The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) - Township of Shelley

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The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) by Henry James Morehouse


This township is surveyed in Domesday as a member of the Manor of Wakefield. “Scelneleie one carucate.” It appears to have been granted off soon after the Norman Conquest, and to have given to its early lords their names of addition.

The following copy of a charter, hitherto unpublished, conveying to the Monks of Roche Abbey certain lands, in Birchworth, a neighbouring township, exhibits a proof of the good will to the church, of one of the early lords of this subenfeudation. The charter is without date, but was probably executed early in the reign of Henry III., and is remarkable for comprising in the grant some of the tenants.

Sciant omnes presentes et futuri quod ego Henricus de Schellaya, filius Roberti, dedi concessi et hac carta mea confirmavi pro salute animi, mei et omnium antecessorum et heredum meorum. Abbati et Monachis Sanctae Mariae de Rupe homagium et servicium Johannis, filii Roberti del Ker, quae mihi debuit et heredibus meis vel assignatis pro duabus bovatis terrae, cum pertinenciis in Bircheworth, et homagium, et servicium Johannis, filii Adami quae mihi debuit, et heredibus meis et assignatis pro una bovata terrae, cum pertinenciis in eadem villa, et duas bovatas terrae, cum pertinenciis quas Ricardus et Jona tenuerunt de me in eadem villa, et ipsos Ricardum et Jonam cum tota sequela sua, et ipsos Ricardum et Adamum cum tota sequela sua, et unam bovatam terrae cum pertinenciis quam Gilbertus capellanus tenuit de me in eadem villa, et unam essartam cum pertinenciis in predicta villa que vocatur Wetelaya, tenenda et habenda in perpetuam elemosinam liberam, et quietam ab omni servicio ad me et heredes meos pertinente salvo forenseco servicio, quantam pertinet ad unam carucatam terrse, unde novem carucatae faciunt feodum unius militis. Et ego et heredes mei warrantizabimus totam supradicam terram, cum pertinenciis supradictis Abbati et Monachis de Rupe in perpetuum contra omnes. His testibus Dno Henrico persona de Rothell, Hugon de Urnethorp, tunc Senescallo de Pontefracto, Roberto de Stapleton, Henrico Walente, Roberto filio Ade, Thomas de Littel, Alano filio Roberti de Smecheton, Roberto filio Gilberti, Simone filio . . . , Alano filio Alani.

This grant comprised not only lands, but the tenants or villeins, “cum tota sequela sua,” with their progeny. This species of tenure is graphically described by Blackstone in his Commentaries. —

“Under the Saxon government there were, as Sir William Temple speaks, a sort of people in downright servitude, used and employed in the most servile work; and belonging, both they, their children, and effects, to the lord of the soil, like the rest of the cattle or stock upon it.” Vol. ii., bk. 2, c. 6. “These villeins, belonging principally to lords of manors, were either villeins regardant, i.e., annexed to the manor or lands ; or else they were in gross, or at large, i.e., annexed to the person of the lord, and transferable by deed from one owner to another. They could not leave their lord without his permission; but if they ran away, or were purloined from him, might be claimed and recovered by action, like beasts or other chattels. They held indeed, small portions of land by way of sustaining themselves and their families; but it was at the mere will of the lord, who might dispossess them whenever he pleased; and it was upon villein services, that is, to carry out dung, to hedge and ditch the lord’s demesne, and any other the meanest offices.”

The state of servitude of these villeins was not absolute, like that of the negroes, for as Hallam, (Middle Ages, vol. i., p. 149,) observes, “it was only in respect of his lord, that the villein, at least in England, was without rights; he might inherit, purchase, sue in the courts of law, though as defendant in a real action or suit, wherein land was claimed, he might shelter himself under the plea of villeinage.”

By a charter without date, Henry, the son of Robert de Scellay, granted to John Molendinario de Scellay, and to his heirs, &c., a bovate of land in the village and territory of Scellay, “in feudo et hereditate cum omnibus libertatibus communis,” rendering fourpence yearly in two equal payments; at the feast of St. Oswald, and at the feast of St. Martin, “pro omnibus secularibus serviciis, consuetudinibus et demandis excepto forenseco servicio.”

Among the Wortley evidences is a deed of the same “Henry, son of Robert de Shelvelay,” who “quits claims to Adam de Wannervile, son of Adam, all right in the town of Kynneslay, belonging to the town of Hemsworth; and also all lands which I demanded against the aforesaid Adam, and Nichola mother of Adam, in the said town of Hemsworth, by writ of right in the court of the Lord Henri de Laci, Earl of Lincoln. This was in the latter part of Henry Ill’s, reign.”[1]

By a charter, without date, but from the witnesses not later than Henry III., William Spinke, of Scheluelay Wodhous, granted to Henry de Scheluelay, his lord, and to Robert, his son and their heirs, all his rights, &c., which he had of the gift of William, his father, in the territory of Scheluelay. It is, therefore, evident that Henry had a son Robert, which Robert had also a son Henry, as we find by a charter, dated 27 Edward I., [1289,] when Henry de Scheluelay, and Margaret, his wife, received a grant from Robert de Barneby, to them and their issue, of the Manor of Scheluelay; and in default of issue, to John de Scheluelay, his brother. The manor, there is little doubt, had been previously granted by Henry de Scheluelay, to Barneby for that purpose. This Henry de Scheluelay appears in several charters, without date, either as principal or as witness. The last mention I find of him is the 10 Edward II., [1316]. After this period he did not long survive, for in the 18 Edward II., [1324,] I find that John de Schellay was lord, who was living in 2 Edward III., [1337,] and then described as John, son of Henry de Schellay.

But, contemporary with Henry de Schellay, was Elias de Schellay, who held lands in Schellay, and who had a son Robert. There was also a Peter de Schellay, “clericus.” These names appear in charters, without dates, except in one instance, in 1316, respecting Robert, son of Elias de Schellay.

There was, however, a Nicholas de Schellay, son of Nicholas, who, in his charter, dated 18 Edward II., [1324,] had for its witnesses John de Schellay, lord of Schellay, and John de Schellay the elder. There can be no doubt that this John de Schellay the elder was the brother of Henry de Schellay, as mentioned in the charter of 1298.

I find that John de Schellay, lord of Schellay, was dead in the 17 Edward III., [1342,] leaving his son and heir, John de Schellay, a minor, and in ward of the chief lord, John, Earl Warren and Stratheme, who, by his charter of that date, granted the said wardship to Sayer de Kendale, one of his attendants, together with the Manor of Schellay, which John de Schellay, the father, late held of him by knight’s service, &c. John de Schellay the younger had issue, a daughter Katherine, apparently an only child, and who, it would seem, married ___ Dodworth, of Dodworth, near Barnsley.

The next piece of evidence I have found is a charter, dated 27 Henry VI., [1448,] wherein Thomas Goldthorp and William Stone, granted to Johanna, late wife of Robert Storriz, (Storthes,) land and tenements belonging to Thomas Dodworth, and Elizabeth his wife, in the Manor of Schellay; out of which the said Johanna Storriz had to receive seven marks annually, in perpetuity, to her and the heirs of her body; and in default of issue, to her right heirs. It would, therefore, appear that the estate had previously been vested in Goldthorp and Stone, in trust. It seems not improbable that Johanna was the sister of Thomas Dodworth.[2] But the following important genealogical facts, gathered from a charter, dated 1479, will somewhat elucidate this point: it recites that William

Malett, of Normanton, Esq., heir by blood of John Malett, namely, son of ___ , who was the son of Robert, who was the son of the said John, granted and confirmed to John Storthes, of Thurstonland, one of the heirs by blood of John de Schellay, namely, son of Thomas, who was brother of Henry, brother of Robert or Richard, sons of Johanna, who was the daughter of Katherine, the daughter of the said John de Schellay, the Manor of Schellay, with corn mill, lands, &c.; also lands in Birton, Thurstonland, Shepley, and Cumberworth, which had been devised to the said John Malett and John Collerslay, chaplain, then deceased, by the last will of the said John Schellay, John Malett being the surviving trustee ; the said William Malett conveyed the same to Nicholas Burdett and John Savile, of Holynage, in trust for the use or benefit of the said John Storthes, his heirs and assigns.

By another charter, dated 2 Richard III., [1484,] Ralph Dodworth, son and heir of William Dodworth, Esq., lately deceased, granted to Hugon Hastynges, knight, Henry Pierpoint, knight, John Savile, knight, Hugon Bosvile, clerk, George Graveson, clerk, (then vicar of Kirkburton,) Richard Keresford, John Birton, John Keresford, John Wombewell, jun., and Thomas Birton, all his Manor of Schellay, &c.; but for what purpose is not stated. These several feoffments of the manor, &c, do not reveal to us very clearly their precise intentions : it is, however, certain that although the fee simple of the Manor of Shelley vested in the Dodworths at this period ; a large annuity for those times was paid out of it of nearly seven marks to the Storthes, of Storthes, in Thurstonland, as we shall soon have occasion to mention.

In the reign of Henry VIII. the Manor of Shelley vested in William Dodworth, who had three daughters, co-heiresses; 1st Jane, married to John Kaye, of Dalton, gentleman; 2 Elizabeth, married John Harry son, of Woolley, gentleman; and 3 Anne, married John Jenkynson, of Gawbard Hall, yeoman. William Dodworth was dead before the 2 Edward VI., [1548,] when a division of his estate took place. He is stated to have possessed messuages and lands in Shelley, Shepley, Thurstonland, Dodworth, Barghe, Barnsley, Lepton, and Bardslande, (Barkisland,) in the county of York. The Manor of Shelley, the com mill, with the messuages and lands, then became the portion of John Kaye, in right of his wife.

In the 6 Edward VI., Gervas Storthes, of Storthes Hall, in the parish of Kirkburton, gentleman, sold to John Kaye, of Dalton, gentleman, then lord of Shelley, a rent charge of £4 6s. 8d., for the sum of £64. The deed bears date 26th October, 1551, by which the said Gervas Storthes releases for ever to the said John Kaye, his heirs, &c., “one annuitye or yerelie rent of four pounds six shillings and eightpence, by yere goynge forth and yerelie, to be received by the said Gervas, his heirs, and assigns, for ever, out of the Manor of Shelley, &c., together with all and singular evidences, escripts, mynements, and wrytyngs which he or any person or persons hath to his use, concerning the said yerelie rent charge, &c.”

There can be no doubt that the annuity of seven marks, or £4 13s. 4d., specified in the charter of the 27 Henry VI., [1448,] which had been granted to Johanna, then late wife of Robert Storriz, (Storthes,) was identical with the annuity here alienated by Gervas Storthes, her descendant. The discrepancy in the sums might arise from several causes, the most probable one is, that the Dodworths would charge the annuitants with a proportionate share of the modus, or rent charge, payable in lieu of tithe-corn and hay, as seven marks, in the reign of Henry VI. must have been regarded as a considerable sum.

We may here observe, that the series of evidences from which the foregoing account is compiled, do not clearly set forth the descent of the Dodworths from the last John de Schellay, although the “consanguinity,” of the Storthes is stated. It seems probable that Katherine Schellay was his only child, — that she married ___ Dodworth, who had a son Thomas, and a daughter Johanna, who married Robert Storthes, as already stated; and it is not improbable that John de Shellay devised, by his will, a certain annual payment out of the Manor of Shelley, to the said Johanna, his grandaughter, but vested the fee simple in Thomas Dodworth, his grandson.

John Kaye, of Dalton, had issue, by Jane, his wife, viz., John Kaye, of Okenshaw, his son and heir, but whether any other children is uncertain.[3] I find that John Kaye the elder, near the close of his life, resided at “Shelley Hall,” where he died in 1572, and was interred at Kirkburton.

John Kaye, of Okenshaw, on the death of his father, became Lord of Shelley. He built Heath Hall, near Wakefield, “one of the finest specimens remaining in Yorkshire of the Elizabethan house ;” there can be no question that, by its erection, he greatly embarrassed his circumstances, as he certainly had not an estate answerable to it; and it appears that in the 19 Elizabeth he sold his estate at Shelley. The deed bears date 28th January, 1576, made between John Kaye, then of Okenshaw, gentleman, and Robert Kaye, his son and heir apparent, of the one part, and John Thornhill alias Haighe, of Lockwood, Chapman, of the other part, for the sum of £1390, paid to the said John Kaye and Robert Kaye, in consideration of which they granted and sold to the said John Thornhill alias Haighe, his heirs and assigns, for ever, the Manor and Lordship of Shelley, &c., and all messuages and lands, houses, &c., together with all rights, courts, perquisites of court realties, wards, marryages, reliefs, escheats, fishyngs, fowlings,” &c., “belonging to the said manor.”

This John Kaye, who is usually styled of Okenshaw, but is sometimes described as of Heath, was for a time under-steward of the Honour of Pontefract during a part of the time Sir Henry Savile, of Thornhill, was high-steward. He seems to have been a gay and improvident man, and although he was married and had a son and heir, as already described, yet he succeeded in seducing Dorothy, the daughter of his friend Sir Henry Savile, by whom he had seven illegitimate children. “This,” it has been observed, “is the only lady in one of the great Yorkshire houses, of the sixteenth century, who has been handed down by the old genealogical writers, Dodsworth and others, as having sullied the honour of her family.”

Arms were granted to John Kaye, of Dalton, by Flower the Herald, on the 7th October, 1564. The Chest : a griffin holding a key. The Arms : quartering those of Dodworth, a chevron between three bugle-horns.

In the 23 Elizabeth, John Thornhill, alias Haighe, son and heir of John Thornhill, alias Haighe, deceased, and Fecilia Thornhill, alias Haighe, sold the said manor and estate to “John Savile, of Stanley, Esq.,” who devised the same to his third son, John Savile, of Netherton, alias Nether Shitlington, Gentleman, who sold it in the 34 Elizabeth, [1591,] to “John Ramsden, of Longley Hall, gentleman.”

In 14 Charles I., (1638,) “William Kamsden, of Lassells Hall, Esq., son and heir of John Ramsden, late of the same place, Esq., deceased,” sold the said manor, &c., to Richard Sykes, of Leeds, gentleman; Richard Sykes, rector of Kirkheaton, son of the said Richard; and Richard Sykes, of Kirkheaton, gentleman, son of the said Richard Sykes, clerk, their heirs, assigns, &c. The estate ultimately vested in Richard Sykes, the youngest, or grandson of the first Richard, who became rector of Spofforth, and prebend of York, from whom it passed to Richard Sykes, M.A., of Sheepscar Hall, but he dying without issue in 1686, it descended to his brother Micklethwaite Sykes, who died also without issue, and by his will dated 18th April, 1695, devised the same to his aunt Rebecca Kirshaw, widow of the Rev. John Kirshaw, rector of Ripley.* She died in 1706, when it descended to her son Richard Kirshaw, D.D., also rector of Ripley, who died in 1736 ; then to his son Samuel Kirshaw, D.D., vicar of Leeds, and likewise rector of Ripley, who died in 1780, leaving issue, Richard Kirshaw, B.D., rector of Masham, who died unmarried in 1792, and four daughters, in whom, by the death of their brother, the estate vested. Of the sisters, Mary, Anne, and Rebecca, died unmarried, while Frances married Ralph Shipperdson, of Hall Garth, in the county of Durham, Esq., whose second surviving son, the Rev. Thomas Richard Shipperdson, D.D., vicar of Woodhom, in the county of Northumberland, on the death of his aunt, Miss Rebecca Kirshaw, in 1846, became sole proprietor.

* The Rev. John Kirshaw, M.A., rector of Ripley, was a considerable sufferer for his loyalty during the Commonwealth, as appears from a narrative which he wrote soon after the Restoration, in which he relates some circumstances and events he had witnessed, and the part he had taken at that unsettled period : being a defence of himself against certain accusations which had been raised against him. That portion of it which refers to the simultaneous rising over many parts of the country, for the restoration of Charles II., of which Sir George Booth was at the head, and in which design a considerable number of the gentry and others of York and the surrounding country participated, furnishes another link in the series of events of that period. The attempt to take the city of York by surprise, seems to have been a feeble and therefore an unsuccessful one. It will not, however, be read without interest, as the prelude to the more successful attempt made by General Monk, who gained his admission into the city in a great measure through the personal influence of the Rev. Edward Bowles, a Presbyterian,divine of that city, as recorded by the Rev. J. Hunter, in his history of South Yorkshire, vol. ii., p. 416, from a contemporary M.S. written by Sir Philip Monkton.

It may be necessary to observe that the following account is abridged from Mr. Kirshaw’s MS., which has also reference to matters of a more private character, and which seems to have been intended as a defence of himself against accusations which had been brought against him; but what refers more particularly to public interest we here give at length in the words of the writer.

The account states that it had been read to Sir Solomon S____ on the 7th November, 1664, which no doubt refers to Sir Solomon Swale, of Swale Hall, in Swaledale, Baronet.

Mr. Kirshaw had been educated at Oxford, having been entered of Brazen Nose college, about the year 1645, and in due course took his B.A. degree. He was afterwards elected to a fellowship, but was “turned out of it, and the tuition of his scholars,” for refusing to take the “engagement,” by which he lost £50 per annum. Through the interest of Dr. Langley, he became chaplain to Lady Franklyn, near London, where he remained in retirement till he took his M.A. degree, having received episcopal ordination from the Archbishop of York.[4] “From thence,” says he, “I came to Wakefield as their vicar.” . . . “After I had been there a while, some of Mr. Lamberte’s favorites did inform against me to Oliver’s Councell (where Lamberte was their president) that I was an enemy to the State, and did utterly refuse to come in the church to observe either the days of fasting or thanksgiving that were enjoyned, (which was a truth,) upon which, the State’s pretty broade seale was given to a Nottinghamshire minister, Mr. Pocker : and I was cast out. Sir John Savile, and all my parishioners disclayming that act; only some army-men owned it, and one gentleman more especially that is now knighted, but then was an exciseman.

“That most loyal lady. Mrs. Hutton, of Poppleton, hearing of my disaster, gott some friends to write to me, to take shelter with her, and be their minister at Poppleton. I embraced the motion, and had £50 per annum engaged to me, besides all conveniences for myself and horse, in her family. There I continued for seven or eight years, and for a long time I came not in the church there, nor elsewhere on any State-day, either for fasting or thanksgiving. One of Lilberne’s souldiers lived in the parrish, and he, with some others, threatened to have me turned out for that reason, upon which, by the advice of some ministers and other friends, I did, in Oliver’s time, keepe some fast-days, but never read the titles of authority given to Oliver in his paper, nor any matters of disloyalty to the late King or his family, but always waived these passages when I read the occasion of humiliation in the State’s printed papers; and living in the Aynsty, I used then constantly to say in publique that the Lord Mayor of York had sent me a paper for a day of fasting, to be kept such a day. And in all Oliver’s time I never came into Poppleton church to keep one day of thanksgiving, which brings to my mind, that when I lived at London, and a day of thanksgiving wras kept for the defeating of his Majesty’s forces at Worcester, I kept private in my Lady Franklyn’s family that day, when she and her family went to church, whereof I can produce witnesses, for the first at Poppleton, and for the latter at London, and for this latter Sir W___ R___ did dislike me.

“When Sir George Booth, Colonell Egerton, &c., did endeavour the introducing of King Charles II., I was all along privy to it, and was engaged by promise to procure the boats from Poppleton Ferry, neare to Sir Thomas Slingsby’s house, for the more safe passage of a troope of horse, that was to surprise Bootham Barre at Yorke, while others came to Micclegate Barre. This, the captaine of the troope, and now Justice of the Peace, will witnesse for me.

“When Sir George Booth, Colonell Egerton, and two more were proclaymed tray tors by the Rumpe, the paper for that purpose was sent to me by the chief constable; I shunned it the first time, and Mrs. Hutton ordered all her servants that if any papers were sent to me, they should take it and give it her, which she purposed to keepe from my knowledge, that I might safely say to my accusors that none came to my hands; but the chief constable sent a messenger subtily, with a charge to speake with me, and deliver the paper to my owne hands, which he did, and, seeing that ministers were enjoyned to publish four loyal gentlemen to be traytors, I gave the paper back again, and said I believed they were loyal subjects. I was threatened by army-men to be turned out of Poppleton, and had not General Monck found Mr. Lambert other work, some of Lilberne’s souldiers had procured my ejection.

“When Mr. Lambert was gone into the north, and General Monck’s declaration came forth, a gentleman, the Duke of Buckingham’s chief steward, acquainted me with his message that he was to carry to General Monck, from some gentlemen, namely, that if he did not give satisfaction privately to them, and many other loyall persons through the kingdom, that he would desert the cause of the Rumpe, and stand up, at least, for the readmission of the secluded members, or a free election of Parliament-men, he could not expect the assistance of the gentlemen. The messenger gott safely to General Monck and back againe, and made me privy to the answer that he returned.

“As I remember, about this time the Yorkshire gentlemen made and printed their declaration at Yorke. Not long after, I was engaged to goe with a gentleman (Captain Levitt) to wayte on the Lord Fairfax, and acquaint him with Lilburne’s design to sett a guard neare his house at Nun-Appleton, or to fetch him to Yorke. That night, about one of clocke, he went to Ardington (Arthington); the gentleman that went with me, assured my Lord Fairfax, that within a day or two his lordshipp should have a sufficient guard to attend him to Ardington. The next day one comes to me while I am sitting with Mrs. Hutton at dinner, and tells me of Sir Thomas Slingsby’s danger to be sent for to Yorke, and that some others sent him, desirepng] me to wayte on Sir Thomas Slingsby, and entreate him to goe with his forty horse, that he and his brother had in readinesse, to Ardington. No sooner was I gott to his chaplaine’s chamber, by name Mr. Heskyth, butt Sir Thomas comes running to know the newes, und after takes me into the house to some other gentlemen. After some debate they resolved to goe that night to Ardington, and when it was darke sett forth. The Duke of Buckingham came with many gentlemen to Knaresborough, and thence resolved to come with what force they had to Yorke, leaving promises from some there to helpe them into the city by two posternes. On Saturday night, att twelve of clocke, a messenger came to me from Knaresborough with a little piece of paper, it which it was thus, or to this purpose written, ‘Gentlemen, wee intend to bee in Yorke to dine with you to-morrow, att noone — make ready for us.’ About midnight, I did arise and consider how, according to my trust, I might gett this piece of paper, with some other verball instructions, to certayne loyal persons in Yorke, who had promised to help to betray, or rather deliver, the city into the gentlemen’s hands. I sent to Mrs. Hutton, and entreated her to rise, who, before one of clocke, was ready, and wee sent for a woman and a younge man, her son; and Mrs. Hutton did looke to the sewing of a piece of paper in some close place of the woman’s clothes, and then wee sent them away to bee ready to goe into Yorke; by that time the Micclegate wicket was opened by the guard; they gott in and delivered the paper safely. While I was in my sermon, a souldier, staying at home, in Upper Poppleton, went out of his house, and espyed the company coming: ridd straight to Yorke in the forenoone, and caused the gates to be shutt up, and posted to Lilburne to tell him all, who imadiately came to Micclegate Barr himself, and secured the posternes also.

“There is a passage in the covenant, whereby hypocriticall Oliver, and many others with him, were engaged to maintain the honour and happinesse of the King’s Majesty, and his posterity, whereby, I endeavoured to disuadge some, yett living that had tooke the covenant, from going against Sir George Booth; and endeavoured a conviction to the parties, and to diverse others in Poppleton, that the army practised quite contrary to that engagement, by opposing his Majesty’s returne. For this plain dealing, I was grievously threatened, when Lilburne returned out of Cheshire. I shall add one passage more. When Mr. Love, and Mr. Gibbons, were beheaded, for endeavouring to procure a supply of moneys to the King, in Scotland, one Colonel Purefoy, came to give a visit to a lady, to whom hee was allyed. In discourse I tooke that liberty of speech, which occasioned his saying in a passion, ‘That if any desired that Charles Stuart, the King of Scotts, should reigne in England, they were traytors,’ upon which I held my peace, because he was one of tho Rumpc at that time.”

In 1851, Dr. Shipperdson sold the estate in several parcels. The manor, with the hall and adjoining farm, were purchased by the Rev. Augustus Hopper, M.A., rector of Starston, in the county of Norfolk, nephew to Dr. Shipperdson. To this gentleman I am under great obligations for the attention and courtesy he has shewn me in the course of my enquiries, by permitting me to examine a considerable collection of ancient charters, and other evidences in his possession, connected with this manor, and for the general interest he has taken in forwarding my design. To him also I am indebted for the annexed pedigrees.

The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) - figure 11.png

There are several places within this township which may be mentioned as having been the residences of families of the class of yeomen.


This place possesses no interest beyond the fact of its having given surname to a family, who at a very remote period resided here, and members of which frequently appear as witnesses to charters connected with the district, down to the reign of Henry V. or VI.

The earliest mention of the name is that of “Adam de Helay,” as a witness to a charter in the reign of Henry III. A “William de Helay” appears as witness to another undated charter, not later than Edward I. A “John de Helay” occurs as a witness to another undated charter; and an “Adam de Helay,” witness to another dated 1335.

A John de Helay, in the 5 Henry V., [1416,] along with two others, released to Robert Rockley, Esq., certain lands with which he had been enfeoffed. This is the last evidence I have found of them, in connexion with this township.

A family of the name of Wright was resident here in the reign of Henry YIII., and probably at an earlier period. They were also resident here in the reign of Elizabeth.

In 1490, Richard Wright had a dispute with John Jackson and William Morehouse, respecting the right of their respective wives and families to stand and kneel in a certain stall in the church of Burton, which was settled by the kirkgraves, (churchwardens,) who, after hearing evidence on both sides, gave their award, which proved adverse to Wright’s claim.


This is a large farm, pleasantly situated. The buildings are comparatively modern, and possess no features worthy of remark. The name is of considerable antiquity, and like several others in the district, it gave surname to a family, who were resident here at a remote period. Robert de Wolwro appears as a witness to a charter not later than Edward I. By a charter without date, Margary, daughter of Richard de Wl-Wrohe, granted lands in Scelley to Richard Hunt. A Robert de Wlve-wro was witness to charters dated 1312 and 1316 respectively. The name is variously spelt: in one instance it is Wulf-wro, which seems clearly to point to its derivation, from that destructive animal. This is supported by a charter dated 1 Edward II., [1307,] wherein two acres of land, in the lordship of Shelley, are granted in “that field which is called Wolf-falls, in which these thieves fell.”[5]

In the reign of Charles I., this was the property of John Clayton, of Clayton Hall, Esq., who was a Justice of the Peace during the Commonwealth. He was in possession of the estate in 1667. By an inquisition in 1677, it was found to have vested in Joseph Watkinson, in consequence of the decease of his brother, Edward Watkinson, without issue. In the reign of Queen Anne, it was purchased by, and became the residence of the Stocks’, a collateral branch of the Stocks’ originally of Stocks, in Thurstonland, whence they derived their surname.

The late Samuel Stocks, of Wakefield, Esq., devised this and other estates in this parish, to his daughter Sarah, wife of Thomas Farmer, of Arthington Hall, Esq., in whom it now vests.


Commonly called “Shelley-Woodhouse,” was an ancient homestead. There is nothing in its present appearance to recommend it to notice, except that notwithstanding its elevated situation, it has been chosen as the site of a woollen mill. At a very remote period, it gave name to its possessors. The name appears in three charters without dates, but somewhat differently described in each, viz.— Adam de Scellay Wodehus, Adam del Wodehus, and Adam de le Wodehus, and yet it is not improbable these may all refer to the same person.

In the reign of Henry III., or early in that of Edward I., some of the property had passed into other hands, for, by a charter about that period, William Spinke de Scheluelay Wodhous granted to Henry de Scheluelay, his lord, and Robert, his son and heir, the whole of his lands, which had been given him by his father in the territory of Scheluelay.

By a charter dated 5 Henry V., [1416,] Robert Taillior de Byrton, William Pelle, the chaplain, and John de Heelay, granted and confirmed to Robert Rockley, Esq., John Stonelegh de Ledes, and William de Hanlay, lands within the territory of Shellay, which had been granted to them in trust, by Robert de Wodehous, but for what purpose is not stated.


This place is quite undeserving of notice as regards its present appearance, but formerly like others already mentioned, it gave surname to a family of considerable importance in the West-Riding for several generations. A Richard de Gris occurs as witness to charters dated 1307 and 1312 respectively.


This place has been the residence of a family of respectability at a very remote period, and from it they acquired their name of addition.

The following charter evidences, in which they appear for the most part as principals, will best inform the reader.

In a charter without date, but not later than Henry III., Thomas, son of Robert de le Rodis, granted to Peter, son of Pagam de Scheluelay, clerk, and to his heirs, &c., the whole of his lands “de le Rodis in villa de Scheluelay,” with all pastures, woods, &c. This charter is in fine preservation, written in a clear and beautiful hand, and having appended to it the seal in green wax, with s. tome Robert quite perfect.

By another charter without date, and not later than Henry III., Adam, the son of William le Trievur de Wake... [Wakefield ?] and Alice his wife, granted certain lands in “villa de Schellay,” to “Ricardo, clerico, de Rodys et Edus uxori suse et eorum heredibus ex eis legi.” &c. Here we have not only the celibacy of the priesthood violated, but the marriage publicly acknowledged. Among the witnesses to this charter, was John de le Hyl, then seneschal to Earl Warren.

Richard de Rodes, “clerico,” appears as a witness to a charter without date.

In another charter without date, about the reign of Edward I., Adam, son of Eduse del Rodes granted quit claims to Henry de Schellay, his lord, of all his right, &c., in the corn mill, in Schellay; the said Adam reserving to himself, and his heirs, the right to have ground, at the said mill, all the com grown upon his lands, at Rodes, at the rate of every twenty-four vessel.

By a charter dated 1 Edward II., [1307,] Robert, the 'son of Elias de Scheluelay, granted to Adam, the son of Richard, the son of Ellen de le Rodes, two acres of land, within the lordship of Scheluelay, “in illo campo q. d. Wlfalles que in acciderat fure.”

In 18 Edward II., (1324,) Nicholas de Schellay, son of Nicholas, granted by his charter, to John de Grenegate de Wakefeld, “consanguineo meo unam bovatam terrae, in villa et campis de Schellay, una ac totam terram meam in le Roides, cum pratis et bosco eisdem adjacentibus et cum omnibus edificis, et pertinentibus suis.” The witnesses were John de Schellay, Lord of Shellay; William de Byrton; and John de Schellay, senior.

Independent Chapel.

The independent interest here had its rise from the preaching of the Rev. Benjamin Kay, vicar of Kirkburton, who died in 1793, and held high Calvinistic sentiments.

The theological views of his immediate successor were widely different, on which account some of the congregation seceded from the church, and met together for religious worship at Burton lane-head. They chose for their minister William Thorp, a self-educated man, possessed of good natural powers, which he greatly improved by reading and study, and became an eminent preacher. He remained with them about two years, then removed to Netherfield chapel, near Penistone ; thence to Chester, and lastly to Bristol, where he died in 1832.

He was succeeded by ___ Rathall, a Baptist minister, who remained till the congregation built this chapel in 1796.

Robert Harper, from Melbourne, was the first minister who preached at the new chapel. He remained four years, then removed to Northowram, near Halifax, and died at Stockport.

The next was Robert Blake, from Bridlington. He remained five years, and then removed to Ossett, near Wakefield, but ultimately emigrated to America.

John Hanson, succeeded, from Elland. He remained ten years, then removed to the neighbourhood of London. He afterwards returned to Yorkshire, to take charge of a small congregation at Loxley, near Sheffield.

Mr. Hanson’s successor here was ___ Sugden, from Grassington, in Craven. He resigned within two years, and was succeeded by ___ Stewart, who, after remaining five years, removed to the neighbourhood of Manchester. His immediate successor was ___ Whitworth, from Manchester. He remained eight years, and then removed to Northowram.

G. B. Scott, late missionary in Ireland, Manchester, &c., was minister here in 1848.

The chapel is a neat building, and has a small grave-yard. Attached, also, is a house, for the resident minister.


Eliza, wife of George Benjamin Scott, pastor of this church and congregation, died November 18th, 1847, aged 32 years.
Martha, wife of George Townend, died June 8th, 1848, aged 84 years. Also, the above George Townend, who died July 22nd, 1851, aged 89 years.
Ann, daughter of Amos and Hannah Townend, of Shelley, died September 17th, 1830, aged 13 years.

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (New Connexion).

This chapel was built by the Wesleyans about the year 1789, and vested in trustees.

About 1797, some dissatisfaction arose in the Wesleyan body respecting the management of the affairs of their churches, in which Mr. Alexander Kilham, one of their popular preachers, took a leading part, and which, ultimately, led to a secession of a few of their preachers and a small section of the body.

The trustees of this chapel, with the majority of the congregation, joined the Kilhamite party, and in consequence of the chapel not being under the control of “Conference,” they succeeded in retaining possession. This is one of the few chapels which passed into the hands of the seceding party, and has since maintained an independent position.

A spacious school-room was erected in 1835.


“On an inclosure of the commonable land in this township, about twenty-three years ago, [viz., in 1803,] an allotment of six acres, or thereabouts, was set apart, with the consent of the lord of the manor, and other proprietors of land in Shelley, and awarded to the Vicar of Kirkburton, and the churchwarden and overseers of Shelley, in trust, for the use of a schoolmaster, to teach the children of Shelley; and a house for the schoolmaster, with school-room adjoining, were shortly afterwards erected, by means of a subscription. The master of the school, who is appointed by the trustees, occupies the school premises, and receives the rent of the allotment, which is £12 a year—the full annual value; and in consideration thereof, he instructs four poor children in English reading, writing, and accounts, free of charge; and other children in the like branches of learning, on moderate terms, fixed by the trustees.”[6]

The enclosure of the Common Lands of this township took place in 1808, comprising 70 acres.

The ancient enclosure — 1350 acres.

Total — 1420 acres.


  1. Mr. Hunter’s South Yorkshire, vol. ii., p. 424.
  2. To suppose that Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Dodworth, was the daughter of Katherine de Schellay, and sister to Johanna, is rendered improbable by the circumstance of the manor not being held jointly as co-heiresses.
  3. In the 3 of Elizabeth’s reign, I find “Richard Kaye, of Dodworth, gentleman,” who then released his interest in lands, at Overbrokholes, in Thurstonland.
  4. Archbishop Williams died in 1649, when the See remained vacant till after the Restoration.
  5. One method of taking and destroying these animals was by digging deep pits and covering them slightly, which no doubt was what is here alluded to.
  6. Charity Commissioners’ Report.

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