Questions to Witnesses – Nathaniel Crewe – 8 Oct 1686

Document Type: Questions to Witnesses
Date: 8 Oct 1686
Correspondent: Nathaniel Crewe
Archive Source: TNA E134 2Jas2 Mich 42
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Interrogatories Exhibited to be administered to such witnesses as will be [missing] sworne and examined on the part and charge of the Right Reverend Father in God [missing] Lord Bpp [Bishop] of Durham Comp[lainan]t ag[ains]t Humphrey Wharton Esqr Defend[an]t 

Imp[rimi]s    Doe you know the Comp[lainan]t the now Lord Bpp [Bishop] of Durham and the Defend[an]t in this suite. Did you know the Right Reverend Father in God John late Lord Bpp [Bishop] of Durham or any, and which of them declare your knowledge

2   Doe you know the Lead Mynes and Groves of and belonging to the Defend[an]t within the Parishes of  Stanhopp and Wolsingham or any and which of them? Were the same granted to the Defend[an]t by the said John late Lord Bpp [Bishop] for yeares or lives or for what terme, is the said terme in being; Did the said John late Lord Bpp [Bishop] reserve to himselfe and his successors the Lott or Nyneth part of all Lead Oar to be Dugg or gotten in the said Mynes within the said Parishes, clean and well washed, without any deducc[i]ons of or for any manner of charges for the winning, getting, or workeing of the same or any other charges whatsoever? How many Mynes or Groves are in Partnershipp lett out by the Defend[an]t and how many in the Defend[an]ts owne hands. Did you att any time; and when? make a demand of the Lott or Nyneth part and Arrears thereof for the Comp[lainan]t , at his Mynes or any of them, and where? what Answere had you to such Demand, and what was the occation of such Answere? as you know, have heard, or believe?

3  What quantities of Lead Oare have been yearly dugg or gotten in the said Mynes ? and what was the price or value of the same before any deducc[i]on of charges for winning, getting and washing the same by the said Defend[an]t, or any persons by them employed? and what sum[m]es of money hath the said Humphrey Wharton, or his Agents expended or laid out in workemens wages for the carrying on of the said Mynes? and were they not paid according to the quantity of the Oare wrought and was not the sum[m]e of forty shillings [3 words deleted] paid per Bing [2 -3 words deleted] of Lead Oare wrought and noe more?  or after what rate were the said workemen paid Declare your Knowledge herein.

4  Doe you know, verily beleive, or have credibly heard what quantities of Lead Oare have been wrought by the Defend[an]ts partners, and agents any or which  of them out of the said Mynes, and Groves and brought to the severall Smelting Mills of the Defend[an]t and which of them?  between the twelfth day of February in the year of oure Lord 1676 till February in the year of our Lord 1684? Were you employed by the Comp[lainan]t  or whom? to take an Account of the same? What quantitys of Oare came to any or which of the said Smelting Mills dureing the time of your employment? how long did you soe take an account what quantity or quantities came to each or any of the said Mills dureing the time of your being soe employed? Did any attend the bringing in of Oare to the Mill where you were employed in your absence and who did it did you take an exact account of him at your returne doe you beleive that <some Oare> was brought to the Mills in the night <time when> you did not set downe in writeinge nor charge the Defend[an]t with it?

5  Have you been agent, parte[ner], or Servant to the Defend[an]t and partners from the twelfth day of February 1676 till February 1684 for the  receiveing, selling, disposeing, or Shipping of Lead or Lead Oare for any and which of them? and for what time? How much have you shipped away, sold, or disposed for the Defend[an]t and partners or by his or their orders? What is the value of the said Lead or Lead Oare soe shipped or disposed of Doe you keep books of accounte of your receiveing and shipping the same? what doth the quantity <aney value>  appear to be dureing the time of your employment. Did the Lead or Leade Oare come from the Defend[an]t partners or Agents of <Weardale>  or from what place? as you know have heard, or believe?


6  Doe you know that any Articles of Agreement were made and when Between the Right noble Lord Marquesse of Winchester and the Def[endan]t  touching any his Mynes  in question and what Mynes? Are they pertinent to any and what Mynes within the Parishes of Stanhopp and Wolsingham. therein or what doe think contained  in these Articles menconing which part the said Lord Marquesse did he pay for the Nyneth Lott or Nyneth part of the Mynes in partnershipp?  whether a third part of the Nyneth  Lott of all the Lead Oare got out of the Mynes within the Parishes aforesaid or what part? Is there not a Covenant in the said Articles that the Defend[an]t shall keep records of Accompt [accounts] relateing to the whole Mynes in question and will produce <....   ....> the same to the said Lord Marquesse or his Agents upon any or what occations [word deleted] Doe you know of any and which  Accompts and when pay’d between the said Lord Marquesse and the Def[endan]t or their Agents in pursuance of the said Articles and How many Accompts have you known or heard were Soe payd about when and for what yeares. To what quantity of Lead and value and for what time did any and which Accompts amount unto? Hath the defend[an]t or his Agents or any and which of them denyed at any time and when to produce the bookes of Accompts to any and which of the Agents or servants of the said Lord Marquesse? why did the Defend[an]t or his Agents not produce the same declare as you have heard or doe believe?

7  What doe you know of your own Knowledge, verily believe or have credibly heard concerning the said Defend[an]t Humphrey Wharton? gaineing or procureing a certain Lease or Grant of the said Lott or Ninth part of the Lead Mynes and Groves from the said John late Lord Bpp [Bishop] of Durham for and under the yearly rent of threescore Pounds and when and in what names was the said Lease obtained? Was it not obtained from the said late Lord Bpp [Bishop] of Durham by supprize and at his first entry into the sea of Durham before they <enquired>of the true value of his p[re]misses? And have you not often and when heard the said Lord Bpp declare as much and complaine of the same, declare your knowledge herein?

8 What doe you know, verily believe, or have credibly heard concerning the yearly value of the said Customary parts of the said p[re]misses and Lead Mynes in question called the Ninth Lott and tenth are the same equall of the value or which of them doth exceed in value? And doe you know, verily believe or have credibly heard that at the very same time the said Defend[an]t Humphrey Wharton did onely pay for the said <illegible> part called the Nyneth Lott the said summe of threescore pounds unto the said late Lord Bpp he the said Defend[an]t Humphrey Wharton did pay unto the said Doctor Basier for the tenth part of the said P[re]misses the yearly rent or sume of two hundred and fifty pounds, or some other great yearly sume of moneys [deleted] <particate>. Declare your knowledge herein.

9 What doe you know of your own knowledge, verily beleive, or have credibly heard concerning the working and getting of Lead Oare out of the Groves of the same P[re]misses and the Mixing the said new wrought oare with the <illegible word> lying formerly wrought without? Doe you conceive or have been credibly informed that the said new wrought Lead Oare <illegible word> not be laid dystinct and separate from the said Old heapes of the said Defend[an]t Humphrey Wharton or his servants <1-2 illegible words> other Agents, or that the said new wrought Lead Oare was wilfully and on purpose thrown into, and intermixed or  <... to suggeste> acts <.......> the true quantity of Leade Oare as there wrogget [wrought]  that the said Comp[lainan]t should not dysclose the <true value of the>  Same. Declare your knowledge herein.

10 Doe you know verily beleive, or have credibly heard that the said Defend[ant] Humphrey Wharton or some of his Agents and who by name, did threaten to beat and assalt and bring Acc[i]ions of trespasse against such persons as were appointed to take an account of the quantities of Lead Oare wrought from time to time on the behalfe of the Comp[lainan]t. and did hinder them from comeing upon the grounds where the said Lead Mynes stand being the onely place where such Accounts could be taken alledging the said premises  belong to him the said Humphrey Wharton and not to the said Lord Bpp [Bishop]the said Comp[lainan]t  Or what threatning words were used?

11 What other matter or thing doe you know or can materially depose touching the matters and things in difference between the Comp[lainan]t and defend[an]t on the part and behalfe of the Comp[lainan]t declare your knowledge thereof and how you know soe to depose.

[signed] Ja: [James] <Mackerton>

Deposic[i]ons of witnesses Produced Sworne & Examined on the part & behalfe of the Right

Reverend Father in God Nathaniel Lord Bpp [Bishop] of Durham Compl[ainan]t ag[ains]t Humphrey Wharton Esqr Def[en]d[an]t taken at the home of Hugh Jackson situate in Barnardcastle in the County of Durham the Eight day of October in the yeare of our Lord 1686 Annoq[ue] RR [Regni Regis] Dm [Domini]  n[ost]ri  Jacobi scdi [secundi] nunc Angliae &c Scotiae by John Crosby Richard Hilton & Ralph Gowland Gents by vertue of his Ma[jes]ties Comission issued out of the Court of Excheq[ue]r at Westm[inster] to them & Ralph  Tunstall Gents or any three or two of them on that behalfe directed.
These papers are the record of evidence, depositions, collected at Barnard Casrtle in October 1686 by commissioners appointed by the Exchequer Court in London. They form part of a case brought by the Bishop of Durham, Lord Nathaniel Crewe (whose charity still owns most of Blanchland village in the Derwent Valley) and Humphrey Wharton, of Gilling West in Swaledale.
Wharton (1626-94) was the ‘Moormaster’ of Weardale, which gave him the right to issue lead mining ‘tacks’ (exploratory ventures by small partnerships of miners) and leases (which usually followed tacks) within the extensive unenclosed lands in the large parishes of Wolsingham and Stanhope, which encompassed the lead mining district of Upper Weardale. At the risk of some simplification, the office of moormaster was in the gift of the Bishop, and had been in the hands of the Wharton family before and after the Civil War. From 1667 it was held under a lease for three lives at an annual rent to the Bishop of around £150 and, importantly, a tenth of the lead ore mined: the Bishop’s ‘lott’ ore. Strictly speaking, the lott ore was defined as ‘the bishop hath the ninth part, the whole being divided into ten equal parts’, and usually shortened to 'the Bishops ninth part', or 'the Bishops ninth’. Because the correct definition was lost for many years, and this set of Exchequer papers is one of the few places that contain a full description, this shortened 'ninth part' has often been interpreted as the modern fraction of one ninth rather than a tenth. The Rector of Stanhope had ‘the tenth part’, ie. also a tenth, as his tithe.

The lott ore was typically sold back by the Bishop to Wharton at a variable rate based on the price of smelted lead in Newcastle. Wharton ran three smelting mills in which the lead ore was processed, whether sold to him directly by the miners up and down Weardale or bought back from the Bishop. His mills were at Scotch Isle, just outside Wolsingham, Stanhopehope, about a mile north of Stanhope, and on the River Derwent, deep in the sinuous wooded gorge of that river west of Castleside on the present-day A68. The variable lott ore payment was wide-open to abuse of course. Wharton had every incentive to minimise the amount of ore he said was being mined, and great opportunity to do so, for the small Weardale lead mines were spread over a huge area of difficult moorland country. The ore was taken from the mines to the smelting mills in trains of carriers’ ponies. The Bishop’s best hope of monitoring production levels was to pay watchers to count the traffic approaching the three mills rather than leaving the far flung dozens of mines. Thus, several of the witnesses called in the case were lead ore carriers, and other ordinary Weardale people.  

As in all such cases the depositions take the form of a series of questions put by both sides in the dispute – interrogatories and counter-interrogatories – to witnesses, or deponents, called to give statements to the commissioners. The interrogatories, counter-interrogatories and depositions are given here in the order in which they are presented amongst the Exchequer Court papers. There are some missing and obscured sections which are indicated in the transcript, but enough has survived to provide a general sense of the nature of questions asked and evidence given. 

A guide to Exchequer Court procedure can be found at: A detailed example with a clear, full and useful explanation and commentary is the subject of Tim Gates’ The Great Trial’: A Swaledale Lead Mining Dispute in the Court of Exchequer, 1705-1708, (2012). 

The final outcome of the Crewe/Wharton case, agreed in a 1688 settlement, went in the Bishop’s favour.

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467