What is a wapentake?
The following information is taken principally from Basic Facts about
Family History in Yorkshire, by Pauline M. Litton, and recommended as an absolute must-have to anyone
researching Yorkshire Ancestry. It is published by the Federation of
Family History Societies, price £1.70 UK, £2.00 O/s surface, £2.60 O/S
air, from the FFHS Publications Dept, 2-4 Killer Street, Ramsbottom,
Bury, Lancs BL0 9BZ.
Besides being divided into three Ridings, East, North and West (a
Riding being derived from the Norse word "thriding," meaning a third
part) Yorkshire was further sub-divided into administrative areas
called Wapentakes - the Danelaw equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon Hundred
in most other counties. The word derived from an assembly or meeting
place, usually at a cross-roads or near a river, where literally one's
presence or a vote was taken by a show of weapons. Maps of the Ridings
showing Wapentakes are in Protestation Returns 1641-42 by J.S.W.
Gibson and Alan Dell, published by the Federation of Family History
Societies 1995. You will need to know which Wapentake a place was in
if you wish to search such records as the Hearth Tax and Land Tax or
Militia and Muster Rolls. Here is the full list of former Wapentakes
with the principal places in each.....
EAST RIDING - Buckrose (Settrington, Sledmere); Dickering (Filey,
Bridlington); Harthill(Beverley, North & South Cave, driffield, Market
Weighton, Pocklington); Holderness (Hornsea, Holderness Peninsula);
Howdenshire (Howden); Ouse & Derwent (Escrick).
NORTH RIDING - Allertonshire (Northallerton); Birdforth (Thirsk);
Bulmer (Crambe, Easingwold, Huttons Ambo); Gilling East (Danby Wiske;
Middleton Tyas); Gilling West (Richmond, Swaledale); Hallikeld
(Leeming, East & West Tanfield); Hang East (Catterick, Masham); Hang
West (Wensleydale); Langbaurgh East (Middlesbrough; Guisborough;
Lythe); Langbaurgh West (Stokesley; Yarm); Pickering Lythe (Pickering;
Scarborough); Ryedale (Helmsley, Malton); Whitby Strand (Whitby).
WEST RIDING - Agbrigg & Morley (Bradford, Dewsbury, Halifax,
Huddersfield, Leeds suburbs, Wakefield); Barkston Ash (Selby,
Tadcaster); Claro (Ripon, Knaresborough); Ewcross (Dent, Ingleton,
Sedbergh); Osgoldcross (Pontefract, Goole, Snaith); Skyrack (Leeds);
Staincliffe (Keighley, Settle, Skipton, Stainburn); Staincross
(Barnsley); Strafforth and Tickhill (Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield).
* NOTE: York and Hull were not part of any Wapentake, or officially of
any Riding, being regarded as separate authorities - the Town and
County of Kingston upon Hull and the City and County of York - though
many directories generally include them with the East Riding. An area
known as the Ainsty, a district to the west of York, was until the
15th century a Wapentake of the West Riding but since then has come
under the jurisdiction of the City of York.
The much reviled and nonsensical 1974 local government reorganisation
made a real dog's breakfast of the historic county of Yorkshire, which
another recent reshuffle has only partially corrected. Here was how
the "modern" county administration lined up post-1974.....
CLEVELAND - part of the old North Riding centred on Middlesbrough.
HUMBERSIDE - much of the East Riding and parts of the old West Riding
(Goole-Snaith area), centred on Beverley. This later became North
Humberside but in 1996 the Mickey Mouse county of Humberside was
thankfully despatched into some bureaucrat's filing cabinet, hopefully
never to be heard of again, and the area reverted to being called the
East Riding of Yorkshire.
NORTH YORKSHIRE - much of the North Riding (most of The Dales area,
Malton, Pickering, Scarborough, Whitby etc), the northern parts of the
old West Riding (Ripon, Skipton, Settle etc), and the most northerly
parishes of the East Riding centred on Northallerton.
SOUTH YORKSHIRE - the southern part of the old West Riding, with 4
Metropolitan City or Borough Councils (Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham
and Sheffield). (Note - there NEVER was a South Riding).
WEST YORKSHIRE - the rest of the old West Riding, with 5 Metropolitan
City or Borough Councils (Bradford, Calderdale [Halifax], Kirklees
[Huddersfield], Leeds and Wakefield).
Certain border areas were transferred from Yorkshire altogether.....
Dent/Sedbergh area to Cumbria.
Barnoldswick/Slaidburn area to Lancashire
Saddleworth area to Greater Manchester
Bowes/Ronaldkirk area to Durham
Return to Top
Sites of Interest