The Main Trees date from around 1550 with William, Henry, James and Robert SHRAPNELL and are in several parts, that from Henry whose descendants mostly used the one 'l', whilst those from his brother James maintained the double 'l'. The majority of the early records from whichever descent use the double ‘l’ - this is proved by original signatures on wills and other documents.
1. The Norton St Philip tree is based on descent from WILLIAM and recent research links this with Wellow and villages in the Frome area (probably links to 8 below).
2. The Scrope Tree from Henry (ten children from 1620 onwards). This tree is charted right through to the present day including the General (1761-1842) with many of today's descendants living in parts of the U.K. and Australia, the latter being known as the TARDENT Line. There are also other links with Canada and U.S.A. that produced the makings of a strong line of ancestry, but these now largely survive following the female line. This is the principal Bradford-on-Avon line.
3. The mostly double 'l' Susan tree mainly descends from James SHRAPNELL, probable brother of the above, with at least 7 children (1631 onwards). This tree goes in two parts, the first of which is charted right through to 1908 when it died out in Bristol with the death of Richard Heiron Shrapnell (the female line still continues). A spur of this tree through ELIJAH SHRAPNELL continues with a strong line in U.S.A. This tree has its roots in Trowbridge.
4. The James Tree has a number of survivors in the U.K. and New Zealand. James was in the Army, his grandson in the Navy. There was over a hundred years of continuous service for King/Queen and country (including Waterloo) in this tree. This tree is based on JAMES of Trowbridge who married at Walcot, Bath in 1824.
5. The Philip Tree or the Lasbury line originally strong in the U.K. is now mostly in Australia and increasing significantly. It has a very complex and colourful history and includes the Shrapnell-Smith connection, Edward of the same name being a pioneer of transport in the early part of the 20th Century. PHILIP Shrapnell, a clothier in Bradford-on-Avon is the central character of this tree. His father and grandfather (both named JOHN) were victuallers in Trowbridge in the early 1700s.
6. The Joseph Tree is undoubtedly the largest tree today with a growing number of family groups scattered throughout the U.K. This branch is the Trowbridge spur of the Bradford-on-Avon Scrope tree and the one to which I belong.
7. The Lambeth Tree has many of its members in the London area but includes one branch in Coventry. Its origins are also in Trowbridge with the 1700s JOHN Shrapnell whose grandson CHARLES Shrapnell, a master tailor who went from Bath to find his fortune in London.
8. The Idmiston Tree which covered a period of some 200 years from the mid 1500s is headed by ROBERT Shrapnell of Idmiston and Wellowe. The credibility of this tree is being established whilst the speculative connection to the village of Shrapel near Salisbury, Wiltshire is mentioned elsewhere.
It is clear that all of today’s bearers of the name are related to the above trees in some way or other. The evidence that each of the trees has links with each other is fairly convincing and is the basis on which I work. However, with the paucity of records in late medieval times it is unlikely that we shall ever know for sure.
THE BASIC TREES