Tag Archives: West Ardsley

A Poacher’s Tale is not always happy one!

A Poacher’s Tale is not always happy one!

A few years ago, well it seems like that but is probably longer, I was given a box of photographs to scan and do something with. Some of the carte de visite’s had that were handed to me in a shoebox had names or a clue to who they were.  While others, the only clue was the name of the photographer and the place where they had their studio.

The box held a wonderful time capsule of images, with many having a Morley, West Yorkshire connection, but others linked by the photographer to places as far away as America and Canada, but that is another tale.

James Clough

James Clough

One of the pictures was handed over on its own………why?  Well, I soon found out.  I was asked it I could find out a little more about the person who would be  forever the age when the image was taken.  The reverse of the carte gave a name – James Clough, and I was also given a clue that he was a gamekeeper, that would also be suggested by the fact in the photograph he was holding a rabbit and a gun – just a few clues! It was also mentioned that James had been killed, but no idea when – now that would surely give me something to get my teeth into!

So, off to find a gamekeeper – James, found in the 1881 census as a gamekeeper. I now had 1819/20 as as approximate time of birth (61 years old), with Morley being given as his place of birth and confirmation of his occupation.  He is living with his wife Mary, from West Ardsley, aged 56 and sons George A and Scott, aged 10 and 8, both being born in Soothill.

Going back in time to find James as a young man, back to 1851.  James was living at Northgate, Dewsbury, working as a blacksmith with  Martha, aged 27 from Dewsbury, as his wife – looks like things could get complicated.  Martha was Martha Pickles who he married in Dewsbury All Saints in July 1839 after banns were read on the 7th, 14th and 21st of July.

24 jul 1858

Lancaster Gazette 24 July 1858

Forward in time with a search through newspapers came up with a bit of a surprise!  The Lancaster Gazette of 24th of July 1858.  The small headline in the newspaper column read ‘Daring Outrage by Poachers’.  James along with three others appeared before Wakefield Magistrates in July 1858 for night poaching in West Ardsley near Wakefield accompanied by violence. Three gamekeepers were keeping watch on the land owned by Joseph Ellis, esq.  The poachers were seen and followed by the gamekeepers and their dog. If you read the article you will see what the reporters said in the paper.  But it must have made a stir to be reported in Lancaster.

Leeds Mercury June 14 1859

Leeds Mercury June 14 1859

1859, only a year after being accused of poaching, James is now in the papers, and we see the first reference of him being a gamekeeper.

A few years late, 1861, James is living as a lodger in the home of Joseph Whittaker – The Joseph Whittaker who he was caught poaching with, in 1858. James is listed as married but his wife is not mentioned.

1871 came around and James is living in Soothill, with Sarah, his wife and son George Albert, aged 4 months.  By now James is 51 and Sarah, is 38 – who is Sarah his wife?  What happened to Martha?  There is a death of Martha Clough in the March Qtr of 1852 and a marriage of a James Clough to Sarah Westmorland on 23rd of July 1866 in Dewsbury Parish Church.  James was a widower aged 47 and the son of William Clough, while Sarah was a spinster aged 34, the daughter of Charles Westmorland.

1881 – James is still living in the Soothill area but now quite close to the Babes in the Wood, he is 61 years old. He now tells that he is a gamekeeer and living with his wife – Mary.  Who is Mary, you may ask?  Well, here we go again.  It appears that Sarah died in 1874 as there is a burial entry for her in Hanging Heaton churchyard on 13th of November 1874.

The year of 1884 brings another turn-up for the books – James Clough aged 64 married Leah Delbridge, a 53 year old widow, daughter of Thomas Griffiths,  on 7th January 1884 again in Dewsbury Parish Church, I hope by now he received a discount!

Hanging Heaton church copyright C Sklinar

Hanging Heaton church copyright C Sklinar

I hope life was going well for the couple who had seen the loss of their spouses, in James’ case he had seen the death of more than one wife.  But, life has a habit of throwing things at you.  It was in October of 1885 that James Clough, gamekeeper was killed by poachers.

James was laid to rest on the 19th of October 1885 in Hanging Heaton Churchyard.

Christopher Saxton – Dunningley

Christopher Saxton – Dunningley

Extracted from The Registers of Topcliffe & Morley

Dunningley, within half-a-mile due east of Topcliffe, is noted as being the birthplace of Christopher Saxton, an eminent cartographer, and also as containing the residence of a sweetheart of Nevison, the highwayman.  In Dr. John Dee’s Diary, 1596, appears this entry:- “July 10th, Manchester town described and measured by Mr Christopher Saxton.”  Mr. J. E. Bailey, writes of this as follows :- “This Manchester survey which would be a valuable addition to out local topography, is not now known to be in existence.  C. Saxton was the author of the first maps of Britain from actual survey.  The series of maps was nine years in preparation and was first issued as a complete atlas of maps in 1579.  Thoresby remarked that the maps had never been surpassed, scarcely equalled for exactness.  Each map contains the arms of the Queen, who gave Saxton a patent for publishing the charts for ten years, and of Thomas Sackford, Master of Requests, who was employment, Saxton was at the date of the patent. Saxton was encouraged by Sir William Cordel, Master of the Rolls.  His skill as a chorographer is set forth in his epitaph”.  Thoresby says that in all probability he was buried in Batley Church.** Dunningley at the present time, consists of a few farm-houses, not remarkable for theit antiquity of picturesqueness.

** In Dugdale’s “Visitation of Yorkshire,”1666, “Birkbeck of Sheffield and Castleford” – Christopher Saxton, the geographer, here called Surveyor and Compiler of Maps of England, is said to have been of Dunningley.  The Saxton’s were to be found at Mirfield, &c., a century afterwards.

Photo D Knowling 2012

Additional Saxton information – Saxton probably born c1540 in the parish of Dewsbury and grew up in the hamlet of Dunningley.  He, as a young man, was in the employ of John Rudd the vicar of Dewsbury and Thornhill, a keen cartographer who passed his skills on to Christopher.  In 1570 he started a commission from Lord Burghley to survey the whole of England and Wales.  He died after 1610 as he is named in the will of his elder brother Thomas and before 1626 when the will of his son, Robert, was proved.

Wakefield – Its History and People says that Saxton was educated in one of the chantry schools within the town (Wakefield), before furthering his education at Oxford.

Much of Saxton’s work was used for many years and his atlas published in the late 1500’s was continually being re-issued and adapted until the late 1700’s. The issues were : William Hole and William Kip re-engraved Saxton’s maps and reduced them in size for the early 1600’s edition – Saxton being given credit for most of the map work. Later editions followed in 1607, 1610 and 16378.   The Atlas – Atlas of the Counties of England & Wales is in the Special Collections Department of Glasgow University Library.

Christopher was granted arms and received lands from the crown, both showing how he was respected for his work.  His grant of arms refers to him as “Christopher Saxton of Dunningly, gentleman”.  But Wakefield has also laid claim to him.