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Fauconberg, carried the castle to her husband, Sir William Neville,1 afterwards Earl of Kent, who died 3 Edward IV, leaving three daughters and co-heiresses, the youngest of whom, Alice, carried the castle in marriage to her husband, John, Lord Conyers. Skelton Castle remained the seat of the Conyers family until the reign of Mary Tudor, when an unfortunate dispute arose between the husbands and co-heiresses, a dispute which appears to have had very disastrous results. In 1577, the castle was purchased by Robert Trotter, whose descendants

in 1342, settled the manor on himself with remainder to his son Walter, in tail, in 1344 (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1343-5, p. 301), and died in 1349 (Chan. Inq. p.m., 23 Edw. III (1st Nos.), No. 57). Walter, fourth Lord Fauconberg, who died 29 Sept., 1362, was buried in Guisborough Priory. He was succeeded by his son, Thomas (ibid., 36 Edw. III (1st Nos.), No. 77), one-third of the property, however, being assigned as dower to his stepmother, Isabel (Close Rolls, 40 Edw. III, m. 11; Chan. Inq. p. m., 40 Edw. III (1st Nos.), No. 52). Thomas gave the reversion of this third, together with the castle, for his lifetime, to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland (Chan. Ing. p.m., 2 Hen. IV, No. 47), who was holding the fortress in 1401 (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1401-5, p. 24). As Thomas Fauconberg was incapable, through mental disorder, of looking after his estates, the custody of the castle was, in 1403, in the hands of the king, who granted it to Robert and John Conyers (ibid., 255). Thomas died in 1407 (Chan. Inq. p.m., 9 Hen. IV, No. 19), leaving issue by his second wife, Joan Bromflete, an only daughter and heiress, Joan (ibid., 9 Hen. IV, No. 19), his widow holding a third of the property as her dower (ibid., 10 Hen. IV, No. 15). This heiress, who was also mentally afflicted, married, when not 16 years old (ibid., 10 Hen. V, No. 22b), William Neville, second son of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmorland, by his second wife, Joan Beaufort.

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1 Arms: "Gules, a saltire argent differenced by a rose" (The Ancestor, iv, 232), or by a red mullet (Harl. MS., 6163). He would appear to have subsequently quartered these with the Argent, a lion rampant azure of the Bruces and Fauconbergs. He was the second son of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmorland by his second wife, Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt, and was summoned to Parliament 3 August, 7 Henry VI (1429), as Lord Fauconberg of Skelton Castle, in right of his wife. He was created Earl of Kent 30 June, 1461; fought as a Yorkist leader at Towton, was a K.G., and Admiral of England. Died 9 January, 1463, and was buried in Guisborough Priory.


2 An ancient MS. (Cott. MS. Julius F.C., fo. 455) gives the following interesting description of the castle about this time. "On the righte Hande an antyent castle all rente and torne yt seemed rather by the unkind vyolence of man, than by the envye of Tyme, shewed itself on the syde of a broken banke. I demanded of my guide how the castle was named and what misfortune had so miserablye deprived yt. Sir, Quoth he, yt is Skelton Castle, the ancyent inheritance of the Lord Bruce, and dignified with the title of an Honor, which by marriage came to the Lord Falconbridge, and successively to the Lord Conyers, who leaving three daughters, co-partners of his estate, much Varyance fell betwixt their Husbands for the Division of their shares, that neither Partye being inclyned to yield unto other, every one for despite ruyned the part of the castle whereof he was in possession, lest afterwards by suyte of Lawe the Lott should fall to another, insomuch that the goodlye chappell, one of the Jewells of this kingdom, rudely went to the Grounde, with the fayre Hall and large towers; but now scarcelye are the Ruynes of a Chappell to be seene, such Barbarisme raseth out the Glorye of noble families, when an entyre Right of Inheritance is not invested in the Person of one Man." If we may accept this story as correct, it is evident that the famous chapel was destroyed some 350 years ago. The MS. referred to has been printed in the Topographer and Genealogist, ii, 403-432, the passage given above commencing on p. 419. Mr. Wm. Brown, F.S.A., in a letter to the writer, says, "I should be inclined to accept the story as true. The guide mentioned may actually have been an eye-witness to the destruction of the chapel."

Robert Trotter died in 1611, and was succeeded by his son Henry, who died in 1623, and was succeeded by his son George, who, in turn, was followed by Edward Trotter, who married Mary, daughter of Sir John Lowther of Lowther, which alliance accounts for the presence, in the hall at Skelton Castle, of a portrait of John, Lord Lowther. Edward died in 1708, and was succeeded


were resident there until 1727, when it came into the possession of Joseph Hall, who married Catherine, eldest daughter of John Trotter, of Skelton Castle. From him it has descended to the present owner, Mr. W. H. A. Wharton. It is interesting, in view of the number of times the castle has changed hands, to note that the present owner can claim relationship, through the royal house of Scotland, with the ancient Brus barons of Skelton, 2

Description. This great "burgus" fortress-by far the largest (in area) of the timber castles of the North Riding, if we include the "burgus "-occupied a long, rather narrow, diamond-shaped promontory, some 5 acres in extent, running north and south, and measuring some 1,600 feet in length by some 370 feet in extreme width. The slopes of the natural ravines on either side were scarped away to form broad deep ditches defending the long promontory on the east and west, and encircling its northern extremity. The approach to this large fortified enclosure was from the south by a paved bridle path, still bearing the significant name of "Borough-gate."

The entrance to the stockaded enclosure was evidently almost exactly at the point where the road known as "Church Lane " now meets the high road from Skelton to Guisborough, and here was a small triangular-shaped outwork or barbican (see plan, fig. 7), which would certainly be defended by palisading. From this fortified outwork, a gate, almost on the site of the gate now leading into the grounds of the present castle, gave access to the large communal fortified enclosure, or "burgus.”

by his grandson, Lawson Trotter, who was holding the property in 1729. Sometime between that date and 1732 he sold it to his brother-in-law, Joseph Hall.

1 In order to make clear the recent descent of the castle, it should be mentioned that Joseph Hall, of Skelton Castle, brother-in-law of and successor to Lawson Trotter, died in 1733, and was succeeded by his son, John Hall, who assumed the name of Stevenson, and died in 1785. His son and successor, Joseph, died in the following year, and was succeeded by his son, John Hall Stevenson, who assumed the name and (Sable, maunch argent) of Wharton. Ambrose Stevenson, three generations previously, had married Ann, eventually sole surviving child and heiress of Anthony Wharton, of Gillingwood Hall, near Richmond, by his wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Wm. Hicks, Bart., of Beverston Castle, Glouces



ter. The Gillingwood estate is still the property of the Whartons of Skelton Castle. The Whartons derive their descent from Henry Wharton, of Wharton, Westmorland, living 10 Henry V, who was the ancestor of the Lords Wharton, the last of whom was created Duke of Wharton. John Wharton, of Skelton Castle, died in 1843 without issue, and was succeeded by his nephew, John Thomas Wharton, who died in 1900, and was succeeded by his son, William Henry Anthony Wharton, the present owner.

2 His great-grandmother, Margaret, Lady Dundas, was a daughter of Major Alexander Bruce of Kennet, who was descended from Sir Thomas Bruce of Kennet, to whom the Kennet estates were granted in 1389 by Sir Robert Bruce of Clackmannan, grandson of King David Bruce of Scotland.

$ See fig. 7.


SKELTON CASTLE FROM THE N.N.W. Showing the scarped promontory on which the feudal castle stood.

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From the frontispiece in John Hall Stevenson's "Crazy Tales," first edition, 1762. British Museum, press mutt., 840l, 18(2).

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