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Ismay Writings 5

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Robin Hood's gravestone, and the ruins of a Benedictine Nunnery founded anno 1236, and dedicated to St. Mary, are to be seen on ye N.W. side of the parish near Nun Brook.

The latitude of Mirfield is 68 42" N., the longitude about 1 31" W. of London, it stands about 30 miles S.W. of York.
The soil is of various sorts. We have sand, clay, stone, and gravel. Our lands produce all sorts of grains to great perfection.
The manure is dung, lime and ashes; rapes, wolds, and turnips are frequently sown in the parish, they with potatoes are titheable to the Vicar. There are many good quarries of hard durable stone for building, very good earth for bricks, and great plenty of coal which is usually sold for 2s. the horse load at the pit mouth, and it is common in the meanest cot to see a good fire. The springs are generally found at various depths in the parish, and the water is very sweet and soft in most places except near ye coal, and there it is a little hard and brakish. We have, I believe, as fine an air as any in England. It is generally healthy, and the inhabitants in general live to a great age, especially the poorer sort who use proper exercise and enjoy the benefit of it.

The present Vicar has buried no less than 92 persons each of them aged 80 years and upwards, whereof 8 arrived at 90 and upwards, and one at 102. There are 2 dissenting meeting houses in the parish, one for the Presbyterians and the other for the Moravian Brethren. they are both small and inconsiderable.

Mirfield is situated about the middle of the road between the towns of Wakefield and Halifax, but there is yet no turnpike. The Gentlemen's Seats bordering on the parish are Kirklees, Whitley Hall, and Crow Mount.
The Aurora Borealis is very common, and particularly one on the 7th of April, 1749.

The clams across the river are in the nature of cataracts, and are a sort of catadupes by which the inhabitants form a prognostication of the weather. The river produces salmon, trout, smelts, graylings, daice, perch, eels, chubs, barbles, gudgeons, &c., wild ducks, wigeon, teal, coots, and several sorts of water hens are seen about the river in winter, especially in a great frost.
The great speckled loon or diver was shot here Sept. 29th, 1749, and was the only one perhaps ever seen in this country. When mists appear to rise or fall on Whitley Wood or (Swindon Hill) which stands upon high ground, the people in Mirfield thereby prognosticate of the change of the weather, singing this rhyme:-

If Whitley Wood wears a cap
Balance Beck will smart for that,
If Swindon Hill wears a cap
Balance Beck must pay for that.

When the sun appears over ye temple of Swindon Hill, it is 12 o'clock at the Vicarage. The following inscription was formerly over the door of the Mansion House of the Hirsts in Mirfield :-" Know whom you trust. Robert Hirst, 1656."
Over the door at Wellhouse :-G.B.H. i.e. God be here or about this house. Hunting, fishing, shooting, and setting are diversions mostly used. We have hares, woodcocks, snipes, wood pigeons, plovers, quails, daker-hens or the land-rail, water-rails, red-wings, fieldfares, woodpeckers, jays, nightingales,and most of the small birds known in England. We have some pheasants in the wood, but the breed is in a great measure destroyed.
We have a variety of plants in the woods, one of which is called the Garden of Eden. We had a fiery meteor passed over this place July 22nd, 1750. An earthquake in 1754, and often much damage done by the floods.
Yours,
J. ISMAY.

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