The history of the Dawnay Estates
From 1153 to today
The current owner, the 12th Viscount Downe’s family originally came from Aunay in Normandy, France. They eventually settled in North Yorkshire. The Viscountancy is a second creation Irish Peerage which came in 1680 for John Dawnay. John Dawnay was knighted at the battle of Naseby, this made him somewhat unpopular under the Commonwealth. This may have influenced his decision to buy land some distance from London at Danby. He was rewarded by King Charles II with the Viscountcy of Downe (the second creation)
The family obtained the title “Baron of Danby” in 1899 when the 8th Viscount was created the 1st Baron. Cowick near Snaith became the principle family seat until 1909 when the much enlarged Wykeham Abbey became the family home.
Danby was purchased in 1656 from the Earl Danvers, but previously had formed part of the Latimer (subsequently Neville) holdings. Sir William Neville was married to Catherine Parr (the last surviving wife of King Henry VIII).
The moors at Danby are a common, the current Viscount Downe being the Lord of Manor. The common rights are overseen by one of the few remaining Court Leets who hold their annual Court in October of each year at the Court Room, Danby Castle. Regular Jury meetings also take place in the Jury room, Danby Castle.