Bill o'th' Hoylus, real name William Wright, was born in 1836 at
the Hoylus End houses at Hermit Hole which is where he got his pen
It was on the 22nd day of March, 1836, in a village midway
between Keighley and Haworth, in a cottage by the wayside, that
I, William Wright, first saw light. The hamlet I have just alluded
to was and now is known by the name of Hermit Hole: which name,
by the way, is said to have been given to it owing to the fact
that a once-upon-a-timeyfied hermit abided there.
He attended the National School at Keighley, he left at the age
of fourteen to learn warp-dressing at a local mill. Soon after he
met a company of strolling actors which he joined for two years.
He then joined the West York Rifles rising to rank of sergeant.
Around 1859 he married and had three children.
wrote various pamphlets usually in a humorous Yorkshire dialect,
some of his works are: History o' Haworth Railway in 1867,
and his Howorth, Cowenheead, and Bogthorn Almenak in the
1870s. The front cover of his 1873 almanac (photo right) shows old
Haworth Church, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and the moon;
It was said that some of the men of Cowling (Cowenheead) tried to
fish the moon out of a dam believing it was cheese.
In one of his almanac's he wrote: Freedom
of the City of Haworth given to Bill o'th Hoylus End
On the 1st February 1853 Bill o' th' Hoylus End showed t' War Pig
at the Fleece Inn Haworth:
It was one morning while I was walking along Back-lane, at the
top end of the town, that I "fell in luck." Old John Malloy
kept a grocer's shop there - the Ship Inn now marks the spot - and
I heard from him that he had a small litter of pigs. I saw them,
and found among them a black pig - a puny, rickety, and most dejected-looking
creature. I asked John what he would take for the best and the worst,
and although he did not wish to part with the best pig, he was not
very particular in that respect with regard to the worst - "the
leetle blackie." For this he said he would take a shilling,
and after bargaining with John I got the pig for ten-pence.
we'll take this pig to Haworth, and show it as the War Pig
from South America." John laughed at the idea, but heartily
agreed with it. In the next place I got "on tick" a
piece of calico several yards long, and with some lampblack I
painted in bold type on the calico the words, "Come and see
the War Pig from South America, 2d. each." Then Spencer and
I engaged the large garret at the Fleece Inn, Haworth.
I brought the pig out of the box, and exhibited the animal
on a small table in the middle of the room. I introduced the war
pig - "Ladies and gentlemen, - In opening the performance
this evening, I have to show you the famous war pig from South
There was an old fellow at the back of the room - a typical old
cobbler. He pushed up to the table, and, after "eyeing"
the "exhibit" somewhat critically through his spectacles,
he held forth as follows:- "Nah, dus ta call thet a war pig?"
in the vernacular peculiar to the natives. I said, "Did ta
ivver see a war pig i' thi life?" "Noa," said he
blankly "it's t' warst pig I ivver set mi een on." And
then the audience saw where the "war" pig came in, and
they laughed heartily over the joke.
He also wrote of a Feerful Fire at Howorth
In't offices at Bored o' Helth at Howorth a few munths sin
thay wor a feerful smell o' gas, so wun on em thowt he see if
it let, an went reyt t't meeter we a leeted cannel in his hand,
an tuke aht wun at screws, no sooiner had he dun so ner aht brust
a leet abaat two yards long; this kaused a gert sensashun; all
wor excitement an confushun, t'owd wimmin com runnin aht wi piggins
full a watter ta sleck it aht, wun man set off ta Keethla fer
t'fire engins, but wen he'd got ta t'Bockin he bethowt him he
owt ta hev telegraffed an so he turned back an wen hed gat back
he fun thay'd got it aht, by putting a seck ower t'hoil.
He died on 21st July 1897 and is buried at Utley cemetery.
"Nivver dee I' thi shell, owd lad,
Though some may laugh an' scorn;
There wor nivver a neet afore ta neet,
An' if blind forten used tha bad,
Sho's happen noan so meean;
Ta morn al come, an' then fer some
The sun will shine ageean
Bill o'th' Hoylus was a prolific writer and some of his works
are missing. If you have any original pamphlets or other material
by him the Upper Worth Valley History Group would be interested
to make a copy of them. If you can help, please click contact
and send an email. About the Upper
Worth Valley History Group here...