Another Keighley Local Studies Archive Treasure

What’s in the Box?

BK15, The 1763 Keighley Methodist Records.

When, in 1763, William Grimshaw, the famous perpetual curate of Haworth died, John Wesley sent in some quite capable preachers to take control of the Methodist Circuit built around him. The superintendent he chose was William Fugill, who, although of a dissolute character (he was sacked shortly afterwards for drunkenness and immorality), was an extremely capable organiser. The circuit, based on Keighley was enormous, stretching from Elland through north west England to Longtown at the Scottish Border. In total there were 63 societies and 1804 members. Fugill followed Wesley’s instructions and the preachers visited each society every quarter and interviewed the members, recording their names, marital status, occupation, residence, and their spiritual attainment, which the superintendent copied into a register. That register is held in the Keighley Local Studies Archive and is the earliest full record in existence in the country holding more than simply members’ names. This is a gold mine for researchers and has been used several times in the past to understand something of what Methodism meant to the ordinary people in the mid eighteenth century. A treasure indeed!

A workshop, illustrating these records will be held via Zoom at the Really Useful Show of the Federation of Family History Societies on Saturday, 12th November.

Robert Schofield,
Editor, E-Bulletin, Family and Community History Research Society.

Treasure of the Week no. 34: Holroyd’s almanac for 1864 – and the morals of Bradford. From Cab Fares and Public Baths to Thumps and Rushbearings

In the basement of Bradford’s Local Studies Library are collections of nineteenth century pamphlets (and some of earlier date). Ranging from sermons and programmes of royal visits, to reports, articles, obituaries and regulations, they are a treasure trove of local history. What follows is an account of one of these treasures.

Holroyd’s Historical Almanac for the Year of Our Lord 1864. Published by Abraham Holroyd, Bookseller & Stationer, Bradford. 32 pages (Reference: JND 130/11)

Almanacs (or ‘almanacks’) were popular in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. These annual compilations of local information, often produced by local newspapers, contained a rich mixture of facts: astronomical, calendar, national, local, political, legal, administrative and sometimes hints and anecdotes. The following from the contents pages of Holroyd’s 1864 Almanac is typical:

Phases of the Moon -1864; Eclipses – 1864
Stamps, Duties, Receipts, Agreements, etc.
Rates of Postage, Inland and Foreign
Money Orders, etc.
Telegraph Companies
Delivery and Departure of Mails
Bradford Post Office Regulations
Parcel Offices
List of Fairs, Feasts, Tides, Thumps and Rushbearings

THE CALENDAR with page per month noting:
The Flower Garden
Festivals, and Memorable Events
Rising and Setting of the Sun and Moon

The Kings & Queens of England
The Queen and the Royal Family
Her Majesty’s Government: the Cabinet
Present MPs for the West Riding.
MPs from the Borough of Bradford
The West Riding Magistrates
The Borough Magistrates
Special Sessions
Morality of the Borough of Bradford
Bradford County Court Information
Public Business and Borough Regulations
Banks and Bankers in Bradford
Former Mayors in Bradford
The Bradford Town Council
Committees of the Town Council
Officers of the Corporation
Borough Police Department
Borough Coroner
Inspector of Weights and Measures
Board of Guardians, Bradford Union
Overseers and Collectors of Poor Rates
Relieving and Medical Officers
Public Baths
Registrars of Marriages, Birth and Death
Cab Fares in Bradford
Proverbs and Wise Sayings
The Principal Hotels in Bradford
Temperance Hotels and Boarding Houses
Commercial Dining Rooms
Eating Houses

All human life is here, or a lot of it. Anyone wanting to know what life was like in the past would do well to quarry these yearly almanacs. Absent in this one are descriptions of the towns and village covered by the publication, but we learn that there were three temperance hotels in Rawson Place; that Bradford’s MPs were Henry Wickham and W. E. Forster; that hackney cab fares were a shilling for up to a mile, thence six pence a mile and that the Post Office opened at 7 a.m. (7.30 in winter).

Ah! But what about the ‘Morality of the Borough of Bradford’ as noted in the Contents above? Well:

Number of Constables 119
Known Thieves 91
Receivers of Stolen Goods 5
Prostitutes 151
Suspected Persons 114
Vagrants 491
Houses of Bad Character 5
being Public Houses 20

Brothels 58
Tramps’ Lodgings 45
Crimes Committed 247
Apprehensions 170
Committed for Trial 84
Burglaries 3
Breaking into shops 29
Highway Robbery 4
Laceny 173
Offences against the Person 5
Drunkeness 162

The meaning of some of these headings will have changed over the last century and a half, and also how crimes are allocated to headings, but it is clear that the Borough police force and the courts had plenty to do.
Compiler of the Almanac, Abraham Holroyd, was born in Clayton in April 1815, one of four children. His parents were both handloom weavers and the family were very poor. Self-educated, Abraham joined the army and saw service in Canada, hunting down rebels. He bought himself out of the army, settled in New Orleans, and married. After eight years in North America, Holroyd returned to England, setting up in business as a stationer and bookseller in Bradford’s Westgate. With the assistance of Titus Salt, Holroyd published a number of books on local history and become well-known in literary circles. He died in 1888.
We conclude this peek into 1864 Bradford with some entries from October:

  1. Sudden death in Bolton Road, Bradford, of John Howard, the pedestrian’
    Fire at Bank Mill, Morley, occupied by Mr. James Bradley; damages £2000.
    Luke Knowles, 24, carter, of Bingley, drowned by falling into the Bradford Canal at
    Spinkwell Locks.
    Gale on the East Coast and loss of life.
  2. Mortality of Bradford for the week ending this day, 90.
    William Frankland, 7. Of Lidget Place, Great Horton, killed by being run over by a
    contractor’s cart, in Beckside Road.
    Opening of a new school at Low Moor, erected by the Low Moor Company.
  3. Opening of new Independent Chapel and schools at Little Horton.
    18 John Egan, labourer, killed by being run over on the Midland Line, near Shipley.
    A resolution passed at the West Riding Sessions at Wakefield, pointing out the evils
    caused by the great increase of grocers’ drink licences, and asking that the
    magistrates should have the same control over those licences as they have over
    Laying of the memorial stone of a new United Methodist Free Church at Morecambe.
  4. Death of Professor Wheatstone, the inventor of the electric telegraph.
  5. Samuel Waite, lately manager of Messrs. W. H. Smith & Son’s bookstall at Keighley
    Station, sentenced at the West Riding Sessions to six month’s imprisonment for
    embezzling the moneys of his employers.
    Heavy gales and floods throughout England and Scotland.
  6. Opening of the winter campaign of the Liberation Society by a large meeting in St.
    George’s Hall, Bradford; addresses by Messrs. R. W. Dale and J. G. Rogers.
  7. Further gales and floods in the North and Midland Counties; great loss of life and
    destruction of property.
  8. Mortality at Bradford for the week ending this day, 102.
    The body of Henry Taylor, shoemaker of Cleckheaton, found in Bowling Tunnel
    Laying of the memorial stone, by the Rev. J. G. Miall, of the new Greenfield
    Congregational Chapel, Lumb Lane, Bradford.
  9. Visit of the Royal Italian Opera Company to Bradford.
  10. Explosion of an ammonia still at Messrs. T. Illingworth & Co’s chemical works, Frizinghall.


Treasure of the week. No. 33: The wild man of Cottingley : the wandering life of Jack Lob

‘A Sketch of the Life and Vagaries of ‘Jack Lob’ of Cottingley, near Bingley; a wandering beggar’, pages 10-16 in Interesting Interludes in the Singular Life of William Sharp, alias ‘Old Three Laps’. Printed by Thomas Harrison of Bingley, c. 1856. (Reference: JND 116/4)


The life of Jack Lob was a continual struggle for existence; want of instruction, deprived of his parents when young, and isolated from the working classes by his own indolence and partial insanity, he wandered from one place to another wherever he could pick up a penny of a crust of bread. In the cold nights of winter, in frost and in snow, he crept into old barns, mistrals, pig styes, under hay stacks, and into hedge row bottoms, with an empty stomach and scanty clothing.

John Robinson, better known by the name of Jack Lob, was born at Coppy Coppice, near Cottingley. His father was a soldier but died when John was young. “He was rather short, his physiognomy exhibiting a want of intelligence, having the appearance of an Ourang Outang or wild man of the woods.”

His friends persuaded him to take work in the various coal pits, where he could find employment as a drawer up of coals, but his long habits of vagrancy and mendacity led him to fall back again to his old course of begging, for he said he liked liberty with all its privations better than labour.

He was once confined, as he called it, in the Bastile, or Thackley Workhouse, where his wants were amply supplied but one night escaped though the closet seat. Efforts were made to find him and bring him back, but he managed to evade the vigilance of the parish officers.

Some exploits of this wandering and homeless man are recounted in this tract, giving us, today, something of the flavour of a problem still with us. On his death, local landowner, William Ferrand, without being asked. generously made up what was necessary.


Treasure of the week no. 32: Old three laps and the 47 -year bed sulk

Interesting Interludes in the Singular Life of William Sharp, alias ‘Old Three Laps’.

Published by Thomas Harrison of Queen Street, Bingley, c.1856. 16 pages. No author is given. (Reference: JND 116/5)

On Friday, April 7th, 1856, were consigned to their final resting place, the remains of one of the most eccentric individuals that ever lived. In fact, a parallel seems scarcely possible, of a man voluntarily going to bed in good health, and remaining there for a period of forty-nine years!

‘Old Three Laps’ lived at a place called ‘Worlds’ in Keighley. His nick-name derives from an incident when a tailor was making his father a new suit, but had not been given sufficient cloth. He was told to “make it with three laps or any way.” The acquired nick-name was passed onto his son.

William lived a normal life, making a living manufacturing worsted goods and shooting birds by Keighley Tarn. In due course he fell in love with Mary Smith, daughter of a neighbouring farmer, by whom he had a son. William and Mary planned to marry but their fathers quarrelled over money, William’s father being notably mean with his money – as with the tailor. At the planned wedding, Mary failed to appear. This shook William:

He became moping and melancholy, abandoned his business and the spoils of his gun, and finally betook himself to that bed to which he clung to resolutely during the remainder of a long life. … He never spoke to the person waiting upon him. The only sign of intelligence he exhibited were those common to the brute, by taking his food, and hiding himself from intruders by covering himself with the bed clothes.

Word of this eccentric behaviour spread and visitors were attracted to his home, peering through his bedroom window. William ‘Three Laps’ Sharp, died aged 79.


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.


Treasure of the week no. 30: Quit rents, happy money and Queen Elizabeth’s dole: Bradford charities get a visit from Arthur

The Charities of Bradford. Government Inquiry by Arthur Cardew, Barrister at Law. 1894.

(Information reprinted from the Bradford Observer newspaper by William Byles and Sons.)

JND 18/15 (Please quote this number when the Local Studies library reopens if requesting this item.)

At ten o’clock on Tuesday, January 23rd, 1894, Arthur Cardew, Esq., Barrister-at-Law, Assistant Commissioner, opened an inquiry in Bradford’s town hall. This was on behalf of the Charity Commission who had been asked to look into all charities within the County Borough of Bradford, under the Charitable Trusts Acts 1853 to 1891, and the Charities Inquiries (Expenses) Act, 1892. The inquiry was instigated by the Bradford Council so as to ensure that local charities conformed to recent legislative changes.  Among those in the large attendance were the Mayor of Bradford (James Whitley), two aldermen (Smith Feather and William Lister), the Town Clerk, the Deputy Town Clerk, and two MPs (A. Illngworth and W .P. Byles).

The Town Council had originally thought to examine a few old-established and parochial charities, but the Charity Commission wanted all charities included so that the result would be a complete report valuable for future reference. [Like now!] The charities included large ones such as the Infirmary and the Grammar Schools which had from time to time had endowments given to them as sums of money to be invested and treated as capital. There were also many smaller charities. Over the years practice had varied and there had been occasional suspicions of financial malpractice and partiality. The Town Clerk took it that this inquiry was just to collect information and embody it in a report. The Commissioner assented. [The meeting must have breathed a sigh of relief to hear this, though some charity trustees were given a rough ride!]

Forty-eight charities were examined, ranging from the Grammar Schools, with benefactors such as John Crosse, Henry Brown, Titus Salt and S. C. Lister; the Bradford Infirmary; orphanages, convalescent homes, places of worship, and The Organists’ Charity. Information about their foundation, financial information and management were all investigated. For the information of researchers today, all 48 charities are listed here. Collectively they indicate how much education, health and social welfare in Victorian Bradford owe to charitable activity.

The term ‘Happy Money’ came from the fact that the collector of rents for ‘The Poors’ Estate and Quit Rent’ (No. 3 below) was Mr Henry Happy! Of interest to local historians is that one of the council officials much involved in this inquiry was Thomas Empsall, whose large collection of books on local history was acquired by Bradford Libraries after his death.


  1. The Free Grammar School, including the scholarships of John Crosse, Henry Brown, Titus Salt, and S. C. Lister.
  2. The Girls’ Grammar School, including the scholarships of Henry Brown and Titus Salt.
  3. The Poors’ Estate and Quit Rents.
  4. Richard Pollard’s Charity.
  5. Mary Ann Jowett’s Charity.
  6. William Field’s, or the Black Abbey Dole.
  7. Thomas Farrand’s Charity.
  8. Elizabeth Wadsworth’s Charity for Bradford Township.
  9. John Appleyard’s Charity.
  10. The Rev. Dr. Jobson’s Fund.
  11. The Organists’ Charity.
  12. Susannah Stott’s Charity.
  13. The Bradford Lectureship.
  14. William Wilson’s Charity.
  15. Benjamin Illingworth’s Charity.
  16. Mechanics’ Institute: Brown’s Endowment.
  17. General Infirmary: Endowments of Musgrave, Semon, Leather, and Brown.
  18. Fever Hospital: Nutter’s Endowment.
  19. Eye and Ear Hospital: Semon’s Endowment.
  20. Woodlands Convalescent Home: Nutter’s Endowment.
  21. Orphanage for Boys: Nutter’s Endowment.
  22. Orphan Home for Girls: Nutter’s Endowment.
  23. Nutter’s Scholarship Charity.
  24. Tradesmen’s Benevolent Institution: Nutter’s Endowment and Brown’s Endowment.
  25. Tradesmen’s Home: Brown’s Endowment and Wright’s Endowment.
  26. Spinsters’ Endowment Fund: Brown’s Endowment.
  27. John Harrison’s Charity for the Blind.
  28. Samuel Broadley’s Charities.
  29. Bailey’s Endowment for Minister of Westgate Baptist Chapel.
  30. Endowment of Old and New Wesleyan Chapels at Bradford Moor.
  31. Endowment of Manchester Road Primitive Methodist Chapel.
  32. Endowment of Salem Congregational Chapel in Manor Row.
  33. Endowment of Kirkgate Wesleyan Chapel.
  34. Endowment of Eastbrook Wesleyan Chapel.
    34A. Holling’s Charity for Friend’s Meeting House.

Township of Allerton

  1. James Sagar’s Charity.
  2. The British School.

Township of Bowling

  1. Endowment of Dudley Hill Wesleyan Chapel and School.

Township of Horton

  1. John Ashton’s Charity.
  2. Elizabeth Rand’s Charity.
  3. Dixon’s Charity for Chapel Lane Chapel.
  4. Endowment of Great Wesleyan Chapel.

Township of Manningham

  1. Elizabeth Rand’s Charity.

Parish of Calverley

  1. Queen Elizabeth’s Dole.

Township of Pudsey

  1. Lipton’s Charity.
  2. Gibson’s Charity.
  3. Neville’s Charity.
  4. Simpson’s and Hay’s Charity
  5. Elizabeth Wadsworth’s Charity for Calverley Township.


Treasure of the week no. 29: A free library for Bradford

Report of the Finance and General Purposes Committee as to the operation of the Free Libraries Act.1868.  Printed by M. Field of Bradford. 23 pages.

JND 1/12 (Please quote this number if requesting this item when we reopen again.)

At a meeting of Bradford’s Finance and General Purposes Committee, held on 6th March, 1868, it was ‘Resolved that the Report of the Sub-Committee on the proposed Free Library, now read, be and the same is hereby approved, and adopted, and that the same be presented to the Council at their next Meeting … . (W. T. McGowen, Town Clerk.)’ The Council did approve the report and Bradford’s ‘Free’ (i.e. ‘Public’) Library opened in 1872.

The Sub-Committee was appointed ‘to inquire into and report upon, the working of the Free Public Libraries Act, in those Towns in which the Act is now in force.’ The Chair was John V. Godwin, an active proponent of Free Libraries. The public library is now very much part of the social landscape, but before the Public Library Act of 1850 people had to pay a subscription to use a library, either by becoming a member of an organisation, such as the Literary and Library Society, or by using a commercial ‘circulating’ library. The move to provide libraries ‘on the rates’ was hotly contested, especially by the limited number of those wealthy enough to pay for them! So the acceptance of the report was a momentous event.

The Sub-Committee had contacted 13 of the 28 towns in England and Scotland which had adopted the Act. To a list of twenty-one questions, “replies were furnished in the most cheerful and courteous manner.” The report had three tables. One gave the dates when the Act was adopted, composition of the management body, whether both Lending and Consulting (i.e. Reference) libraries were established and what other libraries existed in their area. Second: the amount produced by the rates, cost of land, buildings and books, and how met. Third: Opening hours, number of volumes, issues, security and loss. There were also statistics on art galleries.

The libraries consulted were Bolton, Cambridge, Oxford, Blackburn, Liverpool, Sheffield, Cardiff, Birmingham, Airdrie, Manchester and Salford. Much can be learned from these tables about the concerns people had about how a ‘free’ library would work, and about the early history of public libraries. Particularly interesting are the occupations of users, and what sort of books libraries stocked. Liverpool had a reading room that held 600 people, and the most consulted reference source were Patent Specifications.



View more historical images of Bradford Libraries across the years here:



Treasure of the week no. 28: A pot of green feathers and problems in schools

‘A Pot of Green Feathers’ by T. G. Rooper and ‘Typical Merits and Defects of Schools’ by A. Watkins: Two Papers Read Before the Bradford & District Teachers’ Association, circa 1890. Printed by J. Toothill of Bradford. 40 pages.           

JND 1/19 (Please quote this number if requesting this item when we are open again.)



Image from ‘Oeuveres complètes de Jean Jacques Rousseau’ 1788 p. 144 Flickr Commons

A young child was shown a pot of beautiful fresh green ferns by a student teacher. The teacher asked the child to say what it was. “It is a pot of green feathers”, the child answered. “Poor little thing! She knows no better”, commented the student teacher to her supervisor.

Some time later the supervisor, Mr Roper, who happened to be an Inspector of Schools, addressed a meeting of Bradford teachers and referred to this incident. “Did the child really suppose that the ferns were feathers?” This got the inspector thinking and researching. The lecture was the result of his labours. Big questions emerged: What do we know of the outer world? Of what is not self? Of objects? How do we know anything of the outer world?

Quite what the meeting made of the inspector’s answers is not recorded. The account covers seventeen pages of closely argued, though lucid, text, and not for repetition here! But it is worth a read for those philosophically inclined, or concerned with educational psychology. Briefly, one learns by extending what one already knows – the child already knew about feathers but not ferns – hence the value of extending one’s experience.

There was a second inspector at this meeting, a Mr Watkins. The title of his talk was ‘Typical Merits and Defects of Schools’. I suspect the teachers would have felt on surer ground and a little nearer home with Mr Watkins. Those who study Victorian education will also profit. Here are uncovered the mysteries of disciplining children, of well-ordered schools, teaching children to concentrate, mechanical versus intelligent learning, reading, speaking, writing, and teaching methods. Exactly what student teachers needed to know!

There was a sting in the tail though: “I believe in having a high ideal, and by steady perseverance, every teacher should strive to reach as near perfection as abilities and circumstances permit.” Maybe Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools Watkins would be visiting their school in the near future!

Finally, said Mr Watkins, “In conclusion, I feel sure that the inordinant length of my paper must have bored you.” Er … !

Treasure of the week no. 27: Full dress subscription concert, February 1886

In the basement of Bradford’s Local Studies Library are collections of nineteenth century pamphlets (and some of earlier date). Ranging from sermons and programmes of royal visits, to reports, articles, obituaries and regulations, they are a treasure trove of local history. What follows is an account of one of these treasures. To consult any of these items please ask the staff. Catalogues of these collections are located in the Local Studies Library.

BRADFORD SUBSCRIPTION CONCERTS. Full Dress Subscription Concert. 21st season, 1885-6. February 12th. Vocal and Instrumental Music. Printed by John Dale & Co. of Bradford, 1886. 24 pages.

JND 1/16 (Please quote this number if requesting this item when we are open again)



A healthy cultural life was a measure of the success and standing of Britain’s Victorian towns. An important cultural institution in Bradford was its Subscription Concerts held in the St George’s Hall. The 24-page pamphlet JND 1/16 in the Dickons Collection is a programme from the 21st season. So what went on in February 1886? In typical wordy Victorian fashion we start with the Regulations:

With a view to facilitate the INGRESS and EGRESS … the GRAND ENTRANCE is exclusively appropriated to the visitors to the STALLS. Holders of Tickets bearing ODD NUMBERS will proceed to their seats by the Stairs on the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the Grand Entrance. Subscribers having Tickets with the EVEN NUMBERS will proceed on the LEFT HAND SIDE.

And further: Private Conveyances and Engaged Conveyances must fall into line as usual in Hall Ings, and there wait till called for. Finally, The Police have strict instructions to enforce the above Regulations. By Order, THOMAS HILL, Mayor.

Then comes a list of SUBSCRIBERS to the STALLS: 210 of Bradford’s Good and the Great, including such luminaries as Sir Jacob Behrens, Julius Delius and W E B Priestley. This is followed by RESERVED AREA SUBSCRIBERS, another 210, and then SUBSCRIBERS FOR THE WEST GALLERY, 105 of them.

And who did they see and what did they hear? Vocalists Madame Trebelli, Miss Carlotta Elliott, Mr Henry Guy and Mr Maybrick; Señor Sarasate (Violin), Signor Bottesini (Contra-Bass), and Mr W G Cusins (Pianoforte) accompanied by Signor Bisaccia. Texts and translations are given of the songs. Composers included Chopin, Gounod, Sarasate, Gluck, Bottesini and Rossini. The Pianoforte was ‘kindly provided by Messrs John Brinsmead & Sons’.

The printed programme ends with a timetable of ’Railway Arrangements’ for those without their own conveyances. The 11.20 Lancashire and Yorkshire service was to call at Cleckheaton, Liversedge, Heckmondwike, Thornhill, Horbury and Wakefield; and the 11.25 at Wyke, Lightcliffe, Hipperholme, Sowerby Bridge, North Dean, Elland, Brighouse and Mirfield (though not, I suspect, in that order!). Times are also given for the Midland and Great Northern train services.

And so ended a February’s evening’s cultural entertainment in Bradford.


Treasure of the week no. 26: Hedgehogs, polecats and churchwardens.

This week we resume our popular ‘Treasure of the Week feature by our volunteer ‘Stackmole’. These treasures are from 19th Century Publications which give a varied insight into the Bradford of the 19th Century – history as it happened. We hope these articles will encourage people to study these items and to pursue this interest into other aspects of Bradford’s history.

Natural History Notes from the Bradford Churchwarden’s Accounts by Herbert E. Wroot. Offprint of pages 183-187 from The Naturalist, June 1895. Contains a transcript of the entries relating to payments for catching wild animals from 1668 to 1748.

JND 18/12 (Please quote this number if requesting this item)

Tres 26 image

The Churchwardens were very much the local officials in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and were responsible for the administration of the law. Interesting are the payments made for catching vermin and wild animals. The entries in The Accounts of the Bradford Churchwardens date from 1668 to the end of 1748. From these, journalist and naturalist, Herbert Wroot, transcribed the entries that relate to wild animals. They give evidence that in and near Bradford there were:

  • Hedgehogs (or ‘Urchins’)
  • Wild Cats
  • Foxes
  • Otters
  • Badgers (or ‘Greys’)
  • Polecats (or Foumarts)

hedgehog from Eileen Aroon p 127

Image from ‘Eileen Aroon’ by Stables, Gordon, 1884 Flickr Commons

Most common of these were hedgehogs, the deaths of 180 being recorded. Superstition against this harmless creature was strong – they were supposed to seek the milk from the udders of cows as they lay on the ground. The existence of the wild cat in the district is especially interesting; the animal being long ago extinct in England. Four specimens are referred to – two were caught in 1676, one in 1678, and the last in 1680. The badger or ‘gray’ seems to have been scarce or rarely seen. The sole specimen referred to was killed in 1676 at Shipley. Although polecats are several times noted, there were no martins, weasels or stoats. Otters were not uncommon, five having been killed, the last mentioned in 1731.

No payment was made for any of the birds whose destruction was prescribed by the Acts; birds such as hawks, kites, the buzzard, magpie, jay, rave or kingfisher. Likewise, there is no record of smaller vermin such as rats, mice or moles. The rewards paid, one shilling each for foxes and greys, and two pence each for hedgehogs, otters, wild cats and polecats, were in conformity with the scale prescribed by the Government.

The struggles of the illiterate churchwardens with spelling of the words ‘urchin’ and ‘hedgehog’ are amusing. Two examples are:

1670, April 23   Paid to Thomas Roe for Catshing two heg hoges ..… 4d.

1679-9   Aloud to the Churchwarden of Shipley for 6 uerchanes & for a wild cat ….. 2s. 02d.


Image from ‘Eileen Aroon’ by Stables, Gordon, 1884 Flickr Commons