To ensure I kept one foot in the past over the summer holidays I did two weekends at Skipton Castle. At the start of the summer the castle was mine (!) … or, more accurately, it was under the governance of Colonel Sir John Mallory, who did his best to ensure it and the town remained loyal to King Charles.
He was also keen to ensure that those trapped in the castle with him knew that he would not be so foolish as to ‘stout it out’ too long, but that he would negotiate honourable terms of surrender long before they suffered either the the flux or scurvy (as did the poor garrison at Scarborough Castle).
Two young lads, regular visitors to the castle, swore their loyalty to the king and his cause. (The strange shaped belly, by the way, is due to the pistol that Colonel Mallory has taken to wearing at all times, “Just in case”!)
Later in the summer (strangely, about 35 years later), another fellow was to be found in the castle, John ‘Swift Nicks’ Nevison, whose own brace of pistols were the very tools of his trade! He too was happy to talk to the gathered crowds, but rather than delivering inspiring speeches and sharing stories of the war in Yorkshire, he regaled them with tales of derring do – his own adventures and those of other highwaymen.
Of course, folk had to take the tales with a pinch of salt, especially when the claims made were somewhat ridiculous. Still, strange things do happen – for example, here, lingering behind, you can see a boy who seems exactly alike the visitor to the castle who spoke to the governor 35 years earlier! He does not seem to have aged a day. Perhaps he is a hearth-haunting ghost?
Even a land pirate such as Nevison can become thoughtful, especially when considering that the likes of he cannot expect a long life, merely a merry one! And, of course, he can live like a gentlemen. Cards and dice, sport and riding, wine and feasting, are how he spends his time, not living by his finger ends like a rude mechanical. Oh, and as well as the air and carriage of a gentlemen, of course he follows the fashion!
Occasionally tempted by the sight of a fat purse among the visitors, Nevison held himself in check, for he was in the castle to hide until it was dark, and not to get himself in more trouble! Besides, he is a ‘Goodfellow’ like Robin in the Hood, and would never think to rob his friends or the poor!
If you would like Nevison to regale your children with his stories, immersing them in the world of historical highway robbers, perhaps because they are studying the famous poem, or mastering the art of persuasive writing, then do be in touch. Maybe your children are doing some local history about the British Civil Wars in your area (a battle nearby or a castle), in which case Sir John or one of my other Civil War characters might be of great use. Or perhaps you are interested in one of my other characters, such as Sir William Petty (Great Fire of London or the Great Plague of 1665), Guy Fawkes, Captain Burwash the pirate or one of Drake’s sailors? If so, please have a look at the variety I can offer on my page of Characters.
If so, I look forward to hearing from you.