WILBERFOSS: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.


Wapentake of Harthill (Wilton Beacon Division) - County Council Electoral Division of Melbourne - Petty Sessional Division of Wilton Beacon - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Pocklington - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

This parish comprises the townships of Wilberfoss and Newton-upon-Derwent, covering a total area of 3,184 acres. The Derwent forms its western boundary, and on the other sides it is margined by the parishes of Catton, Bishop Wilton, Barmby-on-the-Moor, and Sutton-upon-Derwent. In the township of Wilberfoss there are 1,472 acres of land, of which 1,340 are under assessment. The rateable value is £2,257, and the population in 1891 was 381. The soil is various, but chiefly a light sandy loam, and the crops most generally under cultivation are wheat, oats, barley, turnips, carrots, and seeds. Lord Leconfield, who is also lord of the manor, and Messrs. George Brown, John Saltmarsh, Henry Quarton Gillah, J. W. Coulson, and Aaron Thomas are the principal landowners.

Wilberfoss is included in the manor of Catton, and belonged anciently to the Percys, who sub-infeudated it to the Kymes, and was held of them by a family that took its name from the place. They were settled here from a very remote period, and as early as the reign of Henry II. Ilgerus de Wilberfosse appears in record as serving in the Scottish wars, under Philip de Kyme, into which family he had intermarried. In the testamentary burials, recorded in the Torre MSS., five members of the Wilberforce family are mentioned as having been buried in the church between 1533 and 1598. Their antiquity, however, appears to have been greater than their rent roll, and after a gradual decline in wealth and influence, the estate was sold by William Wilberfoss, Esq., about the middle of last century. From a younger branch of this family, which settled at Beverley and at Hull, was descended William Wilberforce, Esq., the distinguished and eloquent philanthropist.

A Benedictine nunnery was founded here by Alan, son of Helias de Catton, before the year 1153. It was dedicated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin, and was endowed with five oxgangs of land in the township. The parish church was given to the prioress and nuns by Jordan Fitz Gilbert, and in 1234 the grant was confirmed to them by Walter Gray, Archbishop of York. At the dissolution there were in the house a prioress and 12 nuns, whose yearly income was, according to Speed's valuation, £28 8s. 8d. The site was granted to George Gale in 1554, but not a fragment of the conventual buildings now remains above ground. The following particulars have been given of them :- The buildings included a church, in the choir of which there were 16 stalls and three altars; the cloister was on the north side, and was 60 feet square; on the east was the chapter house, 26 feet long and 16 broad, with dorter above. The Priory church, it is said, adjoined the parish church, and the Manor House, an ancient building on the north side of the churchyard, is supposed to occupy a portion of the site.

The village is pleasantly situated on the York and Hull road, at a point where a willow-fringed rivulet crosses it on its way to the Derwent, eight miles east of York, and five miles west-north-west of Pocklington. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is an old edifice of stone and brick, the latter being modern work. It consists of chancel, nave with south aisle, porch, and embattled western tower with pinnacles, containing three bells. The fabric was restored in 1868-9. The nave is divided from the aisle by three pointed arches, springing from massive rough-cut octagonal pillars. The chancel arch is low and wide, and the walls and ceiling covered with plaster. A niche, which once probably contained a statue, remains in the north-west buttress, and an old sepulchral stone forms a step at the entrance to the church. On the floor of the south aisle, but formerly in the nave, is an ancient funeral brass to the memory of Sir Robert de Hoton, Knight, and his wife, with their effigies engraved thereon. Sir Robert died in 1447, and in his will gives his soul to God and his body to be buried in the parish church, then lately built. It appears from Torre's MSS. that Thomas Niksone, who died in 1463, was buried on the north side of the grave of Sir Robert de Hoton "where he began a chantry for him." The registers date from the year 1618. The living is a new vicarage, valued at £83 per annum, including 22 acres of glebe, with residence, and held since 1877 by the Rev. Matthew Henry Smith, M.A., Dublin University. The patronage is vested in Lord Leconfield and three feoffees in right of lands in this parish.

There are chapels in the village belonging to the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists, erected in 1841 and 1872 respectively. The school (mixed), with teacher's house attached, was built in 1873, for the accommodation of 100 children, and has an average attendance of 54.

NEWTON-UPON-DERWENT is a township containing 1,712 acres and 204 inhabitants. It is valued for rating purposes at £2,163. Lord Leconfield (lord of the manor), Petworth House, Sussex; J. R. Haigh, Esq., Blair Hill, Dollar, N.B.; H. Rastall, Esq.; John Sherbourne; John Saltmarsh; Thomas Webster, Stockton on the Forest; J. N. Fowler, Latham Green, near Howden; Thomas Etty; and William Paget are the principal landowners.

The village is situated on the eastern bank of the Derwent, about one mile south of the York and Hull road, and nine miles from the former place. There was in ancient times a chapel here, which was given with the parish church to the prioress and nuns of Wilberfoss, and was confirmed to them by Archbishop Gray in 1234. The only place of worship now in the village is the Wesleyan chapel, which was built in 1817. The poor's land comprises 9 acres 16 poles, part of which was purchased with £40 left by John Horsley in 1719, and the rest, with 12 acres of church land in Wilberfoss, was allotted at the inclosure in 1766. The rent of the church land amounts to about £18 a year, and of the poor's land to £23. The poor have also two or three small annuities,

[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.

Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.