The Winskill Farms - 400 years of history

Thomas C. Lord and Michael Slater
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

Winskill in the Parish of Langcliffe in Ribblesdale is an ancient settlement site. There are Iron Age and Romano-British remains and a burial cairn on a prominent high point in Crutchin Close above Stainforth - crutch means cairn. Winskill is sited high above the present Langcliffe village, and was possibly founded in early medieval times. The land was gifted (about 1240) by Elias, Lord of the Manors of Giggleswick and Langcliffe, to Sawley Abbey which held it up to 1536 when the smaller abbeys were dissolved by Henry VIII.

In 1536 Sir Arthur Darcy bought Langcliffe Manor from the King and Sir Arthur passed it on to one of his seven sons, Nicholas. Financial problems led to Nicholas having a large loan from Henry Billingsley, alderman and later Lord Mayor of London. The Manor of Langcliffe was security for the loan while Henry Billingsley took (’farmed’) the rents from 1585. In 1591 Nicholas Darcy with Henry Billingsley arranged the sale of Langcliffe Manor to the tenants. The seven messuages (farmsteads) at Winskill and Cowside were sold for £537-12-9 for a 500 year lease (essentially the freehold) dating from 1585 when Darcy had farmlet the manor to Henry Billingsley.

The extended family of Fosters were probably tenants of Sawley Abbey over a long period and they got together to purchase the Winskill properties. They then divided the properties and sought to sell to other parties to recover their capital in return for long leases.

For Winskill, four messuages were purchased (see map) and a case can be made for allocation as follows:

Gyles Foster Block A Higher Winskill Thomas Foster elder and Richard his son Block B Lower Winskill Richard Foster younger Block C Lower Winskill Thomas Foster younger Block D Upper Winskill

(PRO C54/1408 CP 3572 and PC/LAC 13 at Northallerton NYCRO; Lord6 of 1637 notes four messuages at Winskill)

The genealogy of the many families involved in this story is very complex and speculative in places. The history of the other three messuages at Cowside was reported in the 2007 Journal. The Winskill story is notable for the way in which property passes from one family to another by way of inheritance and marriage and the eventual accumulation of High and Low Winskill into the hands of one man in the 19th C.

Property ownership and inheritance

The private collection of deeds on which this story is based runs from 1591 to 1893. In addition information has been obtained from indentures, maps and wills in public archives. The system of owning property was not that of today. The Crown was ultimate owner and the nobility and wealthy were awarded or bought lands from which they collected rents from tenants holding leases of various types. In cases of very long leases of hundreds of years the rents became nominal, such as peppercorns and red roses, and often became defunct or made so by the Statute of Uses of 1536. Campbell (1942) quotes from a 1607 text as follows:

1607 .... when freeholders dwell out of the mannors whereof they hold and pay unto their Lords but a small acknowledgement as a rose, a pepper corne, a jyllyflower, or some such trifle, or are to do some service at times, whereof in many yeares has been no use .... they have not been looked for neither have their suites been continued for a long time inso much as they and their Tenures have grown out of memorie, and their services out of use.

(M.Campbell, 1942. The English Yeoman, publ. Yale University Press)

Until 1660 land held under tenure descended automatically to the eldest son and heir and ways around this were developed. (Farm and cottage inventories of mid-Essex 1635-1749, 1969. Steer, F.W., publ. Chichester). A feoffment to uses of a will was a normal practice in which the use of an estate was vested in a group of feoffees (or trustees) appointed to carry out the deceased person’s wishes - this was to get round the rigid common law rule which excluded younger sons from inheriting any share of real property. (Cornwall, 1974). Several of the Winskill indentures involve trustees. In some cases the property was sold but with a condition of giving a long lease to the current occupier and possibility of reconveyance to the seller in due course.

The moor and pasture land

In 1591 the sale of the seven messuages included 206 acres 2 roods and 4 poles of pasture ‘beginning at a certain close called the Purse and so following the wall and ditch to the west end of one great close of pasture called Henside and from thence following the south side of Hensyde near to a yeate of Hensyde close called the locke green yeate and from thence now to a certain close called Robert Saylebank calf close at Cowside aforesaid and from the same calf close to a certain close called the Cow close and so to the corner of wynscale ynge as measure shall afford the same’ . (WYL 163/552).

Purse close is thought to be at the head of a much larger later medieval walled enclosure park (identified by dry stone wall features) running from Stainforth to Higher Winskill. It is now called Goose Scar (Tithe number 248). Higher Winskill (across the township boundary) may then be the uppermost set of buildings connected with livestock management of animals in this Stainforth park. From the Purse one then follows the lane wall going east to the edge of Winskill Stones and on to Cowside as described above.

The individual farms at Winskill

In January 1592 there were agreements by the group of purchasers in the 1591 sale document to transfer individual properties to the occupiers. (WYL 163/552) (Lord1).

The identification of the four separate holdings at Winskill is best started with Gyles Foster and Block A since most of the named fields of 1592 can be matched with Tithe map and Apportionment List names of 1841/4. Area measurements are on the basis of 40 poles per rood, 4 roods per acre but customary (local) acres are used; Statute acres were defined in the 1700s. The estate maps of William Dawson of 1751 and of Betty Starkie of 1801 both show that a customary acre was 1.62 times larger than a Statute acre in the Langcliffe village area. (ZXC, NYCRO)

Block A Gyles Foster (Higher Winskill)
15921841/4owner 1841Tithe numberarp
NetheryngeNether IngA. Stackhouse2373329
OveryngeOver IngA. Stackhouse238336
ParckheadePark HeadA. Stackhouse2471110
one parrocke
(n. side of barn)
ParrockA. Stackhouse2450136
CakerscarCow ScarA. Stackhouse2391137
CrolthonecloseCrutching CloseA. Stackhouse2364323
little closeSmall ParrockA. Stackhouse2350232
Total 16.58 Statute acres equivalent to 10.23 customary acres @ 1.62 ratio. cf. 10.17 customary acres in sale document.

Block B Thomas Foster elder and son Richard (Lower Winskill old house and barn)
15921841/4owner 1841/1850Tithe numberarp
Bothom Close Bottom Close W. Foster 222 3 3 28
Parrock (n. of barn) Little Carrs Scar W. Foster 231 0 2 12
Little Hagg Haggs W. Foster 213 1 0 16
13 of Fell Close North Scar Top W. Foster 224 1 3 5
Bottom Close Top W. Foster 225 0 1 33
12 Somerscale Close Farmost Pasture W. Foster 212 2 2 6
Total 10.375 Statute acres equivalent to 6.40 customary acres @ 1.62 ratio. cf. 6.07 customary acres in sale document.

Block C Richard Foster younger (Lower Winskill)
15921841/4owner 1841/1850Tithe numberarp
Close under Cakerscar Great Carrs Scar W. Foster 233 1 2 3
Rabbit W. Foster 232 0 0 37
lytle close Croft before door W. Foster 226 0 3 39
the feild Great Meadow W. Foster 221 4 1 26
(Higher) Stack Bottom W. Foster 220 2 0 38
Stackbotham and
hagge (and house)
Little Stack Bottom W. Foster 215 1 1 5
Haggs Brow W. Foster 214 1 3 24
23 Fell Close West Scar Top W. Foster 230 1 3 5
East Scar Top W. Foster 229 2 2 1
12 Summerscale Close Far End Meadow W. Foster 216 2 0 27
Purse/Piked Hill Goose Scar W. Foster 248 2 0 3
Intack Little Intack W. Foster 249 0 3 11
Total 20.87 State acres equivalent to 12.88 customary acres @ 1.62.

Block D Thomas Foster younger
15921841/4Tithe numberarp
Carrs Scar 240 0 2 27
Rake Scar 218 0 2 30
Near Garth Nook 241 0 3 27
Great Field 219 2 1 0
Garth Nook 217 5 1 8
Middle Meadow 202 5 2 39
Far Meadow 201 4 0 12
Paddock 203 0 0 34
Total 19.86 Statute acres equivalent to 12.26 acres customary @ 1.62.

The history of Block A (Gyles Foster) (Higher Winskill)

After the 1592 sale the next event was the death of Gyles in 1604. His will of 1602 requested 5 shillings to the poor of the parish and legacies to family members. His son Richard was a clothworker in the city of London and was paid his filial due. Gyles’ wife and son Thomas were named as executors but Thomas died by drowning in 1605 so Margaret the widow retained the tenement.

In 1608 Margaret indented with Henry Foster of Winskill who had married Gyles’ daughter Jane. Block A plus a parcel in Brownbank Close was transferred to friends in trust for the use of Henry and Jane. Their daughter Agnes married Anthony Foster of Rathmell. In 1668 Anthony and Agnes his wife (with a daughter Jane who married John Ibbitson) passed the inherited property via trustees to their daughter Jane “in consideration of the love and affection they bear” (that is, at no cost).

By 1677 widowed Agnes had moved from Rathmell to Stainforth. She made an indenture with William Paley of Stainforth and Thomas Clapham of Stackhouse. She transferred the holding to these two on trust for the benefit of grandson James Ibbitson and the children of William Paley (who married Isabel Foster, daughter of Agnes) and of Thomas Clapham (who married Alice Foster, presumed to be a daughter also).

William Paley became owner after Agnes’ death. The Parish Register shows £2-10s paid by William Paley for his mother in-law Agnes Foster ‘according to a late Act for burying in woollens’ ( a measure to support the woollen industry).

William Paley and Isabel had nine children. The sons and daughters sold the land to William Stackhouse of Stackhouse in 1696, for £200. In 1704 William Stackhouse mortgaged the property to Christopher his brother for £120 at 6% interest for two years. A conveyance of 1707 notes that William Stackhouse has transferred a parcel taken off ground called the Intack to Richard Clapham. After walling this was to provide a way leading from Richard Clapham’s ground called the Intack to his ground called Goasker. William sold to Thomas his elder son for £60 in 1723.

William is mentioned in 1728 in a quitclaim of the right to a seat in the parish church of Giggleswick purchased from Edmund Saunders or his father from Richard Clapham of Winskill and formerly enjoyed as an easement to the messuage at Winskill where William Stackhouse then lived. (NYCRO ZXF 1/6/345). The property passed from William down through the family to John Stackhouse who bought the lease of Low Winskill, Block C, from Bernard Preston in 1793 for £920. John’s son Anthony left a will in 1860. His sister Elizabeth married William Foster who owned Blocks B and C.

At the time of the Tithe Apportionment of 1841/4 Anthony Stackhouse (great great grandson of William) was in possession as owner. Anthony purchased Low Winskill, Blocks B and C, from the estate of William Foster (deceased) in 1860, just before Anthony died, thus bringing Blocks A, B and C, High and Low Winskill together. Anthony died in 1860 and the property passed to Thomas Stackhouse. Then in 1893 reconveyance of Low and High Winskill to John Stackhouse, a son of Anthony, finally took place.

The history of Block B (Thomas Foster elder and son Richard)

After the purchase in January 1592 Thomas Foster and his son recovered their capital by selling to William and Stephen Armitstead (of Rathmell and Cappleside respectively) for £30 in October 1592 and ensuring a lease for the remainder of the 500 years and possible reconveyance to Thomas and Richard. (WYL 163/553). Then in November 1592 William and Stephen agreed to own half each of the property and to share the rental income of 40 shillings a year and a fine or charge of 40s at the change of every tenant. (WYL 163/554).

Richard Foster married Alice and Christopher was their eldest son. Alice transferred the lease to Christopher, still paying 40s a year rent. Christopher paid his mother one penny a year at Pentecost. In a deed of 1649 Christopher passed the holding to Samuel Foster (school master of Langcliffe, his brother?), still liable to the 40s rent, but now payable to William Foster of Langcliffe Hall and William Armitstead of Rathmell.

In 1652 Samuel and his son Richard Foster (of Baildon) passed the property to Alice Clapham, widow of Richard, late of Winskill, for £76. The widowed Alice Clapham then married Thomas Armitstead in 1656 (both of Winskill). In 1686 we find that Thomas Armitstead sold to John his son for £80 and 40s rent is now due to Josias Dawson of Langcliffe Hall. This had come about because William Foster’s daughter Mary married Josias Dawson of Halton Gill in 1646.

Next, in 1739 John Armitstead for £132 - 10 - 00 sold to John Preston with 40s rent due to William Dawson of Langcliffe Hall (Josias’ grandson). John’s son Bernard Preston inherited and he sold the lease in 1793 to John Stackhouse for £920. John bequeathed the estate to his daughter Elizabeth who married William Foster. William Foster, solicitor of Bowerley in Langcliffe, was owner by 1841 and died bankrupt in 1859. The Bill of Sale shows ‘A farm, called Low Winskill’ which was bought by Anthony Stackhouse of Settle, gentleman, for £1818. Anthony Stackhouse devised the Winskill estate to his son Thomas Stackhouse. Mary Swale of Langcliffe Hall had rights over Low Winskill and High Winskill because of a mortgage loan on Low Winskill.

Thomas Stackhouse died in 1877 and Mary Swale died in 1879, with this mortgage loan still outstanding. The mortgage debt passed to Charles Alured Lambert Swale of Ingfield, Settle. Then in 1893 reconveyance of Low and High Winskill to John Stackhouse, a son of Anthony, took place, he having paid off the loan to Barbara Swale. Thomas Stackhouse was then in possession of Blocks A, B and C in 1893.

The history of Block C (Richard Foster younger)

Richard, son of Gyles Foster was probably in London in 1602 but must have returned a little later to arrange his son’s marriage. A marriage settlement was made in 1607 between Richard Foster of Winskill and Robert Carr of Stackhouse for Richard’s elder son Thomas (perhaps only 15 or 16 years old) to marry Katherine Carr. The land associated with the settlement, Block C, was placed in trust. The will of Richard of Settle (1626) who died in 1629 noted that he had already passed his estate at Winskill to feoffees in trust for his son Thomas.

By 1662 Robert Lawkland had possession. The holding was then transferred to Nicholas Bullocke of Tosside for £225. Nicholas Bullocke had to pay a yearly rent of one peppercorn at the usual feast days if it was demanded by the Chief Lord, presumably the Clifford family. Nicholas also had to let the current tenant remain for nearly a year to get his hay and straw before Nicholas could plough, sow or fence the land. The present house at Low Winskill has datestone NBCB 1675 referring to Nicholas Bullock.

In 1699 Nicholas Bullocke of Boustagill sold to his son Thomas Bullocke of Winskill, still subject to one peppercorn rent to the Chief Lord. A few years later in 1707 Thomas Bullocke of Settle and John Battersby of Boustagill sold the lease for £80 to Lawrence Bullocke of Hunslet (Leeds), Thomas’ son, but only for half the property. It was divided into two parts. One half was sold to John Bullogh of Manningham, Bradford, Thomas’s brother, for £80. John Bullogh then in 1709 sold to his brother’s son Lawrence for £80 the other half of the property. Thus Lawrence held the whole property in 1709.

In 1717 Lawrence Bullocke (Bullogh) of Hunslet Layne in Leeds sold the lease to Thomas Clapham of Bradford, Clerk, for £173-4s-6d. Thomas Clapham was the son of Thomas Clapham of Winskill and Alice Foster (widow, of Winskill) and was headmaster at Bradford Grammar School and Vicar. (Cudworth,W., Round About Bradford). He attended Giggleswick School and may have been vicar of Burnsall before going to Bradford. In his will of 1718 Thomas Clapham was said to have possessed several messuages at Winskill. His will required his trustees to sell all his property to discharge a large debt and to support his wife and other relatives. Part of the property now called Lower Winskill was purchased by Thomas Preston schoolmaster in Bradford for £201-1s-0d and another part by William Stackhouse (who married Thomas’s sister Alice Clapham) for £490.

Thomas Preston sold Block C, referred to as Lower Winskill again, for £190 to John Preston of Malham in 1725. Meanwhile Block B had descended via Alice Clapham, late wife of Richard. By 1739 John Preston was in possession of Blocks B and C. His son Bernard Preston of Lower Trainhouse then sold the lease in 1793 to John Stackhouse for £920, the then current occupier. The will of John Stackhouse of 1828 bequeathed to his daughter Elizabeth. The property then went to grand-daughter Ann Stackhouse, the daughter of her son Anthony.

Elizabeth married William Foster of Settle (1838 or 9). They raised a mortgage on Low Winskill of £1300 in 1839, from Mary Swale of Langcliffe Hall. In 1844 William got a further loan of £400. These are the first signs of William’s financial downfall and the eventual sale of Blocks B and C to Anthony Stackhouse, to bring Blocks A, B and C together in 1860.

The property passed to Thomas Stackhouse who was in possession of Blocks A, B and C in 1893. Then in 1893 reconveyance of Low and High Winskill to John Stackhouse took place.

The history of Block D (Thomas Foster younger)

William Foster of Winskill (died 1587) left a will leaving the title and tenant right of his tenements and his part of Langcliffe Mill to Thomas his elder son (Thomas Foster younger in 1592). Thomas married Margareta. William their elder son inherited the property. William paid tax in 1628 of 10s 8d on an assessment of £4. William’s daughter Mary (who came to live at Langcliffe Hall) married Josias Dawson which explains why in 1841/4 and 1860 Frederic and Revd. Henry Dawson were owners of the holding.

The Upper Winskill old house had the initials AC 1650? (Alice Clapham?) inscribed on plaster upstairs but it is now destroyed. The associated barn (now converted to a house) has a date on a stone corbel which was under a roof beam - ITC 1659 (Isabell(?) or J (?) and Thomas Clapham (?). It is possible that his wife was Isabell but this cannot be proved due to the absence of Parish Register information 1640 to 1653. The first born child was perhaps Isabell in 1654. There is also a stone corbel marked IS (or JS) with no date, which might relate to one of the Stackhouse family. The Hearth Tax of 1672 shows Thomas Clapham with two hearths. In his will of 1718 Thomas Clapham possessed ‘several messuages at Winskill’.

The 1900s

The house at High Winskill (Block A) became derelict in the mid-19th century after the Burnistons, man and wife, died in 1853 (said to be as a result of eating diseased cow meat). Ernest Foster purchased Higher Winskill in the 1960s and it was sold for restoration to a dwelling in the 1970s. Part of the old house and barn north of Lower Winskill (Block B) have been developed as conference and meeting rooms. Lower Winskill (Block C) was farmed by Jim Lowther from about 1930 to 1958. He kept hens and sold eggs and butter on Settle market. Ernest Foster purchased Lower Winskill in the 1960s and it passed by inheritance to the Lord family. In the 1900s Block D was owned by the Sharp family of Stainforth and later purchased by Ken Robinson who added the holding to Cowside. For a time the house was leased by Bolton Pothole Club and it later became a private house. The large barn was converted into a dwelling in the late 1980s and is now called Wray’s Barn.

Private deeds Lord 1 to 52 dated from 1591 to 1893 for Lower Winskill held by T.C.Lord of Lower Winskill.