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Title: Notes and Queries for Worcestershire

Author: John Noake

Release Date: October 13, 2014 [EBook #47105]

Language: English

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[Pg i]







[Pg ii]
[Pg iii]








J. H. H. FOLEY, ESQ., M.P.,



[Pg iv]

In winter's tedious nights sit by the fire,
With good old folks, and let them tell thee tales
Of ages long ago betid.

[Pg v]


Another trifling instalment towards the history of Worcestershire is now respectfully presented to its inhabitants, and the Author ventures to express a hope that it may meet with the general favour of the reading public, equal to that which his previous works have elicited.

The materials of historical works usually consist of tables of pedigrees, charters, battles, sieges, enumerations of manors, with their successive owners, statistical details, and other tedious though useful information. These, however, are but the dry bones—the skeleton of history. The spirit of the past can only be evoked by a deep and extensive research among documentary and traditional evidences—by careful comparison and analysis—by judicious deduction and inference. To perform this effectually, even for the limited area of a county, the coöperation of many minds is almost indispensable. Let us take Worcestershire as an instance. Habingdon, Nash, Thomas, Green, and others, have accumulated large masses of the[Pg vi] matter which conventionally passes for history, and I would not for one moment desire to detract from the merit of their labours: yet the history of Worcestershire remains to be written. What do we yet know of the manners and customs, the hopes and aspirations, the social every-day life, the habits and thoughts, of our ancestors? Yet surely this is not the least considerable feature of the times of which we would fain glean tidings. Who would not vastly prefer an hour or two's conversation with one who was in the flesh some centuries ago—could that be possible—to studying the pages of the most intelligent contemporaneous historian? Education had rendered the world dissatisfied with the old modes and precise forms of this department of literature, when such pens as Macaulay's were soon ready to supply the new want. Yet Macaulay could have done but little service in this way had he been content to receive old stereotyped facts which had for centuries been lazily copied by preceding writers. It was by industriously and perseveringly investigating public and private libraries, hunting up all available resources, and systematically comparing and arranging the information thus obtained, that he was enabled, by the potency of his genius, to erect on a new foundation a superstructure that has delighted and astonished all beholders. That great man's industry, at all events, if not his genius, may, and must be, imitated by all who would successfully labour in the field of history for the future.[Pg vii] The annals of even so circumscribed an area as a county must not be written without at least searching the records of its principal courts of judicature, nor that of a city before consulting the dusty relics in the parochial chests and the municipal closets. Yet these fertile sources of authentic information have been almost entirely neglected by Worcestershire historians. The Author of this little work has made a commencement, humble though it be, towards furnishing data for the required undertaking; yet how much remains to be done! Nor can a single individual, confined to the requirements of an absorbing profession, be expected, alone and unaided, to achieve much. If some one in each parish would undertake to search the register, the old vestry and churchwardens' books, and any manuscripts or other material that may exist in the parish; if others would investigate the archives of the municipal towns, the Assize records (which I presume are in the possession of Mr. Wilde, at Clifford's Inn), the MSS. and rare books which may be found in the libraries of private gentlemen and the British Museum, and, though last, the most important of all, the ancient ecclesiastical registers and other records in Edgar Tower—the labour of a life—some material would then be gleaned from which a competent editor might produce a history worthy of the county—a picture of the life and manners of our ancestors, and not a mere record of names and dates and crude undigested facts.

[Pg viii]

The fragments which the Author has rescued from the accumulating dust of past ages are here presented, in the hope that others more competent will be stimulated to similar exertions in the various departments above indicated. Two insuperable reasons prevent his undertaking the task himself—first, that it would prove overwhelming and impossible to one who can spare only an occasional hour for the purpose, while, if divided amongst many, the accomplishment would be easy; and secondly, that much of the work to be done—especially the examination of ancient ecclesiastical documents—requires far greater scholastic attainments and a more intimate knowledge of the middle ages than he possesses. "Divide and conquer" must be the motto, if the work is to be done.

Meanwhile it will be noted with satisfaction that every successive exploration into the past indicates more distinctly the decided progress we have made, and exposes the fallacy of the belief in the "good old times:"

"The good of ancient times let others state:
I think it fortunate we're born so late."

In the few sheets here collected, evidence is given of civil and religious strife, such as we are now happily exempt from; of coarse habits, and a reckless expenditure of public funds on gross sensuality; the primitive state of the highways and the miserable travelling consequent thereon; the infancy of science in almost every department, and the greater[Pg ix] prevalence of disease; superstition pervading all classes; women flogged in public, and the gaol a very specimen of barbarism; the poor hunted out of their cottages in every parish like wild beasts, and nearly all descriptions of trade fettered by absurd restrictions; nonconformity persecuted, and constitutional liberty, as we now understand the term, unknown. Nor were the manners and customs of our ancestors much more desirable than our own, although there was a greater heartiness in them and apparently a more general mixing of classes. When Parry was searching for the north-west passage, a boat was one day sent on shore, under charge of a petty officer, who received, besides the usual instructions to keep a look-out for anything remarkable, a printed form, on which, under the heads of "Manners," and "Customs," to record what he saw among the natives. In due time the boat returned to the ship, the man delivered in his report; and an extraordinary one it was for pith and brevity, running thus:

Manners Customs
None at all. Very beastly.

That the same report might have been truthfully applied even to English society in the last and preceding centuries the following pages prove, and still more conclusively might the charge have been brought home had the author felt himself justified in printing in extenso some of the documents he has consulted, especially among the county rolls.[Pg x] Let us, however, not quarrel with our predecessors, but rightfully appreciate the blessings of advanced civilization by endeavouring, each one in his limited sphere, to inculcate contentment with our lot and an earnest desire to assist in the great work of human progress, both physical and moral.

In conclusion, the Author begs to offer his warm thanks to the patrons of this book (individually named in the dedication), without whose kind promises of support the work would not have been published; to Sir T. E. Winnington, Bart., M.P., for the inspection of many interesting manuscripts; to the clergy and churchwardens of the city, for their courtesy in permitting the examination of the registers and other parish books; to Mr. Carrington, barrister-at-law, for several valuable contributions and highly prized literary assistance; to Mr. Lewis, of the County Clerk of the Peace's office, for the trouble he so willingly incurred in displacing and re-arranging the Sessions' rolls; and lastly, to the general body of subscribers, who have so numerously signified their intention to take copies.

[Pg xi]


Abberley, 161, 240, 255, 289.

Abberton, 207, 297.

Abbot's Lench, 253.

Abbot's Morton, 177.

Abington's Manuscripts, 144.

Acton family, 264, 267, 270, 293, 315.

Acton Beauchamp, 159, 173.

Affiliations, 20, 42, 54.

All Fools' Day, 210.

All Saints' parish, 60, 222, 227.

Alfrick, 157, 173, 200, 204, 249, 289, 316.

Alvechurch, 102, 109, 132, 241, 253, 256, 271, 316.

Anabaptists, 117.

Ancient Inns, 258.

Archaic words, 251.

Areley, 202, 294.

Ascension Day, 208.

Assize notices, 273.

Astley, 80, 166, 246, 261, 289, 295, 310, 312, 313.

Astwood, 189.

Babes of Bethlehem, 205.

Badging paupers, 19, 41, 63, 68.

[Pg xii]Badsey, 316.

Balls at Assizes, 279.

Baptisms, 176, 206.

Barneby family, 155.

Bearcroft family, 311, 315.

Bees, 179.

Belbroughton, 125, 182, 132, 254, 260, 310.

Bells, 17, 34, 47, 48, 52, 64, 177, 214, 240.

Beoley, 104, 126, 187, 132, 228, 253, 254, 316.

Berkeley family, 159, 160, 267, 293, 325.

Berrow, 253.

Besford, 234, 295.

Bewdley, 15, 75, 76, 100, 103, 125, 145, 150, 162, 173, 185, 198, 215, 232, 239, 245, 247, 253, 258, 264, 268, 301, 308, 318, 322, 328.

Birlingham, 125, 126, 315.

Birtsmorton, 203.

Bishampton, 101, 241, 272, 294, 314.

Bishop Skinner's Memoirs, 151.

Bishop Swinfield's Roll, 145.

Bishop Thornborough's monument, 287.

Black pear of Worcester, 228.

Blockley, 126, 272, 312, 315.

Bloody pond, 263.

Blount family, 120, 310.

Bockleton, 155, 315.

Brawling, 110, 118.

Bredicot, 297.

Bredon, 111, 126, 249, 256, 311, 313.

Bredon's Norton, 112.

Bretforton, 102, 199, 241.

Bricklehampton, 90, 316.

Bride ales, 218.

[Pg xiii]Bridges and highways, 130.

Broadheath, 64.

Broadwas, 208.

Broadway, 98, 238, 252, 266, 301, 312, 317.

Bromsgrove, 52, 65, 75, 84, 85, 100, 102, 106, 110, 113, 117, 124, 125, 198, 200, 132, 133, 235, 240, 260, 266, 268, 271, 289, 294, 296, 301, 305, 310, 312, 313, 316, 321.

Broughton Hackett, 203.

Burying in woollen, 26, 50.

Bushley, 295, 312.

Carriers, 101.

Cast-iron grave slabs, 231.

Castle Morton, 100, 129, 172, 290, 312.

Cathedral and precincts, 3, 9, 11, 12, 23, 25, 64, 96, 149, 152, 182, 196, 131, 142, 143, 206.

Catherning, 215.

Cattle market, old, 38.

Chaddesley, 106, 125, 126, 130, 182, 201, 217, 253, 255, 271, 290, 310, 312, 314.

Charlton family, 94.

Charms, 180.

Chaseley, 316.

Chimney money, 25, 28.

China trade, 254.

Christmas customs, 219.

Church and the people, 105.

Churchwardens of Worcester, 17, 26, 39, 45, 51, 56, 59, 62, 66, 69, 73.

Civil Wars, 10, 126, 318.

Claines, 70, 93, 271, 295, 311, 313.

Cleeve Prior, 316.

Clent, 196, 206, 240.

[Pg xiv]Clergy of seventeenth century, 108.

Clerks and sextons, 17, 259.

Clifton-on-Teme, 159, 161, 195, 137, 301.

Clothing trade, 305.

Club-men of Worcestershire, 324.

Cofton Hackett, 153, 132, 311.

Collins's fire, 60.

Comberton, 79, 127.

Communicants in 1548, 270.

Compositions to the king's household, 133.

Cookes family, 313.

Corn trade, 99.

Costume of the bar, 273.

Cotheridge, 229, 293, 315, 325.

Council of the Marches in Wales, 8, 15, 47.

County Sessions Records, 74 to 134.

Coventry family, 10, 18, 75, 87, 100, 122, 275.

Crabbing the parson, 206.

Crime, 82.

Cromwell pilloried, 229.

Cromwell's parliament, 292.

Cromwell's property tax, 264.

Croome, 75.

Cropthorne, 102.

Crowle, 188, 311.

Cuckolds, 84, 106.

Curfew, 214.

Cutnal Green, 181, 189.

Daylesford, 297.

Defford, 108.

Diary of Joyce Jeffries, 137.

Dineley family, 93, 135, 264, 310, 314, 323.

[Pg xv]Dineley Manuscript, 135.

Dissenting meeting-houses, 124.

Distemper in cattle, 51, 103.

Doddenham, 289.

Dodderhill, 57, 125, 253, 312.

Doddingtree Hundred 200 years ago, 154.

Dogs and cats, slaughter of, 317.

Doverdale, 102, 297.

Dowdeswell family, 87, 122, 310.

Dressing a parson in 1627, 9.

Drinking healths, 210.

Droitwich, 11, 108, 115, 146, 203, 208, 243, 271, 289, 290, 294, 297, 301, 305, 308, 312, 313, 317, 321.

Dr. Prattinton's papers, 232.

Dudley, 75, 91, 100, 114, 125, 126, 171, 184, 185, 204, 231, 240, 267, 301, 319, 329.

Dunclent, 127.

Easter tokens, 16.

Eastham, 158, 236.

Echoes, 289.

Eckington, 245.

Edvin Loach, 159, 297.

Eldersfield, 265, 272, 314, 316.

Elmbridge, 291, 295, 310.

Elmley Castle, 142, 234, 266, 289.

Elmley Lovett, 79, 290, 312.

Evesham, 15, 75, 102, 126, 147, 196, 208, 238, 239, 248, 264, 272, 288, 293, 294, 301, 302, 305, 308, 319.

Excommunications, 32, 105.

Feckenham, 41, 75, 105, 118, 132, 148, 201, 242, 255, 258, 259, 313, 314.

Fees of Clerk of Peace in 1753, 76.

[Pg xvi]Female scolds, 106.

Fifth monarchy men, 116.

Figures, introduction of, 13.

Fishermen of St. Peter's parish, 40.

Fladbury, 102, 180, 240, 289, 295, 314.

Floods, 67, 239.

Flyford Flavel, 207.

Foley family, 92, 159, 264.

Foresters of Feckenham, 148.

Four children at a birth, 296.

Frankley, 266, 316, 328.

Funeral customs, 208.

Gaols, 37, 85.

Garden and butter markets, 38.

Ghosts, 187.

Giants, 237.

Gloucester city gates, 258.

Good Friday, 178.

Grafton, 124, 126, 241.

Graveyard punning, 265.

Grimley, 294.

Guy Faulx, 209.

Halesowen, 125, 200, 218, 233, 241.

Hallow, 253, 313.

Hampton Lovett, 271.

Hanbury, 15, 57, 102, 124, 147, 295, 311, 313.

Hanley Childe and William, 158.

Hanley Castle, 100, 104, 254, 310.

Hartlebury, 75, 125, 142, 154, 175, 180, 205, 210, 211, 232, 246, 248.

Harvington, 148, 215, 219.

[Pg xvii]Heaving, 211.

Hemp and flax, 102.

Henry the Eighth's obsequies, 5.

Hermitages and caves, 246.

Himbleton, 125, 231, 234, 241, 253.

Hindlip, 23.

Holt, 189, 256, 293, 295.

Holy loaf, 233.

Honeybourne, 102, 238.

Hop cribbing, 222.

Hop-pole hotel, 35.

Hops, 228.

Hopton family, 322.

House of Industry, 38, 43.

Housling pence, or Sacrament money, 31.

Huddington, 188, 205.

Iccomb, 95.

Image, destruction of at Worcester, 285.

Incumbents of Worcester, 17, 26, 39, 45, 51, 56, 59, 62, 66, 69, 73.

Inkberrow, 78, 83, 125, 177, 132, 218, 253, 311, 315, 316, 321.

Javelin men, 281.

Jeffries' Manuscripts, 136.

Kempsey, 15, 131, 147, 245, 271.

Kidderminster, 3, 14, 75, 100, 103, 125, 127, 151, 184, 185, 201, 211, 217, 249, 264, 268, 271, 293, 302, 305, 308.

King Charles's coins, 228.

King Charles's staff, 236.

King's Norton, 96, 103, 104, 113, 132, 203, 210, 240, 254, 260, 265, 271, 283, 292, 294, 310, 313, 314, 316.

[Pg xviii]King's tax, 27, 234.

Kington, 4, 80.

Knighton, 156, 272.

Knights of the Royal Oak, 266.

Knightwick, 128, 142, 166, 200, 252, 326.

Knightwood, fines for not taking, 309.

Kyre, 158, 161.

Lechmere family, 104, 122, 264, 292.

Lee, Rev. Dr., 261.

Legends and traditions, 193.

Leigh, 95, 185, 188, 215, 235, 253, 272, 289, 312.

Lindridge, 112, 147, 149, 156, 157, 142, 294.

Littletons, 102, 315.

Longdon, 90, 220, 240, 259, 311, 312, 314.

Longevity, 255.

Love spells, 189.

Lulsley, 158, 200, 253.

Lygon family, 37, 87, 88, 121, 123, 184, 264, 267.

Lyttelton family, 266, 267, 286, 294.

Magistrates in 1483, 267.

Malvern, Great, 126, 133, 147, 171, 186, 195, 256, 264, 311, 313.

----, Little, 154.

Mamble and Bayton, 83, 165, 210, 255.

Manuscripts, county, 135.

Marine store dealers, 228.

Martin Hussingtree, 255.

Marriage custom, 208.

Marriages by Justices, 57.

Martley, 129, 160, 165, 252, 255, 257, 310, 313, 326.

Mathon, 169, 181, 253, 263.

May-poles, 112, 210.

[Pg xix]Memory, fine, 259.

Milward evidences, 230.

Morris dancing, 213.

Mortuary Cloth of Clothiers' Company, 305.

Moseley, 126, 265, 294, 317.

Mothering Sunday, 210.

Nash family, 37, 57, 119, 121, 123, 265, 310.

Naunton Beauchamp, 207.

Needle trade, 228.

New Year's customs, 221.

Nicknames, 218.

Nonconformity, 268.

Norbury family, 119, 120.

Northfield, 125, 132, 241, 253, 310.

Norton-juxta-Kempsey, 131.

Norton near Evesham, 205, 239.

Oddingley, 128, 202.

Offenham, 179, 210, 215, 253, 298, 313, 315.

Oil lamps first set up, 38, 41, 55.

Oldberrow, 297.

Oldbury, 116, 305, 313.

Old customs, 205.

Old family, 239.

Old sayings, 238.

Oldswinford, 80, 271.

Ombersley, 128, 266, 295, 310.

Organs at Cathedral, 152.

Orleton, 158.

Overbury, 262.

Oxford circuit, 275.

Pageant-house, 232.

[Pg xx]Pakington family, 71, 122, 130, 270, 294, 310.

Paper, early mention of, 284.

Papists, 31, 75, 112.

Pensax, 155, 165, 288.

Pensham, 315.

Peopleton, 270.

Perambulations, 13, 22, 29, 41, 51, 55, 64, 68, 72, 222.

Pershore, 125, 174, 179, 239, 245, 252, 265, 270, 271, 303, 310, 311, 314.

Pillory, 84, 230.

Plague, 132.

Plum-pudding and pancake bells, 215.

Plymouth, Earl of, 87, 93.

Poor, 89.

Population of Worcester parishes, 17, 26, 39, 45, 51, 56, 59, 62, 66, 69, 73.

Powick, 55, 64, 253, 289.

Primitive Cathedral customs, 206.

Printer, first at Worcester, 236.

Quakers, 36, 39, 53, 112, 114.

Queen Elizabeth, 292, 298.

Queries, 228.

Rats, old English, 284.

Records of the City of Worcester, 1 to 73.

Redditch, 132, 228.

Redmarley, 261, 272, 311, 312, 315, 316.

Reformation, 4.

Ribbesford, 75, 163, 165, 193, 272, 294, 315.

Ridley the martyr, 261.

Ringing for the parson, 205.

Ripple, 75, 237, 272, 289, 314.

[Pg xxi]Rock, 150, 161, 204, 255, 256, 257, 272, 312, 314.

Roundhead's description of Worcestershire, 249.

Rouselench, 235, 316.

Royalists compounding, 292.

Royal oak day, 209.

Rushock, 79, 102, 182, 314.

Rushout family, 87, 122.

Saddle silver, 66.

Saffron, 237.

Salt, 36, 101, 297.

Salwarpe, 57, 85, 187, 271, 282, 291, 295, 312.

Sandys family, 123, 266, 295.

Sapey, 159.

Sculptures on churches, 235.

Seabright family, 295.

Seal of Worcester, 284.

Sedgberrow, 289.

Severn Stoke, 2, 13, 15, 271, 294, 313.

Shelsley, 75, 137, 159, 160, 185, 187, 199, 253, 256, 297.

Ship money, 308.

Shipston, 77, 303, 322.

Shrawley, 80, 166, 180, 293, 311.

Small parishes, 296.

Social regulations, 97.

Somers, the great Lord, 1.

Spetchley, 126, 228.

St. Alban's, 56.

St. Andrew's, 45, 197.

St. Clement's, 66, 197, 225.

St. Helen's, 52.

St. John's, 61, 285, 294, 312, 313.

St. Martin's, 57.

[Pg xxii]St. Michael's, 1, 131, 295.

St. Nicholas, 26.

St. Peter's, 39, 131.

St. Swithin's, 17.

Stanford, 137, 142, 145, 154, 161, 204, 248, 252, 314.

Star and Garter hotel, 35.

Staunton, 314, 316.

Stewponey, 232.

Stockton, 165.

Stoke Prior, 102, 132, 180.

Stone, 240, 249, 293, 314.

Stourbridge, 75, 100, 103, 124, 125, 133, 161, 182, 186, 206, 218, 231, 232, 233, 240, 253, 271, 304.

Stourport, 289.

Stourton Castle, 127, 232, 328.

Strensham, 256, 294, 295, 314.

Suckley, 158, 173, 249, 272, 296, 310, 314, 316.

Sunday schools, 38.

Superstitions, 167.

Talbot family, 266, 282, 295.

Tardebigg, 102.

Tenbury, 75, 103, 125, 142, 147, 149, 158, 180, 200, 220, 237, 238, 239, 255, 256, 272, 304.

Tenure, 218.

Theatres, 132.

Tibberton, 203, 313.

Tobacco, 103, 242.

Touching for King's evil, 27, 181.

Townsend Manuscripts, 141.

Traces of the Stuarts, 318.

Tradesmen's tokens, 298.

Traveller's passport, 129.

[Pg xxiii]Tredington, 240, 312.

Trial by combat, 147.

Trumpeters at Assizes, 282.

Tything, 93.

Upton-on-Severn, 75, 85, 125, 130, 146, 270, 311, 313, 314.

Upton Snodsbury, 61, 245.

Upton Warren, 132, 253.

Vacarius' Roman law, 143.

Valentine's Day, 212.

Vernon family, 264, 295.

Versified will, 262.

Vineyards, 288.

Virtuous parish, 296.

Wages of Magistrates, 291.

Waits, 213.

Wake at Claines, 72.

Ward, Lord, 87.

Watchman, the last, 38.

Weather rhymes and sayings, 306.

Welland, 57, 126.

Whipping, 84.

Whitbourne, 128.

White Ladies, 212, 256.

Whitsun farthings, 14, 23, 56, 65, 69.

Whoop custom, 217.

Wichbold, 312, 313.

Wichenford, 295, 315.

Wick, 207.

Winnington family, 87, 123, 137.

Witchcraft, 78, 183, 142.

Witley, 75, 125, 160.

Wolverley, 142, 201, 259, 311, 325.

Yardley, 313, 314, 316.

[Pg xxiv]
[Pg 1]


St. Michael's.

The register of this parish commences with the year 1546, but as the entries for about half a century are apparently in the same handwriting, it is probable that in or soon after the year 1597, when an order was issued that all parochial registers should be transcribed on vellum, an older register of St. Michael's was copied on that now existing. It is on vellum and in excellent preservation—which probably will not be said some two or three centuries hence respecting the common and perishable paper registers now in use by Government authority. The first entry which attracted my attention in this register was—

"1648.—John Somers, gent., and Katherine, the daughter of John Seaverne, gent., and Mary his wife, were married Nov. 13."

And among the births are the following:

"1650.—John the sonne of John Somers, gent., and Katherine his wife, was born the fourth day of March."

"1653.—Mary, daughter of John Somers, gent., and Katherine his wife, was born 15th Oct."

[Pg 2]

"1655.—Katherine, daughter of John Somers, gent., and Katherine his wife, born 7th April."

Here, then, are the means of deciding a fact which has long been the subject of dispute. Mr. Cooksey, in his "Life of Lord Somers," asserts that he was born at the White Ladies; but Dr. Nash mentions the tradition that the famous Lord was born in the College Churchyard, in a house since pulled down, adjoining the south side of the old church of St. Michael; "but as during the Civil Wars (says that veracious and painstaking chronicler, Chambers) the registers were discontinued, or very irregularly kept, though the Doctor diligently searched, his birth could not be found, either in the parishes of Severn Stoke, St. Michael, St. Helen, St. Peter, or the Tything." The "diligence" of the Doctor's search must now be a matter of doubt, as the four entries copied above are not only easily observed, but are somewhat prominent. The "John Somers, gent.," whose marriage with Katherine Seaverne is recorded in 1648, was unquestionably the attorney who resided for some time at the White Ladies, and afterwards within the Cathedral precincts; and their first-born, who was introduced to the world on the 4th of March, 1650, was afterwards the celebrated nobleman who became the head of the Whigs and Lord High Chancellor of England—whose eloquence, knowledge of the law, inflexible integrity, and great capacity for public business, made him an ornament to his country—and whose defence of the seven bishops, in opposition to the tyranny of James II, entitles him to a place in the foremost rank of the defenders of our constitutional liberty. The death of his parents is not entered in St. Michael's register, as they both died and were buried at Severn Stoke. Lord Somers himself was buried in Hertfordshire.

The period of the Civil Wars is distinguished by blank pages,[Pg 3] but regularity again commences in 1660. The burial of "Sir Gilbert Jerrard, governor of Woster," is recorded on the 20th of January, 1644; and that of John Cox, master of the College school, on the 30th Dec., 1663. The prisoners and debtors who died in the Castle (the old prison stood on the site of the Castle, near the Cathedral, now converted into gardens) were buried at St. Michael's. It appears likewise that St. Michael's was considered the parish church for the whole of the College precincts, and that if any marriages were performed at the Cathedral, they were duly entered in St. Michael's register, and the incumbent of course received the fees.

"Mr. Richard Smith, minister, and Mrs. Anne Foulks, were marryed in ye Cathedrall on ye 13 day Feby., 1676."

"Jonathan Dixon of Kidderminster and Mary Henzey of this parish were married at the College by me, Oct. 7, 1737, by license. Thomas Smith."

An archdeacon was also married in the chapel of the Bishop's Palace at Worcester, and an entry in this register duly records the fact. Marriages were solemnized here between persons belonging to almost every town or place in the county, and entries of those occurrences are more numerous than in any other register of the city. The list of marriages closes with this note:

"See a marriage register book from the year 1754, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament passed in the 26th year of King George III, which restriction commences from the 25th March, 1754."

In the birth department the children of dissenters were for some years put under a separate head, and specified as such, and there are frequent records of "children left," and "children picked up" in the parish. Lastly, there is mention made of Henry Humphreys having, by will in 1729, left £4 yearly to the incumbent of St. Michael's and £1 to the clerk,[Pg 4] on condition they take care that his grave shall not be opened or touched except for the burial of his wife. This money was payable out of "a freehold messuage or tenement, lands, and premises in the parish of Kington, Worcestershire;" but the bequest has long been lost sight of and the estate is not known; there is, however, no doubt that the identification of the estate might be readily made out if its present owners were inclined to do justice to the claims of the church. Perhaps a former owner compounded with the then incumbent for a sum of money or other consideration.

By far the most interesting and valuable of all the parochial records in the city are those of St. Michael's, the oldest account book going back to the year 1543, and, with the exception of from 1611 to 1640, which years are omitted, the records come up to the present century. As these books take us back to a period before the completion of the Reformation, they contain evidence of religious ceremony and social custom which entitle them to the first place in this work. Among the ceremonials of the unreformed Church, the most conspicuous was that at Easter, when the Resurrection was represented. For this purpose a tomb or sepulchre was arranged in the chancel (a recess still to be seen in the chancel wall of most old churches), in which the effigy of the Saviour was laid, and watched day and night by persons appointed for the purpose, as well as by religious devotees, till it was raised out of the tomb on the morning of Easter Sunday, when the previous darkness in the church suddenly ceased, and a flood of light, together with the richest music, incense, and every sign of rejoicing, celebrated the event. In St. Michael's church, the clerk was paid 2d. (worth 2s. 6d. now) for watching on Easter eve, and also was presented with a pair of gloves. "Tacketts (small nails), pynnes, and thrydde, to dresse the sepulchre," were charged 2d., and 4d. for the labour of dressing, great pains[Pg 5] having evidently been taken. Arras tapestry hangings or curtains were provided for the tomb, large wax lights and flowers were arranged on the altars (of which there were three in St. Michael's church), and the rood, which was a carved representation of the Crucifixion, elevated on the chancel arch, was also splendidly lit up and decorated with flowers, as were the niches containing figures of the saints. Oil, frankincense, and robes, are charged for in the accounts, the lighting of the rood and sepulchre amounting to as much as 7s. 1d.; for making 25 lbs. of wax, 12d., and for flowers for the tapers and rood light, 2d. A taper was also fixed over the font. The celebration of this festival did not terminate with the church, as the wardens on the same day (Easter Sunday, 1543) spent the sum of 3d. at the tavern. There is likewise an entry of 2d. paid for "nayles and pynnes for the sepulter on Palme Sunday, and wyer for the curteynes for the sepulter at Ester." The following obsequies were observed at St. Michael's church on the death of Henry VIII:

"At the kyngs highnes dirige and masse.

Item for fyve tapers xd.
Item a masse id.
Item for mendynge of the bere and herse iid.
Item for the colourynge of two wodden canstycks blacke iid.
Item for brede and ale for the ryngers then ivd.
Item for ryngynge vid.
Item for two papers of the kyngs armes to set on the kyngs herse iiid."

The progress of the Reformation during the reign of Edward VI is distinctly marked in these records, by the mode in which the churchwardens were compelled to set their house in order. A man named John Davyes was employed to "hewe downe the seates of the images in the church and to whytelyme it," for which he received 15d.; "an ares cov'yng[Pg 6] (arras covering) wh. was used at the sepulter" was sold to Mr. Bland for 6s. 8d.; the lamp and censer, weighing 20 lb., for 4s.; "two standerdes of brasse, two cansticks, and a tynacle of brasse for holly (holy) water, weying 3 lb.," 14s.; "a coppe crosst," (the priest's cope, with a cross on it) 2s.; a platter, 18d.; "a holy water pott of led, and certein organne pypes of led, weying half C. and 12 lb.," 2s. 10d.; for "13 lb. of pewter of organne pypes and shelles for tapers, at 2d. a lb.," 2s. 2d.; two small bells were sold for 9d.; the top of the pulpit went for 2s., and the foot for 2d.; the organs, the "fayle and old clothes to cover the saynts," the tables that stood on each of the altars, the "trymmer" of the high altar, the altars themselves, and all the other appointments, disappeared like useless lumber. Two inventories of the church goods were written out for the commissioners, and the churchwardens and their friends made merry on the occasion at the tavern. Instead of the gorgeous altars, two "frames," or trestles (or "oyster boards," as the Bishop of Exeter would term them), were provided for the Lord's Supper; and in lieu of carved saints and mural emblazonments, a man was engaged to "write the Scriptures and paint the church at 2d. the yard," on those parts of it, at least, where the whitewasher's brush had not taken the precedence. In the fifth year of King Edward, the old churchwardens handed over to the new ones the church goods, of which the following is an inventory:

"A chalice, two pattens, the cover of a pyx, foot of a silver cross, a crucifix that was on the cover of the pyx, a little silver bowl, the little bowl of the pyx that the crucifix stood on, six pieces of silver and gylte, and a little image of St. Michael of silver gylt, a little bell without a clapp., two brasen canstycks, two painted clothes, a pawle of silk, two sirplices for children, two aubs (albs), a table cloth, five towels, the parson's sirplice and the clarks sirplice, a course pawle, and bere cloth."

[Pg 7]

Under the reign of Mary, old customs were partly revived, as charges were again made for the pascal taper, wax, frankincense, and charcoal in Lent; Mr. Blunt's man was remunerated "for his paines when he sett the cross and the rest of the stuffe;" Father Charlemayne was paid 6d. for mending the crysmatory; 7d. was charged for chains for the censer; "Raffe Pynner" mended the pyx; and apparently the high altar was reinstated, for after the death of her Majesty, 6d. was paid for taking down the altar, and 3s. "for paving the place and making clean of it." The parish went to but small expense in solemnising Queen Mary's death, 9d. only having been spent "for quene majesty's obit." The Paraphrases of Erasmus had been previously purchased at a cost of 11s., and, with a Bible in English, chained to a lectern. The rood loft was now pulled down, and sold as old timber for 3s. This was in 1561, at which time another inventory of the church goods was furnished, as follows:

"A processional, the portuas in two parts for the whole year, a missal, a manual, a book for christening and burying, a pall lyned, and a old pall onlyned, an old vestment of silk, a front of an alter of red and white satten, with flourdelich (fleur de lis), two albes, two surplices for childern, a little pillow of green, two towels with blew thredd, a bible, a book of comon ——, six stoles for the neck and arm, a book of the paraphrasis, two parelles for albes, a lamp, and certaine pieces of an old lamp, two iron roddes with stockynns upon them, and two curteins of red and yellow, the pastall tapur and eight endes of other tapurs, the sepultre without a hedd, a cross cloth of green silk, a corp —— case, a chalis and patten, two table cloths, two surplises for men, one old cloth to cover the com'n bord."

A "cupp and pott for the com'n bord" was purchased in 1566 at a cost of 3s., and 6d. for the carriage of it from London. The "frame where our little bell hanged"—probably the sanctus bell—was taken down in 1580. Fifteen years[Pg 8] later, Nicholas Archbold, the churchwarden, chargeth himself with 7s. 9d. "received from Fowlke Broughton for the old bible of the church, and also with 12d., which this accountant, before the sale thereof, received of one Mr. Morrys, a relator to the Council in the Marches of Wales, in earnest of the said bible, which 12d. was forfeited by him, for that he fetcht not the book as he p'mised." Mr. Morris, no doubt, was more punctual in his subsequent dealings with churchwardens. The old communion book was also disposed of for 3s. 4d.; but "a newe fayer Englishe bible of the last translacon authorised in the church" was purchased for 16s., and a new communion book for 6s. 8d.

Sittings in the church were paid for yearly, at the rate of from 4d. to 6d. each. In 1567, a Mr. Doctor gave 5s. for a seat "which the parishioners promised should remain to his house for ever." Also, in the same year, "received of Mrs. Bland for the seat that her husband paid for her frendes to knele in, 12d.;" and the keeper of the Castle (then the county gaol) paid the like sum for himself and wife. A Mr. Richard Jones was paid 3s. 4d. for preaching two sermons on Palm Sunday in the year 1624; but the usual mode of paying ministers who did not belong to the parish when they preached was by treating them with a quart of sack, claret, or other wine. The Bishop sometimes preached here; and on one occasion the vestry treated his lordship to a rundlett of sack, costing £1. 10s. 10d., besides a quart of sack and a quart of white wine—the rundlett probably for the use of the numerous suite which bishops in those days always brought in their train, and the other for his lordship's own dinner table on the day that he honoured St. Michael's pulpit. On the same occasion a silk girdle, costing 8s., was given to Mr. Parr, one of the Bishop's chaplains, for preaching twice. The number of needy and itinerant preachers in the seven[Pg 9]teenth century must have been considerable, judging from the frequent relief allowed them. Probably one of these is referred to in the following curious entry:

"Given to one that come with Tres patents out of Turkie, that had bin long in prison for the maintenance of the ghospel, vid."

Muscadell was used for the communion wine. At Christmas the church was decked with rosemary and bays, sometimes with ivy and holly. A curious illustration of the poorness of the living occurs in these books. It seems that about the year 1551, the living, which was a peculiar, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter, lapsed to the Crown, and has so continued ever since, it not being worth while to pay the expense of the seals, &c., on account of the smallness of the rectory. The custom, therefore, was for the parishioners to make a present of 40s. annually to the parson—a sum equivalent to £20 of present money. In addition to which, in the year 1627, their benevolence expanded into the donation of a suit of clothes to his reverence, Mr. Hoskins. For this purpose they purchased, "by general consent," five yards of "russett kersey," three yards of white cotton, half an ell of "russett bayes," an ell and quarter of linen cloth, three dozen buttons, and silk, also a sheepskin to make him pockets; all of which, including the making, cost £1. 5s. A yearly pension was also paid by the church of Worcester (the Cathedral) to one Roger Follyott, for the use of the parson of St. Michael's, but about the year 1590 the said Roger fell into arrears; a great controversy arose, which was settled by the Dean ordering him to pay 50s. to the churchwardens. Much care seems to have been taken of the parish records, and in 1630 a memorandum specifies that "the church and parish evidences and writings were removed forth of the old chest, and brought and put into the new frame of cubbords or boxes by the feoffees of the lands belonging to the[Pg 10] church and parish, and by the churchwardens and divers others of the ancient and better rank of the parish, on Sunday, Nov. 5," and five keys were distributed amongst them with abundant precaution. The period was approaching in which all their care and solicitude were necessary. The first indication of the troublous period of the Civil Wars was the outlay of 12d. for a book of "prayers for the Parliament for a fast." Then, in 1642 (the year of the siege of Worcester), on the 24th of September, being the day when the Earl of Essex took possession of the city, after defeating the Princes Rupert and Maurice, and driving them, together with Lord Coventry, Sir William Russell, and their forces, over the bridge towards Herefordshire, a general pillage ensued, but the churchwardens of St. Michael's apparently compromised the matter by "giving to captains and soldiers for preserving our church goods and writings," 10s. 4d. Widow Ward's chimney, however, was broken down by the soldiers, and its reparation cost 12d.

The "coming of the princes" had been welcomed by a plentiful ringing of the bells of St. Michael's, but "Colonel Essex" was treated to a pottle of white wine and sugar at the Talbot. The jumbling together of incidents at this period is amusing, for about the same time the sum of half-a-crown was spent upon a Mr. Hackett, "in wine, beare, and tobacko, he reading prayers and preaching with us;" also 17s. "for a musket and bandeleer for the parish use, by command of the Governor and Commissioners, remaining with Abraham Pilkington, trained souldier for the parish." Providing one soldier seems to have been the fixed requirement for this parish, as in 1560 a charge of 3s. 2d. was made "for settyng forthe of a man in the warres to Berwick." The second siege of Worcester was in 1646, but the only allusion to military matters in that year are the donations of 5s. to "a soldier's wife delivered of a child in the Dark Alley, her[Pg 11] husband having gone from her;" and 6d. "given in charity to one goodwife Packman, a very pore woman, whose husband was killed at Stowe fight, and she beinge at old Gyles his house in the Colledge, and in great miserie, was recommended by Mr. Moore, one of the committee." The year 1651, when Cromwell's crowning victory put the loyal city of Worcester to so much trouble, left numerous traces of the event in the books of this parish. After an inventory of the church plate and furniture then in their possession, the churchwardens say that "All the rest of the parish goods were plundered by Generall Cromwell's souldiers after the routinge of the Scotish army at Worcester ye 4th September last, viz., one flaggon, a pewter pott of three pints, one carpet of stript stuffe, half silk, being the gift of Richard Wannerton, one fayre carpet of branched green velvet, frindged about with deep green frindge, being the gift of Nicholas Archbold, gent., one holland table cloth for the comm'n table, one covering of fine holland to lay over the cushion upon the com'n table, with buttons at the four corners thereof, one table napkin of holland for the com'n board, two old velvet cushions." It seems that shortly after this sanguinary struggle, a County Session was held at Droitwich, and the sum of £500 was granted for the relief of the poor of Worcester, so much impoverished in the war. St. Michael's churchwardens acknowledge receiving the tenth part of this sum; and at the same time there was also laid out the sum of £2. 9s. 4d. "for buryall of the Scots that were slain and dyed in our parish, the Pallace, the Colledge, the Colledge Green, Castle Hill, and ye precincts of the said several places, and of divers others that were brought out of ye citty of Worcester and layd in the churchyard." From this interesting entry it is evident that large numbers of the combatants in those eventful days are resting beneath the sod of St. Michael's churchyard—

[Pg 12]

"Their bodies dust—their good swords rust—
Their souls are with the saints, we trust."

Just a century later it was ordered that for all bodies buried in the church the sum of one guinea should be paid, and a brick arch turned "to avoid the offensive smells which the inhabitants too often have been annoyed with;" and in October, 1767, appears the following:

"Ordered, that whereas it appears to us that the sextons of the College having unjustly received for many years past 20s. for the use of the Rev. the Dean and Chapter, and 8s. for their trouble in receiving the same, making in the whole £1. 3s., for every person buryed in the said parish churchyard, not being a parishioner, besides tacking of horses, and tolerating pedlars and other strollers to sell their ware thereon, as also in the passage leading unto the High Street, to the great detriment of the parish and a nuisance to the community in general, ordered that the officers of the said parish do set forth their grievances to the Rev. Dean and Chapter, and humbly request their assistance towards fencing the said churchyard in a decent manner, the said parishioners having been at large expense in repairing and beautifying the parish church, and a numerous poor rendering them incapable of doing the whole."

About a century ago the parsonage house was ordered to be excused from all manner of payments, upon consideration of the minister preaching a sermon on Good Friday yearly; part of this parsonage house was called "the coffee-house," and was probably used for that purpose. An annual guinea was paid to the clerk "for singing a psalm every Sunday between the two services;" the same amount to Mr. Staples to act as parish attorney to give his advice at any time; Mrs. Mary Linton was allowed "to have the sole use of the gallery of the church in her time, to take her scool there, on condition that she be at the expense of a new staircase to the gallery;" and "ordered, that the parish pump be locked down, and not to be used (except in case of fire) without the parishioners who[Pg 13] make use of it will contribute towards the late expense of the said pump."

This brings us to the subject of parochial expenditure. The first year that figures are introduced into the accounts (and then only for the dates) was in 1557; small numerals were used in carrying out the sums of the items until the year 1644, when figures regularly superseded them. The churchwardens and their friends met and drank together on Easter Day, chiefly at the Talbot, when new churchwardens were chosen, also at the visitation, at "beating the parish bounds," going to inspect the parish property at Clifton, Severn Stoke, and on many other occasions. In 1624, on account of the perambulation, the church was dressed with boughs and rushes, by the clerk, at a charge of 4d., and the sum of 5s. 8d. was spent at the Talbot; the prisoners of the county gaol received 6d. wherewith to forget their sorrows for a time, bread was given to the poor, money to the ringers (there were three bells and a "tinking bell" at that time); and 8d. was "paid to a bottman for carrienge by water the minister and other of ye p'ishe when they went the p'ambulacon round by the Castle Hill and B'pp's Pallace." The poor had grown so numerous and burdensome by the year 1701, that an order was made for no officer to spend money on any of these public occasions; but the lust of the flesh soon reassumed its ancient sway, for in the succeeding year a meeting of twenty of the parishioners, including most of those who had been so considerate for the parochial purse, ordered that the old custom of spending £1 at the perambulation and election of officers should be revived. Many other subsequent efforts at economy were made, but without any permanent effect; and in 1778 I find that no less than £5 for processioning and 18s. for cakes, besides other sums for various parish meetings, were allowed. The total receipts of the parish in 1657 were £56. 4s. 3d., and the[Pg 14] disbursements £55. 2s. 9d., but of the balance in hand the accountant observes—"in which money there was a leaden shilling which had long been in the parish stock, and was now broken to pieces by consent of ye parishioners." The Whitsun farthings paid by the officials from the beginning of these records regularly amounted to 5d. per annum. For an explanation of this item, as also for hoseling or houseling money, which was regularly paid, see some of the following chapters.

It would seem that the poor were cared for as well as the imperfect arrangements of those days permitted. Minute details are given of the "rigging out" of parish apprentices. In 1623, Gervase and William Johnes, two pauper lads, were put out, the former to Thomas Fletcher, who received £1. 6s. with him; and the latter to William Spender, who had £1. 10s.; in one case the indentures cost 4s., in the other 1s. The two suits of apparel given to the lads were made of 8 yards of Kidderminster stuff at 14d., 2 ells canvas to line their doublets, 2 ditto for their hosen, an ell straight lining, buttons and thread, 6 yards cotton at 7d. for their hosen, 1½ dozen points 3d. (Query, what were these?) 6¾ ells "huswife's cloth to make fower shirts" 6s. 9d., making 12d., washing old shirts 2d., making 2 doublets and 2 pair of hozen 5s., 2 pair of stockings 2s., 2 bands 1s., 2 hats 4s., 2 pair shoes 2s. 6d. One Stanton, a waggoner, was paid 7s. in August, 1635, to carry a boy to London, and 2s. more "to let the sister of the boy ride sometimes who went along with him." On the carrier's return he was allowed 4d., "disbursed by him for victuals." Cider was given to Mary Lench, a poor parishioner, in 1722, "to take two doses of physic in for the jaundice, and 6d. to let her blood;" and subsequently, 6d. "to buy alicampane powder and two leeches for her distemper." Mr. Sergeant Groves was likewise treated to a shilling's worth of cider in 1707, "when he was pleased to give his advice for the parish." In[Pg 15] 1726, "given to a pore widow near ye Palace, to buy a pair of specktacles to see to work," 6d.; and "a pair of pumps for the foundling" was on two or three occasions charged for, at 10d. each. Did this term denote thin, light shoes? The sum of £5 was received by St. Michael's officers every Christmas during the life of the good Bishop Hough, being their share of £100 annually devoted by his lordship to the poor of this city. There was beside a liberal amount of charitable bequests from property left by benevolent persons, and many small sums to be lent for the benefit of young beginners in trade. The parish possessed houses in St. Peter's and St. Helen's; lands at Hanbury; Beanhall Farm, Kempsey; a small estate at Clifton, in the parish of Severn Stoke, and some other property. The churchwardens also regularly received a small payment "for the Talbot passage," which was probably for a right of way to the Talbot inn, there being a house belonging to the parish close by the top of the Talbot entry. Considerable litigation occurred at various periods with reference to the parochial possessions, especially those at Severn Stoke. The churchwardens had occasionally to ride to Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Bewdley, and Shrewsbury, where the Council of the Marches sat, to obtain judgment in their suits, one of which had reference to the sale of some trees by the churchwardens. More on the subject of the jurisdiction of that Council will be found in the chapter on St. Andrew's. The following looks like a case of grave suspicion, in reference to a period when the character of judges was not like that of Cæsar's wife, and when juries of "honest and true" men did not disdain a "refresher." Robert Walker, the churchwarden in 1573, hands in a "reckoning" thus:

"Paid at Evesham Assizes.

In p'mis, for the juries dinner. ixs. vid.
To John Wiche, for attending upon the jury. ivd.
For m'gment (probably "management") of the p'vie (privy) verdict. xiis.
To the judge for the same. vis. viiid.
To the baylye Button for watching the jury. iis."
[Pg 16]

The clerk of the assize, the crier, and others, also had their fees on the occasion.

Besides the regular yearly income of the parish, it appears that lands were left at Synglebarrow, in the parish of Great Horwood, Buckingham, out of which a small payment was made (probably in rotation) to the Corporations of Worcester, Winchester, and Reading, the towns of Calne and Aylesbury, and the parishes of St. Michael and Great Horwood.

In 1779, the citizens being about to petition Parliament to increase the powers under their act for supplying the city with water, paving the streets, &c., and having proposed to extend the said act to the parish of St. Michael, in order to avoid union with the city in the said act, which it was apprehended might prove injurious to them, the several proprietors of lands and houses situate next the city engaged voluntarily to remove obstructions, and to pave their soils from St. Mary's Steps to the College Gates, at their several costs, and a committee was appointed to direct the execution thereof.

The only other entries remaining to be noticed are the following curious ones:

1548.—"Paid Robert Browne for a jack, two s——, and a byll. ixs.
Paid for another jack to the tayler at Knowle End. vs. ivd."

Was this "jack" one of those stuffed figures formerly carried about in processions, like the "Jack-o'-Lent," &c.?

1559.—"For ledd, and making of tokens at Easter vid."

What these tokens were required for at Easter I cannot ascertain, but suppose them to have been for some religious[Pg 17] purpose. Tokens for change do not occur before the time of Charles I, and they were made by tradesmen, not parishes, and had nothing to do with Easter.

In the year 1660, John Martin, bell founder, was employed in "casting and hanging the second bell." This was at the Worcester foundry, which was in operation a few years only, which is still called "Bellfounders' Yard," Silver Street. Lastly, in 1769, one of the vestry meetings was attended (or at least the minutes are signed by) seven women and seven men. This introduction of the feminine element, however, seems to have been a very rare exception to the rule in those days.

The present rector of St. Michael's is the Rev. George St. John; churchwardens, Mr. Henry Bennett and Mr. Curtis. Population in 1851, 483. The office of clerk has been in the family of Bond for nearly a century; and the records state that, in 1763, Nathaniel Bond (an ancestor of the present clerk, Mr. Capel Bond) was appointed clerk and sexton, at a salary of £4 a year and fees.

St. Swithin's.

This register commences with the year 1538, but it is obvious from the fact of the items for three quarters of a century being in the same handwriting and the same ink, that it was copied from an older one, for the same reason as in the case of St. Michael's register, before-mentioned. During the Civil Wars there are fewer entries of marriages than usual, but no other feature of interest presents itself.

[Pg 18]

The churchwardens' account book begins in 1673, and contains much that is noteworthy. In those days the churchwardens seem to have been the regular factotums of the parish. They received from the Mayor, at Midsummer and Christmas, the benefaction known as Lord Coventry's money, and distributed to nine poor persons, whose names are entered in the book, at the rate of 3s. 4d. each; and there is a longer list of those who received charity on St. Thomas's Day. Irish vagrants greatly infested the city, and drew largely on the parochial funds; maimed and disabled soldiers and sailors, and numbers of distressed persons who had seen better days, or who had been "ruinated by fire," constantly appealed to the popular benevolence.

"To a distressed gentlewoman and her company, 14 in all, 2s."

"To 16 Englishmen that were taken by the Dutch and got on land ageine, 2s."

The regular poor seem to have been treated pretty liberally. Pauper children were taught to read:

"For hornbook and primmer for Jenkins' girle to learn to read, 6d."

"To a woman for curing a foundling boy of a broken belly, 10s."

Midwives and "gossips" were paid by the churchwardens, and at the christening the parson received 1s., the clerk 6d., and registration 4d. Minute details of expenses incurred for individual paupers are amusing enough:

"Paid Goodman Dooding for dressing of Mary Leonard's legg, and to buy salve by consent of the parish, 5s."

"Paid Mr. Hill for cloth and thred for two shirts for old Panting, he being full of vermin, 5s. 9-1/2d.; and for making, 8d."

Indications are apparent of the great severity of the small-pox at the close of the seventeenth century, and the physicking[Pg 19] for this and other diseases was considerable: a mixture was charged 1s. 6d., a bolus 10d., a "vomitt" and a bottle of syrup 8d., a "cordiall draught" 14d., "a mass of pils" 3s., a glass of tincture 1s., and a "Hipnott (?) mixture" 1s.

"Paid Ald. Tyas' bill for medicines to Mr. Blackwell and Joan Harris' legg wch was cutt off 11th Nov. (1698), broke by Mrs. Hammons' cart, for subsistence in her distress for 20 weeks and her mother-in-law to keep her, £1. 10s."

"Paid Mr. Blackwell and Mr. Sambach for cutting off the leg and curing it, £4."

"For wooden leg for Joan Harris, 3s. 10d."

A charge of 2s. is made on several occasions for "a Spanish bag" for pauper women. Can any of my medical or other readers suggest a solution of this?

One "Jones of St. John's" is commemorated as the recipient of various supplies of "strong waters," but what the following entries mean is not very clear:

"Given to Jones of St. John's to buy her husband 2 galls of strong waters and send him abroad that he may not be too chargeable, 6s."

"For a gall. of strong waters to send Jones of St. John's away to save him from arrest, 3s. 4d."

Nor were the poor forgotten in their deaths: charges were regularly made for "rosemary and bayes" to put on corpses, and in one instance the churchwardens paid for the deceased pauper "an alehouse scoare for her 4d., for a plaster for her 2d., and for the old woman that layd her out 4d." In the year 1697 a charge of 8d. was made "for an act of Parliament for badging the poor," which was a copy of a statute for distinguishing paupers by fixing a badge on their clothes. Probably mendicancy was becoming a serious charge, and the legislators of the day thought to reduce it by rendering the recipients of charity as conspicuous as possible. The act of[Pg 20] Parliament which directed that every pauper should wear a badge was the statute 8th and 9th of William III, chap. 30, sec. 2; it was passed in the year 1697. It was not at all observed for many years previous to its repeal, which was in the year 1810, by the statute 50th of George III, chap. 52. The badge contained a large Roman "P" (for poor) and the initial letter of the parish to which the pauper belonged. Great exertions were made by the parochial authorities to shift off the burden of pauperism from their own shoulders to other parishes, especially in cases of illegitimate offspring. It is said that whenever the plague prevails in the East, the afflicted sons of Islam beseech Heaven to relieve their locality and send the scourge to the next town. Our own parish registers prove that Christians share the same feelings in common. Here are instances:

"Given to Ann Hector, she being ready to cry out for a midwife, and to lodge her in St. Martin's parish, 2s."

"Paid Fabian Lancett's wife and another woman for watching a woman a night and a day for fear the woman should lye in our parish, 2s. 6d."

"Paid for a lycence to marry Mary Paine (she being big with child) to Sam. Sarles, to prevent more charge to the parish, £1. 1s. 4d."

"Paid for licence for ye marriage of Widow Holmes, £1. 1s. 4d.

"Ale when the match was made, 1s. 6d.

"Gave them to buy necessaries, 2s."

Money was likewise paid to women, as a bribe, to divulge where their illegitimate offspring were born; and one William Pennell seems to have had the task assigned to him of hunting up this class of ladies and escorting them out of the parochial bounds, while Ann Williams enjoyed the not more enviable vocation of "begging clouts" for the unfortunate youngsters. A fellow named Hackluitt, in the year 1680, transgressed the rules of chastity with "ye maid at ye White Heart," and the[Pg 21] result was the birth of a boy; but the father had then fled, and the churchwardens were in great consternation at the probability of this illegitimate burden. A considerable number of items are entered in the books of sums spent upon the inquiry after the vagrant sinner and for maintaining his child. At length he was discovered, and negotiation was then resorted to, the putative father, apparently under the influence of drink, acceding to the "points" proposed as the basis.

"Spent at White Heart when he agreed to take away his child, 4d."

But in 1682 this heartless Don Juan had again abandoned his offspring, and another personage appears on the scene:

"Spent in discoursing with old Hackluitt about his sonne's child left in this parish, 2s. 4d."

A considerable expenditure followed, for "whittles and other necessaries" for the child; but as Hackluitt senior does not seem to have seconded the proposition that he should pay for his son's delinquencies, the churchwardens apparently became tired of the onus, and at last—

"Paid to a poor woman for carrying him out of town, 1s."

How the wretched brat was really disposed of does not appear in this rather mysterious record. There was probably a poorhouse or lying-in hospital at the Cross, as various memoranda are made of women being "delivered at the Cross." Was this at the old workhouse at the site of the present Hop Market? There is also one instance of

"Paid to a woman and her husband that lay in at the widow Winn's, 1s."

The love of feasting at the public expense is as apparent in this churchwardens' book, though on a small scale, as in the old corporation archives, which I have already published.[Pg 22] A dinner was always provided to commemorate the election of the churchwardens. When Mr. Thomas Shewring and Mr. Thomas Elcox were appointed, in 1673, the following provision was made:

"A crop of beefe, wtt, 47 lb., att 2-1/2d., &c., 10s. 3d.

"Two quarters veale, 9s. 10d.

"A dozen piggeons, 18d.

"Butter, flour, making, and baking, altogether, 4s. 9-1/2d.

"9 lb. baccon of the ribbs at 5d., 3s. 9d.

"Mr. Ferryman for tobacco, 3d.

"Mr. Thomas Vicaris for bread, beare, pipes, tobacco, and all other materials, and to cleane the house, and for dressing the dinner, £1."

A quarter of lamb was 1s. 10d.; 5 lb. of candles for ye parish lanthorn, 9d.; two fat pigs, 5s.; a leg of mutton, 1s. 8d.; capers, 4d.; orange and lemon, 4d.; and a soft cheese (probably cream cheese) is charged 1s. in 1691; 2 lb. "candles to burn by ye church side winter nights," 8d.; and "four tunnes and a halfe of coles att 6s. 4d. pr tunn," £1. 8s. 6d. Dinners or drinking bouts, or both, were given on procession days, visitation days, and at "the assessing the rolls"—that is, when the poor-rate (if so it might be called) was assessed on the parishioners. The "processions" probably were the same as the perambulations, or "beating the bounds," the churchwardens apparently taking a personal survey of the parish boundaries once a year, in the month of May, and immense preparations were made for that purpose, including (in 1674) half a gross of pipes, 6d.; half a pound tobacco, 10d.; and "paid for ale before our own was tapped," 4d. Each parish in those days kept its own "church ales." Charges are made for dozens of "white poyntes for the boyes" in these perambulation accounts. Were these wands, or what else? The perambulating party generally wound up the day at the Globe, where they dined.

[Pg 23]

Rentals accruing to the parish in 1695 amounted to £74. 18s. 7d., which included £2. 3s. a year for the "oatmeal market" (Mealcheapen Street), also the rents of the Pheasant, the "baccon market," and some meadows at Hindlip. In 1705 the rents were under £60. Charges were made "for work done at the oatmeale bench," probably a bench fixed outside the east end of the church for the use of the dealers in meal; likewise "for laths and nails for mending ye church penthouse." This penthouse was perhaps the "purpresture"—a name then given to booths or stalls placed in the streets for the exhibition or sale of goods, and for which encroachment on the highway a pecuniary acknowledgment was paid to the corporation.

The receipts of the churchwardens in 1680 amounted to £53. 1s. 3d.; disbursements, £57. 13s. 5d. In 1683, receipts, £117; disbursements, only £48. In 1684, receipts, £144; expenditure, £62. In 1705, receipts, £131; expenses, £154. Pentecostals (a sum raised at a farthing per head from the householders in a chapelry or dependent church, and paid to the mother church at Whitsuntide—hence called "Whitsun farthings") were paid to the Dean and Chapter, St. Swithin's being a rectory in the gift of that body. Dr. Burn in his "Ecclesiastical Law," vol. iii, p. 110, says—"Pentecostals, otherwise called Whitsun farthings, took their name from the usual time of payment at the feast of Pentecost. These are spoken of in a remarkable grant of King Henry VIII [dated January 25, 1541] to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, in which he makes over to them all those oblations and obventions, or spiritual profits, commonly called Whitsun farthings, yearly collected or received of divers towns within the archdeaconry of Worcester, and offered at the time of Pentecost. From hence it appears that Pentecostals were oblations." "These oblations grew by degrees into fixed and[Pg 24] certain payments from every parish and every house in it, as appears not only from the aforementioned grant of King Henry VIII, but also from a passage in the Articles of the Clergy in the Convocation in the year 1399, where the sixth article is an humble request to the archbishops and bishops that it may be declared whether Peter's Pence, the Holy Loaf, and Pentecostals, were to be paid by the occupiers of the lands though the tenements were fallen or not inhabited, according to the ancient custom when every parish paid a certain quota. These are still paid in certain dioceses, being now only a charge upon particular churches, where by custom they have been paid; and if they be denied where they are due, they are recoverable in the spiritual court." A table of the Whitsun farthings payable in every parish in the diocese of Worcester is given by Dr. Nash in his "History of Worcestershire," vol. i. The clerk's wages in 1690 amounted to £2. 4s. 8d.; the sexton's, 18s.; and the ringers seemed to have had a perpetual license to make as much noise as they liked, and on all occasions, however contradictory: for instance—

"1688.—May 29. Wringing for the birth of the Prince of Wales, 10s.

"Paid for the discharging of the bishopps, 10s.

"July.—Wringing on the day of the late king's nativity, 5s.

"Wringing for proclaiming the King and Queen, £1.

"At ye news from Ireland, 2s."

Mr. W. Riley, in 1736, presented an organ to St. Swithin's church, and up to the present century it was the only church in the city that could boast of either organ or chimes. I find that at least half a century before Mr. Riley's presentation was made, there was an organ here; for in 1692 Mr. Birch charges £3 for mending it; and the organist, Mr. Browne, receives £5 a year salary. Wine for the communion for the[Pg 25] whole year (1672) cost £1. 16s.; bread for ditto, 1s. 5d. The offerings at the sacrament varied from 9d. to 12s., but there is the following entry for 8th June, 1673, when the Test and Corporation Act first required all officers, civil and military, to receive the sacrament according to the Church of England:

"Received at the great communion, when Mr. Mayor and the greatest part of the Chamber received the Lord's Supper according to an act of Parliament to that purpose, £1. 7s."

St. Swithin's was probably the then parish church of the mayor. I suppose the mayor did not attend the Cathedral officially on public occasions before 1 Edward IV, as on the 20th of January in that year the Prior of Worcester granted the corporation a permission to attend divine service at the Cathedral, attended by their officers.—See "Nash's Worcestershire," vol. ii, p. 309.

Entries frequently occur of "chimney money" paid for poor widows and others during the reign of James II. Was this a national or local tax? Returns were ordered by parish constables, in the latter half of the seventeenth century, of all fire hearths and stoves in every house rateable to church and poor, and this was probably in reference to the "chimney money" above alluded to—being a tax which poor widows and others, not being absolutely paupers, were unable to pay. The ministers who preached here—probably on special occasions only—had each a bottle of wine given them; and means were taken to prevent any "backing out" on the part of the juveniles when the sermon was commenced; vide:

"Paid Henry Richards for timber, boards, and works, for mending gallery stayers and stoping the boyes ffrom creeping down, and making Mr. Panting's stayers to his reading pue, 12s. 7d."

Among the noticeable miscellaneous entries are the following:[Pg 26]

(1680.) "Paid Mr. Evans for common prayer book for the church, 14s. 6d."

(1681.) "Paid for engrossing Mr. Mayor's warrant for burying in woollen. 1s." [I believe an act was passed about this time for the encouragement of the woollen trade by compelling burials in woollen.]

(1682.) "Paid 1s. for charcoal to dry the writings in the treasury" (chest).

"Rosemary and bayes at Christmas, 2s. 6d."

"2 lbs. hogg's liquor (Query, lard?) for the chimes, 7d."

"Paid Ginks to carry the bones to the scullhouse, 3s."

The present rector of St. Swithin's is the Rev. R. Sarjeant; churchwardens, Mr. R. West and Mr. F. Inchle. Population in 1851, 906.

St. Nicholas

Begins with 1564, though it is clearly not so old as that date, having apparently been copied at a later period, like the other registers before-named. There is much beautiful writing about the middle and close of the seventeenth century, but nothing else noteworthy except that the marriages fell off considerably about that period. In 1691 a charge of 5s. was made by the churchwardens to the clerk for transcribing forty-eight sides of the register.

The oldest account book belonging to this parish I have been enabled to procure commences in the year 1678; giving first a catalogue of the parochial charities, in which "poor auncient maides" are specially remembered, and "Mr. Bowen's guift in wascoates to poor maides" is mentioned. Male and female paupers were designated by the terms "Goodman" and "Goodwife" or "Goody," in lieu of their Christian names:

[Pg 27]

"Paid Goodwife Gawler (1684) and her daughter when they went to Malvern to be cured," 3s.

Foundlings seem to have been laid at a great many doors in those days, and the cost of feeding and clothing these poor little outcasts formed considerable items, of which the following are samples:

1683.—"Three yards and a half of cloth to make the foundlinge and Crutchington's child two coates, 5s. 10d.

"For buttons and thrid and making the two coates, 3s.

"Paid Goody Bray for keeping of a child layd at her doore three nights, 6d.

"For making of a bond to save ye parish harmless of a childe, 1s. 7d.

"Paid ye biddle for going to bring ye woman and child laid down in the parish, 6d."

That the elementary education of the youngsters was not forgotten is shown by the great fact, that in 1694 the sum of 1s. 6d. was invested in "1 doz. ABC, 3 hornbooks, and one primer." A child's coffin cost half-a-crown; a man's 5s. Badges or marks for the poor, and sewing them on are regularly charged for. "Ye King's Tax (4s.) for buryall of pore people" is first mentioned in 1695, when the duty was probably first imposed. (See a note on this subject in a subsequent part of this work.)

One of the latest instances of touching for the "King's Evil" occurs in 1711, when 11s. were "paid Rogers for carrying of Walker to London to be touched," and even children were taken all the way to town in those days of snail travelling to receive virtue from the royal digits. From hence it would appear that the efficacy of the stroke was not presumed to be promoted by the faith or excitement of the patient (infants being incapable thereof), but purely and solely from the hereditary virtue of the royal touch, per se. In 1684 the churchwardens paid 1s. "for ye King's declaracon[Pg 28] touching ye evil." More on this subject appears in a note on Superstitions.

The following entry refers to the "chimney money" for the poor, already mentioned in St. Swithin's chapter:

1683.—"Spent on the chimney men when the certificates were allowed for the poor people," 3s.

There is a curious item of 26s. 4-1/2d. being incurred in 1720, "for attending on Kent when she was sullivated," and a gratifying instance of the best kind of charity—that of enabling the poor to help themselves—occurs in 1710, when 5s. were spent in "teaching Eliz. Harrison to spin and card, and for her lodging for a month." The parochial benevolence does not appear to have been confined to the parish boundary, nor even to the class of paupers, for in 1693 the sum of £5. 2s. 1d. (equal to £30 of the present money) was raised here "towards the relief of Francis Laugher, of St. Peter's, who lost all his corn and other his substance by a sad and lamentable fire." The guardianship of the poor as also the office of churchwarden, although an object of honourable ambition to many, was not welcome to others, for it was found necessary, in 1709, to order that all guardians should have 2s. 6d. allowed to defray the charge of their qualifying; in 1690 Mr. T. Browne offered to be at the expense of putting out a parish apprentice if he were excused from serving the office of churchwarden; Mr. Baddeley and Mr. Weston, in 1720, paid £5 each not to serve as churchwardens, while at other times handsome presents were made to the vestry for the same indulgence. In 1684 an estate at Cradley, called Shewsters, was ordered by the vestry to be purchased for the poor, and the amount paid for it was £143. Fifteen years afterwards the title to the said estate was called in question by one Mr. Millman, and the[Pg 29] churchwardens were instructed to defend it. In this they seem to have been successful, as in 1711 the vestry ordered that another lease for three lives should be granted on it. The Shewsters' estate still belongs to the parish, and is occupied by Mr. William Johnson at a gross annual rental of £20.

Before leaving the subject as affecting the poor of this parish, and the benefactions made to them, it may be stated that in 1737 the clothing trade was so reduced here that there was no "young thriving clothier" to be found to whom the sum of £5 could be lent gratis. This and other similar cases afford precedents for vestries to amend and regulate the appropriation of charities when it is no longer possible literally to comply with the stipulations of the donor.

The disbursements made by the churchwardens in the year 1678 were but £46. 15s. 8d.; in 1685 they amounted to £357. 14s. 8d. owing to extra assessments for the repairs of the church; but after that period they usually reached to upwards of £100 per annum. This increasing expenditure occasioned a movement for economy and a suspicion against the men in office, who were repeatedly tied down by the vestry to spend no more than 20s. on the perambulation day, or the excess would not be allowed them. No practical result however followed, as the injunction seems to have been regularly disregarded, and four or five times that sum not unfrequently spent. The outlay was of course popular with the people, and hence the impunity. Five shillings were generally spent in cakes for the boys, and 6d. given to the person who "carried the bush."

As late as 1798 an order was made for the usual perambulation, but "no dinner at the parish expense." Holy Thursday was the day for this processioning, or going over the parish boundary, and the "holy" day was usually terminated either at the Fish, the Green Dragon, the Falcon,[Pg 30] the George, the Talbot at the Cross, or the Crown and Sceptre "near the Foregate." A transcript of one of these processions may not be uninteresting:

"Holy Thursday, May 5, 1692, the minister, chwdns and p'ishioners of ye p'ish of St. Nicholas did goe ye perambulacon, and did remarke ye p'ticular places and bounds of ye said p'ish, viz., from the church to Mr. Stirrop's parlour window in Angel Lane, over against a stone in Mr. Savage's wall, from thence back again round by the Cross to Mrs. Powell's house, widd., now inhabited by Nichs. Nash, mercer, at the hithermost part of the shop where the ground-sill of the house will show an old passage or dore case, at which place there was formerly an entry, and the p'ishioners in ye yeares '61-2-3 and 4 did passe throw ye said entry, at which time one Mrs. Cooksey lived there, to Mr. Huntbatche's, farther parte of ye house, then to that parte of ye house next the Crosse, being the back parte of Mr. Millington's house, then to the hithermost parte of the White Harte, then down the Trinity to the marke in a wall neare ye old goale, from thence throw Mr. Blurton's garden, then to the joynt in Mr. Blurton's malthouse, then up Sansonie Field from that joynt, and soe throw to ye liberty post, then downe ye Salt Lane to the stile at Marten's workehouse and soe back to the church."

Besides the large sums spent on the processioning day, the day of accounts, the election of officers, and assessing the rolls, charges were constantly made which would sound oddly enough in the ears of the present generation, for even services in the cause of charity and religion were not deemed complete without the unction of large quantities of drink swallowed at the parish expense. Here are specimens:

1687.—"Spent at the Ffish after the French Protestants' money was gathered," 6s. 8d.

"Ditto, ditto, when the money was paid in," 2s. 4d.

"Spent at Ffish with severall p'ishioners abt ye comandments," 1s. 6d.

Among other curious sources of expenditure are the following:[Pg 31]

1681. "Paid Mr. Lea for howsling pence (or huslinge money, as it is elsewhere called), 11d."

This probably means what is now called Sacrament-money. Howsel, an ancient name for bread, was in former times applied to the sacrament of the eucharist, as before the Protestant Reformation the sacrament of both kinds was restricted to the clergy, and the sacramental cup was forbidden to the laity. In the certificates of colleges and chantries for Worcestershire, 2 Edward VI, the persons who received the holy communion are called "howsling people"; and in the line in Hamlet, where the Danish prince, after complaining that his father had been sent out of the world before his time, adds—

"With all his imperfections on his head,
Unhouselled, unanointed, unannealed,"

he evidently means that his royal sire had not received the last offices of religion; "unhouselled" meaning that he had not received the sacrament of the eucharist; "unanointed" that he had not received the Roman Catholic sacrament of extreme unction; "unannealed," or as it should be unanknelled, that he had not had the passing bell tolled for him as he was dying, to cause all pious Christians to pray for his soul.

1679.—"For a warrant to take the names of the Papists," 6d.

This was probably in consequence of the excitement following the discovery of Titus Oates's Popish plot.

A subsequent allusion to the Romanists occurs many years afterwards, when it was "agreed that Papist Franks' child be put on the roll," as though it had been a matter of grave deliberation first. I suppose this means, that belonging to Popish parents precluded children from the benefit of being put on the rolls for parochial relief, but that after some [Pg 32]discussion this single case (perhaps a pressing one of destitution) was admitted.

1682.—"For paceboard for the excomunicated p'sons," 4d.

1683.—"Charges of the excomunication," £6. 10s.

The above charges were probably for a list of Papists and others who had been excommunicated in the Ecclesiastical Court here, and which list was fixed to the church door. Excommunication may still in some cases form part of the sentence of our ecclesiastical courts, but is now regulated by the statute 53 George III, chap. 127.

The most recent remarkable instance of excommunication was that of the celebrated Mr. Michael Scales, who, in Trinity Term, 1829, was excommunicated for brawling in the church of St. Mary, Stratford Bow, in the county of Middlesex; and in this case Dr. Lushington, in delivering judgment said, "In the year 1813 an act was passed effecting an alteration by changing the punishment annexed to the penalty of excommunication; the court, however, is not released from passing a sentence of excommunication, but the consequences of that sentence are very different from what they were before the passing of the 53 George III, chap. 127. Since the passing of that statute the ancient punishment of excommunication is taken away—the person excommunicated incurs no civil penalties except such imprisonment as the court, in the exercise of its discretion, may think proper to direct, not exceeding six months."

Mr. Scales was sentenced to seven days' imprisonment, but the King's Advocate (Sir Herbert Jenner Fust) said that he would rest contented with the sentence of the court without proceeding to enforce its further execution.

A full account of this case will be found in Dr. Haggard's "Consistory Reports," vol. ii, p. 566.[Pg 33]

1691.—"Spent at 2 ffaires for the arresting of Wormington and p'cureing a bond," 18s. 8d.

1693.—"Paid for the prayers for their ma'ties fleete," 6d.

This was probably during an expedition of William III against France.

1703.—"Paid Mr. Cook for printing his sermon," £4. 15s.

1708.—"Ordered (in December) that £5 be paid to Mr. Taylor, the curate, for preaching a sermon every sacrament day in the afternoon since Easter last."

1720.—"Paid for the use of a pillion," 1s. 6d.

"For a litter from Oxon," 2-1/2d.

Rosemary and bayes were very regularly distributed about the church at Christmas. The bread for the communion for the whole year 1678 amounted to but 1s.; the wine, £1. 5s. 6d. Money collected at the communion in 1680, about £2, in seven collections. In 1684—bread, 3s. 6d.; wine, £4. 14s. 7d. Mr. Stephen Ashby, in 1737, "gave 20s. to the rector for preaching a sermon on Good Friday, suitable to the great subject of the day; and it is desired that the inhabitants of St. Swithin's may have liberty to attend the service and sermon, and that the blessed sacrament of the Lord's Supper may be administered that day, if there shall be a sufficient number of communicants." An inventory of the furniture belonging to the church in 1680 included "one English Bible, eleven service books, a book of homilies, Paraphrase of Erasmus, one book Jewell's works, one book called Musculus, one book of the Whole Duty of Man [two years previously three books of the Whole Duty of Man were entered as having been given to the parish], four books given by Mr. Griffith, the rector, being the Companion to the Temple, two parts, the Companion to the Altar, and the Occasional Office of Matrimony, a book of cannons, a book concerninge God and the Kinge," besides books for the poor, communion plate,[Pg 34] green carpet, &c. A charge of 1s. 8d. for chaines and staples for the books in the church was made about the same time. In the year 1680 an old vestry order was revived, "That the clerk should buy and maynteyne sufficient ropes whenever required, and to have the benefit of the ringing the bells." The clerk was also discharged from keeping the clock, and it was ordered that some skilful person should be chosen for the purpose and paid 20s. yearly; but some twenty years after that a much more economical arrangement was made with one John Cox, who was paid 25s. "for mending the clock, upon his promise to keep it in order 21 years at 5s. a year." A new ring of bells for this church was cast at Bromsgrove in 1715. Patching up the old church was a frequent source of great outlay for some years before it was determined to build a new one. In 1682 the "pillar near the great door" being much decayed, and endangering the structure, and other repairs being needed, they were ordered to be done. I find that the cost of 400 tiles was 6s. 8d., 20 bushels of hair 6s. 8d., 400 Wyer brick 6s. 8d., 5 loads of sand 7s. 6d., eight loads of stone (from Ombersley) £2, lime 5d. a bushel; the workmen generally had 1s. a day, while others had more or less. Green flannel was bought for "the 48 seats," (the corporation), and red tape to be nailed on it. Three years afterwards an order was made to repair the church again at a cost of £150, and two men named Allibone and Pascall "to have ye job," Mr. Emes to give security for its proper performance. Malt was bought to make drink for the workmen. Three and a half yards of damask for the communion table were then charged £1. 2s. 9d. Next year the chancel was out of order, and a buttress was put up. In 1690 the steeple underwent reparation. Then it was found that the accommodation of the church was not sufficient, and in 1697 it was ordered, "That my Lord Bishopp be waited upon by the minister to desier his fyatt for the[Pg 35] building a new gallery." The four front seats of this gallery were "put in order and matted fitt for ye gentlewomen to sit in." Only two years elapsed when the old vestry was ordered "to be taken down and removed to next pillar, and to be put in decent order for the parishioners to meet on all parish accounts." Then, in 1707, a new gallery was ordered to be erected under the west window, "in the most decent and workmanlike manner that can be found out and advised by able workmen, and that the pulpit, seats, and font, be removed and made more convenient." At length the old fabric was found not to be worth any further outlay, and it was pulled down in 1728. The vestry meetings were then held in the Berkeley chapel, also at several inns and private houses. [The Hop-pole is first mentioned in 1742, and the Star and Garter in 1748. Mr. G. Woodcock was the landlord of the former, and Mr. William Dyer of the latter.] The trustees appointed under the act for taking down and rebuilding the church were Mr. Thomas, Mr. Weston, Alderman Weston, Martin Sandys, Alderman Vaughan, Alderman Floyer, Mr. Hayles, Mr. John Nichols, Mr. Ashby, Mr. Mence, Alderman Hopkins, Dr. B. Purshall, and the churchwardens. Captain Wingfield, Mr. Sambach, and Mr. Garway, were afterwards chosen trustees to act with the others in carrying on the building. It was ordered that all gifts to the parish should be paid to the treasurer of the trustees, and the parish to pay the interest as directed by the wills of the respective donors. [I mention this in consequence of the bearing it has on a recent church-rate discussion here.] When the trustees should be reduced to thirty, any nine of the survivors were to fill up the number. Sums were borrowed at common interest and others as annuities, and heavy rates were levied. Great difficulty was experienced in raising the amount, the whole expense of the church being £3,345. It was ordered to[Pg 36] prosecute all defaulters in the Ecclesiastical Court, except Quakers, who were to be brought before the magistrates; and among other modes of raising funds were the following: Alderman Weston gave £20 for a seat under the south window next the tower; Mr. Sandys and Mr. Mence £100 each for having conveyed and assured to them the two galleries on each side of the tower; and an order was made that the £20 given by Mr. Ashby for preaching a sermon on Good Friday be laid out on building a wall and enclosing the churchyard. The first vestry was held in the new church in 1730, when it was ordered that the seats should have numbers or figures put on them; "the persons to sit in them according to their weekly payments to the poor; and if any one should sit in a seat above his weekly pay he or she shall be immediately charged according to the figure on the seat."

The Salt Market was held in the parish of St. Nicholas. At a parish meeting in 1792 it was agreed "That whereas there is a stage erected before the Salt Market, to the great prejudice and forestalling of the p'ish tenants, who pay considerable rents to the use of the poor of St. Nicholas, that all and every person," &c., should be proceeded against as counsel should advise. The site of the Salt Market was what is now the garden in front of the rectory house, close by the church. There was a stonemason's yard behind, and in the rear of that yard was a house which, by the addition of a new front, has been converted into the present rectory. Mr. Young, who is now living at the age of about eighty-three, informs me that he can recollect a man regularly selling salt at a small open shop or stall on the site in question. Three or four centuries ago the Salt Market was at "the well of Allhallow," near All Saints' church. In 1692 the parishioners were "p'sented for ye repaire of the way from Foregate to the Pound, in St. Martin's, lying near the town ditch," which had hitherto been[Pg 37] repaired by the inhabitants living there, or else by the chamberlain of the city, the churchwardens therefore were instructed to litigate the point, and no further entry occurs on the subject. There was also much disputation about some property in the Butts, and at length "Wm. Lygon, Esq., John Price, chancellor, James Nash, of Martley, gentleman, and John Appletree, Esq., were requested to be arbitrators for the parish in a matter between ye p'ishioners and Mary Solley, widow, concerning the retakeing of the gravel butts and setting forth ye said butts and ye boundaries thereof." In 1770 a lease of "the rector's ten tenements at the bottom of Gaol Lane" was granted for fifty years, at a rental of £21. 10s., for a workhouse. This Gaol Lane was the present Nicholas Street, where also were several almshouses, repaired by the parish. The lane led to the old city gaol, which was situate on the site of the gardens and property now belonging to the Avenue House (Mr. Powell's) and cottages adjacent in Trinity Gardens. The entrance to the old gaol was near the premises in St. Nicholas Street, till recently occupied as a savings-bank. St. Nicholas Street—now the principal thoroughfare to and from the railway station—was at that time no street at all, there being no outlet to Lowesmoor except for foot passengers, who had to go through a narrow entry with turnstile. A public house called the Dolphin stretched across the street from the present police station to the point where Mr. Finch's house now stands, and the entry was at the left of that public house, close adjoining Mr. Finch's. The last house which then stood in the lane is still in existence, being occupied by a broker. Its old doorway and timbers speak for themselves. Mr. Finch's premises were then a workshop and timber-yard belonging to a Mr. Powell. The ten tenements above alluded to, as belonging to the rector, were on the opposite side of the lane, and were probably used as a parish workhouse only from[Pg 38] 1770 till the building of the present House of Industry, about twenty years later. These tenements are now about to be sold, under an act passed a few years ago, enabling incumbents to sell dilapidated property for its bona fide value, the proceeds to be deposited in Queen Anne's Bounty fund, and the annual value to be paid to the incumbent. The cattle market was held in Gaol Lane within the recollection of aged persons now living. A by-law was made in the time of Henry VII, setting forth that, as the cattle market in Broad Street was a great annoyance, thenceforth the Welsh cattle should be brought to Dolday, and English cattle to Anger (Angel) Lane, and to the "old gayle." The garden and butter markets were also formerly held in front of St. Nicholas' church, having been removed thither from All Hallows Well. A great part of the area in front of St. Nicholas' church is consecrated ground, the boundary being still defined by a line of pavement. At the corner of the churchyard the old watchman's box was formerly placed. Richard Hill, the late beadle of St. Nicholas church, had the honour of being the "last man" of the ancient dynasty of Charleys in this city. He received a concussion of the brain in a night assault, but after lying by for some time he recovered and became beadle of the church. The first mention of public lamps in the churchwardens' books is in 1698; when it was ordered "Yt the lamps in the parish, and to be putt up in the parish, be fedd with oyle, and trimmed and cleaned at the charge of the parish, and that the churchwardens doe take care to have them lighted all dark nights in the winter season." Mention of a Sunday school is made in 1786, when it was agreed that the expense of it should be paid out of the money collected for the poor, and a committee was appointed to manage the affairs of the school. [I find that Sunday schools were ordered to be established as early as 1570, by the Council of Malines.][Pg 39] Present rector of St. Nicholas, the Rev. W. H. Havergal; churchwardens, Mr. F. Shrimpton and Mr. T. B. Burrow. Population in 1851, 2030.

St. Peter's.

The oldest register now in this church commences with 1686; but this book is No. 2, and it is written at the commencement that "No. 1 contains entries from 1560 to 1686." No. 1 is, however, missing. In the early part of the eighteenth century, the entries of the births of dissenters' children are placed apart by themselves, as in some other registers which I have inspected. The spirit which dictated this is, unhappily, not yet defunct amongst us. There is an entry in 1716 of the name of "Gibbon, son of Mr. G. Bagnall," who was probably a descendant of that loyal gentleman who facilitated the escape of Charles II from the battle of Worcester by lending him his horse when the king was nearly captured in Sidbury. Several instances of adult baptism are recorded here, among which is the following: "Rebecka Nicholas, aged 23, born and bred a Quaker, was baptised Sep. 3, 1759." Not a few names are to be met with, both in the registers and churchwardens' books a century or one hundred and fifty years or more ago, which are still familiar in the parish—such as Burlingham, Gorle, Jenkins, Darke, John Dent, Daniel George, Luke Wells, Coney, Hartwright, Hickman, Roger Moore, Luke Lench, &c. It is probable that many of the poor fishermen's families here have been identified with the parish for a succession of several centuries, and in particular the name[Pg 40] of one of them (Leonard Darke) seems never to have been missing, as far back as the records go. No doubt, among these humble followers of a calling which has been handed down from father to son for many generations, as also with innumerable instances of agriculturists, if they possessed the ambition or the means, they might trace as ancient if not as distinguished a pedigree as any Norman or Saxon lord of the soil.

A few notes from the churchwardens' books will suffice. The oldest of them now to be found begins with the year 1739, and the next with 1770. In the latter, one Charles Geary exhibits his anxiety to acquaint posterity with the fact that the holding a churchwardenship is not incompatible with the loftier aspirations of the poetic muse, thus—

"I bought this book,
And in him the p'ishoners may look
And thear they may see
That he
Was bought by me,
Charles Geary."

On the cover of the same book is the following memorandum:

"I have perused the pleadings in a case between John Berkeley, Esq., plaintiff, and John Sparrow and Thomas Butler, churchwardens of St. Peter's, defendants, and find that the inhabitants, owners, and possessors of lands and tenements within the chapelry of Whittington, in the said parish, are, by the verdict given in the said cause, to pay one fourth part only of all levies and charges for repairing of the said parish church of St. Peter's and the ornaments thereof, and also one fourth of all charges for bread and wine used at the communion there.—John Farmer. July 4, 1752."

Among the charges pertaining to the church, in the same year, a new clock and dial, three feet square, by Mr. John Steight, cost £13. 10s.; and three years afterwards the vestry made an order to "buy a new pulpit of the Dean and[Pg 41] Chapter for eight guineas, that they had lately made and was not then in use." No such heavy expenses were incurred in this parish as in St. Nicholas's for perambulation purposes or other feasting, and indeed the scale of the disbursements generally betokened St. Peter's to be much the poorer parish of the two. £3. 9s. was charged in 1761 for "going the bounds." In 1774, I find that the turnpikes to Feckenham cost 3d. for a horse; hire of the animal, 2s.; hay and corn, 6d.; dinner and drink for the rider, 1s. 6d. The lamps first put up in this parish were under the care of the churchwardens, who were ordered to appoint a person to trim them. Mr. Nathaniel Wilkinson—who has been rendered famous by his erection of the beautiful spire of St. Andrew's church—was an inhabitant of St. Peter's; and in 1750 I find an order that Mr. Wilkinson's accounts should be examined, "and if he do not submit them for inspection an attorney be employed." It ever seems the fate of genius to contend with pecuniary difficulties.

I now come to the management of the poor. As in all other parishes to whose records I have had access, the greatest vigilance was exercised to pass on tramps and get rid of paupers, especially that class of females who evidently contemplated an increase of the population, and these are invariably designated by a term which will not exactly suit the fastidious readers of the nineteenth century. In 1739 Leonard Darke is ordered "to have the badche (badge) put upon his sleeve as the act of Parliament directs, before the churchwarden relieves him or his wife; and that all other people that receive reliefe from the parish be obliged to wear the badge." In the same year—"Paid to gett a stranger out of the parish troubled with fitts, 1s." In 1746—"Ordered that the churchwardens do agree with the London carryer in the best manner that he can to take Ann Nelson back to Christ Church parish in London,[Pg 42] from which she was sent by a pass directed to the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the city of Worcester." See how the authorities of those days enforced seducers to make the amende honourable:

1780.—"Paid to Ann Williams, examination and oath relative to her parish, 2s.

"Her examination and oath touching the father of the child, 2s.

"A warrant to apprehend the father, and expenses of constables and assistants in taking him, £1. 18s.

"Paid for the ring, 4s.

"Licence, £1. 8s.

"Pd parson, clerk, and sexton, 8s.

"For the wedding dinner and drink, 11s. 6d."

There was no middle way left for this description of sinner but a long incarceration in gaol or a procession to the hymeneal altar in company with her whom he had outraged. The prospect of the gratuitous "dinner and drink" no doubt decided the point. Lunatics were treated in an equally characteristic manner.

1753.—"Paid for necessaries for Rd. Strayne, 1s. 6d.

"Two hopsacks for a bedtick for him, 3s. 4d.

"Straw for him, 6d.

"A nurse to look to him, 1s. 6d.

"Paid a man to help to chain him, with expenses, 3s.

"Two staples, a chain, and a lock, 8d."

The small-pox and the itch were the two greatest scourges of pauperism in those days, and it seems that even then (though I was not aware of the fact before) the contract system was resorted to in reference to both the sick and able-bodied poor. In 1779, Mr. William Dunn, apothecary, contracted with St. Peter's vestry to supply the poor of the parish in the workhouse with medicines and proper attendance for the sum of £7. 7s. for three years. Six years later, Robert Tasker, governor of the workhouse, contracted to lodge, clothe,[Pg 43] keep, and manage the poor for three years, at £185 per annum: and in 1791 Robert Tasker again contracted for £195, and £10 was then further paid to him "for extras during the last three years and for his particular care and attention to lunatics." But in reference to the workhouse question we must retrace our steps as far back as 1746, when the vestry requested the churchwardens "to take to their assistance others of the parishioners, and draw a scheme for establishing a workhouse in the parish." Ten pounds a year was fixed as the salary of the governor, Zachary Humphries, and "a proper person was to be employed to instruct young persons and others in the workhouse in pareing of leather, sewing of gloves, spinning, or other employments." One shilling a week was allowed to the governor for every person admitted to the house. At the same time it was ordered that "the house now rented by the parish of Mr. Brooker, the minister, be converted into a workhouse, and fitted up in a fortnight." In 1771 it was apparently found that the accommodation was insufficient, as an order was made "That a workhouse be set on foot and established as speedily as may be." Exactly twenty years later it was resolved to concur in the plan of a general workhouse, and delegates were appointed to attend the general committee. Great opposition, however, was raised, in consequence of an outcry against the suppression of the parochial system—as usual, no doubt, by interested individuals having a tender regard for the abuses of the old plan, for this has ever been the experience attending great measures for the public good. In the following year therefore (1792), at a vestry meeting convened to consider the bill for establishing a House of Industry, it was resolved, by a majority of forty-five to reject the bill "as unnecessary for this parish;" and a Mr. James Holyoake, referring to his vote at the last parish meeting respecting this business, "begs leave to observe as to the[Pg 44] division of parishes. Out parts of parishes cannot be divided from such parts as in the city. Parishes united or consolidated must remain so, unless altered or divided by act of Parliament; and if this is, or intended to be, a part of the bill, the said James Holyoake doth on his own part protest against such clause being inserted therein; and it is submitted that a review should be taken of all the public acts made and passed by the legislature for the relief, support, and government of the poor in general. Abstract and consider the clauses of these acts of Parliament; consider the acts at large, and give reasons why the ministers, churchwardens, and overseers, should not continue to be the lawful trustees, guardians, and representatives of their churches and parishes for the relief, support, and government of the poor; and determine (if you can) why the ministers, churchwardens, and overseers, should be restrained from representing and doing the duties belonging to their churches and parishes; and why they, or their churches and parishes, should be superseded or directed by any particular set of people on earth. And should not the clause No. lxiii in the said bill, intended for the better relief of the poor of the city of Worcester, conclude thus—'It is intended to be a private act.'"

The year 1793, however, saw the establishment of the general workhouse on Tallow Hill; and in the first year of the operation of the new plan, although the poor were very largely increased above the average of preceding years, the total cost of their maintenance amounted to a less sum than before. The parishes incorporated by this act were All Saints, St. Andrew, St. Alban, St. Clement, St. Helen, St. Martin, St. Michael, and St. Swithin, and the average expenditure of these parishes for the poor for five years preceding amounted to £1525 per annum, as follows: All Saints, £290; St. Andrew, £182; St. Alban, £47; St. Clement,[Pg 45] £108; St. Helen, £187; St. Martin, £255; St. Nicholas, £303; St. Swithin, £153. The present Hop Market had been a workhouse (prior to the establishment of that on Tallow Hill) for probably a century, as I find that in 1699 the Foregate was pulled down in order to build a workhouse.

The present vicar of St. Peter's is the Rev. W. Wright; churchwardens, Mr. W. Otley and Mr. R. Allies. Population in 1851, 4025.

St. Andrew's.

On the first page of the oldest register book here is the following memorandum: "This register of St. Andrew's parish, Worcester, was found among old rubbish in the churchyard by W. Wormington, rector, 1779." The first entry is under date 1549, and a note in the margin observes, "Four years before the death of Edward the Sixth." A large portion of the book appears to have been copied, and births, marriages, and deaths, are irregularly intermixed. It terminates with the year 1619. The next oldest register commences with 1673. The account book is thus prefaced: "The booke of the accomptes of the churchwardens of the parishe of St. Andrewes within the cittie of Worcester made and begonne this present year of or. Lord God 1587, beynge the thirtyeth yeare of the raigne of or. sov'aigne ladie Queene Elizabeth." The book (which, as a memorandum on it states, cost xii pence) ends with 1631; it is on thin paper, with parchment covers. Two other books, both belonging to a later part of the seventeenth century, give the accounts of what was received and "disbusted" for[Pg 46] church and poor. This is therefore one of the oldest parochial records in Worcester, and as may be expected contains much that is interesting. As usual small Roman numerals are used in the accounts, figures making their appearance about the year 1600, but these were apparently considered so awkward or unintelligible as to lead to their abandonment, and many years elapsed before they were finally introduced. How the venerable guardians of the church could have persisted in the use of such an impracticable method of arithmetic in the face of so great an invention as that of figures, is only to be accounted for by the blind and obstinate attachment of human nature to traditional usages.

In the time of Queen Elizabeth the seats in this church were let, at the rate of from 6d. to 1s. per annum each sitting, and some instances occur of sittings for a man and his wife being charged 3s., and regularly every year a large number who removed from their seats to others were charged 4d. for each removal. The church was whitewashed at Easter Eve, at a charge of 7s. each time. In 1600 occurs an item of 43s. "layed out in bildinge ye new porch," and four years afterwards 5s. "for painting the king's arms." In 1617, "Paid for mendinge ye chimnie to keape out smoke out of ye church, 2s." The smoke nuisance however was not abated, for two years later the sum of 2s. 6d. was "paid to the goodman[1] Bushell for a day's work and a halfe for him and his man to stopp the smooke of the church." The "steeple" is frequently mentioned, and in the year 1618 was "Paid for repayringe and mendinge of ye wether cocke, 5s. 10d.; guilding ye cocke, £1." A fatal accident occurred at this time, as sums are charged for the "buriall of the man who undertook [Pg 47]payntinge of ye steeple," and "for coveringe the grave where the man was buried that was misventured in the church."

[1] Goodman and goodwife were in those days used in the same way as Mr. and Mrs. are now.

Bells were in those days of universal ringing a source of very great expense, year after year heavy items being charged for ropes, ball-ribbs, clappers, or recasting the bells themselves. In 1589 is this entry—"Laide out on the singinge men of the Colledge for hearing the tune of the belles, 6d." Some of the bells were probably recast on that occasion, and the Cathedral choir were invited to lend their professional ears at the tuning of them. "Likewise (in the same year) the said churchwardens desire to be allowed of divers summes by them laid out in costes and charges expended at the Councell in the M'ches in ye parishes cause, concerninge the castinge of their fowerth bell, altogether 18s. 8d." I have been unable to ascertain what took this cause to the Council of the Marches instead of to the Worcester Consistory Court. At that time the Council usually sat at Ludlow, but for the greater despatch of business sometimes assembled at Bewdley and Shrewsbury. "The court of the President and Councell in the Dominion and Principality of Wales" is mentioned by Lord Coke in his "Fourth Institute," p. 242, as a court of equity, held before the President and Council, under the authority of the statute 34th Henry VIII, chap. 26; and his lordship says "They sit by force of the King's Commission and Instructions, and proceed as in a court of equity, by their wisdomes and discretion. Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, and Gloucestershire, are included in this Commission, pretending these four shires are within the Marches of Wales"; but to show that these four shires were no part of the Marches of Wales, but were English counties, he cites many authorities, including a decision of all the Judges of England and Barons of the Exchequer in Lord Zouche's[Pg 48] case, in Michaelmas Term, 2nd James II. In reference to St. Andrew's bell, some one must have sued the churchwardens in this Welsh court of equity. I find that in 1577 two oxen were given to the bishop on coming to this city, he being Lord Vice-President of the Queen's Council of the Marches.

A regulation was laid down in 1595 that the bells should be "charged at every churching and wedding, by consent as aforesaid—4d. at every churching, and 6d. at every wedding; and if any not inhabiting within this parish shall require to have ringing hereafter at their wedding, they shall paye towards the reparation of the belles, xiid." Among the receipts yearly the sum of 2s. is regularly mentioned as having been received from the chamberlains for the council bell. This was probably the bell by which the corporation meetings were called together, St. Andrew's being the nearest church to the Guildhall. The receipts for the use of all the bells in the year 1602 amounted to 11s. 8d. A clock and chimes also existed here. Among the occasions for ringing at this church was the following, in 1625:

"Paid by Mr. Maior's appointment for ringinge when there was speeche betwixt our King Charles and the French ladye, 2s. 6d."

After the expedition of "his sacred Majesty" to Spain, to woo the Infanta, that match was broken off, and negotiations were begun in 1625 for his marriage with the Princess Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of Henri IV of France—an union the most unfortunate for Charles and for his country, so adverse were her influences over him, and so unmanly his acquiescence to her. About the year 1590 the following inventory was made "of such stuffe as remayneth in the p'rishe church of St. Andrew at the accompt of John Hiller and Thomas Hemynge, at the daye of choseing wardens,[Pg 49] when—A Bible, ii books of Omilies (one is lost), a book of Comon Prayer, a book of Iniuncons (Injunctions), (this is lost), the Paraphraces, Emusculus Comon Places, a Comunion cuppe and a cover, a surples, a cloath for ye Comunion table, ii church pawles with ii pillowes, a Comunion table with a frame and a carpet for the same, iii joyned fearms, ii long and on short, on longe forme with iv feet, a coffer with a locke and a keye, a great cheste with ii locks, the poor men's boxe with ii locks and keyes, ii long laddars of the p'rishes, ii other laddars, on for the clocke and the other for the steeple, a dext (desk), with a frame, sixe bells with a clock, chimes, and the whole furniture thereunto belonging, ii bears (biers), the rejester book (the parson hath it)." The Paraphrases, above alluded to, were those of Erasmus, which Cramner ordered to be set up in every church. "Emusculus's Comon Places" were contained in a work now in the Royal Library in the British Museum, which has the following title: "Common Places of Christian Religion, gathered by Wolfgangus Musculus, for the use of suche as desire the knowledge of Godly truthe, translated out of the Latin into Englishe. Hereunto are added two other Treatises, made by the same author, one on Othes, the other on Usurye. Londini, Anno Domini M.D.LXIII." The imprint at the end of the work (which consists of 1174 folio pages) is—"Imprinted at London by Reginalde Wolfe, Anno Domini 1563." In 1604, "a book of cannons for our parson" was purchased for 16d., and "payed for our Bible 36s." It would appear that the churchwardens sold Bibles in those days, and it is even probable that they let out the church Bible to those parishioners who could not afford to purchase one, for in 1610 occurs this item—"Imprimis, received for our church Bible, xs. vid." These officers were occasionally overhauled for neglect of duty, for in 1612 is this entry—"Payed for the[Pg 50] fees of the Consistory Court when we weare called thither for not buying Mr. Jewell's works, and likewise about ye broken bell, xxiiid." Jewell's works were printed in 1609, and the Archbishop Bancroft, in his letter to the Bishops, dated 27th July, 1610 (printed in Dr. Cardwell's Annals of the Reformed Church, vol. 2, p. 154), desires the Bishops, Chancellors, and Archdeacons, with the rest of the preachers and ministers, "to induce the parishioners of every parish to buy one of the works of Bishop Jewel." In 1610 a "Communion table with a form" was bought for 6s. 4d., and in 1616 three trenchers were ordered for the Communion table at a cost of 6d. The cost of bread and wine for the year 1613 was 16s. 8d.; for 1624, £1. 4s. 6d.; and the pence collected at the communion for the year 1619, £1. 11s. 1d. Wine and sugar loaves were given to the strange clergymen who preached occasionally. The vestry resolved in 1598 that 5s. should be paid for every corpse above the age of ten years buried in the church, and under that age 3s. 4d., "and to pave the ground at their own charges." At a later period the act for burying in woollen was rigidly enforced, for the benefit of the woollen trade. In 1692, "paid for a warrant to seize widdow Yates' goods for not making affadavid yt she was buried in woollen, 1s." Pope alludes to this custom in the following lines:

"Odious! in woollen! 'twould a saint provoke!
(Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke.)
No, let a charming chintz and Brussels lace
Wrap my cold limbs and shade my lifeless face;
One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead!
And—Betty—give this cheek a little red."

A "prayer for the navie" was purchased in 1596 at a cost of 4d. This was probably during one of the expeditions against Spain, after the Armada had been disposed of. Of the many[Pg 51] "briefs" for collections here, one was in 1693 "for the redemption of captives from ye coasts of Africa," 19s. 3-1/2d.; and another in 1716 "for the cowkeepers about London," 10s. 7d. (probably to compensate them for the loss of cattle by the distemper, which, it will be seen elsewhere, visited this and the adjoining counties a few years later). Rents of parish property, fees for bells, and letting church seats, were the principal sources of income; and as regards expenditure, the parochial authorities seem to have been remarkably self-denying in the matter of eating and drinking, as compared with other parishes. The first mention of processioning is in 1614, when 4d. was "payd for a barge to goe over Severne when the parishioners went in perambulation;" nothing was then charged for feasting; but in 1622, 1s. 4d. was laid out "to make the presession drinke," and 3s. 4d. "to make the parishioners eat and drink when they went the late perambulation." The patriotic accountant of 1701 records that there was spent in that year "at the election of officers according to Magna Carta, £1," and at the perambulation, with ringing, 13s. The perambulation in 1711 cost £1. 10s. 9d. The meetings were held at the Plough and the Cock. Rent was annually paid to the city chamberlains for Lead Lane, afterwards called Pipe Lane. Was this a right of way over corporation property? Here is the cost of an inquest in 1678: "Paid to the jewry that viewed the man that was drowned, 4s.; to the sargeant for warning them, 1s.; the shroud, 2s. 6d.; four men to carry him to church, 1s." The Whitsun farthings paid by this parish in 1589 amounted to 2s. 2d., which, at a farthing per head, would make 104 householders, and this was probably the arrears of two years, as in 1726 only 1s. 1d. was paid.

The present rector of St. Andrew's is the Rev. G. Hodson; churchwardens, Mr. Stallard and Mr. Knight. Population in 1851, 1678.

[Pg 52]

St. Helen's.

Register commences with 1538, but appears to have been copied in one handwriting from a book of that date nearly a century later. (See remarks on St. Michael's.) The period of the Civil Wars is noted by much confusion, but there is nothing in the book beyond simple entries of births, marriages, and deaths. The account books, however, which date from 1682, possess a fair average amount of interest. In the beginning of last century various minor improvements and renovations were effected in the church and with the bells. The "chambermen's seat" (meaning the corporation), next the reading pew, "was ordered to be enlarged, and the women's seat next adjoining to be kept as large as now it is by adding the next seat to it." A vestry, held September 10, 1706, ordered "that the churchwardens do article and agree with Mr. R. Sanders,[2] bell-founder, or any other founder, for casting the five bells into eight," and voted a sum not exceeding £70 for founding and hanging the same. An agreement was accordingly made with Mr. Sanders. The five bells handed over to him weighed 85 cwt. 1 qr. 1 lb., and the eight recast 80 cwt. 2 qrs. 15 lb., making a difference of 518 lbs., which is charged at 12d. per lb. This famous octave—the inscriptions on which, in honour of Queen Anne and Marlborough's victories over the French, may be seen in all the local histories and guide books—weighed separately as follows: Blenheim, 6 cwt. 0 qr. 27 lb.; Barcelona, 6 cwt. 2 qr. 26 lb.; Ramilies, 7 cwt. 1 qr. 13 lb.; Menin, 8 cwt. 2 qr. 3 lb.; Turin, [Pg 53]9 cwt. 3 qr. 24 lb.; Eugene, 10 cwt. 1 qr. 3 lb.; Marlborough, 12 cwt. 3 qr. 4 lb.; Queen Anne, 18 cwt. 2 qr. 27 lb. A regular charge of 1s. is made for ringing the pye-bell between twelve and one on Christmas Day, which, I suppose, is in some way connected with the proverbial good cheer of that festive season, just as the "plum-pudding bell" of St. Martin's, and "the pancake bell" which was formerly common everywhere at Shrove Tuesday—

[2] Of Bromsgrove; see article on "Bells."

"But hark, I hear the pancake bell,
And fritters make a gallant smell."

"For tolling ye passing bell as ye prisoners passed by" (to be hanged) was also a constant charge, as likewise the bow-bell (curfew) at night. On the 29th of May, 1723, the churchwarden, in the exuberance of his loyalty, records the payment of 5s. "ringing happy, glorious, and miraculous restoration."

The sum of £134 was expended in the repair of the church in the year 1718, and seven years later £2. 8s. for a font, £22. 5s. 8d. for communion plate, and £4. 10s. for a communion cloth. The expenditure for sacramental wine throughout the whole year 1683 was but 9s. 5d., yet the churchwardens could make heavy charges for sack, quarts of "muskadell," and bottles of canary, for their own consumption. In 1727, the sacramental wine cost £6. 12s. 10d. Every strange minister who preached at the church—as was then the custom in all the parishes—was rewarded with a bottle of wine, at a charge of 2s., but whether the guinea fee accompanied it or not the record doth not say. "Ye parson preaching a sermon on the powder deliverance," in 1725, received 10s. 6d.

A list is given (in 1683) of the "names of pore persons who had coats, &c., sent by Mr. Fra. Haynes when he was mayor, as were bought with ye Quakers' money." No doubt from[Pg 54] the fines which were levied upon that unhappy sect. (See subsequent part of this work.) Considerable attention to the poor is observable in these books. A "Spanish bagg" is ordered for Joyce Moorton in 1691, at a cost of 1s. What this article was I have failed to discover. One Stumps, a female cripple, seems to have occasioned a large outlay: there is "for Stumps's wooden supporters, 3s.;" "for Stumps's new leggs, 2s.;" "paid Stumps when she lay in, 6d.;" "mending Stumps's supporters, 4d.;" "for a new supporter for Stumps, 2s. 6d." and "for buriall, grave, and coffin for Stumps's child, 5s. 4d." In 1732, 2s. 6d. was spent in curing one Panting of a "whorscold" (What disease was this?); and in the same year, "paid Mr. Hooke for bleeding and drawing a tooth, 1s. 6d." A room was hired in 1718, for 4s., for "Captain Hemming's wife to lye in," but how that lady happened to come under the cognizance of the parochial authorities is one of those mysteries which will probably ever remain so. A few years later occurs this graphic entry: "Wincot's wife in ye straw (and he not well), 1s." About the same time 1s. was given "to three poor strangers who were travelling from Lancashire to Somersetshire, and by ye account they gave had been slaves in Africa, permitted by ye mayor to ask alms."

Strenuous exertions were made here, as throughout the city generally, to check the increase of the pauper population. Men were paid to watch vagrant women who were in an interesting situation, and escort them out of the parish—no matter where so that they were not in St. Helen's; but notwithstanding the utmost precautions the number of foundlings and illegitimates was very great. Where the fathers of these were known it was very long odds against their escaping from the wardens, who generally succeeded in tying that hymeneal knot for them which they themselves ought[Pg 55] to have fastened some time earlier. The prospect of a capital wedding dinner, all expenses to be paid for them, and a liberal fee put in their pocket, for the most part converted these lascivious libertines into honest Benedicts, and saved the parish the maintenance of the pauper infant. The accounts abound with such items as these:

"Spent with Ben. James, p'swading him to marry Han. Hill, 1s."

"At ye marriage of Bury with Brawler of Powick—for licence, £1. 2s. 6d.; spent at ye wedding, 6s. 6d.; to ye bridewell keeper, 1s.; to ye parson, 5s.; to ye clerke, 1s."

"Expenses for eating and drink, Corfield's marriage with Gould, 3s. 7d.; two men for watching, 2s.; drink when Corfield was taken, 1s. 3d; for ye warrant, 4d.; to cash given ym and marrying, 8s. 6d."

In 1720, the sum of 3d. was paid "to ye clerke for keeping a w—— out of ye parish;" and "expenses in preventing Tomkins marying a w—— of All Saints, 9d." The whole of the parish disbursements in 1682 amounted to but £31. 18s. 1d., but by 1740 they had reached to £273. Perambulation expenses increased during the same period from 12s. to £3. 8s.; and the principal drinking places were the Globe, King's Head, and Adam and Eve. The churchwardens were in the habit of sending the mayor a brace of capons at Christmas "for the house in Dolday," but in 1719 this chief rent was commuted into an annual payment of 2s., being the usual cost of the capons. In 1703 "it was agreed to mayntain the lamps with oyle and dressing from All Hollantide to Candlemas from the Town Hall to the Colledge gates, at the parish charge by the churchwardens for the time being;" and in 1740, a sum was "paid ye clerk for two nights lighting the lamps ye time of ye musick meeting," that being about the period when the Festivals were on the point of being established on a permanent and enlarged basis. What can be the meaning of the following entry?

[Pg 56]

1727.—"Paid John Speed for putting flower in ye tub of water severall times, 1s."

The Pentecostals or Whitsun farthings paid in this parish in 1701 amounted to 3s., which, at a farthing per head, would show 144 paying householders then in the parish, unless indeed the payment had become a fixed one. There were said to be 255 houses here in 1779. Whitsun farthings (alluded to in pages 14 and 23) have been made from chapelries to their mother church up to a comparatively recent date. In the Castle Morton parish register is an entry of such payment at the commencement of the present century. Nash states that the Whitsun farthings belonging to the Cathedral of Worcester in 1649, when an act was passed for selling the lands, &c., of bishops, deans, and chapters, were estimated at about £5. 5s. per annum. He also gives a list of the amount due from each parish in the then nine deaneries. The share paid by the city of Worcester was 15s. 2-1/2d.

The present rector of St. Helen's is the Rev. J. H. Wilding; churchwardens, Mr. Woods and Mr. T. Bickley. Population in 1851, 1368.

St. Alban's.

No records of any interest are to be found here. The register begins with 1630, and the account book 1751, in which year the total expenditure for this little parish amounted to £20. 19s. 10d., including £12 for the poor. The Whitsun farthings usually amounted to 6d. per annum, which, at a farthing per head per householder, showed twenty-four subscribers.

The Rev. J. H. Wilding also holds this small rectory; churchwardens, Mr. F. St. John and Mr. Nicholson. Population in 1851, 286.

[Pg 57]

St. Martin's.

Here I found a register commencing with 1538, nicely copied in one uniform hand for a series of years. An hiatus occurs between 1560 and 1573, where the leaves have been torn out. In the 22nd year of Queen Elizabeth's reign, "John Wilkinson, the parson," caused to be entered on the register his license to one Thomas Heywood, "he beinge very sicke in body," to eat flesh in Lent so long as his illness continued, and no longer. To show the disturbing influence of the Civil Wars, it will be sufficient to state, that only one wedding is recorded in 1643, one in 1644, four in 1645, five in 1646, and so on. About the year 1653 the entries of a peculiar sort of marriages commence of which the following are specimens:

"Mem. John Cartwright of ye parish of Wellan, and Anne Elvinges, of ye parish of Handbure, were joined together man and wiffe by John Nash, justis of peas, by consent, beinge lawfully published 3 severall market dayes in 3 severall weekes, without anie exception, ye 3d of Januarie. Witnesses, Richard Harrise, Marie Salloway, and John Robere."

"Memor. That Thomas Baker, of the parish of Daderhill, and Ann Wallford, of the parish of Sallwarpe, both in the countie of Worcester, weare married the 26th daye of Maye, 1656, by Mr. John Nash, on of the justises of the pease of the cittie of Worcester, being publiclie proclaimed 3 severall market dayes, in 3 severall weekes, in the market plase of the sayd cittie, accordinge to the actt of parliment."

John Roberts signs himself the "register of Martin's." The above description of marriages ceased with the close of Cromwell's protectorate. In 1772 occurs the following:

[Pg 58]

"N.B.—Through the omission of Mr. John Giles, curate, no regular register was kept from this time till Mr. Pearkes, clerk of the parish, in Oct. 1772, began a private account, from whose copy the following extracts are taken. The intermediate time, from Dec., 1769, to October, 1772, is very imperfectly supplied by a few alterations delivered to the churchwardens in consequence of notice of the above omissions having been given publicly in the church, and by advertising in the Worcester Journal."

All the old account books belonging to this parish have been either destroyed or removed into the custody of private persons who have not the honesty to restore them. Vestry orders from 1718 and churchwardens' account books from 1783 are the earliest records, and very little of any interest is to be gleaned from them. Enough, however, remains to prove that the parish of St. Martin was no exception to the general rule observed by men in office of immoderately and shamelessly feasting at the public charge. In 1732 an order was made that no more public money should be spent at the perambulations—or "possessionings," as they were sometimes termed; and the managers of the workhouse were prohibited from spending more than 2s. at any meeting, and that not oftener than once a month. The sum of £5 was frequently paid to avoid serving the office of churchwarden, which in those days drew pretty largely upon the time and attention of the holder. An instance occurred in 1739 of a strangely perverted feeling in reference to the equality of worshippers in the house of God, as an order was made "That the two next seats to the mayor's seat be locked up, and that the clerk of the parish do attend the said seats upon every day of divine service, and not permit any person or persons that do not pay to the poor to seat themselves therein till after the persons who do pay as aforesaid are first seated." How does this agree with the spirit of Christianity, as expounded in the Epistle to James, c. ii, v. 2, "For[Pg 59] if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in a goodly apparel?" &c.

Great disputes subsequently arose in reference to the free use of seats in the church; and in 1744 an order was made that the seat in the first aisle, occupied by Captain Richard Hemming and his family, should be declared void, and to be used by the parishioners, and that Mr. B. Russell, the churchwarden, should take off all locks from the seats in the church, except such as were held under a faculty. It forms no part of my purpose to expose parochial abuses, or I might fill up a large section of this book with the details of the shameful mismanagement and peculation which in former years prevailed in the finances of St. Martin's. Much however has been rectified by the judicious care and public spirit of Mr. Clapton, one of the churchwardens, but much yet remains to be done. Among other matters, it appears that sufficient property has been at various times bequeathed for the purpose of repairing the church and providing for the celebration of divine worship, but this property has been let on long leases for nominal rents, and thus a source of income which should amount to about £100, and cover all the necessary expenses of the church, has been allowed to dwindle away to a bare trifle. It has often been my misfortune to witness the most unseemly exhibitions of dissention, mob oratory, and hatred to the church, within the walls of this fabric, on the occasion of demanding a new rate. How much would have been spared to the feelings of the incumbent and to the friends of the Establishment if the then churchwardens had faithfully and conscientiously discharged their office in the stewardship of the church property!

Present rector of St. Martin's, the Rev. T. L. Wheeler; churchwardens, Mr. Clapton and Mr. Hyla Holden. Population in 1851, 4718.

[Pg 60]

All Saints.

In this parish the date of the oldest register is 1560, many of the earlier years being evidently copied by the same hand. An entry of the death of Mr. Edward Hurdman, who was the last Bailiff and first Mayor of this city, occurs in 1621: his effigy and that of his wife, in the attitude of prayer, still remain in an arched niche to the south of the chancel. In 1638 is recorded the death of widow Evitt, who buried her husband and her three children of the plague the year before. The dreadful year 1637 was memorable for the fact that in this city no less than 1551 persons died of the plague in ten months, being probably one third of the inhabitants (See "Worcester in Olden Times," p. 198). On March 20, 1645, is recorded the burial of a Mr. Richard Chetell, who is said by a local historian to have been hung before his own door in those troublous times of Civil War, and to have had a flat stone placed to his memory near the south aisle of the church, bearing an inscription to his memory as "the masacred gent." who died March 19, 1645. Comparing the register with the date of death recorded on the tombstone, so sudden an interment would give an air of probability to the tradition. The coat of arms at the bottom of the slab evidently belongs to the family of a Mrs. Rebecca Kyrle, who seems to have been buried in the same vault in 1693. "Collins's fire," an extraordinary event which took place in October, 1703, is entered in a red ink or pencil mark, and the register records that, "James Collins, his wife Ann, with seven children, Ann, James, Thomas, Mary, Charles, Catharine, and Samuel, all which[Pg 61] nine persons were burnt together in the fire that burnt their house." This was a singular story. Collins's maid-servant was the only inhabitant of the house who escaped from the fire, but she sustained a broken limb. Afterwards she went into the service of Mrs. Palmer, of Upton Snodsbury, a lady who lived on her property. Mrs. Palmer had a son who was connected with a gang of villains, and in order to obtain her money these wretches murdered Mrs. Palmer and her maid, and burnt the house down. So the poor girl escaped from one fire only to fall into another. The murderers were hung in chains, and Palmer's estates were forfeited to the Bishop of Worcester, who applied one of them to found a school (still existing as Bishop Lloyd's) at Worcester, and the other to charitable uses.

On inquiring for the churchwarden's account books I was informed that since the time when John Dench Wensley (some sixteen or seventeen years ago) so agitated the city and the old city commissioners with his financial squabbles, these books had been missing, and that up to a recent period the accounts had been in a state of great confusion. By the courtesy of the incumbent and churchwardens, I was enabled to explore the parochial chest, and soon found that its triple locks had proved no security against invasion, as not a solitary book relating to the old accounts was left. Only one fragment—consisting of eight or nine leaves, in a piece of brown paper for a cover, and bearing date 1697—remained, and this, on inspection, proved to contain nothing of interest. It is highly probable the abstracted books are not destroyed; and as they are of no use to any one, and the party who has been, whether rightly or wrongly, implicated, being now dead, I trust this will meet the eye of the individual who has them in his possession, and that he will be induced at once to restore them to the church.

[Pg 62]

A fine black-letter Bible, date 1603, was found in the chest, and being in tolerable preservation, I am glad to hear the churchwardens intend to have it strongly bound with the original wooden covers, which have been torn off.

Rector, the Rev. W. Elliott; churchwardens, Mr. H. Davis and Mr. Kendall. Population in 1851, 2205.

St. John's.

Beginning with 1558, the register of this parish goes on regularly to the present time, with the exception of some omissions in the middle of the seventeenth century. There are no entries in the year 1637: this was the year of the great plague in Worcester, when 1551 persons died here; but as only twenty-six of them were in St. John's it can scarcely be supposed that the vicar would have abandoned his post, or neglected the parochial records, on that account. From 1639 to 1677 all is confusion, entries of various dates being jumbled together as though from recollection, at various times after the Restoration. The greatest part of a century of the early part of the register was evidently copied from an older one. On one of its covers is the following memorandum::

"John Web's Case. "1741.

"Aug. 2. John Web, of this parish, was buried, with my consent first obtained, in his wive's grave, in my freehold, my church. Some time after, his sister, Mrs. Wood, was resolved to lay a large stone upon his grave without my leave or consent; for this purpose she sent a stone into my churchyard and demanded of my clerk the key of my church. My clerk informing me of her intention, I[Pg 63] went into the churchyard and commanded Taylor, the stone cutter, to take the stone away; and for the insolence of pretending to break up the soil of my freehold without my consent the stone should not be put over Mr. Web's grave unless Mrs. Wood payd me 40s. After some time, Mrs. Wood being not able to obtain her end by the help of a proctor, she sent the proctor, Mr. Greenbank, to offer me a guinea. I refused the guinea, but told the proctor for peace sake I would take 25s. and not under. This day, Oct. 28, 1741, Mr. John Young, surveyor of the highways, came to me from Mrs. Wood and paid me 25s. I then bid him tell Mrs. Wood that I was satisfied, and gave her leave to lay the stone upon her brother's grave.

"Abdias Taylor, Vicar.

"Mem. The stone was laid upon Web's grave, Nov. 2, 1741."

St. John's poor's book begins with the year 1692, and ends with 1713. The only entry in it worth recording is that of a parish meeting held Aug. 23, 1711, when it was "agreed, that a penalty of 40s. shall be laid upon the overseers that pay any of their said poor that receive weekly pay, except they have the badg fastened visible on the arm, which they are to wear daily at home and abroad; and in case true information be made of any or either of the said poor yt neglect the wearing of the said badg as aforesaid, they are to have no pay for the week wherein they were found defective."

The oldest account book is one bearing the date 1678, and is entitled "a booke ordeined to enter ye churchwardens' accompts of the parryshe of St. John's in Bedwardine, in the county of Worcester, beginninge in the year aforesaid." This book (which extends over about fifty years) divulges the fact that the former inhabitants of this ancient suburb or township were as famous for their feasting and drinking propensities as are their descendants of the present day. The churchwardens and their friends spent large sums of money on every possible occasion—at perambulations, at the choosing[Pg 64] of new wardens on Easter Tuesday, at visitations, binding apprentices, and so forth. It is curious to remark, as a proof of the extent to which selfish appetites will mislead men who have no restraint put upon them, that the charge for processioning, or "beating the bounds" of this parish, increased from 3s. in 1678, to £10 in 1818. At first, only one day was spent in the ceremony, and common ale at a penny per quart, indulged in, the minister participating; then the task became too heavy for a single day, and two were accordingly devoted to the purpose; brandy, tobacco, and pipes, make their appearance; and before the close of the seventeenth century three days were occupied in the procession; dinners at "Powick's bridge" and at Broadmore Green, Broadheath, sums given to the servants and children treated with "heavy wet" on the route, formed the principal features of these drunken scenes. A small charge was made for "boatinge over the newe Teame" on these occasions. After inquiry I cannot ascertain the meaning of this term. Three-pence was also usually charged "for putting up the Gospel bushes." These were bushes or boughs carried in the procession and set upright in the ground at every point where a halt was made to read the Gospel. Both the Bishop and Dean were treated with wine whenever they preached here, as was usually the case when any minister preached who did not belong to the parish; and when the Bishop vouchsafed his presence, cushions were borrowed from the Cathedral to accommodate his lordship. The sum of 5s. was spent upon the Chancellor "when he came up to see the reparacon of ye church." Muskadell wine was generally chosen for sacramental purposes, the charge for it during the whole year varying from £1. 3s. to double that amount. Bell ringing entailed a heavy yearly expenditure upon St. John's parish. It seems that they rang[Pg 65] all day here when the king was at Worcester in 1687, as a charge of 15s. 11d. was made for the luxury, and also 3s. for ringing "when the Queen was with child." This child was afterwards the "elder Pretender," but at the time of the ringing the nation was looking for the advent of William of Orange.

In 1707 it was agreed that the five bells should be cast into six, but there was a stout contest before this was decided on, there being twenty-five votes for six bells, and eighteen votes for casting one. The churchwardens were empowered to treat with a bell-founder, and 5s. was spent at the Angel during the deliberation. Subsequently 5s. 6d. was charged for horse-hire in going to Bromsgrove to look after the bells; Mr. Richard Sanders, of that town, being the founder selected. Every stage of progress in the transaction was commemorated by drinking bouts. In 1709 a levy of sixpence in the pound was made to defray the charge for casting; and in the following year appears an item of £1. 4s. 11d. for "meat and drink for the gentlemen who gave judgment on the bells." These gentlemen were probably of the Cathedral choir, or some other musical men of the city, called in to give an opinion as to whether the new bells were in tune—as a similar instance, it will be seen, occurred in another parish. Lastly, the sum of £52. 3s. was paid to Mr. Sanders, apparently his whole bill for the casting. The entire expenses of the parish for the year 1680 amounted to £12. 12s. 4d., besides £5 distributed to the poor. A barn at Wick was frequently mentioned as a place where paupers died. Was this used as a workhouse by the parish? The amount paid under the head of "Whitsun farthings" is described as "Pentecostals to the dean and chapter, 2s. 3d." Every year a regular charge of 1s. was made, as paid to the dean and chapter's bailiff for what was termed "saddle silver." This[Pg 66] was probably an annual payment for permission to the inhabitants to pass on horseback over certain lands of the dean and chapter. In many places a right of passing on horseback is called "a bridle-way."

A bridge on the north side of the churchyard is mentioned in 1683, and sums paid for bricks and masons' work to mend the same, and for railing and posting it. What bridge was this? Another curious circumstance recorded in this book is, that in 1717 "Mrs. Margery Carwardine, late of this parish, gave £20, the interest of which yearly to be laid out in Bibles for ever, to be delivered to the poorer sort of young people every Easter who have best rehearsed the church catechism in the Lent before; and if there be any overplus it shall be layd out in catechisms to be given to poor children yt go to the reading school." In the year 1702 it was agreed in vestry meeting "that only one churchwarden should be elected year by year, and to continue in his office two years, viz., the first year as under churchwarden and the second year as head churchwarden." The accounts of these officers were regularly entered in the book by a professional scribe, who was paid accordingly.

The present vicar of St. John's is the Rev. Canon Wood; churchwardens, Mr. Philpott and Mr. Lea. Population in 1851, 1845.

St. Clement's.

The earliest order book for this parish commences with 1670, the register 1694, and the account book 1695. Older records are supposed to have been washed away or to have perished through the effects of floods[Pg 67] to which the old parish church (formerly situate on the Upper Quay) was exposed. Even the existing books seem to have been thoroughly soaked, or else the ink used on them was so pale as to be quite illegible in many places. Early in the present century (as the Rev. John Davies, the incumbent, informs me) during a great flood, he passed up the aisle of the church in a boat, and for some weeks was obliged to borrow another church to accommodate his parishioners. An old tale is told in this parish that on one occasion a clergymen found a salmon left by the subsidence of the flood in St. Clement's church, and hence the presentation to the living was supposed to include the valuable privilege of catching all the fish that can be secured in this way. Fortunately for the parishioners, there were but about a score of them living on the side of the river where the old church stood, while the remainder (about 2000) occupied a delightful bank on the west side, where the effects of floods and dampness are set at defiance, if we may judge from the many instances of longevity occurring there. Only a few months ago a person died there who remembered George III being crowned; and another, still surviving, regularly walks up to the communion-table with firm step, although upwards of ninety years of age. Mr. Davies, who for forty years has been the beloved and faithful pastor, has during that period buried about 2000 persons, being in fact a whole generation of the parish. But to return to the records.

Churchwardens here have partaken of the same flesh and blood with their brethren in other parts of the world, judging from the regular outlays for eating and drinking apparent on their books. The Bear inn (a house belonging to the parish) was usually selected for their adjourned vestry meetings and drinking bouts, and the Apple Tree, the Mug-house, and the Duke of Cumberland's Head, were sometimes[Pg 68] chosen by way of change .The following is one of their bills for perambulating the parish. It is dated 1737:

s. d.
"To cakes and ale at ye perambulation 9 4
For a quarter of lamb 2 6
Leg of veal and bacon 4 3
For a pigg 3 6
Thirty-two quarts of ale 8 0
For bread, greens, and dressing dinner 5 0
For cyder 0 3
For carrying the bush 1 0"

In 1700, the sum of 8s is charged as "spent agoing the bounds of the parish and a boat; at the same time, when we came to Anthony Wall's, 10s 4d". Yet with all these appliances of creature comforts, the then really onerous office of churchwarden was considered so undesirable that, as in other parishes, the persons selected to fill it sometimes "bought themselves off" by a good round sum to the parish, as was the case in 1776, when Mr John Williams paid five guineas for that purpose The total disbursements of the parish in 1695 amounted to £86 18s 10d, out of which £55 15s 8d was paid to the poor; and the churchwardens seem to have taken good care at most times to keep a balance in hand Among the items of expenditure are—for mending the church after the floods, for cloth and brass for the poors' badges (See chapter on St Swithin's parish), 4d each for hedgehogs, &c. The sacramental wine for the whole year (1700) cost but 7s, and only 9s 10d was received of the communicants during the twelve months In 1712 it was "agreed and ordered, that for every corps either parishioner or residing in this p'ish that shal be buried in this churchyard there shal sixpence be paid to the churchwardens for ye time being toward ye mayntaining[Pg 69] of ye paling, and for every one brought out of any other p'ish to be paid one shilling as aforesayd."

The church was "bewtifyed" in 1745, but it may be reasonably supposed that no "bewtifycation" would long resist the frequent irruption of Sabrina's waters (from which the building had probably been protected by the old city wall before the latter was destroyed); and accordingly in 1820 it was resolved to abandon the old fabric and build a new one on the west side of the river, which was completed in 1823. I gather from the records that the Whitsun farthings paid by this parish in 1726 amounted to 7-1/2d.; and as this oblation consisted of a farthing a head paid by every householder to the mother church, it would seem that (unless this was a fixed annual payment) only thirty householders then subscribed in this parish; which is more a proof of the smallness of the population at that time than of disaffection for the church, as the latter was scarcely ever permitted in those days to stand in the way of her legal claims. Yet in 1779 there were 141 houses in the parish. About eighty years ago, I am informed, St. Clement's and All Saints' churches were served by the same minister—an arrangement often made in those days of no discipline and church desecration. It appears, however, that many centuries ago, in a dispute about the advowson of this church, which was then said to be dependent on All Saints, the bishop declared it to be a free chapel, having no connection whatever with All Saints.

Present rector of St. Clement's, the Rev. J. Davies; churchwardens, Mr. J. Stallard and Mr. Bozward. Population in 1851, 2174.

[Pg 70]


This register is likewise copied, from the year 1538 to the close of that century, in a good plain hand, except during the Puritanic period, when the rough scribbling of clerks or ill-educated ministers greatly disfigures the book. Much confusion and extensive omissions also occur from the year 1633 till after the Restoration, and from 1749 to 1761, from which time, however, to the present the register is regularly kept and in as good order as any I have seen. The only curious entry in them is dated January 24, 1736; when "Thomas, bastard son of Ann Husel, was baptised. This Ann Husel was a common strumpet, but pickt up and maintayned in a very gallant manner by one Baker, a rakish spark of 3 or 400 a year, by whom he had the bastard Thomas, as generally supposed. They lived together as man and wife in defyance of God and man, tho' under ye nose of ye Consistory Court, at the Hill." A memorandum is likewise made of the following benefactions, which I believe are still administered: Mr. William Norton, in February, 1721, left lands to the value of £7 yearly, the rents and profits of which thus to be distributed: "20s. every year to the minister for preaching a sermon on such day of the month yearly as I shall be buried;" 20s. in twopenny household bread to the poor who should attend and hear the said sermon; and the residue to clothe five poor men of the parish that usually attend the church and also hear the above-named sermon. Mr. William Swift also left houses and land to provide 12 penny loaves of wheaten bread every Lord's day, and 24 more such[Pg 71] loaves at Christmas Day, Easter, and Whit Sunday, to be given to 12 poor aged people after service, and the overplus to the minister. Another book records that St. George's chapel, in this parish, was consecrated by Bishop Cornewall on October 26, 1830, and the Rev. J. B. Tyrwhitt appointed its minister by the Rev. E. W. Wakeman, then perpetual curate of Claines.

The oldest account book commences with the year 1668. Besides the churchwardens and overseers, two sidesmen, supervisors of highways, and "destroyers of noisome fowls and vermin," were regularly appointed. Foxes and urchins still abound in this parish; and as to "noisome fowls," entries frequently occur of sums paid for shooting kites, and in 1678 Sir J. Pakington's man was paid 1s. for killing a fox (tempora mutantur). In regard to the appointment of churchwardens there seems to have been a dispute between the incumbent and the parishioners, as set forth in the following entry:

"Mr. Phidkin, the curate, pretending a right, by virtue of the canon, to elect a churchwarden, the parishioners procured an order from the Consistory Court for the parishioners to meet, which they accordingly did, and chose two new wardens, and made their return to the said Court, but Mr. Phidkin insisted on the canon, and prayed that the churchwardens should be sworn; but the chancellor declaring that the court had not the power of trying the custom, a mandamus was obtained at the King's Bench to swear the two churchwardens elected by the parish."

It appears from another entry that the ancient custom was "for the minister, together with the consent of the parishioners, to choose the low churchwarden to be head churchwarden for the year." The parochial officers—as was the case in most parishes—were occasionally checked in their tendency towards an extravagant expenditure, one of the vestry meetings ordering that no more than 10s. should be[Pg 72] spent at the visitation, besides fees; no more than 2s. 6d. to be allowed for ringing on any occasion; and only 2s. each to the officers for attending Sessions. The perambulation expenses in 1732 were £1. 10s; three days were usually occupied in beating the bounds, and they dined at the Tavern (Query, the present Virgin's Tavern?). May day was likewise kept as a festival, and money allowed in these accounts for the celebration of it. In the year 1750 the principal inhabitants, in vestry assembled, agreed to forfeit 40s. each if they did not use their "utmost endeavour to put a stop to the evil practices commonly committed on our wake Sunday." The wake was held on Trinity Sunday; and notwithstanding the above combination, old custom proved stronger than the sense of propriety, for until within the last twenty or thirty years the wake was continued, and I am told that some extraordinary scenes were usually witnessed here: even on the graves, travelling vagabonds plied their profession, and

"Many a youth the glittering snuff-box eyed—
Paid for his stick forthwith and boldly shied."

Such scenes of fighting, drunkenness, and debauchery, were probably never witnessed in the parish but at those times, and close beneath the shadow of its old church too. The clergy, aided by the indefatigable exertions of the present respectable clerk, Mr. Williams, at length rooted out the evil; and a little dancing which is still carried on at Fearnall Heath on the Monday is all that remains of Claines wake.

The overseers in 1678 were ordered to deduct the third part of the pay of such poor as should be found tippling in alehouses upon Sundays, for the space of a month after they should be found so tippling. Among the curious entries in these books are the following:

1669.—"Given to one whose dwelling was drowned by the sea coming too late to church, 1s."

[Pg 73]

1713.—"Whereas several pack horses hath spoiled the road leading from Dean Green to Claines Church, not having any right to travel the said road, being no inhabitance of the said parish, we order that there be a barr with post and railes set upp to prevent it over against the house of Richard Onions."

An interesting document relative to the liability of Claines to pay to the relief of the poor of the Tything of Whistones will be found under the head of "County Sessions Records—The Poor."

The Rev. W. Crowther is the present perpetual curate of Claines; churchwardens, Mr. Moon and Mr. Martin Curtler. Population in 1851, 1373.

[Pg 74]


"Thoughts shut up, want air,
And spoil, like bales unopen'd to the sun."

The Sessions rolls, now in the custody of the Clerk of the Peace, consisting of recognizances, presentments, informations, memorials, grand jury bills, &c., commence with 1600, but the order books do not go further than 1693. From the latter it appears that a great portion of the county business was transacted at inns and private gentlemen's houses. The Talbot, in Sidbury, for a great number of years enjoyed the magisterial patronage, adjournments being regularly made from the Guildhall (where the County Assizes and Sessions were then held) to that respectable old hostelry, where no doubt the magnates compensated themselves for the dry and tedious work in hand by generous and stimulating potations, as was the custom with the city authorities. Several Sessions were adjourned to Hooper's coffee-house at the Guildhall, which is first mentioned in 1767 as being kept by Lucy Hooper, and also to the Trinity Hall (an old building occupied by various trading "companies" or "guilds," on the site of which now stand Messrs. Freame's warehouses near St. Swithin's church). A committee of magistrates were ordered to inspect this hall in 1796, to consider the propriety[Pg 75] of purchasing it and converting it into an office for the Clerk of the Peace; but this seems to have fallen to the ground. The Talbot, Claines (Tything), was preferred for some time, the Star being occasionally used; then the Crown inn was chosen in 1792 by a formal vote of the bench; and in the early part of the present century the Hop-pole came in for its share. During all this period, however, on many occasions, adjournments were made to other towns and villages. The Earl of Coventry was frequently visited in this way at Croome; the Hon. H. Herbert, at Ribbesford (1710); Rev. Dr. William Lloyd, at Ripple; William Hancock, Esq., at Bredon's Norton, and the Bishop's Palace at Hartlebury (1715); Lord Herbert, at Ribbesford (1721); and in 1723 a circuit seems to have been taken on many consecutive days to the Crown, Evesham; Crown, Blockley; George, Shipston; Angel, Pershore; Talbot, Feckenham; Crown, Bromsgrove; George, Bewdley; Lion, Kidderminster; Talbot, Stourbridge; Bush, Dudley; Hundred House, Witley; Crown, Tenbury; the house of Mrs. Collins, Shelsley; and the Sun, Upton. By the statute 9th George I, chap. 24, all persons who were Papists, and all persons who had not taken the oath for securing the throne to the House of Hanover, were to do so before the 25th of December, 1723, in one of the courts at Westminster or at the Quarter Sessions. This was no doubt the cause of the adjournments of the Quarter Sessions in that year. In modern times it often occurs that the Quarter Sessions are adjourned to different places in the county for the convenience of newly-appointed magistrates being sworn into office. In the year 1809, Sir Harry Lippincott, Bart., was appointed a magistrate for Gloucestershire, and he was sworn into office at an adjournment of the Gloucestershire Quarter Sessions—the Sessions being adjourned to the White Lion, the principal inn at Berkeley (now the Berkeley Arms),[Pg 76] the late Earl of Berkeley taking the chair, and administering the oaths to the hon. bart. In 1697, Lancelott Jewkes, the Worcester county gaoler, was fined £20 "for not attending this court to do his duty, the court having had several occasions for him." It was ordered in 1716, "that the Sheriff for the future do not return any freeholders within the burrough of Bewdley to serve on jurys for the County Sessions, they having Sessions of their own." Another order was made in 1723, "that there be an advertisement in the Worcester newspaper, to give notice to people lyable to serve on jurys not to give money to the bayliffe to excuse them, and that the treasurer doe pay for the advertisement four weeks successively." The following is a table of fees ordered in 1753 for justices' clerks, in pursuance of an act of the previous session:

s. d.
"Swearing every high constable 1 0
Swearing every petty constable, tythingman, &c. 0 6
Every common warrant 0 6
Every warrant to search for stolen goods 1 0
Every warrant of the peace or good behaviour 2 6
Every supersedeas 2 6
Signing every pair of parish indentures 1 0
Every license to sell ale, the fee to the clerk of the peace for filing ye recognizance, stamp and paper included 5 0
Every recognizance for peace or good behaviour 2 6
Every warrant for the highways 1 0
Swearing the surveyors to their presentment and receiving it 1 0
Every hue and cry 1 0
Every warrant for appointing overseers of the poor 1 0
Signing a warrant to distrain for the poor's levy 2 0
For a warrant to disturb inmates 1 0
An order and copy for removing a person from one parish to another 2 6
If drawn by another and only signed by you 1 0
Signing a certificate from one parish to another 1 0
Making and signing every original pass. 0 0
Signing every other pass 0 0
Every mittimus 0 0
Taking examn. of a settlement or bastard 1 0
Drawing an order for adjudging the reputed father of a bastard child 2 0
Signing the same order 1 0
Warrant to levy every penalty or forfeiture 1 0
For a summons for conveaning Quakers, &c. 0 6
Every order thereon 1 0
A warrant upon refusal 1 0
For a summons for a master who refuses to pay his servants' wages 0 6
For the discharge of a servant from his master 1 0
A warrant to distrain for servants' wages 1 0
Allowing overseers' or constables' levys 0 0
Signing freeholders' lists 0 0
For every warrant to the collector of the land tax for taking up a deserter. 1 0"
[Pg 77]

In 1753, William Cooper, of Shipston, was fined £5 for taking money of William Taylor, of Armscot, to excuse his serving upon the jury at Sessions. The only remaining item under this head is an order made in 1789, "that at all future Sessions, business be conducted only by counsel, and not by attorneys as heretofore; but that in testimony of the respect due to Wilson Aylesbury Roberts, Esq., for his integrity and abilities, as well as for the regularity of his attendance and the assistance this court has received from him through a series of years, he is from henceforth received and heard as our advocate or counsel, as if he was a barrister, and as if the said order had been never made."

[Pg 78]


Our county records do not contain evidence of the existence of this superstition to a great extent, owing to the fact that witchcraft cases were usually tried at the Assizes. The first instance occurring in the Sessions rolls is in the year 1601, when Edward Buckland "exhibited articles complaining of John Genifer, to whom he had lent money," and when Buckland's "poor wife" asked for it, Genifer used shocking language, and "charged her with being a witch, and had deserved burning seven years sithence, and if she was a midwife was not fitt to bringe a —— to bed, much less a woman."

In 1633 the recognizance of widow Bellett, of Stony Morton (?) was taken, to appear at the next Sessions, to answer charges brought by William Vaughan, of Inkberrow, and others. This document is in some places scarcely legible, but it appears that the principal charge was "for the evil artt that shee useth with the —— wich, and she gives —— to finde out goodes lost, and using the name of Peter and Paule therein in profane manner, beinge sayde to be —— of that sleight ——." I found no account of her trial.

In May, 1660, the examination of Elinor Burt was taken before Gervase Bucke and William Collins, Esqrs., and "being examined whether she hath not taken upon her to cure several persons afflicted with several diseases and distempers in their bodyes, ansheareth and saith, that shee did not take upon her soe to do, but confesseth that when diverse had come to her that hath aches in their heads and other infirmities, she had and hath a gifte from God, by good[Pg 79] prayers and laying her hands upon their heads or faces, oftentimes to recover and heal them of their diseases; and being examined what other means she useth to recover sick persons, saith, noe other means but good prayers; and further doth not materially confess." As the Sessions order book does not commence till 1693, there is no means of ascertaining the result of this and other cases prior to that date which are mentioned in this abstract of the records; but in the same year (1660) it is stated that "Joane Bibbe was bound for good behaviour for beinge of evil fame, and suspected for wychcrafte, butt not as yet charged." This is undoubtedly Joan Bibb, of Rushock, who (as stated in a MS. note-book of Mr. Townsend, of Elmley Lovett, who was a county justice at that time) "was tyed and thrown into a poole, as a witch to see whether shee could swim." But she brought her action against Mr. Shaw, the parson, for his share in this transaction, and recovered £10 damages, and Mr. Townsend compounded for her and others with Mr. Shaw for £20. The same MS. records the bringing of four other persons from Kidderminster that year, and ducking them in the Severn at Worcester, but the details of their cases have already been published by Nash.

Elizabeth Ranford, of Great Comberton, widow, lays an information before the magistrates on the 26th of September, 1662, "that she heard Joane Willis, wife of Thomas Willis, of Great Comberton, say that shee will take her oathe that shee, the said informant, is a witch, and bewitched to death one Thomas Right's wife and one Robert Price's child, both of Comberton aforesaid; and that shee behegged one of the said Joane Willis her children; likewise the said informant informeth, that shee, the said informant, was gooing to one Margaret Willis her house, in Comberton aforesaid, about her business, and the said Joane Willis came violently upon[Pg 80] her and gave her several blows with a staffe, and ripped her quaife of her head, and prophanely did swear, blood and wounds shee would kill her."

In the month of August, 1666, Ann Powell, spinster, of Kington, lays an information that "upon St. James's Day last she and one Elizabeth Daffye, widow, having discours together concerning Mary, the wife of Anthony Slater (being this informer's dame), the said Elizabeth then told this informer, in the presence and hearing of others of the neighbourhood, that shee had late before had a heifer strangely amisse, and supposing shee might be bewitched, she went to a telster or wise woman (as shee termed her), who told her, the said Elizabeth, that the said Mary, the wife of the said Anthony Slater, had done the said heifer harm, meaning, as this informer conceaveth, that the said Mary had bewitched the said heifer; and further this informer sayth, that by reason of the speaking of the said wordes, her said dame hath been much scandalized in the neighbourhood, and several quarrels and fighting between her and others of her neighbours have ensued thereupon." Although unable to give the result of this charge, the information will be sufficiently interesting of itself, as affording us an insight to the state of society at that time. Joseph Orford, of Oldswinford, nailer, was presented in the year 1687, "for being a common disturber, and for charging Thomas Barnes, a person of good repute, with being guilty of witchcraft, and that he hath boasted that he would have the said Barnes and his wife duckt for witches, and he would procure one John Johnson, a drummer, to be present at the doing it, to make the more sport." But here comes a case with more curious detail.

At the Midsummer Sessions of 1698, Martha Farmer, of Astley, deposed before Mr. James, a magistrate, that Margaret Hill, of Shrawley, came to deponent's house about[Pg 81] Midsummer three or four years ago, during her absence, and required her child, who was only seven or eight years old, to sell her some oaten meal, but as the child would not do so in her mother's absence, "shee pluck'd the child to her and hurt her finger, causing blood to come from it. In the morning the child fell ill, and continued in a sickly manner for some days, till a strange woman came to the dore and told her the child was bewitched; and Margaret Hill was sent for to come and pray over the child. She at first refused, but at length being prevailed on, shee said her prayers and the child recovered; but after some time it relapsed into its former sicknesse, and lay screeching and crying." Margaret Hill was sent for the second time, but would not come till after she had been "threatened by Farmer that if the child died she would have life for life. Then shee prayed by the child, which recovered, and continued well." During the child's illness Hill's daughter came to the deponent's house and offered to go for a doctor, and returned the same day, bringing some water in a bottle to cure a surfeit which she said the child had, and desired her not to be angry, for if her mother had injured the child she was sorry for it. Ann Farmer also deposed that when she went to fetch Margaret Hill "the latter called her a Judas b——, and told her she should not be well whilst she lived, whereupon she fell lame, and continues to be soe, beinge fairly persuaded that Margaret Hill was the occasion of her lameness." Mary Wall made oath that "Margaret Hill came to her house and begged for butter-milk, but she had none, and the same afternoon the cow which gave the milk fell ill, and they sent for a man skilled in distempered cattle, who told her that the cow was bewitched; whereupon they sent for Margaret Hill, who came and prayed over the cow. My husband went to a wiseman at Worcester, who said his[Pg 82] cow would be dead before he got home (and it was soe), and told him to keepe all suspected persons out of his house. Some time before the cow died, Margaret Hill came and asked witness whether her husband was gone for help for the cow, although they had not informed her of his going." Margaret Powell gave evidence that "7 or 8 years ago Margaret Hill came to buy half a qtn. tobacco, and was refused to trust her, when shee asked witness if shee had any piggs; and going where they were, the piggs began foaming and tumbling about and died." Catherine Jones deposed that the accused "also came to her house 3 years ago to buy a peck of corn, but could not agree as to price, and presently afterwards deponent had a calf fell ill, lingered, and dyed." So damning a body of proof, it may fairly be presumed, was too much for poor Mrs. Hill, but I find no record of the result, the case having probably been tried at the Assizes, the rolls of which court, I suppose, are in London. More particulars respecting witchcraft in this county will be found further on in this volume.


From the earliest period to which the county rolls refer, the constables and churchwardens were charged to present in the Sessions all persons who regularly absented themselves from the service of the church and would not receive the sacrament, all innkeepers who made charges above the scale allowed, all tipplers and houses where tippling was allowed during divine service, to report whether due watch and ward was kept and all vagabonds duly[Pg 83] punished; besides a variety of other returns. The beerhouse nuisance was even at that time the most fertile generator of crime. In 1602 one Edward Pearce was charged for that, "in November last past, he with one other of his companions were eatinge of fresherings with two women in an alehouse in Inkberrow, and when they had done, Pearce went to his chamber and did set a candle lighted in his window, and when he returned he said that he had done as the scollers in Oxforde did when they meant to doe aney exployt, to light a candle, that they might be thought to be at their book; and thereupon he and his companion in the night went abroade into the field with the two women very suspiciously;" it was also alleged that they set some corn on fire, and "riotously drew drink in kettles and drank it with apples;" and that Pearce drank so long and so hard that a catastrophe occurred which cannot be mentioned here; lastly, that about the same time he went into an alehouse and called for drink, and because the landlady did not make haste he laid her on the fire. A memorial signed by nineteen inhabitants of Bayton was sent to the Sessions in the year 1612, setting forth "that John Kempster and Thomas Byrd do not sell their ale according to the law, but doe sell a pynte for a penny, and doe make ytt soe extraordynarye strong that itt draweth dyvers ydle p'sons into the said alehouses, by reason whereof sondrye assaults, affrayes, blodshedds, and other misdeameanors, are there daylie comytted by idle and dronken companie which doe thither resort and there contyneue in their dronckenes three dayes and three nights together, and also divers men's sonnes and servants do often resort and contineue drinking in the said houses day and night, whereupon divers disorders and abuses are offered to the inhabitants of Bayton aforesaid, as in pulling down styles, in carrying away of yertes,[Pg 84] in throwing men's waynes, plowes, and such like things, into pooles, wells, and other bye places, and in putting their yokes for their oxen into lakes and myery places," &c. A nice picture of young England in the seventeenth century. In the same year (1612) Henry Cartlage was presented "for hanging a pair of horns at the door of Kenelm Gritt, at Bromsgrove, insinuating that he was a cuckold," and for other bad actions. It was a very general custom in the middle ages to signalize the unhappy husbands of false women by means of horns. The origin of the custom has always been a matter of dispute. In an old ballad, called "The Merry Humours of Horn Fair," are these lines:

"The parson's wife rides with the miller;
She said, I hate horns I do declare,
Yet happy are the men who wear them,
My husband he shall have a pair."

The Corn Market in Worcester was the usual scene for whipping and using the pillory, as well for county as city prisoners, and from twelve to two o'clock on the market day (Saturday) the time generally chosen, for the sake of publicity. Mary and Elizabeth Squire, alias Skamp (!) were ordered to be whipped there in 1710; and the regular instructions, for women as well as men, were "to be whipped on their backs till they be bloody." On some occasions these floggings took place through the streets, as in 1732, when John Potter was "whipt at the cart's tail from College gate to the liberty-post in the Foregate Street," for a felony. This liberty-post stood at the north east corner of Salt Lane. At other times they were whipped from the bridge to the liberty-post in St. John's. On October 7th of the same year it was "ordered that the sentence passed on Richard Baylis, John Lawer, and Edward Jones, touching their being as this day putt in the pillory, be respited till next Saturday, the Corporation of the city of[Pg 85] Worcester having taken down the pillery, and there being not time to get one erected to putt them in the pillery this day." In 1765 two guineas were paid to Mr. Baxter, the Under Sheriff, for erecting a pillory; and in 1797, Thomas Wilkinson was sentenced to the pillory in the Corn Market "for obtaining 4s. from John Waterson, miller, of Salwarpe, on pretence that he was an inspector for printing the prices of grinding in the said mill."

At Bromsgrove, men and women were whipt in the market place; and at Upton, from the bridge to the turnpike gate leading from thence to Gloucester. At the latter town, in 1737, John Willoughby and Adam Cook were presented for removing and carrying away the prison house or gaol belonging to the town! The circumstances of this very singular charge are not detailed, but the presentment was quashed.

The Gaol.

The first mention made of the state of the county gaol was in 1616, when a petition was sent to the Quarter Sessions from the poor debtors confined therein "against various hard usages, exactions, and extortions offered to prisoners by Mrs. Moore, the keeper," and "when one of the justices took pains to amend it she obeyed him not but used more extremities." Mrs. Moore, however, commenced a cross fire, by petitioning the magistrates at the same time, alleging that her late husband had "taken the gaol upon a very great and extreme rent," and she and her husband had "given trust and credit to many poor distressed prisoners, hoping of satisfaction at their enlargement," but[Pg 86] since the death of her husband divers persons had run into debt, and had brought false articles of accusation against her to shield themselves. Her plea was ad misericordiam—that she was "an unprotected female" since the death of her husband, and was persecuted by the very parties to whom she had shown kindness. But unfortunately the lady's allegations were not borne out by fact, for Mr. Fleete, the justice above-named, who had been commissioned to inquire into the matter, caused Mrs. Moore to be bound in £100 "to sell an ale quart of beare for a penie" from that time forward, as it appeared that she had been in the habit of selling the prisoners ale by wine measure, and otherwise so managing her retail business, that for a hogshead of drink which cost her but 12s., she received 32s. Moreover she "tormented those that were of mean condition (i.e., who could not afford to buy her ale) with double irons." So Mr. Fleete ordered this to be discontinued, and that the debtors should be separated from the felons. Nevertheless, next year (1617) out comes the following "Humble petition of the pore prisoners in the Castle of Worcester, humbly showeth unto your good worships that they are many pore men, to the number of thirty prisoners and upwards, who lye there, some upon their behavior, and the most parte of the reste upon matters of small or noe value, having nothinge but the bare allowance of a penie a day to relieve their faintinge bodyes, so that yf they should be inforced to lye longer in this miserable place wold unchristianlike be starved to death with hunger, cold, and nakedness; some of them alsoe having many pore children like to be left to the wide world. May yt therefore please your good worships to consider them, to have their present triall before your good worships, who rather desire to be out of the world than to indure the misery wherein they now are, and your petitioners will ever pray for your worships' health."

[Pg 87]

A system under which a gaoler rents his prison, and makes his profit by selling drink to the inmates at an enormous rate, reads curiously enough in these days when the science of prison discipline has so greatly advanced as to induce us to make the most costly sacrifices. It will be observed that the county prison was on the site of the ancient castle, once standing near the Cathedral precincts, but which had long been destroyed. An order was made in 1723, "that Mr. Hall, the treasurer, doe take due care that the partition be made in the women's ward, in order to keep the debtors from the felons." In 1767 the Clerk of the Peace was directed to apply to the Treasury for the grant of "a certain piece of garden ground, about five acres, lying contiguous to the public gaol of the county, and particularly serviceable to the occupiers thereof for the time being, and also the site and remains of the old castle or citadel of Worcester, which now is and hath long been used as a public gaol or prison and bridewell for the said county," and praying that the grant of the premises be made to the Earl of Plymouth, Lord Coventry, Lord Sandys, Lord Ward, and other magistrates, including the names of Lygon, Rushout, Winnington, and Dowdeswell, "in trust, for the keeping of prisoners and otherwise for the use and benefit of this county." A petition was, however, transmitted to the Lords of the Treasury, by the mayor and aldermen of the city, against the grant of the site of these fortifications to the county magistrates, and the city authorities were successful in the application. This seems to have been the first effort made towards gaol improvement, but the period was near at hand when the outraged laws of health were to vindicate themselves. The Worcester county prison, with several others in the midland counties, in the year 1783, was visited with the fatal gaol distemper, which swept the cells of their inhabitants and[Pg 88] proved fatal to that eminent physician, Dr. Johnstone. At that period I find an order on the book "to apply to the sheriff for his concurrence to fix a temporary gaol, and endeavour by advertisement and otherwise to find one or more proper places for the confinement of felons." Extensive improvements were set on foot, in which the humane system suggested by the philanthropist Howard was introduced, and when the works were finally completed (in 1795) a sum of between £4000 and £5000—a large amount for that period—had been expended. In 1785, William Lygon, Esq., was thanked "for his great trouble in procuring the removal of a number of transports from the county gaol on board the lighters on Thames, whereby the county was saved a considerable expense and the health of the gaol was preserved." About four years afterwards, and while the alterations were still going on, an order was made not to confine any one in the dungeon of the gaol nor to confine any two prisoners in one cell. The spirit of reform, however, was not yet satisfied, for scarcely had the century closed when it was found that the great outlay that had been incurred was useless, and that the establishment was altogether insecure; William Davis, the gaoler, complaining of the escape of certain prisoners; and a "watchman or guard" was decided on. After an unprecedented opposition on the score of expense, and a protracted scene of strife and contention among the magistracy, the Court of Quarter Sessions at length resolved, in the year 1808 (but not till Lord Chief Baron Macdonald had threatened the county with a heavy fine), to build a new gaol in Salt Lane, at a cost of £18,000. The details of these transactions will be found in "Worcestershire in the Nineteenth Century," recently published, the author of which informs us that on the Sunday during or immediately following the Assizes, which used to be known as Assize Sunday, and kept as a great fair,[Pg 89] the keepers at the (old) county gaol were accustomed to show the prisoners through the bars to the curious crowd, and collect money in a boot for pointing out those who were sentenced to be hanged! In 1814 the prisoners were removed to the new gaol; and at the very next Sessions, Mr. Wells, attorney, was requested to apply to Mr. Sandys, the architect, relative to the escape of some prisoners therefrom!! From that time to the present this ill-fated building has seemed destined to an endless sinking of capital, for the trial of new experiments and for remedying the stupidity of bygone architects and committees. About £18,000 was spent on it a dozen years ago, and now (1856) nearly £20,000 has been voted for the same purpose.

The Poor.

When the Monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, the first authorised parochial machinery was established for the relief of the poor and for suppressing vagrancy. An act was passed authorising the head officers of every parish to receive and keep all poor applicants, putting the able-bodied to constant labour. The necessary funds were to be derived from voluntary contributions collected by the officers, and also the proceeds of stimulating sermons in the churches. But the voluntary system proved a failure, and it was left for Elizabeth to introduce the principle of compulsory taxation for this purpose. The statute 43rd Elizabeth, chap. 2, was kept in full operation till the passing of the Poor-law Amendment Act, in 1834. In the time of Elizabeth, cottage building for the poor was an object of great jealousy[Pg 90] to the inhabitants of towns and villages, who dreaded the location of paupers amongst them, and took immense pains to "pass on" any mendicants who happened to stray within their boundary. Officers were usually appointed to "remove intruders," and these knowing "porrochials" would not infrequently offer a bribe when no other means had availed for ejecting the obnoxious tramp from a parish. By an act (31 Eliz.) it was declared that "no cottage should be erected unless there be four acres of ground of their own freehold to be continually used therewith." The operation of this statute was often attended with great 'privation and suffering to the poor, and the Sessions Rolls of this county abound with petitions and memorials to the bench on the subject. In 1612, William Dench, labourer, of Longdon, in his petition, set forth that "being destitute of habitation, and having a wife and seven small children, William Parsons, of Longdon, in charity took him to live in a little sheepcot of his in the said towne, with the consent of the churchwardens and overseers; but because yr poor orator (the usual term for "petitioner") had not licence in open Quarter Sessions, nor under the hands and seals of the lords of the manor, and because the said sheepcot standeth on the freehold of William Parsons, and not on the waste, contrary to the act 43rd Elizabeth, chap. 2, therefore he was indicted and is sued to an outelary (outlawry), petitions for pardon and for a licence to continue in the said sheepcot."

The Worcester County Quarter Sessions, 1660, made an order that all cottages erected since the late war should be "pluckt downe" as a "greate grievance," and that no house-room should be provided for "lusty young married people," who, if they unwisely married before they had got houses, were told to "lye under an oke." A few years previously, one Corbett, a Parliamentary soldier, settled at Brickle[Pg 91]hampton, and purchased half-an-acre of land to build a house upon. The parishioners, it seems, were content, but the lord of the manor refused. On application to the Sessions, leave was granted to build.

Two years later, in consequence of great complaints of the country being much burdened and impoverished, the magistrates ordered that the constables should cause every parish to be surveyed and inspected as to how many cottages (and under what conditions) had been erected during the last forty years. It had also been ordered that every person apprehending a vagrant, and bringing him to a constable or tithingman, should have 12d. a piece for them—this step being considered necessary in consequence of "the great charge of wandering beggars and the efforts made in other counties to reduce them." Many persons were indicted for erecting cottages without having the necessary quantity of land attached; their cottages were pulled down, and all their little substance destroyed. Poor people were driven to herd together, great numbers in one house, or to sleep in sheds and in the open air; and thus a law which was intended to suppress mendicancy resulted in great suffering to the lower classes, and undoubtedly to the engendering of filth, disease, and crime. So scrutinizing were the precautions against a liability to support the poor, that no person who belonged to that unfortunate class could travel out of his parish into another, and accept employment and a lodging there, without a certificate from the churchwardens and overseers of his own parish that in case he should ever require relief they would take him back. The following memorials are sad pictures of poverty and suffering in the seventeenth century:

"The humble petition of the poore distressed towne of Duddeley, most lamentablie complaineth and sheweth unto your good worships that whereas heretofore wee have with our willinge duetie and[Pg 92] bounden service acknowledged our obedience unto his majestie, and in the tyme of God's visitation upon your worships' commande did compassionatelie contribute unto the citie of Worcester, may it now please you that our poore towne havinge greivous experience of sicknesse which hath continued almost for three quarters of an yeare: and our said towne standing principallie on poore handicrafts men: who are much impoverished and now themselves wante ayde who heretofore dyd contribute to the releife of the poorer sorte and likewise wee havinge att this instant seven score children by reason of this sicknesse, who either want father or mother or both and many of these besides divers: in like or greater wante. And for that the same sicknesse doth continewe and suspected to increase unto our farther impoverishment and iminent danger of famishment of many amongst us wee havinge strayned our utmost abilitie for there succour until this instant and not able furthur to sustayne there wants doe most humblie petitionate and beseech your worship to tender our miserie and considerate our neede by collection and contribution within the countie whereby the poore will be comforted and preserved and thus for God's cause. Tendringe our humble suit to the consideration of your mercifull affections, wee in all humilitie remember ye service restinge to protest and confirme the truth hereof at your worships' command.

"(And a number of inhabitants.)

8th of
April, 1616.

"The consideration of this petition is referred to Sir Francis Egiock and Sir Richard Grevys, knights, who are desired to take order therein accordinge to justice."

The following petition is dated 1693:

"The humble petition of ye poore inhabitants of ye Tything of Whistones, humbly showeth, that the said inhabitants, through the greatness of the several taxes and dayley increase of our poore (to whom we pay 4s. per pound) and all manner of provision so excessively dear, by means thereof most of ye contributors to the poore are reduced so low to their very small estates and mean imployments that they are not able to mayntain them aney longer[Pg 93] unless yr worships will be charitably influenced to redress our grievances, wee being the true objects of yr compassionate consideration; your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that yr worships would be favourably pleased to consider our necessitous condition, and either to annex and joine us unto Claynes, being our parish, to which undoubtedly ye said tything is a member and thereunto belongeth, or to order us the hundred money as formerly, or as Parshore, by some adjacent parishes to help us and ease the unsupportable burden which our shoulders have and still groan under, without which timely assistance many of our poor fellow Christians will unavoidably perish and languish through miserable hunger and want."

In the parish records of Claines (now in the churchwardens' chest of that church) an allusion to this petition is entered on one of the account books, to this effect, that upon the complaint of the inhabitants of the hundred of Oswaldslow, of the great burthen of the poor of the Tything of Whistones, alleging that the same township was in the town of Claines, an examination into the facts was intrusted to the Lord Windsor, Sir E. Dineley, and others, when the inhabitants of Claines showed that the township of Whistones was an ancient township, and had "parishtionall officers" to themselves, and was not in the parish of Claines, but anciently had its own church, and that the township was never included in the parish of Claines, and that the poor there had received relief of the hundred from time immemorial—at least from the time of King James—and never from Claines; that it had been questioned in the time of King James, but could never be shown that Claines had paid to their poor. The Court thereupon would not alter proceedings observed for so long a time, and discharged Claines from the said poor, except by paying its share as a part of the said hundred.

Vagrancy—notwithstanding the extraordinary vigilance exercised for its suppression—maintained a flourishing exist[Pg 94]ence. The following is one of the earliest instances of the "begging letter imposture," and a greater specimen of impudence probably was never exhibited by any member of the class who have in our own days become so notorious:

"To the Worshipful Robert Charlton.

"Though I am unknown to you, yet the report of your courteous behaviour towards all gentlemen in distress emboldeneth me to beseech you to take into your favourable consideration the sad condition which I am now in, who for my loyalty to the King was by the great tyrant (Cromwell) banished and sent into the West Indies, where I thought I had shot the very gulfe of affliction, but cominge lately from thence (in a ship bounde for London) was by tempest at sea driven into Wales amongst a salvadge people, who had noe regarde to my misery (although I am become the very object of pittie), soe that in my jorney hither I have tasted of the bitterness of adversitie, for I am in such a nasty ragged posture that I am ashamed to present myself before aney person of quallitie; yet beinge destitute of money to beare my charges to London (or acquaintance in these parts to borrow of), fame of your most noble and generous disposition gives me encouragement to presume upon your goodness, hopeing you will be pleased to accommodate me with a small sum, and if it please God that I ever come into this country againe I will repay it. Moreover you will perpetually oblige him whose ambition is to stile himself

"Your servante,


"Sir,—I am well known to your son, Mr. Job Charlton, and I doubt not but you have heard of me. I am that Seymour who delivered the last letter from his majesty that now is to the late king upon the scaffold, a little before he was murthered, therefore I beseech you let me receive your answer by one of your owne servants, for I am unwilling that aney base peasant should know my condition.

"May 8, 1661."

Another handwriting on the same document records that, "Upon examination of the above-named Seamour I finde nothing of truth in the above letter, neyther that he was[Pg 95] banished by Cromwell, nor that he hath ever been in West Indies, or that he landed in Wales; but this I find that he hath been a wanderer almost all over England, and knoweth most men of any quallitie in the kingdom, and hath changed his name so oft that he hath almost forgot it. It is also reported that he hath one wife at Harford, with another at Bristol"—(the remainder of the document is destroyed).

It appears by another that Seamour informed Mr. Charlton that he had been "the king's tutor and bedfellow for seven years, and had preached the late king's funeral sermon!" The art of impudence could not much further go; and it is probable, by an information being laid at the Sessions, that the fellow received his reward, but the books containing convictions and sentences of that date are not in existence.

In 1698, however, I find on the books that "Wm. Bilson, for wandring abroad with a false letter of request, p'tending a ffire at Icomb, be publicly whipt on Saturday next." Five years later it was "ordered, for the carrying of vagrants, that the constable be allowed 2d. per mile for one horse, and by the same proportion for two or three horses, or if a teame having three or more horses, then to allow them 6d. per mile, and to allow the passengers 5d. per head for their night's lodging and necessaries." In 1714 an order "touching the settlement of Ann Guise" was quashed on the ground of "there being no such place as Leye-Shinton." The magistrates' geographical knowledge must have been somewhat limited if they were unaware of the existence of a place but five miles off. It is probable, however, there was some legal technicality in the matter, and that Leigh Sinton, which is only a hamlet or place in the parish of Leigh, had been represented as a parish of itself, which the bench could not admit. I now give an interesting document relative to the mode of proving a pauper's settlement in 1738:

[Pg 96]

"Upon the appeal of the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the parish of Camden, in the county of Gloucester, to an order of removal of Mary Calcott from the parish of Kingsnorton, in the said county of Worcester, it appeared to this court, upon the examination of the said Mary Calcott, taken upon her oath in court, that the said Mary Calcott was, upon All Saint's Day, in the yeare of our Lord 1735, hired with John Ellis, of Camden, chapman, for a year, to spin with yarn, at the rate of 1s. 6d. a stone, and that she was to provide herself with meat, drink, washing, and lodging, where she pleased, and that she spunn for him the whole year, and lodged in her said master's house, and boarded with him at Camden, and received 1s. 6d. a stone for her work, allowing her master 2s. 6d. per week for her lodging and board. And upon her examination she said that by her said contract as aforesaid she thought she was not at liberty to work for any other master, but she thought she was at liberty to play or be absent from her work as long as she pleased, being to be paid att a certain rate for her work done. Wherfore it is the opinion of this court that the said hyring and service aforesaid was not sufficient to gain for the said Mary Calcott a settlement in the parish of Camden, and this court doth accordingly reverse the said order of removal."

A refusal to serve the office of overseer by a resident of the Cathedral precincts (in the year 1804) may be unknown to the present inhabitants of that locality, to whom it will prove interesting:

"I, Francis Stafford, one of the sextons of the Cathedral Church of Christ and the blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester, do hereby give you and each of you, and all others whom it may concern, notice that I shall appeal to the next general Quarter Sessions of the Peace, to be holden at the Guildhall of the city of Worcester, against the nomination and appointment made by you under your hands and seals, and bearing date July, 1804, whereby you nominated and appointed me by the name and description of 'Francis Stafford, a substantial householder of the vill and hamlet of the precincts of the Cathedral Church of Christ and the blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester, in the county of Worcester, to be overseer of the said vill and hamlet;' and be pleased to take notice, that[Pg 97] the grounds of my appeal are—that the said precincts are not nor never were reputed to be a vill and hamlet, nor a place for which an appointment of overseer is directed by law. And further, that the said precincts are not, nor were, nor at any time have been reputed to be, a vill, village, hamlet, or township, nor a place for which an appointment of overseer is directed by law.

"Witness my hand, &c.,


"T. Dowdeswell, Esq., and
"Henry Salmon, clerk."

The order for the appointment was quashed at the October Sessions of the same year. Exemption from the interruption of the civil powers was what all the great monastic establishments sooner or later obtained, but that of Worcester had a long struggle with the hereditary sheriffs of the county before its immunity from their officers could be obtained. The Reformation introduced great changes, and the precincts of the Cathedral became part of the outer county, but still they remain independent of the city or county interior, being a separate district under the superintendence of the Dean and Chapter.

Social Regulations.

In no one particular does the contrast between the present times and those of which we are treating appear more marked, or the progress of society more decided, than in the interference of the ruling powers of olden times with various descriptions of trades and occupations. There were the assizes or ordinances regulating the price of bread, ale, fuel, and other common necessaries of life; they clipped or expanded servants' and[Pg 98] workmen's wages; prohibited or encouraged by bounties the growth of various articles of consumption; adjusted carriers' charges and the numbers of horses they might use up certain hills; permitted the sale of many things only by license; and otherwise sadly dammed up the current of human progression within their own narrow channel. As regards servants' wages, it would appear that the scale allowed early in the seventeenth century was far from illiberal, for in the year 1613 the authorities of Broadway petitioned "that servants' wages be rated according to the statute in that case, for we find it a great grievance in this county the unreasonableness of servants' wages, so that they have grown proud and idle." The rates for wages for servants and labourers fixed in 1663 were as follows:

£. s. d.
"A bailie of husbandrie by the yeare 4 0 0
A cheife hynde by the yeare 3 6 8
An ordinary husbandman 2 10 0
A laborer by the day without meat and drinke from the feast of All Saints untill Candlemas 0 0 7
And with meate and drinke 0 0 3
After Candlemas vntill harvest without meate and drinke 0 0 8
And with meate and drinke 0 0 4
A mower by the day without meate and drinke 0 1 0
And with meate and drinke 0 0 6
A reaper the like as a mower.
A woman reaper without meate and drinke. 0 0 8
And with meat and drinke 0 0 4
Sawers by the hundred, without meate and drinke 0 2 4
With meate and drinke 0 1 2
A thatcher by the day without meate and drinke 0 1 0
And with meate and drinke 0 0 6
A carpenter by the day without meate and drinke 0 1 0
And with meate and drinke 0 0 6
A mason the like wages as a carpenter
A laborer with a carpenter or a mason by the day without meate and drinke 0 0 10[Pg 99]
A made servant, by the yeare 1 10 0
A dairy maide or cheife maide servant, by the yeare 2 0 0"

In 1731 it was ordered "that printed advertisements be publicly sett upp in all publick places that the wages and rates of servants and labourers be the same as last year, except masons, who are allowed 14d. a day."

The corn trade was an object of special attention. An instance of the great want of agricultural statistics occurs in the year 1631, when the subjoined imperious missive was received by the Worcestershire magistrates from the government officials at Whitehall. This document will probably be considered confirmatory of the experience derived from history—namely, that whether a state undertakes to buy for the people what they may want for their consumption, or regulates the trade by interfering with the supply, it is immaterial as to the result. In either case the people may expect to be starved whenever corn is scarce:

"We cannot but very greatly merveile (marvel) that notwithstanding his Majesty's proclamation and book of orders and the diverse earnest letters of this Board, the price of corne and other graine is risen so high, and the same sold at such excessive rates in many places; neyther can wee conceave how this can be if the directions sent from hence had been duly executed; you are therfore to take notice that wee expect a more careful performance thereof and a more particular account then hath hitherto been given us, and accordingly wee do hereby, in his Majesty's name, expressly charge you to cause presently a diligent and exact survey to be made through all that county, what provisions of graine there is, and to returne to this Board a certificate thereof with all expedition, and likewise to see the markets well served according to the orders, and not forestalled by greedy engrossers, to the intollerable wrong and prejudice of those that are to buy, especially of the poorer sort. You are likewise to use your best care and endeavour that during the continuance of this present dearth the[Pg 100] maltsters be not permitted to make any greater quantities of malt than may be sufficient for necessary use; that soe there may be more plenty of barley for the reliefe of the poore; and soe wee bid you hartily farewell.

(Signed by) "LONDON. "H. MANCHESTER.

In 1715 it was ordered "that Richard Carwardine, of Castle Morton, have a licence to be a comon badger of corne for one year;" and in 1732, "that Thomas Wadley, of Hanley Castle, have a licence granted him to be a common badger, buyer, seller, and carrier, of all sorts of corn and grain in any fair or market within this kingdom of England, so that the same continue in force but for one year from the date hereof and no longer." These badgers of corn were persons who bought corn to sell again. By the statute 5th Elizabeth, chap. 12, they were compelled to take out an annual licence from the Quarter Sessions. At the present time, persons who go round to the farms and cottages in the neighbourhood of Monmouth to buy poultry and bring it for sale to the market at Monmouth are called "badgers."

In pursuance of an act passed in 1769, weekly returns of the prices of wheat, rye, barley, oats, and beans, were ordered from Bewdley, Kidderminster, Stourbridge, Dudley, and Bromsgrove; and the following persons were instructed to furnish such returns: Timothy Clare, stationer, Bewdley; John Fawcett, weaver, Kidderminster; Robert West, stationer, Stourbridge; Oliver Dixon, mercer, Dudley; and George Wall, skinner, Bromsgrove.

Towards the close of the same century many convictions took place "for selling loaves of bread without imprinting on them the letter W in Roman capital, the said loaves not[Pg 101] being rasped either before or after the bespeaking or purchasing thereof, against the form of the statute." Ordered (in 1710) "that Wm. Dimock, of Bishampton, have a licence for a comon higler, lader, kedder, carrier, buyer, and seller, of hens, chickens, capons, eggs, butter, cheese, ffish, and all other dead vittualls, except pheasants, hares, and partridges." The Clerk of the Peace was instructed in 1730 "to give notice by public advertisement in the Worcester newspaper for all carriers in the said county to attend this Court at the adjourned Sessions, in order to settle the price of carriages, according to the form of the statute in that case made and provided." It was likewise ordered "that no common waggoner or carrier shall take for carrying any goods to or from Bewdley to London the sum of more than 7s. per cwt. till further order." And in 1752, "that every waggon or other carriage drawn up from the signe of the White Hart, Broadway, to the top of the hill, so far as in the county of Worcester, may be drawn with ten horses if the owner shall think proper." Ditto, up the Malvern Hill, with seven. Tolerably suggestive this of queer roads and stiff gradients. The rates of carriage to be charged by carriers were fixed by the Quarter Sessions under the statute 3rd William and Mary, chap. 12, sec. 24, and the number of horses by which carts and waggons were to be drawn was regulated by the statute 5th George I, chap. 12.

Large quantities of salt were from time to time lost in the Severn, as the vessels laden with that commodity were making their way down the river from Worcester, owing to strong tides and violent winds; and the rolls record frequent applications to the Court "for certificates to entitle them (the owners) to such allowance as the act of Parliament permits." These allowances were no doubt the return of a part or the whole of the very heavy duty then levied on salt.

[Pg 102]

By the 21st George III, chap. 58, and 26th George III, chap. 43, certain bounties were offered for the cultivation of hemp and flax. Nevertheless, England has never grown a sufficient quantity for its own consumption, farmers not regarding it with favour, owing to the supposed exhaustive nature of the crop. In Worcestershire, for 1782 and some following years, claims were made (and allowed by Quarter Sessions) for these bounties, by—

[Pg 103]

From 1787 to 1792 the Worcestershire claims for flax bounty amounted to £79. 8s. 10d., and these were allowed.

Tobacco also was an article of which the Court of Quarter Sessions took cognisance, and some interesting particulars relative to the growth and suppression of "the weed" in Worcestershire will be found in another part of this work.

In the year 1670 the grand jury presented Henry Sandalls, bailiff of Bewdley, "who hath toll of the market, for upholding unjust measures;" Elias Arch, bailiff of Kidderminster, ditto; Thomas Foley, Esq., "who receives the benefit of the toll of Stourbridge, for not providing a brass measure according to act of Parliament, and for not making the measures of the town according to the same; and that the justices do take into consideration the great abuse that the people of this county which resort to this city of Worcester to market do receive by unjustness of the measures, and by the jogging and shaking of the same;" and suggesting various rewards for the capture of several known offenders.

About the year 1747 a terrible distemper broke out amongst horned cattle, which all the vigilance of the authorities could not prevent from spreading. The Worcestershire Bench first ordered "that 4s. per week be allowed to the several turnpikes where it shall be thought necessary in order to have a man sitt up every night to watch the sayd turnpikes, that no horned cattle be permitted to goe through the sayd turnpikes without propper certificates be first showne, and surveyors of the severall turnpikes to appoint propper persons to watch at the said turnpikes, the expense to be paid by the county."[Pg 104] Next year it was ordered "that Grey Devy, of Kingswinford, be appointed inspector for the hundred of Halfshire in relation to infected cattle, to take care that no infected cattle be brought into any parish of the said hundred, and persue the order of counsel made for preventing the spreading the infection amongst the horned cattle; and to be allowed 7s. a week till further order." In 1750 the distemper still raged, especially in the adjoining county of Salop, and the magistrates licensed "Edmund Lechmere, of Hanley Castle, Esq., to buy and sell cattle at any fair, market, or place, where the buying or selling of cattle is not prohibited, and to drive, sell, or dispose of them, at any other fair, market, or place, as aforesaid, tho' he shall not have obtained the certificate directed by the said court, the said Edmund Lechmere having entered into a recognizance with two suretys, according to the directions of the said act" (of the previous Session). Many other similar licenses were afterwards granted, and the constables were ordered to prevent all persons not having such licenses from driving cattle to fairs, nor was any person allowed to bring cattle into the county without a certificate of their freedom from disease. The Clerk of the Peace was also ordered to procure 600 copies of an abstract of a certain treatise on the distemper, with a prescribed method of cure, by an eminent physician in Worcester, and distribute them to the chief constables and inspectors in this and the adjoining counties of Salop and Warwick. The cordon sanitaire was relaxed in 1751, but the following year the distemper broke out in this county with great severity, and vigilance was again renewed. A meeting having been advertised for buying and selling cattle at Beoley, the Sessions ordered that the meeting be prohibited, the distemper being at Kingsnorton, and that it be advertised in the Worcester and Birmingham journals, and notice given in Beoley church. It was not till July,[Pg 105] 1756, that the distemper entirely abated, and all orders were rescinded.

The Church and the People.

"Three strangers blaze amidst the bonfire's revel:
The Pope, and the Pretender, and the Devil.
Three strangers hate our faith and faith's defender:
The Devil, and the Pope, and the Pretender.
The strangers will be strangers long, we hope:
The Devil, and the Pretender, and the Pope.
Thus in three rhymes three strangers dance the hay,
And he that chooses to dance after them may."

We now come to a class of items chiefly connected with ecclesiastical control over matters both secular and religious—instances of the exercise of power by the Church for the punishment of offenders against her discipline. Every reader of history is acquainted with the force and effect of excommunication in the middle ages. By a sentence of excommunication, both greater and less, the victims were excluded from the right of Christian burial, from bringing or maintaining actions, from becoming attorneys or jurymen, and were rendered incapable of becoming witnesses in any cause. Long before the Reformation the frequency and abuse of this ecclesiastical weapon proved both a scandal and a disadvantage to the Church, by bringing the practice in some degree into contempt; and in the thirteenth century many applications were made to the king complaining of the resistance of excommunicated offenders who defied the utmost that the Church could do to reduce them to submission. In 1289, John, vicar of Feckenham, was excommunicated by Godfrey, Bishop of Worcester, who appealed in the[Pg 106] same manner for secular aid. When the nation reformed its religion, the power of excommunication was still retained by the Church, and is in force even to the present day, although modified by the 53rd of George III, chap. 127, which restricts the maximum term of imprisonment in all such cases to six months. (See more on this subject under the head of St. Nicholas' parish.) Obstinately refusing to attend divine service in the parish church, incontinency, contumacy in not appearing when cited in the Consistory Court, brawling, and scolding—these were the principal offences for the punishment of which the Church most frequently put forth her power, as also on Quakers and Popish recusants.

I am sorry to be compelled to state that the first example occurring in these rolls is that of a female scold. In 1614, Margaret, wife of John Bache, of Chaddesley, was presented to the Sessions as "a comon skould and a sower of strife and disorder amongste her neyghboures, and hath bynn presented for a skoulde at the leete houlden for the manour of Chadsley, and for misbehavyng her tonge towards her mother-in-law at a vysytacon (visitation) at Bromsgrove, April 29, 1603, and was excommunicated therefore." In 1617, one Elinor Nichols was presented "as a great scold and mischief maker, who is said to have been excommunicated and had never applied to make her peace with the Church." The usual mode of punishing this class of offenders was, however, by the cucking-stool. A valued correspondent, in commenting upon the details of the gum-stool, or cucking-stool, and other punishments mentioned at pages 110 and 111 of "Worcester in Olden Times" (in which an engraving is given of a curious instrument of torture still hanging on the wall of Worcester Guildhall), says—

"The gum-stool is evidently the cucking-stool, though it never occurred to me that Cooking Street was really Cucking Street, and[Pg 107] had had its name spelt Cucken in old maps, as you state. The term cuckold-stool is inaccurate, as this punishment is for scolding to the common nuisance of the neighbourhood, and has no reference to conjugal infidelity. The cucking-stool is the legal punishment of the criminal offence of scolding; and if a woman had been indicted and convicted of this offence at the last Assizes, the learned judge must have sentenced her to the cucking-stool. The common scold (Communis Rixatrix)—for the law confines it to the feminine gender—is a public nuisance to her neighbourhood, and may be indicted for the offence, and upon conviction punished by being placed on a certain engine of correction called the trebucket, or cucking-stool; and she may be convicted without setting forth the particulars in the indictment, though the offence must be set forth in technical words and with convenient certainty; and the indictment must conclude not only against the peace but to the common nuisance of her majesty's liege subjects. It is not necessary to give in evidence the particular expressions used: it is sufficient to prove generally that the defendant is always scolding. The skimmington is a mock procession got up in derision of a woman who has beaten her husband. You will find it in Hudibras. When a boy, I saw a skimmington, and in it a man dressed in woman's clothes, who rode on horseback behind a stuffed figure of a man, carrying a ladle, with which the supposed woman kept beating the stuffed figure about the head. This, too, has no reference to conjugal infidelity. But in Wilts and Berks there is a mock procession that does relate to conjugal infidelity; but this is called a 'Woosset,' which is pronounced 'Oosset'. It is a rough band followed by a person bearing a long pole, with a cross-bar across it, on which is placed a shirt, and at the top of the pole is a horse's skull with a pair of bull's horns attached to it. This I have also seen. I have omitted to mention that cucking-stools were of two kinds—the one fixed, the other moveable. That mentioned in 'Worcester in the Olden Times' (p. 110), must have been of the latter kind. A lithograph of each is in No. 1 of the Magazine of the Wilts Archæological Society. The bridle for scolds still exists in several places; there is one in the Ashmolœan Museum at Oxford; another was in the magistrates' room at Shrewsbury, but has been stolen within the last few years; one is figured in one of the volumes of the Penny Magazine, under the title 'Obsolete Punishments,' and another in Plott's 'Stafford[Pg 108]shire;' but it is very remarkable that though so commonly seen, these bridles, called 'Branks,' are nowhere mentioned in our law books, though cucking-stools always are whenever the offence of scolding is treated of or referred to."

But to return to ecclesiastical matters. In the year 1620, Robert Lucy, of Droitwich, was ordered to appear before the Sessions Court "for killinge of fleshe this Lent." By the statutes 2nd and 3rd Edward VI, chap. 19, and 5th Elizabeth, chap. 5 (an act for maintenance of the navy), the eating of flesh in Lent is prohibited under penalties; but I know of no statute which inflicts any penalty on butchers for killing in Lent.

The Sessions rolls contain some sad pictures of clerical misbehaviour in the seventeenth century—a period when the clergy, as a body, had become a plebeian class, when (as Macaulay assures us) "for one who made the figure of a gentleman, ten were mere menial servants," many of the ejected ministers during the domination of the Puritans obtaining bread and shelter only by attaching themselves to the households of royalist gentlemen. The truth of the observation (see Blount's "Reformation"), that "an indigent church makes a corrupt and canting clergy," is apparent from the history of those times. In 1628, articles were exhibited against the Rev. Henry Hunt, of Defford, "that he is a malicious and contentious person and useth scandalous speeches without regard to time or place, but even in the church, sometimes before and sometimes after divine service, hath been known to break out into violent swearing before he came forth of the pulpit, taunting and reviling Rd. Damanne, and throwing stones at him in the field to provoke him to strike him, and threatening to make him so poor with suits that he should be glad to sell his mortuary for 2d.;" also that he swore falsely at Worcester Assizes.[Pg 109] "His mortuary" here evidently means the amount of property that he would die worth. In some parishes a sum of 10s. is still payable to the rectors or vicars on the death of each householder in the parish who dies worth £40. This is called "a mortuary." The Rev. William Hollington, of Alvechurch, was in 1641 reported as "a frequenter of alehouses, where he spendeth much time both day and night, as well upon the Saboth as other week dayes in idle and riotous company, in excessive drinking, and is a causer of much drunkenness by procuring and persuading and enforcing others to the drinking of whole cupes. He hath often drawn idle company to his own house, where they have sent for much ale, and there abusefully have spent in drunkness, quarrelling, and fighting. He is greatly defamed of incontinensie with his neighbours' wives, and one of them hath confest he did attempt her chastity, affirminge him to be as bad as Bankes his predecessor, who to prevent punishment for his unchast and incestuous living run away. That he dayley frequenteth houses much suspected of lewdnes, often accompanied with a dangerous armed Papist of idle behaviour, and assisted by him hath in the open street given out rayling and threatning words against his neighbours, calling them knaves and partisans, and hath affirmed they were not Papists that rebelled in Ireland, and that Papists were noe rebbles but honester men than Protestants. He hath been a hindrance of the taking of the protestation, and doth omit the words in the reading of the remonstrance 'and have cutt all theire throates,' to the end to obscure from the people the greatness of the danger the House of Commons was in as it is conceived in favour of the other side. A constable coming to him in execution of his office to deliver the protestations of such as were then and there present to take it, he gave him many reproachful wordes, calling him knave, blockhead, loggerhead.[Pg 110] He is a curser and swearer, a nefarious pintious lyer, and a contentious person. He stirred up and mayntained many shutes (suits) and much trouble in the neighbourhood, hath sided and counselled with the old churchwarden to the detayning of goods and money due to the church, and threatned aney that durst question it. He hath laboured to hinder justice and to countenance delinquents, is a quarreller and fighter. He advised and aided in stealing away a widdowes daughter, the only child of his neer neighbour, not above fourteen years old, and marying her to John Price, a rude boy of idle behaviour, and noe good cloths to his back, though the friends of the girl could have made her portion £200, and hath never been heard to put up one prayer either for the Parliament or for distressed Protestants in the kingdom of Irelande except on particular times, and then it was with the limitation 'if soe that they be of the same religion as wee are on.'"

It is difficult adequately to estimate the injurious effects to society of such examples set on the part of the clergy. The judicious Hooker observes that "the examples of clergy and great men are important, as being seen afar off, like cities set on the tops of hills; but mean men's actions are not greatly inquired into except by those who live at the next door."

During the Commonwealth and the reign of Charles II, as may be expected, the religious disputes and ill-feeling existing between the Established Church and the various sects that snarled and whined and canted in the racy language of the time, are fully exhibited in these records, of which I shall give some instances. In 1654, Edward Sheldon and Nicholas Hill deposed "that upon the 20th day of August the deponents were objecting against one Mr. Spilsbury, who desired to be minister of Bromsgrove, that he had a low voyce; one Humphrey Potter then answered that if he had a low voice[Pg 111] he had a true voice; unto which Mr. Joseph Amige, now minister of Bromsgrove (as these deponents conceiveth) answered and sayd, 'Soe have I;' unto whom the said Potter replied, 'Noe, for you have tould lies in the pulpit,' or words to that effect." Here is another curious specimen of the times: In 1656 the jury presented that Thomas Goslinge, late of Bredon, yeoman, on the 11th November, 1656, at Bredon, of purpose to defame, disgrace, and provoke one Richard Beeston, a pious and godly minister and preacher of the word of God, and to disturb the peace, certain false, seditious, scandalous, and provoking English words did put into meeter or verse, and the same as a libell did openly, maliciously, and of purpose to provoke and disgrace the said Richard Beeston, in the presence and hearing of divers honeste people of the commonwealth of Englande, with a loud voice did saye and singe—that is to saye:

"Here comes Mr. Beeston,
The man wee nere wiston,
As high as the pulpitt topp;
And to his disgrace,
With his impudent face,
To reape another man's cropp."

Roger of Wendover tells of a party, who profanely interrupted divine service, being made to dance in the churchyard for twelve months, without the power of stopping their limbs. But it seems that the fear of supernatural punishment did not deter the brawlers of the seventeenth century. When Dr. Thomas (afterwards Bishop of Worcester) was vicar of Loughern, about the year 1644, a party of Parliament horse went to that place, and inquired whether that popish priest, Mr. Thomas, was still there, and whether he continued reading the liturgy and praying for the Queen; one of them adding, that he would go to church next Sunday, and if Mr. Thomas[Pg 112] persevered in praying for that drab of the w—— of Babylon he would certainly pistol him. That good man, however, was not to be intimidated: he performed the usual service, and while praying for the Queen, one of the soldiers, who sat in the next pew to him, snatched the book out of his hand and threw it at his head. The preacher bore it with composure, but the soldier, it is said, was instantly seized with such compunction that his comrades were forced to carry him away. At the Midsummer Sessions of 1660 a deposition was made, that "on the 17th of June, being ye last Saboth daye, Jeremiah Hewes, servant of Mr. Bishops of Lindridge, spoke of Mr. Giles base lascivious words, for he said yt he preached in ye church nothing but lyes, and furthermore he called him ould munkke (monk) and he said ye ould monkke preached in ye forenoon, and his sunn, ye yonge munkker, did endeavour to mend it in ye afternoone; and he said he would never heere him preach again, for if he were in ye church he would goe forthe. Mr. Gyles gave a tuch concerning maypoles—what rudnes is ust (used) to be abought such games, and he wisht he had his beard to make him a flaye (?) yt he might be one of ye fore leaders; and furthermore, my brother Edward tould him yt these words did deserve ye good behaviour (recognizance to keep the peace); and he said again he did not care for never a justice's warrant in ye countie, for he saith they are all turncootes." In 1665, Edward Mutchett, of Norton-juxta-Bredon, informed against Richard Hunt, that he heard him say in his prayers "Downe with this King of Babylon, this Poperye, and this idolatrous wayes as is now sett upp, and that they may not touch Thy anointed."

The Quakers of the seventeenth century, it is pretty well known, were not the mild and gentle beings who compose the ranks of the Friends in the nineteenth. They could rail and brawl in public, would persist in following their trades on a[Pg 113] Sunday, and their resistance to the "powers that be" was of a much more active character than that which induces a modern Friend to allow a rate-collector to seize on his tables and chairs. The Quakers met with severer treatment during the Commonwealth than any other sect of Christians. We trace them obscurely under the denomination of "Seekers," their distinguishing principle being the doctrine of an inward light. George Fox, their founder, having bade some of the justices who committed him to jail to tremble at the word of the Lord, gave rise to the term "Quakers." In this city and county they were apparently pursued with great severity after the restoration of "Church and King," which undoubtedly had the usual effect of considerably sharpening their asperity towards the established faith. In the city, they were prevented entering their meeting-house (in Friar Street), and accordingly preached in the open air, while soldiers were paid for watching them. George Fox himself was confined in Worcester jail. In an ancient library at Kingsnorton School, there are treatises against the then recently propounded notions of the Quakers. The subjoined extract will show that maypoles and long hair were not the only troubles the poor vicar of that parish had to contend against. It is taken from "Besse's Sufferings of the Quakers," vol. ii, chap. iii, p. 60, under date 1657. "Jane Hicks, of Chadwitch, was sent to prison at Worcester for some offence which the priest of King's Norton took at her speaking to him." The same writer also states that at another time she was sent to Worcester for disturbing at Bromsgrove church, and that she was placed four times in the stocks—once for a whole night and part of two days. The woman would thus seem to have been a notorious disturber; and doubtless her "speaking" to the "priest" was in the church at the time of worship—a very common custom with the Friends of that day. Viewed[Pg 114] in this light the vicar's conduct was proper, and was a necessary precaution against unseemly interruptions. The books of the above-named library, thus viewed, become interesting to us. They are evidence in the great Quaker battle, and no doubt poor Jane Hicks was stirred up with wrath by hearing some of the arguments out of this storehouse hurled at her then noisy sect. When John Bissell, also in 1657, refused to pay the "priest" ten shillings tithe, and had "goods taken from him worth £1. 5s.," no doubt these identical volumes were at hand ready to pour forth their artillery against the poor Quaker.[3] In the County Rolls for 1662 is "A calendar of the prisoners called Quakers: Rd. Payton, convicted de premunire; Edwd. Hall, convicted for words spoken in open court, fined £5, and committed till payed; Henry Gibbs, Wm. Collins, Wm. Webb, Robert Baylis, Rd. Walker alias Weaver, Jos. Walker, Rd. Bennet, Wm. Eades, Stephen Pitway, committed the 2nd of January, 1662, for having lately assembled themselves under the pretence of joyning in a religious worship, to the great endangering of the publique peace and safetye, and to the terrour of the people in severall places of this county." In 1666 the following Quakers were "taken at a conventicle and committed by Thomas Wilde, Esq.:" Wm. Pitt, Richard Fydo, Abra. Roberts, Rich. Lewis, Edward Lewis, Edward Staunton, John Wright, Alexander Berdslye, Tho. Fitrale, and John Hoskins. Next year (1667) the gaoler's list of prisoners then in gaol included the following:

[3] This notice of Kingsnorton Library is taken from an article in "Aris's Birmingham Gazette."

"Thomas Payton, late of Dudley, taylor, a p'fessed Quaker, taken at a conventicle of Quakers in the said towne of Dudley, a place much infested with Quakers and disorderlie p'sons, and comitted to ye gaole 10th July, xiiii Caroli, and being a stubborn and incorigible p'son, was at ye next Sessions following tendred the oathe of alle[Pg 115]giance, which he refused to take, was indicted, and convicted of premunire. Thomas Feckenham, another leader of the same sect, was likewise apprehended about three years since, and tendred ye oathe of allegiance, and beinge still obstinate and p'verse, hath been continued a prisoner, but with some liberty now and then extended towards him, which kindness hath not as yet wrought any conformitie or submission in him. John Jenkins and William Bardoe, Quakers, excommunicated in ye consistory of Hereford, and taken by a writ De Excom. Capiend. about a year since. John Roberts, of Droitwich, p'fessed Quaker, for using his trade and calling on ye Sunday or Lord's Day, was likewise presented and excommunicated a year ago. John Tombs, of Droitwich, for the like offence, and for refusing to permit the sacred ordinance of Baptism to be administered to his children, likewise excommunicated, and taken up by the like writ. Job Allibone and William Hodges, for the same offence and refusing to come to church. All which persons soe committed are, by the overmuch indulgence of the late sheriff, under-sheriff, and gaoler, permitted to goe at liberty about their occasions, which we consider doth encourage them to persist in their contemptuous and incorrigible behaviour; and they are not to be found in prison unless for about an houre or a night once in six or eight weeks time."

This report of the state of Quakerism, it seems, was occasioned by a request from the Government that the magistrates should inquire into the subject, and furnish the names of the Quakers then in prison, and whether they were ringleaders or had been seduced into the commission of offence by others. In the chapter on the records of St. Helen's church, Worcester, in the earlier part of this work, it will be observed that the penalties paid by Quakers were converted into a charitable fund for the poor.

The William Pardoe, mentioned above, was probably the individual who was said to have been the pastor of a Baptist congregation at Worcester, where he continued in jail nearly seven years, and died in this city in 1692. A MS. account of his labours, travellings, and writings, was said to have been at Leominster not many years ago. Is it still in[Pg 116] existence? Mr. Pardoe was excommunicated, and was buried in a garden at Lowesmoor, near Worcester, where his body, with that of his wife, was discovered some forty or fifty years ago while digging for the purpose of building. The bodies were not disturbed, and a stone was erected to their memory. I am not aware that this still remains.

We now arrive at something more stirring, and may have an interesting peep at a conventicle of "Fifth Monarchy Men" at Oldbury. This sect of religionists had for their distinguishing tenet a belief in the establishment of a fifth universal monarchy, of which Christ was to be the head; while the "saints," under his personal sovereignty, should possess the earth. They appeared in England towards the close of the Protectorate; and in 1660, a few months after the Restoration, they broke out into a serious tumult in London under their leader Venner; many of them lost their lives, some killed by the military, and others executed. In the country the sect continued for some years later. At the concluding Worcestershire Sessions of 1667, one William Cardale deposed that on the 1st of September in that year he took his wife to Oldbury to see her sister, Edward Nightingale's wife, who was lying-in; and after dinner, he being inclined to fall asleep, his brother-in-law asked him to go for a walk; they accordingly went to Oldbury chapel, which they found full of people. After a psalm had been led, the preacher, who was a stranger to him, "made a very strange prayer, praying neither for king, queen, royal familie, nor clergie," and a still stranger sermon followed, from the text "Thy kingdom come," "his doctrine beinge, that Christ hath a kingdome of rewarde for his sufferinge and workinge servants, which in his good time he would possess them, and we ought to pray for;" and he attempted to prove, from the Revelations, Daniel, and other mystical writings, that the aforesaid[Pg 117] kingdom was to be on earth. "On the preacher proposing to show when this kingdom was to come, an alarm of soldiers was given, a horse was soon got ready for him, and throwing off his gown and perriwig, he appeared in a grey coat, and speedily worked his way through the crowd and made off." A soldier, named William Perrott, deposed that by command of his officer, Major Wilde, he with others was sent to apprehend this preacher, whose name was Steele, alias Fraser, a Nonconformist; and on arriving at Oldbury chapel they found about 2000 persons there. When the preacher had disappeared, Perrott with two others secured the doors of the chapel; shortly after which some of the congregation "looked out of the windows to see whether any more soldiers appeared, and observing none, they presently swore that three or four were not able to keepe so manye prisoners. Forthwith thereupon they broke open the doors upon us, and layd hold upon my haire, my pistolls, and cloake, and gave me severall blowes upon my head and bodye, and likewise of those soldiers that were present with me. They alsoe forced one of my pistolls out of my hande, and alsoe broake Mr. Hambden's man's pistoll about our heads. After the rest of our partye of horse appeared, most of them runn from us. Some few were took. Alsoe I observed a great many of benches as I supposed newly set upp about ye chapel to receive ye company." What became of the unfortunate prophesier of the coming kingdom doth not appear.

In the year 1669, Thomas Willmot, vicar of Bromsgrove, laid an information at the Sessions to the effect that, "being ready to attend his duty at the funeral of Jane, the wife of John Eckols, was by a tumult of Anabaptists affronted and disturbed whilst I was reading the service. They no sooner came to the grave but irreverently threw the corps thereinto, and having their hats on their heads, immediately, contrary[Pg 118] to the orders of the Church, without the least respect to the service of the same, and without either clerk or sexton, with their feete caste in the mold and covered the corps. Amongst which tumult there was one Henry Waldron, who entring into the belman's house without his leave, took away his spade, wherewith John Price, contrary to all civility and decency, notwithstanding he was checked by the minister, with his head covered, persisted to throwe the mold in the aforesaid grave."

The last instance of open disaffection to the church service which is worth a place in this record occurs in 1692, when an information was laid against Michael Bisset, of Feckenham. It appeared that Richard Bond and one Foster having publicly praised a sermon delivered in Feckenham church by a parson named Millard, Bissett swore by God's wounds (a common oath in those days) "That there was never a true word in the same sermon, and that it was all nought and false, and that it would have been a good deede to have sett him downe out of the pulpit with a bowe and bolte (meaning the said preacher), and that he could go down in the meadows and hear as good a sermon under a hedge." Bolt is a short arrow shot from a cross-bow. Hence the saying, "A fool's bolt is soon shot." There are several specimens of these bows and bolts at Goodrich Castle.

The Toleration Act of William III gave immunity to all Protestant Dissenters, except those who denied the Trinity, from the penal laws to which they had been subjected. In the Sessions' order book, date 1696, is a "Mem. That the persons under-named in open Court of Sessions did take the oaths mentioned and appointed to be taken in and by an Act made Anno primo Willi et Marie, entitled 'An Act for abrogating of the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and appointing other oaths;' and also made and subscribed the[Pg 119] declaration appointed to be made and subscribed in and by an Act made Anno 25 Caroli Secundi, entitled 'An Act for preventing dangers which may happen from Popish recusants,' according to an Act made Annis 7 et Willi tertii Regis, entitled 'An Act requiring the practicers of the law to take the oaths and subscribe the declarations therein mentioned.'" The following are the names of the subscribers in this county:

  • John Soley, Esq.
  • Charles Cocks, Esq.
  • Richard Nanfan,
  • Henry Toye,
  • Thomas Parker,
  • Joshua Bradley,
  • Richard Cowcher,
  • John Yarranton,
  • Richard Teynton,
  • John Ffownes,
  • Edwyn Eyre,
  • Robert Bird,
  • Thomas Partington,
  • Samuel Grove,
  • Thomas Hayward,
  • Thomas Hart,
  • William Cardale,
  • Epaphroditus Bagnall,
  • William Hart,
  • Richard Norbury,
  • Henry Hodges,
  • Richard Herbert,
  • Thomas Oliver,
  • Edmund Rose,
22 Maii, 1696.
  • Samuel Hunt,
  • Edward Walker, Advocate,
  • John Price,
  • William Bowkey,
  • Henry Philpott,
  • Edward Hallen,
  • Thomas Millward,
  • Edward Dyson,
  • Godman Atwood,
  • Anthony Ashfield,
  • James Gilbert,
  • John Morris,
  • Robert Parr,
  • Henry Prescott,
  • Edward Walker, jun.,
  • James Nash,
Die eadem—the same time the persons under-named subscribed the association:[Pg 120]
  • Richard Norbury,
  • Anthony Ashfield,
  • James Gilbert,
  • John Morris,
  • Robert Parr,
  • Henry Prescott,
  • Edward Walker, jun.
  • Godman Atwood,
  • Thomas Milward,
  • Edward Hallen,
  • Henry Philpott,
  • John Price,
  • Edward Walker, Advocate,
  • William Bowkey,
  • Samuel Hunt,

An explanation is necessary with regard to "signing the association," as stated above. In Harris's Life of William III, p. 143, under the date of 1688, it is stated that after the arrival of the gentlemen of Somerset and Dorsetshire, at Exeter, "Sir Edward Seymour asked Dr. Burnet 'Why they had not got an association, without which they were only a rope of sand, and none would think themselves bound to stick to them.' The Doctor told him 'It was for want of a man of his authority and credit to support such an advice.'" He then proposed it to the Prince, who, with the Earl of Shrewsbury and all present, approved the motion. Accordingly the Doctor did urge an association, containing "a solemn engagement firmly to adhere together in pursuance of the ends of the Prince's declaration, and in defence thereof, and never to depart from it till the religion, laws, and liberties of the people should be secured by a free Parliament; and if any attempt should be made on the person of the Prince, that it should be revenged on all by whom any such attempt should be made." This association was speedily signed there and in other places, particularly by many in the University of Oxford. Lord Herbert of Cherbury, and the principal gentlemen of Worcestershire and Herefordshire, met at Worcester, and declared for the Prince of Orange, when Sir Walter Blount and the Sheriff of Worcestershire were sent prisoners to Ludlow Castle. The declaration, I presume, continued to be signed for several subsequent years.

[Pg 121]

In the Summer Sessions of the same year "the persons under-named did take the oaths and made and subscribed the declaration of 30 Car. II:"

The persons next following did take the oaths and subscribe the declaration of 25 Car. II:

[Pg 122]

The persons under-named did sign the Association:

[Pg 123]

And divers others put the roll.

[Pg 124]

The only remaining noticeable item affecting Nonconformity is an order made in or about the year 1716, "that an indenture of apprenticeship made between John Cookes and his master, Samuel Gill, be discharged and set aside, it appearing to this court that the master gave his said apprentice imoderate correccon and alsoe employing him in another trade, viz., plateing of gunn barrells and obligeing him to goe to the Presbyterian meeting." It may be stated, in concluding this chapter, that the law enforcing attendance at the parish church on Sunday was not abolished till 1846. Other notes on Nonconformity will be found in this volume.

Dissenting Chapels and Meeting Houses.

In the first year of William and Mary an act was passed "For exempting Protestant Dissenters from penalties of certain laws, on condition only that meeting-houses should be certified to the Bishop or Archdeacon or Justices at Quarter Sessions." In 1693 (the first year of the Sessions order book) "The wallhouse in the parish of Hanbury, and in the possession of Dame Ann Rouse," was certified to be "a meeting-house according to ye new Act of Parliament." Also "a house adjoining the foldyard of Mr. Blick, at Bromsgrove." 1695. The house of Henry Hanson, of Grafton Flyford, a place for religious worship. 1696. The house of John Emes, Bishampton, a meeting-house for dissenting Protestants. 1697. The house of John Scott, of Stourbridge, and the house of William[Pg 125] Dugard, of Dodderhill. 1700. The house of Humfrey Potter, of Bromsgrove. 1702. Samuel Windle (place of residence not stated) "upon petition is allowed to have ye word of God preached in his house;" and a house at Dudley licensed on the petition of John Stokes. 1703. Ordered that "The house of Peter Payton, at Tenbury, be set apart for the worship of God for dissenters from ye church, according to the prayer of a petition for ye p'pose." 1704. The house of Mary Greene, widow, in Little Witley, called the New-house; and the house of John Sparry, at Belbroughton. 1705. Dwelling-houses of Henry Hunt, Cradley; James Thompson and William Tilt, Bromsgrove; Thomas Taylor, Hartlebury; and John Taylor, Chaddesley. 1715. House of Samuel Cater, Stourbridge; and of Jos. Harrison, Thomas Reynolds, John Reynolds, Mary Payton, and Arthur Radnall, of Bewdley; also that of John Carpenter, jun., Bromsgrove. 1720. The house of Richard Windle, Inkberrow. 1723. The house of Ann Thomas, of Pershore, "licensed for Anabaptists." 1733. House of John Harris, of Birlingham; and "a newly-erected house at Upton mentioned in the certificate of R. Baskerville and Thomas Skey;" also "the house at Bewdley wherein Thomas Watson and William Carter now dwell." 1735. Ordered, "That the barn and court-yard thereto belonging, now in the occupation of John Williams, at Tenbury, be licensed for Quakers." 1744. The house of Thomas Baker, at Himbleton, licensed for Baptists; and that of William Sadler, at Halesowen, for ditto. 1757. House of Joshua Kettleby, Church Street, Kidderminster, for Anabaptists; and in 1760, that of James Hill Baker, Black Star Street, Kidderminster, for Presbyterians. 1773. A tenement at Bartley Green, Northfield, licensed for dissenters; and a building in the occupation of G. Parsons, Mill Street, Stourbridge; also "a chapel lately erected in the hamlet of[Pg 126] Westencot, Bredon, certified as a place of religious worship for Baptists." 1787. The house of John Harwood, of Moseley, licensed for Baptists; and one at Birmingham occupied by Benjamin Bedford, for Protestant dissenters; also the house of William Purser, at Welland; a Baptist meeting-house in New Street, Dudley; and a building in Mill Street, Evesham. In the year 1791, Robert Berkeley of Spetchley, T. Hornyold the younger of Blackmore Park, John Baynham of Purshall Hall, clerk, Thomas Parker of Heath Green, Beoley, and Mary Williams, of Little Malvern, subscribed certificates that they had set apart rooms in their respective houses for Roman Catholic worship. 1792. A building in Gilson's Lane, Blockley, certified for dissenters. 1796. Andrew Robinson, clerk, of Grafton Manor, set apart a room for Roman Catholic worship; and Richard Cornthwaite, clerk, of Harvington Hall, Chaddesley, ditto ditto.

The Civil Wars.

The year 1643, so distressing to the city of Worcester, when a great portion of the heavy levies on the citizens, for defence against the Parliament army, could not be raised, was nearly to the same extent a cause of pecuniary embarrassment to the county at large. At the April Sessions of 1643 the grand jury ordered "that the £3000 ordered last Sessions to be paid monthly towards the payment of his majesty's forces sent and raised for the defence of this county be continued till next Sessions, and paid over by John Baker, gen. collector to Sir William Russell, High Sheriff of the county and Governor of the city." But con[Pg 127]siderable difficulty appears to have been experienced in the collection. Here follows a picture of those critical times, worth preserving:

"The information of Edward Raynolls, of Kitherminster, taken uppon oath the 28th of March, 1651, before Gervase Bucke and John Latham, Esqs., two of the Justices of the Peace for the county aforesaid.

"Hee saith and doth informe that Edward Broad of Duncklin, Esq., about the time of the beginning of the warre betwixt the late kinge and the Parliament did raise a troope of horse for his sonne Edmond to engage in the king's service. That afterwards about the time when Sir Gilbert Garret, the gov'nor of Worcester for the kinge went to beseige Sturton Castle—a garrison for the Parliament—the said Edward Broade sollicited and earnestly pressed the contry thereaboute to rise together and to goe along with the said Sir Gilbert Garrett, telling and threatening divers of the country people that they should be hanged at their owne doores if they would not goe with him against the said Castle: That many of the country people came in to the said Edward Broade accordingly and hee was himselfe captaine over them and furnished them with arms and amunition and marched before them to Sturton Castle and continued before that Castle untill the governor whoe held the same for the Parliament was inforced, beinge overpowred by the enemye to yeeld yt upp. That afterwards, about 7 dayes before Sir Henry Lyngum did rise against the Parliament and surprised and tooke the county troope of Hereford, the said Edward Broade spake to this informer, beinge his tenant and his warriner, to goe to John Brancill, dwelling at Kidderminster, beinge a joyner and well skilled in stockinge of guns, to come with all speede to stock gunnes for him. And willing this informer alsoe himselfe to be in redinesse. And this informer askinge him what use there would be for soe many gunnes the said Edward Broade answered there would be use for them verry speedily, and further said that Mr. Hugh Vicaridge of Comberton and Mr. Thomas Wannerton, other Roundheaded Rogues, should be hanged to beginn withall. And the said Brancill came to Duncklyn accordingly, but how many gunnes he stocked this informer knoweth not. And afterwards when the newes was fresh that Sir Henry Lingin had surprised the Hereford county troope, the said Edward[Pg 128] Broade asked this informer whether Sir Henry Lyngin was gone, whereunto this informer answering that hee did not know, the said Edward Broade replyed and said Sir Henry Lingin was not as good as his word; and about a weeke after Sir Henry Lingin was surprised the said Edward Broade hid divers gunnes which hee had provided as aforesaid under a rick of hay and afterwards remooved them thence and hid them under a corne mowe in one of the barnes att Duncklin where they weare seene within a yeare and a halfe last past by one Thomas Lovell, a workman belonging to that house, as he tould this informer.

"And this informer doth further informe upon his oath that about a year last past beinge att Bridgnorth in company with Edward Powys, of the citty of Worcester, bookbinder, and others drinking together, hee this informer heard the said Powys begin A health to the good proceeding of the king's army in Scotland, likewise A health to the queene his mother, and the third health to the confusion of the Parliament, and that hee began all these 3 healths together, but none of the company would pledge the same, some of them answering that they would drinke to ye conversion but not to the confusion of any. And that Steephen Dowty of the Morphe and his servant William Lawde were then in company, and further doth not informe."

"Articles" were "exhibited" (that is, an information was laid) in the year 1655, against Walter Moyle, of Ombersley, yeoman, for being a profane man, and for that "one day he publicly drank the health of the devil, and fell down as one dead, to ye amazement and terrour of ye beholders; and that in the time of the late war he did threaten his neighbours, when the king's forces were in rendevouze at Oddingley Heath, with plunder unlesse they would repaire in armes to that randezvooze."

On the 5th of October, 1685, John Bartlam, of Whitbourne, laid an information that "in hay harvest last (before this neighbourhood heard that Monmouth was routed), this informant, riding upon the road near Knightsford bridge, there met a man that tould him that Monmouth was then the head[Pg 129] man in England, and that it was in every man's mouth in Worcester, and that any man might speak it, and that he would proclaim it at Knightsford bridge (as he had at Broadheath, Martley, and other places, as he came along), although it was so near Captain Clent's; and that if any one questioned it he would be at Knightsford bridge to answer it; that his name was Kent, and he lived in Powick's Lane, Worcester." In 1687, Thomas Knight, of Castlemorton, was summoned to appear at the Sessions, and to give evidence against Charles Jakeman for drinking the Duke of Monmouth's health.

A Traveller's Passport.

The following document, included among the rolls, is dated 1680, from Whitehall:

"Dame Mary Yate, having asked his majesty's permission to pass beyond the seas, for the recovery of her health, his majesty was most graciously pleased to grant her request, under the usual clauses and provisoes, according to which ye said Dame Mary Yate having given security not to enter into any plott or conspiracy against his majesty or his realms, or behave herself in any such manner as may be prejudicial to his majesty's government, or the religion here by law established, and that she will not repaire to the city of Roome, or return unto this kingdome without first acquainting one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state, and obtaining leave for the same, in pursuance of his majesty's commands in council hereby will and require you to permit and suffer the said Dame Mary Yate to imbarque with her trunkes of apparel and other necessaries not prohibited at any port of this kingdom, and from thence to pass beyond the seas, provided that shee[Pg 130] departe this kingdom within 14 days after the date hereof"—April 14.

If the above refers to the celebrated Lady Mary Yate (a daughter of the house of Pakington) who is commemorated on a monument in Chaddesley Church as having died in 1696, at the age of 86, she must have been 70 years old when these precautions were taken by the Government against the poor old lady attempting to invade the country or to comfort the Pope with her presence and support. Dame Mary Yate was no doubt a Roman Catholic, and the permission above referred to was granted under the 7th section of the statute 3rd James I, chap. 5, which was virtually repealed by the statute 43rd George III, chap. 30, which exempted Roman Catholics from all the penalties and restrictions mentioned and enjoined in the older acts, if in one of the Courts at Westminster or at the Quarter Sessions they made a declaration which to them was unobjectionable.

Bridges and Highways.

Upton bridge seems to have been a nuisance to the county ever since the time of the Civil Wars, when one of its arches was destroyed for purposes of defence. Frequent complaint was made of its dilapidations, and in 1757 the Sessions ordered that a frigate should be bought "for carrying workmen, stone, and other purposes, about the said repairs." Mr. Sheward was appointed superintendent of the said bridge in 1775, at the salary of one guinea a year.

A presentment was made in 1661, that "the causeways and[Pg 131] horse bridges leading from the city of Worcester to London, and towards the city of Gloucester, which ought, as wee humbly conceave, to be mayntayned and repaired by the Dean and Chapter, are very defective and out of repaire." About five years later the capitular body were again presented "for not repairing a certain causeway leading from a certain messuage called or known by the name of ye Three Crowns, St. Peter's, to a place called Red Hill Cross, in the said parish, and soe from thence to a place called Whitton Pound, thence to a place called Staple Cross in the parish of Norton, being the London road, and likewise one other causeway leading from the newly-erected inn called ye White House, through the parish of St. Peter's, at a place called Clarken Lipp, in the parish of Kempsey, being the road leading to Bristol." And for the third time, in 1689, the Dean and Chapter were presented "for not repairing their causeways from outside Sidbury gate to the further end of Clarkenlip, upon ye Gloster road." In the Townsend Manuscript (elsewhere alluded to) it is recorded that "by virtue of a commission dated March, 1652, out of Chancery for charitable uses, the Commissioners sat on the 12th January, 1653, and by the oaths of 12 men on the inquiry, did order and decree that the several manors and lands of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Worcester were charged by way of repriz. for the payment of £40 yearly towards the repayres of the several highways therein expressed, and should so continue for ever. The like for £106. 13s. 4d. for 40 poor schollers of the grammar school at the Colledg unto every of them four marks per annum, the high master 40 marks, the under master 10 marks, £52. 10s. per ann. towards ye releefe of ten poore old men, and £40 yerely to the poore of Worcester and St. Michael's, by 7s. 3d. in money and 7s. 8d. in bread to be distributed weekly; and it was ordered, 3 June,[Pg 132] 10 Car., for the Clerk of the Peace to see the £40 for the Dean and Chapter to be imployed for the use of the causeys, one from Worcester to Redhill Cross, and the other towards Kempsey, and he to pay the same to the surveyors." The Dean and Chapter were liable to repair these roads ratione tenuræ, that is by reason of their being the owners of certain lands. These roads are now repaired by the turnpike tolls; but if the tolls became inadequate, and the Dean and Chapter were before liable to the repair, they would still continue to to be so now.

The Plague.

Redditch is stated as having been visited with this scourge in 1625, when the poor people being thrown out of work, it was ordered, under the statute of 1st James I, that Bromsgrove pay 12s. per week, Belbroughton 6s., Cofton Hackett 1s., Northfield 4s., Kingsnorton 9s., Alvechurch 5s., Beoley 6s., Feckenham 7s., Inkberrow 5s., Stoke Prior 4s., Upton Warren and Cookesey 3s. towards the relief of the said poor.


Were somewhat numerous in the county towards the close of the last century. It is recorded in 1789, that, "upon the application of John Boles Watson, of Cheltenham, comedian, ordered that a licence be granted for the performance of such tragedies, comedies, interludes,[Pg 133] operas, plays, or farces, as now are or hereafter shall be acted, performed, or represented at either of the patent or licenced theatres in the city of Westminster, or shall have been submitted to the inspection of the Lord Chamberlain of the King's household for the time being, in the town of Stourbridge for the space of sixty days." William Meill, of Worcester, comedian, who in 1794 held the theatres of Worcester, Wolverhampton, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, and Stourbridge, obtained similar licences for Bromsgrove and Malvern.

Compositions to the King's Household.

On the 20th of November, 1613, a certificate was sent down from Whitehall to "our very loving friends, the Justices of the Peace and compounders for the county of Worcester," which, after the usual "heartey commendations," &c., set forth that "Thomas Gunner, his Majesty's servant, under-tacker for the countie of Worcester, hath delivered for the service of his Majestie and his most hon. house, for the compost of the 11th yere of his Highnes raigne, 20 fatt oxen, 20 fatt muttons, 20 stirks, and 40 lambs, all good and serviceable, and soe wee bid you heartily farewell." There were two certificates in the year 1640—the one "that Thomas Hill, your undertaker for the composition of lambes, hath, on behalfe of the country, delivered into the office of his Majesty's Poultry at the Court, the full number of 150 lambes," due for the year ending the last day of September; and the other, for 20 fat oxen, 200 fat muttons, and[Pg 134] 20 stirks, due for the year ending the last day of December. Nash states that the purveyance for this county in 1660 was—20 oxen, or a composition of £4 a head, to be paid June 16th; 200 muttons, or 6s. 8d. a head, paid July 10th; 150 lambs, or 1s. a head, August 15th; and 20 stirks, or 10s. a head, October 8th.

These compositions arose out of the prerogative of purveyance. Mr. John Bruce, F.S.A., in his "Verney Papers," published by the Camden Society (p. 86), says:

"The prerogative of purveyance was one of those ancient rights of sovereignty which in practice were most annoying to the people. It consisted of the power of taking, at certain fixed low prices and with or without the consent of the owner, for the use of the royal household, any provisions which an officer called a purveyor thought proper to select. With that wisdom which distinguished the government of Queen Elizabeth, we find that this ancient right was not harshly enforced, but made the subject of a clear arrangement, which avoided in practice all the heartburnings and contentions which are sure to follow from carrying out an indefinite authority."

The powers of purveyance having been suspended during the time of the Commonwealth, Charles II at his Restoration consented to resign entirely these branches of his revenue and power, and they were abolished by the statute 12th Charles II, chap. 24, Parliament granting him in lieu an excise duty on beer and ale of 15d. a barrel and a proportionate sum for other liquors. But temporary acts were subsequently passed suspending this statute in favour of the King's royal progresses, and in favour of the navy and ordnance.

[Pg 135]

Worcestershire Manuscripts.


Among the valuable manuscripts in existence relating to this county are the Dineley, Jeffries, and Townsend, besides those of Dr. Prattenton, now in possession of the Society of Antiquaries. To preserve these, with a view to publication, should be an object of solicitude to all literary men of the county. The Dineley Manuscripts (now in the possession of Sir T. E. Winnington, Bart., M.P.) consist of three volumes, written between 1670 and 1680 by Thomas Dineley, Esq., a member of one of the oldest Worcestershire families. One of the volumes contains accounts of his visits to many churches in this county as also to adjacent towns and about a dozen cathedrals; pen and ink sketches of monuments, coats of arms, dresses, &c., many of them exquisitely done; copies of inscriptions, both quaint and curious; tracings of pedigrees, &c.; showing the compiler to have been a gentleman well versed in ecclesiastical antiquities, a classical scholar, acquainted with heraldry, and an accurate draughtsman. The second volume is entitled "Observations in a Voyage in the Kingdom of France, being a collection of several monuments, inscriptions, draughts of towns, &c."—date 1675; and the latter part of this volume is devoted to a similar description of Ireland, with a curious dissertation on the manners and customs of the Irish. The filthy habits of that people in the seventeenth century are treated of in rather broad language, not adapted for the present day. The third volume has the following title: "The Jovrnall of my Traveils through the Low[Pg 136]-Countreys, Anno D'ni 1674." It appears that in December, 1671, Mr. Dineley went in the suite of "Sir G. Downing, Knt. and Bart., Ambassador from his most sacred Ma'tie to ye States Generall of the United Provinces." His journal is written in a minute but beautiful caligraphy, and denotes habits of judicious observation. In his notice of the town of Dort, in Holland, he alludes to the great abundance of salmon, and mentions a custom which I had long thought was by no means confined to our own city of Worcester: he observes, "It is sayd that prentices and maid servants, before they enter into service, indent not to be oblig'd to eat salmon above twice a week;" and in his account of the Irish (chapter on Limerick) Mr. Dineley alludes to a "salmon weire, out of town, having a castle without timber or nayle, in the middle of the river," where the custom was "to grant tickets for salmon gratis to all strangers who will eat them upon the place; this the corpora'con is obliged to, though they set it for £200 per ann." In some commonplace notes at the end of the volume is the following entry:

"Hops among other things brought into England 15 Hen. 8. wherefore this rithme—

"Turkeyes, carps, hops, pickerel, and beer,
Came into England all in one year."

There is another of Mr. Dineley's volumes in the collection of the Duke of Beaufort, at Badminton; it describes a tour through Wales with the President of the Marches, an ancestor of the Duke's. It is mentioned in Blakeway's History of Shrewsbury.


Henry Jeffries (who died in 1709), the last heir male and proprietor of the manor of Clifton-on-Teme, was a man of some learning, and left a manuscript memorandum book in[Pg 137] which he had jotted down his own observations de omnibus rebus, and generally in so easy and familiar a way as to render them agreeable as well as instructive. This relic likewise belongs to Sir Thomas Winnington, one of whose ancestors married the heiress of the Jeffries family about a century and a half ago. Specimens of its multifarious contents are given in vol. ii of "The Rambler in Worcestershire," from which they appear to be invested with great local interest to the neighbourhood of Clifton, Stanford, and Shelsey, as also to the general antiquary.


There is also a Manuscript Diary of Miss Joyce Jeffries in the possession of Sir T. Winnington. The diary contains an account of the state of domestic life among the upper classes, during the reign of Charles I, in the counties of Worcester and Hereford, and relates to Ham Castle, in the parish of Clifton-on-Teme, where this lady resided, and the siege of the city of Hereford, where she also possessed a residence, during the calamities of civil war. It is hoped that the Manuscript will be published, and no one can be found more able for the task of editor than the Rev. J. Webb, of Tretire, near Ross, who has already published a most valuable work, of local as well as general interest, on the Household Roll of Bishop Swinfield of Hereford, of which I have given an abstract further on.

Mistress Joyce Jeffries was the half-sister of Humphrey Coningsby, Esq., of Neen Sollers, a gentleman remarkable for his chivalrous enterprise as a traveller in the reign of James I. This autograph account book embraces a period of nine years, and embodies many curious particulars bearing upon the events, persons, and manners of the age, also setting forth the writer as the representative of a class now only to be[Pg 138] seen in family pictures of the time. She lived unmarried, had an income of more than £500 per annum, in the expenditure of which she was very generous. Her dress was costly; she employed false curls and curling irons, wore many rings, used spectacles, and carried a whistle suspended at her girdle by a yard of loop black lace—probably for a little dog. A Cypress cat was given her by the Lady Dansey of Brinsop, and she kept a throstle in a twiggen cage. She had many god-children, to one of whom (Mistress Eliza Acton) she gave £800 as a marriage portion. Madam Jeffries kept several servants, and went abroad in a coach drawn by two mares. She was very observant of the festivals and ceremonies of the church, and contributed to the wassell of the hinds when they lighted their twelve fires, and made the fields resound with their revelry; and on Valentine's Day gave Tom Aston, Dick Gravell, or any other male, a present in money for coming to be her Valentine. She sent the mayor a present of ten shillings on his law-day, and on one occasion dined with him, when the waits were in attendance, to whom she gave money; and she was generous to travelling minstrels and showmen, as "to a boy that did sing like a blackbird," "to Cherlickcombe and his jackanapes," and "to a man that had the dancing horse at the Hereford Midsummer fair." As to what befell her in the troubled time of the Civil War, the book passes from the year 1638 to the end of 1647, during which England toiled and suffered under intestine strife. No county was more loyal to the royal cause than that of Hereford. In 1638, Mrs. Jeffries pays ship-money and another impost called "the king's provision," and finds a soldier for her property in Hereford and elsewhere. In 1641 she purchases pamphlets and news-books and takes an interest in passing political events. In September, 1642, when the Earl of Essex entered Worcester, and sent[Pg 139] the Earl of Stamford to occupy Hereford, she quitted her town house and went to Garnons, the residence of Mr. Geers, a few miles distant, thinking she would be there in security; but in the plundering which took place by the Earl of Stamford's soldiers, immediately upon their arrival, the house of Mr. Geers was visited and pilfered by Captain Hammond, who carried off much goods, including her two bay coach mares. At the same time she had other property secreted and saved in other places. The Parliamentarians having left the city in December, it was reoccupied by the Royalists, and her friend and cousin, Fitzwilliam Coningsby, was made Governor; when, besides her regular assessment, she sent him a present of £50 to pay his soldiers, and a bullock worth £6. In the spring of 1643 he marched with the rest of the commissioners of the county and the Herefordshire levies to join the little army of Lord Herbert of Raglan, at Highnam near Gloucester, where they were all captured by Sir William Waller. Hereford continued unmolested till the month of April, and Mistress Jeffries returned for a few days to her house, but the report of the Parliamentarians coming once more to assail the city under the command of that general drove her once more to her retreat. Her house at Widemarsh Gate suffered during his attack on the city, but she remained in quiet at Garnons until April, 1644. As the county was now seriously disturbed by the contending parties she suddenly took flight again, visiting Hereford for the last time, and carrying off her trunks and chests and servants to Ham Castle, the seat of her cousin Jeffries, on the banks of the Teme, on the edge of the county of Worcester. Soldiers were still quartered in her house at Hereford, and she pays for work done in making bulwarks to defend the city. At length, in 1645, when the whole of the suburbs were laid bare up to the walls by order of the governor, Colonel[Pg 140] Barnabas Scudamore, her new house and several others her property without Widemarsh Gate were pulled down. She takes this as a matter of course, without comment upon the hardship of the proceeding, and upon all occasions shows a cheerful and contented mind. In many other respects she felt the effects of the war, and symptoms of them frequently appear in her accounts. She contributed to the lecturers introduced into the churches; her cousin's child was "baptised after the new directory;" and the committee men laid their hands on her property and straitened her means, though she still persevered in the unwearied exercise of humanity and in bestowing her charity on others. As she advances in years her accounts exhibit a trait or two of her approaching infirmities: she loses various small articles of value—spectacles and rings, which her servants find and bring to her, and are rewarded accordingly; and the recurrence of this excites some suspicion of their knavery. The death of her cousin Herbert Jeffries, at Ham Castle, in consequence of his breaking his leg, disturbed her tranquillity, and is described with melancholy minuteness. Age seems to have neither abated her generous feeling nor the ardour of her domestic affections. She was always interested in those events which usually bring joy to families and occasional entries in our parochial registers. The union of Miss Acton, her goddaughter, with Mr. Francis Geers, and a christening that took place at Ham Castle a very short time before her death (the child receiving her own Christian name), was to her a source of infinite pleasure. She went on, "giving" to some and "forgiving" others, to the close of her beneficent career. She died in April, 1648, and was buried in the chancel of the parish church of Clifton-on-Teme, where her memory is still revered by those to whom her existence and character are known.

[Pg 141]


One of the Townsend Manuscripts is in the possession of Mr. G. E. Roberts, of Kidderminster. It is an interleaved copy of "The Compleat Justice. London, 1661," in octavo; and consists of 420 pages letterpress, and 470 in manuscript. It is well bound in calf, with initials of the Knight ("H. T.") impressed on sides, and autograph on fly-leaf. Sir Henry's aim may have been to render it a book of legal reference, as upon one of the first leaves he gives a key to a great part of the Manuscript in a list of authorities quoted. But amongst them exists much matter of a more interesting nature. The following list of the more valuable mems. will afford an idea of their character.

"1. Orders at Quarter Sessions for the raising of monies for the repair of Worcester after the battle, 13th Jan., 1651.

"2. Sundry criminal cases tried at Sessions, between 1651 and 1662.

"3. Laws respecting 'Alehowses consented to, vpon presentmt of ye Grand Jury,' within the county, 1660.

"4. Limitation of 'Alehowses' within the county, 1649; with lists of 'ye certeyn number allowed.'

"5. Forms of binding 'Apprentizes to Husbandry,' 1650.

"6. Copies of Royal proclamation:—17 Jan. 1660, 12 Car. 2. Commanding all officers to forbear seizing arms or other munitions without warrant.—26 April, 1662, 14, Car. 2. Setting rates for all provisions sold within the limits of the Court.—29 Jan., 1660. Forbidding the eating of flesh in Lent, and all other fish days.—17 Jan. 1662. The same.—16 Aug., 1661. Limiting the number of horses in carriers' waggons.—29 Sept., 1662. The same.—19 April, 1661. Against seamen serving foreign Princes.—13 Aug., 1660. Against duels.—30 Dec., 1661. For the better discovering of thefts, offering rewards of knowledge of the offenders.—9 May, 1661. To put in execution an old statute, for the relief of the poor.—30 May, 1660. Against profanity.—No date. Against the planting of tobacco. (With orders of Sessions respecting it, 1662.)—16 Jan. 1660.[Pg 142] Authorising search for seditious papers.—10 Jan., 1660. Forbidding seditious meetings.

"7. Mems. on the Act of Oblivion, 1660, also notes from Sir E. Hyde's speech thereon.

"8. Orders of Court respecting bridges at Tenbury, Knightsford, Home, Stanford, 'Stone bridg in Alfric,' and Haford; also, the parishes of Hartlebury, Lindridge, and Wolverley exempted from county payments towards repair of bridges.

"9. 'My Lord Couentry's Letter to ye Justices of ye County, concerning Certificats about fyre,' 1661.

"10. Heads of the Act of Uniformity, 1662.

"11. Charges of Sir Waddem Wyndham and Sir Robert Hyde, at Worcester and Gloucester Assizes. (Many.)

"12. Order of Sessions, 3 Jan., 1660. That all cottages erected in the time of the late wars be plucked down.

"13. Table of fees agreed on, Worcester Sessions, 15 April, 9 Car., for Clerk of Assize; also fees for Clerk of the Peace, 1662.

"14. Orders and mems. respecting the County Gaol, 1660.

"15. Inquiry by a Royal Commission into the Cathedral School at Worcester, 1653; and results in detail.

"16. Orders of Sessions respecting the New House of Correction, 1659, and against making of malt within the county, 6th Car. 2.

"17. Orders respecting the pensions of the Muster Master and Provost Marshall, 1660.

"18. Punishment of Quakers at Sessions, 1661.

"19. Orders of the King's Majesty, made 1636, concerning the plague.

"20. Orders of Sessions respecting the poor people of this county.

"21. Charges of Mr. Baron Atkins, Worcester, 1683-4.

"22. Orders of Sessions for payments to wounded soldiers, 1651. (Many.)

"23. Heads of the charges delivered by Bp. Gauden, Worcester, 1662.

"24. Interesting notes on witchcraft, and trial of witches."

The original Diary of Mr. Henry Townsend, of Elmley Court, Worcestershire, for 1640-2, 1656-61, is in the possession of Sir T. Phillipps, Bart., and has been recommended to the Camden Society to be edited by Mrs. Mary Ann Everett[Pg 143] Green, whose intention, I believe, it is to do so this year (1856).


A Manuscript was recently discovered in the Worcester Chapter library, which is believed to be unique in this country—at least there is no record of any similar one having ever been found here—it is Vacarius's Epitome of the Roman law. A description of this valuable manuscript was recently published in the "Legal Examiner" by Mr. Hastings, barrister-at-law, of Worcester. Vacarius was a celebrated Italian doctor of law, a native of Lombardy, who it is supposed was brought to this country by Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and became professor of law at Oxford, in the reign of Stephen. There he introduced the study of the Roman law, just then reviving throughout Europe, after the discovery of the Pandects at Amalfi; there also he wrote his famous work, comprising an epitome of the whole Roman law, for the use of his very numerous pupils. At length, either through jealousy or Papal influence, he was forbidden to lecture, was banished from the University, and his books ordered to be destroyed. It is supposed that he himself took holy orders and retired to a monastery. Although his numerous pupils, on leaving Oxford, had each, no doubt, for the most part secured a copy for themselves, no record exists of one having ever been found in England during the seven centuries which succeeded, so effectual was the royal mandate for their destruction. The only instance in which Vacarius is known to be mentioned by any of our legal writers is by Blackstone, who merely states the fact of the introduction of the civil law into England by such a personage, and for a long time Vacarius was thought to be nothing more than a mythological embodiment of the introduction of Roman[Pg 144] law into this country. On the continent the only four copies of his work known to be in existence are deposited in the libraries of Konigsberg, Prague, and Bruges, and one in the possession of the Emperor of Russia. Great search has been made in our public libraries, and those of the cathedrals especially, as it was thought that had any copies survived the order for their destruction, they would have been stored in the monasteries, and from thence been transferred to our cathedrals at the Reformation; but the inquiry was entirely unsuccessful until a few months ago, when a copy was found in the Worcester Chapter library, concealed under the name of the "Code of Justinian." Every reasonable proof of its identity has been given, although the title is missing. It is otherwise in good preservation, and beautifully written and illuminated. It need not be added how valuable the manuscript is as a monument of the first introduction of the Roman law into England after the Norman Conquest. The manuscript should be preserved, newly bound, and the missing portions supplied by copying from one of the other existing manuscripts. Then some enterprising publisher should give it to the world in English (as Mr. Bohn has done for the Norman and Saxon Chronicles).


Mr. Cadby, bookseller, of 83, New Street, Birmingham, recently advertised for sale "Some Memoirs relating to the Church and City of Worcester, collected by one of the Ancient Family of the Abingtons, which came to the hands of Robert Dobyns, late of Easbath, and now of the City of Hereford, Esq., who, out of the Love he bears to the said Church and City where he was Born and Baptised, transmitted this Copy to the Library at Worcester, there to be kept, supposing the original to be lost in the late Civill Warrs; small folio, old[Pg 145] vellum, neatly written in contracted German characters, about the period of Elizabeth and James I, 143 pp., 20 Guineas. The original could not be found when the above was bequeathed, nor has it been heard of since; consequently this is the only one in existence, and must now take the place of the original." I have not myself seen this Manuscript, but a friend informs me that it wears the appearance of genuineness. After referring to Worcester in connection with Roman times, its possession by the Wiccian Kings is spoken of, and then the foundation of the bishopric in A.D. 680. Year by year it records the events in the history of the bishopric up to 1486, which is the last date. Some reference is also made to the city, but the bishopric and its various prelates occupy most of the book. The chief towns and villages in the county are also referred to.


"A roll of the household expenses of Richard de Swinfield, Bishop of Hereford, during part of the years 1289 and 1290." This valuable Manuscript was discovered about forty years ago by Dr. Prattinton, of Bewdley, among the muniments at Stanford Court, the seat of Sir T. E. Winnington, Bart. Dr. Prattinton made an abstract of it, which he presented, with his other Worcestershire papers, to the Society of Antiquaries; but it was not till the year 1853 that the roll was edited and published, when the Rev. John Webb, of Tretire, undertook the task, and by his extensive research in mediæval history has succeeded in converting the meagre materials of the roll—presenting as it does nearly the earliest picture of English life in existence—into a most interesting detail of the character and events, the manners and customs of the thirteenth century, so as to attract considerable notice among antiquaries. The work was printed in two volumes, in 1853[Pg 146] and 1854, for the Camden Society; and as some portions of the Bishop's itinerary through his diocese is connected with Worcestershire I shall make a few extracts and comments thereon:—

Salt was purchased by the Bishop's household (when at Colwall) from Worcester, and supplied from the pits at Droitwich. His lordship's cook also made purchases at Worcester, (having been sent from Colwall for the purpose), and a large supply of ware in cups, plates, and dishes, was laid in against the Paschal entertainment at Colwall; so that this city, it would seem, was famous even six centuries ago for the manufacture of table ware, though composed of a different material from that which has rendered its products celebrated in the present day. Here also the prelate sent for a new bridle and saddle, on which Mr. Webb remarks—"Worcester might then have been, what it certainly in after times has been, more advanced than Hereford in the arts of life." The Bishop had some land in this county and a house in the city of Worcester.

The editor notices the prolific vines that cover the cottages in the counties of Worcester, Gloucester, and Hereford. Bishop Swinfield's vineyard at Ledbury yielded seven pipes of white wine and nearly one of verjuice in the autumn of 1289. Bristol was the great mart for foreign wine, and the custom was to send a "squire" to make the purchase there and accompany the cargo up the Severn home, to prevent the malpractices of boatmen, who it seems were as much inclined to "suck the monkey" in those days as at present. The wine was usually landed at Upton and thence conveyed by land carriage to Bosbury, where was the Bishop's favourite residence. No mention is made of Herefordshire cider in that century, nor is the date of its introduction known.

John de Kemesye, the Bishop's steward and treasurer (and[Pg 147] the writer of this roll), belonged to a good family who took their name from the village of Kempsey, four miles south of Worcester. Walter of that name was instituted to the vicarage of Lindridge in July, 1277, and presented, in November, 1292, by the convent of Worcester, to the church of St. Martin, in the same city. Thomas de Kemesye was the abbot of Tewkesbury who received the benediction from Godfrey Giffard, Bishop of Worcester, on Trinity Sunday, 1282. The Bishops of Worcester had a palace at Kempsey, at which Henry II held his Court, and Simon de Montfort, with his royal prisoner, Henry III, lodged previously to the battle of Evesham. The writer of this roll was long remembered in the church of Kempsey, where he founded a chantry well endowed for masses at the altar of the blessed Virgin, for his welfare in life, his own soul, those of his parents and benefactors, and of all the faithful departed. He left rents for a taper to burn before her altar, and in his grants for these purposes took special heed to secure the respectability of such as should officiate at these services, by regulations drawn up with the minutest care.

In the year 1275 two questions respecting church property in the county of Worcester came under the decision of trial by combat: one on June 25th, in Hardwick Meadow, for the church of Tenbury, which was adjusted, after all, without duel, in favour of the Abbot of Lyra; a second, on July 9th, was for the bailiwick of Hembury (Hanbury?) and here the Bishop of Worcester's champion vanquished the champion of Philip de Stok. The Bishop of Hereford likewise kept a champion in his suite, who received regular wages; and when Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, laid claim to the chase on the western slopes of the Malvern range, the Bishop's representative was prepared to do battle in the lists if need were; but a jury, composed of men drawn from the counties[Pg 148] of Worcester and Hereford, decided in favour of the church, and a trench of separation between the two possessions was made by the disappointed Earl along the ridge of the hill, where it remains a memorial of the contest to the present day.

Foresters were in general an impudent and abandoned race. Those of Feckenham, where the king had a palace or hunting seat, incurred his particular displeasure by their depredations. He dealt summarily with them in the spring of 1289-90, when he progressed there, by committing some of them to prison, and some he fined. On April 2nd he admitted all the latter to bail to appear at Woodstock by the 5th of that month, in Easter week, and there he fixed their fines. In the following autumn they insulted the Prior of Worcester, near Herforton (Harvington?) as he was travelling along the road, robbed his servants of their bows and arrows, and sounded their horns on all sides against him. But the monk of Worcester who narrates this circumstance does not tell us what may be learned elsewhere, and was perhaps one cause of the insult, that his own Prior had been a trespasser in the said forest, and was fined for it. The Bishop of Worcester also was a trespasser, and paid 500 while the Prior paid 200 marks. (See further account of this in vol. iii, p. 149, of the "Rambler in Worcestershire.") In case of trespass by hunting or border hostility the foresters and others used to shout and blow their horns, to bring in the country to their aid. Hence the northern border tenure of cornage.

On occasion of episcopal visitations, the clergy visited were, except in special cases, bound to provide food, &c., for the Bishop and his attendants, but sometimes the suite was so numerous as to lead to great inconvenience. In 1290, Godfrey, Bishop of Worcester, in spite of canonical prohi[Pg 149]bition, being at variance with the Prior and Convent of Worcester, came to visit them with 140 horses and a multitude of attendants, and continued with them three days; but this was not done without an appeal on the part of the Prior. The Bishop turned the Prior out of the chamber; and it seems like an aggressive act that need not have been committed, if then, as since, the Bishop had a palace hard by the Cathedral. For remedy of such encroachments the Lateran Council, under Pope Alexander III, had specially defined the limits of bishops' and archdeacons' trains. Bishop Godfrey Giffard frequently preached at visitations, and some of the texts of his discourses addressed to religious houses are extant in his register; an instance of which is as follows: "Procurationes Episcopi. Item, die Jovis in crastino beati Michaelis, dominus Episcopus visitavit apud Sanctum Augustinum Bristolliæ, et prædicavit ibi, præsentibus priore et monachis Sancti Jacobi de Bristollia, et magistro ac suis fratribus Sancti Martii de ordin', cujus thema fuit: 'Videam voluptatem Domini et visitem templum ejus.' (Psalm xxvi, 4.) Et procuratus fuit eodem die sumptibus domus."

In the course of a visitation tour, Bishop Swinfield came to Tenbury, in the archdeaconry of Salop and deanery of Burford. The Norman abbey of Lyra held the great tithes; the vicarial amounted to just one half of them, £6. 13s. 4d. The associate of the dominus proctor, who helped to manage the revenues of the convent, was ready with his procuration for the party. After visiting Burford, they came to Lindridge, and visited the church, which had been both a rectory and vicarage; these, however, upon the recent death of the late vicar, Walter, in 1288, had been united under the present rector, John de Buterlee (Bitterley), and were valued jointly at £13. 6s. 8d. per annum. The reason for this proceeding, illustrative of the state of affairs in the church,[Pg 150] is expressly set forth in the instrument framed for that purpose; that whereas it had been canonically provided that ecclesiastical benefices should not be divided; and that such as for certain causes had been divided, upon cessation of such causes should on the first opportunity be restored to their integrity, so that it should be one church, one rector; and that no rector of a parish church should employ a vicar, but be bound to serve it himself, as the cure thereof requires; unless a dignity or prebend be annexed to the said church, when the institution or creation of a vicar might be allowed. And whereas he (John de Bitterley) professed himself ready to reside personally on his church of Lindridge as the law required, there being no reasonable cause why there should be a vicar in the said church, the vicarage and rectory were perpetually united with all rights and appurtenances, emolument, burden, and cure. It may however be added, that this integrity came again, within a few years, to be more permanently violated by the appropriation of the great tithes to the Prior and Convent of Worcester, by special grant of the King, with consent of the Bishop of Hereford. Edward wrote a letter to his chancellor in French, directing that it might be translated into Latin, and sent by a clerk of the chancery to the chapter of Hereford; another instance of the employment of the French language in this reign. The rector of Lindridge discharged his duty of procuration; and on the following day (April 15) they moved forward in the direction of Bewdley to Aka (Rock). The parishes to which the visitor was directing his attention in this quarter lay within a small compass. Master William Brun was rector in 1276, and no subsequent incumbent has been detected up to this year of visitation. The value of the benefice was the same as that of Lindridge. Out of many of these benefices payments were made in other quarters;[Pg 151] as in this instance: the Prior of Ware was paid £2. 13s. 4d. and the Prior of Conches £2. Out of Lindridge the Prior of Worcester received £6. 13s. 4d. Procuration was duly furnished here; and this is the fifth day since any expense on the part of the Bishop was incurred. On arriving at Kinlet, the visiting party were obliged to have recourse to Kidderminster for supplies. Robert the carter was the purveyor; he had a guide to attend him, probably through the intervening forest of Wyre, and paid for passing the Severn on his way to and from the town.

I cannot conclude my notice of this interesting Manuscript without strongly recommending my readers to possess themselves of a copy of Mr. Webb's admirable publication.


"Memoirs of Dr. Robert Skinner, Bishop of Worcester, who died 1670." Several manuscript volumes, in the handwriting of the Right Rev. Dr. White Kennett, Bishop of Peterborough, are to be found in the British Museum (MS. Lansdown, 986, fol. 135), containing biographies of distinguished ecclesiastics, one of whom was Bishop Skinner of Worcester. This prelate was elected to the see of Bristol in 1636, translated to that of Oxford in 1641, and to Worcester in 1663. While he lived in the times of usurpation, being deprived of his see, he remained in his diocese comforting his clergy, and ordaining those who were willing to enter the church, and was supposed to be the sole bishop that during that time conferred holy orders. Immediately after his Majesty's return an hundred and three persons did at once take holy orders from him in the Abbey Church at Westminster. At his death it was computed that he had sent more labourers into the vineyard than all his brethren he then left behind him had done. His biographer observes[Pg 152] that, in the see of Worcester, he became by his many tenants more esteemed than family or friends because of his goodness as a landlord. He died an octogenarian, and was buried in a chapel at the east end of the choir of the Cathedral Church at Worcester; over his grave was soon after laid a flat stone, at the head of which are engraved the arms of his family, impaled with those of the see, surmounted by a mitre, and underneath is a long Latin inscription.

In the Bodleian Manuscript, Tanner 45, fol. 19, is a letter to Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury, interesting, though trivial, as applicable to the affairs of Worcester Cathedral.

"May it please your Grace,—Tandem aliquando I present your grace with all the papers that make (and as with humble submission, I conceive) are requisite in Mr. Deane of Worcester's defence against Mr. Hathaway's pretences and allegations about the choire organ made and fixt, and the great organ to be made, but now bargained for. And the reason I sent these papers up no sooner was my longing hope and endeavour to have made Mr. George Dallow's testimonie more pregnant and evident touching the promise of Hathaway and Dr. Gibbons to help him to this organ-worke at Worcester, but, to my satisfaction, there is more than probabilitie there had been monie enough to have satisfied Gibbons and Hathaway and Talbott, had it been in the Deane's power to have made a bargain, they well knew Mr. Deane's (Dr. Warmstrey) utter ignorance in re musica. They knew he was, as it is in the Greek proverbe, [Greek: onos pros lyran] ονος προς λυραν, had no more skill in an organ than a beast that hath no understanding, and 'tis very considerable that Hathaway should dare to addresse a complaint at Council Board, when for above a whole yeare, Mr. Deane having forbidden him to proceede to the worke of the great organ, he never applied himselfe neither to Mr. Deane nor to the Chapter, nor to the Visitor, continuing his visitacion for nine months at least, no complaint all this while ever heard of, and for ye materials provided it signifies nothing, unlesse it did appeare they were provided for this organ, when soone after he had made the choire organ he was forbidden to proceed any farther. With Mr. Harrison (who was old Dallow's servant and married his[Pg 153] daughter) I twice conferred about his testimonie, and he told me he would make good all he said upon oath, and make it good to all the organists in England, and if your grace shall secretly object, old Hesiod's testimonie in ye case, [Greek: kai kêramius kêramei phthoneuei] και κηραμιυς κηραμει φθονευει, an artist malignes his brother artist. I rely very much on Mr. Tomkin's skill, bred in his cradle and all his life among organs, who is an excellent organist, and has ever maintained an organ in his house, his letter will show what his judgment was before this difference was started. Little reason have I had to interpose in the least in Mr. Deane's case, but I cannot forbear to stand up for innocence, though joyned with much follie. I have returned a certificate to his Majestie's instructions about hospitalls, and by the grace of God shall returne a full answer to your grace's instructions about church affaires in ye due time. The Lorde in the meane time preserve your grace in health and safetie and ye comforts of his blessed spirit.

"May it please your grace, I am your grace's most obliged and most obedient humble servant,


"Worcester, Aug. 5, 1665."

The Bishop was cousin of Richard Skynner, of Cofton Hackett, the eldest son of Edward Skinner, of Ledbury, who purchased that manor for him from the Dyneley family, upon his marriage with his first wife, Miss Dyneley; and of Dr. William Skynner, his brother, fellow of All Soul's, Oxford; 1612, LL.D. March 31; 1625, chancellor of Hereford, April 29, 1626; rector of Beckenham, Kent, 1628; and in 1650 deprived of his living by the Parliament in favour of John Soter, and never restored, as he died at Ledbury, 1657, aged 66. This Richard's will showed, by his selection of his executors, and the course pursued by them in the Civil Wars, how friendships were broken; two, his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Lyttleton, Baronet, and Sir Edward Sebright, Baronet, were fined by Parliament as Royalists, and one was Humphrey Salwey, also married to a Miss Lyttleton, whom he styles his dear brother Humphrey Salwey, and whose son sat as one of the judges on the trial of King Charles I,[Pg 154] and was M.P. for Worcestershire in the Long Parliament. A younger son of the Bishop's, William, was by his father appointed rector of Hartlebury, and there is a monument to his memory in that church. There was also another member of the Ledbury family connected with this county, as having been a member of the Oxford circuit, the Right Hon. Sir John Skynner, Knight, Lord Chief Baron. He was grandson of Edward Skynner, of Ledbury, and Margaret, his wife. On the 15th March, 1757, he was one of the counsel present in court, at the Worcester Assizes, when, between two and three o'clock, p.m., as Sir Eardly Wilmot began to sum up in the last cause, a stack of chimneys fell through the roof, killing many. The counsel then in court, being five in number, saved themselves under the stout table, and of these, four—Aston, Nares, Ashurst, and Skynner—after became judges; the fifth dying a king's counsel. We find traces of this old Ledbury family in this county, for in Nash's History of Worcestershire, vol. 2, we read that in the east window of the south aisle of Little Malvern Church are the arms of John Alcock, who was Bishop of Worcester from 1476 to 1486, and, in the south part of the same window is written "Orate pro animabus Roberti Skinner et Isabellæ, uxoris ejus, et filiorum suorum et filiarum." Richard Skinner, of Cofton, served the office of sheriff of Worcestershire in the 4th of Charles I (1628), and Edmund Skinner, of Wichenford, in the 12th George I (1726). The arms of Skinner are "Sable, a chevron or, between three griffins' heads argent."


In Sir Thomas Winnington's library at Stanford is a bundle of manuscripts, being a survey of the parsonages and other church livings in the Doddingtree hundred of Worcestershire,[Pg 155] date 1665, or returns made to a visitation by order of the Lord Protector Cromwell. These returns include thirty-three parishes or places, namely, Bockleton, Pensax, Knighton-on-Teme alias Kington, Lindridge, Alfrick, Suckley, Little Kyre, Hanley Child, Orleton, Hanley William, Eastham, Tenbury, Cotheridge, Edwyn Loach, Shelsley Walsh, Lower Sapey, Clifton-on-Teme, Acton Beauchamp, Great Witley, Shelsley Beauchamp, Abberley alias Abbotsley, Stanford, Kyre Wyard, Aka alias Rock, Bewdley, Ribsford, Stockton, Martley, Bayton, Mamble, Dodenham, Astley, and Shrawley. As an abstract of some of the details may be interesting, I here present them.

The warrant from the Commissioners, dated October 20th of the above year, required "fower or five sufficient inhabitants of every parrish to enquier by all good wayes and meanes to finde out the trueth and worth of the true value, by the yeare, of church lyvinges, and the qualityes of the severall incumbants," &c. Accordingly the presentments are signed by constables, churchwardens, and, as it is quaintly expressed in some instances, by "other knowinge men of the said parrish." The Commissioners were "the Right Worship'le Edward Pits, Esq., William Jeffreys, Esq., Nicholas Acton, Esq., John Lathum, Esq., Henry James, Gent."

Bockleton.—John Barneby, Esq., had recently obtained a lease of the parsonage house, glebe lands, and tithes, for the lives of his three sons, paying a yearly rent of £8 for the same to the treasurer of Hereford Cathedral. Mr. Timothy Harris was curate at £10 a year, paid by Mr. Barneby. "Hath a very spacious church and seaventy-three houses and ffamilyes within itt." Tithes worth about £50.

Pensax.—Church "supplied by Richard Wilkes, minister of gods holy word, who is an able pracher and doth for the most pte prach twise every Lords day; and hath for his sallary all the profits ecclesiasticall yssuing out of Pensax[Pg 156] aforesaid wch doth amount unto eleven pounds p. ann. or thereaboute; and the reason why it is soe small is; because all the tyeth corne and graine (except home closses) formerly belonging to the Deane and Chapiter doth not come to the minister but is leased out to one Henry Pennell worth 20 pounds p. ann. or there aboute; and as for our minister we are very well contented wth him and he wth us and doe desire we may continue as we are, and wee desire the greate tythes may come in for the maintaineance of the minister when the leasse is expired. Item. Our church is scituate wth very great conveniency as neere as may be iudged about the midst of the p'ish where the congregation may come twise in the day in due and seasonable times to heare Gods word taught and prached and is an auncient place of buriall; and yf it should be united to any other church some of our congregation would have two miles and a halfe to the neerest church to us; or there aboute; and besides we have a populous congregation insoemuch that our church is very full upon most Lords dayes; and we have many aged many lame and impotent p'sons of our congregation; wch (yf our church should be annexed to any other p'ish) would be deprived of hearing the word of God the spirituall food of their soules wch is the onely ordinary meanes of salvation."

Knighton.—Chapel appendant to Lindridge; Dean and Chapter of Worcester, patrons; the tithes which came to the minister's share were £20 per ann. "Our mynister is Mr. Edward Shawe whoe preacheth and expoundeth constantly uppon the lords dayes." "The teyth corne and grayne are leased out to on Maior Inet for a terme yet endurynge at a c'teyne yearly rent wch goeth to pay augmentacon in this county as we are informed; the value is aboute thirty pounds a-yeare." "Our townshipp of Knighton and the villages thereunto belonginge are distant from Lindridge church about[Pg 157] two myles and some pts thereof three myles and the wayes thereof verry fowle and deepe in the tyme of wynter neyther is the church of Lyndridge large enough to hould or conteyne the one half of Knighton and Lindridge prishioners as hath been heretofore c'tified to the p'liamt[4] by Mr. Jon. Gyles mynister of Lyndridge and div'rs others p'ishion'rs there. Moreover our chappell of Knighton hath all p'ochial rytes belonginge unto it and our chappell is larger then the church of Lyndridge and besydes we have a very fayre gallary therin. There are also in Knighton above threescore ffamylies and div'rs of them very aged, And furthermore Knighton by p'porcon (proportion) is the one half of a towne of oyer, And our chappell standeth neere aboute the middest of Knighton aforesaid and therefore we conceave that o'r chappell is fitt to be made a p'ish church in regard the place is very populous & large as aforesaid, And therefore we conceave if the teyth of corne and grayne might be annexed to the said chappell it would be a considerable meanes to mayteyne a preachinge mynister in regarde it goeth to pay augmentation to other places."

[4] "Parliament" probably.

Lindridge.—"The Dean and Chapter of Worcester had the presentation thereof, but now wee know not in whose presentation it is." Mr. John Gyles present incumbent; "profits" received by him £70 a year.

Alfrick.—The Lord Protector patron; tithes, great and small, £30. "Wee p'sent that the cure is carfully supplyed twice ev'y Lords day, dayes of thanksgiveing and humiliation, by Mr. John Slade, a preaching minister, and hath from the (now) Incumbent Mr. Litleton for his sallery xxiv. marks p. ann." Hamlet consisteth of three score and ten families (beside other) at present uninhabited and most of them being aged people. "Lastly wee p'sent, that wee have [Pg 158]a decree for a resident minister to bee amongst us." Chapel distant two miles from parish church.

Suckley.—Lord Protector patron. Tithes, great and small, of Suckley, Alfrick, and Lulsley, £90. "The cure carefully supplyed twice every Lord's day, dayes of thanksgiving and humiliation, and that Aufricke is supplyed we believe with a preachinge minister at the charge of Mr. Thomas Littellton the now persone." Lulsey by one William Doughty, not a preaching minister; salary £5 paid by Mr. Littleton.

Little Kyre.—In the gift of Lord Protector, and united to Stoke Bliss; glebe worth £5; tithes, £10; Edward Russell, incumbent.

Hanley Child.—Sir Gilbert Cornwall patron; glebe worth £4; tithes, £10. Edward Benson, incumbent.

Orleton.—Chapel to Eastham; patron, Sir G. Cornwall; tithes, £16; Mr. Benson incumbent, who paid a preaching curate £8 yearly.

Hanley William.—Sir G. Cornwall patron; Mr. Benson incumbent; tithes, £15. Mr. John Phillips, "an able preacher, doth supply the cure." Orleton is represented as fit to be united to Hanley William:

Eastham.—In gift of Sir G. Cornwall. Glebe and tithes worth £67. 17s. 2d. Minister, Mr. Edward Benson, "an honest man and a preacher of the gospel." Hanley William, Hanley Child, and Orleton, are chapels. Parish very populous. Two curates, Mr. John Phillipps, who received £20 for serving the two Hanleys; Orleton curate, £8; the tenths £3. 8s. 5d.

Tenbury.—Robert Lucy, of Charlcote, patron; Joseph Smith the preaching minister. "That there is belonginge to the sayd vicar the vicaredge house and backside, and the churchyard, worth by the year £2;" tithes, £38. "That there is a p'sonage impropriate, wch was for the most part soulde by the ancestors of the sayd Robert Lucye long[Pg 159] since, and the rest leased out for lives, worth by the yeare £40." Tithe of corn and grain in Tenbury town and foreign, and Berrington, which Robert Lucy received, £50. Rochford, a member of Tenbury church, worth £30.

Cotheridge.—Appropriated to William Berkeley, Esq., "who doth hire Mr. Theophilus Cooke to supply the cure there, who is an able preaching minister;" salary, £4; tithes, £40.

Edvin Loach.—Fitzwilliam Coningsby, Esq., patron; Richard Jay, minister, "and an able painfull man in his office." Glebe, £5; tithes, £10. Tedston Wafer is united to Edvin Loach.

Shelsley Walsh.—Patron, Thomas Foley, Esq.; Mr. Edward Lane, incumbent, "who pracheth duely and constantly at convenyent tymes;" house, glebe, and tithe, £17. 10s.

Lower Sapey.—John Cliff, minister and patron; glebe, £9; tithes, £30.

Clifton-on-Teme.—This place is called "the borough and parish of Clifton," it being a place of some importance, and constituted a borough by Edward III, when it was privileged with fairs (now again revived, 1855), a weekly market on Thursday, and many other franchises and immunities, by a charter granted to Mortimer. The house, glebe, and tithe, worth £26. 6s. 8d. William Jeffreys, Esq., patron. "Also since the sequestration of Mr. John Greene, the late minister, one Mr. Samuell Ffiler was by the order of the comittee of the county of Worcester made minister thereof, who is an able preaching minister, and Mr. John Hill doth in his absence supply the cure and preacheth duely every Lords day twice, and receaves the proffitts." Shelsley Walsh worth £17. 10s., and Sapey Pritchard £39; both fit to be united to Clifton.

Acton Beauchamp.—Rectory, endowed with all tithes, and[Pg 160] hath glebe. No chapels annexed; nor any payments but the tenths, being 8s. a year. W. Berkeley, Esq., patron; Mr. George Fyncher, preaching minister, who received the profits and dues of tithes, and was also rector of Thornbury, Herefordshire, of which place, as also of Stanford (a chapel belonging to Bromyard), he likewise received the profits and tithes. One Mr. Richard Todd, a young man, was employed by the rector to preach at each of those places, but what salary the poor hard-worked curate obtained from the wealthy pluralist the deponents knew not; "but betweene them both wee at Acton Beachamp aforesayd have preachinge some tymes in the morninge onely, and nothinge at all in the eveninge, and some tymes noe excercise in the morning nor eveninge of the Lords day or dayes of humiliation; but are forced to goe to other places."—Profits and tithes of Acton Beauchamp worth £37, but the house greatly decayed. Glebe, £13. "We humbly desier that wee may not bee constrayned to goe to any other parish or chappell for the causes aforesaid, and in regard it hath cure of sowles and wee are at least fower and ffortie familyes, poore, aged, and weake people, and the soyle very hilley and durtie in the winter tyme and the out side of Worcester Shire and dioces, and remote from Thornebury aforesayd, which is in the county and dioces of Hereford, or any other church in the county or dioces of Worcester. Suckley is the nearest, which is two miles distant at least from church to church in our estimations."

Great Witley.—Thomas Russell, Esq., patron; Francis Marshall the "very able minister for the cure of soules." Living worth £50. No chapel. The inhabitants of Hilhampton, a hamlet in Hartley parish, had been in the habit for some years of coming to Witley church on the Lord's day, burying their dead there, and receiving the sacrament.

Shelsley Beauchamp.—A rectory in the patronage of[Pg 161] Mr. John Travell, merchant, of London; incumbent, Mr. Charles Nott. Glebe lands and tithes, £60, whereof £4 paid yearly to a free school at Stourbridge.

Abberley.—"A rectory in the presentation as we suppose of on Mr. Joseph Walsh esquier whose ancesters were wont to pr'sent. That our present minister is on Mr. John Dedicott an able constant preacher of the word and a man of unblameble life and co'versation." Profits of the rectory £50, which would be more if the lord of the manor had not detained some of them. Only an acre of glebe.

Stanford.—Tithe, glebe, and profits, £30, out of which 16s. 8d. paid yearly to the vicar of Clifton. Patron, Edward Salwey, Esq.; Thomas Steadman, incumbent, by whom the cure was "sufficiently served."

Kyre Wyard.—Edward Pytts, Esq., patron. The parsonage is reported to have "alwaies ben an entire thinge of it selfe and not united unto any other, beinge distant from any other church one mile and a halfe." Glebe, £10; tithes, £20. Hugh Thomas, the minister, "preacheth twice every Lord's day."

Rock.—Parish is three miles and a half in length and two and a half in breadth. Tithes, £120; glebe, £8. 6s. 8d. Chapelry of Heighington belonging to it, which, containing thirty families, it was desired, should be made a parish of itself. "The p'sent incumbent is Edward Partington m'r of Artes and minister of the Ghospell hee was p'sented by the right and title of John Newce, Esq., late lorde of the ma'or of Rocke. The p'sente patrons (as wee conseave) are Edward Partington, Clearke, and Charles Cornwalis, Gent. in right of theyre wives Mary and Edith dawteres and coheires of the said John Newce, Esq. The cure at Highingeton chappell is supplied by George Boraston m'r of Arte for w'ch he is allowed by Edward Partington Rector all the[Pg 162] tithes belonging to that hamlet, both small and greate, to the value of £30."

Bewdley.—"The presentment or certificate of the constables, churchwardens and burgesses of the borrough of Bewdley given in ye 7th Novem. 1655. Wee p'sent and certify yt neere the middle of the towne of Bewdley afforesad wee have a decent chappell w'ch was heartofore (as wee are informed) a free chauntery and had revenewes belonging to it, to the value of £200 p. ann. untill the same was transferred to the Crowne by Acte of Parliament, made in the raigne of King Edward the Sixte; since w'ch time the minister of the said chappell hath had an allowance of eight pounds p. ann. heartofore paied by the Auditors or Receivors (out of the King's revenue) and now paied out of the Rectory of Ombersley.

"That the said minnister before the incorporation of the said towne was elected by the townesmen there, as wee are informed, and since the incorporation theareof by the Bayliffe and Capital Burgesses. That Mr. Henry Oseland is our present minnister there in such sorte elected, who of right can onely claime the said annuity of eight pounds, forth of w'ch alsoe is deducted and the said minnister is forced to allowe, for portage and taxes two and twenty shillings and eight pence now by the yeare, and when assessments are more the disbursement is greater (besides w'ch) he hath an augmentation of fifty pounds p. ann. graunted to him soe longe as hee officiats there.

"That the said towne is a populous markett towne, whearein there are fifteene hundred or more fitt to be taught; that it hath been reputed to be within the parrish of Ribsford, that the parrish church is allmost a mile distant from the towne, that Mr. John Borraston is rector theareof, and hath out of our said borrough to the value of £48. 15s. 8d. p. ann. or[Pg 163] thereabouts. And the said Mr. Borraston nor his predecessors have not given any mainetenance to the minnisters of the chappell aforesaid, neither have had the choice of the minnisters to yt place as wee have heard.

"Alsoe we humbly conceive there is a necessity that wee should have both places continued and minnisters to supply them for these reasons following:

"1. Because neither of the places will contayne the whole people of the towne and parrish.

"2. Because of the inconveniences yt a whole towne should goe neare a mile to the publick ordinance many being aged sicke and weake, when there is a convenient chappell in the midst of the said towne, that will contayne most of the people there.

"3. Because the chappell hath had for neare 60 yeares past praching minnisters successively (as we are credibly informed) And now wee have in the chappell a very godly man, well affected to the p'sent government, whom the Lord hath made an instrument to bring in many soules (wee hope) to Christ.

"4. Because of the greatness of the number of the people the worke of the minnistery will be too much worke for one man and the incombes of the p'sonage to little for the maintenance of two minnisters, thearfore we shall humbly pray that the augmentation of £50 p. ann. alreaddy graunted with the stipend of £8 p. ann. may be made up a competent mainetenance for the present minnister of the chappell and soe for succession of minnisters there, w'ch being done will conduce much to the glory of God and good of the place.

"Furthermore wee humbly desire that both the meetinge places at Bewdley and Ribsford be kept up and each have its p'ochall bounds fixed, the fittest and most convenientst way (as we humbly conceive it) for the parrish of Ribsford to[Pg 164] conteyne the whole Lordship of Ribsford entire, and the division to be onely in the borrough as followeth.

"To begin at Seavern side where the towne liberties end; w'ch is at the lower end of the Lady meadowes, and soe along by Bewdley parke wall as its bounded by the Lordship of Ribsford and soe about the parke end to John Monnop his house at Blakemans Sitch; and from his house crossing the way to the outside bounde of the lande belonging to John Clare called Blakeman's Sitch; and soe from thence to Goodwater Brooke, and then downe the brooke to Dowles Brooke to the bounds betweene the Borrough and Dowles, down to Seaverne-side to the bottome of the Lady meadowes where we began.

"The tithes of yt parte w'ch belonge to the borrough wee conceive fittest to be settled one ye minnisters at the chappell (after ye decease of the p'sent incumbent at Ribsford), and the tithes belonging to the parrish w'ch is cutt of from the borrough may be continued to the minnister of Ribsford.

"Our reasons for the division thus made (amongst others) are these.

"1. In this way provision will be made for each auditory to have two sufficient congregations for two able men to preach unto and allow for private inspection and oversight.

"2. In this way provision may be made for a competent maintenance for two approved preachers in both parrishes if the augmentation and the other supplies before-named be continued and settled one the minnister at the said chappell.

"3. By this way the people that are devided from the borrough and settled in Ribsford parrish are all (within a very few houses) as nigh to Ribsford meetinge place as Bewdley chappell and many neerer.

"4. In this way there is no devision of houses yt are contiguous but those yt are united in one parrish and those yt are scattered in the other parrish.

[Pg 165]

all sworne."

Ribbesford.—Consisteth of two manors or lordships—Ribbesford and Bewdley, Sir Henry Herbert, patron; John Buraston, incumbent. Tithes in Ribbesford manor, £30; in Bewdley, £48; glebe, £2. Said John Buraston preacheth and catechiseth every Lord's day. Bewdley chapel is declared to be altogether unfit to be made a parish church, because there was no land attached to be made into a burying place.

Stockton.—Mr. Edward Walsh, patron, "whose forefathers have for many generations p'sented clerks[5] unto the same." Tithes, £30; glebe, £6. Mr. Thomas Roberts, rector, "supplyeth the cure himselfe and is a constant preacher of the word." "The tenths yearly payd out of the sayd parsonage is the sum of ten shillings eleven pence halfpenny farthing, and that the sayd tenths are payd to the use of the co'mon welth of England." Pensax chapel (belonging to Lindridge) is declared as fit to be united to Stockton.

[5] Clergymen.

Martley.—Parsonage without a chapel; John Clent, Esq., patron; house, glebe, and tithes, £100; Mr. Thomas Clent, incumbent, "who receaves the p'ffits of the said p'sonage, and by reason of his being weake and sick he hath one Mr. Charles Godwin who supplyes the cure under him and hath for his sallery about 20 pound and he preacheth constantly at due tymes."

Bayton.—A vicarage, value £20; patron, Lord Protector; John Simons vicar, "an able and painfull[6] teacher," who received all the profits of the living. The "church is very [Pg 166]well situated in a hansum and convenient place for a p'ish church, there is noe convenient place for a church to bee built in our liberty."

[6] Painstaking.

Mamble.—Vicarage, with house, garden, and tithes, worth £25; patron, the Lord Protector; incumbent, Daniel Mullurd, "who by reason of his age and weakness is not able to supply the cure but hath p'vided Tymothy Pyp (?) to officiate there who preacheth duely ev'y Lord's Day and receaveth the p'ffiitts for his sallary and paynes takeing there."—Bayton is in this return said to be worth £30, and the church "is fitt to be united to Mamble (it being the more convenyent church both for largeness and fittness for the people to meete there)" [They were accordingly united March 6, 1669.]

Doddenham.—"Imprimis, the parsonage of Doddenham and Knightewicke have ever time oute of minde belonged to one man. They are very unfitt (as wee conceive) to bee divided having ever beene united and are both very well worth £60 p. ann. Reprizes goeing oute of the same wee knowe none butt only 2s. 8d. a yeare that is paid to Mr. Henry Pitt of London." Glebe and tithes, £30. The Dean and Chapter were formerly the patrons, "butt since the sale of Deane and Chapter land, wee conceive Mr. Henry Pitt to be the patron thereof. The cure of both parishes Mr. Tayler beeing sequesterd is now supplyed by Mr. Mathew Boulton whoe receiveth the profittes thereof, whoe is an honest man, an able scoller, and a sound devine, as wee suppose him to bee." In Knightwick there were twenty families, and in Doddenham thirty-one.

Astley.—Rectory, worth £110. John Winford, Esq., patron; Mr. Samuel Bowater, the "able minister, who constantly preacheth twice a day."

Shrawley.—Patron, the Lord Protector; value, £80; Mr. John Jordan the "preaching minister." The living not fit to be united or divided.

[Pg 167]


"In all cases of preternatural pretensions a nice question must always present itself—as to how many of the believers are fools, how many of them knaves, and how many both one and the other."

In some parts of this county the following things are considered unlucky:

To meet a squinting woman, unless you speak to her, which breaks the charm.

To go a journey on a Friday.

To be one of a party of thirteen at Christmas.

To have a cut onion lying about in the house breeds distemper.

To cross knives accidentally at meal times.

To walk under a ladder.

For the first young lamb you see in a season, or a colt, to have its tail towards you.

To kill a lady-cow (in Dorsetshire called "God Almighty's cow").

For a sportsman to meet an old woman when going out shooting is a sure sign of bad sport.

To put the bellows on a table will evoke a quarrel.

To keep Christmas holly about the house after Candlemas Day, in which case it is believed the Father of Evil will come and pull it down himself.

To put salt on another person's plate at table. The superstition that overturning salt at table is unlucky is said to have originated with Leonardo da Vinci's picture of the Last Supper, where Judas is represented as overturning the[Pg 168] salt; but this little incident in the picture was more likely the result than the cause of the superstition.

To see the first of the new moon through a window, or glass of any sort, is also unlucky. But if you see it in the open air, turn the money in your pocket, and express a wish for luck during the ensuing month; you are supposed to ensure it.

"Always kill your pig in the new moon, or the fat will run," is an old saying.

It is unlucky to point to the moon, there being a notion that the "man" who was transported to that satellite for stealing sticks won't stand being pointed at.

To have a female come into your house the first thing on New Year's morning. So extensively does this absurdity prevail, that in many towns young lads make "a good thing of it" by selling their services to go round and enter the houses first that morning.

As to cutting your nails on a Sunday, the following couplet is very expressive:

"Better a child was never born
Than cut his hoofs of a Sunday."

This is varied in some districts, thus—

"Better a child were never born
Than on the Sunday[7] shear the horn."

[7] Some say Friday.

The itching of the nose is a sign of bad news, or, as some have it, that "you will be kissed, cursed, or vexed, or shake hands with a fool." If the ear itches, you may expect news from the living; if the face burns, some one is talking about you; when you shudder, a person is walking over the spot where your grave will be; and if your foot itches it is a sign you will tread on strange ground.

To make presents of knives or scissors will be sure to cut [Pg 169]off love or friendship; but if something is given in exchange, it prevents this bad effect.

Babies must never have their nails cut, but bitten, to prevent their becoming thieves.

To snuff out a candle accidentally entails the fate of not getting married in the same year.

It is in the highest degree unlucky to give your neighbour a light at Christmas time, or New Year's Day; and those who have neglected to lay in a stock of matches at that season often have to repent the oversight by being unable to light their fires in the morning, and in most cases amongst the poor neither prayers nor entreaties will induce them to part with their fire.

At Mathon, some people believe that if land is left unsown in a field, there will be a death in the family within the year; and when the accident is discovered they do not sow it again (see Mr. Watson's sketch of that parish).

Omens, or tokens of death, adhere to the popular belief to a more general extent than any other relic of superstition, perhaps one third of the population attaching more or less credit to them. It would be impossible to enumerate all these idle fancies, but among them are prominently the howling of a dog, a winding sheet in the candle, and the issuing of light from a candle after it is blown out.

A piece of curled tallow (winding sheet) on a candle has been scarcely ever known to fail as prophetic of death in the family or among friends.

When a single crow flies over you it is the sign of a funeral; two are a certain prognostication of a wedding.

A bit of coal popped from the fire must resemble either a purse or a coffin, and consequently good luck or death.

To have a long succession of black cards (spades or clubs) dealt to a person while at play is prophetic of death to himself or some member of the family.

[Pg 170]

When a corpse is limp, it is a sign that another death will happen in the house.

To have apples and blossoms on a tree at the same time is a sign of a forthcoming death in the family.

If a white bean grow in the garden it is a sure sign of death.

Any appearance among plants in the garden not understood is considered "a token." Thus a rose whose flower has any leaves intermixed with the red petals, as sometimes happens, is called a "death rose," and foretells death to some of the family.

The first snowdrop brought into the house betokens the death of the gatherer.

It is bad luck for any one to go through a house with a spade on his shoulder.

If a woman go into a neighbour's house before she is "churched," some great misfortune will befall her.

It is unlucky to have rain on a wedding day.

"Happy the bride the sun shines on;
Happy the corpse the rain falls on."

Old shoes thrown after a person leaving the house are supposed to be a source of great prosperity. This is practised by the highest classes in the county, especially at weddings.

So many mince pies you eat at Christmas, so many happy months you will spend during the year.

A donkey braying is an infallible sign of rain.

To cut your hair during the increase of the moon is said to ensure its favourable growth.

A bright speck in the candle is a sure indication that a letter is coming to the individual to whom it points.

If the sun shines warmly on Christmas Day there will be many fires in the ensuing year.

[Pg 171]

"A great year for nuts a great year for (the birth of) children," is a common saying, and double nuts presage twins.

Tea-drinking is made to foreshadow a large number of the casualties of life, including the receipt of presents, the visits of strangers, obtaining sweethearts, and the like, merely from the appearance of the tea and the "grounds" or settlement in the cup.

To leave a teapot lid open undesignedly is an indication that a stranger is coming; and when a cock crows in your doorway, or a bit of black stuff hangs on the bar of the grate, it is a sign of a similar event.

It is believed in many districts that some persons have white livers, and that if a woman marry a man having such a phenomenon inside him, she must die within twelve months.

The first time a baby is taken out of the lying-in room the nurse must carry it to the highest part of the house for good luck, and that it may "rise in the world."

The colliers at Dudley, in the event of a fatal accident to one of their number, all in the same pit immediately cease from working until the body is buried. A certain sum is also spent in drink, and is called "dead money." The same custom, more or less modified, prevails in many districts.

The "seventh son of a seventh son" is believed to be endowed with extraordinary curative powers in certain diseases, and the same with regard to a daughter under similar circumstances.

In the vicinity of the Malvern hills there is a superstition among the poorer people that when any one is bitten by a viper—which reptile is occasionally to be met with in bushy ground about the southern part of the range—if it can be killed forthwith, an ointment made from its liver will be a specific for the wound.

A "handsel," or first money received for an article sold,[Pg 172] if taken from a particular person or under particular circumstances, Mr. Lees says, is supposed to be productive of good luck; and some complain that they cannot do business for want of a handsel from the person of whom they wish to receive it.

In the year 1643, when some thieves plundered the house of Mr. Rowland Bartlett, at Castle Morton, among other things they took a "cock eagle stone, for which thirty pieces had been offered by a physician, but refused." These eagle stones were ætites, a variety of argillaceous oxide of iron; they were hollow, with a kernel or nucleus, sometimes moveable, and always differing from the exterior in colour and density. The ancients superstitiously believed that this pebble was found in the eagle's nest, and that the eggs could not be hatched without its assistance. Many other absurd stories were raised about this fossil.

The custom of burying exclusively on the south side of churchyards prevails very generally in the rural districts of this county, except where the smallness of the ground or the extent of the population has rendered it compulsory to use the north side, which, however, was formerly reserved for suicides and strangers. Many fanciful theories have been invented to account for this preference of the south side, but the most probable is, that, as the principal entrance to the church was usually on that side, it was natural for burials to be there also, that the deceased might have the benefit (so accounted in those days) of the prayers of the congregation as they walked to and fro and beheld the inscriptions.

The very ancient custom of divination by the flight of birds is not yet forgotten. The robin and wren are birds of good augury: if a raven flies over a house, there will soon be a corpse there. The number of magpies met with as you set out on a journey indicates what is to happen:

[Pg 173]

"One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a wedding,
Four for a birth."

Mr. Allies tells of a remarkable superstition that prevailed not many years ago at Suckley, where the country people used to talk a great deal about "The Seven Whistlers," and that they oftentimes at night heard six out of these seven whistlers pass over their heads; but that no more than six of them were ever heard at once, for when the seven should whistle together there would be an end of the world. This is supposed to have some reference to fairy lore, and is still believed by the Leicestershire colliers, who, when they hear "the whistlers," will not venture below ground, thinking that death to some one is foreboded. The superstition has probably a German origin.

Fern seed is supposed to make the gatherer walk invisible; but as the fern is said to bloom and seed only at twelve o'clock at Midsummer night, the seed can only be caught by using twelve pewter plates; the seed will then pass through eleven of the plates and rest on the twelfth.

There was formerly a "holy thorn" at Redmarley Farm, Acton Beauchamp, but it was cut down a few years ago because of the number of persons who went to see it. It is stated that the person who cut it down broke his leg and his arm soon afterwards, and the premises were burnt down. A similar thorn may be seen (as Mr. Lees informs us) in the hedge of a garden at Cherry Green, Alfrick.

A superstition exists in some parts of the county that if pieces of the alder tree are carried in the waistcoat pocket they will be a safeguard against rheumatism. In Wyre Forest, near Bewdley, is a botanical curiosity, namely, the celebrated old Pyrus domestica, said to be the only tree of[Pg 174] the kind growing wild in England. It is of the same kind as the "Rowan," or mountain ash, which was and even now is vulgarly worn as a remedy against witchcraft. It is most thought of by the common people, and there are various traditions concerning it. The name given to the tree is "the witty pear-tree"—the mountain ash being also called "the whitty tree," and the leaves of this tree are very similar. One of our Naturalist Field Clubs visited it in August, 1853: vegetation was then entirely confined to its top boughs, which however still held a few pears on them. Some hermit, or reputed "wise man," probably planted this tree, and derived part of his subsistence by distributing its leaves and fruit, as a protection against witchcraft.

In April, 1856, a poor woman, residing in a village about three miles from Pershore, acting upon the advice of her neighbours, brought her child, who was suffering from whooping cough, to that town, for the purpose of finding out a married couple answering to the names of Joseph and Mary, and soliciting their interference on behalf of her afflicted child, as she had been informed that if two married persons having those names could but be induced to lay their hands on her child's head, the whooping cough would be immediately cured. After scouring the town for a considerable time in search of "Joseph and his fair lady," they were at length discovered in the persons of a respectable tradesman and his wife residing in Bridge Street, to whom the poor silly woman made known her foolish request, which at first excited a smile from the good woman of the house, but was quickly followed, not by "the laying on of hands," but by good advice, such as mothers only know how to give in these matters. The poor mother then thankfully departed a wiser woman.

In the rural districts great faith is put in rings made of the shillings and sixpences given at the sacrament, and many[Pg 175] clergymen have told me of repeated applications having been made to them for sacrament shillings, for the purpose of keeping away the evil spirit, or as a remedy for fits. Mr. Watson, in his History of Hartlebury, says that he believes nearly every person in that district who was subject to fits wore such a ring. And there is another parish in the county where I am told even Protestant poor go to the Romanist priest to have the relics of saints applied for the cure of diseases.

The Worcester papers in the year 1845 recorded that a person from this city, being on a visit to a friend about four miles distant, had occasion to go into the cottage of a poor woman, who had a child afflicted with the whooping-cough. In reply to inquiries as to her treatment of the child, the mother pointed to its neck, on which was a string fastened, having nine knots tied in it. The poor woman stated that it was the stay-lace of the child's godmother, which, if applied exactly in that manner round about the neck, would be sure to charm away the most troublesome cough!

An infallible recipe for the cure of ague is said to be the following: Go to a grafter of trees, and tell him your complaint. You must not give him any money, or there will be no cure. You go home, and in your absence the grafter cuts the first branch of a maiden ash, and the cure takes place instantly on cutting the branch from the tree.

A Worcestershire woman was asked the other day why she did not attend church on the three Sundays on which her banns of marriage were proclaimed? She replied that she should never dream of doing so unlucky a thing; and on being questioned as to the kind of ill-luck that would have been expected to have followed up her attendance at church, she said that all the offspring of such a marriage would be born deaf and dumb, and that she knew a young woman who[Pg 176] would persist in going to church to hear her banns "asked out," and whose six children were in consequence all deaf and dumb!

At a certain country church in Worcestershire, on a Sunday early in 1856, there were three christenings, two boys and a girl. The parents of one boy were in a very respectable class of life; the parents of the two other children were in humble circumstances. The parties at the font had been duly placed by the officiating clergyman, and as it happened, the girl and sponsors were placed last in order. When the first child—who was the boy of the poor parents—was about to be baptized, the woman who carried the little girl elbowed her way up to the clergyman, in order that the child she carried might be the first to be baptized. To do this she had (very contrary to the usual custom of the poor, who, in essential points, are generally as refined as their superiors) to rudely push past "her betters"—i. e. the sponsors of the second boy. As she did so she said to one of the sponsors—by way of apology—"It's a girl; so it must be christened first;" and christened first it was. But the peculiar manner in which this was brought about showed that the woman was influenced by some curious feeling; and on the next day, an opportunity was taken to discover her motive. This was her explanation: "You see, sir, the parson bain't a married man, and consequentially is disfamiliar with children, or he'd a never put the little girl to be christen'd after the boys. And though it sadly flustered me, sir, to put myself afore my betters in the way which I was fosed to do; yet, sir, it was a doing of a kindness to them two little boys, in me a setting of my girl afore 'em." "Why?" "Well, sir! I har astonished as you don't know. Why, sir, if them little boys had been christened afore the little girl, they'd have had her soft chin, and she'd have had their hairy beards—the poor little innocent! But[Pg 177] thank goodness! I've kep her from that misfortin!" And the woman really believed that she had done so; and the generality of her neighbours shared her belief. Let this be a warning to clergymen, more especially to bachelors, who would stand well in the opinions of their poorer parishioners!


were formerly a prolific source of superstition. There is a valley in Nottinghamshire, where a village is said to have been swallowed up by an earthquake, and it was the custom on Christmas Day morning for the people to assemble in this valley and listen to the fancied ringing of the church bells underground. At Abbot's Morton there is a tradition that the silver bells belonging to the abbot are buried in the site of his old residence there. At Ledbury, a legend relates that St. Katharine had a revelation that she was to travel about, and not rest at any place, till she heard the bells ringing of their own accord. This was done by the Ledbury bells on her approaching that town. When the church at Inkberrow was rebuilt on a new site in ancient days, it was believed that the fairies took umbrage at the change, as they were supposed to be averse to bells; they accordingly endeavoured to obstruct the building, but, as they did not succeed, the following lamentation was occasionally heard by the startled rustics:

"Neither sleep, neither lie,
For Inkbro's ting-tangs hang so nigh."

Many years ago the twelve parish churches in Jersey each possessed a beautiful and valuable peal of bells; but during a long civil war, the states determined on selling these bells to defray the heavy expenses of their army. The bells were accordingly collected and sent to France for that purpose;[Pg 178] but, on the passage, the ship foundered, and everything was lost, to show the wrath of Heaven at the sacrilege. Since then, before a storm, these bells ring up from the deep; and to this day the fishermen of St. Ouen's Bay always go to the edge of the water before embarking, to listen if they can hear "the bells upon the wind;" and, if those warning notes are heard, nothing will induce them to leave the shore; if all is quiet they fearlessly set sail. As a gentleman, who has versified the legend, says:

"'Tis an omen of death to the mariner,
Who wearily fights with the sea,
For the foaming surge is his winding sheet,
And his funeral knell are we:
His funeral knell our passing bell,
And his winding sheet the sea."


is the occasion of great superstition. It is believed that anything planted on that day will prosper, and that if the seeds of the stock are sown in the evening, as the sun goes down, the flowers will be sure to come double. Hot-cross buns, or other bread made on a Good Friday, are supposed never to grow mouldy, and if kept for twelve months and then grated into some liquor, will prove a great soother of the stomach-ache; acorns dried and grated will have the same effect. The origin of the buns was the consecrated loaf made from the dough, whence the host itself was formerly taken and given by the priests to the people; they were marked with the cross, as our Good Friday buns are. The superstitious frequently preserved Good Friday buns from year to year, from the belief of their efficacy in the cure of diseases. And Poor Robin, in his Almanack for 1753, says:

"Whose virtue is, if you'll believe what's said,
They'll not grow mouldy like the common bread."

[Pg 179]

The poorer people of Offenham will by no means allow any washing to be about on a Good Friday, which would be considered the forerunner of much ill-luck. At Cutnal Green it is thought that if you do not empty your lie tub on Good Friday, you will have bad luck in the ensuing year.


In many places in this county, when the master of a family dies, the old nurse goes to the hive of bees, knocks, and says:

"The master's dead, but don't you go;
Your mistress will be a good mistress to you."

A bit of black crape is then pinned to the hive. It is firmly believed that but for this precaution the bees would all desert the place. A correspondent at Pershore says: "While conversing with a farmer's wife in this neighbourhood, I was gravely informed that it was certainly the truth, unless the bees were 'told' when anybody died in the house, something would happen either to bees or honey before long. She considered it a great want of foresight not to go from the house in which the 'departed one' had breathed his or her last to the hive without delay, and 'tell the bees' what had happened." In some places the custom is to take the key of the front door to the hive and tap it gently, saying, "Bees, bees, your master (or mistress) is dead." The hives also are usually covered with crape. If a swarm of bees return to their old hive, it is believed that a death will happen in the family within the year. This superstition probably prevails nearly all over the kingdom, and is believed to be of great antiquity. In Oxfordshire, it is said that if a man and his wife quarrel, the bees will leave them. In Devonshire, the custom is (or was in the year 1790) to turn round the bee-hives that belonged to the deceased at the[Pg 180] moment the corpse was being carried out of the house; and on one occasion, at the funeral of a rich old farmer at Collumpton, as a numerous procession was on the point of starting, a person called out, "Turn the bees;" upon which a servant, who had no knowledge of the custom, instead of turning the hives about, lifted them up, and then laid them down on their sides. The bees, thus invaded, quickly fastened on the attendants, and in a few moments the corpse was left quite alone, hats and wigs were lost in the confusion, and a long time elapsed before the sufferers returned to their duty.


are still believed in to a great extent among the poor. In the neighbourhood of Hartlebury they break the legs of a toad, sew it up in a bag alive, and tie it round the neck of the patient. There were lately some female charmers at Fladbury. The peasantry around Tenbury and Shrawley have also great faith in charms, and the toad remedy is applied at the former place, the life or death of the patient being supposed to be shadowed forth by the survival or death of the poor animal. At Mathon, old women are intrusted with the cure of burns by charming, which they do by repeating a certain number of times the old doggrel rhyme, beginning—

"There were two angels came from the north," &c.

In the neighbourhood of Stoke Prior a charm was some time ago used by a labouring man for the removal of the thrush (or "throcks" as it is locally termed) in children: he would put his finger into his mouth, and then into that of the child, rubbing the gums, while he mumbled out something terminating with "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," then put down the child without speaking another word, and leave the house without eating or drinking. Charming for the toothache is[Pg 181] still customary at Cutnall Green. The charm is written on paper, and sealed up, which the afflicted person carries about with him, and it is believed to be a sure cure. A "poke" or wart on the eye is "charmed away" by rubbing it with a wedding ring. Drinking out of a sacramental cup is considered a cure for the hooping cough. A pillow, filled with hops and laid under the patient's bed, is an undoubted cure for rheumatism. This charm was prescribed to George III by a physician at Reading, recommended by Lord Sidmouth, and administered to the royal patient accordingly.

The following lines are very generally taught to children in the rural districts, to say at night with their prayers:

"Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on;
There are four corners to my bed,
There are four angels round my head,
One to watch, and one to pray,
And two to carry my soul away."


was in old times an established institution. In 1666 the Chamberlain of the Worcester Corporation spent £10. 14s. in an entertainment to Mr. Gratrix, "an Irishman famous for helping and curing many lame and diseased people only by stroking of their maladies with his hand, and therefore sent for to this and many other places." Valentine Gratrix—surnamed the Stroker—was a great proficient and master of the art; and by a letter of his (still in existence) to the Archbishop of Dublin, it appears that he believed himself to be inspired by God for the purpose of curing this disease. He was entertained with great hospitality at many of our citizens' houses, and was thus fortunate in having a long start of the mesmerizers of the present day. The parish[Pg 182] register of Chaddesley Corbett contains a "Mem. That Nov. 24, 1685, a certificate was granted to Gervase Burford, to be touched for the King's evil;" and two years later King James II was at Worcester, and attended at the Cathedral for the purpose of touching persons affected with the evil. From the Worcestershire county records it appears that in 1688 one Susannah Rose petitioned the Court of Quarter Sessions on behalf of her brother, George Gilbert, a blacksmith, of Stourbridge, upon whose toes a hammer having fallen, had disabled him from work, and "after much suffering he was persuaded it was gone to the King's evil, went to London, and was touched by his Majesty, but afterwards was forced to go to a surgeon, at Rushock, under cure for above half-a-year, when he left him off, and would not let him be entertained in the parish any longer," and the poor petitioner being unable to provide for him, prays for his settlement at Bellbroughton, where he was born and apprenticed. In the parish records of St. Nicholas, it is stated that in 1711, one Walker, a pauper, was sent to London to be touched; and I believe that Dr. Johnson was touched by Queen Ann, as late as 1712. In the reign of Charles II a royal proclamation was issued stating the time when that monarch would touch persons afflicted with this disease. A broadside containing a printed copy of this proclamation still exists at Painswick, in Gloucestershire, in the possession of Mr. Gyde, the surgeon there. William of Malmesbury, who flourished in the twelfth century, alleges the origin of the Royal touch to have been on this wise: a young married woman, having some enormous glandular swellings on her neck, was admonished in a dream to have it washed by the King (Edward the Confessor). His Majesty readily fulfilled this labour of love by rubbing her neck with his fingers dipped in water, and before a week had expired, the tumour subsided and a fair new skin covered[Pg 183] the affected part, so that a perfect cure was the result—and not only that, but the woman, who had been previously childless, in less than another year became the mother of twins, which (the sage chronicler gravely remarks) "greatly increased the admiration of Edward's holiness. Those who knew him more intimately affirm that he often cured this complaint in Normandy; whence appears how false is their notion who in our times assert that the cure of this disease does not proceed from personal sanctity but from hereditary virtue in the Royal line."


"A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng on my memory,
Of calling shapes and beck'ning shadows dire,
And aery tongues, that syllable men's names
On sands and shores and desert wildernesses."

A lingering belief in witchcraft still remains among the most ignorant of our population, both rural and urban. Some particulars relative to the existence of this superstition in this county in the seventeenth century will be found among the county records in the early part of this volume. The law against witchcraft, passed in the time of James I, being very stringent, the driving out evil spirits, allaying of ghosts, and abjuring witches, became, for nearly a century, a profitable employment. Witch-finders existed as public officers; and beside the public executions which disgraced every assizes, multitudes of accused were destroyed by popular resentment, while others were drowned by the test applied, for if, on being thrown into the water, they did not sink, they were presumed witches, and either killed on the spot or reserved for burning at the assizes. In the year 1649, four persons were tried at Worcester for this supposed offence, and all were executed, two of them confessing their crime, viz.: Margaret Landis and[Pg 184] Susan Cook; Rebecca West and Rose Holybred died obstinate. The custom at Worcester was to duck the accused in the Severn (Cooken Street, or "Cucken Street," as it is spelt in some old maps, being no doubt the line of route on these occasions).

Baxter, in his "World of Spirits," speaks of those men who told of things stolen and lost, and who showed the face of a thief in a glass, and caused the goods to be brought back, who were commonly called "white witches." "When I lived (he says) at Dudley, Hodges, at Sedgley, two miles off, was long and commonly accounted such a one; and when I lived at Kederminster, one of my neighbours affirmed that, having his yarn stolen, he went to Hodges, ten miles off, and he told him that at such an hour he should have it brought home again and put in at the window, and so it was; and as I remember he showed him the person's face in a glass. Yet I do not think that Hodges made any known contract with the devil, but thought it an effect of art."

About the year 1672 a prebend of Worcester (Joseph Glanville) seriously wrote a book, entitled, "Some considerations touching the being of Witches and Witchcraft," which engaged him in a controversy that lasted as long as his life. The statute 9th George II, chap. 5 (1736), at length repealed the disgraceful Witch Act, and stopped all legal prosecutions against persons charged with conjuration, sorcery, &c.; yet what has once taken so firm a hold of the popular mind is not to be so easily eradicated; and Dr. Nash, who wrote his "Worcestershire" towards the close of the last century, asserts that not many years previously a poor woman, who happened to be very ugly, was almost drowned in the neighbourhood of Worcester, upon a supposition of witchcraft; and had not Mr. Lygon, a gentleman of singular humanity and influence, interfered in her behalf, she would certainly[Pg 185] have been drowned, upon a presumption that a witch could not sink. Later still, Mr. Allies informs us, that when the late Mr. Spooner kept a pack of hounds, whenever they passed through a certain field in Leigh Sinton, the hounds would invariably run after something which nobody could see, until they came to the cottage of an old woman named Cofield, when they would turn back again, the old witch having then got safely into her own "sanctum." The exploits of Mrs. Swan, of Kidderminster, who pretended to discover stolen property for everybody else except what she herself had lost, and who died in an awfully tempestuous night in November, 1850, when her cats so mysteriously disappeared, cannot yet be forgotten; nor the recent existence of "the wise man of Dudley," and many others of the same class, though not quite so celebrated, who are now living. Some of the Mathon people still believe that witchcraft makes their pigs waste away; and, when convinced of the fact, they kill the animal, and burn a part of the flesh, to prevent any ill effects to those who eat the remainder. Mr. Lees informs us of a pear tree in Wyre Forest, the fruit of which is even now hung up in the houses of the peasantry as a protection against witchcraft. The witch elm (Ulmus montana) was the one commonly employed for the purpose, as most easily attainable. That was good; the mountain ash or witten tree was better; and the sorb tree or true service (Pyrus domestica) was the strongest of all. Nine withes of witch hazel, banded together, is used as a rustic appliance to guard against witching influence. There is a place called "Witchery Hole," in Little Shelsley, concerning which, whenever a violent wind blows from the north, the people say, "The wind comes from Witchery Hole," insinuating that certain "broomstick hags" had something to do with raising the wind. For a baker to cross the flour before he[Pg 186] commences baking is regarded as a security against the witch entering the bread. The horse-shoe is still seen over doors, in many places, and fastened to bedsteads to keep witches away. At the Police Office, at Stourbridge, only a few months ago, a woman named Wassall charged a Mrs. Cartwright, a poor woman afflicted with paralysis, with threatening to do her some bodily injury. The defendant alleged that the affliction under which she was suffering was caused by the complainant, who had bewitched her; and that when she begged her to remove the spell, complainant told her it had been upon her for twelve weeks, and it should continue six weeks longer. Finding entreaties vain, the defendant made use of some idle threat, which led to the summons. A "charm" was shown to the Court, which the deluded creature had worn by the advice of a "wise" man to remove the spell; it was a small black silk bag, containing pieces cut out from the Prayer Book and Bible, and some hair, evidently from a cat's back. The Bench endeavoured to assuage the fears of the poor woman, and told her not to impute her affliction to the evil machinations of any one, at the same time severely lecturing the complainant for practising such deceit upon an ignorant and afflicted fellow-creature.

There were reputed witches at Malvern in the last generation; and at Colwall the common people are said even now to dislike peewits (lapwings) which visit that place, believing that their cry is "bewitch'd, bewitch'd;" and should any person capture one of these birds he is strongly recommended not to keep it for fear of misfortune or accident. Peewits are believed to be departed spirits who still haunt the earth in consequence of something that troubles them.

[Pg 187]


At Beoley, about half a century ago, the ghost of a reputed murderer managed to keep undisputed possession of a certain house, until a conclave of the clergy chained him to the bed of the Red Sea for fifty years. When that term was expired the ghost reappeared (two or three years ago), and more than ever frightened the natives of the said house—slamming the doors, and racing through the ceilings. The inmates, however, took heart, and chased him, by stamping on the floor from one room to another, under the impression that, could they once drive him to a trap-door opening into the cheese-room (for which, if the ghost happened to be a rat, he had a very natural penchant), he would disappear for a season. The beadle of the parish, who also combined with that office the scarcely less important one of pig-sticker, declared to the writer that he dared not go by the house now in the morning till the sun was up. (It was an ancient superstition that evil spirits flew away at cock-crowing.)

The Droitwich Canal, in passing through Salwarpe, is said to have cut off a slice of a large old half-timbered structure supposed to have been formerly a mansion-house; and in revenge for this act of mutilation, the ghost of a former occupier revisits his old haunts, affrights the domestics, and may be seen on dark nights, with deprecatory aspect, glide down the embankment, and suicidally commit himself to the waters below.

The Little Shelsley people will have it that the Court-house in that parish is haunted, and that a Lady Lightfoot, who was said to have been imprisoned and murdered in the house, comes at night and drives a carriage and four fiery horses round some old rooms that are unoccupied, and that her ladyship's screams are sometimes heard over the whole[Pg 188] Court. She has likewise been seen to drive her team into the moat, when the whole disappeared, the water smoking like a furnace.

Many of the ancient manor-houses of Worcestershire have similar superstitions. At Huddington, there is an avenue of trees, called "Lady Winter's Walk," where the lady of Thomas Winter, who was obliged to conceal himself on account of the share he had in the Gunpowder Plot, was in the habit of awaiting her husband's furtive visits; and here the headless spectre of her ladyship is still seen occasionally pacing up and down beneath the sombre shade of those aged trees. A headless female also appears at Crowle brook, by which it would seem that the poor heart-broken lady sometimes extended her visits.

At Leigh, a spectre, known as "Old Coles," formerly appeared, and at dead of night, with vis insana, would drive a coach and four down a part of the road, dash over the great barn at Leigh Court, and then cool the fiery nostrils of his steeds in the waters of the Teme. Mr. Jabez Allies also records that this perturbed spirit was at length laid in a neighbouring pool by twelve parsons, at twelve at night, by the light of an inch of candle; and as he was not to rise again until the candle was quite burnt out, it was therefore thrown into the pool, and, to make all sure, the pool was filled up—

"And peaceful ever after slept Old Coles's shade."

This Coles (as is recorded by Mr. Lees) was on intimate terms with a neighbour at Cradley, and being distressed for want of money, heard that his friend was going to Worcester to receive a large sum, and thereupon waylaid him on his return by night. Coles seized the bridle and threatened his friend's life; but the Cradley yeoman drew his sword[Pg 189] and made a furious cut, which freed him at once from the robber, and he rapidly rode home; on his arrival there he found a bloody hand firmly grasping his horse's bridle, and one of the fingers bore the signet ring of his friend Coles. Next day he went to Leigh, and found Coles in bed; he acknowledged his crime, and begged for mercy, which was granted in consideration of his awful punishment.

At Astwood Court, once the seat of the Culpepers, was an old oak table, removed from the side of the wainscot in 1816, respecting which tradition declares that it bore the impress of the fingers of a lady ghost, who, probably tired of appearing to no purpose, at last struck the table in a rage, and vanished for ever; but the ghost was also in the habit of walking from the house to "the cloven pear-tree."

At Holt Castle, it was not long ago believed by the servants that a mysterious lady in black occasionally walked at dead of night in a certain passage near to the attics; and likewise that the cellar had been occupied by an ill-favoured bird like a raven, which would sometimes pounce upon any person who ventured to approach a cask for drink, and having extinguished the candle with a horrid flapping of wings, would leave its victim prostrated with fright. A similar legend prevails at Leigh Court. A solution has been given to this legend, however, which would imply a little cunning selfishness on the part of the domestics who had the care of the ale and cider depôt.


A correspondent at Cutnall Green says that it is believed there that for a single female to sleep in a new pair of shoes and stockings is a sure means of her dreaming of her future husband; and for a female to sleep with a breast bone, knife and fork, and a plate, carefully put under her bolster, also is sure to make her dream of her lover.

[Pg 190]

Another informant—a lady, who forgot to state the place of her residence—sends me the following: If a maiden wishes to know her future husband, let her on Midsummer Eve, at midnight, descend backwards from her bed-room to the garden, and, still walking backwards around it, and scattering hemp seed with her right hand as she goes, repeat these lines:

"Hemp seed I sow
Hemp seed is to mow,
And the man that my husband is to be,
Let him follow after and mow,"

when he will suddenly appear with a scythe in his hand, which, unless the poor damsel be particular in keeping her right hand stretched out, may prove a dangerous weapon. Also on Midsummer Eve, take two flowers called among the country people "Midsummer Men," and planting them in the thatch, repeat your own and sweetheart's name. Should they grow, a wedding is certain, but if not, the lovers will be parted. On All Saints, commonly called "All Hallows," let a young woman take a ball of new worsted, and holding the end in her fingers, throw the ball through the window (at midnight) saying, "Who holds?" the man who is to be her husband will pick up the worsted, mention his name, and disappear. On Christmas Eve, let three, five, or seven young girls take each a sprig of rosemary and place it in a bowl of water, putting the vessel in the centre of the room. Stretch a string across directly before it, hanging thereon a white garment of each person. They must then sit speechless until the witching hour of midnight, when each of their lovers will appear and take a piece of rosemary out of the basin, and mention his own name and his sweetheart's. When the first new moon in the year appears, she may go to the garden, and looking steadily at it, say—

[Pg 191]

"New moon, new moon,
Tell unto me
Which of these three is my husband to be,"

mentioning the names of three young men, and curtseying to each one. When next she sees them, let her notice if they have their backs or faces towards her. The one who has his face towards her will be her husband. Hang a peapod containing nine peas over the doorway; the young man who passes under it first (not one of the family) will be the husband of the young woman who hangs it there. When a young girl receives a letter from her lover, let her pin it in nine folds and place it next her heart, on retiring to rest. If she dream of gold or jewellery, he is sincere in his professions; if not, let her beware. Take a ring and hang it upon one of your own hairs, hold it steadily over a wine glass half full of water, and wish to know how many years it will be before you are married. As many times as it hits against the side of the glass, so many years it will be before you are joined in holy wedlock.

If a girl pluck a rose on Midsummer Eve, and wear it on the succeeding Christmas Day, whatever single man takes it from her must marry her.

To ascertain whether a pretended lover is sincere, take an apple-pip, and naming one of your followers, put the pip on the fire: if it make a noise in bursting it is a proof of love; if there is no crack, it is a sign that he has no regard for you:

"If you love me, bounce and fly;
If you hate me, lie and die."

Another charm consists in sticking pips upon the cheek, and naming several lovers, the truest being shown by that which remains longest.

[Pg 192]

Fingered leaves are supposed to have a magical character. If the terminating leaflets of the common ash are even (they being usually odd) they bring "luck or a lover."

The herb Paris, a common plant in thick woods, has very frequently its four leaves multiplied into five or six, and thus generally gets the name of true love. So the common Cinquefoil, called "Five-leaved grass," from having its leaves in five digitated divisions, are made six or seven by accessory leaflets, and the following rhyme is repeated in rural places:

"Five-leaved grass, with six leaves on,
Put it under your pillow, and you'll dream of your mon."

A powerful love-spell is produced by what is called the "Speechless hawthorn." In May or June a flowering branch of the hawthorn must be silently gathered in the evening, and the maiden gathering it must refrain from speech that night, as a single word spoken would break the spell. Hastening to bed as soon as possible, speechless she must place the hawthorn branch under her pillow, and then, in the visions of the night, the man whom fate has destined for her future husband will certainly present himself.

The common brake fern (Pteris aquilina), cut in two obliquely, shows the initial letters of a sweetheart's name.

Get a maiden egg, carefully break it, and fill half the shell with salt; then eat the salt as you go to bed, walking up stairs backwards, and backing into bed also; be sure and keep silence and you will dream of your lover: if he should offer a glass of water he will be a poor man; if a glass of wine, a gentleman.

On some Friday night go to bed, and put your shoes under your pillow, crossing the left shoe over the right, and say—

"On this blessed Friday night
I put my left shoe o'er my right,
[Pg 193] In hopes this night that I may see
The man that shall my husband be,
In his apparel and in his array,
And in the clothes he wears every day;
What he does and what he wears,
And what he'll do all days and years;
Whether I sleep or whether I wake,
I hope to hear my true love speak."

Silence must be preserved till the morning, when the lover is expected to appear in a dream.

Another love spell is "the dumb cake." This cake must be made on New Year's Eve, and eaten in silence by a number of young girls; one of them must place a clean chemise, turned inside out, on a chair before the fire; this must be sprinkled with water by a branch of rosemary; all must then sit round the fire in silence till twelve o'clock. If any among the party wish to be married during the ensuing year, the form of her husband will approach the fire and turn the chemise.

Legends and Traditions.

The legends of Worcestershire, as of most other counties, are mainly traceable to middle-age ecclesiastical influences or to the popular ideas of the author of all evil. Some few are derived from an exaggerated recollection of historical facts, and a still smaller number have descended to us from pagan times. Of these, with others whose origin is buried in obscurity, I shall now proceed to give a sample.

Ribbesford church contains an ancient sculpture on the[Pg 194] tympanum of its principal doorway, representing an archer, with a doe or some other animal near him, which he has apparently shot at, but missing his aim, the arrow passes through what some have supposed to be a salmon, others a seal or a beaver; and the legend is, that Robin of Horsehill, the ranger to the manor, went out to shoot a buck, but incontinently pierced a salmon in the river. It is probable, however, in accordance with the known custom of the Norman builders, that the sculpture is merely intended to represent the leading feature of the locality, where an abundance of game was to be procured, the occupants of the manor being bound to furnish sporting for the monks of Worcester. Mr. Lees says that only recently another sculpture has been discovered at this church which seems to establish the proof that they are symbolical in design.

In the sandstone blocks lying in Whelpley and Sapey brooks, on the borders of this county and Herefordshire, are indentations which are accounted for in this way. St. Katharine and her maid Mabel (who ultimately took up their abode at Ledbury in consequence of having heard the bells of that town ring of their own accord), while travelling, had their mare and colt stolen, upon which the saint prayed that wherever the animals and the thief trod, the marks of their feet might be left, as a means of tracing them. The thief, it seems, was a girl in pattens, who took the animals down several brooks to avoid detection, and hence the marks of patten-rings and horses' feet visible to this day. Science, however, cold-blooded and unfeeling, has declared, by the mouth of Messrs. Murchison and Buckland, that the cavities alluded to are void spaces from which concretions of marlstone and other matter have been worked out by the action of the water. It has been subsequently urged by other geologists that these indentations were old water-marks made on the[Pg 195] shore when the consolidated "old red" was an ancient sea beach, that they were filled up with soft marly matter, which in modern times was washed away by the continued action of streams in flowing among the stones, and thus the simulated mare and colt's tracks became evident. Two of them, at a place called Jumper's Hole, are very conspicuous, but it is certain that they have been deepened year after year by the action of the water that covers them in time of flood. Between Clifton-on-Teme and Stanford Bishop the best specimens may be seen.

The legend of St. Werstan, the founder of an oratory at Great Malvern, was detailed by Mr. Albert Way in the Journal of the Archæological Institute, in 1845, and illustrations given from the ancient painted glass in the third window of the clerestory, north of the choir in Malvern Abbey church. The glass was probably executed towards the close of the fifteenth century, when a part of the structure was renovated. The first subject represents the hermit, under the guidance of angels, indicating the spot for the erection of an oratory, then the angels are seen dedicating the building, next is a figure of Edward the Confessor granting a charter, and lastly the saint is undergoing martyrdom at the hands of two executioners armed with swords, and the choristers or youths belonging to the establishment are being punished by similar tormentors. The series is highly curious, and seems unaccountably to have escaped notice before.

Our neighbours, the Danes, when they piratically infested this country and plundered and burnt so large a number of churches, were sometimes caught in flagrante delicto, and their sacrilegious crimes were punished by flaying—their skins being nailed on church doors, as a terror to all other evil doers. The late Dr. Prattinton, of Bewdley, in his Manuscripts now in the possession of the Society of Anti[Pg 196]quaries, states that some old doors then in the crypt of Worcester Cathedral were covered with fragments of human skin said to have belonged to a man who had stolen the sanctus-bell from the high altar. Portions of this skin have been since examined microscopically by Mr. Quekett, of the Museum of the College of Surgeons, and pronounced decidedly to be human. I have myself examined some old doors in the crypt and found on them patches of a substance like leather, of which I have a specimen now in my possession; but if it ever belonged to a Dane it affords substantial proof that they could not have been a thin-skinned race.

Similar specimens have been discovered at Westminster Abbey, and the churches of Hadstock and Copford, Essex; and Pepys, in his Diary (1661) mentions having seen Danes' skins on the great doors of Rochester Cathedral.

Evesham Abbey is said to have derived its origin from the same means which have been assigned to many other religious establishments—namely, supernatural interposition. Eoves, a swineherd, was attending his pigs in the forest on the site of which Evesham now stands, when the Virgin appeared to him in a vision, which he communicated to his master, the Bishop of Worcester. The Bishop repaired to the place, and saw a repetition of the vision, the Virgin enjoining him not only to erect a monastery on that spot but to prepare an image of herself, which was to be worshipped at Worcester. This prelate, in atonement for the sins of himself and the people, bound himself with chains, locked them together, and threw the key into the Avon, declaring that nothing but Divine interposition should loose his chains. Then he undertook a pilgrimage to Rome, where his servant, purchasing a fish for dinner, found in it the key which had been thrown away; and so they returned triumphantly to Evesham.

St. Kenelm's chapel, on the Clent Hill, near Stourbridge,[Pg 197] has also its legend. Kenulph, King of Mercia, who died in 819, left his young son Kenelm under the protection of his sister Quendreda, who, however, being ambitious for the throne, procured her lover, Askobert, to take the youth out hunting, and there, in a secluded valley, he cut off his head, and buried him. However, a dove dropped a scroll on the high altar at Rome, whereon was written a couplet giving information of the murder:

"In Clent Coubath, Kenelm, kinbarne,
Ly'th under thorne, heaued bereaved."

The lovers accordingly met with their desert, the murdered King was canonized, and on the spot of his murder a chapel was erected, and a spring of holy water burst forth which for many centuries proved an undoubted specific for sore legs and eyes, and a tolerably good source of emolument to the ecclesiastics.

The old church of St. Clement's, Worcester, stood on the eastern side of the Severn, close to the city wall; and the legend says, that it was begun to be built on the side of the river where the parish lies, but that angels, by night, took away the stones to the place where the church was afterwards erected. Modifications of this old tale, as also of the following, may be met with in almost every town. The original spire of St. Andrew's church is said to have been erected by a wealthy individual, out of gratitude for having, on a certain foggy night, been preserved from walking into the Severn, in consequence of hearing St. Andrew's bells suddenly strike out.

It is a curious circumstance that while the vulgar mind has been at all times prone to attribute extraordinary or unaccountable results to Satanic influences, and to regard the evil one as the very essence of craft and cunning, a tendency has always been apparent to reduce his pretensions as a prudent[Pg 198] or successful bargain-maker, especially in those instances wherein he was supposed to have come in contact with ecclesiastical antagonism, and he is almost invariably shown up in popular legends as being outwitted and frustrated in his diabolical designs, not less by expedients of the most simple kind, than by evasions as transparent as they are dishonest. We are told by Dr. Adam Clarke that Satan is far from excelling in knowledge, being more cunning and insidious than wise and prudent, and that we in general give this fallen spirit credit for much more wisdom than he possesses; an estimate of character which cannot be far from correct, if the following recollections of his doings in Worcestershire may be relied on: On the north boundary wall of Bromsgrove churchyard lies an old stone effigy of a man in the attitude of prayer, and it is said that the original of this figure sold himself to the wicked one for certain stipulations, one of which was, that when he died, he should not be buried either in or out of the churchyard; and the man accordingly gave directions to be buried under the boundary wall, and the effigy to be placed above it. This was a similar trick to that of the teetotaller, who, having taken the pledge not to drink liquors in or out of his house, compromised the matter to his own conscience by striding across the threshold and draining a jug to the bottom.

So the people of Bewdley were once saved from destruction by a drunken cobbler, who foregather'd with the man of sin, as the latter was travelling with a spadeful of earth to dam up the Severn, and thereby inundate the country. The devil had lost his way, and inquired of the cobbler, who, smelling sulphur, and foreseeing annihilation to all his customers at Bewdley, coolly assured the father of lies that the distance to that town was so great that he had worn out a whole lot of shoes he carried in a bag at his back. Whereupon the fallen spirit at once dropped the earth, and there[Pg 199] remains to this day the hill called "The Devil's Spadeful," or "Spittleful." A similar legend prevails in many counties, especially in reference to the Wrekin and High Ercall Hills, Shropshire, and "Robin Hood's Butts," Herefordshire.

Near Little Shelsley grows a plant called "Devil's-bit" (Succisa pratensis), which it is said was given to heal any deadly wounds, but as the devil saw how many wicked persons were thus rescued from his grasp, he bit the roots off this plant, whereupon it miraculously grew without them, and follows up the habit to this day.

In Bretforton church is the legend of "Maid Margaret" carved on one of the north pillars. It is said that a nun, being tempted by the devil, resisted, and was devoured by him, whereupon the holy sister, who always went armed with a cross, used it with such effect, that the evil one burst asunder, and she emerged.

Oliver Cromwell's compact with the devil, before the battle of Worcester, has been a favourite fable probably ever since the restoration of Charles II. Echard, the rev. historian, condescends to propagate the fable, that Cromwell, on the morning that he defeated the king's army, had conference personally with the devil in Perry Wood, and made a contract with him, that to have his will then, and in all things else for seven years from that day (he unsuccessfully proposed twenty-one or fourteen years), he should, at the expiration of the said term, have him at his command, to do at his pleasure, both with his soul and body. A valiant officer called Lindsay, an intimate friend of Cromwell's, is said to have been so horror-struck at the interview, that he fled from the battle that day, escaped to a friend's house at Norfolk, and foretold Cromwell's death would happen in seven years, which accordingly so happened on the anniversary day of the battle.

A few remains of fairy lore are yet to be picked up here[Pg 200] and there, and Mr. Jabez Allies has furnished us with as much probably as can be gained on this subject. He says that the peasantry of Alfrick and Lulsley occasionally suppose themselves "Puck-laden" (i. e. misled by that mischievous sprite Puck, alias good old cider), and so drawn into ditches and bogs, whereupon the evil genius sets up a horse-laugh; also that Rosebury Rock, opposite Knightsford bridge, was a favourite haunt of the fairies, concerning whom he tells some curious tales of the patronage they bestowed upon those who had done them a good turn.

In the same locality is a place called "Callow's Leap," where it is said that a mighty hunter, named Callow, leaped down the precipice; what became of him afterwards no record saith, but it may be presumed that the consequences of the leap were not fatal, as Callow's grave, or at least the name of it, exists near Tenbury, a considerable distance from Alfrick. Many are the tales of sights unearthly to be seen at the former spot by night—of hideous black dogs running about, and of the difficulty of getting horses by that part of the road at times.

The "Jovial Hunter" is a legend of some note at Bromsgrove, and an old ballad is still remembered there which records the wondrous achievements of "Sir Ryalash" in ridding that country of an enormous wild boar, which, nerved by the promise of a fair lady's hand, he succeeded in despatching after a four hours' conflict. Bromsgrove, it is said, received its name from Boar's-grove, and there is a place called Burcot, or Boar's-cot, about three miles to the east of the town. An old story has also been handed down that the devil kept his hounds at Halesowen (Hell's Own), and, with his huntsman, Harry-ca-nab, riding on wild bulls, used to hunt the boars on Bromsgrove Lickey. Feckenham forest extended round this neighbourhood for many miles,[Pg 201] and there are some historical evidences left of the zest with which the sport of hunting was formerly pursued here, among which is the mandate issued by Edward I to Peter Corbet, an ancestor of the family at Chaddesley, who, like other hunters of wolves, was in the king's pay. (See "Rambler," vol. iii, p. 220.) An argument has been raised from the fact of Robin Hood's name being applied to some trees and other objects in this neighbourhood that the great outlaw must have been at one time a resident in Feckenham forest; but there is no tangible evidence to support the conjecture, as the name of Robin Hood, like that of the Duke of Wellington or Lord Nelson, may probably be met with on signboards or otherwise in every county in England.

The parish of Wolverley has likewise its legend, derived from the period of the holy wars. Wolverley Court belonged to one of the Attwoods, who went out as a Crusader, was taken by the Saracens, and kept so long in a dungeon, that his lady at home, supposing him to be dead, was about to marry again, when the knight, having made a vow to the Virgin to present a large portion of his lands to the church at Worcester, was supernaturally liberated from his cell, whisked through the air, and deposited near home, when of course he lost no time in forbidding the banns. The prisoner's fetters are still preserved at the Court, as also the sculptured figure of the warrior, which formerly lay in the old church.

The name of Kidderminster is said to have been derived from the mythological period of Britain's history when King Cador resided at that town; his Majesty having been the founder of a minster there—hence Cador-minster; or, still more whimsical, comes the following versified legend:

"King Cador saw a pretty maid:
King Cador would have kissed her:
[Pg 202] The damsel slipt aside and said—
'King Cador, you have miss'd her.'"

(And echo answered—"Cador-mister.")

As to the etymology of the parish of Oddingley, Dr. Nash informs us that Odd and Dingley, two Saxon giants, were said to have fought upon the common at that place, till the former, beginning to feel anxious for his own personal comfort, roared out—

"O Dingley, Dingley, spare my breath:
It shall be called Oddingley heath."

Oddo and Doddo were two powerful dukes of the Mercian kingdom, whose history is connected with that of several towns in this district, and they were buried in Pershore church. Oddingley, however, most probably means "the field of Oding."

In Areley Kings churchyard is a curious monument formed of sandstone blocks, like a portion of a wall, being part of the ancient fence; it bears this inscription in old capitals:

"Lithologema quare?
Reponitvr Sir Harry."

Sir Harry Coningsby, who is thus commemorated, lived in a moated grange in Herefordshire, and was early left a widower, with one child, a daughter, on whom all his happiness was centred. He was standing one day at an open window with the child in his arms, when, in some playful action, she threw herself out of her father's arms, and fell into the moat beneath, where life soon became extinct. The wretched parent could no longer bear to reside at that fatal spot, and removed into Worcestershire, to a house called "The Sturt," in Areley Kings, where he led a solitary life, went usually by the name of "Sir Harry," and when he died was buried in a corner of the churchyard, the epitaph being[Pg 203] carved on that part of the churchyard wall which formed Sir Harry's "pane.[8]" A walnut tree was planted close to the grave, and the boys of the parish were to have the walnuts, and crack them on "Sir Harry's" gravestone; but the tree was cut down by the late rector.

[8] The term "pane" means that portion of the churchyard fence which was allotted to each parishioner to keep in repair.

The ancient parish of King's Norton keeps up the memory of two traditions—first, that Queen Elizabeth once slept in a large and picturesque building still shown there; and second, that some centuries ago, letters were usually directed to "Birmingham near Kingsnorton." Droitwich likewise boasts of having, in some remote period, been a town of so much more importance than Worcester, that the latter was known chiefly by its vicinity to the former. There is indeed every probability that the salt springs of Droitwich were worked by the earliest settlers in this island.

The register of Broughton Hackett is said by Nash to contain an entry, that in the reign of Queen Anne the minister of that parish was tried, convicted, and executed, for baking his shepherd's boy in an oven!

There is a tradition at Birtsmorton that Cardinal Wolsey was once a servant in the Court-house of that parish.

Tibberton also has its traditions. It is said there that one Roger Tandy (temp. James I) was so very strong, that being at Sir John Pakington's, at Westwood, he took up a hogshead full of beer, drank out of the bunghole, and set it down again, without resting it on his knee or elsewhere. Also that one Hugh Pescod, alias "the little Turk," in the time of Oliver Cromwell, was hung up by the neck for half-an-hour by some Parliamentarian soldiers, and being cut down and thrown into a saw-pit, he recovered; in memory of which era in his history he planted some elm trees near his orchard at Wood Green.

[Pg 204]

At Dudley there is a tradition that many years ago a giant lived in Dudley castle, as did also one in the castle of Birmingham. The Birmingham giant had done suit and service to the Dudley giant for many years, but growing fat he began to kick, and refused to serve the Dudley giant longer. A furious dispute thereupon broke out; the Dudley giant in his rage threw a large stone all the way from Dudley at the Birmingham giant, and demolished his castle and killed him. Some of his surviving followers erected a stone in the lane as a memento of prowess and rage, and called it the war stone, whence the name Warstone Lane. When the lord of Dudley castle began the dispute which ended in the ruin of the lord of Birmingham, the latter had a large and deep hole made in the castle yard, in the which were buried the treasures and the muniments of his house, with a full charge to his familiar spirit—every great man in those days had one—to watch over them until better days came and justice were done to him. Some years ago, as a gentleman was digging a well in his garden he came unexpectedly upon a strong box. He began to dig round it, and had got it slung in ropes for the purpose of hauling it up, when an ugly dwarf jumped upon it (no one seeing where he came from or went to), exclaiming, "That's mine." Immediately all the earth fell in the hole he had made. He tried many times to get the box, but every time the same thing occurred, so he gave up the attempt in despair. My grandmother has often told me she did not know the gentleman, but she had frequently seen the pick and spade with which the hole had been made.—J. Vernal.

St. Augustine's Oak—the celebrated tree under which the "Apostle of the English" is said to have held a conference with the British bishops—has been claimed by many places in this county as a plant of Worcestershire growth: Rock and Alfrick, a place called "The Apostle's Oak," near Stan[Pg 205]ford Bridge, the Mitre Oak at Hartlebury, and other places, have been pointed out, but the record left of the site of this famous oak is so vague that any attempt at fixing it must be mere matter of conjecture. Some have supposed that the parish of Rock, whose original name was derived from the Saxon word signifying an oak, must have been the site, as Dr. Nash informs us that there was a hollow oak there held in great veneration by the country people, and called by them "The Apostle's Oak." When the turnpike was first erected, it served as a habitation for the keeper, and through his carelessness was burnt down.

Old Customs.


It is an ancient custom at Norton, near Evesham, on the 28th of December (Innocents' Day) to ring a muffled peal, in token of sorrow for the slaughter of the hapless "babes of Bethlehem," and, immediately afterwards, an unmuffled peal, in manifestation of joy for the deliverance and escape of the infant Saviour.


At Huddington church a custom prevails not to ring the bell for service till the clergyman appears in sight—which probably originated in that interesting period of church discipline when congregations were not always sure of a parson till they had caught him.

[Pg 206]


The number of godfathers and godmothers to attend at baptisms was fixed at Worcester, at a synod held in 1240, when the same provision was made as is now required by our rubric, viz., "That there should be for every male child that is to be baptized two godfathers and one godmother, and for every female one godfather and two godmothers."


The custom of "crabbing the parson" was observed till lately at St. Kenelm's chapelry, near Stourbridge. It was the practice for the villagers, and all who chose, to arm themselves with crabs on the wake Sunday, and as the parson approached the church they were plentifully and vigorously discharged at him in the most approved mode of "horizontal firing" until he reached the haven of the church porch. The substitution of sticks and stones for crabs led to the suppression of the practice. It is said that the origin of this curious game was at some "time immemorial," when a certain clergyman who served this chapel abstracted some dumplings from a pot at a farmhouse near and deposited them in the sleeves of his surplice, from which they rolled out during service time on the head of the clerk, who, thinking himself insulted, retaliated upon the parson by pelting him with a quantity of crabs which he had accidentally got in his pocket.


Two ancient customs are observed at Worcester Cathedral—first, the separation of men from the women; and second, the division of the morning service into two. The allotment to each sex of a distinct place in the church was very strictly[Pg 207] observed among the primitive Christians, and Geoffrey of Monmouth states that the Britons observed the ancient custom of Troy, by which the men and women used to celebrate their festivals apart. There is an old jeu d'esprit in relation to the custom at Worcester:

"The churches in general, we everywhere find,
Are places where men to the women are joined;
At Worcester, it seems, they are more cruel hearted,
For men and their wives are brought here to be parted."

As to the division of the morning service (one portion being performed between eight and nine o'clock; and the Litany, Communion, and sermon, from eleven to one), it is to be observed that these services were originally intended to be distinct, so that the curate might have time between them to receive the names of those who intended to communicate. The Communion Office still everywhere retains the old name of "the second service;" and Bishop Overal imputes it to the negligence of ministers and the carelessness of the people that they are huddled together into one office. (See Wheatley on the Common Prayer.)


The neighbourhood of Abberton, Flyford Flavel, Wick, Naunton Beauchamp, and other rural parishes in that district, celebrate weddings by serenading the house of the newly-married pair at night, and firing off guns, pistols, or any other instrument which will explode. Some parties at Wick were not long ago summoned before the magistrates for having participated in one of these popping-bouts, but the indignation of the district was greatly aroused by their being mulcted in certain expenses and ordered to discontinue the practice, for it is believed to be nearly "as old as Adam," and as indispensable a ceremony as the marriage vow itself.

[Pg 208]


At Broadwas, at all funerals, the bearers invariably set down the coffin in the middle of the lane leading to the church, and forming a circle around it, they all bow most reverentially—a remnant, no doubt, of those ceremonies observed in Catholic days, to mark respect for the departed and to bid him farewell.


Brand, in his "Popular Antiquities," states that a servant, named Betty Jelkes, who lived several years at Evesham, informed him of an ancient custom at that place for the master-gardeners to give their workpeople a treat of baked peas, both white and grey, and pork, annually on Holy Thursday.

On Ascension Day the inhabitants of Nantwich formerly assembled and sang a hymn of thanksgiving for the blessings of brine, and a very ancient pit there was held in great veneration and bedecked with boughs, flowers, and garlands; a jovial band of young people encircled the place, celebrating the occasion with song and dance. The custom also was yearly observed at Droitwich, on St. Richard's Day. This "Saint Richard" was Richard de Burford, Bishop of Chichester, who was born at Droitwich about the year 1200. Leland says that the principal salt springs "did fayle in the tyme of Richard de la Wich, or Burford, Bishop of Chichester; and that after, by his intercession, it was restored to the profit of the ould course; such (he adds) is the superstition of the people. In token whereof, or for the honour that the Wichemen and saulters bear unto this Richard, their countrieman, they used of late tymes on his daye to hange about the sault springe or well, once a yeere, with tapestrie, and to have drinking games or revels at it." One year "in the[Pg 209] Presbyterian time (as Aubrey hath it) it was discontinued, and after that the spring shrank up or dried up for some time; so afterwards they revived their annual custom, notwithstanding the power of Parliament and the soldiers, and the salt water returned again and still continues."


The 5th of November—so long celebrated as

"The day that God did prevent
To blow up his king and parliament,"

—is still faintly remembered among us by means of squibs and crackers stealthily discharged by mischievous boys in the streets. The good old system of bonfires—always a most popular mode of rejoicing—would probably not have been abandoned but for the numerous conflagrations it must have occasioned at a time when thatch generally covered our houses. In 1789, the Worcester corporation caused the bellman to cry down bonfires, although previous to that time the expense of providing fuel, and drink to hand round to the happy spectators, had been regularly defrayed out of the civic purse. Last year (1855) the notoriety of the day was partly revived, though on another account—namely, its being the first anniversary of the battle of Inkermann.


is wonderfully shorn of its honours since people have generally taken to read history, and have learned how little reason they have to bless the memory of the Stuarts. The marvellous escape of Charles II, when his pursuers passed under the oak tree in which he was secreted after the battle of Worcester, is now only commemorated in the city which boasts of being "faithful" to its kings whether their[Pg 210] memory be odorous or not, by some half-dozen boughs of oak being affixed over as many doorways in different streets.


Midlent, or, as it is called in Worcestershire, "Mothering Sunday," is still observed as a minor festival, upon which all the children and grand-children visit their parents, and the pride of the feast is invariably a loin of veal.


The first of April, too, is not forgotten by the young fry, as "April fool day;" when all sorts of traps are set to make each other look ridiculous.


The old custom of drinking healths is on the decline. In a book of rhymes, published about 1660, in "a catch made before the king's coming to Worcester with the Scottish army," is the following:

"Each man upon his back
Shall swallow his sack,
This health will endure no shrinking;
The rest shall dance round
Him that lies on the ground:
'Fore me this is excellent drinking."


The May-pole, it has been already stated, is still in existence at Offenham, Hartlebury, Bayton, &c. Thomas Hall, a puritanical writer (1660), author of the "Downfall of May Games," says—"The most of these May-poles are stollen, yet they give out that the poles are given them. There were two May-poles set up in my parish (Kingsnorton);[Pg 211] the one was stollen, and the other was given by a profest Papist. That which was stollen was said to bee given, when 'twas proved to their faces that 'twas stollen, and they were made to acknowledge their offence. This pole that was stolen was rated at five shillings: if all the poles, one with another, were so rated, which was stollen this May, what a considerable sum would it amount to! Fightings and bloodshed are usual at such meetings, insomuch that 'tis a common saying, that 'tis no festival unless there bee some fightings."


"Heaving" or "lifting" at Easter has not long been discontinued at Worcester, the locality where the writer last heard of its performance being in Birdport and Dolday. On Easter Monday the women would surround any man who happened to be passing by, and by their joint efforts lift him up in the air, and on the next day the men did the same to the women. The only mode of escaping this kind of elevation was by "forking out" (as they term it in the classical phraseology of that neighbourhood) a certain sum to be spent in drink. At Hartlebury, a few years back, the farmhouse mistress would give the male servant a treat on Easter Tuesday, to heave the female servant, for she superstitiously believed that it would prevent the female servant from breaking the crocks during the ensuing year. At Kidderminster, on Easter Monday, the women would deck themselves gaily for the occasion, dress a chair with ribbons, and place a rope across the street to prevent the escape of any unfortunate man who chanced to pass that way. He was then seized, placed in the chair, elevated up on high, turned round three times, set down again, and was then kissed by all the women. He was also expected to pay something towards the evening's entertainments of tea and dancing. Next day[Pg 212] the women were heaved by the men. This custom was observed in the streets till about a dozen years ago, and even to a later period in the factories and public-houses in Kidderminster. Heaving was no doubt originally designed to represent the resurrection.


is one of the best preserved customs of the middle ages, and will probably last as long as "young men and maidens" have a tender regard for each other. The first woman seen by a man on the morning of this day, or vice versa, is called their Valentine, though the parties never see each other again. Since the establishment of the penny postage system and the cheapening of paper and print, the custom of sending Valentines has been much on the increase, some of our Worcester booksellers having found the trade sufficiently important to warrant the insertion of advertisements in the newspapers announcing a varied stock of these little missives on hand; while the progress of education and taste among the people is shown by the elegance with which some of the amatory designs are "got up." There is no satisfactory account of the origin of this custom, which has been proved to have existed at least five centuries ago. In the life of St. Valentine there is nothing that could have given rise to it. There was a rural tradition that on this day every bird chose its mate:

"Look how, my dear, the feather'd kind,
By mutual caresses joined,
Bill, and seem to teach us two
What we to love and custom owe.
Shall only you and I forbear
To meet and make a happy pair?
Shall we alone delay to live?
This day an age of bliss may give.
[Pg 213]
But ah! when I the proffer make,
Still coyly you refuse to take;
My heart I dedicate in vain,
The too mean present you disdain.
Yet, since the solemn time allows
To choose the object of our vows,
Boldly I dare profess my flame,
Proud to be yours by any name."


is still resorted to by the boatmen of the Severn and the canals, whenever the frost interrupts their ordinary occupation, on which occasion small parties of them, dressed up fantastically with ribbons, and carrying short sticks, which they strike together in time with parts of the dance, perform in the streets, soliciting alms. The Morris Dancers made a considerable figure in the parochial festivals of the olden times. It is said the custom was introduced by the Moors into Spain. A few years ago a dance was performed in Herefordshire by eight men whose united ages amounted to eight hundred years; and Sir William Temple mentions that in a certain year of King James's reign there were ten men in Herefordshire who went about that county as Morris Dancers whose ages altogether numbered twelve hundred years! 'Tis not so much (says he) that so many in one county should live to that age, as that they should be in vigour and humour to travel and dance.


linger yet among us, but their operations are confined to an early serenading of the citizens with soft music a few mornings in the Christmas time. Formerly the Worcester Corporation kept a "company of waites," paying them wages[Pg 214] and dressing them in livery (cock'd hats and blue coats or cloaks), to be ready to play on all public occasions; but towards the close of the last century they were gradually superseded by another order of minstrels, "ye drums and fifes." Busby, in his Dictionary of Music, says the term "wayghts or waites" formerly signified "hautboys," and, what is remarkable, has no singular number. From the instruments, its signification was for a time transferred to the performers themselves; who, being in the habit of parading the streets by night with their music, occasioned the name to be applied generally to all musicians who followed a similar practice; hence those persons who annually, at the approach of Christmas, salute us with their nocturnal concerts, were, and are to this day, called Wayghts.


still is occasionally rung at St. Helen's church, in this city, and at Bewdley and King's Norton, also at Pershore from October till March. At Evesham it is rung in the fine old bell-tower at eight o'clock every evening, except on Saturdays, when it is rung at seven o'clock during the Christmas holidays—the week before and the week after Christmas Day it is rung at seven o'clock; and probably at other old towns in the county which I have not ascertained; but the perpetuation of the old custom seems to be dependent solely on the poor ringers' respect for ancient usages, as they apparently get no money for their pains. At St. Helen's, after ringing the eight o'clock bell, it was usual to strike upon it the number of the day of the month.


At St. Martin's church, a few weeks before Christmas, a bell is nightly rung, the expense of which, I believe, is pro[Pg 215]vided for under the will of one Sir Robert Berkeley, Knight, who left a fund for bell-ringing on certain days, and to purchase bell-ropes. The bell at St. Martin's is called "the plum-pudding bell," probably in allusion to the approaching Christmas festivities, as the "pancake bell" was formerly rung in many places at Easter. In most old towns, as at Worcester and Bewdley, a very early morning bell was formerly rung, probably for the purpose of waking up apprentices and arousing the working classes generally, as also school-boys to their studies; but these parties are now mainly left to manage their early rising as they can, unless some friendly factory bell be at hand. There was also a passing bell, tolled while persons were dying. In the articles of visitation for the diocese of Worcester in 1662 occurs the following: "Doth the parish clerk or sexton take care to admonish the living, by tolling of a passing bell, of any that are dying, thereby to meditate of their own deaths, and to commend the other's weak condition to the mercy of God?"


"Catherning," or "Cattaring,"—that is, the observance of St. Catharine's Day (Nov. 25) has not yet gone out of remembrance in Worcestershire. It was formerly the custom of the Dean and Chapter—that day being the last of their audit—to distribute amongst the inhabitants of the College precincts a rich compound of wine, spices, &c., called "the Cattern bowl." A modified edition of the custom, I believe, is still observed. At Leigh, Harvington, Offenham, and other parishes, the young people had a custom of going round to the houses and asking for apples and beer, using a doggrel rhyme on the occasion which differs in most places, and St. Thomas's and old Christmas Day are sometimes selected for the purpose. The St. Thomas's Day perambulation is in[Pg 216] some places called "Going a gooding." The rhyme or carol more usually sung on St. Catharine's Day began thus:

"Catt'n and Clement comes year by year,
Some of yr apples and some of yr beer;
Some for Peter, some for Paul,
Some for Him who made us all.
Peter was a good old man,
For his sake give us some:
Some of the best and none of the worst,
And God will send yr souls to roost."

Concluding thus:

"Up the ladder and down with the can,
Give me red apples and I'll begone."

The ladder alluding to the store of apples, generally kept in a loft; and the can, doubtless, to the same going down into the cellar for the beer. In some districts of the county the following doggrel is repeated:

"St. Clements! St. Clements! A cat by the ear!
A good red apple—a pint o' beer!
Some o' your mutton, some o' your vale! [veal]
If it's good, gie us a dale, [deal]
If its naught, gie us some saut! [salt]
Butler, butler, fill the bowl—
If you fill it of the best,
God will send your soul to rest;
But if you fill it of the small,
The Devil take butler, bowl, and all!"

A correspondent states that this custom originated, or was revived, when Queen Elizabeth visited Worcester, the inhabitants sparing no expense to give her Majesty a gracious reception upon St. Catharine's Day, when a number of apples were strung before the fire and the citizens went with a can from house to house, begging apples and beer, and repeating the above lines.

[Pg 217]


At Kidderminster is a whimsical charity for the benefit of the inhabitants of Church Street. Mr. Brecknall, a bachelor, in 1778, bequeathed a farthing loaf and twopenny cake annually to every single person born in that street who should apply for it on the 21st of June; the applicant is eligible during the whole of his or her life, or in whatever part of the world residing. The mere residents of Church Street, if not born there, are also entitled to a cake, but their claim is forfeited when they leave the street. The recipients make themselves truly "jolly" on the night of the distribution.—In the same town the inhabitants formerly assembled at a particular hour on Michaelmas Day, on the occasion of the election of a bailiff, which was announced by the ringing of the town-house bell, and during one hour—termed "lawless hour"—the poorer classes amused themselves by throwing cabbage-stalks at each other, while the higher classes threw apples. Sometimes the apples were thrown from windows, to be scuffled for, and many a black eye was the consequence of this fruit being used as a projectile. After a whole street had been amused by this practical fun, it was given out by some leader of the mob what locality was next to be favoured, and thither they all proceeded at once. This custom was observed within the last twenty years.


On the second Sunday in July there was a custom at Chaddesley Corbett to put strangers "through the whoop." I cannot ascertain exactly what this practice was, as the inhabitants from whom I have sought information fight exceedingly shy of it, and some even deny the existence of the custom; but one gentleman informs me that it was usual[Pg 218] on that day for the lower order of the parishioners to play some practical joke—anything which first presented itself to their imaginations—upon whatever stranger happened to come within their boundary.


There is a curious tenure at Inkberrow. The manor and advowson were granted by Philip and Mary to an ancestor of the present Lord Abergavenny, on condition that in default of male issue the same should revert to the Crown. Up to the present time, however, there has been no lack of males in the family, and the present noble lord "hath his quiver full" of promising sons.


Among the colliers in the north of this county, as also that singular race of beings known as the "Lye-wasters," near Stourbridge, the custom is observed of adopting nicknames, so that they are but very little known by their Christian or surnames, and an officer who goes to serve a writ or summons has a task which he finds himself unable to perform. Amusing instances are given in "The Rambler," vol. ii, p. 80, and vol. iii, p. 253.


At Halesowen, in former times, the celebration of bride-ales or love-ales, at a wedding, prevailed, and led to such disorder that during the reign of Elizabeth it was found necessary by the Borough Court to make some most stringent orders thereon. The custom was for the bride to sell a quantity of ale, for which she received, by way of contribution, whatever handsome price the friends assembled chose to pay; the object being to assist the young people in commencing[Pg 219] housekeeping. The custom is now reversed, for the entertainment to be given by young married people to their friends is at present a serious item.


The way of relieving parochial paupers at Harvington in the seventeenth century was by assigning them for certain days to any of the inhabitants who would employ them. An entry occurs in the parish register thus:

"April 6, 1697. A particular of the several days as Thomas Godfrey is to worke with the persons under written, for which they are to give him 8d. a day, or if they doe not employ him, 4d. per day; to begin from the 6th of April, 1697, and soe to goe thro' the towne as thus:"

Then follows a list of thirty-six persons who were to employ the said Thomas Godfrey, giving him a month's intermission at harvest time.


On the confines of Worcestershire, towards Ledbury, it was some years ago the custom, on Twelfth Night, for the farmers to make twelve fires upon the head (east side) of one of their wheat fields. One of these fires was larger than the others, which they called "Old Meg," and around this the farm servants, with their families and friends, congregated to drink warm cider, with plum-cake toasted in it, and with loud hurrahs wishing success to the master and his crops; then they proceeded to the cow-house, which had been nicely cleaned for the occasion, and the cows had also been cleaned and tied up, being allowed a good supply of their best provender. A large plum-cake, bound round with tape, was stuck on the horns of the best cow, and buckets of cider with plum-cake were carried in. Each person present then drank to the health of the cow, using this doggrel:

[Pg 220]

"Here's to thee, Ball, and to thy white horn;
Pray God send thy master a good crop of corn,
Of wheat, rye, and barley, and all sorts of grain,
And at this time twelve months we meet here again.
The leaves they are green,
The nuts they are brown,
They all hang so high
That they cannot come down.
They cannot come down until the next year,
So thee eat thy oats and we'll drink our beer" (or cider, as the case might be.)

Then the cowman went up to the cow, and caused her by some movement to shake her head, and if the cake tumbled over in front of her it belonged to the cowman; if it fell behind, it became the property of the dairymaid. The party then retired to the house, and made the evening jolly, never concluding the festivity without a dance. I have heard that to this day the custom of lighting twelve fires on the same night still prevails at Preston, near Ledbury, and other places. A correspondent informs me that he remembers a custom similar to the above being observed in the neighbourhood of Tenbury on Christmas Eve, and that Neen Sollars was the last parish in which he witnessed it.

The twelve fires on the eve of Twelfth Day, kindled with great rejoicing before a pole wrapped up in straw, called "the old woman," in a field that has been sown with grain, are supposed to be the remains of some heathen ceremony derived from the Romans or Saxons, allusive to Ceres and the months, but afterwards adopted to a holiday season of the Christian year. This practice (as the Rev. J. Webb, of Tretire, near Ross, informs us) is still continued in parts of Herefordshire.

It is the custom at the present day in some parishes in Worcestershire (Longdon for instance) for boys and girls to[Pg 221] go early on New Year's morning to all the farmhouses and say as follows, all in one breath:

"Bud well, bear well,
God send you fare well,
Every sprig and every spray
A bushel of apples next New Year's Day.
Morning, master and mistress,
A happy New Year,
A pocket full of money,
A cellar full of beer.
Please to give me a New Year's gift."

A clergyman in Worcestershire communicated to the editor of "Brand's Antiquities" the following doggrel lines, but the occasion and use of them appear to be unknown, and it is not unlikely that some corruption has crept into them:

"Wassail brews good ale,
Good ale for Wassail;
Wassail comes too soon
In the wane of the moon."

In the neighbourhood towards Ledbury it was customary for the farmers to complete wheat-sowing by what was called Allontide (Allhallows)—Nov. 1st. If they had finished by the previous night, a cake was divided between the dairymaid and the waggoner. If the latter could succeed in going into the kitchen by a certain hour at night, and cracking his whip three times, the cake belonged to him; but if the dairymaid, by any means in her power, could prevent the performance of the whip ceremony, she claimed one half of the cake. The maid was on the look-out an hour or so before the required time, and the wits of both parties were on the alert to counteract each other's movements, affording much amusement to the rustic spectators. Respecting the period for the completion of wheat-sowing, the following old saying prevailed in the above district many years ago:

[Pg 222]

"At Michaelmas fair (Oct. 2)
The wheat should hide a hare."

Everybody knows that in the present day they do not begin sowing till after that date.

Old Christmas is still observed, especially in the western parts of the county. In old-fashioned farmhouses the misletoe remains till the following Christmas Eve, when it is burned, and a fresh bough put up.


though nearly banished by the advance of education and improved manners, is occasionally performed in the secluded parts of this district. The usage is, that when a male stranger has to pass through the hop ground, he is seized by the women of the picking party, and threatened to be pitched into the crib (an article like a large cradle or child's crib, into which the hops are picked), and then to be smothered with the caresses of all the oldest and most snuffy women present, unless he will "shell out" something handsome to be spent in liquor. If he be young and cleanly, the chances are ten to one that he prefers paying the fine. Sometimes respectable women have been cribbed; but in all instances that have been brought before the magistrates, the law's supremacy over absurd custom has been vindicated.


Under the head of "Holy Thursday and its old customs at Worcester" the "Worcester Herald" of May 27, 1854, contained the following sketch, which is worthy of a place here:

The ancient custom of "processioning," or "beating the bounds," on Ascension Day, it seems, has not yet become a dead letter in this city. The parishes of All Saints and[Pg 223] St. Clement are among the most determined upholders of antiquity in this respect; and although it is but seldom that either parish rejoices in these "free-and-easy" carnivals, there are, nevertheless, a few jovial spirits left in each, who occasionally become so overcharged with a desire for practical fun and adventure that "go it they must," and straightway the venerable custom of "beating the bounds" is as good an excuse as any other for indulging their appetite. The practice, we believe, has not been observed in the parish of All Saints for ten years past, till Thursday last, when it came off with all that eclat and superabundance of relish which had been accumulating during the interval of a decade of years. The steeple being, of course, the rallying point, the party met in the morning at the vestry-room, from whence sallied the Rev. Dr. Bartlett, the curate, Messrs. H. Davis and E. Clarke, churchwardens, Messrs. Hill and William Hole, overseers, and a party of about twenty parishioners, accompanied by a shoal of larkish striplings—a body which considerably augmented during the line of route—vires acquirit eundo. Down Quay Street they went and down the steps towards a boat, but not without misgivings did the party cast their eyes aloft to the rough-and-ready customers assembled on the bridge, under the centre arch of which the "processioners" were doomed to go. Two policemen had been impressed into the boat for purposes of defence, but what is a policeman more than any other mortal under the combined influences of a cataract of mud and water? And what avails a staff, sword, or dagger, when the enemy grins upon you from a perpendicular height of some twenty or thirty feet? Accordingly the party went through the ordeal with all the calm courage of victims whose only consolation is, that when custom sanctions, neither law nor personal comfort is accounted as of the slightest consequence. On[Pg 224] the whole they escaped as well as could have been expected, having encountered only a little water, mud, and a few et ceteras. Thence they proceeded, and cast anchor in Dolday Bay, and after landing there, our informant assures us, "the game was tremendous." Six or seven shillings' worth of buns were scattered, about to produce some scrambling among the boys, and the consequences, as might be supposed, were a considerable exhibition of juvenile activity, amid which dirt and rubbish "around their heads were flying;" and one venerable dame, declaring she had nothing else to part with, discharged the contents of her teapot so effectually as to plaster up the eye of our informant, who insists upon it that he couldn't see why the old lady should have resorted to such extremities for putting him into hot water. Dolday and the Butts were passed, and the interior of eight or ten houses inspected, the wall of the Independent Chapel, Angel Street, scaled, and the Crown yard reached, when another drenching shower slightly damped the ardour of the borderers; but, like Cromwell's Invincibles, armed to the teeth with pluck, on they went, through Mr. Loxley's house and back premises, down Powick Lane, through Tanner's yard, and so back to the vestry, where progress was duly recorded in the books. We should not omit to state that the chaplain, who accompanied the party, had done his best to turn the old ceremony to good account, by delivering appropriate addresses, &c., at various points on the line of route. On again emerging from the vestry, a final salutation was given to the explorers by the assembled crowd, in which the policemen got thoroughly rinsed; a worthy Boniface, known as "The old fellow," was prostrated to the ground, in which position he shouted most piteously, "Blow me if I ain't blinded;" and an overseer was so roughly handled, that his usual amiable temper became ruffled, and he swore a deadly oath, that if they gave him[Pg 225] three months for it, he would punch the head of the first fellow he caught. The boys were treated to a scrambling for pence, and so ended the out-door performances. After the fatigues of the day, a jolly party of about twenty-five sat down to dinner at Mr. Hill's, the Herefordshire House, Newport Street, whose admirable catering soon made them forget the mishaps of the morning, and a very pleasant evening was spent.

The St. Clement's officials (Mr. Bozward, churchwarden, Messrs. Spilsbury and Fenn, overseers) and a number of the parishioners, armed with a flag and a bough of oak, took to the water like ducks, from Tearne's meadow, near the Dog and Duck, passed down the middle of the Severn to the Watermen's Chapel, where they landed to take in a part of the Cattle Market and the site of the old parish church; embarked once more, passed the Rubicon of the centre arch of the bridge, landed on the west side of the river, opposite the Cathedral, and performed all the remainder by land. The usual ablutions, bedaubings, scramblings, and so forth, were not forgotten. Afterwards the party dined at the very comfortable hostelry of the Dog and Duck.

A word or two on the origin of the above old ceremony may not be misplaced here. We find that formerly it was the custom to go round the bounds and limits of the parish on one of the three days before Holy Thursday, or the feast of Ascension, when the minister, accompanied by the churchwardens and parishioners, was wont to deprecate the vengeance of God, beg a blessing on the fruits of the earth, and to preserve the rights and properties of the parish. To this Wither alludes in his "Emblems" (1636), as follows:

"That every man might keep his own possessions,
Our fathers us'd, in reverend processions,
With zealous prayers and praiseful cheere,
To walke their parish limits once a yeare;
[Pg 226] And well-known markes (which sacrilegious hands
Now cut or breake) so border'd out their lands,
That every one distinctly knew his owne,
And many brawles, now rife, were then unknowne."

These gang days, as they were called, not only brought to the recollection of Englishmen the settlement of the Christian faith on the soil, but they also impressed on the memory correct notions concerning the origin and nature of proprietorship in land. These religious processions marked out the limits of certain portions of land, under which the whole kingdom was contained; and in all this the principle of "God's fee" was recognised by the law and the people. The walking of the parish bounds in religious processions very materially contributed to form and keep fresh in the minds of each passing generation the terms on which property was held, and some of the duties belonging to the holding. There was a short service ordered to be read occasionally, composed of such sentences as the following: "Cursed is he that translateth the bounds and doles of his neighbour," &c. The custom of processioning (like the large majority of Christian ceremonies) was no doubt derived from the heathens, being an imitation of the feast called "Terminalia," which was dedicated to the God Terminus, whom they considered the guardian of fields and landmarks and the keeper up of friendship and peace among men. The primitive custom used by the Christians on this occasion was for the people to accompany the Bishop or some of the clergy into the fields, where Litanies were chanted and the mercy of God implored, that He would avert the evils of plague and pestilence, that He would send them good and favourable weather, and give them in due season the fruits of the earth. The boundaries in some places were marked by what they called "Gospel trees," from the custom of having the Scriptures read under[Pg 227] or near them by the attendant clergyman. One of these trees was till lately standing at Stratford-upon-Avon. A vivid recollection of the exact extent of each parish was kept alive in the breasts of the juveniles by many kinds of practical jokes.

When religious processions were abandoned at the time of the Reformation these parochial processions also generally fell into disuse, although it was then ordered that they should be continued, but a principal cause of their discontinuance of late years was the passing of the Parochial Assessment Act in 1836, which gave power to Boards of Guardians to cause the various parishes under their jurisdiction to be properly mapped and valued. Where this was complied with, the existence of the new maps rendered it less necessary that a minute personal recollection of the boundaries of the parish should be impressed on the minds of the youthful generation by means of processions. The Worcester Board of Guardians have not availed themselves of the power conferred by this Act, for under the Parochial Assessment Act not a single parish of this city has hitherto been mapped and valued, until now that All Saints' is under contract for that purpose. The Guardians have not felt it necessary to do so, as no churchwardens or overseers have yet (1855) called upon them to exercise their powers; and it seems that the concurrence of the latter officers is necessary for the ordering of maps and valuations. Processioning, however, is still recognised by the law, for by an act passed so recently as 1844 (7th and 8th Victoria, chap. 101) power is given to charge for all necessary expenses properly incurred in perambulations and in setting up and keeping in repair the boundary stones of the parish, provided that such perambulation do not arise more than once in three years.

[Pg 228]



What was the origin of ordering military troops out of the city at times of assizes and sessions, and in what other places besides Worcester is the custom observed?


How many (if any) trees of the celebrated black pear of Worcester still remain in this city and suburbs?


Is there, in any private collection of coins in Worcester, one of King Charles's Worcester half-crowns or a specimen of the leaden halfpenny struck at the mint in this city?


Were hops cultivated in East Worcestershire? In many places in Beoley parish, hops are found growing in the hedgerows, and there is a large field there which is called "The Hop-garden." The year 1855 is believed to have produced a larger crop of hops than has ever been known (duty £398,635. 6s. 5-3/4d.). In 1801 the Worcester district paid a larger duty than had been on previous record, though far below the duty of 1855; and in 1826 the duty was higher than in 1801, being £269,331; or £129,304 less than in 1855. Can any one tell, by document or otherwise, what was the hop acreage in this district in the year 1801?

[Pg 229]


In what year was the needle trade introduced into Redditch, by whom, and where from?


What was the origin of applying the term "marine store dealers" to shopkeepers buying and selling old metal, &c.?


When was the practice of planting groves, or avenues of trees, as approaches to family mansions, commenced, and when and why abandoned? Nothing can speak more of grandeur or of ancestral dignity than these solemn avenues of trees—for instance, those of Spetchley, Cotheridge, &c. In Rome, no great house was formerly built without an avenue of trees, and Plato taught his scholars to love the groves of Academus almost as well as his philosophy.


On the key-stone of the arch of the Guildhall entrance-door is the figure of a man's head, having the expression of pain, and with his ears nailed back. Is there any ground for supposing that this was intended to represent Oliver Cromwell in the pillory, while the two Charleses stand in regal state on each side? I have heard the fag-end of an old song, of which the following is the burden:

"The Worcester people being hurt full sore, sir,
Nail'd Cromwell's head by the ears above the Town-hall door, sir.
Chorus. Heigho, what will they do?
They're always finding something new."

It is, however, probable that the sculpture in question is[Pg 230] intended, with the other heads and figures adorning the Hall, merely to represent some abstract idea, such as Justice, Punishment, Pain, &c.


When were the last known instances of bull-baiting and cock-fighting in Worcester, and when was the pillory last used? About forty years ago the present Lord Dundonald (then Lord Cochrane) was sentenced by Lord Ellenborough "to stand in and upon the pillory for the space of one hour." The public and the press were justly indignant at a distinguished and enterprising naval officer being sentenced to such an infamous punishment, and it was not carried into effect; the Legislature took up the matter, and in their zeal abolished the punishment of the pillory altogether.


Can you, sir, or any of your correspondents, inform me of the whereabout of the "Milward Evidences," which were used by Shaw and Nash in their histories of the counties of Worcester and Stafford. The heiress of the Milwards, of Wollescott, married Hungerford Oliver, Esq., whose descendants, till about fifteen or twenty years ago, resided at the family seat of Wollescott (which had been in the possession of the Milwards before the reign of Elizabeth), and since then they have gone down in the world, and probably these valuable Manuscripts are destroyed.—C. J. D.

Answer.—The Milward family possessed good landed possessions and resided at Wollescote (called Ousecote in Nash) in the reign of Henry VIII. The last of the family bearing the name was Thomas Milward, Esq., who died in 1784. By his wife, Prudence, daughter of Captain Oliver Dixon, of[Pg 231] Dixon's Green, Dudley, he had four daughters, viz., Elizabeth and Ann Milward, who died unmarried; Prudence, the wife of Mr. Hungerford Oliver, who had issue—the late Edward Oliver, Esq., of Wollescote, and others; and Mary, the wife of John Foster, of Leicester Grange, county Warwick, Esq. (Sheriff of Worcestershire, 18th George III), who had issue one child, John Foster, of the Middle Temple, who died unmarried. Mr. Edward Oliver succeeded to the property of his grandfather and the papers referred to by your correspondent. Being afterwards in embarrassed circumstances, he left Wollescote and resided in a distant part of the kingdom for several years. The papers, in sacks, were left at tenants' cottages, and by removal, damp, and other causes, became gradually lessened, until about twenty years ago, after Mr. Oliver's return to Wollescote, when he was induced by a relative, Mr, J. H. Dixon, of Oldswinford, to look over the papers with him, and they retained such as possessed any topographical or family interest, made extracts from some, and destroyed the rest. Mr. Dixon, who has made topographical collections relative to Stourbridge, Dudley, and some other neighbouring places, possesses, I believe, the few Milward papers remaining.


A cast-iron slab may be seen on a grave in Himbleton church, having an inscription to Philip Fincher and his wife, who died, the former in 1660 and the latter in 1690. Is any earlier instance known of the use of cast-iron for such a purpose?—Answer. In Mr. Lowe's paper in the Sussex collections is a description of a cast-iron grave slab of the fourteenth century, existing in Burwash church. It has an ornamental cross, and inscription in relief, and is considered as unique for the style and period, being probably the oldest existing article of the kind produced by our foundries.

[Pg 232]


Can any one supply a more probable origin of the odd name of the "Stewponey" inn, near Stourbridge, than the following: In ancient times there was probably a bridge over the Stour near Stourton Castle, and an inn would be necessary for the traffic passing over the bridge. This hostelry would be described in the Latin documents of the day as that by Stourbridge (Stour ponte), easily corrupted into "Stour pone" and "Stewponey." Or the word may be a corruption of the French Pont and the word Stour.


Is any inhabitant of Hartlebury enabled to give information respecting the tradition that when Queen Elizabeth visited Worcestershire she slept one night at a public-house, formerly called the "Dog" inn, Hartlebury, and that she left at that house one of her slippers as a pledge of her stay. She is said to have granted to the above inn some privilege—such as the exemption from taxes. About forty years ago the Dog inn was occupied by one Mr. Prince, and the slipper was then said to be preserved at the inn. It is now called "The Dealers'" inn, and is in the occupation of Mrs. Cole.


I should be glad to ascertain whether the extensive and valuable collection of Worcestershire papers made by my late friend, Dr. Prattinton, of Bewdley, and bequeathed by him to the Antiquarian Society, have yet been arranged and indexed. J. H. D., Bark Hill, Bewdley.


Can any one supply information as to the Pageant House,[Pg 233] an ancient building which formerly existed in this city. Was it used for plays or trade pageants in connexion with the guilds? And was it on or near the site of the present Music Hall? An old document belonging to the Clothiers' Company describes it as "neer unto the Corn-market of the said city, adjoining on the south side to a house or tenement now in the occupation of Thomas Hill, blacksmith; on the east side to the town wall; on the north side to a house in the possession of John Oliver; and on the west side to the way that leadeth from Foregate to the said Corn-market."


In removing the old church at Oldswinford a few years ago there was an unavoidable exposure of coffins and human remains, and in one of the coffins a lady was found full-dressed in ancient costume, and an enormous multitude of pins in her dress and lying strewed about. Was this connected with superstitious motives, or in what other way may the presence of the pins be accounted for?


In the Halesowen churchwardens' book (commencing temp. Edward IV), among other entries is one in the year 1499—"Item, for bred to the holy loffe for the township of Rommesley, 12d." In those days the elements for the sacrament were taken from the people's oblations of bread and wine, until at length wafers were substituted. It was the custom for every house in the parish to provide in turn the "holy loaf," and the good man or woman who provided it was specially remembered in the church's prayers that day. As the substitution of wafers generally took place in the twelfth century, is not the above one of the latest instances of the "holy loaf" on record?

[Pg 234]


Can any one throw light upon an inscription in Elmley Castle churchyard, which records the death of John Chapman, whose name, it is said, "sounds in (or throughout) the world?" The following is the inscription:

"Memoriæ defunctorum sacrum. Και Τυφωνια

"Siste gradum, viator, ac lege. In spe beatæ resurrectionis hic requiescunt exuviæ Johannis Chapmanni et Isabellæ uxoris, filiæ Gulielmi Allen de Wightford, in comitat. War. Ab antiquo proavorum stemmate deduxerunt genus. Variis miserarium agitati procellis ab strenue succumbentis in arrescenti juventutis æstate, piè ac peccatorum pœnitentia expirabant animas.

"Maij 10 die Anno Dom. 1677.
"Sistite Pierides Chapmannum plangere, cujus
"Spiritus in cœlis, nomen in orbe sonat."

A correspondent observes—"Sir, I know the Elmley Castle epitaph that has astonished you, and I am rather surprised you havn't bottomed it. Why it's transparent as crystal, and is simply a verdant try-on at a pun. 'Nomen in orbe sonat,' says Mr. Chapman's epitaph—and right enough too; for what other name does so sound over the world as Chapman's? 'Dealer and Chapman' is the generic designation of the vendors of commodities from pole to pole, and so the mystery fadeth."


In the register of Besford parish is an entry of "King's duty paid for four christenings, 4s." In the Himbleton register there are traces of a similar tax, as follows:

"Baptisms in 1783, since the commencement of a late Act of Parliament, to demand 3d. for each baptism."[Pg 235] "Burials in 1783," ditto ditto.

"Examined and received the duty to 1st of Oct., 1785. For Ben Pearkes, sub-distributor—J. Wensley."

I believe the duty on bachelors and widows, and on marriages, births, and burials, was imposed in 1695. In that year a charge is made in the parish books of St. Nicholas, Worcester, for the King's tax for burials. By the Act 6th and 7th William III, every clergyman was directed to keep an exact register of all persons married, buried, christened, or born in their respective parishes, under a penalty of £100 for every neglect. This regulation, however, was not properly attended to for ten years afterwards. By the 4th of Anne, chap. 12, sec. 10, it is mentioned that many of the clergy not being sufficiently apprised of the full import of the above Act, had incurred the penalties thereof, whereby they and their families remained exposed to ruin; the Legislature therefore directed that they should be indemnified from the consequences of such omissions provided the duty for every marriage, birth, or burial, should be really answered or paid, or notified and brought in charge to the collector of the duties. Can any one state how long this Act was in force, and when it was allowed to expire?


At the churches of Leigh and Rouse Lench, above the doors, exteriorly, is in each case a niche containing a figure—one of the Saviour, and the other supposed to be of St. Peter. These examples of figures are of rare occurrence in consequence of the destruction of all such representations and images at the Reformation, and subsequently by the Puritans. Above the western window of St. John's church, Bromsgrove, are three figures of the full size of life, said to represent St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Blessed Virgin. They are in a good[Pg 236] state of preservation, although they have no doubt been there 450 years, and very likely escaped mutilation at the Reformation from the great height they are from the ground; for the window is one of the highest, if not the highest, of all the western church windows in the county. On the south wall of Eastham church are two rudely carved bas-relievos, representing apparently the two signs of the zodiac, Leo and Sagittarius, and on the wall of the chancel arch, facing the nave, are two similar carvings—the one of the lamb and cross; and the other, two lions' bodies united in one head. It is said the church belonged to the Knights Templars, and hence these devices. The lamb and cross was one of the ensigns of that body, but how do the other devices apply? Are there any other similar relics in the county?


John Oswen, of Worcester, who flourished about the middle of the sixteenth century, was appointed by Edward VI, the printer of all books for the service of the churches in Wales and the Marches, and he first printed the New Testament here. Mr. Eaton, of this city, has one of Oswen's books in his possession; it is entitled "The Godly sayings of the old auncient faithful fathers upon the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. Imprinted the xi day of Oct. 1550, at Worcester, by Jhon Oswen. They be also to sell at Shrewsbury." Are there any other specimens of his printing existing in this city? Oswen printed twenty-one books here.


At the British Archæological Association's meeting in the Isle of Wight, August, 1865, it was stated, in a paper contributed by Mr. H. S. Cuming, that the gold-headed staff[Pg 237] which Charles I leaned on during his trial, and the head of which breaking off suddenly, made a great impression on the King, as a bad omen, was in the possession of a lady residing at Worcester. In the "Gentlemen's Magazine" for January, 1846, the cane was said to be in the possession of Mr. Cooke, of Newclose, Isle of Wight. Which account is correct, or has the relic (like many others) miraculously multiplied? The writer would be glad to be informed if it is in Worcester, and where it may be seen.


In the churchyard of Ripple is a gravestone bearing the following distich:

"As you passe by, behold my length,
But never glory in your strength."

The individual buried here was Robert Reeve, who died in 1626, aged fifty-six. Tradition says that he was a giant (7ft. 4in. high), the length of his body being indicated by the distance between the head and foot stones of his grave; and it is said that he met with his death through over-exertion in mowing an acre of land one day in Uckingshall meadow. But there is a similar inscription in Welland churchyard, from which it would seem probable that it was a general one, intended as well for individuals under the standard height as for men of larger growth. Can any parish clerk inform me of similar inscriptions elsewhere? In Burford church, near Tenbury, is a monument to Edward Cornwall, with his picture in a shroud, painted on board. Tradition tells wonderful stories of his size and strength, and he is there represented as 7ft. 3in. long.


Dr. Nash, in his "Worcestershire," says that great quan[Pg 238]tities of wild saffron (Crocus sativus) grow in the parish of Kyre Wyard, south of Tenbury. If so, the naturalized plant must point out that saffron was formerly extensively cultivated at Kyre Wyard. Can any inhabitant of that vicinity say if the crocus, from which saffron was made, now grows to any extent in the parish, and if there is any tradition about the cultivation of saffron. Shakspeare alludes to "villanous saffron," which in his time so coloured silks, bread, and everything, that people became sick of it, and so it got out of fashion, and there was less demand for the drug. The Easter simnels, however, used to be made yellow with it to a late period, and perhaps some may be yet manufactured. In Cornwall there is still a taste for saffron cakes, as I observed this very year (1855) at Helstone, where I unexpectedly bought one. The crocus that produces saffron must not be confounded with the purple-flowered meadow saffron (Colchicum autumnale), which is a very different plant. This last bears the name of "Naked Ladies," from the flowers springing from the ground without any investiture of leaves.—L.

Miscellaneous Notes.


There is an old saying at Honeybourne, near Broadway, as follows:

"There was a church at Honeyborn
When Evesham was but bush and thorn."

There is a saying that—

[Pg 239]

"When elmen leaves are as large as a farden,
It's time to plant kidney beans in the garden."


"When elm leaves are as big as a shilling,
Plant kidney beans, if to plant 'em you're willing;
When elm leaves are big as a penny,
You must plant kidney beans if you mean to have any."

Another saying is—

"On Candlemas day
Every good goose should lay."

It is proverbial in Worcestershire that "you never hear the cuckoo before Tenbury fair or after Pershore fair." Tenbury fair is on April 20, and Pershore fair is on June 26, which two dates pretty correctly mark the duration of the cuckoo's visit.


The happy village of Norton, near Evesham, contains no inn, public-house, meeting-house, lawyer, doctor, or curate! (at least this was the case a few months ago, when the author of this work was there.)


G. E. R., a correspondent at Kidderminster, has found the following curious note on the fly-leaf of a rare tract, entitled "The Infancie of the Soule, by William Hill. Printed at the Signe of the Holy Lambe, 1605:"—"November ye 29, 1620. In the river Severn was the greatest flood that ever was sinse the flood of Noah; there was drowned at Homtone's Loade 68 persons as they whare going to Bewdley faire."


In the Domesday Book, mention is made of a family[Pg 240] residing at Bromsgrove, of the name of Dipple, and at the present time there are living in that town three distinct families of the same name, so that in all probability this family never became extinct, and is therefore one of the oldest in the county.


The majority of the Worcestershire bells were cast by Rudhall, of Gloucester, and his successor, Mears; Chapman and Mears, of London, towards the close of the last century, and T. Mears, of London, in the present, also have their names in some places, as at King's Norton; but a correspondent says he has one of Mears' lists, and finds only nine of his peals in Worcestershire, viz., Dudley, peal of ten, weight of tenor, 21 cwt.; Stourbridge, eight, tenor, 19 cwt.; King's Norton, eight, tenor, 17 cwt.; St. John's, Worcester, six, tenor, 16 cwt.; Fladbury, six, tenor, 13 cwt.; Longdon, six, tenor, 12 cwt.; Cookley, six, tenor, 12 cwt.; Abberley, six, tenor, 9 cwt.; and Stone, six, tenor, 6 cwt. On the Tredington bells the names of G. Purdye and Mr. Bagly appear (seventeenth century). The Clent bells are by Bagly, whose services were much called into requisition in Warwickshire, and it is said by enthusiastic ringers that the bells cast by the Baglys are not to be surpassed in the country: they are all light peals, with fine musical tones, and run down as true as a musical instrument can do. At Tanworth, Warwickshire, the tenor bell has this inscription: "Richard Saunders of Bromsgrove made we all, 1710." How long the trade of bell-founding existed at Bromsgrove does not appear, but the bells of St. Helen's (1706), St. John's (1710), and St. Nicholas (1715), were founded there by Mr. Saunders. The Worcester foundry, which had existed in Silver Street in the seventeenth century,[9] had probably [Pg 241]closed at the above period when Bromsgrove was resorted to. On the third bell of Himbleton church is the inscription:

[9] There is a place in that street still called Bellfounders' Yard.

"John Martin, of Worcester, he made wee,
Be it known to all that do wee see. 1675."

The Worcester foundry is also traceable on the bells of St. Michael's, Worcester, Bishampton, Himbleton, and Grafton Flyford, from 1660 to 1676; John Martin, of St. Martin's, being the founder.

The Bretforton peal is by Westcote, of Bristol, 1823; Lester and Peck, of London, founded some of the Halesowen bells a century ago. Joseph Smith, of Edgbaston, and R. Wells, of Aldbourne, others of them, at the beginning and end of the same century. The old peal of bells, prior to these, at Halesowen, it appears from the churchwardens' accounts, were completed in 1518, and the bell-founder came from Nottingham. Joseph Smith, of Edgbaston, also founded the Alvechurch and Northfield bells—the first in 1711, the latter in 1730. On the third bell at Alvechurch is the following euphonious couplet:

"If you would know when we was run,
It was March the twenty-second, 1711."

The Alvechurch bells are kept in excellent condition by Billy Bourne, a poor demented creature, who however is famous for his skill in clock cleaning and his adhesiveness to the church belfry, in which he sleeps regularly on a hard plank, with an old mat for a coverlid; he has hardly ever been known to miss ringing the matin bell at five and the curfew at eight, and constantly defends the sacred precincts from all resurrectionists by a rusty old sword and pistol.

The Northfield bells are distinguished by some original versification, thus: On the first—

[Pg 242]

"We now are six, tho' once but five,"


"And against our casting some did strive;"


"But when a day for meeting they did fix,"


"There appeared but nine against twenty-six.

"Joseph Smith, 1730."


"Samuel Palmer and Thomas Silk, Churchwardens, 1730."


"Thomas Kettle and William Jervis did contrive
To make us six that was but five."

The last-named couplet, which seeks to perpetuate a piece of parochial thrift in the casting of six bells out of five, is likewise to be found on a bell at Feckenham, with, of course, other names substituted.


"Sublime in hookahs, glorious in a pipe,
When tipp'd with amber, mellow, rich, and ripe."

The introduction of tobacco (now become so important an article of general demand) is a subject worthy of a few notes, especially as regards the traces of its cultivation and consumption in this district. It is true that Worcestershire cannot boast of being the first place in England where "the wicked weed" was grown. That was an honour claimed by our near neighbours of Winchcombe, in Gloucestershire, who are said to have profited greatly (in a pecuniary sense, I suppose) by its cultivation. Tobacco was, however, grown at Worcester, Feckenham, Eckington, Pershore, Upton Snodsbury, Pensham, Kempsey, and other places in this county. The first mention of its use at[Pg 243] Worcester is in the chamberlain's accounts for the year 1643, about fifty-seven years after its introduction to this country. At that time it was evidently esteemed an especial luxury. The entry is as follows:

"Item: For one ounce of bacca which Mr. Maior sent for to spend upon Colonel Sandys, and for tobacco pipe, eighteen pence."

The sum of 1s. 6d. being then equal to at least 10s. of our present money, some idea may be formed of the scarcity and value of tobacco in its earlier days. The Droitwich corporation, it seems, were very liberal in the consumption of the weed, for at a feast in 1656 it is recorded that the sum of 9s. was spent "for tobacco of both sorts." This is the first and only instance of "both sorts" being mentioned. The price of the article had fluctuated in a most unaccountable manner, for while in 1643 it cost 1s. 6d. an ounce at Worcester (the same price which was given for it at Droitwich in 1632), in 1646 it was entered only at 2s. 8d. per pound by the constable of Droitwich, in his bill of charges for soldiers who at that time had taken up their abode in Dodderhill church, as a barrack. In 1659, "Mr. Maior Ashbie," of Worcester, charges 6s. 8d. for a pound of Spanish tobacco; but it is gratifying to observe that, in the midst of this heavy expenditure on matters of luxury, some compunction of conscience was evident from the fact that the corporation made their pipes perform double duty, frequent entries occurring of a charge of 6d. per gross for burning them! The price of the article was much reduced by the time of James II, when the "best Virginia" was but 2s. per pound, and "two gross of best glazed pipes and a box with them, 3s. 4d." Previous to that time tobacco had become almost a necessary among the upper classes, nor could the Parliamentary representatives of the city of[Pg 244] Worcester be despatched up to town until the "collective wisdom" had smoked and drunk sack with them at the Globe, or some other hostelry.

As early as 1621 it was moved in the House of Commons by Sir William Stroud, that he "would have tobacco banished wholly out of the kingdom, and that it may not be brought in from any part nor used amongst us," and Sir Grey Palmes "that if tobacco be not banished it will overthrow one hundred thousand men in England; for now it is so common that he hath seen ploughmen take it as they are at plough." At a later period of the century, so inveterate had the practice become, that an order appears on the journals of the House, "That no member of the House do presume to smoke tobacco in the gallery, or at the table of the House, sitting at committees." Indeed we are told by M. Jorevin, who visited Worcester in the reign of Charles II, put up at the "Stag inn," and published his doings in the "Antiquarian Repertory," that the women smoked as well as the men. As early as the end of the sixteenth century, complaints were made of this "imitation of the manners of a savage people," as it was feared that by this practice Englishmen would degenerate into a barbarous state. So great an incentive was it thought to drunkenness, that it was strictly forbidden to be taken in any alehouse in the time of James I, and his Majesty exhausted much ponderous wit in attempting to cry down the weed; his celebrated performance, "A Counterblast to Tobacco," denominating it "the invention of Satan," and the custom of smoking as "loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless."

In 1659, Wm. George, of Eckington, was indicted at the[Pg 245] Worcester County Sessions "for planting, setting, growing, making, and curing tobacco there," on 400 poles of land, and a fine of £400 inflicted—the informer being Wm. Harrison, of Pershore. Ralph Huntingdon, of Upton Snodsbury, John Redding, of Kempsey, Humphrey Tay and Rd. Beddard, of Eckington, and Edmund Baugh, of Pensham, were similarly fined. In the above-mentioned year it was ordered "that no person plant tobacco after January 1, 1660, according to Act of Parliament, 12th Charles II, within England, to sell, upon forfeiture of the same or value thereof, or 40s., for every rode or pole so planted, set, or sown, one moiety to the King and the other to the informer; not to extend to physick gardens in the university."

In 1662, letters were issued from the Lords of the Council which commanded that "all tobacco planted within the county of Worcester should be speedily destroyed by order of the sheriff and justices of the peace," to whom the said letters were directed; and for many years subsequent to that period (as appears from the Sessions rolls) the chief constables of this county sent warrants to the various constables for cutting and destroying the weed, and regular returns were made by them as to whether they had found any growing within their constablewicks. The tobacco plant, I am informed (Nicotiana rustica), still grows in a half naturalized state near Bewdley—in the vicinity, no doubt, of spots where it was formerly cultivated. This shows how easily tobacco might be produced in England, if there were no prohibitory taxation opposed to it. The following quaint stanzas are from a forgotten book of "Gospel Sonnets," by Ralph Erskine, a Presbyterian clergyman, whose object was to improve whatever subject he touched upon, and thus he tunes his pipe in a

[Pg 246]


The pipe, so lily-like and weak,
Does thus the mortal state bespeak:
Thou art even such,
Gone with a touch!
Thus think, and smoke Tobacco.
And when the smoke ascends on high,
Then thou behold'st the vani-ty
Of worldly stuff—
Gone with a puff!
Thus think, and smoke Tobacco.
In vain th' unlighted pipe you blow,
Your pains in outward means are so,
Till heavenly fire
Your heart inspire;—
Thus think, and smoke Tobacco.
And when the pipe grows foul within
Think on thy soul defiled with sin;
For then the fire
It does require;—
Thus think, and smoke Tobacco.
And see'st the ashes cast away,
Then to thyself thou mayest say—
That to the dust
Return thou must!—
Thus think, and smoke Tobacco."


abound in Worcestershire. One of the most interesting of them is that at Redstone, in a rock by the Severn, in the parish of Astley. It was said to be "a place of great resort for devotees of high quality in Papal times:" and the following remarks respecting it occur in a letter of Bishop Latimer, written from Hartlebury to Lord Cromwell, August[Pg 247] 25th, 1538. The letter was printed in the Parker Society's edition of his "Remains," p. 401: "Hereby is an hermitage in a rock by Severn, able to lodge five hundred men, and as ready for thieves or traitors as true men. I would not have hermits masters of such dens, but rather that some faithful man had it." Habingdon says he had heard "that many who traffick'd on the river gave, as they passed by in their barges, somewhat of their commodities to charity at this hermitage; and to show how much great men have valued this place, there appear in the very front of the hermitage the arms of England, between those of Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, with his crosses croslet on the right hand, and those of Mortimer with an escutcheon ermine, quartered, as far as I can guess, with a cross on the left; but these monuments of honour are here so worn as they are instantly perishing." Nash states that the hermitage was anciently the inheritance of Sir T. Bromley, and, with two acres directly over the cell, was let to a poor tenant. It was afterwards sold and turned into an alehouse; and more recently it was converted into dwellings, but which were most unfit for human residences. Indeed, about thirty years ago a school was kept in a part of the rock! The entrance to the hermitage is through what is called the chapel; and an arched passage, with openings at the sides, seems to have led to the dormitories (now formed into dwellings), and to the right is the refectory. Over the doorway is an opening which is reached by some steps in the inside, and from which, according to tradition, one of the monks would address the people and pray for the safety of passengers crossing the ferry. Another tradition is, that a subterraneous passage once led from the hermitage to the priory, near the site of the present church.

Blackstone Rock, near the Severn at Bewdley, is also a most interesting relic. Here is an hermitage, cut in the[Pg 248] rock, to which entrance is gained by a low doorway into the kitchen, which has for a chimney a circular hole cut perpendicularly through the rock; there are also a chapel, a pantry, with a chamber over, an inner room, closets with loft over, a study with shelves cut for books, and another opening in the rock, either for a belfry or chimney. Small and rudely cut openings in the rock served for windows. In the front of the cell is a seat carved in the rock, from which the hermit looked forth on the Severn (which then ran closer to the rock than it does now) and the beautiful meadows and wooded banks adjacent. There is a tradition that this was at one time a smuggler's cave; it has of late been used as a cider-making house, &c.

About a mile from Stanford church is Southstone Rock, said to be the largest mass of travertine hitherto discovered in this country, extending for half an acre. Its northern extremity terminates in a precipice, hanging over a most romantic dingle. Some cells were formerly hewn in the rock, and at the top was a chapel dedicated to St. John, on the feast of whose nativity there was a solemn offering, after which the assembly ascended, by stairs cut out of the rock, to the chapel, where they finished their devotions, and afterwards drank the waters of the well. This hermitage and land belonged to the abbey of Evesham. From the Jefferies Manuscript it appears that on St. John's Day a "pedling faire" was kept here, when the young people treated their acquaintance with roast meat, "ye smoke whereof yet remains upon ye rock," and that a wooden offering-post was fixed in the rock, having a cavity in it for money to pass into a hole underneath. The offertory dish in which these offerings were made (an exceedingly curious relic) was till lately in the possession of the Winnington family, but is now lost.

A hermit's cell may be seen in the parish of Hartlebury,[Pg 249] cut in a rock in a secluded part of a meadow belonging to the glebe land; its roof is supported by two pillars, and two deeply splayed holes are cut in the wall.

A cave once existed on the top of Bredon Hill (as we are informed by Dr. Derham, who wrote about 1712); it was lined with stalactical stones on the top and sides; but this was believed to have been an ancient granary, as a quantity of wheat was found near there at the beginning of the present century, when a land-slip occurred. The cave was probably destroyed by one of these land-slips.

At Drakelow, near Cookley Wood, is a sandstone ridge, excavated and inhabited, that still bears the name of "Hollyaustin," corrupted, probably (as Mr. Lees suggests), from "holy Austin," or Augustine, a hermit that once resided there. There is a cave also in "The Devil's Spittlefull," on Blackstone Farm, in the Foreign of Kidderminster, and there was a hermit's cell at the old Sorb-tree in the forest of Wyre.

In the Red Cliff, near Suckley, Mr. Allies states, is a hole called "Black Jack's Cave," said to have been inhabited, about ninety years ago, by a convict named Farnham, who had returned from transportation before his time, and who used to climb up this cliff with all the agility of a cat, even when laden with the spoils of the neighbourhood.

The parish of Stone contains a rock in which is a cave called "The Devil's Den," and some horrifying tales are told of the fatal results which happened to persons who attempted to penetrate therein.

There is a hole in a rock, called "The Fairies' Cave," in the hamlet of Alfrick.


In the Essex papers published three or four years ago[Pg 250] the following description is given of this county and city, and also of Hereford: "On the 30th, Wharton writes again—'Worcestershire is a pleasant, fruitful, and rich country, abounding in corn, woods, pasture, hills, and valleys, every hedge and highway beset with fruit, but especially with pears, whereof they make that pleasant drink called perry, which they sell for a penny a quart, though better than ever you tasted at London. The city is more large than any I have seen since I left London; it abounds in outward things, but for the want of the Word the people perish. It is pleasantly seated, exceeding populous, and doubtless very rich, on the east bank of that famous river the Severn, the walls in a form of a triangle, the gates seven. There is a very stately Cathedral called St. Mary's, in which there are many stately monuments; amongst the rest, in the middle of the quire, is the monument of King John, all of white marble, with his picture thereon to the life. Sir, our army did little think ever to have seen Worcester, but the Providence of God hath brought us thither, and had it not, the city is so vile, resembles Sodom, and is the very emblem of Gomorrah, and doubtless it would have been worse than either Algiers or Malta—a very den of thieves, and a receptacle and refuge for all the hell-hounds of the country.' From Worcester, Essex sent a detachment under the Earl of Stamford to surprise Hereford, in which Nehemiah Wharton served. He states that they got into Hereford by telling the Mayor that Essex was at hand with all his army. 'The city is well situated on the Wye, environed with a strong wall, better than I have seen before, with five gates, and a strong stone bridge of six arches, surpassing Worcester. In this place there is the stateliest market-place in the kingdom, built with columns after the manner of the Exchange; the Minster every way exceeding Worcester; the city not so large; the inhabitants[Pg 251] totally ignorant of the ways of God, and much addicted to drunkenness and other vices, but principally unto swearing, so that the children that have scarce learnt to speak, do universally swear stoutly. Many here speak Welsh. Sabbath-day, the time of morning prayer, we went to the Minster, where the pipes played, and the puppets sang so sweetly, that some of our soldiers could not forbear dancing in the holy quire; whereat the Baalists were sore displeased.'"


Among the archaic or peculiar words used in Worcestershire (as also in some of the neighbouring counties), are the following: "Tabber," to strike repeated blows with the fist; "heft," weight; "colly," the black from a tea-kettle or from coal; "wowing," selling ale without a license; "leazing," gleaning (this is used in many counties); "cott," or "Molly Cott," a nickname given to a man who interferes unduly in domestic affairs; "lungeous," being awkward, heavy, and dangerous in play; "off his head," deranged; "squilt," a small wart or pimple on the skin; "moithered," a state of great bewilderment in the head; "glat," an opening in a hedge; "unked," or "unkid," to denote loneliness and awkwardness; "butty," a companion, also a sort of overseer among colliers; "fettle," to mix or interfere with, also means condition; "gain," and "kind," both words used to represent the condition of crops or anything else the appearance of which is promising; "dollop," a good share or quantity. A person was cutting cloth, and was recommended to rip it, as more expeditious. "That is not so good," he replied, "because the thread fazles." A lady told her servant the "string was broken;" the servant replied, "Yes, and I tried to mend it, but I couldn't odds it." The servant came from a village in Gloucestershire. "Odds it" means[Pg 252] to alter it. The word is very common in Gloucestershire, and in some parts of this county. In the above list several words of Saxon origin are perceptible, showing that old languages linger among the poorer classes longer than with the better educated, whose vocabulary has been more enlarged by finer, though perhaps not more expressive words, which are constantly being imported from foreign sources. Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart., says: "I have recollected a remarkable term which I heard formerly in Broadway. It is the word anant or enant, spoken when it was intended to express that one thing was opposite to another, by poor people. "He lives anant such a place," "anant that yat," &c. It is remarkable, because it is almost the Greek word [Greek: enantios] εναντιος. Are we to suppose it to have been introduced when the Saxon kings adopted Greek phraseology and terms in their grants to monasteries? Pershore, to which Broadway belonged, was a Saxon monastery, therefore it is not impossible but it may have been introduced by the monks in their visits to Broadway."


An unusually large number of places in Worcestershire in ancient times seemed to have been dedicated to the Dii Inferi, as also to the more sprightly beings which have hardly yet ceased to exist in our woods and groves, in shady glens, and by babbling streams. The Devil's Leap is a deep dingle, partly in Dodenham and partly in Hartley. There are the Devil's Den, Hell Hole, and Death's Dingle, in Stanford; this "den" is a black wood in a narrow dell, deeply enclosed in entangled woods; and Mrs. Sherwood says that the country people give it names which commemorate its former evil character—"The Devil's Den" being the mildest of the epithets bestowed on this sequestered scene. In the above[Pg 253]-named Hell Hole grows the plant called Devil's-bit, which, tradition says, was given to heal man of any deadly wounds, but when Satan saw what numbers of the human race it deprived him of, he in spite bit the roots off, whereupon it miraculously grew without those usually necessary appendages, and this is the reason we find it growing apparently without roots. There is the Devil's Pig-trough, near Leigh; and the Devil's Bowling-green at Inkberrow, ironically so called, it is said by Mr. Allies, as, till lately, it was one of the roughest pieces of ground in that parish. The Devil's Spadeful is the name of a large mound of earth near Bewdley, traditionally said to have been so denominated in consequence of the great impersonation of evil having once intended to drown the Bewdleyites by damming up the Severn, but being misinformed by a drunken cobbler as to the distance he had to go, he dropped the spadeful of earth and decamped. This tradition, slightly modified, is common in various counties, and is one of a numerous class tending to mark the popular contempt for Satan's want of sagacity. Hell Holes abound in the county, and there is Hell Bank near Stourbridge, Hell Kitchen near Newbold-on-Stour, and Hell Patch in Upton Warren. Whether, however, these names had reference to the "shades below" or originated in the Celtic word hel (to assemble) is a question. In Shelsley Walsh is a place called Witchery Hole; and the souvenirs of fairy-land are exceedingly numerous in many parishes of the county, such as Hob's Hole, in Offenham; Hob Moor, in Chaddesley Corbett; Little Hob Hill, in Beoley; Little Dobbin's Hill, in the Berrow; Dobbin's Meadow, in Mathon; Puck Meadow, in Hallow; Puck Hill, in Himbleton; Puck Croft, in Powick; Puck Piece, in Abbot's Lench; Pixam, or Pixies' Ham, in Powick; Cob's Croft, in Dodderhill; in Northfield, several places called Hob, Cob, and Jack; Impey, in Alvechurch; The Whistlers, in Lulsley, and innumerable others.

[Pg 254]

While on the subject of curious names it may be mentioned that at Bellbroughton the word "Bell" is constantly heard ringing in your ears—such as Bell Hall, Bryan's Bell, Moorhall Bell, Bell End, the Bell inn, &c.; and at Hanley Castle the word "End" is as frequently repeated, in Gilbert's End, Church End, North End, Robert's End, Severn End, &c. There are also Hunt End, a straggling village near Crabb's Cross; Dagtail End, near to Astwood Bank; Neen End, near the Ridgway; Alcester Lane's End, between King's Norton and the Birmingham road; and Holt End, at the foot of Beoley Hill. It is probable that the addition of the word "End" to so many places means that the spot so designated is the extreme end of some enclosed plot of ground or farm, as Robert's End, &c. The Grimsend House in Alfrick is situate at the extreme end of the estate, and there is a place called Coppy (coppice) End or Ind in the neighbourhood. With respect to Bellbroughton, it was called by the prefix only in very early times, therefore that may account for the names "Bell End," &c., in that parish.


Mr. Thursfield, of Broseley, at the meeting of the Archæological Institute, at Shrewsbury, in 1855, read a paper in which he stated that about the year 1750, a manufacture was commenced at Caughley, near Broseley, for the production of porcelain, by two persons named Gallimore and John Turner, the latter originally a silversmith at Worcester. They carried on the works with considerable spirit towards the close of the last century, having introduced several French artisans. The distinctive mark of the Caughley porcelain is supposed to be the letter S., and some pieces bear the mark "Salopian." The manufacture continued till 1799, when the works were purchased by Messrs. Rose,[Pg 255] and it was subsequently carried on at Coalport. During Turner's management, Worcester porcelain was sent to Caughley to be printed and coloured. The process of printing decorations upon porcelain, originally invented by Dr. Wall at the Worcester works, was transferred as it is believed to Caughley, by R. Holdship, who had been employed at Worcester in 1757.


Chaddesley Corbett, Mamble and Bayton, Rock, Tenbury, Martley, Abberley, and two or three other places in this county, are famous for the longevity of their inhabitants. Perhaps a larger number of very old people can be enumerated in the neighbourhood of Martley and the Berrow hills than in any other given space in the kingdom. The late incumbent of Chaddesley, who was himself nearly 90 years of age, buried, in 1813, Sarah Yates, at the age of 101; and in 1841 he did the same service for Elizabeth Young, aged 103. At Feckenham, a Mrs. Eadee died, in 1802, at the age of 103. At Abberley, Mary Bagnall died, in 1836, aged 102; and the venerable rector of that parish, the Rev. F. Severne, is only the tenth incumbent since the beginning of Elizabeth's reign—a period of about three centuries! The grandfather of the present rector held the living 48 years, his father a similar term, and he himself bids fair to imitate the longevity of his ancestors. Two of his predecessors who, as he also does, held the incumbency of Kyre, held that living between them for 108 years! The Rev. G. Williams, of Martin Hussingtree, but recently deceased, held that living from the year 1790; and it is said that some ale brewed when he was first inducted was only drunk out (at the rate of a bottle per annum, at the audit) just prior to his decease—an instance of longevity quite as remarkable as any now being[Pg 256] enumerated. The parish of Strensham has had only three rectors in a century and a half. Betty Palmer, who was born at Rock, died in 1782, aged 113; she had a sister and three brothers: Richard lived to be above 100, and their father and mother to 102 and 103. At Mawley, Jane Corkin was living, in 1710, at the ripe age of 126. A man died at Coreley, in 1849, aged 107 years 7 months. Mrs. Perkins died near Tenbury, in 1810, aged nearly 105. Mr. Mapp, of Shelsley, is, I believe, living in his 94th year; and the burials, in 1853, of old people between 80 and 100 years of age, at Rock and the vicinity, were remarkable. At Alvechurch is an inscription to Joseph Davies, who died in 1831, "who for nearly 70 years assiduously fulfilled the office of clerk of this parish with a distinct, pleasing, melodious voice, and inoffensive life, till within a few days of his death." A Mrs. Elizabeth Bourne died at White Ladies Aston, in 1812, aged 106. At Bredon, for the whole term between 1813 and 1846, the greatest number of deaths occurred between the ages of 70 and 75. The celebrated Countess Dowager of Coventry died at Holt in 1798, aged 96. At Henwick, near Worcester, a person died recently who remembered the coronation of George III, and others are still living there between 90 and 100 years of age. There is a saying:

"All about Malvern Hill
A man may live as long as he will."

Dr. Addison, in 1834, showed that there were then living in that parish, on the eastern side of the hill, nearly double the number of persons, at 80 years of age, than were in all England at the same rate of population; and at 90, three times the number, without taking into account still older persons. In January, 1835, at Great Malvern, there were 60 persons residing, who were 70 years and upwards. Miss[Pg 257] Sarah Davis, of Rock, died on the 17th of June, 1856, at the age of 103. She possessed all her faculties till within a few hours of her death, and had only suffered a little lameness from rheumatism. Till very lately she could see to thread her needle, and had been employed for half a century on Hollins' farm, as a market and charwoman. She had been a spinster all her life, and had a strong aversion to the male sex.

The Worcester papers of July 12, 1856, recorded the death (on the 10th of the same month) of the Rev. James Hastings, rector of Martley, in his hundred and first year, and also that of Jane Doughty on the 8th, in her ninety-fifth year. The latter was a very remarkable instance, because the poor woman belonged to a class who enjoy but few of those comforts which would seem necessary for the prolongation of life to such a span. She had lived for many years in a humble tenement in Pye Corner, Bull Entry—a situation which no one would point out as apparently conducive to long life. Formerly, she was a fruit-seller in Fish Street, and many of the citizens probably recollect her as the little old woman who used to take her seat on the Old Bank steps, with her basket of fruit, &c., for sale. Up to the last she could hear and see well enough, and was only a little bent from age. She would eat heartily, but of plain diet, and her neighbours do not recollect her taking ale till the day before her death, when she wished to have some, and it being brought, she drank a good draught. A few hours only of indisposition brought her to her end—being one of the rare instances of really natural death (i.e. not dying from disease) which occur amongst us. Deceased was the grandmother of Sergeant Doughty, of the city police. She was born in the proverbially healthy district of Martley (where also, it will be observed, the other individual mentioned in this narrative formerly[Pg 258] resided); and married Abraham Doughty, sergeant in the 29th, at All Saints in this city. She had four children, all of whom she survived, twenty-five grand-children, fifty great-grand-children, and four great-great-grand-children. Previous to her death, Sergeant Doughty could say what very few can—that he had a grandmother and grand-children living at the same time.


It is said in the history of Gloucester that shortly after the Restoration of Charles II, the King, bitterly remembering his father's defeat before that city, ordered the doors belonging to the gates to be pulled down, and presented them to the city of Worcester, which had long remained faithful to his cause. On the south gate of Gloucester, which was battered down during the siege by the King in 1643 (but was rebuilt in the same year), was inscribed in capital letters round the arch—"A city assaulted by man but saved by God: Ever remember the 5th of September, 1643." This was the day the siege was raised by Essex.


The old Black Boy, at Feckenham, is now closed as an inn. It had been in the family of the Gardners about 139 years. The sign, which was of copper, stood the whole of that time, until taken down in 1854.

The present occupiers of "Mopson's Cross" inn, near Wyre Forest, boast that their ancestors have occupied that inn for more than two centuries, and that it is the oldest licensed house in the county. The Talbot inn, Sidbury, Worcester, and the Talbot in the Tything, are very ancient, and the County Sessions were formerly adjourned regularly to those old hostelries.

[Pg 259]


In Yardley church is a memorial to one of the Este family, who, though blind, was said to have attained a perfect knowledge of the Scriptures, by heart, from beginning to end.


The Longdon marshes (formerly a waste of nearly 10,000 acres) are believed to have formed a backwater of the Severn estuary, subject to tidal influence, in those very ancient times when, according to Sir R. Murchison, the "Straits of Malvern" existed. Various sea birds still come there in the winter season, as though a traditionary remembrance had been wafted down among the feathered tribes of the time when this wild spot was more particularly their own sporting ground.


There are many instances in Worcestershire of the offices of sexton and clerk having been held as hereditary ones for very lengthened periods. At Feckenham, the late Mr. David Clarkson (literally, the clerk's son), who died in March, 1854, after having been a model clerk for many years, could boast of his ancestors having occupied the same office for two centuries. He served in his youth as drum-major in the artillery, and when he succeeded his father in the clerkship, became the tutor of choir after choir, and was the founder of that celebrity which has long attached to the Feckenham singers. He was also leader of the ringers. His death took place in his 79th year, and he was greatly respected.—The late clerk of Wolverley, Thomas Worrall (whose father had been thirty years clerk, and to whose memory some curious verses are inscribed on a stone in the churchyard), was him[Pg 260]self clerk forty-eight years, schoolmaster for thirty-three, and registrar for a long period, besides being leader of the choir and ringers. He was never absent from his duties at church but twice!—The Field family have been connected with the clerkship and beadledom of Kingsnorton for upwards of two centuries. Two of them alone held it for one hundred and two years! The last of the race, I think, died in 1818. The Fields were an ancient family in that parish, for there is an indenture in existence between William Wyllington and John Field of Kingsnorton, dated the 30th year of Henry VIII.—The family of the Roses has provided the church of Bromsgrove with clerks and sextons time out of mind; and at Belbroughton the Osbornes have done the same thing. One of this family was clerk till a very recent period. It appears, also, that the Osbornes had been tailors from very remote time, and the late clerk had several brothers who followed that very useful avocation. From a letter of Mr. Tristram (then the patron of Belbroughton) to Bishop Lyttelton, the Osbornes were tailors in the reign of Henry VIII, but they can trace their descent much higher, having been lineally descended from William Fitz-Osborne, who about seven centuries ago unjustly deprived Ralf Fitz-Herbert of his right to the manor of Bellem, in the above parish.—At Oldswinford, on December 28th, 1855, died Charles Orford, aged seventy-three; he had been parish sexton from his youth, having succeeded his father in that capacity, and leaving a son to follow.—The office of clerk at St. Michael's, Worcester, has been in the family of Bond for nearly a century.—John Tustin, the present clerk and sexton of Broadway church, has held those offices fifty-two years, and his father and grandfather also held them.

[Pg 261]


The mansion of Glasshampton, in the parish of Astley, was some years ago totally destroyed by fire. The Rev. D. J. J. Cookes, on coming into possession of the property, enlarged, repaired, and beautified the family seat. When the work was nearly completed, a dinner was given to the workmen in the mansion; but one tipsy fellow among them let fall the contents of his pipe upon some shavings, and the place was soon in a blaze. The entire edifice was destroyed, but among the furniture saved was an organ built by Green, the favourite artist of George III; it was afterwards sold to the parish of St. Nicholas, Worcester, and may be still heard in the church of that parish. Disastrous as was the Glasshampton fire, it nevertheless was an auspicious event for genius and literature, by bringing into notice that remarkable man, the Rev. Dr. Lee, late Professor of Arabic and then of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge. At the time of the fire he was employed as a carpenter in the mansion. The loss of his chest of tools and most of his books in the fire compelled him to solicit pecuniary help towards the purchase of another set. This circumstance led to such a development of his character and attainments, as resulted in his acquaintance with the late Archdeacon Corbett, and his matriculation and career at Cambridge.


In Redmarley church is an inscription to one George Shipside, as follows:

"All flesh is grasse worme's meat and clay, and here it hath short time to live,
For proofe whereof both night and day all mortall wights ensamples give.
[Pg 262] Beneath this stone fast closde in clay doth sleepe the corpes of George Shipside,
Wch. Christ shal rayse on ye last day and then with him be glorifide.
Whose sovle now lives assvredly in heaven with Christ ovr Saviovr
In perfect peace most ioyfvlly with Gods elect for evermore.

Obit die De'bris An. D'ni 1609, Ac An. Ætatis svæ 84. Ecce quid eris."

This is believed to be the George Shipside whose wife was sister to the martyr, Bishop Ridley. The bishop had the free warren of Bury Court, in this parish, and a George Shipside was his sister's second husband; he was the bishop's park-keeper at Bushley, was incarcerated at Oxford, and attended the martyr to the stake. Ridley's affectionate farewell on that occasion to George Shipside and his wife will not be forgotten. Ridley was led to the stake in 1555, at which time the above George Shipside was just thirty years of age.


The following is a copy of the will of John Baxter, of Conderton, Overbury, as proved in the Consistory Court of Worcester, in 1724:

"July the 25 Anno 1723;—
With God's good leave this is my last will
Which to deceive is past man's skill
I do bequeath unto his hill. My soul for to abide
My body to be turned to dust nere to my wives yt my sonnes nurst
To meete my soul againe I trust; when it is glorifide
For this world's good as God did lend it
If I heve not for to spend it; after this manner I commend it
As hereafter is directed
My goodes and cattle greate and small, to my son John I give them all
And unto him my land doth fall. Hes my executor
[Pg 263]And though to my wife I little give. I mean with John that she to live
And boath my sonns her to releive, and not to let her want
I leand som pounds to my sonn Thomas
Thirty of which by bond and promis
He must pay back at the next lamas after my decease
Nine thereof I bequeath unto his seede, three a piece I have decreed
Which being paid his bonde is freede I meane the thirty pounds
I give and bequeath tenn pounds to my sonn in law John Jones
And three pounds a piece to his 3 youngest ones, Samuel, Jone, and Marey Jones
I give and bequeath to my sisters three children John
Moses and Ann one pound nobles a peece. A slender fee
I give and bequeath to my sonn in lawe William Withorn
And to his wife Elizabeth and to his sonne William and to his daughter Sarie five shillings a peece
Last of all if my daughter Jones do out live her husband
I desire she may have free abiding at Conderton or
At Kinsham."


In some of our old histories occasional mention is made of pools suddenly changing from water to blood, or putting on a sanguine aspect, which in those "muddy-evil" times was considered a prodigy portending wars and direful slaughter. A similar appearance was presented a short time ago in a pool at Snead's Green, Mathon, in this county, the surface of which was so closely covered with a film of crimson and vermilion as to present a most extraordinary appearance. The gentleman who first observed this sanguine aspect of the pond, not thinking much of portents or omens, thought that the rural wheelwright had been emptying some refuse red paint in the water, which had got dispersed over the pond. But on inquiry this was not the case, and botanical science was then called in to solve the mystery. In the mean time, more than a week having elapsed, the curious appearance was almost gone when the spot was visited by some members[Pg 264] of the Malvern Club; but the clay on the margin of the pool displayed several patches of what looked very much like clotted blood, evidently the relics of what had been previously seen. On these being examined by Mr. E. Lees, who noticed the subject at a recent meeting of the Worcestershire Naturalists' Club, they were found to consist of innumerable minute globules containing a coloured fluid that oozed forth into a gelatinous mass, leaving the globules empty like small beads of glass; but so numerous and minute were they, that 6000 were contained within the superficial space of half a square inch. The bloody appearance was thus occasioned by the sudden fructification of an algoid plant, belonging probably to the genus Hæmatococcus, and allied to the singular production called Red Snow, though appearing in a different medium and under altered circumstances.


In 1656, Oliver Cromwell and his Parliament laid on a tax very much like the present property and income-tax, and its machinery of commissioners, assessors, &c., was also very similar. The commissioners for the county of Worcester were—"Sir Thomas Rous, Baronet, John Wilde, sergeant-at-law, Major-General James Berrey, Wil. Lygon, John Egiocke, Edw. Pit, Hen. Bromley of Holt, Rich. Grevis, Nicholas Lechmere, Gervase Buck, Wil. Geffreys, Joh. Corbet, Henry Bromley of Upton, Edw. Dingley, Charles Cornwallis, Nich. Acton, Rich. Foley, Walter Savage of Broadway, John Bridges, Richard Vernon, Thomas Foley, Thomas Milward, Talbot Badger, Thomas Tolley, John Latham, John Fownes, Theophilus Andrews, William Collins, Esquires; Thomas Young, Edmund Gyles, Edw. Moore, Nicholas Harris, Nicholas Blick, John Corbyn, John Baker, Gentn.; the Mayor of Evesham, Bayliff of Bewdley, and Bayliff of Kidderminster, for the[Pg 265] time being; Edmund Gyles, one of the Masters of the Chancery, Walter Gyles, Thomas Symonds of Peershore, Gentlemen; John Nanfan, Edward Salwey, Esquires. For the city of Worcester—Major-General James Berry, Edmund Pit, John Nash, Edward Elvins, Henry Ford, Francis Frank, Aldermen; Gervase Buck, Thomas Hall, Esquires; Capt. Thomas Wells; Richard Henning, Anthony Careless, John Higgins, William Cheatle, Arthur Lloid, Thomas Harrison, John Philips, Thomas Baker the Elder, Foulk Estop, Richard Ince, Robert Gorl, Gentn.; Edmund Gyles, one of the Masters of the Chancery; Wil. Collins, Esq.; Tho. Hackett, Alderman." To this tax the county of Worcester was to contribute £1013. 6s. 8d. per month, and the city of Worcester £53. 6s. 8d. per month, the value of the money in each case being then about ten times as much as it is now, as farms which were then let for £100 a year are now let for nearly £1000. The ordinance by which this tax was imposed is the ordinance of the Parliament, chapter 12, of the year 1656.


Specimens of punning are sometimes to be met with in our churches, and they will be found chiefly to belong to the seventeenth century, when all kinds of odd conceits and frippery in language abounded. In Eldersfield church, the widow of "William Helme, gentleman," thus laments his loss:

"My ship, long on the seas of this world tost,
Of helme bereav'd, lo here is sunk at last."

King's Norton church contains a monument to "Richard Greves, of Moseley, Knight," part of which is made of touchstone, and the inscription is in gold letters, concluding thus:

"Wherefore his name hath broke detraction's fetters,
And well abides the touch in golden letters."

[Pg 266]

Affixed to the principal porch of Bromsgrove church is a dial, at the bottom of which are the words "We shall;" the constructors of the instrument having left its name to complete the sentence, thus: "We shall (dial) die all." An excruciating pun, forsooth.

In Ledbury church is an inscription to one Charles Godwin and his wife, ending—

"Godwyn the one; God-won the other."


This order was intended by King Charles II as a reward to several of his followers, and the Knights of it were to wear a silver medal with a device of the King in the oak, pendant to a ribbon about their necks; but it was thought proper to lay it aside, lest it might create heats and animosities, and open those wounds afresh which at that time were thought prudent should be healed. There is, however, a manuscript in the handwriting of Peter Le Neve, Esq., Norroy King of Arms, the title of which is "A list of persons who were fit and qualified to be made Knights of the Royal Oak, with the value of their estates. Anno Domino 1660." This list contains the name of Baronets, Knights, and Esquires, with the value of their estates, and embraces every county of England and Wales. The list, so far as it relates to Worcestershire, is as follows:

Per ann.
Sir William Russell, Knight and Bart. £3,000
Sir Henry Littleton, Knight and Bart., of Frankley. 3,000
Samuel Sandys, Esq., of Umbersley 1,000
Sherrington Talbott, Esq. 1,000
Thomas Savage, of Elmley Castle, Esq. 800
—— Sheldon, of Broadway, Esq. 600
Mathew Morphew, Esq. 1,000[Pg 267]
Major Thomas Weld, Esq. 600
Thomas Acton, Esq. 1,000
Sir Rowland Berkley, Knight 1,000
Henry Bromley, Esq. 1,000
Philip Brace, Esq. 600
Francis Sheldon, Esq. 600
Joseph Walsh, Esq. 1,000
Sir Joseph Woodford, Knight 2,000
Thomas Child, Esq. 2,000


The following are the names in the Commission of the Peace and of Oyer and Terminer for the county of Worcester, dated December 5th, 1st Richard III, as they occur on the patent rolls of that year:

The Bishop here mentioned was John Alcock, who was Lord Chancellor in the reign of Henry VII; Humphrey Starky was Lord Chief Baron in the reign of Richard III; and Thomas Tremayle, a King's Serjeant, and afterwards a Judge.

[Pg 268]

It is worthy of observation, that at this period the Commission of Oyer and Terminer under which the criminal business of the Assizes is still transacted was not separated from the Commission of the Peace; and the very small number of Magistrates is accounted for by the fact of so much of what is now business at the Quarter Sessions, and before Magistrates, going to the Sheriff's Torn and the Courts Leet, of which Courts the Sheriff's Torn was the most important.


From 1651 until 1834, a period of 183 years, the Baptist Church at Bromsgrove had but five pastors, namely Revds. J. Eccles, W. Peart, G. Yarnold, J. Butterworth, and J. Scroxton. Mr. Scroxton resigned the pastorate at the above date (1834), on account of his age, and died in 1854, at the advanced age of 90. The first mention in history of Baptists in this county was in 1645, and the first minister the celebrated clergyman of Bewdley—the Rev. Dr. John Tombes, a native of that borough. In early life this noted individual studied at Oxford, and having made good use of his time, he was, at the age of 21, chosen lecturer at Magdalen Hall. In 1643 he held a private meeting with the principal London clergy, to whom he avowed his belief in adult baptism, and in the same year he transmitted his belief to the Westminster assembly of divines, in a well-written argument in Latin; the assembly, however, did not send him a reply. He returned to his native place in 1645, and both preached and administered baptism by immersion, and formed in Bewdley a distinct church, which continues till the present time. He also preached with great success at Worcester and other places. His popularity procured for him a great many opponents, and among others Richard Baxter, who at that period (1648) resided at Kidderminster.[Pg 269] Mr. Baxter courageously challenged Dr. Tombes to a public discussion. This took place at Bewdley, on New Year's Day, 1649, before a large number of individuals, some of whom came from distant parts of the country, including several from the Universities. Wood, the historian, noticing this controversy, says, "All scholars then and there present, who knew ye way of disputing and managing arguments, did conclude that Tombes got ye better of Baxter by far." He also held several other discussions, both in England and Wales.

The House of Lords, in their conference with the House of Commons, on the "Occasional Conformity Bill," speaking of him, says that he was "a very learned and famous man." Among others he baptized at Bewdley were the Rev. Richard Adams and John Eccles. Mr. Adams was a short time afterwards ejected from his living at Humberstone, Leicestershire, and, in 1651, was minister of Devonshire Square Chapel, London. Mr. Eccles commenced preaching at Bromsgrove in 1650, and soon afterwards formed the church there which still exists. The opposition and persecution he met with was very severe, but it appears that, notwithstanding, the members greatly increased, for in 1670 there were 97 at Bromsgrove who professed the Baptist belief; at the present time, although the population has more than doubled, there are but 103. Mr. Eccles was for a considerable time confined in a dungeon in Worcester gaol, but was restored to liberty through the influence of Mr. Swift, M.P., one of the county members, who was bound for him in £1000 bond. Dr. Tombes also suffered greatly, and on two occasions was robbed of all he had by the King's forces at Leominster and Bristol: at the latter place he narrowly escaped with his life. Mr. Eccles continued at Bromsgrove till 1697, when he retired to Salisbury, where he died (1711) at an advanced[Pg 270] age, after being a minister upwards of 60 years. Dr. Tombes retired to Coventry, where he died in 1676, aged 73. The Baptist church at Worcester was founded in 1651; Pershore, 1658; and Upton-on-Severn, 1670. Several very noted individuals have been baptized at Bromsgrove—David Crossley, who became minister at Currier's Hall, London; Rev. R. Claridge, M.A., rector of Peopleton, afterwards a noted minister in the metropolis; Rev.—Miles, M.A., master of Kidderminster Grammar School; Solomon Young, who become tutor at Stepney College, &c. During the ministry of the Rev. G. Yarnold, at Bromsgrove, and principally by a few of the Baptists of that town, the first Birmingham Baptist Church was founded, 1737, in Cannon street, and is at the present time the most influential and, with two exceptions, the largest Baptist interest in the United Kingdom. Another chapter on Nonconformity will be found in this book.


The number of communicants at the holy sacrament in 1548 in thirty-five parishes in the diocese of Worcester is given in the certificate of Colleges and Chantries, No. 60, now remaining in the Carlton Ride Record Office. This certificate was made by "Sir John Pakynton, Knyght, Sir Robert Acton, Knyght, John Skewdamour, Esquyer, William Sheldon, Esquyer, George Willoughby, William Grove, Willyam Crouche, and John Bourne, Gentilmen," under a commission from King Edward VI, bearing date the 14th day of February, in the second year of his reign. This certificate contains a column headed "The names of the Townes and Parishes withe the nomber of hosslyng people in the same;" and each entry is in the following form: "1. The parishe of Saynt Ellyns within the said Citie, wherein bee of hoselyng people the nombre of six hunderd."

[Pg 271]

For the sake of brevity the names and numbers are here given. It is impossible to give the population of these places at the earlier date. The numbers of the communicants were carefully preserved by the ecclesiastical authorities, although the civil authorities paid no attention to the numbers of the population; but it is curious to mark, at a time when the numbers of the population must have been so much less than at present, how large a proportion the numbers of religious communicants in some instances bear to those of the present population.

Communicants in 1548. Pop. in 1851.
1. St. Ellyns 600 1368
2. St. Swythyns 400 906
3. St. Andrews 600 1678
4. All Saints 600 2205
5. St. Nicholas 600 2030
6. St. Peters 500 4588
7. St. Martins 5050
8. Kemsey 420 1375
9. Claines 400 6819
10. Kingsnorton 910 7759
11. Bromesgrove 1000 10308
12. Severn Stoke 300 726
13. St. Andrews, Droitwich 200 983
14. St. Peters, Droitwich 812
15. Hampton Lovet 80 172
16. Salwarpe 200 446
17. Alvechurch 400 1600
18. Holy Cross, Pershore 2528
19. Kethermyster 700 23845
20. Olde Swyneford 700 20038
21. Chiddesley Corbett 500 1420[Pg 272]
22. Tenbury 400 1786
23. Knyghton 160 523
24. Rocke, otherwise called Raka 260 1435
25. Rybbesford 940 3435
26. Rypple 300 1097
27. Byshampton 200 444
28. Blockley 400 2587
29. Icombe 80 131
30. Rydmerley 230 1192
31. Suckley 200 1193
32. Lygh 340 2342
33. Elderfyld 280 794
34. All Seynts, in Evesham 1300 1698
35. St. Laurence, in Evesham 500 1733

It has been suggested that the large numbers specified in this certificate were not the numbers of actual communicants, but merely the numbers of persons who were of an age to be so, or perhaps the total number of communicants during the year. This seems, however, not to have been the case, and that these were the numbers of the actual communicants is shown by the fact that in the certificates for Gloucestershire and Wiltshire the numbers are equally high; and on the 14th of May, 1637, the Bishop of Salisbury issued an injunction to the curate and churchwardens of Aldbourne containing (inter alia) as follows: "I doe further appoint that thrice in the yeare at the least there be publique notice given in the church for fower Comunions to be held vpon fower Sundaies together, and that there come not to the Comunion in one day above two hundred at the Most." The population of Aldbourne is 1622. It has been suggested by a Roman Catholic gentleman that, before the Reformation, if any one beyond[Pg 273] the age of confirmation had not received the Holy Communion at Easter, he would not be entitled to Christian burial if he died within the year, unless some very special cause could be shown. This also would go to account for the number of communicants in the different places being very large.


The costume of the Bench and the Bar is the first thing which attracts the attention of the stranger visiting our Courts of Justice, and on this we will remark, beginning with

The Wig.—"All the wisdom's in the wig" is a saying familiar to us all, and yet the wig was the latest addition to forensic costume. The first species of wig worn in the Courts is that now worn by the Judges at our Cathedrals, called the full-bottomed wig. This was introduced by Louis XIV in France, and copied by Charles II in England; and after that it was worn down to the time of George II as the full-dress wig of noblemen, generals, admirals, churchmen, lawyers, and private gentlemen. It is still worn as the full-dress wig of the Lord Chancellor, Judges of law and equity, the Speaker, Queen's Counsel, Serjeants-at-Law, Masters in Chancery, Recorders, and Judges of the Local Courts. In one of Hogarth's prints of Speaker Onslow and several members of the House of Commons, sitting in the House, all are represented with the full-bottomed wig; and in the prints of the same celebrated artist, Mr. Kettleby, who was the last barrister who merely as a barrister wore the full-bottomed wig, is so represented.

Mr. Meadows, of Gloucester, who is the oldest wigmaker in this part of England, states that those wigs which had the tails knotted were called "tie-wigs," and those short at the back were called "bob-wigs." Thus, a Judge's Nisi Prius wig was called a "friz-tie," it being frizzed all over; a[Pg 274] Bishop's wig being a "friz-bob." And it is stated by Mr. Planché, in his admirable little work on British costume, that the tie-wig and the bob-wig were both introduced in the reign of George II, the latter being sometimes worn without powder. Mr. Planché also informs us that the bag-wig was introduced in the reign of Queen Anne.

The Friz-tie Wig.—This is worn by the Judges at Nisi Prius and by the Judges of the local Courts, but this wig was not originally forensic, as it appears in the portrait of Mr. Beaumont, a London attorney of the reign of George II.

The Two-curl Bob-wig.—This was a powdered wig with a peak in front, frizzed all over, except two rows of curls all round the bottom of the back of it. It was worn by Judges when opening the commission, and down to the time of Lord Denman, when they received the Magistrates and the Bar at dinner in the circuit towns; and down to the time of Baron Garrow, when the Judges dined with our Diocesan or Lord Lieutenant, they wore this wig, a black silk gown, and bands. This species of wig was worn by private gentlemen at the beginning of the reign of George III; and Mr. Walter Horton, an eminent shoe manufacturer, at Stafford, who died about 1776, is represented wearing this wig in his portrait, now in the possession of Dr. Knight, the physician and magistrate at that place, who married his granddaughter and co-heiress.

The Curl Tie-wig.—This is the Barrister's wig. It was worn by the late Lord Melville when at the House of Lords, although he was not a barrister. This noble Lord died in 1811.

The Scratch-wig.—This was a brown wig curled all over, worn by the Judges in the streets, with a hat now only worn by Bishops and dignified clergy. This wig was introduced by George IV when Prince of Wales, and was worn by the[Pg 275] Judges when not in Court, down to the time of Lord Gifford. It was stated by Mr. Meadows that all these wigs were well known by their names before-mentioned when he was an apprentice.

The Moustache.—On the Bench and at the Bar the moustache was the immediate predecessor of the wig. In the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and Kings James and Charles I the Bench and the Bar wore moustaches, as may be seen in the council-room at Lincolns' Inn and elsewhere in the portraits of Lord Coke, Lord Hale, Lord Keeper Coventry, Lord Ellesmere, and many others. In the reign of King Charles II the moustache generally disappeared, and on went the wig; but there is in Berkeley Castle a fine portrait of King Charles II, by Sir Peter Lely, in which that monarch is represented in a large full-bottomed wig, like that of a Judge at our Cathedral, with the exception of the powder, and wearing a small but well-trimmed moustache. The moustache, however, which had been almost universally worn by all (ecclesiastics, lawyers, and laymen, Archbishop Laud included), did not reappear at the Bar till very recently, when it was worn in our Courts by Mr. Bernhard Smith, Mr. Chandos Pole, Mr. Woodhouse Owen, Mr. Compigne, and other members of the Oxford circuit.

The Band.—Dr. Burn, in his "Ecclesiastical Law," in treating of the costume of the clergy, says—"The band is not so ancient as any canon of the church. Archbishop Laud is pictured in a ruff, which was worn at that time both by clergymen and gentlemen of the law, as also long before, during the reigns of King James I and Queen Elizabeth. The band came in with the Puritans and other sectaries upon the downfall of Episcopacy, and in a few years more became the habit of men of all denominations and professions." It was worn by Oliver Cromwell; and in the portraits of some[Pg 276] of the Judges (temp. Charles II) in the Courts at Guildhall, London, the band appears to be nothing more than the ends of a turn-down collar, of the kind worn by young boys now.

The Gold Collar.—This is worn by the two Lords Chief Justices and Lord Chief Baron, and is called the collar of Esses, from the letter S occurring in it. The origin of this is not known: it was worn by the personal friends of Henry IV, and is found represented on the monuments of noblemen, warriors, and even ladies.

The Scarlet Robe.—This is of great antiquity. Lord Chief Baron Cassy is represented wearing such a robe on his monument in Deerhurst church, near Tewkesbury; he died 1401.

The Black Silk Gown.—This is an undress gown of the Lord Chancellor, Judges, Queen's Counsel, and Serjeants-at-Law, none of them wearing his full dress gown in an assize town except the Judges. The Queen's Counsel's full dress gown is of figured black silk, tufted all over like a parish clerk's. The serjeant's full dress is a cloth robe, scarlet for state occasions, black in term time, and purple on the red letter days of the almanac if in term.

The Tippet.—This is a piece of cloth about two feet long, shaped something like a gun-case; it is worn by the Judges in the Crown Court, and by the Serjeants in term time, hung from the right shoulder by a strong metal hook. The tippet is mentioned as a portion of ecclesiastical costume in the 74th canon of 1603. In a very interesting article, which recently appeared in the "Quarterly Review," entitled "Rubric against Usage," some question is raised as to what the tippet was, but on this there ought to be no doubt, as it is still worn by the Judges and Serjeants-at-Law.

The Black Silk Scarf.—This is worn by the Judge in the Crown Court; it is the same as the scarf worn by the[Pg 277] clergy, and is evidently derived from the stola, an ecclesiastical vestment.

The Black Silk Girdle.—This is worn by the Judge in the Crown Court; it was a part of the civil costume of the reign of King Henry VII, and is often seen represented in monumental brasses of that period.

The Hood.—Judges sometimes wear the ermine hood with their scarlet robes. The barrister has a black hood (useless from its small size) attached to the back of his gown.

The Judge's Court Hat.—An equilateral cocked hat. The gentleman's hat temp. George II.

The Black Coat and Waistcoat.—The bar did not uniformly wear these till after the general mourning for Queen Anne. Before this time the barristers wore coats and waistcoats of any colour under their gowns, as the undergraduates of Oxford do now. But at this general mourning the Judges thought that the bar in the uniform black dress looked so well that they suggested its continuance, and it has been continued ever since. Indeed, it seems to be pretty clear that a black waistcoat was not always a part of the costume of the bar, as even now, on full dress occasions, the Queen's Counsel wear waistcoats of gold or silver tissue, or of white silk embroidered with coloured flowers. On ecclesiastical and forensic costume in general the Rev. Dr. Burn (before cited) observes that "most of the peculiar habits, both in the Church and in Courts of Justice, and in the Universities, were in their day the common habit of the nation, and were retained by persons and in places of importance only as having an air of antiquity, and thereby in some sort conducing to attract veneration, and the same, on the other hand, in proportion do persuade to a suitable gravity of demeanour, for an irreverent behaviour in a venerable habit is extremely burlesque and ungraceful."

[Pg 278]

The Barrister's Bag.—At present the younger barristers have blue bags, the elder having red ones. Down to the reign of George IV no barrister carried a bag in Court unless it had been given to him by a King's Counsel, which arose in this way. Down to that period the King's Counsel had no salaries, but each was allowed every year a ream of foolscap paper, a ream of draft paper, six pieces of red tape, six bags, a penknife, a paper of sand, and a paper of pins. These bags being more than they wanted for their own use, some of them were given by them from time to time to their younger friends, who were getting into business, to entitle them, as the phrase was, "to carry a bag," the clerk, who was the bearer of the present, having a fee of a guinea for it. But at last the King's Counsel complaining that the paper was bad, the amount paid by the Government for the allowances was given to them instead, and so matters continued until Mr. (afterwards Lord) Denman was appointed King's Counsel, when fearing that this commuted allowance might be the means of vacating his seat in Parliament, he was appointed King's Counsel "without any fee, gain, or reward whatsoever," and so have been all the King's and Queen's Counsel ever since.

Opening the Pleadings.—At present the junior counsel for the plaintiff, in a Nisi Prius cause, shortly states the effect of the pleadings. This is called "opening the pleadings." This practice was introduced at the suggestion of Lord Mansfield, early in the reign of George III. The Nisi Prius business in London was then monopolised by Sir Fletcher Norton, Mr. Dunning, and a few other leaders, and to throw something into the hands of the juniors Lord Mansfield suggested the practice that in every case where a King's Counsel was alone for the plaintiff a junior should have a guinea fee to state or open the pleadings. This was[Pg 279] acceded to; but as the clients thought this of no use to them, they had a second brief delivered to a junior with two guineas, and the junior then assisted the leader throughout the cause, as the practice is now; but even at present, if a plaintiff has only engaged Queen's Counsel or Serjeants, the youngest counsel present is paid a guinea to open the pleadings only, and do nothing more in the cause; and this is called a "kite."

Assize Balls.—The late Mr. Bellamy, who went the Oxford and other circuits for sixty-two years, and who died in 1845, remembered that in every county on this circuit there was an assize ball on the commission day of each assize. This ball was attended by the nobility and gentry of the county and the Judges and Bar. The Judges used to wear to the balls the black silk gown, band, and the two-curl bob-wig. They were attended by the High Sheriff, wearing a full court dress, bag-wig, and sword; and his chaplain, in his gown, cassock, and band. The Judges did not dance, but they usually played at whist. The assize ball was continued in Buckinghamshire within the memory of the Rev. Edward Owen, one of the present magistrates of that county.

The Courts.—In the recollection of Mr. Bellamy, in every assize town on the Oxford circuit the two Courts were held in the same room, without any division or partition, so that one Judge could see the other. This continued at Gloucester till the year 1816, and the alteration was occasioned by this circumstance: Baron (then Judge) Bayley was trying a man for murder, and his jury burst into a laugh at one of Mr. Dauncey's jokes in a horse cause in the other Court. The learned Judge thought it was time this was altered.

Assize Presents.—Formerly the Judges on their circuits had an immense number of presents—venison, fruit, wine,[Pg 280] &c.—which half kept their house during the assizes; but in the year 1794, when so much was subscribed for the defence of the nation against the threatened invasion, the value of the different presents was subscribed, and the presents discontinued, and never again renewed. About thirty years ago a story was current in Worcester that the Mayor always sent the Judges a present of a loaf of sugar, and that the Judges in return invited the Mayor to dine with them; but that the Mayor being once uninvited, the sugar was discontinued ever after. Till the passing of the Municipal Reform Act the Corporation of Gloucester always sent each Judge in spring a salmon and a house lamb, and in summer a salmon and a whole sheep; and at present the Corporation of Oxford give to each Judge a pair of white kid gloves, edged with gold lace, and ornamented with gold tassels.

The High Sheriff's Costume.—Of late years, in Worcestershire, the High Sheriff has dressed as any other gentleman. In Berkshire and Oxfordshire the High Sheriff's costume is a court dress, and it was so till lately in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire; but as the present court dress was first introduced in the early part of the reign of George III, the bag-wig in the reign of George II, and as swords were worn by all the gentlemen as part of their usual evening dress, within the memory of Mrs. Hannah Shenton, of Stafford, who is now living at the advanced age of ninety-seven, it is manifest that the High Sheriff only appeared in the full dress of a gentleman of his time. And as a further proof that the costume of the High Sheriff was the full dress of the private gentleman of the period, there is a portrait of Francis Goddard, Esq., High Sheriff of Wiltshire, in the reign of King William III, now in the possession of Major Goddard, of the Wilts Militia, in which the High Sheriff is wearing a full-bottomed wig.

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Javelin Men.—These, no doubt, were the vassals and retainers of the High Sheriff, who attended to protect and guard the Judges, the weapon they carried being the partizan, which is still carried by the yeomen of the guard, which was introduced in the reign of Henry VIII. Mr. Aubrey, the Wiltshire antiquary of Charles II's reign, in a letter published by him in a work called "Miscellanies on several Curious Subjects," says, from information obtained from his grandfather (temp. Henry VIII)—"Lords had their armouries to furnish some hundreds of men. The halls of Justices of the Peace were dreadful to behold: the screens were garnished with corslets and helmets, gaping with open mouths with coats of mail, lances, pikes, halberts, brown-bills, batterdashers, bucklers, and the modern calivers and petronels (in King Charles I's time turned to muskets and pistols). Then an esquire, when he rode to town, was attended by eight or ten men in blue coats with badges;" and it would seem that from the reign of King Charles II the javelin men have continued to be much the same as at present, as in the printed articles of agreement entered into in that reign by sixty-four Wiltshire gentlemen, who were liable to serve the office of High Sheriff, it is stipulated (inter alia) "That no one of the said persons, when he is made sheriff of the said county, have above thirty livery-men, nor under twenty, for his attendance at the assize. * * * And that when any of the said subscribers shall be made sheriffs of the said county, the livery shall be a plain cloth coat or cloke, edged and lined through with sarge, a black hat, and suitable javelin." This curious document, which was signed by one of his ancestors, still remains in possession of Major Goddard.

The Trumpeters.—These were part of the state of every Nobleman, Bishop, and High Sheriff. Mr. Aubrey, in his[Pg 282] letter before cited, says—"The Lords kept trumpeters, even to King James;" and as late as the reign of George II there were trumpeters in the establishment of the Archbishop of Canterbury. At ancient banquets, trumpeters were always in attendance. At the Peacock Feast given by Robert Braunche, Mayor of Lynn, to King Edward III, and represented on the tomb of that magistrate, in Lynn Church, the sonorous blast of the trumpets accompanies the introduction of the viands; and at the Lord Mayor's Dinner at Guildhall, on the 9th of November, every toast is announced with a flourish of trumpets, at the top of the hall, which is answered by another flourish from the bottom.


John Aubrey, Esq., F.R.S., in his Natural History, written between the years 1656 and 1691, says (p. 70)—"Dame Olave, a daughter and co-heire of Sir Henry Sharington, of Lacock, being in love with John Talbot, a younger brother of the Earle of Shrewsbury, and her father not consenting that she should marry him, discoursing with him one night from the battlements of the Abbey church, said shee, 'I will leap downe to you.' Her sweetheart replied he would catch her then, but he did not believe she would have done it. She leapt down, and the wind, which was then high, came under her coates, and did something breake the fall. Mr. Talbot caught her in his armes, but she struck him dead. She cried out for help, and he was with great difficulty brought to life again. Her father told her that since she had made such a leap she should e'en marrie him. She was my honoured friend, Colonel Sharington Talbot's grandmother, and died at her house at Lacock, about 1651, being about a hundred yeares old." To this passage the veteran antiquary, John Britton, Esq., F.A.S., has added this note: "Olave, or Olivia[Pg 283] Sherington married John Talbot, Esq., of Salwarpe, in the county of Worcester, fourth in descent from John, second Earl of Shrewsbury; she inherited the Lacock estate from her father, and it has ever since remained the property of that branch of the Talbot family, now represented by the scientific Henry Fox Talbot, Esq." Sir Henry Sherington was the son of Sir William Sherington, one of the ecclesiastical commissioners for Wiltshire on the dissolution of the Chantries; and to him Henry VIII granted the possessions of Lacock Abbey, and a good deal of other monastic property in Wiltshire. Mr. Aubrey was one of the original members of the Royal Society. He attended Charles II and his brother, afterwards James II, on their visit to the Druidical Temple, at Avebury, in 1663; and dined with Oliver Cromwell, the Protector, at Hampton Court, in 1657 or 8, as is stated in his work before cited, pp. 97 and 103.


An interesting relic of the seventeenth century exists in the old Theological Library in the School in King's Norton churchyard, founded by Thomas Hall, the ejected Puritan of 1662. Hall is well known to literary men as the author of "Funebriæ Floræ, or Downfal of May-day Games," the "Treatise against Long Hair," and other works. An interesting sketch is given of him by Calamy, in his account of the ejected ministers, affixed to his life of Baxter; and also by Wood, in his "Athenæ Oxonienses." The library consists of from six to eight hundred volumes, of all sizes, ranging from about 1580 to 1645 or 1650, and the books contain the name of the donor on the title-page. All the works are devotional, and many of them controversial. There are discoveries of and safeguards against the subtleties of Jesuitism, and against the then recently propounded notions of the[Pg 284] Quakers, as well as treatises on doctrinal points, commentaries on the Scriptures, translations from Ovid, and sermons preached before Parliament. The entire collection shows strikingly how, even in the stirring times of civil war, a minister could devote himself to the duties of his sacred calling; and, judging from the evidence presented by his choice, how completely he could isolate himself from the seductions even of theological polemics, for the grand old truth held by all orthodox Christians. It is to be regretted that the library is so little known. It is said that a similar library was established at the little village of Sheldon, near Yardley.


The old English black rat (Mus rattus), which has been nearly superseded in this country by the brown Norway rat, still lingers at retired farmhouses in this county, as, for instance, at Grimsend, Alfrick, Clay Green, and Wick, near Worcester. The brown rat was unknown in England till 1730. It is said that the great numbers of these intruders in the Isle of France drove the Dutch from that settlement.


The earliest mention of the purchase of paper in England is believed to be in an original computus roll of the 43rd year of Edward III (nearly five centuries ago) relative to the receipts and disbursements of Halesowen Abbey; it is as follows: "Et in paper empt. pro literis et aliis necessariis domus, 12d."


After being lost for half a century, the seal of the Corporation of Worcester has been found at Rouen, in Normandy. The antiquity of this seal is not so curious, perhaps, as the[Pg 285] locality where it has been found. The device is a church, surrounded by a wall, having battlements on it, and round the device is the inscription—"SIGILLUM COMMUNE CIUIVM WIGORNIE," with something like the date "952." The figures, however, are very indistinct, though it is supposed by a writer in the "Worcester Herald" that they may refer to the date of King Edgar's reign, who was a great friend to the city of Worcester, and might have fortified it about that era; but then the use of figures was not adopted in England, or in Europe generally, till some centuries after the date assigned.


In Macaulay's "History of England," vol. iv, p. 461, it is stated, that when the Dutch army was marching from Torbay towards London, in 1688, Sir Edward Harley, of Brampton Brian, and his son Robert (afterwards, as Earl of Oxford, Queen Anne's minister, and a high churchman) declared for the Prince of Orange and a free parliament, raised a large body of horse, took possession of Worcester, and evinced their zeal against Popery by publicly breaking to pieces, in the High Street, a piece of sculpture which, to rigid precisians, seemed idolatrous.


"A Stranger," writing to one of the local newspapers a few months ago, drew the attention of antiquaries to some painted glass in the great east window of the above church which is not noticed by Dr. Nash or Mr. Green, the Worcester historians. There is (he says) a head with long flowing hair and a forked beard, and another head with the face close shaven and a coronet. The first of these, I should suggest, was painted in the reign of Richard II; on his tomb in[Pg 286] Westminster Abbey there is his effigy with a forked beard; and on the tomb of Edward III, in the same place, his effigy has the long flowing hair. The head with the coronet is exactly like one in the great church in Cirencester, of which there is a coloured engraving in Mr. Lyson's Gloucestershire Antiquities: that is supposed to be the head of Edward IV's father, whose "feodary" (an official something between an English steward and an Irish middleman), built this part of the church. Dr. Nash mentions two circumstances connected with St. John's which coincide with these dates. He says that in 1371, only six years before the reign of Richard II, William de Lynne, Bishop of Worcester, suppressed the Chapel of Wyke and constituted St. John's a vicarage; and that in the first year of the reign of Edward IV, the Prior of Worcester granted to the Corporation the privilege of attending Divine service at the Cathedral with their officers, but if any officer should arrest, or do any act in the monastery sanctuary, or St. John's, he should "forfeit his mace and office without any hopes of restitution." This grant is witnessed by John Carpenter, then Bishop of Worcester; Sir Thomas Littleton, Serjeant-at-Law (the very celebrated Judge who was buried, in the Cathedral); and others. There is also a figure kneeling. This is a Saint, as he has the nimbus round his head, and from his young and beardless face it is probably St. John. There is also between this figure and the coroneted head a grotesque head with the mouth open and the tongue protruded. This I never before saw in a window, or inside a church, though it is very common in carving on the outside of churches. These grotesques are by some supposed to represent the deadly sins—the evil passions and the like. May not this device be founded on Isaiah ch. lvii, v. 4?

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The Rev. O. Fox, incumbent of Knightwick-cum-Dodenham, late head master of the Worcester College School, has advanced the following ingenious theory to account for the remarkable epitaph on the above monument in the Lady Chapel of Worcester Cathedral, which has long puzzled our local and other antiquaries. The epitaph (he says) was prepared by the Bishop himself fourteen years before his decease in 1641, at the age of 94. He was addicted to alchemy, and published a book in 1621, entitled [Greek: Dithotheôrikos] Διθοθεωρικος, sive, Nihil aliquid, omnia, &c. In the course of some recent studies in the Pythagorean philosophy, my attention was accidently engaged by this inscription; and it at once struck me that it was thence that the explanation was to be derived. The epitaph is as follows: on one side,

"Denarius Philosophorum, Dum Spiro Spero."

on the other

"In Uno, 2o 3o 4or 10. non Spirans Sperabo."

The two latter letters are now effaced.

It is well known that the Pythagoreans found all the modes of space in the relations of numbers.

The monad, or unit, was not only the point whence all extension proceeds, but it further symbolised the First Principle, the origin of all. The decad represented the line, as being bounded by two points or monads. The triad stood for surface, as length and width. The tetrad for the perfect figure—the cube, length, depth, and width. The decad, or denarius, indicated comprehensively all being, material and immaterial, in the utmost perfection: hence the term decas, or denarius, was used summarily for the whole science of numbers, and in the title of Meursius's tract, "De Denario[Pg 288] Pythagorico," which was published four years after the date of the inscription, and when the philosophy was attracting much attention among European scholars. To be as concise as possible, then, I presume that the old bishop intended that the tomb on which his effigy lies was his access to that perfection of existence which philosophers had designated by the decas, or denarius. During the present life he was hoping for it. "Dum Spiro Spero."—On the other side: "In Him, who is the source, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all existence and perfection (in Uno, 2o. 3o. 4or 10. non Spirans Sperabo), though I breathe no more, yet shall I hope."

Such is probably the meaning of his pious conceit, and I offer it as a solution of what has long served for a riddle to the visitors of our Cathedral. Beyond this, your readers and myself may be equally indifferent to such cabalistical quaintness. But let us treat it with charity, as the devout consummation of an aged alchymist.


Traces of ancient vineyards are abundant in this county. At Great Hampton is a place called "Vineyard Hill," where a vinery was established in the Conqueror's time. ("Et vinea novella ibi," Domesday.) In South Littleton is "Vineyard Orchard," "Vine Street" in Evesham, and "Vineyard Hill" near that town. At Pensax is a field called "The Vineyard," and there is a tradition that a Mr. King, about a century ago, endeavoured to establish there a vineyard of considerable extent, and created an artificial atmosphere by means of flues spread over the piece of land. The appearance of the field justifies the tradition. Is there any allusion to this wild scheme in the archives of the Dean and Chapter, to whom the land belonged? In the rector's garden at Fladbury is the supposed site of the "Vineyards," which in[Pg 289] the time of Henry III were cultivated there—(Item percepit duas paries decimarum terrarum quondam ubi vineæ fuerunt apud Fladbury: Priory Ledger.) Vines still flourish and ripen well in that garden. To the south of Astley church, across the road, lies the "Church-bank," whereon, tradition says, the monks of Astley Priory were wont to cultivate the vine; and traces are still visible of terraces whereon probably the vines were planted. Documents exist relative to vineyards at Ripple, Leigh, Sedgberrow, and Elmley Castle; and at Droitwich is a place called "The Vines;" "Vine Hill" and the "Vineyards," at Doddenham; "The Vinne," "Vinne Orchard," "Big Vinne," "Little Vinne," and "Great Viney," at Abberley; "Vineyard," in Stoke Bliss; "The Vineyard," Powick (belonging to St. Martin's parish, and appropriated to the repairs of the church); "The Vineyard," Lower Mitton, &c. Some writers have supposed that the Romans planted vines in Britain. Tacitus intimates that the olive and the vine were deficient here; but it is clear from Bede and others that they were cultivated at a subsequent period, and perhaps were neglected only when the inhabitants found they could purchase better wines at a low price from France, or employ their lands to greater advantage by growing corn. (See also the chapter on Bishop Swinfield's Roll, p. 146.)


Mr. Allies, in his "Antiquities and Folk-lore," mentions a remarkable echo at the Upper House, Alfrick, which is so distinct that it will allow about ten syllables to be uttered before it begins to repeat them. A pointer-dog in the neighbourhood used to resort to the spot, and bark till he was tired at his supposed antagonist. Nash records that in the parish of Bromsgrove were several echoes—one at the white gate, between Dyer's bridge and the turnpike; another in the[Pg 290] Crown Close behind High Street; a third at the east and west corners of the church; a fourth at Woodcot; and a fifth on the east side of High Street, near the Presbyterian meeting-house, opposite New Barn. Whether any of these mocking nymphs have left their cells since the days of Nash, the writer is unable to say. There is a good echo in the Bath Road, about two miles from Worcester Cross, and another on Lansdowne Terrace. In the garden of Chaddesley Corbett vicarage an echo is produced by the tolling of the great bell of the church, which, after an interval of two or three seconds, returns distinctly upon the ear, as though it were the tolling of the bell of Stone church, which is two miles distant.


The last country gentleman who kept a fool—that is, a professional jester—in his house, was said to have been Mr. Bartlett, of Castlemorton. Jack Havod, or Hafod, was the name of "the squire's fool," and his tricks and drolleries were remembered by the inhabitants of Castlemorton long after his death, and are related even in the present day. It is still a common saying there—"As big a fool as Jack Havod;" and it is also told of him that on one occasion he was assisting in storing peas in a barn, and there being insufficient room for the crop, Jack very coolly shovelled them out of a window into a pool of water underneath, saying, "We've got a vent for them now;" and to this day it is a proverb in the neighbourhood—"We've got a vent for them, as Jack Havod said."


The only doctor of medicine known to have resided in this parish for the last 200 years was John Aaron, Esq., of the Moat House, Cutnal Green, who died in 1767, aged 83.[Pg 291] He was descended from an ancient family of Little Drayton, near Shiffnal, Salop.—Dr. Wanley, of Elmley Lodge, who died in 1776, aged 69, was the only "D.D." that has held that rectory for the last two centuries.—Between the river Salwarpe and Bury-hill Estate, near Droitwich, is some meadow land belonging to the parish of Elmley Lovett. This land is more than two miles distant from the nearest boundary of the parish, and there runs some part of three other parishes between it, viz., Elmbridge, Hampton, and Salwarpe. The area of this land is about five acres, and is the property of Mr. Roberts, and rented by a gentleman at Droitwich, who pays the rates to Elmley Lovett.


By a statute as old as the time of Richard II, County Magistrates were allowed to make a charge of 4s. per day, and the Clerk of the Peace 2s., as wages for attending Quarter Sessions. That charge has been regularly made and allowed by the Sheriff up to the close of last year (1855), when the ancient statute was repealed by the passing of the Criminal Justice Act, 18th and 19th Victoria, chap. 126. In this county these wages were clubbed together as a dinner and wine fund for the magistrates, but the old practice is now discontinued, and the magistrates will henceforth be thrown upon their own resources. In the year 1810 a long and bitter controversy, at one time wearing a serious aspect, arose among the magistracy of this county, in consequence of Mr. Welch, the chairman, having been charged by Mr. Johnson, a fellow magistrate, with misappropriating a part of these "justice wages" that had been intrusted to him. The Bench acquitted Mr. Welch.

[Pg 292]


There is a common tradition at King's Norton that Queen Elizabeth came thither, and was entertained at an ancient house adjoining the churchyard, probably the residence of the Manorial Bailiff; but the name of the Queen has perhaps been mistaken for that of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, she, according to Dugdale's Diary (p. 52), having come to King's Norton from Walsall on July 10, 1643. The manor was part of the Queen's dower.


Names of the members for Worcestershire returned for Cromwell's second Parliament, July, 1654: Sir Robert Rouse, Knt. and Bart., Edward Pitt, Esq., Nicholas Lechmere, Esq., John Bridges, Esq., Talbot Badger, Esq., (Worcester City), William Collins, Esq. (ditto), Edward Elvines, Alderman (ditto). The names of the gentlemen returned to Parliament on September 17, 1656, are—Major-General James Berry, Colonel of Horse, and Major-General of the counties of Worcester, Hereford, and Salop, and also North Wales; Sir Thomas Rouse, Bart., Edward Pitt, of Kiere Park, Esq., Nicholas Lechmere, Esq. (Attorney of the Duchy of Lancaster), John Nanfan, Esq., Worcester City.—Edmund Giles, Esq., one of the Masters in Chancery, who married a relation of the Lord Protector; William Collins, Esq.


By an ordinance of the Parliament[10] made on the 31st of March, 1643, it was ordained that the estates of the two [Pg 293]Archbishops and twelve of the Bishops, including the Bishops of Worcester, Hereford, Gloucester, and Coventry and Lichfield, and of all persons ecclesiastical and temporal as had
raised arms or been in active war against the Parliament, or
had voluntarily contributed any money, horse, plate, arms, munition, or other aid or assistance, towards the maintenance of any forces against the Parliament, should be sequestered.

[10] This ordinance will be found in extenso in Scobell's Collection of Acts and Ordinances of Parliament (a work in the Worcester Law Library) p. 37.

The owners of these estates were allowed to pay a composition for the restoration of their property. A list of the compounders and the sum paid by each was printed in 1655 by Richard Dring. The following is a copy of the title page of this work:

"A Catalogue of the Lords, Knights, and Gentlemen, that have compounded for their estates. London: Printed for Thomas Dring, at the signe of the George in Fleet-street, neare Clifford's Inn. 1655."

[Extract so far as relates to Worcestershire.]

£. s. d.
Acton, George, Stilden, Worcest., Esq. 0120 00 00
Ablely, John, of Worcester, Yeoman 0010 16 00
Berkley, Sir Rowland, of Cotheridg, Com. Worcester 2030 00 00
Bromley, Henry, Holt Castle, Worc., Esq. 4000 00 00
Bushell, Anthony, Cleeve Prior, Worc. 0005 00 00
Barkley, Thomas, of Worc., Gent. 0423 13 04
Broad, Edm., of Stone, Worc., Gent. 0115 00 00
Bache, Tho., of Worc. Citty, Gent. 0002 10 00
Bayly, Thomas, of Evesham, Worc. 0003 06 08
Clare, Sir Ralph, Cawdwell, Worc. 0298 00 00
Churge, Burbage, of Worc., Gent. 0008 06 08
Child, Will., of Shrawley, Worc., Esq. 1844 18 08
Cupper, Henry, Woodcock, Worc., Gent. 0101 15 00[Pg 294]
Davis, Edward, Droitwich, Worc., Gent. 0190 00 00
Day, Philip, of Witchfield, Worc., Gent. 0015 00 00
Defell, Thos., Senior, Sturbridg, Worc. 0060 00 00
Evet, John, of Woodhall, Worc., Gent. 0225 00 00
Evans, William, of Worcester, Gent. 0359 00 00
Freeman, John, of Buckley, Worc., Gent. 0380 00 00
Fortescue, John, Cookhill, Esq. 0234 15 5
Hacket, Henry, Grymley, Worc., Gent. 0300 00 00
Herbert, Sir Hen., of Ribsford, Worc., Knt. 1330 00 00
Ingram, Henry, of St. Jones, Worc. 0021 00 00
Lawrance, Giles, Bengworth, Worc. 0016 13 04
Littleton, Sir Edward, p. Fisher Littleton, and Francis Nevell, Esq. 1347 06 08
Midlemore, Robert, Mosley, Worcester, Gent. 0400 00 00
Mucklow, Thomas, Arley, Worcester, Gent. 0045 00 00
Midlemore, George, of King's Norton, Com. Worcester, Esq. 0167 14 08
Mucklow, William, of Arley, Worcester, Gent. 0360 00 00
Moore, Francis, Seavern Stock, Worcester, Gent. 0121 00 00
Not, Sir Thomas, of Obden, Com. Worcester, Knight 0354 07 00
Norwood, Henry, Bishampton, Worcester 0015 00 00
Nanfan, Bridges, of Worcester, Gent. 0080 00 00
Packington, Sir John, of Alisbury, Buckingham, Baronet, with £190 per annum, as settled 5000 00 00
Pennel, Edward, Lineridge, Worcester, Gent. 0060 00 00
Pitts, Scudamore, St. John's, Worcester 0018 00 00
Russel, Sir William, of Strentham, Worcester, Baronet, with £50 per annum setled for £10 1800 00 00
Shelden, William, of Bromsgrave, Worcester 0096 00 00[Pg 295]
Shrimpton, Iohn, Norton, Worcester 0000 12 00
Sandis, Martin, Ombersly, Worcester, Gent. 0041 03 04
Stratford, Anthony, Bushly, Worcester, Gent. 0040 00 00
Shrimpton, Thomas, of Kingsham, Worc. 0000 16 00
Sands, Sir Martin, of St. Michael in Bedwardine, Worcester, with £50 per annum setled 0210 00 00
Seabright, Sir Edward, Besford, Worcester 1809 00 00
Talbot, Sherrington, Salwarp, Worcester 2011 00 00
Tyat, Daniel, of Worcester, Apothecary 0270 00 00
Tomkins, Nathaniel, Elmridge, Worcester 0208 16 08
Twitty, Thomas, of Claines, Worcester, Gent. 0002 10 00
Tyrer, John, of Ludley, Worcester, Gent. 0650 00 00
Twynning, John, of Fladbury, Worcester, Yeoman 0019 10 08
Vernon, Edward, of Hanbury, Worcester, Gent. 0400 00 00
Wilde, Robert, of Worc., Gent. 0576 00 00
Washburn, John, Wickenford, Worc., Gent. 0797 10 00
Winford, Sir John, of Astly, Worcst., Knight 0703 13 00
Wainwright, Robert, of Hol, Worcester 0001 00 00
Washington, Henry, of Worcester, Gent. 0015 00 00
Wainwright, Francis, Holt, Worcest., Yeoman 0012 00 00

To this payment Worcestershire does not appear to have been very heavily charged, as the entire list contains upwards of 3500 names, extending over the whole of England and Wales. The largest payment was that made by Baptist Noel Lord Cambden, which amounted to £9000, "with £150 per annum settled," which in the case of Sir Richard Tancred, Knt., is explained to be "settled on the Ministry." The smallest payment is that of Mr. John Shrimpton above-mentioned. It is stated in the "Pictorial History of England" [vol. iii, p. 525] that by these compositions[Pg 296] above £4,500,000 were raised in England, and £1,000,000 in Ireland.


About the year 1823 were born at Bromsgrove four female children at a birth, all of whom lived for many years. They were the children of Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, who had five other children, all single births. The writer of this note saw them when about three months old, when they were small for their age. He saw them again when they were about ten years old. They were then very pretty children, with dark hair and eyes. Three of them were very much alike, and exactly of the same height and size. The fourth resembled the others, but was about half a head shorter.


It is a remarkable fact, that from October 2nd, 1842, to October 23rd, 1848, during which period there were entered in the parish register of Suckley 106 baptisms, not one illegitimate birth took place; but this happy state of things did not continue, for in the next six years, ending October, 1854, with 89 entries, there were 5 illegitimate births. Thus, during the last twelve years, the latter have numbered scarcely 1 in 38 of the rising population of Suckley. The average throughout the kingdom is 1 in 16. It is rather a singular coincidence that the illegitimate births, and consequently the illegitimate portion of the community, bear the same proportion to the general population as the paupers do, viz., 1 in 16. This remark must, however, be somewhat modified, for although it cannot be classed amongst statistical facts, it is probable that there die a larger proportion of illegitimate than legitimate children.

[Pg 297]


A correspondent says that the Droitwich brine has for a considerable time been declining in strength; so much so, that constant complaints emanate from the working men that they have considerable difficulty in earning the ordinary wages of labourers; and the coal which is consumed in manufacturing a ton of salt is considerably more than was formerly required. By some of the practical men of the place this deterioration is attributed to the excessive consumption of the last few years, and to the immense quantity that has been wantonly pumped into the river and canal; but the correspondent suggests the probability of the pits being insecure, and in consequence the fresh water mingling with the brine, and thus reducing its natural strength. It has always been an error (according to his opinion) that shafts should be sunk down to the brine, as they enlarge the difficulty of keeping out the water considerably more than the old-fashioned small bore-holes.


The smallest parishes in Worcestershire are Oldberrow, Doverdale, Daylesford, Edvin Loach, Abberton, Bredicot, and Little Shelsley. The last named place contains the smallest population, being but 49 in 1851; Bredicot, 67; Abberton, 80 (although the worthy clerk alone mustered 19 children in his own family); Edvin Loach, 69; Daylesford, 66; Doverdale, 56 (here there are but five houses in the parish, besides the rectory and mill, and there is no recollection of any labourer's cottage being in existence); and Oldberrow, about 50 (here also is no labourer's cottage, and the only child in the parish is the rector's little boy;[Pg 298] the parson's surplice fees in eleven years amounted to one shilling only, and but one interment took place during that time).


The parish of Offenham is remarkable for some of the richest land and one of the poorest churches in the county of Worcester.


A paragraph recently appeared in the London publication, known as "Notes and Queries," as follows:

"'Good Queen Bess,' when she visited Worcester, borrowed £200 of the Corporation, which still stands as a 'bad debt' on the town books."

On the occasion of the Royal visit alluded to, a "fare cupp" was bought at London "for the presenting the gyfte to the Queen's Majestie, and xl. pounds in sov'raignes and angells of her own coign and stamp;" a crimson velvet purse, with £20 in it, was also presented to the Queen on her visit to the Cathedral. The total outlay by the city for entertaining her Majesty was £173. 8s. 4d., but the writer is not aware of any record of the Queen's having borrowed £200, or of such an item standing as a "bad debt" on the books, which he has closely examined from a date prior to the Queen's visit.


Traders' tokens were issued from the year 1648, towards the close of the reign of Charles I, until the year 1672, when they were cried down by proclamation of Charles II, and a new copper currency issued, the first we had in England, all previously being Royal tokens. During the Commonwealth[Pg 299] they were not very numerous, but after the Restoration, in 1660, to the year 1672, they are exceedingly abundant, and were issued in nearly every town and village in England. They were issued without authority, no doubt, as many of them state, for necessary change. In London alone nearly 4000 were issued, and the remainder of England are estimated at 15,000 more. In the year 1669 (when this kind of coinage was first checked) the citizens of Norwich had a pardon granted them for all transgressions, and in particular for their coinage of halfpence and farthings, by which they had forfeited their charter, all coinage being declared to be the King's prerogative; and in 1670 the Worcester Corporation petitioned his Majesty's pardon for "putting out farthings in this city." The following list of Worcestershire tokens, recently published by Mr. W. Boyne, in "Aris's Birmingham Gazette," I now reprint, with a few additions:

1. (Obverse) A WORCESTER FARTHING Arms of Worcester; a castle with a bird above it.
(Reverse) FOR NECESSARIE CHAING C. W. (City of Worcester) 1667 1/4d.
3. O. EDWARD BARON OF YE CITTY E.B. conjoined.
R. OF WORCESTER HIS HALF PENY Arms of Worcester; three pears 1/2d.
4. O. RICHARD BEDDOES OF YE Arms of Worcester. (16)59.
R. CITTY OF WORCESTER Mercers' Arms. R. B. 1/4d.
5. O. RICHARD BEDOES Arms of Worcester.
R. HIS HALFE PENNY Mercers' Arms. R. B. 1/2d.
6. A variety with the date 1664.
7. O. JOHN CHERRY HIS HALF Arms of Worcester.
R. PENY IN WORCESTER 1664 I. S. C. 1/2d.
8. O. WILL. CHETLE IN BROD STRT. IN Merchant's mark. W. S. C.
R. WORSTER CLO. HIS HALF PENY Arms of Worcester. 1/2d.
9. O. WILLIAM CHETTLE 1666 Merchant's mark. W. C.
R. OF WORCESTER, CLOTHIER Arms of Worcester 1/4d.[Pg 300]
R. THE CITTY OF WORCESTER Arms of Worcester 1/2d.
11. O. WILLIAM COLBATCH OF W. C. conjoined.
R. YE CITTY OF WORCESTER Arms of Worcester 1/4d.
12. WILL. FINCH 1/2d.
13. DITTO 1/4d.
14. THOS. FOWNE 1/4d.
15. THOS. HACKETT 1/2d.
16. JOHN HURDMAN 1/2d.
17. O. JOHN HILL DISTILLER Arms of Worcester.
18. O. THOMAS JONES 1669 A hat and glove; Feltmakers' Arms.
19. JOHN JONES 1/2d.
R. HIS HALFE PENNY 1667 Arms of Worcester 1/2d.
21. O. ARTHUR LLOYD IN Arms of Worcester.
22. O. WILL MOORE OF WORCESTER Arms of Worcester.
R. HIS HALFE PENNY 1668 Mercers' Arms. W. M. 1/2d.
24. O. FRAN. RICHARDSON OF YE CITTY Arms of Worcester
R. THE CITTIE OF WORCESTER Arms of Worcester 1/2d.
R. THE CITTY OF WORCESTER Arms of Worcester 1/2d.
28. A variety is without date, and the centre is brass, the other part copper 1/2d.
29. Another variety has the date 1663.
30. O. WILLIAM SWIFT OF YE W. S. conjoined.
R. CITTY OF WORCESTER Arms of Worcester 1/4d.
31. A variety is silvered, and has the initial S. joined to the last limb of W.; in the other it is joined to the first limb 1/4d.
32. O. JOHN TUBERVILLE Arms of Worcester
R. WORCESTER HIS HALF PENNY Mercers' Arms. I. T. 1/2d.[Pg 301]
There were 36 of these tokens coined at Worcester, Rd. Bedoes having issued three varieties besides those attached to his name above, and Wm. Colbatch another variety.
33. O. EDWARD PITTWAY AT THE A lion rampant.
34. O. THE WARDENS HALFE PENY OF BEWDLEY In four lines across the field.
R. 1668. An anchor between a sword and rose (Octagonal) 1/2d.
35. O. SAMUELL CART A lion passant.
R. IN BEAUDLY 1653 S.M.C. 1/4d.
36. O. THOMAS DEDICOT, GROCER, HIS HALF PENNY In five lines across the field.
R. BEWDLEY, CAPPER 1656 W.A.P. 1/4d.
R. OF BROADWAY 1670 M.A.B. 1/2d.
39. O. HENRY JEFFREYS Grocers' Arms.
40. O. SAMUEL ROGERS 1668 S.R.
R. APOTH. IN DROYTWICH Arms of Droitwich; quarterly 1st and 4th, checky, 2d and 3d, two barrows 1/2d.
R. OF DROITWICH 1667 Arms of the Town of Droitwich 1/2d.
44. O. WILL. BIGGS OF DUDLEY IN Mercers' Arms.
R. STAFFO*** W.M.B. 1/4d.[Pg 302]
R. IN WORCESTERSHIRE Ironmongers' Arms 1/2d.
(Dudley properly belongs to Worcestershire, though it is surrounded by Staffordshire. Singularly enough, the two tokens above give it to both counties.)
46. O. THE BURROW OF EVESHAM Arms of Evesham; a prince's coronet between two ostrich feathers, a garb in base, the whole within a border bezantée.
47. O. No inscription Arms of Evesham.
R. OF EVESHAM 1664 P. B. 1/2d.
49. O. RICHARD BENNETT Wheat sheaf.
R. IN EVESHAM A sugar loaf 1/2d.
R. IN EVESHAM 1656 W. A. B. 1/2d.
R. IN EVESHAM 1649 P. M. C. 1/4d.
There is another described as "PHILLIP CROSS," in all other respects the same; it may be an error of the die-sinker or describer. This is interesting from having the earliest date that is found on these tokens. No. 57 is also of the same early date.
R. IN ESHAM 1666 I. S. F. 1/2d.
55. O. JOHN LACEY A flower.
R. OF EVESHAM 1654 I. M. L. 1/4d.
56. O. MATHEW MICHELL Grocers' Arms.
R. OF EVESHAM 1653 M. M. M. 1/4d.
R. IN EVESHAM 1649 W. A. R. 1/4d.
58. O. AT THE RAVEN IN A raven.
R. KIDEMUNSTER, 1652 R. M. B. 1/4d.[Pg 303]
59. O. THOMAS BALAMEY IN Weavers' Arms.
60. O. FRANCES CARTER A pair of shears.
62. O. EDWARD CHAMBERLIN A man making candles.
63. O. WILLIAM MOUNTFORD A tankard. W. M.
(This is one of the few FARTHING tokens which has the value expressed on it.)
66. O. RICH. RADFORD, HIS HF. PENY Weavers' Arms.
R. OF KIDDERMINSTER 1666 Merchant Tailors' Arms 1/2d.
68. O. JOHN ROWDEN IN Nag's head.
R. KIDDERMINSTER 1656 I. A. R 1/4d.
70. O. THO. SADLER, HIS HALF PENY Chandlers' Arms.
R. IN KIDDERMINSTER 1664 T. A. S. 1/2d.
71. O. WALTER THATCHER A shuttle.
R. IN PERSHORE 1666 H. G. 1/2d.
73. O. GIDEON PALMER Mercers' Arms.
74. O. EDWARD PERKINS, HIS HALF PENY Apothecaries' Arms.
75. O. RICHARD COOPER OF A bee-hive.
76. O. HENRY COTTERELL IN 1666 Mercers' Arms.
77. O. ROBERT FITZHUGH Apothecaries' Arms.
78. O. EDWARD PITTWAY Ironmongers' Arms.
R. OF SHIPSTON E. P. 1/4d.
79. O. SIMON SIMONS Mercers' Arms.
80. O. A STOWERBRIDG. HALF PENY Ironmongers' Arms.
R. FOR NECESSARY CHANGE Clothworkers' Arms. 1/2d.
This is a town piece, the arms showing the principal trades carried on. There is a specimen in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries, having the reverse indented, doubtless caused by the previous struck token not having been removed from the die. It was bequeathed with many other Worcestershire Tokens to the Society by Dr. Prattinton.
81. O. JONATHAN BUTLER, MERCER Arms of Worcester City; three pears.
82. O. ANDREW MUCHALL, IRONMONGER, HIS HALF PENY In five lines across the field.
R. OF STOWERBRIDGE 1669 Ironmongers' Arms. 1/2d.
R. IN STOWER BRIDG 1665 E. M. P. 1/2d.
84. O. JOHN PRATT OF A bridge of four arches.
R. OF STOURBRIDGE 1656 1/4d.
R. OF STOURBRIDGE 1657 1/4d.
R. OULD SWINFORD 1669 Arms of Worcester; three pears 1/2d.
88. O. EDMOND LANE Arms; a chevron between three arrow-heads.
89. O. EDMOND LANE Arms as the last.
R. OF TENBURY E. L. 1/4d.[Pg 305]
R. IN TENBURY Mercers' Arms. 1/2d.
91. O. OLIVER ROUND St. George and the dragon.


This must have been formerly an important trade in our county and city. The city of Worcester, and the towns of Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Droitwich, and Evesham, were extensively engaged in it; and when many persons dwelling in other parts of the county had begun cloth making, much to the injury of these towns, an act was passed in the 25th year of Henry VIII, prohibiting all persons from making cloth, except such as resided in the above-mentioned places, but all persons were allowed to make cloths for their own wear, or for their children, servants, &c. At the present day only one loom is in existence in Bromsgrove, and in Worcester the trade has ceased for many years, although the Clothiers' Company still exists as a body for the administration of charitable funds.


The assumption of Miss Strickland that the mortuary cloth in the possession of the Clothiers' Company at Worcester was the pall used at the funeral of Queen Catherine, the first wife of King Henry VIII, who was buried in Peterborough Cathedral, has been, upon examination, refuted. At a recent meeting of the Archæological Institute at Cambridge, the Rev. C. H. Hartshorne read a paper on the funeral of Catherine of Arragon, and produced a document from the Rolls' Court which had never been consulted before, and[Pg 306] which gave a full account of the Queen's funeral. The rev. gentleman afterwards alluded to the life of Catherine of Arragon, by Miss Strickland, who says that the pall used on this occasion is now in the possession of the Clothworkers' Company at Worcester. Mr. Hartshorne then produced this pall, which he had been allowed to bring with him. It was spread out and examined, and it clearly appeared that it could not be that used at the Queen's funeral. It consisted of three or four old capes [copes?] put together, and it was utterly impossible to recognise it from the description given in the document produced from the Rolls' Court.


If the moon on a Saturday be new or full
There always was rain and there always will.

If it rain on Good Friday or Easter day,
It's a good year of grass but a sorry year of hay.

If Easter be early,
Or if it be late;
It's sure to make
The old cow quake.

The weather's always ill
When the wind's not still.

When the wind is in the East
It's neither good for man nor beast.

A storm of hail
Brings frost in its tail.

[Pg 307]

A May wet
Was never kind yet.

As the day lengthens
The cold strengthens.

A rainbow at night
Is the shepherd's delight.

When the reds are out at night
It's the shepherd's delight,
But when out in the morning
It's all the day storming.

At New Year's tide
A cock's stride:
By Twelfth-tide
Another beside.

When Bredon hill puts on his hat,
Ye men of the vale, beware of that.

(This alludes to the rain-cloud settling on the hill.)

A peck of March dust is worth a king's ransom.

When the new moon "lies on her back," as the saying is—that is with its concavity upwards, it is expected to be a dry time, "the rain being kept from running out," but, vice versa, it will be wet.

It is said that if the little beetle, the Carabus, should be trodden upon, rain will fall. This little glittering insect runs about only in fine weather.

[Pg 308]


The first writ for the levying of ship money was issued by King Charles I, addressed to the Lord Mayor and citizens of London. It is dated October 20th, in the 10th year of the reign of King Charles I [1634], and after reciting that "certain thieves, pirates, and robbers, of the sea, as well Turks, enemies of the Christian name, as others, being gathered together, taking by force and spoiling the ships and goods and merchandises not only of our subjects, but also of the subjects of our friends in the sea, which hath been accustomed anciently to be defended by the English nation, and the same at their pleasure have carried away, delivering the men in the same into miserable captivity." The writ commands the citizens of London to provide seven ships of war, varying in size from 900 to 300 tons, with 1,460 men, with ordnance, gunpowder, spears, and weapons, and other necessary arms for war; and directs that their ships shall be at Portsmouth on the 1st of March then next. In the year 1636, King Charles I, by the advice of his Privy Council, sent writs to the different counties for the raising of money to provide ships. This was called ship money; but although it was levied for the nominal purpose of providing ships, the counties, instead of providing any, paid the amount into the Royal Exchequer, and this was really a mere device to raise money without the authority of Parliament.

The county and city of Worcester were assessed as follows:

Tunnes. Men. Charge.
"Worcestershire, one ship 350 140 £3,500
Corporate Towns—
City of Worcester £233
Burrough of Evesham 74
Burrough of Bewdley 62
Burrough of Droitwich 62
Town or Burrough of Kidderminster 27"
[Pg 309]

On the 10th of November, 1639, King Charles I, by the advice of his Privy Council, caused other writs for ship money to be issued to the several counties of England; and by one of these writs the county of Worcester was assessed thus:

Ship. Men. Tons.
"Worcester 1 112 280"

But at this time thirty-five of the English counties and seven of the Welch counties were in arrears for their earlier ship money, as appears from a table of the arrears, in which there is the following entry as to Worcestershire:

Arrears. Arrears. Arrears.
An. 1636. An. 1637. An. 1638.
"Worcester £096 0 0 £1070 0 0 £710 0 0"

Ship money was declared to be illegal by the statute 16th Charles I, chap. 14, which was passed in the year 1640.

For this information we are indebted to John Rushworth, Esq., Secretary to the Lord General Fairfax, in whose collection it will be found (vol. ii, pp. 257, 335, 975, 978.)


Mr. Rushworth, Secretary to the Lord General Fairfax, in his Historical Collections, vol. ii, p. 71, under the date of July 6, 1630, says that "the King having sent writs to several sheriffs of the several counties for the summoning of all that had forty pound land or rent by the year to appear at the day of the Coronation and prepare themselves to receive the Order of Knighthood," did award a Commission to certain Lords and others of his Privy Council to treat and compound with all those who had made default. This was founded on the Statute De Militibus, a statute stated by the Record Commissioners to be of uncertain date, but which is usually printed[Pg 310] as of the first year of the reign of King Edward II. By the statute 16th of Charles I, chap. 20, compulsory Knighthood is abolished. The following is a list of Worcester gentlemen fined by King Charles I for not taking the order of Knighthood; it is extracted from the "Book of Compositions for not taking the Order of Knighthood at the Coronation of King Charles I. 1630-1632. Auditor of the Receipt[11]."

[11] This Manuscript was recently discovered by Mr. Black in the Rolls House Record Office.

"Wigorn. p. 196.

Sir William Sandy, Knight, Collector.

£. s. d.
Walter Blunt, of Sillington, Esquire 15 0 0
John Barnabie, of Bockleton, Esquire 12 10 0
Mathias Maysey, of Hakenhurt, Esquire 11 13 4
John Nash, of Markeley, Gent. 10 0 0
John Winford, of Astley, Esquire 12 10 0
Hunfrey Packington, of Chadsley Corbet, Esquire 31 5 0
Humfrey Parrott, of Bellhall, Gent. 12 10 0
Roger Lowe, of Bromsgrove, Gent. 10 0 0
Robt. Gower, of King's Norton, Esquire 12 10 0
John Crabbe, of Bromsgrove, Gent. 10 0 0
Walter Brace, of Bromsgrove, Gent. 10 0 0
William Chambers, of Northfield, Gent. 10 0 0
Ffoulke, Bourne, of Elmbridge, Gent. 12 0 0
Thomas Ffawnes, of Bromsgrove, Gent. 10 0 0
John Bourne, of Ombersley, Gent. 12 10 0
John Horniold, of Hanley Castle, Esquire 27 10 0
Thomas Moore, of Suckley, Gent. 12 0 0
Edward Dingley, of Sherifelench, Esq. 10 0 0
Roger Dowleswell, of Rushley, Gent. 10 0 0
William Wheeler, of Wicke iuxta Parshore, Gent. 10 0 0
Edward Turvey, of Walcott, Gent. 15 0 0
Armell Greene, of Vpton Snodsburie[Pg 311] 10 0 0
Francys Haselwood, of Wick iuxta Parshore, Esq. 12 10 0
John Bridges, of Estington, Esquire 25 0 0
Thomas Copley, of Norton iuxta Bredon, Esquire 12 10 0
John Clent, of Wicke Epi, Gent. 10 0 0
Henry Bromley, of Vpton sup. Sabrina, Esquire 10 0 0
Thomas Nashe, of Claines, Gent. 10 0 0
Thomas Hornihold, of Breedon, Esquire 12 10 0
Thomas Saunders, of Moore, Gent. 10 0 0
Thomas Coxe, of Crowle, Esquire 17 10 0
John Jones, of Crowle, Gent. 10 0 0
Giles, Blount, of Wicke Epi 11 5 0
Philip Bearcroft, of Hanburie, Gent. 12 10 0
John Russell, of Malverne Pva, Esquire 12 0 0
George Lench, of Inkeberrow, Esquire 11 13 4
Samuel Atwood, of Wooverley, Esquire 10 0 0
Raphaell Hunt, of Hanbury, Gent. 12 10 0
Thomas Hunt, of Inkeberrow, Gent. 10 0 0
Robt. Wyld, of the Commanders, Gent. 10 0 0
John Holberrow, of Wooverley, Gent. 10 0 0
Nicholas Langstone, and Will. Langstone, his sonne and heire 15 0 0
541li. 16s. 8d. vnde solut.
200 25o Oct., 1630.
200 27o Oct., 1630.
141 16 8 4to Martij, 1630.[12]

[12] As the year then began on the 25th of March, the 4th of March, 1630, is the latest date.

Richard Skinner, of Coston Hacket, Esquire 25 0 0
Thomas Good, of Redmarley Dabitot, Esquire 30 0 0
William Child, of Shrawley, Esquire 25 0 0
John Wrenford, of Longden, Gent. 11 0 0
William Cave, of Lighe, Gent.[Pg 312] 10 0 0
Thomas Trinnell of Salwarp, Gent. 12 0 0
William Ingram, of St. Johnes in Bedwardine, Esq. 32 0 0
William Child, Senior, of Blockeley, Esquire 33 0 0
William Barnes, of Treddinton, Esq. 16 0 0
Henry Townesend, of Elmley Lovett, Esquire 14 0 0
John Cowcher, of Redmarley Dabitot, Esquire 14 0 0
William Parsons, of Longdon, Gent. 10 0 0
Edmund Giles, of White Ladie Aston, Gent. 10 0 0
John Norris, of Chadsley Corbett, Gent. 10 0 0
Thomas Barraston, of the Rocke, Gent. 10 0 0
Thomas Parker, of Longdon, Gent. 10 0 0
John Ffreman, of Busheley, Gent. 15 0 0
Richard Ffrench, of Salawarp, Gent. 10 0 0
Geo. Morinle, of Lighe, Gent. 16 0 0
Gibt. Wheeler, of Droytwich, Gent. 16 0 0
William Amphlett, of Hadzor, Gent. 12 0 0
Tho. Gower, of Droytwich, Gent. 20 0 0
John Woodhouse, of Salwarp, Gent. 10 0 0
John Wheeler, of Droytwich, Gent. 10 0 0
James Naeshe, de ead, Gen. 18 0 0
Tho. Symonds, of Whitelady Aston 13 6 8
William Hill, of Castell Morton, Gen. 10 0 0
John Hill, de ead, Gen. 10 0 0
Richard Arden, of Martley, Gen. 16 0 0
Arthur Bagshawe, of Inkeberrowe, Gen. 15 0 0
Wm. Stevens, of Broadway, Gen. 10 0 0
John Wheeler, of Whichbole, Gen. 13 6 8
Nicholas Lilley, of Bromesgrove, Gen. 9 6 8
John Giles, of Astley, Gen. 10 0 0
Tho. Wild, of Dodderhill, Gen. 10 0 0
Wm. Stevens, Jun., of Brodway, Gen. 10 0 0[Pg 313]
Henry Garrett, de ead, Gen. 10 0 0
Francis Rosse, of Great Malverne, Gent. 12 0 0
Jo. Hobdins, als Ffeckenham, Gen. 10 0 0
Tho. Burie, of Abbotsley, Gen. 10 0 0
Wm. Hackett, of Vpton sup. Sabrina, Gen. 10 0 0
Henrie Sheylard, de Hanburie, Gen. 10 0 0
Henry Coller, de ead, Gen. 12 0 0
John Perkes, of Wickbole, Gen. 10 0 0
Edward Barret, of Draitwch, Gen. 22 0 0
Tho. Chaunce, of Hadzor, Gen. 10 0 0
Edward Hall, of Hollowe, Esquire 12 0 0
Rich. Baughe, of Tibbton, Gen. 12 0 0
John Cookes, of Bentley, Gen. 10 0 0
John Ballard, of St. John's in Bedwardine, Gen. 12 0 0
Robt. Boulton, of Ffeckenham, Gent. 10 0 0
Daniel Rawlingson, of Vpton sup. Sabrina, Gen. 10 0 0
Robt. Wheeler, of Offenham, Gen. 13 6 8
Wm. Wichelowe, of Ardeley, Esquire 14 0 0
Wm. Ffeild, of King's Norton, Gen. 20 0 0
John Westwood, of Bromesgrove, Gen. 12 0 0
Jo. Chambleine, of Astley, Gen. 10 0 0
John Coxe, of Claines, Gent. 16 0 0
Richard Moore, of Seauerne Stooke, Esquire 15 0 0
Robt. Yates, of Yardley, Gen. 12 0 0
John Knotsford, of Holfast, Gen. 10 0 0
Thomas Powck, of the Rocke, Gent. 10 0 0
John Halford, of Armescott, Gen. 13 6 8
Geo. Ffrench, of Parshore, Gen. 12 0 0
Tho. Lunde, of Breedon, Gen. 10 0 0
Anthony Palmer, of Combtin Magna, Gen. 10 0 0
Phillip Parsons, of Oldburie, Gen. 15 0 0
John Horner, of Martley, Gen. 13 6 8[Pg 314]
James Hill, of Vpton sup. Sabrina, Gen. 10 0 0
Tho. Woodward, of Ripple, Esquire 30 0 0
John Marston, of Yardeley, Gen. 12 0 0
Richard Acocke, de ead. Gen. 12 0 0
Richard Rotten, of Kingsnorton, Gen. 10 0 0
John Rosser, de ead. Gen. 13 6 0
George Middlesmore, de ead. Esquire 18 0 0
Thomas Cooke, of Longdon, Gent. 15 0 0
Nicholas Ffletcher, of Paxford, Gent. 14 0 0
Thomas Horton, of Staunton, Esquire 30 0 0
John Hanburie, of Ffeckenham, Gen. 10 0 0
Thomas Hayward, of Eldersfield, Gent. 10 0 0
Richard Terrett, of Chadsley, Gent. 15 0 0
George Palmer, of Suckley, Gent. 10 0 0
Geo. Darley, of Ffladburie, Gent. 10 0 0
Jo. Callow, of Bishampton, Gent. 10 0 0
Edward Booth, of Pershore, Gent. 14 0 0
Wm. Walle, of the Rocke, Gent. 10 0 0
Humfrey Salwaie, of Stanford, Gent. 25 0 0
Wm. Dingley, of Strensham, Gent. 11 0 0
Thomas Rushell, of Rushocke, Gent. 15 0 0
Humfrey Hill, of Stone, Gent. 13 6 8
Civitas Wigorn.
John Coucher, Esquire 12 0 0
John Hassellocke, Esquire 12 0 0
John Tomkins, Esquire 10 0 0
John Ffrogner, Gent. 15 0 0
Edward Hardman, Esquire 12 0 0
Wm. Wyatt, Esquire 10 0 0
Thomas Huntbach, Gent. 12 0 0
Thomas Writer, Gent. 10 0 0[Pg 315]
Edward Sowley, Gent. 10 0 0
John Hanburie, Gent. 10 0 0
Hughe Greenes, Gent. 10 0 0
Daniel Tyas, Gent. 10 0 0
John Smith, Gent. 10 0 0
John Collins, Gent. 10 0 0
Robt. Mason, Gent. 10 0 0
Edward Ffleete, Gent. 13 6 8
Christopher Woodward, Gent. 10 0 0
John Breinton, Gent. 10 0 0
Wigorn, 14to Maij, 1631o.
William Barkeley, of Cotheridge, Esquire 40 0 0
John Washborne, of Wichenford, Esq. 35 0 0
John Liddiat, of Wollason, Gent. 18 0 0
William Ffreman, of Blockley, Gent. 10 0 0
Edward Cookes, of Shiltwood, Esquire 40 0 0
Edward Ffreeman, of Emlode, Gent. 15 0 0
Thomas Andrewes, of Bathenhall, Esquire 15 0 0
Thomas Acton, of Bockleton, Esquire 20 0 0
William Walshe, of Redmarley, Esquire 40 0 0
Wigorn, 1o Augusti, 1631o.
Robt. Acton, of Ribsford, Gent. 15 0 0
Wm. Middlemore, of Hawkesley, Esquire 14 0 0
Wm. Mason, of Birlingham, Gent. 12 0 0
Edward Baugh, of Pensham, Gent. 12 0 0
Edmond Bearecroft, of Inkeberrow, Gent. 10 0 0
John Kightley, of Littleton, Gent. 10 0 0
Tho. Bloxham, of Ouffenham, Gent. 12 0 0
Tho. Ffletcher, of Paxford, Gent. 10 0 0
John Ffincher, of Inkeberrowe, Gent. 10 0 0[Pg 316]
John Smith, of Ffranckeley, Gent. 10 0 0
John Manne, of Ridmley, Gent. 13 6 8
Ralph Pearsall, of Alchurch, Gent. 10 0 0
Fflourris Cowper, of Ridmley, Gent. 10 0 0
Thomas Purton, of Ridmley, Gent. 10 0 0
Tho. Browne, of Eldersfeild, Gent. 12 0 0
Ffrancis Huband, of Rouslench, Gent. 12 0 0
Jo. Atwood, of Staunton, Gent. 12 0 0
Jo. White, of Dorne, Gent. 12 0 0
Tho. Widdones, of Aston Magna, Gent. 12 0 0
Tho. Doughtie, of Suckeley, Gent. 11 0 0
Wm. Webley, Jun., of Aufricke, Gent. 11 0 0
Richard Darke, of Alston, Gent. 12 0 0
Ffrancis Palm, of Bricklehampton, Gent. 12 0 0
Thomas Smith, of Badsey, Gent. 10 0 0
Thomas Hames, of Inkeberrow, Gent. 12 0 0
Wm. Johnsons, of Aufricke, Gent. 12 0 0
Tho. Bushell, of Prior's Cleeve, Gent. 13 6 8
Thomas Greene, of King's Norton, Gent. 11 0 0
Richard Burnford, of Bromsgrove, Gent. 12 0 0
Simon Rowney, of Darlingscote, Gent. 10 0 0
Tho. Cheatle, of the Cittye of Worcester, Gent. 20 0 0
Edw. Neast, of Chaseley, Gent. 18 0 0
Simon Batch, of Suckeley, Gent. 10 0 0
Paul Romney, of Suckley, Gent. 12 0 0
William Martin, of Hampton, Gent. 10 0 0
Edward Anslowe, of the Citty of Worcester, Gent. 14 0 0
Ffrancis Dison, of Bradeley, Gent. 10 0 0
26to Martij, 1632.
Ralphe Poole, of Beoley, Gent. 10 0 0
Humfrey Grissall, of Yardeley, Gent. 10 0 0[Pg 317]
William Sambadge, of Broadwaie, Esquire 14 0 0
Thomas Greenes, of Moseley, Gent. 10 0 0

vnde solut.

£. s. d.
25 0 0 10o Maij, 1631.
300 0 0 eod die.
100 0 0 xjo Maij, 1631.
400 0 0 xiijo Maij, 1631.
175 0 0 xxiijio Maij, 1631.
400 0 0 xxviijo Maij, 1631.
132 0 0 23tio Julij, 1631.
450 0 0 2do Nov., 1631.
80 0 0 22do Dec., 1631.
121 0 0 14 Junij, 1632.


The onslaught made on dogs found in the streets of Worcester, when the cholera was expected three or four years ago, suggests an extract from history bearing on the point. In the Droitwich records, the bailiff's accounts for the year 1637, a time of great pestilence, contain the following among other entries:

s. d.
"To Wm. Watkins for burienge of doggs and katts in the sicknesse time 5 0
To Wm. Harris for mendinge his gunn to kill doggs Aug. 26. 0 18
To Ed. Turke for killing two katts 0 4"

In the parochial records of the city of Westminster for the year 1603 mention is made of one person having "massacred the amazing number of 500 dogs;" and in 1605, 83[Pg 318] others. Thus it seemed the practice of making a hecatomb of dogs and cats on these sad occasions. Can any one explain the reason of this? Was it that these animals were deemed to be peculiarly obnoxious to the pestilence, and that it was contagious? Similar practices prevailed in ancient times: we read in the "Iliad"—

"On mules and dogs the infection first began;
At last the vengeful arrows fix'd on man—
For nine long days throughout the dusky air,
The pyres, thick flaming, shot a dismal glare."


The following notes contain a few historical facts, either not fully related, or omitted altogether in the local histories, relative to the progresses of Charles I and his son through this county during the Civil Wars:

The unhappy contest between King Charles and his people first brought that Sovereign into Worcestershire in the year 1644, when he fled from Essex and Waller at Oxford. The city of Worcester presented his Majesty with £200 and the Princes Rupert and Maurice £100 each, the purse for his majesty costing 8d. (as recorded in the Corporation books), and those for the Princes 4d. each. An order had been issued to raise £1000 (equal to £15,000 of the present time) in less than two days, and the above sums were probably all that could be extracted out of the half-ruined inhabitants at that time. His Majesty retreating with his army to Bewdley, two guides for the royal carriage were engaged at a cost of 4s. 6d., and six axletrees (articles frequently requiring renewal in those days of un-M'Adam-ized roads) were charged 4s. At Bewdley, Charles wrote a letter from Tickenhill Palace to Prince Rupert, urging him to relieve York. This led to the battle of Marston Moor. The letter is given in the appendix to[Pg 319] Guizot's History of the English Revolution. About the same time a Royal missive was addressed to the Corporation and inhabitants of Droitwich, thanking them for the assistance they had sent into Worcester when Waller assaulted it. While at Bewdley also the King dispatched a party of horse to relieve Dudley Castle, which was then besieged by the Earl of Denbigh, but they were defeated with considerable loss. Waller having now outflanked the King, his Majesty returned suddenly to Worcester, and hastened through Evesham to join the remainder of his forces at Oxford. At Evesham, he took the Mayor and certain Aldermen prisoners and carried them to Oxford; but the Royalists were closely pursued by the forces of the Parliament under Waller, and were obliged to break down the bridges behind them to make good their retreat. The Royalists also burned down many houses in the suburbs of Worcester, the better to secure the city. Between Evesham and Oxford are several memorials of his Majesty's misfortunes. In a bed-room at the White Hart inn, at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, appears the following:

"When friends were few, and dangers near,
King Charles found rest and safety here.
slept at this inn on his way to Evesham,
Tuesday, July 2, 1644."

In August, 1644, offers were made to the Parliament by divers gentlemen of Worcestershire to raise forces for their service, and an ordinance was passed for that purpose. At the beginning of 1645 the King appointed Prince Maurice, his nephew and son of the Elector Palatine of the Rhine, "General of Worcester, Hereford, and Shropshire." It is apparent, from other records besides those of the corporation, that his brother, Prince Rupert, was also, at short intervals of inaction in the field, present at Worcester, and there is sufficient[Pg 320] evidence to show that these arrogant, fiery, and remorseless soldiers of fortune bled the city more copiously than Dr. Sangrado did his patients. Here is an extract from a warrant of Prince Rupert's, which will exhibit his peremptory tone and fierce character, and afford some idea of the horrors of civil war. It commands labourers and provisions to be sent to him "upon your utmost peril, as the total burning and plundering of your houses, with what other mischief the licensed and hungry soldiers can inflict upon you." Early in 1645, the "clubmen," as they were called, appeared in large bodies in Worcestershire, assumed a defensive attitude, and refused to serve the King according to his proclamation. These clubmen first arose in the west of England, where for a time their efforts were principally directed to the checking of the cruelties and licentious outrages of Goring, the Royalist commander, and his desperate bands. Gradually gentlemen of rank and substance joined the yeomen and peasantry, and gave a new direction to the association. The original motive of the "clubmen" was sufficiently explained in the motto on one of their ensigns or standards—

"If ye offer to plunder or take our cattle,
Be you assured we'll give you battle."

The Worcestershire clubmen first mustered to the number of about two thousand, and put forth a declaration of their intentions against the Popish party and to preserve the King's rights and the privileges of Parliament. They rapidly increased in force; Prince Rupert strove to pacify them, but in vain; the constables refused to bring in a list of the names of those who thus assembled. By the middle of March their number had increased to fourteen thousand well armed men, and they applied to Colonel Massey, then in command at Gloucester, for assistance to enable them to besiege Hereford.[Pg 321] Massey replied that if they would fully declare for the Parliament he would join with them. They requested two or three days for consideration, but their answer is not recorded that I am aware of. It is probable, however, that they did declare, either at this period or a little later, for the Parliament.

On Sunday, the 11th of May, 1645, the King and his forces were at Inkberrow, at the vicarage of which place I have seen an old book of maps, said to have been left behind him by the King when he slept there. The title page is as follows:

"The Kingdome of England and Principality of Wales, exactly described with every sheere and the small townes in every one of them, on six mappes portable for every man's pocket; useful for all commanders for quarteringe of souldiers, and all sorts of persons that would be informed where the armies be—never so commodiously drawne before this 1644. Described by one that travailed throughout the whole Kingdome for its purpose."

Thorn farmhouse, at Inkberrow, also claims the honour of having sheltered the royal head; and there is a farmhouse at Cookhill, in the same parish, in which a portrait of the King remained hidden behind a sliding panel (probably ever since the days of the Commonwealth), and would not have been discovered to the present time but for the decay of a peg on which it was hung, occasioning it to fall with a great noise in the night time some years ago. So large a number of old houses in this county are said to have been temporary resting places for the King or his fugitive son that it is probable one half of these traditions cannot be correct. The King marched from Inkberrow to Droitwich, where he stayed from Sunday till Wednesday, and then went to the siege of Hawkesley House, which was at once surrendered, and set on fire. That night the King lay at Cofton Hall, near Bromsgrove, occupied by Mr. Thomas[Pg 322] Jolliffe, who was faithful to his Sovereign to the last, and attended his execution. There is a tradition that when the King was in prison he gave a key to Mr. Jolliffe, to visit him when he pleased; and in Dr. Nash's time there was a picture in the house, representing that gentleman, with a key in his hand, his pistols and sword hanging on a pillar before him. After leaving Cofton Hall the King marched to Himley, then inhabited by Lord Ward.

In June, 1645, was fought the famous battle of Naseby, which crushed the Royal cause. Soon afterwards, the Scotch army was ordered to march from Nottingham to Worcester; and in July, Canon Froome, in Herefordshire, then a garrison of the King's, was taken by the Scotch army with little loss, and Col. Harley, progenitor of the famous Tory minister of Queen Anne and of the Earls of Oxford and Mortimer, was appointed governor of the place. Whether the property at Canon Froome then belonged, as it does now, to a member of the ancient family of Hopton, I have not the means of ascertaining, but it is recorded in the memorials of Whitelock that about this time a Mr. Hopton, with a small band of followers, fell in with, and, after a gallant conflict, destroyed a party of the Royalists in the vicinity of Ledbury.

In August, 1645, the King came with his army from Shipston-on-Stour to Worcester, where they rested several days, the guards lying at Claines. The Worcester Corporation accounts of this period contain numerous items of expense incurred by "the Scots' king," as his Majesty was then somewhat contemptuously termed; and the chamberlains also "pray to be allowed for butter potts and napkins, bottles, &c., sent to the Denary (his Majesty's quarters) and there lost."

Charles again passed through Bewdley, where a skirmish took place with his pursuers, and sixty Royalists were taken[Pg 323] prisoners. It is said that he slept for two nights at the Angel Inn, in that town, and that the inhabitants granted the sum of half-a-crown for his entertainment, but there is probably some mistake either in the amount or in the alleged object to which it was applied. Tickenhill Palace was so much damaged during these wars that it was taken down soon afterwards. From Bewdley the King went to Bromyard, and at length the hunted monarch found shelter in the princely halls of Ragland with the Marquis of Worcester. It is recorded that in November of this year divers persons of Worcestershire, under Mr. Dingley—he was an officer who had served in the Low Countries—declared for the Parliament and complained of the "insolence and injuries" of the garrison of Worcester. Probably the clubmen now gave in their adhesion to the only party which was able to protect them, and against which resistance would have been unavailing, for the fortunes of King Charles were rapidly sinking to the lowest ebb. In proof of these "insolences and injuries" a copy of a warrant from Col. Bard (probably Baird), the governor, to the constables who were accustomed to collect the contributions, was laid before the Parliament. It was drawn after the most approved Rupert style:—

"Know that unless you bring into me (at a day and house in Worcester) the monthly contribution for six months, you are to expect an unsanctified troop of horse among you, from whom, if you hide yourselves, they shall fire your houses without mercy, hang up your bodies wherever they find them, and scare your ghosts, &c."

This probably led to the organisation of the Worcestershire Committee of defence and safety, of which mention first occurs immediately after the declaration of Mr. Dingley and others and the representation made by them to the Parliament. Early in December, 1645, Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice set out from Worcester with 160 horse in the direction[Pg 324] of Oxford. They were obstructed on their march by a party of the "clubmen" under Sir Edward Dingley, the then head of this old Worcestershire family. But these raw levies were no match for the trained cavaliers and their ardent leaders. The Princes and their troop cut their way through Dingley's yeomen, killing and wounding several of them, and so got safely to Oxford.

The unfortunate upholder of "divine right in kings" passed to his account in January, 1649. In 1651, Charles II escaped with his forces out of Scotland, and marching through the northern and midland counties, entered Worcester on the 23rd of August. Major-Generals Lambert and Harrison had despatched some forces to secure the place, lest the King should make it a quarter or garrison. These and the country levies made a brave resistance and beat back the Royalists several times, but the townsmen having laid down their arms, and some of them shooting at the Parliament soldiers out of the windows, they removed their ammunition, while a party of only thirty men kept the enemy at bay. They then retired in good order upon Gloucester, the King's troops being too much fatigued by their long marches from the north to pursue them. Charles was proclaimed King in this city. The result of the disastrous battle of Worcester has been already described by various historians. William Bagnall, then living in Sidbury, being one of the "Chamber," or Corporation, turned out a horse, ready bridled and saddled, for the use of his Majesty, when the latter was so near being captured. Mr. Bagnall died in a year afterwards, but the family would never afterwards receive any consideration for the horse or saddle. In Chambers's "Biographical Illustrations" it is stated that "Sir Charles Wogan is said to have been robbed of the honour of saving King Charles II after the battle of Worcester, as he stopped those who were in[Pg 325] chase of his Majesty and Colonel Carless." At Wolverley, in the dell upon the brink of which Lea Castle stands, is still shown the spot over which the King crossed on his way to Kinfare and Boscobel.

On the Bromyard road, some three miles and a half from the city of Worcester (says a writer in the publication called "Notes and Queries"), is Cotheridge Court, the manorial residence of the Berkeleys. The Mr. Berkeley who held it at the date of the battle of Worcester was a stout Royalist, and went to help the fallen fortunes of his King. It so chanced that he had two piebald horses, who were exactly like each other, "specially Sambo," as the niggers say. He made one of these horses his charger, and rode him to the fight. When Cromwell had gained his "crowning merits," Mr. Berkeley escaped to Cotheridge as best he might; and planning a very skilful ruse, left his exhausted charger at one of the farmhouses not far from the court. He then betook himself to bed, and, as he had foreseen, a troop of crop-headed Parliamentarists now made their appearance before his doors and sought admittance. Mr. Berkeley was ill in bed, and could not be seen. Fudge! they must see him. So they go to his bed-side. "So you were fighting against us at Worcester to-day, were you?" say the crop-heads. "Me!" says Mr. Berkeley, faintly and innocently; "why, I am sick, and forced to keep my bed." "All very fine," say the crop-heads, "but you were there, my dear sir, for you rode a piebald charger, and were very conspicuous." "It could not have been me," says the sick man, "for though I certainly do ride a piebald charger when I am in health, yet he has never been out of the stable all day. If you doubt my word, you had better go to the stable and satisfy yourselves." So the crop-heads go to the stable, and there, of course, find piebald No. 2, as fresh as a daisy, and evidently not from Worcester.[Pg 326] So they conclude that they had mistaken their man, and leave the sick Mr. Berkeley to get well and laugh at the ruse he had so successfully played upon them.

After his flight from Worcester and concealment at White Ladies, the King appeared as "Will Jones," attired in a leather doublet, with pewter buttons, a pair of old green breeches, a green "jump coat," a pair of stockings with the tops cut off, a pair of stirrup stockings, a pair of shoes cut and slashed to give ease to his feet, an old grey greasy hat without a lining, a "noggen shirt" of the coarsest linen, his hands and face made of a "reechy complexion" with the aid of walnut leaves. He attempted to reach Wales, but got no further than Madeley, being obliged to return, as there were no means of crossing the Severn, without danger. He returned to his shelter in Staffordshire, and quitted his suit for a new grey one, as the holiday attire of a farmer's son, and thus as "Will Jackson" he rode before Mrs. Jane Lane, and ultimately effected his escape.

In Martley church is still, I believe, an inscription to Lettice Lane, sister to the above Mrs. Jane Lane, who rode with Charles II, disguised as her servant, on his retreat to the south-west coast. On the floor of the old church of Knightwick (recently closed) was also a plain stone to Grace Lane, another of the same family. It is said that his Majesty halted at Knightwick, and was glad to turn shoeblack at the Talbot inn, to avoid the suspicion of pursuers. Colonel Lane, of Bentley, Staffordshire, had property at Knightwick, and the young lady, with her royal master, probably rested here on that account. The gold pouncet box given by the King to Mrs. Jane Lane during their journey from Bentley to Bristol, after the battle of Worcester, and a beautiful portrait (a miniature) of Colonel Lane, were exhibited by Miss Yonge, at the Archæological Institute Meeting at Shrewsbury, October,[Pg 327] 1855. On the former are engraved, on a lozenge, the arms of the Lane family, with the canton of England granted as an honourable augmentation. These interesting relics were in the possession of Dr. Arden, who married a lady of the Lane family, and they were presented by Miss Arden to their present possessor. In "Colston's Life and Times" is the following interesting allusion to the progress of the royal fugitive:—"At the close of the year, the vessel which conveyed the body of the Lord-Deputy Ireton, who had died of the plague, at Limerick, came into King Road, 'notice of which having been forwarded to the Mayor of Bristol, he sent a boat, covered with black, in which the corpse was brought to the city. When the body was landed, a velvet pall was placed over the coffin, and the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council, in their formalities, and the Governor and his officers, with a multitude of citizens, attended the body. On this occasion the great guns were fired from the castle and fort.' Nearly coincident with the above, a horseman, with apparently his mistress seated behind him, on a pillion, entered Bristol at Lawford's Gate. He was unknown, unnoticed; but between him, and the ashes that with gloomy solemnity were paraded, there was a connecting link—connecting yet repulsive. They were the ashes of a fallen foe, the mortal remains of an enemy—of one who had sentenced to a traitor's doom the august sire of the menial who now journeyed through a city, whose allegiance to him and his cause had been severed, where there awaited a thousand arms to deliver him to captivity, perhaps to death. The place is evidently familiar to the rider. He made no inquiries, but conducted his horse unheeded through the streets. He arrives in view of the lofty bulwarks of the castle, its towers and gigantic keep. Their sight may have called forth latent memories, for here the horse was stayed, turned aside,[Pg 328] as though the travellers would take a passing survey of the stately pile; but this was all; they halted not to rest at inn or hostelry, nor dismounted to refresh the steed, but quietly and leisurely continued their course, through a narrow gloomy street, over the bridge, and thus in safety passed from out the ancient town, unsuspected, unchallenged, and unknown. How strange are life's vicissitudes, its contrasts! A king, disguised—passing obscurely through a half hostile city! The mortal remains of the son-in-law of the usurper of his kingdom received with military honours and Royal etiquette. In one quarter, pomp and state following the ashes, as would befit a monarch's obsequies; in another, a deserted crownless sovereign, in lowly garb, eludes the pursuit of his enemy, and passes in safety to a less doubtful shelter from the city, of which he was the lawful lord. In after years, all this quaint and gorgeous pomp will be displayed to welcome this fugitive, and he will be escorted triumphantly through its lately hostile bosom."

In reference to the Civil Wars in this county, the following extracts from Dugdale's Diary will be found to possess some interest:

"March 22, 1644. This night, —— brother to Fox ye tinker (wch. keeps a garrison of rebells in Edgbaston House, com. Warr.) entred Sturton Castle, com. Stafford, with 200 men from —— to plant a garrison there.

"May 3 [1644].—Sr. Tho. Littleton, of Frankley, com. Wigorn, taken prisoner by a p'ty of horse (sent by Fox, the tinker from Edgbaston) to Ticknall Mannor near Beaudley."

John Fox "the Tinker," as he is here and before called, and "that rogue Fox" as the Royalists sometimes term him, appears to have been a very active officer, and no small annoyance to his adversaries. Amongst the papers of the[Pg 329] republican Earl of Denbigh, who was commander in chief of the forces in the counties of Warwick, Worcester, Stafford, and Salop, is a memorandum, made about March, 1643-4, of a commission granted to John Fox to be colonel of a regiment to consist of six troops of horse and two companies of dragoons, and a commission to Reynold Fox to be his major. The same collection (which is arranged in two large folio volumes) contains several letters from Fox, during his occupation of Edgbaston House, where nothing but the enthusiasm of party could have kept his ill-clothed and ill-paid soldiers together. Indeed, at one time, he confesses that he durst not leave them to wait upon his Lordship, "for feare of mutunyes and a general departure." Fox signs in an illiterate manner, and his letters are always in the writing of another hand, probably that of a German, as he mentions "Hampton, Brewood, and the Dorpes [villages] thereabouts." By referring to October 5, following, it will be found that the united forces from Worcester and Dudley Castle were not able to unkennel him in his little garrison at Edgbaston, but "returned without doing anything;" or—as Fox would probably have said—were repulsed with loss. Odious enough in the eyes of the Cavaliers, for his successful opposition, he was surcharged with being one of King Charles's executioners: "Some have a conceit that he that gave the stroke was one Collonell Foxe, and the other Captain Joyce, who took the King from Holmby, but that is not believed."—Journal of the Earl of Leicester, in Sydney Papers, by Blencowe, p. 61.

"October 5.—Forces went out of Worcester and joyned with others from Dudley Castle to recover Edgbaston House from ye Rebells. Returned without doing anything."


[Pg 330]

[Pg 331]




(Established upwards of a Century)


In enumerating the following list of articles, I shall not adopt the system most general of quoting prices, which are only calculated to delude, but respectfully solicit a trial, at the fair remunerating prices charged for them. Quality is the first consideration—Economy with regard to price the second.

Select Family List.




Cocoa and Chocolate.—These articles, so beneficial to invalids, require great care in obtaining qualities pure from adulteration: this has been my principal study. I have always on hand a stock from the most celebrated Manufacturers, in plain and soluble descriptions, Fresh roasted Cocoa Nibs; Refined and Moist Sugars; Foreign Fruits of all kinds; Pickles and Sauces of every description; Orange, Quince, and Lemon Marmalade; Jordan, Bitter, and Shell Almonds.

Coffee.—This being an article of such increasing consumption, has claimed a large share of my attention, both in selection and the most approved plan of roasting, whereby the aromatic property so essential is preserved.


Wax, Sperm, and Composition Candles, Kensington Moulds and Store Dips.



Every description of


Families residing in the county will find an advantage in dealing at the above Establishment, as the Proprietor has entered into arrangements for supplying general Family Orders (for prompt payment) Carriage Free.

Orders per Post or Carrier carefully and promptly attended to.

[Pg 332]




His practice in Hair Cutting now exceeds 400 Hair Cuttings per month. Those Ladies and Gentlemen who really value a good Head of Hair, and otherwise approve of being respectfully served without flattery or deception, will do well by giving him a call at












(Near the Music Hall, one minute's walk from the Cross)


Continues to supply every article in the trade at the lowest possible prices consistent with good materials and workmanship.


[Pg 333]








(Next Door to the Old Bank, the Shop lately occupied by James Beese)


To her late Majesty Queen Adelaide,


Fruit.—Apricots; Apples and Pears, in variety; Almonds, Jordan; Ditto in shell; Figs, Green and Dried; Grapes, English and Foreign; Honey, dripped; Ditto, in comb; Jellies, Jams, &c.; Kent Cobs and Filberts; Worcestershire Ditto; Melons; Nectarines; Peaches; Pine Apples, English; Ditto, West India; Pickles and Sauces; Preserved Fruit, in bottles; Preserved Ginger; Raisins; Walnuts, English and Foreign.

Game.—Grouse, Hares, Ptarmigan, Partridges, Pheasants, Plover, Rabbits, Snipe, Woodcock and Wild Fowl, Venison.

Seeds, &c.—Agricultural Seeds; Asparagus Knives; Cuba Matting; Cucumber Glasses; Dried or Everlasting Flowers; Dried Grasses; Dutch Flower Roots; Flower Gatherers; Flower Seeds, English; Ditto, Foreign; Flower Pots, plain and fancy; Garden Seeds; Ditto, Implements; Gloves, of sorts; Hyacinth Glasses; Crocus ditto; Tulip ditto; Knives, of sorts; Mats, Russian; Pruning Scissors; Ditto Saws; Ditto ditto, Grecian, with handles from 1 to 6 ft.; Sets of Garden Implements for ladies and children.



Catalogues of Garden and Flower Seeds, Implements, &c., Agricultural Seeds and Bulbous Roots, may be had on application.

Importer of Dutch Flower Roots & German Flower Seeds.

A Spring Seed Catalogue is published in January; Agricultural Seed List in April; and Dutch Flower Root List in September.

[Pg 334]









Where every article in the trade is kept, and rendered at such prices as must satisfy the most economical.

Orders from the country, enclosing size round the head, depth of crown, width of brim, &c., in inches, will insure a good fit, and be promptly attended to.







Fishmonger, &c.,

(Next door to Mr. Newton's)




A regular supply of all kinds of Fish from the first Fisheries and Markets in the Kingdom.







[Pg 335]


Purchasers are respectfully requested to inspect the LARGE AND SUPERIOR STOCK OF











(Established upwards of a Century.)



Pen & Pocket Knives, Scissors, Razors, &c.


In fine Elastic-steel and other Frames.



[Pg 336]




The general stock at 70, Broad Street, comprising Ladies' and Gentlemen's Saddles, Riding and Driving Whips, Canes, Rugs and Horse Clothing, Railway Wrappers, Spurs, Brushes, Sponge, &c., &c., is well selected, and will receive continued augmentation as novelties are introduced.







Conducted in all its branches, on the most liberal terms.


By the most eminent Makers, for Sale or Hire;

With all other Musical Instruments, and a constant supply of

New Musical Publications.


Executed in the best style.


The Musical Profession, Artists, and Schools, dealt liberally with.

[Pg 337]







The business of this old-established Office has been successfully conducted on the principle of charging moderate rates of premium, and dealing in a prompt and liberal spirit with all Losses by Fire.

As some evidence of the desire of this Office to contribute in the most effectual manner to the security of the Insured and the Public, it may be mentioned that this Company maintains no less than twenty-seven First Class Fire Engines, all stationed in the Midland Districts, of which the following are the




Worcester—STANLEY PUMPHREY, Angel Street.

By order of the Directors,


[Pg 338]

By Special Appointment to Her late Majesty

Queen Adelaide, and H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent.







Beg most respectfully to solicit a continuance of the favours so long conferred upon the late Proprietor by the Nobility, Clergy, Gentry, and Public generally, of this and the neighbouring Counties.


J. S. & Co. can state with the utmost confidence that all orders will be executed with the greatest care and attention, and with more than usual accuracy, and at the same time at much lower prices than can be afforded by the Trade generally.

J. S. & Co. are Agents to the far-famed Coalport China Works, the Proprietors of which have just had a First Class Gold Medal awarded them by the Emperor of the French; they are also the manufacturers of the magnificent Turquoise Dessert Service, purchased at the French Exhibition by Mons. Heine, the eminent Banker of Paris, for One Thousand Guineas.

Many choice Specimens of this rare manufacture now on view at


where is also collected an immense Stock of every article connected with the China, Glass, and Earthenware Trade.


[Pg 339]





(Established upwards of a Century.)


VESTS, PANTALOONS & DRAWERS, LONG CLOTH SHIRTS, collars & fronts, ties, gloves, braces, &c.

Umbrellas and Parasols in Silk, Alpaca, and Cotton.





Respectfully informs the Public of Worcester and Vicinity that he has REMOVED his FISH BUSINESS from NEWPORT STREET to those Central Premises,



where he will constantly have on hand a Supply of all kinds of Fish in Season, at reasonable prices. Daily Supplies of Fresh Fish from Billingsgate and the Fisheries of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

SAMUEL JAMES continues to carry on the Business of Curer of Bloaters, in which department he has now been well known for some time as a Wholesale and Retail Dealer.

At the Premises in Broad Street, in a few days, S. JAMES will be prepared with


which will be found convenient and comfortable in all respects.

13, Broad Street, Worcester.

[Pg 340]




Respectfully announces that he practises the above Art in all its various departments, viz.:







LANDSCAPE, ARCHITECTURAL, or other description of Out-door Photography, executed with despatch, on reasonable terms, daily, from Nine a.m. until dusk.

A Selection of Local Views for the Album or Stereoscope always on Sale.

Agent for the Sale of Archer's Registered Folding Camera.

Amateurs' Negatives printed from in a superior manner.




Having perfected great Improvements in the Manufacture of


are enabled to execute all orders connected with the Trade at economical prices and in the best style.

N.B. The Trade supplied with Gilt and other Mouldings, Room Borderings, &c.




[Pg 341]


(From Cornhill, London; and upwards of the last nine years Watch Maker to the late Mr. W. Manning, of the Cross)






£. s. d.
Silver Lever Watches 5 5 0
Ditto Horizontal ditto 3 0 0










☞Orders received for Horses to meet the Trains at Spetchley, punctually attended to.

[Pg 342]





The Worcester Herald,

Established in 1794.

The Worcester Herald has been for years at the head of the Worcestershire Press, having a circulation nearly double that of any other paper published in the County; and contains a complete digest of the news of the week, with ample details of interesting local events. The Herald is entirely independent of political party, and circulates among all classes and individuals of every shade of opinion.


Forms an important feature in its columns, and besides the principal Markets of the week the









[Pg 343]







(Established upwards of a Century.)








Corn and Seed Factors,


Agent for the West of England Fire and Life Insurance Office.


Printed by Josiah Allen, Jun., 10, Livery Street, Birmingham.

Transcriber's Notes:

Simple spelling, grammar, and typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation normalized.

Anachronistic and non-standard spellings retained as printed.

End of Project Gutenberg's Notes and Queries for Worcestershire, by John Noake


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