Our parish is fortunate to have been the interest of Norman Clarke, at one time a senior local government officer in Lincolnshire and, in his retirement, a resident of Pocklington. As an amateur historian and author, Norman Clarke’s ‘Historical notes on an East Riding Village’ (self published, 1998, and presented to the Vicar, Churchwardens and inhabitants of the parish) provides a comprehensive background to past times in our parish. Norman Clarke’s daughter, Mrs. Carol Wells, lived with her husband in Yapham Mill for many years and it is with her blessing and pride that edited sections of her father’s book will be published here over the coming months. Parishioners who have comments or additions to make to any of the historical events and notes that appear here are invited to make their contributions via the website.
Yapham is recorded in the Domesday Book (1066) as Iapun, and over the centuries as Yapun, Japun and Yappum (1270). Spelt as today in 1451 in Testamenta Eboracensia, it reverted to Yapeham in 1550 in the Yorkshire Feet of Fines. Meltonby was Meltebi in the Domesday Book, Meldoneby in 1226 in the Yorkshire Feet of Fines, Meltynby in the Yorkshire Deeds of 1350. Similar variations are recorded with other place names, for instance Smylett Hall was Smerelidh in 1228 and Rowland Hill was Roughlands in 1318. The ‘by’ ending to Meltonby is a strong indication of its Danish origin.
The population of the parish has remained fairly constant over the period of the National Census (1801 to the present), hovering around the 200 figure. Fluctuations above and below this figure would have been occasioned chiefly by the parish’s dependence on agriculture, its prosperity or impoverishment. In the nineteenth century the parish would have been relatively self-sufficient, a blacksmith, school and schoolmaster, wheelwright, joiner, tailor, miller and shoemaker all appearing in the records for 1858.
Marriage registers give an indication of the level of literacy amongst a rural population. Between 1779 and 1836 there were sixty marriage entries, twenty-five of which where both partners were unable to sign the Register, and two others where the bride could only make a mark. Thus about half the population was probably illiterate. The dwelling places of those getting married indicate that the majority of brides and grooms had found their partners within walking distance of each other. Between 1779 and 1799 there were 85 births recorded in the parish, and 33 burials; only two of the births are recorded as illegitimate. The average age of death of those dying between 1779 and 1810 was thirty-four; infant deaths were several and people reaching their seventies and eighties were not common, thus what we today call middle age was the expectation for the majority.