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Medieval Bishopdale

[This section is under construction].


The Domesday Book, produced in 1086 on the orders of William the Conqueror, was a survey for taxation purposes of all the lands in England. There were three entries in the Domesday Book for Bishopdale: for the villages of Turoldesbi, Crocsbi and Burton, to which was attached the berewick of Ecinton. For the images and detailed information of these entries, see Bishopdale, Domesday.

Deserted Medieval village of Croxby

We have already seen that two settlements were mentioned in the Domesday Book that no longer exist: Croxby and Eshington. The village of Croxby was almost equidistant between the modern farms of Blind Syke and How Syke. Traces of the foundations of the houses can still be seen in the field behind the converted barn called Crooksby. The three fields marked here in red were named Crooksby, Middle Crooksby and East Crooksby on the 1840 tithe map. The ridges and furrows in the medieval West Field can be seen clearly to the west of How Syke, but the field would have extended back as far as the village. A keen eye will also be able to identify some of the ridges and furrows of the East Field on the Thoralby side of the former village.

Deserted Medieval village of Ecinton

Feint evidence of the foundations of houses and of their associated tofts and crofts can still be found on the site of the hamlet of Eshington on the hillside above Spickels. A berewick of West Burton in the Domesday Book, it is still part of West Burton township. Eshington Bridge, Eshington Lane and several fields called Ashington or with Ashington in their name all preserve the memory of the settlement. A neighbouring field in Thoralby township is also called Ashington.

Medieval Bishopdale contained four villages or hamlets Thoralby, Burton, Newbiggin, Croxby and Ecinton) and a scatter of outlying farms, but was dominated by Bishopdale Chase.

1301 Lay Subsidy: Village Totals for the Wapentake of Hang 

A tax or subsidy known as a fifteenth was levied in 1301 in the reign of Edward I and lists the tax payers for each town and village and the amount that each was required to contribute. It was called a fifteenth because the amount payable was a notional fifteenth of the value of one’s moveable goods.


There were 28 taxpayers in Thoralby, paying a total of £7. 0s. 3d., the second highest figure in the Wapentake of Hang, exceeded only by Bainbridge, which included all of upper Wensleydale south of the river. Clearly, medieval Thoralby was wealthier at this time than any other village in the area except Bainbridge. This included Middleham, Leyburn, Masham and Bedale. Burton-in-Walden was also fairly high in the list with 20 taxpayers paying a total of £3. 17s. 0d.

1301 Lay Subsidy: Thoralby

and Burton in Walden

The names of the taxpayers for Thoralby and West Burton provide some interesting information. The terms ‘domina’ and ‘domino’ denote gentry status. We have already noted that Joan de Tatehale was a Lady and that Roger Oysel was probably a knight. Since both would have had a manor house, it is likely that there were two medieval manor houses in Thoralby. 


Surnames were only just beginning to stabilise at this time and many indicated either a place of origin or the trade or profession of the person so named. Therefore, this Latin list of the names of tax payers may give an indication of some of the trades represented in the dale at that time.


For instance, Anglicising the first names, Thomas Preposito was a provost, meaning a steward or bailiff of a manor, Richard Molendinario a miller, Robert Porter a gatekeeper, Richard Pellipario an animal skinner, Adam Raydon a counsellor, Henry Marisscallo a marshal, William Fabro a smith and the occupations of William Forestario and Randoplph Carpentario are self-explanatory. William was probably the forester or ‘bow-bearer’ for Bishopdale Chase.  Adam Parfay is interesting because his surname was an expression meaning ‘by my faith’. It may have been that this epithet had been attached as a surname to a priest.