Parish of Greatham

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 Greatham', in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards, (London, 1823) pp. 134-143. British History Online [accessed 27 May 2024].

Robert Surtees. "Parish of Greatham", in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards, (London, 1823) 134-143. British History Online, accessed May 27, 2024,

Surtees, Robert. "Parish of Greatham", The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards, (London, 1823). 134-143. British History Online. Web. 27 May 2024,

In this section


The Parish of Greatham is bounded by Stranton on the North and North-east, by the Sea-marsh on the East, by Billingham on the South, and by the Chapelry of Wolviston and a portion of the Parish of Elwick on the South-west and West.

The Parish includes two Constableries: 1. Greatham; 2. Claxton.

Greatham (fn. 1),

A considerable village, cheerfully situated on a rise of dry gravelly soil, surrounded by rich inclosures. The lines of ancient sycamores which shade the Hospital, form an object from some distance. The manor of Greatham belonged to Peter de Montfort the younger, whose father, of the same name (fn. 2), was killed, and himself made prisoner, at the battle of Evesham, won by Prince Edward against the Confederated Barons, Aug. 5, 1264. The King granted the forfeiture to Thomas de Clare, manerium de Greatham quod fuit Petri de Monteforte, inimici nostri, &c.; but almost immediately revoked the grant on the Bishop of Durham's representation, that the manor lay within the Palatinate, and by charter acknowledged in the fullest manner the Bishop's exclusive right to escheat and forfeiture within his royal franchise, de manerio predicto et aliis, &c. infra regale suum predictum forisfactis et escaetatis, faciat volentem suam sicut nos, &c. The Bishop, to render assurance doubly sure, took a general charter of confirmation from Peter de Montfort, and being thus in possession of the manor under every title (fn. 3), liberally employed the acquisition in founding the Hospital of Greatham. The charter of endowment bears date on the Morrow of the Epiphany, 1272. The foundation is dedicated to God, St. Mary, and St. Cuthbert, for the good estate of the founder, for the souls of all Kings of England, of the Prelates of York and Durham, the Monks of Durham, the Parochians of St. Cuthbert and for the souls of all the faithful departed. The endowment consists of the manor of Greatham, which (he does Peter Montfort the grace to say) “we had of the gift of our especial friend Peter de Montfort”), to hold to the Master and Brethren in frank almoigne, free from all toll, custom, geld, or stallage, fair or market, bridge-toll, castle-ward, sheriff or coroners' rents, suits of court, bailiwick, or wapontake, &c. within the Bishopric. The Master and his men of Gretham shall be exempt from all fine or forfeiture levied by the Bishops, Justices, or Bailiffs, saving only the Bishop's right of justice as to life or limb; and the Master and Brethren shall not be impleaded, nor answer plea of any their free tenement or right, saving before ourselves, or our Justices Itinerant. Finally, we grant the manor as freely as our royal power to any religious house can give or grant, and to whosoever shall increase this our foundation, or shall succour and assist the same brethren, forty days of indulgence. Confirmed by Hugh, Prior of Durham and his Chapter (fn. 4). The statutes or ordinances follow: Andrew de Stanley, Priest, shall be the first Master, and there shall be perpetually maintained five other priests and two clerks, of honest life and competent learning, to sing matins, and all canonical hours and placebo et dirige, and forty poor brethren to be chosen from the most indigent within the manors of the Bishop. The Bishop shall appoint the Master: or, if the See be vacant, the Prior of Durham. If the Master be obliged to resign from infirmity, or other lawful cause, he shall have a maintenance from the revenues of the house. The Master shall be a Priest, and shall wear, during the celebration of divine service, a surplice and black hood, after the fashion of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. The poor brethren shall have a competent house to eat and to sleep in; they shall be chosen of the most infirm and indigent, without other preference. The Master shall have the power of ejection. The brethren shall have prayer by night and day, after the use of Sherburne, and the Master shall appoint one of the most grave and prudent brethren to read prayers. Those who are able shall attend mass-hours in the Chapel, and let the infirm lie in their beds and pray as they may. If by the devotion of the faithful the revenues of the house shall increase, we will that the number of poor brethren shall be augmented; or if the same decrease, then shall the number (quod absit) be also diminished, as shall seem good to the Master, but so that in all cases his good management may be evident. The Bishop of Durham or his Commissioner shall visit twice in the year, or oftener if need be; and the Master shall bring his accounts to audit (audiatur ratio sui compotus); and no Master shall alienate any of the fixtures of the Hospital, nor manumit the serfs or villans, nor sell waste, nor entrance or road lease of the garden; neither shall he make any notable consumption of the chattels without licence, nor legate nor dispose of any such goods by his last will. The Bishop reserves to himself and successors the power of revising and altering the statutes. Bishop Anthony Beke confirmed the endowment, and gave the Church of Greatham (not named in Stichill's charter) to the Master and Brethren, adding one Chaplain and one Clerk to the establishment. Edward III. and Edward IV. also confirmed the charter, and the latter granted to the Master the privilege of a weekly market or fair twice a year.

Two grants of Corrodies, which occur on Hatfield's Rolls, may serve to explain the sort of subsistence which was provided for the poor brethren. In 1353 William de Westle, Master, and the Brethren of Greatham, grant to Robert Menyot a corrody for life, of seven white loaves and seven pitchers of the better ale weekly, and every day such a commons as is served to one chaplain in hall, and ten shillings for his gown; and if the same pensioner abide in the Hospital, three quarters of sea-coal and three pounds of candles, and a decent chamber, sicut Corrodium suum exposcit. In 1352 William Donant releases his corrody, viz. every day a loaf of second bread, half a pitcher of second ale, a rackfull of hay, a peck of oats, a candle, and a peck of coals in winter, and litter for one horse, and a chamber, and a gown of the suit of the serving men (garconum) of the Hospital.

The Hospital continued to be governed under Bishop Stichill's charter till the reign of King James. Bishop Tunstall issued letters of citation to visit in 1532; but no proceedings occur. It should seem from the will of Dr. Sparke, 1563, that the King's Visitors at the Dissolution carried off some of the superstitious ornaments of the Chapel. The establishment, however, itself remained in its integrity. Bishop Hutton visited in 1590: the interrogatories (to which the answers are not extant) refer to the good conduct of the Master and Brethren, proper provision for the poor brethren, attention at Chapel, due management of the revenues, and a yearly inventory and audit of the receipts and chattels before the Bishop of Durham.

King James's charter, 20 July 1610, reduces the poor brethren to thirteen (fn. 5) poor and needy men, bachelors and stricken in years. The Master shall be Master of Arts, or Bachelor of Laws at the least. The Master and Brethren shall have a common seal and be a corporate body, capable of pleading and being impleaded. The Bishop shall appoint the Master, visit and make new statutes. The charter confirms all the possessions of the Hospital, and gives power to the Masters and Brethren to lease for twenty-one years, or three lives.

It is not easy to form any opinion as to the appearance of the original buildings of the Hospital; they seem to have stood on a plot of ground, which now forms a lawn in front of the present structure. Two lines of ancient trees, skirting the ground and sheltering it on two sides, exactly mark out the site.

The habitation occupied by the poor brethren, before the late alterations, appeared to have been “the nave of a church (fn. 6), with corresponding arches, closed up on the North and South, and a porch added for a common entrance in the centre.”

In 1724 the return to a Writ of Inspection issued by Bishop Talbot, states the whole Hospital buildings, as well the Master's house as the lodgings of the Brethren, to be extremely ruinous and dilapidated, propped in some places on the outside by large pieces of timber. A plan was proposed for rebuilding the Master's house, which seems to have been adopted (fn. 7).

In 1764 Nicholas Halhead, Master, divided the mansion-house, appropriating part of it to the tenant of the Hospital farm, and added a kitchen and two chambers to the Master's lodgings.

The poor brethren seem, however, to have remained in the same state, each “in his narrow cell of durance pent,” in their old cloister, divided into six apartments, with the farmer's granary over their heads, till the days of the present munificent Master, who may well be called a second founder.

In 1785 John-William Egerton, eldest son of the Bishop of Durham, was collated to the Mastership. In 1803 he succeeded to the Earldom of Bridgewater, on the death of Duke Francis. Instead of resigning the Mastership, he held it thenceforth, not as an object of emolument, but with a view to improve and augment, in fact to restore, a foundation to which he felt attached as the gift of a father in earlier life.

The foundation-stone of an entirely new building was laid, on a plan of Wyatt's, Sept. 15, 1803, and was completed in the following year.

The structure has four regular fronts; the main face is to the South, with an arcade of three arches in the centre, surmounted by a clock, tower, and dome for a bell. The Brethren's apartments fill the square, with passages leading to a large hall or common room in the centre. The lights are uniform square, divided by stone mullions under labels. On the South front, above the entrance:

In Fratrum Hujus hospith Usum,
Non Sine Grata Patris Sui
Nuper Episcopi Dunelmensis
Impensis Joannis Gulielmi Egerton,
comitis de bridgewater,
Anno Domini Mdccciv,
Reparatum, Ornatum, Amplificatum.

The number of the In-brethren is restored to thirteen, and every attention has been paid to the comfort of the inmates by new regulations adapted to the present times.

List of Masters of Greatham Hospital.

  • Andrew de Stanley, appointed on the foundation 23 Jan. 1272, buried at Sedgefield (fn. 8).
  • Thomas de Levesham, occurs Nov. 22, 1301.
  • William de Middleton, 1312.
  • William de Westle, occ. 17 July, 1351.
  • Thomas de Bridekirk, occ. 18 Nov. 1358.
  • Henry de Snayth, 10 Nov. 1361.
  • John de Sleford, 1363, p. res. Snayth.
  • Henry de Snayth again, id. an. p. res. Sleford.
  • William de Denby, 1366, p. res. Snayth.
  • John de Henle (fn. 9), 28 Aug. 1372, p. res. Denby.
  • Thomas de Weston (fn. 10), 17 June 1396.
  • John de Tibbay (fn. 11), 1408, p. m. Weston.
  • Ralph Steel (fn. 12).
  • John Hunteman, S. T. B. 1415, p. res. Steel.
  • Nicholas Hulme (fn. 13), 1427, p. m. Hunteman.
  • John Soulby, 1433, p. res. Hulme.
  • Robert Tatman, S. T. P. 1439, p. m. Soulby.
  • John Lathom (fn. 14), Cl. 20 Apr. 1441.
  • William Scroop, 1451.
  • John Kelynge, Clerk, 1463, p. m. Scroop.
  • William de Estfeld (fn. 15).
  • Edward Strangwish, 26 Aug. 1500, p. m. Estfeld.
  • Humphrey Gascoin (fn. 16), occ. 1532.
  • Thomas Sparke, 6 Sept. 1541, p. m. Gascoin.
  • John Kingesmill, A. M. 1 March 1571, p. m. Sparke.
  • John Barnes, 6 Nov. 1585.

Masters Under King James's Charter.

  • Henry Dethick, A.M. appointed in the Charter (fn. 17), 20 July 1610.
  • Ferdinando Moorcroft, A. M. (fn. 18)
  • William Neile, Clerk, 13 Nov. 1619, p. res. Moorcroft.
  • John Cosin, S. T. B. (fn. 19) 22 June 1624, p. m. Neile.
  • Gabriel Clarke, A. M. (fn. 20) 24 July 1624, p. res. Cosin.
  • Samuel Rand, M. D. (fn. 21) occ. 1644, an intruder.
  • Simon Askew, 1653, an intruder.
  • Thomas Potter, S. T. P. (fn. 22) 19 May 1662.
  • Sir Gilbert Gerard, Bart. (fn. 23) 27 May 1663, p. res. Potter.
  • John Parkhurst, LL. B. (fn. 24) 30 Oct. 1676.
  • Dormer Parkhurst, LL. B. (fn. 25) 2 June 1711, p. res. Parkhurst.
  • Nicholas Halhead, Gent. (fn. 26) 14 Aug. 1764, p. m. Parkhurst.
  • John-William Egerton, Esq. (now Earl of Bridgewater) 1785, p. m. Halhead.

In 1563 Thomas Sparke, Master of Greatham, and Suffragan Bishop of Berwick, devised “unto the Ospitall of Gretham, there to remayne for implements, two trussing beddes, with there testerus and hangings, a cupborde bedde, a carved cupborde, a counter, and all the hangings in both the new chambers which I caused to make. Also, I will that the staite and stocke of that now myne hospitall shall be made good in all things, the ornaments of the chappell (except what were taken awaye by the King's Commissioners,) as it was at myne entre thereunto; all wh thinges Mr. Tempest, my farmer thereof, standing bounde to discharge, &c. To every brother and bedeman, xiid.; to the pooer of Gretham, fower marks.”

By will, dated 1 April 1613, “Henry Dethicke, of Gretham, sonne unto Sir Gilbert Dethicke, of ye countie of Middlesex, Knight, devises to the poore of the Parish of St. Clements, where he was borne, 40s.; to the poore cottagers in Gretham, 40s.; to my sonne Martyn one long sylver boll, and a tankard hooped newest fashion, wh I bought last, a new sylver salte, and twoo lesse sylver booles and sixe spoones. Unto my daughters Cordell, and Margaret Wyclyffe, twoo of my bigger sylver booles. To my sonne Martyn towards his building at Pespoole all my fine buntinges (fn. 27), and my two breeding mares and their fooles. God knowes how carefull I have been to have dischardged a good conscience both for hospitality and dilapidac'ons, as will appear by my renewed charter, without any aide of my unthankfull tenants. My wife Jane, tutrix of my sonne Thomas (fn. 28). For my daughters, Cordell and Margaret, I have given to ev'y of them five hundreth pounds in their maridges. Mr. Henry Ewbank, Mr. Edward Hutton, Mr. John Richardson the elder, and Mr. Io. Dodsworth, of Watlas, with my sonne Henry Tennant, Supervisors.”

The Hospital suffered severely during the civil wars. Dr. Gabriel Clarke, a steady loyalist, was ejected from the Mastership, which, in 1644, was given by the House of Commons to “Mr. Samuel Rand, Doctor of Physic, a person that hath approved himself a constant friend to the cause, and suffered great losses by the enemy (fn. 29).” However, 1653, October 3, “Col. Rous reports the humble petition of Capt. Askwith for his being Master of Gretham Hospital; and resolved that the place, &c. shall be void as to Dr. Rand, and that the same be bestowed on Captain Simon Askew (fn. 30).” Bishop Cosin gave the Mastership to his son-in-law Sir Gilbert Gerard, who seems to have resided here. From this time the successive Masters have been all laymen.

The Master's House is a handsome modern building, with a pleasant garden, commanding a fine view of the rich inclosed country to the Southward, and the long line of the Yorkshire hills; it is occupied by the Rev. John Brewster.

The Chapel,

As it stood before 1788, was only a portion of the original structure. The chancel was entire; but the body of the Church, which seems to have consisted of a nave and transept, was abridged and mutilated (fn. 31). The building had become entirely ruinous, and in 1788 was taken down, and the present neat structure (fn. 32) reared on the site of the old chancel, at the expence of the Master.

The Chapel stands on a beautiful rising ground within the Master's garden.

Monumental Inscriptions.

In the old Chapel “the ascent to the altar was by four deep steps, passing on each side of a large marble slab, which lay in the centre, level with the upper pavement, bearing no inscription. Two of the Masters lie under this stone, William Estfield, 1500; and Thomas Sparke, Suffragan Bishop of Berwick, 1571.

In the South wall of the transept, at the West end of the old Chapel, was an arched sepulchral recess, under which lay a wooden figure much defaced, of an ecclesiastic; the head is in a cap resting on a pillow, and the feet rest on a lamb; the robes are short, and beneath them appears something like the end of a staff (fn. 33). As it was necessary to take down the wall in which this recess was placed, the contents of the tomb beneath were fully explored. “Under a marble slab was discovered a stone coffin, the bottom of which was level with the floor of the chapel, and which, though the sides were stone, consisted only of lime or plaister; the marble slab rested on a row of smaller flags. When these were removed, a very complete skeleton (fn. 34) was discovered, with a chalice (fn. 35) lying on the left side, which seemed to have fallen from the hands, which had been clasped on the breast. The only other remaining substance within the coffin, was a portion of the shoes or sandals (fn. 36).

On a brass plate, fixed in the wall near the altar:

Orate pro a'i'abus Nicholai Hulme Job'is Kelyng
et Will'mi Estfelde clericor. quonda. hujus hospitalis
Magistror. ac parentu. fundatoru. suor. benefactoru. atq.
Omiu. fideliu. defu'ctor. quor. A'i'ab's P'piciet. Deus. Amen.

On brass running round the margin of a marble slab in the floor of the chancel:

[Hic iacet Magister Willelmus de Midiltown sacre pagine doctor quondam customm dom' istius orate pro eo]

Before quitting the subject of the Hospital, it will be necessary to notice the common Seal now used by the Master and Brethren, and engraved in Allan's Collections, and in Hutchinson. The Seal represents an ecclesiastic under a canopy, supporting with both hands the keel of a ship (which crosses and covers his breast) like that on our old Nobles; at the stem and stern of the vessel are two shields of arms, a plain cross on the right, and on the left France and England quarterly; above, in the canopy, are the arms of Edward the Confessor, a cross patonce between four martlets. Under the figure is inscribed, Steph's Payn. The legend of the Seal is, Sigillum officii elemosinarii Regis Henrici Anglie. Stephen Payne, the King's Almoner, was Dean of Exeter from 1415 to his death in 1419. Unless the Seal came accidentally to Greatham, it is difficult to account for the connexion of the King's Almoner with the Hospital on any other supposition, than that the house was for a time in the Crown. In 1414 the Commons addressed the King, who demanded a subsidy, praying him to seize the revenues of the Church; and to ward the blow, the Archbishop of Canterbury resolved to resign into the King's hands the alien Priories, and several religious foundations where there was no cure of souls (fn. 37).

Parkhurst's Hospital.

In 1761 Dormer Parkhurst, Esq. Master of Greatham, began to erect an hospital for six poor widows or spinsters, for whom he built six neat separate apartments, with a plot of garden to each: the buildings were completed the next year. The deed of endowment bears date 12 Oct. 1762. The endowment consists of about twenty-seven acres of land in the parish of Stockton, which are now let for 99l. 14s. per annum. The inmates are to be chosen from the township of Greatham, being fifty years of age, and legally settled there; or in defect of such objects within Greatham, from the neighbouring townships. Each receives 1l. per month, 4s. at Christmas, 2s. at Whitsuntide, and 2s. at Easter, a gown once a-year, and a reasonable quantity of coals. The residue of the funds, if any, is to be applied to the binding out of poor boys from the township of Greatham: the regulation of the funds is vested in seven Trustees (fn. 38). The Master of Greatham is Patron. (See the Deed of Endowment, in the Appendix.)

The Church,

As it stood when Hutchinson wrote, consisted of a nave, with regular ailes, each formed by three pillars supporting light pointed arches, and a chancel opening under a round arch springing from hexagonal pilasters. In 1792, the whole structure being ruinous, was taken down and entirely rebuilt, and a bell-tower added at the West-end, with an entrance beneath. The only parts of the old structure which are retained, are the pillars and arches on each side of the nave, forming regular ailes. The lights are all modern sashes, under pointed arches, three in each aile, one on each side of the chancel, and a large East window. There is a handsome gallery at the West end of the nave, supported on cast metal pillars (fn. 39).

On a plain oval tablet of white marble, against the South wall of the chancel:

In memory of
The Rev. Richard Brewster, A. M.
Vicar of Heighington in this County,
Lecturer of St. Thomas and St. Ann's Chapels,
in Newcastle-upon-Tyne;
where he died distinguished by a life
of strict piety and virtue,
April 5, 1772, aged 54 years,
and was interred
in the parish of St. Nicholas.
Also in memory of
Isabel his widow,
who ended a devout and useful life
May 11, 1797, aged 71 years,
and was interred here.
This monunent was erected
as a tribute of
filial affection.

On a mural monument of white and grey marble:

In grateful remembrance of Frances, wife of the Rev. John Brewster, M. A. Rector of Eggescliffe, and Vicar of this Parish, youngest daughter of Leonard Robinson, of Stockton, Esquire, who died Aug. 22, 1818, aged 66 years.

Let not your heart be troubled,
Ye believe in God; believe also in me.

John, ch. xiv. v. 1.

On a mural monument of white marble:

In memory of Mary Brewster, youngest daughter of the Rev. Richard Brewster, late Vicar of Heighington, who died June 22, 1817, aged 57 years, and of

Mary Baxter, her maternal aunt, who died April 23, 1810, aged 85.

To live is Christ,
To die is gain.

Phil. ch. i. v. 21.

On a mural monument of black and white marble, against the North wall of the chancel:

In memory of Ralph Bradley, Esq. an eminent Councillor at Law, born in this parish, who bequeathed a large fortune, acquired in a great measure by his abilities and integrity, to the purchasing of books calculated to promote the interests of virtue and religion, and the happiness of mankind (fn. 40). He died the 28th day of December 1788, in the 72d year of his age.

Beneath, on a copper-plate:

By a decree of Edward Lord Thurlow, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, on the 2d day of August 1791, the charitable intention mentioned in the above monument of Ralph Bradley, Esq. was set aside in favour of the next of kin (fn. 41).

On flags in the floor of the chancel:

Here lyeth the body of Margaret, wife of Mr. Nicholas Bradley, 2d daughter of Ralph Bunting, of Stockton, Alderman, who departed this life the 22d day of October 1720, ætatis suæ 32. Nicholas Bradley was buried Aug. 5, 1754, aged 82. Also, Ralph Bradley, his son, who died Dec. 28, 1788, aged 72.

In memory of Ann, the 2d wife of Nicholas Bradley, who died the 4th of Nov. 1742, aged 60.

Thomas Bradley, son of Nicholas and Margaret Bradley, who departed.

Here lyeth the body of Ann Bradley, daughter of Nicholas Bradley, who departed this life Sept. the 8 . . .

In memory of the Reverend James Horseman, 60 years Vicar of this parish, who died June the 26th, 1790, aged 88. Also, of Elizabeth his wife, who died May 11th, 1772, aged 74. Also, Elizabeth his daughter, who died March 27th, 1813, aged 75.

In memory of the Rev. James Horseman, Curate of Sedgefield, the son of the Rev. James Horseman, Vicar of this parish, and of Elizabeth his wife; who died Oct. 6, 1765, aged 23.

Succession of Vicars of Greatham.

Greatham Vicarage.—A discharged living in the Deanery of Stockton.—The Master of Greatham Hospital, Patron.—Tenths, 4s. 2d.; Episc. Proc. 4s.; Synodals, 11s.; Archid. 2s.

  • Maurice, occurs 1278.
  • Richard de Toppeclyve, 1308.
  • Adam de Bedale, 1312.
  • Thomas Bolton, 1424.
  • John Lanyers, 1430.
  • William Spencer, 1432.
  • William Watson, 1501.
  • Robert Ratcliffe.
  • John Mutho, 1533.
  • John Emson, 30 Feb. 1535.
  • George Wynter, 1558.
  • Robert Sparke, 1580.
  • William Wodd, 1581.
  • Joseph Wood, A. B. 1627.
  • Edward Smathwaite, 1649.
  • James Muke, 1653.
  • Patrick Drummond, A. M. 1662.
  • John Kearsley, 1678.
  • Richard Redhead, 1722.
  • James Horseman, 1730, p. Redhead.
  • John Brewster (fn. 42), A. M. Linc. Coll. p. m. Horseman, 1790.
  • John Brewster, A. M. University Coll. Oxon. p. res. Brewster, 1818.

The Vicarage-house is a neat cottage building, with a garden and an orchard on the West of half an acre. The present Vicar inhabits the Master's house belonging to the Hospital.

There are nineteen acres of glebe in the township of Greatham, which have a right of four gates on Greatham Marsh. The Vicar has also the undivided moiety of fifty acres in the township of Seaton-Carrow; with the moiety of a farm-house and stables in the village of Seaton, and of ten stints on Seaton Marsh. [The other moiety of this farm, which was purchased with Queen Anne's Bounty, belongs to the Vicar of Dalton-le-Dale.]

The Vicar has tithe of hay, and all small or Vicarial tithes within the township of Claxton, and all small tithes, but not hay tithe, within the township of Greatham, excepting from the Hospital (fn. 43) lands, which are totally exempt.

The Master holds the whole of the great tithes of Greatham.

The Parochial Register begins 1564, the commencement seems imperfect.

1661. Collected upon a breefe for ye releefe of Protestants of ye dukdom of Luthnania (Lithuania), obtenned by John de Kransby, deputy of the Protestant churches in these places, one shilling threepence. Collected on ye Fast days, for ye plague, Sept. and Oct. 1665, 1s. 8d. Collected in ye church of Greatham, for ye use of those that suffered by ye dreadfull fire of London, the sume of five shillings four pence, on the fast day, being Wednesday ye 10th of October, 1666. For John Osburne, Russia merchant, for his insupportable losses at sea, 3s. 2d. Sept. 30, 1666. For ye use of Moorish Long and his sister, who suffered in Ireland by pyrats, 1s. 4d. Mar. 10, 1667. 1663, Oct. 25, for William Sandwell, who suffered shipwreck, 1s. 10d.

A Scottish serjeant buried Nov. 23, 1645.

1743, May 20. Buried Mr. Christopher Frubbisher. He was taken up the 22d, and removed to York.

The freeholds in Greatham, independent of the lands of the Hospital, are, of course, trifling. In 1684 the freeholders were, William Johnson, at Bowburn-house; Robert Johnson, John Jurdeson, and Thomas Swainston, of Stockton, seaman (fn. 44).

The common fields (fn. 45) of Greatham were divided in 1650 (fn. 46).

On Greatham Marsh, near the æstuary of the Tees, are the remains of ancient saltworks. Several of the farms adjoining the marshes pay a salt-rent to the Hospital. The award of 1650 states, that the Saltcotes “were long since washed away, or rendered useless by the tides of the sea,” and reduces the salt-rents to eight loads per ann. (fn. 47) The cockle-beds at the mouth of the Tees have long afforded employment to the poor of the neighbouring district. Besides the home consumption, it is computed that 300l. is annually gained in Greatham by this occupation.

Poor rates for the township of Greatham, 1801, 116l. 18s. 3d.; 1810, 134l. 16s. 3d.; 1817, 127l. 18s. 4d.

In 1820 a person engaged in shrimping experienced the following providential escape:

On the 31st of October Arthur Marlham, of Greatham, was pursuing his occupation on the sand islands in the Tees, when he was overtaken by the tide in the dusk of the evening. He did not see his danger till he was nearly surrounded by the water, and knowing there was no possibility of escape, he began to consider how he could longest preserve himself from being carried away by the tide. A current of a few yards was all the uncovered space left him. He selected the highest spot, on which he placed his leap (a wicker basket carried on the shoulder in shrimping), and fixing his shrimping-pole, with the net downwards, to give the pole as sure a purchase as he could, he mounted his basket and held by the pole. The tide soon covered his feet, and gradually flowed as high as his middle. After three hours he thought he saw the water begin to fall; but in a few minutes a breeze sprung up, and the tide flowed again six or seven inches. The tide however was falling, and he remained on his sand-bank till he was relieved by the fishing boats in the morning. His situation in the river was two miles from the Durham coast, and three from Yorkshire, in the midst of the Tees Æstuary, with the wide ocean full in front at the river mouth. He said it was an awful sight to look over the waters; but his presence of mind and his trust in Providence never forsook him. J. B.


The ancient manor of Claxton adjoins Greatham on the West. There is no village, only a few farmholds. Of the ancient manor-house, which was early deserted for Horden, no traces exist.

A branch of the Norman family of Heriz (fn. 48) settled here, and gradually assumed the local name. Their earliest evidence is perhaps the grant of Thomas Prior of Durham, to Leo de Claxton, of a toft, which lately belonged to Bewley Grange, for the foundation of a free chapel, with a quit-claim of two oxgangs in Claxton, which Leo, grandfather of Leo, assigned to the same Chapel. Claxton's seal to the counterpart bears the impress of a single urchin—sigill. leonis de heriis (fn. 49). Roger de Claxton occurs in 1272, father of another Roger, who was lord of Claxton in 1310, and had four sons, Leo, John, Michael, and Robert (fn. 50). The descendants of Leo de Claxton have been already traced under Horden (fn. 51), and it remains only to notice briefly a few transactions which relate exclusively to Claxton. In 1335 Leo, son and heir of Roger de Claxton grants to Adam Bedell, Chaplain, four oxgangs in Claxton (fn. 52). In 1349 the same Leo granted his manor of Claxton to John Bulmer, reserving an annuity of 20l. for life; and in the same year John Bulmer, lord of Claxton, grants to Alice, that was widow of Leo, sometime lord of Claxton, four messuages in Claxton and a croft adjoining, called the Ladygarth, rendering one rose to Sir William Claxton on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, with remainder to Sir William Claxton; and, failing his issue, to his brother Thomas Claxton; and failing, &c. to Ralph Nevill, Knight of Raby (fn. 52). In 1369 Thomas Claxton releases to his brother Sir William all his interest in Claxton in lands either of his father Leo, or of his uncle Michael Claxton. In 1364 John, son and heir of William Makpays, of Claxton, releases to William Claxton, Chivaler, and Joan his wife, four oxgangs and an acre of meadow in Claxton, which he had recovered by writ of right against Joan the widow, and John the son of John de Kellaw, of Seton (fn. 52); and in 1365 Robert de Lewisham releases to Sir William Claxton, three messuages, eight oxgangs, and four acres of meadow in Claxton (fn. 53).

Sir Robert Claxton left four daughters his coheirs in 1484 (fn. 54). Claxton, on the division of the estates, fell to Margaret, the eldest daughter, wife of Sir William Elmeden, whose son William Elmeden left an only daughter, wife to Sir William Bulmer. The Pedigree has been traced under Elmeden and Tursdale. Sir Bertram Bulmer, and William his son and heir, alienated half the manor of Claxton in 1632 to Ralph Johnson, of Greatham, and Robert Bromley, of Hart. The Johnsons (of Greatham and Seaton) afterwards held the chief portion of the estate (fn. 55).

In 1684 the freeholders were, George Johnson, Matthew Johnson, Thomas Hett, William Johnson, of Bowburn-house, pauper; Robert Johnson, of Seaton Carrow; William Johnson, of the same; and Robert Gibson, of Claxton.

At present William Byers, Esq. has an estate in Claxton.

Carta Fundationis Capellæ de Claxton.
Omnibus hoc scriptum visuris vel audituris Thomas Prior et Conventus Dunelm. Ecclesie, Sal. in Dño. Noveritis nos concessisse, &c. Leonio de Claxton et heredibus suis, unum toftum quod dudum pertinebat ad grangiam nostram de Bello loco; viz. quod jacet extra villam de Claxton, ex boreali parte vie que ducit apud Herterpol, cum vesturis ejusd. tofti, sine decimatione percipiendis, viz. herbe et feni, si quæ inde percipi poterint eo inhabitato, et capellam suam in perpetuum liberam in eodem loco. Ita quod liceat eidem Leonio et heredibus suis pro voluntate suâ in dictâ capellâ, dum tamen sumptibus suis propriis fiat, divina celebrare. Et preterea sciatis nos quietas clamasse de nobis et Succ. nostris quantum, &c. duas terre bovatas in villa de Claxton dicto Leonio et heredibus suis quas Leonius avus suus assignavit dicte capelle, reddendo inde, &c. sex sol. ad duos. Et sciendum quod si dictus Leonius vel heredes sui in predicto tofto edificaverint et inhabitaverint, visitabunt matricem Ecclesiam suam de Billingham suis oblationibus in quatuor festis anni, in eadem Ecclesia constitutis. Volumus etiam ut dictus Leonius et heredes sui quieti sint à secta placitorum in curiâ nostrâ et in hujus, &c. T. Dño Jordano Hayrun, Jordano de Dalden, et Nigello de Rungeton, Will'o de Hessewell, Laurentiâ de Wulvestun, Wilto Hayrun, Johanne de Rungeton, Wilto de ferie Clerico, Roberto de Nunwich, et aliis. Sigill. Leonis de Heriis.

Charitable Benefactions to the Parish of Greatham.

The Hospital, in Greatham; and Parkhurst's Hospital. See the preceding Account.

By Ind. dated Oct. 12, 20 Charles II. Samuel Rand, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Doctor of Physic (Master of Greatham Hospital during the Usurpation), gave a rent-charge of the value of 6l. out of lands now belonging to Sir William Pennyman, Bart. at Thornton, in the county of York, “to the poor inhabiting in Greatham, in the county of Durham, to be disposed of and distributed at the discretion of the Minister and Overseers of the poor people of Greatham for the time being.” This payment is regularly made, and the money applied to the apprenticing of poor children belonging to the township; which has been the custom since the memory of man, and probably has arisen from the discretion originally given to the Minister and Overseers.

The Red-Barns Cottages, or Cot-houses, N° 37 and N° 91 (parcels of land so termed), formerly belonging to John Sparkes, were charged with 10s. per annum, to be distributed among poor widows belonging to the Parish of Greatham. The principal of this, viz. 10l. was taken by the Overseers of the poor a few years ago, and appropriated to rebuild a parish-house: the 10s. has never been distributed as before; but the rent arising from the house is added to the poor's rate.

The Poor's Cottage, N° 88 (a parcel of land of about four acres), is let for 12s. per ann. The produce of it is thus applied:—7s. are reserved out of the May-day rent, as an out-rent due to Greatham Hospital; 6s. for bread are reserved out of the Martinmas rent, and distributed at church to poor persons present on the Festival of the Purification. The residue or remainder of the rent is given in money by the Overseers of the poor of Greatham, on Whitsun Eve and on St. Thomas's Day, to poor widows and other poor persons residing in Greatham. The donor of the cottage is unknown; but the name of the person who left the distribution of bread, was Thomas Barker.

There is a dole, called the Widow's Dole, distributed once a month by the Hospital of God in Greatham, to twenty-six poor persons or families residing in Greatham, consisting of four pounds of dough to each, ready for baking. The distribution is discontinued from the first day of harvest to the first day of November.

Matthew Carr, of Greatham, yeoman, bequeathed by his last will and testament, dated January 28, 1818, “the sum of 100l. to the Minister and Churchwardens for the time being, of Greatham, to be paid at the end of twelve calendar months next after his decease; the same to be placed out upon government securities at interest, and from time to time to alter and transpose such securities, and to call, or get in, and place out or invest the same again in or upon new or other securities of like nature at interest; and do and shall distribute the dividends and yearly income thereof at Christmas-tide in every year for ever, amongst the poor inhabitants of Greatham aforesaid, whether they be legally settled in that township or not, in such manner as the Vicar and Churchwardens for the time being of Greatham aforesaid shall think proper. It being my wish and intention that the same yearly dividends shall not be applied in aid of the parish rates, and that the poor widows shall be first considered in the distribution.” Matthew Carr died Aug. 8, 1818. The above sum was funded in the 4 per Cents. in the names of the Vicar and Churchwardens for the time being, and the first dividends distributed to nine poor widows at Christmas 1820.


  • 1. And no doubt called Greatham in comparison with the smaller neighbouring hamlets. The village includes several neat tenements.
  • 2.
  • 3. In the dubious list of Knights at the battle of Lewes, 1264, is “Roger Bertram à Gretham;” and Graystanes (Anglia Sacra, p. 742,) says, “ipsam villam Episcopus emerat à quodam cognomine Bertram.” Either this was some separate property in Gretham, or Bertram had granted to Montfort.
  • 4. See the Charter in the Appendix, with the Statutes of Bishop Stichill and De Montfort's Charter.
  • 5. Of these only six were In-brethren, till the present munificent Master built accommodations for the whole thirteen.
  • 6. This conjecture is confirmed by the discovery of human bones in a plot of ground, probably used as a cemetery, on the East of the building. J. Brewster.
  • 7. Licence to inspect, directed to the Vicar of Greatham, Billingham, and Stranton, John Marshall, of Greatham; Ralph Bunting, of Stockton; and Robert Weams, of Hartlepool, Gent. 1 Aug. 1724, on the representation of Dormer Parkhurst, Esq. Master, who states the buildings to be so far dilapidated, that all repairs would be thrown away, and is therefore desirous to take down and rebuild the same.—Papers communicated to the Rev. Brewster by the Bishop of Durham
  • 8. See M. I. p. 28.
  • 9. Canon of Westminster, which he exchanged for the Mastership. Treasurer to Bishop Hatfield.
  • 10. Archdeacon of Durham, Preb. of York and Howden.
  • 11. Archd. of Huntingdon, Preb. of York and Lincoln.
  • 12. He gave his lands in Willardby to Cottingham Priory, 1414. Mon. Ebor. p. 317.
  • 13. See M. I. p. 138.
  • 14. He founded a Chantry at the Altar of St. John the Baptist in Eskdale Priory, 1455. Stevens, vol. II. p. 69.
  • 15. Rector of Sedgefield.
  • 16.
  • 17. See Amerston.
  • 18. Rector of Stanhope, Vicar of Heighington, and Prebendary of the sixth Stall.
  • 19. Afterwards Bishop of Durham.
  • 20. Successively Archdeacon of Northumberland and Durham, Rector of Elwick, Prebendary of the first Stall.
  • 21. Son of John Rand, Vicar of Norton.
  • 22. Register, Cosin.
  • 23. Of Fisherton, co. Lane. High Sheriff of the county of Durham, son-in-law to Bishop Cosin.
  • 24. Of Catesby, Northamptonshire, Esq.
  • 25. Son of the former.
  • 26. Secretary to Bishop Trevor, Steward of the Halmot Courts, and Registrar of the Dioceses of Durham and St. David's; died at Tunbridge, July 1785.
  • 27. In those elder days, when David stored up and Solomon builded, the dry rot, the effect of green unseasoned timber still capable of throwing out a crop of vegetable fungus, was, I believe, unknown, and church work and house work, if slow, was sure.
  • 28. He died a poor brother of the Hospital. “Thomas Dethick, a brother, buried 13 April 1658.”
  • 29. Commons' Journals, 3 Sept. 1644, vol. III. p. 635.
  • 30. Commons' Journals, vol. VII. p. 328.
  • 31. “The chancel is entire, but the nave much mutilated, nothing but the cross aile remaining at the North-west and South-west corner at which you enter; and there is a short aile at each end, formed by two pillars supporting pointed arches. This part of the building, North and South, is twenty-two paces in length, and only seven paces in width from the chancel to the West wall: the pillars of the South aile are circular, the North octagonal. The chancel is appropriated to divine service, the outer parts serving as a portico, separated by a screen and stall, covered with heavy canopies of woodwork.” Hutch. vol. III. p. 91.
  • 32. A modern building, with three windows on the South, and the same on the North, and a large East light. It is neatly fitted up for the accommodation of the brethren, as well as for the six sisters belonging to Parkhurst's Hospital, all of whom attend morning prayer daily. J. B.
  • 33. See a print of this figure, Plate 1, fig. 6. Gent. Mag. Dec. 1788.
  • 34. The bones, which when first discovered were in their natural position, excepting that the head had slipped forward, after a few hours exposure to the air, fell flat and separated at the joints, but did not moulder. They were re-interred under the altar of the new Chapel.
  • 35. This was of pewter or lead, and perfectly plain. It is engraved, plate I. fig. 8, Gent. Mag. Dec. 1788.
  • 36. See a Letter, Gent. Mag. 1788, p. 1046, communicated by the Rev. John Brewster.
  • 37.
  • 38. In 1806, Robert Smith, of Greatham, and Ralph Atkinson, late of the same place, surviving trustees, appointed the Rev. John Brewster, Vicar of Greatham; the Rev. Joseph Birkett, Vicar of Stranton; Robert Clarke, Esq. of Stockton and Robert Smith, jun. and James Langley, of Greatham, Gents.
  • 39.
    Builder paid in cash £95 15 6
    Lead roof, valued at 180 0 0
    Chancel built by the Master 40 0 0
    £315 15 6
  • 40. The words of the inscription are those of the bequest in the will.
  • 41. The amount of the bequest, at the time of the distribution, was 40,000l. George Brown, of Stockton, Esq. Rowland Webster, of Stockton, and the Rev. John Brewster, of Stockton, were the Executors.
  • 42. Successively Rector of Redmarshall, Boldon, and Eggescliffe; resigned Greatham 1818; Author of the History of Stockton, 4 to. 1796; of Meditations for the Aged, &c.; and it may be added, long and justly respected for the exemplary discharge of his parochial duties.
  • 43. Terrier, 2 Aug. 1792.
  • 44. Sheriffs' List.
  • 45.
  • 46. Christopher Fulthorpe, Esq. Henry Barnes, Thomas Peers, and William Kitching, Commissioners, appointed by Samuel Rand, M. D. Master, and the Brethren, Edward Smathwaite, Minister, and the freeholders and cottagers. Decree confirming the Award, Book L. p. 118, in Canc. Dunelm.
  • 47.
  • 48. The first settler at Claxton was probably a cadet of the Baronial family of Heriz of Wiverton in Nottinghamshire. William (brother of Ivo de Heriz), who attests a charter of his nephew William de Heriz, about the time of Henry II. would not stand ill in point of time as father of the Claxton line; but see Thoroton's Notts, pp. 30 and 300; and Dugdale's Baronage, title Heriz, vol. I. p. 684. See also, in Chalmers's Caledonia, the very interesting chapter on the Saxon, Norman, and Flemish settlers in Scotland, vol. I. p. 535. The Claxtons, whilst they changed their name, constantly retained the three allusive herissons, or hedgehogs, of the paternal coat, varying only the tincture. Heriz of Wiverton bears Azure three hedgehogs Or; Lord Herries, of Terregles in Scotland, Argent, three urchins (or hedgehogs) Sable; Maxwell Lord Herries, Argent, a saltire Sable, in chief a label of three points Gules; quartering, Argent, three urchins Sable, for Herries; and Claxton, Gules, a fesse between three hedgehogs Argent. The crest, which in the Visitations is a hedgehog Sable, quilled Or, appears on Sir William Claxton's seal (in tho Treasury) a garb on a helmet. See Plate X. N° 15.
  • 49. Quit-claim, without date, of lands in Wadley, from Cristina, widow of Patrick de Wadley, to Leo de Heriz. T. Will'o Hayrun.
  • 50. Citation from Bishop Kellaw to Roger Lord of Claxton, Leo, John, Michael, and Robert, his sons, and William Postell, to appear and answer before the Bishop whenever he may be within his diocese, on the morrow of the Purification. Stoketon, 23 Jan. A° Pont. 1°. Kellaw's Reg. Michael Claxton was living in 1350, and then released a monied payment to his nephew Sir William Claxton. In 1310 Roger Heriz, Lord of Claxton, grants to his son the same Michael, for term of life, two tofts and four oxgangs in Claxton. Orig. D. and C. Treas.
  • 51. See vol. I. p. 28.
  • 52. Orig. Charters, D. and C. Treas. Claxton Box.
  • 53. In 1421 the manor is stated to be held of the Bishop by homage, fealty, suit of court once a fortnight, and 13s. 4d. exchequer rent. Inq. p. m. Isabel Claxton, 15 Langley.
  • 54. See Horden.
  • 55.