Finsthwaite Princess Page 3

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The Finsthwaite Princess - Page 3

Copywrite - Janet D Martin & Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society - 2001

Picture of a lady in evening wear c 1800In 1914 Canon C G Townley wrote the first draft of an article on the Princess which appeared in the Finsthwaite parish magazine in 1922 and was subsequently slightly extended and issued as a separate pamphlet.17 In 1914 he said that William Fell 2nd (1777-1856), clerk and sexton, told how his father had worked for the Princess at Waterside. "She was furrin" and so were her servants. William Fell dug up the hair and showed it to several people in the parish. The hair is however, first said to have been found in 1867,18 eleven years after the death of William Fell 2nd, and tradition, ever accommodating, said that the Princess had fair hair. Great play was made by Canon Townley with Scott's description in Redgauntlet of the Young Pretender's mistress, Clementina Walkingshaw, with her "locks of paley gold", but that is to anticipate what comes later. Elsewhere the hair was said to have appeared in 1887 when an adjacent grave was opened. 19
 
The knot of blue ribbons became attached to the Princess, not by Canon Townley but at a later date. The author of a letter to the Barrow News on 17th May 1968 said that it "was placed in her vault and, when the tomb had to be opened for Mrs Taylor's funeral years later, these ribbons were found to be quite fresh. The bundle of blue ribbons were said to have been given by king George of England, or one of his militiamen when searching the neighbourhood - not thinking that the gift was given to a child who may (sic) have one day returned to Scotland and carried on the Stuart line".

The ribbons have nothing at all to do with the Princess. In a note in the second volume of the Finsthwaite parish register, 1790-1813, it is recorded that ribbon found in the grave of Anne Taylor of Stott Park, buried on 25th September 1763, was seen again when her father Robert was buried on 6th April 1772, and also when the grave was reopened in 1812 and 1827 for other family interments.20 These burials were all inside the church, not in the churchyard.
 
Joseph Charles Hunter 2nd, the swill maker whose daughter Eleanor spoke to Roland Pedder, lived from 1858 to 1935. He was therefore alive in 1873 when the old church was demolished, but at fifteen years old why should he then have dug up the grave unless out of curiosity? There was no need for anyone to do so. The new church did not extend so far as to threaten it, and in fact the position of the later cross is exactly that described in the list of churchyard burials made about 1816, "5 and one quarter yards from E side of 3rd window (on south side)". 21 Hunter's father, Joseph Charles Hunter 1st (1831-1918) would have known Ned Fell and both men would probably have heard of the position of the grave from him. Ned Fell would have known it from his father, apart from the fact that Richard Pedder noted that he, as parish clerk, actually had the list of churchyard burials in his possession.


However much the stories became garbled over the period from 1771 there is a perfectly clear link of acquaintanceship over two hundred years from William Fell 1st to Eleanor Hunter and Roland Pedder. William Fell 1st would certainly have known of the Princess although she had probably moved form Jolliver Tree before he lived in one of the houses there. In 1773 he actually rented the rooms at Waterside in which she and James Douglas had lived, and he had seven more children baptised from there between 1774 and 1792. He lived well into the adult lives of his sons William 2nd and Edward, and they would all have known Richard Pedder. J C Hunter 1st was born in Hawkshead in 1831, established a swilling business in Finsthwaite, and survived until 1918, again far into the lifetimes of his son and granddaughter whom Roland Pedder knew. So, in the village at least there was a direct though meandering connection with Clementina Douglas herself, and a persistent survival of her story.
 
It was when outsiders began to busy themselves that matters got out of hand, and most particularly with the introduction of the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward, who never figured in the pure village tradition. In 1897 Miss Mary Wakefield, author of Cartmel Priory and sketches of North Lonsdale (1909) wrote to Notes and Queries about the Princess.

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