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قراءة كتاب Notes and Queries, Number 85, June 14, 1851 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

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‏اللغة: English
Notes and Queries, Number 85, June 14, 1851
A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

Notes and Queries, Number 85, June 14, 1851 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

good-looking old man, with long, silvery locks, and a countenance beaming with benevolence and good nature. He has nearly lost the use of his eye-sight, and is a little dull of hearing, yet he is enabled to walk about. The loss of his sight he regrets most of all, as it prevents him from spending his time in reading, to which he was before accustomed; and, as he remarked, also denies him the pleasure of looking upon his children and his old friends. He converses with remarkable cheerfulness for one of his years. As an instance, we may mention, that, on observing to him that he must have been a tall man in his youth, he sprang up from his arm chair with the elasticity of middle age, rather than the decrepitude usually accompanying those few who are permitted to spin out the thread of life to the extent of a century, and, with a humorous smile upon his countenance, put his hands to his thighs, and stood as straight as an arrow against a gentleman nearly six feet, remarking, at the same time, "I don't think I am much less now than ever I was." He stands now about five feet eight inches and a half. A short time ago, on coming down stairs in the morning, he observed to his daughter, with his accustomed good humour, and buoyancy of spirit, "I wonder what I shall dream next; I dreamt last night that I was going to be married again; and who knows but I could find somebody that would have me yet." His son-in-law is an old grey-headed man, much harder of hearing than himself; and it frequently happens, that when any of the family are endeavouring to explain anything to him, old James will say, "Stop, and I'll insense him;" and his lungs seldom fail in the undertaking.

From this interesting family we learn, that William Horrocks, the father of the present James, of whom we have been speaking, was born in 1657, four years after Oliver Cromwell was declared protector, and one year before his death. He would be two years old when Richard Cromwell, who succeeded his father, resigned; and four years old when Charles II. was crowned in 1661. The exact period of his first marriage we have not been able to ascertain; but it is certain that his bride was employed as nurse in the well-known family of the Chethams, either at Turton Tower, or at Castleton Hall, near Rochdale. By this marriage he had four children, as appears from the following memorandums, written in an excellent hand in the back of an old black-letter Bible, printed in 1583:

"Mary, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Horrocks, was born the 15th day of September, and baptised the 23d day of the same month, Anno Dom. 1683."

"John, the son of William and Elizabeth Horrocks, was born the 18th day of January, and baptized the 25th day of the same month, Anno Dom. 1686."

"Ann, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Horrocks, was born the 14th day of March, and baptized the 23d day of the same month, Anno Dom. 1699."

"William, the son of William and Elisabeth Horrocks, was born the 9th day of June, and baptised the 17th day of the same month, Anno Dom. 1700."

At what time his wife died, we are also unable to ascertain; but there is no doubt he remained a widower for many years, and at length married his housekeeper, a comely blooming young woman, whose kindness to the old man was unremitting, and he married her in 1741, at the age of eighty-four, she being at the time only twenty-six.

This marriage evidently attracted much attention in the neighbourhood, and we find that, about two years afterwards, the old man and his youthful partner were sent for to Castleton Hall, the residence of a branch of Humphry Chetham's family, where they were treated with great kindness, and a portrait painter engaged to take their likenesses, which are now in the possession of their son, and add much to the interest of a visit to him. These portraits are well executed; and, of course, appear rather like those of a grandfather and his grandchild than of husband and wife, although he appears more like sixty than eighty-six. In front of each painting is prominently inscribed the age of each of the parties, and the date when the portrait was taken. Upon that of the husband the inscription is, "ÆTA: 86—1743." And upon that of the wife, "ÆTA: 28—1743." These, it appears, were taken two years after their marriage, and preserved in the Chetham family, at Castleton Hall, as great curiosities.

In the following year, the present James was born, as appears from the following entry on the back of the same old Bible:

"James, the son of William and Elizabeth Horrocks of Bradshaw Chapel, was born March 14th, 1744."

He will therefore complete his hundredth year on the 14th of next March. He was born in a house near Bradshaw Chapel, which has long since been removed. He was about twenty-seven years old when an uncle left him a small estate in Harwood, called Hill End; and soon after he married, we believe in 1773, and by that marriage had eight children. William, the son of James and Margaret Horrocks, was born February 21, 1776; Margaret, March 31, 1778; John, August 11, 1781; Simon, Dec. 23, 1783; Matty, June 28, 1786; James, Jan. 13, 1789; Sarah, Sept. 22, 1791; and Betty, Jan. 8, 1794.

Of these, the only survivors are Margaret, aged sixty-five, the wife of John Haslam, with whom the old man now resides; and Betty, the youngest, aged forty-nine, who is married, and has four children.

The old man was only eleven years old when his father died, and has no recollection of hearing him mention any remarkable event occurring in his lifetime.

On asking the old man how he came into possession of the portraits of his father and mother, he stated, that, some years ago, he saw in the newspapers a sale advertised of the property at Castleton Hall, and went there before the day to inquire after the portraits, with the view of purchasing them before the sale. The servants at the hall admitted him, and he found they were not there. He then went to the house of the steward, and found he was not at home; he, however, left a message, desiring that the steward would send him word if there was any probability of his being able to purchase the portraits. Accordingly, the steward sent him word that they had been removed, with the family portraits, to the residence of a lady near Manchester, where he might have the satisfaction of seeing them. The old man cannot remember either the name or the address of the lady. However, he went to the place, in company with a friend, and saw the lady, who treated him with the greatest kindness. She showed him the portraits, and was so much pleased with the desire he manifested to purchase them, that she said, if she could be certain that he was the heir, she would make him a present of them, as his filial affection did him great honour. His friend assured her that he was the only child of his mother by William Horrocks, and she then gave them to him, although she parted with them with regret, as she had no other paintings that attracted so much attention. His recollection of the circumstances are so perfect, that he remembers offering a gratuity to the servants for packing the portraits, which the lady would not allow them to receive.

As an instance of the health and vigour of this remarkable old man, it may be mentioned, that ten years ago, in the winter of 1832-3, he attended at Newton, to vote for Lord Molyneux, then a candidate for South Lancashire. He was then in his ninetieth year. He walked from Harwood to Bolton, a distance of three miles. From thence he went to Newton by the railway; and, having voted, he by some means missed the train, and walked to Bolton, a distance of fifteen miles. On arriving there he took some refreshment, and again set out for Harwood, and accomplished the distance of twenty-one miles in the day, in the depth of winter.—Manchester Guardian, Aug. 19, 1843.