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The Ancient Parish of WYCLIFFE

[Transcribed information mainly from the early 1820s]

"WYCLIFFE, "the cliffe by the water" a parish in the wapentake of Gilling West, and liberty of Richmondshire; 5 miles SE. of Barnard Castle. The church is an ancient edifice (see Churches for photograph), re-built in the reign of Edward III. The living is a rectory, in the patronage of the lord of the manor, but the patrons being Catholics it has been repeatedly presented by the University of Cambridge; the incumbent is the Rev. John Headlam, who resides in the rectory house at Thorpe. Here it is said that John Wycliffe, the reformer, was born; and Dr. Thomas Zouch, the late rector of this parish, has presented an original picture of this Morning Star of the Reformation, who he says, was a native of this parish, to the rectors of Wycliffe, as an heirloom. Leyland says, that John Wickliffe hoereticus, was born at Spreswell, near Richmond; and in that immediate neighbourhood is Willecliff pronounced exactly like the reformer's name, which Wycliffe is not. At all events the dispute is only about a few miles, and the claim of Yorkshire and even of Richmondshire to the birth of the Father of the Reformation is undisputed (Dr Whitaker's Richmondshire). Pop. 152.

On the 11th October, 1790, died at Wycliffe hall, Marmaduke Tunstall, Esq. F.r. and A.S.S. In the privacy of an elegant retirement, he was a most munificent patron of learning, being ever ready to encourage and reward merit. His knowledge was uncommonly extensive. He corresponded with most of the learned men of his country, and with many foreigners of distinguished character in the republic of letters. Great as his literary abilities were, he possessed more valuable accomplishments; a sweet affability of disposition, an engaging urbanity of manners, an enlarged liberality of thought; he was all mildness and benevolence. His deeds of charity were many; he was literally the poor man's friend."


"GIRLINGTON, a farm house in the township of Thorpe, and parish of Wycliffe; 1 mile ESE. of Wycliffe, 6 miles from Barnardcastle, (Dur.) 9 from Richmond."


"THORPE, (with Wycliffe) in the parish of Wycliffe, wapentake of Gilling West; 5 miles SE. of Barnard Castle; a small township, situated on the banks of the river Tees. There is here a private chapel of the Catholic persuasion. Pop. 152."

[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. 2010]

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