Place:Thornhill, West Riding of Yorkshire, England

Alt namesThornhill by Dewsburysource: alternate placename
Thornhill-by-Dewsburysource: alternate placename
TypeParish (ancient), Civil parish
Coordinates53.662°N 1.612°W
Located inWest Riding of Yorkshire, England     ( - 1974)
Also located inWest Yorkshire, England     (1974 - )
Yorkshire, England    
See alsoDewsbury, West Riding of Yorkshire, Englandtown in which Thornhill has been located since 1925
Kirklees, West Yorkshire, Englanddistrict municipality in which it was located since 1974
Agbrigg and Morley Wapentake, West Riding of Yorkshire, Englandwapentake in which it was situated.
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Thornhill is a village and former township in Dewsbury, Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Thornhill was absorbed into Dewsbury County Borough in 1910. It is located on a hill on the south side of the River Calder, and has extensive views of Dewsbury, Ossett and Wakefield. It is known for its collection of Anglo-Saxon crosses.

GENUKI provides a description of the ecclesiastical parish of Thornhill from a gazetteer from the 1820s. It was in the Agbrigg division of the Agbrigg and Morley Wapentake.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Thornhill is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as within the ancient wapentake of Agbrigg, but Anglian crosses and other remains indicate that there was a settlement here by the 9th century. A hoard of 27 Roman denarii found in Turnip lane and pottery at the cross indicates substantially earlier settlement. The tombstone of a certain very high-ranking Anglian called Osberht (a very rare find) was found in the graveyard of Thornhill Parish Church. Some historians claim that the grave bearing the name Osbehrt is that of King Osberht, who was killed on 21 March 867 while fighting the Viking Great Heathen Army led by Ivar the Boneless. The gravestone (among other contemporaneous high-status Anglian gravestones) is on display in the church. The local place-names of Ludd Well (shown in a 1602 map) and the Combs indicate Celtic settlement. This is reinforced by the dedication of the Parish Church to St Michael, which is typical for churches in high places in formerly Celtic parts of northern England. The Celtic kingdom of Elmet (covering modern West Yorkshire) collapsed in AD 617. In 1320 Edward II granted a charter for a market and a fair.[1]

In the reign of Henry III Thornhill Hall was the seat of the Thornhill family, who intermarried with the De Fixbys and Babthorpes in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II. In the reign of Edward III, Elizabeth Thornhill, the only child of Simon Thornhill, married Sir Henry Savile. This extinguished the family line of Thornhills of Thornhill which now passed its property down the Savile line. Thornhill now became the seat of the powerful Savile family.

The Saviles later intermarried with the Calverley family as well, so that when Sir John Savile died in 1503 in Thornhill, he left provision in his will for his sister Alice, married to Sir William Calverley. Sir William Savile, the third baronet of the family, fortified the hall.

Seizure of Thornhill Hall

The Saviles remained here until the English Civil War when the house was besieged. As royalist heroine since the siege of Sheffield Castle in 1644, Lady Anne Savile's troops under Capt. Thomas Paulden (brother of William Paulden) in August 1648 defended Thornhill Hall against the Parliamentary forces under Col. Sir Thomas Fairfax. They were forced to surrender and the hall was destroyed.

The Old Rectory survived and was home to several prominent vicars, most notably John Michell, who first rose to international prominence by developing an understanding of earthquakes, then devised an experiment to accurately determine the mass of planet Earth, but perhaps most intriguingly for Thornhill, attracted Benjamin Franklin (founding father of the USA), Joseph Priestley, Jan Ingenhousz, John Smeaton and others to a scientific meeting and overnight stay in 1771. Benjamin Franklin's stay in Thornhill remained unknown until 2015.

Some ruins of the house and the moat still remain at Thornhill Rectory Park. The moat still retains water. This large hall had a secret underground passage, that lead to the parish church of St. Michael and All Angels, Thornhill, just a few hundred yards away from the park. The passage remained until the early 1990s when it was filled due to safety reasons.

Monuments to members of the Thornhill and Savile families are in Thornhill Parish Church.

Industrial Revolution

Thornhill has close ties to coal mining. The demand for coal increased due to the development of the steam engine. The local population increased as more workers were recruited for the mines. In 1893 a mining disaster at Combs Pit killed 139 coal miners. Thornhill Colliery resulted from the merging of Inghams and Combs Collieries in 1948 but closed in 1971.

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