Old West Riding: A Collection of Original Articles (Autumn 1981) by George Redmonds (editor)

The following is the OCR text of a book and will likely contain conversion errors. This page is designed to be indexed by search engines. Click on a page number to view the book in your web browser.

Please note that the text is not in the Public Domain and should not be reproduced further without the express permission of the copyright holder or their estate.

Page 1



Page 2


Page 3



Page 4


Local history no longer belongs exclusively to the historian and in recent years it has bene- fited from contributions offered by specialists in a wide variety of associated disciplines. The oral tradition, genealogy, and place-name studies, to name but a few, have all opened up new avenues of enquiry and brought fresh light to bear on old problems. The number of active enthusiasts has never been greater. Old West Riding has developed partly out of this new enthusiasm and partly in response to it. It is not a commercial enterprise but has two main aims: to act as a publishing outlet for amateur and professional alike and to en- sure that new and interesting research material reaches a wider audience. The idea of the magazine was conceived by a number of local historians each with his or her own area and subject interests. Inevitably therefore, the first issue reflected these inter-

Editor George Redmonds 5 Knotty Lane Lepton

Huddersfield HD8 OND

Associate Editors Jennifer Stead Cyril Pearce Peter Watkins

All letters, enquiries and contributions should be sent direct to the Editors. Articles must be in the Editor’s hand no later than July 31st (Autumn edition), January 31st (Spring edition).

© Greenhead Books Ltd. 1981

ests. In the second issue the number of con- tributors and the range of topics has been increased. Several of the articles included have been offered by people who have had to be persuaded that their research findings are of general interest. We hope that others, readers included, will follow their example, and offer us their contributions. The contributors are interested in the com- munity to which they belong, its future as well as its past and this interest embraces top- ics such as speech and customs, landscape and buildings, anything in fact which illuminates the growth of that community and its contin- uing development. It is hoped that Old West Riding will serve both to give expression to that interest and also to stimulate and sustain it in others. The journal is published twice a year, in Spring and in Autumn.

All orders, enquiries about subscriptions, books for review and advertising copy should be sent to: Old West Riding Greenhead Books Oldgate Huddersfield HD1 6QH and not to the Editors.


Page 5


Articles and Contributors


USES OF URINE Jennifer Stead with assistance from Arthur Saul

Page 6


Colum Giles

The wealth of domestic architecture found in the Calder valley and dating from all periods after the late- medieval age, is fast becoming a worn cliché for the local historian. The houses of the area and their family connections were among the principal preoccupations of the pioneers from the Halifax Antiquarian Society, with much light being thrown on the subject by scholars like H. P. Kendall and Ogden in the last years of the 19th century and the early decades of our own.(1) Since their day, interest has rarely flagged, and increasingly the houses have made ripples in larger pools. Pevsner draws attention to what he calls

Page 8

Hall, Calverley, but these are the exceptions. Nor did it involve placing the fire on a central open hearth, leaving the smoke to billow about the upper reaches of the hall before escaping from a louvre; very little evi- dence of the characteristic smoke-blackened timbers has been found. Instead, the Yorkshire way was to contain the smoke from the fire within a timber and plaster flue, commonly called a fire-hood or smoke- hood. (7) These fire-hoods were extremely bulky, and it isinvariably the case that they have been swept away by later modernisations. There are, however, charact- eristic tell-tale signs that prove their former existence, and the New Hall displays these very well. The timber- framed house was built to contain a large fire-hood, sited in the western half of the eastern bay of the hall

range. In this area(see section Fig. 2b) the roof

betray the position of the hood; the ridge stops some

Page 9

Plate I

Elland New Hall, the north front

Page 10

positive evidence of heating in a parlour of a late- medieval house in this area. Whilst some heated rooms may be assumed, the structural evidence usually allows only the hall stack or hood to be identified with any certainty. The erroneous impression might be gained that the hall contained the only hearth, but New Hall shows that it may have displayed the principal but not the only heating in the house. If these structural points are accepted, and it is thought that the west wing was heated originally, then the argument might be repeated in the east wing. Here too the south room has an extruded stack on the east wall (now partially swallowed by later building), and here too this stack is the only part of the wing to be set upon a plinth. Again the style of the fireplace in the south room is early; the surround has a heavy roll- moulding. The indications are that the east wing also provided a heated parlour from the late-15th century, and, if this is the case, the New Hall marks a significant departure from the traditional medieval plan. As stated earlier, the standard form was for the lower wing to provide service rooms (perhaps pantry and buttery), with the better dwelling area confined to the upper wing. At the New Hall this division has broken down, and the

Page 11

least the lower wing contained a parlour. J.W. Clay tells us that John Savile was the last of the family to own the Hall; he died in 1620 (13) having leased the property to the Foxcroft family. By the end of the 1650’s Henry Power, the noted physician and

Page 13


An Inventory of the Goods Cattells - Debts and personale Estate which late were and did belong unto George Power

of New-Hall in Eland in the County of Yorke Gent Apprized

the ffourteenth Day of May Anno Dm 1700. By us whose

names are hereunder written

Imp: his Apparell & money in his purse In the Hall One long Table and two fformes One Marble Table and Stand One Square Table One Range and grates One Iron pott One Brass pan In the upper Parlor One old Couch Chair One Range In the Buttery One long Table and fforme One great safe or Cupboard In the Cellar In Wood vessell In the little hall One square Table One Chist One Chist of Drawers One Kitchen Cupboard Six old Chaires One Range ffire shovell ffire poits

Page 14

A common alteration made to medieval houses, in most parts of the country, is the insertion of a floor into the open hall, to give a chamber over the main room, (18) This is not a characteristic which this part of the Pennines shares, for many of our late-medieval houses retained their open halls throughout the 17th century. Stone casing was unaccompanied by the abandonment of the open hall, even though plaster ceilings at wall-plate level may have changed the room from one open to the roof to one open through two storeys. At New Hall, the vast window in the hall range proclaims the longevity of the open hall trad- ition. The room still acted as the focus of the dwelling, and the 17th century brought an appropriate embellishment. It will be recalled that there is strong evidence that the late-medieval hall was heated by a fire-hood. This fire- hood, bulky and probably lacking in decorative qual- ities, was one of the first casualties of the 17th century. The stone casing makes no provision for a fire-window to light the fire-area under the hood, and this suggests either that the hood had been replaced already by a stone chimney stack (which required no fire-window) or that the insertion of the stack was in- cluded as part of the same build as the casing. The latter is perhaps the more probable. The fireplace has a shallow segmental-arched lintel and acyma-moulded surround. It is an impressive fireplace, the largest in the house (Plate V). Over it, on the chimney breast, is the principal decorative feature of the hall, the

Page 15

The chambers need little comment. Two were heated and were used for sleeping and storage, and odd pieces

Page 16

become a hamlet in its own right. The Gledhill family, numbering five, were farmers. James Beard was a farmer, his two eldest sons were a labourer and a delver, and between them they supported six more children of the marriage between the said James and Martha. Ely Smith, an agricultural labourer, had a wife and two children; and John Bailey, a cloth weaver (did he work on the premises in the shop?), supported a wife and five children. Finally there was another Gledhill family, led by George, a farmer. In all 31 people are listed as present on the night of the Census in 1841, and most of them, weavers, labourers, urchins and hard-pressed mothers alike, must have been living incongruously in the house designed for a great gentry family some three and a half centuries earlier, The fortunes of New Hall were plummetting decade by decade, therefore, and it would not be surprising if it had suffered the fate of so many other old houses, demolished after long neglect. We owe the survival of the house partly to the original builders, who built so stoutly and with so many centuries in mind; partly to the crucial fact that the house proved adaptable to new needs and circumstances; and largely to the various owners of the building in this century. It was in recent decades that the process of decline was arrested, and we may be grateful to the present owners for their care of an important monument, It is to be hoped that the great wave of destruction that characterised the and 1960’s has been halted, for there is an increasing realisation that these old houses can provide service- able, stout, beautiful and desirable homes even in the present century. If anybody doubts this, he has only to take a lesson from the New Hall at Elland, now approaching its 500th birthday.

Note and acknowledgements It is important to point out that the New Hall is a private residence and is not open to view. I wish to express my thanks to the Halstead and Cluskey families for their kind co-operation in the compilation of this record. I am grateful to Jennifer Stead, who suggested that I write this article and who provided me with a great dealof important documentary information from her work on the Power Memorandum Book. Philip Swann helped draw and measure the plan and section: The photographs are the copyright of the National Monuments Record, apart form the repro- duction of Power’s inventory; this is published by kind consent of the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research. I must finally record my indebtedness to Valerie Hall, who by heroic endeavour converted an all but illegible scrawl into a typed script.


Bay; the main structural divisions of a framed building, de- fined by posts and roof trusses. Brattishing; cresting or ornamental work. Close-studding;a style of framing in which vertical studs are employed at intervals of approximately the same width as that of each stud. Dias canopy; coved structure made up of curved ribs, set over the upper end of the open hall. Fire-hood; timber and plaster flue used to clear smoke from a hearth.



Outshut; a part of a building housed under a lean-to roof. Plinth; projecting base of a wall. Probate inventory; a document drawn up on the decease of a party to accompany the will, and listing the posses- sions of that party.

Page 17

THE USES OF URINE Jennifer Stead with assistance from Arthur Saul Part I

It may come as a surprise to many readers to know that as recently as 1963 urine was still in use in British industry, at Trewindsor Mills, Cardiganshire. As rec- ently as this, we can say, came to an end many centuries of regarding urine as a valuable commodity. Indeed it could be argued that it was so vital to our economic progress that it would not be wholly in- appropriate for another symbol to stand beside the Woolsack in the House of Commons. A strong alkali had always been necessary in many manufacturing processes, and fermented urine was for a long time the only large-scale easily available source. It was not until 1830 that Read Holliday discovered how to produce ammonia on a commercial scale, which he knew could be used for scouring grease out of wool, from ammoniacal by-products of the gas- works. This was at his premises in Leeds Road, Huddersfield (where he went on to develop dye- stuffs from coal tar, establishing the chemical works which eventually became British Dyes, and finally

Page 18

1541 Sir Thomas Elyot wrote ‘the most common iudgement in sicknes is by vrines’ (8). In Elland in the 1650’s that most respected doctor, Henry Power of New Hall, was still aiding diagnosis by casting waters (for which he charge a shilling), but the practice fell into disrepute, and water-casters were treated with some derision, There is an amusing story in The Miscellaneous Works of Tim Bobbin (Salford 1812 p. 74) where the husband of a woman who had broken her leg takes her water to old Doctor Clayton, the celebrated water-caster, who holds up the bottle speculatively. Trying to catch him out, the husband asks the doctor if he can see how many steps his wife fell down. Dr, Clayton guesses twelve

Page 20

fever if the patient’s urine were used to knead a loaf, which was baked and given to another who then ‘takes’ the fever; similarly, a boiled egg, steeped in the patient’s urine and eaten by another, would deflect the disease. Irish peasants would sprinkle sick children with urine to rescue them from the clutches of fairy persecutors. It was once the custom in Sheffield to hang on the door of a deserted lover, a garland, an onion, and a bottle of urine (20). Illicit lovers might wake to find the urine tub spilt over their doorsteps; this was also a favourite trick on Mischief Night (21). Urine was a useful substance for practical jokes, as Tim Bobbin makes clear (22). A. Berry Brow man told us how, sixty years ago when lying in ambush for a hated lady teacher after school, he and his mates wet their stack of sods: ““Ah won’t tell yer what we wet ‘em wi’, but we soddened ‘em’’. A widespread nasty trick per- petrated by beersellers in the 17th and 18th centuries was to water their beer down, then “strengthen’”’ it with urine (23). A modern joke was noted by a Leicestershire friend of ours who saw a new soft drink advertised by a local firm, called White Lant. He asked if they knew what it meant. They did.

In Gardening, Farming, and for Animals As an aid to a healthy diet, Scottish crofters con- sidered it essential that urine be put directly on the nettle patch, and it was considered by gardeners just as good for swelling carrots, celery and rhubarb. The finest tomatoes grown in Allerton were fed from the slop pail, and no one could beat them for size and flavour. High quality lawns were fed with urine to promote a fine rich green colour. Indeed, so much was used that urine cisterns in large gardens were sometimes twenty feet square and seven feet deep (24). Farmers collected cows’ urine in tanks and carted it out. to the fields in barrels, where it was spread with a long-handled ladle (25). Urine was mixed with lime for dressing seeds to deter birds from eating them (26) and the same mixture put on apple trees (27). In 19th century China, copper receptacles were placed along roadsides to save the precious fertiliser (28). Animals were dosed with it. In ancient times scabby sheep were to be cured by pouring human urine into their noses and mouths, while in 19th century Yorkshire

Page 21

vile liquid (33). The same liquid could be used for scouring the raw wool before carding and spinning, if necessary. A notable Yorkshire family, the Fairfaxes of Steeton and Denton, have left some remarkable culinary manu- scripts, which include laundry and dyeing recipes (see Fig. I & note 34). In a typical 17th century hand

is this: I ON

Page 22

placed in the backyard to collect the urine for use in clothworking areas (41). At Leeds Workhouse in 1739 the Committee ordered “that the Master have the Benefitt of the Wash, Dung or Manure made or belonging to the

Page 23

Farm Silsden, and at Shugden Farm Roper Lane Queensbury. We would be grateful if readers would bring other instances to our attention.

Part II, in our next issue, will deal mainly with the uses of urine in industry, e.g. leather dressing, wire-

drawing, alum extraction, textiles, engineering,

plumbing, and will include a section on miscellaneous uses. In concentrating on local examples, it will be understood we have had to omit much of the inform- ation we have gathered on this gargantuan subject.


Page 24


Ian Dewhirst

Towards the end of the 18th century, and for years afterwards as the French and Napoleonic Wars dragged on, regiments of militia were embodied

Page 25


John Goodchild

The township of Ossett cum Gawthorpe — a scatter of small hamlets as it then was, with a population of some 3424 in 1801 (1) — was the location of one of the very earliest scribbling mills in the West Riding textile area, and perhaps the only such early mill which is reasonably well documented (2). The mill lay in the extreme south eastern corner of the town- ship, the cloth-producing townships of Alverthorpe cum Thornes and Horbury bounding the very plot on which the mill was built (3). The mill at Spring End was built by a partnership con- sisting of Joshua Thornes, an Ossett tammy (worsted cloth) manufacturer and John Emmerson, an Ossett master handloom weaver (4). Thornes presumably would have no personal trade use for the new mill and does not appear in the surviving lists of customers, or indeed in the ratebooks in connection with it (5): presumably he only put capital into it. It was probably this Joshua Thornes who died in October, 1838 aged 85 (6). Emmerson was however a user of the mill and by 1782 he had been joined in its working by James Mitchell (died February, 1820 aged 80) (7) and John Oakes, both further Ossett master clothiers. From 1781, (earlier rate books and Land Tax returns do not survive), Mitchell and Emmerson are listed as the mill’s tenants (8), although Emmerson was the owner of the land, and in 1783 he raised money on the mill site and adjoining land by a mortgage from Miss Ann Norton (9), probably she of that name who was then owner of the Kettlethorpe Hall estate near Wakefield (10). The earliest known reference to a water-powered scribbling machine in the West Riding occurs in January 1779 and the mill at Ossett now under con- sideration, later known as Spring End Mill and later still as Spring Field Mills, had such machinery by 1781. The surviving documentation states that the mill cost £343. 17. 8 in building, and from the time of its opening it was managed in yearly cycles by the partners in it: 1781-82 James Mitchell 1782-83 John Oakes 1783-84 James Mitchell 1784-85 John Emmerson. The partners were so unused to the keeping of accounts that when one of their number (John Oakes) became a bankrupt, it was necessary for a Wakefield lawyer to reduce their accounts to a comprehensible form and it is on these rationalised accounts that the early part of this essay is based. They show, as one would anti- cipate, the purchase of small quantities of oil, resin, candles and coals for the mill, the payment of rates and the occasional buying of flocks; five shillings a year was paid for rent for part of the mill wheel’s goit and £25 rent was paid to Emmerson for the premises.


Willeying and scribbling were the processes carried out at the mill in the earlier 1780s: in the year to August 1784 scribbling work brought in £55. 17. 8% out of a total income of £63. 18. 2%, £7. 16. 6 being received for willeying work and four shillings for the sale of old cards. In that same year something over 25% of the scribbling income came from work done for out- siders, the remainder from work undertaken for the partners individually. In the following sixteen month period the willey was repaired, a water-course was widened, the cut to the dam broadened and the mill wheel repaired. In that year willeying brought in £14. 17. 3, while scribbling brought £50. 19. 0. In the former period, blue, mixed and copper were the colours in 1784-85. In about 1785 the three

_cylinders of the willeying machine were repaired and re-covered with cards; the original cylinders

had been made by John Jubb the well-known mill- wright and machine maker of Churwell and later of Leeds. The largest cylinder (the “Great Swift” or “Breast” or “‘Doffer’) was

Page 26

ship basis: close to it, in fact just across the Horbury boundary, another mill was built in 1790-91 (12), at which the fulling of cloth was undertaken (13). This process demanded more power than the small stream which powered the older mill could provide, and in any case the amount of fall between the mills was very small: a deed of 1791, relating to the new mill, refers to the

Page 27

last years of the nineteenth century were:


Page 28


Stanley Ellis

Any community that has a closely-knit life with a long tradition behind it is likely to develop a fairly distinct variety of speech. That has certainly been true in England though with certain qualifications, The social make-up of an English-speaking community also af- fects the speech we hear in the area. When we have a strongly-developed community sense such as there

was in the West Riding mill towns of the late 18th

and the 19th centuries there little wonder that within the type of life in these towns a local series of speech varieties should develop. We cannot know very much about the speech of our forefathers earlier than the 19th century because not much was being said either in or about dialect after the introduction of printing in the 15th century. What we know in a rather limited way makes it very clear that there was a robust local dialect with many varieties in Yorkshire during the 16th century and onwards. The little evi- dence we have from the 17th and 18th century writers in dialect suggests that in those areas where we can know something of the speech, through a rep- resentation in the spelling, there has not been a great deal of change in the basic speech-type for three hundred years or more, up to the beginning of this century. The beginning of the present century is still a good time to take, as one we know since people who were born then are still alive and we have speech recordings made of people who were born back into the 1860s and 1870s. More can be said about present changes later. Our information for the 17th century in Yorkshire relates to the North Riding where the dialect was very foreign to Huddersfield and the West Riding. An un- known author had his Yorkshire Dialogue between an Awd Wife, a Lass and a Butcher published at York in 1673 and even in the title we can recognise something of North Yorkshire pronunciation. The first attempt at a dialect dictionary was by John Ray in his Collection of English Words in 1674. This was considerably augmented in 1691 by a list from Francis Brokesby, rector of Rowley in the East Riding. From Brokesby we have mention of words such as lake to play, wikes mouth corners, knack to speak finely. The 18th century saw most of the Yorkshire dialect writing produced from the north and east of Yorkshire. Maybe the very considerable differences in the speech of those areas from the standard language, more than the differences in the West Riding, helped to promote the writing of a vernacular. The earliest writing in the Huddersfield area to represent the local sppech, mentioned in Joseph Wright’s bibliography to his English Dialect Dictionary (1809-1905) is a 45-page booklet ‘by a Collector’ called Jim o’th’ Pan

Page 29

his life. These daily allusions to weaving, to warping, twisting, piecening, bobbin-liggin and so on can make little impact today, so we feel the dialect is dead. Dialect is more than words however, and even in words there are still plenty of local survivals. Even accepting that much of the old vocabulary has gone, there is

another feature of local speech that is not always

recognised, change. The survival for many years of a type of dialect peculiar to a district does not mean that the type must continue always in order to make that place distinctive in speech. In many parts of the old West Riding of Yorkshire it has long been usual to hear alocal pronunciation of words like more in a form that could be written as mooar. Young people in Yorkshire today are much more likely to make the word rhyme with maw. Now this is a change, but it is hardly the standard language. In the East Riding it is now common to hear for the word don’t a pronunc- iation dawn’t, the traditional 19th century pronunc- iation would have been deeant. Neither dawnt nor deeant are standard English and what is suggested is that the more recent manifestation remains as

Page 30

to show the finer shadings of pronunciation in writing. The use of a phonetic script is no help for the layman, and the illustration by use of a recording is the most effective way. To most people in the Yorkshire industrial towns the use of an 7 after a vowel in words like nurse, heard, indicates that the speaker is a Lancastrian, the peculiar quality of this 7 is not the same as that of the r sound used by Yorkshiremen at the beginning of a word, as in run. Often that “‘Lancashire

Page 31

MARLING George Redmonds

We know that one of the ways in which our ancestors fertilised their fields was by spreading calcareous clay, or marl, on them. It has been recently suggested, how- ever, that the practice was little employed in West Yorkshire; a view based in part at least on the infre- quency of minor place-names containing the elements ‘marl’ or ‘marled’ (1). For the West Yorkshire area some twenty examples only are referred to in Smith’s Place-Names of the West Riding. Within this group, names such as Marl Close, probably indicating a field which had been marled, easily outnumber the Marl Pits, that is places where suitable marl has at some time been extracted. Few names of the latter type are noted, but they were mostly in or near Pontefract. There must be some danger in drawing conclusions about a practice such as marling, from small numbers of minor place-names. The sections in Smith which offer such names are neither comprehensive nor rep- resentative. Moreover, even if the lists were complete there is surely no reason why the minor names should accurately reflect one particular aspect of husbandry. Marling in the parishes south-west of Huddersfield In the Commonplace Book of the Kayes of Woodsome (2) there is interesting evidence of marling in the Flizabethan period. In the years 1577-1582, for example, John Kaye records putting well over one hundred loads of marl on the fields of the demesne. A typical entry reads: Md. that in A.D. 1582 I set xxx loades of m(ar)le in the Spring Inge banke. Very often he also notes that he limed the same fields, but in those cases where details are provided the pro- portion was usually ten loads of marl to one of lime. It may be, of course, that once a field had been marled the practice was not soon repeated and it is clear that on some occasions marling was carried out immediately after new land had been cleared. John Kaye was said by his son to have

Page 32

well be that the marling of these fields had taken place not very much earlier than the first dates (i.e. 1636, 1655) would seem to suggest. And as ‘marled’ gave way relatively quickly to ‘marle(e)’, the identification of ‘marled’ forms may go some way to establishing the approximate dates when such fields were won from the waste.


Page 33


John Addy

The diocese of York, like those of Durham and Carlisle, was not an easy area to govern until the latter half of the 18th century. Large areas of the county were remote from York, the centre of church government as well as civil, with large parishes like Halifax that con- tained several villages. The popular belief that there were single village parishes applies only to the south: they were rare in the north. On 28th February 1632 Richard Neile, Bishop of Winchester, was elected Archbishop of York at the advanced age of seventy.

Page 34

penance performed in church when the accused had to make a detailed confession of their fault. Almondbury had a goodly list of persons caught under this order; Jeremiah and Susanna Midgeley, Alexander Archer and Beatrice Whittaker his wife. In Huddersfield there was a similar pattern of offend- ers; John Church of Wood, and Susanna his wife, along with James and Jennifer Haigh, John Sikes de Boothbank and Elizabeth his wife also William Sonyour and his wife Anna and Richard Towneley and Susanna Heaton de Huddersfield (8). Some lucky ones managed to escape the net by moving to another diocese or parish. A trip to Saddleworth brought them into Chester diocese and out of the range of York, or a move to Rochdale was also common. Luke Marsden of Huddersfield, who was accused of fornication with Anna Firth, moved to Rochdale. Also George Sikes of Huddersfield accused of antenuptial fornication with his wife Mary, moved to Almondbury while John Savile accused of forni- cation with Sara Midgley was said to have gone away and not returned. The illegitimacy rate was high for the Colne Valley. Anna Waterhouse de Salghthwite had, “‘a bastard child in fornication with a man now

Page 35


Helen M. Jewell

The court rolls of the manor of Wakefield for the years 1348-9 and 1349-50 provide identifications of some 2000 people, jurors, pledges, litigants in civil suits, petty criminals and tenants of land, who were present, or represented in court, or involved in some recorded business (1). The total cannot be expected to be an exact one, since the problems of identificat- ion at this period are considerable: a single individual might for example be recorded on different occasions identified patronymically, e.g. Thomas son of John, or by occupation, e.g. Thomas Taylor, or by his place of residence, e.g. Thomas of Halifax. Despite this in- evitable lack of exact identification and therefore of numbers (which must be viewed as approximations), a group of around 2000 people seems large enough a sample to be worth considering to see what names were popular at this date. In all, after disregarding variant spellings, and trans- lating the Latin forms written by the scribes into the standard English equivalent, there are some seventy Christian names used in these rolls. A score of the names appear to have only one bearer, and another half dozen only a couple. Some of the names which occur only once or twice have remained curiosities, e.g. Preciosa and Elcock, but some have become gen- eral favourites, including David, Michael, Andrew and Katherine. The manor of Wakefield in the mid-14th century in- cluded most of the wapentakes of Agbrigg and Morley and parts of Stancross (2). It had free and villein tenants from widely divergent social strata, and it does not seem that social class here played much part in the choice of names. Names of French origin, such as William, however aristocratic their Norman intro- duction, had penetrated to very ordinary levels in the West Riding by 1350: William was the name of a man recorded as servant of the vicar of Halifax. John, the most popular name in the rolls, (some 420 separate identifications) had been that of the last earl of Warenne, lord of the manor of Wakefield until his death in 1347. Next, but little over half as popular, came William, approaching 230, and Thomas, around 220. The next most common boys’ names were Richard and Robert, each having approaching 150 examples. To complete a “‘top ten” we have to go down to Hugh, around 40, Roger, around 20 and Nicholas, around a dozen. The last three are not in the same popularity league at all, and only Peter, Alexander and Geoffrey of the other boys’ names reach double figures. Women are comparatively rarely mentioned in med- ieval court rolls, and only just over 450 of the identi- fied persons in these rolls were women, though close on another 150 are entered in the records simply as the unnamed wife of a named husband, or unnamed maid of an identified employer. No woman’s name


had the prevalence John had: the most popular girls’ name was Alice, with just over 80 examples. Next came Joan and Agnes with between 50 and 60 each, then Margery, around 50 and Matilda, approaching 50. The only other girls’ names with 20 or slightly more examples were Amabel or Annabel and Cicely. To complete a “‘top ten’’ for girls we have to go down into the teens to Gillian and Isabel(la). But these were closely followed by Beatrix, Margaret, Elizabeth and Emma, all with ten or more examples, and all these should be considered quite popular given the smaller size of the female sample. Of the ‘“‘top ten’? names for both sexes, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names (3rd edition) tells us that “‘though John was a fairly common English name in the 12th to 15th centuries, its singular pre- dominance over all other names came so the West Riding must have been well ahead of the times! William, Thomas, Richard, Robert and Adam are all described as among the commonest and favourite Christian names (in medieval and later times), and Henry was also a generally popular name, its English form being Harry. The Dictionary might lead us to expect a few more Hughs, based on the popularity of St. Hugh of Lincoln in the north, and Roger and Nicholas seem more popular generally than their distribution in these rolls would suggest. Alice, Joan and Agnes were all very common names for girls, but the Dictionary gives no indication that Margery was particularly popular, and describes Matilda as a fav- ourite in the 12th and 13th centuries gradually falling into disuse over the next two centuries. Amabel seems also to have been in decline, Cicely was apparently a favourite soon after the Norman Conquest, and Gillian was one of the commonest girls’ names, as was Isabel(la) in the 13th and 14th centuries. The most popular boys’ names seem to have been rea- sonably fashionable in all ages, but the popularity of girls’ names is more fickle. Medieval christenings were influenced by the saints and the bible; today names are often made fashionable by the stars of television and cinema. Plays and novels have also been popular- isers. It is amusing to realise that this tendency to draw names, for both sexes, from entertainment is not as new as one might suppose. Alexander, Alice and Isolda, all names held within our sample, were apparently all popularised by the romance literature of the Middle Ages (3), even though very few people could read.


1 Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, 1348-50, ed. H. M. Jewell, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Wakefield Court Roll Series, vol. 3 (forthcoming).

Page 36

TONG STREET George Redmonds

Tong Street is not a street in the sense in which the word is now generally used. Together with Westgate Hill Street it forms part of the main road between Bradford and Wakefield, describing the 2% mile stretch from Tong Lane End to Dudley Hill. Over the years it has been the subject of several articles, one of which suggests that it originally formed part of a Roman road from Pontefract to Elslack near Skipton (1). A very different account of the street by

Page 37

those carried out by tenants in other local parishes, but the locations of the houses along Tong Street and the particular obligations of the tenants for their “doles of causey”’ do appear to be significant.

Tong Street Place-names Few of the minor names linked with Tong Street have been well documented and two at least are recorded for the first time on Saxton’s map, i.e. the ‘‘Ravins nest” and

Page 38


part of Fong

Page 39

Rodes howse: Rhodes is certainly not a surname with a single family origin, but one at least of the heredit- ary surnames had its origins in North Bierley. It is still prominent in hamlets close to Tong Street. 1379 John delrodes (North Bierley) [P.T.Y.] 1545 Edward Roides (North Bierley) [S.R.]

Speghte howse: Speight is a very distinctive surname with a history in Birstall parish going back probably 700 years, It is still common in the Tong Street area. 1297 John Specth [W.C.R. ] 1379 John Speght (Drighlington) [S.R.] 1545 William Speight (East Bierley) [S.R.] 1626 - William Speight (Tong) (6)

Richardson howse: Richardson is not a distinctive name but it was well-known in Tong and neighbouring parishes in the 16th and 17th centuries. 1545 Thomas Richardson (Tong) [S.R.] 1626 Widow Nicholas Richardson (Tong) (5)

Goodale howse: The Goodalls were in Birstall parish in the 15th century and may have moved there from Horbury. It was not long before several branches were established in Tong where at least one was known as “of the Streete’’. There are numerous references to them throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and the surname is still common locally, 1309 Robert Godale (Horbury) [W.C.R. ] 1379 John Godhalle (Horbury) [P.T.Y.] 1460 Thomas Gudeale (Birstall) [W.Y.R. ] 1545 William, Richard and George Goodaill (Tong) [S.R.] 1649 William Goodale de Tonge Street [C.R.]

Benton howse: Benton was a variant of Bentham, a surname found in the Western Dales throughout much of the Middle Ages and particularly common in Horton in Ribblesdale. It was known in the Bradford area in the 16th century and became well established in Tong, where it was responsible for the minor name Bentham Syke. 1251 William de Bentham (Yewcross) [Y.Inq] (17) 1379 Thomas de Bentham (Skipton) [P.T.Y.] 1545 John Bentham (Horton in Ribblesdale) [S.R.] Thomas Bentham (Northowram) [S.R.] 1634 Robert Benthom, Bentom or Benton of the Streete (Tong) [C.R.]

The above account does not in itself lead to any firm conclusions, it simply takes a look at Tong Street at a particular period in its history, drawing attention to two main sources, i.e. Saxton’s map and the Tong court rolls, which do not seem to have been examined before in detail. Hopefully, the picture these give us of a highway and the families who lived by it in the late Middle Ages, is itself of interest, but the real hope is that the article will stimulate further interest in the significance of ‘street’ and contribute to a fuller understanding of it.



Page 40


There has been a startling response to our request for more information about the game of Ringing Adam Bells (in Old West Riding Vol. 1 No. 1). This game, possibly a remnant of an old courtship custom, and apparently unique to Huddersfield, had seemed to have died out in the Holme Valley at the end of last century, and yet it was still being played in Lindley in 1979! The responses to our enquiries have come ex- clusively from a small area immediately to the west of Huddersfield, comprising Lindley, Longwood and Golcar, and from people who were unknown to each other, and whose versions of the game are different in several details. One “‘rogue’”’ response came from Mirfield, four miles north east of Huddersfield, but upon further enquiry it was revealed that this example of the game had been carried to Mirfield in the early years of this century by a named Huddersfield family. Indeed, family seems to have been of prime import- ance to the survival of Ringing Adam Bells. Family parties, especially at Christmas time, afforded an op- portunity to indulge in hilarity and undignified posture in the privacy of the family circle, and it was at such a family party that Adam Bells were last rung (as far as we know) in 1979. In these family versions, as opposed to the Holmfirth Laikin Neet versions, children were often included, the game was played in astraight line more often than a circle, the players rocked over one by one rather than all together, and the tunes differed slightly. Here is one Lindley version from Mr. W. Firth:

My grandma and my grandad taught me sixty years ago at Christmas parties. There’d be thirty of us, all family. Somebody’d say,

Page 41

words, over and over, rocking backwards and for- wards all the time showing our knickers:

Ring ring owd Adam Bells Kitlins in t’clough Canta see my bare arse? Ah, fair enough

Page 42

August 1733: Landin Northowram was sold with

Page 43


OLD WEST RIDING Vol. 1, no. 1 Spring 1981

The first issue is still available: the following is a list of its contents:

WEST RIDING EMIGRANTS, 1843 George Redmonds

Return to the Huddersfield Exposed home page
View the list of other OCR'd books