There are several concerning the Jowsey family, ranging from 1661 to 1782.
The Rev David Quinlan, Middlesbrough Diocesan Archivist, kindly supplied the original photographs from which these copies were made. The copyright belongs to Mr John Tindale of Whitby whose expert treatment revealed the illegible words written in red ink which had faded. Six members of the Jowsey family occur in the Guisborough Hearth Tax records in the year 1662.
Between the reigns of James I (1606) and James II, when the Reformation had been developing some 70 years, and there were severe punishments and death penalties for Roman Catholics and their priests, young men who wanted to be priests disguised themselves and left the country for France, where semin aries were set up. After their studies they returned by devious routes into England, where they took jobs to disguise their vocation.
A tattered Latin-English Dictionary, printed in 1606, came into the hands of the Rev David Quinlan, of Egton Bridge, who is Middlesbrough Diocesan Archivist, and on its title page and flyleaves were a number of almost illegible words in faded red ink. Photographed by modern methods, the words became visible as the signatures of a number of men, together with bits of Latin and Greek verse (see photograph).
Who were these people of over 300 years ago who despoiled a perfectly good dictionary? The names include John Jowsey, Andrew Jowsey, John Johns, Thomas Thwenge, and one in code R.2893c57C4ck29311. Father Quinlan has discovered quite a lot of their history. Some of them were Catholic priests who studied in Flanders, in the seminary at Douai, so the dictionary was a college textbook.
John Jowsey was a Guisborough (North Yorkshire) Currier who, with his parents, suffered fines and imprisonment for refusing to attend the Parish Church services. He went to Douai in 1646, and was so poor that he worked as a servant in the town during his years of study, and he returned via Holland in 1648, travelling in disguise because Priests were executed if caught trying to enter England. He then assisted Father Postgate, who was born in Egton Bridge, with his work from the north moorland coast as far inland as Pickering.
We do not know what happened to him after that. But the Andrew Jowsey who wrote his name in the book was arrested in mistake for John, in 1678, but was released when it was proved that he was not a priest. Father Postgate was arrested and executed at York in 1679.
Thomas Thwenge is well documented. He, too, went to Douai, and when he returned to England he worked as a butcher, also being Chaplain to the Nuns now at the Bar Convent, York. For six years he had a secret school for Catholic boys i the Dower House at Carlton, in the West Riding, and he either brought the Dictionary with him, or his old seminary at Douai helped him out with textbooks, for some of the other signatures are those of scholars at Carlton.
The name of his secret school was “Quosque”, which means “Wherever is it?” He was executed at York in 1681, being dragged to his death on a hurdle past the Convent where he had been chaplain. Not oly does the book bear is name, but he composed a Latin couplet which says, more or less, “This is my book, and if anyone puts his hands on it my name will remind him of the fact.”
The book now is in the “Postgate” Museum at Egton Bridge. Tracing the history of the owners has been slow work, but it is hoped to compile a much fuller account of this book, not omitting the boy who wrote his name in cypher, for that collection of letters and numbers on the flyleaf has been deciphered by Father Quinlan as “Richard Cockerill”.”