Wapentake of Bulmer - Petty Sessional Division of West Bulmer - Electoral Division of Stillington - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Easingwold - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This parish is also called from its situation within the limits of what was once the Forest of Galtres, Marton-in-the-Forest, and Marton-in-Galtres, and not unfrequently Marton Lordship; but the latter is scarcely definite enough to distinguish it from other Martons in the County. Some slight alteration was made in the boundaries in 1887, and its area is now, according to the latest returns, 2,379½ acres; rateable value, £2,058; and population, 144.
This manor or lordship, soon after the Norman Conquest, formed part of the possessions of the old Saxon family of Bulmer, the builders of Sheriff Hutton Castle, and Brancepeth Castle, in the County of Durham. Bertram de Bulmer, the last of the line, left an only daughter and heiress Emma, who married Geoffrey Neville, and thus Sheriff Hutton. Brancepeth, Raskelfe, &c., came into the possession of that family. The whole lordship is now the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who hold it in trust for the Archbishop of York, who is lord of the manor.
There is no village; the houses lie scattered, chiefly, on the east side of the Foss. The land lies low, and was formerly a marsh, until drained and cultivated by the monks, hence its name Marton, that is, the ton or enclosure in the mere or marsh.
Bertram de Bulmer in the reign of Stephen, founded and endowed a priory here for Augustinian Friars, or as the name was more generally abbreviated, Austin Friars. It was at first established as a double house for monks and nuns, but the latter were not long after removed to Molesby or Moxby, about two miles distant. The priory stood on the right side of the road leading from Stillington to Helmsley, but, except a farm house built out of the ruins and called Marton Abbey, there is little left to mark the spot, though the site may be traced by the inequalities of the ground, and also the moat by which it was surrounded. Scarcely anything has been recorded of the history of this house, and of its priors the names of 18 only are known. The last one was Thomas Godson, who, with fifteen canons, surrendered the priory in 1536. Their gross annual income was £183 2s. 4d., which, after certain payments, left a net sum of £151 5s. 4d. The site was granted to the Archbishop of York in exchange for other lands.
The Church, dedicated, like the priory, to St. Mary, is an ancient edifice, situated on an eminence nearly in the centre of the lordship. It begins to show very perceptible signs of decay, but is likely to be restored shortly at the expense of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The benefice is now united with the vicarage of Farlington, the joint living being valued at £300 per annum. Patron, the Archbishop of York; present vicar, the Rev. Frederick S. Newman, M.A.
Moxby or Molesby is a hamlet consisting of three farms. A Nunnery was founded here soon after the Conquest, but neither the founder nor the date are known. Henry II. confirmed the "gift of Molesby to the nuns there serving God"; as this was only the confirmation of a previous grant, it is probable that the convent had been built in the previous reign. The King gave them 480 acres of land in Huby, and the churches of Thormanby and Whenby. The nunnery continued to flourish till the dissolution of lesser monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII. when it was surrendered by Philippa Jenison, the last prioress, and nine nuns who formed the community. Their yearly revenues were valued at £32 6s. 2d, The convent stood near Foss rivulet, on which the nuns had a mill, and after the suppression it was converted into a family mansion, the last occupant of which, according to the "Vallis Eboracensis," was Madame Prince. The house was taken down many years ago, and a farm house erected on the site, called Moxby Hall. Very few vestiges of the conventual buildings now remain, but the moat may still be plainly seen. The farm is occupied by Mr. John Appleby, and near, on the adjoining farm, is a small garden in which are two aged apple trees that are said to have belonged to the nunnery.
About a mile distant is a well called St. John's Well after the tutelary saint of the convent, which was formerly in repute as a medicinal spring, but is now little frequented.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.