IN THE DAYS OF THE '15
 CLOSE on two hundred years back from the present time there stood far up the South Tyne, beyond Haltwhistle, on the
road—then little better than a bridle-track—running over the Cumberland border by Brampton, an inn
which in those days was a house of no little importance in that wild and remote country.
If its old walls could speak, what, for instance, might they not have told of Jacobite plottings? Beneath its
roof was held many a meeting of the supporters of the King "over the water," James the Eighth; and here,
riding up from Dilston, not seldom came the unfortunate Earl of Derwentwater, to take part in the Jacobite
deliberations. The young lord and the horse he usually rode were figures familiar and welcome to the country
folk around, and at the inn they were as well known as was the landlord himself. It was not long after a
secret meeting held here in the earlier half of the year 1715 that the warrants were issued which led to
Derwentwater's flight from Dilston, and precipitated the Rising that within a few months rolled so many
gallant heads in the dust of the scaffold.
It might perhaps have been better for Lord
 Derwentwater had he been less beloved in Northumberland, and had his devoted admirers been unable to send him
notice of the coming of the warrant for his arrest. He might not then have had opportunity to commit himself
so deeply; and there might have been a romantic and pathetic figure the less in the doleful history of that
unhappy period. As it was, he had time to get clear away, and was able to lie securely hid, partly in
farmhouses, partly near Shaftoe Crags, till the news reached him that Forster had raised the standard of
rebellion. On 6th October 1715, at the head of a little company of gentlemen and armed servants, he joined
Forster at Greenrig.
A poor affair at the best, this muster in Northumberland; and though the county was seething with excitement,
and a few notable men went out with the Earl, his personal following did not exceed seventy in all. Then
followed the march which ended so disastrously in pitiful surrender at Preston that fatal November day.
However gallant personally, Forster was an incapable soldier, no leader of men, and General Wills had but to
spread wide his net to sweep in the bulk of the insurgents—Forster, Derwentwater, Kenmure, Nithsdale,
Carwath, Wintoun, and men less exalted in rank by the score and the hundred. The bag was a heavy one, that day
of disaster to the Stuart cause; and alas, for many of those who filled it! Alas, too, for the wives and the
mothers who sat at home, waiting! Not to
 everyone was given the opportunity to dare all for husband or son; to few came such chance as was seized by
the Countess of Nithsdale, who so contrived that her husband escaped from the Tower disguised in woman's
clothing. It was boldly schemed, and success followed her attempt. Others could but pray to God and petition
the King. She not only prayed, but acted. Would that there might have been one so to act for Derwentwater!
More happy had it been, perhaps, for his Countess had she never uttered the taunt that ended his hesitation to
join in the Rebellion: "It is not fitting that the Earl of Derwentwater should continue to hide his head in
hovels from the light of day, when the gentry are up in arms for their lawful sovereign." They say that her
spirit mourns yet within the tower of Dilston.
Away up the valley of the Tyne, amongst the wild Northumberland hills, news went with lagging gait, those
leisurely days of the eighteenth century; even news of battle or of disaster did not speed as it is the wont
of ill news to do: "For evil news rides fast, while good news baits." Tidings, in those good old days, but
trickled through from ear to ear, slowly, as water filters through sand. Little news, therefore, of Lord
Derwentwater, or of the Rising, was heard in or around Haltwhistle after the insurgent force left Brampton; no
man knew for a certainty what fortune, good or bad, had waited on the fortunes of his friends.
 Night was closing down on the desolate Border hills on a drear November evening of 1715. Throughout a
melancholy day, clinging mist had blurred the outline of even the nearest hills; distance was blotted out.
Thin rain fell chillingly and persistently, drip, dripping with monotonous plash from the old inn's thatched
eaves; a light wind sobbed fitfully around the building, moaning at every chink and cranny of the ill-fitting
window-frames. "A dismal night for any who must travel," thought the stableman of the inn, as he looked east
and then west along the darkening road. No moving thing broke the monotony of the depressing outlook, and the
groom turned to his work of bedding down for the night the few animals that happened to be in his charge. They
were not many; most of those that so frequently of late had stood here were away with their owners, following
the fortunes of the Earl of Derwentwater; business was dull at the inn. Well, let the weather be what it
liked, at least the groom's work was over for the night, and he might go sit by the cheerful peat fire in the
kitchen, and drink a health to the King—the rightful King, God bless him; and it was little harm,
thought he, if he drank another to the Earl—whom might the Saints protect.
Even as he turned to go, in the dusk at the door, framed, as it were, in a picture, there appeared a horseman
leading a tired horse, the reins loose over his arm. Though seen only in that half light, the
 outline of man and beast were familiar to the stableman. Both seemed far spent; the horse held low its head,
and sweat stood caked and thick on neck and heaving flanks, and dripped off inside down by the hocks.
"Ye've ridden hard, sir," said the groom, bustling forward to take the horse.
The stranger said no word, but himself led the tired animal into an empty stall. Yet, as the groom remembered
later, of the other horses in the stable, not one raised its head, or whinnied, or took any notice whatever as
the new-comer entered.
The stableman turned to lift his lantern, and when, an instant later, he again faced about, he stared to find
himself alone; the strange horseman was nowhere to be seen. And the horse in the stall? Him the groom knew
well; there was no possibility of mistake; it was the well-known grey on which Lord Derwentwater had ridden
away to cast in his lot with Forster.
"Mistress! Mistress!" he cried, hurrying into the house, "has his lordship come in? He's led his grey gelding
into the stable the noo, and niver a word wad he say to me or he gaed oot. An' I'm feared a's no weel wi' him;
he was lookin' sair fashed, an' kind o' white like."
"His lordship i' the inn? Guide us!" cried the landlady, snatching up a tallow dip and hurrying into the unlit
 "Ye hae gotten back, my lord? And is a' weel wi' your lordship? And—e-eh! what ails—?" she gasped,
as a tall figure, seated in the great oak chair by the smouldering fire, turned on her a face wan and drawn,
disfigured by bloody streaks across the cheek. Slowly, like a man in pain, or one wearied to the extreme of
exhaustion, the seated figure rose, stood for a moment gazing at her, and then, ere the landlady could collect
her scattered wits, it had vanished. Vanished, too, was the grey horse that the groom had seen brought into
the stable; and, what was more, the bedding in the stall where the animal had stood was entirely undisturbed,
and showed no trace of any beast having been there.
It was long that night ere anybody slept within the walls of the old inn, and broken was their sleep. None
doubted but that the Earl was killed, or if not killed, at least soon to die; and the news of Preston, when it
came, was to those faithful friends no news, only confirmation of their fears. None, after that, dared hope;
they knew that he must die. And the 24th of February 1716 saw a countryside plunged in grief, for that day
fell on the scaffold the head of one whom everybody loved, who was every man's friend, who never turned empty
away those who went to him seeking help.
Blood-red were the northern lights that flashed and shimmered so wildly in the heavens that night, red as the
blood that had soaked into the sawdust of
 a scaffold; never before in the memory of living man had aurora gleamed with hue so startling. But the sorrow
in the hearts of his people passed not away like the fading of the northern lights. His memory lives still in
Northumberland; still, when they see the gleam and flicker of the aurora, folk there call it "Lord
Derwentwater's Light"; and even yet it is a tradition that dwellers by the stream which flows past Dilston
were wont to tell how, on that fatal day, its waters ran red like blood.
When "a' was done that man could do, and a' was done in vain," there remained but to convey his headless body,
if it might be, to the spot where his forebears lie at rest.
"Albeit that here in London Town,
It is my fate to die,
O, carry me to Northumberland,
In my fathers' grave to lie."
The Earl's body had been buried at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and of those who went to recover it and to bring
it home, there was one famous in Northumberland story, Frank Stokoe of Chesterwood. A remarkable man was
Stokoe, of enormous personal strength and of great height—in stature a veritable child of Anak—a
man without fear, brave to recklessness, a good friend and a terrible enemy. Added to all this, he was an
extraordinarily expert swordsman. He was a man, too, of much influence and
 acknowledged authority in the county—a useful man to have on the side of the King—one to whom the
people listened, and to whom often an appeal for help was made in ticklish affairs.
There was, for instance, that affair of the feud between Lowes of Willimoteswick Castle and Leehall of
Leehall, which kept a great part of Tynedale in hot water for so many years. Leehall appears to have been
physically the better man; at any rate, on more than one occasion Lowes seems to have escaped from the
clutches of his enemy solely by the superior speed of the horse he rode, or possibly he was a light, and his
enemy a heavy, weight, which would make all the difference in a rousing gallop across deep ground or heathery
hill. In any case, as a general rule, Lowes was more often the hunted than the hunter. Yet, to the followers
of Lowes—there must always be two sides to a story—it was he, and not Leehall, who was the finer
man, for, of an encounter between the pair near Bellingham, when Lowes' horse was killed by a sword-thrust
directed at the rider's thigh, the old ballad says:
"Oh, had Leehall but been a man
As he was never ne-an,
He wad have stabbed the rider
And letten the horse alean."
But perhaps the animosity here shown to Leehall comes more from one who was a lover of horses—as
 who in Northumberland is not?—than from a partisan of Lowes. However, the feud ran on, year in, year
out, as is the custom of such things, and no doubt it might have been bequeathed from father to son, like a
property under entail, had it not been for the intervention of Frank Stokoe. Lowes and Leehall, it seems, had
met by chance near Sewing Shields, with the usual result. Only, upon this occasion, the former was possibly
not on the back of an animal the superior in speed and stamina of the horse on which Leehall was mounted. At
least, Lowes was captured.
But, having got him, his enemy did not proceed to cut him into gobbets, or even to "wipe the floor" with him.
Something lingering and long was more to his taste; he would make Lowes "eat dirt." With every mark,
therefore, of ignominy and contempt, he dragged his fallen foe home to Leehall, and there chained him near to
the kitchen fire-place, leaving just such length of chain loose as would enable the prisoner to sit with the
servants at meals. The position can scarcely have been altogether a pleasing one to the servants, to say
nothing of the prisoner. Doubtless the former, or some of them, may have found a certain joy in baiting, and
in further humiliating, a helpless man, their master's beaten enemy. Yet that pleasure, one would think, could
scarcely atone for the constant presence among them of an uninvited guest—a guest, too, who had not much
 choice in the matter of personal cleanliness. However, trifles of that nature did not greatly embarrass folk
in days innocent of sanitary science. As for Lowes, it must have been difficult so to act consistent with the
maintenance of any shred of dignity, or of conciliatory cheerfulness. If, for example, the cook should happen
of a morning to have got out of bed "wrong foot first," how often must the attentions of that domestic have
taken the form of a pot or a pan, or other domestic utensil, flung at his head. Here, no soft answer would be
likely to turn away wrath. On the spur of the moment, when a pot, or an iron spit, has caught one on elbow or
shins, it might not be altogether easy to think promptly of the repartee likely to be the most conciliating.
And he could not "make himself scarce." The situation was embarrassing.
Now, the law, in those breezy times, took small cognisance of such little freaks as this; the law, indeed, was
pretty powerless up among those wild hills. It wanted some force stronger, or, at all events, some force less
magnificently deliberate, than that of the law.
Frank Stokoe was that force. To him went the friends of Lowes; and next morning saw the peel tower of Leehall
besieged. Frank demanded the surrender of Lowes, uninjured. Leehall retorted that he might take him—if
he could. But Leehall had reckoned without his retainers; they dared not fight
 against Frank Stokoe. So they said. But was it not, in reality, a sort of incipient Strike? Did they, perhaps,
being wearied of the somewhat tame sport of baiting him, think the opportunity a fitting one to get rid of
their uninvited guest for good and all? In any case, before an hour had passed, Leehall found it convenient to
hand Lowes over to Stokoe, who safely deposited him by his own fireside at Willimoteswick, and the feud was
pursued no further.
Whether or not Leehall was content to have thus played second fiddle, one does not know. Perhaps it was his
men who, a year or two later, paid a nocturnal visit to Stokoe's peel tower. Frank was roused from sleep one
winter night by his daughter, who told her father that some one was attempting to force the outer door. Stokoe
stole quietly downstairs, to find that some one outside was busy with the point of a knife trying gently to
prise back the great oaken bolt which barred his door. A very little more, a few minutes longer of work, and
the beam would have been slid back, the door would have been quietly opened, and the throats of all the
occupants of the house might have been cut. Whispering to his daughter to stand behind the door, and softly to
push back the bolt each time the attempt was made to prise it open, Frank snatched down, and loaded with
slugs, his old musket. Then very quietly he let himself down through the trap-door into the cow-house, which
in all, or nearly all, old peel
 towers formed the lower story of the building. Cautiously unclosing the door of the cow-house, which opened on
the outer air close to the flight of stone steps leading up to the main door of the tower, he stepped out.
There, plainly to be seen at top of the stair, were several men, busily employed in trying to gain an
"Ye bluidy scoundrels," roared Stokoe, "I'll knock a hole in some o' ye that the stars will shine through."
And with that he let drive at the nearest, the charge, at so close a range, literally "knocking a hole" in
him. Like a startled covey of partridges the remaining robbers fled, not only without attempting reprisals,
but without even waiting to use the steps as an aid to escape; they simply flew through the air to mother
earth and made tracks towards safety, anywhere, out of the reach of Frank Stokoe's vengeance; which perhaps
was the wisest thing they could have done, for Stokoe was the kind of man who in a case such as this would
willingly have knocked a hole in each one of them. In those days people were not very squeamish, and Stokoe
seems to have gone quietly back to bed without greatly troubling himself about the slain robber; but the man's
friends must have stolen back during the night, for in a copse near by, in a shallow grave hastily scooped out
of the frozen earth, the dead body was found next day.
 It is almost needless to say that Frank Stokoe was of those who would be certain to concern themselves in an
enterprise such as the Rising of 1715. His sympathies were entirely with the Stuart, and against the
Hanoverian King. Moreover, though he owned his peel tower and the land surrounding it, he was yet, as regards
other land, a tenant of the Earl of Derwentwater, as well as being a devoted admirer of that nobleman.
Naturally, therefore, when the Earl took the field, Stokoe followed him; and had all been of his frame of
mind, there had been no ignominious surrender at Preston. Whilst fighting was to be done, no man fought so
hard, or with such thorough enjoyment, as Stokoe. "Surrender" was a part of the great game that he did not
understand; he was not of the stuff that deals in "regrettable incidents." At Preston that day, when all was
done, there stood King George's men on either side, as well as in his front; in his rear a high stone wall,
even to a man less heavily handicapped than he by weight, an obstacle almost insurmountable. But his horse was
good—Stokoe's horses had to be good—and it knew its master. Never hitherto had the
pair refused any jump, and they were not like to begin now. With a rush and a scramble, and the clatter of
four good feet against the stone coping, they were over; over and away, galloping hard for the North Countrie,
the free wind whistling past their ears as they sped, Stokoe throwing up his arm and giving a
 mocking cheer as each ineffective volley of musketry from the troops spluttered behind him; and the great roan
horse snatched at his bit, and snorted with excitement.
Yes, that part of it was worth living for, and the blood danced in the veins of horse and man while the chase
lasted. But what of it when once more the hills of Northumberland were regained, when the great moors that lay
grim and frowning under the dark November skies were again beneath his horse's feet? It was a different matter
then, for the hue and cry was out, and the earths all stopped against this gallant fox. Chesterwood was closed
to him, no friend dared openly give him shelter.
"He had fled, had got clear away to France," was the story they gave out. But Frank Stokoe all the time lay
snug and safe in hiding, not so very far from his own peel tower. And he was one of those who,
disguised—perhaps in his case not very effectually—ventured to London, intent on bringing back the
body of their chief, that it might lie at rest in the grave where sleep the fathers of that noble race.
There, in London, Frank narrowly escaped being taken. As it chanced, at that time an Italian bravo was earning
for himself an unsavoury notoriety by going about boastfully challenging all England to stand up before him to
prove who was the better man. He would mark his man, pick a quarrel with him, and the result was always the
 Italian's trick of fence was deadly, his wrist a wrist of steel. None yet had been able to stand long before
him; not one had got inside his guard.
As he walked once near Leicester Field in the dusk of an evening, Stokoe's great figure caught the eye of this
little Italian, in whose mind suddenly arose the irresistible longing to bring this huge bulk toppling to
earth. That would be something not unworth boasting about—that he, a sort of eighteenth-century David,
should slay this modern Goliath.
No one had ever been able to complain that it was difficult to pick a quarrel with Frank Stokoe. Not that he
was quarrelsome—far otherwise; but never was he known to shrink from any combat that was pressed on him,
and on this occasion the venomous little foreigner found him most ready to oblige. It wanted but a slight
jostle, an Italian oath hissed out, a few words in broken English to the effect that big men were proverbially
clumsy, and that bigness and courage were not always to be found united. Stokoe knew very well who his
assailant was, knew his reputation, and the slender chance the ordinary swordsman might expect to have against
this foreigner's devilish skill, but his weapon was unsheathed almost before the Italian had ceased to curse.
Cautiously keeping a check on his habitual impetuosity, calling to his aid every ounce of the skill he
possessed, and content meanwhile if he could evade the vicious thrusts of his enemy, Stokoe for a
 time kept the fiery little man well at bay. Irritated at length by the giant's coolness, and by finding him,
perhaps, not quite so easy a conquest as he had anticipated, unable to draw him on to expose himself by
attacking, the Italian for a moment lost patience. None other in England had given him so much trouble. It was
time this farce ended; he would spit the giant now. Once, twice, thrice—it was with the utmost
difficulty that Stokoe saved himself from being run through the body, and once the sword of his enemy went
through his clothes, grazing his ribs, and sending a warm stream trickling down his side. Then, suddenly,
again the Italian lunged. This time it surely had been all over with Stokoe. But the foot of the hectoring
little foreigner slipped, or he stumbled owing to some slight inequality of the ground. For a single instant
the man was overbalanced and off his guard, and before he could recover, Frank Stokoe's sword passed through
his body, sending out of this world one who whilst in it had wrought much evil.
"Well done, Stokoe! Old Northumberland for ever!" cried a voice from amongst the considerable crowd of
spectators who had run up before the fight had been in progress many seconds. "Well done, Stokoe!"
Here was danger greater even than that from which he had but now escaped. He was recognised! And for him to be
recognised in London probably
 meant instant arrest, and an almost certain end on the gallows. He was too deeply involved in the late
Rebellion; King George's Government would show him as little mercy as they had showed to his chief.
Stokoe glanced round uneasily as he wiped his sword, but it was not possible to say which in the group of
spectators was the man who had given that compromising cry; it might be one of several who, to Stokoe's
extreme discomposure, seemed to look at him rather intently. Time to be out of this, thought he; the farther
he was from London the more freely he would breathe just at present, and the less chance was there of that
breathing being permanently stopped. Policemen had not been invented in those days, and there was not much
chance of his being arrested for duelling, for what was then called "the watch" was singularly inefficient,
and seldom to be found when wanted. Nevertheless, it was now no easy matter for Stokoe to shake off the little
"tail" of admirers who insisted on following him; it was not every day that they had the chance of seeing a
man killed in fair fight, and they were loth to lose sight of the man who had done it—a hero in their
eyes. However, by dint of plunging down one narrow street and up some other unsavoury alley, and repeating the
manúuvre at intervals, blinding his trail as far as possible, he at length shook off the last persevering
remnant of his admirers, and,
with-  out being tracked or shadowed, gained the shelter of the house where he lodged. A few days saw him and his
friends safely out of London, bearing with them the body of the Earl of Derwentwater, which was later buried
Frank Stokoe's position was an unfortunate one from now on. He was a proscribed man; his property had been
seized, and those now in possession threatened if he put in an appearance, or made any attempt to regain the
property, that they would give him up to Government. Times consequently became hard for poor Stokoe; his
affairs went from bad to worse, and though his name was included in the general pardon which Government issued
some time later, he never got back his land nor any of his possessions. Part of the land passed with the
Derwentwater Estate to Greenwich Hospital, part, including the peel tower, where he and his ancestors had
lived for generations, remained in the clutches of those who had seized it. Old age came upon Frank and found
him poverty-stricken; want came, "as an armed man," and found him too weak to resist. The spirit was there,
but no longer the strength that should have helped the spirit. He sank and died, leaving behind him no shred
of worldly gear.
Another noted Northumbrian who was "out" in the '15 was him whom men then called "Mad Jack Hall" of Otterburn.
Not that he was in any sense
 mad, or even of weak intellect—far from it; the name merely arose from the fiery energy of the man, and
from the reckless courage with which he would face any danger or any odds. As a man, he was extremely popular,
and no one could have been more beloved by his dependents. His fine estate he managed himself, and managed
well, though before he went "out" misfortunes fell on him which no management could have averted. They were
misfortunes so crushing, and following so immediately on each other's heels, that amongst the simple country
folk they were looked on, and spoken of, with awe, as manifestly judgments from Heaven for some fancied sin
they supposed him to have committed. He might, people said, have prevented, but did not prevent, a duel which
took place in the streets of Newcastle, in which a very popular young man was killed. It was "murder," and no
fair fight, folk said; and, whatever the rights of the case, at least the successful duellist was afterwards
hanged for the murder. Hall's failure to interfere seems to have strained his popularity for a time. In such
circumstances people are prone to assume that an all-wise Providence, necessarily seeing eye to eye with them,
inflicts some special punishment on the person who has sinned some special sin, or who has, at all events,
done (or not done) something which, in the popular judgment, he should not have done (or done, as the case may
be). Misfortune or accident comes to some
 one who has roused popular clamour. "I told you so," cries the public; "a judgment!"
In this instance, the sin of not interfering to prevent a duel—or a murder, as popular opinion called
it—was punished, firstly, by Hall's house at Otterburn being burned to the ground, together with all his
farm buildings and great part of his farm stock; and, secondly, this grievous loss was followed in the time of
harvest by a devastating flood in the Rede, which swept away from the rich, low-lying haughs every particle of
the fat crops which already had been cut, and were now merely waiting to be carried home.
By such drastic means having apparently been purged of his sin, Mr. Hall seems to have regained his normal
popularity, and an incident which presently occurred raised it to an even greater height than before. As far
back at least as the time of Cromwell it had been customary to send offenders against the law, political
prisoners and the like who were not judged quite worthy of the gallows or the block, to what in Charles the
Second's day were called His Majesty's Plantations—our colonies, that is, in America or the West Indies.
Not only were "incorrigible rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars" thus dealt with, but those also who
attended illegal prayer-meetings found themselves in the same box if they happened to have been previously
convicted of this heinous offence; and the moss-troopers of
 Northumberland and Cumberland were treated in similar fashion when taken—deported from their own
heathery hills and grey, weeping skies, to the hot swamps and savannahs of Jamaica or Virginia. In the
beginning, those sentenced were merely compelled, under penalty of what Weir of Hermiston called being "weel
haangit," to remove themselves to the Plantations. Later, a custom sprang up under which criminals of all
sorts were delivered over by the authorities to the tender mercies of contractors, who engaged to land them in
the West Indies or America, it being one of the conditions of the contract that the services of the prisoner
were the property of the contractor for a given number of years. On landing, these wretched prisoners were put
up to auction and sold to the highest bidder—in other words, they were slaves. Many men made large sums
of money in this inhuman trade, trafficking in the lives of their fellow-countrymen. The thing at last reached
such a pitch that practically no able-bodied man was safe from the danger of being kidnapped, sold to some
dealer, and shipped off to slavery in the Plantations. That was the fate of many a young man who mysteriously
disappeared from the ken of his friends in those seventeenth- and eighteenth-century days. Once shipped to the
Plantations, the chance was small of a man ever returning to his native land. Fever, brought on by exposure to
the hot sun and heavy rain of a tropical
 or semi-tropical climate, took care of that; in the West Indies, at least, they died like flies. Not many had
the luck, or the constitution, of one Henry Morgan, who, kidnapped in Bristol when a boy and sold as a slave
in Barbadoes, lived to be one of the most famous—or rather notorious—buccaneers of all time, and
died a knight, Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica, and commander of our forces in that island.
It was "Mad Jack Hall's" fortune to save from this fate of being kidnapped and sent to rot in fever-laden
swamps of the West Indies a young Northumbrian at that time in his service. It was the time of year when
Stagshaw Bank Fair was held, and Mr. Hall, meaning to attend the fair, had instructed this young man to join
him there at a certain hour, and himself had ridden over to Corbridge, there to pass the night. In the
morning, when Jack Hall reached the fair at the appointed hour, he was astonished to find his servant, very
dejected in appearance, being led away in charge of a man on horseback. Hall questioned the lad, who
brightened up vastly at sight of his master, but could give no explanation as to the cause of this
interference. All he knew was that as he stood waiting for Mr. Hall, this man had ridden up, claimed him as a
prisoner, and was now marching him off. Hall looked at the mounted man, and recognised him as one of a family
named Widdrington, who claimed to be invested by the Government of Queen Anne with authority to arrest from
 to time sundry persons who, so far as the general public knew, were guilty of no crime, but who nevertheless
were in the end sent to the dreaded Plantations. These Widdringtons were greatly feared throughout the
countryside, but as they had always selected their victims from amongst people who had few friends, and who
were little likely to have the means of making any great outcry, no person of influence had yet been moved to
take the matter up, or to make troublesome inquiries.
Hall, however, was not the man to let his servant be taken without protest, even if this Widdrington really
had the authority he claimed to possess. But to all Hall's remonstrances Widdrington merely replied haughtily
that he was accountable to no one, save only to her most gracious Majesty the Queen; that he was there in the
execution of his duty, and that anyone interfering with him did so at his own peril. The situation was
awkward. On the one hand, if this man really was acting within his rights and in the execution of his duty,
then Hall himself was likely to get into serious trouble; on the other, he was not going to see a young man,
his own servant, a man, so far as he knew, innocent of all offence against the law, marched off in this way,
if by any means he might be saved. As mere remonstrances appeared to be of no avail, Hall hotly pressed his
horse close up to Widdrington's, completely barring his way, and demanded that, if he
 were really acting within the law, he should show his authority.
"This is my authority," cried Widdrington, drawing his sword.
"We'll soon prove whether that's strong enough," replied Hall, jumping from his horse and also drawing his
weapon. There was, as it chanced, close to the lane in which the two had been wrangling, a bit of nice level
ground covered with short, crisp turf, and to this Hall quickly made his way, followed by Widdrington and by a
crowd of people who had run up from the fair, attracted by the quarrel. A very few minutes sufficed to prove
that Widdrington's "authority" was not strong enough. He fought well enough for a time, it is
true, and his opponent had need of all the skill he could command, but within five minutes Hall had caught
Widdrington's point in the big basket hilt of his sword, and with a sudden jerk had sent the weapon flying,
leaving the disarmed man entirely at his mercy. That was enough to satisfy Hall, who was too much of a man to
push his advantage further. But it by no means satisfied the surrounding crowd of country people. By them
these Widdringtons had long been feared and detested, and only the belief in the minds of those simple country
folk that, in some mysterious way beyond their ken, the law was on the side of their oppressors, had on more
than one occasion prevented an outbreak
 of popular fury. Here, now, was one of the hated brood, proven to be in the wrong, and with no authority to
arrest beyond that bestowed by bluster and brute force. The air grew thick with groans and savage threats, and
a clod flung by a boy gave the mob a lead. In an instant sticks and stones began to fly. Widdrington was
unable to reach his sword or to get to his horse; there was nothing for it but to take to his heels, pursued
by a crowd thirsting for his blood. That was the last of the oppression of the Widdringtons; their horrible
traffic in human beings was ended, and none of them ever again dared show their faces in that part of the
As for Hall, henceforward an angel of light could not have been more highly regarded, and his fate, a very few
years later, brought grief on the county almost as universal as that felt for the Earl of Derwentwater
Hall was at Preston with Derwentwater, but he did not, like Frank Stokoe, ride for it when Forster
surrendered. One would almost have expected a man of his fiery, reckless disposition to have made a dash for
it, and to fight his way through or fall in the attempt. Perhaps he considered it a point of honour to stick
by his friends, and share their fate, whatever it might be. Anyhow, he surrendered with the rest, and with the
rest was condemned to death. Time after time he was reprieved, owing to
 the exertions of friends who happened to be high in favour with the Hanoverian King's Government, but time
after time he was recommitted, and finally Tyburn saw the last of poor "Mad Jack Hall." They hanged him on the
13th of July 1716.
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