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HE fourth country of those which, as it seemeth, the Cornavii in times past inhabited, the English-Saxons called Scryp-scyre and Schrobbe-scyre, wee Shropp-shire, and the Latinists comitatus Salopiensis, is farre greater than the rest in quantity, and is not inferiour to them either for plenty or pleasure. On the East side it hath Staffordshire, on the West Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire, on the South side Worcester, Hereford, and Radnorshires, and on the North Cheshire. It is replenished with townes and Castles standing thicke on every side, by reason that it was a Frontier country, or (that I may use the terme of Siculus Flaccus) ager arcifinius, in regard of repelling and repressing the Welshmen in the marches bordering heereupon, whereupon our Ancestours by an ancient word named the Confines of this Shire toward Wales the Marches, for that they were bounds and limits betweene the Welsh and English, and divers noble men in this tract were called Barons of the Marche and Lord Marchers, who had every one in their territorie a certaine peculiar jurisdiction, and in their owne Courts ministred law unto the inhabitants, with sundry priviledge and immunities, and this among other, that writs out of the Kings Courts should in certaine cases have no place nor runne among them. Neverthelesse, if any controversie arose about a Lordship it selfe, or the limites of Lordships, they were to resort unto the Kings Courts of justice. These also were in times past named in Latin Records marchiones de machia Walliae, as Marquesses of the Marches of Wales or Lords Marchers, as appeareth evidently by the Red booke of the Kings Exchequer, where we read how at the Coronation of Queene Aeleonor, wife to King Henrie the Third, marchiones de marchia Walliae &c., that is, The Marquesses of the Marches of Wales (or Lord Marchers) John Fitz-Alane, Raulph Mortimer, John of Monmouth, and Walter Clifford, in the name of the Marches, said it was the right of the Marches to find silver speares and to bring them for to support the foure square purple silke cloth at the Coronation of Kings and Queenes of England. But the happy tranquility of peace betweene Wales and England, and the Kings authority hath by little and little abrogated all those royalties, prerogative, and priviledges which the Lord Marchers enjoied ‡and insolently exercised over the poore inhabitants of the Marches.‡
2. Neither yet doe I thinke (I thought good to say so much afore-hand) that all this Country belonged anciently to the Cornavii, but that part onely which is on this side Severn: as for that on the farther side of Severn, it pertained to the Ordovices, who inhabited heere a great country in this tract, a parcell whereof, as also some little territories on this side Severn which belonged unto the Lords Marchers, were not long since laid to this Shire by authority of the Parliament. For into these two parts the whole Shire may be fitly divided, seeing that the river Severn cutteth it through in the mids from the West to the South-east.
3. In that part beyond Severn, the River Temd, in British Tefidianc, for some space maketh the South limite, into which at length the river Coluw, in British Colunwy and called contractly Clun, issueth it selfe. This river Clun, breaking forth farther within the country, not farre from a prety towne well frequented named Bishops Castle (because it belonged to the Bishops of Hereford, whose Dioecese and jurisdiction is large in this Shire) giveth name to Clun Castle, which the Fitz-Alans descended from one Alan the sonne of Flaod a Norman (who were afterwards Earles of Arundell) built, when they were Lords Marchers against the Welshmen, and annoyed them with continuall inrodes into their country. But where it meeteth with Temd, among divers doubtfull fourds, there mounteth up an hill of a very ancient memorie, which they call Caer Cardoc, because about the yeere of our Salvation 53 Caratacus, a most noble and renowned British King, raised in the front of it a mighty wall or rampier of Stone, and with his people resolutely made it good against Ostorius Lieutenant for the Romanes and the Legionarie Roman souldier, untill the Romans, having forcibly through that fence of stones so rudely laid (the remaines whereof are to be seene at this day), forced the unarmed Britans to quit the place and flie up to the mountains. Caratacus himselfe notwithstanding escaped by flight, but his wife, daughter, and brethren were taken prisoners. And he afterwards (as adversity in no place findeth safety) being delivered into the hands of Ostorius by Queene Cartismandua (unto whose protection he had committed himselfe), was carried away to Rome after he had vexed and wearied the Romanes in a long and troublesome war. Where he obtained pardon for himselfe and his of Claudius the Emperour, not by way of any base suppliant entreaty, but by a generous and honorable liberty of speech. For the winning of this hill and taking of this King captive, it was decreed that Ostorius should have Triumphall ornaments, neither did the Senate judge the taking of Caratacus lesse honorable than when Publius Scipio shewed Siphax, and Lucius Paulus presented Perses, two vanquished Kings, in triumphant maner at Rome. And although the compiler of our Historie hath made mention neither of this warre, nor of the worthy Britaine, yet the memorie thereof is not quite gone with the common people. For they confidently give out by tradition that a King was discomfited and put to flight upon this hill, and in the British booke entituled Triades, among three of the most renowned Britans for warlicke exploits, Caraduac Urichfras is named first, so that, as I think, we should make no doubt but that he was this very Caratacus.
4. Then Ludlow, in British formerly named Dinan and in later ages Lys-twysoc, i. e. The Princes Palace, standeth upon an hill at the meeting of the same Temd with the river Corve, a towne more faire than ancient. Roger Montgomerie first laid unto it a castle no lesse beautifull than strong, which hangeth over Corve, and then raised a wall about the towne that taketh about a mile in compasse. But when his sonne Robert was attainted, King Henrie the First kept it in his owne hands, and afterwards, when it was besieged, it valiantly endured the assaults of King Stephen, and during that straight siege, Henrie sonne of the King of Scots, being plucked from his saddle with an yron hooked engine, had like to have beene haled violently within the towne wals, had not Stephen in person rescued him, and with singular valour delivered him from so great a danger. After this, King Henrie the Second gave this castle together with the vale underneath along Corve, which commonly is called Corves-dale, to Sir Fulke of Dinan. Afterwards it belonged to the Lacies of Ireland, and by a daughter fell to Sir Geffrey de Ienevile, a Poictevin, or, as some will have it, of the house of Lorain: from whose heires it descended againe by a daughter to the Mortimers, and from thence hereditarily to the Crowne. Then the inhabitants in processe of time built in the very bosome of the towne, and on the highest ground, a very faire Church and the onely Church they have. And so it beganne to be of great account and to excell other neighbour townes adjoining. And although by King Stephen, Simon Montfort, and King Henrie the Sixth it suffred much damage in the civill warres, yet it alwaies flourished againe, and now especially, ever since that King Henrie the Eighth ordained the Councell of the Marches, not unlike to those Parliaments in France, the Lord President wherof doth for the most part keepe Courts and Terme here, which a man could hardly have seene at any time with out suits, whether it was for the great state and authority that it carried, or because the Welshmen and Marchmen are so forward and hote to goe to law. This Councell consisteth of the Lord President, so manie counsellers as it shall please the Prince to appoint, a Secretarie, an Attorney, a Sollicitour, and the foure Justices of the Counties in Wales.
5. Somewhat lower upon the river Temd is seene Burford, which from Theodoricke Saie and his posterity came unto Robert Mortimer, and from his posterity likewise unto Sir Geffrey Cornwaile, who derived his descent from Richard Earle of Cornwall and King of the Alemans, and his race even unto these daies hath flourished under the name of Barons of Burford (but not in the dignitie of Parliamentarie Barons), whereas it is holden (as we read in the Inquisition) of the King, for to find five men for the Armie of Wales, and by service of a Baronie. As for those (that I may note thus much by the way) who held and entier and whole Baronie, they were comonly in times past reputed Barons, and as some learned in Common lawes are of opinion, Baron and Baronie, like as Earle and Earledome, Duke and Dukedome, King and Kingdome, were coniugata, that is, Originally yoke fellowes.
6. When Temd now is leaving Shroppshire behind it, not farre from the bankes thereof there raise themselves up Northward certaine hils of easie ascent, Cleehill they call them, much commended for yeelding the best barly in great plenty, neither are they without yron mines: at the descent whereof, in a village called Clebury, Hugh Mortimer built a castle which King Henrie the Second forthwith so rased (because it was a nourisher of sedition) that scarce there remaine any tokens thereof at this day. Also hard by standeth Kinlet, where the Blunts flourished. Their name in this tract is very great, so surnamed at first of their yellow haire, the family noble and ancient, and the branches thereof farre spread. Then see we on the right-hand banke of Severn Brug Morse (commonly but corruptly called Bridg-North), so called of Burch or Burrough and Morse, a forest adjoining, whereas before time it was named simply Burgh. A towne fortified with wals, a ditch, a stately Castle, and the Severn, which betweene the rockes runneth downe with a great fall; seated also upon a rocke, out of which the waies leading into the upper part of the towne were wrought out. Achelfleda Lady of the Mercians first built it, and Robert de Belesme Earle of Shrewsburie walled it: who, trusting to the naturall strength of the place, rebelled against King Henrie the First, like as afterward Roger Mortimer against King Henrie the Second: but both of them with ill successe, for they were both forced to yeeld and submit themselves absolutely to the Kings commaunde. At the siege of this Castle (as we read in our Annales) King Henrie the Second, being levelled at with an arrow, had beene shot therewith quite through the body, had not Sir Hubert Syncter a noble and trusty servitour to the King interposed himselfe, and to save the King received both the arrow and his deaths wound withall. Before time also Sir Raulph de Pichford bare himselfe so valiantly heere that King Henrie the First gave unto him the little Burgh hard by, to hold by service, for to find dry wood for the great chamber of the castle of Burgh against the comming of his soveraign Lord the King. Willele or Willey is not farre from hence, the habitation in old time of Sir Warner de Willeley, from whose posterity by the Harleis and Peshall it came to the notable family of Lacon, advanced long since with the heire of Passelew, and of late by the possession of Sir John Blunt of Kinlet.
7. There be in like maner other townes and castles heere and there in this tract, as Newcastle, Hopton castle, Shipton, and upon the river Corve, Corvesham, which Walter Clifford had by the gift of King Henrie the Second. Also Brancroft and Holgot, commonly Howgate, which belonged sometime to the Manduits, then to Robert Blunt Bishop of Bath, and afterwards to the Lovells. More higher are Wenlocke, now knowen for the lime, but in King Richard the Seconds time for a mine of copper there, but much more knowen in the Saxons daies for a most ancient Nunnerie, where Milburga that most holy Virgin lived in great devotion, and was entombed. The which Nunnerie Earle Roger de Montgomerie repaired and replenished with Monkes. ‡In later times Sir John Winell, called also Wenlocke because he heere inhabited, for his faithfull service to King Henrie the Sixt was by him advanced to the state and honor of Baron Wenlocke, and elected Knight of the Garter; in whose cause hee manfully lost his life in the battaile of Tewkesbury, leaving no issue, but from his cosin and heire generall the Lawleys of this County are lineally descended.‡ A litle more West is Acton Burnell, a castle of the Burnels, and after of the Lovells, made famous by the Court of Parliament there held in the time of King Edward the First. This family of the Burnells was in old time of great name and antiquity, very much enriched also by that Bishop aforenamed. But it failed and had an end in the reigne of Edward the Second, when Mawde the heire was married unto John Lovell first, and secondly to John Handlow, whose sonne Nicolas assumed to himselfe the name of Burnell, from whom the Ratcliffes Earles of Sussex and others draw their pedigree. Scarce a mile from hence standeth Langley, seated very flat and low in a parke full of woods, the dwelling place of the Leas, which may well challenge to be ranged among the families that are of the better worth and greater antiquitie in this tract. Next unto these is Condover, a manour sometimes of the Lovells, but of late the possession of Thomas Owen, Justice of the Common Pleas and a very great lover of learning. But now he hath taken his quiet sleepe in Christ, and left his sonne Sir Roger Owen , for his manifold learning a right worthy sonne of so good a father. This is holden of the King, as we read in the Records, In chiefe, to find two footmen one day in the armie of Wales in time of warre. Which I note heere once for all to this end, that I may give to understand that gentlemen and noble men heere about held their inheritances of the Kings of England by this tenure, to be ready in service with souldiers for defence of the Marches, whensoever there should be any warre betweene England and Wales. Neere unto this there is a little village named Pichford, that imparted the name in times past to the ancient family of Pichford, now the possession of Richard Oteley, which our ancestours (for that they knew not pitch from Bitumen) so called of a fountaine of Bitumen there in a private mans yard, upon which there riseth and swimmeth a kind of liquid Bitumen daily, skumme it off never so diligently, even as it doth in the lake Asphaltites in Jewrie [Judea] in a standing water about Samosata, and in a spring by Agrigentum in Sicilie. But whether this be good against the falling sickness, and have a powerfull property to draw, to close up wounds &c., as that in Jewrie, none that I know as yet hath made experiment. More Westward you may see Pounderback castle, now decaied and ruinous, called in times past Pulrebach, the seat of Sir Raulph Butler, a younger sonne of Raulph Butler Lord Wem, from whom the Butlers of Woodhall in Hertfordshire are lineally descended. Beneath this, Huckstow forest spreadeth a great way among the mountaines, where at Stipperstons Hill there be great heapes of stone and little rockes, as it were, that rise thicke together, the Britans call them Carnnedau tewion. But whereas as these seeme naturall I dare not with others so much as conjecture that these were any of those stones which Giraldus Cambrensis seemeth to note in these words: Harald in person being himselfe the last footeman in marching with footmen, and light armours, and victualls answerable for service in Wales, valiantly went round about and passed through all Wales, so as that he left but few or none alive. And for a perpetuall memory of this victorie you may find very many stones in Wales erected after the antique maner upon hillockes in those places wherein he had been conquerour, having these words engraven:
HIC FVIT VICTOR HARALDVS
HEERE WAS HARALD CONQUEROR
8. More Northward Caurse castle standeth, which was the Baronie of Sir Peter Corbet, from whom it came to the Barons of Tafford, and Routon castle neere unto it, the most ancient of all the rest, toward the West borders of the shire, not farre from Severn, which castle sometimes belonged to the Corbets, and now to the ancient familie of the Listers. Before time it was the possession of John le Strange of Knocking, in despite of whom Lhewellin prince of Wales laid even with the ground, as we read in the life of Sir Fulke Fitz-Warin. It flourished also in the Romans time under the same name, tearmed by Antonine the Emperour Rutunium. Neither can we mistake heerein, seeing both the name and that distance from Uroconium, a towne full well knowen which he putteth downe, doe most exactly agree. Neere unto this are Abberbury Castle Watlesbury, which is come from the Corbets to the notable family familie of the Lightons, Knights. As for the name, it seemeth to have taken it from that high port-way called Watlingstreete, which went this way into the farthest part of Wales (of Ranulph of Chester writeth) by two little townes of that streete called Strettons, betweene which in a valley are yet to bee seene the rubbish of an old castle called Brocards Castle, and the same set amidest greene medowes, that before time were fish-pooles. But these castles with others which I am scarce able to number and reckon up, for the most part of them are now ruinate, not by the furie of warre, but now at length conquered even with secure peace and processe of time.
9. Now crossing over Severne unto that part of the shire on this side the river, which I sayd did properly belong to the ancient Cornavii, this againe is divided after a sort into two parts by the river Terne running from the North Southward, so called for that it issueth out of a very large poole in Staffordshire, such as they of the North-partes call Tearnes. In the hither part of these twaine, which lieth East nere to the place were Tern dischargeth his waters into Severn, stood the ancient Uricocinium (for so Antonine the Emperor termeth it), which Ptolomee calleth Viroconinum, Ninnius Caer Uruach, the old English Saxons Wreken-Ceaseter, we Wrekceter and Wroxcester. This was the chiefe City of the Cornavii, built as it seemeth by the Romans, what time as they fortified this banke of Severn in this place were the river is full of fourds, as it is not elswhere lower toward the mouth thereof. But this, beeing sore shaken in the Saxons warre, fell to utter decay in the Danish broiles, and now it is a verie small country towne of poore husbandmen, and presenteth often times to those that aire the ground Roman coines, to testifie in some sort the antiquity thereof. Besides them I saw nothing of antiquitie but in one place some few parcels of broken walles (which the common people cal The old Worke of Wroxceter). This wall was built of rough stone distinguished outwardly with seven rowes of British brickes in equall distance, and brought up with arched worke inwardly. I conjecture by the uneven ground, by the rampires and the rubbish of the wall here and there on either side, that the Castle stood in that very place were these ruines remaine. But where the plot of the City lay (and that was of a great compasse), the soile is more blackish than elsewere, and plentifully yeeldeth the best barly in all this quarter. Beneath this City that port-way of those Romanes knowne by the name of Watling-street went, as I have heard say, directlie (albeit the ridge thereof now appeareth not) either through a fourd or over a bridge (the foundations whereof were of late, a little higher, discovered, when they did set a weare in the river) unto the Strattons, that is to say, Townes upon the streete, whereof I spake even now. The ancient name of this decaied Uriconium sheweth it selfe verie apparently in an hill loftily mounting neare thereunto, called Wrecken hill (some writers terme it Gilberts hill), from the top whereof, which lieth in a plaine pleasant levell, there is a verie delightfull prospect into the countrie on everie side. This hill runneth out in his high length a good space, as it were, attired on the sides with faire spread trees. But under it, where Severn rolleth downe with his streame, at Buldewas, commonly Bidlas, there flourished a faire Abbay, the Sepulture in times past of the noble familie of the Burnels, Patrons thereof. Higher into the Country there is a Mansion or Baiting towne named Watling-street of the situation upon the foresaid Rode way or streete. And hard by it are seene the reliques of Castle Delaley, which after that Richard Earle of Arundell was attainted, King Richard the Second by authority of the Parliament annexed to the Principality of Chester, which hee had then erected. And not farre from the foote of the foresaid Wreken, in an hollow valley, by that high streete before mentioned, Oken-yate, a little village well knowne for the plentifull delfe [excavation] there of pit-cole, lieth so beneath, and just at the same distance as Antonine placeth Usocona both from Uriconium and also from Pennocrucium, that no man neede to doubt but that this Oken-yate was that Usocona. Neither doth the name it selfe gainesay it: for this word ys, which in the British tongue signified Lowe, may seeme added for to note the low situation thereof. On the other side beneath this hil appeareth Charleton Castle, in ancient times belonging to the Charletons, Lords of Powis, and more Eastward next of all unto Staffordshire, Tong-Cast,e called in old time Toang, which the Vernons not long since repaired, as also the Colledge within the towne which the Pembridges, as I have read, first founded. Neither have the inhabitants anything here more worth shewing than a bell for the bignesse thereof verie famous in all those parts adjoining. Hard to this lieth Albrighton, which in the reigne of King Edward the First was the seat of Sir Raulph de Pichford, but now of the Talbotts, branched from the familie of the Earles of Shrewsbury. ‡But above Tong was Lilleshul Abbay in a woodland countrie, founded by the familie of Beaumeis, whose heire was married into the house of De La Zouch. But seeing there is little left but ruines, I will leave it and proceed forward.
10. Beyond the river Terne, on the brinke thereof standeth Draiton, where in the civill warres betweene the houses of Lancaster and Yorke a field was fought that cost many a gentleman of Chesshire his life. For they, although the battaile was given up almost on even hand, when they could not agree among themselves but tooke part with both sides, were slaine by heapes and numbers on either side. Beneath this Draiton, and nere enough to Terne, lieth Hodnet, wherein dwelt sometimes Gentlemen of the same name, from whom hereditarily it is come by the Ludlows unto the Vernons. It was held in times past of the Honour of Mont-Gomery, by service to bee seneschall or Steward of the same honour. After this, Terne, having passed hard by certaine little rurall townes, taketh in unto him the riveret Roden, and when hee hath gone a fewe miles further, neere unto Uriconium, of which I spake even now, falleth into the Severn. Upon this Roden, whiles hee is but new come from his spring head, standeth Wem, where are to be seene the tokens of a Castle long since begun there to be built. This was the Baronie, after the first entrie of the Normans, of William Pantulph, from whose posterity it came at length to the Butlers, and from they by the Farrars of Ousley and the Barons of Greystock unto the Barons D’Acre of Gillesland. Within a little of this, upon an high hill well wooded, or upon a cliffe rather, which sometimes was called Radcliffe, stood a Castle mounted aloft, called of the reddish stone Red-castle, and in the Normans language Castle Rous, the seat in old time of the Audleies, through the liberall bountie of Lady Maude Le Strange. But now there remaineth no more but desolate walles, which yet make a faire shew. Scarce a mile from hence lieth all along the dead carcasse, as it were, of a small City now well neere consumed. But the peeces of Romane money, and those brickes which the Romanes used in building there found, doe testifie the antiquity and founders thereof. The neighbour inhabitants use to call it Bery, as one would say Burgh, and they report that it was a most famous place in King Arthurs daies, ‡as the common sort ascribe whatsoever is ancient and strange to King Arthurs glory.‡
11. Then, upon the same river, Morton Corbet, ‡anciently an house of the familie of Turet, afterward‡ a Castle of the Corbets, sheweth it selfe, where within our remembrance Robert Corbet, carried away with the affectionate delight of Architecture, began to build in a barraine place a most gorgeous and stately house ‡after the Italians modell.‡ But death prevented him, so that hee left the new worke unfinished and the old castle defaced. These Corbets are of ancient nobility in this shire, and held Lordships by service of Roger Montgomery Earle of this county, about the comming in of the Normans, for Roger the son of Corbet held Heulebec, Hundeslit, Acton, Fernleg &c. Robert, the sonne of Corbet, held land in Ulestanton, Rotinghop, Branten and Udecot. And in later ages this family farre and fairely propagated received encrease both of revenue and great alliance by the marriage of an heire of Hopton. More Southward standeth Arcoll the habitation of the Newports, knights of great worship, descended from the Barons Grey of Codnor and the Lords of Mothwy, and nere unto it is Hagmod Abbay, which the Lords Fitz Alanes, if they did not found, yet they most especially endowed. Now much lower upon Severn standeth most pleasantly the famousest Citie (for so it was called in Domesday Booke) of this shire (risen by the ruine of Old Uriconium), which wee at this day call Shrewsbury and Shrowsbury, having mollified the name, whereas our Ancestours called it Scrobbes-byrig for that it was anciently a very thickete of shrubs upon an hill. In which sense both the Greeke termed their Bessa and our Welsh-Britans named this also Pengwerne, that is, This high plot planted with Alders, and a Palace so named continued here a long time. but whence it is that it is now called in the British tongue Ymwithig, and by the Normans Scripesbery, Slopesbery, and Salop, and in the Latin tongue Salopia, I am altogither ignorant unlesse it should bee the ancient name Scrobbes-berig diversely distorted and disjointed. Yet some skilfull in the British tongue thinke verily it is called Ymwithig, as one would say Placentia or Plaisance, of a British word mewithau, and that their Poets the Bardi so named it because of all others it best pleased the Princes of Wales in times past. It is seated upon an hill of a reddish earth, and Severn, having two verie faire bridges upon it, gathering himselfe in manner round in forme of a circle, so compasseth it that, were it not for a small banke of firme land, it might goe for an Island. And thence it is that Leland the Antiquarian Poet wrote thus:
The buildings hie of Shrewsbury do shine both farre and nere
The towne within a river set, and Iland as it were,
Mounted upon a prety hill, and bridges hath it twaine,
The name it tooke of Alder trees in British tongue, men fayne.
12. Neither is it strengthned only by nature, but fortified also by art. For Roger of Montgomery, unto by the Conquerors gift it was allotted, pulling downe 50 houses or there about, built a strong stately castle on the North side upon a rising rocke, and Robert his son, when he revolted from King Henry the First, walled it about on that side where it was not fensed with the river, which notwithstanding never, that I know of, suffered assault or hostility but once in the Barons war against King John. At the first entring of the Normans it was a city well inhabited and of good trade. For as we read in Domesday Booke, In King Edward the Confessors time it paied gelt according to an hundred Hides. In the Conquerours time, it paied yeerely seven pounds and six shillings de Gablo. They were reckoned to bee two hundred and fifty two Citizens, whereof twelve were bound to watch about the Kings of England when they lay at this City, and as man to accompany them when they went forth on hunting. Which I would verily thinke to have beene ordained because not many yeeres before Edricke Streona Duke of the Mercians, a man notoriously disteined [stained] with wickednesse, lay in wait heere for Prince Afhelm and slew him as he rode on hunting. At which time (as that booke sheweth) the custome was in this Citie, That a woman taking, howsoever it were, a husband, if she were a widdow, gave unto the King 20 shillings, if a maid, tenne, in what maner soever she tooke a man. But to returne unto our matter, the said Earle Roger not onely fortified it, but also adorned it with other buildings both publicke and private, yea and founded a very goodly Abbay to the honour of Saint Peter and Saint Paule, unto which he granted many possessions, and therewith Saint Gregories Church, And namely in that tenour (I exemplified the words out of the private history of the said Abbay), that when the Chanons who held Prebends therein should any of them die, the said Praebends should come into the demaine and possession of the Monkes. Whereupon arose no small controversie. For the sonnes of the said Chanons sued the Monkes at law, that they might succeede in their fathers Praebends. For at that time the Chanons and Priests in England were married, and it grew to be a custome that Ecclesiasticall livings should descend by inheritance to the next of the bloud. But this controversie was decided under King Henrie the First, and concluded it was that the heire should not succeede in Ecclesiasticall livings; yea and about that time lawes were enacted touching the single life of Priests. Soone after in processe of time, other Churches also were heere erected. For, to say nothing of the houses or Frieries of Dominicans, Franciscans, and Augustine Freers, which the Charltons, Ienevills, and Staffords founded, there were two Collegiat Churches erected, Saint Chadds with a Deane and tenne Praebendaries, and Saint Maries with a Deane likewise and nine Praebendaries. And even at this day a faire and goodly Citie it is, well frequented and traded, full of good merchandise, and by reason of the Citizens painfull diligence, with cloth making and traffique with Welshmen, rich and wealthy. For hither almost all the commodities of Wales doe conflow as it were to a common Mart of both nations. Whereupon it is inhabited both with Welsh and English speaking both languages, who among other things deserve especiall commendation for this, in that they have set up a Schoole for the training up of children, wherein were more schollers in number, when I first saw it, than in any one schoole throughout all England againe: unto which Thomas Aston, the first head Schoolmaster, a right good man, procured by his meanes a very honest Salarie and Stipend for the teachers. It shall not now I hope be impertinent to note that when diverse of the Nobilitie conspired against King Henrie the Fourth with a purpose to advance Edmund Mortimer Earle of March to the Crowne as the undoubtfull and right heire, whose father King Richard the Second had also declared heire apparent, and Sir Henrie Percy called Hote-spurre then addressed himselfe to give the assault to Shrewsbury, upon a soudaine all their designes were dashed, as it were, from above. For the King with speedie marches was upon his backe before hee imagined. To whom yet the young Hote-spurre with courageous resolution gave battaile, and after a long and doubtfull fight, ‡wherein the Scotishmen which followed him shewed much manly valour (when the Earle of Worcester his unckle and the Earle of Dunbar were taken),‡ he despairing of victorie ranne undaunted upon his owne death amidest the thickest of his enemies. Of this battaile the place is called Battailefield, where the King after victory erected a chappell and one or two priests to praie for their soules who were there slaine. As for the position of this Shrewsbury, it is from the Islands Azores twenty degrees and seven and thirty minutes distant in Longitude, and from the Aequinoctial line two and fiftie degrees and three and fifty minutes in Latitude.
13. From out of this City (I wot not whether it may be thought worth my labour or pertinent to my purpose to relate so much) brake forth the last time, namely in the yeere of our salvation 1551, that dismal disease the English sweat, which presently dispersed over the whole realme, made great mortality of people, especially those of middle age. For as many as were taken sodainly with this sweat, within one foure and twenty houres either died or recovered. But a present remedy was found, namely that such as in the day time fell into out should presently in their clothes, as they were, goe to bed; as if by night and in bed, should there rest, lie still and not stirre from thence for foure and twenty houres, provided alwaies that they should not sleepe the whole but by all meanes be kept waking. Whereof this disease first arose, the learned of Physicians know not for certaine. Some strangers ascribe it to the ground in England, standing so much upon plastre (and yet it is but in few places of that nature). In certaine moist constitutions of weather (say they), it happeneth that vapours rise out of that kinde of soyle, which although they bee most subtile, yet they are corrupt, which cause likewise a subtile contagion, and the same is proportionate either unto the spirits or to the thinne froth that floateth upon the bloud. But what so ever the cause is, by reason whereof within one daie the patient either mends or ends. As for the cause let others search. For mine owne part, I have observed that this maladie hath runne through England thrice in the age aforegoing, and yet I doubt not but long before also it did the like (although it were not recorded in writing): first, in the yeere of Lord 1485, in which King Henrie the Seventh began his reigne, a little after a great conjunction of the superior planets in Scorpio. A second time, yet more mildly, although the plague accompanied it, in the thirtieth three yeere after, anno 1518, upon a great opposition of the same planets in Scorpio and Taurus, at which time it plagued the Netherlands and high Almaine [Germany] also. Last of all, three and thirtie yeeres after that in that yeere 1551 when another conjunction of those planets in Scorpio tooke their effects. But perhaps I have insisted too long herein, for these may seeme vaine toies to such as attribute nothing at all to ‡celestiall influence and‡ learned experience.
14. Neere unto this citie Severne fetcheth many a compasse, turning and winding in and out, but specially at Rossall, where hee maketh such a curving reach that hee commeth well nere round and meeteth with himselfe. Here about is that most ancient kinde of boat in very great use which in the old time they called in Latine rates commonly, to wit, Flotes, certaine peeces of timber joined together with rough plankes and rafters running overthwart, which serve to convey burdens downe the river with the streame, the use and name whereof our countrimen have brought from Rhene in Germanie, and tearme them as the Germans doe Flotes. By the river side stand Shrawerden, a Castle sometime of the Earles of Arundell, but afterwards belonging to Sir Thomas Bromley, late Lord Chancellor of England; Knocking Castle, built by the Lords Le Strange, from whom it descended hereditarily unto the Stanleies Earles of Darbie; and neere unto it Nesse, over which there mounteth upright a craggie cliffe with a cave much talked of, which togither with Cheswarden King Henrie the Second gave unto John Le Strange; from whom by divers branches are sprung the most honorable families of the Stranges de Knocking, Avindelegh, Ellesmer, Blackmere, Lutheham, and Hunstanton in Norfolke. Now from those of Knocking, whenas the last died without any issue male, the inheritance descended by Joan a sole daughter, and the wife of George Stanley, unto the house of Darby. Farther from the river, even upon the West frontier of the shire, lieth Oswestre or Oswaldstre, in British Croix Oswalds, a little towne enclosed with a ditch and a wall, fortified also with a pretie castle, and in it there is great trafficke, especially of Welsh cottons of a slight and thinne webbe which you may call in Latin levidensas, whereof there is bought and sold heere every weeke great store. It hath the name of Oswald King of the Northumbers (whereas before time it was called Maserfield) whom Penda the Pagan Prince of the Mercians both slow heere and a bloudy battaile, and after hee had slaine him, with monstrous cruelty tare in peeces. Whence a Christian Poet of good Antiquity versified thus of him:
Whose head and limbs, dismembred thus, that bloudy Penda takes,
And causeth to be hanged up, fast fixed on three stakes.
His meaning was hereby to strike a terror to the rest,
And make him seeme a wretched wight, who was a king much blest.
But this his purpose fails in both. Oswy his brother deare
In his revenge was not affraid, but rather makes him feare.
Nor miserable is this Prince, but happy, we may say,
Who now enjoys the spring of good, and shall enjoy for aye.
15. This towne seemeth to have had the first originall from devotion and religion, for the Christians of that age counted it a most holy place, and Bede hath recorded that here were Oswald was slaine strange miracles have beene wrought. But Madoc brother of Mereduc (as Caradec of Lancanvan writeth) built it, and the Norman Fitz-Allans, who were Lords afterwards thereof and Earles of Arundell, walled it about. The Ecclipses of the sunne in Aries have beene most dangerous unto it, for in the yeere of our Lord 1542 and 1567 when the Ecclipses of the sunne in Ares wrought their effects, it suffered very grievous losse by fire. And namely after this later ecclipse, the fire spred it self so far that there were burnt within the towne and suburbes about two hundred houses. A little beneath this Northwestward there is an hill entrenched round about with a threefold ditch (they call it Hen-Dinas, that is, The old palace). The neighbour dwellers say confidently it hath beene a citie, but others there bee that thinke it was the Campe of Penda or Oswald. Scarce three miles from hence standeth Whittington, a castle not long agoe of the Fitz-Guarins, who deduced their pedigree from Sir Guaren de Metz, a Lorainois, but he tooke to wife the daughter and heire of William Peverell, who is reported to have built Whittington, and begat Fulke the father of that most renowned Sir Fulke Fitz-Warin, of whose doubtfull [doughty] deedes and variable adventures in the warres our ancestours spake great wonders, and Poems were composed. In the reigne of Henry the Third, I find that licence was graunted unto Foulk Fitz-Warin to strengthen the Castle of Whittington in competent manner, as appeareth out of the Close rolles in the fifth of King Henry the Third. The dignity of these Barons Fitz-Warins had an end in an heire female, and in the age aforegoing passed by Haneford unto the Bourchiers now Earles of Bath. Beneath this Whittington one Wrenoc sonne of Meuric held lands, who for his service ought to be Latimer, that is Truchman or Interpreter, between the English and the Welshmen. This note I out of an old Inquisition, that men may understand what the said name Latimer importeth: which no man almost knew heretofore, and yet it hath beene a surname very currant and rife in this kingdome. At the Northwest border of this shire there offer themselves to bee seene, first, Shenton the seat of the respective familie of the Needhams; Blackmere an ancient Manour of the Lords le Strange; and then Whitchurch or Album Monasterium, where I saw some monuments of the Talbots, but principally of that renowned English Achilles Sir john Talbot the first Earle of Shrewsbury out of this house, whose Epitaph, that the reader may see the forme of the Inscriptions according that age, I will here put downe, although it is little beseeming so worthy and heroicall a knight:
Pray for the soule of the right Noble Lord Sir John Talbot, sometimes Earle of Shrewsburie, Lord Talbot, Lord Furnivall, Lord Verdon, Lord Strange de Black-Mere, and Mareshall of France: Who died in the battaile at Burdews VII IVLII MCCCCLIII
Unto this family of the Talbots there accrewed by marriage-right the inheritance of the Barons Le Strange of Blackmere, who were surnamed Le Strange commonly, and Extranei in Latin Records, for that they were strangers brought hether by King Henry the Second, and in short time their house was farre propagated. These of Blackmere were much enriched by an heire of William de Albo-monasterio, or this Whit-Church, and also by one of the heires of John Lord Giffard of Brimsfeild, of ancient nobility in Glocestershire, by the onely daughter of Walter Lord Clifford.
16. More Westward lieth Ellesmer a little territorie but rich and fruitfull, which, as the Chronologie of Chester testifieth, King John gave with the Castle to Llewellin Prince of North-Wales in marriage with Joane his base daughter. Afterwards in the time of King Henrie the Third it came to the family of the Le Stranges. But now it hath his Baron Sir Thomas Egerton, a man whom for his singular wisdome and sincere equity Queene Elizabeth chose to be Lord Keeper of the great Seale, and King James, making him Lord Chancellour, advanced to the highest honour of the long roabe, and withall adorned with the honorable title of Baron of Ellesmer.
17. Now let us briefely adde somewhat of the Earles of Shrewsbury: Roger de Belesmo, otherwise Montgomerie, was created the first Earle of Shrewsbury by King William the Conquerour, unto whom he alotted also the greatest part of this Shire. After him succeeded first his eldest sonne Hugh, slaine in Wales without issue. Then Robert another of his sonnes, a man outrageously cruell toward his owne sonnes and hostages, whose eies with his owne hands he plucked out and gelded. But afterwards, being convict of high treason, hee was kept in perpetuall prison by King Henrie the First, and so suffred condigne punishment for his notorious wickednesse. Then was his Earldome made over unto Queene Adeliza for her dowry. Many ages after, King Henrie the Sixth in the 20 yeere of his reigne promoted to this honor John Lord Talbot, whom both Nature bred and his disposition inured unto warlicke prowesse. And in the 24 yeere of his reigne hee bestowed moreover upon the same John, whom in the Patent he calleth Earle of Shrewsbury and of Weisford, the title of Earle of Waterford, the Baronie of Dongarvan, and the Seneschalsie or Stewardship of Ireland. But when he was slaine at Castilion upon Dordon neare Burdeaux together with his younger sonne Sir John Talbot Vicount L’ isle, after he had foure and twenty yeeres together marched with victorious armes over a great part of France, his sonne John by the daughter and one of the heires of Sir Thomas Nevill Lord Furnivall, succeeded: who siding with the house of Lancaster was slaine fighting valerously in the forefront in the battell of Northampton. From him by a daughter of the Earle of Ormond came John the third Earle of Shrewsbury and Sir Gilbert Talbot captaine of Callis, from whom the Talbots of Grafton descended. This third John had by his wife Katharin daughter to Henry Duke of Buckingham George, the fourth Earle, who served King Henrie the Seventh valiantly and constantly at the battaile of Stoke. And he by Anne his wife, daughter to William Lord Hastings, had Francis the fifth Earle, who begat of Marie daughter to Thomas Lord Dacre of Gillesland George the sixt Earle, a man of approved fidelity in weighty affaires of State, whose sonne Gilbert, by his wife Gertrud daughter to Thomas Rutland, the seventh Earle maintaineth at this day his place left unto him by his ancestours with right great honor and commendation for his vertues.
In this region there are Parishes much about 170.
HE fifth and last of those countries which in old time the Cornavii held is the County of Chester, in the Saxon tongue Cester-scyre, commonly Cheshire and The Countie Palatine of Chester (for that the Earles thereof had Roialties and princely priviledges belonging to them, and all the inhabitants owed alleageance and fealty to them, as they did to the King). As for this tearme Palatine, that I may reherse againe that which I have said before of this name, <it> was in times past common to all those who bare any Office of the Kings court or palace, and in that age comes palatinus was a title of dignitie conferred upon him who before was palatinus, with authoritie to heare and determine causes in his owne territorie, and as well his Nobles, whom they called Barons, as his Vassals were bound to repaire unto the Palace of the said Count, both to give him advise and also to give their attendance and furnish his Court with their presence.
2. This country (as William of Malmesbury saith) is scarce of courne, but especially of wheat, yet plentifull in cattaile and fish. Howbeit Ranulph the Monke of Chester affirmeth the contrary: Whatsoever Malmesbury dreamed (saith hee) upon the relation of others, it aboundeth with all kind of victuals, plenteous in corne, flesh, fish, and salmons especially, of the very best. It maintaineth trade with many commodities, and maketh good returne. For why, in the confines thereof it hath salt pits, mines, and mettals. And this moreover will I adde: the grasse and fodder there is of that goodnesse and vertue that cheeses be made heere in great number of a most pleasing and delicat tast, such as all England againe affourdeth not the like, no, thought he best dayriwomen otherwise and skilfullest in cheese making be had from hence. And whiles I am writing this, I cannot chuse but mervaile by the way at that which Strabo writeth, That in his time some Britans could not skill of making cheese, and that Plinie afterwards wondered That barbarous nations who lived of milke, either knew not or despised for so many ages the commodity of cheese, who otherwise had the feat of crudding it to a pleasant tartnesse, and to fat butyr. Whereby it may be gathered that the devise of making cheese came into Britaine from the Romans. But howsoever this region in fertility of soile commeth behind many countries in England, yet hath it alwaies bred and reared more Gentry than the rest. For you have not in all England againe any one province beside that in old time either brought more valerous Gentlemen into the field, or had more families in it of Knights degree. On the Southside it is hemmed in with Shroppshire, on the Eastside with Staffordshire and Darbyshire, on the North with Lancashire, and on the West with Denbigh and Flint shires. Toward the North-west it runneth far into the sea with a long cantle or Promontory, which being enclosed within two Creekes receiveth the Ocean on both sides entring into the land, into which two Creekes also all the rivers of this Shire doe discharge themselves. Into what creeke which is more Westerne passeth the river Dee that divideth this country from Denbighshire; into that on the East-side both Wever, which runneth through the mids of the Shire, and Mersey also, that parteth it from Lancashire, issue themselves. Neither see I any better way of describing this County than if I follow the very tracts of these rivers. For all the places of greatest note are situate by the sides of them. But before I enter into any particular description, I will first propose out of Lucian the Monke thus much in commendation of Cheshire, for he is a rare author and lived a little after the Conquest: If any man be desirous (saith he) either fully, or as neere as may be, to treat of the inhabitants according to the disposition of their maners, in respect of other that live in sundry places of the realme, they are found to be partly different from the rest of English, partly better, and partly equall unto them. But they seeme especially (the best point to be considered in a generall triall of maners) in feasting friendly, at meat cheerefull, in giving entertainment liberall, soone angry but not much, and as soone pacified, lavish in words, impatient of servitude, mercifull to the afflicted, compassionate toward the poore, kind to their kinred, spary [sparing] of their labour, void of dissimulation and doublenesse of heart, nothing greedy in eating, farre from dangerous praticises, yet by a certaine licentious liberty bold in borowing many times other men-goods. They about in wood and pastures, they are rich in flesh and cataile, confining on the one side with the Welsh Britans, and by a long entercourse and transfusion of their maners, for the most part like unto them. This also is to be considered, in what sort the County of Chester, enclosed upon one side with the limite of the wood Lime, by a certaine distinct priviledge from all other Englishmen is free, and by the Indulgence of Kings and excellencies of Earles hath beene wont in assemblies of the people to attend upon the Earles sword rather than the Kings Crowne, and within their precinct to heare and determine the greatest matters with more liberty. Chester it selfe is a place of receit for the Irish, a neighbour to the Welsh, and plentifully served with courne by the English. Finely seated, with gates anciently built, approved in hard and dangerous difficulties. In regard of the the river and prospect of the eie together, worthy according to the name to be called a Citie. Garded with watch of holy and religious men, and, through the mercy of our Saviour, alwaies fenced and fortified with the mercifull assistance of the Almighty.
3. The river Dee, called in Latin Dava, in British Dyfyr-dwy, that is, the water of Dwy, breeding very great plenty of Salmons, ariseth out of two fountaines in Wales, and thereof men thinke it tooke the name. For dwy in their tongue signifieth two. Yet others, observing also the signification of the word, interpret it Blac-water, others againe Gods water or divine water. But although Ausonius noteth that a Spring hallowed to the Gods was named Diuvona in the ancient Gaules tongue (which was all one with the British), and in old time all rivers were reputed Διοπετεῖς, that is, Descended from Heaven, yea and our Britans yeelded divine honour unto rivers, as Gildas writeth, yet I see not why they should attribute Divinitie to this river Dwy above all others. The Thessalians, as we read, gave to the river Paeneus divine honor for the pleasantnesse thereof, the Scythians to Danubius for the largenesse, the Germans to Rhene because it was counted a judge in the question of true and undefiled wedlock. But wherefore they should impose a divine name upon this river I see no reason, as I said before, unlesse peradventure because now and then it changed the chanell and thereby foreshewed a sure token of victorie to the inhabitants upon it when they were in hostility one with another, according as it inclined more to this side or to that after it had left the chanell, for thus hath Giraldus Cambrensis recorded, who in some sort beleeved it. Or else because they observed that, contrarie to the wonted maner of other rivres, upon the fall of much raine it arose but little, and often as the South wind beateth long upon it, it swelleth and extraordinarily overfloweth the grounds adjoining. Peradventure also the Christian Britans thought the water of this river to be holy. For it is written that when they stood ready to joine battaile with the English Saxons and had kissed the earth, they dranke also very devoutly of this river in memoriall of Christs most sacred and pretious bloud. But Dee, which seemeth to rush rather than to run out of Wales, no sooner is entred into Cheshire but he passeth more mildly with a slower streame by Bonium, in some written copies of Antonine Bovium, a Citie that hath beene of great name in that age, and afterwards a famous Monasterie. Of the Chore or quire whereof it was called by the Britans Bon-chor and Banchor, of the ancient English Bancorna-byrige and Banchor, and among many good and godly men it fostered and brought up (as some write) that most wicked Arch-heretick Pelagius, who injuriously derogating from the grace of God, troubled a long time the West Church with his pestiferous Doctrine. Prosper Aquitanus in this verse of his termeth him the British adder, or Land-snake:
A British snake with venemous tongue
Hath vomited his poison strong.
4. Neither have I made mention of him for any other reason but because it is behoveable to each one to know vices and venims. In this Monasterie, as saith Bede, there was such a number of Monkes that, being divided into seven portions which had everie of them a severall head and ruler over them, yet every one of these had no fewer than three hundred men who were wont to live all of their handy labour. Of whom Edilfred King of the Nordan-humbers slew 12 hundred, because they had implored in their prayers Christs assistance for the Christian Britans against the English-Saxons, then infidels. The profession of this Monasticall life (that I may digres a little) began when pagan Tyrants enraged against Christians pursued them with bloudy persecutions. For then good devout men, that they might serve God in more safety and securitie, withdrew themselves into the vast wildernesses of Aegypt, and not (as the Painims are wont with open mouth to give it out) for to enwrape themselves willingly in more miseries because they would not be in miserie. Where they scattered themselves among mountaines and deserts, living in caves and little cells heere and there in holy meditations. At first solitarie and alone, whereupon in Greeke they were called monachi, that is, Monkes, but after they thought it better (as the sociable nature of mankind required) to meete together at certaine times to serve God, and at length they beganne to cohabite and live together for mutuall comfort, rather then like wilde beasts to walke up and downe in the deserts. Their profession was to pray, and by the labour of their owne hands to get living for themselves and maintainance for the poore, and withall they vowed povertie, obedience, and chastity. Athanasius first brought this kind of Monkes, consisting of laymen, into the West Church. Whereunto after that Saint Austen in Afrike, Saint Martin in France, and Congell in Britaine and Ireland had adjoined the function of regular Clergy. It is incredible how farre and wide they spred, how many and how great Caenobies were built for them, so called of their communion of life; as also Monasteries, for that they kept still a certaine shew of solitarie living, and in those daies none were more sacred and holy than they, and accordingly they were reputed, considering how by their praiers to God, by their example, Doctrine, labour, and industry, they did exceeding much good not onely to them selves, but also to all mankind. But as the world grew worse and worse, so those their holy maners, as one said, rebus cessere secundis, that is, gave backward in time of prosperity. Now let me returne unto my matter, craving your pardon for this short digression.
5. After these daies, this Monasterie fell utterly to ruin, for in the time of William of Malmesbury, who lived presently after the Normans comming in, There remained heere, as he saith, so many tokens of Antiquity, so many walles of Churches halfe downe, so many windings and turnings of gates, such heapes of rubbish and rammel, as hardly a man should have found elsewhere. But now is left to be seene scarcely the face and outward shew of a dead Citie or Monasterie, and the names onely remaine of two gates Port Hoghan and Port Cleis, which stand a mile asunder, betweene which are found very oft peece of the Romanes money. But that I may tell you of one thing, this Bonium or Banchor is not reckoned within this Country but in Flintshire, a peece whereof severed (as it were) from the rest lieth here between Cheshire and Shroppshire.
6. Dee, where he entreth first into this shire, seeth above him not farre from is banke Malpas, upon an high hill, which had in it a Castle, and for the bad, narrow, and combrous way was tearmed in Latin Mala platea, that is, Ilstreet, and thence also tooke this later name Mal-pas from the Normans, whereas in times past the Englishmen almost in the same sense called it Depenbach. The Baronie hereof Hugh Earle of Chester gave to Robert Fitz-Hugh. In the reigne of Henrie the Second William Patricke the sonne of William Patricke held the same: of whose line Robert Patricke, standing outlawed, lost it. After some few yeeres David of Mal-pas by a writ of Recognisance gat the one halfe of that towne which was Gilbert Clerkes. But a great part of this Baronie went afterward hereditarily to those Suttons that are Barons of Dudley, and a part also thereof came to Urian Sampier. And from Philip, a younger sonne of David of Mal-pas, is descended that worshipfull family of the Egertons, who tooke this name from the place of their habitation, like as from other places diverse Gentlemen of this race received the surnames Cotgrave, Overton, Codington, and Golborn. As touching the name of this place, give me leave before I depart hence, in this serious worke to insert a prety jest out of Giraldus Cambrensis. It hapned, saith he, in our daies that a certaine Jew travailing towards Shrewsbury with the Archdeacon of this place, whose surname was Peche, that is, Sinne, and a Deane named Devill, when he heard by chance the Archdeacon telling that his Archdeaconry began at a place called Il-street and reached as farre as to Mal-pas toward Chester, he, considering and understanding withall as well the Archdeacons surname as the Deanes, came out with pleasant and merry conceit: “Would it not be a wonder (quoth he) and my fortune very good, if ever I get safe againe out of this country, where Sinne is the Archdeacon and the Devill the Deane, where the entrance into the Archdeaconry is Il-streeet, and the going forth of it Mal-pas.”
From hence Dee runneth downe amaine by Shoclach, where somtime was a Castle, by Aldford, belonging in times past to the Arderns; by Poulefourd, where in the reigne of Henrie the Third Sir Raulph of Ormesby had his Castle, and by Eaton the seat of the famous family of Gros-venour, that is, the great Hunter, whose posterity now corruptly goe under the name of Gravenor.
7. Somewhat higher upon the same river neere unto Dee-mouth, which Ptolomee calleth Seteia for Deia, standeth the noble Citie which the said Ptolomee named Devnana, Antonine the Emperour Deva of the river, the Britans Caer-Legion, Caer-Leon Vaur, Caer-Leon ar Dufyr Dwy, and by way of excellencie Caer, likes as our ancestours the English Saxons Legea-cester, of the Legions campe, and we more short West-Chester of the West situation, and simply Chester, according to the verse:
Chester of Castra tooke the name,
As if that Castria were the same.
For these British names without all doubt were derived from the Twentieth Legion named Victrix. This legion in the yeere that Galba the Emperour was the second time Consull, together with Titus Vinius, was transported over into Britaine, which being out of awe and therefore dreaded of the Lieutenants, as well those which had beene Consuls as Pretours, had Julius Agricola appointed Lieutenant over it by Vespasian the Emperour; was at length placed and seated in this City, which I suppose was not built many yeeres before, and set as one would say at the backe of the Ordovices to restrain them. Although there are some who avouch it to be of greater antiquity, as they say, than the moone, as founded forsooth by Leon Vaur the Giant, I know not how many hundred yeeres before. But the very name it selfe might give the checke unto these triviall antiquaries, and withhold them from so grosse an errour. For they cannot deny but that leon-vaur in British signifieth a great Legion. Now, whether it stands more with reason and equity that a Citie should take name of a Great Legion than of Leon a Giant, let the learned judge, seeing that in the part of Spaine called Tarraconensis there is a realme now called Leon of the seventh Legion Germanica; considering also that the twentieth Legion, which they tearmd Britannica, Valens Victrix, and some falsely Valeria Victrix, abode in this Citie, as Ptolomee, Antonine, and the ancient coine of Septimius Geta doe prove, by which it appeareth for certaine that this Citie also was a Colonie. For in the reverse or back-side thereof standeth this inscription: COL. DIVANA LEG. XX VICTRIX. But to testifie the Romanes magnificence, there are remaining indeede at this day very few tokens, besides pavements of foure square checker worke: howbeit in the former ages it presented many, which Ranulph a Monke of this Citie shall tell you out of his Polychronicon in these his owne words: There be waies heere under the ground vaulted marvelously with stone worke, chambers having arched roofes over had, huge stones engraven with the names of ancient men. Heere also are sometimes digged up peeces of money coined by Julius Caesar and other famous persons, and stamped with their inscriptions Likewise Roger of Chester in his Policraticon, When I behold (saith he) the groundworke of buildings in the streets laid with monstrous big stones, it seemeth that it hath beene founded by the painfull labour of Romans or giants, rather than by the sweat of Britans. This Citie, built in forme of a quadrant foure square, is enclosed with a wall that taketh up more than two miles in compasse, and hath eleven parishes. ‡But that of Saint Johns without the Northgate was the fairest, being a stately and solemne building, as appeareth by the remaines, wherein were anciently Prebendaries and, as some write, the Bishops See.‡ Neere unto the river standeth the Castle upon a rockie hill, built by the Earles, where the Courts Palatine and the Assises, as they call them, are kept twice a yeere. The houses are very faire built, and along the chiefe streets are galleries or walking places, ‡they call them rowes, having shops on both sides, through which a man may walke dry from one end to the other.‡ But it hath not continued evermore in one tenor of prosperity. First it was rased by Egfrid King of Northumberland, then by the Danes, yet reedified againe by Aedelfled Lady of the Mercians, and soone after it saw King Eadgar in magnificent maner triumphing over the British Princes. For sitting himselfe in a barge at the fore-decke, Kennadie King of the Scots, Malcoline King of Cumberland, Macon King of Mann and of the Ilands, with all the Princes of Wales brought to do homage, and like watermen working at the Ore, rowed him along the river Dee in a triumphant shew, to his great glory and joy of the beholders. Certaine yeeres after, and namely about the yeere of our redemption 1094, whenas in a devout and religious emulation, as one saith, Princes strove avie that Cathedrall Churches and Minsters should bee erected in a more decent and seemelie forme, and whenas Christendome rouzed as it were her selfe, and, casting away her old habilimentes, did put on everiewhere the bright and white robe of the Churches, Hugh the first of the Norman bloud that was Earle of Chester repaired the Church, which Earle Leofrick had formerlie founded in honour of the Virgin Saint Werburga, and by the advise of Anselm, whom hee had procured to come out of Normandie, granted the same unto monkes. And now it is notorious for the tombe of Henrie the Fourth, Emperour of Almaine [Germany], who, as they say, gave over his empire and lived heere an Eremites life, and for the Bishops See therein established. Which See immediately after the Normans conquest Peter Bishop of Lichfield translated from Lichfield hither, but when it was brought to Coventrie, and from thence into the ancient seat againe, West-chester lay a long time bereft of this Episcopall dignity, untill in our fathers daies King Henrie the Eighth, having thrust out the monkes, ordeined Prebendaries and restored a Bishop againe, under whom for his Dioecise hee appointed this Country, Lancashire, Richmond &c., and appointed the same to bee within the Province of the Archbishop of Yorke.
8. But returne wee now to matters of greater antiquity. Whenas now the said Cathedrall church was built, the Earles that were of the Normans line fortified the citie both with walles and castle. For as the Bishop held of the King that which belongeth to his Bishopricke (these are the words of Domesday-booke made by King William the Conquerour), so the Earles with their men held of the King wholy all the rest of the City. It paide geld or tribute for fifty hides, and foure hundred thirty and one houses were thus geldable, and seaven Mint-maisters. When the King himselfe in person came thither every Carrucata yeelded unto him two hundred Hesthas, and one tun full of Ale, and one Rusca of butyr. And in the same place, for the reedification of the City wall and the bridge, the Provost gave warning by an edict that out of every Hide in the County one man should come , and looke whose man came not, his Lord or Maister was fined in fortie shillings to the King and the Earle. If I should particulate the scufflings and skirmishes hereabout betweene the Welsh and English in the beginning of the Normans time, their inrodes and outrodes, the often scarfyres [fires] in the Suburbs of Hanbrid beyond the bridge, whereupon the Welshmen call it Treboeth, that is, The burnt towne, as also the wall made there of Welshmens sculls that went a great length, I should seeme to forget my selfe and thrust my sicle into the Historians harvest. But ever since the said time hath Chester notablie flourished, and King Henry the Seventh made it a County by it selfe incorporate. Neither wanteth any thing there that may be required in a most flourishing City, but that the Ocean, being offended and angrie (as it were) at certaine Mills in the very chanell of the river Dee, hath by little withdrawne himselfe backe, and affordeth not unto the citie the commoditie of an haven, as heretofore. The Longitude of this place is twentie degrees and three and twentie scruples, the Latitude three and fiftie degrees and eleven scruples. If you desire to know more touching this citie, have here these reports out of Lucian that monke above said, who lived almost five hundred yeeres agoe. First, it is to be considered that Chester is built as a Citie, the site whereof inviteth and allureth the eye, which beeing situate in the West parts of Britaine, was in times past a place of receipt to the Legions comming afarre off to repose themselves, and served sufficientlie to keepe the keies, as I may say, of Ireland, for the Romans to preserve the limite of their Empire. For beeing opposite to the North-east part of Ireland, it openeth waie for passage of ships, and mariners with spred saile passing not often but continuallie to and fro, as also for the commodities of sundrie sorts of merchandise. And whiles it casteth an eye forward into the East, it looketh toward not onely the See of Rome and the Empire thereof, but the whole world also, so that it standeth forth as a kenning place to the view of eyes, that there may bee knowne valiant exploites, and the long traine and consequence of things; as also whatsoever throughout the world hath beene done by all persons, in all places, and at all times, and what ever hath beene yll done may also bee avoided and taken heed of. Which Citie having foure gates from the foure cardinall winds, on the East side hath a prospect toward India, on the West toward Ireland, North-Eastward the greater Norway, and Southward that streit and narrow Angle which divine severity, by reason of civill and home-discords, hath left unto the Britans. Which long since by their bitter variance have caused the name of Britaine to be changed into the name of England. Over and beside, Chester hath by Gods gift a river to enrich and adorne it; the same, faire and fishfull, hard by the Citie walls. And on the Southside a rode and harbour for shippes coming from Gascoine, Spaine, and Germanie, which with the helpe and direction of Christ, by the labour and wisdome of merchantes, repaire and refresh the heart of the City with many good things, that wee, being comforted every waie by our Gods grace, may also drinke wine often, more frankelie and plentuouslie because those Countries enjoy the frute of the Vineyards aboundantlie. Moreover the open sea ceaseth not to visite it every daie with a tide, which according as the broad shelves and barres of sands are opened or hidden by tides and ebbes incessantlie, is wont more or less either to send or exchange one thing or other, and by his reciprocall flow and returnes, either to bring in or to carrie out somewhat.
9. From the Citie Northwestward there shooteth out a languet [tongue] of land, or promontorie of the maine-land, into the sea, enclosed on the one side with Dee mouth, on the other side with the river Mersey. Wee call it Wirall, the Welsh Britans for that it is an angle terme it Kill-gury. In old time it was all forest and not inhabited, as the dwellers report, but King Edward the Third disforested it. Yet now beset it is with townes on everie side, howbeit more beholden to the sea than to the soile. For the land beareth small plentie of corne, the water yeeldeth great store of fish. At the entrie into it on the South side standeth Shotwich, a castle of the Kings, upon the salt water. Upon the North standeth Hooten, a manour which in King Richard the Second his time came to the Stanleies, who fetch their pedigree from Alane Sylvestre, upon whom Ranulph the first of that name, Earle of Chester, conferred the Bailly-wick of the Forest of Wirall, by delivering unto him an home. Close unto this is Poole, from whence the Lords of the place that have a long time flourished tooke their name, and hard by it Stanlaw, as the monkes of that place interprete it, a Stony hill, where John Lacy Connestable of Chester founded a little monasterie, which afterwards by reason of inundations was translated to Whaley in Lancashire. In the utmost brinke of this Promontorie lieth a small, hungrie, barren and sandie Isle called Il-bre, which had sometime a little cell of monkes in it. More within the Country and Eastward from Wirall, you meet with a famous forest named the Forest of Delamere, the Foresters whereof by hereditary succession are the Dawns of Utkinton, descended of a worshipfull stocke from Ranulph de Kingleigh, unto whom Ranulph the first Earle of Chester gave that Forestership to bee held by right of inheritance. In this forrest Adelfled, the famous Mercian Lady, built a little citie called Eades-burg, that is, by interpretation, Happy towne, which now having quite lost it selfe hath likewise lost that name, and is but an heape of rubbish and rammell, which they call The Chamber in the Forrest. And about a mile or two from hence are to be seene the ruines of Finborrow, another towne built by the same Lady Aedelfled.
10. Through the upper part of this forest the river Wever runneth, which ariseth out of a Poole in the South side of the shire at Ridly, the dwelling house of the respective and ancient familie of the Egertons, who flowered out of the Barons of Malpas, as I have said. Nere hereunto is Bunbury, ‡contractly so called for Boniface Bury, for Saint Boniface was the patron Saint there,‡ where the Egertons built a Colledge for priests. Over against which is Beeston, which gave surname to an ancient familie, and where upon a steepe rising hil Beeston Castle towereth aloft with a turretted wall of a great circuit. This castle the last Ranulph Earle of Chester built, whereof Leland our countrie man ‡being rapt both with a Poeticall and Prophetical fury,‡ writeth thus:
When Ranulph from Assyria return’ d with victorie,
As well the neighbour Nations to curbe and terrifie,
As for to fense his owne country, this famous Fort he rais’ d,
Whilom a stately thing, but now the pride thereof is raz’ d.
And yet though at this present time it be in meane estate,
With crackes and breaches much defac’ d, and foulie ruinate,
The day will come when it againe the head aloft shall heave,
If antient prophets I, my selfe a prophet, may believe.
But to returned to the river, Wever first holdeth his course Southward not farre from Woodhay, where dwelt a long time that family of the Wilburhams knights in great reputation; also by Bulkeley and Cholmondley, which imparted their names to worshipfull houses of knights degree; not farre off on the one hand from Baddeley the habitation in times past of the ancient familie de Praeriis; of the other, from Cumbermer, in which William Malbedeng founded a little religious house. Where this river commeth to the South limit of this shire, it passeth through low places, wherein, as also elsewhere, the people finde often times and get out of the ground trees that have lien buried, as it is thought, there ever since Noahs floud. But afterwards, watering fruitful fields, he taketh to him out of the East a riveret by which standeth Wibbenbury, so called of Wibba King of the Mercians. Hard to it lie Hatherton, the seat in old time of the Orbeies, then of the Corbetts, but now of the Smithes; Dodington, the possession of the Delvesies; Batherton, of the Griphins; Shavinton, of the Wodenoths (who by that name may seeme to have descended of the English-Saxons), beside the places of other respective families wherewith this Country everywhere aboundeth. From thence runneth Wever downe by Nant-wich, not farre from Middlewith, and so to Northwich. These are verie famous Salt-wiches, five or six miles distant asunder, where brine or salt water is drawne out of pittes, which they powre not upon wood while it burneth, as the ancient Gaules and Germans were wont to doe, but boile over a fire to make salt thereof. Neither doubt I that these were knowne unto the Romans, and that from hence was usuallie paied the Custome for salt called salarium. For there went a notable high way from Middlewich to Northwich, raised with gravell to such an hight that a man may easilie acknowledge that it was a worke of the Romans, seeing that all this countrie over gravaile is so scarce, and from thence at this daie it is carried to private mens uses. Mathew Paris writeth that King Henrie the Third stopped up these Salt-pits when in hostile manner he wasted this shire, because the Welshmen, so tumultuous in those daies, should not have any victuals or provision from thence. But when the faire beames of peace beganne once to shine out, they were opened againe. Nantwhich, which the river Wever first visiteth, is reputed the greatest and fairest built towne of all this shire after Chester, the Britans call it Hellath wen, that is, The white Wich, or Salt pitte, because the whitest salt is there boiled, and such as writ in Latine named it Vicus Malbanus, haplie of one William named Malbedeng and Malbanc, unto whom at the Normans Conquest of England it was allotted. It hath one onely salt pitte, they call it the Brine pitte, about some foureteene foote from the river, out of which they convey salt water by troughes of wood into houses adjoyning, wherein there stand little barrels pitched fast in the ground, which they fill with that water, and that the ringing of a bell they beginne to make fire under leades; whereof they have sixe in everie house, and therein seeth [boil] the said water. Then certaine women, they call them Wallers, with little wooden rakes fetch up the salt from the bothom and put it in baskets, they call them Salt barowes, out of which the liquor runneth, and the pure salt remaineth. The Church (and but one they have) is passing faire, and belonged, as I have heard, unto the Abbay of Cumbermer. From hence Wever, holding on his course crooked enough, is augmented with a brooke comming out of the East, which runneth down from Crew, a place inhabited in old time by a notable familie of that name. And farther yet from the West side of the river, Calveley sheweth it selfe, which gave both habitation and name to the worthie familie of the Calveleys, out of which in the reigne of Richard the Second Sir Hugh Calvely Knight was for his chivalrie in France so renowned that there occurred no hardie exploit but his prowesse would goe through it. From thence Wever hieth apace by Minshull, the house of the Minshulls, and by Vale Roiall, an Abbay founded by King Edward the First in a most pleasant valley, where now dwelleth the ancient familie of the Holcrofts, unto Northwith, in British called Hellath Du, that is, The Black salt pitte: where also verie neere the broke of the river Dan there is a most plentifull and deepe Brine-pit, with staires made about it, by which they that draw water out of it in lether buckets ascend halfe naked into the troughes and powre it thereinto, by which it is carried into the wich houses, about which there stand on everie side many stakes and piles of wood. Here Wever receiveth into his chanell the river Dan, whose tract and streame I will now follow.
11. This Dan, or more trulie Daven, flowing out of those hils which on the East side sever Staffordshire from Cheshire, runneth along to Condate, a towne mentioned by Antonine the Emperour, now called corruptly Congleton, the middle whereof the little brooke Howty, on the East side Daning-shchow, and Northward Dan it selfe watereth. And albeit this towne for the greatnesse and frequencie thereof hath deserved to have a Maior and six Aldermen, yet hath it but a chappell and no more, and the same made of timber, unlesse it be the quire and a little Towre-steeple, which acknowledgeth Astbury, about two mile off, her mother-Church: which verily is a very faire Church, the West-porch whereof is equall in height to the very Church as high as it is, and hath a spire steepe adjoining thereto. In the Church-yard lie two portractures of Knights upon sepulchres, in whose shields are two Barres. But for that they be without their colours, hardly can any man say whether of the the Breretons, Manwarings, or Venables, which are the most notable families in those parts, and in deede such Barres doe they beare in their coates of armes, but in divers colours.
12. Then commeth Daven to Davenport, commonlie Damport, which hath adopted into her owne name a noble familie, and Holmeschappell, a towne well knowne to waifairing men, where within the remembrance of our Grandfathers John Needham built a bridge. Neere unto which at Rudheath there was sometimes a place of refuge and Sanctuary as well for the inhabitants of this shire as strangers who had trespassed against the lawes, that there they might abide in security for a yeere and a day. Then runneth it under Kinderton the old seat of the ancient race of the Venables, who ever since the first comming in of the Normans have bin of name and reputation here, and commonly are called Barons of Linderton. Beneath this Southward, the little river Croce runneth also into Dan, which flowing out of the Poole called Bagmere passeth by Brereton: which, as it has given name to the worshipfull, ancient and numerous familie of the Breretons knights, so Sir William Brereton knight hath of late added verie much credit and honour to the place by a magnificent and sumptuous house that hee hath there built. A wonder it is that I shall tell you, and yet no other than I have heard verified upon the credit of many credible persons, and commonlie beleeved: that before any heire of this house of the Breretons dieth, there bee seene in a poole adjoining bodies of trees swimming for certaine daies together. Like unto that which Leonardus Vairus reporteth from the testimonie of Cardinal Granvell, namely, that nere unto the Abbay of Saint Maurice in Burgundie there is a fish pond, in which are fishes put according to the number of the monkes of that place, and if any of them happen to be sicke there is a fish seene also to floate and swimme above the water halfe dead, and if the monke shall die, the said fish a few daies before dieth. As touching these matters, if they bee true, I wote not what to say, for I am no Wisard to interpret such strange wonders. But these and such like things are done either by the holie tutelar Angels of men, or else by the devils who by Gods permission mightilie shew their power in this inferiour world. For both the sorts of them being intelligent natures, upon a deliberate purpose and to some certaine end, and not for nought, worke strange things. The Angels seeke after and aime at the safetie and health of man-kind, the devils contrariwise plot to mischieve, vexe, or else to delude them. But all this may seeme impertinent to our purpose.
13. Croke the riveret aforesaid, being past Brereton, within a while after visiteth Middlewich, neere unto his confluence with Dan, where there bee two wells of salt water parted one from the other by a small broke, Sheathes they call them: the one stands not open, but at certaine set times, because folke willingly steale the water thereof, as beeing of greater vertue and efficacie. From hence runneth Dan to Bostoke, in times past Botestoc, the ancient seat of the familie of the Bostokes knights, which by the marriage with Anne onelie daughter of Raulph, sonne and heire to Sir Adam Bostoke knight, passed together with a verie great livelode [living] unto Sir John Savage. Out of this ancient house of the Bostoks, as out of a stock, sprung a goodlie number of the same name in Chesshire, Shroppshire, Barkshire and elswere. Whenas Dan, now beneath Northwich that I spake of, hath united his streame with Wever, then Wever runneth forthright and taketh in from the East Pever, that floweth hard by Pever and giveth it the name: where that ancient notable familie of Meinilwarin, commonlie Manewaring, is seated, out of which Raulph married the daughter of Hugh Kevelioc Earle of Chester, as appeareth by an old Charter in the custodie of Ranulph the heire now of the same house. From thence speedeth Wever by Winington, which gave both habitation and name to the ancient familie of the Winingtons, and not farre from Merbury, which being so called of a Mere [lake] under it, conferred likewise the name upon that respective ancient familie of the Merburies. Hence the river holdeth on his course neere unto Dutton, the inheritance of that great and worthie familie of Duttons who derive their descent from one Hudard, allied to the Earles of Chester, and who by an old order and custome have great authority over all the pipers, fidlers, and minstrels of this province, ever since that one of the Duttons, a yong gentleman full of spirit and active withall, having hastily gathered a tumultuary power of those kinde of people, valiantly delivered Ranulph the last Earle of Chester from danger when hee was beset with Welsh enemies. Neither must I passe over in silence Nether Whitley in this tract, out of which came the Tuschetts or Towchetts, who are now Barons Audley.
14. By this time Wever aforesaid, flowing betweene Frodesham a Castle of ancient note and Clifton, now Rock-Savage, an house of the Savages new built, who here by marriage attained to rich and faire revenewes, entreth at length into Mersey mouth. And this is so called of the river Mersey, which running as a bounder [border] betweene Chesshire and Lancashire, is there at length discharged into the sea, after it hath among other small townes of meaner note watered Stockport, which had sometime a Baron ‡of the Earles of Chester, and Warburgton so named of Saint Werburgh, the habitation of a familie thereof surnamed, but branched from the Duttons.‡ Hereby it interteineth the river Bollin out of that spatious forest of Maclesfield. Upon this Bollin standeth Maclesfield, one of the fairest townes of this Countie, which gave name unto that Forrest: where Thomas Savage, first Bishop of London and afterwards Archbishop of Yorke, built a colledge, wherein some of that race of the Savages lie entombed. Also Dunham, from which Sir Hamon of Mascy, by the Fittones and Venables descended hereditarily unto the familie of Booth. From thence Mersey commeth to Thelwall before it bee farre past Knotsford, that is, Canutus his foord, which is divided into the upper and the nether; also to Lee, from whence there is a familie bearing the same surname, that is not onely of gentle bloud and of especiall note, but also farre and fairely propagated into a number of branches. As for Thelwall, now it is an obscure village, but in times past a large towne built by King Edward the Elder and so called, as Florilegus witnesseth, of bodies of greens, the boughes being cut off, firmely fastened in the ground, wherewith hee walled it round. For the Saxons in their tongue called the Trunkes and bodies of Trees thel, and a Wall as wee doe now. At the verie mouth of the river standeth Runkhorne, founded in the same age by Lady Edelflede commonly called Elfled, and brought now by the mutability of Time to a few cottages. This Lady Edelfleda (to tell you at once, of whom I have oft made mention), sister to King Edward the Elder and wife to Etheldred, a pety king of the Mercians, after her husbands death governed the Mercians in most dangerous and troublesome times for eight yeeres with high commendation, touching whom these laudatory verses in praise of her we read in the history of Henry of Huntingdon:
O mighty Elfled, virgin pure, that men doest terrifie,
And nature passe, right worthy thou in name a man to be.
To grace thee more, dame Nature once thee shap’ d a maiden brave,
But vertue thee hath caused now the name of man to have.
It thee becoms, but thee alone, the name of Sex to change:
Of Great Queenes and triumphant Kings thou standeth in the range.
From Caesars triumphes for desert thou bear’ st away the bell,
No Caesar ever was they match. Thus, Manly maide, fare well.
15. Beneath Runckhorne, somewhat within the country, Haulton, the towne and Castle both shew themselves, which Hugh Lupus Earle of Chester gave unto Niel a Norman to be by tenure and service Constable of Chester: by whose posterity, through the variable chance of times, it is come unto the House of Lancaster. Neither would this be overpassed in silence, that William, the said Nieles sonne, founded the Abbay adjoining at Norton, which now appertaineth to the Broks of ancient descent. Whether I should place in this Shire nor elsewhere the Cangi, an ancient nation of Britaines, that have bene so much and so long sought for, I have as long and as much doubted. For continuance of time hath now so obscured them that hitherto by no footings [vestiges] they could be traced and found out. And albeit Justus Lipsius that Floure of exquisite learning taketh me for a Judge heerein, I frankly confesse I know not what judgement to give, and rather would I commend this office of judging to any other man than assume it to my selfe. Yet neverthelesse, if Ceangi and Cangi were the same (as why not?), it may be probable enough that they were seated in this tract. For whiles I perused these my labours, I understood by some of good credit that there were heere upon the very shore gotten out of the ground twenty sowes of lead long in forme, but foure square. On the upper part whereof in an holow surface is to be read this inscription:
IMP. DOMIT. AVG. GER. DE
But on the other:
IMP. VESP. VII T. IMP. V
Which monument seemeth to have beene erected for a victorie over the Cangi. Heere maketh also the very site of the Irish sea. For thus writeth Tacitus in the 12 booke of his Annales: Whiles Nero was Emperor, There was an armie led by Ostorius against the Cangi. The fields were wasted, booties raised every where, for that the enimies durst not come into the field. But if they attempted closely and by stealth to cut off the armie as it marched, they paid for their deceitful cunning. Now were they no sooner come neere unto the Sea-coast toward Ireland but certaine tumults and insurrections among the Brigantes brought the Generall backe. But by the inscription abovesaid, it should seeme that they were not subdued before Domitians time, and then by computation of the times, whenas that most warlicke Julius Agricola was Propretour on Britaine. Ptolomee likewise placeth the Promontorie Καγκάνων, that is of the Cangi, on this shore. Neither dare I seeke elsewhere than in this tract that Station Conganii, where in the declining estate of the Roman Empire, a Company or band called vigiles, that is, Watchmen, with their Captaine under the dux Britanniae kept watch and ward. Notwithstanding I leave to every man for me his owne judgement heerein, as in all things else of this nature.
16. Touching the Earles, that I may passe over the English-Saxons, Earls only by office and not by inheritance, King William the First created Hugh surnamed Lupus, son to the Vicount of Auranches in Normandy, the first hereditary Earle of Chester and Count-Palatine, and gave unto him and his heires all this county to be holden as freely by his sword as the King himselfe held England by his Crowne (for these are the words of the Donation): who forthwith appointed under him these Barons, viz., Niele Baron of Haulton, whose posterity afterwards tooke the name of Lacies, for that the Lacies inheritance had fallen unto them, and were Earles of Lincolne; Robert Baron of Mont-hault, Seneschall of the Countie of Chester, the last of whose line, having no issue, ordained by heires William Malbedeng Baron of Malbanc, whose nephewes daughters by marriage brought the inheritance to the Vernons and Basses; Richard Vernon Baron of Shipbroke, whose inheritance for default of heires males in the end came by the sisters unto the Wilburhams, Staffords, and Littleburies; Robert Fitz-Hugh Baron of Malpas, who, as it seemeth, died, as I said before, without issue; Hamon de Mascy, whose possessions descended to the Fittons of Bollin; Gilbert Venables Baron of Kinderton, whose posterity in the right line have continued and flourished unto these our daies; Nicholas Baron of Stockeport, to whom at length the Warrens of Pinton, budded out of the honorable family of the Earles of Warren and Surrie, in right of marriage succeeded. And these were all the Barons of the Earles of Chester that ever I could hitherto find, who, as is written in an old booke, had their free Courts of all Plees and Suits or Complaints, except those Plees which belong unto the Earles sword. And their office was to assist the Earle in Counsell, to yeeld him dutifull attendance, and often times to repaire unto his Court for to doe him honor, and, as we find in old parchement records, Bound they were in time of warre in Wales to find for every Knights fee one horse with caparison and furniture or else two without, within the Divisions of Cheshire. Also, that their Knights and Freeholders should have Corslets and Haubergeons, and defend their Foes by their owne bodies.
17. After Hugh, the first Earle beforesaid, succeeded Richard his sonne, who in his tender yeares perished by ship-wracke together with William the onely sonne of King Henrie the First and other noble men, betweene Normandie and England in the yeere 1120. After Richard succeeded Ranulph de Meschines the third Earle, sonne to the sister of Earle Hugh, and left behind him his sonne Ranulph, named de Gernoniis, the fourth Earle of Chester, a warlicke man, and who at the siege of Lincolne tooke King Stephen Prisoner. Hugh surnamed Kevlioc his sonne was the fifth Earle, who died in the yeere 1181. and left his sonne Ranulph named de Blundevill the sixth Earle; who after he had built the Castles of Chartley and Beeston, and the Abbay also De la Cresse, died without children, and left foure sisters to be his heires, Maude the wife of David Earle of Huntingdon, Mabile espoused to William D’ Albeney Earle of Arundell, Agnes married to William Ferrars Earle of Darby, and Avis wedded to Robert de Quincy. After Ranulph the sixth Earle, there succeeded in the Earldome John surnamed the Scot, the sonne of Earle David by the said Maude the eldest daughter. Who being deceased likewise without any issue, King Henrie the Third, casting his eie upon so faire and large an inheritance, laid it unto the Domain of the Crowne, and assigned other revenewes elsewhere to the heires, not willing, as the King himselfe was wont to say, that so great an estate should be divided among distaves. And the Kings themselves in person, after that this Earldome came into their hands, for to maintaine the honor of the Palatineship, continued here the ancient rights and Palatine Priviledges and Courts, like as the Kings of France did in the Country of Champan. Afterward, this honor of Chester was deferred upon the Kings eldest sonnes, and first unto Edward, King Henrie the Third his sonne: who being taken prisoner by the Barons and kept in ward delivered it up for his ransome unto Simon Montfort Earle of Leicester. But when Simon was soone after slaine, it returned quickly againe unto the bloud Royall, and King Edward the Second summoned his eldest sonne, being but a child, unto the Parliament by the titles of Earles of Chester and Flint. Afterwards, King Richard the Second by authority of the Parliament made it of an Earldome a Principality, and to the same Principality annexed the Castle of Leon with the territories of Bromfield and Yale, Chircke Castle with Chirckeland, Oswalds-street Castle, the whole hundred and eleven towns belonging to that castle, with the castles of Isabell and Delaley and other goodly lands, which, by reason that Richard Earle of Arundel stood then proscript and outlawed, had bin confiscate unto the Kings eschequer, and King Richard himselfe was stiled Prince of Chester. But within few yeeres after, that title vanished away, after that King Henrie the Fourth had once repealed the lawes of the said Parliament, and became againe a County or Earldome Palatine, and at this day retaineth the jurisdiction Palatine, and for the administration thereof it hath‡ a Chamberlaine who hath all jurisdiction of a Chancellour within the said Countie Palatine, a Justice for matters in Common plees and plees of the Crowne, to be heard and determined in the said County,‡ two Barons of the Exchequer, Sergeants at Lawe, a Shiriffe, an Attourney, an Eschetour &c. ‡And the inhabitants of the said County for the enjoying of their liberties were to pay at the change of every owner of the said Earldome a summe of money (about 3000 markes) by the name of a Mize, as the Countie of Flint, being a parcell thereof, about 2000 markes, if I have not bin mis-informed.
This County containeth about 86 Parishes.
18. Now have I superficially surveied the regions of the Cornavii, which together with the Coritani, Dobuni, and Catuellani made that Kingdome in the Saxons Heptarchie which they called Myrenaric and Mearclond, the Latine writers Mercia of mearc, an old English word that signified a Limite, for all the other Kingdomes bordered and confined upon it. This was the largest Kingdome by farre of all the rest, begun by Crida the Saxon about the yeere of our Lord 586, augmented by Penda, who extended the marches thereof every way, and within a while after instructed in Christian religion. But having come to the full period, within the revolution of 250 yeeres, fell at last into the dominion of the West-Saxons, after that the Danes had spoiled, weakned, and wasted it many yeeres in all maner of barbarous hostility.
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