A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The parish of Wigginton is a long and narrow tract of ground in the forest of Galtres, a little to the north of York. The land is flat and the soil alluvial. The chief industry of the inhabitants is agriculture, and of the 1,900 acres covered by the parish nearly the whole is arable land now under cultivation. (fn. 1) Grain and roots are the crops which are chiefly grown.
A lane branches off from this high road to the east and becomes the village street of Wigginton when it nears the eastern boundary of the parish. It is called Mill Lane, though no mention of a mill has been found in the documents relating to the manor of Wigginton.
The main street of the village runs west and east, and at its east end is barely 300 yards from the village of Haxby. Parallel with the street on each side is a small Back Lane. St. Mary's Church, with the rectory, stands on the south side of the street, the houses in which are almost entirely modern.
To the north and west of the village is Wigginton Moor. It is divided into two parts by a lane running west from the village with the name of Corban. The two tracts were inclosed at different times, and are known as Old Inclosure and New Inclosure respectively. The only recorded Inclosure Act for Wigginton was passed in 1768–9. (fn. 2)
Before the Conquest WIGGINTON was held by Saxford the Deacon. It was granted in the 11th century to the cathedral church of St. Peter at York, (fn. 3) to which it belonged at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 4) There were then 3 carucates of land in the manor to be tilled by one plough, and some coppice wood. The whole was at that time lying waste. (fn. 5)
The manor remained part of the liberty of St. Peter throughout its history and was held of the dean and chapter. (fn. 6)
The first family who can be traced as tenants of the dean and chapter are the Askebys, who may possibly have some connexion with the neighbouring village of Haxby, if the Roger de Haxby (Haxeby) who held tenements here in the reign of Edward I (fn. 7) was a member of the same family.
In 1240 Hamo Jordan quitclaimed to Robert de Askeby the third part of a curtilage in Wigginton, (fn. 8) and Robert granted him in return other land in the same vill. Roger son of Hugh de Haxby was holding tenements here in the reign of Edward I. (fn. 9) In 1323 Robert de Askeby was lord of the manor, (fn. 10) of which one-third was held as dower by Margaret widow of Henry de Askeby, evidently the lord of the manor who had preceded him. (fn. 11) The other two parts were settled on Robert with remainder to his daughter and heir Margaret and her husband Hugh de Moresby (Moriceby). (fn. 12)
Hugh de Moresby, lord of Moresby in Cumberland, was a person of some importance in that county. (fn. 13) He was in possession of the manor of Wigginton in 1337. (fn. 14) At his death it was inherited by Christopher Moresby, probably his son. Christopher was succeeded by a son Christopher, (fn. 15) justice of the peace for Westmorland, (fn. 16) who held the manor of Wigginton in socage of the chapter of St. Peter's Monastery by a service of 20s. till he died in 1391. (fn. 17) He left a son and heir Christopher, aged eleven, (fn. 18) who was probably the Christopher Moresby mentioned as Sheriff of Cumberland in 1429. (fn. 19) A Christopher Moresby, possibly his son or grandson, died in possession in 1503, (fn. 20) leaving a daughter and heir Anne.
Anne was first the wife of James Pickering of Escrick and afterwards of Humphrey Coningsby. (fn. 21) By the first marriage she had a son Christopher Pickering, (fn. 22) whom she outlived; and her heir when she died in 1523 was her granddaughter Anne daughter of this Christopher, and about seven years old at the time of her grandmother's death. (fn. 23)
Later Anne Pickering married Sir Henry Knyvett (fn. 24) and carried Wigginton with her other estates into the Knyvett family. She sold the manor with others in 1541 to Henry VIII, (fn. 25) and her husband received for them a payment of £2,000. (fn. 26) Edward VI granted them back to Anne and Henry in 1548, (fn. 27) with remainder to Henry son and heir of Henry Knyvett and his heirs, Thomas the second son and his heirs, and then the right heirs of Anne. (fn. 28) After the death of Sir Henry, Anne Knyvett married (fn. 29) John Vaughan, with whom she executed a settlement of the manor in 1572 on herself with remainder to Henry Knyvett. (fn. 30)
She died in 1582, (fn. 31) and Wigginton seems to have passed to her younger son Thomas Knyvett, (fn. 32) who was in possession in 1601. In 1607 he was created Lord Knyvett of Escrick for his services in the discovery of Guy Fawkes's plot. (fn. 33) He died in 1622, (fn. 34) and his estates devolved upon his niece Catherine daughter of his elder brother Henry and wife of Thomas Howard first Earl of Suffolk, on whom they had been previously settled. (fn. 35) Her eighth and youngest son Sir Edward Howard was created Lord Howard of Escrick through the influence of the Duke of Buckingham in 1628, (fn. 36) and was in possession of the manor of Wigginton in 1651. (fn. 37)
In 1670 it was purchased from him by Christopher Hewley, draper and citizen of York. (fn. 38) He died a few days after the purchase, (fn. 39) and his second wife Anne daughter of Sir William Caley, bart., married as her second husband Francis Wyvill, and entered into possession of Christopher Hewley's estate in accordance, as she alleged, with his will. (fn. 40) His daughter Dorothy Hewley brought a writ of ejectment for a moiety of the lands as soon as she came of age, (fn. 41) and the case was given in her favour. (fn. 42) Her step-mother, however, obtained a decree in Chancery which secured her the estate for her life. Against this decree Dorothy Hewley made an appeal in 1690. (fn. 43) Her counsel said the will was made in the afternoon, and Christopher died at night, after being in a delirium two or three days. The decree was reversed in spite of the plea of Anne Wyvill that, 'though not in any way bound to do so, she gave up and secured to the Appellant and her sister £250 apiece . . . and also maintained and educated them until they were persuaded to leave her.' (fn. 44)
Anne Hewley, who had married Richard Wynne, and her sister Dorothy were in possession of the manor of Wigginton in 1692. (fn. 45) They put it into the hands of Sir John Hewley, a brother of Christopher Hewley, whom Dorothy had chosen for her guardian. (fn. 46) Subsequently Dorothy married first John Baines, and afterwards John Conyers, (fn. 47) and the whole of the manor seems to have come into her hands. Her son, who was called Hewley Baines after his mother's family, inherited it. (fn. 48) He was succeeded by his son the Rev. Hewley Baines, who with his wife Mary was in possession in 1761. (fn. 49) His son Hewley John Baines succeeded him in the next year, (fn. 50) and married Mary Mortimer. They had a son Hewley Mortimer Baines of Bell Hall, (fn. 51) who, when he died in 1874, was succeeded by his youngest and only surviving son William Mortimer Baines. (fn. 52) The latter was lord of the manor until 1899 when it was purchased by Mr. James Melrose, (fn. 53) the present owner.
A grant of free warren in Wigginton and elsewhere was made to Hugh de Moresby in 1337. (fn. 54)
The church of ST. MARY (formerly of St. Nicholas) is a small building erected in 1860 and consisting of an aisleless nave and quire, a north porch and a western bellcote containing two bells. The style is Gothic of the 13th century. There is no record of the appearance of the old building demolished in 1860, but a church was dedicated here in 1424 by the Bishop of Dromore. (fn. 55)
The plate consists of a cup (York, 1695) with the maker's initials W.B., a paten (London, 1753) inscribed 'Wiginton 1754' and a modern flagon, given in 1866. There are also two pewter plates and a flagon of the same material.
There was a chapel at Wigginton in the middle of the 13th century. (fn. 56) Like the manor, it was among the possessions of the cathedral church of St. Peter at York, and was assigned to the treasurer, (fn. 57) to whom a pension of 5s. was paid out of the parish. (fn. 58)
In 1247 the chapel was confirmed to Simon son of Master Richard de Arenhall 'as in the grant of Robert, the treasurer of York, who gave it to him.' (fn. 59) It must have returned to the possession of the treasurers, probably on the death of this grantee, for the advowson remained in their hands till the dissolution of the office. (fn. 60) In 1424 a commission was granted for the dedication of the church and churchyard. (fn. 61)
The treasurership of the cathedral of St. Peter was dissolved in 1547, the advowson of the rectory of Wigginton being then among its possessions. (fn. 62) The patronage passed to the Crown, and in the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Crown presented. (fn. 63)
In the reign of James I, however, the advowson appears in the hands of Thomas Knyvett, lord of the manor of Wigginton. (fn. 64) It is probable that he had a grant or lease of it, for it is first mentioned among his possessions just after he had been raised to the peerage for his services to the Crown. (fn. 65) It was held in 1631 and 1638 by Edward Lord Howard of Escrick, (fn. 66) to whom the manor descended, but whatever right the lords of the manor had in the advowson seems to have ended with him, for the Crown presented in 1688 (fn. 67) and has retained the patronage to the present day.
The poor and town's land consists of about 6 acres, producing £11 a year, the rents of which have been appropriated from time immemorial to the maintenance of a parish bull, and other parish purposes; and about 30s. distributed among the poor. In 1906, 6s. 8d. was paid for tithe, 30s. to ten deserving poor, and balance for the services of a bull.
In 1786 Ann Nicholson, by her will proved at York, bequeathed her residuary estate upon trust to be invested and the interest applied in the purchase of bread to be distributed amongst the poor attending divine service. The amount received was invested in £120 stock, to which in 1806 a sum of £25 derived under the will of John Lund was added. In 1904 the dividend on £145 consols, amounting to £3 12s. 6d., was distributed in bread to eight deserving people.