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Stokesley (St. Peter)

STOKESLEY (St. Peter), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the W. division of the liberty of Langbaurgh, N. riding of York; containing, with the townships of Busby, Easby, and Newby, 2734 inhabitants, of whom 2310 are in Stokesley township, 41 miles (N. by W.) from York, and 242 (N. by W.) from London. This place anciently belonged to the family of Fitz-Richard, one of whom, in the reign of Henry III., obtained from that monarch the grant of a weekly market, and of an annual fair to be held on the eve of the translation of St. Thomas the Martyr. The manor is now the property of Lieut.-Col. Robert Hildyard, but a large portion of the land belongs to others. The town is pleasantly situated on the road from Northallerton to Whitby, nearly in the centre of the fertile vale of Cleveland, and consists of one spacious street, extending from east to west, along the north bank of the river Leven. The houses are chiefly modern, and of handsome appearance. Till lately, the inhabitants were partly employed in the linen manufacture, which was carried on to a considerable extent, and in the spinning of yarn and the manufacture of patent thread, for which an extensive mill was erected in 1823; this mill has been lately taken down, and the site converted into a garden. The market is on Saturday: fairs for cattle are held on the Saturdays immediately before Palm and Trinity Sundays, and on every alternate Saturday between those periods; statute-fairs are held on the Saturdays next preceding May-day and Martinmas. Petty-sessions are held here for the division, on the second and fourth Saturdays in every month; and the town has been made a polling-place for the North riding of the county. The powers of the county debt-court of Stokesley, established in 1847, extend over the registration-districts of Stokesley and Guisborough.

The parish comprises about 5960 acres, of which 1744a. lr. 28p., are in Stokesley township. The lands are rich, and generally level, forming an extensive plain adorned with thriving plantations, and enlivened by the winding streams of the Leven and Tame, which abound with trout of excellent quality. The manor-house, the residence of Lieut.-Col. Hildyard, is a handsome mansion pleasantly situated near the church. The living is a rectory, with the curacy of Westerdale; it is valued in the king's books at £30. 6. 10½., and is in the patronage of the Archbishop of York. The tithes of Stokesley have been commuted for £956, and the glebe comprises 76 acres; the rector's tithes in Westerdale have been commuted for £250, and the glebe comprises 11 acres. The church was rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, in 1771. There are places of worship for Independents, Primitive Methodists, and Wesleyans. The free grammar school was founded by John Preston, Esq., who in 1814 bequeathed £2000 for its endowment; the validity of the bequest was disputed by the next of kin, and the funds consequently accumulated to £4000. The school-house was rebuilt by the trustees, in 1833, and the school has been since conducted by a head master who has a salary of £80, and an under master who has a salary of £50. It affords gratuitous instruction in the classics, and in writing and arithmetic, to about twenty-seven boys; and the building, which is in the early English style of architecture, is well adapted to its purpose. A national school is supported by subscription. The West Langbaurgh savings' bank was established here in 1823, and has deposits to the amount of £17,000, belonging to several charitable societies and about 600 individuals. There is also a dispensary for the relief of the sick poor. The union of Stokesley comprises twenty-eight parishes and places, containing a population of 9046.


Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.