Yorkshire CD books

Old and rare Yorkshire books on CDrom or as pdf file downloads

The History of Richmondshire (or The History of Yorkshire, vol 1).
by Marshall General Plantagenet Harrison, H.K.G.

CD ROM and download version
produced by Yorkshire CD books ©

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For sample pages, please see the links to the Acrobat (pdf) files given below.

The data on this CD rom/ downloadable pdf is computer searchable.

Containing many pedigrees for families the Richmondshire area.

This massive book was published in 1876 and weighs 14 pounds. It contains some 600 pages, including over 150 large pedigrees, along with lots of names for the various parishes, etc. etc. As this book is titled "The History of Yorkshire volume 1, the editor apparently envisaged covering more of Yorkshire than this one volume (the only one issued). A read of the preface (see the link to the Acrobat file below) shows that faced many people problems in writing this volume! There is no contents list for this book and so a copy of the "Bookmarks" used for navigation of the CDrom is given below.

Further books on our CDroms about Richmondshire are Edmund Bogg's Richmondshire (2 volumes) and Harry Speight's Romantic Richmondshire (along with 2 other books).

In order to give you a better idea of the information in the book the following items are available on line:

A review of the book (and the author) by Nancy McLaughlin

An imposing manner, - somewhat eccentric, - arrogant but kindly - all these were reasonably acceptable terms used by his contemporaries to describe Marshal General Plantagenet Harrison, the author of “The History of Yorkshire”. But the words used by others to describe this man's fantastic claims were rather less flattering. I find it difficult to accept that the man who researched - many critics might say “concocted” - his own immense and fabulous pedigree, - and who claimed to be the legitimate Duke of Lancaster - is that very same person who dedicated over twenty-five years to the careful extraction and translation of thousands of ancient documents held in what was then the Public Record Office.

George Henry Harrison was born in 1817 in Whashton in the North Riding parish of Kirby Ravensworth. By the 1850s he had evidently concluded a most successful and adventurous army career, and had returned to England to devote himself to the study of genealogy. It was in 1858 that he petitioned the Lords, as George Henry de Strabolgie Plantagenet Harrison, and “prayed to be summonsed to Parliament as Duke of Lancaster”. Eight years previously under the name of the Duke of Lancaster, he had applied for, and been refused, a Reader's Ticket for the British Museum Library. The authorities, although willing to admit him as plain Mr Harrison, would not recognise his claim to the Duchy of Lancaster which they regarded as fraudulent. It was this decision that caused Plantagent Harrison to transfer his genealogical interests to the Public Record Office, where he felt there was extraction work to be done on the ancient Rolls, of much greater value than anything he might have been able to accomplish at the Museum. No doubt the Museum's refusal to admit him on his terms had some bearing on a sweeping statement he later made in the Preface to his “History of Yorkshire” that he “repudiated the genealogical Mss in the British Museum and all the Heralds' Visitations as worthless, being either fictitious inventions, or the erroneous result of tradition”.

“The History of Yorkshire”, Volume 1 - the Wapentake of Gilling West, is based on many Record Office charters, rolls, fines, feoffments, inquisitions post mortem, deeds, books of the Exchequer etc, from which Plantagenet Harrison had laboriously extracted information over many years. His original plan had been to publish his “History of Yorkshire” in six volumes, but this huge book, Volume 1, was the only one to appear. The author complained about “the hostile attitude of the clergy and modern landowners who would not render me assistance.....”, and he also believed that every obstacle had been placed in his way with a view to prevent his compiling this work.

The resulting pedigrees in this volume have often been described by historians as untrustworthy - a fact of which we should all be aware. Personally, I have found that the information concerning the family of Beckwith of Clint (near Hampsthwaite, and in a different Wapentake) has been mistakenly attributed to Clints in the parish of Marske - two quite separate places. How did this error come about? Was it caused by faulty transcription? Or, perhaps, as a result of the author's arrogance in being unwilling to consult other source material? The same historians however, who severely criticised Plantagenet Harrison's pedigrees, willingly acknowledged his continuous and painstaking work in the Record Office, Harry Speight, in particular, describing the extracts made as “an invaluable reference in questions of manorial-title, and such subjects as concern the legal transmission of land.”

I include the following two very brief items, as examples of the type of information that accompanies the pedigrees. Both these extracts relate to the parish of Marske.

Hil., 6 Eliz. [1563/4] - Arthur Phillippe and Johanna his wife, daughter and heir of William Conyers, Esq., of Merske, levied a fine on the manor of Marske and lands in Marske, Clints, Bolron, Aldburgh, Hawkswell, Richmond, Hudswell and Staynsbye, to the said Arthur, his heirs and assigns.

34 Eliz. [1591/2] - Arthur Phillipp of Marske, co. York Esq., Francis Phillip, gentleman, heir of said Arthur, Henry Phillip, gentleman, eldest son of John Phillipp of Brignall, co. York, Esq., and Thomas Barnes of Brignall, co. York, yeoman, were bound in the sum of £800 to Roger Beckwith of Scruton, co. York, gentleman, to keep and observe the covenants etc., contained in a certain indenture dated 5 May last. Bond dated 8 March, 34 Eliz. [1591/2]

If your genealogical interests are in areas of Yorkshire other than that of the Wapentake of Gilling West covered by this volume, then it may well be that Plantagenet Harrison's copious “Notes” - the results of his many years' work - could be of immense value. Said to total 30 volumes, all hand-written and with indexes, these are now to be found in the National Archives, PRO 66/3. [See Medieval & Early Modern Sources for Family History, a National Archives Research Guide]

But the lucky ones - those of us whose Yorkshire ancestry lies in the Wapentake of Gilling West, and its various manors and villages - can read in “The History of Yorkshire”, these carefully transcribed, translated records encompassing many centuries, relating to this particular region. A book to return to - time and time again. An amazing compilation produced by an equally amazing man.

Nancy McLaughlin
Christchurch, New Zealand.
January, 2008.


As mentioned above, there is no contents list for the book and so the list of the Bookmarks used on the CDrom is given here:

*The above Acrobat file was extracted from the CDrom and shows the quality of the images. You will need at least version 6 of Acrobat to open this file. If you do not have an up to date version please go to the Adobe web-site to obtain a free version of Acrobat Reader.

If you would prefer the real book(s), please contact The Idle Booksellers through their website.

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