A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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Thormanby is a small parish 4 miles to the north of Easingwold. The surface is level, varying in height only from 103 ft. to 175 ft. above the ordnance datum. In the south is low-lying carr land. Sun Beck, Birdforth Beck and Ings Beck drain the land and separate Thormanby from Sessay, Birdforth and Carlton Husthwaite respectively.
The parish contains 1,002 acres, of which 454 are arable land and 383 grass. (fn. 1) The village consists of a few scattered houses and cottages cresting a rise on the main north road. The church stands in a bylane a short distance to the east. The rectory is slightly south-west from the church, and near it is a small Wesleyan chapel built in 1875. The Hall is the property of Lord Downe and the residence of Mrs. Knowlson. West of the village on Birdforth Beck is Thormanby Mill. According to tradition there was once a castle here. (fn. 2) It is also said that in the rebellion of the Earl of Northumberland in 1569 the royal forces encamped on Thormanby Carr on their way to Maiden Bower near Topcliffe. (fn. 3)
An Act for inclosing the common fields in Thormanby Carr was passed in 1781–2. (fn. 4) Thomas Whytehead, missionary and poet, fourth son of Henry Robert Whytehead, curate of Thormanby, was born here in 1815. (fn. 5)
The soil is light and sandy; much of the land is alluvial, but part lies upon middle and lower lias. Wheat, barley, potatoes, turnips and oats are the chief crops. The Thirsk and Malton branch of the North Eastern railway passes through the parish, but there is no station here.
In the time of Edward the Confessor 1½ carucates of land in Thormanby were soke of Easingwold. After the Conquest this land was held with Easingwold by the Crown, (fn. 6) and afterwards formed part of the manor of Raskelf (q.v.). With Raskelf it was in the fee of Aschetil de Bulmer, and 2 carucates were held by his successors the Nevills, lords of Raskelf and of Sheriff Hutton (fn. 7) (q.v.). Thormanby seems to have been part of the settlement made on Joan Countess of Westmorland. (fn. 8) She died in 1440, (fn. 9) leaving a younger son William Nevill, who was created Earl of Kent by Edward IV after the battle of Towton. (fn. 10) His daughter and co-heir Elizabeth married Sir Richard Strangwayes, and left an only daughter and heir Joan, who married Sir Ranulf Pigot of Clotherholme. (fn. 11) He died in 1503 seised of the manor of Thormanby, which he held in chief as of the manor of Raskelf; his heirs were Margaret, Joan and Elizabeth, the three daughters of his brother Thomas Pigot. (fn. 12) One of Sir Ranulf's executors was his uncle by marriage, Sir John Norton of Norton Conyers, and the Norton family appear, perhaps under settlement, to have obtained this manor. (fn. 13) Edmund Norton, greatgreat-grandson of Sir John, (fn. 14) in 1561 granted the advowson of Thormanby Church to William Cayley, (fn. 15) and in 1585 Henry Norton and Joan his wife alienated the manor of Thormanby to Thomas Basforth, (fn. 16) who already held a capital messuage there. (fn. 17) He died in 1586, his co-heirs being his two sisters, Elizabeth wife of George Frere and Joan wife of William Tankard. (fn. 18) In 1588 the sisters held the manor of Thormanby, their tenant for certain lands and messuages being George Staveley, (fn. 19) son of William Staveley. (fn. 20) He died in March 1587–8, leaving a son Richard. (fn. 21) Elizabeth Frere died soon afterwards, and in 1590–1 and 1597 respectively William Tankard and Joan his wife and Henry Frere son of Elizabeth disposed of their moieties of the manor of Thormanby to Richard Staveley. (fn. 22) Richard died in 1619 seised of the manor and a capital messuage called Thormanby Hall; he was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 23) then aged twenty-six. In 1623 and 1625 William and Thomas Staveley made conveyances of portions of their Thormanby property. (fn. 24) William was alive in 1645, when complaint was made against him by the poor of Thormanby in respect of £5 payable to them for Carlton Close, part of his inheritance. (fn. 25) The will of William Staveley of Thormanby was proved in 1657, the administrator being his nephew and next-of-kin, Richard Staveley. (fn. 26)
The manor was afterwards in the hands of Sarah Tolson and Elizabeth Vincent, and at Lady Day 1721 became a possession of the Dawnay family. (fn. 27) It has since followed the descent of the manor of Sessay, and is now the property of Viscount Downe.
A capital messuage in Thormanby appears to have passed to the Crown with Raskelf (q.v.), which was leased by Henry VIII in 1544 to Thomas Basforth, (fn. 28) for in 1545 he held a capital messuage in Thormanby as of the manor of Raskelf. (fn. 29) Thomas was succeeded apparently by his brother (fn. 30) Ralph Basforth, who was in possession in 1553, (fn. 31) and is mentioned in 1556 as a free tenant of the manor of Raskelf. (fn. 32) Ralph's will was proved 26 April 1559, and he was buried in that year at Thormanby. (fn. 33) He left a son Thomas, (fn. 34) who in 1585 acquired the manor of Thormanby. (fn. 35) He died in 1586 seised of 'a capital messuage called Thormanby Hall,' (fn. 36) which afterwards followed the descent of the manor.
In the 16th and 17th centuries frequent mention is made of a water-mill, an appurtenance of this manor. (fn. 37)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN is a small building consisting of a chancel 20¼ ft. by 14 ft. with north vestry, nave 26¼ ft. by 17¾ ft., a west tower and a south porch. The measurements are all internal.
The nave and the side walls of the chancel are substantially of 12th-century date, and the former was apparently at first aisleless. A north aisle was added about 1200, and during the succeeding century the east end of the chancel was rebuilt. In the 15th century a priest's door was inserted in the south chancel wall and other small alterations made. At some period subsequent to the Reformation the north aisle was taken down and the arcade built up; the south porch was probably added in the 18th century. The existing brick tower was built in 1822, and later alterations include the erection of the north vestry and the chancel arch.
The chancel has a restored two-light east window. In the south wall are a square-headed two-light window, a priest's door and a low-side window, all now blocked. The door is of the 15th century, but the external head and jambs are restored. The chancel arch is modern, but the roof in two bays is largely ancient. It has curved ribs to the principals and old purlins, but the boarding is modern.
The nave has two arches formerly opening into an aisle, built up in the north wall. They are pointed and rest on a cylindrical pier with bell capital and square abacus of about 1190–1200. In the south wall are a plain two-light window of recent date and a square-headed south door. The roof has old tie-beams and principal rafters and is in three bays. The south wall with the side walls of the chancel has a 12th-century chamfered plinth, which remains also immediately to the east of the north aisle respond. The 13th-century east wall has a deeper plinth. The red brick tower, built in 1822, is two stages high with pinnacles at the angles. The bells are inaccessible except by ladder. The south porch has small loops on either side and an oak lintel to the outer doorway.
The font has an octagonal bowl moulded round the upper edge and chamfered back below. It probably dates from the 14th century. The pulpit and reading desk are made up of late 17th-century panelling, probably old pews. Set in the north wall is a slab with an incised floreated calvary cross and beside it a sword. On a second slab forming the threshold of the porch is a chalice.
The plate consists of a small 17th-century cup with an engraved ornament round the bowl inscribed 'Given in exchange 31,' a cover paten which does not fit the cup, a paten (London, 1782), the gift of the Rev. William Whytehead, 1807, a glass cruet with silver mounts (London, 1884), given in 1886 by Emily Higginson, and a very large pewter flagon with the cover lost (late 17th century) inscribed 'I H S Thormanby Robt. Nicholson fecit.'
Bertram de Bulmer (temp. Stephen) founded the priory of Marton for Augustinian canons and nuns. (fn. 38) He probably gave to it the church of Thormanby, for on the removal of the nuns to Moxby the church was given to that priory. (fn. 39) In 1234 the patronage was in dispute between Emma de Humez, Bertram's daughter, and the Prioress of Moxby; it was agreed that the prioress should present two clerks in succession, the first of whom was instituted in that year. (fn. 40) In 1275 Robert de Nevill, great-grandson of Emma de Humez, (fn. 41) presented to the church, (fn. 42) and in 1281 the Prioress of Moxby presented. (fn. 43) Eight years later Ranulph de Nevill claimed against the prioress the right of presentation to this church. 'He subsequently came and granted that the prioress might present this time, but saving his right if he should wish to take future proceedings.' (fn. 44) In 1302 the prioress in her turn claimed the advowson against Ranulph, who admitted the claim. 'The sheriff said that the prioress presented the last parson, and that she had purchased the advowson to hold to herself and her successors thirty years before.' (fn. 45) In 1346 the priory obtained a papal mandate for the appropriation of the church, a vicar's portion being reserved. (fn. 46) Perhaps owing to the divided patronage the appropriation was not completed. (fn. 47) The advowson is not mentioned among the spiritualities of the priory at the Dissolution, but a pension of 13s. 4d. was paid at that date from the rectory to the priory. (fn. 48) After the Dissolution the advowson remained in moieties, one of which has followed throughout the descent of the manor (q.v.). The moiety late of Marton Priory also apparently passed to the holders of the manor, (fn. 49) but has a separate history, for in 1561 it was granted by Edmund Norton to William Cayley, (fn. 50) who in January 1578–9 conveyed it to feoffees to the use of his son Edward Cayley. (fn. 51) In 1615 Edward Cayley and Richard Staveley made a joint presentation to the church, (fn. 52) and on his death in 1619 Richard Staveley was seised of half the advowson. (fn. 53) The living has since been in the alternate gift of the Cayley and Dawnay families.
In 1586 Thomas Basforth, by will, devised a close called Carlton Close in Birdforth to the Mayor and citizens of York, subject to the annual payment of £5 to be applied in buying wool to be worked into cloth for sale, the proceeds to be distributed to the poor of Thormanby. The payment is made by Lord Downe of Wykeham Abbey.
In 1695 Guy Lancaster, by will, charged a house, garth and close in the parish and a close called Toft Ing in Easingwold with the sum of 10s. a year, to be distributed among the poor on Easter Tuesday. The annual payment is received from Mr. George Dodsworth of Leeds.