James - The Diarist

Home Up James Fretwell's Diary

Top of Page


James Fretwell of Thorpe in Balne, Norton, and Pontefract, gent, was born on 22 November 1699 and died on 6 July 1772. He was buried at Barnby Don. His particular value for posterity was that he maintained a diary over a substantial part of his life in which he recorded the rites of passage of his extended family.

He and his forebears were, in terms of status, sufficiently 'important' to have gained inclusion in some of the pedigrees which were so assiduously maintained by recorders of the day. These, together with the Diary, transcriptions of monumental inscriptions, and some notes taken by WEF and RTF, provide quite a wealth of data on this Fretwell 'clan'. That for James is found on this page; that for his maternal side is found under the Fretwell Links pages, under Woodhouse.

Drawing upon this information I have :


drawn up basic Fretwell family trees - see below


cross referenced links of people connected to the Fretwell through marriage, via a table of surnames - see below


compiled a 'Pedigree' for the nine generations - see below


transcribed extracts of the Wills of James Fretwell, snr and his son James Fretwell, jnr, and the Monumental Inscriptions

A closer look at James Fretwell's Diary, and a brief assessment of the man, his life and time, is dealt with separately. There is also a cross referenced table of the people, other than immediate kin, cited in the Diary

While much of the information has been verified I would welcome any comments and any information that might assist in completing the picture. I am only an email away!

Family Trees

The following Trees, showing names only, may help to make sense of the Pedigree that follows. For legibility, the Trees are given in blocks of generations. The connecting match between James Fretwell and Mary Woodhouse is highlighted.

Fretwell Spouses

The table below lists those people who married into the Fretwell family over the period covered by the Pedigrees.

Beard, A

Beard, M























Fretwell Pedigree

Generation No. 1

John Fretwell of Nethermilne, in the parish of Maltby, co. York. Buried 9 Mar, 1603-04 in Maltby. (The name of his wife is not known).

Generation No. 2

Richard Fretwell of Nethermilne. Married at Maltby Nov. 11 1610 to Lucy Herring of Hooton-Levett.

Hugo and James Fretwell (twins), born and died 1619.

Generation No. 3

Richard Fretwell, of Maltby, baptized Sept. 1, 1611; married at Maltby Nov.17, 1640 to Alice Beard. His will dated Aug. 12, 1682; proved at York Jan. 29, 1682-3.

Generation No. 4

James Fretwell, baptized June 2, 1644.

William Fretwell of Thorpe in Balne, in the parish of Barnby-Don, co. York. Baptized Sept. 19, 1647; married at Barnby-Don, August 8, 1676 to Jane Jennings; buried at Barnby Don May 31, 1695. They had a boy who died in infancy. Administration granted to his brother Aug. 15, 1695. Jane Jennings, daughter of . . and widow of . . Jennings; buried at Barnby-Don March 15, 1702-3. Her third husband was William Rodwell, of Thorpe, yeoman, who died in the Levels 1718 or 1719, and was buried at Thorne, leaving issue. He was the father of William Thomas, vicar of Arksey, and Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Bayley of Doncaster.

John Fretwell, bap. at Maltby June 1644

James Fretwell, of Maltby, carpenter and timber merchant; baptized 1649; church-warden 1686; died Sept. 4, and buried Sept. 6, 1718. Married Mary Beard, daughter of . . Beard, at Braithwell May 1671; Mary died Nov. 1, and buried at Maltby Nov.2, 1700. Said to be of a good family.

Generation No. 5

Children of James Fretwell and Mary Beard

Elizabeth Fretwell, born in 1672; died March 23, 1718-19. Married John Bower, of Wickersley, co. York, carpenter, who died Nov. 1, 1731.


James Fretwell, of Thorpe in Balne, eldest son. Born at Maltby about 1674; churchwarden at Barnby-Don 1707; died Feb. 5, and buried at Barnby-Don Feb. 7, 1743. Succeeded his father in the timber trade. Will dated June 15, 1736; proved at York May 31, 1744. Married Mary Woodhouse, 2nd daughter of John Woodhouse, of Norton in Campsall, co. York; baptized April 3 1675; married at Barnby-Don May 11, 1697; died June 20, 1736, aged 61; buried at Barnby-Don.


Mary Fretwell, born Nov. 28, baptised Dec. 26, 1676; died July 26, 1738. Married John Wasteneys of Maltby, yeoman; buried there March 4, 1715-16


William Fretwell, died Sept 21 or 23, 1700, aged 21; buried at Maltby on the 25th.


John Fretwell, died Feb. 18, and buried at Maltby Feb. 20, 1708-9, aged 25.


Richard Fretwell, of Maltby, yeoman; born Feb. 26, 1684; died Aug. 27, and buried there Aug. 28, 1746. Married Ruth Pursglove, daughter of Matthew Pursglove, of the Grange, near Maltby, gent, at Maltby Aug. 20, 1716. Ruth buried there July 2, 1761.


Alice Fretwell, bap. at Braithwell 1681.

Generation No. 6

Children of James Fretwell and Mary Woodhouse

James Fretwell, of Thorpe in Balne, Norton and Pontefract, gent. (the Diarist), born Nov.22, and baptized Dec. 5, 1699; died July 6, 1772; buried at Barnby-Don. Will dated Dec. 31, 1751.


John Fretwell, born June 1, and baptized July 2, 1702; died June 9, 1724, aged 23; buried the next day in Barnby-Don churchyard.


Mary Fretwell, born Nov 1, and baptized Nov 9, 1704; died Jan. 5, 1753; buried at All Saints Church, Pontefract. Married Thomas Routh, of Pontefract, grocer at Campsall May 15, 1733.


William Fretwell, born July 21, and baptized Aug. 17, 1708; died Nov. 26, and buried at Barnby-Don Nov. 29, 1778, aged 70. Had a son William, who died May 18, 1781[1], aged 14 months. Married at York Cathedral on Nov. 11, 1746 to Elizabeth Smith, daughter of William Smith of Doncaster.


Elizabeth Fretwell, born July 27, and baptized Aug. 23, 1711; married, at Stubs-Walden, Michael Woodhouse, of Womersley, tanner and youngest son of Michael Woodhouse, of Stubs-Walden, on Sept. 20, 1739. Michael Woodhouse Jnr was buried at Womersley July 23, 1790, as ‘yeoman, quarter-lord of Stubbs-Walden,’ aged 84. [2]

Children of Richard Fretwell and Ruth Pursglove

Richard Fretwell, baptised at Maltby Dec, 3, and buried there Dec. 13, 1717.


James Fretwell, baptized at Maltby Oct. 7, 1719; eldest surviving son; died Nov. 15, 1756; aged 38; buried at Maltby Nov. 16.


Mary Fretwell, baptized Oct. 26, and buried Oct. 29, 1718.


Elizabeth Fretwell, married at Maltby, May 5, 1745 to Thomas Foulstone, grocer and chandler of Bawtry, afterwards of Stockwith.


Mary Fretwell, baptized Aug. 21, 1721


Ann Fretwell, baptized Aug 19, 1723. (?Ann Fretwell, spinster, buried at Maltby Mar 28, 1767).


Ruth Fretwell, baptized Oct. 19, 1725.


Ralph Fretwell, bap. Oct. 17, 1727.


William Fretwell, baptized Feb. 2. 1732-3. Daughter, Ann Fretwell, died 1767, aged 3 and buried in St. Thomas Church, Salisbury. (?buried at Maltby Aug. 13, 1779, as ‘from London, gent.’).

Generation No. 7

Children of William Fretwell and Elizabeth Smith

James Fretwell, of Heck; born Sept. 7, 1747; died July 3, 1818.


Mary Fretwell, born June 10, 1748; Died July 31 following.


Mary Fretwell, born May 1, and died May 20, 1749.


William Smith Fretwell, of the Parish of Barnby-Don; born in June and baptized July 7, 1755; died Oct. 28, 1779. [3] Married, at Arksey on April 28, 1778, to Mary Harrott, daughter of Thomas Harrott, of Arksey, by Anne his wife, daughter of William Broughton, of Arksey, yeoman.


John Fretwell, born March 12, baptized July 7, 1760. On June 30, 1789, married Elizabeth Keigh(t)ley, daughter of John Keigh(t)ley, of Rainsbutt, in the parish of Adlingfleet. She died June 1853.


Hannah Ann Fretwell, married at Barnby-don on April 6, 1788 to John Scothorp of Heck. [4]


Betty or Elizabeth Fretwell, married John Shillito, of Wrangbrook.

Generation No. 8

Children of William Smith Fretwell and Mary Harrott

Elizabeth Fretwell, born April 16 and baptized April 20, 1790; married William Reynolds, gent.


John Keigh(t)ley Fretwell, born July 12; bap. at Barnby-Don Aug. 7, 1791. Died about 1831, when the name in this family became extinct. Married Hannah Best, daughter of . . Best, of Thorpe. Had a son, John, who died a minor. She later married . . Draper.


Hannah Fretwell, born March 18 and baptized March 26, 1795, at Barnby-Don; married (1st) John Martin, and (2nd) . . Powell.


Anne Fretwell, died an infant.


Mary Fretwell, born at Thorpe in Balne, Feb. 14, and baptized at Barnby-don, Feb. 18, 1798; died April 23, 1867, and buried at Poulton-le-fylde. She married Christopher Newton, of Poulton-le-fylde, co. Lancaster, son of William and Catherine Newton; born April 19, 1790; died March 4, 1861, aged 70; buried at Poulton-le-fylde.

Generation No. 9

Children of Mary Fretwell and Christopher Newton

William Fretwell Newton, M.A., incumbent of St. Mark’s Preston; born Sept. 19, 1826, at Wirksworth, co. Derby, and baptized in Nov. 1826. Living 1877, and has issue. He married, at Histon, co. Cambridge, Nov. 20 1862, Sophia Harris, daughter of Charles Pestall Harris, of Newnham, co. Cambridge, solicitor.


Other issue.

[1] Sic in Pedigree. This would appear to be an error. Perhaps this child should be ascribed to his grandson, William Smith Fretwell, who married Mary Harrott in April 1778. (LMF)
[2] This signifies, it is believed, that he held a fourth part of the manor, or manorial rights of that place.
[3] This date is contradicted by the fact that William and Hannah had 5 children, the oldest of which was born in 1790 and the youngest in Feb. 1798. Should William’s death date be 1797? (LMF)
[4] After the custom of the period, this marriage was announced in a local newspaper of April 12, 1788, thus: ‘A few days ago was married at Barnby-dun, near Doncaster, Mr. John Scothorp, a capital farmer, of Heck, to Miss Fretwell of Thorp, a very amiable lady with a genteel fortune.’

Return to Top of Page

Return to Table of Contents

This page was last updated on 12 June, 2011