Snaith and Cowick



©Copyright Anuragk Gupta, Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Anuragk Gupta, Creative Commons Licence

Country England
County East Riding of Yorkshire
Study Area Snaith and Cowick
About the Study The name of Cowick is thought to mean “cow farm” or “dairy farm”. It is believed that this derives from the Old English ‘wic’, meaning a dwelling place or abode and ‘cu’, being the word for cow. This suggests that the settlement may have been established by the Anglo Saxon period of the fifth to ninth centuries.

The name ‘Snaith’ is also of Saxon origins, meaning “a place cut off”, by rivers for instance.
The Manor of Snaith and Cowick was in existence by the time of the Domesday Book (1086) although, whilst Snaith is mentioned three times – as Esneid, Esnoid and Esnoit – there seems to be no reference to Cowick. Unfortunately, there is also no detailed entry for Snaith, possibly because it was a royal manor and reserved for the support of William’s household at the time of Domesday.

In medieval times, Snaith and Cowick continued to belong to the King and, in fact, West Cowick was Edward II's centre of Government for a time, with the Ordinance of Cowick being signed there in the 1300's. It subsequently became part of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster and then of the Dawney family.

The beautiful 12th century Priory Church of Snaith is dedicated to St Laurence. However, it is likely that an earlier oratory or chapel was located in Snaith during the Saxon period. The Parish of Snaith stretched for about twenty miles and included 25 townships. Snaith was an ecclesiastical Peculiar (ie: it had an ecclesiastical court of its own), the court being owned by the Mother Church, Selby Abbey.

West Cowick was the site of an important medieval pottery industry, producing large quantities of Cowick Humberware. In 1322, three potters worked on the site and by 1373 they numbered seven. The industry remained important into the second quarter of the sixteenth century after which it fell into decline.

As I develop this study, I plan to build a collection of historical and genealogical records and articles about Snaith and the villages of East and West Cowick, including the hamlets of Greenland and Turnbridge.

Population Population 1841: Snaith = 855; Cowick = 882.
Contact Chris Collins