Saturday, 29 December 2018

An elaborate hoax at Stokesley, 1849

Somebody went to a great deal of trouble to set up this elaborate hoax against a local landowner.  I wonder what can have lain behind it ...

Darlington & Stockton Times, 17 February 1849
We love at heart a jest, but not at the expense of our neighbours: we hope that whoever may have concocted the following will soon find to their cost that it is "above a joke":- 
Last week letters were sent in the name of James Emerson, Esq., to Stockton, Guisborough, Northallerton and Thirsk, requesting the attendance of solicitors, physicians, surgeons, auctioneers, builders, cabinetmakers, and even undertakers, at Mr Emerson's house precisely at one o'clock, besides ordering an open carriage and four greys from the Vane Arms at Stockton, to convey from home Mr Emerson and his family.  The various parties arrived in good time, but only to learn their services were not required.  
We understand that Mr Emerson has, with his accustomed liberality, offered a reward of £100 to be paid on conviction of the offenders, and that a clue to their discovery has already been obtained.
I'm afraid I haven't been able to discover whether the culprit was found or why it happened at all.

Mr Emerson was a man of some importance and became even more prominent in the years that followed this incident.  

According to A History of the County of York North Riding (which can be found on the British History online website) his family had owned a considerable amount of land in the Stokesley area since the 18th century.  In 1853 James Emerson added to this by buying the manor of Easby, presumably from Robert Campion because according to White's Directory of 1840 
Rt Campion, Esq., of Whitby, is lord of the manor, and resides occasionally at Easby Hall, a neat modern mansion, standing near the site of the ancient hall, which was long the seat of the Lords Eyre or Eure, the last of whom died in 1698. 
The County History describes Easby in this rather lyrical vein:
The roads of Cleveland all meet at Stokesley. That running east from the town to Whitby comes after about 4 miles to the little village of Easby.  Here a small stream which flows north from Battersby joins the Leven, and between the two streams is the park surrounding Easby Hall, a large stone mansion built in the 19th century, and the seat of Mr. John James Emerson.  The old manor-house of the Eures was on the other side of the stream, where it is commemorated by Castle Hill, on the summit of which is a memorial to Captain Cook, who was born and educated in this neighbourhood. 
On the outskirts of the park, across Otter Hills Beck, is a private chapel built in 1881 by the late Mr. James Emerson and maintained at his own expense. A little to the west is the Methodist chapel.
At much the same time James Emerson bought the manor of Kirkby-in-Cleveland from Mr John Hindson (the entry in British History online can be found here)

And that is why on 15 April 1854 these notices could be found in the York Herald:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that at the Court Leet and View of Frankpledge, together with the Court Baron of JAMES EMERSON, Esquire, Lord of the Manor of Easby in Cleveland, in the County of York, to be holden on MONDAY, the 24th day of APRIL, in the year 1854, the Boundaries of the MANOR OF EASBY will be perambulated; and that such perambulation will commence at the Bleach Mill, within the said Manor, belonging to the said James Emerson, and in the occupation of Benjamin Claxton, and proceed from thence along the midstream of the River Leven, in a South-East direction to the Boundaries of the Manor of Kildale, at ELEVEN o'clock in the Forenoon of the same day, and proceed from thence round the Moor.
Steward of the said Manor.
Stokesley, April 8th, 1854
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that the Court Leet and Court Baron of JAMES EMERSON, Esquire, Lord of the Manor of Kirkby, otherwise Kirby, in Cleveland, in the County of York, will be holden on TUESDAY, the 25th day of APRIL, 1854, at the MANOR HOUSE, in KIRBY aforesaid, at TWELVE o'Clock at Noon, when all Inhabitants, Resiants [sic], and Freehold Tenants within the said Manor, and others who owe suit and service at the said Courts, or either of them, are required to be and appear, at the time and place aforesaid, then and there to do and perform the same.  Dated this 8th day of APRIL, 1854.
Steward of the said Manor.
Stokesley, April 8th, 1854
John Page Sowerby was a Stokesley solicitor.  I think he was probably the solicitor mentioned here, who as a young man found himself increasingly anxious at the conduct of his partner Robert Brigham.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Ploughing with horses – how to do it

If you've ever seen on television a programme in which someone is struggling to plough with horses and wondered how people ever managed such an exhausting task – watch Maurice Atkinson talking to Malcolm McPhie on this video on the Hutton Rudby History Society Facebook page.

This is Malcolm's introductory note:
We are fortunate to live in a village surrounded by fields in all directions. Many of them require ploughing each year to prepare the ground for the next crop, a task that most would take for granted. Prior to WWII this activity was largely accomplished by horses and a ploughman.
This video is an interview with retired farmer, Maurice Atkinson (aged 91 on September 15th!) where I asked him to talk about learning to plough using horses.
In the interview he describes how his grandfather (Cooper Atkinson of Goslingmire Farm) spent an afternoon teaching him the necessary skills. The year was 1939 and Maurice was only 12 years old at the time.
Unfortunately we don’t have any photographs of Maurice working with horses, but have shown one of his father Eric W. Atkinson working with horses and one of Maurice in his teenage years working with a tractor.
Maurice, his father, and his grandfather were all prize winners at local ploughing and hedge cutting competitions.
In the second part of the video Maurice uses a scale model of a Ransome Plough to describe the complexities of setting one up correctly. He was a skilled blacksmith and welder and made the model himself.
We are lucky to have such in depth knowledge of farming in the 1930’s on our doorstep.
There should be no need to fight with a plough.  "A plough should run on its own," explains Maurice.  "It'll run on its own if it's set right."

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Local newspapers report the news of the Armistice in 1918

The North-Eastern Daily Gazette 12 November 1918
The rejoicings which began in Middlesbrough yesterday morning over the news of the armistice continued without interruption till nearly midnight and the town has seldom passed through fourteen hours of such joy.  In the afternoon the streets were a seething mass of humanity, and Linthorpe-road has seldom been so congested.  All the works were stopped by mid-day, and as the day wore on the neighbouring communities poured their thousands into the town to swell the huge crowds who had already congregated in the main thoroughfares.  Owing to restrictions of all kinds which could not be entirely removed with a wave of the hand, the illuminated display was not on such a scale of grandeur as might have been possible on an occasion of rejoicing in the halcyon days of peace; but the people did their best with the lights at their disposal, and the brighter streets were a pleasant reminder of a time which seemed almost to go down into the distant past.  The sky was lit up at intervals by the pyrotechnic display, and the jubilant note which prevailed throughout seemed to be well controlled.  In the days to come when Middlesbrough spreads its wings it will probably be better able to accommodate such huge crowds on a day of national rejoicing, but it may never again have an occasion when the circumstances so thoroughly justified such an explosion of pent-up exuberant patriotic feelings. 
In the long history of Stockton there have been many enthusiastic gatherings in the High-street opposite the Town Hall, but never one so large and so lively - and yet well behaved - as assembled yesterday afternoon when the Mayor and a number of other public men delivered short speeches of congratulation upon the great event of the day.  The band of the Bowesfield Ironworks played, and the people, with all their hearts, and with all the powers their lungs could give, sang the National Anthem, and then sent up cheer after cheer for the King.  "It is a memorable occasion, an occasion which has never before occurred in the history of the country," said the Mayor (Alderman J Harrison) "and we rejoice in it.  After four years of terrible war we have broken the terrible German menace, and we are confident that we have broken it in such a way that Germany will never again be able to make war.  This is not yet a declaration of peace, but we thank God that the armistice has been signed, and that we can see the end of the war."  
There followed loud cheers, and with cheers were also greeted the other speeches in the High-street, Stockton.  Alderman Bainbridge said we had fought a good fight, and won, and he hoped that everyone would feel the responsibility of doing his or her share in the work of reconstruction which lay before the country.  "Whilst," said Alderman Nattress, "we rejoice in victory, and whilst we think of those men who have won the final victory, let us not fail to remember those who have fallen on our behalf."  "It is a victory for the forces of democracy and freedom over autocracy and militarism," said Councillor Bollands.  Councillor W Reed said in the great fight we had proved that might is not right, but that right is right, and that the God of Righteousness had been on our side.  Councillor I Robson and the Vicar of Stockton also addressed the gathering, and the company broke up with the singing of the National Anthem.  Similar proceedings took place from the balcony of the Town Hall, Thornaby. 
A solemn Te Deum will be sung at All Saints' Parish Church, Middlesbrough, tonight at 3pm, in thanksgiving for the end of the war. 
During the afternoon yesterday, the No 1 South Bank Boys' Brigade paraded South Bank, calling the people to a United Thanksgiving service at the Wesleyan Church.  There a good and representative company, which was presided over by the Rev M P Evans, President of the Free Church Council, and addressed by the Revs H W Pates, J Rutherford, C Allwright, and Councillor Vaux.  National hymns were sung, and the thanksgiving of the assembly voiced by Councillor T Bosher, Mr T Peacock, and others.  It is intended to continue the rejoicing on Sunday evening next in the Baptist Tabernacle.

The Yorkshire Post carried reports of rejoicing across the region, including

The Yorkshire Post, 12 November 1918
Cheering soldiers were in great evidence at Richmond, and at the Market Cross there was a great crowd, where, on the motion of the Mayor, it was decided to send a message of congratulation to Marshal Foch, Sir Douglas Haig, and the Prime Minister.  At Catterick Camp a general holiday was proclaimed 
At Whitby the band of the Hunts, Cyclist Battalion paraded the town, and the gaily decorated streets were thronged with happy people.  
There were scenes of intense enthusiasm at Darlington, but happily unmarked by any touch of rowdyism.  

Remembrance at Nunthorpe

At Nunthorpe, impressive displays by the Nunthorpe and Marton Knitters remember the fallen of the Wars and the suffering of children and animals.  This photograph from the Nunthorpe Working Together Facebook page shows the display near the War Memorial.

Midshipman Duncan Stubbs is commemorated on that Memorial.  His story can be found here.  And here is a photograph of his father's horse Jess, one of the many horses who died during the First World War, can be found here

Duncan's father Thomas Duncan Henlock Stubbs built the Red House on Church Lane, Nunthorpe and the family lived there for many years.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Joseph Skelton, grocer & draper of Hutton Rudby in 1830

Perry's Bankrupt Gazette, 13 February 1830
To Trustees for the equal benefit of Creditors, pursuant to 6th Geo. IV. cap. 16, sec. 4 
SKELTON Joseph, (Dec. 14) of Hutton, near Rudby, Yorkshire, grocer & draper.  Trustees, F Richardson, of Stokesley, gent. and R Tate, of Easby, farmer.  Sol[icitor]. Mr [William] Garbutt, Stokesley
Perry's Bankrupt Gazette, 26 February 1831
Insolvents applying to be discharged 
Court-house, York, for the county, 11th March, at eleven.
CATCHASIDES James, jun. of Hutton Rudby, near Stokesley, genl. shopkpr. late of Ormesby, near Guisborough, out of business
CATCHASIDES James, senior, of Hutton Rudby, near Stokesley, Yorkshire, publican and blacksmith 
The Joseph Skelton who went bankrupt in 1830 must have been the husband of Elizabeth ("Betty") Catchasides, whose father and brother applied for their discharge in 1831.  Clearly times were hard in Hutton Rudby in those years.

Joseph and Betty had married on 3 August 1826, when she was about 42 years old.  She was the daughter of the elderly couple, James & Grace Catchasides, who kept the Bay Horse Inn at the top of Hutton Bank, beside her father's smithy.

Betty, her father, mother and brother all died in the first week of the cholera outbreak in Hutton Rudby. 

For the full story of the year of the cholera and what happened to the unfortunate Catchasides, go to this post from 2012, where you will find the relevant chapter of my book Remarkable, but still True: the story of the Revd R J Barlow and Hutton Rudby in the time of the cholera.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Midshipman John Duncan Stubbs (1899-1914)

This was written for the archives of the Live Bait Squadron Society.  

John Duncan Stubbs (always known as Duncan) was born on 24 June 1899 at Coatham on the North Yorkshire coast.  

When he was eight years old, his family moved inland to the rural hamlet of Nunthorpe Station, south of the industrial town of Middlesbrough where his father was in practice as a solicitor.  Coatham remained a familiar place; his grandparents lived there and in May 1909, when he was nearly ten years old, Duncan left the care of the governess who had taught him at home with his younger brother and became one of eleven pupils boarding at Coatham Grammar School.

By that time he had already decided that he wanted to join the Navy.

Duncan’s parents could live very comfortably on his father’s professional income – this was a time when food was cheap and domestic staff plentiful – but their finances needed careful management.  His father, Thomas Duncan Henlock Stubbs (also always known as Duncan), and mother, Margaret Isobel Buchannan (“Madge”), herself the daughter of a solicitor, had three children.  Duncan was their eldest.  His brother Hugh was nineteen months his junior, born a week before the death of old Queen Victoria, and their sister Katharine was born in 1905.  Duncan and Madge were anxious to do their best for the children.  They must have found little Duncan’s ambition a source of pride and some relief; fees for the Royal Naval Colleges were subsidised by the government and were not as high as those charged by the public schools.  This would be an ideal way of educating the boy and providing him with a career.  His younger brother’s future would have to depend on getting scholarships.

Madge & Duncan Stubbs
with Duncan, Katharine & Hugh

After two years at Coatham Grammar School, Duncan was sent in January 1911 to Pembroke Lodge, a preparatory school at Southbourne on the south coast.  His parents probably thought this would better prepare him for the Selection Committee and the entrance examination for the Royal Navy College Osborne.  He passed these hurdles in February 1912; after his death the private secretary to the First Sea Lord wrote that Duncan 
“was quite one of the best boys that ever came before the Selection Committee for Osborne & his progress at the two Colleges had only confirmed the good opinion we had formed of him.”  
Duncan Stubbs c1914

Duncan was a confident, lively boy, much liked, good at his schoolwork and excellent at sports.  At home, he led his brother and sister in fun and mischief in their rather hazardous games in the ponds and woods beside their home.  He loved the family dogs and country sports, and he and his brother and their friends were to develop a passion for motorbikes, after having been allowed to borrow the one owned by Gerald Cochrane, a close family friend.

He entered RNC Osborne in May 1912.  At the end of his first year he was one of the four boys, out of seventy, to be promoted cadet captain.  At the end of his second year he came out head of the list, being presented with the prize for the highest aggregate of marks, including seamanship and engineering.

Centre: Duncan Stubbs
Right: Geoffrey Gore-Brown

That winter his parents found the money to send him on a holiday to Switzerland; he had evidently been invited to join friends in winter sports at Klosters.  He enjoyed it enormously, sending a postcard to Gerald Cochrane asking him to persuade his father to let him have a go on the bob run:
“It is absolutely safe on the run we use but the people I am staying with will not take the responsibility.  [Added at the top of the postcard] You might put it v. gently”
He entered RNC Dartmouth in May 1914, a few weeks before his fifteenth birthday.  His grandmother sent him a postal order (“I will give your mother another five shillings to keep till you may require it later on”) and his father wrote, 
“I hope you will have a happy day and many happy and useful years.  You are beginning to get to an age not far removed from early manhood and you will meet new troubles and difficulties but if you face these squarely and are determined to stick to the right you will pull through alright.”
Duncan expected to go home on leave in early August and was longing to try out the motorbike that his father had recently bought.  The family expected him back on the 6th, but on 4 August they received a postcard from the college saying that Duncan had been sent to his war station at Chatham.  That evening, his father, an officer in the Territorial Army, received his own order to mobilise.  He and his Battery (the Northumbrian North Riding Heavy Battery) were posted to Tyneside, where he would be joined by Madge and the younger children within a few days, and he was promoted Major. 

Within a day or two, the family heard from Duncan.  The order to mobilise had arrived during a game of cricket, but everything was packed and down to the station in a very short time and, he being placed in charge of nine other boys, they had travelled through the night to Chatham where he joined HMS Aboukir as senior acting midshipman.  Duncan wrote to Gerald Cochrane,
“I say you might sort of reassure my mother and tell ’em that it is nothing serious as I think Mother will start to fret.  I would be very grateful if you would.  I am in the ‘Aboukir’ cruiser and we will not probably see service unless there is a real set to.  I am sorry that I won’t be back yet to ride the bike.  Do you realise that 1915 Douglases have 3 speed gears?  Well I hope I will meet you again and until then, adieu … [written in a corner of the postcard]  I have an idea we will meet sometime and have a gorgeous time on our Bikes”
Duncan evidently wrote home when he could, but the letters have not survived.  He wrote in a postcard to Gerald Cochrane dated 25 August,  
“We are having a very fine time.  After the days work we go & do gym on the quarter-deck to keep us in training.  I am writing a PC [postcard] which gets through the GPO & censure [censor] quickest.  I am keeping a diary.  I wonder how the works are standing the strain.   Will they hold out?  [Cochrane was an ironmaster] I wonder what the Daily Mail’s accounts of the War looks like?  All headlines I suppose.  We get our news by wireless & then get the stale papers which are about our only form of literature.”
On 21 September, the day before the disaster, his parents received an account of him from the mother of another midshipman.  This was Mrs Wilson, mother of Alisdair, and she wrote because HMS Aboukir had been at Chatham recoaling and repairing for four days in mid-September, and she had gone to visit her son.  She had invited Duncan to join them; later she was to tell Madge that in his letter of thanks to her for her kindness, Duncan had written, “Next time I shall hope to have my Mother but she is so far away in Newcastle.”  Mrs Wilson reported that, all the boys being promoted midshipmen, there had been much competition amongst them to be the first in having the midshipman’s patches put on their uniforms.  Duncan, she told his parents, was as full of life and spirits as a boy could be.  Indeed, it’s clear that Duncan enjoyed every moment of his time on board ship.  It was, for him, the most enormous adventure and he excelled at his work.  

The gunnery lieutenant, John Bernard Hughes, wrote to Duncan and Madge on 24 September from his father’s rectory at Tarporley in Cheshire, when Duncan was still posted missing and hope remained that he might yet be found among the survivors,
“He was a very great friend of mine.  So absolutely straight and upright, so thoroughly keen at any work or game, always cheerful no matter at what hour of the night or day or how rough the sea was.  He was my special assistant, and always worked with me.  As you probably know, he was the senior midshipman, and as I was the officer in charge of them I had much to do there, and could not have done without him.  He will be a great loss to the service, and was bound to have done well.  I only hope that he may still be alive to do so now”
On 2 October, with Duncan’s death confirmed and after appearing before the inquiry at Chatham, Lt Hughes set off for Newcastle to talk to the parents.  Major Stubbs recorded in his diary:
“He spoke so nicely of Duncan and found some difficulty in speaking sometimes.  He said Duncan was extraordinarily quick and capable, able to pick up things in a day or less that an ordinary person would take a week over, he was known and liked by all the men and was quite capable of managing his battery of 12 p[ounde]r guns entirely by himself.  Hughes could leave him alone in charge of the battery and at the foretop, Duncan’s station, knowing the work would be done properly.  He said it was impossible for Duncan to tell a lie and that he was a long way the most capable of the midshipmen.  Duncan had never mentioned to Hughes that he had passed out top from Osborne and Hughes did not know it until I told him, but D had often talked about us and Nunthorpe to him.  Duncan and the gunner Mr Shrubsall were great friends and took the watch together, Hughes wanted to change Duncan’s watch for some reason but Mr Shrubsall would not hear of it, he liked to hear Duncan talk at night and would not have any other midshipman with him.  Hughes said that when he was in his hammock he could hear the two talking on watch and Duncan’s laugh could be heard all over the ship.  Duncan had been perfectly happy at sea the whole time, was never sick and always cheerful, the night before the disaster Hughes had spent a long time with Duncan and said he was in splendid spirits”
Duncan & Gunner Shrubsall

It was from Lt Hughes that Duncan and Madge at last learned something of the movements of HMS Aboukir and Duncan’s part in them:
“Ever since the War began these cruisers had been engaged in patrolling the North Sea off the German coast preventing mine laying the only time when they were withdrawn for a few days the Germans came out and laid mines.  Also they had taken marines to Ostend when fighting was expected there, Duncan begging Hughes to let him go with the landing party”  
Lt Hughes wrote a few days later from the Royal Naval Barracks at Devonport to Gerald Cochrane,
“He was always so cheerful.  Everyone who had anything to do with him liked him.  I know the men did.  He had charge of one of the 12 pdr: batteries & took charge of it splendidly.  He drilled the guns’ crews before he had been more than a few days on board, – they were nearly all reservists – men of 30 to 40.  He had the knack of taking charge.  As he told me one day, “the men didn’t seem to take much notice of what he told them, but he didn’t want to ‘run them in’ as they always did it.”   
We had some very rough weather a few days before the disaster, but he was not the least seasick, though I admit I was pretty bad.  He was the senior midshipman and as such took charge of the remainder splendidly.  I was in charge of them all, but left it nearly all to him.  I have never met anyone so quick at picking up anything.  He seldom wanted telling twice.  He made great friends with the Gunner – an excellent man – and they used to keep watch together at night on the guns manned for defence against torpedo attack.  I used to sleep in a hammock close alongside and I shall never forget his hearty laugh (which was usually the last thing I heard before I went to sleep & the first thing I heard when I woke) at the Gunner’s rather tall yarns.”
Later he told Cochrane:
“As senior midshipman, and as there was no sublieutenant in the gunroom, I frequently had to call on him in matters concerning the discipline of the gunroom, which he said, made him feel rather like a policeman.  I asked him what the others thought about it and he said “That doesn’t matter; I can punch all their heads except Gore Browne, and he and I get on all right.”  He started a “temperance league” as he called it, which meant refraining from throwing food, etc, about the gunroom, and really the Gunroom was remarkably well behaved as gunrooms go”
With Lt Hughes’ help and through the letters and telegrams that flew between the midshipmen’s mothers, Duncan and Madge began to piece together some idea of the sequence of events.  It had been a scene of terrible confusion and it took some time for details to emerge.  

The Aboukir was hit by a torpedo fired by a German submarine at 6.20 am on the morning of Tuesday 22 September.  Duncan, the senior midshipman, went below to wake Midshipman Herbert Riley, who had slept through the explosion.  Riley (who did not survive the disaster) told Lt Hughes this himself, when they were in a boat together.  “It required some pluck to do that, with the ship heeling over and liable to go at any moment,” commented Hughes.  

The Aboukir’s midshipmen then went into the water and swam for the Hogue; she herself was hit and went under at 7.05 am.  Before they reached her, Duncan and Midshipman Kit Wykeham-Musgrave had together tried to save a drowning marine.  

Duncan’s parents learned of this from Kit’s mother.  She described their attempt to keep the man afloat and their success in reaching the Cressy shortly before she too was hit at 7.30 am.  Mrs Wykeham-Musgrave’s letter does not survive, but is paraphrased by Major Stubbs in a letter written on 17 October to Gerald Cochrane:

Duncan & her boy after leaving the Aboukir swam towards the Hogue but before they reached her they saw a drowning marine they got hold of him & held him up for a long time, telling him how to help himself by floating, the marine could not swim, but they could not keep him afloat any longer & he was drowned.  They then swam towards the Hogue but she sank before they reached her so they got to the Cressy where they had cocoa & were sitting together on the quarter deck when the Cressy was struck the second time.  They both went into the sea again & after that Musgrave never saw Duncan again.

Later, Kit seems to have given a fuller account of events, in which he described Duncan’s death; it must have been hard for the boy to speak of the deaths of his friends.  

Duncan was last seen clinging to an oar with his close friend Geoffrey Gore-Browne.  They took the oar to the aid of a drowning man, but his desperate grip took all three of them under the water and they were lost.  

The disaster happened so early in the War that, although it came as a terrible, dismaying shock, early enthusiasm and patriotic idealism remained untouched.  This can be seen in Lt Hughes’ second letter to Gerald Cochrane, who was by then trying to join the Army (“I hope you will have no difficulty in getting to the front”, Hughes wrote).  Of Duncan, Hughes said,
“What a glorious death & what a hero the boy was.  Dying hardly seems to matter if one can die like that.  It makes me feel quite ashamed of myself, to think of him risking his life 3 times in as many hours to save others.”
In Newcastle, Tuesday 22 September had passed very pleasantly:
“we were all so jolly and happy, little did we think that our dear Duncan had that morning given his
T D H Stubbs
life for his country”
wrote Major Stubbs in his diary.  At about 5 o’clock he went to the house where his wife and daughter were staying, intending to take them out for a walk.  As he entered the gate he saw Mr Bell, the owner of the house, with a newspaper in his hand:
“he was very white and looked much distressed when he saw me.  I guessed in a moment, he asked me to go into the house and then asked the name of the ship our boy was on.  I told him.  He shewed me the paper in which the stop press news stated in a couple of lines that the Aboukir had been struck by a torpedo.  Nothing further.  I wired the Admiralty for news and he very kindly took the telegram.”  
Major Stubbs then went out in the hope of discovering more information before telling his wife.  He found another newspaper which carried an official report that the three vessels had been struck and that lists of the saved – “a considerable number” – would be published as soon as possible.  

As he waited in the camp for more details to come through, Mr Bell came to tell him that Madge had received a telegram from her sister asking whether they had news of the Aboukir; he went to her immediately.  Meanwhile, in the chaos, their nine-year-old daughter had picked up the newspaper and learned of the fate of her brother’s ship for herself.  

“That night”, wrote Major Stubbs
“I wired Mrs Wilson the mother of one of the other boys asking if she had news and stayed that night at St Georges Terrace.  Neither of us slept and the suspense was too terrible, Mrs Wilson wired about 1.30 am to say she had no news yet.”
The next day they heard by telegram from the Admiralty that Duncan was not among the saved.  

Major Stubbs’ diary entry for the following day begins,
“Another terrible day.  I don’t know how we got through it.  Many letters from friends but awful.”
Their younger son Hugh had by then started at his public school, Sherborne.  The news of his brother’s death was broken to him by his housemaster.  It took the man two attempts; on his first, he was unable to bring himself to do it.

Letters of sympathy were pouring in; the family received more than a hundred within the first five days.  A memorial service was arranged for Friday 2 October at St Cuthbert’s, Ormesby, where the family worshipped.  “The church was full of people,” wrote Major Stubbs,  
“Everyone loved our little Duncan and they are very touched at his death.  Neither the choir nor bellringers would accept payment so I thanked them all, Metcalfe the leader of the ringers said, ‘That is the very least we could do Sir’”  
Major Stubbs soon learned that bodies were washing up on the Dutch coast and he approached the Dutch authorities.  On the 6 October, General Snijders, Commander in Chief of the Dutch armed forces, wrote to his officers saying that he had been asked to cooperate in the search for the body of Cadet Duncan Stubbs so that it might be returned to his family.  He described Duncan as a slight boy of fifteen, blond, with delicate features and blue eyes.  

We know from Major Stubbs’ diary of one result of this appeal.  On Wednesday 14 October he was sent details by the British Vice Consul at Ymuiden of the body of a boy of about seventeen, together with a photograph.  He could not identify the face but thought the hands were similar to Duncan’s.  He telegraphed the Vice Consul asking him to look for identification marks “especially the teeth and to take a cast if possible”, but the boy was not Duncan.  

A recent discovery among papers relating to the town council of Heemskerk reveals that they thought that a beachcomber in their employ had found Duncan’s body on 12 November, but it is not known whether an identification was made.  As far as the family was concerned, Duncan’s body was never found.

In mid-October Major Stubbs heard that Duncan’s sea chest was still at Chatham and would be sent home.  He wrote to Gerald Cochrane, who was a near neighbour, and who was of great assistance to the family at this time,
“I wonder if you could possibly take it in, it is a big thing but there may be things in it which should be kept, it is probably locked & the key will be lost with the ship but I believe they are all numbered & probably a duplicate key can be obtained.  The chest could of course be taken to our house & put in his bedroom, when I could see it next time I am over probably this would be the best & it is very big & heavy – I want to keep it though, he was so proud of it.” 
The chest has not survived the years, but its contents included Duncan's lettercase, in which were found the letters that he had received on his birthday.

Duncan Stubbs

Duncan was commemorated by his friends and family on a brass plaque in Ormesby church and, together with his cousin 2nd Lieut. Jock Richardson who died a few months later, on a plaque in Guisborough parish church.  His name is inscribed on the Nunthorpe War Memorial and on the memorial erected by Coatham Grammar School.

In the years that followed, the family’s grief was embodied in a sadly lasting form in the lifelong depression that afflicted Duncan’s mother.  In the 1920s she was admitted on at least two occasions for treatment in an institution, and her bitter distress was manifested until her death in 1958 in difficult and often unkind behaviour towards her family and those nearest to her.  


When Henk van der Linden appealed in the Navy News for contact from the families of men of HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy, I replied on behalf of my family to tell him of Duncan’s life and of the diary entries made by Major Stubbs during those terrible weeks.  By a curious coincidence, Henk at this point had received only two other replies, and one was from the family of Gunner William Shrubsall, whose name appeared in Major Stubbs’ diary.  This was all the more striking because on the publication of the Dutch edition of his book Henk had recieved a letter enclosing the request from General Snijders to his officers regarding the body of Cadet Duncan Stubbs.

We were very moved to learn from Henk that the site of the wrecks had become a vital ecological resource, a nature reserve for marine life.  We were honoured and delighted to be present at the launch of the English edition of his book on 22 September 2012 and at the centennial commemoration of the disaster in Chatham and The Hague.  We were frankly amazed to find ourselves part of the film made by Klaudie Bartelink and her team.

We had never forgotten the blight caused by the loss of a boy so loved and full of promise, but at the book launch in 2012 we met families on whom the disaster had brought the extra burden of dire financial need, with emotional and economic consequences to a man’s widow and children that cascaded down the generations.  The implications of the lasting social dislocation caused by war was brought home to us fully for the first time; I know that realisation was shared by others there, historians and families.  The ability to share stories with the other families in 2012, the pleasure of meeting the family of Gunner Shrubsall, and the moving experience of meeting the family of Otto Weddigen in 2014 have left a lasting imprint on our minds.

At the book launch at Chatham in 2012, Duncan Barrigan, great-grandson of Duncan Stubbs’ brother Hugh, was fired with enthusiasm by the presentations by divers Klaudie Bartelink and Robert Witham.  On 4 August 2013, with Klaudie and her team of diver-filmmakers, he dived the wreck of the ships that his great-great-uncle had known, in the North Sea waters where little Duncan Stubbs had died nearly a hundred years before. 

Related blog posts

There are quite a few posts on this blog that relate to young Duncan Stubbs, so I have rounded up a few of them here:

The loss of HMS Aboukir, Hogue & Cressy
Major Duncan Stubbs' diary entry for 23 September 1914
Major Duncan Stubbs' diary entry for 27 September 1914
Major Duncan Stubbs' diary entry for 1 October 1914
Major Duncan Stubbs' diary entry for 2 October 1914
Major Duncan Stubbs' diary entry for 5 October 1914
Major Duncan Stubbs' diary entry for 14 October 1914
Major Duncan Stubbs' diary entry for 16 October 1914
The wrecks of HMS Aboukir, Hogue & Cressy
Nunthorpe-in-Cleveland War Memorial - this includes the Order of Service for the unveiling of the memorial in 1921

War Horse - Major Stubbs' horse Jess

Klaudie Bartelink's documentary

A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s - this begins a series of posts on John Duncan Stubbs' grandfather, John Richard Stubbs
Days of plenty in Redcar - a middle class household before the First World War - these are recollections of meals at her grandparents' house, recorded by Katharine Isobel Ellis Stubbs, but it begins with her vivid memory of the beginning of the War
Nunthorpe in the early 20th century
War begins - Nunthorpe, 1914
The Live Bait Squadron 1914: survivors from Whitby
The War Memorial to the 50th (Northumbrian) Division

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Death of Mrs Ann Jackson of Hutton Rudby, 1829

Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette, 18 September 1829
On the 9th last, at Hutton Rudby, in Cleveland in the 81st year of her age, Ann Jackson, widow, and only sister to Mr A Benison, of Hull, architect.  She was much respected and regretted by all her family and friends.
Mrs Jackson's brother must have been the architect & builder, Mr Appleton Bennison.  He died six months later at Hull on 29 March 1830, aged 80.

He built the Zion United Reformed Church at Cottingham, described by Pevsner as "one of the finest Nonconformist chapels in the Riding ... it is all plain and honest and peaceful"

There is another interesting footnote to this.  The 1861 Census for the cottage known as Jakesbarn (the site of present-day Drumrauch Hall) shows the occupants to be: William Jackson, aged 76, farmer of 11 acres, born in Hutton; his wife Sarah (46) born in Bilsdale; and their two sons, John Thomas (7) and Bennison (5), both born in Hutton Rudby.  It is curious to see that the younger boy is called Bennison Jackson.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

More on the cholera and the Rev R J Barlow

This exchange of letters casts more light on the events of the Cholera Epidemic in Hutton Rudby in the autumn of 1832:  Mr Peacock uses Mr Barlow's activities during the epidemic to strike back at critics of the Established Church.  In his reply, Mr Barlow praises the doctors who came to the assistance of the stricken villagers:-

Yorkshire Gazette, 17 November 1832
To the Editor of the Yorkshire Gazette 
Sir, – It ought to be mentioned, to the praise of a humane and pious clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. Barlow, vicar of Hutton-Rudby, in Cleveland; – and also as an example "to go and do likewise," – that during the prevalence of the cholera in that village, he never failed to visit every individual afflicted with that dreadful malady, especially the poor and needy; and to administer to their wants and comforts with a truly christian benevolence.  I may also add, that the funeral service was performed by him in the numerous instances of mortality, with a seriousness and solemnity befitting so awful a visitation. – He has indeed raised for himself, in the language of Horace –
"Monumentum aere perennius"
that will live in the grateful recollections of his parishioners. 
Yet such are the men whom it is too much the fashion of the present liberal age to depreciate and vilify!  But what greater injustice can there be, than to cast odious reflections upon the venerable Establishment, because, forsooth, a few of its members may possibly walk unworthily, and in some instances, neglect the duties of their sacred calling.  But let such examples as have been mentioned, have their due praise; – such conduct exhibits the traits of true christian heroism, as well as of humanity, – far more ennobling than the laurels of the warrior when "died in blood, and bedewed with the tears of the widow and the orphan." 
I am ever yours respectfully, 
G C Peacock
Sowerby Grange Academy, near Thirsk,
November 14, 1832

Yorkshire Gazette, 1 December 1832
To the Editor of the Yorkshire Gazette 
Sir. – Having accidentally seen in your Gazette of the 17th inst., a letter signed G C Peacock, of Sowerby Grange, near Thirsk, permit me, through the medium of your excellent and widely-circulated paper, to present unto Mr Peacock my most grateful thanks and acknowledgments for the very handsome and flattering manner in which he has introduced my name to public notice.  Deeply as I feel impressed with a sense of my own unworthiness, if, during the awful pestilence at Hutton Rudby, I have afforded spiritual or temporal comfort to the unhappy sufferers, I trust I may ever feel thankful to the Almighty God, who, in his mercy, not only spared my life, but gave me, as it were, new strength both of mind and body, proportioned to the duties I had to perform. 
Allow me to trespass for a moment longer upon your valuable time, to pay an humble, but just, tribute to the merits of Doctor Keenlyside, of Stockton, and James Allardice, Esq., of Stokesley, our medical assistants, who kindly gave up their own excellent practice, and, with a truly philanthropic spirit, came into the midst of the plague to alleviate the anguish of suffering humanity.  To a stranger nay, to the very people of the village unconnected with the seat of disease, it is unknown how much those gentlemen had to contend with, between prejudice on the one hand, and on the other from the want of an hospital, and all other conveniences which a well regulated town can command; but, to the honour of their names be it recollected, their unwearied attention and benevolence surmounted every difficulty, – for which I do feel myself personally much indebted to them, and for which the inhabitants of Hutton Rudby can never repay them without a grateful remembrance of their names, convinced as they ought to be, that to their assiduity and professional skill alone, under divine Providence, must be attributed the rapid disappearance of the alarming malady. 
I have the honour to remain, Sir, 
Your most obedient Servant.
R J Barlow, Clerk.
Linden Grove, Rudby, Nov. 29th

It does seem a pity that the doctors' names were not remembered – instead, a story grew up that the doctors came out from Northallerton only so far as Doctors Lane, and would not enter the village.

But, as I pointed out in my book, Doctors Lane was known by that name before the Asiatic cholera ever arrived in the British Isles.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Disrobing at the altar, Otley in 1808

I was looking for something completely different when I came across this exciting story:

Tyne Mercury, 3 May 1808
Tuesday last, at Otley, after a disconsolate widowhood of three months, Mr George Rastrick, of Hawksworth, aged 78, to Mrs Mitson, of Burley-wood head, aged 60, making the fourth visit paid by the husband, and the third by his fair bride, to the altar of Hymen.  
In compliance with a vulgar notion, that the wife being married in a state of nudity, exonerates her husband from legal obligations to discharge any demands upon her purse, the lady, with much sang froid, began to disrobe herself at the altar, and did not desist till her chemise remained her only covering; thus having attained the very summit of the nude ton, the marriage ceremony commenced, and it was not till the whole had been deliberately gone through that the parish sexton, in the capacity of waiting woman, began to dress this blooming daughter of Eve, and to revive, by the genial heat of warm clothing, that spark of hymeneal fire which a chilling air and humid atmosphere had well nigh extinguished.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Jacob Honeyman's pony is stolen, 1829

Jacob Honeyman's pony must have been left to graze by the roadside when it caught the eye of Thomas Boulton.  Boulton's defence – such as it is – is striking by its hopelessness, and the sentence is a reminder of the days of the Bloody Code of criminal law.  But it's quite possible, as that link shows, that Boulton was transported instead.  If he survived the voyage and the appalling punishment regime, he and his descendants might have done rather well ...

York Herald, 8 August 1829
THOS. BOULTON (33), charged with having stolen a pony, the property of Jacob Honeyman, of Hutton Rudby.
Mr Alexander stated the case, which was briefly this.  Early on the morning of the 18th of May last, the pony was taken from a lane near the village of Hutton Rudby.  The prisoner was seen to be riding it without a saddle, &c. which caused suspicion to be created that he had stolen it.  He was interrogated, and the result was, he and the pony were secured.  In his defence, he said that he had another pony in the lane belonging to himself, which he exchanged with a stranger for the one stolen.  He had several respectable witnesses to that fact, who unfortunately were not here.  The jury found him Guilty, and judgment of death was recorded against him.  He handed some letters to his Lordship, and hoped he would read them.  The learned Judge did so, and said that he would advise him to send a representation to the Secretary of State.

Friday, 3 August 2018

A sea monster at Coatham, 1778

A newspaper report from this day, 240 years ago.  A most surprising find at Coatham!

Caledonian Mercury, 3 August 1778
Friday se'enight, was killed at Coatham, near Kirkleatham in Cleveland, a very extraordinary monster that resembled a crocodile.  It was seven yards long, and was thought, by a numerous company who assembled to see it, to be the most surprising creature ever seen on any coast in England.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Emma Eteson of Knaresborough (1835-1911)

The entry on Emma Eteson of Knaresborough among the dramatis personae of John Richard Stubbs' diaries caught the eye of a reader:
Emma ETESON of/in  Knaresborough
Diary references:
9 Jul 1855: “ Emma Eteson &c to tea”
14 Oct 1856:  “ Miss Stotts...Emma Eteson & Jacob...&c &c”
15 Oct 1856: “ Mrs Powells party  Had cards  Emma Eteson & I played Joe & Miss Smith”
21 Oct 1856: “ Humburton..had a large party  Emma Eteson was there  had a jolly dance”
My correspondent tells me that this would be Emma Jane Eteson (1835-1911), the eldest daughter of William Eteson and Ann Powell.

William was born in 1796, the son of John Eteson (b1767) & Mary Ann Clough (1774-1833).  Ann, who died in 1851, was the daughter of Samuel Powell (1777-1859) and Ann Bolland (1779-1868).

John Stubbs will have been referring to Mrs Ann Eteson and her mother Mrs Ann Powell in this entry:
20 Jan 1857:  “Mother was at Mrs Powells at tea.  Mrs Eteson of Knaresboro was there”
Emma was left a good sum of money from her father's estate, some put in trust for her until she reached the age of 21.  She married George Wailes (1833-1915) in 1859.

This photograph shows the house in Windsor Lane, Knaresborough where William & Ann Eteson were living at the time of the 1851 Census

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Linden Grange, Hutton Rudby, in 1830

I've written about Linden Grange before, as I explain in this blogpost.  It is the house that lies between Hutton Rudby and Potto, and was previously called Linden Grove.  In the early 19th century it was called Suggitt Grove, and before that, Tunstall Ground.

In 1822 it was inherited by Dr George Merryweather of Whitby from his uncle Benjamin Suggitt.  He was the inventor of the Tempest Prognosticator, a leech-powered weather forecasting device, and between the years 1840 and 1861 was curator of the Whitby Museum (and if you haven't visited the museum, then you simply must!)

An advertisement of 1830 gives us a glimpse of the interior of the house; you can find the history of the gardens, which were "stocked with the choicest Trees and Shrubs", here on the website of the Yorkshire Gardens Trust.

Yorkshire Gazette, 06 March 1830
An agreeable COUNTRY RESIDENCE recently fitted up, and in complete repair, beautifully situated in Cleveland. 
The House consists of Breakfast, Dining, and Drawing Rooms, Day Nursery, four good Bed-Rooms, Attics, Double Staircase, Large Kitchen and Pantries, &c; Dairy, Stabling, Carriage-House, and sundry Offices. 
The Breakfast, Dining, and two Bed-rooms, will be Let Furnished, if required. 
The Gardens and Pleasure Grounds are stocked with the choicest Trees and Shrubs. 
This place is, in every respect, suited for a genteel Family, desirous of living in a rich and fertile country.  It is situated a quarter of a Mile from Hutton Rudby, 5 Miles from the Tontine Inn, 5 Miles from Stokesley, 10 Miles from Stockton, and 16 Miles from Darlington. 
The Premises are open for Inspection; for Particulars, apply to Mr. MERRYWEATHER, Whitby.
The house became the home of the new vicar, the Revd R J Barlow (see this chapter of Remarkable, but Still True), until he built the vicarage on Belborough Lane.  It was clear from the letters he wrote to the newspapers during the Year of the Cholera that he was living there in October 1832, but when I was writing the book I could not find out when he moved in.  The following advertisement shows that he had not been long in the house when the cholera epidemic broke out:

Yorkshire Gazette, 4 August 1832
A CAPITAL CORN-MILL, (from Michaelmas next) in excellent order, driving three pairs of Stones, with all requisite Machinery, and suitable convenience for an extensive business; together with a DWELLING HOUSE, and about EIGHT ACRES of superior Grass Land adjoining. 
The above Mill is situate on the river Leven, at Rudby, in Cleveland, at a reasonable distance from the port of Stockon-on-Tees, and in a good Corn District. 
Also, a compact HOUSE, and about SIX ACRES of Grass Land adjoining, in the village of Hutton, near Rudby, now in the occupation of the Rev. Mr Barlow, and suitable for the residence of a small genteel family. 
For particulars inquire of GEO. BRIGHAM, of Rudby, near Stokesley Land Agent, if by Letter, post paid.
July 25th, 1832

I don't know where the compact house with its 6 acres of grass land was, but I think it was probably the house now called White House Farm, mentioned in the blogpost about the Revd Jeremiah Grice.

The information on the Rudby Mill is another useful addition to our knowledge of the mill.  A previous tenant, Robert Robinson, had become insolvent in 1823 (cf this blogpost on Various Occupants of Rudby Mill), so let's hope the tenant in 1832 was able to make an "extensive business" there, as suggested by Mr Brigham in the advertisement.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Hutton Rudby and District Local History Society on Facebook: old photos

Visit the new Facebook page of the Hutton Rudby and District Local History Society and you'll find it a source of the most fascinating old photographs.

This is thanks to the hard work of Malcolm McPhie and he tells me there are plenty more to follow - just keep visiting the page!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Anne Hutton, wife of George Wilson

The marriage announcement for Anne Hutton and George Wilson, founder of the Hutton Rudby Sailcloth Mill, shows that her father's name was George, and that the family lived in Pilgrim Street, Newcastle.

(George Wilson and his partner Mr Robinson took a newly-built warehouse at 79 Pilgrim Street the following year)

Durham Chronicle, 17 June 1836
In Newcastle, on the 9th inst.,  ... at St Andrew's, Mr Geo. Wilson, of Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire, to Anne, eldest daughter of Mr George Hutton, Pilgrim Street

Friday, 4 May 2018

Otter hunting on the Leven, 1830

To remind us of how far we have come:-

Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 8 August 1830
SEVERE OTTER HUNT. - On Monday, the Stockton and Hutton-Rudby Otter Hunters met at Leven-bridge, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, at four o'clock in the morning, and at six found a large dog-otter, which they, at length, succeeded in killing, after an excellent hunt, both by land and water, for nine hours.  He was so powerful and large, weighing twenty-six pounds, that although there were eight couple of hounds attacking him in a wood, he nearly tore them to pieces, many having been obliged to be carried home.  On the whole, the day's sport was very fine, and the hunt is allowed to have been the best and severest ever known in this part of the country.
At least we don't view that sort of horror as sport any more.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Joseph Hill Appleton (1811-80) and the Meynell family

A reader has been in touch and would like to be in contact with anyone who has any information on the family of Joseph Hill Appleton (born in Richmond, Yorks in 1811, died in Attercliffe, Sheffield in 1880).  He was the son of John Appleton (1775-1852) and Margaretta Clare Ann Hill (born in Great Ayton in 1783).  Margaretta was reputed to be the daughter of a Mary Meynell.

Joseph Hill Appleton said that he was the great-grandson of Christopher Meynell of Hunterbanks Farm, Crathorne.

My correspondent would like to know how Margaretta Clare Ann Hill was connected to the Meynell family and would dearly love to make contact with the purchasers of the 18th and 19th century Ephemera relating to the Appleton Family of Sheffield which came up for sale at Tennants of Leyburn in September 2008.

His particular interest is in an album made by Joseph Hill Appleton entitled "Appletonia", showing a connection to the Appleton family of Appleton Wiske, North Yorkshire, and he would be happy to pay for high resolution scans of the contents.

Anyone who can assist, do please contact me and I will put you in touch.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

John Jackson (1743-1808), schoolmaster of Hutton Rudby

In the Schoolmasters section of People of Hutton Rudby (Sadler to Seamer), I had a little bit of information about the Rudby schoolmaster John Jackson, taken from The Church and Parish of Rudby in Cleveland by the Rev Arthur Eddowes (published 1924).

He took his information from The Bards and Authors of Cleveland, which was written and published by George Markham Tweddell, the Stokesley printer, in 1872.  The full title was The Bards and Authors of Cleveland and South Durham and the Vicinage.  Tweddell has a short chapter on John Jackson
who for six-and-twenty years was master of Rudby School, was so much esteemed as a classical and mathematical teacher that the sons of the principal inhabitants of Stokesley used to travel daily to and from his academy to avail themselves of his instruction.  Many of the sundials still existing in Cleveland are of his manufacture, that at Rudby Church being one.  
Tweddell quotes in full the lyrics of the song The Cleveland Fox Chase, for which John Jackson wrote both the words and the music.  It begins
The glimpse of Aurora appears o'er the hills,
The morning's inviting and fair;
The murmuring streamlets and fine purling rills,
Along with the sweet-scented air,
Invite the gay sportsmen; and first do appear
The two noble chiefs of Greenhow,
With famed Gis'brough's lord, and the hounds in the rear,
In hopes to cry off - Tally-ho!
(The gentlemen mentioned were Sir William Foulis, Bt, his brother John Robinson Foulis, and William Chaloner, owner of the hounds).

John Jackson was evidently a man of many talents.  The notice of his death in the Hull Packet of 21 June 1808 records
On Friday the 27th ult. that very useful member of society, Mr John Jackson, of Hutton Rudby school, aged 65.  He was a universal scholar, and many years a contributor (in every department) to those learned and entertaining annual publications, the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Diaries.
(I think the Diaries was an Almanac-style publication)

As for The Bards and Authors of Cleveland, which covers authors and poets from Caedmon to Francis Mewburn, the solicitor for the Stockton & Darlington Railway, you can read it here, as now has the text online.  A full account of its contents is to be found here on the website dedicated to the life and works of George Markham Tweddell (1823-1903).

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Photographs of Hutton Rudby

Looking for photographs of Hutton Rudby, old and new?  Go at once to Malcolm McPhie's Facebook page Hutton Rudby Karting incorporating village history 

So many pictures that have never been seen before – don't miss the one looking downstream under Hutton Rudby bridge with the mill chimney beyond. 

Definitely not to be missed!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Hutton Rudby celebrates a Royal Wedding, 1863

Newcastle Chronicle, 21 March 1863
HUTTON RUDBY. - Among the Yorkshire villages, none were more conspicuous in their celebrations of the marriage of the Prince of Wales than Hutton Rudby.  
A correspondent says that on the wedding day the British and Danish flags were seen waving in the air from the summits of the Cleveland Sailcloth Manufactory, and in various prominent places of the village.  The Hutton brass band sent forth its animating and melodious strains, and Mr George Wilson provided a liberal banquet for all his workmen and their wives, in which the band joined them, and all enjoyed themselves most heartily.  
A subscription was set on foot to provide the juveniles and poor of the village with tea and plum cake, and through the exertions of Miss Garbutt and Mrs Henry Chapman, and the liberality of Miss Righton, sufficient funds were raised so as to enable them to give out a general invitation to the whole of the inhabitants of Hutton Rudby to come and partake of a bountiful supply of tea and plum cake, and some five or six hundred availed themselves of the treat.  
The tea was served in the National School-room, which was lent for the occasion by the Rev J Barton [actually the Revd R J Barlow], the vicar, who did all in his power to promote the festivities of the day.  In the evening, an immense bonfire blazed on the village green, and the day's proceedings finished with a grand display of fireworks.

For the story of the political ramifications of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with Alexandra, daughter of Prince Christian of Denmark, on the 10 March 1863, don't miss the website called the Heirs to the Throne Project

This is a Research Project based at the University of St Andrews and its full title is Heirs to the Throne in the Constitutional Monarchies of Nineteenth-Century Europe (1815-1914).  Their article on the marriage of Bertie and Alix, with full details and illustrations, is a must-read.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Revd Francis Blackburne (1748-1816) of Rudby-in-Cleveland

In late March 1774, a new vicar came to Hutton Rudby.  He was the Revd Francis Blackburne, an unmarried man of twenty-six and the son of the Revd Francis Blackburne, Archdeacon of Cleveland and Rector of Richmond – which can only have helped young Francis in obtaining the living from the Hon. General Cary.

Young Francis Blackburn must have looked a most inviting prospect to the young ladies of the neighbourhood on his arrival in the parish. 

He was born in 1748, educated at Richmond School and Peterhouse, Cambridge and was a Fellow of Catherine Hall (later St Catherine's College), Cambridge.

Archdeacon Francis Blackburne (1705-87)

Archdeacon Blackburne
Francis's father, Archdeacon Francis Blackburne (1705-87), was a noted scholar who had written, hidden away in Richmond, controversial and influential works on religious freedom for Protestants – though not for Roman Catholics.  He had continued to be a clergyman of the Church of England, but it's clear that his contemporaries kept expecting him to leave – he was invited to become pastor of the congregation of the Old Jewry meeting house.  (For a learned account of the Archdeacon's position in this great movement of the age, see, eg., here).

The Blackburne family had long roots in Richmondshire.

Archdeacon Blackburne's grandfather, also called Francis Blackburne, was the younger son of a gentleman with a large family and a poor grasp of finances who had, accordingly, lost the family their estates, which had included Marrick Priory in Swaledale.  So the Archdeacon's grandfather had gone into the stocking trade in Richmond and there had made a great deal of money.  He married Mrs Jane Inman of Bewerley, near Ripon, and became a wealthy and respectable figure, an Alderman of Richmond.  

Their son Francis, the Archdeacon's father, died at the age of 29 (from "a gross habit of body brought on by the excesses of the bottle" in his grandson's words), leaving his widow with three young children.

The Archdeacon's mother was Alice Comber, and through her he gained a very respectable lineage – and through his stepfather, a very good education at schools in Kendal, Pennington, Hawkshead and Sedbergh.

Alice Comber was the daughter of Thomas Comber (Dean of Durham) (1645-99) and his wife Alice Thornton.  Her maternal grandparents were William Thornton of East Newton & Alice, daughter of Sir Christopher Wandesford of Kirklington.  Mrs Alice Thornton (1626-1707) is remembered nowadays for her autobiography – her account of the Civil Wars in North Yorkshire is really fascinating and can be read online here.  (Printed versions are also available)

The Archdeacon was deeply affected, at the age of about 17, by the death of his brother Thomas from smallpox, and this had interrupted his education at Cambridge.  On his return to his college, he expected to be made a Fellow, but the majority of the Fellows were "high royalists on the principle of hereditary right" [The Works, etc of Francis Blackburne, Vol I, from which this account of his life is taken] while he had been reading Locke and talking to "liberal minded friends".  He spoke too freely in public about ecclesiastical and civil liberty and the Fellows took against him and rejected him as a candidate.  He left for East Newton to live with his uncle Comber and he stayed there for some years.

During this time, he was so depressed that he could not work at his books and could find relief only in strong exercise, particularly fox-hunting – though being very careful, when "engaged in parties of dissipation" in York not to fall into the habits of drink that had brought about his father's early death.

At this crucial point in the future Archdeacon's life he came across some old Puritan books in the lumber-room of his uncle Comber's house.  The books had belonged to his great-grandfather William Thornton of East Newton, and it was the deep impression that the old Puritan divines made upon his mind that set the course of his life and determined his life's studies.

He had, meanwhile, been waiting in hopes of the living of Richmond, where the incumbent was married to his aunt.  At last, his uncle died and family friends exerted their influence with the patron of the living, the Lord Chancellor, and Blackburne, at the rather late age of 34, became Rector of Richmond.

He married Mrs Hannah Elsworth (born Hotham).  She was the mother of three children from her marriage with Mr Elsworth; Hannah, the only surviving daughter, married the Revd Theophilus Lindsey, vicar of Catterick and a close friend and associate of the Archdeacon.  (Lindsey left the
Theophilus Lindsey (1723-1808)
Church of England in 1773 and set up the first avowedly Unitarian chapel in the country).

Francis and Hannah had five children together:  Francis; Thomas, a physician; Jane, who married John Disney (1746-1816), an Anglican clergyman and friend of Theophilus Lindsey, who joined Lindsey as a Unitarian in 1782; Sarah, who married the Revd John Hall; and William, a London physician.  

The Archdeacon was much grieved by the death of Thomas, "a favourite son", who died at the age of 33 in 1782, when the Archdeacon was 77.  It was a bad blow for the old man, and in addition his eyesight was failing.  A conscientious young schoolboy was employed to help, who went on to be well-known locally as the Revd Mr Tate, Master of Richmond School and, from 1830, vicar of Stanhope.

Perhaps the Archdeacon's son Francis was not his favourite, but he was entirely devoted to the memory of his father and his father's great works. 

Francis Blackburne in Hutton Rudby

Francis Blackburne spent only six years in Hutton Rudby, but he found his first wife while in the parish.  

In 1776 he married Ann Rowntree, daughter of Christopher Rowntree of Middleton-on-Leven, in the chapel at Middleton.  I wonder if the Christopher Rowntree, the well-known foxhunter (see this blogpost), was her brother?

In 1780 Francis left Hutton Rudby – Jeremiah Grice would be his successor – for Brignall, four miles south-east of Barnard Castle, on the Yorkshire side of the River Tees, near Greta Bridge.  He was to be vicar there for the rest of his life, the next 35 years.


Brignall has two notable claims to fame, and both of them came about in Francis Blackburne's time.  

Sir Walter Scott mentions Brignall in his poem Rokeby (1813) – Scott was a friend of the antiquary John Bacon Sawrey Morritt,of Rokeby Park and had visited the area:-

O, Brignall banks are wild and fair,  
And Greta woods are green,  
And you may gather garlands there,  
Would grace a summer queen: 

And Brignall is still remembered for the strange story of the Curse Tablets.  The earliest account that I have come across is in Whitaker's History of Richmondshire (1823).

Two leaden plates were discovered on Gatherley Moor, south of Melsonby, in the late 18th century.  They had been carefully concealed under a heap of stones – some sources say it was a tumulus – and they were inscribed with astrological symbols, rows of figures, and these words:
I doe make this, that the father James Phillip, John Phillip, Arthur Phillip and all the issue of them shall come presently to utter beggary and nothing joy or prosper with them in Richmondshire. J. Phillip 
According to an account in The Teesdale Mercury of 8 September 1886, the rows of figures "if summed up diagonally, horizontally, or perpendicularly, made up the mystic number 369."  (I haven't checked).

In 1789, an account of the tablets was sent to the College of Arms and an answer was returned, providing details of the Phillips family of Brignall.  

Henry Phillips of Brignall had two sons.  The elder was called Charles, who in turn had two sons: John and Cuthbert.  The younger was called James and he was the father of five sons:  John, Arthur*, Henry, Christopher and Thomas.  In 1575, it was James Phillips who was living at Brignall.  

According to Bulmer's Directory of 1890, James was steward to Henry, Lord Scrope of Bolton and was notorious for his litigious, quarrelsome and vindictive nature.  Whitaker in 1823 conjectured that James had cheated his brother's family of their inheritance and that John Phillips had resorted to witchcraft in the hope of getting his revenge.

As to whether the curse had succeeded – all that is known is that 200 years later the family (in the male line, I presume) had long ago disappeared.

*Whitaker has "Richard", but the Victoria County History has it as "Arthur" and specifies that John E. Brooke who provided the information

Francis Blackburne at Brignall

Brignall was a tiny hamlet even in the time of Whitaker's History of Richmondshire (1823)
Village indeed there is scarcely any at Brignall, where there are only a very few families, but not one of these is within half a mile of the church.  
About halfway on the slope of the hill between both stands the vicarage-house, one of the most pleasing retirements I have ever seen, with the woody brows and white rocks of the Greta in front, and a sweep of rich sloping land in the immediate foreground.
The church of St Mary stood by the banks of the River Greta – little remains of it today.  It was replaced by a new church in 1834, the great man of the parish, John Bacon Sawrey Morritt, bearing much of the cost.

It sounds an idyllic setting for Francis Blackburne and his young family, and surely a fraction of the workload compared to Hutton Rudby.  Within thirteen years of their marriage (I have not found the date) Francis's wife Ann Rowntree died.  On 12 May 1789 he married Miss Elizabeth Peacock, daughter of the Revd John Peacock of York.  

And in this quiet rural spot, Francis could spend his life in preparing his father's manuscripts for publication, carrying out his various charitable works and engaging with the political issues of the day.

Francis was a great friend of Christopher Wyvill (1740-1822), the clergyman and reformer, who
Christopher Wyvill (1740-1822)
owned the Constable Burton estates near Leyburn and lived at Burton Hall near Bedale.

Francis, in the words of his obituary in The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature
was the intimate friend of Mr Wyvill, and co-operated with him in all those measures, whose object was the amelioration of the representation in parliament, and extension of religious liberty to all classes of his Majesty's subjects, being firmly convinced that wherever the truth lay it was to be maintained in the spirit of brotherly love, and not by pains or penalties, or restrictions of any kind.
The Archdeacon had left his manuscripts to Francis jointly with Christopher Wyvill and Francis's brother-in-law, the Unitarian John Disney, which was perhaps not a resounding vote of confidence in his son.  But it was Francis who devoted years of his life to editing the works and getting them published.  They can be read online – The Works, Theological and Miscellaneous of Francis Blackburne.  Volume I (1804) can be found here.

"Increasing infirmities", in the words of Francis's obituarist, "compelled him to retire to Richmond" where he owned family property.  I expect it meant that he was within easy reach of his physician, but anyway who could blame him for seeking the delights of Georgian Richmond?  Why, they are still recreating them now!  (Keep an eye on this website for a date for the Georgefest in 2018)

He must have left a curate in charge of his flock, but he "in every year paid frequent visits to his parishioners, by whom he was universally beloved".  

His obituarist does not say when his failing health prompted the move to Richmond, but he died there on Sunday 21 January 1816, aged about 68; his father had lived to the age of 82.  He was buried at his express request in the churchyard at Brignall on 24 January.  He left a widow, two sons and a daughter, who had married in 1808 the reformer and writer William Frend (1757-1841), who had originally been a clergyman of the Church of England but by the time of their marriage had become a Unitarian.

Francis's obituarist describes him as distinguished by his "Good Temper" and states that his devotion to his father's opinions meant that he "asserted [them] on all proper occasions, with that calmness and dignity which was peculiar to his character".

(I wonder when the proper occasions were?  Can the writer be hinting, ever so delicately, that on the subject of his father the dear vicar of Brignall was a little bit of a bore?)