A Thousand Years Of Southowram
At a Manor Court held at Wakefield on the Friday in Whit week 1275, William the Cobbler having admitted that he had beaten and wounded Gilbert of Ashday was fined 6d., at the same court, Henry, son of Thomas del(e) Rode was fined 2/- for going out with bludgeons to beat the same Gilbert of Ashday.
Ten years later, in 1285, at the court held at Wakefield on April 25th Gilbert of Ashday complained that on Palm Sunday in that year Thomas de Hylton assaulted him and broke his head with a bow in Hipperholme Wood, drawing blood. He claimed damage of 2 marks (about £1 .40), but he seemed afterwards to have forgiven his assailant, for at the court held at Wakefield on Friday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity in the same year Thomas de Hylton gave 6d. for a licence of concord with Gilbert of Ashday, so Gilbert of Ashday is in trouble for a start.
Incidentally, the forgoing extracts from the court rolls relate to the Graveship of Hipperholme, in those days spelt HYPERUM, from which we gather that Ashday was in that Graveship, and it's interesting to note that one of the courts in 1286 is described as the Court held at the Bridge of Rastrick. This bridge over the Calder, and the house by the side of it, gave Brighouse its' name in 1286.
But this only 700 years ago and we can go back much further with Southowram. Scanty records go back to the Doomsday Book, in writing, but our village was well on the map when, so to speak, when William the Conqueror arrived in 1066.
Let me give you a rough background to the state of our district, to when Southowram first became a reality. You may think this part superfluous, but maybe it will help to give an insight to the external conditions which influenced the geographical and the human elements. The main influence was the Calder valley. In the later Ice Age, about 15,000 to 12,000 BC. the Calder valley in the Brighouse area was part of Lake Calderdale, a vast stretch of water filling up the valleys of the Calder, the Colne and their tributaries.
Above the lake on the heights of Clifton, Southowram and Rastrick was a formidable stretch of tundra, with Arctic and moorland vegetation. Further to the West on the Pennine heights lay a belt of snow, fringed by the Western icefield. To the East lay a great glacier of the Plain of York, which pushed a great bank of debris across the Calder valley about Horbury and prevented the waters of Lake Calderdale from escaping. The lake probably existed for many thousands of years after the Ice Age, through various climate changes. It was only about 49OBC that the waters burst through this barrier to the East, to leave the valley of the Calder a swampy uninhabitable place. On the Southowram and Clifton side rose up a forest of oak and hazel, while on the Rastrick side grew oak and birch. This was the age of the Neolithic and Bronze Age man, but no traces of them have yet been found in our district.
Around 500BC we begin to see the first signs of life in the Brighouse area. To the Iron Age belongs the construction of earthworks, places for both defence and habitation, the most locally well-known is at Castle Hill, Almondbury, not a very great distance as the crow flies from our own hilltop. It became, and was, when the Romans came in 43AD, the capital of the North of England, inhabited by the tribe called Brigantis and called Brigantum.
The Brigantes were a fierce race of warriors, ruled by a heredity head called Cartimandua, - a woman. All this we know from Roman writings, they were highly civilised too, after their fashion, they had their own coinage. There were Brigantes who lived away from Castle hill, in the surrounding country, probably on these very slopes, they grew grain and tended cattle.
As the Romans painstakingly worked their way northwards and had suppressed the army of Boadicea, they came into Yorkshire. About 50AD they arrived in this area and at first the Brigantes under Cartimandua were friendly, she being among other things a good stateswoman but there was a strong undercurrent of opposition to this policy, which by 69AD had led to civil war and the disappearance of Cartimandua. The Brigantes entered into a period of open hostility to the Romans.
So now the Romans set out to completely sub due the Britons, they built roads and poured legions in and the Brigantes fought a retreating battle until they made a last stand at what is now Catterick and were wiped out. The Romans had now supplied roads here and the one from Manchester lay on the hilltop opposite our own, where Upper Edge is today. This road ran through Rastrick, using part of what is now Bramston Street, turned right along the big wide river Calder, crossed a ford at Snake Hill, (just past Brighouse Bridge) then took a straight line to Clifton and Hartshead, then onto Cleckheaton, Tadcaster and York. They built a small fort at Kirklees to protect the ford. Probably cavalry - it was all downhill to the ford.
From 125AD to 250AD the territory of the Brigantes enjoyed a comparative peace, but then the frontiers of the Roman Empire began to crumble under the attacks from the Pics and Scots from the North. A half century of uncertainty began, the men buried their wealth to keep it safe from plundering bands of marauders. Hoards of coins have been found at Hove Edge, Elland Wood Bottom and Clifton, all bearing dates of the second half of the third century.
At the beginning of the fifth century the Romans abandoned the country. With the Roman power gone, Britain was a tempting prey to the Germanic peoples searching for lands to live.
There is a period of six and a half centuries in British History between the end of the Roman Rule and the beginning of that of the Normans, to part of which the name of the 'Dark Ages' has been given. In our school days we probably remember mainly that terrible list of English kings and their dates starting so abruptly and definitely with William the first 1066. If we were taught anything about times earlier than that, we shall probably only have retained some confused recollection of Ancient Britons stained blue with woad, or of Romans who built a wall. After the Romans several stories follow more or less in isolation from other events. There was someone in Rome who called captive boys,' not Angles but angels'; King Alfred burnt the cakes; another king, Canute tried to stop the tide coming in. Of the consecutive history of the period and of the daily life and struggles of its people, we learned little or nothing, because little or nothing was the extent of what was known with precision about the time before the Normans.
The population left by the Romans was only small in numbers, the larger groups being gathered round a few Roman towns, the rest of the country was very sparsely inhabited. The people were illiterate, and conditions of life were hard and exacting. There were no educated or leisured folk to write about what was happening and events themselves demanded all the energy and attention which people had to use. For at least two and a half centuries there was no written record of any kind. All we know of those years is the result of excavation and the study of finds of articles and the philologist who has studied and interpreted place names, this is the period without written record that scholars call the 'Dark Ages'.
During this six and a half century time a new population was added to Britain, - Angles, Saxons and Jutes and Danes and Norsemen, in turn, invaded the country, pillaged and fought, then settled down. Amongst them they cleared some of the forest which in the Roman period had covered nearly all the country. They created villages, shared their language and customs and became the English who were subdued by William the Conqueror. At the end of the 4th Century AD, York, then known as Eboracum was a fortress town where a Roman Emperor had been born and another had died. The country to the North and West of it was largely savage, in a state of uneasy peace, but in Roman eyes quite uncivilised.
When the Normans arrived, Eboracum was known to the Norse as 'Jorwick'; an archbishop had his minster there and it was the centre and capital of a county of Yorkshire, with three Ridings and boundaries not a lot different from those of today. Nearly all the villages and towns we know today were founded in this period and at the conquest they had settled communities, cultivating their common fields, having flocks and herds, paying taxes to the king, taking part in some form of local government. It is to these obscure folks that we owe our village, our language, and particularly our dialect, along with a good part of our character.
In terms of geography, we can think of Scandinavia who produced the Norse, North Germany, Jutland and parts of Holland for Saxons and the Danes. The term "Saxon" embraces the Angles and Jutes as well, so our first ancestors here could be any of them. They were related distantly and spoke the same language but had a different dialect.
Now, why did they come? We know that from our present-day findings that the climate of those days around 500AD was much wetter and cooler than that of today. During many centuries and particularly those about the first 4 or 5 of our era there was a steady earth movement in North West Europe. The most obvious effect of it was the slow sinking of the Southern part of the Baltic coast and the adjoining land, so that these early Saxons faced with flooding and lost land, and an increasing population had a "land hunger" created for them, and these factors made England with its' sparse population a desirable land of opportunity. And so these first settlers spread from the Humber estuary onto the face of Yorkshire. They were heathens who buried many objects with their dead and a great many objects have been found, but so far to my knowledge nothing in Southowram Remember now that England in those days was a huge forest, and Mr. Mitchell, the Brighouse historian, tells us that the river Calder of those days was many times wider than now. So imagine these "Norsemen" wearing horns on their helmets, in their longboats with a dragons head at the front, a big square sail and their shields hung in line over the side, sailing or rowing on the big wide river, the sides covered with trees and scrub and surveying the hilly country above Brookfoot.
Climbing a water-worn gully, which turned and twisted through the trees, avoiding boulders and boggy ground, until their climb levelled out and they came to a more level stretch which we now know as "The Birks", and beyond was a gentle sloping ridge covered by scrub, in this vicinity they felled trees, large and small to make clearings, build fences and Palisades to keep out wolves, wild boars and deer, for we know there were large numbers. They built wooden houses and thatched themand laid log pavements, a feature of their former way of living, due to swampy ground. Their word for a ridge or a hill was OVERE, so they called the HAM or settlement on the ridge or OVERE-HAM. And OVERE-HAM came into being sometime between 600 and 700AD.
The Philologists, people who study place names, call the change or altering of a place name over the years "Normal development" So that OVERHAM in time became UFFRUM, and UFFRUM was the name of our village when Domesday Book was written in 1086. Another village sprang up on the next hilltop to the North years after and this too for some reason was called UFFRUM. This village must have risen around, or just after, the Norman Conquest because it isn't mentioned in Domesday Book. To distinguish it, it was called North Uffrum and our village was called South Uffrum, and they were separated by the stream called Shibden Brook which flows through Walterclough to emerge at Brookfoot.
So, to recap, we know the Saxons were our first inhabitants, at a guess, between 600 and 700AD. They formed a working community which spread outwards, and the population increased and families tended farms away from the original settlement.
This we know from local place names.
There may have been remnants of the old British Brigantes left in the district, but if there were, it's possible the Saxons and the Britons settled together side by side.
Of course, new place names sprang up here and a good example is CRUIM WAEL. CRUM means winding or twisting, WAEL means water, so CRUMWAEL means winding water or winding stream, and CRUMWAEL has now become Cromwell. Cromwell wood which the stream flows through, and Cromwell Bottom where it enters the Calder.
You might wonder where all this stuff comes from? Well, Dr Raistrick who writes for the Dalesman has quite a few books on the subject and there's Mr Mitchell the Brighouse historian. The Halifax Antiquarian papers over a long period, and there are several local histories of Halifax and the Brighouse and Halifax reference libraries. It's all there, from these various sources, I've taken it, and arranged it in chronological order as far as possible. I mentioned earlier that a thousand years ago the River Calder was much wider, how do we know? On both sides of Brighouse there are gravel pits and diggings supplying pebbles. Pebbles have been water formed and the deposits come right up to the present-day road. Again, a few years ago, below Kirklees on the M62 side of Brighouse, there was found far from the river of now, the burnt out remains of two Viking longboats. Nothing specific is known about them.
Around 750AD and onwards, a fresh invasion of England took place, this time it was a tremendous influx of Danes. Swarm after swarm appeared and where they made towns it invariably ended in BY. FixBY, SowerBY and many others you'll be able to pick out yourselves. Some settled and some plundered where they could, advancing further across the Pennines. Nothing specific is known but they could have intermingled with the English in these parts. Let me give you a couple of ideas which COULD have happened in our own village.
These latecomers, the Danes and Vikings, brought with them a form of democracy which was similar to one of the other Northmen already living here. They had an assembly which they called the 'ALLTHING' which took place at given intervals, say once a month. At this ALLTHING were decided all aspects relating to village life and whatever was decided was law. Anyone who had a complaint of any kind could bring it up before a chosen council of elders with the whole community listening and the result was binding. Land squabbles, son's inheritances, killings, - anything. It was held in a place as near central in the district for consideration of all the community, townspeople and scattered farms. Remember what the philologists called years of word using and it changing - normal development. The ALLTIIING - HALL IN, - TYNWALD , I.O.M. Meaning THING FIELD, well it's an idea.
Now the Danes and Vikings who ended the town's name in BY, called a town a BIRK. We have the BIRKS here. Was there a Danish settlement, a BIRK alongside that straight bit of road? I've nothing to back either suggestion up, but how do places get names?
Hall Ings, or Hall fields as the name suggests, weren't there because of the Hall, because Southowram Hall, which I'll tell you about later, was a long way off.
Some of these people left us with place names that exist today. Rastrick, the wick or settlement of Raster or Ras, is a Viking name. Coley, the cold fields, High Sunderland was A.S.Sunderland, farmland. Shibden was Schepe-dene which speaks for itself. Ovenden is interesting, Like the Calder it goes back to the Britons before even the Saxons came.
Ovenden was Avon-dene, Arvon is British for river, or water, and the Welsh of today say Arvon for river, and we have several river Avons in England.
Preceding the Norman Conquest, and for a short period after it, we know for certain that the headman of Uffrum was a Saxon-Thane called Camel, this we know from the Domesday Book.
So now we have the local population in their everyday existence, the old Anglo-Saxons and the newcomers the Danes, who merged and built a community together, sharing our district and not knowing that in a hundred years or so they would be invaded by their own relatives, the Normans. Such a big influx of Danes was bound to make its presence felt, and while the Saxon and Danish speech was nearly the same, the dialects were different, and there rose now a new form of language having both elements in its' make up. Many common words of today such as take, window, ugly, shy, happy, husband and bread were imported by the Danes, and a rigid and complex community had new levels of society. There were four categories of free men. The Thane, whose duties included military service, fortification and bridge services. The Geneat, whose services were what we might term "honourable", such as escorting travellers or carrying messages, he was not expected to do any menial work, but he did pay rent. He was a substantial small farmer who might aspire to Thanedom.
A Cotter held five acres and a cottage, and had to work on his Lords' estate one day a week, and three days at harvest time, but paid no rent.
Below the Cotters were GEBURS, later known as Villeins. The GEBUR was provided with no more than 30 acres of land, in return for which he worked on his Lords' estate for two or three days a week, and on his death, his holding returned to his master.
At the bottom of this agricultural hierarchy were Slaves, recruited from amongst prisoners of war, criminals and paupers. They had no rights. The farm worker wore a short smock or tunic. In winter he added a hood which he often kept on indoors. In the summer he wore a straw hat with a wide brim, and he lived in a hut of Wattle and Daub.
Cereals were the staple crop, oats, barley, rye and wheat was important. Barley was used for brewing ale, their everyday liquid. There was pastoral farming, and cattle, sheep and goats placed an important part in everyday life. Pig keeping was common around here too because there was much woodland. Berries and wild fruit such as crab apples were gathered. Bees were highly valued; honey was the only sweetening substance and was a constituent of mead. Huntsmen provided deer and wild boar to give variety to the diet of at least the upper ranks of society.
It's difficult now to imagine how the forest dominated the lives of local people in those days. From earliest times it gave them not only food, fuel and timber to build their houses, but its' dark depths were filled with the shadowy matter of myth and legend.
Fact and fantasy joined in an eerie alliance, for the forest harboured fairies and elves, hermits and holy men, brigands and outlaws.
But now the Normans were ready to take over the country, and what had been a normal existence from say 900AD onwards, was completely revolutionised. Their small class system was to disappear, and harsh laws brought to a standstill the forest rights. The old thing faded away and the manorial court took its' place. In fact, everyone became a tool for the Norman lord of the manor. One remarkable thing emerged, the Normans failed miserably to make their everyday language common, and time has proved that though the English language was at times what we call "earthy" today, it still exists. Naturally, our modern English does include many Norman French words, but that's to be expected.
As I've said before, then Danes helped too in extending our vocabulary
With the Norman Conquest, our knowledge of life in this district begins to expand. Communities at Owram, Rastriek, Cliftone and Hiprum begin to emerge as units. We make contact with individual men and women of the district. The Northern parts of England didn't accept the decision of Hastings. and in 1068 and 1069 rising backed by Danish allies took place. But William the Conqueror proved too much of a power for them. What was even worse for the North was that he was a stern punisher of those who resisted his authority. His forces marched through Yorkshire moving from South to North. Systematically they travelled up each river valley including the Calder, burning homesteads and crops with a pitiless efficiency. Large numbers of people perished either by the sword or starvation and 20 years after, at the time of the Domesday survey, great stretches of the countryside were still waste. Clifton, Southowram, Rastrick and Elland all suffered from the Norman harrowing. In Domesday Book for Owram are written these words, "it is waste". But as time went by, the village reasserted it and a court was established at Brighouse, a manorial court held twice a year, presided over by the steward of the lord of the manor. Here transfers of property were arranged, punishments metered out to minor malefactors and orders made for the maintenance of the highways. These court records were made and kept and we can construct some idea of the lives of our ancestors. Owram, sometimes now called Southowram, like other townships in the area, had now a petty constable appointed annually. He was normally the chief tenant in the township and was responsible for the preservation of law and order. Each half a jury was selected to decide court cases. The free tenants of the township were few, and in 1286, Rastrick had only 6 free men. We have no record of Southowram freemen, but there must have been one or two. As much of the countryside was forest, very severe laws were enforced to protect the lord of the manors sport.
Foresters were appointed for this purpose and in 1307, Gilbert del Bothes was elected for the forest surrounding Owram. Fines were levied on those taking wood from the forest, and for a right to keep pigs there a rent was charged. In 1297 Will Swyer paid sixpence for feeding three pigs, the protection of such livestock must have been a problem as the forest around
Southowram, even as late as the 13th century, was populated with wild beasts. In 1288, William del Hirst claimed that he had protected some corn of Alan, son of Richard TALVAS from the attention of forest beasts.
The private life of the people was severely regulated by feudal customs. On the death of a tenant, the lord of the manor demanded a money payment from the heir. In 1297, Thomas, son of Richard de Totehill paid six and eightpence on the death of his father. In 1285, Christiana, daughter of Richard Tuyvel paid twelvepence for leave to marry. The common people were entirely at the mercy of the Lord of the Manor and were regulated to whatever their lord fancied.
Yet there were tradesmen who seemingly prospered. People who were lucky, held jobs, - vital jobs. At the beginning, I mentioned William the Cobbler. There was a corn mill at Brookfoot, owned by the Lord and rented by Southowram men. Parliament made regulations fixing standards of quantity and quality for beer and bread. Those who did not conform to these standards were punished at the manorial court. In 1297, Cecelia, wife of Adam Mimer was fined sixpence for brewing beer below standard. In 1453 Henry Smith was fined twopence for his bread. Certain people were elected to judge the quality of these things and in 1333 we have a record of the ale-tasters themselves being fined three shillings and fourpence for not attending court to report delinquents.
The last mention of an Astey I've found concerns Matilda, daughter of Gilbert de Astey, who was fined on two occasions for brewing without a licence and twice for being a scold and a brawler between 1370 and 1372. Other trades too were controlled. In 1307 Richard le Nailer paid sixpence for a licence to dig for coal to make nails, this, to my knowledge, is the earliest mention in this district of manufacturing. In 1364, William de Whalley was fined fourpence for tanning and shoemaking without permission. In 1307 there was a remarkable case between Rayner, chaplain at Kirklees and a lady called Susanna, the trouble was a dispute about a heifer letting blood and indecent language. Susannah had apparently driven away a heifer belonging to the chaplain, had sworn at him, cracked him over the head when he interfered. Although she was defended by her fellow citizens, she was fined two shillings.
Hawking was a favourite sport and the right to hawk was let at the court. Of course, only the upper classes were allowed. Pastimes for the serfs and villains were also regulated by the court. No games were allowed after 9 pm. In 1446 several men were in court accused of playing 'speres', (bowls) and other unlawful games. Again in 1464 there were again several locals accused of playing cards in their houses!. In 1438 Thomas Maunsell was charged with obstructing the highway with a dunghill.
Here are some place names in or near Southowram, with the dates.
The word ROYD, undated because it was here before the Normans. A clearing was called a RODE because it was rid of something, so in our dialect, we have COAL which we turned into COIL and hole that became HOIL. So RODE, a clearing became ROYD, Stoney Royd, Blaithroyd, Holly Royd, Birks or Birches Royd.
Hipperholme, as HYPERUM was the swamp where the osiers or willows grew.
In 1474, Cross Platts was called OVER CROSS FLATTE. A "Platt" is English for a small plot of ground, but only from the 13th century onward.The cross means lying athwart, not a preaching cross. Adgil Grove is Ash Grove in old English.
In 1536 Binns Top is mentioned, this place was probably the home of the family of Binns. With the accession of Henry the Seventh, after the death of Richard the Third at the battle of Bosworth Field, we can perhaps say it was the end of the Middle Ages. For in 1485 we find things were changing, and many old customs and habits were dying. The language was changing too. Under the Tudors was a new age with a security of its' own. The old feudal order was dying away, and an economic and religious revolution was slowly taking place, which heralded the birth of capitalism. Many of the feudal forms remained and lingered on for centuries like the court leet at Brighouse, but its' spirit was gone to give way to the new urges which created the kind of world we live in today.
In Southowram and the immediate district, the economic revolution had its basis in sheep. Wool production, wool selling and wool manufacture expanded on an ever-increasing scale. More trees were felled, and the countryside here became more open, and yet Southowram produced, as today, a vast amount of stone as well as wool. Some of the old fields and commons were enclosed, causing severe hardship to the smallholders who were virtually driven off the soil. Sheep themselves acquired a new value, for we read that in 1536 Robert Ayley bequeathed in his will 10 sheep to his son Richard.
The number of looms of the clothiers began to grow, as manufacturers began to employ men to work for them. In 1675 we find William Hanson bequeathing his best pair of looms to his son John. Of course, other industries relating to wool became into being. The manufacture of wire for carding was developed, and in 1681 we find a person, S. Brooke, who was summoned to Wakefield Quarter Sessions for buying wire abroad, contrary to the statute.
But sifting through records of the 17th century, everybody seems to have been on the bandwagon, and more and more I've been struck by new references to coal and stone, and it appears to me that the folks of Southowram, whilst not dropping the wool industry, certainly thinned out in their ideas that wool was the prime interest.
We find that quarrying now became the money spinner, and Southoain stone began to be popular all over Britain and even went to London, I should imagine by sea, via Hull. We all know how this district of ours has been pockmarked by "delving", and it's been going on for three centuries. Look around and not all you see are modern delves, in the old days they didn't always leave things as they found them.
Chapel fields we find mentioned in 1601, the old Chapel in the Briars, Briar Lane led to this chapel, hence its name. In 1457 Cote Hill was called Cote Royd. Ludd Hill got its name from a noisy (loud) spring there, (water supply). In 1246 Hall Ings was called HALLE FLATH. Where the 'ing' comes from nobody knows, but the old Anglo Saxon word ENG means flat. We use the word for a clearing, ROYD, which is Anglo Saxon. The word used by the Vikings and Danes for clearing is THWAITE DOVE HSE.
Now Southowram Hall. In. 1939 -Walter Leonard Thompson.
Richard Peck in 1439 was one of the largest landowners. Gold and Silversmith. Buried in the choir at HX P. Ch, read Pgl, IT HAPPENED HERE.
Ashday, originally called Astey, meaning East Land. The original owner took his name from the estate but due to the family dying out the Haldesworths took over, who had married into the Asteys. So we had John de Astey de Haldeworth, who came from Ovenden. In those days of the early Middle Ages, the eldest son was invariably given the same Christian name as his father and reading wills and the like can be a trifle puzzling at times, unless a specific date is given. The name Haldeworth eventually became Holdsworth and the Thompsons, (Walter Leonards') are a branch.
Another Estate was Ecciesley, later Exley, and gave its name to a Southowram family. A certain Wm., son of William de Astey was killed by Richard de Ecclesley he wasn't punished for the murder because he left the district to escape the consequences and we are told that he was at Dunfermline with Edward ! in 1303 and received a royal pardon because of his good service to his sovereign in his wars against the Scots.
Sufthoim or Southholme in the reign of Henry the Eighth was tenanted by Richard Waterhouse, a clothier. In his will dated 1540, Suffholme was described as North Bank Hall and was rented from John Lacy Esq of Cromwell Bottom. In an agreement of 1568 was the following statement, regarding the use of a way leading from the house and holding commonly called SOWGHOLME otherwise North Bank unto the Kings common street leading betwixt the rodidàOt and the town of Southowram. The Waterhouses were to have a right of way through the lands of one GIBSON and all YATESTEADES placed in any part of the way or passage were to be placed in such manner and of sufficient breadth that - 'horses loodin with packes of wooll, sackes with corn or such other like things on horseback may easily pass and repasse'.
Another large house was Little Norcliffe, mentioned an agreement of 1705, this was let for £11 per annum. In the same agreement, these houses were also mentioned:
Sunny Bank, alias Newhouse
Cross Platts, alias Cross Flatts
Hoyle House alias Bell House in Southowram Bank-
The Haynes alias Folly
The last remaining large house and estate is Wa1terclough Hall. It is first mentioned in 1375 and was held by John, son of William Hemingway and after the Poll Tax of 1379, this Hemingway family and Walterclough Hall aren't mentioned until 1526.
Later in 1587, John Hemingway made his will and left to Marie and Anne, his two daughters, one close of land and pasture called JONY RIDINGE in Southowram (?) From this will, it would appear that there was no male heir, but something happened because in 1654 a Wm. Walker became the owner, the Walker family lived there for nearly 300 years. Not much is known about them except for the last generation or two, Caroline Wyvil Walker, with whom the family died out was, I remember, commemorated in St Anne's Church by a wall tablet. She wrote and kept an exceedingly interesting diary which shows a good number of years and she was born in 1774.
When Caroline's father married her mother, Mrs Walker, having plenty of brass to do her bidding, spent a little fortune on the house itself, extensions, etc, beautiful furniture and a first-class education for her 4 daughters and a son John, who was 2 years younger then Caroline, and in doing so, became a first class snob. Only the genteel were admitted to Walterclough Hall and Caroline fell for an army officer on recruiting duties in Halifax, Lord Evelyn Stuart, son of the Marquis of Bute. He seemed unaware of her attachment and her hopes were doomed to languish.
The Walkers were a proud family. The parents barely responded to the overtures of Halifax Society, but in due course, their daughters were escorted to the smart Assembly Balls. It was at one of these balls that Caroline's escort, Lord Evelyn challenged a fellow officer to a duel on Beacon Hill for unmannerly threats to Caroline's brother John. The Walkers stopped attending these society functions and visiting the houses whose doors were opened to them, for there were few people in Halifax sufficiently elect for their daughters to meet.
John was away with the army, sometimes abroad, for Napoleon's forces were overrunning Europe. Lord Evelyn was serving on the continent too, but occasionally on leave from the war, he visited his friends at Southowram.
In succeeding years, Caroline's secret love for the handsome nobleman never wained but she was too reserved and proud to write lest she should betray her feelings for him. When Lord Evelyn wrote, it was to her family. Twenty years passed since their first meeting before she finally told herself, (we learn from her diaries), that she must think of him no more.
In 1818 her brother died, and this link gone, Lord Evelyn came no more to Walterclough. Caroline's diaries have been found and here is an example of her entries. She would be 37 or 38 at the time.
1812 Sunday, Aug 8. In the morning I went to chapel, (St Annes). Delia went also. Mr West makes the service uncommonly long, I found myself troubled with nervous fantasies. The rain forced us to stop a little after service in the chapel, which I found very unpleasant, as Thompson (?) was there and Mr West At last, after a fruitless attempt to procure umbrellas, we went on in the rain. I feel however more contented with having attended divine service and my mind is more composed. I hope I shall be better for it
Blaithroyd Hall, in Queen Elizabeth's day, was occupied by a family called Savile and was a haven for Roman Catholics who were being persecuted. Read Watson.
In this part of Southowram, we had Suftholm, the southholm, Clay House and Cromwell Bottom where the Lord of the Manor lived, but which is now pulled down. This is what T.W.Hanson says in the 'Story of Old Halifax', about the old settlements lying around the crown of Beacon Hill.
“The most important were at Blaithroyd, Stoney Royd, BackHall, Exley, Ashday and Shibden Hall and a track connecting them would make a circle that completely encircles the hill. The men living at these places were neighbours and formed a community known as Southowram Township.”
There are no really famous names down the years that stand out, but perhaps two deserve a mention. The first is Dr Robert Holdsworth, born at Ashday and the second is William Richardson, about him I will mention later. Robert Holdsworth of Ashday lived in the reign of Henry the eighth. He was educated at Oxford and Rome, entered the Catholic Church and having reached a high position in his work, he was installed as Vicar of Halifax Parish Church where he held office for 35years. Lt was a time of fierce strife and great disputes in the church and the local population was either for or against Henry's order to scrap Rome and for him to become the head of the English Church. Dr Holdsworth was dragged into the local fratching and must have been a very troubled man. Well, that was the carry on in those days and if the Lord of the Manor decided to fight, so his retainers, the men of Southowram fought for John Lacy. Notice now he's Lacy and not de Lacy.
To me, this period of
Dr Holdsworth being vicar of Halifax is interesting, remember a lot
of trouble had been caused by Henry the eighth spoiling the Abbeys
and rich Catholic Churches. Now the church became the English church,
due to him quarrelling with the Pope. Now we have the first record in
about 1530 of the building of St Anne's Chapel, called St Anne's in
the Briars and note that Dr Vicar Holdswórth of the Hx Parish Church
was a Southowram man, I wonder if there is any significance? However,
the Chapel of Breers was built at the expense of the Lord of the
Manor, John Lacy and we have no record of it ever being consecrated.
John Lacy's family worshipped there we know, and so did the people of Southowram, whether together or separate, we don't know. The Lacy's would probably use Brier Lane
to reach it, as their house stood at the bottom of it on Elland Road. Why build it so far from the village? Was it halfway between Elland Road and our Towngate, or was it nearer to the village, in which case part of the village could have been in the vicinity of the Birks.
The present church, as we know it was consecrated in 1816 and finished about 1819. While we're in the vicinity of the church let me tell you of an area bordered by the road and extending back towards the North, where the road runs up to Pasture House and the Shakings is a field on the right-hand side and called the Butts. Queen Elizabeth made archery compulsory when the Spanish Armada was expected, probably to make a sort of Home Guard and the Butts is where archery was practised.
It was most likely there long before that time, as a man needed his bow and arrows to live and to fight.
Further down Church Lane, up the drive past Kirk Lea, was Rachel Thompsons' house, on the left-hand side is a field called Potters' field, and in this field near to the road is a depression in a bed of clay running for several yards and at least 3 foot thick.
It is a mixture of yellow and grey clay, and water runs off it very quickly.
The depression has been made by digging, and it could be that it supplied clay to make into earthenware for the village in years gone by.
The farmers around there had maps with each field having a name, and Potters' field is very well marked.
Note again, the clay supply is near to the town, the Birk of the Danes, if and when it was a reality.
There is, I've heard,
but not seen, an old map marking a site in the fields of the present
day, of a kiln, perhaps where the locals burnt his produce.
The first curate of the old St. Annes was someone called CORE in 1650, although this was 120 years later than its' building. We don't know much detail apart from names and dates of these curates, whether they were licensed or the lord of the manor put them there. We don't know if they lived in the village either. The names that have come down to us, in some cases, have no Christian name, but read their surnames.
1652 Christopher Taylor,
Jan. 1661 Gamaliel Marsden, ejected by the Act of Uniformity 1661. This period is famous. Oliver Heywood was curate at Coley and he was banned and ejected and after a period formed Heywood Congregational. It was a time of great trial for those clergy who didn't conform. But these Non-conformists, who refused to lie down so to speak, after banishment from their churches, imprisoned and the like, were the forerunners of the movement which put the nonconformist chapels into reality, and Southowram Wesley eventually stemmed out of it. The St. Annes' curates conformed and 2 years after Gamalie Marsden we have, in 1663, Richard Boy. So the list of curates goes on.
There was a John Sheffield in 1714, John Godby in 1716, Thomas Lister in 1718 and Thomas Meyrick in 1750. That's as far as Watsons' History of Halifax goes
The old church was evidently taken down in 1786, and a document of that year records that Joseph Thomson of St. Annes, one of the trustees of the chapel had, in his hands, £45-34d.towards putting down and rebuilding St. Aimes chapel. It was a free chapel in that it was not under the supervision of Halifax Parish Church. I don't know where services were held between 1786 and 1816, the erection of the present parish church. There may be a record, but I haven't seen it, although Caroline Walkers' diary says she attended service in 1812, but where?
Those are place names and historical facts about Southowram, Not all in order but I didn't want to miss putting them in. And so back to the earlier period.
In the year 1348 the Black Death struck England and continued for another year. It is estimated that a third of the population died. At that time Halifax was very small, and the whole parish held only a few hundred people, and we've no record of how things were in Southowram. It's even possible that there was no one to write an account.
This certainly happened in Halifax, as there are gaps in the Parish Register.
I wonder where all these people were buried? Southowram graveyard wasn't in existence then, and hundreds of graveyards would be needed to bury all the people who have died in 800 to 900 years. Even so, the really poor people wouldn't have been able to afford a funeral, being serfs.
There must be thousands of burials unrecorded yet we seldom hear of a grave being found. However, when the Black death had passed, King Richard 2w'. Wanted to have the place tidied up, so he had a census and imposed a Poll Tax, people were taxed according to their means and social standing.
Here's is how the Poll Tax affected people in Southowram in 1379.
Each man and woman over 16 years of age had to pay 4d. although married couples were charged as one person. Merchants paid one shilling and there were eight in the parish. 23 tradesmen paid 6d. each. John Lacy, of Cromwell Bottom, Lord of the Manor, of Southowram, paid 3s 4d. John Savile of Elland, described as a Chevalier paid 20s. Priests and beggars had no tax to pay.
In the township of Halifax, there were 16 married couples and 6 single persons who paid their groats. If we add 48 children, 3 priests and 1 beggar, we get a population of 90 for Halifax in 1379. it's probable that a few escaped taxation, but we can be certain that the population of Halifax was not greater than 100 in 1379.
In the village itself, here are some Southowram names who paid the tax.
William and John Hemingway, both of Walterclough, amount unknown. Johannes Haleworth (shoemaker) and his wife who paid 6d. instead of the minimum 4d. John Laxey (priest?), 3s4d., Exley and Peck, (tradesmen) 6d. each, 16 others married at 4d., a widow and 2 single women.
By this, it would appear that the population of Southowram didn't amount to 50 in 1379. You will also see by this that people were beginning to have surnames. A surname is something we all have but how we got them is another matter. From the Halifax collection are John Fraunceys and Richard the Nailer. John Fraunceys was a Frenchman living in Halifax. The people who wrote these Poll Tax names down would be the Kings' officials or even the clergy who certainly spoke Norman, French and English. But saying a thing and writing it down are two different matters.
John Fraunceys, which became Francis, and so we have John Francis. Richard the Nailer, a trade name.
People were adopting names or had them given to them by relatives and neighbours to distinguish them in a crowd. They used their trades, their plots of land, their relatives and were given nicknames by reason of some peculiarity they possessed, and it seemed to have stuck.
Now many names were adopted which could only come from a certain part of the country, due to the fact that that was the only place which possessed the descriptive feature. Murgatroyd, which could be Margarets' Royd, Moor Gate Rode (royd).
A gate was their name for entrance. Towngate. The Hebden Bridge district swarms with Sutcliffes and Greenwoods. Sut-South,. People had "son" added to their names which is easy to understand, Harrison, Davidson, Johnson.
Now, what about Pearson? The man who wrote it down perhaps very Norman French and wrote John the son of Pierre, and so we have John Pierre-son.
We also have the same by an English official, John Peterson, the same name but a different writer.
Now this suffix of 'son, Harrison, Davidson, etc. It became necessary all over the British Isles over the years to christen a person as somebody's son. There were different languages and dialects, although things now were levelling out. The Irish had it but they didn't say Allan's - son, they had FITZ, - Fitz-ALLAN, Fittzsinimons, - Simon's-son, Fitz-Herbert, Fitz-Roy. The scotch had MAC - McDonald, McDougal, - Douglas'-son, McAllister,- the son of Allistair.
The Welsh had 'AP' which is slightly more complicated, Ap.Howell - the son of Howell, Powell, Ap.Hugh, Ap REES which became Pugh, Ap Richard - Pritchard. Note Pumphrey. Some in England had no fathers, so took the mother's name. Alice's son, Allison, Bettison, Margison.
Let's take a few Southowram names, probably one or two worked or slaved for the Lord of the Manor. Palfreyman, Faith, Coates, Lorimer, Hemingway. Chadwick was the settlement of the early Vikings— a 'wick', and Chad or Cedd, or Chedd was a popular name among the Angles. There was a king and also a saint of that name. The Saint is buried inside Kirkdale Church, St Gregory's Minister, near Kirby-Moorside and it's a very well preserved gravestone. Watson is Walter's son, Watkin is akin - a relative of Walter. We have a Jagger - JAEGER - man Who went with the pack horses. Fry means FREE. Barker was a tanner of leather.
It is around about a year ago that I collected scores and scores of historical items and dates of Southowram from various sources. I tried to put them in chronological order and give them to you as a talk called 'A Thousand Years of Southowram'. Not being used to this sort of thing, I misjudged the time and left myself 400 years late, - as I only reached Queen Elizabeth the first time.
I was really gratified by the result, quite a lot of people came and said they'd no idea that such and such happened, or that their names were derived by such a trade as I suggested. There were those who had no idea their ancestors had lived here centuries ago. I don't want to waste time again, but very briefly let me mention the various main subjects of that talk. Southowram was a settlement of the Saxons sometime between 600A1) and 800AD and was called OVERE-HAM, the settlement on a ridge. By the time of the Norman Conquest, it had changed by much use to the word UFFRTJM and it was laid waste in 1067 by the Normans along with other settlements for miles around, and Domesday Book says of IJFFRUIM - 'It is waste'.
But it came to life again and perhaps you'll remember the court rolls I spoke of William the Cobbler fined for setting about Gilbert of Astey. A woman called Susannah claiming a heifer and belting a high Churchman over the head who resided at Kirklees.....We heard about Southowram in the 14th and 15 centuries keeping flocks of sheep and quarrying stone and becoming prosperous and the Black Death of 1348 when half the population of the country died.
Let me remind you of the word 'ROYD', which is a local old English dialect word meaning a clearing. The rest of England called it a 'RODE' but our Saxon dialect turned 'OS' into 'OY'. Coal - coil, hole - hoile, coat - coite, rode - royd, and anyone with a surname containing 'royd', Boothroyd, Akroyd, Holroyd, etc, can be fairly sure their paternal ancestors came from this district, say a 15 mile radius of Southowram.
Prior to Elizabeth 1, we had Henry the Eighth, who gave the monasteries such a beating and the vicar of Halifax Parish Church, Dr Robert Holdsworth, born at Ashday Hall here was murdered in the vicarage by the gang belong to the Lord of the Manor of Southowram, John de Lacy.
Have you ever considered the geographical aspect of Southowram? It's on top of a big hill, really a mountain. It has two roads through it to Halifax and Brighouse, anyone wanting to go to either of these towns has to climb. 200 to 300 years ago when walking or horseback were the means of transport, who'd climb a hill if there was near level country as an alternative? So the village was to an extent avoided and to my mind the roads to Halifax and Brighouse were used by the villagers, mainly for trade purposes. In effect, our village became part isolated, an island and we missed a lot of what was happening near to.
Take for instance, what we now call the Civil War. The Cavaliers versus the Roundheads. Do you remember from your school days WHY it took place? When Charles 1 came to the throne he was short of money. He believed in what he called 'The Divine Right of Kings', which he said gave him absolute power to do what he wished but eventually lost him his head.
At his Coronation, King Charles offered a knighthood to every man who had an income of £40 and upwards from the rents of lands. His idea was to enrich himself by the fees from every new knight. Those men who refused the honour of knighthood were fined and if the fine was not paid, they were thrown into prison. Seventy of the gentry of Halifax Parish paid these fines and by this means the king drew £1,034 6s 8d from our Parish. One of the Listers of Shibden Hall paid the fine and the receipt is still preserved there. Another was John Drake of Honey Green.
Again in 1627, two years later, Charles wanted more cash so this time he appealed for free gifts to finance warships. This was ignored, so he sent an order to the clothmakers of Halifax calling on them to contribute in union with Leeds and Hull to pay for 3 ships. The clothmen delayed, wrote to the Privy Council giving several reasons for being excused. 125 men signed this petition and of this number 30 could not write their own names but used an X. The first to sign was Robert Clay, Vicar of Halifax, followed by names of locals called Waterhouse, Bairstow, Binns, Oldfield, Greenwood and Barraclough.
The king became intolerable, he reigned 11 years without a Parliament and he was so mistrusted by all, that things really came to a head, and on August 22nd 1642, King and Parliament were directly opposed in Civil War.
The clothing towns of the West Riding, Halifax including Southowram, Bradford and Leeds and the eastern towns of Lancashire, Manchester, Rochdale and Bolton were for Parliament, for they depended on trade and the people were mostly Puritans. The first battles were mainly what we might term county matches, Yorkshire Parliamentarians v Yorkshire Royalists. Lord Fairfax was the General of Parliaments Roundhead Yorkshire Army, and both he and Cromwell have thoroughfares in Southowram named after them, though personally, I know of no connection between these two and Southowram.
So the civil war broadened and battle after battle took place. Looking back, the scores for a time were level, and we have record of some interesting facts of this time. A Parliament volunteer called John Hodgson lived at Cromwell Bottom House, the home of the old Lords of the Manor of Southowram, now pulled down. He distinguished himself several times, that he was promoted to Captain in Cromwell's own regiment, where he rose again as a commander.
A skirmish or even a small battle took place just about in the vicinity of Godley Bridge, which wasn't there then. Battle items such as musket balls, swords, spurs and such were unearthed when the foundations for St Joseph's Catholic School were being dug, at the very top of Lister Hall Road. Some of you will remember the school and it was always called Bloody Field.
Finally, Parliament won and much was written of this bloodbath. But Southowram seemed to lead a placid life, no records of battle, or armies. But now Cromwell and his Puritans settled down to rule the country and it seems to me from reading, that the common people got a shock.
For now, Oliver Cromwell was called the Lord Protector, He was also a Puritan. Cromwell was going to have the people of England protected from whatever evils threatened them and at the same time keep them pure. So we have record of a dictator of sorts who sent out a small army of snoopers and informers to spy and report on everyones behaviour and morals. They visited everywhere, towns, villages, hamlets, and had full Government backing. They enforced Puritan laws, some of them very harsh to our way of thinking. Just listen to what the people of Southowram had to put up with for 11 years.
Sunday attendance at Church was enforced and a very good reason had to be given by any absentee. Fines were imposed for non-attendance and for regular absentees, - imprisonment. Church bells were not allowed to be rung. There had to be no working on the Sabbath, of any kind, and so there was no cooking to be done by housewives, and no burdens must be carried by anyone, except a Bible, to and from Church.
Statues and stained glass windows in Church were frowned upon, and no laughter or smiles were supposed to take place there. At no time in the streets could more than 3 people gather together to talk or gossip unless a proclamation was being read in the village centre or town market cross. A couple might marry but not necessarily in Church. All that was needed was a public statement from the Market Cross, - reading the Banns, on three separate weekly occasions, and a wedding ceremony wasn't necessary. If there was a get together after, there had to be no frivolity.
But by far, the most obnoxious custom of Cromwell's Puritan rule was the witch hunting. Both male and female. People denounced one another to the snooper, who carried out his own trial. Doctors were scarce and charged too much for the common folk, who turned to some old dame skilled in herbs, who sometimes was a harmless old country woman getting on in years. Of course, someone didn't like her, and she was denounced as a witch and then the witch hunter got to work. Various methods were used to make her confess that she was in league with the devil. Hot Irons, throwing in a pool to see if she floated and then she was guilty. If she sank she was not guilty. Sometimes these witches were burnt alive or hanged and the entire village population was compelled by law to watch. For some reason or other, Lancashire came top of the list for witches. It was indeed a horrible time during the eleven years of Cromwell's rule.
There must have been great rejoicing when Cromwell died and I'll bet the folks of Southowram really let off steam. In passing here let me remind you that not far away, above Claremount, at High Sunderland, a Royalist Cavalier, LANGDALE Sunderland lived and being on the losing side in the Civil War, had his estates confiscated and then the family seems to have disappeared. The family had lived there for 400 years. Again, I can't reconcile how the names come to be associated with Southowram, we have two street names, Cromwell and Fairfax, who was one of his Generals, perhaps someone can throw a light on it.
So after Cromwell died the Stuarts were restored to the throne of England and events took place then which affected our village. Charles the second had hardly begun to reign in 1660, when Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity, whereby all clergymen and ministers who refused to accept the usages of the Church of England were expelled from their livings. Many refused, - one of the most famous was Oliver Heywood of Coley who was fined for not attending Church, also told that he would be thrown out if he tried to attend.
Oliver Heywood has been much written and talked about, perhaps because Heywood Chapel in Northowram was a result of his experiences.
But in 1662, at the same time, the parson at St Anne's in the Grove, Southowram was also expelled and his name was Gamaliel Marsden, further than that we don't know a thing about him, except that he was appointed in January of 166 1.
Oliver Heywood kept diaries which have since been printed and we know from them of the richer people who took their families to York for the winter and the winter fair in Halifax and the big Halifax Market.
On May Day and Midsummer's Day, the young Southowramites had dancing and games and cockfighting was popular around here. The diaries tell us too that the merriment often ended in fighting. In those days Southowrarn had a constable we know, but so far I've never run across a reference to a gaol.
Around about 1700, the citizens of Southowram had for the most part of their livelihood the trades of agriculture, quarrying, a coal mine or two and the cloth trade, which was done in their homes and presumably the cloth was taken to Halifax. Halifax had a cloth hall from as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. The old Cloth Hall stood somewhere near the top of Crown Street hence the place is still called Hall End.
I have an extract here from an agreement dated the 29th September 1705, which, I think I read 12 months ago, these are place names in Southowram in 1705. “The agreement is between Joseph Farnell, clothier, and John Smith, The Croft, called Bill Croft situated in Southowram abutting on lands of John Smith on the North Part, upon a lane called Pedlar Lane leading from Southowrome to Halifax on the west part. Upon another lane there leading from Southowrome aforesaid to Law Hill on the East parte, and upon High Street of Southowrome aforesaid on the South Part.”
So in 1705, Pinner Lane was Pedlar Lane, and Towngate was High Street and presumably, Bill Croft House was in use as a cloth producer. The names of some of these local made materials has charm, CALAMANCOE, CAMLET, GROGRAM, RUSSEL, SHALLOON AND AMENS. The last three at least were patterned.
About the middle of the 16th Century, the cloth makers of York, complaining of the competition of the West Riding clothiers, said that the men of Halifax, including Southowram, had 'fire', good and cheap. It certainly must have made the long winters more endurable to have local cheap coal than to gather firewood. But yet in Southowram, we had no strong running water to turn water wheels, so the looms were worked by hand.
In 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland and marched into England with his Highlanders, But on reaching Derby turned tail and went struggling back to Scotland. The Highlander split up, took the shortest route home and we have records of several fleeing through Halifax and district to miss being cut off by the Kings Army under General Guest who was born at Hove Edge and Major General, Sir Wm. Fawcett who was born at Shibden Hall, his mother being a Lister.
Here again, Southowram being off the main road, missed these fighting forces. After 1757 each township had to prepare lists of their men between 18 and 45 years of age and the number of men required by the Militia was selected by ballot. So we can be sure that there were village men fighting in France and on the Continent just before 1800. The vast amount of money spent on these wars was a burden on the local people. Food was very dear and trade was hampered..
The people of Southowram living around 1750 and onwards had a grim time of it. The Industrial Revolution was beginning, new inventions were appearing, the steam engine and various cloth working machines. Handloom weaving was a dead job, too slow. Halifax and Brighouse both started to enlarge by reason of mills being built and water wheels being introduced where there was a strong enough flow generally in valley bottoms.
Not isolated cases but dozens of them. Men, boys and girls had to leave the village and go and work in the town, and accept whatever wages their masters gave them. The rich became richer, and the poor were in a terrible plight. Houses were built back to back for workers, and in some cases soon became slums. Disease became rampant, But there was plenty of work, at the master's price.
Mills and more mills appeared, more houses, canals were dug and Southowram which had looked down on a solitary house at the end of a bridge below Rastrick had to take a back seat as the new town of Brighouse expanded again. A Bible prophecy came true around here, for Handels' Messiah has an aria that says "Every valley shall be exalted, and each mountain and hill brought low" which is what happened during the Industrial revolution from 1750 onwards. The places in the valley became bigger, turned into towns and the higher villages became unimportant.
Money was spent like water building industry, but the highways and roads were mere dirt tracks. When it rained in Southowram around 1800 the roads would be a sea of mud and stones, metalled or cobbled roads hadn't appeared yet. Take a look round the older houses in the village and you'll see foot scrapes outside the door. There quite a few left, and they incorporated as a necessity when the houses were built.
In the 1700s' very little of the land, comparatively speaking, was parcelled out in fields, the hills were more like the fells of the Lake District, where we can roam around as we wish without encountering a stone wall. At the end of the 1700 and beginning of the 1800C, Parliament passed an act called the Enclosure Act which affected our parish along with the rest of England.
The Lord of the Manor and the principal landowners decided to improve the wastelands, the commons and the great open fields of the township or parish. They proceeded to obtain an Enclosure Act, and after such act, received the Royal Assent, commissioners came and divided the land amongst the landowners.
In many local places which from Saxon times had been common land were divided up. The poor man lost his rights to graze his cow, sheep or pig, and the right to gather firewood where there were woods.
Some local men who had a small plot of allotted to them could not afford to fence it or enclose it nor the legal charges for the Parliamentary work and therefore had to sell their share to some richer neighbour. So consequently, all over England, the English peasant lost his hold on the land. In the South and Midlands, smaller farms were destroyed and very large ones substituted. The peasants were thrown out of work and home, they and their children flocked to Lancashire and Yorkshire to find employment in the new mills, thus competed with the local people for work. The landowners became very rich by these enclosures. Parliament represented only this type of person and the poor had few champions and they hadn't the power to oppose the act to any purpose.
The new fields of this period can be identified surrounding our village by their straight walls and mathematical planning, they are easily traced whichever way we leave Towngate. All the country around Halifax was crisscrossed with stone walls, this was round about 1810 to 1815, just when the new church was being built.
The Enclosure Act obliged many families to give up keeping a cow, and there was a serious milk famine, for what farmers kept going wouldn't trouble to sell milk retail. Oatmeal and oatcake had been the staple food and for porridge, you must have milk. The milk famine made the people into tea drinkers, white wheaten bread took the place of havercake.
The newly invented machinery was more and more taking the place of hand labour. At Walterciough, the owner, Mr Walker engaged a man called Swendell to fit up a mill for spinning in 1784 but the venture was a failure.
In 1825 disaster struck for mills worked by waterpower. There was a long drought and manufacturers adopted the steam engine for the most part. Still, more factories and houses were built and the poor were exploited out of all knowing. There are records of hard masters, one or two outstanding. Titus Knight, afterwards Minister of Square Chapel in Halifax, worked in the Shibden coal pits when he was seven years old. Dan Taylor who was born at Sour Milk Hall in Claremount became later a Baptist Preacher and tells us he worked under Beacon Hill at five years old. The sledges were all dragged from the coal face to the pit shaft by boys and girls. It was said that unless their backbones were bent when they were little, boys would never make colliers.
Boys and girls were sent into the mills when they were 5 or 6 years old and the worst period was from 1804 to 1819, when the Government was moved to make enquiries about pauper children who were, in a sense, wards of the state. At this time, Day Schools for the poor were non-existent, but for those with money, there were several local ones in Brighouse, Halifax, Hipperholme and Rastrick. On January 15, 1834, an Act came into force by which no child under 9 years could work at a mill and children under 11 years were not to work more than 48 hrs a week, Christmas day and Good Friday were to be holidays and there were to be 8 half day holidays per year. In 1847 the 10hrs Bill for Adults came into force.
The introduction of the then modem machinery threw a great many men out of work for each machine did the work of several men. Trade was bad, England was fighting Napoleon. Food was dear and some people here were starving and so the Luddites were formed, a secret society of sorts, who tried to alter conditions of desperate folks, we can be sure that there would be Southowram men active in it. The Luddites had a certain amount of success, they were eventually put down by the military and the full story of the outrages is most painful reading. Fourteen locals were hanged at York on one day and there must have been many who suffered and died in silence. This did nothing to ease the hardships of the local people. Riots followed because the price of corn rocketed sky high and Southowram men joined a demonstration in Halifax which formed in Horton Street in October 1819.
The outlook was serious for all classes because while the poorer classes were short of work and food, the richer were afraid that violence would be done to them and their property. Military units of various regiments were drafted to the area, to keep things orderly. In times things levelled out, though not as quickly as many might have wished. Then came the Chartist Riots, which were a result of only a favoured few getting the vote. The population of Halifax township was over 15,000 and besides, there were portions of Southowram and Northowram, yet the number of voters was only 536. The ordinary Southowram working man was a nobody, simply yet a peasant, a serf, glad to work for a mere pittance, - whatever the manufacturer pleased to give him. Either that or starve. These peasants or serfs of the 'Middle Ages' lived miserably in their small communities and one of their relaxations was the storyteller, who travelled round, to these illiterate serfs they must have been marvellous men. Anything they heard and said must have impressed them immensely.
When they went, (if ever), to Church, the service was in Latin, which they probably couldn't understand, but the Priest told them Bible stories in their own language. On the chancel walls were paintings too, lurid colours, with life-size characters, generally with depicting, at some stage what would be their ghastly end after Judgement Day if they didn't be good children. Remains of these drawings still exist on the walls of Halifax Parish Church, but if you go to Pickering, there they are in all their blaze of colour. The church had no seats, the congregation all stood and the floor was kept bare except for rushes, which were taken up once a year, - hence the term 'rush-bearing', our present-day Wakes Week.
If we return now to the storyteller, we can examine his tales with a little sympathy. The gist of some of them would be good against evil, right against wrong, and a smack in the eye for authority. It's quite probable there really was a person such as Robin Hood, and his men Friar Tuck, Little John, Will Scarlett, Allan-a-Dale and the others. It is very noticeable that Robin always came out tops in the end. He was their hero, fighting for them
against the better-offs. Very likely, each time the tale was told it got slightly altered until a bit of magic crept in and then more and more until these poor illiterates, who were kept in tight bonds, were ready to fight for anything that promised them a release
Thomas Mallory, who was a 15th C nobleman, wrote "Le Morte D'Arthur", a collection of stories featuring King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Although fiction, they were probably based on stories that he had heard, which, if there ever was a King Arthur happened around 500AD or earlier. It is thought that Arthur did exist in some form, but as a native leader when the Romans left around 400AD. Mallory wrote of the Knights and their ladies, Castles and the Holy Grail, damsels in distress being rescued by Knights in shining armour, but never a mention of the serfs and peasants. He probably didn't know they existed, all these people were dressed like himself and lived as he did, in a castle and behaved as he would have liked people to believe that he did. They used his speech, Middle English with a bit of Norman French thrown in.
He was fond of exclaiming such things as " GRAMMERCY" and talking of a Knight fighting a duel, "And he BRASTED him to the chin!" What a lovely word to describe it. Think of it and it might seem to be just a chap who lived in armour some of which he might have slept in. The reality was that it was probably filthy, verminous and smelly. The helmets were packed with straw to cushion any blows to the head, so his hair would be filthy and infested with heaven knows what. Soap was unknown as we know it, so what of the poor peoples' hygiene? In my guess, it would be next to nothing. Few, if any, shaved and clothing hard to come by I don't think that "cleanliness was next to Godliness".
The Lord of the Manor would feed himself and his family well, hunting wild boar and deer were his sport and source of food, but if a serf was caught, he had his hand cut off or sometimes an ear. They would also cut off their thumb so they couldn't grip an arrow on their bow.
A year or so ago there was discovered, in Bolton Castle, a sort of diary written by a woman. She lived around 1400, and from translations I've read she writes about the ordinary aspects of life from her standpoint, and she was the Kings' concubine! Actually, he'd laid siege to another castle, abducted her and carried her off to his own. All by connivance, She did the arranging and the fondness was mutual. She writes how she slept, in the nude, with animal skins as a covering. In winter the slits in the walls that served as windows were covered by skins to keep the wind-down. A fire was lit, usually in the middle of the, with a hole in the roof for the smoke to escape.
A GARDEROBE was a feature in many castles and served two purposes, one of which was as an early type of wardrobe for the storage of clothes, ammonia was sprinkled in to keep down the fleas, and also as a toilet. The garderobe was in an alcove which abutted the outside wall of the castle and which featured a hole in the bottom through which all waste was deposited into the cesspit below. The peasants probably used a hole in the ground or just went where they could.
This may give you a rough idea of the period from 1300 - 1500 but we've no relics in Southowram to prove or disprove anything, except place names.
In each case the Lord, sometimes a knight, as in the case of the Elland Lords, were the stewards of the Earl. Just after the Battle of Hastings, when the country was shared out, the Earl of Warren; having so, much- land, had several stewards who answered to him for their administrations. The early Lords of the Manor were little autocrats, in most case foreigners, retainer of the great Earl, who were promoted, sometimes much ahead of their former state. They had power of life and death over their serfs and squeezed them for taxes and work. A serf who possessed a daughter who married had to pay tax but not his son. if he took extra land he was taxed and a tenth or tithe. of his work results went to the Lord. If the serf grew corn, a tenth went to his master and the rest had to be ground at the Lord's mill which had to be paid for.
There was a corn grinding mill at Brookfoot in the days just after the Conquest.
Naturally, some of the serfs did better than others, more prosperous and bought their freedom, such as it was, were then called Yeomen but still had to pay tithes but were allowed to settle their debts of work actual and personal appearances by paying money which, no doubt suited both parties. When the Lord went to war, the able-bodied serf went with him, the Yeoman could find a substitute, pay him and again both parties were satisfied.
Under the Lord of the Manor came the Grieve, who was in charge of a district, (some people bear the name Greave or Greaves today), under the Greeve came the headman of the village. The Greave for Southowram lived at Hipperholme. It was only the Yeoman and ranks above who were allowed to go, to Court, -.the serf was simply a slave to be made use of by the Lord.
Southowram's first Norman Lord of the Manor was Ilbert de Lacy, who lived at Cromwell Bottom and the de Lacy family figure quite a lot in manuscripts dating from that period onwards. By the time of James 1, the manor was rented and sold to various people but by this time the serfs were not bound to their Lord. During 2 years of Charles 1 we had Thos Whitley of Cinderhills (Siddal), who let it to Timothy Thorp for 99 years in 1657, then became a joint venture between the same Timothy Thorpe and John Thorpe. Then on June 7th 1711, it was sold to William Horton of Barkisland. In 1741, Robert Allenson a merchant of Soyland bought it. There was a dispute about the time of Thos. Whitley and things were happening which today seem awkward. There was a joint Lord called Robert Lawe, 1654, who had a brother Toby Law. Deaths occurred and Toby Law, while the court decided became Lord and he built Law House and probably gave Law Lane its name. When Toby Law died, his widow married Jonathan Maud of Halifax, a doctor, when he died, the manor was sold to William Greame. It was bought and sold several times after this and in 1830 Christopher Rawson of Hope Hall in Halifax was Lord and.he commissioned a Dr Alexander to compile a 'History of Southowram' for him. I do not know the whereabouts of this at all but I did hear it's in manuscript.
Details of Southowram, apart from Court Rolls are sparse. Place names give us an idea of what the village was like but we've had nothing official to put us in the limelight. This is probably due to Southowram being off the main road. Perched high above the Calder Valley and the main road to Wakefield up the side of Beacon Hill and on to Hipperholme, we've missed some exciting happenings!
During the Civil War between the Roundheads under Cromwell and the Cavaliers, Halifax and the other towns round about sided with Cromwell and so perhaps did Southowram. We do not know for certain, there must have been Owram men on somebody's side but there are no records. During the 1745 Rebellion, the Scots for Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Halifax on their way South, perhaps the Southowramites weren't even interested. It's still isolated to a degree.
When the Civil War came to an end, with a victory for Cromwell and his Puritans, Southowram must have suffered much the same as the rest of England. The country became a hot-bed of spies and snoopers. At Claremount the Sunderlands of High Sunderland having fought for King Charles, were fined heavily and part of their estate forfeited to the Government. Cromwell sent his informers the length and breadth of England to see that the Puritan beliefs were kept. For non-attendance at church there was faming. Cooking a meal on the Sabbath was a punishable offence. No statues or effigies were allowed in churches and frivolity was frowned upon, also no burdens could be carried. A man and woman might marry, simply by having it announced at the village centre three times but after the wedding ceremony, no fun and games were allowed. Perhaps the worst things that happened were the witch hunts. Certain people travelled from town to town or district to spy out witches. Possibly, in most cases, the victim was a harmless old woman, skilled in the use of herbs, whom people came to when sick or out of sorts. They were taken by the witch hunters and a favourite method of judgement was to throw them into a pond or deep water, if they sank they were innocent and if they floated they were guilty of witchcraft. Trial by ordeal was the procedure. Some had red hot iron applied to them and a very small percentage were freed. Many were burnt to death as their punishment and the whole village were compelled, by law, to watch. Lancashire, especially for some reason or other, really produced scores of, so called, witches. They have had their histories documented and records in existence today tell us of unbelievable acts of punishments.. There were male witches too. The whole country was 'spy-ridden' and the people must have been afraid to talk openly to one another. Church bells were silenced and people could only meet in groups outside to speak to each other, providing their number did not exceed three. This did not apply to church congregations or public announcements by the village or town crier. This lasted for 11 years until Charles 11 came to the throne in 1660.
I can imagine the Owramites going mad when the ban was lifted. Yet again, we have no local information that we had witches yet, it COULD have been so.
Through the 1800's Southowram pushed its way and nothing startling took place. The school at Withinfield was built in 1877 and later water was laid on in pipes. Gas came too and eventually electricity and the first Calder buses running and then the Corporation ones.