Snow Hall


This Edward Rayne who inherited Snow Hall from his father John in 1729 was born in 1691. A Streatlam Canvassing Book drawn up in 1741 for the election of George Bowes lists Edward Rayne then of Snow Hall, but describes him as being 'unhappy circumstances'. 2 Unlike his ancestors he made his will in February 1758 eleven years before his death in August 1769. When he wrote it his wife Ann and daughter Margery were already dead, and so too, but more recently, was his son Edward Rayne junior, a 'gentleman of Greys Inn, Middlesex'. Edward senior, also describing himself as a gentleman, had moved out of Snow Hall and was living some five miles away at Raby Castle. He leaves Snow Hall to Timothy Wright then already resident at Snow Hall itself, and also nominates him to execute his will.

Image of the Will of Edward Rayne of Raby Castle, gentleman. Ref: DPRI/1/1769/R2/1-2

Will of Edward Rayne of Raby Castle, gentleman [Ref: DPRI/1/1769/R2/1-2].

Edward Rayne junior, the lawyer of Gray's Inn who predeceased his father some time before 10 January 1750, left in his 1748 will property at Norton in trust to John Eden gentleman of Gainford, a cousin. Eden was descended from one of the grandchildren of the Edward Rayne of Snow Hall who died in 1667. From the rents and profits John Eden was to pay 15 a year 'into the proper hands of my sister Ann Nicholson during her life for her own separate use and benefit, free from the power and controul of her said husband where with he shall not intermeddle'. Another trust endowed with the residue of his estate was established for the support and maintenance of his father Edward Rayne senior, this income passing upon his father's death to Timothy Wright.

Image of the Will of Edward Rayne of Gray's Inn, gentleman. Ref: DPRI/1/1749/R3/1-2

Detail of the will of Edward Rayne of Gray's Inn, gentleman [Ref: DPRI/1/1749/R3/1-2].

The arrangement to leave Snow Hall to Wright was clearly one of long standing, for Edward Rayne junior stipulates that after the deaths of his father and himself all his copyhold, messuage and tenement lands and hereditaments were to pass to Timothy Wright 'late of Snow Hall but now of General Bland's Dragoons'.

General Bland fought in Europe and led the cavalry under the Duke of Cumberland in Scotland during the 1745-1746 campaign and led the pursuit after Culloden. He then commanded one of the four military districts into which Scotland was divided, becoming the commander-in-chief in 1747. Timothy Wright would have been part of the army that 'pacified' the highlands after this '45 Jacobite rebellion. Wright was living at Snow Hall by 1757, when he and Edward Rayne 'late of Snow Hall and now of Raby Castle' were involved in a series of property transactions. 3

Timothy Wright's will dated 13 September 1778 shows his character. He leaves Snow Hall to his housekeeper Sarah Wake and makes her his executor. After her death the hall was to go to Wright's friend Richard Sherwood an apothecary of Staindrop. A reputed son in Barnard Castle and a reputed daughter in London each received £200. 4 His servant George Soulby is left his clothes and a year's wages, His largest silver tankard is bequeathed to the Reverend Philip Airey of Gainford, and Ann Airey his god-daughter is given his largest silver salver. His Spanish gun and powder horn are left to William Nevill Brockett of Barnstaple whose guardian he had been. 5

Image of the Will of Timothy Wright of Snow Hall, gentleman. Ref: DPRI/1/1778/W12/1

Will of Timothy Wright of Snow Hall, gentleman [Ref: DPRI/1/1778/W12/1].

His body was to be 'carried from the gates to the church by eight of the poorest men of Gainford that are able to bear me, without any pall over the coffin, to whom I give half a guinea to each for his trouble, and I order that four stone of beef and eight gallons of ale be ready for them at some publick house in Gainford'.


2. Canvassing book at Streatlam for the 1741 election of George Bowes, quoted in The antiquities of Gainford, in the county of Durham (1846), by John Richard Walbran, p8.
3. See Durham County Record Office (DCRO) D/HH8/3/233 (23 Mar 1757) and D/HH3/5/614 (6 Dec 1757). Wright is described as resident at Snow Hall.
4. Wright is the bondsman in a bastardy bond for Timothy the son of Ann Bainbridge of Barnard Castle: see DCRO EP/BC7/133.
5. See the will of Reverend Laurence Brockett, Fellow of Trinity College and the Kings Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge, proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 31 August 1768, [TNA PROB 11/941].

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