A. D. 1688.
1688 was a memorable year. My first concern in it
was for fear of the loss of my beloved privacy, there being, it seems,
a project for new modelling the corporation. The places of such as were
to be ejected were filled up with the most rigid Dissenters, who had
put my name in the fag end of their reformed list, there being but one
(a smith by trade) after me, as I was told by Mr. S. J., who put my
name among the Aldermen, for which I was far from thanking him.
I can scarce forbear reciting a passage in a sermon of the incomparable Mr. Sharp, which he told them plainly, was the country's observation, concerning the generality of those of a middle sort in and about Leeds, that in a time of trade and plenty they carry it out in such an extravagant manner, as leaves nothing against a time of dearth and scarcity, wherein they find as little pity as formerly they paid respect to others. I would not be partial or too particular in my application of this to some good people. Only 'tis plain from hence, that when they thought their interest strong enough in the government, they were not content with their private stations, but were for ejecting ethers and making new models in-their addle noddles; but the public concussions that presently followed, put a happy period to their projects.
April 16th. I was at the funeral of the Right Honourable
Henry Lord Fairfax, the fourth Baron of that ancient and religious family,
where was the greatest appearance of the nobility and gentry that ever
I had seen: the poor wept abundantly,—a good evidence of his charity.
I waited upon the Lord Thomas, his son, and his uncle, Bryan Fairfax,
Esq. a gentleman of great accomplishments and reading. His compliment
of me to his nephew pleased me the best of any that I ever received;
" He speaks like his father;" to be like whom is the height
of my ambition.
Amongst others that came to see the Museum about this time were the Earl of Eglinton and Captain Montgomery, but I was most pleased with Mr. Hugh Brown, of Irwin, a gentleman who well understood the ancient coins and manuscripts.
Sept. 30th. After forenoon sermon, I rode with Mr.
Dixon, Ibbetson, to Tadcaster, to wait of Sir John Kay, where the freeholders
from several other parts of the West-Riding joining us, we were computed
to be 3000 in number, but no writs for election of Parliament-men being
produced, we returned home next day. A strange face of affairs presents
itself. We were told of an invasion from Holland, and that a Dutch fleet
was seen off Scarborough and Hull, but it proved to be at Torbay, where
the Prince of Orange landed the 5th November 1688. We underlings knew
not what to make of these affairs, nor is it iny design to intermix
public with my private memoirs, otherwise than as they were merciful
or afflictive to me and my family with the neighbourhood: therefore
shall take no notice of King James's abdication, the seizing of York
by the Earl of Danby, (afterwards Duke of Leeds) Lord Fairfax, &c.
or the reading in the Moot-hall, at Leeds, the Prince of Orange's declaration,
by Jasper Blythman, Esq. afterwards Recorder.
Only I cannot omit the dreadful alarm of the flying army of Irish, and massacring Papists, who with unheard-of cruelty burnt and killed all before them. Nottingham was by express said to be so treated, insomuch that all artificers, even the most precise, spent the next, though the Lord's-day (16th December) in mending the fire-arms of such as had any, and fixing scythes, &c. in shafts (desperate weapons) for such as had none. The Mayor's account of them, with original letters, sent express to this town from divers places, are in my Collection of Autographs. Watch and ward were kept every night by the principal inhabitants in their own persons, and despatches sent to bring intelligence, so that on Monday there were assembled at Leeds, about seven thousand horse and foot, in defence of their lives and liberties, religion and property, against those barbarous and inhuman wretches.
These were digested into several troops and companies, under Sir John Kay, colonel; Sir William Wentworth, lieutenant-colonel; Mr.Nevile of Chevet, major : it would be endless to enter into a detail of the captains and subalterns. Our fears were now somewhat abated, when all upon the sudden at night they were raised to the height upon a most dreadful alarm, " Horse and arms, horse and arms ! the enemy are upon us—Beeston is actually burnt, and only some escaped to bring the doleful tidings !" The drums beat, the bells rang backward, the women shrieked, and such dreadful consternation seized upon all persons; some men with their wives and children left all behind them (even monies and plate upon the tables) and ran for shelter to the barns and haystacks in the fields.
Their horror was so great and universal, that the aged people who remembered the Civil Wars, said they never knew any thing like it. Thousands of lighted candles were placed in the windows, and persons of any courage and consideration (if such a thing was to be found) ran with their arms to the bridge, and so marched towards Beeston ; so that in a very small time some thousands appeared, and I among the rest, with horse and arms ; and, blessed be God ! the terror disappeared, it being a false alarm, taken from some drunken people, who cried out horribly, murder ! murder!
I had left a cabinet with some of the most valuable moveables for my dear to cast into the well; but she had that presence of mind, after I was mounted and gone, to go up to the turret, and told the females Beeston was safe : for if but one house was on fire, it might be discovered there.
The town being pretty well satisfied, were generally gone to bed ; but about midnight was a more dreadful alarm than the former—a knocking at every door, " Fire ! Fire !" " Horse and arms ! for God's sake !" It was a piteous sight to observe the terror and confusion that all sorts of persons were now in. I was most concerned for my dear wife, who was in the family way; and when I was mounted again, I could see nothing but paleness and horror in the countenances of all men. Our scouts had brought word that Halifax beacon was burning as a general warning to the country, and that Halifax and Huddersfield were burnt. The first part was really true, though from a mistaken panic and fear, that had seized them as well as us.
But no enemy appearing near, and watch being set at several passes, I lay me down again, but with my clothes on; and when I awoke, rejoiced to see the light of another day, when my Lord Fairfax came to town with three or four troops of horse, completely armed, and we slept more securely, the expresses bringing pretended advice that the Irish were broke into parties and dispersed.
Upon the whole, this matter of the alarm, which was general, and spread over most parts of England, was managed so artfully, that even when all was over, I could never learn who was concerned, even in this neighbourhood.