button to main menu  Clarke's Survey of the Lakes, 1787

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Page 137:-
the champion with ease, and did other feats; so that the King sent for him, and asked his name, where he came from, &c. He told the King, that himself could neither read nor write, therefore could not well tell his own name, but folk commonly, says he, call me the Cork Lad a Kentmere, (which name he undoubtedly received from his corcousness, or corpulency.) The King asked him what he lived upon? he said Thick pottage, and milk that a mouse might walk upon dry shod, to his breakfast; and the sunny side of a wedder to his dinner, when he could get it. With many other such like questions and answers.
At last the King wanting to reward him as champion of the wrestlers, asked him if he had want of any particular thing and he should have it: all he asked for was the house he and his mother lived in, the paddock behind it to get peat for fuel, and liberty to cut wood for the fire in Troutbeck park. These were immediately granted him, as the whole estate would have been if he had asked it, being at that time not worth more than five pounds a year, besides the wood: no one, however, attempted to interfere with him in the enjoyment of the whole, which was not long; for tradition tells us, that he killed himself at the age of forty-two with pulling up trees by the root. He was never married, and the estate was afterwards granted by Charles the I. to Huddleston Philipson of Cawgarth. He was reputed to be a natural child, and his mother, (according to one of my authors) a nun turned out of Furness Abbey for being with child of him; he is by some called Gilpin, by others Herd.
There is a beam in the house of Kentmere-Hall said to be laid up by him: I wrote to a Mr Birket of Kentmere to see if he could find any date upon it, who wrote me the following plain, but sensible letter.


Land-Surveyor, &c. PENRITH, CUMBERLAND.

"I RECEIVED your letter, and have taken the dimensions of the beam at Kentmere Hall, which is 30 feet in length, and 13 inches by 12 and a half in thickness; but there is no inscription upon it, as you mentioned in your letter; but I shall inform you what has been given by tradition, (and I had it from a man that was 104 years old when he died.) When the Hall was building, and the workmen gone to dinner, this man, whose name was Herd, happened to be there, and while they were at dinner laid it up himself. He lived at Troutbeck Park, in a cottage house there, and was remarkable for his strength. At the time the Scots frequently made incursions into England, he with his bows and arrows killed them in coming of the mountains at a place which still retains the name of Scot-Rake, which is about a mile distant from where he lived. One of the kings of England hearing of him, sent for him to London, and got him a bow made, which he said was no bow for a man; they then made him another, he tied them together and broke them. At that time there was a man the most capital wrestler in the kingdom, which he was to wrestle with; the first fall was not satisfactory to the man; they took hold again, and Herd broke his back, threw him off the stage, and asked if that was a fair fall? The king asked what he would have for his journey, he only asked for the little place where he lived, and it still retains the name of Herd's house. There is at the Hall a pair of the largest buck horns that any person now living has ever seen, they are a yard long, with seven knaps on each horn, and the round part as thick as a
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