1788 ~ 1801


London Gazette.
The Names of those who were nominated for Sheriffs by the Lords of the Council at the Exchequer, on the Morrow of St. Martin, in the Thirtieth Year of the Reign of King George the Third, and in the Year of our Lord, 1789.
Yorkshire, –
Sir George Armytage, of Kirklees Bart.
John Wharton, of Skelton Castle,Esq;
Charles Slingsby Duncombe, of Duncombe Park, Esq;



Mr John Marley, discoverer of the Cleveland main seam of iron ore, wrote in 1856 –
I have been informed that in 1790, a gentleman from Whitby, being at Skelton, either discovered, or thought he had discovered iron ore in that estate, and sought by correspondence during that year, with the late Mr. Wharton, or his agent, to take it on lease; and again in 1798 and 1800, but the late Mr. Wharton would not listen to any proposal.
The late Mr. Rutter, land-agent, had in his possession, as recently as 1850, three original letters of this correspondence, but, which, I have not been able to see

John Wharton of Skelton Castle was returned as the MP for Beverley, beginning a 40 year association with that East Riding town.
It was to lead to his eventual financial downfall.
Beverley had the right to send 2 members to Parliament and it was a Nationwide custom to bribe officials and the electorate.
The only people allowed to vote were adult males who owned land, so called freemen, and Beverley had an above average number of these, as well as voters who lived outside the area.
It became advantageous to have more than two candidates in order to find out who could offer the most in sweeteners.
As well as making direct payments to the voters, candidates paid for such things as travel expenses, ribbons, innkeepers fees, musicians, security guards etc.
The expenditure did not end there.
The MP prior to J Wharton paid over £650, including £50 towards flagging the streets in 1786, £20 a year on coal for poor freemen, £10 per year to the master of the grammar school, £25 for the races, and 5 guineas to the Charity school, besides providing a buck and a doe for the mayor’s table.

John Wharton must have made an excellent job of this bribery as he received 908 votes from the 1,069 voters, including a high proportion of the working-class and London voters.
Wharton was an active Whig with radical views. In Parliament he was a staunch supporter of the abolition of slavery and favoured relief for Roman Catholics and constitutional and Parliamentary reform.
His resounding success in the 1790 election gained him a considerable popular following in Beverley and his overt political position led to the development of clear Whig and Tory factions in the town.
It was said by the Whig grandees:-
“It is beyond the power of imagination to conceive the popularity of Wharton here… .
Perhaps it has never happened in the History of Electioneering that out of 1,050 voters 908 should be on one side in favour of our friend and his principles.”

MARRIAGE OF JOHN WHARTON took place of at Lambton, Co Durham to Susan Mary Anne, second daughter of General John Lambton.

CASTLE DEATH – Death of Ann Stevenson, wife of the late John Hall Stevenson


At 72 High St.
In the photograph the land in front of the shop slopes away following the natural contour and considerable filling in must have taken place to create the modern road and site of the houses which now stand opposite the Chemist’s shop.

A later photograph of the Chemists shop.

The death at Thirsk of Margaret Wharton, the great aunt of John Wharton] of Skelton Castle, who inherited her fortune. She was buried in York Minster, where a memorial reads:-
In a vault under this marble are deposited the remains of margaret Wharton, daughter and co-heiress of Anthony Wharton Esq, of Gillingwood Hall in this County, who departed this life the 9th September 1791 in the 97th year of her age.
Margaret Wharton had earned a reputation for being a wealthy miser and was known as “Peg Pennyworth”, even being the subject of a farce by the same name based on her eccentricity.
It was her niece, Anne Wharton, who had married John Hall Stevenson of Skelton Castle. [see 1740]


Ann Castle of the House of Correction at Northallerton was charged with stealing at Skelton one bundle of split laths, value 2 pence, the property of John Wharton esquire, of Skelton Castle.

He lost the election in Beverley after he disagreed with some of his previous supporters over the war with France.
He was made a Captain in the North Riding of Yorkshire Yeoman Cavalry.

17th April –
The Revolution and execution of the King of France and the War with that country had caused a fear of a civil uprising in Britain and a possible invasion.
Prime Minister, Billy Pitt, proposed that the County Lord Lieutenants should form Volunteer forces and the landed Gentry and Yeomanry should create Cavalry units for home defence.
Members of the Cavalry had to be men of means, having to provide their own horse and equipment and have the time to train and be available for action in the event of an invasion.
The Revolutionary War ended with a short peace in 1801 and caused the Yeomanry to be disbanded, but the threat of Napoleon arose soon after and the Government ordered the formation of local Volunteer Units, which evolved through various names into the Territorial Force of the First World War and the Territorial Army of today.

17th November –
Demise for 21 years of land in Upleatham.
Description 1. Thomas Scott of Marsk, Yorkshire, gentleman, William Harburn of Marsk, yeoman, Jonathan Milner of Redcar ‘in the Parish of Marsk’ yeoman, Thomas Errington of Marsk, yeoman.
2. Thomas Conn of Upleatham, Yorkshire, yeoman.
Reciting that the Hon. Katherine Atherton of Hornby Castle, widow of John Atherton esquire, and one of the daughters and co heirs of Rt. Hon. John Lord Conyers deceased, purchased from George Tocketts late of Tocketts, esquire, and others, a parcel of ground in Upleatham (now divided into several closes) called Wirtch Close (13 acres) with all woods, hedges…waters…&c., the rents and profits from same to be for the relief of the poor of Marsk, Redcar and Skelton. After the death of two of these trustees, four new trustees to be appointed as by conveyance 3 June 22 James [1624].
Also reciting that said trustees have long since died and present names are parties (1).
Now parties (1) demise &c. to Thomas Conn the said close or parcel to TC for 21 years.
Rent : £4 at Pentecost and St. Martin in Winter.
Clause of re entry after 8 days arrears.
TC to have right to fell timber and use same. TC covenants that owners or occupiers of Tocketts Mills shall have and enjoy the watercourse running through the said parcel to the mill they scouring the stream as necessary.
TC to pay all charges arising out of any suits up to £10 and to maintain hedges and fences; parties (1) paying charges arising out of any suits above £10.
Signed by all parties [all use monogram seal ?TC]
Witnesses : John Harrison, Henry Newton


NEW PRIEST From this year until 1816, William Barwick became the priest at Skelton All Saints Church.

A Bill of indictment was brought against the Inhabitants of Skelton for not repairing the Kings Highway.
The Poor Law Act had made each Parish responsible for such maintenance among other things.
“From 10 July 1795 the highway has been in disrepair in the township of Skelton from the boundary of the townships of Skelton and Stanghow northward, being 2,700 yards in length and 7 yards in breadth.”

The winter of 1794 to 5 was one of the severest in living memory with hard frosts and snow from December to March.
Snow still lay on the Cleveland hills in May.
Bad weather conditions had a more serious effect on people’s lives then than today.
Most worked in agriculture and those who did not ‘live-in’ could not earn. Fuel was used up.
The fact that the country was at war with France added to the problems.
There was a shortage of corn, which drove up the price of bread and there were riots in some places.
Poaching was rife.
The landed classes had always considered that any wild life that moved across their property belonged to them.
From Norman times, and probably long before, any peasant who trespassed on the Lord’s hunting preserve was liable to harsh penalties.
In these times of dearth these were severe.
From 1760 night poachers were liable to 3 to 6 months prison with hard labour and second offenders given 6 to 12 months with a public whipping.
From 1782 to 1799 there were only 26 convictions for poaching in the N Riding of Yorkshire.
To save a family from starvation the risk was taken in Skelton.
It is recorded:-
“by October 1780 the game upon the manors of John Wharton of Kilton, Skelton and Brotton was nearly destroyed”

In 1800 new legislation made convicted poachers liable to 2 years hard labour and a whipping.
Offenders over 12 could be sent for military service.

Poachers captured. Print by H Alken 1785-1851.


William Seaton, Yeoman, late of the Parish of Skelton, was indicted for Assault and Rescue.
Richard Lynass was the Keeper of the Common Pound”, which was on Cross Green, Skelton.
He had distrained 3 asses, value 30s, belonging to Seaton, for straying in ‘Well Close’, belonging to Andrew Irvin and John Mowbray.
He was taking them to the village Pound, when Seaton assaulted him and rescued the animals. Verdict not given.


He was returned to Parliament as the MP for Beverley, coming second in the bye-election which had been caused by the death of the sitting MP.
He now stood as an Independent and was opposed by J. B. S. Morritt of Rokeby Park in the North Riding of Yorks.

15th April. –
Margaret Spencer, with previous, and Thomas Peart were charged with stealing William Thompson’s Posts and Rails. Guilty and sentenced to 3 months prison. The Skelton Society for the Prosecution of Felons had to pay £7 10s 8d in various expenses to bring this case to Court.

At two pence in the pound [0.8%] for those with incomes of more than £60 a year rising to two shillings in the pound on incomes of more than £200 a year.
Britain was at War with France and needed to raise funds. The tax lapsed in 1802 and was re-introduced in 1806.


15th July –
Ann Knaggs, a widow, was charged at the Quarter Sessions with
feloniously milking a cow, the property of Elizabeth Green, at the Parish of Skelton, on the 9th Day of May last and stealing one Gill of the same milk of the value of one halfpenny.
She was sentenced to 2 months hard labour in the Northallerton House of Correcton.

21 February –
George Dale, a butcher of Guisborough, was convicted for using a lurcher to kill game at Skelton township. Sentence not shown.

2nd September –
John Hogg, a yeoman of Skelton, was convicted for cutting down 6 alder trees likely to become timber standing on the ground of John Wharton Esquire, on the complaint of John Richardson of Skelton, Yeoman.


This was carried out by house to house enquiry, by the local Overseers of the Poor.
The population of England and Wales was estimated to be 9 million.
The population of Skelton was 700 – 317 males, 383 females.
There were 167 inhabited houses, with 180 families. 6 houses were uninhabited.
171 people worked in agriculture and 279 in trades.
In the 20 years from 1781 to 1801 there were 612 baptisms, 399 burials and 168 marriages.

1796 Churchwardens Accounts.
Is the new parson a secret tippler ?
Wardens vote to lock the Church wine in a chest.

Britain had been at war with France since 1793 and in response to Napoleon gathering an army to invade a survey of available manpower was ordered by the government.
All of Europe was in fear of Napoleon.
This was the time when the populace of Hartlepool supposedly hanged a shipwrecked monkey, thinking it was a Frenchman.
“Returns for townships in the Wapentake of Langbaurgh East under the Defence Act 38 Geo IIIc 27 and by order of the general meeting of lieutenancy 22 September 1801”
were demanded.
Three forms of schedules were despatched to parish constables and required the following information:-
Schedule 1.
Total of men between the ages of 15 and 60, those infirm or incapable of active service, those serving in volunteer corps or armed associations, aliens, Quakers, persons who from age, infancy, infirmity or other cause would probably be incapable of removing themselves.
Schedule 2.
Number of stock, oxen, cows, young cattle and colts, sheep and goats, pigs, horses, waggons and carts, corn mills and the quantity of corn they could mill in 24 hours, number or ovens and the quantity of bread they could bake in 24 hours, the average amounts of dead stock – wheat, oats, barley, beans and peas, hay, straw, potatoes and quantities of flour and meal.

Schedule 3.
Number of persons between the ages of 15 and 60 willing to serve and in what capacity; on horseback or on foot.
How armed; swords or pistols for cavalry, firelocks or pikes for foot.
Number of persons between the ages of 16 and 60 willing to act as pioneers or labourers.
The implements they can bring – felling axes, pick axes, spades, shovels, bill hooks, saws or other instruments they can bring.
Number of persons between the ages of 15 and 60 willing to act as servants with cattle, as servants with teams and as guides

Napoleon’s threatened invasion of Britain.

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