The History of Honley and its Hamlets from the Earliest Time to the Present (1914) by Mary A. Jagger

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The History of Honley


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HONLEY, 1914.



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CHAPTER I. . . . 1-17

(Ancient Honley.-Old the Conqueror.-First mention of Honley in Domesday Book.-Saxon Thanes.-Lord of Honley.- Woollen Industry.-Wapentake.-Poll Tax.-Honley in 1379.-Honley Moor.-Ancient Dwelling in Church Mary's Chapel.- Honley Tax-payers in 1524.-Value of Clothing.-The Plague.-Sales of land by Sir Robert Stapylton.-Various Extracts.-The Civil War.- Hearth Tax.-Extracts from Almondbury Registers).

CHAPTER IL. & .. -. 183-39

(Honley at the beginning of 1700.-Extract from Meltham History.- Assessment in 1709.---Threatened Invasion of Scotch Pretender.- Extract from Almondbury Register.-Threatened Invasion of the Young in 1747.-Honley Book Club.- Assessment in 1761.-Particulars of Constables and Overseers who

served in 1700.-John Wesley.-The Enclosure Act,-Local Loyalty during French Revolution).

CHAPTER IIL. . -. ._. 40-59

(Honley in 1800.--Factory Act of 1802.-Local Defence.-Threatened Invasion of the French.-Diary Extract.-An Old-time Election of 1807.-Census in 1811.-Staple Trade of the District. -Lud-riots.-

Suspension of Local Banks.-Folly Hall Fight. -Factory Act of 1833.- Chartism.-Plug Riots).

CHAPTER IV. -. -. -. 60-80

(Honley's first Governing Body.-Closing of Shaw's Factory.-First Railway to Honley.-First Local Newspaper.-Holmfirth Flood.- Crimean War.-Peace Rejoicing.-First Gas Company.-First Lighting of the Strsets with Gas.-Co-operative Local Board.-

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Widening of Honley Gate.-New Road to Railway Station. -School Lane.-Cow-lane and Windy Cap.-Fires.-Water.-Queen Victoria's Jubilee.-The Commercial Inn.-Urban District Council.-Change in the Township's boundaries.-Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. -Gas Works Explosion -Purchase of Gas Works.-Death of Queen Victoria. - Return of Reservists from South African of King Edward VII.-Electricity Works.-South African War.- Rateable Value of Honley.-The death of King Edward VII. -Corona- tion of King George V.-Change in Townships' Boundaries. -Recreation (Ground.-Visit of King George V. and Quzsen Mary to Honley.- Constables in 1800-43).

CHAPTER V. ». . .. 81-117

(Modern Honley.-Its Natural History.-Characteristics and Sayings of Honley Trades.-Old Homestead and Houses.- Honley Clothiers.-The Wives of Honley Old Sign Boards).

CHAPTER VI. . .. . __ 118-138

Feast.-Christmas.-St. Valentines' Day.- April Fool's Day.-Mischief Night.-Collop Monday.-Shrove Tues- day.-Palm Sunday.-Good Friday.-Easter Monday.-May Day.- Guy Fawkes' Day.-Riding the Stang.-Customs observed at birth, marriage, death and burial).

CHAPTER VIL. .. . . _ 139-170

(Music.-Choral - Society.-Brass - - Ringing.- Cricket.-Football Clubs.-Tennis Club.-Flower Bull-baiting.-Hunting.-Foot-racing.-Whippet - racing. -Cock - fight- ing.-Pigeon - _ Landmarks.-Workhouse.-Town Hall. -Stepping-stones.-Stocks.-Pinfold.-Rising Steps.-Banks Corn Mill. -Toll-bars.-Wells).

CHAPTER VIII _ .. .. . _ 171-205

(The History of St. Mary's Church. -Cemetery.-Parish Room).

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CHAPTER IX. -s -. . __ 206-223

(Honley Church. -Wesleyan Chapel. -Primi- tive Methodist Chapel.-Wood Royd Croft Chapel.- Reformer's Chapel).

CHAPTER X. e <. . _- 224-236

(Sunday Schools.-Church Sunday School. -Congregational Sunday School. -Wesleyan Sunday School. -Primitive Methodist Sunday School. -Wood Royd Sunday School).

CHAPTER XL -. s. . - 23 (7-258

(Education.-National Schools.-Private Schools.-

Mechanics' Institute).

CHAPTER - XIL. 6. ». . __ 259-265

(Benefit Clubs.-Working Man's Club.-Conservative Club.-Liberal Club.-Labour Club.-Masonic Home).

CHAPTER XII. .. ». . __ 266-287

(Hamlets of Honley.-Brockholes.-Smithy Place.-St. George's Church.-Clergy House.-National School. -Wesleyan Crowther, Esq., J.P.-Alfred Sykes, Esq., J.P.-James Robinson, John Mitchell, Esq.)

CHAPTER XIV. .. -. s. _- 288-298

(Oldfield. -Oldfield School. -Deanhouse.-Hall Ing).

CHAPTER XV. -. .. . __ 2099-338

(Honley - Families.- Armitage.- Brooke.-Jessop.- Miss Siddon- Crosley.-Leigh.-W addington.-Oldham.-Other Families).

CHAPTER XVI. | .. ». -. 1. - vill.

(Cartimandua.-Reprinted from the "Numismatic Chronicle").

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No greater calamity can happen to nations or persons than to lose all knowledge of their past. Indigenous to Honley soil, love for my native place has prompted me to write its history before old scenes fade into the background, and the old is changed to the new. I shall not treat of wonderful develop- ments, great movements, or striking events which have taken place in the outside world, and at one time or another agitated mankind, only in their relation to Honley or its neighbour- hood. The tragic elements of life can be found in our midst without going further afield. A country would have no history to record if it was not for the type of men and women brought under review in this publication, who held to the place of their birth, dwelling side by side, and bound together by ties of common birth and speech. In the past, man went forth to ""his work and to his labour until the evening ""'-clearing the forest for his dwelling, cultivating the land for food, spinning and weaving to clothe himself. Birth and death, joy and sorrow, romance and tragedy, failure and achievement, made up the sum of human life as at present.

When collecting the raw material for this history, I am indebted to many sources for help. If it had not been for the learned researches of such men as the late Sir Thomas Brooke, and other members of the Yorkshire Society, much valuable knowledge regarding the earlier history of Honley would not have come to light. I have also copied extracts from works, diaries, etc. written by other persons ; and friends have kindly supplied me with information of a more modern character. These aids will be duly acknowledged in the pages of the history. In addition, I can write from personal knowledge of a past generation of men and women as varied

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in character as in position whose lives overlapped my own at an early age, and whose oral traditions, customs, super- stitions, recreations, principles, etc. will be fully described. Many interesting events which have occurred in Honley during the last fifty years might have been overlooked, if it had not been that I have kept diaries since the age of twelve years. These daily records have now proved useful. As far as possible, I have endeavoured to avoid mistakes or quote from mythical authorities. For instance, those oral traditions not found in any book when handed down by word of mouth, generation

after generation, are not always trustworthy ; so that with pre- cautions errors may occur.

I hope, however, that this history will prove interesting even to those people who are accustomed to making fine distinctions. When persons and scenes, long since faded in the background of years, are brought to mind, echoes from a past may find an echo in their hearts ; for often a face or familiar object, is canonised for ever by remembered joys and sorrows of existence. To my older readers who may perhaps prove less critical, a name, homestead, garden, field- path, stile, or tree, may carry memories of the time when life spread out before youthful eyes like a beautiful sunrise. On the other hand, their mention may only be too suggestive of a day when the hopes of a lifetime rung out their last knell.

To my younger readers, whose hands are stretched out to the future (and rightly so), I wish them to realise that in the past (as at present), there were good and true men and women who worked and struggled to bring sunshine, light, and better ways of living to those around them.

Local illustrations have been supplied to me by Mrs. Dearnley, Mr. N. T. Avison, and Mr. C. E. Exley. Photographs of Honley worthies have been kindly lent by their descendants.

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**The world does not require to be informed as to be reminded."-(Hannah More).

** Build not good squire, worthy parishioners a new Church high or low, repair the old with loving care and reverent anxiety, there is a charm, there is a value inexpressibly precious in ancientness and continuity of remembrance. The world is poorer and smaller by the loss of any old thing visibly connecting us poor fleeting mortals with the sacred by-gone years, leaving a door open unto the land of the past. It is deeper than a question of taste, this of blotting out traces of the great past from our visible world, blotting them out for ever with all their softened beauty and mystery, and tender sadness. The worst thing is to erase the venerable relic from the earth. The next worse thing is to restore it. Keep old England, thy old Churches, and old Manor-houses too, and town-halls, and ivied walls, and shady winding roads ; these things, believe it, tend to nourish all that is wholesome and beautiful in conservatism, and to foster a love of the country of our ancestors, which is also our own, and will, we hope, be our childrens."-(Patriceus Walker).

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olololofofo (DIOIOIO


(Ancient Honley.-Old Coins.-William the mention of Honley in Domesday Book.-Saxon Thanes.-Lord of Honley.- Woollen Industry.-Wapentake.-Poll Tax.-Honley in 1379.-Honley Moor.-Ancient Dwelling in Church Street.-St. Mary's Chapel.- Honley Tax-payers in 1524.-Value of Clothing.-The Plague. -Sales of land by Sir Robert Stapylton.-Various Extracts.-The Civil War.- Hearth Tax.-Extracts from Almondbury Registers).


I xust ask my readers to throw back their imaginations if possible beyond the time of Romish Conquests, when this neighbourhood was part of a vast forest perhaps haunted by woad-stained Briton. This is for the purpose of obtaining our first twilight glimpse of Honley, following its advance from the dark ages, and gradually arriving at the Honley of to-day.

Julius Czesar first came to England 55 B.c. and wrote an account of the people he found inhabiting our Island, describ- ing them as fierce and warlike, whose hair was long, and bodies coloured with blue woad. They were known as Brigantes. The discovery of ancient coins, implements of varied character, and excavations at Slack, have proved Romish settlement in our district. The finding of coins and antique remains on Nov. 7th, 1893 in a cavity of a rock upon the property of William Brooke, Esq., J.P., Northgate Mount ; and also the unearthing, at Longwood, of an altar, give proofs that the Brigantes or Ancient Britons occupied the neighbourhood, or when harried by Roman invaders, took shelter in the forest A

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which covered the ground upon which Honley of to-day stands. The silver coins are similar in size to the 4d. piece when in circulation, and the copper ones resemble a penny piece. The coins and remains were presented to the British Museum by Mr. Brooke, and have been named " Honley Find." G. F. Hill, Esq., M.A., has written a description of their various devices, inscriptions, and relation to the history of that period. This " Honley Find " is another valuable link added towards bringing into clearer light the ancient history of this romantic neighbourhood.

The pictures of the coins and remains, together with the learned description written by Mr. Hill, will be found re-printed in detail at the end of this history. About a hundred years previously to this " Honley Find " of 1893, a similar discovery was made in Thirstin.

The word Brigante means noble,-free,-unconquered. (Green in his " History of the English people" names him ** the free-necked man, whose long hair floated over a neck that had never bent to a lord." The natives of Honley still inherit the same characteristics, liberty being as necessary to them as the air they breathe. Before however describing the distinctive traits of Honley people, we must first locate their dwelling place. Imagination must now take a leap from the landing of Julius Czsar to the arrival of William the Con- queror. Over a thousand years had glided away between the two events. During this space of time there had been much internal warfare, learning of arts and manners of civilization, law and order slowly evolved ; and the gradual merging of the tribes of Jutes, Saxons, Angles and Ancient Britons into one race, viz :-English.

History tells us that when William the Conqueror was subduing England to his rule, the inhabitants of the Northern part proved so stubborn in their resistance against him, that before bringing them under subjection, he had finally to burn with fire and destroy with sword all the land and its dwellers (except those who escaped). The first authentic mention of Honley is in the ancient survey of the country named Domes-

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day Book. This great work was undertaken after William the Conqueror had finally brought England under his sway. Written in 1086, the survey was carried out with such exactitude, that according to Saxon Chronicles there was not a yard of land, ox, cow, hog or implement that was not set down, so that every man should be satisfied with his right, and respect the right of others.

In Domesday Book is written :-" In Haneleia (Honley) and Meltham, Cola and Suuen held four carucates of land to be taxed where three ploughs might be employed. Ilbert now has it, but it is waste."

Here then from this brief entry in Domesday Book we obtain our first glimpse of Honley which had been given a name to distinguish it from other places. Hane (Hone) means dwelling, leia (ley) an open space in a wood, thus the word indicates a dwelling or clearing in a wood. Our Saxon fore- fathers had cut down trees and erected their forest homes ; the two short but comprehensive sentences in Domesday Book pointing out a place, ownership, loss and tragedy. Girt by its own border line, Honley was owned or held by two Saxon Thanes or " free-necked men,"" named Cola and Suuen, whose names are typical of the ancient dwellers of the soil previous to the Conquest.

A Saxon Thane varied in position. As a rule, he was the great man of the neighbourhood holding his lands direct from his King, and rerderinmng him service according to his possessions. - With regard to the meaning of carucate, opinions differ according to the period and nature of the ground. One authority writes that it was as much land as could be ploughed in a year and a day, and ancther, that it measured about 100 or 120 acres. In the year 1198, one hundred acres went to a carucate. The word waste used in the condition of Honley, may prove that it was included in the devastation wrought by the Conqueror. The word may also convey a different meaning. The moorlands in our neighbourhood were at this time the most inaccessible and desolate in Britain. A

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few of the dwellers in such a remote place, situated at the extremity of this isolated district, might thus be able to seek shelter until the army of the Conqueror had passed onward on its ravaging course. The deserted appearance might thus convey the idea that the place was not inhabited. - Certainly our sturdy North-bred Spirit has never been subdued, so that its character must have been preserved by some means.

Cola and Suuen supported by kinsmen and followers, would no doubt fight long and fiercely in defence of their liberties and possessions. - No record however has come down to us from that stalwart age describing their resistance, there being no newspapers in those days to report warlike bravery or grievous wounds. We only know that Norman William was merciless in exacting abject submission, depriving those who had been spared in battle of their lands, and giving them to his own knights. Perhaps Cola died fighting, (r sought refuge in the forest and thus became an outlaw, there being nc further record of this Honley landowrer or Thane. It is not my province to erter into a controversy in this history whether Castle Hill became a Norman stronghold after the Conquest, or that previcusly it had been held by Cola and Suuen as a Saxon fortress. Mr. R. Holmes an expert in early Yorkshire history states that Suuen did not dwell in this neighbourhood though holding lands in Honley, Meltham and Almondbury. These were given by Norman to Ilbert-de-Lacy one of his favoured and most powerful Barons.

Suuen was the son of Alric the owner of Pontefract Castle, who was also deprived of his possessions in favour of Ilbert- de-Lacy. According to various authorities Suuen was not altogether reduced to penury. His descendants can be traced to the time of Charles I. as holding estates in different parts of Yorkshire, but not in this neighbourhood. This can be accounted for by the fact that Norman William took lands from those who refused to bend their necks to him, but allowed others to retain a certain part of their possessions if loyal subjects to his rule. This favour however was loaded with unjust restrictions. The Saxon Thanes held their lands only

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as tenants in Capite, that is, they had to pay rents and render certain kinds of service to their king or the more favoured Norman Baron.

Feudalism was in existence in Honley during the time of of Cola and Suuen, but of a different nature from that intro- duced after the Conquest. A native dweller had no inclination to struggle against his Lord bred and born in the same place, and attached to each other by close ties. If " suite and service " had to be rendered, the vassal had the protection and support of his Lord in return. If he could not marry his daughter without consent, this was necessary in a rugged age when the sword had to rule, as a precaution against becoming united with his Lord's enemies. The vassalage therefore accepted by the dwellers previous to the Conquest was voluntary on their part, but the Norman was hated, not only as an oppressor, but as a stranger.

No better idea of a Cola and Suuen, the characteristics of our neighbourhood, and existence of Norman Feudalism at this period can be gained than by reading the opening chapters of Nir Walter Scott's " Ivanhoe," in which he describes Cedric of Rotherwood dwelling near Sheffield.

From the time of the Conquest the track of years now leads us on to the days of Edward II., when Honley is again mentioned in the person of its Lord. During these three hundred years much conflict had again been raging. Crown had struggled against Church-Church against Crown- and powerful Barons had wrested their Magna Charta from a reluctant king ; thus winning English liberty.

In an old deed dated 1315, it appears that Thomas Planta- genet Earl of Lancaster the grandson of Henry III., was Lord of the Manors of Huddersfield, Almondbury, Meltham and Holme ; these estates coming to him on account of his marriage with Alise, the heiress of the great house of De Lacy. Amongst the names who were giving him rents and services was that of Richard Waley, Lord of Honley, the word Lord having been substituted for that of Thane under Norman rule.

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Forced since the Conquest to render service to the Norman Barons in whatever rash expedition they undertook, there was no other alternative for Richard Waley but to support the Earl of Lancaster in his claim to the crown against Edward II. As the defeated side always fared badly in those days, the Earl was beheaded in his own Castle at Pontefract, which had previously been taken from Alric, the father of Suuen and given to llbert-de-Lacy. The life of Richard Waley only was spared by paying a heavy ransom, and giving bond under his own seal, that he would submit himself to the king's will ; and henceforth be a faithful and obedient servant. The Lord of Honley was fined 2,000 marks, and all his lands confiscated. The English mark was worth about 13/4 at this period. This sum represented much mors in value than at present, so that the fine was a large sum of money. There is no further record of Richard Waley, for the Lord of Honley would not only be penniless, but landless ; and the " landless man " was a term which held bitter meaning.

We next find that in 1344, the Wallis family of Burg Wallis were Lords of Honley for a short period. Its value was forty shillings, and size two miles long, and a mile and a-half broad. The Stapyltons followed the Wallis family in possession. and held the Manor until the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

We obtained our earliest glimpse of Honley from Domesday Book, and now comes the first mention of the Woollen industry which would then take root, and has sirce flourished in the neighbourhood. (The history of the staple trade of the district will be found under its own Chapter). At this time there are not only records of a corn-mill, but also a " walk " or fulling- mill, at Honley and Steps. Both places retain their names in memory of the ancient mills which once stood upon the ground, viz : Steps Mill and Honley Mill. At this period, I have no trace of names of tenants of these Mills, or the value of rents paid until 200 years later. The present name of Lord's Mill is suggestive also of those Feudal days, when free-holder and

tenant were forced to grind corn and mill their cloth at the Lord's Mill.

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Wars were costly even in that age, and the dwellers in Honley were not overlooked in the matter of taxes, having to pay their share in helping to fill a Treasury which was generally empty. In the particulars of an ancient tax made in 1379 of the Wapen- take of Aggebrigge (Agbrigg), Honley was taxed at 11/-. At the same time, Huddersfield was taxed at 13/4, which establishes the fact that Honley of that date was not far behind Huddersfield in importance. Before the time of the Conquest, Yorkshire had been mapped out into districts known as Shires, Hundreds, Wapentakes, etc., and Agbrigg is the name of one of the ancient divisions in this neighbourhood in which Honley was included. The mapping out was not only for purposes of strict control and oversight of the dwellers under Feudal law, but also to know the number of fighting men available in the district, this being a necessity in an age when might was the only right. The word Aggebrigge (Agbrigg) owes its derivation to Saxon Mythology and its situation. Wapentake means Wappen (weapon) tac (touch or take)-hence Wapen- take, that is men, dwelling there who are able to touch or take a weapon.

The Yorkshire Archzological Society published a list of names in the Wapentake of Aggebrigge (Agbrigg) mentioned in this Subsidy Roll of 1379. This was an obnoxious exaction known as the Poll Tax, so named on account of one shilling per head being charged upon each person, rich or poor, over fifteen years of age. It may, or may not, be interesting to those ignorant of the fact, to know that our surnames originated from the trade, residence or characteristics of our forefathers. Amongst the twenty-five Honley persons who were forced to pay this hateful tax are to be found the same names still existing in our midst. In the list are such names as Rogerus Couper and Alicia, (Roger the Cooper and Alice), Johannes Dere and Agnes, (John of the dean and Agnes), William de fforest and Alicia, (William of the forest and Alice), Elizabeth de Wellshill, (Elizabeth of Well-hill), Henricus de Raynerd, (Henry of the Reynard), Thomas de Walker and Agnes, etc. Roger would be a Cooper, John of the Dene would

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be named from his dwelling at the head of a valley, likewise Elizabeth living upon Well-hill. The ancient trade of a cloth- fuller was named °" Walker," on account of treading the pieces of cloth by the feet in the act of milling-hence Thomas the Walker was a cloth-fuller. Henry of the Reynard probably dwelt in the forest, acting in the capacity of fox-killer. - Reynard has gradually changed in local vocabulary to the present '* Onyard " which is a small remnant still left of the forest. William of the forest also would no doubt dwell there.


We will try and realise what Honley would be like at the time of this Poll Tax in 1379. It had been given its name, so the low level land which stretches from the river's source down the whole length of the valley had been named Holm or Holme, which indicates a tract of flat land on either side of water. As generations passed, clearings from the forest had been made for open spaces, dwellings, and other buildings. The latter were built near the stream on account of the more favourable formation of the ground, and also of the necessity for water. Elizabeth, of Well-hill, had erected her home near a well, and no doubt many dwellings would also be planted upon higher land near springs of water. The houses constructed of wood, from the plentiful supply of timber near at hand, were without chimneys, holes serving for windows not only in hut, but in hall. The interiors perhaps would only contain an oak bench, table, and a few primitive cooking utensils ; and the dwellers would be in ignorance of the most elementary laws of health. Flocks, herds, river and nature around supplied food and clothing. Dwelling together, side by side, in a small group,

weaving, spinning, and tilling the ground ; they lived secluded

and far apart from such places as York or Leeds-names having but dim meaning for the generality of Honley dwellers of that date. News would travel slowly to their ears, if at all. Myths and superstitions formed the greater part of their religion. Education was unknown amongst them, personal strength and feats of arms being more valued than learning. A rough

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kind of justice was in existence, a local Court being held at Almondbury, which kept up a semblance of law and order. It was named the Court Leet, and exercised full power both in civil and criminal cases. (Leet is Saxon for Little Court). Thus we see that if Norman rule exacted hard service, Feudal tyranny had not deterred Honley dwellers from building homesteads, tilling lands, making clothing, and learning trades. With regard to amusements, no doubt they would indulge in the same sports and pastimes which were common at that period. The youth who twanged his arrow further than that of his rival, or wielded his quarter-staff quicker than his opponent, would be the object of the same kind of hero wor- ship as the present football or cricket champion. As the sun went down, the fighting, running, or wrestling victor would perhaps cool his lips, and the shock-headed waistrel dip his wounded head in the clear Honley well stream, as at present.

Honxnury Moor.

There is reliable evidence that at this period the forest which spread over Honley Moor was tenanted by wolves, deer, and other wild animals ;-place-names, such as Wolf-stones, Stagwood-bottom, etc., keeping their haunts in memory. People are familiar with the ancient tragedy of the Beaumont and Elland feud from the many written accounts of the quarrel between the two families. It is not my intention to dwell upon the feud so typical of the life of the period when blood- bond was still honoured, and kinsmen joined in family quarrels ; only to prove that wild animals of the chase roamed at liberty upon Honley Moor and its vicinity at this time.

Beaumont, of Crosland Hall, and Elland, of Elland, were two powerful Barons in their own domains between whom hatred and contention existed. When a Beaumont, assisted by his kinsmen, Quarmby of Quarmby, and Lockwood of Lockwood, had finally slain the last of the Ellands ; Beaumont and Lockwood escaped to Canon Hall, Cawthorne. For a time, Lockwood was sheltered from justice, but was eventually betrayed and cruelly put to death. It is recorded that Adam

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Beaumont returned to Crosland Hall, and lived for a time unmolested " hunting the red and fallow deer at Honley and Holmfirth." When the seclusion of this once picturesque domain was gradually disturbed by erections of dwellings here and there, many of the wild animals became extinct for reasons of safety. The En:losure Act, the particulars of which follow in order of dates, was the cause of extermination of the rest-the wild or pole-cat locally named " pow-cat " struggling longest for existence amongst us. The saying of " stinking like a pow-cat," is still in common use. In Almondbury Registers are frequent entries relating to payments to Honley of one shilling per head for "foomards " and foxes which continued until the beginning of 1700. (Pole-cats are also locally named foomards.)

There is an oral tradition in Honley connected with this time, but as we do not live in the dark ages when people " held such strange tale devoutly true ;" my readers must accept it with reserve. The present modern shops on the left hand side of Church Street, leading to the Church, replaced a massive old building of timber that was formerly used in the business of tallow-chandling or candlemaking by an old Honley family named Midwood. There may be people yet left in our long- lived neighbourhood, who can recall this ancient dwelling before its destruction. If not, I have often heard in my earlier years, old people describe its overhanging oak-gabled front, general architecture and size ; all giving indications of having been at one time a dwelling of importance. There was a tradition handed down in the family of the late owner of the property, that a petty king had once occupied the house. No doubt a historical dwelling once stood upon the place holding a commanding position, the various entrances to Honley known as " gates," all leading to the site. Perhaps the dwelling of a Saxon Thane, or later that of Richard Waley, Lord of Honley occupied the ground ; but no records are forthcoming.

The Roman Catholic religion prevailed at this time, and we shall find proofs in the history of the Church, that an Oratory

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1503 was in existence in Honley previous to 1503. It was customary, at this period, for the great man in the place to provide and uphold his own private Oratory for himself and dependents. Only a person of importance would thus be able to maintain a religious building and Chaplain, so that this is evidence of such a person living in the village at this period who might have occupied the house in Church Street.

I must here make a digression. The word Chapel will frequently come into use when alluding to the early history of the and many of its ancient offices. This may convey a wrong idea to people who associate the name with a dissent- ing place of worship. Its ancient meaning is different. St. Martin, before conversion, possessed a cloak or capella which he divided with a beggar. The garment became one of the most treasured possessions of the Merovingian kings who carried the cloak with them on their journeys, and when at rest placed it in an Oratory. - On account of sheltering the cloak or capella, the Oratory came to be named capella or chapel. When the dwellers in Honley erected their own place of worship, the building would again be named chapel, meaning relief or ease for the inhabitants from attending the Mother Church at Almondbury. The word remained in use until the re-building of the Church in 1843. The meaning of the word chapel when brought into use in the early history of Honley will, therefore, be understood in its true sense.

With regard to the names of four of our oldest roads, I am unable to say why they were originally designated " gates," the names of which are still retained. In the old Saxon the meaning of gate is a passage, way, or street. The modern meaning, of course, indicates entrance to a walled city. There are no records that Honley was surrounded by walls, or with- stood sieges. The names of Eastgate, Westgate, Nortgate and Southgate, may, therefore hold the same meaning as in Saxon days-the chief entrance leading for all purposes to the centre of the village being distinguished by the name of " the gate " as at present.

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In the reign of King Henry VIII., a Subsidy Roll of the Wapentake of Agbrigg was again made to help to meet the expenses of the French war. In the year 1524, Honley paid 9/- as its share in the persons of Thomas Taylour (Taylor) who paid 4/- for 8/- worth of goods, Roger Armytage (Armitage) 4/- for 8/- worth of goods, and Henry Wilson 12d. for 4/- worth of goods. (When giving extracts from ancient deeds, their old mode of spelling names will be copied). It is interesting to note the names of these early tax-payers in Honley-grand old christian names and surnames redolent of our hillsides. - It is also of value to know the worth of clothing at this date, which was so great, that legacies of garments frequently occur in many old wills in Honley. Giles Ermytage (Armitage), son of Roger, of Hall Ing made a will dated 1568, bequeathing his wedding doublet, coat, pair of hose, etc. (The history of the Armitage family will be found in the Chapter of Honley families).


The unsanitary conditions of the people were favourable to disease, such as the dreadful scourge named the Plague or ** Black Death," which was prevalent at various times, strik- ing panic into the hearts of people who only dared to bury their dead by night. Dr. Whitaker gives records of its fearful havoc in this neighbourhood in 1558, and describes burials at night by a solitary kinsman or kinswoman. Woodsome, Holmfirth and Scammonden were visited by the Plague, but Honley is not mentioned. Small pox, however, was a common visitation in Honley until the vaccination discovery of Dr. Jenner. The inhabitants not being favourable to innovations, stoutly refused to accept this blessing until forced.

At this period, the Stapyltons were still Lords of the Manor, having held the Lordship of Honley for over 300 years, when the fortunes of war brought changes. Sir Robert Stapylton fighting on a defeated side in battle was fined so heavily for this mischance, that he was forced to sell his lands, estates and royalties in Honley. The deeds bearing dates 1569

Page 23




recording the sales have been transcribed by the late Mr. John Nowell, and it is due to the interest taken by local antiquarians, that the particulars were printed in the journals of the York- shire Archzological Association. Previous to the Norman Conquest, transfer of land was not shackled by legal phrases and expensive conveyances which at present have a tendency to drive people mad.-Buyer and seller adopted a more simple process by delivering a piece of turf cut from the soil. Having had access to many ancient Honley deeds, for purposes of tracing family pedigrees and finding materials for this history, I noted that the old custom of delivering earth from the land that was bought or sold was still in existence in Honley in 1569. Fastened to many of these deeds are small canvas bags, yellow with age, containing earth taken from the land to which the writings relate. Another old custom in existence when the surrender or changing of lands took place was the placing of a straw into the hands of steward or copyholder. The stem of straw is attached to the seal upon many of these old


In the Stapylton deeds mentioned, dated Oct. 24th, 1569, Sir Robert sold lands and premises at Honley to Leonard Berye (Berry), Yeoman, Oldfield, for a certain sum, an annual rental of 11/4 and services to his Lord. Other deeds contain particulars of sales of other lands and dwellings on the same conditions to various Yeomen in Honley-notably John Beaumont, Richard Wilson, Edward Hirst, James Lockwood, Roger Lockwood, John Crosley, James Taylour (Taylor), Edward Lockwood, John Baylie (Bailey) and others. Sir John Kaye, of Woodsome, (the ancestor of the present Dart- mouths), bought the largest share of Honley property from Sir Robert Stapylton. This purchase included woods, a corn-mill, walk-mill (probably. Honley and Steps Mills) and other estates, together with the Royalties. The Dartmouth family have held the Lordship of Honley since that time. In details of the various buildings sold by Sir Robert Stapylton the turf-house is of importance, showing that the moorlands around provided good supplies of turf for warmth.

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In 1574, mention is again made of the staple trade of the district, which proves that not only had Honley retained its woollen industry, but its clothiers exported cloth. _ An extract from °" Gregson's Fragments of Liverpool," is as follows :- * 1574. To register the losse of the small boat, the Swanne of Wynstanleys' owners, Edward Lawrence, of Liv pole, Master under God. The good Marchant, Mr. John Armetage, of Farnley Tyas (High Royd), in the Countie of York, alais Clothier, with rich stocke from Liv'pole to Knockfergus after shipwreck came to hand and fell among the Rebell Kernes, and were then most vilianouslie murthered, slayne, and cut in pieces as if the vilest kind of fleshe, contrarie to the will and pleasure of God."

In a will drawn up by Dame Johanna Hepworth, dated Aug. 11th, 1620, reference is again made to our staple industry. She mentions owing £20 to Michael Bynnes and Sara, his wife, of Brockholes, which sum is to be paid, and proceeds as follows : '* I give to said Michael Bynnes and Sara, his wife, of Brock- holes, my long newe table, a flock bed, and two new blankets, and he to dye all his cloth at my lead till able to get a lead of his own, and I give him the second pair of my best cloth- shears." (For particulars of the family of Bynnes, see Brockholes history).

In 1634, the Rev. Geo. Crosland, Vicar of Almondbury, refers to Honley in the Registers of Almondbury. Written in Latin, he describes one of the protracted and vigorous old-fashioned winters of that date. Mr. Morehouse publishes the trans- lation in his " History of Kirkburton," which reads :-* This year, 1634-5, was remarkable for frost and cold. The snow was in such abundance that it was not possible to go out of door to the corn-mill or to the butchers. Many travellers perished in the storm through hunger and, at which time the inhabitants of Over Thong, bringing for burial the corpse of Marmaduke Pepper, were detained in Honley, and brought it to Church the following day."

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In the same history also, is mention of Charles Nettleton, of Honley, whose family held a high position in the neighbourhood, and whose name is associated with the ancient charities of Almondbury. The family seat was at Thornhill, one Thomas Nettleton dwelling there, marrying Mary, the only daughter of John Baylie (Bailey), previously named, who purchased land from Sir Robert Stapylton. Charles Nettleton probably in- herited the property on the female side, and was either born in Honley or came to reside here, living in the old hall in Church Street, to which reference is previously made. He married Catherine, sister to Captain Horsfall, of Storthes Hall. (The present Asylum now stands in the grounds). During the civil wars between Royalists and Roundheads, Charles Nettleton, along with his brother-in-law, fought on the side of the Royal cause. An extract from the diary of Captain Adam Eyre, of Hazlehead, near Penistone, who supported the opposite party, gives us a picture of merry and neighbourly intercourse between these men before the great civil contest, when kindred was slain by kindred, and friend by friend. Captain Adam Eyre, write as follows :-" Jany. 29th, 1643, spent two shillings with Captain Horsfall and Charles Nettleton of Honley." (Surtees Society). Charles Nettleton died in 1664, and was buried at Almondbury.

In 1570, Hollinshed, who chronicled the events of this period, complained of modern degeneracy on account of chimneys being added to houses ; and lamented the return of the good old days when smoke choked the inmates. The opinion of Hollinshed in 1570 regarding chimneys, is as follows. He writes :-*" Now we have many chimneys, and yet our tender- lings complain of reumes, catarres, and poses ; then had we none but reredoses, and yet our heads did never ake, for as smoke in those days was a hardening for the timber of the house, so it was a better medicine to keep the good man from the quack." The luxury of a fire or a chimney to carry off smoke was productive of another imposition named the Hearth Tax. This tax levied 2/- upon each hearth or fire-place in all houses except cottages.

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Mr. D. F. E. Sykes, in his " History of Huddersfield," gives the names of Honley people taxed in this Subsidy Roll of 1664. There were 71 persons who had hearths which were chargeable, and 45 persons not liable for the tax. The latter had only one hearth each. Out of the 71 persons who were charged, only three people could boast of four hearths each. There were three persons who were taxed for three hearths, seven for two ; and the rest only one each. Mr. Sykes states that at this time there were 117 occupied houses in Honley, affording an estimated population of about six hundred people. The three persons who were so wealthy as to afford four hearths each, were Mrs. Nettleton, William Crosley and Robert Hey.

The widow and daughter of Robert Nettleton, of Thorahill, sold their free rents in Honley property to Joseph Armytage, on April 27th, 1675, which at that time amounted to £9 5s. 4id. From these particulars, it may be surmised that the Honley branch of Nettletons had returned back to the family seat at Thornhill, there being no further records of Nettletons dwell- ing in Honley after payment of the Hearth Tax.

Mr. Hughes in his " History of Meltham," records an In- quisition in 1677, being the Court Baron of the Lords of Meltham Manor, when John Wood, of Honley, was fined 3/4 for unlawfully fishing in the Meltham Stream which flowed down by way of Wood-bottom and Mag-bridge as at present.

T wo extracts from the diary of the Rev: Robert Meeke, who was Incumbent or Curate-in-Charge of Slaithwaite from 1685 to 1724, throws light not only upon the Sunday recreations of Honley dwellers, but also its hospitality at this period. He writes :-" Sept 17th, 1689. Went to Huddersfield and from thence to Honley. There was a race there. I rode with them amongst the crowd, looking for Mr. Philipson but found him not." (Mr. was curate-in-Charge of Honley). '* Afterwards I found him, and he granted my request. There was multitudes. Oh ! how fond is the generality of men to see such vanities more prone to meet on such occasions than for spiritual things."

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* Sept. 27th, 1693. Rode to Honley to see Dame H-- and about half-dozen of our neighbouring wives went with me. Dined there and returned."

I infer that according to dates and other circumstances, Dame H--, is Dame Johanna Hepworth, who, according to her will had close connection with the Clerical family of Bynnes. (See Brockholes history).

An extract from Almondbury Register is interesting, not only on account of local names, but proving that the district was as favourable to long life as at present, if the laws of health are not abused. The Vicar of Almondbury recorded four burials of persons which took place in that Church within the space of 48 hours. Their united ages amounted to 354 years. Their names are Nicholas Grime (Graham), of Brockholes, buried March 9th 1695, aged 96 years. Maria Earnshaw, of Honley, widow, buried March l1th, 1695, aged 90 years. Dina Kaye, of Castle Hill, widow, buried March 10th, 1695, aged 105 years. Alice, widow of Daniel Dyson Crosland, buried March 10th, aged 63 years.

- Many interesting extracts from ancient deeds, wills, etc., bearing dates previous to those already given will be found in the history under headings with which they are more closely connected.

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(Honley at the beginning of 1700.-Extract from Meltham Assessment in 1709.-Threatened Invasion of Scotch Pretender.- Extract from Almondbury Invasion of the Young in 1747.-Honley Book Club.-- - Assessment in 1761.-Particulars of Constables and Overseers who served in 1700.-John Wesley.-The Enclosure Act, -Local Loyalty during French Revolution). -


As years passed, Norman and Saxon had been merged in marriage, serf become tengnt, tenant landowner, Feudal law gradually abolished, and Popish Church become Protestant. The wooden houses of an earlier date had been replaced by erections built of stone to which chimneys were attached, the Hearth Tax being abolished in 1664. According to the returns of the Hearth Tax of that date, there was not a great dividing line in social position between the dwellers in Honley. At the beginning of 1700, they were still a race of small landed pro- prietors, tradesmen and persons in their employment. The climate being bleak, and land unproductive, the small land owner had been forced by necessity to add another industry

to that of farming. The clothing trade had been generally

chosen on account of natural advantages favourable to its production, and the two trades were carried on side by side. Here then had gradually come again into greater prominence the " free-necked " race of men, named yeomen, who, having one gained their freedom never again bent their neck to Priestly or Aristocratic tyranny. Those men of a past day, who, in obscure village or hamlet silently built up the greatness of an Empire, were a distinct class in Honley, gererally engaged in the farming and clothing industries. Master and man, mistress and maid worked side by side under household roofs from early dawn to sunset. Their dwellings were grouped together in lanes, folds and yards ; or spread about upon hill-sides or

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in valleys. As the spinning-wheels whirred on hearths, and looms clacked over heads, long rows of windows ran the whole length of the buildings for purposes of light. If the Hearth Tax had been abolished, a Window-Tax had now to be paid for

this blessing of light.

In a will in my possession, drawn up by Jorathan Sanderson, Clothier, of Honley, one of my forbears, mention is made of the Wirdow-Tax. His daughter Nancy was my great grand- mother, ard in his will, dated November, 1790, he bequeaths to her property upon which the Window-Tax had to be paid, so that at this date the tax had not been repealed in Honley.

At this date civilization had not multiplied wants, so that domestic arrangements in Honley houses were simple. The food was frugal in character, chiefly consisting of oatmeal porridge, tea being 16/- per pound, and flour 8/- per stone. A Clothier in Honley, whose standing at that time was equal to a present-day local manufacturer; drew up his will at this date. He describes in detail his household furnishings, such as buffet, bed-stocks, flock-bed, vallance, seeing-glass, etc. (looking-glass corsidered an unnecessary luxury). These primitive furnishings were looked upon as valuable assets by | his heirs. If carpets were in use, they were too precious for every day wear, scattered sand serving as a covering for stone floors. The orraments, if any, were only of the kind which proved useful in domestic, farming or clothing industries. The smaller houses were generally one storey in height, or " one- _ deckers," and as a rule, sounding with the throb of hand-loom weaving. The furnishings could be taken in at a glance. A loom or spinning-wheel perhaps stood close to a turn-up bed, which served as a resting place at night and ornament for daytime. A few three-legged stools of home manufacture, a table, and baskets filled with materials for weaving or spinning, would occupy the rest of the floor, whilst perhaps a shelf might contain a meagre supply of cooking untensils of a primitive character. The mention of artificial illumination, save that of candles, which were a great luxury, would have conveyed no meaning to Honley people of this date, who awoke at dawn

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and retired at sunset. They would have regarded gas and electricity as akin " to th' owd lad," and best left alone.

With regard to the roads of Honley at the beginning of 1700, they were chiefly bridle-gates, footpaths and lanes leading up steep hill-sides, along cliff tops, or across open moorlands as if having no destination in particular. Picturesque they might be, but very bad, the mud in winter being up to the knees of persons or saddle-girths of horses. The clothier drivirg in his gig, riding upon horseback, or carrying his piece of cloth upon his shoulder to Huddersfield market would not fird fault with bad roads. They had been hewn out ard walked upor by the fourders of his blood, and if quagmires, the mud was native soil. - When riding home late, his emotions would be more stirred by the dread of seeirg footpads " with eyes as large as saucers," or hearing the of chains at the four cross roads, where a parish apprertice had been buried at midnight for ending a miserable life. People who seldom left the sight of their homesteads, had ro use for highways stretching away to un- knowr regiors ard frequented by robbers, cut-throats, body- snatchers, ard other terrible creatures. If a native was forced to travel upor them to reach that distant place, London, there arose the necessity of drawirg up his will ; for he might rever return °" to the rest where he was borr.'" True, a darirg inrovation in the shape of a stagecoach had challenged the old mode of travelling by stage-waggon, pack-horse, or privately owned vehicle. A stage-coach had commenced to run at the cost of much horse-flesh and wanton risk of lives on April 12th, 1706, from York to London. It was timed to reach the latter place in four days ((God permitting). It was seldom, however, that the journey was accomplished in the advertised time unless in summer, so that only persons bent upon self- destruction would venture upon such a foolhardy trip, even if the " Flying Machine," as it was named, passed in tempting distance of Honley, which was not the case.

But new forces were gathering. The century was to brirg forth greater worders than a stage-coach able to travel with relays of horses, fifty miles in one day. The Yorkshire pro-

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phetess, Mother Shipton, of Knaresborough, had predicted wonderful events, the foundations for such achievements being laid in this dramatic century. A great preacher was also to arouse England to her old ideas of piety and religion, like as Savonarolo stirred the Florentines in the 15th century. Many of these events which greatly affected the dwellers in Honley, will be recorded in their due order of dates.

In Mr. Hughes' " History of Meltham," there is reference to James Roberts, of Steps Milne, in Honley, who rents a fulling: Milne in Meltham, at the yearly rental of £11 0s. Od.

An assessment was made in this year for relief of the poor of Honley, by Joseph Swallow, Overseer at that date. The totai amount raised and disbursed by him was £9 3s. 11d. This assessment shows that there were only 91 inhabitants who were worth being assessed. The highest rate of 12/11 was paid by William Crosley, and the lowest was one penny.


There are no records that the inhabitants of a past Honley had much experience of invasions or sieges since the time of Norman William, though threatened hostile entrances of a varied character had produced, in turn, reigns of terror. With the exception of the anticipated visit of the Scotch Pretender, and the expected landing of the French, the invasions have been of local character, such as " Luddism," " Plugging," etc. ; the particulars of which appear in their dated order. When the first Scotch Pretender, James Stuart, made his attempt upon the British Crown, orders were issued in 1715 for each town and village to find men and furnish them with arms and clothing for the purpose of defence ; for we must remember that we had no standing army at this date. The writer, when a child, saw a dilapidated military coat and hat at the house of an aged relative that had been in use at this time. The coat was of red cloth, trimmed with brass buttons and a band of yellow lace adorned the hat.

In Almondbury Registers, is entered the burial in this year of Robertus Scholefield de Honley Equite, Equestic, Honley

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More. (Robert Schofield of Honley, Knight, Honley Moor). The Schofields are an old Honley family whose dwelling was situated upon Horley Moor, ard descendants are still living in the place. The word Knight, or as it is written in Latin, Equite, was a military term in use under Feudal Law, dis- tinguishing between the position of a person who could follow his Lord on horseback, or only on foot. Robert Schofield evidently held a considerable area of land thus to be able to rerder the Knight's service.

Though Feudalism had gradually fallen into disuse, it is difficult to trace the exact date when it became extinct. In an isolated place like Honley evidently a few lingering remains of the old observances existed, for it was not ur.til 1750 that Lord Mansfield pronounced the death-blow of Feudalism from the judicial bench in his famous sentence, that " the air of England has long since been too free for a slave."

ScoTcx InvasIonN.

In December, 1744, it was rumoured that Charles Stuart, the son of the old Pretender, James Stuart, was in this neighbour- hood, and great consternation reigned. " Watch and Ward " was ordered. Before the days of policemen the " Watch and Ward Act " gave authority to Magistrates to order all people, who were rated for relief of the poor, to take up the duty of watching by right' and warding by day. During the Civil War, the greater number of Honley dwellers had fought on the side of Puritanism. - They looked with suspicious eyes upon Popery,

- or those professing that religion ; so that young Charles Stuart,

who was a Roman Catholic, fourd no favour in the eyes of Honley dwellers. Even if their Puritanism had not been of that sturdy growth, which is not soon uprooted, the law- abiding inhabitants had not forgotten the misery of the Civil Wars, and, therefore, had no wish to disturb a settled dynasty. According to old traditions handed down in the neighbourhood, the natives to a man were hostile to the young Pretender and his scotch followers. It is recorded that the dwellers in Honley barricaded the steep hill, known as Green Cliffe, with bags of wool. On the heights around sentries kept watch. The bottom

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portion of Green Cliffe still retains its name as " Sentry ° on account of this once narrow defile being thus guarded by watchers. If the young Pretender sighted Honley, he entered from the opposite direction when on his march over the moor- lands. The place is still pointed out where he is supposed to have reached, and named Scot-Gate Head. Personally, I am inclined to think, that Scot-Gate Head was so named on account of offering the nearest way to and from Scotland ; or that it was the road used by the Moss-troopers.

Previous to the uniting of Scotland to England, and long after the union, bands of Scottish Border Marauders were wont to sweep down upon the Northern Counties, pillaging, driving off cattle, and murdering, if necessary. Parishes (and persons also whose dwellings were isolated) kept in readiness blood- hounds or sleuth-hounds to scent,-mastiff dogs to worry,- boiling water to scald, and large stones to crush the freebooters. During the earlier and middle part of the 19th century, descend- ants of these dogs were common in Honley and the neighbourhood. It is recorded that the son of a farmer living upon Honley Moor, had occasion to go to Meltham upon his father's business. Hearing that Scottish raiders had been sighted, he hastened back home. With the assistance of neigh- bours, the family prepared for resistance, one great help of defence being boiling lead which was poured over the intruders from an upper window. In the erd, the Moss-troopers were repulsed. A galloway foal running by the side of its dam was left behind and retained by the farmer. One of its foals was sold to my great grandfather, James Tilburn, and proved of wonderful stamina. Being " war ror a heighlander " (worse than a highlander) was a common proverb in my early days, if describing the character of a person who was not particular with regard to theft. Though conjectures should not become realities, yet the many old tales to which I listened when a child regarding both the advance of " Bonnie Price Charlie," and previously Moss-troopers' raids, rather inclines me to think that Scot-Gate received its name either from being con- nected with the latter, or that it was the " gate " to and from

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Scotland. There may have been a skirmish of some kind with the Stuart followers, but there are no records only oral tradition. No doubt accounts brought into the village day by day would be vague and contradictory. If any of the followers of Charles Stuart reached Scot-Gate, they would perhaps be stragglers, bent on plunder to sustain themselves upon what would be at that time a terrible march in the depth of winter. I am, how- ever, open to correction on this point.

We have another old legend, handed down in Honley, that the road leading from Magbridge to Netherton Moor was, during the Wars of the Roses, held by the followers of the House of York, whose distinguishing mark was the wearing of a white rose. Hence its present name of White-gate. Previous to the Enclosure Act, this road, though only a narrow defile surrounded by forest and moorland, was in existence, but it had no name. Whether a battle was fought here during the wars of the Roses, (which was probable), or that the defile was only held by the followers of the White Rose of Yorkshire, I am unable to say.

An Assessment, made in February, 1747, of the whole town- ship, comprising Brockholes, Deanhouse, and Oldfield, was of the rateable value of £14 18s. 10d., showing an increase of £3 14s. 11d. since 1709.

Hoxrury Book CLUB, 1750.

By the kindness of William Brooke, Esq., an old book in his possession has been lent to me from the contents of which may be gathered much insight regarding the literary tastes prevailing during the middle of the 18th century, amongst that class of men who have not only built up the commercial prosperity of the country, but kept alive its best traditions, and taken the keerest interest in the welfare of the people. This home-made book of faded leaves ard cardboard backs, contains particulars of the formation, rules, list of members, names of books, etc. of a Society named " The Horley Book Club," established 1750. I believe that this Club was the first of its kind in the neighbourhood, the earliest Subscription Library in Huddersfield not being formed until 1807, when

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many of the Horley Book Club members joined, after the disbanding of their own in 1823. The following are the founders of the Club. Each member signed his name in the book, and the signatures are characteristic of the striking personality of those who wrote them.

The Rev. R. Risbton, Vicar of Almondbury (noted for his methodical care of Almondbury Registers) ; Rev. J. Harrop, Incumbent of Holmfirth ; Mr. Battye, Surveyor, Huddersfield ; Mr. Joseph Armitage (Ancestor of present Armitages) ; Rev. W. Croft, Curate-in-Charge, Honley ; Mr. James Haigh ; Mr. W. Thompson ; Mr. Learoyd ; Mr. Anthony Armytage, Thick- hollins, Meltham ; Mr. D. Crosland, Crosland Hill;, Mr. Whitacre, Whitacre Mill, Huddersfield and Mr. Atkinson, Bradley Mills, Huddersfield.

On May lst, 1762, the membership of the Club had increased considerably. The following are a few representative names of the leading families in the district at that period who belonged to the Honley Book Club :-Mr. Robson, Drysalter ; Mr. Robert and Charlee Walker, Far End (Ancesters of the Waddingtons) ; Mr. Abraham and J oseph Horsfall (the former either father or uncle to Mr. Horsfall who was shot by Luddites) ; Mr. Joseph V‘Vilson, Netherthong ; Mr. - Eli Winpenny, Holmfirth ; Mr. Richard Gill, Thurstonland ; Mr. Joseph Jagger, Hagg ; Rev. E. Hasleham, Curate-in-Charge, Honley (opposed to the rise of Wesleyanism); Rev. E. Armistead, Incumbent of Meltham ; Nathaniel Berry, Dean- house ; M1. Thomas Leigh, Town Head (Grardfather to the late Mr. Wm. Leigh Brook, Meltham); Mr. William Brooke and Mr. John Brooke, Merchants and Manufacturers (Ancestors of the Brooke family); Mr. William Roberts, Farnley Tyas ; Mr. William Leigh, Church Street (father of the late Mrs. Hough, of South Crosland); Rev. J. Alexander, Curate-in- Charge, Honley (he read prayers for John Wesley when preach- ing at Honley); Mr. Benjamin Robinson, Town Head, Merchant ; Mr. Joseph and Thomas Kaye, Roydhouse, Almondbury ; Mr. Cookson Stephenson, Holmfirth ; Mr. Walter Beaumont ; Captain Moorhouse, New Mill ; Dr. Stocks and

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Dr. Wordsworth, Holmfirth ; Rev. John Mattinson, Master of Kirkheaton Grammar School and sometime Curate-in- Charge of Honley ; Mr. Jonas Brook, Meltham Mills and

founder of the firm, etc.

Literary food was so scanty at this period, that these virile men of a past day, whose physical and mental capacities were unimpaired, valued books as rare treasures. They journeyed from surrounding districts to Honley once a month, for the purpose of loaning precious volumes obtained at much trouble and cost-a copy of which can now be bought for a penny, and read by the poorest child.

The members of the Honley Book Club first met at the George and Dragon Inn, now converted into the Working Man's Club. The landlord was Mr. Benjamin Batley, under whose symbolical signboard the fruit of the vine was found in its cob-webbed perfection. From the rules in the book, I infer that the members met once a month, not only to obtain books to read, but also to criticise and assimilate all that was best in the literary output of that period. Smollet's " History of England," which the author was publishing at that time, was in great request by the members. They also appresiated his humorous works, °" Roderick Random," " Expedition of Humphrey Clinker," etc., being favourites. " Gangannell's Letters," Gibbon's " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," also his " Universal History," and other Histories appeared, according to entries in the book, to be held in great esteem. The 18th century was proving such an age of expansion and discovery, that accounts of tours, travels, and descriptions of then unknown countries were eagerly read. Brave explorers were setting out on voyages of risk and adventure to find places, the names of which are now household words. The scanty accounts of the discoveries of such men as Captain Cook, proved of thrilling interest to men, whose descendants nearly two hundred years afterwards would perhaps have business dealings with the then unknown parts of the earth. The new form of publication, known as a Magazine, had become a feature of general literature of that date. The " Tatler,"

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OLD CoNsSTABLES' STAvVES. (see page 27).

FIELD END. (see page 47).

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** Spectator," " Rambler," " Lounger," " Adventurer," etc.

were placed on the list of books. As time went on, the cir-

culation of Goldsmith's " Vicar of Wakefield," Montesquien's ** Spirit of Laws," "Gil Blas," "Don Quixote," Smith's ** Wealth of Nations," " Burke," " Arabian Nights," " Edge- worth's Tales," etc., all prove that these men, in the middle of the 18th century, could appreciate with fine discrimination what was best in literature.

The members of the Club, after meeting for fifty years at the George and Dragon Inn, resolved upon a change. At a meeting, held July 3lst, 1800, it was agreed to remove to ** Ye Wheat Sheaf Inn," the house of Will Theaker, famed for its Holland's gin, and Jamaica rum. The landlord was an ancestor of the present family of that name. New rules were formed, a dinner provided when the members met, etc., but interest in the Club gradually waned. On April 17th, 1823, only seven members remained of the original number. It was decided to disband the Club after being carried on 73 years short of one month. The books were equally divided amongst the remaining seven, whose names were Mr. James Stocks, Fisher Green ; Mr. Edward Lees, Surgeon ; Mr. J. G. Armitage ; Mr. Thomas Beaumont ; Mr. Joshua Hinchliffe, Holmfirth ; Mr. Robert Wrigley, Netherton ; and Mr. William Leigh, Church Street.

In 1761, an Assessment was again made upon Honley property. It is interesting to know the value placed upon certain properties for purposes of assessment at this date. ** Pound of pepper," in Gynn Lane, was valued at 15/-, so that, perhaps, the old tradition of this ground once being exchanged for a pound of pepper may be true (spices being not only rare but expensive). Park Riding was valued at 13/-, Wood-top brows at 9/-, Marsh Platt at 15/-, Hagg-Lays (leys) at 14/-, etc.


Since the Norman Conquest, we have seen that the Court Leet and Inquistion dispensed a rugged kind of justice until

Page 40




the time of Edward III., when Constables were in existence. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Overseers of the poor were also ordered to be appointed in every parish on account of the dreadful state of the country. Honley, at this date, was still under the Lord of the Manor with regard to its Court Leet, but its feudal obedience was not rigorous. The Court was held once a year, at Almondbury, when a Constable to keep in order unruly spirits, an Overseer to relieve the poor, and a pinder to impound straying cattle, were appointed to Honley. We had a Will-Brooke de Horley (William Brooke, of Honley) serving as Constable in 1685. He signed at this date the terrier or inventory of the lands and tenements left by Godfrey Beaumont, for the mainterarce of Honley and Meltham Church Ministers, the particulars of which are given in Church history. From this time, or probably earlier, until the office became merged in that of Churchwarden, the parochial duties and the affairs of the township were carried on side by side. The Church Vestry was the appointed place of meeting for transacting all business relating to either religious or civil government. The duties of the Overseer were almost identical and the two offices were generally combired, the Constable being able to act as Overseer by virtue of his office.

Policemen not being in existence until the Police Act of 1850 came into force ; the duty of keeping a turbulent neigh- bourhood in order fell to the lot of the Constable, so that he was chosen not only on account of high moral character, but also for bis strength, assaults upon his person being common. So many and varied were the duties that a Constable was called upon to perform, that a list of names of persons eligible for the office had to be yearly furnished on account of dis- inclination to accept the responsibilities. Constables were invested with great powers ard authority according to old Parish Laws. They had to levy, collect and distribute all taxes, take care of churches, see that no sabbath-breaking, drunkenness, fighting, theft, etc., took place in their townships, and in general, look after the moral, spiritual ard physical well-being of the reighbourhood.

Page 41




In an old Honley Parish Book, dating from 1663, is a list of '*' ye names of ye Overseers of ye poor of Horley, and ye places which ye served for," and particulars of their duties. Extracts from this book will show the extent of their powers, the dis- agreeable nature of their tasks, ard the state of the country at this period. There is also an account in the book of the poor of Honley who were " badged " in the year 1767, and their rames. Badging was the wearing by persons in receipt of parish relief of a piece of blue or red cloth with the letter " P " upon it, stitched upon the sleeve of the right shoulder. A penalty was imposed upon all Chapelwardens or Overseers relieving anyone who was rot wearirg the badge. At this period, according to authorities, nearly ore-tenth of the people were paupers, so that badgirg was introduced as an attempt to lessen, if possible, the great evil.

Amongst other duties which had to be undertaken by Constable and Overseer, was the maintenance of illegitimate children. On account of the debased morals of the people, the births of illegitimate children were common. The Constables and Overseers did not ercourage this immorality in Honley. They were vigilant in tracing out fathers of such children, ard also ridding the parish of the keep of the latter as soon as possible. As the maintenance from the father ceased at the child's seventh year, these unfortunate children were bound out as parish apprentices at such tender ages as 4, 6, 7, and 11 years of age, according to entries in the old parish bock. If the great Novelist Dickens had not described so vividly the woes of a parish apprentice, a few people, yet living, have heard parents and grandparents speak of the ill-usage to which many were subjected in Honley, for it was a rugged age for both master and apprentice. There are records, however, that others were treated kindly, and many rose to affluence in after life.

Thus we have seen that the local maintenance of law and order had been slowly transferred from the power of the Court Leet, and invested in the persons of Magistrates and Constables. Representatives of these offices, at time, strangely administered justice in our midst, if old traditions are to be believed. Yet

Page 42


if rude, and often tyrannical, it was better than no justice at all. It is interesting also to know, that Honley is still under the present Lord of the Manor with regard to its Court Leet. This ancient Court of Law, to which customs all modern modes of administering justice owe their origin, was held until recent years, when Constable and Pinder were appointed. The yearly custom of holding the Court Leet has now fallen into disuse, and its officers have no duties to perform. If its ancient jurisdiction, however, has been superseded by modern methods, it has not yet become legally obsolete.

The following extracts are copied from " The Accounts of William Jagger, Chapelwarden (Constable) and Overseer, dated 1773-4 from June 22nd, 1773 to June 5th, 1774." Written in the old parish book before mentioned, these accounts of one year's town business, testify to the various duties performed by Constable and Overseer. At this date, the Ecclesiastical and Secular entries cannot be separated, but their meaning will be better understood when reading the history of the Church. Earlier entries are more interesting. Written in too blunt language, the words in use are too expressive for these pages, so are therefore omitted.

1773. s. d. June 22 To court fees 1/8, Paid Mr. Hasleham for a horse to ride on 1/-, to my journey and horse and

expenses there 8/6 in all 2. -. 2. 8 6 , - 27 Spent 1/- admittance according to custom .. 2. - 1 Paid Sexton for mowing docks in Chapel-yard my i part 2s. . 2. -. 2. 2. 6 July 11 Paid at the dinner at Sacrament day 2 ,, - 11 Paid Sexton for washing surplifefs (surplices) and cleaning plate my 4 .. i. 2 06 Aug. 14 A journey to Wakefield to get some Indentures signed 3 6 Sep. 19 Pd. at a dinner at Sacrament day 2 , - 19 Pd. Clerk his half-year's wage 7-6 Nov. 22 Pd. Sexton his half-year's wage 4 6 Dec. 10 Spent when the Rev. Mr. Harrop preached at Honley Chapel 1 _ , - 26 Pd. at a dinner at Sacramental day .. . 2 , - 27 Spent on the Singers as agreed to by the 1nhab1tant§ 5

Page 43



9 9

9 2



2 9

9 9

J une

9 9

9 9

9 9





30 30 30 30

12 15



Was called on by the Overseer to go and remove Hannah Rowbottom and Mary Chapel into Workhouse, and to see some other poor people. _-_ For my time and charge 1/-, and spent 6d. David Hobson, his wife and 3 children was brought by an order from Netherthong to my house and demanded relief. I charge 1/6, for 1 went with them to Honley, and called a few of the principal inhabitants which deemed me to pay in the shot . . . (I was told that the " shot " was a kmd of «"sending the cap around,"" or collecting from those who would pay, and lived nearest If wrong, I am open to correction).

I was sent for to meet the Overseers of Thong and

Honley to sign and seal a certificate which was wrong done before, our townspeople deemed me 2/- to pay in the shot Pd Sexton for cleaning snow out of chapel yards walks my 4 part ». » . » . ». Went with Overseers of the Poor with a family by an ordar to Farnley, for loss of tims and expenses . Spent at a meeting by order of the inhabitants when the ornaments were letten Pd. Clark his half-year's wages Pd. Sexton his half-ysar's wages Pd. for fires making in vestry my 4 part Pd. at dinner at Sacramental day in Passion week.. Pd. for my assessment bill writing Pd. when we met to read the Visitation articles Pd. when we was at Wakefield to Almondbury Churchwarden To Jonathan Sanderson for book-keeping and giving in my accounts R Disbursed jointly £1 9s. 3%d. Honley share 128 61d

Abel Hobson. George Batley. Joseph Sanderson. John Jagger.

Joseph Armitage. William Crosley. Joseph Jagger. Jonathan Sanderson.

. . 8

D N $& ~] --


18 12

These accounts were examined and found correct, and allowed


O) ®


Page 44

1685- 1798


The names of Constables or Chapelwardens who served the Township from 1685 to 1798 and their dates of service are as follows :-1685, Will-Brooke, de Honley; 1746, William Brooke ; 1747-8, John Cockin ; 1750, John Sykes, Wood- bottom ; 1751-5, William Crosley ; 1756-8, Emmanuel Bot- tomley Gynn ; 1759, Richard Armitage, Hall Ing ; 1760-1, Joseph Moorhouse ; 1762, John Lockwood, Brockholes ; 1763, Matthew Haigh, Ridings ; 1764, Joseph Walker ; 1765-6, Joseph Swallow, Oldfield ; 1767, Godfrey Berry, Deanhouse ; 1768, Richard Woffenden, Stagwood-bottom ; 1769-70, John Littlewood, Banks ; 1771-2, Jonathan Sanderson ; 1773-5, William Jagger ; 1776-7, Joseph Armitage ; 1778-80, Thomas Cockin ; 1781-3, George Armitage ; 1785-6, Benjamin Batley ; 1787, Matthew Kaye ; 1788-95, John Brooke ; 1796, Benjamin Townsend ; 1797, James Armitage ; 1798, Nathaniel Berry, Deanhouse ; 1799-1800, Joseph Woodhead, Thirstin.


In the middle of this century, the dwellers in " Merrie England " were not in very joyful mood. Wonderful inventions were bringing great changes, amongst which was the transfer of the woollen industry from the household to the mill. This transition, from the domestic mode of manufactur- ing to its concentration in large buildings, brought many evils in its train. Religious and educational facilities had not kept pace with the rapid increase in population, and the country was in a state of lawlessness and poverty. There had been such a re-action from the time of Puritanism, that the pendulum had swung to the opposite extreme. If historians are correct, the age was godless, the Church sunk in apathy, the people debased, sports and pastimes brutal in character, and virtue looked upon as vice. But religious faith is never really dead in a nation. A small knot of students at Oxford, noted for their piety, were named Methodists in scorn, on account of their methodical or regular way in which they governed their lives. These young men banded themselves together, not only to protest against the deadness of the Church at this period, but also with a determination to bring religion to the masses who,

Page 45


like their betters, were ignorant and brutal to a degree. Three figures stand out of this small group of religious enthusiasts at Oxford, in the persons of Whitefield and the brothers Wesley, whose trumpet-blasts were to sound throughout the world. If Wycliffe was " the morning star of the Reformation," so John Wesley was not only the star, but the bright sun of the great religious revival of the 18th century. Such earnest intense preaching had not been heard before, and soon the pulpits of the Established Church were closed against these men. They then commenced preaching in the ' highways and hedges ' with what result is known to the student of history.

We, in this present century, can never realise what the preaching of Wesley meant during the time of anguish and suffering prevailing amongst the people at this period. His dramatic form of preaching with its intense fervour and simple pathos, appealed strongly to people of mental limitations and circumscribed lives. Spirits thrilled in response to that easy flowing rhetoric which transformed dark existence to romance, and touched lips hitherto dumb in ignorance with the 'live coal ' of eloquence. - Wesleyanism had its converts in every obscure place in the kingdom, and it was said that only the prevailing religious fervour prevented a revolution in the North. - Wesleyanism took deep root in the hearts of Honley people. It would have been difficult at one time to have found a home which did not contain the picture of John Wesley. Devotional hymn singing was a feature of his services, and as years have passed, the passionate love for his grand old hymns has strengthened rather than waned amongst us.

Before giving particulars of the visit of John Wesley to Deanhouse and Honley, a great religious work was performed in the neighbourhood by disciples of Whitefield and Wesley, whose labours have since faded in the background of years. The work of these men are worthy of recall. They travelled long distances to preach the gospel in the open air, or in any cottage that would shelter them, and, often went in fear of their lives. Wesleyanism had taken firm root in districts around Leeds, and the pioneers who came to this neighbourhood were C

Page 46





chiefly from Birstall and its surrounding villages. It was due to the labours of those early Methodist Missionaries that the first Methodist Chapel was erected in the valley of the Holme. This was built at Deanhouse in the year 1769, a hamlet which was included in Honley township until recently.

John Pawson, a Birstall Methodist, writes in 1765 as follows :- ** Mr. Wesley had withdrawn preaching from Huddersfield at the request of the Reverend Mr. Venn, who thought himself sufficient for that parish ; but now we began preaching there again, and by this means a way was opened out into the mountains above, where the people in general are little better than heathens, ignorant and wicked to a degree. The Lord hath since wrought a great change amongst them. Several Chapels have been built in that part, and many souls savingly converted to God. When I was preaching at Thong (Dean- house), the Minister of Honley sent the Constable to take me up. He happened to come in just when I was taking my text. The man was so surprised to find that I took a text out of the Bible that he resolved he would stay and hear me out, he did so, and was converted to the truth, turned to the Lord, found salvation, lived a few years' happy in the love of God, and died in peace. So far was Satan disappointed of his hope in sending the poor man to the preaching."

The Curate-in-Charge of Honley, at this time, was the Rev. Edward Hasleham, B.A., who was strongly opposed to the preaching of the Methodists, or "enthusiasts," as they were named at this time. He was the author of a famous sermon preached in the Parish Church of Batley in 1753, condemning the Methodists of that place. The Rev. Henry Venn, to whom reference is made by John Pawson, was the Vicar of Hudders- field. The preaching of Wesley had not only aroused the people, but also the lethargy of the Clergy, and many awoke to the new enthusiasm. The Rev. Henry Venn was one who joined in the religious revival, and his life was one long day of Christian zeal and activity. His earnest preaching, like the discourse of John Wesley, was of that striking character which aroused all classes of society in his own neighbourhood ; and

Page 47



people streamed in crowds each Sunday to listen-walking six, eight and even ten miles.

We now come to the visit of John Wesley to Deanhouse Chapel, In his Journals, he records that he visited the Chapel on July 6th, 1772. He writes :-" At ten I preached in the

new house at Thong." (Deanhouse).

At this time the level highway between Huddersfield and Holmfirth was not constructed. The main road led from Honley Bridge by way of old Turnpike, Banks and Hagg. At the latter place John Wesley dismounted from his carriage to walk to Deanhouse, the present road being only a bridle-path. After service, Mrs. Dinah Bates, a well-known Deanhouse Methodist of that date, accompanied or came " agatards " with him on his return to Hagg. - She was a person of religious zeal and practical activities, being a noted " leech-woman," and in great request by her neighbours for the curing of ail- ments. Other worshippers also walked with John Wesley: back to Hagg, for his visit must have been a great event in restricted lives. On arrival at Hagg, prompted by the beautiful scenery of the wooded valley which can still be viewed from this old world road, John Wesley shouted forth, in those impassioned tones which generally aroused his hearers to the same religious fervour as his own :-

** Ye mountains and vales in praises abound, Ye hills and ye dales continue the sound, Break forth into singing ye trees of the wood, For Jesus is bringing lost sinners to God."

The four lines are a verse of one of his hymns. A well- known tune was stuck up by one of the assembled group. The elevating melody was taken up with vigour by strong voices so often exercised in prayer and singing, the harmony being mingled with softer feminine tones. My great grandmother was amongst the small assembly, and my father has often repeated her description of the scene. Mr. Benjamin Jagger Littlewood, of Netherthong, now 86 years of age, a grandson of Mrs. Dinah Bates, also frequently heard his grandmother

Page 48




graphically describe the circumstance. Being thus familiar from hearsay with this scene of a by-gone day, imagination can vividly re-construct the picture of those toil-worn men and women who knew so little of the gay and sunny side of life, gathered around the great preacher on the secluded country road. Repeating the verse of the hymn again and again, hill- side and valley echoing the sound of the strain, Wesley's arms uplifted in religious rapture, and the faces of his hearers luminous with the hope of that heaven where all wounded souls would be healed ; what an inspiring scene for the brush of a great painter! Only great artists are not present at such opportune times.

John Wesley, when preaching again at Deanhouse in 1788, records in his Journal visiting Honley, at eleven o'clock, on April 30th, 1788. The Rev. John Alexander, M.A., who was Curate-in-Charge at this period, was a strong supporter of Wesley. John Wesley writes in his diary as follows :-" After the Curate had read prayers to a large and serious congre- gation, I preached on the text 'It is appointed unto all men once to die." I believe many felt as well as heard the word."

I must again quote from oral tradition. - My father also often repeated his grandmother's account of Wesley's visit to Honley, his preaching in the Churchyard, and that he possessed a beautiful head of hair. Dressed in the black gown and white cravat, so familiar to those who have seen his picture (the orthodox Church of England garment at the time), he stood upon the churchyard wall which was a low structure flagged at the top. With uncovered head and Bible slasped to breast, he preached " as a dying man to dying men " to people, who, twenty years previously, according to the account of John Pawson, were little better than heathens.

The pulpit cushion used by John Wesley when he preached at Deanhouse, in 1788, eventually came into the possession of the Rev. Charles Drawbridge, Incumbent of Honley, in 1823, who highly valued the relic.

Page 49




The Enclosure Act altered the whole face of England. Forests which hitherto had sheltered the outlaw were gradually broken up into small remnants, or came under cultivation, moorlands and open spaces were parcelled out and hedged around. As we have seen Honley Moor was unenclosed. Its aspect also was completely changed when it came under the Enclosure Act in 1788. A copy of the " Award of Honley was published by the late Mr. Joseph Whitworth, who was interested in all ancient belongings of Honley. I am indebted for the following particulars taken from his book. The freeholders had the right of " cutting timber for house- boot, hain-boot, plough-boot, cart-boot and fire-boot " on Honley Moor. Also they could obtain slates and stones for purposes of building. In return for these privileges, they were required to keep the mill-dam and dam-stakes of Honley water-mill in repair (Honley Mill). When Honley Moor came under the Enclosure Act, their rights in respect to the Cutting of timber in the lands of the Lord of the Manor were abolished, but they were exonerated from keeping the mill-dam and dam- stakes in repair. The freeholders however were allowed to obtain stone and slates from the delf-spring wood and the

old wood.

In this Award made by John Sharp, Nathan Jowett and Benjamin Patchett, Commissioners, they order the " setting out and appointing one public carriage road of the breadth of 40 feet, which we name Bradshaw Road, which leads from the antient (ancieni) main carriage road at the bottom of Houley Moor." The same order is to be observed regarding Mag- bridge Road, Delf Road, Miry Lane Road, Thurstonland Road and others. Next follows the order of staking out roads of the breadth of 21 feet, such as Gib Lane, Wood Nook, Cross Road, Thirstin, Ncot-gate, Wood-bottom Roads, etc. There are also strict injuctions regarding the making of occupation roads to the newly allotted lands, the preserving of footpaths, wells, etc.

Page 50



I have been told on trustworthy authority, that the wages of the labourers employed on making these roads were 1/- per day. ‘

The breaking up of the romantic domain of Honley Moor must have been ruthless, when so many new roads were par- celled out over its heather and gorse ; and the present stone walls set with chess-board monotony, substituted for its once free and open spaces. Destructive indeed must have been the cutting down of fir and oak trees when so few, if any, of the rustling denizens of the forest remain, with the exception of scattered belts of woodland still preserved by private owner- ship. During the last century, there were few people in Honley who did not possess a trophy of the destruction of Honley Moor, either in one shape or another about their homes. For over fifty years after the Enclosure Act, glorious bonfires lighted in Honley on November 5th, were composed of the massive roots of ancient oak trees uprooted from this soil.


During the ferment in France, there was panic and distress in England. The French Revolution found a strong echo in the hearts of that class of the community who were also struggling for the principles of Representative Government, and freedom of conscience. Revolutionary enthusiasm and seditious assemblies gathered such force, that local people had to be enrolled for purposes of defence. Constables were called upon to furnish without delay returns of men, horses and arms available in their parishes. Honley supplied 72 volunteers. At a meeting held in 1794, those who volunteered to form a regiment of cavalry for the protection of the neigh- bourhood in addition to 72 volunteers,-were Mr. George Armitage, High Royd, Mr. Leigh and Mr. Brooke. Towards the expenses incurred for purposes of defence, Mr. George Armitage gave £50 0s. 0d., Mr. William and Mr. John Brooke £50 0s. 0d., Mr. Thomas and Mr. William Leigh £50 0s. Od.,

Page 51


Mr. James Armitage £21 0s. 0d., Mr. Joshua Rcbinson £10 10s. 0d., Mr. Benjamin Robinson £5 5s. 0d., Mr. George Jessop £5 5s. 0d., Mr. Abraham Hanson £1 ls. 0d., and others contributed smaller amounts. Mr. George Armitage, of High Royd, who, at that time was the only Magistrate in the neighbourhood dispensing justice at High Royd, not only enrolled Honley Volunteers, but administered the oath of allegiance to King George III. to Volunteers dwelling in 16 adjoining townships. (See Armitage family).


Page 52





(Honley in 1800.-Factory Act of 1802.-Local Invasion of the French.-Diaty Extract.-An Old-time Election of 1807.-Census in 1811.-Staple Trade of the Suspension of Local Banks.-Folly Hall Fight. -Factory Act of 1833.- Chartism.-Plug Riots).


TxIs century was writ large with achievement which must of necessity have only bare mention in these pages. The mar- vellous changes in machinery, wonderful progress in ships, opening of railways, introduction of penny postage, telegraphs, free press, expansion of trade due to these outlets and means of transit, passing of numerous Acts of Parliament for the general welfare of the people, and that striving for the recogni- tion of the brotherhood of man were all features of this century. At the opening of 1800, however, the distress was terrible. About the year 1812 the state of affairs in England was almost beyond description: The pastimes of the people were still brutal, executions took place in public, body snatching was common, roads infested by robbers, and education for the people depending upon voluntary effort. On account of the

wars of Napoleon having stopped European industries, there

was great demand for English productions. Side by side with the spread of the Factory system were great developments in machinery favourable to more rapid output. Yet food was at famine price, due to the duty upon corn, hours of labour long, work scarce, wages low-the most industrious weaver only able to earn 7/- or 8/- per week. Children of tender years worked as long hours as adults, and if exhausted nature gave way, they were cruelly beaten.

There are people yet living who are familiar with the history of this period, by hearing parents and grandparents speak of the time when the great struggle for religious and political

Page 53




freedom was being fought out with such anguish of conflict and fiery ordeal. Being thus brought into intimacy with this century of endeavour and achievement by such oral com- munications and other connecting links, the features of the religious, civil, lawless, and distressed state of the country can be better understood. Flour at the opening of 1800 was 6/- and 7/- per stone, tea 8/- per lb., and sugar 1/- per lb. Oatmeal porridge was still the staple food of the workers, and often of the class above them ; the change from the old to the new in the woollen industry not being accomplished without suffering both for master and man. If the export of cloth at this time amounted to one-half of all other exports sent out of the kingdom, harsh measures and iniquitous restrictions were imposed upon trade and commerce; so that the struggles of the master were often tragic and desperate in character. At this period also, many Banks suspended payment, causing such a feeling of cautious dread that there was no money in circulation.

Honley fared badly during this evolution of her local trade. We shall see however that she also took great leaps in religious, social and political progress during 1800.

Factory Act or 1802.

_ By the influence of Sir Robert Peel a Factory Act was passed in this year regarding the working of pauper children of tender years in mills. This Act could be evaded, and did not cure the evils then existing.


The state of the neighbourhood was so lawless, that the leading inhabitants of Honley met in 1805 and formed them- selves into a Society for purposes of self-protection ; and also to help to bring to justice those who committed illegal acts.


In 1805 the dwellers in Honley were greatly alarmed by rumours of the landing of the French. The lighting of a beacon-fire upon Castle Hill was to be the signal that

Page 54



Buonaparte and his army had actually arrived upon British ground. People kept watch in terror day and night upon elevated grounds for the lighting of the beacon. This anticipated landing was fortunately averted.

An extract copied from a diary, written in 1807 by a local lady, throws light upon the fashion of feminine attire at this date. She gives a list of her " cloathes," amongst which are ** 1 black silk gown (vastly fine); 1 bombazine gown and 1 brown lustre gown." There are also details of nightcaps, pockets, silk hose, square silk-handkerchiefs, and lace caps. In addition, there is mention of Norwich crape and silk shawls, black silk pelices, etc. The description of these materials and fashions which sound strange in our ears, seem to speak in silence of the gracious personalities and modest graces of those women of a by-gone day who laid away such garments in lavender.

Ax OuLp TImEr® or 1807.

At the time when two members of Parliament represented the whole County of Yorkshire, to make use of a local saying, "" elections were elections." Like unto the Hallelujah Chorus sung by Yorkshire voices, there was abundance of " fire and go '" in connection with an election. The coming of the Candidates in a carriage drawn by four spanking grey horses with mounted postilions, and accompanied by a cavalcade of horsemen was an enlivening sight. (Men could ride in those days). I can vividly recall such an arrival, when Messrs. Stanhope and Starkey, the Conservative Candidates for the Southern Division of the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1874, came to Honley. In an old-time election perhaps there was much bribery, treating and undue influence, but the retinues of men, horses and carriages passing to and fro were more animating to look upon than the present prosaic ballot-box into which papers marked with a X are quietly dropped, as if paying a last tribute to a departed relative. I fancy that free-fights, broken heads, cheers, counter cheers, abundant supply of coloured liquids, and the general hurly-burly taking place around the hustings held more attraction for an old-time voter than the present lifeless proceedings.

Page 55




Perhaps the most important Parliamentary Election in Yorkshire took place in 1807 at York, which city was the polling place for the whole County at that time. When people had to travel from all parts of Yorkshire to York to record their votes, an ordinary election, must of necessity, have been costly, especially in the matter of reluctant voters. One election for Yorkshire in 1722 cost one candidate £12,000 Os. Od. This sum, however, was small in comparison to the vast sums expended in the 1807 struggle. This election also was famous for the first breaking down of exclusive County family repre- sentation in Parliament. The three candidates were Lord Milton, of the House of Fitzwilliam, Whig, Mr. Lascelles, of the House of Harewood, Tory, and Mr. William Wilberforce, the advocate for the abolition of slavery. These three great champions were representatives of measures which were then the burning questions of the day. The Poll lasted 15 days at York, Wilberforce being teturned at the head, Lord Milton next, and Mr. Lascelles at the bottom of the Poll. It is recorded that Lord Milton and Mr. Lascelles spent between them £200,000 0s. 0d., and that the expenses of Wilberforce amounted to £28,600 0s. 0d. The cost of Wilberforce's expenses was defrayed by public subscription.

So far reaching were the results of this noted and expensive contest, that the names of the voters, and the persons for whom they voted, were published in a Poll-book under the direction of the Under Sheriff of York. The following are the names of Honley freeholders who voted, and the persons they voted for, copied from this Poll-book. It will be seen that the majority voted for the representative of those principles of religious and political liberty which had formed the bone of contention in the civil wars. W. means Wilberforce, L. Lascelles, and M. Milton.

W. L. M. Mr. George Armitage - .. a a cs ,, Jas. Armitage, Clothier 2. or ,, Tom Armitage, Husbandman e 1

, Jas. Bottomley, Millwright .. e s

Page 56



2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 » 2 9 3 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 ) 2 9 2 9 2 9 i 2 9 2 9 » 9 9 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 » 9

2 »


Joseph Brook, Cordwainer .. John Brook _.. William Brook, Clothler Benjamin Batley, Gentleman Benjamin Bray, Miller . Abraham Chappell, Clothier Benjamin Donkersley, Clothier James Eastwood, Butcher .. John Firth, Blacksmith William France, Clothier Thomas (Green John Garner .. William Garner Giles Gartside, Dyer Abraham Hanson, Clothier George Hanson, Clothier Richard Haigh, Clothier Thomas Haigh, Clothier Joseph Haigh, Clothier Joseph Heap .

John Hampshlre Dlssentmg Munster

Ely (Eli) Hobson, Clothier .. Joseph Oldfield, Cartman John Kaye, Cartman Joseph Kaye, Clothier Ely (Eli) Kaye, Carpenter .. Benjamin Littlewood, Clothier Richard Littlewood, Clothier Joseph Lockwood, Clothier John Lockwood, Clothier

Joseph Midwood, Tallow-Chandler

Joshua Moorhouse, Yeoman Joshua Robinson, Dyer Francis Sanderson, Clothier John Swift, Clothier Joseph Schofield, Clothier William Schofield, Clothier ..

Page 57


2 9

* 9

In addition to the above voters,


James Taylor, Clothier Thomas Thornton, Miller

James Thornton






M. 1 1

there were residents in

Honley who held property in other parts of the Wapentake of Agbrigg, and their votes are recorded in those voting districts. Their names are as follows :-





William Hirst, Gardener, Freehold recorded in Birkby List

. _ John Haigh, Clothier, Freehold re-

corded in Kirkburton List

'. John Dyson, Clothier, Freehold re-

corded in North Crosland List

. John Sykes, Clothier, Freehold re-

corded in North Crosland List

. John Senior, Woodcutter, Freehold

recorded in Farnley Tyas List

._ John Dyson, Clothier, Freehold re-

corded in South Crosland List

John Houghton, Merchant, Freehold

recorded in Huddersfield List e William Sykes, Glazier, Freehold re- corded in Huddersfield List 2. Joseph Batley, Dyer, Freehold re- corded in Meltham List _ . . Joseph Armitage, Clothier, Freehold recorded in Thurstonland List

. _John Armitage, Clothier, Freehold

recorded in Thurstonland List

. _John Armitage, Clothier, Freehold

recorded in Upperthong List




I have often heard this celebrated Election recalled by old- time worthies in Honley, whose parents or relatives either rode The parish hearse was requisitioned and conveyed to York a few local voters

or walked to York to record their votes.

Page 58



who were unable to find any other kind of vehicle. After the election was over, one noted inhabitant always declared that "'he was carried to his funeral before he was dead." When Lord Milton, during his electioneering tour, was addressing the crowd which greeted his arrival at Honley Bridge, another

enquiring resident when asking questions addressed the can- didate as " Mr. Lord Milton, Esquire."


A local census of the population of Honley was taken in 1811. The males numbered 1298, and the females 1231, total 2529. These were chiefly engaged in the woollen industry.


We have seen that the introduction of new forces into the woollen trade had caused terrible suffering. For the better understanding of the state of affairs, it will be necessary to review the evolution of the staple trade of the district before giving particulars of Lud-riots, Chartism, Plug-riots, etc., these local struggles being due to the changing conditions of the cloth trade of that date. From the aays when " Adam delved and Eve spun," down to the present, the making of clothing can be clearly traced. Amongst the various arts that the more civilized Romans taught us at their invasion was that of clothing ourselves. Since that time, the making of cloth has not only been established in England, but gradually become one of its most important industries. Spin- ning with the distaff and spindle was the employment of Saxon women, and often their only recreation. So accustomed were the maidens of old-time to spinning that they were named spinsters. This ancient title is still applied in legal terms to unmarried women. Whitaker, in his " History of Man- chester," states that the mother of Alfred the Great was skilled in the spinning of wool, and trained her daughters to the same industry. - In the will of Alfred the Great, he named the female part of his family the spindle side. It is recorded that the daughters of King Edward the elder, employed themselves in spinning, weaving and embroidery. When William the

Page 59

REINS FARM. -__ (see page 47),

TYPICAL CLOTHIER's (see page 47).

Page 61



Conqueror invaded England, amongst the followers in his train were many workmen from the Netherlands who were skilled in making cloth. They settled near the place of their landing, notably Norwich, though there is evidence to prove that the industry flourished at Winchester previous to this date. As time went on, the clothing industry formed at Norwich would gradually spread to other parts of the country. Edward III. encouraged the woollen trade by bringing more Flemish weavers, dyers, etc. to England, who were proficient at their various handicrafts, and settled them in different parts of England. Fuller, in his Church History, gives the number that were sent to various districts, and three came to Halifax. " Wooden- shoon *" or clogs were the footwear of these workmen from the low countries. The wooden-soled clogs still worn in Yorkshire and Lancashire date their introduction to these Flemish artisans.

Previous to the Enclosure Act, England possessed so much forest land and open spaces for the pasturing of sheep, that she not only grew her own wool but exported it in large quantities ; and the woollen trade was one of the most im- portant in the country. No other industry however has suffered so much from vexatious Acts of Parliament. I must not dwell upon these Acts of Parliamentary tyranny, nor the many and varied developments in the trade since its intro- duction into England, though I know of no more fascinating subject for our textile workers to study than the romance of their own trade. Suffice to say, that the industry has been held with great tenacity of purpose, and the particular pro- ductions of this part have now world-wide reputation.

Defoe, the author of "Robinson Crusoe," undertook a journey throughout England in 1714, which at that period was a hazardous venture. He afterwards described, in book-form, his impressions of the towns he visited, and the people he met. He writes as follows about a small master-manufacturer of the West Riding of Yorkshire :-" The land was divided into small enclosures from two acres to six or seven each, seldom more. Every three or four pieces of land had a house belonging to them,

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hardly a house standing out of a speaking distance from another. We could see at every house a tenter, and on almost every tenter a piece of cloth, or kersie, or shalloon. At every considerable house was a manufactory. Every clothier keeps one horse at least to carry his manufactures to the market, and everyone generally keeps a cow or two for his family. By this means the small pieces of enclosed land about each house are occupied, for they scarce grow corn enough to feed their poultry. The houses are full of lusty fellows, some at the dye-vat, some at the looms, others dressing the cloth, the women and carding, spinning, being all employed from the youngest to the oldest, not a beggar to be seen, nor an idle person."

No better idea can be conveyed of Honley clothiers and their dwellings than Defoe so picturesquely describes them. Their mode of manufacturing cloth under the household roof was Arcadian in its simplicity in comparison to present-day methods. True, many who were more enterprising than the rest, employed labour outside the family circle or in buildings around the home. With their pack-horses they went the round of farm-houses, or attended the great wool fairs to pur- chase wool for which golden guineas were paid down at once ; Banks being neither developed nor trusted. The pack-horses were sure-footed animals that never found a day's journey too long, nor work too hard. Upon arrival home of the train of pack-horses, the wool was then distributed, going through various processes such as spinning, weaving, etc. in cottages and homesteads around ; women spinning, men sizing the warps, and drying them in the lanes outside their homes. These out-weavers owned one donkey at least for purposes of carrying material to and from " Th' Maisters."" Owners and donkeys jogging along, the latter with warps, wefts or a piece of cloth strapped upon their backs, played an important part in the woollen industry of Honley at that period. It was a saying, that at one time there were more donkeys than people in Thurstonland, the bulk of the inhabitants being engaged in '"out-weaving '"' for the Brooke family. When " out- weavers "' delivered the results of their labour at Honley and

Page 63

TYPICAL OUT-WEAVER's House. (see page 48).

J., Thornton, Pinx. Published by B. Brown, Bookseller, Huddersfield. THE OLD CROPPING SHoP. (see page 48).

Page 65

1768 1780


afterwards at Armitage Bridge Mill, it was the custom to serve to them home-brewed beer and oat-cake at the " livering in " as it was named. This was on account of the long distances many of the weavers had to travel who lived in isolated hamlets, or on distant hill-sides. Whilst the donkey was cropping refreshment by the road side or getting "its bit o' salat " (Salad) as one old weaver always named the animal's ** baiting," the owner also enjoyed his oat-cake and home- brewed beer. At the marriage of a member of the Brooke family in the past, it was said that 42 donkeys, owned by out- weavers in Thurstonland, were gaily decorated with ribbons in honour of the event, and marched in procession around that township. The long windows in the upper rooms of old houses still standing in Honley, testify to the once prevailing occupation of weaving. Other clothiers who were not manufacturers on a large scale, carried on the process of making cloth under their household roofs. Sons of well-to-do parents who intended to adopt the woollen trade were apprenticed, and had to serve seven years. These apprentices were at one time a great feature in the clothing industry at Honley. The Master worked side by side with his eight or ten men, apprentices, and generally assisted by his wife and daughters. When his pieces of all wool cloth were ready for sale, he took them either on horse back, in his gig, or upon his shoulder to the market at Hudders- field. The grandfather of a present Honley resident who was a clothier in a small way of business at this period, often walked with his piece of cloth upon his shoulder by way of Greenfield to Manchester Market, and returned home the same route at the risk of robbery or worse dangers ; there being only a dangerous track beyond Isle of Skye at that time. Previous to the building of the Cloth Hall in Huddersfield, it is said that the Clothiers placed their pieces of cloth for sale upon the old Church-yard wall in Kirkgate. The Cloth Hall was erected in 1768, by Sir John Ramsden, and enlarged by his son in 1780. Each Clothier had his own stall. On market days it was thronged by buyers and sellers when the names of such fabrics as kerseys, doeskins, cassimeres, meltons, friezes,

broads, narrows, etc. were more familiar upon the lips of buyer D

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and seller than at present. A blue broad at that time was 26/- per yard, and a drab kersey 12/- per yard.

Being descended and akin to families of clothiers, I have often heard the old-fashioned methods of manufacturing adopted by a clothier in a modest way of business fully described from buying the bundle of wool to the selling of the piece of cloth. One stage was the sprinkling or " lecking " of the wool laid upon the house floor. The stench arising from the liquid which was then used in the primitive process was considered a most healthy perfume, but the odour would prove rather trying to present day olfactory organs. When the cloth was made and hung on the tenter-frames outside, the whole family vigorously pulled at each end of the piece to make it a little longer.

But the great epoch was approaching when the inventions of such men as Kaye, Crompton, Arkwright, Cartwright, etc., were to revolutionise the woollen industry, and sever old ties once existing between master and man. The primitive process of domestic production by hand was now gradually displaced by steam-power and machinery. The workmen who had once gathered under the household roof of the master, or in out- buildings near, were concentrated in large buildings, and the factory system established. The more enterprising and wealthy clothiers at once grasped the nature of altered con- ditions. It was the day for the man of skill and aptitude who knew that the individual must work independently of Governments, Republics or Leagues. There were others, however, who pitted their domestic mode of industry against the ever-advancing factory system, fighting obstinately for a long time the tragic battle of loss and defeat. Resisting all innovations, they were determined to go on making cloth as it had always been made ; and many hill-side homes in Honley hid silent tragedies due to the introduction of steam-power. We must not dwell upon these mute sorrows of a past day, but describe revolutions of a more noisy and exciting character, which were the outcome of the changing conditions of cloth- manufacturing.

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Previous to the year 1812, the cloth manufactured in this neighbourhood had been finished by hand. This was a slow process with a machine not unlike a large pair of shears, each shear requiring one man to wotk it. The men of to-day employed in the same industry are now known as cloth- finishers. At that time they were named " croppers," the work of the machine answering to the meaning of the word crop. Though inventions were being quickly adopted in all sections relating to cloth-making, the persons employed resented the introduction of any improvement in machinery, concluding that such inventions made work scarce. The ** croppers,""' as a class, were well paid in comparison to other workers, but they rose in revolt against the introduction of a new machine which as they thought would take the bread out cf their mouths. For the purpose of destroying the obnoxious invention, they banded themselves together under an imaginary leader named General Lud, hence they were named Luddites. Each man had to take a terrible oath not only of secrecy, but to perform his allotted crime under a threat of death. The local name given to the oath was " twisting in," and many old Honley " croppers " knew its meaning only too well.

Enoch and James Taylor, of Marsden, ironfounders of local repute, constructed the new " cropping " or finishing-frames for the mill-owners. The Taylors were makers also of the huge sledge-hammers in use in smithies and shoeing-forges. These hammers were locally given the name of " Enoch " in laughing reference to the Christian name of the maker.

** Enoch made them, and Enoch shall break them," said the stubborn men, who had decided upon sledge-hammers as weapons to break frames constructed by the same man.

The spirit of lawlessness quickly spread. Machines and property were destroyed, levies made of food and money, and other outrages of violent character occurred nightly. People were fired upon in their homes at midnight, and the lives of others attempted when opportunity offered. Parliament came to the aid of terrified districts, and military law was proclaimed

Page 68


throughout our neighbourhood. The King's Bays, Scots Greys, and 15th Hussars were alternately billeted in various places for fear that they too should be in sympathy with Luddism. Lights were extinguished in each house in Honley at ten o'clock, else the military patrol would know the reason why ; and persons found outside their homes after that hour were taken prisoners. I have heard an aged relative, who died in 1870, graphically describe his arrest for mistaking the hour. Against his mother's wish he ventured out " courting " or paying his respects to his sweetheart who lived in Ludhill. Returning home, as he thought, before ten o'clock, he was taken prisoner upon Honley Bridge. Fortunately three witnesses of high local standing journeyed to York on his behalf, for the purpose of proving the innocent nature of the transgression of staying too long with his sweetheart, else he would have fared badly during this reign of terror.

The combination of men that were first formed for the pur- pose of destroying machines were now drawn into the crime of committing murder. Mr. William Horsfall, a Marsden manufacturer, who had introduced the new cropping-machines into his mill was shot dead on his way home from Huddersfield Market. Three men were implicated in the murder, and two came to the Coach and Horses Inn, Honley direct from the scene of the murder. A reward of £2,000 Os. Od. was offered for the discovery of the murderers. Such was either the loyalty or fear of other members of Luddism, that this sum remained unclaimed for a year by men who worked side by side with the murderer. One of the rioters when dying had much pressure brought to bear upon him to disclose the name of the man who shot Mr. Horsfall. '* Can you keep a secret ?" he asked of clergyman, doctor and magistrate gathered around his bed. '* Yes ! "' was the eager response of all. ** So can I," were his last gasping words, and he died with the secret unconfessed.

In the end, the strong arm of the law prevailed. The three local men who had shot Mr. Horsfall, and fifteen others who

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had committed outrages of a various character were at York Assizes condemned to death. Others were sentenced to trans- portation for life to New South Wales, which was a dreaded convict settlement. Many of the condemned persons were at one time respectable men who had close connection with Honley both as regards relatives and friends. Local people also were forced to go to York to give evidence including Mrs. Robinson, the landlady of the Coach and Horses Inn. It was the custom at this period to carry out the death-sentence in public. The criminal records of Yorkshire do not furnish another instance when so many persons were executed in one day. The crowds that assembled at York were so vast, that strong forces of cavalry and infantry were required for fear of riots and rescues.


In 1816 two local Banks suspended payment ruining many Honley Clothiers, and seriously crippling the resources of others. These losses caused so much distrust against the Banking business, that there were people in the place who never again placed any faith in Banks. With Yorkshire caution, they kept their golden guineas safe in their own canvas bags, either hiding or sitting upon them. On account of family losses due to the suspension of the two local Banks, my father, until his death in 1882, resolutely eschewed all dealings with Banks. True, he would accept a cheque from a person of local standing, but only with suspicious caution, getting rid of it as quickly as possible.


If Luddism had been crushed for the time being, the country was still in a state of seething discontent. The manufacturer was impeded in his progress by wars and unjust restrictions from Government, whilst trouble and distress prevailed amongst the workers on account of low wages. I will here make a digression. Hand-loom weaving which had been an important branch of the woollen industry was not highly paid even if the weaver was capable and industrious. The change

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in the working of looms from bodily exertion to steam power did not improve matters. The songs of a people are generally a true guide to their feelings at the time. A once familiar ditty proved the low estimation in which the trade of a weaver was then held by local females. This song, which in early life we were wont to sing to a lilting tune that can still be trilled sweetly by many old people, was very popular. The first verse which I quote from memory is as follows :-

'* My heart is as light as a feather, I hope it will never grow sad, I'm going to be married to-morrow, But not to a factory lad. Th' factory lad is a weaver, And all his family too, Before I'll be wed to a weaver, I'll travel old England through."

(The change in the rate of weavers' wages from that period

to the present has been great).

To return to the main subject, there was a second local rising against the existing state of misery in 1817. This was known as the " Folly Hall Fight" on account of the rioters being met and dispersed at that place. Many weavers and cloth-dressers in Honley joined in the ferment. Following the example of the Lud-rioters, the discontented workers broke into houses where they thought firearms could be obtained ; and the dwelling of Mr. Clement Dyson, Honley, was rifled. When the actual rising took place, the result was disaster to the rioters at Folly Hall. Amongst other rioters who were implicated, and had to appear at York Assizes, were John Kinder, Benjamin Taylor and Benjamin Green, weavers and cloth-dressers of Honley. The three latter however were found not guilty..

Mr. William Leigh, one of the Leigh family, whose history will be found under the head of Honley families, lived in Church Street at this disturbed period. The rioters attempted to enter his dwelling which was opposite the Church. He records in his diary his night of terrible experience. By the kindness of

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Mrs. Leigh, of Almondbury, a. representative of the Leigh and Kaye families, I have been allowed to copy the following extract from the diary of Mr. William Leigh.

'* On Sunday evening, the 8th of June, 1817, about 12 o'clock, my house was surroundea and attacked by a large concourse of people many of whom were armed with guns and other offensive weapons. I, and my wife and family, had retired to rest about 10 o'clock, and were awoke by a loud knocking at our front door. She first heard them, got up, and put up the sash of the window, and seeing so many men was greatly alarmed, and came from the window. I directly looked out of the window and asked them what they wanted. The answer I received was 'come down and open the I then put down the sash, and told my wife that they were Luddites. They continued to vociferate for me to come down and open the door which not doing, they assailed the door with very heavy stones, so large that they broke the lock of the door all to pieces, and but for a strong bolt would have entered the house. At the same time, the back part of my house was attacked by another gang of them. My two daughters being greatly afraid came into our lodging room, and cne of them wished me to go down and let them in. I answered ° No, they shall come to me, I will not go to them, nor leave you.' The ruffians finding I would not open the door, they who were at the back part of the house smashed one of the kitchen windows, both the glass and wood-frame to pieces. Now I said to my afflicted family, 'they will be with us, be as easy and as quiet as you can, they will not hurt you, it is I they want.. My daughter Ann then said, 'Father where shall I hide you ?" I replied 'nowhere, I will not leave you, but remain here until they Thus were we situated, assailed by an armed ruffian force without and distressing fears within, surrounded by neighbours who heard the tumult, and not one of them dared to come to our help. One of them looked out of his chamber window to see what was the matter, when one of the mob presented a loaded pistol at him, and said if he did not withdraw, he would shoot him. But we were not forsaken,

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though human help was of no avail. God was our helper and defender, yea, a very present help in the time of trouble. It behoves me to be thankful for His protection at this time, for it appears by the confession of some of them afterwards, that if I had come down, I must have passed close to the window which they had broken, and that a person was stationed at it to shoot me. But what had I done to irritate them against me, I cannot say ? I had never knowingly injured any of them in any respect. Though I cannot suppose that my refusal to their demands proceeded from a confidence in Divine assist- ance my mind being in such a confused state, yet I am assured that it was His over-ruling Providence which prevented me going down to them, and that restrained them from entering my house, which they might easily have done through the window. At the dawn of the morning they went away, and we heard the voices of our neighbours in the street. Never did a condemned criminal at the gallows hear the joyful shout of a messenger bringing him a reprieve with more thankfulness than us when we heard their gladdening voices which was to us a sure indication that our danger was past. Then on my bended knees, though my mind was still confused, I endeavoured to return thanks to Him who is all powerful to save for His mercies are great. And to Him be all praise now and for ever."


At a Town's meeting, held March 25th, 1830, it was con- sidered advisable that there should be a paid official to perform duties hitherto voluntarily undertaken by Constable and Overseer. The first Assistant Overseer in the person of Mr. J. Lancaster was appointed at a salary to act under the supervision of Constable and Overseer.

Factory Act or 1833.

The first really beneficent Factory Act was passed in 1833. Previous to this Act, I have listened in my earlier days to personal narratives describing the long hours and conditions of labour in the Mills in Honley and neighbourhood. They worked from six o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock at night on all days of the week except Sunday. Half-an-hour

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for the mid-day meal was allowed, but no time for breakfast. Children of tender years worked as long as adults, eventually finding a champion in Richard Oastler to protest against their ill-usage. This 1833 Factory Act limited the hours of labour both for adults and children, and also compelled the attendance of the latter at school half-time. According to personal accounts of those old-time toilers, the difference between past and present workers in mills is great. Yet so rapid have been the improved conditions of industry, that the Factory Act of 1833 which was so hardly won, would now be looked upon with scorn by the present day textile worker. I have often heard it stated that this Act was accepted with such thankfulness in Honley, that praise was given to God for the blessing at Prayer-meetings, Love-feasts, etc.


A survey and valuation of Honley township at this date gives its rateable value as £11,080 17s. 0d., and its extent as 2,439 acres, 1 rood, and 21 perches.


Textile workers, whether hand-loom weavers of a past, or present-day operators, have proved an intelligent race. From their midst have generally sprung those men, ideas and demands which eventually change the existing state of things. The hand-loom weavers of a by-gone day, though working from early dawn until late at night, were as a rule great readers, thinkers and talkers. They were typical of the men around them engaged in other branches of cloth-making. Perhaps sport claimed the attention of many, but during this time of stress, religion and politics were the chief topics of the more earnest minded. Even in the middle of this century, with its Arabian Night's wonders spinging up on every hand, the country was still in a state of great discontent. The Reform Bill of 1832 had given the Franchise to the middle classes, but left out large masses of the working people. There was now great agitation for another Reform Bill, and Repeal of the Corn Laws. The converts to Wesleyanism, whose religious

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convictions were as the Alpha and Omega of their lives, were pouring out their souls in earnest supplications for the coming of better times. Others who refused to seek for a solution of their misery in the pages of the Bible, read with avidity such books as Tom Paine's " Rights of Man." Infidelity crept in, and was encouraged amongst the workers. They believed that if granted political rights, the terrible distress would pass away. The age brought forth fiery orators who preached propagandist ideas which had been nourished and helped on by the French Revolution. After the battle for freedom of the Press had been won by Wilkes, new publications typical both in name and contents of the stress of the period, sprung up like mushrooms in the night. "The Commonweal," " The New Age," "The Star in the East," "The Morning Star," ''The New Moral World," "The Pioneer," "The Trumpet Call," " The Northern Star," and other publications were all called into life at this period. Riots took place in various parts of the country, whilst large gatherings and demonstrations were the order of the day in our neighbourhood. Eventually all the enthusiams and struggles took a definite shape. A document named the " People's Charter" was embodied, hence its adherents were named Chartists. The Charter con- tained six demands or " six points " as they were named. The

idea of granting such new and startling requests was beyond

the highest flight of the most imaginative person at that period except the malcontents themselves. At the present time, nearly all these claims have become law. When we realise the state of the working classes during this revolutionary time, we cannot be surprised that Honley supplied many enthusiastic supporters to the cause of Chartism. O

RErpEAL OF THE WinNpow-TaAx.

When the domestic mode of manufacturing had been changed to the factory system, the long rows of windows in houses were no longer a necessity for purposes of light. The Window-Tax was then repealed. This is only one example of the many oppressive Acts of Parliaments from which the woollen industry has suffered.

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Mam CoacnK.

A Buxton Coach named " Peveril of the Peak," commenced running on July 15th, 1839 from Leeds to Buxton. It ran each Thursday and Saturday calling at Honley. The " Royal Hope " also passed through Honley.


The period from the time of the Lud-riots to about 1840 was still a time of terrible distress, being generally named the * hungry forties." Bad harvests succeeded each other, and Corn Laws prohibited importation of food. Wages were so low that pauperism prevailed in the country to an alarming extent. It was said that one-fourth of the population was dying from starvation. The Plug-riots originally commenced in Lancashire. They were so named on account of the rioters' mode of expressing disapproval at the existing state of things. Their methods were to take or draw out the plugs from mill- boilers, thus rendering steam-power useless ; and by these means stop the running of the machinery. When it was announced that the plug-rioters were nearing Honley, the neighbourhood was in a state of great alarm. The reign of terror can yet be recalled to memory by a few of our oldest dwellers, one remembering her mother hiding her along with a little brother in the cellar. When the mob of half-starved men cime to Honley by way of Holme-Moss and Holmfirth, they first drew the plugs from the boilers at Crosley Mill, or Shaw's Factory as it afterwards was named on account of being owned and worked at that time by Messrs. Benjamin Shaw & Co. The rioters next visited Steps Mill, owned by Messrs. Vickerman & Beaumont, and Lord's Mill, owned by Messrs. Heap. - After drawing the plugs from the boilers at these two latter mills, the rioters passed on their way to other places with- out committing further mischief.

As time passed on, the Repeal of the Corn Laws, Reform Bill, the passing of numerous Factory Acts, Trade Unions, Co-operation, etc., have all helped greatly to improve the conditions of the people.

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(Honley's first Governing Body.-Closing of Shaw's Factory.-First Railway to Honley.-First Local Newspaper.-Holmfirth Flood.- Crimean War.-Peace Rejoicing.-First Gas Company.-First Lighting of the with Gas.-Co-operative Society.-First Local Board.- Widening of Honley Gate.-New Road to Railway Station. -School Lane.-Cow-lane and Windy Cap.-Fires.-Water.-Queen Victoria's Jubilee.-The Commercial Inn.-Urban District in the Township's boundaries.-Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.-Gas Works Explosion -Purchase of Gas Works.-Death of Queen Victoria. - Return of Reservists from South African _ of King Edward VII.-Electricity Works.-South African Rateable Value of Honley.-The death of King Edward VII.-Corona- tion of King George V.-Change in Townships' Boundaries. -Recreation Ground.-Visit of King George V. and Queen Mary to Honley.- Constables in 1800-43).

HONLEY IN 1800-1914.

Hoxnury's First GovErninc Bopy.

A public meeting of ratepayers was held on March 17th, 1843 for the purpose of forming a committee to manage the affairs of the village in conjunction with Constable, Chapelwarden, Overseer and Guardians. The latter had now become a part of parochial organization. Amongst the numerous Poor Law Acts was that of 1819, empowering vestries to appoint fit and proper person to act as Guardians of the poor in each parish. This Act was for the purpose of placing a check upon the indiscriminate relief of the poor by Overseers, so that the latter could not give money without the consent and oversight of such duly qualified persons. A public meeting, held on March

24th, 1843, appointed twenty-one of the leading inhabitants of

Honley to act as its first committee in the management of its local affairs. They not only worked in concert with the before- mentioned officers, but afterwards the appointment of these public officers was vested in the Committee. The manage- ment of old-time officers as we shall see in this history was more picturesque than efficient, so that the members of this first

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(see page bl),

(see page 72),

Page 79


formed governing body had no light task in front of them. Sanitary Laws, of which we have at present a surfeit, were then unheeded. Honley at this time adopted an easy and inexpensive mode of drainage by having open sewers on either side of roads, so that people passing to and fro had to have an eye to their avoidance. We were so proud of these uncovered channels, that they were given their proper and significant names ; Sordes (foul matter) hole (cavity), hence Sordes-hole, which in local vocabulary was pronounced " Sor-hoil." Honley boasted of many " Sor-hoils" at this date, and its dwellers being proof against new fangled innovations brought strong resistive force against their " Sor-hoils " being disturbed, looking upon them as adjuncts to health. I have heard many old natives recall the memory of these open sewers with great affection, holding modern drainage responsible for all epidemics. They also clung to the old-fashioned idea that measles were a necessity,-the sooner children caught them by being sent out to play with those who were suffering from the disease-the better. From this time, however, affairs in the village were better looked after and important improvements carried out.

CLOsING OF Sxaw's Factory.

During this time of outcry for Reform and Repeal of the Corn Laws, nearly all the mills in the neighbourhood were idle ; and the firm of Messrs. Benjamin Shaw & Co., Shaw's Factory, ceased manufacturing. It was a familiar saying when I was a child that " three mechanics and one hammer " caused the ruin of this firm. Another reason given was that these generous employers impoverished themselves by helping others too generously at this time of misery and destitution. After the closing of Shaw's Factory, Honley passed through its darkest days. A song, sung to a cheerful inspiring tune, was popular at that time :-

** To the West-to the West, to the land of the free, Where mighty Missouri rolls down like the sea,

Where a man is a man if he's willing to toil, And the humblest may gather the fruits of the soil."

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Many of the sons and daughters of Honley crossed the Atlantic at this time, not so much for freedom as for the bare necessaries of life. Previous to 1838, the journey to America in small sailing ships with no accommodation and less comfort was a long and terrible voyage. It was not until 1838, when the great feat of crossing the Atlantic from Liverpool to New York by steam was accomplished, that future journeys were hopefully prophesied. In reply to such foolish ideas, Dr. Dionyseus Lardner said that " as well might they attempt a voyage to the moon as run regularly between England and

New York."

After the closing of Shaw's Factory, so great was the exit out of Honley to America and other towns to find employment, that over 200 houses were empty, and the rateable value was very low.

First Ramway to Hoxnuuy.

The advent of railways opened a new era in human history. People who hitherto had not left the sight of their hill-sides were now able to travel to distant towns that were being rapidly linked up with each other. We felt the effect of closing our vast system of railways for a few days during the Railway strike ; yet at first there was the most violent opposition against what are now of national importance. Railways were not welcomed even by the most progressive people. The public held all kinds of grievances against them, especially landowners and farmers, who demanded extortionate prices for their land. So strong was the oppcsition to one of the greatest forces of modern progress and usefulness, that not only each place through which a railway passed, but almost each person had to be conciliated. The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened in September 1825 was only made at the cost of much labour, experiment, and strong opposition. The speed was 25 miles per hour. The Liverpool and Manchester Rail- way was opened in 1830, when the unheard of speed of 36 miles per hour was attained. When the Railway between Man- chester and Sheffield was opened in 1845, it was common for

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1718 1767


people in Honley to walk to Dunford Bridge for the purpose of seeing the train emerge from Woodhead tunnel. They returned home convinced that they had seen one of the wonders of the age. The greatest event, however, to Honley people, was when the line to Holmfirth and Penistone was opened in 1850, and the village found itself in possession of a Railway Station.

The introduction of cheap trips next caused a great sensation. Whilst the novelty was new, it was customary for people to rise as early as the travellers who were so rich and courageous as to travel to such distant places as London or Scarborough. After seeing them off, their return at unearthly hours was also eargerly awaited. I have heard old people describe the earliest mode of railway travelling. This was in carriages similar to the present goods' trucks. They were open to wind and weather, and had no seats. There were persons living in Honley twenty years ago who had not ridden in a railway train, and firmly refused to do so until their death. When the line was opened in 1850, a great aunt of mine declared that " people would soon be toc idle to walk to Huddersfield." She lived to hear a younger generation complain of walking to Honley Station. Honley is on the Lancashire and Yorkshire section of railways with connections to all parts.


One of the greatest forces in helping to diffuse knowledge amongst the people has been the newspaper, its advent due to the wonderful improvements in the printing press. The early struggles of newspaper-promoters for freedom of speech met with the usual reward which falls to the lot of pioneers. They were persecuted and imprisoned. The first newspaper which found its way to Honley was the " York Mercury," printed weekly in 1718. The stamp duty upon newspapers was 4d., and the price of the " York Mercury " in 1767 was 6d. I can distinctly recall the appearance of this red stamp upon an old copy preserved by my father. The paper was the most important issued in the North of England, and long retained

Page 82

1836 1855

1850 1859




its popularity. Its weekly arrival at Honley was eagerly awaited by a group of enlightened citizens who joined in its purchase and perusal. The reduction of the stamp duty on newspapers from 4d. to one penny in 1836 paved the way to greater circulation, until in 1855 the tax was abolished. The '* York Mereury " continued to be read in this neighbourhood until 1850, when the first local newspaper was published. This was the °" Huddersfield Chronicle," Conservative in politics, published April 6th, 1850. The issue of the " Huddersfield Weekly Examiner," Liberal in policy, followed closely being published on September 6th, 1851.

At this date, and long afterwards, there were many people in Honley as elsewhere who were unable to read or write ; so that at first the circulation of both newspapers was limited. I can recall evenings when I was called upon to read the contents of both newspapers to aged relatives and friends. How their souls were stirred with indignation at the frivolities of that age! With what sweeping condemnation they would denounce, or heartily agree with the policy of the Government according to their views ! When reading on with youthful disregard of political principles, their bursts of indignant protest or approval sounded rather foolish in my ears, but became more significant as time went on. I can remember that the " Huddersfield Chronicle," in its earlier days, had a stationary reporter at Honley in the person of Mr. James Farrington. The history of the two local newspapers, the accounts of difficulties swept aside, and their influence in the neighbourhood does not come

_ within the scope of Honley history.


In the year 1852 Holmfirth Flood devastated the whole of the Holme valley. The bursting of the Bilberry reservoir, situated in its moorland hollow between Good-bent and Digley, in the early morning of February 5th, 1852, has long been a fireside story in our midst. The flood in which 81 people lost their lives has formed a theme for many writers, and its memory will be handed down to future generations. Even if such had

Page 83




not been the case, its history belongs to the annals of Holm- firth save the mention that one life in our township was lost. When the flood reached Smithy Place and Honley, its force was somewhat checked by having more room for spreading. Even then, the wreck and damage left behind was awful. One child, named Elizabeth Healey, aged 8, of Smithy Place, was drowned. She was washed out of the cottage near the bridge which was in the track of the flood. Other persons in Smithy Place had hair-breadth escapes. Allen Kaye, a child at that time whose parents resided in the mill-yard, was saved by swimming about in a drawer.


England declared war against Russia with a shout and flourish of trumpets in 1854. The song of :-

'* Cheer boys cheer, we're going to fight the Russians, Cheer boys cheer, and kill them every one,"

was upon every lip. At this period, Honley had perhaps more of her sons serving in the army than had been enlisted from any other neighbouring townships, so that a large number of natives were engaged in the Crimean War. Many of these did not return from a campaign that lost England twenty- four thousand men, and cost forty millions of money. Others who came back were burdened with last messages of their comrades, which proved as trying in delivering as facing the enemy's guns. I could record many of these pathetic messages sent by dying sons to Honley mothers, how their last thoughts had winged their way to home, and last words had babbled in delirium of earlier scenes. The returned Crimean Veterans lived long to dissipate their pensions at each quarter-day, recall past hardships, and fight their battles over again by firesides or in village alehouses.

Prace REJgorcime.

The long and terrible Crimean War ended in 1856. The people were so thankful at the cessation of hostilities, that ** Peace Rejoicings " were held in every town, village and hamlet in the land. One of the earliest recollections of my E

Page 84




life was one vivid flash of walking up the Gate in the procession of School children. I was very young at the time, and cannot recall any other detail in connection with the affair all the rest being blank in my childish memory. I have copied a few particulars from an cld subscription list of " Honley Peace Rejoicing " lent to me by Mr. David France. The Celebration took place on June 14th, 1856, and was a red-letter day in the annals of the village. Four large Committees were appointed, viz :-Provisions, Music, Accommodation and Procession Com- mittees. Mr. James Robinson was appointed Chairman and Mr. Joseph Heap, Vice-Chairman. The two Secretaries were Mr. Josiah France and Mr. George Jagger, and Mr. Henry Thackray was Treasurer. The list of subscribers numbered over 500. The highest subscription of £20 was given by the late Mr. Thomas Brooke, of Northgate House ; and the lowest

of 3d. by Mr. Thomas Oldfield.

First Gas COMPANY.

By the kindness of Mr. Frank Oldfield, I have been supplied with a printed copy relating to the formation of the first Gas Company as a Joint Stock Company in 1856. It was printed by Mr. George Green, and headed " A deed of settlement of the Honley Gas Company." The Compauy had been previously Registered in May, 1855, under the Act of Parliament then in force regarding Companies. It was made a Joint Stock Com- pany on February 22nd, 1856. The capital was £1,000 Os. Od., in 1,000 shares of £1 each. The newly-formed Company drew up careful rules, appointed 15 Directors, Treasurer, and two Auditors ; so that its members were cautious individuals. Though so careful to avoid evils, they were so liberal-minded as to allow females to hold shares. This concession however was on account of the difficulty experienced in persuading men to invest money in such a dangerous compound as gas. The first Directors were Mr. George Dodson, Grocer ; Mr. Charles Parker Drawbridge, Attorney's Clerk ; Mr. Thomas Eastwood, Joiner ; Mr. William France, Plumber ; Mr. Benjamin France,

Manufacturer ; Mr. George Green, Stationer; Mr. George Greenwood, Cloth-dresser ; Mr. David Hobson, Cloth-dresser ;

Page 85


Mr. Edwin Hinchliffe, Manufacturer ; Mr. Joseph Kaye, Cloth- dresser ; Mr. Robert Littlewood, Manufacturer ; Mr. John Schofield, Clothier ; Mr. Joshua Midwood, Grocer ; Mr. Richard Mellor, Manufacturer, and Mr. William Taylor, Manufacturer. The Company appointed Mr. Robert Littlewood, Manufacturer, and Mr. George Jagger, Assistant Overseer, as Auditors. The office of Treasurer was filled by the late Mr. Thomas Brooke, of Northgate House, and Mr. Joseph Jagger, Manufacturer, was appointed Secretary.

This first small Gas Company which had to struggle hard, and overcome many prejudices and hinderances was so well managed, that eventually the undertaking became one of the most prosperous concerns in the valley. The bravery of those persons who took its future into their hands, and boldly invested in £1 shares was in the end rewarded. When Honley decided by the vote of its ratepayers to purchase the Gas Works and all its belongings after 45 years of existence, the purchase price paid to the shareholders was £18,500 Os. Od.

The introduction of Gas was looked upon with the same fear and suspicion which marked the beginning of railways. The new illuminating power was considered one of the black arts, and akin to " th' owd lad." It was thought to be so dangerous, that people could not sleep in their beds when they knew of its existence in their midst. In the account of the old Mechanics Institute, mention is made of Mr. Edwin France as being the first person to make gas in Honley. He suffered from the usual penalties assigned to people who are too pro- gressive, and was quickly involved in law-suits regarding fumes from his small private retort. Mr. France, after much persuasion induced my father, who held the office of Postmaster, _ to adopt the new light, the retort being close behind the house. This was for the purpose of advertisement, so that people who came to the Post Office could behold the brightness of the new illuminating power. They came to view, but were content with the sight. So apprehensive were they of its great danger, that the comments made upon such rash daring, were often laughingly recalled in after years. At that time, however, the

Page 86






verbal denunciations-domestic and otherwise-made such a deep impression upor the mind of my father that when the Company was floated, he refused to be enticed into investing in shares.

First LicxtInNncg or tHE STREETS wITH Gas.

At a town's meeting, held in December, 1859, it was decided to light the Streets of Honley with gas. Evidently the " city fathers " had realised its value, for not only had they previously sanctioned the laying of mains in the streets to convey gas to private houses, but also decided to give the public the benefit of light. This illumiration was not spread over outside roads and lanes, but confined to a restricted area within the village ; so that lanthorns were still required by outside dwellers on dark nights. In the days when water had to be

- fetched from Honley well, its neighbourhood was a busy place

from early morning until late at night. I believe that the first public lamp was placed upon the stonework of the well a year previous to gas lamps being set up in the streets. This solitary lamp was first lighted on December 31st, 1858.


The history of Co-operation is well-known, though once imagination would have failed to picture its wonderful developements since the first efforts of the Rochdale Pioneers. Twelve characteristic dwellers in Honley in December, 1839 raised 30/- amongst themselves for the purpose of buying provisions cheaper in a lump than in scattered fragments. Christmas was approaching, and even during the " hungry forties "' the poorest person in Honley honoured its feast and the festival of Christmas. The twelve " Honleyers" walked to Huddersfield, no doubt with happy anticipations of coming Christmas cheer, for they purchased a cheese, returned home and sold the cheese at a profit of 1d. in the lb. These early ploneers next filled the ambitious role of capitalists, and employers of labour. In 1860, they rented a cottage in Old- field Buildings, employed a Salesman and issued yearly balance-sheets to members. The cottage soon proved too

Page 87




small for increasing business, and the Society removed to a larger shop in Church Street, previously occupied by the late Mr.. William Wilkinson, Draper. Here the business made such progress, that in 1867 the members were able to build their own premises, the first building being erected to the front of Westgate. At first the sales in the new store were confined to grocery and drapery. So able was the oversight of the intelligent and industrious class of men who generally formed the Managing Committees of the Society, that the business went forward by leaps and bounds. Investments had now to be found for fast accumulating capital, and a row of houses was erected at the bottom of Honley Moor, which members were able to purchase by paying easy instalments. Other trades in all their branches were gradually added, including the sale of corn, coals, meat, boots, clogs, fish, green-grocery, etc. These necessitated increased accommodation. Spacious and handsome buildings have risen one by one including a large hall around the original erection. Thus from the small beginning of the purchase of one cheese, the Honley Co- operative Society has now the largest trading business in the place ; which proves that the common-place of every day life is really a great marvel. Its assets comprise houses and landed property, large stores, stock property, railway wagons, horses, carts, farm, etc. From the half-yearly report, issued August 25th, 1913, the present number of members is 1,210. The share capital amounts to £21,741 14s.0d. The sales for the half-year ending August, 1913 amounted to £19,663 5s. 11i4d.

First Boarp.

The Local Committee formed in 1843 to manage the affairs of the village continued until 1864. A town's meeting was held on June 29th, 1864, when it was decided to adopt the Local Government Act of 1858, which ordered properly con- stituted bodies of men, sent by votes of ratepayers, to manage local affairs. The new Act came into force in Honley on August 29th, 1864, and on December 7th the same year, the newly-appointed Board held its first meeting. Mr. James Robinson, of Smithy Place, was appointed its first chairman.

Page 88





In 1865, Honley was divided into four wards for the better division of its local government, viz :-Central, East, South and West. Each ward is entitled to send three representatives to the Governing Board.

WipExinc or Horxnury GATE.

A narrow footway aptly named "Spider's Alley," which had its entrance near to the Vicarage Gates and led to the stepping-stones was closed in 1870. This ancient path passed through fields which at this date were being enclosed for a Park. The late Captain Jessop, the owner of the property, gave its equivalent in land to widen the Gate. This was not only a great improvement, but the alterations to private pro- perty also beautified the main entrance to Honley.

RatraBur Vauur or HoxnuEry im 1870.

In March, 1870, the Rateable Value of Honley was £13,072 Os. Od.

NEw Roap to Ramway STATION.

Previous to 1870, the only way to Honley Station was either by the present Gynn Lane, or wading through an old narrow bridle-path, which was left to nature for repair, known as Cow-lane. To the left of this generally impassable road diverged another bridle-gate named Windy-Cap, which led into Northgate lane-the highway to Farnley Tyas, Kirk- burton, Wakefield, etc. When toll-bars were abolished, the land for the present road to the railway station, and for the widening of Windy Cap to its present broad dimensions was given by Mr. William Brooke in exchange for the closing of the bottom part of Northgate lane, which lay between his private grounds. The making of this road which was a great undertaking, and the widening of Windy Cap, which was at that time a deep gully banked by rocks, heather, and gorse bushes, was one of the greatest of modern improvements in Honley considerably shortening the distance to the station. The first sod for the present road was turned by Mr. Lupton Littlewood, on December 24th, 1870, who at that time was

Page 89




Chairman of the Local Board. The road was finished in August, 1871.

Scroor LaxnE.

Formerly the only way to reach the National Schools was by a narrow dirty lane leading from Church Street. This was widened, and the present fine broad road constructed, I believe, at no cost to Honley Ratepayers.

Cow Laxt axnp Winpy-CaAP.

Before old names are forgotten by a new generation, it is of interest to ask why two of Honley's oldest " gates " were thus named. Cow Lane may have received its name from being used as a cow-gate. On the other hand, there are many Norse superstitions linking the names of Cow Lane and Windy-Cap together. It was an old belief, and is still in remote places in Lancashire, that the " milky-way " in the firmament is the road to heaven at death ; and many hill-side dwellers still name the " milky-way" as the "Cow Lane." Another Norse legend is that Ericus, a nephew of Regnerus, King of Denmark, was so deeply versed in witchcraft that whichever way he turned his cap, the wind would blow in that direction. For possessing this magical power, he was named Windy-Cap. His uncle by this supposed supernatural aid was able to con- quer all countries, and extend his piracy into most remote parts. In these old legends, there seems close connection between the name of this old road and our early Danish invaders. On the other hand, " Winde " means swamp, and '* cap " a headland, which also answers to its old-time character and situation.


On the night of Oct. 27th, 1880, Wood Royd Mill was burnt down. The weather was very bad, and fire engines had great difficulty in reaching the scene of the fire on account of the deep snow underfoot.


In the short history of our wells, it will be seen that we have no lack of springs. One would bave thought that the

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1887 1892




sound of running water in every nook and corner of Honley would have satisfied the most thirsty soul. Such however was not the case. The water supplied by Huddersfield Corporation to Honley dwellers was officially turned on by Mr. Lupton Littlewood, who was Chairman of the Local Board at the time. This ceremony took place upon Honley Feast Monday, 1881.

QUEEN VictorIa's First JUBILEE.

The first Jubilee in honour of fifty years' reign of the late Queen Victoria was held on June 20th, 1887. Wonderful enthusiasm, pomp, loyalty and splendour marked the day in London, provincial towns and all parts of Her Majesty's Dominions. Honley honoured the Queen's Jubilee with great enthusiasm, processions, speeches, and loyal cheers. Free teas and medals were provided for both week-day and Sunday scholars of all Denominations. The day's proceedings were closed by the lighting of a huge bonfire in the most elevated part of the estate of Mr. William Brooke, Northgate Mount, and a display of fireworks.

Txr CommErcIat Inx.

This once well-known old Inn was purchased by Mr. William Brooke in 1887, and closed. The work of pulling down com- menced in March, 1892, for the purpose of erecting a Parish Room on the site. (See Church History).

UrBaxn DstrICT CouncIL.

The formation of first Local Government in Honley was named a Local Committee. In 1894, the village governing body was designated a Local Board, when its title was again changed. By virtue of the Local Government Act of that year, our Local Governing Board was to be known in future as the Urban District Council and its members as Councillors. The first election of Councillors under new names took place in December in 1894, and the first meeting on December 3lst in the same year. - Dr. Thomas Smailes was the first appointed Chairman under its new title.

Page 91


_ 1897




The ancient boundaries of Honley which had not been disturbed since the days of the Norman Conquest, (and probably earlier), fell a victim to modern change in 1897. The limits of stream and forest were no longer to form the boundary line of one part of the township. A community had arisen on ground once covered by the forest which demanded its own local government. Meltham Mills was taken from Honley township on March 15th, 1897, and transferred to Meltham Urban District Council. What may seem a trivial event in a place has often more far-reaching effects than other happenings which attract greater attention for the time being. The substantial sum hitherto paid in rates to Honley by Messrs. Jonas Brook & Sons for their large Cotton-thread Works, and also rates from other sources was a loss to our township if a great acquisition to the finances of Meltham.


On June 20th, 1897, the late Queen Victoria had reigned sixty years. This second Jubilee surpassed the first in wonder- ful outbursts of joy, loyalty and gratitude ; money being given for all kinds of charitable objects throughout the country. The Queen passed in State through London. One striking feature of the Celebrations were the simultaneous lightings of bonfires or beacon-fires at ten o'clock on the evening of the Jubilee. The bonfires were placed not only upon sites where the beacon-fires had blazed in olden days, but upon every hill-top and elevated piece of land throughout the cduntry. A June day of " Queen's weather" had been succeeded by an equally perfect June night, so that local fires, especially upon historical Castle Hill could be seen by all. The writer, from a favourable standpoint at the top of Honley Moor, counted seven flaring beacons. This eventful night brought to more vivid realization Lord Macaulay's stirring ballad relating to the anticipated landing of the Spanish Armada upon our shores, with the difference that the lighting of the fires was the signal for one long shout of loyalty in place of a war-flame. Four

Page 92





lines taken from Lord Macaulay's Ballad of the Armada can be applied as descriptive of the Diamond Jubilee night.

** Night sunk upon the dusky beach, and on the purple sea, Such night in England ne'er had been, nor ne'er again shall see, , From Eddystone to Berwick bounds, from Lynn to Milford Bay, That time of slumber was as bright and busy as the day."

Honley again duly honoured the Diamond Jubilee. A Special Service had been held in Church the previous Sunday. The main streets had been decorated by a willing band of workers ready for the day. The school children joined together in singing at Lane Head Hill, walked in procession through the streets, and were regaled with a good tea at their respective Schools. After the evening's sports and pastimes, a bonfire and fireworks concluded an eventful day. Two days after- wards, the late Captain Jessop gave a dinner at the National Schools to all persons over 60 years of age in the township of Honley, when speeches were made and loyal toasts drunk. To commemorate the Diamond Jubilee in Honley, £500 0s. Od. was given to the Sick Nursing Fund, and £25 0s. 0d. to Brock- holes Recreation Ground.

Gas Works ExrpLOsION.

A gas explosion took place upon the premises, killing four men and injuring another, on Tuesday, July 4th, 1899. The accident caused much excitement at the time, and large crowds of people visited the scene of the explosion.

PurcHKAsE OF GaAs WoORrKs.

On October 22nd, 1900, Honley took the bold leap of becom- ing a capitalist township by purchasing the Gas Works. The original Shareholders and fifteen Directors who in 1856 had floated the Company by risking £1000 Os. 0d. amongst them- selves had been looked upon as wild speculators who turned worlds upside down, and would not allow people to slumber peacefully in their beds. What would be the views of

Page 93






1903 1904


ancient critics now ? The township purchased the Gas Works by agreement on October 22nd, 1900, which was confirmed on July 2nd, 1901 by the Urban District Council. The

- purchase price was £18,500 Os. Od.


A great landmark in the history of the country was the death of Queen Victoria of England on January 22nd, 1901, aged 81 years, after a reign of 63 years. Honley added its loyal tribute of mourning to her memory. Being an eye witness to that notable State funeral in London, when Kings and Princes from all parts of the World personally paid their sorrowing homage to a great Queen, the sight can never be forgotten.


On February lst, 1902, the residents of Honley publicly welcomed and honoured Private Arnold Taylor, and previously Private Auty, who had served in the South African War.


The first Steam-car by road to Honley was run from Hud- dersfield, on a trial trip, on June 4th, 1902. The following day, June 5th, the cars conveyed passengers. The cars are now run by electricity.

CoronatTION or Kmc Enpnwarp VII.

This historical event of a King's crowning after his mother's long reign, took place on August 9th, 1902.


The plant lag down for Electricity in conjunction with the Gas Works, wa’gprepared in 1901, and the Electric-light was first used experimentally on November 11th 1903. It was not, however, until March 21st, 1904, that the plant was officially opened. A large company of local gentlemen were present at the opening ceremony. A gold key, suitably inscribed, was presented to Elon Crowther, Esq., J.P., Chairman of the District Council, with which Mr. Crowther opened the door of the generating room, and set the engine in motion. - William Brooke, Esq., J.P., switched on the light.

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Arricarnr War.

On May 23rd, 1904, Captain Clement Armitage, son of C. I. Armitage, Esq., J.P., High Royd, was also publicly welcomed and honoured in Honley on his return from South Africa from where his military duties prevented his earlier return.

The rateable value of Honley in 1905 was £16,714 Os. Od.

Tur DEatH or Kimnc Enpnwarp VIL

On May 7th, 1910, King Edward, after his short reign of eight years, died the previous midnight, and was buried on May 20th. On the day of the funeral, a public service was held in Honley Church at 12 o'clock. All sections of the com- munity and public bodies attended, when special hymns were sung and special prayers offered. An eloquent and appropriate sermon was preached by the Rev. H. F. T. Barter, Vicar.

CoRrONATION oF Kimo GrErorcr V.

The Coronation of King George V., after the death of his father, took place on June 22nd, 1911. The day was loyally celebrated at Honley. Houses and public streets had been decorated for the occasion, and generous subscriptions given to provide a fitting celebration of the day. A morning service was held in Church which was largely attended. Early after noon, members of all public bodies and societies, children of all the Sunday Schools, and general public again assembled at Lanehead-hill. Headed by Honley Brass Band, all marched around the main streets, massing together in the old historical meeting place in Town-gate, where hymns were sung and cheers given. Afterwards the children adjourned for tea to their respective schools, when every person in Honley under sixteen years of age had Coronation Mugs presented to them. A huge bonfire, fireworks, sports, etc., ended a day which had been joyfully and loyally celebrated in Honley.

CHRaAncE In tuxE® TownsxuIP's BOUNDARIES.

A change in the Township's limits again took place on April Ist, 1912. The order from the West Riding County Council transferring 260 acres at Deanhouse and Mytholm Bridge to

Page 95

oe nip senna ie

RoYyAL VISIT TO HoNLEY, (see page 77).

A TyYPIcaL HonLey FoLDp-BROOKE FOLD. _ (see page 93),

Page 97



Holmfirth Urban District Council came into operation on

_ April Ist, 1912. In the history of Deanhouse, reference is made

to this severing of ancient landmarks.


This large field, situated in the most picturesque and healthy part of Honley, was first secured by Mr. William Brooke as a play ground for the school children. Its area is da. 3r. 55p. It was managed by a small representative Committee for a long number of years, who have quietly watched over its interests, providing seats and keeping walls in repair. Mr. Brooke was able to purchase the property in 1912 at a cost of £740 0s. 0d. On February 18th, 1912, he presented it to the Urban District Council by deed to be used only for purposes of a children's playground, and for the use of the public at all times. Sufficient space and provision must always be made for the games of children of Elementary School age. Bye-laws relating to its management have been adopted by the District Council and approved by the Local Government Board.

VIsIT or Kmmc GrErorcEr QUEEN Mary.

It is related of an American visitor to this country, that when making a tour of England's historical houses, he grew tired of seeing beds in which Queen Elizabeth was supposed to have slept. One day when the guide in a well-known mansion was describing celebrated relics amongst which was the historical bed, the American impatiently exclaimed :-

'* Stop right here, guide. I mean no disrespect, but just you point me out a bed in which that lady did not sleep."

We in Honley have not been sated by the sight of a local bed in which Royalty has slept, so that when the announce- ment went fomhat the King and Queen were coming to our village, all were keenly alive to the honour,-the pleasure being all the greater when it was known who was to be honoured by their visit. His Majesty had expressed a wish that the series of visits undertaken in our industrial district should be of a simple character. The desire was obeyed, only the school

Page 98




children being given tea by Mr. Brooke to commemorate the visit to Honley. When the day arrived there was a general holiday in the place, and great crowds assembled along the route which would be taken by the King and Queen on their way from Huddersfield. The School children and inmates of Deanhouse Workhouse had been provided with platforms in Mr. Brooke's plantations from where a good view was obtained, and private platforms all along the route were numerous. The King and Queen arrived at the appointed time, on July llth, 1912, loyally cheered by the great crowds. After partak- ing of tea with Mr. and Mrs. Brooke, at Northgate Mount, they left, passing through Brockholes on their way, where they were also loyally cheered.


On Wednesday, October 15th, 1913, the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Huddersfield was conferred upon William Brooke, Esq. Universal approval from all sections of the public welcomed the honour for one who had spent a strenuous life for the good of the whole community. The ceremony in Huddersfield was marked by great enthusiasm, and public testimony to Mr. Brooke's worth. Honley people do not carry their hearts upon their sleeves, neither are they inclined to express their approval too rashly. This public honour how- ever to a " Honley lad " to make use of Mr. Brooke's own words gave unbounded satisfaction to its natives and dwellers.


A list of the persons who served the town as Constables during 1700 ended with the name of Joseph Woodhead (Thurston) Thirstin. At the beginning of 1800 the Constables were still responsible for the good order of the place ; but before the end of the century, the once important personage would be a relic of the past. The Police Act was due to Sir Robert Peel, whose name was applied in derison to the new guardians of the peace whom he had called into existence. " Bobby "and '* Peeler" were and are still names commonly given to the

Page 99


police by young outlaws. I have no date when the first police- man was appointed to Honley after the passing of the Act in 1856. I think that it was about two years afterwards. I can remember that his name was James Howe, and that his head covering was a long hat with a shining crown. Neither have I the correct date when the office of Constable officially ceased in Honley. According to old Parish Laws, Constables could still be appointed until 1872. When the present Church was re-built in 1843, the office became gradually merged in that of policeman and churchwarden. Even at the present time, many old people still name the latter person Constable, and the place he occupies in Church as "The Constable pew." It will be seen in the history of Honley Church that it had to suffice for the spiritual needs of Meltham, Crosland, and Netherthong at one time. It had been the Sabbath-Day custom of the Constables to visit the extreme ends of the three parishes for the purpose of detecting Sabbath breakers. Upon Honley Feast Sunday, the Constgbles made a circuit of the whole place carrying their stave’h office which were massive, and rather formidable weapons for defence or attack. It was also the custom along with other Constables from neighbouring parishes to proceed to Almondbury on Easter Sunday, perambulate the streets, and afterwards attend Church. This was an old observance due to the Mother Church of Almond- bury from her daughters in other parts of the parish, dating back to the time previous to granting the Faculty in 1503. The dwellers in Kaye Lane, Almondbury at that time were chiefly bird-fanciers and weavers. They generally lay in wait for the return of Honley Constables, having various feuds of long standing against our township, which were nursed back to fresh life each Honley Feast. It was a well-known fact, that no Honley Constable however powerful and brave, dare venture home alone from Almondbury on Easter Sunday night. The following is the list of the remainder of Constables' names who served in 1800 until superseded by Churchwardens :-

1801, William Brooke ; 1802-3, James Armitage, Reins ; 1804-14, Thomas Leigh, Town-head ; 1815-16, Robert

Page 100


Bradley ; 1816-19, Joseph Armitage, High Royd ; 1820-21, Charles Littlewood ; 1822, Joshua Robinson ; 1823, Robert Robinson ; 1824, Joshua Charlesworth (who died in office) ; 1824-28, Thomas Sanderson ; 1828, George Jessop ; 1829, John Littlewood ; 1830-1, Thomas Brooke ; 1832-3, Thomas Hallas ; 1834-5, John Dyson, Wood Nook ; 1836-7, William Wilkinson ; 1838, George Beaumont ; 1839, Richard Haigh (chosen but refused to serve) ; 1840-4, James Stocks.

The names of the Churchwardens who have served since 1844 will be found under the " History of the Church."

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(Modern Honley.-Its Natural History.-Characteristics and Sayings of Honley People.-Various Trades.-Old Homestead and Houses.- Honley Clothiers.-The Wives of Honley Old Sign Boards).


Wr have now marked the death of the old, and birth of the new in the annals of Honley. We have also seen that it has survived the ups and downs of generations of religious, political, and social struggles in the outside world ; and also weathered its own storms. During its gradual advance from the old to the new, it has had experience of dark and bright days. There have been murders, suicides, accidents, tragedies and romances. The present generation enjoying the blessings due to those upheavals of a past, can form no idea of the conditions pre- vailing a hundred years ago in Honley. If the present advantages which are now within the reach of all had been described to our forefathers at the beginning of last century, they would have declared that such stories of progress were more suitable for the pages of " Arabian Nights " tales, than for sober reality. Our forefathers were left to fight out their own battles, and shoulder their own responsibilities sustained upon oat-meal porridge. If a few of the once hardy dwellers in Honley who never minced their words could return, I know what they would say whatever they might think. With sweeping condemnation, they would probably compare the present generation to infants wrapped in swaddling clothes who were only fit to be waked up to be fed, and then put to bed again without even the trouble of chewing their food. History however is always repeating itself even in recalling the good old days. We have seen that Hollinshed considered modern degeneracy far advanced when chimneys were added to houses F

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in 1570. . I have heard old manufacturers in Honley declare that when the wearing of good black cloth went out of fashion, respectability also died out. People are so accustomed to the state of things in which they live, that they think it must be absolutely necessary to remain so. Probably many old people think now that England has seen her best days on account of the introduction of such evils as Reform Bills, railways, penny post, cheap printing, etc., preferring the blessings of ignorance and restricted travel.

We must now look upon Honley and its surroundings as it stands before our eyes under modern conditions at the beginning of 1914.

In one of the deep valleys which intersect the extensive

range of hills known as The Pennine Chain, Honley stands upon

the identical place, and is situated upon the same Holme watercourse as in the days of Cola and Suuen. On one side Castle Hill mound, surrounded by belts of woodlands can still be seen, and on the other, the open space retaining its old name of Honley Moor. Stretching away to sky-lines like a silent grey sea are the wildest and bleakest spurs of the Pennine Chain, the highest standing 1860 feet above sea level. The valley where fairies, boggarts and other mysteries once haunted stream, field and wood at the approach of gloaming is still enclosed by wooded uplands, though its peacefulness and beauty have been disturbed by modern progress. The grand outlook upon earth and sky that can yet be obtained from any of the hill-sides of Honley may be a little dimmed by smoke, but the same moorlands and watercourses, the same beauty of rising and setting suns can still be viewed.

Honley of the present day, with its hamlets of Brockholes, Oldfield, Hall Ing, and until recently, Deanhouse can no longer be termed a village, but rather named a straggling small town. Situated upon an eminence, which in ancient days would probably be the first clearing in the forest, the houses would gradually increase near this first site of importance. - The older dwellings are described in " Old homesteads and houses."

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Built with careless disregard to building lines, their general style of architecture can be named as " straight up and straight down." We cannot boast of historical mansions where visitors can be shown around at so much per head. In the last century, however, when the cloth-trade was rapidly developing, larger residences were built, whose surroundings of timbered park lands help to retain the rural beauty of Honley. In marked contrast to the progress of the village fifty years ago, when new erections were built in that slow meditative manner typical of its dwellers, a large number of better-class houses for working men have been built. The first erection of 24 new houses by the Co-operative Society was the beginning of a great change in the character of a place once covered by the forest. The building of other houses quickly followed, and now the bottom of Honley Moor may be named a small suburb. Numerous villa erections have also sprung up in various parts of the place. If taking a bird's eye view of Honley from one of her hill-tops, the picture of mansions, villas, old and new buildings crowded together as if in neighbourly attachment, shadowed by the Church tower, and enclosed by woods and uplands gives a picturesque effect. The particulars regarding erection of other buildings, whether for religious, educational or social use, will be found under their own headings. The present large Woollen Mills with their modern machinery that can perform the labour of a hundred men in place of the single worker of old days, are witnesses that the woollen trade in its various branches is still an important industry in the place. Other trades have also been introduced. The three most important of modern origin which have taken root and give employment to a large number of workpeople are Mr. G. W. Oldham's Silk-Dyeing Works, Messrs. J. Shaw &- Sons, Ruling Machine Makers, Messrs. B. Robinson & Sons, Laundry Works, and Messrs. S. Waite & Sons, Ruling Machine Makers. Motor Car Works have also sprung up to supply modern demands for greater speed.

The Dartmouths still remain Lords of the Manor of Honley, which is yet in the upper division of the ancient Wapentake

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of Agbrigg. As the old Feudal observances of the Wapentake are only evolved under new forms and names, Honley is now in the Administration area of the West Riding County Council, the Colne Valley Parliamentary Division of the West Riding, the County Court district of Holmfirth, and Huddersfield Union. Its local government is controlled by the Urban District Council, the members of which are elected by the ratepayers once in three years. Its Poor-law affairs are in the hands of two Guardians, also elected once in three years. The Ecclesiastical Parish is in the Rural Deanery of Hudders- field and Diocese of Wakefield. The area of the present civil Parish and Urban District is 2175 acres, and its rateable value £20,501 Os. 0d. Its dimensions on account of the loss of Meltham Mills and Deanhouse have decreased, but as we have seen, its rateable value has gradually increased since 1344, when its worth was only 40/-. _ The present dividing boundaries of the Parish are part of Mytholm Bridge, Oldfield Ridge, Spinner-gate and Meltham Road tops, Wood-bottom, Wrigley Mill, Lords Mill, part of Mag-bridge, Upper Steps Mill, Wood- top, Scale hill, and Hall Ing. The population of Honley has not varied much in numbers. This is due to any increase being balanced by the loss of other parts of the Township. If, however, people now numbered in other parishes were again added, population has not increased as rapidly as its expendi- ture ; thus testifying to the greater comforts enjoyed by the people in comparison to by-gone times. The population of Honley during the last eighty years is as follows :-

1831 4523 1881 5070 1841 5381 1891 5466 1851 5597 1901 4904 - 1861 4626 1905 5033 1871 4906 1911 5100

At the next Census the dwellers in Deanhouse and part of Mytholm Bridge will be included in Holmfirth, so that the present population of Honley at the beginning of 1914, if estimated, must be smaller than when counted in the Census of 1911.

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Too much space would be occupied to enumerate all the wonderful improvements which have taken place within the last twenty years conducive to cleanliness, health and greater comfort. People if disinclined to walk to Honley Station, can travel to and from Huddersfield in electric cars from early morning until late at night. New streets have been made, old roads widened and flanked by broad pavements. The whole of the roads in the Township are now lighted by its own electricity. - Provision for sewerage has been both extensive and costly. Water is supplied by Huddersfield and Batley Corporations, and the Urban District Council attends to all Sanitary and Scavenging matters. An Isolation Hospital is also provided for infectious diseases. Street-name plates and house numbers have been affixed. Guide-posts point out the right path to travellers, and inviting seats are placed for them to rest upon. The present names of members of Honley Urban District Council, and the chief officers employed in their service, are as follows :-

Elon Crowther, Esq., J.P., Chairman. (George Thompson Oldham, Esq., Vice-Chairman.


Mr. John Ed. Heap, Solicitor. ,, Samuel Jagger, Woollen Merchant. ,, Albert Littlewood, Cloth Merchant. ,, Frank Oldfield, Joiner and Builder. ,, George Pearson, Woollen Weaver. ,, -Thomas Smailes, M.D., Doctor of Medicine.

East Warp.

Mr. George Henry Barraclough, Blacksmith. ,, Elon Crowther (Chairman), Cloth Manufacturer. ,, Tom Edgar Littlewood, Cloth Finisher.


Mr. James Arthur Beaumont, Wool Dyer. Harry Holdroyd, Joiner and Builder.

Lewis Matthewman, Commercial Traveller.

2 9

» 9

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WEst Warp.

Mr. Thomas Chapman, Warehouseman. ,, George Thompson Oldham (Vice-Chairman), Silk Dyer. ,, Thomas Henry Sykes, Woollen Manufacturer.

The past and present Chairmen of the old Local Board and Urban District Council are as follows :-

1865-1868, Mr. James Robinson, Smithy Place. 1868-1869, Mr. William Brooke, Northgate Mount. 1869-1870, Mr. David Bradley, Wood-bottom. 1870-1873, Mr. Lupton Littlewood, Enfield House. 1873-1878, Mr. James Robinson, Smithy Place.

1878-1880, Mr. 1880-1886, Mr. 1886-1889, Mr. 1889-1890, Mr. 1890-1891, Mr. 1891-1892, Mr. 1892-1899, Mr. 1899-1908, Mr. 1908-1910, Mr.

Lupton Littlewood, Enfield House. George Wm. Oldham, The Stubbings. Joshua James Robinson, Smithy Place. Thomas Smailes, M.D., Town-head. Geo. Wm. Oldham, The Stubbings. France Littlewood, Grove House. Thomas Smailes, Town-head. Elon Crowther, Brockholes. Thomas Smailes, Town-head.

1910, Mr. Elon Crowther, Brockholes.

The present Parliamentary Representative for Colne Valley in which division Honley is included is Mr. Charles Leach, Liberal, who resides in London. The Electoral division of Honley, for the West Riding County Council, is represented by Alderman George Wm. Oldham, The Stubbings, Netherton, and County Councillor Samuel Jagger, Lane House, Honley. The two Poor Law Guardians are Mr. France Littlewood and Mr. J. E. Heap, with Miss Siddon as co-opted member. The Overseers of the poor are Mr. John Pennington, Mr. J. R. Sharp, Mr. Samuel Jagger and Mr. Allen Boothroyd.

The Officers of the Urban District Council are as follows :-Mr. Thomas Smailes, Clerk ; Mr. J. R. Thornton, Collector of Rates ; Mr. T. H. Smith, Assistant Overseer ; Mr. Richard Beaumont, Road Surveyor ; Mr. Henry Marsden,

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Gas Manager; Mr. R. H. Trotter, M.D., Medical Officer of Health ; Mr. R. V. Rigby, Treasurer ; Mr. J. Berry, Building Surveyor, and Mr, Joseph Carter, Inspector of Nuisances.

NaTurar History or HoxuEy.

It is not my intention to give a learned disquisition upon the Geological, Botanical and Zoological history of Honley, not being an expert in these various subjects. Our bleak hill- sides, °" the incense arising from modern industry," and the ever increasing population of neighbouring towns as well as our own continually swarming over them, are not favourable to a rich display of floral growth. Honley at present abounds more in spots of romantic beauty than in natural history specimens. I am only capable of describing a few of the birds, flowers, etc., which are common around us, and give to them the old-fashioned names of Shakespere's days, and which are still in use amongst us. I am a devoted lover and keen observer of nature, but I prefer to gaze upon her numerous beauties as a whole rather than analyze one single specimen. There is, however, one distinct characteristic of our neghbour- hood which seems to have escaped the observation of people who pay homage to the height of Castle Hill, and that is, we have a knoll in the Township of higher altitude. Having a great respect for old beliefs, I am sorry to shatter and destroy this accepted faith in the height of Castle Hill. Swinny or Swiney knoll, the most elevated piece of land in Honley, situated at the top of Honley Moor, is 1000 feet above sea level, which exceeds the height of Castle Hill. The knoll has retained its name from the time when acorns in the forest were the food of the Swine that fed there. Rocky headlands, craggy declivities, buildings, walls, roads, etc., proclaim that stone is plentiful in the neighbourhood. Honley is particularly rich in her strata or beds of stone. We have been so accustomed to this natural abundance of building material, that stone will not be valued until scarce. In this history it will be seen that coal was plentiful underneath our soil.

Farminc. I cannot write much regarding the farming industry which

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is neither picturesque nor scientific, due no doubt to climatic conditions. The West and South-West winds which are forerunners of tempest and rain generally prevail. Our near- ness to the hills also accounts for the frequency of rainfalls, and the bracing winds are due to our elevated position. The land has been broken up into small enclosures or holdings. The names of Royd, Ing, Intake, etc., occur frequently, proving the many clearings which have been made in the forest as generations have rolled over. These clearings have been wrested almost yard by yard to cultivation, but the barren and exposed nature of the ground, combined with small holdings, does not seem to contribute to the success of farming. Even in ** Bonnie Honley " nature is often so stern and uncompromis- ing around, that I have known hay-crops gathered with difficulty in September, and wheat and corn carried to barns knee deep in snow to be used as bedding for cattle. At present the production of milk is the chief aim of our small farmers, which finds a ready sale amongst our industrial community, so that grass land is more in favour than corn-growing.


The many varieties of field and wood flowers are of course too numerous to mention here. When I was a girl, primroses and daffodills, or as we named them °" daffy-down-dillys in green petticoats and yellow gowns " grew in West-woods. Wild strawberries also were plentiful. I don't suppose that there is a single root left of a primrose or daffodill. I am afraid that before long the present ferns and blue-bells,-the latter spreading before our eyes in May like a mist of sapphire- will share the same fate. Wild violets 'in secluded dells, and forget-me-nots by the sides of our running springs of water once grew in abundance. I can recall the day when bull- rushes of a fine size covered Mytholm Bridge Mill-dam. The early wood anemone or " cuckoo flower," and the marsh marigold decked those miry grounds which were the supposed resort of " Will o'th Wisp" and " Peggy o'th Lanthorn.'" The wild dog-rose and honeysuckle still spread over our few remaining old hedges, but are quickly plucked. The delicate

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hare-bell bound up with fairy legends loves its barren soil, and is to be found growing by the side of old lanes and bridle-gates until torn up and cast aside. The fox-glove or " poppy " common on our banks and fringing fields is also quickly claimed and its roots taken away by visitors. Hen-roosts and destructive children have nearly exterminated the bushes of yellow gorse that coloured our hill-sides. Heather, cotton- grass and bilberry bushes hold strongly to their native heath upon Honley Moor. Not long ago, the heather was so abundant that it was cut in large for making besoms, ete. Even now it is used for thatching and fuel. We once were able to gather elderberries in a few hours sufficient to make wine to last during the winter months. Blackberries, wild raspberries and bilberries are yet plentiful in woods, hedges and moorlands.

Birp LIFE.

Birds do not fare so badly as plants and flowers in our midst, the woods affording them sanctuary ; but bird-nesting is still a favourite pastime. The Red-breast can fearlessly hop about us on account of many local superstitions attached to the bird. The house-martin also returns to its unmolested old nests in window-corners, or repairs them with feet as if the hands of cunning builders. It would be deemed unlucky to disturb a martin's nest. The voice of the cuckoo is always welcome after our long winters, for " she brings us good tidings and tells us no lies." If we find money in our pockets when hearing her first cry, we are only too delighted to turn it over in secret joy, even if its value is only a single half-penny, and recall to mind the old rhymes. The rooks or " crows," and the magpies or " pinots " are all plentiful, for they too are birds of good or evil omen and are generally left unmolested. I could name many more of our familiar wild-birds, for the blackbird's song after a summer evening's shower, the throstle's jubilant note at early dawn, and the mounting skylark's rippling trill are still with us ; but space is limited.


As we have seen, nearly all our wild animals have been

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exterminated since the time when the forest afforded a day's sport either for pleasure or profit. I can remember when the last wild-cat was caught in a trap by Mr. Charles Carter who at that time was gamekeeper for Mr. Alfred Beaumont, of Parkton Grove. The latter married for his first wife the only child of the late Mr. Joseph Hirst, the founder of Wilshaw (or Wild- shaw). Mr. Beaumont was a keen naturalist and sportsman. The " pow-cat," as he was locally named, had long committed havoc in grounds shot over by Mr. Beaumont at that time, but the animal was too cunning to be caught. Mr. Beaumont understanding wild nature set a trap which at last proved too tempting. I was in the neighbourhood at the time the cat was caught, and not only saw the animal but felt its stench. It was about as large as an undersized fox with striped yellow fur, formidable fangs, and seemed very old. No doubt it was the last of the race of wild-cats once common in the neighbour- hood. I can also remember the great excitement prevailing amongst us children when a snake of considerable length was killed in Spring-wood. Hedgehogs or " urchants," weasles, moles or °" mold-warps," etc., were once very numerous. Efts, or " askers," which gave us the idea of scorpions, toads, which were supposed to spit fire on account of the convulsive action of the throat ; and other inhabitants of marshy grounds and miry lanes were often disturbing elements in childish wander- ings. These, and other kinds of reptile life were more abundant than at present. Hares and rabbits are still plentiful if not poached. We must now leave the natural history of Honley,~, if such it can be named, and content ourselves that we have still with us Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter ; during which cycle the romance and tragedy of nature is still going on if further apart from us than in the days when heather- clad Honley Moor stretched down almost to our doors.


Dr. Whitaker writes in 1816 regarding the people of this neighbourhood, as follows :-" Ignorant and savage, yet cun- ning and attentive to their own interests, under few restraints from law and fewer from conscience, it is a singular phenomenon

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that almost all the people are under one demonination or another religionists."" Thiers the French historian wrote that ** mountainous countries are favourable for the preservation of institutions, habits and manners of a people."

The distinguishing traits of past dwellers in Honley and also its situation, answer to the above description. Combative and rebellious against all innovations our fathers and grandfathers might have been, but they did not play with religion. They also looked askance at atheism. With regard to the preserva- tion of institutions, habits and manners. If the moorlands and forests of our neighbourhood did not find shelter for escape at the time of the Conquest, at least they preserved our in- dividuality. Certainly Norman William did not crush our independent spirit, nor uproot our old customs. Even when Norman and Saxon dwellers have since become one race by intermixture and the flight of years, the Norman element is merged ; not many names, manners, or much of their speech remaining amongst us. If the Church has become Protestant, we still hold tenaciously to religious observances, customs and superstitions of the old race from which we are descended. So firmly bound up with our lives is ancient mythology, that the old beliefs and myths still linger around upland, wood, hollow and stream. _ We are apt to hold aloof from strangers, looking upon such restless mortals who are unable to remain at home in the light of wandering vagabonds. I have known " Comers in " who have lived in the place forty years considered as strangers by an old native. If hailing from Lancashire, they were generally named as coming from a vague region known as "Th' Uvver Country." Many of our old dwellers were never known to move or act with speed. If however a few of us are a little slow of limb as well as speech, we are swift to wrath, and quick to resent an injury. When suffering from real or imaginary wrongs, we often scorn the help of law, pre- ferring to retaliate in the old Norse fashion of having eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. If the contest is not settled, it can be handed down as a legacy to be fought out to a finish at a future day. Family feuds in addition to family names are

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inherited in Honley. We also do not like people to be too inquisitive about our private affairs, nor too ready in offering sympathy when they see that gloom upon our faces which is akin to rock and moor around us. We are neither sorrowfal nor dejected, only silently determined not to be trifled with. If strangers will wait patiently, they will soon learn all about us, without any unwary approaches to our confidences. We may be also rather destitute of compliments, but that is because we are apt to hide our feelings either beneath rude speech or silence. During the last century, we did not seem to have much use for surnames. Perhaps that was due to the fact that they had been so long out of use, that their owners had forgotten them. Certainly at one time many owners of surnames could not have been found by inquiring strangers. That fact, how- ever, was of small moment. We could always have been sorted out by our trades, dwellings, or personal characteristics. Failing these means of identification, we were known by our different breeds, such as drinking, fighting, sober, drunken, idle, industrious, greedy, generous, poaching, honest, thieving, harmless, leet-geen, (sensual) and various other family traits.

Strangers, or those not born in Honley, when thus reading the description of our characteristics might think that we are rather a strange people. Not at all. It is only that we are strong in our own individuality. If at one time the dwellers in Honley might have been rather bleak and grey in character, that was on account of their kinship to the moorlands which were once around them. If in the past many were almost as wild and uncultivated as the moorlands, there was the pathetic beauty and humble grandeur of life in their midst. - When heaven's gleams brightened up the surroundings of hill-side homes, their owners considered the neighbourhood the most beautiful place in all the world. The homes in the village however humble were looked upon with eyes of love, for every- thing about those old folds and yards carried their own memories, and were of value to those who lived there.

At present, however, Honley is in a state of transition. During my life-time it has lost much of its old-world character

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(see page 92).










Page 115




see page 92).

Page 117


(see page 93).


(see page 93),

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with its once unaffected interchange of life and old attach- ments. _ We exchange calls and visiting cards in place of pouring scalding water or boiling lead upon the heads of visitors. Old buildings are now condemned in which people once lived to patriarchal ages. These have either been pulled down or left a blot of desolation. Old landmarks have been removed, individual characters are disappearing, old faces rapidly passing away, and few remain who remember the place and its once distinctive dwellers fifty years ago. Yet there are still left numerous old links connecting the old with the new. In many of our cottage-homes are still to be found flagged stone- floors once carpeted with sand, white-washed walls, bread- reels suspended from oak-beams, funeral cards and samplers framed in rosewood hung upon walls, corner-cupboards and delf-cases filled with heirlooms, long-cased clocks with sun and moon on dials, and other adornments of a by-gone day. House-leek can still be found upon house-roofs, cultivated for its medicinal and supersitious power. The word street has crept into our local vocabulary, but " gates," " fowds," *' yerds " and "loins" are yet familiar in our ears. Honley has also to be approached by the hill known as " the gate," or the equally steep turnpike road. Old buildings in the village and homesteads on the hill-sides, speak in silence of the sturdy race of men who dwelt there, and who helped either to uphold or destroy the power of a king. Standing upon the pinnacle of their yeoman's pride, toiling night and day almost in their isolated homes to retain their little freeholds, they were at least industrious if accused by Dr. Whitaker of being too *' attentive to their own interests." Perhaps there was not much evidence of the courtesies of life amongst many, and a few would be inclined to wreak vengeance in the old Norse fashion. But under those roofs existed faithful service, neigh- bourly friendship, and kindly deed. Savage actions and coarse language however have given place to more moral conduct and intellectual knowledge. Yet the sturdy independent spirit still flows on. It may be a little modified, but Honley natives of the present day call a spade a spade. If forced, they can repeat with wonderful fluency the past and present misdoings

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of any breed with which they may be at variance. If necessity arises, they can also act in their own defence without the help

of law.

Fashion has now introduced a sheaf of new names which are in striking contrast to the Biblical names common in my childhood. Fifty years ago, it would have been difficult to find a person in Honley who did not own a Biblical name, proving that Puritanism had taken deep root, and that the old piety had lived on in the good yeoman families, when the highest and lowest stratas of society were sunk in wickedness and brutality. I can recall a Cain who was not destined by nature for bloodthirsty deeds, so was given the prefix of " Smiling " to atone for the mistake. Such names as Moses, Tobias, Habakkuk, Lot, Laban, Solomon, Philemon, Job, Ammon, Emmanuel, etc., were common, and re-appeared in each generation. Honley being sparing of long words as well as speech, these Biblical Christian names were laid aside after baptism. We shortened Noah to Ni, Abraham to Abe, Isaac to Ike, Hezekiah to Ki, Simeon to Si, Zechariah to Zack, Nathaniel to Nat, Jeremiah to Jere, Hosea to Oozy, and so on. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back to the old fashion, which will again bring into existence the grand rugged names redolent of Honley soil.

With regard to the old place-names of Saxon, Danish, and Norse origin ; these remain unchanged amongst us such as Shaw, Holme, Ing, Royd, Ley, Rein, etc. - Honey-head recalls past days when it was customary for the natives to carry their bee-hives to that part of the forest upland. Local dialect may have died out in towns, with their changing population, but not in Honley. The old Saxon words handed down generation after generation, and of which strangers could form no idea of their meaning are still in daily use amongst us. Space restricts me to enumerate only a few in which we express our meaning. '* Arran" (means Spider), "to brade " (to act like him), " bown " (ready), " cahrin " (bending), " cussen" (down-spirited), "flayed " (frightened), " galcar" (beer in a state of fer- mentation), °" haver-cake " (oat-cake), " hoined " (fatigued),

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'* hug" (carry), " kink-host" (whooping-cough), "lig" (lie down), " Neive " (fist), " pawse " (kick), " poite " (to thrust with the feet), " reek" (smoke), " Sam " (to gather), " sagar " and "sage" (sawyer and saw), " spein '"' (wean a child), " smittle " (infectious), " snod "' (smooth or neat), " thack " (roof), " wark " (ache), '" oss "" (begin), etc. Even the " gee- whoo '" (much better to pronounce than write) used by teamers to their horses has been in use amongst us since the days of Chaucer.


Before the discovery of printing, which provides the present literary wealth of reading matter, the mental faculties of people had to feed upon very bare pastures. Old sayings, whether pathetic, witty, amusing, or scornful, were often the only means of acquiring self-knowledge, or giving effect to every-day speech in restricted lives. These sayings in place of book-learning were remembered, quoted, and handed down year after year until they passed into proverbs. Many expressions uttered by members of Honley families cannot be here recalled for fear of wounding the susceptibilities of families still represented in the place. Personally, I should feel proud of many of these undying sayings so distinctive of Honley soil. Education, like our village, being in a state of tran- sition, we have not yet arrived at that stage to distinguish whether a sentence uttered by our forbears was vigorous and strong in character, or only vulgar and indecent. I have chosen a few sayings often quoted in our midst as representative of the old type of Honley dwellers, though the most racy are omitted for reasons given above.

(1). We will first recall the well-known but short sentence of ""Is it we then ?" uttered by Joseph Broadley, alias " Joe Sprod," celebrated as the first self-appointed strike-leader in Honley. As we shall note, Joe was an inmate of the old Workhouse when it stood upon ground at Lane-head hill, and acted as organ-blower for Mr. John Hirst, once a well-known and clever organist at the Church. In its history, references

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are made to the " great-sings " that formerly took place upon Feast Sundays. A previous rehearsal of the music to be sung proved so successful, that singers and organist congratulated each other upon their abilities. " Joe Sprod " listened in sulky silence to the discourse of self-praise in which the man who supplied the wind to the organ held no share. Joe did not pour out vials of wrath upon the heads of those who thus ignored his importance, but silently determined upon perform- ing a great deed. He resolved to strike a blow that would compel instant recognition. The following Sunday, the Church was filled with a listening congregation, when at a critical part

of a difficult accompaniment, the organ suddenly became silent for lack of breath.

"* Blow ! Blow !" loudly whispered the enraged organist. Joe swelled with pride and importance. '* Is it we then ?" he questioned with stinging brevity. The organist was quick-witted, and instantly replied :- ** Yes ! Yes, Joe! It is we. Blow, lad, blow."

(2). When Chartism had many adherents in Honley, one well-known follower of the cause was rather fond of obtaining necessaries without paying for them. Having relatives in Uvver Country." (Lancashire), he generally reminded them of his relationship a few weeks previous to the Feast. For this purpose he would come to the Post Office, obtain a stamp for his letter, and after gaily informing my father that * Everything i'th world belonged to everybody, and that he meant to have his share," would depart without payment. This went on for many years until at last my father demanded payment, which of course was not forthcoming.

** Thou sees Joah lad, everything i'th world does not belong

to everybody yet '" was the dismissal of my father in his well- known tones of dry humour.

(3). Another inmate of the Workhouse, an innocent, harm- less man who " cowled " the roads, was asked his age by my father to settle a disputed point. " Charlie," as he was familiar

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named by all, pondered long before dubiously supplying the information until a bright idea struck him :

'* But I should ha been owder if I had'nt been poorly " he added in joyful apology.

(4). One of Honley's most respected gentlemen had an old servant whose lapses of duty became too frequent. The former decided to pension the old retainer, and fill his place with a more steady man. The old servant however remained stoically indifferent to the master's dismissal. When brought to task, he exclaimed with pitying contempt :-

'* Why, Maister, if yo don't know you've a good sarvant, I

know I've a good Maister ; and I'm not going to be turned off."

(5). Another well-known resident had a gardener, who was noted for his strong resistive power against being disturbed in his occupation. A young mistress of more modern ideas ventured upon suggesting changes in garden architecture. The old gardener quickly informed her that he should go on '* bedding out as he had always bedded out." When she asserted herself and made him understand that she was not thus to be trifled with, he told her with laconic surliness to go to that region which is supposed to be the place of punishment for the wicked after death. On condition that the old retainer begged pardon for this speech, all would be forgiven. Begging pardon was a terrible degradation to one who refused to bend the neck to " young upstarts.'" After much persuasion, he was induced to seek the presence of the youthful mistress. Suffering acutely from a sense of injury, he said with a snort of scorn :-

** I told yo yesterday to goa to (shall we say Hades ?). I shall noane beg pardon, but I've come to-day to tell you you've no need to goa."

(6). Mention has been made of the duties of the old-time Constable. One noted officer boasting the prefix of " Great," on account of his fine stature, when fetched in haste to part G

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angry combatants always cautiously asked how long they had been fighting. If the conflict had only just begun, he was wont to exclaim with a shrewd smile :-*" Leave em alone a bit- leave em alone. They'll be better for me to part when I come."

(7). As we have seen, the change from the domestic mode of manufacturing to its concentration in Mills brought tragedy in its train to many clothiers in Honley. One, who was not a man to be trifled with had a family that during the distress of the " hungry forties" was out of work with the exception of one son. The latter, with the arrogance of youth, boasted that he was °" the main prop o'th house." The father, brooking no interference either active or passive from his household smiled in grim scorn.

'* Main prop o'th house art thou ? Then th' prop shall fall," he exclaimed, knocking down the youth with one blow. Thou sees th' house is still standing " he added, when the boaster was thus humbled.

(8). The wife of a rugged son of the village died. He was a man who always wondered " where th' nice lasses went to, and where th' ugly wives cam from." The usual funeral custom of relatives and friends taking last looks at the dead was duly observed by all present except the husband. When the undertaker reminded him of his forgetfulness, he exclaimed impatiently : " Shut her up! Shut her up! I've seen her before."

(9). A carter, who drove the horse and cart at a mill in Honley was sternly lectured by his master upon his drunken habits, and advised to practise resolution when passing public- houses which lay in his daily path. <The carter asking for an explanation of the word resolution promised to live up to its meaning in future. The following day he passed the public- houses with averted head. His only reply when questioned about such strange behaviour was invariably " resolution," until the hour arrived for ceasing work. Then in boastful pride at his victory, he shouted to the horse :-

'* Well done resolution ! Maister can't say that I havnt

Page 125

gens ~-







(see page 99),

Page 127


had resolution to-day. Now lad, we'll turn back, and make resolution pay his footing."

With alacrity, horse and man returned to the usual stopping- places, and the champion of resolution went home in a more fuddled condition than usual.

(10). A hand-loom weaver, who did not live one hundred miles from Moorbottom, had the greatest disinclination to leave the domestic hearth. When his wife was cleaning down for Honley Feast, his presence proved a continual hindrance to such operations. - With womanly stratagems she endeavoured to wheedle him forth on various pretences, but he refused to be enticed away even from the scene of disorder. Strife and contention ensued, when the household sultan threatened a dire revenge.

'* Aye I will go out! I will run away, and when I once start, I shall goa to Meltham before I stop," he said with valiant determination. (Meltham was about two miles distant from his home).

(11). Another resident in the neighbourhood lived at a long distance from the mill in which he was employed. He was asked one stormy winter's morning why he did not remove nearer to his work, at which he had been engaged thirty years. His reply was characteristic of the old type of dweller who generally worked for one master a life-time, and was not eager for changes. After due thought he said :-

* I've nobbut worked here thirty years, and I want to see if its' a regular job before I flit." - (Remove).

Old Honley sayings are so numerous that they would fill a large-sized book, but these given must suffice in this history.

Various or Horxnury.

The woollen industry in its different branches did not altogether monopolise the energies of Honley people who had to be supplied with the necessaries of life. In addition to Woollen Mills we had coal-pits, farmsteads, corn-mills, tan- pits, brewery, etc. The trades of tailor and shoemaker

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requiring long apprenticeships were important callings before the days of ready-made clothing and foot-wear. The trades of butcher, grocer, candle-maker, etc., were even of greater consequence. I can recall the day when the thresher with his flail, thatcher carrying his stack-brods, mole catcher, mower with scythe on shoulder, wood-cutter, pinder, bell-man, whisk and besom-maker, pig-ringer, furmitty hawker, yeast hawker, cow-jobber, leech woman, oat-bread baker, etc., were familiar figures in our midst. In addition, we were accustomed to the sight of evenly balanced panniers and milk-cans strapped upon donkey's backs. The panniers contained wares of varying character vended not by ordinary hawkers, but local citizens of repute and respectability, whose goods were above reproach, and whose advent was duly welcomed. The contents of these panniers ranged from coal to fish to " idle- back " and yellow-stone. The two latter commodities were in great request by Honley housewives when hearthstones were made white, and doorsteps yellow. There existed a sacred tradition that all these various trades " ran in families," and that no other person could perform the duties so well as the members of that particular household, and that their abilities were beyond question. The Walker and Eastwood families were butchers, Swifts, tailors, Wood and Brook families, shoe- makers, Lees, size-makers, Smith, cloggers, Woods, tanners, Frances, grocers, Walkers, dry-wallers, Kayes, masons, Booth- royd and Firths, blacksmiths, Midwood and Kayes, tallow- - chandlers, etc.

When doctors pinned their faith upon blood-letting for relief of all human ills, leech-women were represented in the persons of Mrs. Dinah Bates, Deanhouse, Mrs. Phyllis Downing, Honley, and later Mrs. Sarah Oldfield, or Sally Oldfield as she was familiarly named. A cheerful bustling dame was Mrs. Oldfield, ready to answer every call of sick emergency, and learned in knowledge of all bodily ailments. With what dread we watched her fearlessly handle the snake-like horrors known as leeches that were destined to perform such blood-thirsty deeds upon our trembling bodies, whilst she tried to disarm our

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fears by humourous jests or soothing words ! Before the advent of washing-machines or the building of laundries, the mangle played an important part both as a source of income, and in domestic management. These large unwieldy mangles were prominent objects in many cottage-homes of Honley to which the good housewife, after a hard day's work at the wash-tub, repaired with her basket of clothes for the purpose of the garments being smoothed out. Many of us older people may yet recall the misery of the mangling evening, when in place of play-time was the irksome task of turning the mangle-wheel. If a few of the old-time housewives of Honley could return, visit the laundry stocked with the most modern machinery and employing upwards of 60 workpeople, their angry out- bursts ard stinging remarks against their own sex who had dared to erase the washing-day from the woman's calendar, would be worthy of record. No doubt these old dames, who pinned their faith in wash-tiibs, mangles, and March drought, would consider a machine that washes, boils, blues, and starches altogether with only the aid of a few playful turnings of a wheel, as responsible for present feminine unrest ; and a drying- room that is independent of wet-days, as a place to be eschewed.

There were many other trades also in Honley which are now extinct on account of changing conditions. If a few remain of these old-time occupations, they are but shrunken remnants of once distinctive industries. There are, however, families in the place who have retained the trades chosen by their forefathers who considered their calling not only a noble occupation, but a duty which they had come into the world to perform. In addition to families holding premier positions in the woollen industry for many generations, we had also the trades of doctors, grocers, joiners, blacksmiths, postmasters, etc., in which son followed father generation after generation. It would have been interesting reading if families of the oldest tradesmen still carrying on business in Honley had preserved records of their forefather's primitive mode of conducting business, when almost all food and wares were of home manu- facture, the staple food oat-meal porridge, clogs the foot-wear, and a suit of clothes had to last a life-time.

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The Dyson family have followed the profession of medicine from grandfather to grandson, notably the late Mr. John Dyson, the late Mr. Alexander Dyson, and at present Mr. J. R. H. Dyson, Physican and Surgeon. The Dysons are an old Honley family descended from good yeoman stock of high local standing. Ministering so long to the bodily ailments of the village, they understood the characteristics of their patients, as the latter also comprehended the plain speaking of their doctor. A family of rugged honesty, it was always a well-known fact, that the grandfather and father of the present Mr. Dyson never gave encouragement to pretended ailments of their patients, even to the detriment of their pockets. Their strong protests against dupery or quackery in any form were noted, and their pithy sayings are often quoted. The Drake family have followed the profession of grocery and provision merchants since 1829, being well-known tradesmen of high local repute. Descended also from good yeoman families, the present generation maintain the high personal character of their forbears, whilst keeping abreast in the march of business progress. The Holdroyd family have sustained an unbroken record of over 100 years in the trade of joiners of high local standing. Their forefathers were noted for making good articles of household furniture which were handed down as heirlooms. Honley's old-time manufacturers made cloth with the intention of never wearing out, so the furniture constructed by the Holdroyds of a past day was put together on the same principle. The present members of the family have upheld the reputation for high-class workmanship as of old, whilst also keeping abreast with modern requirements and rapid changes. Son has followed father as blacksmiths in the family of Booth- royds for over 200 years, when a. younger representative recently disposed of the business. A race of silent contem- plative men, minding their own business, and not meddling in the affairs of neighbours, the Boothroyds in their mode of business were typical of the old-time Honley tradesmen. - Each member as they came into the world receiving a Biblical name, they held to the soil like an old tree unheeding the great changes going on around them, their only ambition being to live an honest

Page 131

DR. Jon Dyson. (see page 102),

DR, ALeExanNpER Dyson, (see page 102),

Page 133



life, and perform good work free from trickishness or fraud. The Firths also had an unbroken record in the trade of black- smiths for over 100 years, but the once familiar blacksmith's shop with its flying sparks from the fire has now changed hands, and their place knows them no more. Of robust and almost

giant-like proportions, they were a race of honest craftsmen

who were in no hurry to be rich, often forgetting to send out their bills until a dozen years or so had elapsed. It was a difficult business to pay the Firths what was justly owing to them, and often had to be accomplished by main force. They too were not inclined for much speaking, preferring to grasp the hammer and perform honest and lasting workmanship.


The office of Postmaster has been held by the male side of my family for four generations, dating from 1780 to 1887, during which time I have records of the wonderful advances made from the days when there was on an average five or six letters per week for the people scattered over the whole area between Halifax and Holmfirth. The present generation will accept this fact with a smile of disbelief. So would our fore- fathers think that we now live in a world of miracles and magic if they could return. The coaches did not begin to carry mails until 1784 ; and they were confined to limited distances. Previous to that date, the few letters were carried on horseback by messengers or post boys as they were named. My great grandfather, James Tilburn, had no inclination to follow the family trade of clothier, preferring a free out-door life. This breaking away from family traditions gave offence to his own parent and a father-in-law, who was considered a " warm " man, or one with " plenty of wool upon his back," owning freeholds, and three square pews in Honley Church adorned with his name as owner. These he occupied in turn, not to keep people out, but only for the purpose of keeping them warm. My great grandfather, James Tilburn, ignoring stormy threats from a disappointed father-in-law, who had no son of his own, and unheeding the shedding of a whole lake of tears from

Page 134


a young wife who dreaded the dangers of the highways, under- took the post of messenger. His duties lay between Halifax and Holmfirth, riding upon the grey galloway, whose dam when a foal had been left behind by moss-troopers. According to family traditions, " Laddie," as he was named, was rather a noted animal, sure-footed, full of courage, wonderful stamina ; and could always be relied upon to land his rider punctually or near the expected time,-so punctual, that at the passing of horse and rider, people set their clocks to the correct time even in days of snow-drifts and floods. James Tilburn was a man of spare but sinewy frame, rosy handsome face, and merry twinkle of eye. Clad in close fitting drab kersey garments befitting a good horseman, the material for which was supplied yearly from Penistone district as a present, one of these gar- ments in the shape of a huge overcoat, with brass buttons, was still in use in the family in my early days, and was always named " The drab laddie." Thereby hangs a tale. A chaise in which a Scottish gentleman, not highly favoured by nature, was travelling to Fenay Hall, Almondbury, then occupied by the Fenay family, to sue for the hand of one of the young ladies who was not only wealthy but also a noted beauty. His chaise became stuck fast in snow-drifts at the top of " The Ainleys," which at that time was an exposed and dangerous road. Seeing my great grandfather approaching on his way from Halifax, enveloped in his drab overcoat with the pouch containing the few mails of His Majesty's King George III. strapped upon his back, the gentleman mistook his slight form for that of a boy, and also the nature of his sturdy in- dependent spirit.

* Ah! Here comes a drab laddie riding a good horse," exclaimed the gentleman with relief, as my great grandfather drew rein, not only to ease his blown steed, but to see if help was required.

The gentleman disclosed his destination, expressed impatience to reach Fenay Hall in time for the Christmas festivities, and intimated that it was the duty of the " drab laddie " to descend from the saddle and lend him his horse for that purpose, offering

Page 135


a small sum-a very small sum of money. My great grand- father smiled in pitying scorn at the want of discernment in a man who mistook the carrier of His Majesty's mails for a *laddie " who could thus be tempted to forget his duties, even when eyes were blinded with love. His pride was hurt also that so little value was placed upon the services of his good horse. In addition, he had been given hints of the expected arrival of a persevering ugly lover who was not wanted by the Fenay family. My great grandfather sat bolt upright in his saddle, and with that directness of speech which a true bred son of the soul will address either peer or peasant, he said :

** My horse is not a drab, but a grey laddie. And so you are coming seeking a wife are you ? Not for th' brass, of course not, but seemingly you have scented where it is," he added in biting sarcasm. °" Well, all I can say is-you are better to follow than meet" eyeing the gentleman's countenance with disfavour. " And tell Miss Fenay from me, that she'd better have a known nowt (good-for-nothing) than an unknown one, and that such sweethearts as you are far fetched and dear bought even if hung around with diamonds," riding off with a back- ward glance of anger at the impertinence and meanness of the Scotchman.

He had not proceeded far before being again stopped by a couple of wayfarers inclined to be aggressive. He was, how- ever, generally ready for emergencies.

"*The Scotch gander has sent his feathers flying after me, has he ?" unbuckling his stout leather pouch and swinging it around with such dangerous rapidity, that the two men were still rolling in the snow, when horse and rider were at a safe

distance. Afterwards James Tilburn always named the over- coat his " Drab Laddie."

Being the only bringer of news from an outside world, it is recorded that there was no person or sound so eagerly awaited and listened for as the drab-clad figure on horseback, and the blast of his horn which he blew when nearing each village. People rushed down hill-sides or streamed from yards and

Page 136


folds as if by magic at the musical blast of his horn, greeting his arrival in eager hope. Often one missive comprised the extent of Honley's correspondence with an outside world, for the price of a letter was beyond the means of poor people. The verbal communications of James Tilburn, however, were many and varied. He whispered messages to pretty maidens, imparted more sober information to older women, and brought news of grave or gay import for the benefit of all around. Then with merry quip and jest he would ride away to the next village, where his advent was awaited in joyous expectation.

Mention is made of the important position held by George Armitage Esq., J.P., High Royd, during this century in the Armitage family records. There existed close friendship between my great grandfather and " Justice'" Armitage, until the latter in his capacity of Magistrate punished a relative more severely than was his usual custom with a Honley native. This did not meet with the approval of James Tilburn, who intended to know the reason for such harshness being meted out to his relative when next the " Justice " and himself came across each other. They met upon a narrow elevated cause- way which flanked one side of the road known as Northgate Lane. The road at that time left to nature's repairs was generally knee-deep in mud, whilst the causeway only allowed of one foot-passenger at a time. There was often much play of wit between them when they met. The " Justice," innocent of a grievance told James Tilburn with a merry jest to make way for His Majesty's august representative of the Law.

* If you carry His Majesty's Justice in your pocket, I carry His Majesty's Mails upon my back, so make way for my august person," replied James Tilburn, knocking the dignified Mr. Armitage from the causeway into the mud, and proceeding on his journey satisfied that he had expressed his anger in a manner to be understood.

When the outraged feelings of each had gradually been smoothed and softened, it is recorded that they were no worse friends in after years.

Page 137




James Tilburn was the first person to officially bring the news of the battle of Waterloo to places between Halifax and Holmfirth. He had ridden into the town with the mails, when the news of the famous battle which took place on June 18th, 1815, was brought in post haste on horseback. That was of course the quickest mode of transit at that time. His hat and horse were decorated with ribbons by a rejoicing crowd, and with the authority of the Constable in his hand, he was also sent back post haste to convey the news all along the route to Holmfirth. If no telegraphs in those days, the news reached Honley and Holmfirth before his arrival due to delays of eager questionings and joyful greetings on the road. The crowds however at Holmfirth and Honley awaited his coming with the proper official information. Though his horse was so jaded that it was said only a good horseman could have kept him on his legs, he refused to dismount at Honley, and rode on to Holmfirth. Here the good steed (not the grey galloway, but a horse of equal stamina) had a pint of old port wine poured down his throat, and his rider carried shoulder height. In memory of that great day (for indeed the battle, and Wellington's celebrated sentence were landmarks in people's lives and memories) the Postmaster General made a gift of a new horn to my great grandfather. It was a short copper horn with one twist, and mounted in brass. Figures of a coach, a coach-horse, and a greyhound coursing were embossed on the brass. Inside the horn was engraved " Waterloo Gift." With typical male indifference to household gods, this horn was allowed to be taken away by the female branch of the family, and am afraid is now lost.

James Tilburn died Sept. Ist, 1846, at the age of 88 years. His son-in-law, Mr. James Hawkyard, assisted him in his duties at Lockwood, beginning in 1803, and after his death was appointed Postmaster of that place when increasing correspond- ence warranted a Post Office. Nince that time, the Post Office at Lockwood has remained in the family of Hawkyards, the third generation being represented in the person of the present Postmistress, Miss Hawkyard. A relative named Mrs. Mur-

Page 138






gatroyd was also Postmistress of Huddersfield, and delivered all letters received from my great grandfather when passing through. My grandfather, William Tilburn, born in 1783, followed his father in the postal duties at Honley, modern progress also allowing a Stationary Post Office at Honley. My father, born 1805, followed his father as Postmaster, and was appointed in 1849 on account of my grandfather's illness. Owing to advancing age and failing health, and at the earnest wish of my father, I took up the duties until his death, when I resigned them in 1887. My grandfather and father were also men of noted local character who earned well-deserved respect from all, and whose typical sayings would fill a book.

It is interesting to know the amount of wages received by James Tilburn, whose " family influence " in the Post Office was such that his son could be appointed Postmaster at Honley, his son-in-law at Lockwood, and female cousin at Huddersfield. I note in a letter dated January 4th 1811, that he was con- gratulated upon his good fortune of having his wages raised from 10/- to 14/- per week. In 1843, shortly before his death, he had a salary of £10 per year, and a $d. for delivering each letter. Probably there were other sources of Office in- come not recorded in Honley accounts.

It would take up too much space in this history to give in detail the price of a letter to and from each town in days when the penny post was undreamed about. The price was beyond poor people's pockets unless an absolute necessity. Means however were always found to defraud the Post Office by a kind of arranged code of signals, such as sending an empty envelope which would be refused. This mode of communication was often greatly abused by people able to pay. A family at Brockholes, who practised this custom of saving postage, at last raised the ire of my great grandfather who, if loyal to his neighbours, was also a loyal servant to the Crown. His comments upon such conduct were more forcible than polite, but the custom did not cease. He adopted another method. When carrying the empty envelope, he always shouted out for the benefit of the people who came to their doorways at

Page 139







the sound of his horn ; " Another unpaid letter. However will our soldiers and sailors get clothed and fed, I wonder ?"" This had the desired effect. In 1822, letters to or from London had been reduced to one shilling each, and from Birmingham to London to 9d. each. The particulars regarding each letter, where it had come from, its destination, full address, and price of postage, were duly entered in a book. From these entries, a knowledge of the social standing of the people in the neigh- bourhood at the beginning of last century can be formed. The few newspapers published at that time were all conveyed by post, notably "The York Mercury" previously named. The invention of printing, ard later, the new-found freedom of the press were great forces in diffusing krowledge ; so that newspapers rapidly increased. In 1836, Fergus O'Conner, who at that time was publishing the fiery luminary known as " The Northern Star," sent bundles once per week to agents through the Post Office. The circulation of "The Northern Star" in Honley was extensive when the extreme distress prevailing at this date is caken into account. When railways became general, the bundles of newspapers were then sent by trains. Money Orders were introduced into the Post Office in 1838. At first this process of sending or receiving money was little understood by the bulk of the population, and its business was of a primitive order. When the scheme for one universal rate of penny postage was introduced in 1837 by Mr. Rowland Hill, he was looked upon as a fit inmate for Bedlam ; and his project was strongly opposed in Parliament. When penny postage was adopted in 1840, my great grandfather was aged 82 and still active. According to entries in his books, he con- sidered that Doomsday had arrived, and that it would be impossible for his son to live upon such cheapness. This introduction of penny postage was only accomplished with the greatest difficulty. Obstacles of a varied character, which had been raised against such a mad scheme, had to be sur- mounted ; but in 1849, the system was in good working order. At first there was also much trouble about stamps, franking being previously in use. The first adhesive stamp was in- vented by a printer named Chalmers, who lived in Dundee.

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1853 1865


This was a black stamp, and it was defaced by a red mark. At this time, the knowledge of chemistry was also developing by leaps and bounds. It was soon discovered by chemistry experts, that the obliterating mark of red upon the black stamp could be washed out, and the stamp again used. After many trials, the brick red stamp, so familiar to us older people, was adopted in 1841, and remained in use a long time. Though penny postage had been introduced, there was a small charge made upon each letter ; and it was not until August 12th, 1855, that there were free deliveries of letters in this neighbourhood. The Savings' Bank, with chances of investing in Government Stock came into use in 1861. Next followed the purchase of Public Telegraphs by Government, and their introduction into the Post Office. Telegrams were 1/- each, delivered free within a mile of the receiving Post Office, but beyond that distance charged 6d. per mile for porterage. Post Cards were introduced in 1870. This innovation was looked upon with detestation by old-fashioned people who believed in their correspondence being kept secret from prying eyes. Parcel post followed, commencing on August 1st, 1883. This change caused great discontent, on account of Postmasters and Letter-carriers finding themselves over- weighted with heavy parcels-hampers and larger bags not being readily supplied to country districts at first. On October lst, 1885, 6d. Telegrams came into operation. Since the latter date, the Post Office has undertaken many additional public duties which are too numerous to give in detail.

I have copied a few averages of letters received at various times according to entries in old Post Office books in my possession. Previous to 1800, there appear to be only five or six per week received by people scattered over a wider area than the bounds of Honley Township ; for instance-residents at Dudmanstone, Crosland Hall, Fenay Hall, ete. being named. In 1826, letters received at Honley averaged seven per day, and did not greatly increase during the next ten years. In 1853, about 90 were received and despatched each day. In 1865, the average number was about 150 each day,

Page 141

CHURCH STREET, HonLey. see page 112).

OLD COTTAGE At BANKS. (see page 112).

Page 143


when no further entries are recorded. On account of the blessings of cheap postage, letters increased fast in numbers, and the custom of writing down the particulars of each letter no doubt lapse at this time.

Many more interesting items could be given in connection with the early history of the Post Office. Oral traditions also are numerous relating to noted local people who were of necessity brought into contact with public servants of long standing, but we must pass on.

HomEstEaips anp Hous®s.

Since the days of Richard de Waley, successive Lords of the Manor of Honley have been non-resident, so that as we have seen, we cannot boast of any Mansion or historical Hall, the annals of which are bound up with the history of the country. The present appearance of High Royd House, though belonging to one of the oldest families in the place, does not indicate any distinct period of architecture. It has been so altered during successive generations that I believe only the cellars remain of the original structure. There are, however, dwellings yet standing in a good state of preservation which are characteristics of our neighbourhood, and typical of the sturdy race of men who once occupied them who built up their own history. Erected of stone, taken from the nearest wood or field, they are more solid than pretentious. Our forefathers built their dwellings not for show or shelters for art treasures, but for use in the domestic mode of manufacturing. In addition, there arose the necessity of resistance against the storms of wind and rain which beat down upon them, hence their substantial character. The Chief art treasures valued by our forefathers would be those of the type of warming-pans, tally-irons, pestles, etc. Hams, or rounds of cured beef suspended from household beams would be considered of even greater worth. The houses in the village are grouped together either for warmth or com- pany. Their owners, who in those days were in blissful ignorance of interfering District Councils, placed them in strange nooks and corners according to their fancy. The love of independence and personal freedom, so distinguishing a

Page 144

1603 1616



trait of Honley dwellers, prompted them thus to build their homes. Other houses at scattered distances are larger. Over many of the doorways of these latter, owners built into the wall their family shields in the shape of square stones, upon which is proclaimed ownership and date of erection. A few outbuildings once in use for cloth-making, or shelter for horse or cow snuggle close to the house. There is generally a small orchard behind, a plot of greensward in front, a few sheltering trees bent back by long wrestling with the West wind, and the whole surrounded with a massive wall ; the owners being rather jealous of their little freeholds. The folds and yards, named after those who once occupied them, or the trade which they followed, record the time when the little enclosure was a community to itself,-master and man living and dying on the spot.

Such are the old homes still left in Honley, speaking in silence of the race who once dwelt under their roofs ;-men of culture and worth, and men as uncultivated and rough as the wild moorlands around their homes.

The ancient dwellings in a place are generally to be found near the Church if the latter dates back to old days. Though many of the oldest houses in Honley dated and undated are . situated in S. Mary's Square and Church Street, these houses are not the oldest dwellings according to dates. The oldest date upon a house is at Hall Ing, formerly owned by the Armitage family. (See their family history). Over the lintel is 1603. R. A. lately renovated had carved over the doorway 1616. Previous reference will be found relating to the building once standing in Church Street on the site occupied by present modern

shops. A stone built into the back portion of these shops is J. A.

carved 1680 Below the figures is beautiful scroll work. If the building had been occupied by Richard Waley during the earlier part of the 13th century, the house would be the victim

of varying circumstances after the confiscation of this property.

T' wo old cottages at Banks Mill (now Hope Bank),

Page 145

a *% fa ® 4 eus ('M (s; % .‘A‘.- ‘h 1 + Aad ( ¥ * ts & few» - s J 3 m..---— ' “r—“l. hy “I pe peee ~ 2

we !

Old House /n Sc Mayq £

S un‘ r @

ye NC beara. hal _UJ--E 80 # "LA Alp ' py 4


C - fl ~* has... .d i- .% «--*

g > R [-l ~» 6L ' C. Urn" ** pre “WAF'JJ

{S‘ ’ S‘hfi fil HWI

. "_ “tug-«hf

agg ~> ~~ *** aind Ling «tin <,, w wouge: wur 358 ®

(see page 112).

Page 147

GYNN FARM. (see page 113).

ELIZABETHAN COTTAGE, (see page 114).

Page 149










No doubt alterations, additions, or even re-building might have been made in 1680 by Charles Nettleton who resided in the house at that date. When the ancient building was destroyed for the erection of the present shops, a thoughtful builder or owner preserved one stone for future generations, by building it into the wall of the modern shops. In St. Mary's Square, the initials carved upon the stone door-head S. are I. & N. This house and those adjoining of similar archi- 1685. tecture were at one time a single residence of importance, and occupied by the Crosleys, (see their family history). Many of the oldest traditions in Honley cling around the building and its enclosure. The next house in order of date is at Gynn. Under the pent-house window, still in a good state of pre-

servation is H. A. This house was formerly built and owned

1690. by the Armitage family. A later date of


of ownership to the family of Haighs. To return back to Honley. The row of fine old dwellings on the right hand side of Church Street, leading to the Church, has carved over the H. doorway of one house I. & F. The residence now owned and 1692. occupied by Mr. Thomas Smailes, M.D., formerly the residence E. of Mr. Thomas Leigh has carved upon the wall J. & M. In a 1741. fold at Oldfield, consisting of all old buildings, over the doorway C. of one is carved I. & 8. Next in date is one in Exchange, 1742. B. built by the forefathers of the present Brooke family W. & S. 1751. Upon an old homestead at Reins, now owned by William J. A. 1754.

records change

Brooke, Esq., Northgate Mount is The present dwellings


Page 150


1773 1791




on the left hand side of Church Street facing the Church are very ancient, though an older building was once in existence upon the site. It has now been divided and sub-divided, that only the stone still left in the wall testifies to its once old-time importance. Circled with fine scroll work of the mason order is i] 7 53 Upon the gable end of a building at Oldfield, is to be


seen R. & A. At Lower Thirstin, not far from the scene of

1773. F. the bull-baitings is engraved upon a house C. & M. At Town- ' 1791. - head the initials of the builder are erased, but the date 1799 is clear. At Field End, a typical Clothier's home is in a good state of preservation, whose original dwellers I can distinctly L. recall. Over the doorway is J. & A. A.D. 1799. There are also numerous isolated houses scattered around Honley and its hamlets, the architecture and building being of the Tudor period. The owners did not adopt the excellent plan of placing over the doorways their names and dates of building. Many of these have been so altered or suffered from careless tenants, that little of their original appearance remain. There are specimens of old Elizabethean homesteads still left at Brockholes, Hall Ing, Oldfield, etc., which observing eyes can easily recognise even if they have undergone hard usage.


Dwelling in these old houses were a race of men as varying in character as in position. There are few parish records that do not bear testimony to their good qualities. They lingered long on our hill-sides, standing upon their pinnacle of yeoman's pride, but were gradually exterminated by new forces. I cannot give each of these gentlemen workers of a past day individual mention, so must sum up their fine characters as a whole. Clad in their own " blue plain " or " black doeskin "

Page 151

: #3": £153]

[age! H+


anns XE ther

QLD HomEstTtEaAD AT FAR END. TYPICAL ONE DECKER COTTAGE-shortly to be demolished.

(see page 114).

(sge page 114),

Page 153


on Sundays, and "drab kersey " on week-days, they were grand figures either on foot or horseback. There was not only a sense of rugged strength typical of the moorlands over- shadowing their homes, but also an air of old-world dignity about their persons. Dwelling amongst their own people, they acted almost as parents concerning the religious and moral welfare of their dependants. They were frugal in food, simple in domestic arrangements, and saving in habits. Toiling night and day almost in their isolated homes, or in their folds and yards ; their mode of life was in striking con- trast to present-day luxury. If, perhaps, their great aim in life seemed the gaining of money, they were honest, God- fearing, home-loving men. They were too serious to play at religion, and all their dearest associations clung around their own hill-sides. Left to their own resources in obscure village and hamlet, they have raised the structure of England's commercial prosperity by their morality, industry and intelligence.

The memory also of the mothers, wives and daughters of these yeomen of a past day must be recalled. With a man's grasp, combined with a woman's daintiness, they shared in men's toil, and in addition, walked the harder road, and carried the heavier burden of womanhood ; for perhaps unconsciously men exacted hard service from their womenkind in those days. The mistress of a household, who possessed more tangible advantages than her neighbour, would probably keep one servant, whose diligence was praised, or idleness gently re- proved. Side by side with her excellent handmaiden she performed the thousand and one duties which fell to her lot, all household necessities being then produced in the home. In addition to rearing a family of children, she baked, brewed, churned, washed clothes, spun household linen, and made garments. At this period, women were skilled in preserving fruit, curing bacon, making cowslip, elderberry and other home-manufactured wines. Yet industry did not coarsen their persons, nor prudence narrow their minds. Kindly of heart, and generous of hand to their poorer neighbours, they

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were women of earnest religious faith, gracious personality, and ruled over homes of peaceful order. The designs of such fabrics for feminine wear as calimancoes, camblets, grograms, tammies, bombazines, etc., would no doubt engage their attention, as present fashions interest modern women's thoughts. Richly but plainly dressed, their best gowns for outside wear were composed of Norwich crape or silk, perhaps brought back by the good yeoman on horseback from a distant town when forced to travel there for purposes of trade. With placid beauty of mind and body, and faces of gentle repose, these women were features in homes of past days which were made sweeter and purer by their presence.

The wives of clothiers in a more modest way of business possessed also the same strength of heart and hand. In addition to their household duties and family cares, they spun or wound bobbins for their husband's cloth-trade, often rocking the cradle with one hand, and turning the spinning-wheel with the other. The attire of one old master clothier in Honley was always made by his wife's industrious fingers. Another clothier of sterling character, and who eventually became a wealthy man, was taught to read in his earlier married life by the unwearied efforts of his wife.

The lives of these noble and self-sacrificing women of a past day, whose only path in life was love or duty, are unhonoured, and their praises unsung ; but they shall have their place in Honley history. Here and there they look down upon us from the walls of Honley homes with long ringlets hanging around faces of tranquil sweetness, or surmounted by caps covering neatly folded hair ; and their memory comes down to us like the fragrance of a May morning.


Sundials, telling people to go to bed at sunset and rise with the dawn, were fit emblems to place in old-world gardens, with their scents and flowers. There are not many sundials left of an old date in Honley though formerly common in the place. There is one, however, remaining upon the wall of an

Page 155

sUuN DIAL, THIRSTIN. (see page 116).

A CORNER oF "YE OLD WHEAT SHEAFE." (see page 117).

Page 157




old homestead in Thirstin occupied by Miss Donkersley, a descendant of a once well-known Wesleyan family. Upon the sundial is carved the name of John Sanderson, A.D. 1791, and the Roman numericals are in a good state of preservation. A sundial upon the roof of an old house in Exchange is more interesting. It bears date 1681 with the initials A.H. The inscription " U Hora Sic Vita" (as the hour, so life flies) is now nearly effaced, though the numericals are clear. - Evidently this sundial would be discarded when the re-building of the Church took place, and was preserved by some person and placed in its present lofty position, the height of which has probably saved it from destruction. (See Church history).


The swinging signboards outside our old Inns were once familiar pictures in our streets, and thought to be the finest works of art in the village. The signboard of " Ye Wheat Sheaf Inn," pictured a husbandman binding together sheaves of corn upon a stretching upland. We always considered the painter a genius who could thus produce such a wealth of suggestive beauty in that harvest scene. There was the exact representation of Jacob's Well painted over the Inn whose more modern well was supposed never to run dry. This Scriptural picture was not only valued for its beauty, but also for its help in diffusing Biblical knowledge in youthful minds. The symbolical sign of °" Ye George and Dragon " aroused patriotic feelings. Perhaps also it might have been the innocent means of nourishing the fighting instincts in Honley youths of a past day, so that they generally proved the victor in personal or other encounters. These once picturesque signboards, swinging upon their hinges overhead, are now no longer seen in our midst, any more than the old-time landlord or landlady who awaited the advent of the mail coach or stage- wagon. These latter brewed their own beer in those days. Their bar and best parlour were privileged places where National and important events were nightly discussed, and their friendship was esteemed a great honour.

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(Superstitions.-Honley Feast.-Christmas.-St. Valentines' Day.- April Fool's Day.-Mischief Night.-Collop Monday.-Shrove Tues- day.-Palm Sunday.-Good Friday.-Easter Monday.-May Day.-

Guy Fawkes' Day.-Riding the Stang.-Customs observed at birth, marriage, death and burial).



The dwellers in Honley, even to the middle of last century, drank in superstition with their mother's milk, and many of us yet living once accepted for truth the old legends and super- stitions heard in the chimney corners of our homes during long winter evenings or in summer twilights. Often the moral and intellectual training of our youth was re-inforced by stories of the pair of flitting spirits known as " Peggy o'th Lanthorn," and °" Will o'th Wisp," and other supernatural terrors. There are a few people still left who are well versed in the ancient lore of our native hill-sides. They have heard much about superstitions concerning birth, death, children, lucky or un- lucky days, and numbers. In old oral traditions, feathered and other animals, as well as insects, played important parts either as safe weather-glasses, or as signs and omens of coming good or ill. The heavenly bodies were of great consequence, and supposed to have much bearing upon good or bad luck. Ailments had to be cured by strange charms and incantations, whilst the prognostics about every part of the human hody were very numerous. In my childish days, fairies, witches and boggarts were believed to haunt every hedge-bottom and field-corner at the approach of gloaming, a few of our old bridle-gates still retaining their names as " boggart lanes," as being more particularly the favourite resorts of these wander- ing spirits. I suppose that the faith in fairies and boggarts

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is dispelled in present-day youthful minds, but older people will recall their early beliefs in the mysteries which flitted

around wood and stream after dark.

Before the days of trained nurses, there were many women in Honley who took upon themselves these duties without payment. The Victoria Cross has often been conferred for deeds which bear no comparison to the unrecorded self- sacrifices of these women amongst the humble tragedies of life. They were ready for a night's vigil by the side of the sick or dying, helping to bring children into the world, or performing the last requirements of the dead. I knew one old dame who was in great request for these offices of non- payment. She firmly believed in all death signs, especially the " foot-pad " with whom she seemed to be on the most friendly and resigned terms. When on her way to a sick-bed if the " foot-pad wi e'en as big as tea-plates " appeared either padding after her, or running before her ; she concluded that doctors and prayers were of no avail. Memory can bring back to life other old dames-relatives and otherwise-who sat in their rocking-chairs around household hearths pre- dicting misfortune or death all the year round. Sending forth volumes of smoke from long clay-pipes with enjoyable puffs, they would indulge in graphic descriptions and sighing ejaculations regarding death-bed signs and other mysteries ; which proved rather too stimulating for childish imaginations. If the return home from some isolated dwelling had to be taken in the dark, bush, tree or animal were wont to assume strange forms. We glanced with fear at the dark wood we passed, whilst each sound of nature gave brisk shocks of terror ; conjectures soon becoming realities to heated imaginations.

At the present day, superstition of any kind is looked upon as an ill weed which is best exterminated. Yet if we pretend" to despise these ancient superstitions in which former generations were cradled, the belief in signs, omens, forewarn- ings, etc., is not only strong in one class of people, but often the rich and better educated pin their faith in them. The horse-shoe is still to be found nailed to the stable-door as a

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protection for the cattle against witchcraft, and we pick it up from muddy roads in delighted glee as a lucky find. We none of us like to hear the prolonged howling of a dog, strange raps, or the death-tick in the silence of night. If a cinder flies out of the fire, we are in haste to see if it is shaped like a purse or coffin ; and I know people upon whom the first sight of the new moon through glass or otherwise exerts great influence for good or evil. Our visits to friends are supposed to be foretold beforehand by the appearance of " strangers " upon the bars of their fire-grates as they name the flakes of soot ; and they would not watch us out of sight at our departure. We yet consider it unlucky to turn away, without reward, the first person who crosses the threshold on Christmas Day morn- ing. A friend attributed the loss of her money to the fact, that a careless servant allowed a red-haired youth to " let in "

Christmas, in place of one possessing the desired black locks.

I cannot spare the space to detail all the familiar superstitions that were accepted for truth when I was a child, and which are still with us ; but will enumerate a few. It is unlucky if without money in your pocket when hearing the cuckoo,- to burn evergreens which have decorated the home at Christ- mas,-to disturb martin-nests in window-corners, -to see the moon through glass,-to shake hands across a table or person,- for thirteen to sit down at dinner; and not receive a coin back when selling cattle-" God's silver or luck penny," as it is named. The superstitions with regard to children are many and varied. If a child does not cry when baptised it will not thrive,-its nails must not be cut before a year old, else it will turn out a thief ; and it must not gaze into the looking-glass before a year old. A child's first visit to a house is of importance. It must of necessity receive an egg, a pinch of salt, a piece of bread, and a few matches to light it to heaven at the last. With regard to death, the howling of a dog, the crowing of a cock at midnight, hovering of birds or bird against a window, three raps heard from an invisible hand, falling of a picture, a loud report from an unknown source, etc., are all considered sure harbingers of death. It is

Page 161




thought that a person cannot die on a feather-pillow, and that three funerals follow each other. With the mention of these few every-day superstitions still common in Honley, the subject must now close though it would fill a volume, folk-lore being bound up with our lives from birth to death.

HoxnurEry FEAST.

Many of our old customs, like our superstitions, come down to us from Scandinavian and Norse myths, others are remnants of Catholic or religious festivals ; and a few are honoured in memory of National and other events. Formerly the most observed locally was Honley Feast. It will be gathered from the history of the Church, that in 1503, we had " A Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary founded and erected of old." The Feast was first honoured in memory of the dedication of a place of worship, but whether it was the Chapel of 1503, or one previously occupying the site, I am unable to say. The exact date of the origin of Honley Feast is lost in the mists of antiquity. One however can safely infer that its observance dated further back than the Reformation, the Feast always beginning upon the first Sunday following the 19th of Septem- ber. This date corresponds with the festival of the Virgin Mary in the Roman Calendar. Honley dwellers of a past day being proof against innovations did not alter the date of their religious feast at the Reformation, but held to the observance of the older Catholic festival. It will be seen in the history of Honley Church, that it had to suffice for the Spiritual needs of many neighbouring parishes. As time went on Churches were erected in these various places, but their dwellers still made the yearly pilgrimage to the Mother Church, and the custom has continued to this day. As years passed, the once religious festival gradually developed to one of popular merrymaking. During the time of the Commonwealth, these feasts were pro- hibited by Act of Parliament. Honley natives, however, clung tenaciously to the holding of their feast. Thus whether Honley Feast is considered a mere drunken festival by many, or a hearty joy by others ; it has been faithfully honoured generation after generation. In the past, perhaps the ways of

Page 162


celebrating the festival were coarse and brutal, but the customs were only in keeping with the spirit of that rough-hewn age. There were bull-baitings in Thirstin, feuds with neighbouring parishes fought out, personal combats, drinking bouts of long duration, and public-houses filled to overflowing from early morning until night to the accompaniment of fiddle and song. Honley had many civil and religious feuds with neighbouring townships, notably Crosland and Netherthong regarding Ecclesiastical contentions, and Skelmanthorpe on account of bull-baiting and fighting taunts. These quarrels were yearly renewed at the Feast, the representatives of physical strength in the village being sought up for the occasion. An old fighting champion, who in his youth had helped to thrash " Skelman- thorpers" out of the place at the Feast, when recalling its past glories, sorrowfully exclaimed to me :-

'* Aye ! There's no feighting na as there used to be when I wor a lad."

If, however, the sport of bull-baiting was cruel, we must remember that it was a National pastime at that period. If feuds and personal combats sometimes left life-long disable- ment of body to members of attacking or defending parties, we have substituted a modern form of bodily havoc in football fields. If personal combats with only nature's weapons between them were the order of the day, perhaps they proved cheaper in the end than calling in the aid of law. If the stal- wart son of the village indulged in a week's spree, I think in the end that he was not more of a physical wreck than many of our present-day youths.

But we will no longer dwell upon the savage ways of honour- ing Honley Feast in the good old days. We will recall memories of the Feast of our childhood and youth. At that time the field behind the Coach and Horses Inn, and two fields skirting the " Gate " were not then taken into the private grounds of the late Captain Jessop as at present. Here the Feast traffic was located on its arrival, the village children having previously prepared the way by pulling down the walls of these once enchanted fields. This custom of levelling the walls weeks

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prior to the Feast, was not only yearly observed by the children, but encouraged by mine host, Mr. Charles Walker, of the Coach and Horses Inn. He always smiled with good-natured assent to the destruction of the boundaries of his property. During this self-appointed labour, our imaginations were so held captive by thoughts of anticipated wonders, that we were tempted to go meet them half way. Vague reports and deceptive messengers enticed youthful feet day by day to stray as far as Brooke Wood. The more adventurous even travelled as far as the Birks, only to return home neither sadder nor wiser, but fuller of " thick-coming fancies." At least we were in the midst of food-providing that was an important part of the festival. - There were huge pieces of beef ready for roasting, pots of pickled cabbage, currant-puddings, veal and fruit pies baking, and casks of home-brewed beer blowing out their spigots in their impatience to be tapped,-provisions so abundant that would have served for an old-time Christmas. At last was hailed with joyful rapture the arrival of those attractions provided for youthful enjoyment. There came Pablo's Circus, Wombwell's Menagerie, Wild's Theatre, and other celebrated travelling shows. In addition, there were Taylor's Bazaar, Waxworks, Swings, Roundabouts, Flying-boxes, Shooting-tents, Pea Saloons, and numerous other alluring attractions. - These found their resting place in the fields, whilst stalls containing brandy-snap, nuts, fruit and other tempting contents lined the streets of Honley from end to end. Now began the Feast in real earnest. Not only Honley, but the surrounding town- ships became "lands flowing with milk and honey ;" open house being kept for all. There were universal meetings of parted friends and households both amongst rich and poor.

The Feast during the last century was the one bright visita- tion in the lives of Honley people, who were not surfeited with amusements in those days. The village during the festival was the common centre to which vast crowds could be seen coming by road, lane, field-path and hill-side. There are people still living who will vividly recall the congested state of the streets, especially the dangerous "Gate" where most of

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the traffic was located. Also memories of those wandering Thespians who once commanded our childish worship. There was Wallett, the Queen's jester, dazzling youthful eyes by his gallant bearing when stepping into Pablo's Cireus ring. We can yet recall the thrill when watching a sparkling fairy-like Hebe walk upon a tight rope, stretching outside from the top of the Circus to a distant field, and who in addition could have walked upon the heads of the people. Here came as an honoured guest, the notable Sam Wild, the hero who sur- mounted all difficulties and overcame all obstacles on the stage. There was also his brother, Tom Wild. Those Bohemian strollers who, when they had doffed the " sock and buskin," were still veritable Kings and Queens in our imaginations, were the only means of bringing before the eyes of country dwellers of that date stage-plays which once held captive the minds of the people. Many of us will recall the narrow seats, draughts, dim lights and other primitive furnishings that were the only luxuries of the travelling booths of that day. But on the other hand. Think of the romance which surrounded the flapping canvas of the tent when listen- ing to sensational plays of the order of "Jack Shephard," 6¢ Mungo Park," " Every inch a Sailor," " Black-eyed Susan," "The Green Bushes," "The Murder of Maria Martin in the red barn," etc! There were also the wild animals of Jerry Wombwell, more wonderful in childish imaginations than the winged steed of Pegasus, having journeyed from some far-off land-Jerusalem perhaps. Then did we not despise home-fare in those days for the glory of consuming delicious peas in fascinating saloons, and drinking coloured water of the hues of the rainbow, that it was a miracle we were not poisoned. And oh ! the empty ache in our hearts at the departure of these

delirious joys !

In 1869, there was an alteration in the character of the Feast. On account of the fields being enclosed in private grounds, the traffic had to be located elsewhere. Renting the ground to one travelling proprietor of amusements curtailed many sources of enjoyment ; and the attractions became

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limited. There came a change also in the old magic and delight of the Feast, and the halo which once surrounded its clang and clatter gradually faded. Stephenson in one of his poems writes :-

** Give me again all that was there, (Give me the sun that shone, Give me the heart, give me the eyes, (Give me the lad that is gone."

The change was in ourselves, for we had grown older. There was change also in the village. Railways and education

advanced, whilst the glory of the Feast decayed. Gradually

the once romantic strolling-players were left to their rather

sordid surroundings. The robust fare of beef and beer had

not the same taste in the mouth as of old, and crowds that once gathered dispersed themselves over wider areas year by year. No longer was the merry making of a week's duration, nor the once important army of public-house waiters in request. No longer was the bell-man sent around the streets of the village to announce the disbandment of the latter in his famous couplet, that :- ** Those who found em could keep em, For those who had lost em would'nt seek em."

Yet if the Feast had rather a blinking existence, the date still remained a memorial of old days until another change. In 1911, there came the startling proposition from outside dwellers, not only to ignore the festival of the once popular fixture, but to alter the date-a date which had once served as an Almanack to the whole country-side! The Feast, as far as regarded a general holiday had to be moved back to the first week in September, and this modern innovation came into force in 1912. At the time, I wondered what thoughts agitated the minds of thousands scattered over the civilized world when they read in the newspapers that henceforth the old name was to suggest new things ? Whether the time- honoured event will regain its old prestige, or that the once red-letter festival will become a dead-letter festival, time must determine.

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There was a custom observed at Honley Feast when I was a girl of cutting sticks from mountain ash-trees, locally named °" wiggin-trees." These " wiggin " sticks were striped, coloured, and sported during the festival. As mountain-ash was formely carried as a protection against witchcraft, no doubt this custom was the remnant of an old superstition in connection with the dedication of the Church. The intro- duction of more fashionable aids to walking or amusement amongst our " young bloods " have now ousted the gaily coloured " wiggin " sticks.


The local observance of Christmas ranks next in importance to keeping the Feast, though the same new forces are at work which are slowly but surely destroying the once distinctive character of cld-time Christmas customs in Honley. Plum pudding, mince pies, spice cake, cheese, etc., are still prepared by all good housewives, if the custom of brewing " a barrel full of beer" is not so common in homes as formerly. The old sacredness of the misletoe is yet honoured by its importance along with evergreens in the decoration of houses. People who live in towns may only think of the " Waits " as tiresome persons who make night hideous with their discordant noises. We older people in Honley have happier memories of Christ- mas nights, when we listened with bated breath for the first strains of " Christians awake," or " While Shepherds watched their flocks by night." Mellowed and softened by distance, the music was not sung by ordinary mortals, but sounded in childish ears akin to the angel's song of long ago. Then there was the haunting tune of " The Misletoe Bough," the words of which brought vividly to youthful imaginations that old chest in the castle, the fairy bride, and the gallant Sir Lovel who, when old, ** wept for his fairy bride," that we also wept at the repetition of the old-world romance. The young people can still repeat with fluency the old wishing rhyme of " pockets full of money, and barrels full of beer" when "letting in " Christmas.

Sword dancers, mummers, wassailers, peace egg actors, etc., are all relics of long-past pagan customs, catholic worship, or

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ancient Mystery Plays. The white steed Gleipnir belonging to the Norse God Woden, from whose name comes our Wed- nesday, re-appears again in the wooden horse danced around by boys in their Christmas plays. Honley boys still keep up a few observances of these old plays even if only remnants of the past. They yet bedeck themselves with ribbons, tinsels, and imitation swords when attempting to imitate the wonderful achievements of St. George and other gallant knights described in the Peace Egg book, not forgetting the black demon. We have also merrymakings of various degrees ranging from a ball to a "Laking" or "Playing Night," when "Here comes three jolly, jolly sailor boys " is sung as the merrymakers march around in couples on stone flagged cottage-floors. The lilting strain of the old ditty is trilled forth with youthful vigour, the only requirement for enjoyment being a pillow or cushion to be '* kissed on the floor." Other merrymakings also vary in character from the stately dinner-party at "Th' Maisters " to a humble boiling of toffee, when the dwellers in some " yerd " or " fowd " join their finances for the purpose of purchasing treacle and butter. Do we not all remember those " laking nights " and " boiling of toffee nights" of the past ? How we pulled, turned, twisted, thumped and kneaded that toffee until it almost begged to be eaten ! The various games particu- larly associated with Christmas festivities at each of our homes, such as " blindman's buff," " hunt the slipper," " kiss on the floor," " guessing riddles," etc., are also still popular amongst us.

ST. VauExnNTtINE's Day.

February 14th is a festival in the Romish Church, dedicated to St. Valentine. On this date birds begun to pair according to Shakespere, so perhaps they originated the custom of sending confessions of love on this date, and naming the missives valentines. Once St. Valentine's morning was laden with such momentous meaning, that all work was neglected in houses and mills in Honley until the advent or knock of the postman. Then what agitating tremors when breaking the seal of the envelope containing those wonderful missives! Now we no

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longer see those embroidered works of art containing expressions of never dying affection, or effusions on the order of :- ’

""The rose is red, the violets blue, The pink is sweet and so are you, And so are they who sent you this, And when we meet we'll have a kiss."

Modern lovers now despise the go between of St. Valentine, and Cupid's emblems have given place to Christmas Cards and good wishes.

AprrIL-FooL Day.

Formerly the first day of April in Honley was dedicated to foolish habits of sending people upon useless errands, or practising deceptions of various kinds ; and then rewarding them with the mirthful exclamation of " Old April fool !" We are, however, growing less credulous. The art of making dupes, or inducing people to undertake laughable journeys upon that day is more difficult than of old ; and the custom has fallen into neglect except amongst children.


I can find no old tradition giving a clue to the origin of the numerous tricks which were practised upon people on this _- night of All Hallows' E'en. When younger, I have known doors taken off hinges, gates opened in fields so that cattle could stray if wishful and be impounded in the days of the pindar. Also posts, doors, and other property were often whitewashed, and door-latches tied. In cases of long-standing feuds between families, the night served as a pretext for petty revenge either in one shape or another. The advent of policemen, gas and other modern means of detection now act as a deterrent to people with mischievous intentions.


We associate Easter with our Saviour's Resurrection, but it was originally a Pagan festival dedicated to the goddess of Spring. The many old customs prevailing in Honley which are associated with this season beginning a few days before

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Ash-Wednesday and ending at Easter, are relics of older Catholicism ; great licence being allowed upon the days previous to the Lenten fast. We will take them in order as they occur, all forming part of old-time preparations for Easter.


When sides of home-cured bacon and hams hanging from house-beams were considered the best pictures in a dwelling, Collop-Monday was set apart to test their quality. It was general for boys and girls, and often adult people, to go around the village on that day, calling at houses where these ** pictures " were known to be hung with the smiling request of "* Pray dame a collop." A large slice of bacon was generally given to each caller. Often sufficient bacon was collected which served a family in poor circumstances for a considerable length of time.

SHrovE Turspay.

This day was named from the practise of being shriven before keeping the Lenten fast. After the ceremony, the bell was rung, and the people could then partake of food. In various countries the time of ringing the bell varied. In Hon- ley, the ringing of the " pancake bell," as it is named, was at eleven o'clock in the morning. Formerly before the ringing of the bell, " barring out " was a popular custom in our schools. As the hands of school-clocks neared the figures of eleven, the severity of schoolmasters and schoolmistresses relaxed. Descending from their usual dignified attitudes, they allowed themselves to be decoyed outside upon various pretexts. The scholars fearless of future chastisement would then lock the school-house door, and with whoops of delight rush out of school by another entrance, and salute the ringing of the bell. We held to a childish belief that by so doing, pancakes would by some unaccountable means tumble down from the Church steeple into our pinafores which we held out in wistful anticipation. An ancient custom of throwing pancakes down from the steeple in some places may have given rise to this idea. (Perhaps in Honley in far off days). Formerly at the I

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ringing of the " pancake bell," parish and other apprentices were set at liberty for the day. The custom of making and eating pancakes on Shrove-Tuesday is still kept up, and this hastily-prepared fare if properly managed is delicious eating. Other customs, such as tossing the pancake, presenting the first one made in the pan to a poorer neighbour, etc., are fallen into disuse.


The yellow catkins which are generally bursting out upon willow-trees at the time when Palm Sunday falls due, are gathered and worn on this day. The catkins are locally named palms for that reason.

Goop FrRIDAy.

The old custom of preparing and eating Good-Friday cakes can be traced to Pagan times, when bread was an offering to the gods. There are also strong connecting links with the observances of the early Churches when vigorous fasts and greater simplicity of worship prevailed. The old custom of making a cross upon the cakes can also be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times. According to old superstitious belief, the marking of the cross was made as a preventative against all evils. Time has brought new rituals into our Good-Friday religious services, but as yet, there has been no change in Honley regarding the baking and eating of Good-Frid2y cakes.

EastEr Monxnpay.

The custom of members of the various Benefit Clubs meeting, worshipping, and eating together upon this day, was one of the great annual events in the place. Men laid aside work at loom and farm, and journeyed to Honley ; each Club having its own appointed meeting-place at various Inns. Here friends who had not seen each other since the previous Anniversary, talked and recalled memories of youth and early manhood. Then at the order of officers who carried upon their persons the emblems of authority, the members comprising the rank and file lined the streets on either side with the pre- cision of well-trained soldiers. Clad in their best clothes,

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and wearing white cotton gloves were men of all ages, sizes and conditions ; each father, husband, son, brother or sweetheart no doubt being duly admired by his women kind, who stood hovering near. The great event however was the march to and from the service in Church. Each member linked his smallest finger with that of his opposite neighbour, and then began that mysterious process of continually " open- ing out, and opening in * akin to the country dance in character, but of slower movement, which eventually brought the pro- cession to the gates of the Church. With what rapt wonder and admiration did we gaze upon the soldier-like march to and from Church! That long-haired Druid was the Ancient Briton of our History books, and the green-clad forester, the Robin Hood of fire-side romances !

The custom of Benefit Clubs attending Church upon Easter Monday dates far back according to entries in an old Sunday School book. A collection was also the rule, the proceeds being given to the funds of the National School which was a Voluntary Institution at that time. I will not describe the feasting which followed the service in Church, which amongst many members was perhaps rather of the Bacchanalian order. Honley people, whose memories of by-gone Anniversaries of their Benefit Clubs are vivid, prefer to dwell upon old associations connected with these once red-letter days whose glories are now only of the past.

There were also Benefit Clubs for women, many of which were named °" Briefs." We had one in Honley known as " The Ancient Shepherdesses," which boasted a large number of members. They also honoured their Anniversary, naming it *The Yearly Day," on which they met, worshipped and eat, but not in the robust style favoured by their menkind. The members of " The Ancient Shepherdesses " partook of tea in preference to dinner, flavouring the brown liquid with " yellow- cream." In the early history of this feminine Club, it was the custom when walking to and from Church on " The Yearly Day ' for each member to wear a white deep-fringed silk

shawl upon her shoulders, and also white gloves upon her hands.

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Previous to the day, there was much borrowing from reigh- bours of these shawls laid away in lavender by members who did not possess the once valued shoulder coverings. As time passed, this pretty ceremony was not observed by the younger members, and gradually the distinguishing symbols disappeared. The Club however continued to flourish for a lorg time, but was eventually disbanded, and the funds distributed amongst the

remaining members.

The particulars of the festival of the Mechanics' Institute, which was also held upon Easter Monday, appears in the history of that Institution.

May Day.

I can find no trace of the observance of the crowning of the May Queen, or dancing around the May-pole in Honley. Old people always declared that a May-pole once stood in Town- gate, and they invariably named the present open space May- pole hill. The same name is also found in entries in ancient books, valuations, etc., so that no doubt old English games took place here. When I was a girl, an old song of eight verses containing eight lines each, and named " The May-pole " was popular in Honley. I have heard people who have long since gone to their rest sing it often. At the call of my father, who was fond of the song, I once heard three prominent members of the old Choral Society sing it in fine style at Christmas without the aid of words or music. I will copy three verses from the eight which may recall to mind the once well-known song

of " The May-pole."

'* Come lasses and lads, take leave of your dads, And away to the May-pole hie, For every fair has a sweetheart there, And the fiddler is standing by. For Willy shall dance with Jane, And Johnny has got his Joan, To trip it, trip it, trip it, trip it Trip it up and down.

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Strike up, says Wat. Agreed, says Mat, And I prithee fiddler play, Content, says Hodge, and so says Madge, For this is a holiday. Then every lad did doff His hat unto his lass And every girl did curtsey-curtsey Curtsey on the grass.

Begin, says Hal. Aye! Aye! says Moll We'el lead up Packington's Pound, No ! No ! says Moll and so says Doll We'el first have NSellinger's Round. Then every man began To foot it round about, And every girl did jet it, jet it, Jet it in and out."

The rest of the five verses which I can remember run on until in the last verse these young men and maidens of a by- gone time part, and agree to meet again on the next May-day.

If, however, we no longer assemble upon May-pole hill to dance around the pole, we had one good custom which was long observed upon May-day. Before the advent of motor cars, Honley horses attracted attention by their beauty and strength. In those days, owners and those who had charge of them were proud of their beasts. Many of us can recall the grand horses once owned by Messrs. Farrar Brothers, Messrs. John Littlewood & Sons, Messrs. Joshua Beaumont & Sons and other well-known firms. There was also the famous chest- nut °" Bob," owned by Messrs. James Shaw & Co., of Neiley Mills, but I must refrain from describing the breeding, beauty, and strength of many of those once well-known animals. No doubt for many days previous to May-day, they were groomed to misery. But when gaily decorated and led forth by proud teamers on that morning, their coats shining like satin ; they were indeed a sight to gladden the eyes of a horse-lover. Few horses are now decorated in Honley for May-day. Perhaps that is the reason why I noticed a look of settled misery in the

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eyes of many unkempt creatures who were no doubt regretting that they had not experienced the joyousness of a May-day custom.

OAK or " Day.

In local vocabulary, May 29th is named " Rump Day," the leaf of the oak-tree being known as " rump." - This memory of the escape of King Charles when hiding in the branches of an oak-tree after the battle of Worcester is still recalled. Child- ren carrying a twig of the oak-tree in their hands on this morning repeat the old rhyme of :-

'* Rump-a-dump day, T'wenty-ninth of May, Show your rump, Or else I bump."

This threat is put into execution by belabouring any other child who is without a branch or sprig from an oak-tree.

Guy Fawrrs Day.

The celebration of the defeat of the gunpowder plot is not kept up as enthusiastically as formerly, though we still eat our home-made parkin, light bonfires in folds and yards, and discharge fireworks upon November fifth. Woods, hedges, and other wild bits of nature disappear for increasing population, so that the happy hunting-grounds for discovery of fuel for bonfires are curtailed year by year. When the passing away of Honley Feast had left us children sad and sobered, our sorrow was gradually turned to joy in our eager anticipation for the coming bonfire night. We were wont to sally forth after school-hours in October twilights independent of sex. Armed with implements of a primitive character, secretly purloined from household stores, we explored forbidden grounds. When the herculean task of digging up a root of an old tree was accomplished, we dragged our trophy home in triumph, adding root to root, and guarding our treasures with watchful eyes from the pilferings of neighbouring bonfire architects. When the eventful day arrived, we went from door to door in the small

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area over which the light of our anticipated bonfire was supposed to shine with the request :- '* Pray dame a coal For our bonfire hole." Or to make use of local idiom :- '* Pray dame a koil For bunfire hoil."

It was seldom that the request for coal to help to set alight the bonfire was refused.

In the days of home products, it was customary for the young people in Honley to make their own fireworks. This manu- facturing business required much secrecy to escape watchful parental eyes, who were more concerned for our safety than ourselves. One youth would be an adept in the art of rolling cases to hold gunpowder, another in " twitching '"' the ends, a third a specialist in " touch-paper '' preparations, and so on. We were also great authorities in those days regarding gun- powder, " steel-filings," salt-petre, sulphur, and other dangerous compounds. Modern firework miracles were undreamed about, so that whether our home-made squibs were a success or failure, we were happy and content with them. When the fireworks were all exploded, our joys were not ended. There came the excitement of roasting potatoes, which if not lost in the fire, were generally raw inside and burnt to a cinder outside ; but affording exquisite delight when eating in comparison to consuming unromantic potatoes of later life. Alas ! This dissipation came to an end with the dying out of our glorious fire to which we paid a dejected visit on the following morning only to find expired embers.


This drastic remedy for erring husbands, wives, or other people who had acted wrongly, or offended the village ideas of right and justice, was once common in Honley, though now seldom put into practice. It was the custom to model a straw man or woman according to the sex of the culprit, fasten the effigy to a long pole, set it alight, and burn it in front of the

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offender's house. The pole that was generally in request was the long pole or " stang " used by dyers for their vats, hence came the name of " Riding the Stang." It was an old belief which is not yet extinct in Honley that if the effigy was carried into three townships, " Riding the Stang" was not an illegal act. I can recall to mind three rather vivid " Stang-ridings " in my life-time. If a man had a bad wife, the " nonimy " as we named it ran as follows :-

"* With a ran-ran-ran, an old tin-can, A woman has been paying (thrashing) a man."


L do not remember the words of the " nonimy " relating to misdeeds committed by a man. Enjoying the privileges of the male sex, perhaps they escaped punishment.

Customs omBsErvyED at Birtus, MarriacEs, DEATHS, aND FUNERALS.

BirtH.-The birth of children was often made an excuse for a drinking bout, or as it was named °" washing the head " of the newly arrived infant.

Marriagr.-Previous to Honley Church being licensed for marriages, people had to journey to Almondbury to be married, -the men clad in flowered waistcoats, -the women decked in bonnets with abundance of ribbons, and their shoulders covered by silk or Paisley shawls. Upon the arrival back of bride- groom and bride, many rough, and often indecent pranks were practised upon them ; but these tricks have now fallen into disrepute. It was common for bridegroom and bride to stealthily proceed to Almondbury by different routes, return in the same secret manner after the ceremony, and thus escape attention. One respectable man went to Almondbury wearing his clogs and blue apron twisted around his body, and after ths ceremony returned to his weaving. The bride, a sweet and comely maiden journeyed there by another route in print dress, apron, and handkerchief upon head. The modern rites attend- ing marriage are now of a more refined character. °" Wedding Ale " however is still demanded and drunk, for many people in

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Honley would not only look with disfavour upon a " dry- wedding," but consider it rather unlucky.

of the old customs observed at death and burial are still followed, but more have been abandoned. The tolling of the Church bell for the dead dates back to the Seventh Century. - It is a relic of the Roman Catholic custom of ringing the bell when a person was dying, so that prayers would be offered for the soul passing away ; hence it is named the ** passing-bell." - We now ring it after death, but this beautiful old custom of tolling out the years of a departed neighbour is seldom now observed. The use of flowers, and formerly of sweet herbs at funerals is also of great antiquity. At the death of a female, either in girlhood or early womanhood, it was customary in Honley for those of her own sex and as near her age as possible to carry the coffin to the grave. Their black garments were relieved with white bonnets, veils and gloves. This fashion is no longer with us. Carrying the coffin '* shoulder-height," or upon men's shoulders, covered by a velvet or silk pall which generally belonged to one of the Benefit Clubs was in use amongst us ; but this custom is also discontinued. Persons who were bidden to funerals of people in superior stations of life, for the purpose of acting as ** bearers," were supplied with black silk or crape streamers to hats, broad silk sashes to be put crossways on bodies and black kid gloves. These costly trappings are now things of the past. Other customs such as bidding of friends and relatives to the funeral,-providing wine and biscuits previous to the funeral, and tea afterwards,-giving a last look at the dead,- burial at the third day,-attendance at Church on the Sunday following a funeral,-wearing of black garments for a year,- the widow's bonnet and her general effacement for a longer period ; and the providing of funeral cards are still observed.

The beautiful old custom of "singing away " the dead is rarely, if ever, practised now, though once common in Honley. I can recall such funerals of the past when carrying a humble worshipper to his or her last resting-place. The coffin carried '* shoulder-height '"' and the long procession following singing

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the well-known hymns of " Oh ! God our help in ages past " and " Thee we adore Eternal Name." Words and tune borne on summer's breeze or winter's wind to listening ears, may perhaps have proved more suggestive to many than sermons. The funeral of members of Brass Bands or other Musical Societies are now often accompanied to the grave by the beautiful strain of the " Dead March," which has replaced the

" singing away *' of the past.


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(Music.-Choral - Society.-Brass - Band. -Hand-bell - Ringing.- Cricket.-Football Clubs.-Tennis Club.-Flower Bull-baiting. -Hunting.-Foot-racing.-Whippet - racing. -Cock - fight- ing. -Pigeon - _ Landmarks.-Workhouse.-Town Hall. -Stepping-stones.-Stocks. -P infold.-Rising Corn Mill. -Toll-bars.-Wells).


OF HONLEY. Music. From the days when the Ancient Hebrew in the 137th Psalm pathetically bewails that exiled Israelites were not able to sing *" one of the songs of Zion " in a strange land ; so every shade of feeling has been expressed in music. In our early English history the sentiments of a people were voiced in masses, ballads, and madrigals ; and to-day we breathe forth our emotions in modern compositions. Perhaps the most popular recreation in Honley, both past and present, has been and is the cultivation and love of music, the art being as strongly characteristic of the people as their independence of spirit. In addition to efficient Church and Chapel Choirs-Musical Societies, (Glee Clubs, etc., have always been formed and flourished in connection with our places of religious worship, schools, institutes, etc. At one time we had the best Choral Society for miles around. I have no date when it was formed, but its first meeting-place was at " The George and Dragon " Inn. There were no lights in those days, so rehearsals took place upon dates nearest a full moon. A few members came from neighbouring parishes where the love of music was equally as strong, and members of Honley Choral Society joined that of their neighbours. I have heard old music- lovers speak of perilous journeys to and from rehearsals on dark and stormy nights, often after a hard day's labour. One

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enthusiastic member of a noted musical family was wont to walk to and from Penistone to attend musical practises, there being no railways in those days. Honley Choral Society encouraged by local help, next met for weekly rehearsals in the National School, and launched forth into giving sacred and secular concerts. Numbering amongst its members the best vocal and instrumental musicians in the neighbourhood, these concerts were great musical treats ;-sacred music hold-

ing first place.

The music of Handel has always exercised influence upon natives of our hill-sides. And what can approach its grandeur and sublimity when sung by dwellers in the West Riding of Yorkshire ! So thought members of Honley Choral Society. Handel was their favourite composer, for familiar Biblical words were often the only worship of toil-worn men and women who sung them. Almost every child in Honley was able to sing any piece out of the " Messiah " from memory by so often hearing relatives practise the music. Who that has heard "" the fire and go " of the " Hallelujah Chorus " sung and accompanied by members of the old Choral Society, when at the zenith of its fame, can forget a performance in which voice, fiddle, trumpet, trombone, double-bass, etc., were not spared ? In addition to the " Messiah " being a favourite, " Creation," "* Joshua," "Twelfth Mass," " Alexander's Feast," " Acis and Galatea," "Judas Maccabzus," "Samson," and other works were given. The Secular Concerts generally consisted of the best old glees, madrigals and songs. I remember that '* Hail Smiling Morn,"-" Since first I saw your face,"- ** Begone - dull _ care,"-" Simon _ the _ Hail Memory *" and songs relating to May-day and May-time were favourites. (May must have been different in the Calendar than at present when so many of those old songs were com- posed). Older people may recall prominent members of the old Choral Society, notably Mrs. Ben Hirst, Miss Roebuck, who married Mr. Ben Stocks, of Huddersfield, Miss Kaye, who married Mr. John B. Donkersley, Miss Smythe, Miss Athorn, Miss Renshaw, etc. Amongst the men, the names of Beaumont,

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1886 1896


Hirst, Mortons, Knuttons, Drakes, Hobsons, Sutcliffes, Boothroyds, Roebucks, Renshaws, Mettricks, Schofields, (Giledhills, etc., are familiar.

To give an example of the robust sustaining power of Honley voices. At one Concert given by the Choral Society, when Hadyn's "Creation " was sung, only one lady treble was present, the other females with musical touchiness having ** hung their harps upon the willows " on account of slight rebukes. The lady treble, now nearing eighty years of age, is Mrs. Ben Hirst, nee Miss Lavinia Charlesworth, one of the many noted Chorus Ningers from this part who, in the past, were in great request at the famous Crystal Palace Concerts of the late Queen Victoria's days. What was to be done ? There was a large audience seated in the National School, a full chorus of powerful voices and a great number of instrumentalists waiting on the platform. The Concert pro- ceeded, Mrs. Hirst upholding alone the treble part throughout the work, her voice sounding most effective though heavily weighted with a strong male chorus. Persons who know the

exacting nature of the high treble notes required in singing

many parts of "The Creation," such as " The heavens are telling,"-" On mighty pens,"-" Marv'lous Works,"-" The Lord is great," etc., will realise that it was a noteworthy performance.

The Society continued to flourish for a long time under well- known Presidents and local help. In 1861, when Handel's ** Joshua" was performed, the late Sir Thomas Brooke was President. The late George Jessop, Junior, Esq. was at once time also President, followed by G. W. Farrar, Esq., W. H. Walker, Esq. and other well-known local gentlemen. In the year 1886, the once famous Choral Society was broken up. In 1896, the ashes of the old society was again formed into life, and re-named °" Honley Musical Society." This did not long continue. Again another resurrection which was also short- lived, for our present generation do not live in the strains of Handel, Mozart, etc. as did the old.

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Music being the birthright of almost all who are born on our hill-sides, it is not an agreeable task to single out for special mention one particular musician of a past or present day. As in the past, Honley is still a land of song. Music is in every corner, beautiful voices sounding in hall, cottage, church and chapel. They can be heard side by side with the rattle of the loom, or floating on the night air from a returning pleasure party, all parts of the music blending together in perfect harmony. In the past, as at present, many natives of Honley have taken no insignificant part in Cathedral Choirs, Musical Festivals and World-Tours. The late Mr. George Allen Beaumont was a great musical genius, whose playing upon the organ won great praise from eminent musical critics. The death at the age of nineteen years of this clever youthful organist cut short a promising career. Miss Smythe possessed a soprano voice of great power. Mr. Alexander Lee, a young singer of a later date has a tenor voice of much sweetness. There are also many others of more than local fame who are worthy of mention even in a land of harmony.

Details regarding numerous Societies, Glee-parties, and other kindred Associations cannot be here given. They have been many and varied claiming wonderful beginnings, but rather prosaic endings. Out of door " sings," held upon Honley Feast Sunday and other Sundays have now become common. The religious music of old-time composers is still as popular as formerly, and grand old hymns and tunes, so familiar and loved by dwellers in the neighbourhood, are heartily sung by assembled crowds. In the history of the National School will be found particulars of the successes of the school children in "* The Mrs. Sunderland Musical Competitions," held at Hudders- field. We thus see, that as fresh and new as spring-time the love of music is re-assertive amongst us ; and to-day Honley is still a nest of singing-birds.

Brass BAND.

The present Honley Prize Band was formed in 1865. Pre- viously there had been a noted old Band in existence, many

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of its members being well-known performers upon their respective instruments at Choral and other Concerts. The members of the present Band when formed in 1865 were chiefly young men connected with Church, Chapels and various Sunday Schools, whilst others were members of old musical families in Honley. They each paid £1 to enter as a member. The first new instruments were supplied by Messrs. Higham, of Manchester, the well-known musical instrument makers. The Trustees for the safe finances of the Band were Mr. William Brooke, Mr. George Wm. Farrar, and Mr. Wm. Hy. Walker. Mr. William Brooke gave out these first instruments to the members at the National School, where rehearsals took place. Members from Meltham Mills Band came to Honley, and played around the village upon the new instruments to the great delight of the inhabitants. At night, all dined together at the Commercial Inn. It is interesting to known the names of first members of the Band. They are as follows :-Joseph Swift, Wright Renshaw, John William Holdroyd, Edwin Holdroyd, Joseph Holdroyd, George Brooke, John Garside, Henry Smith, Lawton Smith, George Taylor, Ben Brooke, Edwin Boothroyd, Henry Knutton, Richard Bingley, George Dyson, Benjamin Carter, Willie Wilson, John Pearson and Irvin Wood. Death has claimed nearly all these once enthusiastic members. The Band has always been fortunate in securing good and efficient conductors in the persons of Mr. Henry Smith, John Berry, of Meltham Mills, J. Gladney, Wright Renshaw, Seth Coldwell, and the present Mr. Fred Berry.

During the time that the Band was under the conductor- ship of Mr. J. Gladney the famous Brass Band Conductor of that day, it reached a high standard of efficiency. The Band took Kirst Prize on September lst, 1884, at Belle Vue, Man- chester, beating at this annual contest such famous Bands as ** Black Dyke" and Linthwaite. As this contest is looked upon as one of great importance, there was much rejoicing in the village at the victory. During the same year, they won First Prizes at Lincoln, Chapeltown, Worsborough Dale,

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1885 6-7 1884 1887


Queensbury, Guiseley, Southport, Rotherham, Gainsborough, Thurlstone, etc. Also second Prizes at Kettering, Batley, etc. In 1885-6-7 they failed to hold premier position at the Annual Belle Vue Contest, and fell behind to fourth place. From 1884 to 1887, the total number of prizes won were 32 Firsts, 13 Seconds, 7 Thirds, 6 Fourths, 1 Fifth, and 1 Sixth Prize. Then came changes. Mr. J. Gladney ceased to conduct, and members drifted one by one to the more successful Meltham Mills Band. When the latter went out of existence, thirteen Honley members returned to their own Band.

Honley Band is yet in a flourishing condition, and its present members as enthusiastic as of old. They are always ready to enliven our local rejoicings, religious, political or otherwise, by their inspiring music ; and Honley would indeed feel the loss of its Band. The present President is Alderman George Wm. Oldham, who has held the office for many years.

Haxnp-BELL Rinameo.

The young men members of the Church formed the first Hand-bell Ringing Society in Honley. Supplied by help from well-known friends with the best bells, the members became expert performers ; and the sweet music was greatly appreciated. As time passed, the members either tired of the music, or exacting practises ; and decided upon a rest. Another Society was formed under the name of " Wood Royd Hand- bell Ringers," whose performances became so proficient as to win prizes. These also considered that a change was beneficial, and I believe that the once sweetly-sounding bells are at present silent.


We have had other recreations in addition to music. Previous to the " George and Dragon " Inn being converted into the Working Man's Club, there was a spacious field behind the public house which is now covered by buildings and scored by roads. One of the best Cricket Clubs in the neighbourhood played upon the ground, nearly all its members being noted local cricketers, such as Mr. Joshua Robinson and his brother

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Charles, Mr. Robert Heap, Mr. Thomas Beardsell and his brother Brook, etc. I can remember that the batting powers of Mr. Joshua Robinson, and the bowling abilities of Mr. Robert Heap (the underhand bowling of the latter being termed "shoddy balls ") were considered wonderful. When the landlord of the " George and Dragon " Inn constructed the racecourse out of this field and those adjoining, the members migrated to a large and elevated field behind Northgate Mount placed at their disposal by Mr. William Brooke. Here the Club continued to flourish for a long time, until the present spacious ground was secured by the help of Mr. Brooke and other subscribers. Being part of one of the oldest estates in Honley, its rural seclusion had been preserved. With its picturesque pavilion, the field is not only one of the largest cricket-fields in the neighbourhood, but one of the old beauty- spots still left amongst us. Though numerous other Clubs in connection with various places of worship have been formed, the original Club still holds together. It has had its bright and dark days, ups and downs, sulks and recoveries. When the Club has been nearing highest honours, I have seen large and enthusiastic crowds line the field. If a member made a false step in a keenly contested struggle, the air has suddenly become highly charged with exacting criticism, fault-finders feeling convinced that they could have played the match much better.

I hope that this ground will always be preserved in our midst, for one of the most typical sights of the neighbourhood are our playing-fields on a Saturday afternoon.


There has been a change in this game since the days when the casing of footballs were made by our village shoemakers,- stuffed with bladders begged from our butchers,-and kicked under a moonlit-sky in any old pasture-field. The once boyish pastime has now become a National sport. Football Clubs formed both for adults and boys have been and are so numerous in Honley, that I am unable to give particulars of any special Club. Suffice to say, that as winter approaches the striped J

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1884 1888




jerseys of Football teams dot the green fields in place of white clad cricketers. ‘


This Club was formed in June, 1889, and its first President was Miss Niddon. It had a large membership at that time, and was in a very flourishing condition. Interest however gradually waned, and the number of members dwindled. The Club has since been formed into new life, and has regained much of its old standing with regard to members.

FrowEr Snow.

Honley has also floated its Flower Shows. The first Exhibition was held on August 8th, 1884, and continued annually until 1888. A succession of wet and windy days in each year when the Show was held proved disastrous, and prevented people from attending. The Flower Show eventually became merged in the present Poultry Show, which is still annually held under cover in November.

Other recreations which have been features of the past will be found under histories of Schools, Institutions, Holidays, etc. with which they were associated.

SPORTS. Burr-BArtina.

In the past, many amusements and diversions of Honley people may have been of a brutal character, but they were typical of the age. On the other hand, we have seen that the intellectual and refined interested the minds of other dwellers. Bull-baiting was once a popular sport in England, and patronized by Royalty. Queen Elizabeth, King James I. and Queen Anne all took delight in the cruel sport. In 1802 a Bill was introduced into Parliament to suppress the dis- graceful exhibition, but so popular was the National pastime, that it was not until 1835 that Bull-baiting was made illegal by law. A dam of water covers the deep hollow in Thirstin where Bull-baitings took place at Honley Feast. I can only

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describe what I have heard old people repeat who were witnesses of the baitings in Thirstin, but these accounts are trustworthy. Their statements made deep impression upon the writer even if only yourg at the time, being a great lover of animals. A retentive memory has helped me not to forget the least detail of this old-time sport.

Imagination must re-construct the once natural hollow surrounded on all sides by sloping furze-covered hill-sides, uncrossed by roads, or covered with buildings as at present. Here was brought the bull, one often coming from Flockton. Sometimes the animal was decorated with ribbons and heralded ‘by a band of music. The stake was fixed in the middle of the hollow to which the bull was tied by a rope four or five feet long. Seated, or standing, upon the sloping hill-sides, or any place suitable for sight-seeing, were thousands of spectators all eager for the sport. The dogs were then brought to the fray. Both bull and dogs had previous training. If the dogs were of a peaceable nature, and did not give encouraging signs of future fierceness, there were a few Honley natives who understood how to practise cruel arts upon the animals to make them savage. Failing, even after these torments, to rise to their owner's idea of courage ; the dogs were destroyed. Savage animals were applauded, and kept for future exhibitions, and I have listened to many anecdotes of the " pinning " powers of certain dogs of a past day. The dogs did not resemble the low, cloddy, pure-bred bull-dogs of the present day. These are a modern production. The Bull-baiting dog of old time was a cross between the present breed and an undersized mastiff. The latter were descendants of the watch-dogs formerly in use as guards against Moss-troopers and other objectionable visitors. Crossed with the bull-dog breed of that day, a formidable animal both of strength and grip was produced, which answered to Charlotte Bronte's description of " Tartar " in " Shirley." Owners of dogs previously entered them for the sport paying a small fee. I forget the number of times a dog was allowed to be slipped at the bull before being withdrawn, but I think it was "three slips and a bite."

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If the dog succeeded in " pinning " the bull-that is-bringing him down to his knees, and holding him fast by the nose ; a prize of five shillings was given to owner. - Often the bull tossed a young unwary animal high in the air. People and owner would rush to catch the inexperienced warrior, or else it would be badly hurt in its fall. On the other hand, sometimes the bull had to trample a plucky animal to death with his fore- legs before able to break the dog's grip from his nose.. If the bull was so injured by dogs that it was unable to endure a second baiting, it was sold to the nearest butcher, an idea prevailing that the flesh of a baited-bull was very tender, and therefore much prized.

When younger, I have heard my father, who was born in 1806, relate particulars of two exhibitions in Thirstin at which he was present as a youth. The crowd was so vast at one baiting, that his nearest standing-point was on the top of (Green Cliffe rocks which had then an unbroken view of the hollow. This was the year when a bull broke loose from the stake, scattering sight-seers right and left in its escape from its tormentors. It raced a long distance until it sought shelter in a wood, where it fell from exhaustion. Here it was caught and goaded back again to the stake. Another year, my father obtained a place nearer the stake to which an animal was tethered that was reported to be of great courage. After waving red flags before his eyes, blowing pepper up his nose, twisting his tail, goading him with iron prongs, etc., the animal refused to encounter the dogs. When pinned and brought to his knees by a tenacious animal, my father always declared with conviction that he 'saw tears as large as peas running down from the eyes of the bull, and that his bellowings were pitiful to hear. The cruelty practised upon this animal was so great, that my father left the scene, and never again witnessed a Bull-baiting. The secret of the bull's disinclina- tion to gore or toss the dogs slipped at him was the fact, that a dog kept at the farm where the bull had been reared had been his playmate and companion. The uproar of the crowd was so great at the deprivation of their sport, that they fell to fight-

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SAMUEL NORCLIFFE. (see page 149).

Huntsman with Honley Hounds at Bottom of Gate.

LD HUNTING HORN, formerly belonging to Mr. Sam Norcliffe, Huntsman. HOOF of his famous old hunter '* Stiff Breeches."

(see page 149),

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ing each other. These combats were of frequent occurrence at Honley Bull-baitings, chiefly with the residents of Skelmanthorpe and Crosland.

Such was the fiendish sport known as Bull-baiting !


When moorlands and woodlands were more extensive around Honley than at present, hunting was a popular sport. Farmers and their servants often thrashed corn all night, and weavers toiled at their looms by the light of rushlights ; so that all could enjoy a day's hunting on the morrow. Honley hounds, whether trencher-fed or kennelled, were truly a pack of the people. Formerly there were few families in the place who had not at one time or another kept a hound, each Inn, yard, or fold having its Banker, Music, Towler or Bilberry. In addition, Nudger would find a home at Castle Hill side, Blossom on the opposite side of the valley at Oldfield, Ring- wood at Crosland and so on. Of the same breed as Penistone hounds, the oldest pack in Great Britain ; Honley hounds possessed equal strength, size and stamina that are required for hunting in our rough mocrland neighbourhood with its high stone walls. Of more majestic size than a foxhound, large head, long in back, deep in chest, and voices musical as __ bells, their ears in the words of Shakespere " Swept away the morning dew." Records of early hunting days in Honley are lost, so that I am only able to go as far back in their history as my memory will carry me. This was in the days when Mr. William Sykes, of Lindley, was master of the pack, and Mr. Sam Norcliffe the huntsman. The hounds were collected by the " whipper-in " early on a hunting morning from distant hill-side and sequestered farmstead. Their eagerness for the chase was expressed in musical gladness, which floated to our ears whilst the fields were white with dew, and the morning mists hung around. Then came the full outburst of hound joy when released from their temporary kennels at the bottom of " Gate.'"-the red-coated Sam Noreliffe on horseback,- the cracking of whips, -the rebukes to the too eager Bellman or Lively, and the followers of the sport on horseback and foot.

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When on our way to school, it was a picturesque and fascinat- ing sight to watch hounds, with gaily-waving flags, each dog being known to us by name, red-coated horsemen and hardy followers on foot pass through the village ; or to view them upon a distant hill-side streaming over field and copse.

At that time, hares were more plentiful than at present, and famous runs were often recorded, Sam Norcliffe being a huntsman who tolerated no dog in his pack that merely made up the cry, and did not hunt. Honley hounds also frequently visited other districts for the purpose of hunting, especially the neighbourhood of Penistone, and friendly visits between the two packs were of long standing. Mr. J. H. Dransfield, of Penistone, the writer of its history, and a great lover of its hounds, told me that on one occasion Honley hounds joined the Penistone pack for the purpose of hunting a wild stag provided by Mr. Charles Wortley. The meet was at Wortley, and after a long chase, the stag was killed. To prove the strength and stamina of Honley hounds of that day, the dogs walked carly in the morning to Wortley, had an arduous day of hunting over a rough part of the country, and at the end of the chase, were dismissed with the huntsman's order to '* get away home," his whip curling around tired bodies and limbs helping tardy movements. If the end of a day's chase found dogs and followers a long way from home, this spartan dismissal was common, the dogs finding their way home as best they could.

During the time that Mr. Sam Norcliffie was huntsman, it was also a custom to hunt one week in each season over the estates of Mr. Spencer, at Cawthorne, Mr. Blackett, at Bretton, and the Bosville lands at Gunthwaite. The dogs were kennelled for this purpose at the old foxhound kennels at Cawthorne. Mr. Dransfield informed me that the week was spent in old hunting fashion by the guests then assembled. This was hard riding during the day, and at night generous fare, songs sung, toasts drunk, and gallant deeds of horses and hounds recalled. I have also a dim remembrance of the hounds having day's hunts with Bramham Moor pack, when large fields assembled.

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PRESENT PACK. (see page 149).

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Often a fox was hunted in Honley which had been presented by a neighbouring hunt. It was previously turned out upon Honley Moor, and a large crowd generally assembled. Former supporters and followers of Honley hounds once held races at Fixby Hall in connection with the hunt. I have been in- formed that the present Rockwood Steeplechases owe their origin to the Fixby Hall fixture once held in connection with Honley hunt.

After the death of Mr. Sykes and Mr. Norcliffe, the hunt was carried on for a time by a Committee. This did not prove a success. Mr. Frederick Eastwood, of Huddersfield, next undertook the mastership, and retained the position about 12 years. The remnants of the once grand pack were gathered together, and kennelled upon Honley Moor, Mr. Jonathan Cole acting as huntsman, and his brother David as whip. Foxhound blood was introduced in 1880, that in my idea spoiled the size, beauty, and distinctive character of the hounds. Supporters of the hunt say, that the cross has since been eliminated. I find from long experience that a bad cross in animals, like human beings, is apt to crop up again in future generations. Under the generous mastership of Mr. Eastwood, the hunt regained much of its old prestige ; but his death again brought changes. The present hounds are now a foot pack, known as " Holmfirth, Honley and Meltham Hunt," under the management of a Committee.

As population increases, and wild bits of nature decrease, hunting in our neighbourhood becomes more difficult each season. The old race of men who clung to their hill-sides

and whose food was oatmeal porridge washed down by home-

brewed beer are gone. Sound of wind and limb, they earned by hard toil a day's hunting which satisfied them for the rest of the year. These men have been replaced by a less strong race, whose food of tea and bread and employment in factories are not favourable for a day's following of the hounds on foot. Yet we have a few stalwart followers of the hounds in Honley, such as David Lunn and others, who are true-bred sons of the hills in their love for the chase. To those also who saw the

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fine collection of local hounds entered at Holmfirth Show in 1911, that I judged, I venture to say that they had not their equal for size, beauty, and strength in Great Britain. It would be a matter of regret to all lovers of hunting if these grand old hounds are allowed to become extinct.

Hunting songs are not now so frequently heard as of old. After a hard day's run, the strains of " Old Towler," " John Peel," and other songs of the chase floated out to passers by from bar or kitchen of once noted hostelries. Often the song of " Old Towler," with its ranting chorus of " With my hey-ho chivy " sung by lusty voices to cheer the return homewards, awoke the echoes of silent hill-sides. Below is copied out an old hunting-song, which was a favourite with old members of Honley hunt of a past day, and which is typical of the sport in the early part of last century. My excuse for insertion is, that many, if not all, of our local songs once so popular in our midst are forgotten, or only live in the memory of older people.

A Sone.

*'Twas a fine hunting day, and as balmy as May, And the hounds to the village did come. Every friend will be there, and all trouble and care Will be left far behind us at home. See servants and steeds on their way, And sportsmen their scarlet display, Let's join the glad throng that goes laughing along, And we'll all go out hunting to-day.


So we'll all go out hunting to-day, All nature looks balmy and gay, Let's join the glad throng that goes laughing along, And we'll all go out hunting to-day.

Farmer Hodge to his dame, says ' I'm sixty and lame., Times are hard and my rent I can't pay, But I don't care a jot if I raise it or not, For I must go out hunting to-day.

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There's a hare in yon planting they say, Let us find her and get her away, I'll be first up yon hill, and be in at the kill,

_ For I must go out hunting to-day.'-CHoORUS.

See the doctor in boots with a breakfast that suits, Of strong home-brewed ale and good beef, His patient in pain, says 'I've called once again To consult you in hope of To the poor he advice gives away, To the rich he prescribes and takes pay, But to all of them said ° You will shortly be dead, If you don't go out hunting to-day.'-CHoRrUs.

Then the judge sits in Court, and gets wind of the sport For the lawyers apply to adjourn ; And no witnesses come, there is none left at home, They have followed the hounds and the horn, Says his Worship ° great fines they shall pay If they will not our summons obey, But 'tis very fine sport, so we'll break up the Court, And we'll all go out hunting to-day.'-CHoRUs.

Then the village bells chime, there's a wedding at nine, And the parson unites the fond pair, But when he heard the sweet sound of the horn and the hounds, And he knew 'twas his time to be there, Says he 'for your welfare I'll pray, And regret I no longer can stay, You are safely made one, I must quickly be gone, For I must go out hunting to-day.'-CHorus.

None are left in the lurch, for all friends of the Church With beadles, and clerks, and all they Are determined to go, and shout ' Tally-ho " And the bell-ringers joined in the rear, With bridegrooms and brides in array ; Each one to the other did say, 'Let's join the glad throng that goes laughing along, And we'll all go out hunting to-day.'-CHxorus.

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1859- 60


- There's only one cure for all maladies sure That reaches the heart to its core, That's the sound of the horn on a fine hunting morn, And where is the heart wishing more ® It turneth the grieved into gay, Makes pain unto pleasure give way, Makes the weak become strong, and the old become

young, So we'll all go out hunting to-day."-CHoRuUs.

According to an extract from the diary of Rev. Robert Meeke, which will be found in another part of the history, foot-racing was a popular sport on Sundays in Honley in the year 1689. The sport long continued, races generally taking place upon highways during the last century. Often the landlords of public-houses organized races, offering a copper- kettle as a prize. As tea was a prohibited luxury in most homes at the time of the " hungry forties," copper kettles were of no use only as ornaments or heirlooms. As time went on, foot-racing was brought more into the line of recognised sport for the success of which a special training was required. Mr. Joseph Haigh, landlord of the " George and Dragon " Inn, converted the large cricket field, previously named, into one of the finest tracks in the country for foot-racing. This was about 1859 or 1860, when foot-racing was in full swing in the neighbourhood. Celebrated running athletes from all parts of the country competed on the track, and many were trained in the village. A running champion was as much an object of hero-worship as a present-day football or cricket celebrity. (Great crowds came from all parts to witness the contests for victory on the track, and large sums of money were wagered. Like as at present in the present popular game of football, the younger generation imitated the older in their sports. The ambitious of many youths at that period took the form of excelling in running, and strenuous self-training was the order of the day. Money was spent in buying pumps and drawers in place of footballs and jerseys as at present. Advantage

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was taken of each spare hour to practise running with perhaps beneficial results to health in after years when youthful fever for training had run its course.

Amongst celebrated runners fifty years ago, was Arthur Boothroyd, of Honley, a steady youth belonging to an old clothing family whose grandfather is mentioned as carrying his piece of cloth to Manchester, under the heading of the staple trade of the district.. A challenge went forth to the world for-" Hather" as he was locally named to run for a mile any other athlete at the same age. This was not taken up, so that his powers at that age remained unchallenged. He however retired early from the track on account of his objections to the large sums of money wagered upon his performances, only running for the love of the game. There were other well- known runners who were either trained in Honley or ran upon its race-course. Their names fifty years ago were household words to sportsmen of a past day, notably John Neary, James Nuttall, William Lang, who for a long number of years held the world's record as the half-mile champion,. and others of lesser note.

When Mr. William Brooke purchased the " George and Dragon " Inn, in 1864, for the purpose of closing the racing- track, another was opened at Oldfield by Mr. Joseph Haigh, the landlord. This did not long continue. (See history of Oldfield).


Whippett, or Snap-racing as it is locally named, is a working- man's recreation in the North, where the sport has flourished

over one hundred years. Formerly it was a popular Saturday afternoon's recreation in Honley, and we had at one time many celebrated Whippett-racing dogs. As Yorkshire sportsmen are

proud to recall past winners of the St. Leger, so many in more humble walks of life love to speak of past performances of a Dick or Nance which covered the ground in such a time, and which they trained with much patience and self-sacrifice.

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This breed of dog generally termed a " running dog," was produced originally from a cross between an English greyhound and an Italian greyhound ; possessing the swiftness and stamina of the former, with the slender limbs and fine beauty of the latter. These dogs wearing muzzles to prevent them picking up objectionable food, and protected by covering on account of tender delicacy of skin, were familiar in Honley streets when being trained. An important person for the success of the sport was the " slipper," or the man who holds the dog for the purpose of sending it off at the right moment. The loss of half a yard by bad "slipping" means much to working men who have probably backed their own or neigh- bour's dog to win large stakes. Sport has developed more modern outlets upon which time and money is now spent. I do not think that Whippett-racing is so eagerly followed as fomerly, when large sums of money depended upon the slender limbs of these dogs.


Cock-fighting, like Bull-baiting, was a National sport until declared illegal by law. After being thus prohibited, the pastime was long carried on secretly in Honley as in other places. I can recall mains being fought at early dawn upon Honley Moor, and other isolated places in our township. Game- cocks with deliberate walk, menzcing feet, and alert suspicious eyes of the old fighting breed were common, for the sport died hard upon our hill-sides.


Pigeon-flying was also a working man's recreation in Honley. This has now become a fashionable hobby, and the old name of " flying " is changed to " Homing."

We had also other popular sports. Many sports now witnessed at out-door Agricultural Shows are only repetitions of older forms of amusement once common amongst us ; cycle and automobile competitions taking the place of foot and horse-racing.

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Many of our games which older people associate with youthful years date back to Anglo-Saxon times. A fourteenth century M.S. represents a lady and gentleman playing at draughts. The game of checks dates as far back as 1599. One day I was surprised to hear a young lady declare that she had never heard about checks, though born in the place. This old game, which requires practice and skill, is as follows:-throw the four checks down, bounce the pot-ball or marble as it is named, gather up first one check, then two, next three, and lastly all four, catching marble at same time. We did not require our finger nails cut and manicured in those days. Kneeling down on cold stone flags, causeways, etc. the stone performed that office for us when sweeping up in triumph the last four checks and bouncing marble. Dominoes, nine-pins, whipping-top,

knur and spell, hand-ball, blindman's-buff, battledore, etc.,

are all old games. One children's game named " Johnny Ringo," has been in use over 100 years. It is as follows :-

'* Johnny, Johnny Ringo, Who goes about me Oh ! Nobody but poor Johnny, Don't steal all mi sheep, No more I will, no more I may, Steal, and steal em all away, One by one, two by two, And away wi thee."

Another old game is named " Black-thorn."

One cries out-" Black-thorn." The other replies-'" New Milk and Barley-corn." The question-" How many sheep have you to-day ? " The answer-" More than you can catch and carry away.'"

Many other old familiar games and their ditties could be recalled, which renew their life in each younger generation.

OLp LANDMARKS. I often feel regret that many old landmarks of Honley should

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have been carelessly given cver to destruction without any effort being made for their preservation, or even to keep a record of their history.


The houses in Thirstin, known as Victoria Place, now occupy the site of the old Workhouse which was demolished over 50 years ago. Previous to that old erection, there had been a build- ing of some kind standing upon the site. The first mention that I can find of this Workhouse is that on February 8th, 1703. a town's meeting was held empowering the Chapelwarden and Overseer to repair the gates and building. Evidently there were no master or mistress appointed, Poor Laws at that time being in a continual state of change. The next interesting event was, that an advertisement was ordered to be sent to the " Leeds Mercury " inviting applications for the post of Master and Mistress. It was also decided that the inhabitants of Crosland should join with Honley for the purpose of carry- ing on the building in future as a regular Workhouse under control of Honley Chapelwarden and Overseer, Crosland at that period being under Honley with regard to its civil and religious affairs. This building was in use until 1763, when a new erection was contemplated. In an old agreement, dated December 3rd, 1763, made between Chapelwarden and Over- seer and William Booth and William Pogson, the two latter undertook the work. It is interesting to note the value of labour and material at that date. The following is a copy of the old agreement :-

''That the said William Booth and William Pogson shall erect a building in Thirstin in the manner and form following, viz :-The same wideness of the old building and to roof with the same, and in length hollow eight yards four, three lights windows in the lower room, one yard six inches high, and one foot six inches wide each light, and to be arched over with brick in the inside and four windows in the upper rooms, one fire-place in each room, the low room firestead to be four feet wide, and the chamber to be thirty inches wide to be run up the rig, and that they, the said William Booth and William

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Pogson, shall find all materials except bricks, paving, slate and scaffolding, lime and mortar, and to sample in workmanship the house of George Batley, and to finish and complete the same in or before the 24th day of June next ensuing-for and in consideration of the sum of fifteen pounds, five shillings.

William Williams. ) - Matthew Haigh, | Chapelwarden

James Thornton. j James Armitage, i & Overseer. The site for this old Workhouse was given to the town by the Lord Dartmouth of that day, and it sufficed for the needs of Honley poor until the Poor Law Authorities altered the old state of affairs, and the present Workhouse at Deanhouse was erected. My earliest recollection of the old Workhouse was of a low and plain stone building with small windows, white- washed outside, and enclosed by a high wall. I have also a vivid remembrance of its once noted inmates. The township had to keep its own poor in those days, and the inhabitants looked upon the inmates in the light of dependent children. At the worst, the paupers generally received " more half-pence than kicks." The capable and willing had encouragement and help, whilst the hopeless and infirm were treated with indulgence and tolerance. The able-bodied male inmates, or those, to quote a local saying, who were " strong i'th back and weak i'th head " had to work in return for food and shelter. Dressed in the then recognised garb of corduroy trousers and velveteen coats, they swept or scraped up mud from the roads which at that time was plentiful ; or in other ways worked for the township. Labour not being restricted, many carried water from the wells to private houses after work-hours to earn pocket-money. Those who were able, attended Sunday service in Church, and sat in rather conspicuous seats which at that time were underneath the " three-decker pulpit."

There are persons in Honley who can recall the " characters " who once found shelter in the old Workhouse, and who con- sidered themselves no small fractions of the community. Many laid proud claims to special deformities of body, or were dis- tinguished by oddities of speech and manner from which they were generally named-their surnames being forgotten. There

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was Joe " Sprod," whose immortal sentence of " say we then," will be found in " Characteristics Sayings of Honley." From year end to year end, Joe demanded his penny per week from friends he patronised by his attentions, with an extra demand for holidays. Joe absolutely refused to receive any sum either more or less than a penny. There were old Waterloo soldiers who were in a perpetual state of war with officials, unable even behind Workhouse walls to lay aside military ardour. A few cherished a malignant hatred towards us children, looking upon us as enemies who might with advantage be destroyed. - Harry " Bow-wow," " Dog Ben," " Deaf Nathan," etc., also claimed their older friends and younger tormentors in the village. Then we older people all remember harmless ** Charlie," or " Charlie 0° owd Mallys " who " cowled " the roads with melancholy caution befitting a man who only received " meat for work.'' There were others also, whose stagnant depths could be aroused either to vindictive alertness at fancied injuries, or assume airs of innocence in expectation of coming good. We had also feminine inmates of varied characters, one noted Sallie being often in disgrace on account of increasing the birth-rate more than was desirable in her walk of life. Another with militant tendencies was always in a state of chronic insurrection. I can recall to memory one who had twitching muscles combined with a scarred face, who delighted in behaving badly in Church, often saying " Amen " at the wrong time, or making faces at us children to our great delight. She had a sister who, as if conscious of her inferiority, was always ready to drop the humble curtsey. There was also a well-known feminine character who when given sixpence for being " soft," quickly exclaimed that she had also a sister who was " soft."

At that time there were no evening services held in Church as at present, candles being the only illuminating power. Sunday evening services took place in the old Workhouse, which were well attended, and much valued by the most intelligent inmates who were unable to attend services in Church. The Workhouse services continued to be held for many years,

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