15th October 1835. Priescrofts Farm auctioned.

The surname Petch does not appear in the records of Skelton until the 1800s and when the first members came is not presently known.
But in the later half of that century the name figures largely, when Petches ran Barns Farm, near the Castle, and Priestcrofts, between Skelton Green and Boosbeck.
The most notable in Skelton was David Thomas Petch of Barns Farm, who organised the Skelton Agricultural Show for many years.
The name is carried on in present day businesses of East Cleveland.
The following email from a descendent of the Skelton Petches, now living in Cambridgeshire, created an interesting search.

Dear Bill,
Just emailing to say thank you for putting together the 'Skelton-in-Cleveland in History' website.
I’m currently researching my family history for my Grandmother, who’s Mother was born into the Petch family.
I was wondering if you had any photos of any of the Petch’s from Priestcroft farm, or if you had any details of why they left the farm in the early 1900’s or what happened to the farm afterwards ?
Thanks again for all the information you’ve put together.
It’s given me some fantastic insights into my history.

Priestcrofts on Ordnance Survey Map of 1856.

My Great Great Grandfather was David Thomas Petch, who was the son of Robert Pinkney Petch, who I believe owned Priestcroft.
David Petch married Kate Brunton, who was from Marton (I believe this is a nearby town, and that the Bruntons still own a butchers shop there today).
I can trace David and Kate to Priestcroft until 1906, but in the 1911 census they have appeared in Kent and we know they later moved to Cambridgeshire as that is where the family is now.
Annoyingly, nobody in my family was ever told why the Petch’s left Priestcroft and I was hoping that somebody out there would know why !
I’m still trying to link up all the Petch’s in that area at the time and work out which of them are related.
I know David and Kate were in Skelton until at least 1906 because their children's births were registered in Skelton.
Their fifth child, Elsie, who sadly only reached the age of two was born in 1909 in Cheriton in Kent.
Then another of their daughters, my 2x Great Grandmother, married in the village my family lives in now in 1929, so I know the family completely moved their whole lives at least twice between 1905 and 1929.
The only other lead I have come across is on the Yorkshire Court records website. In the early 1900’s records relating to minor crimes on the family farms go from ‘farmed by D T Petch & Owned by R P Petch’ to ‘farmed by D T Petch & Owned by Yorkshire City Bank’.
This sounds to me like a bankruptcy, but I can find no reference to it in any of the local newspapers. Please do put my email on your website though, I’d be thrilled to find out why I grew up in Cambridge instead of Yorkshire!

Kind regards,

Amy Gordon.

Owen Rooks, a native of New Skelton and now living in Sunderland, has kindly provided the answers to most of Amy's queries.

Mary Ann Brown.

Priestcrofts Farm was owned by David Thomas Petch, who had bought it from Isaac Scarth, who farmed at Stanghow and figures often in this website.
At the census of this year Priestcrofts is being run by David's son, Robert Pinkney Petch, age 29, born Yorkshire. His wife is Elizabeth, age 21, born Yorkshire, and their first child Annie has just been born.
They have 2 domestic servants. Mary Ann Brown, age 20, born Great Ayton, N Yorks and Mary Jane Dale, age 14, born Yorkshire.
By coincidence Mary Ann Brown is Owen Rook's paternal Grandmother and it was at Priestcrofts that she met his Grandad, William Rooks, who was an Agricultural Labourer before becoming a Quarryman.
4 Farm workers lodge at the Farm. Thomas Swales, age 38, John William Shepherd, 18, Edward Shepherd, 14, and Charles Robinson, 14. All born in Yorkshire.

Court cases heard at Guisborough.
Summary conviction of John Richardson of Skelton, a Blacksmith, for maliciously damaging grass growing in a field, the property of David Thomas Petch and occupied by Robert Pinkney Petch.

Summary conviction of Henry Bilton of Lingdale Lane in the township of Skelton, a miner, for maliciously destroying two turnips, the property of Robert Pinkney Petch, growing on his open land, and causing sixpence-worth [2 and a half new pence] of damage. Offence committed at the township of Skelton.

Robert P Petch summoned Thomas Green, a miner of Lingdale Lane, Skelton for wilfully damaging beans in his field at Skelton on the 17th.
Defendant was found in the field searching for rabbit meat. To pay 6d damage and 6d fine and costs.

The census of this year shows Amy's G-G-Grandfather, David Thomas Petch, aged 3, living at Priestcrofts.
His father was Robert Pinkney Petch, now 39, is described as a 'Farmer of 100 acres, employing 6 Labourers'. His wife is Elizabeth, aged 31, had been in Skelton in 1850. David has an older brother, aged 9, also named Robert Pinkney, and 3 sisters, Annie, 10, Elizabeth, 6, and Esther, Catherine, just born.
The children have a 24 year old, Governess, Sarah Upton, born in Staffordshire.
Also living at the Farm are Dorothy Cook, the 63 year old Housekeeper and Mary E Atkinson, a Domestic Servant.
3 of the Farm Labourers also lodge there, Robert Jackson, 21 from Newby, Yorks, John W Hall, 19, from Rosedale, N Yorks and Charles E Armstrong, 15 from Skelton.

Work seems to have been hard at the Farm for adverts in the local Gazette show that the Petches of Priestcroft were constantly seeking servants.
By 1886 two new servants names appear and in this year one was sadly killed at the Farm:-

Mr A Buchanan, Coroner, held an enquiry today at the Green Inn, Skelton into the circumstances attending the death of Annie Elizabeth Dale, at Priestcroft Farm on Thursday.
The first witness was Thomas Dale, who said the deceased was his daughter and was 19 years old. So far as he know his daughter had been happy with her master and mistress and the other servants.
Jane Anne Irving, a domestic servant at the farm was next examined. She said that she and the deceased commenced yesterday to clean the house. During the two years she had been in the service of Mr Petch the two guns which the jury had seen were always kept in the cupboard.
She had never received any particular order to clean the guns.
The guns were cleaned by the man, but when they were through cleaning they gave the guns a dust. She never knew the guns were loaded and she supposed the deceased did not know either.
The only words that passed between herself and deceased whilst cleaning the cupboard was the she said "Do be careful of the guns".
Ann, the deceased, was on the floor cleaning the gun when it exploded. On hearing the roport witness turned round and saw the deceased lying on the floor with blood spouting from her breast.
Dr Dunn said the shot struck the centere of the third rid on the right side and pierced the main artery.
Mr Petch said he did not know when the gun was last fired. He kept it generally loaded.
The Coroner cleared the court except for the police and jury and recalled Mr Petch.
The summing up took place in private and at the conclusion of the enquiry the girl's father was called into the room to hear the result read over. The decision arrived at was that death was caused accidentally.

Local Ad 1889.

The Petch name in the Census for this year has been transcribed from the original forms as "Peter", but Owen Rooks still managed to find the records.
They show that the family has had 3 additions, John D, aged 7, William, 3, and Alice, 1. Esther has possibly died in childhood.
All the servants have changed again, with Sarah A Bookless, aged 26, of Yorkshire and Margaret Warne, 20, doing the housework.

54 High St, Skelton.
From 1861 to 1905 it was a Provision Merchants for local Farms, Seed, Manure etc.
Then it was the Offices for Skelton and Brotton Council until the creation of Langbaurgh Borough Council in 1974.
Now a private dwelling.

1901 to 1911.
The 1901 census shows that Robert Pinkney Petch, Senior, has now retired and the family are living at 54 High St, Skelton.
Priestcrofts Farm has passed to the eldest son, Robert Pinkney, Junior, who is living there with his Irish wife, Francis and as yet no children.
Amy's G-G-Grandfather David, aged 23, is at 54 High St and described as a 'Seed Cake Manure Provision Merchant Shopkeeper'
His brother John and sister Annie are still at home and Christiana Hudson, aged 22, from Brotton is the Servant.
On the Censuses from 1861 to 1891, 54 High Street was occupied by John Dixon, who is variously described as "Hop seed and Provision Merchant", "Grocery and Seed Merchant"
He was David's maternal Grandfather. His Mother was born Elizabeth Dixon and his brother William and sister Elizabeth were both given Dixon as a middle Christian name.
John Dixon was buried at Skelton on April 21st, 1894 and it seems the Petches took over the business from then on.
By 1909 54 to 56 High St had become the Skelton and Brotton Urban District Council Offices and at the 1911 Census number 54 was occupied by William Robinson, the Council Surveyor.

3rd April 1902.
David married Kate Brunton, a Schoolteacher, the daughter of William Brunton, butcher of Marton, Middlesbrough.

Robert Pinkney Petch, Senior died. His Will shows that everything was left to his sons Robert Pinkney Petch and William Dixon Petch.
He was very likely much involved in the 'Seed Cake, Manure' business at 54 High Street.
So David T Petch never farmed Priescrofts and as a younger son had to find his own way of earning a living as a Shopkeeper.

Back of 54 High St, with the entrance for carriages.


In January 2018 Peter Appleton of Skelton, having read the facts above, advised that he had more information for Amy.
In 2013 Peter was presented by a local resident with the Minute Books of the "Skelton Association for the Prosecution of Felons".
These documents have now been deposited with the North Riding of Yorkshire Archives at Northallerton.
They record the activities of local businessmen, who, from 1788, formed an Association to protect their personal interests to combat crime and its effects, long before the North Riding Police force was established.
These Associations had been formed nationwide and a more detailed description of the reasons why they were established can be read on page 73 of Skelton stories - Skelton Crime Watch.
The Minute Books show that several members of the Petch family became Members, starting with David's Grandfather, also named David Thomas, in 1831.

John Dixon of 54 High St, Skelton in Cleveland, a Seed, Guano, Hop and Provision merchant, was examined in Stockton Bankruptcy Court with losses of £9,061 10s 9d.
This was an enormous sum of money in these times when a man's coat could be bought for under 10 shillings [50p in modern money] and a winter suit for under £1.
The Court was adjourned and he attended again on the 1st of May, when his inquiry was closed.
Upon making the customary concluding declaration, Mr Dixon, who is an elderly gentleman and widely known in the North, became much affected and burst into tears.
The Registrar, in informing Mr Dixon that his examination was concluded said - "I hope you will be a rich man yet, Mr Dixon."
John Dixon was David T Petch's maternal Grandfather and would have been aged 71 at the time of his bankruptcy. He died in April 1894 and at some point David took over the business.

Skelton Magazine 1883.

1894. David T Petch became a member of the Skelton Felons Association and was appointed Secretary.

1902. March. David was mandated to arrange a new "Deed of Agreement" for the Skelton Association. He handed 2 outdated Deeds to the Association's Solicitors, Jackson and Jackson and they were returned to him on the 12th April.
December. The Solicitors wrote to David requesting the names to be placed on the new Deed.

1904. A son, also named David Thomas, is born to David and Kate in Skelton.
David's father, Robert Pinkney died in Skelton, leaving his estate to David's brothers.

1905. A Daughter, Elizabeth, is born in Skelton.

1906. A second daughter, Kathleen, is born in Skelton.

1908 January. The Association's documents are recorded in David's handwriting up to this date. Meetings had been called in 1904, 1905 and 1906, but no mention made of the new Deed.
This appears to be the time that David T Petch left Skelton, never to return.

1909. September. The Association's Treasurer, Robert Stephenson, contacted the Association's Solicitors and asked them to initiate proceedings against David Thomas Petch for the return of the Association's books.
David T Petch had placed his estate in Trust. There followed a year long, legal dispute between 'Jackson & Jackson' of Middlesbrough, the Association's solicitors and Alfred Smart of Eastcheap, London, a Trustee of the estate of David Thomas Petch.
It would appear that David Thomas Petch, had experienced similar financial problems with the Seed and Manure business that had bankrupted his Grandfather and had absconded to escape his creditors.
A letter from David’s Trustee says that David is living in Folkestone in April 1908 and is ‘Practically penniless’.
Proceedings thereafter took place between the law firms representing David and the Association for the possession of the Minute Books and money that both sides claimed was owed to the other.
The books were returned, but the money disagreement never settled.

1911. The census of this year shows David and family living at 37 Ashley Ave, Cheriton, Kent. Kate is employed as a School mistress and David as a Grocer, although the word 'unemployed' has been written and crossed out.
At some later date they moved to the village of Great Staughton, near Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, where Amy's Grandmother was born in 1930. David died in 1957 and his wife Kate in 1960.
Petch William
Petch William
Hoggart Robert
McLaren J W
Petch Ann
Petch Ann
Petch William
Petch William
Petch William
Petch Ann
Petch Ann
Petch Ann
Land at Priestcrofts
House Bdgs at Priestcrofts
Cottage at Priestcrofts
Cottage at Hobdale
Land at Hobdale
House Bds at Hobdale

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