Ralph by Robert de Lacy. The de Lacy’s and Shireburnes were prominent families of their respective eras and the de Mittons are  juxtaposition between them. Thus their is documentation as well as location names and recorded ancient genealogy of all three surnamed families and their legacy’s. 

The frustrating 14th -16th  century de Mitton specific male line genealogy gap may never be closed. The best we have for those centuries is the Clitheroe Court Rolls of numerous de Mittons recorded in those century`s living in that geographic area. The Bishops transcripts of parish births, marriages and deaths of the Mittons go back to about 1538. Jack Knowles claims the 1982 Craven Mitton genealogy he researched is thus “authenticated” back to the 1500`s. Knowles contends the forebears of the Craven Mittons to be the same Norman noblesse de Mittons in the Coucher Book of Whalley and are scions of the de Lacy family by blood as well as by early feudal land grants.

Nearby Ribblesdale, where Joseph “Squire” Mitton was buried in 1793, is the same church yard where my great, great grandfather, “Grover” John Mitton was baptized in August 1818.This is part of the original deanery of Craven that extended from the north border of the Bowland forrest to the southwest corner of Great Mitton at the confluence of the Ribble and Hodder just west of Clitheroe.

The Parrish boundary historically includes the Yorkshire Dales and the Bowland forest. The dividing line was always the Ribble River going back to Saxon times that separated Northumberland from the Mercians on the south side of the Ribble. Whalley was on the south side of the Ribble and always in the Diocese of Lichfield and the province of Canterbury. It had no connection then or now to Mitton Parish. Mitton was in the arch-diocese of York including Horton in Ribblesdale within that diocese. The location is identified on the map toward the top in the Yorkshire Dales. Great Mitton is just west of Clitheroe and north west of Whalley at the edge of the Bowland forest (click map to enlarge). Yet Mitton and Whalley are no more than 3 miles apart but still of no diocese connection.

So as you can see, the de Mittons of Great Mitton and the later ones of Craven never left their own immediate deanery area (see map below) for over 700 years first established by Ralph the Reds Parrish. Great Mitton is located to the west of Clitheroe and north west of Whalley, directly south of the Bowland forest along the Ribble river and has always been with in the archdiocese of York even after changing diocese boundaries over the centuries to this day.

Please click map to enlarge.

That geographic closeness makes it more than probable that Roger and his son Richard Mitton were of the same pedigree of the earlier Norman “de Mittons” recorded in the Coucher Book of Whalley. The intervening Mittons in the Clitheroe Court Rolls are of a same local jurisdiction as the Norman de Mittons. From Richard we have “authentic” (according to Jack Knowles) father to son male bloodlines down to “Squire” Joseph Mitton (1723 -1792) buried at Ribblesdale, a stone’s throws away from Austwick where he was born. Joesph “Squire” Mitton is the axiom connection to 20th century descendant Mittons in North America identified in Edward D. Mittons 1906 handwritten memo. Joesph “Squire” Mitton is the pivotal person for tracing contemporary Mitton ancestry back to him through the 1906 memo and then ultimately to “Ralph the Red” and the de Lacy’s of the Norman Conquest.
                               Ralph the Red from a painting by Ivo David
Ralph de Mitton: the “first Mitton” in a pensive moment in middle age. He bears a remarkable similarity to his direct descendant, the author & researcher of this history,  Bruce Floyd Mitton, aka “Bruce the Great”. Painting courtesy of Ivo David

 Ralph’s friends below on a recent outing to local pubs.They were a great source for the authors research about his historical Norman bloodline ancestor.