Catherine Scrope, who died 6 April, 2022, aged 86, was a scion of the Scropes of Danby.
She was born in Jan 1936, daughter of Ralph Henry Scrope [1905-1981], and his wife the former Lady Beatrice Anne Savile [1910-1973], daughter of the 6th Earl of Mexborough [1868-1945], and his wife the former Hon Margaret Eva de Burgh Knatchbull-Hugessen [1883-1957], daughter of the 2nd Baron Brabourne, JP, DL [1857-1909].
The Scrope family (pronounced "Scroop") are seated at Danby, the family's 1,500-acre estate in North Yorkshire. The family descend from one of Edward the Confessor's Norman favourites, and were thus already settled in England at the time of the Conquest. The family motto, Devant si je puis (Forward if I am able), is a sardonic allusion to their name,which means "crab" in the Norman dialect. Establishing themselves in Wensleydale in the 12th century, Scropes distinguished themselves on the Crusades and in the Hundred Years War, were regularly summoned to medieval parliaments as barons, and have produced five Garter knights, and an Archbishop of York.
The Scrope coat of arms, Azure a bend or, was one of the earliest to be adopted and, to amateurs of heraldry, is a celebrated curiosity. Campaigning in Scotland in 1385, Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton, was aghast to see it borne by a fellow knight, Sir Richard le Grosvenor. The matter was tried in the Court of Chivalry – John of Gaunt, Harry "Hotspur" and Geoffrey Chaucer all giving evidence on Scrope's behalf.
Depositions were conveniently heard in York Minster, the family burial place, where the Scrope arms were prominently on display, as they were – in glass, alabaster and stone – in more than 40 other churches in Yorkshire. The court's decision in favour of Scrope has long rankled with the Grosvenors. Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster, was to name his famous racehorse (the 1880 Derby winner) Bend Or, and it was also his nickname for his grandson, the 2nd Duke, whose chestnut hair reminded him of the horse. For their part, the proud Scropes sport a distinctive family tie, based on their arms, of blue with diagonal gold stripes.
Catherine Scrope descends from a junior branch of the family which succeeded to the headship in 1630. Christopher Scrope was by that time a convicted recusant and knew better than to press his claim to the titles and estates. Christopher's son seated himself at Danby-on-Yore, in the heart of the Scrope country, which the family had acquired through an heiress in 1576. Largely rebuilt in the 16th century, Danby Hall incorporates one of the most southerly examples of a peel tower, dating from the early 14th century. A small chamber at the top of the "old Tower" served as a chapel, the only place of Catholic worship for miles around. In the early 1800s a capacious priest's hole was rediscovered at the back of a fireplace. Generations of Scropes were barred, as Catholics, from public office. Their sons were sent abroad, with false identities, for their schooling. Forbidden to own any horse worth more than £5, they depended on kindly Protestant neighbours to hold them in their own names. The Scrope who bred Danby Cade, a famous 18th-century racehorse, was not his legal owner. "Penal times" ended with the passing of the Catholic Relief Act in 1829. Scrope of Danby petitioned in vain for the earldom of Wiltshire, but retained the heraldic supporters (a pair of Cornish choughs) that the family claim by prescription – supporters being an honour usually afforded only to peers and knights grand cross under Royal Warrant.