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On the 26th of Sept 1823 Mrs Beaumont arrived at Hexham on her way to Alanheads, and that Evening in a conversation she had with Mr C. Heads and others she signified that she had been of Opinion that the Commissioners of the Intended new line of Road could carry the line through the Cloisters and the Seal with or without her consent. Mr. Heads said they could not. She asked emphatically ‘can they do so Without my Consent’. The answer was ‘Madam, they cannot.’ She then inquired in the event of the Road crossing the Seal ‘how or where they would fill up the space in the Common after building the Bridge. One said ‘they will cut down the Seal to the Level and if necessary take the Gravel from the Seal Bank to fill up the Road to the Bridge. She asked (seemingly astonished) ‘but can they do without my consent.’ The answer was ‘Certainly not.’ She then asked how would they do with the Walks in that Case. One said ‘they will lay out the Wlaks below.’ She asked (Astonished) ‘but can they do so without my consent.’ On being told they could not she said emphatically ‘Then they shall not do so.’ Next morning soon Six O’clock she was in the Seal and after having examined the different lines of the Road in the Company of the Surveyor. On their return they met Mr. Jno Bell near that part of the Road where the Commissioners intended to carry their line. She expressed to him a Wish that a Few of the Townspeople would meet her that Morning about 8 O’clock. Accordingly at the time named a Number (some think about Fifty) assembled and about a quarter past eight Mrs Beaumont, accompanied by the Revd Mr.Lee [her chaplain] was seen walking towards the Multitude. We all moved down the Road to meet her and when we came Near unto her she made a sudden Stop, and kneeled to us (she seemed rather affected.) We all took off our hats. She recognised Mr. Scott and stepping forward said ‘Mr Scott, how are you?’ at the same time giving him her hand. Mr Scott said in reply ‘Very well thanks you ma’am. How’s Mr Beaumont’. She replied ‘he is nearly as he has been for some time past’. Then turning to us she said ‘Gentlemen pray do put on your hats.’ Which we all immediately did. She then said – ‘Gentlemen I have examined the Different lines of the Intended new Road, and I am fully of Opinion that the Temperley line [ie. as originally proposed in the Turnpike Act of 1820] is decidedly the best. I think it would be a great pity if the Inhabitants of Hexham were deprived of their Walks and no person will induce me to Consent to it. I doubt not but that they got the Consent of my Son … but tho I Give him the Rents and proceeds of my property here yet I am still Lady of the Manor (pointing to that part of the Seal the Commissioners meant to Cross) and (emphatically) No power upon Earth will induce me to Consent that the Inhabitants of Hexham will be deprived of the Comforts and priviledges they have long enjoyed in the Seal. Gentlemen (the tears were in her eyes) I thank you for your kindness and wish you all Good Morning.’ She then accompanied by Mr. Lee Walked up to the Place where her Carriage waited for her and tho’ some in the Crowd said ‘Three Cheers’ the request was not complied with out of tenderness to her feelings.
The original copy of this handwritten eye-witness account is sent to the Revd Anthony Hedley of Gateshead, in whose scrapbook copy the original was pasted is anonymous. However the identical handwritten copy in the similar scrapbook owned by Thomas Bell of Newcastle entitles it ‘Mr Wilson’s account of the proceedings relative to the Seal September 26th and 27th 1823’. He was the self-styled poet of Hexham, Matthew Wilson, prominent among those celebrating the outcome of the dispute. Rev Mr Lee probably the Rev Charles Lee Lecturer of Hexham succeeding Clarke in 1824? (c.1790-1862), curate St John Lee from 1814, lecturer Hexham from 1824, son of Richard Lee of Leeds, and nephew of William Lee, Diana’s brother-in-law