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Since Pickering was the law court where many Farndales were tried, this webpage also provides a summary of medieval Farndale lawbreakers.





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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB




The Farndales of Pickering


The Farndales associated with Pickering were:


Thomas and Richard of Farndale (FAR00023), excommunicated for stealing at Pickering Castle


Robert of Farndale (FAR00024), fined for poaching at Pickering Castle in 1332


John de Farndale (FAR00026), released from excommunication at Pickering Castle on 9 Apr 1324


Eln Farndale (FAR00068). Eln moved across the North Yorks Moors to Pickering


Richard Farndale (FAR00234)


Lucy Farndale (FAR00282)


Mary Farndale (FAR00298)






When William the Conqueror claimed the crown of England after defeating King Harold and his Saxons at the Battle of Hastings, the north of the country rose in revolt. William's response was swift and ferocious; his armies laid waste to the north of England, destroying crops, razing villages, and decimating the population. It was said that the pall of smoke rising from the north could be seen in London.


This was William's Harrying of the North, and it left the land devastated for generations and crushed any hint of rebellion from the local population.


But William wanted to make sure that the north stayed under control, and one of the ways he did that was to establish strongly fortified castles throughout the region.


Pickering Castle was one of these, a royal castle erected either during the Harrying of the North or shortly after, probably beginning in 1069. It was erected on a hilltop site overlooking Pickering Brook, on the main route between Helmsley and Scarborough on the coast.


There are two unusual features to Pickering Castle. The first is simply that it has been so little altered since the original wooden castle was rebuilt in stone. The second unusual feature is the layout of the site.


Most early Norman castles followed a similar motte and bailey plan, with a timber palisade atop a high mound, or motte. The base of the motte was surrounded by a large earthwork enclosure, usually with a further timber palisade on top of the earthen banks. This enclosed area was called the bailey.


At Pickering the layout is different; there is not one bailey but two, and the motte with its stone keep stands between the two. The motte is striking, standing 20 metres high, with a base 60 metres in diameter.




In early 1068 northern England ignited into rebellion against William I. To suppress the revolt the Normans embarked on the 'Harrying of the North', a punitive campaign during the Winter of 1069/70 aimed at destroying all farms and settlements between York and Durham. After this devastation, William seized huge swathes of territory across Yorkshire and built castles to secure the newly conquered lands. Pickering was chosen for one of these fortifications due to its strategic location with roads running north/south between Whitby and Malton and east/west between Scarborough and Northallerton. This made it a key nodal point and accordingly construction of the castle occurred in late 1069 or early 1070 whilst the Norman campaign was still underway. Although its primary role was invariably to suppress internal resistance against the Normans, it also served as an anchor against any Danish incursion and/or Scottish expansionism. The latter was particularly important as England and Scotland had yet to settle the matter of ownership of the Earldom of Northumbria.


Pickering Castle was initially an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. It was raised on the eastern banks of the Pickering Beck which provided strong natural defences. The motte, which would have been topped with a wooden palisade, was surrounded by a deep ditch. To the west, sandwiched between the motte and the slope down to the beck, was the bailey which would have hosted the Great Hall and ancillary buildings. The outer bailey was located to the east.


There is no record of what role, if any, Pickering Castle played during the Anarchy, the civil war between Stephen and Matilda over the English succession. However, on the other side of Pickering Beck is an earthwork fortification known as Beacon Hill. Although yet to be precisely dated, this is generally presumed to be a siege-work dating from this conflict. The extent and outcome of the siege is unknown.


Significant modifications were made to Pickering Castle in three distinct phases during the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The first of the upgrades was made by Henry II who replaced the former timber palisade on top of the motte with a stone shell keep between 1180 and 1187. He also constructed Coleman Tower, a formidable gateway into the Inner Bailey. A second phase of construction occurred between 1207 and 1210 during the reign of King John. However, it was the third phase of upgrades that was the most extensive. This was initiated in 1218 by the government of Henry III who sought to secure the north after the end of the First Barons' War. Under the direction of Geoffrey de Nevill, Sheriff of Yorkshire the curtain walls of both the Inner Bailey and the shell keep were rebuilt and strengthened although the defences of the Outer Bailey remained in timber. Geoffrey also made substantial upgrades to Scarborough Castle and York Castle at this time which, when paired with Pickering, facilitated complete control of Eastern Yorkshire.


In 1255 responsibility for maintaining Pickering Castle shifted from the Sheriff of Yorkshire to the King's Justiciar, Roger Bigod. He still had control of the castle in 1264 upon the outbreak of the Second Barons' War and prepared Pickering and Scarborough castles for action. However the death of Simon de Montfort, the rebel leader, at the Battle of Evesham (1265) defused the war and there is no record of the castle ever being attacked (although the aforementioned Beacon Hill siege-work may date from this period).


Henry III granted Pickering Castle to his younger son, Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster in 1267. When he died in 1296 the castle passed to his son, Thomas whose marriage to Alice de Lacy brought vast estates into the Earldom of Lancaster. Thomas used his power and wealth to challenge Edward II and was key in engineering the downfall of the King's favourite, Piers Gaveston. Thomas further opposed Edward when he refused to march north with him on the campaign that ended in the decisive English defeat at Bannockburn in 1314. The aftermath of that battle destabilised the north of England as Robert the Bruce of Scotland led his forces into Cumbria, Northumberland and Yorkshire attempting to force Edward II to recognise an independent Scotland. This prompted Thomas to make improvements to Pickering Castle both for defensive purposes and to make it a suitable residence for himself and his wife. However, Thomas continued to have a stormy relationship with the King and entered into open rebellion against him in 1321 only to be defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge (1322). Edward II, keen to avenge the harsh treatment meted out to Piers Gaveston, imprisoned him at Pontefract Castle and had him executed there in March 1322. Pickering, along with all other estates of the Earldom of Lancaster, were seized by the Crown.


With war still raging between Edward II and Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland, the latter invaded northern England again in 1322 hoping to bring the English King to terms. Pickering must have been a tempting target but bribes were paid to the Scots to leave the castle and town untouched. Nevertheless, Edward II funded upgrades to Pickering Castle and this included rebuilding the curtain walls of the outer bailey in stone.


Following the accession of Edward III in 1326, Pickering Castle was restored to the Lancastrian dynasty when Henry, brother of the executed Earl, was granted the title of Earl of Lancaster. His son, another Henry, was created Duke of Lancaster and through his daughter, Blanche, it passed by marriage to Edward III's third surviving son, John of Gaunt. His own son, Henry Bolingbroke, was exiled by Richard II and later dispossessed prompting him to invade. Passing by Pickering Castle on his way to intercept the King, he ultimately forced Richard to abdicate and took the Crown himself. The newly created Henry IV granted the Duchy of Lancaster to his son, Henry of Monmouth. When he became Henry V the Duchy reverted to the Crown albeit run as a separate entity.


The use of the castle was in decline by the late fifteenth century although it served periodically as accommodation for royalty who used the adjacent forest for hunting deer and wild boar. However, the defences were neglected and it took no part in the Wars of the Roses. By the Tudor period it was being plundered for its materials and quickly descended into ruin. Although in no fit state to be garrisoned during the seventeenth century Civil War, it was seized by Parliament after the conflict along with the rest of the Duchy of Lancaster. It was returned to Charles II upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 but the castle was never rebuilt and, with the exception of the chapel, it remained an abandoned ruin until taken into the care of the Office of Works in 192

The line up of the Farndales who were punished at Pickering Castle


There is reference to Peter de Farndale (FAR00008), whose son Robert (FAR00012) was fined at Pickering Castle in 1293.  Robert son of Peter de Farndale, (see FAR00008), was outlawed for hunting in the forest in 1293. Roger milne (miller) of Farndale (FAR00013A), also son of Peter (FAR00008) below together with Walter Blackhous and Ralph Helved, all of Spaunton on Monday in January 1293, killed a soar and slew a hart with bows and arrows at some unknown place in the forest. All outlawed on 5th April 1293. (Say Roger 28 at the time then he was born about 1265).


Robert (see FAR00031) was fined at Pickering Castle in 1332.


Thomas (FAR00023) and Richard of Farndale (FAR00016), excommunicated for stealing at Pickering Castle on 12 Aug 1316. (Say Thomas age 25 at the time and Richard 41 then Thomas was born about 1291 and Richard about 1275). Sentence of Excommunication; ‘To the Most Serene Prince, his Lord Edward by the Grace of God, King of England, illustrious Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine, his humble and devoted clerks, the Reverend Dean and Chapter of the Church of St Peter, York; custodians of the spiritualities of the Archbishopric while the See is vacant; Greetings to him to serve whom is to reign for ever. We make known to your Royal Excellency by these presents that John de Carter, William of Elington, Adam of Killeburn, John Porter, Hugh Fullo, Peter Fullo, John of Halmby, Adam Playceman, John Foghill, Thomas Thoyman, Robert the Miller, Adam of the Kitchen, Richard Mereschall, John Gomodman, John Wallefrere, Alan Gage, Henry Cucte, Nicholas of the Stable, John the baker, Adam of Craven, John son of Imanye, Michael of Cokewald, Thomas of Morton, John of Westmerland, Thomas of Bradeford, Adam of Craven, John of Mittelhaue, John called Lamb, William Cowherd, Simon of Plabay, William the Oxherd, Henry of Rossedale, John of Carlton, Peter of Boldeby, Thomas of Redmere, Walter of Boys, William of Fairland, John of Skalton, John of Thufden, Henry the Shepherd’s boy, John of Foxton, Thomas of Farndale, John of Ampleford, John Boost, Roger of Kerby, John of Stybbyng, William of Carlton, Richard of Kilburn, Adam Scot, Peter of Gilling, John of Skalton, Stephen of Skalton, Richard of Farndale, Richard of Malthous, John the Oxherd, Robert of Rypon, Walter of Fyssheburn, Adam of Oswadkyrke, William of Everley, Hugh of Salton, William Robley, William of Kilburn, Geoffrey the Gaythirde, John of the Loge, Robert of Faldington, Nicholas of Wasse, William of Eversley, Robert of Habym, John of Baggeby and William Boost, our Parishioners, by reason of their contumacy and offence were bound in our authority by sentence of greater excommunication, and in this have remained obdurate for 40 days and more, and have up to now continued in contempt of the authority of the Church. Wherefore we beseech your Royal Excellency, in order that the pride of these said rebels may be overcome, that it may please you to grant Letters, according to previous meritorious and pious custom of your Realm, so that the Mother Church may, in this matter, be supported by the power of Your Majesty. May God preserve you for His Church and people.’ Given at York 12 August 1316.


Robert (FAR00024) son of Peter of Farndale, fined for poaching at Pickering Castle in 1332.


Robert (FAR00031) son of Simon the miller of Farndale, (FAR00021), and Robert son of Peter of Farndale, (FAR00008), were fined for poaching at Pickering Castle in 1332. (If both Robert son of Simon was 25 at the time then he was born about 1307. This means his father, Simon was 55 which fits. If Robert son of Peter was 40 at the time then he was born about 1292 (FAR00024) when his father would be 54 which fits. (Patent Rolls) Robert son of Simon de Farndale (FAR00021), outlawed with others for hunting a hart in the forest in 1332. (He would be 25 at the time which could fit). (NRRY Vol II) ‘Pleas held at Pickering on Monday 13 Mar 1335 before Richard de Willoughby and John de Hambury. The Sheriff was ordered to summon those named to appear this day before the Justices to satisfy the Earl for their fines for poaching in the forest of which they were convicted before the Justices by the evidence of the foresters, venderers and other officers. They did not appear and the Sheriff stated that they could not be found and are not in his bailiwick and he had no way of attacking them. He was therefore ordered to seize them and keep them safely so that he could produce them before the Justices on Monday 15 Mar 1335. A long list of names follows including……Robert filium Simonis de Farndale, (this Note 31) Rogerum de milne de Farndale, Robertum, filium Petri de Farndale,( FAR00024)…………’ (NRRY Vol III)

An appeal against Adam de Farndale (FAR00025), in 1320. (Say he was 25 at the time then he was born about 1295). (Patent Rolls). The Commission of Oyer and Terminer to John de Doncastre, John de Barton and Adam de Hoperton touching on appeal in the County of York by Agnes, late wife of John de Maunby against Adam de Farndale for the death of her husband on 21 Sep 1320. (Say Adam was 25 at the time then he was born about 1295). (Patent Rolls). ‘At Pickering before the Sheriff of York in 1323, on Friday after the translation of St Thomas last, Adam son of Simon the miller of Farndale, (21), Richard the son of John the miller three unknown men came to the place ‘Petrenedle’ and there took two hinds and when they were proclaimed by the foresters they left one hind which the foresters carried the other way with them...(long list of other offenders)...... The King orders the Sheriff to take with him John de Rithre and to arrest the aforesaid men and deliver them to John de Kyltynton, Keeper of Pyckeryng Castle whom the King ordered to receive them and to keep them in prison until further orders.’ Was this the same Adam de Farndale, who would be 28 at the time which would fit? (Close Rolls)


John de Farndale (FAR00026), released from excommunication at Pickering Castle on 9 Apr 1324. (Not sure to be this John, but no other is recorded at this time). (Patent Rolls). Text of Release From Excommunication; ‘To the Most Serene Prince, His Lord Edward, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine, William by Divine permission Archbishop of York, Primate of England, Greetings in him to serve who is to reign for ever. We make known to Your Royal Excellency, by these presents that William de Lede of Saxton, John of Farndale and John Brand of Howon, our Parishioners, lately at our ordinary invocation, according to the custom of your Realm, were bound by sentence of greater excommunication and, contemptuous of the power of the Church, were committed to Your Majesty’s Prison for contumacy and offences punishable by imprisonment; and have humbly done penance to God and to the Church, wherefore they have been deemed worthy to obtain from us in legal form the benefit of absolution. May it therefore please Your Majesty that we re-admit the said William, John and John to the bosom of the Church as faithful members thereof and order their liberation from the said prison. May God preserve you for His Church and the people.’ Given at Thorpe, next York, 9 April 1324.


John de Farndale (FAR00026), bail by him for poaching, given at Pickering before Richard de Wylughby and John de Hainbury on Monday 2 Dec 1336.


On 2 Dec 1336 fines received at Pickering before Sir Richard de Wylughby and John Hainbury for payment of bail for poachers…..list of names including John de Farndale (FAR00026). (Say age 38 at the time then he was born about 1298). (Yorkshire Fines)



Other law breakers


Richard de Farndale (FAR00016), excommunicated for stealing in 1316. (See FAR00023 for text of instrument of excommunication.


Roger (FAR00028) was bailed by Nicholas Farndale, (see FAR00022) for poaching in 1344 and in 1345. Roger de Farndale, son of Gilbert of Farndale, (FAR00018), bailed by Nicholas de Farndale, (FAR00022), for poaching in1334 and 1335.


From sureties of persons indicted for poaching and for not producing persons so indicted on the first day of the Eyre Court in accordance with the suretieship due to Richard Drye. There follows a long list of names including,…..1s 8d from Roger son of Gilbert of Farndale (see FAR00028), bail from Nicholas de Farndale, (FAR00022), 2s from William the smith of Farndale, (FAR00009) 3s 4d from John the shepherd of Farndale, (FAR00010), and 3s 4d from Alan the son of Nicholas de Farndale. (FAR00011).


Nicholas of Farndale (FAR00022), gave bail for Roger son of Gilbert of Farndale (see FAR00028) who had been caught poaching in 1334 and 1335.


In 1310, Nicholas de Harland of Farndale was fined because his cattle had strayed in the forest (North Riding records). In 1327, . Walter de Harland of Farndale paid tax of 3 shillings , while the Lord of the Manor paid 5 shillings. About 1600, there is mention of a Gregory Harland of Farndale. " See FAR00034.


On 10 Dec 1384, At Westminster. Commission of Oyer and Terminer. John Farndale (FAR00042A) and others broke their close, houses and hedges at Wittonstalle and Fayrhils, Co Northumberland and seized 30 horses, 20 mares, 100 oxen and 100 cowes valued at £200 and carried them off with goods and chattels, assaulted his men, servants and tenants and so threatened them that they left his service.     On 21 Aug 1385 at Durham. Commission of Oyer and Terminer….John Farndale, and others broke their close, houses and hedges at Wittonstalle and Fayrhils, Co Northumberland.’     On 2 May 1445 at Westminster…..for not appearing before William Babynton and his fellows when impleaded with Richard Coke of Cokewald, Co York…. Lawrence Hoggeson of Farndale and John Farndale of Stillyngton Co Durham, wright, to answer Thomas Bishop of Durham touching trespass.


7 May 1370, Westminster. Pardon to William Farndale (FAR00047A) of Caleys of the King's suit for the death of John de Spaldyngton, whereof he is indicted or appealed, and of any consequent outlawry.


20 November 1372 - At Westminster. Commission of Oyer and Terminer. John porter of Farndale ….Hugh Bailey of Farndale. Adam Bailley of Farndale…..caught hunting (see FAR00048).


19 April 1396 - Pardon to Robert de Wodde of Farndale (FAR00053) , for the death of John Hawlare of Kirby Moorseved, killed there on Monday, the eve of the Purification in the 18th year.





The darker side of medieval life is also portrayed at Pickering. Exceptionally well-preserved medieval manacles from Pickering are going on display, a token of the treatment meted out to those who transgressed the King’s Law.


Trespassers or poachers in the Royal Forest of Pickering were hauled back to the castle and could have their eyes gouged out and their foreheads branded

 Pickering Castle







































Punishment at Pickering Castle