Thieves Rogues And Vagabonds





The most notorious moonshiner in the Lake District lived in the Langdales. He was born around 1800 in Borrowdale, and lived at Low Arnside between Skelwith Bridge and Coniston. His name was Lancelot Slee. Lanty, as he was to be called, was of Irish descent and has been described as a 'stiff, fresh faced man of great endurance'.

Lanty's illicit business grew very quickly. He was constantly chased by authority but remained one step ahead. The moonshining prospered and Lanty moved to Arnside to live in an isolated house above his former farm. He built his largest still, which became known as Lanty's Cave, in a field here. There was another at Hallgarth, one above Langdale and yet another erected in a quarry near Tilberthwaite


Yewtree Farm and Wetherlm


Lanty farmed by day and delivered by night. He had many regular customers including a local magistrate. When fines were imposed they seemed strangely reduced by the time payments were made! Slee was arrested several times, even gaoled in Ambleside. One man, William Pattinson a supposed partner, tried to bring down Lanty after a bitter quarrel over the business.

So outraged was Pattinson that he went straight to the Magistrates and told all. On 9th May 1853 Lanty was convicted of illegal distillation of liquor and was fined the then huge Sum of 150 Pattinson was so worried that he fled the district. Lanty himself moved back to Little Langdale, to his old haunts, giving the impression of retiring. Slee, although turned sixty, was not yet finished and more stills appeared, one near the top of Wrynose and another close to the Three Shire Stones. Lanty died at Greenbank Farm in 1878 aged 78.




The Patricksons were reputedly known as the Kings of Ennerdale, living at Carswell How, which is now a large farmhouse at the entrance to Ennerdale Valley. Way back in the 1300's there were members of the Patrickson family always at law with someone. Two brothers, John and William burnt down the house of Robert Abbot, stole armour and a horse, burgled a Vicar's house and escaped from Appleby jail.

Around 1559 Roger Robinson sued William Patrickson for the return of a bond. Apparently Robinson had purchased sixty stones of wool from Patrickson in advance, taking security against value and delivery in the form of a bond. Robinson and his servant arrived to collect the final shipment from Patrickson, and whilst William occupied Roger in Conversation, his wife Francis induced the servant into handing over the bond, which he did thinking all had been completed. Thus Robinson lost on the deal.



Ennerdale Sunset


Willlam Patrickson's son Henry followed the family tradition and after a number of law suits over Church lands and other cases he became a bankrupt. In 1584 one of his creditors was owed 66. By 1591 he was incarcerated in London's Fleet Debtors' prison but still evaded his creditors. Somehow, by the end of the year he had obtained a free pardon.

Members of the family continued to get involved in dubious financial transactions, Litigation followed litigation and slowly the Patricksons lost ground. In the late 17th' century the last Patrickson, Thomas, was forced to sell Carswell How.





Christened Guido, Fawkes was born a protestant in York. Following his widowed mother's marriage to a man of Catholic background and sympathies, he converted to Roman Catholicism. Having enlisted in the Spanish Army in 1593, Fawkes played a part in the 1596 capture of Calais in the war against Henry IV. Professional explosives skills gained in the wars prompted his recruitment by Robert Catesby, originator and leader of the 'Gunpowder Plot', and Thomas Winter, to act as a subordinate in the fight against harsh anti-Catholic laws.


The Shambles, York At Night

On November 4th 1605 the basement of the House of Lords was searched by order of the Privy Council acting upon an anonymous tip-off. John Johnson, the man standing guard over the 'fuel stocks' was found, arrested and removed to The Tower. Over thirty barrels of explosives were discovered. Johnson confessed all on the rack and Guy Fawkes was hanged, with his accomplices, in 1606. Fawkes' name passed into folklore, together with the 'Gunpowder Plot', still celebrated on the fifth of November each year!





Fletcher Christian was born on 25th September 1764 at the farmstead of Moorland Close near to the market town of Cockermouth. After the death of his father and with his mother on the edge of bankruptcy, Christian, aged sixteen, went to seek adventure. He ran away to sea with the ship 'Cambridge' on which Bligh was 6th Lieutenant. Christian also took two trips with Bligh to Jamaica on the Britannia'.

In 1787 Captain Bligh had command of 'HMS Bounty' with instructions to take breadfruit trees from Tahiti to Jamaica. En route to Jamaica the crew of the Bounty mutinied under the leadership of Fletcher Christian, allegedly because of Bligh's quick temper and imperious manner. Bligh and eighteen loyal crewmen were cast adrift in the Pacific.


Vale Of Lorton,Cockermouth


The mutineers journeyed to Tahiti where they collected their Tahitian friends and sailed to Pitcairn Island. Christian made his home there with his Tahitian 'wife' Maimiti, her English name being Isabella after his cousin Isabella Curwen. Fletcher Christian died there on 3rd October 1793.

According to Bligh, Christian was five feet nine inches tall, with a very dark brown complexion, dark brown hair strong made, bowlegged, of nervous disposition, and subject to violent sweating. He had a star tattooed on his left breast. Christian had been described as having a pleasing countenance and was a commanding figure. Even his detractors admit that he had a like able personality. He was not a man who craved company, a loner who could have been a successful island entrepreneur. As it was, fate was not his ally. A school mate described him as mild, generous, open, humane, sincere and of spirit.



Thieves Rogues And Vagabonds