Our story picks up with two people;
Lydia Townsend married Lawrence Copeland on
October 10, 1651 in Braintree, Massachusets. They were
my 7th great grandparents. The Copeland story is found
at Copeland Line.
Lydia Townsend Pedegree
Major Humphrey Atherton
Major Humphrey Atherton was my 8th great grandfather.
For his story and line of decendants see
Atherton/Weeks Family Line
Humphrey Atherton Pedegree
Agnes of Lancashire
Agnes Lancashire was the wife of William Atherton
(1225-1280) They were my 20th great grandparents.
She was descended from the DeMolis line of Normans.
The Three lines of ancestors (above) emerged from the
descendants of Rollo, a Norsman who settled in the
coastal area of France which became Normandy under the
rule of him and his descendants.
Descendants of Rollo
The story unfolds:
If other researchers are correct, I discovered that the
wife of Lawrence Copeland, Lydia Townsend (My 7th great
grandparents) come from a long line of titled Englishmen
who, like many others, had roots in the Normandy
province of France. I find my 24th great grandfather may
have been William De Tunneshende born in Normandy in the
year 1145. The family name has had several alterations
over the years going to Atte Tunneshende in the 1200's,
and them to Tunnesende and back to Atte Townshende
before becoming Townsend in the 1300's. Many of those
who carried the name were awarded knighthood.
Interesting ... but just interesting. But I am left with
a small mystery. Can anyone tell me ... is "Atte" is a
prefix like "De" or "Von", or is it a given name? Any
ideas? But, not all that surprising, we find that Roger
Townsend (1330-1400) my 17th great grandfather, was
married to Catherine Atherton and we find the Atherton
clan among our ancestors in America.
Maj Gen Humphrey Atherton (1607-1661) was my 8th
great grandfather. In addition, Walter Tunneshende (b1188),
my 22nd great-grandfather was married to Elizabeth
DeHautsville. Gerard Tancred De Hauteville (930-1001)
was my 29th great grandfather. He, of course was an
ancestor of our Chamberlain line of ancestors, the line
that came to Brittan with William the Conquer from
Normandy. Our ancestry is a tangled web.
I tried to make that connection with Our Townsend
ancestors and the Atherton ancestors way back in England
in the 1300's. I couldn't do it. Catherine Atherton who
married Roger Townsend, was the daughter of John
DeAtherton but her line ended at that point. I traced
the Atherton line back to Robert Atherton (b 1100), my
24th great grandfather Lancashire, England and there was
a period around the 1300's that the family used the last
name of De Atherton so I am reasonably sure that there
is a connection. The use of DeAtherton seems to indicate
roots in Normandy as did the Townsend clan. But that is
put in doubt by the suggestion that it derives from
English personal name and the suffix tun, meaning an
enclosure, farmstead or manor estate Along the way
in our search we find this:
Atherton Hall replaced the
Lodge Hall as the seat of the Athertons who had been
lords of the manor of Atherton since the township
emerged in the Middle Ages.
In 1723, Richard Vernon Atherton, "Mad Richard", began
building a new mansion to designs by William Wakefield
at a cost of £63,000. (£2,380,000 as of 2016), The
hall's construction was described by Lunn as, "A
testimony to his pride, vanity and insanity". It was
unfinished at the time of Richard Atherton's death in
1726 and completed by his son-in-law Robert Gwillym in
1743 The hall's façade
was 102 feet wide supported by Ionic
fluted pillars and pilasters.
Its Great Hall measured 36 feet by 45 feet. The hall is
described in "Vitruvius
vol.iii p. 89.
Mad Richard was most likely a cousin since he built his
"hall" well after our
Maj Gen Humphrey Atherton
immigrated to America. We also find in reference to the
town of Atherton ...
Atherton was recorded as Aderton in 1212 and 1242, and
Atherton in 1259. Opinions differ as to the derivation
of the name. One is the farmstead or village of a man
named Aethelhere, an Old English personal name and the
suffix tun, meaning an enclosure, farmstead or manor
estate; another is adre, Saxon for little brook with the
suffix tun. Either is possible as Atherton is bounded by
brooks to the west and south, and crossed by several
others. The western boundary is Hindsford Brook,
originally named Goderic Brook after a Saxon saint. The
manor was held by the Atherton family from the de
Botelers, whose chief manor was at Warrington. William
and Nicholas Atherton fought at the
Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The manor house was
situated towards the south of the ancient township.
Apparently this William is the same as Sir William
ATHERTON (1384-1435) our 15th great grandfather. Many of
the clan held the title of "Sir" indicating knighthood.
I discovered that William
Atherton (1225-1280) married Agnes Lancashire, the
daughter of Sir Nicholas Sherriff DeMoels with a long
line of ancestors who included Richard I "The Fearless"
Duke of Normandy. He, of course also initiated our
Tankerville line of ancestors, yet another connection in
our tree which looks to be more and more like a web. See
To tie it all together I invite you to view The
Descendants of Rollo.
Rolo was my 31st great grandfather.
Hi is our
tie to our Scandinavian roots and is the patriarch of
several branches of ancestral lines. If anyone could be
named as the Patriarch of our family it could be Rollo.
Why not. It's a good name that kind of rolls off the
Statue of Rollo in
There are two bronze replicas of this
and the other one at
Fargo, North Dakota (United