SWINE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


Wapentake of Holderness (Middle Division) - County Council Electoral Division of Skirlaugh - Petty Sessional Division of Middle Holderness - Poor Law Union of Skirlaugh - County Court District of Hedon - Rural Deanery of Hornsea - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

This parish was formerly, in point of magnitude, the second largest in the East Riding. It inclosed within its boundaries an area of 14,694 acres, and included the chapelries of Bilton and South Skirlaugh, and the townships of Benningholme-and-Grange, Coniston, Ellerby, Ganstead, Marton, Swine, Thirtleby, North Skirlaugh-with-Rowton, Wyton, and part of Arnold. In 1867, under the Divided Parishes Act, the chapelries of Bilton and South Skirlaugh, with certain townships, were formed into separate parishes, and Swine parish, as now constituted, consists of the townships of Swine, Burton Constable, Coniston, Ellerby, and Thirtleby.

The township of Swine comprises 2,289½ acres, and is valued for rating purposes at £2,615. The population in 1891 was 201, showing am incrase of six since the previous census. The soil is various, light in some places, strong clay in others; there is also some carr land; the subsoil is gravel, clay, and peat. The manor and 2,166 acres of land belong to the Crown.

At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor of Swine belonged to the Archbishops of York, under whom it was subsequently held by the Hiltons, who rendered knight's service and an annual rent of £4 12s. 2d. In 1242 Alexander de Hilton, a baron of the bishopric of Durham, was lord of Swine and Winestead, and gave nine oxgangs of land to the prioress of Swine. He was also lord of Hilton, in the county of Durham, where his principal residence was situated. His son and successor, Robert de Hilton, settled Swine on his younger son, William de Hilton, in 1288, on his marriage with Maude, daughter and co-heir of Sir Roger de Lascelles, of Kirby Knowle. Swine became the residence of the younger branch, and, after remaining in their possession upwards of two centuries, it descended through the marriage of a daughter to the Meltons. The daughter and heiress of Sir John Melton married George, Lord Darcy, whose father was executed for his participation in the Pilgrimage of Grace. The estate and manor subsequently passed by purchase to the Micklethwaytes early in the 17th century. The last Lord Micklethwayte bequeathed it to the Ewer family, and William Ewer, Esq., left it to his relative, the Hon. Cropley Ashley, afterwards Lord Shaftesbury. In 1866 the estate was purchased from the Earl of Shaftesbury by the Crown for £120,000.

A priory was founded here by Robert de Verli in or before the reign of Stephen. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was inhabited by nuns of the Cistercian Order. Erenburg de Burton, wife of Ulbert de Constable, was an early benefactor of the house, and from her charter, which is granted "fratri bus et sororibus," it appears that the priory was at that time of a mixed character, containing both "brothers and sisters." In later years it was restricted to nuns. Alexander de Hilton gave to the prioress and convent of Swine nine oxgangs of land; Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, Hawise Surdeville, and others were also benefactors. The founder's grant included the parish church of Swine, and in 1338 it was appropriated to the convent, and a vicarage ordained. The priory was exempted from the payment of tithes of the lands they had brought into cultivation, as well as of the lands they held in their own hands. At the dissolution the net income was £82 3s. 9d.; there were then in the house a prioress and 18 nuns. The site, with all the tithes of the parish, was granted in 1541 to Sir Richard Gresham, and, having again reverted to the Crown by exchange, it was granted in 1553 to Sir John Constable, Knt. There were granges belonging to the priory at Benningholme, Bewholme, Drypool, Fairholme, Langthorpe, and Owbrough. The conventual buildings were situated on the south and south-west side of the church, but not a stone now remains above ground.

The priory church, being also parochial, was not granted away, but left to the parishioners. It was a large cruciform structure, with a massive central tower, supported by four lofty circular arches with zigzag mouldings. This tower was taken down, and the present one built, in 1787. The edifice, as it now stands, is but a fragment of the old conventual church. The nave and trausepts have disappeared, and the chancel, to which aisles have been added at a later period, has been converted into a nave. The arches of the aisle arcades are acutely pointed, and rest on massive circular columns with square capitals. The second and third arches on the north side are embellished with zigzag ornament of two different characters. At the east end of the north aisle was formerly a chantry chapel, endowed by one of the Hilton family. It is separated from the chancel by strong iron bars, and from the aisle by a richly-carved oak screen, erected by the first Lord D'Arcy, K.G., in 1531. It is known as "the Lord's Chapel," and contains several monuments of the Hilton family. Amongst them is one bearing the single figure of an armour-clad knight in alabaster; and there are two others, on which are the effigies of two knights and their ladies. The single figure is said to represent Sir Robert Hilton, and the others, doubtless, belong to the same family. Under a recessed arch in the wall of the south aisle, are two other effigies of a knight and lady, very much mutilated. No remains of heraldic devices are now visible, but, according to a MS. in the Lansdowne Collection, it is the monument of Sayer de Sutton, lord of Sutton, who defended the nuns of Swine against the abbot of Meaux, in a suit concerning a watercourse. There are other monumental stones, bearing fragments of inscriptions, and one from which the brass has been removed. Under the floor of the vestry are two stone coffins, of the usual mediæval type, probably in the same position as they were originally placed. The church was thoroughly restored in 1872, at a cost of about £2,900, under the direction of Mr. Christian, architect; and other improvements have been effected since. The chancel is separated from the nave by an oak screen, and still retains nine of its ancient choir stalls, with grotesquely-carved miscreres. The east window is a very fine one, of large dimensions; beneath it is a reredos, erected in 1877. The carved lectern was the work of Miss Bethell, of Rise, who presented it to the church. There was formerly a gallery at the west end, erected in 1722, but this was removed during the restoration, and the east window, which had been blocked up for some time, was opened out. The tower contains a clock and four bells; the former was added in 1787, and the latter in 1800.

The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £170, including 43 acres of glebe, in the gift of G. T. Woodroofe, Esq., and held since 1875 by the Rev. William Cobby, M.A., L.Th., of Hatfield Hall, Durham. The Crown is lay impropriator, and augmented the living, by a gift of four acres of land, in 1865.

The village is small and scattered, and stands six-and-a-half miles north-east of Hull, and about the same distance north-west from Hedon. There is a station here, on the Hull and Hornsea branch of the North-Eastern railway. A small Wesleyan chapel was built in 1829, and a new one is now in course of erection, at a cost of £250, The School, built in 1867, has accommodation for 100 children. It is mixed, under a master, and attended by about 42, on an average. There is an endowment of £200, in the three-per-cent. consols, left by Mrs. Lamb, of Elwall, Surrey, in 1798, for the education of six poor children of the township of Swine. On the wall of a row of cottages is inscribed : - " This Roomstead was built with money left by a servant to the Micklethwaits, named Ellen Dun, widow, deceased, June ye 14th Anno 1691, aged 70 years." The shaft and base of an ancient cross still remain in their original situation.

To the north-west of the village are the traces of a Roman encampment. These interesting relics of the past are disappearing under the hand of cultivation; their sites are subjected to the ploughshare, and, year by year, their outlines become less distinctly traceable, until they finally disappear. Mr. Thompson thus describes the encampment as it appeared in 1824:- "A short distance from the farmhouse, still called Wood-house, is an enclosure of about 10 acres, in which are double ramparts of 300 yards in length, varying in height from two to five yards. The two ramparts are parellel to each other, and the width of the fosse between them is, at present, from 10 to 14 yards. Much earth has been thrown from the ramparts into this fosse, and the outer fosse is filled up nearly to a level with the adjacent ground. Both the ramparts and fosses appear to have been originally of very large dimensions. The camp, if completed according to the apparent boundaries of it, would probably contain between three and four thousand men." Mr. Thompson expresses the opinion that this camp was a castra stativa, or standing camp, and that it had communication with a minor camp on a hill 400 yards north-west by means of a bridge of some sort across the narrow part of the creek (now drained), as fragments of stumps of ancient oaken piles have been found in the ground, in the nearest direction from one camp to the other. Many ancient implements have been found in ploughing the ramparts and other parts of the parish. Among them are many celts, fragments of spears, flint instruments, &c. In 1826, whilst some boys were playing in a recently ploughed field near the above earthworks, they discovered a Roman urn containing upwards of 1,400 copper coins, belonging to the first half of the 4th century. They had been carefully placed upon their edges, and were in an excellent state of preservation. The urn, unfortunately, was broken, and the coins passed from the boys into the possession of many individuals.

BURTON CONSTABLE, is a hamlet containing 1,248 acres, locally situated within the parish of Swine, but for poor law purposes it is returned with the township of West Newton, in the parish of Aldborough The whole estate is the property of Sir Frederick Augustus Talbot Clifford-Constable, Bart.

This place is called Santriburtone in Domesday Survey, but soon afterwards it obtained the name of Erneburg Burton from its owner, Erneburg de Burton, the widow of Gilbert de Alost. This lady subsequently marrying Ulbert le Constable, transferred the manor to the Constables, and it still remains in the possession of that family. A new name was thus associated with the place, which became known as Burton Constable. For several centuries the manor was held in part of the Seigniory of Holderness, and in part of the Archbishop of York; but from the accession of Sir John Constable, Knight, in 1579, to the 12th of Charles II. (1660), when the feudal tenures were abolished, it appears to have been held immediately of the Crown.

The family derive their name of Constable from the office held by one of their early ancestors in some royal or baronial castle. Mr. Poulson, in his "History of Holderness," gives a very interesting and complete pedigree of the family from Ulbert le Constable above mentioned. Sir Henry Constable, of Burton Constable, Knight, was created in 1625 Viscount Dunbar, in Scotland. John, Robert, and William, sons of the second viscount successively held the title, but, dying without issue, the viscounty expired. William, the fifth viscount, left the estates to Cuthbert Tunstall, his sister's son, upon condition that he, the said Cuthbert, should take the name of Constable. William Constable, the next owner, dying without issue in 1791, entailed the estates and the Seigniory of Holderness on Edward and Francis Sheldon, sons of his sister, and after them on Thomas Hugh Clifford, Esq., whose grand-aunts, Elizabeth and Amy, had married into the Constable family, the former with William, Lord Viscount Dunbar, and the latter with Cuthbert Tunstall, Esq. Mr. Clifford was created a baronet in 1814, and succeeded to the Constable estates on the death of Francis Sheldon, Esq., without surviving issue, in 1821. Sir Thomas assumed by sign-manual, the surname and arms of Constable only. The present baronet is his grandson.

The mansion of Burton Constable is described as one of the oldest and grandest baronial halls of England. A portion of it was in existence as early as the reign of King Stephen. Additions were made to it in the time of Henry VIII., and the building was still further extended in the reign of James I. The east and west fronts appear to be the work of the latter reign. They are in the Elizabethan style, and afford a very fine example of the architecture of that period. The east front, which contains the principal entrance, measures 133 feet in length, exclusive of the wings which project at right angles from the tower, forming three sides of a quadrangle. The centre is relieved by a Doric pediment, with cupola-headed turret at each end. Above the pediment rise the family arms. The west front is 131 feet in length, with a low embattled tower at each end. It is similar in style to the east, but is more ornamented, having Doric columns and a pediment surmounted by a military trophy. Along the top runs the monogram of Cuthbert Constable forming the parapet. The mansion is partly of stone and partly of brick, covered with plaster. It stands in a beautiful and well-wooded park, containing 710 acres. The approach from the south-west is through a lofty and spacious gateway with octagonal embattled towers, designed by Wyatt, and erected by William Constable, Esq., in 1786. The ornamental pleasure grounds were originally laid out by "Capability" Brown, but have been much extended since then. The gardens and conservatories, occupying about 12 acres, have been rented for the past 10 or 12 years by Messrs. E. P. Dixon & Sons, nurserymen, Hull, and are under the care of Mr. Thomas Lambert. The circuit of the park and pleasure grounds is nearly six miles. About a quarter of a mile from the mansion is a very fine lake, covering about 16 acres, and crossed by a bridge of five arches. In the widest part is a small wooded island, the resort of swans and wild fowl.

The interior of the mansion is on a scale of grandeur corresponding with the exterior. The entrance hall is 60 feet long by 30 feet broad, and 30 feet high. It contains a beautiful Done chimneypiece with a statue of Hercules and Demosthenes in a niche on either side, and numerous escutcheons, on which are emblazoned the various quarterings of the family arms. The principal drawing-room and chapel occupy the whole extent of the ground floor of the south-west front. The former is 45 feet long by 30 feet broad, and 20 feet high. It is furnished with antique furniture of priceless worth. The chimneypiece of white marble, an exquisite piece of sculpture, representing a Roman marriage, cost, including the grate, 420 guineas. There is a table composed of 200 different specimens of marble. The chapel is in the Classic style, and contains many good paintings. Here is a font which stood in the chapel at Marten before the Reformation. The dining-room, 26 feet long by 24 broad, is in the Ionic style, and the walls are ornamented with medallions, vases, &c., in basso-relieve, exhibiting classical subjects. One room is fitted up throughout in luxurious Chinese fashion. The grand hall and staircase, 49 feet long by 30 broad, and 30 high, are adorned with numerous paintings and some fine statuary. The library, which is entered from the grand staircase, is 110 feet in length, and has attached to it in three recesses, a theatre, a concert room, and a reading room. It is panelled throughout in English oak, and has an elegantly painted ceiling. The bookcases are of knotted elm, highly polished, and contained, previous to the dispersion of the collection, nearly 10,000 volumes, amongst which were many rare and valuable MSS. illustrative of Yorkshire history. This collectien, formed by the late W. Constable, Esq., was recently sold by public auction, at the rooms of Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hedge, London, and realised in the three days' sale £1,618.

The Hall is the seat of Sir Frederick Augustus Talbot Clifford-Constable, Bart., J.P., D.L., but it has not been occupied by that gentlemen since the death of his father in 1872, and dilapidation is consequently making very perceptible progress.

The hamlet of Burton Constable stands about eight miles north-east from Hull, and two-and-a-half miles south-east from the station of its own name, on the Hull and Hornsea branch of the North-Eastern railway.

CONISTON, township contains 602 acres, belonging chiefly to William Wilberforce, Esq.; Mr. Robert Vickerman, Sunk Island; and W. H. Richardson, Esq., Ganstead Grange. The soil is light gravel, and the subsoil clay. Messrs. Dixon & Son have a nursery here covering about 25 acres. The rateable value of the township is £670, and the population in 1891 was 111. The place is mentioned in Domesday Book under the name of Coiningesbi, equivalent in modern English to King's Town, and was probably part of the King's demesne in Saxon times. The village is small, and is situated about six miles north-east from Hull, and about half a mile from Swine station, on the Hull and Hornsea railway. There is a Primitive Methodist chapel here, erected in 1872.

ELLERBY, Alverdebi in Domesday Book, is a township containing 2,247 acres, and 331 inhabitants. Its rateable value is £2,789. Sir Frederick Augustus Talbot Clifford-Constable, Bart., who is lord of the manor; Alfred Bethell, Esq. and the Crown are the principal landowners.

The village is small and scattered, and stands about eight miles north-east from Hull, and one-and-a-half miles from Skirlaugh station, on the Hull and Hornsea railway. A small mission chapel was erected here in 1889, and a school in 1876, for the accommodation of 50 children.

DOWTHORPE, is a hamlet and manor in this township, containing about 400 acres. It formerly belonged to the Langdales; subsequently it passed through many hands, and was purchased by the Crown a few years ago.

LANGTHORPE, or Longthorpe was part of the possessions of the priory of Swine. It afterwards belonged to the Langdales, and passed from them in marriage to the Vavasours, one of whom sold it to Thomas Ward, of Burlington. It is new the property of T. A. Norman, Esq., of Hessle.

OUBROUGH, or Owbrough in this parish, was formerly a grange belonging to the prioress and convent of Swine. In Domesday Book the name is written Ulenburg, which was subsequently corrupted into Wolburgh, and then into Owbrough. The first part of the word may possibly be a personal name; the latter part has several significations, hill, fort, town, clan, and it is difficult to say which is applicable in the present case. Owbrough came into the possession of the Legards, Barts, in the 17th century, and was sold by one of them to the Rev. John Moorhouse, early in the following century. Subsequently it passed by marriage to the Browns, and is now or was very recently in the possession of Miss Brown. Thomas Thompson, Esq., F.S.A., was a native of Owbrough. He was for some years a clerk with Messrs. Wilberforce & Smiths, and afterwards became a partner in the banking house of Messrs. Smiths & Thompson. He devoted a considerable portion of his time to the study of local antiquities, and published "Ocellum Promontorium, or Short Observations on the Ancient State of Holderness," "Historic Facts relative to the Seaport and Market Town of Ravenspurne," "The History of the Church and Priory of Swine," and some tracts on tithes, the maintenance of the poor, and other politico-social questions. He represented Medhurst in three successive parliaments, and died in Paris in 1828.

WOOD HALL, was anciently a manor belonging to the family of St. Quintin, and it afterwards came to the Langdales, by whom it was sold to Joseph Feruley, who married Sarah Maister; subsequently the manor descended to the Maisters, from whom it was purchased by the late Sir T. A. Clifford Constable. The mansion built by Henry William Maister, Esq., in 1814-15, is a handsome edifice in a well-wooded district, and commands extensive prospects.

THIRTLEBY, or THIRKLEBY is a small township in this parish containing 755 acres; the rateable value is £682, and the population 44. The soil is clayey, and the chief crops are wheat, beans, oats, and barley. The Rev. J. H. Torr, Sir F. A. Talbot Clifford-Constable, Bart., Mr. Thomas Stephenson, Hull; the Exors. of Miss Walker, Joshua Crawford, and Robert Vickerman, are the owners of the land. Thirtleby is included in the manor of Woodhall. The hamlet stands seven miles north-east from Hull, and two miles east-by-south from Swine. The impropriate tithes, the property of Viscount Downe, were commuted in 1842 for a rent-charge of £68 18s. 6d.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of East Yorkshire (1892)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1892.

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