Last update April 2013.
History of the surname Spence.
This very interesting name is of early medieval Anglo-Scottish origins. Introduced by the Norman French after the Invasion of England in 1066, it was a metonymic occupational surname for someone who was originally in charge of the pantry of a great house or monastery. The term derives from the pre 10th century Old French word “despense”, from the Latin “dispendere”, meaning to weigh out or dispense.
In Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”, the glutton in the Sumner’s Tale is described as being “all vinolent as botel in the spense”. The modern surname can be found as Spence, Spencer, and the Scottish form Spens, Spenser and Despenser.
The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon del Spens. This was dated 1300, in the Charters of Guisburn Priory, Yorkshire. during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as “The Hammer of the Scots”, 1272 – 1307.
Carol Firth sent the following information. I believe my great great grandad was James Spence born 1812 who married Sarah Lambert and that my great grandad was James son of the above born 1849 My grandad was Thomas Spence born 1883 who married Sarah Ellen Goodyear Britton Shackleton in Leeds in 1906. I believe that at one time James junior was banished to Ireland for covorting around ripon at high speeds in his trap. I would like to know more about this. Also I would like to know more about a relative named Spence who owned a timber mill and was lord mayor at one time. I think he was either a great great grandad or great great uncle of mine. Does anyone remember a Lily Coates, I believe she ran a pub in Ripon, who I believe was a great aunt of mine. Thank you.
Carol sent this request in Jan 2012.
Is anyone on this site related to a
Sibill Strickland b. 1563 approx. She married William Lambert born 1567
Their decendent Sarah Lambert. Born, 1816, Ripon area. married James Spence. born 1812. Ripon Area.
I would like to know Sibill’s exact date of birth, it has been
suggested we may be a century out, or if indeed she was connected to
the Sticklands of Westmorland or Leeds.
Many thanks Carol.
Joan Malcouronne is seeking information re. Joseph Spence b1805 & his wife Elizabeth [b1816].
Denise is seeking information about her 5 times Great Grandfather Thomas Spence who worked in the Unicorn Hotel Ripon as a boot boy. He was also known as Tom Crudd and Old Boots. If you can help her please
Peter Cockerill would like information about Thomas Spence, Shoemaker of Grewelthorpe from 1841 to 1881.
Rose Hay is also interested in ancestors of James Spence b. 1812 the Cooper.
If you can help please contact this site.
Jean Greenwood would like information about James Spence b1812 Grewelthorpe and his children particularly John Spence born 1828.
There has been a problem trying to contact Jean Greenwood. If she sees this will she please contact Carol Firth.
Jenni Corner sent this comment. Robert Spence was born in your area in 1784 and his son John Foster Spence was a Mayor in North Shields. I’d be interested if anyone knows more about him.
G. Hammond from Canada is seeking information about Elizabeth Spence[b.1801 d.1881] who married John Hammond. of Knaresborough in Ripon in 1822.
Ann Fitzpatrick is seeking information [July 2012] I am trying to trace information about my great grandmother Elizabeth Spence born 1842 in England. Her parents were Christopher John Spence and Elizabeth Christiana Davidson, who I believed married on 26.01.1837. If you have any information that would help me I would be greatful.
Frances Hoffman of Canada is seeking information re James Spence b.1812. She writes [Dec 2012]. Dorothy Mary Steel, nee Whitley, was my 3x great-grandmother. She was born 1812 and died 1900. James was her second husband. I’m interested in connecting with descendants of James Spence – see below.
JAMES SPENCE. Born 1812 Grewelthorpe. Son of Thomas the Farmer. Husband of  Sarah Lambert of Kirkby Malzeard and  Dorothy Mary Steel of Stockton. He was a cooper. Living Ripon 1871. Sarah Lambert died 1868.
If you can help Frances:-
The following information about the Spence families of the Grewelthorpe area have been taken from census returns, parish registers etc.
Last updated Sept.2011.
AMELIA SPENCE. Born C 1871 Sowerby. Dau of William & Sarah.
ANN SPENCE. Born C.1768, Lived Bull Ings. Buried 8.12.1838 Kirkby Malzeard.
ANN SPENCE. Born C. 1861 Ramsgill. Living with her married sister Mary Atkinson. in Ilton in 1891.
ANNIE SPENCE. Born C.1873 Ripon. Dau of Thomas & Harriett. Teacher in Ripon 1891.
BESSY [ELIZABETH] SPENCE. Born C. 1816 Grewelthorpe. Married to Joseph. Widow & laundress in 1891 living in Kirkby Malzeard with son Richard.
CATHERINE SPENCE. Lived Azerley. Had illeg. son John who was baptised at Kirkby Malzeard on 25.8.1811. [Ref. K.Malzeard Par. Reg.]
CHRISTOPHER SPENCE. Born 12.2.1817 Grewelthorpe. Buried 31.1.1888 Grewelthorpe M.I.Husband of Mary Ann of Hull. Servant to General Cecil Wray Dalton. of The Hutts, Grewelthorpe. in 1871.
CHRISTOPHER SPENCE. Bap. 21.6.1828 Aldfield. Son of George & Margaret.
CHRISTOPHER SPENCE. Born C1851 Ripon. Son of James [cooper] & Sarah Lambert.
CHRISTOPHER SPENCE. Born C 1860 Notts. Son of Christopher & Mary Ann. Living Grewelthorpe 1871.
CLARA ORTON SPENCE. Born C.1869 Ripon. Dau of John & Sarah Orton
CYRIL C. SPENCE. Born C. 1875 Ripon. Son of John & Sarah Barker Orton married Sarah Bland.[b.1868 Knaresbro] the sister of his step Mother Mary Bland.
DAVID SPENCE. Bap. 3.7.1859 Kikrby Malzeard. Son of Joseph & Elizabeth.
DAVID RALPH SPENCE. Born C 1865 Sowerby. Son of William & Sarah of Sowerby.
DOREEN LILIAN SPENCE [Nee Caygill]. Born C. 1931. Died 8.10.1010. had lived in Mickley. Wife of John T. [Jack]. Married 1954. Mother’s maiden name Bilton.
EDMUND SPENCE. Born C. 1872 Ripon. Son of John & Sarah Orton.
ELIZA SPENCE. Born C. 1859 Ripon. Dau of James & Sarah Lambert. Living in Ripon 1871.
ELIZA SPENCE. Born C. 1862 Bilton Harrogate. Wife of John the plumber.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born C. 1757. Lived Grewelthorpe. Buried 16.5.1839 Kirkby Malzeard.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born C. 1774. Lived Grewelthorpe. Buried 17.1.1845 Kirkby Malzeard. age 77.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born C1801 Ripon Died 1881. Married John Hammond.[Shoemaker of Knaresborough] on 24.4.1822 in Ripon. Lived in Darlington. Had 9 children in 1861.
ELIZABETH SPENCE [nee ?]. Buried 24.1.1804 Grewelthorpe. She was a widow.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born 1816. see Bessy.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born C1837 Leyburn. Dau of James [Tailor] & Mary.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born 1841. Grewelthorpe. Buried 5.7.1841 Kirkby Malzeard.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born C1848 Ripon. Dau of James [Cooper]of Grewelthorpe and Sarah Lambert. Married ? Dolphin. had 2 children Laura & Sydney in 1881.
ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born C. 1888 Ripon. In 1911 she was a domestic servant in Grewelthorpe with the Grundy family.
GEORGE SPENCE. Born C 1815. Son of Thomas [publican] & Ann. He was an apprentice cooper in 1841. in Grewelthorpe.
GEORGE SPENCE. Bap.16.5.1830 Aldfield. Son of George & Margaret.
GEORGE SPENCE. Born 15.3.1853 Grewelthorpe. Buried 13.3.1894 Grewelthorpe M.I. servant at Shaw’s Farm Masham in 1891.
HANNAH SPENCE. Born C1834. Dishforth. Wife of John. Schoolmistress at Marton le Moor in 1881.
HAROLD SPENCE. Born C 1898 Bilton Harrogate. Son of John & Eliza.
HARRIETT SPENCE. Born C. 1841 Ripon. Wife of Thomas the joiner.
HARRIETT SPENCE. Born C.1877 Ripon. Dau of Thomas & Harriett.
ISABELLA SPENCE. Dau of George of Azerley. Married on 6.8.1855 at Kirkby Malzeard church to William Cartman. son of Anthony of Azerley.
JAMES SPENCE. Born 1812 Grewelthorpe. Son of Thomas the Farmer. Husband of  Sarah Lambert of Kirkby Malzeard and  Dorothy Mary Steel nee Whitley of Stockton. He was a cooper. Living Ripon 1871. Sarah Lambert died 1868. Dorothy b1812 d.1900. See letter from Frances Hoffman above.
JAMES SPENCE. Born C1814 Spennithorne. A Tailor in Leyburn in 1851. married to Mary of Gilling.
JAMES SPENCE. Born C 1840 Leyburn. Son of James [Tailor] & Mary.
JAMES SPENCE. Born 1849. Ripon. Son of James & Sarah Lambert. James was a wood turner. Married Jane Blackburn. in 1870.
JANE SPENCE [Nee ?]. Buried 5.10.1731 Kirkby Malzeard. Wife of William of Azerley.
JANE SPENCE. Bap. 3.2.1810 Kirkby Malzeard. Died 1850 Dallowgill. Dau of Thomas. Married John Cundall. on 20.11.1833 Kirkby Malzeard. Witness Ann Baul. Had 8 children.
JANE SPENCE. Born C. 1841 Grewelthorpe.Died 1.5.1924 Ripon. Married Robert Horner. of Mickley on 19.7.1864. Possible the dau of James [cooper] & Sarah Lambert.
JANE SPENCE. Born C. 1843 dau of Joseph & Elizabeth of Kirkby Malzeard. Married on 25.1.1868 at Kirkby Malzeard church to Simon Morland. [b.1844] son of Simon Morland. of Norton le Clay.
JANE SPENCE. Born C. 1853 Ripon. Grand dau. of Aaron & Jane Musgrove living in Kirkby Malzeard in 1861.
JANE SPENCE. Born C.1863 Dau of William of Kirkby Malzeard.
Married on 4.7.1885 at Kirkby Malzeard church to George Teale. [b.1851] son of Joseph Teale. George was a groom.
JENNY MAUD SPENCE. Born C1876 Dallowgill. Dau of Matson & Jan Elizabeth.
JOHN SPENCE. Born C. 1766. Buried 21.10.1846 age 80 in Kirkby Malzeard.
JOHN SPENCE. Buried 4.4.1802 Grewelthorpe. Son of John Spence.
JOHN SPENCE. Born C.1819 Kirkby Malzeard. Shoemaker. Married to Lavinia from Lincolnshire.
JOHN SPENCE. Born C1824 Leyburn. In 1851 he was the Innkeeper at The Green Tree. Married to Ann of Leyburn.
JOHN COWPER SPENCE. Bap. 30.5.1824 Aldfield. Son of Christopher & Catherine of Fountains.
JOHN SPENCE. Born C1835 Leyburn. Son of James [Tailor] & Mary. In 1851 he was a tailors apprentice.
JOHN SPENCE. Born 1838. Son of James of Grewelthorpe. He was a Timber Merchant. Became Mayor of Ripon in 1900/2. see photo at end.
JOHN SPENCE. Born C. 1835 Grewelthorpe. Possibly the son of Joseph & Elizabeth. Farm Lab. Husband of Hannah of Dishforth. Living Marton le Moor 1881.
JOHN SPENCE. Born 1838 Grewelthorpe. Son of James & Sarah Lambert. He was a Timber Merchant. Husband of  Sarah Barker Orton.[b.1833 Kirkby Malzeard].  Mary Bland. Married in Knaresbro 1897.
JOHN SPENCE. Born C. 1859 Grewelthorpe. Husband of Eliza of Bilton. Plumber & Painter in New Park, Bilton, Harrogate in 1891/1901.
JOHN G. SPENCE. Born C. 1878 Kirkby Malzeard. Son of John [The shoemaker] & Lavinia.
JOHN T. SPENCE. Born in 1930’s. Married 1954 to Doreen Lilian Caygill. Lived Mickley.
JONATHAN SPENCE. The Father of Sarah who married George Lofthouse [see Lofthouse page] left a will dated 31.12.1779. Proved in Masham Peculiar Probate court 3.6.1783. he mentions his son in law George Lofthouse.
JOSEPH SPENCE. Born C 1804 Grewelthorpe. Son of Mary [bC1786] Husband of Elizabeth [Bessy] [b.1816] of Sutton. Living Grewelthorpe in 1841. Kirkby Malzeard 1861/71.
JOSEPH SPENCE. Born C1853 Ripon. Son of James [cooper] & Sarah Lambert.
LESLIE SPENCE. Born 1900 Ripon. Son of John & Mary Bland.
LUCY ELIZABETH SPENCE. Born C 1857 Notts. Buried 5.5.1875 Grewelthorpe M.I. Dau of Christopher & Mary Ann. Living Grewelthorpe 1871.
MARGARET SPENCE. of Grewelthorpe. Married Giles Mitchell. of Burneston on 29.11.1684.
MARGARET SPENCE. Born 1843. Buried 17.3.1844 Kirkby Malzeard.
MARGARET A. SPENCE. Born C1843 Leyburn. Dau of James [Tailor] & Mary.
MARGRET SPENCE. Born C.1880 Bilton, Harrogate. Niece of John the plumber.
MARIA SPENCE. Bap. 9.6.1851 Kirkby Malzeard. Dau of Joseph & Elizabeth.
MARK SPENCE. Born C 1856 Ripon. Son of James & Sarah Lambert. A cooper like his Father.
MARY SPENCE. Married *Anthony Dawson.* in 1723 at Kirkby Malzeard. He was from Azerley. Born 1698.  John Ascough of Ripon.
MARY SPENCE. Born C. 1752. Lived Kirkby Malzeard. Buried 1.1.1837 K.Malzeard.
MARY SPENCE. Born C1786. Kirkby Malzeard. Died 1878 in Keighley.Dau of George Spence of Fewston. & Anne Leuty. In 1841 in Grewelthorpe with Joseph & family. Unmarried. 1851 a pauper in K.Malzeard. 1861 living with son Joseph. in Kirkby Malzeard.
MARY DOROTHY SPENCE. Born C 1820 Darlington. Wife of James the cooper. Living Ripon 1871.
MARY ANN SPENCE. Born C1823 Hull. Wife of Christopher servant at The HUtts, Grewelthorpe.
MARY SPENCE. Born C. 1846.Kirkby Malzeard. Dau of Joseph & Elizabeth. Married James Ingram Ellis. of Kirkby Malzeard.
MARY SPENCE. Born C 1855 Ripon. Dau of James [cooper] & Sarah Lambert.
MARY SPENCE. Born 1859 Pateley Bridge.
MARY SPENCE. Born C. 1862 Ramsgill. Married Thomas Atkinson. Living Ilton in 1891.
MARY SPENCE. Born C 1867 Sowerby. Dau of William & Sarah.
MARY SPENCE. Born 1875 Ripon. Dau of Thomas & Harriett. Drapers apprentice in Ripon in 1891.
MATSON SPENCE. Born C1851 Studley. Husband of Jan Elizabeth of Dallowgill. Cattle dealer. Living Grewelthorpe 1881.
MATTHEW SPENCE. Born C1796 Fingall. Boot and shoe maker in 1851 in Leyburn. Married to Mary of Barton. Had 2 children William & Alice in 1851.
REGINALD SPENCE. Born 1899. Ripon. Son of John & Mary Bland.
RICHARD SPENCE. Born C. 1767. Lived Carlsmoor. Buried 21.8.1837. Kirkby Malzeard.
RICHARD SPENCE. Bap. 19.6.1853 Kirkby Malzeard. Son of Joseph & Elizabeth [Bessy].
Living K.Malzeard, unmarried. Classed as an imbicile in 1871 and a labourer in 1891.
SARAH SPENCE. Born 1718 Linterstone. Died Dallowgill. Married George Lofthouse. 1741.
SARAH SPENCE [nee Barker Orton]. Born C. 1835 Ripon. Wife of John the timber merchant.
SARAH SPENCE. Born C1848 Ripon. Dau of James [Cooper] & Sarah Lambert.
SARAH E. SPENCE. Born C. 1865 Ripon. Dau of John & Sarah Orton
SARAH ELLEN SPENCE. Bap. 4.2.1877 Dallowgill. Dau of John Matson & Jane Elizabeth.
STEPHEN HAROLD SPENCE. Bap 26.11.1880 Grewelthorpe. Son of John Matson [The Butcher] & Jane Elizabeth.
THOMAS SPENCE. Buried 17.9.1721 Kirkby Malzeard. Lived Azerley.
THOMAS SPENCE. Born C. 1769. Buried 24.3.1854 Grewelthorpe. [Ref. Par.reg.]
THOMAS SPENCE. Born C. 1774. Buried 17.1.1851 Mickley. [Ref. Par.Reg.]
THOMAS SPENCE. Born C1807 Publican in Grewelthorpe in 1841. Married to Ann. had son George who was a cooper.
THOMAS SPENCE. Born C1836 Spennithorne. Errand boy in Leyburn in 1851.
THOMAS SPENCE. Born C.1843 Grewelthorpe. Grandson of James & Sarah Lambert. Husband of Harriett Hebden. Joiner & Cabinet maker in Ripon 1891.
THOMAS SPENCE. Born C 1855 Notts. Son of Christopher & Mary Ann. Living Grewelthorpe 1871.
THOMAS H.SPENCE. Born C. 1871. Ripon. Son of Thomas & Harriett. A cooper living Ripon 1891.
THOMAS SPENCE. Born 1883 Ripon. Son of James the wood turner & Jane Blackburn.. Married Sarah Ellen Goodyear Britton Shackleton. in 1906 in Leeds.
Alderman Thomas F. Spence. Lived at Red Hill Grange. He donated Quarry Moor to Ripon.
WILLIAM SPENCE. Born C. 1808 Grewelthorpe. Widower living Pickhill in 1891.
WILLIAM SPENCE. Born 1838 Swetton. Buried 19.9.1838 Kirkby Malzeard.
WILLIAM SPENCE. Born C 1841 Grewelthorpe. Possibly the son of Joseph & Elizabeth. Husband of Sarah of Sowerby. A grocer’s porter in Sowerby in 1871.
WILLIAM SPENCE. Born C1845 Leyburn. Son of James [Tailor] & Mary.
WILLIAM SPENCE. Born C1846 Ripon. Son of James [Cooper] & Sarah Lambert.
In 1861 he was a bobbin turner.
WILLIAM SPENCE. Born C. 1869 Thirsk. Son of William & Sarah of Sowerby.
Excerpt from History of the Unicorn Hotel, Ripon.
THOMAS SPENCE. 1760-1780.
During this period the Unicorn was famous for a character known as Tom Crudd or “Old Boots”. His real name was Thomas Spence. “This extraordinary person was favoured by Nature with a nose and chin so enormously long, and so lovingly tending to embrace each other, that he acquired by habit the power of holding a piece of money between them.” Being a servant of the Unicorn Inn in Ripon, Yorkshire, it was his business to wait on travellers who arrived there, to assist them in taking off their boots. He usually introduced himself in the room with a pair of slippers in one hand and a boot jack in the other. “The company in general were so diverted with his odd appearance that they would frequently give him a piece of money on condition that he held it between his nose and chin. This requisition he was always ready to comply with, it being no less satisfactory to himself than entertaining to them”.
Photo submitted by Jean Greenwood.
JOHN SPENCE. of Ashley House, Ripon. son of the late Mr. James Spence. was born at Grewelthorpe on Nov. 6th 1838 and educated at Mr J.Dunnington’s private school. He was in business in Ripon as a timber merchant. Various branches of the Spence family have been connected with the muncipal life of Ripon for centuries. John was a member of the Council from 1873 to 1879 when he did not seek re-election. he was chosen as Mayor from outside the Council in 1900 and re-elected as Mayor for the Coronation Year in 1901. On both occasions unanimously. He was for a number of years a member of the Ripon Board of Guardians and Rural Sanitary Authority; a Church warden of the Cathedral, and a trustee of various institutions connected with the city. he was Hon. secretary of the Ripon Agricultural Association and a practical agriculturist.
Photo by courtesy of youroldbooksandmaps.co.uk.