Wapentake and Petty Sessional Division of East Hang - Electoral Division and Poor Law Union of Bedale - County Court District of Northallerton - Rural Deanery of East Catterick - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.
This parish lies on the west bank of the river Swale, about midway between Northallerton and Bedale. Its area, including water surface, is 2,092 acres; rateable value, £4,055; and population, 359. The soil varies in different places, but is mostly loam resting on clay, sand, or gravel. About one half of the land is laid down in pasture, and the remainder is arable, producing good crops of wheat, beans, and barley. Henry Mark Gale Coore, Esq., Basil T. Woodd, Esq., Knaresborough; Mrs. Buckle, William Jackson, and John Cundell are the principal landowners, and the first-named gentleman is lord of the manor.
In Domesday Book this place is called Scurveton and Scaruton. At the time of the Conquest Cnut and Torfin held two manors here, but when the Survey was made their lands had been transferred to Picot, one of Earl Alan's men, whose name was written in later times Pygot and Pigot, The manor subsequently passed, probably by marriage, to the Lascelles, and was in the possession of that family when Kirkby's Inquest was taken in 1287. The next owners were the Merkingfields, who held it till the reign of Elizabeth, when Thomas Merkingfield for his participation in the rebellion of the Northern Earls, was executed and his estates forfeited. In 1572 the queen, by letters patent, granted Scruton to Sir Thomas Bowes, who shortly afterward sold the manor and its appurtenances to Thomas Danby, Esq. In 1688 Sir Abstrupus Danby was owner, from whom it was purchased by the Rev. Thomas Gale, D.D., Dean of York. Harriet Gale, eldest daughter and heiress of Henry Gale, Esq., married, in 1816, Colonel F. L, Coore, of Firby, whose grandson is the present owner.
Scruton Hall, at present the residence of G. W. Elliot, Esq., M.P. for the Richmond Division, is a red brick mansion, consisting of a centre and wings. It stands in a beautiful park of 180 acres, enriched with trees and plantations, and is supposed to have been built by the Rev. Thomas Gale, shortly after the purchase of the estate and manor.
The family was of considerable importance in the North and East Ridings in the 16th century. James Gale, the first name in the pedigree, was seated at Thirntoft, near Scruton, in 1523. George Gale, his grandson, was Lord Mayor of York in 1534 and 1546, and from him descended the Gales of Scruton, who possessed lands in the parish long before they became owners of the manor. The Rev. Thomas Gale, D.D., was born here in 1636. He was an eminent Greek scholar, and, in 1666, was appointed Regius Professor of that language in the University of Cambridge. A few years later he was elected to the head mastership of St. Paul's School, London, and, in 1697, was promoted to the deanery of York. He published several learned works, in which he displays great critical acumen and an extensive knowledge of antiquities. He was a member of the Royal Society, and became one of its honorary secretaries. He died at York, in 1702, leaving three sons and a daughter.
Roger Gale, the eldest son, was educated under his father, at St. Paul's School, whence he removed to Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he subsequently became a Fellow. He succeeded to the Scruton estate on the death of his father, and represented the borough of Northallerton in three parliaments. He was the first vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries, and treasurer to the Royal Society. His range of knowledge was most extensive, but it is as an antiquary he is chiefly known. He was not a prolific writer, but whatever came from his pen was always marked by depth of research. His principal works were an edition of his father's "Commentary on Antoninus," and "Registrum Honoris de Richmond." Many papers and letters on antiquarian and historical subjects were written to various literary and scientific journals, in which they appeared. He died at Scruton, in 1744, in his 72nd year, and was buried in the churchyard there, "obscurely, by his own desire." He left, by his wife, Henrietta, daughter of Henry Raper, Esq., of Cowling, one son, Roger Henry, who married Catherine, daughter of Christopher Crowe, Esq., of Kiplin.
Samuel Gale, the dean's youngest son, was educated at St. Paul's School, and afterwards at Cambridge. After his father's death he obtained a situation in the Custom House, London. He was one of the revivers of the Society of Antiquaries, and their first treasurer. He left a valuable collection of MSS. behind him, but printed nothing in his lifetime except a "History of Winchester Cathedral," in 1715. An essay on the Horn of Ulphus, at York, appeared in the archæologia, vol. i., p. 168, and another essay on Cæsar's Passage over the Thames is printed in the same volume. He was never married, and died in London, in 1754, at the age of 72.
The village of Scruton is situated about four miles N.E. of Bedale, and a quarter of a mile from Scruton Station on the Northallerton and Hawes branch of the North Eastern Railway. The church is an ancient stone building in the Early English style, comprising nave, with side aisles and south porch, chancel, and a square embattled tower, in which are three bells and a clock. It was thoroughly restored in 1865, in memory of Henry Vane, Duke of Cleveland, who died in 1864. It was also reseated at the same time with open benches of pitchpine. The total cost was £3,000, which was defrayed by Henry Coore, Esq., and Augusta, his wife. The chancel window is also a memorial of the duke. It is a handsome piece of work by Caproniere, of Brussels, representing the Ascension of our Lord. There was formerly a chantry at the east end of the north aisle, founded by William de Scruton, in 1335. He was probably a member of the family of that name, who held lands in the parish at an early period. The churchyard is entered through a neat lych gate, under which is a lych stone, for resting the coffins on. The church is dedicated to St. Rhadegund, a Thuringian princess, the unwilling wife of the cruel, unfaithful, and voluptuous Chlothair, whose court she quitted at the end of six years, and devoted herself to nursing the sick, serving the poor, and the practice of mortification in the abbey of St. Cross, at Poictiers. She died on the 13th of August, A.D. 587. The dedication is very unusual, there being, we believe, only other two churches in the country named after this saint.
The living is a rectory, in the gift of H. M. G. Coore, Esq., and held since 1857 by the Rev. Peter Whitfield Brancker, M.A., Oxon. Its gross value is £442, derived from the tithe rent-charge, and 80 acres of glebe land, with residence.
The Wesleyan chapel is a plain brick building, converted out of a dwelling in 1879, at a total cost of about £300. It will seat 100 persons, and is in the Bedale circuit.
The Parish school is a brick building, attended by about 60 children. A house for the master is attached. The poor parishioners have about £12 a year, left by several donors.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.