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

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


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The etymology is evident — Sheep-ley. It is included in the Soke of Wakefield in the Domesday survey, which states, in “Seppeleie two carucates” returned as waste.

This manor appears to have been granted off by Earl Warren at a very remote period, to one of his attendants, who took his name of addition from the place.

In some “Notes and Remembrances of the Manor of Sheepleye, which I have seen, it is stated that “one Matthew de Sheepleye was Lord of Sheepleye,” and steward to the Earl Warren, of the Lordship of Wakefield; and that he had lands granted to him from Thomas de Burge, which said Thomas had of the graunte of Dni Rogeri de Montbegon, to be holden by the 20th part of a knight’s fee, &c., and it is called Hayarn de Kesceburgh,” &c.

I have seen no other evidence in proof of Matthew de Shepley being steward to Earl Warren, at the same time it is by no means improbable; as we find from charter evidence that a “Matthew de Shepleie” was present with his lord, and both were witnesses to a deed from Alice, Countess of Eu, formerly wife of Ralph de Isondon, Earl of Eu, who confirmed the site of Roche Abbey, &c., to the monks. The deed was executed at Tickhill, and the witnesses were William Earl Warren her uncle, Philip Ulecote, William de Cressi, Mauvesyn de Hercy, Baldwin his brother, and Matthew de Shepleie, all knights. This deed is remarkable for having a date so early as 1219.[1]

Here then we have proof of the personal attendance of Matthew de Shepleie upon his lord, and that he was knighted: an honour which would not have been conferred had he not performed some signal services. From a charter from Henry, the son of Roger de Serwind de Cumbrewode to William de Bretton, his lord, in which Matthew de Shepley appears as a witness, who was probably the same person, we have the record of another interesting transaction in connection with this Matthew de Shepleie, and, as it would seem, anterior to his being knighted; consequently, previous to 1219. It is a confirmation of certain lands previously granted by “Matheus de Schepelay” to the monks of Roche Abbey, then confirmed by William, Earl Warren, to the monks : to this charter we have two witnesses who were also witnesses to the charter of the Countess of Eu; namely, — Malvesyne de Hersy and Baldwin de Hersy, but as neither of them is styled knight, we may justly infer this transaction was of a still earlier date.

Omnibus Christi fidelibus, ad quos presens carta pervenerit, Willelmus Comes Warren, salutem in Domino. Sciatis me concessisse et hac presenti carta mea confirmasse Deo, et beate Marie et Monachis de Rupe, pro salute anime meo et antecessorum meorum totam terram de Cumbrewode cum messuagiis, et omnibus pertinenciis quam Matheus de Schepelay, eis debit et cards suis confirmavit tenendum in perpetuam, elemosinam secundum tenore carte Mathei. Hiis testibus Willielmo filio Willielmi, Malveisimo de Hersy, Rico, de Memers, Baldewino de Hersy, Roberto de Brettvile, Radulfo de Eccleshale, Johe de Wakling, clerico, Johe Wkefeld, clerico, Regnaldo Coc.[2]

Sir Matthew de Shepley had a son Matthew, who seems to have lived through the long reign of Henry III. He appears as witness to a number of charters, all without date, except one in 1257. He was succeeded by “John de Scheplay,” whose name frequently occurs in charters of the reign of Edward I., but without dates.

It appears that a “Thomas de Scheplay was lord in 1316, and that he had to wife one Margaret, by whom he had issue John de Scheplay ; which Margaret survived and had her dower assigned.”

“In the 12th yeare of the reigne of Edward III., this John de Scheplay in the court of the Earl Warren, holden at Wakefield, did acknowledge that he held a carucate of land of Thomas de Burgh by homage fealtye and escuage, &c. This John was twice marryed ; by his first wife, Johanna, he had issue William de Scheplay. By his second wife, Margaret, he had issue Robert de Scheplay.”

“William, the elder son and heir, was in ward to John de Burge, son and heir of Thomas de Burge, in the 36 Edward III, [1361,] who sold his wardship to Jennet, wief of William Storres” [Storthes]. “William de Shepley married and had issue two daughters, to wit — Isabell and Dionysia, co-heiresses. Isabell married Robert de Goldthorp, but more frequently called Robertson or Robinson, of Goldthorp, near Barnsley, by whom she had issue. Dionysia married Thomas Stone, by whom she also had issue: and the manor and estates were divided.”

“But Robert de Scheplay, brother of William, had likewise issue two daughters, namely — Alice, wife of ___ Alcoke, and Agnes, wife of ___ Cobbocke ; the elder daughter had issue a son, named John Alcoke: and the second daughter had issue a son, named William Cobbocke.”

“Isabell, the elder daughter of William Scheplay, had issue a son, named Thomas Goldthorpe ; and the younger daughter, Dionysia, had issue a son, named William Stone. These were the next heirs of William Sheplay, who, in the 8 Henry VI. [1429], sewed John Alcoke for a chiste and evidences, which William Sheplay, their grandfather, in anno 12 Henry IV. [1410,] delyvered to Alice, the mother of John Alcoke, to keepe, and for a deed whereby John Sheplay had given the manor of Sheplay to Gilberte de Leighe in fee, and for another deed whereby the said Gilberte had gyven the said manor to John Sheplay, and Jennet, his wiff, and to the heires of their bodye lawfullye issuying,” &c.

“John Alcocke denyed the withholding of the chiste of evidences. But in the yeare after, John Alcocke and William Cobbocke, cousens and next heires of the two daughters of Roberte Shepleye, brought a formedom in descender against Thomas Goldthorpe and William Stone, the coosens and next heires of the two daughters of William Shepleye, for the manor of Shepleye, supposing the same to be entailed to the heires of the bodye of the second wief, &c. This was tryed and found against them. So that the manor hath since contynued in the right line of the Shepleys by force of the deed of entaile, made by Gilberte de Leighe, &c., to John Shepley and his first wieffe in especial taile.”

“Thomas Goldthorpe, the son of Isabel, took to wife, in the 8 Henry V. [1419,] Alice, daughter of Laurence Kaye, the second of that surname at Woodsome. Of this marriage it was stipulated that Laurence Kaye should name the day and place, when and where the marriage should be solemnized: that William Shepley should erafeoff Thomas and Alice in lands to the annual value of 26s. 8d.; and that Robert Robertson, als. Goldthorp, should settle lands on them also. Laurence Kaye agrees to pay them 40 marks. There is also in the same deed a provision for the marriage of William Stone, another grandson of William Shepley, with another daughter of Laurence Kaye. The marriage of Alice took place, and she was living in 1463, when Thomas Goldthorpe, described as of Shepley, made his will; in which he mentions many children, and directs that Henry, his son, shall have a messuage in Goldthorpe, called the Dovecote Land, and a messuage in Bolton. He is to be buried in the cemetry of the parish church of Bolton, with his principale, according to custom. He gives to the high alter 20d., to the fabrick, 2s., to the service of the Blessed Mary, a cow of the value of 10s.; to the support of the tapers burning before the crucifix, 6d.; to the repair of the bridge of Horbury, 12d.; to the torches burning about my body on the day of my sepulture, 2s. He had before this time settled on his eldest son, John Goldthorpe, all his lands which came to him by right of inheritance after the death of Robert, his father, in the townships of Goldthorpe, Bolton, and Billingley, and those at Shepley which had descended to him after the death of William Shepley, his grandfather, on his marriage with Elizabeth,[3] daughter of Thomas Savile, of Hullenedge, in 1456. Savile being to pay to Thomas Goldthorpe 26 marks on the day of the spousal, and in the year after, 20 marks more. The last William Goldthorpe having no male issue, made an entail of his lands, which are described as twelve messuages, thirty acres of meadow, one hundred of pasture, ten of wood, and 20s. rent, in Goldthorpe, Bolton, Billingley, Barnborough, and Shepley, to the use of himself and his heirs male of his body ; remainder to John and James, his brothers, and their heirs male respectively ; remainder to his uncle, William Goldthorpe, and the heirs male of his body; remainder to his right heirs.”[4]

By virtue of this entail they descended to his nephew, Thomas Goldthorpe, of whom we shall next have to speak.

The Goldthorpes had their principal residence at Goldthorpe, till having married the heiress of the manor of Shepley, where they afterwards resided.

In the 32 Henry VIII., [1540, 7th May,] Thomas Goldthorpe, by his deed of this date, sold to Richard Stansfield, of London, an annuity of £20 per ann. for forty-five years, out of the manors of Goldthorpe, Billingley, Bolton, Barnborough, and Shepley, to be paid half-pearly on Lady-day and Lammas, in St. Paul’s church, London ; and for six weeks’ non-payment, to forfeit 40s. as a fine; and for non-payment for a whole quarter of a year, Richard Stansfield to enter to the whole of the rest of the 45 years that was to come. But before this, Thomas Goldthorpe had sold Richard Stansfield an annuity of £8 6s. 8d., for 47 years ; but this was done away by this latter contract of £20 per annum. It was also agreed that if Thomas Goldthorpe should sell or mortgage any of his estate, that Richard Stansfield should have the preference of buying, &c. And if Thomas kept and performed his covenants above-mentioned, a recognisance for £500 as security “shall be void and of none effect; otherwise it shall be of full force.”

In the 34 Henry VIII., [1542, September 16th,] the said Thomas Goldthorpe sold to the said Richard Stansfield, for £290, his “moiety of the manor of Shepley, the hall, a messuage, miln, cottage, and all lands, together with all manorial rights, profits of courts, leets, &c., with all deeds, &c. This terminated the connexion of the line of Goldthorpe with the manor.

In the 13 Elizabeth, [1571,] on the 25th August, Richard Cooke, Esq., of Fulwell, in Essex, sold to John Savile, of Stanley, near Wakefield, Esq., for £520, all the said moiety of the manor of Shepley, the hall, lands and appurtenances, miln courts, franchises, royalties, &c., being of the annual value of £18 9s. 11d.

How the manor, &c., came to vest in Richard Cooke, does not appear; it is not improbable that it passed from Richard Stansfield to him, through marriage ; or Cooke might be his grandson or nephew.

John Savile, of Netherton, gentleman, son of the above John Savile, sold the same to Robert Hepworth, of Shepley hall, his tenant, at two sales, amounting together to the sum of £580 : these transactions bear date July 1st, 36 Elizabeth, [1594,] and the 30th August, 37 Elizabeth, [1595,] respectively. Robert Hepworth died in 1598, leaving Robert his son and heir, who married Frances, daughter of the Rev. John Stowell, vicar of Penistone. He held the office of high constable of Agbrigg, and was appointed collector of the tithes, chantry and other rents belonging to his Majesty, James I., in the West-Riding of Yorkshire. He built, or rather rebuilt, Shepley hall, a small mansion in the style then prevailing, the front part of which still remains nearly entire, as shown in the foregoing sketch. Over the door, cut in the stone, are initial letters of his name, and the year, “1608.”

He died about the year 1616, leaving a son, William, who married ___ Lord, of “Rachdale.” He also appears to have held the office of collector of the king’s tithes and chantry rents ; in addition to which, he held the office of coroner of the district. I have seen a folio MS. belonging to, and written by this person and his father, in which they record many particulars concerning their various duties ; also many private memoranda, and a few incidental notices of occurrences in the district. He had also been employed by Sir Francis Wortley, of Wortley, Baronet, to receive the modus in lieu of the rectorial tithe of this parish, which was at that time held by him on lease from the crown. He appears to have been on intimate terms with Sir Francis, concerning whom, and his family, he has recorded several particulars.

I have had frequent occasion to allude to this MS., from which many extracts have been made in the course of this work, either in recording facts, or illustrating the manners and usages of the times.

William Hepworth seems to have practised as an attorney; his name often occurs in the transaction of public and private business of the district at that time. Notwithstanding his office of coroner of the wapentake, and likewise that of collector of his Majesty’s rents, for which alone he had £20 per ann., and “rather over £15 per ann. of rents out of Lancashire, belonging to his wife,” his worldly circumstances were not prosperous; for in the 5 Charles I. [1629,] the 12th June, he sold to John Firth, of Cumberworth, all his moiety of the manor of Shepley, the hall, &c., lands, woods, free rents, perquisites of courts, &c., reserving to himself and his wife certain annuities during their lives. Hepworth had previously mortgaged a part of the estate for £100 to Gamaliel Whitaker, vicar of Kirkburton, and Hester, his wife; the interest of which was stipulated to be paid “in the south porch of Kirkburton Church.”

John Firth, of Shepley hall, died in 1682, aged 86 years, and his wife, Ann, died in 1694, aged 91. He devised the estate to Thomas Firth, his son and heir, who had issue John and Thomas; to whom, at his death in 1702, he devised the same. Thomas died a minor, when John became sole proprietor. The said John, by his will, devised the same to Thomas Firth, his only son, who married Martha, daughter of John Tyas, of Scholes, and widow of Joseph Green, of Oxlee, by whom she had Joseph Green and three other children.

In 1773, Thomas Firth, then of Shepley hall, conveyed his manor and estate in Shepley, to Joseph Green, of Oxlee, in Hepworth, his stepson, in exchange for messuages and lands at Oxlee ; but in 1775, the said Joseph Green sold the same to Thomas Hardy, of Birks-gate, in Thurstonland, who died in 1836, and devised the same to his nephew and next heir, the late Thomas Hardy, of Birks-gate, Esquire, who was an active magistrate of this county, at whose death it descended to his eldest surviving son, Edward Hardy, Esq., now of Shepley hall.

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The other moiety of the manor and estate of William Shepley, vested in Dionysia, his younger daughter, who married Thomas Stone, and was co-heiress with her sister, who, as we have already shown, married Robert Gloldthorpe.

Thomas Stone and Dionysia had issue William Stone, who was witness to a deed in the 16 Henry VI., [1437]. In the marriage agreement entered into between Robert Groldthorpe, another grandson of William Shepley, in the 8 Henry V., [1419,] with Alice, daughter of Laurence Kaye, of Woodsome, a provision was also made for the marriage of William Stone, the other grandson of William Shepley, with another daughter of Laurence Kaye ; but whether this marriage took place does not appear.

From 1437 to 1574 I have met with no positive evidence illustrative of the pedigree of the Stones, of Shepley manor. In the 17 Elizabeth I find a deed of enfeoffment made by John Stone, of Shepley, yeoman, wherein he grants to William Brammall, John West, and Nicholas Ellyson, all his half of the manor of Shepley, together with all houses and lands, arable, pasture, and wood, in Shepley, to the use and behoof of him, the said John Stone and Dionysia, his now wife, for their lives, and to the heirs of their bodies lawfully issuing; and in default of such issue, to Francis Brammall, son of the said William Brammall, and to his legal issue ; and in default to the right heirs of the said John Stone.

John and Dionysia Stone had, however, issue an only child — Anne Stone; who married in 1601, Thomas Morehouse, then of Shepley, by whom she had issue William Morehouse, baptised 21st November, 1602. She died the following spring, and was interred at Kirkburton, 26th April, 1603 ; so that her son, then an infant, became at the death of his grandfather, which was during his minority, sole possessor of this moiety of the manor and estate, and likewise sole representative of the family of Stone: which, by the death of John Stone, the grandfather, became extinct in the male line at Shepley. The said William Morehouse married Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Oglethorpe, of Pontefract Castle, Gentleman. The marriage settlement bears date 12th April, 1626; wherein he conveyed to trustees the whole of the capital messuage and manor of Shepley, called “Stone place, or Stones’s manor,” together with certain lands therein mentioned, after his death, for the use of Elizabeth Oglethorpe, during the term of her natural life. The deed mentions his father, and likewise Dionysia Stone, his grandmother, as both living.

We find that in 1649 he sold a part of his estate, and that in 1654 he was under the necessity of alienating the remainder, — the hall and manor, &c. — to John Hollingworth, of Tintwistle, in the county of Chester.

What were the circumstances which impelled to such a necessity, we have not seen stated; but the marriage settlement, which is in the author’s possession, seem to supply an important link in elucidating the cause which probably led to these disastrous consequences. The trustees appointed in this settlement were the Rev. Gamaliel Whitaker, vicar of Kirkburton, and John Johnson, of Wriggleford, yeoman. It has already been shown that Mr. Whitaker was an active royalist, and lost his life in the cause ; it is also more than probable that Mr. Johnson, who had married Mrs. Whitaker’s sister, took the same side. It is moreover abundantly evident that Mr. Francis Oglethorpe, who is stated as then “of Pontefract Castle,” and held a commission in the army, was also in the royal cause: for Thoresby mentions “the very ancient family of Oglethorpe, of Oglethorpe, which place had continued in the family till the civil wars, when it was lost from their loyalty, and it is said several of the name died at once, in the bed of honour : being slain in a battle near Oxford, of the King’s party.” It seems, therefore, highly probable that William Morehouse had espoused the royal cause, and become involved in its troubles.* He was buried at Kirkburton, 3rd July, 1672 ; his wife Elizabeth had also been interred there, 16th July, 1663. John Hollingworth devised the estate to John Wagstaff and others, who sold off portions to several parties ; but they made their last sale, including the manor, to William Radcliffe, Gentleman, bearing date 15th May, 1708 : from whom it descended to his son, William Radcliffe, of Milns-Bridge, Esq., Lieutenant-Colonel of the West-Riding Militia, and a Justice of the Peace. He died without issue in 1795, aged 85 years. By his will he made his nephew, Joseph Pickford, sole heir to his estates, who thereupon took the name of Radcliffe, and likewise fixed his residence at Milns-Bridge, where he became an active and efficient magistrate of the district. For the courage and energy which he displayed in putting down Luddism, he received the honour of a baronetcy in 1813, at the recommendation of Earl Fitzwilliam, at that time Lord-Lieutenant of the West-Riding.

* Such was the unsettled state of the times, that it is impossible to pourtray the losses and deprivations which were entailed upon each party; both had eagerly engaged their fortunes and their lives in the service, with noble bravery and determination; but at the close of the war, alas ! too many found their estates involved, their constitutions broken, and their expectations disappointed. Upon the royalists this may be supposed to have fallen with a heavy hand, but upon many of those who had fought valiantly in the field for the cause of liberty, and after a long and arduous struggle had gained so complete a victory, it must have been a deep source of mortification to find they had only been putting down one despot to create another; that, however high their admiration of Cromwell as a general, or brilliant his exploits in the field, yet his intrigues and dissimulation but too plainly indicated his desire of power and aggrandisement; so that whatever stood in the way of his accomplishing these ends, was disposed of in the most unscrupulous manner. Sir Thomas Fairfax, an honest and brave man, was not disposed to adopt the extreme views of his rival, and therefore soon became distasteful to him, and ere long was treated by him with marked disrespect; and many of those who had fought with him shared the like neglect.

We have been led to premise these remarks on introducing here a very brief notice of a parliamentary officer, who resided in. the adjoining parish of Penistone, and which to some extent illustrates the subject under consideration. Adam Eyre, of Hazlehead, in Thurlstone, was a gentleman of good education, and resided on his own estate; he held a captain’s commission, and served under Sir Thomas Fairfax ; and at the close of the war his claim against the state was £688 8s. He had been under the necessity, from the non-payment of his arrears, of mortgaging his estate to meet his personal expences while in active service. His brother, Joseph Eyre, who died unmarried before 1647, had also served in the army, and seen considerable service, and his claim against the state was £1,168 13s., which was not paid in 1649. Judging from the fact that the mortgage upon Adam Eyre’s estate remained unpaid at the time of his death, which took place in 1661, soon after the restoration, it may be regarded as certain that neither of these claims had been discharged. A similar claim of Captain William Rich, of Bullhouse, against the state, amounting to £700, was not paid in 1656; and doubtless never was paid.

Captain Adam Eyre kept what he styles a “Diurnal of my life,” a diary from the 1st January, 1647, to the 27th January, 1649, with some slight intermissions. This MS. is in the author’s possession, and is in several respects a curious document; but as it was commenced after the war had drawn to a close, it does not supply us with any material records concerning its progress. It, however, gives us an insight into the manners, habits, and social condition of the better class of yeomanry, to which he belonged. The candour with which he unbosoms his cares, his joys, and his sorrows, renders it often not devoid of interest, notwithstanding the great monotony of a rural life.

It was the intention of the author to have introduced a considerable part of this diary into the present work, but it is found that so doing would involve considerable delay in its publication, from the necessity there is to supply local information for the elucidation of many parts of it ; and as Mr. Eyre did not reside within the limits of the present topographical survey, it does not seem necessary that it should form a part of it.

This moiety of the manor has since descended with the title.


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A new church, was erected here in 1848, at a cost of £1,500, through the influence of several influential inhabitants ; but principally through the persevering efforts of the Rev. Richard Collins, the vicar, whose laudable efforts in providing spiritual instruction and accommodation for this widely-extended parish, is deserving of grateful acknowledgment. It is a neat structure, with a small turret at the west end, which contains two bells. It is surrounded by a spacious burial ground; in immediate proximity with which have also been erected a neat parsonage and schoolroom.

The Rev. John Collins, M.A., is incumbent.

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (New Connexion).

In 1837 this branch of the Wesleyan body erected a neat chapel in the village, at a cost of £650. Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

In 1857 a small chapel was built at a cost of £120.

National School.

A National school was built in 1854.

British School.

In 1834 the principal inhabitants and land-owners in the township erected a spacious schoolroom, by subscription, which is conducted on the principles of the British and Foreign School Society’s plan.

There was formerly an old schoolhouse in this village, which was founded in 1 William III. [1689,] by the Rev. Richard Thorpe, a Presbyterian divine, (who had been ejected in 1662), and was then residing at Hopton, being the owner of a considerable property in this district. He conveyed the said schoolhouse to four of the principal inhabitants of Shepley, in trust, who were to pay to the said Richard Thorpe, his heirs and assigns, “the yearly rent of a red rose, if demanded,” — “to the intent and purpose nevertheless, and upon this express trust, that the said schoolhouse shall so continue to be constantly employed for a schoolhouse for ever.”

Notwithstanding the benevolent founder’s intention, the schoolhouse, many years ago, was allowed to fall into decay, and at the present time not a vestige of the building remains to mark the site.

The principal trade of the village about 80 years ago, consisted in the manufacture of sale yarn. It was spun for warps, and taken on pack-horses to Dewsbury market, and sold. The market people were usually assembled early in the morning by the sound of a horn, when they proceeded on their way together.

This branch of business led to some of the inhabitants becoming hawkers of stocking yarn, and as their means increased, they extended their dealing to cloth and general drapery. The success of their enterprise stimulated others to follow the example.

This village, about 25 years since, possessed a very humble appearance. The change has been remarkable. Its increase of population has been rapid, and its progress in manufactures has also been great.

Shepley was formerly noted for its bull and bear baitings ; and its young men obtained some celebrity as players at knor and spell. These sports no longer meet with popular favour.

The enclosure of the Common Lands of this township took place in 1826, comprising 220 acres.

The ancient enclosure — 1030 acres.

Total — 1250 acres.


  1. Mr. Hunter’s South Yorkshire, vol. ii., p. 251.
  2. “Rudulf de Eccleshall,” Lord of Ecclesall in Hallamshire, gave lands to the Abbey of Beaucheif. He was also a witness to a grant of Gerard de Furnival to the monks of Kirkstead before the 3 Henry III. [1219]. See Mr. Hunter’s Hallamshire, p. 196.
  3. Thoresby calls her “Alice.” See Ducatus Leod, p. 114
  4. Mr. Hunter’s South Yorkshire, vol. ii., p. 387.