The Harringtons


John R. Schuerman



The Harringtons are medieval baronial ancestors of Peter Worden I who lived in northwest England.  The descent to Peter Worden is as follows:


1. Eldred

2. Baron Ketel of Kendal

3. Orm = Gunnilda

4. Osulf de Flemingby[1]

5. Robert de Harrington = Christiana (during the reign of Richard I, 1189-1199)

6. Thomas de Harrington

7. Michael de Harrington

8. Sir Robert de Harrington, d. abt. 1297 = Agnes Cansfield (Cancefield)

9. Sir John de Harrington, d. 1347 = Joan Dacre

10. Sir John de Harrington, d. 1360/61 = Katherine Banastre

11. Sir Nicholas de Harrington, d. 1403 = Isabella English

12. Agnes de Harrington, d. bef.  30 Nov. 1444 = Richard Sherburne, d. 1441

13. Richard Sherburne, d. 1441 = Alice Hammerton

14. Agnes Sherburne = Henry Rushton, d. bef. 1490

15. Nicholas Rushton, d.  1508 = Margaret Radcliffe

16. Agnes Rushton = Richard Worthington, d. 1526

17. Peter Worthington, d. 1577 = Isobel de Anderton

18. Isobel Worthington, d. 1580 = Robert Worden, d. 1580

19. Peter Worden I, d. 1638/39


From Agnes Cansfield on each spouse has known ancestors, some of whom I have discussed in previous articles in WP.  I discuss some of Agnes Cansfield’s ancestry below.  Again, as with other medieval families, the families I discuss here are related in multiple ways, by marriage, blood, and through land transactions and other legal actions.


The Harringtons lived in what is now the county of Cumbria, which encompasses the Lake District.  At their time, the area was divided between northern Lancashire (the southern part of Cumbria) and Cumberland, in the far northwest of England, next to Scotland.  Other spellings of the name occur, most often “Haverington” in the early evidences, and a single “r”: “Harington.”  I have standardized the spelling to “Harrington.”  The early ancestors of the Harringtons (Eldred, Ketel, and Orm) were Anglo-Saxons, trying to adjust to the Norman invasion.  It appears that the manor of Flemingby (Flemby, Fleming) on the Irish Sea came to Osulf through his mother, Gunnilda. [2] 


Ancestry of Gunnilda

1. King Athelred the Unready, d. 1016 (descendant of King Arthur the Great) = Aelfgifu[3]

2. Aelfgifu = Uhtred Earl of Northumbria, murdered 1016

3. Ealdgyth = Maldred, d. 1045, brother of King Duncan I of Scotland, sons of Crinan the Thane (d. 1045) and Bethoc of Scotland, daughter of King Malcolm II of Scotland, descendant of early monarchs of Scotland[4]

4. Earl Gospatric, d. 1075 = sister of Edmund

5. Gunnilda = Orm, their children were Osulf de Flemingby and Gospatric (d. 1179), father of Thomas of Workington


The register of the Priory of St. Bees[5] (in Cumberland) records a grant to the priory from Robert de Harrington, with the consent of his wife, Christiana, of land in “Hafrynctuna” (Harrington). Not much is known about Robert’s son and grandson Thomas and Michael, but apparently they, along with Robert, lived at Harrington, a small town on the Irish sea that still exists.  We have some evidences of the second Robert de Harrington (d. 1297). The Plea Roll of 1277[6] has a claim by him to the manor of Flemingby against the Abbot of Holm Culton which claim was largely unsuccessful.  The Plea Roll has the descendancy from Osulf down to the second Robert de Harrington.[7]  The second Robert’s wife, Agnes Cansfield, inherited the manor of Aldingham when her brother was drowned in the River Severn.  Aldingham is on Morcambe Bay, on the southern coast of Cumbria and Robert and Agnes moved there. 


Sir Robert’s oldest son, Michael, died without heir and his brother John succeeded.  John is the most prominent of the Harringtons described here.  His mother died in 1293 and he was still under age when his father died in 1297.  John became the ward of Sir William Dacre who presumably married him to his daughter, Joan.  John and Joan settled in Aldingham.  In 1306, John was knighted in the elaborate ceremony in Westminster in which King Edward I knighted his son Edward (later King Edward II) along with dozens of other men.[8]  After the ceremony, the now Sir John Harrington accompanied Edward I on one of his many invasions of Scotland.


Edward I died in 1307.  I have described Edward II’s disastrous rule previously.[9]  John Harrington became a follower of Earl Thomas of Lancaster in the Earl’s quarrels with Edward II and was held to be complicit in the murder of the King’s “favourite,” Piers Gaveston.  John was pardoned for this offense, along with the other conspirators, and had an on-again-off-again relationship with the king afterwards.  In the process, he kept himself from too close an involvement with Earl Thomas.  He was a “commissioner of array” on several occasions, responsible for raising forces to assist in various military efforts, usually against the Scots.  Edward II was deposed by his wife, Isabella in January 1327 and was succeeded by his underage son, Edward III.  Sir John served the new king in a number of ways.  He was summoned to Parliament on a number of occasions, by both Edward II and Edward III, the first time in 1326 thereby becoming Lord Harrington.[10]  Sir John died in 1347 and was buried in the church in Cartmel, not far from Aldingham in southern Cumbria.[11]


The church is part of the Priory of Cartmel.[12]  The priory was founded by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, who served four kings in high positions.  William Marshal is also an ancestor of Peter Worden I.[13]  Several generations of Harringtons contributed to the development of the church.  During the reign of Henry VIII, monasteries and priories were suppressed and often destroyed.  Somehow, the Priory of Cartmel survived, perhaps because it is in an out-of-the-way part of England.  In 2005, Rex and Pat Warden and my wife and I visited the church.  It is quite large for a small town, presumably because it was part of a priory.  Its architecture is quite unusual.  It has a square tower that is placed on the church at a 45 degree angle.  Inside it is quite magnificent and the tomb of Sir John and his wife is most stunning.  It was moved from another part of the church to its present location under an arch next to the altar.  On the tomb are full length effigies of Sir John and Joan, Sir John in chain mail with his shield and sword and Joan in a demure gown and veil.  The accompanying picture was taken by Rex.


Sir John had two sons, Robert (d. about 1334) and John, the ancestor of Peter Worden.  Since Robert died before his father, the first John’s heir was Robert’s son, John.[14]  We thus have three Johns, living at about the same time, which has caused considerable confusion for genealogists.  John, son of Robert, inherited Aldingham, but the sea was encroaching on that manor house, so John moved a bit inland to build a castle at Gleaston.  John, son of John, being the second son, was established by his father at Farleton in the Lune valley (there are two Farletons, not far apart, this one is east of Lancaster).  This John married Katherine Banastre, the daughter of Adam Banastre, another of those rogue characters who fought against both Edward II and Earl Thomas of Lancaster.  Adam Banaster was involved in Thomas's rebellion against King Edward II, then engaged in a revolt against Thomas and his associate Sir Robert Holand (who was Adam Banaster's brother-in-law) in 1315.  Adam's primary beef was with Robert, who had appropriated extensive lands  in Lancashire. With a number of accomplices, Adam rode around the countryside of south Lancashire,  pillaging and burning, until they were captured and Adam was beheaded.


Sir John Harrington’s son, Nicholas, was another of those heirs who succeeded when his elder brother died in 1362.  Sir Nicholas was another illustrious member of the Harrington family, owing much of his success to his association with John of Gaunt, the son of King Edward III and brother of Edward, the Black Prince.  John of Gaunt became the Duke of Lancaster by virtue of his marriage with the previous duke’s daughter.  John appointed Sir Nicholas to the post of Sheriff of Lancaster, the primary administrative office of the duchy.  Sir Nicholas actively served both John of Gaunt and successive kings in various capacities including in Parliament and as a commissioner of array and of inquiry.  Edward III died in 1377 and since his eldest son, the Black Prince, had died a year earlier, he was succeeded by his grandson (the Black Prince’s son), Richard II.  Richard II was under age when he became king so power was theoretically in the hands of a council, although John of Gaunt played a central role.  Sir Nicholas was sheriff at the time of the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, a rebellion provoked by high taxes for foreign wars.  The Revolt also had roots in the Black Death of the late 1340s, which killed a substantial proportion of the population and resulted in changes in the feudal order.  John of Gaunt was particularly targeted by the Revolt, but it did not reach extensively into the Duchy of Lancaster.  At the age of 14, Richard II negotiated with the rebels and then suppressed the revolt.


In 1399 Richard II was deposed by John of Gaunt’s son, Henry IV.  Sir Nicholas served Henry IV by helping to put down a rebellion by Owen Glendower and Henry “Hotspur” Percy (a distant cousin of  Peter Worden I).


Sir Nicholas Harrington married first a daughter of Sir Thomas Lathom and secondly Isabella, daughter of Sir William English by whom he had sons and a daughter Agnes, the wife of Richard Sherburne and the ancestor of Peter Worden I.  Proof that Agnes de Harrington was the wife of Richard Sherburne was provided by Douglas Hickling on the Medieval Genealogy newsgroup (Google Groups) on 24 May 2004 ([15]


The arms of the Harringtons were sable a fret argent (black with white diagonal crosshatching).


Earl Gospatrick, father of Gunnhilda, was Earl of Northumbria at the time of the Norman Conquest. He joined the Danes in an invasion of England after the conquest, then made his peace with William the Conqueror, but was deprived of Northumberland.  He went to Scotland where he took up with the Scottish king.  There is some question as to whether his father was Maldred (that his mother was Ealdgyth is more secure).


Ancestry of Agnes Cansfield:


1. Michael le Fleming, fl. 1127-50 = dau. of Robert de Stuteville by his wife Erneburga[16]

2. Michael le Fleming, d. bef. 1186 = Christian de Stainton dau. of Gilbert de Lancaster son of William de Lancaster

3. William le Fleming, d. abt 1203 = Alice (or Eleanor) dau. of Thomas of Workington d. 1200, son of Gospatric, son of Orm and Gunnilda (William and Alice were 4th cousins twice removed)

4. Sir Michael le Fleming = Agatha of Ravensworth

5. William le Fleming

6. Alicia Fleming = Sir Richard Cansfield

7. Agnes Cansfield, d. abt 1293 = Sir Robert de Harrington (4th cousins twice removed)


The Flemings were also known as “de Furness” after the part of Cumbria in which they resided (Furness encompasses Aldingham and Cartmel).[17]  The name “Le Fleming” suggests that they were originally from Flanders.  Washington (see footnote) suggests that the first Michael le Fleming had a brother Rainer le Fleming and that they were descended from a Walter Flandrensis who appears in Domesday (1086) in Wahull in Bedfordshire, the descent being Walter à Walter II à Simon à Michael and Rainer.  Through his marriage with a de Stuteville, the first Michael le Fleming obtained the manor of Drigg in Cumberland on the Irish Sea.  The first William le Fleming took part in the rebellion of John, Count of Mortain (later King John) against his brother King Richard I in 1193.  The Flemings made many grants to the Abbey of Furness.[18]


Descent of the Lancasters:[19]


1. Gilbert de Lancaster = Godith, dau. of Eldred (above), sister of Ketel

2. William de Lancaster fl. 1120-70 = Gundrada de Warenne, dau. of William de Warenne and Elizabeth (Isabel) de Vermandois

3.  William II de Lancaster = Christian ? (Hawise de Stuteville? granddaughter of the above Robert de Stuteville)

4.  Gilbert de Lancaster, d. before 1220

5.  Christian de Stainton[20] = Michael le Fleming (1st cousins twice removed)


The Lancasters were involved with the early Harringtons, and were related to them as indicated above.  The Ragg work (see footnote) includes charters in 1318 in which Gilbert de Lancaster enfeoffed John de Haverington with some land (charters pp. 456-57) (an enfeoffment was like a trust, so Lancaster was entrusting Haverington with land which would remain to the benefit of Lancaster and his heirs).  Elizabeth de Vermandois is a descendant of a prominent French family descended from Charlemagne (in at least eight ways).


[1]  For Osulf and his Harrington descendants I have depended heavily on Ian Grimble, The Harington Family (1957).  See also Victoria History of the County of Lancaster, v. 8, p. 320, sub Parish of Aldingham and Knights of the Shire of the County Palatine of Lancaster, Chetham Society Publications, new series, v. 96, p. 179, an account of Thomas Harrington, grandson of Nicholas, giving an account of Thomas’s ancestry.

[2]  Scot’s Peerage, v. 3: 245 gives the ancestry of Gunnilda and says she was married to Orm son of Ketel (without citations); William Jackson, Curwens of Workington Hall and Kindred Families, (1880), p. 3 (available on, reprinted from Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological & Antiquarian Society), says Orm was the son of Ketel who was the son of Eldred.

[3] For the descent from Athelred to Earl Gospatric see G.E. Cokayne, Complete Peerage  v. 4, p. 504 (sub Dunbar) and v. 9, p. 704 (sub Northumberland); Scot’s Peerage v. 3, pp. 240-243.

[4]  See my article in WP, May 2004, v. 25, No. 1.

[5]  Surtees Society publications, v. 128, p. 117.

[6]  De Banco R. No. 21, m. 43d.

[7] The St. Bees registry also has another grant (p. 118) from the second Robert Harrington, dated 3 November 1292.

[8] I have given an account of this event in an earlier article in WP, “Talbot Ancestors of Peter Worden,” Feb. 2008, v. 28, No. 4.  See also Knights of Edward I, Harleian Society, v. 81, p. 188.

[9]  WP, Aug. 2005, v. 26, No. 2.

[10]  G.E.Cokayne, Complete Peerage, v. 6, p. 314-315.

[11]  His inquisition post mortem is in Calendar of Inquisitions, Edward III, v. 9, p. 30.

[12]  See J.C. Dickinson, The Priory of Cartmel, 1991.

[13]  I discussed William Marshal briefly in WP, Feb. 2013, v. 33, no. 4.

[14]  Final Concords, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, v. 46, p. 194 has a record of the first John, his wife, Joan, his father, Robert, and his son John in 1336.

[15]  Additional transactions of the Harrington family and Gospatric may be found in Register and Records of Holm Cultram, British History Online and Records Relating to the Barony of Kendale, v. 2, pp. 247 ff., also on British History Online.

[16]  For the ancestors of the Stutevilles, see New England Historical and Genealogical Register, v. 76 (1925), p. 373 and Charles Clay, Early Yorkshire Charters, v. 9.  One source has Michael’s wife as daughter of John son of Robert de Stuteville.

[17]  In this descent, for all but Agnes Cansfield see S. H. Lee Washington, “The Early History of the Stricklands of Sizergh,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register, v. 96 (1942), pp. 315­-318.  For the early individuals in this ancestry see also Victoria History of the County of Lancaster, v. 8, p. 285 (sub Furness).  Through this descent, Peter Worden I is a distant cousin of the first president of the United States.

[18]  See Coucher Book of Furness Abbey, Publications of the Chetham Society, new series v. 9.  The Furness coucher also has transactions of the Harringtons in v. 9, p. 212 and v. 11, p. 475.

[19]  For the Lancasters, lords of Kendal in northern Cumberland see Frederick W. Ragg, “De Lancaster,” Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquities and Archaeological Society, new series. v. 10 (1910), p. 395 (available from Hathi Trust to libraries with subscription).  Also K.S.B. Keats-Rohan,  Domesday Descendants (2002), p. 539.  I.J. Sanders, English Baronies, 1960, p. 56 has an account of the Lancasters in which it is claimed that the first Gilbert Lancaster was son of Ketel, son of Eldred and does not have the second Gilbert.

[20]  The Lancasters owned Stainton, which is why Christian was “de Stainton.”  “Christian” rather than “Christiana” was a common name for women in those days.