Rimington Silver Mines And Demas Who Loved This World

Chapel folk went awalking at the weekend to the disused mines around Rimington, a mile or so from Martin Top. I confused some people by simultaneously describing them as lead AND silver mines, and not knowing which. In fact the lead found therein has a high silver content, so one could mine either. Furthermore, they also served as zinc mines between 1876 and 1885, yielding four tons. Barite or barium sulphate was also produced in later Victorian times. Although I heard a tradition that Vikings first mined the area, it isn’t until Elizabethan times that is anything recorded. The lord of Rimington manor, one William Pudsay (d. 1629) of Bolton Hall, Bolton-by-Bowland, is said to have illegally minted his own shillings, called Pudsay shillings, from these Rimington mines. No one could mint legal tender apart from the royal mints, and there was a legal principle called Mines Royal that stated ‘any mine where in the oar (sic) doth yield such Gold and Silver as exceedeth the charge of refining’ belonged to the Crown. In other words, if obtaining the silver was profitable, it belonged to the Queen; if you made a loss, it was all yours. Tradition says he rode to London to obtain pardon from Elizabeth I, who may have been his godmother.  

His son, Ambrose, had been a royalist colonel in the civil war, and became MP for Clitheroe after the Restoration. He too applied for a licence under the Mines Royal legislation, but failed to obtain it. Eventually, he mortgaged his Rimington lands for £3500, never to redeem them. He became a soldier in Ireland until Charles II declared it ‘not convenient for several reasons that Colonel Ambrose Pudsay be continued captain of foot’. He was dismissed and died as he had lived- in debt.

These Rimington silver mines seemed to have been a curse to those that worked them, tempting one to forgery and another to bankruptcy. Indeed, the banksman in 1884, James Wiseman, was killed when he fell down the shaft. This reminds me of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Section 7, that reads thus:

Then CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL, outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it. Now at the further side of that plain was a little hill called Lucre, and in that hill a silver mine, which some of them that had formerly gone that way, because of the rarity of it, had turned aside to see; but going too near the brink of the pit, the ground being deceitful under them, broke, and they were slain; some also had been maimed there, and could not to their dying day be their own men again.

Then I saw in my dream, that a little off the road, over against the silver mine, stood DEMAS (gentleman-like), to call to passengers to come and see; who said to CHRISTIAN and his fellow, "Ho, turn aside hither, and I will show you a thing."

Chr. What thing is so deserving as to turn us out of the way to see it?

Demas. Here is a silver mine, and some digging in it for treasure; if you will come, with a little pain you may richly provide for yourselves.

Hope. Then said HOPEFUL, "Let us go and see."

Chr. "Not I," said CHRISTIAN; "I have heard of this place before now and how many have there been slain; and besides, that treasure is a snare to those that seek it, for it hinders them in their pilgrimage." Then CHRISTIAN called to DEMAS, saying, "Is not the place dangerous? hath it not hindered many in their pilgrimage?"

"For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone. Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye. The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices." Hosea 4:16-19

Demas. "Not very dangerous; except to those that are careless;" but withal, he blushed as he spake.

Chr. Then said CHRISTIAN to HOPEFUL, "Let us not stir a step, but still keep on our way."

Hope. I will warrant you, when BY-ENDS comes up, if he hath the same invitation as we, he will turn in thither to see.

Chr. No doubt thereof, for his principles lead him that way; and a hundred to one but he dies there.

Demas. Then DEMAS called again, saying, "But will you not come over and see?"

Chr. Then CHRISTIAN roundly answered, saying, "DEMAS, thou art an enemy to the right ways of the Lord of this way, and hast been already condemned for thine own turning aside by one of his Majesty's judges; and why seekest thou to bring us into the like condemnation?

"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia , Titus unto Dalmatia ." 2 Timothy 4:10

Besides, if we at all turn aside, our Lord the King will certainly hear thereof, and will there put us to shame, where we would stand with boldness before him."

Demas cried again, That he also was one of their fraternity; and that if they would tarry a little, he also himself would walk with them.

Chr. Then said Christian, "What is thy name? is it not the same by the which I have called thee?"

Demas. Yes, my name is DEMAS; I am the son of Abraham.

Chr. I know you; Gehazi was your great-grandfather, and Judas your father, and you have trod their steps. It is but a devilish prank that thou usest: thy father was hanged for a traitor; and thou deservest no better reward.

"But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him." 2 Kings 5:20

"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver." Matthew 26:14, 15

"When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." Matthew 27:1-5

Assure thyself, that when we come to the King, we will tell him of this thy behaviour.

Thus they went their way.

By this time BY-ENDS and his companions were come again within sight; and they at the first beck went over to DEMAS. Now, whether they fell into the pit by looking over the brink thereof, or whether they went down to dig, or whether they were smothered in the bottom by the damps that commonly arise, of these things I am not certain; but this I observed, that they never were seen again in the way. Then sang CHRISTIAN:


"BY-ENDS and SILVER-DEMAS doth agree;

One calls, the other runs, that he may be

A sharer in his lucre: so these two

Take up in this world, and no farther go."


Be warned. The silver mines of Rimington are dangerous, but not so dangerous as the other mines from which we seek our wealth, be they scratch cards, tax frauds or just plain workaholicism.  


Pictured above is my own little collection of Elizabethan coinage. It’s obvious that the silver content is so low, Elizabeth’s own mints were debasing the coinage; Pudsay was simply doing what the government had been doing for years.



Time Flies Swift Away: Rimington Remembered and Middop Memories, Ed Ashton & Stott

The Rimington Lead and Silver Mines, published by The Northern Mining and Cave Research Society, JM Dickinson, 1968

The History of Parliament, http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/pudsay-...