Kirkby Malzeard

The name "Kirkby Malzeard" features prominantly in the early genealogy of the Appleby family of Bathurst, NSW. It was recorded as the birthplace of Henry Appleby in 1655 and appears for the last time as the birthplace of James Appleby in 1786. By 1802, the family, which by then consisted of more than 20 people, had moved on to a number of locations in and around the town of Darlington in country Durham, some 31 miles/50 km to the north of Kirkby Malzeard.

Becksmeeting farm, Kirky Malzeard, when the Appleby family lived. Photo: Google Maps


Most of the family details from their time in Kirkby Malzeard are taken from the parish records, which were kept by St Andrew's Parish Church there. During the family's sojourn in Kirkby Malzeard, the name "Becksmeeting" and "Becksmeeting, Kirkby" appears frequently. As the name implies, Becksmeeting would have been used originally not as a place name but to identify a location - where two becks or streams/rivers meet - which would explain why there were a number of localities of that name in the vicinity of Kirkby Malzeard (see Places in the Parish of Kirkby Malzeard in 1822.)

One location in the "Places in the Parish of Kirkby Malzeard listing 1822" refers to "a farm-house in the township and parish of Kirkby Malzeard; 5 miles from Masham, 8 from Ripon." Beckmeetings Farm was described as being in the Wapentake (from Old Norse vapnatak, an administrative division of the English counties of York) of Claro, an area which covers much of the Parish of Kirkby Malzeard. It was described as being 5 1/2 miles south-south west of Masham, which would put it to the west of the village of Kirkby Malzeard. The Appleby family's Beckmeetings Farm does not appear on Google Maps, however old maps identify the location of the farm, which is at the spot where Appleby Lane bend to the right as it approaches Carlesmoor Beck when approached from the village of Kirkby Malzeard.

Shepherd's cottage on Beckmeetings Farm near Hoggarth's Campsite

Old maps indicate another Beckmeetings Farm existed outside the Parish of Kirkby Malzeard but is closer to Appleby-in-Westmorland, the town after which the family takes its name. Parish records for nearby Hoggarth Farm actually refer to a shepherd named Anthony Appleby living with his wife for a time on the surrounding moors. This might well be the first Anthony Appleby (born 1610), whose farm was apparently named Becksmeeting.

His son, also Anthony, was born between 1625 and 1635. He appears on the baptism register of the parish of Kirkby Malzeard, but is not on its births register; however his place of birth on the baptisms register is listed as only Becksmeetings. This indicates that he was born at a Becksmeetings outside the parish but was baptised at a church within the parish.

Map locating Beck Meetings Farm near Hoggarth's Campsite

Anthony's son Henry was born in York (1655) but all his children are listed in both the births and baptisms records of the parish of Kirkby Malzeard. Unlike Anthony himself, Henry's children are listed as being born at Beckmeetings, Kirkby, within the parish, which would be the Becksmeetings farm house on Appleby Lane. It is likely they moved after the birth of Henry and gave the name of their former dwelling to their farm, something that was commonplace at the time.

Some of the children of possibly another of Anthony's sons - William - are listed in the same register as Henry's children, but were being born in Mickley, Larton or Dowergiil. All these localities are within the Kirkby Malzeard parish.

About Kirkby Malzeard

Kirkby Malzeard is a village and civil parish in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire.

The name Kirkby Malzeard, 'The Church by the poor clearing in the forest' is derived from words left by the Danes (Vikings) and the French (Normans) who came to these parts. The Domesday Book (1086), tells us that Gospatric's land at Chirchebi was "one and a half leagues long and wide, or 5 carucates." At that time 8 villagers had a plough. Gray; in his catalogue of English Field Systems, written in 1327-8, assessed that Kirkby had "20 acres sown and 20 acres fallow". In the late 19th century Surtees, in his book "The Chantry Surveys", quoted a medieval source which stated 'The paroch is of grete circyte' (The parish covers a huge area).This parish stood strategically, in the 1200s, within the vast Honour of Kirkby Malzeard from Great Whernside to Ripon. It survived the "Harrying of the North" by William the Conqueror, because he kept to the lower valley land.

Stone Age farmers shaped the surrounding land. Axe heads and querns have been unearthed at Azerley and Laverton. A few genuine items stand by the farm doors of those who found them. In a field called Ellers near Willow House, in the Gate Bridge area, 28 socketed celts, (cleaving tools or chisels), were discovered. These were relics of Bronze Age inhabitants. The place above Tom Corner in Dallowgill, where the body of a Roman centurion was found, is marked by a mosaic on the Mosaic Trail, a walk devised within the last few years. A sword used by Cromwell's forces during the Civil War in 1642 was found in a peat bed in Kirkby Malzeard.

Ancient drove roads and tracks cross the higher moors. Cattle and other animals were brought across these wild areas for sale in Kirkby. Drovers came from Scotland via Pateley Bridge and Dallowgill. The Pinfold dating from around 1300 was where stray animals were gathered in on the way to the Market Cross where sales were negotiated. The Normans laid the first stone of Saint Andrew s Church around 1150. Records state that it was close to the site of a wooden Church dating from 1050. The lower part of a Preaching Cross, still standing in the Churchyard, has been dated back to the 7th century, although there is no evidence that it was of Saxon origin. It was regularly used for services by itinerant early Christians for 300 years before the Normans came. After fire damage to the present Church in 1879, a "Hog Back Grave" a relic of Anglo-Danish times, was found buried in the foundations. Sadly, the grave was lost in a later fire in 1908.

A plaque on the Market Cross commemorates the granting of a Market Charter in 1307 by Edward the First. This royal award marked the beginning of the change from a modest settlement to a township, with its increasing prosperity. From a handful of farmers other trades began to enrich the township. There has been a School in Kirkby Malzeard since circa 1640. William Aislabie rebuilt it in 1862. A new school building was erected and equipped in 1971.The 1822 Baines Directory is of interest. The population was then only 862, yet the list of shops and trades is impressive, The Yorkshire Directory of 1861 records the population as 796. Doctor Bishop's book "A Moorland Doctor" emphasises hard times for moorland farmers in the second half of the 19th century. After World War I the population fell to 560, but then moved on to a much strengthened local economy. According to the 2011 census over 1167 people now live in the Kirkby Malzeard and Laverton/Dallowgill parishes.

The Mechanics Institute is one of the few remaining in the country and is still run according to original principles. It serves as a busy village hall which displays many of the village's notable images and achievements, including a copy of Dorothy Una Ratcliffe's dialect poems. In 1877 she was living at Laverton Grange, where she wrote poems in local idioms and accents. These reflect moorland ways and local life. She called her vernacular language "Mother Speech". Local author Lilian Chandler knew this area intimately. Her book "Laverton and Dallowgill" is focussed on its history and people. The New Connexion Chapel (Protestant and non-conformist), at Ivy Dene, Kirkby Malzeard, was established after the secession in 1797. The first stone of the Ebenezer Chapel was laid in 1880. A former Primitive Methodist Chapel, near the Garage, is now a private house.

Saint Andrew's Parish Church

A good vantage point from where you can see signs of Kirkby Malzeard's past is from Saint Andrew's Church, set 1000 years ago in the heart of what is potentially a fine Conservation area. From the 15th century tower you see most of the village below. The cross roads at the end of Church Street, the market cross and the winding line of vernacular buildings leading west, mark out the general plan and gradual development. The layout of tofts and crofts along Back Lane North, and the lynchets beyond Longswales are in view. Enclosure lands are visible. In the churchyard, the gravestones commemorate the lives of generations of villagers from Kirkby, Dallowgill, Laverton and other settlements along Nidderdale. The Corpse Road, running behind East Witton (some 10 miles distant) brought bodies to be buried in Kirkby. Six centenarians are recorded in the Parish Registers. George Wharton of Laverton, died at the age of 112.

The earthworks of Kirkby Malzeard Castle lie close by on the other side of Kex Beck. The structure was destroyed by King Henry II in 1174. Witches covens were held in the North East corner of the Churchyard until the late 19th century. Love Lane can be seen leading east, past Mowbray House, to the Ripon road. The sunken track was built in the 1800's. In World War II, the existing roof which had been built across part of the path to give access to Mowbray House for carriages, was used to make an air raid shelter.

The fine Norman Church has stood since 1150 exercising its spiritual, educational and caring influence over its parish. By the 1500s the Parish stretched from Great Whernside to the Church itself. A Leet Court, dealing with misdemeanours of both civil and ecclesiastical nature was held alternating each month between St Andrew's and St Mary's, Masham. A police station assumed responsibility for civil law from around 1910 until 1956. The building still stands. The Church in Kirkby was always the Mother Church, named for centuries, by many, the "Cathedral of the Dales". Until recent times all residents paid a levy to the Church. St Andrew's survived three fires. Scorch marks on the stonework reveal that there was a fire in the middle ages. The fire of 1876 was damaging, but the most recent one in 1908 was devastating. The Norman South Door and the wall remained intact. Six Benefaction Boards, which survived are still on display in the Church.

Mowbray House is a mid-18th century country house at the eastern end of Kirkby village. It was bought by the second son of the second earl of Cathcart in about 1869. Alterations were made; the front of the house was demolished and rebuilt as you see it today. Existing pleasure grounds were extended by him. Catherine Cathcart lived there until 1922. The estate of 773,192 acres was split into 19 lots for the 1922 sale. Fred Moore, later Sir Fred, bought the House and grounds. The Cathcarts and the Moores were great benefactors to the village. The grounds of Mowbray House were regularly opened for Church, Chapel and Village events. Mowbray House was considered as a residence for the Queen Mother but was not bought because of security risks. It was converted into flats by Kit Calvert for some employees of the adjacent Dairy. It is now in private ownership again as a single dwelling. It is one of 22 Grade II Listed buildings in Kirkby.

Contact Us: By Email | Ph: Stephen Yarrow, 0412 879 698.