Nicholas Trask

Male Abt 1556 - 1589

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  • Name  Nicholas Trask 
    Born  Abt 1556  probably, East Coker, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender  Male 
    Died  Apr 1589  Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried  29 Apr 1589  East Coker, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
      By Juel M. Trask

      The Trask family of North America is descended from the Traske who came to the Massachusetts Bay Plantation during the seventeenth century. Captain William Traske was the first to immigrate to the Bay plantation, having come on the ship Zouch Phenix in 1624. Capt. William Traske was followed by Osmund Traske, John Traske and Henry Traske. These men were all brothers and cousins from the village of East Coker, Somersetshire, England. East Coker is located southwest of Yeovil and near the Dorsetshire border.

      During the sixteenth century the Trask family resided at East Coker, Trent, Yeovil, Kingston, Thorne and other locations in Somerset and Dorset. The common spelling of the family name during this period in Somerset was Traske. When Capt. William Traske, Osmund Traske, John Traske and Henry Traske immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Plantation, they brought the Traske spelling with them. At some point during the nineteenth century the family dropped the "e" off the end of the name and spelled the name Trask.

      We know a considerable amount about the Traske family due to the efforts of William Blake Trask. William Blake Trask was the editor of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he lived at Dorchester, Massachusetts.1 William published many articles about the Trask family.

      William Blake Trask corresponded with members of the Trask family in Somerset. George Cecil Trask, Esq. went to East Coker in 1897 and made extracts of the Parish Registers. William published these register extracts in the July, nineteen hundred edition of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.2 The registers listed the earliest Trask entries during the 1560's. In analyzing the names in William Blake Trask's article, I found the oldest names in the transcription are Nicholas Traske (the elder), John Traske (the elder), Nicholas Traske (the son), Stephan Traske, George Traske, William Traske, and Reinold Traske. These names occur in the register between 1564 and 1589. Gwen Guiou Trask the author of the wonderful work The Trask of Nova Scotia 3, studied the registers of East Coker Parish and came up with a different list of names.

      What is the history of the Traske family in England before the mid sixteenth century? This becomes a more difficult question to answer. I have seen several books on English surnames which give the origin of the name Traske from an old Swedish word trask, which meant a fen or bog. The authors concluded that the surname Trask(e) meant a family which lived near a lake or marsh.4

      Reaney gives the origin of the surname Trask as the town of Thirsk in Yorkshire, Eng.5 Thirsk is of ancient origin. It was already in existence at the time of William the Conqueror's survey of lands confiscated from the Saxons and contained in the Doomesday book of 1086 A.D.6 The name of the town of Thirsk has gone through many etymological variations through the long time it has been in existence. Thomas Langdale in his 1822 Topological Dictionary of Yorkshire gave the probable derivation of the name Thirsk as from the British words Tre, a town, and Isk, a river or brook. Thirsk is situated on a stream named the Cod-beck.7

      James Herriot (Alf Wight), the veterinarian known for his television show All Creatures Great and Small and books, says the name Tresche in the Domesday book is a variation of the town's Celtic name, Tre-ussig, meaning "the place by the water." Herriot who had his famous veterinary practice in Thirsk, says that Thirsk in Celtic times was a scattering of clay and wattle huts along the east bank of the Codbeck river. He says the name Thresche of Domesday times was vulgarly pronounced Thrusk.8
      Thresche of the Domesdays book, list two manors and 20 carucates of land. Eight of these had previously been held by Orm and belonged to the King at the time of the Domesday survey. The remaining twelve carucates belonged to Hugh the son of Baltric and were held by Tor. Hugh, son of Baldric, was succeeded by Robert de Stuteville. Robert forfeited his lands by joining Robert, Duke of Normandy in the rebellion against Henry I. His Barony9 was granted to Nigel d'Aubigny.10 The Baronage Mowbray continued as the Lord of Thirsk until the lineage fell dormant during the 15th century with the death of child heiress Ann de Mowbray.11

      The English Surname Traske has no other origin that I have been able to discover. If the Traske family originated from the town of Thirsk in the North Riding of Yorkshire, two questions arise. First, how did the Traske family arise? Second, when did the family arise? I doubt either question can be answered with much assurance. All that is possible is to look at the factual evidence in the records and form hypotheses that might explain the evidence. These hypotheses are no doubt unprovable.

      Some variations of the Trask name are listed below.


      In most references from the time of the Norman invasion of England during the eleventh century until the fourteenth century, the many variations of the Name Traske are usually preceded by the Norman prefix "de" or "of." The Baron of Mowbray was the Lord de Thresk. He also held many other Lordships of manors of the baronage Mowbray. I doubt that the de Thresk family of Yorkshire, Somerset, etc. is descended from the Norman Mowbray family. The d'Aubigny family used "de Mowbray" as their surname after the baronage was created for them as a reward for service to the new English King.12

      The Mowbray family built a castle at Thirsk before 1130-31. James Herriot feels the Mowbray castle attracted craftsmen and merchants who settled in the bailey of the castle and the surrounding area.13 The Normans brought Feudalism to England. Under feudalism the ownership of all lands was claimed by the King. The King then granted Honours14 to his Norman supporters. Most Saxon landowners of Thirsk went from freemen to landless men at the mercy of the new Norman rulers. The craftsmen and merchants that gathered at Thirsk were probably freemen but most were landless. They represented a new rising class. The Baron Mowbray created Knights fees15 and the Knights controlled much of the land of the Mowbray Honour. The Mowbray family occupied a manor at Thirsk for much of their history. The family also had numerous manors scattered around the de Mowbray Honour and moved the household from manor to manor to collect the rent owed them.

      The Baron of Mowbray joined a revolt of the Scots against King Henry II. When the English King defeated the Scots in 1175, King Henry II ordered the castle at Thirsk destroyed. No evidence of the castle remains today, so James Herriot feels the castle was probably constructed of wood.16 Wooden castles were common in the early days of Norman rule of England.17 Did craftsmen and merchants flee the fighting at Thirsk? If some did flee, did any of them take de Thresk for a surname?

      The prefix "de" does not mean the family using the prefix was Norman. The practice of using the french prefix "de" continued in common practice from the Norman invasion until the middle to late fourteenth century. Several hypotheses exist to explain why the practice was discontinued. Other terms of status such as "Esquire" and "Gentleman" came into use. The use of the prefix "de" began to be seen as too cumbersome. Another hypothesis for the dropping of the prefix "de" is that the English were finally throwing off the influence of the Normans. The peasant who moved from his native village felt distinguished by the name of that place as a surname and the designation became hereditary and was passed on to his children. John de Wilton might acquire an estate in Barham, but would not write himself John de Barham, but John de Wilton of Barham.18

      The earliest reference to a person using the surname de Thresk that I have found, is Peter de Tresc. He was the constable of Thirsk castle during the 1140's and 1150's. He also was known as Peter de Hutton (Hotona). Peter seems to have been called by both de Tresc and de Hutton.

      Nigel d'Aubigny, the first Baron Mowbray, died in 1129. His son Roger de Mowbray succeeded to his father's estates in 1138 after a minority of nine years.19 Roger de Mowbray was eighteen or nineteen years old at the time of his succession to his father's estates. He married in 1142 or 1143 to Alice de Gant. Roger de Mowbray was outside the circle of royal administrators that Nigel d'Aubigny stood in and the Mowbray Honour suffered losses of land, status, and security.

      Roger de Mowbray's household staff was made up of men from the middle and lower ranks of the free tenantry. These included Knights holding several fees and lesser tenants holding fractions of one fee, sub-tenures or estates in socage. One of these sub-tenants was Peter de Tresc. Peter was a sub-tenant of Hugh Malebisse. Hugh held one Knight's fee where he is called Hugo Malherbe. The Malebisse fee had been enfoeffed by Robert Malet and forfeit in 1106.20 Robert Malet originally held the Honour of Eye and Hugh Malebisse's lands of Mowbray. Roger de Mowbray quitclaimed lands in the former Honour of Eye to Hugo's son Richard Malebisse in 1179.21

      Hugh Malebisse was steward (dapifer) of the Mowbray household at the same time Peter de Tresc was constable. The constable outranked the Steward and yet Peter de Tresc was a sub-tenant of Hugh Malebisse, who held a knight's fee. Peter de Tresc and Hugh Malebisse held their household positions until 1154. It is interesting that both Hugh Malebisse and Peter de Tresc ended their positions in 1154, the year of the start of the reign of Henry II. One of Hugh Malebisse's executive powers was as guardian of tenant rights. Could this close relationship between the two men mean Peter de Tresc was a sub tenant of Hugo Malebisse's lands held in the Honour of Eye before Nigel d'Aubigny received the Honour?

      Nigel d'Aubigny was ruthless in the control of his tenants. He disinherited many of them.22 Nigel was able to accumulate many small properties in the north and midlands by ousting many ecclesiastical and lay owners. After becoming seriously ill between 1109 and 1114 he became penitent and restored many seized lands. The Carlton and Malebisse families were among the families to have their land seized by Nigel. The de Mowbrays later restored land to both families.

      Peter de Tresc also went by the name Peter de Hutton. The de Huttons (de Hoton) of Hutton Lowcross in the parish of Guisbrough of northern Yorkshire had considerable holdings. William the Conqueror's half brother, Robert, Earl of Mortain was given Guisbrough, Hutton Lowcross and Middleton as a part of his vast holdings. Could Peter de Tresc (de Hutton) be related to this family? One of the holdings at Thirsk was Sand Hutton. Sand Hutton was held by the Carlton family. Did Peter de Tresc (de Hutton) take the name de Hutton from Sand Hutton?

      The day to day administration of the Mowbray household was carried out by four officials: constable, stewart, chaplain and chamberlain. The constable had preference over the steward in the Mowbray household. These appointments were likely made personally by Roger de Mowbray. Peter de Tresc, as constable of the household, would have been military commander in the field and security officer of the household. He would have been in command of the honorial troops. Some of these troops would have been enfeoffed (knighted), some just retained or hired. Peter de Tresc would have fought beside Lord Roger de Mowbray at Northallerton in 1138 and at Lincoln in 1141. Roger de Mowbray was captured by Earl Ranulf of Chester in the battle of Lincoln. Roger was forced to conceded land to the Earl of Chester and most likely forced to marry Alice de Gant at the Earl's insistence.23

      A question arises about Peter de Tresc's status. Since Peter did not hold a knight's fee but was a sub-tenant of Hugo Malebisse who was a holder of a knight's fee, was Peter de Tresc a knight? It is hard to imagine Peter de Tresc leading knights in battle and not being a knight himself. Could Peter's family have held a knight's fee under Robert Malet, Robert de Stuteville or Hugh fitz Baldric? All three men had holdings at Thirsk manor before Nigel d'Aubigny? Robert de Daiville, who succeeded Peter de Tresc as constable in 1154, held five knight's fees in 1166.24 Peter de Tresc as constable would have been in command of the mobile band of knights and sergeants who acted as Roger de Mowbray's bodyguard. Since there was no marshal in the Mowbray household, Peter was likely in charge of the hunt. The huntsmen, grooms, berners, and falconers would have been under Peter's command.

      Roger de Mowbray went on the second crusade to Jerusalem with King Louis of France in 1146-47. Peter de Tresc as his constable would likely have accompanied Roger in command of the personal bodyguard.25 Roger went on further crusades after Peter de Tresc was no longer his Constable. On a crusade to Jerusalem, Roger de Mowbray was captured by the Saracens on July 4, 1187. He was ransomed by the knights Hospitallers and Templars. Roger died after being ransomed and was buried in the Holy Land.26

      Peter de Tresc (de Hutton) was probably not of Norman decent. The fact that he was such a small free holder is an indication of his non Norman origins. Most of the tenants on the larger fees were of Norman origin. If Peter was a de Hutton of the de Hoton family of Hutton Lowcross, then he may have been at Thirsk because of holdings at Sand Hutton on the western boundary of Thirsk parish. The Sand Hutton cross marks the spot where Thirsk, Sand Hutton and Carlton Miniott meet.27

      Peter de Tresc had holdings in Arden (Herdena, Erden, xii century). These holdings were probably as a sub-tenant of Hugh Malebisse. Part of Hugh Malebisse's knight's fee was in Arden.28 In 1154 Petri de Tresc made a gift of lands in the village of Hardenie (Arden) for the founding of a Benedictine nunnery there. Roger de Mowbray confirmed the gift.29 Elizabeth Carlton quitclaimed her right in Arden to the Prioress in 1262. She was said to be the heiress of Peter de Hutton (de Tresc).30 One of the Witnesses to Roger de Mowbray's confirmation of Peter de Tresc's gift of lands in Arden for the founding of the Nunnery was Walter de Carlton. Does this indicate some connection between Peter de Tresc (de Hutton) and the Carlton family, who held lands in Carlton Miniott and Sand Hutton?31 Sand Hutton is thought to have been appurtenant to the manor of Carlton Miniott.32

      It was commonly expected in the mid 12th century, that when you became ill or died you would donate property to the church. Roger de Mowbray founded Byland Abbey in 1143 and the Priory of Newburgh in 1145. Roger and his tenants donated much land to these religious houses. There was no social safety net other than the Lord of the manor and the church. Very often people who donated property to the church would be cared for in old age or ill health by the religious house receiving the donated property. Since Peter de Tresc disappears from the Mowbray Charters in 1155, it is possible that he became ill sometime after 1155.33 Did Peter de Tresc enter Rievaulx Abbey since he donated land at Arden to the Abbey in 1154?34 Since the church held over half England in the 12th century, the church was the best path to land tenure for the disenfranchised.

      A mention of a descendant of Peter de Tresc other than Elizabeth Carlton as his heiress in 1262, is a charter of 1154 by Roger de Mowbray giving the Vill of Thorpe le Willows to Byland Abbey. One of the witnesses to the Charter is Rogero filio Peter de Tresc (Roger, son of Peter de Tresc). Hugo Malebisse is also a witness to the charter. Peter de Tresc is not a witness to the charter.35

      Roger, son of Peter de Tresc, does not appear in any other Mowbray Charters. What happens to Roger, son of Peter de Tresc? Did he leave the holdings of Roger de Mowbray? Could Roger, son of Peter de Tresc (de Hutton), have gone by the name de Hutton and not by de Tresc? Roger de Hutton shows up as a witness to other charters. One is a charter between 1154 and 1166, where Roger de Mowbray restores to Roger de Carlton, son of Walter de Carlton and his mother Maud de Carlton, the Manors of Old Carlton (Miniott), Islebeck and a house in Tresc (Thirsk) for the third part of the service of one knight. Roger de Hutton is one of the Witnesses to this charter. Another witness is Peter de Tresc's Landlord at Arden, Hugo Malebisse.36

      Nigel de Mowbray, Roger de Mowbray's son and heir, also confirmed his Father's gift of Carlton Miniott to Roger de Carlton and his mother Maud, for a third part of the service of one knight. Roger de Hutton (de Huton) and Hugh de Malebisse also witnessed this charter.37 Roger de Hutton's name does not appear in any other of the Mowbray Charters.

      When serving as a witness to Mowbray Charters during the 1140's and 50's, Peter the Constable of the Mowbray household used the name Peter de Tresc. When Roger de Mowbray in 1154 confirmed Peter's gift of common pasture at Arden to Rievaulx abbey, he was referred to as Peter de Tresc.38 In 1169 when Roger de Mowbray confirmed the land given by Peter for the Nunnery at Arden, Peter was referred to as Peter de Hotona (Hutton).39

      It seems likely that Peter de Tresc had children besides Roger. Did Peter de Tresc (de Hutton) leave descendants that used de Tresc as a surname? If Roger de Hutona of Thirsk is the same person as Roger, son of Peter de Tresc, then Peter's children may have used the name de Hutton.

      There are two other references to persons using the name de Tresc in the Mowbray Charters. One is Engeleri de Thresk who was one of several Mowbray tenants giving land to Byland Abbey in 1190. On other occasions, he was referred to in the charters as Engleram de Torp (1179).40 The other person in the charters referred to by the name de Tresc is Robert de Tresco. Robert appears as a witness to a charter that was written sometime before 1182. In the charter Roger de Mowbray gave St. Leonard's hospital of York, 32 acres of meadow in South cave in York. Other witnesses to the charter include Hugo Malebisse and Roger, brother of the archdeacon.41 Robert de Tresco only occurs in this one charter. Could Robert be a son of Peter de Tresc? Could Roger brother of the archdeacon, be Roger son of Peter de Tresc?

      In all the Mowbray charters that Peter witnessed, he always signed his name Peter de Tresc. He never signed his name Peter de Hutton in any document that I have been able to find. The only instances where I can find him called Peter de Hutton are in Charters where others were referring to him. Peter de Tresc may have reverted to using the surname de Hutton after he was no longer the constable of the household of Roger de Mowbray but he never signed his name Peter de Hutton in any documents that I have found.

      Who were the de Hutton's? The de Hutton (de Hotona) family of Hutton Lowcross in northern Yorkshire had a close connections to the Great Gyseburne Priory. Hutton Lowcross was within the Guisbrough parish. The de Huttons donated much property to the Priory and appear in the Charters from the formation of the priory during the early 12th century. The de Tresk name appears in a charter of Gyseburne Priory dated June 2, 1223. Nicholaum de Tresk appears in the charter as Canon of Gyseburne Priory.42 Could some of Peter de Tresc's (de Hutton) descendants have come to Hutton Lowcross and become involved with Gyseburne Priory? The Priory of Gyseburne held small parcels of land in Thirsk.43

      In the Gyseburne charters of the 13th century is a will of Hugo Capellanus, filius (son) Danielis de Jarum. One witness to the will is Willelmo de Tresc.44 Yarm of the 12th and 13th centuries was an important port on the east coast of northern Yorkshire. William de Tresc also was a witness to a will of Walterus, filius (son) Raineri of Ormesby.45 Are William de Tresc and Nicholas de Tresk descendants of Peter de Tresc?

      Could Peter de Tresc, the constable of the Mowbray household at Thirsk castle, have originated from the manor of Sand Hutton west of Thirsk manor? Sand Hutton was said to be appurtenant to the manor of Carlton Miniott. Apparently a close relationship existed between Peter de Tresc (de Hutton) and the Carlton Family.46
      Walter Giffard was Archbishop of Yorkshire from 1266-1279. Two persons with the surname de Tresk show up in the register of Archbishop Giffard in ecclesiastical positions during the decade of the 1270's, Ralph de Tresk and Thomas de Tresk. Ralph de Tresk was examined as a deacon during 1270 with the examined ecclesia of Blida. Thomas de Tresk is listed as Archdeacon of the deanery of Cleveland in the register in 1275.47

      Walter Giffard was succeeded by William Wickwane as Lord Archbishop of York. William was Archbishop from 1279-1285. Archbishop Wickwane's register contains a mandate of Oct. 30, 1281 to the Dean of Beverly, to conduct certain penitents to Bishop Burton, on their way to York by way of Market Weighton, Hayton and Stamford Bridge. Robertus de Trescke, clericus, is listed as one of the penitents.48

      John le Romeyn was the Lord Archbishop of York that followed Archbishop Wickwane. His term as Archbishop was 1286-1296. His register contains no entries of persons with the surname de Tresk.49
      During the 14th century, the de Thresks are disappearing from the ecclesiastical records of Yorkshire but numerous persons with the de Thresk or variations of the name show up in the Registry of The Freemen of The City of York.50 The freemen list was probably copied from the chamberlain's account books. No person carried on any trade in the City of York without first obtaining a franchise by paying a fee and being admitted a freeman in one of the trade guilds. In these records, the earliest person of the surname de Tresk, is Johannes de Thresk who was admitted to the sutor (cobblers) guild in 1300.51 At the same time Adam de Moubrai, tannour, is listed. Is Johannes de Thresk any relation to Peter de Tresk (de Hutton) of the Mowbray household? My guess is that Johannes de Thresk is of no relation to Peter de Tresc. I think he probably is a tradesman of Thirsk who immigrated to the City of York from Thirsk and having no surname, began using the name de Thresk.52

      Adam de Moubrai, tannour, is interesting. Who could he be? I doubt he was a member of the powerful Norman de Mowbray family. Mark Antony Lower says in his classic work on English Surnames, peasants who removed from their native place often took the surname of the landed family of their home. "Thus, without having aspired to such an honour, the poor plebeian found himself assimilated to the Lord of his native hamlet."53

      A listing of some of the freemen of the city of York follows. These freemen are all listed in vol. 96, of the Surtees Society Publications: Hugo de Thresk, girdeler, 1312; Alexander de Thresk, taillour, 1333; Thomas de Thresk, hayrester, 1349; Johannes Deken, de Thresk, webster, 1349 (a person of surname Deken, from Thirsk); Walterus de Thresk, tannator, 1360 (any relationship to Sir Walter de Thresk of Somerset); Rogerus de Thresk, barker, 1365 (I doubt any relation to Peter de Tresc); Willelmus de Thresk, walker, 1379; Willelmus de Thresk, taillour, 1402; Johannes Thresk, cordwaner, 1406; Robertus Thresk fil (son) Willelmi Thresk, 1412 (note the dropping of the prefix de); Willelmus Thresk, lymner, 1419; Johannes Thresk, merchant, 1426; Johannes Thrisk, listed as one of the chamberlains under mayor Will. Ormesheued for the year 1432 (the merchant of 1426); Johannes Thrisk, merchant, listed as Lord Mayor of the city of York for 1441; Thomas Thrisk, tailliour, 1459; Johannes Thrysk, listed as Lord Mayor of the city of York again in 1461 (a second term).

      Vol. II of the Freemen of York lists a Henry Thrisk, carver, in 1692.54 This is the only listing for the Thresk name in vol. II.

      The York Memorandum Book, part 1, 1376-1419, lists a William de Thresk, a fuller living in the city of Deverwyk.55 Volume II of the York Memorandum Book, lists in 1388, Johannis de Thresk, priest at St. Michael of Berefrido, York. For the same year, Willelmus de Thresk is listed as rector at Fossegate.56

      Johannes Thrisk (Thrysk), merchant and Lord Mayor of the city of York in 1441 and 1461 was a powerful wool merchant and exporter. Johannes Thrisk was said to be one of the most powerful merchants of the city of York during the 15th century. The town of Thirsk's most important commodity of trade in the 12th century was wool and dyed and rayed cloth.57 Could Johannes Thrisk the powerful 15th century wool merchant of the city of York, be descended from some of the wool merchants of Thirsk? The early wills of people of the city of York give the obituary of Christiana Thirsk, the first wife of John Thrisk, merchant and Lord Mayor of York in 1442 and 1462. The will was dated July 5, 1434. She was buried in the church of St. John in Hungate.58

      I feel the de Thresk with ecclesiastical connections in Yorkshire are most likely to be the antecedents of the Somerset de Thresks'. The 14th century de Thresks of Somerset had strong ecclesiastical connections and all were appointed to their church positions by the Lord William de Montecute, Earl of Salisbury. To find their origin in Yorkshire I feel we need to look for de Thresks with strong connections to the church.

      An important clue to the origin of the de Thresk family of 14th century Somersetshire may be Robert de Thresk. Robert de Thresk was a clerk of York diocese and an eminent ecclesiastical lawyer. "In 1342 the archbishop petitioned the pope for an expectation for him at Salisbury, although he holds the church of Eastry in the diocese of Canterbury." He was said to be skilled in civil and cannon law. He was admitted a canon Jan. 8, 1343 at Salisbury cathedral.59

      Robert de Thresk was granted the prebend60 of Thorpe in the collegiate church of Howden, in September 1345. His estate in the prebend of Thorpe was ratified by the King on Feb.11, 1349. During 1346-47 he was also granted the prebend of Preston. He was described as having labored in the Roman court for twelve years. He also held in 1145, the prebends of Heytesbury and Bangor. In Oct. of 1349, John, bishop of Worcester, chancellor of the kingdom, petitioned the pope on Robert's behalf for the prebend of Chichester. He was chaplain to Bertrand d'Eux, cardinal of St. Mark and later of Santa Sabina, who succeeded Kirkby as Archdeacon of Dorset. In Feb. 1349, Robert de Thresk had letters authorizing him to appoint attorneys to represent him while staying beyond the seas. He died and was buried at the Roman curia before Mar. 1351.61 Robert de Thresk must have left a large estate.

      The church of St. Mary The Virgin at Thirsk has an interesting old monument of defaced brass. It is to Robert Thresk, rector of Market Bosworth, Leicestershire. In 1415 Robert Thresk, a King's clerk, obtained royal license to found a chantry62 there for three priests. The work was completed by his executors in 1440. Various grants of land were made to this chantry in 1572, 1607 and 1608.63

      Concurrently with Robert de Thresk's period of tenure as a powerful canon in Salisbury, several persons with the surname de Thresk were appointed to ecclesiastical positions by William de Montecuto, Earl of Salisbury. These church positions were all located just west of Salisbury in the Earl's holdings at or near Sutton Montagu.

      The earliest reference I found to de Thresk in Somerset was in the register of Bishop Ralph (The register of Radulphi de Salopia). "June 11, 1342, at Trente. The lord admitted Thomas Threske, acolyte, to the church of Jerlynton at the presentation of the Lord William de Monte Acuto, Earl of Salisbury."64

      Who was this Thomas de Thresk, acolyte? He was admitted at Trente in Somerset by Bishop Ralph to the Church of Jerlynton. A Thomas de Thresk, who was a Knight Hospitaller, applied to the Knights Hospitiller for a pension in the 1330's. He was awarded a pension from the order. The Knights Hospitallers were a half cleric and half military order related to the Knights Templars. Both orders were founded in Jerusalem during the crusades.65 The order had become wealthy and held vast amounts of property in England and Europe. The Pope banned both orders later.

      Could this pensioned Knight Hospitaller be the Thomas de Thresk, acolyte, presented by Lord de Monte Acuto, Earl of Salisbury, to Bishop Ralph for rector of the church at Jerlynton in Somerset? Could Thomas Thresk, acolyte, have been any relation to Robert de Thresk, the canon of Salisbury Cathedral? William de Monte Acuto, Earl of Salisbury, must have been acquainted with both Robert de Thresk, canon of Salisbury Cathedral and Thomas Thresk, acolyte, of Jerlynton. Jerlynton is in the part of Somerset where a few years later, Lord John de Thresk and Sir Walter de Thresk were granted churches by Bishop Ralph at the presentation of Lord William de Monte Acuto.

      More about Thomas Threske of the church of Jerlynton. "May 2, 1343 A.D. at London. The lord dispensed with Thomas Threske, rector of the church of Jerlynton, that he can absent himself from his said church for three years, and in the meantime let his church to farm. Each of the said three years he shall distribute one mark to his poor parishioners and expend 20s each year on the repairs of the houses of the rectory. He shall leave a fit proxy there."66

      Here Thomas Threske is said to be rector of the church at Jerlynton and on June 11, 1342 he was said to be acolyte. Acolyte as a church position is a minor order on the level with deacon. How could Thomas Threske have been a minor acolyte of the church of Jerlynton on June 11, 1342 and rector there, May 2, 1343?

      In the autumn of 1348 the great plague devastated Somerset. Over the next few years a large portion of the population of Somerset and Dorset died of the plague. Entire manors went vacant because too few people were left alive to work them. Tremendous social upheaval occurred during the second half of the 14th century. Large numbers of manors changed hands. The entire 14th century was a time of major unrest in Europe and England.67

      In 1361 another Threske appears in Bishop Ralph's register. "April 14, 1361 A.D. at Wyveliscombe. The Lord instituted Sir Thomas Baldewyne, priest to the archpresbitery of the church of Pokyngton, vacant by the resignation of Sir Walter Threske, at the presentation of William de Monte Acuto, Earl of Salisbury."68
      Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury died and the next four Bishops did not keep registers due to the social upheaval caused by the plague. The Abbey of Athelney kept a register from 1213 A.D. through the 1400's. The Abbey of Athelney is believed to be on the hill that was the Isle of Athelney in the Somerset marshes, where King Alfred sought refuge. The Abbey register has this entry for 1361 A.D. "I, John son of Thomas de Ashford, have given to the Lord John de Thresk rector of Sutton Montagu all my lands &c. in the parishes of Ilton, Wyghtlakyngton, and South Bradene. Witnesses: John Sylvein, John Delynton, John Hilecomb, John Knolle. 35 Ed. III (1361)."69

      The Abbey register has the following entry for 1364. "Grant by John Chuket, Robert atte Hull, William Alrehey and Johanna his wife, and Alice de Northdone, nephews and heirs of Peter de Chubworth to John de Thresk and Walter de Thresk of all the lands &c. which the said Peter had of the gift of John de Hilbar in the Hundred of Abedike; 38 Ed. III(1364). Witnesses: John atte Yoo, Nicholas Bolors, William Portman, John Jurdeyn, John Crop."70

      John de Thresk and Walter de Thresk also show up in a 1367 entry of The Feet Of Fines, Edward III to Richard II. "At Westminster in the quinzaine of St. Hillary and afterwards in the octave of St. John Baptist between John de Thresk clerk and William de Milbourne querents; and John Beaumont and Joan his wife deforciants; for a messuage and a carucate of land in Sutton Crawethorn and Corston which Joan who was wife of Thomas de Crawethorn held for life. John Beaumont and Joan granted for themselves and the heirs of John that the said tenement which after the death of Joan should remain to Alice who was wife of Robert de Crawethorn and which after the decease of Joan and Alice, to John Beaumont ought to revert, shall remain after the decease of Joan and Alice to John de Thresk and William and after the decease of John de Thresk and William to Walter de Thresk and his heirs; for this John de Thresk and William gave John Beaumont and Joan his wife one hundred marcs of silver."71

      Sutton Crawethorn and Corston are located adjacent to Sutton Montegu and north of Trente. One hundred silver marcs was a substantial sum of money. Could this land and the land that John de Thresk received from John de Ashford and was to go to Walter de Thresk and his heirs, have formed the basis for the origin of the mid-sixteenth century Traske family of Trente, East Coker, Yeovil, etc? There can be no doubt that John de Thresk and Walter de Thresk were related. Were John and Walter de Thresk decedents of Thomas Thresk, rector of Jerlynton? All of the lands listed in these registers are near the locations of the Traske family of the mid-sixteenth century. The ceremony at which Lord William de Monte Acuto presented Thomas Thresk to Bishop Ralph for the church of Jerlynton took place June 11, 1342 at Trent, home to Traske in the 16th century.

      During the 16th Century in Somerset, Traskes continue the four hundred year association of the de Thresk family with the church that had begun during their 12th century connection to the Baronage Mowbray, at Thirsk in Northern Yorkshire. Roger de Mowbray founded the Cistercian Byland Abbey in 1143. Two years later in 1145 Roger founded the Augustinian Newburgh Priory. The National Dictionary Of Biography says that Roger de Mowbray's father Nigel d'Aubigny became a monk before his death.72

      Sampson d'Aubigny was Nigel d'Aubigny's nephew. He was chaplain of the Mowbray household under Nigel d'Aubigny and continued in that position under his cousin Roger de Mowbray until 1154. Sampson was a chaplain of the Mowbray household when Peter de Tresc was constable. Sampson d'Aubigny's status was high and he witnessed charters under his own name and independent of his clergy membership. It was at Sampson d'Aubignys' insistence that some of the churches of the Mowbray Honour were given to the Newburgh Priory. They were granted on the requirement that Sampson's son Roger should succeed to them. Roger d'Aubigny became canon of York later. Sampson d'Aubigny entered the Abbey of Newburgh as a monk after 1154.73

      Could Peter de Tresc have entered Newburgh, Byland or Rievaulx at about the same time? Peter had donated land in Arden to Rievaulx, therefore this is a good guess about where Peter de Tresc disappeared to in 1155. It would not surprise me to find that Hugo Malebisse I, the steward, also entered one of the monasteries founded by the Mowbrays, since he disappears from the charters at about the same time as Sampson d'Aubigny and Peter de Tresc.

      Why would the constable, steward and chaplain of the Mowbray household at Thirsk, all leave their positions at about the same time in 1154? Two important events occurred in 1154. King Stephen was replaced by Henry II and Gundreda d'Aubigny, Roger de Mowbray's mother, died. Roger de Mowbray's household troops were involved in much of the trouble at the end of King Stephen's reign. Did either of these events have anything to do with the major changes in the Mowbray household staff?

      The de Thresks' who are found in various ecclesiastical positions during the 13th and 14th centuries may have come directly or indirectly from one of the monasteries in the Mowbray Honour. It was later that priests in England were forbidden to marry and have families. Even then, marriage was banned only for high priests and many did not comply with the Archbishop's order.

      Traske continued to occupy church positions during the 16th century in Somerset. "June 6, 1559. The like of Robert Traske, clerk, to the vicarage of Evercriche, vacant by the death of the last incumbent, on the presentation of John Kaynes, esquire."74 This was after the upheaval caused when Henry VIII had declared himself head of the English church. In 1536, parliament declared the lesser monastic houses corrupt and confiscated the property of 376 monasteries (the dissolution).75

      In William Blake Trask's article "The Traske Family in England" in the July, 1900 issue of the NEHGR, George Cecil Trask, Esq. mentions a Robert Trask instituted the diaconate of Banwell, 19 Nov. 1582. He further speculates that this Robert Traske may have been the son of John Traske of Trent.76

      In volume 23 of S.R.S. another entry shows the association of the Traske to the church during the 17th century. "Articles against Thomas Marsh and Thomas Traske wardens at Yevel [Yeovil]. Some of the disorders at the Church ale at Yeavell this year 1607. It was an usual thing upon the "saboth" day to have minstrelsie and dauncinge and "carriynge men vpon a cavell stafe, the wardinges themselves Thomas Marshe and Roger Traske wear willingly so caried to the church." Witness: Thomas Braine, Thomas Jarves, etc."77

      In volume 51 of the S.R.S. is the following indenture made by John Trask of Homer in Trent, `Clercke`. "At Ilchester, April 4, in the 12th year of James I., before Thomas Warr, J.P., John Trask desires:- This indenture made March 1, in the 11th year of James I, 1613, between John Trask of Homer in Trent, `clercke`, and Edward Quantock of Homer, yeoman, witnesseth that J.T. for 260 l. hath sold E.Q. that messuage in Trent late in the tenure of Robert Trask, his father and now in that of E.Q., with all buildings and lands and rights belonging and all deeds concerning the premises: except out of this grant the following closes: that close of pasture in Trent called Pitts containing 7a.; the close of meadow next to the river adjoining Pitts on the south-west side, containing 3 1/2 a. ; the little parrock next to the river also adjoining Pitts on the southwest side containing 1 a. ;that close of pasture called Waterslade containing 5 a. : -heretofore sold unto John Fry of Chilton Canteloe, yeoman, by Edmond Hongerford of North Standen in Wiltshire, gentleman, - and the patronage of the church of Trent; to hold of the chief lord of the fee by rents accustomed. And J.T. doth covenant that E.Q. may peaceably hold the premises without let of J.T. or Edmund Hungerford, except for estates granted by Edmund Rowe, deceased, sometimes owner of the premises, to Robert Trask and Avice his wife." 78

      This paper must be considered a work in progress since I have not answered the question of the origin of the Trask(e) family of 16th century Somerset. I do not believe we will ever be able to connect the Trask(e) of Somerset with 100% certainty to their original ancestors. I hope someone will be able to prove my pessimistic prediction in error! I will continue to research the question of the origin of the Trask(e) family of Somerset and America. I have many leads to follow and will continue my research. It is very time consuming work but very satisfying to me.

      As to the question of the general origin of the de Thresk family of England, I feel it is most probable they originated from the manor of Thirsk in the Mowbray Honour. Most likely during the 12th or 13th century. It is also probable that more than one family left the Mowbray manor of Thirsk and began using the surname de Thresk or one of its variations.

      In this paper on different occasions, I have used different spellings for names and occupations. This is because the names are spelled many different ways in the records. Sometimes I have given the names as they were spelled in the medieval records or charters, most all of which are in medieval Latin. For example Peter de Tresc is given at different times in the charters as Petri de Tresc and Petrus de Tresc. My knowledge of Latin was stretched to the limit by some of the Medieval vocabulary. I am not a Latin scholar so please forgive any errors in translation.

      1 William Blake Trask, Captain William Traske and Some of His Descendants, New England Historical And Genealogical Register, July, 1901, pp. 321-330.
      2 William Blake Trask, The Trask Family in England, New England Historical and Genealogical Register, July, 1900. pp. 279-283.
      3 Gwen Guiou Trask, Elias Trask, his children and Their Succeeding Race,The Trasks of Nova Scotia, Sentinel Printing Limited, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1979. Available from the author, Box 1710, RR 1, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia B54A5.
      4 Henry Harrison, Surnames of The United Kingdom, p. 216.
      5 Percy Hide Reaney, The Origin of English Surnames, p. 351.
      6 A History Of Yorkshire North Riding, The Victorian County History of Yorkshire North Riding, Vol. II, pp. 58-70.
      7 Thomas Langsdale, A Topological Dictionary of yorkshire, transcribed by Colin Hinson, UK and Ireland Genealogical Information Service.
      8 James Herriot, James Herriot's Yorkshire, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1979.
      9 Baron: The lowest rank of peerage. In ascending order, Baron, Viscount, Earl (Count), Marquis, Duke.
      10 A History Of Yorkshire North Riding: The Victorian History of Yorkshire North Riding, Vol. II, pp.58-70.
      11 A History Of Yorkshire North Riding, vol. II, p.63.
      12 Charters Of The Honour Of Mowbray-1107-1191, Ed. D. E. Greenway, Vol. 1, The British Academy, The Oxford University Press, London, 1972.
      13 James Herriot's Yorkshire, p.118.
      14 Honour: A reward of land and property given by William the Conqueror to his supporters.
      15 Knight's Fee: Land and property sufficient to support one knight and his followers, who pledge their loyalty and support to the Lord of the Honour (enfoeffment).
      16 James Herriot's Yorkshire, p.118.
      17 A Story Of Everyday Things In England-Vol. 1, 1066 To 1499, Marjorie and C.H.B. Quennell, p. 30, G.P. Putnam, New York, 1918.
      18 English Surnames, Mark Antony Lower, p.48.
      19 Charters Of The Honour of Mowbray, 1107-1191, ed. D.E. Greenway, p. xxvi. Vol. 1 of The British Academy series entitled 'Records of the Social and Economic History of England and Wales". The Oxford University Press, 1972.
      20 The Mowbray Charters, p. 240.
      21 The Mowbray Charters, pp.240-241.
      22 Paul Dalton, Conquest, Anarchy and Lordship,Yorkshire, 1066-1154, pp. 275-283. Cambridge University Press.
      23 Mowbray Charters, pp.xxvii-xxviii.
      24 Mowbray Charters, p. lx.
      25 Mowbray Charters, pp. xxvi,116,126.
      26 Mowbray Charters, pp. xxxi,xxxii.
      27 The Victorian History Of The County Of York: North Riding , ed. William Page, vol. II, pp. 60,65: St. Catherine Press.
      28 Mowbray Charters, p. 264.
      29 Mowbray Charters, pp. 164,165.
      30 VCH North Riding, vol. II, p.34.
      31 VCH North Riding, vol. II, p. 65.
      32 Victorian County History of Yorkshire-North Riding, Vol. II, p.65.
      33 The Mowbray Charters, charter 238, p. 164.
      34 The Mowbray Charters, PP. 164-165.
      35 Mowbray Charters, pp. 38,39.
      36 The Mowbray Charters, pp. 226,227.
      37 Mowbray Charters, pp. 226-228.
      38 The Mowbray Charters, p.164,165.
      39 The Mowbray Charters, pp. 20-21.
      40 The Mowbray Charters, pp.56,250.
      41 The Mowbray Charters, p. 201.
      42 Cartularium Prioratus De Gyseburne, Surtees Society Publications, vol. 86, pp. 102-111.
      43 Cartularium Prioratus de Gyseburne, Surtees Society Publications, vol. 86. pp. 69,70,73.
      44 Gyseburne Charters, p. 164.
      45 Gyseburne Charters, pp. 258,259.
      46 A History of Yorkshire North Riding, VCH, vol. II, p.64.
      47 Archbishop Giffard's Registry, The Surtees Society Publications, vol. 109, pp.196,283.
      48 The Register Of William Wickwane, The Surtees Society Publications, vol. 114, p. 15.
      49 The Register Of John le Romeyn Archbishop of York, Surtees Society Publications, vol. 123.
      50 Registry of The Freemen of The City of York, Publications of The Surtees Society, vol. I (1272-1558).
      51 Freemen of York, Vol. 1, p. 8.
      52 Registry of the Freemen of York Vol.I 1272-1558 , The Publications of The Surtees Society, Vol. 96.
      53 English Surnames, Mark Antony Lower, p.48.
      54 Freemen of York,Vol II, Publications of the Surtees Society, vol. 102.
      55 York Memorandum Book, part I, 1376-1419, The publications of The Surtees Society, vol. 20, p.71.
      56 York Memorial Book Part II- 1388-1493, Publications of The Surtees Society, vol. 125, pp. 20,22.
      57 The Mowbray Charters, p. liv.
      58 Testamentia Eloracensia, The Surtees Society Publications,vol.4, p.247.
      59 Hemingby's Register, The Wiltshire Archeological And Natural History Society Publications, vol. 18, entry 35,36.
      60 Prebend: A canon with a stipend or property with income.
      61 Hemingby's Register, pp. 239-240.
      62 Chantry: Chapel built specially for prayers or mass for the benefactors soul.
      63 VCH North Riding, Vol. II, pp.68,69.
      64 The Register of Radulphi de Salopia, Somerset Record Society Publications, vol. 10, p. 446.
      65 The Knights Hospitallers in England, The publications of The Camden Society, vol. 65, p. 207.
      66 Bishop Ralph's Register, SRS,vol.10, p. 463.
      67 A Distant Mirror, The Calamitous 14th Century, Barbara W. Tuchman,1978. Ballantine Books, New York.
      68 Bishop Ralph's Register, p.762.
      69 The Cartularies Of Muchelney And Athelney Abbeys, Somerset Record Society Publications, vol. 14, entry 41, p.138.
      70 Register of the Abbey of Athelney, SRS, vol.14, entry 43, p. 138.
      71 Feet Of Fines, Edward III to Richard II, Somerset Record Society Publications, vol. 117, p. 67.
      72 A History of Yorkshire North Riding, vol. II, p.62.
      73 The Mowbray Charters, pp.lxv,lxvi.
      74 The Register Of Bishop Bourne, Somerset Record Society Publications, vol. 55, p. 156.
      75 A History Of The British People, Edward Maslin Hulme, p. 197-221. The Century Co. New York and London, 1924.
      76 The Traske Family in England, NEHGR, July, 1900. pp.279-283.,77 The Quarter Session Records, Somerset Record Society Publications, vol.23, pp. 5,6.
      78 Somerset Enrolled Deeds, Somerset Record Society Publications, vol. 51, p.196.
    Person ID  I26137  Bryant
    Last Modified  30 Sep 2006 

     1. Agnes Trask
     2. Johane Trask,   d. 1582
     3. Joan Trask
     4. William Trask,   d. 16 May 1666, Salem, Essex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F1202  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Abt 1556 - probably, East Coker, Somerset, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - Apr 1589 - Somerset, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - 29 Apr 1589 - East Coker, Somerset, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
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    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S141] IGI, LDS.

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