Date:January 01, 2014

Origins of the Shellaker Surname?


Evidence to support or disprove the theory

The Shelacres / Shellaker surname must have an origin – the surname did not just appear. It may  have been altered by differences when passed on verbally, and its original meaning may have been lost over the centuries. However, as I have discussed earlier, I believe the surname is unlikely tto have originated from an occupation or a personal characteristic and consequently I feel it is more likely to be related to the landscape or a placename, especially as we have the word -acre as part of the name.

The Theory cannot be proved.
The theory that the Shelacres / Shellaker  surname originated in Northumbria will never be proven – it could however be disproved if it is discovered the settlement of Shellacres was named after a farmer in relatively recent times.

To remain valid, the theory needs the settlement of Shellacres to have been in existence during the medieval period (480 AD to around 1500 AD) and as I have obtained a Will from 1567 AD of a manJohn Shellacare of Leziate in Norfolk, any southern migration from the settlement of Shellacres in Northumbria needs to have occurred prior to that date. Ideally to support the theory the settlement of Shellacres would have been in existence around 1100 AD, which is the period, after the Norman Conquest of 1066, that surnames started to become in common usage.

One task is to establish how far back in time that records prove the settlement of Shellacres existed. A relatively quick review of Shellacres in Northumbria on Google finds the earliest recording of the place is around 1805 (see below) but further research is needed of old maps and other records.

The Settlement of Shellacres in Recorded History (From Google and as at 2nd Jan 2016)
1881 – 3rd April – Census – Mary MOFFAT – recorded at Shellacres Farm, Twizell, Northumberland, England on the night of the 1881 Census.
1873 – James WOOD was a man born in 1873 in Shellacres Northumberland Norham as recorded on the 1901 Census.
1828 – A Benjamin BARTRAM is recorded as living in Shellacres (south of Norham) on Dec 02, 1828.
1820 -2nd September – ‘Obituary & Death Notices, mainly from the Newcastle Courant‎’HORSINGTON At Shellacres near Norham, where he had been on a visit, aged 66, Mr George HORSINGTON, of East Rainton, Durham”.
1806 – In the 1851 Census A woman named Jane GLAHAHN (Maiden name unknown), wife of William Glahahn is recorded as being from Shellacres in the Norham parish. This put her date of birth at Shellacres around 1806
1805 – In the 1851 Census for ‘Tilmouth Northumberland’. A 45 year old woman named Eleanor ARRIES (Maiden name unknown) is recorded as being from Shellacres in the Norham parish. This put her date of birth at Shellacres around 1805/6.


Castle Heaton and Shellacres
A Google search also revealS the proposed sale in 2011 of Castle Heaton and Shellacres Estate for an asking price of 11.5 million. Further details can be viewed via these links. Sunday Times  Right Move

One describes the property  of Castle Heaton and Shellacres’ as “a top quality residential, agricultural and sporting estate situated in a private and attractive setting on both sides of the River Till. The core is Castle Heaton House with a further 13 houses/cottages, two sets of farm buildings and also traditional steadings serving the highly productive farming enterprise. The estate sportings include a superb river valley pheasant shoot and salmon and sea trout fishing on the prolific River Till. The estate extends to about 1,229.07 acres in total.”

One future task will be to contact someone related to the estate to try to establish the history of the ‘Shellacres Estate’.

Domesday Book
Initially I thought I could review the Domesday book of 1086 AD to establish if the settlement of Shellacres existed in Norman times. If it did it would be a significant factor to support the theory that our family name could have originated in Northumbria BUT regrettably the domesday survey does not cover Northumberland and Durham or much of north-west England.

HOWEVER, in 1138 AD The Boldon Book was created.

Bolden_bookThis contains the results of a survey of the bishopric of Durham that was completed on the orders of Hugh du Puiset, Bishop of Durham.

It was designed to assist the administration of the vast diocesan estates and was similar to that of the Domesday Book in the previous century, covering the bishop’s lands in what was to become County Durham and other parts of the north east of England that, following the Norman Conquest, were liable to tax by the Prince-Bishop of Durham and not taxed directly by the King of England. It is the first survey undertaken north of the River Tees, where the king’s authority was never more than nominal.

Like the Domesday Book it is a account listing the labour, money and produce owed by standing custom to the Bishop. The areas of North Durham (Norhamshire) and Bedlingtonshire are included, but not those areas in the possession of other great northern landowners. The Bishop’s manor at Boldon was listed early in the survey, and later entries recorded customal dues “as at Boldon”, hence the name.

The Boldon Book survives in four manuscript copies, of which the oldest is the 13th-century copy that was among the Temple family manuscripts at Stowe House that are now in the British Library.

The significant part of the above extract from wikipedia is that the Boldon Book includes ‘Norhamshire’ – this is the area in which the settlement of Shellacres would be located if it existed in 1138 AD.

The Boldon Book is available in the original Latin text with an English translation by D. Austin, ed., Boldon Book: Northumberland and Durham in Phillimore’s edition of Domesday Book, vol. 35 (Chichester, 1982) and is available second hand on Amazon for £125 but I will establish if I can obtain a copy from the British Library.

This Website
One reason for creating this website was to obtain more information about our Shellaker ancestry by placing everything we know in the public domain with the hope that others, who are researching the Shelacres / Shellaker family and those who find the site on Google can contribute the fill the gaps in our collective knowledge.

So if anyone out there can supply any information on Shellacres in Northumberland please get in touch.

2nd January 2016