Treasure of the week no. 31: The hermit of Rumbold’s Moor – the story of old job senior

Old Job Senior, the Rumbold’s Moor Hermit. An account of his Eccentricities & Remarkable Life. Printed and published by Thomas Harrison, Queen Street, Bingley. c.1880. 14 pages. No author is given. The account includes a verse ‘Elegy by Silas Cryer. (Reference: JND 116/4)

Old Job is dead, that droll old man,

   We ne’er shall see him more;

He used to wear a drab old coat.

   With buttons and bands before.

A low crowned hat, with brim much torn,

   To keep his old head warm;

His clogs were made of blocks of wood;

   His stockings straw and yarn.

So opens this account of Old Joe Senior, the Hermit of Rumbold’s Moor. The poem continues with another seven verses describing Job’s ragged appearance.  Here we content ourselves with the accompanying engraving, which is graphic enough!

            Job was not always so scruffy, or a hermit. “When young, he was a good-looking and spruce young man, employed amongst the famers in the neighbourhood, driving the plowing team, &c, and afterwards became a regular farm servant about Ilkley.”

            He later went to Whitkirk, near Leeds, where he courted a young woman, the result of which he became a father. The Parish authorities made him ‘pay the smart’, which cleared him out of money. The young woman later refused to have anything to do with him, probably because Job “… had already acquired indifferent habits, losing his sprightliness of appearance, and becoming careless and unsteady.” He returned to Ilkley, and continued as a farm labourer, and in winter, wool combing.

[He later] became acquainted with an old widow, living alone in a cottage near Coldstone Beck, Burley Wood Head, on the borders of Rumbold’s Moor … her little cottage stood within a small garden, she also claimed an adjoining field which had been left by her husband, and which he had taken from the common. Old Job again fell in love – if not with the widow, probably with her property.

Job and the widow, Mary Barret, married; she was eighty, he about sixty. After Mary’s death, catastrophe struck. Mary’s relatives determined to rid the old man off the property. Job resisted, but one day he returned to the cottage to find it in ruins. Job then built himself a sort of kennel with the largest of the stones from the rubble. “Here he lived for many years, forlorn, and poor, and miserable, in a place scarcely fit for a pig, and here he remained nearly to the time of his death.” He grew potatoes and other food on his land.

            Job, however, was a fine singer, able to sing ‘in four voices’ – alto, treble, tenor and bass – which he claimed to have learnt at the Leeds Parish Church. He went about the country in the winter season and sung at such places as Headingly Gardens, the Woolsorters’ Gardens in Bradford, and was once fetched to sing at the theatre in Leeds. Athough he was generally well supported, he would sleep in any outbuilding or smith’s shop.

Old Job died aged 77 and was buried in Burley churchyard.

Stackmole

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