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this now highly valuable waste part of the "jura regalia" or royal rights of the county palatine of Durham, which upon the expiration of Bishop Barrington's lease to Mr. Robert Biss, again reverted to the Bishop of Durham, and his successors Bishops of Durham, from whom it passed to, and is now (1857), the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
It would appear that Mr. Newark Hudson and Mr. Robert Biss, both Commissioners of the river Wear at the dates of their respective leases in 1749 and 1810, knew nothing of any right of the Commissioners to this "Fand bank" gained from the sea, and who are expressly precluded by their acts of parliament from acquiring any rights upon lands adjoining the river, except for the purposes of navigation. They are merely conservators of the tidal waters, and can only acquire, like private persons, a right to parts of the soil of the river by purchase from its owners. Under what title they are stated to have sold part of this " sand bank" in or about the year 1847, to the Sunderland Dock Company, for the sum of £2,700, exclusive of the value of their buildings upon it, remains unknown. A few years previous to the formation of Sunderland Dock, the Commissioners placed their mere or boundary stones along the line of demarcation, between it and that part of the Town Moor which during the last century was known as the Coney Warren, and in more ancient times as the Coney Garth, as appears by the following receipts extracted from "The Inventories and Account Rolls of the Benedictine House or Cell of Wearmouth," published by the "Surtees Society" in
1448-9 Received for........... Sayn between 8. d.
the Stell and Saltpan opposite the 6 8
“ Cunyngarth”..... 1449-50 Received for the fishery of the Sayn
between the Stell and Saltpan op- 6 8
posite the “Conynggarth”.. 1452–3 Received for the fishery of the Sayne
between the Stell and Saltpan op-} 6 8
posite the “ Conynggarth”.............] 1453-4 Received for the fishery of the Sayn) between the Stell and Saltpan op-4
nothing posite the “ Conynggarth”...... The sea has made extensive ravages upon the land from the south pier to the southward of Hendon. Nearly in the centre of the Town Moor was a large ditch, the east end of which, for about forty yards in length, was covered with a brick arch five feet in height, open at each end. This culvert or tunnel went by the name of “ Coppy's hole.” In the year 1807 an extensive seizure was made by the officers of customs of half anker kegs containing Holland's Gin, which had by some means got smuggled into this hole. Several other kegs of similar liquor, found buried in the sea beach, were seized at the same time. On the south side of the wall that divided the Coney Warren from the Town Moor, between it and the herd's house, stood an old government storehouse probably built at the date of the first batteries in its vicinity. And in the sea bank eastward, above the level of high-water mark, was a lime-kiln, with the sea rocks for its quarry. All these were swept away by the sea long ago. The house occupied by the herd of the Moor, opposite Barrack Street, has also been gone many years, although there are still a few old inhabitants who remember its existence.
It is said that the action of the sea upon the coast has been considerably increased by the extension of the piers at the harbour entrance.
A survey of Sunderland Moor, by Mr.Thomas Forster in 1742, shows a battery of four guns at the extreme north east corner of the Coney Warren, near the promenade at the river entrance of Sunderland Dock. The position (near the "Nab End or Rock") of this, the most ancient battery on record at Sunderland, was such as effectually commanded the Stell or north Channel of the river, as well as the roadstead.
Between 1742 and 1749 (most probably in 1745, the year of the rebellion and final overthrow of the hopes of the House of Stuart), the south battery, of four guns, was built at Jockey Dike Nook, on the Town Moor. This battery stood nearly south-east of St. John's Chapel, and was washed away by the sea about 1780.
Upon the waste or sand-bank thrown up behind the south pier, the walled battery called Paul Jones's or the Black Cat battery was erected. This fort is said to have been built for the defence of the town when Commodore Paul Jones* (so named in the American service) was off Sunderland, on or about the 23rd September, 1779, with the Bon Homme Richard, Pallas, and Alliance, being a part of his small squadron of American
* Paul Jones was born near Dumfries, in Scotland; he entered into the American service on the declaration of independence in 1776, when he was appointed to command a small squadron of ships, under the American flag. With these ships he visited the English coast, where he performed several daring deeds. Various acts of the most revolting eruelty are ascribed to him, and his appearance off Sunderland, caused great terror amongst the inhabitants, who considered him it pirate. Great numbers of them left the town, whilst tradition says
ships, during the war of independence. Sometime after the" disappearance of Paul Jones from the English coast, this battery was enlarged or rebuilt under the superintendence of Mr. Burke, a government engineer, who resided in the house in Warren Street, now (1857) the offices of Messrs. William Nicholson and Sons,ironfoundcrs, &c. The battery had a furnace at its north end for heating shot, and mounted four twenty-four pounders. These guns and others on the coast were generally in charge of the Sunderland Loyal Volunteers, commanded by Major Robt. Hayton, of 9, Burleigh Street, and of the Sunderland Volunteer Artillery i commanded first by Major Thomas Scarth, of Hendon Red House, Comptroller of the Customs at the port of Sunderland, and late of Keverstone, near Raby Castle, and afterwards by Lieut. Col. Richard Markham, of 6, High Street, Sunderland, and Eden House, Bishopwearmouth. The name of the battery was partially changed from Paul Jones's to the Black Cat Battery from the following occurrence :—In the year 1805, the Sunderland Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Colonel Sir Milbaxke. Ralph Milbanke, Bart., of Seaham Hall, M.P. for the county of Durham were called out for twenty-one days' permanent duty. Very properly, one of the first military acts of the worthy Colonel and his officers was to fix their head-quarters at the house of Mr. Thomas Jowscy, George Inn, (now the George Hotel), 29, High Street (bottom of
that the banks of the Town Moor were crowded with women dressed in red cloaks, the fashion of the day, and that Jones mistook the women for soldiers, which prevented him from, attempting a landing It is also said that a beacon consisting of a great number of empty
lirey Street), in front of which, at the hour for mess, the Irums and files of the Volunteers played that well-known ir “The Roast Beef of Old England." They also fixed t line of sentinels along the sea coast within a short distance of the town. Amongst the posts guarded by the Volunteer sentinels was Paul Jones's battery, at which lonely place it fell to the lot of Joshua Dunn, by trade a cooper, a private in Captain Christopher Bramwell, senior's, company, on a fine still bright moon-light night to be posted. Whether, to wile away the time he had been
- crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet ;" and erer and anon
glow'ring round wi' prudent cares, Lest boggles catch him unawares ;" we cannot pretend to say, but certainly that time
was drawing nigh," when
ghaists and houlets nightly cry;" when his attention was attracted by a rustling noise amongst some rough reedy grass that grew near Joshua gazed upon the place from whence the noise proceeded, until a large black cat made its appearance which the courageous volunteer fancied was the devil! Dunn, who would not have turned his back to any natural enemies of his country, was appalled at the appearance of that which he thought was the enemy of mankind. Terror stricken, he threw down his musket, and in haste ran to
tar barrels was lighted upon the summit of Bildon Hill alarming the whole neighbourhood. Jones was created a chevalie: by Louis XVI. of France, and died without issue. A considerable sum of money due p him, was in 1852 divided by the American Government amongs is relations, who are numerous at and near Dumfries.