John Duck who’s story resembles that of Dick Wittington lived on silver street. He was one of the wealthiest citizens ofDurham. The house he lived in on silver street was demolished in 1963.
In 1655 Duck arrived in Durham with the intent to train as butcher. He was refused by all he approached as the concern was that he may be a scot, and that was forbidden by the Buchers Guild.
Legend states that Mr.Duck was feeling rejected and miserable when one butcher took him on, after a passing raven dropped a gold coin at his feet.
Surtees, the Durham historian tells us that this coin was ‘to be the mother of a dozen more’ as with this gold coin John Duck went on to make his fortune, through how exactly is not altogether clear. Evidence suggests that Duck was not always law abiding in the way he accumulated his wealth.
He is known for example to have bought cattle from a livestock thief but we do not know enough to pass judgement on him as being corrupt.
By whatever means he made his fortune Duck went on to become one of the wealthiest men in Durham, owning both land and collieries in the area such as the Duck’s Main Colliery near Rainton. In 1680 he became the Mayor of Durham and ultimately progressed to the rank of a baronet when he became Sir John Duck of Haswell on the hill.