[From Crosby Records, 1887]


[Inquisition at Wigan.-Mr. Blundell heavily fined.-Takes measures against distraint. -Unexpected visit of Sheriff's officers.-Cattle secured.-Disappointment of bailiffs and scujfle.-Summoned by Sir Ralph Ashton before Star Chamber.-Visit of Undersheriff with Mr. More and a company of 20 to distrain.-An old woman attacked and hurt.-Seizure of 35 beasts and two horses.-Attempted rescue by the villagers.-Value of goods carried off.-Twenty-nine swine taken.-Tries in vain to repurchase his cattle.-Had lent King .James 20 marks, which were never repaid. -Double subsidies.-Charge of finding a light horse.-Fined by Star Chamber £2000 for supposed riot, and making a burial ground for recusants.-Other villagers fined.-Margaret Blundell's narrative.-Letters of William Blundell the Cavalier. ]

Som of the troubles and persecutions Sustayned by William Blundell, Esq, for profession of ye Catholick faith.-(Continued.)

THE same yeare (1624) was an inquisition att Wigan, where, amongst many other Catholiks, William Blundell of litle Crosbie, esquire, [w]as found att a highe Rate, which as yet hee never knew what it was, yett, feareing the worst, hee caused his Cattell to bee carefully looked unto and keept close for feare of distraineing, till uppon the loth day of October in the yeare affore written, when hee received twoe sundrie letters from two severall frends that K James had forbidden and staide the proceeding of the said Comission, there uppon presently hee caused his Cattell to bee turned into theire pastures, but presently after uppon the same day the servants of the said Wm Blundell and other hyred folkes being laboureing in a field far from the Hall, a man of an other towne came rydeing by them and called uppon them, and tould them the Sherifes balies wear att hand; the servants forth-with came to fetch the Catle unknowing to theire master, and brought thë into a strong walled Cort before the hall dore. And as they were driveing them into the Court they sawe the sherifes balives come runing towards them, but the beastes and all the men, excepting three who had not tyme for it, weare gotten into the Court and the doer fast made before the balifes came to. And these three men turned backe againe, and staide in the way short of the oxehouse, and not haveing anie weapons but litle staves.

The balies, when they found the court gate made, they went sweareing towards the three men afforesaid, where one of the three was with a litle stake of two yeards long and a grained picke in the one end of it in his hand, to whom they gave ffowle and threatning speeches, comeing towards them one of the balives haveing-a- Javelin in his hand : the man, feareing they would strike him, bade them keepe them offe from him; but they comeing still uppon him hee thurst att one of them, and hitting him upon the breast the one graine pearsed the fleash a litle, but not with anie danger ; the sonne of him who was hurt stepped towards the man who gave the thurst, and receaved of him a blowe of the head that brought him downe, and riseing againe received an other blowe on the shoulders that made him to reele. And this was all the blowes and hurt that was done att that tyme, and all done by one onely man. Mr. Blundell not knoweing of it, neither knoweing of the balies coming till hee sawe the Catle within the Court, hee beefing in the house, and therefore could give noe direction in these busines.

Imediatly after this Sr Raphe Ashton served Mr. Blundell and his wyfe and divers others to appeare in the Starre Chamber uppon a Ryott and Rescowe whereof 8 have put in theire answers and depositions to certaine Interogatories, and thereby cleared themselves, yet notwithstanding hee prosecuteth still against some others, and hath served an ould womá about the age of lxx years to appeare in the Starre Chamber att Michaell-mas terme next.

Uppon St. Lawrance day yearely in the morneing, when Mr Blundell was in bed, Mawdesley the under sherife, with Mr More and a companie of others to the number of 20 in all, came to litle Crosbie and disposed themselves, some to gather Catle together, others rideing in the lanes with drawne swoards in theire hands. The Sherife meeting an ould woman above 64 yeares of age with a Pitchfork in her hand to take- upp a boate of flaxe out of the reeting place as shee tould him, he comanded her to lay it downe, which shee did, then the sherife tooke it upp and gave it to one of his companie, who carried it away. Then Mr More coming to the sherife hee said, see you Mr More what a weapon this woman Carrieth, and hee knoweing her bade her goe home, then shee went on her waye upp the Lane, and the Sherife ridde after her, and overtakeing her brooke her head with the pumell of his swoard that the bloud ganne downe her face, whereuppon shee gave him fowle words. Then the sherife ridde to a yong man that stoode in the Lane with a Crabthorne

Cudgell in his hand, intending to goe aboute his businesse. The Sherife gave him fowle words and tooke his Cudgell from him, and stroake him on the backe with his naked swoarde flatt way, and then turned againe to the ould woman, who came bleeding after him, and called her Deme dyke (the name of a famóus witche), and setting the point of his naked swoarde to her brest, swore hee would strike her, and saide hee cared noe more for sticking three or iiij of them then to drinke when hee was drye.

Then the sherife stroake another man uppon his backe with his naked swoard, and pulled him by the heare of the heade before the Catle weare taken or anie thing done or spoken against them, and this was because hee would not runne soe fast as they would have him, they rideing, hee on foote.

When they had gathered the Catle together (viz. 35 beasts and 2 horses) without shewing anie authoritie, they drove them away when, as yong Mr Blundell with one man with him goeing to see for what cause they tooke those Catle (being his father's all but 2 kyne) and unsent of his father and unknowing to him, asked the Sherife uppon what cause hee tooke them, and willed him to stay at Sephton or in the way till such tyme as hee had spoken with his ffather to know his pleasure, and whilest hee had this talke with the Sherife, a number of yong men of the towne came to the other syde of the lane, and some into the Lane, and staide awhile there. But the sherife promising first to stay att Sephton for an answer made proclamation that every of the yong folks afforesaid should disperce and returne home or about theire law-full businesse, and soe yong Mr Blundell went home as fast as hee could and talked with his ffather, who said that hee had a generall pardon from our Soveraigne Lord K. Charles for all forfaitures incurred in K. James his tyme, and therefore hee thought himselfe freed from all seasures for anie Rents arreare or the forfeiture of his goods found by Inquisition at Wigan in the tyme of Sr Ralphe Ashton's being Sheriffe, which was two yeares before. This being the sum of his father's answer, ye sayd yong Mr Blundell hasted fast after them, but they had driven away the Cattell so fast that hee was forced to send a Protestant man, a Smith, to Ryde after them upon another man's horse, which was at his Smithie, to acquaint the Sheriffe with his father's answer.

But before hee could overtake them a Companie of yong rash fellowes to the number of 14 and noe more, whereof 4 or 5 never strocke Stroake, but onely went after the rest, ranne to stay the Catle, and, overtakeing them, fell to feight with them, where 2 of these yong men were dangerously wounded, and by the Sheriffe and his followers left for dead, some 7 of the sheriffes followers haveing broken heads, but without danger. The man who gave the most stroakes to the Sheriffes followers was eldest sonne to the widdow aforementioned, whose heade the Sheriffe broake.

The Catle the Sheriffe tooke at that tyme were worth above o13o, all which they praysed at £58 6s. 8d., amongest which Catle were two geldings, both which they praised to tos, and after sould the one of them to Thomas Hill Duxburie, malt maker, for £3 13s. 4d.

And since then the Sheriffes Baylife hath taken from Mr Blundell 29 swine, worth 1'28 at the least, but what they are praysed to by the Sheriffe is not yet knowen to Mr Blundell. Besides the great losse hee hath now and likewyse heretofore in his former trubles through want of the occupation of his Demaine haveing noe Catle to put into it, neither dare anie man score anie Catle into it for feare of distraineing. And all this notwith-standing, hee formerly (upon a privie seale) lent to King James oxx markes, which was never Repayde, and alsoe besides the payement of duble Subsidyes, &c. Att the last Parlament save-ing one appoynted to bee payd by Catholikes, hee is Charged with ye finding of a light-horse with his Ryder and all furniture Compleate, as alsoe 2 Pickemen and 3 Musketeares and theire furniture Compleate. And it is to bee Remembered that whereas Mr Roger Bradshaigh of the Haigh, Esq., in behalfe of Mr Blundell, his brother (in) )awe, did send to the sayd Mr Robert Modesley, under sheriffe, Requireing hee would bee pleased to let him have the bease or goods taken from his brother Blundell upon such a price as they were praysed to, hee, the under Sheriffe made answer yt if Mr Blundell should have anie benefit by it, hee should not have them.

Almost all above was taken out of certaine papers written by Peter Stock, an honest old servant to W. Blundell; yet som parts of these papers was writ by Will. Blundell whim seafe, whoe suffred these losses.1

That wch next followerh was added to one of ye same papers by ye hand (as I think) of Nicholas Blundell, son to ye said Will. Bl.,

But since hath Sr Raphe prosecuted a Ryott against mee, and I was censured in ye Starr Chamber to paye unto ye King £2000, and to ye balifes 200 marks, and after these costs were given by mee to Sr Ralphe fourescore pounds. Now the principal) Cause as it is Credibly thought that soe great a fine was imposed on mee, was, through the malitious informations of iudge Yelverton, who affirmed, amongst many other things most false, that my liveing was £1000 or neare £1500 yearely.

But I was not fined onely for the suposed Ryott, but alsoe for suffering a place of buriall in my Demaine at Crosby to such deceased Recusants as, dyeing convicted, where denied buriall at the Church; but within some few monthes after I was fined, I sent my sonne Nicholas Blundell to Whaley to Sir Ralphe Ashton, and agreed with him paying unto him and his balifes 6 score pounds for my selfe, but hee had £40 or above of some of the Towne of Litle Crosby, who were likwyse censured in the Starr chamber for the above sayde Ryott. Theire names were Edward Ryse, Richard Brough, John Longroe, Thomas ffarrer, and Ed. Brough. The two first were fined to the King in £500 a peece; the rest were in each £200, and to the Baylifes amongst them £80 which they Compounded as above sayde for £40 to the Baylifes.

It is to be remembred yt ye said Will. Blundell for many yeares next before his death payd £30 yearly for his composition at York.1

1 These remarks, inserted in the narrative, are in the hand-writing of William Blundell the 'Cavalier.'

[The following narrative is from the annals of the English Augustinian Convent at Louvain, where Mr. Blundell's daughter, Margaret, became a Nun] :-

"Upon the 29th of June, 1615, Margaret, daughter of Wm Blundell, Esqr of Little Crosby, Co. Lance, was professed at the Augustinians at Louvain, taking the name of Winifred, being then 23 years of age. She died 5th April, 1647. Her father was a constant Catholic, who suffered very much for his conscience, and his father died in prison for having had a Priest taken in his house. They then proceeded according to the rigor of the law against his son ; but he, at the cost of his purse, managed to escape their hands for that time. Yet he afterwards suffered many troubles and molestations, so that he was often forced to lie all night in the open air, when his house was beset by pursuivants ; who once (on the report of an apostate priest who betrayed all he knew of Catholics, he himself having turned minister) remained in the house for fourteen days together. On this occasion, though both Mr. and Mrs. Blundell had left the house before their arrival, yet at last the latter becoming weary of her long stay from home, put herself into the hands of the pursuivants, who threw her into prison, and although they had nothing to prove against her, and she got friends to speak to the justice in her behalf, yet did they keep her sixteen weeks in prison.

Many other troubles fell on them. Once in the absence of Mr. Blundell, he was proclaimed as archtraitor in the market place, on account of his faith and his absence from home, and they would have carried off his goods if he had not made his appearance, and by fines saved them. Another trouble befell him. A poor woman died in the parish, and because she was a Catholic, they would not bury her in the Churchyard, but in a great common, and they laid her so near the highway that the horses travelling along did almost dig the corpse up again ; which, being told to Mr. Blundell, he, for charity sake, enclosed a piece of ground of his own with walls. After this all the poor Catholics that died thereabouts were buried there, and amongst them some had stones on their graves with crosses, according to the Catholic manner, which were put there by their relations without the owner's consent, but with leave from his wife only. When at length about 80 had been buried there, the High Sheriff came with 30 men, pulled down the walls, knocking the stones to pieces, both those on the walls and those laid on the graves, carried away the crosses with much derision, having also dug up some part of the graves. All this was done with sound of trumpet, they both coming and going away with great pomp; and for permitting this place of burial Mr. Blundell was fined a thousand pounds, and, being condemned in a premunire, was made to pay a thousand more."

"Thus," continues the old MS., "doth Almighty God permit His faithful servants to suffer for Him awhile in this life that they may rejoice and triumph the more for ever in Heavenly Glory. For both this gentleman and his wife were good and virtuous persons, bringing up their children in the fear of God. One of their daughters wishing to be a religious, after some years of delay from accidental causes, was taken over by Mr. Worthington, who was conveying his daughter Anne to Louvain Convent, where they both entered together."


[William Blundell (the Cavalier) to James Scarisbrick.]

April 29, 1655.

In ye yeare 1611 a bitter storm of persecution extended its fury in these parts to ye bodyes of deceased Catholicks. The Churches in all places denyed them burial; som were laid in ye fields, som in gardens, and others in high-wayes, as it chanced. One of thes (as I have heard it credibly reported) being interred in a common lane, had her corps pull'd out by ye hoggs, and used accordingly. Hereupon, to prevent ye lyke for ye future, they was a part of ye demesne of Crosby inclosed by my grand-father Blundel for ye decent burial of such poore Catholicks as were otherwaies lykely to want it. When be stirred ye first earth in order to this smal enclosure, he found in ye grownd dyvers hundreds of old Saxon coynes, each about 3d or a groat in weight, and coyned by Christian princes. Many of them in ye Saxon character were inscribed with these words, Sancti Petei Moneta; we call them Peter-pence. Others were inscribed otherwaies, but all of them marked wth crosses, and ther were 20 severall distinct coynes at ye least. And because he knew well yt to reveile ye works of God was an honorable thing, he published the same in print, ye brazen cuts wherof are now extant wth me, and ye Copyes flew abroad in ye Country.

The valew of ye whole sum seemed equal as possible to ye expence of fencing, and of converting that smal parcel of land to yt particular use. So he had a tymely payment for all, and, as we have reason to hope, an eternall. But ye remarkable success was this: that a full company, consisting of a hundered and four upwards of faithful Christians, wth 6 or 8 valient leaders, having left in succeeding tymes their bones in that small field, it pleased ye King and ye Councel to take notice of it, and ye Sherrif wth ye Posse Comitatus was sent against them, whoe, content with dismantling ye walls, left ye poore excommunicated bodyes (though without further violence), yet subject to ye injuries aforesaid. This charity of my grandfather's, mistaken by his enemyes for a factious preventing of ye laws, and aggravated very much by other injurious circumstances, occasioned ye thunder of a dreadfull sentence against him from ye Star Chamber, wherby he was fyned in two thousand three hundred pounds to be paid to ye King and to his Officers; ye immediat effect was poverty and trouble ; ye future, security, plenty, and God's blessing to boote. He lived in all these respects to be truly happy, and to behold a far more dreadful judgment upon his potent oppressors.

[William Blundell (the Cavalier) to his son Rev. Thomas Blundell, S.J.]

December 29, 1686.

. . . In ye yeare 1611, when ye Catholicks wer denyed burial at Sephton, our parish Church, my grandfather William Blundel enclosed wth a dytch a parcel of grownd at + B for ye interment of such Catholicks as could not be allowed buryal at ye said Church. And when ye earth was removed for ye making of ye fence for ye new place of buryal, ther wer found about 300 pieces of ancient silver coyne, of ye valew of 6d a piece or less. Thes wer all of them stamped in ye reigns of Catholick Saxon Kings, and ther wer also found som few small pieces of uncoyned silver.

The coynes wer of many sorts, and all of them were afterwards expressed in a large brazen plate, printed and publickly sold, but ye characters wer so strange to me that I have not skill to read them. My grandfather was so pleased wth this unexpected gyfte from heaven, that he afterwards built a wall in ye place wher ye dytch was designed. Since that tyme ther have been interred in ye place above 100 lay Catholicks, besydes a dozen or 14 Priests. I have ye names of all in a little book at Crosby, and also ye brass plate abovesaid. But my grandfather paid dearly for it, for he was grievously fyned for making this new churchyard. A great number of ye aforesaid Coynes I had in my owne keepynge till ye year 1642, when I sent them into Wales for better security in ye tyme of War, wth writings and other goods, which wer finally lost ther. . . .

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