« AnteriorContinuar »
tested the right of the Cliffords, though their superior lords, to hunt within the township of Rilston, under the plea that it was not included within the forest of Skipton ; and being lords of Rilston and their lands, consisting of more than one thousand acres, and situated in the very centre of the barony of Skipton, they had it in their power greatly to annoy the first and second earl of Cumberland, by disputing their boundaries, and impounding their deer. The Nortons also were rigid catholics, whilst the Cliffords were friendly to the Reformation, and to the government as then established; a difference which tended strongly to widen the breach between them.
To such a length, indeed, had the animosity of Richard Norton arisen, that he built on his lordship of Rilston near Crookrise, on a point of ground commanding a most extensive prospect, and overlooking an immense pound for deer in the glen beneath, a strong square watch-tower, three stories high, with walls four feet thick, and protected by two deep ravines, the ruins of which, exhibiting breaches on every side which had been forcibly made by the opposite party, still remain to attest
the vexatious warfare which formerly subsisted between the two families.
A few years after the ruin of the Nortons, and the attainder of their property, which ultimately fell into the hands of the Cliffords, a circumstance is said to have occurred which throws an air of wild and tender romance over the fate of the lords of Rilston.
At this time a white doe, say the aged people of the neighbourhood, long continued to make a weekly pilgrimage from Rilston over the fells to Bolton, and was constantly found in the Abbey church-yard during divine service; after the close of which she returned home as regularly as the rest of the congregation.
“ This incident,” observes Dr. Whitaker, “ awakens the fancy. Shall we say that the soul of one of the Nortons had taken up its abode in that animal, and was condemned to do penance for his transgressions against the lord's dere' among their ashes ? But for such a spirit the wild stag would have been a fitter vehicle. Was it not then some fair and injured female, whose name and history are forgotten ? Had the milk-white doe performed
her mysterious pilgrimage from Etterick forest to the precincts of Dryburgh or Melrose, the elegant and ingenious editor of the Border Minstrelsy would have wrought it into a beautiful story
It is scarcely necessary to add, that this has been since done, and beautifully done, with all that pathos, simplicity, and enthusiastic fervour of description, for which his poetry has been so justly distinguished, by William Wordsworth, in his legend entitled The White Doe of Rylstone.
Henry, second earl of Cumberland, did not long survive the fall of the Nortons. He had been ill, there is reason to suppose, nearly a twelvemonth previous to his death ; for the preamble to his last will, dated May 8th, 1569, runs thus: “ Henry earl of Cumberland, then not healthful of bodye, gives his soul to Almighty God and our ladie St. Marie and all the heavenlie companye, and his body to be buried on the north side of the church of Skipton, in one place ther prepared for the same;" and on the 8th of the following January he expired at Brougham castle.
On the opening of the vault of the Cliffords at
* Whitaker's Craven, pp. 449, 450.
Skipton in 1803, it was found that the bodies had been deposited in chronological order, the third in the series being “the lady Ellenor's grace, whose coffin was much decayed, and exhibited the skeleton (as might be expected in a daughter of Charles Brandon and the sister of Henry the Eighth) of a tall and large limbed female. At her right hand was Henry, the second earl, a very tall and slender man, whose thin envelope of lead really resembled a winding-sheet, and folded, like coarse drapery, over the limbs. The head was beaten to the left side ; something of the shape of the face might be distinguished, and a long prominent nose was very conspicuous*."
Anne, the amiable second wife of the earl, survived him more than ten years, dying at Skipton Castle in 1581.
Whitaker's Craven, pp. 355, 356.
[To be continued.]
A life of action and adventure!
By his wife Anne, daughter of lord Dacre, Henry, second earl of Cumberland, had three children; two sons, George and Francis, and one daughter, Jane; and of these GEORGE LORD CLIFFORD, who was born at Brougham Castle in Westmoreland, on the 8th of August, 1558, succeeded his father as THIRD EARL OF CUMBERLAND, AND THIRTEENTH LORD OF THE HONOUR OF SKIPTON, at the early age of eleven years and five months. .
Having been betrothed by his father, when but seven years old, to a daughter of the earl of Bedford, this nobleman, anxious that the connexion should take place, petitioned and obtained from queen Elizabeth, only five days previous to the death of the earl of Cumberland, the wardship of his promised son-in-law.