Barcroft Family History


The name of Barcroft, originally often spelt Berecroft, Brerecroft, or Bercroft, is derived from the Anglo Saxon for "bear", and a "crop or "rick", and therefore means a "rick-meadow". The sheltered pastures where the old hall is situated, favourable for the growth of hay and other crops, and adjacent to Towneley Park, were probably the origin of the name in Saxon times.

As well as marrying into the Ormerod Family, the Barcrofts intermarried several times with the Tattersalls in the sixteenth century. Isabella Barcroft, probably a sister of the William Barcroft who died in 1581, married Richard Tattersall, who died in 1587. Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Tattersall, married a William Barcroft in April 1582. And Ann Barcroft, who seems to have been a daughter of William Barcroft, who died in 1581, married an Edward Tattersall on 25 October 1596, as appears from the Registers of Burnley Church.

Although the Barcrofts no longer flourish in the ancient house of their race, the family is still represented in Ireland in the person of Henry Barcroft, Esq., of the Glen, Newry, co. Armagh, descended from Henry Barcroft, third son of William de Barcroft, who died in February 1581.

It is a tradition in the Barcroft fami1y that their ancestor, William Barcroft, who was a Major in Oliver Cromwell’s army, was offered by Cromwell, as a reward for his services, an estate near Athlone; but he, having become a Friend, or Quaker, while the matter was pending, refused the offer on conscientious grounds, as he could not accept what had been acquired by the sword. The estate was then, it is said, given to the next in command, the ancestor of the present Lord Castlemainé.

John Barcroft, youngest son of Major William Barcroft, became a well-known Quaker, as we learn from a rare little book, published in Dublin in 1730, to perpetuate his memory, entitled, "A Brief Narrative of the Life, Convincement, and Labours of Love in the Gospel Ministry of that worthy Servant of Jesus Christ, John Barcroft, who departed this Life at his House at Arkhill, in the Kingdom of Ireland, the 24th of the Eleventh Month, 1723."

A brief journal of John Barcroft is printed with the book, from which the following extracts are taken:-

"I was born at Skralegh, near Rosenallies, in the Queen’s County, in Ireland, in the year 1664; about which time (or soon after) my parents were convinced of the Blessed Truth. They were born at Couln [Colne], in Lancashire, in England (descended from a Family of considerable Account in the World), and came to settle in Ireland in, or near, 1658: I was the youngest Child they had, and when about five years old, I went with my Mother to a Meeting of the People called Quakers, held at William Edmundson’s house; where, through the effectual preaching of a servant of the LORD, (viz.) Samuel Thornton, I was greatly reached, and tendered by the LORD’S Power, insomuch that I wondered at it, and as I was going Home after the Meeting, I told my dear Mother how I had been therein, at which she was greatly broken into tears (to my Admiration), being a worthy, religious Woman."

In subsequent years, John Barcroft made many visits to London and various parts of England, and appears twice to have visited the birthplace of his father. "In 1700" (he writes) "I went into Lancashire and had several good satisfactory Meetings about Couln, where my parents were born; from thence I went to John Haydock’s, and thence to the monthly Meeting at Hartshaw."

"In 1705 we went from York to the monthly Meeting at Skipton, visiting Meetings on our Way thither, and had several comfortable Meetings there-away; as also about Couln, to many of which Meetings we had the company of divers worthy friends, as William Ellis and his Wife, John Ecrid, Lawrence King, and several others."

In 1720, he published—" A Faithful Warning to the Inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland, to dread the LORD, and turn from their evil Doings, before his Fury break forth upon them, as an Overflowing Scourge."

He was buried near Edenderry, on the 27 November 1723.