1805 Info 9: John Crompton
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12th June 1944
My dear Peter,
I think it would be as well to begin with my pedigree.
The first Thos. Crompton never would say where he came from but he lived on the High Green at Bridlington, and was a corn factor, he married twice and when he died was buried at Bridlington Priory Church. The grave as far as I know is under the pews in the North side of the Nave. I don't know his first wife's name - his second wife was a Jordan of Speeton. As far as I know there were three sons to the first wife.
Thomas Crompton of Bridlington High Green, farmer.
Richardson Crompton had several sons and I cannot give their names - but he was my Great Grandfather I think I have made a mistake - the second Thomas Crompton was his son and when my Grandfather John Crompton of Thornholme and he were boys together they both went to Bridlington fair - the old man gave them 2/6 each to spend and the elder boy Thomas spent all his on sweets and fairings - John bought himself a hat. The old man their Grandfather had done this to test them and when he died it was found that by his will John inherited Little Houndales Farm - the other son Thomas only getting some few acres in Bridlington parish.
John Crompton son of Richardson of Thornholme had three sons - his wife was a Jefferson of Great
Houndales and he also had three daughters.
Thomas Crompton of Lowthorpe
Henry Crompton of Nafferton
John of Thornholme
Alice who married William Lovel of Scampston.
Polly or Mary married Craven Nicholson of Haisthorpe and Helperthorpe.
Annie who married Arthur Topham of Rowgate.
My father Thomas Crompton of Lowthorpe had 5 sons - 3 daughters
Thomas Crompton born Nov 21 1867 and farmed at Nafferton 24 years and at Cottam 7 yrs.
Charles W. Crompton born 1871 m. Lily Wright of Hedon farmed at Sleights, Lowthorpe Hall Green, Wakefield.
Mary Agnes born 1873 m. F. Tibbits of Hull
John Henry born 1875 killed about 1916 near Ypres in the War - bachelor.
Richard C. born 1876 a Miller - married - no family.
Margaret L. born about l879 married M. Duggleby of Davenport U.S.A.
Constance (Nelly) born 1881 died at Scarborough, about 20 years later.
Walter E. a bachelor engineer at Hull - Gainsborough and Newcastle on Tyne not married.
Arthur M. b 1887 Lives in London and is a traveller in paint also a bachelor.
My wife Mary Ellen (Nelly) was the daughter of James Elgy - Chemist, Driffield. We have three sons and three daughters.
Our eldest living daughter Edith (Popsy) married Donald Cranswick has three children and lives at Gisborne, New Zealand. Third daughter Catherine (Kitty) married Mervyn Parkin and lives at Totley Rise, Sheffield and has two sons. Third son Charles born 1906 engineer married Ruth Theskstone and has 1 boy, 1 girl and lives at Burton Agnes. F/Sgt. now in India.
My mother Margaret E. Crompton was the daughter of William Duggleby of Beswick her father and mother had over 50 Grandchildren so the Duggleby name should be carried on for many generations. They have farmed Beswick Old Hall farm for over 300 years.
Now to tell you something of my youth.
The first thing I can remember vividly is the shooting of a big old horse, a worn
cart horse named Tinker in our stackyard at Lowthorpe when I was about 4 or younger. The report
and the falling of the horse so frightened me that I ran crying into the house. I also remember a
similar one when in running round the stacks when the ground was black and muddy I fell into it
and came out with myface all muddy - old Bob Shipley a very deaf labourer saw me and screamed and
laughed at my plight. The old man was a character and could always hear if anyone asked him to have
This pony was very shifty. He could not be made to gallop always would trot which he could show his speed going quite easily along with my father's ride horse which was a fast trotter and it took all the men on this place sometimes to catch him - those mornings were always disastrous for me as he always went very fast for a short distance when I was mounted - then he stopped with his head between his legs and of course I came off. It was sometime before I mastered this habit. I also found out how to catch him. He was blind in one eye and I put the corn dish on that side of him slipping the halter over the mane at the same time.
Lowthorpe was a delightful place to live in there was a grand fishing stream in which we were not allowed to fish and the woods round were very fine - we loved to go into them when the primroses and violets were in flower, but we were only allowed in at these times and with the exception of the rook shooting time and foxhunting. Even later in life it was the same.
|The landlord, old Co. St. Quentin who had been in command of the l7th Lancers, was a very austere old boy and on the traditions of his family by expecting all his tenants to bow and scrape to him and we all did so. I remember when his son was 21 the tenants gave him a big party in a tent on the lawn in front of Lowthorpe Lodge. One incident I remember about that do - that was - I wanted badly to taste some peaches provided. The Stewards sons (the Piercys) tucked into them like anything but I was too shy to ask for one. Those Piercys were not shy at all, in fact whenever they had any visitors they nearly always brought them to our house to high tea, my mother was a noted provider Mrs Piercy was not. By the way we often had people to tea and often we went to see the other people.|
Above: Cottam House
I remember that the Jefferson's (Mr. J. was my father's uncle) often came but my mother and Mrs Jefferson were at daggers drawn and had lots of tiffs. They were both Dugglebys but of two different families. Mrs. Jefferson's people lived at Cottam the same farm as we lived at for 7 years.
As children we were all brought up very strictly particularly on a Sunday when all had to go to Church once a day - there was only Services on morning and afternoons alternately. All newspapers put away and we were not allowed to pull apples or any the fruit and everything was carried out in a similar way - truly Victorian weren't we - but such stricture led us on an afternoon when our parents were asleep to spend most of our time in breaking the Sabbath in their eyes. I remember there was an old cherry tree in the stackyard up which I spent a lot of my time. Likewise in the apple orchard, we were bad lads. I also remember getting my Father's stick for swinging underneath the wagons at harvest time which I'd been strictly forbidden to do.
After three years at Harpham school I was sent to Mr. Buyer at Monument House School Driffield when for the first year I had a bad time with a big fellow named Boast who took a dislike to me and gave me a rotten-time. Mrs. Buyer was a rotten cook and we lived very badly. My mother allowed me to take 5 eggs with me every week. I was weekly boarder and this helped to keep me fairly well but now-a-days I can see that it was very tantalising for the other boys.
While I was at this school we had some severe winters and I learned to skate on one skate all I could afford to buy at once and for several weeks the roads were like glass so I went home on a Saturday on my one skate - going about a mile out of my way in order to get the best road. This also saved my train fare and thus giving me the other 2d. to spend.
When I was 13 I was sent to Pocklington Grammar School and after the Driffield School it was like Heaven on earth. We had plenty of good plain food and what we thought most about - that out of school time up to 6 p.m. we were allowed to go into the town or where we liked in the country round. On Sundays we were only allowed to go back way into town to post a letter and I never knew a boy break that rule. I remember having a fight with a boy called Butt of York and he gave me a hammering. He was a slightly built fellow - somewhat like myself but 2 years older and more experienced as I found to my cost - however we were always good friends after that time.
Pocklington was a great sport's school as our 2nd Master Walters had been Captain of a Rugby Club in Wales and it was unbeatable so long as he lead it. He worked up our Rugby team until they were about the same - beating all other schools which they played. I once saw this master take the finest catch at cricket I ever saw he must have run at least 80 yds to take it and only just got it in his last stride.
We had a school sports every Summer and I won the 300 yds. under 14 in my first year, the second year I got nothing but the third year when I was head boy boarder I won the half mile, quarter mile and 100 yds. thus winning the head's prize of a silver cup and 2nd Masters prize (an album) for the quarter.
I left at the end of that term being nearly 16 years. Our second master had left the year before and his successor was no sports man so our football had deteriorated so much that we had no matches tho' we managed to play a few cricket matches with other schools and village teams. I was only in the second class, the first were reading for Cambridge.
July 27th, 1944
As it is a real wet day we haven't had one for many weeks I now take up my pen again.
The first work I was put to on leaving school for farm life was to dig up half eaten turnips for the sheep to eat. The field on which they were grown was a dark coloured rich loam and the white fleshed turnips had put their roots very deep into it, so they took a lot of dragging out. This business blistered my hands terribly even the old shepherd who was a quiet character had some blisters. He told me to rub them with the skin of bacon - which we call swarth. I did so but next day when I went to work I put on any old pair of gloves and these eased me somewh at. After helping with the harvest when winter was coming on I was put to the breaking in of two young horses and after that I began to work among the Hackneys generally having to ride out for exercise one or two every day but Sundays. As a rule I got up about 6 went and fed and watered my horses and then came in to breakfast about 7. As a rule I breakfasted alone until my brother Dick (9 years) younger than I, began to get up very early and disappeared somewhere until about my feeding time when he joined me - the rest came down at 8 or after as a rule. I found out in after years that Dick spent most of his early mornings in the woods bird nesting or chasing squirrels and small birds etc. He was never caught by keepers as far as I know.
About this time my father was getting to be well known as a breeder of sheep Lincoln, Leicester rams. He was a fine man well liked by everyone and far in front of his time as a skilled farmer. The rams which we called improved Leicester were the most remunerative of anything that we bred on the farms and we began by selling about 30 - 40 each year at Little Driffield Fair on l9th September. Of course I had help the old shepherd to trim the rams up ready for sale - but he did all the feeding and shepherding. About 1884 or 5 the price we got for them was over £10 each and that was the highest price of any in the East Riding. We put six rams in each pole wagon and in later days when we were selling 60 at the Fair our farm lads used to spend weeks in grooming and trimming and decorating their harness with ribbons, brass bells and brasses. One farm rivalled the other as to the best show they could make. Each wagon was up with two horses. My father being a good judge of them too - they always made a great show and were somewhat of a cheap advertisement.
About the year 1885 my father took Sleights Farm so then we had four farms -
Lowthorpe 420 acres about 188 grass.
Great Houndales 259 acres - 20 grass.
Little Houndales which he owned 106 acres - 14 grass and
Sleights Farm 260 acres 60 grass.
On the Lowthorpe Farm we kept 11 work horses and 11 on the two Houndales 7 on Sleights. These farms were stocked with about 60-70 cattle, 400 ewes and their produce and 50 pigs - besides a lot of young horses of various breeds - Hackneys hunters, Cart Horses and half breeds. I remember my father saying to me one day - "You must get out on to the land and see the working of it and not spend all your time with the horses and sheep." This was very good advice but I found in after life that I really ought to have had at least one year on the land ploughing, harvesting etc. I should have been given an interest in it that I never really got.
As time went on I began to show various animals - horses of course at some of the shows but I was never very successful - not having as much knowledge as I might have had. The first really good horse that we showed was a 2 year old Hachney stallion named Gordon - I've no doubt that he would have won his class in London. (My late Uncle John's horse Dorrington II won that year) but the vets turned him out for spavin - this was proved to be wrong later when the horse died in the following Summer. When our vet T. Brigham cut off his hocks and boiled them found all the bones came away free from disease. Our bad luck followed us when "All Fours" was shown in London he only got fourth place but was sold to the Duke of Marlboro for £350 which was £50 more than the winner was sold for and whose owner confessed he thought All Fours the better horse of the two. My brother-in-law's horse Lord Swanland was second and he also said All Fours aught to have won. This was about 1887 or 8. My brother Charley and I bought the horse back in 1891 for £200 and sold him within a week to Mr. Liversay for £310. A mare called Minstrel Maid was shown too but was only third. She was a good mare too and sold at my late father's sale in 1891 for 250 gns. Maritane too was a good mare she sold at the same time for 175 gns. She won with foal at foot at Bridlington in 1889.
We had three sales in all - one of Hackneys and sheep and two of general stock. There were 80 horses of various kinds about 1000 sheep and nearly 100 cattle and about 50 pigs. There were lots of pedigree stock - Hackneys - Imp. Leicester sheep, cattle and Berkshire pigs.
Going back to 1880 my father had a bad accident falling down a coal depot at Driffield Station one dark night. When he and Charley had been to a Conservative meeting at Driffield he missed his train and ran down the line to overtake it as it was shunting a horse box and thus lost his way. My father never really recovered from this accident - he was always partly paralysed down his right side and I had to begin to do most of the business. I had been put on to the Houndales Farms in Nov. 1887 doing the marketing of most of the produce of those two farms as well as buying in whatever was required and so was pretty well in touch with markets and sales of all kinds. In April 1890 my father died leaving T.C.Wilson, my mother and myself as trustees. (T.C. Wilson's mother was a Crompton).
I had most of the supervision of all our farms to do but was wisely advised by T.C.Wilson in nearly all the business I did. Farming was in a poor way in those days our labourers only getting about 15/- a week. We had a hind at Lowthorpe who boarded and fed the horse lads - getting 6/- to 7/- a week each for that. This hind and an old shepherd were two excellent servants separately but were always scrapping about something and coming to me with tales about each other and they had both been on the farms when I was only a lad each thought he could do as he liked with me. They annoyed me so much that I determined to quit them both and did so when we sold up. I've felt sorry many times that I did behave better to them but they were so jealous of each other that it was no use my trying to run them together and it would have been unfair if I had kept one and not the other.
You may guess that all this business together with the control of a family (my sisters and Mother) made me feel the strain of life to a degree as I was under 23 when my father died and though my advisor T.C.Wilson wasn't on the spot I managed to get through my work somehow. One generally manages to rise to an occasion. It seemed hard lines that all the work was not producing as much as I should have liked for the family. The harvest for the first year was good and the balance at the end showed a profit in spite of the low prices of corn prevailing at the time, but the second year was a rotter and all we had gained was lost and some more to it. However the third year did better again so when the sales came round we had a balance to the good again. The sales realized a good price in spite of the low prices prevailing at that time but the second year did better again so when the sales came on we had a balance to the good again. The sales realised a good sum in spite of the low prices prevailing and there was quite a good sum to divide among my brothers and sisters and which we as trustees under my father's will had to hold until each one reached the age of 23. At my father's death my youngest brother Arthur was only 3 years of age so you will see the responsibility we carried lasted a long time.
Of course there were many things I should have done differently if I'd been older and more experienced, but when the last item was paid off my mother and all my brothers and sisters made me a present of a handsome silver tea service as an acknowledgement for what I had done for them. They were all good hearted people and my wife and I have treasured their kind gift for the rest of our lives.
In these days the farming implements and other things were more primitive than they are now - to give you an instance the reapers we had were what we called round-a-bout and threw the sheaves off loose and they had to be tied up by hand, when all was in full swing in the harvest field I've counted up the number of men women and children on all four farms mounted up to somewhere near 100. We always had one gang of workers from Nafferton Binding up the sheaves and stooking. There was a gatherer, a band-maker and a tier to each lot - generally stack lots and they always brought several children with them. In very wet harvests when the corn was laid we employed about 500 men; to cut it with the scythe. They were paid so much an acre for doing the lot and two men as a rule did the stooking behind the gatherers.
All our horses were fed - groomed and driven by the lads - as we called them and who lived with the hinds on the different farms. We had 3 hinds - 1 Lowthorpe - 1 then 2 Houndales and 1 Sleights. Each lad did about four horses and they took a great pride in them - there was rivalry between the farms as to which could make the best show and this made the employees take a great interest in their work and I am afraid those days will never come back. My father was always very popular with his men and although he was fairly strict with them yet he often gave them small presents when they had done well for him. He never mentioned this to me or anyone else excepting of course our dear mother but she used to tell me some of the things he had done.
When the time came for the breaking up of Lowthorpe they were all very sorry to leave but it was inevitable under my father's will which only allowed us to carry on for three years unless we as Trustees took the responsibility for the profit and loss sustained. Mr. Wilson was inclined to carry on and risk it but I could not see my way to do so considering that I was married and with a family the risk was far too much in such time.
In 1893 I began farming the two Houndales on my own, my brother Charles did the same on Sleights
Farm and we gave Lowthorpe up. When this happened I felt as if a great burden had dropped off my back.
In those days of no motors nearly all my farming was done on horse back in the harvest time I was
often in the saddle 16 hours a day and generally one or two horses up for a time-being so you can
guess what it did to me though I was fairly (missed out E.C.) and very active at that time.
Right: Great Houndales, Nafferton
You will begin to wonder if I had any recreation in those times - Well I could generally get one day off a week in the winter to go out with the fox hounds either Holderness or Lord Middletons and enjoyed it very much. We also get a few dances but had to rive to these and back in the dark, we had no lights - in fact we preferred to do without them.
To resume July l5th and a wet day.
Then there was shooting beginning in May with rook shooting when Lowthorpe Wood usually provided about 50 dozen young rooks. All the Spring and Summer I generally carried a shot gun round the fields and generally brought a few rabbits, by the way my first gun was a single barrel muzzle loader. When I was 12 years so you may be sure I was very delighted when my father gave an uncle of mine £2 for a short barrelled breech loader - the barrels had been cut as the ends had been blown off in an accident. Rather wonderful to relate this gun was an excellent killer. When 1st. Sept. came the partridge shooting began and I was generally invited to shoot with friends 3-4 times in that month. The landlord at Lowthorpe reserved the shooting for himself and friends-so we could not entertain our own friends. When I went to Houndales I began to shoot over the small farm and the landlord there asked me to shoot with him. He was about 80 and soon began to ask me and other two friends to go over all his shooting and he was always very liberal in handing over some game. I was quite a good shot at walked up game but never very reliable at driven game. Early in the season we got quite a good bag of partridges up to 2 doz brace in a day but later on in the Winter time if we got more than a brace it was about all we expected. Never-the-less we enjoyed seeing the dogs. Them we also get a few hares and rabbits and anything else that turned up a snipe and odd pheasant and even a wild duck - also a few stock doves and plover.
When I began farming the two Houndales in 1893 I was short of capital and could not stock in a big way having to study how to invest every penny carefully. I began with 11 cart horses, 1 light horse and 1 old Hachney Mare Maria - about 3 cows 2 young cattle, 90 ewes and 40 gimmer hogs and a few pigs and poultry. Implements just sufficient to work the land. In talking over the methods of harvesting previous to 1890 I forgot to say that in 1891 or 2 we bought a self-binder and I bought it second hand at Lowthorpe sale. I remember that in my first Summer we had not plenty of sheep to graze all our clover seeds so I let one field to a friend to graze which he did with his gimmer shearlings. As far as I remember that was the only time I took other people's stock excepting that I had an arrangement with my brother Charlie that he should keep my young horses in Summer while I kept his in Winter.
We had a good harvest in 1893 but I had to pay for all the way going crop off the tillage land about 125 acres leaving me 90 acres of my own corn and most of this was second crop barley and the rest I had to dew with roots. I also had to pay all the valuations and find seed and manures etc. which left me with an adverse balance at the bank. 1894 was wet and a bad harvest with equally bad prices - wheat went down to 18/- a Qr. and other cereals on an equal levels. I remember that my overdraft at the Bank was over £1,000 and then the manager told me I must pay some of it. This I managed to do with my wife's help - it was fortunate for me that she had something to draw on particularly now as we began to have a family and these too were to provide for. However in 1895 things improved a little and wheat went up to about 25/- per Qr. and barley did a bit better tho' the crops were not heavy. I managed to get a fair price for my sheep and also got a nice profit on my cattle and had a horse or two to sell as well, I'd bought some young ones.
Then came the real turning point in 1896 we had a topping crop of wheat most of it did 8 Qrs. per acre - the barley also did well in spite of still low prices. All this time the labourers wages were only 15/- per week and 1/- extra for Sundays. They got about £1 per week for a month in harvest - together with his food and a liberal allowance of ale and they could also make a nice addition in turnip hoeing time - for a while they were paid 5/- per acre for twice doing. One would think they had to go through very hard times but if the wife was any good they seemed to get through very hard times - in fact one of them once told me that when their wages went up to £1 a week they were worse off than when they had 15/- per week owing to the general rise in the price of food and clothing.
When I left Lowthorpe to live at Houndales at Martinmas 1887 I had a house keeper and one maid who did the milking and the foreman and lads who were single lived in the house. Later when I was on my own I put a hand in the Little Houndales house and we boarded the lads at a cost of 7/- a week with milk and potatoes. As the years went on 1896-97-98-99 were all dry Summers and good harvest so that each year I was making some profit but I never seemed to have any spare cash it all went in increasing my stock.
In 1897 the Little Houndales house had to be pulled down and rebuilt or it would have fallen -
this of course was a heavy expense with no return for the money spent. I managed to get a bit of
cricket and tennis on Summer evenings which all helped to make life more pleasant. Mother had most
of her time taken with household duties and rearing the children and we were unfortunate in them
having nearly every kind of illness that young flesh is heir-to this came to a climax about 1900
when they all had typhoid fever. This made us make up our minds to leave Houndales so I took Westfield
In the meantime we lived at Sunnyside, Nafferton for nearly two years. Leaving Great Houndales house empty I gave up the farm 1903. We had had it our family for more than 100 years and for 50 of those old John Tennison had worked there. He was a fine type of English farm worker - over 6 ft. - and as straight as an arrow a first rate hedger, thatcher and turnip hoer eh. He is buried in Nafferton Churchyard together with his wife and I put up a tombstone to their memory.
I tried to follow my father's footsteps in breeding sheep and Hackneys and they paid their way well for a number of years leaving a nice profit - but at first the old customers we had for rams left us when my father died, but I got most of them back in the course of time. And Sept.l9th Little Driffield Fair was always an anxious time until we had sold. I think my highest average one year was 10gns. each for 50. Later I sold some to the Argentine and got about 30 off at £14 and sold the rest at Driffield and Malton fairs for as much as they would fetch. In 1903 as a climax I got typhoid fever myself and nearly died from it. This knocked the stuffing out of me for a time and I was never able to ride much after that as I could not stand the shaking.
About that time I had taken East Field a Driffield farm of about 130 acres. It joined Little Houndales and was worked from there. Like mine it was a good farm and not too dearly rented at 30/- a acre. ...
Above: A 1894 map locating three farms: scale 1:10 560
Above: An modern aerial photograph locating three farms
... There I had the misfortune to have a fire just after harvest a spark from the engine, we were threshing, set it off and all that was not threshed was burnt - about £100 corn in the barn was saved. I got £400 insurance which did not pay for the loss as I have no doubt the farm suffered from loss of manure and this showed for several years.
So we carried on and the family kept increasing tho, in 1902 we lost our little Marjorie from ptomaive poisoning to our great distress - a lovely child with a lovely disposition and 7 years old.
Codicil by his daughter Edith (Popsey) Cranswick (nee Crompton)
For the benefit of any grandchildren who are still interested in this history of our Father's early life - he did not feel inclined to finish this labour of love to my children who never had the chance to know him. Mother's death was too much grief for him to ever feel he could continue so I will give a brief outline of some more.
We lived at Westfield until 1911 - Father doing much public work and attending various meeting
- Feofee Cottages for aged people were part of his works. Driffield Urban Council - Farmers Union -
the Workhouse Committee and of course he was a Church Warden for many years at Nafferton Church.
He worked very hard but always found time to play with us all and sing and teach us nursery rhymes
- give us a game of tennis and during the Winter, if we were unable to go to Church, the whole
Service was read through by each in turn - hymns sung and Prayers said.
Never in his life did he miss saying his Prayers night and morning. That was the standard he kept throughout his life.
Right: Westfield, Nafferton, at the turn of the 21st century
His chief joy was to see us all happy and living good useful lives. He often said he had no ambitions for wealth but liked to feel he could provide a comfortable home. Mother was his one great love and never to my knowledge was there any time when each was not devoted to the other.
Our move to Cottam was a way to expand his business and that proved a very wise move. We had the war years of great anxiety with two sons fighting - several cousins and three brothers and after we moved to Bridlington in 1916 news came that Jack was badly wounded. He later was taken to a Hospital in Newcastle-on-Tyne where he lost the use of one lung and never recovered - dying in 1922. That too was a severe blow to our parents.
The next few years were peaceful - Father farmed Little Houndales and put Harry on to his newly bought Bempton Farm - times came very hard and eventually Harry had to leave and went to Kenya. I married and came to New Zealand and that too was a sorrow but they never failed to write to me every week. Kitty's marriage and then Charlie's left them quite alone. Our lives were separated but home was the centre of family news and we all wrote regularly. Then came Mother's accident when she was just 80 and Father being an old man must have felt the blow intensely but he had one great comfort - Kitty offered him a home and did everything in her power to make him happy and now he has passed away after a short illness when he had every loving care.
In case anyone wants to read it, I have a short account of Mother's family history also written to Peter. This can be copied too and added to this. I should like to add that to us who are far away this long account is one of our dearest possessions and will remain a family treasure.Edith Cranswick
hind - hired hand
spavin - 'bog spavin' - a disease of the horses' shin bone
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This page was created by Richard Crompton
and maintained by Chris Glass
Updated 21 December 2007