Edwin Waugh.

Sketches of Lancashire life and localities online

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" In winter's tedious nights, sit by the fire
"With good old (oiks, and let them tell thee tale?."







«'OnetoacIi of nature realms tho whole world kin."






67 o


In this little volume, relating, principally, to a district with
•which the writer is intimately acquainted, he has gathered
up a few points of local interest, and, in connection with
these, he has endeavoured to embody something of the traits
of present life in South Lancashire with descriptions of its
scenery, and with such gleanings from its local history as bore
upon the subject, and, under the circumstances, were avail-
able to him. How far he has succeeded in combining a
volume of local matter, which may be instructive or inter-
esting, he is willing to leave to the judgment of those readers
who know the country and the people it deals with. He is
conscious that, in comparison with the fertile field of strong
peculiarities which Lancashire presents to writers who are able
to gather it up, and to use it well, this volume is fragmentary
and discursive; yet he believes, that, so far as it goes, it will
not be wholly unacceptable to native readers.

The historical information interspersed throughout the
volume, has been gathered from so many sources that it
would be a matter of considerable difficulty to give a coru-




plete and detailed acknowledgment of it. In every important
case, however, this acknowledgment has been given, with
Borne degree of care, as fully and clearly as possible, in the
course of the work. Some of this historical matter may
prove to be ill-chosen, if not ill-used— perhaps in some cases
it might have been obtained in a better form, and even more
correctly given — but the writer has, at least, the satisfaction
of knowing that, with such light as he had, and with such
elements as were convenient to him, he has been guided, in
his selection of that kind of information, by a desire to obtain
the most correct and the most applicable matter which was

available to him.

A book which is p\u-ely local in its character and bearing,
as this is, cannot be expected to have much interest for per-
sons unconnected with the district which it relates to. If there
is any hope of its being read at all, that hope is centred
there. The subjects it treats upon being local, and the lan-
guage used in it being often the vernacular of a particular
part of the county, these circumstances combine to narrow
its circle of acquaintance. But, in order to make that part
of it which is given in the dialect as intelligible as possible
to all readers not intimate with that form of native language,
some care has been taken to explain such words as are un-
usually ambiguous in form, or in meaning. And, here it
may be noticed, that persons who know little or nothing of
the dialect of Lancashire, are apt to think of it as one in
form and soimd throughout the county, and expect it to


assume one unvaried feature whenever it is represented in
writing. This is a mistake; for there often exist consider-
able shades of difference — even in places not more than eight
or ten miles apart — in the expression, and in the form of
words which mean the same thing; and, sometimes, the lan-
guage of a very limited locality, though bearing the same
general characteristics as the dialect of the county in general,
is rendered still more perceptibly distinctive in features, by
idioms and proverbs peculiar to that particular spot. In this
volume, however, the writer has taken care to give the dialect,
as well as he could, in such a form as would convey to the
mind of the general reader a correct idea of the mode of pro-
nunciation, and the signification of the idioms, used in the
immediate locality which he happens to be writing about.

Lancashire has had some learned writers who have written
upon themes generally and locally interesting. But the suc-
cessful delineation of the quaint and racy features of its
humble life has fallen to the lot of very few. John Collier,
our sound-hearted and clear-headed native humourist of the
last century, left behind him some exquisite glimpses of the
manner of life in Ins own nook of Lancashire, at that time.
The little which he wrote, although so eccentric and peculiar
in character as to be almost unintelUgible to the general
reader, contains such evidence of genius and so many rare
touches of nature, that to those who can discern the riches
hidden under its quaint vernacular garb, it wears a peren-
nial charm, in some degree akin to that which characterises


the writings of such men as Cervantes and De Foe. And, in
our own day, Samuel Bamford — emphatically a native man —
has, with felicitous truth, transferred to his pages some living
pictures of Lancashire life, which will probably be read with
more interest even than now, long after the writer has been
gathered to his fathers. There are others who have illustrated
some of the conditions of social existence in Lancashire, in a
graphic manner, with more polish and more learning ; but,
for native force and truth, John Collier and Samuel Bam-
ford are, probably, the foremost of all genuine expositors of
the characteristics of the Lancashire people.

In conclusion, all that has hitherto been done in this way,
is small in amount, compared with that which is left undone.
The past, and still more the disappearing present, of this
important district teem with significant features, which, if
caught up and truthfully re-presented, might, perhaps, be
useful to the next generation.

E. W.

1, Sjiring Gardens.



Ramble from Bury to Rochdale - -. - ..!

TnE Cottage op Tim Bobbin, and the Village of Milnrow - 32

Rostiierne Mere - - - - - -67

Highways and Byeways, from Rochdale to the Top of Black-
stone Edge - - - - - -80

The Town of Heywood, and its Neighbourhood - - - - 158

The Grave of Grislehubst Boggart - - - 213

Boggart Ho' Clough 235

"Oft, from the forest, wildings lie did bring."





"The lav'rock shuns the palace gay,
And o'er the cottage sing»;
For nature smiles as sweet, I ween,
To shepherds as to kings."



" Its hardly in a body's pow'r
To keep, at times, frae being sour,

To see how tilings are shar'd ;
How best o' chiels are whiles in want,
While coofs on countless thousands rant,

And ken na how to wair't :
But, Davie, lad, ne'er fash your head,

Though we hae little gear,
We're fit to win our daily bread,

As lang's we're hale and fier."


One fine afternoon, at the end of February, I had some
business to do in Bury, which kept me there till evening.
As the twilight came stealing on, the skies settled slowly into
a gorgeous combination of the grandest shapes and hues, which
appeared to canopy the country for miles around. The air
was very clear, and it was nipping cold ; and every object within
sight stood out in beautiful relief in that fine transparence,
softened by the deepening shades of evening. Every thing
seemed to stand still and meditate, and inhale silently the air
of peace which pervaded that magnificent and tranquil hour
of closing day, as if all things on earth had caught the spirit
of " meek nature's evening comments on the fuming shows
and vanities of man." The glare of daylight is naturally fitted
for bustle and business, but such an eventide as this looked
the very native hour of devout thought and recovery. It is
said that the town of Bury takes its name from the Saxon
word byri, a burgh, or castle. One of the twelve ancient
baronial fortresses of Lancashire, stood in " Castle Croft,"
near the town, and upon the banks of the old course of the



river Irwell. Immediately below the eminence, upon which
the castle once reared its frowning walls, a low tract of
ground, of considerable extent, stretches away from below the
semicircular ridge upon which the northern extremity of the
town is situated, up the valley of the Irwell. Less than fifty
years since, this low tract was a great stagnant swamp, where,
in certain states of the weather, the people of the neighbour-
hood could see, to the dismay of some of them, the weird
antics of the " Wild Fire," or, " Jack o' Lantern," that fiend
of morass and fen. An old medical gentleman, of high repute,
who has lived his whole life in the town, lately assured me
that he remembers well that during the existence of that poi-
sonous swamp, there was a remarkable prevalence of fevers and
ague amongst the people living in its neighbourhood ; which
diseases have since then comparatively disappeared from the
locality. There is something rich in excellent suggestions in
the change which has been wrought in that spot. The valley
which was so long fruitful in pestilences, is now drained and
cleared, and blooms with little garden allotments, belong-
ing to the working people thereabouts. Oft as I chance to
pass that way, on the East Lancashire Railway, on Saturday
afternoons, or holidays, there they are, working in their little
plots, sometimes assisted by their children, or their wives ; a
very pleasant scene. Most Englishmen, of any station, glory
in a bit of garden of their own, and take pleasure in the pains
they bestow upon it.

I lingered in the market place a little while, looking at the
parish church, with its new tower and spire, and at the fine
pile of new stone buildings, consisting of the Derby Hotel, the
Town Hall, and the Athenamin. Lancashire has, upon the
whole, for a very long time past, been chiefly careful about its
hard productive work, and practicable places to do it in ; and
has taken little thought about artistic ornament of any sort ;
but the strong, old county palatine begins to flower out a little
here and there, and this will continue to increase as the enor-


mous wealth of the county becomes influenced by elevated
taste. In this new range of buildings, there was a stateliness
and beauty, which made the rest of the town of Bury look
smaller and balder than ever it appeared to me before. There
they stood in the town, but not, apparently, of the town ; for
they looked like a piece of tbe west end of London, dropped
among a cluster of weavers' cottages. But my reflections took
another direction. At " Tbe Derby," there, thought I, will be
supplied — to anybody who can command "the one thing need-
fid," in exchange — sumptuous eating and drinking, fine linen,
and downy beds, hung with damask curtaining ; together with
grand upholstery, glittering chandelier and looking glass, and
more than enough of other ornamental garniture of all sorts ;
a fine cook's shop and dormitory, where a man might make
shift to tickle a few of his five senses very prettily, if he was
so disposed, and was fully armed to encounter the bill. A
beggar is not likely to put up there ; but a lord might chance
to go to bed there, and dream that he was a beggar. At the
other end of these fine buildings, the new Athenaeum was
quietly rising into the ah. The wants to be provided for in that
edifice were quite of another kind. There is in the town of
Bury, as, more or less, everywhere, a thin sprinkling of natu-
rally active and noble minds, struggling through the bard crust
of ignorance and difficulty, towards mental light and freedom.
Such salt as this poor world of ours has in it, is not unfre-
quently found among this humble brood of stragglers. I felt
sure that such as these, at least, would watch the laying of the
stones of tbis new Athenaeum, with a little genuine interest.
That is their grand citadel, thought I ; and from thence, the
fatal artillery of a few old books shall help to batter tyranny
and nonsense about the ears; — for there is a reasonable
prospect that there, the ample page of knowledge, " rich with
the spoils of time," will be unfolded freely, to all who desire
to consult it; and that from thence the seeds of thought may


yet be sown, by wise human cultivators, over a little space
of the neighbouring mental soil. This fine old England of
ours will some day find, like the rest of the world, that it is
not mere wealth and luxury, and dexterous juggling among
the legerdemain of trade, that make and maintain its greatness,
but intelligent and noble-hearted men, in whatever station
of life they grow ; and they are, at least, sometimes found
among the obscure, unostentatious, and very poor. It will
learn to prize these, as the " pulse of the machine," to culti-
vate and conserve such, as the chief hope of its future existence
aud glory ; and will carefully remove, as much as possible,
all unnecessary difficulties from the path of those, who, from
a wise instinct of nature, are impelled in the pursuit of know-
ledge by pure love of it, for its own sake, and not by sordid

The new Town Hall is the central building of this fine pile.
The fresh nap was not yet worn off it ; and, of course, its
authorities were anxious to preserve its pristine Corinthian
beauty from the contaminations of "the unwashed." They
had made it nice, and they preferred nice people in it This
feeling seemed to prevail so much, that at the " free exhibition"
of models for the Peel monument, a notice was posted at the
entrance of the hall, warning visitors, that " Persons in
Clogs" would not be admitted. There are many Town Halls
which are public property, and not the propeity of a private
gentleman as this is said to be, in the management of which
a kindred solicitude prevails about mere ornaments of wood
aud stone, or painting, gilding, and plaster work ; leading to
kindred restrictions, which greatly diminish the service which
such places might afford to the whole public. They are some-
times kept rather too exclusively for grandee-festivals; and
gatherings of those classes which are too much sundered
from the poorer part of the community by a Chinese wall
of exclusive feeling, and rather vulgarly distinguished from


them by the vague name of "the respectable." I have
known the authorities of such places make "serious objec-
tions to evening meetings;" and yet, how oft have I seen
the farce of "public meetings" got up by this party, or that,
ostensibly for the discussion of some important question then
agitating the population of the neighbourhood, inviting 2)iihlic
discussion, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, an hour when
the heterodox multitude they feared to meet, would be
secure enough at their labour ; and, in this way, any pack of
fanatic hounds — and there are some such in all parties —
might howl out their hour in safety, with a clear stage and no
foe ; and, after that, walk off glorying in their sham triumph,
leaving nothing beaten behind them but the air they have
tainted with ex parte denunciations. And, in my erroneous be-
lief that this Town Hall, into which "Pex'sons in Clogs" were
not to be admitted, was public property, the qualification test
seemed to me of a rather queer kind, and altogether at the
wrong end of the man. Alas, for these poor lads who wear
clogs and work-soiled fustian garments; it takes a moral Co-
lumbus, every now and then, to keep the world at all awake to
a dim belief that there is something hue in them, which has
been running to waste for want of recognition and culture.
Blessed and beautiful are the feet, thought I, which fortune
hath encased in tbe neat "Clarence," of the softest calf or
Cordovan, or the glossy " Wellington," of fine French leather.
Even so ; the woodenest human head has a better chance in
this world, if it come before us covered with a <?ood-lookin«
hat. But, woe unto your impertinent curiosity, ye unfortunate
clog-wearing lovers of the fine arts ! — (I was strongly assured
that there were several curious specimens of this strange
animal extant among the working people of Bury.) It was
pleasant to hear, however, that several of these ardent persons
of questionable understanding, meeting with this restrictive
warning as they attempted to enter the hall, after duly con-
templating it with humourous awe, doffed their condemned


clogs at once, and, tucking the odious timber under their
arms, ran up the steps in their stocking-feet. It is a
consolation to believe that these clogs of theirs are not the
only clogs yet to be taken off in this world of ours. But, as
this "Town Hall" is private property, and, as it has been
settled by a certaiu coronetted Solon of the north, that "a
man can do what he likes with his own," these reflections are
more pertinent to other public halls that I know of than to
this one.

In one of the windows of " The Derby" was exhibited a
representation of "The Eagle and Child," or, as the country-
folk in Lancashire sometimes call it, " Th' Brid and Bantlin'," *
the ancient recognizance of the Stanleys, Earls of Derby, and
formerly kings of the Isle of Man, with their motto, " Sans
Changer," in a scroll beneath, This family still owns the
manor of Bury, and has considerable possessions there.
They have also large estates and great influence in the North
and West of Lancashire. In former times they have been

* In " Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica," occurs tho following, among
other interesting matter referring to this " most ancient and distinguished bear-
ing'*: — " It is generally known that the ancient and chivalrous house of Stanley,
branching from the Aldithleys, assumed its local name from the Staffordshire manor
of Stauley, and that, on a subsequent acquisition of the Forestership of Wirral, in
Cheshire, it adopted the allusive arms so often triumphant in the tournament and
the battle-iield — ' the buck's head on a bend Azure.' To these arms, however, at
the close of the fourteenth century, the junior, but most distinguished branch,
Stanley of Lathom and Knowsley, added, instead of their former bearing, the crest
of the eagle and cradled infant — being the previous cognizance of the Lathoms, to
whose estates they succeeded by marriage."

And the following, in allusion to what is known as the " Stanley Legend": —
"The tradition (as given by Bp. Stanley in his ' Historicall Poem touching ye
Family of Stanley') (1) agreeing with Vincent's MS. Collections in the College of
Arms, describes the Lord of Lathom as issueless and aged ' fowerscore' adopting an
infant 'swaddled and clad in a mantle of redd,' which an eagle brings unhurt to

(1) '• By Thomas Stanley, Bishop of Man. An imperfect ancient copy exists in MS.
Ilarl. 511, and a larger portion is transcribed in Cole's MSS. vol. zxlx. Another
copy, presumed to be completed by various collations of the author of this essay, is
in the library of Sedbury.

,; In the ' 1 1 istory of Birds,' by Edward Stanley, Rector of Aldcrley (now Bishop of
Norwich), vol. i. 119, will be found some Interesting anecdotes of asportation of
infants by eagles, illustrative of the family crest, and the corresponding story of King
Alfred and the Eagle's Nursling, ' Ncstingum.' "


accounted the most powerful family of the county; and
iu some of the old wars, they led to the field a large propor-
tion of the martial chivalry of Lancashire under their banner.
As I looked on the Stanleys' crest, I thought of the fortunes
of that noble house, and of the strange events which it had
shared with the rest of the kingdom. Of James, Earl of Derby,
who was beheaded at Bolton-le-Moors, in front of the Man
and Scythe Inn, in Deansgate, two centuries since ; and of
his countess, Charlotte de Tremouille, who so bravely defended
Lathom House against the parliamentary forces during the
last civil wars. She was daughter to Claude, Duke of Tre-
mouille, and Charlotte Brabantin de Nassau, daughter of
"William, Prince of Orange, and Charlotte de Bouribon, of the
royal house of France. Apart from all the pride of famous
descent, both the earl and his lady were remarkable for
certain high and noble qualities of mind, which commanded
the respect of all parties in those troubled times. I some-
times think that if it had pleased Heaven for me to have lived

her nest in Terlestowe wood, and which he names Oskell, and makes heir of Lathom,
where he becomes the father of Isabel Stanley, stolen away in the first instance by
her knight, and afterwards forgiven by Sir Oskell. (2)

" In Seacome's History of the House of Stanley is given another version, supplied
by representatives of the Lathoms of Irlam, in Lancashire, and Hawthorne, in
Cheshire, descended, according to their own tradition, from the legendary foundling ;
the tradition stating as follows : —

" ' That Sir Thomas de Lathom, son of Sir Robert (one descent being omitted J,
in the reign of Edward III., had Isabella by his lady, and an illegitimate son
by an intrigue; and that the son was introduced to his wife's notice, as found
under a tree near the eagle's aery, and, in the first instance, adopted under the
name of Sir Oskatel, but discarded before the death of Sir Thomas ; Irlam and
Urmston, in Lancashire, and Hawthorne, in Cheshire, being settled on him and
his heirs, and the rest of the Lathom estate duly descending to Isabel Lady Stanley.
That on such adoption Sir Thomas had assumed for his crest "an eagle upon wing,
turning her head back, and looking in a sprightly manner as for something she had
lost," and that on the disowning, the Stanleys, "either to distinguish or aggrandise
themselves, or in contempt and derision, took upon them the Eagle and Child," thus
manifesting the variation and the reason of it.' "

(2) "The Legend, as thus told, is represented by fine oaken carvings in the
Warden's stall, at Manchester, put up by the before-mentioned James Stanley,
Bishop of Ely. In the foreground is the ancient gatehouse of Lathom Hall,
which has been incorporated with the restoration of that celebrated building en-
graved in 'Roby's Traditions of Lancashire.'"


iu those days, I should have been compelled by nature to fall
into some Roundhead rank, and do a stroke or two, the best I
could, for that cause. When a lad at school I had this feeling ;
and, as I pored over the history of that period, sometimes by
the light of the fire, for want of a candle, I well remember how,
in my own mind, I shouted the solemn battle-cry with great
Cromwell and his captains, and charged with the earnest
Puritans, in their bloody struggles against the rampant
tyrannies of the time. Yet, even then, I never read of this
same James, Earl of Derby — the bravest and most faithful
soldier of a very infatuated king — without a feeliug of admira-
tion for the chivalry of his character. I lately saw, in Bolton,
an antique cup of " stone china," quaintly painted and gilt, out

Online LibraryEdwin WaughSketches of Lancashire life and localities → online text (page 1 of 24)