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Scholes Manor in the Mid-Eighteenth Century

From The Barwicker No. 67
Sept. 2002

Preserved in the Leeds District Archives at Sheepscar is a 'Survey of the Lordship of Scholes surveyed for the use of the Chief Owner, Sir Edward Gascoigne Bart. by Henry Walker'. There is no date on the survey but it is described as c.1750, although the names suggest that a date a decade before this would be more accurate. It contains detailed information concerning the land divisions in the manor and their acreages, whereas the 1678 survey (see 'The Barwicker' No.66) was, in the main, a record of the rentals paid.

The land holding of each occupier is described in detail and is divided into 'Inclosures' and 'Field Land' where appropriate. Each parcel of enclosed land is described ('close', 'garth' etc) and the exact extent give in acres, roods and poles. Some of the closes are named but there is no accompanying plan to locate them. The land in the still existing open fields (Town End Field, Sun Sike Field and South Field) is recorded in 'lands (ploughing strips of about 1/4 of an acre) with sometimes the name or number of the 'flatt' where the 'land' is situated.

There were only two 'freeholders' in Scholes at the time - Sir Edward Gascoigne, Bart. with 282a.3r.5p., and Sir Bryan Cook, Bart. with 18a.3r.30p. All the land of the latter is described collectively as 'inclosures'. All the land of the former was let out to tenants, whose enclosed holdings are described in detail in the survey and are summarised in the table below. Some holdings are described as 'house and close (or garth)' or 'housing and close, etc.' and are included separately in the table

Name of tenant  No. of   Total extent  'Houses'   'Housing' 
  'closes' etc  (no.)  (no.) 
Charles Wright  14   68   2   00   2   1
Andrew Bursell   1   0   1   31   0   0
Widow Outhitt   1   0   1   37   1   0
Stephen Vevers   5   42   3   24   0   0
Samuel Lumb  8   83   3   32   0   0
Ann(a) Shipman   4   18   0   35   0   0
Mr Joseph Emmerson   2   62   1   18   0   0
(A wood)  04 
Totals  36  280  11 

The only one of these tenants with land in the open fields was Charles Wright who occupied two 'lands' in Town End Field with an extent of 0a.2r.14p. In addition there were 13 copyholders in Scholes. Under 'Inclosures' are recorded their closes, etc., named if appropriate, with extents and details of houses etc. These listings are shown in the table below.

Name of copyholder  No. of   Total extent  'Houses'   'Housing' 
  'closes' etc  (no.)  (no.) 
Seath Lofthouse   1   4   2   06   0   0
Andrew Jackson  3   1   11   0   0
Gabril Taylor   1   3   1   07   0   0
William Taylor  2   5   0   18   1
Charles Wright  1   1   0   32   0   1
Mary Stalker  24  0   1
Mr Wm. Emmerson  6   16  0   01   1   0
George Dixon   04   1   0
Thomas Selby  5   0   13   3   0
Andrew Bursell   1   02 1   0
Mr Wm. Vevers  44   122   3   05  6  
The Poor of Barwick  5   11 0   36   1   0
Totals   69 175 1 39 13 6

Some copyholders occupied land in the open fields as is shown in the table below :

Number of lands in the Open Fields
Name of Copyholder  Town End Field  Sun Syke Field  South Field  Total extent 
Anna Shipman 0 0 1 1 1 12 
Alexander Thompson 3 9 0 3 1 37 
Richard Taylor 4 2 0 2 1 09 
Mr Wm. Emmerson 0 4 0 1 0 02 
Mr Wm. Vevers 2 + Flatt C + Flatt D 13 15 41 1 06 
The Poor of Barwick 5 8 4 4 3 21 
Total 14 + 2 Flatts 36 20 54 1 07  

The totals of the extents for the different categories are given as follows:

Freehold land  301  35 
Copyhold land  229  01 
Whinn Moor  147  30 
Waste Land  26 
Total  688  12 

What are we to make of this mass of figures? What do they tell us about the lives of the people of Scholes at the time? They indicate that the appearance of the surroundings of the village would have changed markedly since medieval times when the open field system of agriculture was used. At that time, the inhabitants of Scholes could look out with an uninterrupted view over these fields with their parallel, gently curving ploughing strips, which have given rise to the 'rig and furrow' features still common in the present day landscape.

The ploughing strips were grouped together in what were called 'furlongs' or in these parts 'flatts'. The direction of ploughing was determined in each flatt by the slope and drainage, and the flatts were separated by no more than wide earth baulks which allowed plough teams to turn and were also used as access roads. The only obstacle to the view would be a few patches of woodland - valuable and jealousy guarded by their owners.

The old open field system required careful organisation and timetabling as the arable fields were used as common grazing land between harvests and during periods of fallow. Good practice was ensured by the manorial court. What it was like to work this ancient system we know very little as the peasants were illiterate and have left no written record.

In 1740/50 the surroundings of the village would look very different. Only about 10% of the land is described as remaining in the old open fields system. The rest of the landscape was made up of 'closes', hedged round with quickthorn to make them stock proof. It was a view which was commonplace in much of England before the introduction of the modern practice of rooting up hedgerows to produce vast prairie-like fields. In 1740/50 in Scholes, there were 105 of these closes varying from less than an acre to more than 20 acres in extent with an average of about 4 acres. They could be used as arable or grazing land completely independent of neighbouring closes, but the manorial court would ensure that hedges and drains were kept in good order.

The number of dwellings is difficult to calculate as they are listed as 16 'houses' plus 7 'housing' entries, which are likely to contain more than one house each. There might not be much change from the 38 dwellings and c.170 inhabitants of Scholes and Morwick calculated from the 1678 survey.

There are 20 tenants on the list, if we include Sir Bryan Cooke, but this will not include all the families living in Scholes at the time. As far as land occupation is concerned Mr William Vevers dominates the list, with about 164 acres. He came from an old local family (see 'The Barwicker' Nos. 65 and 66) and probably lived at Scholes Hall. If all his land was cultivated in one unit it represents a very substantial farm, with perhaps a farm manager and several labourers. Farms of moderate size were occupied by Charles Wright and Mr Joseph Emmerson, whose surnames appear in the 1678 survey (see 'The Barwicker' No.66), Samuel Lumb and Stephen Vevers, the latter living at Morwick Hall. They too would need to employ one or more labourers.

The lands of Ann(a) Shipman and William Emmerson are best regarded as small holdings which could be worked by a family and would likely be their most important source of income. The rest of the holdings are small and would probably be used to supplement the main occupation of the occupier who might be a farm labourer or a craftsman such as blacksmith, wheelwright, tailor, etc. Andrew Bursell is likely to be Andrew Burdsall, the buckle-maker and early Methodist (see 'A Greater Wonder' A History of Methodism in Barwick). The very small holdings are house plots with perhaps a garden or small enclosure for grazing the 'house cow'. Scholes at that time was a very 'mixed' community.


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