On Ancestry, I have found a tree that traces from one of my ancestors back to 1465. The person's name at that point is John Tilston (1465-1506). The tree I was using asserted that John's father was Thomas Tilston (1443-1548) and his mother Elizabeth Heath (b 1443). The family were from Tilston, Cheshire, England. Thomas Tilston did indeed exist and was married to Elizabeth Heath. They had a son Richard (b circa 1477). The Tilston family is notable, and can be traced back to the time of William the Conqueror. A few trees in Ancestry have quoted the link between John and Thomas, Elizabeth and Richard, but I can't find any source references for this assertion. Wikipedia has the root of the Tilston Family (Eynion de Tilston b 1126) and Geni has a tree that starts with him and works forward to Richard.

Obviously proving a link to this family would be brilliant, but I am sceptical of the research the tree owner had done.

4 Answers 4


Page 12 of the Tilson Genealogy (1911, at archive.org) quotes a 1775 pedigree which claims "Hugh ... or John" as a brother of Richard.

That's more like hearsay than a "source", but it's probably what the Ancestry trees are based on.

  • 1
    Thanks, that's great news. Hearsay is at least a start and gives me an understanding where the information originated. Thanks very much for your help Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 5:17

The Family History Society of Cheshire (former South Cheshire) has two Heraldic Visitations of Cheshire from 1580 and 1613 online. Page 222 of the 1580 edition covers "Tildeston, alias Tilston, of Tilston & Hurley". The page is annotated "Harl. 1424 ,fo. 136." so presumably this visitation has been published by the Harleian Society.

The visitations don't seem to include dates - whether that is because the Heralds were only told parentage, with no dates, I don't know. Page 222 has a Thomas Tilston (no spouse's name) with two sons, Hugh and Richard.

Richard was married to an otherwise anonymous woman from Bostock and had issue Thomas, Roger and Rafe.

Hugh was married to an otherwise anonymous woman from Hulgreve and had issue John ("base") and Richard who married Ellin Bird.

If I choose one of the many Tilston trees on Ancestry at near random ("Hawksworth family Trees"), I reckon the Thomas at the start of my text above is Thomas (1443-1523) who m Elizabeth Heath and has 2 sons John and Richard. Richard matches p222 as he marries a Maud Bostock. John in the tree marries a Hulgrave, and has a son Richard marrying Ellen Byrde. That matches p222 and so it looks like John in this tree matches Hugh on p222.

I think that's the best match - I am sure there will be many variations in Ancestry.

Who's right? The Herald's Visitations are one of the classic sources of trees. They, of course, amount to just the verbal history but they are closer to contemporary sources than Ancestry! At least you may find areas of agreement.

  • Thanks very much for the extra information. As you say, the many Ancestry trees use the information in the same way you have explained it. It's of course conjecture nowadays and with so many changes of name (Rafe=Ralph, Hugh=John) it's possible the inferences they made were not correct. One does like ones research to based on fact, but when you get so far into the past, you just have to include a level of probability. I feel a trip to Cheshire is called for. That may wait a while, since I now live in New Zealand. If I can get my UK siblings interested, hopefully they can help me Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 21:24

According to p222 of the Harl version of the Heralds Visitation of Cheshire 1580 Thomas had two sons; Hugh who married daughter to Hulgreve Hall and Richard (my ancestor) who married a daughter of Bostock of Huxley. I am waiting to hear from the Chester Herald about the latter marriage. I believe that Maud and her father Richard may have been stated on the 1613 Visitation. Why would this not be on the 1580 Visitation one might ask. I believe quite simply that Rafe the direct heir and gt gt grandson of Hugh son of Thomas provided the information to the Heralds then died in 1590 (have exact date somewhere). Another, perhaps more informed family member submitted information in 1613.

Rafe who married Katherine Bostock for example did not mention that his wife Katherine Bostock had been illegitimate as he had been no doubt anxious to protect the family name. After he had died others were perhaps not so sensitive.

The Harl transcription of the 1580 Visitation also misnames Thurston (Revd) the son of Rafe of Newport as Tristram. The original visitation also misses of Thurston's siblings John, Hughe and Ann.

Richard Tilston who married Maud Bostock had the following children: Thomas ancestor of the good Archbishop Johh, William, Thurston (ordained 1580), Rafe of Goldeston, John of Leigh in Staffordshire and Ann. All confirmed by wills at Lichfield Archives and on line National Archives. Richard Tilston was buried at Newport but Maud must have died and he remarried as his widow Elizabeth applied for probate. His son Rafe was buried at Cheswardine and he too remarried as although all on line trees claim him to have married Elizabeth grandaughter of Sir Thomas Leighton, it is an Ann who applied for probate.

On 4th August this year made a request and paid a large fee for searches and confirmation of marriages from the Chester Herald in London and though chased him up a couple of weeks ago have still not received a reply.

The base born John of Chester son of Hugh is the ancestor of the Alderman John of Chester some generations later.

Hope this helps.

  • Dorothy, I've edited your original answer to make the changes you've suggested, and also removed your contact details and signature as any post you make automatically points to your profile genealogy.stackexchange.com/users/940/dorothy-harrison and that's the place to put contact details.
    – user104
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 14:23
  • I have just re-read my previous comment which was amended slightly by yourselves. Thurston was ordained a priest and so was his brother Hughe. It was Hughe who had been ordained in 1580 not Thurston. As previously stated all names cross referred on various wills. A sister of Thurston and Hughe has also recently come to light.
    – user1111
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 12:02

The Guild of One-Name Studies has archived material from a former member who was studying the surname Tiltson that they will share with you if you contact them. It may well help you to confirm or deny what you have found so far.

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