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Chapter 3

Later Rawdons and the Laytons

“The Cavaliers were wrong but wromantic; the Roundheads were right but repulsive”

1066 and All That

On the dissolution of the monasteries 1 the greater part of Rawdon passed to the Crown and shortly thereafter to Henry Clifford, second Earl of Cumberland (the son of the famous ‘Shepherd Earl’). He acquired the Bolton Priory Estates including, among much more, land in Rawdon and Yeadon but died without issue in 1570. The Rawdon lands were purchased by Stephen Paslew (various spellings) the son of Francis Paslew of East Riddlesden Hall, near Keighley, who had married Ann, daughter of Michael Rawdon. Paslew committed suicide in 1579, perhaps for financial reasons, and the estate passed to his nephew, Robert Oglethorpe of Bardsey.2 Oglethorpe, a Recusant, sold the Yeadon property to Henry Robinson and Stephen Wyvill3 in 1614 and the Rawdon property to Francis Layton the same year. Wyvill, of the family still at Constable Burton in Wensleydale, was a cousin to Layton, who repurchased the Yeadon lands with others in 1620.

The purchases comprised: –

  • 1/3 of the Manor of Rawdon
  • 1/2 of the Manor of Yeadon
  • 1/3 of the Manor of Horsforth

In 1629 he purchased a further third of the Manor of Rawdon and the remaining half of the Manor of Yeadon, in 1630 more land in Rawdon from the Greene family of Dean Grange, Scotland Lane, Horsforth and more land in Horsforth from the Craven family.


Thus he finished with two thirds of the Manor of Rawdon, all the Manor of Yeadon and two fifths of the Manor of Horsforth, together with land at Carlton, Cookridge, Burley Woodhead and Thornton, Bradford. He also bought land in Yeadon from the Hoppey family (middle class clothiers) and manorial rights from the Vavasour family of Hazelwood, near Tadcaster who had held the same since at least 1150. His home was the old home of the Rawdons and will henceforth be referred to as Layton Hall. He built the Low Mill in Yeadon Gill to grind corn.

Who was Francis Layton, who by 1630 was a not inconsiderable landowner? One of the ‘New Men’ of the Jacobean and Carolean times, Layton was born in 1577 at West Layton, a village to the north west of the Scotch Corner – Bowes Road, (A66) where his family had been settled since 1278.4 He was a great nephew of Richard Layton, Dean of York. Richard, described as a “coarse and evil man” had been Archdeacon of Buckingham. He had been a henchman of Thomas Cromwell in the suppression of the monasteries and the destruction of the tomb of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. At York he pawned the Chapter’s plate but in old age again displayed Recusant sympathies.


Francis married Margaret5 (died 1641), daughter of Henry Brawne of Alscots, Gloucester and Newington Butts, Surrey, a London Alderman. She had been a Lady in Waiting to Anne of Denmark (wife of James I). It is fair to assume that she would have brought a worthwhile dowry. There were two sons (Henry and Thomas)6 and four daughters (Mary, Margaret, Anne and Martha) of the marriage.

He became Yeoman of the Jewel House to Charles I and just before the outbreak of the Civil War he was involved in disposing of plate for the King, which would indicate that he was a man of integrity who could be trusted. What precisely he did during the Civil War we do not know. He was not a soldier and he would be turned 60 when the war broke out. But it is known that on 23rd January 1643 a Parliamentary force of some 1,000 musketeers and 2,000 clubmen led by Thomas Fairfax with Sir Henry Fowles in command of six troops of horse and three companies of dragoons left Bradford for Leeds hoping to cross the Aire at Kirkstall, only to find that the bridge was down. They returned to Apperley Bridge, crossed and proceeded up Apperley Lane to approximately where Cliffe Drive now is, crossed to Rawdon Drive (then known as West Lane) up Over Lane and along Town Street to Horsforth, climbed Butcher Hill and on to Woodhouse Moor where they camped for the night. A hard day’s march if they had wagons and cannons to drag through the winter mud. This was a secondary attack, the major push being made from the southwest. They would, of course have passed Layton Hall where the owner may have thought it wise to be over the hills and far away!

Ultimately in 1645 Layton was imprisoned and fined £3,670 7 (maybe £60,000 in today’s money). This was the largest fine imposed on any Royalist landowner in this area. The Calverleys, for instance, were only fined £1,380.

To return to the Rawdon family, George Rawdon, the brother of Ann Paslew, began the building of what is now called Rawdon Hall (though at times in the past called Rawdon Low Hall) in Cliffe Lane, towards the end of the 16th century. The date stone says 1625 but this may be the date of completion. From then on there were two distinct landowning families in Rawdon; the Laytons, strongly Anglican and Royalist, and the Rawdons, sympathetic to dissent.


The boundary of their estates followed the line of Well Lane/Cliffe Lane and in due course I shall deal with the effects of this division, even to within living memory. George Rawdon’s son, also Francis (1582-1667)8 married Dorothy Aldburgh9 of Aldburgh in 1603. They had a son, George (1604-83, and later the 1st baronet) and five daughters, one of whom, Anne (1606-37) married John Stanhope II of Horsforth (1608-75) and was an ancestor of subsequent Stanhopes and Spencer-Stanhopes. Two other sisters, Priscilla and Mercy, remained unmarried.

George went to London in about 1625 and became secretary to Edward, (later 1st Viscount) Conway. Conway had large estates in Ulster, and George, who must have impressed Conway, visited them on his behalf and acted as his agent. Conway died in 1631 and George continued to act for his son, the 2nd viscount. Ultimately in 1654 he married his second wife, Dorothy sister of the 2nd viscount, who was the mother of all his surviving children.

In 1641 there was a Catholic rebellion in Ulster with the inevitable atrocities and counter atrocities. George, who was in England at the time, hastened to Ireland and arrived at Lisnagarvey, (now Lisburn) where he found only four muskets in the town and little powder. The day after he arrived, Sir Philem O’Neill, the leader of the rebels, attacked. George’s horse was shot from under him but he managed to send to Belfast for more powder, which turned the day. Fewer then 200 Protestants repulsed O’Neill’s force of about 7,000.

By 1642 he was a major in the Scottish army of Maj. Gen. Robert Munro and had another horse shot from under him in another skirmish with O’Neill. For the next four years he saw service in Ireland on the King’s behalf and then lived there quietly during the Commonwealth period. He actively supported the restoration of Charles II and sat again in the Irish Parliament from 1661 to 1666, being made a baronet in 1665 and a Privy Councillor in 1673. He built the town of Moira in Co. Down and he was much involved in road building in Ulster – being described as “the best highwayman in Ireland”. He received large grants of land forfeited from the Lavertys and other rebel families in Co. Down, Dublin, Louth and Meath. He was a model landlord who did much to improve his estates.

Unlike his father he was far from sympathetic to the Scottish Presbyterian ministers in Ulster. His descendants10 belong more to the histories of Ireland, the United Kingdom and India than that of Rawdon. He left the management of his Rawdon estates in the hands of John Stanhope II (see above). His father, Francis, had remained at Rawdon Hall where he was to see the less pleasant aspects of the Restoration. In 1661 the Cavalier Parliament passed the so-called Clarendon code including the Five Mile Act, the Conventicle Act etc. which made life difficult and indeed dangerous for dissenting ministers and their flocks. (Though to be fair life had been equally difficult for Laudian priests during the Commonwealth.) Between 1660 and 1689 Francis, and his daughter Priscilla, made Rawdon Hall a centre of dissenting activity. This was the period of the still-remembered services held under the shelter of Buckstone Rock, (on the present Golf Course but then perhaps common land). The leading dissenting minister in West Yorkshire was the Rev. Oliver Heywood of Northowram, near Halifax (1630-1702) and Francis was supportive of him. The tradition is that when services were to be held at the rock, white sheets were displayed as drying washing as a signal to supporters a distance away.11

Heywood records visiting Rawdon Hall in 1667 and again in 1668 when he wrote in his journal “Though the old man had died, wee were most sweetly entertained. He was nearly 86 years of age”. Dorothy, his wife, had died in 1660 but the unmarried daughters lived on in the Hall, or part of it, until 1707. From then onward the hall seems to have been tenanted by strangers with the exception of a few years after the last war. Indeed by 1814 the Rawdon family only retained about 64 acres of land in Rawdon with a rental of about £84 p.a. (£105 p.a. in 1873) together with five acres of wood.

‘The Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 that brought William and Mary to the throne was followed by the Toleration Act of 1689. From then on dissenters were not seriously persecuted but they could say that they were discriminated against.

To revert to the Laytons, despite his high fine, Francis remained a wealthy man. Seeing the need for a Chapel of Ease nearer than Guiseley Church he commenced the building of Rawdon Church, almost opposite his house, in about 1647 (see Chapter 7). At the Restoration he was rewarded by Charles II for his loyalty and re-appointed to his position at the Jewel House but did not enjoy it for long, dying in 1661. He was described as the “First and oldest Yeoman of Plate and Jewels”. His salary was 20 marks p.a. (£6.13.4.) plus £1.2.6. per day for lodging and 2s. 6d. for meals. The Master of the Jewel House, Sir Gilbert Talbot described him as “old and peevish”. Charles II was petitioned to give the office to his son Henry, but refused.

Henry Layton (1623-1705) a member of Grays Inn, wrote and published six books between 1698 and 1703, mostly on theology. He was said to have been “a good historian and an accomplished gentleman” but his notions of the soul sleeping with the body until resurrection called for much dissent. Nevertheless he was spoken of as being “very religiously disposed”. In his later years he became blind and was buried in the same grave as his wife,12 who had died in 1702, in the chancel of the church where there is the following inscription:

“Here lieth interred the body of Elizabeth, the wife of Henry Layton of this town Rawdon, Esq.; daughter of Nicholas Yarburgh of Snaith Hall (near Selby) in this County, Knt. She died upon the 23rd of October, in the year of Christ, 1702, in the 55th year of her age.”

“Here may she rest in peace, until she shall again be awaked, and revived by the voice of the Archangel and the sound of the Trump of God.”

“Here lieth interred the body of Henry Layton of this town of Rawdon, Esq.; Son and heir of Francis Layton, late of Rawdon aforesaid, Esq.; who by his said father’s order, finished this Chapel. He died on the 18th of October in the year of our Lord Christ, 1705, in the 83rd year of his age.”

“Here may he rest until he shall be made Partaker of the happy resurrection at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

He was succeeded by his brother, Thomas, who continued work on the church, including the tower, the churchyard wall to Town Street and the gates. He also built the school (see p. 38) and the two almshouses which survived in a very dilapidated condition until the 1960s. He was visited in 1714 by Ralph Thoresby, the Leeds historian who wrote as follows:

“Jany. 27th, 1714 – I rode to Rawden in company with the Mayor, Vicar (of Leeds) and 3 cousins to wait of old Mr. Layton, who received us very respectfully and entertained us very generously. After dinner we walked to the Chapel, built by order of his father, and considerably beautified by this gentleman, who hath surrounded it with a handsome wall, and added £20 per annum to the Minister’s salary. We went thence to the new School which he hath built and endowed, over which is a convenient lodging for the Master, and a chamber for the inhabitants to meet in about all public accounts and lastly, we arrived at the new Almshouses he is building which he will also endow. But what pleased us above all was his gratitude to the Town of Leeds for his education at the Grammar School; and he most generously proposed that if the town would build a new church, which he heard was much wanting, and would cost, he computed, £3,000, he would give £1,000 towards it; that is £500 immediately upon subscription of £1,000 by the inhabitants, and £100 afterwards upon the advancement of every £200. This rejoiced me mightily, and it was resolved to have a meeting upon it by the Chief Inhabitants at the beginning of next week.”

The church was Holy Trinity, Boar Lane, a little noticed Georgian gem.

Thomas died unmarried in 1715 leaving his sister Anne surviving him and the issue of the others who had, respectively, married Thomas Robinson of Rokeby, near Barnard Castle, Thomas Kirke of Cookridge, William Smith of Easby, near Richmond and Francis Foxcroft of Weetwood. Ultimately the estate was partitioned.


1. It has been calculated that by the date of the dissolution of the monasteries about one third of the land in England belonged to the Church. As the Church did not often sell or always exploit land fully this tended to inhibit economic development, literally ‘mortmain’, a dead hand. Whether after the dissolution the parish churches and clergy were adequately provided for as compared with the King and his friends is another matter.

2. Oglethorpe came of a family which had been at Oglethorpe Hall, Newton Kyme near Tadcaster since before the Conquest. He was a cousin of Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, who crowned Queen Elizabeth I after the refusal of the then Archbishop of York to do so. General James Edward Oglethorpe (1695-1785) the founder of the Colony of Georgia who encouraged the Wesley brothers to go there with him was of the same family. Elizabeth, daughter of William Oglethorpe of Rawdon married Francis Thorpe (1595-1665) a Baron of the Exchequer, i.e. a senior judge.

3. By his will Francis left a ring to his cousin Wyvill.

4. A Layton family lived at Dalemain, Ullswater for some two hundred years before 1697. They were Recusants and little is known at Dalemain about what happened to them, but heraldic evidence indicates that they may have been of the same stock as Francis.

5. A portrait of her by Paul van Somer, a Flemish born court painter in Jacobean times, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Museum also has in its costume section the magnificent embroidered doublet which is shown in the painting. One of Francis (artist unknown) is still in the private ownership of a descendant.

6. T. T. Empsall writing in the Bradford Antiquary Vol. I p.179 says that Henry (whom he wrongly calls John) married a daughter of Sir Alan Cotton, a Lord Mayor of London. She could have been a wife who died young but he gives no authority for the statement. She is certainly not mentioned by Wilfred Robertshaw in his articles in the same journal (Vol. XXV p.222 – Margaret Layton and XXVIII p.169. Wilfred Robertshaw was Director of Bradford Art Gallery and Museums 1938-60 and his work was described as being “characterised by meticulous scholarship”). On his death Henry was seized of lands in Rawdon, Yeadon, Horsforth, Cookridge, Keighley and Thornton, Bradford in West Yorkshire and East and West Layton and Richmond (North Yorkshire).

7. This figure is taken from the ‘List of Compounders’ but is difficult to reconcile with a figure of £736.12.0. shown in the ‘Yorkshire Royalist Composition Papers’ printed by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. The explanation may be that Francis was fined on two separate occasions. When he appeared before the Parliamentary Commissioners, not unnaturally, he pleaded poverty. He said that he had debts of £5,500 and that his estate was burdened with a rent charge of £20 p.a. to Mrs Frances Oglethorpe for her life and £54 p.a. in perpetuity to the Poor of the Hospital of Tadcaster. Assuming that Frances was Robert Oglethorpe’s widow, this suggests deferred payment for at least part of the purchase price of the Rawdon estate. As Oglethorpe came from Bardsey, not far from Tadcaster, the second obligation may have been imposed on the estate by Oglethorpe. Payments to Tadcaster were being made as late as the 1840s.

8. There are said to be life-sized portraits of Francis and Priscilla Rawdon still in Rawdon Hall but there is no public access. Francis Rawdon had a cousin Walter, who died before 1634 in Germany, whilst in the army of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden – evidence of staunch Protestantism.

9. She died in 1637 aged 34.

10. Sir George’s great-grandson was created Earl of Moira (1750) and Baron Rawdon (1762) (Irish peerages). His son Francis (1754-1826) became the 1st Marquis of Hastings and Earl of Rawdon. A close associate of the Prince Regent, after a distinguished military career he became Governor General of Bengal and C. in C. India (1812-23, two terms). He pursued a liberal and progressive policy but personally guaranteed a Calcutta banking house, Williams and Co. which failed. He was censured at home for this though, ultimately appointed Governor of Malta, a very minor job. He died in 1826 leaving debts of over £1,000,000 (say £8,000,000 today) and a public subscription was raised to assist his family. Rawdon, about 35 miles north of Montreal in Canada was named after him. The titles became extinct on the death without issue in 1868 of the 4th Marquis who had ruined himself on the Turf. ‘The Times’ wrote:

“A drunken gambler with a narrow careworn, devil driven face, he quickly dissipated his inherited wealth. He lost £140,000 on the 1866 Derby and was dead the following year. The bearer of a dozen peerages, the descendant of a family which dates from the Conqueror, the owner of a princely fortune, the possessor of everything that rank, family, wealth and marriage could bestow has died at the age of 26, ruined in health, in honour and in estate.”

He is said to have released hundreds of rats in a brothel! The last of his line, the holder of a marquisate, an earldom, a viscountcy, four baronies and a baronetcy but not a gentleman. The present Countess of Loudon (in her own right) descends from his sister Edith. Cudworth believed that Capt. Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier R.N. (1796-1847), a celebrated explorer, was related to the Rawdon family but this is not so. The Captain’s father was an attorney at Banbridge, Co. Down who acted for Lord Moira and named his son after his client. There is also a village of Moira near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire where a pub, formerly known as the Rawdon Arms, exists.

11. Since 1912 there has been an annual commemorative service at the Rock organised by Trinity Church.

12. The Layton graves have been uncovered recently during maintenance work in St Peter’s Church and are to be made permanently visible – not before time.