Hobbie Noble had distinguished himself by playing a prominent part in effecting the escape of the Armstrong, Jock o’ the Syde, from Newcastle jail. Hobbie was an Englishman, born in Cumbria, but his misdeeds were many, and he was forced to flee to Scotland to escape the law. There, in Scotland, he attached himself to the Armstrongs, who were the most active and troublesome of all the reiving families.
Hobbie, however, avoided joining in with the Armstrong’s many raids into England for fear of being caught by the authorities who were well aware of his new connections and were even more anxious now to apprehend him.
Thus life continued
for some time until a party of Armstrongs,
led by one Sim o’ the Mains, were tempted by the reward the English
offered for the apprehension and delivery to them of Hobbie.
Persuaded beyond his
better judgement, Hobbie agreed to join the group in a raid into
England. Having returned from England many times unscathed, he felt
reasonably safe with his five companions.
To the Land-Sergeant
at Askerton Castle, who was responsible to the Warden of the West March
for the apprehension of miscreants, the capture of Hobbie would be a
prize indeed, and he willingly came to an arrangement with Sim which
would be to their mutual advantage.
So one day, they
guided Hobbie over the wastes along unfrequented paths well known to
them, and he felt in no way endangered. But a message had been passed to
the Land-Sergeant: “The deer you have hunted so long is in Bewcastle
waste this day.”
In all haste, the
Land-Sergeant assembled a body of horsemen to accompany him, and they
road out from the confines of Askerton Castle.
It was night, and
Hobbie, unaware of his danger, was asleep in Foulbogshiel. And there,
guided by the treacherous Sim, Hobbie was taken. He was bound in his own
bowstring, and taken to Carlisle, in triumph where he was paraded
through the streets.
Next morning, they
hanged Hobbie from the gallows at Harraby,
Back in Liddesdale, news of the affair reached the Armstrong chief at Mangerton. For bringing such dire disgrace to the Armstrongs, the Laird, exacted upon Sim and his companions the most severe punishment. They were hounded back across into England, where they themselves we captured by the same Land-Sergeant. They too were taken to Carlisle, and they, too, met the same fate as Hobbie on the gallows on Horraby hill.
The remains of Askerton Castle lies about five miles south of Bewcastle, in Cumberland, on the Brampton road.
The site of the gallows at Harraby is close by the Border TV studios.
NB There are several different spellings of Harraby.
Perhaps someone knows the exact location of
Foulbogsheil. Perhaps it has been given a more acceptable name!
The Ballad of Hobbie