Tales of Derwentdale by J W Fawcett

Jul 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Supporting information

The Tales of Derwentdale by J W Fawcett was published in 1902 and is a collection of stories 1st published in the Consett Guardian in 1901.  The book is clearly the inspiration behind a folk album by John Thorpe and the Michael Kelly which shares the same name and gives verse to many of the stories and characters featured in the original book. I have since lost my copy 🙁  The book covers a range of mythical / legendary stories ranging from tales of witches, possessions, murder, hauntings, giants, mad men, hidden treasure and every other fairly tale you would expect a book of folk stories to contain.

From the Preface

The Derwent Valley, one of the most picturesque in scenic beauty in the North of England, and which as been the theme of many a poetic effusion, is also rich in historical lore and traditional takes, in face, history, legend, superstition, and tradition vie with each other through the length and breadth of the valley. Some of the old legends and traditions, which had oly an oral permanency, have long since passed down the traditionary channel into the sea of oblivion, and become lost.  Others with the mach of common sense and a more enlightened age are rapidly passing out of remembrance, and will in the course of time become forgotten.

Of interest to Border Reiver fans are a number of tales of Mosstroopers.  The term mosstrooper is generally applied to border criminal gangs at a later pont in history than the reivers family based feuds. However, the chapters covering Thomas Raw and Rowley Harrison give an insight into the semi-mythical exploits of 17C raiders within the Derwentdale area.  (Sound so much more evocative than then modern Derwentside!)

“Hail! hail, where wild Mosstroopers roamed of yore!
We rove. enraptured, our engaging way,
To delve the mines of legendary lore.
Or sniff the scent of primrose patches gay;
For in these woods and in that wilder day.
when lawless minds essayed no beaten track,
But loved adventure as they loved the prey
They hugged, transported, on their journey back
Have planned their purpose fell full many a savage pack!
Ay! here they ran, the tameless and the wild.
The doughty and indomitable raid
Who looked on frowning danger till she smiled,
Or in their hearts a frenzied gladness made:
Or till their blind contempt of fear betrayed
And hurled them headlong into waiting gins,
Else Muggleswick, the hapless priest that said
The Litany o’er thy sorrows and thy sins,
Had not been huddled through this maze of leaves and whins!”
Barrass.—”The Derwent Valley.”’

J W Fawcett was also the author of “Historical Plats in teh Derwent Valley” and “Annals of the Consett District”. “Tales of Derwentdale”  was published my Robert Jackson adn Co of Front Street Consett. The whole of the book has been scanned by www.gravetext.co.uk to PDF format and is available from here.

Notes on J W Fawcett

Following from the comments below I thought it would be interesting to see what can be found on Mr Fawcett. A quick google reveals that he was heavily involved in compliling indexes of Birth, Death and Marriage records in and around the Sately, Lanchester and Consett area.

This geniology site references Fawcett:

Satley Baptisms, marriages and burials 1560-1812. A printed volume, published 1914, compiled by J W Fawcett. It includes not only a transcript of the Satley register itself, but also Satley baptisms, marriages and burials from the Lanchester registers, and a complete listing of the gravestone inscriptions in Satley church and churchyard at June 1913. There is quite a lot of ancillary detail about the people mentioned, added by the editor, and detailed pedigrees of the local families of Darnell, Fawcett, Greenwell, Jopling, Rippon, Sanderson, Scarth, Taylor and White. A comprehensive index concludes this valuable work. 4 fiche

Medomsley Baptisms, Marriages & Burials 1608-1730. This is a typed unindexed transcript of Volume 1 of the registers of this parish in north-west Durham, copied from a transcript made by J W Fawcett, who collated the entries with a duplicate volume (now volume 2) made in 1727. At the end of the volume, there are some “footnotes from J W Fawcett’s transcript”. This is the only transcript for this parish available at Newcastle Library. 1 fiche

The Oxford Journal Notes and Queries of DECEMBER 9, 1933 features a letter from J W Fawcett of Satley, Co Durham.

OUR correspondent, Ms. J. W. FAWCETT,
of Satley, Co. Durham, writes to us:
” The voluntary workers of the Clerical Index Society are indexing on cards (Library Bureau Index Cards) the incumbents of Worcestershire (Rectors, Vicars, perpetual Curates, etc.) as given in the Rev. George Miller’s work, ‘ The Parishes of the Diocese of Worcester ‘ (1890), which gives dates ‘(years only). Perhaps some contributor or reader of ‘ N. and Q.’ may be interested in these matters. Help in the way of any dates (day, month and year) of the appointments and Deaths, and copies of clerical epitaphs and memorial inscriptions, would be gratefully received.”

Other publications by JW Fawcett

Historical Places in the Derwent Valley
Annals of the Consett District.
Fawcett, J.W. (1890) Tow Law: its Foundation and Early History, Parts 1-6 which can be read here

The following post was placed on a Consett local history Forum. I am trying to verify the information.

Drifter wrote:
Found the book again.
It’s The English Aboricultural Society from the late 1800’s. The chapter is Dendrological Notes from North West Durham By James W Fawcett of the Grange, Satley. So he’s a local guy writing about the area. I’ve come across his name several times before to do with local history and i think Harry Raine mentioned him in notes that i’ve read, perhaps he might have been related to Fawcett’s that i’ve come across, who lived down Watergate farm in Castleside.
Where would we be if these people hadn’t put pen to paper, we’ve got a lot to thank them for.

J W Fawcett was a remarkable man. Born at Satley in 1862, he was an amazing scholar with a gift for languages especially.
At the age of twelve he was appointed rate collector for Butsfield Township. At thirteen he could speak 14 languages.
At eighteen he was chosen from 2000 candidates for the post of Army interpreter. Before he was twenty five he knew 33 languages. He was aide-de-camp, interpreter and firm friend of Lord Kitchener in Egypt for seventeen years.

He was shipwrecked in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and also the Red Sea. He went on to study Law and was appointed Chief Stipendiary Magistrate for the town of Kennedy in New South Wales, he also became the town’s MP in the legislative Assembly. He returned to his native Satley and wrote many books about our area as well as many learned papers for different historical societies. He died in 1942 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Satley churchyard. Recently a group of people have located J W Fawcett’s lost grave and are raising funds to erect a suitable headstone and memorial.

Mr Fawcett, Harry Raine and others dug up Tommy Raw’s remains at Allensford to verify the story of Tommy’s burial under a tree. Ray Thompson, (yes, Ray the Red!) shows some photos of Tommy’s bones on a tablecloth in a slideshow he gives to raise funds for Mr Fawcett’s headstone. Ray knew Fawcett and used to visit him at Satley.

If this information can be verified then the James W Fawcett of Satley was in NSW at the same time as the Station was created. Wikipeadia give the following description of the arcitect James W Fawcett.

J.W. Fawcett
James Fawcett was an English born architect who was first hired by Victoria Railways in 1889. There he acted as an architectural draftsman, and was most probably involved in the plans for Flinders Street Station that had previously been rejected by the Parliamentary Committee.
Fawcett was also a contributor to the Arts and Crafts movement that was embraced by Australia at the time, and he was also a “foundation member of Australia’s first sculptor’s society – the Yarra Sculptor’s Society.”

As a metal worker, Fawcett was also involved with the firm Wunderlich Ltd, who were “Victoria’s major supplier of architectural terracotta and pressed metal architectural features” [2].

Fawcett designed the pressed metal ceilings that were heavily incorporated in the construction of Flinders Street Station, and can still be seen today throughout the building. His metal work was in the Art Nouveau style, which is also present in his jewelry and clock design.

The article is not well referenced so I will have to look further. It seems strange that the Fawcett of the Wikipedia article is referred to as an architect and metal worker which is a strange contrast with what we know of the Satley character.

I have attached a full copy of Tales of Derwentdale here

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  1. Is this the J W Fawcett who wrote ‘A Brief Life of the Rev. John Cross’? If so, do you have a birth year and when he died.

  2. Born in the UK?
    Any relation to JW Fawcett architect of Flinders Street Station Melbourne?

  3. Hi Glenda,

    I have updated the article with as much info as I can find on Fawcett and am chasing down some more. This guy was a most remarkable individual.

  4. I was surprised that there was so little information on him especially as to how important he is to the State Library of Victoria and the Heritage people.
    Another query, did he and if so, when and why and where, spend any time in Queensland?

  5. More information,
    JW Fawcett,
    ‘Songs and Recitations of the Australian Bush’, published in Townsville, Qld (R.H.Thomas) 1896
    Listed by M&M and Hornibrook

  6. Hi Glenda,
    Have you been able to link the JW Fawcett of Songs and Recitations of the Australian Bush to the architect?

  7. No further information here. State Library of Victoria has nothing more.
    So far the J W Fawcett I have also wrote 48 other works only one of which is poetry. I have been trying to find out if he was the architect for Flinder’s Street Station, but no one seems to have proof. His birth year 1862 – 1942 fits with your Fawcett of Satley, but I cannot find a link to Melbourne (that Fawcett was born in 1863 – 1934). So it seems that if there is a link it’s missing…

  8. Nice work Glanda,

    It just seems a large coincidence that two James W Fawcett’s were doing remarkable things at the same time and place.

    I have tracked down someone who actually met the Satley Fawcett.. I will try and get some more info from him.


  9. There was a JW Fawcett in Townsville, north Queensland in 1896 who compiled a detailed account of Cyclone Sigma which devastated the city in January that year. Apparently the same man also contributed columns on thenatural history of Queensland fauna to newspapers of the time, eg the Queensland and the Brisbane Courier and an article on silviculture published in a Queensland Agricultural journal. Presumably he was also the compiler of “Songs and Recitations of the Australian Bush” since that was published in Townsville. also in 1896. I have found a reference indicating he was also the author of two biographies of prominent early figures in the Church of England in Australia, the first Bishop (William Grant Broughton) and the Rev John Cross. It seems unlikely that this Fawcett was the same man as the celebrated architect. As to whether he was the same JW Fawcett as the one from from Satley I have no idea – but the author of the silviculture article is described as a member of the English Arboricultural Society.

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