Castle Brewery, Thirsk - A C Marr 1880

These 2 documents were prepared by Mr Cooper Harding at Thirsk Museum some time ago. The last information I have on Marrs is from 1939 in New Zealand.

In 1876, Henry was 26, not 22, and a qualified solicitor. For more information on Marr, see A C Marr

Richard MEEK, Brewer & Maltster, Kirkgate 1840/44

The Tithe Apportionment for Thirsk (dated 26th October 1843) shows at Property No: 152 a "house, brewhouse and foldyard" in the ownership of John BELL (Lord of the Manor & Squire of Thirsk) but in the occupation of Richard MEEK.

The map shows this property to be at the top of Kirkgate, on the right (eastern) side facing the Church, and opposite the stable yard of Thirsk Hall. By the turn of the century this was a farm-yard; the buildings are still there, with a big double gate leading from Kirkgate into the yard at the back.

Castle Brewery

The key document for locating Castle Brewery is a Conveyance dated 18th May 1894 and enrolled at the North Riding Registry of Deeds on 14th June of the same year in Volume 62, on Page 322 and bearing Entry No: 132.

The essential details are the following:

CONVEYANCE made between Isabel GRAY of St. Leonards, Spital Hill in the County of Northumberland, Widow, Henry George GRAY of the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Insurance Agent and Hill MOTUM of the same place, Town Clerk of the said city, the Vendors ...
and George TAYLOR of West Hartlepool in the County of Durham, Wine & Spirit Merchant, the Purchaser.

CONCERNING all that piece or parcel of land containing five hundred and twenty square yards be the same more or .less situate at Thirsk in the County of York bounded on the North by property now or late belonging to the devisees of the late Miss BARROBY, on the South by property now or late belonging to Mrs. MacBEAN and Mrs. SANDERS, on the East by other parts of the hereditaments comprised in the hereinafter recited Indenture of Mortgage dated 16th June 1876 and contracted to be sold to George Edward MYERS and on the West by a lane, which said piece or parcel of ground is more particularly delineated and described on the plan hereon enclosed and thereon coloured round with red ...

TOGETHER WITH the Brewhouse, Stables and Outbuildings and all other buildings and erections now on the said piece or parcel of ground hereby conveyed.


This property lies at the far end of the former 'croft' running back from the house which now serves the Royal British Legion Club and is next door to the premises made famous as Alf WIGHT's 'James HERRIOT' surgery. The two houses form a single building, and the two door-cases are identical in pattern with the door-case of the RHODES brewer's house opposite. In the 1843 Tithe Apportionment, this property (No.37) is shown as being owned and occupied by William RHODES and is described as a 'House, Garden & Fold Yard'. Two doors further up Kirkgate, property No.35 is described as an Inn, 'The Mason's Arms', with yard and garden, occupied by John FAWCETT. Peter Hatch's list shows that in 1849 the 'Freemason's Arms' was in the hands of Quentin RHODES but was then closed down. The building was demolished and a pair of semi-detached late 19th century houses occupy the site - one of them recently purchased by Hambleton District Council as part of the 'World of Herriot' project and due to be converted for use as the Tourist Information Centre.

The plan accompanying the 1885 conveyance shows that the Cass brewhouse, etc. was set up in the existing fold-yard at the end of the Kirkgate 'croft'. The plan shows it separated from the garden, and there is still a wall running right across the property. The buildings on the site are now more or less derelict, but a good view of them can be had from the windows of the Upper Lounge Bar of the RBL Club - our local Probus Club meets there twice a month. Access to the brewery would have been from the back lane that serves the rear of all the Kirkgate properties and runs up as far as the Hall; this lane is a turning off Pick Lane (or Masonic Lane - after the Masonic Hall which stands at the end), which in turn links Kirkgate to the Castle Site. The adjacent farm-yard is called Castle Farm, and I think you can be quite certain that this was the Castle Brewery. I do not know who owns the property at present - it may be part of the Bell estate, and the whole complex of late 18th/early 19th century farm buildings, etc. are subject to a development plan that has roused some opposition. If you wanted to visit the site and take photographs, I should think the sooner it was done the better!

Archilbald Colquhoun MARR

Archibald C. MARR makes his first appearance in the Thirsk Parish Register where his marriage is recorded on 24th February 1876:

Archibald Colquhoun MARR aged 22, Bachelor, Brewer, resident in Sowerby, the son of James MARR, Doctor of Medicine
Margaret LANCASTER aged 24, Spinster, resident in Thirsk, the daughter of George LANCASTER, Saddler.

The certificate is signed by two witnesses, John GILLING and Jane LANCASTER.

The 1872 Directory shows George LANCASTER as having a saddler's business in the Market Place, while John GILLING was a member of the family who ran a tannery in the town, but whose house was in Sowerby.

The same Directory shows John GILLING as resident in Sowerby.

In the light of the deed dated 5th August 1885, (which I shall come to later) an entry in the Marriage Register dated 10th August 1876 is interesting:

Henry SMITH aged 26, Bachelor, Solicitor, resident in Sowerby, the son of Henry SMITH, Clerk in Holy Orders
Jane LANCASTER aged 23, Spinster, resident in Thirsk, the daughter of George LANCASTER, Saddler.

The certificate is signed by two witnesses,, John GILLING and Anne LANCASTER.

Henry SMITH and Archilbald C. MARR were, therefore, brothers-in-law.

The baptisms of six children born to Archibald & Margaret MARR are recorded in the Thirsk Parish Registers:

19th Nov 1876 Archibald Colquhoun
26th Jan 1878 Harry Colquhoun
8th Apr 1879 Janet Colquhoun
8th Mar 1881 Wallace Colquhoun
22nd Nov 1882 Douglas Colquhoun
2nd Apr 1885 Gordon Colquhoun

These are all good Scottish names, and Colquhoun is clearly important - was it perhaps Archibald's mother's maiden name?

In the case of the first five they are recorded as the children of Archibald Colquhoun and Margaret MARR of Thirsk, the father's occupation being shown as 'Brewer'; in the case of the last child, however, his occupation is given as 'Gentleman'. Was this after having sold off his brewing interest or before?

A deed of 15th January 1875 shows Archibald C. MARR and Frederick Crosby CASS acquiring an interest in the Golden Lion public house in the Market Place, Thirsk. Now if we go by the age shown on his marriage certificate (22 by 24th February 1876), Archibald can only just have been 21 - had he been younger he could not have entered into a legal contract.

Frederick CASS was a little older, he was the son of Samuel CASS, brewer, and his wife Ann, and was baptised in Sowerby on 28th December 1851.

A deed of 30th November 1875 records the sale by the Misses RHODES of a house and land in Kirkgate to Frederick CASS. Your list of entries shows for 1879 'Samuel CASS & Son and makes the first mention of Castle Brewery

A later deed (sorry, haven't noted the date!) shows MARR & CASS with interests in the White Mare (stood at the Sutton Road roundabout - demolished for road widening in 1930s), the Golden Lion and a block of properties from the Market Place down to the Finkle Street bridge.

Is it possible that Archibald MARR first went into business with Frederick CASS in 1875 - two young men with new ideas in the brewing trade - but that CASS gave up the association to take over the family business when his father died?

The trade mark registration shows Archibald in partnership with his brother Henry Dempster by 1877 (how old was his brother?). The registration is dated 16th March. A deed dated 26th March gives a good indication of where the MARR brewery stood:

"A Memorial of a certain Indenture bearing date 26th March 1877 between William LAMBERT of Sowerby near Thirsk in the County of York, Esquire, of the one part and Archibald Colquhoun MARR and Harry Dempster Colquhoun MARR of Thirsk aforesaid Brewers and Copartners in the business of Brewers ...
Of & Concerning all that newly-erected messuage, tenement or dwening- house situated, standing and being on the North side of the Market Place of Thirsk aforesaid, built partly or wholly on the site of an Inn formerly known by the sign of the Brewer's Arms but now known by the name or sign of the Royal Hotel and also all those seven several cottages or tenements, stables, brewhouses and other outbuildings situated behind the said messuage, tenement or dwelling-house and which said premises are now in the occupation of Mr. KENDREW as tenant thereof, but late in the occupation of Joseph and Nancy HEADLEY and then in the occupation of John HENSON ... "

The deed is signed by William LAMBERT with Dr. James WHITEHEAD MD of Manchester as witness and by Archibald C. MARR with Charles McCartney SWARBRICK, Solicitor, of Thirsk and Alfred SWARBRICK his clerk as witnesses.

There is another deed which is probably a mortgage dated 21st October 1880 concerning the Royal Hotel:

"A Memorial of Indenture bearing date 21st October 1880 and made between Archibald Colquhoun MARR of Thirsk, Brewer, of the first part, Harry Dempster Colquhoun MARR of the same place, Yeoman, of the second part, Richard PEARSON of Thirsk aforesaid, Merchant, of the third part and the York Union Banking Company of the fourth part ...
Of & Concerning ... (then the description of the Royal Hotel and premises as in the previous deed)

The Royal Hotel is still in existence - until recently it was known simply as the Royal, but it has now reverted to the earlier form of the name. Like most of the old Thirsk 'yards', though, the rear area has been largely cleared of the old cottages and outbuildings.

William LAMBERT was a member of a wealthy medical family in Sowerby with extensive property interests throughout the district; his widow endowed the Lambert Memorial Hospital. The SWARBRICKs were another notable family in Sowerby - three generations of lawyers. Richard PEARSON was a seed- merchant and later a JP.

These deeds suggest that MARR's brewery was in the Royal Hotel yard - note that the earlier inn was the Brewer's Arms, and the 1843 Tithe Apportionment shows it in the ownership of Mrs. MEEK. The Directory entries noting Marr & Co. as trading in Kirkgate may indicate the business address rather than the location of the actual brewery - access from Kirkgate to the yards on the north side of the Market Place was via a network of passages, footways, ginnels, etc.

Another point to note is that the 1877 deed names brother Harry as a 'brewer and copartner', but by 1880 he is described as a 'yeoman', which suggests that he had acquired some land and was no longer actively involved in the brewing business - 'yeoman' being technically one degree below 'gentleman' in the social hierarchy - the latter was one who did not have to work for his living!

I have found two more deeds involving Archibald C. MARR - both referring to the Golden Lion and seven cottages 'formerly in the tenure of Samuel CASS'. The first is dated 5th August 1885 and is between Archibald C. MARR of Thirsk, Gentleman and Henry SMITH of Thirsk, Gentleman. The second is dated 3rd September 1885 and conveys the property from a MARR to Richard PEARSON, Seed Merchant.

Henry SMITH, as mentioned earlier, was Archiblad's solicitor brother-in-law and the first of these two deeds may represent the redemption of a mortgage prior to the sale of the property to PEARSON.

From the information you have about Archibald MARR and from the clues offered by the various deeds it looks as if he set up in the brewing business at 21 (possibly with Frederick CASS), was joined by brother Harry and ran it for just under ten years before selling up in 1885. At this stage it is not clear whether he then retired on the proceeds of the sale or whether he had come into money some other way (had his father died, perhaps?) and no longer needed the business. It is also interesting to note the connections between the brewery trade and the legal profession. Quentin RHODES was a solicitor, so was Arthur CASS, so was MARR's brother-in-law.

I'll leave you with these further pieces of the jigsaw to juggle with. I am going to the library next week to follow up various census details and will see what the 1891 returns have to offer. If I come across Anything else of note I will pass it on.

J.C. Harding, Thirsk Museum

March 1997


The County Record Office in Northallerton holds the Petty Sessions Licensing Registers for the Birdforth Wapentake from 1872 onwards. There is an annual list giving the name of the licensee, the name of the premises, the name and address of the proprietor, any transfer of licence occurring during the year and any convictions of the licensee for breach of the regulations.

In 1872 Samuel CASS appears as the proprietor of the Old Bay Horse in South Kilvington, the White Mare in Thirsk and the Golden Lion in Topoliffe. Mrs Sarah LAMBERT owns the Royal Hotel and Mrs. ALMGILL owns the Golden Lion in Sowerby.

At the licensing sessions on 28th August 1876 the ownership of the Golden Lion in Sowerby has been acquired by Messrs. MARR & SMITH of Kirkgate, Thirsk. This must be ACM and his brother-in-law Henry, and this is the only reference to Henry SMITH as a partner; he can only have been 22 at the time, but in view of the 1885 deed mentioned in my previous notes (page 5), I wonder if his role was largely financial, putting up a share of the money.

By 1877 the owner of the Golden Lion in Sowerby is shown as 'Mr. A.C. MARR, brewer, of Kirkgate, Thirsk'. He also appears as the owner of the Royal Hotel, Thirsk, and the Golden Lion at Topoliffe. In view of MARR's interest in the Golden Lion in Thirsk, I wonder if this collection of Golden Lions is a pure coincidence, or whether his Scottish pride influenced his choice of these particular houses!

The purchase of the Golden Lion at Topoliffe is pinpointed by an entry in the Register of Deeds (Vol. LR page 55, entry 102)

"Memorial of a certain Indenture bearing date the Fourth day of April 1876 and made between Samuel CASS of Thirsk, Farmer, of the one part and Frederick Crosby CASS and Archibald Colquhoun MARR, both of Thirsk, maltsters and common brewers (thereafter designated 'the Purchasers') of the other part, of and concerning all that messuage known as the Golden Lion Inn with the yard Stables and outbuildings thereto adjoining and all those seven cottages adjoining the said yard and late in the tenure of the said Samuel CASS or his undertenants, but now in the occupation of the said purchasers or their undertenants ..... all being situate in the Parish of Topcliffe ..." Signed: Samuel CASS

I have rechecked the deed mentioned on page 4 of my notes where I had omitted to record the date and which you marked as 'important'. In fact I find there are three successive deeds (Vol LR page 187, entries 345, 346 & 347) in which it looks as if Frederick C. CASS is buying out MARR's share in the property.

'Memorial of Indenture bearing date the Third day of July 1876 between Archibald Colquhoun MARR of Thirsk, Brewer, and Frederick Crosby CASS of Brook House, Sutton under Whitestonecliffe of and concerning all that half part of Archibald Colquhoun MARR in that messuage used as an Inn and known by the sign of the White Mare and in the occupation of Andrew CARTMAN, which said messuage or Inn has been recently erected by Samuel CASS on the site of two cottages on the East side of a street called Micklegate or the Long Street ....' Signed: Fred. C. CASS

for ACM - John RHODES (Solicitor)
for FCC - Wm. FOWLE (Solicitor) & Arthur Wm. CASS (his Clerk)

[NB that 'recently' in these documents is always a very vague term, and was often copied from earlier deeds in reciting title. 'Micklegate' for what was usually called 'Long Street' suggests that the deeds of this property (not necessarily of the pub) go back many years - the White Mare was demolished in the 1930s to make way for the roundabout that hears the same name]

The second deed bears the same date (3.7.1876) and records the same type of transaction between ACM & FCC regarding the Golden Lion in the Market Place, Thirsk, with adjoining cottages and shops extending down to the York Bridge.

The third deed is similar and refers to the Old Bay Horse in South Kilvington, with stables, butcher's shop etc and three cottages adjoining.

[These premises were demolished some years back to build a bungalow on the corner of Beck Lane and to allow a road to be cut through to serve houses built on land at the rear. The owner of the bungalow told me once that while work was in progress he was talking to the contractor on the site when the front bucket of the JCB suddenly slid down into an unsuspected cellar, with an old lantern still hanging on a hook by the blocked-up doorway and other remnants of former times - unfortunately he did not think to take any photographs]

We can only speculate on the reasons for this apparent buy-out; from 1881 to 1884 the Licensing Registers show Samuel CASS as proprietor of the Old Bay Horse, the White Mare and the Thirsk Golden Lion. In 1885 the entry is for "the Administrators of Samuel CASS" The Thirsk Burial Register records the death of Samuel CASS (Brewer & Spirit Merchant) on 24th March 1884 at the age of 59. By 1891 both the Old Bay Horse and the White Mare have been bought up by John Smith of Tadcaster - they acquired all the RHODES brewery interests as well in 1897.

Very significant, I think, is the fact that in 1880 no name appears in the Proprietor' column of the registers for the Golden Lion at Sowerby, the Golden Lion at Topoliffe and the Royal Hotel, the three premises owned by ACM. Now this is the year when the two MARR brothers make an agreement with Richard PEARSON and the York Union Banking Company (my notes, page 5). In 1882 it is the York Union Banking Company who are shown in the registers as the proprietors of the Royal Hotel; they continue as such until 1893, when ownership and licence are transferred to Lot RYDER.

The Golden Lion at Sowerby has no proprietor listed until 1883, when it is transferred to Mr. Richard BEAVERS, who sells it on to Mrs. TWEEDY in 1901, while the Golden Lion at Topcliffe remains ownerless until 1899, when it is taken over by the Dean & Chapter of York.

It strikes me that Archibald MARR very soon found himself in financial difficulties with his brewing entreprise. It looks as if he was under- capitalised (and was perhaps near bankruptcy?). Was it Frederick C. CASS that precipitated this situation by pulling out of the early association to join his father? Was it CASS that had the brewing know-how and left MARR to cope on his own with a process he had no experience of? Did MARR and CASS fall out, or did the young CASS foresee money troubles ahead and get out at an early stage while the going was good?

I have one additional piece of information that strengthens my suspicion that Archilbald MARR may have over-reached himself; in the 1881 census he is listed at his Kirkgate address in Thirsk as 'Brewer, employing 2 men', with his wife Margaret, and four children, together with a female servant and a nursemaid. Brother Henry is a lodger down the road.

Ten years later in 1991, Archibald is living in Front Street, Sowerby; he now has seven children - the youngest being Graham Colquhoun (another good Scottish name!), aged three and born in Sowerby. The record of Graham's baptism is in the Sowerby Parish Registers 11th May 1888 and as in the case of Gordon in 1885, ACM's occupation is shown as 'Gentleman'. However, by the time of the census in April 1891 he is reduced in status to 'Commercial Traveller', place of birth Edinburgh - there are no servants.
I have not found any trace of his brother.

As last time, I leave you with these extra pieces of the puzzle to see what picture you can make from them.


Thanks for the copies of your photos. Yes, you have the right building, and you are probably correct in thinking that the section nearer the camera marks the original entrance. The brewery is where I have marked it on my sketch, the shaded portion is presumably the access area, There is a better view of the internal arrangements from the first-floor window of the British Legion Club, where the yard is visible, with the derelict remains of a two floor structure where the brewery section would have been.

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