The Lytollis Story....So Far

Here’s the story of the family from 1803.Robert Lighttallers, from whom the whole Lytollis family spring, first appeared in Carlisle on the St Cuthbert Parish registers when he married Jane Mason in 1803.

She was a local girl but Robert must have come from outside the area as there are no records before this of any brothers, sisters or parents in the Carlisle area.

I think it was most probable that he was part of the Lightollers family from Lancashire and West Yorkshire and he came to Carlisle during the boom years of handloom weaving. Weaving was taking off in the area at the time and people with the right skills were arriving from Lancashire and Ireland. There are possible links in Wibsey, near Bradford, Yorkshire and Chorley, Brindley and Preston in Lancashire. Many of these families were involved in the weaving industry. The name Lightoller itself originates from the manor of Lightowlers near Littleborough , Lancashire first recorded in 1296.

Robert and Jane had two children. The first was baptised on the 21st of May 1803 at St Cuthbert’s. Their second child, Joseph was baptised on the 19th February 1806. Unfortunately the first child, John, died just after this in March leaving only Joseph to carry on the line.Robert was first recorded at his marriage and birth of his first son as a ‘weaver’ but by the time John died he was a ‘soldier.’ This was during the Napoleonic wars when there was a call up in every locality. All men between 18 and 45 were required to be registered for the local Militia. Records of Robert Lighthallows of Carlisle appear in the Quarter Sessions for Lancaster. He was in the Lancaster Militia and there are petitions for maintenance for his wife and children dated 1804 and 1807. He is recorded as a ‘substitute’ for John Sutcliffe of Lancaster (this means that he was paid by John Sutcliffe to serve in his place). Jane remarried in August 1808 so we can only assume that he died or was killed in service late1807. As he was in the Lancaster Militia and serving as a substitute for someone from Lancaster this seems to point towards him being originally from the Lancashire area.

Jane’s remarriage to Michael Ward begins a Ward/Lytollis confusion. (Joseph b.1806 was only two at the time and at least three more Ward children were born) The families descended from Joseph, throughout the next 100 years, usually referred to themselves as various spellings of Lytollis in church records but as sometimes as Ward in the censuses. (I met a lady in Carlisle who was brought up as a Ward but later found she was in fact a Lytollis.)The spelling of the name changed frequently over the next 100 years among others there are Lightallers, Lighttollous, Lytallis, Littallis, Litellus, Litollus, Letillus, and Lytellon. Of course very few people could write at the time and it was left up to the parish clerk or vicar to listen to the name and do as best he could.

How the name came to be spelt the Lytollis throughout the family by the early 20th century is a mystery….I can only assume that the family was still very close and the message got round!

Joseph married Elizabeth Irving in 1825 and the dynasty really got going. (Mason and Irving became family Christian names) Elizabeth and Joseph went to live at Tarraby, a hamlet near Carlisle where her family was based. They had at least ten children over the next 25 years. As the children got married they seemed to have set up as an extended family community in the Kingstown area (3 miles north of Carlisle). There are still weaver’s Cottages in California Road where some of the family lived. Nearly all of them were handloom weavers of cotton until the 1860/1870’s when there was a downturn in the industry due to the American Civil War.Most of the children were baptised in Houghton Church but some in Rockcliffe and Blackmoor.

From his point they started having different occupations and ‘emigrating’, mostly going across the Pennines to Gateshead and Newcastle using the new railway. This trend seems to have been started by the Grahams who were neighbours of the Lytollis’s and intermarried with them. Two of George Graham’s brothers went to live in Felling and Jane, his daughter followed with Robert Lytollis her husband. I think others probably followed too.At some time after 1910 some of the family moved to Haltwhistle. Now there are three main centres of Lytollis - Carlisle, Haltwhistle and the Newcastle area.

There are about 60 other families with the name dotted all over England and also one or two in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA.

Information about the area that the Lytollis Family lived:


  1. Could John Lightollers be from this family? I have a document of his from 5/6/1857.

  2. hi can you help me im trying to find out about joseph ward born 1872 i know he married elizabeth mccann in carlisle but he is not on any cencus records i have looked at . my mum told me that somewhere in the family tree there was a lytollis and he changed hes name to ward but she was also told that he might have been french or italian but after reading your page it has be woundering if this is the same family please if you can help me on this matter

  3. Hi Liz - have a look at entry 21 on the Descendants of Robert Lytollis post if you haven't already - it sounds like the same family. It would great to hear from you directly. You can contact me via my profile under the Contributors list on the right hand side of the page.

  4. Hi There,
    John Lightollers is a direct relation to me on my mothers side.(Mothers maiden name Lytollis).Can you please help me in finding out more information about him. In particular I have been trying to trace his military records.
    Paul Thompson


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