Kirk Ella Estate Papers (Property of Joseph Sykes)

Scope and Content

This collection consists almost entirely of the title deed documents of the Kirk Ella estate of Joseph Sykes (c.1723-1803) and his family.

The Kirk Ella estate papers include the marriage settlements of Robert Legard and Frances Johnson (1619), Elizabeth Brough and Randall Wollan (1656), William Legard and Mary Barcroft (1673), John Acam and Susannah Marshall (1702), Thomas Scott and Mary Richardson (1703), Thomas Onslow and Arabella Mainwaring (1776) and John Acam and Susannah Marshall (1777).

The Kirk Ella estate papers also include the wills of Christopher Acam (1674), John Acam (1717) and Eleanor Noble (1759). Titles deeds and related documents of the Legard family and of Sir Michael Warton are also to be found in some number. There are abstracts showing the descent of the manor at U DDKE/8/84, 161.

The other sections in the archive are as follows: Anlaby (1625-1790); Bridlington (1697) being the marriage settlement of Eleanor Russell and William Vickerman; Cleeton (1674-1714) surrenders and admissions in the manorial court; Cottingham (1776-1820) titles deeds and surrenders and admissions in the manorial courts; Foxholes, Boythorpe and Butterwick (1595-1807) including material relating to the Gee family, the marriage settlement of John Browne and Ellen Milner (1710) and the will of Henry Foord (1773); Hessle (1726-1794) including an abstract of the title of William Wilberforce, the will of Elizabeth Ringrose (1792) and a schedule of the lands of Thomas Ringrose; Hull (1685-1838) including papers of Martha Sykes, mother of Joseph Sykes; Ottringham (1694-1720) particularly 17th and 18th century papers of the Vickerman family; Risby and Routh (1679-1745) particularly papers of the Bradshaw and Mainwaring families; Scarborough (1683) being the marriage settlement of Gregory Husband and Elizabeth Russell; Sculcoates (1586-1806) including the marriage settlement of John Wood and Mary Boult (1685) but mostly an original bundle relating to the development circa 1800 of 'French's Garden' (land originally belonging to the Charterhouse) with purchasers' deeds for Sykes Street, Mason Street, Bourne Street and Princess Street; Sigglesthorne (1711) being the marriage settlement of Robert Gibson and Sarah Bratley; Swanland (1753-1791); Weel (1708); Willerby (1615-1800) including the marriage settlement of John Sumpner and Mary Wittie (1700) and the will of Lawrence Clarke (1662); 'various townships' (1690-1794).

Other sections are bonds (1651-1784) and 'various documents' (1690-1794) and miscellaneous documents in the archive include an abstract of the settlement on marriage of William Wilberforce and Barbara Spooner (1797) at U DDKE/17/4 and the pedigree of John Wood Boynton (1742). There is also the quietus of Joseph Sykes as sheriff of Hull 1754-5 and his 1769 appointment as deputy lieutenant of the East Riding.

The wills in the collection are those of Henry Barnard (1614); Henry Carvill (1675); William Vessey (1690); William Vickerman (1710); Anne Seaman (1721); John Jacobson (1735); William Burgh (1737); Dorothy Wiseman (1739); Francis Wollams (1752); Deborah Blaydes (1756) and the incomplete will of Joseph Sykes (1796).

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection gives evidence of the descent of the manor of West Ella and the estates of Kirk Ella from the seventeenth century to the ownership of Joseph Sykes in 1783. Until 1656 the manor and estate were owned by John Anlaby who then sold them to Richard Robinson (U DDKE/8/8, 13) for circa £700. It was inherited by his son Daniel Robinson, master mariner, and then released from the claim of Robert Bloome of London in 1681 (U DDKE/8/143, 161) and the dower of his mother in 1682 (U DDKE/8/161) to John Heslewood (U DDKE/8/24-27), by which time it was worth £100 more.

In 1688 it was granted to James Bradshaw (U DDKE/8/31) and around 1721 it was inherited by his son Ellerker Bradshaw. On his death in 1742 it passed by the tail male to Eaton Mainwaring, who assumed the name Ellerker (see U DDKE/8/49) and then in 1773 it was inherited by his son, Roger Mainwaring Ellerker (see U DDKE/8/47 and U DDKE/17/2). The entail was then severed and when he died in 1775 the manor and estates passed to his four sisters who sold to Joseph Sykes in 1783 for £5400 (U DDKE/8/61).

The Sykes family was originally from Sykes Dyke, Cumberland, until they settled in Leeds as clothier merchants. Daniel Sykes (1632-1697), a junior member of the family, set up trading in Hull in the early seventeenth century and his oldest surviving son, Richard Sykes (1678-1726), married Mary, heiress of Mark Kirkby, by which means he came into the core of what became the Sledmere estates in the next generation when his eldest son, also Richard Sykes (b. circa 1710-1761), built the house there. Richard Sykes senior married secondly Martha Donkin and their eldest son Joseph Sykes (b. circa 1723) was in partnership with Richard Sykes junior and together they ran the Sledmere estates, had a mansion in the High Street in Hull and held a monopoly in the Swedish white iron ore trade that supplied the Sheffield steel industry (Foster, Pedigrees; Sheahan, History of...Hull, pp. 400-1; Symons, 'High Street, Hull', pp.92-3).

Joseph Sykes began going his own way in the 1750s. The collection shows that he began buying land in Kirk Ella in 1755, having bought West Ella Hall in 1750 (U DDKE/8/112) and in 1757 he dissolved his partnership by paying £1100 to Richard Sykes (U DDKE/19/6). When Richard died in 1761 Sledmere passed to Mark Sykes (1711-1783), the second son of Daniel and Mary Sykes. Joseph Sykes concentrated on buying estates around Kirk Ella in order to have a home away from the smell of whale blubber and boiling sugar in the summer months. In 1769 he made major purchases in Hessle, Anlaby, Tranby, Kirk Ella and Melton (U DDKE/8/55). For his eldest son, Richard Sykes (1755-1832), he bought the advowson of Foxholes and Richard became rector there in 1783. He went into partnership with his younger son, John Sykes (1763-1813), and they had reciprocating shares with Wilberforce and Smiths. Joseph Sykes was married to Dorothy Twigge and they had six sons and one daughter in total. When he died in 1803 he was buried in Kirk Ella church and the monument is an arresting sculpture by John Bacon (Jackson, Hull in the eighteenth century, pp. 108-9, 264; Pevsner and Neave, York and the East Riding, pp. 585, 744; 'The Sykes monument', p. 45; Crosbie & Thackray, West Ella, p.17).

Joseph Sykes was an active member of local government. He was chamberlain in 1751, sheriff in 1754 and mayor of Hull in 1761 and 1777. His younger sons followed in his footsteps, John Sykes being sheriff and mayor in 1789 and 1792, Nicholas Sykes (c.1765-1827), being alderman and then mayor of Hull and Daniel Sykes (1766-1832), being recorder and MP for Hull. His grandson by his eldest son, another Richard Sykes, inherited the estates at West Ella and Kirk Ella and was responsible for building the unique estate village (all in the fashion of the first whitewashed cottage of 1753) and the school which was built in 1838.

Richard Sykes died unmarried in 1870 at the age of 87 years and the estate passed to his eight year old great great nephew, Charles Percy Sykes (b.1862), a descendant of one of the younger sons of Joesph and Dorothy Sykes. Charles Percy Sykes married Rose Gilliatt (d.1934) and they had four children before Charles Percy Sykes died young in 1899. The estate then passed to his eldest son, Claude Sykes (b.1887). He married Catherine Evelyn Alexander, but she died within weeks of their wedding in 1909. He remarried, to Lois Ward. The estate began running into difficulties in the 1920s and the family then sold it in 1930 (Foster, Pedigrees; Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, p. 745; Jackson, Hull in the eighteenth century, pp. 308-9; Crosbie & Thackray, West Ella, pp.8, 19, 22, 25-8).


U DDKE/1 Anlaby, 1625-1790

U DDKE/2 Bridlington, 1697

U DDKE/3 Cleeton, 1674-1714

U DDKE/4 Cottingham, 1776-1821

U DDKE/5 Foxholes, Boythorpe and Butterwick, 1594-1807

U DDKE/6 Hessle, 1726-1793

U DDKE/7 Hull, 1685-1838

U DDKE/8 Kirk Ella Estate (Kirk Ella, West Ella, Ferriby, Swanland, Willerby), 1619-1897

U DDKE/9 Ottringham, 1694-1720

U DDKE/10 Risby and Routh, 1679-1745

U DDKE/11 Scarborough, 1683

U DDKE/12 Sculcoates, 1586-1806

U DDKE/13 Sigglesthorne, 1711

U DDKE/14 Swanland, 1619-1791

U DDKE/15 Weel, 1708

U DDKE/16 Willerby, 1615-1800

U DDKE/17 Various townships, 1744-1797

U DDKE/18 Bonds, 1651-1784

U DDKE/19 Various deeds, 1690-1794

U DDKE/20 Wills, 1614-1796

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Landed family and estate archives subject guide

Custodial History

Deposited by JD Bladon, Kirk Ella, in 1974

Related Material

Papers of the Sykes family of Sledmere [U DDSY]

Letters of Joseph Sykes to John Young McVicar [U DDPR/50/32 ]


  • Crosbie, A & Thackray, C, West Ella: portrait of a village (1995)
  • Foster, J, Pedigrees of the county families of Yorkshire, 4 vols (1874-5)
  • Jackson, G, Hull in the eighteenth century (1972)
  • Pevsner, N & Neave, D, The buildings of England: York and the East Riding (1995)
  • Sheahan, J J, History of the town and port of Kingston-upon-Hull, (2nd ed., 1866)
  • Symons, John, High Street, Hull, some years since, and biographical sketches (1862)