Parishes: Osbaldwick

Pages 164-167

A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.

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Osbaldeuuic, Osboldewic (xi cent.); Osbaldewyk (xii–xv cent.).

The parish of Osbaldwick, which includes the township of Murton, is still partly in the Liberty of St. Peter's, York, to which it formerly belonged. It is about 2 miles east of the city on the ancient road, from York to Market Weighton, which forms the southern boundary of the parish. On the west are the parishes of St. Cuthbert and St. Nicholas, both within the city boundaries. Osbaldwick has an area of 730 acres, of which rather more than half is laid down to grass. (fn. 1) The surface is rather flat, averaging a height of 50 ft. above ordnance datum. The soil is loam and clay, the subsoil chiefly alluvium. The chief crop is wheat, but a great part of the land is pasture. Osbaldwick Beck runs through both Osbaldwick and Murton, and joins the River Foss as Tang Hill Beck in the parish of St. Cuthbert.

An Inclosure Act for this parish was passed in 1769. (fn. 2)

The village of Osbaldwick stands to the north of the main road from York to Driffield and lies on both sides of a green with a road in the middle. A small stream crossed by two small brick bridges runs through the village. The cottages are picturesque but of no great age, none being earlier than the 18th century. St. Thomas's Church is separated by the beck from the Hall. In the churchyard is buried Mary Ward, foundress of the Institute of Mary, the first community of women under the Roman Church to be established in England after the Dissolution. She came to Yorkshire in 1642, and after a short stay at Hutton Rudby (q.v.) settled at Heworth outside York. There she died in January 1645–6, and at Osbaldwick her followers 'found out a little churchyard where the minister was honest enough to be bribed' and defy the recusancy laws. (fn. 3) West of the church are traces of a moat. There is a Wesleyan Methodist chapel.

North of Osbaldwick is the township of Murton, which has an area of 844 acres, of which 368 are arable and 430 grassland. (fn. 4) The northern part of the township is occupied by Murton Moor. There is a small village of Murton, at the north-east end of which is an early 18th-century house of some size with a large walled garden. The ruined chapel of St. James stands in a field to the west of the hamlet and is a simple rectangular structure without division or buttresses and measuring internally 41 ft. by 16½ ft. The east and north walls are much ruined, but the south and west are still standing almost to their full height. In the south wall are two window openings, repaired in brick, and a south door probably of 13thcentury date. In the west wall is a small single-light window, perhaps of the same period. It is now in course of restoration. There is a Wesleyan chapel at Murton.

The following place-names occur in the 17th century: Haverclose, Townendfield, Roughill field closes, The Slacke and Butt Leyes. (fn. 5)

Among the more famous of the prebendaries of Osbaldwick were Nicholas Wotton (appointed 1545–6), Edward Fox (1527) and George Pellew (1824). (fn. 6)

In 1635 the Dean and Chapter of York and the inhabitants of Osbaldwick and other neighbouring townships presented a petition to the Crown concerning the payment of rates and ship money. As part of the possessions of the cathedral these townships had of old been assessed with the wapentakes to which they belonged as part of the county of York and of the Liberty of St. Peter's. About 1632 the mayor and citizens of York had obtained a grant annexing these townships to the city of York, and Lord Wentworth, then President of the North, ordered that the townships should pay their rates with the county, being assessed for municipal matters with the city. (fn. 7) In spite of this decree the mayor and sheriffs continued to lay a shipbuilding tax on them, so that their taxes came to be paid twice over. (fn. 8) In 1636 the king issued a new Order in Council declaring that it was no part of his intention that any of the liberties of the cathedral should be infringed, or that any of his tenants should suffer wrong by his charter to the city. The mayor was ordered to give up the grant of 1632, and another charter was to be granted by which the ancient rights of the cathedral should be preserved and all differences settled. (fn. 9)


In the time of Edward the Confessor 6 carucates in OSBALDWICK were assessed with the city of York and were held by the canons of the cathedral church in that city. (fn. 10) Thomas, the first Norman Archbishop of York (1070–1100), is said to have constituted the several dignities and prebends which afterwards belonged to the cathedral, (fn. 11) and probably the prebend of Osbaldwick was founded at this time, although the first prebendary of whom mention is made is Richard le Brun, who was appointed to his stall in 1270–1. (fn. 12) The prebend was endowed with the vill of Osbaldwick, Robert de la Ford, prebendary in 1294, holding here a manor and 13 oxgangs in demesne. (fn. 13) The manor pertained to the prebend till the 19th century, the prebendary in 1840 being lord of the vill of Osbaldwick with a manor and jurisdiction over all his tenants. (fn. 14) In 1852 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were empowered to sell the lands belonging to this stall. (fn. 15) The manor appears to have been sold to T. S. Watkinson, who held it in 1857. (fn. 16) Before 1859 it passed into the hands of William Richardson, (fn. 17) and was held in 1905 by William Benson Richardson. The present lord of the manor is Mr. Thomas Hildyard Richardson of Burn Hall, near Easingwold.

The 'manor' of MURTON (Mortun, xi cent.) is entered with Osbaldwick on the Domesday Survey; it was assessed at 4 carucates, and was held, like Osbaldwick, by the canons of York Cathedral. (fn. 18) For many years there is no further trace of Murton, but presumably it formed part of the prebendal estate of Osbaldwick, for in 1840 the prebendary was lord of the vill of Murton and had jurisdiction over all the inhabitants. (fn. 19) It was apparently sold with Osbaldwick, for Mr. T. S. Watkinson had land here in 1859; before 1905 it had passed to the Richardsons, who now hold both Osbaldwick and Murton. (fn. 20)

The greater part of Murton, however, was copyhold of the prebendal manor of Strensall, (fn. 21) and with it is now in the possession of Mr. Richardson.


The church of ST. THOMAS consists of an aisleless nave and chancel, without structural division, 47 ft. 6 in. long by 18 ft. 6 in. wide, a south porch, a western bellcote and a north vestry. Though considerably restored, the building is substantially of 12th-century date. A window on the south side of the chancel is apparently a late 13th or early 14th-century insertion, and the east window dates from the 15th century. The modern additions include the vestry and the south porch and the bellcote is a modern rebuilding. The church was restored in 1877–8.

The 12th-century chancel is lighted by a threelight 15th-century east window with a depressed head. In the south wall are two windows, of which the eastern is a single round-headed 12th-century light and the western a two-light late 13th or early 14th-century insertion. The nave, also of the 12th century, has two round-headed windows of that date in the north wall and one in the south, but all these are now divided into two lights by modern mullions. In the west wall is a similar window with a small 12th-century circular opening above it. The 12thcentury south door of one chamfered order has a round head and a chamfered label. The roofs throughout the church are modern. The ancient font, now in the chancel, is broken, and has a circular bowl of 12thcentury date. The communion table and rails are 17th-century woodwork, and the pulpit is Jacobean with enriched arcaded panels to each face. The door is now utilized to form the front of a reading desk on the north side. A panelled dado, partly of 16th-century date, is carried round the nave walls. There are no monuments of interest within the church, but against the east wall of the porch is a good headstone commemorating Mary Ward, foundress of the Institute of Mary. The inscription, which is in good running script, reads: 'To love the poore, persever in the same, live, dy and Rise with them was all the ayme of Mary Ward, who Having lived 60 years and 8 days dyed the 20 of Jan. 1645.' The register records that Mrs. Dorothy Paston Bedingfield, superior of the order, who died in 1734, was also buried here.

The modern bellcote contains two bells.

The plate includes a cup (London, 1659) inscribed 'Osbolldwick cum Murton 1660,' but the rest of the set is modern.

The registers are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1581 to 1655; (ii) mixed entries 1661 to 1731; (iii) mixed entries 1731 to 1808, marriages to 1754 only; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1812.


No mention is made of this church in Pope Nicholas's Survey, but it is said to have been appropriated to the prebend of Strensall in 1485, in which year a vicarage was ordained. (fn. 22) The connexion of the prebendary with this church, however, goes back to an earlier date, for in 1416 it is stated that there were notorious defects in the glass windows of the quire in the chapel, the repair of which was the charge of the prebendary of Strensall. (fn. 23) The living was a peculiar. The rectorial tithe was appropriated to the cathedral church of York. (fn. 24) The vicarage is mentioned in the time of Henry VIII. (fn. 25)

The advowson belonged to the prebendary of Strensall until 1843. (fn. 26) Since that date the living has been in the gift of the Archbishop of York. (fn. 27)

The chapel of St. James at Murton was formerly in the patronage of the prebendary of Strensall. In 1511 Dr. Carrifer, then prebendary, granted a toft and half an oxgang of land in Murton to William Davy and Richard Beverley to be used for the benefit of this chapel. (fn. 28) They repaired the chapel from time to time, and in 1601 sums of 6s. 8d. and 5s. were set apart from this land for the curate, who was to read divine service every second Sunday between Allhallowmas and Candlemas, 4d. being deducted for each Sunday on which he should neglect to do so. (fn. 29) The land having been lost by inclosure, a further arrangement was made by the Commissioners of Charitable Uses in 1674, by which the money was to be raised from the two fields belonging to the manor of Strensall, known as Far Watterland Field and Little Watterland Field. (fn. 30) By 1815 the chapel had fallen into a state of great dilapidation and became unfit for service, no repairs having been done for nearly thirty years. The vicar, churchwardens and parishioners petitioned the Lord Chancellor, and some repairs were done. Services were held again in 1818. (fn. 31) After this the chapel was once more allowed to fall into ruins, and it has not been used since 1836. (fn. 32)


John Rawson, by will 1626, gave 20s. for two sermons to be preached annually in the parish church on 24 June and 27 December, and 5s. on each of those days to the poor, charged on lands called Oxcloses.

Mrs. Elizabeth Rawson (mother of above), by will, date not given, gave 20s. for two other sermons on the Sunday before All Saints' Day and on Trinity Sunday, and 5s. also for the poor on each of those days. The rent-charges of 30s. are regularly paid out of a copyhold estate called Slackfield, holden of the manor of Strensall.

In or about 1638 Isabel Spenceley gave the annual sum of 40s. out of Moreland Close; 20s. thereof for two sermons at Christmas and Ascension Day, 10s. for bread and wine for the communion on those days, and 10s. for the poor on those days. The rentcharge is paid out of copyhold land at Osbaldwick in the prebendal manor of Strensall.

Charity of John Straker, see parish of Holtby.

In 1728 Mrs. Mary Thistlethwaite by will gave 40s. yearly out of her land called Broad Oak, 30s. thereof for teaching six poor children of the townships of Osbaldwick and Murton and 10s. for the poor thereof.

In 1765 William Hutchinson by deed conveyed to trustees 1 a. 2 r. situate in St. Marygate in the parish of St. Olave, York, upon trust to pay £4 a year to the vicar of Osbaldwick, £3 a year to a schoolmaster, the residue for the purchase of books and for distribution of money and bread for poor.

The same William Hutchinson, by his will 1772, augmented his charity by a legacy of £100, represented by £110 £4 per cent. stock of the North Eastern Railway with the official trustees. The land comprised in the deed of 1765 was sold and the proceeds invested in 1885 in £1,490 15s. 8d. consols with the official trustees.

The charities are regulated by schemes of the Charity Commissioners of 24 July 1866 and 12 January 1886.

By an order made under the Board of Education Act, 1899, the sum of £960 consols, part of abovementioned consols, was determined to be applicable for educational purposes, and likewise the sum of £50, part of the aforesaid railway stock, and also the yearly sum of 30s., part of the rent-charge belonging to the charity of the above-named Mary Thistlethwaite.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Lawton, Coll. Rer. Eccl. 450.
  • 3. Catholic Encyclopedia; Chambers, Life of Mary Ward, ii, 474, 477, 483, 502. There appears to be some doubt whether her remains actually lie in the churchyard (Chambers, op. cit. 506).
  • 4. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 5. Close, 1649, pt. ix, m. 7.
  • 6. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 7. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1631–3, p. 480; 1635–6, p. 12.
  • 8. Ibid. 1635–6, pp. 12, 213, 261, 539.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 193.
  • 11. Dugdale, Mon. viii, 1172; Dixon, Fasti Ebor. 154, 135.
  • 12. Le Neve, Fasti Eccl. Angl. iii, 206.
  • 13. Cott. MS. Claud. B iii, fol. 169b.
  • 14. Lawton, op. cit. 450. At the Dissolution the prebend of Osbaldwick was valued at £45 3s. 4d. (Valor Eccl. [Rec. Com.], v, 2). In an account by Stevens of prebends, &c., in the gift of the Archbishop of York the following occurs: 'Osbaldwick £34. A lease of this prebend is granted by the means of My Lord his Grace to Morgayne his Secretary, who sold the same to one William Gilminge of York for £100' (Stevens, Hist. of Abbeys and Monasteries, i, 56). Richard Perrott, prebendary in January 1629–30, granted this manor to William Lee of York for the lives of Dorothy wife of Richard Perrott and John and Mary Perrott, his children (Close, 1649, pt. ix, m. 7). In 1649 the manor of Osbaldwick and the manor-house were sold to Richard Sykes (ibid.) by the Parliamentary trustees for the sale of the lands of the dean and chapter.
  • 15. Lond. Gaz. 22 Oct. 1852, p. 2755.
  • 16. P.O. Dir. Yorks. 1857.
  • 17. Whellan, York and the N. R. 627.
  • 18. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 193.
  • 19. Lawton, op. cit. 451.
  • 20. Whellan, op. cit. 628.
  • 21. See below, p. 193.
  • 22. Lawton, op. cit. 450.
  • 23. Fabric Rolls of York Minster (Surt. Soc.), 248.
  • 24. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 100.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. Clergy Lists; Slater, Royal Dir. Yorks. 1875.
  • 27. The following inscriptions were in the church in the 17th century: 'Here lies Sir William Sealisby formerly Vicar of Osberwyk, who died 28 May 1497.' 'Pray for the soul of Sir John Kirkby sometyme vecar of this church, of whos soull Jhesi have merci, 1530' (Dodsworth, Church Notes [Yorks. Arch. Soc.], 166).
  • 28. Com. for Char. Uses Inq. bdle. 37, no. 18.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Lawton, op. cit. 451.
  • 31. Ibid.
  • 32. Ibid.