A MONOGRAPH OFFERED AS A CONTRIBUTION TO THE GENERAL HISTORY AND TOPOGRAPHY OF THE EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE.
By ROBERT DAVIES, F.S.A.
Grimthorpe is a hamlet or township situate at the western extremity of the Yorkshire Wolds, where the chalk formation, after having attained its extreme altitude, descends by alternate gentle undulations and abrupt slopes to the edge of the great central vale of the county. This, and the adjoining township of Great Givendale, together form the parish of Great Givendale or Givendale Magna, which is a portion of the Hundred of Wilton Beacon, one of the divisions of the Wapentake of Harthill in the East Riding.
The name of the place is indicative of its antiquity. Grim [Grimr] was one of the various appellations by which Scandinavian deity Odin was distinguished, and was a favourite personal name both in that country, and with the Norse-men who settled in England, one of whom was, doubtless, the original founder of Grimthorpe. Grim1 is used as the prefix in the nomenclature of numerous places in this country, and especially along the line of the eastern coast, which was most exposed to the raids of the Vikings in the ninth and tenth centuries.
The suffix Thorpe (old Norse and Anglo-Saxon, ponpe; Danish and Swedish, Torp) is equivalent to village or hamlet. Written Torp it occurs very frequently in the Domesday Survey of Yorkshire.
At the time of the Domesday Survey [a.d. 1086] Grimthorpe and the adjacent vills of Givendale, Fangfoss, and Meltonby were within the soke of Pocklington, a manor of great extent, which was then in manu regis having been previously held by the English earl Morcar whose possessions had been confiscated. The record states that 8 carucates of land in Metelbi, 4 carucates in Grimtorp, 8 in Frangefos, and 8 in Ghiuedale, were then part of the terra regis. The earliest proprietor of Grimthorpe of whom we have any account, subsequently to the Conquest, bore the Norman name of William, but his paternity indicates that he was of Scandinavian or Anglo-Danish descent. He is called William the son of UIf in a charter of King Henry the First, of which the following is a copy:-
"Henricus2 rex Anglico, archiepiscopo Eboraci, etc., salutem. Sciatis me concessisse Willielmo filio Ulfi, et haeredibus suis post mortem ejus, in feodo et haereditate, terram suam de Fangefosse et de Thorpe, et de Meltenebia et de Geveldala.Tenendum de me pro quatuor libris inde reddendis mihi per annum. Testibus, Roberto de Ferrariis3 et Rogero de Valoniis, et Fornone filio Ligulfi.4 Apud Nottingham.”
When William the son of Ulf was thus enfeoffed as tenant of the king in capite, the vills of Grimthorpe, Fangfoss, Meltonby, and Givendale ceased to be berewicks or members of the great manor of Pocklington, and together formed one manor which was called the manor of Grimthorpe.
It is highly probable that the Ulf named in this charter was the same person as Ulf the son of Thorald, the munificent benefactor to the church of St. Peter of York. Several of the townships included in his gift to the church are in the immediate vicinity of the lands which were granted or confirmed by King Henry the First to his son, and some of them, even now distinguished as terra Ulfi, remain in the possession of St. Peter at this time.
William Fitz-Ulf, like his father, was a benefactor to the church, but upon a smaller scale. Ten years before the death of Henry I. (1126) he gave to the priory of Hexham, as a perpetual alms, 4 bovates of land in Geveldale, part of the fee granted to him by the charter of that monarch. This gift was afterwards confirmed by a charter of Ralph fitz Ralph, the grandson of the original donor. 5
Upon the death of William the son of Ulf, Grimthorpe passed to his son and heir Ralph, who, in the Pipe-roll for Yorkshire and Northumberland of the 31st Henry I. (1131), is denominated Ralph Fitz- William. He married Emma de Teisa [Surtees], with whom he had in free dotage the manor of Nesham in the county of Durham. His successor Ralph Fitz-Ralph, obtained from King Richard I. a renewal of his charter of infeudation of 4 carucates of land in Grimthorpe, 14 bovates in Ghivedale, 4 carucates and 5 bovates in Fangfoss, and 3 carucates in Meltonby. These lands were granted to be held of the king in capite, subject to a reserved rent of £3. 12s. 0d. per annum.6 Ralph Fitz Ralph died about the year 1197, and was succeeded by his son.
William Fitz-Ralph, who married Johanna, the daughter of Stephen de Meisnill, the founder of the family of Meinill, or Meynell, of Whorlton Castle in Cleveland.
Ralph Fitz- William, the issue of this marriage, was living in the 12th year of King Henry III. (1228). He married Johanna, the daughter of Thomas, Lord Greystock of Greystock, in the county of Cumberland.
William Fitz-Ralph, their son, in the 53rd year of King Henry III. (1269), had a grant of free warren in his manors of Grimthorpe and Hinderskelf. This is the earliest evidence that has occurred of Hinderskelf having been part of the possessions of the lords of Grimthorpe. William Fitz-Ralph left two sons. Gilbert, the elder, died in the 24th year of King Edward I. (1295), without issue, and was succeeded by his brother,
Ralph, who, upon becoming the head of his family, was summoned to Parliament as a Baron of England, by the name of Ralph Fitzwilliam, lord of Grimthorpe.His ancient lineage and his eminent military services had doubtless contributed to obtain for him this mark of the favour of his war-like sovereign. He had already distinguished himself in the military expeditions of King Edward the First, both on the Continent and in Scotland. In 1297, when Edward sailed with an army to France to recover the duchy of Guienne, of which Philip the French king had fraudulently taken possession, among the noble warriors who accompanied him were Lord Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe and his kinsman John Lord Greystock ; and it was whilst they were encamped together at Odymor on the 17th of August, 1297, that the latter, who had no issue, prevailed upon the king to grant him a licence to enable him to enfeoff RalphFitzwilliam with his paternal inheritance of the manor and barony of Greystock7
Under the settlement which John de Greystock was thus empowered to execute, his vast possessions in Cumberland and Yorkshire passed upon his death, in the year 1305, to his kinsman the Lord of Grimthorpe, to the exclusion of his own brother and sister, who were then living, and thus RalphFitzwilliam became Lord of Greystock. Yet in every subsequent summons he received to Parliament during the remainder of his life he was addressed as " Radulphus filius Willielmi de Grimthorpe."
In the 25th, 26th, and 27th years of Edward L he served with horse and arms in the Scottish wars, and acquitted himself so much to the king's satisfaction, that at the conclusion of the last of those campaigns he was made Lieutenant of Yorkshire and Warden of the Marches, and was joined with the Bishop of Durham and others in a commission for fortifying the castles in Scotland. At the celebrated siege of the castle of Caerlaverock in the year 1300, he held a command in the first squadron of the English army, under Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. The ancient bard who sang the feats of arms performed by the English warriors on this memorable occasion, has devoted a stanza to the brilliant appearance of the Lord of Grimthorpe : -
" Rauf le filz Guilleme autrement,
Ke cil de Valence portoit,
Car en lieu de Merles metoit
Trois chapeaus de roses vermeilles
Ee bien seoient a merveilles.''8
Ralph Fitzwilliam * was one of the sturdy barons of England who firmly resisted the attempted papal aggression of that day. The name of " Radulphus filius Willielmi, dominus de Grimthorp'' is subscribed to the well-known letter to Pope Boniface VIII., agreed upon at Lincoln on the 12th of February, 1301, in which the barons asserted that "the crown of England was free and sovereign that they had sworn to maintain its prerogatives, and that they would not consent that the king himself, even if he were willing, should relinquish its independency.”
In 1303, and afterwards in the spring of the year 1306, Ralph Fitzwilliam was again engaged in the Scottish wars. He now served under that distinguished nobleman Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and was in his train when, after the murder of the Comyn, he was ordered by King Edward to chastise the presumption of the Scottish hero by whom that murder was perpetrated.
After the accession of Edward II. we find Ralph Fitzwilliam still taking a prominent part in the expeditions against the Scots, being again in the retinue of Aymer de Valence. But military affairs did not exclusively occupy his attention.
In March, 1310, the peers assembled in parliament extorted from their youthful sovereign the appointment of a committee, who, under the name of ordainers, were " to regulate the royal household, and redress the grievances of the nation." Ralph Fitzwilliam was a party to this reform movement, and was one of the peere intrusted with the duty of naming the committee. As soon as the ordainers were nominated, the king, eager to withdraw from their presence, summoned his military retainers to follow him into Scotland, and the Lord of Grimthorpe was again at his post in the field. On this occasion, Robert Fitz-Ralph, his eldest son, was one of the warriors in his father's retinue.10 A few weeks before the fatal battle of Bannockburn, the English army assembled at Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the king appointed Ralph Fitzwilliam governor of that important fortress. He was also joined with Lord Moubray and others in the wardenship of the Marches. In the following year he was appointed governor of Carlisle.
In April, 1315, a council of war was summoned by Archbishop Greenfield to meet at Doncaster, to provide for the safety of the kingdom, being threatened with invasion by the Scots. Among a great number of knights and gentry of Yorkshire, to whom summonses were sent, are the following:- " Dominus Radulphus filius Willelmi & Dominus Petrusde Malstaen, principales capitanei.11
This chivalrous warrior and eminent statesman, whose character and exploits shed lustre on the name of Fitz William of Grimthorpe, died in the year 1316, at a good old age, and was buried in the church of the priory of Nesham, in the county of Durham, of which his ancestors were founders. In the garden belonging to the private residence of a lady at Hurworth near Hexham (Mr. Surtees12 informs us) you may now see the remains of a very gallant monumental effigy which was removed from the ruins of Nesham Abbey.
" The effigy is, as usual, recumbent: the hands elevated and clasped on the breast; the sword hangs from a rich baldrick ornamented with quatrefoils ; the legs are mutilated, but rest on a lion which seems defending itself against several dogs.'' An engraving of the monument accompanies this description, which enables us to trace upon the warrior's shield the coat-armour borne by the Fitzwilliams of Grimthorpe.
After Ralph Fitzwilliam, the first baron of Grimthorpe, had succeeded to the title and lands of Greystock, neither he nor his descendants abandoned the beautiful coat-armour of his paternal ancestors; viz. Barry of sixteen argent and azure, three chaplets of red roses, with which they were content to quarter the less pleasing arms of the Greystocks, viz. gules three cushions or pillows argent or ermine. Examples of both these coats are depicted in the glass of the chapter-house of York Minster, and the Grimthorpe arms are sculptured in stone in other parts of that glorious church.
Many years before the death of his elder brother (10 Edw. I.) Ralph Fitzwilliam had married by the king's licence, for which he paid a fine of 100 marks, Margery de Bolebec, the widow of Nicholas Corbet, and one of the daughters and coheirs of Hugh de Bolbec, a Northumberland baron. By her he had two sons, of whom William, the eldest, died without issue in his father’s lifetime.
ROBERT, the eldest surviving son of Ralph Fitzwilliam, was forty years old when he succeeded his father. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Ralph Neville of Scotton in Lincolnshire, who survived him, and had for her dowry lands at Brunnum (Nunburnholme), Butterwyk, and ThorpBasset. He died within a year after the death of his father, which accounts for his never having sat in Parliament at Lord of Grimthorpe. He was buried in the ancient chapel of Butterwick, where his widow was also buried, in compliance with her desire expressed in a nuncupative will made on the 25th November, 1346. He was succeeded by his eldest son.
RALPH, who was seventeen years only when his father died.In the 14th, 15th and 16th years of Edward II. (1320-1323) he was summoned to Parliament by the name of Ralph de Greystock, and from thenceforth the surname of Greystock became the hereditary patronymic of the family. Although the barony in respect of which he and his descendants sat in Parliament was really that of Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe, and they were not in fact the right heirs of the barony of Greystock,13 they were summoned as Barons of Graystock, and no other title was afterwards recognised. He married14 Alice daughter of Hugh Lord Audley, and died in the year 1323, it is supposed by poison15 at the very early age of twenty-five, leaving William, his son and heir, only three years old. His widow had Grimthorpe assigned to her as part of her dower, but she afterwards married Ralph Lord Neville of Raby.
WILLIAM DE GREYSTOCK16 attained his majority in the 15th year of Edward III. (1341), and sat as Baron of Greystock in all the parliaments held between the 22nd and 31st years of that reign. He married Joanna, daughter of Henry Lord Fitz-Hugh of Ravensworth, by whom he had issue three sons, Ralph, William, and Robert, and one daughter Alice. He died on the 10th of July, 33 Edward III. (1359).
Ralph Lord Greystock, like his two immediate predecessors, was a minor when his father died, being only six years old, his mother and grandmother both living. He was regularly summoned to Parliament as Baron of Greystock for the long period of forty years, viz. from the 28th December, 49 Edward III., to the 5th October, 4 Henry V. In the 16th year of Richard 11. (1392-3), he obtained from the Crown a charter of confirmation of the fee of his ancestor Ralph Fitz Ralph in lands at Grimthorpe, Givendale, Fangfoss, and Meltonby, comprised in the charter of Richard I., previously referred to17 He married Katherine,18 daughter of Roger Lord Clifford, and died in April, 1417, leaving issue his eldest surviving son,
John Lord Greystock, then 28 years old. He married a lady of royal descent - Elizabeth, eldest daughter and coheir of Robert Lord Ferrers of Wemme and Oversley, by his wife Joan Beaufort, the only daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his third wife Katharine Swynford. He died on the 8th of August, 1436. In his will, which was made on the 10th of the preceding month, he speaks of the household goods and utensils within his manor of Hyldreskelf, castle of Morpeth, and castle of Greystock, but the manor-house of Grimthorpe is not mentioned. We may conclude, therefore, that before the close of the fifteenth century the ancient hall of Grimthorpe had been partly deserted by its lords. Its charms had yielded to the greater attractions of the feudal fortresses of Greystock or Morpeth, and the stately towers of Hynderskelf ; whilst the honours so nobly won and worn by Ralph Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe were merged in the more ancient but not more illustrious titles of Greystock and Dacre. John de Greystock was succeeded by his eldest son,
Ralph de Greystock, the last Lord de Greystock of that name, who was 22 years old at his father's death. This nobleman was by maternal descent the great-great-grandson of King Edward III., and being by his grandmother's second marriage brought into close relationship with the house of York, we are not surprised to find him frequently employed in public affairs during the reign of King Edward IV. He was summoned to Parliament "throughout all the time of the dreadful conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster," and died in the second year after the accession of King Henry VII.19 Ralph Lord Greystock married, first, in 1435, Elizabeth, daughter of William Lord Fitzhugh. He is said to have married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Tyrrell, but his widow's name was Beatrice (Hattcliffe), she re-married, in 1490, Robert Constable, esq., serjeant-at-law, whom she survived. Robert de Greystock,20 his eldest son by his first wife, died in his father's lifetime (1st Ric. III.), having been twice married, first to Margaret, daughter of Lord Ferrars of Groby, who died without issue, and secondly to Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund Grey, Earl of Kent, by whom he had only one child, a daughter, who was named Elizabeth, and upon her devolved all the honours and estates of her grandfather Ralph Lord de Greystock. Thus terminated, after the lapse of nearly two centuries, the descent in male succession of the barony of Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe.
Elizabeth de Greystock, the granddaughter and sole heir of the last Lord Greystock, married Thomas Lord Dacre of Gillesland, and carried into that family the lordship of Grimthorpe with the rest of her inheritance. She died on the 13th of August, 8 Henry VIII. (1516). Her husband survived her, and died in 1525. Their eldest son and heir was
William Lord Dacre of Gillesland, who was first summoned to Parliament in the 21st year of Henry VIII (1529) as “William Dacre de Dacre & Greystok.'' He died on the 12th of November, 1563, leaving by his wife Elizabeth, fifth daughter of George, fourth earl of Shrewsbury, a son and heir,
Thomas Lord Dacre of Gillesland, whose first wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Ralph Nevile, Earl of Westmorland. She died without issue, and he married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Francis Leybourne, knight, of Cunswick in the county of Westmorland, and by her had one son and three daughters. Lord Dacre died on the 1st of July, 1566, but having survived his father so short a time, he was never summoned to Parliament. He was succeeded by his only son,
Georqe Lord Dacre of Gillesland, then only five years old. He was summoned to Parliament in September, 1566, being described in the writ as “infra aetatem.'' He died on the 17th of May, 1569, in the eighth year of his age, having survived his father scarcely three years. During that short interval the boy's mother became the third wife of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. She did not survive her second marriage more than a twelvemonth, and having constituted her second husband the guardian of her children by the first, they after her death continued to reside with the duke their stepfather, at his seat of Thetford in Norfolk. Upon the premature death of the juvenile Lord Dacre, which was attributed to an accident, but not without suspicion of foul play, 21 the manor of Grimthorpe, with the other estates of the Fitzwilliam in the East Riding, and the vast possessions of the Greystocks of Greystock and Morpeth, and the Dacres of Gilsland, again passed into female hands. The coheirs of George the last of the lords Dacre of Gilsland were his three sisters, who were all minors when the death of their brother brought to them this accumulation of wealth. The duke, their stepfather, having obtained from the Crown a grant of their wardship and marriage, thought it unnecessary to look beyond his own family for husbands suitable to their rank and quality. Anne, the eldest of his three wards, who was just fifteen years old at her brother's death, became the wife of the duke's eldest son Philip, afterwards Earl of Arundel, who died a prisoner in the Tower on the 19th of November, 1595, in his 39th year, By him she had an only child, Thomas Howard, fifth duke of Norfolk, who, from her, inherited the castle and lands of Greystock in Cumberland,22 which have been ever since enjoyed by his descendants, dukes of Norfolk.
Elizabeth, the second of the three daughters of Thomas LordDacre, was selected by the duke her stepfather to be the wife of Lord William Howard, his second son by his second wife, the heiress of Lord Audley ; and to her lot appears to have fallen the largest share of her family inheritance. She carried to her husband Grimthorpe and Hinderskelf, and the other Yorkshire property which had belonged to the barony of Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe, as well as Naworth, the border castle of the Dacres, and the castle and lands of Morpeth, with other large estates in Northumberland which the Dacres had derived from the Greystocks.
Mary, the youngest sister, it seems most probable, died unmarried, although, according to Dugdale, she was intended to have been the wife of Lord Thomas Howard, the duke's eldest son by his second marriage, who succeeded to the inheritance of his mother, and was afterwards made Earl of Suffolk.
But if the duke were permitted to dispose of the property of his wards for the advantage of his sons, it was beyond his power to assign to either of them the ancient honours which the ancestors of their wives had so long enjoyed. The baronies of Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe, Greystock of Greystock, - and Dacre of Gillesland, fell into abeyance and remain so to this day.
Lord William Howard and his lady are said to have lived in happy wedlock for more than sixty years.23 Her wealth obtained for her, among the humorists of the north country, the sobriquet of "Bessie with the broad apron.” He was distinguished by those bold and chivalrous qualities that caused the name of " Belted Will," by which he is now best known, to be a terror to evil doers.. The poet's not quite accurate picture of him is familiar to every one.
" Costly his garb - his Flemish ruff
Fell o'er his doublet, shaped of buff,
With satin slash'd and lined;
Tawny his boot, and gold his spur,
His cloak was all of Poland fur,
His hose with silver twined;
His Bilboa blade, by Marchmen felt.
Hung in a broad and studded belt ;
Hence, in rude phrase, the borderers still
Call'd noble Howard ' Belted Will.' " 24
Naworth Castle, the ancient stronghold of the Greystocks, and afterwards of Lord William Howard and his descendants, is rich in heraldic memorials of the successive lords of Grimthorpe. In Lord William Howard's bed-room, among other heraldic decorations, are the gartered coats with the motto " Fort en Loialté.” The arms are
I. Greystock impaling Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe.
II. Dacre quartering Vaux, Multon, and Morville.
III. Boteler impaling a vaire coat for Ferrers of Wemme. The chaplets of red roses are seen upon some curious bosses and other carvings placed upon the walls.
The seal of Ralph Lord Greystock and Wemme, the last of the barons of Greystock, who died in 1487, bears Quarterly, 1 and 4. Fitzwilliam of Grimthorpe quartering Greystock ; 2 and 3. A fess cheeky between six cross croslets fitchée. Crest, a double plume of five feathers issuing from a crown celestial.25 The supporters of the arms of Grimthorpe were two silver dolphins.
Having thus traced the descent of the manor of Grimthorpe to the possession of a scion of the noble family of Howard, its subsequent history may be told in a few words.
"Belted Will" lived until the year 1640, having survived " Bessie with the broad apron " ten or eleven years."26 The lives of both were prolonged to witness the birth of a descendant in the third generation, who was destined not only to inherit their large possessions, but to become the founder of one of the most distinguished of the houses of English nobility. This was Charles Howard, the second but eldest surviving son of Sir William Howard, whose father Sir Philip Howard, the eldest son of Lord William Howard, died in his father's lifetime. He was born in the year 1628, was sheriff of Cumberland in the year 1650, and made lord lieutenant of Westmorland in the year 1660. Soon after the restoration of King Charles II., the attachment of himself and his family to the royal cause was rewarded by his advancement to the dignity of the peerage. On the 20th of April, 1661, he was created Baron Dacre of Gillesland, Viscount Howard of Morpeth, and Earl of Carlisle.
Upon the death of Charles Howard, first earl of Carlisle, the manor of Grimthorpe which had descended to him from his celebrated ancestors Lord William Howard and Elizabeth Dacre, passed from father to son, successively earls of Carlisle, until it devolved upon Frederick the fifth earl, who succeeded to the title on the 2nd of September, 1758.
In the year 1765 an act of parliament was passed by which a large portion of the estates of the earls of Carlisle, in Yorkshire, Northumberland, Cumberland, and Durham, was vested in trustees with power of sale. About thirty years afterwards, under the powers of this act, the ancient manor or lordship of Grimthorpe, which had been in the possession of the Howards and their lineal ancestors for more than six centuries, was transferred into the hands of strangers. Grimthorpe was purchased by the trustees and executors of the will of Dame Ann Denison, widow of Sir Thomas Denison, one of the justices of the court of King's Bench. Under the provisions of this lady's will, the property ultimately devolved upon Maria Beverley, only daughter of William Beverley of Beverley, esquire, she being the great-grand-daughter of Mary Harrison, the sister of Lady Denison, and the wife of Stephen Harrison of Stub house near Harewood. In the year 1814, Maria Beverley was married to Edmund Beckett, esquire, younger brother of Sir John Beckett, baronet and they then assumed the additional surname of Denison, and to them the manor and estate of Grimthorpe now belong.
I have already intimated that before the close of the fifteenth century, the manor-house of Grimthorpe had ceased to be the principal residence of its original lords, although at intervals they might probably resort to their ancient domicile in their joumeyings to and from their more stately castles in the north. The house does not appear to have been wholly deserted, or suffered to fall into utter decay. In the reign of Queen Mary, Laurence Ludderyngton, clerk, vicar of Givendale Magna, and his chaplain Roland Backehouse, had been residing at Grimthorpe. But I have not met with any notice of a permanent occupier earlier than about the middle of the seventeenth century, when Grimthorpe manor house was the residence of Mr. Jonathan Atkins, a Staffordshire gentleman, afterwards Sir Jonathan Atkins, knight, and sometime governor of the island of Barbadoes.
He was doubtless the same person who is described as “ Jonathan Atkins of Hinderskelf in the county of York," in the list those who compounded for their estates27 after the conclusion of the civil wars. His being resident at Hinderskelf the Yorkshire seat of Sir William Howard of Naworth, may have been either the cause or the consequence of his becoming the husband of Sir William's eldest daughter, Mary Howard. This marriage, which took place previously to the year 1648,28 accounts for his being afterwards the tenant of the Howards at Grimthorpe.
Its secluded situation would render it a desirable retreat for a royalist and his family in those troublous times. We may suppose that he was settled at Grimthorpe some years previous to the death of his wife, who was buried at Great Givendale on the 9th of April, 1660, three weeks after she had given birth to a daughter.
Mr. Atkins did not long remain a widower. His second wife was Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir John Baker, baronet, of Sisenhurst,in the county of Kent. She was the widow of William Anderson, esquire, the eldest son of Sir Edward Anderson, of Kilnwick Percy, baronet, whose death preceded that of his father. Grimthorpe is adjacent to Kilnwick Percy, and their proximity would bring the widow of Mr. Anderson into acquaintance with one who was to console her for his loss. By this lady Mr. Atkins had a son named Johnathon, who was born at Grimthorpe on the 23rd of June, 1662, and died there in the month of April following.
It was most probably through the influence of the Earl of Carlisle, the brother of his deceased wife, who had been recently raised to the peerage, and was then high in favour of King Charles II., that in the year 1663. Mr. Atkins was appointed Governor of the island of Barbadoes, and received the usual compliment of having the honour of knighthood conferred upon him. He resigned his appointment about the year 1667, and the remainder of his long life appears to have been spent in the tranquil seclusion of Grimthorpe. He lost a daughter, who was buried at Givendale on the 25th February, 1673-4, but whether she was the offspring of his first or second marriage I have not ascertained. From her baptismal name being Mary, it might be inferred that she was a child of his first wife Mary Howard. Sir Johnathon Atkins died at Grimthorpe, on the 8th January, 1702, at the patriarchal age of 99 (M.I.), and was buried at Great Givendale.
After the death of Sir Johnathon, his eldest son, John Atkins, continued in the occupancy of Grimthorpe. He was twice married. His first wife was Diana, daughter of Sir William Humble of Twickenham, baronet, a London merchant, but of Yorkshire parentage, who had lent to King Charles II., in his difficulties 20,000l., which the king repaid by making his creditor a baronet. Another daughter of Sir William Humble was married to Dr. Bradley, a prebendary of York. The second wife of Mr. Atkins was Alice, sister of John Aislabie of Studley, esquire, by whom he had one son named Howard, who died on the 27th of May, 1716, aged 13 years, and was buried at Great Givendale.
It was a pardonable vanity that led Mr. Atkins to give to the son, who was his only child, the baptismal name of Howard, to mark his descent from that noble house; and the premature death of this “promising youth” must have been a sore affliction, and perhaps was the cause of his leaving Grimthorpe. Mr. Atkins died on the 31st of January, 1732-3, aged 79. Some years before his death he had resided at York. By his will, which is dated the 25th of October, 1732, he is described as " John Atkins of the city of York, esquire," he constitutes his sister, Jane Atkins, his sole executor and residuary legatee; Sir Francis Boynton, baronet, and Peter Johnson, of York, esquire, he appoints to be supervisors: and whilst an annuity of 90l. only is bequeathed to his wife for her life, the testator somewhat ostentatiously gives 300l. to his relative the Earl of Carlisle, and 100l. to Colonel Howard, his son. His attachment to Grimthorpe is shown by the legacy of 200l. to augment the living of Great Givendale, in the parish church of which he desires that his remains may be interred; and his respect for the city in which he ended his days is testified by legacies of 5l. each to the Charity Schools then recently established in York. 29
Soon after Mr. Atkins removed to York, Grimthorpe was occupied by Wilberforce Read,30 esquire, as tenant of the Earl of Carlisle. Mr. Read was a gentleman of good family but slender fortune, which he hoped to improve by entering freely into the speculations of the Turf. In selecting his place of residence he most probably had in view the advantages afforded for the training and management of racehorses by the fine elastic turf which clothed the gentle slopes of the Grimthorpe wolds.
In 1732, I find Mr. Read's name mentioned for the first time in the annals of the Turf. On the 12th of August in that year, his grey mare won the king's 100 guineas at Black Hambleton,beating fourteen others. From that time until 1754, scarcely a year passed in which the horses of Mr. Read were not entered for races to be run at York, Hambleton, and other places where meetings for such purposes were held. One of the most successful racers in his stud was his bay filly Lucy, descended from the Conyers Arabian, and the grandam of Lord Rockingham's famous horse Scrub.
Mr. Read died at Grimthorpe, having been resident there more than half a century, and was buried in the parish church of Great Givendale in April, 1774. After his death,Grimthorpe was occupied by a succession of tenant farmers, who held under the earls of Carlisle.
After Grimthorpe was sold, the old manor-house was demolished, and a commodious messuage and farm-stead built upon its site. This was completed in the year 1804. At the present time Mr. George Hopper, as tenant of Mr. Denison, occupies the house and the whole of the Grimthorpe estate, consisting of about 500 acres, which he has brought into a high state of cultivation.
A few fragments of massive stone walling are all that now remain to attest the solidity and importance of the ancient baronial mansion of the lords of Grimthorpe "where once the light of feudal grandeur shone.'' Little is now remembered of a house which disappeared more than sixty years ago. Nearly twenty years have passed since I had a conversation with an intelligent person who was born in 1771, and spent a considerable part of his youthful days in the service of Mr. Clement Sellers, then the occupier of Grimthorpe, as tenant to the Earl of Carlisle. He told me that the house, which he thought must have been lived in by great folks formerly, was a strange rambling old place " a very low building with three large porches and only one chamber floor; the kitchen was as big as an ordinary house, and there was an oven that would bake six bushels of flour at a time, and the cellars were very spacious. At the time my informant was at Grimthorpe, there was very little land in tillage " the farm consisted mostly of sheep walks, and Mr. Sellers, who held another wold farm of the Earl of Carlisle, near to Grimthorpe,sheared from 1600 to 1700 sheep every year.
Traditions are yet floating in the memories of the neighbouring villages respecting the arbitrary power exercised at the manor courts of the barons of Grimthorpe, which were annually held there. The feudal privileges of infangtheof and outfangtheof were not obsolete even in modern times. It is not a century ago that the steward and homage or jury of the Grimthorpe court sentenced an offender to capital punishment, and he was hung upon the spot. Other tales, of a fearful character, are told by “ancient maids and knitters in the sun” relating to certain earthworks which are yet distinctly apparent upon a grassy slope a little below the site of the old Hall. A square area of about four acres, inclosed by a double agger and ditch, presents those appearances which are usually considered to denote the place of an ancient settlement or military station. Whether these be the traces of a British settlement or a Roman encampment is doubtful, but it is remarkable that the place has long been designated in the neighbourhood by the name of the " Double Dykes,'' a term which is found to be applied to similar earthworks in various other parts of the kingdom.
Indeed the whole surface of the wolds in this vicinity is rife with the remains of remote antiquity. The high road leading from Pocklington to Malton, which intersects the township of Grimthorpe, there can be little doubt, is one of the original British ways, of which it possesses all the characteristics - the main feature being that “it clings to high ridges of open ground thickly set with tumuli and earthworks, and that it exhibits a negligent flexuosity such as suits the notion of a customary track rather than a well planned and firmly executed road” And to adopt the language of the eloquent writer I have just quoted, in his description of this district, " all these green wold hills are crowned with the tumuli and camps of semi-barbarous people, who chased the deer and wild-boar through Galtres forest, watered their flocks at Acklam springs, chipped the flint, or carved the bone, or moulded their rude pottery in their smoky huts, and listened to warriors and priests at the mound of Aldrow and the temple of Goodmanham."
The site of the ancient manor-house of the barons Fitz William of Grimthorpe, whether it were chosen by the Anglo-Danish chief whose name it bears, or by William the son of Ulf, the Norman thegne who succeeded him, was selected with admirable taste and judgment. The spot upon which Mr. Hopper’s residence is built is an elevated platform from which the ground gently falls towards, the south and west, and the views from it are of great extent and of singular beauty and variety. The house is sheltered from the biting east and north-east winds by the round topped hills behind it. But from the highest point of the 'wold,where the chalk rises to an elevation of nearly 600 feet above the level of the sea, the eye sweeps the circuit of the horizon from the Hambleton and Cleveland hills in the north to the wold on the Lincolnshire side of the Humber in the far south, commanding a magnificent prospect of the whole length and breadth of the great central vale of York. The frequent contemplation of such a scene as this is a never-failing source of enjoyment. The mind is interested and the imagination agreeably excited by the vast and almost illimitable surface of verdure, beauty, and fertility, which a single glance places before you, and an inexpressible charm is imparted to it by the infinite variety of ever changing tints and lights and shadows which are constantly passing over the landscape, now half veiled by the vapoury mists of the morning, or now glowing beneath the effulgent brightness of the western sun and his panoply of clouds "with brede ethereal wove.'"
The far-distant range of mountains which border the horizon, with their flowing outline and delicate aerial hues, form a beautiful framework to the picture, giving it an exquisite finish and completeness. The range of vision from this elevated spot includes many remarkable and interesting objects. Towards the north are seen the woody knolls of Hinderskelf, now Castle Howard, the princely seat of the earls of Carlisle, the former owners of Grimthorpe, " and the bold eminence upon which stands the village and castle of Creyke, famous for being one of the places where the bones of St. Cuthbert rested: " due west, about fourteen miles distant, rise the stately towers of York Minster, " the glory of the plain” * "-as far beyond, Harlow Hill and the rocky points of Almias Cliff near Harrogate: " to the south the hills called Brayton-Barf and Hambleton Hough show the proximity of the town of Selby, and the church of Hemingbrough with its graceful spire. churches of ancient Howden and modern Goole are seen far away to the south. Nearer to you, at the foot of the wold, are the church and ancient town of the prae-Norman Pocklingtas, and the church-crowned hill of Holme-upon Spalding Moor rises, conspicuous, halfway across the plain. Several important rivers flow sluggishly through the vale, although their course is scarcely to be discerned even from this elevation. The Swale, the Ure, and the Nidd, taking their rise among the mountains in the north-west, meet a few miles aboye York, and there form the Ouse, which, after passing through that city, and receiving, as its tributaries, the Wharfe, the Don, and the Aire, from the west, and the Derwent from the north, mingles its waters with those of the winding Trent beneath the lofty promontory of Aukborough, and thence their united streams, under the new name of the Humber, roll majestically to the sea.
“My eye, descending from the hill, surveys
Where Humber through the fertile valley strays :
Humber, most lov'd of all the ocean's sons
By his old sire, to his embraces runs ;
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity.”
1 “Grim builds a village and it is called Grim’s-by” (Ferguson’s Teutonic Name System, p. 489). Prior to the conquest a Saxon lords named Grim had land at Raisthorpe (Redristorp), a vill on the Wolds, not far from Grimthorpe. (Domesday Book; ed. 1862, p. Vii b). A house in York, at the time of Domesday survey, was held by Grim (ibid, i b). A Saxon of that name had land at Acaster (Selby), near York (ibid LX1L].
2 Mr John Charles Brooke, Somerset Herald, in his “Illustration of a Saxon Inscription in the church of Aldeborough in Holderness” (Archaeoligica, vi., 39), prints a copy of this charter, from a transcript in the College of Arms, stating that the original was remaining in the time of Elizabeth, with the royal seal appendant, amongst the evidences of the Lords Dacre of the North. Mr. Henry Howard, of Corby, in his elaborate work “Memorials of the Howards” prints Brooke’s translation of this charter, treating it as a genuine document. He does not say that the original appeared among the muniments at Naworth.
3 He was the son of Henry de Ferrars, a tenant in capite at the time of the Domesday Survey (Ellis, vol. i. P. 418).
4 Forno filius Ligulfi was the ancestor of the barons of Greystock (Archaeol. Vi. 43)
5 Collectanea, vol. Vi. P. 40.
6 This charter is referred to buy a charter of confirmation of the same lands, granted by King Richard II. To Ralph, baron of Greytock, Cat. Rot. Pat., 16 Ric. II [1392-3]
7 Collectanea, vol. V. P. 314
8 “Ralph le Fitzwilliam bor differently from him of Valence, for instead of martlets he had three chaplets of red roses, which became him marvellously” (Siege of Caerlaverock, by Nicolas, p.18).
9 In the 30th Edward I. (1301-2) Ralph Fitzwilliam had lcence from the Crown to build a chapel at Grimthorpe, which was called the chapel of the Blessed Mary of Grimthorpe, (Cal. Gen. 622).
11 Historical Papers and Letters from the Northern Registers. Edited by Canon Rains. P. 246.
12 History of Durham, vol. Iii. P.260
13 Collectanea, vol. v. p. 314,
14 By virtue of a special dispensation from the Pope, they being within the third and forth degrees of consanguinity (Burke).
15 He having been principal in seizing Sir Gilbert de Middleton in the castle of Mitford, for treason, was soon afterwards poisoned whilst at breakfast by the contrivance of that person (Burke).
16 Willhelmus dominus et baro de Greystock aedificavit castrum de Greystock, et obit 20 Jul 32 Ed. III. Seisitus de maneriis de Greystock, Grimthorpe, Hinderskelf, etc., et de Seton in comitatu Ebor. (Stemma Ulfi Comitis. Archaeol. VI. 52). It seems probable that this baron built the castle of Hinderskelf, as well as that of Greystock. Hinderskelf is said to have been erected in the reign of Edward III. Leland describes it as a fair quadrant of stone, having four towers buildid castelle like, but no ample thing (Itin. Vol. i., p. 66).
17 Rot. Pat. 16 Ric. II. m. 21.
18 Among the interments in the church of the Dominicans or Friars Preachers of York., a religious house which stood on the site of the present Railway Station, we find that of “Dame Katherine Baroness de Greystock” (Collectanea, vol. Iv, p. 77).
19 In his will, dated 27 May, 1487 [proved 31 July, seq.], Ralph Lord Greystock and Wemme desires to be buried in the chancel of the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Kirkham, before the altar (Test. Ebor., ed. Surt. Soc., iv. 20).
20 We learn from the records of the Corporation of York that “the son and heir of the baron de Greystok” visited the city in the year 1462, and, according to the municipal usages of that day, he received from the lord mayor an exennium of 4 gallons of red wine. At a later period of the same year, the Baron of Greystok himself passed through York, but he was less liberally treated, the present to him being only one gallon of red wine, which cost the city 12d. In the year 1475, Lord de Greystok, with Sir Edward Hastings, knight, and other members of the Council of Richard Duke of Gloucester to the lord mayor and alderman of York. On this occasion they had an exennium of three gallons of red wine.
21 Bloomfield’s Norfolk, vol. Ii. pp. 94, 95, 102.
22 Collins, ed. 1768, vol. i. 107.
23 Collins, vol. Iii. 355.
24 Lay of the Last Minstrel, Can. V., st. Xvi.
25 See Memorials of the Howards, by Henry Howard of Corby Castle, eq. Plate of Seals, Fac-similies, etc. – Archaeoligia Aeliana, Part xv. New Series, Feb. 1850, p.181. It is remarkable that the crest used by the present noble house of Fitzwilliam is a triple plume of ostrich feathers issuing from ducal coronet.
26 She was 75 years old when she died; and as he must have been born earlier than the year 1565, he had probably attained an equally advanced age.
27 The amount of his composition was only 70l.
28 In the accounts of receipts and disbursements by James Danby, steward to Charles Howard, equire, son and successor of Sir William Howard, several small sums are stated to have been paid to Mrs. Atkins by Mr. Howard’s appointment, between 1646 and 1649. The Howards were then living at Hinderskelf. Rokeby MSS., penes J. Raine.
29 The will was proved at York by Jane Atkins, the executrix, 12th February, 1732-3. She died on the 17th of April, 1761, aged 100 years (M.I.), and was buried at Great Givendale.
30 Mr Read acquired the name of Wilberfoss or Wilberforce from his mother, who was one of the daughters and coheirs of Roger Wilberfoss, sheriff of York in 1678-9, and a niece of Leonard Wilberfoss, Lord mayor of York in 1686. His cousin John Read, of Sand-hutton, was alderman of Yorl, and Lord mayor in 1719.
31 “The undulating downs and rounded coombs covered with sweet-grassed turf, of our inland chalk country, have a peaceful, domestic, and mutton-suggesting prettiness.” – Prof. Huxley’s Lecture on a piece of Chalk.
32 The Rivers, Mountains, and Sea-coast of Yorkshire. By Professor Phillips.