When I was a child, my father would say in frustration rather than annoyance, “Use your noddle”. If I didn’t comply he’d say, “You haven’t the sense you were born with”. Stumbling upon a representative of the NODDLE family took me back and made me smile.
The 1891 Ancestry map of English Noddles shows a total absence of them in the Ridings of Yorkshire. Ten years earlier there were 38 here who had been born a Noddle and ten women who had married into the tribe.
I don’t usuually “buy” name meanings offered by Surname DB, but in this instance, “It is almost certainly residential, and is said to originate from either a parish in the county of Nottinghamshire variously recorded in the spellings of Nuthall and Nuttall or from the similar village of Nuttall in Lancashire” seems reasonable.
In the far north-west of Yorkshire, boundary changes have placed Dent in Cumbria. but it is a Dales village and possibly the true Noddle heartland. Belinda seems to think so…
She appears to be correct about the East Yorkshire branch being rooted in Dent. A transcriber of one census page insists John, born 1790, hailed from Leeds but no, he left the Dales as a young man and found his bride in Nafferton, a village about twenty miles south of Filey.
For a while now I have been extracting family names from the 1881 Census, creating Yorkshire spreadsheets in Excel, without really knowing if this would prove to be a useful exercise. Inspired by Richard Stone’s descriptions of empiricists, demographers and statisticians, I have looked closely at the Noddles.
A small sample size from a point in time isn’t going to generate any meaningful stats. Much more work will have to be done to follow the 38 to their deaths to see if they were “long-livers”. Repeating the process with Noddles from other censuses will add the possibility of meaningfully assessing their “marriage horizons”. Taking on many more Family Names in a similar fashion might lead to some interesting comparisons.
Today, something did jump off the spreadsheet.
Bottom of the list was Martha NODDLES, 31, a single woman born in Skipton, a charwoman residing in Armley Jail, Leeds. Obviously I had to investigate.. She was seen stealing a bar of soap worth tuppence and was brought to court on this and other charges. One newspaper described her as “a wretched looking woman”. Another reported the case thus:-
Her time in prison may have done her some good but I found no evidence that anyone subsequently made an honest woman of her. The only death registration that fits her description puts her in the ground at 46 years of age.
While investigating further, the spreadsheet offered an unexpected shortcut to a connection. My knowledge of West Riding geography isn’t brilliant but I noticed a 40 year old Bradford greengocer had been born in Grassington, not far from Skipton. Thomas was married, happily I hope, with seven children.
Born to George Noddle and Esther ASHTON, he was a babe in 1841, living in Linton, a short distance from Grassington. Martha appeared as a sister two years later – and Esther died, perhaps in childbirth.
In 1851 the family was still together – widowed George with two daughters and a son – but the head of the household was Martha’s maternal grandmother, Martha Ashton. The old lady would die towards the end of 1856, aged 97. A long-liver!
The spreadsheet clearly reveals that the Dent Noddle diaspora went two separate ways – half to the big city (Bradford), and half to the clutch of East Riding parishes around Driffield; eleven in Burton Agnes and others in Kilham, North Frodingham, Nafferton and Wharram Percy.
Find Martha with her parents on the Shared Tree. Father George was born in Sedbergh, which is about five miles from Dent. I expect our poor laudanum addict knew nothing of her 9x great-grandfather John WRATHALL (1500 – 1560).