Richmondshire: Introduction

A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.

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, 'Richmondshire: Introduction', in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, (London, 1914) pp. 17. British History Online [accessed 27 May 2024].

. "Richmondshire: Introduction", in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, (London, 1914) 17. British History Online, accessed May 27, 2024,

. "Richmondshire: Introduction", A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, (London, 1914). 17. British History Online. Web. 27 May 2024,


containing the following borough and wapentakes: Borough Of Richmond; Gilling West; Gilling East; Hang West; Hang East; Hallikeld

The name of Richmondshire has not yet been discovered earlier than 1173, (fn. 1) and there is no evidence that there was ever a sheriff of the shire. The descent of the lordship of Richmondshire followed that of the honour of Richmond (q.v.). This district is not entered under wapentakes in the Domesday Survey, but, as there is there a reference to Hallikeld Wapentake, it may be inferred that these divisions existed in 1086, and, indeed, probably at an earlier date. The earliest reference yet discovered to the wapentakes of Gilling and Hang occurs in 1165–6. The three wapentakes continued undivided till 1275–6, (fn. 2) between which date and 1286–7 Gilling and Hang were each divided into two, thus forming Gilling West and Gilling East and Hang West and Hang East respectively. (fn. 3) These appear to have been claimed as part of the honour of Richmond in the 12th century, (fn. 4) and were held as such by the Earl of Chester in the reign of John. In 1229, however, it was decided that they had always belonged to the kings of England, and the sheriff was ordered to take them into the hands of the Crown. (fn. 5) In the following year the custody was given to Ranulf son of Henry (fn. 6) during pleasure. (fn. 7) In 1231 it was granted to Roger de Stapleton, (fn. 8) and in 1232 to the Earl of Britanny for one year. (fn. 9) The wapentakes evidently remained with him and his successors, for in 1275–6 they were said to be still held by the Earl of Britanny during pleasure, though his title was not known, (fn. 10) and in 1316 they were again returned as in the Liberty of Richmond. (fn. 11) John of Britanny, Earl of Richmond, who died unmarried in 1334, (fn. 12) held them for life by grant of the king, and in 1337 Edward III regranted them to his successor. (fn. 13) In the following year the king gave the reversion to Thomas de Rokeby in reward for his services in Scotland, (fn. 14) but the grant was found to be void owing to the fact that after the death of the Earl of Richmond an order had been issued for all wapentakes and hundreds to be rejoined to their respective counties. (fn. 15) In 1356 they were granted to John of Gaunt Earl of Richmond, (fn. 16) and he as Duke of Lancaster (fn. 17) leased them to John Marmion for ten years in 1383. (fn. 18) The Duke of Lancaster died in 1399, (fn. 19) and Richard II granted them to Ralph Nevill Earl of Westmorland and his wife Joan, the legitimate daughter of the Duke of Lancaster, for their lives, (fn. 20) with reversion to John Duke of Bedford, (fn. 21) who died childless in 1435. (fn. 22) In 1449 the grant was renewed to their son Richard Nevill Earl of Salisbury and his heirs male, (fn. 23) and from this time the descent of the five wapentakes followed that of Middleham Manor. (fn. 24)

From the 15th to the 18th century the wapentake courts are called 'Friendless' (Frendles, Friendley). These wapentakes were in 1183–4 all divided into temanetale, i.e., computations of ten men, and at that time there were 25½ temanetale in 'Gillingshire' and 2½ carucates of land over, the two wapentakes being composed of 398½ carucates of land 'besides Malton which contains 9 carucates.' (fn. 25)


  • 1. There were itinerant justices in Richmondshire in 1173 or 1174 (Chron. of the Reigns of Hen. II and Ric. I [Rolls Ser.], i, 108). Gervase of Canterbury in the 12th century divided England into thirty-four counties, of which Richmondshire was the last (Hist. Works [Rolls Ser.], ii, 417). In 1252 the bailiffs of Peter of Savoy claimed privileges for Richmondshire which would have made it in effect an independent county (Yorks. Inq. [Yorks. Arch. Soc.], i, 34).
  • 2. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 118, 122.
  • 3. Kirkby's Quest (Surt. Soc.), 148–86.
  • 4. Gale, op. cit. 21.
  • 5. Cal. Close, 1227–31, p. 158.
  • 6. Ancestor of the Fitz Hughs. See Kirkby Ravensworth.
  • 7. Cal. Pat. 1225–32, p. 348.
  • 8. Ibid. p. 451.
  • 9. Ibid. p. 501.
  • 10. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 118, 122, 133.
  • 11. Kirkby's Quest (Surt. Soc. xlix), 333–9.
  • 12. See above.
  • 13. Rot. Orig. Mich. 11 Edw. III, m. 4; Cal. Close, 1337–9, p. 553.
  • 14. Cal. Pat. 1338–40, p. 61. See Rokeby.
  • 15. Ibid. 1340–3, p. 576.
  • 16. Pat. 30 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 13.
  • 17. G.E.C. Peerage, vi, 354.
  • 18. Duchy of Lanc. Misc. Bks. xiv, 107.
  • 19. G.E.C. Peerage, v, 8.
  • 20. Ibid. viii, 111; Chan. Inq. p.m. 19 Hen. VI, no. 42.
  • 21. Gale, op. cit. App. 207.
  • 22. G.E.C. Peerage, i, 295.
  • 23. Pat. 27 Hen. VI, pt. iii, m. 5.
  • 24. Feet of F. Yorks. East. 17 Edw. IV, no. 32; Close, 20 Edw. IV, m. 4; Pat. 4 Chas. I, pt. xxxiii, B, m. 36; Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 3 Geo. I; Yorks. Hil. 13 Geo. I.
  • 25. Gale, op. cit. 24.