1. Background

2. The early Gorwyns

3. Family properties in the 1500s and 1600s and the Lambert


4. Social status of the early Gorwyns

5. Split into Lambert and Bradleigh branches

6. The Lambert Gorwyns of Lambert and Wallon

7. The Lambert Gorwyns of Spreyton and Haven House

8. George Lambert MP

9. Lambert Gorwyns of  Bradleigh, Hittisleigh and Coxland

10. A snapshot in 1821 and 1901

11. Conclusion

12. Family trees

13. Lambert Gorwyn properties

14. Wills and Settlements

15. Court cases





                                                                           By Sophia Lambert





This is the story of the Lambert-Gorwyn family, who drew their name from two farms in Cheriton Bishop, a small Devon village in the foothills to the north-east of Dartmoor.  They were yeoman farmers and reasonably successful ones. At various stages of their history they accumulated a number of farms and enough income to make the transition briefly into the gentry. But they never quite managed to hold that position and develop into substantial landowners. The only member of the family so far with any real claim to fame is George Lambert MP (1866-1958), a politician who was ennobled in as Viscount Lambert. The family are chiefly unusual in their immobility: they can be traced back to the 1200s in Cheriton Bishop and remained there for some 700 years - the last member of the family to farm there died in the 1950s. From the mid-19th century onwards the family began leaving Devon and there are few members now left there. But there are many members of the family (calling themselves variously Lambert-Gorwyn, Lambert and Gorwyn) living in other parts of the UK, the United States, Australia and South Africa. 


   I began this essay on the Lambert Gorwyns when I retired and had some time on my hands, partly because I had become the custodian of a number of old family papers containing material that seemed worth writing up, and partly because my father had told me stories about his ancestors that I wanted to preserve for the next generation.


   The general belief in my family was that all Lambert-Gorwyns were descended from a certain John Lambert alias Gorwyn born in 1719, son of Richard Gorwyn, who had added Lambert to his name because he owned a property in Cheriton Bishop in Devon called Lambert. However, as soon as I started delving around in parish records, it became clear that the addition of the name Lambert went back much earlier. I also discovered that there was a whole other branch of Lambert-Gorwyns, descended from another John Lambert Gorwyn, also born in Cheriton Bishop in the early 18th century. Through my researches and thanks to the internet, I made contact with many cousins that I never knew I had. They were able to supply me with much information about their side of the family. This inevitably interested me in the doings of these more remote cousins (whose ultimate relationship to my own ancestor John Lambert alias Gorwyn of Cheriton Bishop I have still not been able to establish with absolute certainty). Therefore, although this essay concentrates mainly on the descendants of John Lambert alias Gorwyn of Cheriton Bishop, including my grandfather George, 1st Viscount Lambert, it also has sections on the other branches of the family.


   The family proved much easier to trace back than I had feared. First and most important, Gorwyn is an unusual name, so any reference in an old documents to a Gorwyn is likely to refer to one of our forebears. Indeed, it seems that we are a “one-name” family – ie anybody called Gorwyn or Lambert-Gorwyn today is related (although I did make contact with a Gorwin in the United States whose ancestors turned out to come from Ukraine; his father had anglicised his unpronounceable Ukrainian name to Gorwin when he arrived in America). Secondly, it seems that we were always landowners, and litigious ones at that. So there are references to our forebears in a number of old property deeds and manorial records; and also in a number of old legal records. The first definite reference to a Gorwyn (living at Gorwyn in Cheriton Bishop) is in 1288, but he had significant landholdings at that time, so probably the family had already been at Cheriton Bishop for some time by then. Fortunately Cheriton Bishop, where members of the family mainly lived until the twentieth century, is blessed with relatively good records, apart from the early parish registers of births, marriages and deaths which are in an appalling state.


  It is hard, when writing a family history, to avoid slipping into the mode of those passages in the Bible consisting of long lists of who begat whom.  I have done my best by concentrating in the main narrative on general trends and stories, and putting most of the detail about individuals into the family trees at the end. I have also restricted myself mostly to the period up to 1901 (the most recent census year for which data had then been published). From then on, the family became increasingly dispersed and hard to track; and in any case most members of it already know their ancestors back to that date. But members of the family have given me much interesting detail about family members in the post-1901 period which I have on file if anybody wants to know more.


   I am grateful for all the help that members of the family have given me. I fear that the work that follows probably still contains a number of errors, particularly in the family trees. I take full responsibility for these errors and would be grateful for any corrections that people can send in.


Sophia Lambert


January 2007 (revised 2013)






1. Background

2. The early Gorwyns

3. Family properties in the 1500s and 1600s and the Lambert connection

4. The social status of the early family members

5. The split into the Lambert and Bradleigh branches around 1700

6. The Lambert Gorwyns of Lambert and Wallon c.1700-1890

7. The George Lamberts of Spreyton and Haven House 1804-1900

8. George Lambert MP (1866-1958) and family

9. The Lambert Gorwyns of Bradleigh, Hittisleigh and Coxland c.1700-1900

10. A snapshot of the Lambert Gorwyns in 1821 and 1901

11. Conclusion

12. Family trees

13. Properties associated with the Lambert Gorwyns

14. Lambert Gorwyn wills and settlements

15. Lambert Gorwyn court cases

16. Map (not yet available)