The Ravells of Bottesford

Family history

By Neil Fortey

William Ravell's land adjoining Mill Lane (now Belvoir Road).
William Ravell's land adjoining Mill Lane (now Belvoir Road).
William Ravell's land adjoining Barkestone Lane.
William Ravell's land adjoining Barkestone Lane.
Memorial plaque to Anthony Ravell, died 1727.
Memorial plaque to Anthony Ravell, died 1727.
Bottesford choir, 1946: John Thomas Ravell, churchwarden, standing at left.
Bottesford choir, 1946: John Thomas Ravell, churchwarden, standing at left.
Ravell headstone, Mary, Ann, Sarah and Thomas, children of William and Anna Ravell; Bottesford churchyard
Ravell headstone, Mary, Ann, Sarah and Thomas, children of William and Anna Ravell; Bottesford churchyard
Ravell headstone, William and Mary Ravell, and their son John Thomas Ravell; Bottesford churchyard
Ravell headstone, William and Mary Ravell, and their son John Thomas Ravell; Bottesford churchyard
Mr John Thomas Ravell, ca.1955
Mr John Thomas Ravell, ca.1955
The Ravells of Bottesford


A message from Angela Shaw on our Messages page asked about the Ravells of Bottesford, which has prompted some delving into the records to see what could be found. The outcome is presented here. It is, inevitably, very incomplete, and will be updated as more information comes to light. We would welcome corrections and additions via the Comments box at the bottom of this page or via email to Meanwhile, here goes!

We have census records, directories, maps, rating records, churchyard records and other documents. Parish records are a problem, as they are lodged at the county Records Office which is not easily accessible from here, but there is a lot of information in the Guys of Bottesford website and also copies of some original pages that have come our way.

The Ravell family from the 18th Century

We have records going back to the early part of the 18th Century for the Ravells, but nothing earlier at present. A plaque in Bottesford church records Antony Ravell (1665-1727) who died in the Leward Islands (Caribbean) and left £100 to Bottesford village school. This bequest, added to an earlier one from Abel Ligonier, brought about the building ca.1730 of a new school house within the NE corner of the churchyard, a school that remained in use until it was replaced by the ‘old school’ on Grantham Road in 1855. There is a record of the burial in Bottesford of a Matthias Ravell in 1739, and it is possible that these were brothers. An engraving of this school building was published by Nichol in 1795, but there are no remains to be seen today.

We have a record of the burial of a second Anthony Ravell, in 1763, and of his wife Eleanor in 1757; also records of the burial of William Ravell (1723-1785), ‘gentleman’, and his wife Margaret (nee Hough, 1723-1788). Muston parish records compiled by Jen Mortensen include their marriage at Muston on 18th August, 1751 (though both were born in Bottesford). It is possible that this William was son of Anthony and grandson of Matthias. William was allotted two parcels of land during the Parliamentary Enclosure of the parish in 1771. He was appointed Overseer of the Poor in Bottesford in 1785, though he died in August of that year: presumably the year’s work was completed by someone else in his name, possibly his son Matthew who would have been 31 at the time.

This William Ravell had two sons, Matthew Ravell and William Ravell (referred to here as William II). Matthew (1754-1828) may have died a batchelor, but William II (1766-1824) married Anna (1772-1831) and they had at least seven children. The eldest William Ravell (William III) (1797-1876) was a farmer who lived on Bottesford High Street and apparently did not marry. Then came three daughters Sarah Ravell (1797-1816), Mary Ravell (1799-1830) and Ann Ravell (1803-1833): Sarah and William may have been twins. These daughters share a tombstone in the churchyard and so it appears none of them married. Next was Richard Ravell (1807-1833) and Matthias Ravell (1813-1895), then finally Thomas Ravell (1816-1819).

This second Matthias Ravell had a farm on Belvoir Road and married Mary (1813-1883). They had three sons, William Ravell (William IV) (1844-1911), John Ravell (1848-1876) and Thomas Ravell (1850-1877). John nor Thomas appear to have stayed at home and neither appears to have married: both died in their twenties, in successive years. By this time, their brother William IV had left and gone to live on his uncle Thomas Marshall’s farm at Normanton (probably the present-day Normanton House), leaving no-one to continue farming on Belvoir Road.

Thomas Marshall evidently treated William IV as his heir, and when Thomas died William inherited the farm in Normanton with his wife Emma (nee Barnes, 1863-1941). They had seven children, six girls and one boy. These were Annie Ravell (born 1882), John Thomas Ravell (1885-1962), Mary Elizabeth Ravell (b.1887), Agnes E. Ravell (b.1889), Charlotte Ravell (b.1889), Minnie Ravell (b.1891) and Lillian Ravell (b.1894). John Thomas appears to have been a bachelor farmer, until after the Second World War he retired to Ivy House, Devon Lane, Bottesford. However, I have no information to add about the lives of his sisters.

Overseers of the Poor

William Ravell was Overseer of the Poor in Bottesford in 1785, though he died in August of that year! Presumably the work was carried out by someone else in his name, possibly his son Matthew who would have been 31 at the time. Matthew Ravell served as Overseer of the Poor in Bottesford in 1801 and 1822. There is a record that a later Matthias Ravell lived at what is now Arnal Lodge, Belvoir Road, in 1880 (was it built then?). In 1946, John Thomas Ravell was church warden at Bottesford.

Land Records

The Ravells were a farming family. The Parliamentary Enclosure award of 1771 indicates that William Ravell was allotted two parcels of land, namely a field of 9-3-9 on the western side of “Mill Lane” (now called Belvoir Road) and a second field of 24-3-8 on the eastern side of Barkestone Lane, making a total possession of about 34 acres.

Land areas are given as acres-roods-perches unless stated otherwise, so that for instance “9-3-9” indicates 9 acres, 3 roods and 9 perches.

The next record we have is from a rate list dating from about 1838-1840 in which William Ravell has the following arrangements:

He occupies his own land comprising 0-1-11 arable and 32-2-30 pasture (house and land) “near Keyes Lane”.

He rents 22-2-0 pasture from the Women’s Hospital and also 6-1-4 pasture at “Acrelands” from the Duke of Rutland.

He rents to Samuel Fisher 24-3-8 pasture known as the “Swimmer”

He rents 4 perches arable and a tenement to Samuel Machin “near Keyes Lane”.

Why did he make this arrangement? Perhaps the “Swimmer” was of lower quality (prone to flooding?) than the land he rented from the Hospital and the Duke, so that he got a good deal.

A list of land holdings from 1894 states that William Ravell owned 24-3-8 at “The Swimmers” which he rented to Edward James Junior, but does not indicate any other arrangements.

A rating book from 1915 records the following:

J.T. Ravell (John Thomas) occupied 227-2-39 comprising land, buildings and a house, owned by the Duke of Rutland, and also occupied house (3-3-0) and land (3-1-16) owned by W.V. Jackson. [This is presumably the farm previously occupied by his father William Ravell who inherited it from his uncle Thomas Marshall. This land was in reality owned by the Duke of Rutland and the farmers were his tenants. John Thomas may have bought the farm outright in the 1920 Land Sale, but this needs to be confirmed.]

John Sheppard occupied a house, buildings and land (5-2-0) owned by the Exors of W. Ravell; A.E. Taylor rented 4-0-37 land from the Exors of W. Ravell.

Census Records

1841 Census:

William Ravell, aged 40 (rounded to the nearest ten years), a farmer, lived on King Street (probably what is now called Chapel Street), but there were no other members of the family on the census.

Matthias Ravell, a 21 year old joiner, married 21 year old Mary Marshall on October 24th 1843.

1851 Census:

William Ravell, aged 53, farmer of 40 acres, employing one labourer, lived on the High Street with housekeeper Ann Marriott, 35, from Cropwell Butler.

Matthias Ravell, 37, a cottager, lived on Mill Lane with wife Mary (38) and sons William (6), John (3) and Thomas (1). Mary and son William were both born in Barkestone.

1861 Census:

William Ravell, 64, farmer of 54 acres, has servants Alice Parnham 58 and John Braisby, 15.

Matthias Ravell, 46, a farmer of 64 acres, lives on Mill Lane with his wife Mary and sons John, 13, and Thomas, 11, as well as a carter John Hodson, 16, and a servant Ellen Weselby, 15.

William Ravell, 26, is a shepherd on the farm in Normanton owned by his uncle Thomas Marshall who came from Barkestone. This was a farm of 240 acres employing two men and two boys. This William Ravell is almost certainly the eldest son of Matthias and Mary.

1871 Census:

William Ravell (age given as 74), a farmer of 40 acres, lives at the Steam Mill with housekeeper Mary Singleton (40). The “Steam Mill” referred to may be the mill that stood on Belvoir Road at the corner of Belvoir Avenue, but this is not certain.

Matthias Ravell, 56, farmer of 80 acres, lives at The Lodge with wife Mary, 58, and sons John, 23, and Thomas, 21, along with servant Mary Louth, 16. It unclear which house was called The Lodge.

William Ravell, 26, is recorded as a farm servant on his uncle Thomas Marshall’s 227 acre farm at Normanton.

1881 Census:

Matthias Ravell, 66, farms 31 acres and lives on Mill Lane with his wife Mary, 68, but none of their sons are recorded. Both John and Thomas had died during the preceding decade.

William Ravell, 35, is recorded as a farmer though still living with his uncle Thomas Marshall, now 71, and aunt Ann Marshall, 68, in Normanton where they farm 239 acres.

1891 Census:

Matthias Ravell, 76, a widower lives on Mill Lane and is recorded as a carpenter and joiner.

William Ravell, 44, is a farmer and also head of the household in the farm in Normanton, accompanied by his wife Emma, 32, from Threekington, their children Emily, 8, John Thomas, 6, Mary E, 4, and Agnes E, 2, all born in Normanton. Also present were Charlotte L. Barnes, 22, Emma’s sister-in-law from Threekington who is recorded as “mother’s help”, and farm servant John Parnham, 18. William Ravell appears to have inherited the tenancy of the farm at Normanton from his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Ann Marshall, who may have died childless.

1901 Census:

William Ravell, 54, farmer in Normanton lives with wife Emma, 42, son John T, 17, and daughters Annie, 19, Elizabeth, 14, Agnes, 12, Charlotte, 10, Minnie, 9 and Lillian, 7. Thomas Holden, 14, is a farm servant and police constable, John Thomas Barnes, 29, is a visitor, probably Emma’s brother. Daughter Charlotte is named after Emma’s sister-in-law.


Post Office Directory 1855: William Ravell farmer; Matthias Ravell farmer

Post Office Directory 1876: William Ravell private citizen; Matthias Ravell farmer.

White’s Directory 1863: William Ravell farmer, High Street, Bottesford; Matthias Ravell farmer owner.

Wright’s Directory 1888: Matthias Ravell farmer, Mill Lane, Bottesford; William Ravell, farmer, Normanton: William Ravell of Bottesford High Street is no longer recorded.

Kelly’s Directory 1891: Matthias Ravell farmer, Bottesford; William Ravell farmer and labourer, Normanton.

Wright’s Directory 1899: William Ravell, farmer in Normanton: Matthias is no longer mentioned.

Kelly’s Directory 1908: William Ravell, farmer and labourer in Normanton.

Kelly’s Directory 1912: John Thomas Ravell, a farmer in Normanton.

Kelly’s Directory 1928: John Thomas Ravell farmer Normanton

Kelly’s Directory 1932: John Thomas Ravell farmer Normanton

Kelly’s Directory 1941: John Thomas Ravell farmer, 150 acres in Normanton

This page was added on 06/09/2010.

Comments about this page

  • Fantastic to see all the information pulled together. Minnie Ravell was my grandmother – she married Edward (Ted) Shaw in 1923. Her brother John you have mentioned. I remember him living alone with a housekeeper, Miss Wilson. Their sisters were (1) Emily Anne (Nance) b.1882 who married James Albert Philbin and had a daughter Edna Mary in 1913 who died aged 15 of TB; (2) Mary Elizabeth (Liz) b.1887 who married Frederick Lenton in 1914 and had a daughter Mollie in 1914 who died aged 22 (again of TB I believe). She and Fred lived in Danby House and helped bring up my father Tony after Ted Shaw left Minnie. Minnie and Liz were living together when I used to visit them as child in the 1960s. Liz sounded very gruff but was a fantastic cook. (3) Agnes Emma (“Nita”) married Frederick (“Freddy”) Clark in 1925 and they lived at “Greenfields” in Bottesford, rearing horses. They had a daughter Gillian (Jill) who is still alive. (4) Charlotte (Lott) b.1891 married James (“Jock”) Nairn and had 2 sons Alan and Gordon. Gordon died aged 26, Alan aged 80. Charlotte was the name of Emma Ravell’s mother (Charlotte Foyster) as well as her sister. (5) Lilian b.1896, who was unmarried. Emma Ravell (nee Barnes) also had a brother called Sam who farmed in Bottesford – most of her siblings seemed to move there from Threekingham. Sam had 6 children: Doris, Florence, Ernest, Maud, Leonard and Wilfred. I’ve seen mention of Florence (Flo) who married an Edward Taylor and Maud elsewhere on this site.

    By Angela Shaw (07/01/2011)
  • Hi. I noticed that no mention has been made of Antony Ravell being an excellent cartographer in the 17 hundreds. How come?

    By V.storrod (30/01/2012)
  • Thanks for this comment. As you intimate, the cartographer Antony Ravell was the author of a map of St. Kitts published in 1775. St.Kitts was known as St.Christopher, and ‘our’ Antony Ravell died there in 1727. Is this purely coincidence or was the later Antony Ravell the same person as the earlier (the map was published in 1775, but perhaps the survey from which it was taken was carried out many years earlier), or the son or grandson of the earlier? We would be grateful for any further information you cabn give us. With thanks, Neil Fortey.

    By Neil Fortey (01/02/2012)
  • Is the Ravell Family crest (Hatchement) hanging on the north aisle of the Church, over the the two wall tablets, if so which one is it? I understand the Ravell family originated in France (Toulouse) where some land bears the family name, could be from the original Knight which came over with William ?

    By Stuart Ravell (22/09/2012)
  • Stuart, As far as I am aware the hatchments commemorate funerals within the Duke of Rutland’s family. However, I’ll make enquiries, and let you know if I discover something relating to your family.

    By Neil Fortey (24/09/2012)
  • Thank you for the fascinating research in to the Ravell family. We currently live in Greenfield on Belvoir Road and we still have all of the original deeds and hence there are numerous references to the Ravells as the property was passed down through the years (our earliest record goes back to 1739). What we would really like to know is if there are any surviving photos of the house as we don’t have any other than a shot taken from further up Belvoir Road (probably at the entrance to Belvoir Avenue) at around the turn of the last century. I note from Angela Shaw’s message that Jill Clarke is still alive and therefore I wondered whether she might have some childhood photos? Does anyone know how to contact her? We are trying to put together a family tree of the house and this would really bring it to life. Many thanks in anticipation.

    By Richard Coombs (28/11/2012)
  • In response to Richard Coombs comment I’m afraid that Jill Toynbee-Clarke died in July 2012. I don’t know whether she had any photos of Greenfield. It was unusual for photos of just houses (as opposed to people) to be kept, but if I come across any I’ll let you know.

    By Angela Shaw (19/12/2013)
  • Having stumbled upon my Norris family on this website, my mind is now well and truly blown to find this Ravell history too. Mathew Ravell (b 1631) was my 7x great grandfather. I’m descended through William Ravell (1723-85), my 5 x great grandfather via his daughter Elizabeth (b1753). She married Thomas Piggins and their daughter Judith Piggins married my 3x great grandfather John Norris, which is the connection between the two families. Amazing. Would be fascinated if anyone has any more info or is connected/related to either of these two families.

    By Liz Alvey (18/01/2022)

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