Page images

changed to Pontefract by the Romans. The place was called Kirkby in the time of the Saxons, and it is not improbable that it was one of the first places in England at which a church was erected and Christianity preached. William the Conqueror is said to have called the name of the town Pomfrete, from some fancied resemblance to a place so called in Normandy, where he was born. For 600 years, the castle was the ornament and terror of the surrounding country. At the present day, little even of its ruins remains. The area is now chiefly occupied by gardens, and a quarry of filtering stones, which are in great request in all parts of the kingdom.

Pontefract must be numbered in our recollections of childhood; since here were grown whole fields of liquorice root, from the extract of which were made Pontefract cakes, impressed with the town arms—three lions passant gardant, surmounted with a helmet, full-forward, open-faced, and garde-visure. We have likewise seen these cakes impressed with the celebrated castle, and the motto, Post mortem patris, pro filio' (after the death of the father, for the son)bespeaking the loyalty of the Pontefract royalists in proclaiming Charles 11. after the death of his father.

[graphic][merged small]

HE Radcliffes of Derwentwater were one of the

oldest families in Cumberland. In that county,

through the mountains called Derwent Falls, the river Derwent spreads itself into a spacious lake, wherein are three islands: one was the seat of the family of Radcliffe, knight, temp. Henry V., who married Margaret, daughter of Sir John de Derwentwater, knight ; another island was inhabited by miners; and the third is supposed to be that wherein Bede mentions St. Herbert to have led a hermit's life. James, the Earl of Derwentwater, who died the victim of his stedfast though misguided loyalty in 1716, was greatly lamented. He was a perfect cavalier, and a fine exemplar of an English nobleman; he was amiable, brave, open, generous, hospitable, and humane. He gave bread to multitudes of people whom he employed on his estate : the poor, the widow, the orphan, rejoiced in his bounty. He was only twenty-eight years of age when he was brought to the scaffold; and he left a young and beautiful widow, Anne Maria, the daughter of Sir John Webb, baronet, and two infant children, to lament his death, and

suffer by his attainder. That exquisitely touching ballad, 'Farewell to Lochaber,' is said to have been written by the Earl, and addressed to his wife on the eve of his departure for the miserable venture wherein he forfeited life, lands, and nobility.

The end of the ill-starred Charles Radcliffe, titular Earl of Derwentwater, was summary. After his conviction for treason in 1716, he received several reprieves from time to time on account of his youth ; and the Government wishing to shed no more of the blood of his house, he would have been pardoned ; but he and thirteen others made their escape from Newgate, uith December 1716, and thus placed themselves beyond the benefit of the general Act of Grace, which was passed about that time.

Radcliffe, on reaching the Continent, went to Rome, and obtained a small pension from the Chevalier. He then settled in Paris, and there married Lady Newburgh. He twice during his exile came to London ; and though his presence was known to the Government, his visits passed unmolested. The rising of 1745 brought him again into action. He sailed from Calais in the November of that year on board a French man-of-war, with his son and other officers, and a quantity of ammunition of war. The vessel, no doubt bound for Scotland in aid of the insurgents (though there was no legal proof given of the fact), was seized in the open sea by the Sheerness man-of-war, and brought to Deal. Radcliffe and his son were committed to the Tower. The son being deemed a foreigner, was

exchanged on the first cartel; but Radcliffe himself was confined until the rebellion was over, when, in Michaelmas term 1746, he was brought to the bar of the Court of King's Bench, to have execution awarded against him on his former sentence. He pleaded that he was not the same person as the party convicted, and prayed time to bring witnesses; but as he would not deny, in his affidavit relative to the absence of witnesses, that he was the attainted Charles Radcliffe, the court proceeded, and decided against his plea. He then wished to plead the general pardon of 1716; but the court (one judge, Sir Michael Forster, dissenting) would hear no further plea, and the prisoner was ordered for execution. Though then legally no nobleman, regard was so far paid to the rank and station of his family, that he did not undergo the then ordinary punishment for treason ; but, like his brother the Earl of Derwentwater, he was decapitated on Tower Hill. He died, as he had lived, one of the most devoted and unbending adherents of the house of Stuart, and behaved at his execution with dignified calmness and courage.

Charles Radcliffe was the mainspring of the support his house gave to the Chevalier : he and his brother, besides their lives, lost in the cause £300,000 in real value. (Notes to Burke's Peerage, 1865.)

Walpole writes to Sir Horace Mann, November 29, 1745: A small ship has taken the Soleil, privateer from Dunkirk, going to Montrose, with twenty French officers, sixty others, and the brother of the beheaded Lord Derwentwater, and his son, who at first was believed to be the second boy.


News came yesterday of a second privateer, taken with arms and money; of another lost on the Dutch coast, and of Vernon being in pursuit of two more. All this must be a great damp to the party, who are coming on fast, fast to their destruction. Last night they were to be at Preston. The country is so far from rising for them, that the towns are left desolate on their approach, and the people hide and bury their effects, even to their pewter. Warrington bridge is broken down, which will turn them some miles aside.'

In another letter, dated December 9, Walpole describes the advance of the rebels to Derby, where they got £ 19,000, plundered the town, and burnt a house of the Countess of Exeter. Though they marched thus into the heart of the kingdom, there was not the least symptom of a rising. In London the aversion to them was amazing. . But the greatest demonstration of loyalty appeared on the prisoners being brought to town from the Soleil prize. The young man is certainly Mr. Radcliffe's son ; but the mob, persuaded of his being the youngest Pretender, could scarcely be restrained from tearing him to pieces all the way on the road, and at his arrival. He said he had heard of English mobs, but could not conceive they had been so dreadful, and wished he had been shot at the battle of Dettingen, where he had been engaged. The father, whom they call Lord Derwentwater, said, on entering the Tower, that he never expected to arrive there alive.

For the young man, he must only be treated as a French captive ; for the father, it is sufficient to produce him at the Old Bailey, and prove

« PreviousContinue »