Mounds in foreground are thought to have been 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.
The first profitable mine in Yorkshire was opened in 1603 at Spring Bank, Slapewath, then part of Skelton -
This was the project of John Atherton, joint owner by marriage of a third part of the Skelton Estate.
Britain at this time was an Agricultural nation and Wool was its chief export.
Alum was used in the dyeing process as the setting agent and was also needed in the tanning of hides.
It was therefore a highly valued product, which up to this time had been imported.
Rich rewards seemed to beckon those who could create a home industry.
The process was complex.
The alum bearing rock was quarried, broken up and built into large clamps with alternating layers of wood and these piles would be ignited and a controlled burning would last for weeks.
It needed many tons of shale to produce 1 ton of alum.
1950's Photograph showing possible Alum spoil mounds.
Track leading off first right is old Stackgarth Lane from old stone
The calcined shale was then steeped in water-filled stone troughs until a certain specific gravity had been reached.
[Tested for, the story goes, by floating an egg in the liquid].
The liquid was then run off and boiled in large pans heated by coal for 24 hours and mixed with an alkali, obtained from urine or seaweed.
[Thomas Chaloner of Guisborough is reputed to have sold his personal urine for one penny a firkin, which was about 8 gallons. How often he made a penny is not recorded].
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.
Many legends survive, but how this long and involved chemical process was discovered in these times is not known and probably a result of much trial and error.
It is reported that the workers suffered terrible conditions - the heaps of shale gave off poisonous sulphorous fumes and at times their wages of 6 pence a day were often withheld or given in half rotten meat and corn.
The alum workers were described at one point as:-
'poor snakes, tattered and naked, ready to starve for want of food and clothes.'
Other Alum mines were eventually opened by the Skelton Estate, notably at Coombe Bank, Boosbeck and Selby Hagg between Skelton and Brotton and were worked on and off during the next two centuries.
Most successful were the ones on the coast which did not have the cost of transporting fuel and the finished product for shipment. The Alum workings at Hummersea, Loftus were worked well into the 19th Century.
Local folk lore has it that the extensive quarries and the round mounds seen above Skelton High St are evidence of alum having been processed here.
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. "
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
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 one third of 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
"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.
1613 April - At the Quarter Sessions held at Thirsk Robert Tose [Toes], curate of Skelton in Cleveland, was charged with:-
"keeping an alehouse there, contrarie to the statute in such case made and provided".
1617 Death of John Atherton, husband of Katharine Conyers, who owned one third of the Skelton estate.
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, near present day Hagg farm.
1625 - Death of James I and accession of Charles I.
Death of Katharine, wife of John Atherton. Her only son had been called John Skelton [to distinguish him from a half brother] and he had pre-deceased Katharine in 1613 leaving a 4 year old daughter, Anne. So Katharine's heir was this Anne, who in 1625, though only 16, was married to Sir William Pennyman, Baronet. Eventually in 1656 the whole Skelton Estate was acquired by the Trotter family.
|Death of Henry Trotter of Skelton, 14 years after inheriting one third part of 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
|poor farmers at racked rents, their landlords not dwelling
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-stone 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
The Emerson Family Tomb in old Skelton Church grounds.
[Photograph kindly contributed by Josie Bland of Skelton, shown here, a descendant of the Emersons]
1634 5th July - INQUISITION INTO THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM EMERSON OF HOLLYBUSH FARM, SKELTON.
The Will of William Emerson's father, Philip is on the webpage for 1583.
William died intestate and the Law required that an Inquisition be held to establish the right of his son, William E Emerson to inherit.
10 Charles. I. p22, n. 150.
Inquisition taken at Stokesley, in the County of York, 5th July, 1634 before John Batte, esq, escheator, after the death of William Emerson, late of Skelton, by the oath of Joseph Rogers, etc, etc, who say that William E. was seised in his demesne [recognised as legal owner] as of fee [but held of a feudal superior, i.e. the King.]
1 messuage [dwelling house], 1 croft [land around it to grow produce], 1 bovate [about 15 acres], meadow and pasture, in Skelton.
1 bovate of land, meadow and pasture there, purchased of Rowland Wilson and John Havelocke.
1 messuage, 1 croft, 1 bovate of land, meadow and pasture, there, to the late dissolved monastery of Gisbroughe belonging.
1 messuage, 1 close containing 1 a. adn 2 bovates of land, meadow and pasture there, lately purchased of Janie Westland.
1 messuage, 1 toft [land around it], 1 croft and 1 bovate of land, meadow and pasture, lately purchased of Thomas Darcy and Conyers Darcy.
1 rood of pasture lying in a large close called the Mildeltes, within the lordship of "Upletham", and pasture for 18 beasts in the said close.
All the said premises in Skelton, except those purchased of the Darcys, are held of the King as of his manor of East Greenwich, in the County of Kent, in free socage, and not in chief, and are worth per annum, clear, 15 shillings.
The said excepted premises are held of the King in chief by knights service, and are worth per annum, clear, 4 shillings.
The premises in the said pasture, called Mildeltes are held of the heirs of the late Lord Conyers as of his manor of Marske by knights service and are worth per annum, clear, 2 shillings.
William E died 29th September last past. William E. is his sone and next heir and was then aged 34 years.
Click here to open Emmerson Family Tree. Use scroll bars to pan around.
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
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.