Alan Crosby: The rogues of Moreton Pinkney

By Jon Bauckham, 10 September 2015 - 3:03pm

While searching through old newspapers last week, Alan Crosby found an extraordinary story concerning the residents of a Northamptonshire village

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 10 September 2015
Alan Crosby
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Moreton Pinkney Church

The church at Moreton Pinkney, Northamptonshire – once a village of scoundrels? (Photo: Ian Rob, under a Creative Commons licence)

Well, I said in last week’s blog that I’d probably be distracted when I was reading the Banbury Guardian, and so it turned out.

It was a slow business, not least because I found an extraordinary article published in early February 1849 that heaped piles of abuse upon the inhabitants of the innocent and tranquil Northamptonshire village of Moreton Pinkney (or at least, that is what I’d always assumed the village to be!)

For no apparent reason, Sir Henry Dryden of nearby Canons Ashby claimed that:

“The parents’ tuition of the children consists in lying and stealing, in the first of which, and frequently the last, the children are great proficients... The Moreton dictionary does not include such words as morality, honesty, truth, gratitude, &c but contains a fine collection of slang...

“We can produce from Moreton six men and six women who can equal in gross language and scurrilous abuse the same number from the alleys of Billingsgate or the slums of Manchester... at least half the grown up population are, as far as moral principle is concerned, fit for any crime from lying to murder.”

What on earth prompted such an attack? Perhaps the villagers of Moreton Pinkney were insufficiently respectful and did not show suitable deference. He was not the lord of the manor, but his house at Canons Ashby was only half a mile up the road, so maybe he felt aggrieved by their refusal to doff caps and tug forelocks.

If you have Moreton Pinkney ancestors I don’t think you should be worried – I think you should be rather proud!
 

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities

 

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Alan Crosby: Getting lost in local newspapers
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