MASHAM, a parish in the wapentake of Hang East, and liberties of St. Peter's and Richmondshire; 6 miles from Bedale, and 10 from Ripon. Market, Wednesday. Fairs, September 17, 18, and 19, for horned cattle, sheep, pedlary-ware, &c. Principal Inn, Kings Head. The Church, peculiar, is a vicarage, dedicated to St. Mary (see Churches for photograph), in the deanry of Catterick, diocese of Chester, value, £30 in the patronage of Trinity College, Cambridge, under which Lord Grantly, as lessee, holds the impropriate rectory. William Danby, of Swinton, Esq. is lord of the manor of Mashamshire, which comprises the whole parish, except the township of Burton-upon-Ure. The population of Masham amounts to 1171.
The town is most delightfully situated on the western bank of the river Ure, and the adjacent country, particularly to the east, is abundantly fertile. The market is on Wednesday; but not much business is transacted. In addition to the agricultural pursuits of the place, a number of labouring men are employed in the combing of wool, and some of the females in manufacturing a kind of coarse straw platt for hats. At a distance of about half a mile from the town, on the opposite bank of the river, there is a flax mill, occupied by Mr. Prest, which affords employment to a number of men, women and children, in the spinning of flax.
The church is a small stone edifice, commanding a delightful prospect, and is extremely neat and interesting within. Several of the tablets are very handsome, and the monument of Sir Marmaduke Wyvil, is deservedly admired for its beauty and splendour. The living is a vicarage with the vicarage of Kirkby Malzeard, in the patronage of Trinity College, Cambridge, of which the Rev. William Lawson, M. A. is vicar. The Methodists and Anabaptists have each a small chapel here: and there is a Free School for the education of thirty poor boys belonging to the parish. There is also a charity school for the education of twelve poor girls, begun by the late, and continued by the present Mrs. Danby, of Swinton Park. Masham Prebend, which existed till the year 1546, was then dissolved and made a Lay Fee, by Archbishop Holgate; it consisted of the manor and rectory of Masham-cum-Kirkby Malzeard, in the deanery of Catterick, and was the richest prebend in the church of York.(see Bacon's Liber Regis, p. 1102)
Masham formerly belonged to the family of the Scropes, who had a seat here; to distinguish them from another family of the Scropes of Bolton, from whom they descended, they were styled in writing Scropes of Masham. Henry Lord le Scroop, lord treasurer was beheaded for high treason in the reign of Henry IV. and Archbishop Scroop, who suffered the same fate in the same reign, and for a similar offence, were of that ancient family. Of this family was Jefferey, Lord Scrope, twice chief justice of the Kings Bench; he procured a charter of free warren for all his demesne lands in this town, 2 Edward III., also, for the present weekly market and fairs. He died possessed of this manor 15 of Richard II. leaving Stephen his son and heir. This manor and estates continued in this family till 7 of Henry VII., when Thomas, Lord Scrope, dying without male issue, they were carried into the family of Scropes of Bolton, by marriage of his daughter Alice with Henry, Lord Scrope; but afterwards came to the Danbys; Sir Christopher Danby marrying Mary, the sister of Thomas, Lord Scrope. -Mag. Brit. Archaeol.
The estate is now enjoyed by William Danby, Esq. of Swinton Park, whose superb mansion is within half a mile of the town, and whose highly picturesque grounds extend from the vicinity of Masham, to the margin of the moors, large tracts, which his zeal, for improvements, has served to reclaim.