It is not known how and when there came to be Pickerings in Cheshire. The Chronicles of Thelwall, Co. Chester go so far as to state that they were of a “very ancient descent in the county of Chester, and appear to have been, from time immemorial, landed proprietors in the palatinate”. The lack of documentary evidence before the mid 14th century means that the reason for the Pickerings’ presence can only be based on circumstantial evidence. A possible explanation is explored here, deriving from their association with a more prominent family.
Hugh d’Avranches and his kinsman Nigel of Cotentin were Normans who had come to England with William the Conqueror. As William I, the new king created the three earldoms of Shrewsbury, Hereford and Chester to protect his border with Wales. He made Hugh Earl of Chester, at the same time granting him vast estates in most parts of England, and Hugh in turn made Nigel his constable at Chester and Baron of Halton. One of Hugh’s holdings in Yorkshire was an estate at Flamborough, which was acquired by Nigel’s son William, who passed it to his son, another William, both becoming constables of Chester and Barons of Halton. The second William died in 1150 without a legitimate heir, so his main inheritance was shared between his sisters: Eustace FitzJohn, the husband of the elder sister Agnes, gained the constableship of Chester and the barony of Halton by right of his wife, the younger sister Maud received the manor of Daresbury in Cheshire and William’s illegitimate son Robert Constable inherited Flamborough.
In about 1185 Joan de Lacy, daughter of John de Lacy, constable of Chester and 8th Baron of Halton, married Peter de Brus I of Skelton. The two families are often mentioned side by side in documents of the time, making it well within the realms of possibility that a member of a junior line of the de Bruses was granted a tenancy in the barony of Halton. If the tenant came from Pickering, in which area both families had holdings, he would have taken the name of his home town as his surname, in the same way as another junior de Brus did when he left Pickering soon afterwards, becoming the constable of Peter de Brus III at Kendal, Westmorland, and later founding the Pickerings of Killington. The manor of Daresbury granted to the younger sister of the 3rd baron of Halton would have provided a suitable tenancy, but it might not have warranted inclusion in the estate book, as no documentary evidence of it has been found to date. It would account for the mention of a place called Pyckeringes Heyes in a transaction dated 1422-23 in Daresbury. Furthermore, having a plot of land named after them suggests that the Pickerings of Cheshire had already had a presence in the county for many years.
The Hartford coat of arms of the Pickerings of Cheshire are exactly the same as those of the Pickerings of Killington, and the Walford arms are only differentiated from them by a border with eight plates. It can therefore be deduced that the two families are related, the Killington family being known to descend from the de Bruses. Y-DNA testing has proved the latter link, but testing by a living male member of the Cheshire family would confirm beyond doubt the link between all three families.
Family tree under construction
Old Runcorn, Halton, H.F. Starkey (not online)
The Lacy family in England and Normandy, 1066-1194: https://archive.org/details/lacyfamilyinengl0000wigh/page/n5
Early Yorkshire Charters, vol. 3, Lascy: https://archive.org/details/earlyyorkshirech03farruoft/page/199
Victoria History of the County of Lancaster, vol. 1: https://archive.org/details/victoriahistoryo01farruoft/page/328
Victoria History of the County of York, East Riding, Flamborough vol. 2, pp.154 (not online)
Early Yorkshire Charters, vol. 12, Tison, Constable: https://archive.org/details/YASES10/page/142
Victoria County History: Lancashire, vol. 1, p.328: https://archive.org/details/victoriahistoryo01farruoft/page/328
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, NS, vol. 40, p. 160: https://archive.org/details/transactionsofhi440hist/page/160
Chronicles of Thelwall, Co. Chester: https://fmg.ac/phocadownload/userupload/scanned-sources/tpg1/pp379-394_431-468.pdf
Thelwall (including Pickering Arms Inn): https://maps.nls.uk/view/102341002
Daresbury (including Pickerings Rough): https://maps.nls.uk/view/101598502
Magna Britannia: Cambridgeshire and Cheshire, vol. 2, pp.400, 402, 520, 758-60: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=skdBAQAAMAAJ
Chetham Society, Notitia Cestriensis, p.358: https://archive.org/details/notitiacestriens18manc/page/358
Victoria County History: Lancashire, vol. 3: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol3/pp331-334
The National Archives, ref. DCH/E/334: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/6e295d70-7a2d-4326-a34f-ba18519072eb
Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 4th Series, vol. 6, pp.74-97: https://books.google.com/books?id=_V8vAAAAMAAJ
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, NS, vol. 32, p.35: https://archive.org/details/transactionsofhi3218hist/page/35
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, NS, vol. 37, pp.12-13: https://archive.org/details/transactionsofhi437hist/page/12
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, NS, vol. 40, p.62: https://archive.org/details/transactionsofhi440hist/page/62
Chetham Society, Notitia Cestriensis, pp.144, 319: https://archive.org/details/notitiacestriens18manc/page/319
A Concise Description of the Endowed Grammar Schools in England and Wales, vol. 1, p.127: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GwsJRFnvUIAC
Visitation of Cheshire 1613, pp.268-9: https://archive.org/details/recordsociety58recouoft/page/269/mode/2up