Parishes: Wath

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

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, 'Parishes: Wath', in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, (London, 1914) pp. 390-396. British History Online [accessed 25 May 2024].

. "Parishes: Wath", in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, (London, 1914) 390-396. British History Online, accessed May 25, 2024,

. "Parishes: Wath", A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, (London, 1914). 390-396. British History Online. Web. 25 May 2024,

In this section


Wat (xi cent.); Waz (xiii cent.).

In 1831 the parish of Wath comprised the township of Wath and the chapelries of Melmerby, Middleton Quernhow and Norton Conyers, the last of which was in Allerton Wapentake. The ecclesiastical parish now includes the four abovenamed civil parishes, the area of the whole being nearly 3,711 acres, of which 1,275 are arable land, 1,246 permanent grass and 115 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is sandy on a subsoil of either Keuper Marl or Magnesian Limestone, except for some alluvium in the valley of the River Ure, which runs through Norton Conyers. The parish lies for the most part about 125 ft. above ordnance datum, rising in places to 150 ft. and sinking in the valley of the Ure to 100 ft. The inhabitants are mainly engaged in agriculture, the chief crops being wheat, barley and turnips.

Two branches of the North Eastern railway unite with the main line at Melmerby Junction station.

The Roman road here known as Leeming Lane forms the eastern boundary of the parish. South-east from it Coldstone Lane runs through the village of Wath on its way to Ripon. The eastern end of the High Street is almost blocked by the graveyard round the church of St. Mary. The rectory is across the road. The latter is a 16th-century house, originally of an E-shaped plan with a hall in the middle and two rooms in each wing. (fn. 2) In modern times the space between the two wings has been filled in as a hall; the old hall now serves as a drawing room and the south wing has been rebuilt and enlarged, including the wall which contained the hall and kitchen fireplaces. The walls of the north wing are original. New windows have been inserted throughout and doorways altered. Some painted wall decoration of about 1600 has been found in this wing. Outside the walls are rough-cast.

The village of Wath consists mostly of modern brick cottages, but on the south side of the street is the school with a massive 17th-century chimney stack. A Latin inscription on the front records that 'hoc Gymnasium' was built by Peter Samwaies, S.T.P., rector of Wath, in 1684. To the south of the main street, which is planted with lime trees, are the Wath Almshouses, two mean cottages, rebuilt in 1854. From Wath the road south crosses Norton Beck by Norton Bridge, passes an ancient well and skirts the park and woods of Norton Conyers, the seat of Sir Reginald Graham, bart., D.L., J.P.

The house stands in an extensive park a short distance to the south-west of Wath village and some 3½ miles north-east of Ripon. The original building is L-shaped in plan, the main front being towards the south-west. Considerable alterations were made in the 18th century, when most of the existing windows were inserted and a wing added at the back, making the plan a quadrangle, open on the north side. The original building dates from the middle of the 16th century, and was probably built by the last of the Nortons. The main front is finished with four shaped gables, combining the ogee, hollow and pedimental forms, and having stone balls at the bases. The great hall occupies the centre, and is entered by a stone porch of slight projection, dating from the time of Charles II. This feature is rusticated and flanked by coupled Corinthian columns supporting enriched entablatures and a low pediment. Above the doorway is a large coat of arms—quarterly of six, (1) and (5) Or on a chief sable three escallops of the field a crescent for difference, for Graham of Norton Conyers; (2) and (4) Or a fesse checky argent and azure; in chief a cheveron gules, for Stewart; (3) Azure a bend engrailed argent, plain cotised or for Fortescue; (6) A bend cotised; over all an escutcheon of Ulster. These, though curiously marshalled, are apparently the arms of Sir Richard Graham, first baronet. The hall rises to the roof, but at either end the house is of two stories. The two bays, with all the windows, are modern, with the exception of the large opening lighting the hall; but even here the mullions and transoms are not original. The north front is similar in character, having also four shaped gables and a large chimney stack. The windows all date from the 18th century, the rain-water heads having the date 1773 and the initials B.G. (Sir Bellingham Graham, fifth baronet). The rear of the house fronting on to the courtyard retains several original Elizabethan windows, one lighting the staircase being double transomed and of four lights. The interior arrangements were considerably altered in the 18th century. The hall has lost its screens and has a coved plaster ceiling; the overmantel to the fireplace is, however, of Jacobean character with fluted Ionic pilasters dividing enriched arcaded panels. The fireplace itself is a good example of early 18th-century work. The hall contains numerous family portraits and a fine inlaid Jacobean table. Opening from the north-east side is the great staircase, contemporary with the house. It is very wide and the massive square newels are capped with balls; the moulded handrail rests on early turned balusters on either side of the stair, which has a central well. The 'King's room' on the first floor retains its original mullioned window and a remarkably handsome Jacobean bedstead. The back is panelled and richly inlaid, and the canopy, supported on turned and carved posts, is coffered on the soffit. The room also contains a painting of James I, his queen and Prince Henry. Flanking the hall at the back of the house is the servants' hall, largely in its original state, and under the rear portions of the building are a series of brick vaults. The house is built of rubble and brick, but the exterior is now rough-cast. The old stables to the south-east of the house appear to date from about 1680, and include a gabled building surmounted by a picturesque timber clock tower and cupola containing a bell. (fn. 3) To the north of the house are the later stables, forming a quadrangular block of the 18th century, and further north again is a large walled garden entered by a wrought-iron gateway of excellent design, with the initials M.G. and a knocker. The orangery is an 18th-century building with five keyed and glazed arches to the front. In the grounds are several lead statues, including the well-known kneeling slave. The rusticated piers of the southern entrance to the park bear an eagle and a lion supporting shields, and were brought here from Nunnington. The arms, Graham and Stewart quarterly impaling Howard, are those of Richard Graham first Viscount Preston (died 1695).

West of Norton Conyers the ground slopes gently to the River Ure, here bordered with marshlike ground and forked with back-waters, near which are Norton Mills, probably successors of the two mills on the Ure appurtenant to the manor of Norton Conyers in the 16th century. (fn. 4)

Melmerby is a fair-sized village a mile east of Wath. The houses are mainly of 18th-century date, and the numerous brick pigeon-houses, of which there are some half a dozen, add to its attractive appearance. The Wesleyan chapel here was erected in 1826. Melmerby Hall, the seat of Capt. R. S. Pearson, at the west end of the village, is quite modern, but at the opposite end is a farm-house of early 17th-century date. The gable ends, with balls to the base stones, remain, and the north gable retains its stone mullioned windows. The back has also original windows, but the front is rough-cast 18thcentury work. The stables at the rear form a picturesque group, with open stone arches to the front and a brick pigeon-house on the third floor.

To the north of Melmerby is the hamlet of Middleton Quernhow, which is built round a small green a mile north-east of Wath. The old hall was habitable within living memory, but is now a roofless and picturesque ruin. In front is a walled garden, with brick gate piers having enriched cappings in stone. The house itself fronts east, and consists of a central block with two slightly projecting side wings dating from c. 1640. The central portion included the great hall with a large larder behind it, the kitchen occupied the north wing and the private apartments were confined to the south wing. The whole building was two stories high with attics in the roof. The front wall of the hall block has entirely fallen, but in the rear wall are two large fireplaces, one to each floor, and a door opening into the larder behind. The fronts of the two wings are gabled and stand intact. The windows to the ground floor are of three lights mullioned and transomed, with architrave, frieze and pediment over. The first floor windows are similar, but with curved, cleft pediments, while those in the gables are of two lights without transoms and have simple moulded labels. The kitchen in the north wing is much ruined, but projecting from the north wall is a domed oven built in ashlar. The south wing is more complete, and the south front is finished with a moulded cornice at the eaves level. Against the same wall is a large chimney stack, with four offsets and a chamfered plinth. Adjoining the west end on this side was another wing, now completely destroyed, and at the south-west angle of the existing building is the jamb of a doorway, seemingly of much earlier date than the rest of the structure, with a moulded label returned on itself at the spring in diamond form. The windows of the back elevation are all of oak, with massive lintels of the same material; those to the ground floor are of four simple lights, but the windows above are transomed. The stone windows to the east front are unusual in having square mullions with panelled faces. The house is built of rubble with dressed quoins, but the barns and outbuildings, which are of early 18th-century date, are built of red brick.

Among the place-names found in connexion with the parish are Cokeshotte Closes, Nostinges, Old Yorke Fote and Hallikelds.


Before the Conquest a 'manor' and 6 carucates in WATH were held by Archil and Roschil, but in 1086 they were part of the demesne of Count Alan, (fn. 5) and the overlordship remained with his successors. (fn. 6) The whole of Wath and the church were granted before 1156 to the abbey of Mont St. Michel. (fn. 7) In spite of this it seems clear that Alan, the fourth lord of Richmond, who died in 1146, (fn. 8) granted it to Brian, lord of Bedale (q.v.), whose successors retained a mesne lordship here, and that Brian or his son (fn. 9) enfeoffed of it one of the ancestors of the Marmions, (fn. 10) probably Gernegan son of Hugh, against whom the monks of Mont St. Michel brought a plea concerning land in Wath in 1176–7. (fn. 11) Brian's elder brother, Conan Earl of Richmond, had confirmed his predecessor's grant to the abbey, (fn. 12) but the dispute was carried on for more than sixty years. In 1239 the matter was carried to the Papal Court. It was then stated on behalf of the abbot and convent that the grant of the manor by the late Earl of Richmond had been confirmed by successive Kings of England, and that they had always had two monks on the manor, but that Sir Robert Marmion, kt., claimed it in right of his wife Avis daughter of Gernegan. (fn. 13) The predecessor of the then abbot had been summoned before the king's court, and Robert Marmion 'offered to prove by duel that the manor was his, which challenge, although he had other defence, the late abbot indiscreetly accepted. The combatants fought in a place appointed by the king, the knight bringing a multitude of armed men, and the knight's champion was more than once brought to the ground, on which the knight's party interfered to rescue him, and threatened death to the abbot and his champion, so that the abbot, fearing that death would ensue, came to the spot and renounced his right, which renunciation the knight would not admit save by way of peace and payment of a sum of money.' The abbot and convent prayed that the renunciation, made without the consent of the convent, might be annulled, and the pope summoned the parties before him. (fn. 14) The Marmions were apparently the successful claimants. From at least 1243, when Avis Marmion obtained a grant of free warren in her demesne lands here, (fn. 15) the manor followed the descent of West Tanfield (q.v.) until the latter part of the 19th century, when it was purchased from the trustees of the third Marquess of Ailesbury by the family of Newsome of Dewsbury, who are now in possession. (fn. 16)

At MELMERBY (Malmerbi, xi cent.; Melmorby, xiii cent.) a 'manor' and 6 carucates formerly held by Archil and Tor belonged in 1086 (fn. 17) to Count Alan, and became parcel of the honour of Richmond. (fn. 18) In 1286–7 2 carucates formed part of the fee of Roald the Constable, (fn. 19) and Avis Marmion, lady of West Tanfield (q.v.), who had obtained a grant of free warren in her demesne lands there in 1243, held the mesne lordship of the remaining 4. (fn. 20) The Marmions, succeeded by the Fitz Hughs, retained rights in Melmerby at least until the middle of the 15th century. (fn. 21)

Before the end of the 13th century the Abbot of Fountains held Melmerby under both fees. (fn. 22) About 1270 the first Avis Marmion released to the abbey of Fountains all her claim in 4 carucates of land in this vill which they were then holding of her fee, with the reservation to herself and her heirs of suit of court at Thornbrough and all other foreign services. (fn. 23) Melmerby remained with the abbey until the Dissolution.

In 1544 the king granted 'the manor of Melmerby' to Richard Norton, (fn. 24) who forfeited his lands for his part in the rebellion of the earls in 1569. (fn. 25)

In 1591 various tenements, which probably formed the greater part of the manor, were granted to Henry Best and John Wells. (fn. 26) Henry Best died seised of the manor in 1630, and was succeeded by his son Thomas. (fn. 27) Thomas gave the manor and grange of Middleton Quernhow to his son George Best, who, however, died in 1639, before his father, leaving a son Henry, then aged two and a half, (fn. 28) who was eventually seised of the manor. (fn. 29) Henry died in 1673, and was succeeded first by his son Henry, who died unmarried, and afterwards by his daughter Katherine, who married Edward Goddard. (fn. 30) Her son Edward was in possession of the manor in 1709, (fn. 31) but conveyed it five years later to Sir Reginald Graham, bart., of Norton Conyers (fn. 32) (q.v.), whose descendants continued to hold it. (fn. 32a) Sir Bellingham Reginald Graham, bart., held the manor in 1810, (fn. 33) and his son Sir Reginald Henry Graham, bart., D.L., J.P., is now among the chief landowners. (fn. 34)

The 'manor' and 5 carucates at MIDDLETON QUERNHOW (Middeltun, xi cent.; MiddletonWhernehow, Middleton-in-the-Mire, xv cent.) once held by Tor had passed by 1086 to Count Alan. (fn. 35) The overlordship followed the descent of the honour of Richmond. (fn. 36) Enisan was tenant under the count. (fn. 37)

Like the other estates of Enisan, this land was afterwards held by the Constables, but there is some difficulty in the statement made by the return of 1286–7 that they held under the Abbot of Jervaulx. (fn. 38) Robert son of Harsculph [de Cleasby], who was a tenant of the Constables in Cleasby (q.v.) and elsewhere, granted the homage and service of Ranulph son of William de Middleton to the abbot before 1228, (fn. 39) but nothing further is known of this mesne lordship.

Ranulph son of William de Middleton was dead by 1286–7, when his heirs were in possession. (fn. 40) William de Middleton, tenant in the time of Edward I, was dead by 1306. (fn. 41) This William was succeeded by a son Ranulph and a grandson Roger, but neither of these was in possession of Middleton Quernhow, as William had conveyed it to William de Meynell. The latter was succeeded by a son Thomas, lord in 1316 and living in 1328. (fn. 42) His son James Meynell was sued in 1348 by Roger Middleton, who claimed that the grant to William de Meynell had been for a term of years, and not in fee as James maintained. (fn. 43) The result of the suit is not known, but no further mention of either family has been found in connexion with Middleton Quernhow. In 1393 (fn. 44) Richard le Scrope of Bolton, successor of the Constables, was in possession of rent from the manor, which was certainly in the hands of his descendants in the early 15th century. (fn. 45) It followed the descent of Castle Bolton (q.v.), and was inherited by Emmanuel Lord Scrope of Bolton on his father's death in 1609. (fn. 46) Lord Scrope probably sold it to Henry Best, who died in possession of this manor in 1630. (fn. 47) His great-grandson (fn. 48) Henry Best sold it in 1661 (fn. 49) to Sir Thomas Herbert, bart., who died in 1682. (fn. 50) His son Sir Henry Herbert lived here, and was buried at Wath in 1687, when he was succeeded by his son Sir Humphrey. (fn. 51) Thomas son of Humphrey succeeded to the baronetcy and estates in 1701, but dissipated his property, and must have disposed of Middleton Quernhow before 1706, when it was in the possession of Cholmley Turner (fn. 52) of Kirkleatham (q.v.). He was still lord of the manor in 1745. (fn. 52a) In 1823 it was in the possession of Henry Herles. (fn. 53) The present lord of the manor is Mr. William Moore Wood of Crosby Lodge, Carlisle.

The grange of Middleton Quernhow, which was held by the abbey of Jervaulx at the Dissolution, was leased to Robert Best and Thomas Hoppes in 1555 for twenty-one years, and the reversion of it to James and Thomas Fox and their heirs in 1558. (fn. 54) The family of Best continued in Middleton Quernhow, (fn. 55) and eventually acquired the manor and the grange. Henry Best was seised of both at his death in 1630, (fn. 55a) and this land probably followed the descent of the manor.

In 1086 the soke of 6 carucates in NORTON CONYERS (Nortone, Norton, xi cent.; Norton Coignyers, xiv cent.) belonged to the Bishop of Durham, (fn. 56) with whose successors the overlordship remained (fn. 57); Robert was the tenant. The family of Conyers was enfeoffed of land in Norton Conyers and elsewhere between 1099 and 1133. (fn. 58) On the division of their estates in 1196 Norton became the property of the elder branch of the Conyers family (fn. 59) and followed the descent of Hutton Conyers (fn. 60) (q.v.) down to the late 14th century. (fn. 61)

Robert Conyers dealt with a wood in Norton in 1246, (fn. 62) and a Robert Conyers was in possession of the vill in 1284–5. (fn. 63) In 1333 Sir Robert Conyers, kt., made a settlement (fn. 64) of the manor of Norton Conyers on his grandson Robert (the son of Thomas Conyers) and his wife Joan daughter of Henry Melton. This last Sir Robert is said to have had an only daughter Joan, (fn. 65) but may have been by another wife the father of William de Norton Conyers. (fn. 66) On his death, however, the manor passed to his daughter Joan under her mother's marriage settlement, and she and her husband Sir Christopher Mallory, kt., sold it in 1355 to John de Carlton, (fn. 67) who with his wife Alice granted it in 1375 to Sir Richard le Scrope, kt., and his heirs, in return for an annual rent of £10 during their lives and an esquire's robe during the life of John. (fn. 68) Sir Richard le Scrope probably sold the manor to Sir Richard Norton, kt., chief justice of the Common Pleas, possibly the grandson of Sir Robert Conyers; he seems to have been in possession of Norton Conyers by 1398. (fn. 69) A Sir John Norton, kt., was seised of the manor at his death in 1489, and left a son and heir Sir John Norton, kt. (fn. 70) He died in 1520 and was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 71) who died in 1557, leaving as his heir the unfortunate Richard Norton, then aged sixty, (fn. 72) who took part in the rebellion against Queen Elizabeth in 1569 and was attainted. (fn. 73) A letter from Thomas Earl of Sussex to Sir William Cecil suggests that Norton Conyers was granted to the former in 1570. He did not enter upon it, however, as Sir George Carey asked that the grant might be stayed until he came, (fn. 74) and in 1574 the lordship, manor, park, and manor-house of Norton Conyers were granted to Sir Simon Musgrave, (fn. 75) who settled the manor on his son Sir Richard Musgrave in 1589. (fn. 76) The latter died in 1617 and was succeeded by his son and heir Sir Thomas Musgrave, (fn. 77) who in 1624 sold the manor with 'all messuages, granges, mills, lands, tenements, tithes, waters, warrens, leet lawdays, views of frankpledge' and other liberties to Richard Graham of Netherby, first baronet. (fn. 78) Chichester Graham, the grandson of Sir Richard, was dealing with the manor in 1684, (fn. 79) but he died without heirs during the lifetime of his father Sir Richard Graham, the second son of the above Sir Richard, who was also created a baronet.

In 1699 Sir Richard Graham held the manor with his third son Reginald, (fn. 80) who succeeded to the baronetcy in 1711, and since that time the manor has followed the descent of the family until the present day. (fn. 81) It is now held by Sir Reginald Henry Graham, bart., D.L., J.P.


The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 41 ft. 6 in. by 20 ft., north vestry 17 ft. 1 in. by 10 ft. 1 in., north chapel (or organ chamber) 21 ft. 5 in. by 9 ft. 7 in., nave 53 ft. 2 in. by 21 ft., south transept 24 ft. 10 in. deep by 20 ft. 4 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 9 ft. 3 in. square. These measurements are all internal.

The nave doubtless dates from the 12th century, when the church had merely a nave and small apsidal chancel, the foundations of which were uncovered in 1872. The chancel was rebuilt near the end of the 13th century, when it was increased in width as well as length. There is nothing to show whether there was a tower at this time. The extension of the chancel was followed immediately by the addition of the south transept, but no further structural additions were made till the 15th century, when the northeast vestry with its room over was built. In 1629 the chancel and nave roofs were lowered and the chancel and transept arches were removed. (fn. 82) On a beam of the former chancel roof was the date 1629. The tower was added in 1812. At the restoration of the church in 1873 a small 12th-century south doorway to the nave further east than the present one was found, but when the whitewash was removed the doorway was too shattered to be repaired, the east jamb having all gone, only the abacus of the capital remaining. At the same time a modern window was substituted for the five-light south window of the transept, which had been deprived of its tracery. An early English lancet could be traced at the west end of the north wall. The west window in the north wall of the chancel, which was removed, was long and transomed, and many ancient crosses, &c., were discovered on the walling. The north organ chamber was also added, the chancel arch and transept arch were rebuilt, many windows and the south doorway renewed and other work done.

Plan of Wath Church

The east window of the chancel is of modern stonework; it has three trefoiled lights under a traceried head. Below the ledge on either side of the window is a square aumbry. The three south windows are all alike except that the western has a transom with a low-side window below it; each is of two uncusped lights with pierced heads and spandrels, and some of the external labels have mask stops. The first window is entirely renewed. The piscina below this window is a double one with a middle shaft, the only old parts being the outer jambs and the outer halves of the arches; it has two drains, both modern. The three sedilia to the west of it are coeval with the chancel and have plain pointed heads of a single chamfered order like the piscina. Next to them is a priest's doorway, apparently original; it has a plain pointed head and is of two chamfered orders. In the north wall is a doorway of a single chamfered order giving access to the vestry. Its inner lintel is formed of a 14th-century gravestone on which is incised a floreated cross. East of this doorway a small rectangular light looks on to the altar from the lower room. A modern arcade of two bays with twin shafts divides the chancel from the organ chamber. The chancel arch is a modern pointed one with semioctagonal responds of 14th-century style.

The vestry is lighted by a square-headed east window of two plain lights, in which remain the iron books and staples of former shutters, and has a modern fireplace in the north wall. A stair turret in the northwest corner gave access to the upper chamber; the intervening floor has been removed, but two of the corbels on the south side still remain in position. The room was lighted by a plain rectangular window in its east wall and a narrow loop on the west; the latter is seen from the organ chamber, but its inner face has been closed up. There is a doorway from the vestry into the organ chamber, which is lighted by two twolight square-headed north windows and has a doorway in its west wall.

The north wall of the nave is pierced by three windows of two cinquefoiled lights with traceried heads of 15th-century character. The first is partly renewed and the other two entirely modern. A modern archway opens into the transept south-east of the nave. The south doorway of the nave is also modern. To the west of it is a window similar to those opposite, but all old except the mullion.

The transept has a two-light east window with modern tracery in 14th-century jambs, and one of three lights on the south entirely modern; the west window is an old one of two plain lights similar to those in the chancel. In the east wall is a large arched recess with a shelf rebated for a wooden frame; it is below and to the north of the window and bears the marks of the hinge hooks which carried its doors. In the south wall is a large trefoiled piscina (fn. 83) with a shelf, and under the south window a fine but mutilated tomb recess of the date of the transept; it has a two-centred drop arch irregularly cinquefoiled, the cusps having roll points turned inward. Over the arch was a gabled head inclosing a traceried spandrel; the upper part of this gable has been cut away by the sill of the modern window. The base was covered by a slab with a filleted edgeroll upon which is a slab of less length with an incised foliated calvary cross and a sword by the side of it. A small modern archway opens from the nave into the tower, which is of four stages. The lowest stage has two round-headed lights in its west wall. Tiny loops with pointed heads light the second and third stages, and the bell-chamber walls are pierced by windows of two plain pointed lights. The parapet is embattled and has corner pinnacles.

The roofs are all modern and gabled.

The font is a modern square one on a round stem. The older font stem, apparently of no great antiquity, stands in the churchyard south of the transept; it is square in plan with much-perished moulds about the top and middle and a chamfered base. It stands on two octagonal steps or stone platforms and is covered by a modern octagonal bowl. The other furniture is also modern.

Among the stones which were found at the restoration are several of Saxon origin; one has the hart and hound, and there are parts of two cross heads. There are also two 14th-century foliated cross heads (parts of coffin lids). These stones are now set in various places in the vestry and organ chamber.

In the vestry also is a remarkably fine and elaborately carved chest, Flemish work of the 14th century. (fn. 83a) The carving is all on the front; it is divided into bays with five traceried and crocketed gablets flanked or divided by narrow traceried panels and enriched by birds and animals between them. At each end are two square panels one above the other with strange beasts and figures, apparently taken from the mediaeval bestiaries. Along the bottom is a foliated band with two winged dragons face to face upon it. The chest is 5 ft. 3 in. long by 1 ft. 11 in. high. The ends are plain and the lid is modern.

The old monuments are all placed in the south transept known as the Norton chapel, under which several of the Graham family are buried. On its east wall is the brass figure of a knight in armour, c. 1450; his head rests on a mantled helmet with the crest of an armed head, and the feet on a lion. On the south wall are two brass figures of a man in judicial robes and a woman, with an almost obliterated inscription plate to Richard Norton, chief justice of the Common Pleas, and Katherine his wife. On the west wall are three much-corroded shields, one with a manche and another with the same impaling an indistinct coat; there are also three of the four evangelistic symbols, St. Matthew, St. Luke and St. Mark, in quatrefoils. On the east wall is a tablet with a brass inscription to Richard Graham, 1680, son of Sir Richard Graham, as well as a tablet to Stephen Fenton, rector, died 1706, and an unnamed plate with a 17th-century inscription. On the east wall is a large 17th-century mural monument of alabaster and grey marble to Catherine Lady Graham, wife of Sir Richard, who died in 1649. On it are their kneeling effigies in white marble with their two sons and four daughters below; the inscription was renewed in 1783. There is also a large marble monument to the wife of Sir Bellingham, fifth baronet, and another to Sir Richard, fourth baronet, who died in 1755. On the west wall is a marble monument by Flaxman to Thomas Brand, a former rector, 1814.

A fragment of 14th-century glass is set in the south window of the transept, a small rood surrounded by quarries ornamented with oak leaves and acorns. In the west window is a small shield in which are the arms, Fitz Hugh quartered with Marmion impaling Nevill quartered with Montagu and Monthermer. This is the shield of Sir Henry Fitz Hugh, who succeeded to the estate of Wath in 1452 and died in 1472. In one of the south windows of the chancel is a little 14th-century leaf-pattern glass.

There are six bells: the treble and tenor by Shaw & Co., Bradford, 1901; the second and third by Warners, 1873; the fourth and fifth dated 1776.

The plate includes a cup of 1623 by James Plummer of York, with the cover paten of an older cup bearing the London marks for 1571, also a cup and cover paten with the London mark of 1659 and maker's mark P.B. An inscription states that it was given by the Earl of Elgin in 1659. There is also a salver with foot probably by William Busfield of York. It is engraved with the arms of the Graham family and inscribed 'the gift of Mr. Reginald Graham to the church of Wath 1703.'

The registers begin in 1571.


Before 1156 the church of Wath was granted by one of the Earls of Richmond to the Abbot and convent of Mont St. Michel. (fn. 84) Brian son of Alan also held rights in it, for the advowson was afterwards held of his descendants by the Marmions. (fn. 85) In 1184, during the dispute between the abbey of Mont St. Michel and Gernegan son of Hugh and his heirs concerning the manor, the church was granted by Robert the abbot and the convent to Walter the Clerk of Pickhill. (fn. 86) In 1196 William de Chimelle, Archdeacon of Richmond, acknowledged the monks as patrons of the church. (fn. 87) The abbey was presumably obliged to give up the church with the manor to the Marmions in the 13th century, (fn. 88) and from that time the history of the two is identical. The living is a rectory in the gift of the Misses Newsome, having been bought by Mr. Newsome from the third Marquess of Ailesbury in 1886. (fn. 89)

The chantry of St. John the Baptist was founded in the parish church by John de Appleby in 1327. (fn. 90) In 1546 Christopher Best was the incumbent and there were four other chantry priests in the parish, besides a priest found by the parson of the church, to minister sacraments, there being altogether two hundred and sixty howseling people. The lands in the parish which belonged to the chantry of St. John the Baptist were granted to Percival Bowes and John Moyser and their heirs in 1568. (fn. 91)

A chapel existed at Norton Conyers in the 15th century; in this Richard Norton founded the chantry of St. Cuthbert in 1421. (fn. 92) In 1572, after the attainder of the later Richard Norton, a 'chantry in Norton Conyers,' presumably St. Cuthbert's, was leased with a cottage called Chantry House to John Norton. (fn. 93) Two years later the reversion of this chantry and cottage was granted with the manor of Norton Conyers to Sir Simon Musgrave, (fn. 94) and they were settled by him on his son Richard in 1589. (fn. 95)

There was a chapel of St. Lawrence at Middleton Quernhow in 1328, when Richard Barningham had licence to found a chantry there, granting land for the purpose to the monastery of Jervaulx. (fn. 96) The incumbent in 1546 was Robert Wilson or Wilkinson. At the latter date there was also a chapel in Melmerby and a chantry of St. Lawrence, founded 1505. (fn. 97)


The free school was founded by Peter Samwaies, D.D., in 1690. (fn. 98)

The Almshouse.—The same Dr. Samwaies, prebendary of York and rector of Wath and Bedale, by his will proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Richmond 11 May 1693 (now deposited at the Principal Probate Registry, Somerset House), among other things, directed a hospital and almshouse to be erected at Wath and another at Bedale, the residue of his estate to be employed towards the maintenance of both hospitals.

The almshouse is occupied by two poor persons who receive the rents of two cottages; also the dividends on £103 6s. consols with the official trustees, representing a legacy by will of William Squire, proved at York 6 May 1829.

Dr. Samwaies, likewise by his will, charged his estate at Middleton Quernhow with two sums of £10 a year each for the poor of Wath and Bedale, which are duly distributed among the poor of the respective parishes.

The Rev. Stephen Penton, who died in 1706, left his residuary estate, which was in 1719 laid out in the purchase of a house and 4 acres of land at Sharow, near Ripon, for providing medical or surgical attendance for the poor. The property was sold in 1862 and the proceeds invested in £900 consols with the official trustees. The dividends, amounting to £22 10s., are applied in providing medicine and medical comforts for the poor.

Unknown Donor.—A payment of 10s. a year was made on New Year's Day for the poor of the township of Melmerby in respect of certain cottages and orchards in the township.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. See paper in Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. xiii, 217.
  • 3. This structure is said to be part of the chapel of St. Cuthbert (see advowson).
  • 4. Pat. 15 Eliz. pt. ix, m. 15; 16 Eliz. pt. ix, m. 12; cf. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclxviii, 108.
  • 5. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 240.
  • 6. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 182; Chan. Inq. p.m. 33 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 38; 6 Hen. VI, no. 45.
  • 7. Cal. Doc. of France, 268–9, 275.
  • 8. See Richmond.
  • 9. See Bedale.
  • 10. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 182.
  • 11. Pipe R. 23 Hen. II (Pipe R. Soc.), 78.
  • 12. Cal. Doc. of France, 274; Dugdale, Mon. Angl. vii, 990.
  • 13. See West Tanfield.
  • 14. Cal. Papal Letters, i, 179.
  • 15. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, p. 276; cf. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 182.
  • 16. Inform. kindly supplied by Mr. Newsome.
  • 17. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 240.
  • 18. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Hen. VI, no. 45.
  • 19. See Constable Burton in Fingall parish.
  • 20. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 184; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 276.
  • 21. Feet of F. Yorks. 17 Edw. III, no. 20; Chan. Inq. p.m. 33 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 38; 6 Hen. VI, no. 45; 31 Hen. VI, no. 43.
  • 22. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 184.
  • 23. Exch. Plea R. 78, m. 44 (Mich. 27 Edw. III).
  • 24. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xix (1), p. 650.
  • 25. See Norton Conyers.
  • 26. Pat. 33 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 1.
  • 27. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dccxiii, 201.
  • 28. Ibid. dlxxxiv, 71.
  • 29. Recov. R. Trin. 1658, rot. 106; Mich. 14 Chas. II, rot. 24.
  • 30. Foster, Yorks. Pedigrees.
  • 31. Recov. R. Hil. 8 Anne, rot. 37.
  • 32. Feet of F. Yorks. Hil. 12 Anne.
  • 32a. Quart. Sess. Rec. (N. R. Rec. Soc.), viii, 218; Com, Pleas D. Enr. Hil. 29 Geo. II, m. 43.
  • 33. Recov. R. Mich. 51 Geo. III, rot. 241.
  • 34. Mr. Best is said to have been lord of the manor in 1823 (Whitaker, Richmondshire, ii, 192). The Witherwick woods and the farm adjoining belong to Sir Reginald Graham.
  • 35. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 240.
  • 36. See Richmond; Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 183; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccxx, 70.
  • 37. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 240.
  • 38. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 183.
  • 39. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. v, 576.
  • 40. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 183.
  • 41. De Banco R. Hil. 22 Edw. III, m. 231; 34 Edw. I, m. 283. The Matthew de Middleton who was the chief tenant here in 1301 (Yorks. Lay Subs. 1301 [Yorks. Arch. Soc.], 4) may have been an elder son of William who died without issue.
  • 42. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 338, where the name is given as Nevill; De Banco R. East. 2 Edw. III, m. 2 d.
  • 43. De Banco R. Hil. 22 Edw. III, m. 231.
  • 44. Cal. Pat. 1391–6, p. 271; 1396–9, p. 489.
  • 45. Yorks. D. (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), 66; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xiii, 116.
  • 46. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lxxxviii, 30; ccxxxviii, 95; cccxx, 70.
  • 47. Ibid. dccxiii, 201; Rural Economy in Yorks. (Surt. Soc.), 170.
  • 48. See Melmerby.
  • 49. Recov. R. East. 13 Chas. II, rot. 144; Feet of F. Yorks. Hil. 12 & 13 Chas. II.
  • 50. G.E.C. Baronetage, iii, 74.
  • 51. Ibid.
  • 52. Recov. R. Mich. 5 Anne, rot. 82.
  • 52a. Quart. Sess. Rec. (N. R. Rec. Soc.), viii, 250.
  • 53. Whitaker, Richmondshire, ii, 193; according to whom Sir Thomas Herles, the father of Henry, purchased the manor from Mr. Best.
  • 54. Pat. 4 & 5 Phil. and Mary, pt. x, m. 16.
  • 55. Foster, op. cit.; Rural Economy in Yorks. (Surt. Soc.), 170.
  • 55a. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dccxiii, 201.
  • 56. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 217.
  • 57. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 102; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xxxv, 17.
  • 58. See Sockburn. Pipe R. 8 Ric. I, m. 16 d.
  • 59. Pipe R. 8 Ric. I, m. 16 d.; MSS. of F. Bacon Frank, xxiii, K. 4, fol. 402; Yorks. Arch. Journ. xi, 179–80.
  • 60. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 395; Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 102, 340.
  • 61. When Hutton Conyers remained in the Mallory family. See below.
  • 62. Feet of F. Yorks. 30 Hen. III, no. 18.
  • 63. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 102.
  • 64. Feet of F. Yorks. 7 Edw. III, no. 20.
  • 65. Visit. of Yorks. (Harl. Soc. 16), 195.
  • 66. Feet of F. Yorks. 50 Edw. III, no. 36. Richard, son (?) of this William, was called Richard Norton, and ultimately acquired the manor of Norton Conyers. The fact that the arms were the same leads to the conclusion that the family of Norton was identical with that of Conyers. Richard is sometimes said, however, to be the son of Adam the son of Roger Conyers (Gen. [New Ser.], xvi, 180).
  • 67. Feet of F. Yorks. 29 Edw. III, no. 16.
  • 68. Ibid. 50 Edw. III, no. 36.
  • 69. Yorks. Chant. Surv. (Surt. Soc.), ii, 558, 560.
  • 70. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, 226.
  • 71. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xxxv, 17.
  • 72. Ibid. cix, 33.
  • 73. Cal. S. P. Dom. Add. 1566–79, p. 113.
  • 74. Ibid. 320.
  • 75. Pat. 16 Eliz. pt. ix, m. 12.
  • 76. Ibid. 31 Eliz. pt. vi, m. 5.
  • 77. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclxviii, 108.
  • 78. Close, 21 Jas. I, pt. xiv, no. 6; Cal. Com. for Comp. 1018; G.E.C. Baronetage, ii, 69. He married Catharine daughter of Thomas Musgrave, and the manor was probably her dowry.
  • 79. Recov. R. East. 36 Chas. II, rot. 131.
  • 80. Ibid. Trin. 11 Will. III, rot. 224.
  • 81. Ibid. East. 13 Anne, rot. 131; Trin. 8 Geo. II, rot. 158; Hil. 29 Geo. II, rot. 133; Mich. 51 Geo. III, rot. 241; for pedigree see G.E.C. Baronetage, iii, 262.
  • 82. Yorks. Archit. Soc. Rep. xiii, 75 (1875–6).
  • 83. Here was probably the altar of St. John the Baptist, at which John de Appleby founded a chantry in 1327 (see advowson).
  • 83a. Mons. Lefèvre-Pontalis, President of the Society of French Antiquaries, however, considers that it is English workmanship (H. B. McCall, Richmondshire Churches, 143).
  • 84. See Wath Manor.
  • 85. Chan. Inq. p.m. 15 Edw. II, no. 8.
  • 86. Cal. Doc. of France, 276.
  • 87. Ibid. 278.
  • 88. Cal. Inq. p.m. 1–19 Edw. I, 222.
  • 89. Inform. kindly supplied by Miss F. E. Newsome.
  • 90. Inq. a.q.d. file 195, no. 27; Yorks. Chant. Surv. (Surt. Soc.), ii, 504; i, 101 (the latter gives 1332 as the date of foundation); the wording of the chantry certificates for Wath parish is rather ambiguous.
  • 91. Pat. 10 Eliz. pt. ix, m. 25.
  • 92. Yorks. Chant. Surv. (Surt. Soc.), i, 102; ii, 560; Inq. a.q.d. file 447, no. 22.
  • 93. Pat. 15 Eliz. pt. ix, m. 15.
  • 94. Ibid. 16 Eliz. pt. ix, m. 12.
  • 95. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclxviii, 108.
  • 96. Cal. Pat. 1327–30, p. 318.
  • 97. Yorks. Chant. Surv. (Surt. Soc.), i, 103; ii, 505.
  • 98. V.C.H. Yorks. i, 487.