Saturday, 9 January 2021

Walk the Cleveland Way – in 1866

An ideal trip back in time for anyone planning to walk the Cleveland Way when lockdown is over, or for people who know it well.  Actually, this isn't actually the whole Cleveland Way but only a section of it.  It's an account written in 1866 of a two day walking holiday along the coast from the newly-built and select resort of Saltburn by the Sea to the ancient town of Whitby.  The writer, who styles himself J.G. (in those days, newspaper articles were anonymous), is drawn by the prospect of a hearty walk and the scenery, but it's the industry and geology that really capture his attention:

Yorkshire Gazette, 14 July 1866

A visit to the Sea Cliffs of Cleveland

The Yorkshire sea coast is upwards of 100 miles in extent, and is, more or less, interesting to the tourist.  The coast of the East Riding begins at Spurn Head, and ends near Filey, and that of the North Riding from near Filey to the Tees mouth, near Redcar.  Desirous of spending a couple of days on the sea coast, and of seeing some of the ironstone districts of Cleveland, about which much has been said, we happened to look into a little book styled North Yorkshire by John Gilbert Baker, lately published, and at page 148 it is stated 

Now that the railway runs to Saltburn on the one side, and to Whitby on the other, this grand sweep of craggy coast is brought within the range of easy access to tourists, and it is to be expected that it will be more visited, and become better known than it has been.

The tide is often inconvenient for paying a visit to the crags from below, and to skirt their upper edge necessitates 

a good deal of rough scrambling, but to those who are able to make it, and who care for either magnificent scenery or geology, the walk between Saltburn and Whitby will richly repay the exertion.

Here is the very tract of country mapped out for a two days' trip, embracing in its range everything that is requisite for healthy exertion and for a general knowledge of the ironstone strata of the Cleveland hills.

The train which left York at 6 a.m. arrived at Saltburn at 9.30 on Tuesday, the 26th of June.  The Zetland Hotel, not far from the station, was built by the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company at a cost of £30,000, and on each side, with a southern front, are built rows of handsome lodging houses and shops and detached villas.  On the sands were ten bathing machines, and besides the usual comforts of a popular sea-bathing town, there is the two mile romantic walk of Skelton Glen, the entrance to which is opposite the beautiful range of lodging houses.

Zetland Hotel today
by Donnylad, licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

Thursday, 24 December 2020

The Vassal Singers in Nunthorpe before the First World War

This was written many years ago by Kay Hill (1905-2005).  I think it must have appeared in some publication but I don't know which.  She lived with her parents and two elder brothers at Red Croft (now 113 Guisborough Road) in the little hamlet called Nunthorpe Station.

Katharine Stubbs c1914

The Vassal Singers

They were known throughout the North Riding as the Vassal Singers, although they chanted rather than sang, and learned writers spelled the word "wassail".

They came every November, a group of boys and girls, aged between five and fifteen years old, carrying a deep, oblong, cardboard box containing a doll tucked up in bed.

I saw them first when I was six years old and never forgot the doll.  She had a china face and blue staring eyes that never closed.  Her head was on a pillow and her body covered with a counterpane of white cotton sprinkled with faded flowers, probably a scrap of material from a well-washed summer frock.

They chanted, rather than sang, on one note in our broad, delightful North Riding dialect that so clearly reflects a Scandinavian origin.  The verse, as my mother taught it to me afterwards, went, as I remember, something like this:

God bless the Maister of this hoose
And the Mistress alsaw.
And all the pretty childer
As round your table gaw.
And all your kith and kindred
As dwells both far and near.
We wish you a Merry Kissimuss
And a Happy New Year.

We gave them pennies and biscuits, cakes and apples.  My mother told me I must always keep up the custom, as she had heard that townspeople coming into the village were turning them away unkindly, believing them to be carol singers arriving far too early, just a nuisance.

They never came again after the First World War and I am told that the name of the leader, a shy, gangling boy, is alongside that of my brother on the village War Memorial.

I was enchanted by the word "Kissimuss" and taught it to my brothers when they came home from school for Christmas, until it became a family word that I am quite capable of using to this day.

I wish you a Merry Kissimuss and a Happy New Year.


Saturday, 12 December 2020

Runswick: a tale of landslips – and the cholera of 1866

The cliffside village of Runswick Bay 
[Photograph by mattbuck, reproduced under Creative Commons licence]
Runswick (the 'w' in the name is silent) lies on the coast a few miles north of Whitby.  Much loved for holidays and days at the seaside, to our sight it offers a charming view of red-roofed cottages nestling under the cliffs of a sandy bay.  But it was only after public taste changed with the Romantic Movement that it began to be considered pretty – and its existence, and the lives of its inhabitants, were for centuries very precarious, not just because of the dangers of the sea but also from the unstable shale cliffs ...  

Here we have the antiquarian Ralph Thoresby, F.R.S., (1658-1725) on a northern journey in the last years of the reign of Charles II – the sight of moorland in November is not one to cheer his heart, and his account reminds us that Roseberry Topping had a long while to go before it would acquire its famous profile:

Mon 13 November 1682

Morning up pretty early; ferried over the river at Stockton, thence to Acklam, where Sir William Hustler has a pretty seat, thence through a blind cross-road, to Marton, a church-town, and thence over the bad moors to Gisborough, famous for a stately abbey ... 

thence over the rotten Moors for many miles without anything observable; the sea at a small distance upon the left; and upon the right hand, hills, whereof a round one, called Roseberry Topping, is a mark for sailors; within a few miles of Whitby, we passed not far from Runswick, the place where, near by the sea-side, stood a little village of six or ten houses the last spring, of which I find from credible persons, the report we had of its being swallowed up of the earth, too true, though blessed be God, all the inhabitants were saved, they happening to be at a kind of wake (as the old manner is) at the house of a person immediately deceased, where observing the earth to crack and gape, made all their escape; shortly after which, the chinks grew suddenly wide, and the houses fell into the gulf. 

On the right hand we left Moulgrave [Mulgrave] Castle, that ancient fabric, and passed through Lith [Lythe], a pretty country town; thence over the Sands to Whitby. [1]

I think the original little village of Runswick stood a little to the north of the village today, which is described here by the Revd John Graves in his History of Cleveland (1808), who quotes from the 18th century naturalist and antiquarian Thomas Pennant [2]

Runswick ... is situated near the sea, and consists of a few scattered huts, inhabited by fishermen, and grouped irregularly together on the declivity of a steep and rugged rock; the projecting top of which juts forward in an awful manner and threatens at some future period to overwhelm the inhabitants.  The situation of the place is singular and must excite the curiosity of strangers; when in winding along the narrow paths between the houses,  they may on one side enter the door of one dwelling, and from thence look down the chimney of another in front.  Pennant observes that, 

"the houses here make a grotesque appearance, scattered over the face of a steep cliff in a very strange manner, and fill every projecting ledge one above another, in the same manner as those of the peasants in the rocky parts of China."  

The houses are sheltered on the north and north-west, and command a pleasing prospect into the bay, which is upwards of a mile in extent, – with Kettleness alum-works about a mile to the north-east.  The lower part of the town is almost choaked with sand, which fills up every passage; and in wet weather is dirty and unpleasant.

The Revd Graves was rather behind the times – for sensibilities formed by the Romantic Movement, Runswick could only be described as picturesque.  By the 1830s the village was becoming beloved of artists and tourists.  Some enterprising person, seeing commercial possibilities, decided to build a hotel at the Bank Top, equipped with all mod. cons. including a Water Closet.  

I wonder if it was completed on the generous scale originally intended and if it was initially as successful as predicted in the advertisement below; in the early years it changed hands with some frequency.  In the early 1860s it was run by a Mr Ivison, but in 1865 Mrs Wardale took it over.  It evidently looked an attractive prospect to people coming from outside because by the time of the 1871 census, George Marshall from Nottingham had taken it on.  He and his family had been in Felixkirk near Thirsk three years earlier – that was where his little daughter had been born.  By 1877 the Marshalls had gone and William Brown from Loftus had the hotel; he was still there in 1891.  

In the spring of 1860 the still unfinished hotel was up for sale:

Yorkshire Gazette, 21 April 1860 
All that New, Commodious, and Delightfully-situated Inn, known as the Albert Hotel, situate at Runswick Bank Top, in the Parish of Hinderwell, in the County of York, lately occupied by Jonathan Ramshaw.  This Property comprises a good Front Kitchen, Back Kitchen, Wash-House, Roomy Bar, Smoke Room, Commercial Room, Private Rooms, an excellent suite of Bed Rooms, Water Closet, Attics, Coach-house, Stabling, and all other suitable Out-Offices. 

Although the Premises are not entirely completed, they are in such an advanced stage that, with the bright prospect of an increasing Business, a Purchaser may confidently rely on his Purchase-Money with any small additional outlay being amply secured.

This is one of Mrs Wardale's advertisements:

Whitby Gazette 3 November 1866

The Sheffield (late Albert) Hotel, Runswick Bank Top 

Is delightfully situated, amidst the most romantic scenery of the Yorkshire Coast, and is fitted up with every comfort for the reception of Tourists and Visitors.  It is modern and very commodious, and the utmost attention and quiet may be relied upon.  Mrs Wardale, Proprietress.

The hotel was highly praised by one J.G., in an account in the Yorkshire Gazette of 14 July 1866 of the walking holiday he had taken along the coast:

as the accommodation is good and the charges moderate, it is desirable to remind the future tourists that there did not appear to be a house on the coast at which to stay where cleanliness, and civility, and comfort, and cheapness were to be had in combination so well as in this house.  Mrs Wardell is a widow, a middle-aged person, and has, so she said, lived in her early days with some of the aristocratic families in the west end of London.  The house was taken by her last year.  Persons desirous of enjoying the sea and the beautiful and romantic scenery in and around this locality cannot do better than secure accommodation here.

On the cliffside below the new hotel lay the thatched roofs of the village – the "town of Runswick" as the census enumerator described it in 1861 when he listed its inhabitants.  In 97 cottages, 430 people were living and there were four cottages standing empty.  The little low cottages would have blended into the cliff face, as they were all thatched (ling was used for thatching in moorland districts).  One thatched house has survived, the one that used to be occupied by the coastguard.

Roughly half of the population was aged 23 years and younger, which isn't surprising because it's only in recent years that the UK median age has risen to 40½.  (In 1911, it was 25 and it was 34 in 1975).  So Runswick was a place with many children.  Of the 430 people there, just 46 were aged 60 and over – and they included a 90 year old, who was the blind uncle of one of the fishermen.  

Like Staithes, further up the coast, Runswick was a self-contained and inter-related community with its own customs, superstitions and habits.  The name Calvert was by far the most the common surname in the village in 1861, followed by Patton, Taylor, Hutton, Beswick and Clark.  Its needs were served by a grocer & draper, four dressmakers and a tailor, two innkeepers, two joiners, three blacksmiths, and a painter who had been born in Chester.  

The vast majority of the population had been born in Runswick and the hundred or so people born outside the village were mostly from further along the coast or a little way inland, and some of those may have had family ties to the place.  The coastguards were appointed from outside the area – how could a local be trusted to deal with smugglers? – and in 1861 he was from Sheffield.  Of the Runswick-born who had left their birthplace, most had not gone many miles or had left for the towns of Stockton, Middlesbrough or Hartlepool.  And of course there were the Runswick-born men who were at sea.

The people of Runswick knew all too well the dangers of the sea.  In 1866, 650 lives were lost on average from shipwreck on the shores of the United Kingdom.  The likelihood of raising the funds for a lifeboat station at Runswick had looked remote – but then came an amazing offer from the people of Sheffield, who raised the money to donate a boat to the village.  It only remained to raise the money locally for its upkeep and for a boat house.  And so, in May 1866, 'The Sheffield' arrived in Whitby by train (carried for free by the railway companies) and was towed by the steamboat 'Rover' to its new home.  Mrs Wardale must have renamed her hotel in its honour.

The people of Runswick were tough and resilient.  For generations the men had been fishermen – at Runswick it was mainly the inshore fishery – and the women played a crucial role alongside them.  They had a hard life.  They got the bait, cleaned and baited the long lines, mended the nets, filleted the fish and packed it in salt.  They launched and hauled the cobles ashore and some of them carried heavy baskets of the catch to sell in outlying villages rather than to a dealer.  They fetched water from the beck and bread from the communal bakehouse, looked after the house and children and knitted for the family.  The children lent a hand alongside them.  

In 1861 there were 50 fishermen in the village and 5 men who described themselves as mariners, and they were all born in Runswick.  But alongside the fishing, mining – another dangerous occupation – was growing in importance and the men working in the mines were mostly from outside. 

There were ironstone mines a little way up the coast at Port Mulgrave.  At Kettleness, at the southern end of the bay, there were alum works which were still operating in the first part of 1866 but would close before long [3].  The jet works at Kettleness were certainly in operation only a few years before the 1861 census, because it was there in 1854 that a labourer at the jet works, Dalton Taylor, accidentally fell from the top of the cliff on to a piece of broken rock and was killed on the spot.  In 1861, 16 men worked in the ironstone mines and only one of them was born in Runswick.  Of the 18 men who worked as labourers, either at Port Mulgrave or Kettleness, 10 were Runswick-born men.

The sea, the mines, the precarious nature of Runswick's hold on the cliff edge – it isn't surprising to find that spiritual needs were not ignored.  As in Staithes, the villagers' independence of mind (and the Church of England's history of ignoring them) can be seen in their strong Nonconformism.  A Congregational Chapel was built in 1829, which had a Sunday School and a Day School – perhaps the 40 year old schoolmistress Miss Mary Agar from Danby, who lodged in the village in 1861, was the teacher there [4].  In 1854, a Primitive Methodist chapel was built.  The sand and lime together with 140 loads of stone had been carried to the site on the heads of the women of the village – which was how they carried heavy baskets of fish, mussels and baited lines, their heads protected by their distinctive bonnets – while the men had carted the heavier stone in handbarrows.  It was too steep for any horse and cart [5].  It became known as the High Chapel while the Congregational Chapel was the Low Chapel.

And it was among these strong and determined people that, in November 1866, an outbreak of cholera led to deaths – and then to a damning report on the state of the village.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Cholera: glimpses of the pandemics of the 19th century

In the 19th century, the usual yearly epidemics of frequently fatal infectious diseases in Britain were eclipsed by successive waves of a frightening newcomer: Asiatic Cholera.

It first arrived in 1831.  You can read about it in 'The year of the Cholera', Chapter 11 of Remarkable, but still True: the story of the Revd R J Barlow and Hutton Rudby in the time of the cholera .

There I describe how, in York, Dr Thomas Simpson and the surgeon J P Needham not only treated patients but also investigated the spread of cases.  They both believed cholera was contagious and Needham wrote a monograph on the subject in 1833, after the pandemic had subsided.  Dr Simpson, who thought it was an air-borne disease, published his Observations on the Asiatic Cholera: and Facts regarding the mode of its diffusion after the next pandemic, which happened seventeen years later in 1848.

In 1848, as in 1831, cholera was firmly associated with "nuisances" – sewage and filth – and it was still thought that it was the "unwholesome exhalations" and poisonous vapours from nuisances and decaying vegetable matter that spread the disease.  The theory may have been erroneous but the practice was helpful, because cholera is spread through water contaminated by faeces; this was the beginning of improvements in better drainage and public health.  

Cholera isn't easy to catch but without the correct treatment it is fatal in half the cases.  Nowadays it is treated by rehydration – which has to be begun without delay – and sometimes with antibiotics.  In the 19th century, careful nursing might pull a patient through but unfortunately doctors very often used purges and emetics on their patients, which would only have dehydrated them further.  

Meanwhile, there were plenty of advertisements for patent medicines.

William Hardcastle advertised his "Cure for Asiatic Cholera" and "Grand Preventive of Cholera" extensively in the Northern press.  Born in Sunderland, he had learned his trade as a chemist in Stockton-on-Tees and now had his own shop in Finkle Street – and I'm glad to say the interior of Hardcastle's is preserved at Beamish Open Air Museum (photographs here).  He was a man in his late thirties and evidently very enterprising.

At this time anxiety was all the greater because diarrhoea was thought often to precede cholera – of course there was a good deal of diarrhoea around – and it was believed that stopping diarrhoea would stop cholera developing.  William Hardcastle's advertisements proudly proclaimed that 

having witnessed the great mortality by Cholera which took place in Stockton, 17 years ago, when about 130 persons died in a very short time, Mr H. directed his earnest attention to discover some more efficient Preventive and Cure than were at that time employed, and has succeeded in compounding the "Diarrhoea Powders" and "Cholera Drops", which has rescued many from premature graves.  Their great efficacy has caused them to be so much esteemed in Stockton and the Neighbourhood, that the Proprietor has now made arrangements for extending their sale to other places.

The Drops could be sent by Post to any part of the UK on forwarding 12 Postage Stamps, and they cost a shilling and a penny halfpenny or two shillings per bottle.  I expect the chief ingredient was laudanum.

More useful in preventing cholera were products such as Sir William Burnett's Patent Disinfecting Fluid, which was advertised as "a deodorizing and purifying agent" and was a chloride disinfectant.  

When nothing seemed to help, the only answer was prayer:

York Herald, 22 September 1849

Cholera – The authorities of Middlesbro' have issued a notice to the inhabitants to set apart Friday, the 21st inst., as a day of humiliation and prayer to God to remove that desolating pestilence, the cholera, which has lately been so fatal in that place.

Then a third wave of cholera reached Britain in 1853.  It was at this point that Dr John Snow of London  (1813-58) demonstrated that cholera was a water-borne disease by removing the handle of the Broad Street pump.  He published his findings in his work of 1855, which drew upon the careful observations of Dr Thomas Simpson.  But it took many years for public health authorities to act to ensure a clean water supply and Snow had been long dead when the Chief Medical Officer for Health acknowledged the significance of his work.

We can see that keeping the streets clear of nuisances and encouraging better cleanliness was well established as a priority for the authorities:

York Herald, 15 October 1853

Cholera – On the 24th of Sept last, this devastating disease broke out in one of the low parts of Stockton, and since that period to the present time, 13 deaths have occurred, but all in that particular locality, which is said to be in a very indifferent state of drainage, and where many of the inhabitants are not of the most cleanly description.

In Darlington, the local board of health and the board of guardians held a joint meeting.  They decided to carry out the recommendations of the medical superintending inspector of the General Board of Health to set up a system of house to house visiting as the only effectual safeguard against the spread of the epidemic.  (This might remind us of recent events described in this story on the BBC News website in which Professor John Wright, Head of Bradford Institute for Health Research describes the work of the local test and trace teams, sending testers door to door in neighbourhoods with high rates of infection).  They resolved to employ more scavengers to clear away the nuisances, to set up a more general distribution of disintectants such as chloride of lime, and to supply water for free to the poorer districts, "in order that greater facilities for cleanliness might be afforded".   

And, then as now, there were plenty of conspiracy theories.  In some countries, the swiftness with which the disease spread led the people to think their water supply had been poisoned:

Huddersfield Chronicle, 2 September 1854

News has arrived in Palermo of the appearance of cholera in that city.  The Sicilians, it seems, are under the impression that the cholera is a poison which has been communicated by human means.  The people have surrounded the Governor's palace, and shouted "We will not have the cholera here!"  The Lord Lieutenant immediately issued orders prohibiting the people to speak of poison.  The city is in a very excited state.

In 1865 the cholera returned yet again to Britain.  

It reached Yarm on 8 October 1866 and when doctors Robert and Christopher Young, the town's medical officers, made their report on 13 November, they hoped they had seen the back of it.  There had been 23 cases of cholera, 12 of which were fatal, and 5 cases "approaching cholera", of which 2 were fatal. In the same period they had seen 87 cases of diarrhoea.  

A few days before cholera came to Yarm, it had already reached Hutton Rudby and Potto – but luckily not with the virulence of the 1832 outbreak, when there were 45 cases and 23 deaths at the east end of the village green:

York Herald, 6 October 1866

The Cholera – We regret to state that a fatal case of Asiatic cholera has just occurred at the small rustic hamlet of Potto, in the parish of Whorlton, near Stokesley.  Elizabeth Mary Cawthorn, the wife of a brickmaker, was attacked on Saturday afternoon last, and was visited the same night by Mr A A Boyle, assistant to Mr J H Handyside, surgeon, Stokesley, and he at once perceived that she was prostrated by a malignant attack of cholera.  Mr Handyside attended on the following morning, and Mr Boyle was present when she died on Sunday night, medical skill being of no avail.

Richmond & Ripon Chronicle, 13 October 1866

Thompson - On the 6th inst., at Hutton Rudby, Cleveland, of Asiatic cholera, aged 60 years, Mr George Thompson, brickmaker

Nearly twenty years and many cholera deaths later, people across the world were electrified to hear that the German scientist Dr Robert Koch and his team had discovered the "cholera germ".  

Dr Koch had carried out his researches in India.  This fact spurred Professor Edwin Ray Lankester (1847-1929) to write a trenchant criticism of the British government's approach to scientific research that appeared in, among other papers, the Pall Mall Gazette of 2 November 1883.  He was the son of Edwin Lankester (1814-74), surgeon, naturalist, the first public analyst in Britain, the first medically qualified coroner for Central Middlesex, a man who made a major contribution to the control of cholera in London.  So his son had, in a way, a family interest in the fight against the disease.  

He deplored the fact that
when a dire disease broke out in a country occupied by British troops, and, for the time being, controlled by the English Government, no steps were taken by that Government to initiate a thorough study of the disease in the light of modern science, but that, on the other hand, independent Commissions were sent to the plague-stricken country by the Governments of France and Germany for the express purpose of making the investigations which the English Government had omitted to set on foot.
The French and German scientists were from 
the State-supported laboratory of M Pasteur; they were his assistants and pupils.  The German Commissioners came from the Imperial Sanitary Institute of Berlin, the workers in which are drawn from the twenty-two State-supported laboratories of pathology which are scattered throughout the German Empire
Britain should be following the examples of France and Germany in training scientists and funding research bodies and laboratories like those in France and Germany.

By July 1884 the "discoverer of the cholera germ" Dr Robert Koch was known to everyone and admired by all.  The Pall Mall Gazette of 11 July 1884 noted that "in the last five years he has succeeded in identifying the germs of cattle disease, of consumption, and of cholera" – he was the benefactor of humanity.

Two years later, the Sanitary Congress – the annual meeting of the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain, founded in 1876 – was held in the Museum in York (now the Yorkshire Museum).  

The Leeds Mercury of 25 September 1886 carried a report of the proceedings.  The president, Mr William Whitaker, read a paper about water-supply in which he said two of the chief problems in sanitary matters were getting good water and getting rid of bad water.  Percy F Frankland, associate of the Royal School of Mines, spoke on the filtration of water.  They had known for many years that the real danger in sewage-contaminated water lay not in the organic matter to be found by analysis but in "the presence of minute living organisms, capable of producing zymotic disease".  Largely thanks to the genius of Robert Koch they now had "beautiful methods of bacteriological investigation" and this had enabled the great advance made in water purification.  Surgeon-Major Pringle described his system of collecting and storing rain and drinking water. Another debate clearly centred on the role of government.  Enforcement or education?  The West Riding County Surveyor, J Vickers Edwards, took what might now be called the libertarian approach to achieving "a healthy house", arguing that sanitary science would not progress through the actions of local authorities nor by legislation, but by educating people to act for themselves.  

Over the next fifty years the Sanitary Institute was to become the leading public health organisation in the UK, with a world-wide reputation.  It is now the Royal Society for Public Health.

Public health reform was truly on its way.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

George Bewick in Hutton Rudby

 If anybody has any information on the origins of the George Bewick who settled in Hutton Rudby in the mid-18th century, do let me know.  

I've been contacted by someone who'd very much like to have more information on the family.

The Bewicks first appear in the Hutton Rudby parish registers in 1760 with the baptism of Susannah, daughter of George, on 16 October 1760.  Then there is the burial of George Bewick on 20 March 1761.  

The relationships of these early Bewicks can't easily be disentangled, as can be seen from my original notes on the family which can be found here.  Women of the Bewick family appear in the baptismal registers of St Mary's Roman Catholic in Crathorne (see The Roman Catholic population of Hutton Rudby, c1780 to 1830)

A later George Bewick plays a major role in the story of the disappearance of William Huntley.  This George was a Wesleyan Methodist linen manufacturer in North End who was at the time Constable of Hutton township.  The newspaper account of the testimony at the trial of the accused murderer of Huntley reports what George Bewick actually said at the time – it is like overhearing a voice from the past.  The story can be found here in Chapter 6. 1830: Suspicions of Murder of my book Remarkable, but still True.

Do contact me using the Contact Me page on the blog if you would like to be contacted yourself – using Comments doesn't give me your email address.

Monday, 26 October 2020

About the picture of Guisborough Priory in an earlier post

 In a post from 2012 entitled Changing Guisborough market day: 1813, there is a picture of the priory and this is a message to Ben G, who asked in a comment if I had any information on that picture.  

I can't reply direct because messages that come to me from a comment don't have the writer's email!  I need a message to my email via the Contact Me section for that.

The answer, hoping that Ben finds this, is that it's a photograph of an old picture that I inherited and so I'm afraid I don't have any information.  Check one of the 19th century local histories and see if it's there?  Perhaps the Rev Graves' history?

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Hard labour & transportation to Tasmania: Northallerton, April 1841

Each one of these cases brings us a little glimpse of the past.  I think the information might also prove useful to family historians.

These are the details of people brought before the North Riding Sessions in Northallerton in April 1841 at the same time as John Dale, Simpson Adamson and Sarah Adamson.  The story of Dale and the Adamsons can be found in Frederick Cator's trunk goes missing.

You can see that prisoners were still convicted even when they abandoned the item they were trying to steal.  In young Henry Richardson's case, he threw back on the hedge the stockings that he had planned to steal, but when that charge was put together with a previous conviction for felony, it earned him 7 years' transportation.  And of course the felonies are all crimes against property, while the grandfather who tried to rape his little granddaughter was tried for a misdemeanour.

And what was "hard labour"?  The treadmill.  For a description of Northallerton Prison – the "Northallerton Hell" as the Chartists called it – see The Treadmills of Northallerton and the wikipedia description of the Penal treadmill.

From the Yorkshire Gazette, 10 April 1841


William Best (71) – charged with assaulting on 7 March at Thirsk Mary Ann Storey "a child only 8 years of age" with intent to commit a rape.  The prisoner is grandfather to the child.  2 years' hard labour


Jacob Granger (18) of Dalton – charged with having stolen a sovereign from G Robinson of Dalton, labourer.  1 month's hard labour.

Thomas Adamson (22) and George Stockton (39) – charged with having on 20 January stolen 2 pigs' heads, 8 pigs' feet, 7 hens and 1 cock, from a barn belonging to George Fawcit of Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre, farmer.  Adamson pleaded Guilty, Stockton Not Guilty.  Both 6 months in the House of Correction

John Carrol (24) of Middlesbrough – charged with having on 13 January stolen a shovel from a cart of manure belonging to Robert Barron of Middlesbro', cartman.  Carrol was seen working with the shovel on which was branded "R Barron".  Some time afterwards it was seen that the name was cut off the shovel, which Carrol still kept.  6 weeks' hard labour

Stephen Moody (15) – charged with stealing a sixpence and seven pennies from James Stewart, keeper of a beer-house in Middlesbrough.  Prisoner was caught by Stewart with the money in his hand.  The jury found him guilty but recommended mercy because "We think it is his first offence".  Chairman said he was afraid it was not.  Prisoner had been convicted of rioting in Middlesbrough the year before.  6 months' hard labour and to be once severely whipped.

Harriet Newill Horsley (18) – charged with stealing 9½ yards of printed cotton from Mary Easterby of Whitby.  Mary Easterby had bought some cotton of a travelling man and took it to Margaret Burton's house, who put it in a basket.  Harriet Horsley was there.  A few days afterwards Mary Easterby went to Mrs Burton's house but the cotton was gone.  Horsley told the constable that she had pawned it with James Appleby, where it was indeed found.  In her defence, and to the amusement of the court, she said repeatedly that there were nearly 10 yards, not 9½.  She said Mrs Burton had sent her to do it and had drunk some ale bought with the money.  1 month's hard labour

John Bennison (24) of Fryup – charged with having on 15 March stolen oats belonging to Mr W Keld Agar, farmer of Fryup, for whom he had worked.  Mr Agar had suspected thieving was going on, had kept watch and seen Bennison taking oats from the stable.  2 months' hard labour

Joseph Barker (22) of Great Smeaton – charged with stealing hay from Daniel Hossick Alderson of Linthorpe, gentleman on 24 February.  Alderson was a gentleman farmer living at Marsh House near Linthorpe (Marsh House Farm was demolished in about 1937).  Mr Alderson also occupied a farm at Great Smeaton.  The prisoner had a stable near Mr Alderson's cow-house, one of whose hinds (labourers) had suspected theft and had therefore marked a quantity of his master's hay with a stick. The hay was missed and found in the prisoner's stable, with the stick, and there were bits of hay strewn between the cow-house and the stable.  Prisoner said he'd bought it from a man from Osmotherley.  2 months' hard labour

John Hewison, out on bail – pleaded guilty to having stolen wheat from Mr Gordison, a respectable farmer living near Thirsk.  Mr Gordison had winnowed a quantity of wheat from the barn beside his house and on 8 January he took some wheat to Thirsk market.  One of his servants saw someone hiding a sack among some chaff which was in a stackyard.  The servant found the sack in which was some wheat.  In the evening they saw Hewison take the sack and begin to make off with it.  When challenged by Mr Gordison, he threw it down and ran off.  He was taken into custody a few days later.  1 month's imprisonment.

George Theasby, out on bail – pleaded guilty to stealing £3 19s 9d from Ann Sotheran of Newton-upon-Ouse near Easingwold.  Also charged with stealing £2 15s from her.  He was clerk and confidential servant to Mrs Sotheran, lime merchant at Newton, and the money had been paid to him on her account.  Sentence delayed.

Sarah Wilcox (40) of Rowton – pleaded guilty to stealing 1 iron chain, back band and other articles from William Fawcitt.  6 months' hard labour

John Batty (17) of Leeds – pleaded guilty to stealing 1 pair of boots belonging to Thomas Green of Mansfield, labourer, from a stable at Mansfield.  Batty was a chimney-sweep and had been called in by Green to sweep his chimney.  While the family weren't looking he took the boots from the stable where they were hung up.  1 month's hard labour

William Bradley (19) of Stokesley – charged with stealing a quantity of iron from the mill of James Blacket of Stokesley.  1 month's hard labour

Daniel Barker (52) and Daniel Barker the younger, of Appleton Wiske – charged with stealing 1 great coat, 1 horse's head brush and 1 pair of gloves from Robert Atkinson of Swainby, carrier.  Not Guilty.

Sarah Garth (41) and Jane Garth (13) both of Guisborough – charged with stealing lambs' wool yarn from John Smith of Guisborough, druggist.  Each to serve 1 month's hard labour

Henry Temple (57) of Borrowby – charged with stealing 8 bushels of barley and 2 sacks from Mr Thomas Rose, farmer of Boltby, who had put in his barn on 13 March 6 sacks, each containing 4 bushels of barley, slightly mixed with oats.  Next day 2 of them were gone.  In the road near Temple's house were the marks of a horse's feet matching the shoes of a horse in Temple's stable.  When Constable Little of Thirsk searched the house, he found the barley and also 2 sacks from which the marks had been cut out.  Also charged with having been convicted of a felony in Co Durham.  7 years' transportation
I haven't been able to find a record of Henry Temple arriving in Australia, so I wonder if he died on the voyage out.
Henry Richardson (16), late of Hutton Rudby – charged with stealing a pair of cotton stockings belonging to Thomas Sterling and a cotton shirt belonging to Joseph Coates of Thirsk.  The stockings had been washed and hung on a hedge to dry on 11 February.  A carrier saw Richardson take them off the hedge, roll them up and put them in his pocket but, seeing he was watched, throw them back on the hedge and run away.  Guilty.  Further charged with having been convicted of a felony at the last Sessions.  The prosecution then said that the charge of theft of the shirt would be dropped.  7 years' transportation.
This record in shows that Henry Richardson was taken from the hulks to the convict ship John Brewer, which set sail from Sheerness in December 1841 to Tasmania. We can see from the record in the that Henry said he was born in "Stously" workhouse (the old dialectal  pronunciation of Stokesley, often spelt Stowsla) and the details on show that he said he had no relations.   
His conduct record shows that he was 5 feet 5½ inches tall, with a fresh complexion, an oval face, brown hair and hazel eyes.  He could neither read nor write.  He had been convicted for vagrancy and theft, his character was "very bad" and the record shows he was in constant trouble in Tasmania.  It is a sad catalogue of solitary confinement and hard labour.  His record (see Image 164) shows he was again convicted of stealing and was sent to the harsh conditions of the penal settlement on Norfolk Island, where he was found dead on 30 October 1850.
Yorkshire Gazette 5 June 1841
On Wednesday morning, the following convicts were removed from York Castle in pursuance of their sentences, to be delivered on board the Fortitude hulk, Chatham.  For life, John Mitchell, and Wm Kenworthy.  For fourteen years, Wm Bean, George Sayers, and Joseph Day.  For ten years, Edwin Pinder, John Moore, John Scofield, and James Naylor.  For seven years, Henry Temple, Henry Richardson, Nathan Hart, Samuel Fletcher and George Taylor
This paper by Hamish Maxwell-Stewart and Rebecca Kippen is a fascinating study of Sickness and Death on Male and Female Convict Voyages to Australia