Capplebank, West Witton, Yorkshire

Francis Staveley of Wensley moved just across the Yore river to West Witton after the death of his first wife Elizabeth in 1658.  Parish register entries in both Wensley and West Witton indicate that Francis was "of Capple Bank" in West Witton.  The photograph to the right shows Capple Bank Farm still stands (the large white house in the shadows of the lower right corner) and is surrounded by a high park wall. 

Capplebank House

"West Witton is a large village, yet with an amount of decay about, which speaks of better days.  Its situation is most commanding, on the northern slope of Pen Hill, and overlooking the woods of Bolton with magnificent views  beyond.  It is of great antiquity, having had an existence in early Saxon times, probably Celtic...There are several old houses in the place; the most ancient is Catheral Hall...Hunters Thorn, Capplebank (a "capel" being a layer of a thing placed over another of the same material), Briskill and Wadham are well-known locations...On the slopes of Pen Hill, winding woodland paths have been made, with rustic seats etc., and the water of a beck runs in a series of small cascades along a veritable fairies' glen, shaded by splendid trees, the ground carpet of such flowers as love sylvan thickets.  The dim distance is suggestive of romance, the near hand of simple natural beauty.  Not far way is "Chantrey" now a farm...Here was a private chapel attached to the Abbey of Jervaulx.  In the vestry window of West Witton church are portions of old stained glass, bearing the arms of the abbots of Jervaulx."  --Edmund Bogg

After the death of his first wife Elizabeth, Francis married Jane HAYES in Winwick, Cheshire.  The marriage license was issued in the Diocese of Chester on January 6, 1662 and reads "Francis Staveley, Parish of West Witton, Yorks., and Jane HAYES, of Kenyon, Parish Winwick, Lancs."  It is unclear how Francis and Jane would have met, but as will be shown below, Francis did travel extensively for his employer, Charles Powlett.

In 1666 a son Francis was born to Francis and Jane, and was christened at St. Bartholomew's in West Witton.  In 1670 son Henry was born, but the child died before the age of two and is buried at West Witton.  It is Francis (1666) that is believed to have been subsequently residing in Thoralby in 1698 at the time of his daughter Elizabeth's baptism at St. Andrew's, Aysgarth.  There is a suggestion of the possibility of a daughter Margaret born to Francis and Jane, based upon a burial entry for her in 1679 in West Witton, however a birth record has not been found.

Family of Francis Staveley and Jane

The earliest reference to Francis Staveley outside of the parish registers is regarding fee farm rents in the region of Barnard Castle in Durham.  This is the first of a number of references for Staveley, Robinson and Bagshaw, in association with Charles Powlett, son and heir of the 5th Marquis of Winchester:

January 29, 1672/73

1) Rt. Hon. Francis, Lord Hawley; Sir Charles Harbord, Knight, H.M. Surveyor General; Sir William Haward of Tandridge, Surrey, Knight; Sir John Talbot of Lacocke, Wiltshire, Knight; and William Harbord of Grafton Parke, Northampton, Esquire (trustees for sale)

2) Rt. Hon. Charles, Lord St. John of Bazing and Ralph Bucknall of St. Sepulchers, London, Esquire

(3) Francis Staveley of Capplebanck Parke, Yorkshire, gentleman; John Bagshaw of Westbolton, Yorkshire, gentleman; and Wastell Robinson of Yorkshire, gentleman

Attested copy of conveyance by (1) to (3) of the yearly rent of £34 5s.3d. out of lands in Pierce Bridge, the yearly rent of £29 19s.4d. out of lands in Gainford and the yearly rent of £35 6s.2d. out of lands at Elwick, the yearly rent of £43 11s.9d. out of the Manor and lands of Egleston and the yearly rent of £42 15s.9½d. out of lands in Eldon upon trust for the Queen for life.

Note of inrolment in Chancery, 8 February 1672/73

Consideration: £1451 18s.

Sd. by Lord St. John

Francis Staveley's association with Charles Powlett endured for many years, and Francis acted as Trustee on Powlett's behalf.  This is somewhat interesting, as by many accounts Powlett was rather interesting, and somewhat disliked man:

"...he (Powlett) was a man of a strange mixture. He had the spleen to a high degree and affected an extravagant behaviour; for many weeks he would not open his mouth till such an hour of the day when he thought the air was pure. He changed the day into night, and often hunted by torch-light, and took all sorts of liberties to himself, many of which were very disagreeable to those about him. He was a man of most profuse expense, and of a most ravenous avarice to support that; and tho' he was much hated, yet he carried matters before him with such authority and success, that he was in all respects the great riddle of the age." -- Bishop Burnett

Later that same year a copy of bargain and sale also refers to the same Staveley, Bagshawe, and Robinson syndicate:

August 2, 1672


1) Francis, Lord Hawley, Sir Charles Harbord Highways Surveyor General, Sir William Haward of Tandrigg county Surrey, Sir John Talbot of Lacocke county Wilts and William Harbord of Grafton Park, county Northants esquire (trustees for sale of fee farm rents)

2) Charles, Lord St John (son and heir of marquis of Winchester), Ralph Bucknall of London esquire, Francis Staveley of Capplebancke Park, John Bagshawe of West Bolton and Wastell Robinson of Wensley gentlemen


Rents in Thorne, Beverley, site and damenses of Fountains Abbey (Fountains, Brymbam, Brymbam Grange, Brymbam Park, Park Grange Haddockeston, Swanley, Clayton Grange, Sutton Grange, Brameley Grange, Nittwith Cote, Aldborough, Northcote par Nassam, Kirby Walsherd, Swineton, Ilkton and Wardon, Overashehed, Netherashed, Potte Graunge, Lasthouse Graunge, Sykes, Burthwaite, Callfale House, Westholme House, Eastholme House, Sykes Furth, Hashaye Grange, Baker Graunge, Newhouse in Baker, Feltkeckhouse, North pasture House, Bollershaw Brasty Wood, Warsall Graunge, Balderby, Kirkby Wiske, Morehouse, Calde, Stanford, Hardcastle, Bridgehouse, Thwaite House, Treppehouse, mill in Netherdaile, Hertwith, Windesley, Walham Dale, Hawthorne, Dernbroke, Hallogill, Foxhope Overheselden, Netherheselden, Lytton, Stoderhall, Wynbanke, Scothorpe Will, Knolbancke, Langor House, Cogill Coate in Nether Bordley, Overbordley, Ingerthorpe, Wallerthwaite, Merkingtun); rectories of Martin and Difforth, manor of Galgough alias Galghey (ie in Craven, Kirkeby Maldefert, Clothoron in Ripon); rectory of Thorner; manors of Multon Barwicke super Teaze, Anderby, Warlaby and Gilling; rectory of Weymorsley; manor of Heslington Crake Hall and Hull."

The following year In 1673 the Hearth Tax Returns show a "Mr. Staveley" (presumed to be Francis) owned 6 Hearths in West Witton, the second largest house in the parish. Then, in 1688 a Treasury Calendar entry regarding an audit in 1681 for the sale of some land in Risby (near Beverley, ERY) references the same syndicate comprised of Francis STAVELEY OF Capplebank Park; Jonathan BAGSHAW OF West Bolton, Wensley; Wastell ROBINSON OF Wensley mentioned in the 1672 reference above.

It was unclear from the Hearth Tax exactly who Mr. Staveley was, but the Treasury Calendar entry, and the burial entry for Francis in 1697, suggest this was indeed Francis Staveley of Capple Bank.  The Treasury Calendar record suggests that Francis was likely a shrewd businessman. The Risby property was part of land held on behalf of Charles Powlett, Marquis of Winchester, who was created Duke of Bolton in 1689 having built Bolton Hall in 1678.

An additional record supports that the syndicate of Staveley, Bagshaw and Robinson were managing properties on behalf of Charles Powlett, who is now the 6th Marquis of Winchester:

19 January 1683/4:  "Grant for £144: Charles, Marquis of Winchester and his trustees Francis Staveley of Capplebank Park esq. & Wastell Robinson of West Bolton gent. to Thomas Jackson of Nunnington gent. :-- fee farm rent of £9 for the farm of the rectory of Pharam (Wharram) Peircy --: Witn. Will. Mason, Jno. Colton, John Coleman, Rich. Williamson, Rog. Staveley."

It is interesting that Roger Staveley, Francis' son, is listed as a witness to this transaction as Roger appears to have maintained this association with the Powletts, even after his father's death, in the management of lands associated with Bolton Hall.

Exactly where Francis Staveley of Capplebank is buried was for some time the subject of great debate!  Francis died in 1697, of that there was no doubt. However, there were TWO burial entries for Francis Staveley of Capple Bank, one in the Wensley parish register, the other in West Witton, both entered on the same date:


10 Sep 1697, Wensley, Holy Trinity, Francis STAVELEY of Capple Bank West Witton

10 Sep 1697, West Witton, St. Bartholomew, Francis STAVELEY

It wasn't until a reference was uncovered in the Notes to the Bishop of 1723 in the Wensley Parish Register that this anomaly was explained, and now we understand why it appeared that Francis was buried in two parishes at once...

"West Witton is supposed to have been part of the Parish of Wensley for they bring their dead to be buried in that churchyard and pay an Easter offering yearly of 3d per house .... there is a churchyard at West Witton large enough to hold all their dead, but so rocky that they cannot dig graves..."  Certified by Curate 1723.  (Rev. Lewis)

It appears that Francis' death was recorded in the registers of West Witton, the parish of his residence, but the above record suggests he would have been buried at Holy Trinity Churchyard in Wensley, and hence the burial was also recorded in the Wensley parish registers.

It is obvious from parish registers and Hearth Tax returns that Francis was a respected man in the village of West Witton, and his son Roger maintained lifelong ties to Bolton Hall in Wensley.  Hopefully over time additional information regarding both Francis and Roger can be gleaned from the surviving records of these estates and other properties managed by them on behalf of the Powletts.

Francis and Jane's son Francis b. 1666 was, at least for a time, living in Melmerby, near Coverham, and about 2.5 miles from Bolton Hall.  He paid land tax in Melmerby between 1703 -1735.  In 1719 he appears in the Quarter Sessions, accused of keeping an unlicensed Ale House in Melmerby. 

Francis and Elizabeth's son Roger was a lifelong resident of Wensley and remained in the employ of Bolton Hall until his death in 1713. 

Son William however did not remain in Wensley for long, and we pick up his descendants in East Witton.

Author: Clare M. Staveley


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