The Cheesbrough/Cheesebrough Family

    Its Historical Background.

    The English Cheesbrough (Cheesebrough) family has been based mainly in the county of Yorkshire since the 16th century and my own records go back to Roberti

    Cheesbrough b.1586 in Rothwell Yorkshire and his wife Dorothy Booth. I have also found branches of the family in the mid to late 16th century in Lincolnshire, Cumbria

    and Northumberland from where I have reason to believe the name originated. The name subsequently spread to many parts of the world with a large and influential branch in Connecticut USA founded in 1630.

    I am part of the Yorkshire family and from being a small child I had often thought it strange that we had two different spellings of the Cheesbrough surname in our

    particular family group. i.e. Cheesebrough and Cheeseborough. I decided to settle the matter by obtaining a copy of my late grandfather’s birth certificate and this gave

    his name as Herbert Cheesbrough, born 1880 in Methley Yorkshire. His parents were John Cheesbrough & Martha Taylor also from Yorkshire and this left little doubt that the original and correct spelling is Cheesbrough. The errors might be due to the fact that Herbert could not read or write, as he managed to avoid attending school and started full time work at a very early age, or as my father believed, they had to spell the name in the way prescribed by their teachers or risk a caning. Herbert’s six surviving children left school at 14 years of age and the boys joined their father in the coalmines of North East Derbyshire.

    I am deeply indebted to Gerald & Freda Lawson for their considerable help with my research into the genealogy of the Cheesbrough family and anyone seeking links with families in Yorkshire would be well advised to pay their excellent Yorksgen site a visit. In addition to a vast amount of data on the Cheesbrough’s they also offer many valuable links to other sites. For those wishing to explore the American connections I can recommend the Larry Chesebro’ web pages which can be found at they contain a wealth of information with many downloads.


    Origins of the Cheesbrough Surname.

    One of the most exciting aspects of family history is to trace the origins of a surname. What is written here is intended to be of some assistance to anyone carrying out his or her own research into the surname but it may be subject to change in the light of further evidence. A number of resources easily available in a local reference library indicate that Cheseburgh (the earliest form of the name) is a habitation name. Consulting the Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names under the reference Cheeseburn will show a reference to earlier forms of the name Cheseburgh dated 1286 and1293 also Chesborne in 1536.

     It is helpful to look in the abbreviation section to find more detail of the documentary sources which are given as, Ch=Charter Rolls, QW=Placita de quo Warranto and

    BBH the Black Book of Hexham. Reference to the Dictionary of English Surnames by Reaney and Wilson and the Dictionary of Surnames by Hanks and Hodges includes the Cheseburgh 1286 reference.

     The Access to Archives website is also very helpful. Under Swinburne Manuscript Vol 5, 13th - 19th Century’s item: Grant - ref. ZSW/5/80 - date: 12 Jan 1568 there is a reference to a Chesbrough Grange. By 1668 two documents in the same catalogue use the spelling Cheseburne and another Reference: ZSW/5/93 Bond Creation

    dates: 27 Apr 1668 uses Chesborne. The location is now known as Cheeseburn, but in the past the spelling varied and evolved.

    Keys to the Past is an excellent website which gives considerable detail about the history and Archaeology of Northumberland and Durham. More information can be found there. Cheeseburn was a Grange owned by Hexham Priory. Cheeseburn is also the site of a deserted medieval village which by 1379 was let to four tenants. The website invites direct enquiry by anyone wishes to research in further detail in to the sources upon which some of the information is based.

    The oldest known spelling form of the surname seems to be Cheseburgh. A document dated 20 June 1453 on Access to Archives will show the name of a Henry

    Cheseburgh who was deputed by a private charter to receive rents of some land buildings rents and services in Glastonbury on behalf of Roger Lewkenore and Nicholas Husee, knights, Robert Hyberden and Richard Philip.

     It is not easy to be certain as to the exact meaning of the name. Chese can be an older way of spelling the word cheese and dates back to Anglo Saxon times. There is

    also a Norman French word chese meaning to choose. It could also relate to a gravelly location Cheeseburn is bounded by a river to the north there could be a correlation. There are other place name examples where this applies e.g. Chesil derives from ceosol or cisel. An interesting comparison of the name Cheseburgh can be made with the surname Chisholm. This is a name originating from the Borders the earliest reference to it is to a John de Chesehelme in a papal bull of 1254. One theory suggests that the name means choose meadow and another suggests it could mean of a waterside meadow suitable for making cheese. The problem is that one word can have several meanings Burgh is generally used in the sense of an earthwork or fortified town.


    The American Cheesbrough's

    William Cheesbrough was a Puritan b.1594 in Tattershall, Lincolnshire and one of our most famous ancestors who left his home in Boston, Lincolnshire in the spring of 1630 because of religious persecution in order to start again in the New World. Despite great hardship, suffering and the loss of several of his children he is remembered today as one of the founders of the state of Connecticut. This account is written by one of his descendants in 1901.

    "WILLIAM CHEESBROUGH, the first settler of English lineage in the town of Stonington, Connecticut was born in England in the year of our Lord, 1594. The place of his nativity and the names of his parents cannot with certainty be determined. The probabilities are, that he was born in or near Boston, Lincolnshire, where he is known to have had his residence some eleven or twelve years prior to his emigration to America in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

     The home of the Chesebrough family was in the eastern counties of England, and the name occurs in the public registries of Wills in the County of Norfolk, which adjoins Lincolnshire. Sarah Chesebrough, whose name stands No. 78 on the roll of the First

    Church of Boston, Mass was doubtless a passenger with William on the ship Arbella, and is, thought to have been his mother. His wife, Anna, and three surviving children of the eight that had been born to him, the youngest, Nathaniel, an infant in arms,-came with him in the same company. The Arbella, a ship of three hundred and fifty tons, whereof Captain Peter Milborne was master, received its name "in honour of the Lady Arbella," wife of Isaac Johnson, Esq., one of the more prominent personages among the passengers. This ship was one of a fleet of fourteen vessels with eight hundred and forty passengers, comprising the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It set sail from Cowes, Isle of Wight, on Tuesday, March 30, 1630, and was termed the "Admiral of the fleet, for the reason partly, that it was the staunchest and best furnished of the vessels and partly perhaps, as Savage in his notes in Winthrop's Journal suggests, that it was owned by and carried " the principal people' of the Colony, including Johnson, Winthrop, Coddington, Dudley, Bradstreet and Saltonstall with their respective families among others."

    Extracted from the work of Rev. Amos S. Chesebrough, of New Hartford, Conn. March 5, 1901

    Further details of the Winthrop Fleet can be found at The Winthrop fleet and the pilgrim father's


    The Cheesbrough Family of Penrith: Master Clockmakers.

    They were known to be working in the town of Penrith in Cumberland as early as the mid -16th century. Aaron was the father and the sons were John and Aaron. The designs on some of their clocks show that they were possible a Quaker family or that the clocks were made for Quaker clients. They are now regarded as a major name in English clock making during this period with many of their fine timepieces still existing in private collections and demanding very high prices. This entry found in the Penrith parish register probably refers to them

    ‘1559 Aug. 5th Mathew Cheisbroughe Buried’

    Aaron is thought to be the first domestic clockmaker in Cumberland and was well known in 1686 when his son John was born and in 1699 when his daughter Mary was baptized. He married Jane Clement on November 10th 1706 following the death of his wife Catherine who is believed to have fallen ill after the birth of their son Aaron in 1702. Jane was the daughter of the renowned London clockmaker William Clement and probably Aaron learned many of his advanced techniques from him.

    This reference to them can also be found in the Penrith records;

    In 1700 Bishop Nicholson paid out to Aaron Cheesbrough 3s. 6d.

    In 1712 to Aaron Cheesbrough for the new clock, £16.

    The latter is probably payment for the replacement church turret clock at Penrith shown below


    The original more elaborate timepiece is described thus;

    ‘There is also on the church at Penroth a fine clock which has several motions- there are the Starres and Signes; there was the Encrease and Changes of ye Moone by a

    Darke and Golden side of a little Globe.’

    Following the death of Aaron in December 1749 his son John went on to make many fine clocks. John was buried on May 31st 1771, aged 85. There are number of later

    clocks signed Aaron Cheesbrough, Penrith, which were made by the son, Aaron.


    The Groves Bros.Bioscope Show

    My paternal grandmother was Ada Groves and she told me on several occasions about her brother Albert, and his 'Magic Lantern' show. Born in the 1880's, we were told

    that he was a self made millionaire and made most of his money as a mining engineer sinking new coal mines in Australia. He was obsessed with cinematography and owned cinemas in the Leeds area. His retirement project of a traditional travelling cinema show became quite famous and he was well known throughout the North of England and is regarded as one of the last travelling showmen and a pioneer of early cinematography.
    I remember him visiting us as kids in his Rolls Royce and giving us all half-a-crown each. This account was written by Albert.



    The travelling Showmen who visited fairs in the period 1890-1914 were the pioneers of the cinematograph world. These people played a very important role in the history of mass entertainment and no one should ever underestimate the part they played in bringing this medium of entertainment to the people.

    The bioscope shows began towards the very end of the reign of Queen Victoria and drew to a close at the time of the First World War. The travelling cinemas began to go out with the erection of hundreds of permanent picture houses up and down the country.

    One of the earliest shows was that of Harry Ashington, known as 'Yorkshire Bob', who came from Drighlington and who travelled the Yorkshire area with a marionette and film show in the late 1890's. Another Yorkshire show was that of Wm. H. Marshall, of Bradford, for whom the writer worked as projectionist for many years and from whom

    showmen who had bioscope shows were The Asplands, Pat Collins, James Creighton, James Corrigan, Hollands, Thurstons, Col. Clark, Anderton and Rowlands, to

    name but a few. The grandchildren of these people ,still visit our fairs.

    The showmen would buy their films at the beginning of each season for at that time film renting was unknown. These early films were made at Walton-on-Thames, by

    such people as Cecil Hepworth, an example of whose work will be shown at the rally. Other well known makers were Walter Barker also George Jackson, who was well known for his comedy and short drama films. The Yorkshire firm, Frank Mottishaw's Sheffield Photo. Co. made what was probably the first film of Dickens's Novels-`Oliver Twist' and `Scrooge'-in 1904. The first `Westerns' were made in England and many showmen treated them as a very novel idea and kept wondering how long this novelty would last: here we are 60 years on and they are still with us just as popular today as they were in those days

    Some showmen introduced sound effects to create a more realistic atmosphere and employed an effects worker who would work behind the screen. Between 1906-08

    some showmen introduced sound films, the equipment was made by `Gaumont Chronophone.' Records were used in conjunction with the projector, amplification was unknown, but the idea was never developed until years later. Showman John Proctor had a collection of `singing pictures' which was one of the finest to be seen, he travelled around Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and. South Yorkshire. Artists such as Harry Lauder, Harry Tate, Stiffy' Weldon and George Formby senior were seen to be singing, their songs of the day.

    he obtained-the Lumiere projector (made in 1896) in 1912,when he left the travelling cinemas to set up as a cinematograph engineer. Amongst the other well known


    For further information regarding the Cheesbrough family name and for details of how to access my extensive Cheesbrough database you can email me at


    I will attempt to reply to all enquiries as time permits.

    Howard Cheesbrough 2016