KIRBY WISKE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake of East Gilling - Electoral Division of Topcliffe - Petty Sessional Division of Birdforth - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Thirsk - Rural Deanery of Richmond East - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.

This parish comprises the townships of Kirby-Wiske, Maunby, Newby-Wiske, and Newsham-with-Breckenbrough, the united area of which, according to the Ordnance Survey, is 5,853 acres. The inhabitants, at the census of 1881, numbered 854, most of whom are employed in agricultural labour. The surface is varied, and the soil generally fertile. The Swale margins the parish on the west, and here also, the Wiske empties itself in that river. The main line of the North Eastern railway, and also the Northallerton and Melmerby branch pass within the limits of the parish for a short distance, and on the latter is a station at Newby-Wiske.

The rate books give the following statistics of the township of Kirby-Wiske land under assessment, 1,037 acres, 3 roods, 7 perches; gross estimated rental, £2,045 13s. 9d.; rateable value, £1,832 10s. The principal landowners are the Hon. George Edwin Lascelles, J.P., who purchased the estate and manor, or reputed manor, of Kirby-Wiske from the late Colonel Crompton, in 1867; John Rutson, Esq., Newby-Wiske; exors. of M. Walker, Esq.; and Mr. W. Robinson. The population of the township, in 1881, was 223.

The village is pleasantly situated on the west bank of the Wiske, about four miles W. by N. of Thirsk. From its name of Kirkby we infer the existence of a church here in Saxon times, which, after the Conquest, was replaced by a Norman edifice. In the 14th century, when the Decorated style prevailed, the church was again rebuilt, a circular headed doorway in the north wall of the nave being the only portion of the old structure that was retained. Subsequent alterations were made in the depraved taste of last century, which flattened the chancel roof, modernised the windows, &c. In 1873 it was again thoroughly restored at a cost of about £3,000, which was raised by subscription. The designs were furnished by Mr. Street, architect, London, who, throughout the work, has preserved the spirit and harmony of the original 14th century edifice. The church consists of nave, north and south aisles, chancel, and tower at the west end. The east window, consisting of five lights, is a beautiful specimen of pictorial art from the studio of Cappronier, of Brussels. It was presented by Miss Rutson in 1876, in memory of Roger Ascham. The triple sedilia and piscina still remain in the chancel, and in the wall, beneath a trefoiled recessed arch, is an altar tomb, which has once borne an effigy. To whom it belonged it is impossible to say, as there is neither inscription nor heraldic device to give a clue. Open benches have taken the place of the cumbersome high-backed pews, and an elegant roof, resting on circular ribs, has displaced the flat one in the chancel. The tower is well proportioned, and contains three bells and a clock, the latter presented by the late William Rutson, Esq., in 1868. A good organ, by Abbott & Co., of Leeds, was placed in the church in 1883.

The living is a rectory, in the gift of the Duchess Dowager of Northumberland, and was valued, in the reign of Henry VIII., at £27 16s. 5¼d. It is now worth £643 per annum, which is derived from the commuted tithe rent-charge, and 69 acres of glebe land. The late rector, the Rev. Canon J. J. Pulleine, was presented to the rectory on the death of his father, the Rev. R. Pulleine, in 1868, and in the spring of the year 1888 he was appointed, by the Crown, suffragan to the Bishop of Ripon, and consecrated to the episcopal office by the title of Bishop of Penrith, which, the following year, was changed to that of Bishop of Richmond. His successor is the Rev. Charles Maxwell Woosnam. The Rectory House is a handsome residence, in the Domestic Gothic style, erected, at a cost of about £2,000, by the Rev. R. Pulleine, on his own freehold, and sold to the living after his death.

The Wesleyans have a chapel in the village, a small brick building, erected in 1825.

The church School was built, by subscription, in 1869, chiefly through the indefatigable exertions of the Rev. Canon Pulleine, the site being given by the Hon. G. F. Lascelles.

Sion Hill, the seat of the above gentleman, is a neat mansion, pleasantly situated on an eminence, and surrounded by pretty well-wooded scenery.

About half-a-mile west of the village is a farmhouse, called Danotty Hall, which was formerly the residence of a manufacturer of base coin, named Daniel, or Dan Autie. He was assisted in this illegal work by one Busby, his son-in-law, who, wishing to have the whole business to himself, murdered the old man, for which he was hung in chains near Carlton, in Sand Hutton, in 1702. The spot where the gibbet stood is still called Busby Stoop.

CHARITIES - The poor of the parish receive the rent of 14 acres of land at Bagby, purchased with £150 left by Thomas and Christopher Carter in 1680 and 1688; and also three small rent-charges, bequeathed by persons named Palliser, Ward, and Toes. The following bequests also appear on the Benefaction Board in the church:- Mr. Walker, £5 to the poor of Maunby; and William Walker, the same sum to the poor of Kirby Wiske; Mrs. Gaines and Mr. Vicars, £5 each to the poor of Kirby Wiske.

LOCAL WORTHIES. - Roger Ascham, one of the most eminent scholars and distinguished men of his time, was born at Kirby Wiske in 1515. He was the third son of John Ascham, steward to the ancient family of Scrope, and was educated at Cambridge, of which university he afterwards became professor of Greek. He was classical tutor to Prince Edward and Princess Elizabeth, and afterwards Latin secretary to Edward VI., Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. He was the author of Toxophilus, published in 1544; but his most esteemed work is entitled The Schoolmaster, written in 1563, and published, after his death, by his widow. An excellent edition of this work, by Mr. Upton, appeared in 1711. His Latin epistles have been frequently printed, and are admired for the purity and elegance of their style. His collected works were published in one vol., 4to., by Bennett, in 1769.

Another of Kirby's worthies was Dr. William Palliser, Archbishop of Cashel, who was born here in 1644. He was a man of eminent abilities, and published a funeral oration in Latin, delivered by him at the funeral of Dr. Margetson, Archbishop of Armagh, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dublin. At his death he left £20 for the benefit of the poor of his native parish.

MAUNBY township containing about 1,500 acres, is the property of the Trustees of the late T. S. Walker, Esq., Maunby Hall; John Hutton, Esq., Solberge; and John Rutson, Esq., Newby Wiske Hall, The gross annual value of the land and tenements within the township is estimated at £2,510; the rateable value is £2,226; and the population in 1881 was 205.

The village is situated on the east bank of the Swale, and is distant about 5½ miles S. by W. from Northallerton. A church or chapel-of-ease was erected here in 1871, chiefly at the expense of the landowners. It is a small but neat brick building with accommodation for 75 worshippers. The Wesleyan Methodists and the members of the United Methodist Free Church have places of worship in the village; that belonging to the former was built in 1836, and that of the latter in 1855. The poor of the parish have 18s. a year from the Pick family, near Darlington.

NEWBY WISKE is another township in this parish. It comprises 1,395 acres of fertile land lying along the banks of the Wiske, and is included in the Richmond Parliamentary Division. The principal owners are John Rutson, Esq., J.P., and John Hutton, Esq., J.P. The estimated gross annual rental is £2,955; rateable value, £2,635; and population, 216. The village is distant about five miles S. from Northallerton. A school for girls and infants was erected here in 1860, by the late William Rutson, in memory of Jane Margaret, his youngest daughter. It is a handsome brick building with cut stone facings, and is supported by the Rutson family, school pence and government grant. There are, at present, about 90 names on the books.

The Methodist chapel is a small brick building erected in 1814. A little south of the village is Newby Wiske Hall, the seat and property of John Rutson, Esq., J.P. It is a handsome building in the Italian style of architecture, surrounded by well wooded grounds, and was erected about the time of Charles II. In March, 1858, there was found, under a thorn tree in Wandle field on this estate, a red clay pot containing 270 silver coins of the reigns of Elizabeth, James I., Charles I., and Philip IV. of Spain. The English coins were of the size of our sixpences, shillings, and half-crowns; those of Charles I. were struck at Oxford; the Spanish coins were all dollars, but all were in a good state of preservation. When or under what circumstances the treasure was buried will ever remain a mystery, but the tree beneath which it was found was known to be more than 200 years old.

Sowber Hill, or as the ancient and more correct spelling Solberge is now again adopted, is another good mansion, the seat and property of John Hutton, Esq., J.P., and D.L., and late M.P. for the borough of Northallerton. It was erected in 1824 by the present owner's father, and is surrounded by a park containing a rich growth of wood. Solberge is a distinct manor and is so entered in the Domesday Book.

In the gardens is a great natural curiosity called the Blowing Well, from which, at certain times, strong currents of atmospheric air are emitted, and at other times drawn into the shaft. An outer current prevails whilst the barometer is falling, and an inner one whilst it is rising, and when the "glass" remains stationary for any length of time the current gradually subsides into stillness. There are other two wells in the district which also have similar currents. These effects are supposed to be produced by caverns or subterraneous passages in the magnesian limestone which underlies the red sandstone of the district, and with these cavities the wells probably communicate by fissures through the sandstone. Such is the opinion of Professor Cameron; and Mr. Fairley, F.R.S.E., has shown by experiment with the anemometer at Solberge that the cavity there has a capacity of eleven million cubic feet. From a paper read by the latter gentleman before the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society, we learn that two of the largest meters at liberty in the stock of the Leeds Corporation, were placed to measure, one the inner, the other the outer current, but they were thrown out of gear by the force. Two still larger ones were obtained, capable of passing 3,000 cubic feet per hour, but even these after a time were found insufficient. The results actually obtained with them gave a total capacity of 10 millions of cubic feet, equal to a chamber 217 feet in length and the same in breadth and height. So great is the force of the current, that a buzzer, formed of inverted bottles, placed over a pipe from the well, could be heard at the distance of a mile, and if a flageolet be placed there, and the keys properly fingered, any slow tune may be played.

NEWSHAM-WITH-BRECKENBROUGH forms a township containing 1,869 acres, lying on the east bank of the Wiske, and in the Wapentake of Birdforth. The soil is fertile, and the most improved system of farming is generally adopted. The main line of the N.E. system passes through the township. Gross estimated rental, £7,703; rateable value, £6,611; and population, 210. The following are the principal landowners: Earl Cathcart (who is also lord of the manor); Capt. T. C. Hincks, Breckenbrough House; J. Hutton, Esq., Solberge; The Hon. G. F. Lascelles, Sion Hill; T. 0. I. Pick, Esq., Newsham; G. R. Bullock, Esq., Breckenbrough Grange; John and Henry Rob, Esqrs., Catton Hall; and exors. of the late Thomas Dresser, Esq. The village or hamlet of Newsham stands on the east bank of the Wiske, near its confluence with the Swale, and opposite Kirby Wiske, with which it is connected by a bridge.

The hamlet of Breckenbrough or Breckenborough adjoins Newsham, and was anciently the property of the Lascelles family, one of whom was summoned to parliament among the barons in the 22nd of Edward I., and the following year. They had a castle here in which Sir Thomas Lascelles died in 1619, but every trace of it has disappeared, and its site is now occupied by a farmhouse.

Breckenbrough House, the property and residence of Capt. T. C. Hincks, is a handsome mansion, surrounded by well laid out pleasure grounds and thriving plantations.

Dr. George Hicks, a learned author and divine, was born at Moor House in this village in 1640, and was educated at Northallerton Grammar School. From this establishment he proceeded to Oxford, and was admitted a servitor of St. John's College. In 1664 he was chosen fellow of Lincoln College. He afterwards became chaplain to the Duke of Lauderdale, and received the degree of D.D. from Archbishop Sharp, of St. Andrew's. On his return to England in 1679 he was promoted to a prebend's stall in Worcester Cathedral, and had the degree of D.D. conferred upon him by Oxford University. In 1681 he was appointed chaplain to Charles II., and Dean of Worcester in 1683. When the Revolution of 1688 placed William of Orange on the throne, he refused to do violence to his conscience by taking the oaths, and was deprived of his deanery. He died in 1715.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1890.

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