Searching historical documents part ii

John Colclough • Jan 24, 2020

I will have a look at some more documents to do with my own family name, but the process is transferable to everyone’s family story. Bold lettering is the document text followed by my thoughts in standard script.

The document is…

Pedigree Colclough of Staffordshire & Wexford (1) .

Statement of fact?

It is then important is to check the sources and the provenance to enhance historical and genealogical value. Without sources it is the statement of pedigree as defined by the original writer viz.

“The late Caesar Colclough of Tintern Abbey, was at considerable trouble and expense in hunting up the Pedigree of his family. Several copies of his compilation were made, from one of which I took the groundwork of the present, but the former contained many errors, and fell very far short of being a Pedigree of the whole family. The errors are here corrected, and the omissions supplied, and it is further brought down to the present day, and through the kindness of Sir Bernard Burke,  Ulster King at Arms, a skeleton of the present Pedigree is published in the 1879 Edition of his “Landed Gentry”. Sir Bernard’s arrangement of the Colclough Pedigree, and which is the only correct one yet published, is necessarily made to occupy as little space in his book as possible, but still it covers the whole ground, and accounts for all the legitimate male issue of Sir Anthony, and leaves no peg for any one who is not entitled, to hang his pretensions upon.”…

It does seem strange, but it is nevertheless true as may be verified by a careful perusal of the within pedigree, that of all the legitimate male issue of Sir Anthony there now survives only 5. All others of the name, are claiming to be descended from him, may be his descendants, but if so they must be illegitimate. It may be however that some of the families of the name, now in Ireland, and in other parts of the world, who say they are descended from Sir Anthony Colclough, are in reality legitimately descended from one or other of the junior branches that remained in England after Sir Anthony who came to Ireland.  It is possible that much of what is contained herein may be of little interest to any one but myself. Still I make no apology for inserting such, for it all contributes to throw light on the relations that existed or still exists between the different branches and different individuals of the family. Want of means forbids my having the work printed, and in that way of ensuring that my labours might not be lost, through some untoward accident to the manuscript. 

My task is now ended, it has been truly said that, ” What one man treasures, may be to his neighbour rubbish fit only for the dust hole,” But I will fondly hope, that whoever may possess this after I am gone will care it if only for my sake, and will think kindly of one who felt strongly, that “blood is thicker then (sic JC) water.”

 Beauchamp Colclough. August 1879. (2)

From this, Beauchamp has used Burke (3) as his source, it is for another time to assess Burke’s pedigrees but for the purposes of this exercise suffice to say Burke was based in many instances on hearsay from the family itself and the need to self-validate, you might notice the use of legitimate in the above passage, it might be asked if it was all about inheritance?

The earliest reliable information we have goes back no further than the time of King Edward III, in whose reign, the Visitation of Staffordshire, England shows that the Family was there of consideration in that county. (4)

This text then, might read that there is a document contemporary to Edward III noting the Colclough family, Edward III reigned from 1327 to 1377 (5), there were three visitations the first visitation was the heraldic visitation undertaken by John Flower for Henry VIII to check and enforce heraldic law (this is referenced to Wikipedia, but I have checked the veracity of the sources therein used so for access I have here referenced the Wikipedia page) (6), it was from 1583 (7), 200 years after Edward III, with a generation being somewhere between 25 and 33 years (8) gives 6 to 8 generations, so the Colclough’s reporting to Flower with the best will in the world, even given they had to try to avoid transgressing the law and wrath of Henry VIII, would have been problematic, this was followed by 1614 and 1663-4 visitations (9) with similar difficulties.

Thus. my next step is to dig a bit deeper, if this was a commercial commission, I would have a log of all the sources I looked for each individual, that can be for another time, a future blog post.

There is nothing wrong with using Google, Bing just type what you are looking for, literally type a sentence and see what happens.

Anyway, in my search for the 1360’s Colclough’s and not going off to Staffordshire yet, the history of parliament online bears fruit.

Between 1384 and 1414 at Newcastle under Lyme we get John, William, Hugh and Richard Colclough as MP’s at various times, with secondary evidence of a Richard Colclough as MP for the same place in 1360 (10), all referenced back to the William Salt Archaeological Society, now known as the Staffordshire record society (11), the definitive place to look for this county’s history (albeit the visitations are part of the archive).

Back to the document….

1367 Richard Colclough, living 40, Edward III. (1367) had three sons viz..

1. Hugh;  2.  William, living 39 Edward III; 3.  Richard.

Checking and cross referencing the Parliamentary histories, reasonable evidence starts to appear.

Firstly, a John Colclough, from records available the following can be reasonably surmised: This John was the eldest son of Richard Colclough, MP for Newcastle under Lyme 1360, brother to William Colclough, and married to Margery by Easter 1408, had possibly 1 son (12).

There is evidence for Richard living 1367, in that there was an MP for Newcastle under Lyme in 1360, but the pedigree above (Beauchamp’s) doesn’t note John, yet. Back to Richard the elder, the circumstantial evidence is that he was dead by 1385, John Colclough and a John Keen were his executors at that time (13). John Colclough was Bailiff for Newcastle 1377-8 thus it is very likely but not completely certain he was what we would consider an adult in his 20’s as this appears to have been a usual age for this kind of position (14), so born before 1356 at least.

William is mentioned as John’s brother (15), and has his own entry as an MP, as younger brother of John, son of Richard, married to Elizabeth, with other biographical details (16).

A chronological sequence of the Colclough MP’s then brings me to Hugh Colclough, he was MP for Newcastle 1407 and coroner for Staffordshire 1409-10, however documentary evidence for his relationship to the other Colclough’s is not extant at present, but that he was of the family is almost beyond doubt given the geography his name and prominence. He is named in a marriage settlement of a son of a John Delves (17).

Finally in the 1400’s is a Richard Colclough of Blurton, MP for Newcastle 1414, he it was said (via the visitations probably) to be the son of Hugh above, but there is also documentation of a Richard Colclough senior involved in property transactions in the area around 1400, he could have been another son of Richard d. 1385, this Richard alive 1400, could have been Richard of Blurton’s father, three generations of Richard, however there is also good circumstantial evidence for Richard of Blurton’s marriage to a daughter of John Delves who had been a contemporary of Hugh (18) giving some credence to Hugh being Richard of Blurton’s father.

Family tree entries now can start with sources identified above:

Richard Colclough b. before 1340 (given Richard was MP in 1360 he is probably of modern adult age so probably born before 1340) m. before 1356 (John’s likely birth) that John is his heir makes it very likely but not impossible John was not illegitimate. d. about 1385.

 John Colclough b. before 1356, m. to Margery before May 1408, d. before 1422.

William Colclough b after 1356. m. to Elizabeth between 1397 and 1406, d. before summer 1415.

From the evidence I cannot place Hugh or Richard of Blurton in this tree with evidence.

Beauchamp’s pedigree is looking a bit flaky and I’m only two lines in…

More the next time.


1. Conroy,Gay.  Colclough Family Pedigree Chapter 3. p. 1. p. 20. John Colclough Document set.

2. Conroy,Gay.  Colclough Family History Chapter 8. Colclough, B.H.D. 1879.  John Colclough Document set.

3. Burke, Bernard Sir. (1879). A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland. London : Harrison. Pp. 336-340. : accessed 24 January 2020.

4. Conroy,Gay.  Colclough Family Pedigree Chapter 3. p. 1. p. 20. John Colclough Document set.

5. Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Edward III King of England. accessed 23 January 2020.

6. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. William Flower (officer of arms). : accessed 23 January 2020.

7. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Heraldic visitation. : accessed 23 January 2020.

8.Isogg Wiki. Generation length. : accessed 23 January 2020.

9. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Heraldic visitation. : accessed 23 January 2020.

10. Institute of Historical Research. History of Parliament Online. KEEN, John, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs. : accessed 24 January 2020.

11. Staffordshire Record Society. About Staffordshire Record Society. : accessed 24 January 2020.

12. Institute of Historical Research. History of Parliament Online COLCLOUGH, John (d.1420/1), of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hanley, Staffs. : accessed : 24 November 2020.

13. Ibid.

 14. Sidders, Lindsey C. (2008). Coming of Age and the Family in Medieval England.  Journal of Family History. 33 (1) pp. 41-60. : accessed 24 January 2020.

15. Institute of Historical Research. History of Parliament Online COLCLOUGH, John (d.1420/1), of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hanley, Staffs. : accessed : 24 November 2020.

16. Institute of Historical Research. History of Parliament Online. COLCLOUGH, William (d.c.1414), of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs. and Calverhall, Salop. : accessed 24 January 2020.

17.  Institute of Historical Research. History of Parliament Online COLCLOUGH, Hugh. : accessed 24 January 2020.

 18. Institute of Historical Research. History of Parliament Online COLCLOUGH, Richard, of Blurton, Staffs. : accessed 24 January 2020.

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