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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB





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The Farndales of Skelton


The Doncaster Kirkleatham Skelton Line are the descendants of Nicholas farndaile (FAR00059). The Skelton 1 Line are the descendants of William Farndale (FAR00071).


Other Farndales associated with Skelton are: Mar Farndale (FAR00084); William Farndale (FAR00093); George Farndale (FAR00113); William Farndale (FAR00123); William Farndale (FAR00125); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00139); William Farndale (FAR00142A); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00155); George Farndale (FAR00156); William Farndale (FAR00157); Mary Farndale (FAR00164); Ann Farndale (FAR00165); John Farndale (FAR00167); John Farndale (FAR00168); Mary Farndale (FAR00185); Grace Farndale (FAR00189); Mary Farndale (FAR00202); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00204); John Farndale (FAR00217); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00235); Anna Farndale (FAR00242); Hannah Farndale (FAR00245); Harriet Farndale (FAR00249); Hannah Farndale (FAR00250); Martin Farndale (FAR00264); William Masterman Farndale (FAR00312); Thomas Farndale (FAR00317); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00319); Teresa Farndale (FAR00325); Annie Maria Farndale (FAR00334); John George Farndale (FAR00337); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00345); William Farndale (FAR00356); Martin Farndale (FAR00364); John Farndale (FAR00376); Matthew Farndale (FAR00383); Charles Masterman Farndale (FAR00429); Margaret Ann Farndale (FAR00522); William Farndale (FAR00625); and Dorothy Annie Farndale (FAR00668).




Skelton or Skelton-in-Cleveland is a small town in the civil parish of Skelton and Brotton in the borough of Redcar and Cleveland in the North East. The town lies within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire and is governed by the unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland. It is situated at the foot of the Cleveland Hills and about 16 km east of Middlesbrough.


Sceltun, Scheltun (eleventh cebntury); Scelton (twelfth century); Sceltona, Scheltona, Skeltona (thirteenth century); Skolton (fourteenth century).


Skelton is made up of North Skelton, Skelton Green and New Skelton.


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Skelton Timeline


7,000 BCE


Skeletons of wild ox and deer have been found in peat bogs just a few miles from Skelton and have been dated’ to around this time.


4,000 BCE


Many burial sites or howes on the hills around Skelton provide the first real evidence of humans in these parts.


Anglo Saxon


It is thought that the people buried at Hob Hill in the Anglo Saxon period were outlying settlers of the Anglo Saxon region called Deira and spent their lives in the Skelton area, possibly using Skelton beck as a water supply.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: In the reign of Edward the Confessor Uctred had a 'manor' and 13 carucates at Skelton which in 1086 were held of the Count of Mortain by Richard. They afterwards became part of the Brus fee and followed the descent of Danby until the division in 1272 of the lands of the third Peter de Brus, when the castle and manor of Skelton with five knights' fees passed to Walter de Fauconberg and his wife Agnes.


The Domesday Book entry records 12 villagers; 7 ploughlands. 1 lord’s plough teams. 3 men’s plough teams. Meadow – 20 acres. Woodland 2 furlongs mixed measures. The whole manor 5 miles long and 2 broad. Annual value to Lord: 16s in 1086; £2 in 1066. The Normans had lain waste many areas of the North and the 16s taxable value of Skelton as compared to 40s prior to 1066 is taken to indicate the extent to which the village was on the receiving end of this subjugation. Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Count Robert of Mortain. Lord in 1086: Richard (of Sourdeval).

Lord in 1066: Uhtred.




A Royal Charter granted Robert De Brus the Lordship of Annandale in Scotland. This came about either because Robert De Brus, was a friend and supporter of David, the Scottish king or that his second son, also called Robert, married the heiress to Annandale. Thus began the chain of events which would see his direct successor, Robert the Bruce, take the throne of Scotland two hundred years later.


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There is a story that Robert De Brus the younger, of Annandale, fought on the side of the Scots king and was taken prisoner by his own father, Robert De Brus of Skelton. According to the Chivalry of the time he was handed over to the king before being returned to his parents.




Skelton castle was established as the principal seat of the de Brus family early in the 12th century. The castle is thought to have been built around 1140 and was lived in by 8 generations of the de Brus family until the death of Peter de Brus III in 1272. At this time the de Brus estates were divided amongst four daughters, Agnes, Lucia, Margaret and Laderina. The first two daughters stayed within the Cleveland area. Agnes married into the de Fauconberg family and inherited Skelton castle and nearby esstates, whilst Lucia married into the de Thweng family of Kilton castle.


Architecturally the medieval castle has not survived.


Robert De Brus of Skelton Castle was a supporter of Stephen’s cause, but now he had even greater reason to fight as the Scots were threatening his own lands.He was one of those who tried to mediate with David I and prevent bloodshed.


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The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: The castle is situated on high ground near the Skelton Beck in the north of the parish, and is surrounded by park lands and woods and on three sides by a moat. The old castle was probably built by one of the Brus family and was the dwelling-place successively of the Bruses, Fauconbergs, Conyers, Trotters, Stevensons and Whartons. It seems to have been used as a fortress and for keeping prisoners in the reign of King John, and in 1265 it was surrendered to Henry III by Peter de Brus, who was suspected of adherence to Prince Edward.




Death of Robert de Brus II He was buried in Guisborough Priory. The new lord of Skelton was Robert’s eldest son, Adam, who was married to Agnes. They had a son, Adam and a daughter Agatha. Agnes was the daughter of Stephen, the Earl of Albemarle, and the sister of William, called ‘Le gros’ under whom Adam had fought at the Battle of the Standard.




In order to obtain the money demanded by King John. Peter de Brus made an agreement with his Cleveland tenants within Langbaurgh, by which he agreed to limitations in the exercise of his authority in return for a guarantee that the knights and free tenants would make up any shortfall in the rent of forty marks charged by the king. The witnesses were Roger de Lacy, Robert de Ros, Eustachia de Vescy, Walter de Faucumberge. The Charter was lodged with the Prior of Guisborough. It has been suggested by some that it was a pre-cursor to Magna Carta, when the Barons strove to place similar limitations on King John’s powers.


Peter de Brus was given custody of William de Brus, the son of William, as a hostage of King John to ensure the behaviour of the King of Scotland.


Peter de Brus held 11 “knights fees” of the honour of “Skeltone” in Yorkshire.




From the 8 to 10 February 1216, King John attacked and took Skelton Castle. Peter de Brus’s men were taken prisoner. On 15 February 1216, John agreed to receive Peter de Brus and Robert de Ros under safe conduct: ‘with all such as they should bring with them unarmed, to a conference, to treat with him about making their peace with him; and the said safe conduct shall hold good for one month from St Valentine’s day. And for greater security our lord the King wills that …..Archdeacon of Durham, Wydo de Fontibus, Frater Walter, Preceptor of the Templars in the district of Yorkshire, with one of Hugh de Bailloel’s retinue, shall go with them in person to the Lord King, and escort them; and they have Letters Patent from the King to that effect; and the said letters are the same day handed to the aforesaid parties, Thomas, Canon of Gyseburn, being further added to their numbers’ On 26 February 1216 King John issued the following mandate: ‘We command you that you receive and see to the safe keeping of the prisoners whose names are underwritten, taken at Skelton Castle, who will be sent to you by Dame Nicholas de Haya –that is to say, Godfrey de Hoga, Berard de Fontibus, Anketil de Torenton, Robert de Molteby, Stephen Guher, William de Lohereng, Robert de Normanby, Roger le Hoste, Robert de Gilling, John de Brethereswysel, Thomas Berard’sman and Ralph de Hoga’


In July and August the King issued further orders that prisoners taken at Skelton Castle should be ransomed.


King John died later in 1216 and Henry III became King aged 9. In 1219 Peter de Brus was forgiven for his opposition to King John and recovered Carlton and other manors in Cleveland, which the Crown had taken from him.




Peter was given licence to hold a Market at Skelton on Mondays.




Skelton castle was surrendered to Henry III by Peter III who was suspected of supporting Henry’s son, Prince Edward. There is a record of the castle being used for keeping prisoners.




Skelton-in-Cleveland: Quitclaim by Alice and Helena, Agnes and Hauisia sisters, to Peter de Bruis the third, of all their land of Scelton late belonging to Richard, the reeve, (prepositi) their uncle, viz., a toft and croft at the entrance of the town of Scelton towards the east late held by Walter Blevent; 1 acre in Scelton fields lying between the tilled land of Sir Peter de Bruis called Roskeldesik and the half ploughland belonging to the Mills; an assart late of Wm. Winde, lying between Langhacres and the vale of meadows of Scelton; 1 acre given by Wm. Cusin to Ralf, son of Wine, lying between Roskeldesic and the half ploughland belonging to the lord’s mills; and 2 1/2 acres in the territory of Scelton on Lairlandes; for the rents of 1d. to them and their heirs, heirs of Wm. Cusin for the acre between Roskeldsic and the half ploughland, 2d. to the same for the 2 1/2 acres on Lairlandes, 1d. to the heirs of Rolf son of Wine for the acre given to Ralf by Wm. Cusin, and 1d. to Richard Briton for the assart. Witnesses :- Sir Adam de Hilton, Sir Simon de Bruis, Sir Stephen de Rosel, Sir Berard de Fontibus, John de Tocotes, John de Nutel, Wm. Pitwaltel, Robt de Tormodeby, Geoffrey the Cook (Coco) Hugh Hauberger, Matthew the Clerk (clerico) (Yorkshire Archeological Journal, Vol XIII, London, 1895, p 52, “Yorkshire Deeds, Part 4, by A.S. Ellis).




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: North of the castle is a mill on the Skelton Beck, probably representing the site of one of the mills appurtenant to the manor in 1272, and to the east is a fish-pond also mentioned at that date.


Peter de Brus III of Skelton Castle died. For nearly two hundred years six generations of the De Brus family of Skelton Castle had had male heirs and their possessions had grown through marriage as the Law was that on marriage the property of the wife becomes the husband’s. Peter de Brus III’s elder sister had pre-deceased him and both were childless. The de Brus Estates were therefore divided between his four remaining sisters.




25th May, 8th Edward I. 1280 No 54. For Walter de Fauconberg. The King to Archbishops, greeting. Know ye that we have granted, and by this our Charter confirmed to our beloved and faithful Walter de Faucunberge, that he and his heirs for ever have free warren in all his demesne lands of Skelton, Stanghow and Mersk, Uplithum, Redker, Grenrig and Estbrune in the County of York. Provided that those lands be not within the bounds of our forest, so that no one enter those lands to hunt in them, or to take anything, which may belong to the warren, without the licence and will of him the said Walter, or his heirs, upon forfeiture to us of £10; wherefore he will….”




A dispute arose between Skelton Castle and Guisborough Priory over an area of land around what is now Skelton Ellers, called ‘Swarthy Head’ and then called ‘Swetingheved’. This was on the edge of the Skelton hunting park which stretched east to the the Castle and South over Airy Hill to Margrove Park. Walter de Fauconberg agreed to maintain the hedges and ditches to prevent the deer straying onto the prior’s meadows and arable land and to pay tithes on the deer themselves.




The Lay Subsidy of 1301. A Parliament at Lincoln in this year authorised a Lay Subsidy. This was a tax on the whole population and was based on a fifteenth part of each person’s movable possessions. Among the taxpayers of Skelton were ‘a merchant, a fuller, a weaver, a potter, a tanner, a baker, a smith, a butcher, 2 carpenters and 3 carriers [pannierman, wainman and a carter].’ There were 63 taxpayers in Skelton who paid a total of £5 13s. Multiplying this by 15 gives the total value of these villagers possessions as £84 6s. Total taxpayers in other places in the North Riding of Yorkshire were Guisborough 85, Whitby 96, Marske and Redcar 89, Yarm 72. There were likely many poorer, labouring people who did not pay tax.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Walter de Fauconberg died in about 1304 and was succeeded by his son Walter, who died in about 1318, his heir being John his son. John settled the manor on himself with remainder to his son Walter, in tail, in 1344; he died in 1349 and Walter succeeded him.




In the 1840’s the piece of stone shown here was found in the old Churchyard, near the Castle, by a Mr T. M. Fallow. It appears to be part of a sun-dial and must have come from the old Anglo-Saxon Church which was replaced in 1325. This second church was in turn replaced in 1785 by the present redundant Church.


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A work by Mrs Margaret Scott Gatty, 1809 – 1873 gives the following explanation of the Skelton stone: Part of the semicircle remains and 4 hour lines, two of which, viz., midday and 2 p.m are crossed. Apparently the dial had been divided into twelve hour spaces. Below these lines there are portions of 4 lines of an inscription in Old Norse or Danish, with part of a line of runes down the side. “The runes”, writes Bishop Browne, “I read as DIEBEL OK, which Mr Magnusson says is good Danish – of latish date – for ‘devil and’. He tells me that GRERA is part of the word ‘to grow’, and COMA is ‘to come’. The words ‘devil and’ may well be a pious curse on creatures of that kind. From the style of the inscription this stone appears to belong to the early part of the twelfth century.”




The Lay Subsidy of 1334: Skelton was assessed for the Subsidy at total £2, compared with Yarm £9, Guisborough £4 and Stokesley £1 : 4s.




In 1349 the castle was described as expensive to maintain.


The Black Death. The Inquisitiones Post Mortem 23 Edward III, which is a survey of the assets of the Fauconbergs on the death of John, stated “In demesne, 24 bovates of weak and Moorish land, each worth 4 shillings…before the mortality of men in these parts this year. 30 acres of meadow each worth 1 shilling per annum before the Death. 3 water mills of which one is weak and ruinous….worth £4 before the Death.” The castle is described in this year as being difficult to maintain. There is mention of a “..park of oaks with game, called ‘le Wespark’ and ‘Maugrey Park with deer.” The area to the west of Skelton Castle, to Skelton Ellars and over Airey Hill to Margrove Park was part of the private woodland hunting reserve of Skelton Castle. In this and the following years the plague killed a half to two thirds of the population of England. It would seem from the above that most of the population of Skelton died.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Walter died in 1361 and was succeeded by his son Thomas,  one-third of the manor, however, being assigned as dower to Isabel widow of Walter. Thomas granted his two-thirds of the castle and manor and the reversion of Isabel's third, for his lifetime, to Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, who held the whole manor on the death of Isabel in 1401.




The Skelton estate was taken into the custody of Henry IV, due to the insanity of Thomas Fauconberg. The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Thomas de Fauconberg suffered from intermittent insanity and in 1403 the custody of the castle and manor were from this cause in the hands of the king, who granted their custody to Robert and John Conyers. Thomas in 1407 settled the manor in feetail with successive remainders to Walter son of Sir Roger Fauconberg, kt., and his heirs, and in default to the right heirs of Thomas. He died in the same year, his heir being his infant daughter Joan, while his widow Joan had one-third of the manor in dower. The elder Joan appears to have died in March 1408–9; the custody of the lands was granted by the Crown to Richard Cheerowe and Thomas Strickland. Joan was an idiot from birth, but before she was sixteen she married William Nevill son of Ralph Earl of Westmorland. William Nevill and Joan made a conveyance of the manor in 1428. William Nevill was summoned to Parliament as Lord Fauconberg in 1429, and was created Earl of Kent in 1461. He died in January 1462–3 seised of Skelton in right of his wife, who being of unsound mind held no lands after his death.




Owing to the madness of Thomas Fauconberg, one third of the estate of Skelton was settled on his wife Joan until her death which occurred in 1409. The other two thirds on Walter de Fauconberg. In this same year Walter de Fauconberg died and the estate passed to his daughter Joan. She had been “an idiot from birth”, but had been married before she was sixteen to William Nevill, the son of the Earl of Westmoreland. The Inquisition Post Mortem on Thomas ‘Faucomberge’ shows estate passed to his widow Joan included “a waste burgage”, “4 waste messuages”, and cottages either ruinous or waste or “paying nothing.” It is possible that the Black Death which appeared in 1348 and repeatedly during the previous century had decimated the population of Skelton, which was about 400 at the beginning of it. Among the long list of possessions, which also includes the Manor of ‘Mersk’ and Upleatham and many areas of land with now unrecognisable names is:


In the town and territory of Skelton in Cleveland: 1 built messuage with garden; 1 croft and 6 bovates held by William Shupherde; 1 built messuage with garden; 2 crofts and 1 bovate held by John Proctour; 1 waste messuage and 1 bovate by John Walkere; 2 bovates by John Harpour; 3 waste messuages and 1 bovate by William Mason senior; 1 burnt messuage, a close called ‘Cadycroft’ and a parcel of land called ‘le Wanles’ by the same; a third part of a messuage and of a bovate by Roger Homet; with all the services of these tenants; 4 a. of foreshore at ‘Thilekelde’, ‘Roskeldesyke’ and ‘Grenwalde’ held by John Proctour; 1 close of herbage in ‘Burghgate’ and 1 called ‘Copyncroft’ by John Donaldeson; 1 built cottage by Thomas de Newsom, and 1 by John Byrde; 1 with garden and croft by William Whytekyrke; 1 garden and croft with 9 a. by William Syng; 1 built cottage with 2 crofts by Robert Hogeson, the lord’s villein; 1 ruinous cottage by Sibota Westland; 1 croft of herbage called ‘Bruyscroft’ by William Westland; 1 built burgage and 1 croft by John Pottere; 1 close of herbage called ‘Kyrkebyclos’ and 1 plot used for making pots (pro ollis inde faciendis) by the same; 2 waste cottages in ‘Marketgate’ next William Lambard’s tenement on the south, let for a rent of 12d.; 1 cottage now in the lord’s hands, formerly held by William Westland for 20d., now paying nothing; In a place called Stanghow 1 built cottage, 2 waste cottages, 1 bovate and a tenement called ‘Blackhall’ held by Thomas Carlele; and 1 built messuage, 2 waste messuages and 4 bovates by John West. Also a third part of 3 watermills in Skelton with its members, called ‘Holbekmyll’, ‘Saltbornmyll’ and Skinningrove mill;

a third part of a fulling mill, and of the profits of the oven, toll, market and fair there, of the assize of bread and ale, of the court of Skelton, of agistments in pasture and feedings not in severalty, of waste, of casualties arising in wood or plain, as in hawks, sparrowhawks, falcons, and other birds of prey or game, of warren and free chase, waifs and strays, etc. and of the mining of lead, iron, marl and coal and of quarrying of slate and other mines in the lordship of Skelton and its members.




In 1490 Skelton Castle was inherited by William Conyers, when it was described as ruinous. From him it passed into the Trotter family and then by marriage to the Hall family by the marriage of Joseph Hall to Catherine Trotter. Their son John inherited and changed his name to Hall-Stevenson after marrying Ann Stevenson. He formed the "Demoniacks" club who met at the ruins of the castle for drinking bouts.


The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: At Joan's death in 1490 the heirs were her grandsons James Strangways, son of her daughter Elizabeth, wife of Sir Richard Strangways, and William Conyers, son of her daughter Alice who married Sir John Conyers of Hornby. Apparently Skelton came to the Conyers, although the Strangways seem to have held some interest in the manor, which followed the descent of the manor of West Harlsey.




The Lay Subsidy of 1542: In Skelton well over half the taxpayers assessed for the Lay Subsidy paid at the lowest rate, on goods valued at less than £1 or 240 d. Lay Subsidy was a taxation system based in rural areas of a fifteenth part of a person’s moveable goods including crops. In towns it was a tenth.




After the dissolution of the monasteries the Church at Skelton was granted to the see of York. The Archbishop is still patron of the ‘living’, and therefore controls appointment of local vicar, his payment, vicarage etc.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: From William Conyers this manor descended with Hornby to John Lord Conyers, on whose death in 1556–7 it was divided among his daughters and co-heirs, three of whom, Anne wife of Anthony Kempe, Katharine wife of John Atherton and Elizabeth wife of Thomas Darcy, survived the fourth daughter, Joan (or Margaret), who died a minor in 1560. Anne Kempe's share of the manor followed the descent of her third of Hornby until 1575, and was bought in 1577–8 by Robert Trotter.




The Skelton Parish Registers for Baptisms start from 1571, Marriages from 1568 and Burials from 1567.




Anthony Kempe, the husband of Anne Conyers sold their part of the Skelton Estate to Robert Trotter. Robert was the son of a Robert Trotter senior of Pickering and married to Margaret who came from Pudsey. Graves History states that the remaining two thirds which had been inherited by the other two Conyers daughters remained in their descendants until the year 1656, when by exchange or purchase the whole became the property of Robert Trotter and his descendants.




In the Skelton area Alum production began from about this time. The first profitable site in Yorkshire was opened in 1603 at Spring Bank, Slapewath, which was then part of Skelton.


There were some folk of Skelton who were getting themselves into trouble as ‘Papists’. ‘Recusants’ were people who refused the sacraments of the Church of England. Skelton:- “ William Milner and Allison his wife. Agnes, the wife of Robert Allenbye. Jane, the wife of Robert Nelson.

Alice, the wife of John Staynhous. Robert Sawer. Elizabeth Staynhous. Recusants 8 or 9 yeares, but poore laborers. Robert Trotter Esquier, Margaret his wife ; noncommunicants this last yeare. Private baptismeXpofer Burdon” husbandman had a childe secretly baptised, where and by whome they know not. “ Robert Allanbye, Joan, the wife of William Nelson. Jane, the wife of Richard Locke. Jebbs widowe Burton widowe r Averell wife of Xpofer Burdon, John Staynehous. Thomas Staynhous, Richard Staynhous. Poore labouring people which came to church before the xxvth of Marche 1603 & since are become Recusantes.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Robert Trotter died in 1611 and was succeeded by his son Henry, who died in 1623. Henry's son and heir George was succeeded by Edward, who married Mary daughter of Sir John Lowther, bart., of Lowther, to whom he conveyed the manor in 1659.



In April 1613, at the Quarter Sessions held at Thirsk Robert Tose, Curate of Skelton in Cleveland, was charged with keeping an alehouse there, contrarie to the statute in such case made and provided.




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The oldest grave-stone found in the old Church yard at Skelton was placed in September 1632, commemorating John Slater.




Folklore has it that Cromwell passed close to Skelton, but missed the Castle hidden in the woods. The locals, however, were heard and given a good beating on Flowston. A small skirmish took place somewhere between Skelton and Guisborough between Royalists under the command of Colonel Slingsby and Parliamentarians under Sir Hugh Cholmley and Sir Matthew Boynton. Slingsby was taken prisoner and some of his men killed.




It has been suggested that the brasses on the Fauconberg blue marble stone in the floor of the old church at Skelton were torn off by the Puritans during the Protectorate.




3 October 1670 at Malton Quarter Sessions: “That John Tooes of Skelton in Cleveland having been bound to appear at the Sessions to answere for alluring and entycingmens wifes and on other complaints is to find good sureties for his good behavious and to appear at next Sessions”.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Edward Trotter was lord of the manor in 1681.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Edward Trotter died in 1708, and was succeeded by his grandson Lawson Trotter, son of his son John. Lawson Trotter still held the manor in 1721 and in 1729, but afterwards sold it to Joseph Hall, his sister's husband, probably before 1732.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Joseph Hall died in 1733 and was succeeded by his son John Hall, who assumed the name of Stevenson in addition to his own. John Hall Stevenson was lord of the manor till his death in 1785; his son Joseph William, who succeeded him, died a year later, his heir being his son, another John Hall Stevenson, who assumed the name of Wharton.


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John Hall Stevenson (1718 to 1785)




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The Archbishop of York, Robert Hay Drummond, sent out a Questionnaire to all his Parish priests. The Skelton in Cleveland, Curate, Thomas Kitching replied as follows:-


Admitted 20 August 1760. Deacon 18 December 1743, [Samuel Chester]. Priest 22 September 1745, Samuel Chester. 1. There are about 240 families, 5 of which are Quakers and 4 are Papists. 2. The Quakers have a meeting house at ‘Moorsholme’, but whether it is licenced or not I do not know. They assemble there every Sunday in the morning in small numbers. Their speaker is one Philip Narzleton of Moorsholme aforesaid. 3. There is no publick or charity school within this Parish. 4. There is no alms-house or hospital in this Parish. There are some lands and some cottages belonging to the Church, the profits of which are ‘applyed’ [and I believe very honestly] to the repairs of the nave or body of the Church. This Curacy was augmented in the year 1718 by a benefaction of £200 from the Trotter family and others who had connexions with that family, by £200 more given by the directors of Queen Ann’s Bounty and by £25 given by the late curate. An estate called ‘Sadler Hills’ in this Parish was purchased 1735 and the yearly rent is £18. 5. I do reside in the parsonage-house. 6. I have no curate. 7. I perform divine service at Skelton on 2 Sundays in the mornings and in the afternoons. I attend Brotton, which is annexed to the curacy of Skelton. On the third Sunday I perform divine service at Brotton in the morning and in the afternoon I attend Skelton. I preach twice every Sunday and I make service at Skelton on holy days. 8. I know of none who come to church that are not baptized, neither do I know of any of a competent age, who are not confirmed. I have baptized no adults since your Grace came to be Archbishop. 9. I catechise at Skelton and Brotton alternately from the beginning of Lent till Whitsuntide. Many of my parishioners send their children, but very few of their Servants. At your Grace’s last confirmation, or rather before it, the Servants did attend me at the times appointed and I did all I could to meke them understand the principles of our holy religion. I know of no exposition they make use of. 10. The sacrament is administered once every quarter both at Skelton and Brotton. I give notice of it on the preceding Sunday in the form appointed by the Book of Common Prayer. The number of communicants in the parish may amount to 375. At Easter 156 did communicate. At other times the number is not so great. I have refused the sacrament to none since I was admitted curate. 11. The chapel at Brotton is annexed to the cure of Skelton and is served in the manner above specified. It is distant from Skelton about 3 measured miles. There is no particular endowment belonging to Brotton. We have no chapel in ruins. 12. There has no public penance been performed since your Grace came to be Archbishop, neither do I know of any commutations of penance made by any of my parish within that time.




The castle was rebuilt in the 1770s and then extended to become a country house in the 19th century. In the 18th century the house at Skelton Castle was owned by John Hall Stephenson who was a Cambridge scholar and poet. He entertained other noted contemporary authors including Laurence Sterne, the author of the book Tristram Shandy. The house was at the time known as “Crazy castle”.


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The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: Here in the 18th century lived John Hall Stevenson (1718–85), the author of Crazy Tales and a friend of Sterne, who was a frequent visitor at the castle.


On 24 November 1770 William Smith, a Miller, was murdered at night in his bed at home in Skelton in Cleveland by Luke Atkinson who also lived in the village. On Sunday evening he told Mr Wharton that he had without the least provocation for 3 weeks before the perpetration of the murder several times a strong inclination to commit it; but had always got the cruel thought driven from his mind, till the unhappy night in which he effected it, when he went to bed, but could not rest; that he arose from out of his bed and fell to prayer, in hopes of diverting these thoughts; but so irresistible was the impulse, that he at last went to the house of William Smith armed with a mattock and hatchet, broke open the door with the mattock, and found him asleep in bed, where he struck him several times on the head, but whether with the mattock or hatchet he did not remember; and that afterwards he took the deceased’s purse containing one half guinea, a quarter guinea, about five shillings in silver and sixpence in copper. He declared that his wife was ignorant of the murder and died penitently.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: The old church of All Saints is a plain structure erected in 1785, consisting of chancel 26 ft. 9 in. by 18 ft. 6 in., nave 61 ft. 6 in. by 25 ft. 6 in., and west tower 9 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. There is also a kind of transept, forming a pew, in the middle of the north wall, 16 ft. deep by 9 ft. 6 in. wide, with a fireplace at its north end. No record of the former building has been kept. In 1891 part of a dial stone with an inscription in Anglo-Saxon uncials and in runes, probably of 11th-century date, was found in the churchyard, and Ord, writing about 1846, mentions 'a vast number of stone coffins' having been found to the north-west of the church. Three of these, one a child's, are preserved, but the others have disappeared.




The present house is built of dressed sandstone with a roof of Lakeland slate. It is a two-storey block with a 5-bay frontage. It incorporates some remains of the medieval castle. It was constructed between 1788 and 1817 for John Wharton, Member of Parliament for Beverley who had inherited the ruined Skelton Castle from his father Joseph Hall-Stevenson in 1786. John Wharton had changed his name from Hall-Stevenson to Wharton to comply with the terms of a legacy. He inherited a considerable fortune from his aunt, much of which he spent of demolishing the castle and building his new home.


The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: According to Ord the demolition of the castle of the Bruses began in 1788, when practically the whole of the site was cleared and the hill on which the keep seems to have stood was destroyed. Some terraces which overhung the moat were also removed. Of the old building no trustworthy account has been preserved. Ord says it had a 'magnificent tower,' and it is described in the Cotton MSS. as 'an ancient castle all rent and torn, it seemed rather by the wit and violence of man than by the envy of time.' It was its ruinous condition in John Hall Stevenson's time that earned it the title of 'Crazy Castle.' The new building, a large castellated mansion in the Gothic style of the day, was erected about 1794, but has since been modernized; it is now the residence of Mr. William Henry Anthony Wharton. Internal alterations were made in 1892 and in 1908.


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Skelton Castle




John Wharton of Skelton Castle was returned as the MP for Beverley, beginning a 40 year association with that East Riding town. It was to lead to his eventual financial downfall. Beverley had the right to send 2 members to Parliament and it was a Nationwide custom to bribe officials and the electorate. The only people allowed to vote were adult males who owned land, so called freemen, and Beverley had an above average number of these, as well as voters who lived outside the area. It became advantageous to have more than two candidates in order to find out who could offer the most in sweeteners. As well as making direct payments to the voters, candidates paid for such things as travel expenses, ribbons, innkeepers fees, musicians, security guards etc. The expenditure did not end there. The MP prior to J Wharton paid over £650, including £50 towards flagging the streets in 1786, £20 a year on coal for poor freemen, £10 per year to the master of the grammar school, £25 for the races, and 5 guineas to the Charity school, besides providing a buck and a doe for the mayor’s table. John Wharton must have made an excellent job of this bribery as he received 908 votes from the 1,069 voters, including a high proportion of the working-class and London voters. Wharton was an active Whig with radical views. In Parliament he was a staunch supporter of the abolition of slavery and favoured relief for Roman Catholics and constitutional and Parliamentary reform. His resounding success in the 1790 election gained him a considerable popular following in Beverley and his overt political position led to the development of clear Whig and Tory factions in the town. It was said by the Whig grandees, “It is beyond the power of imagination to conceive the popularity of Wharton here… .Perhaps it has never happened in the History of Electioneering that out of 1,050 voters 908 should be on one side in favour of our friend and his principles.”




John Wharton lost the election in Beverley after he disagreed with some of his previous supporters over the war with France. He was made a Captain in the North Riding of Yorkshire Yeoman Cavalry.


The winter of 1794 to 5 was one of the severest in living memory with hard frosts and snow from December to March. Snow still lay on the Cleveland hills in May. Bad weather conditions had a more serious effect on people’s lives then than today. Most worked in agriculture and those who did not ‘live-in’ could not earn. Fuel was used up. The fact that the country was at war with France added to the problems. There was a shortage of corn, which drove up the price of bread and there were riots in some places. Poaching was rife. The landed classes had always considered that any wild life that moved across their property belonged to them. From Norman times, and probably long before, any peasant who trespassed on the Lord’s hunting preserve was liable to harsh penalties. In these times of dearth these were severe. From 1760 night poachers were liable to 3 to 6 months prison with hard labour and second offenders given 6 to 12 months with a public whipping. From 1782 to 1799 there were only 26 convictions for poaching in the N Riding of Yorkshire. To save a family from starvation the risk was taken in Skelton.

It is recorded, “by October 1780 the game upon the manors of John Wharton of Kilton, Skelton and Brotton was nearly destroyed”.


In 1800 new legislation made convicted poachers liable to 2 years hard labour and a whipping. Offenders over 12 could be sent for military service.


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John Wharton was returned to Parliament as the MP for Beverley, coming second in the bye-election which had been caused by the death of the sitting MP. He now stood as an Independent and was opposed by J. B. S. Morritt of Rokeby Park in the North Riding of Yorks. He had mixed success in the elections which followed up to 1826.




The first national census was carried out by house to house enquiry, by the local Overseers of the Poor. The population of England and Wales was estimated to be 9 million. The population of Skelton was 700 – 317 males, 383 females. There were 167 inhabited houses, with 180 families. 6 houses were uninhabited. 171 people worked in agriculture and 279 in trades. In the 20 years from 1781 to 1801 there were 612 baptisms, 399 burials and 168 marriages.




The “Roxby and Cleveland Hounds” were formed on 5 June 1817 and John Andrew, the notorious smuggler, of the White House, Saltburn Lane was made Master.


From ‘The Cleveland Hounds’, by A E Pease: “At the Angel Inn at Loftus, on a summer’s afternoon, we may picture John Andrew Snr, Isaac Scarth, Henry Clarke, Henry Vansittart Esq, Thomas Chaloner Esq and the other signatories to the rules then drawn up, sitting with their tumblers of punch, making a treaty. “In 1817, Mr John Andrew was appointed master. The Hounds were taken to Saltburn, then but a fishing hamlet on the sea-shore, where, for more than fifty years, the management was in the hands of the Andrew family. They hunted foxes in the winter, and, with a few of the old Hounds, otters in the summer. A few years after this the Roxby was dropped from the name of the pack, and they became the Cleveland. John Andrew hunted them until 1835, assisted by his son, John Andrew Jun, who took them when his father gave them up. John Jun was master until 1855, when they were taken by his son, Tom, who had them until 1870, having, previous to becoming master, acted as huntsman to his father. Tom, altogether, hunted the Hounds for thirty-three years, having many grand runs, and sometimes hunting when the snow was deep on the ground.”


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The population of Skelton Parish was 1235, as recorded by the local Curate, William Close. Skelton village population was approximately 700.


On 4 August 1821 a most dreadful storm of thunder and lightning occurred at Marske and Skelton in Cleveland. At Skelton Mr Mackereth, surgeon of Guisbrough, was passing from one part of the village to the other, over some fields and in the middle of the pasture was knocked down and laid insensible for 2 or 3 minutes. Two women in the adjoining field, making hay, were struck down, but providentially, the whole three have perfectly recovered.




The Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire by Thomas Langdale of 1822 described Skelton Castle: “situated on the brink of a large sheet of water, in many places 50 feet deep, which nearly surrounds the castle, except an opening to the south.” Skelton was described as in the parish of Skelton, east division of the wapentake and liberty of Langbaraugh, Skelton Castle the seat of John Wharton Esq, 3 ½ miles from Guisbrough, 11 ½ from Stokesley, 16 from Stockton, population 700.




Baines Directory for 1823 listed the inhabitants of Skelton, with a population of around 700: Castle: John Wharton MP. Curate: Rev William Close. Attorney: Thomas Nixon. Blacksmiths: Thos Crater, Robert Robinson, William Young. Butchers: William Lawson, Isaac Wilkinson, William wilkinson. Corn Millers: Robert Watson, William Wilson. Farmers and Yeoman: William Adamson, John Appleton, Thomas Clarke, James Cole, James Colin, William Cooper, Steven Emerson, John Farndale, Robert Gill, William Hall, Edward Hall, Jackson Hardon, William Hutton, Sarah Johnson, William Lockwood, John Parnaby, Thomas Rigg, William Sayer, William Sherwood, John Taylor, William Thompson, Robert Tiplady, William Wilkinson, Richard Wilson. Grocer and Drapers: John Appleton, William Dixon, Ralph Lynass, Thomas Shemelds, John Alater. Flax dresser: McNaughton D. Joiners: William Appleton, Leonard Dixon, Mark Carrick, Joseph Middleton. Schoolmasters: Atkinson M, John Sharp. Shoemakers: Robert Bell, Luke Lewis, Thomas Lowls, George Lynass, Thomas Steele. Stonemasons: Thomas Bryan, John Pattinson. Straw hat makers: Sarah Sarah, Esther Shimelds. Weavers: Stephen Edelson, Thomas Dawson, John Robinson, Robert Wilson. Land agent: John Andrew. Victuallers: William Bean at Duke William, William Lawson at Royal George. Woodturner: James Crusher. Gamekeeper: Frank Thomas. Plumber and Glazier: William Gowland. Sadler: Thomas Taylor. Shopkeeper: Eliza Wilkinson. Carriers: Marmaduke Wilson - to Guisborough on Tuesday and Friday, departing 8am and returned 4pm; Robert Wilkinson to Stockton on Wednesday and Saturday, departing 4am and return 8pm, to Lofthouse on Monday and Thursday departing 9am and return at 6pm; Letters were brought to Guisborough by coach and thence to Skelton by daily horse post arriving at 10am and mail taken back at 3pm.




John Wharton was defeated in the election at Beverley and retired from politics, heavily in debt.




The population of Skelton was 781. In the last 30 years an increase of 81. The national population about 14 million. The number of Females in Skelton was 396. Males numbered 385. Of these 138 were over 20. An entry in the Parish Register for this year gives:- 174 Families living in 172 Inhabited houses with 12 uninhabited. There was no current house building. This record further divided these families into 100 employed in Agriculture, 42 in Trade/Manufacture and 24 Others. Agriculture occupiers 1st Class 39, 2nd Class 73 and Labourers 26. Manufacturers – None. Retail trades and Handicraft – 43. Wholesale and Capitalists, Clergy, Office Clerks, Professional and other Educated Men – 1 [presumably the Vicar]. Labourers non Agriculture – 15. All other males over 20 – 1. Male servants 20 and over – 18. Male servants under 20 – 10. Female servants – 22.




The Voting Reform Acty 1832 extended the right to vote slightly and altered constituencies. Up to this time only only about 3 percent of householders qualified to vote, based on land ownership. The new rules were still based on wealth and now about 5 percent had the vote. Skelton was part of the North Riding of Yorkshire and there were only 4 representatives for the whole County. Up to 1821 this had been only 2.


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Voting boundaries in 1832




One of the longest cold periods, beginning January, with temperatures down to -20 at Greenwich, and lasting some 7 to 8 weeks.




The Rev J C Atkinson, a local historian, described visiting local cottages: ‘We then went to two cottage dwellings in the main street. As entering from the street or roadside, we had to bow our heads, even although some of the yard-thick thatch had been cut away about and above the upper part of the door, in order to obtain an entrance. We entered on a totally dark and unflagged passage. On our left was an enclosure partitioned off from the passage by a boarded screen between four and five feet high, and which no long time before had served the purpose originally intended, namely that of a calves’ pen. Farther still on the same side was another dark enclosure similarly constructed, which even yet served the purpose of a henhouse. On the other side of the passage opposite this was a door, which on being opened gave admission to the living room, the only one in the dwelling. The floor was of clay and in holes, and around on two sides were the cubicles, or sleeping boxes – even less desirable than the box beds of Berwickshire as I knew them fifty years ago – for the entire family. There was no loft above, much less any attempt at a ‘chamber’ ; only odds and ends of old garments, bundles of fodder and things of that sort and in this den the occupants of the house were living’.




John Wharton died childless and in poverty in 1843 and Skelton devolved to his nephew John Thomas Wharton of Gilling.


The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: John Wharton made a conveyance of the manor in 1796; he died in 1843 without issue and was succeeded by his nephew John Thomas Wharton, who died in 1900, his heir being his son William Henry Anthony Wharton, the present lord of the manor.




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Skelton Tithes Map




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The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: The opening of various mines having caused a large increase in the population since 1871. The mining villages of Boosbeck and North Skelton, to the south and southeast of Skelton village, have stations on the North Eastern railway; Lingdale, further south, is connected by a special line with the Kilton Thorpe branch railway, and Charlton Terrace or Slapewath (Slaipwath) has a tramway running from the mines to the North Eastern railway line which passes it to the north. Rights of mines and quarries are mentioned in 1366 and 1632.




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The management of the Skelton Park pit in the 1880s




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: There are Primitive Methodist chapels and a public elementary school which was built in 1881 and enlarged in 1894.




The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes: Skelton, 1923: The ancient parish of Skelton, including the townships of Great Moorsholm and Stanghow, covers 11,803 acres, of which 2,219 acres are arable land, 4,657 acres permanent grass and 578 acres woods and plantations. The soil is clay, with a subsoil of Kimmeridge clay, and the chief crops grown are wheat, beans, oats and barley. In the north the parish forms a kind of peninsula between the Skelton and Millholme Becks, which have very steep banks, whence the land slopes downwards, rising again towards the centre and also towards the south of the parish, where there are wide stretches of moorland. The greatest height is about 975 ft. above ordnance datum. Skelton village itself is situated on the northern slope. The whole parish is given up to iron-stone mining, to which the neighbourhood owes its importance.


The older part of the village is that nearest the castle. Boroughgate Lane approaches the western end from the south. The newer village stretches towards the east and is straggling and uneven; in the north-east on high ground is the new church of All Saints. There are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels about the centre of the village, and in the south is the hospital, with Skelton High Green to the west, and to the east Skelton Green, where there is a public elementary school built in 1887 and enlarged in 1892 and 1900.


New Skelton lies to the east of Skelton and has a school.


Further east is North Skelton, where there is a church mission-room, Primitive Methodist chapel and a Friends' burial ground. Boosbeck lies due south of Skelton village; it was constituted an ecclesiastical parish in 1901 with its church of St. Aidan.




Skelton Castle descended in the Wharton family to William Henry Anthony Wharton, High Sheriff of Yorkshire for 1925, and on his death in 1938, to his daughter Margaret Winsome Ringrose Wharton. She had married Christopher Hildyard Ringrose, a Royal Navy captain, who had added the additional surname of Wharton to that of Ringrose. She lived there until at least 1986, by which time her relative, Major Wharton, actually ran the estate on account of her age.




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Links, texts and books


There is an excellent history of Skelton at


Skelton History Group


Skelton Parish Records – BaptismsMarriagesBurials