Reeth Quadrille Band and its Members

Reeth Quadrille Band played an active and significant role in the social life of the area for at least thirty years in the second half of the nineteenth century. The earliest reference to the band to have come to light so far occurred in an article about West Witton Feast and Races, which were held on 24 and 25 August 1858. The article, which was published in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle on 28 August 1858, stated: “In two of the principal inns in the evening of each feast day, a ball took place, and the ball rooms on each occasion were filled. The ball at Mr. Peter Graham’s [the Black Bull Inn] was conducted by Mr. Thomas Harrison, of Reeth, as leader, whose style of playing on the violin was universally admired. He was ably assisted both nights by Mr. Mark Peacock, of Reeth, whose excellent performances on the accordion gave great satisfaction. At the ball at Mr. Harrison’s [William Harrison, the licensee of the Duke William], the dancing went on to the strains of Mr. C. Rayne’s able performances on the violin.”

There was no Thomas Harrison living in Reeth according to the 1851 and 1861 censuses. This, together with the mention of a Mr. Harrison who was the landlord of an inn at which a ball took place during West Witton Feast, suggests that the newspaper reporter confused the landlord with the fiddle player. In all probability, the fiddler from Reeth was Thomas Hammond, not Harrison, and this is reinforced by another report in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle on 2 October 1858, which refers to Thomas Hammond and Ward Peacock from Reeth playing at Redmire Feast and Races on 27 and 28 September 1858. “There was a ball at the King’s Arms Inn both on Monday and Tuesday evenings, Mr. Thos. Hammond, of Reeth, leading the music on his violin., assisted by Mr. Ward Peacock on the accordion. Another ball was held the same evening at Mr. A. Calvert’s, to the strains of Mr. H. Cleminson on the violin. The music at both places was excellent, and the entertainments on each occasion passed off most pleasantly.” Henry Cleminson (1829-1914) was a shoemaker from Reeth. Thomas Hammond (1803-67) was also from Reeth: a brief biography of him is given towards the end of this article.

The report about West Witton Feast also mentions Mark Peacock from Reeth as the accordionist accompanying Thomas Hammond and C. Rayne as the violinist who played at the Duke William. Mark Peacock could be a mistake for Ward Peacock, who was mentioned elsewhere in the 28 August article as the winner of athletic events at West Witton (see below). However, there was a Mark Peacock (1832-94) who was a lead miner living in Low Row, near Reeth, who could well have been the accordionist. It is highly likely that C. Rayne was Christopher Rayne or Raine (1824-97), a lead miner from Arkengarthdale, near Reeth, who was mentioned by the local vicar as playing the fiddle for the Arkengarthdale sword dancers in 1869.

The first specific mention of Reeth Quadrille Band was in an article in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle on 21 February 1863 reporting on a tea and dance given on 14 February to celebrate the re-opening of High Fremington School. Reeth Quadrille Band was also mentioned in the same newspaper on 18 July 1863, having played for a dance in Reeth on 3 July, alternating through the evening with Reeth Brass Band. The next mention of Reeth Quadrille Band was in an article about Reeth Ball, for which they played on 3 January 1867 at the Red Lion Inn. No members of the band were named specifically in any of these reports, but Ward Peacock was reported as having been in attendance at the ball in 1867.

An article in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle on 14 December 1867 stated: “The third readings in connection with the Mechanics’ Institute were held in the Fremington schoolroom, on Wednesday the 4th inst., the Rev. M. White in the chair. The entertainment was of a very superior order, great credit being due to Messrs. Ward Peacock, T. Hammond, and H. Croft, for the effective manner polkas, quadrilles, &c., were performed on the violin, concertina, and bass fiddle.”

Hornby Croft Ward Peacock Thomas Hammond junior
(courtesy of Swaledale Museum, Reeth)

Although the 14 December article did not refer to them as members of Reeth Quadrille Band, another report in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle on 28 December 1867 did. “REETH. – The fourth of a series of penny readings in connection with the Mechanics’ Institute was given to a crowded audience on Friday evening week.” The programme included Downfall of Paris, a waltz called Happy Dreams, and a schottische called My Daughter’s Favourite, all performed by the Quadrille Band, which comprised Ward Peacock, Thomas Hammond and Hornby Croft. The article stated: “The pieces by the quadrille band also gave unbounded satisfaction, and at the close Mr W. Peacock, the leader of the band, was called upon to play the “Cuckoo Solo” on the violin, which he gave in his usual brilliant style.” The music for all four of these tunes can be found at the end of this article.

It is clear from the evidence available that the fiddle player Thomas Hammond led the band until at least 1858, and that it may or may not have been known as Reeth Quadrille Band at that time. Ward Peacock had joined the band by 1858, playing the accordion, but he had transferred to playing the fiddle by 1867, by which date he was the leader and the band was calling itself Reeth Quadrille Band. The Thomas Hammond who was recorded as a band member in 1867 was the son of the previous leader of the band, who had died earlier that year, and H. Croft was Hornby Croft. Although the band’s instruments were described as “violin, concertina, and bass fiddle,” it appears from the above photograph that the bass fiddle was a cello and that the concertina was actually a flutina. This instrument was a precursor to the single-row melodeon, sometimes called an accordion, these instruments being frequently confused with one another by non-musicians. The photograph of Reeth Band, in which Ward Peacock is in the centre and Thomas Hammond junior and Hornby Croft are believed to be either side of him, shows the right-hand figure holding a flutina. While it is not known which man played the flutina and which played the “bass fiddle” or cello, it is likely that Thomas Hammond junior was the flutina player. Margaret Batty referred in Bygone Reeth (pub. 1985) to a musical event that probably occurred in the early or mid-1860s: “For an evening’s private entertainment in the mid-century Thomas Hammond and his son played the violin and accordion for 2s. 6d.”

The fifth Reeth Penny Reading took place in Low Fremington Schoolroom on 11 January 1868, when Reeth Quadrille Band, again comprising Ward Peacock, Hornby Croft and Thomas Hammond, performed New Year Quadrilles, De Amor Waltz, and Picco Polka. Attempts to locate the music for these tunes have proved unsuccessful, although the last might be one of several tunes called Polka Piqué. Another brief report in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle stated that Penny Readings were held at Keld on Friday 21 February 1868 and that among the performers was an unnamed “quadrille band”. Unless there was another quadrille band in upper Swaledale or in the Hawes area at that time for which no evidence has surfaced, this was likely to have been the Reeth Quadrille Band.

Reeth Quadrille Band and Reeth Saxe Horn Band (brass band) shared the musical duties at a ball held in Reeth on 29 December 1868. An account of the first Downholme Gala, held on 31 August 1869, refers to Reeth Brass Band opening the proceedings and in the next breath mentions dancing to the strains of a quadrille band. The assumption that this was Reeth Quadrille Band is strengthened by the mention of a Mr. Croft performing the song Robinson Crusoe to popular acclaim. In all probability, this was Reeth Quadrille Band member Hornby Croft. The quadrille band also played for the evening ball that concluded Downholme Gala.

The Penny Readings the following year, 1869, commenced on 10 November and once again Hornby Croft contributed at least one song and the Reeth Brass and Quadrille Bands both played a selection of melodies. The next mention in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle of the Reeth Quadrille Band came on 21 December 1872, when it reported on a dinner and social gathering at the Buck Inn given by Sir George Denys and his wife. The evening concluded with dancing “to the strains of the Reeth Quadrille Band, under the efficient leadership of Mr. Wm. Peacock”. It seems likely that Ward Peacock’s name had been misreported as ‘Wm.’, but it could be correct because Ward had a brother called William who was four years his elder. It is possible that it was William who was leading the band at this point, but no other references to William as a musician have come to light.

Another report in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle mentions Ward Peacock playing the violin to accompany a concert by Grinton Parish Church Choir on 18 March 1873. He also played at a concert held at Fremington schoolroom in aid of Reeth Mechanics’ Institute on 9 March 1884, when the concert was followed by a dance “to the strains of the Reeth Quadrille Band”. Another reference to a quadrille band came in a report of a public tea at Muker in the Literary Institute on 29 October 1879. “After tea a grand entertainment was given in the national school-room, by the Gunnerside Quartette [sic] Society.” Among the performers at this “grand entertainment” was an unnamed quadrille band, but it is more likely that this was one from Gunnerside than the Reeth band.

However, the Reeth Quadrille Band was still active at this time because it performed for a dance held in Fremington School on 20 February 1880, which followed on from a tea provided for the scholars. The band also played for a ball given by Mr. Whitelock of Cogden Hall on 8 February 1883 in Fremington schoolroom that didn’t finish until daylight.

The last references to Reeth Quadrille Band that have come to light were reports in the Northern Echo and the York Herald of a supper given on 6 June 1888 at Grinton Lodge by Colonel Charlesworth, the lord of the manor, to a group of shepherds and miners in his employ. Presumably their wives were also in attendance, because “the Reeth Quadrille Band was in attendance, and a most agreeable evening was spent in dancing and singing”.

Shortly thereafter, the Reeth Quadrille Band ceased to perform, probably because Ward Peacock left the area in 1889. Tom Hammond had also left by the time of the census in April 1891. Ward Peacock moved to Howarth in West Yorkshire and Tom Hammond went to Oldham in Lancashire.

Ward Peacock was born at Reeth in March 1839 and baptised on 1 April that year at Grinton Church. He was the son of Thomas Peacock, who was described in the 1851 census as a shoemaker employing two men. By 1861 Ward was following his father’s profession and in 1871 he was described as a “Boot Maker & Dealer”, his father having retired.

Ward first came to local prominence not as a musician but as an athlete. The earliest mention of his sporting prowess came in connection with West Witton Annual Sports on 24 August 1858, when Ward was 19 years old: “In the race for men, Clark, of West Witton, was backed at 2 to 1 against all that started. Clark had scores of backers, but few takers, but he was easily defeated by Ward Peacock, of Reeth. This race was looked forward to by all with great interest, for Clark was regarded by his friends as the champion of Wensleydale, and much disappointment was felt by them at the result.” Ward’s successes continued with victory in a “foot-race for men” at Redmire Feast on 27 September 1858, where he won ten shillings.

The following year, a contest was arranged between Ward Peacock and a man from Harmby in lower Wensleydale to take place at Preston-under-Scar on 13 June 1859. The York Herald announced the forthcoming contest as follows: “FOOT RACE. ̶ A match of great local interest, between John Taylor, of Harmby, better known as “The Navvie,” and Ward Peacock, of Reeth, is arranged to come off at Preston, near Leyburn, on Monday next. The distance is 500 yards, and the stakes 15 sovs aside. Each man is the “crack” of his district, and as both are warmly supported by their respective parties a severe race may be expected. The men have run together on one occasion in a sweepstake at Redmire, which was won by Peacock.” 15 sovereigns would have been a lot of money in those days, but unfortunately the result of the race is not known.

Ward Peacock’s versatility as an athlete was attested in a report in the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle on 29 September 1860 regarding the celebrations at Easby Abbey, near Richmond, to mark the 21st birthday of Leonard Jaques, the eldest son of R. M. Jaques, Esq., the proprietor of the abbey. Among the festivities were some sports, after which Ward Peacock from Reeth was presented with a watch for winning a foot race for youths under 20, five shillings for winning the “running jump”, 7s. 6d. for winning the hop, step and jump, and five shillings for winning “a running jump over cat gallows”. Jumping over cat gallows was an early form of high jump. Ward appears to have bent the rules regarding the foot race for youths under 20 because he had turned 21 years of age a few months earlier.

After the initial reference in 1858 to Ward playing the accordion, none of the later sources mention him playing anything other than the violin, so it is not known whether he continued playing the accordion/melodeon. Clearly, he was a very accomplished violinist. Evidence for this comes from the high regard in which he was held throughout the area for his skill on the instrument and also from the nature of the pieces he played at the Penny Reading on 20 December 1867. The Cuckoo Solo was a particularly challenging piece “which he gave in his usual brilliant style”.

At the second annual meeting of the Reeth Mechanics’ Institute in November 1866, Ward Peacock was elected to the committee and he was re-elected the following year, this time to the position of ‘collector’. A magistrates’ meeting in Richmond on 22 April 1872 saw him appointed as one of the constables for the township of Reeth. Further diversification of his activities came in 1879 when the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle announced on 5 July that a dentist from Richmond called J.J. Bradley would be available to patients in Reeth fortnightly on Friday afternoons at the house of Mr. Ward Peacock. The 1881 census confirmed that he was still practising as a “Boot Maker & Dealer” at that time.

Ward Peacock in later life with his fiddle (courtesy of Paul Ward Peacock)

In 1882, Ward tried his hand at running an inn. The Richmond & Ripon Chronicle announced: “THE “BLACK BULL” AT REETH. ̶ Mr. Ward Peacock has obtained a transfer of license of this Inn, a temporary authority having been granted him on the 8th of April.” He began with great optimism. The same newspaper gave notice on 16 December 1882 that “Mr. Ward Peacock, of the Black Bull, has announced a programme of sports and an entertainment in connection with the opening of his house next Friday. Substantial prizes are offered for a 300 yards’ handicap footrace, a scratch race 150 yards, and a foxhound trail. In the evening, prizes will be given for the best vocalists, and the dales being famed for its singers, a good entertainment will doubtless result.”

However, this venture proved short-lived. In late August and early September, the York Herald and the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle both reported that Ward Peacock had been found guilty of permitting drunkenness in the Black Bull on 17 February and was ordered to pay costs. The absence of a fine was probably due to the fact that Ward had already surrendered the licence of the Black Bull before the case came before the magistrates in August 1883.

Ward had married Marie Charlotte de la Crétaz on 30 October 1875. Born in Switzerland, Marie was a naturalised British subject, who, at the time of their marriage, was living in the household of Colonel Charlesworth at Grinton Lodge. Her marriage certificate described her as being of independent means, so she appears to have been a guest rather than a household servant. Marie Charlotte bore Ward five sons and three daughters, of whom one son and one daughter died in infancy and another son was killed at the Battle of Ypres in 1914. Orlando, the eldest child, inherited his father’s athletic ability, as the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle reported on 10 July 1886. “FOOTRACE AT ARKLETOWN. ̶ The other evening a very interesting match was decided for a stake of £2. George Garbutt, 13 years of age, was asked to concede ten yards in a hundred to Orlando Peacock, aged nine years, a son of Ward Peacock, a veteran champion of the dales. Any odds were laid upon Garbutt, but to the surprise of everybody the youngster won easily at the finish.”

Ward Peacock and his family left Reeth in 1889, moving to Howarth, where Ward plied his trade as a boot and shoemaker while his four eldest sons, aged 14 to 10 in 1891, worked as spinners in a worsted factory. In 1908, Ward was still working as a boot and shoemaker at Howarth, but by 1911 he had retired and moved to Keighley, where he died at the age of 80. He was buried on 26 September 1919 at Utley Cemetery on the outskirts of Keighley. His widow Marie died in 1936 at the age of 83 and is buried alongside Ward in Utley Cemetery.

Thomas Hammond senior, possibly the founder of the Reeth Quadrille Band and certainly Ward Peacock’s predecessor as its leader, was born in 1803 in Reeth. On 15 September 1805 he and his twin sister Ellen “son & dau. Of Christopher Hammond of Reeth were christened at Grinton Church when they were each two years of Age or upwards”. Nothing is known of Thomas until his marriage at Grinton Church on 1 April 1835 to Elizabeth Pedelty. Unable to sign his name, Thomas made his mark on the form in the parish register that recorded their marriage. In 1841 Thomas was a lead miner living at Riddings, on the hillside between Healaugh and Reeth, with his wife and three young children. Another child, called Thomas after his father, was born at Riddings in 1842, at which time Thomas senior was described as a lead miner and farmer. By 1851 Thomas senior had become a farmer at Swale Hall just outside Grinton. The earliest reference to him as a musician came in 1858 at West Witton Feast when he was described as the leader of the band, “whose style of playing the violin was universally admired”.

By 1861 he had changed his occupation again, becoming an inn keeper in Reeth. He remained an inn keeper until his death on 13 April 1867. His body lies in Grinton churchyard. The identity of the inn Thomas kept in later life does not appear in the records, but it may have been the Half Moon. The 1871 census recorded his son Thomas as the landlord of the Half Moon in 1871, only four years after his father’s death.

Thomas Hammond junior was born at Riddings in 1842 and baptised at Grinton Church on 7 August of that year. In 1861 he was an 18-year-old lead miner whilst living at his father’s inn. The first reference to Thomas junior as a musician was when he played for Penny Readings at Reeth in December 1867 together with Ward Peacock and Hornby Croft. The only reference to the instrument Thomas junior played occurs in Margaret Batty’s book Bygone Reeth (pub. 1985), where she stated that father and son played the fiddle and accordion for 2s. 6d. for a “private entertainment”, but she did not cite the source of this information. The accordion was probably the flutina shown in the photograph.

On 9 December 1869 Thomas junior married Margaret Peacock of Reeth. Thomas was a 27-year-old miner at the time. Two years later he was the landlord of the Half Moon Inn, which was next door to the Black Bull, although Thomas left the Half Moon before Ward Peacock’s brief tenure at the Black Bull. Thomas’ household at the Half Moon comprised his wife, their baby son, and Thomas’ widowed mother. By 1881, he had left the Half Moon Inn and was working once more as a lead miner to maintain his wife and seven children, supplementing his income by playing with the Reeth Quadrille Band. However, lead mining in Swaledale was in terminal decline, so the family left the dale. The 1891 census records Thomas as working as an “Iron Slider” in a factory at Oldham in Lancashire, while three of his sons were employed as cotton spinners. He died in Oldham in 1898 at the age of 56.

Hornby Croft was born at Reeth in 1839, the son of Christopher and Mary Croft, and baptised at Grinton on 14 April 1839. His father was variously described as a glazier, a plumber, and a plumber and glazier in the record of his baptism and in the censuses of 1841 and 1851. By 1861 Hornby and his elder brother James were both working in the same trade as their father. Hornby married Elizabeth Hammond on 13 March 1862. Elizabeth was the daughter of Thomas Hammond senior, which meant that Thomas Hammond junior and Hornby Croft, who played together in the Reeth Quadrille Band, became brothers-in-law.

Hornby was definitely a member of Reeth Quadrille Band by 1867 and it is probable that he joined the band several years earlier than that. There is no specific reference to the instrument(s) that Hornby played. If the assumption is correct that Thomas Hammond junior was the flutina player in the photograph of Reeth Band, then Hornby Croft will have been the cellist in that photograph. He may have played other instruments in addition to the cello, and he was certainly a singer. The Richmond & Ripon Chronicle reported that Hornby sang at Penny Readings and in concerts on several occasions: for instance, at Downholme Gala on 31 August 1869, he sang ‘Robinson Crusoe’ to an enthusiastic reception, but on 16 March 1883, “suffering from a cold, Mr. Hornby Croft was unable to do his best with ‘The Blacksmith’.”

The 1871 and 1881 censuses both recorded Hornby Croft as a plumber and painter living in Reeth with his wife and only daughter. By 1881, Hornby’s mother-in-law Elizabeth, the widow of Thomas Hammond senior, was also living with them. Elizabeth died in 1888, but otherwise there was no change in 1891, when their 27-year-old daughter Mary was still living at home with her parents.

Hornby’s wife Elizabeth died in 1895, after which his unmarried daughter took over the duties of housekeeper. This remained the situation until at least 1911, when Hornby, at the age of 72, was still working as a plumber and glazier, and his daughter Mary, aged 46 was the only other member of the household. Hornby died in 1922 at the age of 83, having lived in Reeth for his entire life, and was buried in Grinton churchyard on 29 May 1922.