On this web site I will be writing about selected histories of the people and places of Swaledale. It’s not where I live, nor where I come from. My paternal ancestors hail from another of the Yorkshire dales – Nidderdale – and then from Teesside, and I now live in York. However, the reason for my interest in Swaledale isn’t hard to spot. My surname is Swales, a very old Yorkshire surname, still found predominantly within the county.
As far as anyone can tell, the surname stretches back at least as far as one Robert Swale in 1170, who may or may not have been related to one Aluredus de Sualedale, a member of the minor gentry of Yorkshire of the same period. The descendants of the latter are thought to have become the family Swale who for many centuries lived at Swale Hall, near Grinton, in Swaledale. They were prominent in the dale until the early 1700s, and even achieved some national fame and notoriety. Their story is one of many aspects of Swaledale history that has captivated my interest.
The area of Swaledale that interests me is the former medieval Forest of Swaledale, which was also the area of the original ecclesiastical parish of Grinton. It comprises all of the upper dale, from the villages of Grinton and Fremington rising westwards to the Pennine watershed.
I am working on several Swaledale history projects simultaneously. These web pages will develop as I gather more information and hopefully produce articles that are sufficiently cogent for sharing. Readers may wish to follow my blog, which can also be viewed on this web site. I will use it to report progress and to point readers to any significant additions to the web pages.