1000 - 1600 AD

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1000 AD

One 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 Spaunton forest.


Laws were 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.


The 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


This 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.


1066 AD

William 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.


As a 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 nation.


William 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 Berewick (An outlying estate) 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.


A bridge 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 '.


1100 AD

The 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).


1200 AD

King John 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 properties.


Double Dyke position

John also 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).


Alan died 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.



1300 AD

St Mary's 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 about 1334.


There were economic problems with poor harvests in 1308 -10 and 1315.


1346 was 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.


The lifespan of the average person in these days was 38.

1400 AD

You may 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 illegitimate children!


Law and 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.


The fifth 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 Sinnington'.


1500 AD

The Manor 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.


Many 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.


Henry the 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.


In 1555 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.


In 1585 leases of the capital messuage of lands in Thornton were granted to John MilborneThis 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 Edmund.


1600 AD

 In 1613 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.


There 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.


In the 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 death.


William Harvey became personal physician to King Charles the First.  Harvey published his theory on the circulation of the blood in 1628.


From 1625 onwards we still have access to the parish records of St Andrews ,Normanby.  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 trusts.

1632 Latin Document

1632 Latin Document translated

The 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.


The Manor 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 Bishop.


Several 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.




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