SKELTON - IN - CLEVELAND
IN HISTORY

1713 ~ 1736


Queen Anne 5 Guineas.
1714 - The death of Queen Anne and the accession of George I.

10th April 1716 - "William Knaggs, Sr, Skelton; William Knaggs Jr, Skelton; John Knaggs, Skelton.
These persons before named were convicted as Popish recusants att the generall Quarter Sessions of the Peace holden at Thirske the tenth day of April in the second year of the reigne of his Soveraigne Lord King George in pursuance of an Act of Parliament passed in the first year of his Majestie's reigne intitled an Act for the further security of his Majestie's Person and Government and the Succession of the Crown in the heirs of the late Princess Sophia being Protestants and for extinguising the hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales and his open and secrett abettors.

Roman Catholics had been seen as a security threat since Elizabethan times and were subject to penalties.
The first Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 had been supported not just by Scots, but some Catholics of Northern England and their small force had reached as far as Preston before being dispersed.


George I Halfpenny.
Shortly after this William Knaggs is recorded again in the Register of Papist Estates in which he is described as owning land in Danby and Skelton, with a mortgage on property in Skelton of £60. His Wife, Isabel and son John are named as his heirs.

1718 £425 [at least £58,000 in 2015] was given to Skelton Church to augment its income by the purchase of Sadler Hills estate, [land between Boosbeck and Margrove Park.
The donors were -
£100 from Mrs Elizabeth Trotter, widow of John Trotter of Skelton Castle.
£20 from Geoffrey Lawson.
£20 from the Rev Mr Pemberton.
£20 from Mrs Catherine Bower, widow of William Bower.
£20 from Mr John Trotter, Merchant.

£10 from Alderman Perrot of York.
£10 from Ralph Lowther Esq.
£25 from Rev Thomas Castley, Curate of Skelton with Brotton.
A further £200 was obtained from "Queen Anne's Bounty", a National fund that had been set up in 1704 as a Tax on the Church of England clergy to aid the poorest of them.

9th December - The Will of George Hutton, of Fogga, Skelton. Husbandman.
[Fogga Farm was located in present day North Skelton where the Ironstone Mine was eventually opened in 1872. Called "Old Fogga" on the 1856 Ordnance Survey Map.]
Sons George Hutton, John Hutton.
Daughters Martha Clay, Ellis Brotton, Anne Adam.
Grandchildren George Hutton, Elizabeth Hutton.
Sister Ellis Bolton.
Grandchildren John Hutton, Jane Hutton, Dorothy Hutton & Anne Hutton, John Tooes, Elizabeth Coates.
Wife Ellis Hutton.
Witnesses: Robert Lakeland, Joseph Simpson, Robert Troatles, Frank Duck.

1725 - THE POOR OF SKELTON.
[Information kindly contributed by Dorothy Harris of Saltburn, N Yorks.]
From a Parish Register dated 1722 to 1775:-
"Given to ye poor of Skelton money ye year 1725, Good Fryday, Easter and Whitsuntide."
JOHN TIPLADY junior - 7 pence x 2.
REBEKAH SUTHERAN - 7 pence x 2 more 1 shilling.
MARGARET SMITH - 7 pence.
MARY BROTTON - 7 pence x 2.
ELIZABETH DUCK [crossed out]
RALPH POTTER - 7 pence.
MARY MASON - 7 pence x 2.
ALICE BUCK - 7 pence x 2.
ELIZABETH ANN NICKILSON - 6 pence x 2.
MARY CARTER - 9 pence.
ALICE SMITH - 9 pence.
JUDE LAUTON - 4 pence.
ANN SAWER - 9 pence.
ELIZABETH ROGERS - 9 pence.
JOHN COATES - 9 pence.
CAT. LYNAS - 9 pence.
GEORGE COALE - 6 pence x 2.
DOROTHY CARTER - 9 pence x 2.
ELIZABETH RICHARDSON - 9 pence x 2.
JANE WILSON [crossed out]
ROBERT ELLIS - 9 pence x 2.
ROBERT BUCK [crossed out].
ELIZABETH MASON - 9 pence x 2.
------- LAMB - 9 pence.
Given at ye Church - 11 shillings and fourpence and 1 shilling and sixpence.
To Mosam [Moorsholm] poor 3 shillings and twopence.
To WILLIAM FLINTAF - 2 shillings.
To THOMAS PORRET - 6 shillings.
To WILLIAM FLINTAF 1 pound.
Given at ye Church - 1 pound 9 shillings.
To ye poor at Mosam - 1 shilling. To a poor woman - sixpence.
to a poor man - sixpence.
Each Parish had the responsibility to care for its own Poor and Infirm at this time, as demanded by the Elizabethan Poor Law,
Money was collected from land and property owners by the elected Overseers of the Poor and distributed acccording to perceived need.

George II Halfpenny.
The above payments would have been in addition and drawn from the various Skelton Charities that had been bequeathed.

1727 - Nicholas Lacy appointed gamekeeper to Lawson Trotter, Esq. for the Manor of Skelton Castle.

1727 - The death of George I and the accession of George II.

19 years after inheriting Skelton estate Lawson Trotter, who was unmarried, sold the estate to the husband of his sister and heiress Catharine.

The new owner was a wealthy Durham merchant named John Hall.

There was also a new priest at Skelton Church, George Flower, who remained here for three years.

1730 - The new priest at Skelton Church was Thomas Tankred.

1733 - Bastardy Act ordered that all fathers of illegitimate children shall be committed to gaol until they gave security to indemnify the parish from expense.
See the Parish Rate Book for 1822 on for lists of responsible fathers.

The new priest at Skelton All Saints Church, from this year until 1760, was Thomas Castley.


John Hall Stevenson of Skelton Castle.
1718 - 1785.
Painted in 1740 by Philipe Mercier.

Death of John Hall, 6 years after purchasing Skelton estate. He was buried in Crossgate Church, Durham and was succeeded by his son, also called John, who was only 15 years of age at the time.

John Hall [he changed his surname to Hall-Stevenson in 1740 on his marriage to Ann Stevenson and receipt of a large dowry] went up to Jesus College, Cambridge University, where he befriended Laurence Sterne, who later achieved fame as the author of 'Tristram Shandy' and 'A Sentimental Journey'.
He left Cambridge without a degree, but well versed in Latin, French and classical literature and like most landed gentry of the day he made the European tour.
On his return to Skelton Stevenson lived the life of the dilettante play-boy of the time. He was not attracted to the usual field-sport pastimes of the landed gentry and seems to have been a rather self-centred wimp. He collected a library of Rabelaisian type, mildly obscene literature.
He attempted to write in the same manner himself, but his self-estimation was greater than his works, parts of which seem little better than banal smut.
He occasionally visited London and made the acquaintance of John Wilkes [of satirical and freedom-of-the-Press fame].
Three letters sent in 1762 and written in a familiar tone from him to Wilkes survive. He also claimed a friendship with Horace Walpole and Rousseau.
In 1760 he published “Lyric Epistle” dedicated to his friend Laurence Sterne on the success of his book “Tristram Shandy” and his reception in London. Stevenson's offering included two lyric epistles,‘To my Cousin Shandy on his coming to Town' and ‘To the Grown Gentlewomen the Misses of ****’ The poet, Thomas Gray, deemed them to be “absolute nonsense”.
There followed “Fables for Grown Gentlemen” in 1761 and “Crazy Tales” in 1762. These two works are about the meetings of the Demoniacs at Skelton Castle and had some popularity as second and third reprints were made.
His friend, Horace Walpole, judged Stevenson to possess "a vast deal of original humour and wit". The poet and author, Tobias Smollett in his Critical Review trashed the books.


Laurence Sterne.
1713 to 1768.


Stevenson responded with abuse for Smollett and his associates in 'A Nosegay and a Simile for the Reviewers' and 'Two Lyrical Epistles, or Margery the Cook Maid, to the Critical Reviewers.' Hall-Stevenson's 'A Sentimental Dialogue between two Souls in the palpable Bodies of an English Lady of Quality and an Irish Gentleman" in 1768 was seen as a parody of his friend Sterne's Tristram Shandy.

Hall-Stevenson also wrote satirically on politics. He denounced all politicians, with “A Pastoral Cordial; or an Anodyne Sermon, preached before their Graces Newcastle and Devonshire” in 1763.
“ A Pastoral Puke; a second Sermon preached before the people called Whigs; by an Independent” in 1764.
“Makarony Fables, with the new Fable of the Bees” in 1787.
“Lyric Consolations, with the Speech of Alderman Wilkes delivered in a Dream”in 1768.
“An Essay upon the King's Friends” in 1776.

Hall-Stevenson gathered round him a circle of reputedly "gay squires and clerics" who called themselves the "Demoniacs".
Skelton Castle for a time became the venue for boisterous and, for that time, erotic parties with much over-eating and drinking.
It was said - "He kept a full-spread board,and wore down the steps of his cellar."
Among the "demoniacs" was an irreverent Reverend, Robert Lascelles, who through the patronage of Hall-Stevenson later became the Vicar of Gilling near Richmond. He was nicknamed Pantagruel or Panty.
Another was one Zachary Moore of nearby Lofthouse, who inherited wealth from his family's ownership of alum mines. It was said he shod his horses with silver shoes and spent his life in riotous living with noble friends, who "assisted him in the laborious work of getting to far end of a great fortune."

Chariot racing on Saltburn sands.
Zachary sold the Loftus family estate of the Steward-Moores to the Dundas family of Marske Hall [later Lord Zetland] and ended up in comparative poverty in a minor post in Gibraltar, arranged by one of his friends.
Other Demoniacs were Hall-Stevenson’s brother, Colonel Hall, a Colonel Lee, an architect named Pringle, and a schoolmaster, Andrew Irvine of Kirkleatham.
David Garrick, the actor is said to have been among the occasional guests.
“Crazy Tales” is about the parties at Skelton Castle and puts into the mouth of each Demoniac a more or less obscene story.

LAURENCE STERNE.
The most famous visitor, of course, was Sterne himself. He became in 1738 the clergyman for Sutton in the Forest, 8 miles from York, and he also had duties at York Minster. Despite this he had a reputation as a lady's man and made frequent visits to his old friend at Skelton and joined in the revelries.
John Hall Stevenson had many eccentricities and used to take to his bed whenever the cold east wind blew off the sea, which in Skelton is often. It is said that Sterne, to fool his friend into activity, was in the habit of paying the stable boy to climb to the weather cock and fasten it in a south westerly direction.


Illustration from "Crazy Tales"
Among their pastimes was "chariot racing", when they competed in their chaises along the several mile stretch of flat sand between Saltburn and Redcar. The character Eugenius in Sterne's Tristram Shandy is supposedly based on Stevenson.
A hundred years after Sterne's death, Skelton still held his memory, an area near the wood above Skelton Mill being called Sterne's Seat and the wood behind is Mount Shandy.
Did Sterne obtain his hero's name from the wood or was the wood called after the book or is there any connection at all.
A.E Pease in his book "The Cleveland Hounds" appeared to think so:-
"Mount Shandy, called so from the fact that Sterne, who was a frequent visitor at Skelton Castel, wrote Tristram Shandy in the woods about this hill."
[Laurence Sterne's remains now rest against the South wall of St. Michaels Church in Coxwold, N. Yorkshire, where he served as vicar. But they arrived there by a strange route.
He died in London and was originally interred at St. George's in Hanover Square. His corpse was dug up by the "bodysnatchers" who earned money selling their wares for anatomical lectures.
It is said that someone recognised Sterne and his body was hastily returned to St. George's.

Drawing of Skelton Castle made by Samuel Buck in the 1720's
[This image and the picture of John Hall Stevenson below have been kindly contributed by Dr Tony Nicholson, Lecturer in History at Teesside University.]
In 1969 St George's churchyard was going to be "developed" and the Laurence Sterne trust transferred his remains along with the original headstone to St Michaels, Coxwold.]

The following lines which were on the front of a spring which supplied the castle were most probably Stevenson's -

Leap from thy mossy cavern'd bed,
Hither thy prattling waters bring
Blandusia's Muse shall crown thy head
And make thee too a sacred spring

Sadly, no one has ever found a picture of old Skelton Castle, which was pulled down and rebuilt at the end of the eighteenth century.
Some have suggested that the illustration for the frontispiece of Stevenson's "Crazy Tales" is a true representation of it.
The drawing made by Samuel Buck in the 1720's suggests that it was similar. However, it looks like no other


Sterne's Well.
It has been called a Well. but the water supply was actually a spring of pure water which no doubt supplied the Castle and local people and had done for centuries. At some later date the water outlet was moved to a trough some yards away by the roadside, which still stands. The website owner remembers filling a bucket there in the early 1950's when, for some reason, the mains were switched off. The spring still flows today and has been diverted to a pipe that allows the water to run into the stream at the right, down by the side of the Castle, which used to form the moat, and thence to Skelton Beck.

[The collage has been made from photographs kindly contributed by Chris Twigg of the "Hidden Teesside" website. Click here to visit. ]


Tristram Shandy and Sterne's Signature.
Norman castle and, like the surrounding scenery, some features could be the creation of the illustrator's imagination in line with the title of the book.

The map of 1773, which follows, proves that there was no moat at this time in front of the Castle. Hall-Stevenson considered major restoration work to Skelton Castle, but did not have the funds for such a massive project and was warned against it by Sterne -
"But what art thou meditating with axes and hammers ?
It may be very wise to do this — but 'tis wiser to keep one's money in one's pocket, whilst there are wars without and rumours of wars within."

On the other hand another of Sterne's letters, written on the 4th of September 1764, shows that Hall-Stevenson was by no means short of funds and that the source was the local production of alum:-
"If you can get to Scarborough, do - a man who makes six tons of alum a week may do anything".

The following lines by Hall-Stevenson are said to describe the condition of the building at the time.

1857 Map
showing Sterne's Seat and Mount Shandy

There is a castle in the north
Seated upon a swampy clay,
At present but of little worth
In latter times it had its day.
This ancient castle is called CRAZY,
Whose mouldering walls a moat environs,
Which moat goes heavily and lazy,
...A turret also you may note
Its glory vanished like a dream
Transform'd into a pigeon cote
Nodding beside the sleepy stream
From whence, by steps with moss o'ergrown
You mount upon a terrace high,
Where stands that heavy pile of stone
Irregular and all awry.
If many a buttress did not reach
A kind and salutary hand
Did not encourage and beseech
The terrace and the house to stand,
Left to themselves and at a loss
They'd tumble down into the foss.
Over the castle stands a tower,
Threatening destruction every hour....

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