THE PROVENCIAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
XIV.--TRE WEST DOWNS AND THE VALLEY OF THE SEVERN THE CITLES AND TOWNS.
ONE of the most important of the Raman cities of Britain was that which was called variously CORINCUM, Duno-Cour- enuse, and Duito-Coitxovirrli. The name is evidently derived from the River Corp:, now called the Churn, on which the town stands, and which, rising in the Cotswold Hills, falls into the Thames near Cricklade. Some antiquaries derive the more Coryn from a Keltie word for " top," and say it was so designated as being one of the head streams or sources of the Thames. Der, as we have already seen, in Keltic meant water. As we have intimated, numerous Roman remains have been found in and near this town, and here the Foss Way, Irmine Street, and Ikenild Way meet. From antiquarian discoveries it appears that the old Roman city extended beyond the medieval town of Circestre at its south- east side, and was enclosed by a wall and a ditch, the circumference of which was upwards of two miles. Leland, in Henry VIII.'s reign, observes that "a man may yet, walking on the bank of the Churn, evidently perceive the compass of the foundation of towers sometime standing in the wall. And near to the place where the right goodly clothing mill was set up a late by the Abbot, was broken down the ruin of an old tower, toward making of the mill walls, in the which place was found a quadrate stone, fallen down there, but broken in many pieces, wherein was a Roman inscrip- tion, of the which one scantily lettered, that saw it, told me that he might perceive PONT. Ku. In the south south-west side of the wall by likelihood lath been a castle, or some other great building. The hills and ditches still remain." Among other remains, the antiquary, Sir Robert Atkyu, mentions a building under ground, " fifty feet long and forty broad, and about four feet high, supported by 100 brick pillars, inlaid very curiously with tesseraic work, with stones of divers colours, little bigger than dice." A flue mosaic pavement with coins was dug up in 1723. Numerous other tesselated pavements have been since discovered, some of great beauty, and with theother remains testi- fying to the greatness and magnificence of old Corinium, "the City of the Head-Water."
We have no reliable record of the transfer of Corinium from British to Saxon rule. It must, from the importance and natural strength of its position, it being half encompassed by water, and commanding the roads to Aquae Sells, Glevain, and both the East and West of England, have played a leading part in the protracted struggles which followed the termination of the Roman domination ; and we have already intimated our opinion that its neighbour- hood may have been the scene of the great contest of ftadonicua Mons, which postponed for so many years the establishment of the West Saxon Principality ; and the remains of the great Roman entrenched camp a few miles from the present town may have been connected with this memorable siege, which ended in the discomfiture of the Saxons and the ascendancy of Ambroaiva, the true King Arthur. There is a strange story told in a printed account of the year 1685, of an entry being discovered into the heart of a hill within two miles of Cirencester, which led to numerous chambers, in which were Roman inscriptions and coins of the Emperors, and in the innermost of which was the figure of a man, seeming from the insignia at his feet to be a Roman General, with a truncheon in his hand and a lamp burning before him. This image struck at the intruders at every step they made, and ultimately smashed the lamp, and extinguished the light. In the room lay two embalmed heads. Being frightened at a deep groan, the explorers fled, and the hill immediately fell in said buried again the mysterious apartments. This may have been a distorted account of a real occurrence or a complete invention ; but a romantic reader may, if he likes, identify the Roman General with the last national hero of Roman Britain, Ambroaiva Aure- lianus. On falling into the hands of the Saxons, Circestre became a frontier town between the principalities of Wessex and Marcia; and the scene of frequent struggles between these rival States. Ac- cording to the Saxon Chronicle, Fends, the pagan King, struggled for its possession in 628 with Cynegils of Wessex. " Both armies having fought desperately till separated by the darkness, were, when about to renew the contest on the following morning, so dis- heartened by the mutual havoc, that terms of reconciliation were easily agreed to." Penda's eldest son and successor of the same name is said to have obtained possession of Circestre (as it is called in Domesday) in the year 656, and it became part of the kingdom of Mercia. We lose sight of it from this period till the reign of Alfred of the West Saxons. It was they in the possession of the Northmen, and after the defeat given to them by Alfred in Wiltshire, in 879. (on hiivmerginglfrom Atbelney) they retired to Cirencester, and held it for another year, after which they abandoned it and retired into East Anglia. Canute held a great council h ?re in 1020. In the reign of Stephen it was taken and retaken several times by the King, or his great opponent, Robert, Earl of Gloucester. The Barons held the castle here against Henry III., but it was taken and destroyed by order of the King. The town still remained a place of strength. King John assembled an army here in the sixteenth of his reign, and Edward II. kept his Christmas here in 1322. When the conspiracy of the Duke of Albemarle (Shakespeare's Aumerle), son of the Duke of York, against Henry IV. to restore Richard II. was discovered, many of the conspirators with their army retreated to Cirencester, the chiefs quartering in the town and their forces being encamped outside. The inhabitants, however, assembled to the number of 400, under their Bailiff, with a body of archers, and, seizing the gates, attacked the rebel noblemen, and captured and executed the Duke of Surrey and Earl of Salisbury, the army outside, dis- mayed at the sudden uproar in the town, dispersing in a panic. The cause of this prompt decapitation of the prisoners is said to have been the setting on fire of some of the houses in the town by some of the followers of these noblemen. King Henry, in reward for this service, granted the citizens of Cirencester all the property of the conspirators found in the town,—except plate, jewels, and money !—together with four does in season from Bradon Forest and a hogshead of wine from Bristol yearly to the men ; and six bucks and a hogshead of wine yearly to the women ; these grants to be revokable at pleasure. The astute King, however, granted Cirencester other and more valuable privileges than these. He made the town a distinct hundred in itself, and a corporate town, with a mayor, two constables, and others the commonalty, for the encouragement of trade, by the execution of the Statute Merchant, a Court of Staple for merchandise being granted to the town. This charter of incorporation, how- ever, in the reign of Elizabeth was cancelled. The hundred was afterwards divided into seven wards, the Steward of the Manor annually appointing two high constables, and also two petty con- stables for each ward, with the other necessary officers. Formerly much wool was brought here for sale from Berkshire, N orth- amptonshire, and Oxfordshire, but afterwards this was supplanted by the practice of travelling woolstaplers. It was also, with Gloucester, the only manufacturer of curriers' knives, had a carpet manufactory, and a company of weavers. Now, it possesses little trade, but is a small market town for the surrounding agricultural district. The borough sent representatives to a great council in the reign of Edward III., but its first regular return to Parliament was in 1571, the right of election being in all resident householders not receiving parish relief, and it still returns two members. There was a College for Prebendaries in the Saxon times, to which Edward the Confessor made a grant, but we know nothing further respecting it. Its endowments seem to have been granted to the abbey founded here in 1117 by Henry I. The abbey church was built in Henry VI.'s reign. It was pulled down by Royal man- date, its site being granted to Robert Bassinge by Henry VIII. on the dissolution of the monasteries, and so com- pletely was the destruction, that no traces of the church remained in modern times, and of the abbey buildings only the gates and a barn. The manor was part of the Royal demesne, and was granted by Richard I. to the abbey. After the dissolution it passed through various families, among others that of Danvers, Earl of Denby, until in 1695 it was sold to Sir Benjamin Bathurst, ancestor of the present Earl Bathurst (of Oakley Grove, to the west of Cirencester), whose influence now predominates in the borough. The inhabitants were staunch Parliamentarians in Charles I.'s reign, and the town was considered the key of Glouces- tershire. It was strongly fortified, but was taken by storm by Prince Rupert on the 2nd of February, 1643, and given up to plunder. The borough member, Mr. John George, was one of the prisoners taken. The town was afterwards retaken by the Earl of Essex. After the Restoration, the Duke of Beaufort's influence seems to have predominated, and it was the scene of the capture of Lord Lovelace on his march to join the Prince of Orange. The popula- tion is now about 6,400.
Duallovanta became part of the West Saxon Principality as Dorncestre, and for a time the seat of a bishopric. It had two mints granted it by Athelstan, sent members to Parliament in the twenty-third of Edward I., claims a prescriptive incorporation, and has a charter as early as Edward III. It was nearly destroyed by fire in 1613. It was the scene of several conflicts in the reign of Charles I., being strongly Parliamentarian, but falling into the hands of the Cavaliers, it was again recovered by the Parlia-
ment. Here Judge Jeffries held one of his " Bloody Assize " Courts after Monmouth's rebellion. It is a small but not an un- prosperous town, its chief modern trade being in beer and butter. The remains of its glory during the Roman period are among the most interesting of the relics of those days.
The city called by the Saxons " WituccicsritE,"—the present Worcester,—appears, as we have befo re stated, to have been built on the site of a Roman military station, the name of which is lost,. and which was a border town to the iron district, and the Seat of forges. It must have been for some time the furthest Roman station in this direction, and its neighbourhood the scene of many fierce struggles between the countrymen of Caractacus and the in- vaders. It became during the Saxon invasions the capital of the kingdom of the Hwiccas, and perhaps was always governed by separate kings or dukes and earls, in conjunction with its bishops; down to the consolidation of England under the successors of Alfred.. We have mentioned its rising against the Danes in 1041, during Hardicanute's reign, and its punishment by the Dano-Saxon Earls. It had been destroyed by the Danes in their earlier invasions, and rebuilt in 894 by Ethelred. It soon recovered also from its second destruction. In 983 Oswald, the Bishop, rebuilt the cathedral. This building was again destroyed by fire, and rebuilt in 1084. Twice more it suffered from the same element, and then remained for sixteen years in a dilapidated condit ion. It was restored and reopened in 1281, and this was the nucleus of the present cathe-: dral. We have seen how the city suffered during the struggles between the Saxons and the Welsh in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and that it then formed part of the Earldom of Mercia, under the family of Leofric. It was a flourishing place at the Norman Conquest, though only eight burgesses belonging to. it are recorded in Domesday. But we have observed already that this was a survey for only special purposes of geld, &c. The city was again destroyed by fire in 1113 and 1133, and again. rebuilt, and six years after the latter date sacked and burnt by the troops of the Empress Maud. In 1149 Stephen's party retook R- and again burnt it, but the destruction in all these cases must have been partial, though considerable, for in 1157 Henry II. was crowned (for the third time) in Worcester Cathedral. Hither, at his own, request, the body of King John was removed and buried. In 1216 the city was taken and plundered by the Royal forces under the Earl of Chester, and in 1263 by the Barons under the Earl of Derby. In 1265 Prince Edward first raised his standard here against Simon de Montfort before the Evesham campaign, and after his. accession he frequently visited the city, and held a Parliament there. Worcester suffered much from the great pestilences by which England was visited in the middle of the fourteenth cen- tury, and its position so near the Welsh frontier always exposed. it to perils of another kind. In 1401, for instance, it was plun- dered by Owen Glendower's army. During the Wars of the Roses. Worcester seems to have been Yorkist in its feelings, and to have adhered to Richard III., perhaps through dislike of the Welsh pedigree and Welsh supporters of his rival, the Earl of Richmond_ Onthis account several of the citizens were beheaded at the High Cross on the accession of the latter as Henry VII., and the town had to pay a fine of 500 marks. Queen Elizabeth came here in. 1574, and it is recorded that when she stopped her horse by St. Nicholas' churchyard, and looked towards the church, the people cried, "God save your Grace 1" on which the great Queen. threw up her cap, and exclaimed, " I say, God save you all, my good people ! "—not a bad epitome of the general relations between the Tudor sovereign and the English nation. In 1637 another great pestilence swept off 1,551 of the inhabitants in six months.. The city was a prize fiercely contested between the two parties dur- ing the civil wars of Charles I., but seems, on the whole, to have leant towards the Royal party. Its capture by Prince Rupert was the first important incident of the first Civil War. It was retaken by the Parliament, again recaptured by the Royalists, and became the head-quarters of Rupert in the latter part of the year 1644- and the months preceding the battle of Naseby. In 1646 it finally surrendered to Sir William Brereton. It was once more occupied by the King of Scots in his unfortunate campaign of 1651, and the battle of which " the faithful city" became the scene on that. occasion is a leading event in the history of England. The Mayor- and Corporation are said to have refused to attend James II. further than the door of the Roman Catholic chapel.
The Anglo-Norman city was incorporated in the reign of Henry I., a Constable being the chief officer. By a charter of the forty-fifth of Henry III. two Bailiffs were substituted for the Constable. A Mayor was first appointed in 1620. The borough first sent members to Parliament in 1295. The city at one time- was a great seat of broad-cloth manufacture. A. Society of Broad-
Cloth Makers was incorporated in the second year of Henry VIII., and the trade grew so rapidly that Leland in the latter end of that reign tells us that ".no town in England maketh so many cloths yearly as this town doth." This prosperity, however, was abused, first of all, in the reign of Henry VIII. The inhabitants of Worcester, Evesham, Droitwich, Kidderminster, and Bromsgrove called out for protection against the farmers, husbandmen, and others who occupied themselves in the mysteries of cloth-making, and they procured an Act prohibiting the cloths to be made for sale in the county except in those towns. Thus secured, the workmen would only make a thick, heavy broad-cloth, at a time when the Turks chose rather a thin, spongy cloth, which took a brighter dye, and the manufacturers systematically stretched their cloths so much, that when they came to Broad-Cloth Hall or Turkey they wanted much of their measure. From causes such as these soon after the Revolution the trade began to decline, and at last dwindled to nothing. Worcester is now chiefly famous for its porcelain manufacture—" Worcester ware." It is also the great hop market for the West of England. In Elizabeth's reign the number of resident families was 1025. In the civil wars of Charles I., the inhabitants numbered 7,176 ; in 1,779 the town and suburbs numbered 13,104 ; at the last census there were 31,227 inhabitants within the city limits.
Inc site now occupied by the city of BRLSTOL cannot be proved to be mentioned in any of the Roman Itineraries, but they, and perhaps the Britons before them, had several fortified positions along and near the Avon, and one of these, at the present Clif-
ton Hill, is supposed by antiquaries to have been the mother
town. from which Bristol sprang. The Welsh chronicles call this town Caer-Oder, the Fortress of the Chasm, and it may have been
of British origin, anterior to the Roman conquest. Very probably, however, it was one of the fortified positions erected by the Roman General Ostorius along the Avon, to defend his newly acquired territory, about the year 47. Whether the site of the present Bristol was ever occupied' by any inhabitants in the time of the .Romans is quite uncertain, the chief argument arising from Roman coins of the reign of Constantine, &c., having beed dug up at St. Michael's Hill and elsewhere within the city limits. In the Saxon conquest there was probably a border fortress to the terri- tory of the Hwiccas answering to Bristol. If so, it became part
of the kingdom of Muda when the Hwiccas bowed to its supre-
macy. The earliest Bristol record connects it with Aylward; the governor of the Honour of Gloucester in the reign of Athelstan,
he and his son, Brithric, being called Lords of BRIGHTSTOWE and one of the streets of Bristol was originally called Aylward
Street. We have already mentioned Harold's fleet starting from " Bricestowe." The original town seems to have been enclosed in
walls, within which were only four cross streets in the middle, and two others connected with them. At the epoch of Domesday Book it was already a walled town and a Royal burgh, the govern- ment being vested in a irepositor ; and Hardyng, a wealthy merchant (perhaps of Danish descent), held this office at the epoch of the Conquest. He is the ancestor of the Berkeleys. Besides this civil officer, the governor of the castle exercised chief authority. One Geoffrey held it for Robert of Normandy during the struggles for the crown at that time. In the reign of Stephen the castle was made one of the strongest fortresses in the kingdom, and Bristol became a sort of metropolis for the Angevin party during the civil war which ensued, young Prince Henry residing and being partly educated here. It was then an important seaport town for ships from Ireland, Norway, and other countries. Henry IL, in 1175, resumed it from the Earl into whose possession it had fallen, and he also in 1164 gave it a charter, which was followed by one from Richard in 1190. In the reign of Henry III., that King during a Royal visit granted the town the right of choosing a mayor and two prepositors (corresponding to bailiffs or sheriffs). During the civil war of that period, Prince Edward, who had come to Bristol, was made a prisoner there, but after the defeat at Evesham the castle surrendered, and the townsmen obtained a pardon. The trade had now so exceeded the capabilities of the site, that the citizens resolved to cut a new channel for the Avon, and completed it about the year 1247 ; and then Redcliff, on the Somersetehire side of the Avon, was united to Bristol. This, how- ever, brought the citizens into collision with the Lords of Berkeley, the descendants of Hardyng, who had feudal jurisdiction in Red- cliff, and the succeeding century is the record of a series of struggles in which now the city, now the baron, prevailed. During this contest, the city was held in defiance of the Royal authority for four years, beginning in 1311. It was then reduced by the Royal forces, aided by the Baron of Berkeley, who took severe vengeance on his enemies. The rebellion sprang out of a contest between an
exclusive party in the city who arrogated all the offices to themselves and the other burgesses. Among other marts of commerce estab- lished at Bristol was a woolstaple, formed there in Edward II.'s reign, and at this period the city was formally exempted from any feudal jurisdictions and imposts. In 1442 Bristol was ordered to furnish two out of the eight ships to " keep the seas " continually ; and twelve years later, it lent 1501. towards fitting out a fleet for the protection of trade, London advancing 3001. In the reign of Edward IV., William Canynges, a wealthy citizen of Bristol, is recorded to have employed for the space of eight years 800 seamen, and every day 100 artificers. In the reign of Henry VII. the city possessed a Recorder, with like authority to that of London. Sebastian Cabot, the early voyager of this period, was a citizen of Bristol, from which city he started on his New-World voyage. Henry VIII. founded a new bishopric here from the spoils of a suppressed Augustinian monastery, close to the city. It had formerly been part of the diocese of Salisbury. It contributed towards the fleet to oppose the Spanish Armada, was taken and retaken in the reign of Charles I. by each of the contending parties, leaning in itself, on the whole, to the Royal side. The Protector demolished the castle in 1656.
Soon after the Revolution the jurisdiction of the city was ex- tended four miles further up the Avon. The riots in 1793 (called the Bridge Riots), and the more serio us Wetherell or Reform Riots in 1831, are among the few remaining incidents of Bristol history. The Corporation of Bristol became, as was the case in so many places, a strictly close body, and it owes its decline from its early position as the second port in the kingdom in no small measure to this circumstance. The excessive port dues drove away the trade to London, Liverpool, Hull, and Gloucester; nor did the citizens awake to the necessity of retrieving this fatal error till the injury had become beyond repair. It is still, however, a very consider- able port, and may increase still more, if the citizens will act in time according to the spirit of the age, and not, as they formerly did, postpone all improvements and accommodation to merchants and others to the last possible moment. At present the city must be content with the secondary position to which her own inertness and want of public spirit have reduced her. Bristol has been a Parliamentary borough since 1295.
An abbey dedicated to the Virgin Mary was founded at EOVESIIAM in the eighth century, and the town appears to have been of some importauce during the Saxon period. Daorrwfou is supposed by some to have been of Roman origin. It was a populous place at the time of the Norman Conquest, and was made a free borough by King John. Such must be our limited selection of examples of the civic and borough history of this Province.