Hearts of Oak
Part I - Introduction





Preface   a. General
    b. Personal

Chapter I Background: Geographical & Historical

Chapter II Penal Statutes --- Varying applications of ---
    Duties of a Village Constable

ChapterIII The work of: 1. Marian Priests
    2. Douai Priests
    3. Emigré Priests

Chapter IV The influence of The Gentry & The Yeomen

Chapter V   The Underground Story to 1800 and afterwards.
    The Egton Mass House

Chapter VI   Records and Registers
    Recusant non conformity

Chapter VII   Family Names; Homesteads and early education

Chapter VIII   Egton and Ugthorpe jointly served

Chapter IX   Recent Events

Chapter X   Changing Scene




Only during the past few years has the interest in the history of the martyrs and with them the history of the common people been renewed. This is a good sign since the preoccupations of today greatly detract from the search for the truth and never was it more needed than at present.

After delving just a few generations back there arises a dim question mark in the mind of the enquirer about the general historical knowledge available to the ordinary man. Gradually the doubt grows and eventually becomes a certainty. We have been misled. A false notion of our historical background is largely accepted by the vast majority of our people and as more study is done and more sources become available, the evidence mounts that much has been written with deliberate bias in the past.

Fortunately however some of the results of recent endeavour has come into print. The scholarly works of Mr. Philip Hughes, the late Fr. Gerald Culkin, R.I.P. and Fr. Philip Caraman have set the ball rolling and work is in hand by others, which will add considerably to the general picture by filling in the gaps with the local knowledge of the several pockets of resistance which existed throughout the penal days.

Lancashire and Yorkshire provided some of the chief anxieties to the government on the score of recusancy. In this term lies the clue to the truth. The histories of those who steadfastly refused to attend the services of the church by law established have yet to be unearthed and sifted and set down, for therein will be revealed fortitude in the lay people equal to that of the missionary priests.

Of all Yorkshire parishes which were required by the Archbishops to submit regular recusant returns, the most stubborn to follow the new religion of Edward VI and Elizabeth I was the moorland parish of Egton in the North Riding of Yorkshire. It was in and around the homesteads of this remote area that the ministrations of Venerable Nicholas Postgate, its most famous son, and of those of his successors, produced that zeal for the faith which was never once extinguished.

What follows is the outcome of some little research into the recusant history of EGTON and the surrounding district.

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This would never have been written had it not been for the facts firstly, my mother had grandmothers identically named; secondly, my wife's ancestors had that same surname; and thirdly, and most important of all, they all came from the same area, namely the EGTON, EGTON BRIDGE, GROSMONT, GLAISDALE, UGTHORPE district of North Yorkshire, in effect the present parish of Egton formerly a sub district of the parish of Lythe. These formed the core of sustained resistance. Some twenty-five years ago the son of the then licensee of the Arncliffe Hotel, Glaisdale, a relative of my wife, happened to remark that he had the whole of the Harrison 'family tree' and that he would send my wife's genealogy. This duly arrived showing a continuous descent back to 1742. An achievement to start with. Fortunately my mother's mother was still alive, and I was able to obtain the benefit of her knowledge. Arising from this I passed the remark to my wife, "I bet we're related".

The fascinating results of the ensuing search, which still continues, has convince me of the heroic manner in which this isolated pocket of God's Underground clung tenaciously to the ancient faith. What little I have been able to discover of their togetherness, their endurance, their refusal to be intimidated into submission, must be set down, so that these few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle may contribute to the fuller knowledge of that vital post-reformation period in English history, about whose common folk information is so scarce.

When it is remembered that to be a priest, even to shelter one, one risked death; to have one's children baptised secretly, to be absent from the parish church one risked fines, loss of property and imprisonment; it is easy to understand that records of birth, marriage and death relating to a legally proscribed belief, would constitute virtual death warrants to the holders and to those named.

It naturally follows that early direct records of the people could not exist; Wills provide some facts, but few of the ordinary people were wealthy enough to need them. Where they were summoned to give reason before the courts why they would not keep the new laws - these proceedings give some information.

I have been assisted by my daughter Margaret, by Rev. Fr. Basil and Mr. Edwin Harrison, by the present and past parish priests of Ugthorpe, by the Vicars present and past of Egton, Egton Bridge and Lythe. To these I wish to express my deepest gratitude.

I must not forget the late W.G. Ward of Egton, whose pioneer work, "A short Account of the Missionary Priests who served Ugthorpe and Egton Bridge during the Penal Days", inspired me to follow humbly in his footsteps, and whose untimely death deprived those urged to tackle Historical Problems with "that vital curiosity", of a very competent man on the spot.

Originally seeking Harrison information, I was soon obliged to take note of other names whose roots are equally well established in those days misnamed "The Dark Ages". Such names include: Hodgson, Gallon, Readman, Roe (Raw), Pearson (various spellings), Lyth, White, Welford, most of whom figure on our 'tree' and members of which families are still to be found in the area.

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The North Yorkshire Moors may be said to lie between the River Tees on the north, and the Vale of Pickering on the south, and between the sea on the north and east and the Vale of York on the west. It consists of wide open moorland the highest point of which is just under 1500' above sea level. High cliffs feature the coast. The Esk, an east west river, rains the northern parts into the sea at Whitby whilst a parallel series of steep valleys in a north south direction drain the southern area into the Humber. A number of streams pierce the cliffs in the north.

The moorlands provide pasture for sheep; the valleys land for mixed farming. It appears to have been highly forested in the dim past and to have been settled as clearing was done. The ridges between the valleys held primitive tracks.

The summers were pleasant. the winters a nightmare: even today some areas are sometimes cut off for up to 6 weeks, so in the past this could have been 3 months.

People dwelt here thousands of years ago. Their remains in tumuli or barrows dot the moors and give interesting archaeological information. The Romans straightlined a road from their camp at Cawthorne near Malton northwards to their coast lookout at Goldsborough near Lythe. The Saxons invaded it and also the Danes, both leaving evidence of their respective occupations. Whitby or rather its Saxon predecess or afforded the venue for the great Synod which in 664 settled the differences between the Celtic and Roman monks and the great Abbey high on the cliff exercised an influence far and wide.

The inhabitants worshipped and worked in peace eking out their frugal livelihood little embroiled in kingly ambitions. Wars with Scotland and France only penetrated their fastnesses by means of the pedlar. It was only when rumours of strange happenings came that deep disquiet disturbed them.

Soon they knew. Their beloved abbey no longer housed the monks who now sought refuge among them. But this was not all. Arrogant minions of the king despoiled their own church and gave them in return something unacceptable. No wonder then in 1536 they resisted and, wielding their staves, beneath the banner of the Five Wounds of Christ, asked the king for the return of the Mass and the restoration of the abbeys. With consummate guile the royal promise sent them home in hope to await its fulfillment. The next few weeks brought the answer. The distorted lips of their colleagues swinging to and fro from the limbs of the oaks on the village greens, spoke of traitorous betrayal and black despair.

At that moment the days of Merrie England ceased and the real Dark Ages began. Round about them instances were seen of the exchange of the old faith for church property, as avarice grew and spiritual guidance declined. The abbey buildings became quarries for the new rich as Queen Elizabeth I and the "Monstrous Regiment" schemed to maintain the "New Learning" despite the setback of Mary's reign.

In 1569, thirty-three years later, before memories of the past were forgotten, a new generation sought redress under arms, with brief success. Mass was said again in Durham Cathedral by Blessed Thomas Plumtree, and no doubt in many more northern parishes as old Marian priests ventured out of hiding to offer with joy the Holy Sacrifice before the grateful people.

Without guile but with even more rigorous severity, the Crown crushed this final attempt and the dwindling few went underground.

Round about 1575 the missionary priests maintained dangerous contact and gave spiritual life and encouragement and at the same time many gave their lives. Not without reason then these moors bred faithful and generous souls willing to endure trials and imprisonment, so much so that the Recusant Returns of the eighteenth century Egton parish shows the greatest number as the. table below shows. (Papist returns of Diocese of York)

Numbers of Papists

1706 Abp. Dawes
1735 Abp. Blackburne
1743 Abp. Herring
1767 Abp. Drummond


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The imposition of the "New Learning" was assisted by the enactment of some hundred Acts of Parliament between 1558 and 1760, the chief purpose (in the earlier years) being to punish severely those who continued to adhere to the religion in which they had been born and which their ancestors had practised for hundreds of years previously. To these was given the name Recusant, i.e. one who refused to attend the services of the Established Church.

They were deprived of the chance to serve in the Lords or Commons; and all offices of power and trust; they were disenfranchised; double taxed.; were fined £20 a month for absence from the service in the church; they could not keep arms; nor be lawyers or doctors or bring a case to law; or travel more than 5 miles from their house. Wives who absented themselves forfeited two thirds of their dowries, could not act as executrices to the Wills of their husbands and were liable to imprisonment or bail at £10 a month.

They were subject to arbitrary arrest by J.P.s and could be banished without trial if they refused to apostasise. One could not buy or sell lands and could not bequeath them except to an heir who followed the new idea. A private tutor, teaching the beliefs of their forbears, enjoined a double penalty - £10 a month on the gentleman and £2 a day on the tutor - whilst the crime of sending a child overseas merited £100 fine on the parents and deprivation of all inheritance rights for the child.

At first the offering of Mass brought £120 fine to the priest and £60 for each of the congregation, but later the 'massing priest from beyond the seas' who offered Mass, reconciled or shrove, was simply entered in the records with the latin letters describing the grim sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering. Imprisonment and death awaited those guilty of sheltering any of these priests.

Throughout these years the above penalties were exacted in varying degrees of severity down to not being applied at all. Sympathetic Sheriffs and Vicars turned a blind eye, sometimes at great personal risk to themselves, yet when any crisis arose, the recusants felt the first sting of resumed enforcement. The various "plots" and threats of invasion served as occasions for new waves of arrests to sweep the country. The death penalty for priests was written off in 1700 and life imprisonment substituted, and as an encouragement £100 reward was offered for the conviction of a priest to any common informer. Registration of landed possessions of recusants came together with a crippling tax.

The American War of Independence brought some relief since having seen an oppressed people rise and break away, the government forsaw something similar might happen in England and Ireland. In fact it was attempted unsuccessfully in Ireland in 1798.

In 1829 however the majority of these statutes were repealed and the dawn of a period without persecution followed.

"Joinor" George Harrison at present living in retirement at his home at Hollins Lodge, Grosmont, very kindly made available YE OLD CONSTABLE BOKE of Lythe and Barnby, published in 1890 by J. Slee & Co. Printers & Lithographers of Wharf St., Stockton on Tees. A John Crowther was the author. It contained some quite relevant information.


1. Swear to serve Queen Anne.
2. See her Majesty's Peace is well kept.
3. Arrest armed offenders and commit Felons, Rogues, Vagabonds, Strowlers, Scouts, Thieves, Night-Walkers, Idle persons, Tipplers and Gamblers.

4. Levy 'Hue and Cry' and pursue until taken.
5. Make best endeavour that Watch and Ward be kept.
6. 'Hue and Cry' be raised against murderers, thieves and other felons.
7. The laws against rogues and vagabonds and idle persons be duly executed.
8. A watchful eye to be kept on innkeepers and frequenters thereof.
9. Restrain inordinate haunting and tippling in same.
10. Make a presentment of all concerned in bloodshedding affrays and outcries.
11. Once a year at Quarter Sessions present all Popish Recusants and their children above nine years old and also their servants, (those who absented themselves from the Services in the Parish Church).
12. Execute well and truly all warrants from J.P's against unlawful providing of provisions.
13. Cause all persons to meet to serve in corn and hay harvests.
14. In Easter Week see to the parishioners mending the highways.


Item. Francis Linskill, constable of Whitby, was fined 20/- for not presenting recusants. This was in 1616.


1. To refuse to take the Oath of Supremacy is High Treason.
2. To maintain or extol the authority of Rome is High Treason.
3. To obtain or put in force any Bull from Rome is High Treason.
4. For a Jesuit or Priest made by authority from the Pope to come into or remain in the King's domain is High Treason.
5. To maintain or conceal those reconciled to the Romish Religion is a felony.
6. To relieve, receive or comfort a Jesuit or Priest is a felony.
7. A refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy entailed the forfeiture of all lands and goods, imprisonment for life and deprivation of all benefit of the law.
8. For not discovering Priests made beyond the seas - imprisonment.
9. For being convicted of Recusancy - imprisonment.
10. Those who fail to pay their fines to be imprisoned till they can or till they conform.
11. Women convicted of Recusancy to be kept in prison or their husbands pay £10 a month.
12. If a person be excommunicated for Recusancy his house may be broken into for his apprehension.
13. Absence from Parish Church for 12 months caused the person to be bound over with surety in the King's Bench.
14. Every Recusant is confined to a five mile limit for life, (London 10 miles).
15. No Recusant to enter a house where the King or Heir Apparent were.
16. A person absent from church forfeits 12d every Sunday.
17. A person absent from Common Prayer forfeits £10 a month, or the forfeit of all goods, two parts of his lands and all leases held from him.
18. All copyhold lands of Recusants to be forfeited.
19. For not receiving the Sacrament according to the Service Book a Recusant forfeits £20 the first year, £40 the second year, £50 the third year and every year after.
20. If a Recusant appeared at the King's Court a £100 fine.
21. For being married by any other than a Minister £100 fine.
22. For keeping a schoolmaster who does not go to church, or allowing him to teach, £10 monthly, £2 daily fine on the schoolmaster.
23. For not baptising a child publicly according to the Service Book within a month of birth £100 fine.
24. No Recusant could practice Common or Civil Law or be an Attorney, Steward, Solicitor or any officer in court or Practice Physic or be an Apothecary or hold any office in Camp, Troop, Band of soldiers, or any Ship, Castle or Fortress.
25. Peers and MPs could not take their seats until they had taken the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy and declared against Transubstantiatic and Authority of Rome.
     One J.P. could commit a Recusant to the Assizes.
     Two J.P.'s could search for popish books or relics.
     Four J.P.'s could seize any arms belonging to the Recusant.

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It has been seen, in the first place, that the faith depended for its continuancy, on those priests of Mary's reign who were expelled or left in their parishes because of age, and who, giving lip service to the new learning, carried on secretly offering Mass and administering the sacraments. The government were quite prepared to let the old faith die out with the last of the Marian priests, few of whom would outlive Elizabeth. Deprived however of the ordaining hands of the bishop, no replacements were forthcoming, so it would be with sombre misgivings that the last aged priests of the various localities would be laid to rest by their sorrowing congregations.

This dilemma was solved by the foresight of William Allen, assisted by some still faithful gentry, anxious that their sons and daughters should have the truth. Allen founded schools in what is now France and Belgium. The greatest of these was Douai, from which the young English men leaving their loved ones, obtained that spiritual support denied them at home.

So it was that barely twenty years after her succession, Elizabeth saw with angry dismay her efforts threatened by the enthusiastic new priests rekindling the dying embers of the faith up and down the country.

Imagine the joy in an isolated cottage when the failing eyes of aged grandparents light up with the news brought back by a younger member of the family after breaking through the deep winter drifts to make new contact with the outside world once more. "There's been a priest at Lady Radcliffe's these last three months." Visualise the excitement as arrangements are made for Mass, for baptisms, even for marriages if time permits. The secrecy, the furtive comings and goings as the faith is strengthened and the Body of Christ restored to that household, possibly the first time for many years.

Perhaps by the last aged priest of Lythe or Egton, perhaps by one of the new priests in some such circumstances as above was the son of Jane Postgate christened in the name Nicholas in the year 1596. His early years would no doubt be enlightened by stories of the "good old days" of the faith told by relations whose memories still burned bright within them. Stories of the steadfastness of Campion, Mayne, Garnet and Gennings (who, says Mr. Ward, landed at Whitby and no doubt stayed for shelter at either the Old Hall at Ugthorpe or Bridgeholm Green at Egton Bridge), evidently inspired the boy, for at the age of twenty five he left, to do what they had done before him, to become a priest and minister to his fellow countrymen, however great the cost.

The story of these ministrations has been told elsewhere** and it is certain that had it not been for the solicitude for souls shown by him and those who followed him, the faith would not have been possessed by thousands today including the present writer. It is, therefore, in indebtedness that these lines are written.

Just about the time when the faith was becoming less proscribed, the endeavours of the Douai priests were helped by others driven out by persecution from their own countries. Some of these emigré priests have left evidence of their presence in Whitby and Ugthorpe. Two priests of the former group were driven out by the French Revolution; and Rev. Jean Francois Richenet, and Rev. John Goudoin; whilst Rev. J. Bertout came to Ugthorpe on April 6th 1794 in the same way. Father John Woodcock, driven from Douai, ministered in the area for some twenty odd years.

** 1. Venerable Nicholas Postgate, Priest and Martyr - Rev. D. Quinlan. C.T.S.
     2. Venerable Nicholas Postgate, Priest and Martyr - Whitby Gazette - commencing 17.2.67
     3. Missionary Priests who served Egton and Ugthorpe (1934) - William Ward.

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Throughout the penal days the faith varied in strength and from district to district in direct proportion to the faith and fortunes of the landed gentry. Most of these still gave adherence to Rome at the commencement of Elizabeth's reign in 1558. The severity of confiscation fine and imprisonment succeeded in time in reducing their numbers as younger members of the families sometimes preferred lands and success to faith and poverty. The shelter of priests was more easy in the big houses where they could be disguised as footmen, gardeners, tutors, and where in the later days they were often effectively hidden.

 Prominent names in this group include:
     The Smiths of Egton Bridge (see Ward)
     The Hodgsons of Grosmont.
     The Radcliffes of Ugthorpe

It is certain that these families in North Yorkshire, and many others elsewhere in the same county were well known by and visited by Father Postgate in his travels.

About Catholic Yeomen it is difficult to say. Of their very nature their landed possessions would be considerably less than the gentry and very very few of them can have survived, as yeomen, the exacting penalties of recusancy. It is, therefore, most likely that by the time of Father Postgate they were largely landless and worked as tenants or at the several trades open to villagers at these times. The parish records indicate these occupations which were: cordwayner (cobbler), fuller, maltser, weaver, tailor, farm labourer, mason, groom, carpenter, cooper, blacksmith, joiner.

It is easy to see how interdependent those village communities were and how well they could withstand a winter siege, as indeed they had to do every year. However, one or two managed, by purchase or by marriage, to accumulate a few windswept acres. This was assisted by the break up and sale in 1656 of the Danby Estates to pay debts incurred in supporting the royal cause against parliament. Henry Harrison d.1727 according to the papist land registration owned 35 acres in right of his wife from her father Francis Rudd and 20 acres in his own possession. He lived at Greenhouses; a more remote and desolate spot it would be hard to find especially in a 1700 winter. Hodgsons, Dale, Stangoe registered lands at Ugthorpe. These families are seen taking the oath of supremacy at various times during the eighteenth century as the penal laws became more of a dead letter.

Details of these transactions are mentioned by Canon Atkinson in his competent work "40 years in a Moorland Parish."

Most of the ordinary inhabitants farmed for the Lord of the Manor of Egton as tenants and rarely seemed to change status as the estate changed hands during these years.

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However closely knit these mediaeval communities were, their Catholic part was ever more so. Today the term we would use would be a Catholic Underground. Outwardly the same as their neighbours in secular behaviour they were marked out as stubborn adherents to outmoded superstition in religious behaviour. Ever tightlipped about their priests who continued, in every disguise, to baptise and to marry them, they persevered to the present time. When the priest was working amongst them, unspoken messages were passed long distances by the simple expedient of varying numbers of white sheets laid on the ground in prominent fields. It is easy to see how effective this would be when one notices the lie of the land in these dales. From the field immediately behind or east of the Egton Mass house below-mentioned, the villages of Grosmont and Goathland are clearly visible as well as a considerable portion of the south bank of the Esk.

Various references of early historians indicate secret marriages. "Living together as man and wife supposedly married by popish priests". "Mr. John Danby Bostock ye supposed papist priest buried."

Towards the middle of the eighteen-century priests commenced to take up fixed abodes and become subject to complaints to York about their activities contrary to the law. William Ward relates the complaint about Father Hervey at Ugthorpe in these words, "This spark is so far from being afraid of ye law yet he teaches school (as the Vicar of Lythe complains) and has ye assurance to invite people to hear him do his duty" (P16). Complaints were however in vain as the severity of the law had spent itself and magistrates and protesting curates became more tolerant. Half a century later we find the secret Mass houses being replaced by the beginnings of the parochial churches.

For some possible hundred years the existence in their midst of one of these Mass houses was forgotten. Then in 1830 a spring-cleaning servant in a thatched, one-storey cottage, dislodged some plaster and revealed the entrance to a concealed loft oratory. The altar was equipped for Mass as the last custodian carefully closed the trap door. Not even the children could pass down the information for they cannot have been told and the secret died with the death of the last who knew. These and more details are related in a CTS pamphlet "Father Postgate".

My mother as a child played in that loft which even then concealed other secrets for another 25 years. These were revealed when, most unfortunately the Catholics in the neighbourhood unprotestingly permitted the cottage to be demolished and rebuilt as a two-storey dwelling. When the thatched roof was removed an ancient leather bag containing several sliver coins, and a repaired "collection" plate were discovered. These, at present in the possession of the parish in the presbytery and together with other relics and a model of the Mass house as it was, form the nucleus of the Postgate centre at Egton Bridge.

Out of the oaken beams four carved statues 14" high were made and given to four parishioners. One, of Father Postgate, was until very recently, in the possession of Mr. Edmund Raw, the secretary of The Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Show, an institution over 100 years old and almost unique in the country. It is believed that the four statues are now in the possession of the parish. The story of the tabernacle door in the secret oratory is related in the pamphlet above. I have been in the cottage both before and after its demolition. Its present occupant is a Mr. Ventress, also a cultivator of huge gooseberries and the possessor of a locally made copy of the missing tabernacle door.

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Records in writing of the past chiefly occur in the accounts of civil or religious legal proceedings or in government state papers.

The government saw fit, however, to legislate for the registration of births, marriages and deaths in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. This was to be parochial and took some time to be adopted - all parishes in the kingdom. This means that the earliest parish records vary from parish to parish. In this case Egton register begins around 1620 whereas Danby are 35 years earlier. 0ccasionally gaps occur possibly due to civil disturbances or new appointment of the incumbent.

It is obvious here that the recusants viewed registration as a check upon themselves and were certainly not inclined to take much advantage of the novelty, especially the yeomen. The gentry usually kept such information privately for inheritance and reasons of tenure. So it is exceedingly difficult to find continuous records of yeomen families, or even to find any records at all.

My seeking has not found any evidence of recusant yeoman family records earlier than about 1600. This early knowledge is largely from Wills and is somewhat of a jigsaw nature. Father Hervey's registers provide the earliest records of the type we understand today, but the Jacobite scares in the dales resulted in his arrest and removal in 1745. His successors did not continue his "effontery" in the face of the law, so there is an unfortunate gap until, with the establishment of tolerated Catholic churches about 1800, furtive catholic registers appear once more. These were of the note book type, sometimes in Latin and scattered amongst details of all the parish affairs. They appear to have been started by the emigré priests from the French Revolution.

In 1753 the Hardwicke Marriage Act rendered illegal all unions not contracted in the parish churches. Because of this Act it seems possible that some obviously recusant pairs decided to legalise their secret religious marriage even after the passage of many years. Taking the family name of Harrison it is noted that there is only 1 Harrison marriage in the Egton parish register between the years 1722 and 1756, then they become a regular occurrence. This confirms the practice of secret marriages (and baptisms) and is further illustrated by the "midnight marriage" phenomenon where a catholic pair married secretly at night before a priest and later openly again before the vicar. Entries in the catholic and parish records of the same marriage occur, for example:-
William Roe = Ann Harrison (19.1.1802 Ugthorpe)
                                            (20.1.1802 Lythe)

This double marriage practice evidently continued until the 1837 Registration Act removed doubts about legality. My maternal great great grandparents were married "twice" in 1836, whereas a great granddaughter today 16/10/66, relates the passed-down information that another pair, Philip Lyth and Elizabeth Elwick "were married in a house" about the same time.

The passing of this Act enjoined the priests in charge of the infant catholic churches to surrender to the Registrar General at Somerset House the registers in their possession at that date. The quotation which follows is on the flyleaf of the present Egton Bridge register:
"The baptismal register which also contains the marriages from 1835 to October 1840 was sent to the General Register Office, London, by the Reverend Harry Greenhalgh pursuant to Act of Parliament passed for legalising the Baptismal Registers of Catholics prior to 1837".

The following quotation will illustrate the marked reluctance of recusants to use the parish registers. From Egton Parish Register of Baptisms, Burials and Marriages after 1801:
"Form of answers to questions contained in the schedule to an Act for building up an account of the population of Great Britain."
Remark: 4th question. "The papists who are one fourth part of the inhabitants could never be prevailed on since the year 1791 to register their children in the book of baptisms as heretofore". By no means were all of them registered before that either!

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A glance at the Egton parish returns of Recusants shows that of the present names in the area hardly any were absent at one time or another. Exceptions can be noted where a name present on earlier returns fails to turn up on later ones and vice versa. This can be due to departure, family dying out or coming into the area, to a lapse or a reconciliation.

     Postgate appears in 1604; not in 1680 or later.
     Harrison absent in 1604 and 1680; present in 1735 and later.
     Lyth and White present all the time in all returns.
     Other families are: Lawson, Roe, Hodgson, Readman,
     Pearson, Harland, Consitt and Hoggarth.

These families often lived in their homesteads for several generations. Some of these are now modern farms where new buildings have replaced the very primitive abodes of the earlier occupants. Many of these older buildings now serve as outbuildings to the new dwelling. The Lyths in several related groups occupied the homesteads still known as Cucket Nook, Westonby House and Howe House in the mid eighteenth century and later, whilst the Harrisons occupied the Tranmires High and Low, and Redmires and some of the cottages at Greenhouses about the same period. Others occupied sites in an area known only by its district name such as Shortwait, Egton Grange, Shorefoot Whins and Leaserigg, whilst others became tradesmen and lived in the villages of Egton, Egton Bridge, Ugthorpe and Lythe. Some of these places no longer exist either in place or in memory. Repeated efforts to locate Shorefoot exactly have all failed. Present Egton "antiquaries" confuse it with Shortwait. So too with Whins, but the 1853 OS edition shows Whins north of Greenhouses opposite Redmires (on the other side of Stonegate beck in Danby parish). It apparently consisted of more than one house and on the route from Stonegate to the Tranmires further north. The passing of the estate from the Elwes to the Forsters in 1867 may have had something to do with the disappearance of these dwellings. It may be of interest to note that the above map indicates a dwelling and a wood with the name Starfoot which house has gone, and the wood is currently known as the Daffodil wood - recently cleared of trees. The latest reference is to be found in Canon Atkinsons History of Cleveland 1875 where he refers to a farmer "of Shawfoot near Egton." The writer now inclines to the view that the Shortwait of today is one and the same as the Shorefoot in the records.

Their religious duties are illustrated by the general and past information contained in a letter from Father Postgate to Bishop Jas. Leyburn in 1662 to the effect that he had assisted at 226 weddings and baptised 593 persons, and in other exercise' book snippets such as "Wm. Harrison communicated in 1788"; N and N husband and wife "out of the church" in 1826; so many hundreds communicated on such and such Easter Day; and "on 12th October 1837 the following were confirmed by Dr.Briggs".

Formal education, not usual in those times when illiteracy continued until well into the nineteenth century, was one of the concerns of Father Hervey, so much so that Mr. Borwick, vicar or curate of Lythe complained bitterly about the school to the Precentor of York in 1736. It is not clearly known whether the boys were local or "boarders" but it seems to be the latter. After the arrest of Fr. Hervey in 1745 we hear no more of the school for 57 years.

In that year a new venture was started under Father Bertout, the French emigre priest aforementioned. £10 per annum was for the schoolmaster. The first three schoolmasters were apparently Michael Snowden, 1802 till 9/10/1804; Thomas Powell 22/4/1805 till 1820; and later Cecily Hoggarth, nee Harrison. In this case it seems that the children were local.

When and where formal education was impossible or even where it was possible, the custom was that the most literate adult read the bible, the history of the church and other spiritual works to his family. This evidence came as a result of being permitted to spend a week in the house of the late Nicholas Gallon, R.I.P. of Bellwood, Ugthorpe. This was a very modern house when it was completed In 1856 and contained everything of that period. The library was very revealing, consisting of several bibles and volumes of the "History of the Church (1715)", "Hell 1704" and "Whitby Magazine", some of which were endorsed "John Gallon his book". The same John Gallon and the book Hell are mentioned in the early Ugthorpe records and show these people to be the first generation from the last so called recusants. The returns for 1735 respecting Lythe, indicate an obvious forbear of the Gallons long reconciled. The exact words are "Luke Gallon, perverted by his wife Dorothy about 15 years ago."

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For some time between 1800 and 1827 the two centres of Ugthorpe and Egion were jointly served and records pertaining to the two areas only begin separately with Egton births 1841, Egton marriages 1841, Egton deaths 1855, subject of course to the small exercise book (No.99 of P.R.0. non-parochial registers) going back some five or six years earlier. This death register gives evidence of the faith as far back as 1755 but only in the case of those who were born into it and kept it all their lives.

Evidence of conversions in the same period, which were referred to more correctly as reconciliations, in the registers of Father Hervey, is not as yet available, if such exists.

Evidence of papistry occurs in the parish death registers with the occasional endorsement "Papist". These can take the evidence of particular recusant families back another hundred years till 1640 or thereabouts. These people and their offspring are those numbered and in some cases named in the Recusant Returns of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

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The greatly admired church of St.Hedda at Egton Bridge is far too large for its present congregation still numbering members of the famous families mentioned before. It was commenced in 1865 by direct labour, from stone quarried some distance moorwards, i.e. southwards of Swang Farm, the ancestral dwelling. The catholic families, farmers who carted stone and timber, masons who quarried and shaped the stone, carpenters who framed the woodwork and benches, builders who set it up have erected a magnificent memorial. It commemorates:
1. The Venerable Nicholas Postgate,
2. Their faithful priests,
3. Their own steadfast forebears, and the indefatigable Canon Callebert and themselves in the full flush of their faith free from fear.

It is sad that shortly after the opening the Smiths, the Catholic family in Egton Bridge for over 300 years and the Elwes of the estate gave up their possessions. It was during the tenure of their successors that the efflux of the long established families speeded up and in the latter days of that tenure the Mass house was rebuilt.

Some few years ago, 1955 to be exact, the lovely little church of St. Anne's, Ugthorpe, just off the moortop, celebrated its centenary. Its "new chapel" was opened in 1810. The old chapel whose thatch had been replaced with tiles by Father George Leo Haydock in 1803 being supplanted. Its second "new chapel" was opened on April 15th 1830.

An excellent little booklet by the then (1955) parish priest, Father Patrick Bluett, commemorates the event and gives considerable space to historical information.

Only this year, 1967, during alterations to the altar at St. Hedda's in preparation for its centenary, a notebook containing the names of subscribers was discovered carefully suspended within its timbers to avoid mouse damage. The same has not been seen by the writer.

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In the middle and late eighteenth centuries the sleepy fishing village of Whitby awoke to the rising importance of improved shipping and basked in the fame of Captain James Cook and William Scoresby, explorers of great renown. Still no facilities for Mass were there so that complaints are sent to York by the curate of Whitby about, "Ye perversion of Mr. John Brekon master of a ship of 120 tons, and of his having been to hear Mass at Egton." This was somewhat earlier being dated 25th January 1736.

Whilst the first-named explorer sailed round the world and brought knowledge of the South Sea Islands, the second explored the northern waters, and so Whitby and whalers became synonymous. Hence it is not so surprising to find Ambrose Lyth, the probable forebear of the Cucketnook Lyths, down in the Whitby parish recusant returns of 1735 as a carpenter. However this may or may not mean that his trade meant that he was a ships carpenter, but it does mean that he was a recognised recusant. His wife Mary is possibly the widow who died in 1762 and whose Will reveals that at least one of her children married into the staunch Catholic family of the Harrisons, domiciled in the hamlet of Greenhouses. This is confirmed in the registers of Father Hervey of Ugthorpe, where it relates that John Harrison married Helen Lyth of Cucketnook on February 12th 1740 some six years after the priest's arrival there.

It appears that the French Revolution in reality set the church going again in Whitby as it dates from 1794; it was a direct cause of the founding of Ampleforth in 1802 and of Ushaw in the same year. However, the greatest single cause of change in the tightly knit Catholic community of the moors and dales was the advent of the railway. This came first as a horse drawn link between Malton and Whitby and later the link up between Whitby and Middlesbrough with steam trains in 1868.

It might be well to remark that apart from a ruined monk's cell, Middlesbrough did not exist before 1824 and a two stage coach and four service existed between the important seaports of Sunderland and Whitby, taking the whole day it seems. The route was Sunderland, Stockton, Thornaby, Acklam, Ormesby - 1st stags, and Ormesby, Guisborough, Whitby - 2nd stage.

The discovery of iron in the surrounding hills caused phenomenal development in Middlesbrough and consequent opportunities for work. These facts, added to the opening up of the area by the railway, and coincidental with a local Catholic population explosion both scattered the families and brought strangers in, and at the same time changed the time honoured occupations of tailor/weaver into minor/railway labourer. Unfortunately this was accompanied by a falling off in the faith of very many in exactly the same way as we see it today, the change from the slow and careful rural life to a fast and carefree industrial one being so fraught with danger as to be often fatal.

Several uprooted families sought new homes in America and Australia, helped by the occasional "Gold Rushes". Others spread all over Teeside and South Durham in the coal and iron mines or found employment in the towns. It is always the source of great lament to the present writer to hear often some such remark by some Teeside citizen bearing one of the honourable recusant names, "I am not a Catholic but my grandfather was." Take the fact of the two Mary Harrisons in my maternal ancestry. The first had 16 children; most of all I know had Catholic baptisms. Of the hundreds of descendants most of whom I don't now know, only those of the 16th child still cling to the faith of their fathers. On the other side, the other Mary Harrison had 6 children to reach adulthood and raise families of their own. Only one, my maternal grandmother, has Catholic descendants today.

This lamentable fact is by no means appreciated either by the clergy who have too many financial distractions or by the laity who for the most part "couldn't care less". Yet it is rendered far more startling by the knowledge that very few of the large families in the newly emancipated church in the last century failed to have one or more of their number fall away when they, so to speak, left the nest. The facts are there to prove it in the parish registers. It had started long ago as the reference earlier indicated "N & N out of the church".

It brings one well nigh to despair to associate this evidence with that of today likewise not fully faced up to, when some, emboldened by the need for action, dare to risk virtual excommunication and whisper "The lapsation rate from our Catholic schools is around 50%." A well known Member of Parliament, a one time pupil of mine, whose words I have no reason to doubt, asserts that in some areas it is in excess of 70%.

There is, therefore, no room for complacency in the increasing Catholic population (based on Catholic baptism figures). England could have produced double the present numbers if "England's sons to truth had stood with Faith's bright banner still in hand", even if the faith of their grandparents had been kept.

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