I had an email the other day from someone who is also called Ashworth and is researching his family history. He mentioned some old charters and when I went to check I discovered that Ashworth – which is on the outskirts of Rochdale – was held of the Lord of Middleton and the earliest deed concerning it is a grant made about 1180–90 by Roger, son of Alexander de Middleton, to Geoffrey, son of Robert the Dean of Whalley, of the whole of Ashworth ‘for the service of 40d. yearly for sake fee’. One of the witnesses was a Jordan de Ashworth, who may have been the immediate tenant.
Those of you who have read my novel, The de Lacy Inheritance, will know that Geoffrey de Whalley, the son of the Dean, is a central character and I like the idea that he was the overlord of people who may have been distant ancestors of mine. It seems appropriate that I should be writing about him and bringing the story full circle.
I was also interested in the name Jordan de Ashworth. Jordan seems a modern name but it was in use back then and probably has connections with the Crusades. Crusaders sometimes brought back water from the river Jordan to baptise their children and that could have been the origin of this man’s name.
Another interesting snippet that caught my eye was this: ‘A Robert son of Robert de Ashworth married Tiffany daughter of Margery…’
Jordan and Tiffany. Not what you would expect as medieval names. I can already imagine the snarky comments I’ll receive from Amazon reviewers if my next novel has characters named after a couple of my forebears!