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 BISHOPTON.
The Parish of Bishopton is bounded by Redmarshall and Grindon on the North, by Redmarshall on the East, Elton and Long Newton on the South-east, Haughton-le-Skerne (including the Chapelry of Sadberge) on the South and South-west, Aycliffe on the West, and Great Stainton on the North-west.
The most observable matter at Bishopton is the ancient mound or stronghold in a field at the East end of the village. This mound or agger is nearly a regular cone, with a flat or truncated summit, formed of the common clay and coble-stone of the country thrown together. Its base is surrounded by a deep circular trench: a second, or outward fosse, runs at the distance of a bow-shot to the East and West, but approaches the inner ditch much nearer on the North and South, forming an irregular square; and on the South of the station flows the Bishopton beck, by means of which the trenches might be easily inundated. The site of this little stronghold is a narrow area of low plashy meadow, completely commanded by the rising ground to the North-west, occupied by the village and church. It is evident that the chief confidence of the occupants against assault or surprise, must have rested on the facility with which they could flood the trenches, a mode of defence extremely common amongst the lower order of castelets, or fortified manor-houses; and sometimes even adopted in castles of the highest class in preference to all more obvious advantages of situation (fn. 1).
The earliest account, as well of Bishopton as of its stronghold, occurs in the Continuation of Simeon.—“There arose a feud betwixt Cumyn and Roger de Coyners, from whom he could never extort either homage or fealty, as from the other barons. Roger, therefore, in self-defence, began to fortify his house at Biscoptun for very fear of William. Cumyn made an attempt with a strong force to surprise the place, but was repulsed and obliged to retreat; and here the Bishop found a safe residence, and received the homage of such of his vassals as returned to their duty.” (fn. 2) The words of the historian, though they imply that Conyers had a previous residence at Bishopton, certainly seem to prove that it was then first converted into a place of strength, “Cessit ergo Rogerus ad sui munimentum, domum suam munire apud Biscoptun;” and I am strongly inclined to refer, if not the construction of the mound or agger itself, at least the formation of the trenches, to the owner's seasonable precautions on this occasion. Yet the central strength may most possibly have existed long before, and like the Capitular Seal of Durham, which bears the head of Jupiter Tonans, circumscribed with the legend of St. Oswald, may have been a Roman agger, a circular Danish fort, or a Druidical tumulus.
From the period, at least, of these transactions, Bishopton became the inheritance of the family of Conyers, whose descent is so fully exhibited under Sockburne as to need no repetition. During a possession of at least five centuries, the only charter of much interest which has occurred, relating exclusively to Bishopton, is the grant of Roger Conyers, by which he conveys to the Prior of Durham the three sons of Eylof de Biscopton, with all their succession, in exchange for a horse and six marks of silver, which he had received from the Treasury of St. Cuthbert at his greatest need (fn. 3). Aymeric, the Archdeacon, who attests the charter, was living in 1171.
In 1613, and the two following years, Sir George Conyers, of Sockburne, Knt. and George Conyers, Esq. his son and heir, alienated the whole of their manors of Bishopton, Stainton, and Newbiggin, in various parcels, to their tenants.
In lph Elstob, Gent. (fn. 4), Francis Welfoot, yeoman (fn. 5), John Humfray (fn. 6), William Leadom (fn. 7), Anthony Buckle (Bishopton-mill and mill-dam), Robert Chipches, Thomas Aire (fn. 8), Thomas Mauer, Thomas Roantree, Nicholas Jackson (fn. 9), Thomas Colson, and Cuthbert Beckfield.
Bishopton—The heirs of Richard Croft, Clerk; George Todd, Gent. (sold to Timothy Davison, Esq. (fn. 15);) John Rippon, of Manfield, in Yorkshire; Thomas Mawer; Thomas Aire; Thomas Pearson, Gent.; William Buckle; Jane Jackson, widow; Thomasine Beverley, widow.
Little Stainton—The heirs of Robert Tatham, Gent. (fn. 16); John Fewler, Gent.; Robert Allinson, Gent.; William Newton, of Redmarshall; Anthony Stelling; William Harrison, of Sadberge; Thomas Barker, of East Newbiggin (lives in Yorkshire); Thomas Bockfield, of the same; William Batmanson, Recusant.
Information of John Middleton, Constable, concerning the deliquency of Lancelot Todd.—His son Christopher Todd in the army against the King and Parliamt, and the father and son lived all together; had 7 kine, 9 sheep, 12 acres of pease and 5 of oates. John Middleton was present when oulde Todd said, “My son Cursty shall go and fighte for the King, and who knows but he may come back a capten in spite of the Crop-ears;” and that Middleton was present also when a blacke horse, which he thinkes belonged to oulde Todd, was brought out of the stable for Chr (fn. 17) Todd to ride away upon; and after drinking he rode away about two of the clock in the morning by moonlight, and that oulde Todd went often to Coll. Conyers, at Layton, a noted papist and delinquent. Oulde Todd's lands worth 30l. a-yeare.
This very natural picture of rustic loyalty, for which we are indebted to the laudable exertions of Master Constable, is immediately followed by an order to “Sequester the goods of Lancelot Todd, papist, 26l. 1s. 2d.”
The Churches of Bishopton and Sockburn were given to the house of Sherburn by Roger Conyers, and Robert his son and heir, before 1200. The Master of Sherburn is the present Patron, and retains the tithe of wool and lamb.
Succession of Vicars.
- Adam de Yersey, 1290.
- Robert de Mersk, 1291.
- Dñs Thomas, occurs 1317.
- William de Newhouse, 1382.
- John de Skyrwith, 1391.
- John Bawdon, 1400.
- John Sawer, 1409.
- John Semer, 1501.
- Will. Alandson, 1558.
- Thomas Wall, 1560.
- Giles Widdowes, 1579.
- David Miles, 1625.
- John Buckley, A. M. 1661.
- Richard Croft, 1662.
- William Thirkeld, A. M. 1681.
- James Tate, 1686.
- Michael Athelston, 1687.
- Richard Conder, 1722.
- Richard Newhouse, 1727.
- Samuel Hudson, A. M. 1740.
- Richard Tinkler, 1762.
- Ralph Tatham, A. M. (fn. 17)
There are several memorials of the Hutchinsons of Whitton and Bishopton (fn. 18), viz.
Charitable Benefactions to The Parish of Bishopton.
A rent-charge of 20s. issuing out of lands in East Newbiggin, given by the will of Thomas Barker, Gent. in 1686; 13s. 4d. out of lands sometime of Rev. Richard Croft; 5s. out of lands sometime of Thomas Carlisle; and 5s. to be distributed in bread. Of which last named donations the dates are unknown (fn. 19).