STOKESLEY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake of Langbaurgh (West Division) - Petty Sessional Division of Langbaurgh West - Electoral Division, County Court District, Poor Law Union, and Rural Deanery of Stokesley - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

The Parish of Stokesley includes, besides the township of its own name, those of Great and Little Busby, Easby, and Newby, comprising an area of 6,391 acres. Ironstone is found in the neighbouring hills, but, so far, the seams have not been either extensively or profitably worked; and the anticipations of a local writer, some thirty years ago, who prognosticated such a wonderful accession of wealth to this "Arcadia the Blest," are as far from realization now as when he penned his glowing lines. In 1821, the population of the parish was 2,290; in 1851, it had risen to 2,446; in 1861, it was 2,401; and in 1881, 2,183. Of this number, 1,801 were returned for the township of Stokesley, the area of which is 1,817 acres, and rateable value £7,172. The principal landowners are Ed. Heneage Wynne-Finch, Esq., J.P. and C.C. (Lord of the Manor); George F. Marwood, John Page Sowerby, Henry Yeoman, A. W. Headlam, and the Executors of the late George Jackson, Esqrs.

Stokesley, we may assume, had risen to some importance in Saxon times; for when Domesday Survey was made, it had its church, priest, and mill. In that invaluable record occurs the first mention of the place, which the Norman scribes have spelt Stocheslaye; and from it we learn that in the time of Edward the Confessor, Hawart had here six carucates of land and three ploughs; and Uctred had one plough, and eight villeins with four ploughs. The whole manor was then valued at £24 (a very considerable sum in those days); but so direful had been the ravages of the Normans that, at the time of the Survey, it was only worth £8. It included within its soke, Skutterskelfe, Ingleby, Broughton, Kirkby, Dromonby, Tanton, and Busby, containing 34 carucates rateable to the gelt. The Conqueror retained the manor in his own hands; but Rufus, his son, about the year 1093, granted it, with other lordships in Yorkshire, Durham, and Northumberland, to Guy Baliol, from whom sprang John Baliol, King of Scotland. It remained in the possession of this family till the time of Hugh Baliol, who gave it as part of the marriage-portion of his daughter Ada, to John Fitz-Robert, Lord Eure, of Warkworth. This Lord Eure obtained a charter from Henry III. in 1223, for a fair to be held at Stokesley on the eve and day of St. Thomas the Martyr; but this has been long abandoned. Lady de Eure survived her husband eleven years, and died here in 1251. Subsequently, Witton Castle, in the County of Durham, became the baronial residence of the line.

The Eures, or Evers, were a line of ancient distinction, and allied with some of the noblest families in the land. They were a martial race, and produced many a doughty warrior who did good work against the Scots on Borderland. Edward I., who reduced Scotland to a dependency, rewarded them for their valiant deeds by a grant of Kitness in that country, supposed to be Thurso, in Caithness; and later, Sir Ralph Eure, whilst Warden of the Marches, performed so many daring exploits against the Scots of Teviotdale, that Henry VIII. gave him a grant of all the lands he could win from them. "Wherefore," says Grose, "he invaded Scotland; but, engaging with the Earl of Arran at Hallydown Hill, was there slain, together with Lord Ogle and many other persons of note."

Stokesley continued in the possession of this family for four centuries, and was sold by William, Lord Eure, to Sir Richard Forster, who was created a baronet by Charles II., in the first year of his exile. Another Sir Richard, grandson of the above, died unmarried, and his sister Mary, wife of William Collingwood, Esq., of Eslington, Northumberland, inherited the estate. This gentleman sold it towards the end of the 17th century to William Peirson, Esq., of the Middle Temple, who, dying unmarried, devised his property to Winifred Langley, his relative. Subsequently, the manor and estate passed by marriage to James Bradshaw, who assumed the name of Peirson, and were sold by the trustees of this gentleman, in 1779, to Thomas Wilkinson, Esq., from whom they were purchased in 1806 by the Rev. Henry Hildyard. Lieut.-Col. Robert Hildyard, his son and successor, dying unmarried in 1854, left this property to his nephew, Major Wynne; who, a few days afterwards, was killed at the battle of Inkerman (November 5th, 1854), and his father, Charles Wynne Griffith-Wynne, succeeded to Stokesley estate as his heir. This gentleman, whose wife was the third daughter of the Rev. H. Hildyard, died in 1865, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles Wynne, who, in 1863, resumed the family surname of Finch. The present owner is his second son.

The Peirson owners were Roman Catholics, and had a chapel near their Manor House, but the bigotted and intolerant spirit of the inhabitants did not always permit them the free and peaceable enjoyment of their religion. A letter to the "Gentleman's Magazine," dated Stokesley, December 27th, 1746, relates an unprovoked and disgraceful attack on the chapel, made by the youth of the town, who were no doubt instigated and encouraged by their elders. "Last Tuesday," says the writer, "a number of Stokesley boys pulled some tiles off Mr. Pierson's mass-house, the damage of which might amount to eleven shillings. The Papists could not see their place of worship thus insulted without resenting it; therefore got a warrant from Mr. Skottowe against one of the boys, (a sailor) who had been the most active in the affair. The constables apprehended the boy the next day; upon which his associates were called together to the number of near two hundred, and being joined by some young fellows, marched in order, (with drums beating and colours flying) to Mr. Skottowe's, at Great Ayton, and declared to him, that they all acknowledged themselves equally guilty with the boy charged with the fact. Mr. Skottowe could not forbear laughing at them; however, after giving them a gentle reprimand, he dismissed them, recommending it to the Papists to put up with the damage. Upon this the boys went to Ayton, beating up for volunteers for his Majesty's service, and enlisted about thirty or forty boys; then marched to Stokesley Cross, fixed their colours upon it, and made large coal fires about it, the spectators all wondering what were their intentions to act next. When they had completed the fires, they marched in a full body to the mass-house, got upon it, stripped off all the tiles, and beat down the ceiling; from whence they let themselves down into the chapel, pulled it all to pieces, and tossed the things out of the windows into the yard, where they had placed a guard to secure them. When they had got everything out, not even sparing the doors and wainscot, they marched with their booty to the market cross, and set the things around the fires; then one of them put on a fine vestment and cap, with a mitre in his hand, and mounted the cross, called them all around him, and made them a speech, in the conclusion of which he told them, that in consideration of the great service they had done to their king and country, in destroying the mass-house that day, he presumed, from the great authority he was then invested with, to absolve them from all their past sins; but exhorted them for the future to lead a peaceful and godly life; upon which they gave a great huzza, - God save King George, and down with the Mass! then he put off his robes, and threw them into the fire; at the same time each hand was employed in burning the rest of the things laid ready for the flames; after which they dispersed, and went to their respective homes."

The town is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Leven, in the neighbourhood of some beautiful scenery. It is about 1½ miles distant from the railway station, 10 from Stockton, and 16 from Northallerton. A Market is held on Saturdays; Fairs for the sale of cattle on the Saturdays preceding Palm and Trinity Sundays; and Hirings for servants on the Saturday before May day and Martinmas. In the days of hand-loom weaving, the linen manufacture was carried on here to a considerable extent, and in 1823, a flax spinning mill was erected by an enterprising townsman, but after the introduction of machinery and the establishment of the factory system, these trades could only be carried on profitably in populous centres. Petty Sessions are held every alternate Saturday, in the Town Hall, and a County Court every month. Stokesley gives name to an Electoral Division under the Local Government Act of 1888. The Town Hall, in the centre of the town, is a handsome stone structure in the Italian style, erected in 1853, at the sole expense of Colonel R. Hildyard, whose portrait, painted by Sir J. W. Gordon, R.A., and purchased by subscription at a cost of £500, adorns the Court Room.

The church (S.S. Peter and Paul) was rebuilt in 1771, and like most of the ecclesiastical structures erected during that and the preceding century, it does not possess any striking architectural merit, and was in all probability much inferior to the one it replaced, both in design and execution. It comprises nave, chancel, and embattled tower. It was thoroughly restored a few years ago, when the unsightly galleries were removed, the flat ceiling replaced by a circular roof, and the ugly box pews superseded by open benches. The style of the church is Norman, The east window is a stained glass memorial of the Hildyard family, and the one on the north side of the chancel, representing S.S. Peter and Paul, was inserted by Mrs. Ledger, in memory of her son, the Rev. F. D. Ledger, Rector of the parish from 1872 to 1883. The four tall round headed windows on each side of the nave, formerly plain and sashed, were filled with cathedral glass and leaded, in 1883, by subscription, and two years later a peal of six bells was placed in the tower at a cost of nearly £400. In commemoration of the Queen's Jubilee, in 1887, a new clock with four dials was erected by public subscription.

The Church is an ancient rectory, and was given by Guy de Baliol in 1130, to St. Mary's Abbey, York, but no appropriation of the tithes was ever made. At the dissolution of monasteries, the patronage was transferred to the Archbishop of York, with whom it remains. The tithes have been commuted; those of Stokesley with Tanton for £330, of Great Busby for £201, of Little Busby for £73, of Newby for £175; and of Easby for £170. There are also about 70 acres of glebe land. The living is valued at £900, and is held by the Rev. Canon Wright, Rural Dean.

A small Cemetery, half an acre in extent, was laid out and consecrated in 1851, at Lady Cross, and an acre was added to it in 1877.

The Wesleyan Chapel is a handsome edifice, built on the site of the old Black Swan Hotel, and opened for divine service on the 6th of January, 1887. It is in a mixed style of architecture, but the elaborate stone front, which presents a striking appearance from the street, is chiefly Gothic. The interior is beautifully finished and furnished in pitch pine varnished. The rostrum and communion table with orchestra behind, produce a beautiful and pleasing effect upon the eyes of the worshippers. The body of the chapel will seat upwards of 300 persons, and the gallery nearly 100. Behind the chapel is the Sunday School with two class rooms, and beyond this the minister's residence with garden in front. The total cost was a little over £5,000, towards which Wm. Mewburn, Esq., Wykeham Park, Banbury, whose early days were spent in Stokesley, contributed the very handsome sum of £3,038. The old chapel, built in 1812, was sold, and is new converted into a brewery. The Congregational Chapel built in 1809, is a plain, unpretentious looking structure, situated in an out-of-the-way part of the town. There were meetings of Independents held in the town prior to the erection of this chapel, but no regular church was formed, or minister stationed in the place. At present the cause is under the superintendence of the minister of Great Ayton, the Rev. E. H. Reynolds - who preaches on Sunday afternoons and during the week - the Sunday evening services being taken by laymen.

The Primitive Methodist Chapel is a plain brick building with dwelling-house on the ground floor, and chapel above. It was erected in 1835, at a cost of £264. Stokesley is the head of the circuit, which embraces Hutton Rudby, Ayton, Chopyat, Scugdale, Faceby, Broughton, Battersby Junction, and Newby.

The Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Joseph, is a small edifice erected in 1873. The mission was re-established in 1860, and previous to that time there had been no resident priest since the manor passed from its last Catholic owners, towards the end of last century.

The Grammar School was founded by John Preston, Esq., who died in 1814, and left the sum of £2,000 for the purpose. The validity of the bequest was disputed by the next of kin, and the interest of the capital was allowed to accumulate till 1833, when the trustees, having obtained possession of the old school-house erected by subscription in 1734, rebuilt and re-opened it on the liberal plan laid down by the founder. There are twelve free scholars who are elected by competition from either the Board or Grammar schools. The Rector, Lord of the Manor, Overseers, and Churchwardens, are ex officio trustees, and other four are elected.

The Board School is a large two-storey building, originally erected by subscription as a National school, and transferred to the School Board on the formation of that body in 1875. A new Infants' room was added in 1877. There is a total accommodation for 320 children, and an average attendance of 230.

The Parish Library, containing upwards of 1,000 volumes, was established in 1845, and is free to all inhabitants of the parish. The expenses are defrayed by voluntary subscriptions.

Stokesley Poor Law Union extends over an area of 80,846 acres, and embraces a population of 12,009. It comprises 33 parishes and townships, viz. :- Bilsdale Midcable, Carlton, Castle-Leavington, Crathorne, Easby, East Rounton, Faceby, Great Ayton, Great and Little Broughton, Great Busby, High Worsall, Hilton, Hutton, Ingleby Arncliffe, Ingleby Greenhow, Kildale, Kirby, Kirklevington, Little Ayton-with-Tunstall, Little Busby, Low Worsall, Middleton, Newby, Nunthorpe, Picton, Potto, Rudby, Seamer, Sexhow, Skutterskelfe, Stokesley, Whorlton, and Yarm. The Workhouse is a neat brick building, with stone dressings, and pleasantly situated a little out of the town, on the Stockton road. It was erected in 1848, and has accommodation for 104 paupers. The average number in the house during the past year was 45.

Tanton, or Tameton, is a hamlet in this township consisting of a few farms, and takes its name from the river Tame, near which it is situated. The manor anciently belonged to the Mowbrays, subsequently it was held by a family which took its name from the place. The lands are now divided, and the manorial rights are claimed by the several owners.

BUSBY, GREAT AND LITTLE, are two adjoining townships, the former containing 1,404 acres and 98 inhabitants, and the latter 705 acres and 33 inhabitants. They were, anciently, one undivided estate and manor, which was granted by the Conqueror to Robert de Brus, and afterwards passed by marriage to the family of De Ros. Some lands here were granted by the early proprietors to the abbeys of Rievaulx and Fountains. The principal landowners at present are G. F. Marwood, F. E. C. Dobson, Christopher Masterman, and Philip Braithwaite, Esqrs.

Busby Hall, the seat of G. F. Marwood, Esq., is pleasantly situated in Little Busby. It stands in a spacious park, which is closed in on the south by the Cleveland Hills, In the grounds are some fine specimens of the Indian and black cedars, Wellingtonia, &c., and on the lawn is a magnificent specimen of the Spanish chestnut, which covers one-fifth of an acre, and is supposed to be about 300 years old. The Marwoods have been seated here more than 250 years. George Marwood, Esq., high sheriff of Yorkshire in 1651, was created a baronet by Charles II., but after four descents the title became extinct. Anne, daughter of Sir George Marwood, the first baronet, married William Metcalfe, Esq., of Northallerton and Sand Hutton, and her great grandson, William Metcalfe, subsequently inherited the estate, and assumed the name of Marwood. He was succeeded by his brother, the Rev. Geo. Metcalfe-Marwood, canon of Chichester, whose great grandson is the present owner.

The rateable value of Great Busby is £1,507, and of Little Busby, £662.

EASBY township comprises 1,210 acres, and is valued, for rating purposes, at £1,248. The inhabitants number 136.

The manor was granted soon after the Conquest to the Baliols, from whom it passed to the Eures, with which family it remained till the death of the last Lord Eure, whose daughter, Elizabeth, conveyed the estate in marriage to William Kay, Esq. Subsequently it passed through the families of Walker, Matthews, Lee, and Campion, and is now the property of James Emerson, Esq., J.P., who is lord of the manor and principal landowner in the township.

Easby Hall, the seat of Mr. Emerson, is a handsome modern mansion erected on the site of the old hall of the Eures, and picturesquely seated at the foot of a lofty eminence, on the summit of which is a handsome obelisk, erected by Robert Campion, Esq., in 1827, to the memory of Captain Cook, the celebrated navigator.

Near the hall is the small scattered village of Easby, which stands on the bank of the Leven, about 3½ miles E. of Stokesley. The Church is a neat edifice, in the pointed Gothic style, rebuilt by Mr. Emerson in 1881, in memory of his wife, who died in 1880, and rests in the mausoleum adjoining. It consists of nave, chancel, tower, with wooden spire, and is seated for 75 persons. Service is held every Sunday, by the Vicar of Great Ayton or his curate, to which living it was annexed in 1880.

The Wesleyan Methodists have also a chapel in the village, which was built in 1842, and will accommodate 100 worshippers.

Many of the farmhouses in the township are picturesque old buildings, dating from the early part of last century.

NEWBY township comprises 1,255 acres, and is partly in the parish of Seamer. The surface is very uneven, there being scarcely a level field in the whole township. The substratum is red sandstone, the geological formation in which rock salt is usually found, and here it is supposed to be more available for working than at Middlesbrough. The rateable value of the township is £1,161, and the population 115.

The manor of Newby formerly belonged to the Meynells, from whom it passed by marriage to the Darcys, and thence to the Conyers. In was purchased in 1760, by the Earl of Egremont, and has descended to the present Lord Leconfield, but C. H. F. Bolckow, Esq., is the principal landowner.

The village occupies a low swampy situation in a cup-like hollow about 3 miles N. of Stokesley. A School Mission Room was built here in 1886, chiefly through the exertions of W. R. Fawcett, Esq., of Stainton Grange. There is also a chapel belonging to the Wesleyans, built in 1826.

[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.