The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards. Originally published by Nichols and Son, London, 1823.
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PARISH OF BILLINGHAM.
The Parish of Billingham is bounded by Greatham on the North, by the Marshes at the Teesmouth on the East, by the Tees and by the Parish of Norton on the South, by Norton on the South-west, and by Grindon and a portion of the Parish of Elwick on the West and North-west.
A considerable village on the great road from Sunderland to Stockton, stands on rising ground, commanding an extensive prospect to the South. The Church, with its tall tower, stands at the West end of the village, overlooking a deep hollow of rich pasturage, which separates this village from Norton at the distance of a short mile.
Billingham, which doubtless derives its name from its first Saxon settler (fn. 1), was given to the church of Durham by Bishop Ecgfrid, 828—846 (fn. 2). Ælla (King of some portion of Northumberland) spoiled the church of Cliff, Wyclyff, Billingham, and Craike (fn. 3). Under Bishop Cutheard, 900—915, the pagan King Reingwald made a descent on the Eastern coast, and portioning out his conquests amongst his followers, gave the country betwixt Jodene (Eden) and Billingham to Scula, who, as he was the less hardened heathen of the two, seemed to have escaped better than his companion Onlafbal (fn. 4). King William restored Billingham to the Church of Durham (fn. 5); and Bishop Philip, of Poictou, gave to the Convent the Church of Billingham, with all its rights (fn. 6).
Under these grants the ancient vill of Billingham, with its members, became, with little exception, the estate of the Church, and the numerous subsequent evidences in the Treasury relate almost exclusively to the transactions of the ecclesiastics with their tenants. One curious circumstance occurs, the origin of the family of Billingham, afterwards of Crook Hall, and gentlemen of coat-armour, who descend from John the Cowhird, of Billingham, husband to the sister of Bishop Richard Kellaw, and who probably laid, by that connexion, the foundation of the future gentle fortunes of his family.
William, son of John de Billyngham, or William Cowhird, which is the same thing, complains to John Fossor, Prior of Durham, against William Charletan, the tenier of the House of Durham, who hath unjustly hindered him of his common of pasture (or enter common), after corn and hay are won and carried in Saltcroke, Wylycroke, and Litilmeres. The Prior came with his counsel to his manor-house of Beaulieu (fn. 7), before All Saints 1343, and on the following day, Wednesday. Thursday, in the forenoon, the Prior summoned all the elders of the parish of Billingham, clerk and lay, viz. William, nephew of Gilbert de Wulviston, an octogenary, who was his mother's boy, and lived with his uncle at the manor-house of Belasis; John, of Edmundbires, who had lived a servant thirty years; John, son of Geoffry of Newton, upwards of eighty years of age and blind, who was thirty years waggoner at the manor of Bellasis, and lived there when the manor was in lease to the Vicar of Alverton (and nine others); all of whom deposed on oath before the Prior, Adam de Bowes, his Seneschal, William de Charleton, William de Hautewesill, and Richard Bikerton, Monks of Durham; and before Henry Langton, Lord of Wynyard; William de Kilkenny, Lord of Stotfold; Lucas of Norton; the Lord of Fulthorp, and William Fitz-John, the Cowhird. The Prior pronounced sentence, that William the plaintiff never had right of pasture in Saltcrok Wylycrok, nor in Belasys field Eastwards of the ferygate, but only in Lytilmeres; but that William and John his father had enjoyed the same pasturage of mere and special grace and favour, inasmuch as John the Couhird had married the sister of Richard Kellaw, Bishop of Durham, and William his son, now the plaintiff, had taken to wife the sister of Alan of Merton, Terrier of the House of Durham (fn. 8).
In 1410 another controversy was decided betwixt the Prior of Durham and William de Billyngham, son of Alan, and grandson of William Fitz-John le Couhird. The arbitrators, William Lambarde, John Kirkeby, William Lambton, and John Mordon, Esquires, pronounced their decree in the Chapel of the Lord Prior at Durham, 20 Feb. 1410 (fn. 9).
Feb. 14, 1617, Sir Henry Anderson, Knt. states that he is seised in fee simple of lands in Billingham, late Bainbrigg's lands, reputed to be the ninth part of the township, and that the rest of the township belongs to the Dean and Chapter. He prays for a writ of partition, and that the Dean and Chapter will issue a warrant to their attorney under their worships' common seal. Jan. 5, 1618, “This Petic'on thought fit to be granted.” Marmaduke Blakiston, Vice Dec. (fn. 10) Sir Henry claimed a ninth, but only proved a right to three oxgangs; and had on partition four acres by augmentation, and three acres for two calf-closes, which have been since held in severalty. Grey's MSS.
A division of several common fields in Billingham was executed in 16 . . by William Wilson, of Durham, Gent. James Kitchin, and Marmaduke Chapman (fn. 11), of Norton, and Robert Leighton, Commissioners appointed by the owners or occupiers. The lands divided were, the West Meadows, the Paddock, the Rushy Carr, Carrside, Plotter Carr, Frognell, Willy Carr, Crooke, South Carr, Mill Meadows, Miller's Meadows, Little Marsh Dailes, Little Marsh, the Paddock at the Bridge, and the Dailes in Wolviston Meadows.
Consists of a chancel, a nave with regular ailes, a South porch, and a tall West tower. The North aile is formed by four pillars, supporting blunt pointed arches. The pillars of the South aile are cylinders with round pilasters at the angles; the arches are bluntly pointed, with a moulding of zigzag. The original lights seem to have been lancet. The chancel has two of these to the North, and four to the South: the East window is modern. The tower has old double round-headed lights on each face. The nave and tower are embattled, and the whole structure has buttresses.
Hic jacet D'n's Robert. Brerely . . . . prebendarius in Eccl'ia p'ochiali de Norton ac Uicari: Eccl'ie p'ochialis de Billingham Dunelm. dioc. qui obiit . . . . die . . . . A'o. D'ni MCCCCLXXX cuj. a'i'e p'pitietur Deus. Amen.
Hic jacet P'civallus Lambton d' Bellases armiger, & Elizab'th uxor ejus una filiarum Marmaduci Clervaux d' Croft, qui q'd'm P'civallus obiit sexto die Novembris A'o D'ni Mo Do p'mo' et dicta Elizab'th obiit xiiio die Augusti A'o D'ni Mo Do XXIIIo. quor. a'i'abus. p'picie. deus.
This monument was erected by John Ovington, in memory of Alice Gardner, who departed this life the 28th of Dec. 1797, aged 85 years. He bequeathed by will the sum of twenty pounds to be lodged in the funds, the interest of which to be given yearly for ever to the poor widows of Billingham, being householders who have no relief from the parish.
Succession of Vicars.
- Ralph Haget, 1180.
- Galfridus, 1220.
- Richard de Jarrowe, 1240.
- John Tyn, 1276.
- Richard, 1280.
- Adam de Slykeburn, 1296.
- Robert, 1319.
- Walter de Offington, 1329.
- Richard, 1337.
- John Frannceys, 1349.
- Nicholas de Catton, 1365.
- John de Lynehouse, 1381.
- John de Coken, 1391.
- John Kellum, 1396.
- John Byry, 1403.
- Thomas Stare, 1424.
- John Neceham, 1438.
- Syr Richard . . . . ., 1456.
- Robert Brerely, 1480.
- Thomas Dobson, 1494.
- Thomas Bentley, 1526.
- Reginald Hyndmer, 1538.
- Robert Dalton, S. T. P. (fn. 12) 1544.
- George Cliff, S. T. B. (fn. 13) 1560.
- John Mackbray, 1565, p. depr. Cliff.
- George Cliff, S. T. B. p. res. Mackbray.
- Thomas Hokes, 1596.
- William Smith, 1599.
- Christopher Borke, 1603.
- Richard Clerkson, 1662.
- Samuel Bolton, A. M. 1665.
- John Milner, A. M. 1681, p. m. Bolton.
- John Alcock, A. M. p. res. Milner.
- Samuel Simpson, A. B. 1703, p. m. Alcock.
- John Waring, A. M. 1715, p. m. Simpson.
- Richard Dongworth, A. M. (fn. 14) 1733, p. m. Waring.
- Thomas Hayes, A. M. (fn. 15) New Coll. Oxon. 1761, p. m. Dongworth.
- Jonathan Branfoot, A. M. p. resig. Hayes.
- Robert Fenwick, 178 . ., p. m. Branfoot.
- William Baverstock, A. B. p. res. Fenwick.
- John Clark, p. m. Baverstock.
It has been stated that Bishop Philip gave the Church of Billingham to the Monastery of Durham, on condition that “there shall be a perpetual Vicar, on the presentation of the Prior and Convent.” The ordination of the Vicarage bears date under Prior William, of Cowton. The endowment includes “the Manse which Walter de Offingham and his predecessors had occupied, and the oblations, mortuaries, and small tithes whatsoever of the whole parish, as well from bond as free, excepting the tithe of hay, and the tithe of the livestock belonging to the Prior and Convent.”
Billingham Terrier, June 18, 1629.—“A mansion-house, the church-yard, a garden, stackgarth, and three rood or thereabouts of arable land, in every of the three cornfields of Billingham, with two little lands in Volveston-field; two little dales in the medowes, the one in a place called Frogonel, contg half an acre; the other in the Milne Medow, contg another half acre, or a little more; with a horse or cow gayte, whether the Vicar shall make choice of, at May-day, when they stint. Also a sheep-gait one year, and two the second year, and three the third year, as the fallows goe in the townfields of Billingham. Further, there is belonging to the said Vicarage a piece of ground, called the tenth part of Pecker's, lying in the North-field. There are also belonging to the said Vicarage, the lesser tyths of Billingham, as lamb, wool, hay, calf, pig, goose, and hen; together with a little portion due for the milkens. The like in all respects in Volveston, Cowpon, and Newton, saving that in Cowpon and Newton he hath only a little portion of money for his tyth hens. Also he hath tyth of hempe and lyne when they have anie, and in Cowpon a little portion of tyth-salte when they make anie. There is also belg to the said Vicarage the tyth of calf, lamb, wool, pig, goose, and hens at Saltholme (saving only of those goods wh are Mr. Deane's own proper goods), for wh the Vicar has only four pasture-gaytes in the best pasture, and the like is due from Bewley Grainge (saving of the Prebend's own proper goods). He receiveth also yearly from Bellasys, in lieu of the tyth thereof, 26s. 8d.; but if any of his farmers by removal of goods do make inchace and outchace, thereby to defraud, then absolutely the whole year they can have no privilege at all. There are belg to the Vicarage all surplice fees, &c. There is also a farm, with the appurtenances, holden by lease of the Dean and Chapter, wh having been very antiently possessed by the Vicar, wee hope will hereafter be continued, which we much desire.”
George Conyers, bapt. 24 June 1599. Elizabeth, daughter of Raphe Conyers, bap. 5 July 1601. Thomas, son, &c. 2 Jan. 1602. Robert, &c. 10 July 1608. Raphe Conyers, Clerke of Billingham, bur. 1 Aug. 1626.
In a blank page of the first Register is a list of “Bookes belonging to the Church.“—”Imp'mis, a great Bible Paraphrasis; iij Com'union Bookes; Jewell and Hardinge; Book of Injunctions; a Book of Homiles; Nicholas Heminge Book; a Book of wilfull Rebellion.” Then follow, “Clothes belonginge to ye Church:—Imp'is, a surplice-cloth for the Curat; item, j for ye Clerk; a lininge tableclothe; a carpit-clothe for ye table; a part of a old vestment for ye pulpit; a old coverlitt for weddinges; a harden bagg for ye surplice-clothe; a new pulpit-cloth and quisson; a new booke of canons and constitutions; a booke of articles, &c. 2 painted trenchers, given by ye Vicar for ye Com'union breed; 3 pewter potts.”
“A perfecte Inventory of the particular things that are present and to be seen, which belongeth to the Parish Church,” &c. proves that these bookes had been carefully stored up, with the addition of Comber on the Common Prayer, and a Book of King Charles the First.—The Portraiture, I presume, of his Sacred Majesty in his solitudes and sufferings.
The Church Plate consists of a paten, given in 1712 by Mrs. Margery Davison, (relict of John Eden, Gent. and wife of Thomas Davison (fn. 18)), and two large silver flaggons; one is inscribed, “Donum Ricardi Dongworth, Vicarii de Billingham, 1761;” the other was “Given to ye Parish of Billingham A. D. 1758, by Tho. Chapman, D. D. Prebendary of Durham.”
1688. “To the ringers for powder and drinke when the worthy Bishops were set at liberty, 5s. To the ringers upon K. James's birth-day.” And just after: “To the ringers upon the day of thanksgiving for the Prince of Orange, 5s. Upon the Coronation day, 1s. 6d.“ (fn. 19)
The ancient seat of the Lambtons and Edens, now a farmhold, with stone walls of great thickness, and the remains of a regular moat, the usual defence of manor-houses of the second class in a level country.
This was the seat of the family who bore the local name, from a period little later than the Conquest. According to constant tradition, John of Bellasis, being minded to undertake the Crusade, found himself sorely let and hindered by his attachment to the estate of his ancestors. To overcome this stumbling-block, he exchanged the green pastures and deep meadows of Bellasis with the Church of Durham, for Henknoll, near Auckland. He lived, it seems, to return and to repent of his bargain. I can well remember the arms of Bellasis in painted glass, in a window of St. Andrew's or South Church, Auckland, with the singular inscription,
Hec Indentura facta inter Priorem et Conventum Ecclesiæ S. Cuthberti Dunelm. ex una parte, et Johannem de Bellassis ex parte altera, testatur, quod predictus Johannes dedit, concessit, et hac presenti carta indentata confirmavit, predictis Priori et Conventui, et eorum successoribus, omnes terras et tenementa sua, redditus, et servicia, cum suis pertinentiis, in Wolveston, in escambium pro manerio de Henknoll, habendum, &c. in liberam puram et perpetuam elemosinam. Pro qua donac'one et concessione predicti Prior et Conventus dederunt, concesserunt, et hæc presenti carta sua confirmaverunt predicto Johanni, heredibus, et assignatis suis, in perpetuum, predictum manerium de Henknoll, cum suis pertinenciis, in escambium, cum clausula utrinque reintroitus. T. Radõ de Eure, Johanne Coigniers, militibus, Willielmo de Hett, Willielmo de Elmeden, Hugone de Burnynghyll, Johanne de Whitworth, Thoma Chaunceler, Willielmo de Blaykeston, Simone de Langton, Alano de Billingham, et aliis. Dat. apud Dunelm. die Lune prox. post F. S. Andree Apostoli, A. D. 1380.
Seal: three fleurs de lis (fn. 22). Sigill. Johannis de Belases.
But this charter, notwithstanding what is said, in the Peerages (fn. 23), of Belasyse being within the manor of Wolviston (to account for the total silence of the deed as to Bellasis itself), it is impossible that the first right of the Convent in Bellasis should have accrued under this charter. The award of the Prior (already quoted) betwixt William de Billingham and the Tenier, supposes that the manor of Bellasis already belonged to the Church; and in 1361, twenty years before the deed of exchange, an Indenture occurs of common of pasture, betwixt the Prior and Alan de Billingham.—“The Prior shall hold his manor of Bellasis in severalty at all times of the year, from the road called Ferygate Eastwards, as the boundaries run betwixt the fields of Billingham and Bellassise (excepting only Alan's own lands within the same manor), and excepting a pasture called the Wether-merse, abutting on Bondflatt East, and stretching to Haverland leche Westward, where Alan and his men shall have enter common with the Prior; and Alan and his men shall have common of pasture in the other fields of Billingham, excepting in Saltcrook, Wylycrok, Frognale, and Belasyse Medowe. 10 Jan. 1361.” At this date then Belaysye belonged to the Prior; and if it were obtained by exchange from its ancient owners, it must have been at an earlier date, a much more probable time also for a crusade with Prince Edward it may be, before 1272, than the date of the Wolviston charter, 1380, which seems to have been rather the last conveyance of the sweepings of the family estate in this Southern angle of the county.
The manor of Belassis, more usually Belsis, was leased for several descents to a younger branch of the Lambtons of Stainton; to Percival Lambton, Serjeant-at-law, who lies buried at Billingham in 1501; to William his son, 36 Hen. VIII.; and to Marmaduke his grandson, the Blynde Lambton of Glover's Visitation, 1575, who died childless, leaving three sisters his coheirs (fn. 24). Elizabeth, wife to John Eden, of Durham; Alice to Robert Claxton, of Old Park; and Frances to Skelton, of Armeswell. The whole lease of Belsis centred by purchase and descent in Eden (fn. 25). Sir John Eden, Bart. sold the lease of Belsis several years ago.
The Church of Durham probably held lands here under their ancient grants of the manor and the mother church of Billingham; and other portions, extending in time to nearly the whole vill, were acquired by purchase or exchange from various proprietors. The grant from Bellassis has been already noticed. Bishop Galfrid gave half a carucate of land to provide a light for the Chapter House.
G. dei grã Dunelm. Eĩpc. omĩb' Baronib' et hominib' suis de Haliwerefolc, ffrancis et Anglis, Sal. Sciatis me dedisse et concessisse Deo et S. Cuthberto, et Monachis ej' in Dunelmo servien-tibus, illã dimidiã carucatã terre in elemosinã q'm Clibũ fil's Ælstani de me tenuit in Wulvestune, ad lumen emendũ in Capitulũ p' salute anime mee, et salute om'iũ tã antecessor' meor q'm successor. Et volo, et concedo, et firmit' p'cipio ut monachi S. Cuthb'bti eande' trã cũ omĩb' q' ad eã p'tinent in t'ris et aq's, et pratis, et pascuis, et exitib', et consuetudinib', et om'ib' om'ino reb' ad eã p'tinentib', bene, et in pace, et que'te, et libe', et honorifice in p'petuum teneant et possideant. Qui aute' hanc meã donatione' cassare tentaverit, nomen ej' de libro vite deleatur. Huj' mee donac'onis sunt testes, Rob. Archid. Ranu' Archid. Osb'n Nepos Epĩ, Rog' de Coisner, Will' fil. Ranũ, Dolfin fil. Uhtred, Rob. fil. Herebti, Arnalds frat' ej's, Will' Camerar, Will' fil. Roger de Latun, Rob. de Lumleye, Mald'r fil. Dolfine, Thom. fil. Osb'ni, Burnulf fil. Arkilli, Will' fil. ej's, Gamel fil's Alfen, et multi alii ffranci et Angli. (fn. 26)
I will only add, from a number of trifling evidences, the charter of Richard the Snarer (Ingeniator (fn. 27)) and Thomas his heir, who exchanged their lands in Wolveston for various parcels in Pittington.
Carta Ricardi Ingeniatoris de terra sua de Wolveston. Universis, &c. Ricardus Ingeniator, et Thomas heres suus, Salutem. Sciatis nos concilio amicorum et voluntate spontanea reddidisse in manu Germani Prioris, et quietam clamasse, &c. Priori et Conventui Dunelm. Ecclesiæ in perpetuum, totam terram quam habebam in villa eorum de Wlveston; et recepimus pro ea in escambium ã predicto Priore unam carucatam terre in Pitindun, scil' lx et ix acras de terra que fuerat Columbani, et triginta et unam de dominio eorum, et duas acras prati, atq. toftum quod fuerat Columbani, cum alio illi proximo ab oriente, et quindecim marcas argenti et dimidiam. Predictam itaq. terram de Wlveston, &c. Hiis T. Rađdo Hagat, Vic. Thoma fil. Wilti et Alexandro fratre ejus, Walt'ro de Ketton dapifero, Godefrido et Laurentio sacristis, Stephano albo clerico, Alano clerico de cellario, Thurstano Fastolf, Rogero de Wlveston, Johanne de la mare, Walt'ro de Whilpĩgton, Ricardo de Puthingdon, Odonc filio Wilti de Lind. Whatlĩgo portario, Roberto coco, Rađo pistore, Absalon de Midelham, Wilto citharista, et aliis pluribus tam clericis quam laicis.
Curates.—John Manwell, 1577. John Wilton, 1578. John Wordington, 1585. John Manwell, occurs 1598. James Kinge, occ. 1631. — Redhead —. Richard Lightfoot. John Aspinwall, 1762. — Jackson, A. B. Magd. Coll. Oxon. p. m. Aspinwall. — Garthorne, p. m. Jackson.
Wolveston received 200l. Augmentation by lot; 200l. Queen Anne's Bounty; 100l. from Lord Crewe's Trustees; 50l. from the Dean and Chapter; the Bishop of Durham, 30l.; 20l. Parochial Collection: in all 600l. which was vested in the purchase of lands at Chester-le-street. The latter Curates have had a separate presentation, independent of the Mother Church.
This place was named Newton in reference probably to Wolviston, and had possibly its addition of Beaulieu (fn. 28), not from any imputed beauty of situation (in which it could have no preference over the Prior's villages of Billingham and Wolviston), but because here was the Prior's Court-house or residence, within his manor of Billingham. Of the site of this Bellus locus, there are no vestiges.
In Cowpen-marsh, a pasture of from four to five hundred acres, are several large earthen mounds, now covered with herbage, the remains of the old salt-works which were carried on in this angle of the county, all along the Tees-marsh: the Abbot of Guisbrough had his salt-works on the opposite coast.
The Parish of Billingham, belonging almost entirely to the Church of Durham, would be peculiarly obnoxious to the Parliamentary Commissioners. Accordingly the Book of Sequestrations presents the following ample entries:
A warrant to the Constable of Billingham Parish and Wolveston Chapelry, to give notice to the inhabitants who pay any tythes, to appear before us at Rowland Burden's house in Stockton, upon Wednesday the 26th of August, 1644.
3 Sept. 1644. A warrant to Rd Atkinson, Thomas Chapman, Thos Shepheard, and Robert Christopher, to sequester the estate, reall and personall, of Capt. Gascoine Eden, within the parish of Billingham. Wm. Gelson farmeth Billingham-mill, of Capt. Gascoine Eden. Woolverston-mill and Winyard-mill, both farmed of Mr. Dawson by Wm. Gelson, pd for both 42l. letten to him for 28l. for this year. 6 Sept. Summons to the tenants of Mr. Robert Eden, at Belsey (Belsis) 6 Sept. 1644.
Warrant to John Williamson Greene, of Wolviston, to collect and levy the rents due to the D. and C. and pay the same over to us at John Hall's, in Durham, on first Octo. next. 16 Sept. 1644, apud Kelloe.
Saltholme is letten to Thomas Weford, Gent. for one year, beginning at Michs instant, for 150l. 24 Sept. 1644. Upon request of M'ris Ann James, daughter of Mr. Wm. James, one of the Prebends of the Church of Durham, allowed to her one 5th part of the rent of Bewley Grainge for present reliefe and maintenance of herself and sister. 24 Sept. 1644.
Charitable Benefactions to the Parish of Billingham.
By will, dated 26 Dec. 1662, Robert Eden, of Windlestone, Esq. left 10l. to the poor of the Parish of Billingham. June 12, 1673, Ralph Lawrence, of Cowpon Bewley, left 10l. May 2, 1680, John Eden, of Billingham, Gent. left 10l. (fn. 29) 14 Oct. 1670, Mary Davison, of Billingham, left 40s. Dec. 22, 1682, Eleanor Steer, of Wolviston, left 20l. 10 Feb. 1686, Mr. Francis Buck “did give unto the poor in Billingham, 10s. every year during the natural life of his sister Mistress Margery Eden, relict of Mr. John Eden.”
A memorandum states, that “all the particular stock wh did belong to the poor in Billingham Parish in moneys, is really given, with an addition to it, for purchasing a cottage, kilne-house, and close, all belonging to ye said cottage, for ye use of ye poor instead of ye use of the money wh formerly ye poor had ye benefitt of.” This is now called the poor's cottage.
In 1797 Mrs. Alice Gardner gave by will 20l. to such poor widows, being householders, as have no parochial relief. This donation was lost by the failure of a bank where the money had been suffered to remain.