Satterthwaite, was once a part of Hawkshead parish.

Spelling variants include Satterthwait, Saterthwait, Satterthwayte, Saterthwayte, Satterthwayt, Saterthwayt, Satterwhite, etc.

These questions developed out of the Lancaster DNA project, and study into the Lancaster surname more generally. The most closely related webpages coming from the same research are...

Several useful online references are the source of much of this information...

Hawkshead: (the northernmost parish of Lancashire) its history, archaeology, industries, folklore, dialect, etc., etc

'Houses of Cistercian monks: The abbey of Furness', A History of the County of Lancashire: Volume 2 (1908), pp. 114-31
'Townships: Satterthwaite', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8 (1914), pp. 380-82.

Hawkshead and Colton together make up the mountainous "Fells" of Furness. The Fells of Furness are a secondary division of Furness, which was a territory held until the great changes in the time of Henry VIII by Furness Abbey, and administrated from Hawkshead although in the early Middle Ages there appears to have been some disputes with the Lancaster Barons of Kendal. As Furness Abbey lost governmental power, it's administrative region turned into a parish which we can refer to as Dalton. But Dalton/Furness was splitting up also. WMap of Furness Fellsithin the Fells, Colton and Hawkshead first split, but later Satterthwaite itself split out of Hawkshead for some administrative and ecclesiastical purposes.
It eventually became a separate parish.

The Furness Fells is in one of the most attractive parts of England, the Lake District, which is associated with the writers Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and William Wordsworth. It was part of the northernmost territory within the “Honour of Lancaster" in the Middle Ages, a forested and relatively unpopulated part of Britain at the time."[B]etween the manors of Ulverston and Aldingham on the one hand, and the "neighbouring lordship of Kendal" was "a wild, uncultivated, and sparsely inhabited region of fells and dales, rivers, and lakes." William Farrer, 1902, p.312, specifically concerning the time of the early de Lancasters who were lords of both Ulverston and Kendal.

Before the Normans and the high Middle Ages, this whole area had only recently come under Southern English influence. It had been part of the Welsh-speaking kingdom of Strathclyde, centered around Dunbarton near Glasgow. Like the rest of that old kingdom it had also come under the heavy influence of the Gaelic-Scandinavian culture of the Irish Sea (in Dublin, the Isle of Man, and Western Scotland). English influence was mainly through Northumbrians on the other side of the Pennines, who were also closely bound into Scottish and Norse politics. Mercia, the most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom in southern England appears to have had some influence here before the Normans of England and Scotland also, but it was remote.

Indeed it could be argued that no major political power would have seen this region as close to its centre. It was a borderland, and destined to remain a borderland, eventually between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland - a situation which it remained in until relatively recently.

That the inland area had become largely Norse in the Dark Ages is still evident in Cumbrian place names including Satterthwaite, which speaks to us of a heavily forested area. The “thwaite” or clearing in the Grizedale forest after which the hamlet and it’s chapel are named still exists. The old Norse names indicate that the clearing was originally a summer pasture (Sætr), while the forest dale was used more for rearing pigs (grise, a word appearing in many local place names).

After the invasion of David I of Scotland, the Abbey on the one hand, and the secular lords such as the de Lancasters and de Flemings on the other, apparently settled into a pattern of competition for influence in the area. The Abbey gained ground steadily over time, until it's power was dissolved under Henry VIII. Technically, the abbey’s parish of Dalton once extended over almost all of Furness. They are known to have coppiced the wood in Grizedale forest and exploited the forests in other ways.

It is perhaps particularly interesting that according to the historian William Farrer, the de Lancasters maintained the exclusive right of hunting, and the hawks in the Abbot’s portions of the Fells. Satterthwaite, by it’s name, appears to have been forest, and the de Lancasters appear to have been keen foresters and falconers, given their official positions for the king in this respect (for example Warin de Lancaster).

The Reverend Frenderick Ragg, in an 1910 article named "De Lancaster" made a discovery of what is perhaps the last feudal grant within Hawkshead:

Know those living as well as those to come that I Gilbert son of Roger son of Raifrai [Baron of Kendal, keeper to the honour of Lancaster, husband of Helewise de Lancaster and father of William de Lancaster III] have given and granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to Gilbert de Lancaster [a son of William de Lancaster II, as confirmed by later charters; his main possession being Sockbridge ] all my part of Aitlerdale and all my land of l'Hauksite.

Ragg recognised that Hauksite is consistent with early spellings of Hawkshead, and Aitlerdale is presumably a valley by Elterwater.

After the Abbey took hold, the tenants were all landowners something like the yeomen of later times. Lancaster University’s website mentions that ...

The several bailiwicks or estates within the manor of Hawskhead included Arnside, Colton, Satterthwaite, Graythwaite, Haverthwaite etc. and these sometimes appear as ‘manors’ in the records though they did not actually have such status.” See

The Victoria County History remarks, 

A pleading of 1584 gives information as to some of the customs of the manor; it followed the suppression of the smithies and related to fresh inclosures by Christopher Sandys and others. It was stated that tenements in the lordship had always had land called 'inground,' inclosed and kept in severalty with hedge and ditch; also barren heath and rocky stone ground called 'pasture ground,' much still uninclosed, for the cattle of customary tenants. This pasture land was bounded as to how much belonged to each township or hamlet, and it was known how much wood and underwood growing there each tenant ought to have for feeding cattle, and also by bounds how much of the woodland and pasture belonged to each tenant.
The occupiers of the land were formerly of the statesman or yeoman class, customary freeholders of the manor.

...and funnily enough for us: 

"Of SATTERTHWAITE proper there is nothing to be said, though it afforded a surname to a widely spread family or families. A 'manor' of Satterthwaite, with lands in Grizedale and Dale Park, was included in the sale of Colton by the Crown in 1614."

Indeed, Henry Cowper figured Satterthwaite to be the third most common name in Hawkshead, less common than Rigge/Rigg, but more common than Sawrey. The most common surname was Braithwaite according to him, though this appears to be name from nearby Ambleside.

Thomas West is quoted on Steve Bulman’s very helpful website:

"High Furness," says Mr. West, "is a country of water or lakes, around which the towns, villages, and houses, were at first planted by the Sistuntian5 Britons, and so remain with change of name, imposed by the Saxon lords. It is also remarkable that the Saxon families in High Furness, lived in villages and hamlets of their own name, as late as the reign of Henry VIII, as appears from the court rolls of that time. The Branthwaites lived then about Brathay; the Sawreys at Sawrey. At Sawrey Infra, at the view of frank-pledge, 38 Hen. VIII, there were George Braithwaithe, bailiff, and eighteen tenants of the same name. At the same time the Hirdsons lived at Bowith; the Rawlinsons at Haverthwaite; at Oxen Park, all were Turners. The Rigges were of Hawkshead; the Tomlinsons of Grisdale; at Nibthwaite all were Redheads; at Fincethwaite, all Taylors; at Colthouse, all Salterthwaites [sic]. &c."

In effect, the de Lancasters surrounded Satterthwaite and several records demonstrate efforts to define and redefine the borders between their territories and rights. Continuing from

Around 1160 immediate lordship of the upland region of Furness was divided between Furness Abbey and William de Lancaster, with the Abbey holding the eastern fells around Hawkshead and Colton (known as Furness Fells), and William de Lancaster holding the western fells around Coniston and the lands of Ulverston. Eventually, however, a portion of the Lancaster’s Ulverston estate also fell to the Abbey.”
Though it can be stated that all manors in the Furness peninsula and Furness Fells lay within the lordship of Furness, and that the abbots of Furness were superior lords over the whole district, in practice the abbots had immediate control over only certain areas, centred on the parishes of Dalton, Hawkshead and Colton, and a portion of Ulverston. As a result, the records of the lordship courts deal largely with those manors and parcels of land over which the monks had immediate control, rather than the whole of Furness.”

For purposes of administration and jurisdiction, Furness lordship was spilt into two main parts: Low Furness and the Furness Fells. The lowland areas of the lordship (including the manors of Dalton, Plain Furness, Egton with Newland) were administered from Dalton. The upland regions – the Furness Fells – were administrated from Hawkshead”.

That any family associated with Satterthwaite in the Middle Ages (and the family using that surname certainly seems to be that old) would have been a close follower of the tensions and resolutions between the de Lancasters and the abbey is further confirmed in much more detail on this excellent webpage: From: 'Houses of Cistercian monks: The abbey of Furness', pp. 114-31…

There is reason to believe that the monks, availed themselves of the power of John during King Richard's absence to drive out the upstart family of Lancaster from the Furness fells; (fn. 32) and John, when he became king, bestowed his usual attentions of privilege and extortion upon the abbey.


[Footnote 32: Earl John granted back Furness Fells to the abbey and forced the inhabitants to respect his arrangement; Coucher, 418-19. Gilbert son of Roger Fitz Reinfred retaliated in 1194 by taking 1,000 sheep; and the abbot proffered 500 marks for a settlement; Lanes. Pipe R. 78, 86. The Lancaster interest was restored by the final concord of 1196, two or three years later.]

The granting of land in the area by this same Gilbert, a de Lancaster by his wife whose sons also used the surname, to one of the families trusted local representatives, is mentioned above. It may have been part of the same chain of events.


At the same time the more powerful vassals often chafed against the constant presence of a lord who never died, and disputes between the abbey and its feudatories were frequent. In Ulverston as early as 1224 William of Lancaster III, the son of Gilbert son of Roger fitz Reinfrid, maintained with success his right to erect gallows in Ulverston and to attend the superior court only by special summons. (fn. 65)


In the Furness peninsula the monastic occupation made great changes. At the Dissolution the woods of High Furness fed three smithies, and its streams turned five water-mills. (fn. 91) The abbot had his boats for fishing on Coniston Lake and Windermere from very early times. (fn. 92) He hunted and hawked on the hills between his manor of Hawkshead and the lands of Ulverston; at Hawkshead was a grange, half manorhouse, half cell, with private chapel for the monks, and gallows for misguided tenants. (fn. 93) In Furness High and Low were commons and woods kept for the maintenance of the monks' cattle.


Fortunately our knowledge of the tenantry is more definite. The isolation of Furness, together with the supremacy of the abbey, gave that independence of tenure which has been so characteristic of the district. The villeins rose out of their servile condition easily; (fn. 101) and early in the sixteenth century the customs of High and Low Furness could be put down definitely in writing. (fn. 102) Apart from the large freeholders who only paid suit and annual services, with no tithes, the tenants were customary, holding by tenant-right.


[Footnote 165: The division of the fells was made about 1163 between the abbot and William of Lancaster I; Lanes. Pipe R. 310. William had lands both in Ulverston and the fells, as his grants to Conishead and the regrants to and by Gilbert Fitz Reinfred show (ibid. 356, 390, 399, 402); but it is uncertain when the abbey gave up direct control of the manor. Mr. Farrer thinks the Lancaster family held it. 'from the reign of King Stephen, if not earlier' (cf. Lancs, and Ches. Antiq. Soc. Trans. xviii); but there is a great deal to be said for the older view, that it was first granted to Gilbert and his wife in 7 Ric. I; cf. Notit. Cest. ii, 534. Before 1196 there were disputes about the fells, which at one time were all recovered by the abbey (see above, note 32). No mention is made of Ulverston, except as abbey property; cf. Coucher, 662. In the elaborate settlement of 1196 (Lancs. Final Concords i, 4) the service of 20s. for the fells is repeated from the earlier arrangement, and 10s. added for Ulverston. Moreover, this was the later monastic interpretation, levata fuit finis de excambio villae de Ulverston cum parte etiam montanorum, for forest rights in the other fells, quitclaim of Newby, and service; Coucher, 345; cf. 7. The plea about the gallows in the suit with Gilbert's son William (394) also tends in this direction.]

Satterfield, (and similar surnames) were long said to be a surname based upon Satterthwaite

Spelling variants include Saterfiel, Saterfield, Setterfield, and Sutterfield (confirmed by DNA to be a variant).

Thwaite and field have similar meanings.

Another word Leigh, Lee, Ley, Lea etc. means “field” and therefore appear in many town names and place names. But at first sight, Satterfield does not appear more obviously related to Satterthwaite than Satterleigh (Devonshire), or Satley which is within Lanchester in Durham. (What a coincidence then that the Satterfields and Satterthwaites have a strong connection to Lancasters, whose name sounds similar to Lanchester!

Now the DNA link between Satterthwaites and Satterfields has proven the standard belief to be correct, and Satterley DNA tests have not shown any tendency to similar results with our Satterthwaite.

I also then found the following documentary evidence in the Catalogue of the National Archives in Kew:

ASSI 45/14/2/127, 128, 129  Northern and North-Eastern Circuits: Criminal Depositions and Case Papers)
1685  Saterwhaite or Satterfeild, Richard – deposition taken in Northumberland

It appears that one branch of this family had migrated successfully out of Satterthwaite already in the late Middle Ages, taking the own modified version of the name with them.

In the IGI, the earliest Satterfields are in Derbyshire, mentioning place-names Heanor, Codnor and Loscoe Furnace, and go back into the 16th century. This defines a small area just to north of Derby and Nottingham. (See From there, the name spread to Yorkshire it seems, and later a branch was later prominent in Thanet in Kent on the opposite extremity of England. A useful post on the Satterfield genforum in January 2006 from Errol Lewis confirmed that other researchers had also seen Derbyshire as a probable origin for all Satterfields. However it should be noted that the Kent Setterfields have not so far matched the Satterfield and Satterthwaite male lines in Y DNA comparisons.

This possibly indicates that this family had moved so far south that the word "thwaite" was no longer recognizable to local English speakers, or perhaps it was felt to seem to "foreign" or rustic. How possible it is that the pronunciation could really have changed to "field" just by natural tendencies? It is perhaps more probable than at first obvious, when we look at old spelling variants. The "thw" sound in Satterthwaite, coming so close to two clear "t" sounds and an "r" clearly gave problems, and was certainly sometimes softened out in normal speech to something simpler, often apparently either a simple "t", "th", "wh" or "w", and it seems that this "w" could be hear as an "f". This in turn leads to the once common variants like Satterfitt. And from Satterfitt to Satterfield is not far. Here are some spelling variants from the West Riding of Yorkshire:

Saterthwait - Saterthwaite - Saterthwayte - Saterthwite - Satirthwait - Satterthwait - Satterthwaite - Satterthwayt - Satterthwett - Satterthwite -

Sattlethawite -

Satertwayte - Satertwhait -

Satterthaite - Saturtheytt

Satarfit - Saterfaitt - Saterfeete - Saterfeit - Saterfete - Saterfitt - Sattefit - Satterfaitt - Satterfit - Satterfitt - Saturfit -

Sattersfit - Sattersfitt -

Satterfil -

Saterfield - Satterfield -

Sattersfield -

Whoever they were, both the Satterthwaites and Satterfields are a very close DNA match for Lancasters from around the Pendle region in Lancashire and neighbouring areas in the West Riding of Yorkshire. According to George Ormerod, a 19
th century historian of the area (in his Parentalia), the de Lancasters of Kendal “had detached property in Pendle forest” and were probably related to “numerous branches, which had long parted from the parent stem and changed their names as successive territorial acquisitions induced them”. His main reference for such branches seems to have been Furness. He cited Thomas West’s Antiquities of Furness. More generally there is a feeling that the de Lancasters, and allied families, held lands and used the Lancaster surname quite far to the south. Several webpages have been made about this subject also...