This week’s blog was written by our volunteer Joe during lockdown…
Richard Ryley worked as a weaver based in Barnoldswick. The following three ‘Treasures in Store’ are some objects which focused on Richard’s life as an historian and diarist. Richard died on the 3rd September 1864 aged 43, possibly due to famine.
Treasure 1 :- Richard’s Diary
Richard kept his own diary from 1st January 1862 to 11th June 1864. Richard’s diary provided a unique insight into the social and cultural history of Victorian Britain and details issues such as poor working conditions. Poverty and regular bouts of ill-health were commonplace and detailed throughout with the diary. In this particular section of the diary, Richard details how the American Civil War caused problems in the supply of raw cotton.
The two photographs show the diary when opened measured 44.6cm (width) and 16.5 cm (height). When closed the diary measured 22.3cm (width) and 16.5cm (height). I recently helped to transcribe pages from the diary and one quote from Page 60 (Dec 25-27) which really stands out for me is:-
“It is now Christmas Eve and with a thankful heart I am enjoying a good fire. I have selected for my Christmas reading ‘Marmion’ by Sir Walter Scott. When past 12 o’clock my Brothers John, Jerry, and James came to the door and John sang a verse of ‘While Shepherds’, after which we all sat down to a cup of tea, some cheese and Christmas loaf”
This really captures the spirit of Christmas as well as Richard’s religious values.
Treasure 2:- Poor Relief Book
This poor relief book belonged to the Skipton Workhouse and Poor Law district 1826 – 1869. Due to increased poverty and illness, Richard had to sign this book to apply for out-relief and further assistance. This gave Richard special permission to live at home rather than at the workhouse so he could gain further payments. This was referenced in Richard’s diary via the following excerpt:-
“Aug 4th At work all Day, though I feel very unable. Mr Bracewell and Doctor Parry called at my house in the forenoon, and told my Wife that I must apply for Parochial relief on the following day, and expressed their surprize that I had not applied before”
When opened the book measured 42 x 2 x 33cm.
Treasure 3:- Book of Common Prayer
Richard visited the church at least once a week on Sundays. This particular book was dated 1809 and measured 11 x 4 x 17cm (when closed). In the excerpt from his diary, despite gaining strength from religion, Richard documents pessimism and hints that he has not got long to live.
“Jan:5th . Sunday. Went to St. James’ Church in the Morning, Text, Job, chap7. Ver6. An excellent sermon. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope”