The Old Oak Chest, 1867

Halifax Courier, Elland news – ‘On Monday night an old oak box, about eight feet long, kept at the Town’s Room, and which we are told was formerly kept in some part of the church, was the subject of investigation by several public gentlemen, it having been considered necessary to have it repaired as the bottom of it had fallen out, and it was known to contain some curious papers connected with the business of the town. On the box being opened it was found that many of the documents had been much injured by a mouse, the skeleton of which was found in about the middle of it. The papers are of various dates, from 1691 to 1840, so very numerous that scores of them have not yet been examined. Amongst the papers and parchments is one beautifully written in Latin; one showing the inhabitants to have proceeded against a former occupant of Elland mill for enclosing Mill Hill and sowing oats upon it, and ordering under what restrictions he should reap them; a list of adult inhabitants of Elland about 100 years ago; an official document from Leicester Square, addressed to the chief magistrate or magistrates of the town of Ealand, accompanying a set of bell-shaped new weights and a set of measures to be kept as a standard in the town; a fragment of a list of subscriptions to procure Queen Anne’s Bounty, which appeared to have been hung up in some place (probably at the church); a bundle of notes to the overseer of Elland, one of which is a receipt for curing somebody’s child of ‘scald head’, and warranting it a cure to stand; another paper in which the same worthy fellow states he has cured two children of a similar complaint, and he binds himself, his heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns to ‘uphold it’ for seven years. There are a number of accounts touching the erection of the old workhouse at this place, others about the expenditure at the same place, in which the item ‘2 oz. of shag bacca’ is of frequent occurrence; a host of documents having reference to affiliation cases, showing most of the fathers of the children to have been what were known as ‘clothiers’; instructions about the allotment of the militia, and who were eligible to serve; and a grant of a charter to the town to have a market.’

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