Mr and Mrs Peter Thackrah and Mrs Sheila Gudgeon kindly allowed this article based on the research report on Eldroth Hall prepared by the late Roy Gudgeon to be printed by NCHT.
When looking at the history of Eldroth Hall the story of the Quakers, or Friends, in Eldroth is intertwined, and it seems sensible to relate the history of the hall to the noted family, the Moore’s, who converted to Quakers and established a small burial ground almost exclusively for the family. Eldroth Hall and its adjoining cottage are Grade II listed properties.
It seems almost certain that the present Eldroth Hall was built in the early seventeenth century, and that the position has been well chosen. At the front of the Hall, Black Bank Sike and Kellot Beck meet, to continue on their journey to Fen Beck, the Wenning and finally to the River Lune. We know that in 1852 Eldroth Hall was a farm with just over 221 acres, and this figure was maintained until 1917 at least. Records indicate that from the seventeenth century it was operated as a farm, but the 1852 description of the property as a dwelling house indicates that Eldroth Hall was superior to the neighbouring farms, for which the house was usually described as a homestead.
It seems reasonably certain that Gyles Moore was living there in 1627, when he gave land to Eldroth to establish a church and a school, and his family were in residence at the hall until c.1735. It seems likely that the property was then sold as an estate to the Coulthurst family of Gargrave, and the Bradley family farmed and occupied the property for many years. In 1841, the first census forms tell us that the Laycock family were in residence, and not until 1885 are we sure of new tenants when Thomas Whitfield was listed as the occupier. By 1891 George Towler had replaced him, before the Hird family became established in 1892, and were there until the late 1930s. It would appear that the estate was sold to the Hird family by Mr Coulthurst during this period.
Gyles Moore was probably in residence in what would have been a new house, though possibly it could have been built on the site of an earlier property because of its important position in the hamlet of Eldroth. Another large farm and similar property, Eldroth House, is situated nearby, in what is a protected position and well away from the lower ground which was prone to flooding in those days. By giving land for a church and a school, Gyles was public-spirited and almost certainly a well-respected member of the community. It also seems certain that he had a son Nicholas who died in 1671, and that his son (Gyles’s grandson), John Moore who was born c.1630, became the inspiration for the Quaker movement in the area.
Around 1660 John Moore became convinced that the teaching and attitude of the Quakers or Friends were to his liking, and became a member of the Society of Friends. According to the Parish Registers for Giggleswick, John Moore, a son of John Moore, was buried at Giggleswick on 24th February 1655, and another of his sons, Thomas, who was born on 30th September 1653, was also buried at Giggleswick, on 26th February 1655. These entries would indicate that up until this time he was accepting the current religion, but when Quakers became more widespread in the 1660s he became converted.
We also know that George Fox visited and stayed at Eldroth Hall for a short time in 1660, and it seems more than likely that this event confirmed his change of belief. We are also aware that in 1665 George passed through the township of Lawkland, but this time under arrest, as he was being moved from Lancaster to Scarborough; on that particular day he travelled from Bentham to Giggleswick. In happier circumstances he returned to Eldroth Hall in 1669, though George was continually being persecuted for his beliefs. In his account he states: ‘… and so to John Moore’s at Eldroth, where we had a very large meeting. Not far from this place lay Colonel Kirby, lame of gout, who had threatened that if ever I came near, he would send me to prison again, and he bid forty pounds to any man to take me’. It seems that this particular Colonel Kirby was the chief persecutor of the Quakers at Eldroth at that time. Friends were still unpopular with the establishment, and in 1670, under the Conventicle Act of 1664, Samuel Watson (later to be John Moore’s father-in-law) was fined £15 for holding a Quaker Meeting at Eldroth Hall.
Part of the Quaker beliefs was not to pay tithes and attend mandatory Church Services in the local Church, and we have two instances whereby John Moore the elder fell foul of the law. In 1683, he had ‘four oxen and a mare worth £25 taken for absence from the Parish Church’ and in 1690, the year of his death, he was fined £1--10s for non-payment of tithes. However, long before his death, he was committed to the Quakers and in 1662 he set up a burial ground comprising some seven perches, where sixteen members of his family, including himself, were buried, together with one other person, making a total of seventeen people buried in this picturesque burial ground.
The Following burials are recorded (see Hodgson, 1926):
From the above information, and information gleaned from other sources, we can assume with some certainty that we have details concerning five generations of the Moore family.
The heads of the five generations are as follows :
Gyles MooreGyles Moore in his will dated 12th July 1627, makes mention of ‘the chappell or schoolhouse at the Badger ground at Eldroth’. We know that around this time he gave land of about 3 acres, to enable a church or chapel to be built on land in Eldroth, at the junction where the road from Kings Gate joins the Eldroth Road. The church was built at this spot. and he also wished ‘to have prayers read and children taught there’. His wishes were carried out, and the church is still in fine condition and in use today, and the school was in use until 1947, when pupils were transferred to Settle and Austwick. It appears almost certain that Nicholas Moore, who was buried in 1671, was one of his children, and was the father of the first John Moore, as listed in the third generation.
Nicholas MooreAlthough conclusive proof is not available at the present time, circumstantial evidence points to Nicholas being the son of Gyles Moore, and the father of John Moore. It is positively recorded that he was buried at the Quaker Burial Ground on 15th February 1611. We also know that his daughter Ellin pre-deceased him, as she was buried on 1st April 1662, aged 15 years, making her date of birth approximately 1647.
John MooreThe first John Moore was buried on 21st June 1690, at the age of 60 years, and therefore we assume he was born in 1630. He married twice; firstly, Anne, who was buried in the Burial Ground on 1st August 1669, and later Ellin, who was the daughter of the well-known Quaker Samuel Watson from Knight Stainforth and was buried at the Burial Ground on 20th February 1676. John and Anne had at least eight children: six in due course were buried at the Quaker Burial Ground in Eldroth, and two earlier children before the advent of joining the Quakers were buried at Giggleswick Church. John and Ellin appeared to have had only one child, Benjamin, who died on 23rd March 1676 aged 1 month. Ellin herself had died just a month earlier on 20th February 1676. Both were buried in the Quaker Burial Ground at Eldroth.
John MooreJohn was born c.1661, and was buried in 1712 at the age of 51 years. He was well-educated, a great botanist, and an authority on herbs, and like his father he too had two wives. The first wife was Sarah, born c.1660, who was buried on 25th April 1690 at Eldroth, aged 30 years. His second wife was Mary Camm, the daughter of the great preacher Thomas Camm, of Camsgill, near Preston Patrick (who himself died at Eldroth Hall in 1707), born c.1670, who was buried at Eldroth on 15th July 1707, just two days before her 38th birthday.
Records indicate that John and Sarah had at least two children: John born c.1684, who was buried on 19th May 1685, aged 1 year, and Anna, born c.1686, who was buried on 16th April 1711, aged 25 years. Both children were buried at Eldroth. John and Mary had at least six children, two sons and four daughters, though we have little information about them. We do, however, know that one of the sons was called John, (generation five), and that he stayed on at Eldroth Hall; his father John Moore, (generation four), was the last person to be buried at the Quaker Burial Ground in Eldroth in 1712.
John MooreLittle is known about him, apart from the fact that he was the son of John and Mary Moore, and must have been born sometime after 1691. He is recorded as being Clerk to the Settle Meeting of Friends in 1730 and 1733.
Final notes and thoughts on the Moore familyIn 1714, Sarah Moore, daughter of John Moore (generation 4, not known if mother was Sarah or Mary), was married to Isaac Hadwin, after a marriage contract had been recognised and drawn up by the Society of Friends. Above the main door of Barn House (then the Great Barn) is a date-stone with the inscription M I A 1669. This almost certainly stands for John and Anne Moore, John’s first wife, and the barn was probably constructed that year. Later on in that year Anne died. At one time in Eldroth Hall there was a small cupboard built into the wall with the inscription I M M 1689. Initial thoughts are that this would relate to John and Mary Moore, John’s second wife, but according to the records Sarah, John’s first wife, was not buried until 25th April 1690. Possibly one of the dates is incorrect. John Moore (generation four), was obviously concerned about the Quaker Burial Ground for his will, following his death in 1712, directed that ‘the ancient burying place be not sold by my trustees’ and it would seem that this wish was respected, as the sale of this land was not included in the conveyance of Eldroth Hall when it was eventually sold, probably to the Coulthurst family. Indeed, in the Minute book of the Settle Preparative Meeting, there are the following entries: ‘1.12.1776, George Atkinson, brother, received two shillings from Robert and William Bradley of Eldroth, for two years rent of the Burial Ground there belonging to this Meeting, for the years 1774 and 1775’. For 1776 ‘twelve pence was paid, which is lodged with William Birkbeck & Co.’, and for 1778 ‘one shilling paid’.
After the reference to John Moore in 1733 as Clerk to the Settle Friends, the name disappears from local records. However, we are aware that the Burial Ground was still attracting a rent payable to the Settle Friends until at least 1778. Since that time the position has become confused and some local Quakers feel that the land still belongs to the Friends, but the title deeds cannot be found. It would appear that with the changes of ownership over the years, the land has been incorporated into an adjacent property.
After the Moore familyThere is only sketchy information as to the owners and occupiers of Eldroth Hall from the time the Moores departed until the arrival of the Laycock family who were the tenants detailed in the 1841 census. Also by that time the Coulthurst family was the owner of the estate. There is an indenture dated 15th September 1757, by which Hannah Tatham was bound to William Bradley at the Coulthurst’s estate at Eldroth Hall, as an apprentice until she reached the age of 21 years, or wished to marry. By reference to the rent for the Burial Ground mentioned above we know that Robert and William Bradley were still at Eldroth Hall in 1778.
Public Returns 1841 - 1917 The various census returns for 1841 to 1891, together with the 1852 and 1885 Valuation and Rate books 1891-1917 show the tenants and occupiers of Eldroth Hall.
Presentation of a stone plaque, to commemorate the site of Eldroth Quaker Burial Ground on 1th January 1927The Brighouse, Leeds and Settle Monthly Meetings decided to ensure that the site of the Quaker Burial Ground had a suitable memorial for the seventeen people who were buried there between 1662 and 1712. On Easter Monday 18th April 1927 a group of between 40 to 50 people gathered to commemorate the fact that way back in 1662 John Moore of Eldroth Hall had put aside some seven perches of land for that purpose. The following is an extract from The Craven Herald of 22nd April 1927. ‘The gathering was consequent on the erection of a memorial stone set in the barn adjoining the Burial Ground. It took the form of a plain sandstone, with the simple phrase ‘Friends Burial Ground 1662’ inscribed thereon. Two of the plain unlettered stones covering the last resting places of those former worshippers was denuded of its covering of soil, and exposed to the view of 40 or 50 persons gathered there. Mr H. R. Hodgson of Bradford opened the brief service, and two hymns were sung. Mr T.J.Hadwin, of Sandiway, Northwich, gave an excellent history of former owners of Eldroth Hall. It was about 1600 that the family of Moore came into the possession of the homestead. He read an excerpt from the will of Gyles Moore, who left the rent of two fields towards the provision of a School and Church at Eldroth. Mr Hadwin explained that he was not a member of the Society of Friends, but was interested in the day’s gathering on account of his connection with the family of Moore. In 1714 Sarah Moore had married Isaac Hadwin, and through them he claimed direct descent’.
Ancient DovecotUntil the early 1970s, Eldroth Hall possessed a fine dovecot, the only one in the district. A dovecot was a valued building denoting the esteem of the owner, and there was a time when to own one was the jealously guarded privilege of the Lord of the manor and the priest. However despite an attempt to save the building it was destroyed and an unusual link with our past gone for ever. Certainly in today’s more enlightened climate the property would have been saved for future generations.
Bee BolesRecords maintained by the Bee Bole Association indicated that originally there were ten bee boles on two separate sites, both being dated from around the 1660s. Two were in the orchard wall facing SSE, and eight were in a field wall again facing SSE. There are now two original bee boles, and a further two have been rebuilt out of the ten originally on the site.
SummaryEldroth Hall, and its adjoining cottage, set apart from the Hall in recent times, has now lost all its farmland, and some of the barns have been demolished or converted to houses. The Great Barn with the M I A 1669 datestone is now Barn House. The Eldroth cottages were taken down over a century ago, and a new property Smithy Croft has recently been built in its place. The barn where in 1927 the inscribed plaque to the Friends was installed has now been demolished. The plaque now resides in the garden wall of Barn House, but unfortunately there is no obvious indication to the actual site of the Burial Ground, as the position of the graves is not known.
AcknowledgementsChris Petrie and Jean Asher helped with sources of information.