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Was changed into a coil of stone,
When holy Hilda prayed ;
Marmion, Canto II.
Hilda was succeeded in the government of Streoneshalh Abbey, by her royal pupil Ældleda, then 26 years of age. Whatever might be wanting to this young abbess, in years and experience, was amply compensated by the assistance of her mother, the Queen Eanfleda ; who, after the death of her husband, King (wsy, retired to this monastery, to spend the remainder of her days with her favourite child, in the practice of piety and virtue.
The death of Ældeda took place in 713, when she was 59 years of age. We have no account of the close of her life, but are informed that she was interred in St. Peter's Church, beside the remains of her royal parents and her venerable predecessor.
The records of the Abbey, from the death of Ælfeda to the irruption of the Danes, are irrecoverably lost. It is, however, a mournful fact of history, that in the year 867 the holy edifice was completely destroyed by those northern invaders, and that it lay desolate to the time to which we have referred, when its revival was accomplished by the monks from Eversham. Of those pious Christians, one, named Reinfrid, had been formerly a soldier of the Conquest, and, as such, had been known to William de Percy, Lord of Whitby, who granted to him and his fraternity the site of the ancient Abbey, with two carucates of land in Presteby for their support.
The ruins of the abbey still bore the marks of its former greatness ; for, according to an ancient record, “there were then in that town, as some old inhabitants have told us, about forty cells, or oratories, of which nothing was left but bare walls and empty altars." Among these ruins, Reinfrid and his associates took up their abode ; and, while they formed habitations for themselves, they probably, as at Jarrow, repaired some part of the church, or some one of the numerous oratories or porches that surrounded it, to serve as a place of worship. The piety of Reinfrid and his brethren, soon attracted several respectable persons to their society, and the new convent begun to prosper.
Not long after, the humble "Reinfrid, perceiving the superior abilities and learning of one of the community, Stephen of Whitby, yielded place to that famous churchman, who, not content with the title of Prior, borne by his , predecessor, assumed the higher designation of Abbot, and, aspiring at greater things, aimed at nothing less than the restoration of the Abbey to its pristine giory. These ambitious efforts roused the jealousy of the lord paramount, William de Percy, and the quarrels which ensued, as well as the attacks of pirates from the sea, forced the community to retire for a time to Lestingham. At length, all disputes adjusted, the community were aguin collected at Whitby, in increased power and splendour, and thenceforward they enjoyed their ample pos. sessions undisturbed and respected, until the dissolution of the monas. teries, temp. Henry VIII., when Whitby Abbey was surrendered to the Crown, and the site and manor leased for 21 years to Sir Richard Cholmley.
Thus ended the religious tenancy of these ancient lands; but, before entering on the history of the lay proprietors, we must give some account of one of the peculiar feudal services which the monks required of their homagers, called “ the making up of the horngarth.” This curious custom derived its name, in all probability, from the assembling of the tenants at a specified time each year in some garth, or inclosure fenced with wood, and from the circumstance of their being called together by the blowing of a horn. Its origin is involved in obscurity, if we discard as fabulous the following romantic legend, invented by some imaginative monk:
« In the fifth year of the reign of King Henry the Second, after the conquest of England, by William, Duke of Normandy, the Lord of Ugglebarnby, then called William de Bruce, the Lord of Sneaton, called Ralph de Piercie, with a gentleman and freeholder of Fylingdales, called Allatson, did, in the month of October, the 16th day of the same month, appoint to meet and hunt the wild boar, in a certain wood, or desert, called Eskdale-Side. The wood, or place, did belong to the abbot of the monastery of Whitby, who was called Sedman. Then the foresaid gentlemen did meet, with their boar-staves and hounds, in the place aforenamed, and there found a great wild boar, and the hounds did run him very well, near about the chapel and hermitage of Eskdale-Side, where there was a monk of Whitby, who was an Hermit. The boar being sore wounded, and hotly pursued, and dead run, took in at the chapel door, and there laid him down, and presently died. The hermit shut the hounds forth of the chapel, and kept himself within, at his meditations and prayers, the hounds standing at bay, without. The gentlemen in the thick of the wood, put behind their game, following the cry of their hounds, came to the hermitage, and found the hounds round about the chapel. Then came the gentlemen to the door of the chapel, and called the hermit, who did open the door, and come forth, and, within, lay the boar, dead; for the which, the gentlemen, in a fury, because their hounds were put from their game, did, most violently and cruelly, run at the hermit with their boar-staves, whereof he died. Then the gentlemen, knowing and perceiving he was in peril of death, took sanctuary at Scarborough ; but, at that time, the abbot, in great favour with the king, did remove them out of the sanctuary, whereby they came in danger of the law, and could not be privileged, but like to have the severity of the law, which was death for death. But the hermit, being a holy man, and being very sick, and at the point of death, sent for the abbot, and desired him to send for the gentlemen who had wounded him to death. The abbot so doing, the gentlemen came, and the hermit being sore sick, said, I am sure to die of tbese wounds. The abbot answered, they shall die for thee. But the hermit said, not so, for I freely forgive them my death, if they ve content to be enjoyned to this penance, for the safeguard of their souls. The gentlemen being there present, and terrified with the fear of death, bid him enjoyn what he would, so he saved their lives. Then said the hermit, 'You and yours shall hold your lands of the abbot of Whitby, and his successors, in this manner: that, upon Ascension-eve, you, or some for you, shall come to the wood of the Stray-head, which is in Eskdale-side, the same day, at sun-rising, and there shall the officer of the abbot blow his horn, to the intent that you may know how to find him, and he shall deliver unto you, William de Bruce, ten stakes, teu stout stowers, and ten yedders, to be cut by you, or those that come for vou, with a knife of a penny price ; and you, Ralph de Piercie, shall take one and twenty of such sort, to be cut in the same manner; and you, Allotson, shall take nine of each sort, to be cut as aforesaid ; and to be taken on your backs, and carried to the town of Whitby, and so to be there before nine of the clock of the same day aforementioned. And at the hour of nine of the clock (if it be full sea, to cause that service), as long as it is low water, at nine of the clock, the same hour each of you shall set your stakes at the brim of the water, each stake a yard from another, and so yedder them, as with your yedders, and so stake on each side with your stout-stowers, that they stand three tides without removing by the force of the water. Each of you shall make them in several places at the hour aforenamed (except it be full sea at that hour, which, when it shall happen to pass, that service shall cease), and you shall do this service in remembrance that you did [most cruelly] slay me. And that you may the better call to God for repentance, and find mercy, and do good works, the officer of Eskdale-side shall blow his horn, Out on you, out on you, out on you, for the heinous crime of you. And if you and your successors do refuse this service, so long as it shall not be full sea, at that hour aforesaid, you, and yours, shall forfeit all your lands to the abbot [of Whitby], or his successors. Thus I do entreat the abbot, that you may have your lives and goods for this service, and you to promise by your parts in Heaven, that it shall be done by you and your successors, as it is aforesaid.' And the abbot said, I grant all that you have said, and will confirm it by the faith of an honest man. Then the hermit said, “My soul longeth for the Lord, and I do as freely forgive these gentlemen my death, as Christ forgave the thief upon the cross: and in the presence of the abbot and the rest, he said, “In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum: [a vinculis enim mortis] redemisti me, Domine veritatis.-Amen.'”.
And so he yielded up the ghost, the 18th day of December, upon whose soul God have mercy.—Amen. Anno Domini 1160. (1159.]
This grotesque story is so amusing, that we would be tempted to side with Grose, and assert its authenticity, but unluckily the proofs of its truth are so feeble, that we are forced to discard it as a fiction. Its romance caught the fancy of Scott, and he has thus versified it in Marmion :
“ Then Whitby's nuns exulting told,
Must menial service do ;
Saint Hilda's priest ye slew.'
Must Herbert, Bruce, and Percy hear.” Sir Richard Cholmley, who obtained the 21 years' lease of the dissolved monastery's lands became subsequently possessed in fee of the estate, by purchasing the grant from Sir Edward Yorke, who had bought it of John Earl of Warwick, the grantee from the Crown. Sir Richard was a distinguished soldier, and fought with great gallantry in Scotland. He loved pomp, and generally had fifty or sixty servants about his house; nor would he ever go up to London without a retinue of thirty or forty men. His hair and eyes were black, and his complexion so swarthy, that he was usually styled “ The Black Knight of the North.” To his son and successor, Sir Francis Cholmley, the mansion of Whitby Hall owes its erection.
It bears the marks of having been partly built out of the ruins of the monastery ; and probably stands on or near the site of the abbot's hall. The celebrated Sir Hugh Cholmley greatly enlargad and improved the structure, about the year 1635; and the eastern part of it was probably added by him. During the civil wars, Sir Hugh fortified the house, and had a
garrison to defend it, as appears by the following passage in Vicars' Parliamentary Chronicle for February, 1643-4, p. 160: « The most noble and ever-to-be-honoured and renouned Lord Fairfax-about this time enlarged his quarters from Hull 20 miles towards Durham, and by a party of horse, commanded by that valiant, victorious, and religious commander, Sir William Constable, drave that rotten apostate, Sir Hugh Chomley, out of Scarborough towne into the castle, which caused such an operation in the hearts of the inhabitants of Whitby, as that they were soone and surely reduced and settled (as you already heard in part they were) to the Parliament's side, and, presently after, seized on Sir Hugh's great house and fort on the High-Clift, disarmed his garrison, and so kept it for Lord Fairfax, who, afterwards, sent 200 horse, the better to secure
The last Sir Hugh Cholmley, about the year 1672, built the north side of the hall, forming a handsome and extensive front; the whole structure now assuming the form of a square, with an open area within. The Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale, the Earls of Athol and Kinghorn, and others of the nobility, were entertained by Sir Hugh, in his improved mansion. When the Wentworth estates fell to the Cholmley family, in 1743, Howsham became the chief residence of the family, and Whitby Hall began to be deserted. About fifty years ago, the wind having injured the roof of the north front, the whole of that side, which was the principal part of the house, was dismantled, only the walls being left standing.
The present representative of the family, and the Lord of Whitby, is George Cholmley, Esq.
NOTES RESPECTING THE LIFE AND FAMILY OF
JOHN DYER, THE POET.
By W. HYLTON LONGSTAFFE.
No. IV. 1740–1750.
The « Ruins of Rome," a poem possessing fine passages, and language the most exalted, appeared in 1740. The poet's hatred of Popery here also appears. Speaking of the old Roman gods, he calls them
Terrifick, monstrous shapes ! prepost'rous gods,
And adds in a note, “ Several statues of the Pagan gods have been converted into images of saints," which is likely enough. Dyer saw these things with his own eyes. The MS. of this poem is a small octavo, very fairly written, containing many and various readings, but none are of any peculiar interest. Part of the above passage at first read
Blindly they worship under varied names,
And the alterations have the words, “ Vile mediation,” “ bestial types," showing how warm he was on this subject. And now his declining health, and his natural love of privacy and quiet study, determined him to enter the church; so he took orders, and was in 1741 presented by Mr. Harper to Calthorp or Catthorp, in Leicestershire. He had by this time also married. His wife's maiden name was, as before mentioned, Sarah Ensor, married first to a Mr. Hawkins. Dyer was residing at Nuneaton, near Coventry, according to a MS. pedigree of the Pauls of Wilnecote, when this event took place. “My wife's name,” says, he in a letter to Mr. Duncombe, “was Ensor, whose grandmother was a Shakespear, descended from a brother of everybody's Shakespear.” Of this Shakespear descent I am sorry I know nothing, nor have I seen any remarks on it. The following table will shew Mrs. Dyer's immediate