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 SOCKBURN.
So much of the Parish of Sockburn as lies within the County of Durham occupies the extreme Southern portion of the Peninsula already described. Its boundaries (commensurate with those of the manor) are the Tees on the South-east and West, the Parish of Dinsdale on the North-east, and Nesham, within the Parish of Hurworth, on the Northwest. But the Parish includes also Girsby and High or Over Dinsdale on the Southern bank of the Tees (fn. 1). Sockburne has been supposed to be the Saxon Soccabyrig, where Higbald was consecrated Bishop of Lindisfarne in 780, before the translation of the See to Durham (fn. 2). More certainly in the time of Canute and of Bishop Aldune (before 1015) Snaculf, the son of Cykel (fn. 3), gave to the Church of Durham (Brysbyrig Mordum) Socceburg and Grisbi, with the right of Sac and Socne (fn. 4). Soon after the Norman Conquest Sockburn became, by Episcopal grant, the seat of the Norman family of Conyers. The legend which accounts for their establishment is as follows (Bowes's MSS. p. 51);
In an ould Manuscript wh I have sene of ye descent of Connyers, there is writ as followeth: Sr John Conyers, Knt. slew yt monstrous and poysonous vermine or wyverne, and aske or werme, wh overthrew and devoured many people in fight, for that ye sent of yt poison was so strong yt no person might abyde it. And by ye providence of Almighty God this John Connyers, Kt, overthrew ye saide monster, and slew it. But before he made this enterprise, having but one sonne, he went to the Church of Sockburne in compleate armour, and offered up yt his onely sonne to ye Holy Ghost. yt place where this great serpent laye was called Graystane (fn. 5); and as it is written in ye same manuscript, this John lieth buried in Sockburne Church in compleat armour before the Conquest. Sed Quœre.
The ancient service by which the manor of Sockburn was held, proves that the legend is of no modern origin, and I will not doubt that some gallant exploit is veiled under this chivalrous tale, with at least an adumbration of truth (fn. 6). “At the first entrance of the Bishop into his Diocese, the Lord of Sockburn, or his Steward, meets him in the middle of the river Tees, at Nesham-ford, or on Croft-bridge, and presents a faulchion to the Bishop with these words: “My Lord Bishop, I here present you with the faulchion where- with the champion Conyers slew the worm, dragon, or fiery flying serpent, which destroyed man, woman, and child; in memory of which, the King then reigning gave him the manor of Sockburn, to hold by this tenure, that upon the first entrance of every Bishop into the country, this faulchion should be presented.' The Bishop takes the faulchion in his hand, and immediately returns it courteously to the person who presents it, wishing the Lord of Sockburn health and a long enjoyment of the manor.” The tenure is distinctly noticed in the Inquest on Sir John Conyers in 1396: “Tenuit manerium de Socburne per servicium demonstrandi Episcopo unam fawchon, ita quod postea Dom. Episcopus illud viderit restituat ostendenti, pro omnibus aliis serviciis.” (fn. 7) The observance is still continued, honoris causa, and the steward of Sir Edward Blacket presented the faulchion to Bishop Egerton on his first entrance in 1771. The Visitation of Durham in 1666 contains a sketch of the faulchion (fn. 8), which was then kept at the manor-house of Sockburne. The arms on one side of the pommel are those of England, as borne by the Plantagenets from John to Edward III. The eagle, on the other side, is said to belong to Morcar, the Saxon Earl of Northumberland.
The MS. already quoted states, that “Roger Conyers was by William the Conqueror made Constable of Durham Castle and Keeper of all the armes of ye souldiers within the Castle, wh was after past to him ye saide Roger by deede to him and his heires mailes for ever, under the great seale of William de Sancto Carilepho, Bishop of Durham.” According to the MS. a second Roger succeeded his father, and to him followed a third, to whom “Henricus II. Rex Angliæ dedit vel confirmavit Constabulatum de Dunelme.” I know of no actual proof to establish this transmission of the Constableship for three descents; but there is sufficient evidence from charters in the Treasury to prove, that the Norman family of Conyers (fn. 9), Lords of Bishopton, (and possibly from the same early date owners of Sockburne,) held the rank of Nobles or Barons of the Bishopric at least from the reign of Henry I. Bishop Ralph Flambard gave Rungetun in Yorkshire to Roger Conyers before 1126. His son, who is distinctly mentioned (fn. 10) as a Baron of the Bishopric, was that Roger Conyers whose important services to Bishop William de St. Barbara are on record in Simeon. The story has been already told: Conyers afforded the Bishop a safe retreat in his strength or Peel-house of Bishopton; and he afterwards had the address to bring the Scotch intruder Comyn a humble kneeling penitent before the Episcopal throne (fn. 11). To bring about this most wished conclusion implies as much courage, and certainly more address, than if the Constable had finished the contest in the usual manner with bloody hand (fn. 12). The Constable's staff and the Wardenship of Durham Castle, which he had recovered from Comyn, seems a most appropriate reward; and if the green acres of Sockburn were added to the gift, he was still not overpaid.
Roger Conyers, the champion of Bishop William, long survived these transactions, and was in his age a liberal benefactor to the Church. With his eldest son Robert he offered up (fn. 13) at the altar of St. Cuthbert the Church of Rungeton; and Bishop Hugh's Foundation Charter of Sherburn-house states, that the same Roger and Robert had granted to the Hospital their Churches of Sockburn and Bishopton (fn. 14).
Robert Conyers (whose father was perhaps still living in 1186) left a son Roger, who seems to have alienated the inheritance to his uncle (fn. 15) of the same name, from whom it passed to Galfrid (fn. 16), a still younger son of the elder Roger. The composition was confirmed by agreement 23 Hen. III, 12 .., between Sir John Conyers of Sockburn, son of Galfrid, and his cousin of the elder line, Robert son of Roger. Such, at least, is my sense of the record quoted below. To ascertain the reasons of this singular arrangement is now impossible; but from John the son of Galfrid, descended in long lineal procession, gallant Knights and Esquires, who held Sockburn till the reign of Charles I. whilst the younger branches (fn. 17) of this ancient stately cedar (fn. 18) shadowed both Durham and Yorkshire. All are now fallen, and not a foot of land is held by Conyers in either county. In 1635 William Conyers, Esq. (son and heir of Sir George) died without issue male, leaving two daughters his coheirs, whose wardship was granted by Bishop Morton to Ferdinando Lord Fairfax 25 Oct. 1635 (fn. 19). Katharine, the elder coheir, died under age, and Anne, the survivor, became the wife of Francis Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, by whom she had a son, Conyers Talbot, who died without issue, and an only daughter Mary, married to John Stonor, of Stonor, Esq. in Oxfordshire.
The estate of Sockburn was still vested in the Talbot family in 1670. “Rt Honble Lady Talbot lands and fishings, 60l. per ann.;” (fn. 20) but before 1685 it was alienated to Sir William Blacket, of Newcastle, whose descendant Sir Edward Blacket, of Matfen, in Northumberland, Bart. is the present sole owner.
An eschaet in 14.. describes the manor and manor-house of Sockburn as containing a hall, a chamber, a kitchen, a granary, and a stable; a dovecote, three orchards, three cottages, with their gardens, 30s. per ann.; a water-mill, 100s.; the milnhalgh, 40s.; an enclosed wood, called Thirstandale, of ten acres, 3s. 4d.; a hundred acres of arable land and a hundred acres of meadow, value together, 4l. 13s. 4d. (fn. 24)
Sokburne, where as the eldest House is of the Coniers, with the domains about it, of a mile cumpace of exceeding plesaunt ground, is almost made an isle, as Tese ryver wyndeth about it.
A litle beneth the maner-place is a grete were for fisch. The house and land of Sokburne hath bene of auncient tyme the very inheritaunce of the Coniers, whos name (as I lerned of himself) is in auncient writinges Congrues, not Coniers (fn. 25).
Leland seems to have gazed, with that deep feeling of natural beauty which often unintentionally betrays itself amidst his severer pursuits, on the green inheritance of the Conyers; the lovely lawn, the circling Tees, and the were for fish. The place, where it is plain Leland was the guest of Master Conyers, was then probably in its highest state of splendour. After the peaceful establishment of the House of Tudor, the gentry whose families and estates had escaped the storm, had sufficient leisure to rebuild the halls of their ancestors in all the florid ornament of the Tudor æra. The armorial decorations which Dagdale saw and copied in his Visitation of 1666, are exactly of this period. “In $AEdibus de Sockburne in Refectorio:” 1. Conyers and Vesey quarterly. Crest: a demi-vol; supporters, two foxes: Thomas Coniers, D'n's De Cokb'r'n, Miles, A. Do MCCCCCXIX. 2. Conyers, of Hornby, quartering Fauconberg and Nevile in a grand quarter. 3. Scroope and Tiptofte quarterly. 4. Nevile, of Raby. 5. France and England quarterly, supported on the dexter side by a greyhound, and on the sinister by the Tudor dragon; beneath, the two roses growing on one stem, the union of York and Lancaster. 6. Dacre and Vaux quarterly. 7. Fitzhugh. 8. Lumley. 9. Nevill, quartering Beauchamp, Newburgh, Berkeley, Gerard Lord Lisle, and Tyes (fn. 26).
All this blazonry then existed in 1666, and the house of Sockburne was still the residence of a gentleman, Mr. William Collingwood (fn. 27), the tenant probably and steward of the Talbots. Of the house of the Conyers not one stone is now left on another (fn. 28). The little church, standing lonely on its level green, has survived the halls of its ancient patrons. Deep traces of foundations of gardens and orchards a little to the South, point out the site of the mansion; and one old decaying Spanish chesnut, spared by the axe, whose bulk and indurated bark have protected it from other injury, seems alone to connect the deserted spot with some recollection of its ancient owners (fn. 29).
Pedigree of Conyers, of Sockburne.
Arms: Azure, a maunch Or. Crest: on a wreath a demi-vol Gules
Is a small neat structure (fn. 30). The chancel, ten paces in length, and five in width, has three lancet-lights to the East, and opens from the nave under a pointed-arch rising from brackets; the nave is nine paces in length. A South aile is formed by a single pillar supporting pointed-arches. The North porch is the ancient burial-place of the house of Conyers, and is full of their monumental memorials.
In the paroche church of Sokbourn is the tumbe of Sir John Conyers, that maried Elisabeth eldest daughter to Henry Bromflete, Lord St. John and Bromflet, as I saw it written, was made Lord Vesey by King Henry the VI. for he had much of the Lord Vescy land by marrying the daughter and heir of Aton, a knight, that came lineally of a daughter. Anastasia, the second daughter, was married to the Lord Clifforde, and Katarine to Eure (fn. 31).
The knightly effigy, however, in the North porch is probably of an earlier date. The whole of the armour, and the cap or helmet, arc of chain-work; the shield is blank; the left hand presses the scabbard; the right is in the act of unsheathing the sword; the legs are crossed; the spurs on the heels, and the feet rest on a lion, which seems in conflict with a winged serpent.
A slab of blue marble in the floor of the porch is sculptured with a cross flory, a sword, and the arms of Conyers: over all a brass label inscribed,
Dic jacet Joh'es Conyers (fn. 32), miles, d'n's de Sokburn, qui obit nonodecimo die Februarii, Ao Dol Do CCCo nonagesimo quarto, cui' a'i'e p'piciet. Deu'. Amen.
On brasses fixed in two other slabs:
Dic jacet Robert's Conyers, armig. d'n's de Softbur', qui obiit vicesimo quinto die Aprilis Ao D'ni MoCCCC tricesimo iiio cui's a'i'e p'piciet. Deus. Amen.
Dic jacet Isabella, uroc Roberti Conyers, armig. qui obiit nono die Aprilis Ao D'ni DoCCCC tricesimo iifo cui' a'i'e p'piciet. Deus. Amen.
On a brass plate fixed in a large freestone slab:
Marjoria bona morum probitate decora
mifitis ac sponsa Conyers jacet bic tumulata
ecclesia' coluit sanctam simul et peramabit
sepius hospicio deviics capiens vecreavit
ut nati cura d'n'm timeant fuit hujus
marcii mensis erat sertadecima luce cujus
anno milleno quater e Septuageno
mortua carne manet a'i'e rp'us requie' det.
At the corners of this slab are four coats, which have been coloured in enamel: 1. Conyers, quartering..... a plain cross, Vesey. 2. and 3. Conyers; impaling quarterly Or and Gules; over all a bend Sable, charged with three scallops, Eure. 4. Eure alone (fn. 33).
On the wooden cover (fn. 34) of the font are four shields: 1. quarterly, Conyers and Vesey. 2. Conyers, impaling, Gules, on a bend Sable three bezants, Markenfield. 3. Conyers, impaling a coat, which is perhaps intended for Scrope and Tiptoft. 4. Shield as 2.
In the ramifications of the East window are the arms of Scotland, a lion rampant within a double tressure; and in the West window, Gules, three magpies proper. These are all that remain of the painted glass in the Church and Hall of Sockburn, noted by Dugdale in 1666. The roundel with the knight, and the bull's head on his shield, is probably a badge of Neville (fn. 35).
The only modern incriptions are:
On a coarse flat stone before the altar-rails:
Here lies the body of Margaret Foster, wife to John Foster, of West Hartburne, Gentleman, and daughter of Thomas Askue, Gentleman. She was buried the sixteenth day of March, and in the year 1694.
On flat stones in the nave:
|J. R.||J. R.||J. R.|
|June 12, 1800.||Oct. 27, 1795.||Jan. 21, 1788 (fn. 36).|
On a mural monument of marble:
Near this place lie interred the remains of Jane, the wife of Francis Reed, of Hurworth, who departed this life the 21st of Jany 1788, aged 48 years. Also the remains of Thomas their son (fn. 37), who departed this life the 27th of October 1795, aged 15 years. Also the remains of the said Francis Reed, who departed this life the 12th of June 1800, aged 68 years.
In the church-yard:
Here rest the remains of Thomas Reed Ward, of Over-Dinsdale, in this parish, who was born in the city of York, and died at Hurworth on the 12th day of June 1804, aged 73 (fn. 38).
On an altar-tomb in the church-yard:
Here lies the body of Sarah Hutchinson, daughter of Thomas Hutchinson, of Whitton, who died July the 18th, 1786, in the 76th year of her age.
On a head-stone:
In memory of Jane, wife of John Hutchinson, of Stockton, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Wilkinson, of Penrith, who died June the 15th, 1793, aged 26 years, and of Margaret his sister, second daughter of the late John and Margaret Hutchinson, of Penrith, who died March the 28th, 1796, aged 24 years.
On an altar-tomb:
To the memory of James Janson, Esq. late of Darlington, who died June the 4th, 1820, aged 42 years.
Succession of Vicars.
Sockburn, a discharged Vicarage in the Deanery of Stockton.—The Master of Sherburn-house, Patron and Impropriator.—King's Books, 3l. 18s. 1½d.; Tenths, 7s. 9¾d.; Episc. Proc. 2s. 6d.; Synodals, 2s.; Archid 2s.—Dedication to All Saints.
- Galfrid de Connieres (fn. 39).
- Roger, 1255.
- Ralph Dawton.
- Robert Johnson, 1495–1512.
- Robert Pereson.
- Thomas Wright (fn. 40), 1570, p. m. Pereson.
- Francis Trollop, A. B. (fn. 41) 1572, p. m. Wright.
- Nicholas Hilton (fn. 42), 1579, p.m. Trollop.
- Lewis Ambrose, 1604, p. res. Hilton.
- William Harrison, A. M. 1620, p. m. Ambrose.
- William Hutton, A. B. (fn. 43), 24 June 1662.
- John Hepburne, 1666.
- Michael Athelstone (fn. 44), 1682, p. res. Hepburne.
- Thomas Nicholson, A. B. (fn. 45) 1687.
- Richard Newhouse, A. B. (fn. 46) 1699, p. r. Nicholson.
- John Perkin, A. B. Line. Coll. Oxon. 1722.
- Alexander Christie, 1728.
- Robert Lakeland, 1728.
- Robert Dent, A. B. (fn. 47) 1729.
- John Robson, A. M. Line. Coll. 1759.
- — Cooper, p. m. Robson.
- Richard Johnson, 1816, p. res. Cooper.
The glebe is confined to a mean parsonage, and about a rood of garden-ground. The whole yearly value is not 50l. per ann. (fn. 48) The Master of Sherburn has the great tithes.
There are no charitable benefactions to the Parish of Sockburn.
Girsby, a village on the South side of Tees, is considered, as to ecclesiastical matters, within the Parish of Sockburn. It was the ancient estate of Conyers, and is included in the fine of 23 Hen. III. It was alienated, together with Sockburne, to Sir William Blacket. Girsby, divided by the river from the Parish Church, had formerly its own Chapel; for in 1326 a bond occurs from Ralph de Nesham, Chaplain of Gryseby, to Sir John Conyers, Knight, for 10s. 6d. which money Sir John assigns to the light of the Virgin in Sockburn Church.
High-Dinsdale, or Over-Dinsdale, is beautifully situated on the Southern bank of the river, nearly opposite Low-Dinsdale. This was the seat for some descents of a separate branch of Conyers, of whom the little that is known is stated below. It since belonged to the Wards, and is now the estate of the Miss Wards of Hurworth.
The Girlingtons also held lands here. 20 Nov. 20 Eliz. Francis Girlington, of Richmond, Gent. died seised of a messuage and twelve oxgangs in Over-Dinsdale, held of the Bishop of Durham as of his manor of North Allerton, leaving Simon his son and heir, under age (fn. 49).