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History of the priory & peculiar of Snaith in the county of York online

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Gc M. L






3 1833 00728 8217







Fellow of the Univeesity of Durham ;

Author of "Chronicon Pretiosum Snathense," published bj
Statistical Society of London.

















P E E r A C E

" Snaith is a Terra Incognita, in which yon will be a
discoverer. It as well deserves to have a book to itself as do
many others which have been thns treated."

So wrote the historian of South Yorkshire, whose antiquarian
sympathies are still with the North of England, and who, like
Ralph Thoresby, never forgets to what County he belongs.
My frequent reference to his works will in some measure
express my obligation to Mr. Hunter.

Indeed, it is only since the publication of Hallamshire, that
topographers have learnt to treat separately of feudal inter-
ests and ecclesiastical affairs ; and to avoid the fate of
Dodsworth, and many others,* who have gathered much, and
printed little or nothing. Earely does the ability to digest,
and arrange, keep pace with the industry which is never
weary of collecting. No one feels, so much as the Antiquary,
the embarrassment of voluminous materials, and the tempta-
tion to insert extraneous matter which is in itself interesting.
On this account it is, that many a grand topographical design
has come to nothing. Mole sua ruit.

The present seems a suitable moment for a popular account
of those peculiar Courts, which are now all but extinct ;
although (Archteologia xxv. 360) "legal antiquities have never
yet been found amongst those 'ways of hoar antiquity' which
are ' strewn with flowers ; ' and even the most skilful, with
the exception of Judge Blackstone, have failed in making
them objects of general attention."

* For the opinions of Bishop Gibson and Bishop Nicholson as to the over
greediness of Collectors, see Thorcsby's Correspondence, I. 138, 241, 367, 402.
Mr. Hunter's may be found on page 110 of Thoresby 's Diary; pages 61 and
62, of his " Three Catalogues;" and in the Preface to South Yorkshire.

There are many obvious sources of information, which I
could have wished to consult before printing this first instal-
ment of the undescribed portion of Lower Osgodcross. But
a very incomplete book may do good, by exciting a spirit of
enquiry. Its very imperfections appeal to those who possess
muniments and personal information, which would be of
service, to communicate them to any subsequent work.

The alteration in the laws affecting title have set at liberty
many documents for a sight of which, thirty years ago, it
would have been improper to ask ; and I hope to obtain, for
my next volume, the co-operation of the land-owners, without
which, the descent of manors and property cannot be accu-
rately traced. Much might be learnt, not only from the
collections of Dodsworth, in the Bodleian, but from those of
Thoresby, Johnstone, Burton, Torre, and Hopkinson, which
remain in such good hands in their native County.

There is a growing interest, among all ranks, in works of
topography. It is true, that a paper of questions, issued by
the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, in 1832, shared the fate
of those put forth by Dr. Nathaniel Johnstone, in 1 683 ; for
hardly any replies were made to either. But, now, many
Country Gentlemen are genuine lovers of antiquarian research.
Many of the Clergy are daily proving the truth of Dr.
Whitaker's words, (Craven, p. 24*5,) — " The pursuits of Taste
are by no means incompatible with the active exertions of a
good Parish Priest." Becoming better acquainted with the
dialect, customs, and feelings of their flocks, they become
better appreciated themselves, and more useful to their people.
My warmest acknowledgments are due to a large number of
my Reverend Brethren, resident in this County, who have
obliged me with a sight of their Parish Registers.

I have also to thank the Rev. Joseph Romilly, Registrar
of the University of Cambridge ; John Sykes, Esq., M.D., of
Doncaster, and the Rev. P. C. Campbell, Principal of the

University of Aberdeen, for useful information ; Charles A.
Thiselton, Esq., for the Torre and Sharp MSS. ; George
Sutton, Esq., for the records of the Archdeacon of York ;
and George Lawton, Esq., for the records of the East Riding.
Of Mr. Lawton's admirable work, " Collections relative to the
Dioceses of York and Ripon," so often quoted in these pages,
I need only say what Archbishop Howley said, — " I wish as
much could be done for every Diocese in England."

I am indebted to William Hudson and Joseph Buckle,
Esqrs., District Registrars of Her Majesty's Court of Probate,
for access to the documents in their custody. Nothing can
exceed the good condition in which I have found the records,
not only of the Prerogative and Consistory Courts, but also of
the various Peculiars, most of which are now surrendered to
the Court of Probate. The fittings of the Registry — the
civility and readiness with which the required papers are pro-
duced, — deserve the highest commendation. No where could
the wills of Yorkshire be so well placed as at York, the
centre of this great Count}^ To remove them to London,
would be unjust towards the jDoor, who constitute full three-
fourths of those who come in person to search for their riglits ;
and not less unwise, than to remove thither all tlie Cathedral
Libraries, all the Schools of Art, every local Museum. What
these are to men who occupy themselves with Art, Science^
and Literature, Wills and Inventories are to the topographer ;
such a step, therefore, would have a depressing effect on the
study of antiquities in the North of England.

Nor would this scheme of centralization tend to increase
the stock of our knowledge. It is possible to starve in the
midst of plenty. A knowledge of local names, customs,
gentry and their connections, above all, of local dialect, is
essential to one who is to make extracts from ancient records ;
and must be acquired in the county to which the records

No man of education, however diflferent his own tastes and
pursuits may be, will despise the accumulation of facts.
Archgeology is the pioneer and the parent of history ; for, till
we have a certain amount of information, Ave can never have
a critical disquisition of any value. The inner life of a nation,
like that of a single man, is made up of an aggregate of
particulars, which are so minute as to escape the historian.

Men who give their minds to what is now known as " Social
Science," must ponder well the laws, customs, arts, arms,
commerce, opinions, and modes of thought, of former genera-
tions. They must estimate the position of men, and classes
of men, by a comparison, not with our own luxurious times,
but, with the circumstances of others who lived in their day.
This is one of the useful purposes which notices, even of
" Nothings and Nobodies," as Horace Walpole called them,
mny serve. Many a statistical fact, which to the general
reader appears unmeaning, may to the practised eye have a
deeper significance ; and hereafter figure in some larger
scheme, as the basis on which rests a train of sound reasoning.

While I offer to my late parishioners facts which closely
concern them, (in the hope of hereafter describing all the
chapelries within the ancient parish of Snaith,) I trust some
of these notices may prove interesting beyond the narrow circle
of tliose who reside in the district. We may all do something
to preserve those fast-decaying memorials which a former age
has transmitted to us, as well as to maintain the efficiency
of those Protestant benefactions which are so many abiding
witnesses to the wisdom and piety of our forefathers. It
only remains for me to say, to all who are interested in
Yorkshire Topography, " I hope these my weake endeavours
shall not altogether suffer a repulse."

Yuri; April, 1861.



A VERY singular anomaly has, for many centuries,
existed in the Church of England. Certain parishes
and places have obtained exemption from the jurisdic-
tion of the bishop in whose diocese they are locally
situate. They have refused to attend the archdea-
con's visitation, or to recognize him as their ordinary.
They acknowledged obedience to the ecclesiastical law
of the land ; but it was dispensed by a spiritual judge,
appointed by the proprietor of the peculiar.

There are no less than six of these exempt juris-
dictions, comprising one hundred and ten churches and
chapels, within the limits of the ancient diocese of
York, as it subsisted previous to the erection of the
see of llipon : — the dean and chapter's court, the
deaner}' court, the peculiar court of Southwell, the
peculiar court of 8elby, the peculiar court of Snaitli,
and the pecuhar court of Alne and Tollerton. To
which may be added the peculiar court of Acomb.


(Vid. Lawton's Collectio. p. 46.) There are also three
peculiar courts locally situate within the county of
York, but belonging to the cathedral church of Dur-
ham : — the peculiar episcopal court of Allerton and
AUertonshire ; the peculiar court of the dean and
chapter of Durham, (which claims jurisdiction over
the parishes of Brompton, Deighton, Kirkby Sigston,
Northallerton, West Rounton, and Worsall ;) and the
peculiar court of Howden, Howdenshire, and Heming-
brough. And there is at Middleham the royal and
exempt jurisdiction of the deanery of that place.

There were also certain prebendal and other courts,
thirty-one in number, which by custom had respec-
tively the right of granting probates and administra-
tions within certain towns and villages, where they
also held visitations ; but the contentious jurisdiction
belonged to the dean and chapter of York ; and the
dean and chapter still exercise the right of granting
marriage licences for the respective parishes within
such jurisdiction. Therefore, these thirty-one pre-
bendal and other courts are now virtually extinct.

" At the lleformation, by an oversight, the peculiars
were not restored to the jurisdiction of the diocesan,
but remained under the king, or under such other
person as by custom or purchase obtained the right of
superintendence." Hook's Church Dictionary.

Although an Order in Council of August 1846
restored them to the ordinary, and the recent Eccle-
siastical Courts Bill [of 1857] deprived them of all
testamentary jurisdiction, they still boast of a judge.


registrar, and several surrogates, and their power to
grant marriage licences continues undiminished.

Burns, in his Ecclesiastical Law, enumerates nine
kinds of peculiars ; and Swinburne, who was himself
judge of Howdeu peculiar, says (427) that they arose
" from prescription, composition, or other special title."
It may be safely asserted, as a general rule, that they
sprang up in one of two wa3'-s : either out of their
connection with some monastery which was dependent
on the pope alone ; such as were St. John the Evan-
gelist of Pontefract, and St. Werbergh of Chester, who
boasted themselves, in the year 1484, to be " immedi-
ately subject to the court of Rome." (Durham Obituary
Rolls, Surtees' Societ}'', pp. 6. 175.) Or from episcopal
authority, delegated to them for the better convenience
of the public, and the more effectual maintenance of
discipline. The custom, (which has prevailed from
time immemorial, in the dioceses of York and Chester,)
that, Avhcnever the bishop holds his visitations, the
judges of these inferior courts are inhibited * for six
months from exercising any spiritual functions, points
to the source whence those powers are derived, and
thus perpetuates the fact of their subordination.

There was an excellent reason why Snaith should be
the seat of an ecclesiastic, invested with the powers
of a rural dean, when the remarks of bishop Stilling-
fleet, (quoted on p. 153 of Mr. Daunsey's first volume,)
are considered. For, from the 14th century it has had

* See Burns' Eccl. Law, Ed Tyrwlutt, vol. iv. p. 16, under the
head Visitation.


five independent chapelries ; and at the present day
has ten. The area of the parish, from which certain
townships have been severed and united to AdHngfleet,
is 41,990 acres.

After the Reformation, the impropriator succeeded
to the powers of the abbot and convent, and is styled
" Ordinary,^' in the Enclosure Act of 2nd George IL,
1754. But all pubHc acts were sped by his official ;
who continued to be a person in holy orders till the
year 1751. "Neither in fact, nor in presumption of
law, nor hahituailter, could a lay rector, as such, have
cure of souls." (Cripps' Laws of the Clergy. Ed. 1857,
p. 148.) And the impropriator doubtless felt that a
spiritual person would best discharge the weighty
responsibilities of a spiritual judge.

For the history of the office, powers, and duties of
the rural dean in general, it is only necessary to refer
to the learned and curious work of Mr. Daunsey. —
(Horae Decanicse Rurales. 2nd ed. 1844. Vol. I. p.
188. Vol. II. p. 364 ; a work full of valuable infer-
mation, to which I am under very great obhgations.)
An accurate sketch of their powers (it professes to be
nothing more) has been given by Mr. Hunter, in the
first page of his South Yorkshire ; and on a later page
will be found some account of those who exercised the
office, under the name of " Decani Christianitatis,"
within the diocese of York.

The judge of the peculiar court of Snaith had the
title, and discharged all the functions appurtenant to
the office of dean rural. Mr. Daunsey says, (Vol. iii.


p. 46,) that the deccanal conventions, — otherwise called
consistories, chapters, calends, synods, and sessions, —
were inspectional and correctional courts of spiritual
judicature, wherein was originally transacted much of
the contentious jurisdiction, which now (1840) belongs
to the ecclesiastical court. He enumerates twelve dis-
tinct powers, and I proceed to illustrate their exercise
by the dean of Snaith.

First. — He proved wills. Nearly four thousand wills
and inventories are preserved in the registry of the
peculiar. Nor was he Kmited to those of a small
amount, as the dean of Chester was, till the year 1615;
for the inventory of George Metham, Esq., of Polling-
ton, dated 1598, amounts to more than four hundred
pounds ; at that time a very large sum.

Secondly/. — He granted letters of administration ;
except wiiere the bona notabiUa outside the jurisdiction
exceeded five pounds. In such cases, they could issue
only from the prerogative court of the archbishop.

Thirdly/. — He summoned the clergy in rural synod ;
and eight such annual meetings, with the names of
those present, between the years 1601 and 1721, are
recorded in the court books.

Fourthly. — He summoned the churchwardens to his
visitation ; admitted them to their office ; received
their presents, and took cognizance of all ecclesiastical
crimes and misdemeanours. From 1601 to 1610, there
is a copy of these " bills of health ;" and from the
year 1694, the originals have been preserved.

> 14

Some few of these are of general interest, as throw-
ing hght upon the state of civiUzation of the day, and
the miscellaneous nature of the charges enquired into
by these courts.

1600. WiUiam Myers for crying " yowle " in Armyn
churche, to the abuse thereof. (This was a term of
abuse and derision. See Drake's Eboracum, p. 217.)
William Topliffe, of Roclif, for mowinge upon the saboth

1601. Isabel Dawson, of Redness, for gleaninge and
gathering pescods or beane codds upon the saboth day.
Francis Waill, of Swinflete, for baininge and cursinge.
Robert Pickhaver, of Roclif, for not paieing the minister's
wages. Ann, wife of John Tailior, of Redness, for
scoldinge with her neighbours, and calling them witches,
disciueting them at the tyme of the travaill of Briget,
wife of Robert Lunde, and scorninge her in her travaill
when she cryed with paine.

1602. Thomas Snawsell, Brian Metham, and others,
" for plaieinge at the foote-ball in the church yeard of
Snathe." Confessed the charge ; " saieinge the use
hath bene tyme out of mynde.'' Anne Tailior, of Red-
ness, for " cursinge and miscalling her neighbors. She
is known to be a common scold, cursor, banner, envious
person, blasphemer, a sower of dissention and sedition,
a daly backbiter of all her neighbors." Ordered to
do penance in the church or chapel of Whitgift. Even
the civil court occasionally noticed such outbreaks of
bad temper. Complaint was made at the court holden
May 28, Henry VIII., (1536), against the wife of


Richard Palmer, "qiia3 objiirgatrix et pertiirbatrix
vicinicorum cum diris rixis." Katlieriue Glover, of
Mawgre, for not being catechised, and contemning the
minister's admonitions.

1604. William Heppinstall, of Carleton, for plaieing
at cards and dice in service tyme. William Halliwell,
for fightinge in the church yeai-d of Snaithe the Twelfth
day last. His defence was " Thacker begonne."

IGOO. Anthony Gathorne, of Snaith, for selling and
killing wares upon the saboth day. Roger Ward, of
Pollington, for bowleinge upon the saboth day.

1732. James Kirby, and others, of Carleton, for
prophaining the Lord's day by following thereupon
unlawful sports and pastimes.

1765. Thomas England, of Rawcliffe, for leading
corn on Sunday the 26th August.

If these charges were made good, ecclesiastical cen-
sures, civil disabihties, and pecuniary fines followed.
Although certain learned jurists have doubted whether
rural deans in general had power to use ecclesiastical
censures, there is ample proof, from the two correction
books, and the numerous penances returned to the
court, of which the latest is certified as having been
performed in 1780, that this power was exercised by
the dean of Snaith.

A letter to the registrar of Snaith, dated Sep. 1 7,
1718, runs thus: — "The woman (Ingham) cited for
defamation, declares that she will not appear, upon a
notion that the court can only proceed to an excom-
munication against her, which she nothing regards.


The husband is able, and may thank us for correcting
her obstinacy."

Fifihhj. — He could proceed in causes for subtraction
of tithe. The registrar of Snaith is desired, May 13,
1723, to " cite Francis Michell, of Moor-Ends, for tithes
due to \Yilliam Gossop, gent."

Sixthly. — He had control over the fabric and furni-
ture of the churches, and the churchyard walls. The
churchwardens of Armin are ordered in 1601, "to
repaire the roofe of the chapel, provide a bible, and
common booke (sic), repaire the stalls, and get a cover
for the fonte." The churchwardens of Rochfif, who had
been excommunicated for not repairing their part of
Snaith churchyard wall, appeared May 4, 1602 ; "and,
because the churchyard walls of Snaith, belonging to
the town of Rocliff are in consequence repaired," are
dismissed. William Walker, is presented in 1764, for
erecting a new pew in the chapel of Eawcliffe without
the licence of the ordinary. 1792, Nov. 8, a faculty
was granted for erecting a gallery at Swinfleet.

Seventhly. — He appointed an officer called an appa-
ritor, or somner ; who is also styled in provincial canons
bedel, messenger, and informer. His duty was to serve
citations, and none was deemed canonical which was not
so executed. At present, the principal part of his
occupation consists in making proclamation at the
archdeacon's visitations. The undue increase of these
persons, their eager touting for business, and their
rapacity, brought great scandal on the church ; and
was very similar to the feelings of dislike (Durham


Obituary Rolls, Surtees' Society, p. xxviii.) entertained
towards the " brief bearer " of former ages.

The Rev. Henry Laybourne, rector of Everingham
from 1708 to 1755, thus writes in 1718,— "Tho ye
apparitor Jefferson tells you he had very good grounds
to believe I knew ye person who marryed my parish-
ioners, 3'et this I affirm, as I did before, I do not, nor
ever did, know ye sd person yt goes under yt name or
any other. And one wd have thought, yt a priest of
the Ch : of England wn an assertion is given under his
hand, sh'd be more credited, yn wt an Apparitor w'd
boldly suggest to ye contrary. But it seems my credit,
wt ever others are, is brought to a low ebb, wn it stands
in competit : wth an Apparitor, * *." (Records of the
Archdeacon of the East Riding.)

Mr. Daunsey states (vol. I. p. 387) that " the dean
rural continued to employ this servant till the period of
the Reformation, when the latter entirely disappeared."
Snaith however forms an exception to this rule ; for in
1577, occurs the item "Pd to ye somner 4d ;" one
William Slacke, of Whitgift, " apparitor," appears fiUing
that office from 1585 to 1607 ; and Mr. Plumpton
writes thus on March 18, 1722-3 : — "I wish you would
recommend the barber Carter to be apparitor ; Lang-
horn, who else stands fairest, is a very noisy, litigious,
drunken fellow, and always of Hudson's faction." In
fact, thirty years later, one Mark Carter held that

EightJihj. — He granted licences to curates, school-
masters, parish clerks, midwives, and practitioners in


physic. The parish register states, under February
1594-5 — "here entered Hugo Boack Clark, (at the
prescription of the wpfuU Walter Jobson, Esquire,) to
serve ye cure of Snaithe.") And it was returned for
answer in the Notitia Parochialis (CoUectio I. p. 254)
of 1 705, — "Sir Thomas Yarburgh finds a clerk to serve
the cure, who is visitable by the archbishop."

1608, Oct. 11, Thomas Nicholson, clerk of Carleton,
and minister of Snayth, is presented " for runninge all
over the country, preachinge of two bossomed sermons
without lycence, nor any gifts thereunto belonginge,
and servinge without admission " (Snaith Correction

1751, Sept. 28, Robert Greenwood was licensed as
assistant curate and schoolmaster of Snaith, by Henry
Plumpton, commissary of the peculiar jurisdiction.
(Archbishop's Exhibit Book, 1770.)

In 1756, John Coulson, of Swinefleet, is presented
for teaching school without hcense ; and a letter from
Charles Yarburgh, Esq., of Heslington, dated Dec. J 6,
1782, appointing the Rev. Edward Bracken, the
younger, head master of the Grammar School at Snaith,
and desiring that a license for the same might issue, is
endorsed " license issued, Dec. 30." I have not found
any licence to a parish clerk or surgeon ; but a certifi-
cate is extant, dated Apr. 27, 1736, from certain " grave
and elderly matrons, who are convinced by personal
experience and observation, of the skill of Mary, wife
of John Hart, of RawclifF, about child-bed women at
their time of deliver}^, in cases ordinary and extraordi-


nary." (See p. 280, of Dean Granville. Surtees' Society,
1860.) The oath administered by the ordinary to
midwives, may be found in Burns' Ecclesiastical Law.
Vol. II., pp. 612-515. Ed. Tyrwhitt.

Ninthly. — He granted licenses for marriage ; amongst
the large number filed in this registry, are two, which
deserve mention, as connecting two of our Yorkshire
antiquaries with this district.

" John Johnson, of Swinflet, clerke, and Elizabeth
Hobson, 19th Oct. 1627," the parents of Dr. Nathaniel
Johnstone, of Pontefract ; who, whatever his deficien-
cies in other ways might be, assuredly did not lack
genius. (See Dugdale's Visitation, p. 6. Hunter's
South Yorkshire, Vol. II., p. 466. Boothroyd's Ponte-
fract, 494, 347, and his own account of the family of
Foljambe in vol. ii. of the Collectanea Topographica.)
In 1710, administration of Nath. Johnston of Ponte-
fract, was granted to Eliza Ellison, of Highway, parish
of Darton ; and on 15th Feb. 1710-1, she having died
intestate, by Sir Francis North, Kt., justice of Queen's
Bench, to Charles Johnston, M.D., principal creditor.

" Thomas Hinderwell, of Scarbrough, mariner, and
Rebeckah Margrave, 29th Nov. 1738," the parents of
Thomas Hinderwell, the historian of Scarborough ; who
had the good fortune to see his useful work, first pub-
lished in 1798, reach a second edition in 1811. It is
generally admitted, by persons who would not agree
with all that is advanced by Mr. D'oyley Bayley in the

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Online LibraryCharles Best RobinsonHistory of the priory & peculiar of Snaith in the county of York → online text (page 1 of 12)