Cumpston Research

The best products at the best prices!

Watson Cumpston death cert Trinity House Hull lloyds ship Voilier withernsea pier

Gamekeepers in the Yorkshire Dales

The appointment of gamekeepers was recorded in Gamekeepers' Deputations.

Under the Act for the Better Preservation of Game, 1707, and subsequent Acts, one gamekeeper could be appointed per manor, and every deputation had to be registered with the Clerk of the Peace. The charges arising from this were a Stamp Duty of £2.2s per year, plus the annual cost of the gamekeeper's licence, which was 10s 6d.


The gamekeepers on this page belong to members of the Upper Dales Family History Group and some of them are related to people recorded in the book 'Those Who Left the Dales'


You can learn more about gamekeepers here:


There are about 3000 full time gamekeepers in the UK and a similar number who do the job part time.


Game keeping is a very old profession. The first gamekeepers in Britain would have been the men who protected the deer from poachers in the medieval Royal hunting forests.


Today, gamekeepers are still concerned about poachers but their main work is to help pheasants, partridges, hares and grouse to thrive in the countryside.


Gamekeepers Deputations


A very small proportion of gamekeepers who worked in England between 1710 and 1900 are listed as manorial gamekeepers on Gamekeepers Deputations which were kept by the Clerk of the Peace for a county. Some of these deputations still survive and are lodged with Quarter Sessions Records at the relevant County Records Office.


A gamekeeper (often abbreviated to keeper) is a person who manages an area of countryside to make sure there is enough game for shooting, or fish for angling, and who actively manages areas of woodland, moorland, waterway or farmland for the benefit of game birds, deer, fish and wildlife in general.


Typically, a gamekeeper is employed by a landowner, and often in the UK by a country estate, to prevent poaching, to rear and release game birds such as pheasants and partridge, encourage and manage wild red grouse, and to control predators such as foxes, to manage habitats to suit game, and to monitor the health of the game.


You can read more about gamekeepers here and here

1.  From Blair Southerden:


Anthony Kearton baptised at Muker 9 February 1713, buried 8 September 1768


Father: George Kearton/Kirton (b c 1639, buried Muker 14 July 1764)

Mother: Second wife of George, Mary surname not known. Married 25

February 1711.


Spouse1 Jennett Spooner, dau of John Spooner of Greenside, Ravensdale

Church, Westmorland on 1 November 1737

Spouse 2 Elizabeth nee Kearton on 13 February 1749


Gamekeeper to Thomas Smith - Lord of the manor (of Gunnerside?)


2.  From Marion Hearfield.


James SPENCELEY of Feetham Holme, Chr Grinton 30 June 1799

Father: James [of Whitaside - emigrated to Dubuque mid-1840s] Mother: Rosamond MASON [of Camshouse; died 1824] Married 1) Mary FALSHAW 1829 at Coverham (died 1830 aged 21); daughter Margaret

2) Elizabeth GRAHAM of Askrigg (died 1836 aged 40); dau Rosamond

3) Jane METCALFE b 1806 Ivelet Heads; surviving children were William, Ann (my great-grandmother), George (butler to the rich and famous, later a horse breeder, and father of a Mayor of Harrogate)


James was employed by Sir William CHAYTOR to work his estates in Wensleydale (the CHAYTORs owned East Scrafton Moor and at one time lived at Scrafton Lodge though Sir Wm was later based in Co Durham). James and his wives lived at Widdimans, East Scrafton (1841, 51, 61 censuses). Widdymans House appears on the 1856 OS map, which shows the house right up on the top of the moor near grouse butts along Great Roova Crags. It must have been very bleak. Denny Gibson remembers walking her dog up there many years ago – the house had a chimney then but no roof, with two downstairs rooms (12'x12' and 7'x7') and one up, no staircase so probably accessed by a ladder. Water must have come from a nearby spring, or Vollens Well 600' away. James and his wife Jane brought up five children there. Tony Keates recently walked up and found the site of Widdymans above Caldbergh. He photographed the remaining few stones, including a fallen stone with (what looks like) an embedded iron gate-hinge.


James regularly appeared at Leyburn Petty Sessions, prosecuting poachers and in 1846 John FALSHAW was imprisoned for nine months at York Assizes for wounding James. In his old age James moved briefly to live near his miner brother Thomas in Dodsworth (Barnsley) and worked in the mines before moving (with Jane) to live with their daughter Ann and her husband Isaac WINTER at Calva House, Stainmore, where he died in 1875.


Son William Mason SPENCELEY (who became a policeman) at age 18 was gamekeeper to Capt Dewsberry and made the Ripon and Richmond Chronicle in 1861 for killing 454 head of vermin within three years!


There are stories of James' emigrating relatives in 'Those Who Left the Dales'.

3.  From Carol Herbert


Matthew Cherry b. 1833 in Low Row d. 1906 aged 72 yrs. at Shoregill Head


Parents John Cherry b 1801 in Melbecks Parish [Lead Miner] & Elizabeth [Betty] Heslop b. 1804 in Melbecks Parish


Spouse Ruth Demain b. 1804 in Melbecks Parish


Working at  Gunnerside Lodge Estate - gamekeeper's home parish - Muker Parish


See an article on Matt Cherry by W R Mitchell in the chapter Dalesfolk I Remember The Yorkshire Dalesman - June 2011.