Chapelry of Witton Gilbert

The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward. Originally published by Nichols and Son, London, 1820.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Robert Surtees, 'Chapelry of Witton Gilbert', in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward( London, 1820), British History Online [accessed 21 July 2024].

Robert Surtees, 'Chapelry of Witton Gilbert', in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward( London, 1820), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024,

Robert Surtees. "Chapelry of Witton Gilbert". The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward. (London, 1820), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024.

In this section


The Chapelry of Witton Gilbert is bounded by the Parish of Chester-le-Street on the North, by the Chapelry of St. Margaret's, in the suburbs of Durham, on the East, by St. Oswald's Parish on the South and South-West, and by the Parish of Lanchester on the West and North-West (fn. 1).

This Chapelry was only separated from the Parish of St. Oswald's in 1423. Witton Gilbert forms one Constablery; 2. Rimblesworth (fn. 2).

Witton Gilbert,

A village about midway betwixt Durham and Lanchester. The Church and Rectory-house stand a little detached to the South, commanding a pleasing view over the deep wooded banks of the Brune, with the ruins of Bear Park rising on the opposite brink.

Witton derives its addition from one of its ancient lords, Gilbert de la Ley. Under Bishop Hugh's return of knight's fees (in the Black Book of the Exchequer) the same Gilbert de la Leia held half a fee within Tyne and Tees of novel feoffment (that is, probably, since the accession of Henry II.); and thus it may seem that the origin of these old Lords of Witton is traced to an Episcopal grant after 1154. Though stated in Bishop Hugh's Feodary at half a fee, this estate extended over a vast district Westwards, from the Brune to the Conebeck and the Tame, including Stanley (fn. 3), Beamish (fn. 5), and Tanfield de la Leigh (fn. 3), which still retains, like Witton, part of the name of its ancient owners. The chief evidence of these old lords of Witton is to be found in their donations to the Church. Gilbert de la Ley gave to the Almoner of St. Cuthbert sixty acres of arable land in Witton-field, a rentcharge of thirty shillings, free multure and common of pasture for the maintenance of five lepers in the leprous hospital which himself had founded in Witton. The donation is confirmed by Bishop Hugh (fn. 4). Philip de la Ley, who occurs in several evidences as son and successor of Gilbert, also confirmed the charter; and it was again ratified by William de Dalden and Alyne his wife, who was representative of the line. Besides their gifts to the Church, Gilbert and Philip de la Ley disposed of large portions of their broad lands to their vassals and followers, particularly to the family of Musters (De Monasteriis), who held under them Stanley, part of Cruketon (Crook Hall near Iveston), and lands in Witton. How the manor itself was disposed of is not apparent; but it is certain that the inheritance which descended to Alyne de Dalden, grand-daughter of Philip de la Ley, lay chiefly in the Eastern part of the County (fn. 5), and that she held little or no share of the extensive Western tract possessed by her ancestors.

Witton Gilbert became the estate of the Latons. In a charter quoted under Stanley (fn. 6), Philip de la Ley mentions lands which he had given to Robert de Musters, and had afterwards resumed in order to bestow them on William de Laton, in satisfaction of William's suit for lands in Witton; and in 1275 William, son of Gilbert de de Laton, stiles himself Lord of Witton in a charter to the Monks relative to Beaurepair (fn. 7). Witton Gilbert was the estate for life of Isabel, lady of Horden (fn. 8), and was settled in reversion on Elizabeth, her sole issue by her first husband William de Laton. Elizabeth intermarried with Sir Piers Tylliol (fn. 9), amongst whose heirs general (Musgrave and Colville) the manor was divided and subdivided into halves and fourths, according to the line of descent traced under Hetton. About 1613 Sir Edward Musgrave, of Abbeyholme, alienated his lands in Witton Gilbert (inter alia) in parcels to his tenants. The shares of Musgrave of Crookdayke and of Knevett, (who represented Moresby, another coheir of Tylliol,) were dispersed earlier.

10 July, 28 Eliz. Pardon to Ralph Emerson (fn. 10), John Snaith (fn. 11), and Christopher Thompson (fn. 12), for acquiring from Thomas Knevett, Esq. the manor of Witton Gilbert, 20 mess. 5 toft. 10 gard. 40 acres arable, 200 meadow, 200 pasture, 20 woodland, 200 furze and whin, 300 moor, and 5s. rent. Rot. Barnes, A° 10.

John Sheppedson (fn. 13), Robert Wrangham, Ralph Malome, Elen Gelson, widow, and John Read, 10 mess. 5 tofts, 5 gard. 200 acres arable, 200 meadow, 100 pasture, 40 of wood, 500 furze, and 200 moor in Witton Gilbert. Eod. die. 10 Barnes.

Licence to Sir Edward Musgrave, George Walton, and Thomas Smith to grant three messuages to Robert Watson, sen. and jun. and Robert Hopper. 20 July 1612. Rot W. James, A° 19.

7 Aug. 1613. Hugh Pattison, of William Musgrave, Esq. a messuage value 5s. per ann. Robert Walton (fn. 14) a messuage, 10s. 1d. Cuthbert Watson (fn. 15) a messuage, 4s. John Sander one messuage, &c.

Licence to Edward Musgrave, Knt. and William and Anne Grieveson, to grant a messuage, &c. to John Rainton and Rosamond his wife, 1634.

Under these and subsequent conveyances the freehold property in Witton Gilbert is divided in very various proportions.

It has been already incidentally stated, that Gilbert de la Ley founded an hospital in Witton for five lepers (fn. 16). The following charters form the evidence of this establishment (which was afterwards extended to eight inmates), and exhibit at the same time all that is known of the descent of its founders.

Carta Gilb'ti de Leya. Ex orig. 2. b. Sp'al.

I. Omnib[us], &c. Gileb'tus de Leia, Sal. Nov'it. &c. me p' salute dñi mei Hug' Dei gra. Dunelmeñ ep'i, &c. dedisse, &c. Deo et beato Petro et S'c'o Cuthb'to et domui elemosinarie ejus de Dunelmo sexaginta ac's t're arabilis in campo de Witt' et redditũ t'ginta solidor' et lib'am multurã in molendino meo de t'ra illa et comune' pasturã hominũ meorũ, ad sustentand' ibide' victu et vestitu et aliis necessariis quinq' lep'sos in hospitali lep'sor q'd ibi cõstruxi; et cã aliqs p'd'cor' lep'sor decesserit elemosinarius S'c'i Cutb'ti aliũ in loco ej' substituet. Licebit eciã ei culpis exigentib[us] eos depone' et alios in loco eor' substituere, ita tam' ut semper sint quinque. Quare volo, &c. Hiis testib[us], Will'o Archidiacono, Symone cam'ario, Magro Ricardo de Coldingh', Magro Will'o Blessensi, Will'o de Hoved. Phillippo Vicec, Henrico de Putheaco, Galfrido fil. Ric., Rog'o de Coigneriis, Will'o fil. Thome, Jordano Escolland, Osb'to de Lat., Rog'o de Audre, Rog'o de Epplygd. H' Burd. et multis aliis.

Confirmacio Hugonis Ep'i.

II. Hugo Dei gra. &c. Nov'it universitas v'ra nos concessisse, &c. De. et Beato Cuthb'to et domui Elemosinarie de Dunelmo lx acras t're arabilis in campo de Witton, et redditũ xxx sol. que Gillebt' de Leia eid'm domui dedit et carta sua confirmavit, ad sustentandũ et p'candũ ibidem v lep'sos i' hospitali lep'sor q'd ide' Gillebt' ibide' construxit. Quare, volum' et co'cedim' q'd p'd. &c. Testib[us] Burch et Will'o Archid'is, Will'o fil. Archiep'i, Magro Rob'to de Adington, Simo'e Joh'e Rad. et Ric. Capellanis, Phillippo de Colevill, Henrico de Ferlington, Adã de Aldhã, Marmaduc' de Arel, Laurentio Camerario, Joh'e de Hameldon, et multis aliis. Seal of Bishop Hugh.

Sequitur Confirmatio Philippi de Leya super cartam Gilberto Patris.

Sciant, &c. q'd ego Gilleb'tus de Leia, dedi, &c. Rob'to de Monast'iis p' humagio et servicio suo illas tres bovatas terre de t'ginta et sex acris in villa de Wihttona q'ss Gilleb'tus et Rob'tus tulli et Rob'tus dod tenuerunt cũ toftis et p'tinenciis suis et cũ com'uni pastura ejusde' ville et duas bovatas terre de d'nio meo in campo de Cruketona ex occidentali parte vaccarie elemosinarii secus aq'm de brun. Ita quod ibide' simul habeat viginti et sex acras terre tenendas, &c. reddendo inde mi et he'dib[us] meis annuatĩ viginti et septe' denarios ad Pentecost' et ad festũ S'c'i Martini et adqietando p' eosde' viginti et septe' denar' suu libũ serviciũ militis qntum p'tinet ad vicesimã parte' feodi uni' militis. Quare volo et precor q'd predict' Rob'tus et heredes sui habeant et teneant de me et he'dib[us] meis predictas terras cũ om'ib[us] haisiam'tis ad easde' p'tinentib[us] liberas et q'etas in villa et extra, &c. Hiis testib[us] Radulfo de Mulctona, Gilleb'to de Abigwurth et Rog'o fr'e suo, Walt'o de Monast'iis et Radulfo fr'e suo, Rog'o de Aldre, Rog'o de Turstanest', Drogone de Midelhã, Rob'to de Boldon, Will'o de Linc, et Galfrido fil. suo, Walt'o Wallensi, Radulfo Monacho, Will'o de Boneville, et aliis q'mplurib[us].

Seal, a lion passant.

Roger de Turstanest'.

Sequitur Confirmatio Willielmi de Dalden et Alinæ uxoris ejus.

Omnibus, &c. Will'us de Dalden et Alina uxor. Noveritis nos inspexisse cartam Philippi de Leya, avi predicte Aline cujus heres est, in hæc verba, &c. [sicut in carta Gilberti de Leya]. Dat. Dunelm, 1351.

An undated list contains the names of the brethren and sisters of the house of Witton, with the order of their respective allowances (fn. 17).

Nomina Fratrum Hospitalis B. Mariæ Magdalenæ
Johannes Stele. Qui quidem fratres capiunt pro corrodiis suis, singulis tribus septimanis, 1 b' frumenti. Item, pro Soul silver per ann. viiis. viiid. Item, quilibet eorum pro namiis suis erga natale Domini, iiiis. Item, fratres qui morantur infra predictum hospitale capiunt pro focalibus suis duas celdras carbonum.
Johannes Bynchestre, Capns.
Johannes Marshall.
Johannes Shortt.

    Nomina Sororum Hospitalis De Wytton.

  • Soror Johanna Partrike.
  • Soror Johanna Wharram.
  • Soror Alicia Waynfleete.
  • Soror Margareta Lesshmaker.

Quæ quidem et ipsæ capiunt pro suis corrodiis singulis trib'us septim. 1 b' frumenti. Item, quælibet pro suis namiis erga natale, iiiis. Item, pro focalibus duas celdras carbonum. Et præter hæc capiunt quatuor boves dividendos inter ipsas. Item, quælibet earundem capit cc. alleces. Item pro le Egg silver, xiid.

Item, capiunt apud le Cove singulæ septimanatim per ordinem duos panes integros.


The Church.

This was anciently a mere dependent Chapel under St. Oswald's, and was made parochial in 1423, on the petition of William Batmanson, John Shephardson and other inhabitants. By convention (ratified by Pope Clement III.) betwixt the Prior of Durham (Patron of St. Oswald's) and the Parishioners, it was agreed that “ye P'ishioners shall fynde all man'er of chardges whatsoever touching the Chapell. yat ye Curat shall after the manner of a Parson gather and have for his mayntenance all man'er of tythes in kind to Wytton belongyng.” (fn. 18)

The Church is a small neat structure, consisting of a nave and chancel, separated from each other by a rude screen of oak. The South side of the nave has three modern sash-lights; the chancel has one old pointed light (fn. 19).

The Parsonage has been extremely improved by the present incumbent.

r Gilbert de Ley seals with a lion passant; Philip with a fesse embattled inter six birds; the whole within a bordure. Charter at Stanley, p. 229.

List of Curates.

  • Witton Gilbert Perpetual Curacy, not in charge.—Patrons D. and C.—No first fruits nor tenths.—Episc. Proc. 3s. 4d.; Pension D. and C. 3s. 4d.—Dedication to St. Michael.
  • John Browne, occurs 1561.
  • Lawrence Pilkington, cl. 6 Feb. 1570, p. depr. Browne.
  • Michael Pattenson, occurs 17 Jan. 1583.
  • Robert Hawkesworth, 20 July 1605, p.m. Pattenson.
  • Jos. Cradock, A.M. 14 Jan. p.m. Hawkesworth.
  • Henry Hutton (fn. 20), A.M. 4 August 1635, p. res. Cradock.
  • Edward Kirkby, A.M. 28 Sept. 1671, p.m. Hutton.
  • John Smith, A. M. I July 1684, p. res. Kirkby.
  • Abraham Yapp, A. M. 1695, p. m. Smith. a Non-juror, 1715.
  • Thomas Drake, A. M. 17 Jan. 1716, p. depr. Yapp.
  • Bryan Turner, A. M. 25 Nov. 1720, p. res. Drake.
  • Abraham Gregory, A. M. 1 Nov. 1738, p. m. Turner (fn. 21).
  • James Douglas, D. D. 19 Feb. 1773, p. m. Gregory.
  • Thomas Richardson, D. D. Queen's College, Oxon (fn. 22) p.m. Douglas.

Monumental Inscriptions.

On an altar-tomb in the church-yard:

Hic jacet

Depositum corpus Roberti Hopper de Witton Gilbert, qui vicesimo nono die Junii obiit A. D. 1673.

Et Johannæ, ejus uxoris, quæ vicesimo tertio die Septembris obiit Anno 1673.

Et etiam corpus Isabellæ, uxoris Thomæ Hopper, filiæ Jacobi Reed de Shotton, quæ obiit mortem trigesimo primo die Januarii, A. D. 1714.

Ac etiam corpus Thomæ Hopper, de Witton Gilbert, qui obiit quarto die April. A. D. 1718.

On a headstone:

Hic jacet Johannes Smith,
qui permissione divina fulmine percussus
expiravit 28 die Aprilis 1728,
ætat. 42.
Videte ut vigiletis et oretis,
nescitis enim quando
tempus futurum sit.
I. H. S.

The Parochial Register begins in 1570.

1614, 22 Feb. Quo die maxima fuit Nix, et incepit 5° Janu. et duravit quotidie nivente plus vel minus usq. 12° Martii, et hac tempestate tarn homines quam bestiæ multi sunt suffocati.

1627, 16 Dec. Maxima fuit tempestas venti toto die, et circa horam q'rtam post prandium ventus fuit valde magnus, et tempestas fulguris et tonitrui maxime timida; post earn secuta est magna pluvia et nix ad mediam noctem.

West Hall, lying, as its name imports, West of the village, was the seat of the Kendals after they had left Thorpthewles, about 1690.

Sacristan-Heugh, an early possession of the Church of Durham, so named from its appropriation to the office of Sacrist. See The Cathedral, hereafter.

Acron-Bank and Earl's Houses occur in the Book of Rates, 37 Eliz.

Simperley, or Sniperley, was the estate of Christopher Hildyard, 1683, and of his son John Hildyard, of Standylanes, in 1716 (fn. 23).


Sciant, &c. quod ego Gilbertus de Leya dedi, &c. Radulfo de Multon pro homagio et servitio suo terram de Fulford per divisas per quas Uttingus de Heya tenuit cum omnibus pertin. suis et cum com'uni pasture ville de Wittona, habend. &c. reddendo unam libram cumini ad F. S. Cuthberti in Septembri. T. Leonisio de Heriz tunc Vicecom., Jordano Escolland, Waltero de Monasteriis, Widone de Hellebee, Rogero d'Audre, Roberto fil. Thome, Rogero de Turstantun, Alano de Bruninghill, Drogone de Midelham, Harberto de Holneset, Ivone Tailbois, Ric. fil. Thome.

William, son of Diota de Fulford, with consent of his wife Avice, released to Nicholas Almoner of Durham all his land, his toft, and his meadow, viz. that fourth part of lands in Fulford-field which descended to him by inheritance (fn. 24).

In 1411 Thomas Pityngton, Chaplain, alienated a messuage and a hundred acres called Fulford (held of the Bishop) to Percival Lynley (fn. 25). In 1535 Lancelot Eshe, Esq. died seized of the manor of Fulford, held of the Dean and Chapter in common socage, leaving Robert his son and heir (fn. 26). 15 Mart. 7 Eliz. Richard Eshe, son and heir apparent of Robert Eshe, Esq. sold the reversion of the manor of Fulforth to Thomas Eshe, of Spenithorne, co. York, Gent. (fn. 27)

By Inq. 9 June 1604, John Hildyard, Gent. died 22 Mar. 41 Eliz. seized of the manor or capital messuage of Fulford, and a messuage and divers lands in or called Fyndon-hill. Fulford is held of the D. and C. in socage. Fyndon of the Bishop in socage by fealty only. William Hildyard son and heir, aged 37 years (fn. 28). Robert Hildyard, Gent. and Frances his wife alienated the manor of Fulford to Thomas Wray, Esq. in 1613 (fn. 29).


Most corruptly Bearpark (fn. 30), lies about three miles to the North-West of Durham. The ruins stand within a rapid sweep of the Browney, on a dry elevated plot, whose sides, shagged with copsewood, fall abruptly to the river. A long level extends to the South, which before inclosure must have been a strath (fn. 31) of pasturage. On the North-West the church and village of Witton, and the woody broken grounds near the Browney, fill the fore-ground, whilst the distant view includes a wide range of upland, hill, and moor, varied with scattered hamlets and farmholds.

Only the shattered and roofless shell of the Chapel is now standing, with dilapidated remains of some adjacent buildings. On the North and South the Chapel has had three uniform double lights, divided by plain mullions; the East window consists of three lights with circular heads under a square label. The wall has buttresses of hewn stone in the spaces betwixt the windows. The interior has been highly ornamented. In the space betwixt the lights small pilasters, belted in the midst with foliated capitals of extreme delicacy, support small pointed arches. Two niches with pedestals on each side of the East-window seem intended for the reception of images. An apartment beneath the Chapel is lighted by small square windows. The floor is entirely removed.

A long building, of which the gavels are still standing, adjoins the Chapel on the West. A large South window is divided into twelve lights by a transom and mullions: this apartment was probably the dining-hall or refectory. A moulding of zigzag runs round the whole exterior. A building on the North of the Chapel, with three lights to the East, was possibly the dormitory. The other portions of the ruin are too confused to be traced with any accuracy.

The House and Chapel of Beaurepaire were founded by Prior Bartram II. 1244–1258, as a place of solace and retreat for himself and his successors (fn. 32).

Hugh of Derlyngton, 1258–1274, enclosed the Park, and added to the buildings (fn. 33). Bishop Beke during his quarrel with the Convent broke down the fences of the Park, and destroyed and drove out the game (fn. 34). In 1311 Bishop Kellaw granted licence to Prior Tanfield to enlarge the Park of Beaurepaire (fn. 35). In 1315 the Scotch, in their successful irruption into the Bishopric, destroyed almost the whole stock and store of game and cattle (fn. 36). The place again suffered severely in 1346, when King David and his army lay there before the battle of Nevill's Cross (fn. 37). Prior Fossour, 1342–1374, made Beaurepaire his favourite residence, and died there (fn. 38). It seems probable that much of the present remains, particularly the delicate ornaments of the Chapel, may be attributed to him, on the restoration of the place after the ravages of the Scots. I am not aware that this place is again mentioned (fn. 39) till the very eve of the dissolution, when Prior Whitehed is said to have repaired several of the decayed buildings (fn. 40). The Manor-house and Park were regranted by Henry VIII. to the new Cathedral, and were appropriated to the Deanery. The buildings were probably gradually suffered to fall to decay (fn. 41), and their ruin is said to have been completed by the Scotch armies when they occupied Durham in 1641 and 1644.

It seems that Dean Granville made some claim on the executors of his predecessor Sudbury for the dilapidations of Bearpark. In 1684 an Inquisition (of the whole Decanal possessions) taken with this view, states, that there belonged to the Deanery of Durham a mansion called “The Manor-house of Bearpark,” and within the same are or were the following chambers, cells, and apartments, viz. “a hail, two passages near the hall, one large kitchen and oven in it, a back-room adjoining on the West end of the kitchen, a dining-room, a great room leading to the Chapel called the dormitory, some arches, and two rooms above the arches, a chapel and a room under it, three rooms, or two at least, called the Prior's chamber, and the Western room thereof, called the Prior's lodgings, a little room adjoining the Prior's chamber, a staircase and vaults under all and every the lower or floor rooms of the said mansion-house, excepting the hall and kitchen, and the room aforesaid adjoining the kitchen. And at Bearpark aforesaid, there formerly have been belonging to the said manor-house several courts and gardens that were walled about; and also sundry out-houses, which are now wholly dilapidated.” (fn. 42)

The Earle of Bathe, the Deane of Durham, and Dr. Basire, have been with me about the rebuilding of ye hous called Bears Park, it being an ancient seat belonging to ye Deane, and therefore to secure himself and exors intends to bring his action agt my son if we cannot compose it by an agreement, and therupon to have a sentence. I perceive at a distance they have made a survay, and that 2500l. may rebuild it as formerly, and not under, and so they insist upon what my son will offer; now in my answer to them it ought to appear, whether this hous was a hous the Deane used to inhabit, or only for tenants, or whether it was demolished in ye rebellion, or went to decay before, as being useless and unnecessary (it being the Prior's house), it lying neare Durham. Then, if a necessity of building, whether a more convenient hous may not be built upon another foundation, and more regularly, and at less charge. Whether there be not sufficient tymber upon the Deanery for that use. As also what stone there is in the quarreys: also what hous there is at present; All which I would be satisfyed as soon as you can by ye oldest inhabitants.

Your humble servant,
Tho. Exton (fn. 43).

Doctors' Commons,
June 31, 1687.


Durham, 5 July 1687.

I am equally surprized at Mr. Deane's troubling Sr John for the dilapidac'ons of Bear Parke, and at his demand of so extravagant a sum; for if Sr John were to rebuild, I am confident 800l. with the convenience of timber and stone upon the place, would build a farr more convenient though not soe large a house, than was there at any time wn this 100 years; for all the old men that ever I can meet with can only remember a great large useless hall and dining roome, wth 3 or 4 meane lodging-roomes, wh Deane Hunt sometimes made use of for some few nights in the sumer time. Indeed in the Pryor's time there was a chapel and some other buildings, as may be presumed by the heape of stones now lying there, but I cannot meet with any that remember any more than the buildings aforemenc'oned that stood till the yeare 1640, in wh yeare the Scotch rebells pulled part of them downe, and in ye yeare 1644 they quite demolished them, saveing some old walls which are still standinge. Upon wh account Mr. Deane always looked upon himself as absolutely discharged from the rebuilding of them, especially seeing it was always reckoned as an useless house to ye Deane, if not a burthen to them; and I am sure it was ye late Mr. Deane's oppinion of it, not out of any considerac'on of saving his money, but of clear judgment, for if he had thought otherways he might with the sume wh he layd out upon the library, have built a noble countryhouse at Bear Park, for there is plenty of timber and stone on ye very place. Mr. Deane cannot say Dr. S. was an ill p'decessor, for he made a new and convenient entrance into ye Deanery, wholly unroofed part of it, and new roofed and leaded it: he paved the hall, wh was before a very ill floor, couled all ye wainscot of the hall, made two or 3 convenient passages, and new staires, two gardens and sumer-house, and built a library to the Deanery; and all this I menc'on because it can be shewn he was not obliged to doe any of them, and therefore it will be very strange if his executor be troubled for his not rebuilding an unnecessary monkish house.

Thos Wilson (fn. 44).
Hunter's MSS. D. and C. Library.

Keepers of Bear Park.—Roger Cowherd, Forester under Prior Fossour, 1353. Richard Cowherd (son of Roger), by pat. for life, 1381. William Cowherd (son of Richard), Sub-custos, 1383. John Rakett, by pat. 8 Feb. 1437. John Bell, 9 June 1474. George Walton (Alderman and sometime Mayor of Durham 1616–1620). Thomas Home, Sub-custos. Philip Ebbots, Gent. ob. 1659. Thomas Wright, 1662. “Mr. Duncan, late Keeper of Bearparke, of Saturday, 20 Sept. 1690.”—Bee's Diary.

A pardon to the Keeper of Bear Parke, who with his knife stabbed a man in the shoulder who had a poke of nutts on his back on ye more, which the Keeper supposed he had got in the Parke. A° 30 Langley. Gowland's MSS. Lansdowne MSS. Mus. Brit.

Reve'nt Fader in God, and our right trusty frende and goshepe, we grete you well, and have understood ye passing of late to God's m'cie of Richard Cowhird, wh, as did div'ses his auncestors, had and occupied ye office of forester of Bewreparke, as semblably as we been informed shuld occupie after hym his sone and heire Willyam Cowhird oure s'vant, by force of a manr of composic'on, made betwix yor house of Duresme of olde tyme, and ye said auncestres, wh y'rfore, as it is said, yaf (fn. 45) p'petually to y'r said hous iiii m'cs of yerely rent, howbeit yt in ye said occupac'on is now put another, to oure invail if it so bee as is aforesaide, and also yt ye said Willyam was put to occupie ye said office in ye lyve of his fad'r, and in oure conceit noon occasion yaf of discharg. Supposing all ye thinges aforsaid considred, and yt he is oure s'vant, he shuld not so sodenly have been discharged: wherefore we pray yow if yt ye goodly may, restore oure said s'vant to ye said office, or elles writ to us ye causes of non restituc'on yrunto as oure trust is in yow, and our Lorde have yow in keping.

Writen at Midelham, ye iiii day of Marce.

Richard Erle of Salisbury.

To ye Reve'nt fader in God and our Right trusty frende the Priour of Duresme (fn. 46).

[Small signet, a wivern seiant].


An ancient Rectory and Peculiar belonging to the Convent of Durham. The church fell into decay, and the Parish was united to Witton Gilbert in 1593.

The Ascension daye, being the 9th day of May, A° Dñi 1593 (fn. 47). Mem. that the daye and yeare abovesaid it is concluded and agreed upon between the Parishioners of Witton Gilbert and the Parish of Kymblesworth, that ever hereafter it shall be lawful for the said Parishioners of Kymblesworth in respect of their want of a church at Kymblesworth, to come to the said church of Witton aforesaid to divine service and sacraments, and whatsoever other rites, viz. burials, weddings, and churchings, accordingly as law requireth. Provided always that our Busshop of Durham and Mr. Deane do not withstand or let this their grant and agreement; and in consideration of this abovesaid agreement, the aforesaid Parishioners of Kymblesworth shall ever hereafter pay or cause to be paid unto the said Church of Witton Gilbert all and all manner of sessments accordingly to their ancient rent, to pay to the Church of Witton as they pay, viz. so much of the pound as they pay for themselves. And where it was agreed that in respect of the surplice and other things that the said Parishioners of Kymblesworth should pay iis. viiid.; which iis. viiid. they did pay unto the Churchwardens of Witton Gilbert, upon Trinity Sunday the year abovesaid. (fn. 48)

Rectors of Kymblesworth.

  • Kimblesworth, a discharged living in the Deanery of Chester.—Tenths 6s. 8d.—Episc. proc. 1s. 8d. D. and C. Patrons.
  • William de Hilton, 1255 (fn. 49).
  • Robert de Heslarton, 1308.
  • John de Lytham.
  • John de Derlington (fn. 50), 1352.
  • Robert de Ormesby, 1358, p. res. Derlington.
  • Thomas de Whome, p. res. Ormesby.
  • Hugh de Chilton (fn. 51), 1360, p. res, Whome.
  • John de Sykethorp, 1371, p. res. Chilton.
  • William Barker, 1374, p. res. Sykethorp.
  • John de Aycliffe (fn. 52), p. res. Barker.
  • Robert Carles, 1383, p. res. Aycliffe.
  • William de Bishopton, 1394, p. res. Carles.
  • John Skirwith, 1406, p.m. Bishopton.
  • John Soulby, 1414, p. res. Skirwith.
  • John Clerk, 1416, p. res. Soulby.
  • Robert Kemp, 1421, p.m. Clerk.
  • Robert Foston (fn. 53), 1430, p.m. Kemp.
  • Thomas Ryhall, 1434, p.m. Foston.
  • Richard Creswell, 1462, p. res. Ryhall.
  • Robert Clerk, 1465, p. res. Creswell.
  • John Pykering, 1478, p. res. Clerk.
  • John Woodfal, 1483, p. res. Pykering.
  • Ralph Hamsterley, 1484, p. res. Woodfal.
  • Henry Merrington, 1487, p. res, Hamsterley.
  • John Young.
  • Christopher Blunt, 1519, p. res. Young.
  • John Tyndale, 1526, p.m. Blunt.
  • Robert Hertborne, 1520, p.m. Tyndale.
  • John Smythe, 1 Sept. 1543, p.m. Hertborne.
  • Robert Crawforthe (fn. 54), 26 May 1560, p.m. Smythe.
  • Lawrence Pilkington (fn. 55), 1572, p. dep. Crawforthe.
  • Michael Pattenson, cl. pres. by the Bishop by lapse. p. m. Pilkington, 19 Jan. 1583. In his time Kymblesworth was united to Witton Gilbert.

The village of Kimblesworth (now reduced to two or three farmholds and a few cottages) stands about two miles to the North of Durham, a little to the left of the great North-road. The foundations of the church, which has been a small structure, may be still traced in a field a little South of the village. To the North-East of Kimblesworth, just upon the edge of the great road, are very evident remains of the embankments which formed the ancient vivarium de Kymblesworth, mentioned in a charter of Bishop Pudsey.

Sir Ralph Eure, of Witton, Knt, granted his manor of Kymblesworth (with Bradley in Weardale, and all his lands from Herperleyburn to Stanhope Park,) to Roger Flower, Walter St. Germayn, Robert de Leeg, Robert de Wyclyff, John Dalton, and William Paxton, Chaplains, on trust for his second son Robert Eure of Bradley (fn. 56), whose son, another Robert, left three coheirs, Isabel (fn. 57), wife of William Constable, Anne, wife of Ralph Constable, and Elen (fn. 57) of Henry Thwaites (fn. 58). Kimblesworth was afterwards parcel of the estates of Robert and Michael Tempest of Holmside, attainted in 1569. In 1573 the Queen granted to Edmund Gresham and Percival Gunston (trustees for Robert Bowes, Esq.) the messuage of Kimblesworth and Potterhouse (fn. 59). In 1575 Bowes and Gunston sold the manor and grange of Kimblesworth and Potterhouse to Richard Sandford, of Howgill Castle in Westmoreland, Esq. (fn. 60), who died seized of the estate in 1623 (fn. 61), leaving Sir Richard Sandford, Knt. his son and heir, whose grandson Richard Sandford, Bart. was murdered in London, Sept. 8, 1675 (fn. 62). He left an only son Richard, the last Baronet (fn. 63), and a daughter Mary (heir to her brother), who married Robert Honeywood, of Marks Hall in Essex, Esq. Their son, Lieut.-General Philip Honeywood, sold the estate of Kimblesworth to General Lambton, of Lambton. It is now the property of J. G. Lambton, Esq. M. P.

Findon Hill, a tenement within the parish of Kimblesworth, was conveyed 8 Oct. 1560, by Sir George Bowes, Knt. to William Harbotle, of Gill-houses, yeoman, after stiled of Holemyers (fn. 64). In 1575 William Harbert, alias Harbotle, and George his son and heir, granted the same estate to John Hildyard, of Fulforth, Gent. who created a long entail 7 July, 30 Eliz. 1588 (fn. 64). 13 July 1613 Robert. Hildyard (eldest son of John), Frances his wife, and John Hildyard their son and heir, granted to Thomas Wray, Gent. In 1641 Edward Walker of London, conveyed half the messuage of Findon Hill, to Richard Hedworth, of Chester, Esq. (fn. 64) The estate, or parcel of it, afterwards belonged to the Richardsons, of Framwellgate, and since to the Wilkinsons, who sold to Christopher Johnson, Esq. From the latter family the estate was purchased by General Lambton, and is now the property of J. G. Lambton, Esq. M. P.

Charitable Donations to the Parish of Witton Gilbert.

A letter from Mr. Richard Walton concerning the gift of his brother William Walton, and his own gift (fn. 65) :—“My brother in his will, dated 1 Oct. .. 24 did give 10l. to be disposed of by me. I doe remember at my goeinge to Cambridge in the monthe of May 1594, received as a testimony of your loves the some of six shillings and eight pence, which gifte I have imployed this two and twentye yeare, and being desirous to make some returne of thankfullnesse I have restor'd unto you your lent noble and thirtie-two nobles more, being the increase of it, twelve pounds in all, as an addition to my brother William his ten pounds.—“From my house in Coleman Street, July 3, 1626.”

By will dated 14 Nov. 1728 (proved 1729), Jane Finney, of the North Bailey, widow (fn. 66), gave (inter alia caritativa) “to Anthony Lee and James Middleton a little close in Witton, in the possession of John Baxter, at ye yearly rent of 1l. 15s. or thereabouts (through which there is a footway to Witton Church), upon trust for the endowment of a school in Witton, the master whereof shall teach four poor children of the town or parish of Witton to read English gratis.”


  • 1. This is an ancient separate Rectory, but now generally considered as parcel of Witton Gilbert.
  • 2. The following Boundary (perambulated probably on the first division of the Chapelry) is copied in the Parochial Register:—“Memorandum. Quod Parochia de Wytton Gilbert incipit ab Hennyburn, aliter Hordlyburn, ex parte oriental!, sequendo le Hordleyburn usque Conkburn, et ita usque ad le Lech juxta locum vocat. Nixon howse, et sic ad le Marlparli usq. ad le Lech inter le Marlpark et Ed munslefeld, et usq. ad le Sagarstaynhough et Blackburn sicut cadit in Were, et sic ascendendo rivulum de Blackburn à stagno D'ni Epi. juxta Kymlisworth usq. ad caput ejusdem rivuli, et sic de capite illius rivuli usque Yvesmosse que est infra parcum de Berepark; et sic descendendo versus boream per quoddam siketum quod cadit de Yvesmosse usq. le Halywell in Myddelwodde, et sic ex parte occidentali per quoddam siketum usq. dum dictum siketum quod currit inter Stanyleses et Sclaytfiat, descendendo per West-hall et Ryding quousq. perveniatur in Bronn infra parcum.”
  • 3. See Stanley, p. 228; Beamish and Tanfield, 219–222; and Cruketon, p. 352.
  • 4. See these Charters ad calcem.
  • 5. See vol. I. p 6, and Pallion, vol. I. p. 241.
  • 6. See p. 229.
  • 7. See Bear Park.
  • 8. Inq. p. m. 15 Langley, 1420. The manor was held of the Bishop by fealty, knight's service, and 20s. value 100s.
  • 9. Inq. p. in. Petri Tylliol, Chivaler, 29 Langley. Inq. p.m. Rob. Tylliol, eod. die. See Hetton, vol. p. 215, throughout.
  • 10. Katharine, daughter and heir of Ralph Emerson, married Anthony Meaborne, of Pontop, see Pedigree of Meaborne, p. 351. Their descendants held lands in Witton Gilbert after 1660. Licence to Katherine Meaborne, widow, to grant a third of the manor of Witton to Anthony Meaborne, 5 Aug. 1632.
  • 11. Licence to George Snaith to grant to John Snayth half the lands which their father John Snayth acquired of Sir Thomas Knevett, Knt. 29 Sept. 1618, Rot. Neile. Dec. 1657, Thomas Snaith sold the East-Rydeing-close to Thomas Fairbarne.
  • 12. Livery to Anne, daughter and heir of Ch. Thompson, and pardon of alienation to John Snayth, 1620. Rot. Neile.
  • 13. The name is ancient in Witton. John Shephardson occurs 1423. 1617 John Shipperdson and Miles his son. 12 Dec. 1639, Miles Shipperdson and Margaret his wife grant a messuage, garden, and 18 acres to William Tayler. 1658 Miles Shipperdson leases the Muzzles to George Walton.
  • 14. In 1660 William Tayler and Mark and Thomas his sons demised lands for 1000 years to George Walton. In 1711, John Walton son of George, devised to his own son Joseph Walton, whose children John Walton, Hannah, wife of George Fewster, and Isabel wife of William Rowell, sold to John Hornsby 1756.
  • 15. Robert, son and heir of Robert Watson, in ward of Edward Woodmas, 1613.
  • 16. The hospital stood a few score yards to the North of the church; it is now a farm-house belonging to the corpse-land of the South stall. A pointed window still remains studded with the nail-head ornament I. R.
  • 17. In which arrangement (unless, as I suspect, there be some clerical error in the statement) the sisters exceed the brethren by four oxen and eight hundred red herrings, ideo quære.
  • 18. There is a gallery at the West end of the nave, added 1742.
  • 19. 4th Cartuar. Eccles. Dun. fo. 98.
  • 20. Hic vir fuit verus Vicarius de Bray. Randal.
  • 21. Precentor of the Cathedral and Vicar of Aycliffe, ob. 1772, æt. 62. M. I. Crossgate.
  • 22. Rector of Elwick, Clancellor of St. Paul's and Precentor of St. David's.
  • 23. In 1727 Thomas Brass, of Flass, Gent. conveyed to William and John Pye, Gents. (subject to 300l. for his daughter Mary Brass, who married Thomas Lewen, Esq.) William Pye the survivor devised to Sir Lancelot Allgood, of Nunwick, co. Northumberland, Knt. who sold to Margery and Catherine Andrews, spinsters, in 1749. From the family of Andrews the estate was purchased by Mr. Castle, whose assignees sold to Thomas Hopper, Esq. and he lately conveyed to Mr. Burrel.
  • 24. Lib. Elemos. fo. 103. Test. D. Will'o de Laton milite, Johanne de Malton, Senescallo Dom. Prioris, Will'o Capellano Elemosinarie, Rogero de Es, Will'o de Auford, Walt'ro de Brome, Will'o de Franklayn, et aliis.
  • 25. Rot. Langley, A° 6.
  • 26. Rot. Tunstall.
  • 27. Bundle of Indentures enrolled in Cane. Dunelm.
  • 28. See Pedigree of Hildyard hereafter, under Durham.
  • 29. Fine 26 July 11 Jac.
  • 30. Locus de Bello Reditu, olim fuit Vaccaria pertinens ad Eleemosynam Dunelm. de qua excambium pro Moor-house farm per Bertramum Priorem Dunelm. Mickleton, quoting Reg. 4 D. and C. fol. 1 and 41. Tempore Berthrami Prioris Vaccaria quædam prope Dunelmum mutata est in locum solatii et edificiis ornata; a quo tempore dicta est Beaurepaire, id est Bellus Reditus.
  • 31. Stratefior Abbey in Cardigan, Strata fiorida, Stratford, &c. The word, though entering into the composition of so many local names, perhaps sounds strange to a Southern ear.
  • 32. Apud Beaurepaire cameram, cum capella, quæ multorum judicio non multis in Episcopatu est inferior, construxit. Graystanes. Apud Wharton, Ang. Sacra, vol. II. 739.
  • 33. Hugo de Derlington, Prior Dunelmensis, fecit magnum campanile; Parcos de Beaurepaire et Muggleswick; stagnum de Fery, &c. Leland.
  • 34. Episcopus, Parcum de Beaurepaire ingressu, feras quæ tunc ibi abundabant, quasi demoliri satagens, fœmellas et mares indifferenter cepit. Graystanes. Wharton, vol. II. p. 749.
  • 35.
  • 36. A° 1315, infra Octabas S. Joh. Bapt. depredati sunt Scoti quasi totum instaurum Domus apud Beaurepaire, et alibi. Mickleton, vol. II. p. 102; and see Wharton, vol. II. p. 756.
  • 37.
  • 38. Hugo de Derlyngton Prior inclusit Bewparke: fuit rustiea Prioris Dunelm. sedes, et John Fossour Prior ibidem vixit et obiit. Mickl. vol. II. p. 102. Apud Bearpare ab isto sæculo transmigravit, anno ætatis suæ 90. Wharton, p. 769.
  • 39. Bearpark is included in a general grant of free warren to the Prior.
  • 40. Domos multas vetustate consumptas apud Bearparkc reparavit. Wharton, vol. II. p. 782.
  • 41. Mickleton, on the authority of James Smart, the Abbey glazier, says, that Deans James and Hunt occasionally resided in summer at Bearpark—aliquando, tempore æstivali, vol. II. p. 102.
  • 42. The estate is valued in this account at 285l. or 300l. per ann. and Dean Sudbury is charged with 6000l. received from the same—toto tempore quod fuit Decanus. Randall's MSS.
  • 43. Sir John Sudbury, Bart. nephew and executor of Dean Sudbury, married the daughter of Dr. Exton.
  • 44. Mr. Wilson (afterwards Spiritual Chancellor of the Diocese of Durham) appears in several MS letters as agent for Dean Sudbury and Sir John Sudbury.
  • 45. Gave.
  • 46. Orig. letter D. and C. Treas. The old Earl of Salisbury had frequent intercourse with the Prior, of whom on one occasion he begs the loan of a gallant black charger for a campaign in Scotland.
  • 47. Die Sabb. xii Sept. 1601, their church is all decayed, all fallen down to the ground. 15 Dec. 1608, Raphe Harbart desires burial at Witton Gilbert, Kimlesworth “being falne to decay and ruin.” Yet, 28 Feb. 1623, “Maria Stoke pcregrina in domo Edw. Robinson de Kimlesworth recepta intuitu paupertatis sepulta in cancello de Kimlesworth.”
  • 48. Entry in Witton Gilbert Register, from the Orig. by John Smith, Curate.
  • 49. Richard de Yeland, Mil. Patron. Reg. Eccles. Dunehn.
  • 50. Rector of Preston Bisset, Bucks, and of Hingharn, Norfolk Archdeacon of Norwich. Blomefield, vol. I. p. 667. See his Seal, Plate, N°.
  • 51. Vicar of Norham.
  • 52. Vicar of Aycliffe.
  • 53. Suffragan to Cardinal Langley and Bishop of Elphin.
  • 54. Retired to Whitworth. Will dated 26 June 1583.
  • 55. Bur. at Witton Gilbert, 21 March 1582-3.
  • 56. Inq. p.m. Ralph Eure, Chivaler, 17 Langley, and Inq. de terris supra dictis alien. sine licent. 10 Dec. 5 Nevill.
  • 57. Isabel remarried Peter Bygot, and Elen remarried Richard Eryngton. Henry Thwaites left two coheirs, Frances and Catharine, who were in ward of Thomas Tempest, 10 June, 13 Ruthall.
  • 58. Livery 24 Sept. 1 Sherwood, 1485.
  • 59. Together with a chief messuage in Willington, late of Cuthbert Nevill late of Cuthbert Nevill attainted, a messuage in Ufferton, late of John Swinburne, Esq. and Bennet-feilds in Darlington, late of John Gower. Mickleton, vol. XXXIII. p. 101.
  • 60. Pardon 4 Feb. 6 Jac. for alienation without licence 13 June, 17 Eliz. Sir George Bowes, Knt. levied a fine to Sandford of the same premises, 18 Eliz.
  • 61. Inq. 6 April, 20 Jac. The tenure is stated to be in capite by the 40th part of a knight's fee.
  • 62. An account of the murder was printed 1680. See the Pedigree of Sandford, Burn and Nicolson, vol. I. p. 387. This elder Sir Richard married Mary, daughter of Sir Francis Bowes, of Thornton, co. Pal. Knt.
  • 63. Said to be born the very hour of his father's death.
  • 64. Title Deeds of J. G. Lambton, Esq. M. P.
  • 65. They were sons of Cuthbert Walton, of Witton Gilbert.
  • 66. Widow of James Finney, D. D. Prebendary of the third stall, and Rector of Ryton; for her other charitable bequests see St. Giles's Parish in Durham.