Parishes: Cowesby

Pages 5-7

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

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Cahosbi, Colesbi (xi cent.); Colesbye (xvi cent.).

This parish lies in the north-west corner of Birdforth Wapentake, on the western slopes of the Hambleton Hills, Windygill Ridge, the eastern boundary, being 1,000 ft., while the southwest corner of the parish is only 300 ft., above the ordnance datum.

The total area is 1,165 acres, of which 289 are under cultivation. (fn. 1) The soil is clay and gravel on a subsoil of Upper Lias, and the chief crops are wheat, oats, barley and peas. There are 142 acres of woodland, which lie for the most part in the east of the parish; here the boundary sweeps from the north out into the moor of Boltby, inclosing a crescent-shaped tract of woodland and moor. Within the curve is Cowesby Hall, built in 1832 (fn. 2) after the design of Anthony Salvin, (fn. 3) and now the residence of Mr. W. A. C. Lloyd, the lord of the manor.

The village is just outside the grounds of the hall, its few houses all lying along one straight street. The most interesting building is the old hospital for impoverished tenants of the manor. (fn. 4) It is a rectangular stone building of early 17th-century date, (fn. 5) with its back to the village street. It consists of four tenements and is one story high, with attics in the roof. The four doors have flat-pointed heads, and the windows to the front are each of two lights with stone mullions. The two dormers are curious as having mullioned windows and ashlar cheeks. The back windows are of one light only, and the bases of the gable copings are ornamented with stone balls resting on shaped base stones.

Cowesby Hospital: Front View

The modern church of St. Michael and All Angels stands on the old site on the north side of the street, which continues westward through the parish as the road to Borrowby At the end of the 12th century Osmund de Stutevill, lord of the manor, granted the monks of Rievaulx the free use of the road in Cowesby 'leading up the hill.' They had made it themselves in the time of Osmund's father, (fn. 6) no doubt to connect their two granges of Crosby in Leake parish and Hesketh in Boltby.


Gamel held here before the Conquest 3 carucates. In 1086 these were among the lands of Hugh son of Baldric, (fn. 7) the under-tenant being Girard.

With the rest of Hugh son of Baldric's lands (fn. 8) Cowesby came into the possession of Robert de Stutevill, and on his forfeiture in 1106 was granted to the ancestor of the Mowbrays. Their lordship followed the descent of the manor of Thirsk (fn. 9) (q.v.).

Cowesby must have been among the knights' fees regranted by the Mowbray family to the Stutevills in satisfaction of the claim they made to the barony of Robert, (fn. 10) for the Stutevills and the subsequent lords of Kirkby Moorside (fn. 11) had a mesne lordship in the vill. (fn. 12) This had disappeared before 1450, when the Burgh family held Cowesby directly of the Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 13)

Cowesby Hall from the Courtyard

The tenancy in demesne in the 12th century belonged to Osmund, a member of a younger branch of the family of Stutevill and the first Stutevill of Gressenhall, Norfolk, who is generally supposed to have been a younger brother of Robert de Stutevill (fn. 14) and grandson of the earlier Robert. (fn. 15) He died before 1199 (fn. 16) in possession of Cowesby. His widow Isabel, who married William de Huntingfield, successfully claimed dower in his Yorkshire lands against William de Stutevill, Osmund's son and heir. (fn. 17) William de Stutevill died in 1259, (fn. 18) and was succeeded by a son and heir Robert, (fn. 19) whose nephew and heir Jordan Foliot succeeded him before 1275 (fn. 20) and held the vill in 1284–5. (fn. 21) One carucate and 3 oxgangs were held of him by an under-tenant, (fn. 22) possibly the Edmund Carbonnel who sought to replevy his land here in 1304. (fn. 23)

Foliot. Barry wavy ermine and gules.

Camoys. Argent a chief gules with three roundels argent thereon.

Jordan Foliot died in 1299. His son and heir Richard, then aged fifteen, (fn. 24) seems to have died young, (fn. 25) and to have been succeeded by another Richard, his son, who never attained his majority. (fn. 26) The manor was in the hands of Sir Amphorus de Vere (fn. 27) until Richard died in or about 1325, (fn. 28) when his heirs were his two sisters Margery and Margaret, of twelve and eleven years of age respectively. (fn. 29) The wardship of the co-heirs was purchased by Isabel de Hastings and Ralph de Camoys. (fn. 30)

Isabel married Margery to her son Hugh and Margaret was married to John Camoys son of Ralph. (fn. 31) The estates of Richard Foliot were divided between them in 1330, and Cowesby was assigned to John Camoys and Margaret. (fn. 32)

In 1344 the manor of Cowesby was settled on John Camoys and Margaret, with remainder to Hugh de Hastings and Margery and her heirs. (fn. 33) John and Margaret died without issue, and the manor consequently passed to the Hastings family. (fn. 34) Hugh son of Margery had a daughter Elizabeth, (fn. 35) to whom he must have granted the manor. With her husband, William de Elmham, (fn. 36) Elizabeth obtained a quitclaim of the manor of Cowesby in 1389 from John Sherwood and Beatrice his wife. (fn. 37) In the same year William and Elizabeth granted it to Alexander Brown, (fn. 38) perhaps a trustee for sale to the Burgh family, for in 1407 Richard Burgh left it to his wife Margaret for life with remainder to his son John. (fn. 39) John was in possession in 1428. (fn. 40) He left the manor to his wife Isabel for life, with a remainder of part to Brian Rouclyff as reward for good service and of the rest to Thomas Burgh his nephew. (fn. 41) It was against this Thomas that Hugh de Hastings unsuccessfully claimed the manor in 1475. (fn. 42) He was created Lord Burgh in 1487, (fn. 43) and was succeeded by his son and heir Edward. (fn. 44) Edward left a son and heir Thomas, (fn. 45) whose son William (fn. 46) Lord Burgh sold the manor of Cowesby to John Palmer in 1559. (fn. 47)

Burgh, Lord Burgh. Azure three fleurs de lis ermine.

Alston of Odell, baronet. Azure ten stars or.

Lloyd of Cowesby. Argent three sleeping lions sable set paleways.

John Palmer left Cowesby to his son Anthony, (fn. 48) who died a knight in 1630. (fn. 49) His heir was his son Dudley. (fn. 50) Before the end of the 17th century (fn. 51) the manor seems to have been sold to Nathaniel Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, whom tradition makes the founder of the Cowesby Hospital. (fn. 52) He presented to the church in 1716, (fn. 53) and died without issue in 1721. (fn. 54) The estate appears shortly afterwards (fn. 55) in the possession of Sir Rowland Alston, bart., of Odell, whose father had married Temperance daughter of the second Lord Crewe. (fn. 56) He held the manor in 1728, (fn. 57) and his son Thomas succeeded him in 1759. (fn. 58) The latter had no legitimate child, but on the death of his brother and heir Rowland without issue (fn. 59) the estate passed under the will of Thomas to his illegitimate son Thomas Alston. (fn. 60) This Thomas with his son Justinian (fn. 61) was party to conveyances of the manor in 1803 and 1814. (fn. 62) Thomas Alston was lord of the manor in 1825. (fn. 63) Before 1832, however, it had been acquired by Mr. George Lloyd, (fn. 64) whose grandson (fn. 65) Mr. W. A. C. Lloyd is the present owner.


The church of ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS consists of a chancel with a north vestry, a central tower, the ground stage of which is occupied by the quire, and an aisleless nave with a south porch. It was erected in 1846, in the Norman style, and is built of stone and roofed with stone slates.

There are six modern bells.

The plate, which is silver, consists of a cup, paten and flagon. The cup was presented by Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Lloyd in 1851, the paten by Harriet Wray in 1846, and the flagon by George Wray, M.A., rector of Leven, in 1846.

The registers date from 1679.


The church of Cowesby is first mentioned in 1227, when it was described as a chapel, and was in the gift of the Bishop of Durham. (fn. 66) In 1291 it was returned among the spiritualities of the bishop as 'ecclesia.' (fn. 67) Ten years later the advowson was in the hands of the Foliots, (fn. 68) who must have acquired it from the bishop, and since that time it has followed the descent of the manor. (fn. 69)

The living is a rectory, and is always described as in Allertonshire, (fn. 70) though the vill of Cowesby belongs to Birdforth Wapentake. It was one of the churches in the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Durham, with which the Archbishop of York attempted to interfere in the early 14th century. (fn. 71)


The ancient hospital is supposed to have been founded by Lord Crewe for four decayed tenants of the manor. The annual sum of £10 is paid by the lord of the manor. In 1905 a further sum of £5 was received by way of rent of house and garden. Mr. William Alexander Charles Lloyd of Cowesby Hall is the sole trustee and administrator.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Grainge, Vale of Mowbray, 286.
  • 3. See Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 4. Char. Com. Rep. xiii, 617.
  • 5. See Grainge, op. cit. 285 for its traditional foundation.
  • 6. Rievaulx Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 290.
  • 7. V.C.H. Yorks. ii, 275. The 'Colesbi' which is included in the survey in the soke of Allerton (ibid. 196, 314) must also apparently be identified with Cowesby.
  • 8. See Thirsk and Buttercrambe below.
  • 9. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 96; Chan. Inq. p.m. 1 Hen. IV, pt. i, no. 71b; 29 Hen. VI, no. 35.
  • 10. See Kirkby Moorside. Cowesby probably formed part of the original grant of Kirkby Moorside with its appurtenances made temp. Henry II. It is never actually described as appertaining to that manor, but is mentioned indifferently as parcel of Cottingham or Buttercrambe (Yorks. Inq. [Yorks. Arch. Soc.], i, 245; Chan. Inq. p.m. 3 Hen. VI, no. 32). These two manors, however, were held of the king in chief, and Kirkby Moorside and Cowesby were both under the overlordship of the Mowbray family (Cal. Inq. p.m. 1–19 Edw. I, 120).
  • 11. See V.C.H. Yorks. N. R. i, 512–13.
  • 12. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 96; Chan. Inq. p.m. 4 Hen. V, no. 51.
  • 13. Chan. Inq. p.m. 29 Hen. VI, no. 35.
  • 14. Carthew, Hund. of Launditch, i, 190.
  • 15. Banks, Dormant and Extinct Baronage, i, 174; Dugdale, Baronage, i, 456.
  • 16. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 7.
  • 17. Charters to Castleacre (Carthew, op. cit. i, 120; Yorks. Fines, John [Surt. Soc.], 57).
  • 18. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. III, 120.
  • 19. Feet of F. Yorks. 47 Hen. III, no. 29; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 890. Robert is described in a confirmation to Fountains Abbey (Cal. Pat. 1307–13, p. 435; Mem. of Fountains [Surt. Soc.], ii, 27) as son of Walter.
  • 20. Yorks. Inq. (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), ii, 1.
  • 21. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 96.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Cal. Close, 1302–7, p. 219; Lay Subs. R. bdle. 211, no. 23.
  • 24. Yorks. Inq. (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), iii, 102.
  • 25. Carthew, op. cit. i, 191.
  • 26. Ibid.
  • 27. Kirkby's Inq. (Surt. Soc.), 322; cf. Lay Subs. R. bdle. 211, no. 6.
  • 28. Cal. Inq. p.m. 10–20 Edw. II, 394–5.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Cal. Close, 1330–3, p. 162.
  • 32. Ibid.
  • 33. Feet of F. Yorks. 18 Edw. III, no. 42.
  • 34. De Banco R. 855, m. 416.
  • 35. Ibid.; this is the only method of reconciling the two pedigrees given in the pleadings.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. Feet of F. Yorks. 13 Ric. II, no. 19.
  • 38. Ibid. no. 22.
  • 39. Test. Ebor. (Surt. Soc.), i, 347.
  • 40. Lay Subs. R. bdle. 211, no. 75.
  • 41. Chan. Inq. p.m. 29 Hen. VI, no. 35.
  • 42. De Banco R. 855, m. 416.
  • 43. G.E.C. Peerage, ii, 76.
  • 44. Ibid.
  • 45. Ibid.
  • 46. Ibid.
  • 47. Feet of F. Yorks. Mich. 1 & 2 Eliz.; Close, 1 Eliz. pt. ix, no. 24.
  • 48. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccx, 71.
  • 49. Ibid. cccclxvii, 67.
  • 50. Ibid.
  • 51. The last presentation to the church made by a Palmer was in 1665 (Grainge, op. cit. 284).
  • 52. Ibid. 285.
  • 53. Ibid. 284.
  • 54. G.E.C. Peerage, ii, 422.
  • 55. With the manor of Thixendale, which had also belonged to the Burghs and Palmers.
  • 56. Burke, Dormant and Extinct Peerage.
  • 57. Recov. R. Hil. 2 Geo. II, rot. 229.
  • 58. G.E.C. Baronetage, ii, 183.
  • 59. Ibid.
  • 60. Ibid.
  • 61. Burke, Landed Gentry.
  • 62. Recov. R. Hil. 43 Geo. III, rot. 13; Hil. 54 Geo. III, rot. 175.
  • 63. Char. Com. Rep. xiii, 617.
  • 64. Grainge, op. cit. 286.
  • 65. Burke, Landed Gentry.
  • 66. Cal. Pat. 1225–32, p. 115.
  • 67. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 302.
  • 68. Grainge, op. cit. 284.
  • 69. Feet of F. Yorks. 18 Edw. III, no. 42; 13 Ric. II, no. 19; Mich. 1 & 2 Eliz.; Chan. Inq. p.m. 29 Hen. VI, no. 35; (Ser. 2) ccx, 71; cccclxvii, 67; Recov. R. Hil. 2 Geo. II, rot. 229; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 70. Bacon, Liber Regis, 1123.
  • 71. Cal. of Papal Letters, ii, 320.