How 'Old Peculier' Was Named

(Information from booklet, "Theakston, The Peculier Story", from T & R Theakston Ltd, The Brewery, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, England, HG4 4DX)

This famous ale derived its name from an earlier honour which was conferred on the town - 'The seal of the Official of the Peculier of Masham'.

The story began during the reign of William the Conqueror, when the lands and estates of Mashamshire were given top one of his captains - Nigel de Albini - who had ravaged this part of the country. Nigel de Albini later became Bow- Bearer to William Rufus and was with William when he was mysteriously killed by an arrow in the New Forest.

The lands passed to Nigel's son, Roger de Mowbay, who proved his worth as a knight at the Battle of Standard in 1138, when the invading Scottish army were defeated.

Roger then went to the Holyland to fight in the Crusades, but was captured by Saladin and held to ransom for seven years. He was redeemed by the Knights Templar and in gratitude gave the living of the church at Masham to the church of St. Peter in York. However, the Archbishop of York was not overjoyed at the news. His responsibility of administering the law there would mean a journey through thick forests inhabited by cut-throats and vagabonds. His solution was to free Masham of 'all the customs and claims of his archdeacons and officials.' Thus the Peculier (derived from the Norman French word for 'particular' rather than 'odd') Court of Masham was established.

The Chairman, or official of this Court, had a seal to mark his approval or decision and exercised a great deal of local power. Record show that offences dealt with by the court included:

Although no record of that seal exists, the seal used today was granted by George III and is thought to be based on the original one. It has been suggested that the kneeling man in the seal may signify Roger de Mowbray while a prisoner of Saladin.