52 Ancestors, Week 11: The Skidmore Family

Church of St Mary the Virgin in Upton Scudamore. Photo by Neil MacDougall

Click within image to enlarge
The Skidmore family was well documented and a prominent family in England with links all the way back to the year 1086. They are also our link to early America.  The pilgrims arrived in 1620 and our ancestor Thomas Skidmore arrived not long after in 1635.

Our branch of the Scudamores can be traced back to a family that had been living in a town named for them: Upton (higher farm) Scudamore in Wiltshire named in the Domesday Book in 1086.

William I (William the Conqueror) sent his men all over England to find out how much each landholder had in land and livestock and what it was worth.

“At the time of the Domesday survey (1086) Upton was a prosperous parish with a population of approximately 225. Its broad, thin outline spreads over a ridge of greens and, providing excellent pasture for sheep. The survey mentions three holdings. The largest, belonging to Alfred of Marlborough, was worth £9.” [1]

"It is possible that the Skydmores came out from Wiltshire to settle on 18 acres at Westerleigh as tenants in the 1300s. The Skydmores at Westerleigh were substantial yeomen (a commoner who cultivates his own land). The heir in each generation had a freehold (a social rank just under the rank of gentleman) estate at Mayshill which descended from father to son. The younger sons were usually apprenticed to tradesmen having no great prospect of acquiring land." [2]

"Richard Skydmore, was born in Mayshill, Westerleigh, about the year 1480; he was the great great grandfather of Thomas Skidmore (1605-1684) of New England (our immigrant ancestor).

He was ordered by the court of Henry VIII on 29 Sept 1539 to make a ditch from Vern Hill to Skydmore’s Gate under pain of forfeiting 3 shillings, 4 pence if he did not comply.

click within image to enlarge

2nd generation: John Skydmore born 1510 at Mayshill, Westerleigh, is listed in a muster taken in 1542 as an able archer.

3rd generation: William born about 1545 at Mayshill, Westerleigh.  His estate was administered by his son John on 30 Nov 1615. The estate was apparently of a respectable size, worth 40 pounds sterling.

4th generation: Richard born about 1580 at Mayshill, Westerleigh.  He married Annes Lawrence, on 4 Sept 1604.  Three months later on 12 Dec they were presented to the “Bawdy Court” on a suspicion of incontinence before marriage.  It was likely that Annes Skimore was already visibly pregnant.

Less than two years later, Richard Skidmore, carpenter, was dead, probably after an accident as his will states that he was ‘broke in body’. He left a will stating that all of his estate was to be divided between his wife and his son Thomas.  He was buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire on 25 November 1606." [2]
Holy Trinity Church, Westbury on Trym
By Steinsky via Wikimedia Commons

5th generation: Thomas (our immigrant ancestor) was born at Mayshill in Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, probably in the spring of 1605.

His father died very shortly after he was born in 1606. His mother remarried John Cooke in 1608 and they had 8 children. "Presumably he lived with his mother and stepfather, but there were probably interludes back at Westerleigh with his grandfather and his uncle Thomas Skidmore.  At one of these places he had some formal schooling for he could both read and write, and he also learned the art of blacksmithing.” [2]

Thomas (age 22) married Ellen (20) in about 1626.

Thomas acquired a 99 year leasehold that included an orchard and a garden on Westerleigh Street in Westerleigh.

On 22 Mar 1630/1, Thomas and his uncle Thomas are mentioned in the ‘Court Book of Westerleigh for 1625-1653.’ They were present at the sitting of the manorial court and were fined a small sum for expenses of the court.

By 10 June 1636, Thomas has arrived in America… (to be continued)

  • [1] http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getcom.php?id=231
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesday_Book
  • http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Domesday-book-1804x972.jpg
  • http://www.domesdaymap.co.uk/place/ST8647/upton-scudamore/
  • [2] Skidmore, Warren, “Thomas Skidmore (Scudamore), 1605-1684, of Westerleigh, Gloucestershire and Fairfield, Connecticut; his ancestors and his descendants to the ninth generation.” Published 1980.  https://openlibrary.org/books/OL4164222M
  • Mayshill or Mays Hill is a hamlet located in the Parish of Westerleigh, South Gloucestershire, England. Despite its size the hamlet contains a pub, dating from the 16th Century.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayshill


  1. A great continuum over a very long time especially since so many people died young and untimely.

  2. Oh my goodness ~ I can't even imagine having family connection that I could trace back this far. I really like the graphic that you use in this, and other posts, to show the line back. Great idea to use flags or something other than just the generic male or female cameo.

  3. My mom is a Skidmore & we come from this line as well.

  4. My mom is a Skidmore & we come from this line as well.

    1. Let me try again...your tree follows Thomas & Ellen to John...mine goes from Thomas & Ellen to their son Thomas born in Mayshill 1627.

  5. Has anyone found the name of the ship and manifest that Thomas Skidmore arrived in america in 1635.

  6. Hello all,
    My mother was a Skidmore however her father left the marriage while my mother was in the womb. My mother was the youngest of five children. My biological grandfathers name was Everett Elton Skidmore D.O.B 1900. If anyone has info regarding his family please help connect the missing pieces.

    1. Hello little bit wiser! This is my blog, and your question intriqued me, so I did some quick research. I see Everett E Skidmore in the 1940 US Federal Census. Born 1898 in Missouri. In 1940 he is living with his wife Arlene and 4 children in Phoenix Arizona. Do you think this might be your grandfather? --Shannon


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