A Brief History of Settrington

Written by Colin Wigglesworth, erstwhile Headmaster of Settrington School, Parish Clerk and a parish councillor for many years.


  • Prehistoric Settrington
  • The Romans
  • The Anglo-Saxons
  • The Normans
  • Settrington Passes to the Bigod Family
  • The Black Death
  • Francis Bigod
  • Later Tudor Times
  • The Mansfield Survey
  • The Village Map
  • The Plan of the Manor House and Settrington House
  • The Map of the Whole Manor
  • Rabbits and Pigeons
  • The Civil War
  • After Mansfield
  • The Masterman Family
  • Poor Law and Settrington
  • The Vestry
  • The Work of Henrietta and Mark Sykes
  • Henrietta Masterman Sykes
  • The Famous Wager between Mark and a Settrington Rector
  • The School
  • Settrington National School
  • Education
  • The Malton and Driffield Branch Line (the Malton Dodger)
  • The Methodist Chapel
  • Settrington Parish Council
  • Agriculture in the Twentieth Century
  • Agriculture: The Future
  • The Wolds Waggoners’ Special Reserve
  • Settrington and the First World War
  • Trench Warfare
  • Dunkirk and After
  • Britain Stands Alone
  • Settrington School’s Evacuees


Thomas Wardell – Conversation re church attendance

Prehistoric Settrington

Settrington village is a remarkable settlement but it cannot boast of any item of a spectacular prehistoric nature such as the gigantic round barrow (burial mound) which is 20 feet high and 120 feet in diameter in nearby Duggleby. There is, however, plenty of evidence of the presence of early man in Settrington with trackways, enclosures, ditches etc. A useful reference book “Ancient Landscapes of the Yorkshire Wolds” can be found in the Malton Library’s reference section. The NYCC Heritage Unit in Northallerton is always ready to help by answering queries.

The Romans

Evidence of the Roman presence in the Malton area is extensive; this is more than amply illustrated by the fine collection of artefacts in the local museum. The Wolds area near Malton was recognised at this time as one of the few areas in Britain of close agricultural development (See “The Making of the English Landscape” by WG Hoskins, published by Hodder and Stoughton). In the 1920s a Roman farm was excavated in the Brough Hill area beyond the village (See “The Parisi” by Herman Ramn). Roman pottery and coins have been found in village gardens and a Roman rubbish dump was discovered near Kirk Hill farm. Clearly, the most spectacular Roman feature in the Settrington area must have been the beacon or signal station formerly found on Settrington High Street near the present water tower. It was not demolished until 1831. Despite the simplicity of its structure, an iron brazier at the end of an arm on the top of a pole, standing about 650 feet above sea level, it received signals from the fires lit at the signal station in the grounds of the present Scarborough castle and passed them on to the York area. It is said that the area in which the beacon’s light could be seen was some 400 square miles.

The Anglo-Saxons

This Roman signal station was built in the later years of the Roman occupation as part of a strategy to deal effectively with invaders from across the North Sea. Clearly, after the departure of the legions, the way was clear for such aggressors, and the movement to occupy Britain gained momentum. Increasingly these invaders did not return home but settled here in greater numbers and, over the years up to 1066, introduced many features of our ordinary daily lives which still persist today.

Lacey and Danziger in their book “The Year 1066” write as follows:

 “Computer analyses of the English language as spoken today shows that the hundred most frequently used words are all of Anglo-Saxon origin.”

They go on to say that, when Neil Armstrong stepped on to the moon in 1969 and made the now famous statement “One small step for a man, one great leap for mankind”, all the words were part of the old English in use in 1000 A.D.

The “ton” of Settrington indicates an Anglo-Saxon settlement, while “Thorpe” indicates Scagglethorpe’s Danish origins. It is interesting to note that the names of many local villages stem from these times, e.g.

            ESRELTON – Heslerton

            DIFGELIBY – Duggleby

            BERGETORP – Burythorpe

            ACLUM – Acklam

            MENISTORP –  Menethorpe

Mention should also be made of the development of an increasingly efficient system of local government. The shires were established, including the three Yorkshire Ridings. The shires were divided into Hundreds, groups of approximately one hundred households. The hundred was again divided into small groups of approximately a dozen households called Frankpledge Groups. Each member was responsible for the good conduct of his fellows, the essence of which was loyalty and obedience to God, the monarch and the local lord.

This “little gem” of historical interest was found under some floor covering when a long term tenant was quitting a cottage on Settrington beckside in the year 2000. It was issued in the middle of the reign of Queen Victoria and is evidence of the manner in which Saxon influence has persisted over many centuries.

The Anglo-Saxons increasingly adopted the religion of the natives, namely Christianity. This movement was much encouraged by the arrival of Augustine who, sent by Pope Gregory, landed in Kent in 597AD. Christianity eventually spread to the North, and by the time of Domesday there were at least 170 Christian churches in Yorkshire. Hovingham is a good example with its Saxon tower and chancel archway.

It is likely that Settrington’s Saxon wooden dwellings would have been built near the beck, with the three open fields developing around them. Furcoth Field was to the North, Low Field in the North West and the largest, High Field, to the South. The pastures and meadows would begin to stretch towards the banks of the Derwent.

The Normans

Most of us are fairly knowledgeable about the battle of Hastings in 1066. Perhaps we are not so aware of the brutality of subsequent years. After the Norman conquest there were various risings, particularly in the North, against the very harsh way William was exercising his authority in such matters as taxation and his gifts of land to his Norman supporters. During the storming of York, three hundred Normans were killed. In taking his revenge, William laid waste large areas of Yorkshire including many settlements in our immediate area; however, Settrington was untouched.

William was involved in a number of wars and needed money to meet the costs; so maximum taxation was vital – hence Domesday, a unique documentary inventory produced in 1086.

The entry for Settrington reads as follows:

In Sendriton Turband had nine carucates of land to be taxed”. (This was 1066)

Now Berenger has two ploughs in the demesne there and sixteen villens and two bordars, with six ploughs. Meadows 20 acres” (This was 1086) “Value in King Edward’s time thirty shillings. Now forty shillings.”

Areas of land were measured in Carucates (the term was Hide in some parts of the country). One definition of a carucate, or hide, was the area required to feed a family for one year. Hence Bede’s definition: terra unius familiae (land of one family).

Because the productiveness of land varied, the area could be anything from 80 to 160 acres. Taking the median measurement would suggest the Settrington settlement could have had 1080 acres under cultivation, or grassed at least. The population would be small; 70 to 80 people could be a reasonable estimate.
It will be noticed that, in the 1086 Domesday extract above, Turbrand the Saxon has been replaced by the Norman Berenger de Todeni. The death of Turbrand was part of a massacre of his whole family while they were gathered together in the manor house in Settrington for a feast. This event was the culmination of a long-standing feud between the Turbrand family and the family of the Earls of Northumberland and York. This particular incident is the first time an event in Settrington was documented; it appeared in an eleventh century tract “Concerning the siege of Durham.”

Before leaving the Norman period it may be helpful to include part of William’s death-bed confession:

I have persecuted the natives of England beyond all reason. Whether gentle or simple I have cruelly oppressed them: many I unjustly disinherited; innumerable multitudes perished through me by famine or by sword. I fell on the English of the Northern shires like a ravening lion. I commanded their houses and corn, with all their implements and chattels, to be burnt without distinction and great herds of cattle and beasts of burden to be butchered.”

This is the first part of William’s confession according to Ordericus Vitalis c. AD1130.
It continues in similar vein ending with this final sentence:

Having gained the throne of that kingdom by so many crimes I dare not leave it to anyone but God.”

Settrington did not incur William’s wrath, and remained untouched. Many neighbouring manors were not so fortunate, and their Domesday entry describes their condition in 1086 in one word – Waste. A list of such manors would include: Birdsall, Burythorpe, Acklam, Towthorpe, Sledmere, Thixendale, Kirby Grindlelythe, Rillington, East and West Heslerton.

One wonders why Settrington was spared. Berenger de Todeni was lord of the manor. Settrington was one of 32 manors he held. In Robert H. Skaife’s book “Dopmesday Book for Yorkshire” (published 1896) the list of his lands in the county covers three and a half pages. His other landholdings were to be found in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. It seems he was a Norman of some importance; perhaps this was the reason for Settrington’s good fortune.

Settrington Passes to the Bigod Family

Berenger de Todeni was married to Albreda, but the union was childless. After Berenger’s death, Albreda married Robert de L’Isle, but again there were no children, and again Albreda was widowed. On her death the lands, including Settrington, were passed to Berenger’s sister Adeliz, who was married to Hugh Bigod, the earl of Norfolk. Settrington was in their hands by 1135, but it is unlikely any of the family visited the manor; they were involved in national life and events, with one earl being present when King John put his seal on Magna Carta.

Before the earldom ceased to exist, Settrington and its associated manors were passed-on by the last earl to a younger brother, John Bigod of Stockton (this was the Norfolk village, not the town in Teesside). He died three years later to be succeeded by his son, another John, who died in 1333.
There is evidence that the family now had more interest in Settrington. In 1335 a licence was granted for a chantry chapel dedicated to the Blessed Mary. As this was two years after the death of the second John Bigod, presumably it was for his soul that the chantry priests were offering prayers. A second chantry chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, was built, also on the Chapel Garth. These chantries probably played an important part in the life of Settrington, as will be considered later.

Up to the time of Francis Bigod, all the Settrington Bigods were either Ralph or John. Another John died in1358; in his will he expressed the desire to be buried in Settrington church. There were certainly five more members of the family buried there. Ann, Lady Bigod, who died in 1477, asked to be buried in the chancel. John, who died in 1515, was more specific – he asked to be buried before the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the south end of the high altar.

The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Part 126 published in 1935 has a long, unfortunate essay on the Bigods written by the Rev. Charles Moor. It is clear that as the years passed the Bigods were taking a greater interest in Yorkshire life, holding a number of important offices in the county. A Ralph Bigod and a John Bigod were both slain at the battle of Towton Moor, while Francis Bigod’s father died in 1513 in a war in Scotland.

Most certainly, the Bigod of real importance to national life was Francis, but, before considering his contribution, it would seem sensible to go back to 1349 to examine an event of great importance – the Black Death. Plagues or pestilences like this were not uncommon both before and after, but the Black Death spread throughout much of the known world and was active for at least ten years. In England it brought social and economic change.

The Black Death (also known as The Great Mortality)

In September 1949, Eric Winstanley, the headmaster of Settrington school, tuned-in to a radio broadcast on the Black Death given by Maurice Beresford, a lecturer from Leeds University. The year 1949 marked the 600th anniversary of the arrival in Yorkshire of the Black Death. To Eric’s surprise there was a mention of Settrington in the early part of the talk; the transcript reads as follows:

In the village of Settrington John Wych ploughed ten acres and has a small cottage. He has left a young daughter Alice, too young to marry and too young to work the fields. In the fields where John Cokes worked now works his son, another John, and mourns his father. Geoffrey Richardson has inherited the holding of his kinsman Thomas Mill, some fifty acres. And there are others in this small village.”

As there were no records at this time, the active population of the county is unknown, as is the number of deaths the pestilence caused. It is thought to have been between a quarter and a half of the population, but the proportion did vary from settlement to settlement.

Another interesting quotation from Beresford’s talk reads as follows:

The names I have quoted from Settrington are quite genuine, but we have them only because by luck the Exchequer was financially interested in the lands of the lord of the manor…….. They compiled a list of his tenants in Settrington and noted when they got their holding and who they got it from. Name after name took his or her holding after a death that fateful year.”
Maybe this suggests that Settrington was one of the settlements with the higher death rate.

The pestilence spread across the known world following the established trade routes. Some historians suggest Bristol as the port where it gained entry to England, others Weymouth. It is thought it reached Hull by the end of 1348; spreading along the Humber and into the East Riding along the tributaries the following year, causing the first deaths in York on Ascension Day. June, July and August are likely to have been the months when it was causing havoc in Settrington.

In 1349 the real cause of The Great Mortality was unknown, but the archbishops, bishops and clergy persuaded the people to believe it was a display of God’s anger because of the sins of mankind. The clergy made announcements in church about the oncoming pestilence and gave guidance to their flocks in the important matter of preparation for its arrival. This is another example of the way the church was involved, almost dominant, in all aspects of the lives of the people.

When the illness finally arrived in a settlement, the workload of the clergy soon became just about impossible. God’s alleged anger called for repentance, prayers and more-and-more vigorous attention to the services and practices of the church; for example, parishioners queued to make their confessions to the priest.

The priest’s obligations in the period close to death were particularly onerous and, in view of the highly infectious nature of the disease, also particularly dangerous. The death bed was regarded as the scene of the last great struggle between God and the Devil for the possession of the human soul. There were lengthy and elaborate rituals to perform as the dying person prepared to make his/her last confession before passing on to Purgatory, with the hope that the time spent there would be short. Throughout this time the unfortunate priest would be at considerable risk of infection.

This took its toll on the clergy. Thomas de Buckton arrived in Settrington during 1349 but did not survive the year (see the list of incumbents on the board in Settrington church). In the same year a similar change of priest took place in Wharram, Wharram Percy, Wetwang, Fridaythorpe, Kirby Underdale and Barthorpe; in both Burythorpe and Sherburn there were two incumbents during 1349.

As the pestilence raged in Settrington in June, July and August, it is clear that by the time of harvest there would have been a shortage of able-bodied people ready to do the work. The lower orders who normally worked the lord’s land were in short supply; they took advantage of this by demanding higher wages. In previous years, villens and those below them in the social rankings had not been allowed to leave the manor. Many now did go, receiving a welcome in the manor to which they moved. Some tenants of land were eager to pay rent rather than work the lord’s strips. The lords who had previously dictated terms were now unable to do so, and many took the easy decision to accept rent in the place of labour.
It was the beginning of change in the countryside.

Francis Bigod

“For a few days in January 1537 the rebel Sir Francis Bigod stood at the centre of the historical stage”.

This is the opening sentence of Chapter 3 of A.G.Dicken’s book “Lollards and Protestants in the Diocese of York 1509-1558”. The book devotes a good deal of attention to the last member of the Bigod family to hold Settrington. He was born on October 4th 1507, inheriting the title and the estates eight years later, as a minor who became the ward of Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, at the time. It is clear that he must have been an intelligent child, well able to benefit from the rich educational opportunities available in this large household.
From there he went to Oxford University and gained both his B.A and M.A degrees; later he became a Doctor of Divinity. It was here he came under Lutheran influences and ever-after had strong Protestant leanings.
He gained the friendship of Thomas Cromwell, the King’s chief minister, who had similar beliefs; however, for obvious political reasons, Cromwell was not as open and candid as Bigod. It appears that the manors Francis Bigod inherited were not in good shape and, despite borrowing significant amounts from his friend, Thomas Cromwell, he was never able to clear the debts associated with them.

At this time Henry VIII was seeking a divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Ann Boleyn. As the Pope would not grant this request, the Act of Supremacy was passed and Henry became head of the church in the Pope’s place. Francis Bigod gave Henry full support and nailed an abstract of the Act onto a table in Settrington Church. He also delivered a copy to all the village households where there was a person able to read. A.G.Dickens suggests that this is “an intriguing sidelight on literacy in the remote Yorkshire village of Settrington in 1535”.

Henry’s decision to remove the Pope from any influence upon the life of the church in England did not please everybody; it certainly added to the growing discontent, particularly in the North of England. In Yorkshire it led to the Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising in protest against the threats Henry posed to the old faith, to the monasteries and their lands and possessions, and to the economic life of the country (e.g. a significant rise in taxation to meet the increasing cost of Henry’s wars).
Robert Aske of Aughton in the East Riding led the revolt with upwards of 50,000 “pilgrims”, who met 10,000 of Henry’s men in Doncaster. The Duke of Norfolk, leading Henry’s force, had no option but to agree to a consideration of Aske’s demands. On gaining Norfolk’s promises to pass these on to the king, Aske’s force disbanded and returned home.

Francis Bigod had tried very hard not to become involved in the Yorkshire uprising. Clearly, as a prominent supporter of the English Reformation, he would not be enthusiastic in the defence of the old faith. He was very critical of the monasteries for the way they appropriated the livings of many churches, and then did little to care for the spiritual welfare of the people. Sometimes they appointed curates, but often these men were scarcely literate. He was concerned also with the life some monks lived within the monasteries, which was often immoral and indulgent. His aim, however, was reform not dissolution.

In order not to become involved, he boarded a ship at Whitby and sought to travel to London. But the vagaries of the North Sea forced the craft northwards instead and he landed in Hartlepool, where local rebels were intent on involving him. Although he did get back to Mulgrave from whence he’d set out, he eventually had to surrender to the pilgrims and reluctantly became part of the uprising. After Doncaster, he returned to Mulgrave but, over Christmas and the New Year, he had a remarkable change of outlook. He had little faith in the promises Henry had made through Norfolk, and believed that action should be taken before the King’s forces returned to the North. With a view to assembling a body of men he returned to Settrington; some accounts suggest they mustered on Brough Hill, others at Settrington Beacon.

His accomplice was John Hallam, a farmer from Calkhill (now Cawkeld). He and Bigod met at Watton Priory in the Prior’s house to agree on their strategies. The aim was to take Hull and Scarborough, thus preventing the use of these ports by Norfolk, who was expected to return with Henry’s army. Both attacks were complete failures. Hallam was captured and Bigod fled, initially returning to Mulgrave. When he arrived, he found that his goods were already being seized and he had no option but to flee, managing to stay free for three weeks. On capture he was taken to London, tried and found guilty and hung, drawn and quartered on 2nd June 1537.
The manor of Settrington then, once again, became the property of the crown.

Although some members of a minor branch of the family did stay in the area, living in parishes nearby such as Scagglethorpe, North Grimston and Wharram, on the death of Francis in 1537 the close association of the Bigod family with Settrington manor came to an end.
Despite the fact that this association had lasted more than three hundred years, little evidence remains in the village to remind us of them. We know that, over the years, at least six of the family were buried in the church, but there are no memorials.
There are, however, Bigod features on the outside of the church for us to identify. On the top of the tower, on three sides, there are nine shields. On each side there is a shield of the Mauley family, with Bigod shields on either side. This commemorates the marriage of one of the Sir John Bigods to Constance, the daughter of Peter de Mauley of Mulgrave Castle; as well as the castle, the marriage brought added wealth to the family. It was in Mulgrave Castle that Francis started to plan his disastrous campaign described above. Earlier members of the family had also appreciated the castle’s accommodation.
Marriage to the Constable family of Flamborough also brought with it a superior dwelling. These instances may help to explain the Bigods’ reluctance to occupy less desirable Settrington House for any length of time.

Later Tudor Times

Henry VIII died in 1547 leaving three children, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, all intelligent individuals who had benefited from a good education. Edward was nine years old when he came to the throne and, during his six-year reign, he and his regent attempted to consolidate the Protestant faith. He was precocious and most certainly, towards the end of his years as king, he was well aware of what he was doing. Mary, as queen, strove hard to restore Catholicism, often by brutal means. Elizabeth, on her accession, made her intentions quite clear from the beginning, when her coronation ceremony was performed using Protestant ritual. She then reintroduced her father’s acts of supremacy and uniformity.

Elizabeth came to the throne unmarried, and she remained so throughout her life. This caused much speculation about her successor as monarch. There were a number of people who considered themselves worthy successors, and three of these had connections with Settrington.

The first was Margaret Tudor who was Henry VIII’s sister. From the age of 15 she was part of her uncle’s court, holding office in the households of both princesses, Mary and Elizabeth, and subsequently serving two of Henry’s wives, Anne of Cleeves and Katherine Howard. In 1554 she married the exiled Scottish nobleman the Earl of Lennox, taking the title of Countess. Henry attended the wedding and bestowed on the couple as a wedding gift the estates of Temple Newsham (Leeds) and Settrington. Initially they chose to live in the more imposing Temple Newsham, and it was here that their elder son, Henry Lord Darnley, was born in 1545.

During Edward’s reign the Lennoxes were not prominent in royal circles as they were staunchly Catholic. When Mary became queen their prospects were considerably enhanced as the former friendship between Margaret and Mary was enthusiastically renewed. They were welcomed into court circles and provided with lavish apartments. The Countess of Lennox began to think that Mary could propose her as her successor to the throne. However, this was not to be, and, when Elizabeth became queen, the Lennox family returned northwards, but this time to Settrington; an inferior house, but significantly more remote and a much more convenient and safe home in which to follow their Catholic faith.

The other advantage was that Settrington was fairly close to Bridlington, and the journey there could follow a quiet and lonely route over the sparsely inhabited Wolds. From Bridlington there were regular sailings to the French port of Dieppe. Lennox was eager and anxious to have his Scottish estates restored to him, and he was hoping to enlist the support of Mary Queen of Scots. He sent his son Darnley to plead his cause; choosing not to inform or seek the permission of Elizabeth.
Darnley was the second of the three, Settrington-connected, aspirants to the throne.
His visit introduces the third, aspirant, Mary Queen of Scots; whose connection with Settrington was through her second marriage. She was the daughter of James V of Scotland. Unfortunately, her father died when she was only six days old, and she was still only a baby of nine months when she was crowned queen of Scotland. Henry VIII appreciated the enormous advantages of a marriage between his son Edward and this young Queen. As the Scots had no enthusiasm for this suggestion, Henry invaded and his troops defeated the Scots at Solway Moss.
This caused them to tell Henry they would certainly consider his proposal. However, they had no intention of honouring this promise, and at the first opportunity they secretly sent Mary to France, where she was subsequently married to Francis, the Dauphin and son of Henri II.

Henri was subsequently injured in a jousting competition with a much younger opponent, the Count of Montgomery. Montgomery’s lance splintered and part of it passed through the king’s gilded visor to pierce his eye and then his brain; another part of the lance pierced his throat, and Henri eventually died from his injuries.

Clearly, this was an event of supreme importance to France, but it gained added notoriety when it was realised that Nostradamus, the well-known visionary, had predicted this event with quite astounding accuracy; this led to serious threats on his life, particularly in Paris. The quatrain in question reads as follows:

The young lion shall overcome the old one

In martial field by a single duel

In a golden cage he shall put out his eye

Two wounds from one, then he shall die a cruel death.

At the time of their coronation Francis was fifteen and Mary sixteen; he was small in stature and build, while his queen was tall, most likely six foot, and striking in appearance. Darnley was present at the ceremony, attempting to consolidate the relationship between his family and the Queen, now of France as well as Scotland.
The marriage was not long-lasting as Francis, after a full day’s hunting in inclement conditions, suffered an ear infection from which he died. Margaret Lennox was not slow to appreciate the opportunity this untimely death presented for her son Darnley, but the ambitious Mary was seeking a suitable husband from one of a number of European Catholic royal families. When this search proved to be unproductive, she decided to return to Scotland, a country which, under the influence of the Calvinist John Knox and others of similar outlook, had become Protestant. Permission for her return was granted on condition she practised her Catholic faith in the privacy of her own residence.

All these events were continually under discussion in Settrington Manor House. Here Darnley’s excursions to France were planned, and discussed on their completion. The writings of Nostradamus were carefully considered and debated in the hope of learning what the fates had in store for Elizabeth. The house jester was allowed “to make mock of her majesty”, and unpleasant remarks were made about the untimely accidental death of Lord Dudley’s wife Amy, who fell down a staircase. He was the queen’s favourite, and there was talk of romance. Elizabeth and her ministers had the foresight to place a spy, William Forbes*, masquerading as a servant, in the Lennox household. (* His reports are to be found in the Public Record Office).

If one stands and contemplates in the churchyard by the southern wall of the chancel, one is alongside a number of distinguished former rectors, and the graves of the Hall family, past residents of Settrington House. On the other side of the small gate leading into the garden of Settrington House, is the site of the former manor house, where the Lennox family resided and tried to involve themselves and, if possible, influence some of these historical national and European events.
However, when Elizabeth decided that enough was enough, she had the family arrested and taken to London.

In the event, Lennox was eventually able to return to Scotland to resume ownership of his estates.
An early promise from the queen to allow his family to accompany him was not initially kept by Elizabeth; however, she did change her mind in Darnley’s case. This did lead eventually to his marriage to Mary Queen of Scots and his assumption of the title of King Henry; although he did not attain the status bestowed by crown matrimonial, which would have ensured his retention of the title on Mary’s death.

In his book “England under the Tudors” G R Elton writes as follows:

“Darnley combined in himself all the worst features of the Stuart character – stupidity, arrogance, moodiness, obstinacy, licentiousness, unreliability.”

After his marriage to Mary and her subsequent pregnancy, Darnley embarked upon a dissolute lifestyle, during which he contracted syphilis.
One of the more outrageous incidents was the assault and subsequent murder of David Riccio, a secretary and a companion of Mary. Both Darnley and Mary had rooms in Holyrood Palace, with Mary’s on the second floor and Darnley’s on the first. They were connected by a staircase.

When Mary was six months pregnant, she was in her own rooms with Riccio when Darnley and his party entered and assaulted Riccio, before dragging him out to the head of the staircase, where ‘their daggers murdered him’.
Subsequently, Darnley’s syphilis became more severe. He had left Edinburgh after the Riccio murder, but now returned to live in a house on the outskirts of the city.
Scottish nobles planned to set fire to the house with Darnley trapped inside. This was done, but Darnley’s murdered body was found in the grounds, along with that of his servant.
This is a mystery which a number of writers have tried to solve; certainly, Scottish nobles were involved, but there are those who would attach blame to Mary.

Antagonism towards Mary in Scotland eventually caused her to leave the country, leaving her son behind. She initially went to Carlisle, and from there to Bolton Castle in Yorkshire; where she had rooms, but was really under house arrest. Her final move was to Fotheringhay Castle.
As a great granddaughter of Henry VII, she was a strong claimant to the English throne, a fact that Catholic influences in Europe, and powerful Catholic families in England were well aware of. This could not be ignored and rumours of plots, aiming to depose Elizabeth, re-establish the old religion and put Mary on the throne, convinced the queen’s ministers that Mary should be executed. The execution was carried out on February 8th 1587.
From Settrington’s point of view it should be remembered that she had married a man who had lived in the village, and that their son James did eventually become James VI of Scotland and James I of England.

When, in 2011, the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible was celebrated, Melvyn Bragg published a book with the acclaiming title “The Book of Books”.
James was not just a lightweight figurehead in preparing and publishing this version of the Bible. He initiated the work, assembled a group of scholars and was a strong influence throughout, being himself a biblical scholar of some standing. The enormous influence of his bible in the life of Christian folk and its beneficial effect upon our literature and language cannot be over-estimated.

And he was the son of a Settrington man.

The Mansfield Survey

The survey of the manor of Settrington took place over five days in the week beginning March 17th 1599.
Its aim was to provide a proper valuation of the manor. Exercises like this were quite common and records of a number of them relating to neighbouring manors still exist in East Riding’s and other archives. The particular survey of Settrington, supervised by John Mansfield, the Queen’s surveyor in the North Riding, is exceptional because of its length and the detail it contains. Clearly, the supervision of the manor’s life and activities over many years had been very poor indeed. However, it was not just neglect, as Mansfield soon discovered clear evidence of serious dishonesty.

It is believed that three original copies of the report still exist, with two in the possession of two local landowners and a third with the University of Hull. However, the contents of the survey are available to all, as, in 1962, the Yorkshire Archaeological Society (YAS) published the report in hardback book form.
The original report has three very informative maps but regrettably the YAS book includes only one, a map of the whole manor. Settrington residents will find the other two reproduced in colour in the Village Design Statement.

The slackness and corruption of the manor’s administration in the sixteenth century has turned out to be a bonus for those of us living in the village today, as the survey is a vitally important source of information. Clearly Mansfield had a great deal of help in carrying out his assignment as the following quotation from the 1962 book indicates:

“But surveyors were hired for the work in Settrington and the facts that the maps were specially made to illustrate the survey suggests that these men were employed in making observations at first hand.”

The report was not made available until 17th June 1600; this would suggest that, after the time spent in Settrington, there was a great deal of extra time devoted to the examination of the relevant documents.

The Village Map

One recognises immediately that the present layout of the village was already established in 1600, with one arm on either side of the beck running south to north and a second at right angles running east to west. There the similarity ends.
The beckside houses are much nearer the water and crowded together. Although some appear to be attractive houses, they do not have the uniformity of the present-day cottages. Also, it must be remembered that these houses were farms of one of the categories described in the report, but the farms’ outbuildings do not appear. In 1600 there were no outlying farms. There are 78 houses and cottages.

The area we now know as Town Green has changed even more. The houses to the south have gone. The wide outgang, which gave access to the pasture and the meadows towards the River Derwent, has been narrowed considerably, with the “island” known as Chapel Garth having been absorbed into the field. The former outgang is now, in its reduced form, Town Street. It is interesting to note that Mansfield suggests this is a common way, called the High Street (page 20 of the YAS book). Chapel Garth was the site of the chantry chapels – hence the name. They disappeared at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. The Mansfield report informs its readers that the chantries are now to be found in the parish church. Fortunately for Settrington, only the buildings were destroyed.

On the map, most of the village plots have within them the letter “P” followed by a number. This is to enable the reader to find the relevant notes within the report. The letter “M” (margin) also followed by a number indicates the line on the page. At the bottom of the map, just above the letter “T” in “South”, there is a table containing the capital letters A to O. These are the holdings on the map where the space provided is insufficient for the P+number and the M+number to appear. In their place is a single capital letter; the legend is to be found within the box. There are numbers in the YAS book alongside the details of the various holdings. Unfortunately they are not the same as the numbers on the same plots shown on the map.

The text usually indicates the size of buildings by the number of forks the building stands upon e.g.

“the house aforesaid standeth upon 6 pairs of forks; the outhouses aforesaid upon 3 pairs of forks.”

The Plan of the Manor House and Settrington Church

One of the first features noticed on this plan is the spire shown on Settrington Church. Some local historians believe this is a mistake, while others believe it to be authentic.
The manor house is of the frequently used H-shaped design. The notes to be found in the top left hand corner do not provide further information about the manor house or the church as one might expect. Mansfield, using his own words, is here greatly concerned with the “decay” of the building. Much of it is not solely the result of the passage of time but of deliberate neglect and often of criminal activity, e.g. stealing lead and stone. He names the people he considers responsible, mentioning George Blenkoe the tenant and George Dodsworth the bailiff. The final part of the boxed notes reports on the cutting down of 1166 timber trees from Settrington’s woods. These were sold to over thirty Wolds villages some of which were a reasonable distance away from Settrington, e.g. Kilham, Langtoft and Rudston. At this time the East Riding had little woodland. Unfortunately, the cash received was not passed on to the Queen, but stayed with Blenkoe, Dodsworth and friends. There were a number of other ways in which these men “lined their own pockets.” All this is very well reported in the YAS copy of the report beginning on page 81.

Pages 86 and 87 provide more details of the “decayes of the manor house”(sic). A total of 19 are specifically described; a good example reads as follows:

“ of a Room called Paradice nowe fallen down and cleane gonne which have beene 3 yeards broad and 6 yeards longe and one halfe heighe and had beene covered with Lead”

The list reveals a reasonable amount of information about the rooms in the house. Mansfield finishes this section as follows:

“Sum total of the Decays of the mannor hous is 160li-11s- 8d”

Clearly those responsible were expected to pay.

The Map (or plan) of the Whole Manor

It is a large manor stretching from the River Derwent to the high Wolds. Sir Francis Bigod’s inheritance from his grandfather included eleven manors, with Settrington being the biggest. His total annual income was approximately £385; £139 of this amount came from the Settrington manor alone.

The three fields remain, Furcoth Field, Low Field and High Field, with the number of acres being 206, 376 and 1115 respectively. High Field remains disproportionate in size and may well still have its own rotation system, with more frequent fallow periods. Unfortunately, Mansfield does not inform us of any details of farming practice, nor does he mention a holder’s strips being consolidated in order to achieve various economies. Nevertheless, it is likely that they were. One further note of interest is the alternative names for the smallest open field, which are Furker or Furcoth. The road from Settrington towards Scagglethorpe via the Bull Piece, is now known as Forkers Lane. Other names which have survived in the twenty-first century are the Brock Pits and Wardale.

In addition to this arable land, there are meadows and common pastures which include ox pastures, cow pastures and sheep pastures. Common pastures are of two kinds, stinted and unstinted. On the stinted pastures, the number of animals allowed to graze was regulated. Most of the common pastures were found on the low ground to the north and west between the village and the river. The exceptions are Brock Pits and Town Wold.

The ox pastures are identified as ox pasture, Marr Lees and Lee Holms; in all 180 acres.

Cow pastures are to be found on Low Field Pasture, an area of 250 acres.

The 350 acres of sheep pastures comprised:

  1. The Eastern part of Lee Moor and
  2. Town Wold.

The meadows were a vital source of winter fodder and commanded a rental twice the value of arable land, namely ten shillings an acre. They were divided among tenants into Dayles or Doles, which were marked off from one another by stones or holes. The meadows were Derwent Ings, Cliff Meadows on the Wold escarpment, south east of Furcoth Field and Furcoth Meadow on the eastern side of the beck, north of the houses.

When fully stocked, the grasslands were said to carry 240 oxen, 550 cows and 5500 sheep; numbers being varied as circumstances demanded. Again, unfortunately Mansfield makes no mention of the contemporary practices in animal husbandry.

Rabbits and Pigeons

Both rabbits and pigeons were a valuable source of winter meat.


Rabbits are not native to Britain. They were introduced to this country by the Normans and often confined in purpose-built warrens which had walls erected to keep them contained. Mansfield reports that the Settrington warren “was planted in the low commons” but the owner, Sir Francis Bigod, “fynding that his conyes were ther destroyed did remove them from thence to places about the mannour house they ar in that measure increased and spred through out the lordship”. Sloping ground provided a site superior to flat land; this may well have been instrumental in choosing a new site. Apparently from here they spread throughout the manor, causing losses both to Her Majesty, Elizabeth, and also to the poor among the tenants as they posed a threat to both the crops and the woods.

It is not clear whether the warren had walls which were not properly maintained, or did Sir Francis Bigod declare it to be a “free warren.” In such a warren, rabbits roam freely about the manor and only the owner could cull them. This is unlikely; it may well be another example of slipshod management, with the walls of the warren not having been properly maintained. Mansfield completes the paragraph as follows:

“And the tenants could be contented amongst them to pay rent to her majestie to have the conyes destroyed.”

It is now, of course, 1599 and the warren is on the land in the tenure and occupation of the afore-mentioned George Blenkoe.


The lord is normally the owner of a dovecote within a manor. At the time of the survey the Queen was not exercising her right to have the dovecote; instead it was in the hands of Leonard Freer and was situated in “Chappell Garth”.  Dovecotes could be quite large.

One can still be seen in Cloughton; it is in the grounds of the Hall, but can be viewed from the path which leads from the main road to the village cemetery.

Much of the Mansfield survey can be summarised in six tables to be found at the end of the YAS book on the survey. The holdings are divided into six categories:

  1. Freehold land
  2. Demesne land
  3. Husbandries
  4. Grass farms
  5. Cottages
  6. Small farms or Quillets

As the size of these holdings differ considerably there will clearly be significant differences in income, and there will certainly be a number of the poor. Reading the text one feels that Mansfield is aware of the needs and difficulties of the poor, and he does refer to paupers.

He mentions the widow and nine children of John Holden, concluding the details of the tenement with the following:

“The wife and the nine children are very poor (pauperrimi)”

The widow’s name is Jeanetta; he also lists the names of the nine children. The farm is found in the Husdandryes table and is described as “in possession and impoverished” while under the heading Estate it is said to be “broken, a wife and nine children.”

Mansfield describes the children of Miles Waller as “of pour fortune”; their total holding is three acres three rods.

Another reference is his concern with “balkes” (survey spelling) which the freeholders are exploiting and he concludes “it were very charitable to relieve (sic) the poore with them.”

After the dissolution of the monasteries, which began in 1536, greater attention was given to provision for the poor; it became very much a parish matter.

The Civil War

Earlier in the text, when addressing the arrival of the pestilence, or ‘Black Death’, mention was made of the board in Settrington Church which lists the rectors from 1248. Another historical story prompted by this board is the Civil War which covered the nineteen years from 1642.
In these years the kings, Charles and James, struggled with Parliament – King versus Parliament, or Cavaliers versus Roundheads; it was both a political and a religious conflict.

Ultimately, it had a fundamental effect on Settrington:
The board points-out that John Carter was introduced to the living of Settrington in 1641. By 1644 he had gone and the first of four intruded ministers had taken his place.
Carter was, almost certainly, a High Churchman, much influenced by the views of the then archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. A few years earlier, Laud had prepared a new High Church Prayer Book and Carter could well have used it in Settrington. When Charles I tried to introduce this prayer book to Scotland it caused riots. If, at that time, the prayer book had been introduced to Settrington by Carter, it would certainly have been removed by the newcomer, David Thomas. In the early years of the civil war some areas had church ornaments and decorations vandalised, presumably by some of the Protestant sects supported by Parliament. One of the four intruded ministers was referred to as a pastor, which today suggests non-conformity, as it most likely indicated then.

Probably the most significant battle of the Civil War was Marston Moor (July 1644). It ended in a Roundhead victory. The site was near York, so it is fairly certain that Settrington folk would know about it from information gathered from visiting pedlars and similar folk. An important contribution in the victors’ cause was provided by an East Anglian cavalry contingent brought by a Cambridgeshire MP, Oliver Cromwell. After this victory his stature grew.

Both James I and Charles I were motivated by their firm belief in the divine right of kings. They thought that they were answerable to no one except God. Hence, they could ignore Parliament and, when it refused to grant the money they desired, they dissolved it and did not recall it for lengthy periods, often lasting years.

Cromwell was similar. He believed he had been sent by God to save the country from superstition. He had little respect for other sects, Puritans and Catholics alike. Clearly there was a similarity in the motivations of both Cromwell and the kings, James and Charles.

After another battle, at Naseby (June 1645), Charles escaped and moved about the country for some time, before being captured and subsequently held in Hampton Court, from where he eventually escaped to become involved in an invasion from Scotland, and uprisings in the North. As a consequence, Charles sacrificed any goodwill and leniency left with his opponents. After due trial, in which he reasserted his divine right as king (and therefore he could do no wrong), he was found guilty and condemned to death. He was beheaded on 30th January 1649 and Parliament declared a republic.

Eventually, in 1653, Cromwell was elected Lord Protector. Religious harmony proved difficult to achieve, and various sects such as Baptists, Anabaptists, Quakers, Levellers and others were affected. People in Settrington, along with those in many other settlements, were introduced to a harsh Cromwellian regime, which condemned many innocent pastimes as sinful. Taverns were closed; many games were banned, as was swearing; theatrical performances were forbidden and adultery was to be punished by execution. Church ritual was banned, some vandalism in churches not condemned and censorship was promoted as a matter of course. As a military regime was imposed throughout the country to ensure the observance of these puritanical rules, one cannot imagine Settrington being a very happy place. Cromwell’s regime certainly did not promote happiness and contentment, and people began to yearn for the return of the monarchy.

Cromwell died in 1658 at the age of fifty-nine. His son succeeded him, but he was not equal to the task. This further strengthened the popular resolve to seek the return of Charles II from the Netherlands; this wish came to fruition in May 1660 when he landed at Dover.

Despite the attitude of the two kings, James and Charles, and indeed of Cromwell himself, the sad events had demonstrated the value of the Parliamentary system and the capabilities and ambitions of the type of people who had become MPs. Many of the members had benefited from the shift in wealth, begun under the Tudors, towards an emerging middle class. Many had real wealth that they had obtained in commerce or the professions. Increasingly they aspired to own the fine houses, and the estates associated with them. Up until then, Settrington had been owned by the aristocratic landed wealthy – de Todeni, the Earls of Norfolk, a minor branch of the Norfolk family, namely the Bigods, the Earl and Countess of Lennox and the Duke of Lennox after 1603; the next owner of Settrington (in 1680) was a successful wine merchant by the name of Thompson.

After Mansfield

The Mansfield survey described in great detail a manor in rather a sorry state, with a manor house which had been both vandalised and neglected. Soon after the publication of the survey, Queen Elizabeth died (1603).
In the same year James I granted Settrington, again with Temple Newsham and Wensleydale, to Ludovic Stuart, Duke of Lennox. Eventually he was created Baron Settrington. He appears to have been well thought of and so, once again, someone connected with Settrington was found in various high positions in the royal court.

One must assume that steps had been taken to eradicate the malpractices of the manor’s administration. Nevertheless the family’s hold of the manor was not exceptionally long and it seems to have ended in the early 1680s, when possession passed to Sir Henry Thompson who was a successful wine merchant from York, who had been Lord Mayor in 1663. On his death his son Edward inherited Settrington.

Edward, with his wife Lucy, had seven sons and nine daughters. Work on the old house would now be a matter of extension rather than repairs and maintenance. One Thompson daughter married into a military family, namely the Wolfs; her son, James, was to become a famous after his famous victory at Quebec in September 1759. The French were under siege in Quebec so Wolf led his troops silently down the river in order to scale the cliffs onto the Plains of Abraham to take the enemy by surprise. Victory took only fifteen minutes to achieve but James Wolf was shot and killed during the encounter. He became a national hero much admired by his contemporary Nelson. For reasons unknown, Wolf seems to have been forgotten in recent years. It seems almost certain that during his lifetime he would have visited Settrington to see his grandparents and family. His statue still stands on Observatory Hill in Greenwich. Here we have another person of national acclaim who has Settrington connections.

The Masterman Family

The next owners of Settrington House were the Masterman family, who were York merchants.

It seems that they became acquainted with Settrington House through a marriage involving the Thompson family. There were three Henry Mastermans, the first of whom was a commoner in York before starting a career as a solicitor. He was successful and his son, the second Henry, followed in his footsteps. They made considerable sums of money in property, sufficient for the second Henry to purchase Settrington House in 1748.
He did not move in immediately as he allowed a member of the Thompson family to go on living there. He died in 1769, and so the time he would be able to enjoy the house and estate would be brief. Nevertheless he has a very fine monument on the North wall of the chancel. It is mentioned by Pevsner in the note written on Settrington in one of the “The Buildings of England” volumes.

His son, the third Henry Masterman, inherited the property, but once again he did not live very long as he died three years later. He and his wife are both buried in the churchyard, with no memorial being placed in the church.
He left two young daughters and so the estate passed to the elder, Henrietta, who was only five years old; the property was placed in the hands of trustees until she became of age. When she was twenty-nine years old, she married Mark Sykes of Sledmere, the eldest child of Christopher Sykes. The following year, Mark added Masterman to his name, becoming Mark Masterman Sykes.

Poor Law and Settrington

The East Riding Archives Collection notes that, on October 4th 1823 the local justices of the peace issued an order for the removal of a small family who had come to live in Settrington.

The order, dated “the fourth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three”, was given by two of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor in the Township of Settrington (parishes at this time were frequently referred to as “towns”) and also of Willerby, both settlements in the East Riding of Yorkshire. At this time Justices of the Peace had oversight of parish administration in addition to their duties in the matter of keeping good law and order within the community.
This particular order concerns Robert Miller, his wife Jane and son Richard, who is aged six months. The family is living on contributions from Settrington’s poor rate administered by the appointed overseer. As they have no right to legal settlement in the parish they are not entitled to receive anything from Settrington’s poor rate funds, but, at Settrington’s expense, should be returned to Willerby.

The Justices claimed in the order that they had gained no legal settlement (right to live in the village), and so it was the duty of the churchwardens and the overseers of the poor to return them to Willerby.

Having just considered the events and effects of the civil war in the sixteenth century, this mention of a1823 order may appear to be somewhat out of context. The important Acts of Parliament, however, which justified the action in Settrington in 1823, were approved mainly in the latter years of Elizabeth’s reign. The office of Overseer of the Poor came with the 1572 Act, while the 1597 Act defined their duties much more carefully. The really important Act was passed in 1601, just before Elizabeth’s death. The “Parish Chest” by W.E. Tate declares that the“1601 Act was the very foundation of the local poor law administration for over two centuries”; it goes on to claim “It was the poor law par excellence”.

It established the appointment of two, three or four Overseers from substantial households within the parish who, with the churchwardens, would seek to meet the needs of the poor, be it for food, money, clothing, accommodation or lack of employment; the latter provision includes the apprenticing of young people.

Problems arose in the matter of deciding who qualified for assistance and who did not. This led to the 1662 Act, which is the foundation of the Law of Settlement; it is this law which required the transfer of the Miller family to Willerby where, quite likely, they would qualify.

The money to enable the overseers to carry out their work was provided by local taxation of “Every inhabitant, parson, vicar and every other and every occupier of lands, houses…”.

As the years passed, the money required to fund relief of the poor increased considerably, and public opinion eventually turned against the system. A royal commission which met in 1832 claimed that it found a considerable amount of abuse; it recommended a new system whereby parishes were combined into a union. Settrington, initially, was part of the Malton Poor Law Union formed from sixty-three parishes. (See “History Topography and Directory of North Yorkshire” by J. Bulmer and Co. May 1890) The churchwardens and the Overseers of the Poor were important officers within most parishes. However, there were others who had important tasks to perform within the community; they all acted under the supervision of the Vestry.

The Vestry

When one hears the word vestry today one thinks of the small room in the church from which the vicar emerges before the service begins. However, the word has a wider meaning where, in some modern dictionaries, the word is defined as “a meeting of all members of the parish to transact official and administrative business” – this was its accepted meaning for many years from the sixteenth century.

By this time the manorial system which had governed the life of inhabitants for centuries was in decay. The first signs of this were apparent after the Black Death. The important part of the dictionary definition was the opening which says “a meeting of all members of the parish”; the vestry meeting was truly democratic.

When the manorial machinery of administration was beginning to become obsolete and people looked round for a replacement, eyes fell upon the churchwardens. The church was the dominant influence and presence in people’s lives. The churchwardens had experience in raising church rates and spending the proceeds; hence, the vestry became the vehicle of local administration. Sidney and Beatrice Webb (social reformers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century) found the concept of the vestry meeting attractive; the earliest date they found for such a meeting was 1507. Vestries do seem to have become widespread during the sixteenth century and later, but there was no act of Parliament which sought to establish them. The Webbs would certainly have agreed with the English historian who said: “The cradle of our liberties was the village…Centuries before universal suffrage was even dreamt of we were governing ourselves…the local community was the only real authority; the parish was the unit of government… Every householder had to serve his year as an administrator of the nation’s business…he had to take his turn as one of the parish officers or provide an efficient substitute…At the end of the year he went back into the general body of the village community with what he had learnt…He transmitted it to his children.”

When the vestry meeting in a parish was established all the ratepayers had a right to attend, and to vote. The key to real success in this machinery of local government is always dependent upon the enthusiasm and sense of responsibility of the individual. Their village would be the centre of their world, and the Vestry far more important to the comfort and convenience of their lives than Parliament or the monarch. Most parish inhabitants would have little opportunity to stray far from their village. The limits of their travelling would, for many, be the distance they could journey on their own pair of legs.

The Vestry appointed various officers:
Typically, Vestry-appointed officers, namely the churchwardens and the Overseers of the Poor, dealt with the Miller family mentioned above (churchwardens had added a number of secular responsibilities to their initial brief).

The Constable was an officer appointed for a year. This was not a new office as it may well have existed from manorial times; evidence for their existence dates back to the thirteenth century. Acting under the authority of the Justices of the Peace they were responsible for law and order. There was a long list of occupations and ranks, etc. which excluded people from election to the post. They served for one year. They carried a short staff with which to deal with offenders, and possibly as a mark of their office; in some villages it was hung outside the constable’s house.

In manorial times, the maintenance of highways was placed upon the landowners, with the lord attempting to make sure freeholders and tenants honoured their obligations. As the system involved using poorly-organised, unpaid labour, it was not successful.

In 1555, a great Highways Act was passed which determined policy for three centuries; the responsibility was placed upon the parish. As a result of this legislation, every person in the community who owned draught horses was obliged to make them available, with two men and a suitable cart, for four days each year. Other householders and cottagers had to put in four days labour. Obviously, if the system was to work effectively, an efficient organiser was necessary. So, through the Vestry, the parishioners appointed a Surveyor of the Highways, sometimes known as the Waywarden. The overall authority for the work was placed in the hands of the Justices.

This was an onerous and difficult appointment and hence not a popular one. The machinery for the selection of a suitable person was altered later in 1555. The appointment was to be made by the Constable and the churchwarden after “calling together a number of parishioners on the Tuesday or Wednesday of Easter week”. Then in 1662 it was changed yet again; the power to appoint was given to “the churchwardens and constable with the advice and consent of the major part of the inhabitants present in the church at the close of morning prayer on the Monday or Tuesday of Easter week”.
The community would be reminded of the procedure by notices read out at church services and one fastened to the church door – the church continued to be a major participant in the lives of the villagers.

A large part of Settrington was un-enclosed up to the end of the eighteenth century and, although scattered individual strips belonging to one tenant were a thing of the past (having been replaced by consolidation), co-operation between owners of land was essential. In order to achieve the harmony required, a Fieldmaster or Field Reeve was appointed. He had subordinates such as the Pinder, Common Keeper and the Hedge Looker to help him enforce the requirements of the Vestry, which were set out to ensure successful and cooperative open field agriculture.

The Pinder’s task was to attend to stray animals by placing them in the village pinfold (then to charge owners for their retrieval). The remains of Settrington’s pinfold were still in place in the early nineteen-sixties, but were unfortunately demolished in order to accommodate the gateway for the village hall.

The conventional Vestry discussed so far, and much admired by people such as the Webbs, was open to all rate-payers; with the later advent of the Select Vestry, it was referred to as the Open Vestry.

There were those who deplored the (Open) Vestry’s availability to all ratepayers. They sought to make membership much more selective and restrictive, limiting it to ten to twenty, influential, or more substantial, members of the parish. Such members would be selected, of course, by the squire, and the incumbent and appointed officers.

The concept of the Select Vestry was strengthened by James I’s open support of the Anglican Church and, then again, by the restoration of the church after the Civil War. The bishops, falsely, tried to suggest it was a purely ecclesiastical concept; the motive may have been to keep Dissenters at bay.

Research might reveal whether Settrington’s Vestry was Open or Select.

The Work of Mark and Henrietta Sykes

‘This edifice was erected by Sir Tatton Sykes, Baronet, to the memory of his father, Sir Christopher Sykes, Baronet, who by assiduity and perseverance in building, planting and enclosing on the Yorkshire Wolds in the short space of thirty years, set such an example to other owners of land as has caused what was once a bleak and barren tract of country to become now one of the most productive and best cultivated districts in the County of Yorkshire.’

This inscription is found by the side of the road which passes through Sledmere. One of the people for whom an example was set was none other than his own eldest son, Mark Sykes, who, in 1795, aged twenty-four, married the twenty-nine-year-old Henrietta Masterman of Settrington. They set about the threefold task facing them in Settrington with considerable vigour:

  1. To re-site and rebuild Settrington House
  2. To complete the enclosure of the village; some land had been enclosed in previous years, but most remained open fields
  3. To create a more “orderly estate village”, which would be situated outside the grounds of the “big house” (This had been done in Sledmere and villages such as Escrick and Howsham).

1.The house

The first task, namely the re-siting and rebuilding of Settrington House could begin almost immediately. This new house, which saw many internal alterations over the years, suffered a serious fire in 1963. Francis Johnson, the renowned architect, designed the replacement; it was, and is, much admired.
(Editor’s note: Dates and other sources suggest that the new house would have been, at worst, substantially complete by the time they were married.)

2.The enclosure Work

Some enclosure work had been done in 1668, but the majority of the village fields remained un-enclosed. An Act of Parliament obtained by Mark Sykes in 1797 enabled the enclosure commissioners to begin their task; it was completed within the year.

Instead of the former large open fields, Settrington now had large regular fields, divided from one another by post and rail fences which protected the newly planted hedges. Paths through the fields were indicated on the maps of the time. Principal roads were usually about forty feet wide with a central strip of loose stones. When, eventually, they were made with superior surfaces, they were, of course, narrower – hence Settrington’s wide grass verges.

A farmer’s holding of land was now usually a number of fenced fields in one block, which could well be situated away from the centre of the village. Hence, new farm houses and farm buildings were built – the Settrington that we know today was taking shape.

Enclosure led to more efficient farming in a variety of ways. A farmer enjoyed greater personal choice in the matter of the crops he grew, and this choice was becoming wider. If he was keen on animal husbandry he could keep his stock isolated from other holders’ animals. The increasing popularity of root crops certainly helped with winter feeding.
Farmers now had an incentive to try to farm in better ways. For a number of years, prominent voices had been claiming this was possible. The names included Arthur Young (agriculturist), Robert Bakewell (cattle breeder), Jethro Tull (inventor of a workable seed drill and a horse hoe), Turnip Townsend (who introduced a new form of crop rotation) and Thomas Coke (Coke of Hockham, who firmly believed that farming had to be more scientific). With one’s own land, experimentation and forward looking were possibilities; the open field system did not encourage such individual initiative.

There was also the added incentive of increased profits; the growing population of the industrial towns was providing the markets the farmers sought.

3. Creating a more orderly estate village situated away from the grounds of the “big house”

The changes within the village itself are usually attributed to Henrietta. A ‘then and now’ comparison with the Mansfield survey’s plan featured in the Village Design Statement indicates how extensive these were:

The changes are most apparent on the beckside. The congested houses on either side of the beck have, in the main, been removed, with the timber-framed buildings having been replaced with houses built of Jurassic limestone, built farther away from the beck. Now they are built in pairs, with each house surrounded by a large garden. They have access both to the beck and to either Church Lane or Back Lane[1]. An attractive air of spaciousness replaces the previous congestion.

The exception is a row of eight houses on the eastern side of the beck which remains in its former position.
Various reasons have been speculated for why most of the houses were re-sited farther back from the beck, and for why that row of eight houses (incorporating the smithy and the, then, school) wasn’t.

It is certain that in their ambition to “create an orderly estate village outside the grounds of the “big House”” Mark and Henrietta were much influenced by the work over the years of Mark’s father Christopher. Visitors to Sledmere, or even people passing through, will have noticed that, with the exception of the Triton Inn, the village is situated on one side of the road, with Sledmere House on the other. There had been village houses quite near to the House; some were removed before enclosure and the rest afterwards, being rebuilt on the other side of the road.
In Settrington, Mark and Henrietta did not have as much to do as Sir Christopher Sykes. They had only to remove the houses to the south-east of the mill and absorb the freed-up land into the grounds of the house. The Mansfield plan shows that, before this, on leaving church, villages would cross the road and immediately be walking down a village street. (It is unclear how or where the residents of the houses which were ‘removed’ were re-housed – possibly this too merits research.)

Henrietta Masterman Sykes

It is clear that Settrington owes a great deal to Henrietta, whose affection for the village never wavered. As has been mentioned, she was only five years old when her father died, and so the estate was placed in the hands of trustees until she came of age. As she did not marry until she was twenty-nine years old there could have been eight years when she had the opportunity to exercise her benign influence upon the settlement; presumably it was during this time that she planned the improvements which are so admired by writers and visitors alike. For example, K.J. Allison, in one of his books on the East Riding, writes about the beckside as follows: “This part of Settrington now has the spacious air of a planned estate village, one of the best of its kind in the riding”.

In 1801, Mark’s father, Sir Christopher Sykes, died; leaving Mark to inherit the newly-built Sledmere House and the still-expanding estate. At that time, Mark and Henrietta took up residence in Sledmere. However, Settrington House was not abandoned or let. It was regarded as a second home, and Henrietta left many of her possessions there. She had a fondness for riding and a more than adequate stable of her own horses. The ten-mile journey between Sledmere and Settrington was never an obstacle, and must have been made frequently.

Henrietta shared her passion for horses with Mark’s younger brother, Tatton. Tatton was to become one of the major characters, if not the major character, of the Wolds. Stories about him are legion. His impressive monument on Garton Hill, visible for many miles around, is a fitting tribute to him. Henrietta and Tatton were very close; there is a fine full-length portrait of Mark, Henrietta and Tatton in Sledmere House; Mark is seated, with Henrietta behind him and Tatton alongside.

Christopher Simon Sykes, in his book “The Big House”, writes of Henrietta’s taste in books, and lists a number of titles she enjoyed, including translating one novel from the French. Apparently, she was fluent in French and used it when making her diary entries. She did write a novel herself, but it does not appear to have excited any publisher.

Henrietta died in 1813 at the age of forty-seven; there were no children of the marriage.
Some of the details of her will are quite revealing. Significantly, some of the legatees had to collect their legacies from Settrington House; she left clear instructions on where they were to be found. Tatton had the pick of the horses from her stable; Mark’s youngest brother, Christopher, inherited the remainder.
The closing sentences of the will confirm again that the marriage to Mark was a genuine love match as she prays for his future happiness, probably insinuating that he should consider a second marriage.

Mark did indeed marry again, to Mary Egerton; his sister-in-law, and a lady to whom Henrietta had left bequests. Again, however, there were no children and so, on Mark’s death in February 1823, Settrington was returned to the Masterman family.
Henrietta’s younger sister had two sons and the elder, Henry Francis Barlow, became the owner of Settrington. He changed his name to Henry Masterman but, unfortunately, he shared the same fate as his uncle and grandfather in only enjoying his inheritance and residency in Settrington for a period of two years before his death in 1826. He has a small memorial in the chancel in Settrington church found to the left (when facing) of the impressive memorial of his grandfather. It will be noted that his residence is given both as Settrington and Millbank, Southampton. On this latest death, Settrington passed to Henry’s brother, a clergyman, who sold the house and the estate quite quickly. It was bought by Lord Middleton of Birdsall.

The Famous Wager between Mark and a Settrington Rector

It was common practice among the wealthy landed gentry to enter into quite bizarre wagers on almost any of the daily events of ordinary life. Mark Sykes was no exception and the wager described below became a topic of conversation at dinner tables for a long time. It was even more widely known, both nationally and internationally, when it became the subject of action in the law courts.

Soon after Sir Mark had settled into Settrington House he had a dinner party to which the rector of Settrington, the Rev. Robert Gilbert3, was invited. At this time Napoleon was causing considerable concern throughout Europe and many feared a possible invasion of England. Other European countries felt just as threatened as England and this widespread concern led to Mark suggesting that surely someone must seek to assassinate Napoleon as soon as possible. In order to support this personal belief, Mark suggested that if anyone present would give him fifty guineas he would pay that person one pound a day for as long as Napoleon lived. The date the wager was made was June 1st 1802 and Napoleon had to meet his end by September 8th of the same year. Robert Gilbert agreed to the wager and handed over his fifty guineas.

Napoleon was not assassinated; he lived on, and the Rev. Robert Gilbert received his pound a day for some time. Mark eventually grew restless about this and suggested the bet be cancelled on the grounds that it was an incentive to murder and, generally, against the public interest. He stopped paying the daily debt at the end of 1804. The matter went to the York Assizes in 1811, where Robert Gilbert claimed unpaid debts accumulated by Mark for almost seven years. The verdict was given in Mark’s favour. Gilbert appealed to the King’s Bench, but again the verdict was given to Mark.

There are two accounts of this wager and subsequent events. One of these is Canon [1]Cooper’s “Curiosities of East Yorkshire” which was published soon after the First World War; the other is in “The Big House” by Christopher Simon Sykes. The two accounts do differ; the important difference is that Canon Cooper writes that Mark Sykes proposed the wager, while “The Big House” claims that it was the Rev. Robert[2] Gilbert. It is suggested that, as a result of this eventual unpleasantness, the Sykes family did not welcome members of the clergy residing in Sledmere, and so they had to live elsewhere. There is a famous Tatton story which, if true, would support this view: During a day’s hunting a clergyman fell from his horse. As others went to his assistance Tatton was heard to shout, “Leave him where he is. He will not be needed till Sunday”.

[1] Canon Cooper was the vicar of Filey who became known as the “Walking Parson.” His walks took him to many parts of East and North Yorkshire and his numerous discoveries were the subjects of his books.3 The Rev. Robert Gilbert was Settrington’s longest serving rector, holding the incumbency from 1775 to 1820. He would witness the major changes to Settrington from close hand. It would be fascinating to have his thoughts on the improvements brought about by Mark and Henrietta, preferably written before the court action! He has a fine memorial in the chancel opposite to Henry Masterman’s.

The  School

If Henrietta had been able to return to Settrington in, perhaps, 1945 at the end of the Second World War’, she would have been pleased to notice that little had changed. The work she and Mark had done had stood the test of time.
She would have noticed three changes, namely the fine school building, wonderfully situated at the point where the two arms of the village meet, the railway, with its embankments, bridges, tunnels and station, and the Methodist chapel (Methodism was quite vibrant in the village long before her death, but there was no chapel).

Education had a long tradition in the village and so the sight of the school would not surprise her. The work of the chantry priests would have been known to her, and there is likely to have been a school on the beckside during her lifetime.

In 1965, the University of Hull published some of their research into rural education in the East Riding in 1850. There was no shortage of schools, but many of them, if not most, were of very poor quality. Four small areas of the riding were identified as having a “local tradition for education.” The evidence was based upon information provided by the 1851 census return, which identified children between the ages of six to eleven attending school by having Scholar added in the appropriate column of the return. In these selected areas the average attendance of all the schools was 84%. Settrington was not in any of the four areas, however, application of the same criterion reveals that, even before the National School opened in 1852, Settrington matched the 84% figure.
One must remember that school attendance was totally a matter of parental choice, and most parents would have had to pay. There is documentary evidence to confirm that in Settrington the church paid the fees of children from poor families.

Evidence suggests that Settrington’s tradition of education was longstanding. Mention has already been made of Francis Bigod nailing his thesis on a table in Settrington church, and of A G Dicken’s comment about literacy in our remote village. It was suggested in these notes that this was the result of the chantry priests having devoted time to teaching village children to read and write. At first this service was voluntary but in later years it became obligatory. The chantry buildings suffered the same fate as the monasteries, but the work of Settrington’s chantries moved to the church as Mansfield records in his 1599 survey. In 1548 St. John’s priest was William Thompson aged forty and St. Mary’s was Robert Woodhouse aged fifty-seven. It is not known when the chantries stopped teaching village children and schoolmasters took over.

Settrington’s Parish Registers for November 1654, has the following entry:

William sonne of Edmund Norham schoolmaster borne the six and twentieth day.

There were sixty-five births between September 1654 and August 1657; no mention is made of any father’s occupation as it is for Edmund Norham; four fathers out of the sixty-five have gent printed after their names.

G.F. Mingay, sometime professor of Agrarian History at the University of Kent, in his “Rural Life in Victorian England” writes:

At the beginning of the century the schoolmaster ranked below even the carrier, the blacksmith, the butcher, the cordwainer, tailor and wheelwright. Indeed many schools were run as sidelines by persons who were themselves imperfectly literate, by a village tradesman or an elderly lady wanting to supplement an inadequate income.

An entry for March 1659 records another son for Edmund Norham; again the word “schoolmaster” appears after his name. It is reasonable to assume he had some standing in the village and this was 150 years before the time referred to in the extract from Mingay above. Another schoolmaster is identified in the register in May 1705 when Arthur, son of John Jefferson schoolmaster, is baptised (sadly, the child’s death is recorded the following June). Again, the recording of the father’s profession as schoolmaster suggests that he was of some standing in the community.

Archbishop Herring’s visitation to the parish in 1743 is recorded.

He asked, “Is there any public or Charity School endowed or otherwise in your parish?”

Dr. Samuel Baker, rector, replied, “We have no charity school endowed; children are taught to write and read by a Schoolmaster, paying him as they agree.”

One of the buildings noted above as remaining close to the beck was a school in 1815. Thomas Wardell, the accepted leader of the Methodists during the nineteenth century, confirms in his journal that the Methodists were allowed to use “the schoolroom” for Sunday services from 1815.

Kelly’s Directory of 1823 lists John Chapman as schoolmaster at that time and he is also included in the 1841 census. He does not appear in the 1851 census but an early 1850s OS map shows two schools on beckside, one for boys and one for girls. Both these schools appear in a list of “Schools in the East Riding” compiled in 1851 by Horace Mann.
These schools would have closed when the present school building was opened in 1852.
The first entry in this school’s first surviving log book is headed:

Dimensions of School and Classroom

School  Length 49 feet

            Breadth 18½ feet

            Height 13 feet

Classroom  Length 13 feet

Breadth 10½ feet

            Height 10½ feet The room referred to as the “School” is, of course, the main room overlooking the road. It had no partition and was, literally, one room where all ages were taught (other than infants, who were taught in the ‘Classroom’).

Settrington National School

The first grant Parliament made in 1833 to provide for education amounted to twenty thousand pounds. The figure grew each year as more schools were provided. There was no direct action by government; the work was carried out by two voluntary agencies, one Anglican and one Nonconformist.

The Anglican agency rejoiced in the name of The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church. The smaller Nonconformist agency was the British and Foreign School Society.
Schools promoted by the Anglican society were usually referred to as National Schools. The fundamental principle adopted for them was ‘that the national religion should be made the foundation of national education and should be the first and chief thing taught to the poor’. The enormous influence and presence of the rectors and their curates, together with their wives, and often adult children, is evident by their numerous visits to the school recorded in the school log book. It is noticeable that there is no mention of education being a means of raising the scholars’ status in society, or of generally enriching their lives.
In her book “Lark Rise to Candleford”, Flora Thompson writes that every morning the rector arrived to take the older children for Scripture. She writes:

‘He would deliver a little lecture on morals and behaviour. The children must not lie or steal or be discontented or envious. God had placed them just where they were in the social order and given them their own special work to do; to envy others or to try to change their own life was a sin of which he hoped they would never be guilty’.

This must have been her experience fairly late in the nineteenth century as her brother, who was slightly younger, was killed on the Somme in 1916.

We know very little about the first twenty years in the life of Settrington’s National School as the first log book in existence does not start until 1871. Henry Weatherill may well have been the first head teacher as he is named as such in the 1857 Post Office Trade Directory.
By the time of the 1861 census, the head is the twenty-two-year-old certificated schoolmaster, Charles Pullon. He is living in the school house in Town Green Lane, the residence of head teachers for the next hundred and twenty years.
The 1871 census names the head as Richardson Vasey, but he must have left soon after as, in October 1871, the first surviving school log book states:

Monday Oct. 2nd 1871. Commenced a schoolmaster in this school.            Signed Ensor Hird.

All the head teachers after Ensor Hird can be named and listed.

Although the absence of a log book for the first twenty years of the life of Settrington school is a handicap, we can be sure that the school would not have escaped the early important decisions of the national government, the most important of which came in 1862 with the introduction of “Payment by results”; this prompted the terms of the annual inspection. Mention has been made of the first Parliamentary award for national educational provision in 1833 as being £20,000; by 1861 this had risen to £800,000. The two voluntary agencies had done quite a good job as more than one in eight of the child population was now registered as a pupil in school.

There was considerable concern over two particular issues, the first being the quality of the education offered, and the second the poor levels of attendance. Regarding the latter, child labour was often of value in rural areas and “children absent doing field work” was a frequently seen line in the school log book.

Regarding the former, inspectors now made annual visits to school to examine children individually in the three “Rs” (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic – known as the standard subjects). The maximum grant available to a pupil was twelve shillings (60p). Four shillings or 20p was to be related to attendance, while the balance of eight shillings (80p) was to be earned by passing tests in reading, writing and arithmetic. Failure in any one resulted in a deduction of two shillings and eight pence (13p).

Examinations were arranged in six standards (these were increased to seven at a later date). Children under six were not tested, but they did attract a grant of six shillings and sixpence (32½p) if their attendance was satisfactory and the inspector was satisfied they “were being instructed suitably for their age”. This system was introduced to the House of Commons by Robert Lowe who said at the time that he could not promise ‘that the system will be an economical one, and I cannot promise that it will be an efficient one, but I can promise that if it is not cheap it shall be efficient; if it is not efficient it shall be cheap’.

In later years the system was used productively. It offered extra grants for particular subjects with a view to broadening the curriculum; in this endeavour it could claim success.

Before the end of the century, attendance became compulsory and the fees paid by parents were abolished. The school log book records that Canon Isacc Taylor came to school mid-morning on Monday 31st August 1891 to tell Alfred Rice, the head, to give the pupils their money back, as he had received a letter telling him that education was now free.

The last two or three years of Alfred Rice’s time as Settrington’s schoolmaster were particularly difficult. The stove which provided heat in winter developed a severe fault which, over three winters, defied repair. Rice wrote that he had a choice, ‘either to let the children sit there starved, or smoked”.

A bigger problem was the infant classroom which was 13 feet by 10½ feet. The average attendance of infants by this time was over twenty, creating an impossible situation. The total school attendance was often ninety or more; taking some infants into the main room in order to relieve congestion in the Classroom created further problems. Inspectors had condemned the infants’ classroom on three previous occasions; on this occasion, the grant was reduced by 13 shillings because no improvement had been made.

Harvest must have been quite late that year as Rice writes in the log book on September 2nd 1898: “I received permission to break up school on Thursday night for Harvest Holidays”.

This is his last log book entry. There is no mention of his resignation, but when school reopens on October 8th new staff members are in post. For twenty years he had served the school well; the loss of grant must have been the last straw.

An unhappy and difficult seventeen months

School reopened on October 8th 1898. Mr T G Wilkinson was the new master and his wife, Mrs M Wilkinson, was assistant mistress, with their daughter, Miss G E Wilkinson as a pupil teacher. The Wilkinsons had a difficult time; by November Mr Thackray, HMI, had made three visits and was unhappy with both order and discipline.

The work to provide a larger infant room began in December, bringing with it unhelpful noise and dust. The average attendances in the last three weeks of term were 86, 92, 83, with all the children, including the infants, being taught in the main room.

The Wilkinson family survived for just seventeen months. Before they left, the number on roll had risen to 113, of which 33 were infants.

The subsequent appointment of the Hutchcroft family was a good one and the school eventually settled down again. One report starts as follows: “The school has improved in almost every way since the new teachers came and further improvements may be expected”.

Numbers on the roll continued to grow and an average weekly attendance of 109 was quite common. It must be remembered that this was an all-age school, so some of the pupils would not be small of stature.

Previously, Enzor Hird and Alfred Rice had between them served the school well for twenty-eight years. They both suffered from inadequate staffing, particularly Rice in his later years. From 1870 the gaps in national education provision were filled by rate-financed Board Schools. The latter were treated much more generously than the church schools, being paid £3.0s.9¼d (£3.3½p) per pupil for a year, compared with £2.6s.3½d (£2.31p) for church; a difference of 30% in favour of the Board schools.
In the event, the Hutchcroft family did not stay long; they were appointed and welcomed to the school at Birdsall.


1902 was an important year for education nationally, and certainly for Settrington School locally as it benefited from the provisions of the Act, and at the same time started to enjoy a more settled period. The last four years had seen the appointment of five different heads; two were permanent appointments and three temporary. Three capable head teachers were to care for the school over the next fifty-eight years and during this time many features of education as we know it today began to appear. The Education Act abolished school boards and established Local Education Authorities. In Settrington’s case this was the East Riding County Council based in Beverley. This happy arrangement was to continue until 1974, when local government reorganisation placed Settrington in North Yorkshire, and Beverley was replaced by Northallerton. The first of the three head teachers was Mr. James W Rimer, who began his duties on 1st July 1902. He signed his log book as a trained certificated master. Recognised qualifications were now demanded, and resulted eventually in teaching becoming an all-graduate profession. Mr Rimer was also a very capable musician and his name is inscribed upon the organ stool in Settrington Church. It fell to his lot to complete and send the first official return to County Hall, Beverley. Mr Rimer began his teaching career about 1888, and so he witnessed at first hand many of the improvements made late in the nineteenth century, e.g. school fees abolished; attendance at school made compulsory. He attached enormous importance to regular attendance and followed up most pupils’ absences in a thoroughly conscientious way. In the 1910 East Riding Schools Attendance Report, Settrington School was ranked 41st with 192 schools below it in the table. This was a very creditable performance, especially when one remembers that among the 41 higher in the table were a number of urban schools whose pupils lived close by their school. Many Settrington children had to walk over a mile in all kinds of weather conditions; Mr Rimer had good reason to be pleased with his efforts.
1908 saw the introduction of the first school medical examination. The head was far more involved than heads are today. He/she carried out the vision testing and completed a questionnaire for each child with regard to items such as cleanliness, clothing and footware, etc. The health of the nation had been a growing national concern for some time. The number of men who failed the medical examination to participate in the Boer War had shocked the nation. The medical officer was not altogether happy with the school lavatories. He asked for wash basins to be installed, two for the girls and one for the boys. He required disinfectant to be added to the water, and sawdust used for daily cleaning. The school was bothered, and continued to be bothered for many years still to come, by epidemics of illnesses such as whooping cough (or scarletina), scarlet fever and diphtheria. The log books do mention continual coughing which Pamela Horn in her book “The Victorian Country Child” relates to a chronic catarrhal condition which is often aggravated when children arrive at school in wet clothes and damp footware after a long walk to school. Typhoid was another cause of anxiety, and the school log books record on a number of occasions the absence of children from a family where a case had been diagnosed. Before Mr Rimer retired, the children were also able to benefit from the Schools’ Dental Service. This was not universally welcomed by rural families, but the situation did improve as the year went by.
The number on roll increased in 1922 when the school at North Grimston was closed, with the pupils being transferred to Settrington. For the greater part of the period up to 1960 the head teachers were required to submit copies of the school timetables to County Hall for approval, a process which seems to have taken quite a number of weeks, with permanent amendments having to be notified. From copies of the first timetables sent to the East Riding LEA it is seen that the school had moved to a more balanced and broader curriculum; a far cry from the continual grind of rote learning in the three Rs demanded by the “payment by results” regime.

The Malton and Driffield Branch Line (the Malton Dodger*)

(* ‘Dodger’ because, for reasons of topography, it dodged most of the villages after which the stations were named.)

During the month of October 1845 an enthusiastic meeting in Malton’s Town Hall gave sympathetic consideration to the construction of a railway from Malton to Driffield, passing through Settrington. At this time there was a great deal of enthusiasm for railways and the new twenty-mile line was seen as part of a major trunk line linking Newcastle to Hull, particularly the docks. The anticipated freight business from the north eastern coalfields seemed to guarantee a profitable investment. Benefit was also forecast from passenger traffic from the north east to some of Yorkshire’s coastal resorts.
After construction had begun, closer examination of the difficulties involved in establishing the link at Malton with the Thirsk/Malton line were recognised as a fatal blow to the more ambitious aims. Difficulties were also recognised at the Driffield end regarding continuing the journey to Hull. The fate of the Malton/Driffield line was thus sealed; it would forever be simply a country branch line and never, ever, a main line.

The consulting engineer was an experienced man by the name of John Birkinshaw. His assistant was A L Dickens, brother to the famous Victorian novelist Charles Dickens. The engineers were wildly optimistic, and stated quite clearly before the work began that they could see no engineering difficulties at all.
However, they were overly optimistic. Burdale Tunnel proved to be a major stumbling block and in the first year only 150 yards were completed. As a consequence, it was decided to abandon the double track through the tunnel.
The problems with the tunnel threatened the financial viability of the whole project, which led to the building of stations which were rather mean in both proportion and facilities.
Nevertheless, although the provision of rolling stock was almost overlooked and had to be hired at the last minute, the opening of the line did take place on 18th May 1853 and it began its life as a local line, mainly serving the needs of agriculture.
It also served the needs of quarries, Settrington being an example of this. The 1911 OS map shows two lime kilns alongside the line with the immediate land around them marked as a quarry. Although the lime kilns have almost disintegrated with the passage of time they can still be identified. The site is found to the north of “the top road”, between the Scarlet Balk Plantation and Settrington (railway) ‘bridge’ (essentially a tunnel). From the bridge/tunnel under the road, the railway line used to cross the field in a south-easterly direction to Settrington station.

From the opening of the line to the end of the nineteenth century, the business in both freight and passengers did increase but, as the twentieth century progressed, demand for the line’s services declined.
Towards the end of the line’s life, quarries had opened in both Wharram and Burdale to supply Teesside’s steel-making industry with chalk and limestone. However, this trade ceased when the users of the stone demanded that the quarry owner should provide smaller pieces of chalk approximately two inches in size; the elderly quarry owner declined to change, and so the end came. The passenger service closed in June 1950. Its demise was hastened because so many village stations were so inconveniently situated (i.e. the villages were dodged!).
The quarries closed three years later, and Dr Beeching’s axe finally fell and the line closed on 18th October 1958.

The Methodist Chapel

In 1778 John Wesley commenced publication of a magazine which he called “The Arminian Magazine.” One of the magazine issues in the year 1782 included the following extract from a letter written by John Manners of York, who was one of Wesley’s itinerant preachers. He speaks of a visit he made to our area in 1763 as follows:

After much opposition I joined nineteen together at Malton and fifteen at Pickering……… When I was in Malton I went on the Sabbath Day to preach at Settrington. The congregation being very large we asked the owner[1] of the town for a place large enough to contain them. He answered us “As it is for the worship of God, I dare not refuse it, and I will send as many of my servants as can be spared to hear for themselves. But before I had finished my discourse the curate (M. Hebden) came and called aloud among the people for the church wardens and the constable who followed him out to receive a charge to pull me down. They came and told me. I desired them to give my respects to Hebden and to tell him that if he had anything to say to me I was ready to answer for myself, but he was gone.

I then finished my discourse in peace. He threatened in the following week to banish the Methodists but, in going from entertainment the next Saturday night, he fell from his horse and died an untimely death.

This letter was written nineteen years after the event, and one wonders what prompted it. Could it be that Settrington Methodists were making good progress? Opposition to their cause was a fact of life for Methodists at this time. John Wesley was stoned on more than one occasion, and his brother Charles had his life threatened several times. Opposition varied from place to place and not all of it involved physical aggression. For example, when John Wesley was speaking in nearby Pocklington, the church wardens had the church bells rung loudly in order to drown his voice. In Settrington they did not escape scot-free, but there is no evidence of physical harm. In order to attend Methodist meetings in Malton they had to walk along Town Street where they were subjected to verbal abuse. James Wardell, when he came to the village early in the nineteenth century, researched the events from the 1760s onwards.

The speed with which “would be Methodists” reacted to John Manners’ visit would suggest that the future had been given some thought. In order “to hold public worship of Almighty God” in the village a licence was required from the archbishop of York. This was granted on 16th February 1764. Although the original document has not survived, we do know exactly what was written. It read:

‘This is to certify whom it may concern, that the house of John Hall in the Town and parish of Settrington in the County and Diocese of York was this day entered in the registry of His Grace the Archbishop of York as a place of publick (sic) worship of Almighty God for Protestant Dissenters. Witness my hand this sixteenth day of February in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Four.

Richard Mackley Deputy Register

(The Wesleys always denied the claim that they were Dissenters. They were ordained Anglican clergy and remained so all their lives. John was careless about the matter and separation happened. Charles Wesley vigorously opposed leaving the Anglican Church to the end of his days)

John Hall was not a Settrington born man. He had come to the village because he had just lost his job in the village where he was living because of his enthusiasm for John Wesley’s teaching. Would he have come to Settrington if he had discovered it to be a place where he was likely to be unwelcome? Did the crowd at John Manners’ service in the previous year include people who had also sought out Settrington as a place of tolerance? Does this explain why Settrington’s group listening to John Manners seems to have been larger than those in both Malton and Pickering?

If only some of these suppositions are correct, they may well justify the claim John Rushton (local historian) makes in his research work entitled “The Kept Faith” (Beck Isle Museum Publications): ‘It has been suggested that Settrington may have been the first place where Methodist services were held regularly in the district’.

We speak glibly of holding services in a cottage such as John Hall’s, but it cannot have been easy; even given that a cottage at this time probably did not contain as much furniture as in later years it must have been cramped. The Methodist practice of dividing a congregation into small groups, called classes, with a person well able to lead, would certainly have helped to keep the membership together. When James Wardell researched the early years of Methodism in Settrington, he recorded the impressive calibre of some of the class leaders. The groups met mid-week on a weekly basis.

Early in the nineteenth century the Methodist society was allowed to use the schoolroom on the beckside, but in 1815 they inadvertently arranged a service which took place at the same time as one arranged in the church. For this “offence” the Methodists were deprived of the use of the schoolroom. After much pleading they were able to use it again from 1835 up to the closure of the school in 1952, when Settrington’s National School opened its doors. Their request to use the redundant schoolroom was denied and it became a house (the upper storey having been added in the early part of the twentieth century).

Methodism, however, continued to prosper in the village. Much of the credit for this must be accorded to Thomas Wardell who was born in Burton Fleming in 1795. He attended school there and proved himself to be an intelligent, hardworking pupil. After an apprenticeship to a butcher in Scarborough, he arrived in Settrington to assist his father who had started to farm there. He joined the Scagglethorpe Methodists and quickly became a class teacher and a local preacher. Marriage to Ann Edwardson, whose family lived in Town Street, brought him to Settrington, where he was given tenancy of a smallholding and premises where he could establish himself as a butcher (on the corner of Chapel Road and Forkers Lane). Later he moved to Brook Farm, which stayed in his family for many years. He wrote a very detailed journal which is a useful source of information about the village and the activities of the Methodist congregation. (See the Appendix for further insight into Thomas Wardell.)

Under his leadership the society enjoyed a very active programme of events in addition to Sunday worship and the work with classes. They continued to meet in houses, but they also used barns to good effect, particularly when arranging special events such as Missionary Meetings. Normally on these occasions two barns would be used with one being set aside for an ample tea. There was a particularly fine celebration in 1864 to mark the centenary of Methodism in the village. A poster was printed by Colins of Malton and widely distributed in the area. On this occasion three barns were used, two for the tea and one for the service.

Being an avid reader Thomas Wardell had a fine collection of books which he catalogued and named “A Wesley Library.” The books were made available for village folk to borrow. He died in 1875 at the age of eighty and is buried, with family members, in the churchyard.

The members of the society remained enthusiastic and their patience was eventually rewarded when land at a nominal rent was made available by the then Lord Middleton in March 1890. The congregation had waited one hundred and twenty-five years for this day and they made an immediate start by appointing Mr C R Channon, a Malton architect, to prepare plans for the erection of a chapel to accommodate one hundred and fifty people at a cost of between £250 and £300. By 3rd June the design was approved and tenders for the building of the chapel were invited. Twenty-two days later the tender of Mr Alfred Barnes was accepted. The figure quoted was £407.18 shillings which was much in excess of the sum they had accumulated to date. Nevertheless, they agreed unanimously to press on and started to arrange the stone laying ceremony for August, and to this end one hundred bills and two hundred and fifty circulars were printed. Both local newspapers reported the event on the day, one of them writing as follows:

Shortly after two o’clock visitors began to come by rail and road and by three o’ clock there was such a gathering as has seldom been seen in Settrington.

From the first day after Lord Middleton made the land available, to the stone laying ceremony, was only one hundred and twenty-three days. As is usually the case, the whole project cost much more than was expected and it was January 1907 before the debts were finally cleared.

Regrettably the chapel finally closed its doors in September 2011. Particular families in the village had given faithful support over a number of generations, but in more recent years, as they have passed-away, new members have not come forward to take their places. Although it is recognised that the decline in church attendance is not peculiar to village chapels and churches, it is probably more noticeable in the smaller populations and needs to be seen against the background of a similar decline in the sense of community in the village. Greater mobility enables people to involve themselves in interests and activities beyond the village limits. Even fifty years ago most residents lived and worked either locally or quite nearby, mainly in agriculture or other rural occupations.

[1] The first Henry Masterman owned Settrington at this time.

Settrington Parish Council

The first ever meeting of Settrington Parish Council took place on December 4th 1894 as a result of the Local Government Act of that year. The Act also created the rural district councils and transferred the civil duties of the Vestry to the newly created Parish Councils.
Vestries were not established by an act of Parliament: they were formed in answer to a real need and grew from the work of the local churchwardens. The first identified vestry dates from 1507; the number grew steadily throughout the sixteenth century and the services provided were initiated and controlled within the village (or parish). The first vestry responsibility removed from its control was the care of the poor, when parishes combined to form organisations such as the Malton Poor Law Union. The prevailing economic conditions deteriorated as the nineteenth century progressed and many parishes did not have, and could not raise, sufficient money to meet the needs of the poor of the parish. Other responsibilities for which the vestry was eventually regarded as an inadequate provider followed the same path e.g. Highways Boards, Local Boards of Health, Burial Boards, etc. Hence the vestries lost a lot of their previous endowments, and so their sphere of influence and provision was considerably diminished. Inevitably the question which arose was “Is there sufficient vestry work left to transfer to the newly elected parish councils to make them worthwhile?”. Gladstone and the Liberals thought there was, but their political opponents were not so enthusiastic and favoured transferring the responsibilities to District Councils. The consequences of this latter move, if approved, would be the exclusion of the working farm labourers from involvement as they would not be able to make the journey; especially as the Tories were proposing that such councils should meet in the afternoons, which further confounded the ambitions of the labourer, who would be at work at that time.

Gladstone, however, had more in mind than merely the work of the proposed parish councils and, perhaps, it would be useful to of hear his real aims in his own words in one of his parliamentary speeches of 1889: ‘We should go still nearer to the door of the masses of the people, to avail ourselves of the old parochial divisions of the county and to carry home to the mind of the peasants and the agricultural labourers the principles and the obligations and to secure to them the benefits of local government’.
Gladstone saw all this as a means of educating the ordinary village resident. He wanted them to be involved in the democratic processes of elections to parish councils, and/or perhaps the opportunity of being an elected member; thus experiencing the decision making processes and having the legitimate means to influence policies.

The Liberal politicians were pleased to welcome a very useful ally in this work as considerable help came from the National Agricultural Labourers’ Union. Their main aim was to increase the wages of their poorly paid members, but education in the democratic processes as described by Gladstone was also of great importance, particularly as they were pressing for the same voting rights recently given to town dwellers. This ambition was achieved in December 1884, so they were able to participate in the general election of 1885, when their union leader, Joseph Arch, was elected as the Liberal M.P. for North-West Norfolk.

At this point it is useful to consider what happened in Settrington on December 4th 1894, when parishioners met for the first time in order to elect nine parish councillors. The meeting was held in the schoolroom. Eighteen parishioners are named as present, while thirty-three are described as “parochial electors of the parish”; making a total of fifty-one persons in attendance, all men. There were twenty-five nominations for the nine seats available. The numbers in the various groups were:

Farmers 13
Farm workers 6
Tradesmen (draper, joiner, shoemaker, miller, butcher) 5
Schoolmaster 1

Parishioners present were given the opportunity to question the candidates, after which the latter were given the opportunity to withdraw their candidature; seven candidates withdrew. The names of the eighteen remaining candidates were placed into alphabetical order and those present invited to vote for each candidate in turn by a show of hands. Nine were elected with the number of votes for a particular candidate ranging from fifty to three. None of the five tradesmen was elected. The farmers held five seats and the farm workers four, and so it is likely that the Liberal Party and the agricultural union would have been reasonably pleased. The nine elected councillors held office until March 1896 when the second election took place. This time there were eleven nominations divided into the following groups:

Farmers 8
Gardener 1
Schoolmaster 1
Joiner 1

The farm workers are not there. The same procedure was followed; this time there were six withdrawals. The chairman invited nominations from the floor and this resulted in four more candidates, a farmer, a butcher, a tailor and a person described as ‘a gentleman’. Following the correct procedure, the chairman then again arranged for questions to be asked of the candidates. He then gave the second opportunity for withdrawal; this time three withdrew, leaving seven candidates, two short of the nine required. These were elected and eventually at the next meeting two of the previous year’s councillors, who had not stood in 1896, were chosen to fill the vacancies.

This description of the second meeting called to elect the members of the council indicates that the venture is not going at all well. The ordinary meeting when called had very little to discuss. Quite often the agenda had only one or two items e.g. election of the Overseers* of the Poor and/or approval of the clerk’s expenses. (* Overseers of the Poor were elected until the nineteen twenties; financial help came from the central source.) A meeting was arranged for July 29th 1897 but the only person present was the chairman and so the minute reads: ‘Being no other member present the meeting was adjourned’. This happened twice in succession, on July 28th 1898 and December 15th 1898.
In one of the early meetings it was agreed unanimously that the public should not be allowed to be present. With the turn of the century the situation began to improve, particularly when a matter of considerable importance commanded the council’s attention, namely the village’s water supply. (Given the presence of three preserved communal tap structures in the village, this subject perhaps merits research.)
Settrington Parish Council continues to meet bi-monthly; the date, time and agenda are posted on the parish noticeboard found near the school and on the Settrington Village website.

Agriculture in the Twentieth Century

Walter Smith is a name older residents still remember well, although he was usually known not as Walter but as ‘Tot’. Apart from being away from the village on farm placings in his early working life, his home remained Settrington throughout his eighty-eight years. He was born in a house on the east side of the beck and his only move was to a house almost opposite, on the west side, when he married.

A number of years ago, the writer and he had a long conversation about harvest time when he was a boy in the 1920s. Fortunately, we recorded the conversation, and so the story of harvest can be recounted here in Tot’s own words:

“When I was a lad at school in Settrington September, the harvest month in those days, was something I looked forward to with excitement. Loading sheaves from the field would start about midday when the dew had gone. We would run up to Rectory Farm to get a ride on the wagons going to the fields; there were no health and safety measures to bother us then. Coming back when the wagon was loaded we had to run behind, but the reward was the ride back again. When we were older, we were able to ride and guide the horses.

My first farm placing was at a farm in the village, Kirk Hill, when I was fourteen. It was then I had to start to learn all the skills a farmworker required during those years, but which nowadays are no longer needed. The corn was cut with a reaper or binder. Tractors were beginning to appear, but it was horses in the main. There would be one man on the reaper, one guiding the horses and two or three of us stoking. We gathered ten sheaves for a stook, setting it up at the right angle so that the wind could not blow it down. There they were left, possibly for a fortnight, to dry in the sun and the wind. This was a worrying time, and in bad years I have known stooks still standing in the fields at Martinmas in November. No wonder we sang heartily at the harvest festival when “all was safely gathered in.”

When the master thought the stooks were dry then they had to be led back to the farm. Loading the wagons to ensure a good load which would not move or slip was another skilled job. The loader would have the sheaves passed up to him and he had to build a shape something similar to that of a ship. When I was sixteen, I loaded throughout harvest without one sheaf coming off from beginning to end; the farmer was so pleased he gave me a two shilling piece – that was very precious in those days. Once, when I was at Low Mowthorpe, I managed to get over seven hundred sheaves on one wagon, and not one came off.

Back at the farm, a stack had to be made, which again was a skilful and very important job. Smaller farms would have smaller stacks called pikes, while bigger farms would have larger stacks, sometimes gable-ended, and sometimes oval shaped, the length being twice the width. The rain had to be kept out, and so thatching was necessary – using good long wheat or rye straw, stack prods and Massey band.

Finally the corn had to be threshed, and threshing days had everybody busy again with several different jobs to be done. Bigger farms had their own steam-driven threshing machines, while smaller farms used the travelling ones. Yates of Malton had four, which moved around the district.

Once a farmer where I was hired did not tell us he had arranged a threshing day until breakfast time and so I had to move pretty quickly as I had some extra linseed cake hidden away in the stack. We used to take it from the farmer’s store so that our own horses* had a bit extra. We wanted them to work harder and look well.

Once steam was up everybody had a job to do. Sheaves had to be loaded on to the drum, straw had to be stacked and others had to carry bags of corn. Oats had twelve stones to the bag, barley had sixteen, while wheat had eighteen stones to the bag. We used a winding-up barrow to get them on our shoulders and then up the granary steps we went; the secret was, of course, proper balance.”. (* The farmer’s horses, cared-for individually by the horselads.)

Today when the crop is ripe and sufficiently dry the combine can move into the field. At the appropriate time a tractor and trailer can run alongside and receive the threshed corn for transport back to the farm store. If wet it can be put in the farm drier.

Tot talks of a ‘farm placing’, his first, in Settrington itself. It is likely that this would have been arranged locally by his parents. At this time he would have described himself as a ‘horselad’ who would be living-in at the farm. This was essential because the care of the horses started very early in the morning as the animal’s feed needed to be completed before it started work in the fields. There would also be plenty of work later in the day in grooming, feeding, known as fothering, and bedding-down. There was an established hierarchy among the farmworkers who spent their time with the horses. The senior man was the Waggoner, followed by the third man (thoddy), the fowaty, fiver etc. etc. Thoddy followed the Waggoner as the Foreman of the farm was superior to the waggoner. Hence the order would be Foreman, Waggoner, Thoddy etc. The young lads who worked with them were known as wag lad, thoddy lad, etc. On the big farms the lad who was youngest or latest to arrive was known as the ‘least lad’; he usually did not have the easiest of times being expected to work with the poorest equipment and, perhaps, inferior horses. When the horses left the farm for the fields they were led by the Waggoner with the others in strict order of seniority after him e.g. thoddy next, followed by fowalty etc. When they were all ploughing in the same field this hierarchy was strictly maintained.

Tot obviously had ambitions to be a Waggoner and so he would need to move on from Kirk Hill farm, following the accepted route of making himself available at a Martinmas hiring fair. This is likely to have been in Malton, or perhaps Driffield. Here, master and a prospective employee struck a bargain for the payment for a year’s work which would be sealed by ‘fast money’. Before agreeing to join a farmer, enquiries would most likely be made from previous employees and others about the quality of the food available at the farm. It was important to try to find a good ‘meat house’. Research by Seebohm Rowntree at this time revealed that East Riding farmworkers living in were the best nourished among the working men of the time.

In 1988, the writer invited four former waggoners to record their working experiences for BBC Radio Humberside. The edited version was eventually even broadcast on BBC Radio 4. While recognising it had not been easy working in the waggoners’ hierarchy, all four agreed that, given their time over again, they would do the same.

It should be noted, however, that they started their working lives in the mid-to-late 1920s when conditions were beginning to improve. Radio and the cinema were giving the ‘horselads’ wider perspectives and, with the average bicycle being offered at a reasonable price, they had far more mobility which reduced their social isolation. The First World War had led to the requisitioning of many farm horses, and, in turn, the workers had joined the forces. There they met people from different backgrounds and gained some understanding of the life of other workers; as a result, farmers had to be less demanding.

The hiring fairs and the yearly contracts and payments were coming to the end of their time. Lads wanted money in their pockets more regularly. Bargaining with an employer was not now the norm as wages boards were established to fix minimum rates. In the difficult times between the two world wars, the minimum rates became the norm. It was these difficult times that held back the purchase of tractors. Horses could be bred on the farm and farm produce could feed them. With the coming of the second world war, the country required farmers to produce as much food as possible. Farming returned to more prosperous times and tractors, now more affordable, came into their own. Stephen Cannci in his book “Amongst Farm Horses: The Horselads of East Yorkshire” suggests that in 1950 only 289,000 horses remained (nationally) and that five years later that number had halved to 134,000. The use of the tractor on farms really took-off when the hydraulic linkage which allowed implements to be controlled from the driving seat was really understood and appreciated. As the years passed the tractor became supreme and gradually working horses ceased to be kept. It was the passing of a whole way of life experienced by the lads and men who worked with them and one of the major changes in twentieth century agriculture.

Agriculture: The Future

The four former waggoners who took part in the broadcast recorded in Settrington in 1988 have now all died. Although their passing has been comparatively recent, they would be astonished to see the developments in agriculture that have taken place in more recent years. As lads on farms in their teenage years it is quite likely that on Sundays they would walk around the area looking at the field work on neighbouring farms, sometimes admiring and, perhaps, sometimes criticising. The straightness of the furrows earned their admiration. What would they have to say about the immaculate furrows created by the modern tractor controlled by satellite or, on seeing two tractors working in a field but only one of them with a driver, the second tractor being controlled from the first? They would similarly be more than surprised by the information provided by the onboard computer on the combine as it provided ongoing information about yields in different parts of the large fields such machinery requires. It is a far cry from the days when the horsemen controlled the horse by recognised words of command. These words were very often local and could cause problems for a horse moved to another area on being sold.

Both science and technology play an increasingly important part in all aspects of modern agriculture. There has been a revolution in the availability and use of agrochemicals. It is common practice for the twentieth century farmer to seek the guidance of the agronomist who will provide advice and guidance, thus enabling him to benefit from the latest developments in the science of the cultivation of land, soil management and crop production. The result has been a massive increase in yields which have in comparatively recent years doubled, and then doubled again.

Similar progress has been made in animal husbandry with selective breeding and a genuine scientific approach to the feeding of stock.

The Rectory Farm field which Tot Smith spoke about from his memories of the 1920s had at least five or six men working on it. Nowadays, with modern technology and machinery, one man is expected to be able to care for a thousand acres of productive land.

Settrington and the First World War

How did the Great War (of course, it was not known as the First World War until after the Second) from 1914 through 1918 affect life in the village of Settrington and in many similar village communities during those years?

The first move the Government made was an Act of Parliament which seriously reduced the liberty of the individual: the act became known as DORA – the Defence of the Realm Act. Matters which were now forbidden ranged from talking in public about military matters to buying binoculars. Several members of the Cabinet were reduced to tears when war was declared. The Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, made the much-reported comment “The lights are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

In a matter of days the British expeditionary Force was sent to France where it gave assistance to the French in stopping the Germans’ rapid advance at the River Marne. The Kaiser’s army was eventually pushed back a little, and then the western Front was established, stretching from the Belgian coast to the Swiss frontier. Trenches were dug and both armies settled down to three years of trench warfare.
Many Settrington and Scagglethorpe men would experience life in the trenches. The quality of the trench construction varied as ground conditions changed from area to area. Some trenches were comfortable (a milking cow in the trench system was not unknown), while others were decidedly uncomfortable. The men often stood in water which varied considerably in depth: this gave rise to the common condition known as trench feet. Rats were abundant. Lice in clothes and on the person were a constant irritation. Sanitation was not easy and one had always to be aware of the German snipers. Shelling was continuous, and so the area became a wasteland.

The space between the two trenches (the allies’ and the enemy’s) was called “No Man’s Land” and it varied considerably in width. Some trenches were so close the enemy’s voices could be heard, while others were wide enough to encourage nightly patrols or perhaps aggressive raids.

The story of the Christmas truce in 1914 is well known. The men clearly welcomed it; their superiors did not! What does not seem so well known was the policy of “live and let live”, which groups from both sides followed quite conscientiously. For example, in certain sections of the lengthy Western Front, it was recognised and practised that if a British patrol in No Man’s Land saw a German patrol, they would turn away, not engaging in combat; in other sections it was ignored and positively forbidden. It is a principle which reasserts one’s faith in human nature, and a topic which would have created a great deal of interest in folk at home when the men were on leave.

Soon after the declaration of war in 1914, the Government announced it needed a million volunteers to offer themselves for military service. Conscription did not come in until much later. This led to certain ladies giving reluctant men a white feather, and prompted the well-known song “We don’t want to lose you, but we think you ought to go” and the famous Kitchener poster “YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU.”

The war came close to Settrington on 16th December 1914 when four German warships shelled the town of Scarborough from 8 a.m., causing the deaths of nineteen people and damaging a number of well-known buildings, including the Lighthouse, St. Martin’s Church, Gladstone Road School and the Grand Hotel. Two children arrived at Gladstone R  oad School about 8.00 a.m. and, as it was so early, they were the only pupils present. If the shelling had taken place half an hour later, the casualty list could have been quite excessive; as it was, the two children were unharmed.

The ships went on to shell Whitby and Hartlepool where, it seems, the damage was greater. This incident disgusted many people as they were horrified at the deaths of the civilians and resulted in an increase in recruitment. It is likely that Scarborough would have been known to Settrington folks as the rail link had been established for many years. Bombing by three zeppelins began in 1915 and increased in intensity as the war progressed, with planes eventually replacing the zeppelins. Hull and the East Riding also suffered quite a number of bombing raids.
Britain was dependent upon overseas suppliers for food and other vital necessities. The Kaiser, of course, knew this and built a much bigger navy in an attempt to blockade British ports. After he lost the battle of Jutland, he had to depend upon the U-Boats. These U-Boat attacks were very effective and the monthly loss of British ships often reached three figures. The navy was reluctant to provide convoy protection until the Government insisted that it should be done. This was successful on both counts, namely in the protection of our ships and the sinking of the U-Boats.

Nevertheless, food and other essentials continued to be scarce and prices increased by some 50%. Wages had not increased anywhere near that figure and so there was widespread discontent. There were times when the country’s food stocks were dangerously low; the government seemed ready to propose the amounts of various items which should be available to individuals on these occasions, but did not demonstrate the political will to enforce them with rationing. It wasn’t until 1918 that firm action was taken, by which time the war was almost over. (The people who lived through the later 1939-1945 conflict benefited from this learning experience, as then rationing was well organised and introduced quite early on!)

Returning to WW1, the nation quickly looked to rural Britain to supply greater quantities of food, and the nation was not disappointed. By the spring of 1918, four-fifths of the country’s food was home-grown, and four million extra acres were now under the plough. The landscape of rural Britain had, in many places, a different appearance. Assisting in this mammoth task were the women of the country who filled the job vacancies created by the enlistment of their menfolk. Many worked in factories, manufacturing weapons and other military requirements such as munitions. There were a number of explosions in the munition factories, often with quite high numbers of casualties.

Female activity in agriculture led, in 1916, to the establishment of the Women’s National Land Service Corps. Later it was known as the Women’s Land Army. They were offered training in most aspects of agricultural life and provided with a special form of attire, which included breeches instead of a skirt. There were those who thought that replacing the skirt with breeches had gone too far; fearing that the volunteers would forget that they were still ladies and should always act accordingly. Clearly Mrs. Grundy was about.

As the months passed, the number of casualties and the amount of damage done from bombing increased quite noticeably. While it was nowhere near the bomb damage experienced in WW2, it nevertheless caused much resentment and anger. It gave rise to an increase in anti-German attitudes, encouraging for instance the vandalising of all shops displaying foreign names. At that time, by proclamation, the royal family changed its name from the Germanic ‘Saxe-Coburg and Gotha’ to the quintessentially English the ‘House of Windsor’.

Another innovation, prompted by Germany’s lead, was the introduction of the Daylight Saving Bill (Which was temporarily changed during WW2 to changing the clocks by two hours in order to prolong the light evenings.)

Licensing hours for public houses date from this period. Landlords were also encouraged to water down their beer (presumably to reduce the use of scarce grain and to prevent the damage caused to production from hangovers), and legislation rendered the practice of buying drinks for companions illegal. Finally, on 6th February 1918, nine months before the end of the war, the Representation of the People Act received royal assent. It extended the vote to all men over 21 and women over 30. Since 1914, when menfolk started to go to war, the vacancies they left behind in workplaces, from munitions factories to farms, were often taken up by women, who proved themselves to be more than capable. How could they then be refused the vote? Winston Churchill said that their contribution to the war effort was beyond praise; he was, of course, quite correct.

The Wolds Waggoners’ Special Reserve

In Sledmere at the point where the Kirby Grindalythe road joins the road through the village there is a war memorial which must be unique. The inscription reads as follows:

‘Lieut Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, Bart., M.P. designed this monument and set it up as a remembrance of the gallant services rendered in the Great War 1914-1918 by the Waggoners’ Reserve, a corps of 1000 Drivers raised by him on the Yorkshire Wold Farms in the year 1912.’

The actual number is 1127 and each man is listed in the booklet written by Ian Summer, published by Sledmere Estate and obtainable there.

The central shaft of the monument shows twelve carvings in three tiers, which graphically tell the story of these men.

Sir Mark Sykes anticipated the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-1918 and realised that the army would have a logistical problem, as it would not have sufficient trained men to man the horse-drawn pole wagons (where the horses were not in shafts, but on either side of a pole) it would need. Apparently it took six months to train a driver of a pole wagon. East Riding ‘horselads’ had been brought up with such wagons and Sir Mark correctly claimed that their services in the early weeks and months of the war would be invaluable. He enlisted 1127 men and, despite the fact that in August 1914 harvest was just beginning, within a fortnight the enlisted waggoners found themselves in France, dispersed among various units. Thirty-four of them did not return to their native Yorkshire.

The following story was told to the writer by a former Wolds Waggoner who spoke the East Riding dialect he had learned in childhood:
Apparently, before the outbreak of the Second World War, Hitler’s foreign minister, Ribbentrop, visited Sledmere and was shown the monument. He objected most strongly to the way the Germans were portrayed, rampaging through Belgium with callous, fierce facial expressions. He demanded that this panel be removed instantly.
My informant commented: “But neeabody took neea notice.”
(The ungrammatical use of the double negative is almost poetic! Does it provide a hint of the way the nation dealt with all the troubles which lay in store from September 1939? )

Finally, listed below are the names of waggoners who were born in Settrington. There would be others who were most likely hired men on Settrington farms but these are not easily identified.

104      Isaac Walter Clarkson             Age 22
260      Herbert William Young            Age 20
537      William Talbot                         Age 18
827      John William Grey                  Age 31
832      Herbert Clarkson                    Age 20
848      Thomas Arthur Fisher             Age 24
859      Thomas Stilborn                      Age 19
1112    William Crosby                        Age 18 They all returned safely

Trench Warfare

The trench was introduced into modern warfare when the French army, assisted by the British Expeditionary force, stopped the rapid advance of the Kaiser’s men in 1914 and pushed them back a little, thus establishing the Western front which stretched from the English Channel in Belgium to the Swiss frontier. The British sector was partly in Belgium with the extension in northern France. This was the beginning of three years of trench warfare consisting of:
1. Patrols in no man’s land to investigate enemy strength and activity,
2. Raids on enemy trenches involving close fighting and the taking of prisoners for interrogation,
3. Using the trenches as the launching point for major battles from time to time, such as the Somme or Passchendale.
These battles achieved little and were extremely costly in terms of lives lost and men wounded, often seriously. If territory was taken it was quite small in area and certainly not worth the lives and wounds of so many men. The first day of the Battle of the Somme resulted in 57,000 casualties, with 20,000 of those killed. (This compares most unfavourably with D-Day when the British Second Army’s killed and wounded was in the region of 4,000. One would have thought that the latter was potentially more dangerous, wading in water with the enemy firing from an advantageous position.) When Settrington men returned home on leave they would have a lot of explaining to do if they met old soldiers from earlier years, for whom the trench would be a strange innovation. It would have to be deep enough to totally conceal a soldier from the ever-watchful eye of the German sniper. To return fire they would have to stand on the firestep, and possibly use a periscope to focus on the target; a clever device enabled the trigger and the periscope to combine. The men of course often forgot about the need to be out of the view of the snipers, and so there were quite a number of head injuries. This caused the French, quickly followed by the British, to introduce the steel helmet.
A trench system usually consisted of three parallel trenches. The front line trench was protected by rolls of barbed wire. The two to the rear of the front line trench were support trenches, with all three connected by communication trenches dug at right angles in order to connect all three. The trenches were constructed in a zig-zag fashion which was useful for the defensive capability it provided if the enemy managed to gain access. It also provided strength against the persistent artillery fire which transformed the countryside into a sea of mud and/or desolate waste land with not a tree undamaged. The men lived in dug-outs. The sparse comfort offered was not helped by the large number of rats who shared the “accommodation” with them. The lice on men and uniform alike added to their discomfort, which was rendered almost unbearable when rain flooded the whole system. It left many of them with a condition known as “trench foot”, which persisted long after the war had ended.
Obviously training would be necessary before a unit began duty in a Flanders trench. In 2013/14 a large practice battlefield, the size of seventeen football pitches, was discovered on heathland in Hampshire. There is evidence of the existence of two opposing trench systems, with the requisite area of no man’s land in between. This discovery was part of the start of a venture called “Home Front Legacy”, whereby English Heritage and the Council for British Archaeology were working together to discover and preserve remains of the 1914-18 which were built on home soil.
A significant number of Settrington men must have occupied the trenches, but just how many will be difficult to discover. It will also be difficult to estimate how many men from the ecclesiastical parish (Settrington and Scagglethorpe) did serve in France. There are nine names for 1914-18 on the parish war memorial; so, if one in twelve men who served were killed, this would suggest about one hundred men from the ecclesiastical parish, population just 700, were involved actively in the war. (Perhaps the implicit questions, ‘Who were they and what were their professions before the war?’ merit research.)

Dunkirk and After

At the time of Dunkirk the writer was twelve years old, and so the events of this time and the reactions of the local people are clearly remembered.
A man who lived close-by was a member of the British Expeditionary Force which had been in France for a number of months. Had he managed to get to Dunkirk? If so, would he be fortunate enough to be rescued from the beaches? Naturally, his young wife was very anxious and we neighbours did our best to lend support. In the event, he got home safely.
This mutual support and the sense of pulling together reflected the spirit of the times. There was never any shortage of volunteers for the many responsible roles that required them. For example, the various aspects of civil defence, ranging from air raid wardens to voluntary fire-fighters, or the ladies of the newly formed WVS – who always seemed to be about when a cup of tea was needed. Older folk worked hard encouraging the purchase of National Savings by selling saving stamps and savings certificates from door to door to help in the financing of the war effort. Probably the organisation best remembered, by virtue of its portrayal in the BBC TV comedy series “Dad’s Army”, is the Home Guard, which started life as the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers). It mustered after a radio appeal from Anthony Eden in May 1940, when the national situation was beginning to look bleak.
In the film which told the story of the famous, but fictional, platoon recruited at Walmington-on Sea, when the self-appointed commanding officer had found a room in which to formally recruit, he was knocked-over in the stampede to sign on. This was true to the spirit of the time as there were 750,000 volunteers almost immediately after the appeal was broadcast, many of whom had served in 1914-1918; that figure became a million fairly quickly. It seems that Hitler had hoped to follow his success on the continent with an invasion of Britain, as many suitable European ports were filling up with invasion barges. Although the south-east coast was considered the most likely choice for a German landing, the East Riding coast was not ruled-out as a possibility. If it had been chosen, Settrington could have been involved in the early stages. It will be recalled that a great deal of the nation’s military equipment had been abandoned in France, and hence the provision of kit for regular soldiers was a priority; this meant that in the early days the LDV had to improvise. (Whilst the members of the Settrington platoon of the Home Guard have by now passed-on, perhaps their relatives’ memories of their stories of the time merit collection.)
There is one very important part of their work which, thanks to research by Alan Williamson, publicised in his book “East Riding’s Secret Resistances”, we do know about:
A small group of six to eight men from each village platoon were selected for special duty. They had to know the area well as, if a German invasion had been successful, there would be opportunities to work in ways similar to the French Resistance. Sabotage, collecting useful information and, perhaps, even guerrilla warfare were all possibilities; those chosen for these special duties were committed to, and sworn to, secrecy. If Settrington’s experience is typical, this commitment was carried out to the letter. At the time of writing, one of Settrington’s group of seven has two nieces still living in the village; it was a close family, but neither of them knew of their uncle’s participation until they saw Alan Williamson’s book.
The group was known as the Settrington Patrol and the members were:
Sgt. William S. Eggleton Gamekeeper born 16.06.1902
Cpt. Harold Hugill Market Gardener born 04.01.1902
Pte. Ronald G.Walden Farm labourer born 13.01.1908
Pte. John Scott Gamekeeper born 14.01.1907
Pte. Samuel J. Wardell Farmer born 17.03.1919 Pte.
James Sleightholm Shepherd born 11.11.1907
Each patrol had an operational base, preferably underground. The bases were well equipped with all their requirements e.g. food, fuel, weapons, timing-devices and detonators and ammunition. The site of Settrington’s operational base was Nine Springs Dale, part of Mr John Harrison and his daughter Ruth Russell’s farm, known as Duggleby High Barn. Some of the early operational bases would be primitive, but later in the war the Royal Engineers took a hand, often working to a standard design.

Britain Stands Alone

Through 1940 and 1941 life in Britain was hard and, inevitably, rationing became a more prominent feature of everyday life, with sugar, bacon, margarine and tea being included in the first list of rationed foodstuffs.
Lord Woolton was charged with the task of ensuring that the nation had enough to eat. In the years before the war he had been responsible for department stores, and he had also known the slums in Liverpool where he saw many poor children suffering from malnutrition. His aim was to encourage people to eat as healthy a diet as possible and, in order to encourage this, people were invited to a number of free film shows; the film extolling the virtues of ‘dripping’ stays firmly in the writer’s mind. Lord Woolton was certainly successful in encouraging people to think about healthy food and the country owes him a great deal. Having lived through these years, the writer cannot remember an occasion when he experienced hunger; but overweight children were not seen very often! The approach to rationing and general fairness was prompt and efficient, and in marked contrast to what happened in 1914-18.
After the fall of France, its Atlantic ports became available to the German U-boat fleet which was expanding rapidly, increasing the danger to the Atlantic convoys. Before the war it was customary to transport 55 million tons of food and other necessities across the Atlantic every year; this was now reduced by a half, causing the list of rationed foods to be extended. It is said that Churchill found that the Battle of the Atlantic, which cost the lives of 40,000 merchant seamen, was his biggest worry. Certainly, had the U-boats gained the upper hand it is doubtful whether Britain would have been able to continue the war. Clearly, the shortfall in food supplies had to be made good, and “Dig for Victory” posters appeared everywhere. In urban Britain, lawns became vegetable plots, while former parks, playing fields and verges also played their part. Hutches for rabbits and runs for chickens appeared in many suburban gardens. Obviously, Settrington folks had a clear advantage with their spacious gardens and the expertise normally found among country folk. Raising a pig for home slaughter and use was a common practice; although it was closely watched during wartime. The minutes of the 1939 annual meeting of the Settrington Cow Club (which helped members pay vet’s fees from their annual membership contributions) confirm that it was certainly still in existence then.
Food was not the only commodity in short supply, and the range of restrictions which folk had to observe was extensive:
Petrol for the private motorist was almost unobtainable.
Textiles were scarce, and the choice was very limited. Also, the manner in which they were used in the tailoring of clothes denied personal preferences: Turn-ups on gentlemen’s trousers were barred and the number of button holes restricted; shirt tails were shorter and did not tuck into trousers at all well; ladies skirts were shorter and lace on underwear was forbidden.
Furniture design was made simpler and it bore the mark CC41, which designated it as a UTILITY product. This utility designation was extended to many of the household goods in regular use.
The enforcement of these restrictions was rigorous, and many folk suggested it all had a resemblance to the actions of a totalitarian state.

Settrington School’s Evacuees

As the 1914-18 Great War progressed, German bombing became more destructive, with the resultant increase in those wounded and killed. The Italian Campaign in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and the Spanish Civil War, in the 1930s, provided further evidence of the destructiveness of the bomber. Politicians noticed this and possibly slightly exaggerated the potential dangers of attacks from the air. Hence Baldwin’s remark that the bomber will always get through, and his claim that after a bombing raid on a city there would be 150,000 casualties. Certainly from the late nineteen thirties there was steady progress in the task of promoting civil defence. A leaflet was made available explaining the various tasks which people could become involved in on a voluntary basis; some two million people made a positive response to this. 

When Parliament met on 5th April 1939 the Minister of Health informed the House that, in the event of war, plans were being prepared for the evacuation of two and a half million children from the major cities and towns into the countryside or smaller market towns. He described it as a “colossal task” and went on to explain that the administration of the plan would be centred on the schools.

The first and immediate task was to ask the parents if they wished their children to be part of the plan; about fifty per cent said they did wish to participate. By 24th August 1939 it was beginning to become clear to many that war was inevitable, and so the decision was made to begin implementing the evacuation. A radio broadcast on this date required that teachers should return to their schools immediately, in order that a start could be made on making the necessary arrangements.

Settrington School re-opened after the summer holiday on 1st September, but Mr. Winstanley received a message from County Hall telling him to close the school immediately for ten days, so that preparations could be made for the arrival of about forty evacuees from Hull. In addition there was a child from Sunderland and one from Middlesbrough. The Hull children attended Osborne Street School. The school was not far from Albert Dock and therefore in a somewhat vulnerable situation with an attraction for an attacking bomber force. Teachers from the school came with the pupils and three stayed to work alongside Settrington’s staff (albeit one was soon transferred to Langton).

The number on roll was now back to the level it was at the beginning of the century, namely about 120. Many evacuees nationwide still claim that the evacuation damaged their educational opportunities. This may well be as some (perhaps many) children, because of local circumstances, could only be offered half-time schooling. However, this was not the case at Settrington, and it is pleasing to note that all four classes were a mixture of both Settrington and Osborne Street children.

The infants and Standard 1 (it is unusual to see the term ‘Standard’ used) occupied the infant classroom with Miss L M Hugil.
The other three classes were all in the main classroom; there was still no moveable partition, and so screens were introduced to separate the three groups.
The teachers were: 
Mr Winstanley, Class 1 (age 12+)
Mr. Trevor Jones (Hull) Class 11 (age 10 & 11)
Miss Horsfield (Settrington) Class 111 (age 8&9)

The threat and expectation of severe and widespread air attacks from the German Luftwaffe did not materialise, and this period has since been known as the “phoney war”. It prompted the return home of thousands of evacuees. Settrington was no exception: On 3rd October, twenty-two days into the term, one girl returned to Hull; before the end of November eight more children had been collected by their parents; two more left in December ,and so the total number of evacuees was now well below thirty. Transport between Hull and Settrington was not too difficult, with the train service between Hull and Driffield, and the ‘Malton Dodger’ operating between Driffield and Malton.

However, the situation changed rapidly and dramatically when the Panzer Divisions started to move into Belgium and then France, leading to the Dunkirk evacuation. Britain was now alone and the Luftwaffe’s main target by both day and night. The first bomber raid on Hull occurred on Wednesday 17th June 1940; followed by 81 others before the war ended. In the city 1,200 people were killed with 3,000 injured. After London, Hull was the most bombed city in Britain. Many parents now realised that bringing their children back to the city had been a mistake, and gradually they returned. The number of evacuees on roll in early July 1940 was just over 40.

Another indication that Hull children were being offered an education closely resembling that on offer in Osborne Street is the arrangements which were made for them to sit the examinations which would qualify them for selected schools in their own city. As the crowded school would certainly not have been suitable, these tests usually took place in the school house; it is pleasing to note that there was a very satisfactory success rate.

There must be a range of stories about the way these city children settled in the three villages, which could well merit collection. One well-known one concerned a particular apple tree in Scagglethorpe, from which the owner was quite happy for children to pick apples. The Scagglethorpe lads encouraged the evacuees to indulge themselves, knowing full well that the fruit had a really strong laxative quality! One Osborne Street girl was billeted in North Grimston and when she reached school leaving age she stayed to work for her hostess. She never returned to Hull, subsequently married a local farmer and lived happily for many years in Wharram.


Thomas Wardell

This is a transcript of a conversation between Thomas Wardell (W) and the local estate agent (L, a relative of the landlord, Mr. Willoughby) from 1837, which probably took place at the former’s butcher’s shop. Mr Willoughby was an important customer, probably the most valuable one, as many of the poorer people would have found meat difficult to afford (there is a reference to one minor tradesman’s family only being able to buy a bullock’s cheek, and that infrequently).

Thomas Wardell begins:

An involuntary religion is a non-entity. The following outline of a debate which took place between the writer and a gentleman who was residing in Settrington, being nearly allied in marriage to my worthy landlord, may here be inspected. He was a man of active habits and of a kind disposition; but turbulent and overbearing, and a stickler for the Church. The contest was committed to paper immediately after it transpired, and contains the substance of what was said. I shall only give the initials of our names for it is unnecessary to mention his.

As the gentleman was one day passing my shop, he halted with the following salute:

L          Well, Wardell, I am not satisfied about these meetings. I intend to have an alteration.
W         Indeed, Sir
L          I suppose you are at the head of them.
W         I think I am, Sir.
L          Well, but you never come to the Church.
W         No, Sir, I never was worthy of being called a churchman.
L          But why don’t you come?
W         Because I don’t see it to be my duty.
L          It is your duty.
W         Convince me of that, Sir, and I shall not be long absent.
L          It is the proper place for worship, and it is required of you in the New Testament.
W         O, No, Sir, nothing of the kind.
L          Well, I will not contend with you, but I shall expect you to go.
W         Yes, Sir, when I am convinced that it is my duty.
L          It is your duty, and if you don’t go you shall lose your situation.
W         Very well, Sir; I have always done my duty as a tenant to Mr. W. and have made more improvement in my place than any one, and when he does not think me any longer worthy of being a tenant, I’ll seek another situation.
L          Well, you certainly keep all very nice. I have frequently said how tidy you kept everything, and Mr. W. has said to me, you should get the cottagers to imitate Mr. W. But you must come to Church.
W         Yes, Sir, when I see that I ought to do so.
L          I tell you it is your duty, and you ought to go for example sake.
W         If the people would follow my example, the village would soon be in a better state than it is in. I am on good terms with all; and have not had two words of unpleasantness with anyone these twenty years.
L          I have never heard you spoken of but with respect; but you ought to go to Church. I have no notion of people being so respectfully situated, and not having so many comforts, and will not still comply with the wishes of their landlord.
W         I have comforts, Sir, but I pay for them; I do not sit under a very easy rent.
L          I dare say you pay your rent; but you are supported on the estate, and you are under obligations.
W         Mr. W has always been very kind to me; but it has been my own industry that has supported me. In worldly matters, Sir, I am your servant; but in religion I must think and act for myself, for it is to God that I am accountable. Religion is an affair of the heart and conscience. I shall never go to another church or chapel to please any man. It is my birthright to worship God according to the persuasion of my own mind. No gentleman has any rightful authority over my conscience. For twenty-five years I have attended to religious matters. I have read more than three hundred volumes, principally on divinity, and I think I know what religion is.
L          Well, I have had as good an education as any man; but I have been brought up to the church, and have been used to people attending it. Lord F. and other gentlemen that I know require their tenants to attend, and I shall expect it.
W         If you can persuade the people to go, there can be nothing said against it; but if you say they must and shall go, it is wrong – it is religious intolerance. The object of a national Establishment is to supply the deficiencies of a voluntary provision; and not to compel all to conform to it. The dissenters must think very poorly of the Church, when you have to force people to attend it.
L          Well, if you be a dissenter, you may get away; you shall lose your place.
W         I quite approve of the improvements you have made in the village, but when you begin To interfere with religion you go too far.
L          I  don’t interfere.
W         Yes, Sir, by opposing our meetings.
L          Well, I have no idea of people setting up in opposition to the church.
W         We don’t oppose the church, Sir.
L          You do, by holding meetings in church hours.
W         We carefully avoid that, Sir.
L          Then what was that you had about three weeks ago?
W         I beg your pardon, Sir. It was the fault of my memory. We had a lovefeast.L          Now you tell me a lie to my face, saying you don’t oppose the church, and then acknowledging you have held meetings in church hours.
W         It is only once a year.
L          I don’t care if it is only once in seven years, you shall never have another. The first person that takes anything of the kind into his barn shall lose his place.
W         Well, Sir, we will not contend about that.
L          Mr. W. does not like it, and I am determined to put a stop to it; and I shall expect you and all the tenants to go to the church.
W         Yes, Sir, when I see it to be my duty.
L          Well, Dr.(!) Wesley was a good churchman, and if you think you have got good among the Wesleyans, you ought to follow his example.
W         I follow no man any farther than I think he follows Christ and the New Testament. Mr. Wesley did advise his people, as a general rule, to go to the church; but on this subject he could not in all cases, satisfy either himself or those in connexion with him.
L          I understand the doctrines of the Wesleyans are much the same as those of the Church.
W         I  cannot see that they are materially different.
L          Then what objection can you have to the Church?
W         It is unnecessary for me to say.
L          Well, I only want things to go on pleasantly.
W         They will, Sir, if you will let them.
L          I have nothing in view but the general welfare of the village.
W         I thank you for your kind intentions, and I hope nothing that has been said will cause any unpleasant feeling, but I must think and act for myself.

After some other remarks by each of us he said, “The Wesleyans are the only dissenters that I tolerate (!) and, if it were convenient, I am sure I should not object to hear a Wesleyan Minister myself.”

During the altercation, I had in one respect the advantage of my opponent. He was at times greatly excited; but I remained through the whole perfectly calm. We both, however, spoke as if we thought ourselves of some importance – he, as if he were the proprietor of the estate – I, as if I was censure proof. We parted in a friendly manner, and I think neither of us indulged any feeling of resentment. Nay, it appears it was only a quarrel for better acquaintance, and an increase of friendship; for when a little while after, I was out of health, he kindly offered to take me to York in his carriage to obtain medical advice. This kindness, however, made no alteration in my religious views and tendencies.