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were still upon her spirit. — " Nay, 'twas but a dream."

" Dreams ! " cried Lord William, recovering from a
look of speechless amazement. " Thy dreams are more
akin to truth than ever were thy waking reveries."

" Nay, my lord, look not so unkindly on me, — I will tell
thee all. I dreamt that I was possessed, and this body
was the dwelling of a demon. It was permitted as a pu-
nishment for my transgressions ; for I had sought commu-
nion with the fiend. I was the companion of witches, —
foul and abominable shapes ; — a beastly crew, with whom
I was doomed to associate. Hellish rites and deeds, too
horrible to name, were perpetrated. As a witness of my
degradation, methought my right hand was withered. I
feel it still ! Yet, — surely 'twas a dream ! "

She raised her hand, gazing earnestly on it, which, to
Lord William's amazement, appeared whole as before,
save a slight mark round the wrist, but the ring was not

N 2


" What can this betide ? " said the trembling sufferer.
She looked suspiciously on this apparent confirmation of
her guilt, and then upon her husband. " Oh, tell me that
I did but dream ! "

But Lord William spoke not.

" I know it all now ! " she said, with a heavy sob.
" My crime is punished ; and I loathe my own form, for it
is polluted. Yet the whole has passed but as some horri-
ble dream, — and I am free ! This tabernacle is cleansed:
no more shall it be defiled ; for to Thee do I render up
my trust."

A mild radiance had displaced the wild and unnatural
lustre of her eye, as she looked up to the Mercy she in-
voked, and was forgiven.

Her spirit was permitted but a brief sojourn in this re-
gion of sorrow. Ere another sun, her head hung lifeless
on Lord William's bosom : — he had pressed her to his
heart in token of forgiveness ; but he held only the cold
and clammy shrine, — the idol had departed !

According to the popular solution of this fearful mystery,
a demon or familiar had re-animated her form while she
lay senseless at the sudden and unlooked for dissolution
of the witches' assembly. In this shape the imp had
joined the rendezvous at the mill, and fleeing from the
effects of Robin's valour, maliciously hoped that Lord
William would execute a swift vengeance on his erring
bride. But his hand was stayed by another and more
merciful power, and the demon was cast out.

The ring and glove were not found. It was said that
Mause Helston had taken them as a gage of fealty, and
dying about the same period was denied the rites of


Christian burial. Hence may have arisen the belief which
tradition has preserved respecting the Lady Sibyl.

Popular superstition still alleges that her grave was dug
where the dark " Eagle Crag" shoots out its cold bare
peak into the sky. Often, it is said, on the eve of All-
Hallows, do the hound and the milk-white doe meet on
the crag, — a spectre-huntsman in full chase. The belated
peasant crosses himself at the sound as he remembers the
fate of " The Witch of Bernshaw Tower."

N 3


N 4)

" Let me no longer live, she sayd,
Than to my lord I true remain ;
My honour shall not be betray'd
Until I see my love again.

* * # * »

Oh ! blame her not if she was glad

When she her lord again had seen.
Thrice welcome home, my dear, she said, —

A long time absent thou hast been :
The wars shall never more deprive

Me of my lord whilst I'm alive."

MiBROuB FOR Married Women.


No authentic drawing or representation of Lathom
House, we believe, exists. The author has, however, had
the temerity to present a restoration of this renowned
edifice, as it appeared before the siege, and before " the
sequestrators under Cromwell, weary of the slow disposal
of the building-materials by sale, invited the peasants of
the hundred of West Derby to take away the stones and
timbers without any charge."

The very numerous documents to which he has had
recourse were aided by measurements, and a visit to the
spot, where he found that a tolerably accurate idea might
be formed of the situation and extent of the walls and
towers, together with the main entrance, and the " great

The accompanying view is taken from a hill above the
valley or trench, where, it is said, the main army of the
besiegers was encamped. It is called in the neighbourhood,
" Cromwell's trench," and the engraving may serve to con-
vey some idea of that magnificent and princely dwelling,
which, as the old ballad expresses it, would hold " two
kinges, their traines and all." Henry the Seventh, two


years after his visit to Lathom, restored his palace at
Richmond, the same authority tells us, " like Lathom
Hall in fashion." The gate-house in the engraving is
drawn from the description of a carving of the Stanley
legend in Manchester Collegiate Church, executed in the
time of James Stanley, Bishop of Ely. From this it ap-
pears to have had two octagonal turrets on each side of
an obtusely pointed or circular archway with battlements,
machicolated and pierced for cannon.

The Eagle Tower alone remained when part of the
estate was transferred to John Lord Ashburnham, on his
marriage, in 1714, with Henrietta, daughter of William,
ninth Earl of Derby. Lord Ashburnham sold it to a
Furness, and he to Sir Thomas Bootle. Not a vestige
now exists, and even the records of the family are de-
stroyed. " Golforden," says Mr. Heywood, in his inter-
esting Notes to a Journal of the Siege of Lathom, " along
whose banks knights and ladies have a thousand times
made resort, hearkening to stories as varied as those of
Boccaccio ; — the maudlin well, where the pilgrim and the
lazar devoutly cooled their parched lips ; — the mewing-
house, — the training round, — every appendage to an-
tique baronial state, — all now are changed, and a modern
mansion and a new possessor fill the place."


Xhis memorable siege, and the heroic defence by Lady
Derby, though among the most prominent topics in the
history of the county, supply but few materials which
may not be found in records that already exist. Yet
there are incidents connected with them which the histo-
rian has left unrecorded; occurrences, it might be, too
trivial or too apocr3q)hal for his pen. One of the main
events in the following narrative, though not found
amongst written and authenticated records, the author
has listened to when a child, with a vigorous and greedy
appetite for wonder, — ^one of the earliest and most de-
lightful exercises of the imagination.

We purpose to follow briefly the order of events as
they appear in the several narratives to which we have
had access, interweaving such traditionary matter as we
have gathered in our researches ; thereby interrupting and
relieving the tediousness of this " thrice-told tale."

Lord Derby, from the usual unhappy fatality, or rather
from the indecision and jealousies prevailing in his ma-


jesty's councils, had been commanded to leave the realm,
and proceed instantly to the Isle of Man, at the precise
time when his presence here would have been the most
serviceable, not only from his great zeal, activity, and
loyalty to his sovereign, but by reason of the influence
he possessed, and the example which his noble and va-
liant bearing had shewn throughout the county. His
house, children, and all other temporal concerns, he left
to the care of his lady, first making provision, secretly,
for their defence, supplying her with men, money, and
ammunition, that she might not be unprepared in case of
attack. His lordship's opinion of this disastrous and im-
politic removal may be gathered from the following hasty
expressions. After a perusal of the despatches, announc-
ing the king's, or rather the queen's, pleasure that he
should speedily repair to the Isle of Man, where an inva-
sion was apprehended from the Scots, — speaking to the
Lady Derby with more than ordinary quickness, he said,
" My heart, my enemies have now their will, having pre-
vailed with his majesty to order me to the Isle of Man, as
a softer banishment from his presence and their malice."

This valiant and high-born dame was daughter to
Claude, Duke of Tremouille, and Charlotte Brabantin de
Nassau, daughter of William Prince of Orange and Char-
lotte de Bourbon, of the royal house of France. By this
marriage the Earl of Derby was allied to the French
kings, the Dukes of Anjou, the Kings of Naples and
Sicily, the Kings of Spain, and many other of the sovereign
princes of Europe. Her father was a staunch Huguenot,
and a trusty follower of Henry IV. That she did not sully
the renown acquired by so illustrious a descent, the fol-
lowing narrative will abundantly prove.


It was at a special council of the Holy States *, held at
Manchester, on Saturday, the 24th of February, 1644,
that, after many former debates and consultations, the
siege of Lathom was concluded upon. The parliament
troops under Colonel Ashton of Middleton, Colonel
Moore of Bank-Hall, and Colonel Rigby of Preston, on
the same day began their march, proceeding by way of
Bolton, Wigan, and Standish, under a pretence of going
into Westmoreland, that the soldiers should not presently
know of their destination.

Lathom, for magnificence and hospitality, was held in
high reputation, assuming, in these respects, the attitude
of a royal court in the northern parts of the kingdom ;
and the family were regarded with such veneration and
esteem, that the following harmless inversion was familiar
" as household words :" — " God save the Earl of Derby
and the King :" — the general feeling and opinion thereby
apparent being love to their lord, and loyalty to their

On the 2Tth of February, the enemy took up their
quarters about a mile distant from the house. The next
day, Captain Markland was the bearer of a letter to her
ladyship, from Sir Thomas Fairfax, commander-in-chief of
the parliamentary forces, and likewise an ordinance of
parliament : the one, requiring that she should surrender
the house upon such honourable terms as he might pro-
pose ; and the other, setting forth and commending the
great mercy they had manifested, by thus offering to re-

* The name assumed by a body of men who met, during the wars,
in Manchester ; and who in energy and power were second only to
their London brethren.


ceive the Earl of Derby if he would submit himself. But
she indignantly refused to surrender without the consent
and commandment of her lord ; and after many inter-
views, to which she assented only to gain time, and to
complete the provisioning and fortifying of her little gar-
rison, they began to find her answers too full of policy and
procrastination, dangerous to the fidelity of their troops.
In the end, seeing she was only amusing them by vain
pretences, they sent the following, as their final terms, by
Colonel Morgan, commander of the engineers, who had
been appointed by Sir Thomas Fairfax to conduct the siege.
1st. " That the Countess of Derby shall have the time
she desires, and then liberty to transport her arms and
goods to the Isle of Man, except the cannon, which shall
continue there for the defence of the house.

2d. " That her ladyship, by 10 o'clock on the morrow,
shall disband all her soldiers, except her menial servants,
and receive an officer and forty parliament soldiers for her

Morgan is described as " a litle man, short and per-
emptory, who met with staidnes to coole his heat ; and had
the honor to carry backe this last answer — for her lady-
shipp could scrue them to noe moi'e delayes, viz. —

" That she refused all their articles, and was truely
happy they had refused hers, protesting shee had rather
hazard her life, than offer the like again ; —

'< That though a woman, and a stranger, divorced from
her friends, and rob'd of her estate, she was ready to
receive their utmost vyolence, trusting in God both for
protection and deliverance. "

The next morning they discovered the enemy had been
at work about a musket shot from the house, in a sloping


ground, where they appeared to be forming a breast-work
and trench to protect the pioneers, — multitudes of coun-
try people being every day forced into this laborious

The situation of Lathom deserves some notice, it being
admirably calculated to resist any attack.

" It was encompassed by a strong wall, two yards
thick ; upon the walls were nine towers, flanking each
other, and in every tower six pieces of ordnance, that
played three one way and three another. Upon the tops
of these towers were placed the best and choicest marks-
men, who usually attended the earl in his sports, as
huntsmen, keepers, fowlers, and the like, who continually
kept watch, with screwed guns, and long fowling-pieces,
to the great annoyance and loss of the enemy, especially
of their commanders, who were frequently killed in the
trenches. Without the wall, was a moat eight yards
wide, and two yards deep : between the wall and the
moat was a strong row of palisadoes. A high tower,
called the Eagle Tower, stood in the midst, surmounting
all the rest. The gate-house had a strong tower on each
side, forming the entrance to the first court."

The site of the house seemed to have been formed for
a strong hold, or place of safety ; thus described by Sea-
come : —

" Before the house, to the south and south-west, is a
rising ground, so near as to overlook the top of it, from
which it falls so quick, that nothing planted against it
on those sides can touch it further than the front wall ;
and on the north and east sides there is another rising
ground, even to the edge of the moat." — " The situation
of it may be compared to the palm of a man's hand, flat in


the middle, and covered with a rising ground, about it, and
so near to it, that the enemy, in two years' siege, were
never able to raise a battery against it, so as to make a
breach in the wall practicable to enter the house by way
of storm." *

It is said the camp of the besiegers was in a woody dell,
near what is now called " The Round O Quarry," about
half a mile from Lathom. This dell is still called " Crom-
well's Trench ; " and a large and remarkable stone, having
two circular hollows or holes on its upper surface, evi-
dently once containing nodules of iron, is called " Crom-
well's stone," — the country people supposing these holes
were used as moulds for casting balls during the siege.

The besiegers, however, thought to reduce the place
by famine, being deceived through the following device of
her ladyship's chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Rutter, a person
whom the earl had left to her assistance, that she might
be guided by his great skill and prudence : —

During one of the conferences before named, a captain
of the parliamentary forces recognising in the chaplain an
old friend, with whom he had been educated, and very in-
timate and familiar aforetime, took a secret opportunity of
addressing him, hoping to worm out her ladyship's secrets ;
conjuring him, by reason of their former friendship, to tell
truly upon what ground or confidence she gtUl refused
these offers, seeing that it was impossible to defend her
house against such a numerous and well-furnished army as
was then encamped in the park.

Rutter, casting his eyes earnestly towards the ramparts,

Hist, of the House of Stanley, p. 90.


bade his friend note their disposition and defence. — Her
ladyship, as commander-in-chief, to prevent any sudden
assault, and likewise to awe the enemy by these demon-
strations, had disposed her soldiers in due order, so that
they should be seen, under their respective officers, from
the main-guard in the first court, down to the great hall,
where they had left her ladyship's council. The rest of
her forces she had placed upon the walls, and on the tops
of the towers, in such manner that they might appear both
numerous and well-disciplined.

" She is in nothing so desirous," said Rutter, " as that
you should waste your strength and forces by a sudden
assault, wherein you would not fail to have the Avorst of
the battle : the place being armed at all points, as thou
seest, and able to withstand any attack but that of

A promise of secresy was exacted, when the wary
chaplain pretended to unfold her ladyship's plans. He
said there was but little provision in the place — that she
was oppressed with the number of her soldiers — that she
would not be able to subsist more than fourteen days ; and
she hoped to dare them to a sudden onset, not from her
own confidence to give them a repulse, but knowing, that
should they continue the siege, she must inevitably be
forced to surrender.

The captain, after embracing his friend, and promising
faithfully to maintain the secret, revealed, as Rutter in-
tended he should, the whole of this confidential story to
the enemy's council ; who, giving credit to the tale, laid
aside, for the present, all thoughts of an attack, and re-
solved to invest the place in a close and formal siege.
Fourteen days being expired, and they, supposing her

VOL. II. o


provisions were nigh spent, and the garrison reduced to
the last extremity, sent another and more peremptory
summons. But during this time her soldiers were train-
ing — the walls and fortifications were undergoing a tho-
rough repair, — and the cannon properly served and
mounted. The fortress, too, was well stocked, and even
abundantly stored with provisions, in spite of their ene-
mies, who kept a strict watch, but failed to detect the
source and manner of the supply. She was not without
hope, too, of relief from the king's troops, whom she daily
expected to her assistance.

The besiegers finding themselves deceived, — their
confidence abused, and their schemes only serving to the
advantage of the opposite party, — orders were given, and
preparations made, for more offensive measures, by draw-
ing a line of circumvallation round the house.

The garrison consisted of 300 men, commanded by the
Captains Henry Ogle, Edward Chisnall, Edward Raws-
thorne, William Farmer, Mullineux Ratcliffe, and Richard
Fox, assisted in their consultations by William Farrington,
of Werden, Esq., who, for executing the commission of
array, and attending her ladyship in these troubles, had
suffered the seizure of all his personal estate, and the se-
questration of his lands.

There were 150 men each night upon the watch, with
the exception of sixteen select marksmen out of the whole
who all day kept the towers.

The besiegers' army was between two and three thou-
sand, divided into tertias of seven or eight hundred men,
who watched every third day and night. They were
commanded by Colonels Egerton, Ashton, Holland, Rig-


by, Moore, and Morgan, with their captains and lieu-
After many warlike demonstrations, by which they
hoped to intimidate the garrison, and after some days
spent in fruitless endeavours to bring her ladyship, as
they said, to a due sense of her condition, they sent one
Captain Ashurst, " a fair and civil gentleman, of good
character," with fresh proposals. But Lady Derby,
justly considering these frequent treaties and debates
were a discouragement to her men, implying weakness
and a want of confidence in her resources, replied
sharply —

" That no one should quit the house ; but that she
would keep it, whilst God enabled her, against all the
king's enemies ; — that, in brief, she would receive no
more messages, but referred them to her lord, scorning
their malice, and defying their assaults."

As the sequel of a business often depends upon the man-
ner of its beginning, to second and confirm this answer,
the next morning she ordered a sally, when Captain Far-
mer, with one hundred foot, and Lieutenant Kay, with
twelve horse, their whole cavalry, went forth at different
gates. Captain Farmer, determining to take them by sur-
prise, marched up to the enemies' works without firing a
shot ; then pouncing upon them suddenly in their trenches,
he ordered a close and well-aimed volley, which quickly
made them leave their holes in great disorder. Imme-
diately, Lieutenant Kay, wheeling round with his horse,
took them in flank, doing great execution as they fled.
There were slain of the enemy about thirty men. The
spoil was forty muskets, one drum, and six prisoners.
The retreat of this little band was skilfully secured by
o 2


Captain Ogle and Captain Ravvsthorne, so that not one of
the assailants was either slain or wounded.

The besiegers were much annoyed with devices, inge-
niously contrived by the garrison to intimidate them, and
hinder and injure their work. Hitherto they had not been
able to cast up a mound for their ordnance, so harassed
and occupied were they with these incessant alarms. But
Rigby, on whom devolved the plan and conduct of the
siege, seeing that their affairs were in no thriving condition,
but that rather they were the scoff and jest of the garrison,
who daily taunted them from the walls, determined at all
hazards to raise his cannon. For this purpose, a con-
siderable number of the peasantry and poorer sort in the
neighbourhood, and for miles round, were driven like
beasts to their daily work, labouring unremittingly at the
mounds and trenches. At first they were sheltered by
baskets and hurdles, afterwards by a testudo or wooden
house, running upon wheels, and roofed with thick planks.
Still many lives were lost in this desperate service In the
end they brought up one piece of cannon, amusing them-
selves like schoolboys at a holiday, in practising their
harmless reports. The first shot struck the outer wall,
but it was found proof. Afterwards, they aimed higher,
intending to beat down a pinnacle or turret, but this also
passed without damage. The last shot, which missed
entirely, went over and beyond the buildings, burrowing
in a field on the other side.

When they had performed this mighty feat, they sounded
another parley, having, as they supposed, mightily beat down
the hearts of the besieged. Colonel Rigby's chaplain then
appeared at the gate with a letter, that Sir Thomas Fairfax
had received from Lord Derby, who was now at Chester,


on his return from the Isle of Man. In this epistle, he de-
sired a free and honourable passage for his lady and their
children, if she so pleased, being unwilling, as he said, to
expose them to the uncertain hazard of a long siege. His
Lordship knew not, by reason of his long absence, either
how his house was provided with ammunition and sus-
tenance, or in what condition it might be, to withstand the
attack. He was desirous that the garrison alone should
bear the brunt, and that a defenceless woman and her
children should be rescued from captivity.

Her ladyship replied, that she would communicate with
the earl, and if he should then continue in the same
opinion, she would willingly submit to his commands ; but
until this, she would neither yield up the house nor abate
in her hostility, but would abide by the result. Imme-
diately she despatched to his lordship a messenger, con-
veying him from the house by a well-executed sally. The
attempt succeeded ; but whether he was suffered to reach
his destination or not, we have no means of ascertaining.
No answer was returned, though some days had elapsed,
during which the enemy made many fruitless attempts to
batter the walls.

They had now mounted the whole of their artillery, in-
cluding their great mortar-piece, at that period looked
upon as a most destructive engine, casting stones thirteen
inches in diameter, and eighty pounds weight; likewise
granadoes, — hollow balls of iron, filled with powder, and
lighted by a fusee. These were dangerous intruders, cal-
culated to produce great alarm and annoyance, as we
shall find in the sequel. The mortar was planted only
about half a musket shot from the walls, south-west, on a

o 3


rising ground, from whence the engineer commanded a
view of the whole buildings.

The work on which it stood was orbicular, with a ram-
part of two yards and a half broad above the ditch. To
lessen the destructive effects of this dangerous piece of
artillery, chosen men were set as guards with wet hides
and woollen coverlids to quench the flame, had the enemy

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