Loftus Town hall, picture taken about 1955
Lcotvsv, in the Doomsday book, from Laghthus meaning low houses.
Is a place of great antiquity and from the name of the adjacent hamlet Street Houses was evidently known to the Romans.
The fee of the extensive Baronial Liberty of Langbaurgh (Long Hill) Wapentake was sold by King John in 1207 to Peter de Bruce, Lord of Skelton for 400 marks.
Langbaurgh takes its name from a portion of the ridge of the great Whinstone Dyke forming the north eastern division of the North Riding, 40 miles long and 18 miles wide.
This is taken from a book written in 1859.
This also states that the Lofthouse and Boulby Alum works commenced in 1615, and in the cliffs were found antedeluvian remains such as the enormous Ichthyosaurus.
Know your Parish
NOTE: Loftus Parish in the 19th century and up to World War II comprised the township of Loftus plus the hamlets of Waupley and Streethouses.
When you set about getting to know Loftus, the first thing to get straight is its name. The Parish registers date from 1697 but the name on their covers read LOFTHOUSE – the spelling as the names of two other Yorkshire villages – both in the west of the county. Loftus in Cleveland kept that early spelling until c1890 so that it is written as Lofthouse on all census returns currently available to researchers. So if an ancestor of yours is recorded as being born at Lofthouse, Yorkshire, it may NOT mean your having to seek out parish registers covering Lofthouse in Nidderdale, or Lofthouse near Leeds – what you want could well be Lofthouse in Cleveland and therefore at Teesside Archives.
Loftus was a pre-conquest settlement, held by Siward, Earl of Northumberland. By the time the Domesday Book was compiled, however, the land around it had suffered a great deal from King William I's efforts to subdue his rebellious northern subjects. Much of it was recorded as 'lying waste'. The Percy family held the land for several generations, and Guisborough Priory owned more than 700 acres of it in the late 13th century.
The Parish Church of St Leonard (rebuilt 1811 and again in 1901), is believed to have dated from the 13th century, although it was almost certainly built on the site of an earlier Saxon Church, as a record of its clergy dates back to 1294.
Two miles to the south of Loftus lies the site of Handale Abbey – home of a religious community founded in 1133, though the ruins of it had all but disappeared at the beginning of the 19th century. From the dim and distant past of this area, a legend has survived (being more durable than bricks and mortar!). Most people will have heard of Wearside's 'Lambton Worm'. Loftus too, was plagued by a fearsome serpent which ate cattle (and fair maidens, of course) until one, Scaw, put an end to it with his trusty sword.
It's a pity that no local musician set the tale to music, as they did at Lambton, then perhaps the name of Loftus in Cleveland would be more widely known. (“Oxford Dictionary of Place Names” mentions Lofthouse in Nidderdale, Lofthouse near Leeds, but its compilers seem to have been unaware that we have a Lofthouse/Loftus in Cleveland).
Such reference books may overlook Loftus in our own times, but it was an important place in 18th and 19th century Cleveland. Unlike Skelton, Brotton and Marske, which were mainly agricultural communities until ironmaking started. Loftus had an 18th century industry – Alum mining. At the beginning of the 19th century, it ranked as a 'Market Town'. Alum miners mostly lived at Streethouses, coming into 'the township for the Thursday market.
Loftus has another distinction that dates back to 1801. Family historians are sometimes heard to lament the fact that England's earliest censuses – 1801, 1811, 1821 1831 include only numbers: no names. All we know about most East Cleveland parishes in 1801 is the number of households, and the number of men and women each contained. Loftus, however can boast something very like a complete census that was taken in 1801.
At that time, it was feared that French troops might attempt to invade the North East coast. Parish Constables in the danger area were required to supply certain information about farm stock, stores of bay and corn, numbers of inhabitants willing to help with defence arrangements, and number who would help if an area had to be evacuated.
Some parish Constables filled in the required returns with mere numbers; others listed names of those willing to help. But William Dobson, Parish Constable of Lofthouse, did the job with commendable thoroughness. He wrote down the name of every householder, men as well as women, giving occupations, number of people in each household and the capacity in which each able bodied male was prepared to serve, should the need arise.
For example, we know that one, Joseph Toas, had three people in his household who would need help if evacuation became necessary; that he earned his living as a labourer; and that he was prepared to undertake the driving of farm stock to a place of safety. William Dobson actually went one better than the census takers later in the century. He recorded Thomas Atkinson, Sailor, absent at sea, and Kenneth McClean, away in prision. No need for researchers to scour the returns for 'strays' in this mini-census.
(You'll find it all in Appendix 3 of “Escape the Monster's Clutches” compiled by M Y Ashcroft. There's a copy in Teesside Archives and the Society also holds a copy) (Library is now at Teesside Archives. Ed)
One name is missing from William Dobson's list. Zachery Moore had been Lord of the Manor at Loftus until a few years before this time, but he was such a reckless spender that he had to sell out to the Dundas family who owned most of Loftus in the 19th century. John Walker Ord in “History of Cleveland” (1846) pays tribute to Sir Robert Dundas who died in 1844 having done a great deal to improve farming standards in the area and improving the quality of life for his tenants. He also built Loftus Hall.
In the 1850's, Loftus seems to have declined somewhat in importance. Whellan's “Topography of the North Riding” (1859) ranks it as a 'village' because its market had ceased to be held, except for the sale of meat. Oddly enough, it was 1857 that Loftus achieved another distinction – it was the first parish in what is now Langbaurgh Borough (Now Redcar & Cleveland – Ed) to open a cemetery. The first grave to be dug there received what the sea had left of a poor chap called William Raine who drowned when the 'Amelia' was wrecked off Staithes. He was washed ashore eight months later.
Then in 1865, Loftus iron mine was opened and the 'village' expanded like a balloon. It acquired a railway link with the rest of the area, and a Town Hall (1879) became the administrative centre for the new Urban District created in 1894. It even had a local newspaper of its own. “The Lofthouse Advertiser” commencing in 1876. Published by Joseph Cooke, who also ran a printer's business, it lasted into the 20th century.
Mining came to an end at Loftus in 1958 and Loftus U.D.C. was aborted by Langbaurgh Borough Council in 1974. (Teesside in 1968, Cleveland then Redcar & Cleveland – Ed.) Loftus has gone back to its village status now but it is a village that has every right to be proud of its history.
Parish registers for Loftus 1697 – 1909 are all at Cleveland County Archives, but some later ones have not yet been deposited. There are also some 18th and 19th century 'terriers' and an apprentice record 1809 – 1827 which could yield useful names. There are also non-conformist records for the area – Loftus and Staithes Methodist Circuit 1853-1966.
Census returns for the parish can be studied both at the archives and Redcar Reference Library. The F.H.S./ 1851 index volume 7 gives all Loftus inhabitants in that year. In its local Collection, Redcar Library has several booklets that will extend your knowledge. “The History of the Church of St. Leonard” by J.R.V Carter (1975) is one; “A brief History of Loftus” by former Loftus Librarian Michael Oliver, published in 1984 is another. There are a couple of articles about Loftus Sword Dance team founded 1890, and if you fancy a look at copies of “The Loftus Advertiser” keeping the town ahead with the news between1879-1916, you will find issues for those years on microfilm at Redcar Library.
Lastly Loftus, like Marske, has a museum. Their old iron mine had been turned into “The Tom Leonard Mining Museum” open from April to October, photographs, mining tools and equipment can be seen there. Altogether, there's plenty to help you get to know Lofthouse / Loftus.
by the Late Mary Williams (Originally included in Journal of April 1992)
This version taken from CFH Journal October 2005.
(Ed- Editor of CFH Society)
Having many ancestors from Brotton and Loftus I have a keen interest in the area, I have transcribed the 1834 Pigots Directory for Skelton which covers Loftus, Brotton and Staithes in the main.
Transcript follows, I hope it is some use to you
Nivard Ovington in Cornwall (UK)
G.g.g.grandson of Ralph OVINGTON born 1775 Loftus, parents William and Mary living at the Warren and g.g.grandson of Thomas OVINGTON b.1818 and Jane Isabella WEBSTER b.1820 both of Loftus.
From Pigot & Co, National Commercial Directory of Yorkshire 1834
SKELTON, KIRK-LEATHAM, LOFTHOUSE, STAITHES AND NEIGHBOURHOODS.
SKELTON is a village and township, in the parish of its name, in the eastern division of the wapentake of Langbaurgh, North Riding, three miles and a half N. E. from Guisborough. It was formerly celebrated for its castle, which was erected by Robert de Brus, a Norman Baron, who came over with the Conqueror. There are now but few remains of the ancient building existing,
the whole having been modernised in 1794. It was once the seat of John Hall Stephenson, Esq. known in the literary world as the author of "Crazy Tales," it is now the residence of John Wharton, esq. The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, was rebuilt in 1775. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Archbishop of York : the present incumbent is the Rev. William Close. The parish contained, in 1831, 1,241 inhabitant, and the township 781 of that number.
KIRK-LEATHAM is a village and township, in the parish of its name, in the same division and liberty as Skipton, about four miles and a half N.N.W. from Guisborough; situate near the mouth of the Tees, and is chiefly celebrated for its hospital, founded and endowed by Sir William Turner, for the maintenance of forty poor persons, viz. ten men and ten. women, and an
equal number of boys and girls. There are a chaplain, a master, a mistress, a surgeon, and a nurse, who have salaries and apartments in the hospital; the annual income of which amounts lo about £1,600.An elegant chapel adorns the centre of the building, and over the altar is a
splendid painting on glass. By means of a bequest made by Sir William Turner, a building for a free grammar school was erected in 1709, by the
nephew of the donor. There are, however, no scholars at present on the foundation,the premises being occupied by poor families rent-free. The church is a handsome structure, dedicated to St. Cuthbert; the living is a discharged vicarage, in the gift of Henry Vansittart, esq. The parish contained, at the
last census, 1,074 inhabitants, and the township 663 of that number.
LOFTHOUSE is a village, in the parish of its name, (having no dependent township), in the same division, and liberty as Skelton, pleasantly situate about five miles E.N.E. from that town and 9 from Guisborough. The vicinity abounds with stone and alum rocks, the latter being worked to a considerable extent by Sir Robert Dundas, under the able management of Mr. William Hunton, and afford constant employment to nearly one hundred persons, thereby contributing largely towards the support of the village. The church is dedicated to St. Leonard; the living is a rectory, in the gift of the crown, and incumbency of the Rev. Sir William Mursay, bart. Here are two Sunday schools, zealously superintended by the Rev. James Bruce, minister of the chapel for independents here. A customary market is held on Thursday, but it is by no means considerable. The parish contained, in 1821, 1,178 inhabitants,and, in 1831, 1,038.
STAITHES is a hamlet, in the parish of Hinderwell, in the same division and liberty as Skipton, 12 miles N.E. from Guisborough, and 11 N. W, from Whitby, situate on the coast of the North Sea, immediately under Cow-bar Nab, Fish curing is the principal occupation of the inhabitants, who are said to vie with Yarmouth in their method of preserving the herring. About
one mile hence are the extensive Boulby Alum Works, belonging to Messrs. Baker and Jackson, superintended by Mr. George Westgarth : these works employ many of the industrious poor. Population returned with the parish, which contained, in 1831, 1,881 inhabitants, 1,698 of whom were returned for the township of HINDERWELL, and 183 for that of ROXBY.
POST, SKELTON.-Letters arrive from and are despatched to GUISBOROUGH, daily,
Many Thanks to Nivard Ovington for transcribing the above and allowing us to use it on the site.
NOBILITY, GENTRY, AND CLERGY.
Bruce Rev. James, Lofthouse
Close Rev. William, Skelton
Dundas Right Hon.,Lord, Marsk
Dundas the Hon. Thomas, M.P. Up-Leatham
Harrison Rev. Joseph, Marsk
Hixon Mr. John Ellerby (attorney) Skelton
Hutchinson Mr. Thomas, Brotton
Lacy Jonathan, esq. Up-Leatham
Shaw Rev. Edward, Kirk-Leatham
Smith Rev. William, Hinderwell
Todd Colonel -, Lofthouse
Vansittart Henry,esq. Kirk-Leatham
Wharton John, esq. Skelton castle
Wilkinson Rev. Jos. Up-Leatham
ACADEMIES & SCHOOLS.
Adamson Catherine (brdng) Skelton
Adamson James, Skelton
Bailey Elizabeth, Kirk-Leatham
Binks Edmond, Kirk-Leatham
Cook Jane, Brotton
Creason William, Marsk
Metcalf Dorothy, Lofthouse
Mills Smith, Brotton
Rogers John, Marsk
Rogers Mary, Marsk
Sharp John, Skelton
Ward John, Lofthouse
Watson George, Lofthouse
Hunton Wm, manager, Lofthouse
Westgarth Geo. manager, Boulby
Bonnett John, Staithes
Dowson Thomas, Staithes
Hasewell John, Lofthouse
Scott William, Staithes
Taylor Elizabeth, Staithes
Bradley Thomas, Yearby
Carter Thomas, Skelton
Bryon Luke, Up-Leatham
Bryon Newrick, Marsk
Kilburn William, Skelton
Parvin John, Marsk
Robinson Isaac, Lofthouse
Robinson Robert, Skelton
Sanders John, Staithes
Savers Anthony, Lofthouse
Smallwood William, Staithes
Walker William, Lofthouse
Young William, Skelton
BOOT & SHOE MAKERS.
Adamson Leonard, Staithes
Bell Robert, Skelton
Brown Mark, Staithes
Brown William, Lofthouse
Bunting Thomas, Skelton
Hatherton John, Skelton
Hebron John, Lofthouse
Jackson William, Staithes
Johnson John, Skelton
Johnson Thomas, Yearby
Lewis John, Skelton
Low Thomas, Skelton
Pindar Jonathan (& clog) Staithes
Seamer John, Staithes
Simpson George, Brotton
Spinks James, Staithes
Thompson Thomas, Brotton
Wilkinson William, Up-Leatham
Wilson Thomas, Marsk
Gibson William, Staithes
Mann Christopher, Staithes
Mann William, Lofthouse
Parks Thomas, Staithes
Stevenson John, Marsk
Ventriss William, Up-Leatham
Walker Thomas, Lofthouse
Walker Thomas, Staithes
Wilkinson William, Skelton
Williamson William & Son, Skelton
GROCERS & DRAPERS.
(See also Shopkeepers, &c.)
Adamson Robert, Lofthouse
Brown William, Lofthouse
Dixon William (& druggist) Skelton
Hutton Richard, Staithes
Longstaff George, Lofthouse
Macnaughten Duncan, Skelton
Macnaughten George, Lofthouse
Moore Ann & Son, Staithes
Moore Thomas, Lofthouse
Patten William, Lofthouse
Shemelds Thomas & Son, Skelton
Lavrick George, Staithes
Skelton Thomas, Hinderwell
Smallwood William, Hinderwell
Trettles Matthew, Staithes
JOINERS, CABINET MAKERS AND CARTWRIGHTS
Burton William, Staithes Carrick Mark, Skelton Chapman John,
Staithes Cole John,
Marsk Dixon Leonard,
Skelton Dobson John,
Lofthouse Herbert Thomas,
Marsk Robinson Robert,
Brotton Roddam Thomas,
Staithes Scott Wrightson,
Yearby Skelton 'I'homas,
Hinderwell Stonehouse Roger,
Brotton Wake John,
Lofthouse Walker John,
Lofthouse MILLERS. Bell James,
Lofthouse Moon Isaac & George,
Staithes Wilson John, Lofthouse
MILLINERS & DRESS MAKRS.
Cole Elizabeth, Staithes
Breckon Elizabeth, Staithes
Pindar Mary, Staithes
Roddam Mary, Staithes
Snowdon Mary., Staithes
Woods Dinah, Staithes
PLUMBERS & GLAZIERS.
Gowland William, Skelton Robson Thomas, Brotton
SHOPKEEPERS & DEALRS IN GROCERIES & SUNDRIES.
Barber Ann, Lofthouse
Beadnall Thomas, Lofthouse
Brown Mark, Staithes
Coates Richard (and bacon dealer) Staithes
Harforth William, Skelton
Robinson Benjamin, Skelton
Robinson John, Skelton
Trettles Thomas (aud fish dealer) Staithes
Wilkinson Elizabeth, Skelton
Wilson Ann, Marsk
Wilson Christopher, Skelton
Beadnall George, Brotton
Beadnall Thomas, Brotton
Fiddler George, Lofthouse
Knaggs Aaron, Lofthouse
Ridsdale John, Skelton
Sanders Thomas, Up- Leatham
Whitles Richard, Staithes
Wilkinson George, Skelton
Bailey Charles, Kirk-Leatham
Bird Thomas, Marsk
Breckon John, Staithes
Yeoman John, Lofthouse
Cowburn Robert, Staithes
Dinnis Henry, Brotton
Fletcher John, Staithes
Grainger Henry, Brotton
Green Martin, Marsk
Harper John, Marsk
Hull Michael, Lofthouse
Lynass Ralph, Skelton
Mead William, Staithes
Sayer Robert, Staithes
Shemelds Thomas & Son, Skelton
Taylorson William, Marsk
Thompson Joseph, Skelton
Brown Joseph, Staithes
Brown Mark, Staithes Miscellaneous.
Bradley Robert, bricklayer, Yearby
Brown Addison, ship owner, &c. Staithes
Brown Ths.ship owner & master.Staithes
Dawson Thomas, linen, weaver, Skelton
Gibson William, retailer of beer. Staithes
Laverick Thomas, saddler, Staithes
Overend Thomas, slater, Lofthouse
Toase Thos. brazier & tinman, Lofthouse
Wilson Christr. retailer of beer, Skelton
CARRIERS. To GUISBOROUGH.
George Hogarth, from .Marsk, every Tues. and Sat.-and Ths. Johnson, from Staithes,Wed.& Fri.
To STOCKTON, Jonathan Wilkinson, from Lofthouse,every Tues.-and Robt. Robinson, from Skelton, Wed. and Sat. To WHITBY, William Mann & Jonathan Wilkinson, from Lofthouse, every Fri- day, and Thomas Johnson, Thursdays.
INNS & PUBLIC HOUSES.
Angel, John Atkinson, Lofthouse
Black Bull, Geo.Lowther.Lofthouse
Brown Cow, William Smallwood, Hinderwell
Cod & Lobster, Matthew Trettles, Staithes
Duke, Joseph Biggins, Skelton
Dundas Arms, Wm.Bulman, Marsk
Golden Lion, Ts. Bowness, Staithes
Letters, Margaret Cole, Staithes
Malt Shovel, J s.Thorpe,Oswaldkirk
Royal George, Jn. Breckon,Staithes
Royal George, Wm.Lawson,Skelton
Ship, James Gladstone, Brotton
Ship, Thomas King, Marsk
Shoulder of Mutton, Margt. Duell, Staithes
Tree, Richard Webster, Brotton
Turner's Arms, David Knagg, Kirk-Leatham
Wharton's Arms, Robert Bell, Skelton