The Danby Family

The Danby family, with its roots deeply embedded in the rich soil of English history, is a name that arose among the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from their having lived in Danby, a name associated with parishes in Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The place-name Danby itself is derived from the Old English word ‘dan’, which points to the family’s ancient lineage and connection to these lands.

Another theory for the origin of the name is that it is believed to have originated from the Old Norse personal name “Danbiorn,” which means “Danish Bear.” In ancient times, the Norse Vikings had a significant presence in Ireland, and it is believed that the name Danby derived from this Norse influence.

The surname Danby first appeared in historical records in West Yorkshire at Denby Dale, with the earliest record of the place name listed in the Domesday Book as ‘Denebi’. This area, known today for its tradition of baking giant pies, a custom initiated in 1788 to celebrate King George III’s recovery from illness, has been a significant part of the Danby family’s story.

The Danby family’s prominence in Yorkshire is well-documented, with a significant number of Danby families residing there in the 19th century. In 1891, Yorkshire was home to about 37% of all recorded Danby’s in the United Kingdom, indicating their substantial presence and influence in the region. The family’s history is intertwined with the social and political fabric of Yorkshire, contributing to local governance and the economy during the Tudor period and beyond.

Notable figures within the Danby family include Sir Christopher Danby (1503-1571), a Member of Parliament for Yorkshire and a landowner with estates in Farnley, Masham, and Thorp Perrow. His service as High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1545 and his knighthood at the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn highlight the family’s status and connections within the English court. Another distinguished member, Sir Thomas Danby (c. 1530-1590), served as the High Sheriff of Yorkshire, further cementing the family’s legacy in the region’s history.

The Danby family’s influence extended beyond Yorkshire, with branches found in Warwickshire and connections to the Denbigh family. Their historical mansion in Shilton, Warwickshire, stands as a testament to their once prominent standing in that area. The family’s reach also touched Ireland, with William Tynbegh, or de Thinbegh (c.1370-1424), an Irish lawyer of the Danby lineage, holding the office of Chief Justice and Lord High Treasurer of Ireland.

The Danby name has undergone various spelling variations over the centuries, including Danby, Danbie, and Danbey, reflecting the fluid nature of spelling before the standardization brought about by the printing press. Despite these variations, the Danby name has remained a constant symbol of the family’s enduring legacy.

The Danby Estate, rich in history and heritage, is nestled within the picturesque North York Moors of England. The ancestral home of the estate, Danby Castle, stands majestically on a spur overlooking the Esk Valley, a testament to the area’s medieval past.

This castle, once the manorial court and farmhouse, also served as the residence of Catherine Parr before she became the sixth wife of Henry VIII. The estate’s former shooting lodge, now transformed into the Danby Lodge National Park Centre, lies in the dale below the castle.

The village of Well, known for its picturesque setting and the Church of St. Michael, has connections to the Danby’s through various historical events and marriages that intertwined the family with the local community. Notably, the Danby’s were associated with Snape Castle, located near Well. This castle was once the seat of George Neville, Lord of Snape and Danby, and later became known as the residence of Cecily Neville, Duchess of Warwick and mother to two Yorkist kings, Edward IV and Richard III.

The Danby’s influence extended to the religious sphere as well, with the fifteenth-century chapel at Snape Castle serving as a chapel of ease for St. Michael’s Church in Well, reflecting the intertwined nature of the noble family’s presence and the ecclesiastical landscape of the area. Over the centuries, the Danby’s legacy has been preserved through the architectural and historical landmarks that continue to define the character of Well and its surroundings, offering a glimpse into the medieval and Tudor periods of English history. The enduring connection between the Danby’s and Well near Bedale is a testament to the lasting impact of local nobility on the cultural and historical identity of North Yorkshire.

These families, among others, shaped the political, social, and economic landscape of Yorkshire during the Tudor era, leaving a legacy that can still be seen in the county’s historic buildings and cultural heritage. Their contributions to the Tudor court and their involvement in the broader tapestry of English history during this period are a testament to the region’s significance in the national narrative of the time.

The Danby’s at Swinton Park

The historic relationship between the Danby Family and Swinton Park is a fascinating tale of heritage and architecture that spans over centuries. The Danby family’s connection to Swinton Park dates back to the late 1600s, marking the beginning of a significant era for the estate. It was during the late 1700s that the Danby family undertook extensive landscaping of the parkland, creating the Deer Park and Deer House, along with five lakes, woodlands, and gardens that are still prominent features of the estate today. Their vision and efforts in shaping the landscape have left a lasting legacy on the Swinton Estate.

Swinton Park itself, originally a Georgian country house, underwent a transformation into a ‘castle’ in the early 1800s under the Gothic influence, with the addition of turrets and castellations. This architectural evolution was part of the broader changes initiated by the Danby family, who were responsible for commissioning the construction of the Druid’s Temple folly on the moors, now a part of the Druid’s Plantation at Swinton Bivouac.

The estate’s ownership transitioned from the Danby family to the Cunliffe-Lister family in the 1880s when Samuel Cunliffe-Lister purchased it upon retiring from his mill in Bradford. The Cunliffe-Lister family continued the tradition of care and development of the estate, adding to the architectural grandeur of Swinton Park. The second floor, the height of the turret, and the wing that houses the palatial dining room, now Samuel’s Restaurant, were all added under their stewardship.

The history of Swinton Park is not just a story of ownership and architectural development but also one of personal relationships and the shaping of the landscape. The Danby family’s influence is evident in the estate’s very fabric, from the layout of the parkland to the design elements of the house. Their contributions set the stage for the estate’s future, which the Cunliffe-Lister family built upon, further cementing Swinton Park’s status as a landmark of historical and architectural significance.

The Danby’s in Ireland

The name is predominantly found in the western part of Ireland, particularly in counties such as Mayo, Galway, and Roscommon.

The Danby family played a notable role in Irish history, with members involved in various aspects of society. They were prominent landowners and held positions of power and influence. Some Danby’s were involved in politics, serving as local representatives and politicians.

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    The Danby family, with its roots deeply embedded in the rich soil of English history, is a name that arose among the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from their having lived in Danby, a name associated with parishes in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

    [See the full post at: The Danby Family]

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