This venerable tree, owing to its great antiquity, has long been regarded by the inhabitants of Wakefield with
feelings of lively interest. Standing upon high ground, it overlooks a rich and fertile valley, upon the rising
banks of which may be seen Old Hall, the residence of George Ridsdale, Esq., and the spire of Horbury
Church in the distance. In reference to this tree, a tradition has long been preserved by the Maudes, whose
ancestors built Alverthorpe Hall, and who formerly possessed extensive estates in this immediate neighbourhood, viz., that it was planted by John Maude de Staynland, or by his eldest son, surnamed Senex, in or
about the year 1585—making it 258 years old.
For some years past it has exhibited evident symptoms of decay, though it still retains periodical powers
of vegetation. To use the words of John Maude, Esq., of Middlevvood Hall, the seventh in descent from this
family,—" This tree continued to flourish whilst the Maudes of Wakefield flourished, and its decay has kept pace
with theirs." During the rebellion in 1745, it is reported that the royalists, under General Wade, encamped for
a night in St. John's Field; and the army having received orders to proceed westward, the pioneers had been
despatched to remove every thing likely to impede the progress of the baggage-waggons and ammunition. In
pursuance of this object, they had already cut down several trees and hedges in the direction of Dewsbury;
and as the Cliff Tree stood in the way of their contemplated route, it was intended that it should likewise share
the same fate : this, however, was happily prevented by the timely interference of some respectable individuals.
Shortly after this, General Wade, who was then in the centre of Yorkshire, having received intelligence
that the Pretender with his adherents had actually commenced a rapid retreat from Derby, sent, with all
practicable expedition, a troop of horse over Blackstone Edge, with a view to intercept the fugitives. In this
attempt he was too late, although in time to join the pursuing force of the Duke of Cumberland.