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local history

Have We Found “The Graves at Tadcaster”?

“Soft Rainy Morn. Bradford Fair. Heard Samuel Myers Mason say when repairing Tadcaster dam they found a great deal many human Skeletons near the Surface…”

Diaries of Joseph Rogerson, 1808

I’ve been busy transcribing the diaries of a Bramley (Leeds) scribbling mill owner, Joseph Rogerson. And whilst my focus has been on his description of the Regency era wool trade in Leeds, I’m enjoying some little extra rabbit holes, like this archaeological one:

“December 9 1808

Soft Rainy Morn. Bradford Fair. Heard Samuel Myers Mason say when repairing Tadcaster dam they found a great deal many human Skeletons near the Surface on the Church side of the Water Opposite the Damstones – they also found a very long Sword – Bought a horse at Bradford Fair for 27 – We have got cheated he proves to be a Stalleon but he is like a good workman”

We know Tadcaster bridge very well. I’m told the skeletons are very likely Lancastrian soldiers from the Battle of Towton in 1461, who were being pursued over the river Wharfe and a number were known to have drowned – bad weather conditions, river in full spate. They may of course, be English Civil War, or something much older than that. Chances are, if they were perceived to be Christian, they’d have ended up in a mass grave at Tadcaster church, which is, as Rogerson notes, close to the river.

Haven’t chased this up just thought I’d share as it’s interesting. Maybe some other local historian could pursue this?

A few years ago I did find a reference in the account books of The Retreat asylum in York, to a visit made by the poet Charles Lloyd – a patient there, around 1811 – to “the Graves at Tadcaster” and have spent a bit of time in the years since I read this, trying to figure out what these could be. (Charles paid for a barouche to take him on his sightseeing tour. At a later date, he escaped the asylum and turned back up in Grasmere).

Maybe the skeletons found in the river in 1808, were a bit of a tourist attraction three years later, when Charles made his day-trip to see The Graves? What are the odds that the same person rooting round in 1810s’ patients’ records in York, would later be rooting round in 1808-14 diaries from Leeds that mention this thing that seems to have fallen out of the histories?

This dear Reader, is why I’m here. I do this weird stuff so you don’t have to.

By PLH

Writer, crafter, textile historian, machine knitter, handspinner and dyer.

2 replies on “Have We Found “The Graves at Tadcaster”?”

I love the fact that they felt diddled because the horse turned out to be a stallion. Did they not know how to identify one?

sue

On Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 12:25 PM PENELOPE HEMINGWAY wrote:

> PLH posted: ” Diaries of Joseph Rogerson, 1808 I’ve been busy transcribing > the diaries of a Bramley (Leeds) scribbling mill owner, Joseph Rogerson. > And whilst my focus has been on his description of the Regency era wool > trade in Leeds, I’m enjoying some little ext” >

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Yes, that was fantastic. You’d have thought he’s looked underneath. Especially if that price was in guineas because that was a year’s wages for some people lol.

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