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floor at the right hand side of the house.

The Duke lived to the age of sixty in spite of his life of unbridled vice,
and it seems that a sudden illness seized him after a hard day's hunting,
and he died at the house in Kirby Moorside where he was taken instead of
to Helmsley. The house is still standing, and one may even see the room in
which the reckless Duke expired. As may be seen from the illustration the
house is a good one, and at that time must have been, with one exception,
the best in the village. The lines by Pope descriptive of the favourite's
death are, therefore, quite unwarranted: -

"In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
The floors of plaster and the walls of dung."

It never was an inn, and the Rev. R. V. Taylor[1] has discovered that the
house was in the occupation of one of his tenants. I have carefully
examined the house without finding anything to suggest that such squalor
could have ever existed there. The staircase is very picturesque, and one
of the brass drop handles on the bedroom doors shows that the building was
a good one. The bedroom in which the Duke died has the fireplace blocked
up; there is a recessed window containing a seat, and the walls, where
they are panelled, are of fir, although the larger beams throughout the
house seem to be of oak.

[Footnote 1: "Yorkshire Notes and Queries," May 1904, p. 68.]

The sudden demise of this famous man must have created a sensation in the
village, and although the body was not buried at Kirby Moorside, the
parish register of that time has this illiterate entry[2] -

_"buried in the yeare of our Lord 1687
Marke Reame ..... Aprill y^e 12
Gorges viluas Lord dooke of bookingam etc. 19"_

[Footnote 2: The third volume of the registers at the top of page 4.]

A letter from Lord Arran to the Duke's late chaplain, dated April 17th,
1687, says, "I have ordered the corpse to be embalmed and carried to
Helmsley Castle and there to remain till my Lady Duchess her pleasure
shall be known. There must be speedy care taken; for there is nothing here
but confusion, not to be expressed. Though his stewards have received vast
sums, there is not so much as one farthing, as they tell me, for defraying
the least expense." From this it appears that he died on or before the
17th of April, and that after the embalming process had been performed the
intestines were buried at Kirby Moorside on the 19th and not on the 17th,
as stated by Gill in his "Vallis Eboracensis."

One of the tattered registers[1] of Kirby Moorside also contains the
following remarkable entry: -

"Dorythy Sowerbie of Bransdales (slayne with 6 bullett by theeves in the
night) was buryed the 23th (sic) Day of May 1654." A few years before this
in 1650 the burial is recorded of "a stranger that y^t sold stockins."

[Footnote 1: Vol. ii. p. 2]

On the first page of the register dated 1704, the vicar, "M. James
Musgrave," gives a list of "things belonging to the churich - a surplus, a
Hud, a challis, a patton, tow-flaggons [these are of pewter and are kept
in the church], a putter Dubler, a Tabill clorth, on napkin. A dubler for

During this period the Duchy records show that Pickering Forest was still
being robbed of its oaks, some of them being used to repair the defences
of Scarborough Castle during the Civil War.

"Wee are informed that there were xxx^tie Trees or }
thereaboutes cut downe in Newton dale within the }
said fforest and carried to Scarbrough Castle by } 20 0 0"
Order from Sir Hugh Cholmley then Gouernor of }
the same, to the value of }

Some of the other entries at the same time are given below.[1]

"Wee are informed that divers olde trees are cut downe }
within the fforest of Pickeringe in a place called }lib.
Deepdale and Helley Greene by Robert Pate by the } 6 0 0
Appointment of Mathew ffranke Esquire to the }
value of }

Likewise wee are informed that John Hassell gent }
hath cut downe diuers trees in Dalbye within the } 19 0 0
said fforest to the value of }

Wee are likewise informed that Beatrice Hassell widdow }
hath cut downe diuers trees in Dalbye Hagges } 12 0 0
within the said fforest, to the value of }

Wee are likewise informed That seuerall Tennantes of }
Goatland haue cut downe two hundred Trees and }
more within the fforest in the North part of } 30 0 0
Newtondale and Gillwood to the value of }

And that Robert ffranke gent did take Composicions
and summes of money of seuerall of the said
Tennants of Goatland for the same wood.

And allso we are informed that there hath bene cut }
downe Two hundred Trees in Haughe Hagge }
within the said fforest, And that the said Trees were } l. s. d.
cut downe and Carried away by the poore people of } 40 0 0
Pickeringe in the yeares 1647 and 1648 to the }
value of }

[Footnote 1: From a thin foolscap book containing, inter alia, the
findings of the Juries of the Courts Leet, etc., in the possession of the
Rev. Arthur Hill of Thornton-le-dale.]

From the same book we discover that

"George Grayson holdes by Copie of Court Roll one
Cottage in Pickeringe and one Garth thereunto belonging,
dated the 11th of Aprill 1659 And was
admitted Tennant thereof by John Syms then
Steward and paid ffine 0 0 4"

This is of considerable interest in view of the fact that the Grayson
family are still tenants of the Duchy.

Tenants are mentioned as holding property in "Smiddiehill" and "Hungate
Greene," and the entry given below is interesting on account of the
mention of the market cross that has completely disappeared.

"Jane Moone widdow holdes one Messuage and one
parcell of waste ground in Pickering neare to the
Market Crosse and was admitted Tennant thereof
by John Sym, now deputie Steward, by Copie dated
the 22d of November 1659: And paid ffine for per
Admittance ... 0 8 1"

Many of the small houses of Pickering must have been built at this time.
One near the castle gateway has a stone in the gable end bearing the
initials E.C.W., and the date 1646, another with a thatched roof on the
south side of Eastgate, dated 1677, is now fast going to ruin. The roofs
were no doubt at that time chiefly covered with thatch, and the whole town
must have been extremely picturesque. The stocks, the shambles, and the
market cross stood in the centre of the town, and there were none of the
unpleasant features that modern ideas, unchecked by a sense of fitness and
proportion, bring in their wake.

The castle, we have seen, was in a far more perfect state than at the
present time, but the church must have appeared much as it does to-day.
The circular wooden pulpit is Georgian, and thus the one that preceded it
has disappeared. Two of the three bells that still hang in the tower bear
the date 1638. The treble bell is inscribed "Praise the Lord," and sounds
the note G sharp. The middle bell gives F sharp and the inscription is
"Soli deo gloria." Hanging in the bellcote of the schools adjoining the
church is the small bell dated 1632 that was removed from the Bruce Chapel
in 1857 when the schools were built. Before that date children were taught
in the Bruce Chapel.

In Archbishop Sharp's manuscripts (page 106) preserved at Bishopthorpe
there is a detailed account of the parish of Pickering. It is dated 1706,
and is given under the heading of "Dean of York's Peculiars." There are
numerous abbreviations, but the meaning is plain in most instances.

"_Pickering Vic. St Peter and St Paul_.

"1706. No Papist.

"A[nno] R[egni] Edw. I. 13. The Manor, Castle, Forest of Pickering were
given to Edmund E. of Lancaster and so became thenceforward part of that
Dutchy. The Church of Pickering was by Hen. I. given to the Deanery of
York, w^th the soke thereof and all the chappells and tithes belonging. It
is let at the rent of 100 li.

"The Vicarage consists of a house &c. And the tithe Hay of Garths w^ch may
yield 7 or 8 Load in a year to the vicar, and all the small tithes of the
Parish. Besides an augmentation of 20 li p an. made since the

"This is a large parish in which are 2 Chappells neither of them endowed
as the minister Mr Newton tells me, but he allows 5th to a neighboring
minister to serve the one and the other he goes to himself. This vicarage,
of the D^ns Collation is val in my B at 28 li. It is I hope worth 60 li
[not above 40 K.B. 8. 3. 9. T 16-40b.] _The Deans Tenant pays 20 li of

"Within this Parish are the Towns of Newton upon Rocliff, Blansby Park,
Kinthorp. Here also is Dereholm Grange and Loft Maress Grange. 1707. 41
(indistinct) John Pickering Vr.; 1715 Robert Hargreaves, Vicar; 1740 Sam^l
Hill Vicar.

"1745. George Dodsworth.

"1706 Papists 9. £ S. D.

"The Chappell of Goteland. 1716 4 0 0

"Being distant above 8 miles from the Parish Church
was by Dean Scot A.D. 1635 allowed the privilege of
Sepulture for the inhab. Saveing to the Mother
Church all its dues 1706 Certifyd by ye (indistinct) to
the Dean to be worth 4 0 0 Arising out of
Surplice Fees and Voluntary Contribution William
Prowde, Curate 1722 Jonathan Robinson, Curate."

[Illustration: The Maypole on Sinnington Green. The centre of many village
festivities in the past centuries.]

The country folk were in much the same state in regard to their morals and
superstitions as in the Georgian Era described in the next chapter, but it
is of great interest to know that efforts towards improvement were being
made as early as the year 1708. The following account given by Calvert of
an attempt to stop the May dance at Sinnington would show either that
these picturesque amusements were not so harmless as they appear at this
distance, or else that the "Broad Brims" were unduly severe on the
innocent pleasures of the time. The account is taken by Calvert "from one
Nares book."

[Illustration: An inverted stone coffin of much earlier date used as a
seventeenth century gravestone at Wykeham Abbey.]

"In the year 1708 there did come a great company of Broad Brims for to
stop the May Dance about the pole at Sinnington, and others acting by
concert did the like at Helmsley, Kirby Moorside and Slingsby, singing and
praying they gat them round about the garland pole whilst yet the may
Queen was not yet come but when those with flute and drum and dancers came
near to crown the Queen the Broad Brims did pray and sing psalms and would
not give way while at the finish up there was like for to be a sad end to
the day but some of the Sinnington Bucks did join hands in a long chain
and thus swept them clean from the pole. At Slingsby there was a great
dordum of a fight, but for a great while the Broad Brims have set their
faces against all manner of our enjoyment."

Fine examples of the carved oak cabinets, chests, and other pieces of
furniture of this period still survive in some of the houses of Pickering.
The cabinets generally bear the date and the initials of the maker, and
the I.B. to be seen on some of the finest pieces from this district are
the initials of John Boyes of Pickering, whose work belongs chiefly to the
time of William and Mary.


_The Forest and Vale in Georgian Times, 1714 to 1837_

With the accession of King George the First in 1714 we commence a new
section of the history of Pickering, a period notable in its latter years
for the sweeping away to a very large extent of the superstitions and
heathen practices which had survived until the first quarter of the
nineteenth century.

The town had probably altered very little in its general appearance since
the time of the Restoration. Most of the roofs were thatched; the castle
was probably more dismantled within the outer walls, but the church of the
Georgian period must have been almost identically the same as during the
century that preceded it, and as it remained until the restoration in

At the top of the market-place stood the stocks at the side of the old
stone-built shambles that disappeared in 1857, having for many generations
formed a background to the groups of buyers and sellers in the steep and
picturesque street. We can people the scene with the quaint costumes of
the eighteenth century; knee-breeches and long waistcoats are to be seen
in every direction, the three-cornered hat and the wig tied with a black
ribbon are worn by the better classes. The wives and daughters of the
squires and lesser gentry reflect in a modified form the fashions
prevailing in London, and to be observed in actuality among the gay crowds
that thronged the Spa at Scarborough, assuming and discarding the
hooped-petticoat according to the mode of the moment. We can see the
farmers of the Vale and those from the lonely dales discussing the news of
the week and reading the scarce and expensive newspapers that found their
way to Pickering. How much they understood of the reasons for the great
European wars and alliances it is not easy to say, but when the reports
came of victories to the British armies, assisted although they may have
been by paid allies, the patriotic feelings of these Yorkshiremen did not
fail to manifest themselves in a heavier consumption of beer than usual.
We can hear the chink of glasses and the rattle of pewter tankards in the
cosy parlours of the "White Swan," the "George," and the rest; we can hear
as the years go by the loud cheers raised for Marlborough, for Wolfe, for
Nelson, or for Wellington, while overhead the church bells are ringing
loudly in the old grey tower. These were the days of the highwaymen, and
even as late as 1830 a postman was robbed near the moorland village of
Lockton, on his way to Whitby. The driver of the mailcart at that time
used to carry a large brass-mounted cavalry pistol, which was handed to
him when he had mounted his box by one of the two old ladies who acted as
the post-mistresses of Pickering. It is not much more than ten years since
the death of Francis Gibson, a butcher of East Ayton, who was over a
hundred years old and remembered the capture of the last highwayman who
was known to carry on the old-time profession in the neighbourhood. He was
tracked to an inn at East Ayton where he was found sleeping. Soon
afterwards he found himself on the road to York, where he was hanged.

The road across Seamer Moor between Ayton and Scarborough was considered
sufficiently dangerous for those who travelled late to carry firearms.
Thus we can see Mr Thomas Chandler of the Low Hall at West Ayton - a
Justice of the Peace - having dined with some relations in Scarborough,
returning at a late hour. The lights of his big swinging barouche drawn by
a pair of fat chestnuts shine out on the white road; the country on either
side is unenclosed, and masked men may appear out of the shadows at any
moment. But if they are about they may have heard that Mr Chandler carries
a loaded pistol ready for emergencies, for they always let him reach his
house in safety.

To the simple peasants highwaymen were probably considered of small
account in comparison to the apparitions that haunted many parts of the
lonely country. Nearly every part of the moor had its own wraith or
boggle, and the fear of these ghosts was so widespread that in many cases
the clergy were induced to publicly lay them, after which were seen no

To record the advent of these strange beliefs is impossible, for who can
tell how or when they originated? We can only describe them at the time of
their destruction. Chaucer, writing in the fourteenth century, seemed to
imagine that belief in elves and fairies had received its death-blow in
his own time, for in "The Wife of Bath's Tale," he says -

"In tholdé dayés of the Kyng Arthour,
Of which that Britons speken greet honour,
All was this land fulfild of faïrye.
The elf queene with hir joly compaignye
Dauncéd ful ofte in many a greené mede.
This was the olde opinion as I rede, -
I speke of manye hundred yeres ago, -
But now kan no man se none elvés mo,
For now the greté charitee and prayeres
Of lymtours, and othere hooly freres,
That serchen every lond and every streem,
As thikke as motés in the sonné beem, -
Bléssynge hallés, chambres, kichenes, boures,
Citees, burghes, castels, hyé toures
Thrópés, bernés, shipnes, dayeryes, -
This maketh that ther been no faïryes."

Five hundred years, however, had to pass before the most implicit belief
in hobs, wraiths, and boggles was to disappear, and even at the present
day those who have intimate associations with the population of the North
Yorkshire moors know that traces of the old superstitions still survive.

Several books have been written on the folklore of Yorkshire and from them
it is possible to get a rough idea of the superstitions common to many
parts of the county, but these do not particularly concern the district
surrounding Pickering. We should probably have never heard of many curious
facts specially belonging to this part of the county if a small manuscript
book of closely written notes had not been discovered by Mr Richard
Blakeborough of Stockton-on-Tees, who has kindly allowed me to quote from
it. The stories were collected by one George Calvert, who writes in 1823,
and frequently mentions that the customs he describes were rapidly dying
out. Under the heading of "Witch Hags who have dwelt hereabouts" he
writes -

"They be so great in number that mayhap it will shew the more wisdom, if
mention be made only of those who in their day wrought some wondrous deed
or whose word cast fear upon all."

From this list I have picked out those that belong to the neighbourhood of
Pickering, and by the letters placed after each name one can discover in
the key given below the special arts practised by each "hag."

"Nancy Nares o' Pickering" [T V Z W Y].
"Nanny Pearson o' Goathland" [X].
"Nan Skaife o' Spaunton Moor," called also Mary or Jenny.
"Aud Mother Migg o' Cropton" [Z].
(Her real name was Sabina Moss).
"Sally Craggs o' Allerston" [V Z].
"Dina Sugget o' Levisham" [W Z].
"Hester Mudd o' Rosedale" [T V].
"And Emma Todd o' Ebberston [Y].


T Did also use the evil eye.
U Could turn thersels into a hare.
V Could turn thersels into a cat.
W Had a familiar.
X Could cripple a quickening bairn.
Y Well up in all matters of the black art.
Z Did use ye crystal.

"All these," says Calvert, "were at one time of great note and did in
their day work great deed and cast many an evil spell and charm and were
held in great fear by great many good and peaceful folk. It be not for me
to here put an argument in the favour of what do now be doubted and
scorned by some. I will but say that I have seen and know that which hath
been wrought by these hags o' the broom and of their power which they held
at their beck and wink the which is not to be set on one side at the flip
and flout of our young masters and misses, fresh from some teaching drove
into their brain pans by some idiotick and skeptick French teacher. I
therefore say no more on this matter."

Nancy Skaife of Spaunton Moor had a wonderful receipt for making a magic
cube, and as she was a famous witch of her time and was reputed to possess
most remarkable powers of foretelling events to come, it will be
interesting to learn the ingredients of her magic cubes.

[Illustration: Two ways of marking Magic Cubes. (_From Calvert's MS. Book
of Folklore_.)]

"Get you of the skull the bone part of a gibbetted man so much as one
ounce which you will dry and grind to a powder until when searced it be as
fine as wheatenmeal, this you will put away securely sealed in a glass
vial for seven years. You will then about the coming of the end of that
time (for your cube must be made on the eve of the day come seven years of
his gibbetting) get you together these several matters, all well dried and
powdered and finely searced so much as three barley corns weight of each

Bullock blood.
Moudy [mole] blood.
Great Flitter mouse blood.
Wild Dove blood.
Hag-worm head.
Toade heart.
Crab eyes.
Graveyard moss and worms.

These being all gotten together on the eve of that day make a stiff dough
of wheaten meal to the which you will add all the other powders working
them to a stiff mass and into cubes of one inch square, to be pressed to a
hollow, then they are to be set away to dry in a warm place for seven
months to the day when with a sharp screever you shall deeply screeve the
like of these upon each side, but be you mindful to screeve in the order
as here ordered always turning the cube over and towards the left hand,
the fifth side by turning the cube towards you, the sixth from you and
thus you make your magic cube."

"The proper way to draw the virtue from and read a forecast with such
cubes," says Calvert, "as yet I know not, but I learn that one Jane
Craggs, a mantu maker of Helmsley, not only owns a cube but does at times
play the craft for the entertainment of her lady visitors who wish their
fortunes casting. I learn from Betty [Ellis] that these cubes were tossed
upon the table and then used by the consultation of a book like unto that
of the witche's garter but this book Betty kens nothing of its
whereabouts. She aims one of her grandchilder must have gone off with it."

In the chapter devoted to Tudor times I have given an Elizabethan cure for
an "ill caste" by a witch, but Calvert also tells us of a method for
removing the spell from a "witch-held" house. "Of one thing I hear," he
says, "which be minded unto this present day the which be that a bunch of
yarrow gathered from off a grave and be cast within a sheet that hath
covered the dead and this be setten fire to and cast within the door of
any house thought to be witch held or having gotten upon it a spell of
ill-luck, it shall be at once cleansed from whatsoever ill there be come
again it as I hear even fevers and the like are on the instant driven
forth. And this," he quaintly adds, "be worth while of a trial."

Of the awesome sights to be seen at night time Calvert gives many details.

"There be over anenst Cropton towards Westwood seen now and again at times
wide asunder a man rushing fra those happening to cross his road with
flaming mouth and having empty eye sockets, a truly terrible apparition
for to come across of a sudden.

"At Bog Hall at times there is seen a plain specter of a man in bright
armour who doth show himself thus apparrelled both on the landing and in a
certain room.

"At that point where the Hodge and Dove mix their waters there is to be
seen on Hallow Een a lovely maiden robed in white and having long golden
hair down about her waist there standing with her bare arm thrown about
her companion's neck which is a most lovely white doe, but she allowed
none to come near to her.

"To the west of Brown Howe and standing by a boulder there be seen of a
summer's eve a maiden there seated a-combing out her jet black tresses so
as to hide her bare breast and shoulders, she looking to be much shamed to
there do her toilet.

"And at the high end of Carlton anenst Helmsley there be seen at times a
lovely maiden much afrighted galopping for very life oft casting her een
behind her."

PICKERING AND WHITBY WAS IN USE IN 1836. (_From Belcher's book on the
Pickering and Whitby Railway, 1836_.)]

Concerning the existence of this lovely maiden we have indisputable
evidence given us, for Calvert says that in the year 1762 "Jim Shepherd o'
Reskelf seed the maiden galloping."

Then there was the figure of "Sarkless Kitty"; but this spectre, we are
told, "having been public laid will now be seen never again and has the
very mention of her name be now a thing forbid by all it must soon come to
pass that the memory of this lewd hussey will be entire forgot and it of a
truth be better so."

But this only rouses one's curiosity, for the spectre must have been
surpassingly terrible to require the suppression of its very name.

It was in August in the year 1807 or 1809 (the manuscript is too much
soiled to be sure of the last figure) that either the Vicar of Lastingham
or his curate-in-charge publicly laid this spirit, which had for many
years haunted the wath or ford crossing the river Dove where it runs at no

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