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The Birtwhistles of Craven and Galloway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dynasty of Craven cattle drovers

 

Perhaps the most iconic feature of the Yorkshire Dales is its dry stone walls, largely built to cater for an influx of Scottish droving animals in the second half of the 18th century. Few records survive of the drovers whose arduous task it was to bring their animals into Craven, but THE BIRTWHISTLES OF CRAVEN AND GALLOWAY describes the story of an extraordinary dynasty of Craven drovers whose records do survive. Their records provide therefore a memorial to both the Birtwhistles and to the many other drovers whose lives were never recorded. For nearly three quarters of a century, John Birtwhistle and his three drover sons ran possibly the largest cattle business of their time, bringing Scottish and Irish animals into Craven on their way to southern markets. The profits from this business enabled them to become significant industrialists in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution.

 

Other members of the Birtwhistle family had equally illustrious if less conventional careers. John Birtwhistle’s son-in-law, John Vardill, was rewarded by George III for his enterprising and successful spying activities against the French and Americans during the wars with France and America, and John Birtwhistle’s grand-daughter, Anna Jane Vardill, who inherited much of the Birtwhistle estate in Craven, was a prolific writer in Regency London; some of her published work on a Craven theme was written when residing at the top of  Skipton High Street, and is reproduced for the first time since the beginning of the 19th century in this book.

 

Much of what we know today about the lives of the Birtwhistle family comes from one of the most lengthy and celebrated inheritance disputes of the 19th century. The eventual judgement in the House of Lords in Birtwhistle versus Vardill was sufficiently important to have changed the law of inheritance in England, and to have been built into the constitutions of a number of other countries, including the constitution  of the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover

Contents

Introduction

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