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 is coterminous with the township of Sneaton, the area of which, including the hamlet of Sneaton Thorpe, is 4,848 acres. An Inclosure Act was passed in 1802. (fn. 1) The subsoil is Inferior Oolite, the soils various, the chief crops wheat, oats and pasture. Stone is worked, and there are saw-mills.
The River Esk, the northern boundary which separates the parish from Whitby, is joined by Buskey Beck, the western boundary, and by Shawm Rigg's Beck, which is part of the eastern boundary. Rigg Mill Beck forms the eastern boundary as far as its source at Soulsgrave Slack on Sneaton Low Moor. Rigg Mill, a picturesque ruin beside a waterfall in a wood, is possibly the 'Agge Milne' of the 11th century. (fn. 2) Close to the western boundary are Windmill Hill Plantation and Pokeham Brow. South-west is Sneaton High Moor (reaching 966 ft. above the ordnance datum) with Foster Howes and Robbed Howe (fn. 3) on the Pickering Lythe boundary. Below these is York Cross.
The church of St. Hilda is in the middle of the village. The public elementary school was erected in 1825. The village, which stands very high, overlooking Whitby and the sea, consists of whitewashed red-tiled cottages placed irregularly on each side of two roads which descend to meet a third road; at the junction are two old farms facing each other, one being the manor-house. Mr. John Falkingham Wilson lives at Sneaton Hall.
The parish was not taxed in 1428 because there were not ten inhabitants having domiciles. (fn. 4)
In 1086 SNEATON, where 5 carucates of land were at geld, (fn. 5) was a berewick of Whitby (q.v.); it was granted by the founder to Whitby Abbey. (fn. 6) The abbots continued to be overlords, (fn. 7) and the Cholmleys, their successors in the ownership of Whitby manor and liberty, received a quit-rent at the close of the 18th century. (fn. 8)
The Arundels were the under-tenants. To John de Arundel, whose father preceded him in these parts, (fn. 9) Benedict Abbot of Whitby (1139–48) (fn. 10) confirmed the chapel. (fn. 11) John, therefore, presumably held the manor. Reginald de Arundel of Sneaton appears in the next generation, (fn. 12) and was perhaps a younger brother of the William de Arundel who held a knight's fee of William de Percy in Yorkshire in 1166. (fn. 13) This knight's fee must have been in Foston-on-the-Wolds, which belonged to William de Arundel in the time of King John. (fn. 14) The elder branch evidently enfeoffed the younger in Sneaton, as the former were afterwards mesne lords. William de Arundel left a brother and heir Roger, a justice, (fn. 15) whose heirs were the descendants of his sisters Maud and Agnes and possibly of another sister Cecily. Maud had daughters Euphemia and Alice, the former being mother of William le Constable of Flamborough. Agnes married a Hotham or Holme and was mother of Thomas de Hotham or Holme. (fn. 16) In 1221 William Constable, John de Belvoir (Beauver), Thomas de Hotham, Nicholas de Ainsty and Thomas de Birkin, co-heirs of Roger de Arundel, made fine for his lands. (fn. 17)
William Constable and John de Belvoir quitclaimed their share of services from the Sneaton under-tenant to Richard de Percy. (fn. 18) In 1279–81 Thomas de Hotham's grandson (fn. 19) John sued the under-tenant for services.' (fn. 20) The Birkins also retained their share, (fn. 21) but these mesne tenancies are not again mentioned.
A John de Arundel, who was perhaps the eldest son of the Reginald mentioned above, (fn. 22) and so possibly nephew of the mesne lord, was tenant of the manor in the reign of Richard I and left a daughter and heir Joan. (fn. 23) Joan seems to have first married Robert Engeram (fn. 24); she ultimately married Roger de Nevill, (fn. 25) by whom she had a son and heir John. (fn. 26) John's sons William and John died childless and his daughter Joan succeeded. Joan married first William de Upsall and secondly William son of William de Percy of Kildale. (fn. 27) Her son by her second marriage, Alexander de Percy, (fn. 28) came of age in 1302. (fn. 29) He was lord of Ormesby (fn. 30) (q.v.), with which Sneaton descended until in 1602 Strangways Bradshaw conveyed it to George Bolles, sen., Joan his wife and others. (fn. 31) It descended with Ugglebarnby (fn. 32) from 1604 until 1752, (fn. 33) when in the partition of the Bolles estates it was assigned to William Wilson, Elizabeth his wife and their daughters Catherine and Elizabeth. (fn. 34) In 1802 the lord of the manor was Jonathan Myles, who was resident here in 1806. (fn. 35) It was purchased in 1820 by Col. James Wilson, M.P. of Sneaton, and passed to his daughter Mary wife of Joseph Barker Richardson (who died in 1875). (fn. 36) In 1907 his son Col. James Wilson Richardson, sold it to Mr. Edward Brooksbank of Healaugh Manor, Tadcaster, (fn. 37) the present owner.
In January 1306–7 a controversy arose between the Abbot and convent of Whitby and Sir Alexander de Percy, kt., as to the services which he owed them for this manor. Alexander agreed to do the same services as his predecessors, viz., he was to pay 1 mark for the manor and half a mark for the meadow called the Newenge; he was to do suit at the abbot's three weeks court at Whitby, and the service of finding thirty men to reap the land of the abbot in the field of Larpool and one man for the custody of their baskets for one day in autumn every year at the repast of the abbot and convent once in the day, notice being given the evening before at the manor; finally he was to perform the service of making the horngarth, (fn. 38) which proved military tenure. (fn. 39)
The church of ST. HILDA was completely rebuilt in 1823 by James Wilson of Sneaton Castle. The present structure is a poor example of the style which passed for Gothic in the early 19th century. It consists of a nave of four bays, a shallow chancel, south porch and western tower. The windows are 'perpendicular' in character, the eastern having three lights, and the chancel arch is fitted with pierced and traceried wood framing. The tower at the west end has an octagonal lantern capped by a short pyramidal spire, and contains three bells only accessible by ladder. On the south porch and also within the church are carvings of the Wilson arms.
The font, a survival from the old building, is a massive square bowl of early 12th-century date, with attached shafts at the angles. The faces are ornamented with cheverons and volutes rudely incised in the stone. There is some reason to suppose that the latter form of ornament, of which there are several instances in the neighbourhood of Whitby, is a representation of St. Hilda's serpents.
The plate consists of a cup and cover, the latter dated 1572 and bearing the London mark for 1570, a flagon (1694) inscribed, 'Ex dono Chr Wright 1695,' and a plated paten mentioned in an inventory of 1764. In addition to these there are a flagon and paten of pewter, the former evidently of the same period as the silver flagon.
The chapel of St. Hilda was one of the chapels of Whitby granted to the abbey by the founder. (fn. 40) It was held in the 12th century by the Arundels, (fn. 41) and descended with the manor until 1290, when William son of William de Percy of Kildale and Joan his wife and her heirs gave the advowson to Whitby Abbey with a messuage and 10 acres of land in Sneaton, the abbot promising to find a chaplain to celebrate mass in the chapel for them and their heirs. (fn. 42) Alexander de Percy quitclaimed all right in 1310. (fn. 43) Doubt arose as to the right of patronage after the Dissolution. Henry Strangways presented in 1579 for that turn, (fn. 44) but the advowson has since been retained by the Crown. (fn. 45) The living is a rectory. The first rector was presented in 1148, (fn. 46) when it was enacted that burials were to be made in Whitby parish churchyard, except in the case of the lord of the vill and the rector, who might be buried in the abbey church. (fn. 47)
In 1699 the Rev. Christopher Wright, rector of the parish, by his will left the sum of 10s. to be paid yearly on St. Thomas's Day out of his houses in Church Street, Whitby (now numbered 177 and 178), to be distributed to the poor of Sneaton.
The poor are also entitled to one-third of the income of Richard Chapman's charity (see township of Sleights). In 1906 9s. 11d. was received and applied with the 10s. rent-charge in doles to four poor women.
In 1884 George Trattle Knaggs by will proved at York 11 July gave to the rector and churchwardens £20 upon trust to be invested, and the income applied, subject to the repairs of the monument therein mentioned, towards repairs and lighting of the parish church. The sum of £20 has been deposited in the savings bank.