THE BOOK OF DUCK DECOYS.
|In Somerset, especially about the vast morasses of Glastonbury, Decoys have long existed-a dozen or more. The wild moorlands and flooded marshes formerly so numerous in that county were highly favourable for attracting wildfowl. But later on I shall treat of the Decoys and their respective counties in alphabetical order, and shall give the history and position of each as distinctly as possible.|
| This was a famous family of Decoymen who came from Friskney, in Lincolnshire, at the beginning of the present century, the various members of which constructed or remodelled nearly all our best Decoys, past and present, and a few of their descendants are still in active work as Decoymen to this day.|
The Skeltons were unrivalled in their knowledge of Decoying and skill in the construction of Decoys, and were, as I have said, the first to introduce into Norfolk the small pools of their native district in lieu of the large lakes previously used as Decoys in that county.
The first of the name to leave Lincolnshire was "Old George Skelton"; he was brought to Somerton in 1807 by Mr. Huntington, to design a Decoy for him on his estate, an account of which transaction I have given.
Old George was accompanied or soon followed by his four sons, George, William, Richard, and Henry.
Old George, as stated, made, and till his death worked, the Winterton Decoy in Norfolk. He died in 1840, aged eighty, and was buried in Winterton Churchyard.
His son William removed to Combe Abbey, Warwickshire, where he made a Decoy for Lord Craven, and worked it till his death in 1867, at the age of seventy-eight; he also made several others, including Lord Caledon's in Ireland. William had two sons, of whom one, T. Gilbert Skelton, lately constructed (1885) Lord Lilford's Decoy near Thrapstone, and the other holds a large farm under Lord Powerscourt in Ireland.
Richard Skelton was for many years Decoyman for the Gurney family at Hempstead. He left that place and took a Decoy at Methwold shortly before his death, which occurred in 1849, at the age of fifty-three years.