A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The ecclesiastical parish comprised in 1831 the townships of Asenby, Baldersby, Catton, Dalton, Dishforth, Elmire with Crakehill, Marton-le-Moor, Rainton with Newby, Skipton-upon-Swale and Topcliffe. All these are now separate civil parishes; and Baldersby (now including Rainton with Newby), Dishforth, Marton-le-Moor and Skipton (which includes Catton) have since been constituted distinct ecclesiastical parishes.
The soil of this district is loam on a subsoil in part of Keuper Marls; alluvium also occurs. The area of the parish, with all the hamlets, is rather over 16,564 acres; 8,113 of these are arable and 414 wood. (fn. 1) The inhabitants are mainly engaged in agriculture, wheat, barley, oats and turnips being the chief crops grown. The general elevation is undulating but low, seldom rising more than 100 ft. above the ordnance datum except in the west corner of the township of Marton-le-Moor, where it reaches 200 ft. in a few places. Some of the low ground sloping down to the Swale and Cod Beck is liable to floods.
There are villages or hamlets in all these townships except Elmire with Crakehill and Newby. Apart from Topcliffe, which is more considerable, they consist of small groups of houses, with churches at 'Baldersby St. James' (more than a mile to the southeast of Baldersby village), Dalton, Dishforth, Martonle-Moor and Skipton. There are Wesleyan chapels at Dalton, Dishforth, Rainton and Skipton, as well as at Topcliffe, a Primitive Methodist chapel at Dalton, and a Baptist chapel at Dishforth.
Baldersby Park, the residence of Mr. John Brennand, was formerly called Newby Park and is situated in the township of Rainton with Newby. The extent of the park is about 200 acres, and it is well wooded and stocked with fallow deer.
The ancient road known as Leeming Lane forms the western boundary of the parish, while the main road from York through Boroughbridge to Northallerton and the north crosses the Swale by Topcliffe Bridge. A wooden bridge was certainly built here before 1227, when a royal mandate was issued for four oaks from the forest of Galtres for the bridge, which was then broken down. (fn. 2) It was probably by this same 'Bridge of Tymbre' that Leland entered the place. (fn. 3) The bridge was a favourite rendezvous for Parliamentarian troops in the Civil War, as thence they might 'divide either to Carlisle or Newcastle or to both.' (fn. 4) In 1640, when the Scots were advancing south, 12,800 men were 'lodged betwixt York and Topcliff Bridge.' (fn. 5) When there was a talk of insurrection in 1663 the rebels were said to have chosen this as their meeting-place and to have marched thence to Northallerton with 'Freedom' as their password. (fn. 6) The place, indeed, probably owed its origin as well as its importance to the crossing of the river.
The village would seem to have been originally built round a market-square, on the west and river side of which is the fine old church of St. Columba. The main road from the bridge enters by the southwest corner of this square and leaves it on its way to Northallerton by the northern angle. This original plan is now, however, obscured by the erection of blocks of houses on the central part of the square. Some trace of the original arrangement remains in that the fair is held all over the village, though naturally the greater part of the stalls are pitched on the cobbled space facing the south side of the square where are the remains of the old market cross. The fair took its origin from a grant which Edward III in 1327 gave to Henry de Percy for the vigil, day and morrow of the Translation of St. Thomas, (fn. 7) and for a weekly market on Wednesdays. The market days were on Thursdays and Fridays in 1792, (fn. 8) but are now abandoned. Fairs are now held on 17, 18 and 19 July. The first day is devoted to the sale of sheep, the second is a good horse fair and the third day is 'Lady Fair' when 'the lads take their girls round to the sweet and trinket stalls which supply fairings.' Until recently 'bough-houses' invited custom by displaying a green branch above their doors. During this fair two men appointed by the lord of the manor parade the streets to keep order; one carries an ancient halberd, the other a pike.
A road runs east from the south-east corner of the square for about half a mile to Gallows Green, where the lord's gallows stood in the woods in the 13th century. (fn. 9) Until recently the green was an open common on which gipsies encamped at fair-time, but it has now been inclosed. At Gallows Green the road forks, one branch going north by east to Thirsk, the other in an easterly direction to Dalton and Sessay. This second branch crosses the Cod Beck at Dalton Bridge about three-quarters of a mile from Topcliffe; just beyond the bridge, near a farm-house called Manor Lodge, a road goes towards the south through Elmire and Crakehill, passing near the present Manor House, a modern farm-house standing on the opposite side of the Cod Beck to the site of Cock Lodge. There are traces of old foundations in the orchard of this farm and the grass is raised into a kind of terrace.
The road from Topcliffe to Thirsk passes the old Tollbooth, which stands at the south-east corner of the square. A flight of stone steps leads to a chamber in the upper story, where the lord of the manor still holds his courts leet. In this chamber is an old oak table upon which tradition (probably incorrect) asserts that the 'ransom' of Charles I was paid to the Scots. About 150 yards beyond the Tollbooth Winn Lane leads, at right angles to the main road, to a field called Manor Wood, where is the site of Cock Lodge, about three-quarters of a mile south-east of the village. Charles I dined at Topcliffe on 11 May 1646 on his way north with the Scots, and took leave of Sir Henry Slingsby there. (fn. 10)
It has been suggested that a stronghold was raised here in the time of the Conqueror. (fn. 11) However this may be, it is known that in 1174 Geoffrey Bishop-elect of Lincoln fortified a castle here in support of his father, Henry II, (fn. 12) and as a rival to Mowbray's fortress of Thirsk. Geoffrey gave the custody to William de Stutevill and in the time of the war (tempore werre) spent £7 10s. 2d. in building and strengthening it. (fn. 13) Little is known of the history of this castle, but the earthworks now known as Maiden's Bower show that it was of the mount and bailey type. Edward III spent a few hours here in August 1333. (fn. 14) The old castle, which probably never had any masonry defences, was superseded by a manor-place, called Cock Lodge, slightly to the north-west of the older site. It was here that Henry fourth Earl of Northumberland was killed. He had made himself unpopular in Yorkshire by his betrayal of Richard III, and met with resistance in levying a tax in 1489. He sent for help, but a mob collected and on 28 April marched on Cock Lodge. The earl was the first man to be slain. (fn. 15) This was a favourite home of the unfortunate Henry Earl of Northumberland. (fn. 16) Leland describes it simply as 'the praty manor place of Topclif,' which, he says, 'stondith on a hille about half a mile from the toune, almost on the ripe of the Swale.' (fn. 17)
Topcliffe Parks lie in the north of the parish and on either side of the highway to Northallerton, in this part called the New Road; previous to the making of this the way followed the course of the Swale for some distance, then bearing to the right. The park is first mentioned in 1314, (fn. 18) and ten years later (fn. 19) poachers were active, as they were in 1332 and 1344. (fn. 20) The names of Moskerry or Moskwith and of Berbelond were applied to these parks in the 14th and 15th centuries, (fn. 21) but in the 16th century these names had disappeared and the Great and Little Parks are mentioned. The office of forester of the Moskwith or Great Park was hereditary in the 15th century. Joscelin de Topcliffe left a daughter and heir Beatrice, who married Adam the Forester, and lived at the beginning of the 14th century. (fn. 22) Their eldest son Alan died without issue and was succeeded by his brother Richard, who left daughters and co-heirs, Maud and Christina. (fn. 23) Christina widow of William Berkesworth was succeeded in office by her daughter Margaret, who left daughters and co-heirs. Isabel the younger in 1454 quitclaimed to her sister Elizabeth and her husband Oliver Stockdale her right in the office, (fn. 24) which carried with it a house, two gardens, an orchard, considerable land in the park, housebote and haybote. (fn. 25) Christopher Stockdale was parker at his death in 1554, when he left a son and heir Anthony. (fn. 26) Anthony Stockdale held land of the manor of Topcliffe in 1557, (fn. 27) and was succeeded by his infant son Richard. Richard with Ellen his wife sold the office with its appurtenants in 1599 to Edmund Norton for £200. (fn. 28) Richard Norton was keeper of the Little Park in 1539 (fn. 29) and Edmund Norton was made under-keeper by Henry Johnson, son and heir of Sir Thomas Johnson, (fn. 30) to whom Henry VIII gave a lease of the herbage in 1537. (fn. 31) At this date the herbage was valued at £10 (fn. 32) yearly, but in a further grant of 1542 the herbage of 'Haverlaunde' within the park was especially reserved for the support of the deer. (fn. 33) Among the fees received by royal officers in 1607 were £6 13s. 4d. to the steward and master of the game here, £6 1s. 8d. to the keeper of the great park and 6s. 8d. to the paler of both parks. (fn. 34)
Among the incumbents of the parish were Robert Darley Waddelove, afterwards Dean of Ripon, who lived from 1736 to 1828, (fn. 35) and William Henry Dixon, an antiquary, who lived from 1783 to 1854. (fn. 36)
Asenby contains 1,178 acres and lies on the south bank of the Swale. The village street lies just off the road from Northallerton to Boroughbridge on the east. On a small hill at the south end of the village there was an elaborate maze cut in the turf, but it has become obliterated during the last few years. (fn. 37) The land is generally low, rising to its greatest height at Sheephills (fn. 38); it is not, however, without charm, and the view over the Swale from the gravel-pits east of the village may be especially mentioned.
Elmire with Crakehill occupies the most easterly portion of the parish, scattered farms—for there are no villages—covering 995 acres. Close to the Swale lies the Chapel Garth, possibly that messuage and close called Watergarths granted as a possession of the late chantry of Elmire to Richard Okeham in 1560. (fn. 39) In a field to the south of this are traces of a considerable building. Crakehill Farm lies south by east and near the parish boundary.
The modern parish of Dishforth contains 1,764½ acres and lies south of Rainton and east of Leeming Lane, which forms its western boundary. The village is built along the road from Boroughbridge to Northallerton and contains a number of substantial 18th-century stone and brick houses. A farm-house on the west side of the street has two large early 17th-century ashlar-faced chimney stacks with numerous offsets. On the same side is the Crown Inn, a late 17th-century stone building with a gable towards the street. At the northern end of the wide village street is the Grange. The church stands on an island in the midst of the street. In a garden in the village are a stone figure of Atlas supporting the world and an early cross supposed to have come originally from Topcliffe Church. Place-names of 1639 are Westend, Moreflat, Autrystone and Stonecausey. (fn. 40)
Catton, a township covering 842 acres, lies close to the east bank of the Swale, which here runs almost due north. The village is reached from Topcliffe station and the Northallerton road by a lane which runs across Catton Moor, and is further west termed Caldron, and later Sandycap Lane. Catton Hall, the residence of Mr. Henry Rob, lies beside the road to Skipton and is surrounded by a park which is bounded on the north by the railway line.
Skipton lies still further north; the road from Catton enters the village from the south and passes Skipton Old Hall and Skipton Hall before reaching the village street. The old hall stands at the south end of the village and is a picturesque ivy-covered building of red brick dating from the end of the 17th century. It faces west and is rectangular on plan, with two projecting wings to the front and the tiled roof has a deep wooden cornice to the eaves. Between the ground and first floors is a moulded brick string-course. The south wing is now disused and turned into outbuildings. It is roofed with stone slabs. At the western end of the street lies Skipton Bridge. This is first mentioned in 1368, (fn. 41) when it is said to have replaced a ford of which the lord of Topcliffe had had the profits. There was, however, still a ferry here in 1389. (fn. 42) The mediaeval chapel must have stood near the Swale, (fn. 43) but it has long disappeared, and Skipton had no church until the Misses Elsley built St. John's at the north-east end of the village in 1842. The Wesleyan Methodist chapel dates from 1811.
TOPCLIFFE has been identified with Taddenesscylfe, (fn. 44) where in 947 Archbishop Wulfstan and all the Northumbrian Witan took an oath of allegiance to King Eadred. (fn. 45) In the reign of Edward the Confessor it belonged to Bernulf, (fn. 46) but after the Conquest it was granted to William de Percy, (fn. 47) and became for many generations the chief seat of the family of Percy in the North Riding. The descent of the manor is, with some intervals, the same as that of the family until the middle of the 18th century. Besides over eighty lordships in Yorkshire, (fn. 48) William de Percy obtained extensive property in Lincolnshire (fn. 49) and other counties. Topcliffe together with 4 berewicks at the time of the Domesday Survey (fn. 50) was assessed at 26 carucates. The first William de Percy, or 'les gernuns,' died in 1096, and was succeeded by his son Alan, who was succeeded by another William (fn. 51); after this the pedigree of the family during the 12th and early 13th centuries is very confused and the authorities contradict one another. This last William, however, is generally said to be that William de Percy who founded Handale Abbey in 1133, (fn. 52) took part in the battle of the Standard in 1138, (fn. 53) and founded the abbey of Sawley in 1147. (fn. 54) He married Alice de Tunbridge as his first wife (fn. 55) and had several children. (fn. 56) All his sons probably died in their infancy except Alan, who was living in 1147, (fn. 57) but predeceased his father and was succeeded by his two sisters, Maud and Agnes. Maud, who married the Earl of Warwick, died without issue and Agnes became the sole heir. She married Josceline de Louvain, half-brother of Queen Adeliza, the second wife of Henry I. (fn. 58) The frequently accepted tradition that Josceline took the surname of Percy on his marriage has been shown to be erroneous, (fn. 59) although his descendants were known by that name. Agnes de Percy had at least four sons, of whom Henry seems to have been the eldest and Richard the youngest, (fn. 60) although Richard occurs in some of the evidences as the 'son and heir' of Agnes. (fn. 61) Henry died before his mother, and, though he left a son William (then a minor), nearly the whole barony of Percy was usurped by his brother Richard. (fn. 62) In 1204 Richard de Percy had livery of all the lands which had belonged to his mother Agnes, (fn. 63) and those which his aunt Maud Countess of Warwick held of the fee of Chester. He was one of the barons who took part against King John and was among the twenty-five who were appointed to enforce the observance of Magna Carta. (fn. 64) He and his nephew seem to have had many disputes. (fn. 65) In 1218 it was agreed that the manor of Topcliffe, among others, should remain to Richard and his heirs. (fn. 66) The final compromise, however, was not made until 1234, (fn. 67) when it was settled that the patrimony of the Percys should be divided between Richard and William during Richard's life and at his death should devolve upon William with a small reservation for Richard's son Henry. (fn. 68) In 1244 William nephew and heir of Richard de Percy did homage for Richard's lands, (fn. 69) but he died in the following year (fn. 70) and was succeeded by his son Henry, who died in 1272. (fn. 71) In the return of 1284–5 Henry's son John (fn. 72) appears as the lord of the manor of Topcliffe, (fn. 73) but this return must have been made just before or just after his death without issue, as in 1284 he is said to have been succeeded by his younger brother Henry, (fn. 74) who had livery of his lands when he came of age in 1294. (fn. 75) His son Henry (fn. 76) in 1335 obtained licence to settle the manor of Topcliffe on himself and his heirs. (fn. 77) In 1405, after the rebellion of Henry Percy first Earl of Northumberland, grandson of the last named Henry, the manor was granted to the king's son John and his heirs, (fn. 78) but the earl's grandson was restored to his dignities in 1414. (fn. 79) At his death in 1455 he was seised of the manor of Topcliffe. (fn. 80) His son and heir Henry third Earl of Northumberland fought for King Henry and was slain at the battle of Towton. He was in consequence attainted in the subsequent Parliament and all his honours forfeited, and in 1462 the manor of Topcliffe was granted to Richard Nevill Earl of Warwick, (fn. 81) whose son John was created Earl of Northumberland in 1464 or 1465. This dignity was, however, cancelled in 1469, (fn. 82) and Henry Percy's honours and lands were restored in 1470 to his son Henry, who was murdered in 1489. (fn. 83) His grandson, called 'Henry the Unthrifty,' (fn. 84) died without children in 1537. His heir was his nephew, the son of his brother Thomas, but this Thomas, having been attainted, was considered incapable of transmitting his brother's honours, (fn. 85) and, although the earl had made over his property to the Crown with a view to its ultimate restoration to the family, (fn. 86) it was not until 1557 that a great part of it was regranted to his nephew Thomas Percy. (fn. 87)
In 1543 the manor of Topcliffe was conferred upon Edward Archbishop of York, (fn. 88) but it was returned to the king by his successor in exchange for other property in 1545. (fn. 89) In 1552 the manor was granted to John Dudley Earl of Warwick, who had been created Duke of Northumberland in 1551. (fn. 90) He was attainted, however, in 1553, and in August 1557 Topcliffe was restored to Thomas Percy, who had been created Earl of Northumberland, with a special remainder to his brother, in the previous May. (fn. 91) Under Elizabeth the earl joined in the conspiracy of 1569 (fn. 92) and was beheaded at York in 1572. By his attainder the ancient barony of Percy, the barony of Poynings (which had been brought to Henry Percy, afterwards third Earl of Northumberland, by his wife in 1456), (fn. 93) and the earldom of Northumberland became forfeited, but the honours conferred on him in 1557 were saved by the special remainder in their creation and devolved upon his brother Henry. This earl was suspected of plotting in favour of Mary Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in the Tower, and was found dead in his bed from a pistol shot, supposed to have been self-inflicted, in 1585. (fn. 94) He was seised of the manor of Topcliffe, which descended to his son Henry, (fn. 95) the unfortunate earl who was suspected of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot, though probably with no other foundation than his relationship to Sir Thomas Percy, who had a chief part in it. An enormous fine was imposed upon him and he was imprisoned in the Tower for more than fifteen years. In 1621 he was at last released, and in 1628 received a confirmation of his barony of Percy. (fn. 96) He spent the last years of his life chiefly at Petworth in Sussex. (fn. 97) He died seised of the manor of Topcliffe in 1632, leaving as his heir a son Algernon, (fn. 98) who at his death in 1668 was succeeded by his only son Joscelin, who died in 1670. (fn. 99) The latter left an only daughter Elizabeth, who in 1682 married Charles Seymour Duke of Somerset. Their son Algernon, who became Duke of Somerset in 1748, was in the next year created Lord Warkworth, Earl of Northumberland, Lord Cockermouth and Earl of Egremont, with special remainders in default of male issue. He died in 1750, leaving an only daughter Elizabeth the wife of Sir Hugh Smithson, bart., and a great dispersion of his titles took place. (fn. 100) The earldom of Egremont and barony of Cockermouth went to his nephew Sir Charles Wyndham, bart., (fn. 101) who acquired the manor of Topcliffe, which descended to his son George Earl of Egremont. (fn. 102) He died unmarried in 1837, (fn. 103) having settled this manor and many other lands on his eldest illegitimate son George Wyndham, who in 1859 was created Lord Leconfield. He died in 1869 and was succeeded by his son Henry; on his death in 1901 the estate passed to his eldest surviving son Charles Henry, the present Lord Leconfield.
Very full regalities seem to have been claimed by the lords of the manor; in 1276 it was said that the bailiff of Topcliffe would not permit the royal bailiff to enter his liberties in the exercise of his office, (fn. 104) while Henry de Percy had had his gallows here for the last fifty years. (fn. 105) Court leet and view of frankpledge are mentioned in 1551, (fn. 106) while the fishing rights granted to John Morton in 1571 (fn. 107) once belonged to the lords of the manor. (fn. 108)
In 1086 ASENBY (Estanesbi, xi cent.; Aysaneby, Ayscenby, xiii cent.; Escanby, Aystanby, xiv cent.) was a berewick of Topcliffe (q.v.), which it has always followed in descent, Lord Leconfield being the present lord of the manor. Its 6 carucates were assessed at half a knight's fee in 1284–5, and in 1314–15 mention is made of the Percys' court here. (fn. 109)
Archil had a 'manor' in BALDERSBY (Baldrebi, xi cent.; Balderby-in-les-Broome, xv cent.) before 1086, and at that date it was in the possession of Count Alan. (fn. 110) The overlordship came into the hands of the Percys before 1284–5, (fn. 111) and continued with them. Arthur son of Godard gave the vill of Baldersby to the abbey of Fountains in 1159, and Gikel de Baldersby gave the house the site of the grange. (fn. 112) Further lands were acquired, and in 1284–5 the abbot was said to hold as one grange the whole of Baldersby, this including the sites of the vills of Birkhou and Eseby, (fn. 113) which evidently stood between Baldersby and Rainton, (fn. 114) but had disappeared before that date. This grange remained with the abbey until the Dissolution, (fn. 115) and was leased as the 'manor' of Baldersby to Richard Norton 'of Hartforth' in 1544 for twenty-one years, (fn. 116) and as the 'grange' for a similar term to Robert Constable in 1578. (fn. 117) In 1603 the 'manor' of Baldersby was granted in fee farm to John Hayward and Robert Parker, (fn. 118) possibly as trustees for Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury, who was seised of the manor at her death in 1607. She settled it on herself for life, with remainder to her son William Lord Cavendish (fn. 119) (by her first husband, Sir William Cavendish), who was created Earl of Devonshire in 1618. (fn. 120) The manor followed the descent of this family (fn. 121) until 1845, when it was sold by the sixth Duke of Devonshire to Mr. George Hudson (the Railway King). In 1854 Mr. George Hudson sold the manor and estate to William Henry seventh Viscount Downe, who died in 1857, leaving Baldersby to his widow, Mary Isabel Viscountess Downe, for her life. She died in 1900, and Hugh Richard Viscount Downe then succeeded to the estate. He sold it to the present owner, Mr. John Brennand, who does not, however, hold any courts. (fn. 122)
In 1540 Sir Richard Gresham obtained a grant of the site of the dissolved abbey of Fountains and the site and capital messuage of the manor of Baldersby. (fn. 123) This property in Baldersby passed from William and Thomas Gresham to Stephen Proctor in 1597. (fn. 124) He may have been succeeded by the Cloughs, who held land there at the beginning of the 17th century, (fn. 125) for Edmund Clough and Francisca Jackson, widow, sold a so-called 'manor' to Dorothea Perrott in 1661. (fn. 126) George Perrott received a conveyance of this manor from Andrew Perrott and his wife and John Alcock and his wife in 1747, (fn. 127) but no further history of it can be traced.
CATTON (Catune, xi cent.; Catton Northby, xvi cent.) was assessed at 6 carucates at the time of the Domesday Survey. It had previously consisted of four 'manors' held by Bernulf, Torn, Carle and Ulgrim, but in 1086 it was in the hands of William de Percy. (fn. 130) The demesne lands and overlordship followed the descent of the manor of Topcliffe (q.v.). Lord Leconfield is now lord of the manor.
In 1284–5 the vill contained 8 carucates, of which 6 were held of Baldwin de Skipton, (fn. 131) who held of Wibert Capon, who held of John de Percy. (fn. 132) William son of Baldwin de Skipton granted land here to William son of Ivo de Carlton, (fn. 133) and this fee apparently descended with the manor of Carlton Miniott (q.v.), for John Miniott obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands there for himself and his heirs in 1333. (fn. 134) A John Miniott held land in Catton in 1368, and the so-called 'manor' evidently descended through an heiress in his family to Sir Randle Pigot, kt., who was seised of it at his death in 1503. (fn. 135) Joan Pigot, one of his daughters and co-heirs, married Sir Giles Hussey, but their son Thomas, who came into the possession of Catton, was afterwards attainted, and it was probably granted like Carlton Miniott (q.v.) to George Lamplugh, who died seised of it in 1588. There appears to be no material for any subsequent history of this holding in Catton.
DALTON (Deltune, xi cent.) was a berewick of Topcliffe in 1086, (fn. 136) when it belonged to William de Percy, and the overlordship afterwards followed the descent of Topcliffe Manor (q.v.). In 1284–5, when Dalton consisted of 6 carucates of land, 10 oxgangs were held of John de Percy by Mauger le Vavasour, who had subinfeudated them to an unnamed tenant. (fn. 137) The heir of Mauger appears as one of the holders in Dalton in 1368. (fn. 138) Another tenant at that date, whose interest has survived, was Marmaduke Darell. When Dalton was first called a manor, in the 15th century, it was in the possession of his descendant Sir George Darell, kt., who was seised of it at his death in or before 1466. (fn. 139) The descent of Dalton Manor has since followed that of Little Thirkleby, (fn. 140) and it is now in the possession of Viscount Downe.
In DISHFORTH (Disforde, xi cent.; Difford, Disceford, xiii cent.; Disforth, xiv cent.) 6 geld carucates were held by Torchil before the Norman Conquest, and were granted to William de Percy before 1086, when they were waste. (fn. 141) The overlordship followed the descent of the manor of Topcliffe (q.v.).
The earliest known tenants bore the territorial name. Baldwin de Dishforth, son of Ralph (fn. 142) de Bramhope (also called de Hirton), (fn. 143) was succeeded by a son Ralph, whose widow was known as Emma Darell. (fn. 144) Marmaduke Darell, son of Ralph, was living in 1253. (fn. 145) His son Thomas de Dishforth (fn. 146) was in 1284–5 holding of the Percys 6 carucates, of which 2½ carucates were in demesne, while a further carucate was held by John de Dishforth. (fn. 147)
In 1299 Harsculph de Cleasby acquired land in the vill from Thomas de Thirkleby and Muriel his wife, (fn. 148) who may have been connected with the Dishforths. John de Cleasby in 1314 sold the manor, as it was then called, with that of Ellerton-on-Swale (fn. 149) (q.v.), to Henry le Scrope (fn. 150) of Bolton, who obtained a grant of free warren here in the same year. (fn. 151) The manor descended with Bolton to Emmanuel, the last Lord Scrope of Bolton, (fn. 152) who died without legitimate heirs in 1630. No later material for the history of Dishforth Manor has been found; the land in the township is now mostly freehold and belongs to the Crown.
In 1253 Marmaduke Darell confirmed to Fountains Abbey the grants made by his ancestors (fn. 153); the abbot was returned as holding 3½ carucates of Thomas de Dishforth in 1284–5, (fn. 154) and his was the only name mentioned in the return of 1316. (fn. 155) The abbey's lands here (fn. 156) are now held by the Marquess of Ripon.
ELMIRE (Elvetemere, xiii cent.; Elnydmere, Elmetmere, xiv cent.; Eldmer, xv cent.) was probably assessed at the time of the Domesday Survey under CRAKEHILL (Crecala, xi cent.; Crakhale, Crakhall, xiv cent.), then a berewick of Topcliffe belonging to William de Percy, with whose successors the overlordship remained. (fn. 157)
Crakehill appears never to have been a manor. It was associated with Elmire at the beginning of the 14th century, and has since followed the same descent. Marmaduke Darell is the earliest known tenant in Elmire, and obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands here in 1246. (fn. 158) He was succeeded by a son Thomas, who was living in 1285. (fn. 159) Thomas was succeeded by Marmaduke Darell, who in 1301 came to an arrangement with William Darell (fn. 160) by which Marmaduke released all claim to the manor of Sessay and in return was to hold the manor of Elmire for life, with reversion to William and his heirs. (fn. 161) The agreement evidently took effect, for in 1338 it was in the possession of William Darell, lord of Sessay, (fn. 162) which manor it has followed in descent to the present day.
GRISTHWAITE (Greswait, Grisetwayt, xiv cent.) is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey. In a document of 1314 it is described as a hamlet, and there were then said to be four tenants in bondage, and six cotters, and a water-mill, only, 'because the said hamlet was burnt and destroyed and those who were tenants were killed by the Scots.' (fn. 163) Gristhwaite was probably never a real manor, although so called in 1380 (fn. 164) and during the 15th and 16th centuries. Its descent follows that of the manor of Topcliffe. (fn. 165)
No mention of MARTON-LE-MOOR occurs in the Domesday Survey, but it was evidently among the lands granted to William de Percy. (fn. 166) During the 12th century it was held by Alan de Mering, and the grange of Marton with 5 carucates of land was granted by him to the abbey of Fountains. (fn. 167) The abbot obtained a charter of free warren there in 1292, (fn. 168) and in 1328 his suit to Topcliffe court was remitted by Henry de Percy. (fn. 169) In 1592 the manorplace was granted to Peter Cawston for twenty-one years (fn. 170); the manor was granted in 1602 to Peter Bradwall and Robert Parker, (fn. 171) who may have represented the Countess of Shrewsbury, as she was seised of it in 1602 and at her death in 1607. (fn. 172) After this date the descent of Marton-le-Moor followed that of Baldersby (q.v.) until the 19th century. The present lord of the manor is Mr. R. C. de Grey Vyner.
The history of NEWBY is closely interwoven with that of Rainton, and the overlordship followed the descent of Topcliffe Manor (q.v.). In 1284–5 John de Newby held the 2 carucates of which the vill consisted. (fn. 173) Some land was alienated by members of this family to the abbey of Fountains (fn. 174) and became united with the principal holding in Rainton (q.v.), the Abbot of Fountains being returned as lord of Rainton and Newby in 1316. (fn. 175) The daughter and heir of a John de Newby is said to have married into a family named Green. (fn. 176) A Richard del Green was living in 1315, (fn. 177) and may have been an ancestor of the Richard Green of Newby, 'esquire,' who died in 1421. (fn. 178) Early in the 16th century Richard Green complained that the trustees of Richard his father refused to put him in possession of his 'manors of Catton, Aysenby, Dishforth, Crakehill and Rainton.' (fn. 179) It was perhaps this Richard Green who died seised of the 'manor or capital messuage' of Newby in 1549 and left a son Henry. (fn. 180) On his death in 1557 he was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 181) who in 1576 sold the manor to Sir John Dawnay; he sold it to William Robinson in 1586. (fn. 182) This holding has since followed the same descent as William Robinson's property in Rainton (q.v.).
At the time of the Domesday Survey a 'manor' and 9 carucates in RAINTON (Reineton, Ranewat, Rainineton, xi cent.; Raynington, xiii cent.) which had belonged to Torchil before the Conquest were in the hands of Count Alan. (fn. 183) Before 1284–5 the overlordship of nearly the whole vill of Rainton had come to the family of Percy. Two carucates and 5 bovates, however, were at that date said to belong to Thomas de Arches, and to be subinfeudated to the hospital of St. Leonard. John de Dishford was mesne lord under the Percys of half a carucate of land which was held of him by the priory of Newburgh. Other tenants in Rainton were Hugh de Cestre and Stephen de Dalton. Their holdings were apparently acquired by Newburgh Priory before the spring of 1314–15, when that house held 1 carucate here. (fn. 184) Then, as in 1284–5, the principal tenant was the Abbot of Fountains, (fn. 185) who was returned as lord of the vill in 1316. (fn. 186) At the Dissolution the abbey held a manor and land in Rainton worth more than £36 (fn. 187); the hospital of St. Leonard had property there to the value of over £9. (fn. 188) The Fountains holding was leased under the name of the 'site of the manor' to William Mallory in 1555 for twenty-one years, and this lease was renewed to him for twenty-one years in 1574, (fn. 189) 1588 (fn. 190) and 1600. (fn. 191) In 1602, however, Peter Bradwell and Robert Parker obtained a grant of this manor, (fn. 192) probably on behalf of the Countess of Shrewsbury, who was seised of it at her death in 1607. (fn. 193) The property afterwards followed the descent of Baldersby Manor (q.v.) until the 19th century.
Another manor of Rainton, which evidently represented the St. Leonard holding, came into the possession of William Robinson, an alderman of York, in or before 1602. (fn. 194) He was seised of it at his death in 1616, and his son Thomas (fn. 195) was in possession in 1624. (fn. 196) The manor afterwards followed the descent of Norton-le-Clay (q.v.) to Thomas Philip Earl de Grey, who died in 1859, leaving two daughters but no sons. He was succeeded in all his titles, except the barony of Lucas, by his nephew the Marquess of Ripon. The other holding in Rainton, which had been acquired by the Countess of Shrewsbury and descended to the Dukes of Devonshire, probably became merged with this manor, the Marquess of Ripon being the present owner of the manor of Rainton with Newby (q.v.).
At the time of the Domesday Survey SKIPTON (Schipetune, xi cent.; Skipton Bridge, present day) was a berewick of Topcliffe (q.v.) and the overlordship followed the same descent as Topcliffe Manor. In 1284–5 Baldwin the son of John de Skipton was the mesne lord of 10 oxgangs out of the 6 carucates of land there. (fn. 197) The names of the tenants do not occur in this return, but a family with the territorial name of Skipton held land in the vill (fn. 198) probably about this time, and Laurence de Skipton was one of the tenants in 1314–15. (fn. 199) Possibly land here as at Catton (q.v.) passed to the family of Carlton, for before 1333 John Miniott had acquired property in Skipton and was granted free warren in his demesne lands there in that year. (fn. 200) The name of a John Miniott occurs among several holders of land in 1368, (fn. 201) and his estate seems afterwards to have been called the 'manor' and to have descended with Catton (q.v.) to George Lamplugh, who died in 1588. He left a son Edward, but the 'manor or capital messuage' is next found in the possession of John Clough, who settled it on his son and heir Edmund in 1600 on his marriage with Katharine Wilson. Edmund died in 1613 and was succeeded by his son Thomas, then a minor, (fn. 202) who obtained livery of the manor of Skipton in 1624 after he came of age. (fn. 203) Thomas Clough died in 1629, leaving an only child Edmund, aged three months, on whom he had settled the manor with contingent remainder to his own brother John and other relations. (fn. 204) The manor remained in his family, and James Clough was in possession in 1681. (fn. 205) In 1710 the names of James Clough, senior, and other members of the family occur among the defendants in a fine as to the manor of Skipton, (fn. 206) but it is uncertain how long they retained their interest there. There are now no manorial rights, and the land is chiefly in the possession of Mr. Henry Rob, Mr. Charles Rob and Mr. E. Brooksband.
Henry de Skipton gave to the Abbot and monks of Fountains, probably in the 13th century, a free passage over the River Swale (fn. 207); he also confirmed to them the firmage of a fishery in the river. (fn. 208)
The church of ST. COLUMBA consists of a chancel 29 ft. 6 in. by 25 ft. 6 in., a north chapel of the same length and 22 ft. wide, a north vestry, nave 54 ft. 4 in. by 26 ft., north aisle 21 ft. 10 in. wide, west tower 14 ft. 3 in. by 13 ft. 1 in., and a south porch. These measurements are all internal.
There is no evidence of any building on this site earlier than the 14th century, to the latter part of which century belong the east window, the lower part of the south chancel wall containing an aumbry, a piscina and three sedilia, and a piscina in the east wall of the north chapel. In 1855 the whole building was re-erected with the exception of the parts above mentioned, and was made one bay shorter at the west end.
An old water-colour in the vestry shows a small east view of the church before this rebuilding. The east window was as at present, but in the south wall were four two-light windows, one single light high up, and one three-light window, all with two-centred arches, the heads of the lights being plain and without foils. There were three buttresses to the chancel, and to the west of them was a priest's doorway. The porch was of Renaissance character. The tower had three stages, with 15th-century windows in the top stage and an embattled parapet surmounted by pinnacles at the angles. The south-west corner of the tower was shored up by a large buttress. Another buttress supported the centre of the south face. The roofs were lead-covered, with a lean-to over the north aisle.
The late 14th-century east window of the chancel has four cinquefoiled lights with tracery. The north side of the chancel has a modern arcade of two bays communicating with the chapel. The first window in the south wall is a modern restoration in cement with a few old stones. To the west of this is a modern window. The old part of the south wall, which is thicker than the rebuilding above, contains near the east end a square aumbry with slightly chamfered edges. To the west of this are a piscina and three sedilia, each with cinquefoiled heads and chamfered jambs and divisions. The piscina has a sexfoiled basin. The base of the piscina and the seats of the sedilia have a large projecting edge roll, which in the case of the latter comes very near the floor, which has been raised at a later date. On the south side of the east window of the north chapel is an old piscina with chamfered jambs and two-centred head and a basin with eight foils. All the walls are of stone. The open-timber roofs are plastered between the rafters and covered outside with green slates.
In the porch are some old stones, among them the head of an ancient cross and a fragment which might be either part of a font or a mortar. In the east window of the north chapel are some fragments of old glass, including part of a Lucy shield.
Fixed upright against the wall of the north aisle is a very fine brass of Flemish workmanship to Thomas de Topcliffe, who died in 1362, and his wife Mabel, 1391. When the brass was removed from its slab, during the restoration of the church, the greater portion of it was found to be palimpsest, the reverse of a portion of the marginal inscription showing part of an inscription in Flemish. The figures are inclosed in rich canopy work, with flanking shafts on buttresses containing niches with angels playing various musical instruments, and their heads rest on cushions supported by angels. In the niches of the canopy work above their heads God the Father is twice represented receiving the soul of each. The man is bearded and wears the civil dress of the period with a short sword hanging from his right side; his hands are in prayer and his feet rest on a lion. His wife is represented in the veil head-dress and a gown with buttoned sleeves reaching to her knuckles, while at her feet is a small dog with a bone. Surrounding the whole is a marginal inscription, parts of which are missing, with the symbols of the Evangelists at the corners and shields of Topcliffe, a cheveron between three peg-tops, in the centre of the longer sides. (fn. 209)
On the north wall of the chapel is a large marble monument with a bust surrounded by a wreath and cherubs on either side to Sir Metcalfe Robinson, bart., who died in 1688. To the east of this is a wall monument to Sir William Robinson, 1736, and on the west side one to Sir William Robinson, bart., son of Sir Tancred Robinson, 1712.
In the tower are four bells: (1) with the inscription 'Jesus be our speed, 1622'; (2) '+ Jesus be our speed, 1620'; (3) 'Deus salvet ecclesiam suam, 1725,' bearing the mark of Samuel Smith of York; the fourth was recast by Warner in 1880.
The plate consists of two silver cups with covers and a paten and a plated flagon. The larger cup is inscribed 'This communion cup and cover was dedicated and given by Sr Metcalfe Robinson Baronet to ye Church of Toplyffe in Yorkshire 1669.' It bears the London mark of the same year. The second cup is inscribed 'Topcliffe Tho: Gregory William Raper Churchwardens March 26 1664.' The hall marks are indecipherable. The paten bears the inscription 'This dedicated to God service ye Charge of ye Parish of Topcliff Anno Dni 1680.' The maker's mark is H. L. The flagon is copper, plated with silver, and dates from the end of the 18th century.
The church of ST. JAMES THE GREAT at Baldersby is a modern building of brick and stone, and was erected in 1857 by Lord Downe from designs by Butterfield. It consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south chapel, north vestry and organ chamber, and south porch with tower over. There are eight modern bells, cast by Taylor of Loughborough about 1850. It is a vicarage in the gift of Lord Downe.
The church at DISHFORTH, of which the invocation is unknown, is a small modern building, consisting of an apsidal chancel, nave with a small bellcote above the west gable, and a north aisle with a baptistery at its west end. There is an old holy water stoup in the west wall with a plain round basin, and an old gravestone (now set at the entrance gate), in which are the matrices of two small figures, an inscription below, and four small shields at the corners. Whether these belonged to the former church or were brought from elsewhere is unknown. The living is a perpetual curacy in the gift of the vicar of Topcliffe.
The church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST at Dalton is a chapel of ease of Topcliffe, and was built of stone in the Early English style by Lady Downe in 1868; it consists of a chancel continuing into a nave, a north vestry, west bell-turret, and south porch. It is roofed with green slates.
The church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST at Skipton-on-Swale is a small building erected in 1842 in the Tudor style and consists of a chancel and nave. On the south side is a small porch, and there is one bell in a small bellcote to the south-west. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the Archbishop of York.
A church existed in Topcliffe at the time of the Domesday Survey, and it was granted by the second William de Percy to the use of the fabric of the cathedral of York. (fn. 210) This grant was confirmed by his grandson Richard, the dean, Roger de Lisle, covenanting to supply a chaplain for the chapel of the Blessed Mary in the churchyard of Topcliffe Church. (fn. 211) Before 1292 a vicarage had been ordained. (fn. 212) The advowson has remained with the Dean and Chapter of York. (fn. 213)
In the 13th century there was a chapel at Rainton which was given by Thomas son of Alan de Arches to the abbey of Fountains. (fn. 214) About that time there was also a chapel of St. Michael at Skipton. (fn. 215) At the suppression of chantries in the 16th century there were six chantries or chapels in the parish of Topcliffe. The chantry of St. Mary the Virgin in the parish church had been founded in 1499 by Richard Grome and Thomas Allanson; among its endowments were lands in Dalton and Catton. (fn. 216) The incumbent said mass, prayed for the founders' and all Christian souls, and helped the curate to minister to the parishioners. Another chantry of St. Mary the Virgin in the churchyard of Topcliffe was founded by one of the Earls of Northumberland. (fn. 217) Within the parish church was a service or gild also of St. Mary the Virgin, which was said to be without endowment; one of the duties of the incumbent was to teach six children to sing for the choir. A chantry within the manor chapel of Topcliffe had been founded by one of the Earls of Northumberland. The commissioners appointed in 1548 recommended that, as an assistant curate for the parish was necessary, William Topham, the former incumbent of this chantry, should be appointed.
Another chapel a mile and a half from the church was St. Giles in Elmire, (fn. 218) founded before 1338, when Sir William Darell obtained licence to grant a messuage and 6 oxgangs of land in Crakehill and Elmire for a chaplain to celebrate divine service there daily. (fn. 219) Messuages belonging to this chapel in Elmire and Dishforth were in the possession of Richard Okeham in 1559. (fn. 220)
The charities subsisting in the ancient parish of Topcliffe were until the year 1901 under the management of feoffees appointed in accordance with a decree of Commissioners of Charitable Uses dated 16 June 1674. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners established by an order dated 5 July 1901 the several parochial charities were consolidated, the body of trustees to consist of thirteen persons, one ex officio trustee, the vicar of Topcliffe for the time being, and twelve representative trustees, two appointed by the parish council of Topcliffe, one by each of the parish councils, or parish meetings of the other nine townships of the parish, and one by the district councils of Thirsk and Wath alternately.
Pullaine Leesland, consisting of 2 a. 3 r. 25 p. in Topcliffe, devised in 1613 by will of the Rev. Ralph Kay to the vicar of Topcliffe, let at £6 10s. a year; land at Firby, containing 6 a. purchased with certain poor stock in 1717, let at £15 a year; land at Topcliffe, containing 3 a. 2 r. 23 p., devised in 1735 by will of George Rockcliffe for poor of Asenby, let at £10 a year; land in Asenby, containing 6 a., the gift in 1747 of George Easterby, let at £12 a year, for distribution of cloth in certain of the townships; land and cottage in Dalton, known as the Dalton Poor's Land, containing 2 a. 1 r. 21 p., let at £7 a year.
There are also the following sums of stock, representing certain poor stock, timber money, and accumulations of income: £278 8s. 11d. consols and £111 3s. 4d. consols; also £360 Midland Railway £2½ per cent. debenture stock, arising from legacy for poor by will of Thomas Durham in 1865, and £130 13s. 4d. Great Northern Railway 3 per cent. debenture stock. In 1905 there was also £12 10s. in the Thirsk Savings Bank in trust for the poor of the parish of Topcliffe and £39 7s. 11d. in the same bank in trust for the poor of the township of Topcliffe.
Under the provisions of the scheme the net annual income is applicable for the benefit either of the poor generally of the area to be benefited or of such deserving and necessitous persons resident therein as the trustees may select under one or more of the following heads:—
The Topcliffe Grammar School, including benefactions of William Robinson, will, 1633, and Henry Roper, will, 1674. (fn. 221)
Land in Topcliffe and Dalton, containing 2 a. 3 r. 23 p., let at £6 10s. a year, under the administration of the trustees appointed by above-mentioned order of the Charity Commissioners of 5 July 1901. The rent is paid to the Dishforth National school.
The Rev. Francis Day's Charity, will 1764, trust fund £130 13s. 4d. Great Northern Railway 3 per cent. debenture stock, income applied by the same trustees for educational purposes in the townships of Baldersby, Rainton, Marton, Dalton, Catton and Skipton.
Township of Asenby.—Mrs. Ann Barker, by will proved 20 April 1860, left £100 for the poor of Asenby, invested in £108 19s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, dividends to be applied in the purchase of clothing or coals to be distributed at Christmas by the owner or principal tenant of testatrix's Asenby estate and the rector of Topcliffe among poor inhabitants not receiving alms or relief.