The Cauld Lad of Hylton

Hylton Castle has long had the reputation of being haunted by a bar-guest or local spirit, of the same genus as used formerly to haunt almost every old feudal residence in the kingdom. The goblin was seldom seen, but was heard nightly by the servants, who got so accustomed to him that they were not the least frightened. If the kitchen had been left in perfect order on their retiring to rest, they would hear him amusing himself by hurling the pewter about in all directions, and throwing everything into confusion. But if, on the contrary, the apartment had been left in disarray (a practice which the maids found it both prudent and convenient to adopt), the indefatigable goblin set about arranging everything with the greatest precision, so that what was “confusion worse confounded” the night before, was in “apple-pie order” on the following morning. But though the Cau’d Lad’s pranks seem to have been at all times perfectly harmless, they at length became wearisome to the servants, who determined to banish him from the castle by the usual means employed in such cases, that is, not by priestly exorcism, but by leaving, for his express use, some article of clothing, or some toothsome delicacy to tempt his palate. The Cau’d Lad somehow got an inkling of their intentions, and was frequently heard to recite, in the dead of the night, in fancied security, the following consolatory stanzas:

Wae’s me, wae’s me,
The acorn is not yet
Fallen from the tree
That’s to grow the wood
That’s to make the cradle
That’s to rock the bairn
That’s to grow a man
That’s to lay me.

However, the goblin reckoned without his host; for the usual means of banishment were provided, viz., a green cloak and a hood, which were laid before the kitchen fire. At the dead hour of midnight the sprite glided gently in, stood by the smouldering embers, and surveyed the garments provided for him very attentively, then tried them on, and appeared delighted with their graceful cut, frisking about the room, and cutting sundry somersaults and gambadoes; until at length, on hearing the first crow of the cock, twitching his green mantle tightly round him, he disappeared with the appropriate valediction of

Here’s a cloak and here’s a hood,

The Cau’d Lad o’ Hilton will do no more good!

But long after this, although he never returned to disarrange the pewter or set the house in order, yet his voice was often heard at midnight singing a melancholy melody:

Here’s a cloak and here’s a hood,

The Cau’d Lad o’ Hylton will do no more good!

The genuine brownie is supposed to be an unembodied spirit, that has never borne the human form; but the Cau’d Lad has, through the common process of myth-development, been identified with the apparition of an unfortunate domestic who was slain by one of the barons of Hylton in a moment of passion or intemperance. This baron, having ordered his horse to be ready on a particular occasion, and it not being brought out in time to soothe his ruffled impatience, proceeded to the stable, where he found the boy fast asleep and the horse unsaddled. Seizing a hay-fork, he struck the lad a blow which proved mortal. Horrified at what he had done, he Covered the body with straw till night, and then threw it into a pond, where, many years afterwards, in the last baron’s time, the skeleton of a boy was discovered, which was held to be a confirmation of the tale. This pond was afterwards drained, and a cottage was built on the site.

Perhaps this story, which was communicated to Robert Surtees, the compiler of the “History of Durham,” by Mr. J. B. Taylor, may have had its origin in the fact recorded of a coroner’s inquest having been held, on the 3rd July, 1609, on the body of Roger Skelton, who was killed with the point of a scythe, accidentally, by Robert Hylton, of Hylton, for which that gentleman obtained a free pardon on the 6th of September following.

The ballad of “The Cau’d Lad o’ Hylton” a quite modern production tells how the murdered lad, Roger Skelton, used to pace o’nights round the castle hall, with his head literally in his hand, singing, “soft and low,” notwithstanding the severance of the larynx from the lungs, the following prophetic words of dread:

Hylton’s line dishonoured falls;
Lay with the dust proud Hylton’s walls.
Murder blots the household sword;
Strip the lands from Hylton’s lord, etc., etc.

If we are to believe Surtees’s informant, however, the Cau’d Lad held full possession of the house several years after the death of the last Baron Hylton, and was not finally exorcised until the beginning of this century by the hospitality of the late Mr. Simon Temple, a wealthy coalowner, from whom Templetown, at the high end of South Shields, takes its name, who for some years occupied the castle, which, but for his interposition, would have been demolished, it having been condemned to be taken down for the sake of the materials.

If the ballad – writer speaks truth, the Cau’d Lad did not confine his pranks wholly to the castle. He tells us in a note that the goblin sometimes took a fancy to row people across the Wear at night, in the ferry boat stationed near. He would take them over half way, and then of a sudden disappear, leaving the passengers, though they might be women and children, to shift for themselves; then, after some time, he would make his reappearance, and after rowing them up and down the river a mile or two, would land them on the same side they started from, always making them, however, pay their fare, though what he could do with the money no man could tell. In pursuing this sort of mischievous amusement, the Cau’d Lad seems to have displayed rather the characteristics of the Scottish kelpie than the brownie, only that he does not seem ever to have gone the length of drowning the passengers he deceived, as the kelpie would at least have tried to do. Another freak of his was to sit astride a beer barrel in the cellar to guard the precious liquor. When John, the butler, went down to tap a cask, he often averred that he had found him there. But this latter circumstance is probably borrowed from similar tales told of the familiar spirits in various parts of Scotland and Ireland.

Another supernatural visitant is reported to have appeared in the castle shortly before the death of the last baron. When that dignitary was one night entertaining a large company, a greyhound, which nobody had previously seen, rushed into the dining-room, and, neglecting those present, fawned upon the baron, who saw round its neck a collar of gold, inscribed with magical characters, which he alone could read, and which were found to purport that his father, who had been dead twenty-five years, had sent the dog to him to announce his approaching death, and also the speedy downfall of the Hylton family, after a series of twenty descents, stretching through five centuries. The dog disappeared before morning as unaccountably as it came; but the event soon proved the truth of the dismal warning.

Hylton and the Hyltons

Hylton Castle West Front

Less than a hundred yards from the old turnpike road from Monkwearmouth to Gateshead stands Hylton Castle, for more than six centuries the home of one of the oldest, richest, most powerful, and best allied families in the county of Durham. The Hyltons had a fabulous genealogy, extending back to the times of Athelstan, and a genuine pedigree which commenced in the reign of Henry II. The origin of the family is unknown. There is, however, a legend that, whilst the Saxon lord of Hylton was far away in Eastern lands making love to a Syrian maid, his daughter, left

In her gloomy hall by the woodland wild, was wooed and won by a Danish knight, who first came to her in the disguise of a raven. Fair Edith, “in her saddest mood,” had climbed to the battlements of her ancestral home

A gentle breath comes from the vale,
A sound of life is on the gale;
And see a raven on the wing
Circling around in airy ring,
Hovering about in doubtful flight
Where, where will the carrier of Odin alight?
The raven has lit on the flagstaff high
That tops the dungeon tower,
And he has caught fair Edith’s eye,
And gently, coyly, venturing nigh,
He flutters round her bower.
For he trusted the soft and maiden grace
That shone in that sweet young Saxon face;
And now he has perched on her willow wand,
And tries to smooth his raven note,
And sleeks his glossy raven coat,
To court the maiden’s hand.
And now, caressing and caressed,
The raven is lodged in Edith’s breast.
‘Tis innocence and youth that makes
In Edith’s fancy such mistakes;
But that maiden kiss hath holy power,
O’er planet and sigillary hour!
The elvish spell hath lost its charms,
And the Danish knight is in Edith’s arms:
And Harold, at his bride’s request,
His barbarous gods foreswore
Freya, and Woden, and Balder, and Thor.
And Jarrow, with tapers burning bright,
Hailed her gallant proselyte.

The story is pretty, and may have led the last baron of Hylton to adopt the raven as his badge, and with gigantic representations in wood of Odin’s messenger to mantle the east and west doors of his mansion. In history, however, we first meet with the Hyltons in the year 1157, when Romanus, “the Knight of Heltun,” agreed with the prior and convent of St. Cuthbert, at Durham, that he and his heirs might have a priest appointed to his chapel at Hylton. The ruined chapel, a few yards north of the castle, can scarcely have any portion which is older than the present castle itself, of the date and builder whereof I shall speak presently, unless it be a few courses of masonry in the east wall of the chancel, which have certainly a Norman look about them, and may well be believed to have been raised at the will of that ancient knight, Romanus.

One William de Hylton, almost certainly the grandson of Romanus, about 1198 married one Beneta, daughter and heiress of Germanus Tison, the great-grandson of Gilbert Tison, who is described as the great standard-bearer to William the Conqueror.

William’s son and heir, Alexander, was one of a number of English nobles, who in 1241, “took leave of their friends, and, commending themselves to the prayers of religious men, set out in great pomp on their way towards Jerusalem.” From this expedition, there is every reason to believe, Alexander de Hylton never returned.

In 1264, Robert de Hylton was one of the knights of the county of Durham who were present at the battle of Lewes. He took part with the barons against the king, and with the rest of the insurgents forfeited his estates. They were all, however, permitted to redeem their confiscated property. His son, also Robert, was summoned to the Parliaments of 1295, 1296, and 1297.

The present castle was built either by William de Hylton, who died in 1435, or by his son Robert, who died in 1447. It is first mentioned in the inquisition taken after the death of the latter, and is therein spoken of as “a house, built of stone, called the yatehous.”

In the account rolls of the masters of the cell of Monkwearmouth we have frequent notices of gifts bequeathed to that church as “mortuaries” by the barons of Hylton. The mortuary banner, standard, and coat armour of Baron William Hylton, who died in 1505 or 1506, were removed a few years later from Wearmouth to grace the walls of the Cathedral of Durham. Here they remained until July, 1513, when they were lent by the prior to the then baron, another William, who, in the following October, fought in his sire’s armour, and beneath his sire’s banner, on the field of Flodden.

This latter William’s son, Sir Thomas Hylton, joined in the famed Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536. In the reign of Philip and Mary he was Governor of Tynemouth Castle. In 1558, a complaint was made against him that he had illegally detained a vessel from Flanders laden with salt, and that he was in the habit of taking such wares out of ships passing Tynemouth on their way to Newcastle as he was wishful to possess or dispose of to his own advantage.

Sir Thomas Hylton died in 1561, and was succeeded in the Hylton estates by his brother William. Sir Thomas had patronised a certain Dr. Bulleyn, an eminent physician of that day. Whilst Bulleyn was in London, Sir Thomas died, and his brother accused the doctor of having poisoned him. Bulleyn was arraigned before the Duke of Norfolk, but was honourably acquitted.

The misanthrope of the family, however, was one Henry Hylton, who died in 1641. By his will he left the whole of his paternal estate for ninety-nine years to the Lord Mayor and four senior aldermen of London, in trust, that they should pay thereout £24 per annum to each of 38 parishes, £28 a year to the Mayor of Durham, £50 a year to the Vicar of Monkwearmouth, an annuity of £100 to his brother Robert Hylton, and £50 a year to his brother John. The residue he leaves to the city of London, charging them to bind yearly five children of his own kindred to some honest trade. They were to raise £4,000 out of Hylton rents, the interest whereof was to be employed in apprenticing orphans born in the manors of Ford, Biddick, and Barmston. After 99 years, his estates and the first-mentioned £4,000 were to go to his heir-at-law, “provided he be not such a one as shall claim to be the issue of the testator’s own body.” There were legacies to his servants and to the family of Shelley of Michell Grove, in Sussex. He then appoints Lady Jane Shelley his executrix, and desires to be buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral, “under a fair tomb, like the tomb of Dr. Dunn,” to erect which he leaves £1,000. For thirty years before his death he had been separated from his wife, and a scarce tract of the period states that the charitable bequests of his will were made in order “to merit pardon for thirty years’ vicious life led with the Lady Shelley.” It is needless to say that Hylton’s paramour never raised the tomb for which his morbid vanity craved.

Thus encumbered, the estates of the Hyltons, during three generations, only enabled their owners to maintain the dignity of unostentatious country gentlemen. During this period the greatest prudence was manifested in the management of the various properties, with the result that in 1739 the estate and its possessors emerged from the difficulties under which they had struggled for a century. But the last Hylton, a bachelor, was then the owner, and he by will left the home of his ancestors and all other of his possessions, to his sister’s son, Sir Richard Musgrave, on the condition of his taking the Hylton name. The last baron died in 1746, and was buried in the chapel at Hylton. In 1750 Sir Richard Musgrave obtained an Act of Parliament enabling him to sell the estates by auction. These estates covered 5,600 acres, and the annual rental was estimated at a little over £3,000. The Hyltons, it is said, owned almost all the land which could be seen from the battlements of their own castle.

It only now remains to describe the castle and the ruined chapel. The architectural features of the former indicate that its erection took place shortly before the middle of the fifteenth century. It is described in 1447 date as “the gatehouse,” though there is evidence to show that the rest of the castle buildings stood north and south of a courtyard before its grand west front. Hylton castle is noted for its heraldry. Besides the royal arms of England as borne from the reign of Henry V. to that of Elizabeth, we have on the west front the banner of the Hyltons beneath a ledge of canopied work, and the shields of the many noble families with which the Hyltons were allied. On the east front is a fine sculptured roebuck, at one time the Hylton badge. Beneath is the Hylton shield under a helmet, over which is the later Hylton crest, a head of Moses in profile, horned with triple rays. Of the origin or meaning of this extraordinary heraldic bearing I can offer no suggestion.

The west front is surmounted by four octagonal turrets with machicolations on every side. There is a round turret at each end of the east front. The central oblong tower of the east front rises a story higher than the rest of the building, and has a floor on the level of the leads, which we may conveniently call the guard room. Each turret has independent access from the roof. The octagonal turrets are even provided for defence against an enemy who might have climed to the battlements.

Hylton Castle East Front

The portion of the chapel which remains is only the chancel of the original structure, and was probably built by Sir William Hylton, who died in 1457. Its two transepts are additions of Tudor date. Each is of two stories, though the dividing floors are gone. The upper stories were reached through doorways in the east wall, now closed with masonry. The western extremity now is the ancient chancel arch, walled up in the last baron’s days, with a doorway altogether of his time beneath, and portions of what was probably the nave’s western window clumsily utilized above. Within the walls of this now ruined and abandoned though episcopally consecrated edifice, the mortal part of many of the barons of Hylton, their wives and their children, found rest. Their retainers were consigned to the graveyard outside. The chancel vault is now broken open, and the bones of the Hyltons have been scattered, no one caring whither. A thigh bone, said to have been that of the last baron, is preserved in the castle, (now the property and residence of Colonel Briggs), and the whereabouts of some other osseous reliques is known.


The Lighting of Towns

Street Lighting

The lighting of towns in our island, by combined effort, is of modern date. Even in the metropolis it had no existence prior to the last century. So far back as the reign of the hero of Agincourt, there was, indeed, street-lighting; but in a sorry, makeshift sort of way. When Christmas was at hand, in the year 1418, as festivities would then be on foot, and wine would be in and wisdom out, an order was made that each honest person dwelling in the City should set “a lantern, with a candill therein,” before his house, in promotion of the public peace. An expedient of the like homely kind was also resorted to at Newcastle in the seventeenth century, more especially in seasons of civil commotion.

Whether systematic street-lighting was first adopted in England or on the Continent is an open question. “Of modern cities,” says Beckmann, “Paris, as far as I have been able to learn, was the first that followed the example of the ancients by lighting its streets.” Yet in 1524 it was still content with lights exhibited before the door by the citizens; but about the middle of the century there were brasiers in the thoroughfares, with blazing pitch, rosin, &c., dispelling (or at least mitigating) the murkiness of the atmosphere by night. Almost immediately afterwards, in 1558, came street lanterns; and in little more than a hundred years, an enterprising Italian abbe was in Paris, letting out lamps and torches for hire, and providing attendants. His operations were extended also to other cities; while not only was all Paris now lighted by its rulers, but even the outskirts: for nine miles of lamps extended as far as Versailles. In London, meanwhile, in the latter years of the seventeenth century, householders were admonished as of yore to hang out a light every night from Michaelmas to Lady Day. It was a device by which the gloom of the metropolis after nightfall was but imperfectly relieved. How it fared with the citizens in their benighted paths may be conceived from the pages of the poet Gay, who published his “Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets,” in the reign of Queen Anne. To all who might stumble into danger unwarily, he gave this word of caution:

Though thou art tempted by the linkmairs call,
Yet trust him not along the lonely wall;
In the mid-way he’ll quench the flaming brand,
And share the booty with the pilfering band;
Still keep the public streets, where oily rays,
Shot from the crystal lamp, o’erspread the ways.

The ineffectual fires of these crystal flickerers hardly served to make visible the increasing accumulations that addressed themselves, in almost every town of the time, to the more prominent feature of the face. “I smell you in the dark,” muttered Johnson to Boswell, passing along the High Street of Edinburgh on an autumn night of 1773; and Gay sounded his warning note in London:

Where the dim gleam the paly lantern throws
O’er the mid-pavement, heapy rubbish grows.

There were also roysterers of the night, ready for a brawl, yet respecters of persons; topers who, observant of the better part of valour,

Flushed as they are with folly, youth, and wine,
Their prudent insults to the poor confine;
Afar they mark the flambeau’s light approach,
And shun the shining train and golden coach.

So sung Johnson in his “London” in the year 1738, when Parliamentary powers had recently been obtained for the establishment of corporate lighting by night. A Bill was introduced for street-lighting in 1736; and in the ninth year of the reign of George II. the Royal Assent was given to “An Act for the Better Enlightening the Streets of the City of London.”

When the eighteenth century, whose midnights had been visited by the glare of flambeaux and the glimmer of oil-lamps, closed its course, it was casting before it the splendour of gas. A hundred years earlier, indeed, the Dean of Kildare, Dr. Clayton, had liberated ” the spirit of coal.” “Distilling coal in a retort, and confining the gas produced thereby in a bladder, he amused his friends by burning it as it issued from a pin-hole.” It afterwards became a common amusement to fill a tobacco pipe with crushed coal; thrust the bowl into the fire; and light the gas jet as it flowed from the stem. This was a toy. But William Murdock, a native of Ayrshire, put gas to work in earnest. In 1792, residing at Redruth, in Cornwall, as the representative there of Boulton and Watt, he lighted up his house and offices with “the spirit of coal,” and in the general illumination of 1802, in celebration of the Peace of Amiens, he wrapped the whole front of the famous Soho Works in a flaming flood of gas, dazzling and delighting the population of Birmingham, and publishing the new light to the world! Its success was so decided that the proprietors had their entire manufactory lighted with gas; and several other firms, in various parts of the country, followed their example.

“New lights” have ever to contend with old. However brilliant their promise, there is the shadow of incredulity, the gauntlet of ridicule. Oracular heads were shaken at gas. As well think of lighting a town with “clipped moonshine,” was their contemptuous conclusion; while the alarmists anxiously inquired, “if gas were adopted, what would become of the whale fishery?” The world, careless whether the whale should survive the change, listened to Murdock.

One of Murdock’s most enthusiastic disciples Winsor, a German introduced the light into London in 1807. Winsor applied to Parliament for a Bill, and Murdock was examined before the committee. “Do you mean to tell us,” asked one member, “that it will be possible to have a light without a wick?” “Yes, I do, indeed,” answered Murdock. “Ah, my friend,” said the legislator, “you are trying to prove too much.” It was as surprising and inconceivable to the honourable member as George Stephenson’s subsequent evidence before a Parliamentary Committee to the effect that a carriage might be drawn upon a railway at the rate of twelve miles an hour without a horse. Even Sir Humphry Davy ridiculed the idea of lighting towns with gas, and asked one of the projectors if it were intended to take the dome of St. Paul for a gasometer! The first application of the “Gas Light and Coke Company” to Parliament in 1809 for an Act proved unsuccessful; but the “London and Westminster Chartered Gas Light and Coke Company” succeeded in the following year. The company, however, did not prosper commercially, and was on the point of dissolution, when Mr. Clegg, a pupil of Murdock, bred at Soho, undertook the management, and introduced a new and improved apparatus. Mr. Clegg first lighted with gas Mr. Akerman’s shop in the Strand in 1810, and it was regarded as a great novelty. One lady of rank was so much delighted with the brilliancy of the gas-lamp fixed on the shop-counter, that she asked to be allowed to carry it home in her carriage, and offered any sum for a similar one. Mr. Winsor, by his persistent advocacy of gas-lighting, did much to bring it into further notice; but it was Mr. Clegg’s practical ability that mainly led to its general adoption. When Westminster Bridge was first lit up with gas in 1812, the lamplighters were so disgusted with it that they struck work, and Mr. Clegg had himself to act as lamplighter. (Smiles’s “Lives of Boulton and Watt.”)

One of the earliest provincial towns to adopt the new light was Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This was in 1818; of which year Smiles has a characteristic anecdote relating to Murdock. He had come to Manchester to start one of Boulton and Watt’s engines, and, with Mr. William Fairbairn (from whom the biographer had the story), was invited to dine at Medlock Bank, then at some distance from the lighted part of the city. “It was a dark winter’s night, and how to reach the house, over such bad roads, was a question not easily solved. Mr. Murdock, however, fertile in resources, went to the gas-works, where he filled a bladder which he had with him, and, placing it under his arm like a bagpipe, he discharged through the stem of an old tobacco-pipe a stream of gas, which enabled us to walk in safety to Medlock Bank.”

Before going any further, let us observe that public lighting is of considerable antiquity on the Tyne. In the month of November, 1567, a dozen years before Parliament was considering a Bill for maintaining a light on Winterton steeple, “for the more safety of such ships as pass by the coast,” the Corporation of Newcastle was paying 3s. “for 4lb. of waxe maid in candell for the lanterne of Sancte Nyciolas Churche, and for the workynge.” Such items were not uncommon. Here is another, of the month of December ensuing: “For 2lb. of waxe, wrought in candell for the lanterne in Sancte Nycholas Churche, 1s. 6d.” There were lights aloft on the church tower for the comfort and guidance of wanderers over the open country, whose feet were in anxious search of the Metropolis of the North.

In town and country men had then to grope their way by night. At a much later date than the reign of Elizabeth, how darksome were the streets of Newcastle!

There is an instructive anecdote of Lord Eldon, reviving the days when the future Lord Chancellor was on the threshold of his teens, and lighting by Act of Parliament was unknown on the Tyne. He and his schoolfellows would forgather on a winter’s night at the Head of the Side, on boyish freaks intent. It was a time when shops were unglazed, the windows open to the outer air, and the interior feebly lighted by a lamp or a “dip.” Down the Side the youngsters would start for the Sandhill; and first one, then another, would drop on his knees at a tradesman’s door, creep across the floor, lift up his lips, and blow out the flame! Hasty then was the retreat; and the merry band were off in pursuit of another victim, till all the shopkeepers in the row were reduced to dipless darkness.

The reign of George II. had to pass away before the aid of Parliament was successfully invoked for lighting the streets of Newcastle. The Common Council, which in 1717 had applied for an Act, again took up the matter; and soon after the accession of George III. powers were obtained. In the spring of 1763, Newcastle obtained an Act for lighting and watching the town, and regulating the hackney-coachmen and chairmen, the cartmen, porters, and watermen; and on Michaelmas Day the oil lamps were a glow to the best of their ability.

Whether the Act of 1763 spoiled the fun of Young Newcastle, and threw oil on the troubled waters of the tradesmen, our annalists do not say. But doubtless the schoolboys of the good old days “when George the Third was King” found abundant channels in which to gratify their love of mirth and mischief. For half a century and more the ladder of the lamplighter was in alliance with the harpoon of the whaler. But when the age of gas had arrived, the metropolis of the coalfield could not hold back, whatever came of the whale-fishery. In the dawn of the long reign of George III., Newcastle had received powers for lighting by oil; and near its close it was applying for an Act for lighting by gas. The requisite powers were granted. On the 10th of January, 1818, on which day the Savings Bank was first opened, gas-lighting also began. “In the evening,” says Sykes, “a partial lighting of the gas-lights took place in such of the shops in Newcastle as had completed their arrangements. The lamps in Mosley Street were not lighted till the 13th (Tuesday evening), when a great crowd witnessed their first lighting up, and a loud cheer was given by the boys as the flame was applied to each burner.” Collingwood Street had its illumination on the 26th; and the Old Assembly Rooms in the Groat Market, occupied by the Literary and Philosophical Society, were lighted on the 27th. Before the end of the month gas-lighting was becoming general. “This beautiful light,” says the Newcastle Chronicle, “is now introduced into most of the shops in the streets through which the pipes have been carried, and thus the thorough-fares are rendered in the evening beautifully resplendent.” The theatre was first lighted with gas on the 3rd of March.

Newcastle having led the way, other Northern towns were not slow to follow. North Shields was lighted with gas in 1820; Berwick-upon-Tweed and Stockton-upon-Tees in 1822; Durham in 1823; Sunderland in 1824; South Shields in 1826; and Darlington in 1830. Gas had passed into general favour. Instances occurred, however, in which tradesmen were admonished that if they had the “new light” in their shops they must not expect to see their old customers; and some cautious folk, providing for their safety, retired to watering-places or elsewhere ere the gas-lamps were lighted! They would have had their neighbours walk in the ancient ways, and stand by the whale.

Slowly street-lighting had moved onward in the olden time. Through long generations the householders were contributing each his candle to the public service. Twinkling stars of light strove through “the blanket of the dark,” producing an effect on which the “sickly glare” of oil was subsequently thought to be an improvement! But the rate of progress has been accelerated in modern days. Half-a-century sufficed to make an end of oil in the streets of Newcastle; and now, after less than four-score years more, gas is in controversy with the electric flame.

It was in June, 1850, that Mr. W. E. Staite, a pioneer and patentee of electric lighting, exhibited his light from the South Pier, Sunderland. Mr. Staite had been invited by the Commissioners of the River Wear to show his invention, in order that, if found suitable, it might be adopted as the permanent means of illuminating the New Dock. Great interest was manifested in the exhibition throughout the town; and towards evening thousands thronged the piers and quays, while many availed themselves of trips to sea so as to witness the effect of the light several miles from land. The apparatus was erected upon a temporary platform, raised a few feet above the lighthouse, the galvanic battery being placed in a shed below. At ten o’clock exactly the spectators on shore were gratified by the first glimpse of the light, which was shown with a parabolic reflector. It was directed towards Hartlepool, Seaham, and Ryhope, and then brought gradually northwards by the reflector being moved slowly round. The light was then sent successively upon the Docks, St. John’s Chapel, the quays, piers, and then towards Roker and Whitburn. A few nights later, between eleven and twelve o’clock, on the 25th of June, 1850, Mr. Staite exhibited the light at the Central Railway Station, Newcastle, to the directors of the company and a numerous party. The inventor had been asked to give a tender for lighting the station, which he did, but the directors did not see their way to adopt it.

Mr. Staite’s visits were naturally recalled to mind on the eve of the first lecture of our townsman. Mr. J. W. Swan, whose name is now everywhere familiar. This lecture was given before the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle early in 1879. Not a few were then present who remembered how, on the occasion of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1863, Mr. Swan threw down from the Shot Tower and St. Mary’s the flooding light of

The shining sun that mocked the glare
Of envious gas, struck pale and wan.

And the whole of the brilliant audience brought together in 1879 saw the same docile flame hermetically imprisoned, like some genius of the Arabian Nights, within walls of glass, and diffusing around it the soft lustre which the drawing-room desires.

The world is ever making new conquests, while not throwing aside the old. Society is not unthrifty. It adds to its roll of handmaids. Further arrivals do not foreshadow the departure of their forerunners. There was, as we have seen, in a former generation, an alarm for the whale fishery; and yet, the cry was so groundless. that it has given place to a fear lest the whale fishery, in the persistent and growing consumption of oil, should become extinct. Oil, indeed, is in such demand that the earth itself has been harpooned. On land as on sea oil is struck; and the mineral supply sheds its serene light over a million firesides. Oil, and gas, and candle have yet a long lease of social service to run; while the electric light has before it a career but dimly seen in our brightest dreams.

The First Mayor of Sunderland

Andrew White Esq MP

Andrew White, of Frederick Lodge, Sunderland, and Tunstall Lodge, county Durham, first and three times Mayor of Sunderland, Member of Parliament, Borough and County Justice, and a Deputy-Lieutenant for the county of Durham, was born in Sunderland in the year 1788. He was a son of John White, of Thorny Close, Durham, the most extensive shipowner in Sunderland at that time, a colliery owner, and the proprietor of the Bishopwearmouth Iron Works a gentleman of large means and philanthropic spirit, who built at his own cost the Wesleyan Schools in Hendon Road.

After receiving a sound education (he was a pupil of Rev. John Hayton), Andrew White early entered upon a business and public career. Together with his brother Richard, he was taken into partnership by his father, and the firm became John White and Sons. Endowed with more than average ability, and the happy possessor of a genial and polished manner, he was not long in making his influence felt in the good town of Sunderland. When in 1835 an agitation arose for taking advantage of the Municipal Reform Act, he was the chosen champion of the Municipal party. Although Bishop Morton had in 1634 vested the government of the town in a “Mayor, twelve Aldermen, and Commonalty” all duly elected and acknowledged by the State the charter had fallen into disuse, and a strong faction now objected to the formation of a council without a special Act of Parliament. Mr. White, however, presided at a meeting on the 16th December, 1835, and, strengthened by the opinion of the then Attorney-General, the meeting unanimously resolved to take advantage of the Act. An opposition meeting was held on the 17th, when Mr. R. Pemberton, Mr. Fenwick, and Mr. Featherstonehaugh, together with some of their friends, strongly opposed the resolution adopted at the previous meeting. Their objections were, however, overruled, and on December 26, 1835, the first election of councillors for the newly-constituted borough of Sunderland took place.

The subject of our sketch was returned at the head of the poll for two wards the Bishopwearmouth and the West Wards his brother Richard being returned for the Ward of St. Michael, also at the head of the poll.

The first meeting of the Council was held on December 31st, and at a subsequent meeting on New Year’s Day, 1836, Mr. Andrew White was chosen first Mayor, and Mr. Ritson Town Clerk. On this occasion the ladies of Sunderland presented the Mayor with an elaborate silken banner on which was emblazoned in letters of gold the statement that he was “the pride of his native borough.” This banner, at a later date, Mr. White presented to the Corporation, and it now occupies a conspicuous position in the New Municipal Buildings.

The chief magistracy, however, was not to be an enviable position, for on the first occasion that Mr. White took his seat at the head of the Bench he was hustled, and a demonstration was made, more against the office than the occupier of it. The county magistrates declined to recognise the Mayor’s authority, and the battle waged long and furiously; but Mr, White held his court at a different hour to the opposition until he was left in undisputed possession of the field. He was re-elected Mayor on the 9th Nov. 1836, but retired in July, 1837, to fill the more important position of Member of Parliament for the borough. The new member sat in the Whig interest, his colleague being Mr. Thompson, a Conservative. As showing the contrast between past and present elections, it may be mentioned that Mr. White’s election expenses on that occasion amounted to £16,000!

From this time new honours came thick and fast. Mr. White was made a deputy-lieutenant of his county, was present at the coronation and marriage of his Sovereign, and presented her with a congratulatory address from the borough of Sunderland on the occasion of the birth of the Princess Royal. For many years he held a prominent position in the county, taking a leading part in all philanthropic movements. It was an annual custom of his at Christmas time to entertain to dinner in his town house, Frederick Lodge, the whole of the chimney sweeps of Sunderland a portion of the community at that time in anything but affluent circumstances.

Severe losses in winning coal came upon him in the closing years of his life, and he retired from all public work. Mr. White, who died in 1856, had no offspring, and the only male representative of his family in the North of England is Mr. John White, of Claremont Terrace, Newcastle, who is the only son of Andrew’s brother and partner, Mr. Richard White (Mayor of Sunderland in 1840). Some younger brothers went to reside in the South of England early in life, and many of their progeny now occupy exalted positions in the Church and Army.

Our portrait is taken from an engraving of Bewick’s painting of Mr. White whilst Member for Sunderland, now in the possession of his great-nephew, Mr. J. Holmes White, of Newcastle.

Katy’s Coffee House, Newcastle

Entrance to the Side from Sandhill, Newcastle with Katy's Coffee House, the Lort Burn etc

On the site now occupied by the Royal Insurance Buildings stood, till the autumn of 1843, one of those quaint overhanging structures in which Newcastle was formerly so rich and of which even now, despite the energy of Town Improvement Committees and the desire for more showy premises and larger rents on the part of property owners, the city possesses some excellent specimens. The building to which I refer was known for more than 120 years as Katy’s Coffee House. Not that Katy herself lived so long, for she died in 1767, at the age of three score years and ten; but there was about her and her management of the house half tavern, half club an individuality and character which fastened her name even on the very building itself. That building was long since destroyed; but the name remains, for who; Novocastrian has not heard of Katy’s Coffee House?

In the stirring times of the great national struggle between the people of England and their king, in the seventeenth century, this house was the residence of Alderman Thomas Bonner, a merchant who was thrice Mayor of Newcastle, and a zealous Puritan. He was chosen Mayor for the first time on the 2nd October, 1648. The Common Council Books record that on this day “Thomas Bonner, Esq., Mayor elected, coming from the Spittle to go to his dwelling-house upon the Sandhill, the Serjeants carrying torches lighted in their hands, one Edmund Marshall [doubtless an over-zealous Royalist, a genuine Church and King man] threw a long stick at the said lighted torches, and struck divers of them out; and, it being dark, stones, &c., were flung.” The new Mayor had clearly stayed late at the Spittle. But his was then the ascendant party, though its ascendency was a thing of recent date, and there had doubtless been rejoicing amongst the aldermen quiet, sober rejoicing, though, as befitted Puritans.

But distinction awaited the new Mayor in the near future. Just a fortnight after his election, Oliver the Protector reached Newcastle on his way back from Scotland. Here, writes one of Cromwell’s generals, “we were received with very great acknowledgments of love; stayed three days, partly to give our army a little rest, also for the having our train come up to us from Berwick.’

A contemporary writer says that the army, coming hither, “was entertained with great guns, and ringing of bells and feasting.” “The 19th,” says the general just quoted, “we were very sumptuously feasted by the new Mayor of Newcastle,” in his old house on the Sandhill of course. During the repast, tradition tells us, “the town’s waits or musicians” cheered the company with their harmonic strains. The Lort Burn, then an open stream, flowed down the lower part of the Side, past the Mayor’s door, and across the Sandhill into the Tyne. Opposite Bonner’s house it was spanned by a narrow bridge, whereon the musicians stood whilst displaying their skill.

Bonner’s first mayoralty was inaugurated by a riot on the Sandhill. His last mayoralty was terminated by a riot at the Spittle. The Restoration came during his term of office, and Sir John Marley, who had been under a cloud since the memorable siege of 1644, was now once more to the fore, and, as he was the last Royalist Mayor when the first Charles’s sun was setting, he was chosen for the first Royalist Mayor when the sun of the second Charles was rising. But, as the biographer of Ambrose Barnes tells us, “the worthy Mayor of Newcastle (Thomas Bonner, that is, of the Sandhill), making scruple to surrender the staff to Sir John Marley, who was thought a fit person to succeed him, was so pushed and bruised in the Spittle, that he was carried out in his chair half dead, such was the violence of the faction.” The riot proved fatal to our worthy. He died “of the hurt he received in the Election House,” and was buried on the 12th October, 1660, that is, just eleven days after the riot. Barnes’s biographer tells us that Bonner, as Mayor, ” to this day never had his equal in the town.”

Bonner had been dead more than half a century before Katy’s arrival on the Sandhill. She came in the early days of George I. Not more than twenty summers had passed over her head when she assumed the management of what became by her prudent care a prosperous and respectable Coffee House. Hers was a house frequented by the ancient dignitaries of Newcastle, who went in and out at her front door, boldly and unashamed. Here lawyers met their clients, and hero valuable properties were sold by auction but “by inch of candle.” Katy, whose real name, by the way, was Kate Jefferson, maintained the fame of her house a full half century, and died, a spinster, on the 10th day of January, 1767. A spinster she could only have been by her own fixed and resolute determination. What stories Katy could have told, and doubtless did tell, to her customers stories not only of the overtures of seekers after a single landlady of a successful house, but stories of the many odd and ordinary, good-humoured and ill-humoured characters who had frequented her house during her fifty years of mistress-ship! What would we not give for Katy’s autobiography!

A contemporary newspaper, recording her death, says: “The great resort of company to her house did not prevent her industry in other respects, particularly in spinning, in which she excelled. One web, of nineteen yards, she brought to the fineness that she refused to take half-a-guinea a yard for it, which was offered her by a lady. But it is to be observed that she worked on the web no less than twenty years.”

The accompanying view of Katy’s Coffee House as it is supposed to have appeared about 1640 is reproduced from Richardson’s “Table Book”

J. R. Boyle, F.S.A.

Madame Tomsett, Vocalist

Madame Tomsett, a well-known Tyneside soprano, is a native of Sunderland. At an early age she was found to possess a phenomenally full and round voice. Before reaching her teens she was taken in hand by Canon Bamber for his choir at the Catholic Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland, where she was a leading singer for some years. She first took lessons with the late Mr. Robert Ferry, a prominent local basso, who subsequently engaged her to lead the chorus of the Sunderland Philharmonic Society. On the occasion of that body giving a performance of Handel’s “Alexander’s Feast,” the solo soprano from London became indisposed before the concert commenced, and, at a moment’s notice, Miss Tomsett was called upon to take her place, which she did with the greatest credit and to the satisfaction of the audience.

Madame Tomsett

After remaining with Mr. Ferry for some time, it was decided to send the youthful vocalist to London to acquire a thorough musical training. She was placed under the late Dr. Wylde, principal of the London Academy of Music, where she also received lessons in singing from Signor Lablache, who entertained a high opinion of her vocal powers. After barely nine months tuition, she was entered as a candidate to compete for the Crystal Palace prizes at the National musical meetings, among other competitors at that time being Miss Leonora Braham, Miss Bolingbroke, Miss Adeline Paget, Miss Jessie Jones, Mr. Leslie Crotty, and Mr. Herbert Thorndike. Notwithstanding that she had had much less experience than the other competitors, she managed not only to sing into the first half-dozen who were selected for final adjudication, bat carried off the certificate for “excellence in singing, voice, and expression” (similar to that won by Mr. Crotty in the baritone class), which certificate was signed by the judges. Sir Julius Benedict, Luigi Arditi, and Wilhelm Ganz. The London papers were very lavish in their praise of the wonderful progress the Sunderland soprano had made in so short a time. The Standard said: “Miss Tomsett was nervous, but the resonant qualities of her beautiful ringing voice completely filled the Crystal Hall. This young lady is a student of the London Academy, and her progress is nothing short of marvellous, considering that she has received scarcely a year’s tuition. A brilliant future is before this vocalist if she but husbands the splendid resources at her command.”

Miss Tomsett afterwards sang with great acceptance at Gresham College for Dr. Wylde; at the St. James’s Hall and Crystal Palace concerts with Mr. Mann’s orchestra (notably on the occasion of the first visit of the Shah of Persia); at operatic recitals with Madame Elena Coraui and Mr. J. W. Turner; at Signor Arditi’s, and elsewhere. Instead of remaining in London, however, she returned home, and her services have since been much in request for oratorios and concerts in the North of England and in Scotland. For some years she has been principal soprano at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Newcastle. She married a local journalist, Mr. William Heenan, and has a daughter who is already a talented pianist.

The accompanying portrait is from a photograph by Mr. James Bacon, of Northumberland Street, Newcastle.

Illustrations of Railway Development

Opening of Stockton and Darlington Railway - September 27th 1825

Although George Stephenson is rightly regarded as the “Father of Railways” for it was he who first made the locomotive a practical success for traffic the idea of a steam engine for traction had been previously worked out by several mechanical geniuses. Thus, Messrs. Trevethick and Vivian obtained a patent in 1802 for a high pressure locomotive engine, which, when the inventor had made certain improvements in it, was found capable of drawing a carriage on a circular railway at the rate of twelve miles an hour.

In 1813, Mr. William Hedley, of Wylam Colliery, made the first travelling locomotive engine, or substitute for animal power in the traction of coal waggons, ever see in the North. The coal was worked on the south side of the Tyne, conveyed under the river to the bottom of the shaft, and drawn up there; and from thence it was sent by the locomotives on a tramway to Lemington, a distance of above five miles. Each engine drew ten waggons, carrying eight chaldrons of coals, or 211 tons, and sometimes a dozen or more waggons were dragged by one engine. Strangers used to be struck with surprise and astonishment on seeing a locomotive engine moving majestically along the road at the rate of four or five miles an hour, drawing along from ten to fourteen loaded waggons; and their surprise was increased on witnessing the extraordinary facility with which the engine was managed. This invention was deemed a noble triumph of science, and so it really was, considering the time; but “Puffing Billy, “as Hedley’s locomotive was christened by the people near, is now only a curiosity, though it kept the road for a considerable time. The escapes of the jets of steam at high pressure, indeed, caused so much annoyance to the owners of horses in the neighbourhood, that the engine had to be stopped whenever a cart or carriage approached, and the working of the traffic was thus seriously interrupted, until Billy’s manners were improved by an ingenious arrangement for allowing the eteam to escape gradually.

George Stephenson, who had been for some time experimenting on the subject, constructed in 1815 the engine of which a figure ia here given, and which was a great improvement in many respects, and particularly in the simplicity of its mechanism, to Hedley’s engine. It weighed about eight tons, and could make a speed of nearly sixteen miles an hour in those days quite a marvel but with this disadvantage, that the chimney often became red-hot when running at that rate. But George was one of those extraordinary men to whom failure in any task, not physically impossible, is an unrecognised thing; and though his first locomotive was not very efficient, he was never satisfied till he had improved it so far as to come up somewhat near his own ideal. Mr. Goldworthy Gurney’s grand improvement of the steam blast was utilised by him to carry his experiments to a triumphal issue.

In 1820, Stephenson was appointed engineer for the construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway; and when that line was opened on the 27th September, 1825, his locomotive engine was called into requisition, and drew a train of thirty-eight carriages, fully loaded with coals, goods, and passengers, exclusive of the tender with coals and water, a distance of eight and three-quarter miles in sixty-five minutes, the speed in some parts being frequently twelve miles an hour, and, in one place for a short distance, near Darlington, fifteen miles per hour. On this occasion the fields on each side of the railway may be said to have been literally covered with ladies and gentlemen on horseback, and pedestrians of all kinds. A man rode in front carrying a flag, as may be seen in our engraving.

The rapid growth of the trade of South Lancashire, together with the unpopular management of the Bridgewater Canal, gave rise in 1821 to the project of a railway between Liverpool and Manchester. Stephenson, who had meanwhile fully established his reputation as a practical man, was chosen engineer by the directors, with a salary of £1,000 a year. He proposed to work the line with locomotive engines going at the rate of twelve miles an hour an idea which was held up by some incredulous critics as sufficient to stamp the project as a bubble. “Twelve miles an hour!” exclaimed a writer in the Quarterly Review: “as well trust oneself to be fired off from a Congreve rocket!”

The Rainhill Competition 1829 - The Rocket First

It had been originally contemplated to work the trains by horses; but locomotives having been long used in conveying coal in the Newcastle district, it was believed that they might be used to draw passengers with advantage. The company consequently offered a reward of £500 to the maker of the best locomotive, particularising certain conditions necessary to be fulfilled. The trial took place on the 6th October, 1829, at Rainhill, near Liverpool, on a level piece of the railway one mile and three quarters in length. The distance to be run was seventy miles, backwards and forwards, thus giving forty stoppages. The following engines appeared: The “Novelty,” made by Messrs. Braithwaite and Ericsson, of London, but this was withdrawn, in consequence of some derangement in her pipes shortly after starting; the “Rocket,” made by Messrs. Robert Stephenson and Co., of Newcastle, weighing 4 tons 9 cwt., which did the seventy miles in six and a-half hours an average speed of somewhat over five and a-half minutes per mile and so gained the prize; the “Perseverance,” made by Mr. Burstal, of Leith; and the “Sans Pareil’made by Mr. Timothy Hackworth, of Darlington. The two latter came in second and third. The “Rocket” afterwards astonished everybody by drawing a carriage containing from twenty to thirty passengers up the Whiston inclined plane, rising 1 in 96, at rates of from fifteen to eighteen miles per hour. Yet, marvellous as was the “Rocket” in its day, it would now be looked upon by railway engineers as a pretty toy. For it was soon discovered that the bite and steadiness of the locomotive on the rails were of so much importance as to counteract the disadvantage of the vis inertia of increased weight; and therefore locomotives began to be made always heavier and heavier, till some of them are now, we believe, up-wards of twenty tons weight.

Chat Moss - Showing Stevensons Line

One of the most difficult parts of the Liverpool and Manchester line to make was that over Chat Moss, a huge bog, between Bury Lane and Patricroft, comprising an area of twelve square miles, so soft as to yield to the foot of man or beast, and in many parts so fluid that an iron rod laid upon the surface would sink out of sight by its own weight. It varied from ten to thirty-five feet in depth, and the bottom was composed of sand and clay. On the eastern border, for about a mile and a-half, the greatest difficulty in the construction of the road occurred. Here an embankment of about twenty feet above the natural level was formed, the weight of which, resting on a soft base, pressed down the original surface; many thousand cubic yards gradually and silently disappeared before the desired level was attained; but, by degrees, the whole mass beneath and on either side of this embankment became consolidated by the superincumbent and lateral pressure, and the work was finally completed at less expense than any other part of the line. Hurdles of brushwood and heath were placed under the wooden sleepers, which supported the rails over the greater part of this moss; so that the road might be said to float on the surface. And on the 1st of May, 1830, the “Rocket” steam-engine, with a carriage full of company, passed over the roadway, along the whole extent of Chat Moss, thus affording the first triumphant proof of the possibility of forming this much-contested line.