The Tindale-Tyndale Trail in Tynedale

This three-part essay explores:

  1. the background to the early history of Tin/Tyndales in the northeast
  2. the history of the name Tindale from the 800's
  3. The history of the name Tyndale from the 1200's to the time when the immediate forbear of the Translator is said to have left the northeast for Gloucestershire sometime in the mid-fifteenth century.

PART 1: Background and Early History


As a matter of geographical necessity the first Tyndales are assumed here to have their roots in the Tyne valley in the north of England; that is in Tynedale.

Whilst there remains a quantity of unresearched primary material of Northumberland families, despite incalculable losses, there is now a quantity of ordered secondary material, as shown in the Main Sources below. Only a few passages, however, are relevant to the present work and co-ordination and editing are necessary to focus the relevant information on Tin/Tyndale matters.

This secondary documentary material is 'honest' in the sense that it was not produced for the purposes of enhancing family names as has so often been the reason for genealogical research but in the interests of providing reliable recorded local history within which family histories figure. Failures and omissions, therefore, are not considered to be mischievous, but rather due to oversight; error in transcription; genuine mistakes; or loss of primary documents. These sources should be taken in good faith though with a critical eye due to any of the possible defects outlined above.

The spellings of Tindale and Tyndale are carefully and purposefully delineated here. They are both pronounced in the same way, with a short i/y as in 'pit'. This differs from Tynedale in which the first 'e' emphasises the 'y' with a wy sound, as from the river Tyne. It is possible that both Tindale and Tyndale may have been pronounced in earlier times in the same way as today's Tynedale, and that the difference between the two today is simply orthographic being the result of spelling by writers (clerks) from various ethnic origins and at different historical times. That the Celtic Britons of the Tyne valley and adjoining uplands received Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, French, Greek and Latin speaking clergy, within a span of less than a thousand years suggests that the written and spoken language(s) within the region became not only rich and varied but also at times culturally divisive before forming a recognizably English language. Even today, in our 'enlightened' age, the Geordie way of speaking is looked down upon by those who do not know better.

All accounts dealing with the life of the Translator presume without question that the spelling of the name is insignificant. Although Mozley (William Tyndale, 1937) relates that William Tyndale used Tindale (possibly, he suggests, in a Latin setting) and Tyndale (when he was in England), neither he nor anyone else has raised the question as to why the distinctive spelling of Tyndale should be in the frame at all. Is this because we are so used to seeing the river spelt Tyne? Commonly in the Middle English period the letters 'i' and 'y' were used interchangeably, perhaps even indiscriminately; but the significance of one family having their name spelt predominantly 'Tindale' and another family 'Tyndale' cannot be put aside without rather more consideration than has been accorded to date.

Here, I am concerned only with the Tin/Tyndales in the Tyne valley as revealed in the earliest records. This offering is tentative and cannot provide all the answers concerning the forebears of the Translator, but it may be possible to clear away. some of the accumulated dross and show where future research is most likely to find some illumination. Only by showing some of the background covering the years before the Conquest to the Wars of the Roses in the midfifteenth century will it be possible to place the history of the Tin/Tyndales in their appropriate setting.

Official records of births, marriages, and deaths are most commonly found without any reference to contemporary events which would now be considered to be of historical significance; furthermore the focus of historical evaluations has broadened and shifted since the Victorian age when much research on early family histories, including Tyndale, was undertaken. In this present study the Conquest, by way of illustration, impacts upon people and families in ways which would hardly have been worthy of consideration to many historians of earlier ages. The administration of taxation imposed from London had the effect of requiring people and property to be properly identified by name so that taxes could be calculated and obtained; the tax collectors and other officials following the Conquest were mostly of Norman origin, bringing with them their own culture and ways of doing things, and their own language. Some of the effects of this will be seen in Part 2 Part 2) and Part 3.

The name Tyndale (so spelt) was 'assumed' by a William, son of John, son of Joel in Corbridge, a small town some 5 miles to the east of Hexham and outside the area usually attributed to the lordship of Tindale (discussed here in Part 1, and the use of the name family Tindale in Part 2 Part 2). Joel is thought to have been a Breton and was a tax collector and reeve of Corbridge. Here, then, the family name Tyndale is first encountered, some time after about 1240. How this family came into existence and their subsequent history to the time of the Wars of the Roses is the subject of Part 3.

The tumultuous history of the north of England above the Tees, the Border country and southern Scotland can only be broadly sketched here, but it is important in indicating the extreme conditions affecting the lives of individuals. It is essential for any understanding of growth and change in families in a complex region such as the Tyne valley. We are dealing with real people, not merely names in registers or official records, yet that is how they have come down to us with but few exceptions. Aspects of social and political history, geography and language, combine to display how the Tin/Tyndales came into existence, how the spelling took on variants, and possible reasons for migrations.

Because the Tyne valley offers a convenient east-west route for invasion, settlement, and trade; and because it forms a natural division between north and south, the area has been subjected to considerable upheavals involving several peoples — Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings (Danes and Norwegians), Normans, Scots, and not least the English. Then, as now, 'the north' is frequently perceived from the standpoint of London as a far-flung province and definitely peripheral (as exemplified on motorway signposting); however. the view from within the Tyne valley is of a region at the focus of activities north-south and east-west (to Ireland and to the Baltic) often hostile, but always vigorous. How some of this history impacted on society and language as it affects Tin/Tyndale wilI be discussed later.

In seeking the possible beginnings of the Tyndale family in the Tyne valley, Northumberland, it is necessary to tread warily, and it is simply lack of space which limits perpetual repetition of cautionary phrasings.

The Placename of Tindale

Confusion is noticeable in the use of the word Tindale in historical accounts, particularly between the placename and the holding of land with or without a title. Tindale is the name of a geographical district; the name of a liberty (or regality, or franchise, or lordship); said to have been a barony; and a family name. Tyne valley is used here in its modern sense.

The unprepossessing hamlet of Tindale is situated in the county of Cumberland, very close to the borders of Northumberland and Durham, and adjacent to ancient Hexhamshire old 'peculiar' of the bishopric of York. It is set on the lower slopes of the north western fringe of the rugged Pennine hills, overlooking the Tyne Gap with Wark forest and Cheviot hills to the north. Close-by are Tindale Fells and Tindale Tarn, and the South Tyne is about five miles to the east. Its strategic importance is evident on a topographical map. The hamlet of Tindale seems to have had very little significance in the history of the region, whereas the liberty of Tindale figures strongly. The hamlet was never a 'seat' of the lordship; it seems simply to have provided the name for ancient geographical place-name reasons.

The Liberty and Lordship of Tindale

The area of land with properties comprising the liberty of Tindale was located astride the borders of present-day Cumberland and Northumberland, comprising principally the valleys of the North and South Tyne and the stretch of the Tyne connecting them-that is, from Haltwhistle to Dilston, but excluding Hexham.

Long before William imposed his will in England, the heir-apparent to the crown of Scotland was also prince of Cumberland which included title to the lordship of Tindale-in the same nay that the Prince of Wales is heir-apparent to the present United Kingdom. This lordship appears to have been first held by Alpin in about 833. The boundary of the lordship at this time is not known (if it ever was clearly defined), but it probably did not include the parts of present-day Northumberland which were later an integral part. The lordship was held under the inheritance laws of tanistry, and the Scots claimed it for many generations after the Conquest. The kings of Scotland and England through the house of Stewart are descended from the line of the lords of Tindale, and the present monarch is also descended from the house of Wessex through the female line. Hence, some of the considerable interest by earlier genealogists in attempting to trace the pedigrees of the Tin/Tyndales.

An outline history of the lordship of Tindale is indicative —on a local scale— of the widespread state of social turmoil in the English north from before the times of the Norman invasion to beyond the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and the uniting of the Scottish and English crowns under James VI of Scotland, James I of England in 1603. These aspects of the wider history impinge on the early history of the Tin/Tyndale lineage and may provide some insights as to when, how, and perhaps why, the name (in whatever form) came to be found in other parts of England by the 1400's. Many dates in national and regional history -have resonances in the central topic discussed here; it is not too fanciful to point to general connections even if specifics cannot yet asserted.

Essential Pre-Norman Historical Context of the Region

Before the Roman legions arrived in England in A.D. 43, Britain is thought to have been populated by Celtic tribes which in differentiated forms extended across Europe to the near east. During the 300s Rome established Britannia Secunda in the northern provinces and sought to govern the region mainly if not entirely from York. Although there was trade north and south of the Hadrian's Wall (begun about 120), the Picts breached the Wall several times in the late 300s, apparently with assistance from Germanic tribes. The Romans withdrew from Britain around 410, leaving a transformed but physically vulnerable England; and with present-day Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall still largely Celtic and with powerful family and other connections to the Celtic peoples of the western fringes of France. What is often overlooked is that the north of England above at least the river Tees (that is, including Durham) also retained a hardy and persistent Celtic inheritance despite later invasions and settlement—which survives, less overtly. even today.

By the early 400s Romanized Britons and Celts notably in Wales were compiling records of their ancestors, and by the 700s fanciful pedigrees depicted origins back to Adam. The earliest written records date from the 800s. When the Germanic tribes of Angles and Saxons arrived in force on British shores they brought their own pagan genealogies, tracing their origins back to the Woden. Apart from the highly restricted use of runes and oghams neither Celts nor Germanic tribes were literate, but Roman writing survived and was subsequently adapted to express in written form the Celtic and Germanic languages-and was mightily transformed in the process.

The Anglo-Saxons introduced an aristocratic hierarchy over the remaining Celts who had not been driven west to Wales (mainly) and adapted their royal pedigree on Christianization to include Adam by way of Seth, son of Noah. That Adam (as in Adam de Tindale-see Part 2 Part 2) was a commonly found name in the north for generations after the Conquest tells much about the survival of Celtic life-and not only in the lower (conquered) classes.

By the mid-500s the North Humbrians became established between the Humber and the Forth in the name of two kingdoms, Bernicia and Deira, the division between the two kingdoms being along the Tees.

Early in the 600s Bernicia had been constituted into the powerful Anglo-Saxon heptarchal kingdom of Northumbria, mainly through strategic marriages to daughters of the Deiran and Pictish (present-day Scottish) royal families. The Picts, perhaps uniquely in Europe at that time, still practised matrilinear succession. As will be seen, different systems of inheritance (of property and title) figure prominently in the medieval north England and in Scotland; tanistry and primogeniture being the main forms. Inheritances in the Tin/Tyndales lines reflect that for the Scottish crown, whose heirs were lords of Tindale, and are no less complex, and may have been a factor in the remarkable events in the family history at the time of the Wars of the Roses.

The Roman Christian embassy under Augustine from 597 succeeded in the south, but Paulinus who led the northern mission in the late 620s was forced to flee the north in about 633, and later York where he was archbishop. The first permanent Christianization was from the Irish connection by way of Iona in about 635.

Northumbria came to the forefront of European culture in the late 600s through the 700s with many names of considerable resonance including Bede, Willibrord, Wilfrid, Aidan and Cuthbert; and Alcuin of York became eminent in the court of Charlemagne in the late 700s. Craft work in jewelry and enamelling especially are renowned today as are the Lindisfarne Gospels for their exquisite workmanship. Such outstanding works were not isolated instances but part of a comprehensive, if short-lived, movement. But the so-called Northumbrian Renaissance was brought to an abrupt conclusion when the monastic island of Lindisfarne was sacked in the first Viking (Danish) onslaught of 793; though the main invasions were in the succeeding century when York was taken in 866. Meanwhile the Norwegian Vikings had imposed their will in taking Dublin in 841. The effect the pagan Vikings had on Christianity and culture in the north was devastating. Whilst the Anglian and Saxon invasions of the Tyne and to the north had been from the sea, the Danes, now established in what had been Deira, occupied the former Bernicia by land from the south.

Whilst Bede (writing in 731) used the recently produced term Northumbria to indicate the greater kingdom of Bernicia with Deira, the term has also been applied when Deira alone was intended. Similarly the term Vikings has embraced Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes but often is used to denote specifically the Norwegians. Their cultures are often hard to distinguish, so caution in conclusions is necessary. What appears to have been the case is that Danes settled extensively north of the Tyne (as well as north of the Humber from their base at York), whereas Norwegians raided but did not permanently settle in significant numbers north of the Tees. But they did so most strikingly under Halfdan in 874 when the community of St Cuthbert was forced to flee Norham (near Lindisfarne) for Carlisle with the body and relics of their Saint (later finding rest at Chester-le-Street from 883, then Ripon from 995, and finally Durham from 999). From the late 800s the old kingdom of Northumbria was divided into a Danish kingdom with its headquarters at York, and an Anglo-Saxon kingdom based on Bamburgh extending as far south as the Tees. Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland were never a part of the Danelaw which ceased at the Tees. This was the northern extent also of the Domesday Book records.

In about 918 the Vikings under Ragnall came from Ireland, invading by way of the Clyde, routed the Scottish and Northumbrian opposition at Corbridge (lying in the heart of Tin/Tyndale lands), and went on to take York from the Danes. Scotland was again invaded from the south in about 933. This Hiberno-Northumbrian kingdom lasted to 954 when Athelstan the Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex took the Viking kingdom based at York. Northumberland was now in the hands of hereditary Anglo-Saxon earls, it being no longer a separate kingdom. Extensive territory in Cumbria was ceded to the Scots in 945 and Lothian was ceded in 975, bringing the northern boundary to the Tweed.

This was the position until 1041 when the Anglo-Danish kings of England replaced the line with one of their own, namely Siward who was already earl of York-he was now effectively earl of the two ancient kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, and subservient to the Anglo-Danish kings. Siward, in 1054 and under the command of Edward the Confessor, invaded Scotland with the purpose of restoring the throne to Malcolm 111 (Canmore) then held by the usurper Macbeth. Although the battle fought at Dunsinane in Perthshire was not entirely decisive, Macbeth was defeated and he contrived his escape from the battlefield. This was the battle immortalised by Shakespeare in the dramatic tragedy whose name must not be spoken.

The Lordship of Tindale After the Conquest

Northumbria survived into medieval times comprising numerous privileged enclaves where the king's writ did not run and providing a haven for people seeking refuge—often for criminal activities, sometimes for resisting political authority. The most important of these enclaves were the palatinate of Durham and the liberties of Redesdale and Tindale.

The geographical situation of the liberty of Tindale shows it to be a potential buffer-zone, or rather a perpetual war-zone, between the Scots (Scots, Norwegian Vikings, Cumbrians) to the west and north, and the English (Northumbrians centred at Banburgh, Danes and Wessex based at York) to the cast and south. It was located strategically across the borders of Cumbria and Northumbria at the Tyne Gap. The Pennines and the Cheviots were virtually impenetrable without direct approval of the local warlords (families or clans); indeed it seems that remnants of earlier Celtic kingdoms held sway in these uplands. Whilst there are many castles in the area these are mainly of later date, and it is perhaps puzzling why greater defensive structures were not erected between, say Haltwhistle and Corbridge. The answer may lie in the ultimate power of the indigenous inhabitants of the uplands or Border country who were capable of circumventing any static structure which would have required regular soldiers for maintenance and supply; but also there was no great wealth to make it worthwhile for the crown (Scottish or English) to defend on a permanent basis. The upland region has long been renowned for providing horses and ponies to the crown for warring at home and abroad; their most valuable sources of their albeit modest wealth also provided, then, great mobility. The natives were always restless, did not like interference from outsiders, and could also move swiftly over dangerous ground and at night. Much of the warfare in this region from the earliest times outlined here and until after 1603 was guerilla in nature; was family based, but without a greater cause than survival and selfpreservation. Historically the liberty of Tindale was a Chicago (gangster families), Corsica (feuding families), Belgium (geographically vulnerable), and the American Wild West all rolled into one.

In a piece of purple prose Hodgson expounds on the franchise of Tindale about this time:

Though no gracious star shines on page containing record or tradition respecting the origin of the franchise of Tindale, nor voice rises on either side of the aera of the Conquest to tell, in authentic terms, how the kings of Scotland became chief lords of it; yet conjecture, ever fertile in her resources, can discover probabilities sufficiently profound and broad to build the superstructure of their title upon.

Scottish title to the sceptred lordship of Tindale including the Northumberland parts, probably originated in the time of Edward the Confessor (1042-66) with the marriage of king David I of Scotland with Maud, daughter of Waltheof and grand-daughter of Siward, both great Danish earls of Northumberland. Waltheof (by way of marriage to Judith, niece of the Conqueror) was also earl of Huntingdon and of Northamptonshire; this may have nothing at all to do with any future history of the Tin/Tyndales but it is noteworthy nonetheless as that name occurs in Northamptonshire at an early date. There may have been a line or route of feudal service connecting the franchise of Tindale to the lands and properties of these two earldoms which may have afforded a path for people in Tindale to follow or be compelled to travel.

Although William claimed England, the Scots were not keen to readily give up the Border country—including the lordship of Tindale. The regality of Northumbria had an anterior legitimacy based on the ancient kingdom and the more recent earldom of Northumbria, and it was more easily allowed some latitude because of its distance from London and the proximity of the warfaring Scots. William therefore prudently endorsed the earldom whilst demanding allegiance, having established his presence there in the 'harrying of the north'. Whether this was the 'scorched earth' policy to reduce the value of the land to invaders as some commentators believe is another matter. The first written appearance of Northumberland in the contracted form of the modern county occurs in 1065.

Malcolm III (ca. 1031-93) was the son of Duncan who was slain by Macbeth in 1040, and spent his formative years with his uncle, earl Siward in Northumberland. He married Margaret who had been born in Hungary, and had five sons, four of whom succeeded him—Duncan, Edgar, Alexander I (ca. 1077-1124, married the natural daughter of Henry I of England) and David I (ca. 1080-1153, king from 1124). Malcolm III invaded Northumberland five times between 1061 and 1093, in which Year he was slain at Alnwick.

In the right of his wife Matilda, daughter of Waltheof and Maud, king David I of Scotland had a claim on the earldom of Northumberland which king Stephen disputed. An agreement was reached in 1135, but David took to force and ravaged Northumberland, but was roundly defeated at the battle of Standard, near Northallerton, in 1138. A treaty between Stephen and David, signed at Durham in 1139 allowed the claim by David to the earldom of Northumberland as heir to earl Waltheof But just to compound the complexity, it was agreed that the barons of Northumberland might do homage to David's son Malcolm IV (as tanist heir), but that fealty was due to Stephen. Formally, now, the heir to the Scottish crown was recognised by the king of England as earl of Northumberland.

There were two earls between 1139 and 1157 at which time Henry II took the earldom of Northumberland into his own hands from Malcolm IV (who was only 16), compensating the Scottish kings with the lordship of Tindale and lands in Cumberland. The family name of Tindale (in the form de Tindale) first comes to our notice following the introduction of Norman administration in the region at just this time (see Part 2).Part 2

William (the Lion and brother of Malcolm IV, whom he succeeded in 1165) was the first lord of Tindale in this renewed line, which was subsequently to include John Balliol and Robert (the) Bruce between 1290 and 1329. In 1296 and 1297 William Wallace raided Corbridge and other settlements in the area in which the family of Tyndales resided, and a little later Edward II set about bringing Scotland to heel only to be defeated by Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314. War was virtually continuous during that century through to the early 1400s, with the Scots reaching deep into England and the English well into the highlands. Where anyone thought the border was in practice was often by guesswork, whatever the strength of claims on each side;- certainly so far as the ordinary folk were concerned the border as such was of little moment to them-except as to whom claimed taxes, and that depended on actual authority. As in the times of the division of the ancient kingdom by the Romans, every family had relatives on both sides of any border the authorities cared to delineate.

It is sometimes unclear whether the lordship 'belonged' to the Scottish or English (or Northumbrian) throne, because being a franchise, liberty, or privileged enclave, it was 'traded' on paper. To rule or govern the area as an outsider such as the Normans or at other times the Scots (their headquarters were well to the north at Strathclyde and elsewhere) was well nigh impossible until the unification of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603; and this after three centuries of almost continual warfare and civil strife subsequent to William Wallace's devastating excursions in the late 1290s. These were the heydays of the Border Reivers when so many of the famous Scottish and Border names came to the fore.

The lordship of Tindale was taken by Edward I on the death of Alexander III of Scotland in 1286, which prompted an upsurge in Scottish nationalism (if that is not too modern a term) led by Wallace but with John Balliol and/or Robert Bruce at the official head. Later Edward I restored the liberty to Balliol, who in turn granted the liberty of Wark in Tindale to Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham, upon whose death in 1311 the English crown resumed possession.

Subsequently remaining with the crown the lordship was granted out to many individuals, until James I of England finally disposed of it to George Home, lord Home of Berwick, afterward earl of Dunbar. When he died in 1611 he left two daughters as coheiresses, and the manor, or lordship, of Wark in Tindale (a major portion of the lordship of Tindale) passed to the earl of Suffolk, who sold it to Francis Radcliffe in 1665 who thus became possessed of considerable lands in Tindale as he was also baron of Dilston, and viscount of Langley, in addition to being the earl of Derwentwater. All these lands, titles and properties were confiscated from James Radcliffe, earl of Derwentwater, when he was attainted and then beheaded at Tower Hill, London, for his part in the Jacobite uprising of 1715. They were eventually granted to the Commissioners of the Greenwich Hospital, and the manor of Wark was sold by them to the duke of Northumberland, who retains the property to the present time.

Langley and Dilston figure prominently in the history of the Tindales and Tyndales, as will be seen in Part 2 and Part 3. The tiny post-Reformation recusant chapel at Dilston still exists, and in a small window recess a spray of fresh flowers is laid each day alongside a small notice referring to the 'true King'.

Bruce Marsden

Main Sources

John Hodgson, A History of Northumberland, Part ii in three volumes, for the Antiquarian Society of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1827, 1832, 1839. [John Hodgson was Secretary of the Society, but at his death in 1845 this work devoted to parochial history was uncompleted.]

A History of Northumberland, published for the Northumberland County History Committee, 15 volumes (Newcastle upon Tyne 1883-1940). This continued Hodgson's work to include parishes of the entire county.

John Hodgson Hinde, A History of Northumberland, Part I, for the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, (Newcastle upon Tyne 1858).

Margaret F. Moore, The Lands of the Scottish Kings in England, London 1915.

Kenneth Jackson, Language and History in Early Britain, University of Edinburgh Press, 1953.

W. Percy Hedley, Northumberland Families, in two volumes., for The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, vol I, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1968-70.

The sources for histories of the Border region are extensive, the following being a useful and accessible selection:

A.A.M. Duncan, Scotland. The Making of the Kingdom, Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1975.

P.H. Sawyer, From Roman Britain to Norman England, Methuen & Co., London, 1978.

William E. Kapelle, The Norman Conquest of the North, University of N Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1979.

Frank Musgrove, The North of England, A History.---Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1990.

Nigel Pennick, The Secret Lore of Runes and other Ancient Alphabets, Rider, London,1991.

Richard Lomas, North-East England in the Middle Ages, John Donald, Edinburgh, 1992.

Regional GeographyMap 1: Regional Geography

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