The Legends and Traditions of Huddersfield and Its District: Volume I, Part I (1940) by Philip Ahier

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. J \ AW aNd Wie Oona I p / CLASSIFIED J : st db BY AJ Girs pn i 7 /N PHILIP AHIER. Car os J . : Ae? 4 ' WY) ey PART I. (COPY RIGHT) 1940. HUDDERSFIELD :


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vO he Origin of Legends ah

Baked ” Legends

Legends relating to Persons _




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The Dives House, Dalton. Bay Hall, Birkby. Ark Hill Mound, Birkby. The Moat on Castle Hill. Part of Earthwork, Lee Hill, Outlané. Woodsome Hall. Fixby Hall. The Church of St. Lucius, Farnley Tyas. The Paulinus Cross. The Base Stone of the Rastrick Cross. The Haigh Cross.

Robin Hood's Grave in: Kisidees Park.

The Gate House, Kirklees Park.

(i) Dr. Nathaniel Johnstone’s Drawing of the Grave Stone of Robin Hood as it stood in 1665.

(ii) The Inscription on the Grave Stone of Robin Hood.

Drawing of the Cross on Robin Hood’s Grave in Kirklees Park. I

Sir Richard Beaumont, 1574-1631.

The Monument to Sir Richard Beaumont in Kirkheatoa Church.

Newhouse Hall, Sheepridge (before 1865). Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1658. Thorncliffe Grange, Emley. Highburton Cross. The Former Three Nuns, at Kirklees. Cannon Hall. : i Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1720-1788. Slaithwaite Old Hall. General James Oglethorpe, 1688-1785. Greenhead Hall.

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The. present publication of ‘‘The Legends and Traditions of Huddersfield and District’’ is the outcome, first, of the delivery of a series of lectures upon the subject, and, secondly, the reprinting of a number of articles which have already appeared in the ‘‘Huddersfield Borough Advertiser’* as well as in the correspond— ence columns of the ‘‘Huddersfield Daily These articles and letters are now reproduced (with considerable additions) in a more permanent form, which, it is hoped, will be useful to subsequent historians and topographers of our town and

its vicinity.

I have endeavoured to classify the Legends, &c., related of our District under two headings: (i) those concerning Persons, e.g., Oliver Cromwell, and (ii) those cencerning Places, e.g., Newhouse Hall, Fixby Park, etc. It will be observed, however, that I have not always been able to adhere to this system of classification, thus the Legend of the Elland Feud, containing both elements, will be discussed in a chapter by itself; and the ‘‘Lines on a Remarkable Circumstance connected with Bretton Hall,’’ dealing with the so-called disappearance of “Sir William Wentworth Blackett’’ will also be similarly treated.

I must express my very best:thanks to the Rev. C. P. L. Dennis, M.A., Ph.D., for kindly lending me Arthur Jessop’s ‘Diary’? which gives a great deal of information upon local con- ditions at the time of the Younger Pretender’s Rebellion in 1745-6 ; I am also under a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Fred Lawton, of Skelmanthorpe, for permitting me to reproduce the legends of _Emley and district which he had collected; to Mrs. A. M. W. Stirling, I am indebted for granting me. permission to print the story of John Spencer and the parson.

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I am also most grateful to the Proprietors of the ‘‘Huddersfield Daily Examiner,’’ first, for permission to reproduce articles and letters previously written, secondly, for the loan of photographic blocks to illustrate the book, and, thirdly, for the consultation of their files and reproduction from them.

My best thanks are likewise due to Mr. Horace Goulden, F.L.A., Public Librarian, and to his assistants, in particular, Mr. Charles Bennett, Deputy Librarian, for most valuable assistance given to me at the Public Library; also to the Committee of the ‘Tolson Memorial Museum at Ravensknowle for the loan of blocks, and likewise to M essrs. A. & C. Black, London, and to the Council - = os Archeological Society for the same a

ree part will deal with the Elland Feud, the Legend of Bretton Hall and those concerning Places. I


24, Lightridge Road, _Sheepridge, I Huddersfield. June, 1940.

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A consultation of the Oxford University Dictionary reveals no less than eight different definitions of the word ‘‘legend,’’ the one which is closely connected with our subject reads as follows :— ‘‘An unauthentic or un-historical story, especially one handed down by tradition from early times and popularly regarded as historical.”’

The writer on ‘‘Legends’’ in ‘‘Chambers’ Dictionary’’ says that the word is ‘‘a name somewhat loosely applied on the one hand to the creations of mythology and on the other to the more or less historical accretions that ever tend to grow around the names of heroes which impress the popular imagination: the curious practice of interweaving truth with fable no doubt arose from a credulous love of the wonderful, an exaggeration of fancy; even pious fraud helped to disseminate such embellishment and un-— trustworthy narratives.’’

Various explanations can be given as to the origin of legends which are associated with any particular district :— (1) ‘‘It is ever the fate of a great name to be enshrined in fable,’’ and in this district, we have legends and traditions con- cerning Sir Richard Beaumont, 1574-1631, (Black Dick); Oliver Cromwell, Protector of England, 1599-1658; Charles Edward Stuart, the Younger Pretender, 1720-1788, besides many others; while in a lesser degree, the life of a local eccentric character tends to be enhanced with stories some of which may never have actually occurred. .

(2) Fictions and fables have been puilt up around an episode which may have a certain element of truth. During the course of the oral tradition transmitted down the ages, fantastic and fan- ciful events have been added to the originai episode (however true this episode may once have been), so much so that it is almost impossible to state centuries after what is historically accurate and what is the product of some bygone chronicler’s imagination. The story of the Elland Feud comes under this category.

(3):The tendency to localise an episode which is associated with another district has occasionally been the undoubted origin of a legend in our vicinity. In this connection there are at least four legends which have their counterparts in other localities :—

(a) There seems good reason to believe that the Legend of Bretton Hall which deals with the disappearance of ‘‘Sir William Wentworth Blackett’’ is similar to that of ‘‘Mab’s or

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THE Dives House, DALTON showing the adjacent barn.

Bay HALL, BIRKBy. Photo by the late Mr. G. Charlesworth.

ARK Hitt Mounp, BIRKByY. Photo by Mr. G. H. Shaw.

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Roe’s Cross,’’ told in Roby’s ‘‘Traditions of Lancashire.’’ Mr. Taylor Dyson, M.A., in his recently published ‘‘History of Hud- dersfield and its District,’’ (p. 151), says: ‘‘It is the story of the lord of the Manor going to foreign parts and remaining there so long that his wife gives him up as dead and she marries another. At the critical moment, the wanderer returns and the ending varies according to the mood of the writer—-usually we get the happy ending in the reunion of husband and wife.’’

(b) The story of the Slaithwaite ‘‘moonrakers’’ has its parallel in the Wiltshire ‘‘moonrakers’’ endeavouring to divert the attention of some Excise officers by telling them that they were raking the reflection of the moon, whereas in actual fact, these last mentioned ‘‘rakers’’ were collecting contraband barrels of spirit smugeled into the River Avon at the dead of night.

(c) Another ‘‘localised’’ tradition is the one concerning the two policemen and the dead horse which is related,of nearly every important town in the country.

The story, as far as Huddersfield is concerned, is this :—In the early days of the police force, two ‘‘Peelers’’ (as the policemen of those days were known) found a dead horse one early morning in Northumberland Street. They had to write a report of their finding the carcase ; and, being unable to write correctly the word “‘Northumberland,’’ they removed the dead animal into Wood Street and duly reported to the Chief Constable of our town that the body of the horse had been found in the last-named street as they were able to write the word ‘‘Wood’’! In my native island of Jersey, the same story was told of two policemen in the town of St. Helier where the streets in question were Gloucester Street and Sand Street.

(d) The harbouring of Catholic priests at the Dives House, Dalton, during the persecution of the Catholics in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, from 1583 to 1587, may have originated from the fact that its former owner, Richard Langley, actually concealed these persecuted clergymen at his manor house at Grimthorpe. Father J. H. Pollen, in his ‘‘Acts of the English Martyrs,’’ quot- ing from an ancient M.S., says, ‘‘He built a very well—hidden house underground which was a great place of refuge for priests during the persecution.’’ This place of refuge, so the Rev. Dom. Bede Camm, O.S.B., of Cambridge, informed me in a letter, seems to have been at Grimthorpe, but we have no documentary evidence that Richard Langiey actually concealed priests at the Dives House at Dalton previous to his selling it to Thomas Stansfield in 1567.

Under this heading, also, are those traditions relating to Catholic observances practised in local houses during this same period of persecution of the Catholics. These stories, which are related of many old Tudor homesteads in other parts of the country,

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have never been recorded as historical facts and yet they have been handed down for over three hundred years. Among these traditions is the one that the attic of Newhouse Hall, Sheepridge, was used as a chapel in the days of the ‘‘Persecution’’ when the Brookes of Newhouse gave shelter and protection to Catholic priests who refused to accept the tenets of the Reformation. A similar story is told of Bay Hall, Birkby, where also a pole was placed on two intersecting stakes in the garden so that persons afflicted with contagious diseases could witness the celebration of Mass in that part of Bay Hall used as a chapel. It is even said that confessional boxes were to be seen in the Hall in the early days of the last century, while in the forties of the same period, a font was dug up in the garden.

It is possible that some of these traditions are true for there was considerable hostility manifested to the Catholics in this district, particularly after Throgmorton’s Plot. in 1583, and, for many years, the Catholics adopted a policy of isolation and secretiveness lest they should be discovered practising the rites of their faith.

(4) Nearly all old houses are usually associated with some ghost story or supernatural happenings. I must confess that I am sceptical regarding the accounts of apparitions told concerning Woodsome Hall, Fixby Hall, Gledholt Hall, Newhouse Hall, Whitley Hall, Elland New Hall, to name but a few. Some of the so-called supernatural phenomena connected with old houses may have simple natural explanations; thus, oak floor boards have a bad habit of creaking in the middle of the night; doors rattle on _ windy nights; mice scamper on floors of kitchens and cellars; rats may put in an appearance in stables and out-houses ; these ordinary occurrences, in the minds of very sensitive and super- Stitious persons, will be linked up with mysterious footsteps, tappings on panels, knockings on front doors, and even rattling of chains!

In. my survey of old homesteads in this district, I have been told of the following ‘‘supernatural’’ phenomena :—

(i) The inability of the occupants to sleep in certain bedrooms owing to the presence of ‘‘a mysterious eerie atmosphere,’’ while in one case, I was challenged to sleep in a certain room of an old dwelling on any November 15th when this ‘“‘phenomenon’’ was alleged to manifest itself to its greatest intensity !

(ii) The crouching of some animal upon a bed when occupied by a visitor: this ‘‘phenomenon”’ was related of Newhouse Hall, but as the room in question is no longer used as a bedroom, the ‘‘phenomenon”’ has ceased !

(iii) The entire removal of all the bedclothes by an unseen hand !

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(iv) The projection of queer lights upon the bedroom walls: I was assured, by the occupants of this house, that these lights were not those of passing motor cars or waggons, nor even os bull’s eye lamps of policemen !

(v) Weird knockings at the front door of a house and when the occupiers opened the door, no one was to be seen !

(vi) Occasional nightly apparitions such as a lady in white, a lady in black, an old lady with silvery—white hair, a butler with his face streaming in blood, a headless horseman, a bearded dog with a human face, a bloody hand, etc.

There may be other instances of queer occurrences in local houses but the above is a fairly good assortment ; in fact, it would almost be worth while for the Society for the Study of Psychical Research to investigate some of these peculiar phenomena with which I have been regaled in my studies into the history of old homesteads in this district.

(5) Stories of buried or hidden treasure in mountains, hills, caves, or behind secret panels in old houses; stories of bodies of warriors buried in mounds after famous battles, have always appealed to the popular imagination, and our district 3 is not without such traditions :—

(i) A Golden Cradle is supposed to be buried in the interior of Castle Hill. I gather that it has been told as a bedtime story to hundreds of children in Almondbury in former days. According to tradition, the cradle lies buried at a certain point in the ditch or moat between the north-east ward and the middle ward on which the public house stands. Who made the golden cradle? who owned it? why it was buried? tradition is silent, but there are many persons in Almondbury who believe in the existence of the cradle and hoped that the excavations on Castle Hill in August, 1939, would yield it; but, unfortunately, it was not discovered in those sections of the plateau which were opened out. Perhaps this legend originated when a number of golden Brigantian coins was discovered on Castle Hill in the year 1829.

(ii) A chest of deeds is supposed to be buried within the interior of Ark Hill Mound at Birkby. It has been alleged that had this chest been discovered, the right of the Ramsden family to the Manor of Huddersfield would have been disputed! This is another fabricated legend of which further examples will be given at the conclusion of this chapter.

On the other hand, it has been suggested for many years that this mound should be excavated. Hobkirk, in his ‘‘History of Huddersfield,’’ (1st Edition, pp. 45-46), formulated the theory that ‘“perhaps some distant relative of Caractacus or Boadicea, is laid in state in its gloomy halls, or may be it is of later origin, and encloses all that was mortal of some renowned Saxon chief; but

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between the North-Eastern Ward and the Middle Ward.


(Photo by the late Mr. W. H. Sikes, kindly lent by the

Tolson Memorial Museum Committee)

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guesses are of little use, and we are not at present likely to have a chance of satisfying our curiosity by opening its long closed vaults to vulgar gaze; for it is now a garden, with a very tempt— ing bed of strawberries on one side, . . . whose merits you seem inclined to discuss, in preference to the questiop of its British or Saxon origin.”’

Even in 1878, at the time of the visit of the British Archeo- logical Society to Almondbury, Mr. Fairless Barber, the second secretary of the Yorkshire Archeological Society, said that it was possibly a burial mound, but until it is actually excavated, nothing definite can be stated concerning this elevation of land.

(iii) Hobkirk, of Huddersfield,’’ 1st Edition, p. 54), when describing Round Wood at Waterloo, made the following observations :—

‘‘Various have been the surmises respecting its origin. In form it most nearly resembles a tumulus, but then its immense size is against such an opinion, unless we suppose it to have been the burial place of the warriors slain in some great battle. This is not after all very unlikely, as there are records that a most fierce and bloody war was waged in this neighbourhood, by its prince, Edwin, in repelling the invasions of Ceadwell, the Briton and Penda the Mercian.”’

The Battle of Heathfield or Hadfield fought in 633 A.D. between Penda, King of Mercia, and Cadwallon, King of a part of Wales, against Edwin, King of Northumbria, is supposed to have taken place near Doncaster. It is hardly conceivable that the bodies of the slain were removed for burial at Round Wood!

Strange to say, another tradition relates that Lee Hill at Outlane was the scene of the burial or cremation of these warriors :—

“On the hill-top immediately outside the earthwork there are the remains of what may have been funerary mounds, and these tumuli may provide the origin of the old tradition that here was the camp for the forces of Cadwallon and Penda in the struggle of

633 A.D.’’ (‘‘Early Man in Huddersfield’? by James A. Petch,

(iv) Three thousand guineas are supposed to have been hidden

behind eight secret panels in Newhouse Hall. The story is as follows :—

It appears that Thomas Brook, who lived at the Hall in the latter part of the 18th century, feared that his descendants would find themselves in straightened circumstances, and secreted, so the story goes, these guineas behind eight secret panels which in those days existed in Newhouse Hall. Before he died, he called his children and grand-children together, and is reported to have

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said, provided for your future by hiding money behind some of the panels in this room and elsewhere, and also under a floor- board, when you require it, search.’’ Unfortunately for his descendants, long after his death, the Hall was let to tenants, and although efforts have been made by some of these to find this supposed hidden treasure, yet it has never been reported to have been found; or if it has, the finders have kept their mouths sealed !

(6) Subterranean passages, where such definitely exist in any locality, are a schoolboy’s delight, and considerable amusement can be derived from exploring them. In this district, however, we seem to be inundated with traditional or supposed underg:ound passages of which the following is a list I have collected in my studies in the topography of Huddersfield :-— (i) Castle Hill to Deadmanstone. (ii) Castie Hill to St. Helen’s Gate at Almondbury. (iii) Castle Hill to King Street at the bcttom of Castlegate. (iv) Fixby Hall to the Orangery. I , (v) Fixby Hall to the Ice House on the 11th Green in the Park. Newhouse Hall to Newhouse Wood. I

) (vii) Whitley Hall to the Summer House (sometimes-known as the Temple).

(viii) The Almondbury Parish Church to Fenay Hall. (ix) The Almondbury Parish Church to St. Helen’s Gate. (x) Armitage Bridge (Brook Wood) to Meltham. gt (xi) Little London at Elland to the Parish Church at Elland. - (xii) One under Beaumont Park. I (xiii) Under King Street to the River Colne. (xiv) Linthwaite Hall to Kitchen Fold.

Some of the above-mentioned underground passages will be discussed in Part II.

It might be advisable to say a few words concerning the probable origin of such actual subterranean devices which ate in existence in other parts of the country :—

(a) Some seem to have been constructed during the process of the building of a medizeval castle as a final place of refuge and possible escape. In times of siege by a rival feudal magnate, the principal members of the owner’s family could effect an escape from its interior should the moats have been scaled or the drawbridge forced by the attacking party. It is said that some of these under- ground passages extended for many yards to a mound or hillock, — where, by means of a secret and covered doorway, an outlet into the open country revealed itself to the besieged. oe

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(b) It is possible, too, that some of these underground passages leading from the lower regions of a castle were made by prisoners shut up in their dungeons. These unfortunate persons, fearing that the rest of their lives would be so spent therein, at dead of night, or, during those casual periods when their Wwardéts were not on the alert, endeavoured to escape by burrowing out the loose earth which formed part of the place of their incarceration. But very few prisoners were likely to cut passages through the stony dungeons of Knaresborough Castle and of Pontefract Castle !

(c) Again, it is probable that in the cellars of medizval build- ings, there were storage places for grain, root crops, preserved meats, etc., and that these extended a considerable distance under the ground floor of the premises.

Underground and secret passages are therefore associated with old buildings such as castles, moated houses, monasteries, etc., and with mounds, hillocks and hill forts, whether there are actually some in existence or not; and it is quite conceivable that as these passages do exist in other parts of the country, so local tradition records that they must similarly radiate from Castle Hill and the old Halls and Churches above mentioned !

Re ae *

In connection with the later legends and traditions, it must be stated that there were no local newspapers circulating in this district until the ‘‘Leeds Mercury’’ (1717) and the ‘‘Leeds Intelli- gencer’’ (later the ‘‘Yorkshire Post’’) came into being in the 18th century (17 54). There were also two Halifax newspapers in cir- culation. It is interesting to observe that one of the earliest news- papers printed in this country—'*The Intelligencer,’’ August Ist, 1663—contains particulars concerning one George Blackburne, of ‘‘Huthersfield,’? who appears to have taken some part in “The Yorkshire Plot, 1663, when an attempt was made by a few persons in the North to restore the Commonwealth régime.

Our Huddersfield newspapers ‘‘The Chronicle,’’ and ‘‘The Examiner,’’ date from 1851, although Richard Oastler had issued a few copies of a short lived ‘‘Huddersfield and Halifax Gazette’’ in the thirties of the last century, copies of which may be seen in the Huddersfield Public Library. Before the advent of the first two Leeds papers mentioned above, local events were recorded in Diaries, (such as those of Capt. Adam Eyre, Arthur Jessop, Richard Ismay, Richard Armitage, etc.) ; in Common Place Books or Note Books (such as that of William. Sykes, the Schoolmaster of the Crosland Town School); in Parish Church Registers (e.g., Almondbury) ; in the Account Books of the Churchwardens, Over- seers of the Poor, Surveyors of the Highways and Constables of Townships; and, from these manuscript books, one can gather a good deal of information concerning local happenings in 18th

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century days. But, it must be remembered also, that many extra- ordinary events and occurrences were handed down from genera— tion to generation by word of mouth, as in the case of the early stories of Methodism, the depredations effected by the Luddites in 1811-1812, the methods of the Press Gang in the days of the Wars, etc. Consequently, before the days of local correspondents to the two Leeds newspapers and later the Halifax papers, accounts of accidents, weather phenomena, murders, &c., were transmitted orally fren generation to generation, or, (as stated above) written in Common-place, Chap, or Note Books. One such Chap Book printed at Otley about the year 1790 tells the story of the murder of Father Hooker or Hocker who had sought refuge at Newhouse Hall (p. 43). Considerable caution must be exercised by a local historian in accepting statements (purporting to be historically accurate) from oral traditions. To give one illustration, I was told some years ago that Pond House in South Crosland had been visited by the Luddites in their destruc— tion of machine looms in this district. It so happened that I had kept a record from the files of the ‘‘Leeds Mercury’’ and ‘‘Leeds Intelligencer’’ of their nefarious deeds in 1811 and 1812. Con- firmation of this statement was forthcoming and this particular homestead was certainly visited on March 12th, 1812, and con-— siderable damage inflicted upon the machinery then existing in the weaving sheds.


It is certain that some of the so-called legends which have been printed in our local histories have been obviously fabricated :—

(1) The legend of the disappearance of ‘‘Sir William Wentworta Blackett’’ from Bretton Hall for the space of twenty years is a ‘‘fake.’’ The ‘‘poem’’ telling this story was composed by Jimmy Mann, a rhyming pedlar of Scissett, in 1838, and when he was challenged as to the truth of the story confessed that he had made it up ‘‘out of his own (!).

.2) The queer happenings which are supposed to have occurred after the death of Mr. James Rimington, a steward of the Kaye’s of Woodsome are products of someone’s imagination. Mr. John Nowell communicated these stories to Hobkirk who reproduced them in his ‘‘History of Huddersfield’? (Second Edition, pp. 99- 100) :—

‘*The legend of Rimington’s ghost was to this purport as related by old country cronies :

First, that strange noises were heard in a room called Rimington’s closet.

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(Reproduced by courtesy of the Proprietors of the

Huddersfield Examiner



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Second, that a man once met the ghost of Mr. Rim‘ngton riding at full speed down Woodsome Lane, with a couple of dogs led by a leash.

Third, once upon a time, his ghost, going at full gallop, plucked out a brag-nail from a door—post at the bottom of Farnley village.

Fourth, that the learned clergy of the neighbourhood were called in to put his unquiet spirit to rest.

Fifth, that the ghostly wanderer was ‘‘laid’’ in the little bath room near the quincunx beeches to quietly there remain as long as the ‘‘hollins’’ should grow green.

Sixth, that this condition was not fulfilled—the ghost having been changed into a robin red breast (robinet) which visits the back room to this day, (from which the Farnley folks are called ‘robinets’ and are now thus taunted probably in punishment for the ignorant credulity of their forefathers).”’

Mr. Nowell continued, ‘‘But as for Mr. Rimington, if anyone did deserve to rest quietly in his grave, was that good man. Tradition even now says that he was a faithful steward, one who dealt justly, and was a true friend to the tenantry—his good deeds ‘are not forgotten by the descendants of those whom he benefitted.

. “He (Mr. Rimington) was an intimate friend of the Rev. Robert Meeke, incumbent of Slaithwaite, and throughout the whoie of the latter’s ‘‘Diary,’’ not one syllable is to be found relative to the occurrences related above and certainly had the clerical conclave ever assembled for the purpose recorded above, Mr. Meeke could not: fail to have known it, and further, it would have found a place in his ‘‘Diary.’’ The whole is evidently a fable and only shows the ignorance of the age of which it is recorded.’’

Mr. James Rimington, the steward of the Kaye’s in the late days of the 17th century, married Sarah Kay on the 8th day of November, 1683, and died on the 16th of December, 1696.

Mr. Taylor Dyson, in ‘‘The Woodsome Hall Golf Club Official Handbook,’’ says that the latest version of Rimington’s ghost is, ‘“Two present members, going down the drive in the small hours of the morning after one of the winter dances, saw a phantom shape swinging a golf club and murmuring ‘I missed every d dirive’.’’(!)

(3) While making researches in the history of Fixby Hall some years ago, I was told an obviously fabricated legend purporting to relate to a former member of the Thoma family (Lords of the Manor of Fixby) :—

An aged member of this family had taken unto himself a charming but young wife. In course of time she became wearied of her ancient spouse and became enamoured with the advances

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(Reprodueed by courtesy of the Prceprietors of the


Huddersfield Examiner


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of a young gallant who visited the Hall on every possible occasion and most of all when the husband was absent. Unfortunately, the old gentleman was taken ill and was compelled to remain in his room. One evening, however, he heard noises in the drawing room below; suspecting burglars, he ventured downstairs taking his pistol with him. On entering the drawing room, no thieves were to be found, but his wife philandering with her lover. Ina towering rage, he lifted his pistol, intending to shoot the miscreant, but unfortunately shot his wife through the heart. T he ‘legend”’ relates that the ghost of this lady walks in the smoke room of the Golf Club at certain times of the year!

All this is sheer invention, a consultation of Mr. J. W. Clay’s pedigree of the Thornhill family shows little disparagement between the ages of the various Thornhills and their wives for at least three centuries, and certainly not during the period which the present Hall has been in existence, probably in the middle of the 18th century.

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Legends about the Devil, his haunts and his exploits, are very prevalent throughout the country and on the continent, as witness such place names as The Devil’s Arrows (Boroughbridge), The Devil’s Throat (Cromer Bay), The Devil’s Bridge (in Switzer- land), the Devil’s Dyke, the Devil’s Den (Marlborough in Wilt- shire), The Devil’s Hole (in Jersey), The Devil’s Leap at Netherton.


One legend concerning His Satanic Majesty with respect to this district says that the Devil, when he first stepped on this earth, “‘hopped from West Nab to Broadstone, on Honley Moor, strode thence to Scar Top at Netherton and jumped to Castle Hill where he is said to have wandered in the underground passages in its interior.”’

It has been suggested that this legend may contain a veiled reference to the cruelties perpetrated at the Castle in former days of which there is a documentary account of one which took place in the year 13807. (Hobkirk’s ‘‘History of Huddersfield,’’ 2nd Edition, p. 122).

Scar Top, at Netherton, is a remarkable projecting ledge of rock standing some six feet above the sloping ground. From its top a very fine view of the Mag Valley extending to Meltham can be seen. On its somewhat flat surface is an imprint of a footprint, which, so tradition relates, is the mark of the Devil’s foot as he leapt to Castle Hill.

This spot was most notorious in early nineteenth century days; on Sundays, it was the scene of gambling schools playing pitch and toss; on winter week—nights, it was the rendezvous of unruly youths ever ready to pass rude remarks to casual pedes- trians.


Over a hundred and fifty years ago, there lived at Roydhouse in the township of Shelley a lawyer of the name of Wright. Tradition related that he was most ruthless and grasping, ‘‘robbing the fatherless, widows and the poor.’’ In spite of his greed, he accumulated money on all sides, until one night, so the story goes, he suddenly disappeared and was never seen again.

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Local tradition held that Wright had sold himself to the Devil and that when the lawyer’s time was “‘up,’’ the Devil came to the moment, arrived in a coach, drawn by two horses breathing fire from their nostrils and leaping twelve yards at every step. * This Satanic procession stopped in front of Wright’s house; the Devil got out of his coach and entered the house, proceeded to the lawyer’s room and carried off the struggling miser in his arms. Moaning and groaning and bewailing his fate, he was rushed into thé Devil’s coach, which, once the door was closed, drove off at full speed in the same way as it had come to the house!

After this mysterious disappearance of the avaricious lawyer, no one dared go into the room from which he had been carried off by the Devil; ‘‘folks,’’ so the story went, ‘‘were afraid they would never come out alive.’’ In this room was a ‘‘kist’’ or chest con- taining the lawyer’s papers. It was not until the early years of this century that two men ventured to go into this room (one of them was the brother of Mr. F. Lawton, of Skelmanthorpe). The ‘floor of the room was covered with dust to a depth of three inches and the chest was in a similar condition. It was opened and his documents removed, one of which is now in Mr. F. Lawton’s possession and dates 1760. 3

Dr. H. J. Morehouse, in his ‘‘History of Kirkburton,’’ gave an account of Roydhouse (pp. 95, 96) but makes no reference to the above tradition. yes


The following story is told concerning *‘Old Nick in Quarmby”’ in the year 1863, but other localities in the vicinity of Huddersfield are also credited with having been the scene of the episode which “may, or, may not, be true :— Ns ‘A religious body used to meet weekly in at Quarmby, the officiating layman usually standing on a tub or truss of hay to address’ the assembled worshippers. One evening in January, 1863, a party of itinerant musicians came to the locality, amongst them being an African trumpeter, ‘‘as black as The “musicians spotted the barn and thinking to have cosy and comfort- able lodgings for the night, straightway took possession. They had scarcely settled themselves upon their beds of hay when the door of the barn opened, and to their consternation, the floor was soon: filled with worshippers. A I The preliminary proceedings were duly carried out and one brethren stood upon an overturned provender ‘tub and took -for ‘‘The trumpet shall sound.’’ He discoursed upon the © sentence and frequently repeated the words in the hearing of the speechless musicians lying in the hay loft. After many repetitions of the text, the negro trumpeter whispered to the leader of the

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band that he would like to sound his trumpet as an accompaniment to the text. The leader, at first, refused permission, but eventually told the trumpeter that he might give them one exhibition of his powers.

Shortly after this, the preacher thundered, ‘‘The trumpet shall sound.’’ The black trumpeter, on the alert, got to his feet, approached the edge of the hay loft, and gave a volume of sound which made the barn quake. The effect was instantaneous ; speechless terror seized the congregation, as, on looking up, they saw the nigger and hurriedly came to the conclusion that the last trumpet had really sounded and that the Devil had come to claim them as his own! I

The terror—stricken worshippers fled, fully believing that the Day of Judgment had arrived. One, however,'a cripple remained, for by reason of his crutches, he could not make a hurried exit. He turned his face at what he imagined was the Devil, and, in implor- ing tones, exclaimed :

devil, have mercy on me, I’m not a regular attender here, and if you’ll nobbut let me off this time, I’ll promise never to come here again’’(! !)


The Church at Fone, Tyas is dedicated to St. Lucius who is said to have been the first Christian King of Britain, concerning whom, Bede, in his ‘‘Ecclesiastical History of Britain’’ relates that this monarch sent to Rome to Pope Eleutherius asking permission to be converted to Christianity by mandate about A.D. 156 :—

‘‘How Lucius, King of Britain, writing to Pope Eleutherius,

- desired to be made a Christian.’’

‘‘In the year of our Lord, 156, Marcus Antoninus Verus, the fourteenth from Augustus, was made Emperor, together with his brother, Aurelius Commodus. In their time, whilst the holy Eleutherius presided over the Roman Church, Lucius, King of Britain, sent a letter to him, entreating that by a mandate from him he might be made a Christian. He soon obtained his pious request, and the Britons preserved the faith, which they had received, uncorrupted and entire, in peace and tranquility, until the time of the Emperior Diocletian.’’ (Book I., Chapter iv.).

As Eleutherius became Pope between A.D. 171—A.D. 177, _ Bede’s chronology 1s inaccurate,

: The foundation stone of Farnley Tyas Church was laid on May 17th, 1838. At the head of the Order of Service appeared the following :—

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(Reproduced by courtesy of the Proprietors of the ‘* Huddersfield Examiner’’)

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‘‘The above name is given to this Church in commemoration of King Lucius, the first Christian Monarch of this realm, who was admitted into the Church, by baptism, in the second century, and made Christianity the religion of the Kingdom; and in so doing made the church, or Apostolic Community, coincident with the Commonwealth. The nation thus becoming in its King a Church Nation, and the Church the civil polity of the Kingdom.’’ (Quoted by Canon C. A. Hulbert, ‘‘Annals of Almondbury,’’ p. 268).

Canon Hulbert further added that the then Earl of Dartmouth, LL.D., F.S.A., (1784-1853) the founder and patron of the Church himself an antiquary, as well as a churchman, would approve of these reasons.’’

On the other hand, a good many modern authorities consider the story of Lucius’s being the first Christian Monarch of Britain to be fabulous. It is doubtful whether there was a King of that name in the second century A.D. In that era, Rome was the dominant factor in Britain, and, as yet, had not accepted Christian- ity as its official religion, although Christian rites were being practised in the country, having been introduced by Roman soldiers. It is said, too, that the King Lucius mentioned in connection with the above story was king of Edessa in Asia Minor.

There is, however, a story in connection with St. Lucius’s Church, Farnley Tyas, which is worth reproducing here, although it is not a legend :—

Canon Hulbert, in the work quoted above, said that the Church had ‘‘the Bishop’s licence for marriages within the town- ship.’”’ But there is reason to believe that there was some irregularity in connection with this licence, or it may have lapsed, for when the late Canon W. Foxley Norris, (later Dean of West-— minster) became the Vicar of Almondbury Parish Church in 1888, in which parish the former Conventional District of St. Lucius, Farnley Tyas, then lay, he discovered to his great horror, that the Church of St. Lucius had not been properly licensed for marriages and that consequently all those which had _ been solemnised there since 1840 were illegal and hence tnat the children born from such unions were illegitimate. He confided his discovery to the late Sir Arthur Brooke, M.A., J.P., and between them they obtained an Act of Parliament whereby all the marriages were legalised and the children duly made legitimate.


A tradition has been handed down that Paulinus, later the Archbishop of York, who converted the inhabitants of Northumbria to Christianity in 627 A.D. visited Dewsbury and built a church

Page 28

Or Ce ee Nang i) vs Te ah A I) I i My rts pees Gaze woe Pe ‘ a N ne ; ye etn en J a hy MD ii a v7

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Drawing by the late a Prof. W. G. Collingwood, M.A.

me IF: Ee


I i) re iSsii f ‘produced by kind permiss PAULINUS Ai A) v P ion a of the Tolson Memorial Cross. aes

Museum Committee.

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there. In Pre-Reformation times there existed in that church an ancient Anglican Cross on which was inscribed, ‘‘Paulinus hic praedicavit et celebravit’’. (Here Paulinus preached and celebrated Mass) ;—a replica of this cross is to be seen at the Tolson Memorial Museum at Ravensknowle.

This visit of Paulinus to the West Riding was for long held to be an historical fact, and credence was given to it by Camden’s statement ‘in ‘‘Magna Britannia’’ (1584) that Paulinus had built a cathedral church on the top of Castle Hill—a remark now known to be unsubstantiated.

Modern historical research is inclined to be sceptical concern— ing this visit of Paulinus to our district. The late Professor W. G. Collingwood, in his book ‘‘The Angles, Danes and Norse in Huddersfield,’’ (Museum Handbook No. 2, p. 11), disposed of the visit of Paulinus in these words :—

‘He, Paulinus, went up and down the country from thence, (Doncaster) to the north of Bernicia (Northumberland), preaching and baptising for six years more (i.e., till 683 A.D.). There was time for him to come to Dewsbury as tradition says, but his mission was to the Pagan Angles, not to the Britons, who were already Christian, though regarded by him and other Romans as heretics. We have already seen that there are no Anglian remains in our district, and there was, therefore, nothing to attract him here.’’

The antiquarians and historians of the last century and even of the present, have made great capital of this supposed visit of Paulinus to this locality. They put forward a theory that after his sojourn here, a number of wayside crosses were erected which © were later used as preaching stations.

(a) In this connection, Mr. Taylor Dyson, M.A., in his of Huddersfield’’ (p. 23) says :—

‘Tt has also been possible to trace the pilgrim’s road from Dewsbury to Almondbury via Kirkheaton, the road along which pilgrims walked to Dewsbury and along which preachers were sent out from there to the outlying districts. This road was at one time marked by crosses to denote preaching stations, and, in all probability, the Ordnance Map of to-day recalls these spots by such names as Broken Cross (Almondbury), Fenay Cross, and Fancy Cross (Kirkheaton).”’

This hypothesis is very interesting, but, I am afraid, very untenable, for two of the above Crosses, Broken Cross and Fenay Cross, seem to have had some connection with the religious house of St. Nicholas which stood somewhere in Kaye Lane, and which is mentioned in the Inquisition held into the Manor of Almondbury in 1584. Fancy Cross derived its name from the fact that a former weaver of fancy cloth of cross pattern owned the property in this

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I KZ 4 4 1} J Y Vv A VU ; YR ‘ Pf) ; > Aye 4 = j i i) 7) ag U0 Ins Yi BES \4 oe, 7 ee’ A AY VZ — Ly WA

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(Drawings by the late Professor W. G. Collingwood. M.A., reproduced by kind permission of the Tolseon Memorial Museum Committee)

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locality, and, from this circumstance, the three houses bear the name of Fancy Cross.

(b) The late Mr. J. Horsfall Turner, in his ‘‘History of Brig— house,- Rastrick and Hipperholme,’’ (p. 20), also mentioned a = second line of Crosses along the Roman road which was supposed to lead from Slack (Outlane) to York :—

follow the crown of this road we are struck with the number of crosses that were erected along its borders, some of which remain to this day, while others have only left a name to be remembered by. Thus, we have near Slack, Haigh Cross; in Rastrick Church, Rastrick Cross ; CRSP and the Roman Road, Walton Cross ; in Birstall Churchyard, the base of another small cross”’ (loc. cit-p. 20). Further, when discussing the introduction of Christianity into this district by Paulinus (a

fact now discredited, as stated above), he wrote ‘‘The Crosses _ already referred to, are probably our oldest Christian relics.’’

Here again, a careful investigation into the origin of these Crosses on the Lindley-Rastrick Road reveals the facts that two of them are decidedly modern; the Haigh Cross was re-erected by Thomas Thornhill in 1808 and replaced an earlier boundary cross; the Maplin Cross was probably erected_after 1811; the Rastrick Cross was probably set up in 12th century days, while the Walton Cross, a late Anglian Cross, dates probably from the middle of the 10th century. I

(c) The Cross on the lawn of the Vicarage of Christ Church at Woodhouse, Sheepridge, was also regarded as one of those which had been similarly set up after the supposed visit of Paulinus.

The late Rev. A. Whorlow, a former vicar of Christ Church, in a letter, informed me that some archeologists were of the opinion that it had been erected as stated above, and added: “‘It was often called the Paulinus Cross. This was most interesting because I was given the Paulinus Stall at Wakefield Cathedral.”’

But this Cross is a part of one which formerly adorned the gable end of a church, or had been part of its fabric. The ‘‘trans— portation”? of this cross at Woodhouse occurred at some date during the vicariate of the Rev. Robert Crowe, M.A., F.R.A.S. (1851-1898), and it must have been standing on the vicarage lawn when Hobkirk first described it in his ‘‘History of Huddersfield.”’ The Rev. Crowe ‘‘imported’’ this Cross from a church in the East Riding of Yorkshire with which he had been connected in his early days (but whether as a boy or as a clergyman, I have not been able to ascertain, nor have I been able to discover from which church it was taken), and placed it on the lawn in front of his house to mark the site of the burial place of a pet dog which had belonged to his wife ! I

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THE HaicH Cross.

Photo by Mr. G. Lockwood.

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Many legends are related of this medizeval hero whose name is associated with Kirklees Priory where he was bled to death, so tradition says, by the Prioress of that religious house ; his remains so we are told, being covered at the moment by a huge railed-in stone on which the following inscription can now be read :

‘‘Hear underneath dis laitl stean, Laz Robert earl of Huntingdon, Neer arcir ver az hie sa geud An pipl kauld im Robin heud, Sick utlauz az hi an iz men Vil england nivr si Obiit 24 Kal Dekembris 1247.”

The identity of Robin Hood has been the subject of much controversy. Was he a real person? Was hea myth? Or was he a combination of both? When did he live? Is the present railed—in stone the precise site of his burial place? Is the in— scription on his grave contemporary? These and many other questions regarding Robin Hood are problems which have baffled historians and antiquarians for several centuries.

According to Dr. E. C. Brewer in his ‘Dictionary of Phrase and Fable’’ (p. 754), he is first mentioned by the Scottish historian Fordun, who died in 1386. But the oldest reference to Robin Hood in literature is to be found in the second edition of ‘‘Piers Plow- man’’ (written in 1377), in which the figure of Sloth is represented as saying : ‘“‘T can noughte perfitly my paternoster, as the prest it syngeth, But I can rymes of Robyn Hood, and Randolf, Earle of Chester.’’


(a) Richard Stow, the Elizabethan antiquarian, says he was an outlaw during the reign of Richard [. (1189-1199). He enter- tained one hundred tall men, all good archers, with the spoil he took, but ‘‘he suffered no woman to be oppressed, violated, or otherwise molested, poore men’s goods he spared, abundantlie relieving them with that which by theft he got from abbeys and houses of rich carles (earls).”’ He was an immense favourite with the common people on account of his unbounded generosity.

(b) Stukeley says Robin Hood was Robert Fitzooth, Earl of Huntingdon, born at Locksley in Nottingham in 1160 and that he was the last of the Saxon or Anglian noblemen holding out against the Norman régime as late as the end of the 12th century. Sir Walter Scott, in ‘‘Ivanhoe,’’ adopts this version of his origin and makes him appear in the reign of Richard I., thus agreeing with Richard Stow. I

Page 34



(Reprcduced by courtesy of the Proprietors of the ** Huddersfield Examiner’’)

Page 35


(c) Another tradition says that Robin Hood and Little John were two heroes defeated by Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265.

(d) Fuller, in his ‘‘Worthies,’’ considers him to be an historical character.

(e) Thiers, the French historian, regards him as representing a class, namely, the remnant of the old Anglo-Saxon race which lived in perpetual defiance of the Norman monarchs since the days of Hereward the Wake.

(f) Others, including the Rev. Joseph Hunter, maintain that he was a supporter of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in his rebellion against Edward II., in 1322, and that he suffered outlawry in con- sequence. The Rev. Hunter’s conclusions will be considered in further detail shortly.

I (g) Many historians consider the whole story a pure myth from beginning to end and regard it as a simple folk-lore tale. In their opinion, Robin Hood represents Hod, the old Saxon god, Woden, the god of the wind; Maid Marian is Morgen, the Maiden of the Dawn; Friar Tuck is Toki, the Spirit of Frost and Snow, - and so on.

(h) Some students of primitive religions have regarded the story of Robin Hood as an early attempt to popularize (or teach) the principles of Christianity by combining its leading exponents in New Testament days with the heroes of an ancient folk—lore story which was associated with Druidism, or Mithraism, or the religion of the Angles, Saxons or Danes. According to their theories, Robin Hood is Our Lord, who was crucified at the insti- gation of the Jewish priests, but His counterpart suffers martyr- dom at the hands of a medizeval abbess; Little John is St. John the Divine, the beloved Disciple who was present at the Crucifixion; Friar Tuck is St. Peter and Maid Marian is the Blessed Virgin Mary. This theory is akin to one of the derivations of, ‘‘Punch and viz., ‘‘Pontius cum Judzis,’’ an old mystery play of Pontius Pilate and the Jews.

(i) At this stage, it is advisable to quote from D:. Whitaker’s ‘“‘Loidis and Elmete’’ (written in 1816, pp. 307-309). Dr. Whitaker believed in the existence of Robin Hood as an outlaw :—‘‘There is one tradition attached to Kirklees by which more than the beauty of its site the name has been rescued from the oblivion into which other smaller monastic foundations have fallen. This is the death and interment of Robin Hood, whose very existence has been doubted in these sceptical days. Yet the story is substantially true—that an outlaw and deer-stealer of that name, or of one resembling it, did really exist in the beginning of the thirteenth century and committed many of the outrages imputed to him on the confines of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire—that, in the

Page 36

THE GATE House, KIRKLEES PARK. (Reproduced by courtesy of the Proprietors of the


Page 37


general want prevailing at that time of medical assistance, except from females, he should have applied to a woman of this house (Kirklees priory) for phlebotomy (=bleeding)—and that a nun should have thought herself, instead of being guilty of the basest treachery, meritoriously employed in suffering a mischievous patient to bleed to death, are characteristic and probable circum- stances almost impossible to have been invented.’’

“With respect to the general proof of his existence and adventure, the testimony of Piers Ploughman, within 120 years of his decease, appears to be decisive. At that time many persons must have been alive who had conversed with the companions of those adventurers; or they must have known them to be a fiction. For these reasons, I have no doubt that this celebrated outlaw lived the life and died the death which tradition has uniformly delivered from age to age. The testimony of Leland, who speaks of Kirklees as the place ‘ubi nobilis ille exlex sepultus’ (where that well-known outlaw is buried) is satisfactory as to the tradition in the reign of Henry VIII.”’

“It is no small confirmation of this opinion that the spot pointed out as the place of his interment is beyond the precincts of the nunnery, and therefore not on consecrated ground. He was buried as a robber and outlaw—out of the peace of the Church.”

‘With respect to the title, Earl which Stukeley, who loved to support the wildest hypotheses, has labored to bestow on his fancied hero, I think it more probable that it was bestowed upon him from the nature of his occupation. The same is my opinion of the word ‘Hood’ which appears to be nothing more than an abbreviated and indistinct pronunciation of ‘a Wood’—‘of the Wood.’ For the same reason, one of his companions was ‘George a’ Green’.”’

Dr. Whitaker’s conclusions on Robin Hood can be summarised. thus :—He was an outlaw, not of noble birth; in his old age, he went to Kirklees to seek bleeding ; the prioress, knowing who he was, determined to get rid of one who had robbed abbeys and priories ; he ultimately died and was buried in the unconsecrated part of the Nunnery grounds.

(j) On the other hand, the Rev. Joseph Hunter, in 1852, wrote a monograph entitled ‘‘The Great Hero of Ancient Minstrelry of England, Robin Hood, his period and character investigated, etc.’’

In this Essay, Mr. Hunter came to these conclusions a

is Robin Hood a mere poetic conception, a beautiful abstraction of the life of a jovial freebooter living in the woods, nor one of those fanciful beings, creatures of the popular mind springing in the very infancy of northern civilization . . . but a person who had a veritable existence quite within historic time . . .

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‘‘Not, however, a Saxon struggling against the Norman power in the first atid second reigns of the House of Anjou, nor one of the exheredati (=disinherited or dispossessed) of the reign of Henry III., but one of the contrariantes (= rebels) of the reign

of Edward and living in the early years of the reign of Edward

‘That he was born in a family of some station and respecta— bility seated at Wakefield or in the villages round; that he, as many others, partook of the popular enthusiasm which supported the Earl of Lancaster, the great Baron of these parts; who, having attempted in vain various changes in the Government, at length broke out into open rebellion, with many persons, great and small, following his standard ; that tien the Earl fell there was a dreadful proscription, a few persons who had been in arms, not only escaped the hazards of battle, but the arm of the executioner; that he was one of these, and that he protected himself against the authorities of the times, partly by secreting himself in the depths of the woods of Barnsdale, or the forest of Sherwood, and partly by intimidating the public officers by the opinion which was abroad of his unerring bow, and his instant command of assistance from numerous com— rades as skilled in archery as himself.

‘‘That he supported himself by slaying the wild animals found in the forests, and by levying a species of blackmail on passengers along the great road from London to Berwick, occasionally seizing upon treasure which was being conveyed along the road .. . but a courtesy which distinguishes him from ordinary highway - men; that he continued this course for about twenty months— April, 1822, to December, 1323... when he fell into the hands of the King (Edward II.) personally, and was made one of the ‘valets, porteurs de la chambre’ (household valets or porters) in the royal household, which office he held for about a year, when he again returned to the ‘greenwood shade,’ where he lived for an’ uncertain time, and at last resorted to the Prioress of Kirklees, his own relative, for surgical assistance, and in that priory he died and was

buried.’’ (Quoted by Hobkirk, in his ‘‘History of Huddersfield,’’ 2nd Edition, pp. 80, 81).

Thus wrote the Rev. Joseph Hunter in 1852, and in support of his hypothesis, quoted from the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, of the reign of Edward II., in which there is a record

of one Robert Hood living in the town, and having business at the Manorial Court.

Among these entries in the Wakefield Court Rolls is the following under the year 1316, ‘‘Amabel Brodehegh sues Robert for. 7d., regarding one half rood of land which the wet Robert had granted to Amabel for a term of six years.’

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Again, in the Royal ‘‘Journal de la Champre”’ (Household Accounts), there are references of wages being paid to Hode”’ as one of the valets, these begin about the time he is sup- posed to have entered the King’ s service and terminate about the period he is supposed to have returned to Barnsdale. ‘

I am inclined to think that the Rev. Joseph Hunter has en— deavoured to combine the valet Robert (or Robyn) Hood with the hero of popular romance Not one of the ballads and MSS. relat- ing to Robin Hood ever makes reference to his having been in the Royal service in the form of a menial. Moreover, the date assigned to him by Hunter in late 13th century and early 14th century times is in disagreement with those who place Robin Hood in the days of Richard I., King John and Henry III.


There are no less than three MSS. sources describing Robin ~Hood’s end at Kirklees Priory :—

(i) The Sloane MSS. in the British Museum which reads thus :

‘‘Being distempered with could and age he had great payne in his lymnes, his blood being corrupted, therefore, to be eased of his payne by ietting bloud, he repayred to the priores of Kyrkesley, which some say was his aunt, a woman very skylful in physique and surgery, who perceyiving him to be Robyn Hood, and waying (=recognising) how fell (=deadly) an enimy he was to religious persons, toke revennge of him for her own howse, and: all others by letting him bled to death. It is also said that one, Sir Roger de Doncaster (a priest) bearing grudge to Robyn for some injury, incyted the priores, with whom he was very in such a manner to dispatch him.’

(ii) ‘A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode,”’ printed by the celebrated Wynkyn de Worde about the year 1495. The full title of the first edition reads thus : ‘‘Here beginneth a mery geste of Robyn Hode and his meyne and of the proude Sheryle of Notyngham.’’ ‘‘— Kynge Edwarde and Robyn Hode and Lytell John, emprented at London, in Flete Street, at the sygne of the son. By ea de Worde. ”

According to those who assert that Robin Hood is a later period than usually ascribed, the mention of ‘‘Kynge Edwarde”’ on this title page confirms their statements.

Hobkirk, on this point, wrote:

‘‘The only Edward in whose reign he could have lived must have been Edward II., as the poem states that the King met Robin at Sherwood, when he was staying through Lancashire. Now

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Edward I. was never in Lancashire after he ascended the throne, and Edward III. never in his life ; whilst it is certain that Edward II. in making a tour through his dominions after the execution >f the Earl of Lancaster (in 1322), to learn the state of his deer parks, came to Nottingham after he had passed through Lancashire, on the 9th November, 1823. Thus we may conclude Robin was in the height of his power about 1323, when he was taken to London into the service of the (‘‘History of Huddersfield,’’ Second Edition, p. 83). From this paragraph, it will be seen that Hobkirk supported the Rev. Joseph Hunter’s view that Robin Hood lived in the days of Edward II. Hobkirk then concluded :—

‘‘How in the face of all this testimony so many of our school histories of England, which are mere compilations (!), should place him in the reign of Richard I., I cannot conceive, except they have taken it from the date on the spurious epitaph at Kirklees, and then copied one from another.’’

Against this view, Mr. Taylor Dyson, in his “‘History of Huddersfield and its District’? (p. 323), says, ‘‘It is impossible to place him (Robin Hood) as late as the reign of Edward II., for this would leave no time for the myth to grow, and it was fully grown by the first half of the 14th century.” I

The ‘‘Lytell Geste’’ gives a different motive for the treachery

of the Prioress, his relative, and which is not mentioned in a later ballad : I

Yet he was begyled, I wys, Through a wycked woman, The Pryoresse of Kirkesley, That nye was to him kynne.

For the love of a knyght, Syr Roger of Donkester, That was her owne speciall Full evyle mote they fare.

They toke tokyder theyr counsell, Robyn Hode for to sle, And how they myght best do that dede His banis (=ruin) for to be. _ Then bespak good Robyn, In place where as he stode, To-morrow I muste to Kyrkesley Craftely to be leten blode.

Sir Roger of Donkester, By the pryoresse he lay, And there they betrayed Good Robyn Hod Through thyr false playe.


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Cryst have mercy on his soule, That dyed on the rode (=Cross), For he was a good outlawe, And dyde (=did) pore men moch ssa a

(iii) ‘‘The Ballad of Robin Hood’s Death and Buriall.’? This is a later version in which the story of Robin Hood’s untimely end is told with much more picturesque effect :

‘* When Robin Hood and Little John, Went o’er yon bank of broom, Said Robin Hood to Little John We have shot for many a pound. But I am not able to shoot one shot more, My arrows will not flee :

But I have.a cousin lives down below, Please God, she will bleed me.”’

The Prioress, according to this Ballad, welcomed him with smiles and hospitality. When he declared

‘“T will neither eat nor drink Till I am blooded by thee.”’

_ She led him into a small private room, and then,

‘“ She blooded him the vein of the arm, And lock’t him up in the room, There did he bleed all the live-long day, Until the next day at noon.’’

~ Robin Hood then made an attempt to escape but found himself unable to do so, and then remembered his bugle ~—

‘* And blew out weak blasts three.’

This brought Little John to his aid, who breaking ‘‘locks two or three’’ found his way into his master’s presence. Little John, seeing how his old friend stood near death, begged to be allowed at' once “‘to burn fair Kirkley Hall and all their

‘“ “Now nay, now nay,’ quoth Robin Hood, ‘That boon I will not grant thee; 1 never hurt fair maid in all my time, Nor at my end shall it be :

‘But give me my best bow in my hand, And a broad arrow I'll let flee, And where this arrow is taken up, There shall my grave digg’d be.

‘Lay me a green sod under my head, And another at my feet : And lay my bent bow by my side, Which was my music sweet ; And make my grave of gravel and green, Which is most right and meet.

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Let me have length and breadth enough, With a green sod under my head; That they may say, when J am dead, ‘Here lies bold Robin Hood’

These words they readily promised him, Which did bold Robin please, And they buried bold Robin Hood Near to the fair Kirkleys.”’

This version makes Robin Hood shoot the arrow, and on the spot where it fell, he directed he should be buried. On the other hand, another story says that Robin Hood ordered Little John to fire the


As far back as 1584, Camden in his ‘‘Magna Britannia,”’ wrote: ‘‘The Calder . . . runs to Kirkley, heretofore a nunnery, thence to Robin Hood’s tomb, a generous robber, and very famous on that account’’ (p. 853). Also, on page 906 of the same work, Camden wrote: ‘‘This famous robber, Robin Hood, lies buried in the park near Kirklees Nunnery, in the West Riding, under a monument which remains to this day.”’

In the year 1665, a certain Dr. Nathaniel Johnstone visited Robin Hood’s grave and made a drawing thereof which (so the late Mr. S. J. Chadwick, of Dewsbury, wrote), was in the possession of the Rev. Fleming St. John, of Dismore, Hereford— shire. From this drawing, it would seem that, in that year, there were two distinct stones lying over the burial place of the famous outlaw :-—

(i) The actual gravestone.

(ii) A stone containing the well-known inscription which has already been quoted in full (p. 25).

The inscription on the gravestone of which a photograph of the drawing already referred to, appears in the Yorkshire Archzeo- logical Journal (Vol. 16, p. 336), contains the following words in Latin, written on three of its sides :—‘‘Here lie robard hode, Will™ Goldburgh Thoms.’’

At the time of the late Mr. S. J. Chadwick’s researches, this gravestone was so chipped that the inscription thereon was quite unintelligible. There is only a small fragment now remaining of the stone which originally covered the grave, and this is enclosed in an

iron enclosure to prevent further depredation. Mr. Chadwick, in his monograph on ‘‘The Kirklees Priory’’ (Y.A.J., Vol. 16, p. 336),

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(i) Dr. Nathaniel Johnstone’s Drawing of the Grave Stone of Robin Hood as it stood in 1665.

ii) The Inscription on the Grave Stone of Robin Hood.

(Photos by kind permission of the Couneil of the Yorkshire Archzological Sosiety)

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says that ‘‘chips of this stone were carried off by the navvies who made the neighbouring railway, and by others, not as a memento of Robin Hood, but as a cure for ( !)

Whitaker, in his ‘‘Loidis and Elmete’’ (1816) made the follow- ing observations upon the gravestone :

‘‘On the stone which was supposed to cover his remains, and which was entire in the year 1750, there was a cross of the precise form that was in use at the beginning of the thirteenth century.

it must be confessed, is somewhat perplexing. But the difficulty will be removed by reflecting that at the dissolution of the nunnery, many ancient gravestones would remain, and that the place of the outlaw’s interment being still notorious, and. popular, one of these might be removed thither to mark a place which, perhaps, an older memorial had ceased to record. More— over, this stone never had an inscription, and therefore either the epitaph first produced by Dr. Gale is spurious, or my hypothesis as to the gravestone is confirmed, or both.’’

I must confess that this last paragraph is rather confusing to the reader, but the ‘‘epitaph’’ mentioned by Whitaker refers to the inscription on the stone already quoted (p. 25).

Dr. Whitaker, in his next paragraph, continues : ‘‘I think the last (his hypothesis as to the gravestone being confirmed); for, firstly, a cross without a sword can originally have covered none other than an ecclesiastic, and secondly, the internal evidence is strongly against the genuineness of the epitaph. If it ever existed, it must have been an invention of some rhymer in times long sub- sequent to the object of it. And the spelling, so far as it deviates from common old English, is not according to the dialect of the West Riding, but of the North. On the whole I should think it a fabrication somewhere between the time of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, when the terms ‘outlaw’ and ‘archer’ were becoming familiar.’’

There can be no doubt whatever that the inscription stone forming one part of the present burial spot containing the original grase stone is not contemporary, and, according to some persons, more recent than the dates suggested by Dr. Whitaker. _

That it is not the original burial spot of Robin Hood (assuming the whole story to be true) was proved, first, by the late Sir “George Armytage, Bart., who had the structure removed and the soil examined for bones, &c., but nothing was found therein embedded to show that a burial had taken place there.

Secondly, the distance from the Gatehouse to this site is far too great, viz., 660 yards (so I have been informed). Again, this assumes that Little John fired the arrow that determined the spot where Robin Hood should be buried.

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(Reproduced from Dr. ‘ History of Loidis and Elmete’’).

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The whole of what has appeared above can be summarised thus, always assuming that Robin Hood died in the Gatehouse as the ballads suggest : The outlaw was buried in an unconsecrated part of the Priory grounds, and some kind of gravestone placed over his remains. After the Dissolution of the Priory, a tombstone of some ecclesiastic was put on the burial site, and perhaps removed to the spot now to be seen; at the same time or later, a second stone containing the “spurious” inscription was placed near to the ecclesiastical gravestone. I

As a matter of fact, the whole problem of the burial site and gravestone of Robin Hood bristles with difficulties, for example, Dr. Whitaker’s drawing of the original ecclesiastical gravestone differs from that of Dr. Nathaniel Johnstone.

In this account of ‘‘Robin Hood,’’ I have refrained from expressing a personal opinion on the historical accuracy of Robin Hood’s identity or not; 1 do not accept the Rev. Joseph Hunter’s view that he was a temporarily reformed outlaw and taken into the service of Edward I1., but on the other aspects of the hero’s life and death, I prefer to defer my verdict until documentary evidence is forthcoming to prove his real identity.

* *

Those interested further in the story of Robin Hood will find in the Huddersfield Public Library an anthology of all the Ballads relating to him in a book entitled ‘‘The Garland of Robin Hood,"’ published by Milnes and Sowerby, of Halifax.

V.—SIR RICHARD BEAUMONT, 1574-1631. (Black Dick).

He was the only son of Edward Beaumont, of Whitley Hall, and of Elizabeth Ramsden, the daughter of John Ramsden whose brother William.settled in Almondbury and began acquiring estates in the district; Sir Richard Beaumont was born at Whitley Hall on the 2nd of August, 1574, and was baptized at the Parish Church of Almondbury exactly one year later. His father died when he was only five months old, and, as his ancestral estates lay in two Manors of which Queen Elizabeth was then the Lady, he became her ward until he attained his majority.

The Beaumonts of Whitley up till 1631 held a ‘‘Moiety’’ of the former Manor of Huddersfield by a grant from Roger de Laci, Lord of the Honour of Pontefract, dating about the year 1200, when William de Bellomonte in return for his homage and service received 12 bovates (about 180 acres) of land, with their appurten— ances, together with a moiety of the demesne meadow of the town of Huddersfield, &c. By exchanges, purchases and intermarriages,

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Sir RICHARD BEAUMONT, 1574—16381.

(Photo from a print kindly presented to the writer by Capt. H. R. Beaumont)

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the Beaumonts of Whitley had considerably increased their possessions in the town and outskirts during the space of three hundred and fifty years. :

At the time of the Inquisition held into the Manor of Wakefield in 1577, when Black Dick was but three years old, the Jury reported that ‘“‘Sir William de Bellomonte formerly held one carucate of land (120 acres) in Huddersfield, then Henry Beaumont, then Thomas Beaumont, then Edward Beaumont, and now Richard Beaumont, Esq., who was a ward of the Lady Queen”’ (Elizabeth). Richard Beaumont was knighted by King James I. on the 23rd of July, 1609; on May 18th, 1613, he received a commission from that monarch to command a trained band of two hundred soldiers. From that date, he occupied a number of public offices in the County ; in 1618, he was created a J.P., and appointed by the Court of Quarter Sessions, Treasurer for the Lame Soldiers in the West Riding; in 1625, he became M.P. for Pontefract and on August 19th, 1628, he was created a Baronet by Letters Patent.

The tragedy of Sir Richard Beaumont’s life was his gradual disposal of his ancestral estates in the other ‘‘moiety’’ of the Manor of Huddersfield. In 1599, William Ramsden, Black Dick’s maternal uncle, purchased one moiety of the Manor from Queen Elizabeth for £965 Os. 9d., and it was only a question of time for that family to acquire the remaining half which belonged to Sir Richard Beaumont.

A tradition handed down in the Beaumont family states that Black Dick, in order to pay his gambling debts, gradually sold his Huddersfield estates to his uncle, thus in 1615, we find him selling cottages and lands in the town. In 1623, William Ramsden died and his son John Ramsden, afterwards Sir John Ramsden, succeeded to his father’s possessions, and added to these, the Manor of Almondbury, which he bought from Charles I. in 1627; the remaining ‘‘moiety’’ of the Manor of Huddersfield was pur- chased from Black Dick on the 4th of October, 1631. Sixteen days after this transaction, when he had parted with the whole of his Huddersfield estates, he breathed his last.

Black Dick made his will on the 22nd of August, 1631, and bequeathed all his estates in Whitley, South Crosland, Lepton and Sandal Magna to Thomas Beaumont (afterwards Sir Thomas) the son of his cousin Richard Beaumont of Lascelles Hall. He left two illegitimate daughters, Isabella Lees and Isabella Brown- wood, both of whom he remembered in his will.

It is not definitely known why he was nick—named Black Dick, some have said that it arose from the ‘“‘black deeds” he is alleged to have committed ; some think that it originated from the colour of his regimental tunic which he wore when he commanded his Band,’’ it has also been suggested that the term arose

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from the colour of his hair which was jet black, and, which, in James Basire’s engraving of Sir Richard Beaumont, is most prominently shown. ‘The artist depicts him as possessing a thick long moustache and a small pointed beard.

A handsome monument to his memory was erected by his second cousin, Sir Thomas Beaumont, on the north wall of the Beaumont Chapel. It is in the form of an arch surmounted by the coat of arms of the family, two other heraldic devices lie to the right and left of the tablet.

The following inscription appears on the tablet :


But in spite of this glowing tribute, tradition has given Black Dick a bad name; he is reported to have been a profligate, an inveterate gambler, a philanderer and even a highwayman; one of the legends which I have had related to me makes him a forerunner of Dick Turpin :— Black Dick, so the story goes, on one occasion, held up a stage coach on the Wakefield Road and robbed all the passengers of their jewellery and valuables. A certain friend of Sir Richard Beaumont, who was probably a highwayman himself, got to hear of this escapade of Black Dick, one night met the owner of Whitley in the secret passage which was supposed to lead from the Summer House to the Hall, and charged Black Dick with having committed this atrocious deed of waylaying innocent travellers, but added that he would not divulge the fact if Sir Richard handed over a large sum of money. Black Dick objected to being blackmailed, and the two men had a violent altercation resulting in both draw- ing their swords. In the ensuing conflict, Sir Richard Beaumont got the worst of the encounter for his former comrade chased him down the passage and eventually cut off his head with his sword.

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(Photo from the engraving in Dr. Whitaker's ‘* History of Loidis and Elmete’’)

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And so, the ghost of Black Dick is supposed to walk along the path leading from the Summer House to the Hall, ‘‘with his head tucked underneath his arm at the midnight hour’’ on the night of the 5th of July in every year.

But, as previously said, Sir Richard Beaumont died at Hall on the 20th of October, 1631 !

The Ghost of Black Dick, so Mr. Legh Tolson states in his ‘‘History of Kirkheaton,’’ was long a terror to the children of the village. He was said sometimes to leave his tomb in the Beau- mont Chapel of that Church, and

““Oft in the path along the graveyard wall were seen, By glimpse of moonbeams chequering through the trees. |. The schoolboys with their satchels in their hands, Whistling aloud to bear their courage up, And lightly tripping o’er the long flat stones, With nettles skirted and with moss o’ergrown, That tell in homely phrase who sleeps below. Sudden they start, and hear, or think they hear, The sound of something purring at their heels, Full fast they fly and dare not look behind them, Till out of breath they overtake their fellows, Who gather round and wonder at the tale Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly.”’


The episode of this Catholic priest originally appeared in an old chap-book printed at Otley about the year 1790, which gives an account of his stay at Newhouse Hall, Sheepridge, in the days when its owners, the Brookes, gave shelter and hospitality to ejected Catholic clergymen. The story of the priest’s murder 1s as follows :— ie:

In the district of Huddersfield in late Elizabethan days, there lived a popular priest named Hooker, although he was usually known as Hocker. He was much beloved by the inhabitants in the locality, but was driven from pillar to post by the soldiery ever on the look-out for Catholic priests.

Hooker, on one occasion, travelled from Brighouse to New, house, knowing that he would be welcome within its precincts. Whenever pikemen came to search the Hall, he was hidden in one of the secret panels or in the underground passage which led to the wood behind it. He stayed at Newhouse Hall for some weeks, and, when all seemed quiet, he departed, hoping to reach Fixby Hall, where he knew he would receive similar protection, and could administer the rites of Catholicism to its owners. However, on his way thither, he was brutally murdered sid some soldiers in a lane leading to the Hall.

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It appears that a poem in doggerel verse giving an account of Father Hocker was also written, but, unfortunately, both the poem and the chap-book are irretrievably lost.

It has been suggested that the Ochre Hole Road which forms part of the boundary of Fixby Park may have been called after the name of this priest, but it is more likely that the Ochre Hole is called after the flows under it, as, after : a heavy fall of rain, the water is sometimes ochre-coloured.


During the stormy days of the Civil War, 1642—1648, so tradition states, there lived at Newhouse Hall, a most beautiful damsel, one of the Misses Brooke. She was beloved by many beaux, ‘but most of all by a young cavalier who lived at Toothill, half-way between Newhouse and Brighouse. Amongst her numerous admirers, she seemed to have favoured this gallant more than the others. Unfortunately this wooer received no encour- agement from the girl’s father, who objected most strongly to this young gentleman paying attentions to his Se and sternly forbade him to come near the Hall..

The lovers, however, determined to communicate with each other, even in those days before the introduction of telephones, telegraphs, and postage stamps. The Toothill lover had a remarkably clever hound by means of which he sent amatory epistles to the fair lady at Newhouse. The hound sped across from Toothill to Newhouse and waited at a leaded window in the kitchen of the Hall. Here the lady took the letter from the dog’s mouth and inserted one which she had written for his master. This means of communication proceeded for several weeks, but, one moonlight night, when the dog brought his master’s love- letter, no beautiful lady appeared at the window pane; instead, there stood her irate father, who lifted his sword, and, with one fell swoop, cut off the dog’s head, and, in so doing, split the letter

- into two pieces. The hound immediately turned tail and ran back headless through the wood! And so, on moonlight nights, in the

fall of the year, this headless hound can be seen madly careering through Felgreave Wood, and ‘whosoever sees this dog, to him misfortune shall befall.’’ .

When the fair damsel received no further news from her lover, and was subsequently informed by her father of the fate of the dog, she walked up and down the corridors, from. one room into another, gradually lost her reason, and eventually died of a broken heart !

It is said that the chost of the decid Miss Brooke wanders along the upstairs corridor and in the upper rooms of Newhouse. Maids who had lived at the Hall in the middle of the last century,

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Photo by the late Mr.


Isaae Hordern.



before 1865



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: I I I


positively declared that they had seen the ghost of this lady, while one, who had been in service there for thirteen years and had never seen the apparition, yet affirmed that she could hear the rustle of a silk dress at nights. Others have said that they had felt her ‘“‘spirit,’’ and one former resident, now deceased, is said to have screamed at odd times, exclaiming that she was being clutched by some unseen hand !

A sequel to the above tradition relates that the Toothill lover on hearing of the outrageous beheading of his faithful hound, for- sook the cause of Charles I., whom he had hitherto loyally sup- ported, and became an ardent adherent of Oliver Cromwell !

Over fifty years ago, many of the inhabitants of Sheepridge were terrified to walk into the woods surrounding Newhouse Hall lest they should encounter the headless hound, which was supposed to career madly through the woods up and down Wiggan Lane!

The legends of Father Hooker and Sybil Brooke were origin- ally communicated to me by Mr, George Fox, of Byram Street,

and were printed in my booklet on “Newhouse (pp. 55— 57), now out of print.


Legends concerning the supposed visits of the Protector to Huddersfield and District are numerous :—

(a) The first is that he slept at Newhouse Hall, Sheepridge, after the Battle of Marston Moor, 1644, on his way to Manchester.

This story is hardly likely to stand the test of veracity, as in that year, its owner, Joshua Brooke, (1614-1652) lived at New- house. The Brookes were ardent Royalists, and it is difficult to conceive how they would have received Oliver Cromwell as a welcome guest. Nor would the latter in 1644 have adopted such a high-handed method of commandeering a private dwelling-house, as he had not. yet been made Lord—General of the Parliamentary Forces. It must, however, be stated that Joshua Brooke’s daughter, Sarah, married John Gill, a member of a well known Parliamentarian family. but this event happened in 1665.

(b) Another alleges that Oliver Cromwell commandeered the Dives House at Dalton and slept there one night. Tradition further states that he used the adjacent building to the farmstead as a prison in which he temporarily locked up some Royalist soldiers his forces had captured.

It would seem that the houses in which Oliver Cromwell is reported to have slept are as numerous as the oak trees in which Charles II. hid himself after the Battle of Worcester, for Thorn-—

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(Photograph from a very old print in the collection)

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= a


cliffe Grange at Emley is instanced as another of these homesteads ; at this house, he is supposed to have spent the night on a bed which stood almost adjacent to the then open tireplace, a most uncon.fort- able position for anyone to have had a night’s rest, let alone the future Protector of England. A third building which legend accorded him a night’s lodging was at the former ‘‘Three Nuns Inn’’ at Kirklees, demolished in 1939.

(c) Then again, Oliver Cromwell is stated to have rested on the steps of Highburton Cross, also on his way to Manchester.

(d) The most amusing of all the legends told concerning ‘‘Old Noil”’ is that after the Battle of Marston Moor he rode to Cromwell Bottom between Elland and Brighouse. Here ‘‘he took his horse to drink water of the horse-trough which stood by the way-side.’’

_(e). Mr. F. Lawton, of Skelmanthorpe. supplies me with the following :—

‘‘T heard old women tell that Oliver Cromwell came to Emley and did a torof damage, and that one of his soldiers was buried under the Teapot and Kettle, a famous former old Yew Tree. The old folks used to call him ‘Crummell.’ They said that when they were children, their mothers or grandmothers would call, ‘Yo’ mun cum in; ther’ll be ole Oliver Crummel cumin! He’ll tak’


How have these traditions arisen? Did Cromwell actually visit this district ? I

(a) In the first place, a careful perusal of the events of the Civil War during the years 1643 and 1644 in S. R. Gardiner’s of the Great has failed to reveal any such information.

(b) The writer of Oliver Cromwell’s life in the ‘‘Dictionary of National Biography’’ (Vol. XIII.) says that a good many fables are associated with the Protector, and that one of his earlier biographers, Mr. Sandford, had endeavoured to sift them out. The same observation seems to apply to Oliver’s supposed visits to this locality. I I

(c) All our former local historians are silent on these supposed visits although they make references to raids and skirmishes effected by the Parliamentary soldiers during the days of the Civil War. It is a fact that Cromwell attacked Sheffield and destroyed the Castle during the first Civil War, 1644, and it is also true that he stayed in the neighbourhood of Pontefract from November Ist to December 6th, 1648, and that during these few weeks he cogitated deeply on-the ultimate fate of Charles I.

It is probable that the legends associated with the name of Cromwell have arisen in one of two ways :—

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(Reproduced by courtesy of the Proprietors of the






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(a) The existence of the place-name Cromwell Bottom (or Crummell Bottom) between Elland and Brighouse, which, so some persons have conjectured, but wrongly, originated after the sup- posed visit of the Parliamentarian general to the horse-trough. But the place-name Cromwell Bottom is much older than Oliver __Cromwell, who was born in 1599. In a Yorkshire Deed dated 1277, it is spelt Crumbewellebotham; in one of the Wakefield Court Rolls of I320,1€1s written Crumwelbothume, while in 1332, it appears as Cromwelbotham in a Roll of that year. Mr. Armitage Goodall, in his work on ‘‘Place Names in South West Yorkshire’’ (p. 111), says that Crumwell is ‘‘the Well at Crum,’’ and compares the name with the cognate place-names of Crimes, Crumbles, Crimble, etc.

(b) As stated above, there were certainly several raids in the vicinity of Huddersfield by Parliamentarian soldiers, and it is con- ceivable that the legends of these visits of Oliver Cromwell to. this locality arose by assuming, but without foundation, that he was in command of these troops :—

(1) On January 4th, 1648, about five hundred Roundheads from. Bradfield and ito Emley and took Michael, Greene, the Constable, prisoner, but released him after two days confinement. Seventeen days later, on the 2Ist, a thousand

teem ecm wns manne:

Parliamentarian soldiérs, under Captains Birkett and Bamford, raided Kirkby Grange at_Emley. where they commandeered ‘‘five_ pikes, three fowling pieces, some plate, money and all the horses but one.’’(!) They likewise visited the Réctory and took from the Rector, the Rev. Lawrence Farrington, his sheep and the — greater bulk of his books, while Mr, Hare, a lawyer, living at Thorncliffe Grange, had his documents destroyed. ‘“Many deare,’’ we are told by Ralph Assheton, who lived at Kirkby Grange and was a victim of their depredations, “‘were killed in the Park.’’ These raids seem to have been part of a foraging expedition.

(2) There is a record of a skirmish between the Royalists and__ the Parliamentarians at_the foot of Kirklees Wood in 1643. this record is preserved in an old black—letter pamphlet in the British Museum, so stated Mr. Frank Peel in his ‘‘History of the Spen Valley.’’

(3) A party of Parliamentarian soldiers was sent to Lane Head, Shepley,*to arrést John Firth, who, at one time, had “officer in a troop rafsed by one of the Bosvilles of Gunthwaite Hall. John Firth had been convertéd to the beliefs of the Society of Friends by George Fox, the Quaker preacher, and it is not known ‘whether he resigned his army post or not, but he became so obnoxious to the Parliamentarians that they sent a body of horse- men from Halifax to apprehend him. John Firth took refuge in

a disused quarry at Skelmanthorpe, but was discovered and taken

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(Reproduced by



courtesy of the Proprietors of the “Huddersfield Examiner’’)

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53 :

prisoner. He was mounted on the back of a horse behind one of the troopers and was about to be taken to Halifax, but as the arty was passing through a wood between Shelley and Kirk- _burton,. John Firth slipped off and escaped,

(4) Another party of Parliamentarian soldiers in January, 1644, from Woodhead, went in the night to the vicarage at Kirkburton, Batted off the Rev. Gamaliel Whitaker, the Vicar of the Parish Church to Manchester, ‘‘where he died in a month of grief and ill usage TT HOE known whether any resistance had been offered to these soldiers on the part of the Vicar and his household, but tradition states that Mrs. Whitaker v was shot in the staircase Of the parsonage.

Mr. F. Lawton, in his ‘‘Notes on the History of Skel- manthorpe,’’ states that this murder of the Vicar’s wife was com- mitted by the captain of the Cavalry sent to capture John Firth. ~ The former, on being exasperated at having lost his prisoner, ‘emptied

hi js_arquebus through the staircase window Which faces the road.

The vicar’s wife was descending the stairs at the time, with a light

in her hand, and, whether intentionally or not, the captain shot her dead.”’ The Parish Church Register of Kirkburton has the following record :—‘‘Hester Whitaker, wife of Gamaliel Whitaker,


vicar of Kirkburton who was slaine the 13th day at night January ~/

instant and was buried the 15th day, 1045-4." Dr. H. J. Moréhowse;in-his “History of Kirkburton,’’ (pp. 23, 24) relates the tradition that when the Parliamentarians were on their way to Kirkburton they called on the above Mr. John Firth, to direct them to the Vicarage. ‘‘That he was unwilling to do but was compelled to join them, and accordingly he had to mount on horseback behind one of the troopers. On their way, he, how- ever, seized a favourable opportunity and slipped off the horse, and took refuge in an adjoining wood, and thus freed himself from their unwelcome company.

Thus there are traditions about John Firth of Shepley Halli and Mrs. Whitaker of the Kirkburton Vicarage as well as of Oliver Cromweltt


Mrs. A. M. W. Stirling, in her ‘‘Annals of a Yorkshire House,’’ which deals with Cannon Hall, near Cawthorne, the Spencers, the Stanhopes and the Spencer Stanhopes who have lived there for several generations, tells a story of John Spencer (pp. 133—184), ‘‘with the reservation that an anecdote which re- sembles it has been preserved in another family. Mrs. Stirling

adds, ‘‘it is well authenticated so may be given here,’’ i.e., in her narrative :—

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54 .


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John Spencer was driving home one evening with the parson after a carousal in the neighbourhood, at which both had indulged freely in the pleasures of the table. As the old coach rumbled heavily along the lonely Yorkshire roads, to the Squire’s confused brain there came the alarming sound of a horse’s hoofs accom- panying the vehicle. The more he listened, the more convinced he became that the hoofs were following, not preceding the vehicle. At last he turned to his companion,

‘‘Parson,’’? quoth he, ‘‘do you hear that fellow pursuing us?”’ ‘“‘T do!’’ responded the parson, with bated breath,

‘°Tis a highwayman,’’ pronounced John Spencer with con- viction. ‘But I fear no man. Stop the coach, parson, and I will give the fellow a lesson he shall carry with him to his dying day !”’ Port, taken freely, disposes a man to be valiant, and John Spencer, despite the remonstrances of his servants, clambered out of the door, and stumbled round to the back of the coach. There, sure enough, in the dark, he encountered a man, a stout fellow, who set upon him furiously. The two fought and pum- melled each other, striking out manfully in spite of the fact that neither could see his antagonist, until finally the postillions, who had come to the rescue, succeeded in dragging off John Spencer, with the assurance that his enemy had fled.

Bleeding, but triumphant, the Squire clambered back into his coach, and there met the parson, equally dishevelled, crawling in

by the opposite door. ‘‘How now, parson?’’ panted the ex- hausted Squire, ‘‘were you, too, in iti with that terrible scoundrel ?’”’

“T could not leave you to be killed!’’ panted the parson bravely ; and the two heroes, grasping hands, compared notes of their bold exploit till they arrived at Cannon Hall, when they celebrated their victory in yet another bottle of port. I It was not until the next day that John Spencer learnt from his postillions that he and the parson, having left the coach by opposite doors, had met in the dark behind it, and fought each other in mistake for the highwayman, who existed only in the imagination of each !

X.—CHARLES EDWARD STUART, 1720-1788. (The Younger Pretender).

How far the Younger Pretender and his followers in their in- vasion of England in 1745, and after his retreat from Derby in 1746 on his return journey to Scotland, came near Huddersfield, is one of those problems which has baffled our local historians for many years. There are many traditions both concerning Bonny

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1720 — 1788.


by Le Toceque


fter the pa

ing @

From an engrav

y courtesy of Messrs. A. & C. Black, London)

(Reproduced b

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Prince Charlie and his straggling followers which have been handed down :— I . (i) Hobkirk, in his ‘‘History of Huddersfield,’’ (Second Edition, p. 145) makes the amazing assertion :—

“The furthest point south to which the Pretender advanced is still shown at Scottgate—head, néar Honley.”

On what authority Hobkirk based this statement is not known, he may have had access to Arthur Jessop’s MS. Diary in which under the date, December Ist, 1745, appears the following entry :

‘*It is certain that the Pretender came on Friday about 2 in the affernoon,” (Jessop does not say where the Pretender came). EE

There can be no doubt that the Pretender’s journey south caused great anxiety and consternation to the people in the vicinity of Huddersfield as witness the following entry in Jessop’s Diary under the date November 30th, 1745:

‘““‘We have heard this morning that a very great mob was arisen, and plundering all before them, and was got to Marsden and would be in Huddersfield this day, and they sent from Hud-— dersfield in the night to the Clothiers to fetch away their pieces, and they are gone for them soon this morning. They are in a terrible consternation in Huddersfield, Holmfirth, Wooldale, Scholes and all places hereabouts and are securing their best effects. And in Holmfirth they are getting their guns ready and Iron Forks, etc., and they are coming into Holmfirth from every side with they

Similar entries in Jessop’s Diary indicate that the people in the vicinity fully expected that Charles Edward Stuart was likely to raid Huddersfield and its outskirts.

Scotgate Head at Honley is supposed to have received this name from the fact that some of the Pretender’s followers were alleged to have penetrated there, as already remarked.

Mrs. M. A. Jagger in her “‘History of Honley’’ was rather sceptical_on_this—point bu ed_ th I rs_in Honle barricaded the steep hill known as Green Cliffe with bags of wool

at the time-of-the-Pretencer’s-cdownward March toa

ee ‘‘On the heights around, the sentries kept watch. The bottom portion of Green Cliffe still retains its name of ‘Sentry’ on account of_the narrow defile thus being guarded by _ soldiers. If the Younger Pretender sighted Honley, he entered from the opposite, direction when on his march over the moorlands. The place is still pointed out where he is supposed to have reached and named Scotgate Head. There may have been a skirmish of some kind with the Stuart followers, but there are no records, only oral traditions. No doubt, accounts brought into the village day by

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day would be vague and contradictory. If any of the followers of Charles Edward Stuart reached Scotgate, they would perhaps he stragglers bent on plunder to sustain themselves on what would be at that time a terrible march in the depth of winter.’

Mrs. Jagger, too, was of the opinion ‘‘that Scot-Gate Head was so named on account of offering the nearest way to and from or that it was the road used by the Moss=troopers” and then givés an account of one of these raids upon Honley. (‘‘History of Honley,”’ pp. 22-24).

(ii) Canon C. A. Hulbert in his ‘‘Annals of Almondbury”’ (p. 425), stated that he had_in his possession a claymore taken at glaithwaite Old Hall from a Scotch rebel endeavouring to get back te his own country; and that it matched one similarly taken by his own ancestor Joseph Mottershead, at his residence of Northern Etchels in Cheshire, at the same period, when Prince Charles Edward advanced to Derby. The had been pre- served at the Old Hall until Canon Hulbert obtained it.

(iii) There seems a possibility, said the late Mr. W. E. Haigh, _ in his of Huddersfield,’’ (p. 157), that some of the Pre— X

tender’s stragglers in 1746 settled at Scammonden in ‘‘a few poor fruts at Burnt Platt on the south slope of Worsell above Ainley For a long time they were known as Duediz li. Gorgies) and lived fiere from about that time till 1860. ~ These ‘‘foreigners”” ‘were “known for miles around as singers of uncouth songs, and

as peddlars of small wares, combined with opportune pilfering. They gradually became dispersed, however their last hut being

pulled down some sixty years ago.’ Thos BVYRWS s/ be a

Mr. Haigh, after having given an explanation of the term ‘““Duediz”’ continued: ‘‘Most likely the original ‘Burnt Platters’ were Highland stragglers from the Pretender’s army as it retreated northwards through—tancashire The local people, while tolerating them good-naturedly, with characteristic humour, nicknamed them Duediz after King George II.’s name on his widespread proclamations. ’

These last three paragraphs suggest that some of the Pre- tender’s followers on their return journey to Scotland dispersed over the Slaithwaite side of the Colne Valley into the Scammonden district, but there is no evidence that Bonny Prince Charlie was among'st their number.

(iv) Lastly, we come to the tradition in the Thornhill family which stated that the Pretender, after his retreat from Derby in 1746, lodged at Fixby Hall for one night, consumed the contents of the cellar, and then burned the building after his debauch.

There is, however, no element of truth in this tale. Watson, writing the ‘‘History of Halifax,’’ some thirty years after the

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Photo from a print in the writer’s possession

(Reproduced by courtesy of the Proprietors of the “‘ Huddersfield Examiner’’)

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event, in 1775, makes no allusion to this supposed outrage on Fixby Hall.


At the time of his death, he was said to be one of the oldest Generals in Europe. He was born of Yorkshire stock in 1688, _ the year James II. abdicated the throne. In 1706, he received an ensign’s commission and served in the War of the Spanish Succes-

sion under Prince Eugene. He founded the State of Georgia in the U.S.A. and died at the age of 96. He was present at the sale of Dr. Johnson's library and amused those present by telling them of the changes he had seen in London in the 18th century and that he had shot snipe in Conduit Street. He is supposed to have visited Huddersfield at the time of the Younger Pretender’s Rebellion in 1745 and stayed at the old Greenhead Hall (demolished in 1907-1908 to make way for the present Girls’ High School) then the residence of the Fenton family. The sole evidence on which this statement is based rests on the word of the late Mr. G. W. Tomlinson in his monograph on ‘““Greenhead Hall’’ printed in the ‘‘Huddersfield Parish Church Magazine”’ for March, 1886,

Mr. Tomlinson said that Dr. H. J. Morehouse, of Newmill, had amongst his papers an from some contemporary letter or diary the following note about Greenhead :

“December 12th, 1745, I hear the rebels are returning (from Derby) and it 1s feared some of them will come this way (via Holmfirth), they are in greater consternation in Holmfirth than they were on Saturday, the 30th of last month. A great many troopers and dragoons lodged in Huddersfield and Almondbury, George Morehouse, of Almondbury, had four troopers and_five horses, ey went away soon this morning. General Oglethorpe was with them and lodged at Greenhead.”’ ee After giving a short biography of General Oglethorpe, Mr. Tomlinson concluded :

“T shall never think of Greenhead again without having the long spare figure of the General before me.”’

On the other hand, Arthur Jessop’s MS. ‘‘Diary of Contem- porary Events, 1740-1745,’’ formerly belonging to Dr. Morchouse and now in the possession of the Rev. Dr. C. P. L. Dennis, M.A., Ph.D., makes no reference to this supposed visit of the famous general to Greenhead. Under the date December 12th, 1745, is the entry : ae hee i

‘“They say the Royal Hunters and a great many of General Wade’s Dragoons-aré in Huddersfield and the rest of the army at Leeds, and will be in Halifax this day. They say a great many Oa eT a cia Me

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(Photo by the late Mr. Isaac Hordern, reproduced by kind permission of the Huddersfield Publie Library Committee)

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63 people hereabouts are gone to Huddersfield to see the soldiers. A eat many of Wade’s soldi hrough Almondbury yester- day to Huddersfield, and was (sic) going up Paddock and received an express and turned again and went through Huddersfield to— wards Halifax. A great many of the soldiers staid in Almondbury last might and Mr. teat BE Or 4“ There are certainly parallelisms in these two extracts, but

Arthur Jessop’s ‘‘Diary’’ recorded as above, contains no reference to General Oglethorpe.

The writer of his life in the ‘‘Dictionary of National Biography’’ (1895), stated that General Oglethorpe, at the time of the Younger Pretender’s Rebellion, ‘‘at once received orders to join General Wade and to take with hia the soldiers he had raised. He found Wade at Hull_and accompanied him in his march into Lancashire, where he and his ee at co ec deme which, under the Duke of Cumberland, harassed the retreating lacobites. No detailed account of this from-Hull--to —. Lancashire is given by the writer, who, however, stated that ‘‘much

of the material relating to General j is still in manu— script.’’

Hence there is still some mystery as to whether the founder of Georgia visited our town for a few hours in December, 1745.

JOHN RAMSDEN, 1755-1839.

Sir John Ramsden, 4th Baronet, Lord of the Manor of Hud- dersfield, the grandfather of the late Sir John Ramsden, (1831— 1914), will always be remembered as one of the earliest of that family who fostered the growth of Huddersfield and raised it from a moorland village to a prosperous industrial town.

He erected the Shambles in 1771-72 which stood above: ie present Market Hall in King Street, these became insanitary, and although rebuilt in 1807, were later demolished ; he enlarged the Cloth Hall in 1780, which had been built by his father i in 1766, this building in its turn outlived its usefulness, was demolished, ahd the Ritz Cinema erected on its site; he built a row of houses known as Brick Row on the top side of the Market Place in New Street, which extended to the corner of Cloth Hall Street, these still remain although the style of frontage of the shops has been con- siderably altered in the course of a century and a half.

Many stories are told of ‘‘Old Sir John’’ or ‘‘Good Sir John’’ Ramsden, as subsequent generations described him, but, one, that relating to the Quaker and the Sovereigns, is, I feel certain, legendary.

The story goes thus: Sir John as Lord of the Manor, was the possessor of the whole of Huddersfield with the

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exception of a small house and smithy belonging to a labouring blacksmith of the —Owateerpers asion named Tommy _Firth. “Wishing to land ana thus possess the whole of the town, the Baronet called on the blacksmith and asked him if he

were willing to sell. The Quaker asked him what price he offered, ‘“‘T’ll cover this kitchen floor with sovereigns,’’ said the Baronet.

thee lay them edgewise?’’ asked Tommy Firth. ‘‘No, I'll

cover your floor with them, but I'll lay them flat,’’ replied the Baronet. The offer was refused by the Quaker who ended the conversation by saying, I ‘‘Ah, well, then, Sir John, Huddersfield © belongs to thee and me.

This story had been repeated many a time during the last I century, and, strange to say, a week before I came to Huddersfield in 1914, 1 was told the legend in Plymouth !

Mr. A. C. Davies who compiled the ‘‘Book of Public Arms’’ (1915), wrote to the late Sir John William Ramsden as to the truth or otherwise of the above story and received the following reply :

‘‘As regards the subject of your letter, I am directed to say that Sir John is sorry he can give no information as to the legend, often repeated with variations and often appearing in print, but Sir John never heard it from any member of his own family even as a tradition, and an old Quaker gentleman, the descendant and heir of the Quaker who figures in the story and from whom Sir John himself bought the land in question many years ago, assured him that there was no truth in it whatsoever.’’ (‘‘Book of Public Arms,’’ p. 376).

The piece of land in question is in Lord Street where later the offices of the former ‘‘Huddersfield Chronicle’’ stood; the premises are now occupied by Messrs. B. Wade & Co., Whole- sale Tobacco Merchants.

The story of the subsequent sale of this freehold land in the heart of the former Ramsden Estate is told by the late Mr. Isaac Hordern in his ‘‘Notes on the Ramsden Estates.”’

Under the year 1874, ‘‘Amen Corner, Beast Market,’’? Mr. Hordern wrote:

I ‘“The small piece of land belonging -to Mr. Thomas Firth about whom so many stories are told : that Old Sir John Ramsden wanted to purchase this plot of ground and said to Tommy Firth I ‘that he would cover it up with crowns,’ when Tommy replied, ‘thou hast made a very good offer and if thou wilt. place them edgeways, thou shalt have it.’ ”’

course, it was not purchased, but now (1874), the Trustees — of the son of Tommy Firth above referred to, have agreed to sell for the sum of £630 which was paid as under :

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Sir John Wm. Ramsden’s Trustees ... we 200

The Corporation os ne a ... £200 Trustees gave ....-

‘‘Lord Street now runs tired “ie ae and Firth’s Trustees have taken long leases and built on the East side of the

_ street which is bounded on the west side of the Churchyard.”

The Huddersfield Corporation purchased that part of the former Firth Freehold Estate to construct Lord Street in 1874-75.

Shortly after I had supplied the ‘‘Huddersfield Examiner’’ with some of the above details relating to this legend, there were printed in that newspaper the ‘‘prelude’’ and the oe to what had already appeared in print.

The ‘‘prelude”’ states that Sir John first sent his estate agent to treat with the owner. All the change the agent got, however, was, ‘‘Sir John’s th’ boss of all t’ rest, an’ ah’m t’ boss here. Ah’m nobbut baan to talk wi’ t’ boss, nooan wi’ thee.’’ So Sir John went in person to see him only to find that the Quaker was a man who fixed his own terms and stuck to them.

The ‘‘sequel’’ relates that Sir John reminded the Quaker that he was known as a ‘‘tenant-at—will’’ which meant that at the end of the lease’s term, he (Sir John) could take over the plot of ground, lock, stock and barrel, without any form of compensation whatso— ever. The Quaker stated that he was prepared to put up with that but when the lease did expire, Sir John or his successor gave the obdurate blacksmith a good price for his land and its buildings, though this time there was no offer to cover the floor with sovereigns.

I I am inclined to think that this ‘‘sequel’’ is inaccurate in one particular at least, the land which Tommy Firth held in Hudders- field was his own private property, he was not a tenant- at—will, and further, as Mr. Isaac Hordern in his ‘‘Notes’’ said, this property was bought from the trustees of his son.

A consultation of Sir John Ramsden’s Rental Books for the years 1800-1801, 1809-1810, 1811-1812, 1812-1813, has failed to reveal the name of Tommy Firth as a leasehold tenant of the above baronet.

It is interesting to note, however, that during the year 1800- 1801, Sir John Ramsden pocketed £9991 9s. 7d. from his ground rents in the Manors of Huddersfield and Almondbury.

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Su. eats


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