Author: Roby, John, 1793-1850
Legends — England — Lancashire
English literature — England — Lancashire
Traditions of Lancashire, Volume 2
Transcriber’s note: Minors spelling inconsistencies, mainly hyphenated words, have been harmonised.
Obvious printer errors have been corrected, but the original regional spelling of “properpty” (in “Clegg Hall”) has been retained.
Some chapters start with illustrations. In the original book those illustrations are not named. Here they are named after their chapters.
The Latin numbers (i, ii, etc.) behind some words or expressions refer to the transcriber’s notes at the end of this e-book.
“Time has spared the epitaph on Adrian’s horse,—confounded that of himself.”
“Sir Thomas Browne.”
JOHN ROBY, M.R.S.L.
ILLUSTRATED BY ENGRAVINGS ON STEEL AND WOOD.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS.
MANCHESTER: L. C. GENT.
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE FAIRIES’ CHAPEL.
THE LUCK OF MUNCASTER.
THE PEEL OF FOULDREY.
A LEGEND OF BEWSEY.
THE DULE UPO’ DUN.
THE MERMAID OF MARTIN MEER.
THE DEMON OF THE WELL.
THE RING AND THE CLIFF.
THE DEAD MAN’S HAND.
THE LOST FARM.
THE MAID’S STRATAGEM.
THE SKULL HOUSE.
THE CRYSTAL GOBLET.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE LUCK OF MUNCASTER.
THE PEEL OF FOULDREY.
THE DULE UPO’ DUN
CLEGG HALL, NEAR ROCHDALE.
THE MERMAID OF MARTIN MEER.
PEG O’NELLY’S WELL, NEAR CLITHEROE.
THE RING AND THE CLIFF.
THE DEAD MAN’S HAND.
THE LOST FARM, NEAR SOUTHPORT.
THE MAID’S STRATAGEM.
THE THRUTCH, NEAR ROCHDALE.
THE FAIRIES’ CHAPEL.
Farewell, rewards and fairies!
Good housewives now may say;
For now foule sluts in dairies,
Doe fare as well as they:
And though they sweepe their hearths no less
Than mayds were wont to doe,
Yet who of late, for cleaneliness,
Finds sixe-pence in her shoe?”
The ancient mansion of Healey Hall was a cumbrous inconvenient dwelling of timber; but the spirit of improvement having gone forth in the reign of Elizabeth, an ordinary hall-house of stone was erected, about the year 1620, by Oliver Chadwick. On the south front was a projecting wing and three gables, with a large hall-window. The north front had two gables only, with a projecting barn. The north entrance, covered by a porch, was a thorough passage, answering to the screens of a college, having on one side the hall and parlour beyond; on the other were the kitchen, buttery, &c. On the river below was a corn-mill; this and a huge barn being necessary appendages to the hospitable mansions and plentiful boards of our forefathers. Over the front door was this inscription—
C. C. DOC. T: R. C: I. C. A. C: R. B.
ANO. DOM’I. 1168.
About the year 1756 the east wall gave way, and a considerable fishure appeared on the outside. This event was considered by many as the usual foretokening that its owner, Charles Chadwick, of Healey and Ridware, would speedily be removed by death from the seat of his ancestors; and so it proved, for in the course of a few months he died at Lichfield, aged eighty-two. His great age, though, will be thought the more probable token, the surer presage of approaching dissolution.
On a stone near the top of the building, on the north side, a human head was rudely carved in relief, which tradition affirms to have been a memorial of one of the workmen, accidentally killed while the house was building.
In 1773, the existing edifice was built, on the ancient site, by John Chadwick, grandfather to the present owner
In Corry’s Lancashire is the following document, furnished by the recent possessor, Charles Chadwick, Esq. It relates to the foregoing John Chadwick, his father—
“In 1745, at the rebellion, when the Pretender’s son and his Highlanders reached Manchester, having obtained a list of the loyal subscribers, they began (of course) to enforce the payment of the money for their own use. An officer of the belted plaid, of the second division, came to the house of Mr C., in King Street, whilst the master of it was with his father at Ridware, and, on being told that he was from home, and his lady ill in bed, he went up-stairs, and opening the chamber-door, where she was then lying-in, beckoned her sister to come to him on the stairs, where he told her (in a mild but decided tone) that the money before mentioned must be paid quickly for the use of ‘the prince (who lodged at the house in Market Street, now called the Palace Inn), or the house would be burnt down.’ In this dilemma, the man-midwife calling first, and afterwards the physician, were both consulted by the ladies; when the former (a Tory) advised to send the money after them, whilst the latter (a Whig) thought it better to keep it till called for; consequently, never being called for in their hasty retreat, the money was not paid. It may be proper to add, Captain Lachlan MacLachlan, of the first division (afterwards one of the proscribed), being quartered in the same house, behaved with the greatest civility and politeness. On a party of horse coming to the door for quarters, he called for a lanthorn, and, though he had a cold (for which white wine whey was offered him, which he called ‘varra good stuff’), walked as far as Salford, and there quartered them; two of his Highlanders, in the meantime, were dancing reels in the kitchen, and in the morning gave each of the maids sixpence at parting.”
The name Healey Dene denotes a valley or dale, convallis, enclosed on both sides with steep hills; dene being a Saxon word, signifying a narrow valley, with woods and streams of water convenient for the feeding of cattle. Here the river Spodden, which now keeps many fulling-mills and engines at work, formerly turned one solitary corn-mill only. It was built in the narrow dingle below the hall, for the supply of the hamlet. The feudal owners of most mansions usually erected corn-mills (where practicable) within their own demesnes. After the family had removed to the more mild and temperate climate of Mavesyn-Ridware, in Staffordshire, about the year 1636, Healey Mill was converted into a fulling-mill, so that one of the principal features in our story no longer exists.
About two miles north from Rochdale lies the hamlet of Healey, a high tract of land, as its Saxon derivation seems to imply, heaʓe, high, and leaʓ a pasture, signifying the “high pasture.”
Our Saxon ancestors chiefly occupied their lands for grazing purposes; hence the many terminations in ley, or leaʓ. Pasturage is still called a “ley” for cattle in these parts.
In this remote hamlet dwelt a family, probably of Saxon origin, whose name, De Heley, from their place of residence, had, in all likelihood, been assumed soon after the Norman conquest. Their descendants, of the same name, continued to reside here until the reign of Edward III., holding their lands as abbey lands, under the abbot of Stanlaw, soon after the year 1172, in the reign of Henry II., and subsequently under the abbot of Whalley, from the year 1296. In 1483, John Chadwyke, or (Ceddevyc, from the common appellation Cedde, and vyc, a mansion or vill, signifying Cedde’s fort, peel, or fortified mansion) married Alice, eldest daughter and co-heir of Adam Okeden of Heley; and in her right settled at the mansion of Heley (or Healey) Hall, then a huge unsightly structure of wood and plaster, built according to the fashion of those days. An ancestor of Adam Okeden having married “Hawise, heir of Thomas de Heley,” in the reign of Edward III., became possessed of this inheritance.
The origin of surnames would be an interesting inquiry. In the present instance it seems clear that the name and hamlet of Chadwick are derived from Cedde’s vyc, or Chad’s vyc. This mansion, situated on the southern extremity of Spotland, or Spoddenland, bounded on the east by that stream, and southward by the Roche, was built on a bold eminence above the river, where Cedde and his descendants dwelt, like the Jewish patriarchs, occupied in the breeding of sheep and other cattle.
“But though this hamlet had been named Ceddevic, from its subordinate Saxon chief, he himself could not have adopted it for his own surname; because surnames were then scarcely, if at all, known here. He must have continued, therefore, to use his simple Saxon name of Cedde only, and his successors likewise, with the addition of Saxon patronymics even down to the Norman conquest, when the Norman fashion of local names or surnames was first introduced into England.”
But though the Norman addition of surnames “became general amongst the barons, knights, and gentry, soon after the Conquest, yet Saxon patronymics long continued in use amongst the common people, and are still not unusual here. Thus, instead of John Ashworth and Robert Butterworth, we hear of Robin o’ Ben’s and John o’Johnny’s,”—meaning Robert the son of Benjamin, and John the son of John, “similar to the Norman Fitz, the Welsh Ap’, the Scotch Mac, and the Irish O’; and this ancient mode of describing an individual sometimes includes several generations, as Thomas O’Dick’s, O’Ned’s, O’Sam’s,” &c.
But besides patronymics, nicknames (the Norman soubriquets) have been used in all ages and by all nations, and are still common here; some of them coarse and ludicrous enough: the real surname being seldom noticed, but the nickname sometimes introduced, with an alias, even in a law instrument. And why are not Poden, Muz, Listing, &c., as good as “the Bald,” “the Fat,” “the Simple,” &c., of the French kings; or “the Unready,” “the Bastard,” “Lackland,” “Longshanks,” &c., of our own? A lad named Edmund, some generations back, attended his master’s sons to Rochdale school, who latinised his name into “Edmundus;” then it was contracted into “Mundus,” by which name his descendants are best known to this day: some probably knowing “Tom Mundus” well who are ignorant of his real surname. Within late years individuals have been puzzled on hearing themselves inquired after by their own surname. At Whitworth you might have asked in vain for the house of “Susannah Taylor,” though any child would have taken you straight to the door of “Susy O’Yem’s, O’ Fair-off’s at top o’ th’ rake.” 
Another derivation of the surname De Heley, not at all improbable, has been suggested—viz., that Hely Dene may have been an early corruption of Holy Dene, having formerly belonged to the Church, and possibly, in remote ages, dedicated to the religious rites of the Druids. A clear rock-spring, in a gloomy dell below the Hall, is still called “the Spaw,” and often frequented by youths and maidens on May mornings. Hence some have imagined that this Dene and its Spaw may have given to the river running through it the name of Spodden, or Spaw-Dene. Another spring, higher up, is called Robin Hood’s Well, from that celebrated outlaw, who seems to have been the favourite champion of these parts, and who, according to some authorities, lies buried at Kirklaw, in the West Riding of York. 
Such holy wells were, in more superstitious if not happier ages, the supposed haunts of elves, fairies, and other such beings, not unaptly denominated the rabble of mythology.
A warm sequestered dingle here conducts the Spodden through a scene of wild, woodland, and picturesque beauty. Drayton, in his Polyolbion, has thus immortalised it:—
“First Roche, a dainty rill, which Spodden from her springs,
A petty rivulet, as her attendant, brings.”
From the mansion of Healey, built on an elevated slope above the dell, opens out an extensive prospect. Limepark in Cheshire, Cloud End in Staffordshire, with the Derbyshire hills, may be distinctly seen. Over the smoke of Manchester, the banks of the Mersey are visible; and upon the horizon rises up the barn-like ridge of Hellsby Tor, in the forest of Delamere. Towards the west may be seen, far out, like a vast barrier, the Welsh mountains, Moel Famma (mother of mountains), with the vale of Clwyd, like a narrow cleft in the blue hills, which extend until the chain of Penmaenmawr and the Isle of Anglesey abruptly terminate in the sea. Few situations, without the toil of a laborious ascent, show so commanding a prospect; while under the very eye of the spectator, nature assumes an aspect of more than ordinary beauty.
One wild scene, the subject of our legend, the pencil, not the pen, must describe. It would be impossible, in any other manner, to convey an adequate idea of its extreme loveliness and grandeur. It is here known by its Saxon appellation, “the Thrutch,” or Thrust, signifying a narrow, but deep and rugged channel in the rocks. Through this cleft the Spodden bursts with great force, forming several picturesque falls, which, though of mean height, yet, combined with the surrounding scenery, few behold without an expression of both wonder and delight.
The ancient corn-mill was here situated, just below the mansion. From the “Grist Yate,” by the main road to Rochdale, a winding horse-way, paved with stones set on edge, led down the steep bank and pointed to the sequestered spot where for ages the clack of the hopper and the plash of the mill-wheel had usurped a noisy and undisputed possession.
In the reign of our fourth Edward—we know not the precise year—an occurrence, forming the basis of the following legend, is supposed to have taken place,—when fraud and feud were unredressed; when bigotry and superstition had their “perfect work;” when barbaric cruelty, and high and heroic deeds, had their origin in one corrupt and common source, the passions of man being let loose, in wild uproar, throughout the land; when the wars of the Roses had almost desolated the realm, and England’s best blood flowed like a torrent. Such was the aspect of the time to which the following events relate.
It was in the beginning of the year, at the close of an unusually severe winter. The miller’s craft was nigh useless, the current of the rivulet was almost still. Everything seemed so hard and frost-bound, that nature looked as though her fetters were rivetted for ever. But the dark and sterile aspect she displayed was bedizened with such beauteous frost-work, that light and glory rested upon all, and winter itself lost half its terrors.
Ralph Miller often looked out from his dusty, dreary tabernacle, watching the icicles that accumulated on his wheel, and the scanty current beneath, the hard surface of the brook scarcely dribbling out a sufficient supply for his daily wants.
Every succeeding morn saw the liquid element becoming less, and the unhappy miller bethought him that he would shut up the mill altogether, until the reign of the frozen king should expire.
A seven-weeks’ frost was rapidly trenching on the fair proportions of an eighth of these hebdomadal inconveniences, and still continued the same hard, ringing sound and appearance, as if the sky itself o’ nights had been frozen too—fixed and impervious—and the darkness had become already palpable. Yet the moon looked out so calm, so pure and beautiful, and the stars so spark-like and piercing, that it was a holy and a heavenly rapture to gaze upon their glorious forms, and to behold them, fresh and undimmed, as when first launched from the hands of their Creator.
Want of occupation breeds mischief, idleness being a thriftless carle that leaves the house empty, and the door open to the next comer—an opportunity of which the enemy is sure to avail himself. The miller felt the hours hang heavily, and he became listless and ill-humoured.
“‘Tis an ill-natured and cankered disposition this,” said he one night, when sitting by the ingle with his drowsy helpmate, watching the sputtering billets devoured, one after another, by the ravening flame: “‘Tis an ill-natured disposition that is abroad, I say, that will neither let a man go about his own business, nor grant him a few honest junkets these moonlight nights. I might have throttled a hare or so, or a brace of rabbits; or what dost think, dame, of a couple of moor-cocks or a cushat for a pie?”
“Thy liquorish tooth will lead thee into some snare, goodman, ere it ha’ done watering. What did Master Chadwyck say, who is to wed Mistress Alice, our master’s daughter, if nought forefend? What did he promise thee but a week agone, should he catch thee at thy old trade again?”
“A murrain light on the snivelling bully! Let him stay at his own homestead, and not take mastership here, to trouble us with his humours ere the portion be his. His younger brother Oliver is worth a whole pack of such down-looked, smooth-faced hypocrites. Oliver Chadwyck is the boy for a snug quarrel. His fingers itch for a drubbing, and he scents a feud as a crow scents out carrion. The other—mercy on me!—is fit for nought but to be bed-ridden and priest-ridden like his father and his mother to boot.”
“Hush, Ralph,” said the cautious dame; “let thine hard speeches fall more gently on thy master’s son, that is to be. His own parents too—methinks the son of Jordan and Eleanor Chadwyck should earn a kinder word and a lighter judgment from thy tongue.”
“Whew! my courteous dame. How now! and so because they are become part of the movables of Holy Church, I trow, they must be handled softly, forsooth! Tut, tut, beldame, they are—let me see, so it runs; the old clerk of St Chad’s rang the nomine in my ears long enough, and I am not like to forget it. They be ‘Trinitarians,’ said he, ‘of the house of St Robert near Knaresborough, admitted by Brother Robert, the minister of the Holy Trinity, for the redemption of captives imprisoned by the pagans, for the faith of Jesus Christ.’ Gramercy, what a bead-roll of hard words! They say we are like to have a ‘Holy War‘ again, when we have settled our own reckonings; and the blood and groats of old England are again to be spent for the purchase of ‘Holy Land.’ O’ my halidome, wench, but I would let all the priests and friars fight for it. Cunning rogues! they set us together by the ears, and then run away with the pudding.”
No doubt this profane speech rendered him easier of access to the tempter, and the powers of evil; who, ever watchful for the slips of silly mortals, report such unholy words at head-quarters, where Satan and his crew are assembled in full council.
The dame groaned deeply at this reply from her graceless husband.
“Some time or another,” said she, “thou wilt rue these wicked speeches; and who knows whether these very words of thine may not have been heard i’ the Fairies’ Chapel, or whispered away beyond the forest to the witches’ tryst!”
“I care not for all the imps and warlocks i’ th’ parish, hags and old women to boot. Let them come face to face. Here am I, honest Ralph the miller, who never took toll from an empty sack, nor e’er missed the mouth of a full one. Tol-de-rol.”
Here he stood, with arms akimbo, as if daring the whole fellowship of Satan, with their abettors and allies. This speech, too, was doubtle