vol II date / index
St. Gall, Abbot, A. D. 646. St. Lullus, or Lullon, Abp., A. D. 787. St. Mummolin, or Mommolin, Bp. A. D. 665.
CUSTOM AT ESKDALE, YORKSHIRE.
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
Ascension-day, whereon there is a remarkable annual custom in maintenance of a tenure, has passed, but as it originated from a circumstance on the 16th of October, you can introduce it on that day, and it will probably be informing as well as amusing to the majority of readers. The narrative is derived from a tract formerly published at Whitby. I am, &c.
On this day in the fifth year of the reign of king Henry II. after the conquest of England, (1140,) by William, duke of Normandy, the lord of Uglebarnby, then called William de Bruce, the lord of Snaynton, called Ralph de Percy, and a gentleman freeholder called Allotson, did meet to 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 in Yorkshire, who was then called Sedman, and abbot of the said place.
Then, the aforesaid gentlemen did meet with their hounds and boar-staves in the place aforesaid, and there found a great wild boar; and the hounds did run him very hard, near the chapel and hermitage of Eskdale side, where there was a monk of Whitby, who was an hermit; and the boar being so hard pursued, took in at the chapel door, and there laid him down, and died immediately, and the hermit shut the hounds out of the chapel, and kept himself at his meditation and prayers; the hounds standing at bay without, the gentlemen in the thick of the wood, put behind their game, in following the cry of the hounds, came to the hermitage and found the hounds round the chapel; then came the gentlemen to the door of the chapel, and called on the hermit, who did open the door, and then they got forth, and within lay the boar dead, for which the gentlemen, in a fury, because their hounds were put out of their game, run at the hermit with their boar-staves, whereof he died; then the gentlemen knowing, and perceiving that he was in peril of death, took sanctuary at Scarborough; but at that time, the abbot, being in great favour with the king, did remove them out of the sanctuary, whereby they became in danger of the law, and not privileged, but like to have the severity of the law, which was 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; so doing, the gentlemen came, and the hermit being sick, said, "I am sure to die of these wounds:" but the abbot answered, "They shall die for it," but the hermit said, "Not so, for I will freely forgive them my death, if they are content to be enjoined this penalty (penance) for the safeguard of their souls;" the gentlemen being there present, bid him enjoin what he would, so he saved their lives: then said the hermit, "you and yours shall hold your land of the abbot of Whitby, and his successors in this manner: that upon Ascension-day Even, you or some of you shall come to the wood of Strayheads which is in Eskdale side, and the same (Ascension-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 deliver unto you William de Bruce, ten stakes, eleven street stowers, and eleven yadders, to be cut with a knife of a penny price; and you Ralph de Percy, shall take one and twenty of each 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 to be there before nine o'clock of the same day before mentioned: and at the hour of nine o'clock, if it be full sea, to cease their service, as long as till it be low water, and at nine o'clock of the same day, each of you shall set your stakes at the brim of the water, each stake a yard from another, and so yadder them with your yadders, and to stake them on each side, with street stowers, that they stand three tides, without removing by the force of the water; each of you shall make at that hour in every year, except it be full sea at that hour, which when it shall happen to come to pass, the service shall cease: you shall do this to remember that you did slay me; and that you may the better call to God for mercy, repent youselves [sic], and do good works. The officer of Eskdale side, shall blow, Out on you! out on you! out on you! for this heinous crime of yours. If you or your successors refuse this service, so long as it shall not be a full sea, at the hour aforesaid, you or your's shall forfeit all your land to the abbot or his successors; this I do entreat, 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 then 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 as freely forgive these gentlemen by death, as Christ forgave the thief upon the cross;" and in the presence of the abbot and the rest, he said moreover these words, "In manus tuas, Domine commendo spiritum meum, a vinculis enim mortis redimisti me, Domine veritatis," (Into thy hands O Lord I recommend my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me from the bonds of death O Lord of Truth,) and the abbot and the rest said "Amen," and so yielded up the ghost the eighth day of December, upon whose soul God have mercy. Anno Domini, 1160.
N. B. this service is still annually performed.
Yarrow. Achillæ multifolium.
Dedicated to St. Gall.