Page:Yorkshire Oddities, Incidents and Strange Events.djvu/34

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PETER PRIESTLY,

THE WAKEFIELD PARISH CLERK.

In the middle of last century there lived in Wakefield a certain Peter Priestly, who for many years was sexton of the parish church of All Saints. The then vicar was Michael Bacon, D.D., a tall, portly man, of a commanding presence, who wore a large bushy wig, as was the wont of many old divines of that date. He was a man of rather a warm temperament, and was apt at times, when matters did not flow quite according to his will, to grow a little irritable, and whilst in that condition his habit was frequently to thrust his right hand in a testy, impetuous way under his wig. This habit destroyed the symmetry of that capital ornament, and made it protrude considerably on the right side; and this protrusion grew greater the longer the wig was worn.

The vicar's wigs were inherited and worn by the sexton, whose venerable and awe-inspiring appearance was much enhanced thereby. Mrs. Priestly in vain endeavoured to reduce the protuberance of hair on the right side, so as not to betray the origin of the wig. The horse-hair resumed its elasticity in spite of her efforts, and the congregation in the parish church were amused to see the stately Doctor in his reading-desk with a deformed wig, and below him the scarcely less stately clerk in a wig the counterpart of that of the Doctor. But what amused the wags not a little was to observe the fact that when the Doctor's wig was perfectly