Your article: American family retrace Yorkshire roots

John, Deanna and Jennifer Horsley inspect their ancestor's name on a bell in the tower of All Saints, Pocklington.
John, Deanna and Jennifer Horsley inspect their ancestor's name on a bell in the tower of All Saints, Pocklington.

A trip to the East Riding for an American family retracing their Yorkshire roots saw them follow in the footsteps, literally, of their ancestors when they visited Pocklington.

John Horsley, from Fairfax, Virginia, came to York with his wife, Deanna, and daughter, Jennifer, as part of a European tour, which was followed by a stopover in the far East on the return journey to the U.S. And one of the features of the trip was to climb up Pocklington church tower, retracing the steps of another John Horsley who was a church warden at All Saints, Pocklington, in the 1720s.

The current John Horsley has become increasingly interested in his family heritage, self publishing a book last year entitled: ‘Courage Enough, A Horsley/Baskerville Family History’. That completed, John and his family took time out to visit some of the East Riding haunts of his Horsley ancestors in the 18th and 19th centuries. John has traced his American line back to his great grandfather, Nathan Horsley, born in Pocklington in 1792, who emigrated to New York with his family in 1833 and settled in Dearborn County, Indiana, where he became a farmer.

While great grandfather Nathan was from Pocklington, the preceding generations of Horsleys came from Wilberfoss, Newton-on-Derwent and Low Catton respectively, with the family lineage at Catton going way back to the 1500’s. The 2016 Virginia Horsleys’ tour included stop offs at all three villages, including meeting up with more Horsleys along the way - calling in to see the current family representatives of the long line of Horsleys at Newton-on-Derwent, Trevor and Margaret.

It was then on to Pocklington for the trip up the tower to see the name of another John Horsley that is engraved on one of the church bells, hung in 1722. They also viewed family graves in the churchyard, and stopped in the Market Place for a family photograph outside the White Goose hostelry, formerly the Black Swan, which John Horsley owned a share of in the 1730s.

Most of the East Riding Horsley family in the 18th and 19th centuries were yeoman or gentlemen farmers, and another John Horsley was also Pocklington’s town constable in the 1790s. But yet another John Horsley of the early 1800s was a Pocklington shoemaker in Market Street.

After lunch in the town, the family left for the next leg of the tour.