Families, farms and fields: Cowside in Langcliffe, 1591 to 1754

Sheila Gordon, Mary Slater and Michael Slater
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

A large set of documents dating from 1584 to the 19th C has been loaned to the North Craven Historical Research Group by David Blackburne. They illustrate the early history of Cowside, an outlying hamlet in Langcliffe Parish. The documents belong to his stepson W. John Hunter whose father farmed land at Cowside and whose grandfather collected the deeds together. In the eventual absence of a male heir the property was sold. Four generations of Hunters have held the Cowside land and two other Hunter brothers owned Stockdale and Darnbrook.

Twenty eight deeds relate to Cowside and provide a picture of property leases and sales over several generations in one family in particular - the Paycocks. In addition to this property information the Parish Registers for Giggleswick, a few wills of the period held in the Borthwick Institute, later deeds held in the Wakefield Archives, documents concerning sale of the manor of Langcliffe in 1591 followed by later transfers (largely in the National Archives) and some other sources provide supporting evidence relating to the tenements at Cowside. In the interests of clarity and ease of reading detailed references are not given in this article, but a fuller annotated version is available at the NCHRG archive, Procter House, Settle.

The manor of Langcliffe was in the hands of Sawley Abbey for about 400 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 and it then was bought as part of a speculative financial package by Sir Arthur Darcy. He distributed his properties to his many sons in his will of 1560. Nicholas Darcy who inherited Langcliffe and Nappay seems to have run into financial difficulties and was in serious debt to Henry Billingsley, Alderman of London, who was taking the rents from Langcliffe tenants to recover money loaned to Nicholas. There are many documents extant describing the sale of the manor of Langcliffe in 1591 by Nicholas Darcy to a set of nine feoffees (trustees) and to several sets of individuals in Langcliffe village and Cowside. One of the sale documents concerns the several tenants at Winskill (the Fosters) and Henry Paycocke and Michael Saylbanke, yeomen of Cowsyde. Seven messuages (a house with its land) were sold, with all houses, buildings, yards, gardens and crofts, in the tenures or occupations of these people. The land at Winskill and Cowside being sold to the tenants was 62 acres 25 poles of arable and meadow and 206 acres 2 roods 4 poles of pasture:

‘begynnyng att a ... close called the Purse And soe following the wall and dytche to the west ende of one greate close of pasture called Hensyde And from theire following the south syde of .... nere to a geate of Hensyde close called the Locke grene gate And from theire ... to a .... close called Robert Saylbanke calfe close att Cowsyde aforesaide And from the same calfe close to a .... close called the Cow Close and soe to the corner of Wynskale ynge as measure shall aforde the same.’

The term was 500 years dating from the agreements of Nicholas Darcy with Henry Billingsley in 1585 and 1586 for Henry to take over the rents (selling land with freehold in the modern sense was not an option since all land belonged to the monarch, hence the term of 500 years). The purchase price was £537-12-9. Then a couple of months after the sale in 1591, in January 1592, there was a deed of release granted to Henry Paycocke, and in February 1592 a further deed of release to Michael Sailbanck, for messuages and tenements (rented land and buildings) at Cowside. In June 1592 Darcy and Billingsley directly demised to Anthony Twisleton and his wife Agnes several further tenements at Cowside. The spelling of names is retained as in original documents and the variety is typical of the period.

It is helpful to consider two simplified family trees, of Sailbank and Paycock. The main Sailbank family had marriage connections with Edward Preston, Richard King, Anthony Twisleton and William Armitstead. The will of Edward Preston of 1575 shows that he occupied property at Cowside. He mentions Rychard Saylbanke of Stainforth his brother-in-law and Roger Saylbanke his sister’s son. The Paycock family was connected with Richard Walker and his children. Darcy and Billingsley in November 1591 and in December 1592 sold Cowside land to Thomas Newhouse and William Carr who then in 1595 sold on to Richard Walker. Three blocks of property were called the Sailbank, Twisleton and Paicocke tenements in 1636 in the occupation of owners and various tenants. Intermarriages between the families led to transfer of property over the years. The blocks that appear to form contiguous holdings were
(i) ‘Ten acres of pasture at the west end of Brown Bank lying on the north side of Michael Saylbank’s Calf Close and abutting 2 acres of Anthony Twisleton on the south side as now occupied by Richard Walker’. Michael Saylbank’s Calf Close was later added to this holding.
(ii) Lying south of (i). Ann Walker’s messuage, Great Ing plus house/barn (6 acres), Great Bank Ing (5 acres), Middle Ing (2 acres), Nether Ing (3 acres).
(iii) The Paycocks held this parcel from at least 1636 to 1705. Little Bank Ing (2 to 2 ½ acres) plus Parrock (½ to 1 acre) total 3 acres, plus Brown Bank alias Myres 10 acres, plus houses, plus 4 cattlegates on Gorbeck

The Sailbank family

James Saylebanke made a will in 1548 leaving the tenant right of his farmhold to his wife Margaret. The right then passed to his son Richard ‘with the licence of the Lord’, meaning the payment of a transfer fee to the landlord. John Paycocke is one of the trustees and a witness. Alice, James’ daughter, married William Armitstead and this family later occupied land at Cowside. Richard married Ellena Somerscales in 1568 and they had sons Robert baptized (bp) 1571 and Michael and a daughter Agnes, who married Anthony Twistleton of Cowside in 1591. It is presumed that after James left the tenement to his son Richard (who died 1571) the right passed to Richard’s son Robert who then held the Calf Close. From a document of June 1592 it is noted that Anthony Twisleton of Cowside and Agnes his wife bought from Nicholas Darcy a tenement of three houses ‘lately decayed’ previously in the tenure of Richard Sailbank, late father of Michael, and then in the tenure of Richard King (surmised from the Giggleswick Parish Register to be the husband of Ellena Sailbanke, another daughter of James). Michael Saylbanke is not recorded in the Giggleswick Parish Registers. In indentures dated 1595, 1636, 1637, 1638 and 1653 there are repeated references to ‘Michael Sailbanke his Calf Close’ but the Sailbank family had probably left Cowside by the mid-1600’s.

The Twisleton property

Anthonie Twisleton and Agnes (née Sailbank) married in July 1591 and in 1592, as mentioned above, bought from Nicholas Darcy three houses lately decayed, one gardenstead and various parcels of meadow, pasture and common together with 66 sheepgates. In 1637 the property was in the possession of Thomas Watson who made an exchange of lands in Langcliffe with Richard Brayshey of Langcliffe, yeoman. In 1641 Richard Brayshey sold this property for £40 to John Armitstead of Knight Stainforth. In 1647 Richard Brayshey sold 46 sheepgates (or 9 cattlegates) to Robert Browne for £53-15-0. In 1706/7 Robert Standin of Dalehead, Slaidburn, confirmed the release of any title of estate in Cowside to his mother-in-law Isabell Brayshay of Rathmell, widow.

The Paycock family

The spelling of the Paycock family name and forename Gervais is remarkably variable. A Henry Paycock is listed in the ‘Flodden Roll’ of 1513 and another Henry is listed in the 1571 Lay Subsidy Roll; John Paycocke is recorded as making his contribution of 5 shillings to the Forced Loan of 1522.

Henry Paycocke listed in the 1591 sale document married Agnes and had at least four children - Margareta bp 1560, Andreas (Andrew) bp 1562, Anna bp 1565 and Jane bp 1566/7. Anna married Richard Walker, mentioned above, in 1586. Henry died in 1608. A Thomas Paycock of Cowside died in 1606 but we do not know if he was connected with Henry’s family. The next mention of the Paycock family in the deeds is of Robert Peacocke and it is his family fortunes at Cowside that we can follow. We do not know how Henry and Robert were related.

Robert Peacocke of Newby transferred his land at Newby to Thomas Butterfield in 1630 held at an annual rent of 12d. This was a legal matter concerning a debt of £11-15-0 which Robert had to repay within 4 years or forfeit the property. Maybe it was this Robert who relocated to Cowside.

In the indenture dated 1636 we find that Robert Paicock bought from Richard Clapham of Windscale for £47 a close called Little Bank Ing and an adjoining close called the Parrocke containing 3 acres, plus all houses and four cattle gates on Gorbeck Close. The holding on Gorbeck was in common with those three tenements known as the Paicocke, Sailbank and Twisleton tenements. The associated Performance Bond of the same date was for twice the value of the sale (£94) which was to be forfeited by Richard Clapham if he did not meet his obligations laid out in the indenture. It is not clear how Richard Clapham came to have this Cowside land.

Robert died in 1667 leaving a will giving his estate to Margaret his wife and to Timothy his son a parcel of ground called Banck Ings and another called Parracke with four cattlegates on Gorbeck. To his three daughters he gave a parcel of ground called Myres and another called Browne Banke.

We do not know when Timothy was born but it was probably around 1640. He died 1699/1700. He married Maria and had sons Jervase bp 1657/8 and Robert bp 1663. His daughter Margareta bp 1665, who inherited the Cowside property from Jervase, married John Duckett of Rathmell in 1704.

In 1653 we have an indenture of a 50 year lease of land (10 acres of pasture west of Browne Bank) held by Anthony Hurwood of the City of York, tailor, to Robert Paicocke of Cowside, husbandman, and Timothy Paicocke his son for £60. The money is to be paid in £6 yearly instalments at the house of Michael Currer in Midlewater Lane, York at the sign of the Blue Anchor on the feast day of St Martin the Bishop. This was land bought from Darcy and Billingsley in 1591 and 1592 by Thomas Newhouse and William Carr, and sold to Richard Walker in 1595 as noted above. The lands descended to Ann Walker (née Pacock) his widow then to John his son and he in turn sold to Anthony Hurwood in 1638. It was not uncommon for landowners at this time to be resident far away from their properties.

In 1659 Robert and Timothy leased Browne Bank for £32 to Henry Walker of Kirkby Malham and a bond was made for £60. In 1671 Margaret Paycocke, widow of Robert (died 1668) and others who had an interest released all title to Browne Banke to Timothy for £12. In 1679 Margaret further released title to four cattlegates on Gorbeck to Timothy.

Timothy Paycocke, haberdasher, in 1680 sold to his son Jarvis (now 22 years old and also a haberdasher) Little Banke Ing and the Parrocke containing 3 acres and half the houses with associated garths, and two cattle gates on Gorbeck, all for £20 and backed up by a bond. In the following year Timothy, now described as a feltmaker, sold Browne Bank for £31-16-0 to Jervas his son, also now a feltmaker, and Ralphe Buck of Tennant Gill for a peppercorn rent. The true intention of this indenture was to provide a security for another financial transaction of £60 with John Sergeantson. In 1682 Jarvis leased Little Bank Ing and the Parrocke for 7 years for £4 p.a. to William Armitstead and John Gibson of Stainforth. In 1687 Timothy then sold Browne Bank to John Sergeantson for £20 with a bond for £60. But this indenture was accompanied by another one of the same date that stated that if John Sergeantson paid rent of £1-16-0 for the next two years and finally £31-16-0 in 1689 then Timothy could redeem the agreement. These complicated arrangements suggest that Timothy was not reliant on farming of his land by himself since he clearly had another trade. The small amount of land seems marginally enough to support a family. There is also some hint of financial difficulty perhaps and further problems seem to have been in store.

Timothy then mortgaged his house plus all the associated land (Little Bank Ing, Parrock, Browne Banke alias Myres) in 1690/1 to Stephen Fish of Cappon Hall for £50 (for 300 years). Then seven years later Stephen Fish leased to Timothy the same house (where Timothy lived) together with all the same land currently occupied by Stephen Fish. In addition one shop and three gardens were included. The rent was £3-12-0. Some of this document is missing but on the reverse is a note that Timothy claims to be the tenant in possession and pays Fish 6d. But then Timothy also promised to pay Fish £3-12-0 for a one year lease. A further note by a barrister Mr Gill says that the lands were simply mortgaged to Stephen Fish, not sold outright, and Mr Fish needs the agreement of Timothy’s heir or other parties if he wants ownership. One is left wondering why such confusion came about.

Timothy Peacocke died in January 1700. Gervas Peacock and his sister Margaret now agreed in the same month that Gervas surrender for £5 all his rights and chattels under his father’s estate. Margaret married John Duckett of Rathmell in 1704 and in 1706 the financial affairs of the Paycock holdings were sorted out. Timothy had mortgaged his property to Stephen Fish for £50 and Fish had subsequently lent him a further £10. Timothy had failed to repay this £60 plus interest by the time of his death so Fish took possession of the property. However, John Duckett through his wife was legally entitled to redeem the mortgage (for £64) and for a further consideration of £30 sold the property to William Stackhouse of Winskill (trustee of Margaret’s marriage settlement) and William Whitfield of Westside Houses. Finally in 1715 John Duckett released all of his interest in the holding at Cowside to William Whitfield.

The earliest recorded mention of the Paycock name is in 1510 and their long association with Cowside ends in 1715.

The Walkers

In 1595 there was the transfer by the two men who purchased land at Cowside in 1591 and 1592 to Richard Walker of Cowside. Richard paid £31-13-4 for the block (i) described above. This may be the enclosed Winskill Stones pasture ground on the Christopher Brown estate map of 1797.

There is a connection between the Walker and Paycock families since Anna Pacock bp 1565, daughter of Henry, married Richard Walker in 1585/6. An indenture of 1637 between Thomas Watson of Windscall and Richard Brayshey of Langcliffe refers to a messuage where Ann Walker lately dwelt with the associated garths and gardens and Great Ing, Middle Ing, Nether Ing and Great Bank Ing with a house or barn in it. In 1638 we find that the same land plus the late Michael Saylbank’s Little Calf Close was in the possession of Anne Walker now of York, widow, and John Walker of York, yeoman. Ann was Richard’s wife and John his son. Ann died in York in 1651. The land was sold to Anthony Hurwood of York, tailor.

As noted above, some years later in 1653 Hurwood leased the same land to Robert Paicocke and to Timothy his son for £60 for 50 years. Then in 1659 Robert and Timothy leased the same ground to Henry Walker of Kirkby Malham, millner, brother of John, for £30 for the residue of 50 years, with a bond for £60 forfeited if the agreement fell through.

Wakefield Deeds

It is fortunate that there are four further deeds which shed more light on land ownership. In 1704 Richard Clapham of Winskill rented to William Whitfield of Westside Houses the New Intack and Little Calfe Close, total 5 acres adjoining the highway on the north side (i.e. of the highway) and Brown Bank on the east (i.e. of Brown Bank). In 1752 John Alcock and Richard Birtwhistle sold to Christopher Brown yeoman of Stainforth under Bargh the same two parcels, ‘now commonly called Cowside Closes containing 5 acres adjoining the highway etc.’. Thus it seems that Michael Saylbank’s Little Calfe Close plus the New Intack are the same as Cowside Close of 5 acres on Christopher Brown’s estate map of 1797.

Deeds of 1751 and 1754 also relate to sales to Christopher Brown and concern Near Bank Ing, Far Bank Ing, Calf Close, Calf Parrock, Low Parrock, Great Field with a barn, Low Cow Pasture, Brown Bank and Myres. Most of these can be identified with confidence.


We do not have a complete picture of events and land deals after the sale of Langcliffe manor in 1591 but leasing of pasture and grazing land seems to be the main activity. There seems insufficient land in the three Cowside blocks to support any one family so each presumably owned other land elsewhere or carried on a trade as did Timothy and Jarvis Peacock. However, even a small increase in landholding might have brought about a money surplus and the possibility of escape from subsistence farming. It is unfortunately not possible to identify with certainty all the parcels of land originally owned or tenanted by Anthony Twisleton, Richard Walker, Michael and Richard Sailbank or Henry Paycock as several original deeds of 1591 and 1592 have not been located. If found, these may establish who owned what. Much of the property was held by these families for over 150 years, despite transfers and sales, because of intermarriages.


To David Blackburne for allowing access to the deeds. The deeds were originally catalogued by T.I. Roberts and have been transcribed fully by the authors. The transcriptions are deposited with the North Craven Historical Research Group.


  • Will of Sir Arthur Darcy. TNA WARD/7/8. 1560.
  • Will of Richard Saylbanke, 1570. Cowside. Borthwick vol. 19 fol. 436.
  • Will of Richard Saylebanke, 1577. Staynforth. Borthwick vol. 21 fol. 340.
  • Will of Roger Saylbanke, 1593. Stainforthe. Borthwick vol. 25 fol. 1553.
  • Will of Richard Walker, July 1613. Cowside yeoman. Borthwick vol. 33 fol. 6.
  • Will of Ann Walker, widow. Borthwick Admon. April 1650/1.
  • Will of Robert Paicock,1667. Borthwick vol. 49 fol. 142 mf 968.
  • Lay Subsidy Roll, 1571. Lancashire Record Office.
  • Sale documents for Winskill and Cowside. TNA C54/1408 CP 3572 and MIC 1874 PC/LAC 13 Northallerton 1591 and 1592
  • Agreement Nicholas Darcy with Henry Billingsley in 1585 and 1586. TNA C54/1419 CP 3572
  • Cowside deeds. Courtesy of David Blackburne.

Family trees

James Saylebanke (will, died 1548)
Richard (will, died 1571)
Robert - Michael - Agnes md Anthony Twisleton
(bp 1571) (bp 1568)

Henry Paycocke (died 1608)
Anna md Richard Walker (1586)
(bp 1565) (died 1613)

Robert Paicock md Margaret
(died 1668) (died 1668)
Timothy (died 1700)
Jervase (bp 1658) - Margaret

A Word4Win file giving more detailed family trees can be downloaded Here.

Location of Cowside lands
Christopher Brown’s estate map of 1797 (courtesy of North Craven Historical Research Group)

Location of Cowside lands

Christopher Brown’s estate map of 1797 (courtesy of North Craven Historical Research Group)