Quite a few of the sources are now available online, so I have added links to them - and also some extracts, to inform or amuse!
1086 Domesday Book
Stokesley had a mill and a church. Hawarth was its lord. Value of manor: £24
Uhtred, the King’s thegn, held the manor. Value of manor (after the Harrying of the North): £8
Balliol family hold the manor
granting of the right to hold a yearly fair on the eve and day of St. Thomas the Martyr
(presumably 7 July – the Feast of the Translation of St Thomas the Martyr marked the day when the bones of the newly canonized Thomas à Becket were moved to a shrine in Canterbury Cathedral)
1497 Testamenta Eboracensia p 128
June 23, 1497. I, Nicolas Conyers, being in gude and clene mynd, ordeyn and makes my testament in this wise. To be beried in the qwer of Stokesley kirk, at the grece befor Saint Petyr. To the high alter ij torchis, price vj s. viij d., to be lightid at the lavacion tyme while they last; and upon my herse v serges of thre pownd wax ...
inhabitants required to repair 'Stoxley-becke bridge'
1717 from Victoria County History 1823
In 1717 a weekly market was held on Saturday, while the date of the fair had been altered to the Saturday after the feast of St. George the Martyr [23 April]; there was also a fortnightly fair every Saturday afterwards till the eve of the feast of Holy Trinity and a fair on that day.1745 Extract from a Letter from Stokesley in Yorkshire, December 27 from the Gentleman’s Magazine, January 1746.
(War abroad and the Jacobite Rebellion at home doubtless played a part in the riot described below)
Last Tuesday, a number of Stokesley boys pulled some tiles off Mr. Pierson's mass-house, the damage of which might amount to eleven shillings.
The Papists could not see their place of worship thus insulted without resenting it; therefore got a warrant from Mr. Skottowe against one of the boys, (a sailor) who had been the most active in the affair. The constables apprehended the boy the next day; upon which his associates were called together to the number of near two hundred, and being joined by some young fellows, marched in order, (with drums beating and colours flying) to Mr. Skottowe's, at Great Ayton, and declared to him, that they all acknowledged themselves equally guilty with the boy charged with the fact. Mr. Skottowe could not forbear laughing at them; however, after giving them a gentle reprimand, he dismissed them, recommending it to the Papists to put up with the damage.
Upon this the boys went to Ayton, beating up for volunteers for his Majesty's service, and enlisted about thirty or forty boys; then marched to Stokesley Cross, fixed their colours upon it, and made large coal fires about it, the spectators all wondering what were their intentions to act next.
When they had completed the fires, they marched in a full body to the mass-house, got upon it, stripped off all the tiles, and beat down the ceiling; from whence they let themselves down into the chapel, pulled it all to pieces, and tossed the things out of the windows into the yard, where they had placed a guard to secure them.
When they had got everything out, not even sparing the doors and wainscot, they marched with their booty to the market cross, and set the things around the fires; then one of them put on a fine vestment and cap, with a mitre in his hand, and mounted the cross, called them all around him, and made them a speech, in the conclusion of which he told them, that in consideration of the great service they had done to their king and country, in destroying the mass-house that day, he presumed, from the great authority he was then invested with, to absolve them from all their past sins; but exhorted them for the future to lead a peaceful and godly life; upon which they gave a great huzza, - God save King George, and down with the Mass! then he put off his robes, and threw them into the fire; at the same time each hand was employed in burning the rest of the things laid ready for the flames; after which they dispersed, and went to their respective homes.G M Tweddell's annotated copy of Ord's History in Northallerton Library records that "Horatio Tweddell" was "the boy (a sailor) who had been most active in the affair".
John Wesley first preaches in Stokesley
1770 John Wesley
Friday, June 15.—I was agreeably surprised to find the whole road from Thirsk to Stokesley, which used to be extremely bad, better than most turnpikes. The gentlemen had exerted themselves and raised money enough to mend it effectually. So they have done for several hundred miles in Scotland, and throughout all Connaught in Ireland; and so they undoubtedly might do throughout all England, without saddling the poor people with the vile imposition of turnpikes forever.1771 from Bulmer’s Directory 1890
The church (S.S. Peter and Paul) was rebuilt in 1771, and like most of the ecclesiastical structures erected during that and the preceding century, it does not possess any striking architectural merit, and was in all probability much inferior to the one it replaced, both in design and execution.
It comprises nave, chancel, and embattled tower. It was thoroughly restored a few years ago, when the unsightly galleries were removed, the flat ceiling replaced by a circular roof, and the ugly box pews superseded by open benches.1779
the manor is sold by the heirs of William Pierson to Thomas Wilkinson Esq
1792 The Racing Calendar p 39
Stokesley. On Monday, June the 4th, £50 for any horse, &c., that never won that sum at any one time, - the best of three heats, three times round the Course to a heat; - 3 yr olds carrying 6st 7lb. 4 yr olds, 7st 10lb. 5 yr olds 8 st. 8lb. 6 yr olds and aged, 9 st. Mares allowed 2lb. [...]1805 from The History of Cleveland by the Rev John Graves, p 222
Stokesley is a small market-town; the houses being disposed in one broad street running east and west, and washed on the south by a principal branch of the river Leven. The buildings are neat, chiefly of a modern style, and not much of the countenance of antiquity remains, except in the shambles and toll-booth which appear ancient and unsightly. The town is surrounded with rich and fertile lands; and being in a fine sporting country, the situation possesses all the advantages of rural pleasures and retirement.1806
the manor bought by the Rev. Henry Hildyard
1809 from Bulmer’s Directory 1890
The Congregational Chapel built in 1809, is a plain, unpretentious looking structure, situated in an out-of-the-way part of the town. There were meetings of Independents held in the town prior to the erection of this chapel, but no regular church was formed, or minister stationed in the place.1809
Independent Chapel built
A Trip to Coatham: a watering place in the north extremity of Yorkshire by William Hutton 1810
Stokesley is sixteen miles from Northallerton. It is a small and handsome town; but, like Northallerton and Thirsk, the Market-place is degraded in the centre with old, and wretched buildings; were these removed the street would become an elegant and spacious square, which nearly comprehends the whole town.
Mr Hillier is Lord of the Manor, resides in a beautiful mansion, but is choaked up with trees. Were they, and the scrubby buildings in the market-place, removed, it would open a charming prospect.
The Dean of York has a Palace here; which according to the degraded taste of the day, is hid from the eye. We found, however, an excellent Inn, the Black Swan, Mr Morris.
In such quiet places as Stokesley, where the bustle of life is unknown, the inhabitants follow a middle kind of existence, without rising to affluence or sinking into poverty. They have time to muster into groupes, lean against the wall and settle the affairs of the Nation, or, supported by the bulks of the shops, give detail of a wedding, a domestic quarrel, or the history of a fly-blown damsel.1812
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel built
1814 from Bulmer’s Directory 1890
The Grammar School was founded by John Preston, Esq., who died in 1814, and left the sum of £2,000 for the purpose. The validity of the bequest was disputed by the next of kin, and the interest of the capital was allowed to accumulate till 1833, when the trustees, having obtained possession of the old school-house erected by subscription in 1734, rebuilt and re-opened it on the liberal plan laid down by the founder. There are twelve free scholars who are elected by competition from either the Board or Grammar schools. The Rector, Lord of the Manor, Overseers, and Churchwardens, are ex officio trustees, and other four are elected.1819
Congregational Chapel built
Large mill built, demolished before 1849
Langbaurgh West Savings’ Bank established
1823 Baines Directory lists:
30 names in the pincipal inhabitants &gentry; 7 schools; 2 booksellers; 3 attornies; 2 auctioneers; 4 bakers; 5 blacksmiths; 12 shoemakers; 4 bricklayers; 2 brickmakers; 8 butchers; 4 butter, cheese & bacon factors; 2 chemists & druggists; 3 clock & watch makers; 2 cornmillers; 4 corn & flour dealers; 2 carriers; 2 dyers; 4 farmers; 3 flax dressers; T & J Mease, flax & tow spinners; 4 gardeners; 3 glass, china & earthenware dealers; 14 grocers & tea dealers; 3 hairdressers; 1 hat-maker, dealer & furrier; 6 joiners; 10 linen manufacturers; 3 linen merchants; 7 linen & woollen drapers; a maltster; 8 milliners and dressmakers; a millwright; 3 painters & gilders; 4 plumbers & glaziers; 3 saddlers & collar makers; 5 shopkeepers; 3 spirit & wine merchants; 5 stone masons; 7 straw bonnet makers; 4 surgeons; 10 tailors; 2 tallow chandlers; 4 wheelwrights; 2 wood turners & linen wheel makers.1824
There were 16 inns & taverns. Also a glover, a rope & twine maker, a tinner & brazier, a vet, a professor of music, 2 confectioners, a dealer in jewellery & British lace, a dog trainer, a whitesmith, a nail maker, a cooper, an officer of excise and a beadle & bellman. (It should be remembered that some people had more than one trade)
Stage coach every Wednesday to Stockton and 6 horse waggon weekly to Thirsk
“The Hope” stage coach Redcar to Leeds via Stokesley
Preston’s bequest put into effect and Preston Grammar School built on site of previous school
Prospectus issued for the proposed Stockton & Tees Railway
1835 from Bulmer’s Directory 1890
The Primitive Methodist Chapel is a plain brick building with dwelling-house on the ground floor, and chapel above. It was erected in 1835, at a cost of £264. Stokesley is the head of the circuit, which embraces Hutton Rudby, Ayton, Chopyat, Scugdale, Faceby, Broughton, Battersby Junction, and Newby.1837 The English Counties Delineated by Thomas Moule, p 450
Stokesley, on a branch of the river Leven, 237 miles from London, contains 416 houses and 1897 inhabitants [...]1840 White's Directory describes
The town is surrounded by rich and fertile lands, and the Cleveland hills range in a semicircle at a distance of about six miles, with a bold and romantic outline
Stokesley as “a small but neat and well-built market town”, many of the inhabitants being linen weavers, but also with a large flax mill and expecting the extension of the Darlington to Stockton & Middlesbrough railway
“The Emerald” coach Leeds to Redcar; “The Telegraph” coach Thirsk to Redcar
Cleveland Agricultural Show took place at Stokesley
Parish Free Library formed, the books being kept in the Savings’ Bank room
1846 History & Antiquities of Cleveland by John Walker Ord, p 392
Stokesley is a handsome neat town, consisting principally on one main street perched beneath the lofty over-hanging hills of Broughton, Kirby and Dromonby, in the centre of a broad and fertile vale of great extent, well wooded and watered, and sprinkled over with numerous mansions, seat-houses, and pretty villages. But although abounding in natural advantages, it is greatly deformed by odious unsightly shambles, situated in the centre of the main street, and which it is high time were either removed or rebuilt.1846
Lt Col Robert Hildyard, son of Rev Henry Hildyard, was lord of the manor. His sister and coheir, Sarah, married Charles Wynne Griffith Wynne.
Appeals for an efficient Fire Engine; foundation of Masonic Lodge
Union Workhouse built, to take 130 inmates; “the average number of paupers in the house during the past year was 30.” [Whellan's Directory 1859]
Lady Cross Cemetery opened
Town Hall built by Robert Hildyard
Robert Hildyard left the manor to his nephew Major Heneage Wynne, who was killed at the battle of Inkerman, a few days after his uncle’s death, and the estate passed to the Major’s father. It subsequently passed to his son Charles, who assumed the additional name Finch in 1863
Foundation of the Stokesley Show
1859 Whellan's Directory p 158
In the Market Place stood the Police Station and Lock-up, and “a very neat Shambles … of recent erection”, and at the end of the shambles a fish market and “a neat engine house of cut stone”.
MINERALS & RAILWAYS.-1861 from The Farmer's Magazine p215
The recent discovery of an inexhaustible store of iron ore in the Cleveland Hills has been pronounced one of the greatest wonders of modern times […] until lately, from the want of the means of locomotion, the inhabitants of Cleveland have been isolated from the rest of the community, and the effect, consequently, was to restrict production, on account of the cost of the transit of corn, &c, to those places where they would have found a ready market.
To a certain extent, however, this evil has been slightly remedied by the formation of railways, and by the growing importance of such places as the borough of Middlesbro’, which from having been, within a few years, comparatively a mere fishing village, is now a considerable and prosperous manufacturing and corporate town […]
The first portion of the line, viz from the Pickton Station of the Leeds section of the North Eastern Railway to Stokesley, a distance of 8 ¼ miles, was opened on Monday, March 2nd, 1857; and when completed (if the original line be carried through from Stokesley, by Danby, to Grosmont, where it will join the Whitby and Pickering branch of the North Eastern Railway), it will be 29 ½ miles in length. But an application has recently been made to Parliament, to enable the directors to deviate the main line at a difficult portion of its course between Castleton and Grosmont; and also to construct a branch for the purpose of securing the iron ore of Rosedale and the adjoing district being brought over the line.
The main line, to Ingleby Manor, four miles beyond Stokesley, was completed on the 1st of February in the present year (1858); and a private branch by which the Ingleby iron stone lessees bring their iron ore upon the line; as well as a branch line to Kildale, were finished a few weeks later.
There is also a branch to Whorlton; and the Company have obtained an Act of Parliament for a branch to join the Middlesborough and Guisborough Railway, by which the minerals can be conveyed to the blast furnaces at Middlesborough and other places on the river Tees […] The North Yorkshire and Cleveland Railway, is about to be sold to the North Eastern Railway Company [...]
No instance on record presents a more rapid growth and surer development than the above society, which, although only established in 1859, produced, on Thursday Aug. 1, when this year's show was held, a catalogue containing no fewer than 421 entries ...1868 Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission into Preston's Grammar School, pp 578-581
[...] There is no playground. The schoolroom is a convenient and cheerful room, well fitted with needful appliances, and the master has a comfortable house. There are no boarders [...] School time, 42 weeks per annum, 25 hours per week1870
Stokesley races ended
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church built
Lime trees planted on the Green to commemorate the marriage of Miss Caroline Marwood of Busby to Mr Wynne-Finch of Stokesley
parish church restored, old seating of the nave replaced
an acre of land added to Lady Cross cemetery
1887 from Bulmer’s Directory 1890
The Wesleyan Chapel is a handsome edifice, built on the site of the old Black Swan Hotel, and opened for divine service on the 6th of January, 1887.1890 from Bulmer’s Directory 1890
The old chapel was sold and the site converted into a brewery [demolished in 1979]
A Market is held on Saturdays; Fairs for the sale of cattle on the Saturdays preceding Palm and Trinity Sundays; and Hirings for servants on the Saturday before May day and Martinmas.1894
A Royal Commission noted that in the Stokesley area wheat-growing land had fallen in value by two-thirds since 1879, farmers had lost their capital and three had even applied for poor relief.
This depression in farming only came to an end with the First War
1923 from the Victoria County History
At the present day there are fairs for cattle on the Saturdays before Palm and Trinity Sundays and hirings for servants on the two Saturdays before Martinmas and May Day. There is also a weekly cattle auction on Mondays.1954
Stokesley railway station closed to passengers
Stokesley railway station closed