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in the plot for the assassination of King William 11., for which he was beheaded on Tower-hill, Jan. 28, 1696. All his hopes of court favour being extinguished, disappointment and revenge were likely enough to make him adopt any measures to retrieve his broken fortunes. Be this as it may, the estate passed by sale to Sir William Blackett, who rebuilt the mansion at the end of the seventeenth century. From this family Wallington passed to the Trevelyans, in whose hands the place has lost none of its former interest. There is a museum in the mansion, where is preserved a portrait of Joyce, the widow of Henry Calverley, the only survivor of the Yorkshire tragedy: 'My brat at nurse, my beggar boy. In this portrait the spiteful old dame is represented with a scroll in her right hand, whereon these lines are inscribed :
•Silence, Walter Calverley;
This Walter was her son; and, whatever may have been his faults, he showed a gentle spirit in not committing this legacy to the flames.
To the family of Calverley a very tragical story attaches. Walter Calverley having married Philippa Brooke, the daughter of Lord Cobham, became, soon after this marriage, jealous of the then Vavasour of Weston. In a moment of ungovernable fury, arising from suspicion of his wife's infidelity, he killed his two eldest sons, and then with his dagger attempted to stab the lady herself. Luckily,
however, she wore a steel stomacher, according to the fashion of the day, and the weapon glancing aside, only inflicted a slight wound. Meanwhile the terrified nurse had caught up the youngest son, and fled with him to a square building about half a mile from the village, said to have been a banqueting-hall of the family. It was situated in a large oak wood, that forms a striking feature in the property.
After the murder Calverley mounted his horse and endeavoured to escape ; but about ten miles from his dwelling the animal stumbled upon a smooth turf, throwing the rider. This accident enabled the pursuers to overtake the fugitive, when they immediately seized and brought him before Sir John Bland of Kippax, who committed him to York Castle.
It was now that by some means—we are not told howhe became convinced of his wife's innocence and the legitimacy of his children. This change of feeling determined him to atone for the past by saving his estate for his family by an obstinate refusal to plead : otherwise, in the case of conviction, of which there could be little doubt, all his property would escheat to the Crown. He was then condemned to be pressed until he yielded or died, according to the old law. While he was under this horrible torture, a faithful servant--and it is saying much for the culprit that he had a servant so attached—requested permission to see his master. His prayer was granted, when Calverley, in the agonies of his torture, begged the poor fellow to sit upon his breast, and thus at once put an end to his suffering.
The man complied, and was tried at York, and condemned to death for murder, a sentence which was actually carried into effect. The victims in this tragedy, the two children, are simply entered in the parish register as having died, without any particulars as to the cause of their death.
The younger son of Calverley, who, as we have seen, had the good fortune to escape, obtained a baronetage, and continued the family; but the last baronet of that name, having inherited large property in Northumberland from the Blacketts, sold both his old possessions of Calverley and his acquired property of Edshall, where he had always lived till he finally left the country. The family in the direct male line is now extinct. The Vavasours of Weston are also extinct, the last of them having died thirty-six years ago, when Weston passed to a son of his sister. In utter opposition to the pride of most landed proprietors so situated, he forbade his elected heir to take the name of Vavasour, declaring that he would be the last Vavasour of Weston, which estate, he maintained, had been in his family since the time of Henry II.
The tradition above related is the basis of the drama called The Yorkshire Tragedy. In our day it has been adopted by Ainsworth in his romance of Rookwood, who has marred its interest by transferring the date of action from its proper era to the prosaic times of George II., for no other reason, as it would seem, than to introduce the highwayman Turpin. “I remember,' says the venerable
informant who communicated this tradition to Sir Bernard Burke, detailing it, with its appended superstitions, to the late Mr. Surtees, our Durham antiquary, expecting him to deliver it to Sir Walter Scott, who, I felt sure,
would manufacture it into a clever romance, by keeping it to the true time—the beginning of the reign of James 1. He promised to do so, but ere long both he and Sir Walter Scott were called away.' The 'appended superstitions' are as follow : It was currently reported that Mr. Calverley and his men galloped about through the extensive woods at dead of night on headless horses, their cry being, “A pund of more weight-lig on, lig on!" So ran my native vernacular. As you are perhaps a Southron, I give you the English : “A pound of more weight-lay on, lay on !" Their favourite haunt was said to be the Cave, a romantic natural cavern in the midst of the wood. Sometimes the ghosts of the two murdered children were thought to appear,-a remarkable instance of which occurred to my father's old clerk in his younger days, though he admitted that he had sat up drinking and carding to "the Sabbathday morning.' It was said that at one time master and men were wont to ride their infernal horses into the very village, to the great terror of all quiet people. However, a skilful exorcist prohibited them from passing the church so long as hollies grew green in Calverley wood; and there was in my time no lack of hollies in the wood.'
A good deal of the superstition was in existence some twenty years ago, of which here is an instance: 'In going
his rounds, a Methodist preacher was hospitably received by a clothier who lived in the old hall. Whether to account for the fact by the goodness of the cheer, we pretend not to say ; but, as the detail ran, the old haunted hall was close to the church, and the window of the room where the gentleman slept looked very awfully into the churchyard. In the dead of the night he felt his bed repeatedly raised from the floor, and then let down again. Whereupon he called up his host; but the bed-mover was provokingly invisible, and nothing could the two worthies find.
Now, to a native, the amusing part of the story is its topography. The old hall is about a quarter of a mile from the church, with the whole village intervening ; so that if the good man saw into the churchyard from his window, he must have rivalled Lynceus by looking through a dozen good stone walls; for all the houses are built of stone.'