(member 1878)

Goodmanham and Beyond

Consistent spelling as WITHELL appears to have begun in Goodmanham at the beginning of the 19th century with the marriage of William Withell to Rhoda Stokes and it is from this family that a large group of present day Withell families are descended. This also appears to be the only Yorkshire family line to use the spelling as Withell into the 21st century.

My research indicates that the spelling Withill occurred in Goodmanham about the same time. and that some present day Withill families are descendants of William and Rhoda Withell.

goodmanham church

All Saints Church Goodmanham

On 25th May 1791 William Withell of Goodmanham was married to Rhoda Stokes of Market Weighton by license in Goodmanham church. This was unusual because marriage by license was mostly used by persons of means for privacy or because one of the parties was from a different parish. At the time of his marriage William was a Wolds shepherd and was living in Goodmanham. Shepherds seldom moved away from the Wolds where the care of sheep was quite different from that on the plain of York.

According to the census taken on 30 March 1851 William was born at Huggate but a baptism has not been found for him. Huggate is 8 miles north of Goodmanham and is the highest village on the Yorkshire Wolds at about 558 feet (170 metres) above sea level. The village itself lies in a hollow but high spots around the Village give fabulous views for miles across the Yorkshire Wolds. It has one of the deepest wells in England.

William's father may have been John Withell age 88 who was buried at Market Weighton on 28 October 1836. A Robert Withell who had been living in Goodmanham in 1841 died in the March Qr. 1852 aged 96. It is noted that William and Rhoda named their first three sons William, Robert and John indicating these Withell men were most likely related to William.

William and Rhoda were to have seven surviving sons William, Robert, John, Thomas, James, Isaac and Philip and two daughters, Ann and Rhoda, who lived to adulthood. Except for Rhoda, they married and brought up their families in East Yorkshire.

Many of the descendants of these families remain in England, but as with the Cornish Withells, it was groups from the next generation who were to seek a better life in far away places, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and US.


Charlotte Withell, daughter of Philip, may have been the first to leave England. She and her husband Thomas Robson settled near Trentham, Victoria where their old home still stands.

In the late 20th century there has been emigration across the Tasman as some New Zealand Withells have moved to Australia.


Canada Withell MI

Charlotte's brother John Raper Withell immigrated to Ontario, Canada with his wife Maria. They are buried in Perth, Ontario. There are now a number of their descendants living both in Canada and USA.

We believe that some of these early families kept in touch. John Withell born about 1860 in New Zealand was recorded as arriving in New York on 8 November 1910 on his way to New Zealand from Southampton on the Kronprinzessin Cecilie. He had paid his own passage, had 50 pounds and had previously visited US in 1904.


The New Zealand Withells were actively researching their heritage in 1978. In 1988 I met James Withell in New Zealand who told me of the research done by his family to find their origins in Yorkshire and the large gathering of New Zealand Withells. They had discovered that their ancestors were William Withell and Rhoda Stokes.

In 1864 several families migrated to New Zealand and other family members followed later. The achievements of the first two generations as sheep farmers have been recorded in the 'Cyclopedia of New Zealand'. F 405 p168-175

Link to New Zealand Newspaper records

This site has over 300 references to Withell

Return to top of page