SHREWSBURY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1824.
"SHREWSBURY, comprises the parishes of St. Chad, St. Mary, St. Alkmund, St. Julian, and Holy Cross St. Giles, and is the capital of Shropshire, a market and borough town in the liberties of Shrewsbury. 154 miles northwest of London. Market, Wednesday and Saturday. Fairs, second Wednesday in every month. LAT. 44½ N. LONG.2 51 W.
In 1821, the population of the borough of Shrewsbury was thus returned:
The parish of St. Alkmund, 368 houses 1712 inhab.
-- St. Chad, 1322 -- 7214 --
-- *HolyCross & St.Giles 299 -- 1444 --
-- St. Julian, 506 -- 2556 --
Part of the parish of St. Mary, 955 -- 5328 --
+Parish of Meole Brace, 213 -- 1348 --
[* But great part of this parish is not in the borough.]
[+ This parish is not in the borough.]
Shrewsbury is situated on two hills of gentle ascent, composed of a light, dry, reddish earth, and formed by the Severn into a peninsula. the ground gradually sloping in most parts to the river. The extremities on the east, west, and north, are lengthened into extensive suburbs; the two former are on the opposite banks of the Severn. The bold situation of the town, rising amidst a vast plain backed with mountains, its summit crowned with lofty steeples, the venerable castle towering over the isthmus, the encircling river, with the two handsome stone bridges, produce altogether a scene of singular beauty and grandeur. The prospects commanded from every side of the town, over a rich and well cultivated country, adorned. by the meanderings of the Severn; which is here clear, wide and rapid, are perhaps not inferior to any in the island.
Few large towns enjoy so pure an air as Shrewsbury. Its elevated situation, the natural dryness of the soil, and the excellence of its water, contribute, doubtless, to the salubrity for which it is so remarkable. Speed justly observes:- " Wholsom is the aire, delectable and goode, yeelding the springe and the autumne, seede time and harueste, in a temperate condition, and affoordeth health to the inhabitants in all seasons of the yeere."
Shrewsbury was by the Saxons Galled Scrobbesbyrig, or Scrobbesbyri, and by the Britons Pengwerne. Both signify nearly the same; "the head of the Alder Groves." The ancient Welsh also called it Ymwithig, or the Delight, probably of its Princes; and it is still so denominated by their descendants. When the Normans became possessed of the finest parts of our island, they often changed the names of places, perhaps on account of their inability to pronounce the harsh terms used by the Saxons. Thus Scrobbes-byrig, the Saxon name of Shrewsbury, was softened into Shrobbesburie and Sloppesburie, from whence was formed our modern Shrewsbury and Salop. Our early antiquary and poet, Leland, in his description of this town, thus accounts for its name:-
Edita Pinguerni late vestigia splendent, Urbs sita lunato veluti mediamnis in orbe, Colle tumet modico, duplici quoque ponte superbit, Accipiens patria sibi lingua nomen ab alnis.
Shrewsbury occupies nearly the whole of the peninsula on which it stands. A narrow margin of meadow and garden ground runs between the walls and the river, with little interruption, except on the west and north sides, where streets approach close to the banks, and are therefore frequently incommoded by the torrents that rush down from the mountains of Montgomeryshire.- The exterior circle of the town is lined with an almost unbroken range of handsome houses, most of which have the delightful accommodation of a garden opening to the fields, and from their windows command views of the adjacent country which is highly beautiful.
On the western side is a publick walk called the Quarry, which occupies a rich meadow of about twenty acres, gradually sloping to the river. An avenue of well grown limes, more than five hundred yards in length, follows the windings of the stream and forms the principal walk, which is connected with the town by three others, shaded also with trees. The formal effect that would have been produced by this disposition of the ground is broken by a cold clump of horse-chesnut and lime trees, nearly in the centre of the meadow. The opposite bank of the Severn, which rises abruptly, is crowned with the House of Industry, an extensive and handsome building, and some modern plantations about it contribute greatly, to embellish the scene. On the town side the new Church of St. Chad and many good houses appear amidst the trees, while the ancient spires are seen in the distance, The cool and sequestered situation of the Quarry, from which the usual appendages of a town are entirely excluded, the fine verdure with which it is constantly clothed, the graceful sweep of its noble avenue and the winding course of the river Severn, make it one of the most pleasant publick walks in the kingdom. The ground was planted and laid out during the mayoralty of Henry Jenks, Esq. in the year 1719. A soft red sand stone had been formerly raised here, from whence the walk received its name, and the remainder, before it was appropriated to the present excellent purpose, was a kind of a waste place where the inhabitants were used to indulge in feats of wrestling, tilting, and other sports. On the west side are still to be traced the remains of a rural amphitheatre, with ascending seats cut in the bank. On this spot it is probable that the friars of the adjoining Augustinian Convent entertained the Salopians with those ancient, sacred, dramas called mysteries, or Whitsun plays, for which the religious of Coventry and Chester were so celebrated. These were certainly performed here after the reformation, for in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Ashton, the master of the school, exhibited several, in which his scholars acted the principal parts. Among them, in 1565, was a play called Julian the Apostate, and two years afterwards was exhibited the Passion of Christ. It is said that the Queen herself intended to have honoured the last with her presence, and had even arrived as far as Coventry on her way, but hearing that it was over, she returned to London.
The interior of Shrewsbury, does not by any means correspond with its delightful external appearance. Like those of our ancient towns, in general the streets are irregularly disposed, some of them steep and narrow, and all very indifferently paved. Modern houses here and there mix their red brick fronts with the sharp-pointed timber gables of our ancestors, and the close wooden-built alley, called 'a Shut' in the provincial dialect of the place, is every where seen connecting the principal streets with each other. Although the gravelly banks on which the town stands afford a fall in every direction, by which it might easily be kept free from filth and damp, the advantages of this peculiarly happy situation have hitherto, been but little regarded. Considerable improvements have however been made, and are now making; but Shrewsbury still needs the adoption of a well considered plan of progressive improvement, such as has been put in practise in almost every other place of equal size and consequence; by this means, it might be rendered, in a very few years, one of the most eligible country towns in England; a measure which would doubtles in the end, not contribute to the credit only, but to the health and comfort of the inhabitants.
The markets are plentifully and excellently supplied, but are extremely deficient in those convenient and necessary accommodations, now met with in almost every town, even of inferior consequence. Beside the Severn salmon caught on the spot, a great quantity is received from Wales, and of late years the best kinds of sea fish have been brought here in good condition.
For its excellent brawn, and a kind of sweet flat cake, Shrewsbury has been always distingnished. The latter derives its name from the town, where great quantities are sold
" For here each season do those cakes abide,
" Whose honoured names th' inventive city own,
" Rend'ring thro' Britain's isle Salopia's praises known." SHENSTONE.
The water for drinking, which is excellent, is brought to conduits from a remarkably strong spring, at the distance of about two miles; and an engine on the river affords a copious supply for domestick purposes. Good coals are delivered by a canal from the great collieries of Ketley and its vicinity, at about fourteen shillings per ton, besides which, a clear swift burning coal is brought from Welbach, within three miles of the place. The Severn navigation transports all foreign articles of consumption from Bristol, and since the junction of the Thames and the Severn, from London also. The Ellesmere canal opens a communication with Liverpool.
Shrewsbury consists of five parishes, of which St. Chad's is by far the most populous. The earliest calculation extant of the number of inhabitants, was made in the year 1695; it then appeared that the whole town contained 7,383 persons. In the year 1750, there were 8,141. According to the return made on the enumeration act of 1801, the numbers in each of the parishes were as follow:-
St. Chad's 5,760
St. Mary's 3,324
St. Julian's 1,778
St. Alkmunds 1,417
Holy Cross 1,290
Total 13,479 [See p. 490.]
But as all the parishes extend into the country, the number of inhabitants contained within the town and suburbs only, was estimated at not more than 12,000. This town has long been celebrated for affording good society. Its beautiful situation and plentiful market, have probably induced persons of independent fortunes to settle here, and it has attracted many of the opulent families of the county as a winter residence. Numerous mansions of the ancient Shropshire gentry which still remain, prove that this was the fashion in old times, and at present there are very few provincial towns, that in this respect, can vie with Shrewsbury.
The trade of this town was once esteemed of great importance to the kingdom, and though its consequence has somewhat been eclipsed by the subsequent increase of other places, yet it has never been destitute of a considerable share of internal commerce. In the reigns of Henry the eighth and Elizabeth, it was distinguished for its glove and shoe manufactories. But its ancient traffic in Welch woollens was so very valuable, as in a great measure to have been the cause of its former opulence, and is even at present a source of no inconsiderable emolument
Mr. Pennant, in his account of Shrewsbury written more than thirty years ago, presents us with the state of this trade, both in ancient times and at the period in which he wrote. ' From very early days this place possessed almost exclusively the trade with Wales in a coarse kind of woollen cloth called Welsh webbs, which were brought from Merioneth and Montgomeryshire to a market held here weekly on Thursdays. They were afterwards dressed, that is, the wool raised on one side, by a set of people called Shearmen. At the time of Queen Elizabeth, the trade was so great, that not fewer than 600 persons maintained themselves by this occupation. The cloth was sent chiefly to America to clothe the negroes, or to Flanders, where it is used by the peasants. At present the greatest part of this traffick is diverted into other channels, and not more than four or five hundred thousands yards are brought to the ancient mart. Flannels both coarse and fine are purchased at Welsh-Pool, on every other Monday, by the drapers of Shrewsbury, who now principally enjoy this branch of commerce.'
The webbs of coarse cloth are made in the higher parts of the counties of Montgomery and Merioneth, and in the portion of Denbighshire near Corwen. More than two-thirds of this manufacture are even at present brought to the Shrewsbury market.- The flannels are made in the lower parts of Montgomeryshire, chiefly in the districts about Llanidloes and Newtown. Twenty-five or thirty years ago, the prices given by the Shrewsbury Merchants for these were from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per yard, but so greatly has the manufacture been since improved, that they now produce a much higher price. Both the webbs and flannels until lately were manufactured only in the farm houses, and the larger farmers employed their female domesticks at leisure hours in this business. They seldom carried to market more than four or five pieces in the year, and those made in general from the wool of their own flocks. But the principal flannel manufacturers were small farmers, who rented from twenty to thirty pounds a year; these maintained servants solely for that purpose, and hired weavers by the year. They produced forty or fifty pieces annually at market, each containing from 100 to 160 yards, according to the fineness; and as it was a ready money trade, many of them made considerable sums. At present, chiefly from the introduction of spinning mills, this ancient domestick manufacture of the Welsh is greatly on the decline. The Thursdays webb market is entirely disused, and the drapers purchase their goods by their agents in the country. There are not more than twenty shearmen in employment, because the mode of raising the wool on one side, described by Mr. Pennant, has been laid aside, as weakening the texture of the cloths.
In the year 1790, a considerable manufactory of linen yarn was established at the end of the suburb called Castle- Foregate, by Messrs. Benyons and Bage, of this place, and Mr. Marshall of Leeds. This has already attained to great perfection under the spirited and skilful management of those gentlemen, who are entitled to just praise for their humane and judicious attentions to the health and morals of the numerous young persons whom they employ. The buildings are very extensive, and are secured from the ravages of fire by the exclusion of timber from almost every part of their construction. The roofs and floors are supported on brick vaults, the window frames, and all other parts where wood is used in buildings, are here of cast-iron. The machinery which is of wonderful contrivance, is worked by two steam engines.
A small manufacture of woollen cloths and baize has long existed in the town, and a considerable trade is carried on with North Wales, which is to a great degree supplied with groceries and other articles of domestick consumption, from Shrewsbury.
The town is a Corporation by prescription. Charters and immunities have been granted to it by almost every King of England from William the Norman to James II. The first regular charter seems to have been given by Henry I. in consideration of an annual payment of forty marks to the crown, ten of which were for a brace of hunters, which the burgesses were to provide for the royal stable. In the reign of King John, the burgesses are empowered to chuse two officers, called Praepositi or Bailiffs, who were not to be removed from their office while they behaved well. [The business of these Praepositi, afterwards called Bailiffs, seems at first to have been principally, to receive the rent of the town for the King.] Edward III. empowered the Bailiffs to hold a session to try causes, who then became magistrates. In the 12th of Richard II. it is ordered, that the Burgesses shall elect from among themselves, twelve persons for the future good government of the town, to continue in their station for two years,- this appears to have been the original institution of Aldermen. Charles the first changed the offices of Bailiffs, into that of Mayor, and established the Corporation nearly as it now exists. It consists of a Mayor, Recorder, Steward, Town Clerk, twenty four Aldermen, forty eight Assistants or Common Council Men, two Chamberlains, a Sword Bearer, Sergeants at Mace, &c. Four general Quarter Sessions, are held in the course of the year, and the Mayor and some of the Aldermen, who are Magistrates, attend in the Exchequer every Tuesday, between the hours of twelve and two, to administer publick justice.
The borough of Shrewsbury sent members to parliament ab initio. These have sometimes been chosen by the burgesses at large, and at others by the inhabiting burgesses only. The last contest was in the year 1796, when the return was made according to the votes of the inhabiting burgesses who had been legally assessed to the parish rates. The Hon. Grey Bennet, brother of the Earl of Tankerville, and Panton Corbet, Esq., son of Archdeacon Corbet, are the present members of parliament.
Besides the Corporation, there are sixteen chartered companies, the most considerable of which are the Drapers' and the Mercers'. The first was incorporated by Edward IV. who united with it an ancient guild or fraternity of the Holy Trinity, founded in the Church of St. Mary. They have now a considerable estate, which is chiefly employed in charitable donations. The mercers were incorporated by Edward IV. in 1480, on condition that they should maintain a priest to sing at the altar of St. Michael, in the Collegiate Church of St. Chad; that they should give a penny per week to thirteen poor men to pray for the good estate of the King, his family and themselves; and also find a wax taper to be carried before the holy sacrament on the procession of Corpus Christi.
It was customary in ancient times for all the companies to unite in the celebration of the day of Corpus Christi, that is the feast of the holy Sacrament or body of our Lord, one of the most splendid festivals of the Roman Church, as their grand anniversary. Preceded by their Masters and Wardens, and graced with colours and devices, they attended the Bailiffs and members of the Corporation, who with the Cannons of St. Chad and St. Mary, the Friars of the Convents, and the Parochial Clergy, followed the holy Sacrament, which was borne by Priests, under a rich canopy of velvet or silk, to a stone cross without the town, probably that called the Weeping Cross. Here all joined in bewailing their sins, and in chaunting forth petitions for a plentiful harvest; they then proceeded in the same order to the Church of St. Chad, where each company had a particular place in its choir, and a grand mass was celebrated. Several of the trades were obliged to provide necessaries for this procession, particularly wax tapers, which were carried before the host, and afterwards placed on the altar of St. Michael, in St. Chad's Church. The festival was followed by three days disport and recreation, as they were termed, either in the onsuing week, or at an early time agreed upon by the several wardens. These were held on the piece of ground called Kingsland, where each company had its " Arbour," and where the Bailiffs and Corporation regaled themselves at the expense of all the companies. After the reformation, the religious ceremony was of course abolished, but one day of entertainment is still observed, under the denomination of the Show, and is always the second Monday after Trinity Sunday. The companies assemble about noon, before the castle, accompanied by their wardens, flags, devices, and musick; most of them having also a man on horseback, gaudily dressed, called the King, intended originally, perhaps, for a representation of the Monarchs who granted their charters.
Thus the King of the Cloth-workers personates Edward the fourth; the King of the Masons, Henry the eighth; the Barbers march with a Queen, perhaps our celebrated Queen Elizabeth. The devices are emblematical of the trades. The Saddlers lead a caparisoned horse; the Smiths and Armourers are preceded by a Knight in complete harness; the Hatters and Furriers by an American Indian; the Skinners by the figure of a stag, as large as life, attended by huntsmen sounding bugle horns. The procession moves over the Welsh bridge to Kingsland, where each company has its enclosed arbour or pavillion, adorned with the arms of the company, in which a cold dinner is prepared. These are visited by the Mayor and corporation, who used formerly to wear their robes of office upon this occasion. They go on horseback, preceded by the beadles, crier, &c., bareheaded, and are all hospitably entertained at the arbours of the respective trades. The day is spent in festivity, and towards the close of the evening the companies leave this delightful spot, and return to the town over the Abbey bridge. Several of these have ceased to make part of the procession, and this ancient pageant, a lively picture of the taste of former days, is gradually approaching its dissolution.
No ancient English town of its size, has more abounded in great edifices, which the necessity of self-defence, or a spirit of piety had raised, than Shrewsbury. Of the first kind were its strong Castle, its walls, gates, and fortified bridges. Of the latter, besides the rich mitred Benedictine Abbey, were three Convents, two Collegiate and three Parish Churches, and various smaller religious buildings. Of all these, time and the modern spirit of improvement, have made deplorable havock. Fragments however, remain throughout the town, which point out its former dignity, though the only ancient structure that has been entirely spared, is the venerable Church of St. Mary.
The events which belong to the Castle, are intimately connected with the history of the town. Its founder Roger de Montgomery, made it his residence soon after the conquest, and it became the chief seat of his baronial power. Mr. Pennant indeed assigns to it a more remote origin, and from its exploratory mount, thinks it of British foundation. But it is very probable that the high raised mound, was by our earliest Norman Lords considered as a part of military architecture, and very often adopted by them in their Castles. As his new possessions had heen acquired by the sword, Earl Roger considered the inhabitants as his property. Accordingly he scrupled not to destroy fifty-one houses, a fifth part of the whole town at that time, without recompense to the owners, to make room for his intended buildings. After the fall of the great house of Montgomery, in the reign of Henry the first, on the forfeiture of Earl Robert de Belesme, the Castle became a royal fortress. Its defence was entrusted to a Constable, usually the Sheriff, who maintained the prison of the county within its walls, and a part of its vast estate was parcelled out to various Knights, on the condition of their keeping castle- ward for a certain number of days during war. It was at this time considered rather as a place of great consequence in protecting the country from the incursions of the Welsh, than as a royal or baronial residence.
When, by the union with Wales, all apprehension on this ground had vanished, the importance of the Castle as a fortress ceased. In the reign of Henry the eighth, it seems to have been rapidly hastening to decay. Leland, who then saw it, observes that it had been a 'stronge thynge, but nowe much in ruine.' The whole was leased by Queen Elizabeth, for a mark yearly, to Richard Onslow Esq., who appears to have conveyed his interest in it to the Corporation.
During the unhappy civil war in the reign of Charles the first, the Castle resumed some share of its ancient importance. It was garrisoned for the King; its shattered walls were repaired, and its gates strongly fortified. After its shameful surrender to the parliament forces in 1645, it escaped the destruction that fell upon many othor castles. It owed this exception from the general state of the royal fortresses, to the circumstance of its being entrusted by the House of Commons to the government of Colonel Mitton. This able officer, displeased with the virulent persecution of the King, soon after resigned his commission, and Colonel Mackworth had then the charge of it; who was succeeded by Colonel Hunt. After the restoration of Charles the second, the property of the Castle returned to the Burgesses, who in 1663, surrenderod it to the King. That Monarch presented it to Francis, Viscount Newport, afterwards Earl of Bradford. It continued, however, in a fortified state some time longer, containing a large magazine of arms, which were not removed till the reign of James the second. About this time probably, the outworks were in a great measure destroyed, and its ancient chapel demolished. The part still remaining was leased by the Earl of Bradford to Mr. Gosnell, of Rossall, about the year 1730. This gentleman converted it into a gloomy inconvenient habitation, in which state it remained until its late possessor Sir William Pulteney, repaired and greatly improved it. It is now the property of Lord Darlington.
The Castle has undergone so many changes, and has suffered so much from the dilapidations of peaceful times, rather than from the ravages of war, that it is not easy to form any correct notion of its original state. Its present appearance certainly does not convey an adequate idea of the size, the dignity, or the strength of a great baronial fortress, placed on so important a spot as Shrewsbury was once esteemed.
It stands upon a narrow neck of land, not more than 500 yards in breadth, made by the windings of the Severn, which in every other part, by surrounding Shrewsbury, formed a considerable portion of its defence. The approach from the town, is by a handsome broad street, which has a slight ascent.
On the sides towards the country, it stands boldly elevated on a steep bank of brown earth. The present buildings are of red stone, and consist of the Keep, the walls of the inner court, and the great arch of the interior gate. Whether indeed, it ever occupied a greater space than is enclosed by the existing walls, cannot now be absolutely determined. It is probable that the usual appendage of feudal Castles, the outer court or ballium, with its strong gate, portcullis, and towers, once made parts of the fortress, and extended, perhaps, beyond the Council-house. The Keep, now a handsome house, consists of two round towers, embattled and pierced, connected by a square building about 100 feet in length, and nearly of the same height. The interior has been so entirely altered, that it is impossible to conjecture the original disposition of its parts. The entrance opens upon a handsome stone stair case, erected at the time of the late reparation:- when also the vestibule was adorned by a statue of Earl Roger, copied from his figure on the tower of the Abbey Church. This stair case conducts to the principal apartments, which, except a modern circular dining room, are all on the first and second floors. The drawing room is very spacious, and from the style of ornament on its door, appears to have assumed its present form in the time of Charles the first, when it was the guard chamber. An obscure stone stair case within the wall, lighted by narrow chinks, leads to an apartment in the western tower, in which was a recess, having once a strong groined ceiling, with small sharp pointed windows. This building does not appear to be older than the time of Henry the third; the walls are ten feet in thickness, and the beams are of an uncommon size.
As these last are enriched with uniform carved work, it seems not improbable that the part between the towers, consisted originally of one large apartment on each of the upper floors. The present pointed arches of the door and windows, were inserted when the castle was last repaired. The area of the court is cleared of buildings, and converted into a pleasant garden. On a circular grass plot in this area the newly elected Knights of the shire have for many ages been girt with their swords by the Sheriff. The battlements of the western wall are pierced with narrow cruciform openings, called loops or oilets which were intended for the convenience of the cross-bow men.
The arch of the gate way is certainly part of the original Castle of Roger de Montgomery. It is about 18 feet high, semicircular, and with plain round facings. Its walls appear to have sustained a tower, from whence hung the portcullis. On the other side of the court is a postern, built probably in the time of Charles the first, when the fortress was restored; and near it are the massive foundations of an ancient tower. On the south side of the court, and included within it, is a lofty mount, which rises abruptly from the edge of the Severn. The summit is surrounded with a wall, now much in ruins, on one corner of which, there was formerly a small watch tower, for the purpose of descrying an enemy at a distance. This has lately been in part rebuilt, and converted into a beautiful summer room. The sides and crown of the mount are very ornamental to the surrounding country. From this eminence there is a view of uncommon grandeur and beauty. The Severn winds majestically, immediately below. The eye of the spectator beholds in succession, the town with its spires and turrets, the Free Schools, the House of Industry crowning a green eminence, the extensive suburbs of Abbey Foregate, with its venerable church, and the most extensive amphitheatre of mountains, which the island can boast.- The Wrekin is connected by the gentle hills of Acton Burnell, and Frodesley, (over which rises the gigantick summit of the brown Clee) with the Lawley and Caradoc, or Querdoc, generally called the Stretton hills; from whence the Long Mynd, Stiperstone, and Long Mountain, form an uninterrupted chain, with the bold and precipitous cliffs of the Kefn y Castyr, Moel y Golfa, and Breddyn, surmounted by an obelisk in honour of the late Lord Rodney:- thence the horizon is bounded by the stupendous Berwin range, losing its blue summits in the clouds:- while the northern view is terminated by the humbler, but beautiful eminences of Grinshill, Pymhill, Hawkstone, Haughmond, &c., round to the Wrekin. This immense circle incloses a finely wooded and beautifully diversified champaign country of gentle hill and dale, watered by various streams,- eminently fertile, both arable and pasture,- and amply justifying the eulogium of an ancient poet, who after gazing, as he tells us, on the plain of Shropshire, from the height of Charlton hill emphatically styles it the paradise of Cymru. [The Webb word for the principality of Wales.]
It is remarkable that though this ancient Castle has been private property for more than a century, it still retains one appendage of its former dignity when held by the Sheriffs as representatives of tho Crown; the Knights of the Shire are chosen within its walls.
When the frontier situation of Shrewsbury is considered, and it is remembered that during four centuries, it was, perhaps the most important station on the marches of Wales, it is extraordinary that though it has several times fallen into the enemies' power by treachery and surprise, it never sustained more than two sieges, and those in rather early periods of its history. This circumstance may partly be attributed to the slender hopes an adverse army must have entertained, of reducing by regular approaches, a place so strongly fortified both by nature and art; for it was not only defended by its Castle, but by a wall which completely surrounded it.
The first stone rampart was erected by Earl Robert de Belesme. This extended only across the isthmus, from the Castle to the river on each side; but after severe calamities inflicted on Shrewsbury and its neighbourhood by Prince Llewellyn and the rebellious Barons under the Earl of Pembroke, the inhabitants were strongly urged by Henry the third to build a wall round the whole town:- This work, with the assistance of the royal bounty, they accomplished in thirty two years. As additional rampart called Roushill was added by order of the Protector Cromwell, and is said to have been erected with the materials of Shrawardine Castle. This rampart extended from the end of the wall of Earl Robert at the river's edge to the Welsh bridge, and though ruinous, forms a useful connecting walk between the western and the northern ends of the town.
The ramparts on the north and east sides of the town, have long been destroyed, and their foundations, which may easily be traced, support modern houses. On the south, a considerable portion remains, which is kept in tolerable repair as a publick walk; but it has been so evidently reduced in height, and so entirely stripped of its ancient battlements, and is now so broken and interrupted, that it does not probably retain much of its original appearance. According to Leland, who behold the fortifications entire, ' the towne was more than a myle within the walls in compasse.' It could not have been less than a mile and half, by our present mode of computation.
There were formerly three principal GATES to Shrewsbury; one near the castle called the North Gate, and one on each of the bridges; that on the east called the Abbey Gate, and that on the west the Welsh Gate. They are all now taken down.
The old Welsh Bridge was a fine specimen of the fortified bridge of ancient times; and was considered the chief architectural ornament of the town. It consistod of seven arches, and had gates at each end, in the highest style of castellated building. That on the Welsh side of the Severn was secured by a strong outwork; and in order to guard the ford below, the battlements nearest it were raised to a great height and pierced with loop holes. Over the gate was a massive sqnare tower, with its herse, and battlements. The chamber above it served, in later times, as a guard-house for soldiors. This tower was taken down about the year 1770. The gate nearest the town stood on the bridge, within one arch of its extremity, and was uncommonly beautiful. Its arch on the north side, constructed in the most graceful manner of the pointed style, was furnished with a portcullis, and doors studded with iron; above it was a chamber lighted by a narrow window, and over that a perforated battlement, peculiarly deep, and projecting much from the walls. In a canopied niche in the centre of this, was the statue of a knight in complete armour, resting one hand on his breast, and pointing with the other to a device carved on a corbeil below, which was three roses on a stalk. The surtout was emblazoned with the arms of England and France quarterly. Many varying and erroneous conjectures formerly prevailed respecting this statue, but it is now understood, by the most judicious antiquaries to represent Richard Duke of York, the father of Edward the Fourth, and the once popular favourite and patron of Shrewsbury. The device of three roses on a stem, probably denoting his sons Edward, George, and Richard, corresponds with that found on his seals; and as he was the only prince of his family who ever used it, this circumstance amounts to a proof that the statue was designed for him.- On one side of the niche was a shield with the arms of England and France quarterly, and on the other, those of the corporation. To each angle of the tower there was a singularly elegant turret, the basis resting on the piers of the bridge. The side of this gate which fronted the town was equally beautiful, though of an entirely different structure; having been probably one of the earliest attempts made in the kingdom towards the revival of the Grecian and Roman style of architecture. The great opening was square, without an arch. Above was a lofty embattled tower, the front of which was adorned by two composite twisted columns, rudely designed, resting on scrolls, having a circular headed niche between, and supporting a regular entablature, frieze, and cornice. On the left hand, on a mantle, was a shield with the arms of the corporation, enclosed within fluted pilasters, and on the other, a patera charged with the cross of St. George. This front was erected in the year 1539; the other from the dissimilarity of the styles, was evidently the production of a much earlier period. In 1791, this beautiful and curious gate being considered as endangering the safety of the bridge, was demolished by order of the corporation, to the regret of every lover of antiquities, and of every person of taste acquainted with the transaction. This regret, however, sooner or later was inevitable, for the bridge itself, being always inconvenient, and having at length become ruinous, was shortly afterwards taken down. The statue and shields belonging to the gate had been preserved, and were placed in conspicuous situations at the end of the market house.
The tolls arising from the transit of marketable goods through the gates, were abolished by the payment of £6,000 to the corporation, which sum was raised by publick subscription. Soon afterwards a fund of £8,000 was procured in a similar way, the corporation advancing £4,000, for the rebuilding of the Welsh bridge, which was completed in 1795.
It is a convenient and substantial structure, consisting of five elegant arches, the whole length being 266 feet, the breadth 80, and the height 90. A quay faced with stone, connects it with the town, at the end of the street called Mardol, and is lined with warehouses. The approaches to the other end, in the suburb of Frankwell, are unsightly and inconvenient, and but ill accord with so handsome an edifice.
The original English or East Bridge, was probably the joint work of the abbots and burgesses, but the period of its erection is uncertain. It was constructed on seventeen arches in different styles and of various dimensions. Within two arches of the eastern extremity, was a gate and strong embattled tower, with its chamber and portcullis, and beyond it a drawbridge. When the tower was taken down in 1765, several materials were found in it, which apparently belonged to the ruins of the neighbouring Abbey.
This bridge was not more than twelve feet wide, and was moreover encumbered with houses, which occupied nearly the whole of the northern parapet, rendering the passage highly inconvenient, if not dangerous; a subscription was therefore entered into, in 1765, for widening it, according to a plan given by Mr. Mylne, the architect of Black Friars Bridge. Some progress was made in the work, but contributions flowed in so freely that it was determined to remove the old bridge, entirely, and erect a new one, according to a plan furnished by Mr. Gwyn, a native of Shrewsbury.
The first stone was laid on the 25th of June, 1769, by Sir John Astley, Bart., who gave £1000 towards the work. The whole cost amounted to upwards of £16,000. Thus, while in cities of greater commercial importance no publick works of great extent have been carried on, without the exaction of tolls and contributions, the inhabitants of this town and county, to their immortal honour, erected two noble bridges, by which the trade of the adjacent districts was freed from the burden of a vexatious tax, at a total expense of full £30,000, the whole of which was raised by voluntary subscription. This is one among the numerous instances of that publick spirit, which has often been remarked as leading chracteristick of the Salopians,
The extent of the bridge is 400 feet. It is built of the fine stone of the Grinshill quarry, on seven semicircular arches, crowned with a fine ballustrade. The central arch is 60 feet in width, and 40 in height from the low-water mark; the two arches at the extremities are 35 feet wide and 20 high. The breadth between the ballustrade is 25 feet. The best view of this elegant edifice is from the Ludlow road, where the whole is seen without obstruction; while a fine background, formed by the buildings on the eminence beyond, the remains of the castle, the bold summit of its mount, and the stately spire of St. Mary's Church, gives it a picturesque and unique effect. Perhaps in the construction of the bridge, utility was sacrificed to ornament; for owing to the great height of the centre arch, the road over it has an ascent and descent rather steep, and inconvenient. It has been observed, that the intention of the architect in giving this capacity to the centre, was to afford a freer vent to the frequent floods of the Severn.
The origin of the Abbey of St. Peter and St Paul, which stood on the eastern banks of the Severn, in the suburb which still bears its name, is involved in obscurity. It is certain, that in the time of the Saxons, a Church stood on or near this spot, and a community of monks and nuns might probably be united to it. The Danes during their ravages in the ninth century, plundered and depopulated monastick institutions, and this, it is conjectured, fell with the rest. After the quiet settlement of the kingdom under Edgar, many of the Abbey churches, which had till then lain desolate, were taken possession of by secular priests, who, swerving from the strictness of monastick discipline, were generally married, and engaged in the active concerns of Society. Such, apparently, was the state of the monastery of Shrewsbury at the time of the Norman invasion.
The church, then a rude edifice of wood, was governed by Odelirius, a priest, who, as archpresbyter or dean, presided over a college of married, secular clergy. Its district was called the parish of the City. There can be no doubt that at this period it was collegiate; for afterwards, when the Abbey was founded, it was agreed that the portion of each prebendary, at the death of the incumbent, should revert to the monks of a new Abbey. This was the cause of much litigation; it being customary for ecclesiastical livings to descend as by inheritance to the next of blood, Such claims were abolished by the statute of Henry the First. In the seminary belonging to this ancient church, a priest, named Seward, is mentioned as an eminent teacher; and to him the historian Ordericus Vitalis, son of Odelirius, owed his education.
When Roger de Montgomery took possession of his territories in Shropshire, he determined to refound the monasteries, and to introduce into them the monks of his favonrite order St. Benedict. He obtained the land on which the monastery of Shrewsbury stood from Segward, a Saxon nobleman, and in 1083 laid the foundation of a magnificent Abbey, which, when finished, was re-dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, the patrons of the ancient monastery. He endowed it liberally, and instigated his vassals, the neighbouring nobility, to enrich it with ample donations. It might seem that he was thus preparing for himself a penance for his sins; for, afterwards with the consent of his Countess Adelaisa, he retired to the holy solitude of his monastery, and received the tonsure and habit of a monk; on which occasion he presented the fraternity with the tunick of Hugh, the sainted Abbot of Cluni. In the immediate prospect of his dissolution, he invested himself with this precious relick, thus exemplifying the pitiable superstition to which our divine poet alludes:
Or they who, to be sure of Paradise, Dying, put on the weeds of Dominic, Or, in Franciscan, think to pass disguised.
In times of darkness and ignorance, the transition from the palace to the cloister excites little surprise; but when we advert to a more enlightened age, and recognize in the Emperor Charles the fifth, the same impulse which actuated Earl Roger, we cannot but wonder at the pious sophistry of that monarch in seeking to atone by solitary penance, for the disturbances which his ambition had created among mankind.
When Hugh the Red, the second son of Roger, succeeded to the earldom of Shrewsbury, he paid a solemn visit to the Abbey to do homage at the tomb of his father, on which occasion, though of a profligate and cruel character, he added greatly to the endowments of the institution; and, among other gifts, conferred on the monks the tythe of all the venison of his forests in Shropshire, that of Wenlock excepted. The rules of the order forbid us to suppose that this grant could administer to the luxury of the Benedictines; for they were equally bound to mortify their appetites, and to perform the duties of an unbounded hospitality. The barons who attended Earl Hugh, imitated his munificence, and conferred large estates on the Abbey. By these and other acquisitions, the revenues of the house were greatly enriched, and the Abbot obtained the honour of ranking among those spiritual barons who sat and voted in Parliament, had the authority of bishops within their house, wore the mitre, sandals, and gloves; carried silver crosiers in their hands, gave the episcopal benediction, conferred the lesser orders, and in some instances were exempt from all authority of the diocesan. It is uncertain when the Abbey of Shrewsbury received these high functions, but as the Abbot is mentioned among the spiritual lords who voted in Parliament of the 49th Henry the Third, they must have been conferred before the year 1265.
In the days of King Stephen when the popular passion for relicks had attained an unbounded extravagance, the monks of Shrewsbury determined not to be behind-hand with their brethren in availing themselves of so fruitful a source of opulence. After ransacking the legends of Wales for a subject, they at length had the good fortune to pitch upon one sufficiently absurd for their purpose. The body of the chaste virgin Wenefrede, whose decapitation and recapitation with the marvels attending them, had given her a high rank in the calendar of Saints, lay interred in the church of Gwytherin, in Denbighshire, the place where she died. After much fruitless negociation with the priest and the people of Gwytherin, Herbert, the Abbot of Shrewsbury, procured an order from Henry the First, for the translation of the sacred dust to his monastery. The Welshmen honoured their saint more than the king, and turned a deaf ear alike to entreaties and menaces. The Salopian monks persevering in their purpose, held a chapter, in which Robert Pennant, their prior, a Denbighshire man, who is supposed to have fabricated the legend, was commissioned to make a pilgrimage to Gwytherin and to leave no expedient untried for obtaining possession of the relicks. Assisted by a priest of Wales, two clever monks of his abbey, and the prior of Chester, he practised on the credulity of the Welsh, by pretended visions and divine warnings; the prize was given up, and the delegates returned with it in triumph to Shrewsbury. It was enshrined with groat pomp and solemnity, near the high altar of St. Peter and St. Paul. The speculation of the monks was completely successful; multitudes of pilgrims flocked with gifts to the shrine, and even nobles contended who should offer the richest donations.
One of tho most remarkable persons whom this house produced, was Robert of Shrewsbury, a monk, who was promoted to the see of Bangor, in the reign of Henry the Second. His influence in Wales excited the jealousy of King John, who imprisoned him in his own cathedral, and for his ransom obliged him to pay three hundred hawks. This eminent prelate, it is said, by his will, ordered his body to be buried, not in his cathedral church, but in the middle of the market place of Shrewsbury. So extraordinary a deviation from the popular modes of thinking, is ascribed by Fuller, either to the bishop's extreme humility, as esteeming himself unworthy to lie in consecrated ground: or to a conviction, that in those times of tumult his body would be more at rest in a common street, than within the walls of a church.
At the dissolution in 1513, when the property and possessions of this monastery fell to the crown, it appears that Henry the eighth had chosen Shrewsbury for the foundation of one of his new bishopricks. The abbey-church was to have been converted into a cathedral; part of the revenues were destined for the support of the bishop, and Dr. Bouchier, the last abbot of Leicester, was absolutely nominated to that dignity. But the treasures of Henry were squandered as rapidly as they were amassed, and his exigencies soon compelled him to abandon this as well as other measures of publick benefit which he had projected. The bailiffs and principal inhabitants of Shrewsbury in vain petitioned him to spare the buildings of the monastery; Langley, a tailor of the town, who had pnrchased them, in order to make the most of his property, demolished the greater part of the fabrick, and sold its materials. He is said even to have stripped the nave of its lead, and to have attempted to sell the bells in the western tower; but these were claimed by the parishioners, who at length recovered them by legal process.
There are very few remains of the Abbey. Its cloister, refectory, chapter-house, &c. are entirely destroyed. The ancient embattled wall, which encircles the precinct, is nearly entire on the eastern and northern sides, and presents a venerable appearance on the approach to Shrewsbury by the London road. A mansion house, with its gardens and fishpond, occupies the space within the ancient inclosure, containing about nine acres. The house itself consists partly of monastick remains, and, by modern improvements, has been converted into a handsome residence. There are some remains of out- buildings near the Meole Brook, and on the side of the street, which were probably the inferior appendages of this religious establishment.
The most interesting portion of the ruins is a little octagonal structure, six feet in diameter, which is generally called the STONE PULPIT. It stands on the south side of the garden. Some broken steps which did not originally belong to it, lead through a narrow flat-arched door to the inside. The south part stands upon a portion of the ruined wall, from which the corresponding side, projecting considerably, rests upon a single corbeil, terminating in a head. From this point it gradually spreads, with a variety of delicately ribbed mouldings, until it forms the basement under the floor. The whole is crowned by an obtuse dome of stone-work at about eight feet from the base, supported on six narrow-pointed arches, rising from pillars similar to the mullions of windows. One of the remaining sides of the octagon is a solid blank wall, and the other contains the door. The roof, within, is vaulted on eight ribs which spring from the wall immediately under the cavity of the dome. At their crossing in the centre is a boss, bearing a representation of the crucifixion, considerably relieved. The spaces between the divisions of three northern arches, are filled up, four feet above the base, with stone pannels, over which they are entirely open, and the light thus introduced is productive of a beautiful effect. On the centre pannel is a rich piece of sculpture, seemingly designed to represent the annunciation. The right-hand pannel bears the images of St. Peter and St. Paul, with appropriate symbols; that on the left had two figures in monastick habits; one a female, the other a monk. The arches on the southern side are without ornaments and are now quite open to within two feet of the floor. The beauty of this singular fragment, which is conceived not to be older than the time of Henry the Seventh, is much heightened by its thick mantle of luxuriant ivy, and by the mellow tint of its grey stone, distinguishing it from the red hue of the other remains of the Abbey.
The most probable of the many conjectures respecting the use of this structure, is, that it was the pulpit of the refectory from which, by the rule of St. Benedict, one of the younger brethren was enjoined to read or recite aloud a subject of divinity to the monks during dinner, a custom which still prevails in some of our college-halls at the universities. The fragment on which it rests, is conceived to have been the south wall of the refectory, from which it projected into the interior. There is a stone pulpit some what similar to this in the rectory of the abbey of Beaulieu.
The abbey church in its present state presents few features of its ancient grandeur. Three-fourths of it were demolished at the dissolution; and of the choir, chapels, transept, and centre steeple, scarcely a vestige remains. The nave, the western tower, and the northern porch, are still standing, but are much mutilated. The nave, or great western aisle, was in very early times appropriated to the use of the neighbouring inhabitants, who were in general servants of the Abbey. It was called the parish church of the Holy Cross, within the monastery of St. Peter of Salop. For this reason it was spared in the general destruction of the fabrick, and being now one of the parochial churches of the town, retains its denomination of the Holy Cross. Though the beauty of the church has suffered both from dilapidation and repair, yet it may be traced in some of its parts. The great western tower is a plain but well proportioned structure. Its portal has a round Norman arch, deeply recessed, and another of a pointed form, inserted within it at a later period. Above this, is a noble window which occupies the entire breadth, and nearly the whole height, of the tower. Its arched head is sharp and pointed, and filled with a profusion of uncommon and delicate tracery. Between the double bell-window in front, is the figure of an armed knight, within a niche, supposed to represent Edward the Third. The enriched parapet and pinnacles, which once crowned the tower, are now supplied by a mean battlement of brick work.
The inside of the church has an air of simple majesty. The ancient nave has five arches on each side, all of which, except the two nearest the tower, are semicircular, and rest on huge, round, short pillars, quite plain. There is an east window of painted glass, of late erection, in the centre compartments of which are figures of St. Peter and St. Paul; above are the arms of the see of Lichfield, of the founder of the Abbey, and of Lord Berwick, the munificent donor of the window; on each side are escutcheons of the vicars from the year 1500. An organ placed on a handsome Gothick screen adorns the western end. Within an arch, which once led to the south wing of the transept, is an ancient figure clad in mail, recovered from the ruins of the monastery, and placed in its present situation by order of the heralds at arms, in their visitation of the county in 1633. Their inscription over the figure declares it, perhaps erroneonsly, to represent Roger de Montgomery, the founder. There are few other ancient tombs remaining.
The church of ST. GILES stands at the eastern extremity of the suburb of the Abbey Foregate. it is a small plain building, and has marks of considerable antiquity. It consists of a nave, chancel, and north aisle, with a diminutive turret, which once held a small bell. It is now chiefly held for sepulture, and as publick worship is only performed twice a year within its walls, it exhibits a deplorable spectacle of neglect, damp, and decay. Among the tombstones in the church yard is one, which is said to cover the ashes of Mr. John Whitfield, a skilful surgeon of Shrewsbury. Its inscription, COMPOSITA SOLVANTUR, bears a close resemblance to the celebrated passage of Shakespeare, which has been chosen for the epitaph of its immortal author:
The great globe itself, And all which it inherit shall dissolve.
The suburb of the Abbey Foregate, which forms almost the whole parish of the Holy Cross is a long wide straggling street. It stands on the brow of a gentle eminence sloping on the south to Meole brook. There are a few good houses which command beautiful views of the fine meadows below, with gardens bordering on the stream. The ancient arched aqueduct, from an excellent spring in the fields near St. Giles's, to the monastery, still affords the Abbey-house and its neighbourhood, a copious supply.
The old collegiate church of ST. CHAD, of which only a small part, called the chapel, is standing, was founded by one of the kings of Mercia, on the site of the palace of the British princes, soon after the expulsion of the Welsh from this their ancient capital. Its patron saint was a native of Northumberland, who converted the idolatrous cast of Saxons to Christianity, and became their bishop, about the middle of the seventh century. A dean, ten prebendaries, and a certain number of vicars choral, were placed in the church by its founder, under the patronage of the bishop of Lichfield. The college was dissolved in the second of Edward the Sixth; its buildings were leased out, and its property, consisting chiefly of tythes, remained in the crown until the reign of Queen Elizabeth, except a certain portion which was granted to found the free school. The office of curate, or parish priest, to which a small stipend was paid by the dean, out of his prebendal estate at Onslow, was alone suffered to remain.
Respecting the various changes which this ancient edifice must have undergone, during a period of near 1000 years, few notices have been preserved. In the year 1393, a considerable part of it was consumed by a fire, occasioned by the carelessnes of a plumber, who, alarmed at the conflagration, endeavoured to escape over the ford of the Severn, and was drowned. The damage was so extensive, that the inhabitants obtained from Richard the second a remission of certain taxes to enable them to repair it.
In this church, at a very early period, the doctrines of the Reformation were promulged. William Thorpe, a priest, and a disciple of Wickliffe, obtained leave in the year 1407, to deliver a Sermon on a Sunday, before the principal inhabitants. On this occasion he endeavoured to expose the corruptions of the Romish church. The bailiffs of the town preferred charges of heresy and sedition against him to the archbishop of Canterbury, who brought him to trial, and used both threats and promises in order to silence him. The reply of the former to the menaces of the prelate deserves to be recorded for its intrepidity: " I tell you at one word, that I dare not, for the dread of God, submit unto you, notwithstanding the tenure and sentence you have rehearsed to me." He was remanded to prison, but his subsequent fate is not known.
The progress of the Reformation effected a wonderful change in the minds of men; in the first year of Edward the sixth, the bailiffs of Shrewsbury, whose predecessors had denounced one of its boldest champions as a heretick, ordered the pictures and superstitious ornaments of St. Chad's to be publickly burnt; and in the twenty- sixth of Elizabeth, the service of the church of England was solemnly established there.
The misfortune which befel this venerable structure, in 1788, is a striking proof of the mischiefs occasioned by the interment of the dead in the interior of places of worship. Early in the year, one of the four pillars which supported the tower in the centre of the church, shrunk in so alarming a manner, as to endanger the safety of the fabrick. An architect of the town advised that the whole of the tower should be taken down, in order to relieve the shattered pillar and other decayed parts from its incumbent weight, after which a thorough repair might be securely performed. The parish vestry rejecting this advice, employed a mason in the rash attempt of under- building the pillar. The second evening after the work was commenced, the sexton, on attempting to raise the great bell, felt the tower shake violently, and was pelted with a shower of broken mortar. In great alarm he descended into the church, from which he removed as much furniture as he could carry. On the following morning July 9th, when the clock bell struck four, the decayed pillar gave way; the tower was instantly rent asunder, and falling with its heavy peal of bells upon the roof of the church, sunk with a great part of the building, in one tremenduous crash, to the ground.
The ruins on the following day presented an awful spectacle. The roof of the nave, with the north range of pillars that supported it, and a large portion of the outward walls on that side, and the north wing of the transept, lay in confused heaps, mingled with the shattered remains of the pews, pulpit, organ, monuments, and bells broken and dispersed, in a thousand forms. The south side of the tower still remained, and part of the beams hung from the tottering walls, threatening instant destruction to those who should approach them. The whole row of pillars on the south side of the nave had stood the shock, but appeared every minute about to mingle with the wreck below. The chancel, and the north wing of the transept sustained but little injury. Among the rubbish, were found pieces of Saxon sculpture, which had probably belonged to the ancient church, and had been used in the repairs after the fire in 1393. Any attempt at rebuilding the edifice being now deemed unadvisable, the remaining fragments were taken down with all possible despatch, in order to prevent further mischief. The fine stained glass of the west window having fortunately escaped destruction, was carefully preserved, and afterwards placed in the communion window of St. Mary's church, which it exactly fitted. The figure of St. Chad in his episcopal vestments, which stood on the summit of the organ, was also preserved, and is now placed in the vestry-room of the new church.
Such funeral monuments as could be rescued from the ruins, were placed at the disposal of the families to whom they belonged, and those which were not taken elsewhere, were removed to the chapel before-mentioned. This was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and after the Reformation was denominated the Bishop's Chancel. In 1571, it was rebuilt by Humphrey Onslow, Esq., being the burying place of his family; and is now chiefly used for reading the funeral service over those who have preferred the ancient cemetery, or whose families had burial places in it. One of the most remarkable of these monuments is that over Sir Richard Onslow, an eminent lawyer, and speaker of the house of commons in the eighth of Queen Elizabeth. It is worthy of note, that whe was the ancestor of Sir Richard, afterwards Lord Onslow, who filled the chair of the house of commons in the eighth of Queen Anne, and also of Arthur Onslow who so ably exercised the office of Speaker during many successive parliaments. There is a small tablet to the memory of that truly excellent man, the Rev. Job Orton. He was interred here pursuant to his express desire, in the same grave with Mr. Bryan, a former minister of this church, who quitted his benefice on the Act of Uniformity.
Among the monuments removed to other places was an alabaster stone belonging to the Burtons of Longner. A descendant of this ancient family, Edward Burton, Esq., was a zealous assertor of the Gospel, in the time of Queen Mary, and of course rendered himself obnoxious to the existing establishment: so much so, that at his death, the Roman Catholick curate of St. Chad's refused him christian burial in the tomb of his ancestors. The account given of this eminent person by his great grandson is curious: ' The author of the Acts and Monuments of the Church of England names him among those who escaped persecution in Queen Mary's reign. He had, by many precautions, evaded the hands of such as lay in wait for him; when one day sitting alone in his upper parlour at Longner, in meditation no doubt of God's deliverance of his people, he heard a general ring of all the bells of Shrewsbury, whereunto, in St. Ceadda's parish, his house belonged; when straight his divining soul told him it was for Queen Mary's death; yet longing to know the truth more certainly, and loath to trust his servants therein, for some reasons, he sent his eldest son, a boy about sixteen years of age, willing him to throw up his hat if it were so, so impatient was his expectation, who finding it, and doing accordingly as he was directed, the good man retired presently from the window, and recovering his chair, overcome with excess of joy, suddenly expired. And this was his nunc dimittis domine. But the storm of persecution was not quite blown over; the servants of God still felt some of its scatterings, among which was their being debarred Christian burial. But, facilis jactura sepulcri: his friends made a shift to bury him in his gardens by the fish- ponds, and set a monument over him, which being defaced by time and rain, it happened in the year 1614, that Edward Burton, Esq., his grandson, inviting to dinner the noble Sir Andrew Corbet, then lieutenant of the shire; with divers other gentlemen of quality, that good baronet was desirous to see the place which preserved the reliques of that excellent man; and finding it much decayed, after a friendly correction of his host, seriously enjoined him to repair the tomb, by which the memory of his most excellent grand-father was kept alive. He, without any ado, effected what be spake for, and promised himself to become the poet for an epitaph.' [See p. 238.]
The site of the old edifice being deemed inelligible, the NEW CHURCH OF ST. CHAD was erected on a commanding eminence, bordering on the quarry. It is constructed of the beautiful stone of Grinshill, on a plan extremely novel. The body of the church externally is a circle, one hundred feet in diameter. This is divided into two stories: the basement is rustick, and contains a range of square windows. In the higher division are the large arched windows which form the principal lights, and between them are the double Ionick pilasters, resting upon the basement, and supporting a bold and handsome cornice crowned with an open ballustrade. Attached to this main edifice on the eastern side, is a small circular building with similar enrichments, and beyond is the steeple. The portal is placed in the front of the lower story of the tower, on each side of which is a square plain wing. Before the front is a portico, elevated on a flight of steps and supported on four Dorick columns. The steeple consists of a square basement of rustick work, an octagonal belfry, highly enriched with Ionick pilasters, pannels, &c., containing twelve bells: and above is a small dome, supported by eight Corinthian pillars, and crowned with a gilt cross.
The exterior beauty of this church consists more in the fineness of its materials, and the elegant splendour of its ornaments, than in the harmonious proportion and disposition of its parts. The rotundity of the main building is too large for its height; the smaller circle, which connects it with the steeple, appears as if squeezed in between those huge masses, and the angles produced by their contact have rather an unpleasing effect. The interior is not a complete circle, a small segment being partitioned off, to form a recess for the communion-table, which here, contrary to custom, is situated in the west. A gallery decorated in front with a light ballustrade, encircles the whole of the church except the chancel. Over the chief entrance stands an organ in the front of the gallery. The place is sufficiently spacious to accommodate a congregation of 1600 to 2000 persons, and by the judicious disposition of the pews, the officiating clergyman is visible from almost every part. From the great number of windows, the glare of light was so intolerable, that it was deemed necessary to cover some of them with dark green cloth curtains, which have a triste and horrid appearance. The window of the chancel is 'richly dight,' with a representation of our Lord's Resurrection, by Eginton, from a design by West.
The collegiate church of St. MARY is said to have been founded by Edgar, but it bears evident marks of a much earlier origin. In the time of Edward the Confessor, it held great landed estates, of a considerable part of which it was deprived soon after the Norman Conquest. From very remote times it enjoyed the privileges of a royal free chapel, and was therefore exempt from the jurisdiction of a bishop. These privileges formed a frequent ground of contest between the sovereign pontiffs and the kings of England, in which the latter generally prevailed.
A particular instance of these struggles relates to the church now under consideration. About the year 1270, the Dean had a dispute with the Abbot of Salop, touching the right of presentation to the church of Fittes, or as it was then written, Fytesho, to which one Robert de Acton had been instituted by the bishop of Lichfield, and forcibly ejected by the dean. Acton, being a crusader, was under the especial protection of the pope, whose officer, called the Executor of the Cross, sent an order to the Abbot of Shrewsbury to restore the incumbent to his benefice. This being done, the kings attorney- general filed an intimation against the Abbot, requiring him to answer, ' wherefore he exercised jurisdiction in the chapel of Fytesho, appertaining to the king's free chapel of St. Mary, of Salop, which is exempt, so that neither our lord the pope, nor any other ecclesiastical judge hath jurisdiction therein.' Judgment passed against the Abbot; and he was sentenced to pay damages to the king, and to suffer imprisonment.
The dean of St. Mary's had, from time immemorial, the power of collecting and paying into the king's exchequer, the tenths or other subsidies arising from the deanery and prebends. Edward the first confirmed this privilege; and his grandson, in the eighteenth year of his reign, recognized it by directing the sheriffs of Salop and Hereford not to enter the jurisdiction of the royal chapel, or to levy a distress on the possessions thereof, for any subsidies or tenths, unless the dean should neglect to make a due return.
At the dissolution of the college in the second of Edward the sixth, it had, according to Leland, a dean and nine poor prebendaries. There were also vicars choral, two chauntry priests, a parish priest, and a stipendiary clerk or assistant. The yearly revenues were valued at no more thin £13. 1s. 8d. The corps of the deanery and prebends, or the particular estates belonging to each, were probably valued at some other place, so that this was merely the amount of the revenues which were common. The greater part of the tythes was given by Edward the sixth to the newly founded school. The spiritnal jurisdiction still remains as when under the old collegiate establishment.
The church stands at the north eastern part of the town, in an area which has still the appearance of a collegiate close. It is a large cruciform venerable building, consisting of a nave, side-aisle, transept, choir, and chapels, with a western steeple. The exterior exhibits various styles of architecture. The basement of the tower is of red stone, and has the small round-headed windows of the early Norman era. From the bell-story the later pointed style takes place. This and the greater part of the structure are built with the free stone of Grinshill. From the tower, rises a lofty and beautiful. spire, forming a conspicuous ornament to the town, in the prospect from the adjacent country, to a considerable distance.
On the south side of the church is a stone porch of early Norman architecture. Its outward arch is circular, with diagonal mouldings, the inner rib obtusely pointed. Its ceiling presents a specimen of the most ancient kind of groined vault, having four round massive ribs, which cross each other in the centre, without any boss or ornament. The semi-circular arch of the inner door, as well as the arches of the north and south doors of the transept, are of the early style of building which prevailed from the Conquest, to the days of Henry the second. The windows of the side aisles, as well as of the upper story of the nave and choir, are pointed, and have mullions, while those of the transept are long and lancet shaped, without any. At the last repair, the higher walls of the nave were unfortunately raised above their level. This produces an effect which entirely destroys the ancient proportions, and gives the whole building a top- heavy appearance. The church, within, is strikingly noble, and excepting that of Ludlow, is by far the most beautiful in the county. The walls of the nave are supported on each side by four semi- circular arches, with mouldings, peculiar to the pointed style, and these spring from handsome clustered pillars, their shafts having the small flat rib which belongs to the thirteenth century. The capitals are highly enriched with foliage, and, are all of different designs. The round, or Saxon, forms of of these arches, which rest upon pillars coeval only with the pointed arch, and overspread with mouldings of that fashion, produce a singular mixture of the different styles. This circumstance leads to a suspicion, that the present enrichments were additions of a time long subsequent to the plain round arches and pillars of the original fabrick, which were doubtless similar to those in the Abbey Church.
Above the arches is a clerestory with a high range of short windows on both sides, running the whole length of the church. The ceiling of the nave, which is of oak, rises into an extremely flat arch, separated by its principal beams into square panels, including circles richly adorned with quatre foils and foliage. The ribs and bosses, at their intersections, are carved into double roses, devices, and knots; those attached to the centre beam having pendant ornaments, pelicans, angels with musical instruments, and grotesque figures. The whole is in a state of high preservation, and is allowed to be one of the finest specimens of the ancient fretted wood ceiling in the kingdom. The great window, which terminates the chancel, contains, as we have before observed, the fine stained glass from the ruins of St. Chad's. This glass occupies the principal compartments of the lower division of the window; and as there was not a sufficient quantity to fill the arch or head, that part is made out with some ancient coats of arms, mixed with modern stained glass, which matches tolerably well with the rest. At the bottom of the piece, is represented the patriarch Jesse, in a deep sleep. His upper robe is yellow, edged with embroidery and lined with ermine, clasped over the shoulder with a rich broach. His tunick is blue and his hose are green, both beautifully diapered; he rests on his arm, and his head appears covered by a red velvet cat, doubled with ermine, exactly similar to that under the crown of our monarchs, and is supported by a cushion of green embroidery, decorated at the four corners with tassels of gold. From his loins, proceeds a vine, the branches of which spread over the whole window, inclosing in each of their oval compartments, a king, or a patriarch of the ancestry of Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, who himself kneels at the feet of his progenitor. The ground of the whole is a bright red, on which the white and yellow clusters of grapes, and the bright verdure of vine leaves, are displayed with great effect. David is designated by his harp, and by an instrument in his left hand, probably representing the plectrum with which it was struck. Three of the compartments, which in the original window were ranged below the genealogy, contain figures of warriors, in the hauberk or linked armour, each kneeling under a foliated tabernacle. They are supposed to have been branches of the noble family of Charlton of Powis, who are known to have set up this window, as appears from the following inscription, which formerly made part of it:-
Pries pr, Mons. Johan de Charleton qe fist fare ceste verrure et pr. Dame Hawis sa companion.
Pray for my lord John de Charleton who caused to be made this glazing, and for Dame Hawise his wife.
John de Charleton, page to King Edward the first, was a younger son of Alan de Charleton, of Apley castle, and was born there about the year 1268. He was summoned to parliament as a baron of the realm, from 1313 to 1353, in which year he died, at the advanced age of eighty. He married through the favour of his royal master, Hawise the Hardy, sole Heiress of Owen, grandson of Gwynwynwyn, Prince of Powis, and by her was progenitor of the Charltons, Lords of Powis. From the form in the ancient inscription, 'pray for,' and not, 'pray for the souls of,' the window was certainly erected in the lifetime of John and Hawise.- This singular piece of antiquity is well worthy the attention of antiquaries, not only for its fine colouring and execution, but for the costume, which may reasonably be presumed to be that of the age in which it was stained. Many other fine specimens that adorned this church, have now disappeared, particularly that of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin, which was taken down at the Reformation.
Attached to the south side of the chancel, is a large and lofty chapel, originally dedicated to the service of the patron saint. Over the doors are labels of scriptural texts in honour of her. There are some ancient tombs in the church, and some modern monuments, the epitaphs of which are appropriate and elegant. Against the tower is an inscription to the memory of Robert Cadman, who, in January, 1740, lost his life in a hair-brained attempt to descend from the top of a spire along a rope, which he had affixed to its highest part, and extended to a field on the opposite side of the river. In the midst of his passage the rope broke, and he was precipitated into St. Mary's friars, amidst thousands of spectators. There being a hard frost at the time, his body rebounded to the height of several feet, and he died instantly. [It appears that Cadman had attempted similar feats several times before, with success. A prelate, from whom he had asked permission to fix a line to the steeple of a cathedral, for the like purpose, replied, that the man might fly TO the church whenever he pleased, but he should never give his consent for any one to fly FROM it.] From among several epitaphs which were proposed on the occasion, the following quaint one was adopted:
Let this small monument record the name
Of Cadman, and to future times proclaim,
How, from a bold attempt to fly from this high spire,
Across the Sabrine stream, he did acquire
His fatal end: 'Twas not for want of skill,
Or courage, to perform the task, he fell:
No, no, a faulty cord, being drawn too tight,
Hurried his soul on high to take her flight,
Which bid the body here beneath good night.
The parish of St. Mary's extends full ten miles in length, running very near to Wem. Within the town it consists chiefly of the Castle Street, from the Cross, with part of Dog Pole, the suburb of Cotton Hill, and one half of the castle Foregate.
The church of Sr. ALKMUND was founded by Queen Elfleda, daughter of Offa, King of Mercia, and Queen of Kenwolf, who governed that kingdom at the beginning of the ninth century. King Edgar, by the advice of St. Dunstan, established in it ten priests, for whose maintenance he appointed rich prebends or portions in land. Its patron saint was a prince of the Northumbrian family, who is said to have been buried at Lilleshull, in this county: or, according to another writer, at Whitchurch, whence it was translated to Derby. Among the large possessions which this collegiate church held in the Saxon times, was the church of Wistanstow, with four hides of land in that parish, including the village of Languefelde (Cheney Longville). The manner in which it lost this appendage, as recorded in Dugdale, is an example of the fluctuations to which, in those days of turbulence, even the most sacred property was liable. King Edward, the Confessor, wrested these lands from one Spirtes, a cannon of St. Alkmund's, and gave them to Godric Wiffesune. On his death, about two years after the conquest, Nygel, physician to Roger de Montgomery, and an ecclesiastick, obtained possession of them. After his decease the church put in its claim, but at the request of Earl Hugh, was obliged to relinquish the property for four years to Gilbert de Candore, a layman, who retained them till be was excommunicated by the bishop. In order to obtain absolution, he and his knights submitted to the penance subsequently inflicted on Henry the second, and were flogged by the canons at the altar of St. Alkmund's church. On the ejection of Gilbert, however, the property was again demised to Pagan Fitzjohn, chamberlain to Henry the first, and sheriff of Shropshire; and it finally centered in his son-in-law; Roger, Earl of Hereford, who, after the death of Pagan, held it by force of arms.
The superior, or dean, of this collegiate church, had, in common with those of other Saxon foundations, the right of hereditary succession, and even claimed a privilege of alienating the property to other religious uses. In the year 1150, when monastick institutions were universally popular, and the colleges of the secular clergy had fallen into disrepute, Richard de Belmeys, then dean of St Alkmund's, voluntarily surrendered the estate of the deanery which lay at Lilleshull, towards the endowment of an abbey of canons regular of St. Augustine, about to be erected on that spot, made sacred by the sepulture of the patron saint of his church; and so great was his zeal for this new institution, that he solicited, and obtained, the consent of the Pope and King Stephen, for dissolving the college entirely, and for transferring all its estates to the new Abbey, which was also dedicated to St. Alkmund. Thus stripped of all its landed property, the church sunk to a poor vicarage, which continued in the patronage of the monks of Lilleshull, till at the dissolution it became vested in the crown.
Like the other sacred edifices in Shrewsbury, this church was erected, at different periods, and exhibited various styles of architecture. Of its antiquity, however, few features remain; for the panick caused by the sudden fall of St. Chad's, induced the parishioners of St. Alkmund's to petition parliament for leave to pull down the body of the old church and to erect a new one in its stead, which was opened for divine service in 1795. The expense amounted to £8000, the half of which sum might have answered for a substantial repair of the original structure. The modern building is a tolerable imitation of the ancient pointed architecture. Its plan is an oblong square, eighty-two feet by forty-four, with a wall recess for the altar. The interior is without pillars or galleries, excepting one at the west end, and has a flat ceiling with stucco ornaments. Over the altar is a window painted by Eginton, representing Evangelical Faith, in a female figure as large as life, kneeling on a cross; with the eyes elevated, and arms extended towards a celestial crown, which appears amidst the opening clouds. The motto is, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." At the west end is a beautiful spire-steeple, which escaped the fate of the church. From the flat arches of the bell- windows, and the general style of the architecture, it is conceived to have been erected in the sixteenth century. It has undergone frequent repairs, and is now in good preservation. The height of the tower, which contains six old bells, * is seventy feet, that of the spire one hundred and fourteen, making the whole height of the steeple one hundred and eighty four feet. [In the times of superstition, the sound of church-bells was supposed to be very efficacious in chasing away the spirits of darkness. The following curious notice will show that they were not at all times proof against infernal agency: ' This yere, 1533, upon twelfe daye, in Shrowsbury, the Dyvyll appearyd in Saint Alkmond's churche there when the preest was at high masse, with great tempeste and darknesse, so that as he passyd through the churche he mountyd up the steeple in the sayde churche, tering the wyers of the said clocke, and put the print of his clawes upon the 4th bell, and tooke one of the pinnacles away with him, and for the tyme stayed all the bells in the churches within the sayde towne that they could neyther toll nor ringe.']
ST. JULIAN'S CHURCH is of Saxon origin, but of uncertain foundation. It was distinguished, through several reigns, as a Rectory, and royal free chapel with a peculiar jurisdiction. According to Tanner, it was early annexed to the free chapel of St. Michael, within the castle, and so continued until the reign of Henry the fifth, when they were both realigned into the king's hands, who probably gave their revenues to augment the estate of his father's newly erected college of Battlefield. The church of St. Julian then sunk from a rectory into a mere stipendiary curacy. The present structure, except the tower, is modern, built of brick and stone. Its interior is handsome and commodious, having on each side four Dorick columns which sustain the roof. The east window is filled with fine painted glass, consisting chiefly of a large ancient figure of St. James, which was purchased in 1804 from the splendid collection brought from Rouen. In the east wall of the chancel is a small female figure within a foliated tabernacle, preserved from the ruins of the old church and probably representing St. Juliana the patroness, a noble lady of Florence, who suffered martyrdom in the ninth century.
There were CONVENTS in this town, belonging to the Austin, Franciscan, and Dominican friars. Few remains of those buildings are now visible. A portion, probably the refectory, of that belonging to the Franciscans, which stood on the banks of the Severn, under the Wyle Cope, is converted into houses. The convent of the Austin friars, situated at the bottom of Barker Street, near the river, may still be traced in the shell of a large building with two pointed arched doorway. Of the convent of the Dominicans, which occupied a meadow along the river, between the Waterlane gate and the English bridge, scarcely a fragment remains. Perhaps the reason why monastick edifices are rarely to be found is that, being generally fixed in towns, the stone and other materials were more readily sold. Add to this, that the grantees of the crown, at the dissolution of monasteries, rased and demolished them as expeditiously as possible, in order to prevent their being reclaimed on any future change of affairs.
Several Chapels formerly stood in this town; the most splendid and ancient of which, seems to have been the collegiate chapel of St. Michael, within the castle. No vestige of its site is now distinguishable, though it probably existed, at least in a ruinous condition, in the reign of James the Second, since an order appears in the records of the corporation, for making enquiry concerning the stones taken thence. Part of the chapel of St. Nicholas, on the left hand entrance of the council house, is still standing, being now converted into a stable. Nothing of its origin, and very little of its history, has been preserved. The chapels of St. Catharine, of St. Blaise, and of St. Mary Magdalene, together with other ancient ecclesiastical edifices of the same class, which once adorned this eminent town, have now disappeared; yet their faint traces still afford matter of interesting speculation to the philosophick antiquary.
To the Act of Uniformity, which, on Bartholomew's Day, 1662, drove from their livings at least two thousand clergymen, Shrewsbury is indebted for its first regular dissenting church. It was formed by the Rev. John Bryan, M.A., and the Rev. Francis Tallents, M.A. The first of these gentlemen, was ejected from the living of St. Chad's. He was the eldest son of Dr. Bryan of Coventry. At an early period he was sent to the University of Cambridge, and entered of Emanuel College and Peter House, where he spent many years. Soon after he left college, be became domestick chaplain to the Earl of Stamford, lecturer of Loughborough, and minister of Didlebury, in this county. In 1652, he removed to the abbey parish, Shrewsbury, where he was much respected. He soon received an invitation to the vacant living of St. Chad's, where he remained till August 24, 1662. He was twice imprisoned with Mr. Tallents and others, but in the last instance, he, with great difficulty, contrived to make his escape. Upon his refusal of the Five-mile act, in 1666, he was constrained to remove, with his family, to Shiffnal, and used to go by night to officiate at Shrewsbury. The Indulgence act of Charles the Second, in 1672, gave him and his colleague, Mr. Tallents, a litle respite from fear and interruption in their religious exercises. During this period he preached in the house of a Mrs. Hunt, noted for her piety, and her partiality to the ejected ministers. This season of repose, however, did not long continue. In 1683, new troubles arose. On the evidence of two maid servants, Mr. Bryan was convicted of preaching, and fined £40. Afterwards he and Mr. Tallents were put into the crown office; and he was forced once more to leave the town. The liberty granted in 1687, by the succeeding monarch, James, again restored him to his ministerial vocations with Mr. Tallents, and a regular dissenting congregation being formed, these two ministers continued together till the death of Mr. Bryan, August 31, 1699.
The Rev. Francis Tallents, the other founder of the society of dissenters in High Street, was born at Pelsley, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire. About 1642, he travelled as tutor to the sons of the Earl of Suffolk. On his return, he was chosen Fellow of Magdalene College, and was afterwards Senior Fellow and President. As a tutor he was justly celebrated, and had among his pupils Sir Robert Sawyer, and Dr. Burton. In 1652, he left the university, and became minister of St. Mary's. In 1656, in the parish church of Ellesmere, was exhibited one of those publick disputations about doctrine, for which that period was noted and disgraced, and Mr. Tallents was chosen moderator, an office for which his great learning and greater prudence eminently qualified him. The disputants were Mr. Porter, of Whitchurch, and Mr. Haggar, a Baptist.- The subject was the necessity and validity of infant and adult Baptism. In this business Mr. Tallents is said to have acquitted himself with credit. The restoration of the exiled Charles gave him great pleasure; but the Act of Uniformity blasted all his hopes of accommodating himself to the established state of ecclesiastical affairs. After his ejection, he annually observed Bartholomew-day as a day of fasting and prayer; and it was not till after the lapse of several years that he could bring himself to undertake any stated work in the ministry, or to lay aside the use of a liturgy, to which he had always been accustomed, and which be had ever justly admired for its antiquity and excellence.
In 1670, be travelled into France, as tutor to Mr. Boscawen, and Mr. Hampden, two young gentlemen of fortune. At the expiration of two years and a half, he returned to Shrewsbury, and joined Mr. Bryan, in preaching to the dissenters there, and in conducting an academy for the education of dissenting ministers. In 1685, he was sent a prisoner to Chester for these labours; but on the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth in the West, he was liberated, and going to London, he led a private life. During his absence froth Shropshire, in 1686, he was calumniated as a papist, by a fanatick who pretended to have found, in a desk which he had left at Shrewsbury, 'such vestments as priests say mass in, full of crosses and images; and a book in which were the names of such as were admitted into the order of the jesuits.' This ' no-popery' slander had its foundation in ' a piece of an old white damask bed scolloped, and a book, containing the names of his pupils at Magdalene College.' The matter produced some successful prosecutions, and then dropt. In 1678, he returned once more to the assistance of Mr. Bryan, and, though he was a man of very great moderation and favourable to occasional conformity, in 1691, he finally entered into his new place of worship, on the walls of which he caused to be written "That it was not built for a faction or party, but for promoting repentance and faith, and in communion with all that love our Lord Jesus Christ, in sincerity." He died April 11, 1708, in the eighty-ninth year of his age, and was buried in the church, from which he had been ejected. Besides Mr. Bryan, he had for his assistants successively, Mr. James Owen, and Samuel Benion, M.D. Mr. Tallents was a man of considerable erudition and great industry. He published besides several works on controverted points in divinity, "A View of Universal History; or Chronological Tables." They were finely engraven, on sixteen copper-plates, in his own house. In his eighty-fifth year, he wrote a short History of Schism, for the promotion of Christian moderation, which was answered by a person signing himself S.G. whose book was replied to with effect by Mr. Tallents, He left behind him many MSS. of importance, particularly a journal of his travels, which was formerly in the hands of the Rev. Job Orton; but so blotted and soiled, as to lose much of its value.
In 1715, a year remarkable for the first Jacobite rebellion, this meeting-house was destroyed by a mob; but was soon afterwards re-built at the expense of Government. Nothing of consequence is observable in its history till the year 1742, when the Rev. Job Orton was appointed minister on the death of Mr. Berry.
After the departure of Mr. Orton, in 1766, a separation took place, and Mr. Fownes, who had been chosen assistant to Mr. Orton, continued minister, with the assistance of the Rev. Mr. Stapp, of Warrington, who died in 1767, and was succeeded by the Rev. Ralph Harrison, afterwards of Manchester; whither he removed in 1771, and his place was filled up in 1774, by the Rev. Mr. Smith. The Rev. Mr. Rowe was sometime minister of this congregation. The present minister is the Rev. Mr. Case.
The chapel, which stands on the north side of High-street, is a plain brick building, neatly fitted up, and sufficiently commodious. The congregation consists of Unitarian Dissenters, including many of the most reputable and opulent inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood.
On the separation, to which we have adverted, in the Old Meeting House, a new congregation was formed, who, with the assistance, or at least the, concurrence, of Mr. Orton, erected in 1776, a new place of worship on Swan Hill, or Murivance, of the Independent persuasion. Their history involves but few facts of importance that have not been anticipated in the account of the Old Meeting. Their first minister was the Rev. Robert Gentleman, who had formerly been one of Mr. Orton's hearers; he removed to Carmarthen, and was succeeded, in 1779, by the Rev. Samuel Lucas. The present minister is the Rev. Thomas Weaver.
Besides these places of worship, there is a Baptist Meeting House, in Dog Lane, and a Roman Catholic Chapel, near the walls, with a house for the priest, which was erected in 1776. This place succeeded a chapel in an upper room of an old house in St. Alkmund's Square. The Moravians, also, have a meeting in Cole Hall; and the Quakers and Wesleyan Methodists have places of worhip on St. John's Hill.
Among the CHARITABLE FOUNDATIONS of Shrewsbury, the HOSPITAL of ST. GILES, in the Abbey Foregate, claims priority in point of origin. It existed as early as the reign of Henry the Second, who, if not the founder, was a benefactor to it. For the support of the lepers, to whose reception it was devoted, that king granted the toll of all corn and meal sold in Shrewsbury market, and an annual pension of thirty shillings out of his rent of the county of Salop. Henry the Third added the privilege of a horse load of dead and dry wood, to be taken from his royal wood of Lythwood, every day by the hospital. In the existing state of this ancient foundation, the lepers are succeeded by four poor persons, who inhabit the same number of alms- houses, nearly adjoining the church of St. Giles, which was, doubtless, the chapel of the old hospital. They were re-built about a century ago. The office of "master of the hospital," is now held by the Earl of Tankerville, who nominates the almspeople, and pays 1s. 6d. weekly to each, with a certain allowance of coals, and an upper garment annually, the whole payment amounting to £19 per annum. The original donation, by Henry the Second, is still paid by the sheriff of the county, and is allowed to him in his "cravings" at the exchequer.
The hospital of St. John the Baptist and St. George, stood in the suburb of Frankwell, or rather Frankville, at the extremity of the Welsh bridge. The first mention of it is in an old rental of the town, taken 30th of Henry the Third. The subsequent particulars of its history consist chiefly of benefactions at various periods, which do not require to be enumerated. In the reign of Edward the Sixth, this little asylum for indigence and age, fell a sacrifice to the rapacity of the commissioners, and was dissolved. No traces of its site are at present to be found.
St. Chad's alms-houses were founded in 1409, on the south side of the cemetery, by Bennet Typton, a publick brewer. The provision is now scarcely adequate to the support of the poor to whose use they are allotted. St. Mary's alms-houses, though better endowed than the preceding, are equally wretched and filthy. They are situated in a very central and much frequented thoroughfare, and, being a publick nuisance, might well be removed without offence to the cause of charity.
MILLINGTON'S HOSPITAL, a respectable brick building, situated on an eminence at the extremity of Frankwell, was endowed by Mr. James Millington, a draper, of Shrewsbury, who bequeathed nearly all his fortune for this laudable purpose. It affords shelter and support to twelve poor persons, chosen from the single housekeepers within the suburb, or in the nearest part of St. Chad's parish. There were also provisions for the relief of out-pensioners, and for the cloathing, education, and apprenticing of forty poor children. Two exhibitions of £40 a year each, are founded for the students of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
The SALOP INFIRMARY in St. Mary's church-yard, originally a mansion- house, was formed in 1745, and has the honour of being one of the earliest institutions of the kind in the kingdom. Like most others, it is supported by voluntary subscriptions and benefactions. A great increase is made to the funds at each anniversary of the institution, which occurs on the Friday of the race week, when the contributors attend the treasurer to church, where, after an appropriate sermon, a collection is made at the doors; the plates being held by two ladies and two gentlemen, of distinguished rank and fortune.
The edifice is a plain handsome brick building, well adapted to the purpose of the institution, being situated on the verge of an eminence, which commands every advantage of salubrious air, and, what is, perhaps, in no small degree favourable to convalescents, delightful prospects. Its internal economy, and the gratuitous attendance of its medical supporters, enable it to challenge a comparison with any provincial establishment of the same kind.
The HOUSE OF INDUSTRY owes its origin to an asylum formerly opened in Dog Lane, for the reception of orphans from the Foundling Hospital in London. The governors of that institution, from the success of their exertions, were induced to enlarge their colony at Shrewsbury, and for this purpose, the building, now the House of Industry, was erected at their sole charge. It was begun in 1760, and finished in about five years, at an expense of about £12,000. Children were sent down from London in great numbers, and put out to nurse with the neighbouring cottagers, under the inspection of the gentlemen in the vicinity. At a proper age they were taken into the house, where they were employed in the manufacture of wool, and afterwards placed out as apprentices. At one time, there were more than four hundred orphans in the hospital, under the care of superintendents and teachers.
Respecting two girls belonging to this institution, there is a curious and romantick story, to which we have already briefly adverted, related by Mr. Keir, the biographer of the benevolent but eccentrick Mr. Day, and by Miss Seward, in her life of Dr. Darwin. With a mind ardently disposed to virtue, and a heart enthusiastically benevolent, Mr. Day during the period of his youth, was deluded by the fascinating eloquence of Rousseau, into a belief of his ingenious sophisms. The writings of that noted innovator, persuaded him that the human species was degraded by the perverse institutions of society, and that nothing could restore it to its original dignity but a new system of education, by which children should be kept apart from the world, and be protected, by the innocence of ignorance, against its vices, its prejudices, and its artificial manners.
In Mr. Day's mind, a soil in which no seed fell unproductive, these notions took root, and soon produced an abundance of schemes, which on account of their impracticability were the subject of his own pleasantry at a maturer age. The most singular of them was an experiment on female education, in which he proposed to unite the pure delicacy of a modern female with the fortitude and bold simplicity of a Spartan virgin, which should despise the frivolity and dissipation of the present corrupted age. There was no finding such a creature ready made; he must mould some infant into the being which his philosophick reveries had imagined. With this view Mr. Day, attended by his friend Mr. Bicknel, a barrister, journeyed to Shrewsbury to explore the foundling hospital. From the little train, in the presence of his companion, he selected two girls of twelve years each; both beautiful; one fair, with flaxen locks and light eyes, whom he called Lucretia; the other a clear auburn brunette with darker eyes, more glowing bloom, and chesnut tresses, whom he named Sabrina. These girls were obtained on written conditions, for the performance of which Mr. Bicknel was guarantee. They were to this effect: that Mr. Day should, within the twelvemonth after taking them, resign one into the protection of some respectable tradeswoman, giving one hundred pounds to bind her apprentice, and if she behaved well, maintaining her until she married or began business for herself. Upon either of these events, he promised to advance one hundred pounds more. He avowed his intention of educating the girl he should retain; with a view to. make her his future wife, solemnly engaged never to violate her innocence; and if he should renounce his plan, to maintain her decently in some respectable family until she was married, when he promised five hundred pounds as her portion.
Mr. Day went directly to France with his protegees, not taking an English servant, in order that they might receive no ideas but those which he chose to instil.- They teased and perplexed him;- they quarrelled;- they sickened of the small- pox, they chained him to their bed-side, by crying whenever he left them in the care of any person who could not speak English. He was obliged to sit up with them many nights, and to perform for them the meanest offices of tending. They however lost no beauty by disease. Soon after their recovery, while he was crossing the Rhone, with his wards, on a tempestuous day, the boat overset. Being an excellent swimmer, he with great personal difficulty and danger saved them both.
Mr. Day returned to England, after an absence of eight months. Sabrina having become the favourite, be placed Lucretia with a chamber milliner. She behaved well, and became the wife of a respectable linen-draper, in London. With his favourite he actually proceeded some years in the execution of his project; but experience and mature reflection at length convinced him, that his theory of education was impracticable, and he renounced all hope of moulding Sabrina after the model his fancy had formed. Yet, though he relinquished the idea of realizing Rousseau's visionary children of nature, he continued his protection and maintenance to both the girls. Ceasing to behold Sabrina as a wife, he placed her in a boarding-school at Sutton-Colefield in Warwickshire, where she remained three years, gained the esteem of her instructress, grew feminine, elegant, and amiable. After leaving school, she boarded some years near Birmingham, and subsequently near Newport, in Shropshire. Wherever she resided, wherever she paid visits, she secured to herself friends. Beautiful and admired, she passed the dangerous interval between sixteen and twenty-five without incurring one reflection on her character, one stain on her discretion. Mr. Day corresponded with her parentally; but seldom saw her, and never without witnesses. In her twenty-sixth year, she married Mr. Bicknell, the gentleman who had accompanied her guardian to Shrewsbury, and had guaranteed the performance of his stipulations.
The funds of the Foundling Hospital being inadequate to the extensive plan of branching out the charity into various counties, the managers ceased to send children to the provincial establishments, and the Shrewsbury house was consequently shut up. In this state it remained for some years, when, after being partly used as a woollen manufactory, it was converted into a receptacle for prisoners of war. The rapid increase of the parochial rates of Shrewsbury induced the inhabitants to petition parliament for an act to incorporate the five parishes of the Town and Meole Brace, as far as concerned the poor, and to establish a general House of Industry. In 1784, they purchased the Orphan Hospital from the governors of the Foundling charity, and having annexed to it twenty acres of good land, they converted it into an asylum for the poor, The average number maintained in the house, including children, is about two hundred and seventy five.
The house is a spacious and handsome structure of brick situated on a noble eminence, opposite the Quarry, and commands a fine view of the town, its suburbs, and the whole range of mountains in Salop, Montgomery, and Denbigh, with a wide expanse of the interjacent plain.
Of the FREE SCHOOLS and seminaries in this town, the first, of which any record remains, was in the ancient Saxon college of St. Peter, where, one of our best early English historians, Ordericus Vitalis, was educated. He was the son of Odelirius, a priest of Attingham, (Atcham) where he was born, in 1074. At five years of age he was sent to the seminary of St. Peter, at Scrobbesbyrig, or Shrewsbury, to which his father was a large benefactor. Here he remained until he attained his tenth year, when he was placed in the Benedictine abbey of Uticum, in Normandy, where, in his eleventh year, he received the tonsure of the order, and was then named Vitalis, because his first acceptance of the rule of St. Benedict happened on that saint's day. His great ecclesiastical work is a history of his own times, of which a fragment was published by Camden, in the collection of English historians sent to the press by him from Frankfort in 1663. He called it the Caen fragment, and supposed it to have been written by William de Poicton, archdeacon of Lesieux. The whole work was printed by Du Chesne, in his grand and accurate edition of Norman writers.
By the suppression of this seminary, at the dissolution of the Abbey, the town was left without any establishment for publick education, until the inhabitants, encouraged by the munificence of Edward the Sixth in refounding the free school of Wellington in this county, represented their necessities to that monarch, who acceded to their request, and granted certain tythes from the former possessions of St. Mary's and St. Chad's, for the endowment of a school under the title of the Free Grammar School of King Edward the Sixth. Two masters were appointed; and the bishop of Lichfield, with the bailiffs and burgesses, were nominated governors. Queen Elizabeth greatly augmented her brother's donation, by giving the whole rectory of Chirbury, with additional tythes and estates belonging to St. Mary's. She conferred a second liberal donation at the instance of the excellent Thomas Ashton, master of the school, a descendant probably of the ancient family of that name in Lancashire. As a proofofthe flourishing state of the establishment under him it is recorded, that he had two hundred and ninety scholars, a number rarely exceeded by the great foundations of Westminster, Eton, and Winchester. Many of the first persons in the kingdom committed their youth to Mr. Ashton's tuition; among the rest, Sir Henry Sidney, lord deputy of Ireland and president of the marches, sent his son, the afterwards illustrious Sir Philip Sidney, who here laid the foundation of his friendship with the celebrated Sir Fulk Greville, Lord Brooke. They were both entered as Shrewsbury school on the same day. For the improvement of his pupils, Mr. Ashton instituted occasional dramatick exhibitions. Of one of these an ancient manuscript gives the following account:
"This yeare, 1568, at Whytsuntyde, was a notable stage playe, played at Shrosbery, which lastyd all the holy dayes, into which cam greate numbers of people, of noblemen and others, the which was praysed gretely; and the chyffe aucter thereof was one Master Aston, being the head scoole master of the free scoole there, a godly and lerenyd men, who took marvellous pains therein."
Churchyard, in his verses written about this time, mentions the plays, and describes the rural theatre in the quarry, of which they were represented:
"I had such haste, in hope to be but brefe,
That monuments in churches were forgot,
And somewhat more, behind the walls as chiefs
Where playes have been, which is most worthy note,
There is a ground new made, theatre wyse,
Both deepe and bye, in goodlie auncient guyse;
Where well may sit ten thousand men at ease,
And yet the one, the other, not displease.
A place below, to bayte both bull and beare
For players too, greate roume and place at wyll,
And in the same a coke-pit wondrous fayre,
Besides, where men may wrestle to their fill,"
Mr. Ashton, on his resignation, drew up a code of laws by which the school was governed for two centuries. He bestowed on it a considerable donation, and took a paternal concern in its interests to the latest period of his life. A short time previously to his death he revisited it, and preached a sermon to the inhabitants of the town, which drew the sincere homage of their tears and blessings. After this farewell, he returned to his residence in the vicinity of Cambridge, where he died at the end of a fortnight, in 1578,
In the list of eminent persons who have more recently presided over the free school of Shrewsbury, may be distinguished the Rev. Charles Newling, to whose respectable character, many persons now living, who were educated under him, can bear testimony. He resigned in 1770, having been presented, by Bishop Cornwallis, to the rectory of St. Philip's, in Birmingham, which he enjoyed with the annexed prebend and treasurership of the Cathedral of Lichfield, and the first portion of the rectory of Westbury, in this county.
The decline of this noble foundation, partly attributable to certain defects in the ancient rules and ordinaries, was remedied by an act of parliament in 1796, "for the better government and regulation of the free grammar school of Shrewsbury." The management of the revenues, and the removal or discharge of schoolmasters, were by this act vested in the bishop of Lichfield and Coventry as visitor, and in thirteen trustees or governors, of whom the mayor, for the time being, is one. The appointment of masters rests solely in St. John's college, Cambridge.
The school is a large substantial structure of free-stone, surrounding two sides of a court, with a square pinnacled tower in the angle. The original school was built of timber, and the present chapel, tower, and library, were added in the year 1595, The wooden building was taken down, and in 1630 its place was supplied by the present stately edifice of Grinshill stone. In the centre is a gateway, adorned on each side by a rude Corinthian column, supporting statues of a scholar and a graduate, in the costume of the times. Over the arch is a Greek inscription from Isocrates, importing that a love of learning is necessary to a scholar. Above are the arms of Charles the Second. The windows, except one at the south end, in the pointed style; are all of the square form, introduced in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, or perhaps earlier. The whole structure is probably one of the latest specimens of that fashionable but incongruous mode of building which prevailed in the 16th and 17th centuries, and exhibits that mixture of styles, " wherein the Grecian and the pointed, however discordant and irreconcileable, are jumbled together, and compose a fantastick species, hardly assignable to any class or name." [Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting] The ground floor on one side the gateway, contains a room, originally used as the accidence school, on the other, the house now given by the head master to his assistant. In the middle story are comprised the lodging-rooms of the assistant's house, and a writing apartment.
The principal school room, which occupies the upper story, was originally divided by three partitions with folding doors, but these being removed, it forms a very spacious and noble apartment. The chapel, on the ground floor, at the other part of the building, has a very handsome open screen of oak, and a pulpit embellished with the grotesque carving of Queen Elizabeth's days, The ceiling was, in 1798, adorned with embossed fretwork, consisting of a variety of foliage and devices, preserved from the ruins of St. Alkmund's. church. Over the chapel, and of the same size, is the library, which, from its early erection, was probably intended as a publick compensation for the loss of various ecclesiastical libraries in the convents and colleges of the county. It contains a most valuable collection of books in MSS., and, in size and decoration, is in no respect inferior to the greater number of those in the universities. The windows are decorated with arms and inscriptions of the founders and principal benefactors: Several portraits ornament the walls, among which are distinguished, a half length of Henry the Eighth, and of his son, Edward the Sixth, when a boy of ten or twelve; a full length of an admiral, (probably Benbow) in the dress of Charles the Second's reign.
Among the curiosities are three sepulchral stones, discovered in plowing a field near Wroxeter, of which a correct description is given by Mr. Pennant:
The largest has on its summit a pine cone between two lions, and beneath the pediment a rose. The first is taken from the Pices, called by Pliny, Feralis Arbor, expressive of its melancholy subject, and not unfrequent on memorials of this kind. Such was the great brass cone, five yards high, which crowned the mausoleum of Adrian, now the tower of St. Angelo, and is still preserved in the garden of the Belvedere. The inscription denotes the death of C. MANNIVUS SECUNDUS, of the town of Pollentia, a beneficiarius, or veteran of the twentieth legion, who had served his time, and was called again into service by the entreaties of the chief legate.
The second stone has on the upper part, a human face, two dolphins, and two serpents. Beneath are three panels. In the first is commemorated by her husband, Placida, aged fifty-five, and thirty years his wife. In the next is an inscription to Deuccus, a boy fifteen years old, son to the same person, Cur, agente patre. The third pannel is a blank; so, it is probable, that the man who had erected this monument, designed to be buried in the same place with his wife and son, but dying elsewhere, this pannel remained unfilled.
The third stone is inscribed to M. Petronius, Sigifer, or standard bearer, to the Legio quatuor-decima gemina, the fourteenth double legion, or a legion formed from two. As this legion never was in Britain, the learned Dr. Ward guesses that Petronius only came for his health, and died here.
A few other Roman antiquities, chiefly from Wroxeter, are deposited in a small museum, separated from the lower end of the room. Here are also some fossils, and other natural curiosities. Among the latter is the dried body of a sturgeon, caught in the Severn, a little below the castle, in 1802. When alive, it weighed one hundred and ninety two pounds, and was nine feet long, and three feet four inches round. It was healthy and full of spawn, and though in struggling the bones of the head were fractured, it lived a day and a night, after being taken out of the water, a circumstance almost as extraordinary as its passage of three hundred miles, up the river, from the sea. ln front of the schools, on the town side, is an inclosed play-ground; there is also a considerable portion of land for the same purpose in the interior part of the premises, with two commodious houses for the masters.
There are three institutions, in Shrewsbury, for the free education of the poor. BOWDLER'S CHARITY SCHOOL was founded in 1724, by Mr. Thomas Bowdler, alderman, and draper, for the instruction, cloathing, and apprenticing, of poor children in the parish of St. Julian's. The SUBSCRIPTION CHARITY SCHOOL, was established for similar purposes, in 1708, by the town at large. It is situated near the Abbey Church. ALLATT'S CHARITY SCHOOL, the latest and best of the three, was instituted in 1798, by Mr. John Allatt, many years chamberlain of the corporation, who bequeathed his fortune, including his garden at the bottom of Swan Hill, to endow and erect two schools for the education of poor children of the town of Shrewsbury, the parents of whom have not received parochial relief, besides a sum to be laid out annually in coats and gowns for poor old men and widows. The seminary is a plain but elegant structure, of free-stone, having two commodious houses united to the school-rooms by arcades. The expense of the erection was about £2,000; the interest of the residue maintains the master and mistress, who instruct twenty boys, and as many girls, in reading, writing, and arithmetick, and the girls in sewing. They are clothed twice a year, and at a proper age apprenticed.
It is not certain at what period the first Town, or Guild Hall, for Shrewsbury, was erected. It is, however, highly probable that neither this, nor any other town, would remain long without some place appropriated to the purposes of publick justice and the management of the regular affairs of police. The most rational conjecture is, that the assizes were anciently held in the castle, and that the first regular building was erected near the site of the present Town Hall, soon after the borough was first incorporated.
In the reign of Edward the Second, the "Boothe Halle," was seized by the king, under pretence of its having been erected illegally. So that it would seem it could not have been then long built. The burgesses, pleading that the powers of their charter, enabled them to improve the town in any way they might deem expedient, the "Halle" was restored to them. By a deed of the thirtieth of Henry the Sixth, A.D. 1452, it appears that forty marks out of the " town stock " were allowed towards the erection of a new Hall; the old one to be pulled down, and a new one to be built with a tower over the exchequer. From the book, belonging to the corporation, we learn, that the 'Boothe Halle' was re-edified in the twenty- second year of Henry the Eighth, and this was probably the building which remained until it gave place to the present structure.
The old town Town Hall was a large, but low, timber building, with a clock turret, and stood across the present square, at right angles, with about the centre of the space now occupied by the new hall. The rooms on the ground floor were let out for shops, and a covered passage for carriages communicated with the High Street. Over these was a low room, called the Hall. It was 63 feet by 25½. In this room the assizes, sessions, and other courts were held. Adjoining this, at right angles, was a more spacious apartment, called the green room; or as Phillips remarks, ' more properly the agreeing room, or chamber of concord.' This was also used as an assembly and card room, and at the south end was the exchequer, where the mayor held his courts, and where the archives of the corporation were deposited. This apartment was built in 1490, and was a strong stone building. It appears that the arms of Spain were at one time among the decorations of this room; for an old MS. chronicle states, that 'in the yeare 1588 the Spanish navye cam upon the sea towardes Englande, was by God hys just judgment destroyed. The armes of Spaine were the nexte morning fallen, clene downe in the excheqeur in Salopp, and was never putt up again to this daie: a thinge very remarkable.' These arms thus indignant at the defeat of the invincible Armada, were probably those of Philip of Spain, set up on his marriage with our Queen Mary.
At the summer assizes, in 1783, in consequence of the pressing remonstrances of Mr. Baron Hotham, enforced by the threat of a fine upon the county, it was determined to erect a new Hall for the county, and an act of parliament was obtained the year following, for this purpose. To render the new building more handsome and commodious, and to remove the inconvenience occasioned by the old one standing across the street of the greatest resort, several houses, together with the ancient tower of the exchequer, were taken down, and various other improvements made in the adjacent parts. The present Hall was completed in 1785, and first used at the summer assizes of the same year. It was designed by Mr. Haycock of Shrewsbury, and the whole expense, raised by a county rate, amounted to about £11,000. It has a handsome stone front to the street. The ground floor consists of a vestibule, and two courts for the assizes. Under that appropriated to the crown bar is a cell, for the reception of prisoners. A beautiful spiral stone stair-case leads to the higher story, where is a large room for county meetings, an apartment for grand juries, with record and other offices.
In the grand jury room there are portraits of George the first and second, and one of Admiral Benbow. The portrait of George the first, was given by Mr. William Elisha, in 1772; that of George the second, by Thomas Wingfield, Esq., formerly clerk of the peace for the county, and the portrait of the gallant Admiral, by his sister, Mrs. Eleanor Hind, who died in May, 1724.
THE COUNTY GAOL was originally in the castle precinct, until that fortress became so ruinous as to be insecure. In 1536, application was made to the corporation for permission that "the sheriff might have hys countie jale wythin the town hencefoorthe, "which was granted him.
It appears, however, that the insecurity of the castle rendered it necessary to have the gaol apart from that fortress; accordingly, the prison was placed on the left-hand of the space, between the two north castle gates, now occupied by the buildings called Windsor square. A new gaol was erected, in 1705, at the back of Castle Street, behind the turning to School Lane, of which Mr. Howard has given some account in his Survey. In this prison, numerous irregularities prevailed.- The gaoler was suffered to keep an ale- house, and the place, altogether, was both wretched in its accommodation, and, like many other houses of correction and punishment, at once the seat, and the seminary of wickedness.
In 1786, an act was obtained for the erection of a county gaol, after the plan of the humane Howard. The spot on which the prison now stands, was pointed out by Mr. Blackburne; and Mr. Haycock, of Shrewsbury, furnished the approved plan. The building was completed in 1793, at an expense of about £30,000, towards which, the old gaol was sold by auction. The pleasant terrace on the south side of the prison wall, was soon afterwards made.
The gaol is entirely separate from the town, and a little detached from the Castle. It stands on a beautiful and salubrious cliff of dry gravel over the river. The building is of brick, and possesses every appropriate excellence. It is spacious, airy, and well supplied with water. The entrance is by a free-stone gate, on each side of which is a lodge, and over the arch is a fine bust of Howard, by Bacon, presented by the late Thomas Knight, of Henley, and Rowland Hunt, Esqrs., two active and intelligent magistrates of the county.
The internal regulations of this prison correspond with its neat, if not ornamental, exterior. Before any prisoners are admitted, they are taken into reception cells, furnished in the lodge, where they are thoroughly cleansed of such filth as usually attaches itself to the idle and profligate. After they have thus performed a sort of quarantine at the lodge, they are conducted to their respective classes, and all those charged criminally, are clothed in the prison uniform, which is a woollen jacket, waistcoat, and cap, the former ornamented with blue and yellow stripes before conviction, and afterwards changed for one of brown and yellow.
In the keeper's house, which is in the middle of the west front of the prison, facing the gate, is an apartment for the use of the magistrates. The chapel stands in the centre of the whole, and is contrived so as to separate every class of prisoners, yet, so that the minister may be seen by all the congregation. It is a neat, well- constructed, octagonal
With the exception, as we conceive, of the blue-striped jacket uniform, the management of this prison is worthy of imitation by all similar establishments. The licentious practices of many old gaols are totally abolished; and no incentives to the indulgence of vice, are here held out to vagabonds out of doors, not having filled the measure of their iniquity, or become sufficiently qualified for the constant society of the avowed guilty. All the prisoners, according to the nature and measure of their crimes, are classed, and their respective classes kept apart from each other; as are also the male from the female prisoners. Here are no dark and dreary dungeons - no damp and noxious cells:- Cold and nakedness, filth and vice, are, as much as possible, guarded against; whilst every inducement to repentance, reformation, and morality, is held out. Even the galling and disgraceful restraints of irons, are in this prison dispensed with, except in the cases of capital and very refractory offenders. Nay, even a system of rewards, to the orderly and industrious, has been adopted by the meritorious exertions of one of the magistrates, Rowland Hunt, of Boreatton, Esq., by which debtors are enabled to gain a livelihood while in confinement, and some implements or materials supplied them on their return to their families and society. Nor are the criminal prisoners exempt from these favours; clothes and implements of labour are given to those, who on quitting the prison, are found worthy to receive a written certificate of their industry, penitence, and good behaviour: and as the regulations of this place, go more towards the prevention, than the punishment of crimes, those who are dismissed from it, are furnished with a small sum for immediate maintenance; thus choaking up the first channels of temptation, and allowing to the liberated a sufficient time to confirm the good resolutions which they may have formed during their solitary confinement. Bibles, Prayer books, and other religious works, are put into their hands, and every possible exertion is made to reclaim the wanderer, and relieve the wretched. The house of correction, or County Bridewell, is within the new prison, and partakes of the benefit of its government and regulations; the prisoners of the town gaol are also now incorporated with those of the county gaol.
A Court of Conscience, for the recovery of small debts, was granted to this town and liberty, by Queen Elizabeth; and in 1783, an act of Parliament was passed, establishing a Court of Requests, for the recovery of debts not amounting to forty shillings and exceeding two shillings, in a summary way. This latter is held every Wednesday.
The earliest corporation seal of Shrewsbury, with an armorial shield, is that inscribed SIGILLVM BALLIVORVM SALOPIE: the seal of the bailiff's of Shrewsbury: with three lions passant guardant. The present arms of the town, three leopards' faces, are found for the first time on the superb seal, which is still used; and which was engraven in the year 1425, as appears from the inscription, Sigillu comune libertatis ville Salopesburie factu ano gre MDDDDXXV. This seal is a very curious piece of workmanship, and shews good taste as well as good sense. It represents a view of the town, with its churches, houses, bridges, and circum-ambient river. Over a magnificent gate are the lions of England; on one side, the present town arms; on the other, the cross of St. George, to denote the Welsh, or St. George's bridge. A church, with its steeple of lead, is plainly distinguishable; from which circumstance, it has been conjectured, that the old collegiate church of St. Chad was at that time crowned with a leaden spire: and, that an attentive observer may discern some, not uninteresting, traces of the domestick architecture of our ancestors.
In Dr. Taylor's MS. is the following account of the first MARKET HOUSE in this town, of which any record remains: "This yeare, 1567, Maister John Dawes of Shrosbery, and Alderman of the sayde towne, began and buylded two fayre houseses in the corner market there, for the saffe placinge of corne from wether, so that the owners thereof may stand safe and drye, the which buyldings was at his own coste and charge; which place servyth for the inhabitantes, as also strangers to walke in, and the loft above for soondry profitable purposes."
To these two timber buildings, Mr. Humphrey Onslowe, in the year 1571, added three others, for the like purpose. In 1595, these buildings were removed, and the present edifice erected on their site. The following inscription appears over the northern arch: "The xvth day of June was this building begun, William Jones and Thomas Charlton, Gent., then Bailiffs, and was erected and covered in their time, 1595." So that it appears, this stately and substantial edifice was built in the short space of one year. It is not, however, certain, that its numerous ornaments were all finished in that time.- The inscription stating only that it was 'erected and covered' during that short period. It is conjectured, that Churchyard, the poet, of whom we shall hereafter give a memoir, and who lived at this time, referred to the new market-house, in the following lines:-
I held on way to auncient Shrewsberie towne,
And so from horse at lodging lighting downe
I walkt the streates, and markt what came to vewe,
Found old things dead, as world were made a newe.
For buildings gay, and gallant finely wrought,
Had old device, through time supplanted cleane-
Some houses bare, that seem'd to be worthe nought,
Were fat within, that outward looked leane:
Wit had won wealthe, to stuffe each emptie place,
The cunning head, and labouring hand had grace
To gayne and keepe, and lay up still in store,
As man might say the heart could wish no more. WORTHINES OF WALES.
This building is exceedingly spacious and magnificent, and, at the time Churchyard wrote, would doubtless have a splendid, and, according to the architectural taste of that age a very pleasing aspect. It is built entirely of free stone; with its principal front facing the west. In the centre, over a spacious portal, are the arms of Queen Elizabeth, in alto relievo, under a rich canopy. Attached to the imposts of the great arch, are pillars, each supporting the figure of a lion, bearing a shield on its breast. Above, are two stories, with large square mullioned windows. On each side of this portal is an open arcade, consisting of three large round arches, reposing on pillars, which form the main building; over which is a range of square windows, with mullions, and a rich and whimsical parapet, consisting of a series of curled embrasures, somewhat like the Ionick volute. Between them at alternate distances, are a kind of grotesque pinnacles, in the same style. At the north and south ends are large open arches, the whole edifice being finished above by sharp-pointed gables. In a tabernacled niche, above the northern arch, and between the lower window, stands a statue of Richard, Duke of York. On his right hand is the following inscription: "This statue was removed by order of the mayor, from the tower on the Welsh bridge, in the year 1791." On his left are the town arms, in relief. The lower area, 105 feet by 24, is used as a corn market; over which is a large room, or rather rooms, now used as warehouses. In the year 1804, this substantial building underwent a thorough repair, at an expense to the corporation of more than £500.
Adjoining the market-house is one of the conduits which furnish the inhabitants with excellent spring water.
The guild or fraternity of the Holy Trinity of the mistery of drapers, was founded by Edward the Fourth, in 1460; and by James the First incorporated into the present DRAPERS' COMPANY. Their hall is a large room in an old timber house in St. Mary's churchyard; and in it hangs a portrait of the royal founder, placed there in 1669, having round and underneath it the following inscription:- round the picture, "Edwardus III. Angliae et Franciae rex. Domin. Hiber."- Underneath, "The right noble Prince Edward the Fourth, King of England and France, Lord of Ireland. He reigned twenty-two years, and five weeks. Died at the age of fifty-two years, buried at Windsor, 1483.
" This yeare Fourth Edward, York's faire fam'd renown,
Circled his temples with great Albion's crown;
When over reading the memoriale
Of Salop's Drapers ancient Hospitale,
Founded in honour of the sacred Deity,
He own'd and stil'd them then, the blest society;
And with his parliament's sage approbation,
Deigned them his charter for a corporation,
Which to confirme, himself was pleased to be
The royal founder of their companie,
Granting immunities of large extent,
Which stand his bounties' grateful monument.
" Edward 4o. regi Anglorum
Hoc posuit Pannariorum
Salopiensium grata Societas."
THE MERCERS' COMPANY have, at present, no Hall, but transact their business at one of the Inns. Their composition was confirmed May 11th, 1480, by Edward Prince of Wales, who was then in Shrewsbury, at the suit of Nicholas Pontesbury, and Roger Adis, wardens; and the Ironmongers and Goldsmiths united with him. The conditions of their charter consisted in a mixture of superstition and piety, which the good sense or the laxity of later times have rendered useless. It is a pity; however, in days of political and commercial depression, that one of these conditions should not be enforced provided always that the prayers were not to be very long. This condition, among other matters, sets forth, that the said company should 'give 13 poor men, each of them, one penny per weeke, to praye for the prosperytye' of ' the King's Council, and for the fraternitye of the saide Guilde.'
At the upper end of High street, is an ancient red stone building, which was formerly the Hall of the CLOTH MAKERS, or SHEARMEN'S COMPANY. It is not known when it was erected; but not many years ago, it bore evident marks of the architecture of the 14th century. A large ancient timber house, called the Old Post Office, adjoins the south side, and with the building in question, forms a court, entered from the street by a gate-way.
This Hall has undergone, not only several alterations in its structure, but has been applied, at various times, to purposes of a somewhat dissimilar nature:- it has been the seat of useful commerce - it has been devoted to the rational amusements of the stage - it has been a methodist chapel; and afterwards a tea warehouse.
The THEATRE, if we may credit the affirmation of Phillips, is part of the ancient palace of the Princss of Powisland; who, in their frequent transactions with the sovereigns of England, often resided at Shrewsbury. John de Charlton, who married a heiress of the line of Powis, obtained a licence, in 1308, to embattle this mansion, and hence it acquired the name of Charlton Hall. In 1445, Henry Gray, Earl of Tankerville, and Lord of Powis, granted the premises to Thomas Bromley; from whom, twenty-five years after, they were demised to Nycholas Warynge, of Salop, merchant of the staple of Calais. After various changes and transfers, it at length became the property of the Waring family.
The ancient boundary walls of this mansion, inclosed all the space contained between Cross Hill, St. John's Hill, Murivance, or Swan Hill, and Shoplatch. The house, doubtless, formed one, if not two quadrangles, which may still be traced. The most considerable remnant, is a building of red stone, in length one hundred feet, and in breadth thirty one, which is now the theatre. The side next the street has been plastered and washed with dark stone colour, to give it the appearance of a modern front. The other side exhibits the original walls, with some blocked up pointed arches, and other features of high antiquity. It is probable, that, in the old edifice, this part was the great chamber, appropriated, according to the usage of the times, for receiving company, and occasionally for exhibiting shows and dramatick interludes. The interior being now fitted up as a modern theatre, retains few of its original appurtenances, except the remains of a narrow, spiral, stone staircase. It consists of a pretty roomy pit, a ground tier of boxes, with upper side boxes, and a tolerably spacious gallery.
The stage is well adapted to the size of the place, and the decorations are in the usual style of provincial play houses. The same remark may apply to the performers, who are, generally, of that middling class, which consists of persons in their first career to excellence, and of others that have got half way, and remain stationary. The taste of the Salopians, being rather of that retired kind, which delights most in domestick society, does not contribute much to encourage dramatick exhibitions, and the house is scarcely ever crowded, except during the race week, and in the summer visits of the London performers. The audiences, however, if not numerous, are select; and it may be mentioned to their honour, that they never tolerate any thing which borders on buffoonery or indecorum. Even among the higher orders, (we here speak locally) a sense of propriety prevails, and they seldom indulge in that obstreperous eloquence by which, as Addison humourously observes,' the ladies of the British fishery' display their talents for debate. Their good- humour, indeed, almost exceeds belief; for, on a particular occasion, when the manager was compelled, by an overflow, to place seats on the stage, they tolerated the intrusion without demanding an apology. Such a circumstance, though in itself trivial, exhibits a trait of character, too interesting to be overlooked. One of their most favourite plays, for obvious reasons, is the first part of Henry the Fourth, and when Jack Falstaff tells of having fought Hotspur 'a full hour by Shrewsbury clock,' he never fails to draw down a thunder of applause. It is pleasing to remark, how an allusion of this nature operates on the feelings, by the universal law of association; and how frequently the practice has been resorted to by the great poets of every nation. Homer and Virgil imparted an additional charm to their compositions, by describing scenes to which their countrymen were familiar. The acclivities of Parnassus and the banks of Helicon, were consecrated as classick ground, by the immortal strains of the bard of Chios. His worthy imitator, delighted the imagination and roused the enthusiasm of the Romans, by conducting the wanderings of AEness through the fair regions of their native Ausonia, and even to the inmost sanctuary of the "Eternal City"-
Hinc ad Tarpeiam sedem et Capitolia ducit Aurea nunc, olim silvestribus horrida dumis.
With a kindred instinct of genius, our own Shakespeare won the attention and applause of his contemporaries, by embodying in his dramas the most striking passages of our eventful history, and by pourtraying scenes which every Englishman still delights to contemplate; the lustre of his fame will never fade while the sacred groves of Windsor shall bloom, and the royal fields of Shrewsbury and Bosworth shall be remembered.
The COUNCIL HOUSE, was so named, from its having been appropriated to the reception of the court of the Marches of Wales, in their visits to Shrewsbury, where they were accustomed to hold one term in the year for the convenience of suiters; as they did another at Bewdley, and sometimes at Hereford. From its vicinity to the castle, it is probable that the ground it now occupies, was the ballium or base court. The first certain account, relating to this edifice, denotes that its site, at least, was the inheritance of the family of Plowden. John Plowden, Esq., grand-father to the famous lawyer, conveyed it to Sir Roger Kynaston, of Hordley, Knt., and Elizabeth, his wife, sister of Richard, Lord Grey, de Powis, and this lady, in 1501, being then a widow, sold it to Peter Newtown, Esq., whose initials, P.N., were some time ago found in stained glass, on some diamond panes in a bay window of the hall. This circumstance, corresponding with the style of its architecture, gives reason to suppose that he was the founder of the house. Mr. Newton was one of the council of the Marches of Wales, and probably he or his son Arthur, conveyed it to the family of Knight. On the Sixth of May, 1553, Thomas Knight, Gent., granted it to Sir Andrew Corbet, vice president of the council of the Welsh marches, and Richard Corbet, Esq., of Poynton, in the county of Salop, from whom it was in all likelihood transferred to the corporation for the use of the council; at least it appears to have been in the possession of that body on the 26th of March, 1563, from the following entry, found in their book of orders:
' Agreed that the right honourable the Lord Stafford, shall have the howse wheryn the counsell yn the marches of Wales be accustomed to lye when they be at Salop, together with the gardens and orchards thereunto belonging, to have to hym duryng the pleasure of the Baylyffes and Burgesses, paying convenient rent. The place beying reserved to the towne's use, at such times as the Queen's Majesty's counsell shall come to lye at this town, and also at sach times as the Justices of the Assyses shall come to kepe the assize in Salop: and an inventory indented to be made between the sayd lord and the bayliffes, of all the stuff in the house.'
From as entry in the same book, three years subsequent, it appears, that this demise was objected to, on the part of the crown, and that Richard Onslow, Esq., the queen's solicitor-general, obtained possession of it. In 1571, it was agreed, that the town should take a lease of the Council-house from Mrs. Onslow, for forty nine years. In 1583, the corporation granted to Mr. Baker their interest in the Council-house and chapel, with a covenant that they should have the use of it during the residence of her majesty's council, on paying rent for the time occupied. From him it passed to the family of Owen, of Condover, and was held by them until it was purchased by Richard Lyster, Esq.
The edifice stands boldly on a steep bank, which impends over the river. The entrance to it from the town is by a venerable timber gate house, the ornaments of which are now buried under a coat of plaster. The buildings inclose three sides of small court, and are now divided into two handsome houses. The western portion is of timber, cased with brick, and seems more modern than the rest. The south front is also cased with brick, but the original walls with red stone appear on the northern and eastern parts. The great hall and the chamber over it, both ruinous, are the only parts which have not been modernised; much of the former at present constitutes part of the adjoining house. The bay window of the hall has no longer any remains of painted glass. The chimney-piece is a pure Grecian design, and extends from the door to the ceiling; in the centre are the arms of Owen, of Condover; impaling Gerrard, with the initials, R.O. The chamber above this apartment is fifty feet by twenty six, and is richly adorned with elaborate carving, rudely designed, but finely, executed. The chimney bears two grotesque figures of Adam and Eve, and the coved ceiling has a profusion of decorations in plaster. It was here that Charles the first kept his court during his residence in Shrewsbury, in that gloomy period of discord when his royalty appeared 'shorn of its beams'. The deserted, solitary, and ruinous apartment accords well with the reflections which the unhappy fate of that monarch is calculated to inspire!
The Council-house has frequently been the court of the Lords Presidents of Wales during their visits to Shrewsbury. The following accounts of two of these visits are worth recording. They are given by Phillips, from Dr. Taylor's MSS.
' 1581, The 24th of April being St. George's daye; the right honourable Sir Henry Sidney, Lord President of the Marches of Wales, beinge of the Privy counsel, and one of the Knights of the most noble order of the garter, kept St. George's feast in Shrewsbury, most honourably, commynge the sayde daye, from the Counsell-house there, in hys knightly robes, most valiant, wyth his gentilmen before hym, and his Knights following hym, in brave order; and after them the bayliffes and aldermen, in their scarlet gownes, wyth the companyes of all occupations in the sayde towne, in their best livereys, and before every warden of every company, theire two stuardes, with white roddes in their handes, evrie companye followinge, in good and seemly order, towarde St. Chadd's churche, where he was stallid upon the right hande, in the quire, neere unto the Queens Majesties place, prepared in the same quire, also with all the nobilities arms that were Knights of the garter, and passinge, and repassinge by the Queens Majesties place, he dyd as much honour as thoughe the Queens Majesties had been present, where he had there the divine servys sung by note, to the gloryfying of God, and the greate honor of the sayd Sir Henry, who began the feast on the eve, and kept open household for the tyme. It hys to be noted, that there was sutch a goodly number of townsmen followyng hym to the churche, that when he entired into the churche, the last end of the trayne was at my Lord's place, (the Council house) which is the length 700 paces at the least.
"And on the first daye of Maye, the masters of the free scoole, whose names were Thomas Larrance, John Baker, Rychard Atkys, and Roger Kent, made a brave and costly bancket after supper, of the same daye, before the scoole, to the number of forty dyshes, and the masters before them, every scoole presenting ten dyshes, with a sewer before every scoole, pronowncynge these words.
LARRANCE I. "These are all of Larrance lore, Accompt hys hart above hys store.
BAKER II. These ten are all of Baker's bande, Good wyll, not wealthe, now to be scande.
ATKYS III. These ten are all in Atkys chardge, Hys gyfftes are small, hys good wyll lardge.
KENT IV. These ten coom last and are the least, Yett Kent's good wyll ys wyth the beast."
"These verses followinge were written and hereafter followe about the bancketinge dyshes.
"Hn mittunt librum, libram non mittere porsunt. Virgam, non vaccum mittere quisq. potest."
' And the daye following, being the second daye of Maye, all the scollars of the sayde free scoole, being taught by the aforesaid four masters, beinge in number 360, with their masters before every of them, marchyng bravely from the sayde scoole, in battell order, with their generals, captens, drumms, trumpetts, and ensigns before them, through the town, towards a large fillde, called the Gay, in the Abbey suburbs of Salop, and there devydinge theire banndes into four partes, met the sayde Lord President, being upon a lusty courser, who turned hym about, and came to them, the Generall openinge to hys Lordshyp the purpose and assembly, of hym, and the rest, then he wyth the other captens made theire orations, howe valiantly they would feight and defend the countrey, at whych the sayde Lord had greate pleasure, and mutche rejoysed, gyvinge greate prayse to the sayde Masters for the eloquence thereof. And on the 13th daye of Maye the sayd Sir Henry Sidney departed from Shrewsberie by water, and took hys Barge under the Castell Hyll, by hys Place, and as he passid by there were 14 chamber pieces bravely shot off, with a certain shott of Harquebushers, and so passing alonge, not the lengthe of a quarter of a myle off by water, theire were placid in an Ilet, hard by the water syde, serten appointed schollars of the free scoole, being apparelyed all in greene, and green wyllows upon theire heads, marching by, and calling to hym, macking theire lamentable orations, sorrowinge hys departure, the which was done so pityfully, and of sutch excellency, that truly it made many, bothe in the bardge upon the water, as also the people uppon lande, to weepe, and my Lord himself to change countenance.'
The orations made upon this occasion being too many to insert in this place, one part shall be quoted as a specimen.
" One boy alone. Oh stay the barge, rowe not soe fast, Rowe not soe fast, oh stay awhile; Oh stay and hear the playntts at last, Of nymphs, that harbour in thys isle.
Thear woe is greate, greate mean they make, With doleful tunes they doe lament, They howle, they crie, theire leave to tacke, Theire garments greene for woe they rent.
O Severn, tarn thy stream quite backe, Alas why doyst thou us anoye? Wilt thou cause us this Lord to lacke, Whose presince is our onelie joy?
But hark, methinks I heare a sounde, A wofull sounde I playnly heare, Some sorrow greate thear hart dothe wound, Pass on my Lord, to them draw neare.
Foure boys appear in green, singing. O woefull wretched tyme, oh doleful day and houre, Lament we may the loss we have, and floods of tears out poure, Come nymphs of woods and hilles, come help us moan we pray, The water nymphs our sisters dear, do take our Lord away. Bewayle we may our wrongs, revenge we cannot take, Oh that the gods would bring him back our sorrows for to slake.
One alone with musick. O pinching payne that gripes my heart,O thrise unhappy wight O sillie soul that hap have I, to see this woful sight; Shall I now leave my lovinge Lord, shall he now from me goe? Why wyll he Salop nowe forsake, alas why will he so? Alas my sorrows doe increase, my heart doth rent in twayne, For that my Lord doth hence depart, and will not hear remayne.
All. And will your honour now depart? And must it need be so? Would God we could lyke fishes swyme? That we might with thee goe. Or else would God this little isle, Were stretched out so lardge, That we on foot myght follow thee, And wayt upon thy bardge.
But seeing that we cannot swyme, And island's at an end; Safe passage with a short return, The myghty God thee sende.
' And soe the bardge departed, the Bayliffes, and serten of the Aldermen accompanyinge hym by water, untill they came to Atcham brydge, and theire they dynyd all together in the bardge upon the water; and after dyner, tacking theire leave, with mourning countenances, departyd.
'This yeare 1582, and the 11th daye of Marche, beinge Moonday, at nyght, the right honourable Lady Mary Sidney came to thys towne of Salop, in her wagon, and tooke up hyr lodgynge at my Lord's place theire; and on the 12th day ensueing, the most valyant Knight Sir Henry Sidney, hyr husband, being Lord President of the Marches, came also from Ludlowe, to thys towne of Salop, in honourable manner, and as he passed in hys wagon, by the Condit, at the Wyle Coppe, were made two excellent orations, by two of the free scoole scollars, he staying is hys wagon, to heare the same, the which in the end he praysed very well: and soe passed through towards hys Lady, with his troempeter blowyng verey joyfully to behold and see.'
THE WHITE HALL, ' in the Abbey Foregate, was builded by one Master Prince, a lawyer, and was called Master Princes Place.' The building was commenced in March, 1578, and completed in four years. It is a venerable red stone mansion, white-washed, from which circumstance, as is supposed, it received its present name. It is lofty, square, and compact; the roof finished with pointed gables, the chimnies highly ornamented, and the whole crowned with an octagonal turret in the centre. The ancient hall has been converted into a parlour; and nearly the whole inside of the building modernised. The gate-house formerly appropriated to the use of the chaplain, is still standing, as are also parts of the original garden walls; some old mulberry trees, and a lofty walnut, were, very lately, growing against their sides, the only being remains of its former state.
The BELL STONE HOUSE stands in Barker-street. It is a good specimen of the smaller mansion of Queen Elizabeth's reign; built of red stone, and incloses three sides of a small court, separated from the street by a low wall and gate. The windows are wide and square headed, with heavy mullions. A porch, of that debased Grecian manner, so fashionable in the seventeenth century, leads to the hall. On the left of this apartment is a parlour, with a grotesque chimney-piece, in which are the family arms. On the right, up two or three steps, is the great chamber, now a very handsome drawing room. This apartment, which appears to be more ancient than the rest of the mansion, is unusually lofty, with a sharp Gothick arched roof. This building, from the arms over the door - a lion rampant, and a canton, as also from the letters E.O. in one of the windows, appears to have been erected by Edward Owen, alderman and draper, of Shrewsbury, and bailiff of the corporation in 1582; and from whom, descended the Owens of Woodhouse.
JONES'S MANSION, the only ancient edifice that remains at present to be noticed, stands at the corner of Ox Lane, leading to St. Alkmund's. It is in various styles of architecture, exhibiting the square mullioned window of James the First's days, as well as the wide gable and clumsy sash of Charles the Second's time. It was built by Thomas Jones, alderman of Salop, who was appointed by Charles the First, the first mayor of the corporation. In 1624, he served the office of high sheriff of the county. He died in 1642.
We shall conclude this architectural sketch by some notice of the DEPOT, which was erected by government in the year 1806, on a piece of ground near St. Giles's church in this town. It was designed by Mr. Wyatt, and reflects credit on his architectural taste and skill. The principal building is one hundred and thirty-five feet by thirty- nine, divided into an upper and lower story, and capable of containing 25,000 stand of arms. Within the enclosure are two magazines for ammunition, and a small neat house at each angle, for the store-keeper, armourer, and a subaltern's guard. This edifice was built with the intention of containing the arms of the volunteer corps within this and the adjoining counties.- For some account of the ancient history of Shrewsbury, See appendix.
THOMAS CHURCHYARD, a poet of some note in his time, was a native of this town, but neither the incidents of his life, nor the merit of his writings, have been thought of sufficient importance to employ the pen of the biographer, or the skill of the critick. He says he was a descendant ' of a right good race,' that flourished in the reign of Henry the eighth, Edward the sixth, Mary, and Elizabeth. His writings certainly discover him to have been a man of learning and taste. His principal work is entitled The Worthines of Wales, including Shropshire. It is written in very humble verse, and is noted only for its faithfulness of description. It was printed in 1587, and was reprinted in 1776, in 12mo. In 1588, he published a work, bearing the following title, "A Spark of Friendship and warm Good-will, that shows the Effect of true Affection, and unfolds the Fineness of this World." This tract was printed in London, and is dedicated to Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, whom the author calls his "Honourable Friend." This dedication is dated ' London, at my Lodging, the 8th of March.' Mention is made of it in his "Book of choice," and that, as 'a matter to be mused at,' he had 'sixteen several books printed presently to be bought,' - 'dedicated in sundry seasons, to several men of good and great credit,' yet be complains that 'not one among them all, from the first day of his labour and studies, to that present year and hour, had any way preferred his suits, amended his state, or given him any countenance.' This complaint, not uncommon even with authors of more modern times, it should seem, was not made without some provocation; for Mr. Churchyard, a little further on, confesses that he shews a kind of adulation to fawn or favour on those that are happy,' justifying his conduct, as 'a point of wisdom, which his betters had taught him,' seeing he had read it in a great book of Latin, printed four hundred years before, that one of Sir Walter's ancestors,' and of the same name, 'had more fawners and followers than even Sir Walter himself,' and thus like many other prudent men, our author 'took example from the fish that follow the stream, the fowls that come to the covert from the winds, and the brute beasts that avoid a sturdy storm, under the safe-guard of a strong and flourishing tree.' It is to be feared however, that all poor Churchyard's ' crafty forecasting' eventually rendered him no essential service; for his epitaph, written by himself, is as follows:-
Come Alecto, and lend me thy torch, To find a Churchyard in a church porch; Poverty and poetry his tomb do enclose, Wherefore, good neighbours, be merry in prose.
According to Antony Wood, Mr. Churchyard died in 1606, and was buried in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster.
[This narrative is given nearly in the language of Admiral Benbow's biographer.]
JOHN BENBOW, Vice-Admiral of the Blue squadron, and one of the most eminent English seamen mentioned in our histories, was born at Shrewsbury, about the year 1650, and descended from a very ancient, worthy family; though his father, Colonel John Benbow, and most of his relations, were much reduced by their loyal adherence to the cause of King Charles I. and by the readiness they shewed to assist King Charles II. in endeavouring to recover his rights, when he advanced with the Scots army as far as Worcester. His father dying when he was very young, left his son no other provision than that of the profession to which he was bred, viz., the sea, a profession to which he had naturally a great propensity, and in which he succeeded so happily, that before he was thirty he became master, and in a good measure owner, of a ship called the Benbow Frigate, employed in the Mediterranean trade, in which he would probably have acquired a good estate, if an accident that happened to him in the last voyage he made, had not given a new turn to his fortunes, and brought him to serve in the British navy, with equal reputation to himself, and good fortune to his country, to which he rendered many and very important services.
In the year 1686, Captain Benbow, in his own vessel before mentioned, was attacked in his passage to Cadiz by a Sallee Rover, against which he defended himself, though very unequal in the number of men, with the utmost bravery, till at last the Moors boarded him, but were quickly beat out of the ship again, with the loss of thirteen men, whose heads Captain Benbow ordered to be cut off, and thrown into a tub of pork pickle. When he arrived at Cadiz, he went ashore, and ordered a negro servant to follow him, with the Moors' heads in a sack. He had scarcely landed, before the officers of the revenue inquired of his servant, what he had in his sack? The captain answered, Salt provisions for his own use. That may be, answered the officers, but we must insist upon seeing them. Captain Benbow alledged, that he was no stranger there, that he did not use to run goods, and pretended to take it ill that he was suspected. The officers told him, that the magistrates were sitting not far off, and that if they were satisfied with his word, his servant might carry the provisions where he pleased, but that otherwise it was not in their power to grant any such dispensation. The Captain consented to the proposal, and away they marched to the Custom-house, Mr. Benbow in front, his man in the center, and the officers in the rear. The Magistrates, when he came before them, treated Captain Benbow with great civility, told him they were sorry to make a point of such a trifle, but that since he had refused to shew the contents of his sack to their officers, the nature of their employments obliged them to demand a sight of them; and that as they doubted not they were salt provisions, the shewing them could be no great consequence one way or the other. ' I told you, said the Captain, sternly, they were salted provisions for my own use. Caesar, throw them down upon the table, and, Gentlemen, if you like them, they are at your service.' The Spaniards were exceedingly struck at the sight of the Moors' heads, and no less astonished at the account of the Captain's adventure, who with so small a force had been able to defeat such a number of Barbarians. They sent an account of the whole matter to the Court of Madrid, and Charles II., then King of Spain, was so much pleased with it, that he wished to see the English Captain, who made a journey to Court, where he was received with great testimonies of respect, and not only dismissed with a handsome present, but his Catholick Majesty was also pleased to write a letter in his behalf to King James, who upon the Captain's return gave him a ship, which was his introduction to the royal navy.
After the Revolution, he was constantly employed, and frequently, at the request of the merchants, was appointed to cruize in the channel, where he did very great service, as well in protecting our own trade, as in annoying and distressing that of the enemy. He was likewise generally made choice of for bombarding the French ports, in which he shewed the most intrepid courage, by going in person in his boat to encourage and protect the engineers, who, for that reason, were very solicitous that he should command the escorts whenever they went upon those hazardous enterprizes, in which they knew he would not expose them more than was absolutely necessary, and that he would put them upon running no sort of danger, in which he did not willingly take his share. It is certain that several of those dreadful bombardments had great effects, spoiled several ports, and terrified the French to the last degree, notwithstanding all the precautions their government could take to keep up their spirits.
The vigour and activity of Captain Benbow, in every service on which he was employed, recommended him so effectually to his royal master King William, who was both a good judge of men, and always willing to reward merit, that he was very early promoted to a flag, and intrusted with the care of blocking up Dunkirk; the privateers from thence proving extremely detrimental to our trade during all that war. In 1695, we find him thus employed with a few English and Dutch ships, when the famous Du Bart had the good luck to escape him, with nine sail of ships, with which he did a great deal of mischief, both to our trade and that of the Dutch. Rear-Admiral Benbow, however, followed him as well as he could; but the Dutch ships having, or pretending to have, no orders, quitted him, which hindered him from going to the Dogger Bank, as he intended, and obliged him to sail to Yarmouth Roads, into which he was hardly come, before he received advice that Du Bart had fallen in with the Dutch fleet of seventy merchantmen, escorted by five frigates, and that he had taken all the latter, and thirty of the vessels under their convoy; which might probably have been prevented, if the Rear-Admiral had sailed, as he intended, to the Dogger Bank, and could have persuaded the Dutch to have continued with him. As it was, he safely convoyed a great English fleet of merchantmen to Gottenburgh, and then returned to Yarmouth Roads, and from thence to the Downs for a supply of provisions. He afterwards resumed his design of seeking Du Bart; but his ships being faster sailers than the Rear-Admiral's, he escaped him a second time, though once within sight of him: but, however, he secured three English East Indiamen, that came north about, and brought them safe home.
In 1697, he sailed, the 10th of April, from Spithead, with seven third-rates and two fire-ships, and after some time returned to Portsmouth for provisions; after which be had the good fortune to join the Virginia and West India fleets, and saw them safe into port. He then repaired to Dunkirk, where he received, from Captain Bowman, two orders or instructions from the Lords of the Admiralty; one to pursue M. Du Bart, and to destroy his ships, if possible, at any place, except under the forts in Norway and Sweden; the other to obey the King's commands, pursuant to an order from his Majesty for that purpose. On the 30th of July, Rear-Admiral Vandergoes joined him with eleven Dutch ships, when he proposed that one of the squadrons should be so placed, that Dunkirk might be south of them, and the other in or near Ostend Road, that if Du Bart should attempt to pass, they might the better discover him: but all the answer he received from the Dutch commander was, that his ships being foul, they were not in a condition to pursue him. Rear-Admiral Benbow being disappointed in this project, immediately formed another; for, observing, in the beginning of August, that ten French frigates were hauled into the bason to clean, he judged their design to be, what it really proved, to put to sea by the next spring tide: and therefore, as his ships were all foul, he wrote up to the Board to desire that four of the best sailors might be ordered to Sheerness to clean, and that the others might come to the Downs, not only to take in water, which they very much wanted, but also to heel and scrub, which he judged might be done, before the next spring-tide gave the French an opportunity of getting over the bar. But this was not then thought adviseable, though he afterwards received orders for it, when the thing was too late.
By this unlucky accident, the French had an opportunity given them of getting out with five clean ships; which, however, did not hinder the Admiral from pursuing them as well as he was able, and some ships of his squadron had the good luck to take a Dunkirk privateer of ten guns and sixty men, which had done a great deal of mischief. This was one of the last actions of the war, and the Rear-Admiral soon after received orders to return home with the squadron under his command. It is very remarkable, that as the disappointments we met with in the course of this war occasioned very loud complaints against such as had the direction of our maritime affairs, and against several of our Admirals, there was not one word said, in any of the warm and bitter pamphlets of those times, to the prejudice of Mr. Benbow. On the contrary, the highest praises were bestowed upon him in many of those pieces, and his vigilance and activity made him equally the darling of the seamen and the merchants; the former giving him the strongest marks of their affection, and the latter frequently returning him thanks for the signal services he did them, and for omitting no opportunity that offered, of protecting their commerce, even in cases where he had no particular orders to direct or require his service. But we are to consider these passages as instances only of his merit and their gratitude, and not imagine them in any degree owing to his affecting popularity, which was by no means the case.
He was a plain downright seaman, and spoke and acted upon all occasions without any respect of persons, and with the utmost freedom.
After the conclusion of the peace of Ryswick, and even while the partition treaties were negociating, King William formed a design of doing something considerable in the West Indies, in case his pacifick views should be disappointed, or Charles the second of Spain should die suddenly, as was daily expected. There were, indeed, many reasons, which rendered the sending a squadron at that time into those parts highly useful and requisite. Our colonies were in a very weak and defenceless condition, the seas swarmed with pirates, the Scots had established a colony at Darien, which, very unluckily for them, gave the English little satisfaction, at the same time that it provoked the Spaniards very much. King William himself fixed upon Rear-Admiral Benbow to command this squadron, which proved but a very small one, consisting only of three-fourth rates; and when he went to take upon him his command, he received private instructions from the King to make the best observations he could on the Spanish ports and settlements, but to keep as fair as possible with the Governors, and to afford them any assistance he could, if they desired it. He was, likewise, instructed to watch the galleons; for the King of Spain, Charles the second, was then thought to be in a dying condition.
Rear-Admiral Benbow sailed in the month of November, 1695, and did not arrive in the West Indies till the February following, where he found things in a very indifferent situation. Most of our colonies were in a bad condition, many of them engaged in warm disputes with their Governors, the forces that should have been kept up in them for their defence, so reduced by sickness, desertion, and other accidents, that little or nothing was to be expected from them: but the Admiral carried with him Colonel Collingwood's regiment, which he disposed of to the best advantage in the Leeward Islands. This part of his charge being executed, he began to think of performing the other part of his commission, and of looking into the state of the Spanish affairs, as it had been recommended to him by the King; and a proper occasion of doing this very speedily offered: for being informed, that the Spaniards at Carthagena had seized two of our ships, with an intention to employ them in an expedition they were then meditating against the Scots at Darien, he, like a brave and publick spirited Commander, as he really was, resolved to prevent it, and restore those ships to their right owners. With this view, he stood over the Spanish coast, and coming before Boccuchica castle, he sent his men ashore for wood and water, which though he asked with great civility of the Spanish Governor, he would scarcely permit him to take. This highly nettled the Admiral, who thereupon sent his own Lieutenant to the Governor, with a message importing, that he not only wanted those necessaries, but that he came likewise for three English ships that lay in the harbour, and had been detained there for some time, which, if not sent to him immediately, he would come and take by force. The Governor answered him in very respectful terms, that if he would leave his present station, in which he seemed to block up their port, the ships should be sent out to him. With this request the Admiral complied; but finding the Governor trifled with him, and that his men were in danger of falling into the country distemper, which they thought the Spanish Governor foresaw, he sent him another message, that if in twenty-four hours the ships were not sent him, he would come and fetch them; and that if he kept them longer than that time, he would have an opportunity of seeing the regard an English officer had to his word. The Spaniards, however, did not think fit to make the experiment, but sent out the ships within the time, with which the Admiral returned to Jamaica. There he received an account, that the Spaniards at Porto-Bello had seized several of our ships employed in the slave trade, on the old pretence, that the settlement at Darien was a breach of peace. At the desire of the parties concerned, the Admiral sailed thither also, and demanded these ships, but received a surly answer from the Admiral of the Barlovento fleet, who happened to be then at Porto-Bello. Rear- Admiral Benbow expostulated with him on this head, insisting, that as the subjects of the crown of England had never injured those of his Catholick Majesty, he ought not to make prize of their ships for injuries done by another nation. The Spaniards shrewdly replied, that since both crowns stood on the same head, it was no wonder that he took the subjects of the one crown for the other. After many altercations; however, and when the Spaniards saw that the colony at Darien received no assistance from Jamaica; the ships were, with much to do, restored. The Admiral, in the mean time, sailed in quest of one Kidd, a pirate, who had done a great deal of mischief in the East and West Indies. On his return to Jamaica, towards the latter end of the year, he received a supply of provisions from England and, soon after, orders to retire home, which he did with six men of war, taking New England in his way, and arrived safe, bringing with him from the Plantations, sufficient testimonies of his having discharged his duty, which secured him from all danger of censure, though the House of Commons expressed very high resentment at some circumstances that attended the sending this fleet. But in regard to the Admiral, the greatest compliments were paid to his courage, capacity, and integrity, by all parties; and the King, as a signal mark of his kind acceptance of all his services, granted him an augmentation of arms, which consisting in adding to the three Bent Bows he already bore, as many Arrows; which single act of royal favour sufficiently destroys the foolish report of his being of mean extraction. His conduct in this expedition rated him so much in the King's esteem, that he consulted him as much or more than any man of his rank, and yet without making the Admiral himself vain, or exposing him in any degree to the dislike of the Ministers.
It may be easily imagined, that, in the time the Rear-Admiral spent in the West Indies the face of warfare was much changed: indeed so much were they changed, that the King was forced to think of a new war, though he was sensible the nation suffered severely from the effects of the old one. His first care therefore was to put his fleet in the best order possible, and to distribute the commands therein to officers he could depend upon; and to this it was that Mr. Benbow owed his being promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral of the Blue. He was at that time cruizing of Dunkirk, in order to prevent, what was then much dreaded here, an invasion. There was yet no war declared between the two crowns, but this was held to be no security against France; and it was no sooner known that they were fitting out a stout squadron at Dunkirk, than it was firmly believed to be intended to cover a descent. Vice-Admiral Benbow satisfied the Ministry, that there was no danger on this side; and then it was resolved to prosecute, without delay, the projects formerly concerted, in order to disappoint the French in their views upon the Spanish succession: and to facilitate this, it was thought necessary to send immediately a strong squadron to the West Indies. This squadron was to consist of two third-rates, and eight fourths, which was as great a strength as could be at that time spared; and it was thought perfectly requisite that it should be under the command of an officer, whose courage and conduct might be relied on, and whose experience might give the world a good opinion of the choice made of him for this command, upon the right management of which, it was believed the success of the approaching war would in a great measure depend.
Mr. Benbow was thought of by the Ministry as soon as the expedition was determined, but the King would not hear of it. He said that Benbow was in a manner just come home from thence, where he had met with nothing but difficulties, and therefore it was but fit some other officer should take his turn. One or two were named and consulted; but either their health or their affairs were in such disorder, that they most earnestly desired to be excused. Upon which the King said merrily to some of his Ministers, alluding to the dress and appearance of these gentlemen, Well then, I find we must spare our Beaus, and send honest Benbow. His Majesty accordingly sent for him upon this occasion, and asked him whether he was willing to go to the West Indies? assuring him that if he was not, he would not take it at all amiss if be desired to be excused. Mr. Benbow answered bluntly, that he did not understand such compliments; that he thought he had no right to chuse his station; and that if his Majesty thought fit to send him to the East or West Indies, or any where else, he would cheerfully execute his orders as became him. Thus the matter was settled in very few words, and the command of the West India squadron conferred, without any mixture of envy, on Vice-Admiral Benbow.
To conceal the design of this squadron, and, above all, to prevent the French from having any just notion of its force, Sir George Rooke, then Admiral of the fleet, had orders to convoy it as far as the Isles of Scilly, and to send a strong squadron with it thence, to see it well into the sea; all which be punctually performed: so that Admiral Benbow departed in the month of October, 1701, the world in general believing that be was gone with Sir John Munden, who commanded the squadron that accompanied him into the Mediterranean; and to render this more credible, the Dutch Minister at Madrid was ordered to demand the free use of all the Spanish ports, which was accordingly performed. As soon as it was known in England that Vice- Admiral Benbow was sailed with ten ships only for the West Indies, and it was discovered that the great armament at Brest was intended for the same part of the world, a mighty clamour was raised here at home, as if he had been sent only to be sacrificed, and heavy reflections were made upon the inactivity of our grand fleet; whereas in truth, the whole affair had been conducted with all imaginable prudence, and the Vice-Admiral had as considerable a squadron, as, all things maturely weighed, it was, in that critical juncture, thought possible to be spared. It is certain that King William formed great hopes of this expedition, knowing well that Mr. Benbow would execute, with the greatest spirit and punctuality, the instructions he had received, which were, to engage the Spanish Governors, if possible, to disown King Philip; or in case that could not be brought about, to make himself master of the galleons. In this design it is plain that the Admiral would have succeeded, notwithstanding the smallness of his force, if his officers had done their duty; and it is no less certain, that the anxiety the Vice-Admiral was under, about the execution of his orders, was the principal reason for his maintaining so strict a discipline, which proved unluckily the occasion of his coming to an untimely end. Yet there is no reason to censure either the King's project, or the Admiral's conduct: both were right in themselves, though neither was attended with the success it deserved, which is too often the case, even in the best concerted expeditions.
The French had the same reasons that we had, to be very attentive to what passed in the West Indies; and it must be acknowledged that they prosecuted their designs with great wisdom and circumspection; and which is very extraordinary, they so contrived as to send for this purpose a force much superior to that of ours, which however would have availed them little if Admiral Benbow's officers had been of the same statup with himself: but it so fell out that he shewed much more conduct than any Englishman ever did which gave an advantage to the French that their own schemes though closely laid could never otherwise have obtained. Admiral Benbow's squadron consisting of two third and eight fourth rates arrived at Barbados on the third of November 1701, from whence he sailed to the Leeward Islands in order to examine the state of the French colonies and our own. He found the former in some confusion and the latter! in so good a situation that he thought he ran no hazard in leaving them to go to Jamaica where when he arrived his fleet was in so good a condition the Admiral, officers, and seamen being most of them used to the climate, that he had not occasion to send above ten men to the Hospital, which was looked upon as a very extraordary thing. There he received advice of two French squadrons being arrived in the West Indies which alarmed the inhabitants of that island and of Barbados very much.
After taking care as far as his strength would permit of both places he formed a design of attacking Petit Guevas; but before he could execute it he had intelligence that Monsieur Du Casse was in the neighbourhood of Hispaniola with a squadron of French ships with an intention to settle the Assiento in favour of the French, and to destroy the English and Dutch trade for Negroes. Upon this he detached Rear-Admiral Whetstone in pursuit of him, and on the eleventh of July 1702 he sailed from Jamaica in order to have joined the Rear-Admiral, but having intelligence that Du Casse was expected at Leogame on the north side of Hispanlola be plied for that port, before which he arrived on the twenty seventh. Not far from the town he perceived several ships at anchor and one under sail who sent out her boat to discover his strength which coming too near was taken; from the crew of which they learned that there were six merchant ships in the port, and that the ship they belonged to was a man of war of fifty guns, which the Admiral pressed so hard, the the Captain seeing no probability of escaping, ran the ship onshore. and blew her up. On the twenty eighth the Admiral came before the town, where he found a ship of about eighteen guns hauled under the fortifications, which however did not hinder his burning her.
The rest of the ships had sailed before day, in order to get into a better harbour, viz., Cul de Sac. But some of our ships between them and that port, took three of then and sunk a fourth. The Admiral after alarming Petit Guavas which he found it impossible to attack, sailed for Donna Maria Bay, where he continued till the tenth of August, when having received advice that Monsieur De Casse was sailed foe Carthagena, and from thence was to sail to Porto Bello, he resolved to follow him, and accordingly sailed that day for the Spanish coast of Santa Martha. On the nineteenth of August in the afternoon, he discovered ten sail near that place, steering westward along the shore under their topsails, four of them from sixty to seventy guns, one a great Dutch built ship, of about thirty or forty, another full of soldiers, three small vessels and a sloop. The Vice- Admiral coming up with them about four the engagement began. He had disposed his line of battle in the following manner, viz., the Defiance, Pendennis, Windsor, Breda, Greenwich, Ruby, and Falmouth. But two of these ships, the Defiance and the Windsor, did not stand above two or three broadsides before they loofed out of gun-shot, so that the two sternmost ships of the enemy lay on the Admiral, and galled him very much, nor did the ships in rear, come up to his assistance with the diligence they ought to have done.
The fight lasted however till dark, and though the firing then ceased, the Vice-Admiral kept them company all night. The next morning at break of day he was near the French ships, but none of his squadron except the Ruby was with him, the rest being three, four, or five miles astern. Notwithstanding this, the French did not fire a gun at the Vice-Admiral, though he was within their reach. At two in the afternoon the French drew into a line, though at the same time they made what sail they could without fighting. However the Vice-Admiral and the Ruby kept them company all night, firing their chase guns. Thus the Vice-Admiral continued pursuing, and at some times skirmishing with the enemy, for four days more, but was never duly seconded by several of the ships of his squadron.
The twenty-third, about noon, the Admiral took from them a small English ship, called the Anne Galley, which they had taken off Lisbon; and the Ruby being disabled, he ordered her to Port Royal. About eight at night the whole squadron was up with the Vice-Admiral, and the enemy was not two miles off. There was now a prospect of doing something, and the Vice- Admiral made the best of his way after them; but his whole squadron, except the Falmouth, fell a-stern again. At two in the morning, the twenty-fourth, the Vice-Admiral came up with the enemy's sternmost ship, and fired his broadside, which was returned by the French very briskly, and about three the Vice-Admiral's right leg was broken to pieces by a chain shot. In this condition he was carried down to be dressed, and while the surgeon was at work, one of his Lieutenants expressed great sorrow for the loss of his leg, upon which the Admiral said unto him, I am sorry for it too, but I had rather have lost them both, than have seen this dishonour brought upon the English nation. But, do ye hear, if another shot should take me off, behave like brave men and fight it out.
As soon as it was practicable, he caused himself to be carried up, and placed, with his cradle, upon the quarter deck, and continued the fight till day. They then discovered the ruins of one of the enemy's ships, that carried seventy guns, her main-yard down and shot to pieces, her fore top sail-yard shot away, her mizen-mast shot by the board, all her rigging gone, and her sides tore to pieces. The Admiral soon after discovered the enemy standing towards him with a strong gale of wind. The Windsor, Pendennis, and Greenwich, a-head of the enemy, came to the leeward of the disabled ship, fired their broadsides, passed her, and stood to the southward. Then came the Defiance, and fired part of her broadside, when the disabled ship returning about twenty guns, the Defiance put her helm a-weather, and ran away right before the wind, lowered both her topsails, and ran into the leeward of the Falmouth, without any regard to the signal of battle.
The enemy seeing the other two ships stand to the south-ward, expected they would have tacked and stood towards them, and therefore they brought their heads to the northward, but when they saw those ships did not tack, they immediately bore down upon the Admiral, and ran between their disabled ship and his, and poured in all their shot, by which they brought down his main top-sail yard, and shattered his rigging very much, none of the other ships being near him, or taking the least notice of his signals, though Captain Fogg ordered two guns to be fired at the ship's head, in order to put them in mind of their duty.
The French, seeing things in this condition, brought to, and lay by their own disabled ship, remanned, and took her into tow. The Breda's rigging being much shattered, she was forced to lie by till ten o'clock, and being then refitted, the Admiral ordered the Captain to pursue the enemy, then about three miles to the lee-wards, his line of battle signal out all the while; and Captain Fogg, by the Admiral's orders, sent to the other Captains, to order them to keep the line and behave like men. Upon this Captain Kirkby came on board the Admiral and told him, He had better desist, that the French were very strong, and that from what had passed he might guess he could make nothing of it. The brave Admiral Benbow, more surprised at this language, than at all that had hitherto happened, said very calmly, that this was but one man's opinion, and therefore made a signal for the rest of the Captains to come on board, which they did, in obedience to his orders, but when they came, they fell too easily into Captain Kirkby's sentiments, and, in conjunction with him, signed a paper, importing, that, as he had before told the Admiral, there was nothing more to be done; though at this very time they had the fairest opportunity imaginable of taking or destroying the enemy's whole squadron: for ours consisted then of one ship of seventy guns, one of sixty four, one of sixty, and three of fifty, their yards, masts, and in general all their tackle in as good condition as could be expected, the Admiral's own ship excepted, in which their loss was considerable; but is the rest they had eight only killed and wounded, nor were they in any want of ammunition necessary to continue the fight.
The enemy on the other hand, had but four ships of between sixty and seventy guns, one of which was entirely disabled and in tow; and all the rest very roughly handled; so that even now, if these officers had done their duty, it is morally certain they might have taken them all. But Vice-Admiral Benbow, seeing himself absolutely without support (his own Captain having signed the paper before mentioned,) determined to give over the fight, and to return to Jamaica, though he could not help declaring openly, that it was against his own sentiments, in prejudice to the publick service and the greatest dishonour that had ever befallen the English navy.
The French, glad of their escape, continued their course towards the Spanish coasts and the English squadron soon arrived safe in Port-Royal harbour, where, as soon as the Vice-Admiral came onshore, be adored the officers who had so scandalously misbehaved, to be brought out of their ships and confined, and immediately after directed a commission to Rear-Admiral Whetstone to hold a Court-Martial for their trial, which was accordingly done, and upon the fullest and clearest evidence that could be desired, some of the most guilty were condemned, and suffered according to their deserts.
Some of the French writers (according to their usual custom) have given quite another turn to this transaction, and have endeavoured to make the world believe, that the bravery of his men, and the conduct of Commodore Du Casse, enabled him to beat an English squadron of superior force, and that if he had been apprised of the shattered condition to which he had reduced them, he might have pursued and taken several, if not all the ships of which it consisted. But Du Casse himself, who was both a brave officer and an able seaman was far enough from treating things in this way, and candidly acknowledged, that he had a very lucky and unlooked for escape. As for Vice-Admiral Benbow, though he so far recovered from the fever induced by his broken-leg, as to be able to attend the trials of the Captains who had deserted him, and thereby vindicated his own honour, and that of the nation; yet he still continued in a declining state, occasioned partly by the heat of the climate, but chiefly from that grief which this miscarriage occasioned, as appeared by his letters to his lady, in which he expressed much more concern for the condition in which he was likely to leave publick affairs in the West Indies, than for his own. During all the time of his illness, he behaved with great calmness and presence of mind, having never flattered himself, from the time his leg was cut off, with any hopes of recovery, but shewed an earnest desire, to be as useful as he could while he was yet living; giving the necessary directions for stationing the ships of his squadron for protecting the commerce, and incommoding the enemy. He continued thus discharging his duty to the last moment; for dying of a sort of consumption, his spirits did not fail him till very near his end, and his senses were very sound to the day he expired, which was the fourth of November, 1702. His royal Mistress spoke of his loss, when she heard of it, with great tenderness and concern; and it may be truly said, that no man of his rank was more sincerely regretted by the bulk of the nation; so that one cannot help wondering at the singular method taken by a certain historian, to sink the names of those offenders, who so justly suffered for betraying so brave a man; and at the same time, treating the Vice-Admiral's character with apparent marks of disrespect.
The Vice-Admiral's sister made a present of his picture to the corporation of Shrewsbury, who caused it to be hung up in the town hall, where it remains as a testimony of the regard his countrymen have for the memory of so worthy a man, so gallant an officer, and so true a patriot, who manifested his love to his country,- not by fair professions and fine speeches, but by spending his whole life in her service.
The Vice-Admiral left behind him a widow and several children of both sexes, but his sons dying without issue his two surviving daughters became coheiresses, of whom the eldest married Paul Calton, Esq., of Milton, near Abingdon, in Berks, who was a person of great reading and general knowledge, very communicative, and had a great desire that the memory of his worthy father-in-law should be transmitted to posterity with due honour, and with a just regard to truth. It is certain, that but for his attention in this respect, the publick had been deprived of the most curious circumstances relative to the actions of this great man, and known nothing more of him, than had heen preserved in the traditional recitals of sailors, who were remarkably fond of claiming Benbow as their own, and were sure to mention him upon every dispute where the virtue of the Tars was called into question. Benbow and Shovell were their favourites; they were sailors, rose by being sailors, and were proud of being sailors, much more than of their flags; men, who by a long obedience learned how to command, and who directed such as served under them, as much by example as by orders: In one word they were men distinguished in and by their profession, and who, after many years employment, left behind them small fortunes and great reputation.
That eminent scholar Dr. JOHN TAYLOR, was born at Shrewsbury, and was the son of a barber, and the grandson of the Rev. John Taylor, B.A., third master of Shrewsbury school.
Young Taylor's father was employed to dress the wigs and trim the beard of Roger Owen, Esq., of Condover. This gentleman was accustomed frequently to converse with his barber, respecting his family and the future prospects of his children. Old Taylor used to declare that he had good hopes of them all,- except his son Jack, whom he could not get to take to the business, or to handle either the razor or the comb. Mr. Owen therefore determined to give young Taylor a learned education, in which expense, he was no doubt assisted by one of the exhibitions from Shrewsbury school, to St. John's college, Cambridge. Dr. Taylor used to complain, to his intimate friends, of the riotous festivity in which gratitude obliged him to take a part, at the house of his patron, whose favour he at last forfeited by refusing to drink a Jacobite toast on his knees.
Mr. Taylor took the degree of B.A. at St. John's, in 1727, that of M.A. in 1731, and that of S.T.B. in 1738. In 1738, he was chosen fellow, and became D.D. in 1760,
One of his first publications was " Oratio habits coram Academia Cantabrigiensi in Temple Beata Maria, die solemni Martyrii Caroli Primi Regis A.D. 1730, a Johanne Taylor, A.M. Collegii D. Johannis Evangelista socio. This was succeeded the same year by "The Musick- speech at the Publick Commencement in Cambridge, July 6th, 1730. To which is added "An Ode designed to have been set to Musick on that occasion." In March 1739, Mr. Taylor was appointed Librarian, (an office he held but a short time) and was afterwards Registrar. Either while he was Librarian or before, he took great pains in classing the noble present of George the first, to the University, consisting of 30,000 volumes of the best books, besides MSS. formerly belonging to Bishop Moore. The catalogue of the Bible class, which is so large as to form a moderate folio, is still preserved in his neat hand writing, and affords full proof of his industry and knowledge, in that branch of learning in which he particularly excelled and delighted. He was often heard to say, that he would undertake to shew the Library to the best scholar in Europe, or to a girl of six years old. Even this dull and laborious employment furnished him with some pleasant histories; for among his other good qualities, that of telling a story well, was not the least remarkable. He used to say that while he was throwing the books into heaps for general divisions, he saw one, the title page of which mentioned something about height, and another which appeared to treat of Salt. The first he cast amongst those of mensuration, the other amongst those of chemistry, or cookery; that he was startled when he came to examine them, to find that the first was "Longinus de Sublimitate," and the other "A Theological Discourse on the Salt of the Word, that good christians ought to be seasoned with."
One day shewing the library to the late Lord B. who was recommended to him, but of whose understanding reports were unfavourable, he began by producing such articles as might be most likely to amuse such a person; but, observing him very attentive, though silent, he ventured to go a little further and at last, to crown the whole, put Beta's M.S. of the Gospels into his Lordship's hands, and began telling his story; but, in the midst of it, his Lordship broke his long silence, by desiring to know whether they were then in the county of Cambridge, or in the county of Hereford. The Doctor added, that, he snatched the manuscript from his Lordship, and was very glad when it was, in its proper place, thinking it not unlikely, that it would have been tossed out of the window the next minute.
In the year 1732, appeared the Proposals for his Lysias: in which Mr. Clarke writes thus to Mr. Bowyer: [See Mr. Clarke's life, p. 190] "I am glad Mr. Taylor has got into your press: it will make his Lysias more correct. I hope you will not let him print too great a number of copies. It will encourage a young editor to have his first attempt rise upon his hands. I fancy you have got him in the press for life, if he has any tolerable success there; he is too busy a man to be idle. It was published under the title of " Lysiae Orationes et Fragments. Grieco and Latino. Ad fidem Codd. Manuscriptorum recensuit, notis criticis, interpretation nova, determine apparatu necessario donavit Joannes Taylor, A.M. Coll. D. Joan. Cantab. Soc. Academies olim a Bibliothecis, hodie a Commentariis. Accedunt cl. Jer. Marklandi Coll. D. Pet. Soc. Conjecturae."
At the end of this volume were advertised, as just published, "Proposals for printing by subscription, a new and correct edition of Demosthenes and AEschines, by John Taylor, A.M., Fellow of St. John's college, and Registrar of the University of Cambridge.- N.B. On or before the 24th day of December next, will be published, (and delivered to subscribers, if desired,). Oratio contra Leptinem, which begins the third volume of the above-mentioned work." The dedication to Lord Carteret, intended for the first volume, (which Dr. Taylor did not live to publish,) is dated December 3, 1747; the third volume published nine years before the second, 1748; and the second 1757.
Earl Granville, then Lord Carteret, had before this time, entrusted to Dr. Taylor's care, the education of his grandson, Lord Viscount Weymouth, and Mr. Thynne; and, as the Doctor informs us, at the same time laid the plan, and suggested the methods of their education in consequence of this nobleman's recommendation, ' to lay out the rudiments of social life and of civil duties; to inquire into the foundations of justice and of equity; and to examine the principal obligations which arise from those several connections into which Providence has thought proper to distribute the human species.' Dr. Taylor says be was led 'to the system of that people, who without any invidious comparison, are allowed to have written the best comment upon the great volume of Nature.' These researches afterwards produced his " Elements' of the Civil Law," printed in quarto, 1755, and again in 1769. This latter work, it is well known, occasioned a learned but peevish preface to the third volume of the "Divine Legation."
In February, 1751, Dr. Taylor was admitted an advocate in Doctors Commons, and published in 1742, "Commentarius ad Legem Decemiralem, de inope debitore in partes dissecando, quem in Scholis Juridicis Cantabrigiae, Junii 22, 1741, recitavit, cum pro gradu solenniter respondent Johannes Taylor, L.L.D. Collegii D. Joannis Socias. Accedunt a viris eruditissimis confectae, nec in lucem hactenus editae, Notae ad Marmor Bosporanum, Jovi Urio sacrum. Dissertatio de voce Yonane. Explicatio Inscriptionis in antiquo Marmore Oxon. De Historicis Anglicanis Commentatio," 4to.
In the next year appeared, "Marmor Sandvicenae, cum Commentario et Notis Johannis Taylori, L.L.D., being a Dissertation on a marble brought into England, by Lord Sandwich, in 1789; containing a most minute account of the receipts and disbursements of the three Athenian Magistrates, deputed by that people to celebrate the feast of Apollo, at Delos, in the 101st Olympiad, or 374 years before Christ. This is the oldest inscription whose date is known for certain.
Lord Sandwich, on his return from his voyage round the Mediterranean in 1788 and 1739, brought home with him among many other curiosities, a marble vase from Athens, with two figures in basso relievo, and a very long inscription, as yet undecyphered, on both sides of a piece of marble about two feet in height. This marble, as a mark of respect to the Society of which he had been a member, his Lordship presented to Trinity college, Cambridge; and it is now preserved in their Library. The inscription on it was with wonderful sagacity explained and illustrated by Dr. Taylor, who made it legible and intelligible by every reader of the Greek language. What so respectable a person says of the Earl, it would be injustice to his memory to withhold: ' Nolui certe meam opellam decase, tali potissimum viro hortante, cujus inter postremas laudes olim recensebitor, potuisse eum cum fructu, non solum proprio, sed etiam publico peregrinari.' The circumstances under which his Lordship discovered this valuable relick are rather singular. 'He saw it' he tells us, lying among some rubbish and lumber, in a sort of wood-yard belonging to Niccolo Logotheti, the English consul, of whom he begged it. The consul could give no account, when or where it was found, otherwise than that it had lain there a good while in his father's life time. He set no sort of value upon it, and wondered much that his Lordship would be at the trouble of carrying it away.'
In April 1744, Dr. Taylor succeeded Dr. Reynolds as Chancellor of the diocese of Lincoln; but did not then, think proper to enter into holy orders.
In a letter to Mr. Bowyer, without date, but written probably in 1744, whilst Lord Carteret was Secretary of State, Mr. Clarke says, ' if he (Dr. Taylor) still persists in not going into orders, though an Archbishop would persuade him to it, it is plain he is no great friend to the church, though as my Lord Halifax said, when he kept Mr. Addison out of it, I believe it is the only injury he will ever do it. I heartily wish he may be more agreeably, he will scarce be more usefully employed. Supposing, which I am in hopes of, that my Lord Carteret should make him one of the under Secretaries, what will become of all the orators of the ages past? Instead of publishing the sentiments of ancient Demagogues, his whole time will be engrossed in cooking up and concealing the finesses of modern politicks. But, however, I should rejoice to see him so employed, and hope there is some prospect of it'
The fact is, Dr. Taylor intended to be a Civilian; and to enable him to keep his fellowship, without going into orders, as all are obliged to do at St. John's, except two physicians, and two Civilians, he was nominated to a Faculty Fellowship on the Law line: but continuing in College, to superintend his edition of Demosthenes, he probably saw, that in order to make the figure he could wish in that profession, he should have devoted himself to the practice of it earlier; and the prospect of a valuable College living becoming now near, he took orders, and the rectory of Lawford being vacant, he claimed it: this was a new case then, and has never happened since. It was thought by many of the Society, at least hard, that a person should be excused all his time, from reading prayers, preaching, and other ecclesiastical duties in College, and the University, which must be performed in person, or another paid for doing them; and then, when the reward of all this long service seems within reach, that another who has not borne any part of the heat and burden of the day, should step in before you, and carry off the prize. The Doctor, however, was so lucky, as he generally was, as to carry his point, but not without much difficulty. His friends, indeed, who kept up the credit of the house for punning, said from the first, that the Doctor would certainly go to Lawefor't.
Dr. Taylor's preferments, after he entered into orders, were the rectory of Lawford, in Essex, in April, 1751; the archdeaconry of Buckingham, in 1763; the residentiaryship of St. Paul's, in July, 1757, succeeding Dr. Terrick, who is said to have been raised to the see of Peterborough expressly to make the vacancy; and the office of Prolocutor to the lower house of Convocation, the same year. He was also, Commissary of Lincoln and of Stowe; and was esteemed one of the most disinterested and amiable, as he was certainly one of the most learned of his profession.
In a conversation at Sir Joshua Reynolds's Dr. Johnson said, "Demosthenes Taylor was the most silent man, the merest statue of a man, that I have ever seen. I once dined in company with him; and all he said during the whole time, was no more than RICHARD. How a man should say, only RICHARD, it is not easy to imagine. But it was thus: Dr. Douglas was talking of Dr. Zachary Grey, and ascribing to him something that was written by Dr. Richard Grey. So, to correct him, Taylor said (imitating his affected, sententious emphasis and nod,) RICHARD!" Boswell's Life of Johnson, Vol. II. p. 340.
Browne Willis, in a letter to Dr. Discard, 1757, expresses his expectation that Dr. Taylor was to have had Dr. Neve's great prebend of Lincoln.
In 1748, one volume (the third) of the long expected labours of Dr. Taylor appeared under the title of "Demosthenous, Aischinou, Deinarchou, kai Demadou sosomens. Graece et Latine, Tornus Tertins, Edidit Joanes Taylor, L.L.D. Coll. D. Joan. Cant. Socius, et Cancellarius Lincolniensis. Cantabrigiae, Typis Academicis," to which was prefixed, the Dedication to Lord Carteret, originally intended for the first volume.
In a letter to Mr. Upton, dated July 24, 1739, the very learned Mr. Harris says, "I was much pleased to find in Taylor's Preface.to Lysias that he intended also to publish Demosthenes. Before I received your letter, I went to collating, and have finished the four Phillipicks; these, if you will tell me how to direct to him, I will send; and if from the specimen he thinks the rest worth having, care shall he taken of having it performed. Taylor is a man of sense and a scholar; but there is a crabbedness in his style from an affectation of phrases, and a pedantick way of triumphing over his brother Commentators, which I could wish away. This last he apologises for himself, in his Preface, but in my opinion, he had better not have made such an apology necessary."
The second volume was published in 1757, with a title similar to the third; but the editor is there styled, "Joannes Taylor, L.L.D. Ecclesiae de Lawford in agro Essexsiensi Rector, Archidiaconus Buckinghamiensis, et Diocescos Lincolniensis Cancellarius." This volume, which has neither Introduction nor Preface, is inscribed to John, Earl of Granville; and bears this colophon: "Excudebat Cantabrigiae, Josephus Bentham,Acsulemiae Typographus. Mense Maiae, MDCCLVII.
Dr. Taylor published two single Sermons; one preached at Bishop's Stortford, on the Anniversary School feast, August 22, 1749; the other, before the House of Commons, on the Fast day, February 11, 1757.
He was for many years a valuable member both of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies, his name being distinguished in the publications of the former, and was appointed Director of the latter, April 22, 1759, and at the next meeting one of their Vice-presidents.
He died, universally lamented and beloved, at his Residentiary-house, Amen-corner, April 4, 1766; and was buried in the vaults under St. Paul's, nearly under the Litany desk, where there is an inscription on a marble slab, which merely enumerates his titles. But by way of monumental memorial, his friend, the Rev. Edward Clarke, suggested the following inscription:
Plorate, Linguarum, Artium, Scientiarum, Vos O Doetissimi Cultores! quotquot huic marmori funereo aliquando accesseritis, desiderio qumrentes lacrumabilis quale quantumque corpori caduce hic sit superstes nomen. Quippe hic jaeet Hellas propria, hie lepos Attieus, hic Dorian Psithurisma hie suave mel Ionicum. Seriptores Grreche veteris et Latii numerosos, Jul Civile, Urbanum, Municipale, Leger, Ritus, Ceremonies, Mores reconditissimm Antiquitatis, quis illi par sic unquam expedivit Te sublato! mancus, debilis, semper jacet, ille taus Demosthenes Paianicns, imperfecta restant "ta AEschinis sozomena," solus integer et superstes Lysias. Thee solummodo qui legerit nemo non pewit non exelamare, Hic situs est JOHANNES TAYLORUS SALOPIENSIS, Ecclesise Lincolniensis Cancellarius Sancti Pauli Canonicals, obiit annum agens sexagesimum tertium, 4 Aprilis, 1766.
An intimate friend of Dr. Taylor says: 'You have mentioned that Dr. Taylor was too busy a man to be idle. This is too shining a particular in the Doctor's temper and abilities, not to be a little more insisted upon. If you called on him in College after dinner, you were sure to find him sitting at an old oval, walnut-tree table, entirely covered with books, in which, as the common expression runs, be seemed to be buried: you began to make apologies for disturbing a person so well employed; but he immediately told you to advance, taking care to disturb as little as you could, the books on the floor; and called out ' John, John, bring pipes and glasses;' and then fell to procuring a small space for the bottle just to stand on, but which could hardly ever be done without shoving off an equal quantity of the furniture at the other end; and he instantly appeared as cheerful, good humoured and degage, as if he had not been at all engaged or interrupted. Suppose, now, you had staid as long as you would, and been entertained by him most agreeably, you took your leave, and got half-way down the stairs; but recollecting somewhat you had more to say to him, you go in again; the bottle and glasses. were gone, the books had expanded themselves so as to re-occupy the whole table, and he was just as much buried in them, as when you first broke in on him. I never knew this convenient faculty to an equal degree in any other scholar. His voice to me, appeared, remarkably pleasing and harmonious, whether he talked or read English, Latin, or Greek prose, owing to his speaking through his lips much advanced, which always produces softness. This practice, a habit I believe he learned from a speaking master, to whom he applied to correct some natural defect; for which purpose he always kept near him a small swing-glass, the use of which was unknown to his friends, but in preaching, which he was fond of, one might perceive a shrillness or sharpness that was not agreeable; perhaps he could not speak so loud as was required, and at the same time keep his lips advanced and near together, as he had learned to do, for common conversation. He understood perfectly, as a gentleman and a scholar, all that belongs to making, a book handsome, as the choice of paper and types, and the disposition of text, version and notes.
He excelled in many small accomplishments. He always appeared handsomely in full dress as a clergyman, was grand in his looks, yet affable, flowing, and polite. Latterly he grew too plump, with an appearance of doughy paleness, which occasioned uneasiness to those who loved him, whose number, I think, must be considerable.
"He wrote a large, fair, and elegant hand,and was a perfect master of Dr. Byrom's short hand, which he looked upon as barely short of perfection, and taught (for the benefit of his friend) to as many as chose to learn it. He never made a blot in his writing; and always besides his Adversaria, kept a proper edition of most books for entering notes in their margin. He was of remarkable sang froid in very trying cases. Once being got into a coach and four, with some friends, for a scheme, as we call it, the gentleman driver, the late Rev. Roger Mostyn, who was remarkably short sighted, picked up the reins as he thought, but left those of the leaders below, and the horses (being smartly whipped, to make them go off at a handsome rate) soon finding that they were at liberty went off at a speed beyond what the rest of the party could desire. They proposed to the Doctor to jump out, who replied with the utmost coolness. 'Jump out? Why jump out? have not I hired the coach to carry me?' This looks more like the language of Jack Tar, than of one bred in the softening shade of Academus' grove; yet I have little doubt of its being literally true, as he used much the same language to me, when the fore wheel of the post chaise came off twice in one stage. He also told me himself, that when the last of the two earthquakes in London happened, (I mean that at six in the morning,) he was waked by it, and said, 'This is an earthquake!' turned himself, and went to sleep instahtly. Yet nothing of this appeared in his common behaviour; but all was soft and placid. When we used to joke with him on the badness of his furniture, which consisted of the table above mentioned, and three or four ordinary chairs; and these always filled with books, he used to say that his room was better, and more expensively furnished than any of ours; which was certainly true, as he sat in the midst of an excellent library; containing a very fine collection of philological, classical, and judicial books, which formed the proper furniture of a scholar's room, though I cannot say that it is the usual and fashionable furniture of the times.
"This fine and large collection he increased greatly after he got to London, as all those who knew it in Amen corner will bear me witness. This was the more necessary for him to do, as he no longer had the command of the well furnished libraries of Cambridge; and as it was his taste and passion to do so, he was enabled to gratify them by his ample income which had he lived, would have been very large, even though it had received no further increase.
"He was silent in large companies, but fond of dealing out his entertainment and instruction before one, two or three persons. He entertained his friends with an hospitality and generosity that bordered upon munificence, and enjoyed himself in his convivial hours. I dined with him once or twice in Ave Maria Lane, where he kept a noble table, the only fault of which was, that it was too open to all comers; some of whom were the dullest companions possible. One of them, who, I think had been a schoolmaster, was, of all men I ever met with, the most stupid; and yet this man used to go about, and declare to every body, that he made it a point frequently to call on the Doctor, and sit long with him, to prevent him being dull;- whereas the Doctor's known character was, that no one knew how to employ his time better.
"It may be a means of prolonging some worthy man's days, to mention that Dr. Taylor shortened his, by a modesty or shyness that prevented him from making his case fully known, and submitting himself to the direction of a physician, though he was intimately acquainted with several of the most eminent in the profession. He one day mentioned to me with some peevishness, that be was costive. I asked him why he did not consult Dr. Heberden; he said, 'How can I do so ? he will not take any thing.' I replied that he would certainly give him the best advice, out of pure friendship and regard; but that there were others to whom he might apply, who might not have the same delicacy. The misfortune was, that he had applied to three, and smuggled a receipt for a purge from each and used them all alternately, and almost without intermission, at least in a manner they never intended; I think there were 175 charged in the Apothecary's bill for the last year. This calamity had hardly happened, had he lived in a family, I mean with friends and relations about him, and not servants only, as the former could never have consented to his treating himself in such a strange manner."
The REV. JOB ORTON was so eminent a character, that it is an act of justice to his memory, and will be peculiarly acceptable to many of our readers, to give an account of him in this place. Concerning his family he himself thus speaks, in a memorial which he left for the use of his nephews: ' They will find no lords and knights, or persons of distinguished rank, wealth, or station among their progenitors. But they will learn, (as far as I am capable of judging, by the best information I could gain, and the knowledge of those whom I remember) that there is no one, either male or female, in the line of their direct ancestors for many generations, but hath been truly serious, pious, and good, and filled up some useful station in society with honour.' His grandfather and father, who were grocers at Shrewsbury, of considerable property, were justly held in estimation for their piety, their good sense, their generosity, their usefulness, and their Christian virtues in general.
The younger Mr. Orton added to his other valuable qualities the benefit of a liberal education, and an extensive acquaintance with books. His eldest son, Job, the subject of this memoir, was born on the 4th of September, 1717, and was early taught to pray, to read the Scriptures, and to keep holy the Sabbath-day. At a proper age he was sent to the Free school of his native place, where he went through the whole course of grammatical education, having stayed there somewhat more than eight years. Here he enjoyed as great advantages for classical knowledge as in most publick schools, but suffered, he tells us, ' not a little in the most important interests, by the example and temptations of some boys who were very wicked and profane.'
In May, 1788, he left the school, and went to Warrington, under the care of Dr. Charles Owen, the dissenting minister of that town, who usually had two or three young men under his tuition. Mr. John Ashworth, the eldest brother of the late Caleb Ashworth, of Daventry, and who afterwards preached with Dr. Foster, in London, and died young, was Mr. Orton's only fellow student. This situation to Mr. Orton was an agreeable transition from his father's house to that of a large seminary, he and his fellow-pupil being treated by their tutor more like his own children, than with the discipline necessary in an academy. Dr. Owen was a gentleman of considerable learning, great piety, and one of the most amiable men ever known for a polite behaviour, sweetness of temper and manner, and a genteel address. Mr. Orton continued with him one year; after which he spent the month of June, 1734, in the family of Mr. Colthurst, a worthy minister at Whitchurch in Shropshire. There, by the advice and encouragement of Mr. Colthurst, he first joined in the Lord's Supper, and devoted himself to a sincere compliance with the obligations of Christianity. In August, 1734, he went to Northampton, under the care of Dr. Doddridge, where he continued above seven years, with the interruption of about seven months in the year 1736 and the beginning of 1737, which, on account of the ill state of his health, he was obliged to spend at home. This time, however, was not quite lost, as his father kept him as close to reading and study as he thought was consistent with a due regard to his recovery. Before young Mr. Orton went first from home, he had been bound apprentice to his father, that, in case he should not incline to any of the learned professions, he might be a freeman of the town of Shrewsbury, and be able to engage there in business; but his inclinations were always to the Christian Ministry. To this he might be led, by observing the very respectful, obliging, and affectionate manner, in which his grandfather and father always behaved to worthy ministers, and the honourable terms in which they always spoke of them. Indeed, the houses of the two Ortons were the places where not only the dissenting Clergy, but several of the Church of England were usually entertained in the most hospitable manner, when they came to Shrewsbury. But though this circumstance gave the first turn to the inclinations of young Orton, he soon formed his resolutions for the ministry upon better motives. It was his desire to devote himself to the services of the sanctuary, with a view to the religious improvement and everlasting happiness of mankind: and to qualify himself for this great work were all his studies directed. In a few weeks after he went to Northampton, he had made himself so perfect a master of Rich's short-hand, which his tutor wrote, that he could take down the whole of most of the sermons which he heard.
Such were the ability and diligence with which Mr Orton pursued his literary course, that in March 1738-9, he was chosen assistant to Dr. Doddridge in the Academy; and he began his lectures in this capacity, with reading to the junior students in the classicks and geography. About the same time he was examined before a committee of pastors in the neighbourhood, as to his qualifications for the ministerial office, and received an ample testimony of satisfaction and approbation. His first sermon was preached at Welford, in Northamptonshire, on the 15th of April, 1739. After this he continued to preach occasionally to all the neighbouring congregations, excepting. on the first Sunday of every month, when he generally assisted Dr. Doddridge, at Northampton.
During the vacations, which lasted two months, the Doctor continued at home in the former month, while Mr. Orton paid a visit to his friends, and relations at Shrewsbury. In the second month he returned to Northampton, and took care of the family, the congregation, and such of the pupils as remained, whilst the Doctor made his excursions to London, or other places.
In this early part of his life, Mr. Orton was honoured with many testimonies of his acceptableness as a preacher. He received several invitations from the congregations at Welford, Rowell, and Harborough, to settle with them as their minister: and he was applied to, likewise, by the Dissenting Society at Salter's Hall, London, to preach there as a candidate; but he thought it best to decline these applications, as, while he was assistant at Northampton, he was engaged in very useful employment, and had daily opportunities of improving himself superior to what he should have had in any other station. The enjoyment which he had of Dr. Doddridge's conversation was esteemed by him as a peculiar advantage.
In April, 1741, died Mr. Berry, the minister of the Presbyterian meeting at Shrewsbury; and about the same time Mr. Dobson, the pastor of the Independent Church, in that town, to which Mr. Orton's father belonged, removed to Walsall, in Staffordshire. These two societies being thus vacant, concurred in an invitation to Mr. Orton, to accept the pastoral charge among them, promising that in that case they would unite together in one congregation. The circumstance of such a pleasing coalescence of two different denominations of Christians, the unanimity of the application, and the prospect of an agreeable settlement, and of a considerable sphere of usefulness, induced him to accede to the proposal, though he did it with fear and trembling, as a prophet hath not, in general, the same honour in his own country, and among his own kindred, as he meets with in another place.
In October, 1741, he removed to Shrewsbury, and on the eighteenth of that month preached his first sermon to the united congregations. On the eighteenth of the next month, he had the misfortune to lose his father, who died at the age of fifty-two. This event was not only a great personal affliction to Mr. Orton, but brought upon him such a weight of cares, in addition to his various duties as a minister, that his health was materially injured; the consequence of which was that he was laid under the necessity of having an assistant. He was obliged, likewise, in September, 1742, to go to Bath, by which he found some relief. The person chosen to be his assistant was Mr. Francis Boult, whe continued at Shrewsbury till the end of the year 1745, when be removed to Wrexham, in Denbighshire. On the eighteenth of September, in the same year, Mr. Orton was solemnly ordained to the pastoral office. The sermon and charge that were delivered upon the occasion were printed, and the testimonial was signed by a great number of pastors. Thirty ministers were present at the service. Upon the removal of Mr. Boult to Wrexham, Mr. Moses Carter was chosen assistant to Mr. Orton, and accepted the invitation, but died in 1747. He was a man of uncommon ability, and his early death was greatly to be regretted.
In 1746, Mr. Orton was invited by the congregation at the new meeting in Birmingham, to be their co-pastor with Mr. Bourne. Though he had a high esteem for the people of that society, he did not dare to undertake so much work as was necessary in the situation; besides which, he was comfortable and useful where he was already settled. The invitation from Birmingham was signed by nine of the principal persons of the congregation, who were a committee to manage their church affairs.
In 1748, Mr. Fownes was chosen Mr. Orton's assistant, and the connection was highly agreeable to both of them, they always having lived together in the utmost harmony and friendship.
By Dr. Doddridge's death, which happened as before related, Mr. Orton lost his honoured tutor, father, and friend. "The great and truly paternal tenderness," says Mr. Orton, (in the memorial from which we write,) "he had shewn to me from my first coming under his care, and the uncommon confidence which he had in some instances reposed in me, led me to the highest respect and warmest affection for him. His appointing me in his will to preach his funeral sermon, was a signal honour to me; and as he left me all his papers which I chose, I thought myself under particular obligations to attempt to give the world an account of his life and character, and writings, which I at length effected. I do not repent the pains spent in this work for several years, though hurtful to my health, because I hope and believe it hath been and will be of great use to young ministers, and others who read it. It was, soon after its publication, translated into German, and a copy sent me from Riga, from an eminent divine there, who translated. and published my Sermons on Eternity. But Doddridge's Life was translated by Mr. Lindner, a young Lutheran Divine of Saxon-hausen, in Saxony."
In March, 1751-2, Mr. Orton was invited to assume the pastoral charge of the congregation belonging to his late friend at Northampton. Upon that his people at Shrewsbury were alarmed; and, apprehending that be might listen to the application, they sent him a most respectful, affectionate, and unanimous address, to entreat that he would not leave them. A separate address, to the same purpose, was made to him by the young persons of the society. He had no inclination to quit a situation in which he was comfortable and useful; especially as there were some circumstances at Northampton that were of a discouraging nature. Nevertheless, he thought it a proper piece of respect to take some time to consider of the invitation, which at length he declined.
Not long after this event, another attempt was made to draw Mr. Orton from Shrewsbury. He was applied to by a considerable congregation in Westminster, to succeed their late pastor, the Rev. Dr. Obadiah Hughes; but he immediately rejected the proposal, as he never had any inclination to settle in London, and as he was firmly persuaded, that neither his health, nor his abilities, nor his sentiments, qualified him for a situation in the metropolis. In the last two particulars he wee undoubtedly mistaken. Whether London would have been favourable to his health, might justly be questioned; but as to his abilities and sentiments, they would have enabled him to appear with distinguished advantage in the pulpit. He was one of the most striking preachers that ever existed; and if he had been fixed in town, he could not have failed of rising to a high degree of popularity. His popularity, too, would have been of a substantial and durable kind, not founded on external and artificial accomplishments, but on discourses that were practical, serious, evangelical, and pathetick, accompanied with a plain, unaffected, and manly delivery, which irresistibly commanded attention. There was one respect, in which, perhaps, be was not so well fitted for London, and that was in his recluse mode of living, which grew upon him as he advanced in years and his health declined, and which rendered him very particular and exact in his time of dining, and very cautious, not to say fastidious in his reception of visitors. The congregation at Westminster, which was refused by him, was supplied at Midsummer, 1750, by the writer of the present narrative.
From this time nothing material occurred, in the course of Mr. Orton's ministry at Shrewsbury, till the year 1765. He was comfortable and happy among his people, and in the friendship and assistance of Mr. Fownes. But in that year his bodily infirmities had so far advanced upon him, that he was quite disabled from continuing in his publick work. On the fifteenth of September, therefore, (which was his birthday) he delivered his last sermon to his congregation. The Lord's Supper was administered by him several times after this, but he durst not undertake to preach any more.
Mr. Orton's quitting his pastoral connection with the Dissenters at Shrewsbury, was attended with unhappy consequences. A contest arose with respect to the choice of an assistant to Mr. Fownes, which, at length, ended in a separation. The larger number of the society thought it their duty to provide themselves with another place of worship; and with these Mr. Orton concurred in opinion. He esteemed himself bound to countenance them upon every principle of conscience as a Christian, a Dissenter, a Minister, and a Friend to Liberty. Though Mr. Fownes continued at the old chapel this circumstance did not occasion any dimunition in the friendship and affection subsisting between him and Mr. Orton. One almost unavoidable effect of the division was its being accompanied with a bad spirit, in several persons, on both sides of the question. The height to which the matter was carried, rendered Mr. Orton's situation at Shrewsbury greatly uncomfortable, and materially affected his health. He found it necessary, therefore, to retire to another place; and at length he fixed at Kidderminster, to which he was principally led, that he might have the advice of a very able and skilful physician, (Dr. Johnstone, of Worcester,) who always proved himself a faithful and tender friend. To the care of Dr. Johnstone, Mr. Orton, under God, owed his life; and, from the regard and affection of the same gentleman, he derived some of the greatest present consolations of his existence. It was on the twenty-sixth of October, 1766, that he came to Kidderminster, and there he continued for the remainder of his days. His residence in that town was as comfortable as he could hope for, in a place comparatively strange to him, and among persons, with most of whom he had no previous acquaintance,
Though Mr. Orton was prevented by the bad state of his health, from ever again appearing in the pulpit, he still retained the same zeal for promoting the great objects of the Christian religion. What he could not perform as a preacher he was solicitous to effect as a practical writer. The following words were written by him in the bible, which he commonly used in his study: 'Si non concedatur ut prteco sim publicus, sim tamen operarius: quod publice non possum, faciam, [ut licet, valet] privatim. Quod non possum prtecando, praestem scrihendo. Auxiliare, Domine, servum senilem.' His whole conduct was in full conformity to these pious wishes.
Mr. Orton had not appeared much from the press, previously to his resignation of the pastoral office. His only publications before that period were his Funeral Sermon for Dr. Doddridge, printed in 1752; a Fast Sermon in 1756, occasioned by the earthquake at Lisbon, entitled "Noah's Faith and Obedience to the Divine Warnings, and his Preservation from the Deluge considered;" and "Three Discourses on Eternity, and the Importance and Advantage of looking at Eternal Things," published in 1764. These three Discourses have gone through six editions, and have been translated into Welsh. Such was Mr. Orton's ill state of health, together with his attention to the duties of his profession, that it was not till 1766 that he was able to give to the world his "Memoirs of the Life, Character, and Writings of Dr. Doddridge;" a work to which we have heen greatly indebted in the course of the preceding article. In 1769, he published a set of Sermons, under the title of "Religious Exercises recommended: or, Discourses on the Heavenly State, considered under the idea of a Sabbath." 'These Sermons,' say the Monthly Reviewers, 'are not distinguished by any remarkable elegance of style or accuracy of language and composition; but they have a much truer recommendation: they are serious and practical; well adapted to do real service to every attentive reader, and evidently flowing from a heart under the warm influences of benevolence and piety.' After some other encomiums, the same writers add, 'We are persuaded that the present work is calculated to produce real advantage to mankind; and we sincerely join our wishes with those of the author, that it may contribute to revive and promote the cause of religion, with which the interests of virtue and morality are essentially connected.' In 1771, Mr. Orton published "Discourses to the Aged;" the subjects of which were admirably adapted to the situation of the persons for whom they were intended, and concerning which, it was justly observed, that they breathe an excellent spirit, and shew an earnest desire in the writer to advance the interests of genuine piety and practical religion. Our author's next publication, which appeared in 1774, was entitled "Christian Zeal; or, Three Discourses on the Importance of seeking the Things of Christ, more than our own."
At a time when many valuable Treatises had been published in defence of Toleration and Liberty, he thought there was great room to complain of the want of zeal for the support and advancement of real practical religion, and for the good of souls. To revive, therefore, this zeal, was the object of the Discourses in question. In 1775, Mr. Orton committed to the press three further Discourses, under the title of "Christian Worship." The subjects treated of in this piece, which has been translated into Welsh, are the profitable hearing of the word; the joining in publick prayer; and the singing of the praises of God. Two volumes of "Discourses on Practical Subjects" were the production of the next year. The Sermons are thirty six in number, and testify in the strongest manner, the ardent solicitude with which the author endeavoured to inspire mankind with the principles of piety and virtue. Mr. Orton's last publication, which appeared in 1777, was entitled, "Sacramental Meditations; or Devout Reflections on various Passages of Scripture, designed to assist Christians in their Attendance on the Lord's Supper, and their Improvement of it." These meditations which are fifty in number, are all founded on different texts of the Sacred Writings, and are, what the author himself used in the administration of the sacrament, according to the method observed among Dissenters from the Church of England. 'The reader,' say the Monthly Reviewers, will not find in this work any rapturous flights, or wild chimeras: he will meet with nothing but what is rational and pious, tending to form the heart to the love of God, and to the practice of what is excellent and praiseworthy.'
Several eminent divines of the establishment expressed their high approbation of the "Sacramental Meditations." 'I think,' said the Rev. Mr. Hunter, vicar of Waverham, in Cheshire, and the author of several ingenious publications, ' I never read a book better calculated for the purpose of spiritual improvement. The shortness of the sections, the plainness of the style, the clearness of the method, render it peculiarly fit for the reading and attention of the uninstructed in low, and the indolent in high life: whilst a flow of piety, an apt and happy application of Scripture, an experimental sense of religion, and a profound knowledge of the divine life, and of the deep things, of God, must recommend it to the perusal and approbation of those who have made the greatest progress in goodness.' Dr. Tucker, dean of Gloucester, wrote as follows to a friend: "Pray thank Mr. Orton for his book in my name. I am charmed, and I hope edified too with it; which I make my constant companion. As I read, I am delighted to find the great Divine, and the able Controversialist, concealing himself under the better character of the pious and humble Christian, and avoiding all the parade of human learning. A man who was less a scholar, and less a Christian, would have stuffed his book with a thousand quotations.'
We shall add the important testimony of Dr. Adams, master of Pembroke college, Oxford, which he gave in a letter to Mr. Orton. "The design," says the Doctor, "of your book, was quite new to me, and is, I think, happily executed. In our large communions (such as I have often seen at St. Chad's,) it is the very book I should wish in every one's hands. You have, perhaps, done more good of the best sort, under the necessity of retirement, than you could have done in better health, which universally brings dissipation along with it. This is a consolation of the highest and noblest kind, which I am persuaded you have a right to, and I hope God will in your weakest hours, enable you to take to yourself."
Besides the several publications, all of which appeared with his name, Mr. Orton, in 1770, was the author of two anonymous tracts, entitled "Diotrephes admonished," and " Diotrephes re-admonished." They were written in defence of his excellent friend, Dr. Adams, at that time vicar of St. Chad's, Shrewsbury, who had been violently attacked by some of the high-flown Calvinistical Methodists, and especially by the writer [Sir Richard Hill, Bart.] of a piece, which made a considerable noise in its day, called "Pietas Oxoniensis." Mr. Orton's two pamphlets reflected great credit on his understanding and affections, being written with much knowledge, and in the spirit of Christian candour. With the most ardent zeal in the vindication of his friend, he appears to have steered something of a middle way between Dr. Adams and his antagonists, respecting certain theological niceties and distinctions. The controversy, he hoped, might do good, by exciting a disposition to enquire into the contents of the Gospel, and by leading many to read and think on religious subjects, who otherwise would not probably have done it. Nor was his expectation disappointed: for he had the pleasure of hearing that his tracts had been serviceable in this view, especially in Shropshire; and that they were much valued by many respectable Clergymen, particularly those of evangelical principles.
There is one small publication by Mr. Orton, which, from not having known it, we have omitted to mention in its proper place. It was the earliest piece printed by him, having first appeared in 1749, and we apprehend without his name. The title of it is, "A Summary of Doctrinal and Practical Religion, by way of Question and Answer; with an Introduction, shewing the Importance and Advantage of a Religious Education." So well has this tract been received, that it has gone through several editions.
As we are speaking of Mr. Orton's writings, we shall here finish our account of them, by taking notice of his posthumous works. In the course of his ministerial service, he delivered a short and plain exposition of the Old Testament, with devotional and practical reflections; which exposition and reflections were published, from the author's manuscripts, for the use of families, by the Rev. Robert Gentleman, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, in six large volumes, octavo. The first volume appeared in 1788, and the last in 1791. This work has met with a very favourable reception from the pious world, and is calculated for general utility. Of the notes it cannot be said that they are eminently critical; but they often convey valuable instruction; and the reflections are admirably adapted to promote the purposes of serious religion.
The last production of Mr. Orton that has been given to the publick, is, "Letters to a young Clergyman," 12mo. 1791. Mr. Stedman, to whom the letters were written, is the editor, and he has performed an acceptable service in committing them to the press. The advice contained in them is, in general, excellently fitted for the direction and improvement of the younger Clergy of every denomination. We cannot help taking notice of a few detached passages. In the fourth letter he thus, expresses himself:
"I know not what to say about extemporary preaching. It may on some accounts be desirable and useful: but I dare not encourage it in young Divines. I never knew an instance of it, but the preacher was careless in his studies, slovenly and incorrect in his discourses; and losing the habit of accurate composition, could never recover it afterwards. Yet I would by no means desire you to confine yourself entirely to your notes. When a thought strikes you, or something in your sermon seems to strike your hearers, you may add a few sentences, as you find matter arising in your mind. And if you are thoroughly master of your subject, and have a good deal of your sermon, especially the application of it, committed to memory, thus much will be easy, and you will not hesitate and appear at a loss. But suppose you preach at your new church, Sermons which you have delivered at Little Cheverel half a year ago; not exactly as written, but commit the substance, every leading thought, and the texts which you have introduced into them, to memory, and then enlarge pro re nata. Or, you may compose and write out one new sermon every week, and let it be preached at your churches alternately; and then, on the other part of the day, have at the other church your plan, texts, and leading thoughts, only written down, and discourse to your people from them: so that each place will have a compleat and a kind of extemporary discourse alternately. But then, if you do this as it ought to be done, it will very little lessen your labour: for it will require as much pains in studying your plan, texts, and subordinate thoughts, and putting them downs as in writing a sermon at large. But let me caution you, never to venture without a finished discourse in your pocket, lest any indisposition of your own, or circumstance relating to the congregation, should disqualify you for ready conception and utterance. I have known so many Ministers become injudicious and unacceptable by a careless habit of composing, or rather of not composing at all, in their younger days, and in small country places, that I make these concessions, guarded as they are, with fear. The other extreme is best for a young divine to err in. Besides, there is no way by which you will so speedily and effectually increase your fund of theological knowledge, as by accurate composures. Thus you will study your subject carefully, viewing and examining it on every side; consulting all the commentators you may have upon your text and parallel places, and reading what other divines (whose writings you may be possessed of) have said upon the subject. So that were you to read nothing for a whole week but what you would read in this method (except History, Classicks, &c. by way of relaxation,) I shall commend your diligence, and say, you had kept the good maxims Hoc age.
In the ninth letter, we have the following morcel of literary history.
"I am now reading the works of Mr. William Perkins, an eminent tutor and divine at Cambridge, in Queen Elizabeth's reign. They are three volumes in folio, and I have got through one of them. What leads me more particularly to read him is, that his elder brother was one of my ancestors, from whom I am in a direct line, by my mother's side, descended.
I think him an excellent writer: his style is the best of any of that age, or the next, and many passages in his writings are equal to those of the best writers in modern times. He is judicious, clear, full of matter, and deep Christian experience. He wrote all his works with his left hand, being lame of his right, and died about forty- four. I could wish all ministers, especially young ones, would read him, as they would find large materials for composition. He hath some tracts against the Papists and appears to have been a pretty high Calviniet, but he hath many admirable things in practical divinity. His works are little known in Elgland, but they are still in estimation in Germany, many of them being written in elegant Latin, and others translated into German.'
The twelfth letter contains some admirable remarks on religious conversions.
Whether, I have been the instrument of much good I know not. I have not seen those good effects of my ministry, which some ministers have had. There were few, if any, of my congregation, who were profligate and abandoned; and whose conversion, when that happens, is very remarkable, and engages much attention. I hope many aged persons have been edified by my services, and not a few young people trained in sentiments of wisdom and piety, who are now useful in their families and stations, and ornaments to religion. Indeed, I lay very little stress upon what some divines call Conversions; I have seen so many instances of their coming to nothing; or, that their converts have only been converted from the. sins of men to the sins of devils, from drunkenness and debauchery to spiritual pride, bitterness, and uncharitableness; and this I cannot call a saving change. I see little alteration for the better in the conduct of many, who have been said to be converted. I am cautious of calling any thing by that name, where there is not a regular, consistent conduct following it. Hasty impressions, which some adulators are very ready to observe and admire, are often lost in a little time, and those who have been under them become worse than they were before. I have no idea of conversion, as passing a certain line, and then getting into a saving state. Conversion is a work of time, and I see no right we have to say any are converted or became good, till one hath a longer season of trial to observe whether they continue stedfast in the practice of righteousness, and act in every circumstance and relation, in the main, consistently with the demands of the Gospel. I wish you may have the pleasure to see many such converts."
We shall content ourselves with only referring to the fourteenth letter for some excellent observations on economy.
Besides Mr. Orton's publications of Dr. Doddridge's hymns, and of the three last volumes of the Family Expositor, he printed, in 1764, na ew edition of the life and death of the Rev. Philip Henry, and prefixed to it an address to the descendants of that eminently pious and worthy divine. Of religious biography our author was particularly fond, and he was a great admirer of the two Henrys, Philip and Matthew. Mr. Matthew Henry's exposition was read by Mr. Orton in his family, and he had a most happy faculty, whilst he was doing it, of abridging that diffuse writer. He had been solicited, during his retirement, to form a regular abridgment of Henry's expositions; but his increasing infirmities obliged him to decline the employment.
The nature of Mr. Orton's writings was such as to render them acceptable to serious persons, of different denominations.
Dr. Tucker highly approved of them, and said that his sermons were the sermons to do good. Indeed, the Dean had such a great respect for the judgment of Mr. Orton, that he submitted some of his own works to his correction. Dr. Adams read Mr. Orton's sermons in his family at Oxford. It is still more remarkable, that our author's extemporary prayers were exceedingly admired by clergymen of the Church of England, who must, in general, be supposed to give a decided preference to precomposed forms. The Rev. Dr. Stonehouse, rector of Great and Little Cheverel, Wiltshire, being at Mr. Orton's house, and joining in his family worship, was so struck with the propriety and pertinency of his prayer, that he thanked him for it, and told him, that it deserved to be written in letters of gold. "I have often," says Mr. Stedman, " learnt my duty from his prayers." We may observe by the way, that a close friendship subsisted between Dr. Stonehouse and Mr. Orton; and that the latter wrote an excellent letter to the other, on the death of a daughter. It was printed for private use, under the title of "A Letter from a minister to one in Affliction."
After the publication of the "Sacramental Meditations," in 1777, Mr. Orton's bad state of health no longer permitted him to instruct and edify the world from the press. But he still continued to be useful by his pious example, his affectionate exhortations, and his correspondance with his intimate friends. In 1781, he made a present to the library belonging to the schools of Shrewsbury, of Dr. Kennicott's Hebrew Bible, superbly bound. It was accompanied with the following inscription:
Ut In hoc municipio, Dilecto natalium loco, Quo Proavi et pareutes honeste et sancte vixerunt, Quo Caetus Dissentientium Protestantium pastor constitutus, ministerio sacro Aunos XXVI. ipse functus est; Ut In his scholis, Quibus et linguarum cognitionem Studio decennali hausit, Amoris et benevolentiat Pignus aliquod idoueum extaret; Hoc opus eximium, honori S.S.S. dicatum, Illustrissimi Ben. Kennicott, S.T.P. Bibliothecae donavit Job Orton, S.T.P. Et civis Salopiensis, A.D. M,DCC,LXXXI.
Mr. Orton had before this made some valuable presents of books to the same library. As in the inscription now given, he is styled S.T.P. it is proper to take notice, that the degree of Doctor in Divinity had been conferred upon him many years previously to his decease, but he would never permit himself to be addressed by that title, or prefix it to any of his writings.
In the spring of the year 1783, Mr. Orton's Complaints multiplied so fast upon him, that there was no prospect of his continuing much longer in life. Mr. Orton departed this life at Kidderminster, on the nineteenth of July 1783, and in the sixty-sixth year of his age. On the twenty-fifth of the same month, agreeably to his own request, he was buried in Mr. Bryan's grave, in the chancel of St. Chad's Church, Shrewsbury. Mr. Bryan had been formerly Vicar of St. Chad's, but had been ejected from his living in 1662. On the removal of the grave- stone from under the altar-steps the following inscription was discovered:-
Parce Cineribus D. Johannis Bryan, A.M. Olim pastoris hujus Ecclesiae, cum aliis ejecti, Aug. 24, 1562. Qui varios passus fortiter tulit, inculpate vixit, Deoq. inservivit Usque ad senectutem, non otiose peractam, Licet infirmitatibus gravatam. Paucis diebus Morte abreptus. In Christo exultans, Placide transmigravit ad vitam meliorem, Aug. 31. 1669. Filius ejus unicus superstes In memoriam Dignissimi parentis P.M.
At the bottom in Hebrew characters, "The memory of the just is blessed."
Near the same place, a neat Monument has been erected to Mr. Orton's memory.
With regard to the notice to be taken of him after his decease, Mr. Orton left the subsequent directions in his will. 'I desire Messrs. Fownes and Lucas would preach the following sabbath to their respective congregations, or to each other's, from, 1 Tim. 1, 11, 12. But I desire they would say nothing of me, but exhibit the glory of the Gospel, and the honour of the Christian ministry. Only let them assure my former hearers, that serving them in all their interests, especially their best, was the delightful business of my life; that all my time and studies were directed that way; and that if they retain any gratitude and respect to me, they would shew it by their holy conversations and by esteeming their present pastors highly in love for their work's sake; by their wise and faithfull improvement of their labours; and by their candour and love one to another.' Mr. Fownes's Sermon was published.
Our author's talents as a preacher have been thus delineated by Mr. Fownes: ' Mr. Orton was master of a great variety of styles, and I have frequently heard him in the course of his publick services, adopt them all with success. But the general character of his preaching was rather of a practical, serious, and affectionate turn than distinguished by laboured and long continued trains of reasoning. The didactick manner, like that of a parent addressing his children, or an instructor his pupils, was that which seemed most adapted to his taste and inclinations and though he acquitted himself with general acceptance in all the methods in which he addressed his hearers, it was in that he chiefly excelled.'
The following interesting testimony to the memory and worth of Mr. Orton, came from the hand of his friend and physician Dr. Johnstone, in a letter to Mr. Stedman.
Feb. 26, 1786. " Dear Sir,
"Lord Bacon reckons it a great deficiency in Biography, that it is for the most part confined to the actions of Kings and Princes, and a few persons of high rank; while the memory of men distinguished for worth and goodness in the lower ranks of life has been preserved only by tradition.- I rejoice therefore, that you have undertaken to collect memoirs of the late Mr. Job Orton, one of those excellent persons, who was as industrious in concealing that worth which was so conspicuous to all who knew him, as he was earnest and skilful in applying it to the best and most benevolent purposes.- Indeed my friend, we shall not see his like again: we shall not see knowledge so extensive joined with such humility, such wisdom and discernment of the human character and of human life, so determinately employed in doing good to all around him and to diffuse happiness to the large circle of human society. He truly had the wisdom of the serpent and the innocence of the dove. Of the seventeen years which he passed in Kidderminster, I spent most usefully and happily daily many hours in his company: his counsel always skilful, was faithful and benevolent. I felt the advantage of it, and regret the inseparable loss I have sustained: I do not remember I ever spent ten minutes in his company, without being witness to some benevolent design or some benevolent action. He comforted and advised the opulent, he visited the widow and the fatherless, the sick, the poor and the needy, in their affliction. He applied his fortune in relieving their wants; and a mind, still more rich in resources than his fortune was in abundances in contrivances, as well as incitements to others, to administer relief. To such as needed, he gave with that generous address, and that exquisite skill, in which I think he surpassed most persons I have ever known. I repeat it, I never was in his company without perceiving he was carrying on some useful design, either of a publick or a private nature: doing good himself and impelling others to concur with him in executing some charitable work, or some plan to relieve indigence, to alleviate pain, to inform ignorance, to check and reform vice. In arbitrating and settling differences, which had any where taken place among his friends or acquaintance be possessed great influence, and shewed always great address, and gave satisfaction by his interference. He possessed a happy manner of engaging the affections and confidence of young persons, and he gave them advice in such a manner as had generally a happy influence in forming their character to habits of virtue and religion. His ability and zeal as a minister I do not presume to mention: his worth as a man, his sincerity as a christian, need no such feeble testimony as mine. It is indeed an injury to so high a character to offer any testimony. But I cannot forbear calling to your recollection, that though he was zealous as a Christian, yet he possessed no warmth of zeal to any thing but real religion. A Protestant Dissenter he was upon principle, but entertained the most liheral communication with many individuals belonging to the establishment, distinguished like himself by worth and talents; and had the most generous and charitable sentiments, concerning parties and persons of different societies and persuasions in religion, in every part of Europe.
"I need not inform you, that a bad state of health brought him to Kidderminister; and that I had the honour of being confided in, as his physician. His complaints were of the nervous and melancholick kind: they often interrupted his ease and his usefulness; but were prevented from confining him entirely to the house till the month of June, 1783. He had often complained of failure of memory; but yet in particular instances, very constantly gave proofs of his possessing it with unusual accuracy and extent. At length, however, the defect which he perceived appeared to others, now and then in expressing an improper word, and in making a pause before he pronounced the intended one. He complained of pain and a growing confusion in his head. About a week before his death, that confusion became apparent and complete. He knew every person, but could not express what he intended. In three or four days more he became lethargick, and died apoplectick the 19th July, 1783, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.- Thus lived, and thus died this servant of God- this good man- dear to and revered by all- this counsellor and friend, whose loss we must ever deplore. But my friend, let us no longer view our losses. How singular was our advantage! He was our counsellor and comforter while alive: his memory ever dear to us, and present with us will still sustain and protect us. If at any time malediction shall persecute us living or dead- it will be replied- " No- this cannot be true, the honestest and worthiest of men was their friend.- " In books of piety, and in the lives of pious men, we see the effects which religion ought to have; those who knew Mr. Orton saw the influence it had, saw its spirits and precepts exemplified in his temper and conduct.
" Were it necessary,' says Mr. Stedman, 'to add to the above it would be easy to produce the testimonies of a Kennicott, an Adams, a Tucker, with several others, given by eminent men, both of the Establishment, and among the dissenters: for to use the language of the Apostle, He had a good report of all men, and of the truth itself."
' Dum memor ipse mei, dum Spritus hos reget artus, Semper Honos, Nomenque tuum, Laudesque manebunt.' VIRGIL.
The same gentleman, who rejoices in every opportunity of gratefully and affectionately connecting his name with that of his friend, has, in other places, said, 'It affords me pleasure to think that I have his sacred remains deposited in my church, that ere long I shall mingle my dust with his, arise with him, and, I hope, be happy together.'
'Sic mihi contingat vivere, sicque mori.'
Mr. Orton, who so long resided at Kidderminster, the principal seat of Mr. Baxter's ministerial usefulness, had a considerable resemblance, in certain respects, to that famous divine. In extent of abilities, Baxter was undoubtedly greatly superior to Mr. Orton, and he prodigiously exceeded him in the multiplicity of his writings: but with regard to the nature of their practical works, and the strictness, we had almost said the rigidness, of their personal piety, there was no small degree of similarity. Both of them display in their productions, the same ardent zeal to excite the attention of men to their eternal concerns, and urge these concerns with peculiar energy and pathos. Both of them were animated with a seriousness of spirit, which seems never to have forsaken them in the most ordinary occurrences of life: nor could either of them bear to be much interrupted in their sacred employments. When some visitors to Mr. Baxter, after having sat a while with him, said, ' We are afraid, Sir, that we break in upon your time;' his answer was, ' To be sure you do.' What was Mr. Orton's disposition in this respect, is expressed with great vivacity in one of his letters to Mr. Stedman: The passage shall conclude the present article. ' I am glad I have no visitors like Mr. **, no such Bath friends;- I would not have them:- They are not friends; I would not submit to such grievances and inconveniences, nor should my wife, (if I had such an one as his.) What must we do ? they wilt say.- Why break off all correspondence with such. Tell them (as I did at Shrewsbury, and do here,) " I am old and infirm; I will have my own hours. At them- I shall be glad to see my friends, but they must come soon, and go soon, or not at all." "But we can't do this at ***." Then I would remove to the Land's End, or to a Welsh mountain, and would not sacrifice such blessings as health, regularity, domestick comfort, and family religion, for any person or persons whatsoever. I am independent, and will be so. I have little company and acquaintance. Ease and quiet, and an interview now and then with a worthy friend, bound my ambition. But I have a numerous and excellent society of prophets, apostles, and practical writers, especially Baxter, Bates, and Scudder, with whom I have been conversing."
CHARLES BURNEY, an eminent musician was born at Shrewsbury in 1726, and was educated at the free grammar school in that place. He afterwards became the pupil of Mr. Baker, the organist of Chester cathedral. In 1741 he returned to Shrewsbury, and from thence, in 1744, went to London, and was chosen organist of St. Dionis, Backchurch. He afterwards resided nine years at Lynn. Returning to the metropolis, he obtained in 1769 the honorary degree of doctor in musick, at Oxford. The year following he travelled through France and Italy, of which tour he published an interesting account in 1771. The next year he travelled through the Netherlands, Germany, and Holland. Of this journey he published an account in two volumes.
The first volume of his history of Musick appeared in 1776, and the remaining four volumes came out at different intervals, the last being published in 1789. The most important work which proceeded from the pen of Dr. Burney was a history of the musical festival, in commemoration of Handel, in 1758, 4to. In 1796, he published the life of Metastasio, in three volumes, octavo. Besides these productions, he wrote " The cunning Man." "An Essay towards the history of Comets." The "Plan of a musical school," and "An account of Little Crotch, the infant Musician."
Dr. Barney resided for some time in the house that had been occupied by Sir Isaac Newton, near Leicester square, but, on being appointed organist of Chelsea college, he removed thither, and died in May, 1814.
He had a numerous family, among whom were, 1. James Barney, a Captain in the navy, and the companion of Cook. This gentleman published some valuable works. 2. Charles Barney, an eminent scholar and divine, who died in December, 1817, and whose library was purchased by parliament, and presented to the British Museum. 3. Frances, who married a French officer named D'Arblay. She is known by Eveline, Cecilia, Camilla, and the Wanderer. 4. Sarah Harriet, the author of some novels of merit.
Dr. SNEYD DAVIES was born at Shrewsbury, and was educated at Eton, from whence he removed to King's college, Cambridge, where he proceeded D.D. in 1759. Dr. Cornwallis, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, gave him a canonry in his cathedral, and presented him to the mastership of St. John's hospital at Lichfield. He was also archdeacon of Derby, and rector of Kingsland, in Herefordshire. Dr. Davis wrote several ingenious poems in Dodsley's and Nichols's collections.
Dr. JOHN THOMAS, Bishop of Salisbury, was a native of Shrewsbury. Of this Prelate some curious particulars are recorded by Bishop Newton. 'There were,' says that writer, in his own life, ' at that time two Dr. Thomas's who were not easily distinguished; for somebody was speaking of Dr. Thomas; it was asked which Dr. Thomas do you mean? Dr. John Thomas,- They are both named John. Dr. Thomas who has a living in the city.- They have both livings in the city. Dr. Thomas who is Chaplain to the King.- They are both Chaplains to the King. Dr. Thomas who is a very good preacher.- They are both very good preachers. Dr. Thomas who squints.- They both squint.' They were afterwards both Bishops. Dr. Thomas was Chaplain to the English factory at Hamburgh, and was accustomed to go from thence to wait upon George II. at Hanover, on that King's frequent visits to his electoral dominions. After some time the King asked him whether, if he could obtain some preferment from the crown, he would not gladly leave Hamburgh to settle in England? He replied, that his Majesty's father had made him the like gracious offer, and he had declined it, because there were many eminent merchants with whom he lived much at his ease, and who were very kind and liberal to him: but now the case was altered, a new race was springing up, and he should think himself very happy under his Majesty's patronage and protection. He was desired to mention the preferment that would be most agreeable to him, and he pointed out one of the royal prebends. [The twelve prebends of Canterbury, the four residentiary canonries of St. Paul's, the ten prebends of Worcester, the twelve of Westminster, the twelve of Windsor, and the eight canonries of the cathedral of Oxford, being immediately in the King's gift, are called ROYAL prebends.] His Majesty intimated that it was not in his power to " get him any such thing because his ministers laid their hands upon them all as necessary for his service,' but he proposed to make him his Chaplain and to give him a living, and promised the next time he came to Hanover to take him over as his Chaplain "and then," said the King, " if a Deanery or Prebend should fall, you will have a good chance of it."- Dr. Thomas, agreeably to this plan, returned to England, had the the living of St. Vedast, Foster-lane, was appointed one of the King's Chaplains, and in the spring ensuing, when the King was making preparations for Hanover, he sent word privately to the Doctor to prepare himself, and to have every thing in readiness to put on board by a particular day. The minister having been informed of the King's order, assured Dr. Thomas that he could not go, as another person had been fixed upon for that appointment long before. Dr. Thomas answered, that he had received his Majesty's express command, and should certainly obey it: he accordingly attended the King, and not the clergyman who had been nominated by the minister. It happened that during the summer the Deanery of Peterborough became vacant, and Dr. Thomas kissed the King's hand for it; at the same time the Duke of Newcastle wrote to him from England that he had engaged that Deanery, and if the Doctor would waive his term, he would certainly procure for him a better. Dr. Thomas wrote in answer that, as the King had been graciously pleased to give him the Deanery, he could not with any decency decline his Majesty's royal favour, but his Grace might vacate it by giving him a better thing as soon as ever he pleased. In 1748, he was nominatad to the see of St. Asaph, but before consecration, removed to Lincoln in 1744 and; and was translated to Salisbury in 1761. He is buried in the cathedral of Salisbury, in which there is a monument to him. He was a very pleasant, facetious, man, but had the misfortune of being deaf. Dr. Thomas was of Cambridge, and always attended the Duke of Newcastle in his visits to that university where he was remarkable for his good sayings. He was concerned in writing the celebrated periodical paper, called the Patriot, when at Hamburgh, being very well versed in the German language."
Hugh FARMER, a learned divine among the Protestant Dissenters, was born in the year 1714. The place of his birth was a village near Shrewsbury, where his parents resided, and where they lived in much esteem, being persons of distinguished piety and virtue. His descent was from very respectable and religious ancestors in North Wales. The Reverend Hugh Owen, of Bronyclydwr, in Merionethshire, an eminent character among the ejected ministers of the principality, and of whom an honourable account is given by Dr. Calamy, was our author's grandfather. Mr. Farmer being early designed for the Christian Ministry, received the first part of his grammer learning in a school, at that time of considerable reputation, Llanegrin, near Towyn, Merionethshire, and which had been founded by two of his progenitors. From this place be was sent to perfect his classical education under the tuition of Dr. Owen, of Warrington. It was, we apprehend, in 1730, that Mr. Farmer began his academical studies at Northampton, under the care of Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Philip Doddridge. He was one of the Doctor's earliest pupils, and we need not say that he must have rendered himself conspicuous by his abilities, application and improvements. Dr. Doddridge was sensible of the honour he was likely to derive, from such a student; though he did not live live to see the eminence which he attained in the literary world, always spoke of him in terms of high respect. After Mr. Farmer had finished his academical course he became Chaplain to Walliam Coward, Esq., of Waltham-stowe, Essex, and preacher in a meeting house which had been lately erected by that gentleman whose name is of great note among the Dissenters, on account of the large bequests which he made for the education of young men for the ministry, and for other beneficent purposes. Mr. Coward was remarkable for the peculiarities and oddities of his temper; and in this respect many pleasant stories are related concerning him.
Amongst his other whimsies, his house was shut up at an uncommonly early hour, we believe at six in the winter, and seven in the summer; and whoever, whether a visitant or a stated resident, trespassed upon the time, was denied admission. Mr. Farmer having one evening been somewhat too late, was of course excluded. In this exigence he had recourse to a neighbouring family, and it was one of the most fortunate circumstances of his life. The house in which he took refuge was that of William Snell, Esq., a Solicitor of the highest reputation for his abilities and integrity: and of whom no greater encomium needs to be given, but that he lived in habits of intimacy with the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, Sir John Strange, and others of the first eminence, in that day, both at the bar and on the bench. In this worthy family Mr. Farmer continued more than thirty years, during the lives of Mr. and Mrs Snell, by whom he was treated more like an equal than an inferior. Here he enjoyed a long series of peaceful leisure, which he employed in collecting a large fund of sacred and profane literature, intended to be produced in the defence and illustration of natural and revealed Religion. At the same time, he was peculiarly diligent and peculiarly acceptable as a preacher. His congregation, which, when he accepted the pastoral charge was very small, gradually increased in number and in character; so that it became one of the must wealthy dissenting societies in or near the City of London, and was sometimes attended by between thirty and forty coaches.
Mr. Farmer's first appearance as an author was in a discourse on the suppression of the rebellion of 1745. It was preached on the day of publick thanksgiving appointed upon that occasion in 1746, and printed in the same. year. This was the only sermon that he ever committed to the press. His abilities, though they might have been eminently displayed in that way, led him to higher exertions in literature. In 1761, he published "An Enquiry into the Nature and Design of Christ's Temptation in the Wilderness;" the general intention of which is to shew, that this part of the evangelical history is not only to be understood as a recital of visionary representations, but that the whole was a divine vision, premonitory of the labours and offices of our Lord's future ministry. An interpretation so new and singular could not pass unnoticed. In 1762, there appeared a pamphlet against the Enquiry entitled, " Christ's Temptations, real Facts: or, a Defence of the Evangelick History; showing that our Lord's Temptations may be fairly and reasonably understood as a Narrative of what was really transacted." By the criticks this performance was characterized as abounding more in learning than in judgment. A second edition of Mr. Farmer's treatise was soon called for; in which the subject received additional illustration from a considerable number of new notes.
Besides this, our author published, in 1764, an appendix to the "Enquiry," containing some farther observations on the point in debate, and an answer to objections. Another tract, the publication of which was occasioned by the "Enquiry," was entitled, " The Sovereignty of the Divine Administration vindicated, or a rational Account of our Blessed Saviour's remarkable temptation in the Wilderness; the This was a posthumous piece, which had been written before Mr. Farmer's work appeared, by Mr. Dixon, who had been a Dissenting Minister. first at Norwich, and afterwards at Bolton, in Lancashire. Mr. Dixon proposes a figurative or allegorical interpretation of our Lord's temptation, His opinion is that the devil was not at all concerned in it; but that such thoughts arose in the mind of our Saviour as would naturally have arisen in the mind of any person in the same or like circumstances with those in which Christ then was. The Editor, Mr. Seddon of Warrington, thinks that Mr. Dixon's notion of an allegorical representation of real temptation is preferable to an entire visionary scene and asks, ' is it not more honourable to our Lord and more exemplary?' A third edition of Mr. Farmer's "Enquiry" was published in 1776. This impression contains large additions, more especially in the third section. What our author has principally in view is to confirm, by new arguments, his explication of "Christ's
being broughtinto a Wilderness by or in the Spirit."
The "Enquiry" was only a prelude to the more important designs which Mr. Farmer had in view. 1717, he published "A Dissertation on Miracles, designed to shew that they are Arguments of a divine Inerposition, and absolute proffs of the Mission and Doctrine of a Prophet," octavo.
Not long after the appearance of the "Dissertations" a notion was propogated that Mr. Farmer had made considerable use of a tract of Le Moine's on the same subject withoiut acknowledging it; and it was asserted that his book had the very same view with Mr. Le Moine's and was a copy of his work. Mr. Farmer thought proper therefore to vindicate himself in a pamphlet published in 1772 and entitled "An Examination of the late Rev. Mr. Le Moine's Treatise on Miracles;" in which he enters into a particular discussion of Le Moine's performance in order to shew how much it is in fact different from and even contradictory to his own. This he did with great accuracy and success so as entirely to clear himself from the aspersion which had been cast upon him. Our author did not, however, confine himself to the point of vindicating his reputation from an injurious charge, but took occasion still farther to confirm and illustrate the sentiment advanced in his dissertation. With respect to the ancient magick in particular, he added a number of important remarks. As to Le Moine, "if you chuse to ask me," says Mr. Farmer, at the conclusion of the pamphlet, "Are you indebted to him ? I answer that, from what hath been offered to show that our views of the subject are distinct and opposite, it appears, how impossible it is that I should be materially indebted to this author. Nor have I any remembrance that I am indebted to him at all. My sentiments upon miracles were formed, and many of my papers on the subject were submitted to the inspection of a friend, before the publication of Mr. Le Moine's treatise. I read it when it first came out, but do not remember that I ever reviewed it afterwards. I am certain, I did not consult it when I prepared my papers for the press; which being originally designed for my own satisfaction, had lain by me untouched for many years. I could be under little temptation to review an author, whose peculiar sentiments I do universally and entirely disapprove." The truth of these assertions could not be denied by those who had diligently compared the two treatises in question together. But notwithstanding so clear and full a vindication, the calumny continued to be repeated. The charge against Mr. Farmer, of having borrowed from Le Moine, was, in particular, urged again and again, with great violence, in the London Magazine of that time. Indeed, in that Magazine, he was incessantly pursued for the space of fourteen months. It was not, however, against Mr. Farmer alone that the repeated attacks of the anonymous critick were directed. They were aimed also at the Monthly Review, by an angry author, the rise and progress of whose resentment, if related, would form no unpleasant narration.
In 1775, Mr. Farmer gave to the world another work. This was "An Essay on the Demoniacks of the New Testament;" concerning which (independently of the question whether his Hypothesis be well founded or not) it may be truly asserted, that it is written with great perspicuity of method and language, and is replete with excellent learning, good sense, and masterly criticism. Mr. Farmer's opinion concerning the Demoniacks, though far from being novel, was too remote from the general apprehensions of the Christian world to give universal satisfaction. Accordingly, it was soon attacked by Dr. Worthington, a respectable and learned clergyman, who had already favoured the publick with some pious and valuable writings. His answer to Mr. Farmer was entitled "An impartial Inquiry into the Case of the Gospel Demoniacks. With an Appendix, consisting of an Essay on Scripture Demonology, 1777." It is to be lamented that the good Doctor did not preserve his temper in the controversy: nor did he, perhaps, altogether sustain the reputation which he had acquired by his former productions. There were some things advanced in this work, which, in Mr. Farmer's opinion, deserved to be considered; and he thought that certain parts of the subject were capable of farther and fuller illustration. He printed, therefore, in 1778, "Letters to the Rev. Dr. Worthington, in answer to his late publication, intitled, " An impartial Enquiry Into the Case of the Gospel Demoniacks." These letters contain much more additional matter than could have been expected upon a subject which the author had before so amply considered; and exhibit a perspicuous and judicious epitome of what had already been advanced in the course of the controversy. Another of Mr. Farmer's antagonists was the Rev. Mr. Fell, a dissenting Minister, at that time of Thaxted, in Essex, and one of the tutors of the independent academy at Homerton, Hackney. This gentleman published, in 1779, a treatise, entitled, "Demoniacks. An Enquiry into the Heathen and the Scripture Doctrine of Demons: in which the Hypotheses of the Rev. Mr. Farmer, and others, on this subject, are particularly considered." Mr. Fell cannot be denied the praise of ability, acuteness, and learning; but the spirit in which his book is written does not merit equal commendation.
Mr. Farmer's last work appeared in 1783, and was entitled "The general Prevalence of the Worship of Human Spirits in the ancient Heathen Nations asserted and proved." This work reflects great honour upon the author's abilities and learning; but not, being of so interesting a nature to many readers as his former publications, it did not meet with that rapid sale which he expected. There are in it a number of notes referring to Mr. Fell, and which shew Mr. Farmer's sensibility to the attack that had been made upon him by that writer. Mr. Fell was not backward in his own vindication. This appeared in 1786, in a publication entitled, "The idolatry of Greece and Rome distinguished from that of other Heathen Nations: in a letter to the Rev. Hugh Farmer." At the same time that in this tract ample retaliation is made upon Mr. Farmer for his personal severities, it appears to contain many things, which, if he had continued to publish on the subject, would have been found deserving of consideration and reply.
As a Minister Mr. Farmer was singularly successful, and he received every mark of honour from the Dissenters which it was in their power to bestow. For a great number of years he preached twice a day at Walthamstow: but a very ingenious and able associate being, at length, provided for him at that place, he acceded after a short interval, to a proposal that was made to him, of becoming afternoon preacher to the congregation at Salters'-hall. This was in the year 1761. At Salters'- hall his labours were as acceptable as they were at Walthamstow; and indeed his addistory constituted the largest afternoon-society that existed amongst the Presbyterians in the City of London. Some time after this, he was chosen one of the Tuesday lecturers at Salters'-hall; a tribute of respect which is paid only to Ministers of considerable standing, in or near the metropolis.
Amidst Mr. Farmer's employments as a scholar, a preacher, and a pastor, he found leisure to engage in some matters of publick business among the Dissenters. He was a trustee of the Rev. Dr. Daniel Williams's various bequests; and he was, likewise, one of Mr. Coward's trustees; in which capacity he became a dispenser of the large charities that had been left by the gentleman with whom be had been connected in early life.
As Mr. Farmer advanced in years, be gradually remitted his employments as a divine, He resigned first, in 1772, the lectureship at Salters'-hall; after which, in 1780, he gave up the Tuesday lectureship of the same place. In his pastoral relation at Walthamstow he continued a few years longer, when he quitted the pulpit entirely. In these several cases his resignations were received with peculiar regret. After he had ceased to be a preacher, it was his general custom to spend part of the winter at Bath.
Early in 1785, Mr. Farmer was afflicted with an almost total failure of sight; a circumstance perhaps the more alarming, as his father had been wholly blind six years before his death. In this exigence it was necessary that our author should submit to a chirurgical operation, which he underwent with great readiness and fortitude; and by the happy skill; first of Baron Wenzel, and afterwards of his friend Mr. Wathen, his eyes were restored, and he was enabled to pursue his wonted course of study. Infirmities growing upon him, he departed this life on the sixth of February, 1787, in the seventy-third year of his age; and agreeably to the directions of his will, was buried in Walthamstow church yard, in the same grave with his honourable and beloved friends, Mr. and Mrs. Snell. On Sunday, the eighteenth, his funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Urwick, of Clapham, whose discourse was printed.
In his last will, besides providing handsomely for his relations, and remembering his servants, he left a hundred pounds for the widows of Dissenting Ministers, and forty pounds to the poor of Walthamstow parish. His regard to the family with which he had been so long connected, and to which he had been so peculiarly obliged, was testified by his bequeathing pecuniary legacies to every member of that family. Smaller legacies were left by him to others of his friends. His executors were William Snell, Esq., of Clapham, and William Hood, Esq., of Chancery-lane, Barrister; the first the son, and the second one of the grandsons, of Mr. Farmer's great patron. To another grandson, the Rev. Robert Jacomb, our author bequeathed his library, with the exception of such classical books as Mr. Snell might select; who also was a residuary legatee, in conjunction with his sister, Mrs. Hood.
There was one thing in Mr. Farmer's will which requires to be particularly noticed. He makes it his request, that his executors would burn his sermons and manuscripts, unless he should direct otherwise by a separate paper; and in case they should not do it, the legacies of a hundred pounds each, which he had left them, were to be null and void.
In an account of Mr. Farmer, his abilities as a preacher must not pass unnoticed. He was particularly excellent in the pulpit. It is observed by Mr. Urwick, that his discourses were peculiarly ornamented and enriched with criticisms for the explanation of different passages of scripture, or the farther illustration of others. ' These criticisms,' adds the same writer, 'were always manly; had evident importance in them; and, instead of being dry and tedious, they much enlivened his sermons.' Mr. Farmer is said to have had an admirable talent, without trimming, of pleasing persons of very different sentiments. When he was speaking of the doctrines of the Gospel, there was a swell in his language that looked as if he was rising to a greater degree of orthodoxy in expression than some persons might approve; but it never came to that point.' ' Through all his publick services,' says Mr. Urwick, ' there was a most happy variety of thought and expression, as well as a constant flow of lively and humble devotion.'
Mr. Farmer's discourses were much recommended by the mode in which they were delivered. His voice was clear, strong, flexible, and harmonious. His address was handsome, insinuating, and distinguished by its animation. ' Every one saw that he felt the sentiments which he uttered; and his attentive hearers happily experienced that be conveyed his own feelings to them.' When he had raised his voice to a certain pitch, he would happily drop it, in a manner that gave great variety to his elocution, and which had a powerful effect. In conversation be was lively and brilliant to an uncommon degree. Mr. Urwick observes, that in this respect he bore a strong resemblance to his tutor. 'They both possessed a strength of understanding that sustained the labour of close study and difficult investigation; and yet retained that liveliness and flexibility of mind, which rendered them highly entertaining in the most gay and exhilarating conversation, where the mirth was innocent.' To this account it may be added, that, like Dr. Doddridge, Mr. Farmer sometimes went far enough in his complimentary language to persons present. He was likewise, very backward in readily declaring his sentiments, when asked them, concerning particular topicks, living writers, or recent publications. Any question of this kind not unfrequently produced from him, what has been ascribed to the Quakers, another question in return. He had great sensibility of temper.
It was probably some feeling of his last work's not having met with the attention he expected, which dictated the order concerning the burning of his manuscripts. If the natural warmth of his spirit occasionally led him into any little impropriety of speech or behaviour, he was afterwards solicitous to make every proper concession, and was not easy till the offence was quite cleared away. In his regular deportment he was in the highest degree kind and obliging.
Dr. WILLIAM ADAMS, a most exemplary divine, was born at Shrewsbury, in 1707, and at the age of thirteen entered Pembroke college, Oxford, where he took his master's degree in 1727, and became fellow of the college.
In 1732 be became minister of St. Chad's, Shrewsbury, and in 1756, took his doctor's degree, and was at the same time presented to the rectory of Cound, in this county. In 1775, he was elected master of his college, on which occasion he resigned the vicarage of St. Chad, and was soon after made archdeacon of Landaff.
He died at Gloucester, of which cathedral he was prebendary, in 1789, aged 82.
Dr. Adams was one of the most intimate friends of Dr. Johnson, who held him in high esteem. Besides some occasional sermons, collected into one volume, octavo, he published an answer to Hume's Essay on Miracles, octavo, 1752. Dr. Adams was on terms of the most intimate friendship with the Rev. Job Orton. See his life p. 589.
The REV. RICHARD DE COURCY, B.A. was a native of Ireland, the descendant of an ancient and respectable family of that country, being distantly related to the family of the Earl of Kinsale. He became pious, his biographer informs us, in early life; and ' having learned, by experience, the worth of immortal souls, he conceived a strong desire to become instrumental in the salvation of sinners. With a view, therefore, to the sacred ministry, he entered himself at Trinity College, Dublin, where, by assiduity, and the exercise of those lively talents which be possessed, he soon acquired a considerable fund of useful knowledge.'
At the age of twenty-three, he received deacon's orders, in the cathedral church of Clonfert; and entered upon the work of the sanctuary with becoming diffidence, accompanied with earnest desires of divine assistance. In his Diary we find the following sentiments:- " O Lord; I cannot speak, for I am a babe ! I hang upon thee for every spiritual endowment. Thou knowest my wants; O supply them all out of thine inexhaustible fulness! and since I have ventured to put my hand to the gospel-plough, O that I may never turn back !"
At the commencement of his career, he met with a temptation, says his biographer, common to young ministers: "I have been tempted," says he, "strongly, to believe, that after I had preached a few sermons, my strength would be quite exhausted, and that I should preach no more:" but it appears, he soon obtained relief on this head; for he afterwards adds, "With regard to my fears of being exhausted after a few sermons, the Lord has given me satisfaction in that particular; for he has discovered to me the super-excellency of that wonderful book, the Bible, above all other books; not only for its purity, but also for the variety of its matter. I find it a mine replete with the richest treasures; and that the deeper I penetrate into it by faith and prayer, the greater riches are still discoverable. This book he shewed me, was to be the central point of all my divinity; and to be searched with unwearied diligence, if I meant to be a good householder, bringing out of my treasure things new and old."
It is said, that by some means or other, he gave offence to the Bishops of Ireland, and could not there obtain priest's orders. It is certain, however, that he came over to England in the summer of 1768, and immediately waited on the Rev. Geo. Whitfield, who was then in London, at the Tabernacle-House. From this period, an intimate friendship took place, which lasted till Mr. Whitfield's death. On the next day, which was Sunday, Mr. De Courcy preached at Tottenham Court Chapel, from Zech. xiii. 7. "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd; and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts:" &c. His youthful appearance and pleasing address fixed the attention of the numerous audience, and laid the foundation of his future popularity.
When Mr. De Courcy had discontinued his labours at Tottenham Court Chapel, he preached for a short time in the chapels of Lady Huntingdon; but being not quite satisfied with her plan, he accepted of an invitation from Lady Glenorchy; and preached at her chapel, in Edinburgh, with great acceptance and usefulness. A more stated and regular mode of preaching, however, being preferred by himself and his friends, he was introduced in 1770, through the influence of the respectable families of Hill and Powis, to the curacy of Shawbury, near Hawkstone, in Shropshire, of which the Rev. Mr. Stillingfleet was then Vicar. Here he continued about four years; and obtained priest's orders.
In the month of January, 1774, he was presented by the Lord Chancellor to the vicarage of St. Alkmond, in the large and populous town of Shrewsbury. This situation he probably owed to the zealous friendship of the gentlemen before mentioned, and the pious Earl of Dartmouth. His former connexions, itinerant labours, and evangelical strain of preaching having procured for him the name of a Methodist, his settlement in this place, occasioned no small stir, and produced a Satirical Poem, written by a gentleman of the parish, entitled "St. Alkmond's Ghost." He married, in January 1775, Jane, the only daughter of Thomas Dicken, Esq., of Wollerton, in the same county; by whom he had several children.
Mr. De Courcy continued in the exercise of his parochial duties for almost thirty years. His sermons were delivered without notes; but in good language. His style was elegant, and his manner graceful. He often embellished his discourses with apposite allusions, and the graces of oratory.
He published, in 1791, two pocket volumes, entitled, "Christ Crucified," being the substance of a series of discourses preached at Namptwich, in the pulpit of another clergyman, (while he was on a visit to a much respected friend,) by whose solicitations he was induced to print them. In his Preface to this work, he observes, "That the remarks which it contains, in vindication of the doctrines of the Church of England, and in quotations from her Liturgy and Articles, he considered as a tribute of respect due to so venerable an authority; and a decisive method of proving, that, whatever his sentiments are, they accord with those of the church of which he thinks it an honour to be a minister. He professes to belong to no particular party, distinct from the established church, and disavows every name that implies it; yet he is ready to give "the right hand of fellowship" to all of every denomination under Heaven, who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." The summit of his ambition is to be, and to be called a Christian,- " the highest style of man;" and next to that, to inculcate and adorn that great system of Christianity, which is the glory of the Reformation, forms the Creed of the national church, in its present establishment; and which, as an honest man, he feels himself bound to enforce, agreeably to the obligation of a most solemn and unequivocal subscription. He believes, that, "The truth, to which the Son of God came to bear witness," which prophecies and miracles authenticate, which apostles have attested, and for which martyrs bled, must be of infinite importance: that if divine truth could cease to be important, it would be unworthy of God, and from that moment cease to be divine; and, therefore, that there are some branches of Christianity which it is essential to believe, and on that account a duty to defend; otherwise to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, would be both nugatory and superfluous."
On these principles Mr. De Courcy conducted his preaching and his writings, in which he proved himself an able opposer of the dangerous dogmas of Socinus, as then revived and propagated by Dr. Priestley. Referring to the Articles of the Church, he says, in vol. ii. p. 104, "They stand, as it is devoutly to be wished they may ever stand, to latest ages, a barrier against the encroachments of those errors which have, at different periods, infested the church; and which are revived in the present day, with a bold licence of thought and expression, hardly ever paralleled in the writings of the most outrageous Heresiarchs. They have been contemptuously styled, The Altar with Thirty-nine Horns; the fall of which too, has been confidently predicted: but the indecent abuse here as little affects us as the prophecy alarms our fears. Horns indeed this sacred altar has, strong enough, I hope, to repel the enraged and impotent assaults of its adversaries, whether confederated by faction, or frantick with Sibylline or Socinian enthusiasm; horns, potent enough to attack the boldest heresies, and make them bleed to death beneath the deep, keen searchings of the sword of the Spirit. At this altar many champions have stood to guard its foundation, and have offered up their lives upon it, rather than desert the structure, or deny the hand of Divine Interposition that consecrated and reared it. Esto perpetua be ever written on its base!"
Mr. De Courcy, knowing how to appreciate the civil as well as spiritual blessings enjoyed in this happy country, discovered a commendable zeal in resisting those dangerous doctrines which, under the delusive name of The Rights of Man, have occasioned so awful a perversion of their rights and privileges in neighbouring nations. This will particularly appear from his sermon, preached at Hawkstone Chapel, at the presentation of the colours to the North Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry, in 1798.
As to the person of Mr. De Courcy, his stature was somewhat below the middle size; his address very pleasing; and the fund of information which he possessed, together with a degree of natural sprightliness and humour, rendered him a very desirable companion. His temper was considered as naturally warm; " but if at any time," says the preacher of his funeral discourse, " the man appeared, let it be remembered, that the grace of the Christian would presently gain the ascendency; and prove, that the main bias of his soul inclined to those things which afford consolation to the believer, amid the various calamities of life, and which constitute his support in a dying hour."
Mr. De Courcy died Nov. 4, 1803, at the age of fifty-nine. His remains were interred at Shawbury, the scene of his first labours. On this mournful occasion a great number of his friends, in carriages and on horse back, voluntarily joined the funeral procession, anxious thus to render to the memory of their beloved pastor, the last tribute of respect and gratitude. Several sermons suited to the occasion, were delivered on the following Sunday. The Rev. Brian Hill preached in the morning at St. Alkmond's Church, on John xvi. 33; Mr. Weaver, in the afternoon, at Swan Hill Meeting on Mat. xxv. 21; and Mr. Palmer, at the Baptist Meeting is the evening, on 2 Sam. iii. 38; all uniting to lament the publick loss.
The present REAR ADMIRAL SIR E.W.C.R. OWEN, K.C.B. though not a native of Shrewsbury, is the son of a gentleman long resident there. The Admiral entered the navy in the year 1783, and rose to the rank of post captain in 1797 or 1798. From the commencement of his professional career to the period of his appointment to a flag, his life has been one continued scene of arduous service, as is testified by almost every periodical work, from the beginning of the late war to its termination. It may be justly asserted, that this country is indebted to him for the protection of its shores from the alarming attempts of the enemy. During part of the time when he held the rank of Commander, and was not regularly employed, he served as a volunteer with his friend Capt. Griffiths, (now Admiral Colpoys,) and was with him on board his ship at Portsmouth, when the mutiny assumed so formidable an appearance. On that occasion, though he so bravely and judiciously resisted the efforts of the mutineers, that he was chiefly instrumental in subduing the disturbances, he has, instead of exciting the hatred of the sailors, secured their highest esteem, and confidence.
Since the close of the late war, Admiral Owen, has been uniformly selected by Government, in cases of emergency and difficulty. He took the arduous command upon the lakes in Canada, and put down the pirates in the West Indies. On these, and on all other occasions, he eminently distinguished himself, and for the latter service, he received from the Merchants and Planters of Jamaica, a splendid service of plate, accompanied by the most flattering expressions of gratitude and respect.
To recount all the benefits his country has derived from his talents and exertions would be difficult; and for humanity and kindness towards all who have had the honour to serve under him, or to possess his acquaintance, his character surpasses even that which he has acquired by his skill and bravery."
[Transcribed information from A Gazetteer of Shropshire - T Gregory - 1824](unless otherwise stated)
[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]