icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Lightfoot Family History

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire, England

Lightfoots in America trace our ancestry to the Rev. Richard Lightfoot, rector of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 1601–-1625

Richard Lightfoot Memorial -- Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire, England

Translated from the Latin:

"This tomb was placed here to the memory of Richard Lightfoot, minister of the gospel and rector of this church for twenty-four years, by J.L. [John Lightfoot], his son and heir. Death quietly and unexpectedly overtook him while feeding his flock by word and deed. His life was short, for it was a long meditation on death. Thus he taught others to live and himself to die. He died in the year of our Lord 1625, aged 63 years."

Diary of a Genealogical Traveler

Notes from a trip my husband, Gene Sizemore, and I made to England in 1989:

Thurs., Nov. 16, 1989

Check out of Gonville Hotel [in Cambridge] at about 11 a.m.; head west to Bedford, then toward Towcester.

Just before Towcester we turn off on a minor road to Stoke Bruern. Find church immediately. Locked for organ repairs, but the rector lends us the key. We find Richard Lightfoot memorial plaque, copy inscription, sketch family coat of arms. Fantastic find. Pick up literature about the church, buy notecards, leave 2 pounds in box for church upkeep.

Drive into village, past cottages with thatched roofs. Go over Grand Canal Bridge, follow signs to British Waterways Museum. Go through museum, learn about English canal system, boatmen, life on the boats, use of horses and "leggers" to tow and propel boats. Buy souvenirs including "canal roses" painting for Mom. Cross over canal on narrow bridge, have coffee and scones in Boat Inn tea room. Everybody makes great coffee in this country. Walk along tow path short ways—too cold to linger. Mallards swim furiously to shore to meet us, disappointed that we have nothing to feed them.

Return to car, drive few miles into Northampton. Go nearly all way 'round town looking for hotel. Finally find The Swallow—budget-bustingly expensive, but very comfortable: huge bath with a shower and washcloths—rare things in England. Amenities include coffee, tea, hot chocolate, shortbread on tea service; milk, fruit juice, Pepsi in fridge. Still no mixing faucets.

While Gene checks our route for tomorrow to York, I write to Mom about finding ancestor Richard.

Canal Roses: The Boatmen-Painters' Art

Folk art from the Canal Boatmen of Stoke Bruerne

Letter from Britain

Nov. 16, 1989

Hi Mom!

Today we made an exciting find—the very church where Richard Lightfoot was rector from 1601 until his death in 1625. The church was locked, but we walked over to the rectory, I identified myself as a descendant of Richard, and we got the key to the front door. There is a black bronze memorial to Richard near the organ. It's in Latin. I copied it, also sketched the coat of arms that is engraved on the memorial tablet. Elsewhere in the church there is a list of all rectors of St. Mary the Virgin since 1217, together with their patrons. Richard's patron was Sir Christopher Hatton. Apparently there is some tourist traffic through the village—in the church there was a table holding packets of notecards [with a drawing of the church, above] and an illustrated guide. Trusting folks—they just had a coin box and asked 1 pound Sterling for notes and 30 pence for guide. So I bought them. Anyhow, it was great fun to find Great-Great-Great (?) Grandpappy Richard.

The village of Stoke Bruerne is quaint and wonderful. Narrow streets, cottages with thatched roofs. A canal goes through the village. We spent some time at the Waterways Museum. I got you an example of the boatmen-painter's art. You'll have to wait till Christmas to see it.

Tomorrow . . . on to the Yorkshire Dales.