Those Places Thursday – Gervase & Clifton

I had found the marriage details for my 6x great grandparents William Oldham & Mary Tebbutt in the Derbyshire Record Office quite some time ago, but had never got round to following it back any further. They were married in Sawley, Derbyshire on the 2nd December 1777 and the entry revealed that William hailed from Clifton which is just outside Nottingham.

So on my last visit to the Nottinghamshire Archives I was delighted to find a record of William’s baptism which took place on the 9th August 1752 at St Mary’s in Clifton and showed his parents were Gervis & Mary Oldham.

What struck me about the Clifton registers was the high number of boys being named Gervis, Jarvis or Gervase.  The name and its variants have cropped up in my Oldham family for several generations & I’d thought it was probably a family tradition, but finding so many others in one area made it obvious that it wasn’t just in the one family.  A quick search of the Family Search site also revealed that it was also a commonly used name in other areas of Nottingham, and I wondered why.

Reading around the history of Clifton I came across details of the Lords of the Manor, the Clifton family, who had been prominent landowners in the area for some 700 years.  The family’s link with the area originates with a Norman knight, Alvaredus, who settled in Clifton and took the village’s name after having been appointed warden of Nottingham castle.

His descendant Gervase de Clifton purchased the manors of Clifton & Wilford in 1324 and from him follow several generations of sons all called Gervase, including ‘Gervase the Gentle’ (died 1588) and ‘Gervase the Great’ (1587 – 1666).


The family were hugely influential throughout their time as Lords of the Manor in Clifton and this influence wasn’t just restricted to their local area.  The Cliftons were favourites of several Royal courts, including Edward IV and Henry VI.  Gervase the Gentle was a particular favourite of the Tudor monarchs; Elizabeth I giving him his epithet in the verse she wrote about four Nottinghamshire gentlemen:

“Gervase the gentle, Stanhope the stout, Markham the lion, and Sutton the lout.” 

Despite being supporters of Charles I during the Civil War, the Clifton family managed to keep their lands and Sir Gervase Clifton (1744-1815) had Clifton Hall remodelled during his tenure. The family remained at Clifton until the 1940s when Peter Thomas Clifton began to sell off the land and then finally the Hall itself in the 1950s.

So it would appear that the abundance of Gervases in Clifton is down to the tradition and longevity of the local nobility.

Picture from & further info here.

© Caroline Cox and Caroline’s Chronicles. 2011 – current year

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