Eng. (Lancashire). Parish Bury.

The registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) online

. (page 30 of 52)
Online LibraryEng. (Lancashire). Parish BuryThe registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) → online text (page 30 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


without any controul over the expenditure of the church in their
official capacity.

It appears from the parish vouchers that the repairs of the chancel,
and other incidental expenses connected therewith, have always
been charged in the churchwardens' accounts to the parish, and
allowed by the vestry, until the month of June, 1 832, when the
usual meeting was convened for passing those accounts, and laying
a new rate. In this year an item of £5, paid for some repairs in
the chancel, was disallowed by the vestry, and the following reso-
lution passed :

"Resolved. That the town and parish of Halifax will not repair
the chancel, and if any churchwarden or churchwardens do at any
time expend any money on the same, the parishioners will not pay it."

No specific notice appears to have been given that such a reso-
lution would be proposed, neither is there preface or preamble to
shew why or wherefore the usual practice was departed from. That
the resolution is sufticiently clear and determined cannot be ques-
tioned ; but its legality is very doubtful, and remains yet to be
decided. When considered with the utmost candour it certainly
appears to have been passed without that caution which inexperience
ought to have suggested, and that regard for precedent and esta-
blished custom, which even the parish ledgers would have taught its
supporters it required. It is opposed to an usage long established,
invariably acted upon, and of which there is no evidence to the
contrary.

Each township is a distinct constabulary ; the inhabitants whereof
elect one constable, with the exception of Halifax which elects two.
These officers are presented to the court leet of the manor to be
sworn in, and are selected from among the more opulent and res-
pectable rate-payers of the township, the office being in general
performed by deputy. It is almost needless to observe that under
such a system it is impossible the duties incidental to a proper dis-
charge of the situation can be well and efficiently performed.



322 PAROCHIAL GOVERNMENT.

Each township also maintains its own poor, and appoints two
overseers, with the exception of Halifax, which since the year 1725
has always appointed four.

The parochial chapelries of Elland and Heptonstall are entirely
independent of the mother church in all that regards what is pro-
perly called church rate ; they support their respective parochial
chapels without external aid, and need not now be taken into con-
sideration.

His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the West-Riding, avIio
reside in the Parish, hold a petty session every Saturday at their
office in the town, for the transaction of public business, and at
other times when their services are required.



THE TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX.

Having adverted to those subjects which are of a more general
nature in the parochial history, it now becomes necessary to turn
our attention to its topographical details. It is with diffidence I
enter upon this part of my undertaking, because I feel that within
the limits of a work of this description, it is impossible to do justice
to an enquiry, not only in its very nature so comprehensive, and
relating to a district so extensive ; but presenting so many interest-
ing objects.

As Mr. Watson's history must form the ground-work of any
attempt to elucidate this enquiry, supplying, as it does, the most
interesting details of particular localities, I shall not hesitate to
avail myself of his valuable assistance, particularly as in many in-
stances the difficulty of depending on local information is so great,
each informant having a different version of the same story.

The river Hebble, Halig, or Halifax brook runs through the
centre of this district of the parish, in a direction from North to
South, and forms the Eastern boundary of the township, dividing it
from Northowram and Southowram : on the South it is bounded by
Skircoat ; on the West by Warley ; and on the North by Ovendcn.
It contains 990 acres and is the smallest township in the parish,
with the exception of Fixby.

The scenery, viewed from the neighbouring heights, exhibits a
tract of country which perhaps more than any other in Great
Britain, serves not only to shew the effect of toil and labour, but to
prove as Dr. Whitaker has well observed " how completely the
Avealth and industry of man can triumph over the most stubborn
indispositions of nature ;" instead of the place "situate at the foot
of a mighty and almost inaccessible rock, all overgrown with trees
and thick underwoods, intermixed with great and bulky stones
Y 2



324 TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX.

standing very high above ground, in a dark and solemn grove on
the bank of a small murmuring rivulet ;" we are presented with the
prospect of a rich and flourishing town, second only among the
manufacturing towns of Yorkshire, possessing within herself every
resource necessary to enable her to compete with her contemporaries,
containing a population healthy, intelligent, active, industrious and
inured to labour ; and encircled by a country rich in every sublimity
that can attest the magnificence of nature.

It appears from the MS.S. before referred to, and said to have
been written by John Waterhouse, some time Lord of the manor of
Halifax, that about the year 1443, "there were in Halifax in all
but thirteen houses:" and that in the year 1566 there were in
Halifax "of householders that kept fires, &c. 20 and six score and
no more ;" and we find the act of Parliament passed in the reign of
Philip and Mary before mentioned, reciting that the barren grounds
in these parts were much inhabited, and above five hundred
householders then newly increased within these forty years past.
This is all the information we have as to the state of the town, at
those early periods. It may be almost superfluous to add that all traces
of these thirteen houses are entirely eradicated ; but nevertheless
some conjecture may be formed of their probable locality. I am
not expert at description, and must therefore request the indulgence
of my reader if I attempt to picture in my imagination the town of
Halifax as it appeared "in the time of John Waterhouse," merely
to contrast it with its present appearance.

A few straggling tenements, built of wood, wattels, and thatch,
near to the bank of a " crystal river," confined by no artificial bar-
rier, and having no other limit to its overflow than what nature
itself had provided, (for such was once the now polluted Hebble)
stretching at irregular distances from the Bridge to the Kirkgate, and
extending along the North side of the church-yard, and from thence
to the lords' mill, where we may imagine the tenants " to have been
well and orderly used in the grinding of their corn and grist," the prin-
cipal house, called the Moote or Mulcture hall, standing on the site of
the present hall, wherein dwelt the same John Waterhouse then lord
of the manor or his bailiiF. The vicarage house we may conceive to
have been an isolated dwelling on its present site, or near it, the
"road" on the south side of the church-yard between that and the



TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX. 352

vicarage then existed, and formed a continuation of the road on the
West of the vicarage land down to the Kirkgate and the river ; the en-
trance to the church being by the North porch. The present fabric
was not then built, nay about this time "was the church of Halifax
begun to be builded." The site now occupied by the town we may
conjecture to have been mostly barren land, if at all cultivated ; that
on the opposite bank not having as yet been escarted. The tract way
Wakefield doubtless existed, and a branch thereof to Shipden hall,
that also belonging to the Waterhouses.*

On the introduction of the woollen trade we find the town gra-
duaUy increasing in size, so that in the year 1566 there were 520
houses ; of these there are still some interesting remains in good con-
dition, and they seem in the great abundance of wood down to the
reign of Henry viii. to have been constructed of oak, and generally
to have consisted of three stories, the upper projecting beyond that
immediately beneath, and built of strong oak framing, but destitute
of all ornament, the interstices being filled up with plaster. The
lower stories having undergone many alterations, it is difficult to say
how they were arranged ; the character of the pannelling in the
wainscoat is still preserved in some parts of these houses, and here
and there are to be discovered some carved foliage or other device
of good workmanship.

They may now be traced at varying distances, forming some-
thing like an irregular street from the Church to the Woolshops ;

* The name of Watevhouse is as familiar to a native of Halifax as his Parish Church.
Mr. Hunter says they were a very numerous family in this Parish, so numerous as to mock
the best efforts of experienced Konealogists to throw them all into a strict genealogical series.
The dilRculty was increased, by the practice which prevailed among them, of giving the
same baptismal names to children born at nearly the same period. They are descended
from a Sir Gilbert Waterhouse, of Lincolnshire, who lived temp. Henry III., from whose
eldest son are deduced the Waterhouses of Berkhamstead. One John Waterhouse of this
branch is said by Fuller to have been a man of much fidelity and sageness ; auditor many
years to Henry VIII. whom he entertained at his house. The king at his departure honored
the children of this said John Waterhouse with his praise and encouragement, gave a ^f«-
iamm'i- portion of dignation to Edward, foretelling by his royal augury, "that he would
be the crown of them all, and a man of great honor and wisdom, fit for the service of
Princes." I much regret that my limits w 11 not allow to trace their deduction from Gilbert ,
the arms are or, a pile engrailed sable, which has an allusion to the name, a house built on
piles in the water. John, who is mentioned above, had two sons, Richard, of the Hollins,
in Warley. and Robert, of the Moot-hall, and ot Shibden Hall. The fiimily had much to do
with the affairs of the Convent and Priory of Lewes, in this Parish. The present John
Waterhouse, Esq. of Well-head, is the represcnlalivc at Ilahfax, ol the male line of this
once peculiarly numerous and opulent family.



326 TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX,

(where in all probability our first artificers in wool or weavers were
settled,) thence to the Old Market-place, stretching on either side
into Southgate and Northgate ; and proceeding onward as far as
Hall End, taking that direction because the entrance from Gibbet
lane was the principal highway into the town from Warley, Midg-
ley, Wadsworth, and Heptonstall. The Gibbet then existed and
was in full operation.

Many thanks are certainly due to our fellow townsman, Mr.
Horner, for preserving some of these memorials of Halifax in its
olden time ; they are characterized by truth and well deserve a
place in the library of every Halifaxonian.

Mr. Watson says " 1 have a plan of the town and precincts of
Halifax, which I copied from an old one drawn by the late Mr.
Brearcliffe, date uncertain. The places of note marked on this
plan are— the Church, Bayley hall, Moulter hall. Cross hill, Nor-
brigg. Stannary, and the Gibbett. No vicarage house and scarcely
any houses near the church. The greater number of buildings
appear to have been towards the top of the present town ; but there
seems not to have been a regular street in the whole place." It is
very probable this plan was taken about the year 1 648. (See Bio-
graphy. Brearcliffe John.) It is a matter of regret that Mr. Wat-
son did not favour us with a copy, it would have been an interesting
document, and certainly a happy substitute for the ill-executed
portrait of the Rev. Author.

The Rev. Thomas Wright, who published his history in the
year 1 738, says "so compact is now the town, and so contrived by
art, that from the hill which leads to and from Wakefield it represents
a cross, or rather two large beams laid cross one upon another, with
the left arm rather declining ; the whole consisting chiefly of four
streets, (the by lanes making no alteration in the figure) in the
midst whereof stands the market cross, with a large and plentiful
shambles. Below the shambles, the street towards the church con-
sists mostly of inns and woolshops. The upper part of the high
street, above the shambles, is taken up with inns and shops,
wherein are sold all sorts of merchandize. The left arm as you
ascend from the Cross is the market for corn, salt, cheese, &c. The
right arm is taken up with some shops, but most with private
dwellings and hous^es for public entertainment.



TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX. 327

" To the town thus described are annexed many regular and well
walled closes, variously checquered with the different beauties of
corn and grass ; that from the aforesaid heights, the most curious
traveller hath not seen a more delightful landscape, if such prospects
are viewed in their proper seasons,"

"In 1759, (says Mr. Watson,) I caused a ground plan to be
taken of the town (a copy of which accompanies his work) from this
survey it appears, that from the middle of Clark -bridge, to the last
house at the bottom of King Cross-lane, measures 1156 yards:
from the beginning of Southgate, to the end of Northgate, 673
yards; from the Cross, to the last house in King Cross lane, 581
yards ; from the Cross to the end of Southgate, 432 yards ; from
the Cross to the end of Northgate, 205 yards ; from the Cross to
the middle of Clark Bridge, 575 yards ; from the Cross to the last
house on the other side of Clark Bridge, 650 yards. Mr. Watson
also gives the names of the streets and other particular parts thereof
at that period, together with a South-east view of the town.

It then consisted of the following streets or lanes : — viz.
King-cross-lane, Hopwood-lane, Bull-green, Little-green, Bull-
close-lane, Barum top, Harrison-lane, Back-street, Lister-lane,
Cow-green, King-street, Copper-street, Swine market. Gibbet-lane,
Cabbage-lane, Pellon-lane, Loveledge-lane, Stone-trough-lanc,
Snidal well-lane, Cheapside, Crown-street, Market place, North-
gate, Corn-market, Southgate, Ward's-end, Blackledge, New-road,
Woolshops, Petticoat-lane, Smithystake-lane, Jail-lane, Causcy-
top. Causey, Skeldergate, Church-lane, Vicarage-lane, Well-i'th'
wall-lane. Mill-lane, Cripplcgate, and Bury-lane.

Watson mentions certain places of note in Halifax, as he terms
them. Amongst others,

BULL-GKEEN,

" Where (he says) in former times was carried on the diversion
of Bull baiting." To say the least of it, this is very hj^iothetical,
it is improbable that that diversion w^as ever carried on here to such
an extent as to give name to the place where it was exercised : it
is much more likely to have derived its name from the place being
set apart for the sale of the animal ; as was Cow-green, which he
supposes had its name from that sort of cattle being sold there.



328 TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX.

also Swine-market, and the Corn-market, from the particular com-
modity there exposed to sale.

CLARKE BRIDGE.

It is probable that a bridge of some description or other has ex-
isted here from time immemorial, it may have been first built, as
Watson conjectures, by the clergy or clerks, for the convenience
of passing from the church, either to their habitations, or some
place set apart for religious exercises on the other side of the river.
It was also the highway to Wakefield. His conjecture about the
"holy well" and the "yew tree," are very problematical, the tradi-
tion "in favor of this particular spot," requires better evidence in
support of it, than a modern public house sign.

CRIPPLEGATE.

It is much more probable took its name from the cripples who
used to beg there, than from the cause assigned by Watson, that
it "might take its name from the lame going this way to be cured
at the supposed holy place."

THE JAIL

Is appurtenant to the manor of Wakefield and kept by the lord's
bailiff. The antiquity of this jail does not appear from records, but
one doubtless existed in the times of the earls of Warren, not to
confine debtors only, but such felons as were taken within the li-
berties of the forest of Hardwick, and were there triable by the
custom of the said forest.

OLD MARKET-PLACE.

How long a market has been held in the town has never been
ascertained, neither is there any evidence to shew that it ever had
the privilege of holding one by charter. It avails but little at the
present day, its prescriptive title being equally good for every use-
ful purpose. " Here (says Watson,) is a cross of some antiquity,
though not curious ; a pillory* and stocks close by it ; and a little
higher in the street, at what is called the Corn market-end, a square
remain, in the centre of which was once fixed a May-pole.

* A Pillory seems to have been an ancient appendage to a Market, for in the 9th Ed-
ward I, wo find De Furnival, (according to Huntee, )in answer to a writ of gwo warranlo,
demanding of him by what warrant he claimed to have pleas of withernam, pillory, &c. in
his manor of Sheffield, replying that he made no claim to pleas of withernam ; but that he
had a pillory at Sheffield, and the assize of broad, because these are things always belonging
to a Market.



TOWNSHIP OF HALIEAX. 329

Two centuries ago every village had a May-pole, which was in
general placed in the most convenient part of the village.

"Happy the age, and harmless were the days,
For then true love and amity were found,
When every village did a May-pole raise." 1634.

Our custom "is the relic (says Mr. Bourne) of an ancient one
among the heathen, who observed the four last days of April, and
the first of May in honor of the goddess Flora."

In an old calendar of the Romish church, there is the following
observation on the 30th of April, "the boys go out and seek May-
trees."

We read of Henry the eighth's riding a Maying from Greenwich
to the high ground of Shooter's Hill, with Queen Katherine his
wife, accompanied with many lords and ladies. Mr. Brand also, in
his Popular Antiquities, quotes a pamphlet entitled. The way to things
by words, and to words by things, wherein the author tells us that
"this is one of the most ancient customs, which from the remotest
ages, has been by repetition from year to year, perpetuated down to
our days, not being at this instant totally exploded, especially in
the lower classes of life. It was considered as the boundary day,
that divided the confines of winter and summer, allusively to which
there was instituted a sportful war between two parties, the one in
defence of the continuance of Winter, the other for bringing in the
Summer. The youth were divided into troops, the one in winter
livery, the other in the gay habit of spring. The mock battle was
always fought booty, the Spring was sure to obtain the victory,
Avhich they celebrated by carrying triumphally green branches with
May flowers, proclaiming and singing the song of joy, of which the
burthen was in these, or equivalent terms.

We have brought Ihc summer homo."

" I have more than once (adds Mr. Brand,) been disturbed early
on May morning at Newcastle, by the noise of a song, which a wo-
man sung about the streets, who had several garlands in her hand,
and which, if I mistake not, she sold to any who was superstitious
enough to buy them. It is homely and low, but it must be remem-
bered our Treatise is not "on the sublime,"



330 TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX.

Rise up, maidens ! iy for shame,
I've been four lonsf miles from hame,
I've been gathering my Garlands gay,
Bise up, fair maids, and take in your May.''

The Mayings are yet kept up by the milk maids In London, as
also by the chimney sweeps, and some others of that ilk. In this
part it is usual for our coachmen to decorate their persons and their
horses, with floAvers and ribbons, and to exhibit a superior team on
the occasion. But these are nearly all the traces that now remain
to perpetuate the original sport ; new lights have sprung up, the
innocent diversions of our forefathers are falling into disuse,

"And harmless May-poles would now be rail'd upon,
As if they were the Tow'rs of JJabylon."

RATTON-ROW

Says Mr. Watson, is the name of some ground adjoining to the
church-yard, on the north side thereof. As this appellation, which is
very ancient, signifies the row or street where the fair was kept, it is
not unreasonable to suppose, that here was formerly a meeting every
year, to celebrate the feast of the dedication of the church ; for these
meetings, I think, are generally looked upon as the original of fairs.
And that they were anciently held in church-yards, appears from
Archbishop Stafford's forbidding the holding of fairs and markets in
church-yards throughout his province, in the year 1444, as they
had been before 13 Edward I. by the statute of Winchester.
ward's end

Is a name common to many places in England, and signifies
the end, or extreme part of the district, where in troublesome
times, watch and ward was kept ; thus if a chain of sentinels were
posted round Halifax, to prevent the entrance of any but friends,
one proper station would be at Ward's End.

The following survey of an house in Cheapside, Halifax, given
by Watson is too interesting to be omitted. "The date on the
back part of this house is 1665 ; but some parts of the building
seem to be much older. In a chamber window above stairs are
painted on glass, — 1. a dog raised on his hinder feet; 2. a cock
standing on his right foot, holding in his left a pole, v;hich he
shoulders, and on which is hung an hare, about his neck is slung



TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX, 331

a bugle horn, and on his head is an high crowned hat. 3. a gentle-
man and lady in antique dresses, joining hands, 4, 5, and G. fruit
and birds. In the hall window, 1. A female walking. 2. a man
walking ; both these in antique dresses. 3. a coat of arms as sup-
posed azure, three triple crowns, or two and one, the whole orna-
mented with sprigs. 4. a flower, 5. a man seated, dressing his
own sore leg, having a dirk at his side, 6. a man on the sea shore
flying from a mermaid in the water, who holds a glass, and seems
to be tempting him to stay. 7. a cat. 8. a man armed cap-a-pie
fighting with a bear, which stands erect, and he just on the point
of stabbing him. 9. a wild boar. 10. a man dressed in a green
doublet. 11. a man delivering to another a fish which he has just
taken ofi:' the head of a barrel. 12. a bear erect, with a broad sword
slung round his shoulder, and a smaller sword drawn in his right
paw, a bugle horn hung round his neck, 13 — 17. birds. 18. the
figure of a strange animal."

LOCAL ACTS OF PARLIAMENT.

Various local acts of Parliament have from time to time been
passed for the benefit of the town, &c. the first of them was in the
year 17G2, and was entitled "an act for supplying the town with
water," the object of this act was to enable certain commissioners
to remove the obstructions in the watercourse issuing from a public
spring called Well-head, by which the inhabitants had hitherto been
supplied with water for their domestic and other uses ; in conse-
quence of these obstructions, water used to be brought into the
town, from the well, in carts. The commissioners Averc also em-
powered to carry water to the town from other springs, then dis-
covered or which might thereafter be discovered near the town, and
to make reservoirs, &c. The next act was passed six years after-
wards, it was an act to amend the former act and for better paving
&c. the streets, and removing nuisances, &c. in the towai ; but both
these acts have been repealed, as will be seen hereafter.

Three acts have from time to time been passed for the recovery
of small debts within this and thirteen neighbouring parishes. The
powers vested in the commissioners under the first acts were of a
most extraordinary nature and appear to have been most shamefully
abused, there arc instances on record of their committing to prison
within a period of eighteen months, fifty four persons for three



332 TOWNSHIP OF HALIFAX.

months each, some of whose debts only amounted to 3s. 8d., and
who were supported while there, out of the jailor's private purse ;
and it appears from evidence adduced before a committee of the
house of commons, that one person was committed for three months
for a debt of one shilling and sixpence ; that at one period there
were fifteen persons confined in their prison, who were the parents
of seventy-three children, and whose debts amounted only to £17,



Online LibraryEng. (Lancashire). Parish BuryThe registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) → online text (page 30 of 52)