thousand years ago the Country in this vicinity would still have been very wet, a
throwback to its glacial origins. For about 3000 years before it had
been slowly drying from a land with many areas of open water and swamp (rather
like some days in recent years!). There was also some forest. East
of the Seven was the Forest of Pickering and on the west bank
being drafted for King Canute by
Wulfstan, Archbishop of York. Before the
Norman conquest in 1066 the
machinery of local government was already in existence.
King's Reeve, Shire Reeve, or Sheriff, looked after royal rights in each
shire. Each shire was divided into hundreds. The hundreds were
divided into tithings, groups of ten men who took
corporate responsibility for the good behaviour of people in their group - a
sort of neighbourhood watch! This developed further when one man became
responsible for the group
tithing man was the forerunner of the constable. Whenever a criminal
sought to escape, the tithing-man would raise the ‘hue and cry’.
Everybody would stop what they were doing and take part in the chase.
the Conqueror was the bastard son of the Sixth Duke of Normandy. At the
age of 39 he conquered the South of England and was crowned at Westminster on Christmas day
1066 by Aldred, Archbishop of York. He
returned to Normandy and in his absence there were Saxon uprisings in the
north led by Waltheof in alliance with the Danish
king Sweyn. The rebels captured York and
killed the Norman garrison. William returned and bribed
Sweyn to withdraw his fleet from the Humber.
terrible example William carried out the 'Harrying of the North'. The killing
was horrendous. In open places and along roads the dead were left to rot for
there was no-one left to bury them. William spent a year in 1069-70 laying
waste the country from York to the Tees. For years after land was empty
and untilled. Villages disappeared. It was said that William kept
himself warm by swearing. 'Swearing like Billy Norman" was a phrase used in
Bilsdale. The area was a dangerous place to live
for there were still raids from the Scots. It would be three hundred
years before Normans and Saxons began looking upon themselves as one English
seized the land from the Saxon owners and gave it to many of his officers.
The Domesday Book survey took place in 1086 under
the auspices of William Rufus, the conqueror's son. At this time the
land at Normanby was the
of Hugh son of Baldrie's Manor.
The conqueror and Hugh granted these 3 carucates
to St Mary's abbey. (A carucate was as much land as could be tilled in
one year with a plough and 8 oxen.) The actual area in modern measure
depends on the type of soil, somewhere between 10 and 18 acres. Gamel had a manor and 4
carucates at Thornton
Riseborough before the conquest. This passed to the king in 1086.
linked the east and west fields. Perhaps this was on the site of the
existing metal bridge over the Seven on the outskirts of the village. At
that time the land was meadow and marsh. Domesday
Book records 1830 settlements in Yorkshire at that time. Many parishes
were still described as 'wasted' after the fighting during the subduing of
England by William. It was only on his death bed that William the conqueror
admitted that he had 'subjugated England by slaughter and by persecuting it
beyond endurance '.
people of Normanby owned small tracts of land
divided into strips. Good examples of these can be seen in surviving
ridge furrow mark of Riseborough Hall. The Lord of the Manor would extract payment in kind
from the villagers. It might be that a villein
(tenant farmer or serf)
ploughed 4 acres for the lord each year, carted wood from the forest, provided
a hen and 16 eggs each year. The villein
would not be allowed to leave the village apart from running messages or
fighting for the Lord. The Normans made it law that no-one was allowed
outside after 8pm in winter and 9pm in summer. The word Curfew means ‘cover
fire’. At this time York was an isolated outpost of the English King’s
influence and the area continued to be under threat from the Scots. To avoid
devastation many communities resorted to buying truces with the Scots. In 1322
men of the vale of Pickering ransomed their district for 300 marks. In
1166 King Henry the second announced he would send judges round England to
settle disputes by hearing the verdict of 12 free and law abiding men - trial
by jury was born. Trial by combat or ordeal gradually died out (though
trial by combat was not formally abolished until 1819).
came to the throne in 1199. In 1204 he licensed the Abbot
Savourey of St Mary's Abbey in York to enclose and
inpark the Abbey's wood called
Gouthscou near Lance Butts. A double-dyked
park was made for fox, deer and hare (to this day this area is the haunt of
wild deer). A deer park at this time was a tract of land where the deer and
boar were protected by law for the King. The
monks must have been a stabilising force in times of great uncertainty.
They looked after the land and ploughed surpluses back into developing their
Double Dyke position
licensed Alan de Wilton and his heirs to enclose the wood called
Riseberge in Thornton and to have his dogs there.
He was exempted from the assizes and juries except in matters touching the
crown. There was a manorial Chapel at Thornton early in the 13th century.
Alan de Wilton established a chantry there with
the consent of the Rector of Normanby. The
chapel was last mentioned in 1589 when it was granted to Anthony Collins and
others. By the end of the 12th century one third of England had been set
aside as Royal forest (that is, an area devoted to hunting).
without issue, as did his brother and heir Thomas de Wilton. They were
succeeded by their kinsman John de Bulmer, Lord of Bulmer and Wilton. In
1268 John de Bulmer held Thornton Riseborough
which follows the descent of Bulmer until passing to the crown in 1558.
Abbey kept a grange and in 1301 one resident was 'William over-ye water'.
Today's manor house is across the fields near an 80 acre meadow, enclosed
were economic problems with poor harvests in 1308 -10 and 1315.
the year of the great plague. The Black Death came from China via the
trade routes across Europe in fleas which were parasites of black rats.
It came in 1346 -1351, 1361, 1369 and 1375 and took
between a third and a half of the population which was then only about three
million throughout Britain. The times were grim. The disease
caused glands to swell to the size of grapefruit, they then started to fester.
Before long the whole body began to turn black. Death followed in days.
One thousand villages were laid waste. Some good did come from the tragedy.
Labour became so precious that the system of serfdom died out. Thornton
Riseborough is believed to have been abandoned at
this time. Poll tax records of 1377 record markets at
Sinnington (from 1303) and Kirkbymoorside
(begun between 1154 – 1179) The Abbot's free warren is mentioned in 1397.
lifespan of the average person in these days was 38.
think that law and order was a distant commodity before the formation of the
North Yorkshire police force in 1856. In fact from Norman times a
village constable was appointed by the Parish Meeting called by the 'way
wardens'. The constable looked after the village stocks which still
existed in the 1860s. They were sited about where the village seat is
today, outside the Church. Constables also had many other duties
including supervision of the watch and ward, inspection of ale houses and
suppression of gaming houses, apprenticing of pauper children, supervision and
removal of itinerant strangers and beggars, collection of taxes, maintenance
of parish arms, convening parish meetings, care of the parish bull,
presentation of parishioners who did not attend church regularly, apprehension
of suspected criminals and escaped prisoners, suppression of riots and
unlawful assemblies and collecting child maintenance from fathers of
order broke down for a while during the wars of the Roses, (1455-1485) when
armed followers of rival Barons meted out justice and injustice.
Eventually Henry VII emerged as king and began appointing local landlords as
Justices of the Peace.
son of the Earl of Westmorland, George, received land and became Lord Latimer
in 1432. George died in 1469. In 1531 the manor was held by his great
grandson John, third Earl Latimer 'as of his Manor of
of Normanby remained with St Mary's Abbey until
the dissolution of the monasteries in 1546. Here ended over 600 year’s
association with the Abbey at York.
monks joined the increasing ranks of beggars and vagabonds. Enclosure
and the growth of the wool trade led to the loss of many agricultural jobs
because less people were needed to look after sheep. Desperate to survive,
many turned to crime.
eighth granted the manor to William Romesden of
Longley and Richard Vavasour of Ripon. The
following January William and Richard were licensed to transfer the manor to
Robert Meynell's Serjeant
at Law, later of Hawnby, who died in 1563.
an act was passed requiring each parishioner owning any plough land to supply
a cart for 4 days a year for road repair. Each householder or tenant
also had to give 4 days labour on road repair. Wheeled traffic was rare
up to the 17th century. Oxen were still the main farming power.
leases of the capital messuage of lands in
Thornton were granted to John Milborne.
This means he gained the ownership of several properties. Robert Meynell's son, Roger, inherited the manor
and passed it on to his son Roger. Roger was succeeded by his son
Ralph Maddison and his wife, Geoffrey
Milborne and his wife and Thomas
Milborne.conveyed land and tenements in Thornton
and elsewhere to Sir William Wentworth. His son Thomas, Viscount Wentworth
with Charles Greenwood, George Radcliffe and
Christopher Waderford in 1632 conveyed the Manor
to Sir Arthur Robinson, wool merchant from London.
were troubled years from 1638 to1645 during the civil war. It is not
known if anyone from the village was involved but we do know that Cromwell
passed by and probably visited Riseborough Hall.
1650s trade was bad. Thousands of labourers were forced off the land by
enclosures which continued to turn cultivated fields into sheep pasture.
Persistent beggars could be 'whipped until bloody'. They could even be put to
Harvey became personal physician to King Charles the First. Harvey
published his theory on the circulation of the blood in 1628.
onwards we still have access to the parish records of St
Many of the earlier entries would require a Latin scholar to decipher them.
Some familiar names start appearing. William Stockton married in 1633.
Anna Stockton was baptised in November 1671 (she married in 1707 at the
relatively late age of 36). Richard Walker was baptised in 1673 but he
was buried by 1707. Matthias Boynton married on 28th May 1672.
Other names in this century include Cook, Sparling
and Harding. The names of Stockton and Boynton play a part in the
village history as they became associated with long standing charitable
1632 Latin Document
1632 Latin Document translated
Puritan Commonwealth, (1649-60), brought strict laws to the countryside but
the soldiers were feared by many people. England and Wales was divided into
eleven districts, each with a Major-General. Soldiers brought offenders
to courts under military rule. There were fines for exclaiming ’God is my
witness’, ‘I speak in the presence of God’ and even ‘Upon my life’. When the
monarchy was restored in 1690 the country returned to old systems with
Justices of the Peace and constables.
of Normanby was still linked with
Hawnby until 1682 when Bernard
Grenville and his wife Anne conveyed half of the
manor to Christiana Berkley, widow and others. In 1684 Bernard conveyed
the other half to Christopher Catford and Charles
17th century alehouses harboured 'idlers and people of evil demeanour' and
Cuthbert Cowston had garries
where hundreds danced through divine service to pipe and drum. Only the
Sun Inn remains of these notorious venues although it is likely that houses in
use today were the site of former revelry.