50 years of Family History Research

The Tattersfield Family Tree

An Account of 50 years of Family History Research


John Tattersfield (Born Batley, Yorkshire, in 1936)

Table of Contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Researches
  3. Origin of the Name TATTERSFIELD
  4. The Earliest Records
  5. Dewsbury Parish Church
  6. The Heckmondwike Family
  7. The York Family
  8. The Hull Family
  9. The London Family
  10. The Leeds Family
  11. The Lancashire Family
  12. Joseph Tattersfield, Oilcrusher of Mirfield
  13. A Note on Availability of Information
  14. Ways to Make Contact


The surname TATTERSFIELD is very rare. It seems extremely likely that we are all branches of one family. A study of available records points to West Yorkshire as the place where the family name originated, and to Dewsbury in particular.

From about 1770 to 1816 the name began to appear in other parts of England, notably in Heckmondwike (adjacent to Dewsbury), York, Hull, London, Leeds and East Lancashire. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries movements overseas took place, particularly to the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

Some 1056 TATTERSFIELDs were registered as born in England in the 161 years from 1837 to 1998; fewer than seven per year.

The 1881 census of England recorded 283 TATTERSFIELDs living at that time, of whom 243 were in Yorkshire. By county, these were divided as follows:

Yorkshire 243
Middlesex (London) 13
Warwickshire 6
Lancashire 19
Northants, Notts 2
TOTAL in England 283

The location of those in Yorkshire was:

Dewsbury, Batley, Thornhill, Soothill, Ossett 71
Heckmondwike, Liversedge 59
Mirfield 70
Huddersfield, Kirkheaton 3
Bradford, Pudsey 6
TOTAL within a radius of 8 miles of Dewsbury 209
York 14
Hull 9
Leeds 11
TOTAL in England 243

It is important to realise that places such as Heckmondwike and Mirfield are immediately adjacent to Dewsbury. The map below shows the relative positions in West Yorkshire of many of the places mentioned in this article.

Map of the area around Dewsbury in West Yorkshire

Map of the area around Dewsbury in West Yorkshire


An early written record of the Tattersfield family in Heckmondwike

I began actively studying the family tree in about 1955 and am still heavily involved. My searches have included the registers of births, marriages and deaths (from 1837), parish registers, non-conformist chapel registers, the International Genealogical Index (IGI – of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), census records, polling records, deeds, wills, monumental inscriptions, trade directories and other sources.

Over the years I have also made contact by visits, telephone and letters with many people who have or who had the surname TATTERSFIELD. Most were very happy to give me details about themselves and their immediate families, from which I was able to build up the overall picture. I am very grateful to all who have generously contributed their information.

At an early stage I was given a small notebook in which the descendants of JOSEPH TATTERSFIELD (1747-95) of Heckmondwike had been recorded for a few generations down to the 1870s in the immaculate handwriting of the period. The first page of this early historical record, listing JOSEPH’s marriage and two of his children, is shown in the picture to the right. The Heckmondwike family has proved to be extremely prolific and accounts for a high proportion of all the TATTERSFIELDs since the 1780s.

Of course, in recent years, the Internet has been a tremendous help. For example, every entry in the US Federal Censuses from 1790 to 1930, and in the UK Censuses from 1841 to 1901 is now available in the comfort of my home at the click of a button. It used to take hours to search through one census of a single town on microfiche in a library years ago.

As a matter of convenience, and to keep the original hand-plotted family trees down to a practical size, the family was plotted out on to separate CHARTS as follows:

1-4 Heckmondwike, Descendants of JOSEPH (1747-95)
5 York
6 Hull
7 London
8 Leeds
9 Lancashire
10 Early Dewsbury
11 Descendants of a Mirfield Marriage of JOSEPH, an oilcrusher (1769-1840)
12 Descendants of KESTOR (1761-1835)

This numbering system has been retained in this descriptive account and in the computerised data base which is in preparation.


Most books on surnames and their origins do not mention TATTERSFIELD at all, which is in itself an indication of the name’s rarety.

Some researchers have suggested that it is a “habitation name” associated with the village of Tatsfield in Surrey, England; and the surname TATELESFELD was apparently recorded in Surrey in 1253. This is said to be made up to the Old English personal name TATEL and the Old English FELD, meaning a field or open country. Another suggestion is that it is derived from the personal name TATHERE. If there is any truth in any of these interesting explanations, it is difficult to see why the name disappeared completely from the South of England and began to appear in Yorkshire in the seventeenth century.

Some family members I have spoken to have their own ideas. A Scottish origin has been suggested, for which I have found no evidence. Another interesting theory put forward is that it was a corruption of a Huguenot name which ended in “ville”. Again, there is a total absence of evidence.

Could it have been derived from “tenter field”? This was a patch of ground, common in West Yorkshire, where tenter frames were set out upon which finished cloth was stretched. The cloth was attached to the frame by “tenter hooks”, a phrase that has been absorbed into the English language.

There are many names starting with “TATTERS”. They include TATTERS itself, and TATTERS followed by various suffices such as EL, AL, ALE, ILL, DILL, LEY, HALL. The most common, of course, is TATTERSALL, which is a medieval family name (De Tattersall) and the name of a castle in Lincolnshire. TATTERSALL is commonly found to this day in Lancashire and the West part of Yorkshire. It is best known as the name of a major racing establishment. The possibility must exist that TATTERSFIELD is a variant of it. There are many instances in early records where the various suffices were clearly mixed up.

All-in-all I have not yet found convincing reasons for accepting any of the possibilities listed above.


The first record found of the name TATTERFIELD (without the ‘s’) was in the baptism register of ANNE, daughter of MARSHAELL TATTERFIELD in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, on 26th January, 1603. Unfortunately, this tantalising glimpse is a solitary record and no other events related to it have been found.

The second known record is the marriage of THOMAS TATTERSFIELD to Ann Appleby in Dewsbury Parish Church on 10th November, 1686. Study of the record shows that Ann was a widow aged about 48. The age and parentage of THOMAS are not known, and this could have been his second marriage. He died in 1706. There are no other events recorded in Dewsbury Parish registers that can be linked to THOMAS with certainty.


Dewsbury Minster and Parish Church, where early Tattersfield baptisms, marriages and burials took place.

The Dewsbury parish registers start in 1538 when Henry VIII ordered that such registers were to be kept in all the parish churches of the new Church of England. The Parish Church is shown on the left, as it appears today.

After the isolated marriage of THOMAS TATTERSFIELD in 1686, mentioned above, the next event in the register was the marriage of CHRISTOPHER TATTERSFIELD to Sarah Senior in the Parish Church on 14th September, 1712.

The relationship of CHRISTOPHER to THOMAS is not stated. As their marriages in the same church were 26 years apart, and as there were no other TATTERSFIELDs recorded in the church at that time, it seems very likely that CHRISTOPHER was a son of THOMAS.

The baptism and burial of CHRISTOPHER and Sarah are not known, and no other information about them has been found, except for the baptism of seven children, all recorded in the parish registers.

The descendants of CHRISTOPHER are shown on CHART 10. He had four daughters of whom two, and possibly three, married. He also had three sons, two of whom died young. The third, WILLIAM (1719-85), married twice and had five daughters and four sons, two of whom, JOSEPH (born 1747) and KESTOR (also called CHRISTOPHER and CASTOR, 1761-1835) passed on the family surname.

The descendants of KESTOR are shown on CHART 12. He married three times, his first two wives apparently being sisters. One of his sons, JAMES, moved to Lancashire in the 1840s. It is not certain whether any descendants of KESTOR still carried the surname of TATTERSFIELD after three generations.

JOSEPH, the other son of WILLIAM (whose surname was given as TATTERSLEY in JOSEPH’s baptism record!), married in 1768 and had a daughter SARAH baptised in Dewsbury Parish Church in 1769. No further record of his family is found in Dewsbury, but see Heckmondwike below and CHARTS 1-4.

In addition to the main Dewsbury family, descended from CHRISTOPHER as described above, there were other TATTERSFIELDs who married in Dewsbury Parish Church and who had their children baptised there, but their relationship to the CHRISTOPHER family is not at present known. They were:

THOMAS 30th December, 1770
DAVID 3rd December, 1771
SAMUEL 9th April, 1786
JAMES 27th November, 1788

Interestingly, these four all moved away from Dewsbury, between about 1799 and 1816, and started the TATTERSFIELD families in York (CHART 5), Hull (CHART 6), Leeds (CHART 8) and Lancashire (CHART 9) respectively, as briefly described below.

It is also interesting to note that records of the above start in each case with a marriage, rather than with a baptism or a burial. This may be because the people involved were non-conformist. Their chapels would have carried out baptisms and burials but their ministers would not have been authorised to officiate at marriages, which would therefore have taken place in the Anglican parish church. If this explanation is correct, the baptisms and burials have not been found in non-conformist records and may not still exist.


JOSEPH was baptised in Dewsbury Parish Church on 30th August 1747, and he married Sarah Carr on 7th October 1768. Their first child, also SARAH, was baptised on 16th May, 1769. As mentioned above, they then disappeared from the Dewsbury record.

Part of Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike, built about 1890 Part of Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike, built about 1840

However, a child called AMOS was baptised in Upper Chapel (Independent) in Heckmondwike on 22nd September, 1789, with parents JOSEPH TATTERSFIELD and Sarah. The baptism of MOSES followed in 1791. Though more direct information would be welcome, there is a good deal of circumstantial evidence that these were the last two of ten children of the JOSEPH and Sarah who married in Dewsbury. JOSEPH and Sarah themselves died in Heckmondwike and were buried in the Upper Chapel graveyard in 1795 and 1819 respectively. Until a few years ago, their gravestone and its inscription were in place. The two existing Upper Chapel buildings date from about 1890 (on the left) and about 1840 (on the right). Descendants of JOSEPH and Sarah were directly involved in the construction of these chapels and in worshipping in them.

Three typical TATTERSFIELD gravestones, photographed in the Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike graveyard Sadly, the older part of the Upper Chapel graveyard was exhumed a few years ago to make the area into a car park. The graves of JOSEPH and Sarah and many of their direct descendants were exhumed, the remains taken to the crematorium, and the gravestones taken away. Fortunately, before this desecration occurred, all of the monumental inscriptions had been recorded in 1980 by Dr Louis Ackroyd, one of whose ancestors was a TATTERSFIELD. The inscriptions of the TATTERSFIELD family headstones had been independently recorded by myself. Dr Ackroyd’s comprehensive list is lodged at the Society of Genealogists and elsewhere. The photograph to the right shows three typical TATTERSFIELD tombstones in the newer part of the graveyard, which has not been disturbed.

I initially plotted the descendants of JOSEPH and Sarah manually on to separate family trees for convenience of size as follows:

CHART 1 Sons of JOSEPH and Sarah called JOHN (1784-1856), WILLIAM (1785-1856) and MOSES (1791-1857) and their descendants.
CHART 2 Eldest son of JOSEPH and Sarah, called JOSEPH (1779-1851) and his descendants.
CHART 3 Youngest son of the JOSEPH in CHART 2, called GEORGE (1816-1887 – my great great grandfather) and his descendants.
CHART 4 The daughters of JOSEPH and Sarah, whose married names were Sarah Carr, Hannah Scatcherd, Patience Oddy, Nancy Taylor and Betty Day, and some of their descendants.

JOSEPH (1747-95) was a clothier. Most of his descendants were clothiers, blanket or cloth manufacturers or similar for many generations. Many branches of the TATTERSFIELD family remained in the woollen industry down to recent times.

JOSEPH’s was the first recorded will of a TATTERSFIELD. His assets were certified not to exceed £300.00. This suggests his trade as a clothier brought him a reasonable degree of affluence. He lived at The Heights, at the top of Kilpin Hill, Heckmondwike.

JEREMIAH TATTERSFIELD (1812-96), blanket manufacturer, grandson of JOSEPH (1747-95) The next generation lived at a time when woollen weaving was transformed from a cottage to a factory industry. The sons of JOSEPH were employers of men and women, typically 30 to 40 in number, as shown in the 1851 census. They were clearly very wealthy, in some cases lived in very large houses, and were pillars of Upper Chapel where some 150 of their descendants, husbands or wives have been buried.

As an example, JEREMIAH TATTERSFIELD, whose photograph is shown to the left, and who was a grandson of JOSEPH (1747-95), lived at a large stone house called ‘The Hollins’, off Kilpin Hill. The house is now demolished to make way for modern dwellings, but was in use for some years as a working mens’ club. This may give some idea of the size of the establishment. The photograph was kindly loaned by Mrs Ann Irwin, a great granddaughter of JEREMIAH.

At various times members of the family emigrated. The brothers JAMES WALKER TATTERSFIELD (1877-1970) and CLIFFORD TATTERSFIELD (born 1879), shown on CHART 2, went to New Zealand and established a mattress factory in Auckland. The TATTERSFIELD brand name is still in use.

ROBERT TATTERSFIELD (1854-1905), shown on CHART 2, took his family to Canada in about 1903. He died soon afterwards, whereupon his widow shortened her surname to FIELD. Family tradition suggests that she had “married above her station” and had not been well received by some of the TATTERSFIELD family! The descendants are still living in the Calgary area.

ROBERT’s older brother JEREMIAH (born 1844), shown on CHART 2, married Alma Monthan, who was from Stockholm, Sweden. They had five sons, born in the Dewsbury area, all of whom had Monthan as their middle name. They emigrated to Canada, then to the United States, and eventually to Arizona. The Davis Monthan Air Base is named after one of the sons, OSCAR, who was an aviator in World War I. He died in a bomber crash in Honolulu in 1924.

On CHART 3 two brothers JAMES WALKER TATTERSFIELD (born 1851, not to be confused with the JAMES WALKER who went to New Zealand) and PERCIVAL (1860-1925) founded Tattersfield & Company in Philadelphia. They were later joined in the business by their nephews GEORGE ARTHUR (1873-1936) and JOSEPH STANLEY (1876-1944). Many descendants still live in the Philadelphia area, including the West family. Descendants of JAMES WALKER TATTERSFIELD are now living in Mexico.

A word of caution! The widely-used International Genealogical Index (IGI) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints contains many inaccuracies concerning the early Heckmondwike family. Some entries are clearly duplicates and even triplicates and show dates that are incorrect by anything from a few days to a few years, with no discernible pattern.


The first TATTERSFIELD records in York were the marriages in St Mary, Castlegate of brothers JOHN and JOB in 1803 and 1804 respectively. Both were described in the baptism records of their children as being sons of THOMAS TATTERSFIELD, labourer, of Brotherton (East of Leeds). No such family can be found in Brotherton parish records. However, in Dewsbury Parish Church, as discussed above, a THOMAS TATTERSFIELD married Mary Crossley in 1770. Their children, apart from some who died as infants, were JOHN (born 1771), CHARLES (born 1773), JOB (born 1779) and possibly two daughters. It is confidently considered that the JOHN and JOB above were the same as the two who were married in York.

Both were watermen and they respectively had three and nine children who were variously watermen, bricklayers and labourers. A number of their descendants still live in York today.


The Hull family was started by MARK TATTERSFIELD who was the second son of DAVID TATTERSFIELD and Martha Hall who married in Dewsbury Parish Church on 3rd December, 1771. Unusually for the family, MARK was a soldier at one time, in the West Yorkshire Regiment. His wife Hannah had seven children. The first three were born in Maker (Cornwall), Leeds (Yorkshire) and Dover (Kent), and the last four in Hull, East Yorkshire. The details of MARK’s military record have not been found, but it seems that he was stationed on the South coast of England during the time when an invasion by the forces of Napoleon was feared. Baptism dates show that he settled in Hull some time between 1813 and 1815.

It is an interesting feature of the families who moved away from the Dewsbury area that a particular Christian name would be popular. In the Hull family, there were boys called DANIEL in four successive generations, and the name MARK appeared in three. These names were not used in other regional branches, except that there were two DANIELs in the Leeds family.

Descendants of Mark still live in the Hull area. At least one is believed to have emigrated to the USA.

Infant mortality was commonplace in Victorian England. Spare a thought, though, for JOSEPH and his wife Alice Maud Gibson who married in 1882. Five of their nine children did not live to their second birthday.


This family is different, at the present time, from the other regional families in two ways. Firstly the earliest reference to it is of a baptism rather than a wedding. The parents were JOHN TATTERSFIELD and Anne, and their seven children were all baptised in Independent (Congregational) chapels in the East of London. JOHN was a sailmaker of Cap Alley, Shadwell, presumably near the site of the present London Underground station of that name. He was mentioned as a grocer in 1777, and as a labourer at his death in September 1790.

Surviving children of JOHN and Anne included JOHN (1780-1831), who was listed as a sailmaker in Holden’s Triennial Directory of 1805 and 1808, and JAMES WARE (1787-1848), who was a fish dealer. The earliest known London baptism of a TATTERSFIELD was in 1774.

The second major difference is that no connection has yet been found between this family and Yorkshire, although it seems very probable that there was one. The search continues!

JAMES and SAMUEL were popular christian names in this family and a large number of the males were fishmongers.

One of JOHN’s grandsons, JAMES or JAMES WARE TATTERSFIELD, moved with his family to Leamington in Warwickshire in about 1843-45, where he and his sons continued as fishmongers. One of his daughters, MARION, married locally and then went with her husband to live in Broken Hill in Australia.

A son of JAMES, called HENRY, went to Dunedin, New Zealand, where he married and became a cabinet maker and builder. Some of his descendants still live in South Island, New Zealand, and, until recent years, had no knowledge of the Heckmondwike branch of the family, some of whom had gone to the Auckland area as described above.


SAMUEL TATTERSFIELD married Rachel Senior in Dewsbury Parish Curch on 9th April, 1786. Their first seven children were baptised in Dewsbury (three died in infancy) and the last two were baptised in Leeds, indicating that the family moved the eight-or-so miles to Leeds at some time between 1799 and 1803. SAMUEL died in Leeds in 1840, aged 81, after falling down stairs.

The use of the first name DANIEL for the next two generations suggests some linkage with the Hull branch of the family.

One of SAMUEL’s sons was JOHN, who was a schoolmaster in Huddersfield. His wife died early of English Cholera and they had only one daughter, FANNY. JOHN never re-married and ran a boarding school which was mentioned in trade directories of the time.

A combination over the years of a prevalence of daughters and the early death of many of the sons limited the expansion of the name TATTERSFIELD in the Leeds area, and latterly some have move away. However records suggest that some descendants still live in the area.


This branch was started by JOHN from Littleborough, Rochdale, Lancashire, who married Hannah Hollas in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1816. Their five (or possibly six) children were baptised in Sowerby in West Yorkhire.

For a long time it was a puzzle as to why a TATTERSFIELD at this time should have come from Lancashire. The answer seems to be that JOHN was described as a boatman or waterman. The first canal cut through the Pennine Hills was the Rochdale Canal, opened in 1798. It connected the existing canal system of Yorkshire with the Bridgewater Canal at Manchester. Its route passed through Rochdale, Littleborough, Sowerby, Halifax, Mirfield and Dewsbury, thus indicating that JOHN, though resident in Lancashire at the time of his marriage, could well have come from Yorkshire. In fact evidence from a will in 1838 strongly indicates that JOHN was the son of JAMES TATTERSFIELD and Mary Dransfield, who were married in Dewsbury Parish Church on 27th November, 1788. This JAMES was a witness at the wedding of THOMAS in Dewsbury in 1770, whose descendants became the York branch of the family.

Strong features of the Lancashire family were the use of ELLIS as a Christian name in three generations and the fact that a number of the men were tailors.

One of the ELLISes married and left his wife and two children after two or three years of marriage. She returned to her mother. Six years later he married again, apparently bigamously. He used a slightly different set of Christian names, but his signature on the two wedding certificates was clearly by the same hand! After one child was born, the second marriage broke up. Perhaps the “wife” discovered she was not lawfully married, because she married again. However, no later trace has been found of ELLIS!


The name JOSEPH was relatively common in the early Dewsbury and Heckmondwike families. In this case JOSEPH and SARAH, both called TATTERSALL, were married in Mirfield Parish Church on 12th March 1809. Later records give the surname as TATTERSFIELD. Though they both had the same surname, their respective parents have not yet been identified.

JOSEPH was described as an oilcrusher at his marriage and at his death. Both he and SARAH died in a workhouse, as did one of their daughters. Of their seven children, two, and possibly three, went to live near Glossop in Derbyshire and two were married in the parish church there.

The remainder of the family became centred on Gawthorpe, Ossett, adjacent to Dewsbury. It has been traced for five generations, down to the early part of the twentieth century. It is not known whether any descendants still live there.


The development of the TATTERSFIELD Family Tree is an ongoing process. The data bank I presently hold, and the various regional family trees that can be produced from it, are incomplete. It is hoped that they will be improved with further research.

Moreover, the data bank is likely to contain some errors, although considerable efforts have been made to avoid them.

The data bank contains information, mostly in the public domain, about people who are still alive or who have died recently and are remembered by their families.

As of December 2007, I have published, in the section of the website labelled “Tattersfield Trees”, the actual genealogical information I have gathered about our ancestors. However, each person believed to be living is simply marked as “Living” with no details supplied. In this way it is believed that the privacy of all living family members has been protected. Should anyone feel I have inadvertently shown details about a living person, please get in touch and I will remove them.

I shall however be very pleased to give information on a personal basis to anyone who wants it, and who has a direct connection with the TATTERSFIELD Family. I would strongly ask that material I give out should not be passed on or published in such a way that it gets “scooped up” in its incomplete state by any of the data agencies whose role it is to collect and disseminate such information.

Over the years, and particularly recently, I have concentrated on gathering and understanding early records of the family. At present the work is not up-to-date, and many TATTERSFIELDs born in England since 1984, whose names are available to the public on the Index of Registrations of Births, have not been put into the data bank nor identified within the known family structure.

It will therefore be very helpful if anyone responding to this website entry would please give me as full information about themselves and their branch of the family as they can, and for as far back in time as they are able. Dates and places of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials are very helpful, together with other matters of interest like occupation and main place of residence. Given such information I would expect to be able to connect each enquirer back to one of the regional family branches which I have briefly described above.


I would be happy to supply, without charge, a direct ancestry chart or other form of information depending upon the interests of those who make contact. I can be contacted in the following ways:

Telephone Phone or Fax +44 1233 634302
Postal Service Mr John Tattersfield


60, Faversham Rd




United Kingdom

E-mail john@tattersfield.net
Website For a simple way to contact me through the tattersfield.net website via an internet form, click here!

Fascinating as a study of family history is, it is even more satisfying when there are other interested people to share it with.

John Tattersfield

1st January, 2001

©John Tattersfield, 2001

Last corrected: 30th July, 2011

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