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Legend Of The Wild Cat

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

(From Hunter's " History of Doncaster.")

Respecting the manner of Percival Cresacre's death, there is a romantic tradition, firmly believed at Barnborough [co. York], and the figure of the lion couchant at the foot of the oaken statue is appealed to in confirmation of it ; as is also a rubiginous stone in the pavement of the porch. The tradition is, that he was attacked by a wild cat from one of the little woods of Barnborough, and that there was a running fight till they reached the porch of the church, where the mortal combat ended in the death of both.

Whatever portion of truth there may be in the story, it is evident that it derives no support from the image of the lion in the monument, or the tincture of the stone in the porch, which is only one of many such found near Barnborough. That some such incident did occur in the family of Cresacre is rendered, however, in some degree probable, by the adoption by them of the cat-a-mountain for their crest, which may be seen over their arms on the tower of the church. On the other hand, it may have been that the accidental adoption of the crest may have laid the foundation of the story. That the cat was anciently considered as a beast of chase, is evident from many proofs, going back to the age of the Confessor, in whose charter to Ranulph Piperking, supposing it to be genuine, there is given to him, with the forest of Chalmer and Dancing in Essex,

" Hart and hind, doe and bock,
Fox and cat, hare and brock."

And again,

"Four greyhounds and six raches
For hare and fox and wild cater."

In 6 John, Gerard Camvile had license to hunt the hare, fox, and wild cat. In 23 Henry III. the Earl Warren obtained from Simon Pierrepoint leave to hunt the buck, doe, hart, hind, hare, fox, goat, cat, or any other wild beast, in certain lands of Simon. In 11 Edward I., Thomas, the second Lord Berkeley, had license of the king to hunt the fox, hare, badger, and wild cat; and in 10 Edward III., John Lord Roos had license to hunt the fox, wolf, hare, and cat, throughout the king's forests of Nottinghamshire. All this, however, proves little for the tradition, which as a tradition only must be allowed to remain, only observing that in other parts of the district I have heard the wild cat spoken of as still an object of terror, and as haunting the woods.

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