SKELTON - IN - CLEVELAND
IN HISTORY

1603 ~ 1642

Mounds in foreground were created by old Alum workings.
Larger building in centre is the Methodist Chapel.

1603 - Working of alum mines in the Skelton area date from about now.
Alum mining started in 1595 at Belman Bank, Guisborough. Evidence at Skelton can be seen in the waste mounds along Swilley Lane.
Alum was needed for tanning hides, dyeing and various other uses.
The alum shale was dug out of the hillside and built into clamps with alternating layers of wood and these piles would burn for months.
The burnt shale was then steeped in water until a certain specific gravity had been reached.
[Tested for by floating an egg in the liquid].
The liquid was then boiled for 24 hours and mixed with an alkali, obtained from urine or seaweed.
[Thomas Chaloner of Guisborough sold his personal urine for one penny a firkin, which was about 8 gallons].
Next the mixture was transferred to small coolers to crystallize, the resulting crystals of alum being further boiled and condensed to get rid of impurities.
1950's Photograph showing Alum spoil mounds.
Track leading off first right is old Stackgarth Lane from old stone quarry,

How this long and complex process was discovered in these times is not known.

It is reported that the workers suffered terrible conditions - the heaps of shale gave off poisonous sulphorous fumes and their wages of 6 pence a day were often withheld or given in half rotten meat and corn.

The alum workers are described as:-

'poor snakes, tattered and naked, ready to starve for want of food and clothes.'

The round mounds seen above Skelton High St are the shale residues of this alum process. It needed 50 tons of shale to produce 1 ton of alum

1603 The Yorkshire Papists. [Recusants who refused the sacraments of the Church of England] Skelton:-

"William Milner and Allison his wife
Agnes, the wife of Robert Allenbye
Jane, the wife of Robert Nelson.
Alice, the wife of John Staynhous.
Robert Sawer. Elizabeth Staynhous. Recusants 8 or 9 yeares, but poore laborers.
Robert Trotter Esquier, Margaret his wife ; noncommunicants this last yeare.
Private baptisme "Xpofer Burdon" husbandman had a childe secretly baptised, where and by whome they know not. "
Robert Allanbye,
Joan, the wife of William Nelson
Jane, the wife of Richard Locke
Jebbs widowe Burton widowe r Averell wife of Xpofer Burdon, John Staynehous, Thomas Staynhous, Richard Staynhous ;
Poore labouring people which came to church before the xxvth of Marche 1603 & since are become Recusantes.

1610 - The Poor Laws had made parishes responsible for their own paupers and they were concerned not to to pay for immigrant vagrants.

Begging was made a crime.

Stone in Skelton Old Church. Death of Robert Trotter 1611.
When seven people were found guilty of being "rogues and vagabonds" at the Richmond, N Yorks quarter sessions in this year, the women were whipped and the men were branded with a letter R.

Similar punishment was regularly meted out for this offence across the country.

1611 - Death of Robert Trotter 34 years after buying the Skelton estate.
A stone has been preserved in Skelton Old Church, which recorded his passing. It reads in the different and variable spelling of the day:-
"HEAR LIES Y BODIE OF ROBERT TROTTER OF SKELTON CASTELL ESQVYER [esquire] WHO LIVED TO Y AGE OF 81 YEARES AND DIED IN Y YEAR OF OUR LORD GOD 1611"
He was succeeded by his son Henry, who was married to Catharine, the daughter of Anthony Witham of Cliffe, Yorks.
They had 4 children, George, Mary, Robert and Elizabeth.

Recusants [people refusing to attend Church of England services] were listed for this year as the Roman Catholics:-
Christopher Lowick, a petty chapman [an itinerant seller of goods], Margery his wife, Christopher. his son, and Mary his daughter.

William Milner, a labourer, and Ellis his wife.
Robert Allanby, a Glover, Anne his wife, and John his son.
Margaret, the wife of John Porter.

1618 In 1609 James I had made alum mining a monopoly of the Crown and among the mines started was one at 'Selby Hagg' near Skelton and presumably near present Hagg farm.

1625 - Death of James I and accession of Charles I.


James I
Death of Henry Trotter of Skelton, 14 years after inheriting the Skelton estate.
He was succeeded by his son George, who was married firstly to Ursula, daughter of Sir Richard Chomley of Whitby and secondly to Mary, daughter of Sir Edward Boyce of Fredvil, Kent.
With Mary he had 3 children, Edward, Hugh and Mary.

1626 Charles I asked his subjects to donate to his treasury for conducting a war with Spain.

The Justices of the County of York replied:-

"The inhabitants within the liberties of Langbaurgh in the N Riding answered the application for a voluntary gift, that they are


Charles I
poor farmers at racked rents, their landlords not dwelling amongst them, whereby the country is disappointed out of the money which issueth out of it.
The place is a very straight and narrow part of the country, hemmed in by the sea on one side and a great vast moor on the other.
For two years past the inhabitants have been charged with the continuous watch of the beacons, and training of soldiers".

The new Priest at Skelton All Saints was Robert Toose, who served until 1662.

1632 - The oldest grave found in the old church yard at Skelton was placed in September of this year - commemorating John Slater.

Rights of mines and quarries are mentioned in document 8 Charles I.

1635 Anyone alleged to have committed an offence in Skelton would be sent for trial at the Quarter Sessions.

The Court of Quarter Sessions met at the chief towns of the North Riding and the justices, with juries drawn originally from the gentry and yeomen, tried criminal offences below very serious ones, which were sent to the Assize Courts at York.

They also dealt with highways, prisons, licensing, vagrancy and non-conformity throughout the N Riding.

Sitting at Thirsk this year they ordered that:-

'No person within the North Riding shal be lycenced to keepe an alehouse but by the Justices assigned to performe the services concerninge alehouses within the division wherein the said person shall dwell, and that all other lycences granted by any other Justices otherwise shal be voyde:

All liscenced persons further to be bound with two suertyes, neither of them being alehouseskeepers, the principal in £5 and the sureties in 50s each. (The prescribed form of licence then follows, the licensee being bound) to allow no unlawful games - playing att tables, dice, cards, shoveboard, bowles - in his house;

to allow no persons of bad character, no vagrants or sturdy beggars to be received;

to keep a supply of good beer or ale, or both, and to sell at the statute rate;

to be careful that no drink or victual be supplied on the Sabboth day in time of Divine Service;

to report all seditious or defamatory language used in his house to the Justices;

to reveal any suspicion he may entertain of evil done or intended, and also to suffer no meetings, assemblies, or feasts in his house on Sundays at any time of the day.

It was also ordered for the better performance of the good and necessary lawes and statutes made for the reliefe of the poore, and for the punishinge of such persons as are declared to be rogues, vagabondes, and sturdy beggars, and for the keeping of order in alehouses, that Constables, Churchwardens, and Ale-conners within every parish shall make particular monthly certificates in manner following:

That they have none amongst them that do brew, drink, or sell without lycence, or doe take above one penny for an ale quart of their best drink, or if they have they must sett down their names and the tymes of the offence committed.

That they know of noe person that hath sitten tippling in any alehouse contrarie unto the law, or if they have...

That they know of noe vagrant begger that hath passed through their parish without punishment or if the have...
That they have noe poore that doe want any parte of their relief or if they have...

That all apprentecyes lately bound by the Overseers within the parish are inhabiting with their masters, mistresses or dames or alse they must certify the names....

1637 Birth of Edward Trotter who succeeded to Skelton estate on the death of George Trotter.


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