: PLACES AND FAMILIES
: Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales
[Communicated by Mr. Longstaffe.]
Johnny tuth' Bellas daft was thy poll,
When thou changed Bellas for Henknoll.
This saying, as given by Surtees, is still remembered near Bellasis, and
is preferable to Hutchinson's version of it from the east window of the
north transept of St. Andrew's Auckland church, where he says, "are
remains of an inscription painted on the glass; the date
beneath the inscription are the arms of Bellasys, and in a belt round
them the following words:
Bellysys Belysys dafe was thy sowel,
When exchanged Belysys for Henknowell."
Collins (followed by Hutchinson), who gives the proverb as--
Belasise, Belassis, daft was thy nowle,
When thou gave Bellassis for Henknowle,
connects it with a grant dated 1380, from John de Belasye to the convent
of Durham, of his lands in Wolveston, in exchange for the Manor of
Henknoll. But Bellasyse is not even within the Manor of Wolveston, and,
in fact, the Manor of Bellasye was held by the Prior in 1361; and we can
only account for the proverb by supposing that, at a former period,
Bellasyse had been exchanged for lands, but not the manor of Henknoll.
The legend dates the matter in crusading times, and is chivalric in the
extreme. John of Bellasis, minded to take up the cross, and fight in
Holy Land, found his piety sorely let and hindered by his attachment to
the green pastures and deep meadows of his ancestors. With resolution
strong, he exchanged them with the Church of Durham, for Henknoll, near
Auckland. He went to fight, but lived it seems to return and repent his
rash bargain. I descend by one step, from the sublime to the ridiculous,
to mention how oddly more recent characters are wound round those of
olden time, for a popular notion is that the Red-Cross Knight had
enormous teeth, and was passionately addicted to "race-horses!"
Children, moreover, have a dark saying when they leap off anything:
Bellasay, Bellasay, what time of day?
One o'clock, two o'clock, three and away!
Miss Bellasyse, the heiress of Brancepeth, died for love of Robert
Shafto, of Whitworth, whose portrait at Whitworth represents him as very
young and handsome, with yellow hair. He was the favorite candidate in
the election of 1791, when he was popularly called Bonny Bobby Shafto;
and the old song of the older Bobby, who, it seems, was also "bright and
fair, combing down his yellow hair," was revived with the addition
Bobby Shafto's looking out,
All his ribbons flew about,
All the ladies gave a shout--
Hey, for Bobby Shafto!
The most ancient verses of the old song seem to be--
Bobby Shafto's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shafto.
Bobby Shafto's bright and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair;
He's my ain for evermair,
Bonny Bobby Shafto.
An apocryphal verse says,--
Bobby Shafto's getten a bairn,
For to dangle on his arm--
On his arm and on his knee;
Bobby Shafto loves me.
John Lively, Vicar of Kelloe,
Had seven daughters and never a fellow.
An equivocal rhyme of the bishopric, which may either mean that the
parson of the sixteenth century had no son, or that he had no equal in
learning, &c. He certainly, however, mentions no son in his will, in
which he leaves to his daughter Elizabeth, his best gold ring with a
death's head in it (Compare Love's Labour Lost, v. 2), and seventeen
yards of white cloth for curtains of a bed, and to his daughter Mary his
silver seal of arms, his gimald ring, and black gold ring. Another
version of the proverb reads "six daughters," and indeed seven is
often merely a conventional number.