Friday, 7 December 2012

Chapter 1. Hutton Rudby: a North Riding Township

Revd R J Barlow c1804-78
Very early in January 1831, a young Irish clergyman named Robert Joseph Barlow arrived in the Yorkshire village of Hutton Rudby where he was to be vicar for the next 47 years, until his death in 1878.

He would be remembered above all for his devoted service to his parishioners in October 1832 – the time of the cholera.

Hutton Rudby was the largest township of the parish of Rudby-in-Cleveland.  His new home lay in the North Riding of Yorkshire, some six miles south of its northern boundary, the River Tees.

Had Mr Barlow cared to look up the North Riding in the recently published Clarke's New Yorkshire Gazetteer (1828), he might have found the description rather uninviting. 

The coast is described as "hilly, bleak and cold" and
the interior part of the moorlands is bleak, dreary, and destitute of wood, where the traveller sees nothing but a few small sheep.  
The writer conceded that "the climate admits of some variety", but generally, he declared, "it may be called severe", with the moorlands "enveloped in fogs and chilled with rain". 

However, the people sounded promising – a third of the land was owned by yeomanry, their incomes generally under £200 a year, the tenant farmers had frequently been long established on their land, and "the peasantry in general are sober, industrious, and orderly".  Rich and poor alike ate a household bread made of meslin, a mixture of wheat and rye. 
As a keen would-be farmer, Mr Barlow would also have found the description of the agriculture encouraging.

Improvements were underway, but much of the land was in pasture.  The short-horned cattle, known as the Tees Water or Holderness breed, were thought to be the largest in England; the Cleveland sheep were large and coarse-boned, their wool harsh and dry.

The North Riding was famous for its horses, the Cleveland bays being "strong and active, well adapted for the coach or the plough" while "those of the northern part of the Vale of York, by the introduction of the racing blood, are rendered the most valuable breed for the saddle".

Cleveland itself is described as having "a fertile clay and a red sandy soil" and its roads were generally very good, with tollgates only on the Yarm to Thirsk road [1].

At the northern boundary of the Riding, ships of up to 60 tons could navigate the river Tees as far as the port of Stockton, where the first signs of the future of the region could be seen in the recently opened Stockton & Darlington Railway, constructed to bring Durham coal to the Tees.
Mr Barlow's new parish included a parish church and two chapelries.

The church stands beside the north bank of the River Leven, in the small village of Rudby.  About 80 people then lived in Rudby, most of them tenant farmers.  Across the river lies Hutton, once known as Hutton-juxta-Rudby, or Hutton-nigh-Rudby, and, as the 19th century wore on, increasingly called Hutton Rudby.  This was the largest township in the parish, with a population of about 920 people.

Hutton was often described in the 19th century directories as an "extensive" village.

On a spur above a bend in the river lies North End, the longest-inhabited part of the village.  Short terraces of houses built of river-cobble and local brick line each side of a long steep green, at the top of which stood the original Wesleyan chapel, in use until 1879.

At a right-angle to North End lies the much larger main green, a planned development created possibly in the early 12th century.  From its north-eastern corner, the road runs down Hutton Bank to Hutton Bridge and the church.  Mr Barlow would have been struck by the more modern appearance of the houses at this corner of the green – there had been a great deal of recent rebuilding in that area.  The short terraces of houses around the greens were punctuated with patches of pasture and allotments. 
East Side in 1879
From the south-eastern corner of the green the little road known as the Wynd led to the pound, where straying animals were kept until redeemed by the owners, and then ran on into the area known as Enterpen.  Here were stabled the many mules and donkeys that carried the webs of linen, the village's staple industry, to market as far afield as Newcastle, and along here were farms and smallholdings and a number of irregularly-spaced houses and short terraces of cottages. 
The end of the village was marked by an 18th century row of houses near the junction with Doctors Lane.  From this point Belborough Lane [2]  ran eastward through farmland and across Hutton Moor, where there were small fields or closes owned by various villagers, on to East Rounton.  Doctors Lane led through open fields to the junction with the road linking Hutton green to Crathorne. 

Most of the population of Hutton and Enterpen were handloom linen weavers, and like other such communities they tended towards strong independence of mind and Methodism. 

The divide between the established church and Nonconformity is a constant theme in England throughout the 19th century.  It affected social status and political allegiances, and was a factor in many of the great issues of the day.  At parish level it played a part in the hotly-debated questions of education, tithes and church rates. 

John Wesley had come to Hutton Rudby in 1755, and found the chapel too small to contain the crowd that came to listen, so that he had to preach to them on the green.  In 1764 he had described the society in Hutton as
by far the largest in these parts and the most alive to God.  
Emigrations and quarrels amongst the members led to a sad falling-off, and in 1790 Wesley remarked that twenty years earlier
this society was a pattern to all the country … I think 17 of them were perfected in love.  But only 3 of them remain and most of the rest of them are removed or grown cold and dead. 
The mood and beliefs of individual chapels varied widely and changed over time according to local circumstances.

In Hutton Rudby, numbers fluctuated through the 19th century as families came and went, but the greatest upheaval in village Methodism had occurred in 1820, when the arrival of the travelling Primitive Methodist missionary, William Clowes, split the congregation.

Primitive Methodism had begun ten years earlier on the Cheshire/Staffordshire border, with the expulsion from their local Wesleyan Society of Clowes, a potter by trade, and Hugh Bourne, a moorland carpenter, because they held large open-air camp meetings which were thought to be "highly improper" and likely to produce "considerable mischief".

Clowes and Bourne had been local preachers and had taken the idea of camp meetings from a visiting American evangelist.  They found this outdoor evangelism very popular and it was particularly successful amongst the rural poor.  As early as 1814 the breakaway society won the nickname "Ranters" because of their custom of singing in the streets, and they were particularly attached – at a time when Methodism required "a grave, simple and devotional style of music" – to hymns sung to the popular tunes of the day.

An important part of their success was due to their local women preachers and the women who travelled miles on foot as itinerant preachers [3].  Mary Porteous, for example, was a woman from Tyneside who "went upon the ground" in the Guisborough and Whitby Circuit from January 1826 until July 1828.   She recorded,
Two hundred and sixty miles I travelled on foot – frequently through deep snow and over high mountains – in eight weeks, and spoke sixty times each round [4].  
William Clowes' arrival in Hutton Rudby had electrified the village – and indeed the area, as ten days later he held a camp meeting at Scarth Nick on the moors just above Swainby, which is said to have been attended by two thousand people.

By the following year the new society in Hutton Rudby had built a chapel on the Green and won a large congregation to this enthusiastic, and many thought indecorous, way of worship.  Relations between the Primitives and the Wesleyans grew so tense that on occasion they were near to violence. 

These were volatile times in Nonconformity.  Only a few years later the Primitive Methodists themselves were torn by a power struggle when Thomas Johnstone, a preacher who had resigned from the Hull Circuit "because he could not meet certain grave charges which had been preferred against him", moved into the Brompton Circuit.  His aim was to get control of the societies, and in particular of Hutton Rudby, which had its own chapel.   This had been built in 1821 by the gentleman farmer Benjamin David Suggitt, who had died in April 1823 leaving the building to the society in his Will.  Johnstone was nearly successful, and William Clowes was obliged to return once more to the area to repair the damage done [5].

Alongside the religious fervour was a rougher strain.

The village had been well-known for its position in the smuggling network that had operated across Cleveland for many decades, and which only began to disappear at the end of the 1820s with the establishment of coastguard stations to prevent the smugglers running their goods ashore.  People of all classes had been deeply implicated in the business, as few hesitated to take advantage of smuggled goods;   the introduction of free trade and the steady abolition of customs and excise duties during the 1840s finally brought the hey-day of smuggling to an end. 
Only half a mile outside Hutton Rudby, the drove road carried its regular traffic of men and cattle en route to the markets farther south, and it is said that an inn in Enterpen was the usual haunt of the drovers.

Three public houses on the village green were listed in Baines' Directory of 1823 – the Bay Horse and the Shoulder of Mutton at either end of North Side and the Wheatsheaf on East Side.  At the corner of the Wynd and Enterpen stood the Board, later called the Carpenters' Arms.  There may have been other beer-houses besides.  Hutton had been for as long as anyone could remember an "open village" – there was no dominant landowner, consequently no landlord or lord of the manor to enforce his standards of behaviour on the inhabitants.

Two tiny farming hamlets lay on the outskirts of the parish, each with a population of no more than 40.

Not far from Enterpen lies Sexhow, consisting of a few cottages and farmhouses, one of which had once been the Hall where the gentlemen of Cleveland had met to discuss their opposition to Charles I.  The land of Sexhow belonged to Sir William Foulis of Ingleby Hall.  Beyond Rudby, on the road to the market town of Stokesley, lies Skutterskelfe.  Here stood Leven Grove, the mansion house of the owners of the Rudby and Skutterskelfe estates. 

The chapelry of Middleton lies to the north of Hutton Rudby, on the road linking Rudby to Foxton Bridge on the River Leven.  In 1831 it consisted of eighteen families, with one house standing empty.  It was a farming village, with all but two of the families working on the land, and it had a population of 89 [6].  Here was an inn called the Chequers, and a corn mill and bleach ground.  The chapelry of East Rounton was also attached to Rudby parish in the 19th century.  It was described in Baines Directory as "a small village on a lofty eminence", some four miles to the west of Hutton Rudby.


[1]  White's Directory 1840

[2]  the name possibly deriving (as with Freeborough Hill and Ownesburgh, the original name of Roseberry Topping) from the low hill (technically a drumlin) round which the road winds a short way beyond the village. Its outline is now obscured by trees and hedges on the roadside.

[3]  A History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain Vol 2. Pub 1978. General editors: R Davies, A R George, G Rupp 

[4]  Northern Primitive Methodism by W M Patterson 1909

[5]  ibid.

[6]  Questions addressed to Overseers 1831, in the Middleton Book: NYCRO

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