From the Darlington & Stockton Times of May 10, 1924: “On Tuesday, a sensation was caused at Northallerton by the announcement in the daily press that Mr George Squires, aged 75, an inmate of the Almshouses, Newark, had been left £80,000,” said the D&S Times 100 years ago this week.

“One paper stated that the fortune had been inherited from Lady Boss, of Northallerton Hall, Northallerton, whose husband, a sea captain who predeceased her, was the brother of Mr Squires’s mother.”

The lucky Mr Squires, a father of 20, was therefore on the cusp of inheriting a fortune worth more than £4m in today’s values from his distant ancestor, so little wonder there was great media interest in his windfall.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The historic headline from the D&S Times

“Press representatives came to Northallerton on Wednesday, expecting to hear that the wealthy widow had died recently hereabouts, but they could find no trace of any such person having lived or died in the district for 60 years and everybody was in the dark about it,” said the D&S Times.

While no one alive could remember a Lady Boss, the D&S pointed out that in 1832, Northallerton had elected Captain John Boss, of South Otterington Hall, who had made his name in the Royal Navy in the Caribbean. Indeed, said the paper, only a month earlier, it had revisited his story and told how his wife, Charlotte, had died during the 1832 election campaign but he had still triumphed in the poll against William Battie-Wrightson, who had been building his supporters cowhouses so they could qualify for the vote.

“It is a rather singular coincidence that after the Darlington & Stockton Times had revived the memory of the gallant captain there should appear this remarkable story from Newark of a bequest of £80,000 from a Mrs Boss,” it concluded.

One hundred years ago, the D&S was full of complaints about the weather: it was so wet and so cold.

“Are we not all in the mood to welcome the prophet who will offer us a ray of hope?” asked Spectator in his column.

Fortunately, he had a report from the paper’s Teesdale correspondent to hand. It read: “Snow was to be seen on the hilltops throughout Teesdale up to Tuesday morning. This has been an old-fashioned winter. We have had snow for eight consecutive months.

“According to the old tradition, we may expect a long, droughty summer.”

Spectator said that the “merry month of May” had begun with “a wind howling like a banshee and the pitiless rain flogging the window panes” so a summery water shortage seemed like an appealing prospect.