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Taken from Rivers, Rectors and Abbots, David Lunn - Bishop of Sheffield, 1990...

From Selby Abbey to the West Riding County Council

There is a pleasing simplicity and continuity at the core of Rawcliffe's history from 1069 - 1919. For in 1069 it was one of the estates given to Selby Abbey by William the Conqueror at its foundation. Through the subsequent centuries bequest (and probably purchase) strengthened the Selby connection. In time Rawcliffe became to Selby as Chequers to 10 Downing Street. For the Abbot built here a Manor House that was both a 'holiday home' for the monks and great house for the Abbot. By a wise interpretation of the Rule most large monasteries had such a place where from time to time the monks could enjoy a 'change of air' and some modest relaxation from the strictness of the monastic life. We can imagine some hard-worked monk at Selby murmuring to himself 'only three more weeks and I'm off to Rawcliffe'. Clearly Rawcliffe was a good place to be for there are records of important visitors staying there with the Abbot. But this holiday atmosphere did not prevent the Abbots from showing a continuing concern for both the economic and spiritual well-being of the Community. The financial problems of a Mediaeval Monastery are fascinating. Basically they needed money to pay for the raw materials and the work-force without which their increasingly ambitious building programmes would fail. That sometimes centuries would pass between the beginning and finishing of some great enterprise was almost entirely due to lack of money. For the great estates with which an Abbey like Selby was endowed, though they could produce food with which to feed the great household of the Abbey, did not by themselves produce money. Hence the great rivalry between the monasteries (notably between Selby and St. Mary's, York) to ports establish on their estates. These not only increased the opportunities of selling their own produce, but also, more importantly, gave a cash income from tolls and dues.

That Rawcliffe is on the Aire at a point where it is still reasonably navigable and has dry access by a long established road to inland Yorkshire made it an obvious place for a port. The Poll Tax returns of 1379 show that Rawcliffe was, for those days, a sizeable place and this prosperity must have been based on trade rather than agriculture. Without the help of any large single contribution from a nobleman they paid £2/8/8. The residents included one 'Schypmanne' and two ladies called 'Avelline'. The survival of documents from the past is very haphazard but we know that in 1322 'William de Howden of Rawcliffe and John son of Ranulph de Roucliff were given a licence to trade - but with the condition that they did not communicate with the Scots or the men of Flanders'.

Rawcliffe was part of that ancient Royal Estate which made up the 'Spirituality of Snaith' (which was why the King could give it to Selby) and so was always part of the Parish of Snaith. But nonetheless, for over 900 years there has been a place of worship at Rawcliffe. The first chapel was licensed in 1078 but this may have been simply a room in or adjacent to the Monk's House. But in the 14th Century permission is given that the people at Rawcliffe 'should have in their Chapel newly built, a baptismal font, but without prejudice to the Mother Church of Snaith'. This Chapel was necessary, we are told, 'by reason the same parochians cannot resorte to their paroche churche many tymes for the weteness of the ground and grete inundations of waters'.

The 1379 Poll Tax tells us of 'Master John, Chaplain of Rawcliffe' who must have a strong claim to be the first 'Vicar' of Rawcliffe whose name is known to us. With the passage of time some 'well disposed people' gave 'certain parcells of land towards the levinge of the incumbents thereof'.

The 'Old Days' lasted longer in Rawcliffe than elsewhere. For with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 the last Abbot of Selby became transformed into the first Squire of Rawcliffe. He had made his peace with Henry VIII and emerged with a pension of £100 and ownership of Rawcliffe Hall with its 'nine rooms, namely, Hall, Great Parlour, Buttery, Kitchen, Larder, Milkhouse and Brewhouse on the ground floor and two Chambers above'. The old Abbot's death (and burial at Snaith) in 1558 must have seemed like the end of an era. Yet the pattern set by Selby over nearly five hundred years of a resident landlord concerned with both the economic and spiritual well-being of the community was going to survive for nearly another four hundred years.

In 1558 the Abbot's estate at Rawcliffe was purchased by John Boynton. The family prospered quietly and this meant the building of a new house to the east of the village (on the site of the present Rawcliffe Hall) in the 17th Century style to replace the now hopelessly out of date mediaeval house. This new house had three storeys: on the ground floor was the Hall, Dining Room, Drawing Room Study, Library, Kitchen, Pantry and Service Room; the second floor had six chambers with Closets and Dressing Rooms, and a further 'chamber up the back stairs', on the third floor was the 'Men's Chamber' and the 'Clarks Chamber' and six Garretts opening off the long gallery.

The Boynton era lasted until the very end of the 18th Century and saw another major attempt to develop the port, and for a time between 1720 and 1780, Rawcliffe became an important trade centre. The main trade would seem to be from small vessels that took the products of the West Riding to Hull, but there was also a trade to London and further afield. And as in the previous age, the spiritual needs of the people were not forgotten.

The late 17th Century sees a succession of acts of generosity by the Boyntons. Sir John Boynton (the builder of the new house) gave a Silver Chalice to the church in 1684. His brother Francis who had left Yorkshire for a merchant's life in London in 1694, bequeathed £500 to the Chapel of Rawcliffe together with lands in Rawcliffe and Newland with which to endow a school. And Matthew Boynton, the youngest of the three brothers, who succeeded Sir John at Rawcliffe Hall (for Francis no doubt was doing too well in London to come home) built and endowed almshouses for four poor widows and left an endowment of £20 per year for the benefit of the Minister of the Chapel at Rawcliffe. Matthew died in 1700 and we are told that his widow 'Mrs. Judith Boynton rebuilt the present beautiful chapel at her sole expense.'

From 1794 onwards for 'Boynton' read 'Creyke'. The actual succession is a complex tale for, for a number of generations, the estates had passed through the female side with the husband then taking the name of 'Boynton'. But Ralph Creyke, who married the heiress of Rawcliffe in 1772 traced his ancestry back to the Danes. This family with its headquarters at Marton Hall, near Bridlington, had been an important part of the Yorkshire land-owning squirearchy for centuries. He had no intention of abandoning his surname.

So in 1794, when Matthew Boynton died, Ralph Creyke and his wife Jane and their family came to Rawcliffe. The Creykes seem to have been both richer and livelier than the Boyntons. And they very much followed in tradition of their Selby and Boynton predecessors in caring for the economic and spiritual well-being of the neighbourhood.

The second and third Ralph Creykes at Rawcliffe were both noted agriculturalists. As Sir Tatton Sykes transformed the Wolds with new farming methods, so Ralph Creyke 'transformed the face of the Marshland area from swampy wet peatland to fertile arable land'. His son (1813 - 1858) made considerable use of the method of warping by which the waters of the river are allowed, under controlled conditions, to flood the land so that the rich soil they are carrying is deposited on the land.

The fourth Ralph Creyke (1849 - 1908) however, focussed his energies on the industrial and commercial expansion of the neighbourhood. His agriculturalist father had, in the spirit of the family, welcomed the Railway to Rawcliffe in 1847. There is hardly an enterprise linked to the expansion of Goole in which his son's name does not appear. He worked hard to ensure that there were sea-going ships based in Goole. In his spare time he was also Member of Parliament for the neighbourhood. But side-by-side with this commercial acumen went a real commitment to the well-being of the village. In 1842 Ralph Creyke (the 3rd) was the principal subscriber to the building of the new church. And in 1908 it was Ralph Creyke (the 4th) who extended it with a fine new chancel. Similarly in 1824, 1854 and 1875 varying Creykes played a significant part in the founding (or helping with the founding) of schools. In 1897 Rawcliffe Hall was almost totally destroyed by fire and promptly rebuilt in great style. The Architect was Walter H.Brierly of York.

In 1908 Ralph Creyke died. His funeral marked the end of an era as surely as that of the last Abbot of Selby exactly three hundred and fifty years earlier. Surprisingly, despite his creation of a Creyke Chapel in Rawcliffe Church and his father's burial there, the decision was taken that the burial should be with his ancestors in Marton Church. The funeral procession to the special train at Rawcliffe Station led by the Chief Constable, and with the whole village taking part dramatically represents the wealth and confidence of Edwardian England. At first it is not so easy to see why it was a turning point. For now a fifth Ralph Creyke lived at Rawcliffe Hall with his widowed Mother and his Brother. But in 1914 came the Great War and both brothers were officers in France. Edward the younger brother was killed but Ralph returned safely. But not to Rawcliffe for long. 'The new squire,' I'm told by one who knew him 'went in for night-clubbing in London'. In 1919 suddenly the whole estate was sold. Rawcliffe Hall and the acres around were bought by the West Riding County Council. The house was to be used as a home for the mentally handicapped and the land was divided into small holdings for returning soldiers and a number of fine houses built. The distinctive style can best be seen in the 'White Houses' along the Rawcliffe-Goole road. Alas, few of these small holdings flourished and they have now been for the most part absorbed into larger units. Major Ralph Creyke went to live in London. There are no links between the Creykes and Rawcliffe except that a great nephew of the last Ralph Creyke (who lives in Ireland) bears the barren title of 'Lord of the Manor of Rawcliffe'.

This apparently inexplicable flight is part of a pattern. In parish after parish in the Diocese of Sheffield after centuries of peaceful succession the gentry sold up and fled in the years immediately after the Great War.

The Church and the Clergy

Until 1824 (or even perhaps 1842) Rawcliffe was part of the great parish of Snaith. That the Vicar of Snaith since 1910 has been the Patron of Rawcliffe and so had had the prime responsibility of choosing the Vicar witnesses to that link. But nonetheless Rawcliffe Church has had much the same sort of history as an ordinary parish. There have been three (or perhaps four) churches in the village and they seem all to have been on the same site. The first was that 'new built' by the Abbot of Selby round about 1350 in which, perhaps for the first time, a Font was allowed so that the children could be baptised locally and so escape the journey to Snaith. This ancient Chapel nearly perished at the Reformation when all 'Chantry Chapels' were being done away with because they, allegedly, encouraged superstition. Yet Rawcliffe was spared 'so that parishioners should cristen and have all manner of sacraments ministered there, saving burying'. That was in 1540. One and fifty years later devotion destroyed the old Chapel when, around 1700, the widowed Mrs. Judith Boyton 'rebuilt the present beautiful Chapel at her sole expense'.

In 1754, at last, the grievance about burials was put to rights when one of the Enclosure Acts both provided land for a burial ground and financial compensation to the Vicar of Snaith for the loss of funeral fees. One can't help feeling that this was the issue, rather than the 'wetness of the ground' that through the centuries had kept all burials at Snaith!

In 1841 the brave decision was taken that the now populous village needed a new and bigger church. A popular firm of local architects, Hurst and Moffatt (who were later to build Goole Parish Church) produced plans for a church with three galleries to seat 700 people and cost £1,840. 1842 was not a good year for church building and it is difficult to be really enthusiastic about any of Hurst and Moffatt's churches. Yet it stands well on the village green and by 1851, as the Census Records show had over 500 people through its doors on a Sunday.

To us today the 20th Century decision to extend the church by the building of a chancel in a totally different style seems ill-advised. I'm led to believe that the intention was eventually to rebuild the whole church in the style of the new chancel, but events worked against this.

Clearly the fourth Ralph Creyke expected his family to be at Rawcliffe for centuries to come. After the great fire of 1897 the Hall was rebuilt bigger, grander and more splendid than before. And the new chancel, though it was no doubt intended to meet the liturgical needs of its day - nearly every church by 1910 had a large robed choir and that needed choir stalls and they needed a chancel - was also designed to be a Creyke family burial Chapel. After 150 years the family had apparently decided that they now belonged to Rawcliffe and not Marton, for the new church was built in 1908 - the year that Ralph Creyke died. His son's disinterest in Rawcliffe, the Great War, and then the sale of the Creyke estates has meant that the curious amalgamation has become acceptable through three quarters of a century's familiarity.

Since the Middle Ages there must always have been someone who was responsible for 'the Cure of Souls' of the people of Rawcliffe. And though strictly speaking that person was the Vicar of Snaith in practice the 'cure' has usually been exercised by a Chaplain or Curate appointed by either the Abbot of Selby or, after the Reformation, by first the Proprietor of the Snaith Peculiar and then by the Vicar of Snaith.

From the earliest times no doubt the Abbot of Selby appointed the 'Chaplain' or 'Curate' at Rawcliffe. And so as it grew into a proper parish the Abbot's successor, the Proprietor of the Peculiar of Snaith, became the Patron and so Rawcliffe has the same succession of 'Yarburghs' and 'Deramores' as Snaith and Whitgift. But this stopped in 1910. For in that year the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were prepared to increase the benefice income but, by a rule of those days, they were not able to do this if a parish had a lay person as Patron. So in 1910 the Patronage was transferred to the Vicar of Snaith, who has preserved the ancient link between Snaith and Rawcliffe by appointing the Vicar of Rawcliffe since 1910. But Rawcliffe is a completely independent parish. The Vicar (now the Rector) of Snaith has no other rights in the parish than that of nominating the Vicar.

Visitor Comments

Posted by Jack Lloyd Ellerthorpe,Jr at 11/09/2005 18:25
Grateful for the fine work showing my family's hometown. I am a direct decendant of John Ellerthorpe jnr. the hero of the Humber 1806-1868. My family lived in the village of Rawcliffe from about 1750-1832. Should anyone have interest in my family surname or be of relation please contact me.
Posted by Judith Boynton at 14/09/2005 01:42
What a wonderful site - I have been researching my Boynton descendency and I came across this article. I am a Boynton from New Zealand whose gggrandfather's name was John Boynton born in County Cork, Ireland and worked in London possible from about 1814 onwards as a Boilermaker Engineer at Walmsley and Sons, Marshgate, The Strand, near the River Thames. Gggrandfather was born about 1794 and married a Caroline Wandesford in London. From here we are unable to find anymore information on who gggrandfather descended from. I will be very grateful to hear from you if you are able to help me in my research.
Kindest regards and thank you for your site and possibly a connection to our Boynton's here in New Zealand
Posted by Jack Lloyd Ellerthorpe,Jr at 14/09/2005 23:35
Those who may be related to the Ellerthorpe surname with interest in the earlier times of this area may contact me at the family migrated to canada in the year 1832 and then to the states in 1856
Posted by Susan Morris at 24/02/2006 04:41
Many thanks for a fine historical perspective. I am an amateur family historian from Western Pennsylvania in the USA, and have discovered that my great-great aunt Alice Oliver was a housemaid at Rawcliffe Hall c 1881. I very much appreciate the information offered here about the area and the interesting Creyke family whom she served. Still looking for a period picture of Rawcliffe Hall, c 1881!
Posted by Mary Keatley at 03/03/2007 23:06
Just found this site which I found very interesting. My Grandfather John Bennett was groomsman for Ralph the fourth from about1900 to 1914. When he saw their first motor car he said he could drive it, and promptly drove it through the stable doors. Are there any staff records still surviving?
Posted by Cliff Carl at 28/09/2007 10:56
I was born and lived in Rawcliffe until 1963. I remember a tale told to me about Ralph Crayke calling on the services of the local Blacksmith to open a safe that the key had been lost. He opened the safe and presented the bill for two shillings and sixpence. Mr Crayke said "half a crown to open the safe seems a little expensive". The Blacksmith said " Sir I only charged one shilling for opening the safe, the other one shilling and sixpence was for knowing how to do it".
Posted by Dianne Villesèche at 04/12/2007 03:39
Very interesting article... my daughter is a great great great granddaughter of Ralph Creyke through his son, Walter Lancelot Creyke.... a tragic and little known bit of history lies there.
Posted by P at 10/02/2008 17:01
Trying to contact Adrian Hall whose grandfather lived at the station house Rawcliffe (your email is out of date)
Posted by June Page. Nee Heppleston at 18/02/2008 16:07
I was born in Rawcliffe January 1946. I have an older brother, John. We moved to Cambridge in 1957, for my Father's work, when the paper mill at Rawcliffe Bridge closed.
I have many happy memories of the Rawcliffe people and hope some of them may remember me!
Posted by Maggy Whiting at 15/07/2008 23:31
My dad lived most of his early years in Rawcliffe, until the 1940s. His name was Lawrence Allinson. Any one who remembers or is connected to the Allinson family, please get in touch.
Posted by Stella Mehew at 09/10/2008 21:47
I am compiling a history of Loughrigg Brow, Ambleside which is where Mrs Frances Creyke moved in 1919 when Ralph went to London. Is anything known about Mrs Creyke?
Posted by ROBERT HARNESS at 31/10/2008 17:36
A very interesting read on Rawcliffe Church, my father Leonard Harness born Oct 18th 1908 was christened on the same day that the new chancel was opened. He told me the story when he was alive, he died aged 88.
I have a copy of the parish magazine which comfirms his story
Posted by Kath Mackrill at 13/01/2009 22:49
I have been researching the Boynton and Creyke families of Rawcliffe Hall for many years. A family story says that we are descended from a daughter of one of the families who lived at the hall and ran away with a man of humble origin (pre 1820). She was subsequently cut off from her family and they disowned her. I cannot find a link with my family of Whittles and any of the Boynton or Creyke females. can anyone help with this or have any more information on the two families than is given in this article?
Posted by ken greaves at 28/04/2009 09:48
If any one is interested i have a font from rawcliffe hall believed to be from the 1700 it was removed from the now cleared ruins of a church? We were told built in the 1700 the font may be older at the moment it is being used as a planter in the garden
Posted by Linda Byrne at 10/05/2009 17:44
Thank you for an extremely interesting article. My maiden name was Mapplebeck and my ancestors came from Rawcliffe. My grandfather, George Mapplebeck was a cordwainer in Rawcliffe in the 1850's. His wife, Adele Catherine Lajoie who originated from France worked (so I am led to believe!) as a nursemaid to the children of a small mill owner in Rawcliffe. I am very interested to know how she came to be in Rawcliffe! Apparently, at the time of their marriage (St James Church Rawcliffe) on the 27 May 1850, George was residing in Whitby. Did they meet there? Did she sail into Whitby from the continent. Does anyone have any information on mill owners in Rawcliffe at that time? Any information would be greatly received and much appreciated, as I am at a loss as to where to find this information. My e-mail is:
Posted by Darla Creyke at 25/05/2009 03:58
My grandfathers name was John Creyke.His fathers name was Walter Launcelot Creyke. He as working up in Telegraph Creek in 1907,he married a native princess named Coenishma in Telegraph Creek, B.C., on August 17,1908. could these two be the same persons? Your help would be helpful Thank You Darla
Posted by val mortimer at 28/03/2012 23:47
Would love to chat with anyone who is a descendant of the Rawcliffe families of Ellerthorpe and England as I am also a descendant.
Posted by stephen at 09/09/2012 11:27
I have alot of ancestry links to great great grandfather was born there in 1831..thomas ward.also one of my ancestors was a samuel ward b.1829 who served in the crimean war.we have a joe mundy who worked at rawcliffe paper mill as manager in possibly 1960's..does anyone have information on any of these people ? presumably there are still families of wards in that area.
Posted by Kevin Ward at 16/08/2013 11:11
Re. comment by Stephen (Ward?)09/09/2012
We may be distant relatives - I am a descendant of William Ward who I believe to be the younger brother of your GGGGrandfather Thomas's father Samuel.
I have got back a further generation to Joshua Ward who married Mary Pearson in 1779.
If you pick this up or perhaps if the webmaster can kindly supply your email address it would be good to compare histories.
I am on
Posted by Melanie Doyle at 16/09/2013 20:00
My descendants were the ffrance family who resided in the Hall in the 1800's, ownership of the hall was passed in a will to the family lawyer on the condition he took the name ffrance (Wilson - ffrance). I have conflicting info on why it was passed on out of the family, one being the last squire died without issue and the 2nd his son became catholic. So have a few bits of the jigsaw puzzle missing! If anyone has any further info would love to hear.
Posted by ednaaustin at 31/10/2014 00:52
Re Susan Morris I have a period pictures of Rawcliffe Hall if you e mail me I will send you them
Posted by edna austin at 31/10/2014 00:54
My e mail is re Susan Morris
Posted by colin hayward at 21/11/2014 22:53
re joe mundy,he was the chief engineer at rawcliffe paper mill,and a director. his wife ada was related to the england family,possibly her maiden name
my family all worked at the mill until it closed in dad was director of production.
Posted by Jeffrey Cowling at 22/12/2014 08:04
My Grandfather Morris Cowling married a Elizebeth ( I think ) Boynton who died when my dad Fred Stanley was aged about 2 years old. My father wanted to include Boynton into my name but mum said no. The Boynton's then lived at 14 Portland Street, Rawcliff Bridge Nr Goole. I wonder if we are related.
Posted by ROBERT HARNESS at 31/12/2014 21:39
I have just read the short history of the Creyke family which some of it my father used to tell me about before his death in 1996. My father Leonard Harness was born in Balle Isle Rawclffe, to Charles William Harness and Beatrice Hannah Dent originally from Cowick, on Oct 18th 1908. One of the many stories he told me that he was one of the first children to be christened in the newly built Chancel. This I was to prove correct after his death when I found a Church Newsletter in the Doncaster Archieves. I wish I could have found it before he passed away. My Grandfather Charles William Harness served under Captain Creyke in the 5th Batt KOYLI in the Great War. If anyone as any info or photo's of the 5th Battalion I would love to see them, I have a few I could share. Robert Harness
Posted by Robert Harness at 31/12/2014 21:44
Sorry forgot to leave my e mail address Best Wishes Robert Harness
Posted by stones at 25/02/2015 08:38
to Amanda Doyle
No idea BUT know of no Wilson solicitors in the area. Believe Crayke used a chap at Snaith whose name escapes me. (E&T Clark).. Ffrance unheard of. Not heard of any inheritance problems. Records at Beverley. Will have a look next visit. Any better idea approximate date.?
As for catholic - Mathew bonton told Charles 1 to stop being sillywhen he came looking for Yorkshire support. Crayke was at Charles side when executed as a personal friend. Expect Mathew Boynton not happy at Crayke inheriting.
Love to hear fromyou

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