The Origins of the Strettells
The Origins of the Strettells
The name Strettell/Strettle is derived from “Stret hull” or “hill on a main or Roman road”. Documentary evidence puts the lost placename of Strethull in north Cheshire in the parish of Mere.
Ormerod’s History of Cheshire, Strethull is first mentioned as a placename
around 1176 in a deed involving Robert de Mara, the Lord of Mere ....…
laudas terrae in Strethull”
this point in history, Strethull was clearly a place somewhere in Mere parish.
Ormerod describes Strethull as
“a small manor in Mere, part of which, if not the whole was held by a family bearing the local name”.
II of “The Placenames of Cheshire” attempts to locate the position of
“The location of this place is to be sought in Mere cf. terras et tenementas in villa et territorio del Mere iuxta Rouesthorn scilicet hameletton’ dict’ Strethull 1392 CoLegh. It is associated with the Hulme family cf. Alexander Hulme of Strethull 1587 Strettle or Holmes tenement heretofore in the possession of George Holme 1676 CoLegh. Hulmebarns is a possibility. This location (101-722827) on the Knutsford-Warrington road, a mile north-west of the crossroads at Mere, might reinforce the suggestion of antiquity made by Street Field in High Legh as to that road, if the allusion is not to the Roman Road ‘Watling Street’ at Mere. Cf. Strettelegh 61 infra. Streethill(s) Green 55 infra in the adjoining township, Millington, could be considered, from its having the same name, were it demonstrable that this part of Millington had belonged to Mere.”
The supposed ancestral line of the Strettell family can be traced back to Gilbert de Venables, a knight who arrived with the Conqueror in 1066, and although a direct hereditary connection cannot yet be firmly established, a general ancestral line can be constructed.
Click on the image below to view the supposed ancestral line.
Gilbert de Venables, also referred to as Venator, Veneur, Hunter, was from Venables, in the modern Department of Eure, near Rouen in Normandy. The Barony of Le Veneurs was so named because they were hereditary huntsmen to the Dukes of Normandy.
Gilbert was the youngest son of Odo II, the Count of Blois. On the death of Odo and his brother's elevation to replace him as the Count, the fief of Venables had no Lord - Gilbert's (presumed) uncle Roger of Blois, the Bishop of Beauvais, gave Venables to Gilbert.
Gilbert lived the life of a minor Norman nobleman until called by William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066 to join the army of invasion, Gilbert's name being inscribed on the "Roll of Dives" which recorded the "Companions of William at the Conquest of England in 1066".
Following the Conquest, William initially left the Saxon Earls in place in Cheshire, but in 1069 there was a rebellion against Norman rule. William responded with great severity against the Northern rebels and his army entered Cheshire in the winter of 1069-70 destroying communities, dispossessing the people and laying waste to the countryside. The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded the wasted 'manors' along his route from York to Chester and Shrewsbury. The Norman forces targeted the city of Chester for destruction. It was besieged and eventually sacked, devastated, and largely demolished. All this plunged the county into a state of utter poverty, starvation and deprivation, from which it took many decades to recover. So complete was the devastation that in Domesday Survey most of the lands in Cheshire were recorded as 'wasta', or wasteland; 'abandoned or useless lands' which had once been fertile and prosperous before the Conquest.
With Cheshire subdued, Hugh d'Avranches, known also as Hugh Lupus (the wolf) or as Hugh the Fat, was installed as Earl of Chester, and under Hugh were eight barons, each of which was given estates within the County - Gilbert de Venables was one of these Barons (the Baron of Kinderton) making him one of the nine most powerful men in Cheshire.
A ceramic tile impression of Gilbert de Venables,
from the Mairie of the village of Venables, Normandy
The Domesday Book of 1086 records Gilbert de Venables as holding in total eighteen manors in Cheshire and North Wales:
''The holding was a scattered one, dispersed over seven hundreds, the largest group being six manors in Bochelau hundred, including a moiety of Lymm [Lime] and Rotstherne [Rodestorne], High Legh [Lege], and Mere [Mera], all in Rostherne hundred. In Middlewich hundred there was a further group of four manors, perhaps focused on the ancient centre of Astbury, together with Witton [Witune], next to the salt town of Northwich. Those estates were credited to Gilbert the Hunter (Venator), perhaps intended to be distinguished from Gilbert de Venables, though later history of the estates shows the two to have the same man.''
Source: Victoria County History
The Domesday Book records that the population of Cheshire was only 11,000 people. It also records that the total population of Gilbert's holdings was 100 people, of which 3 lived in Mere! "Gilbert holds MERA" (Mere in Rostherne). Mere contained 2 acres of meadow and 1440 acres of wood, a church and a priest, 1 villager and 2 smallholders. "It was and is waste"
The descendants of Gilbert de Venables were spread widely throughout Cheshire and beyond - but particularly across Gilbert's "Domesday manorial holdings".
''He was the progenitor of numerous lines of the Venables family, of the Leghs of Booth, with their collateral branches, and the Meres of Mere; to which must be added with probability only not amounting to positive proof, the Leighs of West Hall, and with weaker, but still very strong probability, the Dones, Leghs of East Hall, and Breretons".
Source: Ormerod's History of Cheshire
Gilbert's ancestral link to the Strettells is presumed to be via the Meres of Mere:
de Mara is recorded as having 6 sons – William De la Mere (the
rightful heir of Robert), Simon, Edward, Robert, Philip and Gilbert.
But where did Robert de Mara come from, and where is the family link to Hugh Venables?
Regarding Mere, Ormerod states that "The period at which the mesne lords settled in the township, and assumed the local name, is not positively known, but it was certainly as early as the middle of the twelfth century. They were most probably.. a younger branch of the Venables family". In 1240, Robert's son, William, is identified as a Kinsman of Hugh Venables and William asserts that "he has lived for 4 years in the service of his uncle Sir Hugh Venables of Kinderton and for 5 years in that of his uncle Sir William Venables of Wincham" - so there is clear evidence that the Venables / Strethull family link is valid.
So: if Gilbert de Strethull is the nephew of Hugh and William Venables, either his mother or father must have been their sibling. The "Mere of Mere" Pedigree does not name Robert de Mara's wife, but (again) specifically identifies William (Robert's son and heir) as Hugh Venables nephew.
The "Venables of Kinderton" Pedigree identifies an unknown (ie unnamed) sibling of Hugh and William Venables as "the parent of William de la Mere". So - it is possible that Hugh and William had a sister who provided the Venables family link to Gilbert de Strethull. It should be noted that Hugh and William DID have a brother named Robert who was the parson of Rosthorne and died in 1260, so it's not possible that Robert de Mara could have been their brother!
Whilst it isn't possible to identify the specific ancestor who provides the ancestral link, there is compelling evidence that the children of Robert de Mara were kinsmen of the Venables of Kinderton - it must also be remembered that Robert de Mara WAS the Lord of Mere, a manor within the estates of Venables of Kinderton, and it is hard to imagine that the Lordship of Mere would have been granted to anyone who was not a descendant of Gilbert de Venables.
It is possible to identify three generations of the "de Strethull" family from various land deeds: Gilbert, his son William, and his son Richard. Numerous other land deeds relating to Strethull are held within the "Cornwall-Legh Estate Records" - these remain to be researched, and will hopefully provide more information on the descendants of Gilbert de Strethull.
It is very difficult to precisely date the point in history we have reached, but Richard de Strethull is named in a land deed in the first half of the 13th century.
The next known reference to the Strethull lands is contained in Ormerod's History of Cheshire which states that: ".. families were active in the land market in the 2nd half of the 13th century, when settlement associated with this place-name was sufficiently well populated to have fields organised in strips as well as crofts. The Mere family retained an interest in this land until 1337 when it was released to the Venables family, and Richard de Venables and his wife Isabel were described as "de Strethul" in the reign of Richard II...." (ie 1377 - 1399). From this it can be taken that the "pre-1337 de Strethulls" were clearly considered to be members of the extended Mere family.
It should be remembered that hereditary surnames were only widely adopted in the 13th and 14th centuries, initially by the aristocracy. The early surnames associated with Strethill were of the form “de Strethull” - the surname being adopted from the name of the land an individual owned, but later practice saw surnames being more generally adopted from the name of the place individuals came from (as opposed to land that they owned) and so there is the possibility that the ancestors of the “Mobberley Strethills” simply lived in Strethill rather than be direct descendents of Gilbert de Strethull (or, indeed, Gilbert de Venables!).
As indicated above the first families who lived in Strethill were named “de Strethull”, although later centuries saw the primary families in Strethill as “Venables of Strethill” and then “Cocker of Strethill”.
Richard de Venables of Strethill
No details are yet known about the antecedents of Richard de Venables of Strethill, and, although it is possible that he was the member of the Venables family who became the landowner in 1337, given his longevity this seems unlikely. With regard to the 1337 land transfer, it may be that the original “de Strethull” line became extinct with the end of the male line and the Strethill lands passed to a Venables relative, or it may be that the land was simply sold to the Venables family. Either way, given the established Venables/Mere family connection, the potential ancestral line back to Gilbert de Venables remains valid.
After the above-mentioned early-13th century land deed relating to Richard de Strethull, the next documented record of a family living in Strethull is in a land deed of 1362, naming Richard de Venables of Strethill.
Numerous other land deeds relating to Venables of Strethill are held within the "Cornwall-Legh Estate Records" - these remain to be researched, and will hopefully provide more information on the antecedents of Richard de Venables de Strethill.
As indicated above, Richard de Venables of Strethill was living in 1362 - he was further mentioned in a land grant in 1402 and in 1406 was commissioned by Henry, Prince of Wales, to collect fines levied in the Bucklow Hundred, so it may be assumed that he held a position of some prominence in the area.
Richard was the last male in the ancestral line of "Venables of Strethill": Isabel, his daughter and heir, married Hugh Cocker of Pickmere – in effect Richard's Strethill lands becoming part of Hugh Cocker’s estates (either at his marriage to Isabel or at the death of Richard Venables, when he would then have become Hugh Cocker of Strethill).
Hugh Cocker of Strethill was the son of John le Cokker of Pyckmere. The date of his marriage to Isabel Venables is not known, but he was the first in the "Cocker of Strethill" line which eventually became extinct in 1643 (Source: Magna Britannia).
The Cocker family is notable in that in 1440 made a Deed granting to his son Richard "all his messuages, lands,etc in More, Pykemere, Knottesford and Strethull, together with the reversion of land, etc in Strethull le Mere and Knottesford held in dower by Isabel de Venables". (Source: Plea Rolls of the County of Chester). Richard then granted the same (plus all his goods and chattels) to Nicholas de Rysheton, John Humbleton and Richard de Catlawe, chaplains. The purpose behind these Grants isn't clear, but the Cocker of Strethill pedigree continued for a further 200 years, with Strethill Farm, Mere being the seat of the Cocker family for several generations, until it was purchased by Henry Legh (recorded in the Mere Charterers in 1666).
It may be entirely coincidental, but the year in which the Strethill estates seem to have been granted to the above chaplains (1440) was the same year that the first "Strettell" was recorded as living in Mobberley (see below).
1988 Dictionary of surnames by Hanks and Hodges acknowledges the claimed descent
of the Strettells and Strettles of today from Gilbert de Strethull, but further notes that:
“So far the line can only be traced with any certainty back to Edward Strettell (d. 1626) of Mobberley, Cheshire”
Prior to the commencement of Parish Registers in the late 16th century, records of ancestral connections are much more difficult to establish. Property leases, grants and deeds provide sources of information, as do the pedigrees and armorial bearings (coats of arms!) confirmed in Heralds Visitations in the 16th and 17th centuries.
So, whilst Hanks & Hodges may have concluded that Edward Strettell (born circa 1570) was the earliest point of certainty in the ancestral line, there is ample evidence of “Strettells” living in the area well before Edward, including........
A land grant made to Richard, son of William de Strehul in the early 13thC; (source: Cholmondley of Cholmondley deeds)
John de Strethull as the tenure holder of a messuage in Modburley in 1440; (source: Legh of Booths Charters) (the first record of “Strettells” in Mobberley that I have found, and perhaps significantly named as “de Strethull!)
Hammond Strettill, granted a 33 year lease
on property in Mobberley (Hemp Croft alias Strettell's Patch) in 1520;
(source: Orrell of Ashley Deeds). Note that the
name "Hammond" is a derivation of the Norman name Hamon, which was a
christian name widely used by the various branches of the Venables family
(it is always possible that the name should read "Hamon
de Strettill"). Also these same deeds contain a lease from the Orrell Estate to
Hugh Strettell of Saltersley in 1662).
Hammond Strettill, granted a 33 year lease on property in Mobberley (Hemp Croft alias Strettell's Patch) in 1520; (source: Orrell of Ashley Deeds). Note that the name "Hammond" is a derivation of the Norman name Hamon, which was a christian name widely used by the various branches of the Venables family (it is always possible that the name should read "Hamon de Strettill"). Also these same deeds contain a lease from the Orrell Estate to Hugh Strettell of Saltersley in 1662).
John Strethyll as the tenure holder of a burgage in Netherknuttesford and a selion in Overknuttesford in 1525; (source: Legh of Booths Charters)
Charles Strettell, the elder, was mentioned as the tenure holder of a "messuage with appurtenances in Moberley" in a land deed in 1547; (source: Legh of Booths Charters) (perhaps the same messuage as in the tenure of John de Strethull in 1440?)
John Strettell of Moburley, husbandman, and Margaret Strettell, widow (mother of the said John) surrendered “messuages, lands, etc in…. Moburley… in their occupation” in 1603; (source: Legh of Booths Charters)
and a whole raft of Strettells who appear in the early Parish Registers of Mobberley, alongside Edward and his family.
The publication "Old Mobberley" contains many references to the Strettill family as one of the foremost of the district, a point underlined in "Burke's Landed Gentry" which details the origins of the "modern" family in and around Mobberley.
Extract from "Old Mobberley"
THE STRETTILLS OF MOBBERLEY
Before 1261 Adam de Stethul (or Strettull) granted to Thomas, son of Thomas de Dutton, all his lands in Stethul, at an annual rent, and all his lands which he held of William de Stethul, at the annual rent of a bow and arrow! (This Adam was probably the son of William (and grandson of Gilbert). This place called Stethul was a small manor in Mere, held by the Strettulls who probably descended from Gilbert, the son of Robert de Mara ("Ormerod" I p468). Intermixed with the Strethulls in the Mere pedigree occur the names of Domville and Roger Hurleston, of Chester. This is their probable connection with land in Mobberley. They appear to have married into the family of Bently, of Hungry Bently, in Staffordshire, also. In 1592, in the will of John Duncalf, of Mobberley, one of the beneficiaries was Ellyse Strettill, and the name occurs on the first page of the Register in 1578. Hugh Strettill owned Blakeley Farm in 1598, which he let to Thomas Burgess, another old Mobberley name. In 1606 Robert Tipping, of Mobberley, married Margery Strettill, of Knutsford, and in 1612 John Strettill, of Rostherne, married Elizabeth Halford , of Northwich, at Rostherne church. Another marriage is recorded at Mobberley between John Pendleton and Alice Strettill in 1613, as well as one between James Strettill, of the parish of Rostherne, and Elizabeth Fallows, of Warrington. Margaret, widow of Thomas Strettill, of Mobberley, was a Miss Bentley, and was buried at Witton, Northwich, in 1631........
In 1672 John Strettill lived near the Mill Pool, and Hugh Strettill at Brown Edge - probably the latter bought Saltersley in 1661. Richard rented the Old Manorial Hall, and lived at the Brook Cottage (or Hobson's). Hugh farmed (and also owned) Reyley Wood; John lived at late Bateson's, and the mother (a widow) of most of the last named lived at Town Lane..... They appear to have spread themselves all over the district...... On the south side of Mobberley Churchyard are the graves of the Strethills (or Strettell).....
It should be noted that all the different spellings of the "Strettell" surname given in the short article above are as they are spelt in the original document, so the changing spellings over the centuries should not come as too much of a surprise! This article also emphasises the close proximity of the towns and villages of North Cheshire in which the Strettell ancestors can be found - the original location of "Strehul in Mere" being no more than 6 miles from Mobberley - making the job of sorting out the differing ancestral lines quite tricky!
Probably the most notable of the branches of the Strettell family at this time lived at Saltersley Hall in Mobberley - it was bought by Hugh Strettell in 1662 from his father-in-law Francis Hulme's co-heiresses (his sisters-in-law) and remained in the family until 1765. The following is an extract from "Pilgrimages to Old Homes" published in 1903:
.... a curious old house standing on the edge of Lindow Moss. It is named Saltersley, as if some of the brine-pits that were not uncommon in Cheshire had once been here. It seems strange for a solid stone house to have been built away from everywhere, with nothing but springy moss in front and by its sides. It is low and solid, without date, but there is a long old-fashioned table within it that is dated 1639, so the house must have been built before then, or built round the table. Certainly the table cannot be got out of the house without pulling some of the walls down, or it would have been sold, for it is valuable. It is of massive oak, with six legs, and behind it is a Jacobean screen with raised seat, all redolent of faded gentility. From the initials, "F. H." that are on the table it was probably made for the Hulmes, who sold the small estate to the Strettels in 1662. ....
Table and Screen at Saltersley
Saltersley Hall Table and Screen at Saltersley
A peaceful life in "Old Mobberley"?
It is easy to imagine medieval life as peaceful and bucolic: here is a somewhat different pespective provided by the records of the Cheshire Quarter Sessions:
Riots at Mobberley January 1606
On 27 January 1606 a writ was issued to summon a jury next 29 January at Bowdon to inquire into riots at Mobberley
Quarter Sessions Private Sessions held at Bowdon 29 January 1606 before George Bouthe kt and William Brereton esq JPs
Jury appointed : 15 names, no annotations
Henry Shawe jun of Mobberley, husbandman, Thomas Shawe of same, labourer and
William Bradbury of same, labourer (and others deleted) indicted for riot at
Mobberley and assault on John Strettell of Mobberley on 6 Jan 1606.
Endorsed: Billa vera (case found proven)
John Strettell of Mobberley, yeoman, Susanna Strettell, his wife, and others
(named) indicted for riot at Mobberley and assault on Henry Shawe 6 Jan 1606
Endorsed: Ignoramus (case not proven)
John and Susanna Strettell as above and others (named (list not same as above))
and others not named, all indicted for riot at Mobberley and assault on Henry
Shawe of Mobberley 12 Jan 1606
Endorsed: Ignoramus (case not proven)
Letter of 5 February 1606
From G Bouthe and William Brereton to Mr Robert Whitbie Clerk of the Peace at
"..... upon information of Ryotts committed in Moberley we caused to be somoned a Jury to inquire of the same and thereby was found on All of Ryott against Shaw and others and those alles against Strettell and his syde were not found. All which together with the warrant and the return of the Jury we have here sent unto you in discharge of our dutyes as Justices of the Peace bounde to inquire hereupon ......."
Riot at Warford on 20 July 1606
On 24 July 1606 a writ was issued to summon a jury next 7 August
at Mobberley to inquire into riots at Warford
Quarter Sessions Private Sessionsheld at Mobberley 7 August 1606 before Urian Leighe of Adlington kt, William Brerretton of Ashley and John Arderne of Hawarden esqs JPs.
Jury appointed to inquire for the King - 24 names listed with 2 deleted, 16 sworn "Jur"
Several persons named (including John Strettel of Mobberley, yeoman) presented for riot at Warford, breaking and entering house of Robert Burges of Warford and assault on Thomas Pigott 20 Jul 1606.
Endorsed: Thomas Pygotte prosecutor; Billa vera (case found proven)
Several persons named (including Thomas Piggott) presented for riot at Warford
and assault on Ralph Strettel 20 Jul 1606
Endorsed: John Strettel prosecutor; Ignoramus (case not proven)
John Strettell of Mobberley, yeoman presented as a common barrator (a person who
brings false and
at Warford 20 Jul 1606
Endorsed: Tho Pigott prosecutor; Billa vera (case found proven)
"Private Sessions" were mainly convened to deal with cases of riot and/or forcible entry, so these are unlikely to be isolated cases! There is no indication in the Records as to the punishments given in these cases - it appears that usual punishment would be a fine or a "binding over".
The village of Rostherne and the town of Knutsford were also home to various Strettells before the industrial revolution started and a growing number of Strettells were Quakers during this period. Strettell or Strethill also became a Christian name found in other families in this corner of Cheshire.
Coat of Arms
It is worthwhile to commence this section by noting that there is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them by the College of Arms or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.
Exemplifying the above, there is some difficulty in establishing which Coat of Arms was used by the various branches of the extended Strettell family, and also whether these were properly granted by the College of Arms, or whether they were just used as a local custom. The definitive documentation of properly granted historical Coats of Arms is "Burke's General Armory" which contains entries for a variety of spellings of the surname including Strettell, Strattle, Stratele, and Stretley, and Burke's identifies one of these as being linked to the Mobberley Strettells:
Abel Strettell was born at Saltersley in 1660 and later emigrated to Ireland. He was granted the right by the Ulster Office to "carry a coat-of-arms exactly like that borne by others of the name... and but a slight heraldic difference belonging to the earlier name of Strattle.... and also from the arms of the still more primitive name of Stratley or Stratele.... the original seat in the parish of Rostherne, Cheshire". It is worthwhile noting that Lord Emly (who was Hannah Strettell's grandson) confirmed this as his coat of arms on his elevation circa 1874.
The shield of the Strettell coat of arms
A chevron between 3 heads of tridents pointing down
The coat of arms motto is "Robur et Astutia" translated as "Strength and Astuteness"
Whilst this is a specific granting of Arms to the branch of the family that moved to Ireland and then to America, the historic references to earlier surnames and the original seat at Rostherne might be thought to provide circumstantial evidence that this was the historic coat of arms of the Strettell family.
It is worth noting, however, that the various Heralds Visitations to Cheshire
throughout the 16th
century contain no reference to Strettell Arms or pedigrees. In the 1613
Visitation, a John Strettell of Mobberley was “disclaimed”: meaning that his
claim to Armorial Bearings (and the family pedigree associated with it) was not
granted – thus the implication is that whoever the “others of the name” were who
held these Arms before Abel Strettell, they were not resident in Cheshire in the
150 or more years prior to the grant being made to him.
Consequently it seems most likely that these Arms are specific to the branch of
the family that emigrated to Ireland (and on to America).
Consequently it seems most likely that these Arms are specific to the branch of the family that emigrated to Ireland (and on to America).
In addition to these "granted" Coats of Arms there is a Coat of Arms recorded for the surname Strethill (in the "Vale Royal of England" published in 1656) as belonging to a Cheshire gentleman and being in contemporary usage circa 1630.
Argent, 3 griffins segreant Gules
Whilst there is no record of these Arms being formally granted, it is clear that a gentleman with the surname Strethill used this coat of arms in Cheshire in the mid-17thC. As such it is the only coat of arms definitively documented to have been used by the family in Cheshire.
These Strethill Arms have a historic connection to the Venables family as described above, with the marriage of Hugh Cocker to the daughter and heir to Richard Venables of Strethill.
The resultant Cocker coat of arms (shown on the right) were an amalgamation of the previous Cocker Arms and the Venables (of Strethill) Arms – it can be seen that the “1656” Strethill Arms are identical to those Venables Arms
The 1656 “Vale Royal of England” manuscript was produced under the patronage of, and for, Peter Venables, the Baron of Kinderton. It is clear that the Baron of Kinderton accepted and acknowledged these arms (the former Venables Arms) to be recorded as Strethill Arms – of course it may be that, over time, the Venables Arms had become used as the Arms for Strethill, the place, and the Baron of Kinderton was happy to permit a gentleman of that name to use those Arms, but it may be speculated that he was acknowledging a known ancestral link to the Venables family.
Taking all the evidence into account it seems much more appropriate to regard the "Strethill" Coat of Arms as that used by the family in Cheshire.
I need to acknowledge the contribution and insights of the experts from "Cheshire Heraldry" and the "Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society" without whom I would have been unable to produce this brief "Coat of Arms" section.
Many Strettells joined the ranks of the English working class during the Industrial Revolution but the heirs of Strethill manor did not. This line of Strettells did not lose their status through the passage of time and, during the last two hundred years, senior bankers, military commanders and lawyers have been among their ranks. This line includes the “Dashwood Strettells”, apparently indicating a connection with the notorious Sir Francis Dashwood of West Wycombe in Bucks.
on the image below to view this Tree.
Click on the image below to view this Tree.
original "Origins" document prepared by
and subsequently expanded and updated by
and subsequently expanded and updated by