OF THE FAMILY OF COMBERBACH
The family of Comberbach is traditionally derived from three brothers, who are said to have come over to England with William the Conqueror. Their christian names were Robert, Roger, and John, and if the frequent occurrence of these names at the present day afford any ground for belief in the story, we may not be disinclined to accept it in lieu of more certain information. The Comberbachs seem to have assumed their name from the township of Comberbach, in the parish of Great Budworth, in Cheshire, where they were settled as early as the reign of Richard the First. The first notice of any of them that I have been able to find is given by Dr Ormerod, in his history of Cheshire, under that township, and is as follows:-
Roger, constable of Cheshire and baron of Halton, about the reign of Richard the First [1183-1199], granted Deo et Beatae Mariae, et fratribus servientibus beatis pauperibus Sancti Hospitalis de Jerusalem, totam medietatem de Comberbach ; illam scilicèt quam Willielmus de Comberbach de me tenuit : unà cùm salina in Northwich quae pertinet ad Astonam juxta Budworth-in puram et perpetuam elemosynam-Et si Ricardus Fitton, vel heredes suos recuperaverit, ego et heredes mei predictam donationem praedictis hospitalariis warrantizabimus; et Willielmo Comberbach et hereditibus suis tenendum de praedicto hospitalariis in feodo et hareditate : reddendo eiis annuatim sexdenarios pro omnibus quae ad domum et ad fratres ejusdem domus pertinent. Hiis testibus, etc.-Johane de Comberbach, Henrico fratre suo, etc.- John, son of Henry de Comberbach, gave to Adam, son of William de Litley, in Aston juxta Budworth, all his lands in Comberbach,- unà cùm reversione dotis Elenae matris praedicti Johannis et piscariâ suâ in lacu de Budworth, etc. Entailing these lands, first on the said Adam, and the heirs of his body ; and in default of such, the on Robert, brother of the said Adam. Dated at Comberbach, 1 August, 1335 (9 Edward III).
Roger, constable of Cheshire and baron of Halton, about the reign of Richard the First [1183-1199], granted to God and the Blessed Mary, and to the brothers serving with the blessed paupers of the Holy Hospital of Jerusalem, all the moiety of Comberbeche; that is to say, which William de Comberbeche held of me [etc], together with the salt-works in Northwich [Norwich] which belonged to Aston near Budworth, in pure and perpetual alms. And if Richard Fittun, or his heirs, should recover [i.e. recover seisin of] the aforesaid fee upon me or upon my heirs, I and my heirs will warrant the aforesaid gift to the aforesaid hospital, and to William Comberbeche and his heirs, to hold of the aforesaid Hospitallers in fee and heredity, yielding annually to them six pence for all the things which appertain to the house and to the brothers of the same house. These being witnesses, John de Combirbech, Henry his brother, etc. John the son of Henry [the son of Hugh] de Comberbeche have granted to Adam the son of William de Litley [Little Leigh], in Aston near Budworth, all his lands in Comberbach,- together with the reversion of the dower of Ellen, mother of the aforesaid John, and its fishery in the lake of Budworth etc. Entailing these lands, first on the said Adam, and the heirs of his body; and in default of such, the on Robert, brother of the said Adam. Dated at Comberbach, 1 August, 1335 (9 Edward III).]
They seem to have been principally located in Cheshire until quite modern times, and I shall presently show that the name was by no means uncommon in that county till nearly the present day . Like most of our old English surnames, it has undergone various changes of spelling, thus it is written, Comberbach, the most ancient form, Cumberbach, Cumberbatch, and Comberbatch, and I do not doubt but that Comberbirch, Cumperpatch* (* Bristol Directory), Comberback, Comberbage † († Lieut. John Comberbage, Ormerod, vol. i., p.41), Cumberbeg, and even Cumberlege, together with many more, are only varieties which have crept in at different times, and through individual differences in pronunciation.
Whatever may have been the origin of the Comberbachs, and although they have never risen to any eminence, or bean entered in those valuable records the Heralds Visitations, they have long laid claim to rank among our armigerous families, though they have not succeeded in proving their right to arms. Alas for their claims to such distinctions, one Roger Comberbach, of Nantwich, was among those who disclaimed arms at Sir William Dugdale's Visitation of Cheshire, in 1663. And that this circumstance has not been overlooked by modern heralds, I notice as a significant fact that when the representative of the Nantwich branch assumed the name of Swetenham on inheriting the ancient possessions of that family at Somerford Booths, he did not assume their arms, nor were any entered in the books of record at the College of Arms, as pertaining to him, as representative of the family of Comberbach. I am, however, of opinion that their claim to arms is not without foundation; but it is curious that in each instance in which they are used some slight discrepancy in the mode of blazoning occurs. Thus, Burke in his General Armory, under Swetenham, describes them, Barry of six ermine amid sable, on a canton azure a fleur-de-lis or. On the monument of Helen, widow of Roger Comberbach, in St. Michael's Church, Chester, they are blazoned, Ermine, three bars azure, on a canton of the last a fleur-de-lis argent [impaling azure 3 bars, argent]. On a board, * (*This has been removed during the recent so-called restoration of that church) upon which are depicted the arms of different mayors of Chester, in St. John's Church in that city, I found, Barry of six ermine and azure, on a canton gules a fleur-de-lis or, for James Comberbach, mayor in 1727. And on the monument of Henry Bennet, in St. Peter's Church, Chester, Bennet, impaling, Barry of six ermine and azure, on a canton argent a fleur-de-lis gules, being the arms of Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of John Comberbach, of Nantwich. All these persons were nearly connected. John Comberbach, of Haughton, 1779, bore on his seal, an impression of which is in my possession, Azure, two bars ermine, on a canton argent a fleur-de-lis. The crest is, A cubit arm erect, vested and cuffed, holding a fleur-de-lis. Here I should remark that one of my reasons for considering the names Comberbach and Cumberlege identical is the similarity of the arms. John Cumberlege, was a subscriber to Plot's Natural history of Staffordshire, and his arms figure on the folding title to that work, viz. Barry of six ermine and sable, on a canton or a fleur-de-lis gules. The Rev. S. F. Cumberlege, who claims to be of the same family, now bears this coat, and for his crest, a fleur-dc-his between two feathers, with a motto, Vouloir ce que Dieu veut.
The traditional account of the origin of the canton and crest, for I have no better evidence to offer, is, that they were given as an augmentation to one of the family who took a standard from the French at some great battle of the Middle Ages. If the canton be azure, and the flour-dc-us or, there may be some foundation of truth in the story. Be this as it may, let us not though we do well to be cautious in listening to the voice of the charmer, tradition.-altogether reject it when it argues on the side of possibility.
The pedigrees of the Comberbachs of Nantwich, Haughton, and Barbadoes, as far as I have been able to trace them, will be found at subsequent pages. Here are only put down such detached notes and references as I have collected concerning various branches of the family of which it is impossible to give any continuous pedigree. From 1335 all trace of the name is lost for nearly 200 years.
On the 24th April, 1521, Sir Richard Comberbach, “our ladies priest and overseer of the works,” was one of those who desired a contribution towards the building of the tower of the parish church of Lymm. (Topographer and Genealogist, vol. i., p. 385.)
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a numerous family of this name existed in Congleton and the neighbourhood. From it the Nantwich branch may have sprung. The obscurity however of their position in social life renders it difficult, if not impossible, to form a connected pedigree, one must therefore be content with placing on record such scattered notes as a few wills and parish registers afford.
Congleton is situate in the parish of Astbury, in the registers of which place occur numerous entries relative to persons of the name; they commence as early as 1593. They will be found at page 49 [Appendix], being too long for insertion here. The first notice I find of a Comberbach of Congleton, is in Harleian MS. 2115, ff. 120c, and 133b, where occur, “Ed. Comberbach,” and “Ranus Comberbach de Congleton. 35 Henry VIII.” . One Thomas Comberbach was mayor of Congleton in 1576; see Yates’ History of that place, page 67. John Comberbatche, of Odd Rode, near Congleton, yeoman, in his will bearing date 10th Jany, 1626, directs his body to be buried in the church yard of Astbury. He mentions therein his sons Raffe, John, and Richard, and daughters Ellen Twemblowe, Margaret Cartwright, and Anne Loundes.* (* Baptized 15th April, 1593. See Astbury Parish Register extracts).
Administration of the effects of Richard Cumberbach of Congleton, was granted in 1633 ; two persons named Ralph Comberbach assisted in making the inventory of his goods. Ralph Cumberbach of Congleton, in his will made 9th Septr 1652, directs his body to be buried in the churchyard of Astbury; mentions his wife Isabell, sons Ralph and William, daughter Jone, and grandchild Margery Comberbach, daughter of said son Ralph.
In later times a family probably connected with that of Congleton, resided in the neighbouring parish of Sandbach, but no person of the name is now living there. A Joseph Comberbach was churchwarden of Sandbach in 1731 and 1732. Joseph Comberbach, of Sandbach, innholder; died 9th March, 1743, aged 56; and Mary his wife, died 23rd March, 1754, aged 70, and was buried on the 26th of the same month. (See monumental inscription, page 47 [Appendix].) They had issue:-
RICHARD, baptized 26th Nov. 1710.
JOSEPH, bapt. 30th June, 1713 ; was town-clerk of Macclesfield. His will dated 28th March, 1762, proved at Chester, 1st October, 1764, He died 21st June, 1761, and was buried at Sandbach.
MARY, married Randle Furnival, of Congleton, and had issue Mary and Ellen.
ANN, baptized 9th Oct., 1715 ; married __ Brooke, of Congleton.
SARAH, baptized 28th April, 1717.
DANIEL, of whom presently.
SAMUEL, baptized 30th April, 1721. In his will dated 4th July, 1792, and proved 4th March, 1793, he mentions his sister-in-law, Mary Comberbach, “widow of my late brother, Daniel Comberbach,” and his nephew, Daniel Comberbach. He was buried at Sandbach, 22nd February, 1792. Samuel Comberbach and Elizabeth Hitchinson, both of Sandbach, were married 17th April, 1751. Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Comberbach, was buried 22nd March following Samuel Comberbach had a son Joseph, who is mentioned in the will of his uncle and god-father, Joseph Comberbach. He is, I presume, the Joseph who married 12th February, 1771, Mary Stanway. She was buried 22nd April, 1772. He was buried 25th Dec., 1771.
ELLEN, baptized 20th January, 1722; living 1762.
WILLIAM, baptized 13th November. 1726.
MARTHA, baptized 3rd March, 1727, buried 13th February, 1729.
Daniel, son of Joseph Comberbach, was baptized 28th Dec. 1718. As far as I am able to reconcile the various entries which occur in the parish registers of Sandbach, I am inclined to think that he married four times; first, 11th May, 1755, to Ann Johnson, of Sandbach; she was buried 3rd April, 1759. They had issue:-
Mary, baptized 21st March, 1756, buried 14th August, 1778.
Ann, baptized 15th February, 1758, and buried 15th November following.
Unless there were two persons of the same name living in Sandbach at the same time, which is scarcely probable, he must have married again, soon after his first wife's death, a second, and had issue by her:-
JOSEPH, baptized 10th September, 1760, buried 23rd Aug. 1761.
ELIZABETH, baptized 11th June, 1762.
DANIEL, baptized 18th May, 1764. Living 1792.
This wife of Daniel Comberbach was burried (sic) Dec. 1764. On the 14th March, 1765, he married his third wife, Katherine Mortlock, of Sandbach, who was buried 7th August, 1785. And 14th March, 1786, he married Mary Handcock, of Barthomley, who survived him. He was buried 15th June, 1787.
The Comberbachs of Congleton are not yet quite extinct. A William Comberbach still keeps the White Bear Inn, in that town.
Several persons of this name were living at Kenyon, in the county of Lancaster, during the seventeenth century. A few extracts relative to them from the Registers of Winwick, will be found at page 51 [Appendix]. Randle Cumberbach, of Kenyon, in his will dated 28th September, 1630, directs his body to be buried in his parish church of Winwick ; mentions the lease of his house from Edward Holland, of Denton, Esq. ; his wife Anne, son John, daughter Katheren, wife of Peter Crofte. Ellen Comberbatche was a witness to the will.
John Comberbirch (sic), of Kenion, made his will 20th January, 1687, mentions his sons John and Robert, his daughter Mary Johnes, and son-in-law Richard Andrews.
Robert Cumberbatch, of Kenyon, yeoman, in his will of August 8th, 1710, mentions among other persons his sister, Alice Norris, and nephew, Robert Cumberbatch. The will was proved 12th May, 1721.
Persons named Comberbach resided at Alvanley and Helsby, in the parish of Frodsham, county of Chester, but I only find four entries in the parish register (see page 51 [Appendix]. John Cumberbach, of Alvanley, by his will, bearing date 26th October, 1631, directs his body to be buried in the parish church of Frodsham, and mentions his wife, Joane Comberbache, sons John, Edward, Raffe, and Robert, daughters Anne and Alice, and his kinsman Rychard Weston, whom he appoints one of his executors.
Administration of the effects of Robert Cumberbach, of Alvanley, in the county of Chester, was granted to Jeremiah Leech, to the use of Ellen Leech, alias Cumberbach, his wife’s daughter, in 1672.
Probate of the nuncupative will of John Cumberbach, of Helsby, in the parish of Frodsham, blacksmith, was granted 16th February, 1664 ; mention is therein made of testator’s sons Richard and Ralph, daughter Mary Miller, alias Cumberbatch, and grandchild Elizabeth Miller ;
“and likewise hee expressed that hee had a sonn in Portingale * (* i.e. Portugal); and if ever hee returned he did give and bequeath him the bedd whereon hee lay to rest his bones upon. These words hee uttered in the presence of Thomas Oulton and Edward Comberbach, and suddenly departed this life.”
In the beginning of the eighteenth century I find the will of a Roger Comberbach, of Cuddington, and of a John Comberbach, of Walton-le-Dale, but have no further information concerning them. The will of Roger Comberbach, of Cuddington, in the county of Chester, yeoman, is dated 2nd April, 1709, and was proved 30th May in the same year; he mentions, together with other persons, cozen John Sheen’s four children, of Over, cozen John Sumner’s five children, daughter Katherine Comberbach, brother-in-law Robert Anson’s four children, neice (sic) Ann Burrowes, of Little Lee, son-in-law John Hold (?) of Aughton, cozen John Sheen’s children, of Peckforton; and appoints John Sheen and John Sumner executors. Among bequests to several persons the following item occurs:- “I give and bequeath unto my landlord and landlady Gill, of Haddington, and to their son, Thomas Gill, two shillings and sixpence apiece to buy them gloves.” The inventory of goods amounts to £156 7s. John Comberbach, of Walton-le-Dale, in the county of Lancaster, husbandman, in his will, dated 28th January, 1723, and proved 21st October, 1724, directs his body to be buried in his parish church of Walton, and names his wife Cicily Comberbach, brother Robert Comberbach, and nephew John Comberbach.
The next person I have to mention is Richard Cumberbache* (* Buried 9th May, 1624), of Lee, in the parish of Wybunbury. In his will, bearing date 22nd April, 1624, he directs his body to be buried in the parish churchyard of Wybunbury; and mentions Francis Aston, daughter of Thomas Aston, his son-in-law, Margaret Cumberbache, alias Lownes, his base daughter, and his wife Elizabeth Cumberbache† († Buried at Wybunbury, 21st January, 1637). He may possibly have been related to the Comberbachs of Nantwich. Mary, daughter of .John Comberbach, was baptized at Wybunbury, December 8th, 1684. Was this a John Comberbach of Nantwich?
An ecclesiastic the Reverend Richard Comberbach, was perpetual curate of Little Peover, near Knutsford, in Cheshire, during the early part of the eighteenth century, and was at one time a non juror. He endowed a school there which remains to this day, and left a charity to the poor of bread. His monumental inscription, &c., will be found at page 18. In his will, made 18th June, 1720, and proved 4th June, 1722, he directs his body to be put into a poplar coffin, coloured black, and to be laid in his late wife’s grave, in the evening, by candle light, near the font in the chapel of Lower Peover. He then appoints Richard Mee, his sole executor. He bequeaths four hundred pounds to five trustees, for an endowment for Lower Peover school. The trustees are to take “direction of my worthy friend, Sir Francis Leicester, Bart., in what relates that trust, when he is in the country.” Gives £52 to provide bread for the poor, who shall attend divine service and sermon every Sunday. Gives all his household goods to his wife. Mentions several persons to whom he gives legacies, and among them his “kinsman, Samuel Twisse.” Gives his wife £1200, and states, that £100 of this was given her by her late brother, Francis Hobson, late of Butley Hall, Gent. deceased. Mentions his wife’s neice, Mary, wife of Edward Oakes, and his wife’s nephew, Ralph Leach’s son Ralph. Gives £52 for bread to be given to the poor of Nether Alderley, every Sunday. Mentions “brother and sister Lee, and their children.” “Kinsman William Watts.” Directs his will to be preserved among the records of Lower Peover Chapel.
In a codicil, testator mentions his brother Ralph Leach’s wish to have his grandson’s legacy paid, which the testator does, and revokes the former bequest.
Value of inventory of goods amounts to £1274 9s. 5½d. The will is sealed with a seal, upon which is, Ermine on a chief a bezant between two billets. Crest, a fusil between two wings erect addorsed. These are the arms of Watts.
Notwithstanding a slight discrepancy in the dates (see monumental inscription), I consider Richard Comberbach, of Peover Inferior, to be identical with Richard Comberbach who graduated B.A. at Caius College, Cambridge, in 1668. In the admission book at that College, now in the custody of Dr. Guest the Master, I find him entered as Richard Comberbatch, son of Ralph Comberbatch, of Lyme, i. e, Lymm, in Cheshire ingenuus; born at Lachford, and educated under Mr. Richardson, of Lyme; entered as a sizar under Mr. Ellys; aged 21, anno. 1665.
In the lists of non-jurors in Kettlewell and Bowles I find the following entries, which I believe refer to this person, although they are both manifestly erroneous :-
“Mr. Richard Cumberland, curate of Tabby,” (i.e. Tabley.) Life of Kettlewell, 1718. App. Vi.
“Mr. Cumblach, Vicar (sic) of Lym.” Bowles’ Life of Ken. II., 185.
I have examined the transcripts of the parish registers of Lymm, but without eliciting much information, vide page 52 [Appendix].
Some Cumberbachs were resident at Crich, in the county of Derby, in 1707 and 1708. Administration of the effects of William Cumberbach, of Crich, was granted to his son Richard, 18th April, 1707. Administration of the effects of Richard Cumberbach, of Frichley, in the parish of Crich, was granted to his sister Joan Cumberbach, 23rd April, 1708.
The other side of the Atlantic may not be without a Comberbach. One Thomas Comberbach emigrated to New England from Norwich, in 17th century. (See New England Genealogical and Historical Register, vol. vi., p. 171, and vol. xiv., p. 325.)
It was under the name of Comberbach that Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet, enlisted in the 15th dragoons, when in great pecuniary distress after quitting Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1794, without a degree.
A fatal accident, of which a man named James Comberbach was the innocent cause, is reported in the Standard newspaper of September 20th, 1864.
I have now only to mention one more family claiming to be descended out of Cheshire, and I regret that I have but little information concerning it. It is, I believe, represented by Mr. R. Comberbach, of Antwerp, who, on the 21st February, 1862, wrote me :-
“I regret that my time has been so fully employed as to prevent me from thinking of genealogy, in bringing up a family of twelve children, of which I have unfortunately lost six, five of them grown up men and women. My age, now seventy-seven nearly, will excuse my not complying with your request of giving you my pedigree; in fact, I have been quite separated from my father’s relatives, he having left Cheshire at the age of twenty; he often spoke of visiting the tombs of his ancestors in Chester Cathedral, but death prevented him.”
This gentleman's younger brother, the Rev. Father Comberbach, of St. Mary's Priory, Princethorpe, near Rugby, in a letter dated 12th February, 1862, says:-
“Being the youngest of a very large family (nineteen in number) my early life found little interest in enquiries from those who were near the close of theirs as to genealogy, My father was from Cheshire, a younger son, he entered the army at an early age, enlisting in a moment of anger. He was at the seige of Gibraltar, and I have always understood that to the accurate journal of that celebrated seige which he kept, Colonel Drinkwater was largely indebted for his work."
I have here, as briefly as possible, narrated all the scattered facts I have collected concerning individuals of the surname of Comberbach, of whose families it would be difficult, if not impossible, to form connected genealogies. I shall, therefore, pass on to those whose descent can be more certainly ascertained.