A Few Introductory Notes on Edmund Newman's 'The Natural History Of British Butterflies and Moths' which may be useful.


   E Newman FES. FZS. finished his classic work in the late 1860s. By then, Newman was advanced in years and it was the culmination of much study and experience. He attempts a broad classification of Lepidoptera - a branch of study pretty much then in its infancy. Some of this may appear idiosyncratic today though Newman always gives good reason for classifying an insect this and not that. For example, under the Fritillaries he places the Camberwell Beauty (which he  signifies as 'The White Bordered') the Peacock and the Red Admiral. This is followed by the 'Angle Wings' under which he includes the Painted Lady and White Admiral.

  Also, the Latin classification is invariable a little different - mainly the first designate - though the second is largely similar to those in use today. There are exceptions however: The Small Blue for Newman is Lycaena Aisus and not Cupido Minimus (which even in Latin evokes the butterfly more accurately) and the Meadow Brown is Epinephale Janira and not Maniola Jurtina as today etc.

  E Newman was a passionate researcher and during his life made discovery after discovery in the field: (e.g. The Large Blue at Barnwell Wold, Northants in the 1820s). His obvious enthusiasm over-rode his egoism and he frequently and without rancour, states his fellow entomologists objections to some of his classifications.

   Following on from this disarming and democratic approach (so rare in these times) we must therefore pay attention to the information he collected over the years from particular entomologists he corresponded or, was friendly with. It seems Newman didn't take fools gladly and one feels he was conscious of wary of the proclivity to wild imaginings amongst field workers. Thus in his introduction to 'Natural History', Newman only mentions four entomologists by name whom he was particularly indebted to. Apart from a certain Mr. BOND (originally in block caps) - a friend who had collected the most unusual varieties some of which are illustrated in the book, Newman often refers to a Mr. BIRCHALL (again in caps) who in the localities list provided much information on butterflies in Yorkshire. Some of the findings in retrospect, are quite amazing - but more about that later.

  The sheer eloquence of Newman's prose in particular his recourse to analogy to more securely anchor an observation cannot fail to impress. Hence his scientific descriptions have an added liveliness all the more necessary because of the poor quality of the book's engravings in an age when 100 words were generally worth more than one picture. (As ever Thomas Bewick was the exception in this recalcitrant media - his illustrations remain more telling than the greater flexibility afforded by lithography). However, throughout Newman's book there is an attempted life-size consistency of scale together with the odd visual record of a variety that compensates for poor quality and which was to set the pattern for insect illustration. But, there is no denying that Benjamin Wilkes hand-coloured illustrations in 'The English Moths and Butterflies' over a century earlier (1749) were much better.

  Cumbersome though Newman's volume is, it could pass in its day for a field guide tailored to a growing mass market unlike in Wilkes' time. Moreover, wood engraving could be printed alongside type in one operation thus making production a lot cheaper. In comparison, bird illustrators, working on stone before the invention of photo-litho, were still looking for patrons and their work was sold as folio editions. We need only mention Audubon, Gould, Keuleman, Gronveld and Edward Lear. The latter, for instance, spent much of his life under the patronage of the 13th Earl of Derby illustrating birds from the aviary at Knowsley.

  The extraordinary power and keenness of observation in romanticism must have influenced Newman. As a scientist however, emotional appeal had to give way to increased descriptive accuracy pursued relentlessly in page after page. In this endeavour he was only surpassed by the brilliance of John Ruskin's methodical jottings particularly on flowers. But Newman's scientific temper cannot restrain his lyricism and he writes of butterflies 'making love and sipping honey'. This may prefigure the sentimental effusion of late Victorian nature books (when a Lepidopterist stretches our incredulity when referring to a lone Scotch Argus as 'looking for a lost love') but the glorious innocence of this phase of Newman's adds a childlike charm to this monument of serious inquiry into Lepidoptera. If only we were so able to forget just for the moment our scientific adulthood.

   Better than anyone before or since, Newman compiled some of the best English literature on the subject of butterflies and moths in a kind of foreword exquisitely titled: 'Prelude to Mottoes' (inevitably calling to mind the sensation caused by the publication of Wordsworth's early poem 'The Prelude' a year after the poet's death in 1850).

    In the first paragraph of Newman's introduction, Philipe de Commine is quoted:

'It flies and seems a flower that floats on air'

   And further on the caterpillar:

'Once a worm, a thing that crept,

 On the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept'.


   Always erudite, E Newman somehow turned up the finest poem (perhaps not excluding John Clare in the early 19th century) in English on butterflies and written by Edmund Spencer in Elizabethan times (well before the fledgling Lepidopterist Moses Harris and the Aurelians got going). it's probably worth quoting in full simply because it appears long forgotten and probably most people know nothing about it.

"Round about doth flie,

From bed to bed, from one to t'other border;

And take survey with curious busy eye,

Of every flower and herbe there set in order.

Now this, now that, he tasteth tenderly,

Yet none of them he rudely doth disorder.

Ne with his feete their silken leaves deface

But pastures on the pleasures of each place."

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 "And evermore, with most varietie

And change of sweetness (for all change is sweet),

He casts his glutton sense to satisfie,

Now sucking of the sap of herbs most meet

Or of the dew, which yet on them doth lie

Now in the same bathing his tender feet;

And then he percheth on some branch thereby,

To neaten him, and his moist wings to dry"

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 "And whatso else of virtue good or ill

 Grew in the garden, fetched from far way

Of every one he takes and tastes at will;

 And on their pleasures greedily doth prey

That when he hath both plaied and fed at fill

In the warme sunne he doth himself embay,

And then rests in riotous sufisaunce

Of all his gladfulness and kingly joyance."

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"What more felicite can fall to creature

Than to enjoy delight with libertie

And to be lord of all the works of Nature'

To reign in the aire from the earth to highest skie,

To feed on flowers, and weeds of glorious feature'

To take whatever thing doth please the eye'

Who rests not pleased with such happiness

Well worthy he to taste of wretchedness."

      EDMUND SPENCER

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   Newman's scholarly, wide-ranging introduction citing Greek myth, Ovid, Spencer and so on were meant to impress upon the Victorian reading public with its pronounced bias towards 'the classics' that entomology was a fit and proper subject in its own right. In that sense, Newman's classicising can get a bit heavy-handed as, for instance, when he describes chasing a Clouded Yellow assisted by a 'multitude of female Hibernians in the healthful pursuit of horticulture' adding, the scene must have been an exciting one and would have minded a classical spectator of Meleage, or Orestes, or Oedipus pursued by the Furies!

    This straining for effect however is a mere entre to a still dubious sequel: the study of Lepidoptera is an end in itself ''a history worthy the study of every rational being'. The study of plants and birds had long enjoyed a measure of respectability. Aristotle for instance had long been regarded as the founder of Ornithology and his bird notes had been preciously guarded by the Medieval/Renaissance Church scholastics. But an interest in insects and especially butterflies and moths was pretty much the province of fools and eccentrics. Lady Glanville's will (her name was given posthumously to the Glanville Fritillary) was not contested in court on the grounds that anybody who collected butterflies could not be of a sound mind. In a very real way, Newman was a product of scientific non-conformity questioning all received opinion until sure of its veracity.

   Significantly, Newman some ten years after Darwin's 'The Origin Of The Species' shrank back from evolutionary apostasy. However, in all fairness, the most unprejudiced mind of the time would have found it hard to believe that butterflies and moths have a history. 150 years later and we are still unable to supply the missing link and it will probably stay like that.

    William Paley, who 'deduced' the existence of a god from nature's providential design was clearly a major influence on Newman. On that account alone he is closer to the spirit of Wordsworth who had dipped approvingly into Paley than to Darwin. Without a moment's hesitation, Newman speaks of a "creative wisdom' at work in the transformation of caterpillar into butterfly. However, in the hands of Newman, the point is a serious one and still worthy of our respect. 'Everyone now knows that a butterfly was not always a butterfly, probably everyone then knew it but there is little trace of that knowledge in the standard work of Linnaeus and Fabricus or in that of our own venerable Haworth'. Newman's close attention to describing in detail the various stages of a species life history was not only fairly untypical of its time but, also, had a symbolic intent beyond that of arguing in favour of a more naturally based system of classification which took into account the various stages of an insect's life. The metamorphosis of a butterfly was also that of death and resurrection and aside from the saccharine church warden piety of 'regions of bliss', the words Newman chooses suggest a more earth-bound liberation: 'Lastly comes the butterfly bursting from its prison house, and borne from place to place on beautiful wings'.

     From the epoch of the French Revolution onwards, the butterfly far more than the bird (the Sans Culottes on occasion destroyed exotic collections of birds as aristocratic appendages even as the eagle was presently to become the national insignia of America and Germany) comes to embody the potential for change and becoming. In this  remarkable piece of nature with such humble origins is concentrated the dialectic of movement and development and ultimately, the transformation of man. A single thread unites Goethe's 'Ecstasy and Desire' (the moth to the flame ''die and become', the German word for butterfly - schmetterling ' is used) Keats' 'Ode to Psyche' and Charles Fourier's 'Butterfly Principle' which is far more concretely grounded than the others in the novelty of his still inspiring approach to the division of labour. Newman was unaware of this powerful undercurrent yet from time to time it still bursts forth unrestrainedly with an artless lack of affectation. Such outbursts are today entirely lacking and it is only scientific self-censorship that is to blame.  For conservation to be effective it can only be judged so from the standpoint of totality.

   The following is a near verbatim account - and in the same order - of those relevant parts in Newman's classic relating to the butterflies of Yorkshire. Not all butterflies are mentioned here and most of the common ones have been left out. A few italicised comments by us are added with the intention of further clarifying information.

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 Localities of Butterflies in Yorkshire



Silver Washed Fritillary  (P. 22-25)

'''..the Silver Washed Fritillary is decidedly a wood insect, and I imagine occurs in almost every extensive wood south of the Tweed'..

''''It is more or less abundant in all the English and Welsh counties, from which, through the kindness of correspondents, I have received lists, and its non-appearance as a native of the others implies rather the absence of observers than the absence of the butterfly ''it occurs not uncommonly in our northern English counties, Northumberland, Cumberland and Durham''.

              Sadly, Newman makes no mention of Yorkshire localities most likely deeming it unnecessary probably because it was fairly common everywhere.

Dark Green Fritillary  (P. 25-29)

Yorkshire: near York: Robert Cook.

Abundant on moors and open ground above Cloughton: J H Rowntree.

Scarborough, Wakefield, Sheffield, Leeds: E Birchall.

Common in oak woods about York, Scarborough and all the southern parts of the county: T H Allis.

Queen of Spain Fritillary  (P. 32-35)

Yorkshire: One specimen on the west side of Oliver's Mount, Scarborough in September 1869: J H  Rowntree.

One near York: Edwin Birchall.

High Brown Fritillary  (P. 30-35)

Yorkshire: Near York: Robert Cook.

Yedmondale, and on moors near Cloughton: J H Rowntree.

Scarborough and Sheffield: Edwin Birchall.

Pearl-Bordered Fritillary  (P.  35-37)

         E. Newman makes no specific listing but makes a broad and interesting comment: 'It is included in every county list I have received through the kindness of correspondents, except Derbyshire, and in a very ingenious table compiled by Mr. Jenner Fust, and published in 'The Transactions of the Entomological Society' it appears in all the numerous sub-provinces into which he has divided Great Britain.'

    So perhaps from this it may be concluded that the Pearl-Bordered Fritillary in the 1860s was to be seen in all the vice-counties of Yorkshire.

Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary  (P. 37-39)

Yorkshire: near York, plentiful on moors and in fir plantations near Cloughton: J H Rowntree.

Scarborough: Edwin Birchall.

         It seems impossible to imagine now but the North York Moors where the butterfly must have been abundant in the 1860s was largely terra incognito prior to the building of the railway line from Middlesborough and York to Whitby. Until then, Whitby was a place of land-locked mystery. A book 'Forty Years in a Mooorland Parish' by the Rev. Atkinson garnered a measure of popularity, thanks largely to William Morris and Co, following its publication around 1870. To leaf through it for hints  concerning the natural history of the region could be instructive. He does mention, for instance, that a squirrel within living memory could go from Kildale to Commondale 'wivoot once touching groond' It is now sparse moorland.

Lawkland Moss
 Lawkland Moss
 Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries at Lawkland Moss, Cravendale, N Yorks  early June 1997. The day was dark, and cold with heavy drizzle but the butterflies were to be clearly seen resting on the ragged robin opening their wings whenever there was a brief respite in the weather. Even then they were so comatose it was possible to lift them on to the fingers.


Marsh Fritillary  (P 39-42)  (Newman refers to it as the Greasy Fritillary)

Yorkshire: Near York : Robert Cook.

Comma  (P. 48-52)

       It's worth remembering that Newman was commenting upon this butterfly when it was declining rapidly everywhere throughout Britain. It would seem that the Comma is now more abundant in Yorkshire than for centuries.

Yorkshire: Common at York:T H Allis.

(Formerly taken at Raincliff Wood, near Scarborough, but not of late years: J H Rowntree ).

Huddersfield, rarely and singly: G T Porritt:

Halifax, Sheffield, Wakefield, Leeds: Edwin Burchall.

Large Tortoiseshell P. 55-58

Yorkshire: Near Scarborough, Huddersfield, York, Sheffield, Wakefield and Halifax: Edwin Birchall and others.

        Incidently, Newman classifies the Small and Large Tortoiseshell under Fritillaries.

White Admiral  (P. 67-71)

Lincolnshire: Common in the south of the county in fine seasons: T H Allis.

      Even in Newman's time the White Admiral was never a Yorkshire species. In the meantime, look how this species has slowly moved north - well into mid and north Lincs and perhaps hovering on the Yorkshire borders.

Purple Emperor  (P. 71-77)

Lincolnshire: About Lincoln, Bardney Wood and in south Lincolnshire: T H Allis.

Nottinghamshire: Occurs occasionally at Ollerton; in 1859 I had a fine female given me alive. It was taken inside a pigsty near the edge of Willow Wood, three miles from Ollerton ' R E Bramwell. Occasionally near Newark: George Gascoyne.

          It hardly needs to be pointed out that both Ollerton and Newark are no distance from the Yorkshire border (especially Ollerton) so possibly at some point in the early 19th century there may have been a glint of the Purple Emperor in that part of Sherwood forest that passes across into Yorkshire. For the not too far-distant future it must be remembered that the range of the Purple Emperor, has extended considerably. Is there any northern extending breakout from the expanding south Notts populations?

Marbled White  (P. 77-78)

Yorkshire: Near York, Robert Cook; Scarborough and Sheffield - Edwin Birchall; Common in Yorkshire ' T.H. Allis; it used to be found in Melton Wood near Doncaster, but has been extinct since a field that bordered the wood was ploughed; I do not think it is ever found now near Doncaster ' Alfred Ecroyd.

Scotch Argus  (P. 82-86) (Newman refers to it as the Northern Brown)

Yorkshire: Colne: Edwin Birchall.

Common at Grassington, above Settle: T H Allis.

       Colne is on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border and considering ever-changing county boundaries Colne must have been a Yorkshire town in the 1860s.  One wonders where the Scotch Argus colony was near Colne and what happened to it? Most likely its demise wasn't to do with any kind of urban development as much of the landscape between Colne and Keighley is still fairly wild and uncultivated. Did the Colne Scotch Argus go the same way as that arresting, dark variety with indistinct eye spots which inhabited the semi-limestone pavement at the top of Grass Wood? Incidentally, we heard recently of a long lost colony of Scotch Argus on Eston Nab near Roseberry Topping on the North York Moors. True or false?

Speckled Wood  (P. 87-88)

'I believe it occurs in every English and Welsh county'

No further comment or specific addition from Newman's Yorkshire field trip contacts.

The Gatekeeper  (P. 93-95) (Newman refers to it as the Large Heath!)

        Says it occurs in Yorkshire 'without note of abundance or rarity'

Large Heath (Davus Form) (For Newman characterized as Rothlieb's Marsh Ringlet)

 Yorkshire: Thorne Moors, near Doncaster: Alfred Ecroyd;

Hadfield Fens: E Birchall. 'I took it on Thorne Moor, but wasted and had specimens given me from Cottingham near Hull. In visiting this latter locality, I find it different from Thorne Moor, which is mossy or spongy: but the Cottingham locality is rather like those spots where I have taken Davus in Scotland ' J C Dale 'Zoologist.'

        In the 1860s the Latin names for the sub-divisions of the Large Heath were rather different from what they are today and all were referred to as Davus, 'Davus in Scotland' would now, of course be 'Scotica'. The nearest Scotica colony to Hull would probably be north Northumberland or that isolated colony south of the Solway in north Cumbria. Also, Newman makes no mention of the North York Moors population so possibly they hadn't been discovered  by then.

Duke Of Burgundy  (P. 102-105)

Yorkshire: Abundant near Pickering in 1868: J H Rowntree.

Scarborough, Sheffield, York, Leeds: Edwin Birchall.

Doncaster: Alfred Ecroyd.

        Interestingly, Newman tends to note a certain abundance in the northern counties: N Lancs, Cumberland and Lincolnshire and Westmoreland in contrast to the south west of England where he concludes the Duke of Burgundy to be 'rare'.

Green Hairstreak  (P. 105-6)

'''In England it occurs in nearly all the county lists I have received and when absent may be supposed to arise from want of observation'.

Purple Hairstreak P. 106-108

Similar to previous report. Unspecific.

White Letter Hairstreak (P. 108-10) (To add to confusion Newman names this butterfly the Black Hairstreak!)

Yorkshire: The caterpillar is common on wych elm near Doncaster: Geo. T Porritt

Near York and Sheffield: Edwin Birchall

Edlington Wood near Barnsley: J Harrison

Very numerous near Doncaster in 1860: Alfred Ecroyd

Sheffield at Warncliffe Wood: Edwin Birchall.

Black Hairstreak  (P. 110-111) (Newman refers to it as the Dark Hairstreak!)

       It may be said that E Newman in 1828 identified the Black (Dark) Hairstreak as a distinctly different species to the White letter Hairstreak having become a recipient of an example purchased by the entomological club from a Mr Seaman. The butterfly was actually caught in Monk's wood, Huntingdonshire but no sooner was it declared to be a 'new species to Britain, than the locality became a mine of gold; and Mr Seaman very judiciously concluded to remove the mine to a greater distance, even to ultima thule of his geographical knowledge, Yorkshire.'(Newman)

        It seems many entomologists made trips to Yorkshire but, of course, no Black Hairstreak was to be found. However, Newman in his localities guide reports that the butterfly thirty years later 'seems confined' to five counties one of which is, remarkably, Derbyshire!

Derbyshire: In a box of insects captured within a few miles of Chesterfield I find this very local species ' J. R. Hind. 'Intelligencer' Vol 1X P. 27. 'I believe the 'Entomologists Weekly Intelligencer' commenced publication in the mid 1850s to....'''

As we know Chesterfield is but a mile or so from the South Yorkshire boundary. How interesting!

Brown Hairstreak  (P. 112-114)

   E. Newman notes that the butterfly can be seen in Lincolnshire at Grange and Silverdale in N Lancashire and in Barron Wood, near Carlisle but no mention is made of Yorkshire.

Silver-Studded Blue.  (P 119-121)

    Newman surprisingly makes no mention of the Yorkshire localities around York, Pickering and Scarborough. However, in his countrywide survey, he mentions the N Yorkshire Lepidopterist, J Sang's observation that the butterfly is 'very common at Darlington'. Also, near Manchester ''common at Chat Moss, S. Lancs and Solwick Moss near Preston. Also, occurring in Lincolnshire and in Westmoreland and Witherslack and Faraway moss'  J.B. Hodginson.

   By way of an aside, it is the Darlington example which interests us here. Some of the railway cuttings particularly on what is now referred to as the Heritage line from Darlington to Wear Head were, in our youth in the 1950s, particularly rich in Lepidoptera like Dark Green Fritillary and big colonies of the sex-linked, var hospita of the Wood Tiger. E B Ford said this day-flying moth could be found on the hilly slopes of west Durham but not on the east Durham plain. As schoolboys we passed our discoveries in a letter to a Durham lepidopterist in 1956 but never received a reply - the information probably regarded as erroneous. Now we find that recently some of the shale ground north of Heighington station has been made into a protected Durham wild life site. However, the var hospita was to be found just south of Heighington station on a bankside known as Codlings bridge. Does this glorious place remain?

Brown Argus/ Northern Brown Argus  (P. 123- 128)

    Newman finds the differing 'species' all very confusing but makes no mention of either Argus in Yorkshire. He considers there are three different types: the Brown Argus, Castle Eden Argus and Scotch Brown Argus but they 'are nothing more than geographical races of one species'.

Chalk-Hill Blue  (P. 130-131)

    After reading Newman one cannot help but speculate that the Chalk-Hill Blue probably once - before records began - bred in Yorkshire.

    Although Newman says: 'It appears to be abundant everywhere in England on chalk, but generally absent where there is no chalk', he then goes on to somewhat contradict himself by listing northern areas where the butterfly could only have resided on a limestone base. Apart from Lincolnshire where T. H. Allis notes that it is: 'common in Lincolnshire on Chalk' there's some facts which seem quite astounding.

Cumberland: Grisedale near Saddleback: Mr Hope of Penrith, told me he had taken it repeatedly ' J B Hodgkinson.

Lancashire: - Grange ' Alfred Owen; abundant at Arnside in Siverdale more especially about Arnside Tower ' J B Hodginson. (Does he mean the Tower area proper as now it's covered by green pasture for grazing or rather the Knott itself rising up 200 metres away').

Westmoreland: Rough fields, near Beetham and Milnthorpe, in August: J B Hodginson.

Small Blue  (P. 134-135)

           Newman does not specifically mention the Small Blue in Yorkshire but whether through an error of omission or not tantalizingly suggests it is there.

'''It does not appear in my lists for Berkshire, Cornwall, Cheshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Northampton, Nottingham, Shropshire, Surrey or Warwickshire but is present in all the other county lists.

The Large Blue  (P. 137-140)

      Although obviously never a Yorkshire species, Newman mentions G T Porritt's contribution towards unravelling the secret of the Large Blue although even Newman was unaware of just how elusive that final unravelling would be. In his book, Newman mentions Porritt only infrequently and one suspects there was little or no personal contact between them.

     However, either Porritt's field reports or diary are erroneous or it's Newman's laxity or else there is a serious typographical error but; 'He informs us at page 166 of the same journal that on the 4th of May two young caterpillars emerged' (surely this must be July') A few sentences later and the same caterpillars 10 days on, 'were about to undergo their final moult' ( Surely this must mean first or second moult')

Swallowtail  (P. 149-153)

        Newman notes that single Swallowtails were captured in northern counties. 'One taken at Gilsland about 15 miles from Carlisle and one brought along to an entomologist in Lancashire having been caught on a turnpike road in 1856. Newman acknowledges that he doesn't know if they'd been bred or escaped. Breeding and releasing Swallowtails quite arbitrarily was much in fashion at the time and it seems, some were released at Grassington on the Yorkshire Pennines !

                        Newman though leaves his most interesting note on Yorkshire.

       Yorkshire: On page 27 of the preface to Haworth's 'Lepidoptera Britannica' we find the following passage: 'I know Machaon, the common Swallowtail Papilio, breeds near Beverley yet, and my brother-in-law, R Scales of Walworth, near London, possess a specimen of it which was taken there seven years since.'

        Haworth published in 1803 so the Swallowtail in the collection of R Scales must have been caught at Beverley in 1796 and seeing Haworth is so venerated, it's possible that R Scales' collection might be in a museum somewhere.

        A further note of interest. In the Tolson Memorial Museum, Huddersfield, in the room exhibiting the varied collection of that excellent worker naturalist, Ben Morley, there's an exhibit of a Swallowtail supposedly caught at Horbury in West Yorkshire in 1840 and later presented to him. Of course, Swallowtails at Horbury in 1840 must be extremely unlikely though at the time, (as indeed, somewhat remains) there is a long stretch of very marshy ground beginning at Horbury going on and downwards through the lower Calder and that may, conceivably linked-up once with the fenland around Beverley. This though is pushing things. If  the Swallowtail had been caught in 1740 - well perhaps!

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 Note added in December 2004  (Extracts from a letter to Howard Frost 27-10-04 - on requesting the photo of Morley's Swallowtail for the forthcoming book on Yorkshire butterflies)           


 "Perhaps there may be something else I find rather more fascinating.  I have a feeling Beverley wasn't the only place where the Swallowtail flew in Yorkshire up to the last decade of the 18th century. Although the early developments of the industrial revolution like canal building along with mills etc related to that form of transport would probably have finally put paid to presumably small Swallowtail colonies around say the early years of the 19th century some may have lingered on in areas where any interest in Lepidoptera would have been scant indeed and up river from Beverley.  I suspect before the industrial revolution that a lot of Yorkshire rivers like the Ouse, Wharfe, Aire and Calder in their long approach to the Humber estuary had large flood plains which presumably merged at times into peat bogs on which milk parsley may have flourished. (In this respect rather like the River Yare's relationship with Strumpshaw Fen near Norwich  which hosts a Swallowtail colony). Most likely these bogs were given a rudimentary drainage system and maybe covered with topsoil or possibly early pit spoil heap landfill as a basis for  industrial building. I doubt very much if the peat would have been first extracted despite being a valuable fuel.

                 Obviously Horbury in 1840 was probably part of West Riding coketown and I suspect even a primitive version of Healey Mills Marshalling Yards was already up and running not so much for the transport of wool as a depot for coal. In fact coal used to be heaped up in these yards merely six years ago. Although large-scale capitalisation of coal didn't really take off until about 1850 in Yorkshire, the area to the immediate south of Horbury was riddled with small drift mines in the often deep, gorgeously wooded ravines that characterise the Netherton/Overton/Flockton area. These drift mines in such beautiful scenery had a scenic topography second to none. It's hardly surprising therefore that in the 1990s, Caphouse Colliery ' a combination of pit winding gear and drift tunnels ' was selected to be the heritage site for the National Mining Museum in a setting so picturesque it's like a miniature Appalachia. On visiting the museum you half suspect you'll run into Johnny Cash, guitar in hand singing Hazard Hollow! But it's precisely this ambience of stinking industry and natural beauty, which gives a certain aura to Horbury Bridge".


                                                                  Morley's Swallowtail: Second thoughts!


                                                              Morley
      "Could Horbury in the 1840s have retained a small patch of old peat bog that was favourable to a released Swallowtail or even an indigenous leftover that had travelled upstream rather than from Derbyshire' Reed beds are in any case reasonably common on these reaches of the Aire and Calder. Today on the recently created great lake of Fairburn Ings  - only a few miles away and almost down river - and product of old pit water, if you close your eyes and simply look at the thick reed beds you can imagine you are somewhere on the Norfolk Broads. Alas though the banks are made up of former pit spoil heaps and any peat bog which once may have nourished milk parsley is something long gone never to return. However historically in the mid 19th century we cannot absolutely discount the possibility that our glorious Morley butterfly may have clung on somewhere around here. I think it's worth raising all such possibilities in a footnote to Ben's puzzling contribution." (Letter to Howard Frost)
 

Grizzled Skipper  (P. 169-170) Dingy Skipper  (P. 170-171)

               Newman says of both butterflies that they occur in every county list.

Silver-Spotted Skipper  (P. 172-173)

Yorkshire: Scarborough, York: Edwin Birchall

          Fascinating! Remember Birchall was one of the few entomologists Newman particularly singles out in his preface so such a recording is probably not speculation or wish-fulfilment!


                                                                                        David and Stuart Wise.

                                                                                                    April 2000