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EYWOODS (or, as people call it, Yeauwoods), near
Austerlands, is the seed plot, in the district of Hey and Lees, of an important branch of that numerous and respectable family known, as Heywood. How the name originated can only be a matter of guess. In old records it is spelt in such a variety of ways that you would sometimes think that Heywood (or Haywood, as it is now spelt) and Howard (or Haworth) are from one common root, and that the common ancestor represented that important member of archaic society known as the "hayward." On this subject, however, there is no room to dogmatise; suffice it to say that in the ancient village community one of the corporate officials was the "hayward," and that there were probably as many haywards in various parts of the country as there were village communities, but that was a long time ago. We know, however, that we had a village community in the district of Lees, but whether the local family whose name can be spelt in such a variety of ways were members of it must be left to the chapter of unfathomable, and, therefore,
undecided problems. For nearly three centuries the Heywoods (Heawoods, or Heawards, as anciently spelt) have left footprints in Knott Lanes division, and at least for two and a half centuries on the borders of Saddleworth, at a place known in old times as "Osterlands." If there be any truth in the sentiment which seems to pervade a certain old book-namely, that a certain class of people shall inherit the earth-surely we may fairly conclude that for the most part, and generally speaking, the family of Heywood belongs to that class.
This brings me to notice an important member of the Heywood family, who lived during the troublous times of the Commonwealth, and who left behind him traces of the religious turmoil of that period. His name was John Heawood. He would appear to have been a kind of yeoman farmer, and though he or his family gave name to the farmstead where they lived, Heawoods, the farm itself did not belong to him. At his death he seemed to have been a fairly prosperous farmer, with a well-stocked farm and plenty of spare money to wield his business. It is, however, to his religious connections that I wish to call attention. He lived far enough away from any church or chapel to be priest-ridden, Oldham Church being nearest on the one hand, and Saddleworth Church on the other. As a neighbour he would have Dr. Byrom, who gave name to and lived at Doctor House and Doctor Lane; a retired clergyman who had been taken prisoner by Cromwell's troops at a skirmish which took place at Nantwich during the civil war, but it is not likely there would be much fellowship between the two, as they took separate sides, Byrom siding with King Charles, and John Heawood with the friends of the Commonwealth. It is from these friends that we obtain information relating to the life and character of John
Heawood, and, indeed, of the age in which he lived. He would seem to have been a friend of the Rev. Henry Newcome, the Puritan, and in Newcome's autobiography, published by the Chetham Society in 1852, edited by Dr. Parkinson, principal of Saint Bees College and canon of Manchester, particulars of which had been supplied him by Newcome's lineal descendant, the Rev. Thomas Newcome, rector of Shenley, we find the following interesting entry relating to John Heywood, of Austerlands, under date March 27th, 1658, though it must have had a subsequent addition: "(Saturday). Old John Heywood, of Saddleworth, came again to me to bespeak me to the excercise there (at Saddleworth) for some month. I had intended to have excused it because of my weak body and the great distance, &c., but I found the good man so heartily and resolutely importunate that I did yield to him. And in discourse with him he told me how many years he had trudged about in that work, and that Mr. Angier once asked him whether he was better in the world or worse since he took that pains, and he said he was better. Mr. Angier answered he was glad, for he desired that such men as he might prosper." Mr. Newcome then refers to 2 Chron. xxvii. 6, the words of which are: "So Jotham became mighty because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God," adding, "God will indeed bless those that are eminently serviceable for him. I was so taken with his faithfulness (says Mr. Newcome) that I not only yielded to him for that time but resolved and promised not to deny him whilst he and I lived if not otherwise hindered, for I would be loath to discourage the spirit which the Lord had put upon him. And I did not fail him save only one summer that I was by sickness freely excused by him himself until the fatal August 24th, 1662, just about
which time when his work, which he had been in above thirty years, was now quite routed by the silencing of all those that upheld that exercise, it pleased God to remove him by death." Surely, this is a beautiful notice of old John Heywood's life and character.
The Rev. Henry Newcome was a Presbyterian minister of Manchester Old Church, now the Cathedral, and resided in Manchester. He wrote both an autobiography and a diary, and in the latter he tells of one of his journeys to Saddleworth Church in 1662, Mr. Ralph Wood being the minister of Saddleworth at that time: "Wednesday, June 4th, we set out towards Saddleworth, and got thither after ten. I preached on Exodus, 20 c., 24 v., Mr. Jones on 17 Psalm, 5 v. We got home about. eight." The Mr. Angier mentioned here was John Angier, minister of Denton Chapel. He had been longer in this district than Henry Newcome, and was therefore an old acquaintance of John Heywood's. The "fatal August 24th," mentioned by Newcome, was the day when he and other Presbyterian ministers must either conform to Episcopacy or leave their livings. Newcome and Angier had the courage of their opinions, and left the Episcopal Church. Wood, of Saddleworth, however, we are told by Calamy, was remarkably peremptory against conformity for a time, but afterwards conformed, and became a vain and debauched character. The struggle at this time was between Episcopacy and Presbyterianism. Newcome, Angier, and Wood were appointed by the Presbytery. Heywood was also a Presbyterian. When the bishops were restored these churches or chapels came back to Episcopacy, the choice resting with the incumbents whether or not they would conform. There is an odd mixture of gold and clay in the constitution of these old Puritans, devout men though they were.
Cockfighting was the popular sport of the period, and was patronised alike by Puritan and "Papist” as those of the other ilk were called. Every town and village had its cockpit. There was one or more at Manchester, there was one at Lees, one at Den, and, if I mistake not the meaning of the name, one at Austerlands. Newcome only preached against cockfighting with bated breath, and then only against the practice of profane swearing at these cockbattles. The Puritan Warden Hayricke preached not against cockfighting, but the Puritan curate Stopford gave it them "hot" on the subject whereupon we are told the Puritan magistrates bound him over to his good behaviour. Cockfighting seems to have been a pastime with the British people since the time that they dwelt together in clans and tribes. In the ancient village communities the cocker, like the hayward, had a distinct place, and on the estate of Sir John Assheton, of Ashtonunder-Lyne, there survived in 1422 William the Cocker. The survival of cock-penny like that of the aver-penny, carries us back to a very primitive state of society, and I can quite understand the old Puritans being perplexed how to treat cockfighting, a game which appears to us moderns so cruel and degrading. Cockfighting was so ingrained in the manners and customs of the people and supported both by law and those who administered the law that, like the fly in amber, its existence became a mystery. It had grown with the growth of the people, and was so knit together with their very nature that he must have been a bold man indeed who would openly rebuke those who practised it, and this accounts for many holy men of old being cockfighters.
On the question of tobacco, too, we have many quaint allusions by Newcome, who confesses to being its slave. In searching his mind on the subject he does not seem