Papers of the Fawsitt Family of Walkington (Including the Hornby and Ferguson Families)

Scope and Content

This collection largely comprises title deeds, marriage settlements and wills relating to the Walkington area to the west of Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The U DDFF deposit is as follows: Little Weighton (1615-1907); North Dalton (1683-1791); Paull and Thorngumbauld (1673-1720); Walkington (1622-1876); various townships (1685, 1860-1900); the wills of John Huntman (1632), Jane Fawsitt (1708), Mary Fawsitt (1753), John Fawsitt (1808) and maps and plans from the ordnance survey of 1910-11 showing the estates of Annie Gertrude Holt Chater-Fawsitt. U DDFF2 is a deposit of miscellaneous original bundles dated 1729 to 1934 and including further title deeds, marriage settlements and the wills of Mary Burton (1802); Mary Annette Holt nee Fawsitt (1851); Anne Elizabeth Ferguson-Fawsitt (2 copies, 1881); Joseph Holt (1895); Annie Gertrude Holt Chater-Fawsitt (1933). Other families represented in U DDFF and U DDFF2 are those of Carlill (Carlisle); Clarke; Coltish; Hudson; Sampson; Seaman; Thriske or Thirske; Vickers and Wilson. The collection also contains an interesting tax assessment on houses and servants of the Little Weighton constabulary between 1780 and 1783 at U DDFF/1/139-140 and plans of the Fawsitt estates in 1868.

Administrative / Biographical History

The earliest title deed for a member of the Fawsitt family in the collection indicates that a Richard Fawsitt owned land at Paull and Thorngumbauld in 1673. By the early eighteenth century the Fawsitt family was rich enough to expand considerably; John Fawsitt 'of Hull' was able to spend £2310 on the manor of Thorngumbald in 1720 as well as buy 200 acres at Hunsley from Richard Tate in 1723. The Fawsitt family established itself in the village of Hunsley (now depopulated) and family members are buried in the parish church (Rowley). John Fawsitt's nephew, Hugh, inherited from him just over 500 acres in Hunsley and when his son, also Hugh, died in 1752, the land was held by his widow, Mary (will at U DDFF/6/3 [1753]), and daughters, Anne, Elizabeth and Mary (Allison, History of the county of York East Riding, p.144).

Mary and her daughters began to extend eastward into Walkington and land at Little Weighton and North Dalton came via the Hudson family. Anne Fawsitt seems to have predeceased her sisters. Elizabeth married the Reverend Francis Best (marriage settlement at U DDEV/21/307) in 1759 and received her half share in her father's estate at that time. She died in 1771 and after her husband died in 1802 this land reverted to Mary, who had been married to Robert Burton. The three sisters seem to have been childless; after the death of Mary Burton (will at U DDFF[2]/32 dated 1802) the Fawsitt lands were inherited by John Hornby, described by Mary in her will as a 'relation'. The Hornbys had arrived from Lincolnshire in 1752 to take up a seven year lease on land in Hunsley from Mary Fawsitt and her daughters (U DDFF/1/95). By the terms of Mary Burton's will, John Hornby assumed the name Fawsitt by royal licence and the family were required to retain it 'forever' (Allison, History of the county of York East Riding, p.144; Lythe, Two families at Walkington, pp.26-7; the small amount of correspondence in the collection is of John Hornby [Fawsitt] at U DDFF/1/92).

John Hornby (Fawsitt), who died in 1812, had three sons, John, James and Robert Fawsitt, all of whom held the Hunsley and Walkington inheritance for a while. John Fawsitt and his brother James died within a year of each other around 1831, though Robert lived a while longer and certainly held the land after their deaths in 1832. The two younger brothers left no heirs, but John Fawsitt left two daughters, Annie Elizabeth (b.1823) and Mary Annette (b.1825). Though these two women lived in Beverley they certainly owned the Fawsitt land by 1851 and as James Fawsitt had spent £4700 on nine more closes at Walkington, bought from George and Hannah Sampson in 1829, their inheritance was considerable (Allison, History of the county of York East Riding, p.144; Lythe, Two families at Walkington, p.27; U DDFF/4/66).

Annie Elizabeth Fawsitt married John Daniel Ferguson (b.1816) in 1866 and they set themselves up at Walkington Hall which had been built by John Lockwood, a Beverley solicitor, in 1802. John Daniel Ferguson had been known as 'Gravel Jack' before his marriage because as a steward of the Constables of Burton Constable he had been responsible for the sale of gravel from the foreshore of the Humber (a right the Constables held as seigneurs of Holderness; see U DCC). He was not a stranger to Walkington, being one of the 13 children of Daniel Ferguson (and his wife Margaret nee Booth), rector of Walkington. His youngest brother, Douglas (b.1823), had taken over from his father as rector in 1860, inheriting at the same time a wealthy church glebe. Annie Elizabeth and John Daniel Ferguson-Fawsitt had holdings of 1440 acres so that between the two brothers most of Walkington village was accounted for. In 1876 the Ferguson-Fawsitts expanded further, spending £2235 on land from the Vickers family. The Ferguson-Fawsitts built a family vault in Douglas Ferguson's church, so severing finally the Fawsitt parish connection with Rowley church (U DDFF/4/28; Lythe, Two families at Walkington, chpt.1; Pevsner & Neave, The buildings of England: York and the East Riding, p.729).

Annie Elizabeth and John Daniel Ferguson-Fawsitt married when middle-aged and had no children. Annie Elizabeth died in 1882 leaving the two brothers to live out the rest of their days as squire and rector. Douglas Ferguson was rather indolent with questionable morals for a cleric; he never rang the church bells on Sunday and had a longstanding affair with a woman in the village. He had a very small congregation and most of the village chose to attend the methodist chapel established by James Fawsitt in the 1820s. John Daniel Ferguson-Fawsitt was looked after by the Ashton family, his servants and retainers, who held regular parties after putting their octagenerian master to bed. When he died at the age of 91 in 1908 he left no direct heir (Lythe, Two families at Walkington, pp.16, 38-9).

However, Annie Elizabeth's sister, Mary Annette, had married a rich Leeds businessman, Joseph Holt, in 1851 and they had had one child, Annie Gertrude Holt (b.1853), before Mary Annette died prematurely in 1854. Joseph Holt remarried and Annie Gertrude became the heiress of her uncle's property. Like her aunt before her, she waited a long time to marry finally doing so in 1895. Her husband, Henry Gibbon Chater, did as her uncle had before him and took the name Fawsitt. The Chater-Fawsitts moved into Walkington Hall in 1908 and dismissed the Ashton family almost immediately. With a new incumbent rector they proceeded to lead a life of 'fastidious gentility'. Henry Gibbon Chater-Fawsitt had a colonial background and his wife involved herself in charity work for African missions. The annual highlight in the village was Empire Day when the schoolchildren sat in the grounds of the Hall and sang 'Children of a mighty empire', a song composed by the rector's wife. This tranquil life was shattered by the first world war and by the 1930s the Chater-Fawsitts were trying to sell Walkington Hall. They succeeded in 1933 (it went to E Stephenson) and they died within two months of one another in 1936 (Lythe, Two families at Walkington, chpt. 3; Allison, History of the county of York East Riding, p.145).

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 Messrs. Crust Todd and Mills in 1956 and 1984. Donated via Donald Carrick, on the authority of Sandersons Solicitors (successor to Crust, Todd and Mills), June 1999.

Related Material

From the Papers of Crust Todd and Mills Solicitors [U DDCV/86, U DDCV(2)/59/15]

From the Papers of the Constable Maxwell Family [U DDEV/21/306-307]

From the Papers of the Barnards Family of South Cave [U DDBA(2)/18/7]

From the Papers of the Burton Family [U DDCB/31/43]


  • Elrington, C (ed.), The Victoria history of the counties of England: a history of the county of York East Riding, iv (1979)
  • Lythe, S G E, Two families at Walkington (1808-1933), (1992)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus & Neave, David, The buildings of England: York and the East Riding (1995)