Tomb One – ‘The Grumpy Widower’

‘We all have a past.


They are the shadows that define our every sunny day’

~ Sherlock Holmes

The Tale:

Gentle reader,

As you enjoy a good look at the FIRST of the THIRTEEN Brigante Tombs nestled in this window and IF the door is ajar – why not treat a loved one to a unique gift from the delightful array of candles, chocolates or ceramics on offer?

And as everyone loves a hand-made card – you will be spoilt for choice!

Unfortunately, there was very little love lost over the tragic fate of the gentleman who lived in the building on the opposite side of Coney Street in the chilly month of November in 1857.

If you look at the buildings directly opposite – can you see the building with a distinctive bow window below the two rows of elegant white Georgian windows on a brick façade?

And can you see the passageway which is supported by a chunky white painted column?

This building known as 10 Coney Street was once home to most famous gun maker of Yorkshire, – the Thomas Horsley family who crafted shotguns, rifles and pistols of the very highest quality from their workshops for 100 years until Thomas Horsley III closed the doors in Blossom Street for the final time in 1956.

‘All the gentlemen of Yorkshire shoot with Horsley guns.’

~ Field Magazine circa 1860.

Can you imagine a horse with a stylish carriage belonging to the Yorkshire aristocracy or a fashionable gentlemen patiently waiting on the street while the master purchased another hand-crafted gun for his fine cabinet?

However, our tale begins with Thomas Horsley II who lived above the workshop with his wife and many children, a faithful servant and a very melancholy father-in-law one William Villerett aged 80 who had once been the publican of the Red Lion Inn in Doncaster.

Although William had a reputation for being something of a hypochondriac – shortly after midday on November 26, and having instructed the servant to bring his usual bowl of soup – he told her that he was tired and was not to be disturbed!

Later that afternoon when the servant returned to William’s room to take him some tea and found the door locked, Thomas II was duly summoned and having climbed through the upstairs window – he discovered that William had hung himself with a strange assortment of bandages that he had lately taken to wearing as his clothing.

On the instructions of the deputy city coroner Mr. Robinson, William’s body was moved to the former Leopard Inn in Coney Street and his surgeon, the delightfully named Mr. Husband was summoned to appear at the inquest.

As Mr. Husband stated that poor William fancied himself constantly ill with imaginary ailments and was a difficult, brooding man who had lately taken to beating his chest – the jury concluded that he had simply destroyed himself in a pique of insanity.

And despite the wealth of Thomas Horsley II – William was to be buried in an unmarked public grave at York Cemetery a few days later and thus destined to share for eternity the companionship of fourteen perfect strangers.

May he FINALLY be at peace?

The Location:

The Former Site of Thomas Horsley Gunmaker of York. Coney Street. York. YO1 9QL