Chapter 3.


      The two major centres for our Daggetts were for several centuries the neighbouring rural parishes of Pickhill and Topcliffe, between Ripon and Thirsk in North Yorkshire. Topcliffe is a very large parish of about 15000 acres, having a population in the mid-1800s of 3000, of which 680 were in the main village around the church of St.Columb. Other townships or hamlets within the parish included Catton, Baldersby, Skipton-on-Swale, Dishforth and Rainton. Baldersby and Skipton are adjacent to Pickhill parish and are of some interest to us. Maiden Bower in Topcliffe was one of the seats of the Percy family, Earls of Northumberland. In later times Topcliffe was famous for its annual horse fair. Unfortunately this degenerated into a major nuisance for residents lasting for three days in July- a fact which led to its cessation in 1970 after a run of more than six hundred years.

      The Daggetts of Topcliffe were, during most of the period under investigation, a separate entity from those across the parish border in Pickhill. There was some overlapping between 1720 and 1750 but it is Pickhill that concerns us most.

      Pickhill parish, which has received a variety of spellings, is about a quarter the size of Topcliffe, and its19th century population bore a similar ratio. Its picturesque centre is near the parish church of All Saints. The church is on a mound overlooking an irregularly shaped village green that has a small stream running down its length. The church is largely 13th century. Inside are the remains of some Anglo-Danish stone carvings, which may have some bearing on the origins of the early settlers. The parish contains the hamlets, manors or farmsteads of Roxby, Ainderby Quernhow, Sinderby, Howe and Holm.The last two are very small, the word How indicating a hill. Roxby is of most importance to us. From time immemorial the centre of the parish has been known as Pickhill with Roxby and we have been unable to trace back to where the two were separate. Pickhill appears to have been confined originally to the area around the church, while Roxby was a few hundred yards to the south on the main Village Street. In spite of this uncertainty many of our ancestors were described as "of Roxby, a term which distinguished them from other Daggetts "of Pickhill" or "of Ainderby". No doubt they were all distantly related to one another but the distinction must be borne in mind.

      A great deal of the history of this little known and isolated village has been gleaned from a study of a number of books and articles. For instance T.D.Whitaker in "The History of Richmondshire" deduces that Pickhill probably had a Saxon origin rather than Danish one. Its entry in Domesday is as "Picala". There were two manors, occupied by Tor and Sprot. Ainderby, Sinderby, Swainby and Howe were listed as separate manors but there was no mention of Roxby.A survey of the mid-13th century refers to the "villa" of Rokesby under the heading "Pykehale et Rokesby" and the manors of Swainby and Rokesby were mentioned in a document of 1461. A.H.Smith considers that the name Roxby may have derived from a word for "Routha's farm" and that Pickhill or Pickhall belong to an early farmer, one Pic or Pica.

      A timber castle was built at Pickhill in 1154.It later came into the hands of the Neville family, who obtained a charter in 1307 to have a market and annual fair in the village. In 1319 the inhabitants of that part of Yorkshire were exempted from payment of taxes because of "the losses which they had sustained by the inroads of the Scots". Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, was the normal beneficiary of this income. More recently, Trinity College, Cambridge, became the patron of the living of Pickhill.

Pickhill Village Green, North Yorkshire.

(1530 -1850). The Daggetts resided here during this period.

Page 1

Page 1a

      Pickhill's position, between the Great North Road and the River Swale resulted in communications being generally to the west rather than the east. The only permanent bridges across the river were at Skipton-on-Swale three miles to the south and on the Bedale-Northallerton road. The former would have been on the direct route to Thirsk. Further south was the parish of Topcliffe with all its hamlets along the Swale plain.

      The whole district abounds in place-names ending in"~by", a suffix that completely disappears once the Great North Road is crossed, except for a few instances. These names tend to follow the river down to its junction with the Ure near Aldborough.Examples are Newby Wiske, Maunby, Swainby, Gatenby, Roxby, Sinderby, Ainderby Quernhow, Ainderby Steeple, Exelby, Aisenby, Kirby Wiske, Kirby Hill, Baldersby and MiIby.As mentioned above, similar name-endings are to be found in Saxony and Denmark, whence came the early invaders.

      When the railway came to the area in the middle of the nineteenth century it passed from Ripon to North allerton to the west of Pickhill and through the mound on which the ancient castle had once stood.

      The close-knit nature of each of the separate Daggett families is reflected in the similarly narrowly confined areas in which they lived. It is astonishing that immediately one steps outside the boundaries of such parishes as Pickhill, 'Topcliffe and Aldborough there is a marked and sudden drop in the frequency of the family name. Indeed, there are several adjacent places where the name has never been found at all! Of course, modern human mobility has changed all that.

      There have been no Daggetts at Pickhill since about 1850, but one of the older houses on the bend at the southern end of the Roxby street is still locally known as "Daggett House", although there appears to be nothing to advise the stranger of this fact.

      For about twenty years early in the 18th century our ancestors lived at Topcliffe. Part of this time was spent in Baldersby, where other Daggetts had already resided. This hamlet is on the main road from Ripon to Thirsk, three miles south of Pickhill centre. It is a similar distance from its own parish church of Topcliffe. Nowadays the new parish of Baldersby St.James has assumed some importance.The old parish of Topcliffe is very spread out, containing a number of separate manors and farmsteads, but its church of St. Columba was completely rebuilt in the 19th century.It is famous for its large, Flemish palimpsest brass of 1391. Leland in his "itinerary" of about 1540 mentions the timber bridge over the Swale.He describes Topcliffe as " an uplandisch Toune " with the Earl of Northumberland's former seat at the Manor House. In the 1840's the population of the whole of Topcliffe parish was about 3,000 of which 680 were in the main village and about 300 in the hamlet of Baldersby. The whole of the parish is rather flat and very open.

      Our William III died at West Tanfield and his daughter; Elizabeth lived there for a few years. This was at Binsoe, a couple of miles from the village. Nine years after William III married Florence Nelson in Pickhill, the couple was living in West Tanfield with their family. At the same time (in 1747) a Richard Nelson of Bimsey (would this be Binsoe?) was married in the parish church. So far we have not been able to trace the provenance of Florence, but this event may give us a clue for future investigation. West Tanfield is five miles northwest of Ripon and is on the important route from Ripon to Leyburn. It is known chiefly as a former seat of the Marmion family. The gatehouse is all that remains of their castellated mansion, next to the parish church. Tanfield Bridge, over the River Ure, is scheduled as an Ancient Monument. It was broken down by great flooding of the river in February 1733 and later widened during last century. There are several Bronze Age barrows and other monuments in the vicinity.

      Boroughbridge is in the parish of Aldborough.The latter has some extensive remains of a Roman city which stood on the earlier main road to the north. The road was later diverted through Boroughbridge, which gave the latter greater importance.

      Now, Boroughbridge itself has been bypassed, but it is still a busy place in its own right. Celia Fiennes travelled through the county of Yorkshire in 1687 on horseback and she describes Borrowbridge (to give it one of its alternative spellings) as being famous for its salmon, although she did not see any in the River Ure there. She bought a "codfish" a yard long for which she paid the sum of eightpence and large crabs were on sale at a halfpenny each. Daniel Defoe also visited the place and made several comments about it. He describes the Four Devil's Bolts, now known as the Three Devil's Arrows. These are megaliths, up to 30 feet high, on the southern edge of the village. They are regarded as Neolithic or Early Bronze Age ceremonial monuments.

      For a short time our William IV lived at Scorton in the parish of Bolton-on-Swale.This is near Catterick. The parish included the hamlets and villages of Whitwell (the, home of two Dodsworth families), Scorton, Kiplin and others. The living was a curacy under the vicar of Catterick. The Church of St.Mary has a lofty tower and in the churchyard is a large grave dated 1670.This is said to have carried the inscription to Henry Jenkins who died at the age of 169 years!

      Scorton, with its 19th century population of 500 - equal to the rest of the parish put together - is noted for its unusual village green. This is walled, although only for a short height, and is reached by a few steps up from the level of the surrounding roads. It is a favourite scene for village cricket matches. Scorton was famous at one time for its archery contests, which started here in 1673. It is also known for the school founded by Leonard Robinson in 1720. According to Arthur Young who visited the place it was run on the same lines as Eton School and boarders were charged £10 a year. Other expenses brought up the total cost of keeping a boy at the school to about £15 in 1769. A large nunnery, a foundation of the House of St.Clair of Normandy, was built nearby in 1795.The village of Scorton covers an area of 2600 acres. The site of an ancient racecourse has been discovered, possibly dating back to Neolithic times!

      William Daggett IV moved to York between 1801 and 1803. His offspring remained there for half a century and some details of the City are given in the sections dealing with these. The history of York has been largely connected with the Minster, around which so much of its life still revolves. In the year 670 Archbishop Wilfred repaired the derelict church that stood on the site of the present cathedral. The latter was rebuilt in the 12th and 13th centuries until, in 1472, the completed building was reconsecrated in the name of St.Peter the Apostle, as it had always been before. Much of the inside of the choir was burnt down by a fanatic, Jonathan Martin, in February 1829; then during rebuilding a further fire broke out destroying much of the nave roof and the inside of the west tower in 1840. In 1984 the south transept was struck by lightning, resulting in a tragic amount of fire damage.

      York was captured by the Danes in 867 who found that the river afforded an excellent approach. They remained and proceeded to build up the city as a commercial centre. During the Civil Wars of the 17th century Charles I retreated to York and in 1644 the City was under siege.

      By the 19th century there were 34 parishes in York; this figure indicates the immense amount of work awaiting the student who merely has the name "York" as a starting-point for his researches!

      There are many modern guide-books to York and the larger towns, and there are several authoritative works on the history of the City - not the least being a separate volume of the Victoria County History.

      When John Daggett came to London in the early 1860's he stayed for a short while in the parish of St.Pancras. Soon afterwards he moved to East London where he remained for many years before taking a house at Muswell Hill.

      He brought up his family in Hackney - then a respectable suburb - and some of his grandchildren also spent their childhood there. Some were born in southwest London. Our own branch of the family moved out to Walthamstow and then to Wanstead or Woodford. After the Second World War they became dispersed in various directions. As these London suburbs have their own well-organised local archives and public libraries, there is no need to give any further description of them here.

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Next Chapter 4

Picture taken 1985 Picture taken 2020
Home INDEX Contents Forward Volume 1 Volume 2 Tree chart Miscellaneous RAF Archive Pics