A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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Osmotherley is the most easterly of the parishes in the wapentake of Allerton. It is of considerable size, covering, with its townships of Thimbleby, Ellerbeck and West Harlsey, an area of 7,277 acres. The population is for the most part concentrated in the village of Osmotherley in the eastern part of the parish. It has a fine position on a slight eminence, to the east and south of which the ground rises to the Cleveland and Hambleton Hills. Osmotherley Moor and Thimbleby Moor rise to a height of about 1,000 ft. This is almost uninhabited country. One small inn called the Chequers Inn (or Slapestones) stands alone on the moors, except for an old ruined building called Solomon's Temple. To the northeast rises the Cod Beck, which flows south till it nears the village of Osmotherley, where it curves round and flows westward through the parish. The village is large and stands in the curve, high above the banks of the stream, the centre being at the junction of three cross-roads, where the road rising from the valley meets another road running north and south. Here stands a market cross; there is a tradition of a market in the 19th century, (fn. 1) but no formal record of it exists. The houses of the village are for the most part built of stone with slate roofs. On the south side of the street leading westward is the church of St. Peter, which was largely rebuilt in 1892. There are besides in the village a Roman Catholic chapel, founded in 1771, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels and a Friends' meeting-house.
Osmotherley was noted for hand-loom weaving, (fn. 2) which has completely died out. There is now a mill for the manufacture of linen and for flax spinning at the north end of the village. South of it at Walk Mill on the banks of the Cod Beck are extensive bleaching grounds. (fn. 3) There is an old corn-mill near by, a little higher up the stream.
The street which runs westward becomes a lane leading into the great high road from Yarm to Thirsk, which passes through the middle of the parish. Just south of this point it crosses the Cod Beck at Ellerbeck Bridge, and a lane runs westward from the bridge along the stream to the small village of Ellerbeck. Here there is still a mill, doubtless on the site of that which the lords of the manor held from the 13th century. (fn. 4) In 1652 there were two water grist-mills here under one roof. (fn. 5)
Foxton, a still smaller village on the other side of the stream farther west, also had its mill in the time of the Colvills, (fn. 6) and has one at the present day.
Foxton Lane leads north for about a mile to the moat of West Harlsey Castle. This and some fragments of masonry incorporated in a farm-house built on the site are all that remain of the manorial stronghold built, according to Leland, (fn. 7) by Sir James Strangways, a judge of the Common Pleas, who purchased the manor in 1423. (fn. 8) Probably it fell into disuse after the manor was forfeited to the Crown in the 16th century. There are a few farm-houses here, but no village.
The Nunhouse, a farm in the south of the township, is on the site of the little Benedictine priory of St. Stephen, Foukeholm, which existed during the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 9) In 1546 the Nunhouse was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford. (fn. 10)
There are old alum works in the wood to the east of Thimbleby Lodge. Jet is also found, and is worked to some extent in Thimbleby. Jeater Houses, a small hamlet to the west of Thimbleby, is a relic of the days when the industry was more prosperous.
An Inclosure Act for part of the moor of this parish was passed in 1755. (fn. 11) More than 2,000 acres in Osmotherley are under cultivation. Grain crops flourish best in this soil, which is clayey, on a subsoil of Lower Lias for the most part, with beds of Middle and Upper Lias and Inferior Oolite in the extreme east.
In 1086 OSMOTHERLEY was among the lands of the Crown. (fn. 12) Ligulf and Eilaf held the 'manor' here with 5 carucates of land. (fn. 13) Three carucates in Osmotherley were granted with other land in Allertonshire to the church of St. Cuthbert at Durham, apparently before the grant of Northallerton itself with its soke was made to the bishop. (fn. 14) The manor was held by the Bishop of Durham in 1284 for a third part of a knight's fee, (fn. 15) and remained a part of the endowments of the bishopric (fn. 16) until it was transferred, with the rest of the bishop's lands in Allertonshire, to the see of Ripon in 1836. (fn. 17) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners now exercise the manorial rights.
At the beginning of the 13th century Henry Pudsey, son of Hugh Pudsey Bishop of Durham, (fn. 18) appears in possession of certain lands in Osmotherley, (fn. 19) of which he had doubtless been enfeoffed by his father. (fn. 20) He granted them before 1212 to Robert de Percy, (fn. 21) who paid 100s. for having seisin. (fn. 22) It is not clear in what way the holding passed to the next tenant, Robert Burnell, Archdeacon of York, and later Bishop of Bath and Wells. It was quitclaimed to him as the 'manor of Osmotherley' by William Esturmy in 1273, (fn. 23) together with Morton on Swale and other manors which had already been in the possession of Robert Burnell for some years. (fn. 24) This 'manor' passed with Morton on Swale (q.v.) into the Greystock family. (fn. 25) It subsequently followed the descent of Morton (fn. 26) into the Howard family, (fn. 27) who held it till 1646 at least, (fn. 28) and possibly later. At some time, however, it must have been sold to various purchasers, for the present landowners in the township are Sir Hugh Bell, bart., Mr. J. S. Barwick, J.P., and the Misses Clarke.
Robert Burnell obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands in Osmotherley in 1281. (fn. 29)
The hospital of St. James at Northallerton held lands in Osmotherley, which appear to have followed the descent of the manor of Ellerbeck. (fn. 30)
In ELLERBECK there were in 1086 two holdings. A 'manor' here with 5 carucates of land was in the hands of the king, and was held of him by Ligulf. (fn. 31) Another carucate in Ellerbeck was among the lands of Hugh Fitz Baldric, (fn. 32) being held by his 'man' Girard.
Four carucates here were, like Osmotherley, an endowment of the church of St. Cuthbert 'from ancient times.' (fn. 33) One carucate in 'Lesser Ellerbeck' was included in the grant of Northallerton and its soke (fn. 34) to the Bishop of Durham. It is clear that the whole vill came finally into the hands of the bishops, and was granted by Hugh Pudsey in the late 12th century to his steward, Philip de Colvill. (fn. 35) Philip granted to the hospital of St. James at Northallerton 2 acres of land near his land in Ellerbeck, making a condition that he should be allowed to make supports for his mill dam there, (fn. 36) and later he or one of his descendants must have granted the whole manor to that house. (fn. 37) The master of the hospital held 4 carucates here for a third part of a knight's fee in 1284–5. (fn. 38)
At the Dissolution the vill of Ellerbeck, with the water-mill, was among the temporalities of the hospital, and was worth £16 13s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 39) It was granted in 1541 with the site of the hospital to Richard Morrison, (fn. 40) but was exchanged four years later for other lands. (fn. 41) Ellerbeck was then granted to the Dean and Chapter of Christchurch, Oxford, (fn. 42) who have continued to be lords of the manor. During the 17th century they leased it to the Morley family (fn. 43) for a yearly rent of about £60 (fn. 44); it was sequestered in 1650 with the other lands of Cuthbert Morley. (fn. 45) It continued to be leased by the dean and chapter, (fn. 46) the tenants in the 19th century being William Bayley and Henry Hirst. (fn. 47)
Two carucates in FOXTON (Foustune, Fostune, xi cent.) are described in the Domesday Survey as a 'berewick' of Knayton, which St. Cuthbert had held before the Conquest and still held in 1086. (fn. 48) Later 3 carucates in Foxton were claimed as ancient endowment of the church of St. Cuthbert. (fn. 49) In the latter part of the 12th century the manor was granted with Thimbleby (q.v.) and Ellerbeck to Philip Colvill by Bishop Hugh Pudsey. (fn. 50) It descended to Philip's son William, (fn. 51) whose daughter Joan married John son of Michael de Ryhill. (fn. 52) She brought the greater part of Foxton (fn. 53) to her husband, who already had part of the manor of Kirkby Sigston (q.v.) from which her descendants took the name of Sigston. Her share of Foxton followed the descent of this part of Kirkby Sigston (q.v.) through the families of Sigston, (fn. 54) Sywardby (fn. 55) and Pigot. (fn. 56) The latter family acquired in 1478–9 that part of Foxton which had remained in the possession of the Colvills, and had come by marriage to the house of Mauleverer. (fn. 57) On the death of Margaret wife of James Metcalfe and one of the daughters and heirs of Thomas Pigot in 1531 (fn. 58) Foxton was inherited by her son Sir Christopher Metcalfe. (fn. 59) He sold the manor to Thomas Laton, his brother-in-law, (fn. 60) in 1568, (fn. 61) and it remained in the hands of the Laton family, following the descent of their manor of Sexhowe (fn. 62) till 1660. Bridget Laton, wife of Thomas Frewen, inherited the family lands in Kirkby Sigston, and they have remained in the hands of the Frewen family till the present day. (fn. 63) Probably Foxton also followed this descent, but the manor must have been sold at some time to the Earls of Harewood. The present earl with Captain Thomas Hill and Mr. George Blummer holds most of the land in the township.
THIMBLEBY (Timbelbi, Themelbi, xi cent.; Thimelby, xiii cent.) was in 1086 soke of the king's 'manor' of Northallerton (fn. 64) (q.v.). Three carucates of land here were included in the grant of that manor and its soke to the Bishop of Durham and were said to have been in the tenure of Althor the Dane. (fn. 65)
The tenant of the bishop in 1183 was Jordan Hairun, against whom Ralph de la Laund and Adeliza his wife claimed under a writ de recto the 3 carucates in Thimbleby. (fn. 66)
At the end of the 12th century Bishop Hugh Pudsey granted the manors of Thimbleby, Ellerbeck and Foxton to his seneschal Philip Colvill for his good service. (fn. 67) In 1219 Philip Colvill had a writ to summon Jordan Hairun to keep the fine made between them for land in Thimbleby, a release of Jordan's claim on 2 carucates. (fn. 68) A suit in the King's Court followed. (fn. 69) Later Jordan Hairun granted to Rievaulx Abbey land in Thimbleby which he held 'of the gift of Philip Colvill.' (fn. 70)
Philip's great-grandson William (fn. 71) was holding the 3 carucates in Thimbleby for the third part of a knight's fee in 1284–5. (fn. 72) The manor followed the descent in his family of Dale Town (fn. 73) (q.v.) till the death of the younger Sir John Colvill in 1418. A partition of his estates was made in 1439–40 between his two aunts, Isabel, who married as her first husband John Wandesford of Kirklington, and Joan the wife of Sir William Mauleverer of Wothersome. (fn. 74) The former inherited Thimbleby (fn. 75); the claims of the Fulthorpe family, who had the reversion of the manor by the will of Sir John, (fn. 76) were satisfied with the grant of St. Helen's Auckland. (fn. 77)
Thimbleby remained for more than two centuries in the possession of the Wandesfords, following the descent of their manor of Kirklington (fn. 78) (q.v.). At the beginning of the 18th century Sir Christopher Wandesford sold the manor to Richard Peirse of Hutton Bonville. (fn. 79) It was inherited (fn. 80) by Richard William Peirse, who, while selling Hutton Bonville, retained Thimbleby, and was succeeded by his son Richard William Christopher Peirse, (fn. 81) who sold Thimbleby in 1837 or 1838 to Robert Haynes. (fn. 82)
The family of Haynes lived at Thimbleby for the greater part of the 19th century. Mr. Robert Haynes was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 83) who was lord of the manor in 1879. The property has now been acquired by Mr. John Storey Barwick, J.P.
The Abbots of Rievaulx held 4 oxgangs in Thimbleby of the gift of Robert de la Laund. (fn. 84) This was confirmed by Jordan Hairun, with the exception of the wood of 'Hayckedale,' which belonged to the 4 oxgangs. (fn. 85) He added a grant of pasture for 200 sheep. (fn. 86) Philip Colvill gave the monks the land lying at the 'going-out of the vill of Thimbleby' between the land forming their gift from Robert de la Laund and the public road to the church of St. Stephen. (fn. 87)
Some land in Thimbleby held by the hospital of St. James in Northallerton (fn. 88) followed the descent of the manor of Ellerbeck (q.v.).
Part of WEST HARLSEY (Herleseye, xi cent.; Erlyshay, xiii cent.; Over Herleseye, xiv cent.) in the 11th century was in the soke of Northallerton. (fn. 89) A 'manor' here with 6 carucates of land (fn. 90) was in the king's hands, and had previously been held by Malgrin.
Before the end of this century West Harlsey came with the rest of the soke of Northallerton (q.v.) into the possession of the Bishops of Durham. (fn. 91) The early tenants of the manor are unknown, (fn. 92) but towards the end of the 13th century it was held of the bishop by the family of Burton of Burton in Kendal. In 1283 Parnel de Conyers, a daughter of Roger de Burton, (fn. 93) was holding 4 of the 6 carucates in the vill, (fn. 94) probably by lease from her father. He died seised of the manor, which he held of the bishop by suit at the court of Northallerton, in 1302–3. (fn. 95) His heir was his son Roger, who died in or about 1308, (fn. 96) leaving a son and heir, another Roger, aged two at his father's death. (fn. 97) The manor was held at this date for one-half of a knight's fee. In 1316 a John de Burton was returned as lord of West Harlsey. (fn. 98) He was an uncle of the younger Roger. (fn. 99)
The lands of Sir Roger de Burton, including West Harlsey, were forfeited for his share in the rebellion of 1322 and were granted in 1361 to Walter de Fauconberg and his wife Isabel, widow of Roger. (fn. 100) Anthony de Burton, son and heir of Roger, whose petition to have them restored to him had been granted shortly before this, (fn. 101) apparently did not actually recover his lands during Isabel's lifetime. (fn. 102) He seems to have died childless. (fn. 103) Parnel, one of his sisters, married a member of the family of Betham (fn. 104); another sister must have married a Berwick, for John Berwick died in possession of half the manor of Burton in Kendal in 1437. (fn. 105) West Harlsey followed the same descent, and in 1423 John Betham and John Berwick quitclaimed the manor to James Strangways. (fn. 106)
The family of Strangways held the manor of West Harlsey, and resided in the castle which they built there, (fn. 107) for several generations. James Strangways had a son James, who was High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1445–6, 1452 and 1468, (fn. 108) and Speaker of the House of Commons in 1461. (fn. 109) He was described as of West Harlsey in 1469, (fn. 110) but though he lived until 1516 he must have made this manor over to his son and heir Richard, (fn. 111) who died seised in 1488, (fn. 112) and was succeeded by his son James. (fn. 113) James died in 1520, (fn. 114) when his son Thomas inherited his estates, (fn. 115) which passed at his death to Sir James Strangways his son. (fn. 116) In 1541 Sir James Strangways the younger quitclaimed to William Lord Dacre and Christopher Dacre his manors of West Harlsey, Whorlton and others, (fn. 117) with remainder to Leonard, a younger son of Lord Dacre, (fn. 118) and his heirs. At the death of Sir James the possession of his lands was disputed by the Dacre family and his own right heirs through his aunts, Mary and Joan, the former of whom had married Robert Roos and the latter William Mauleverer. (fn. 119) The Crown also had some claim through a settlement alleged to have been made by the first James Strangways with remainder to Henry V. (fn. 120) Arbitrators were called in, and the estates were divided, the Dacres receiving West Harlsey and other lands as their share. (fn. 121) In the reign of Elizabeth, however, a suit of intrusion was brought against William Lord Dacre in the manor of West Harlsey, (fn. 122) in which the Crown rested a claim, reported to have proved successful, (fn. 123) on the gift from 'Strangways the judge.'
Leonard Dacre was one of the leaders of the Northern rebels, and his lands were forfeited in 1570. (fn. 124) In spite of the suit with the Crown, West Harlsey was still included among his estates. (fn. 125) It was granted in the next year to Henry Lord Hunsdon, the leader of the royal forces against the rebels. (fn. 126) He sold it back to the Crown, (fn. 127) but it was subsequently leased to a later Lord Hunsdon by James I. (fn. 128)
Meanwhile the Dacre family had never relinquished the right to the manor which they had through the settlement in tail on Leonard Dacre, and in the 17th century they succeeded in establishing it. (fn. 129) The heirs of Leonard Dacre after the death of his two younger brothers were his nieces Ann and Elizabeth, both of whom married into the Howard family. (fn. 130) Elizabeth wife of Lord William Howard had the manor of West Harlsey, (fn. 131) which thus descended to the Earls of Carlisle. (fn. 132) It followed the descent of Morton on Swale (q.v.), and ultimately came, like that manor, into the possession of the Earls of Harewood.
The family of Ingleby had for several centuries an estate in West Harlsey, possibly acquired in part from the John de Sproxton who was a tenant here in about 1300. (fn. 133) In 1360–1 they acquired 16 oxgangs here from Thomas de Ellerbeck, (fn. 134) possibly the heir of the Thomas de 'Helbeck' who had been a tenant of the bishop in 1284–5. (fn. 135) The Inglebys were still in possession of their estate, which they held of the heirs of Roger de Burton, (fn. 136) at the end of the 16th century. (fn. 137) It appears to have followed the descent of their manor of Ripley. (fn. 138)
The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel 30 ft. 6 in. by 17 ft., south chapel and vestry, nave 63 ft. by 17 ft., south aisle 13 ft. wide, west tower 14 ft. by 11 ft. and south porch. These measurements are all internal.
The carved fragments and the apse said to have been discovered at the last restoration point to the former existence of a pre-Conquest church here. The earliest part of the present church is the nave, which was built about 1190, to which date the south doorway, now in the aisle wall, belongs. The chancel appears to have been rebuilt in the 13th century, but the only detail left of the date is the fragment of a piscina or sedile in the south wall. The chancel arch is of 14th-century date, and probably other work was done at the same time. The south or Strangways chapel was added in the 15th century. The south porch and the tower are work of the latter half of the same century. In 1892 the building underwent a drastic restoration and was enlarged by a south aisle and the widening of the western half of the south chapel. Every window in the church, except those of the tower, is of new stonework, mostly in the 15th-century style, and the walls are encased in modern ashlar. The south doorway was moved out with the aisle wall and the old porch re-erected before it. The roofs also were all renewed.
The east window has three lights, and in the north wall are two windows, one of two and the other of three lights. The fragment of the 13th-century piscina or sedile, the mutilated sill of which is only 16 in. above the floor, has in its east and only remaining jamb a pointed bowtel on a splay between two hollows with a moulded base and carved capital. The remaining stone of the arch shows that it was trefoiled, the mould being an edge roll between two hollows. It was probably destroyed to make room for the east jamb of the 15th-century arcade which is of two bays with a central octagonal column and low four-centred arches of two hollow-chamfered orders. The chancel arch is of the 14th century, with the exception of the sub-bases and a few stones in the arch. Its jambs are of three engaged shafts, separated by hollow chamfers, and having moulded bases and capitals. The arch is pointed and of two chamfered orders.
The eastern part of the south chapel is now used as a vestry and is lighted by a modern east window of two lights. It is entered by a modern south doorway, an older one to the east of it being blocked. The western half of the chapel, as now widened, forms an organ chamber; it has a three-light south window and a pointed segmental archway opens into it from the aisle.
There are three north windows in the nave. The south arcade is of four bays, with octagonal columns having moulded and embattled capitals and hollowchamfered bases; the arches are pointed. The three windows in the south wall are square-headed and each of three lights. In the internal face of this wall are set several 12th-century carved stones, one a piece of a lozenge moulding, another moulded with a pointed edge roll and hollows like the chancel piscina, and a third a capital with leaf carving. The 12th-century south doorway has jambs of two orders, the inner with an edge roll, the outer square with modern detached shafts in the angles, the capitals of which are old. The western capital is scalloped, the eastern carved with foliage. The arch is round and of two orders, the inner carved with 'beak heads' and the outer with zigzag ornament. The porch has an old outer archway with single chamfered jambs and a pointed segmental head of two hollow-chamfered orders. Above it is a niche with a trefoiled head running up into the stool of the modern gable cross. The angles of the porch are strengthened by diagonal buttresses, finishing above the parapet with crocketed pinnacles. In either side wall are three small rectangular lights. In the porch are set several 11th and 12th-century stones; one is a piece of a 'hog-back' stone, and there are two pieces of a cross shaft carved with interlacing pattern, and also a piece of a 12th-century scalloped capital.
The tower is of two stages and opens into the nave by an archway with an obtuse and almost halfround pointed head. The west window is of three lights divided by transoms embattled on the outside, all with three-centred plain heads. On the south side is a small pointed light in the lower stage. The bell-chamber is lighted by square-headed windows of two cinquefoiled lights divided by transoms. The angles of the tower are supported by diagonal buttresses of five stages, having on their main faces a peculiar triangular projection running from the plinth to the top offset. The parapet is embattled, with modern pinnacles at the corners.
There are three bells: the first by Mears, 1794; the second by Warner, 1890; and the third, dated 1700, with the inscription 'Fili dei miserere mei' and the initials i.w. w.m. w.r. and r.r. A bell which formerly hung in the tower and which was brought from Mount Grace Priory has since been broken up. Its crown is preserved in the foot of the tower and stands on a disused 18th-century font; it is inscribed 'Sancte Petre ora pro nobis,' with a cross and two shields; one shield is charged with cross keys between a rose and crown, sheaf, bell and a flagon and the other with a banner and initial m.
The church was from very early times in the possession of the Bishops of Durham, (fn. 139) the lords of the manor (q.v.). It was at some date before 1197 (fn. 140) divided into three prebends or portions, to which the bishop presented. (fn. 141) The prebendaries (fn. 142) performed the duties of the incumbent and shared the tithes and revenues of the church. (fn. 143) The value of one of the prebends is known to have been 14 marks in 1319, (fn. 144) when it was refused by William de la Mare 'as being of too little value and disturbed by conflicts.' (fn. 145) These 'conflicts' must have been the disputes which raged between the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Durham over the latter's churches in Yorkshire. (fn. 146) In 1322 William de Melton, then Archbishop of York, ordained a vicarage in the church, (fn. 147) appropriating its revenues to the three prebends, which thus became 'simple prebends' and free from 'service and cure' in the church. (fn. 148) The vicar had for his stipend £10 a year. (fn. 149)
The Bishops of Durham continued to present to the vicarage (fn. 150) until the patronage of the living was transferred in 1836 to the Bishop of Ripon. (fn. 151) In 1860 it was transferred to the Crown, and the Lord Chancellor is the present patron. (fn. 152)
The chapel at Thimbleby mentioned in 1247 (fn. 153) was probably the domestic chapel of the Colvills, for William Colvill had a grant of a chantry in his chapel there. (fn. 154) As the Colvills subsequently took up their residence at Arncliffe, (fn. 155) this chapel probably fell into decay. It is not again mentioned.
The domestic chapel at West Harlsey was attached to the castle. (fn. 156)