Whilst it was common practice in by-gone centuries for those who built the castles, palaces and stately homes of this country to keep detailed records of their properties and the circumstances through which, from time to time, they changed hands, most certainly it was less common to find this applying to homes of lesser importance. Therefore it was a real pleasure for me to have the opportunity to examine a number of documents relating to Marlfield Farm, Earby, in particular but also to the neighbouring farms of Windlefield and Fiddling Clough along with the now non-existent dwellings of Birch Hall and the adjacent cottages. The earliest of the documents examined was 1709 but references are to be found which takes one back to the period of the English Civil War in the mid-17th Century. It is believed that Marlfield itself originated in Elizabethan times although there is no documentary evidence of this. Certainly, it is known that it was rebuilt to a large degree during the 18th Century as were, probably, some of the other properties to which reference is made.
The legalistic wording of many of the documents coupled with the script of the day, often made the deciphering somewhat difficult and it was only after coming back to the papers time after time that a picture of events began to emerge. Therefore I apologise in advance for any errors made through a wrong interpretation of any part of a document. I have used a little historical licence in order to present a picture, not only of Marlfield itself, but of the whole family community whose lives revolved around these farms and dwellings which are to be found immediately to the north-east of present day Earby which, up to 1974, was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire but is now in the administrative county of Lancashire. Marlfield is still in Yorkshire (North), being in the Parish of Thornton-in-Craven. For any who might wish to see the dwellings for themselves, the approach is via Red Lion Street and Mill Brow until one comes to Brigstones, a spot where a number of tracks diverge. Windlefield lies straight ahead but the other properties or their sites are to be found by bearing left. At the time that this research was undertaken, Fiddling Clough was unoccupied and derelict.
The account that follows is one of fluctuating fortunes due largely to circumstances outside the immediate sphere of influence of the Parish of Thornton-in-Craven, coupled with the gradual change in economic and social patterns brought about by the effects of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. For this reason I have included in the Appendices extracts from the Census Records of the day, relating to tenants who occupied the premises in question. Also in the Appendices is to be found the list of documents examined and which correspond to the numbers which are to be found after various sections in the text.
Finally, I should like to express my thanks, first and foremost, to Mr. Howard Procter, the present owner/occupier of Marlfield Farm for the repeated loan of the documents which has made this study possible; to Mrs. E. Wilkinson and the late Mrs. J. Owen for the loan of relevant newspaper articles concerning the Parish of Thornton-in-Craven, written by the late Mr. A. H. Clegg during the 1930''s; to the numerous very helpful people in the County Records Offices at Northallerton, Wakefield and Preston and in the libraries at Skipton, Barnoldswick and Colne. Without their expert knowledge of where to find what, this essay could not have been written.
Revised, March, 1999.
The Listers of Thornton-in-Craven.
To fully appreciate what happened to Marlfield and the neighbouring dwellings between the 17th and 19th Centuries, it is necessary to understand that the lands on which most of these properties stood belonged at that period to the Manor of Thornton and that the Lordship of the Manor was in the hands of the Lister family and their descendants. The founder of this family was one Christopher Lyster (sic) living at Thornton in 1521 and who was buried at Gisburn. In the early years of the 16th Century, the Manor of Thornton had been part of the estates of Thomas, 1st Earl of Rutland who, in his will dated the 16th August, 1543, left the Manor to his second son John Manners.1 He, for reasons best known to himself, sold his inheritance to his elder brother Henry, the 2nd Earl, and it was from him that Christopher Lyster''s son, William, purchased the Manor of Thornton in 1556." The estate is said to have comprised the manor house itself, sixty cottages and a watermill, with lands there, in Earby, Kelbrook and Hague-in-Craven, as well as the advowson of the parish church of Thornton.
William Lister’s (Lyster) will was dated 1st September, 1582, and it is of interest to note some of the contents along with the spelling of the day:-
"William Lyster of Thornton, Esquier, sicke in body, but in whole and perfect remembrance, Praysed be God, considering in my mind the surite of deathe and that there is nothing more uncertayne than the daye, houre and tyme, myndinge by God''s grace and permissione to give and render to God and man that things to them belonge......... First and principailie I bequeathe my soule to Almyghtie
God, my oneli saviour and redemer, and my body to be buried in the parishe church of Gisburne by the discrecon of my executors.
And I will that all manner of duties be fullie given to the churche and all the ministers thereof, and the same to be taken and paide of my whole goodes without anie grudge, according to the lawes of God and the Church of England. Unto my son Lawrence Lyster............. my coal mynes and Silritt pyttes or
mynes within the manor or hall mote of Colne in the countie of Lancaster, and all such rightes as I have in the coal mynes of Trawden in the countie of Lancaster; and all my tables, formes, bedstockes and brewinge vessel being at Thornton, with a thirde part of my best beddinge belonge at Thornton aforesaid or elsewhere; and also one salte which my grande father maide, one dosene of my best spones, and one fair dringinge boyle gilte.............
Unto the pourest of the parishe of Thornton fyve marks, to be distributed at the discrecon of the curate their and the church wardens.............."iii
i Ref: "The History & Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven", vol.1, I .D.Whitaker.
ii Ref: Feet & Fines for the County of York" - 1556-7, 3 & 4 Philip & Mary.
iii Ref: "Yorkshire Deeds".
William Lister died a month later and was buried, as directed, at Gisburn on the 4th October, 1582.'' Lawrence Lister mentioned in the will succeeded to the Manor of Thornton and on his death in 1609 his son, William, who was baptised in Thornton Parish Church on the 27th November, 1591, became Lord of the Manor. He became the Member of Parliament for Retford, Nottinghamshire, in 1615 and was knighted by King James I.
During the English Civil War, the Listers supported the Parliamentary cause, Sir William himself fighting at Marston Moor in 1644 and, during 1645, commanding the Parliamentary troops in Yorkshire. But the family''s support for Cromwell was not without tragedy. Sir William''s heir, Captain William Lister, fought under General Fairfax but was killed in 1642 during a skirmish at Tadcaster. The old manor house at Thornton which, it is believed, was situated not very far from the present day Thornton Hill Residential Home, was besieged and captured in July, 1643, by Royalists from Skipton Castle under Lord Darcy. The following month it was recaptured by Roundheads but soon afterwards the manor house, along with barns and stables was burnt by Royalists under Prince Rupert and was never rebuilt.
In 1646, after the Civil War had ended, Sir William Lister received a grant of £1,500 from Parliament for damage done to his estate and for the loss of his son Captain William Lister. Sir William died in 1650, his estate passing to his grandson, Christopher, Captain William''s son.
The chart that follows shows the line of descent of the Lister''s of Thornton-in-Craven, somewhat modified but with the leading characters referred to in this study shown in block letters.
i Ref: Parish Register of Gisburne, Part 1, 1558-1745.
Having looked briefly at the background of the Thornton branch of the Lister family, one can now turn to the material contained in the documents which gives this study its title, "The Marlfield Papers".
It has to be assumed that since the Thornton Manor of the Listers was destroyed during the Civil War, the family made their home elsewhere. This would appear to have been at Swinden Hall near Hellifield, the date 1657 being found over the door lintel of this building. Further evidence to support this assumption is to be found in a diary entry of Oliver Heywood, one of the ejected clergy following the Act of Uniformity in 1662. He ministered to the Independent Churches of Craven and was instrumental in forming those at Horton-in-Craven and Winterburn. The relevant entry is as follows:-
"1686, June 2nd in Craven. Dined at Thornton with Mr. Hough
(i.e. Rev.Edmund Hough,Rector of Thornton); thence to Marton Scar; there met
Mrs. Lambert (Barbara Lister of Arnoldsbiggin*, who married John Lambert, son
of General Lambert); rode with the coach she was in to Calton, her home,
a large old mansion; she sent for neighbours, I preached on June 10th. God graciously
helped. I lodged there."
Following the removal of the Listers from Thornton, the area covered by Marlfield, Fiddling Clough and Birch Hall came under the umbrella of the Manor of Swinden which was the estate of Christopher Lister1. Christopher was the great-grandson of Sir William and amongst his estates were extensive tracts around Kelbrook, Gisburn, Coates and other parts of Craven, as well as Thornton itself. Christopher Lister never married and therefore had no legitimate heir to whom he could leave his estate, although his will dated the 14th July, 17001, could give rise to some speculation! Sufficient to say that he bequeathed “........several lands and tenements in Swinden......unto Mary Holmes for her life". The whole of the remainder of the estate was left to one Thomas Kaye on condition that he adopted the surname of Lister.
Thomas was the youngest son of Sir John and Dame Anne Kaye of Woodspme in Yorkshire and was first cousin to Christopher since the latter''s father and Dame Anne were brother and sister. There is no evidence to suggest that Thomas did other than agree to the change of surname since, being the youngest son, he was not likely to benefit to any great degree from his father''s estate. His mother became Thomas'' heir at law and Christopher Lister''s estate, except for that portion left to Mary Holmes, came into the possession of Thomas Lister (Kaye) on or about the 31st January, 1701. One of his first acts on becoming Lord of the Manor was to repay a mortgage of £2,000 made by one John Roydhouse to Christopher Lister, where various parcels of land had been held as security. Some twelve months later, on or about the 3rd April, 1702, he made over these lands to his fiancée, Elizabeth, as a wedding settlement for her lifetime, then to be passed to his heirs. Additionally in his will of the 5th March, 1702, Thomas also made provision for Elizabeth in the shape of an income of £400 per year, plus other sections of his estate, these to revert to any issue of the marriage after her death. The remainder of this large estate was bequeathed to his older brothers, Arthur Kaye (later Sir Arthur) and George Kaye, then to their descendants.
Barbara Lambert was the main benefactor of the Independent Chapel at Winterburn. Arnoldsbiggin, which was the original family home of the Listers of Gisburn, no longer exists. Today, close to the site is West by Hall I arm. (OS Sheet SD84/94; GR.822478). and subsequent numbers refer to documents in Appendix I.
It can reasonably be assumed that Thomas and Elizabeth were married around the middle of 1702 but from the available evidence it would appear that Thomas did not live very long following the marriage, dying without issue and Elizabeth later marrying one Henry Barker. Sir Arthur Kaye, Thomas'' eldest brother had no surviving children but the middle brother, George, had at the time of Thomas'' death two sons still living, John then aged 10 years and Robert, 9 years.
Now Christopher Lister had left a number of outstanding debts of no small consequence many of which had still not been settled on the death of Thomas. Because several lawsuits were pending against the estate, the beneficiaries already mentioned were obliged to come to some financial arrangement with various gentlemen to assist them in their plight. The four gentlemen concerned were Theophilus Shelton of Wakefield, Christopher Davenport of New Inn, Middlesex, James Groundman of the Middle Temple, London and Jasper Blythman of the Inner Temple. In exchange for bailing out the Lister-Kaye family, these four obtained the right through a mortgage agreement to sell or lease the estate of Thomas Lister, either as a whole or in smaller parcels of land. The legalities of this agreement were enacted on the 1st June, 17091. That the estate was not disposed of in its entirety is apparent from the fact that some 150 years later the Lister-Kaye family was still involved in the sale of a few acres near Marlfield. But more of that later.
Not all the farmsteads on that north-east side of Earby were included in the Lister-Kaye estate. One such exclusion was Windlefield1. During the first half of the 17th Century this property was part of an estate under the control of Sir William Darcy of Witton Castle, County Durham, Sir Martin Lister (a distant relative of Christopher) of Burwell, Lincolnshire, Sir John Bright of Badsworth, Yorkshire and John Lambert of Calton Hall, near Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire. At the age of 20, John Lambert had married 17 years old Frances, youngest daughter of Sir William Lister. The marriage entry in the records of Thornton-in-Craven Parish Church reads "Nupt. Johannes Lambert et Frances Lister, Sep.10, 1639". It is a fact that Major-General John Lambert was one of Cromwell''s most able commanders during the Civil War, 1642-45, and that there is no doubt that he prospered during the years of the Commonwealth, of which he was one of the leading architects. But on the 25th May, 1660, the Monarchy was restored when King Charles II landed at Dover from France and the writing was on the wall for those who had actively supported the Lord Protector and his Commonwealth.
An indenture was made on the 14th June, 16601 between the four gentlemen of whose estates Windlefield was a part and John Hargreaves, a yeoman of Carleton, granting to the latter.........
"............ all that messuage in the possession of John Windle de Moore situate lying and
being within the township of Earby commonly called Windle Tenement de Moore, and also one dwelling house, one turf house, one stable two barns, one kiln, two garths, one close called Calf Croft and paddock and also all those ten closes of land and arable meadow called Sinderhill, Lower Bank, Upper Bank, Great Ing, Dawson Intack, Ling Intack, New Close, Dawson Ing, Three Acre Rake Bank and Rake Bank Ing."
The years following the Restoration of the Monarchy were years of reckoning for John Lambert of Calton Hall. For his part in the Civil War and its aftermath, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and exiled to the Channel Islands until just before his death. Today, at the entrance to Calton Hall* can be seen a plaque bearing the inscription:-
"John Lambert, 1619-1684. Born here at Calton Hall and baptised at Kirkby Malham Church. Outstanding soldier in the English Civil War, architect of the Cromwellian Protectorate, a man of extraordinary parts, a pleasant wit, of great understanding. Imprisoned for life on the orders of Charles II, he died at Plymouth always loyal to his republican principles."
Did any of the other three gentlemen mentioned in conjunction with John Lambert meet a similar fate? How much did the aftermath of the Civil War and the subsequent consequences of the Restoration contribute to the financial difficulties and downfall, not only of John Lambert and his friends, but also of Christopher Lister and his adopted heir at law, Thomas Lister-Kaye? Charles II was a notorious spendthrift and it is known that John Lambert junior, Barbara''s husband, repurchased some of his father''s estate in 1672. Nevertheless, the fact remains that within a period of some 45 years, all the farms to which this article refers passed out of the direct control of the nobility and the landed gentry and into the hands of yeoman farmers and up and coming merchants.
* The hall known to the Lamberts was severely damaged by fire in the late 19th Century and restored on the lines seen today.
Yeoman and Tenant Farmers
For the purpose of this account it is not possible to treat Marlfield in isolation from some of the other properties in the locality for three main reasons:-
(a). One family, the Cowgills, were dominant in tenancy and/or ownership of a number of the farmsteads and cottages throughout the 18th and well into the 19th Centuries.
(b). From the reading of the various documents it would appear that some of the parcels of land were shared by two or more farms; e.g. a 4 acre meadow by the name of Great Ing is mentioned, not only in connection with Marlfield but also with Fiddling Clough and Windlefield, whilst 3 acres of arable land known as Longfield appears in Indentures relating to Marlfield and Fiddling Clough1&2.
(c). Since, in the first instance, much of the property was either sold or leased for almost nominal sums, a condition of each transaction was that the new owner/tenant..........
"..........and every other person occupying and enjoying the freehold of the premises
shall and will at all times for ever hereafter do suit and service at the Court Barren held for the Manor of Thornton and at the Mills within the said Manor of Thornton, as the present freeholders now do upon due summons and warning to the said Court, and having his or their corn or grain in reasonable and convenient time ground and dispatched."
It appears that here would have been a suitable case for the present day Monopolies Commission, for the above clause makes it clear that the freeholder was not entirely free to dispose of his farm produce as he thought fit. As was the case in many other parts of the country, right down from the Middle Ages, those who controlled the various corn mills called the tune.
In dealing with the properties as they changed hands, I am not attempting in every case to go into all the details of the various Indentures. These are largely repetitive, the properties being described in similar vein to that of Windlefield referred to in the previous chapter, so as far as possible in order to achieve a degree of continuity, the documents are dealt with in chronological order.*
On the 12th & 13th September, 1709, three agreements were enacted between those who controlled the Lister-Kaye estate, and the brothers James Cowgill who then held the tenancy of Fiddling Clough and Bartholomew Cowgill for the freehold of Marlfield142. For an annual rent of two shillings payable to the heirs of Thomas Lister on the Feast Days of Pentecost & St. Martin the Bishop of Winter, the freehold of Fiddling Clough and all related lands was granted to James Cowgill. I feel sure that there must have been some additional payment but there is no reference to this in the abstract from which the other information was obtained.
* Appendix II refers to the chronological order of events.
James Cowgill had two sons, James (junior) who was a clergyman and Richard, the younger of the two. James, the father, died on the 17th December, 1724, without leaving a will and therefore his estate passed to his heir at law, the Rev. James Cowgill who, from 1724 to 1746 was Vicar of Downham near Clitheroe in Lancashire and also incumbent of the latter town from 1739 to 1743.
That accounted for one of the three agreements, the other two pertaining to Marlfield, the fields of which at that time were in the tenure of one William Cowgill, described as a labourer. Nothing more is known about this person or whether or not he was related to Bartholomew. Having looked through the records of Baptisms & Burials for the Parish of Thornton-in-Craven, it is apparent that "Cowgill" was a very common name. Indeed, one of the earliest entries in the Baptismal Register is dated May, 1570, when another Bartholomew, son of Abram Cowgill was baptised. But to return to the other agreements in question. Although only one day separates the two, dated 12th & 13th September, 1709, respectively, there are curious differences between them. Bartholomew Cowgill obviously already occupied the farm premises but, as already stated, the fields were rented to William Cowgill. The agreement of the 12th indicates that for the sum of five shillings and the payment of one peppercorn rent (if demanded), Bartholomew gained the freehold of Marlfield and all its fields for one year. However, the agreement of the 13th when describing the fields, some 18 acres in extent, states quite clearly, ".........which were in the tenure of William Cowgill", not "are" as in that of the 12th and that for the sum of £104 paid to the creditors of the estate and an annual Free Rent of one shilling to be paid to Thomas Lister''s heirs, Marlfield passed into the hands of Bartholomew Cowgill.
He and his wife, Anne, had one son, Joseph, born in 1682. It is possible that when Marlfield was acquired, the couple were living, either as tenants or owners, at nearby Oak Slack Farm* as is indicated in his will dated the 19th January, 1719. The bequests set out in this will make interesting reading1. Whilst the bulk of his estate was left to his wife for the duration of her lifetime, after which it passed to Joseph, he also left to relatives and friends sums of between one and five shillings. Insignificant sums to us today but not so in the 18th Century. An exception was one Anne Shuttleworth who received twenty shillings! It can also be ascertained from the will that Bartholomew''s father, Joseph, had been married twice, for five shillings each was left to his half-brother, Abraham Cowgill and to his half-sisters Mary Cowgill and Susan Wilcock. Who the occupant was at Marlfield at the time Bartholomew made his will is not clear. In 1718 Joseph, the son, was certainly still with his parents at Oak Slack, not working on the farmstead but following the trade of "hosier and clothier". At this occupation he must have been quite successful, or perhaps he was helped by his father, for on the 27th June, 1718, he entered into a contract3 with Benjamin Parker a butcher, Bridget his wife and Margaret Atkinson (possibly Bridget''s mother) who resided at Birch Hall, to purchase this small estate which included eight cottages for the sum of £114.
*Nothing of any great significance relating to Oak Slack is to be found in the documents examined.
It will be recalled that in 1660 Windlefield, or Earby Moorside as it was sometimes referred to, had been granted to John Hargreaves of Carleton, yeoman, but also described in another reference as a gentleman. One can surmise that he never actually lived at Windlefield but had tenants in occupancy. He must have lived to a very ripe old age, for in 1725 his tenant was Richard Cowgill, the younger son of James Cowgill (senior) of Fiddling-Clough. On the 10th June, 1725, Windlefield and all its lands was sold to Richard (described as a yeoman) for the sum of £350.......
"..........to be holden to the Chief Lord or Lords of the Fee or Fees thereof by
yielding and paying yearly the free rent of six shillings and such services as therefore due and of right accustomed. "1.
Earlier, mention was made of the death of James Cowgill in December, 1724 and that Fiddling Clough was inherited by the elder son the Rev. James Cowgill of Downham. So we now have the situation of the two brothers in possession of adjacent farms, Windlefield and Fiddling Clough although, no doubt, James would be an "absentee landlord". Nevertheless, on the 23rd April, 1731, for a consideration of £20, Richard sold to his brother "31/z acres of larger Yorkshire measure called Ling Close or Dawson Field and any buildings the land contained."1. The transaction also carried a yearly rent of one shilling to the Chief Lord or Lords of the Fee.
There is some discrepancy as to the marital status of the Rev. James Cowgill! One note indicates that he never married and had no issue, whilst a second paper suggests that he did marry and had two sons, both of whom died at an early age. Whichever is correct it is a fact that James, like his father before him, died without making a will and that if he had married then his wife had predeceased him. The records of Downham Parish Church indicate that he died on the 6th February, 1747, being buried there on the 10th. He is described as "Curate of Downham and Bentham". On his death, James'' estate of Fiddling Clough went to his heir at law, nephew William, only son of his brother Richard Cowgill.
On the 1st September, 1746, some months before William inherited Fiddling Clough, he and his father had entered into an agreement that for the sum of £100, Richard granted William part of that tenement Windlefield, where he lived. This consisted of some 30 acres........
"..........the Moor Leath and Moor Heath Ing, the Higher Dawson Close and the
bent adjoining to the Moor Leath, the Higher Bank and the Bank Flats, the Lower Bank and the Dawson Ing."
Use of these lands was still to be held by Richard during his lifetime, after which they would revert entirely to William and his wife Margaret1. A further clause stated that should Richard''s wife, Elizabeth, survive him and should William and his mother not to be able to agree to live in the same house, then William would pay her an annual sum of £2.10s.0d.! Did this acknowledge a longstanding clash of personalities between the younger married couple and William''s mother? There is nothing to indicate exactly when Richard died but it must have been around 1751.* William, in his will dated the 31st March, 1760,1 bequeaths all his estate which must have included both Windlefield and Fiddling Clough to his wife Margaret and their only child, Mary, appointing Margaret as the sole executor. That William did not live much longer is evidenced by the fact that his will was executed and proved in the Exchequer Court of York on the 19th May, 1761.
* Before the Parish Registers for Thornton-in-Craven were passed to the County Records Office , Northallerton, they had sadly deteriorated and many entries were illegible, including those for the period when Richard must have died
Return to Marlfield.
The next document from which information about Marlfield can be obtained is the will of Joseph Cowgill, "yeoman of Marlfield" and dated the 29th August, 17564. This poses the interesting question as to just how many ''Joseph Cowgills'' there were in this branch of the family? An examination of the Cowgill family tree, as far as I have been able to develop it, indicates that there were five! On a gravestone in the churchyard at Thornton-in-Craven, just to the left hand side before the entrance, are inscriptions giving the following details:-
"Mary Cowgill, late of Marlfield, born 1721, died 7th May, 1794, aged 73 years.
Joseph Cowgill, late of Marlfield, born 1729, died 23rd January, 1793, aged 64 years.
Also Joseph Cowgill, son of the above named Joseph Cowgill, born 1777, died 23rd January, 1854, aged 77 years. Also Betty his wife, born 1780, died 26th December, 1857, aged 77 years."
Obviously then, the Joseph Cowgill who made the will of 1756 must have been the father and grandfather of the first three named on the tombstone, he himself being the son of Bartholomew. In which case, Joseph, "yeoman of Marlfield" is the same Joseph, "hosier and clothier" who, whilst living with his parents at Oak Slack, bought Birch Hall in 1718. This deduction is supported by the contents of Joseph''s will which was witnessed by Robert Tasker, William and Margaret Cowgill. In it are to be found the following bequests:-
"...........I give unto my daughter, Mary Cowgill, the sum of £200 to be paid to her twelve months after my decease by my Executor hereafter named... I give unto my cousin Joseph Cowgill (yet another Joseph!) thirty shillings....... All the rest of my
personal estate I do hereby give, devise and bequeath unto Joseph Cowgill my son and heir ..........and further, it is my mind that if my daughter Mary have occasion
for a house, she shall have one at Birch Hall, which she pleaseth, the time she hath occasion for it without paying rent....."
The son Joseph was the sole executor and it would appear that his mother must have died some time before 1756 since no mention is made of her in her husband''s will. Joseph, senior, however, lived for many more years to the age of 92 and would witness the rebuilding of Marlfield on the lines it is seen today. A stone bearing the inscription ''JC 1765'' lay for many years by the wall of the house according to the present owner until his father incorporated it into the farmhouse when repairs were being undertaken. The burial records of Thornton Parish Church contain the entry:-
"10 Feb. 1774, Joseph Cowgill of Marl House, Yeoman, 92 years".
His will was proved at the Exchequer Court of York on the 27th May of that same year.
When Joseph Cowgill senior purchased the Birch Hall estate in 1718 it must have been to the exclusion of certain parcels of land, because forty-eight years later Joseph Cowgill junior agreed with the then occupants of Birch Hall for the purchase of those fields for which he already held the tenancy. Living at Birch Hall at that time, 1776, was William Turner and his wife Elizabeth. Previously, William''s parents, John and Grace Turner had also occupied the premises but after John''s death Grace had later remarried to one Joseph Gott of Hubbins at Cowlinghead in the Parish of Kildwick. The Turners and Grace Gott on the one side and Joseph Cowgill on the other entered into an agreement for the sale of a plot of land described in the Indenture of the 5th July, 17665, as follows:-
"........for and in consideration of Fifty two Pounds Ten Shillings of Lawful money
of Great Britain......... all that one Inclosed Close called or known by the name of
Dodgsons Close situate, lying and being in the Township of Earby aforesaid, adjoining unto a Close of the said Joseph Cowgill called the Higherfield on the Westside thereof and to another Close of the said Joseph Cowgill called the Marlsfield on the Northside thereof containing by estimation Two Acres and Twenty Two Perches accustomed measure......"
This document had, of course, been drawn up by some lawyer and officially signed and sealed, as had most of the other papers examined. But tucked inside this Indenture was an additional item, a small piece of paper on which was written a promissary note written in the hand of and signed by
Joseph Cowgill himself5a. In addition to the stipulated purchase of £52.10s.0d., Joseph was offering further compensation to the vendors as follows:-
"I hereby promise to pay Grace Gott the wife of Joseph Gott of Hubbings within the Parish of Kildwick or her Order the sum of Ten Shillings upon the Fifth Day of July in every year during her Natural Life and after her Decease I hereby promise to pay to William Turner her Son the sum of Ten Pounds if his present Wife Elizabeth shall be then Dead; Or if his present Wife Elizabeth be then living providing the said William Turner will give a Bond in sufficient Penalty to me, my Heirs, Exors and Adm''ors to indemnify me and Them from the thirds of his said Wife Elizabeth, Then and not otherwise I promise to pay him the Sum of Ten Pounds. Or if it shall happen that the said Joseph (should this read ''William''?) shall be dead at the time of the Decease of the said Grace Gott then I promise to pay the same sum of Ten Pounds to Any Person or Persons to Whom he shall direct it to be paid by his Will or in Default of such Direction to his Heir at Law. Dated this Fifth Day of July, 1766.
Addendum That the above Note was given to the said Grace Gott as and for an Equivalent of her thirds in a certain Close purchased by Mr.Joseph Cowgill of the above William Turner."
That this promise was honoured is evident by the receipt written on the reverse of the note when it was eventually returned to Joseph Cowgill:-
"6th July, 1792.
Received the within mentioned Sum of Ten Pounds in full and we hereby renounce
all claim and title upon any Account from the date hereof forever........Witness our hands.
Witness Elizabeth Turner Mary Cowgill
An indication of the degree of education received by girls at this time is illustrated by the ladies'' signatures on both the Indenture and the above receipt. Neither Grace Gott nor Elizabeth Turner could do other than make their mark, whereas the receipt is witnessed by Mary Cowgill, Joseph''s sister, in her own hand displaying neat, well-formed script. That Joseph Cowgill too could formulate this promissary note in which he appears to have covered all legal eventualities, indicates an astute, business-like mind. This transaction with the Turners and Grace Gott appears to indicate two more things; (a) that Joseph the son had taken over the management of Marlfield from his father who, at the time of this purchase, would have been 84 years of age, and (b) that Joseph wanted to ''tidy up'' the boundaries of the farm through the purchase of parcels of land which separated his fields from one another.This latter assumption is borne out by yet another purchase in 1768. Earlier in this account when referring to the Indenture of 17092 whereby Bartholomew Cowgill obtained the freehold of Marlfield, mention was made of one William Cowgill, labouer, who obviously rented some of the fields. Like ''Joseph Cowgill'' that of ''William Cowgill'' was quite a common name at that time and the Thornton Parish Registers show four baptismal entries for a William Cowgill between the years 1690 and 1721. So William Cowgill crops up again, as does the Lister-Kaye family, in an agreement of the 14th November, 1768, between Robert Rorkley of Woodsome (probably the family''s agent) and William Shaw of Thornton of the one part and Joseph Cowgill of the other6.For the sum of £110 to be paid to the Trustees of the former Lister estates, Joseph Cowgill acquired........"all that messuage and
tenement with several closes and parcels of land thereto belonging and all ways and waterings and other apportionments to the same appertaining, situate, lying and being in Thornton aforesaid and now in the possession of William Cowgill, labourer........."
In addition to the £110 there was also an annual rent of one shilling to be paid at the Feast of Pentecost and St. Martin the Bishop of Winter..........."to Sir Arthur Kaye of Woodsome, Baronet, for
and during his natural life and from and after his demise to George Kaye of Denby Grange, Esquire, for and during his natural life........." and then to his heirs, etc. Unfortunately, this particular document is not very legible but at the same time it does not appear to contain a specific reference to the actual location of the property that changed hands. But surely, the William Cowgill of this agreement cannot be the same William mentioned in the Indenture of 1709, or can he? Poor William, labourer, I do wish we knew a little more about you!
A Marriage Settlement and its Consequences
It will be recalled that following the deaths of Richard Cowgill and his brother, the Rev. James Cowgill, both Windlefield and Fiddling dough were inherited by Richard''s only son, William. He and his wife, Margaret, lived at Windlefield with their only child, Mary. In his will dated 31st March, 1760, William bequeathed the whole of his property to Margaret and her heirs. Unfortunately he did not live much longer, for the will was proved just over a year later on the 9th May, 17611. How old Mary was at the time of her father''s death is not clear and it is not until 1782 that we learn more about her and her mother. On the 26th and 27th April of that year, two agreements were drawn up between..........
".........Margaret Cowgill of Earby Moorside (i.e. Windlefield) in the Parish of Thornton, aforesaid widow of the 1st part; John Shackleton of Pasture House in the Chapelry of Colne in the County of Lancaster, Gentleman of the 2nd part and Mary Cowgill, Spinster and only daughter and heir at law of the said Margaret Cowgill of the 3rd part."
-These agreements were, in effect, a marriage settlement, for John Shackleton was to marry Mary Cowgill. John owned property not only in Colne but also in Barrowford and the Parish of Kildwick. From income derived from these sources, he was to provide Mary with an income of £50 per year immediately the marriage was solemnized and also to provide Margaret with an annual sum of £20 for the remainder of her life. In exchange for this settlement Margaret, with Mary''s consent, made over to her future son-in-law the freeholds of Windlefield and Fiddling dough........"to hold the
same unto and to the use of John Shackleton, his assignees for ever". At the time of these agreements, Windlefield was described as being in the tenure or occupancy of Margaret Cowgill and John Sunderland, their undertenants or assigns, whilst Fiddling Clough was in the tenure or occupancy of Abraham Foster1.
So Mary and John were married at Thornton Church and went to live at the Shackleton family home, Pasture House which is situated between Barrowford and the village of Roughlee. The entry in the marriage register at the Parish Church is as follows:-
"5th May, 1782. Wilfred Burton, Curate of Barnoldswick. John Shackleton of the Chapelry of Colne, Gentleman and Mary Cowgill of this parish, Spinster, by licence from the Revd. John Denane, Surrogate."
For how much longer Margaret Cowgill lived is not indicated in any of the documents. Sad to say, the marriage of John and Mary was not a long one, John dying on or about the 6th November, 1788. But during the six and a half years of marriage two daughters, Jennett and Mary, were born. John Shackleton made a will on the 27th September, 1788, some six weeks before he died, the executors being Thomas Parker of Alkincoats and William Foulds of Ingheys. After making certain other bequests he left the whole of the Windlefield and Fiddling Clough estates, then under the sole tenancy of John Sunderland, to Mary his wife, with certain provisos. Briefly, if she remarried the property would pass to the daughter Mary. However if this daughter died without lawful issue before the age of 21 then the other daughter, Jennett, would inherit. But if both should die before their 21st birthday, then his widow, Mary, should she still be living even though remarried, would retain the estate1
* The "Register of Baptisms and Burials, 1774-1789" prepared in 1969, refers to the "Bishop''s Transcript", now at the County Records Office, Preston, as the contemporary working copy. 1 his had suffered greatly from the effects of poor storage at an earlier period. Many entries are barely legible, others, particularly burials, are missing altogether.
There is some discrepancy in the records of Colne Parish Church regarding the entry for Jennett Shackleton, where it is stated that she was baptised on the 22nd November, 1783. However, the "Bishop''s Transcript"* states that her date of birth was the 18th March, 1788! On the other hand, Mary''s baptism on the 29th December, 1787, with her date of birth being given as the 2nd September, 1787, is quite logical, even though this does throw doubt on the accuracy of Jennett''s date of birth
only 61/2 months later! Whatever dates are correct, John''s will did favour Mary, both wife and daughter but unfortunately none of the three females lived long enough to enjoy their inheritance. One can only speculate at the cause of the tragedy which obviously overwhelmed John Shackleton''s wife and her daughters. Mary, the mother, died on or about the 5th July, 1790, less than two years after her husband; daughter Mary passed away just two days later on the 7th July, whilst Jennett died on the 11th of that same month in 1790. The beneficiary, if so he can be termed, of this calamity which struck the Shackleton family was Joseph Cowgill of Marlfield, the closest heir at law to Jennett Shackleton1
At this point it might be helpful to refer to the Cowgill ''Line of Descent'' which commences with Joseph, the father of Bartholomew and James. Joseph (No.3 on the chart) now had possession of Marlfield, Birch Hall, Windlefield, Fiddling Clough and, it would appear, Oak Slack. He made his will on the 21st September, 1791 and when he died sixteen months later the following entry is to be found in the burial records for Thornton Parish Church:- "27 Jan. 1793, Joseph Cowgill of Oak Slack, yeoman, Martha his wife." He must have married quite late in life since his son and heir, Joseph, was not born until 1777 when the father was 48 years of age - and three daughters were to follow! But a will had been made and in it Joseph left £150 to each daughter, to be paid to them by the executors as the girls attained the age of 21. The executors were his son Joseph, his sister Mary and John Sunderland, whom we know was tenant of Windlefield. To his wife Martha, Joseph left......."£15 per year, a bed and furniture for a room at the New House at Birch Hall to live in as
long as she remains a widow - but no longer!"1. All the property went to his son Joseph and subsequently to his heirs. This he inherited on his father''s death on the 23rd January, 1793, the will being proved at York on the 19th November that same year1. At that time, Joseph the son and heir would be no older than sixteen years of age.
It will have been noted that not all who obtained the freehold or outright ownership of the properties in question during the 18th and 19th Centuries, either through purchase or inheritance, were farmers. Bartholomew Cowgill''s son, Joseph was described as a "hosier and clothier" when he purchased Birch Hall; James Cowgill (junior) was a clergyman when he inherited Fiddling Clough, whilst John Shackleton, a gentleman of means, most certainly never lived at either of the two properties that were made over to him when he married Mary Cowgill.
But what happened following the death of Joseph Cowgill in 1793? Did his wife Martha continue to live at Oak Slack looking after her four young children or did she immediately move to the New House at Birch Hall? Was Joseph''s sister, Mary, living in another cottage at Birch Hall as set out in their father''s will of 1756? Who, at this period, was actually living at Marlfield itself? Unfortunately, there is nothing in any of the documents to answer these queries. What does emerge from the available evidence however, is the sad story of Joseph, the son and grandson of the two earlier gentleman of that name, lurching from one financial crisis to another. It would appear that Joseph had no inclination to become a farmer and, reading between the lines, either that he had an appetite for the good things in life which, of course, cost money, or that he was a poor businessman in his chosen occupation of cotton spinner. It should be remembered that this period in history was when the wealth of the Lancashire and Yorkshire textile industries was just beginning to develop, even though basically these were still cottage industries.
On the 23rd January, 1806, Joseph Cowgill who would then be 28 years of age and described as a cotton spinner, arranged for a loan of £600 from Richard Frankland, a farmer of Lower Scales at Halton West, Hellifield. Security for the loan was Fiddling dough, still occupied by John Sunderland, all the out buildings and 46 acres of land plus some 61/2 acres belonging to Windlefield. As if this wasn''t enough, just eleven months later on the 23rd December, a second loan of £400 was raised from Matthew Cragg, gentleman, of Salterforth. Security for this consideration was Windlefield itself, which had the same tenant as Fiddling Clough, plus all out-buildings and remaining land1 Just how Joseph was using this money raised through mortgaging portions of his estate is not clear but it is interesting to note how he is described in various documents - yeoman, cotton spinner, gentleman, landowner. Nor is that all! When the foregoing mortgages were arranged he was living at Marlfield but by June, 1808, he is residing at Thornton Hall, Thornton-in-Craven!* Sometime earlier, perhaps in 1803 or 1804, Joseph had married and he and his wife Betty had two sons, Joseph (5th) and James. Sadly both had only short lives, Joseph dying in 1805, James seven years later. There appears to have been no more children. Residing at Thornton Hall would naturally demand a higher standard of living and entertaining which costs money. So, on the 3rd June, 1808, a third mortgage was arranged, this time with two gentlemen of Colne, Robert Tillotson, an accountant and Christopher Lister, an ironmonger. The latter was no relation to the Listers mentioned earlier. This time, Marlfield, Birch Hall and all other buildings, cottages and lands associated with these properties, then tenanted by Samuel Sunderland or his undertenants, were offered as security7. In return Joseph received an initial sum of £100 with the option to obtain further advances up to a total of £1,000, to be repaid with interest at 5%. He took full opportunity to obtain further advances and between receiving the initial £100 in June, 1808 and June, 1809, Joseph requested and received five further amounts of £230, £220, £280, £66 and £104. The final endorsement on the reverse of the mortgage deed reads as follows:-
"The third day of June, 1808. Received further one hundred and four pounds making with former sums received one thousand pounds and the interest settled up to this date.
Joseph Cowgill (Signed) Jnth Hargreaves (Witness)
* Today, this is now the greatly enlarged Thornton Hill Residential Home.
The two loans that Joseph Cowgill had obtained in 1806 were finally repaid in full on the 27th April, 181S, Richard Franklin receiving £643 in settlement and Matthew Cragg, £4201. Possession of Fiddling Clough and Windlefield had been regained. But not for long! The very next day after repaying Messrs. Franklin and Cragg, he raised another mortgage from Ambrose Dean, gentleman, of Addingham. This was for £2,000, security being the two properties he had just redeemed and, somehow, a second mortgage on Marlfield. So now he had two sums of £1,000 and £2,000 respectively to repay, plus interest at 5%. Things were getting tough as Joseph persisted in maintaining the appearances that his station in life demanded.
By 1818 matters began to come to a head. First there is reference to Joseph''s sisters, Mary and Martha, Elizabeth having died without issue sometime previously. On the 22nd April, 1818, a sworn statement relinquishing any claim they might have had to the estate of the late Joseph Cowgill (i.e. their father) was made by...........
"..........Thomas Moses of Bransham in the County of Cumberland, shopkeeper and
Mary his wife, late Mary Cowgill, spinster, and Thomas Lonsdale of Colne in the County of Lancaster, fellmonger and Martha his wife, late Martha Cowgill, spinster".1
It could well have been that Mary and Martha along with their respective husbands wanted nothing more to do with their profligate brother who was getting deeper and deeper into debt. Certainly they would not want to be held responsible for any part of those debts. Joseph''s wife, Betty, is now a party to further loans, her signature appearing on some of the subsequent documents. Less than two months after his sisters and their spouses had made their statement, on the 2nd June, 1818, Joseph and Betty borrowed £1,500 which was loaned to them, with the agreement of Ambrose Dean, by Henry Alcock* of Skipton. The Cowgills were still living at Thornton but Joseph is now described as a yeoman! Windlefield was tenanted by William Sunderland, whilst Fiddling Clough was occupied by John Wilkinson and John Slater,1
At this time, one of Joseph''s earlier creditors, Christopher Lister of Colne, was pressing for the repayment of the £1,000 loan he and Robert Tillotson, now deceased, had made ten years earlier in 1808. Again Cowgill turned to Ambrose Dean for help, the latter paying the outstanding sum, all outstanding interest having been settled, direct to Christopher Lister and a further £200 to Cowgill which the latter had requested. But Ambrose Dean too, is getting tough. The agreement of the 10th July 18188, under which the repayment to Christopher Lister was made and which, in effect, was an extended loan to Joseph Cowgill, stipulated repayment with half-yearly interest at 5% not later than the 10th July, 1820. Failure to pay would result in a court action and possible sale of secured properties by Ambrose Dean. Nevertheless, Joseph goes on trying and on the 29th April, 1820, he manages to secure yet another loan of £200 on a short term basis from Henry Alcock9. It is a great pity that no description or visual illustration exists which would give one some insight into the character of Joseph Cowgill. The impression that comes across as one reads the various documents is that of a person who must have possessed a very smooth tongue to enable him to acquire the loans that he did, at the same time having very little conscience about how or when repayment would be made.
* Henry Alcock was one of Skipton''s leading citizens and a founder director of the Craven Bank
It is not clear from the available information exactly what happened next, except that Joseph was in no position to clear his debts. The most probable outcome of his inability to repay Ambrose Dean was that the latter did obtain a court order to recoup some of his losses by selling off part of the Cowgill estate. Because no mention is made, in later documents, of either Fiddling Clough or Windlefield, I suspected that these two properties with their land might have been sold, leaving Marlfield and Birch Hall still mortgaged. This supposition proved correct when, in the records of Thornton Parish Church, I came across an entry relating to the two farms under the heading, "Lands and Buildings purchased by the Parish in lieu of Tithes", and dated the 3rd August, 1825.* Obviously, Ambrose Dean is wanting to get back the rest of his loan as soon as possible and probably wishing that he had never met Joseph Cowgill in the first place. So we come to two more agreements dated the 30th & 31st July, 1824. These are between Joseph & Betty Cowgill along with Ambrose Dean as mortgagee on the one side and Henry Alcock on the other10 By these agreements, Alcock pays off the Cowgills'' outstanding debt to Ambrose Dean, a sum of £1,200 and also loans the Cowgills a further £600 with Marlfield and Birch Hall as securities. It is interesting to note that whilst both of these properties were under the tenancy of Samuel Sunderland, the Cowgills are once again living at Marlfield!
One can only read between the lies to surmise what happened during the years that followed. Within a year of the new mortgage agreement with Henry Alcock, Joseph Cowgill was defaulting on the payment of interest. There is a court order11 made "........in the fifth year of the reign of George
the Fourth", i.e. either late 1825 or early 1826, against the Cowgills who, it would appear, received from Henry Alcock a final payment of £400 but gave up all rights to any income they might have been receiving from the Marlfield and Birch Hall estates. This was further confirmed in a later agreement dated the 14th June, 1831, a document not amongst those examined but referred to in a later Indenture12. Henry Alcock must have been a very patient man. Although he was now receiving rents from the two properties, he was not being paid the outstanding sum of £1,800 owing to him by Joseph Cowgill, nor very much interest which had been set at 4V2%. But matters evidently came to a climax in 1853, for on the 13th September of that year, Joseph Cowgill finally lost what little proprietorship he still enjoyed over Marlfield and Birch Hall. In a conveyance of that date12 Henry Alcock as mortgagee sold the properties for the sum of £1,800 to James Heap of Skipton. Joseph Cowgill, for his part, received ten shillings from James Heap for his agreement to relinquish all further claims to the estates.
* Appendix III refers.
From the information contained in this conveyance of 1853 it is quite obvious that, sometime previously, Joseph and Betty Cowgill had left Marlfield and were then living in Kelbrook a village which, like Earby, was at that time still within the Parish of Thornton-in-Craven, Looking at that part of the Census record for 1851 which covered Kelbrook, although the exact address is not given, the couple are listed as residents:- "Joseph Cowgill, 73 years, landowner; Betty, 68 years". Therefore, after a span of almost one hundred and fifty years, Marlfield no longer belonged to the Cowgill family but had passed into the hands of a grocer from Skipton!
Under New Ownership
What exactly did James Heap get for his £1,800? I think its worth quoting, in part, the description contained in the Conveyance.
"All that........dwelling house called Marlfield with the barn, stable, outbuildings, fold,
garden and orchard and all those.........several parcels of land belonging to the said
dwelling house called by the names and containing by admeasurement in statute measure .........23 acres 2 roods 18 perches all of which.........are now in the occupation of
John Crowther. And also all that other dwelling house called Birkhall (Birch Hall) with the fold, barn and garden and all those parcels of land.........containing altogether
16 acres 2 roods 38 perches all of which are now in the occupation of the said John Crowther or his undertenants. And also eight cottages or dwelling houses adjoining......
Birkhall some of them in the occupation of Martha Turner and others.........unoccupied.
together with all buildings, water courses, trees, woods underwoods, hedges, ditches, fences, profits, privileges.........." 12.
Within the range of documents examined is one final Conveyance dated the 11th November, 1865, which brings to one''s notice descendants of the Lister-Kaye family with which this account began. The estates of Sir John Lister Lister Kaye were quite extensive, for in and around the Parish of Kirkheaton in the County of York he owned some 1,032 acres which, with the buildings, farms, etc. they contained, would be extremely valuable. It would appear that some years earlier, probably between 1824 and 1840, Sir John had entered into a mortgage agreement with one Isaac Fryer of Wimbourne Minster in Dorset. From this agreement, Sir John''s wife, Dame Matilda Lister Lister Kaye was assured of an income of £300 per annum throughout her lifetime. All very complicated legalities but from Sir John''s extensive estates, part of which was still to be found in the Earby area, James Heap purchased for the sum of £445.........
"....those closes, pieces or parcels of land called or known by the names of
''Odd-Syke1 and ''Mill Hill1 with the barn and mistal thereon containing altogether about 5 acres 3 roods 4 perches or thereabouts..........in the possession or occupation
of William Crowther, his undertenants or assigns........." 13.
The Conveyance contained the proviso that the sale of this land should in no way affect the annual income due to Lady Matilda. However, she had not much longer to enjoy her annuity of £300 since there is a copy of a burial certificate, dated the 28th April, 1876, which states that following her death at the age of 63 at 17 Cromwell Road, South Kensington, she had been buried at Kensington Church on the 12th April, 1876. 16.
The Grocer of Skipton
James Heap was a very prosperous and wealthy business man, being a grocer and tea dealer in premises at 36 High Street, Skipton. Originally from Barrowford, near Nelson, he never married but at the time that he made his will on the 10th March, 1874, he was living with his widowed sister, Elizabeth Ellison in the house adjoining the shop premises. Also living in the same house was a nephew Thomas Ellison who, after James'' death continued the grocery business of "Heap & Co.". In addition to the High Street premises, the Marlfield and Birch Hall estates, James Heap had other properties. One was on Belle Vue Terrace, Skipton, and was occupied by the first Baptist minister to the town, the Rev. Francis Britcliffe who was married to one of James Heap''s nieces, Jane Heap. Further north he owned the estate of West House Lodge in the Parish of Thornton-in-Lonsdale. All in all, he appears to have been a very benevolent person in the way he wished his estate to be distributed after his death. But that part of his will which is of interest to this account is that he gave and bequeathed to his nephew, William Heap, a bank cashier of Selby........
"........one Original Share of and in the undertaking of the Canal Navigation from
Leeds to Liverpool with the proportion of the Douglas Navigation.......and........my
Estates called Marlfield and Odd Syke both in the Township of Earby in the Parish of Thornton.........both in the occupation of one George Cowgill to and
for his own absolute use and benefit."14
It is rather ironic that at this late stage yet another family of Cowgills should be residing at Marlfield. What relation, if any, they were to the earlier Cowgills I don''t Know, but the bequest does pose two more queries. In 1865 when James Heap purchased "Odd Syke" and "Mill Hill", the two were described simply as plots of land. However, could it be that on "Odd Syke" stood the dwelling known today as "Hodge Syke" which is situated at the top end of "Mill Brow"? Secondly, what has happened to Birch Hall which received no mention in James Heap''s will? It will be recalled that with the Hall were eight cottages, some occupied, others vacant in 1853. The answer to this, I believe, can be found in the Census Records of the last century.* These records do not indicate who lived in the Hall itself and who in the adjacent cottages, but in 1841, 31 people resided in four listed dwellings; in 1851 there were 19 in four properties but ten years later there was only one family of four in, probably, the Hall itself. Against Birch Hall in 1871, two unoccupied dwellings only are noted whilst the 1881 Census makes no mention at all of Birch Hall. Clearly over the preceding decades the dwellings must have fallen into a state of disrepair and neglect leading to their eventual abandonment. Today, as one approaches Marlfield there is nothing whatsoever to be seen of the cottages but close to the entrance to Dark Lane traces of one wall of Birch Hall itself can still be observed. The lane, once a well-used route from Earby to the old Colne-Skipton road over Elslack Moor, is now sunken, wet and overgrown with vegetation. In the field close to the track to Marlfield is the spring which was the only natural source of water for the properties.
* Appendix IV refers.
The Latter Days
James Heap died on the 20th February, 1875, and for some reason I have been unable to discover, was interred at Ghyll Church, Barnoldswick, on Friday the 26th. So William Heap, then working in a bank in Selby, came into his inheritance.
The Inland Revenue accounts of the day, i.e. 1875, relating to Succession Duty on Real Estate make interesting reading. The rates of duty were fixed according to a sliding scale based on the degree of relationship between the deceased and the beneficiary. This ranged from 1% if the latter was a lineal descendant or lineal ancestor of the benefactor, to 10% should the one who inherited be of no relation to the deceased. William Heap, as the son of James Heap''s brother, incurred the second lowest rate of duty, 3%. The duty to be paid by William was assessed on the sum of £1,403.1 Os.4d. which, at 3%, was calculated to be £42.2s.0d. This he was asked to pay in eight half-yearly instalments of £5.5s.3d.! A number of receipts for these payments are amongst the documents examined.15
William Heap, like his uncle before him, made a success of his chosen profession, not as a grocer but as a banker. He became manager of the Selby branch of the Yorkshire Banking Company, this being taken over by the London City & Midland Ltd. on the 4th December, 1901, and which later became simply the Midland Bank. Bringing it right up to date (1999) the Midland Bank has now become a subsidiary of the Hong-Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)! There is a note from William dated the 5th December, 1901, arranging for the balance of his personal account, £1,847.5s.11d., to be transferred to a new account with the new firm.19
Around 1887 some query must have arisen concerning William''s entitlement to the estates that he had inherited, for there is a sworn statement dated the 15th September of that year which begins.......
"In the matter of the Title to certain Lands and premises in the township of Earby and Thornton in the Parish of Thornton in the County of York"........ and ends
........."I have had uninterrupted possession of the whole of the Estates described in the
aforesaid Conveyances respectively for more than 12 years" 17
There was no further reference to this matter!
The only other documents relating to Marlfield are two insurance policies in the name of William Heap issued by the Union Assurance Society Ltd. along with receipts for premiums paid. The first of the two18 would appear to supercede two earlier policies which gave a total cover of £400 on the buildings. The new policy was for £600, divided as follows:-
"Buildings of a farm dwelling house and domestic offices adjoining and communicating therewith, situate on Marlfield Farm, Earby in Craven and occupied by George Cowgill...... £300. Building of the barn and cow houses all under one roof or
communicating, situate near the last named...... £250. Building of the cart shed,
stable and calf house all under one roof or communicating, situate near the last named...... £50. Said buildings are all brick or stone and slated or tiled."
This policy was dated the 6th April, 1900, and the premium was 15s.0d. per year! This remained in force until the 20th May, 1918, when William Heap now living at Wetherby and, presumably, retired, thought fit to increase the cover to £900, (£500, £350 & £50) on the same description as previously, except that Marlfield was now occupied by Thomas Procter, father of the present owner. The premium was raised to 19s.0d. per annum 20. It is interesting to note that the agency through which the policies were issued was held by William Heap! He must have been a very active gentleman, living to a venerable age, since the premium receipts up to 192721 give his name as agent and most are actually signed by him. But even in these latter days we find history repeating itself, for on the back of the second policy is typed the endorsement:- "Memo - It is hereby declared that the London City and Midland Bank Limited are interested in this Policy as Mortgagees. Entered in the Office Books at Leeds, this 11th June, 1918." and signed by the branch manager. It is from 1919 onwards that receipts state under the name of the insured, "Mr. Wm. Heap & Others". What had occurred, I wonder, to necessitate William Heap having to arrange a mortgage so late in life?
As far as the documents 1 have seen are concerned, that is the story of Marlfield and the neighbouring properties, a story covering some 250 years. During those years, twelve monarchs sat on the throne of Great Britain. Those who tenanted or owned the farm lived through such events as the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the Industrial Revolution and the coming of the railway. Perhaps they knew of some local miscreant who, for a petty crime, was transported to one of the colonies. They would hear, in due time, of events in the Crimea, of the Indian Mutiny, of the American Civil War and were contemporaries of social reformers such as Elizabeth Fry, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury. They were witnesses, without realising it, to discoveries and inventions which began to shape our lives in the 20th Century.
Bartholomew Cowgill knew Earby as a tiny community of about 200 souls, living out an agricultural system which still retained close links with the Manorial System of the Middle Ages. If William Heap ever visited Earby, the factories of the industrialised textile era with their noise and smell, would have assailed his senses in abustling township of some 5,000 inhabitants. All in the period of 250 years!
Marlfield and its neighbours existed before the time of Bartholomew Cowgill. To discover earlier details one would have to delve into papers, if such still exist, which most certainly would not be as readily available as are those which have formed the basis for this account. But the future of Marlfield is in the hands of those who live there today, and their successors. How will their lives and actions be seen, one hundred, two hundred years from now?
1. 1709-1818 Abstracts of Title Deed held by Ambrose Dean
2. 13th Sept 1709 Bartholomew Cowgill''s purchase of Marlfield
3. 27th June 1718 Joseph Cowgill''s purchase of birch hall
4. 29th Aug 1756 probate copy of Joseph Cowgill’s will
5. 5th July 1766 conveyance of land;Wm Turner to Joseph Cowgill
5a 5th July 1766 Promissory note, J Cowgill to Wm Turner & Martha Gott
6 17th nov.1768 conveyance of land Robert Rorkley to Joseph Cowgill
7 2/3 June 1808 Mortgage of Birch Hall & Marlfield to Mr’s Tillotson & Lister
8 9/10 July 1818 Mortgage agreement between J Cowgill and Ambrose Dean
9 29th April 1820 Mortgage agreement between J Cowgill and Henry Alcock
10 30/31 July 1824 Mortgage agreement between J Cowgill, A Dean & H Alcock
11 1825-1826 Court Order taken out by H Alcock against J. & Betty Cowgill
12 13th Sept 1853 conveyance of Marlfield & Birch Hall from H Alcock to J Heap
13 11th Nov 1865 conveyance of Odd Syke & Mill Hill form Sir J Lister Lister Kaye to
14 10th March 1874 Copy of James Heaps will
15 1875-1877 Re- J Heaps estate; Inland Revenue receipts for Succession Duty
16 28th April 1876 Re- Dame Matilda Lister Lister Kaye copy of burial Certificate
17 15th Sept 1877 Declaration of Inheritance by William Heap
18 6th April 1900 Marlfield – Insurance policy
19 5th Dec 1901 Authorisation for change of bank account
20 22nd May 1918 Marlfield – Insurance policy
21 1907-1927 Insurance Premium receipts
Appendix II…The Marlfield Papers Chronology
1660 25th May Restoration of monarchy (Charles II)
14th June Windlefield granted to John Hargreaves of Carleton
1709 13th Sept From Lister-Kaye Estates; Fiddling Clough to James Cowgill
and Marlfield to Bartholomew Cowgill
1718 27th June Birch Hall purchased by J Cowgill from Benjamin Parker
1719 12th Dec Death of B Cowgill; Marlfield passes to J Cowgill
1724 17th Dec Death of James Cowgill; Rev James Cowgill inherits
Circa 1751 Death of Richard Cowgill; William inherits Windlefield
1761 May death of William Cowgill; estate to his wife Margaret
1766 5th July J Cowgill buys Birch Hall fields of Wm. & Eliz. Turner
1744 10th Feb Death of Joseph Cowgill, Aged 92, Joseph inherits Marlfield
1782 26th Apr transfer of Fiddling Clough & Windlefield by Margaret Cowgill
to John Shackleton
1782 5th May Marriage of J Shackleton & Mary Cowgill at Thornton
1788 & 1790 Deaths of John Shackleton then in 1790 his wife Mary and
daughters Jennet & Mary Cowgill inherit Windlefield and
1806 23rd Jan £600 loan from Richard Frankland (Fiddling Clough)
23rd Dec £400 loan from Matthew Cragg (Windlefield)
1808/1809 £1000 loan from RBT. Tillotson & Christopher Lister
1818 22nd Apr Disclaimer from Joseph Cowgill’s sisters Mary & Martha
27th Apr Frankland & Cragg repaid
28th Apr £2000 loan from Ambrose Dean of Addingham
2nd June £1,500 loan from Henry Alcock of Skipton
Ambrose Dean pays of Cowgill’s debt(£1000) to Chris Lister
plus £200 to Cowgill himself
1820 29th Apr further £200 from Henry Alcock
1824 31st July Alcock pays off Cowgill’s debt (£1200) to A dean and loans
Cowgill £600 with Marlfield and Birch Hall as securities
1825 3rd Aug Fiddling Clough & Windlefield sold to Thornton Parish in
lieu of tithes possibly by Ambrose Dean
1825/1826 Henry Alcock takes out a court order against Joseph &
Betty Cowgill.Final payment of £400 but all rents are
Forfeited by the Cowgill’s.
1853 13th Sept Marlfield & Birch Hall sold by Henry Alcock to James Heap for
£1800. Cowgill receives 10s. 0d. from Heap to renounce all
further claims on the estate
1854 23rd Jan Death of Joseph Cowgill
1865 11th Nov Odd Syke & Mill Hill purchased from Lister-Kaye estate by
James Heap for £445
1874 March extract from James Heaps will
1875 20th Feb. Death of James Heap; nephew William Heap of Selby inherits
Marlfield and associated land
circa 1918 Thomas Proctor is tenant of Marlfield
Circa 1927 Death of William Heap
Thornton-in-Craven Parish church Records 3rd August,1825
Lands and buildings purchased by the Parish in lieu of Tithes
Fiddling Clough comprises two excellent Farm Houses with Fold and two Barns with three Mistals and one Stable therin, now in the occupation of John Wilkinson, john Slater and joseph Cowgill
Acres Roods Perches
Low Field Meadow John Wilkinson 8 0 4
Low Field Pasture John Slater 5 1 13
High Meadow John Slater 8 2 18
Lower Pasture John Slater 7 3 4
Barn Field Pasture John Wilkinson 4 3 25
Bare Field Pasture John Wilkinson 7 3 20
Copy Pasture Joseph Cowgill 8 2 24
Ling Close Joseph Cowgill 2 0 39
Kiln Field Joseph Cowgill 5 1 38
Lamb Pasture John Wilkinson 2 0 24
Bank Pasture Joseph Cowgill 4 3 25
Also, Windlefield, the Dwelling House, Garden, Three Barns and Mistal and Stables therin, now in the occupation of William Sunderland and the following Closes of land.
Large Meadow 5 5 38
Lane Field Pasture 2 1 35
High Meadow 3 3 0
Higher Bank Pasture 6 0 0
Lower Bank Pasture 7 2 0
Little Sunder Hole Pasture 1 5 16
Little Sunder Meadow 1 5 25
Great Sunder Meadow 4 1 36
Langber Bottom Field 0 2 21
Wood Head Field 2 1 6
Wood 1 1 38
Three Acre Pasture 2 0 33
Limed Field Pasture 3 1 35
Bank Flat Pasture 2 1 9
Two Tough Pasture 9 0 29*
Far Hall Close 7 3 26*
Near Hall Close 4 3 15*
*In the occupancy of Joseph Cowgill
Extracts from census returns for parish of Thornton in Craven
(Giving name, status, age & occupation, where recorded)
Henry Wilkinson 30 Weaver
William smith 35 Weaver
Mary smith 35 Weaver
Joseph smith 7
Alice smith 5
Margaret smith 4
Richard smith 2
Henry smith 5 months
Sarah Bradley 9
William Crowther 26 Hand-loom weaver
Mary Crowther 24 Hand-loom weaver
Joseph Crowther 3
Abraham Mitchell 12 Hand-loom weaver
John Crowther 61 Farmer of 40 acres
Mary Crowther 64
John Crowther 16 Hand-loom weaver
Joseph Wilkinson 39 Farmer of 41 acres
Grace Wilkinson 34 Farmers wife
Sarah J Wilkinson 9 Scholar
Mary G Wilkinson 7 Scholar
Elizabeth E Wilkinson 4
Martha A Wilkinson 3
William Wilkinson 1 month
George Cowgill Head 53 farmer of 46 acres
Sarah Cowgill wife 51
Margaret Cowgill Daughter 38 Cotton Rover
William Cowgill Son 19 Cotton Weaver
James Cowgill Son 15 Cotton Weaver
Martha A Cowgill Daughter 12 Scholar
Charles Cowgill Son 9 Scholar
Alice Cowgill Daughter 2
George Cowgill Head 61 Farmer of 47 acres
Sarah Cowgill wife 60
Martha A Cowgill Daughter 22 Cotton Weaver
Charles Cowgill Son 19 Farmer’s Son
(N.B. note the discrepancies in parents age between 1871 and 1881)
in the census records there is no indication as too which families lived in the hall and which in the cottages.additionally, not all eight cottages were occupied.
Martha turner 55 Weaver
Thomas Turner 35 Weaver
Richard Turner 35 Weaver
Betty Turner 25 Weaver
Christopher Turner 25 Weaver
Joseph Turner 20 Weaver
George Turner 20 Weaver N.B. 3 sets of twins
Mary Turner 15 Weaver
Abraham Turner 8
Martha Harrison 20 Weaver
Benjamin Harrison 15 Weaver
Jon Harrison 10 Weaver
Thomas Harrison 5
Sarah Harrison 2
Lister Harrison 1
James Hartley 35 Weaver
Mary Hartley 30 Weaver
John Hartley 13 Weaver
Benjamin Hartley 11 Weaver
William Hartley 9
Henry Hartley 7
Thomas Hartley 5
Joseph Hartley 3
Betty Hartley 4 Months
William Whitaker 35 Weaver
Mary Whitaker 35 Weaver
Alice Whitaker 15 Weaver
John Whitaker 9
Henry Whitaker 7
Jane Whitaker 2
Hilary Whitaker 1 month
Ann Hall Widow 37 Hand-loom weaver
John Hall 8 Pauper
William Hall 5 Pauper
Sarah Hall 1 Pauper
Christopher Turner 33 Hand-loom weaver(worsted)
Martha Turner 37 Hand-loom weaver(worsted)
William Harrison Wife’s son 7
Elizabeth Turner 5
George Turner 4
John Turner 2
Martha Turner Widow 68 Bobbin winder
Betty Turner 37 Hand-loom weaver
Joseph Turner 32 Hand-loom weaver
George Turner 30 Hand-loom weaver
Abraham Turner 18
Richard Turner 42 Hand-loom weaver
Esther Turner 33 Hand-loom weaver
John Turner 5
William Turner 3
John Slater 70 Farmer
Alice Slater 65
John Slater 40 Weaver
Richard Slater 9
Mary Slater 6
William Slater 3
Mary Crowther 30 Weaver
Mary Crowther 6
Alice Crowther 4
Ann Riddihoulgh 20 Weaver
William Riddihoulgh 20 Weaver
John Riddihoulgh 65 Army
Stephen Riddihoulgh 55 Pauper
N.B. The category ‘weaver’ would, no doubt be hand-loom weaver.
Alice Slater Widow/Head 76 Farmer of 38 acres
Richard Slater Grandson 19 Hand-loom weaver
Mary Slater Granddaughter 16 Hand-loom weaver
William Slater Grandson 13 Pauper
Mary Crowther D’ghter/widow 44 Hand-loom weaver
Mary Crowther Granddaughter 16 Hand-loom weaver
Alice Crowther Granddaughter 14 Hand-loom weaver
John Riddihoulgh Brother 80 Chelsea Pensioner
William Riddihoulgh Grandson 29 Agricultural labourer
Richard Wilkinson Head 45 Farmer of 35 acres
Ellen Wilkinson 40
John Wilkinson Son 18 Hand-loom weaver
Hartley Wilkinson Son 15 Hand-loom weaver
Richard Wilkinson Son 3
Gabriel Wilkinson Widower 60 Hand-loom weaver
N.B. In this census, Fiddling Clough is listed as two dwellings
Mary Crowther Widow/Head 54 Farmer of 40 acres
Alice Crowther D’ghter/unm 24 Cotton factory worker
Thomas Crowther Grandson 2
William Riddihoulgh Nephew/unm 39 Agricultural labourer
Mary Slater Niece/unm 26 Cotton factory worker
Ann Hall Cousin/widow 46 Charwoman
John Hall Son 19 Cotton factory worker
William Hall Son 15 Cotton factory worker
Benjamin Hall Son 8 Cotton factory worker
William Shackleton Servant 27 Shepard
Richard Wilkinson Head 55 Farmer of 36 acres
Ellen Wilkinson Wife 50
Richard Wilkinson Son 12
Henry Wilkinson Visitor 18 Cotton power-loom weaver
N.B. One uninhabited building was also noted.
Mary Crowther Widow/Head 63 Farmer of 70 acres
Alice Lowcock Daughter 34 Cotton weaver
Silvestre Lowcock Son-in-law 32 Agricultural labourer
Thomas Crowther Grandson 12 Scholar
John Lowcock Grandson 7 Scholar
Mary Lowcock Granddaughter 3
William Lowcock Grandson 6 months
Mary Slater Niece/unmarried 36 Cotton winder
Ann Hall Boarder/widower 57 Washerwoman
John Hall Boarder/unmarried 29 Engine tenter(cotton) card room
Benjamin Hall Boarder/unmarried 18 Engine tenter(cotton) card room
William Shackleton Boarder/unmarried 37 Shepard
Richard Wilkinson Head 65 Farmer of 65 acres
Ellen Wilkinson Wife 60
Richard Wilkinson Son/unmarried 23 Agricultural labourer
Ellen Wilkinson Head/widow 70 Farmer of 35 acres
Richard Wilkinson Son 33 Farm servant
Sarah Wilkinson Daughter-in-law 29
Mary E. Wilkinson Granddaughter 4 Scholar
Mary Crowther Head/widow 74 Farmer of 40 acres
Alice Lowcock Daughter 44
Silvestre Lowcock Son-in-law 41 Farm servant
John Lowcock Grandson 17 Cotton weaver
Mary Lowcock Granddaughter 13 Scholar
William Lowcock Grandson 10 Scholar
Sarah Sunderland 60 Farmer
Samuel Sunderland 25 Farmer
Abraham Sunderland 15
Ann Tower 10
Sarah Sunderland Widow 73 Farmer of 64 acres
Samuel Sunderland 37 Farmer’s son
Abraham Sunderland 28 Farmer’s son
Sarah Lund Granddaughter 12 House servant
N.B. Note discrepancies in ages, of first three, between 1841 & 1851 census returns!
Richard Bradley 37 Hand-loom weaver
Elizabeth Bradley 23 Hand-loom weaver
Sarah Bradley 4 months
1861….no record found.
Christopher Harrison Head 45 Farmer of 84 acres
Mary Harrison Wife 42
Sarah Harrison Daughter 19 Cotton winder
Hartley Harrison Son 14
Arthur Harrison Son 12
Mary Harrison Daughter 8 Scholar
David Harrison Son 6 Scholar
Ruth Harrison Daughter 3
Arthur Harrison Head 22 Farmer of 66 acres
Henrietta Harrison Wife 20
Bibliography & References
“The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven Volume 1” T.D.Whitaker
“Thornton-in-Craven. Bygone Days in an ancient Parish” A.H.Clegg
(A series of articles appearing in the “Craven Herald & Pioneer”, April 1928 onwards
“Notes on Skipton Premises” Dr R.G.Rowley. Skipton Library
Registers for the Parish of Thornton-in-Craven County Records Office, Northallerton
Census Records for the Parish of Thornton-in-Craven .Barnoldswick & Skipton Libraries
Parish Register of Gisburne, Part 1, 1558-1745
Register of Baptisms & Burials, 1774-1789. Colne Library
6” Ordnance Survey Map of 1853 County Archives, Wakefield