Our tale of John “Swift Nick” Nevison

Ringstone Hill Farm in Brierley is the home of GB7YD and once a hideout in the 17th century for the highwayman William Nevison – AKA  John “Swift Nick” Nevison.

Find out more about our connection with Britain’s most flamboyant highwayman.

Ringstone Hill is the highest point of a ridge on which Brierley stands. Most of the village is at three hundred feet above sea level with the nearby valley of the river Dearne at one hundred and twenty feet. This makes Brierley’s hill quite outstanding.

The ridge stretches from Clayton in the east to Ryhill in the west. In some places it reaches three hundred and fifty feet and at Ringstone Hill it reaches four hundred. The whole area forms a natural barrier between Pontefract and Barnsley.

Nevison was one of Britain’s most flamboyant highwaymen, a man whose exploits earned him praise from even King Charles II. He was born in Wortley near Barnsley in present-day South Yorkshire and initially worked as an exciseman around Barnsley before turning to crime, operating from the Talbot Inn at Newark.

He had a reputation for not using violence against his victims, most of whom he and his gang attacked along a stretch of the Great North Road between Huntingdon and York.

The existing farm house was at this time an inn and the innkeeper’s name was Adam Hawkesworth. There is a legend that the highwayman Nevison had hideouts in Yorkshire, one of them being Ringstone Hill, where the landlord was ordered to take down his sign for giving shelter to Nevison.

In fact, there is an entry in the records of the Magistrates Sessions at Rotherham for 1676, ordering that Adam Hawkesworth, inn-keeper at Ringstone Hill should have his sign taken down for having harboured Nevison, a notorious highwayman.

Did you ever hear told of that hero,
Bold Nevison it was his name,
And he rode about like a brave hero,
And by that he gained a great fame,

Now when I rode on the highway,
I always had money in store.
And whatever I took from the rich
Why I freely gave it to the poor.

I have never robbed no man of tuppence
And I’ve never done murder nor killed.
Though guilty I’ve been all my lifetime
So gentlemen do as you please.

BOO! Your money or your life 🙂
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