Lathrope Family Genealogy

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Early Origins of the Lathrope Name

Obviously, the surname "Lowthroppe" is a compound consisting of two elements, viz., "low" and "throp". Accordingly, it is probable that the first of these is merely the same as the modern English word meaning "not elevated in position", which has been used as an element of place names of "a region or district whose level is lower than that of the surrounding country". Alternatively, it may be derived from a particular Norse proper name. In any case, the second element is almost certainly a variation of the archaic noun "thorp" meaning "a hamlet, village, or small town" (which, originally meant "an outlying farmstead" similar to the Latin noun "villa"). Within this context, the compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary supply a corresponding etymology that affirms an origin consistent with usage as an element of place names in the Danelaw district, i.e., the region of northern and eastern England subjected to repeated Norse invasions between the ninth and eleventh centuries, and most particularly in Yorkshire. Indeed, the village of Lowthorpe can still be found about two thirds of the way between the towns of Bridlington and Driffield just to the south of the main highway, i.e., about four or five miles northeast of Driffield. Moreover, modern topographic maps indicate that it lies at or near the bottom of a relatively steep, south eastward facing slope at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, adjoining the coastal plain of the North Sea (which is about ten miles away). Obviously, this geography is quite consistent with the proposed meaning of the name of the village, which has been in existence at least since the thirteenth century and probably much earlier. Even so, proximity of this location to the seacoast does not rule out derivation from a proper name of some now forgotten Viking invader and, perhaps, both meanings later became blended.

It would seem transparently evident that the surname "Lowthroppe" and all associated variants must derive from the parish and village of Lowthorpe, which lies in the Wapentake of Dickering, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Indeed, Huntington has reported that an early civil record exists which affirms that in the year 1216, Walter de Lowthorpe was elected sherriff of Yorkshire. Of course, "election" must not be construed as a popular vote in any modern sense, but as an appointment by peers. Accordingly, this would seem to indicate that he was, perhaps, a minor noble of some kind. Moreover, true surnames were not used in the thirteenth century; hence, it is clear that "de Lowthorpe" was merely a geographically derived Anglo-Norman cognomen that meant "of Lowthorpe". Concomitantly, in 1292 Walter de Lowthorpe was "called on the carpet" by King Edward I for a putative transgression of royal prerogative apparently regarding revenue associated with the "assize of beer". Clearly, this Walter was probably the son or grandson of the earlier Walter; however, the context, again, suggests that he was likely a minor noble. In the next century during the reign of Richard II (1377-1400), a Robert de Louthorp (Lowthorp) served as chaplain in the parish church of St. Martin. Furthermore, at about this same time, it appears that a branch of the family must have moved about twenty miles south to the vicinity of the town of Beverley since at the death of one Robert Lowthrop in 1392 an inquest was held regarding the disposition of some property in that town that he had donated to the church. Of course, one cannot infer that he actually lived nearby, but it is probable that he and, perhaps, other members of the Lowthroppe family held estates in this locality, i.e., Harthill Wapentake. In any case, in the second half of the fifteenth century it is evident from the will of Robert Lowthorp of Bridlington (made on August 3, 1474) that he had relatives living in the parish of Cherry Burton a few miles north of Beverley. However, this Robert seems to have had no children of his own and, therefore, cannot have been the father of John Lowthroppe of Cherry Burton. Nevertheless, it might be plausibly supposed that he was an uncle of John's father, who may have also been named Robert as is commonly thought, but this is merely speculation.

For completeness, it should be noted that the spelling of "Lowthorpe" was quite variable in early records (as is almost invariably the case with names) and, thus, it was also frequently rendered "Lowthroppe", "Lawthrop", or something similar. Moreover, Middle English pronunciation of the name appears to have been with a long "a" sound in the first syllable (which would also seem characteristic of the spoken language of Yorkshire), rather than a long "o" as might be thought in consideration of modern speech patterns. Accordingly, various spellings such as "Laythroppe" reflecting this usage are also frequently found. Even so, by the seventeenth century, the spelling of the name seems to have become at least partially fixed as "Lothropp" or "Lothrop"; however, it would seem that the original pronunciation must have been retained because later generations seem to have almost invariably rendered the name "Lathrop", which now appears to be the most common form.

During the process of collating these records there have been numerous examples, and not just of the 'Lathrope' name, where misspellings have been carried forward to the next generation. The most common one being the addition of the 'e' onto Lathrop. View examples of misspelt Lathrope.