(This page is from the book Our Belden Families. Privately printed by me in 1994)

Baildon town is located in West Yorkshire England about 6 miles north of the city of Bradford. It originated as a village located on the south-eastern shoulder of a flat-topped hill overlooking the River Aire. The Baildon Hill covers about six square miles and has an elevation of 927 feet above sea level at the summit. The village and the Baildon (Belden) family take their name from this hill. Other locations also use the name, Baildon Moor and Baildon Hall.

Baildon probably means 'the hill of pits or mines'. In 1852 there were still numerous old coal pits on the flanks of Baildon Hill. The mining of them possibly started during the occupation of the Roman Legions about 200 AD. The first evidence of mankind in the Baildon area is in a period previous to 2500 BC. They were a tribe of hunters and artifacts of their period have been found on Baildon Moor.

Baildon was in the path of numerous invasions extending from prehistoric times up through the Norman Conquest of 1066. These invaders came to stay and mixed blood with whatever population was there at the time. During the 500+ year period from 1066 to the emigration of Richard Baildon to America in 1635, the Baildon family became part of the mix commonly called the English people.

The generations of Yorkshire Baildons lived through a period of history extending from the Crusades through the Renaissance. Knighthood was no longer exactly in flower in Yorkshire, neither was feudalism completely dead. The Monarchy and Church were in full power. Civil affairs were administered by the Monarchy through various classes of notables who controlled large areas of land and collected rents or services from people of lower rank. Freeholders held land by inheritance but were tenants of the notables. The system of caste held full sway in all parts of life.

The Baildons of Baildon were freeholders. Court records identify them as 'gent.' a member of gentry, or occasionally as 'esquire'. The biographical records in existence are those of the courts and therefore describe only one part of their lives. Either as a complainant or defendant in a court action.1

"In most family histories considerable difficulty is experienced in tracing back to an ancestor who can be called the first of the name, and in many cases it is absolutely impossible. The first person to call himself "of Baildon" can fortunately be fixed with considerable certainty. This was one Hugh, who flourished in the reigns of Richard I and John, and was probably born about 1155 to 1160. He seems to have been a man of some substance; having property in Castely, Stainburn, and Bolton-in-Bolland, in addition to what he had at Baildon, and was at one time joint sheriff of the West Riding, an office that disappeared at an early date. He was not lord of the manor of Baildon, but apparently the principal freeholder residing there." Indications point to his being a descendant of the family of Essulf-son or FitzEssulf. 2

The genealogical sequence, and dates from some of the court records for Baildon ancestry follow:

Osmund 1066,
Ulf 1086,
Essulf 1086,
Richard FitzEssulf 1199,
Hugh de Baildon 1220,
Simon de Baildon 1231,
William de Baildon 1265,
William de Baildon 1297,
Henry de Baildon 1313,
Adam de Baildon 1331,
John de Baildon 1360,
William de Baildon 1380,
Nicholas de Baildon 1414,
Nicholas Baildon 1434,
Robert Baildon 1450,
Walter Baildon 1476,
John Baildon 1500,
Robert Baildon 1526,
George Baildon 1567,
Francis Bayldon 1588,
Richard Bayldon 1635 (the immigrant).

1Source (54), page 1-11.
2Source (55). 255