A History of the County of Durham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1928.
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The compact parish of Elton, consisting of a single township, lies to the west of Stockton; it has Long Newton to the south and west, Redmarshall and Norton to the North. The southern boundary is formed by Coatham Beck, flowing east to the Tees; beside it is the lowest land in the parish, about 50 ft. above sea level, but the surface gradually rises towards the north-west till 170 feet is attained at the junction with Redmarshall. The area is 1,444 acres.
The principal road is that going west from Stockton to Darlington. On it are situated the few houses of the village with the church and inn. The hall and Spring House lie to the south, Viewley Hill to the west, Sandy Leas nearer the centre, and Elton Moor in the north. There are several plantations.
The soil is clay. The parish contained 345 acres of arable, 906 of permanent grass, and 144 of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) Wheat and oats are grown. Stone quarries were formerly worked.
The history of Elton has been without much notable incident. In the story of St. Godric, a leprous woman from 'Hailtune' near Darlington is said to have been cured at his intercession; Norman the priest of the vill took her to the hospital at 'Badela' and afterwards showed her, cured, to his parishioners. (fn. 2) To the Northern Rising of 1569 the parish contributed four men, of whom one was executed. (fn. 3)
The Protestation of 1641 was signed here. (fn. 4)
Bishop Aldhun (990–1018) gave ELTON among other lands with his daughter Ecgfrida to Uchtred son of the Earl of Northumbria. It was restored by her to the bishopric when she became a nun. (fn. 5) After the Conquest Elton is found among the possessions of the Brus family, apparently held of Hartness. (fn. 6) On the forfeiture of Robert de Brus in 1306 the overlordship must have been granted to Robert de Clifford as an appurtenance of the manor of Hart (q.v.). (fn. 7) Elton is subsequently said to be held of the Clifford family. (fn. 8)
About 1184 Robert de Brus confirmed Elton to William son of Silvester de Humez, stating that his father had granted it to Peter Werenge, ancestor of the said Silvester; it was to be held by the service of a fourth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 9) The wardship was given to Peter de Humez till William should become a knight; if he should die without issue the land was to go to Robert de Humez and Peter de Humez. (fn. 10) William de Humez was in possession of the advowson in the time of Bishop Philip de Poitou (1197–1208). (fn. 11) His heir is not known. Sir Henry de Ewe from Elton is included in the list of the bishop's knights in 1264. (fn. 12) Before 1284 Robert, son and heir of Sir Robert Gower of Faceby (Yorks), released to his father all claim on land which Sir Robert had by inheritance or purchase in the vill of Elton. (fn. 13) The younger Robert and his wife Christiana had a grant from John Tylliol of the county of Cumberland of a capital messuage with eight tofts and eight oxgangs in Elton, to be held of Robert de Brus as chief lord of the fee. (fn. 14) An estate in Elton subsequently descended in the Gower family for nearly three centuries. Sir Robert Gower the younger was dead in 1315, when there was a dispute between Alan the Chaplain and Adam the reeve of Elton concerning the payment for his obit. (fn. 15) He had sons John and Laurence, (fn. 16) who are not, however, mentioned in connection with Elton. It seems, however, to have followed the descent of Faceby, which in 1341 was held by William Gower, tenant of Elton in 1344. (fn. 17) He died before November 1346 when the advowson was in the king's hands owing to the minority of his heir. (fn. 18) Richard Gower of Marton in 1364 released to Gilbert de Wauton, Christiana his wife, and Elizabeth her sister, all his right in the manors of Elton and Faceby (Yorks). Elton did not, however, subsequently descend with Faceby. (fn. 19) In 1378 Thomas Chancellor as guardian of Thomas son of William Gower presented to the church, and it was found that Joan widow of Sir William Gower had last presented. (fn. 20) Thomas Gower of Elton appears to have come of age by 1382. (fn. 21) He was apparently succeeded by Laurence Gower, perhaps his nephew, who died seised of half the manor. Laurence was the son of Laurence the son of William the son of John Gower of Elton and Agnes his wife. (fn. 22)
He had two sons Thomas and Edward. The former left a son and heir Ralph, who was dead in 1546, when it was found that his heir was Edward's grandson, Laurence Tregos alias Thorowgood or Strodar, son of Anne the daughter of Edward. The inheritance comprised a moiety of the manor of Elton, with 12 messuages and 460 acres of land and lands in Little Stainton. (fn. 23) In 1552 Richard Stoughton and Margaret his wife conveyed to Henry Wethereld 5 messuages and 340 acres of land in Elton and Little Stainton. (fn. 24) Later conveyances must have put Wethereld in possession of the whole estate of the Gowers, of which he died seised in 1559. (fn. 25) His son and heir was Roger, (fn. 26) who appears to have sold this part of the manor to Thomas Errington. In 1595 Thomas Errington died in possession, leaving a son and heir John, then nine years old. (fn. 27)
John Errington, being a recusant, took sides with the king in the Civil War, and was a colonel. His son, John Errington the younger, also served with the royal forces, and in 1644 their estates were sequestered by the Parliament. (fn. 28) A fifth was allowed to Mary, wife of the elder John. (fn. 29) Finally the estates were confiscated under the third act of 1652, (fn. 30) and sold. (fn. 31) They were recovered at the Restoration, and in 1664 John Errington and Anne his wife, with his son John, conveyed the manor to Henry Lambton. (fn. 32) John Errington was probably unable to retrieve his losses occasioned by the war, and in 1682 he sold his lands to Sir Robert Shafto, whose descendant John Shafto of Whitworth (q.v.) made a settlement in 1798. (fn. 33) He sold it before 1802, the date of his death, to Thomas Wade. (fn. 34) It descended to his son, the Rev. Albany Wade, rector of Elton from 1840 to 1855, and by his trustees was sold to Mr. John Stapylton Sutton, who afterwards sold his estate here to the late Thomas Appleby of Hartlepool. Thomas Appleby died in 1909, and was succeeded by his son Mr. John Stanley Appleby, who between 1914 and 1926 sold all his lands except one farm mostly to the tenants. The New Hall which he built and two farms were purchased about 1924 by Mr. Robert Ropner (second son of the late Sir Robert Ropner, Bt.), who resides at the hall. (fn. 35)
That part of the manor which did not belong to the Gowers was probably held by the Bowes family as early as 1435, when they had two-thirds of the advowson. (fn. 36) How they obtained it is unknown, and the earliest record of its possession is some feoffments of the 'manor' in 1469 by William Bowes of Dalden, (fn. 37) whose widow had lands assigned her in this place in 1474. (fn. 38) There was another feoffment of 'the manor and vill' of Elton by Ralph Bowes in 1497. (fn. 39) Again, it was included in a feoffment made in 1512, (fn. 40) and in 1516 the Bowes' manor of Elton was said to be held of Henry Clifford. (fn. 41) Dorothy, a daughter and coheir of George Bowes, married Cuthbert Collingwood, (fn. 42) and in 1574 they sold 'the manor' of Elton to Thomas Serjeantson and John, Thomas, and Christopher Jefferson. (fn. 43) An estate, amounting to 10½ oxgangs, with part of the advowson, probably part of the Bowes' property, was bought by Robert Conyers from John Mitforth senior and John Mitforth junior. (fn. 44)
Robert Jefferson's lands at Elton are mentioned in 1651. (fn. 45) In 1664 a settlement was made by Margaret Jefferson, widow, and John Jefferson, (fn. 46) and in June 1703 Elizabeth widow of Sir John Jefferson and her son John sold two messuages, lands and the advowson of the church to John Jefferson, yeoman, of Norton. (fn. 47) Anne, the eventual heiress of John Jefferson, in 1760 married Thomas Hogg of Norton, from whom is descended Mr. John Ewer Jefferson Hogg of Norton, sheriff of the county in 1903. (fn. 48)
Another part of the Jefferson estate appears to have descended, by the marriage of Thomas Sutton with Rachel Jefferson in 1692, to their grandson George Sutton, who died in 1817, and from him, through his cousin Elizabeth Sleigh, who married John Hutchinson, to her son George, who took the name of Sutton. (fn. 49) He was father of Mr. John Stapylton Sutton, mentioned above.
In 1311 it was found that 4 oxgangs in Elton had been granted by Maud, kinswoman of Robert de Brus, to Guisborough Priory, and that the gift had been confirmed by Robert. (fn. 50) These lands were described as 'the Manor of Elton' in 1344. (fn. 51)
The lands formerly held by Guisborough Priory were in 1544 granted by the Crown to Sir Thomas Wharton Lord Wharton. (fn. 52) In 1612 Philip Lord Wharton and Dorothy his wife had land in Elton among other places. (fn. 53) John Lord Lumley (1609) held land here of the king. (fn. 54)
The freeholders in 1684 were Sir Robert Shafto, John Jefferson, Thomas Dodd of Dalton, and John Hendry of Norton. (fn. 55)
The church (fn. 56) of ST. JOHN consists of a chancel 19 ft. by 15 ft., with vestry on the north side, nave 33 ft. 3 in. by 18 ft., and south porch 4 ft. 6 in. square, all these measurements being internal. There is also a bellcote over the west gable containing two bells.
The structure dates from the 12th century, but was almost entirely rebuilt in 1841. The plan, however, remains unchanged, and some ancient features have been retained internally. The external appearance of the building is entirely modern, the roofs being of slate with overhanging eaves, the nave windows are small lancets, (fn. 57) and the east window is of two trefoiled lights with a circle in the head.
The chancel arch is an interesting example of 12th-century work, forming a stone screen of three openings, all with semicircular moulded arches, the middle one, or chancel arch proper, being 6 ft. 10 in in width. The arches are divided by rectangular piers with attached shafts facing the nave, standing on stone walls 2 ft. 8 in. high on either side of the middle opening. The shafts have moulded bases and cushion capitals with chamfered imposts, the outer jambs of the side openings, which are only 3 ft. in width, being square with imposts only. The arches spring at a height of 8 ft. 9 in., and the middle one is ornamented with plain beak-heads. The whole of the stonework is original.
The doorway to the vestry is also of late 12th-century date, but is not in its original position. (fn. 58) It has a semicircular arch of a single order, with plain chamfered head and jambs and moulded label. The roof of the chancel is lower than that of the nave, but the floors are on the same level.
The original 12th-century south doorway has been rebuilt inside the church, and has a semicircular arch with cheveron moulding springing from chamfered imposts. Only the arch itself is old, the jambs being plastered, and a modern pointed arch, which alone shows to the porch, has been introduced below.
On the south side of the chancel is the cross-legged effigy of a man in chain armour with feet resting on a talbot. It has not been identified, but in 1714 was referred to as 'Gower's statue.' (fn. 59) The monument possibly commemorates Robert Gower the younger, who died about 1315, for whom there was an obit in the church.
The fittings erected in 1841 were square, high, painted deal pews, with a pulpit of similar type under the southern opening of the screen, and a reading desk below the north opening. These were removed in 1874 and pitch pine seating substituted. The font and the pulpit (which is of wrought iron) also dates from 1874. (fn. 60)
A painted wooden rood screen was erected in 1907 by Mary Scott in memory of her sister Eleanor. It fills the three openings of the stone screen, over which is a rood and its accompanying figures, the whole being a fine piece of decorative design. It has doors to the middle opening, and the lower portion contains painted figures of SS. Matthew, Andrew, Peter, Paul, James, and James the Less. (fn. 61) In 1925 a heating chamber was added on the north side of the nave by Mrs. Morrison, daughter of the late Mr. J. Stapylton Sutton, in memory of her parents. A painted figure of the Virgin and Child was erected at the north-east corner of the nave, as a memorial of the Peace of 1919.
In the floor of the chancel is a stone to Mary, wife of Henry Doughty, rector, who died in 1683, and on the north wall a tablet to John Sutton of Stockton, who died in 1792. (fn. 62)
The plate consists of a silver chalice of 1570, made at York, a plated paten, and a flagon made from a plated cup. (fn. 63)
The advowson was anciently an appurtenance of the manor, though it seems to have been in dispute as early as 1185 when William de Howden paid 2 marks for licence to cancel an agreement whereby he quitclaimed it to Peter de Humez; the church was then endowed with an oxgang of land. (fn. 64) Bishop Philip (1197– 1208) appears to have claimed it, perhaps regarding Elton as a dependency of Norton, for he gave a formal release to William de Humez of all right in the advowson of the chapel (not church) of Elton, as being William's by hereditary right according to the verdict of the lawful men of the vicinity. (fn. 65) In 1316 the king presented because of his custody of the lands and heir of Robert de Clifford, deceased. (fn. 66) The king again presented in 1346 by reason of his custody of the lands and heir of William Gower. (fn. 67) In 1435 it was found on inquiry that out of three turns of presentation Sir William Bowes had two and — Gower the third. (fn. 68) The advowson of Elton church was included in the conveyance to Henry Wethereld made in 1552 by Richard and Margaret Stoughton. (fn. 69)
A third part of the advowson was acquired, presumably from the heirs of George Bowes, by Robert Conyers of Coatham Stob, and with land in Elton is mentioned in his will of 1566. (fn. 70) It was forfeited with the manor of Coatham Stob by his elder son Ralph in 1569. (fn. 71) In January 1572–3 it was granted to Roger Manners, (fn. 72) from whom it was probably purchased by the Errington family. In 1667 John Jefferson and John Errington were said to present alternately, (fn. 73) but in 1758 it appeared that the successors of the Erringtons were entitled to two thirds, while Miss Ann Jefferson had one. (fn. 74)
The Shafto right was sold to Wade along with the manor, and descended to the Rev. Albany Wade, whose representatives about 1870 sold to Mrs. Elizabeth Milner. (fn. 75) The executors of this lady have now the larger share (two turns) and Mr. J. E. Jefferson Hogg of Norton the smaller (one turn).
The rectory was valued at £4 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 76) but this was reduced as in other cases before 1318, when £2 was the value. (fn. 77) By 1535 this had risen to £7 1s. 5½ d. (fn. 78) An acre of land given for the maintenance of a light was in the tenure of John Sayer in February 1562–3 when it was leased to Christopher Chaytor; this land was included in a Crown sale of former church lands in 1609. (fn. 79)