Wharton’s – My Ancient Ancestors

Often when I’m researching family history, regardless of the branch, I feel a real connection and gain a greater understanding of familial traits and relationships.  Yet sometimes, especially in the ancient families’ histories, the facts seem so very surreal; especially as they unfold through the mix of aristocracies, the haughty “blue-bloods,” castles, manor houses, servants, and the underbelly of tawdry tales from historical accounts of my families’ lives and times.  So, as we continue this chapter about my paternal great-grandmother Mary Florence Wharton’s family’s branch we are exploring Scotland and England during the 12th through the 16th Centuries.  Along our way, we have learned that many of the Wharton’s descended from the family’s progenitor — Gilbert de Querton; that many became knights and amassed land as a result; and that others gained social ascension through their marriages into well-to-do families through Princesses, Kings, Dukes, etc..

The Wharton’s knighthood dates from 6 October 1292 when King Edward I granted to Gilbert de Querton “the Manor of Querton with its appurtenances.” (“Querton” was the earlier Latin spelling of “Wharton”).

On this map, I have highlighted the borderline between England and Scotland within the rectangular area that spans from Carlisle to Berwick in the East.  Many renowned families originated here.  Names like Armstrong, Bell, Carson, Graham, Hume, Irving, Nixon, Rutherford, and–Wharton.

For about 400 years (13th-17th Centuries), Wharton’s were among those who lived along this Anglo-Scottish Border region. It literally was a war zone.  Both Scottish and English families raided the entire Border country without regard to victims’ nationalities. Their heyday was perhaps in the last hundred years of their existence, at the time of their Kings:  The Tudors (1485 -1603) and The Stuarts 1603 – (1649 and 1660 – 1714 ).

Ruins of Lammerside Castle                             Photo courtesy of Graeme Dougal

Lammerside Castle existed before Gilbert de Querton (original spelling of the Wharton family name), received title to it. It was most likely built by a border branch of the Scottish Wauchope/Warcop family, who later intermarried with the Wharton family. This was part of that border region that switched back and forth several times between Scotland and England, before remaining under English control.


In Westmorland County (now known as Cumbria County), in a civil parish near Kirkby Stephen (circled in black on the map) stands the very impressive “Wharton Hall”  with a gatehouse, internal courtyard, and outbuildings built by Gilbert de Querton for himself and his wife, Emma de Hastings.  It is about one mile from Lammerside Tower and Pendragon Castle (mentioned in my earlier post).

After construction of Wharton Hall, both castles fell into disrepair and now exist only as ruins as shown in the images.

Thomas Wharton, 1st Baron Wharton (1495 – 23 August 1568), 4th line of descent from Sir Gilbert de Querton

Thomas was born in Wharton, the eldest son of Sir Thomas Wharton of Wharton Hall and his wife Agnes Warcop, daughter of Reynold or Reginald Warcop of Smardale. His younger brother was the English martyr Christopher Wharton. His father died around 1520, and in April 1522 he served on a raiding expedition into Scotland. Thomas was also a  follower of King Henry VIII of England. He is best known for his victory at Solway Moss on 24 November 1542.  For this victory, his title of Barony was created in 1544. Sir Thomas Wharton had previously served as a Member of Parliament for Cumberland.  (The letters patent stipulated that his Barony title could only be passed on to male heirs.) It was along this Anglo-Scottish border that “Lord Wharton” led 3,000 men. The battle took place between the rivers Esk and Lyne.  Here, the Scots found themselves penned in the south of the Esk in English territory between the river and the Moss (a peat bog).  After intense fighting, the Scots surrendered themselves to the English cavalry.  

Henry de Wharton, the 5th descendant of Gilbert de Querton

Sir Henry inherited Wharton family lands in today’s Cumbria which by then included estates in Ravenstonedale, Rengill, Norton, and Kellorth. Sir Henry had two sons, Sir Thomas de Wharton and Gilbert de Wharton. Upon Henry’s death, Sir Thomas inherited the lands of his father and added Croglin (Cumberland). Sir Thomas’ line is the origin of the first Lords of Wharton Hall. Sir Thomas was also a steward in the house of Princess Mary, daughter of King Henry VII, and he fought with Henry the VIII against the Scots.

The youngest son of Henry de Wharton, Gilbert, married Joan (or Jane) Kirkby who was the heiress to the lands of Kirkby Thor. This included estates in Offerton, Dryburn, Gillingwood, Skelton Castle, Durham, and Yorkshire.

John Wharton, the 6th descendant of Gilbert de Wharton purchased Old Park (near Durham) in 1600 and from him, the Wharton’s of Old Park descended.

Lord  Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton in 1632, by Van Dyck.

Sir Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton (18 April 1613 – 4 February 1696), (7th line of descent), was an English soldier, politician, and diplomat. He was a Parliamentarian during the English Civil War.  Philip was named in honor of Philip II of Spain who married Princess Mary. King Philip himself stood as Godfather to Philip Wharton at his baptism.  He also was a Puritan and a favorite of Sir Oliver Cromwell.  After the English Civil War, Sir Philip frequently ran into difficulty with the Crown. In 1676 he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and later (in 1685) fled the country when King James II came to the throne.

Sir Philip Wharton (8th line of descent), was active in the overthrow of King James II and in 1692 entertained King William and Queen Mary at Woodburn Manor. The inscription on his tomb reads “An active supporter of the English Constitution; a loyal observer, advocate, and patron of reformed religion; a model alike of good works and true and living faith.”  Lord Wharton gave much support to church ministers, particularly those who shared his perspectives. He also gave money to establish chapels at Ravenstonedale and Smarber and to provide for the ministers at both places.

Sir Thomas Wharton (9th line of descent), made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland between 1708-1710, and was appointed by King George I as Lord of the Privy Seal in 1714; given several peerages, and made Knight of the Garter. He was also named the first Marquis of Wharton Hall in 1715.

Sir Philip Wharton (10th line of descent), (December 1698 – May 31, 1731), was eccentric, witty, and gifted — writing a ballad about the Archbishop of Canterbury. Philip was made the First Duke of Wharton in 1718, but the title was later forfeited when the Duke was declared an outlaw, and his inherited titles from his father became extinct upon his death.

Philip Wharton was also a Jacobite–a sympathizer with King James II, who was a suspected Catholic. Most of the people of England did not want a Catholic as King.    Thus, Glorious Revolution of 1688, where the English people deposed him and invited his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, to rule as joint sovereigns. This couple became King William III and Queen Mary II, from whom the College of William and Mary, in Virginia, was named. Philip was definitely a colorful figure of the period. He founded and was one-time president of one of probably three Hell-Fire Clubs in London. Hell-Fire Clubs were rumored to be meeting places for “high society” and politicians who were perceived to practice socially immoral acts. As publisher of True Briton from June 3, 1723, until February 17, 1724, Philip’s writings resulted in his printer, Samuel Richardson, being tried for libel and his own self-exile to the Continent where his service for the King of Spain in the siege of Gibraltar lead to a charge of High Treason. With his estates frozen, he was living in Rouen, France when he was outlawed on April 3, 1729, for not appearing on the charge of High Treason. He died in indigence at a Bernadine convent in Catalonia, May 31, 1731.

Unfortunately, the son of Sir Philip Wharton, Thomas Wharton (the seventh Lord Wharton and second Duke) died without having any children and the line of noble Wharton’s died out.

In 1682, a different Thomas Wharton (b.1644 d.1718), commonly called Thomas “The Immigrant,” left England for America. He was the son of Richard Wharton of Orton, Overton Parish, Westmoreland.  His son, Joseph Wharton, the first Wharton born in the North America,  (1707 – 1776), became a famous Philadelphia industrialist, a successful merchant, and the owner of “Walnut Grove,” a country place on Fifth street, near Washington Avenue, Philadelphia, on which the Mischianza of 1778 was held. His house was the finest of its day near that city. It was torn down in 1862, to make room for a schoolhouse. He was called “Duke Wharton”, because of his stately bearing. And, Joseph Wharton was the namesake for the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and the benefactor of Swarthmore College in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He had several brothers, one of whom was named Captain John Wharton (married to Mary Dobbins), who settled in Chester County (possibly Delaware County today) and had Quaker leanings.

As a result of Henry VIII’s “Dissolution of the Monasteries”  between 1536 and 1541, a 7,702 acre mountainous Manor known as Langdale, in the township of Orton, in Westmorland County, (once the Priory of Watton), was sold to the Wharton family and now belongs to the Earl of Lonsdale.





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