Stephen Emmerson - The Miners' Friend - 1806 to 1887.

Stephen Emmerson, The "Miners Friend".
1806 to 1887.
[Image kindly contributed by the owners of the painting, the Judson family, Norman, Anne and Neil, of Saltburn by Sea.
Josie Bland of Robinson Street came to live in Skelton and on researching her ancestors found that by coincidence among them were the Emmersons of Hollybush Farm.
Thanks to her much more has been discovered about the family and contact made with other local descendants, the Judson family, Norman, Anne and son, Neil, of Saltburn by Sea, who have kindly contributed photographs, information and a School book dated 1817, extracts from which are shown below.
Norman Judson is the son of Alice Emmerson, who was the Niece of Stephen.

The Family Tree of the Emmerson Family in this area can be traced back to Thomas Emmerson [1447 to 1524], who was a Forester at Margrove and a Tenant of Guisborough Priory.
The Will of his Grandson Phillip in 1584 shows that by this time they had acquired the Farm in Skelton.
It remained in the family's possession until the last Emmerson to run it, another Stephen, emigrated to New Zealand in 1920.
The Family Tree can be seen here.

Stephen Emmerson, the Miners' Friend, was born in Skelton in 1806 and inherited "Hollybush" on the death of his father, another Stephen in 1833.
[The farm had various names over the years Holly, Hollins, Faughfield House]
He never married and ran the Farm with his sister, Hannah, until his own death in 1887.
Newsapaper reports show that the Ironstone Miners of East Cleveland began uniting. They formed an official Association in 1872. They gathered in their thousands with their brass bands to hold demonstrations where speakers addressed them on the work issues of the day.
These beginnings of Trade Unionism were no doubt dimly viewed by most of the Mine Owners and the landed Gentry. Stephen was regarded as a "friend" for allowing his fields to be used for their meetings.
These reports, which are repeated below, show that the Emmersons were generally on the side of the working man, when they allowed rights of way across their land and joined in the fight against the Whartons of Skelton Castle to make them do the same.

Stephen was elected as a Skelton Overseer of the Poor.

Stephen Emmerson owns land around the old Hollybush Farm of 62 acres, 1 rood and 5 perches worth 18 shillings.

The trade union 'The Cleveland Miners and Quarrymen's Association' was founded in Brotton.
Eston's 'Onward Lodge' walked over the hills with the New Marske miners to join in the first 'Demonstration' at Skelton.
Stephen Emmerson of Hollybush Farm allowed them to use one of his fields for the meeting, a generosity which was repeated over the following years.
He was presented with a painting of himself, the reverse of which says that on this day 6 to 7 thousand miners gathered. He became known as the "Miners' Friend".

Saturday was a holiday among the miners of the Cleveland district and a monster demonstration was held at the village of Skelton.
The members of the Union gathered together in the Market place, which presented a lively appearance.
Numerous banners and flags of various colours and bearing illustrative figures and inscriptions made known the chief of the different lodges that were represented:-
The Miners' Pride Lodge No 5 of Lofthouse - The Marske No 6 - The Friendship Lodge No 8 of Skinningrove - The Prospect Lodge, No 4, of Skelton - The Onward Lodge, No 16 of Eston.
There are 4,500 members of the Cleveland Miners Association.
The various lodges formed in procession and headed, some by brass bands and others by drum and fife bands, the District Banner being borne on before, walked to the field of Mr Stephen Emmerson of Holly Farm.
The announcement of a gala, celebrated bands and various games drew in even more people.
"The field in which the meeting was held is situate on the declivity of a hill to the south east of the village and from it a view of the pretty seaside town of Saltburn, the bold promontory of Huntcliffe and the wide expanse of sea dotted with "colliers" and fishing smacks."
A public meeting was held at which various speakers from around the country addressed the crowd from a waggon with a table in front for reporters.
One of the main topics was the Franchise. Every man who "was not a pauper, criminal or lunatic" should have the right to vote.
The monopoly of land was another issue. "There were thousands of acres that were uncultivated, owned by single individuals. With the small holdings system, if these persons were compelled to sell their land at reasonable prices, men would not be obliged to emigrate to foreign shores."
Brotton Lodge.
Eston Lodge.
Marske Lodge.
The Annual Miners Demonstration is to take place on the 26th of this month at Skelton in a field loaned by Mr Stephen Emmerson, the Miners' Friend.
Mr Burt MP and many other are to address the crowd on "Trades Unions, Past Present and Future", "Education, Co-operation and Temperance" and other subjects.
Most of the lodges from the surrounding villages of Cleveland will meet at Saltburn in the forenoon and march in procession to Skelton. Usually the schools were given a days holiday.

Hollybush Farm, Skelton.

The Right of Way from North Skelton to Saltburn by the Sea was publicly claimed on Saturday last by the inhabitants of Skelton and neighbourhood.
The road in dispute has recently been stopped by John Thomas Wharton Esq of Skelton Castle, Lord of the Manor, and fences were put up entirely stopping the way.
On the 5th November Miss Hannah Emmerson of Holly Farm, assisted by her servant man, pulled the fence down, for which offence thay have been served with a writ.
The first meeting held was at North Skelton, where it was decided to assist in every possible way Miss Emmerson for having claimed the road.
The last meeting held was at the Free Gardeners' Hall, Skelton, where the following resolution was unanimously carried and ordered to be sent to E B Hamilton Esq, the Estate's Agent:-
"That this meeting, having considered the importance of retaining all public footpaths in the Parish of Skelton, deems it necessary to publicly claim, on Saturday next, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the footpath in dispute between J T Wharton and Miss Hannah Emmerson of Holly Farm and should there be any objection on the part of the said J T Wharton to the course the inhabitants intent to take - which is to walk over the road in dispute - he is kindly

Hollybush Farm, Skelton. Hannah Emmerson [died 30th April 1897] and her niece, Alice Emmerson.

Alice had moved into Hollybush Farm, with her broher Stephen and sister Mary [Polly], when heir mother died. Their father left them with Stephen, the Miners' Friend and Hannah.
Stephen William and Polly eventually married, but Alice stayed and looked after Hannah. When the Miners' Friend died in 1887, he left her a house in William St, New Skelton. See Will below.
When Hannah died, 10 years later, she left her over 200 pounds, a considerably sum in those days. Within 2 months Alice, went up to Sunderland and married John Lightfoot Taylor, a native of Skelton. By 1901 they were running a Grocers and Drapers shop in what is now Hargreaves opticians. She had 4 children in 7 years and died on the 21st April 1907.
requested to be present and to take such steps as he may consider desirable to prevent the inhabitants walking ove the footpath."
This resolution was forwarded to Mr Hamilton.
On Saturday a telegram was received from Mr Richards, the respected Manager of Messrs Bolckow, Vaughan and Co, to the effect that Mr Hamilton had telegraphed to Mr Richards that 200 miners would walk over land belonging to J T Wharton Esq, damaging fences and that Mr Richards and Mr Wharton would probably be able to come to a settlement on the subject.
To this a reply was sent to the effect that the question in dispute was not a miners' question, but was between Mr Wharton and Miss Emmerson and that it was not the miners who were going to walk over the road, but the inhabitants of Skelton and neighbourhood, as stated in the resolution.
The meeting on Saturday was some 100 yards from the Brotton side of North Skelton and by half past two some 800 people had assembled together.
The first business was to lay Mr Richards telegram before the people, which was done, and the two gentlemen who led the way were also informed of the same.
The names of the latter were Mr Timothy Nicholson, aged 60 years, a Skeltonian, and Mr John Baker, aged 74, at present residing at Ayton, but formerly of Skelton.
The following route was travelled:-
Starting from the Brotton road, down the horse pasture field into the Windwood fields, down across the beck, up the Wandels, across the paddock, through Stephen Emmerson's fields into the little lane and down to the point where Miss Emmerson pulled the fence down.
From this place they went along the Long Acres, down in front of the Selby Hagg Farm, across New Field, down the Mill Field, across Robinson's Inggs Valley and Great Inggs Field on to Saltburn Road.
Mr J T Wharton, Messrs Hamilton and Stubbs, agent and steward and a number of those employed by Mr Wharton were present besides several of the Police.
Mr Wharton was on horseback and protested that the road was not a public one, but no other steps were taken to prevent those who were on the road.
At the entrance of every field, on the getting through of every fence, the people loudly cheered their leaders and when they landed on the Saltburn Road three hearty cheers were given to them for having in their old age come forward and asserted their right of way.
A public meeting was afterwards held at the Free Gardeners Hall and it was unanimously agreed to support those who might be summoned for trespassing.
Much of the route taken is still a public footpath in 2012.

13th April. Stephen Emmerson, farmer of Hollybush, Skelton and Edward Bell Hamilton, land agent of Rigwood, Skelton were elected to Skelton Board of Health.

John Wiltshire was fined 50s with costs or six months hard labour for assaulting John Rowland at Skelton. Said he had trained a man who won a handicap in Mr Stephen Emmerson's field at Skelton, but the defendant had disqualified him and he had lost his money. Defendant split Wiltshire's eye with a fighting ring.

A large meeting of the lodges of the Skelton and Brotton district took place in a field provided by Mr G Robinson, manager of North Skelton mine.
The various lodges displayed their banners and were headed by brass bands. Over 2,500 people with a good sprinkling of the fair sex attended.
Mr Joseph Toyn, miners agent, addressed them and said what a change had come over the district since the Miners Association began.
To start with only the kindness of their esteemed friend, Mr Emmerson of Hollybush Farm provided them with a field. They had not got the 2d extra per ton but furnaces were being re-lighted and prospects were better.
They should be thoroughly organised and "the time was come when all should be closely allied together and thoroughly federated throughout the land and when such was the case they would obtain their rights." [Cheers].

17th November - RIGHT OF WAY DISPUTE.
A meeting was held at North Skelton to consider the actions of Mr Hamilton of Rigwood, agent to Skelton Castle who for a considerable time had been trying to prevent the public travelling across the fields by Hagga Farm to Saltburn.
He had put up a fence near Holly Farm, the residence of Stephen Emmerson and his sister Hannah, "the Miners' friend". 70 year old, Hannah, on being blocked, ordered her servant to tie the horse to the fence and pulled it down.
Consequently she and her servant had been served with a writ.
Mr A Brighton roused the meeting. It was a battle for the ratepayers to keep the long-trodden way open.
Did they intend to allow honourable old people to be put upon in this way ?
Cries of "No No Never."
Mr Emmerson said he had been that way uninterrupted for 70 years and cement, lime and other commodities had been brought by that route in carts.
A deputation headed by Mr Toyn was appointed to see the Squire on the matter.


The photographs and the following information about the bottles has been kindly contributed by Josie Bland of Skelton.
Stephen Emmerson's sister Alice had an illegitimate son, John, who lived at Hollybush Farm with Stephen and Hannah Emmerson, seemingly more as a younger brother, [which is how he appears on the Family Tree], than a Nephew.
Three children of John's first marriage found their way to Hollybush Farm when their mother died in 1873, the youngest, John Foster Emmerson, arrived in 1884 aged 14, when his father died, and remained there until he married in 1895. His great grandson, yet another Stephen Emmerson, inherited the bottles but knew nothing about them apart from the information that they were engraved by a man with no arms. This Great Grandson contacted Josie in 2017 and brought them to be photographed.
As can be seen, one is in the name of Stephen and the other of Hannah. Considering they must have been created in the 1880s with just a sharp metal point, they are wonderful pieces of amateur art.
The tale in the owner's family is that this was done by a man with no arms ?
It was probably Stephen and Hannah, who changed the name of the farm to Hollybush, as it appears otherwise on old maps, and the holly leaf is the main decoration.
Creatures seen around the farm appear elsewhere, a somewhat flat faced dog with a bone, a ferret, a hen, a swallow and a swan or goose.
Stephen's bottle has an image of Skelton's New All Saints Church. In 1886 it was just 2 years old and the place where his funeral would be held the following year.
Two Crowns, diamond shapes and a hexagram appear elsewhere.
It is tempting to read some deeper significance into these, as the latter is the Star of David with connections to Free Masonry and much else, but maybe just the engraver's imagination.
The Judson family of Saltburn, Norman, Anne and Neil, have preserved this marvellous souvenir of their Emmerson ancestors.
It gives a fascinating glimpse into the 1817 world of bushels, pecks, combs, weys, moidores, guineas, chandlers and highway robberies. It seems the local parishioners had to pay compensation for the robberies.
Some years ago this website was sent a similar book, which had belonged to Stephen Emmerson's younger brother William, who emigrated to the United States of America - See here.
The pen and ink, copper plate hand-writing could well be that of John Sharp, who was the village schoolmaster and Vestry Clerk in the early 1820s.

The following Sampler was created by Stephen Emmerson's sister, Mary, who was born in 1796 and died at the early age of 32.
She married John Cole in 1823.


Stephen's grave in New Skelton Cemetery.

This is the last Will and Testament of me, STEPHEN EMMERSON, of the Township of SKELTON IN CLEVELAND IN THE COUNTY OF YORK, Yeoman
made this ninth day of September One thousand eight hundred and eighty five.

I appoint my sister HANNAH EMMERSON, my nephew Matthew Emmerson Young of Thornaby Vale near Stockton-on-Tees, Farmer, and my niece Sarah Gill of Brotton, Warsett in Cleveland aforesaid widow Executors of this my will and Trustees for the purposes hereinafter expressed.

I give and devise all that my freehold farm situate in the Township of Skelton aforesaid now commonly known as HOLLY BUSH FARM
(save and except all mines and minerals of every kind in or under the said farm and obtainable only by mining operations) unto my said sister Hannah Emmerson for her life, without impeachment of waste.

And from, and after, her decease I give and devise the same (save and except as aforesaid) unto and to the use of my great nephew
STEPHEN WILLIAM EMMERSON (now residing with me) his heirs and assigns absolutely.
[Stephen William died in 1904. His son, another Stephen inherited the farm while just a boy. It was run by a cousin until he attained the age of 21 in 1913.
He was the last Emmerson at Hollybush Farm. He emigrated to New Zealand - see page for 1920.]

I give and bequeath to my said sister Hannah Emmerson all my household furniture, plate (except that service of plate herewith after mentioned) linen, books, china, glass and other household effects and consumable stores and provisions absolutely.

And I give and bequeath to my said sister Hannah Emmerson for her life -

the service of silver plate presented to me by the NORTH YORKSHIRE AND CLEVELAND MINERS ASSOCIATION.
and all my farming stock live and dead, growing crops and implements and utensils of husbandry which shall then be in, and about, the said farm to my said great nephew Stephen William Emmerson.

And I give and devise all that my garth, parcel of land with the SIX HOUSES therein situate at the WEST END of the village of SKELTON unto and to the use of my great nephew John Foster Emmerson (now residing with me) his heirs and assigns absolutely in case he shall attain the age of twenty one years, but if he shall die under that age then I give and devise the same unto, and to, the use of my two great nieces Elizabeth Mary Emmerson and Alice Hannah Emmerson (both of whom are now residing with me) their heirs and assigns in equal shares, as tenants in common.

I give and devise all that my freehold house situate in WILLIAM STREET, NEW SKELTON unto, and to the use of, my said great niece Alice Hannah Emmerson, her heirs and assigns absolutely.

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