Individual Farm: Littleburn

[Under Construction].



The earliest record in Aysgarth Parish Registers is in 1725/6 when Littleburn is mentioned January 1725/6 when the death and burial of William Sadler of Littleburn is recorded. How long did the Sadler's reside there - First? MILL?

In December 1748 the baptism of a son Tristram of Mr. Hogg Littleburn is recorded. The last baptism of a member of the Hogg family was in 1756. Length of stay?

The next family to live at Littleburn were Robert Tennant (1729-1807) and his family. Robert had been successful at breeding horses and he used some of his wealth to purchase Littleburn House. In May 1781, Roberts daughter Ann Tennant (????-????) of Littleburn appears in the Aysgarth Parish Registers when she married Rev. James Law (1755-1831) Aysgarth curate. The couple obviously resided at her parents home as a daughter is baptised three years later. Rev. Law as well as being Aysgarth curate was the school master at Cross Lanes School from 1779-1784.


In July 1788, son Christopher Tennant (1761-1835), of Littleburn married Mary Purchas (1769-1847) of West Burton. Christopher was also the school master at Cross Lanes School, however his conduct was deemed unsatisfactory and the Trustees tried unsuccessfully to have him removed. Christopher appears to have squandered his fathers money and left his wife and children with little means of supporting themselves, becoming labours rather than gentlemen! 


Following the death of Robert Tennant of Littleburn, the house described as "A neat, commodious dwelling ... with about 20 acres of land of the first quality," was sold by auction, see advertisement below:

Sale of Littleburn in 1807.

Below is a postcard of Littleburn House, date unknown.

Postcard of Littleburn, showing the circular driveway.

One of the most well-known people to live at Littleburn was Morris Robinson, Lord Rokeby (1757-1829). Lord Rokeby is recorded as living at Littleburn in Baines Gazetter, 1823, and Clarkes Gazateer 1828 , see below.

Portrait of Lord Rokeby, courtesty of Royal Trust Collection.


Edward Baines, 1823

(Courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes).

THORALBY, in the parish of Aysgarth, wap. of Hang West, and liberty of Richmondshire; 4½ miles SE. of Askrigg. Pop. 342. Lord Morris Rokeby, Littleburn hall, near Thoralby."

"Clarke's Gazetter, 1828 Clarke's Gazetter, 1828

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes).

The following is a transcription from the above Book:

Transcribed from Stephen Reynolds Clarke Yorkshire Gazetteer, 1828.

p. 257    THORALBY, N. R. (1) a township in the parish of Aysgarth, wapentake of Hang West, 4½ miles S. E. from Askrigg; inhabitants, 342. In this township are Littleburn House, the seat of Lord Rokeby."


"Aberdeen Journal – 6th May 1829 Deaths

On the 19th ult. at Thoralby, near Leyburn, aged seventy-one, the Right Hon. Morris, Lord Rokeby, of Armagh, and a Baronet. His Lordship is succeeded in his titles and estates by his brother, Matthew Montagu, Esq. of Portman Square, London. ..."

"Lancaster Gazette - 13th June, 1829 Deaths

... On the 9th ult. at Thoralby, near Leyburn, Yorkshire, Lawson Dunn, Esq. friend and companion of the late Right Hon. Morris, of Rokeby, whom he survived but three weeks. ..."


Burial: 1829, Apr 24 Morris Robinson, aged 71, Littleburn, Thoralby (Lord Rokeby), buried St. Andrews Church Aysgarth.

Monumental Inscriptions Section F: St. Andrew's Church, Aysgarth

Inside Church North West Corner Window.

To the memory of the Right Hon. Morris Lord ROKEBY late of Littleburn. Erected by Elizabeth DUNN.

In the 1830s, Thomas and Elizabeth Metcalfe farmed at Littleburn, with several of their children being born there. By the time of the tithe the 1840 tithe award and map, show that the house is owned by Rev. Richard Wood (see tithe map below) and in the occupation of Thomas Hogg. At this time only a small amount of land was attributed to Littleburn, whereas in the 1807 sale some twenty acres had been included in the sale. The Hogg family can be viewed on the 1841 Census for Thoralby, residing at Littleburn.

The tithe map for Thoralby in1840 showing Littleburn and the nearby gill of Swinacote running into Bishopdale Beck.

 In March, 1846 Littleburn was advertised for sale in the Wensleydale Advertiser, see below:

The auction details state that Mr Hogg is leaving the neighbourhood and describes "a large assortment of Modern and Elegant household furniture to be sold ... for Ready Money." Included in the sale were a gig and harness, saddles, bridles, a cart and plough and other farming implements. 

From T. Bulmer & Co., History & Topography , and Directory of North Yorkshire 1890

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes)


"Littleburn House, an ancient mansion near the village, but now a farmhouse, was for some time the residence of the Lords Rokeby; and on a bridge, leading to the house, is an elegant Latin inscription from the pen of the fourth Lord Rokeby, who, whilst resident here, published a drama, entitled "John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough," which was printed at Leyburn. Edgeley was formerly the property and seat of Matthew Robinson, Esq., father of Mrs. Elizabeth Montague, a lady of extraordinary talents and conversational powers. In 1769 she published "An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespeare," in answer to the objections of Voltaire, which obtained a great and deserved reputation, and still ranks with the best illustrations of the transcendent powers of the "immortal bard." She formed a literary society, which held its meetings in her house in London, and was nick-named the "Blue Stocking Club," from the circumstance that one of the gentlemen members always exhibited a preference for that colour in his hosiery."

From Eden Vale to the Plain of York, Edmund Bogg, 1894

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes)

The following is a transcription from the above Book:

p. 233-235 Transcribed From Eden Vale to the Plain of York, Edmund Bogg, 1894


"In 1360 a chantry chapel was built here by Maria de Neville, Lady of Middleham, and although suppressed at the dissolution of the monasteries, the site is still known as Chapel Close [Chapel Garth]. Littleburn House, now a farmstead, was for some time the residence of Matthew, fourth Lord Rokeby. On the bridge near the mansion is to be seen a Latin inscription from this lord's pen.



This Egerian bridge, at the expense of the neighbourhood thrown over this river, awkwardly narrow and at times most dangerous, in memory of peace and security, is under God, dedicated to Wellington.

O chieftain, courageous arbiter of war, who bringest peace, as patron of this bridge, receive the floods of this bounding water. May the Great Ocean take these floods of the fountain and may this arch to thy triumph shine!" [text continued below].

Below is a photograph of Littleburn bridge and the house through the trees taken in 1987.

Littleburn Bridge and House through the trees,

1st March, 1987, courtesy of Ann Holubecki.

Below a photograph of the latin inscription on Littleburn bridge.

Latin inscription on Littleburn Bridge - original stone plaque, now on the wall in Thoralby Village Hall.

"At Edgley, for some time dwelt the well-known Mrs. Montague, at whose house in London the famous "Blue Stocking Club" was held. This name was received by the reason of one of the members always wearing stockings of the above colour. The inhabitants of Thoralby received much benefit by those distinguished visitors dwelling in their neighbourhood. Near to the village is Heaning Gill, locally know as the silver chain, a succession of waterfalls and cascades bursting from the wooded heights, and silvering through scenes of remarkable beauty to the vale below. During the Martinmas week Thoralby is roused from her slumbers; then all the young men and maidens are at home for a week’s holiday, and there is the usual dressing up of guys and mumming, etc., and the perambulating of the village to the din of concertina and fiddle, and the begging from house to house for anything to swell the big feast, which takes place either at the inn or some large room, ending with a jumping dance, which concludes the festivities [Thoralby Feast]."

From the 1850s to the early 1900s the Fawcett family resided at Littleburn, being both farmers and carpenters, according to the census returns, but in 1911 the house was recorded as being uninhabited, yet in Kellys  Trade Directory of 1913, Misses Elizabeth & Jane Fawcett are letting apartments at Littleburn. By the time of the 1921 census the John Blades and his family were living at Littleburn and the occupation of John Blades is described as dairy farmer. By 1933 Kellys Trade Directory records John Atkinson as farming at Littleburn. However by the 1940s the Farm Survey shows that James Pickard and his family were living at Littleburn, and farming 40 acres, the holding being owned by  John Blades.

Below is a photograph of Littleburn house when John Atkinson and his family lived and farmed there in the 1930s, finally settling at High Green Farm, Thoralby.

Three members of the Atkinson family at Littleburn House,

c.1930, courtsy of Hearher Percival née Atkinson.


(Courtesy of the Local Studies Collection, Northallerton Library).



"THORALBY … At Littleburn there is an interesting bridge given by the then Lord Rokeby in 1814, with a Latin inscription in honour of the Duke of Wellington."

Below is a photograph of Dalesbread Sheep being judged at Littleburn in the 1950s.

Thoralby's Ancient Buildings, 1950 Thoralby's Ancient Buildings, Dalesman, 1950 Vol. 12 p.269 By W.H. Hodkinson

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes).

The following is a transcription from the above Book:

Transcribed from the Dalesman Vol. 12 October 1950 by W.H. Hodkinson p.270

… "At the other end of the village is Littleburn Hall, once the home of the enigmatic Matthew, fourth Lord Rokeby. Now a farmhouse, it is plain and Georgian in style. Why Matthew chose this quiet spot in which to settle is not known. The general idea is that he had wasted the greatest part of his fortune in riotous living. Even then he must have had an eye for beauty, for from his window he would see the serene outline of Newbiggin village and the huge green hillock of Wassett Fell. That Rokeby had some claim to culture, too, is evidenced in his writing a play about the Duke of Marlborough. Whether it was ever acted, no one seems to know, but it was at least printed, presumably at his Lordship's cost."

Littleburn Bridge - Inscription, 1961

​"Dedicated to Wellington, Dalesman, 1961 Vol. 23 p.433

The following is from the above Magazine:

​"Dedicated to Wellington"


"Littleburn House, about half a mile west of Thoralby in Bishopdale, now a farm house, was 150 years ago a mansion, occupied and maybe owned by Matthew, the fourth Lord Rokeby. On the bridge which is near the mansion is a Latin inscription from the pen of the peer.

The bridge is dated 1814 and seems to be a 19th century war memorial.

Unfortunately the stone is deteriorating". [Now moved to the Village Hall, Thoralby, see photo above].

The translation is:







The little dales 10, Bishopdale

Yorkshire Life Magazine, May 1978 pp.38-39

Photographs and text by

Geoffrey N. Wright

(courtesy of the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes and Yorkshire Life Magazine)


The following is a transcription from the above Magazine:

 … "One goes to Littleburn Hall, early last century a handsome Georgian house of Lord Rokeby, with a stone bridge nearby built in 1814 supposedly as a memorial to Wellington - presumably anticipating Waterloo! …


Below is a photograph of Littleburn House taken in March 1987 by Ann Holubecki.