Roman Catholics



In 1534, Henry VIII cut the links between England and the Roman Catholic Church, and established the Church of England. Initially, legal restrictions made it difficult for Catholics to worship, so information about Catholics is to be found chiefly in the records of the Church of England and in Quarter Sessions records. In 1778, the Catholic Relief Act gave Catholics some minor concessions in return for swearing an oath of allegiance to the Crown. In 1791, some further concessions in the Toleration Act of 1689 were extended to Catholics. Catholic worship was legalised on the condition that they registered their churches and the names of their priests with Quarter Sessions. The Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 removed all major restrictions and enabled Catholics to sit in Parliament, to vote at elections and to hold property unconditionally.


Ellerton appears to have adopted Protestantism from an early period. All of the published lists of popish recusants given below do not include anyone from Ellerton. The only evidence I have found of nonconformity in the period from the Reformation to the mid-18th century was in the Archdeacons’ Visitation Court Books for 1677, when three parishioners were cited for not attending their parish church. This is not evidence of Catholicism at this period, they could have been protestant dissenters, anti-church, or failed to attend church for a variety of other reasons.


However, nonconformity is clearly evidenced in the parish from the mid-18th century onwards.


East Yorkshire Local History Society

Post Reformation Catholicism in East Yorkshire, 1558-1790, Hugh Aveling

Appendix 1, Section 5 gives a list of recusants found in a wide range of sources




Catholic Record Society Publications

Catholic Recusancy in York, 1558-1791, J. C. H. Aveling, Catholic Record Society, Monograph Series 2

Page 297: Borthwick, High Commission Book 1580-5, f.73


George Palmes, Archdeacon of York, refused to subscribe. In his will he left £6 to each of his former benefices, which included Ellerton.


A List of The Roman Catholics in the County of York in 1604.

Transcribed from the Original Ms. in the Bodleian Library,

and edited with genealogical Notes. Edward Peacock, F.S.A.




Surtees Society Publications

Depositions from the Castle of York, Volume XL

Pages 119-123 gives a list of those indicted at the York Assizes in March, 1664, from lists drawn up by village constables and forwarded to York.




Archdeacons’ Visitation Court Books

Borthwick Reference: ER.V/CB


1677          Margaret Blyth, widow, Edward Ridsdale and Matthew Young         

For not coming to church nor receiving the sacrement



Particulars of Papists' Estates





The Names of the Roman Catholics, Nonjurors, And others, who refus'd to take the Oaths To his late Majesty King George.

Together with Their Titles, Additions, and Places of A.bode; the Parishes and Townships where their Lands lay; the Names of the then Tenants, or Occupiers thereof; and the Annual Valuation of them, as estimated by themselves.

Transmitted to the late Commissioners for the Forfeited Estates of England and Wales, after the Unnatural Rebellion in the North, in the Year 1715.





Bishopthorpe Recusancy Returns

Bp.Rec.Ret TS/1767/1


Papists 1735


I doe certify that there neither is nor has been any Papist within the Parishes of Aughton & Ellerton for these Twenty years by past, nor any that I ever heard of Inclining that way.

Witness my hand

Wm: Store, Minister of Aughton & Ellerton

Papists 1767


In Obedience to your Request, I have with Care looked over my Parishioners, and have neither Papist nor reputed Papist within my Parishes of Aughton and Ellerton.

James Cookson, Vicar of Aughton & Curate of Ellerton.



Papists 1743 (Archbishop Herring's Visitation Returns, Vols I and III)

I. What number of Families have you in your Parish? Of these, how many are Dissenters? And of what sort are they?


I have a hundred & forty nine families, six of which are Romans or Papists, & not one Dissenter of any other kind.


II. Have you any Licensed or other Meeting House in your Parish?


I have no meeting house, nor any Dissenting preacher or Papist priest.


Society of Friends


Friends, commonly know as Quakers,  became established in this area of the East Riding around 1665. They were originally part of the Selby Meeting and in 1669 became a constituent of the York Monthly Meeting. A separate Meeting seems to have emerged in Skipwith by 1670, when large numbers of Friends suffered distraint of goods for holding meetings for worship in the village. Several Friends from East and West Cottingwith paid fines for non-payment of tithes during the 1680s, but none specifically from Ellerton. The Meeting had acquired a burial ground in Skipwith by 1717. Friends began to meet in Cottingwith in the late 18th century and the name of the Meeting was changed to reflect this in April 1773. A Meeting House was built in Cottingwith in 1789 and a burial ground opened the following year. The Meeting moved again in 1876 to Bubwith and a small Meeting House of corrugated iron was erected two years later, opposite Gleneagles House. This was in use until the closure of the Meeting in 1912, and the building sold.


The records of the Bubwith Preparatory Meeting are held at Leeds University Library, under reference MS 1981/2 (Clifford Street archive), B 19, 30.2, 30.7; L 20.2. The 8 items in the collection cover the period 1662-1912, and there is a printed catalogue (Handlist 75). The collection consists of:


  • Minutes of PM: 1818-1902
  • Record of sufferings in Skipwith and Cottingwith: 1662-1815
  • Birth notes: 1838-1872
  • Burial notes: 1837-1897
  • Papers concerning Bubwith Meeting House: 1878-1912


Unfortunately none of these records are currently available online, so a visit to Leeds or York (the Borthwick has microfilm copies) is essential, if you suspect that your Ellerton ancestors may have been Friends.





Brief overview of Methodist History


John Wesley, born 1703, and Charles Wesley, born 1707, were the sons of the rector of Epworth, Lincolnshire. They both studied at Christ College, Oxford, and became a member of a religious group that included George Whitefield. The group became became known as the Holy Club, but were derisively nicknamed the 'Methodists' by other students due to their methodical approach to scheduling their prayers and scripture study.


John Wesley, began preaching tours around the country in 1739, and he visited and preached in Yorkshire on a number of occasions. In 1744 he organised the first Conference, and together with the biannual synods, the circuit quarterly meetings, and the governance of local chapels or meetings houses, formed the overall Methodist administration.


The Wesleys insisted that Methodists regularly attend their local parish church as well as Methodist meetings. They did not want Methodism to become a 'break away' movement, however, the force and momentum of the movement made a separate Methodist body inevitable. In 1784, John Wesley obtained legal status for the Conference, which provided the de facto legal separation of Methodism from the Anglican Church. The separation could be said to have been completed in 1795, by the Plan of Pacification, which resolved disputes about the status of the travelling preachers and the administration of the sacraments.


Differences of opinion within the Methodist church led to several break away groups forming over the years, including: The Methodist New Connexion in 1797; the Independent Methodists in 1805; the Primitive Methodists in 1810; the Bible Christians in 1815; the Wesleyan Methodist Association in 1835; and the Wesleyan Reformers in 1849. These last two groups became the United Methodist Free Church in 1857 and joined with the Methodist New Connexion and the Bible Christians in 1907 to form the United Methodist Church. The UMC, together with the Wesleyan Methodists and the Primitive Methodists, united in 1932 to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain.


Methodism in the East Riding


Methodism had arrived in York by 1743 and in Hull by 1746. However, in Archbishop Herring's Visitation  returns of 1743,  the incumbent of Ellerton, when asked about dissenters, replied: 

I have a hundred & forty nine families, six of which are Romans or Papists, & not one Dissenter of any other kind.

He also reported:

I have no meeting house, nor any Dissenting preacher or Papist priest.


Following the Toleration Act of 1689 dissenting congregations were required to register their meeting places. These are found first in the Quarter Sessions records, but later applications were made directly to the Archbishop of York. Applications for, and notes of grants of meeting house certificates were recorded in the Diocesan Faculty Books.


The meeting house certificates granted for places within the parish of Ellerton were as follows:


Fac.Bk 1 (1737-1768)





Fac.Bk 2 (1768-1793)


Fol 443 (27 Feb 1790). Protestant dissenters. Meeting house in house of James Whoakes: James Whoakes, William Yeoman, William Wilkinson, John Gremsil.



Fac.Bk 3 (1793-1816)


Fol 574 (5 Mar 1811). Ellerton meeting house: we have set apart a chapel in Ellerton, of which Barnard Clarkson, J. Henry Bell jun., William Young, Benjamin Halley and others are trustees. Richard Wintle, Luke Barlow, Joseph Young, John Craven, Wm Craven, Robert Wright, Thomas Boast, Robt. Mitchell, Robert Brown, James Wharke.



Fac.Bk 4 (1816-1858)

Nil. For this period see the separate Registers of Meeting House Certificates, below.

Registers of Meeting House Certificates
Two volumes of these certificates are preserved at the Borthwick, under reference DMH.Reg, covering the period, 1. 1816-1834 and 2. 1834-1852

Name Abode Status Location of Meeting House Denomination Date

James Wetherell and John Wetherell

Both of Howden

Draper and Tanner

Certain chapel or building in Ellerton in the possession of ourselves and others as trustees


2 May 1850





From the Ecclesiastical Census of 1851

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. Erected 1811, separate building, used exclusively for worship. Sittings: Free, Other 72. On 30 March, Morning General Congregation 44. Sunday Scholars 23. Evening General Congregation 47.

Signed: George Wake, Steward, nr Bubwith.





From the Ecclesiastical Census of 1851


Latter-Day Saints Ellerton. On 30 March, Morning General Congregation 14. Evening General Congregation 23. Average during 4 months, 20.

Signed: Robert Young, Presiding Elder.