Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duck, John

DUCK, Sir JOHN (d. 1691), mayor of Durham, was apprenticed early in life to a butcher at Durham, though from an entry in the guild registers it appears that in 1657 some opposition was raised to his following the trade. The foundation of his subsequent fortunes is said to have been laid by the following incident. 'As he was straying in melancholy idleness by the water side, a raven appeared hovering in the air, and from chance or fright dropped from his bill a gold Jacobus at the foot of the happy butcher boy.' This adventure was depicted on a panel in the house which he afterwards built for himself in Durham, where he became exceedingly prosperous, and in 1680 served the office of mayor. Taking an active part in politics during the last years of the Stuarts, he attracted the attention of the government, and in 1686 his useful loyalty was rewarded by a patent of baronetcy. In this he is described as 'of Haswell on the Hill,' a manor which he had purchased with his accumulated wealth in the year of his mayoralty. He built and endowed a hospital at Lumley, but as he had no issue his title became extinct at his death, 26 Aug. 1691.

[Surtees' Hist. of Durham, i. 53, 54, &c.; Le Neve's Baronets; Burke's Extinct Baronetage.]

C. J. R.