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Clifford surveys


Between the 13th and 16th centuries, the Percy Earls of Northumberland held a substantial estate in North Craven which had holdings in Ribblesdale, Langstrothdale and Littondale. The estate rarely attracted the interest of biographers and, from the 13th to the 19th century, we are forced to turn to rent surveys and land deeds for an interpretation of its history. Two of the most important documents from the point of view of understanding North Craven's social and economic circumstances are surveys carried out for new lords of the manor in 1499 and 1579. In 1499 Henry Percy became the fifth Earl of Northumberland, and George Clifford acquired the estate on becoming the third Earl of Cumberland in 1579, the estate having passed from the Percies to the Cliffords through marriage in the 16th century.
The 1499 survey (CH BAS /47/1), is in Latin, and is in a difficult hand with many abbreviations and contractions but, fortunately, an English copy of this survey was carried out in 1520, and is now to be found at the YAS ( DD121/32/1). Also at the YAS is the 1579 survey (DD121/24/2) and, following permission from the owner, Mr Sebastian Fattorini, the 1520 and 1579 surveys were photographed for transcription. This deposition comprises photographic images of these two surveys and transcriptions of the surveys facing the images of the survey. Although great care has been taken in checking the transcriptions, a small number of words, particularly surnames, are difficult to read. The juxtaposition of the images of the original survey pages with their transcriptions should allow future researchers to check the accuracy of the few ambiguous entries. For completeness, a copy of the 1499 survey images is also included in the deposition but not a transcription because it is almost identical to the 1520 survey.

On first viewing, the 1520 and 1579 surveys appear to be of limited historical interest, being mainly brief descriptions of the holdings and catalogues of rents and gressums ( sums due whenever there was a new lord of the manor or new tenant); only outside the village centres were property names given, allowing the properties to be located. The key to understanding of the importance of the surveys lies in a recognition that rents did not change between 1499 and 1579; the lord of the manor's income kept pace with inflation by increases in gressums rather than rents. Indeed, it is not only between 1499 and 1579 that rents remained constant. Some rents in the 1499 survey may be identified in an Inquisition Post Mortem for Henry de Percy of 1314 (NA C134/41/8 ), while others may be identified in 17th, 18th and 19th century deeds, allowing a substantial number of properties to be identified through their unique rents. An extreme example of such traceability is the Giggleswick corn mill which paid a rent of 66s8d to the lord of the manor in 1314, 1499, 1520, 1579 and 1836. The general area in which the mill was located at Catterall Hall was sketched by Turner, and a recently discovered millstone in the ground of Catterall Hall school confirms the location of the 14th century mill.

The 1579 survey was the last major survey of North Craven until the Tithe Surveys of the 1840s, and the reason for the persistence of medieval property rents into the 19th century is explained by the near bankruptcy of the third Earl of Cumberland in 1603. Following an extravagant lifestyle at the court of Elizabeth I, when his outgoings far exceeded the income of a relatively modest northern aristocrat, George Clifford had to turn to his tenants for substantial sums of money, forgoing the right to future gressums in return. However, Clifford and his successors retained the basic rents until the 19th century, when they were finally sold by the Duke of Devonshire, generating deeds which were registered at the Deeds Registry in Wakefield ( now WYAS/W).These rents, which became known as "ancient" or "reserved" rents, were typically ls-2s an acre for land, and a few pence to a few shillings for buildings and, although of little pecuniary value, remained a formal charge on property and are quoted in a large number of deeds of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the field names found in the 16th century surveys survived to the Tithe Surveys, and the maps which accompanied the Tithe Surveys have enabled the late medieval field systems for Settle, Giggleswick and Long Preston to be reconstructed (Stephens 2001), (Stephens and Moorhouse 2005 ) (Stephens 2008).

The 1499, 1520 and 1579 surveys therefore have an importance far beyond the confines of the 16th century, enabling us to interpret surviving documents from earlier and later centuries which might otherwise be meaningless. Included with this deposition is an article which shows the pivotal role of the 16th century surveys in decoding the development of Long Preston, which comprises a settlement around a village green which existed at Domesday, together with a later freehold settlement at the north of the village and a small monastic settlement belonging to Bolton Priory which was built sometime after 1304. It is hoped to add similar articles on Giggleswick, Settle and Langstrothdale at a later date.

CH Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
NA National Archives ( formerly Public Records Office, Kew)
WYAS/W West Yorkshire Archive ServiceWakefield YAS Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Leeds


Stephens, T., 2001. Settle farmers and traders; New perspectives from the archives on the evolution of Settle, North Yorkshire. Yorkshire History Quarterly Vol7 no 1 pps 31-46
Stephens, T. & Moorhouse, S. 2005. The Giggleswick Lodges of1499. YAS Medieval Yorkshire. No 34 pps 2-14
Stephens, T. 2008. The Birtwhistles of Craven and Galloway; the greatest graziers and dealers in the kingdom. North Craven Heritage Trust Journal 2008 p13.


I would like to thank Mr Sebastian Fattorini for permission to photograph the 1520 and 1579 surveys, and Mr Stephen Moorhouse for bringing my attention to the surveys of 1499 and 1520.

The Clifford Surveys - Copyright matters
Photographs and transcriptions of the Clifford Surveys of 1520 and 1579 were made by Tony Stephens, the documents being held at the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in Leeds, with permission of the owner, Mr Sebastian Fattorini of Skipton Castle.
The photographs are held in the archives of the North Craven Heritage Trust in Settle. They can be inspected but not copied unless permission is given by the copyright holder, Skipton Castle.
©Fattorini, Skipton Castle.


Reproduction of the transcriptions is subject to copyright of Tony Stephens who has allowed North Craven Heritage Trust to display them on this website. Permission is needed to copy any part of these images for any purpose other than personal research.

1520 Clifford Survey

7 pages

1579 Clifford Survey

Long Preston, pages 3R to 23L

Settle, pages 27R to 42R

Giggleswick, pages 45R to 66R

Rathmell, pages 70R to 71R

Littondale (plus Horton-in-Ribblesdale), pages 76R to 93L

Langstrothdale, pages 96R to 116R

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