Yorkshire – East Riding

The Vikings played an important part in the naming of Yorkshire, as they called York Jorvik and ‘riding’ is thought to be derived from a word meaning third part[1]. A shire, as in Yorkshire, usually refers to land controlled from a castle. York itself is a well known city with medieval walls and a long history.

St Helen's Church EscrickI was born in a village called Escrick in the 1950s. The Gazetteer of British place names[2] places Escrick in the historic county of the East Riding of Yorkshire and currently in the district of Selby in the administrative county of North Yorkshire. The administrative changes to the three Ridings of Yorkshire (East, North and West) were brought about as part of a significant reorganisation of England and Wales on 1st April 1974. As a school girl I remember completing a questionnaire on the proposed changes on behalf of my father. There was a lot of bad feeling locally about the proposed introduction of Humberside and one concern was that our village would be included in it. Further changes in 1998 re-instated the East Riding County Council as a unitary authority[3] and abolished Humberside. However, Escrick remained in North Yorkshire and the current East Riding County Council boundary is different to the one which existed before the changes in 1974. Prior to the 1974 changes, each of the Ridings had been governed from their own county towns; in the case of the East Riding this was Beverley.

Between about 1900 and 1974 the main form of administrative governance in Yorkshire was a mixture of urban districts, rural districts and parish councils[4]. These seem to have replaced the wapentakes, as until about the year 1900, each Riding[5] had been further sub-divided for administrative purposes into them. They were similar to the concept of “hundreds” used in the more southern counties of England and thought to be derived from the use of a “show of weapons” when a vote was taken at an assembly or meeting point. The East Riding was divided into six wapentakes which were further sub-divided. The borough and county of Hull was treated a separate entity. York itself was also treated as a separate county before the boundary changes in 1974 which “moved” it into North Yorkshire.

Bulmers’ Gazetteer of 1892[6] also explains that the name wapentake has an Old Saxon form “woepen-tac” and that they were probably formed for military purposes. It seems that each wapentake had its own court until 1340. These were discontinued by a statute passed during the reign of Edward III (in his 14th year) and their business was then taken over by the courts of the county. In the case of the East Riding this would have been by the courts at Beverley.

Escrick[7] was part of the Ouse and Derwent wapentake while it was still part of the East Riding. It remained in the Derwent registration district when the 1939 register[8] was taken. My own interest in the East Riding remains though, as many of my ancestors lived in various parts of this historic county.

[1] Simpson, David. About Yorkshire: the Yorkshire Ridings. http://www.yorkshire-england.co.uk/About_Yorkshire.html : accessed 06 May 2016.

[2] Gazetteer of British place names. http://www.gazetteer.org.uk/index.php : accessed 08 May 2016.

[3] Vision of Britain: East Riding of Yorkshire. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10217660/relationships : accessed 06 May 2016.

[4] Browne, Horace Baker. (1912) How the East Riding was made. pp. 313-314. London: A Brown and Sons Ltd.  https://archive.org/details/storyofeastridin00brow : accessed 13 May 2016.

[5] Genuki civil administration http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/Misc/Definitions/AreaDefinitions.html : accessed 12 May 2016.

[6] Genuki Wapentakes. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/Misc/Descriptions/ERY/ERYDescription4.html : accessed 06 May 2016.

[7] Genuki Escrick. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/ERY/Escrick/index.html : accessed 06 May 2016.

[8] Findmypast 1939 register. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/1939register?gclid=CIn93IyS18wCFfMW0wod0CMETQ&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CIue-IyS18wCFUeM7QodeEcN_Q : accessed 13 May 2016.

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