Parish of Bishop Middleham

The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards. Originally published by Nichols and Son, London, 1823.

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Robert Surtees, 'Parish of Bishop Middleham', in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards( London, 1823), British History Online [accessed 14 July 2024].

Robert Surtees, 'Parish of Bishop Middleham', in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards( London, 1823), British History Online, accessed July 14, 2024,

Robert Surtees. "Parish of Bishop Middleham". The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards. (London, 1823), , British History Online. Web. 14 July 2024.

In this section


The Parish of Bishop Middleham forms the extreme North-western angle of Stockton Ward. It is bounded by Kelloe on the North, by Trimdon and Sedgefield on the East, by Sedgefield on the South, by a portion of the Parish of Aycliffe on the South-West, and by Merrington on the West.

The Parish of Bishop Middleham contains the Constableries of, 1. Bishop Middleham; 2. Cornforth; 3. Thrislington; and, 4. Mainsforth. Garmonsway is extra-parochial.

Bishop Middleham,

A considerable village, irregularly built on two sloping limestone-hills, and in the hollow betwixt them.

Osbert, the nephew of Bishop Ralph Flambard, gave the Church of Middleham to the Prior and Convent of Durham in 1146 (fn. 1), with the consent of William then Bishop of Durham. In the same charter Osbert states himself to be also owner of the manor, by gift of Bishop Ranulph; but if so, the manor soon reverted to the See of Durham, to which it has ever since remained attached.

Under Boldon Book, or about 1180, Middleham, jointly with Cornforth, contained twenty-six tenants in villenage, whose tenures, rents, and services, were similar to those of Boldon; seven cottagers, each of whom held six acres, and worked for the lord two days in each week from St. Peter's day till Martinmas, and one day during the winter half-year; four bordarii, who paid four shillings for as many tofts and crofts, and tilled four portions of land for the lord. William, the headborough, had two oxgangs in Cornforth, as the salary of his office; which if he leased, he paid 4s. rent, and 2s. for every other oxgang in his tenure. The two vills paid jointly 17s. 4d. for cornage, ten marks for the mill, and provided a milch cow and a half. The Punder had twelve acres attached to his office, and paid fourscore hens and four hundred eggs. Only two free-tenants are mentioned: Arkil held four oxgangs, and paid 14s.; and Ralph held two oxgangs, paid 10s. and led five wain-loads of wood.

The demesne, consisting of six carucates, as well in Middleham as in Sedgefield, with the meadow and pasturage, was entirely in the lord's own occupation.

Hatfield's Survey contains a very full and minute description of the Manor and Demesnes. The Jurors present,

That the manor of Middleham is worth nothing beyond reprizes; that it contains three carucates of land (each carucate of ninety acres), and 270 acres of meadow, which, at 6d. per acre, amounts to vil. xvs. Item, of demesne meadow—In Grange-Medow eighteen acres and a half, worth 3s. per acre if it were freed from water; and the Ridding ten acres, and one acre called Halbetson's, worth 2s. 6d. per acre, if dry. The New Medow, twenty acres, 2s. per acre on like condition (si evacuetur de aqua).

s. d.
Half an acre of meadow called Midherhomplech iii 0
Edmunde's Meadow, twelve acres xii 0
Grange Croke, one acre iii 0
Stanycrok, one acre v vi
Spurnhawes Medowe, four acres iii 0
Haynsorelmed, thirteen acres, 2s. 6d. per acre xxxii vi
The Prye, four acres, 18d. per acre vi 0
Redker, three acres, 18d. per acre iv vi
The Welhede, two acres iv 0
Stynkandlech, one acre iv 0
One acre of meadow called Stanynghop vi viii
Pasture Ground.
The Herbage of the Park, average value liii iv
The Cotemore, with ....... and Harper More xxviii 0
The pasture in the Marsh called the Horseker, if it be freed from water xiii iv
The Willowker i viii
At Cornforth, the Halmede, eight acres, 5s. per acre xl 0
At Sedgefield, the Estmede, eight acres, 2s. 6d. per acre xx 0
The Herbage of an orchard within the scite of the manor ii 0
A garden behind the ox-house, leased for iii iv
A curtilage near the Servant's Chamber ii 0
Total value in Manu Domini xiil. viis. xd.

A part of the demesne (which under Boldon Buke consisted of six carucates) was in lease. Among other tenements, Robert Reginald held a messuage called Grewhondes-place.

The other tenants of the manor are divided into, 1. Free-tenants, from whom only a yearly rent was exacted in lieu of all personal service; 2. Tenants by Exchequer rents, chiefly cottagers and occupiers of small parcels, whose tenure was a mixture of rent and personal service; and, 3. Bond-tenants or Villans, whose services were originally altogether personal, extending to at least one half of their annual labour, or, in other words, to three days' work in every week for the service of the Bishop; but these services had already begun to be commuted for monied payments.

The original services of the Bond-tenant (which may be once for all enumerated here, and referred to, with little variation, under the other members of the manor,) were as follows:—His tenement consisted of a messuage and two oxgangs (each oxgang containing fifteen acres), for which he paid 2s. in money, at the four usual terms; sixpence for scatpennies at the Purification; six bushels of oats (called in Boldon Buke half a chalder of scat-oats) at the same term; and sixpence for aver-pennies at Martinmas. He led five wainloads of wood on St. John's day, provided two hens at Christmas, and ten eggs at Easter. He worked three days in every week for the lord, excepting the respite of thirteen days at Christmas, and one week at Easter and at Pentecost. He tilled four portions of land in autumn, with all his family, except the huswife, mowed three roods of averripe, and ploughed and harrowed three roods of averheath, and two acres more of arable; and when this service was performed, he had one corrody from the Bishop, and was released from further labour during that week. He was entitled to a corrody also when he assisted at the great tillage in autumn. His regular weekly days' works consisted in harrowing and gathering loads of timber, and when he performed this severe work he had a loaf of bread from the lord; and when he mowed at the manor-place from morning till evening, he had a corrody. At St. Cuthbert's fair two of the Bond-tenants might join to build one booth; and when they made lodges (logeas), or led (wodlades) woodlades, they were free of all other labour for that day.

Neither this nor any other Survey affords any description of the Castle of Middleham (fn. 2), a principal residence of the Bishops of Durham from the conquest till the end of the fourteenth century. Its situation on a lofty brow of limestone, overlooking the marshy level of the Skerne, is still traced by deep indented lines of foundation, and by some fragments of masonry, overspread with moss, and as hard as the crag on which they stand. The last remaining portion of building, a low oblong arched room, was removed several years ago. From its North-eastern angle a narrow subterraneous passage was traced, paved with broad flags, and descending rapidly towards the North. Of carved or sculptured stone nothing remains; only the old barn across the road to the North has perhaps formed part of the offices of the castle, and the farm-buildings on the Island-hill appear to have been raised out of the squared stones brought from the ruin. As far as can be gathered from the traces of foundations, the chief apartments have occupied the very South-eastern brow of the hill, commanding a wide, and probably a dreary view over a level country as far as the course of the Tees, terminated only by the long range of the Yorkshire Hills. Immediately beneath the site of the castle on the South, and still more on the East, the ground falls almost precipitously, and the foot of the crag is plunged in a deep morass, still only imperfectly drained (fn. 3). The inundation has evidently been extended Eastward beneath the church as far as the East well, and not improbably the whole site of the church and castle has been capable of being occasionally insulated. There seems no obstacle to prevent the water from having been carried over the low grounds behind the vicarage, and through the garths and inclosures near the Mainsforth-lane, till it should join the main fosse under the Castle-hill Southwards. The whole plot of rising ground thus insulated, would scarcely exceed five and twenty acres. On the South-east, immediately below the site of the castle, a road is forced over the morass (which may here perhaps be rather termed a fosse) to the park, an enclosure of a hundred acres of very various soil—marsh, moorish upland, and a proportion of dry sound pasturage. The old park-wall is still perfect, and in summer is yellow with the blossom of stonecrop. Just within the Southern nook of the park are the remains of a few ancient foresters: a hollow ash measures eleven feet in girth. Beyond the park lies the great level of the Carrs, and over this shaking marsh the Bishop's route must have lain to Sedgefield.

The historical evidences of Middleham Castle are very brief. The place is named by no general historian, and it occurs in no list of ravages during the frequent periods of Scottish invasion. It is evident from Boldon Book that the castle and demesne were in Bishop Hugh's own occupation: and numerous charters dated here attest the residence of his successors. Bishop Robert de Insula died here, in 1283 (fn. 4); and here, in 1316, the pious Bishop Kellaw expired “in the lesser chamber (fn. 5).” Middleham still continued to be an Episcopal residence under Bishop Bury; for the munificent prelate is recorded to have distributed a hundred shillings as often as he journeyed from Durham to Middleham (fn. 6). It seems probable that the place was soon after deserted. At the period of Hatfield's Survey the demesne was on lease. A century later, Middleham is totally omitted in Bishop Booth's Record of Vert and Venison (fn. 7); and much less is it charged in dilapidations on any subsequent vacancy of the See. The buildings in the occupation of a tenant who regarded only the value of the gardens and ground-plot, would gradually fall to decay, or be dilapidated in the usual manner, for the purpose of building barns, farmholds, and cottages out of the ruins. No tradition at least is preserved as to any period of final destruction or regular dismantling; nor, excepting the small portion already described, are any remains of buildings remembered by the oldest inhabitant. Most literally—ipsæ periére ruinæ.

The Manor of Bishop Middleham (which includes Sedgefield and Cornforth) remains vested in the See of Durham; and at this day the chief proportion of the lands (with the exception however of the impropriate rectory, and several other freeholds (fn. 8),) are held under the Bishop by lease, or copy of court-roll.

The Halmot Court is held once in six months, at Middleham, Sedgefield, and Cornforth, in rotation.

The Demesne and Park.—After the Manor-house was deserted by the Bishops, these were probably leased to the Bailiffs (fn. 9) for the time being. In 1509 Bishop Ruthall leased all the demesne-lands to John Hall, his Bailiff of Middleham, for thirty-one years, under 6l. rent; and the Depe Well Close, for 12d. rent. In 1521 John Hall had a new lease of the demesne for 31 years, 6l. rent; the Depewell, 12d.; and the Park “parcum muro inclusum,” under 53s. 4d. rent, as freely as William Hall his father occupied the same.

The demesne and park were not long after held by a branch of the family of Eure. Henry Eure, Esq. second son of the first Lord Eure, of Witton, is described of Bishop Middleham in 1564. In 1594 William Ewrye, Esq. surrendered to George Frevile, of Hardwick, Esq. 1. Grange-medow, Edmundes-medowe or New-medowe. 2. The Eland Close, near the site of the manor of Middleham. 3. The cottage and garden, called the Nether-hall, and the Horseker. 4. A messuage near the Manor-place and the Wellowker; reciting that the whole of these, as well as the parks and demesne, had been in the tenure of his father, Henry Ewrye, Esq. (fn. 10)

About the same time the Freviles acquired several scattered freeholds in Middleham. 20 Sept. 1588, Richard Heighington, of Bishop Middleham, Gent. granted his capital messuage in Middleham to George Frevile, Esq. for 200l. (fn. 10) 17 Sept. 1597, Wm. Jackson, yeoman, granted to Richard and George Frevile (trustees for Sir George Frevile) his messuage called le Front in le Falde, the dovecote and garden called Dovecote Garth (fn. 11). 30 Sept. 1599 John Shawe, of Thrislington, released another messuage to Sir George Frevile, who seems, by surrender, probably from Eure, to have been also lessee of the parks and demesne. In 1619 Sir George Frevile settled all his estates in Hardwick and Middleham on his younger nephew, Nicholas Frevile, Esq. In 1668 Nicholas Frevile, Esq. (with Sir Christopher Conyers, Bart. a mortgagee) conveyed the whole estate, freehold, leasehold, and copyhold, to William Bradshaigh, of Haigh, in Lancashire, Esq. for 3000l. Bradshaigh settled the estate in the same year on his marriage with Troath Kennet, of Coxhow (fn. 12). In 1704 William Braidshaigh, Esq. Troath his wife, Troath his eldest daughter, (with her husband John Ingleby, of Lawkland, Esq.) and Mary his second daughter, joined in a sale to Nicholas Hall, of Furnival's Inn, Gent. for 5100l.; and in 1734 Guise Hall, of Lincoln's Inn, Esq. eldest son and devisee, and Annabella, widow of Nicholas, conveyed the chief portion of the estate to George Surtees, of Mainsforth, Esq. for 3300l. In 1761 George Surtees settled this estate (inter alia) on the marriage of his nephew Robert Surtees with Dorothea Steele; but one of the lives in the lease having expired, and Mr. George Surtees having neglected to renew it, the two remaining lives also dropped suddenly, upon which Bishop Trevor granted a new lease of the parks to his steward, Nicholas Halhead, Esq. whose daughters, Catharine wife of Francis Burton, Esq. and Miss Elizabeth Halhead, are the present lessees.

The site of the mansion-house (fn. 13), and some other portions of the estate, being of free or copyhold tenure, were exempt from the forfeiture, and are now in the possession of Robert Surtees, Esq.

The Church

It has been stated that Osbert gave the Church of Middleham to the Monastery of Durham. Ranulph, Rector of Middleham, base son of Bishop Flambard, confirmed the donation as far as regarded the cession of his personal rights. This appropriation, ratified by Bishop William, was disregarded by his successors, and the Church continued to be Rectorial.


  • Ranulfus, filius Ranulfi Episcopi, 1146.
  • Richard de Coldingham, 1180.
  • Philip Baillon, Decanus Pictavensis, made agreement (before Bp. Philip), with Arnald de Alclent, Master of the House of Sherburne, relative to the tithe-corn of the vill of Garmundsweie (fn. 14).
  • Berlengarius de Monteacuto, 1233.
  • Robert de Coquina, 1258. [Qu. If not afterwards Prior of Finchale, and Bp. of Durham (fn. 15) ?]
  • Richard, 1262.
  • William de Kyngeston, 1267, p. m. Richard.
  • Peter de Montecucho, the last rector, had a pension on his resignation. In 1286 he appointed Capo de Montecucho,familiarem suum, his attorney, to recover forty-five marks, the arrears of his pension, “Actum in Camera Dom. G. Episcopi Taurin. in presentia Dom. Guigonis, Prioris Prioratûs de Smardo, Dom. Jacobi de Chanteloba, Prioris de Sirba, Mag. Maunfred de Taur. Physic. et Perot Orluy Civis Taurin. xix Ap. 1286.

Afterwards appears the receipt of Capo de Montecute for forty-five marks had of John de Bellerby, servant of the Prior of Finchale, in the house of Roger Basy, citizen of York.

In 1278 Bishop Robert de Insula gave the Rectorial Church of Middleham to Finchale Abbey, ordaining at the same time the institution of a Vicarage (fn. 16), and that the Vicar should receive five annual marks, which the Rector had theretofore received out of the tithe-corn of Garmonsway, and should in consideration of such payment repair the chancel, and provide books and vestments for the service of the Church.

In 1325 the Prior and Convent of Durham confirmed to their Vicar of Middleham, a manse, viz. the small houses near the church (fn. 17), which William de Maneres and his predecessors had occupied, and the whole of the tithes, oblations, and mortuaries, except the tithe of grain, to the same church belonging; and also the five marks pension before named, issuing out of the tithe-corn of Garmonsway.

In 1379 the Prior of Durham recovered against Robert Haunslap, Vicar of Middleham, an annual rent of forty shillings, due out of the vicarage, and six years of arrear (fn. 18).

The treasury contains several other trifling records relative to the Church of Middleham: particularly how Master William de Swethop recovered a brass pot, nomine mortuarii, against John Sayning, executor of Julian Sayning (fn. 18).

The Church

Stands a bow-shot North-eastward from the site of the castle, on a narrow extension of the same high ground. The structure retains much of the simplicity of its original architecture. Two regular ailes, somewhat lower than the nave, are formed by three uniform round pillars on each side, supporting pointed arches. The chancel opens under a pointed arch which has sprung from corbels. The chief entrance is by a North porch, also under a pointed arch of three plain mouldings, springing from round pilasters with square capitals. A South door corresponds exactly in form and dimension. The original lights have been of the lancet form; three are closed up in the Southern wall of the chancel, and one in the North wall. One small lancet-light still remains at the East end of the South aile, and two are half closed at the West end of the nave. The pointed windows in the ailes were exchanged for modern sashes a few years ago; and at a subsequent period the three lancet-lights of the East window were replaced by one large pointed light.

Popular tradition attributes the present structure to Anthony Beke; and were the old lights restored, it would probably be very much in its original state. The whole building has had buttresses, which are still perfect, except those of the North aile, where the wall was taken down in 1802.

The font is a fine old basin of Stanhope marble.

Monumental Inscriptions

On a squared stone, fixed in the South wall of the chancel:

Ad sacros cineres et piam memoriam venerabilis viri edward. hutton, in legibus baccalaurei chariss. filior. rad. apposuit. hæc juris præcepta, honeste vivere, alterum non lædere, jus suum cuique tribuere, hic juris peritus calluit. justiniano æt. 72 annor. valedixit, lætus lubensq. se christo reddidit.

On a flat stone on the South of the altar:

Jane hutton, borne august the seaventh, an. dom. 1617, and dyed december the fourth, an. dom. 1660.

On a wooden tablet South of the altar:

Here lies Ralph Hutton, of Mensforth, Bachelor of Laws, Advocate of Durham, who married Margaret, daughter to Sir Wm Chaytor, of Croft, and had issue by her severall daughters, and one son Ralph, who married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Joseph Cradock, Knight, Commissary of Richmond. By her he had issue Elizabeth, Frances, Ralph, Jane, and Anne. Elizabeth was wife to Wm Bowtflower, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, merchant-adventurer, and had issue Thomas, who died an infant, and Elizabeth. She died in the 36th year of her age.

Death is the eclipse of Nature, the black shade
That will, ere long, our vital lamp invade.
We that remain with patience let us wait,
Looking, O Lord, for mercy at thy gate:
Our time is short; let us prepare for heaven,
Doing good on earth while time is given.

Arms, Gules, a fesse Or, charged with three fleurs de lis of the first, inter three cushions Argent, Hutton; impaling, party per bend indented, Argent and Azure, three cinquefoils counterchanged, Chaytor.

Hutton as before, impaling, Argent, a chevron Azure charged with three garbs Or, Cradock.

Vert, a chevron and three fleurs de lis in chief Or (probably intended for Bowtflower), impaling Hutton.

Round the escutcheon:—“Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Death by death is overcome.”

On a wooden tablet on the North of the altar:

Thomas Bedford, Vicar of Bishop Middleham, departed this life Sept. 1660, aged 72, who married Alice, the daughter of Bryan Frizell, and had by her Aman (fn. 19), Robert, Thomas, and John, Elizabeth, Alice, Mary, and Bridget. Alice, the relict of Thomas Bedford, departed this life in October, 1680, aged 74 years. She was mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to 74 children, besides embrios.

Arms, Argent, three bears' paws Sable, impaling, Argent, three roses Gules.

A stone tablet, fixed in the wall near the altar, is almost obliterated; it appears inscribed to Marmaduke Myers, who died Vicar in 1613.

In the middle of the chancel-floor is a large blue slab, sculptured with a cross on a pedestal of three steps.

On the North wall of the chancel, an old stone, charged with a shield bearing a garb or wheat-sheaf in bas-relief. Village tradition states this to be placed as a memorial that the owner of the corn-tithes is bound to repair the chancel; but is evidently monumental, from a death's head sculptured above, and has perhaps an obliterated inscription below the shield.

On a flat stone, near the South wall of the chancel, next the nave:

In the vault beneath are deposited the remains of Ralph Hopper, Esqre, barrister-at-law, who was born the 20th day of May, 1731, and departed this life the 11th day of January, 1786.

Near the same place, but without any inscription, is buried John Beckwith (fn. 20), Esq. Major-General in the Army, who died at Bishop Middleham; father of Major-General Sir George Beckwith, K. B. and of General Sir T. Sydney Beckwith, K. C. B. and of Major-Generals Ferdinand and William-Henry Beckwith.

On a stone in the middle aile, now removed:

Here lyeth the body of Susannah Darnton, of Mainsforth, who died November 6th 1714.

On a brass tablet within the vestry:

In the church-yard of Bishop Middleham are interred the remains of James Thomson, who was Vicar of Bishop Middleham 51 years, and died October 18th, 1791, aged 82 years. Also of Jane his wife, buried June the 15th, 1772, aged 64 years. Of George his son, buried March 26th, 1766, aged 24 years; and of Matthew his son, buried March 25th, 1783, aged 33 years.

In the Church-yard.—On an altar-tomb, near the South wall of the chancel:

Johannes Brabant, Vicarius,
obiit 28 Junii, A° Dñi 1683.
Nuda Sacerdotis docti bene
credere inertem.
Verba docent PoPulum,
vivere vita docet (fn. 21).
Elizabeth his wife died the 4th of August, 1684.
Blessed are the departed which die in the Lord.

On an altar-tomb:

Here lyeth the body of Tho. Hutcheson, who died Jan. 30, An. Domini 1673. Also of Dorothy his wife, who died July the 15, An. Dom. 1657. Also the body of Thomas Hutcheson, who died Jan. 23d, 17 30/29, aged 74.

On an altar-tomb:

Here lyeth the body of Dorothy, wife of William Woodhouse, of Cornforth, who departed this life Dec. 10th, 1710. Susanna their daughter, 1746–7, aged 94. John, son of Wm. and Dorothy Woodhouse, who died July 6th, 1752, aged 70. John, son of John and Jane Woodhouse, who died June 17, 1766.

Here lieth the body of Thomas Colledg, who departed this life the 8th of May, 1708, aged 67; and Jane his wife, who departed this life Aug. ye 27, 1713, aged 64. Here lieth Samuel Colledg.

Succession of Vicars.

Bishop Middleham Vicarage, in the Deanery of Stockton.—Dedication to St. Michael.—The Prior of Finchale, Patron, olim; since the Dissolution, the King.—King's Books, 4l. 19s. 2d.—Tenths, 9s. 11d.; Episc. Proc. 4s.; Synodals, 2s.; Archid. Proc. 2s.

  • William de Meneres, 1310.
  • Henry de Lutrington, 1317.
  • John de Mistreton, 1325, p. res. Lutrington.
  • Walter de Swethop, 1345, p. res. Mistreton.
  • William de Bermyston, 1338.
  • Richard de Scardeburgh, 1353.
  • William Fraunceys (fn. 22), occurs 27 Apr. 1375.
  • Robert Hanslape, 1377, p. res. Fraunceys.
  • John Gille, 1387, p. m. Hanslape.
  • Thomas de Barneby, 1389, p. res. Gille.
  • John de Crayke, 1395, p. res. Barneby.
  • John de Newburgh, 1411, p. m. Crayke.
  • John de Easingwald, occ. 1421.
  • William Bellingham, occ. 1451.
  • Richard Garnet, 1452.
  • Richard Bland, 1458.
  • John Cornay, 1474.
  • Thomas Hall (fn. 23), 1477.
  • Bertram Harbotell (fn. 24), 1484, p. res. Hall.
  • William Wayk, 1485, p. res. Harbotell.
  • Robert Turner, 1489, p. res. Wayk.
  • Thomas Jenyson, 1502, p. m. Turner.
  • John West, 1523, p. res. Jenyson.
  • Thomas Clifton, 1536, p. res. West.
  • John Benson, 1544, p. m. Clifton.
  • Thomas Middleton, 1558, p. m. Benson.
  • William Duxfield, 1577, p. res. Middleton.
  • Marmaduke Myers (fn. 25), 1585.
  • Thomas Bedford (fn. 26), A. B. 1613, p. m. Myers.
  • John Brabant (fn. 27), 1661, p. m. Bedford.
  • Cuthbert Swainston, A.M. (fn. 28), 1683, p. m. Brabant.
  • James Thompson, A.M. 1740, p. m. Swainston.
  • Robert Waugh, A. M. (fn. 29) Trin. Coll. Cambr. 1791, p. m. Thompson.
  • Henry Phillpotts, A. M. (fn. 30) Magdalen Coll. Oxon. 1806, p. m. Waugh.
  • Thomas-Henry Yorke, A. M. Univ. Coll. Oxon. 1813, p. res. Philpotts.

The Vicar is generally entitled to small tithes throughout the Parish (fn. 31); excepting that a modus of 6s. 8d. is paid for the hay-tithe of Thrislington; 13s. 4d. for hay-tithe of Corn-forth; and 3s. 4d. for Jackson's Close, in Bishop Middleham.

The glebe consists of about fifty-three acres and a half; of which thirty lie at Cornforth Gap, twenty in the Foemarts, next to Mainsforth, and three acres and a half at Holforth.

The vicarage-house stands low, at the foot of the Church-hill, not contiguous to any portion of the glebe. The house was almost rebuilt by the Rev. Robert Waugh, and has been extremely improved by the present incumbent.

In 1400 the Vicar of Middleham furnished one archer at the general Array of the Clergy.

The Parochial Register begins 1559, and has been well preserved; there is a chasm of a few years during the Civil War.

Amongst the early names which occur are, Warde, Rooksby, Ferrow, Widdowfield, Conyers, Stellinge, Morlayne, Hutcheson, Shawe, Colledge, Laiburne, Lambert, Widdowes, and Selbye.

Mrs. Elen Eurye, bur. Apr. 4, 1580.

George the Swynherd, buried Feb. 1, 1587.

Old Margret, servant of Mr. Warde, Julii 30, 1590.

A poore maide of Cornfourth, having a decease in a legg, buried Maii 20, 1591.

A child of the Shepperd's of Mainsfourth, Julii 20, 1594.

Wm. Moorehouse, Parker, Febr. 13, 1596.

A child, found dead in Cornefourth Pitts, Mart. 8, id. an.

Jeremye, servant to George Freville, Esq. July 26, 1601.

Mr. Topp Heth, of Eden, Gentleman, dying upõ Mainsforth-moore, coming frõ a horse-race, was buryed the firste day of April, 1620.

Mrs. Ann Brackenbury, wid. was buryed the xxiith May, 1624.

Mr. Edward Hutton, Gent. buryed the tenth day of . . . . , being Sent Thomas day, 1629.

A peregrine woman dying at Cornforth, was buryed here 9 Jan. 1631.

George Scurfield dyinge ye 18th of July, being slayne, was buryed at Great Staynton the day following.

A child of one Smart, a pedlar, dwelling at Raby, dying at Cornforth, was buryed the 23 of March, 1642.

A peregrin, a South contrey man and a souldier, taken by the Scotts at Chester, was buryed ye 8th of Aprill, 1644.

A Scotsman and souldier dying at Cornforth, ye souldiers themselves buryed him without any minister, or any prayers over him, ye 4th November, 1644.

Wm. Hutcheson, yeom. and Wm Hutcheson his sonn, were both buryed 4th Febr. 1644.

Thomas, son of Robt Weedifield, dying of ye plague at Cornforth, was ther buryed ye 29 of October. Wm, son of ye same Robt, dying of the plague at Cornforth, there was buryed ye 11th Novr. Elizabeth Weedifield, daughter of ye said Robt, dying of the same disease, was there buryed the 13th Novr, 1645.

Nicholas Smith, an English souldier, bur. 15 Febr. 1645.

Thomas Writ, at Cornforth, slayn by soldiers, was bur. 20 Feby, id. an.

A Scots souldier, called John Gentleman, was buryed here among themselves the 26th of Jany, 1646.

Ralph Eury, Esquier, was bur. 6 Feby, 1645. Mr. Willm Eury, Esquier, buried ye 11th of Maii, 1647.

Robert Sparke, a servt to Richd Fawdon, of Nunstainton, slain with a wayne, bur. 17 Aug. 1663.

Henry Mawer, hurt with Mr. Frevill's bull in ye park June 24th, and was buried the 27th of the same month, 1665.

Mrs. Margery Lambert, Sept. 15, 1672. Mr. Ralph Lambert, March 15, 1673–4.

Mr. Jos. Ward, aged 85 years, 4 months, 5 dayes, was buried the 23 day of July, 1666.

Thomas Haswell, of Cornforth, slaine at a lime-kilne Oct. ye 23, bur. ye 24, 1666.

Joseph Bowes, Gent. being found to have laid violent hands on himself, was buried in a void place 20 October. Affidavit (of burial in woollen (fn. 32) ) before Mr. Cradock.

Mr. John Brabant, vicar, was buryed ye 23d April, 1683. Mr. Christopher Kennet, Jan. 29, 1681.

The Impropriation or Lay Rectory.

The Rectory rested in the house of Finchale (or rather in the Convent of Durham, which enjoyed in fact the revenues of its subordinate Cells,) till the Dissolution (fn. 33). In 1561 (fn. 34) the Crown ejected Gerard Salvin, of Croxdale, Esq. John Brymley, Organist of Durham, and Robert Birkhead, from the corn-tithes of Cornforth, parcel of the Rectory, which they held by lease from Hugh Prior of Durham, dated 1539, and so subsequent to the surrender. In 1596 John Warde, Gent. devised to his sons Peter and Henry Ward, for four years, and afterwards to his son John Ward, “her Majesty's letters patent of the Rectory and Church of Byshop Middleham, with all the gleabe tithes and appurtenances.” In 1644 the impropriate Rectory of Middleham was (by what channel of conveyance I am ignorant) vested in Bryan Cockayne, first Viscount Cullen of Ireland; and in the same year the estate was sequestered for the loyalty of its owner (fn. 35). In 1679 Viscount Cullen granted his Rectory, or Church impropriate, of Bishop Middleham with the tithes of corn and grain, to trustees for the use of Robert Pierson, of Forcet, Gent. and Mary his second wife, sister of Lord Cullen, with remainder to the heirs of Mary, whose only daughter Margaret Pierson intermarried with Gilbert Spearman, Esq. in her right of Bishop Middleham. George Spearman, Esq. son of Gilbert and Margaret, left two daughters, Elizabeth Honoria, wife of William J. S. Wasey, Esq. and Anna Susanna Spearman (fn. 36), who, in 1769, conveyed the impropriate Rectory to Ralph Hopper, Esq. Barrister at Law, whose son John Thomas Hendry Hopper, Esq. sold the same estate (except the tithes of Mainsforth and Thrislington, and some small parcels of lands separately alienated,) to William Russel, of Brancepath Castle, Esq. (fn. 37)

The tithes of Mainsforth, parcel of the impropriation, were purchased by Robert Surtees, Esq. and those of Thrislington by Robert Hopper Williamson, Esq.

The mansion-house belonging to this estate, the residence of the Pearsons and Spearmans, is a spacious old building with two regular wings, fast falling to decay; it closely adjoins the church-yard on the East (fn. 38), and occupying the extreme Eastern part of the same hill or ridge, is girdled in by the old fosse on the South (with the Island-hill in front opposing a more extended view), and by the continuation of the morass East: on the North its walls overhang the Vicarage very ominously. The old garden, shaded by decaying walnut-trees, lies across the road up the church hill; and another appendage to the mansion, a close of four acres, which retains the primitive name of the Croft, and which I remember filled with blackhearts, walnuts and redstreaks, rising over a close mass of hazels, lies still further distant, in a warm orchardly situation on the Southern slope of the hill across the Mainsforth-lane.

A farm called the Island (divided by the old fosse from the impropriate Rectory (fn. 39) ) was purchased by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and belongs in equal proportions to the Vicar of Pittington, and the Perpetual Curates of Hartlepool and Castle Eden.

Amongst the many ancient yeomanly families who held lands in Bishop Middleham, the Hutchinsons (originally, no doubt, of the same stock with those of Cornforth) appear to have been peculiarly numerous; the property of one branch of the family centered by marriage in the Leightons of Easington (fn. 40).

Respected as the family of Ward was in this Parish, their property has never occurred to me excepting a temporary possession of the impropriate Rectory, and of a few closes in Mainsforth. Their hereditary estate was probably some church lease, now undistinguishable amidst the mass of tenures into which the episcopal manor is divided; and it might be therefore extremely true that the excellent Samuel Ward was “a gentleman of more ancientry than estate.” He was not, however, totally destitute, for Mr. John Ward left “to his son Samuel the tithe of Thrislington, paying therefor yearly the rent reserved unto her Matie, until such tyme as it shall please God to sende him some other preferment worth xxl. by the yeare at the least.” Upon this provision Mr. Ward betook himself to the University of Cambridge, and being first Scholar of Corpus Christi College, was from thence elected to a Fellowship in Emanuel (fn. 41); a situation with which he was so well satisfied, that it required considerable influence on the part of his friends to induce his acceptance of a domestic chaplaincy offered him by Montague, Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 1609, on the death of Dr. Aldrich, he was appointed Master of Sydney-Sussex College (fn. 42), and returned with great satisfaction to his academical residence, which he never afterwards quitted. His preferments however did not end here. In 1615 he was installed Archdeacon of Taunton, on the presentation of his old patron Bishop Montague; in 1617 was collated to the Prebend of Ampleford, in the church of York; and in 1624 was rector of Much-Munden, Herts. In 1618 (fn. 43) he was one of the English Divines who assisted at the Synod of Dort, and returned to Gravesend, re infectâa as to the proposed reconciliation of the Protestant Churches, in May 1619. In 1620 Dr. Ward served the office of Vice-Chancellor; and in the year following was appointed Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity. The next twenty years of his life glided away in the easy retirement of a college, and little can be known, and little can be told, of peaceful days, diversified only by academical duties. Cole, in his long memoir, fills the blank with notices of Dr. Ward's learned friendships and correspondence. Among the great names which appear in this intercourse are, Archbishop Usher (fn. 44), Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury, and Bedell of Kilmore. I will only select one passage from this mass of correspondence; “There was the last week a codfish brought from Colchester to our market to be sold, in the cutting up which there was found in the maw of the fish a thing which was hard, which proved to be a book of a large 16°, which had been bound in parchment; the leaves were glewed together with a jelly, and being taken out, did smell much at the first, but after washing of it Mr. Mead did look into it. It was printed, and he saved a table of the contents. The book was entituled 'A Preparation for the Cross:' it may be an especial admonition to us at Cambridge. Mr. Mead upon Saturday read to me the heads of the chapters, which I very well liked. Now it is said to be made by Richard Tracey, of whom Bale maketh mention, Cent. q. p. 719. He is said to flourish there 1550; but I think the book was made in K. Henry 8ths time, when the six articles were a-foot: the book will be printed here shortly.” (fn. 45) The Archbishop makes reply—“I received your letter, wherein you signify unto me the news of a book taken in the fishes belly (and another letter from Mr. Mead, touching the same argument). The accident is not lightly to be passed over, which (I fear me) bringeth with it too true a prophecy of the state to come; and to you at Cambridge it may well be a special admonition.” Whatever this strange parallel to the rings of Polycrates and Alderman Anderson might be deemed to forbode, the times were certainly not without their signs (fn. 46). A deceitful calm indeed prevailed: Charles governed without a Parliament, and silence (fn. 47) was mistaken for submission; but the storm was mustering in its secret caverns, and the good and moderate of all parties listened with anxious apprehension to the rush of the coming whirlwind, and the roar of the agitated waters—

— Freta ponti
Incipiunt agitata tumescere, et aridus altis
Montibus (fn. 48) audiri fragor (fn. 49).

The Church, intimately connected as it was with the State, stood in no safer condition. The strange perverse appetite of Laud for forcing the English Liturgy on the stubborn hard-mouthed Presbyterians of Scotland, and the injudicious desire of approximating to the splendid ritual of Rome (the besetting sin of Laud, and of many leading members of the wealthy Church of England), were at least counterbalanced in folly and ill purpose by the rigid obstinacy of the Puritans, who (as it was quaintly said) liking Christianity the worse for the sign of the cross, took up deadly feud against decent inoffensive observances, and did not hesitate to pull down the Crown, provided the Mitre were involved in the common ruin. But little of neutral ground seems to have been left betwixt the contending parties; and the unfortunate individual who dared to occupy it, generally drew upon himself the full quiver of arrows from one party at least, without receiving an adequate support from the other. The Master of Sydney was not without his own particular lot of trial and mortification. Universally honoured and beloved as he was for his admirable and impartial government of his house, for his inflexible integrity, and excellent simplicity of life, he was blamed for his reluctance in complying with what he termed “inventions and newfangledness;” was accused of leaning to Puritanism (fn. 50) and Calvinistic doctrine, and on the score, it may seem, of his inclination to these uncourtly tenets, forfeited his claims to such higher preferment as his acknowledged character and learning might have well seemed to warrant (fn. 51). Satisfied, however, with his present Status, and unsolicited by the fiends of avarice or ambition, the good old Master of Sydney desired nothing more than to see his sun go down with peace upon Israel. “Well, God's will be done, and teach us patience and humility!” said he; and indeed, though his sands ran low, he was yet called on to give exemplary proof of both qualities. In 1641 Dr. Ward (in consideration probably of his presumed inclination to Puritanism) was nominated one of the Committee for Religion in the Jerusalem Chamber, as well as one of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster; but he never sat in either: and in the following year, when the civil war had fully broken out, he heartily concurred in the measure of sending the college plate to supply the Royal Mint at York. The Republicans wished for the reliques at least of this golden harvest; and being resisted in their demand of some similar contribution from the University, the Vice-Chancellor and several heads of houses, amongst whom was the venerable Provost of Sydney, were seized and kept prisoners in the Schools, “it falling on a good Friday, March 30, 1643, in an exceeding cold night, till after midnight, without fire, food, or lodging.” This duresse (which, however, does certainly not seem more than a man of any common nerve might support decently enough) produced nothing more than an unalterable resolution, “that it was unlawful to contribute towards the support of the Parliament army in the war levied against his sacred Majesty.” Severer trials, however, than a night spent in the Schools, ensued. Dr. Ward was deprived of his Mastership, his Professor's Chair, and of every worldly emolument, and was kept close prisoner in his own College, or in St. John's, for several weeks. He was, it seems, released; but a disease, contracted from confinement and the interruption of his usual habits, put an end to his existence within a few weeks after his enlargement, on the 6th Sept. 1643. His last words were, “God bless the King—and Lord Hopton. (fn. 52) ” He was buried in the chapel of Sydney Sussex College two days afterwards (fn. 53). Amongst the numbers who had been educated under the strict yet kindly rule of the old Master of Sydney, some at least did not desert him in the hour of trial; and Samuel Ward is scarcely better known by his own merits than by the faithful attachment and future fortunes of his favourite pupil Seth Ward. This young man was Dr. Ward's sizar or secutor (fn. 54) in Sydney, and by his kind and ingenious disposition, obtained his particular notice and favour (fn. 55). Afterwards, when Dr. Ward was deprived and committed prisoner in St. John's, Seth Ward relinquished all his preferment, and attended his old master as a faithful servant till his death, “even till the good old man took the wings of a dove to fly away and be at rest.” It is pleasing to add, that Seth Ward lived to wear the mitre of Salisbury; and to his honour be it added, that he refused a simoniacal offer of the See of Durham. Dr. Ward's inflexible adherence to principle, his calm, patient courage, and his steady loyalty,

— true as the dial to the sun,
Although it be not shone upon,

are sufficiently apparent from the preceding pages. His talents seem to have been rather solid than bright (fn. 56); of that useful sort which wears well. “A Moses he was not only for slowness of speech, but for meekness of nature. When I have beheld him and Dr. Collins (disputable whether more different or more eminent in their endowments), I could not but remember the running of Peter and John to the sepulchre: John came first as youngest and swiftest, but Peter first entered into the grave. Dr. Collins had much the speed of him in quickness of parts, but the other pierced the deeper into underground and profound points of divinity (fn. 57).” The College flourished under Dr. Ward's management; four new Fellowships were added, the Scholarships, and a “fair Chapel,” built out of the old Dormitory of the Franciscans.

Dr. Ward's printed works are very few: after the Restoration, his affectionate pupil Seth Ward, published some of his Determinations and Prelections. He is said to have assisted in the translation of the Apocrypha (fn. 58).


An extra-parochial Constablery belonging wholly to Sherburn house. There is no village, only some scattered farmholds. The height of Garmondsway Moor, a mile to the North-east of Middleham, commands a most extensive prospect to the South-east, West, and North.

This is doubtless the ancient Via Garmundi, along which King Canute the Dane went barefooted pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Cuthbert (fn. 59).

Under Boldon Book.—In Garmundsway are five oxgangs which were Ralph Haget's, and which the Bishop now holds by escheat; they pay xvis. viiid. ten hens, and five score eggs. And the Bishop holds by purchase other four oxgangs, which lie waste. Bishop Pudsey's endowment of his house of Sherburn includes “the vill of Garmundsway, which we purchased, charged with four annual marks issuing out of the third part of the vill, to Ralph, son of Paulinus of York, and his heirs; and one carucate of land near Garmundsway, called Raceby, which we purchased from Baro, who first cultivated and settled on that land (as the charter of the same Baro testifies), subject to a rent of fifteen shillings to the lord of Great Kellaw (fn. 60).” Of this rent charge, Alexander de Kellaw released five shillings issuing out of his portion of Raceby (fn. 61).

Garmonsway is included in Bishop John's grant of free warren to the house of Sherburn in 1384 (fn. 62).

In 1204 Arnald de Auclent, Master of Sherburne, and Philip, Rector of Middleham, made a composition relative to the tithe corn of Garmondsway.

Composic'o intr Hospitalem de Shireburne, et Personam Ecclesiæ de Middleham.

Philippus dei gra. Dunelm. Ep' Omnib[us] Chri. fidel' ad quos littere iste pervenerint, Sal. in Dñno. Ad universitatis vestre noticiam volumus pervenire, quod cum inter Philippum Baillo Decan. Putan. personam Ecclesie de Middleham, et Arnaldum de Aldent, Rectorem domûs Leprosorum de Syreburn et ipsos Leprosos, super decimis bladi Ville de Garmundsware, quas idem Philippus ad Ecclesiam suam de Middelham pertinere dicebat, questio verteretur: tandem in presencia nostra nobis consentientibus et assensum prebentibus amicabilis inter eos composic'o intercessit hoc modo; videlt qd p'dus Arnaldus pro se et dictis Leprosis, ipsis volentib[us] mandantibus et assensum prebentibus, in plena synodo n'ra Dunelm. coram nobis omnibus qui aderamus audientibus recognovit dictas decimas dicte Ville de Garmundswere ad Ecclesiam de Middelham de jure spectare, et eas in manus nostras resignavit, et pro se et dictis Leprosis juri quod se in decimis illis dicebat habere penitus renunciavit; et nos dictum Philippum de decimis illis investivimus. Dictus vero Philippus decimas ipsas prenominato Arnaldo ibidem tradidit hoc modo ad firmam, à Synodo proxim. post Pasch. Anni Incarnac'ois Dni. Milles. centesim. in quinque annos habend. reddendo annuat. supradicto Decano vel certo nuncio suo pro dictis decimis lx. sol. usq. ad termin. nominatum: evoluto autem quinquennio, Ecclesia de Middleham predictas decimas cum omni integritate et sine aliqua reclamac'one rehabeat. Ut igitur quod in presencia nostra factum est, debitam optineat firmitatem, presentem cartam Sigilli nostri munimine fecimus roborari. Testibus, &c. 3a 12 sp'al. J.s.

Pedigree of Ward, of Bishop Middleham


The dates are from Bishop Middleham Parish Register


* He names his brother's sons Thomas and Robert Warde, and gives to the latter a house in Romaldkirke. “To my son Samuel a horse (probably for his peregrinations towards Cambridge); to each of my sons one silver spoone; to John Warde one silver tunne, and all such timber, woode, and trees, as is provided at Middleham and Chopwell, for building att Middlehame.”

*** A Pedigree compiled or transcribed by the Rev. John Ward, Vicar of Mickleover (see above), carries the family two generations higher; to Roger Warde, fifth brother of Sir Christopher Ward, of Grindale, co. York, Knt. whose son John Warde is stated to marry Joane, daughter of John Farrar, of Maynesforth. John, first named in the text, is placed as the issue of this match.


The Constablery of Cornforth adjoins Middleham on the North. The village, irregularly built round a green of several acres, lies on the northern slope of a hill, yet warm and sheltered, and surrounded on all sides by gushing streams, which burst from the limestone rock. The height at Stobcross, a little South from the village, commands an ample view over the Cathedral of Durham as far as the Western range of hills, whilst the soft green foreground is scattered over with hamlets and farmholds; the mill at Thinford shaded by a plump of sycamores; the green inclosures of Brandon house, and the deep wood and dell of Tursdale.

And here Stobcross “brings on a village tale.” A few fields to the South stands a ruined dove-cote, shaded by a few straggling ashes, and haunted by a brood of wood-pigeons. Here a poor girl put herself down for love, in the homely phrase of the country, on the very spot of her appointments with her traitor lover; and her spirit still hovers round the cote, the scene of her earthly loves and sorrows, in the form of a milk-white dove, distinguished from its companions by three distinct crimson spots on the breast. The poor maid was laid in the churchyard, “allowed her virgin strewments, and the bringing home of bell and burial.” The traitor, “he, the deceiver, who could win maiden's heart, ruin, and leave her,” drowned himself some years after in the Floatbeck, and being buried where four roads meet with a stake or stob driven through his body, left the name of the transaction to Stobb Cross.

Then might the pitying bard the tale repeat
Of hapless village love in ages past;
How the pale maid, the victim of deceit,
Sunk like the primrose in the Northern blast.
See where the ring-doves haunt yon ruin'd tower,
Where ivy twines amidst the ashen spray;
There still she hovers round the lonely bower,
Where anguish closed her melancholy day.
A dove she seems distinguish'd from the rest,
Three crimson blood-drops stain her snowy breast.

Superstitions of the North.

To return from the land of shadows. On Cornforth beck (of which the course has been already described) was situated one of the Bishop's manor mills (fn. 63), to which the tenants owed exclusive service and multure; and from this circumstance, the ford first, and afterwards the village, have evidently derived their name.

In Boldon Buke Cornforth is mentioned jointly with Middleham. Under Hatfield's Survey two free tenants occur: Roger, son of William Ussher, who held a messuage and fifty-four acres by charter, homage, fealty, suit at the County Court, and 22s. 6d. rent, and Colynson's meadow, three acres, without rent, ideo ostendat qualiter teneat; and William de Kellaw, who held a messuage, nine acres of arable, three of meadow, and the Calf Park, two acres, by homage, &c. and 4s. 8d. The tenants of the vill also held for the present as tenants at will under 6s. 8d. rent, eighteen acres of free land, with a place built upon, once held by Nicholas Burgeys. William Pacesyn and eleven others held twenty portions of bond-land (each single tenure consisting of two oxgangs) by rents and services exactly similar to those described under Middleham. The tenants jointly held the Forland, viz. twenty-six acres on Pilmore, two acres at Hungrecrok, two near the Newbrigg, two at the Brick, and sixty acres in different parts of the common field, by 4l. 8d. rent. Richard Pacesyn held a messuage built on the waste, 4d.; and John fil. Stephen Seryng, another under the same rent. The tenants held the kiln and the bakehouse jointly, paid 20s. for cornage, 6s. for a milch cow, 20s. in lieu of a hundred wood-loads on St. John's day, 12d. for scatpennies, and 2s. 8d. for averpennies; and for every two oxgangs (or one bond-land) two hens at Christmas, and ten eggs at Easter. The tenants used to pay 20l. for the water-mill, but the rent was then reduced to 13l. 6s. 8d. Walter, son of Robert Megson, held an acre called Grencrok, by 3s. rent.

In 1343 Richard de Kellaw, die quo iter ad transmarina arripuit, held two thirds of a messuage, nine acres of arable, and one acre of meadow in Cornforth, by three suits of Court and 3s. one farthing rent (and 20d. from a messuage and three oxgangs in Thurstanton (fn. 64) ). This estate is clearly the free tenement of William de Kellaw in the Survey, and it descended to his daughter Joan of Kellaw, the heiress of her line, who intermarried with John Fossour. In 1417, on the death of Agnes, widow of William Kellaw (fn. 65), and in 1433, on the inquest on John Fossour (fn. 66), the lands are described as one capital messuage, two other messuages, nine acres and a half of arable, and two and a half of meadow, in Cornforth, and one acre in Trillesden held of the Bishop in socage by 4s. 8d. rent (a messuage, three oxgangs and a half of arable, and an acre and a half of meadow, in Thurstanton, held of the heirs of Sir William Fulthorp). John Fossour who died 1470, granted his lands in Cornforth, and five acres and a half of meadow near Thynford, to William and Agnes Fossour for life (fn. 67).

Roger Usher, whose free tenure is named in the Survey, died in 1420, seised of a messuage and eighty acres in Cornforth, held by knight's service, and 24s. rent; and of a messuage and twenty-two acres in Middleham, held by 6s. 8d. (fn. 68) John, son of Roger Usher, left the same estate two years later, to his sister Alice Usher (fn. 69).

Both Kellaw's and Usher's free tenements were afterwards united in the possession of the Shaws; for in 1588 (fn. 70), William Shawe died seised of “one chief messuage, two other messuages, nine acres and a half, two acres and a half, and one other acre, in Trillesden, held of the Queen, sede vacante, in socage by 4s. 8d. and of one messuage and eighty acres by socage and 24s.” Thomas, son and heir of William, left the same estate, in 1590 (fn. 71), to his brother John Shaw, amongst whose daughters the property was divided; and in 1644, belonged in thirds to William Eden, of Whitton, Gent. (who married Elizabeth Shaw), Mrs. Howard, and Matthew Smyth, of Barmton.

All the free lands now existing in Cornforth originate probably under the Shaws (fn. 72) estate, but it is impossible to trace the various subdivisions of the property.

In 1684 the freeholders were: Robert Cooper, of Durham, Gent. Robert Haswell (fn. 73), William Hutchinson, Thomas Waugh, Robert Hutchinson, William Woodhouse, William Wilkinson, Gent. Durham, Thomas Garthorne, of Cleasby, in Yorkshire, and Thomas Hutchinson.

The Haswells and Garthornes, though in different branches, still hold considerable lands.

The old Hutchinsons, once the most numerous, as well as the most respectable yeomanry of the village, have migrated, but are not extinguished; for the family established at Whitton and Stockton (fn. 74) are their lineal representatives, and from another branch descended William Hutchinson (fn. 75), the Historian of three Northern Counties, to whose labours the present sheets are so deeply indebted (fn. 76).

Brandon house (fn. 77) below Cornforth to the North, surrounded with old warm inclosures, was the seat of the Woodhouses, a line of yeomanly gentry (fn. 78); it passed by purchase to White, and since to Haswell.

The great tithes of Cornforth (fn. 79) belong to Matthew Russell, Esq. M. P. as parcel of the impropriate Rectory.


Originally Thurstanton; an ancient manor and estate lying betwixt the lands of Mainsforth South, and those of Cornforth and Middleham on the North and East; the Western boundary is formed by the North Skerne, which, rising in the marsh betwixt Ferryhill and Thrislington, sends its waters both ways, to the North and to the South. Thrislington Hall (for there is no village) stands immediately on the Eastern bank of the marsh, and on the West side are the reliques of the ancient “wood of Fery,” now reduced to a straggling hazel copse, interspersed with a few remains of ancient forest timber, ash and elm.

Barnard de Thurstanton occurs as a frequent witness to early episcopal charters. As early however as 1262, the chief part of the estate was vested in the family of Fulthorpe, for in that year, on the feast of St. John the Baptist, Hugh the Prior, and Convent of Durham, made agreement with Adam, son of Roger Fulthorpe, Knt. Nicholas, son of Thomas de Thurstanton, Roger, son of William de Thurstanton, Thomas the Drenge, John of Skyrburne and Alice his wife, and Adam Paris and Beatrix his wife, to the following effect: The Prior concedes that the owners and tenants of Thurstanton shall have sufficient common of pasture on the moor of Fery for forty head of cattle, saving in such inclosures as the Prior holds at the present day; and if the Thurstanton cattle trespass on the inclosures, the fine shall be one penny for thirteen head. Thurstanton shall have free pasture in the meadows or enclosures after Michaelmas, or earlier if the villans of Fery enter sooner. Thurstanton shall also have pasture for ten score sheep, from All Saints day to the Purification; but the Prior is at liberty to bring any part of the moor into tillage, if he leave sufficient common of pasture. And for this concession the owners of Thurstanton grant to the Prior all their marsh belonging to their land of Thurstanton by these boundaries; “from the causeway which leads from Fery to Thurstanton, as far as the causeway to Mainsforth, as well as the whole marsh which belongs to Nicholas de Thurstanton, in right of his Mainsforth lands, betwixt the same two points.” The effect of this grant is still visible. From the paved foot-road which crosses the marsh, from Ferryhill wood to Thrislington, as far as the road from Ferryhill to Mainsforth (which is evidently a forced road embanked on the North side and driven straight across the marsh), by much the greater portion of the low land belongs to Ferryhill; and in particular, in consequence of the latter part of the grant, the Skerne running close under the limestone cragg, bounds Mainsforth, and leaves the whole of the marsh to Ferryhill. It seems not improbable, that this extension of the Prior's boundary was with a view to the increase of their swannery, and to the formation of a dam-head at the Mainsforth causey. The ruins of the Swan-house (fn. 80) still occupy the very South-eastern point of the hill, above the marsh.

In 1600 the old charter was exemplified and confirmed in an indenture, executed betwixt the Dean and Chapter of Durham, and Nicholas and Christopher Fulthorpe, Esquires, owners of Thurstanton; whose tenants had latterly claimed an unlimited right of common on Fery moor, instead of the specific quantity of pasture conceded in the charter of convention.

The manor had rested in the family of Fulthorpe (whose descent is traced under Tunstall) during the whole intermediate period betwixt the date of the two charters. In 1613 Nicholas and Christopher Fulthorpe, of Tunstall, Esquires, alienated their whole manor of Thrislington or Thurstanton to their tenants William and John Shawe, of Thrislington (fn. 81), Yeomen. The family of Shawe alienated to Sir Thomas Robinson, of Rokeby, Bart. who conveyed to Hendry Hopper, of Durham, whose nephew Robert Hopper Williamson, Esq. is the present proprietor.


A small village one mile West from Bishop Middleham. Hutchinson's derivation of the name from the Main ford, or principal passage over the morass (from Ferry to the Episcopal residence at Middleham), seems sufficiently plausible (fn. 82).

In Maynesford are seventeen oxgangs which accrued (to the Bishop) by escheat and purchase; of which eight oxgangs pay twenty shillings, render eight hens and fourscore eggs, and carry corn one day, and hay one day, and perform four porcations for every two oxgangs with one man. The nine remaining oxgangs lie in pasture with the moor.

Robert de Maynesford holds the rest of the vill by free service.—Boldon Buke.

The local name continued for some descents. In 1337 (fn. 83) Margaret, widow of Robert, son of Thomas de Maynesford, died seised of two tofts and eighteen acres in Maynesford, of which a toft and twelve acres were held of the Bishop, by eight shillings paid at the manor of Middleham, and a toft and six acres were held by three shillings of the heirs of Thomas de Maynesford. John de Maynesford was son and heir of Margaret.

By Inq. 1338. “John Dautre enfeoffed John fil. Will. de Seggefeld of an acre and a half, and a rood in Maynsford field; and afterwards the same John, before the Bishop's Justices, owned himself to be the bond of the Bishop of Durham; and thereupon William, son of John Dautre, expelled John the bond, and enfeoffed Thomas de Maynesford; and thereafter John of Durham, bailiff to Bishop Lewis, seized the land for the Bishop; and lastly came John Hewe, sometime bailiff, and entered by reason of the bond tenure of John of Sedgefeld, in the time of Bishop Richard. Roger, son of Thomas de Maynesford, owes one penny yearly for pasture of four oxen on the Nabhill, and Matilda, widow of Walter de Maynesford, owes one penny for a toft, croft, and acre of land (fn. 84).”

Under Hatfield's Survey. “The free rent of the whole vill, paid of ancient custom at the manor-house of Middleham, is 26s. 8d.; of the tenants of the vill, by the collection of John de Herdwyk and his parceners, 24s. 10d.; William Hancelap and Thomas Smyth, for Bartonesland, containing eight acres, 12d.; Thomas Walworth, for the lands of Master William Walworth, 8s. 6d.; Hugh de Westwyk, 10s. 8d.; a rent once paid by John Parys, 1d.; and there is a rent of one pound of pepper sometime paid by John Dawson, now by John ....; the perquisites of court, with fines and amerciaments, comm. ann. 3s.; a messuage, and two oxgangs are in the hands of the lord from want of a tenant, formerly rented at 24s.; also a tenement and lands sometime of John Smyth are in the lord's hands from the same cause.

In 1361 Peter Dautry died seised of two tofts and crofts, eighty-five acres and a half of arable, and one acre of meadow, in Maynesford, by fealty, suit of court, and 8s. 4d. rent; leaving Ralph, son of Rowland Bart, his heir under age (fn. 85).

In 1388 John Nevylle, of Raby, Chivaler, died seised of a messuage, and a hundred acres (fn. 86), which I believe to have been the estate of the ancient Maynesfords.

Ralph the chaplain of St. Mary's Altar (fn. 87), in the Church of St. Oswald of Elvet, gave, inter alia, to the same chantry of St. Mary, two oxgangs in Maynesforth, “which my father Drago of Middleham, with consent of Thomas his heir, gave to me when I was ordained, subject to a pound of pepper to my father Drago and his heirs, and to the free service due from two oxgangs in the vill of Mainsforth (fn. 88).”

But the chief free estate in Mainsforth became vested not long after Hatfield's Survey in the family of Herdwyk; an inquest on John de Herdwyk, Thursday after St. Michael, 1397, affords a very particular description of the ancient village.

“The chief messuage, the toft and croft, and twenty-four acres called Coxhous. A toft and six acres called Kellawhous, held of the Bishop by homage, fealty, and no rent beside, val. 13s. 4d. A messuage and eighteen acres called Waytesplace, held by knight's service and 3s. 4d. val. 3s. 4d. A messuage called Castelhous and one oxgang, by knight's service and 3s. 4d. val. 2s. Sixteen acres once of Peter Dautre, by 1s. 4d. val. 12d.

John of Herdwyk (fn. 89) left an only child Agnes, wife of Gilbert de Hoton, whose grandson William Hoton, of Hardwick, left two daughters; Elen, who married—Hansard, of Walworth; and Alice, wife of William Hebborne. Their lineal descendant Anthony Hebborne, of Hardwyk, engaged in the rebellion of the Northern Earls in 1569, and forfeited, inter alia, his lands in Mainsforth; and under this forfeiture commences the modern title.

In 1611 (18 June, 9 Jac.) Sir William Hewet, of Much Haddam, co. Herts. Knt. and John Hewet, citizen and clothworker, grant to Henry Warde, of Mensforth, Gent. thirty acres in Mensforth field, parcel of the lands of Anthony Hebborne, attainted, and by them purchased 7 Jac. of George Walters, of St. Dunstan's, Gent. and John Williams, Draper, grantees under the crown. 28 Sept. 1612 Henry Warde, of Fishgarth, Gent. releases to George Warde, of Norton, co. York, Gent. and Felix Wilson, of London; who, in 1614, granted two orchards, two crofts, (to hold of the manor of East Greenwich) in free socage, being parcel of the lands of Anthony Hebborne, &c. to George Wardell, of Easington, Yeoman. 5 May 1624 George Wardell the elder and younger, convey to Francis, son and heir of John Baynbridge, Esq.; and 14 May 1625 Francis Baynbridge grants to Ralph Hutton and William Chaytor, Esquires. Hutton acquired several other tenements in Mainsforth. In 1577 Henry Heighington, of Fishburn, Gent. granted a tenement and close to Thomas and William Heighley, of Whorlton, who conveyed in 1578 to Ninian Heighley; and he, 23 Jan. 1598, granted to Robert Robson, of Little Chilton, Gent. (fn. 90), who sold to Ralph Hutton in 1625 (fn. 91). In 1626 John Farrow, Yeoman, granted to the same Ralph Hutton, three cottages and garths; and in 1636 some other small parcels (fn. 92). In 1638 Ralph Hutton (fn. 93) devised to his eldest son of the same name, who in 1654 settled his estate (fn. 94), after marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Joseph Cradocke, of Richmond, Knt.; and in 1680 left the estate to his son, a third Ralph Hutton, who died a bachelor (fn. 95), and sold Mainsforth in 1708 (fn. 96), to Robert Surtees, of Ryton, Gent. and Edward Surtees, of Crawcrook, ancestors of the present owner.

Pedigree of Hutton, of Mainsforth.

Arms: Gules, a fess Or, between three cushions Argent, tasselled of the second, each charged with a fleur de lis of the field (a martlet Sable, on the fess for distinction), Hutton; quartering, Sable, on a chevron Argent, between three boars' head couped Or, or annulet (for distinction) Gules, ....


† Margaret, dau. Mr. John Hutton, Gent. bapt. 28, bur. 29, Nov. 1615, St. Oswald's.

* St. Oswald's, Durham.

‡ Witton Gilbert.

§ St. Mary-le-Bow.

| Bishop Middleham.

¶ St. Mary the Less.

** Mr. Ralph Middleton, chirurgeon, bur. 23 Feb. 1717–18, St. Oswald's.

†† She left a son Hutton Middleton, Gent. æt. 19, in 1720.

‡‡ “Mr. Raphe Hutton, A.M. Official to the Right Worshipfull the Deane and Chapter, a verie religious gentleman, and bountiful to the poor, buried 6 Febr.”

In 1795 Robert Surtees, Esq. purchased the great tithes of the township of Mainsforth, parcel of the impropriate rectory of Middleham, from John T. H. Hopper, of Witton Castle, Esq.

Another portion of the vill belonged for some descents to the Farrers. In 1615 John Farrer had livery of his lands, as son and heir of John Farrer, who died 1586 (fn. 97), to the same John. Ralph Hutton, Gent. and Sir William Chaytor, of Croft, granted, 12 Sept. 3 Car. the Chuckmyers in Mainsforth, sometime belonging to Robert Robson, of Little Chilton, Gent. 20 Nov. 1641 John Farrer the elder granted his estate in Mainsforth to his son John the younger, who settled the same lands, in 1642, on his marriage with Mary Smith (fn. 98). In 1653 the same John Farrer (sometime an officer in the Parliament army, and called Captain Farrer) sold his Mainsforth lands, to purchase an estate in Bradbury, for 1280l. to Samuel Disbrowe, of Eltisley, co. Cambridge, Esq. In 1657 Disbrowe conveyed to Richard Salstonstall, of Killingley, co. York, Gent. In 1673 Samuel Disbrowe, and Rose his wife, Richard Saltonstall, and Meriel his wife, and John Farrer, Thomas, and Anne Farrer, joined in conveying to Robert Lynn, of Shotton, whose only surviving son, Robert Lynn, died in 1744 (fn. 99), leaving a son Robert Lynn, whose three surviving daughters, Mary (who died unmarried), Jane, wife of Christopher Mawer, and Dorothy, wife of John Smart, of Trewhitt, Esq. in Northumberland, became his heirs.

Mainsforth occupies a dry, gravelly, and lime-stone soil, yet girdled in on the North, West, and South, by the marshy level of the Skerne. The village, consisting of seven scattered tenements (and four centuries ago it contained no more), is surrounded by old warm inclosures, thickly set with hedgerow ash, and elm, which, from the varying surface of the country, run into deep and picturesque forest masses. The prospect opens only to the South, where it is bounded by the long range of the Yorkshire hills. The whole of this little district is somewhat unusually diversified by gentle yet irregular slopes and undulations of surface. The effect is perhaps not unlike to that which might be produced by a large inundation bursting through the lime-stone barrier on the North, and sweeping along the present level of the Skerne, levigating the slopes of the hills, raking and rounding the projections of lime-stone rock, and whirling the light sand and soil into insulated cones and hillocks, till at length its waters might spread themselves, unopposed by any lateral barrier, in the great level below Mordon and the Isle (fn. 100).

Of the sand hills, which occur along the whole edge of the morass, Nab-hill, most corruptly called Nable-hill and Marble-hill, is one of the most observable. It stands about a bow-shot below, and to the West of the village, rising with a steep ascent thirty-two feet above the plain ground on the South, and seventy-six above the level of the Skerne. The summit is depressed into a regular hollow or basin, yet with one lip higher than the other, and running to a sort of blunt point or apex on the North-east. The whole mound contains a surface of nine acres (fn. 101); the soil is entirely sand. Mr. Cade (Archæol. vii. 74,) supposes that this place was a Danish Camp (fn. 102), moated by the Skerne, and occupied by that Gormundus, who left his name to the neighbouring hamlet of Garmonsway. He also believes that a Roman road crossing the Tees at Sockburn, and running by Stainton in the Street, and Bradbury, towards Old Durham (fn. 103), may have touched at this place. The situation is certainly such as might have attracted the notice of a chieftain, Dane or Roman, but there is not, I believe, the slightest evidence to support the conjecture that it was ever occupied by either; the whole scite has been twice deeply ploughed without discovering any reliques of its former tenants, save that in digging a small pond at the Southern base of the hill, a pair of huge antlers belonging to the segh-deer were found bedded in clay, four feet below the surface. One of these is preserved; it measures from root to top three feet eight inches, and ten inches in circumference immediately above the root; the greatest breadth is fourteen inches; several of the branches are evidently broken off.

The hill is now covered with a thick growth of forest-trees (fn. 104), which renders it difficult to ascertain exactly its original appearance.

The source of the North Skerne is in the marsh which separates Thrislington from Ferry-hill wood. The water rising from one spring flows two ways; one stream falls towards the North, and soon joining Cornforth Beck, flows through Tursdale, and entering the head of Croxdale Dene, falls into the Wear, near Sunderland-bridge. The Southern stream, which is soon augmented by powerful feeders from the limestone rock which skirts the morass on both sides, flows Southwards, and joins the South Skerne near Nunstainton (fn. 105). A flat of marshy land, peat bottoming on clay, extends along the whole upper course of the Skerne, and various plans have been proposed for a general drainage. A few years ago the main course of the Skerne was almost entirely choaked by weed and sedge, the water stagnated in a number of small trenches and on the surface, and the whole herbage was composed of rushes and the coarsest aquatic grasses. It appeared that there was a sufficient fall to enable the proprietors near the head of the stream to throw off a great portion of the water. The main course was cut straight about four feet deep, and nearly two yards wide; the small side cuts were in general suffered to close, or reduced to open grips, but a deep and wide trench was opened parallel to the main stell (and at intervals communicating with it), exactly where the marsh joins the sound land to intercept the springs which burst from the limestone rock. The effect was visible the first year, and has gone on constantly increasing. About two feet and a half of dry surface have been obtained, and the peat, drained of the water which it held, is gradually changing into soil; finer grasses have succeeded to the aquaties, and these unprofitable swamps are converted into pasturage, which retains its verdure in the most parching drought, and is peculiarly valuable to the occupier of the adjoining gravelly and calcareous soil (fn. 106).

The peat on this level, as far as Mainsforth is concerned, lies uniformly about eleven feet deep; below that is blue clay, which has been bored to twenty feet without varying; nearer to the edge of the level the peat borders on limestone, through which constant springs, which never vary in winter or summer, burst with great force. There have been several plantations made on these grounds probably nearly sixty years ago, consisting of oak, Scotch fir, larch, ash, beech, sycamore, and chesnut. The water at the time they were planted has been probably in some measure thrown off, but the cuts (always too shallow and too numerous) for forty years at least had been neglected, and the trees stood with their roots bathed half the year in water; in fact the roots of every species have run almost entirely along the surface, never venturing to plunge a fibre into the wet peat. The roots of the willow in particular (and of large growth) are one complete mass of fibres closely interwoven, and as regularly spread on the surface of the peat as if levelled by a carpenter's plane. The Scotch fir has evidently been the most profitable tree; several of them have reached fifty feet in height with a girth of six or seven feet (the root meanwhile not striking two feet below the turf). The larch seems to have stopped at thirty years' growth; the oak and beech exist, but hidebound and dwarfish; the ash is somewhat better; the chesnut and sycamore have failed.

Since the last drainage, some new plantations have been made; the water is generally three feet below the surface, and the ground every year grows firmer. The following is the actual state of the forest trees planted about fourteen years since:

The Scotch fir, vigorous and luxuriant, making shoots of three feet in the year; the larch struggling for existence, diseased and crooked; the spruce at first pale and sickly, but recovering, and seems thriving, spreading broad horizontal roots; the oak thrives tolerably; the elm scabrous and dwarfish; the beech and sycamore worse; the ash best of the deciduous wood; the alder makes vigorous shoots, but has not that fine glaucous hue which indicates its highest state of health, and which it possesses near running streams, or even in deep mud not peaty; the birch and poplar of all sorts not flourishing; even the willow refuses the peat, and grows well only on the banks; the chesnut fails; the lime seems healthy: on the whole I would scarcely recommend planting peaty lands with any other tree than spruce or Scotch fir; the latter has all its native vigour, and propagates itself on the turfy soil freely by seed, and these seedlings outstrip the transplanted firs in the proportion of three to one.

— Læta et fortia surgunt;
Quippe solo natura subest. Georg. ii. 49.

This little water of Skerne contains twelve species of fish: 1. roach; 2. dace; 3. chub; 4. gudgeon; 5. minnow; 6. miller's thumb; 7. stickleback; 8. trout, rare; 9. pike; 10. barbut, or eelpout; 11. eel; 12. lamprey (petromyzon branchialis).

Of these the barbut, gadus lota, is not of very common occurrence; it is an inhabitant only of still lazy streams like the Skerne, where it frequents the deepest pools or hollows under bridges; it is seldom caught by an angle, nor do I remember more than one being found in any one pool. [It is not uncommon in the Wiske, near Northallerton. R. G. B.]

Gadus lota—head broad, depressed, one cirrhus at the chin, no scales, the body slimy and lubricous like the eel, the thorax rounded, and the abdomen resembling the eel, colour dusky yellow with black spots. On a near inspection the whole skin seems like shagreen, or marked with the impression of small pin-heads. Fins, two pectoral, two ventral, a long back fin, a belly fin, and a tail fin, the latter rounded, rays of the gill membrane 7, of the pectoral fin 16, of the ventral fin 6; the back fin begins just behind the shoulders, and is contiguous to the tail fin, which comes round the tail to the under side, where it is contiguous to the belly fin, which is continued from the tail fin close up to the vent; the lateral line, beginning at the tail, rises about the middle of the fish, and again towards the head; no teeth in the tongue, very small teeth in the upper and under jaw, and one row of teeth in the palate (fn. 107).”

A barbut taken in the Skerne near Hardwick-mill June 21, 1811, measured 16 inches, and weighed 14 ounces and a quarter; the stomach was found to contain a minnow and some weed (fn. 108).

The ever-varying soil and surface of this little district present a wide field to the botanist; the heights are chiefly calcareous, sometimes bursting into bare grey crag (fn. 109); the descent of the hills broken, limestone and gravel; the middle vale, fine loam; lower still, water-shaken clay, oddly intermixed with sand-hills; and around all, a girdle of peat and marish.

The following catalogue, perhaps too minute as to plants of no peculiar rarity, will at least add some new habitats to the Durham Flora:

Ligustrum Vulgare, Privet, hedges near Mainsforth.

Pinguicula Vulgaris, Butterwort, plentiful at the foot of Lough-bank, on oozy calcareous soil; flowers at the end of May, mixed with Primula Farinosa.

Valeriana Officinalis, Valerian, Lough Carr.

Euonymus Europæus, Spindletree, Mainsforth-lane, opposite the Broom-hills.

Primula Elatior, Oxlip, Nab-hill.

Primula Farinosa, Bird's Eye Primrose; the marshy meadows betwixt Middleham and Hardwick are purpled with its flowers in May; Lough-bank.

Hottonia Palustris, Water Violet, tall slender stems, and pale purple flowers in gradually decreasing whirls; ditches in Mainsforth Carr, July, August.

Menyanthes Trifoliata, Buckbean, Mainsforth Carr.

Stramonium Datura, Thorn-apple, on rubbish.

Hyoscamus Niger, Henbane; its dull yellow flowers, delicately reticulated with purple, and the whole dusky aspect of the plant, exhibit strong marks of that lurid appearance which nature has impressed on almost every poisonous plant.

Campanula Latifolia, Giant-throatwort, in hedges sparingly, near Ferry-hill and Rudd's farm.

Viola Odorata, Sweet Violet, Mainsforth-lane, et passim near old inclosures.

Chironia Centaurium, Centaury, Roughers-pasture.

Gentiana Amarella, Fellwort, or Autumnal Gentian, dry limestone pastures, passim; its purple calyx beautifully ciliated within; its flowers announce that summer is passing, and that autumn approaches.

Viburnum Opulus, Guelder Rose, Mainsforth-lane, opposite Broomhill-stile, Chilton-lane, near the Warrengate, and moist hedges; one of the fairest of our wild flowers, and the parent of the gardener's double white rose of Guelders or Snowball.

Sambucus Ebulus, Dwarf Elder, plentiful on the limestone-bank in Middleham village.

Parnassia Palustris, Grass of Parnassus, Mainsforth Carr, and marshes below Middleham abundantly. Its pale petals beautifully striped with soft green, and its five slender nectaries, like silver threads supporting golden balls, render it one of the most delicate and elegant of our marsh-flowers. It is rare in the South, but occurs in all the denes on the Eastern coast of Durham, in Teesdale, near Dinsdale Sulphur-well, and in marshes on the highest Northumbrian hills.

Linum Usitatissimum, Flax, in the Roughers plantation.

Linum Catharticum, Purging-flax, gravelly pastures.

Allium Ursinum, Ramsons, damp woods; foot of Nab-hill.

Hyacinthus non Scriptus, Harebell; the East end of Lough-bank is mantled with its bright blue flowers in May and June; Cleves-Cross wood.

Berberis Vulgaris, Barbery-bush, hedges.

Erica Vulgaris, Heath or Ling, on Chilton-warren and Thrislington; varies with white flowers; named merely as occurring in an enclosed country.

Pyrola Secunda, Serrated Winter-green, in a hazel-copse near Mainsforth, plentiful.

Saponaria Officinalis, Soap-wort, Croft-lane, Middleham, probably from a garden.

Oxalis Acetosella, Wood-sorrell, Nab-hill, plentiful.

Reseda Luteola, Dyer's-woad, Mainsforth village.

Prunus Cerasus, Wild Cherry, woods and hedges, passim.

Rosa Spinosissima, Burnet Rose, on sandy banks and under dry hedges.

Rubus Idæus, Raspberry, Nab-hill-wood, plentiful.

Geum Rivale, Water Avens, on Kelloe-beck, near the Church.

Comarum Palustre, Purple Marsh Cinquefoil, in the marsh on Chilton-warren.

Chelidonium Majus, Celandine, on rubbish near Middleham.

Nymphæa Lutea, Yellow Water-lilly, in the Skerne, near Mordon and Bradbury.

The Nymphæa Alba, which I certainly remember to have seen in the Skerne near Mordon, is, I fear, extirpated; it is preserved in ponds at Mainsforth.

Cistus Helianthemum, Dwarf Cistus, Chilton-warren, plentiful, and in dry limestone lanes from Middleham to Garmonsway.

Aquilegia Vulgaris, Columbine, plentiful on Lough-bank, nec alibi, varying with pale and deep purple, white and flesh colour.

Anemone Nemorosa, Wood-anemone: Ferry-hill or Cleves-Cross wood is covered with its flowers in April; Nab-hill.

Adonis Autumnalis, Pheasant's Eye, in cultivated ground at the South foot of Nab-hill, where it sows itself; supposed outcast of the garden, carried thither with young trees; flowered August 1810 and 1814.

Ranunculus Lingua, Spearwort, in the Skerne and Mainsforth Carr, passim.

Caltha Palustris, Marsh Marygold; in April its golden flowers cover the marsh betwixt Mainsforth and Chilton-hills, passim.

Trollius Europæus, Globe-flower, near trenches in the marsh to the South of Middleham.

Verbena Officinalis, Vervain in Middleham-lane, plentiful, non alibi.

Nepeta Cataria, Cat-mint, near the West wall of Middleham church-yard, and in the Back-lane sparingly.

Thymus Acinos, Little Wild Basil, Middleham-lane and Roughers. This little aromatic plant (not noted by Winch) is easily distinguished by its blue flower and gibbous decemstriated calyx; though rare in the North, it grows plentifully on dry chalk-hills in the South of England.

Geranium Pratense, Meadow-geranium, Middleham-lane, and in pastures.

Genista Tinctoria, Dyer's Wood, Roughers Pasture.

Anthyllis Vulneraria, Lady's Fingers, dry, gravelly, and limestone pastures.

Astragalus Hypoglottis, Purple Mountain-milkwort, on limestone, at the foot of Lough-bank, and in Cornforth-lane.

Lotus Corniculatus, Bird's-foot Trefoil, dry pastures, passim; the flowers beautifully tinged with lake and orange.

Hypericum Pulchrum, Upright St. John's Wort, under hedges, Lynn's farm; H. humi fusum, on dry banks.

Carlina Vulgaris (fn. 110), Carline Thistle, dry pastures; the dead stalk remains like a skeleton over winter.

Bidens Tripartita, Water-hemp Agrimony, Middleham Carrs.

Erigeron Acre, Blue Fleabane, on fallows near the Roughers on light soil.

Arum Maculatum, Wake Robin, or Cuckow Pint, hedges near Lough Larch-wood.

Poterium Sanguisorba, Burnet, dry limestone; Roughers.

Salix Repens, Creeping Willow, stem the thickness of a finger; Mainsforth Carr, Lynn's farm.

Humulus Lupulus, Hop, hedges in the church-lane, Middleham, and near Mainsforth.

Acer Campestre, Maple, hedges.

Asplenium Scolopendrium, Hart's Tongue, amongst stones in a hazel-copse, Mainsforth.

Of forest-trees the ash and sycamore spring every where plentifully; the elm also (which has not a winged seed) sows itself, but more sparingly; the beech rarely ripens its mast. The whole of the marsh, and of the wet lands which slope to it, would, if protected from cattle, be in a short time a forest of fir. The maple is not uncommon in hedges. The oak seldom appears, except in inclosed woods; its native habitat in this county seems the strong clay soil on the Wear, Tyne, and Darwent.

Charitable Benefactions to the Parish of Middleham.

Lady Frevill's Bounty. See Sedgefield.

Thomas Hutchinson the elder, of Cornforth, bur. Nov. 18, 1664. “He left in the handes of Thos Hutchinson his son, three poundes for the poore of this parish.” This and other small benefactions were vested in the purchases stated below.

16 Jan. 10 Geo. I. 1724, George Armstrong and Jane his wife, and Thomas Hutchinson, of Gateshead, surrendered to Robert Dunn and John Brabant, of Bishop Middleham, Thomas Hutchinson and John Woodhouse, of Cornforth, and Edward Surtees, Esq. and Robert Linn, of Mainsforth (overseers respectively of the poor of those townships), one acre called the Hope, abutting on the Clarke's Acre West, on Richard Airey's land North, Roger Dickinson's East, and Richard Woodifield's South; which acre was allotted, on the division, to Henry Hutchinson in a spot called Katharine Flatt, on trust, for the poor of the townships of Cornforth, Middleham, Thrislington, and Mainsforth (fn. 111).

By Ind. 28 Sept. 1742, Anthony Lee, of Sadler-street, in the city of Durham, Gent. devisee and residuary legatee of Jane Finney, of the North Bailey, widow, conveyed to George Spearman, of Bishop Middleham, Esq. Robert Surtees, of Mainsforth, Gent. and Humphrey Hutchinson, of Cornforth, Gent. Trustees for the Poor of the Parish of Bishop Middleham, all that ridge or parcel of ground in the Parish of St. Giles, in a field called the Pellow Leazes, containing by estimation one acre, boundering on Dr. Hall's lands East, and on Mrs. Crosby's lands West. This is now inclosed (about an acre and a half), and let as a garden.

Matthew Russell, Esq. pays annually 20s. for the Brickdike, and 10s. 6d. for a piece of ground near the Pinfold (being parcels enclosed from the waste, by G. Spearman, Esq.), for the use of the poor of Middleham only.

A School-room, with a small garden attached, was built on the Bishop's waste, by subscription, in 1770. Forty pounds of the subscription money which remained over the building, is in the hands of Mr. Surtees, of Mainsforth, bearing interest at five per cent. which is paid to the master.


  • 1. See the Charter in the Appendix.
  • 2. The several Episcopal charters are uniformly dated apud Manerium de Midelham, &c. not Castrum; and so also of Stockton and Auckland. Middleham, however, like the rest, has been generally termed Castle by courtesy, if not of right: it was at least a strong, well-guarded manor-house.
  • 3. In 1313 Swans were kept at Middleham; for Kellaw's Register, fol. 110, contains an order to the bailiff to deliver two cygnets to the Baron of Hilton.
  • 4. See Vol. I. p. xxxi.
  • 5. See Vol. I. p. xxxvii.
  • 6. See Vol. I. xlvii. note.
  • 7. See Vol. I. p. clviii.
  • 8. Several lands in Middleham were also enfranchised under the Act for redemption of the land-tax, the Bishop reserving the mines.
  • 9.
  • 10. Title Deeds, pen. R. Surtees, Esq.
  • 11. Rot. W. James, N° 102.
  • 12. Mary, dau. of William Bradshaigh, Esq. and Troth his wife, bapt. Nov. 1683. Bp. Middl. Register.
  • 13. The mansion-house, generally called the Old Hall, was taken down after the loss of the adjacent estate. It stood, surrounded with old gardens and orchards, within an inclosure of about three acres. Miss Ambler's house now stands on the exact site. An old round dovecote remains on the South, just without the fence of the inclosure.
  • 14. See Garmonsway.
  • 15. See Vol. I. p. xxx. noteb.
  • 16. “Consecratus igitur in Episcopum, Robertus Ecclesiam de Middleham, Monachis de Finchalle, in augmentum sex monachorum appropriavit.” Graystanes apud Wharton, p. 743. If the Bishop be identified with Robert de Coquina, his former connexion with both Middleham and Finchale accounts for the donation, as well as his selection of Middleham, where he expired, for his residence.
  • 17. Parvus Domus juxta Ecclesiam. This can scarcely mean the low site of the present vicarage at the foot of the hill: it would rather confirm the opinion, that wherever these cottages stood they were on the same hill, and protected by the same inundation which girdled the castle and the church.
  • 18. Placita apud Dunelm. die Mart. prox. ante F. S. Math. Apost. 3 Ric. II. 3a 12æ Special D. and C. Treas.
  • 19.
  • 20. “Major-General Beckwith buried 5 Dec. 1787, aged 65.” General Beckwith commanded the 20th Reg. at Minden, and the Brigade of Grenadiers and Highlanders during the seven years' war with very distinguished reputation.
  • 21. The meaning appears to be, that the Vicar taught his flock both by precept and example; preached sound doctrine and ran a godly race; but why nuda, or what mystery lurks under the second P?
  • 22. Resigned for Merrington.
  • 23. Res. for Bedlington.
  • 24. Res. for Oswald's.
  • 25. Rector of Middleton St. George, 1598. Marmaduke Myers, vicar, and Catherine Hutcheson, mar. Dec. 6, 1606. Bp. Middl.
  • 26. Ejected by his successor about 1652 (see below). The old vicar found a retreat with the Roman Catholic family of Jenison, at Nesham Abbey, where he dates his will, in 1659. He survived the Restoration, and returned to Middleham to die.
  • 27.
  • 28. Mr. Cuthbert Swainston, vicar, and Mrs. Elizabeth Tonge, mar. Apr. 30, 1695. Mr. Cuthbert Swainston, son to the vicar, and Mrs. Mary Brabant, May 16, 1726.
  • 29. Whom many early friends still remember with regret. R. S.
  • 30. Sometime Rector of Great Stainton, Perp. Curate of St. Margaret's, Crossgate, and Prebendary of the ninth, and afterwards of the second Stall, which he resigned on being collated to the Rectory of Stanhope in 1820.
  • 31. By decree in Chancery, the custom of tithing lambs in Middleham Parish was confirmed on May 19, St. Dunstan's Day.
  • 32. Various similar affidavits of burial in woollen before Col. Tempest, Mr. Morland, Mr. Ralph Davison, &c.
  • 33. 20 June, 1514, William Cawthorn, Prior of Fynkhall, leased to George Beadnell, merchant, of Newcastle, half the tithe-corn of Bp. Middleham for fifteen years, 4l. rent. Finchall Box.
  • 34. Rot. Pilkington, N° 14.
  • 35. Sequestrators' Books. Mr. John Warde was the tenant, and Mr. John Fairhare (Farrer) “proved Sir Charles to be a delinquent.”
  • 36. See Pedigree of Spearman, Vol. I. p. 95.
  • 37. Title Deeds throughout, Robert Surtees, Esq.
  • 38. It seems extremely probable that, placed so near the church, this is the exact site of the old rectorial-house; the vicar has been fairly shoved down hill.
  • 39. On the South and East the great marsh of the Skerne sweeps round the foot of the Island-hill. To complete its insulation on the West, it would be necessary to include the Eastern portion of the park.
  • 40. Thomas Leighton, of Easington Parish, and Margaret Hutchinson, May 19, 1692. Par. Regr.
  • 41.
  • 42. At that time the youngest sister of the University, founded by the will (1588) of Frances Sydney, widow of Thomas Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex.
  • 43.
  • 44.
  • 45. And printed it was with the title Vox Piscis, 1626.
  • 46. See Vol. I. p. 122, or Bourne's Newcastle, p. 132.
  • 47. Liberty of Parliamentary debate seems one of the very best and safest vents for that “noir et épais vapeur,” which, if not suffered to escape, condenses itself into plots and conspiracies—“Quo compressa magis.”
  • 48. Scotland, where Charles first saw his native subjects arrayed in arms against him; where his blind support of Laud's intemperate measures, his ill-managed attempts at coercion, and his hasty concessions, formed a type more prophetic than any, Vox Piscis of that fatal mixture of rashness and irresolution which marked his more decisive contest with his English Commons and Parliament.
  • 49. “One may hear this storm sing i' th' air.”
  • 50. Several passages, too long to be quoted, prove that Archbishop Laud teized Ward about his non-observance (as Arch deacon) of three months residence at Wells. His case, he adds, was not as every man's case; he had his College duties, and a benefice at which he desired to be in vacation time, “but nothing would prevail.” “I think they would have me out of my Professor's place, and I could wish the same, if I have one to succeed according to my mind; for then I should have leisure to transcribe things.”
  • 51. “As to our University affairs, I may truly say I never knew them in worse condition since I was a member thereof, which is almost 46 years. Not but that I hope the greater part is orthodox; but new heads are brought in, and they are backed in maintaining novelties. Others are disgraced and checked when they come above, as myself was by my Lord of York this last Lent for favouring Puritanism in Consistory, and all from false information from hence,” &c. (To Archbp. Usher, 14 June 1634.)
  • 52.
  • 53. “Dr. Ward, Sept. 8.” Register of All Saints, Cambridge. Cole conjectures that a black marble slab before the altar covers his remains.
  • 54. See Wood's Athen. Vol. II.; and Pope's life of Seth Ward, 12mo, 1697.
  • 55. There was no affinity in blood. Seth Ward was born at Buntingford; he entered of Sydney 1632, and was Fellow before 1640.
  • 56. At the Synod of Dort he is not ill described—“Modestia quæ plus celavit literarum quàam alii habent, literarum abyssus, taciturnus et profundus; qui quot verba, tot expressit è sulco pectoris oracula.”
  • 57. Fuller, who was himself a pupil of Samuel Ward's.
  • 58. Amongst the large collections relative to Ward preserved by Cole, I regret that there is nothing which throws the least light on any degree of connextion which might exist betwixt the venerable Professor and his Northern friends or relatives. Seth Ward is said, after the death of his Patron, to have lived some time with Dr. Ward's relations near London; these were probably the family of George Ward, Surveyor of the Lenox lands. See the Pedigree of Ward.
  • 59. Simeon, I. iii. c. viii. and vol. I. p. xii.
  • 60. See vol. I. p. 128, and the Foundation Charter of Sherburn, Appendix, vol. I. p. 286.
  • 61. See vol. I. pp. 64 and 286.
  • 62. Ibid.
  • 63. Egleston's Mill.
  • 64. Inq. p. m. Ric. de Kellaw, 11 Bury.
  • 65. Inq. 11 Langley.
  • 66. Inq. 27 Langley.
  • 67. Inq. 14 Booth. See Pedigree of Kellaw and Forcer throughout, Vol. I. p. 65.
  • 68. Inq. p. m. 14 Langley.
  • 69. Inq. p. m. 16 Langley.
  • 70. Inq. p. m. 11 Jan. 30 Eliz.
  • 71. Inq. p. m. 32 Eliz.
  • 72. Livery to George Guye and Alice his wife, sister and coheir of John Shawe, 6 June 1633, and licence to the same George and Alice to grant to Richard Elmyer, Gent. and William Stoddart, two messuages, tofts, crofts, and cottages; a garden, an orchard, 40 acres of arable, 60 of meadow, and 80 of pasture, in Corneforth, 3 Jan. 1633.
  • 73. Robert Haswell and Wenefrede Selby, mar. May 22, 1599.—William their eldest son, bapt. 1602, mar. Grace Farrowe, 29 Dec. 1635.—Robert their eldest son born 1639.—William Haswell, of Cowton Grange, co. York, bur. Sept. 23, 1678.—Grace Haswell, widow, bur. Sept. 15, 1679.
  • 74.
  • 75. Son of William Hutchinson, of Durham, and Hannah Doubleday, of Butterby, and grandson of Thomas Hutchinson, of Cornforth. The Epitaph, page 7, I believe belongs to their ancestors.
  • 76. See Vol. I. Introduction, p. viii; and see Barnard Castle hereafter.
  • 77. This also was Shawe's. 1 Jul. 6 Car. John Shaw, of Cornforth, leased to Christofer Byerley, of Midridge Grange, Esq. the messuage called Brandon house, Thinford Close adjoining on Spennymore, the Holme, and North Holme, the Rough pasture, the Moor pasture, and the Fennes.
  • 78. See Epitaph, page 7, the original name is Widdowes. “John Robinson, generos. et Margaret Wedowes, mar. 8th Aug. 1638.—John, son of Mr. John, &c. bapt. 3 Nov. 1640.” See Pedigree of Robinson, of Buckton, Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire, 1665.
  • 79. 10 June 1519, William Gawthorpe, Prior of Fynkhal, to Roger Lumley, Esq.; lease of the tithe corn of Cornforth, from Holy Cross next for ten years, 7l. 6s. 8d. rent.—Finchale Box.
  • 80. All the leasehold farms in Ferryhill pay a trifling annual rent for Swan-oats.
  • 81.
  • 82. There is now a forced road over the marsh from Lough bank to the Ferryhill grounds; the embankment is extremely observable on the East side of the road, and probably served also as a dam-head for the Convent's Swanpool. The ruins of the old Swan-house, still remain (see p. 16). The “Calcetum quod ducit à Fery usque ad Maynesford,” is mentioned in 1260.
  • 83. Inq. 3 Bury.
  • 84. The name does not occur again in the Escheats; yet in 1411 a pardon appears to William de Manesford, of Elvet, for acquiring a messuage and sixty acres in Maynesford, of John Henryson Milner. Seale a nostre houstil en Londre le xxiiii jour d' Octobre l' an de nostre cons. sixisme. Hunter's MSS. ex orig. Still later, 1 April, 26 H. VI. 1448, William Hoton, of Herdwyk, entails, failing his own immediate kindred, his lands in Maynesford on John de Maynesford. See Hardwick.
  • 85. Inq. p. m. 16 Hatfield.
  • 86. Inq. p. m. 1 Skirlaw.
  • 87. See St. Oswald's hereafter.
  • 88. 30 May 1606, John Halsey and Robert Morgan, of London, grant to Robert Robson, Gent. a messuage and two oxgangs, parcel of the Chantry of St. Mary in the Church of St. Oswald; and 14 March 1625, Robson granted to Ralph Hutton, Gent.; and thus these chantry lands were re-united to the mass of the lay inheritance.
  • 89. Inq. p. m. 8 Skirlaw. For the subsequent eschaets, and for the descent of Herdwyk, Hoton, and Hebborne, see Hardwick.
  • 90. Inq. 13 Jan. 32 Eliz. Thomas Heighley, of Woodham, Yeoman, died seised jointly with his father of a messuage, forty acres of arable, three of meadow, twenty of pasture, in Mainsforth, which they granted to Ninian Heighley, of Whorleton. Richard, son and heir of Thomas, æt. 17.
  • 91. Hutton also purchased the chantry lands from Robson, see page 17.
  • 92. The parcels in the above grants seem extremely small, but the numerical survey includes probably only the inclosed or inland, which carried with it its larger proportion of common or outland.
  • 93. 19 Jan. 1638. He gives to his second son Arthur, Butler's garth, and lands in Middleham; to his daughters Mildred, Garthered, and Barbara, 200l. each; to his brother John Hutton, 10s. per ann.; and two bushell of wheate yearly to the poor of the Parish; to his daughter Mildred, his owne best beaver hatt, and her owne mother's best peticote; to his wife, his caskett and old goulde
  • 94. Ralph Hutton, of Mainsforth, Gent.; to daughter Elizabeth 250l.; to Frances and Anne 220l. each out of Long Cowton, co. York, and Mainsforth; to my son Ralph a baye colte, a silver salte, two salt sellers, and six silver spoones, and all my sheepe for discharging of my debts; my daughter Elizabeth Executrix; Charles Wrenn, of Binchester, Esq. and Cuthbert Bowes, of Durham, Gent. Supervisors; 9 Nov. 1680.
  • 95.
  • 96.
  • 97. Inq. p. m. 10 Sept. 28 Eliz.; two messuages, thirty-two acres, one toft, and twelve acres; and one toft and twenty-six acres held by 22s. 10d. exchequer rent.
  • 98. Covenant to settle 30l. per annum of free lands; viz. a messuage, orchard, and garden, the Chuckmyers, High close, &c. and Nicholl-well field.
  • 99. He married, 1. Jane Wilson, of Cassop (see vol. I. p. 276); 2. Margaret Woodhouse. William Lynn, second son of Robert, was father of the present eminent surgeon, William Lynn, Esq.
  • 100. These slight remarks are by no means intended to impeach or support either the Neptunian or Plutonian theories, as considered on a large scale. In the little district under consideration, water does certainly seem to have been a principal agent in forming the present features of the landscape. See Peat Moss hereafter.
  • 101. The admeasurement round the base is, West 664 feet; South, and South-east 810; North, and North-east 900; so that the form is far from circular, but rather represents half a pear, with the stalk to the East. I. C.
  • 102. “Mainsforth, which probably may derive its name from Main Fort, &c. The country people called it (the hill in question) Mount Narbon, or Narbal. It is situated about eight miles South of Old Durham, near a rivulet called the Little Skern, which has been converted into a deep fosse. Its present form is circular, of an extraordinary elevation, and I apprehend had been occupied, if not fabricated into its present magnitude, by Gormundus the Dane; for about three miles Northward we meet with the hamlet of Garmundsway, and near thereto great quantities of human bones have been discovered.” Archæol. ut supra.—“There is a large cavity on the summit of the Camp at Mainsforth, which is at this day called the Daneshole, where there was lately dug up a pair of Moose Deer horns, of an extraordinary size, probably brought from Ireland by Anlaf.”—Ibid.
  • 103. Where some evidences of a Roman establishment (I would not say station, but a mere summer encampment to protect herds or harvest home) have been discovered. As to Mount Narbal, “the great vision of the Guarded Mount,” Hutchinson, who certainly took a pleasure in ruining poor Jack Cade's castles, and breaking up his roads, says, and I fear with stern verity, “that no certain lines or distinct characters to support the idea of a camp have been made out.” The name is simply derived from the Nab, or summit already described; Nab-hill pasture is mentioned in 1336, and Nable-hill is merely a reduplication.
  • 104. Nab-hill was planted in 1748. Some of the trees of that date are still standing. The almost uniform bulk which trees of very different species have attained, is somewhat remarkable. In 1819, at five feet from the ground, the larch measures in girth 6f. 6in. the tree is about 65 feet in height; Scotch fir 5f. 10in.; elm 6f. 9 1/2in.; beech 6f. 7 1/2in.; oak 6f. 6 1/2in. Spanish chesnut 7f. 2 1/2in. I presume the larch and fir took the lead at first, and were afterwards overtaken by the hard wood.
  • 105. After this union, the Skerne (augmented by the Rushyford Beck, Woodham Burn, and other small feeders) passes Bradbury, Mordon, Preston-le-Skerne, Aycliffe, Coatham, Barmton, Burdon, Haughton-le-Skerne, and Darlington, and falls into the Tees near Croft bridge.
  • 106.
  • 107. From a specimen taken in the Skerne, 12 May, 1791, length eleven inches. F. Mascall.
  • 108.
  • 109.
  • 110. So called because the root cured Charlemagne's army of the dysentery. The remedy was revealed by an angel.
  • 111. A plot of land in the Hope was allotted to the Parish-clerk on the division in 1693. This, and the parcel in the text named, are now included in one close (on the West of the lane leading from Middleham-lane to Hope-house), containing nearly three acres. The clerk receives three fifths of the rent, and two fifths are paid to the overseers.
  • 112. To come above, to exhibit in public, or mount the rostrum. See the old Dramatists. I forget where it is that an ape is described as coming aloft for the States, but not for the King of Spain.
  • 113. There must be a little misnomer, for Sir Ralph was not my Lord till three days after Dr. Ward's death.
  • 114. Youngest daughter and coheir of John Hedworth, of Harraton, Esq. married, 1703, to Sir William Williamson, Bart. See Vol. II. p. 185.
  • 115. Widow, I believe, of John Hedworth, and re-married to Bates, though not noted in the Pedigree, Vol. II. p. 185.
  • 116. The name is totally unknown.