There you’ll see the gallants fighting for the crown:
All the cull cuckolds in Sunderland town,
With all the bonny blue caps, cannot pull them down.
* These are fragments of reformation stanzas: many of the emancipated ecclesiastics married. The Bacons of Durham and Northumberland are said to descend from a Monk of Wetherall cell.
† Be it remembered that Martin Luther married a Nun.
This is a genuine fragment of a ballad relating to Newcastle, beseiged by Lesley and the Scots army. The blue caps (or Scotchmen), did, however, at last succeed in pulling them down, after a most gallant defence, 19th October, 1644.
BARNARD CASTLE BRIDGE.
My blessing on your pate,
Your groats in my purse
You are never the better,
I am never the worse.
Alexander Hilton, curate of Denton, of the ancient family of Hilton, of Dyons, in the Bishopric, left a son, Cuthbert, of great notoriety, who having taken orders in no church, but having been trained up as a bible clerk under his father, considered himself fully competent to perform marriages upon the bridge of Barnard Castle, which connects the counties of York and Durham.
The old rhyme, which he used on these occasions (and quoted above) after having made the parties leap over a broom stick, is still remembered in the neighbourhood.
The Bishopric does not abound in Tragedies. The Barnard Castle Tragedy is a ballad of fifteen dull verses; it is given in Ritson’s Garland, and is directed to be sung to the tune of “Constant Anthony.” A tune not very appropriately chosen to set
* The author of that curious production, Drunken Barnaby, is now fully [ascertained] to be Richard Brathwaite, of Burnishead, in Westmoreland, Esq., author of various other works, not anonymous. He is here at least relating a piece of his own history, for he was married at Hurworth, May 4th, 1617, to Frances, daughter of James Lawson, of Nesham Abbey, Esq., by Jane, daughter of Sir John Conyers. He out-lived his wife, and wrote her epitaph.
“Near Darlington was my dear darling borne,
Be no more drunk, nor dry in a morning.
forth the inconstancy of John Atkinson. The preface is the only part worth preserving, “shewing how one John Atkinson, of Murton, near Appleby, servant to Thomas Howson, miller, at Barnard Castle bridge-end, courted the said Howson’s sister; and after he had gained her entire affection by hid weedling solicitations, left her disconsolate, and made courtship to another, whom he married by the treacherous advice of one Thomas Skelton, who, to save the priest’s fees, &c., performed the ceremony himself; and upon her hearing the news, broke her heart, and bled to death on the spot. This being both true and tragical, ‘tis hop’d ‘twill be a warning to all lovers.”
False hearted lovers all, let this a warning be,
For it may be called, Betty Howson’s tragedy.
Hartlepool has another tragedy in a similar strain, and equally destitute of poetical merit. The sufferer was Mary Farding, who perished at the “Maiden bower.”