This undated letter, believed to be from Peter
Denys of Fremington, Sheriff of Northamptonshire (b 1760,
d 28.11.1816) is addressed to Doctr Barker Sen, Healaugh,
Swaddle. This is probably John Barker, born January 17th 1732,
the second son of Adam and Elizabeth (nee Thornton) Barker.
In 1749 John entered a five year apprenticeship with Thomas
Kearton (apothecary and surgeon) of Yarm. John married Hannah
Elliott of Fremington in 1786. They had no children and she
died in 1790 but John lived until 1818 and a memorial stone
in Grinton churchyard refers to him as a surgeon. His brothers,
Robert and James, also became doctors and a descendant of
Robert still lives in Healaugh.
Peter Denys' mention of 'Neighbours & Opponents' is almost
certainly a reference to the French and an almost continuous
period of warfare from 1792 until 1815 - the French Revolutionary
and Napoleonic Wars - occasionally called the Great French
War. The term 'Bloody Backs' was an abusive nickname for British
soldiers (referring to their redcoats).
Dear Doctr Barker
Notwithstanding the unconquerable aversion my Friend has for
the useless tribes of Bloody Backs I hope that setting
aside the profession and my addressing you as an undisguised
plain swaledale neighbour will entitle me to a return of that
Frankpledge, I so much Esteem, & which with pride &
pleasure I can always boast of as the prevailing characteristic
of the Gentlemen of swaddle. As Shakespear the English Bard
expresses himself -
"I'll speak of them as they are, Nothing Extenuate, nor
set down aught in malice; But give them their Due."
Whether Buisiness calls me into Cumberl..d or into Northamp..re
or to the Motropolis, the Emperium of buisiness, my thoughts
are at frequent intervals struggling to make a flight to swaddle,
and am vain enough to fancy I think oftener of my swaddle
Friends than they do of me. But I hope yet to be better acquainted
and be often happy with them before we die
At the present moment I must confess it wo..d be less pleasing
to me as I hate disputes, But I Hope there will soon be an
End of the Matter & that our Neighbours & Opponents
will be Righted in which case we shall think ourselves so
If the truth is spoken - for which ever side prevailes I shall
always revere those laws by which the merits of the cause
is to be tried, as a part of that Noble & impartial Constitution.
It is the Duty of every Englishman. / Let him be a Blo..y
B..k or a Sea Lubb.r / to protect & support.
My Lord the Captain & my Brother desire me to present
their good wishes - and hope you will remember me kindly to
your Brother Mr Gregson Mr Langhorn Mr Alderson & all
Friends or otherwise.
With much Esteem
Believe me Dear Sir
yours P Denys
If you ever wish to send me a few lines give it to Geo. Emmerson
Further Denys memorabilia include a funeral
invoice to Sir George Denys, Mildenhall, for the funeral
of a Miss Denys, dated January 1826 and a letter to Sir George
Denys at Draycott Hall, Reeth confirming
his resignation from North Riding of Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers