Manuscript draft: 'Traditions of Lancashire' by John Roby

Scope and Content

Roby's manuscript draft, with many corrections and amendments, of his work Traditions of Lancashire (1829-1831), a compilation of the legends and stories of places in Lancashire.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Roby (1793-1850) was a writer and banker of Lancashire. His first published writings comprised a series of verse parodies, romances and pastiches, published, some anonymously, between 1813 and 1823. In 1819 Roby became a managing partner of the Rochdale banking firm, Fenton, Eccles, Cunliffe, and Roby. He worshipped at Providence Independent Chapel, Rochdale, and was organist there for fifteen years from 1822. It may have been here that he met Thomas Raffles. Roby was best known for Traditions of Lancashire, but also published accounts of his foreign tours. His only novel and a collection of his writings were published after his death. Roby died on 18 June 1850, when the steamer Orion sank off Portpatrick, Wigtownshire.

From 1823 Roby was collecting materials for Traditions of Lancashire, published in two volumes in 1829, with a second series of two volumes in 1831. Roby worked local legends and episodes into short stories and verse to produce a work of 'popularized antiquarianism' (Dictionary of National Biography). Roby used a similar mix of fact and fiction as that used by Sir Walter Scott, who himself praised Roby's work. The work was popular and reprinted many times, from 1841 as Popular Traditions of England. Roby also intended to write on the traditions of other counties, but all that remains of this wish are three Yorkshire tales published in Blackwood's and Fraser's magazines (1835-1837).

Source: James Sambrook, 'Roby, John (1793-1850)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Custodial History

The manuscript was presented to Thomas Raffles by the author John Roby on 4 March 1847.