The following worthies are referred to in the Parish Church Register:-
Dr. THOMAS ROBERTSON was born at Wakefield about the year 1507. After going through the usual classical education, he was admitted at Queen's Colleges Oxford, and became afterwards successively a Demy and Fellow of Magdalene. In 1539 he was treasurer of the Church of Salisbury, and 1540 Archdeacon of Leicester, to which dignity he succeeded through the patronage of Longland, Bishop of Lincoln. This office he held until the year 1560, when, having refused to take the oath of supremacy, he was forced to resign it. He was Rector of St. Laud's, at Sherrington, in Buckinghamshire; in 1532 he was collated to the Prebend of Walton Westhall in Lincoln Cathedral; in 1533 to that of Sleaford, in 1536 to that of Gretton, and in 1542 to that of Croperdy. In 1546 he succeeded Dr. Thomas Knolles, in the vicarage of his native place, in consequence of which he vacated the Treasurership of Salisbury. In 1549 he was one of those divines who were appointed by the King to compose the Liturgy, and on the deprivation of Dr. Horne, in 1557, was made Dean of Durham, which dignity, however, he enjoyed only two years, being obliged to resign it at the end of that time. When appointed Dean of Durham he was so much respected for his learning and piety that a Bishopric was offered him, which he refused. Whilst Fellow of Magdalene College, he was Master of the College School, where he gained great and deserved reputation as a teacher.
HUGH PAULIN CRESSY, son of Hugh Cressy, was born in Wakefield in the year 1605, and educated at the Grammar School, from whence he went to Merton College, Oxford, of which Society he was subsequently a Fellow. He travelled with Charles Berkley, Esq., and after taking orders, became Chaplain to the Earl of Strafford, as also to Lord Falkland, whom he accompanied to Ireland, where he obtained the Deanery of Leighlin, to which was shortly after added a Canonry of Windsor, but the troubles which then broke out prevented his enjoying his preferment. This happened in 1643, and in 1644 we find him at Rome recanting the Protestant doctrines and embracing Popery. He had a great friend in Dr. Hammond, to whom he sent a copy of his reasons for embracing the Roman Catholic Faith, which reasons he had published previous to his becoming a Benedictine Monk. The Dr. invited him back to England, with a promise that he should be well provided for, and enjoy full liberty of conscience; but he rejected this friendly offer, observing that he had embraced an order which enjoined poverty and a renunciation of the world. Being presented by the Queen with 100 crowns, he settled amongst the Benedictines at Doha, where he changed the name of Hugh Paulin for that of Serenus. With the Benedictines of Douay he remained seven years, and was afterwards sent to England as one of the Mission. He became Chaplain to Catherine, Infanta of Portugal and wife of Charles II. For many years he was a zealous writer for the Catholic cause, and some of his works were answered by Dr. Stillingfleet and Lord Clarendon. His principal work, "The Church History of Brittany," was published in 1688, and presents a strange medley of learning, industry, and superstition. He died in the house of Mr. Caryle, at East Grinstead, in Sussex, on the 10th of August, 1674, in the 69th year of his age.
CHARLES HOOLE was born in this town in the year 1610, and received his education at the Grammar School, then under the superintendence of Mr. Doughty. Having prepared himself for the University, he was admitted at Lincoln College, Oxford, through the interest of Dr. Sanderson, to whom he was related and who in more instances than one greatly befriended him. At College Mr Hoole was soon distinguished for his attainments in classical learning, and immediately after having taken his first degree, was appointed Master of the Grammar School of Rotherham, by the kind interference of his friend, Dr. Sanderson. At the regular period he commenced Master of Arts, and continued to superintend the School at Rotherham till the breaking out of the civil wars, when being known as a strenuous royalist, he was obliged to leave Yorkshire and to take refuge in London. Here he gained much reputation by the rapidity with which he advanced his pupils, for he still continued the profession of a teacher, first in Red Cross Street and afterwards in Token House Yard. Upon the restoration, the inconveniences Mr Hoole had undergone on account of his loyalty, and the promotion of his friend and relative Dr. Sanderson to the See of Lincoln, afforded him great hopes of advancement in the Church; indeed his prospects at first were very cheering, for that Prelate made him his Chaplain and gave him a prebendal stall in the Church of Lincoln; but all his hopes were soon crushed by the death of his patron, and he eventually retired to the small Rectory of Stork, in Essex, where he continued to reside till the day of his death, March 7th, 1666. Mr Hoole was the author of several works on education, and though great improvements in the mode of imparting instruction have taken place since his time, yet his publications prove the reputation he had acquired to have been well founded and not greater than he merited.
JFREMIAH WHITACRE, or WHITAKER was born about the same time as Mr Hoole, and proceeded from the Grammar School of Wakefield to Sidney College, Cambridge, where he took the degrees of B.A. and M.A. at the regular times. On leaving the University he was appointed to the Mastership of Oakham School, and subsequently to the living of Stretton, both in the County of Rutland. He was one of the Divines in the Assembly of 1642, and obtained much credit on that occasion for the propriety and moderation of his conduct. Being chosen to fill the office of Lecturer at St. Mary Magdalen's, Bermondsey, he was much admired as an earliest, zealous and orthodox preacher. In benevolence and true charity he was excelled by none, and as long as his purse contained anything, so long were the indigent sure of having their applications for relief attended to. After suffering with exemplary patience, many long and painful attacks of the stone, he died on the 6th of June 1654, lamented by all who knew him.
DR. JOHN RADCLIFFE, founder of the magnificent Library at Oxford which bears his name, was born at Wakefield in the year 1653, and educated at the Grammar School, from whence he removed to Oxford, where he was a Student at University College in 1666. Soon after taking the degree of B.A., he was elected Fellow of Lincoln College, and then commenced the necessary studies preparatory to his becoming a Physician. The professional works he appears to have principally consulted, were those of Dr. Willis, at that time a Physician of remarkable eminence in London; but books do not seem to have claimed much of his notice, for it is reported that being once asked by a friend to shew him his library, he pointed to a skeleton and a herbal and said "these are my library." In 1675 he began to practise, having then proceeded to Bachelor of Physic, and immediately commenced a mode of treating his patients so entirely different from that of the other physicians, that he was called by them the empiric, which insult he retorted by styling them old nurses. He was so successful in his practice, that in less than two years his reputation was equal to that of the oldest of his opponents. It has been thought that his wit and vivacity had greater weight than his learning in securing to him so great a share of public favour, but in more than one instance this disposition of temper produced a contrary effect; indeed he lost his fellowship at Lincoln in consequence of having levelled some jests against Dr. Marshall, Rector of that College, who, to punish him, refused a faculty to dispense with his taking orders, without which he could no longer hold that appointment. He accordingly resigned it in 1677, and in 1682 took the degree of M.D. After this he continued to reside at Oxford two years, during which period his wealth and reputation rapidly increased. Leaving Oxford, he went to London, and settled in Covent Garden, where his abilities soon introduced him into very extensive practice. In 1686 he was appointed Physician to the Princess Anne, of Denmark. To the day of his death, which took place on the 1st of November, 1714, Dr. Radcliffe continued to increase in wealth and reputation. He was 64 years old when he died, and it is generally imagined that his death was accelerated by his vexation at having, in a moment of ill-humour, neglected the request of the Privy Council to attend Queen Anne in her last illness. He was buried with great solemnity in St. Mary's Church at Oxford, to which University he was a most liberal Benefactor, having bequeathed to it £40,000 for the purpose of building the Library which bears his name, together with a Salary of £150 per annum for the Librarian; £100 to purchase books; and £100 to keep them in repair. He also founded two fellowships "for persons to be elected out of the University of Oxford when they are M.A., and entered on the Physic line." These fellowships are tenable for ten years, and produce £300 per annum each. The foundation of the Library was laid in June, 1736, and the building was opened on the 13th of April, 1749, in grand procession by Dr. Radcliffe's Trustees and the Heads of houses. He also left sufficient funds to build and furnish a Public Infirmary on the North Side of the City of Oxford, and an Observatory, both of which bear his name and add to the advantages which that University so largely enjoys from his munificence.
RICHARD THOMPSON was a native of Wakefield, born about the same time as Dr. Radcliffe, and educated at the Grammar School, from whence he was sent to University College, Oxford, and remained there till the time of his commencing B.A., after which he removed to Cambridge, and there took degree of M.A. He next became Curate to Dr. Pierce, at Brington, in Northamptonshire, and when the Doctor became Dean of Salisbury, he made Mr. Thompson a Prebendary, and gave him the Church of St. Mary at Marlborough; in addition to which he obtained the Church of Bedminster, near Bristol, and the Vicarage of St. Mary, Redcliffe, in that city. Mr. Thompson was a very zealous Churchman, and during disturbances in 1678, having to preach at Salisbury, he remarked in the course of his sermon that "there was no Popish but a Presbyterian plot"-from this circumstance he obtained the name of a Papist. He strenuously opposed petitions for the sitting of Parliament, and suffered in consequence of his opposition. He attracted the attention of King Charles II., who, as a recompense for what he had undergone, made him Dean of Bristol, in consequence of which appointment he was created Docter of Divinity at Cambridge. Dr. Thompson died at Bristol in 1685, and was buried in the South Aisle of the Cathedral there.
WILLIAM PINDAR son of Nicholas Pindar, and a contemporary of Dr. Thompson, was a native of Wakefield, and received the early part of his education at the Grammar School of the town. He was taken from school with the intent of being brought up to trade, and was for some time apprentice to an oil-drawer in Wakefield, but being of very studious habits, removed to Oxford, and took his degree at the usual time. He was Rector of St. Ebbes, Oxford, and became Chaplain to Ford, Lord Gray. He was a man of sound doctrine, and very energetic in his preaching; and it was hoped that he would have been of great service to the Church of England, but his early death, which took place in 1678, defeated all the expectations of his friends, and of those who had looked to him as an able advocate and a defender of that Church of which he was a distinguished member.
JOSEPH BINGHAM whose works have obtained for him the name of "the learned Bingham," was born here in the year 1658. After having been for some years at the Grammar School of his native place, he was entered a member of University College, Oxford, and became Fellow at the regular time. He continued at Oxford for a considerable period, and at last left it in consequence of being publicly censured for a sermon he had preached upon the Trinity. He now resided at Headbourn-worthy, near Winchester, to the Rectory of which place he was presented in 1690, by his fellow townsman, Dr. Radcliffe. It was in this retirement that he began to compose his great work the "Origines Ecclesiasticae, or Antiquities of the Christian Church".
The first volume of this book appeared in 1708, and the whole is highly creditable to the talents, learning and persevering industry of the author of "The French Church's Apology for the Church of England"-"A Scholastic History of Lay Baptism"-and a "Discourse concerning the Mercy of God to Penitent Sinners." It might have been expected that the value and celebrity of Bingham's works would have procured their author some elevated rank in the Church, but he received no further addition to his income than that of the Rectory of Havant, near Portsmouth, to which Bishop Trelawney collated him in 1712; and this he enjoyed till his death, August 17th, 1723, after having, like many others, reduced himself almost to poverty, by embarking his little property in the South Sea Bubble.
DR. JOHN POTTER, Archbishop of Canterbury, son of Mr Thomas Potter, a linen draper in this town, was born in the year 1674, as appears from the following entry in the matriculation book of the University of Oxford-1688, 18 Mar. Joh. Potter, fil. Th. P. Wakefield Ebor, paup. an. nat. 14. "He was educated at the Grammar School, and entered a Servitor of University College, Oxford, at the age of 14, as is seen from the above extract. On his first admission in College he became pupil of Mr. Bateman, at whose death he was instructed by Mr. Bingham. He commenced B.A. in 1691-2. In 1698 he was ordained Deacon, and in 1699 Priest, by Bishop Hough. In the year 1694 he was made Fellow of Lincoln College, and in the same year published "Variantes Lectiones et Notoe ad Plutarchi Librum De audiendis poetis," which was printed at the Theatre at the cost, of Dr. Charlett, Master of University College, of whom Dr. Potter thus speaks in his address to the reader: "Totum opus debes eximio viro Arturo Charletto, cujus hortatu susceptum est; viro inter prooecipua Oxonioe nostroe ornamenta memorando, tam impense colit studia, studiosos amat. fovet, provehit." He soon after published "Variantes lectiones et Notoe ad Basilu Magni Orationem ad Juvenes quomodo cum Fructu legere possint Graecorum Libros." In 1694 he proceeded M.A., and in 1697 published a folio edition of Lycophron, which is considered very valuable, and was reprinted in 1702. The first volume of his "Archaelogia Graeca, or Antiquities of Greece," was printed in the same year, and the second volume, which completes that truly useful work, appeared in the following year. It has since passed through many editions, and has been translated into Latin. Its great utility is known to every scholar, and will always secure it a ready and extensive circulation. These works procured their author the friendship and correspondence of the learned abroad and at home, amongst whom was Graevius, to whom he dedicated the 2nd edition of his Lycophron. Having taken the degree of B.D. in 1704, he was appointed Chaplain to Archbishop Tennison, and went to reside at Lambeth. In 1705 he was presented by the Archbishop to the Rectory of Great Mongeham in Kent; in 1706 he became D.D., resigned his fellowship, and was made Chaplain to the Queen; the next year he was presented by the Archbishop to the Rectory of Monk Risborough, in Buckinghamshire, and afterwards to that of Newington, Oxfordshire; about this time he published a "A Discourse of Church Government," and in 1708, through the interest of the Duke of Marlborough, he was appointed Regins Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1716 he was elected Bishop of Oxford, through the interest of the same nobleman. This year he also sent to press an edition of "Clemens Alexandrinus" in 2 vols. folio, and "A Sermon preached before the House of Lords on the day of the King's Accession." In 1716 and 1719 he published his "Charges to the Clergy of his Diocese," to the latter of which the Bishop of Bangor replied; against whose accusations Dr. Potter published an able "Defence of the late Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Oxford." In 1727 he published "A Sermon preached at the Coronation of King George II. and Queen Caroline," and in 1736 on the death of Archbishop Wake he was translated to the Archiepiscopal See of Canterbury, which high station he filled for ten years, dying in 1747. He was buried in the Chancel of Croydon Church under a plain stone bearing the following inscription:-"Here lieth the body of the most Reverend John Potter, D.D., Archbishop of Canterbury, who died Oct. 10th, 1747, in the 74th year of his age. "Dr. Potter was married soon after his appointment to the Divinity Professorship, and had a large family, six of whom survived him. He was distinguished for piety, learning and prudence: by some indeed, particularly by Whiston, he has been accused of pride and hauteur, but there is no ground for concluding that he did more than sustain his high office with the dignity and decorum it required. His moderation in politics cannot but be admired, particularly when he is known, not only to have been a party man himself, but also to have been promoted by the interest of the party he espoused. The attack made upon him by the Bishop of Bangor he repelled with dignified firmness, and though much was laid to his charge, yet nothing could diminish the favour which his established integrity and credit had procured for him. Through a very active life this exemplary prelate and learned man fully substantiated his claim to the high honours and elevated rank he enjoyed.
THOMAS ROBINSON, fourth son of Mr. James Robinson, hosier, was born on the 29th August, 1749, in the house next adjoining to that in which Archbishop Potter lived during his infancy, and where he probably was born. He was educated at the Grammar School, principally under the Rev. Mr. Atkinson, who admiring the great industry and talents of his pupil, took the liveliest interest in promoting his improvement. At 14 years of age he was taken from school and put to business, which, however, he soon left, at the solicitation of his Master, to pursue the necessary studies for his education at the University. In consideration of his diligence the Governors of the Grammar School allowed him a double exhibition amounting to £40 per annum, and he was admitted a Sizar of Trinity College, Cambridge. A remarkable incident occurred a short time previous to his removal to Cambridge, which probably gave a bias to the conduct of his after-life. He was asked by a poor shoe-maker of the town if he was not going to be a clergyman, to which having replied that he was, the man said, "Then, Sir, I hope you will study your Bible, that you may be able to feed the flock of Christ with spiritual food." The honesty and kindness of the poor man impressed Mr. Robinson's mind in a way that he never forgot. His character was manly and decided, as may be known from his journey to Cambridge alone, in order to be examined previous to his residence there, which took place in October, 1768. The regularity of Mr. Robinson's conduct in College and his strict attention to religious duties, no less than his industry, talents and success in the prosecution of the studies of the place, soon secured him the attention of all ranks and made him many valuable friends. In April, 1771, he was elected Scholar of Trinity College, and in December of the same year he obtained the 2nd of Dr. Hooper's Prizes for the best English Declamations delivered in the Chapel of that College. Whilst keeping exercises in the Schools he obtained much credit for the ingenuity of his arguments, which he always made himself, a practice very uncommon even with the first-rate mathematicians, and these were as ably defended as ingeniously framed. In consequence of his mode of disputing in the schools, he was placed in the first class of Questionists, and at the conclusion of the Senate House Examination, was declared Seventh Wrangler; a very high degree for one who had not the advantage of a private Tutor. In October, 1772, though he had left College and taken the Curacy of Whitcham, in the Isle of Ely, yet it having been determined that the Junior Bachelors should contrary to the usual custom, be allowed to sit for Fellowships, he attended the examinations and obtained one, whilst nine of his seniors were rejected. In 1773 he received the second Prize for the best Latin Essay by Middle Bachelors; Dr. James, afterwards Master of Rugby, who particularly excelled in writing Latin prose, having gained the first. Having obtained his Fellowship be returned to his Curacy, contrary to the advice of Bishop Hinchliff, then Master of Trinity, who earnestly pressed on him the advantage of residence. But his inclination and a sense of duty induced him to relinquish the prospects held out to him at College for the more laborious and less profitable duties of a Parish Priest. His preaching soon attracted attention and drew to the Church a numerous congregation, composed of persons from his own and most of the surrounding parishes. He resided at Whiteham for about two years, when he resigned the situation in consequence of a dispute between him and the parishioners respecting the singing of hymns, which he had introduced into the Church service, contrary to their wishes. He next became Curate to the Rev. Mr. Haines, at Leicester, on the recommendation of Dr. Stevells, then a Fellow of Trinity. The peculiar doctrines of Mr. Robinson produced him many opponents as well as friends, and amongst the latter several Dissenters, who returned to the Church under his ministry. In 1774 he was appointed Chaplain to the Leicester Infirmary, and in the same year married a lady to whom he had been engaged from his first undertaking the Curacy of Whiteham. In 1778 a Tuesday Evening Lecture was founded by subscription at St. Mary's, Leicester, and Mr. Robinson was appointed the first Lecturer. In 1778 also, on the death of Mr. Simmons, Incumbent of St. Mary's, and at the recommendation of Lord Dartmouth, the living was presented to him by the Lord Chancellor, but in this situation he did not meet with much satisfaction at the onset, for he and his parishioners soon had a dispute about the singing in the Church, and when this was settled he had the misfortune to be again involved in a controversy respecting the erection of a new gallery. These unpleasant circumstances, however, were obviated in the course of time, and he continued to live the remainder of his life on friendly terms with his congregation and parish. In 1785 he published the first edition of his "Scripture Characters." This work was well received by the public, and encouraged him to appear again as an Author, in a series of Essays, entitled, "The Christian System," which did not meet with so favourable a reception as his former publication. After having led a life of much usefulness, he died on the 24th of March, 1813, universally respected by the inhabitants of Leicester, and particularly by his own parishioners, who entered into a very handsome subscription for a monument to his memory, which was soon after erected in the Church of St. Mary.
CHARLES WATERTON, THE NATURALIST.
This list of Wakefield worthies would not be complete without a brief reference to the Celebrated Naturalist, Charles Waterton, of Walton Hall, whom I had the pleasure of knowing personally for some years. Waterton was the representative of one of the most ancient English families, and was a descendant from Sir Thomas More. His ancestor Reiner, the son of Norman, of Normandy, who became Lord of Waterton in 1159, was of Saxon origin. The Watertons, of Waterton, became extinct in the male line in the 15th century, when their vast possessions passed away, through Cecilia, wife of Lord Welles, and heiress of her brother, Sir Robert Waterton, and her four sisters. Our hero was born in 1782 at Walton Hall, and died in 1865. aged 83. He was a traveller and a literary man. He inherited a fortune from his father, and early in life started to make the "grand tour" in South America, the North West of the United States, and the Antilles, during the years 1812-24. His adventures, of which he wrote a graphic account, were remarkable. His celebrated ride on the back of a Cayman (crocodile) in South America is well known. After this he made a second journey abroad, and turned his house into a natural history museum. The collection has been exhibited at various towns, and is now located at Stoneyhurst. Waterton also did his utmost to encourage the settlement of migratory birds in his grounds, and it was a fine sight in the summer time to see the herons, guillemots, and other seafowl on the banks of his lake. His woods abounded with nearly every species of English bird. His death was accelerated by an accident in his grounds, causing a rupture of the liver. He was a man of many eccentricities, sleeping on the floor with a wooden pillow, and favouring an old style of costume. In 1823 he married Miss Edmondstone, who died the next year, leaving a child, Edmund. He was educated at Stoneyhurst Roman Catholic College, and inherited the estate, which he sold in 1870. In consequence of the great number of curiosities, buyers came from London and all parts of the United Kingdom, and Mr. Howgate, the auctioneer, had a large audience for several days. The property now belongs to Mr. E. Simpson, of the firm of Hodgson and Simpson, the great soap manufacturers, and Mr. Hailstone is the occupier. The house stands on an island, and is approached by an iron bridge, near which are the ruins of the ancient castle, consisting of a gateway, the door of which retains bullets which were fired by Cromwell's army when beseiging it.
PETER PRIESTLEY, Parish Clerk of All Saints' Church, Wakefield, 1790. About the year 1790, a sturdy veteran, one Peter Priestley, was clerk, sexton and gravestone cutter at the Parish Church. He was an old and very respectable inhabitant of Wakefield, commendably proud of his various offices, and not at all addicted to superstitious fears; if he had ever been so, his
long connection with the repositories of the departed had considerably allayed his apprehensions.
lt was on Saturday evening, at this cheerless and gloomy season, that Peter sallied forth from
his dwelling in Ratten Row, now Bread Street, to finish the epitaph on a stone which was to be
in readiness for removal before Sunday. Arrived at the Church, within which for shelter he had
been working, Peter set down his lantern, and lighting his other candle, which stood in a "potato candlestick," he resumed his task. The Church clock had some time struck eleven, and some letters were still unexecuted, when lo, a singular noise arrested the arm of Peter, and he looked around him in silent astonishment. The sound, perhaps, cannot be better expressed than by the word "hiss," or "hush." Recovering from his surprise, Peter concluded that he had been deceived, especially as his sense of hearing was not remarkably perfect, and he therefore resumed his mallet and chisel very composedly; but, in a few minutes, his ear was again greeted with the fearful sound of "hiss!" Peter now rose straight up, and lighting his lantern, he searched in vain for the cause whence this uncommon sound proceeded, and was about to leave the Church when the recollection of his promises and imperious necessity withheld him, and he resumed his courage. The hammer of the clock now struck upon the great bell, and it sounded-twelve.
Peter, having now little more to do than examine and touch up his new letters, was surveying
them with downcast head, and more that ordinary minuteness, when louder than ever came upon
his ear the dreadful note-"hiss!" And now in truth he stood appalled. Fear had
succeeded doubt, and terror fear. He had profaned the morning of the Sabbath, and he was
commanded to desist-or peradventure the sentence of death had been passed upon him and he was
now himself to be laid among- "Whole rows of kindred and acquaintance By far his juniors." With tottering gait, however, Peter went to bed; but sleep had forsaken him. His wife in vain interrogated him as to the nature of his indisposition. Every comfort that the good housewife could during the night, think of, was administered to no purpose. In the morning the good woman, happening to cast her eyes upon the great chair where Peter's wig was suspended, exclaimed with vehemence, "Oh, Peter, what hast thou been doing to burn all t'hair of one side of thy wig?" "Ah! God bless thee," vociferated Peter, jumping out of bed, "thou hast cured me with that word." The mysterious "hiss and hush," were sounds from the frizzling of Peter's wig by the flame of his candle, which, to his imperfect sense of hearing imported things "horrible and awfu." The discovery, and the tale, afforded Peter and the good people of merry Wakefield many a joke.
I have heard the story related by so many old, respected, and intelligent natives of the town who knew Peter well, that not a doubt can exist as to the fact. Wakefield has been the scene of many interesting adventures, which ought not to be lost through supiness and false notions.
I have heard, on good authority, one of a lady, who had the craft to get acquainted with the Freemason's secret, but, being detected, was made a mason, and, strange to relate, actually kept the secret to the last moments of her existence.
The following celebrities have been more or less connected with the town:-
SIR THOMAS GARGRAVE
The Gargraves were a family of antiquity in this neighbourhood. Sir John Gargrave, who lived at Snapethorpe, was Master of the Ordnance and a Governor in France under Henry V. He was tutor to Richard, Duke of York, who was slain at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. Sir John was buried at Bayonne, in France. From the second son, William, descended Thomas Gargrave, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Levett, of Normanton, who were the parents of Sir Thomas Gargrave. His father owned some land in the Pear Tree Acres in Kirkgate as appears by an inquisition taken in the reign of Henry VIII. Towards the close of his life he memorialised Queen Elizabeth to be allowed to purchase from her the Old Park at Wakefield, saying, "I would build me a dwelling-house therein for that it adjoineth the place where I was born, and where my land lieth." A portrait of Thomas Gargrave has the date of "1570, ret. 7-5". In 1547 he accompanied the Earl of Warwick into Scotland, as treasurer in the expedition, and there received the honour of knighthood. On his return he made large purchases of land in Wakefield and neighbourhood. Kinsley Hall, near Hemsworth, was his principal residence for many years, previous to his adding Nostell Priory to his possessions. It was after his return from Scotland the first Parliament of Edward was summoned, and Gargrave was elected a member for York. In the first Parliament of Queen Elizabeth Sir Thomas Gargrave was again returned for the County. The Queen gave several proofs of her appreciation of his merits, and ordered that in civil business no step was to be taken without the assent being had of Sir Thomas Gargrave. Francis Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire, and President of the Council of the North, in a letter from Ferrybridge, dated January 17, 1559, to Sir William Cecil, states that he was about to take some troops to Newcastle, and that he had appointed his "verie loving friend, Sir Thomas Gargrave, knight," vice president in his absence, "who I right well knowe bothe canne and will execute the same accordinglie, and in as willinge and painfull wise, if myself werre present." Up to the Rebellion in 1509, Sir Thomas was actively occupied in Yorkshire with his duties on the Council. The Queen and Cecil placed in him unstinted trust. The Earl of Sussex, as President of the North, wrote to Cecil on Oct. 10, 1568, and recommended Cotton Gargreave, the only son of Sir Thomas, to the favourable notice of the secretary, and expressed his high opinion of the father. "Sir Thomas Gargreave," he said, "has at all times, and especially since the death of the late Archbishop, used great diligence in the service here, and is a great stay for the good order of these parts. By this travail I find the country much more in order, and where there is any lack, I find him willing to assist me." The letters of Sir Thomas threw much light on the trouble of the period. They are addressed to Lord Burleigh, to Sir William Cecil, to the Privy Council, and others. In the State Papers of 1574 is a survey of Wakefield Old Park, signed by him. The Park is described as a "bushye and barran grounds in the most parts therof and contenyth 340 acres with 16 acres wythout the pale usyd as parcel of the park wherof 4 acres at 2s. ye acre, 200 acres at 16d. the acre, the residew at 4d. the acre. Ther ys no timber wods yerin for repare of pale or loges bot the wods yerin be old rotyn dotyd trees valued in all to 13£ 6s. 8d. Ther ys no copyses mynes or other proffert theryn. Ther ys fewe dere theryn and presently nather bucke yor sowre for the pale ys so in decaye that yt wyll not kepe in the dere." His suit was to give the Queen 200 marks, amounting to thirty years' purchase of Her Majesty's clear rent. In his long will he consigned his body to the uppermost choir in the South side of Wragby Church.
GEORGE a GREEN, the Pinder of Wakefield, was known as the keeper of the pound or pinfold for stray cattle, on the Town Green, who early commenced a revolt against established authority.
The biography of him, published in 1706, states that he was placed at school under a surly pedagogue, and ran away. When he grew up, Robin Hood, who was always on the look out for spirits of this kind, secured him as a follower. The encounter between them, in which, "with his back to a thorn, and his foot to a stone," George a Green came off victorious, is described in one of Robin Hood's ballads. "As good as George a Green" had become a proverb in the time of "Hudibras," and it was his renown which procured Wakefield the honour of a visit from Drunken Barnaby, George a Green played his pranks in Richard the First's time. In the next reign we find the miller of Wakefield serving to point a moral for Eustace, Abbot of Haye, in Normandy, who came over to this country in 1201 to preach the duty of extending the Sabbath from three o'clock on Saturday afternoon to sunrise on Monday morning. In 1212 we read Peter of Wakefield was hanged along with his son for prophesying the death of King John.
From the middle of the 14th century downwards, we meet with frequent mention of the old and influential family of Savile in connection with Wakefield. Members of it resided at Stanley Hall, Howley, Methley, and other places in the neighbourhood. Cooper says in the "Savile Correspondence," the family of Savile was one of the most, if not the most, illustrious in the County of York. Some writers have fancifully ascribed to it an Italian origin, but it probably had its rise at Silkstone. It certainly flourished in those parts in the 13th century, and in the middle of the 14th (1358) we find Margaret Savile, prioress of Kirklees.
In the same reign of Edward III., the family divided itself into two main branches, in the persons of two brothers, John, of Tankersley, and Henry, of Bradley. The senior branch acquired its greatest renown in the person of George, first Marquis of Halifax. The junior branch is mentioned as also of Copley and Methley, and having produced one of the most learned men of our country, Sir Henry Savile, the provost of Eton, and founder of the Savilian Professorships of Astronomy and Geometry in the University of Oxford: his brother, John Savile, a baron of the Exchequer (1598-1607) is now represented by the Earl of Mexbro'. In the surveys of Dugdale and others is given the following inscription as formerly to be seen in the East window of the Parish Church:- "Orate pro bono statu Johannis Savile Mil. Senesch. Dominii de Wakefield, et Aliciae uxores suoe, et omnium filorum suorum. A.D. 1470." Sir John Savile - one of the foremost men of this shire in the early part of the reign of James I., was Sir John Savile, of Howley. In 1589 he was captain of one of the trained bands for Horncastle Sessions, and in 1589 served the office of High Sheriff of Lincolnshire. It does not appear that he took any prominent part in Yorkshire affairs during the time of Queen Elizabeth. He represented the West Riding in the first Parliament of King James I., and made an active member. He was a great friend of the clothiers of Wakefield and district, as shown by the letter from Lord Sheffield, President of the North, to Salisbury. For some years previous to 1516 he held the office of Custos Rotulorum. Sir John was installed Comptroller of the Household by the Duke of Buckingham.
HENRY DE WAKEFIELD lived in the latter part of the fourteenth century. The earliest mention of him is in 1362, when he was Prebend of St. Pancras in the Diocese of London. Six years afterwards he was treasurer of the Diocese, and after being Prebend of Gorwall and Overbury in Herefordshire, of Stillington in this county, and archdeacon of Northampton, he was made Bishop of Ely, on the death of John Barnet, in 1393. This Henry must be distinguished from another of the same name, who, previous to August, 1376, was chantry priest of Blackrode in the parish of Bolton, Lancaster.
THOMAS BRADBURY was born in 1677, his father being a member of the Presbyterian Church of Alverthorpe, of which Mr Peter Naylor, an elected minister, was pastor. Thomas was instructed by him, and also attended the free school at Leeds. He was remarkable for his tenacious memory, and afterwards, whilst attending Mr. Jollie's Academy at Attercliffe, distinguished himself by his satirical wit and eccentric conduct. At the age of eighteen he began to preach, and was stationed successively at Beverley, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and at Stepney. In 1707 he was chosen pastor of a Dissenting congregation meeting in Fetter Lane. Here he laboured for twenty years, his labours being ended by a quarrel with his congregation, on what account is not stated. He then succeeded the noted Daniel Burgess at New Court, Carey Street. He exercised his powers of wit in the pulpit, and directed his sarcasm in particular against Dr Watts' hymns. He was charged by some with want of judgment, but by others accounted a zealous and able preacher, and in private life a jovial and pleasant companion.
JAMES NAYLOR, "The Grand Quaker of England," as he was sometimes called, was born at Ardislaw, or Ardsley, near Wakefield, in 1618, was brought up as a husbandman, and married about 1640, after which he removed to Wakefield. He joined Fairfax's army on the civil war breaking out, and at the close of eight years' service was disabled by sickness. On the occasion of George Fox's visit to Wakefield in 1651 he became a Quaker, having previously been an Independent. He commenced his travels shortly afterwards, and in 1652 was sentenced to twenty weeks' imprisonment at Appleby for blasphemy. On his release he continued his travelling, for the spread of his doctrines, and in 1654 made his way to London. After breaking up a congregation of Friends formed by two of his Appleby fellow prisoners, named Bixrough and Francis Howgil, and thereby drawing down upon himself what was termed by his apologist, "impious adulteration," he went to Bristol in 1655. Here he was seen riding at the head of a promiscuous band of singing men and women, splashing through the rain on his way to the High Cross, and was apprehended. The result of his subsequent examination before a committee of Parliament, after almost interminable discussions, was to find him guilty of "horrid blasphemy," and of being a "grand impostor and seducer of the people." A motion that he should be put to death was lost by 89 against 96, and it was resolved that he should be placed with his head in the pillory, in the Palace Yard, Westminster, during the space of two hours, and whipped through the streets from Westminster to the Old Exchange, etc., and that at that place his tongue be bored through with a hot iron, and that he be stigmatised on the forehead with the letter B. He was afterwards to be whipped through the streets of Bristol, and imprisoned in the Bridewell during the pleasure of Parliament, which sentence was executed. He did not long survive his incarceration, his demise taking place in October, 1660.
JOSEPH MOXON, the celebrated mathematician, was born at Wakefield on the 8th of August, 1627. His works are referred to in Dr. Johnson's dictionary as authorities for artistic terms.
He excelled in navigator's maps and charts and terrestrial globes. In 1667 he executed the drawings for a scheme for uniting the Thames and Severn by a Ship Canal. In the same year he commenced his most important work, "Mechanic Exercises, or the Doctrine of Handiwork." He was a splendid letter writer, and wrote a treatise on "Mechanical Dialling," a translation of Barozzio's "Complete Architect," and a compendius Euclid from the Dutch. In 1678 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and appointed hydrographer to Charles II. He died in 1700.
RICHARD BENTLEY is described by Hallam as "the greatest of English Critics."
He was born at Oulton, but his progenitors, yeomen, belonged to Heptonstall. James Bentley,
one of them, a captain in the loyal army, was captured by the Ironsides, and died in Pomfret
dungeon. His son, Thomas, who had an estate at Woodlesford, wedded Sarah, the daughter of
Richard Willey, a stone mason, of Oulton, in 1661, he being an aged widower, and she but
eighteen. Richard Bentley was born on the 27th January, 1662, and was taught Latin by his
mother. After being in a day school at Methley, he went to the Wakefield Grammar School, but
when thirteen he lost his father, when the estate passed to a stepbrother, and Richard was
handed over to his maternal grandfather, who sent him to Cambridge University. In 1680 he took
his degree of Bachelor of Arts, and afterwards obtained the head mastership of Spalding School.
A year after he became domestic tutor to the son of Dr. Stillingfleet; dean of St. Paul's.
Before he was twenty-four he wrote an "Hexapla," a thick volume in quarto, in the
first column of which he inserted every word of the Hebrew Bible alphabetically, and in five
other columns the different interpretations in Chaldee, Syriac, Latin, and Septuagint. In July,
1683, he became M.A., and when Stillingfleet's son was entered at Wadham College, Oxford,
Bentley went with him, and was made an M.A. of Oxford. He was ordained deacon in 1690, and
appointed chaplain to the Bishop of Worcester. Meanwhile he was preparing "Hesychius,"
and a work on the Greek poets. He wrote an index to an old Greek work of the ninth century, by
John Malelas, of Antioch, which was published by Dr. J. Mill. Bentley was the first to obtain
the lectureship of £50, founded by the Hon. Robert Boyle, and he started with a confutation of
Atheism. In subsequent lectures he made good use of Milton's "Principia." In 1692 he
was made prebendary of Worcester, and in the following year keeper of the Royal Library at St.
James'. Sir William Temple published, in 1692, his essay on "Ancient and Modern Learning,"
and our subject controverted the positions therein laid down. There was a long controversy,
involving the sharpest pens of the day, including Swift's, Boyle's, Aldrich's, Atterbury's,
King's, and others. In the "Dispensary" we read:-
"So Hammonds take a lustre from their Foyle, And to a Bentley 'tis we owe a Boyle." Bentley's dissertation on "Phalaris" is perhaps his master work, and it silenced the clique of Oxford writers. In 1699 he was appointed master of Trinity College. When made Vice Chancellor of the University in 1700, he put down some loose customs of the graduates, and increased the prestige of the University press, but he became a tyrant, and unscrupulous in raising funds for the repair of his lodge. He behaved "as a Norman Lord to Saxon bores," which ended in serious troubles to him. On the first of May, 1717, he was chosen Regius Professor of Divinity. In 1711 he had published an edition of Horace, and in 1713 a reply to the "Discourse of Free-thinking," by Anthony Collins; in 1720 he commenced a Greek Testament; in 1726 he brought out an edition of Terence, and he also gave to the world an edition of Milton. On the 4th January, 1701, he married Joanna, daughter of Sir John Bernard, of Brampton, in Huntingdonshire, and had a happy wedded life of forty years. His wife died in 1740, and left three children. Bentley died July 14th, 1742, of brain fever, aged 80.
JOHN CLARKE, born at Kirby Misperton, in the North Riding, May 3rd, 1706, was sent by his father, a mechanic, to Wakefield Grammar School, when it was under the mastership of Thomas Clark. In 1723 he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1729 was made a Fellow; afterwards being appointed master of Skipton School, and then perpetual curate at Nunmonkton. The two offices yielded £56 per annum, on which he took a wife, resigning his fellowship for a Mrs. Meek, a widow with four children. In 1735 the Corporation of Beverley gave him the mastership of their Grammar School, and in 1751 he was requested to accept a like position at our Wakefield Grammar School, then vacant by the promotion of the Rev. Benjamin Wilson, "one of the first Greek Scholars of the age," to the Wakefield Vicarage. Here he remained, a successful teacher, for eight years. He paid great attention to the study of the Scriptures in Greek, and his method of teaching was commented on in the Gentleman's Magazine of 1802. He was presented to a small vicarage in Essex by Mr Jolliff, who had married his step-daughter, Miss Meek, but preferred to remain at Wakefield, his bodily infirmity being aggravated by mental anxiety through poverty. Having been desired by a sick clergyman in 1758 to supply his place at Rothwell, he entered a cold church, when overheated by a long walk, on a frosty morning, and a damp surplice increased the evil. Next day he was seized with apoplexy, and the following year resigned his situation, the Governors presenting him with fifty guineas. He died at Scarbro' and was buried at Kirby Misperton, February 11th, 1761, where a memorial was erected by some of his old pupils.
REV. BENJAMIN WILSON was master of the Wakefield Grammar School and Vicar of Wakefield; holding the latter appointment 1750 till 1764, when he died. He is supposed by some to be Goldsmith's "Vicar of Wakefield," although others assert that the original of Dr Primrose was the author's own father, the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, Incumbent of Pallasmore, Co. Longford, Ireland. Forster quotes an abstract from the journal of an American loyalist refugee (Curwen), who visited Wakefield three years after Goldsmith's death. On May 30, 1777, this visitor writes:-"Departed in a stage coach from Sheffield and arrived at Black Barnsley through a delightful though uneven road. Here we took post-chaise, and in two hours alighted at Wakefield, a clothing town, where appeared evident tokens of taste in building, and of wealth. The avenues to it delightful; the roads like a carpet walk; on one side a raised terraced walk, flagged for more than two miles; the land here-about excellent, and under the most improved cultivation. The Westgate Street has the most noble appearance I ever saw out of London; its pavement in the best order; its length nearly half a mile, and width ten rods. Were it not for some old low buildings, London could not boast of a more magnificent street. It has a very large episcopal church with a remarkable lofty spire. The principal character in the novel called the "Vicar of Wakefield" was taken from the late Vicar of this church, named Johnson, whose peculiarly odd and singular humour has exposed his memory to the ridicule of that satire. Wilson was succeeded by Dr. Michael Bacon, who held the living till 1805, and the name Johnson seems a mistake for Wilson. In a letter from James Nield, inspector of prisons, to Dr. Lettsom, dated Wakefield, Sunday Evening, August 15th, 1802, the writer says:-"It is scarcely possible to form a greater contrast than between the two places I have just been visiting. Before I got into the chaise this morning, I thought I would take another peep into the jail at Sheffield to see how they spent their Sunday I found the low court debtors as black as chimney sweepers and as busy as bees, sifting cinders to make up the ashes (two loads), which are to be fetched away tomorrow morning. I arrived at this place (Wakefield) just, as divine service had begun, and was surprised not even to see a single beggar or vagrant, or even an idle lounger about the streets. The church was filled within and peace and order dwelt without. I was pleased to be informed that this was not a casual circumstance; that I should always find it so whenever I visited it on the Sabbath day."
THOMAS ZOUCH, the son of the Vicar of Sandal, was born there on September 12, 1737, and educated at the Grammar School until he was twenty. In 1737 he was a pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge, a year after he was elected a scholar -in 1760 he obtained a Craven Scholarship -in 1762 was elected Fellow, and in 1765 he obtained the Seatonian prize for his poem on the Crucifixion. In 1763 he was appointed assistant tutor to his college, and in 1770 was presented to the Rectory of Wycliff, in the North Riding, the birthplace of the great reformer of that name. Here Zouch became famous for his botanical excursions, and in 1788 he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society, and appointed chaplain to Sir R. Pepper, afterwards Lord Alvanley, Master of the Rolls. In 1793 he became Rector of Scrayingham, in the East Riding. By the death of his brother Henry in that year, he obtained property at Sandal, and in the following year removed to that place, where he died, December 17, 1815. His first wife was Isabella, daughter of the Rev. John Emerson, Rector of Winston, Durham; his second, Margaret Brooke, whose brother was formerly a Somerset Herald.
DANIEL CRESSWELL, F.R.S., whose father lived at Newton, and was buried in St. John's Churchyard in 1821, was educated at Wakefield Grammar School, was an exhibitor at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a Fellow. He became a Proctor in 1813, and in 1822 was Vicar of Enfield. In 1823 he was made a J.P. for Middlesex, and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; in 1823 he was made a D.D. He married a Miss Thompson, of Enfield, and died March 21st, 1844, aged 69. He is the author of several mathematical works and some sermons.
The Temple of the Saints at Wrenthorpe is the memorial of a singular sect. On the death of Joanna Southcott, on December 27, 1814, her deluded followers still expected a speedy millenium, and after following George Turner they accepted the leadership of Prophet Wroe, who was born at Bowling, Bradford, September 19, 1782. His grandfather had predicted that the Lord would raise up a priest of the fruit of his body. John was educated at Bretton for a year, but was a dull scholar. His father kept him at work as a collier and worsted stuff manufacturer till he was 24. Five years after he married a daughter of Benjamin Appleby, of Farnley Mills, Leeds. On recovering from a fever in 1829 he had visions, and was told he would be a prophet of the Christian Israelite Sect. According to his own statement he stopped Queen Caroline on her way from the House of Lords to Lady Hamilton's on August 30, 1820, and said "I have a message unto thee, oh, Queen," and then he gave her a copy of his book of visions. In 1822 he commenced to travel as the Apostle of the New Church, visiting Spain, Italy, and Germany. He was baptised for the third time on September 29, in the Aire, at a little above Apperley Bridge, in the presence of 30,000 people. On the 10th April, 1831, his meeting house at Bradford was broken into by a mob and three of his ribs were fractured. In 1834 he published his Divine Communications at Wakefield; a copy of which he sent to William IV. Subsequently he went to America and Australia. On Whit Sunday, 1857, he opened this handsome sanctuary at Wrenthorpe as his residence, where he remained undisturbed with the exception that a rival prophet appeared in the person of Daniel Milton, when he went to Australia, and died at Melbourne in 1863.
THE EARL OF STRAFFORD.
Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, shared with Archbishop Laud the Counsels of Charles I. He inherited or purchased considerable property at St. John's, Wakefield, and also visited Hatfield Hall, Stanley, where members of his family resided. His Wakefield estate was surveyed in 1728 by Mr John Dickenson, and his controversies with Sir John Savile are fully explained in the correspondence which has been recently published in connection with the Camden's Society. He succeeded to the Custos Rotutorum on the resignation of Sir John Savile, and the two were fiercely at loggerheads. In one letter to the Earl of Buckingham he says: "If it please your Lordship to be satisfied of the truth you shall find Sir John brought into the Star Chamber for his passionate carriage upon the Bench towards one of his fellow commissioners upon a motion in that court for his contemps committed to the Fleet. "Sir Thomas was the son and heir of Sir William Wentworth, of Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham, and his mother was the daughter of Robert Atkinson, lawyer. Strafford married, when nineteen, Lady Margaret Clifford, of a Cumberland family, and resided, after travelling abroad, at Wentworth and Gawthorpe. He contested Yorkshire with Savile. His life is interwoven very deeply in the history of the West Riding of that period. He was appointed Deputy and Governor of Ireland on the 12th January, 1632, and he was also President of the Council of the North.
He married three times, his third wife being Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Godfrey Rhodes, of Great Houghton, and some of his love-letters are in the possession of Lord Houghton.
The letters he wrote to his wife from the Tower (February 4, 1640) are affecting. On the 12th May, 1641, he was executed, and the day before he charged his son "be sure you give great respect to my wife that hath ever borne great love unto me, and therefore will be becoming you."
He was executed on a charge of treason against the liberties of the people. In Wakefield Parish Church is a grand organ case of black oak that once contained an instrument which Lord Stafford gave to the church. The beautiful front design of the organ is the original one enlarged, and is therefore a memorial of the unfortunate Earl.
ROBIN HOOD, THE GREAT OUTLAW.
Robin Hood, alias Earl of Huntington, the famous outlaw and archer of the 13th century, according to Hunter's opinion, was born at Wakefield, and his name appears in several transactions in our Manor Court. His true name was Robert Fitzooth. He was descended from Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Ryme and Lindsay. His arms were gules, two bends, engrailed or.
Several places have claimed Robin Hood as a native, but among the many anecdotes handed down from him are some connecting him with the Pinder of Wakefield.
Robin, on one occasion dressed, as usual, in Lincoln Green, with bow and arrow, short sword, and bugle horn, appeared with his men in Wakefield Park, and the Pinder challenged him to combat. The bold defender of the Manor proved the victor. The Wakefield woods abounded with game, and the freebooter paid us several visits. He is said to have died at Kirk-Lees, near Leeds, on the 20th September, 1247. Old and worn out, and feeling unwell, he applied at the convent for relief by bleeding, when the monk allowed him to bleed to death in order to relieve society of such a troublesome fellow. He was a man of generous impulses; he never molested the poor, but often took the part of the weak.
This building, sometimes called Northgate House, in Northgate, has the date 1584 on the ceilings with Coats of Arms of the Sabyels - an owl standing on a tun, the Arms of Queen Elizabeth. The house is supposed to have been built in the reign of Henry VI., and to have taken its name from a family who resided there; it once belonged to the Earl of Strafford, and afterwards passed to Mr Hatfield Kaye and to Mr John Harter. I remember it being cut into two portions and refronted. It was built of timber and plaister.
The Rev. Sir Kirby's sketches of the streets about forty years ago, and which I saw him take, show many an old building that has since disappeared. A survey of all the lands, freehold and copyhold, in the Manor of Wakefield, was taken by William of Thimbleby and Thomas of Sheffield in 1314, and the small value of property reads very strange when compared with our present assessment. The West Riding, for instance, with a population of 1,098,548, and 1,675,229 statute acres, is valued to the county rate at £5,832,283, and the total basis of the Riding rate is £10,483,509 whilst the Wakefield Union rate basis is £459,076. The population of the Riding in 1801 was 563,935; in 1821, 800,848; in 1830, 950,000. Prior to the railways, the Aire and Calder Navigation Company conveyed most of the merchandise to and from the town. The cloth trade of the town had many reverses, and the following letters will throw light upon the state of affairs in the 17th century. They are dated about 1626-7:-
The Inhabitants of Wakefield to the Privy Council. - The humble petition of the inhabitants of the towne of Wakefield, shewing that having receaved your honourable lettres directed to yem, and others to contribute with the port of Hull towardes the setting forth of three shipps for his Majesty's service, they doe most humblie crave your honourable consideration therein for theis reasons following,- That there is not one person inhabiting in Wakefield, or the precints thereof, that is a merchant, or that venteth any cloth at the port of Hull, or any other comoditie there.
That the towne of Wakefield' is greatly decaied, especiallie in the trade of clothing, and that smale quantitie of cloth there made is noe sea ware but sould to Drapers onlie. Which reasons the petitioners doe most humblie submitt to your honourable considerations, and for the truth thereof theie doubt not but the right honourable Sir John Savile, K.T., can sufficientlie enforme your honourable Lords, and accordinglie doe crave to be freed by your honors from yt contribution, for which the petitioners shall (as dutie bindeth) dailie pray for your honourable Lordships.
The Justices of the West Riding to the Privy Council. - May itt please your Lordshipps accordinge your Lordshipps' directions by your letters of the 29th December last, upon a petition with reasons thereto annexed, exhibited to your Lordshipps by the clothiers of the West Ridinge of Yorkshire for the continuance of the hott presse boards and papers, as the same are nowe in use which wee receaved togeather with the saide letters. Our quarter Sessions fallinge out to be holden upon the 10th and 11th dayes of this Instant January at Wakefeilde, which nowe is the greatest markett and principall resorte of all sorts of clothiers, drapers, and other traffickers, for cloath in all theis parts. Wee, his Majestye's Justices of the Peace of the saide West Rhidde; whose names are underwritten, did cause generall and publique notice to be given of the contents of the saide Letters unto the saide persons, as well in theire open Markett as att theire private houses and lodgings. And thereupon sundrie of them resortinge unto us, wee have both of ourselves, aparte and together with them, considered, weighed, and examined the saide petitions and reasons which, for anythinge that hath yet appeared unto us, are in all the parts thereof Just and true as the saide clothiers have informed your Lordshipps. Butt for our further satisfaction and better discharge of our dutyes and service to his Majesty, your Lordshipps, and the countrie, in this behalfe wee cause both the saide Letters, Petition, and Reasons to be publiquely and distinctly read in the open cort of the saide sessins, there beinge then present a very great concorse of people, both clothiers, drapers, and others attending the same, requiring ye then to object, what they or any of them coulde, either against the use of the hott presse Boards and papers as they were then generally practised, or against the saide Reasons and allegations made to your Lordshipps by the saide clothiers, at which time wee did nott finde anyone man to oppose the same, but on the contrary a general acclamation and concurrence of the voce of the whole conntrie with the said petition, neither hath any man sithence, either in publique or private, offered himselfe to any of us againste the same, and wee doe further, upon examination finde that the hott presse boards and papers have bene very muche in use from the time of the making of the Lawes against them. And that the same albeit they had some glosse to the cloath. Yet the saide cloath beinge with all well dressed, is muche bettered thereby, as well as by the dryeinge and shrinkinge. Thickeninge and fasteninge of the same, and layinge it even and smooth from Cocklinge as by the triall and betteringe of the dye thereof.
And we find that by meanes of the quicke and readie dispatche of the pressinge of cloathes of the saide hott press boards and papers the poore clothiers doe prepare and make readie theire cloathes much the sooner. Soe that thereby they double and treble theire returnes, and by occasions hereof, muititudes of families are sett on worke and manteyned, which at the gaine sholde be taken away should be left without imployment or meanes. The coulde presse nott being able in longe tyme to afford then that dispatche which the hott presse will doe in short tyme. Lastly, we finde the information of the saide clothiers againste Wolridge to be true, and thereupon, accordingly to your Lordshipp's saide directions, have given order for staye of his proceedings upon the saide informations until we receave further directions from your Lordshipps, and soe we humbly take our leaves. Restinge, Att your Lordshipps' Commandment,
H. SAVILE, RIC. BEAU-MONT, ROBERT CLAY, JO. KAYE,
Att our Generall Sessions at Wakefeilde, the XIth of January, 1627-8.
When the cloth decayed, the opening of collieries in the district brought prosperity to the town. The first collieries were at Lofthouse and Whitwood, and within my recollection pits have been sunk in nearly every parish in the Wakefield Union. For a time, ironfounding also took root in the town, and as that also decayed, other industries, such as soap-making, roperies, cocoa-nut matting, &c., were introduced. Whilst it is safe to say that the town has been rebuilt within the last century, its appearance has vastly improved within the last fifty years, and it never presented so genteel an aspect, the streets were never so well paved, nor its sanitary arrangements so perfect as at the present time.
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