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  • Records of who paid what for certain of their tithes give clues to the people and landscape of early eighteenth-century Castleford.

The article Glebe land, tithes and duties (November 2013) outlined the rules and regulations for the payment of tithes to the church in eighteenth-century Castleford. How far records were kept of what was actually handed over, be it willingly or grudgingly, by the parishioners is unknown – but a set of churchwardens’ accounts covering the years 1707–73 gives at least some idea. They contain hundreds (if not thousands) of entries, mainly relating to the Easter Dues, and although many of them are almost impossible to read, there are sufficient of them still legible to paint an intriguing picture of what was being paid by the villagers during a time when Castleford was still an agricultural village as yet untouched by even the first signs of industry. Please refer to the aforementioned article for an explanation of the various payments in the small selection of examples which follow.

In 1707, William Briggs paid 2½d in house duties, 4d communicant offerings, 1½d on his cows and 3d on calves. Hay duties on his holdings in Castleford Ings were made up of 1s 9d on seven doles (i.e. allocations) in Meer Ing, while elsewhere around the village he paid 10½d on Cutsyke Close, 7s in Kirk (i.e. church) Ing Close, 2s on two acres in Halliwell Half Acres belonging to one John Fleming, 6d on his own land in the same furlong and 4d in Hepworth Garth. Briggs also paid 1s in lieu of orchard fruits and 6d instead of handing over a hen to the rector, suggesting he owned insufficient poultry to be able to spare a bird.

In 1711, Francis Denison paid 1½d house duties, 4d communicant offerings, 3d on his cows and 2d in lieu of eggs – this last-named payment showing that his was a ‘messuage’ house with its own plot of land attached. Hay duties comprised 10½d on three-and-a-half Meer Ing doles, 9d in Cutsyke Close, 1s in Smawthorn Close, 6d in an unnamed ‘garth’ and 6d on half an acre in Halliwell Half Acre.

That same year, Richard Lindley – evidently one of the more wealthy villagers – paid 1½d house duties, 2d communicant offering, 2d in lieu of eggs, 3d on cows, 1d for a foal and 2d on bees. This latter payment suggests he owned two ‘swarms’ (presumably meaning hives) but, instead of handing over one of these as specified in the eighteenth-century glebe terriers, he was permitted to make an additional penny payment in lieu. Lindley’s landholdings appear to have been more extensive and more widely scattered across the village fields than most: he paid 1s 6d on hay in Castleford Ings, 1s on Smawthorn Close, 2s on Summerlane Close, 6d on Meer Ing (suggesting he held two doles of land there), 3d in Kirk Ing Close, 1s in Summersyke Close, 6d on a third part of Cow Croft, 2s 6d on half an acre of “line” in Gillcroft and the same sum on a similar area of line – possibly a reference to strips of land in what had been, or possibly still were, arable fields – in Halliwell Half Acre. Incidentally, that same year he also paid several dues owed from 1710 and, it appears, some advance payments for 1712.

In 1712, John Shillito paid house duties of 1½d, 6d communicant offerings and 4½d on his cattle. His allocation of 4 acres in Castleford Ings meant a payment of 5s 4d (which tallies with the 1s 4d per acre set out in the terriers), while he was also liable for hay duties of 2s 6d on Smawthorn Close, 2s in Sowter Croft and 3s in “Part of West Croft”. Two further payments are of particular interest: 2s 6d on “11 butts” and a similar sum on “5 lands” since these are terms used in connection with strips of land in the arable open fields. The rector (at this time it was Rev William Bridges) also received from Shillito “2 lambs over and above what I had tith in kind for” and 1s 3d for “sheep fold” – possibly a charge for allowing him to keep his animals on church-held land. The Shillitos were one of the more prominent Castleford families at this period but these figures show how, under the time-honoured system of allocating land in an equitable manner, they had no more of it than their less well-off neighbours.

It was probably John’s former wife who appeared in the 1741 accounts as Widow Shillito, when she paid 2½d house duties, 8d communicant offerings, 2d in lieu of eggs and 6d in place of a hen. As one of the better-off villagers, Mrs Shillito was in a position to own bees, on which she paid a penny; horses, which cost her a penny on a foal; and sheep, on which she paid 8d. Her 4 acres and 1 rood of land in Castleford Ings cost her 5s 8d, while she paid 2s 6d on Slennen Butt Close, the same sum on Five Lands Close and 1s 9d on Smawthorn Close. She also paid 5s rent on land in West Croft and 2s on her share of two orchards.

Another member of the family, George Shillito, might have been the son of John and his widow. In 1737, his Easter Dues amounted to 2½d house duties, 6d communicant offering, 1½d on his cows, 1d for a foal and 6d in lieu of handing over a hen. His tithes on hay in Castleford Ings amounted to just 1s 4d – this being the charge for an allocation of an acre – but he also paid 5s 4d on 4 acres belonging to a Mr Waud. His orchard tithes amounted to 2s 6d while 21 sheep and 10 lambs cost him 4s 3d.

The 1724 entry for Robert Stogden suggests someone living in less elevated circumstances than the various Shillitos but still, perhaps, a little better off than most Castleford villagers. He paid 1½ house duties, 4d communicant offering, 2d on eggs, 4½d on his cows, 6d in lieu of a hen and 8d on something which was abbreviated to ‘DC’. He had an allocation of 2 acres and 3 roods in Castleford Ings, which rendered him liable to a payment of 3s 8d, 5 roods in Gill Croft, plus land in Sowter Croft on which he paid 6d and the same sum for Town End Close. Six lambs cost him 1s 6d and he paid 6d on the wool from his sheep: the tithe rules in the glebe terrier suggested that wool was paid in kind, so it was evidently replaced by a cash payment for some reason in this instance.

Finally, in 1735, George Heptinstall paid house duties of 2½d, communicant offering of 6d, 4½d on his cows and 2d on eggs, again showing he lived in a cottage with its own land. Hay tithes for Castleford Ings cost him 4s, while he paid 1s 3d on land in New Close and 6d on his share of Town End Croft.

Financial transactions between the church and parishioners were not all one-way at this time, because some people were paid for providing labour to cultivate the glebe land owned by the parish. In past centuries, parishioners had often been duty bound to provide these services (or to pay the church as a means of escaping them) but by this time such requirements were evidently a thing of the past. So it was that in 1710, for example, Robert Killingbeck received 6s 6d for “shearing 2 acres of Hard Corn”, 9s for cutting and binding barley in the East Field, 2s 6d for “mowing 1 acre of barley”, 4s 6d for cutting oats in Cutsyke Close (suggesting that some of the former grassland had been enclosed, ploughed and used for crops) and 1s for a day spent working among rapes. Seven years later, John Brough was paid 3s for three days’ work in Carr Croft, 4s 10d for harvesting half an acre of wheat and three roods (three-quarters of an acre, probably either in a block of land 220 yards long by 16½ yards wide or three separate strips each 220 yards long and 5½ yards wide) of peas, and 7s for six days’ thatching. This latter entry is especially revealing, since it shows that there must have been extensive reed beds in Castleford Ings and that many of the cottages in the village still had thatched roofs at this time. His wife also earned the family 2s 8d for one day’s haymaking and three days’ harvesting, plus 1s for three days’ unspecified – but, given the lower payment, presumably less onerous – work in Castleford Ings.

SOURCES

The Castleford Churchwardens’ Account Book for 1707–73 is preserved in West Yorkshire Archives, Wakefield, in file WDP147/9/1/4.

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