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Ismay Writings 4

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The present Vicar, J. Ismay, B.A., was inducted 0Jan. 28th, 1739, O. S. in the presence of his worthy patron, Sir Saml. Armytage, late of Kirklees, Bart., then High Sheriff of ye County. The living is worth now about 75 per annum to the Vicar. The present patron is Sir John Armytage, Bart., Member of Parliament for ye City of York, who is now upon his travels in Italy. He is impropriator or lay rector of Mirfield, and receives 200 guineas per annum for tithe of corn, and of money made for hay, besides a considerable sum for tithe of wood cut down in the parish.
The Parish Register began in 1589, when there were no dissenters in the parish and is continued in one single parchment book to this present year, 1755. It escaped the confusion of the civil wars, and is perhaps as perfect and complete as any one register in England. There are 100 marriages, 339 ohriaienings, and 220 burials in the first 90 years; 296 marriages, 1,165 christenings, and 612 burials in the last 20 years as appears by the register.

On the 30th Dec., 1738, a sudden and violent earthquake was felt at Mirfield and in the neighbourhood. I perceived my bed at Kirklees rock, and the chamber shake so much that I expected the whole house would have fallen. Being surprised with the shock I awaked my brother who lay with me that night, but he felt nothing of it.

From the high ground in Hopton, especially the great pinnacle, on a clear day I have seen into 12 parishes at least, with 3 Parochial Chapelery's. From thenee ye enclosed fields in Mirfield make one grand parterre, the thick planted hedgerows seem like a wilderness or a labyrinth, the houses interspersed look like so many noble seats of gentlemen at a distance. The nature of ye soil in ye parish being of such different kinds produces perhaps as great a variety of plants as are to be found in any part of Great Britain of the same extent. I have met with 250 sorts of wild plants growing spontaneously in the wood, field, pastures, and waste grounds, besides a curious collection transplanted into my garden at the vicarage from other parts. The poisonous plants found here are the cicuta or the lesser hemlock, the common nightshade, black henbane, cynocrambe, the yew tree, &c. The berries of the last are frequently eaten here without any ill consequence, but the fatal effect of the leaves to cattle was fully confirmed on Easter Monday, 1754, when 2 young heifers near the vicarage
were poisoned by eating them.

The front of Castle Hall, an old building near the church, is adorned with a great number of hieroglyphics curiously carved in wood, and the letters T.R. and the numerical figures 1,022 about the middle of the large window. There is a Danish Mount behind the house with a plain piece of ground at the top 69 ft. in diameter. I can meet with nothing in the whole parish yet which wears the face of antiquity, besides 3 or 4 old studded buildings, much talked of by the vulgar for their great age, though without any authentic marks of authority besides ancient tradition and the curious fragments of painted glass in the window of one of these old mansions.

Here is a free Charity School, founded by Mr. R. Thorpe, late of Hopton Hall, 1667, at Knowle Lane, with a dwelling house for the Master, and a salary of about 12 per annum.
Near the school are the vestiges of a large round entrenchment resembling that near Penrith, called King Arthur's round table.
Here is a Workhouse for the poor, though it is only rented by ye parish.

Blake Hall is supposed to be the ancient seat of the Hoptons, and Castle Hall the seat of Sir John Heton, Kt., ye 1st parson of the church. now the property of Richard Beaumont, of Whitley Hall, Esqre. Castle Hall stands very near the church, whence that proverbial saying:- He is John Armytage's neighbour, i.e. he is dead. Sir John Heton, Kt., married ye oldest daughter
of Sir Alexander Nevile de Mirfield. Robert Hopton, of Hopton, Esqre., married Jennet, daughter of Henry Savile, Esqre.

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