Text of letter believed to be from John Birtwhistle (1791-1867) in Gatehouse of Fleet to his relative Margaret Birtwhistle (1846 -1888) in Rockwood, Skipton. (Margaret was the youngest daughter of Johnís cousin William Burton Birtwhistle (1812-1873))













Gatehouse of Fleet

29th June 1862


My Dear Madge Birtwhistle


You will be calling me a very ungallant old gentleman in allowing your letter to lay by for so long without an answer; I received it on the Monday, there is no post in or out here on the Sunday, had it come on that day I should have done it ready for the Monday mail to Skipton as I am now writing this for it.


You ask me my Dear Madge for that which I cannot well give you, there is no means here, and I never had my visage daubed on canvas or on card and mean it to remain so for I cannot see the use of a momento of a person such as I am; when he dies and put out of the way ĎAllí should die with him and be forgotten.


I am glad you have returned to enjoy the holidays at home where young life is best and happiest, and Johnny Mitchell has come home by this time fresh and in high spirits at being relieved for a time from the toil of study, and still worse, the confinement of school dress which is the heaviest burden for young boys, and girls too.


We had a grand fair here yesterday, it is a yearly one, but it is nothing now to what it used to be when the Birtwhistles held sway (ruled) in these parts; in those days the streets were crowded with people, young and old, who came in in all the glee of people bent on fun and frolic and determined to enjoy it, they came along in carriages and carts, on horse back with their wives behind them and those who could not afford such luxury came on foot; and what with horses and donkies, with ginger bread and sweeties to sell and with fiddling and dancing, the fair in times long gone by was a great treat to all the country round; but now, from its being a great horse and hiring fair, it has dwindled down to a few farmers in their gigs and carts and pedestrians from the neighbourhood, and not a horse to be seen for sale, it is melancholy to think on the changes that take place in the course ofyears. I myself always disliked all such gatherings and to be out of the way I spent most of the day in the Cally Avenue, a beautiful promenade half a mile long and within 200 yards of me, its trees and lofty spreading branches with their green fresh foliage meeting over head and the woods on either side completely shut out the summer sun, and the wind playing amongst the branches and fluttering the leaves make it a cool and refreshing retreat, and forms one of the most enchanting spots to be met with anywhere; indeed I admire it so much that it always tempts me back again Ė well I may be proud of Cally!


I imagine Poll will become a very conversable bird under your tuition, when you go out to saunter about the walks or to work amongst the flowers in your little garden by the wall, you should take it out too and let it amuse itself, it will become more familiar and learn quicker and better.


Now my dear Madge, if I have been tardy in answering your letter, I have made up I think in quantity in this reply, I must bid you Adieu with kind regards to all in Rockwood, and believe to be


Yours ever and ever

John Birtwhistle