Parish of Bishopton

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 Bishopton', in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards, (London, 1823) pp. 67-69. British History Online [accessed 27 May 2024].

Robert Surtees. "Parish of Bishopton", in The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards, (London, 1823) 67-69. British History Online, accessed May 27, 2024,

Surtees, Robert. "Parish of Bishopton", The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards, (London, 1823). 67-69. British History Online. Web. 27 May 2024,

In this section


The Parish of Bishopton is bounded by Redmarshall and Grindon on the North, by Redmarshall on the East, Elton and Long Newton on the South-east, Haughton-le-Skerne (including the Chapelry of Sadberge) on the South and South-west, Aycliffe on the West, and Great Stainton on the North-west.


The most observable matter at Bishopton is the ancient mound or stronghold in a field at the East end of the village. This mound or agger is nearly a regular cone, with a flat or truncated summit, formed of the common clay and coble-stone of the country thrown together. Its base is surrounded by a deep circular trench: a second, or outward fosse, runs at the distance of a bow-shot to the East and West, but approaches the inner ditch much nearer on the North and South, forming an irregular square; and on the South of the station flows the Bishopton beck, by means of which the trenches might be easily inundated. The site of this little stronghold is a narrow area of low plashy meadow, completely commanded by the rising ground to the North-west, occupied by the village and church. It is evident that the chief confidence of the occupants against assault or surprise, must have rested on the facility with which they could flood the trenches, a mode of defence extremely common amongst the lower order of castelets, or fortified manor-houses; and sometimes even adopted in castles of the highest class in preference to all more obvious advantages of situation (fn. 1).

The earliest account, as well of Bishopton as of its stronghold, occurs in the Continuation of Simeon.—“There arose a feud betwixt Cumyn and Roger de Coyners, from whom he could never extort either homage or fealty, as from the other barons. Roger, therefore, in self-defence, began to fortify his house at Biscoptun for very fear of William. Cumyn made an attempt with a strong force to surprise the place, but was repulsed and obliged to retreat; and here the Bishop found a safe residence, and received the homage of such of his vassals as returned to their duty.” (fn. 2) The words of the historian, though they imply that Conyers had a previous residence at Bishopton, certainly seem to prove that it was then first converted into a place of strength, “Cessit ergo Rogerus ad sui munimentum, domum suam munire apud Biscoptun;” and I am strongly inclined to refer, if not the construction of the mound or agger itself, at least the formation of the trenches, to the owner's seasonable precautions on this occasion. Yet the central strength may most possibly have existed long before, and like the Capitular Seal of Durham, which bears the head of Jupiter Tonans, circumscribed with the legend of St. Oswald, may have been a Roman agger, a circular Danish fort, or a Druidical tumulus.

From the period, at least, of these transactions, Bishopton became the inheritance of the family of Conyers, whose descent is so fully exhibited under Sockburne as to need no repetition. During a possession of at least five centuries, the only charter of much interest which has occurred, relating exclusively to Bishopton, is the grant of Roger Conyers, by which he conveys to the Prior of Durham the three sons of Eylof de Biscopton, with all their succession, in exchange for a horse and six marks of silver, which he had received from the Treasury of St. Cuthbert at his greatest need (fn. 3). Aymeric, the Archdeacon, who attests the charter, was living in 1171.

In 1613, and the two following years, Sir George Conyers, of Sockburne, Knt. and George Conyers, Esq. his son and heir, alienated the whole of their manors of Bishopton, Stainton, and Newbiggin, in various parcels, to their tenants.

The purchasers as Bishopton—Nicholas Forwood, Gent., Rathey occur on the Close Rolls, are,

In lph Elstob, Gent. (fn. 4), Francis Welfoot, yeoman (fn. 5), John Humfray (fn. 6), William Leadom (fn. 7), Anthony Buckle (Bishopton-mill and mill-dam), Robert Chipches, Thomas Aire (fn. 8), Thomas Mauer, Thomas Roantree, Nicholas Jackson (fn. 9), Thomas Colson, and Cuthbert Beckfield.

Stainton—Forwood, Elstobb, and Welfoot (before named), Ralph and Henry Johnson (fn. 10), Thomas Newton, and John and Marmaduke Marchell (fn. 11).

East Newbiggin—Richard Cusson (fn. 12), Giles Widdowes (fn. 13), Clerk, (Vicar of Bishopton), Thomas Moorie (fn. 14), and John Widdowes.

The whole of these purchasers, which it seemed unnecessary to particularize, occur on the Rolls of Bishop James, A° 1613–1615.

In 1684 the freeholders in Bishopton Parish were,

Bishopton—The heirs of Richard Croft, Clerk; George Todd, Gent. (sold to Timothy Davison, Esq. (fn. 15);) John Rippon, of Manfield, in Yorkshire; Thomas Mawer; Thomas Aire; Thomas Pearson, Gent.; William Buckle; Jane Jackson, widow; Thomasine Beverley, widow.

Little Stainton—The heirs of Robert Tatham, Gent. (fn. 16); John Fewler, Gent.; Robert Allinson, Gent.; William Newton, of Redmarshall; Anthony Stelling; William Harrison, of Sadberge; Thomas Barker, of East Newbiggin (lives in Yorkshire); Thomas Bockfield, of the same; William Batmanson, Recusant.

The following extracts are from the Sequestrators' Books:

Papists in Little Stainton, Parish of Bishopton, 6 Sept. 1644—Mr. Medcalfe; Captain Porter; Henry Johnson, of Parva Stainton; Richard Johnson, of East Newbiggin.

The lands belonging to Mr. Metcalfe are farmed by Nicholas Pearson, of Murton, com. Ebor. Gent. by lease, dated 13 Octo. 12 Car. for xxl. per annum for 21 years.

Letten to Lancelot Lambe, of Bishopton, all the tythes of corn and graine in Little Stainton, and East and West Newbiggin, late belonging to Coll. Thomas Davison; the rent xxxs. monthly.

Sequestrators for Bishopton Parish—Thomas Welfoot, John Middleton, Thomas Colson, John Atkinson, William Mawer, Thomas Aire.

Information of John Middleton, Constable, concerning the deliquency of Lancelot Todd.—His son Christopher Todd in the army against the King and Parliamt, and the father and son lived all together; had 7 kine, 9 sheep, 12 acres of pease and 5 of oates. John Middleton was present when oulde Todd said, “My son Cursty shall go and fighte for the King, and who knows but he may come back a capten in spite of the Crop-ears;” and that Middleton was present also when a blacke horse, which he thinkes belonged to oulde Todd, was brought out of the stable for Chr (fn. 17) Todd to ride away upon; and after drinking he rode away about two of the clock in the morning by moonlight, and that oulde Todd went often to Coll. Conyers, at Layton, a noted papist and delinquent. Oulde Todd's lands worth 30l. a-yeare.

This very natural picture of rustic loyalty, for which we are indebted to the laudable exertions of Master Constable, is immediately followed by an order to “Sequester the goods of Lancelot Todd, papist, 26l. 1s. 2d.

The Church

Consists of a long narrow chancel and nave, without towers or aisles. The whole building was repaired and modernised, and the lead exchanged for slate a few years ago: the lights are modern.

The Churches of Bishopton and Sockburn were given to the house of Sherburn by Roger Conyers, and Robert his son and heir, before 1200. The Master of Sherburn is the present Patron, and retains the tithe of wool and lamb.

Succession of Vicars.

Bishopton Vicarage, a discharged Living.—The Master and Brethren of Sherburn, Patrons.—Dedication to St. Peter.

  • Adam de Yersey, 1290.
  • Robert de Mersk, 1291.
  • Dñs Thomas, occurs 1317.
  • Radulph.
  • William de Newhouse, 1382.
  • John de Skyrwith, 1391.
  • John Bawdon, 1400.
  • John Sawer, 1409.
  • John Semer, 1501.
  • Will. Alandson, 1558.
  • Thomas Wall, 1560.
  • Giles Widdowes, 1579.
  • David Miles, 1625.
  • John Buckley, A. M. 1661.
  • Richard Croft, 1662.
  • William Thirkeld, A. M. 1681.
  • James Tate, 1686.
  • Michael Athelston, 1687.
  • Richard Conder, 1722.
  • Richard Newhouse, 1727.
  • Samuel Hudson, A. M. 1740.
  • Richard Tinkler, 1762.
  • Ralph Tatham, A. M. (fn. 17)

The glebe consists of about seventy acres.

Monumental Inscriptions.

On a blue slab, in the chancel:

Here lies the body of Mr. Richard Croft, late Vicar of this Church, who died the 11th day of November in the year 1681.

On a flat stone, near the porch:

Here lies the body of Ralph Tatham, who departed this life May the 9th, 1742, aged 64.

There are several memorials of the Hutchinsons of Whitton and Bishopton (fn. 18), viz.

Mary, wife of Henry Hutchinson, who died Nov. 24, 1786, aged 78 years.

Henry Hutchinson, died 17 Oct. 1788, æt. 57.

Thomas Hutchinson, of Whitton, Gent. ob. 28 March, 1794, æt. 85.

Henry Hutchinson, of Stockton, a younger son of the above Henry, ob. 28 Jan. 1811, æt. 77, and was buried at Kirklevington.

Sarah, sister of Henry Hutchinson, of Whitton, died 18th July 1786, aged 76 years.

On a head-stone:

Anne, wife of Robert Blakiston, of Bishopton, departed this life 29 March 1795, æt. 29.

Charitable Benefactions to The Parish of Bishopton.

A rent-charge of 20s. issuing out of lands in East Newbiggin, given by the will of Thomas Barker, Gent. in 1686; 13s. 4d. out of lands sometime of Rev. Richard Croft; 5s. out of lands sometime of Thomas Carlisle; and 5s. to be distributed in bread. Of which last named donations the dates are unknown (fn. 19).

Mary, wife of Brian Laton, of Gillyflatt, Esq. buried 11 March 1683–4.


  • 1. Witness the noble remains of Ravensworth Castle in Yorkshire, which, scorning all the vantage ground of Kirkby-hill, has stood in the vale, trusting only to her own iron towers, and to the circling morass. It is needless to point out the numerous manor-houses which trusted solely to the safeguard of the moat; Dinsdale, surrounded by its double fosse, and the Isle, insulated by the morasses of the Skerne, may serve as familiar instances in this immediate neighbourhood.
  • 2. Simeon Contin. p. 276. The rest of the story—the fortunate fidelity of Roger; the savage outrages, sudden submission, and easy penance of Cumyn, have been already related (see Gen. Hist. vol. I. p. xxiii). It would be no difficult matter, perhaps, with less of theory than is admitted into very grave works, to connect the faulchion-legend of Sockburne with the real exploits of the Constable at Bishopton, Cumyn playing the part of Dragon.
  • 3. Cart. Orig. D. & C. Treas.
  • 4. Ralph Elstob, Gent. died 20 Oct. 1615, seised of the Three Roods, the Small Roods, Punder-close, and Wydington, contin. 82 acres in Bishopton Northfield; and five closes in Little Stainton Grange; another close called Shepeflatt, Gallowhill-leazes, and fourteen acres in the Oxclose, and fourteen acres in the waste of Little Stainton, not enclosed, all parcel of the manor of Bishopton. By will, dated 12 Sept. 1615, he devised to his brother Humfrey Elstob; with remainder, failing his issue, as to his lands in Bishopton, to his base son Ralph Elstob, alias Martindale; and as to his lands in Stainton, to his base son John Elstob, &c. John Elstob, of Foxton, Gent. the elder brother of Ralph and Humphrey, released all right to his brother and base nephews 4 May 1616.
  • 5.
  • 6. Mary, wife of Ralph Welfoote, daughter and heir of John Humphrey, aged 40, 1641.
  • 7. Livery to Mary and Thomasine, daughters of William Leadom, 1623.
  • 8. Livery to William, son of Thomas Aire, 9 Sept. 1624.
  • 9. 24 April, 5 Car. John Jackson died seised of a messuage, nine acres of arable, ten of meadow, and ten of pasture, late parcel of the Priory of St. John of Jerusalem, bought of the Queen 7 July, 5 Eliz. by Stephen Holford and John Jenkins; and of forty-three acres in Bishopton, by lease from Sir George Conyers for 2000 years; Thomas, brother and heir, aged 13, 1628.
  • 10.
  • 11. See Pedigree, under Layton.
  • 12. Livery to John, son of Richard Cusson, 1633.
  • 13. Giles Widdowes admitted to fine for acquiring a messuage and oxgang in East Newbiggin, of John Seamer, 3 Feb. 2 Jac.
  • 14. Livery to Elizabeth, widow of Richard Beckfield, æt. 22; Jane, æt. 15; and Dorothy, aged 12, daughters and coheirs of Thomas Moorie, of East Newbiggin, 30 Sept. 1622.
  • 15. These lands, which include the Castle-hill, are now the estate of Morton John Davison, of Beamish, Esq.
  • 16. The family of Tatham held considerable property here for some descents. Their lands were purchased by John Tempest, Esq. and now belong to Lady Vane Stewart. Robert Tatham, of Little Stainton, bur. 11 Oct. 1674. Mr. Robert Tatum, 7 March 1681. Laurence, son of Robert, bapt. 19 Apr. 1681. Mr. Laurence Tatham, bur 23 Nov. 1759.
  • 17. Pedigree of Smith, vol. I. p. 187.
  • 18. Descendants of the ancient Hutchinsons, of Cornforth. See p. 16.
  • 19. Return under Act of 26 Geo. III.