SELATTYN: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1824.


"SELATTYN (or SYLLATTIN), a parish in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry, a rectory remaining in charge, in the diocese of St. Asaph, and the deanery of Marchia. 204 houses, 959 inhabitants. The increase of population in the parish of Selattyn is attributed to the number of cottages built upon land cultivated since 1811. 3 miles northwest of Oswestry.

That high church meteor, and party tool, Dr. SACHEVERELL was, in 1709, presented to the living of Selattyn; not so much on account of its value, as to give him an opportunity of making a progress through the extent of the kingdom, and of trying the inclinations of the people in the rich and populous counties he was to pass through. He was met on the confines of this county hy five thousand horsemen, among whom were the first fortunes of Shropshire, He met with respect, in every town, little short of adoration. At Shrewsbury, above a thousand horsemen went out to meet him, who brought him into town with greet rejoicings, &c. He stopped there only one night. The crowd in Oswestry was so great, "that a good old woman could see only a small part of the holy man, yet condoled herself with having a sight of his ever blessed wig, as he rode along."

He was the son of a poor clergyman at Marlborough, and was educated by his godfather, and placed at Magdalene college, Oxford. His regularity and polite manners rendered him a favourite tutor in the college, and his Latin poems, some of which appeared in the Musae Anglicanae, proved him an elegant scholar. His two famous sermons, one upon the Communication of Sin, (an assize sermon,) and the other, upon the Perils of False Brethren, drew upon him the resentment of parliament. His trial before the peers began the 27th of February, 1710, and ended the 23rd of March; but though he was suspended for three years, and his sermons burned by the hand of the executioner, so violent was the party spirit of the times, that this completely overturned the ministry. On the expiration of his punishment, he was presented to the living of St. Andrew's, Holborn, and received with such enthusiasm, that of the first sermon which he preached, and which he sold for £100, forty thousand copies were immediately bought. Thus, for a while regarded as the champion of the church, Sacheverell enjoyed popularity, till at last he sunk into obscurity. He died 1724. Burnet observes of him, that he possessed little of religion, virtue, learning, or good sense, but forced himself to preferment by railing at dissenters and low churchmen.

JOHN HANMER was a native of Shropshire, admitted of Oriel College, fellow of All Souls, 1596; proctor of the University, 1605; rector of Bingham, co Nottingham; chaplain in ordinary to James I.; prebendary of Worcester, 1614; D.D. 1615; bishop of St. Asaph, 1623; died at Pentrepant, near Oswestry, 1629, and was buried at Selattyn. (Ath. Ox. 1. 773. Fast 203: Godwin ed Richardson, 643.)

An original letter to him from Mr. Camden, was found in 1772 by Mr. Jeffs, as he was putting the books of the Inner Temple Library in order. There is another copy in the Harleian Library, 7017-19; from a collection of Camden's letters, in the possession of T. Hearne.

" OLD OSWESTRY, a place in the parish of Selattyn. A military post, it lies about one mile from Oswestry, upon an insulated eminence of an oblong form, surrounded by two ramparts and fosses of great height and depth. Another deep foss or ditch at the bottom of the hill, surrounds the whole, and ends, as do the two others, at the two entrances; which are placed diagonally opposite to each other. On the slope of the hill, on both sides of the original entrance, are a range of oblong trenches, running transversely between the second ditch and another, which seems to be designed for their immediate protection; for the first extends no farther than these trenches; the other, to no great distance beyond them. The top is an extensive area, containing fifteen acres, three roods, and eight perches of fertile ground; and the fortifications which encompass it, cannot be less than forty or fifty acres, covered with timber, brushwood, and brambles. A well, probably for the purpose of hiding treasure, was discovered here; a pavement in another place, perhaps to prevent the horses, &c., from injuring the ground; and pieces of iron, like armour. In 1767, as much timber was cut down from the ramparts as sold for £17,000. ' Remarking to a gentleman,' says Mr. Hutton, 'that I had gleaned some anecdotes relative to Oswald, he asked me if I had seen Old Oswestry, where, he assured me, the town formerly stood. I smiled, and answered him in the negative. He then told me, 'that the town had travelled three quarters of a mile to the place where it had taken up its present abode.' This belief, I found had been adopted by others with whom I conversed.'

This place is also sailed Hen Ddinas, (old place) and anciently Caer Ogyrfan, from Ogyrfan, a hero, co-existent with Arthur. There is no certainty of the origin of it: some ascribe it to Oswald or to Penda, and imagine that it was possessed, before the battle of Maserfield, by one of these princes. Others think it to have been the work of the ancient Britons; for its constrnction, even to the oblong trenches, is British; that of Bryn y Cloddiau, on the Clwydian hills, which divide Flintshire from the vale of Clwyd, is a similar work. It is evident that this magnificent work was not a sudden operation, like that of a camp, but that it was a work of immense labour and ample security. There are two or three out-posts. Of the ancient Britons, Speed speaks thus: ' Now touching their domestick matters, their buildings were many, and like to them of the Gauls: notwithstanding they gave the name of towns to certain combersome woods, which they have fortified with rampires and ditches, whither they retreat and resort to eschue the invasions of their enemies. Which stand them in good stead, for when they have, by felling of trees, mounted and fenced therewith a spacious round plot of ground, there they build for themselves houses and cottages; and for their cattell set up stals and folds, but those for the present use only, and not for long continuance.'

A great dyke and foss, called WATT's DYKE, is continued from each side of this post. This work is little known, notwithstanding it is equal in depth, though not in extent, to that of Offa, with which it has been frequently confounded. Of the formation of this dyke as to time or occasion, no authentick information can be found. It runs nearly in a direction with that of Offa, (See Offa's Dyke,) but at unequal distances, from five hundred yards to four miles. The space intervening between the two was considered as free ground, where the Britons, Danes, &c., might meet with safety for commercial purposes. Camden says, that below the castle of Whittington, Wrenoc, the son of Meyric, received certain lands, which he was to hold by the service of being the King's (Henry the second) latimer or interpreter between the parties.

' There is a famous thing
Called Offa's Dyke, that reacheth farre in length;
All kind of ware the Danes might thither bring,
It was free ground, and called the Britons' strength.
Watt's Dyke, likewise, about the same was set,
Between which two, the Danes and Britons met,
And traffic still, but passing bounds by sleight,
The one did take the other pris'ner streight.

Watt's dyke appears at Maesbury, in the parish of Oswestry, and terminates at the Dee, below the abbey of Basingwerk. The southern end of the line is lost in morassy grounds; but was probably continued to the river Severn. It extends its course from Maesbury, to the Mile-oak; from thence, through a field called Maes y garreg lwyd, between two remarkable pillars of unhewn stone; passes by the town, sad from thence to Old Oswestry, and by Pentreclawdd, to Gobowen, the site of a small fort called Bryn y Castell, in the parish of Whittington; runs by Prys Henlle and Belmont; crosses the Ceiriog, between Brynkinallt and Post y Blew forge, and the Dee below Nant y Bela; from whence it passes through Wynn-stay-park, by another Pentreclawdd, to Erdigg, where there was another strong fort on its course; from Erdigg it runs above Wrexham, near Melia Puleston, by Dolydd, Maesgwyu, Rhos-ddu, Croes-oneiras, &c.; goes ever the Alun, and through the township of Llai, to Rhydin, in the county of Flint; above which is Caer-estyn, a British post: from hence it runs by Hope church along the side of Molesdale, which it quits towards the lower part, and turns to Mynydd Sychdyn, Monachlog, near Northop, by Northop mills, Brynsmoel Coed y Llys, Nant y Flint, Cefn y Coed, through the Strand fields, near Holywell, to its termination below the abbey of Basingwerk. A dyke and rampart, similar in appearance, and not unlike in name, runs through the counties of Wilts and Somerset, called Wans Dyke, perhaps from gwan, a perforation."

" PORKINGTON, a township in the parish of Selattyn, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry.

Porkington, the seat of W. Ormsby Gore, Esq., is about 1 mile west of Oswestry. This place takes its name from a singular entrenchment in a neighbouring field, called Casten Brogynton, a fort belonging to Owen Brogynton, a natural son of Owen Madoc ap Meredydd, prince of Powis Vadog. It is of a circular form, surrounded by a vast earthen dike, and a deep fosse. It appears, by an old drawing in Mr. Mytton's collection, to have had two entrances, pretty close to each other, projecting a little from the sides and diverging; the end of each guarded by a semi-lunar curtain. These are now destroyed. The whole parish consists of a single township, which also bears the same title with the mansion: The name of the house was soon altered into one very nearly resembling the present. In 1218, Henry III. in an address to Llewelyn, prince of Wales, informs him, that among others, Bleddyn Filius Oeni de Porkinton had performed to his majesty the service he owed. We must now make a very long transition from this period, to that which produced another distinguished personage of this family. Here is preserved the portrait of Sir John Owen, knight, of Cleneney, in Caernarvonshire; a gallant officer and strenuous supporter of the cause of Charles I. He greatly signalized himself at the siege of Bristol, when it was taken by Prince Rupert, and was desperately wounded in the attack. Congenial qualities recommended him to his highness; who, superseding the appointment of archbishop Williams to the government of Conway Castle, in 1645, constituted Sir John commander in his place. This fortress was soon given up to General Mytton, by the contrivance of the prelate, and the power of his friends: and the knight retired to his seat in the distant parts of the county. In 1648, he rose in arms to make a last effort on behalf of his fallen master, probably in concert with the royalists in Kent and Essex. He was soon attacked by William Lloyd sheriff of the shire, whom he defeated, wounded, and made prisoner. He then laid siege to Caernarvon; but hearing that some of the parliament forces under colonels Carter and Twisleton, were on their march to attack him, he hastened to meet them, and took the sheriff with him on a litter. He met with his enemies near Llandegai: a furious action ensued, in which at first Sir John had the advantage; but falling in with the reserve, fortune turned against him: in a personal contest with a Captain Taylor, he was pulled off his horse, and made prisoner; and his troops, disheartened by the loss of their commander, took to flight. The messenger who brought the news of this victory to the parliament, received a reward of £200, out of Sir John's estate. Sir John was conveyed to Windsor Castle, where he found four noblemen under confinement for the same cause.

Nov. 10th, a vote passed for his banishment, and that of the four lords, and major-gen. Langhern; but after the execution of their royal master, sanguinary measures took place. The duke of Hamilton, the earl of Holland, and lords Goring and Capel, were put upon their trials. Sir John shewed a spirit worthy of his country. He told his judges, that "he was a plain gentleman of Wales, who had been always taught to obey the king; that he had served him honestly during the war; and finding many honest men endeavoured to raise forces, whereby they might get him out of prison, he did the like;" and concluded like a man who did not care what they resolved concerning him. In the end he was condemned to lose his head; for which, with a humourous intrepidity, he made the court a low reverence, and gave his humble thanks. A bystander asking him what he meant, he replied aloud, "It was a great honour to a poor gentleman of Wales to lose his head with such noble lords; for by G-, he was afraid they would have hanged him." Sir John by more good fortune, was disappointed of the honour he was flattered with; being as his epitaph says, Fumae plus quam vitae sollicitus. He neither solicited for a pardon, nor was any petition made to parliament in his favour; which was strongly importuned in behalf of his fellow prisoners. Ireton proved his advocate, and told the house, "That there was one person for whom no one speaks a word: and therefore requested, that he might be saved by the sole motive and goodness of the house." In consequence, mercy was extended to him; and after a few months imprisonment, he was set at liberty. He retired again into his own country, where he died in 1666; and was interred in the church of Penmorva, Caernarvonshire, where there is a small monument, with a latin epitaph, to his memory.

Meredith Hanmer was born at Porkington, in the year 1543. He became chaplain of Corpus Christi college, Oxford, and on entering into holy orders, was presented to the vicarage of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch. He afterwards obtained the living of Islington, and lastly went to Dublin, where he was appointed treasurer of the church of Holy Trinity. He died in 1604. His works are 1. A Chronography; in folio. 2. A translation of the Ecclesiastical Historians; in folio. 3. The Chronicle of Ireland; in folio. 4. A Sermon on the Baptism of a Turk."

[Transcribed information from A Gazetteer of Shropshire - T Gregory - 1824](unless otherwise stated)

[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]