Gillamoor Church
- The Building of Gillamoor Church in 1802 -

I became interested in Gillamoor Church when my mother kept telling me that as a young girl she was told by her mother that Gillamoor church had been built single handed by a relative of ours. She could not remember who or what the relationship was. For years I thought that this must have been another tale that gets confused over the years and then last year (1999) I decided to investigate. Some years back a Sunday ride through the Yorkshire Moors landed at Gillamoor and a look around the church revealed a plaque on the wall which gave some substance to my Mum's story.


Now, I knew that her mother was a Sleightholme and that James Smith must related to her somehow. At the time I was not aware of any relationship to any Smith's on the Sleightholme branch. On the Sleightholme side I had only gone back as far as my Great Great Grandfather Joseph Sleightholme. I knew (from speaking to older members of the Sleightholme family) that his wife was called Jane. So I found their Marriage by plodding back through St. Catherines marriage index when I found their marriage in 1855. When I got the marriage certificate back it told me that Jane's maiden name was Smith! and her father was called Robert. I thought I was hot on the trail!.

I knew that Jane was born in 1830 as her age was shown on the marriage certificate and the 1881 census showed her birthplace as Farndale. Using the LDS familysearch site I found a Jane Smith christened 10 Feb 1830 in Kirkby Moorside with the father shown as Robert and her mother shown as Mary.

I searched the marriages for Kirkby Moorside for Robert Smith and found he was married twice. First to Mary Clarke on 29 August 1829 and next to Christiana Jackson on 5 Dec 1832. I found 2 children by Mary Clarke who were Jane and Cass. Robert and Christiana had nine children. My theory is that Mary died giving birth to Cass (but I have no evidence for that). It is interesting to see that Jane was living with her Grandma Sarah Clarke in the 1841 census and the 1851 census and not with the Smith family.

Was Roberts father James who built Gillamoor church? I found Roberts father was Mathew Smith who had married Elizabeth Medd in Old Malton in 1799. I was slightly disappointed but my hopes were raised after a visit back to Gillamoor when I found the gravestone of Mathew and Elizabeth Smith located directly underneath the plaque of James Smith. I still believed there was a connection. I then looked back further to find that Mathew Smith's father was a Mathew Smith from Lastingham who had married Mary Helm and checking all his offspring led me to the Christening of James in Lastingham church on the 14th September 1755. So there it was James Smith who built Gillamoor church was in fact the brother of Mathew Smith, father of Robert Smith and hence the uncle of Jane Smith who married Joseph Sleightholme.

The fascinating thing for me is that unless my mother had given me that snippit of information passed down via 6 generations, I would never have found out about my Great Great Great Great Great Uncle James Smith who built Gillamoor church with his own two hands almost 200 years ago.

© 2001-2007 Andrew Sefton