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REIGHTON PARISH: Reighton Parish Records Introduction

Reighton Parish Records Introduction

Parish Records for St. Peter's Church, Reighton.

Introduction by Lisa Blosfelds.

The Reighton Parish Registers begin in 1559 and continue to the present day. Unfortunately I am at present unable to read the earliest handwriting and so have had to start their transcription at 1670. I have copied them to 1911 so as to cover all the people mentioned in the next census to become available to the public.

The oldest register starts in 1559 and continues to 1803. It was originally in the form of loose sheets, but these were collected, put in order and bound in 1810 by Henry Eustacius Strickland, who at that time lived at Reighton Hall and was a churchwarden. The registers are written on parchment and are much discoloured with age. Being written on animal skin this most ancient register has a distinctive but not unpleasant smell, something like roast beef. The pages are full of holes and have suffered much fading and water damage, so much so that some of the information they once contained has been irretrievably lost. One leaf has Elizabethan records on one side and Georgian ones on the other, and is bound among the records of the Georgian era. I have transcribed the register as best I could. This earliest register has the baptisms, marriages and burials listed for each year in turn, and I have transcribed them in this format. The terrier of 1743 will also be found transcribed among the records.

The next register is also written on parchment and covers baptisms and burials for the years 1803 - 1812, baptisms being in the front of the volume and burials in the back. These are recorded in the 'Dade' format. This gives the genealogist considerably more information than registers from other times, including position in the family and, in some cases, cause of death. The marriages of these years are in a separate volume and appear separately in the transcriptions so as to give a closer resemblance to the original format. Later registers are in paper and in the familiar nineteenth century format.

Reighton church is worth a visit, if only for the delectable view over Filey Bay from the churchyard. (Look through the hole in the hedge or stand in the gateway of the adjoining field.) The church is usually open on Tuesdays in summer. Although it appears unprepossessing from the outside and was, of necessity (it was practically falling down) heavily restored in the late nineteenth century, there are some notable features inside. There is a good solid twelfth century chancel arch, an ancient font in the shape of a Roman alter, and a pair of interesting corbels in the form of human heads, one of them worn down to a stump. Part of the floor is cobbled with stones from the beach, while on one wall at the foot of the tower may be seen photographs of the church in the course of its restoration. Outside there is an ancient mass clock inscribed on the southern wall, while some of the gravestones may be of interest. Notable among these is that of Elizabeth Cowton, the oldest recorded Reightonian, who lived to be 103.

Reighton itself has become considerably quieter since the opening two years ago of the by-pass, which has taken most of the through traffic away from the centre of the village. A semblance of the quiet of earlier years has returned. It is possible once more to sit in the churchyard and hear the birds sing. Crossing the road is no longer a hazard. The village boasts no less than ten listed buildings, ranging from Reighton Hall, to a humble cottage built of the local chalk. Several place names in the village are derived from those of earlier inhabitants. There is a Cowton Lane, a Holtby Terrace, a Johnsons Farm and a Watsons Lane. Although the Parish Registers began 450 years ago, it should be born in mind that people have lived in the area for thousands of years. There is a prehistoric burial mound in the grounds of Reighton Hall, and a Neolithic trackway, the Argham Cursus, connects Reighton with Rudston.

On a personal note it may be wondered why someone who lives a fair distance from Reighton and has no direct personal connection with it, should want to go to the time and trouble of transcribing the Parish Registers. In a way it was history that first brought me to the village: my father was interested in the fossils which are to be fond in the cliffs. I was five years old on that first occasion and have been every year since, often twice. I hope to be buried there. I have always been interested in history in general, so it seemed natural to take an interest in the village where we have spent so many happy times. An earlier project involved a set of old photographs given to me by a friend who lives in Reighton. I took recent photographs of the scenes from the same viewpoints and set them side by side for comparison. The real impetus, however, came when I started to research my own family history. Visiting a Family History Fair, I idly bought a copy of the East Yorkshire FHS's transcriptions of the Reighton Monumental Inscriptions. This led me to look up Reighton in the censuses available at my local research room and to take copies of them and all the other material on the village available at that source. The next step was, obviously, to get copies of the Parish Records. I found, however, that these were yet to be transcribed. On reflection, then, I seemed the obvious person to do them. I had originally anticipated that the registers for such a small village would be relatively short. Experience has proved otherwise, but persistence pays off. The act of transcribing is strangely addictive - one wants to know what happened next. It also gave me a real thrill to get my hands one something which has existed in the village at the time of Elizabeth I and to read the names of the people who had lived there then.

My next project will be to transcribe the Methodist Parish Registers to complement those of the Anglican church. In the future I hope to learn how to read the earliest handwriting and so be able to transcribe the first 111 years of these registers. When the 1921 census becomes available in another ten years time I shall try to continue with the transcriptions to that date. I also intend to study other historical documents relating to the village to gain a wider understanding of its development.

I would like to thank Dr Peter Pike, the present incumbent of Reighton, for his permission and encouragement in transcribing the registers. I would also like to thank the staff of the East Yorkshire Archives in Beverley for their help and kindness in dealing with me, and also my employer, Robert Johnson, in whose time these Parish Records were typed up.

Lisa Blosfelds Doncaster 2009

Written by
and presented here by permission of
Lisa Blosfelds ©2014