ELLESMERE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1824.
"ELLESMERE, a parish and market town, in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill, a vicarage remaining in charge, in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, the deanery of Salop, and archdeaconry of Salop. 1,143 houses, 6,056 inhabitants. 17 miles north north-west of Shrewsbury. 176 miles north-west of London. LAT. 52, 56 N. LON. 2, 59 W.
Ellesmere takes its name from a mere, or great lake in its neighbourhood. It is a town of Saxon origin, and was formerly called Aelsmere, or the greatest mere; the lake that washes it being of the extent of 101 acres [some say 116 acres]. Ael in compositions prestantiam vel plenitudeuem denotat: mere stagnum quod instar maria exigui se praebet [Ael in composition signifies excellence, or fullness; and mere, a lake resembling, as it were, a little sea]. Though some derive the name from the abundance of eels in that water.
In the time of Edward the confessor, 'Edwinus comes tenuit Ellesmeres,' which, in Domesday, Earl Roger held. In the year 1177, 'The King (Henry the second of course) went to Oxford, and among other grants, there is one to David, the son of Owen, 'de North Wales, terram de Ellesmar.' Owen having married the King of England's sister, Robert Lupus held 'Manerium de Ellesmar per balivum Johannis Regis.' In the sixth of John, the King gave the castle and manor of Ellesmere, in frank marriage with his daughter Joan, to Llewellyn, Prince of North Wales; but in the tenth of John, four years afterwards, Bartholomew Turoc, the governor, was commanded, on his allegiance, to put the place into the possession of William Earl of Salisbury, the King's brother, and Thomas de Erdington, 'quia volumus quod illud custodiant: teste meipso apud Warwick 18 die Decembris;' [Because it is our pleasure that they should keep it. Witness, my hand, at Warwick, the 18th of December] so that the King reserved the disposal of the castle, this being a frontier town and of some importance to the marches, and consequently, not to be disposed of to the Prince of Wales, and left entirely in his power. It is supposed he had only the rents and profits arising from the tenants.
In the fourth of Henry the third, Roger Le Strange yielded up to the King the inheritance of the manors of Colemere and Hampton, and received, in consideration of the same, the said manors again, 'cum castro et hundredo de Ellesmar ad vitam tantum.' [With the castle and hundred of Ellesmere, for his life only.] In the twenty first year of Henry the third, John Le Strange was governor of the castle. In the twenty fifth year of Henry the third, David, son of Llewellyn late Prince of Wales, by his charter in writing, surrendered up Ellesmere to the crown of England, after which we hear no more of its being in the hands of the Welsh.
The continual skirmishes between the English and Welsh made the tenure of Ellesmere very precarious; and though Henry the second, and King John, being embroiled in foreigu wars, gave this town and castle in dower, the first with a sister, and the latter with a natural daughter, by Agatha de Ferrars, the Earl of Derby's daughter, in order to conciliate the ancient animosities of both people, yet upon the slightest appearance of a rupture, these Kings might, and did resume at pleasure, or gave what recompense they thought fit upon the seizure, and such as the Princes of Wales, holding upon their good behaviour, were glad to receive.
In the thirty seventh of Henry the third, the manor and hundred of Ellesmere were committed to John de Grey, paying a fine of ten shillings a year, In the forty third of Henry the third, Peter Montfort was governor of Ellesmere castle. In the fifty first of Henry the third, the manor, castle, and hundred, were granted to Hamon Le Strange, and his heirs, 'donec sibi et haeredibus provisum erat de escheatis ad c. librarum per annum.' [Till he and his heirs should be provided for to the amount of one hundred a year, out of the feodritares]. This Hamon was a younger son of the first John, Lord Le Strange of Knockin. In the fourteenth year of Edward the second, Oliver de Ingleham, who adhered so firmly to the King upon the insurrection of the Earl of Lancaster, and other lords, was governor of this castle, In the third of Edward the third, a writ was issued to see after the encroachments on this manor, and settle the boundaries, which being done, the King gave the castle of Ellesmere, with the hamlets of Colemere and Hampton, to the Lord Eubule Le Strange in fee, who, dying- left the saws to Roger Le Strange de Knockin, sen., his cousin, and next heir. Richard, his son and heir, who was found to be cousin and heir to Philippa, Duchess of York, his mother's sister, died the twenty seventh of Henry the sixth, and after his death, Elizabeth, his relict, married Roger Kynaston, Esq., her dower being the manors of Nesse Strange, Kinton, Colemere, hamlet of Hampton, hamlet of Knockin, 'castrum et dominium de Ellesmar,' and the castle of Middle. John, son of Richard, died the seventeenth of Edward the fourth, who having issue, Joan his sole daughter and heir, married George, son and heir apparent to Thomas Stanley, the first Earl of Derby of that name, in whose family it remained for four descents, when William, Earl of Derby, had license the forty second of Elizabeth, to make an alienation of the manor of Ellesmere to Richard Spencer, Esq., and Edward Savage, who, the subsequent year, obtained the Queen's pardon for the alienation, 'quam fecere Thomae Egerton custodi magni sigilli' (which they had made to Thomae Egerton, Knight, keeper of the Great Seal;) afterwards created Lord Chancellor and Baron of Ellesmere. In his family it still remains.
In the sixth of James, George Onslow Esq., alienated the manor of St. John of Jerusalem (Welshampton) 'infra villam et parochiam de Ellesmere,' to Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Ellesmere. The most ancient freehold of the manor was Ockley, or Ottley; the noble and ancient seat of the Kynastons, [now the residence of Lady Tarns. The house appears to be very old, and stands low, but the park is a very fine one, having perhaps the greatest quantity of elm trees to be seen in any part of England.] of which family there have been several Knights, who have borne tbe highest offices of which gentlemen in a private capacity are capable, particularly the ingenious and learned Francis Kynaston, Esq., Knight of the body to Charles the first, and celebrated for his translation of Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida, into Latin.
By statute the twenty seventh of Heury the eighth, Ellesmere cum membris was united to the hundred of Pimhill. In the fortieth year of Elizabeth, the Queen gave license to Sir Edward Kynaston, Knight, to keep a market on Tuesday, and a fair. But the account given by Leland of this town is that it had four streets, and no market. None of the ruins of the castle are left [it was destroyed in the seventeenth century, during the sage of the civil war]; but the eminence on which the keep stood discovers that it has been an ancient fort.
Ellesmere is an elegant little town and is rendered exceeding beautiful by the fine wood fringed lake, which comes close to its walls. It has a good market, and the chief trade of the town is in malting and tinning.
On the castle hill (formerly the keep) there is one of the finest bowling greens in the kingdom, from which there is an extensive prospect of nine different counties.
The church of Ellesmere is a spacious, but irregular, cruciform building. In the centre is a handsome square tower, adorned with pinnacles. The tracery of the great eastern window is highly beautiful. In a chapel, south of the chancel, is an ancient tomb of the Kynaston's of Hordley. The ceiling of this part is highly adorned with Gothick fretwork.
Market on Tuesday. Fairs, February 2, the third Tuesday in April, Whit Tuesday, August 26, and November 14. The second is a great fair for barren cows.
Francis Egerton, third Duke of Bridgwater, is deserving of notice in this place, as having been possessed of huge estates in Ellesmere, and its neighbourhood; and at being distinguished for his publick spirit, and for the vast plans he formed and executed for the improvement of his estates. The noble duke possessed an estate at Worsley, about 7 miles from Manchester, rich in mines of coal, from which he derived little or no advantage, on account of the expense which attended the conveyance of this article by land carriage, to a suitable market for consumption. Fully apprized of the utility of a canal from Worsley to Manchester, he consulted Mr. Brindley on the subject; who, having surveyed the country, declared the scheme to be practicable. Accordingly, his grace obtained, in the years 1758 and 1759, an act of parliament for this purpose; and Mr. Brindley was employed in the conduct and execution of the undertaking,- the first of the kind ever attempted in England, with navigable subterranean tunnels and elevated aqueducts. At the commencement of the business it was determined that the level of the water should be preserved without the usual obstruction of locks. But in accomplishing this object, many difficulties occurred; and it was soon found that it would be necessary to carry the canal over rivers and many deep valleys, and that it would not be easy to obtain a sufficient supply for completing the navigation. However, Mr. Brindley, patronized by the duke, and furnished with ample resources, persevered, and at length conquered all the embarrassments occasioned by the nature of the undertaking, and by the passions and prejudices of individuals. Having completed the canal as far as Barton, where the river Irwell is navigable for large vessels, he proposed to carry it over that river by an aqueduct 39 feet above the surface of the water. This was considered as a chimerical and extravagant project; and an eminent engineer, who was consulted on the occasion, ridiculed the attempt. 'I have often heard' said he, 'of castles in the air, but never before was shewn where any of them were to be erected.' The duke of Bridgwater was not discouraged; but confiding in the judgment of Mr. Brindley, empowered him to prosecute the work; and in about 10 months the aqueduct was completed. This astonishing work commenced in Septemher, 1760, and the first boat sailed over it the 17th of July, 1761. The canal was then extended to Manchester, where Mr. Brindley's ingenuity in diminishing labour by mechanical contrivances was exhibited in a machine for landing coals upon the top of a hill. It is no wonder, that an object, so curious in itself, and of so great national importance, should have attracted general attention.
The duke of Bridgwater, having found by experience, the utility of these inland navigation, extended his views to Liverpool; and obtained, in 1762, an act of parliament for branching his canal to the tideway in the Mersey. This part is carried over the river Mersey and Bollan, and over many wide and deep valleys. Over the valleys it is conducted without a single lock; and across the valley at Stretford, through which the river Mersey runs, a mound of earth, raised for preserving the water, extends nearly a mile. In the construction of this mound Mr. Brindley displayed his mechanical genius, by rendering the canal itself subservient to his design, and by bringing the soil necessary for his purpose along the canal in boats, of a peculiar form, which were conducted into caissoons or cisterns; so that on opening the bottoms of the boats, the earth was distributed where it was wanted, and the valley was thus elevated to a proper level for continuing the canal. Across the Bollan the ground was raised by temporary locks formed of the timber used in the construction of the caissoons just mentioned. In the execution of every part of the navigation, Mr. Brindley displayed singular skill and ingenuity; and in order to facilitate his purpose, he produced many valuable machines. His economy and forecast, in every part of the work, deserve to be particularly noticed, and they are peculiarly discernable in the stops or floodgates, that are fixed in the canal, where it is above the level of the land. These stops are so constructed, that if any of the banks should give way and occasion a current, the adjoinieg gates will rise merely by that motion, and prevent any other part of the water from escaping, besides that which is near the breech between the two gates. The duke was born in 1736, and was the fifth son of the first duke. In 1748 he succeeded his brother in the family estates, and died, unmarried, in 1803."
" ASTLEY (NEWTON and SPOONBILL), a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill."
" BIRCH AND LYTH, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the hundred of Pimhill. 1 mile south of Ellesmere."
" COCKSHUT (and CROSEMERE), a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. Cockshut is chapel to Ellesmere, and is in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, the deanery of Salop, and archdeaconry of Salop. Cockshut is 4 miles, and Crosemere 3 miles, south-east of Ellesmere."
" COOLMERE, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the hundred of Pimhill. 2 miles east of Ellesmere."
" CRICKET, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 2½ miles west of Ellesmere."
" DUDLESTON (or DUDDLESTONE), a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry, a chapel to Ellesmere, in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, the deanery of Salop, and archdeaconry of Salop. 4 miles north-west of Ellesmere.
Dudleston is situated in the north-western extremity of the county, near the cross road, which connects the road from Ellesmere to Chirk, with that from Overton to the latter place; it has an elegant modern church, in the Gothick style, with painted gless windows, occupying the site of one more ancient; near the south side of the church is an ancient stone cross. An Irish Archbishop, who was taken ill and died whilst on a visit at Plas Warren, is interred within the church.
Dudleston is a perpetual curacy in the gift of the vicar of Ellesmere; the income arises from lands near Oswestry, purchased many years back, with a grant from Queen Ann's Bounty, and private subscriptions obtained by the family who then owned Kilhendre. Among the names appears that of the Hon. and Rev. Dr. Godolphin, Dean of St. Paul's, Sir Bridgman, the ancestor orthe Bradford family. The Church yard commands a highly diversified, and beautiful prospect: among the objects are Chirk Castle, the Welch Mountains, the Braxton Hills, the fine tower of Wrexham Church, and farther in the distance, the Towers of Chester,
About a quarter of a mile from the church, in a retired and beautifill valley; whose sides are covered with wood, not more than thirty years ago stood a very ancient mansion called Kilhendre. In the centre of the house was a chamber perfectly dark, into which you descended by steps, and the passages to which were hidden by tapestry; evidently appearing to have been intended as a place of concealment in cases of sudden danger. Some workmen employed in taking down part of the house, before the final demolition of the whole, discovered, beneath a flight of stone steps, an earthen jar, containing many pieces of leather money. This mansion, as appears by documents still extant, was in existence as far back as the reign of Edward the Second. Here Colonel John Jones, Governor of Dublin for some time, found a peaceful Asylum, after the death of Cromwell. He was a man of very ancient family, of most dignified appearance and venerable with age. He had been a very active and successful officer, was very high in Cromwell's estimation, and had received from him extensive grants of lands in Ireland.
About two miles from Dudleston the County terminates in an elevated and precipitous rock, called Coed-yr-Allt; commanding one of the finest prospects that can well he imagined. Deep below winds the Dee with its dark waters and rocky bed, its sides crowned with ancient woods of oak; recalling to the mind of the spectator, as well by its natural character, as by its deep and gloomy woods, having been the favourite haunt of the Druids and the most frequent scene of their mystical rites, Milton's epithet of sacred. The Dee is here joined by a considerable tributary stream, the Ceiriog, which flows beneath the Aqueduct at Chirk, and through the grounds of Bryn-kynn-Allt. These two rivers form the boundary for some miles between England and Wales. Other features in the landscape, are the Mansion and woods of Wynnstay; the highly beautiful grounds and woods of Nant-y-belan: the Aqueducts of Chirk and Pont-y-cysyllte, Chirk Castle, Bryn-cyn-Alt, the beautiful seat of Lord Dungannon, and Castel-dinas-brau, all backed by the Welch Mountains.
There is an air of wildness and solitude in the place; and those persons who are desirous of seeing Welch scenary without making an excursion into Wales, may there be fully gratified.
The gentlemen's seats in the neighbourboud of Dudleston are, Plas Yolyn, Plas Warren, Kilhendre, Sodylt Hall, Shellbrook Hill, and Knolton Hall.
" EASTWICK, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill."
" ELSON (or ELSTON), a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 1½ mile north-west of Ellesmere.
" FRANKTON (English), a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 5 miles south-east of Ellesmere."
" HARDWICK, a township in the parish of Ellesmere and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. The seat of the Rev. Sir Edward Kynaston, bart. 1½ mile south-west of Ellesmere."
" KENWICK, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimshill."
" KENWICK PARK, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhil. 3 miles south of Ellesmere."
" KENWICK WOOD, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 4 miles south of Ellesmere."
" LEE, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill."
" LEE, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the hundred of Pimhill."
" LINEAL (or LINIAL, or LYNEAL), a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 3 miles south-east of Ellesmere.
" MARTON. (New) A township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill.
[This article is given in the language of Dr. Bray's biographer, whose style, it is almost unnecessary to remark, is exceedingly vicious and obscure.]
" Doctor Thomas Bray, an eminent, learned, and pious Divine of the seventeenth century, was born at Marton in Shropsshire, in 1656. His parents who were persons of good reputation, discovering his promising parts, he was early sent to school at Oswestry, in the same county. His close application to school-learning soon qualified him for a removal, and determined his parents to dedicate him to religion and learning. Accordingly, he was entered of Hart-hall in Oxford. Here he soon made a considerable proficiency in Divinity, as well as in other studies necessary for the profession for which he was intended: but, labouring under the common disadvantages of a narrow fortune, his circumstances not permitting longer residence at Oxford, he left the university soon after he had commenced Bachelor of Arts. About this time he entered into holy orders, and the first parish in which Providence placed him to exercise his spiritual functions, was near Bridgnorth in Shropshire, his native county, from which curacy be soon removed into Warwickshire, officiating as Chaplain in Sir Thomas Price's family, of Park-hall, and had the donative of Lac Marsin given him by Sir Thomas, which proved a very advantageous change of situation for him; for living now in the neighbourhood of Coleshill, his exemplary behaviour, and distinguished diligence in his calling, introduced him to the acquaintance of Mr. Kettlewell, Sir Charles Holt, and the Lord Simon Digby. One incident which contributed to establish his character at this juncture, was his preaching the assize sermon at Warwick, on which occasion Mr. Bray, though but young, acquitted himself to the satisfaction of the whole audience, particulaily the Lord Digby, who was afterwards pleased to honour him with many proofs of his friendship and esteem, recommending him to the honourable patronage of his worthy brother, the late Lord Digby,who some time after gave him the vicarage of Over Whitacre in the same county, since augmented by the uncommon generosity of his patron who endowed it with the great tythes.
In the year 1690, the rectory of Sheldon being vacant; by the refusal of Mr. Digby Bull to take the oaths at the Revolution, his Lordship prompted Mr. Bray to it. This preferment he held till about a quarter of a year before his death, when be resigned it on account of his advanced age, and the known worth and abilities of his appointed successor. December 12, 1693, he took his degree of Master of Arts in Hart-hall, in the university of Oxford. In the parish of Sheldon he composed his Chatechetical Lectures, a work which met with general approbation and encouragement, the publication of which, the first fruits of his piety and learning, drew him out of his rural privacy to London, and introduced him into a more conspicuous and remarkable scene of action; for the reputation Mr. Bray had acquired by these Chatechetical Lectures, and the other shining qualities with which he adorned his function, immediately determined Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, to pitch upon him as a proper person to model the infant Church of Maryland, and establish it upon a solid foundation.
Accordingly, in April 1696, he proposed to Mr. Bray to go on the terms of having the judicial office of Commissary, valued, as was represented to him, at four hundred pounds per annum, conferred upon him, for his support in that service. Mr. Bray, disregarding his own interest, and the great profit which would have arisen from finishing his course of Lectures on the plan he had formed, soon determined, in his own mind, that there might be a greater field for doing good in the Plantations, than by his labours here. Being, therefore, always willing to be so disposed of in any station, as should appear most conducive to the service of God's Church, he no longer demurred to the proposal, than to enquire into the state of the country, and inform himself what was most wanting to excite good Ministers to embark in that design, as well as enable them most effectually to promote it. With this sort of view he laid before the Bishops the following considerations:- That none but the poorer sort of clergy could be persuaded to leave their friends, and change their native country for one so remote; that such persons could not be able sufficiently to supply themselves with books; that without such a competent provision of books, they could not answer the design of their mission;- that a library would be the best encouragement to studious and sober men to undertake the service; and that, as the great inducement to himself to go, would be to do the most good of which he could be capable, he therefore proposed to their Lordships, that if they thought fit to encourage and assist him in providing parochial libraries for the Ministers that should be sent, he would then accept of the Commissary's office in Maryland.
This proposal for parochial libraries being well approved of by the Bishops, and due encouragement being promised in the prosecution of the design, both by their Lordships and others, he set himself with all possible application to provide Missionaries, and to furnish them with libraries, intending, as soon as he should have sent both, to follow after himself. But upon his accepting of this employment of Commissary of Maryland, it fell to his share to solicit at home whatever other matters related to that church, more particularly to the settlement and establishment thereof, which with other matters conducive to the good and welfare of the church, he laboured to promote with unwearied diligence, and spared neither expense nor trouble. Above all, it was his greatest care, to endeavour to send over to Maryland, and the other colonies, pious men, of exemplary lives and conversations and to furnish those whom he had a hand in sending, with good libraries of necessary and useful books, to render them capable of answering the ends of their mission, and instructing the people in all things necessary to their salvation: and these truly found him employment enough, though, on account of the more than ordinary service such a magazine of Divine knowledge might be of, he could never be brought to regret the undertaking, however chargeable as well as laborious it proved: one half of either cost or pains in which it engaged him, must have discouraged any one less sensible to the impressions of a religious zeal, from prosecuting it. His only comfort was that the libraries he had begun and advanced more or less in all the provinces on the Continent and in most of the islands of America, as also in the factories in Africa, did not only serve the then ministers with whom they were first sent, but by the care of some of the governments, and by acts of assembly, settling the rules he had prescribed for their use and preservation, they might be also of advantage to many succeeding generations. The sense of the clergy and inhabitants, with respect to this, was testified by the solemn letters of thanks returned him from the assemblies of Maryland, from the vestries of Boston and Braintree in New England, from Newfoundland, Rhode Island, New York, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Bermudas, and by the acknowledgments of the Royal African Company, on account of those procured for their factories. About the same time it was that the Secretary of Maryland, Sir Thomas Lawrence, with Mr. Bray, waited on the then Princess of Denmark, on behalf of that province, humbly to request her gracious acceptance of the governor's and country's dutiful respects, in having denominated the metropolis of the province, then but lately built, from her Royal Highness's name, Annapolis: and Mr. Bray being soon after favoured with a noble benefaction from the same royal hand, towards his libraries in America, he dedicated the principal library in those parts, fixed at Annapolis, and which has books of the choicest kind belonging to it, to the value of four hundred pounds, to her memory, by the title of the Annapolitan Library, which words were inscribed on the several books, as well in gratitude to her Majesty, as for the better prevention of loss or embezzlement.
Another design was also set on foot, much about the same time, by Dr. Bray, having a reference to some service at home as well as abroad. This was to raise lending libraries in every deanery throughout England and Wales, out of which the neighbouring clergy might borrow the books they had occasion for, and where they might consult upon matters relating to their function, and to learning. Upon this, many lending libraries were founded in several parts of the kingdom, besides above a hundred and fifty parochial ones in Great Britain and the Plantations; from ten to fifty pounds value, those in South Britain being afterwards secured to posterity, by an act of parliament passed for that purpose in 1708. Soon after, upon the repeated instances of the governor and some of the country, Mr. Bray was at the charge of taking the degree of Doctor of Divinity, which degree, though it might be of some use with respect to his having a better respect paid to the church as well as himself, did, however, then but ill comport with his circumstances. He took his degrees of Bachelor of Divinity, and Doctor, together, by accumulation, not of Hart-hall where he was entered, but of Magdalen college, December 17, 1696. Soon after, the better to promote his main design of libraries, and to give the Missionaries directions in prosecuting their theological studies, he published two books, one intitled, Bibliotheca Parochialis; or, A Scheme of such Theological and other Heads, as seem requisite to be perused, or occasionally consulted by the Rev. Clergy, together with a Catalogue of Books, which may be profitably read on each of those points, &c. The other, Apostolick Charity, its Nature and Excellency considered, in a discourse upon Daniel, xii. 3. preached at St. Paul's, at the Ordination of some Protestant Missionaries to be sent into the Plantations. To which is prefixed, A general View of the English Colonies in America, in order to shew what provision is wanting for the propagation of Christianity in those parts, together with proposals for the promoting the same, and to induce such of the clergy of this kingdom, as are persons of sobriety and abilities, to accept of a mission.
During this interval, viz, in the year 1697, a bill being brought into the House of Commons to alienate lands given to superstitious uses, and to vest them in Greenwich Hospital, he preferred a petition to the House, that some share of them might be appropriated to the propagation of the true religion in the Plantations, and that the same should be vested in a body politick, to be erected for that purpose; which petition was received very well in the House, and a fourth part of all that should be discovered, after one moiety to the discoverer, was readily and unanimously allotted by the committee for that use, it being thought by far more reasonable to appropriate some part at least of what was given to superstitious uses, to uses truly pious, than altogether to other, though charitable, purposes: but the bill was never suffered to be reported. In the year 1698, failing of a publick and settled provision by law, for carrying on the service of the church in Maryland, and the other plantations, he addressed his Majesty for a grant of some arrears of taxes due to the crown; and some time after was obliged to be at the charge and trouble of going over to the King in Holland, to have the grant completed. The recovery of these arrears of taxes was represented as very feasible and very valuable, and also without any grievance to the subject: but as they proved troublesome to be recovered, so they were scarcely of any value, All designs failing of getting a publick fund for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, he thereupon formed a design, of which he then drew the plan, of having a Protestant congregation, pro fide propaganda, by charter from the King. But things did not seem ripe enough to encourage him to proceed at that time in the attempt, and so he laid it aside till a more favourable opportunity.
However, to prepare the way for such a charter-society, he soon after made it his endeavour, to find worthy persons ready to form a voluntary society, both to carry on the service already begun for the Plantations, and to propagate Christian knowledge as well at home as abroad, hoping afterwards to get such a society incorporated. This he laid before the Bishop of London, in the year 1697, and a society was constituted on this plan; and though the design of having them incorporated by charter could not then be brought to bear, yet they still subsisted and acted as a voluntary society. But their number and benefactions at last increasing, a different constitution, and more extensive powers, appeared necessary for the success of the undertaking: application was, therefore, made by Dr. Bray, to his then Majesty King William, for his royal charter. The Doctor's petition to his Majesty, with other papers relating to the corporation to be erected for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, was read May 5, 1701, and his Majesty's letters patent, under the great seal of England, for erecting a corporation, by the name of The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, was laid before the society, and read the ninth of June following. He received no advantage all this time from his Commissary's place in Maryland; neither was any allowance made him at home, or preferment given him, to support the charge of living altogether in town, to solicit the establishment and endowment of the church of Maryland, and to provide Missionaries for that, and all the colonies on the Continent; which, excepting lay upon him. All the benefactions that were received, were to be laid out to raise them libraries; which also he did faster than money came in to answer the charge. This being observed by some of his friends, they endeavoured to persuade him to lay his design of going abroad aside, and take two good preferments that were offered him at home, of as good or better value than what was proposed to him in Maryland, that of Sub-Almoner, and the donation of Aldgate, in the City of London. But he declined all offers that were inconsistent with his going to Maryland, as soon as it should become proper for him to take that voyage.
By the year 1699, having waited upwards of two years for the return of the Act of Religion from Maryland, with such amendments as would render it without exception at the court of England; and it being presumed by his superiors, that it would be requisite the Doctor should now hasten over, as well to encourage the passing of that Act in their assemblies, as to promote other matters for the service of religion there, it was signified to him from them, they would have him take the opportunity of the first ship: and indeed, the Doctor having, by this time, tried all ways he could think of, and done all he was able. to do here, to serve those parts, and according to proposal having provided Maryland, as also many other colonies, with a competent number of Missionaries, and furnished them with good libraries, to he fixed in the places where they were sent, to remain there for ever; he was himself eager to follow, and did so accordingly, even in the winter, though he had no allowance made him towards his charge of the voyage, and the service he was to do, but was forced to dispose of his own small effects, and, raise money on credit to support him. With this poor encouragement, and thus, on his own provision, he took the voyage, December 16, 1699, and set sail from the Downs the twentieth of the same month; but was driven back from Plymouth-sound on Christmas-eve, and remained in harbour almost all the holidays, where his time was not unusefully spent, in the recovery of a tolerable library there out of dust and rubbish, which was also indebted to him for a benefaction of books; and where he left a proposal for taking in subscriptions to make it a sea-port library, for the use of Missionaries and Sea-Chaplains, as well as others. After an extremely tedious and dangerous passage, the Doctor arrived at Maryland the twelfth of March, where not being so much concerned at his own, as the church's unsettlement, he applied himself immediately and wholly to repair the breach made in the settlement of the parochial clergy; in order to which he consulted, in the first place, the governor, whom he found ready to concur in all proper methods for the re- establishment of their maintenance. Before the next Assembly, which was to be in May following, he sent to all the clergy on the western shore, who could only come together in that season, to be acquainted from them with the disposition of the people, and their sentiments on this occasion, and to advise with them what was proper to be done, in order to dispose the members of the Assembly to re-enact their law next meeting. Soon after he had dismissed the clergy, he made his parochial visitation, as far as it was possible for him at that season; in which visitation he met with very singular respect from persons of the best condition in the country, which the Doctor, by a happy conduct (of which he only was not sensible,) turned to the advantage of that poor church. During the sessions of the Assembly, and whilst the re-establishment of the church was depending, he preached very proper aud seasonable sermons, and all of them with a tendency to incline the country to the establishment of the church and clergy; all which were so well received that he had the thanks of the Assembly, by messages from the House, for them, and for the service done to that church and province. The Doctor was providentially on such good terms with the Assembly, that they ordered the Attorney-general to advise with him in drawing up the bill; and that he himself might be the better advised in that case, he sent for the most experienced clergy within reach, to suggest to him, what, upon their own and their brethren's experience, they found would be of advantage to them and the church, to be inserted in or left out of it; by which means the constitution of that church has much the advantage of any in America. It may not be amiss to observe in this place, that as well during the general Court of Assize, which preceded the Assembly and lasted thirteen days, as during the sessions of the Assembly itself, he was under a necessity of much civil, but chargeable, entertainment of the gentlemen of the province, who universally visited him; a charge, however which he thought requisite as circumstances then were, that he might strengthen his interest in them, the better to promote the establishment of the clergy's maintenance. The bill being prepared, passed with a nemine contradicente; but it was on all hands declared and confessed, that it was very providential that Dr. Bray came into the country at that juncture. Soon after the Assembly was up, the Commissary cited the whole clergy of the province to a general visitation at Annapolis, to be held May 22, 1700. At the close of this visitation, the clergy taking into consideration that the opposition of the Quakers against the establishment of that church would in all probability continue, so as to get the law for its establishment so lately re-enacted, annulled again at home; they entered into debates, whether it would not be of consequence to the preservation and final settlement of that church, that the Doctor should be requested to go home with the law, and to solicit the Royal assent. It had been before voted, at the passing of the bill in the house of Burgesses, that he should be desired to request his Grace of Canterbury, and the Bishop of London, to favour that good law, by obtaining his Majesty's royal assent to it with all convenient speed; and the members who gave him an account of passing their vote told him withal, that it was the general opinion of the House, that he could be most serviceable therein by waiting personally on their Lordships, rather than by letters, in which he could not crowd all that might be necessary to be represented concerning the then state of the church, and the necessity, at that time, of their utmost patronage: and it was in debate, whether this should not be the desire of the Assembly: but it was thought too unreasonable a request from them, who were sensible of the great danger and fatigue he had already been at in the service of that province, as they had a few days before acknowledged by a message of thanks from that house. Such were the sentiments of the members of the Assembly, as to the necessity of his coming home to solicit the establishment of that church; and the clergy meeting at their visitation, some weeks after, as they had time to know more fully the sense of the province upon it; so they represented it to him, as the earnest desire of the more sensible persons throughout the country, as well as of the Assembly- men, that he should go over with the law for England; being aware that the Quakers would this time openly, and the Papists covertly, make the utmost efforts against the establishment of that church, by false representations at home of the number and riches of their party, and by insinuating, that to impose upon them an established maintenance for the clergy, would be prejudicial to the interest of the province, by obliging so many wealthy traders to move from thence; the falsity of which, or any other suggestions, they thought him best able to make appear, by the information he had gained from this visitation. There were also many other advantages to the church in those parts, which they proposed by his coming home at that time, which were urged as reasons for it; upon the consideration of all of which, though there was no provision could be made there to support him in that charge, and the Commissary's office would also yield him no profit, it not being tenable by the law of the country but by one residing in it, yet upon the consideration of much publick good, he determined himself, and took his voyage soon after. He was no sooner arrived in England, but he found their apprehensions in Maryland not ill grounded; for the Quakers forthwith bestirred themselves so exceedingly that it was amazing to see what prejudices they had quickly raised in those who had then the cognizance of Plantation affairs, and what formidable computations they gave in of the clergy's charge to the country; which suggestions, when they were found to stick even with some that seemed well affected to that church, Dr. Bray refuted, by a printed memorial, representing truly the state of the church at Maryland, to the full satisfaction of all to whom it was communicated. Happy was the province of Maryland in having its concerns managed, at this critical juncture, by such an able and indefatigable agent.
The Quakers' opposition to the establishment now depending, was carried by united councils and contributors; but the Doctor refuted their specious objections by unanswerable reasons, and placed the affair in such an advantageous light, that his Majesty decided, without any appearance of hesitation, in the Church's favour, and gave the royal assent in these words: Have the Quakers the benefit of a toleration? let the Established Church have an established maintenance. This chargeable and laborious undertaking having swallowed up the Doctor's own small fortune, Lord Weymouth generously presented him with a bill of £300 for his own private use, a large portion of which the Doctor devoted to the advancement of his farther designs. Though he was vested with the character of Commissary, yet no share of the revenue proposed was annexed to it; and this disappointment, though injurious in the highest degree, was not made by him either matter of complaint there, or of remonstrance here: nay, his generosity even induced him to throw in two sums of fifty pounds each, that were presented to himself in Maryland, towards defraying the charges of their libraries and law. But his generosity and indefatigable endeavours to promote the interest of the church, together with the success which attended all his measures, for completing and perfecting the polity and establishment of it, would swell this account too much, for which reason we shall refer the reader to the places where he may find those heads treated of more at large. [See the several Orders of Council, and Dr. Bray's own Letters to the Governor, Speaker, and Attorney General of Maryland.] After the return of Dr. Bray from thence in 1701, he published his Circular Letters to the Clergy of Maryland, a Memorial, representing the present state of religion on the Continent of North America, and the Acts of his Visitation held at Annapolis; for which he had the thanks of the Society above-mentioned. Not only the Bishop of London approved entirely of all these transactions, but also the Archbishop of Canterbury declared that he was well satisfied with the reasons of Dr. Bray's return from the West Indies, and added, that his mission there would be of the greatest consequence imaginable to the establishment of religion in those parts. In 1706, he had the donative of St. Botolph without Aldgate offered him again, which he then accepted of, worth about £150 per annum, being allowed by the impropriator. In the year 1712, the Doctor printed his " Martyrology; or Papal Usurpation, in folio." That nothing may be wanting to enrich and adorn the work, he established a correspondence with learned foreigners of the first distinction, and called in the assistance of the most eminent hands. This work consists of some choice and learned treatises of celebrated authors, which were grown very scarce, ranged and digested into as regular an History as the nature of the subject would admit. He proposed to compile a second volume, and had, at no small expense and pains, furnished himself with materials for it; but he was afterwards obliged to lay the prosecution of his design aside, and bequeathed by Will his valuable collection of Martyrological Memoirs, both printed and manuscript, to Sion-college. He was, indeed, so great a Master of the History of Popery, that few authors could be presumed able, with equal accuracy and learning, to trace the origin and growth of these exhorbitant claims which are made by the See of Rome. He was happily formed by nature both for the active and for the retired life. Charity to the souls of other men, was wrought up to the highest pitch in his own: every reflection on the dark and forlorn condition of the Indians and Negroes, excited in his bosom the most generous emotions of pity and concern. He conceived nothing so desirable, as to be the instrument of recovering those lost sheep, and bringing them into the fold of their heavenly pastor.
His voyage to Holland, to solicit King William's protection and encouragement to his good designs, and the proofs he gave of a publick spirit and disinterested zeal, in such a series of generous undertakings, obtained him the esteem of M. d'Allone of the Hague, a gentleman not more celebrated for his penetration and address in state affairs, than for a pious disposition of mind. An epistolary correspondence commenced very early between him and the Doctor upon this subject; the result of which was that M. d'Allone gave in his life time a sum to be applied to the conversion of Negroes, desiring withal the Doctor to accept the management and disposal of it. But that a standing provision might be made for this purpose, M. d'Allone bequeathed by Will a certain sum, viz. 900 pounds, out of his English estate, to Dr. Bray and his associates, towards erecting a capital fund or stock, for converting the Negroes in the British plantations. This was in the year 1723, much about which time Dr. Bray had an extremely dangerous fit of illness, so that his life and recovery were despaired of. In the year 1726, he was employed in composing and printing his Directorium Missionarium, his Primordia Bibliothecaria, and some other tracts of the like kind. About this time he also wrote a short account of Mr. Rawlet, the author of the Christian Monitor; and reprinted the life of Mr. Gilpin. Some of these were calculated for the use of the Mission; and in one he has endeavoured to shew that civilizing the Indians must be the first step, in any successful attempt for their conversion. In his Primordia Bibliothecaria, we have several schemes of parochial libraries, and a method laid down to proceed by a gradual progression from strength to strength, from a collection not much exceeding one pound in value, to one of a hundred. His attention to other good works occasioned no discontinuance of this design, the success of which was so much the object of his desires; and accordingly benefactions came in so fast, that he had business enough upon his hands to form the libraries desired, and to discharge himself of them. As the furnishing the parochial clergy with the means of instruction, would be an effectual method to promote christian knowledge, so another expedient, manifestly subservient to the same end, would be, he thought, to imprint on the minds of those who are designed for the ministry, previously to their admission, a just sense of its various duties, and their great importance. With a view to this, he reprinted the Ecclesiastes of Erasmus, a name of great authority in the Republick of Letters, and to whom the re- establishment of polite literature was principally owing. In the year 1727, an acquaintance of Dr. Bray's made a casual visit to Whitechapel prison; and his representation of the miserable state of the prisoners had such an effect on the Doctor, that he immediately applied himself to solicit benefactions in order to relieve them; and he had soon contributions sufficient to provide a quantity of bread, beef, and broth, on Sundays, and now and then on the intermediate days, for this prison and the Borough Compter. To temporal, he always subjoined spiritual provisions; and to enure them to the most distasteful part of their office, the intended missionaries were here employed in reading and preaching. On this occasion the sore was first opened, and that scene of inhumanity imperfectly discovered, which afterwards some worthy patriots of the house of Commons took so much pains to enquire into and redress: that zeal and compassion which led them to carry on this inspection, and regulate many gross abuses, could not but procure them the esteem of one distinguished by such an extensive benevolence as Dr. Bray.
The divine guardianship apparently accompanied hoth his designs of founding libraries and converting Negroes. The former, particularly, was advanced under the patronage of persons in the highest stations: but being now far advanced in years, and continually reminded of his approaching change, by the imbecility and decays of old age, he was desirous of enlarging the number of his associates, and adding such to them, in whose zeal and integrity he might repose an entire confidence. An inquiry into the state of the gaols, made him acquainted with Mr. (afterwards General,) Oglethorpe, who accepted the trust himself, and engaged several others, some of the first rank and distinction, to rank with him and the former associates. To these two designs of founding libraries, and instructing Negroes, a third was now added, which, though at first view it appears to be of a different nature, has a perfect coincidence with them. The miserable condition of multitudes for want of employment, had of late excited the highest degree of compassion in the breasts of all charitable persons: the provision which the legislature had made, by a late Act, for the erecting parish work-houses, proved insufficient; and therefore, out of the same charitable regard to mankind, a design was formed of establishing a colony in America, than which nothing could be better intitled to consideration and encouragement. The advantages which might accrue to the publick from such a settlement, is a subject of too large extent to be considered here. In short, most of the religious societies and good designs in London, owe grateful acknowledgment to his memory, and are, in a great measure, formed on the plans he projected; particularly the Society for the Reformation of Manners, Charity-schools, and the Society for the Relief of poor Proselytes, &c. The Doctor having thus happily lodged his principal designs in the hands of able managers, and being on the verge of the grave, could not but review his undertakings with complacency, and thank the good Providence of God, which appeared to lay such trains for their advancement. His conscience crowned him with a secret applause, which was an inexhaustible source of comfortable reflections; and joyful presages, in his last minutes, which happened on the fifteenth of February, 1780, in the seventy third year of his age, leaving issue only one daughter."
" NEW MARTON, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 4 miles west of Ellesmere."
" NEWNES, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 1 mile south-west of Ellesmere.
There is a curious tradition that the celebrated Whittington was born at this place. There can be no doubt that many fabulous circumstances have crept into the history of this remarkable character, and no authentick account of his life being extant, to ascertain the truth of many particulars recorded of him, the popular tradition must be followed, and the judgment of the reader must decide what he is to believe, and what be is to reject.
Whittington left Shropshire at an early age, about the year 1366, and repaired to the metropolis. By the way he chiefly subsisted on the charity of well-disposed persons, and on his arrival in London, he made an application to the Prior of the hospital of St. John, Clerkenwell, where he was kindly relieved; and being handy and willing, was soon put into an inferior post in the house. How long he remained here is uncertain, but to this charitable foundation he was certainly indebted for his first support in London. His next reception was in the family of Mr. Fitzwarren, a rich merchant, whose house was in the Minories, near the Tower. Here he undoubtedly acted as under scullion, for his keep only.
In this situation he met with many crosses and difficulties; for the servants made sport of him; and particularly the cook, who was of a morose temper, used him very ill, and not unfrequently with a sturdy arm, laid the ladle across his shoulders; so that, to keep in the family, he had many a mortification to endure; but his patience carried it off, and at last he grew used to her choleric disposition.
This was not the only misfortune under which he laboured, for lying in a place for a long time unfrequented, such abundance of rats and mice had bred there, that they were almost ready at times to dispute the possession with him, and full as troublesome by night as the cook was by day, so that he knew not what to think of his condition, or how to mend it. After many disquieting thoughts, he at last comforted himself with the hopes that the cook might soon marry, or die, or quit her service, and as for the rate and mice, a cat would be an effectual remedy against them.
Soon after a merchant came to dinner, and it raining exceedingly, he stopped all night. The next morning, Whittington having cleaned his shoes, this gentleman gave him a penny. Going along the streets on an errand, he saw a woman with a cat under her arm; and desired to know the price of her: the woman praised her for a good mouser, and told him sixpence; but he declaring that a penny was all his stock, she let him have her. He took the cat home, and kept her in a box all day, lest the cook should kill her if she came into the kitchen, and at night he set her to work for her living. Puss delivered him from one plague; but the other remained, though not for many years.
It was the custom with the worthy merchant, Mr. Hugh Fitzwarren, that God might give him a greater blessing on his endeavours, to call all his servants together when he sent out a ship, and cause every one to venture something in it, to try their fortunes. Just at this juncture he had a ship ready to sail, and all but Whittington appeared, and brought things according to their abilities; but his young mistress being present, and supposing that poverty made him decline coming, she ordered him to be called, on which he made several excuses. Being however, constrained to come, he said he hoped they would not jeer a poor simpleton for being in expectation of turning merchant, since all he could lay claim to as his own, was but a poor cat, which be had bought for one penny, and which had much befriended him in keeping the rats and mice from him. On this the young lady offered to lay something down for him, but her father told her that according to the custom, what he ventured must be his own. He then ordered him to bring his cat, which he did, but with great reluctance, and with tears delivered her to the master of the ship, called the Unicorn, which had fallen down to Blackwall, in order to proceed on her voyage. [Though much ridicule has been thrown on this part of the tradition, it seems highly probable that the venture of the cat was, at least, the commencement of his fortunes. Over the old gaol at Newgate, which was originally built by Whittington, there was the figure of a man with a cat at his feet; the allusion, there can be little doubt, was to this or some similar circumstance.]
No sooner had this vessel arrived at Algiers than the intelligence reached the Dey, who immediately ordered the captain and officers to wait upon him with presents; for then, as well as now, nothing could be done without a bribe. After this first ceremony was over, trade went on pretty briskly, at the conclusion of which, his Moorish majesty gave a grand entertainment, which according to custom, was served upon carpets, interwoven with gold, silver, and purple silk. This feast was no sooner served up than the scent of the various dishes, brought together a number of rats and mice, who unmercifully fell on all that came in their way.
These audacious and destructive vermin did not shew any symptoms of fear upon the approach of the company, but on the contrary, kept to it as if they only were invited. This excited the astonishment of the captain and his people, who, interrogating the Algerines, were informed, that a very great price would be given by the Dey, for a riddance of those vermin, which were grown so numerous and offensive, that not only his table, but his private apartments, and bed, were so infested, that he was forced to be constantly watched for fear of being devoured.
This information put the English in mind of poor Dick Whittington's Cat, which had done them great service on the passage; and wishing to serve the youth, thought this the best time to come forward with the little industrious animal. Accordingly she was brought the next day, when her presence suddenly kept off most of the vermin; a few only of the boldest daring to venture forward, she dispatched them with wonderful celerity. This pleased his Highness so much, that he immediately made very advantageous proposals to the factor of the ship for the possession of this surprising and useful animal. At first the crew seemed very reluctant to part with her; but his liberality soon overcame every objection; and her purchase amounted, in various commodities, to several thousand pounds. During the time the English remained here, her industry in destroying those vermin so completely pleased the Moorish Chief, that, on their departure, he again loaded them with rich presents.
The cook, who little thought how advantageous Whittington's cat would prove, incessantly persecuted the youth on account of his penury, so that he grew weary of enduring it, and resolved rather to try his fortune again in the wide world, than lead such a disagreeable life. Accordingly he set out early on Allhallows morning, resolving to go into the country, and get into a more agreeable service.
As he went over Finsbury Moor, since called Moor Fields, his mind began to fail; he hesitated, and halted several times: he grew pensive, and his resolution left him. In this solitary manner he wandered on till he reached Holloway, where be sat down upon a large stone, which is still called Whittington's stone. Here he began to ruminate upon his ill luck, and in the depth of his meditation, he suddenly heard Bow bells begin to ring. This attracted his attention; and as he listened, he fancied they called him back again to his master. The more he hearkened, the more he became confirmed in this notion, conceiting the bells expressed the following distich:
" Return again Whittington,
" Thrice Lord Mayor of London."
This proved a happy thought for him; and it made so great an impression on his fancy, that finding it early, and thinking he might get back before the family were stirring, he instantly returned, and entered unperceived, to pursue his usual daily drudgery.
Things were in this situation when the news arrived of the success of the voyage. When the bill of lading was presented to the merchant, the principal part was found to belong to Whittington, amongst which was a cabinet of rich jewels, the last present of the Dey. This was the first thing brought to Mr. Fitzwarren's house, it being deemed too valuable to remain on board. When the servants' goods for their ventures were all brought up to be divided, Whittington's portion was too bulky to be unpacked before them; but the pearls and jewels alone were estimated at several thousand pounds.
This story, however improbable, is not without a parallel in the history of another country, for in a description of Guinea, published in 1665, it is recorded, that Alphonso, a Portuguese, being wrecked on the coast of Guinea, and being presented by the king with his weight in gold for a cat to kill their mice; and an ointment to kill their flies; this he improved within five years to six thousand pounds on the place, and returning to Portugal after fifteen years traffick, became, not like Whittington the second, but the third man in the kingdom.
The humility of Whittington's mind prevented him from displaying the least degree of arrogance, petulance or superciliosness on this sudden change of his fortune. At first he could scarcely be prevailed upon to quit the scullery, but Mr. Fitzwarren, who, it would appear took him into partnership, omitted no opportunity of promoting his interests, introducing him at court, and to the principal characters in the city.
In this new career Whittington's success must have been truly extraordinary, for we find that in a few years, King Edward the third, being at war with France, and soliciting of his subjects a subsidy to carry it on, Whittington paid towards the contribution offered by the city of London, no less than ten thousand pounds, an astonishing sum in those days, for an individual's share, when it is considered that history has almost left us in the dark as to the remuneration expected. Be that as it may, history places it in the forty sixth year of that king's reign, A.D., 1372. The success did not answer his great preparations; for his fleet was dispersed by contrary winds, and he was forced to disband his soldiers.
What contributed much at this time in favour of Whittington, was the absence of the Lombard merchants, who withdrew themselves from London, on account of the oppression of the king, which became excessive towards the latter end of his reign, by continued draughts to support his ambition in France. These, and the Jews abroad, conducted at that time the whole financial commerce of the city of London; but Mr. Whittington, upon their departure, came in for a considerable share of it.
In the 52nd year of Edward's reign, the Lords and Commons granted the king a poll-tax, of four-pence a head, for every man and woman passing the age of fourteen years, beggars excepted. The king demanding of the city of London to advance him £4,000 upon this poll, and the Mayor, Adam Staple, proving backward in complying, he was by the king turned out of his office; and Sir Richard Whittington put into his place, to finish the year; and this is the first mention of his being knighted, and of his great importance in the city at that time, being only about ten years after his first coming thither.
According to Stow, Sir Richard Whittington was a great dealer is wool, leather, cloth, and pearls, which were universally worn at that time by the ladies. In 1377, the first year of king Richard the second, he was called by summons to the parliament which met at London.
In 1395, the eighteenth of this king's reign Edmund, Duke of York, the king's uncle, held a parliament at London, the king being absent in Ireland, and relating to the citizens the great straits the king was reduced to in Ireland, they granted him a tenth upon their personal estates; first protesting that they were not in strict justice obliged to it, but that they did it out of affection. The mission to this parliament, we are particularly informed by Sir Robert Cotton, from Leland's papers, was managed by the uprightness of Sir Richard Whittington. It also appears from the parliamentary Rolls, that the citizens only granted this for four years, on condition that it should be bestowed upon the wars; that the king should be advised by his council; and that the wars ceasing before the time expired, payment might determine.
Thus he grew in riches and fame the most considerable of the citizens, greatly beloved by all, especially the poor, several hundreds of whom he publickly or secretly assisted or supplied.
About this time it was that he married his master's daughter, Miss Fitzwarren. According to the pretorian banner, once existing in Guildhall, but destroyed by the fire which consumed the city archives, Whittington served his first mayoralty in 1397. He was now near forty years of age, and was chosen into the office by his fellow citizens, whose approbation of his conduct, after having once before filled the office when put in by king Edward, is a proof that he was a good, loyal, and patriotick man.
He was one of those who went from the city to the tower to king Richard the second, to put him in mind of his promise to relinquish the government; and was accordingly constituted one of the king's proxies to declare his renunciation. According to Stow and Collier, he assisted at the coronation of Henry the fourth, when he took the oath of homage and allegiance to him. He assisted at the great council which that king soon after summoned, to demand aid of the Lords spiritual and temporal against his enemies, the kings of France and Scotland, who were then preparing to invade England; in which council the city of London, as well as the barons and clergy, unanimously granted the king a tenth to support him in the war, which was undertaken by Charles the ninth, of France, to restore his father-in-law, Richard the second, who was yet alive. Whittington's name stands second, Scroop, archbishop of York, being first, of those privy counsellors who were commissioned to treat on the king's part with the earl of Northumberland, about the exchange of castles and lands. But the designs of Whittington and the city were frustrated by the death of the unfortunate Richard.
Whittington's second mayoralty occurred in 1406. His third and last service of mayor happened in 1419, in Henry the fifth's time, in which situation he behaved with his usual prudence. Though age had now taken of much of his activity, yet he was the most vigilant magistrate of his time. Soon after Henry's conquest of France, Sir Richard entertained him and his queen at Guildhall, in such grand style, that he was pleased to say, ' Never prince had such a subject,' and conferred upon some of the aldermen the honour of knighthood.
At this entertainment the king particularly praised the fire, which was made of choice wood, mixed with mace, cloves, and all other spices; on which Sir Richard said, he would endeavour to make one still more agreeable to his majesty, and immediately tore, and threw into the fire, the king's bond for 10,000 marks due to the company of mercers; 12,500 to the chamber of London; 12,009 to the grocers; to the staplers, goldsmiths, haberdashers, vintners, brewers, and bakers, 3,000 marks each. "All these," said Sir Richard, "with divers others lent for the payment of your soldiers in France, I have taken in and discharged to the amount of £60,000 sterling. Can your majesty desire to see such another sight?" The king and nobles were struck dumb with surprise at his wealth and liberality.
Sir Richard spent the remainder of his days in honourable retirement, in his house in Grubb Street, beloved by the rich and the poor. By his wife be left two sons. He built many charitable houses, founded a church in Vintry Ward, dedicated to St. Michael. Here he constructed an handsome vault, for the sepulchre of his father and mother-in-law, and the remainder of the Fittwarren family, and there himself and wife were afterwards interred.
In 1413, he founded an alms-house and college in the Vintry. The latter was suppressed by order of council in king Edward the sixth's time; but the former, on College Hill, still remains.
The munificence of Whittington, who was an inhabitant of Vintry Ward, was nevertheless felt and acknowledged all over the city. The library of the famous church of the grey friars, near the spot where Christ Church, in Newgate street, now stands, was founded by him in 1429. In three years it was filled with books to the value of £556, of which Sir Richard contributed £449, the rest being supplied by Dr. Thomas Winchelsey, a friar. This was about thirty years before the invention of printing. He also rebuilt Newgate, [See Note p. 355.] contributed largely to the repairs of Guildhall, and endowed Christ's Hospital with a considerable sum. Whittington as well as his master, Mr. Fitzwarren, were both mercers. How long he lived is uncertain, as his Latin epitaph in the Church of St. Michael, Paternoster, in the Vintry, where he was buried, does not specify his birth.- His will, however, is dated December 21, 1423. In the above-mentioned church, Sir Richard Whittington was three times buried; first by his executors, under a handsome monument; then in the reign of Edward the sixth, when the parson of the church thinking to find great riches in his tomb, broke it open and despoiled the body of its leaden sheet; then burying it a second time. In the reign of Queen Mary, she obliged the parishioners to take up the body, and restore the lead as before, and it was again buried; and so he remained till the great fire of London violated his resting place a third time. This church also, which his piety had founded, together with a college and alms- houses near the spot, became a prey to the flames in the great conflagration of 1666.
The capital house called Whittington College, with the garden, was sold to Armagill Wade, in the second year of Edward the sixth. The alms-houses which he founded for thirteen poor men, are still supported by the Mercers' Company, of which he was a member, and in whose custody are still extant the original ordinances of Sir Richard Whittington's charity, made by his executors, Coventre, Carpenter, and Grove.- The first page curiously illuminated, represents Whittington lying on his death-bed, his body very lean and meagre, with his three executors, a priest, and some other persons standing by his bed- side.
Dame Alice, the wife of Sir Richard, died in the sixty third year of her age; after which he never remarried, though he outlived her near twenty years. At last he expired like the patriarch, full of age and honour, leaving a good name and an excellent example to posterity. The following curious epitaph is said to have been cut on the upper stone of his vault, and to have continued perfect till destroyed by the fire of London:
M.S. Beneath this stone lies Whittington,
Sir Richard rightly named;
Who three times Lord Mayor served in London,
In which he ne'er was blam'd.
He rose from Indigence to Wealth,
By industry and that,
For lo ! he scorn'd to gain by stealth,
What he got by a Cat.
Let none who reads this verse despair
Of Providence's ways:
Who trust in him, he'll make his care,
And prosper all their days.
Then sing a requiem to departed merit,
And rest in peace till death demands his spirit."
" NEWTON OATLEY and SPOONHILL, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 1½ mile east of Ellesmere."
" NORTHWOOD, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill."
" OATLEY (or OTLEY NEWTON and SPOONHILL), a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. mile east of Ellesmere. The seat of Lady Tarra.
" PLAS YOLLEN (or PLAS JOLYN), a seat in the township of Dudlestone in the parish of Ellesmere, 4 miles north-west of Ellesmere. The seat of W. Morrill, Esq. it is a handsome old mansion-house, faced with stone dug from the neighbouring quarry at Coed-yr-allt, and is surrounded by noble trees of oak, ash, and sycamore. Among the latter are some of the most extraordinary dimensions and height. The grounds command on one hand a fine view of the Eglwyseg rock, Chirk Castle hills, and ranges of the Berwyn mountains, and on the other the Broxton hills, and vale of Cheshire, with an intermediate country finely wooded.
" SPOONHILL OATLEY and NEWTON, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill."
" ST. JOHN'S, a township in the parish of Ellesmere."
" STOCKS and COPTIVINEY, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill."
" TETCHILL, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 1½ mile south- west of Ellesmere."
" TRENCH, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill. 2½ miles north- west of Ellesmere."
" WELSHHAMPTON WOOD, a township in the parish of Ellesmere, and in the Ellesmere division of the hundred of Pimhill."
[Transcribed information from A Gazetteer of Shropshire - T Gregory - 1824](unless otherwise stated)
[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]