Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of Birdforth - Electoral Division of South Otterington - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Thirsk - Rural Deanery of Northallerton - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.
This is a small and thinly populated parish, lying at the foot of the Hambleton Hills, and abounding with varied and picturesque scenery. The manor is coextensive with the township, containing 1,165 acres, and this, with certain lands at Kepwick, which are charged with a modus of £2 per year to the rector of Cowesby, constitute the parish, the total area of which, according to the Ordnance Survey, is 1,293 acres. Of the 1,165 acres in the township about 820 are under cultivation, the remainder is moorland, woods, intakes and roads. The gross estimated rental is £957; rateable value, £856; and population 97.
The manor is mentioned in Domesday Book under the name of Cahosbi, and then belonged to Hugh, the son of Baldric. A coppice wood is also recorded, probably the parent of the oak wood still to be seen on the hill side, The manor subsequently passed through various hands, and about 1721 came into the possession of the Alstons, of Odell, and is now the property of Thomas William Lloyd, Esq., J.P. and D.L. for the North Riding of Yorkshire.
Cowesby Hall is a large and elegant stone mansion in the Tudor style, erected in 1832 by the late George Lloyd, Esq., from the designs of Mr. Salvin, the eminent architect. It is situated in a bend of the Hambleton Hills, which shelter it on the north and east, whilst south and west the prospect is open and extensive.
The village of Cowesby is situated at the foot of the Hambleton Hills, which environ it on three sides - north, east, and south. It is distant seven miles N. by E. from Thirsk, and 8½ miles S.E. from Northallerton. The Church, dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, is a neat structure of dressed stone, rebuilt, in 1846, on the site of an ancient one which was supposed to be one of the oldest in the district. The designs were prepared by Mr. Salvin, who has adopted the Norman style. It consists of nave and chancel, with tower surmounted by a stunted, slated spire. There are no ancient memorials in the church, which is not a little surprising in a foundation dating from so early a period. But possibly Cowesby was not the chief residence of its early lords, who, at death, were buried in some more favoured spot. The only piece of antiquity that has been retained is the old Saxon font, which is supported by four pillars, and is of elegant design. On the north wall of the chancel is a tablet, bearing the following inscription:- "George Lloyd, Esq., having made a bequest towards the rebuilding of Cowesby church, his widow and children, in compliance with his intentions, and out of regard to his memory, erected this fabric, A.D. 1846, with the aid of the parishioners." Mr. Lloyd died in 1844, and a neat stone monument of the Roman coffin type covers his grave in the churchyard. The two old bells in the tower were recast, and four new ones purchased, in 1878, at the expense of Mrs. Lloyd. She also presented a set of thirteen hand-bells to the ringers. The total cost was something over £500. The living is an ancient discharged rectory, valued in the Valor of Pope Nicholas (1291) at £5 per annum. In the Liber Regis it is rated at £5 11s. 0½d. The present gross income, £150 11s. 6¾d., is thus derived:- from the tithe commutation rent charge, £107 6s. 6½d.; the rectory house and glebe land in Cowesby, £15 5s.; glebe land in Borrowby township, £26; and a modus of £2 per annum, paid by the owner of Kepwick for certain lands in that township, but within the parish of Cowesby. The patronage is vested in the lord of the manor. The rectory is now held by the Rev. John Oxlee, son of the celebrated linguist and biblical scholar of that name. This benefice was formerly a peculiar, under the Bishops of Durham, but is now within the jurisdiction of the archbishops of York, The register dates from 1679.
In the village is a Hospital for the decayed tenants of the manor of Cowesby. It is a low antique building, divided into four cottages. The beneficiaries are four in number, each of whom is entitled to the use of a cottage and garden rent free, and to 50s. a year, payable out of a rent-charge of £10 on the manor of Cowesby. The hospital was founded by Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, who was owner of the estate, and died in 1722. The patronage is vested in the lord of the manor. No pauper is entitled to benefit from this charity, and if a beneficiary receives parish relief he voids and loses the benefit of this hospital.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.