Scholes Family Website



The Scholes Villages of Yorkshire

The historic county of Yorkshire was formerly divided into three ‘ridings’, a term that comes from the Viking thriding meaning a third part. Places called Scholes almost all lie in the West Riding.

In 1974, as part of a reorganisation of counties for administrative purposes, Yorkshire was divided into four new counties (West, South and North Yorkshire, and Humberside, the latter including part of Lincolnshire); the historic West Riding was split between West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. The structure was changed yet again in 1996 as part of a Local Government Boundary Reorganisation: West and South Yorkshire were divided into seven Unitary Authorities.

Some places probably originated as Viking settlements, but in those parts of the West Riding where Scandinavian influence is only slight the names may indicate nothing more than a Norwegian element in the local vocabulary. 

There are a number of ancient townships, villages, hamlets and localities called Scholes in the former West Riding; the name also occurs in farm and field names, and in street names.  Spelling variations in The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire (Smith 1961-63) include Scoles (the most common), Skoles, Scoales, Scolis, Scolys, Scooles, Scolles, Scoolles and Skolds; the earliest listed (for Scholes near Rotherham) is Scal (1160-80). (Le) Scales may also have been a variant although this name occurs elsewhere, in Lancashire, Cumbria and Norfolk (Smith 1962).

The four Scholes Villages are all in the former West Riding and lie within a radius of about 12 miles. The Scholes Family Website has an excellent collection of present-day photographs by Peter J. Scholes.

Scholes near Leeds 

The village forms part of the parish of Barwick-in-Elmet. It lies on the eastern outskirts of Leeds. The map in Figure 1 (and in subsequent figures) is taken from the Landmark series of Free Historic Maps dating from the 1850-60s.

In the booklet, Ancient Parish of Barwick-in-Elmet, the anonymous author observes that:

There was, at one time, beyond all existing records, a manor house at Scholes, built no doubt by a Saxon lord, but until early in the 19th century, the village merely consisted of a few houses scattered along the southern edge of Whinmoor. However, with the enclosure of the commons and the impetus given to agriculture by the draining of Whinmoor, development ensued. 

Much useful information about Scholes has been published by the Barwick Historical Society in their journal, The Barwicker. Nothing is known of Scholes in Saxon times but there is no doubt that it was part of the manor of Ledston, Kippax and Barwick which was granted to Ilbert de Lascy as part of the Honour (or Lordship) of Pontefract. A manor was the feudal estate of a lord and formed a self-contained economic unit. Barwick and Scholes eventually became separate manors and in the early reign of Henry III, the lordship of the manor of Scholes passed to Roger de Quincy, Earl of Westminster. In 1253-4, the manor reverted to the de Lascy family; and in 1294 the de Lascy lands became part of the vast estates of the earls of Lancaster, which extended over many parts of the country.


Fig1: The Village of Scholes, part of Barwick-in-Elmet

The manor of Scholes would have been only of minor importance to these noble families but it is useful to know something of the manor as an insight into the lives of our ancestors in medieval times.

According to Saylor’s The Medieval Foundations of England:

A normal manor had two main components. First, the lord of the manor’s demesne. This was the home farm, often small in content, and usually but not always comprising strips of land scattered here and there within the manor. Its cultivation was the first and foremost duty of the manorial tenants and all other activities on the estate were subordinate to it. The manor house was the centre of administration served by a competent staff under a steward and bailiff who worked in cooperation with the reeve as the representative of the tenants. The manorial court made the agricultural arrangements and saw them carried out.

The second component of the manor was the peasant’s dependent land holdings. The manor therefore was practical means of managing an estate through compulsory labour services. Its fundamental value was as an agricultural unit,… the main purpose of its inhabitants was to cultivate the soil so that they could live by its produce. It was very largely self-sufficing and self-consuming.

The manorial accounts of 1295 and 1303/4 in the reign of Edward I are reproduced in The Barwicker No. 49 and show that there were manorial tenants (or villeins) in Scholes. The tenancies, usually a house and about 10-25 acres of arable land, would have included ‘labour service’ to help in the cultivation of the lord’s demesne lands. This land probably lay to the north of what is now Main Street and would be arranged in an open field system.  According to a survey made in 1628, it seems likely that the manor house was at the corner of Leeds Road and Main Street:

…a quadrangle mo(a)ted round about; and in that quadrangle stood the house. The Motes are now dried upp bearing grass which is usallie mowed everie year....

A survey in 1341 of manors in the Honour of Pontefract, transcribed by the Borthwick Institute in York and reproduced by Arthur Bantoft (The Barwicker No. 59) provides a fascinating account of medieval Scholes. At that time the manor was becoming independent of the larger Barwick manor with a number of tenants holding arable land including some Scholes. These tenancies could best be described as smallholdings; that is, a house and sufficient arable land along with rough grazing to allow a family to grow crops and raise livestock to feed itself and pay the rent.

The survey records that one of the free tenants rendered annually “one pound of pepper at Whitsun and foreign service of 12 pence appears on his charter”; another is said to “claim liberty and licence to gather dried sticks and branches blown down in the wood of Scholes”. The total rent paid by the bondsmen amounted to about £10. All the “common of Scholes” had a right to draw water from a spring in the lord’s meadow at an annual fee of 3 pence each.

There were 10 households in Scholes manor in 1341, and the population would probably be about 80. Despite the bubonic plague that struck the England some years later and decimated the population, the next survey in 1425 shows 27 dwellings in the manor suggesting that Scholes and Barwick escaped the worst effects.

The village of Scholes developed rapidly in the 20th century and is now virtually a suburb of Leeds. Progress is illustrated in Figures 2 which show the Coronation Tree, the first was taken shortly after the tree had been planted to celebrate the Coronation of Edward VII in the first decade of the last century.  It provides a marked contrast with the second photograph taken in 1969.

A mission church, built in 1875, was replaced by a modern structure built on Main Street in 1966, approached from the road by a raised causeway. Scholes Church seats 220 people; the east and west walls are described as “of massive construction, faced inside and out with a handsome York brick”. See figure 3.

There is also a Methodist chapel in Scholes, built in 1879 with a schoolroom added in 1905 through the generosity of the Crossland family of Scholes Lodge farm.


Fig2: The Coronation Tree at Scholes planted in 1911, and as it was in 1969



Fig3: The Scholes Church built in 1966


 Scholes near Holmfirth

The village and the small locality of Scholes Moor (on Scholes Moor Road) are situated 6 miles south of Huddersfield and are separated by the district of Paris (Figure 4). Typical of this part of the West Riding these places are among a group of villages or hamlets usually situated above the valleys, each one perhaps only a few hundred yards away from the next. In the Middle Ages places such as these would probably be no more than groups of dwellings with a track to the next group, but in modern times have merged into one another. Scholes and Scholes Moor were originally split between the ancient townships of Cartworth, Wooldale and Hepworth, but are now part of the town of Holmfirth in the parish of Kirkburton.

The valley of the river Holme is an area of Viking settlement where the invaders left a rich legacy of their language in place names and landscape features (Watson 1994). The Danes do not appear to have left many traces of their invasion from 867 AD onwards but the Norse, who first straggled into this area in 930-940 AD, left a considerable influence on dialect language. They were of mixed race by the time they reached these parts, being the descendants of Norwegians who had fled tyranny in their own country. They were sheep farmers and the higher moorlands would have met all their requirements for permanent settlement, for during the 10th and 11th centuries their numbers greatly increased (Williams 1975). Scholes was one of their settlements, the name coming from skali, as already mentioned, also Wooldale from ‘Ulf’s dale’.

Prior to the Norman conquest of England, there was a mixed community of Anglo-British, Danes and Norsemen settled in a more or less peaceful existence in the Holme valley. The Normans gained power after three years of rebellion; untold numbers perished by the sword and by the famine that followed the pillage and large areas were completely devastated.

Later the Normans found the countryside ideal for establishing hunting forests; they brought organisation to community farming methods and, under the manorial and parish systems, woodland clearances were extended down into the valleys and water harnessed in the service of the community. Developments in medieval times can be traced from the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield  of the 13/14th which contain several references to land and place names called Scoles, le Scholes and le Skoles, and to manorial tenants.

By the 13th century agriculture was being supplemented by a cottage weaving industry with the weavers establishing water-driven weaving mills alongside the corn mills. Conditions in the early 18th century were recorded in the diary of Arthur Jessop, a local apothecary, which is featured in Eileen William’s book, Holmfirth from Forest to Township. Jessop’s travels on horseback visiting his widespread patients gives a vivid picture of the difficulties encountered by the lack of roads and the effects of the weather on the tracks used to cross the countryside:

I went to Scholes, but could not get up Sykes Lane for the snow drifts; a great drift of snow by Joshua Woodhead’s between here and Scholes. The mare was fast in it several times. I left the mare at the workhouse, and went back through J Woodhead’s close, so missed the snowdrifts between here and Scholes.


Fig4: Scholes near Holmfirth

Industrial expansion later transformed what had been a sylvan landscape by introducing coal-fired mills with chimneys belching smoke into hillsides crammed with terraced cottages. But the area is now undergoing regeneration clearing away the remains of the industrial past with new forms of employment with tourism high on the list. This has been helped enormously by the long-running TV series, The Last of the Summer Wine, which is set in Holmfirth with many filming locations on the moors and in the hillside villages of the area, including the village of Scholes. John Watson has described the impact of the TV series on the area in the booklet, The Summer Wine Country

Scholes became distinguished because the houses were constructed entirely of millstone grit in contrast to other villages that contained many sandstone structures. It lies in an elevated position with glorious views to the east. Watson draws attention the early 19th century coaching inn, The Boot and Shoe Inn, where patrons no doubt remind visitors that Scholes is the birthplace of the late Roy Castle, the popular entertainer and devotee of the area’s brass band tradition.

Scholes in Rotherham

The locality lies in the township of Kimberworth, 3 miles north-west of Rotherham (Figure 5). It has the distinction of being the earliest listed place called Scholes, as mentioned earlier.

Fig5: Scholes in Rotherham

In 1295, William de Folkingham, abbot of Beauchief in Sheffield, gained possession of all the land that Richard de Schales held in Thorpe (Hesley) and Schales in the manor of Kimberworth. Joseph Hunter (1828) writes:

Schales is now Scoles, a hamlet consisting of a few houses, but rendered remarkable by the erection near it of a lofty column by the second Marquis of Rockingham, which was named Keppel’s Pillar out of regard for the admiral of that name.

The hamlet is mentioned in the will of Nicholas Skeres, merchant tailor of London, dated 9 September 1566, and abstracted in Yorkshire Wills: “My executors to sell my messuage called Roderham, co.York, to pay debts.”

Scholes in Cleckheaton

Scholes (which was formerly Scales), along with Oakenshaw, historically, was a hamlet within the township of Cleckheaton, in the ancient parish of Birstall. The following notes about the village are based on information contributed supplied by Cathy Chapman of Bradford.

The history of the village is the subject of a monograph, From Scales to Scholes, by the David Wilding, formerly Vicar of Scholes. He also published a booklet of old postcards, Scales to Scholes Revisited. Some of hese old photographs are reproduced in Figures 6-9.

There is no mention of Scales in the Domesday record of 1086 and it may be assumed that the area was wasteland. The first definite mention of Scales was in 1228 when the Archbishop of York gave authority for grant from the tithes of the parish of Birstall to Henry de Horbury:

  ….confirmation of the grant of corn-tithes of Hulm, Ricrof, Sculbroc,Scales and Poplewell, made by Richard, parson of Birstall, to Henry, clerk, until he gets some othe benefice.


Fig6: Villagers gather around the Coronation Bonfire in Scholes. More than 50 miners were engaged in building the fire and it stood about 30 feet high. It was lit by Mrs Ethel Sharp at 9pm on 22nd June, 1911


Fig7: Four Lane Ends in Scholes c1908. The girl holds a wooden hoop which she would roll along with a stick, while the boys had iron hoops made by the village blacksmith

Fig8: The roasting of the ox commenced on the night before the Coronation Day. The village's four butchers were responsible for the task. 

Although Cleckheaton had only one manorial lord, it was accounted for in 1254 as two manors; Heton which consisted of Cleckheaton proper and Akenscale which comprised Oakenshaw and Scholes, ‘Aken’ bein the equivalent of ‘Oaken’ and ‘Scale’ the equivalent of ‘Schole’. In 1319 there were “within Scholes....fourteen families making a population of about seventy”. There was no manor house in ‘Akenscale’ but there were “…ten bondsmen, who hold ten bovates (1 bovate = 12 acres) of land and they yield yearly £3. 6s. 8d. They do works and customs worth by the year 8s 4d. ……..”


  Fig9: Inauguration of the Scholes to Cleckheaton Bus Service. The first trip on 18 November 1913 carried the members of the District Council led by Cllr. Tom Haley in bow tie and bowler hat

Whatever dwellings there were at Scholes in the 13/14th centuries they would be one-story cottages which had timber frames filled with less substantial material. Almost every cottage would have its sheds for cattle and fowls, piles of wood, a vegetable garden and a small amount of grazing close by.

The manors were in the hands of the Neville family until 1433 when the land passed to the Langtons and then to the Danby family. In 1633, Ralph Ashton, a member of a well-known Lancashire family, bought the manor.

Industry came to the locality in the 18th century with the introduction of machines to assist in card making. The old hand cards were tools used for carding or combing cotton or linen, the fibres of which required finer teeth than were necessary with wool. These cards were made using with iron wire staples, a laborious process involving mainly women and children on a piece work basis. The importance of card making in Scholes is shown by the 1841 census which records 36 men as card makers, one in five of the male working population in the village with 18 women described as ‘card setters’ (setters of staples).

The twin industry of card making was wire drawing, needed for the supplying of the teeth for the card. Iron was produced in the area chiefly by the Low Moor Company which covered a large area in the district including land in Scholes and other hamlets. Coal mines in the area provided raw materials for the ironworks including Scholes Pit which was worked until the early part of the 20th century.

The village is described in the Huddersfield & District Family History Society website as being:

finely situated in a valley stretching from north to south, the hills rising gradually on each side are very fertile and the valley is in a high state of agriculture which with the acclivities abound with wood that greatly improves the general scene. The village within these few years has undergone considerable improvement and its consequences much advanced by the erection of many very fine handsome residences; and Cleckheaton may … be described a flourishing and respectable place. The manufacture of machinery for carding and spinning wool is the most prominent feature of trade here; worsted is also manufactured as are coarse woollen cloths and the neighbourhood abounds with mines of coal which are wrought to a considerable extent.

Scholes now has a population of about 2500 and is part of Cleckheaton in the parish of Birstall, in the old manor of Wakefield.

Other Places in the County

Scholes near Keighley – a locality in the township of Oakworth, 3½ miles south west of Keighley.                                                        

Scholes in Greetland - part of Elland, 4 miles south of Halifax, in the old manor of Wakefield.

West Scholes In Thornton - a hamlet in the parish of Horton, 6 miles west of Bradford.

Places with Scholes as an element in the name include Scholemoor - a hamlet in the old township of Horton, now a suburb of Bradford; Scholebrooke - a hamlet near Tong between Bradford and Leeds; and Schole Hill - two or three cottages in the township and parish of Penistone, 5 miles from the town of Penistone, also Scole Hill, 1½ miles from Penistone. Other places that do not appear on some present-day maps include Scholes Cave in the parish of Kirkburton, 6 miles south of Huddersfield; and, Scholes or Elland Scholes, part of Stainland, 5 miles south of Halifax.

There are also street names, farms and field names that strongly suggest former association with places or perhaps families named Scholes; street names often derive from field names or commemorate local landowners.

Field names include Scholes Plain (Barwick-in-Elmet); Scholes Moor and Lee-in-Scholes (Kirkburton); Scholes Field Lane (Rogerthorpe, Thorpe Audlin); Scholes Croft (Batley township); Scholes Paddock, Scholes Ground and Scholes Coppice (Rotherham); Scole Croft (Farnley Tyas); and Scole Carr (Rishworth, Morley). 

Farms called Scholes, or with Scholes as an element, include Higher and Lower Scholes Farms at Scholes near Haworth; Scholes Lodge Farm at Scholes in Barwick-in-Elmet; Scole Croft, and a group of three farms at Bradshaw in Calderdale. There is also an Upper Scholes Farm on Scholes Lane in Greetland, which dates back to 1690.

Scholes occurs in street names in several towns; for example, Scholes View, Scholes Lane and Scholes Green, in Rotherham; and in Bradford, Halifax and Leeds. More than 20 such streets are shown in the Ordnance Survey Street Atlases of West and South Yorkshire.


Scholes Places in Lancashire

The historic county of Lancashire has only a few places called Scholes, of which Scholes in Wigan is of greatest significance with two much smaller places, parts of Eccleston and Ince Blundell.

Scholes in Wigan

 Fig10: Scholes, a district of Wigan


The district of Scholes is a ward of Wigan, east of the town centre (Figure 10). As described in the Victoria Histories of the Counties of England, Lancashire (VCH Lancs, Vol. 4), the district formerly had four wards:

St George and St Patrick, the innermost divided by a street called Scholes, and Lindsay and St Catherine’s outside. The Church of St Catherine was consecrated in 1841 and has a small graveyard attached .... Robert Ford who died in 1772 took possession of the ‘manor house’ in Scholes and were besieged for some days, to the excitement of the town. 

Scholes in Eccleston

This place is part of the old township of Eccleston, in the parish of Prescot, now part of St Helens. The tenancy of land at Scholes is well documented in VCH Lancs, Vol. 3, but there is no reference to anyone named Scholes. 

In the early 13th century, Robert de Beauchamp granted land of his manor of Scholes to the monks of Cockersand Abbey, 6½ miles south west of Lancaster. In 1268, the tenants, under the Abbey, were Peter de Burnhall and Roger de Molyneaux. From the end of the 13th century, Scholes was held by the Molyneaux family together with Eccleston. Later it was held by Ralph de Standish who paid a rent of 40s. in 1376. The Cockerstand rentals show that Ralph Standish was tenant of the Abbey’s lands at Scholes in 1451 and 1461, and Henry Standish in about 1520. The inquisition taken after the death of George Standish gives many particulars of the family history and holdings. William Standish appears to have mortgaged part of his lands in 1561.

Oliver Lyme, who died in 1631, held the hall in the manor of Scholes which at that time was in the hands of Thomas Eccleston. In the hall, over the bedroom, are the initials ‘I H E 1681’ probably referring to the Hurst family who held the hall in the late 17th and 18th centuries. According to VCH Lancs, Vol. 3, the garden (of the hall) his a very interesting 17th century shrine, in the form of stone pillar, carrying a rectangular niche for a figure, which is now empty. It is said to have been put there by Richard, Lord Molyneaux, the Jesuit. A catholic mission was established at Scholes in 1716.

The manor is not marked on Landmark 19th century maps.

Scholes in Ince Blundell 

This place lies in the township of Ince Blundell in the parish of Sefton, north of Liverpool. Land called Scholes formed part of the old Manor of Ince, near the Mersey river.

In the late 13th century, William Blundell gave land to the monks of Stanlaw. The land lay within the ditch of Little Crosby on the south following northward to the pool of Skippool down to the river Alt and following the river to the sea. In 1340, Richard de Molyneux entfeoffed (conveyed) to Robert, the son of William de Crosby, his manors of Scholes, Little Crosby and Speke. Again, the land is not identified on Landmark old maps.

The Blundells were related by marriage to the Eccleston family mentioned above (VCH Lancs, Vol. 3).

Other Places in the County

There are at least two places with Schole as an element in the name: Scholebank - a place in the township of Padsham in the parish of Whalley, north of Blackburn, and Scholefield in Whalley. There is also Scholes Height - a hill, 370 m high, in the township of Tottington Lower End, in the parish of Bury. According to VCH Lancs Vol. 5, “magnificent views may be obtained in clear weather over the surrounding country; Snowden may sometimes be seen.”

Scholes occurs frequently in street names in Wigan, Prescot, Salford, Manchester, Bury and Chadderton. Wainwright (1975) mentions field names in an 1840 Tithe Award Schedule including Scholes Field, Scholes Hill and Scholes Meadow. 


Scholes Places in Other Counties

County Durham

Stafford Scholes has drawn attention to the village of School Aycliffe in Co. Durham. According to the Place-Names of Durham (Jackson 1916), the prefix is derived from scule or scula, and the meaning of the name is Scul’s Aycliffe. After the battle of Corbridge, Regenwald gave the property of Saint Cuthbert, between Eden and Billingham, north of Stockton-on-Tees, to one of his generals, Scula (Jackson, 1916).  We have seen earlier that there are in Yorkshire several place names with the element Scole or Schole and the confusion of the vowel sounds u and o by Norman writers may explain the derivation of these places from scula.


The name Scole, a village near Diss, is probably of different origin from the Scholes places in northern England. The village and parish (also known as Osmondiston) are located in the district of Deepwade.  Bloomfield’s History of Norfolk states that this place was a hamlet in the time of Edward III and gave its name to a numerous family, one of which was a Rector (of Frenze near Diss). At this time Scole was a hamlet to Osmundeston. About the time of Henry VIII, the hamlet was also called Scole and might have received that name from the ‘scholes’ or shallows of the River Waveney on which it is situated. In 1423 Thomas Skoyle was the deacon at Irstead.

Elsewhere in England

There are a few instances of Scholes in field and farm names in other English counties: in Leicestershire, Scholes Farm on the A6006 near the village of Shoby with the nearby feature of Shoby Scholes; and in Dorset, Scholes Manor near Corfe Castle which was mentioned earlier.


Scholes Places in the United States

The author has been able to trace only one place in the USA called Scholes, shown in . It is located in Allegany County, in upstate New York State, south-west of Buffalo. The place is near Birdsall, across the Black Creek, a village known to have an association with Irish immigrants named Scholes. But County officials in Allegany have stated that “the place no longer exists”! It may be just and piece of land formerly owned by the Scholes family.

There is an airport at Galveston Island in Galveston, Texas, now known as Scholes International Airport; and also a Scholes Library founded by Dr Samuel R Scholes part of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

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