Shipley - Early History


Shipley - Early History
Shipley - 16-18th century
Shipley - early 19th century
Shipley - later 19th century
Shipley - 20th century
Shipley Map
Research Sources
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Part of Airedale from Saxton's Map of Yorkshire 1577 

 [click picture for enlargement]

The first known historical reference to Shipley is the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is identified as the manor of Scipeleia. The survey records that prior to the Norman invasion, the manor had 3 carucates of taxable land, along with woodland pasture of one and a half leagues long. The entry refers to the manor as being in a state of 'waste'. Recent ideas on the subject of the Domesday 'waste' suggests that this may not mean the traditionally accepted idea of devastation as a result of the 'Harrying of the North', but may simply mean that the land had been abandoned, due to a general economic decline or a reduction in the local population through pestilence.  

Little is known of Shipley during the following two hundred years, but by 1316 the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem held the manor. At some point in the fifteenth century the manor came into the possession of the Gascoigne family. Later, it came into the possession of the Rawson family of Bradford who held it until the middle of the eighteenth century.

When the first parishes were created in England, during the period known as the Dark Ages, the population of this region was scattered very thinly across the poor and impoverished land that constitutes the central and southern Pennines. As it was a requirement for parishes to be self-financing, many of the West Riding parishes were extremely large, in order to encompass sufficient people to generate the finances needed to support a church and a priest. Initially, Shipley came under the parish of Dewsbury, but at some point in its early history this huge parish was sub-divided, and the township of Shipley became part of the parish of Bradford, and remained so until 1826 when the town became a parish in its own right.    

Before the enclosure of the common land, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the township of Shipley consisted of: farmland - mainly in the north and eastern parts of the township; two large woods - Hirst Wood and Northcliffe Wood and two large areas of waste - the Shipley Low Moor and the Shipley High Moor. The small, nucleated settlement was located at the eastern end of the township, close to the junction of the Bradford Beck and the River Aire; and within an area containing several natural springs of fresh water - a facility that continued to be used by the residents until the mid-nineteenth century.