W. H. Bernard Saunders.

Legends and traditions of Huntingdonshire online

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me from your lordship's house. Such assertions are calculated
to iajure me. Your lordship's reputatioa as a professed duel-
list, founded on having sent Major Jenkins to offer satis-
faction to Mr. Brent, the miller, of Canterbury, and your also
having sent Captain Forrest to London to call out an attorney's
clerk, does not admit of your privately offering insult to me,
and then screening yourself under the cloak of commanding
officer; and I must be allowed to tell your lordship that it
would far better become you to select a man whose hands are
untied for the object of your lordship's vindictive reproaches,
or to act as many a more gallant fellow than yourself has done,
and waive that rank which your wealth and earldom alone
entitle you to hold.

I am, my lord, your lordship's obedient servant,

RicHAKD Anthony Reynolds.
The Right Hon. the Earl of Cardigan,

45, Brunswick Square, Brighton."

Legends, etc, of Huntingdonshire, 2'ji

On receipt of this letter Lord Cardigan asked for a
court martial, charging Captain Reynolds with dis-
obedience to his orders, in having written " a most
disrespectful, insubordinate, offensive, and insulting
letter," iu direct violation of his command that all
letters addressed to him by Captain Reynolds should
be of an official character. The court martial was held
on September 25th, 1840, at Brighton, and after
various adjournments it was finally decided that
Captain Reynolds should be cashiered. The sentence
was received on all sides with a chorus of dissent. The
Loudon Times, and almost every journal in the country,
condemned the decision as monstrously unjust. The
letter was an indiscreet one, but there had been con-
siderable provocation, and a reprimand on a brave and
gallant officer would have amply met the justice of the
case. Lord Cardigan, however, did not escape without
an official reprimand. So general and so earnest was
the pubhc in Captain Reynolds' behalf, that he was
compelled to write to the Times begging that the pro-
posal to present him with a public testimonial might
not be persisted in. At Brighton Lord Cardigan was
burnt in effigy, in company, it was said, with the very
black bottle, bearing the word " Moselle," which had
been the fo?is et origo of the whole thing.

After a time Captain Reynolds' commission was
restored to him by Royal authority.


©ijapter •^;r;rjiifi*


On December 18th, 1886, the River Nene was
covered with large masses of ice, which were floating
down the stream, somewhat swollen by previous
rains. They were not sheets or solid blocks, but ap-
parently collections of innumerable small particles, as
if larger pieces had been ground into atoms and then
thrown into the stream, congregating again in masses.
"That, sir," said a Huntingdonshire miller, "is due to
the anchor frost." The writer asked what he meant by
anchor,frost, for he had never heard the expression be-
fore. " An anchor frost is always like that," he replied*
" the ice is formed in the bed of the river, and rising
to the surface floats. The writer attempted to con-
vince him that such a thing was contrary to every

Legends^ etc., of Huntingdonshire. 273

known law in chemistry, but he persisted in it, and
said that millers disliked nothing so much as an anchor
frost, as it frequently interfered with the proper work-
ing of the water wheel. It was, however, not of long
duration. An anchor frost never continued longer
than three days. Another man also stated that the
phenomenal aspect of the stream was due to " anchor
frost." The writer published a letter in the Peier-
horough Advertiser mentioning the above facts, and the
communication produced the following remarks in the
same journal the subsequent week, from a correspondent
at Earith: — "The question as to the reality of what
are called anchor frosts is continually cropping up.
Some say there is such a thing as the formation of the
ice at the bottom of a river or other water, while others
as stoutly maintain that it is impossible. Without
advocating either view I will relate what occurred here
(Earith) last week. For two or three days masses of
ice came floating down the river and choked up the
Causeway between the two bridges. This ice was of
a formation altogether diflFerent in appearance from
the ice on the surface of the water in the fens and
washes. None of the ice in the fens and washes had
broken up, so it could not have floated from those
places. Asking an old inhabitant about the matter,
he said, " Oh, that is anchor ice, it comes from the
bottom of the river." It is so called and described by


274 Legends^ etc., of Huniingdonskire.

all the old boatmen of this place. Along the banks of
the Old Bedford here, close to the edge of the water,
is to be seen a collection of shells, bits of coal and other
things deposited there by the ice called here " anchor
ice." Among other things brought up is a piece of
Roman pottery, and a walking stick with ferrule all
complete, which seems to have lain at the bottom of
the river for a long time. The theory is that the ice
forms at the bottom of the river, encloses these things
within its grasp, and when the ice breaks loose and
floats, these objects are carried with it and deposited on
the banks when the ice thaws. The stick, pottery, and
shells are here to be seen, and their presence in the
places where they are found certainly seems to favour
the idea that such a thing as 'anchor frost' does

" I write this note from a Huntingdonshire village,"
says Cuthbert Bede in Xoles and Queries, " where there
are some cases of small pox. An old cottager told me
that the best way to prevent the disease from spread-
ing was to open the window of the sick room at sunset,
in order to admit the gnats, who would load themselves
with the infection and then fly forth and die.
' Smoking, and whitewash, and tar-water are fools to
them gnats,' said my informant, who placed the most
implicit reliance on his scrap of folk lore."

A young woman named Stacey got into trouble at

Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire. 275

Middlemoore, in February, 1861, through adopting a
folk lore remedy for fits. She went round the
neighbourhood with this paper: "By the order of
Mr. Bates that this paper should be drawed up for
the purpose of Banishing of my Fits from me, Mr.
Bates saith that thare is but one more remedy for Cure
Of them but this, that is i have to gather 9 sixpenses
From 9 sepprate marred men, it must be the men that
gives me it Or it will have no eifect on my fits and i
hope tha All that takes it intrust to this thing may
never fall A victem to this awful Complaint nor yet
others for A few days A Go they that held me expected
every moment Being my last and Mr. Bates saith by
doing this i shall loose them be so kind As to put your
Names down so that thare is no more than the 9 6d^
Gathered theas are to make A ring on for me to ware.
Miss Stacey, Midlemoor." Mr. C. P. Bates naturally
resented this unauthorised use of his name, and sum-
moned the girl before the Ramsey magistrates, who
reprimanded her. Nevertheless, she collected the
magical number of sixpences from " 9 marred men,"
in strict accordance with the exacting terms of the
recipe, and they were converted into the necessary ring.
A gentleman travelling near St. Neots asked a
countryman what was the name of the town. " Woy,
sir," he replied, " Some calls it Sneets, some Snotes, oi
calls it Snotes."

276 Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire.

In Huntingdonshire, according to Cuthbert Bede in
Notes and Queries, the mulberry tree is called the wise
tree, because, unlike other trees, it never puts forth
buds until all the frosts have ceased. " I was talking
to-day (April 20th, 1865)," writes Cuthbert Bede,
"with a Huntingdonshire cottager, and was saying
how cold the day had been after our previous hot
weather. ' Yes,' said my friend, ' You mustn't expect
the summer to come all at once: the wise tree would
have told you better than that. I was up agen the
hall this morning, and saw those two wise trees that
grow nigh to the fish stews, and they hadn't put out a
morsel 0' show.' ' And what tree may the wise tree
be,' I asked. ' It's what some folks call the mulberry,'
was the reply, * but the wise tree is the name as I've
always known it by ever since I was a child.' ' And
why do you call it the wise tree ?' ' Why, because it
isn't silly like some other trees as puts out their leaves
early and then gets them nipped; but the wise tree,
on the contrary, always waits till the frosses has gone
right away, and ain't to be deceived by a stroke 0' fine
weather coming early in the season ; but when its sartin
sure that it be fine weather and well settled, then it
puts out its leaves. Oh, yes, sir, you may rest content
on the wise tree telling you may be safe against

The custom frequently met with amongst the

Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire. 277

residents in villages in England of selling a wife, has
been observed in Huntingdonshire, as the foUovring
incident will show: — A labouring man residing at
Ramsey, having for a considerable time left his wife,
returned on December 29th, 1821, to find her in the
situation as housekeeper to one of his neighbours. On
claiming her a quarrel ensued, the result being that an
ajrreement was come to that the husband should sell
his wife for five shillings, and deliver her to the pur-
chaser, the one whose house she was keeping in Hunt-
ingdon Market Place. Before the ceremony took place
the parties were, much to their surprise, taken into
custody, and carried before the magistrates, who, find-
ing they had acted from ignorance of the law, which
they had supposed rather sanctioned than prohibited
such contracts, allowed the parties, on being bound
over for good behaviour, to go home.

A curious instance of the observance of the leap year
privilege is recorded at King's Ripton in 1824. Miss
Porter, the well favoured daughter of n respectable
farmer, having placed her affections on a man-servant
named Wootton, employed on a neighbouring farm,
who was the son of an itinerant rag and bone collector,
resolved to take advantage of the privilege accorded
to her sex in leap year. She accordingly sent one of
her father's servants for the favoured youth. The
moment he came in view she ran into the yard to meet

278 Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire.

him, exclaiming, "Tom, will you have me?" The
youth agreed, and the father of the young lady having
regard to the custom of leap year raised no objection,
but sent for the necessary licence, and the two were
married on the following Christmas morning.

There is a curious old custom which is still annually
observed at the village of Old Weston. The practice
is to strew the floor of the parish church with newly-
cut grass on the feast Sunday. A lady left by will a
parcel of land for this purpose. The grass was to be
cut for this particular day, when the congregation was
supposed to be large, and the object, it is said
was to drown or minimize the noise which the people
made by squeaking boots as they entered and left the
church, and which it is said very much annoyed this
lady and disturbed the service. There is a tablet in
the church recording the gift for the observance of the
custom, but it is undecipherable through age. The
bequest is now only a small piece of land, but it is
beUeved to have been very much larger before the

" Going a Gooding " was formerly a well observed
custom in Stilton. A notice of it, in 1874, says:
" Years ago one was delighted to see the old folks, in
their red cloaks, collecting from charitably disposed
persons in the village; but for the last two years
money has been collected by persons authorised to do

Legends y etc., of Huntingdonshire. 279

so, and tickets for mutton, &c., have been given^
varying in value from lib. to 21b. each." " Going a
Gooding" was an observance of St. Thomas' Day.

The following lines are well known in the county: —
" Crowland, as courteous as courteous may bee,
Thorney the bane of many a good tree,
Ramsey the rich, and Peterboro' the Proude :
Sawtry by the way, that poor Abbey, gave more
alms than all they."

Or, as they appear in another form: —
Kamsey the rich, of gold and fee ;
Thorney, the grower of many a fair tree ;
Croyland, the courteous of their meat and drink;
Spalding, the gluttons, as men do think ;
Peterborough, the proud :
Sawtry— by the way—
That old abbaye,
Gave more alms than all they.

The following lines are still remembered in several

villages in the county: —

Lutton Hill, Yaxley StUl MiU,

And Whittlesey Mere,

Are the three wonders of Huntingdonshire.


chapter XXXiV.


Akoribury: In Domesday this is spelt Acumesberie
and Almundeberie. Alman or Almond was a furnace
used by refiners, and tlierefore Alconbury was probably
a place for coining or casting metals.

Alwalton: In Domesday this place is spelled
Alwoltune. It is probably a corruption from Ael Avon,
the brow of the river. The Nene was originally called
Avon or Aufona, but the early British called all their
rivers by that name. This explanation exactly accords
with the situation of Alwalton, for it is a village situated
on a brow overlooking the Nene.

Bluntisham: In Domesday this is written Bluntis-
ham and Bluntesham. It is possibly a British word
with a Saxon termination. Bol is a head, or something

Legends y etc., of Huntingdonshire. 281

high, and Isca a river or water. The English
termination of ham was subsequently added.

Barham : According to Spelman, Berewica is a town
or hamlet separated from the manor, and as Barham
is a hamlet to Spaldwick, this sufficiently explains the
origin of the name.

Bodsey: Possibly took its name from Queen Boadicea,
as it was in her Kingdom. It is locally pronounced as
if spelled Botsea,

Brampton : Bram means castle or tower near stagnant
water. The j^ has been subsequently added, as it has
in Northamj!;ton or Southamjston.

Botol^ih Bridge: No doubt took its name from St.
Botolph, who lived in the vicinity, and in whose
honour a church was erected on the spot, traces of
which still exist.

BucMen: In Domesday Buchetone, and this affords
an explanation of the origin of the name, viz.. Buck's

Brington: This has been variously spelt. In
Domesday it is Breninctune, in Dugdale it is Bremtune.
C and g with the Saxons were convertible letters.
Brinct means an abrupt edge of a brook or a river,
thus Brington would mean a town on the edge of a

Broughton: In Domesday, Brocktune, that is,

282 Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire.

Buckivorih: Like Buckden, this village stands high.
In the glossary of Speaght's Chaucer worth means
mounted. This may therefore mean the Buck's hill.
In Domesday it is Bucheworde, which would represent
the buck's pasturage.

Bury: This is often locally wi'itten Berry. Probably
it has its origin like all similar place names, in having
once been a fortification. It is practically the same
word as borough, or burgh.

Cat Ivor fh: In Domesday Book this is spelt Cateworde,
and Duijdale writes it Cattewrda. The termination
no doubt refers to the lofty situation of the village, as
in Buckworth. The first syllable may refer to the fact
that it was a colony of the Catti, or Cattienchlani ;
but, as an alternative suggestion, it is possible that
Catus, who so harrassed Britain with taxes and
prosecutions as to bring on the entire revolt of this
part of the country, may have lived or built here.

Ualdecote: Dugdalc writes this Calikcota, but in
Domesday Book it is spelt exactly as we find it now.
Ceald, in Anglo-Saxon, was cold, and cote was a cottage
or place of residence, as we now use the word in dovecote,
the home of the doves. It thus means cold cottage,
or the house in an exposed situation. Coldharborough
has a similar derivation.

Conington: In Domesday Book this appears as
Coninctune. As was stated in the case of Brington,

Legends y etc, of Huntingdo7ishire. 28;

c and g were convertible letters, so also were c and Tc.
This, therefore, brings the word to be obviously the
same as our modern Kingston. King Canute made a
present of this lordship to Turkil, the famous Dane,
and therefore it was part of Canute's patrimony as King.

Coppingford : This has been variously spelled Coup-
mannesford, Copemanforde, and Copingford. Cop, in
Anglo-Saxon, meant an apex or head, and man in
British was a place. It meant, therefore, a high place
near a ford.

Chesterton: In Domesday Book it is written Cestre-
tune. It was formerly a Tloman station. Castrum was
a castle or fortress, or in the plural a camp. Ton, the
same with Tuijn, in the Netherlands was a hedge,
which was the rude fortification of our British
ancestors. The last syllable is therefore redundant
here, but it points to the fact that it vras a fortified
place even before the Romans made it so.

Colne: This name clearly shows that it was a Roman
colony, even if there was no other testimony to that
effect, but the numerous coins which have been found,
and the ruins of the camp which may still be traced,
are conclusive,

Covington : In Domesday, this is Covinctune.
Probably it took its name from the existence of a
convent at the place, though no historical evidence of
such a fact now exists.

284 Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire.

Benton: In Domesday Book, this is Denfcone. Dene,
Ban, Beane, in Saxon, a hole or a low place. That is
exactly what Denton is, and so is Dean, in Bedfordshire.

Biddingion: This is written in Domesday as Dodin-
tone, and Dodinctnn, that is the town of the Does,
and is another instance of the many names in the
county that refer to the deer, while the title of the
county takes its name from the pursuit of them.

EUingtoji: There is considerable difference in the
way this word is spelled in Domesday Book. In one
place it is Adelinhine, and in another it is Alyngton.
In Saxon Aedelan was a nobleman, and this may supply
the origin of the name.

Elton: Probably derives its name from Ael or El
and Avon or Tavon, the high brow of the river Avon.

Eariih: Eur, in British meant water, and Hythe
was a station or port.

Eyneslury : There are, or rather were, a great many
ways of spelling this word, Ernulfesbery, Arnulphesbiry,
Einulvesberie, Eyiiolvesberi, Henolvesbiry, Ainsbury,
and even Amesbury. Ainul])h was " a pious person,"
who had a hermitage here.

Farcet: In King Edgar's time this was FeaiTeshefod,
and the changes are Fearresheafod, Fearresheved,
Farseved, Farshed, Farcet. It was also called Woods-
heved. Farcet may thus be rendered Ferry's-haven or

Legends y etc., of Huntingdonshire. 285

Fhtion : A brook called the Fleet runs through this

Folksworth: In Domesday Book it is called Folches-
worde. The top of the hill seems to have been

Gidding: In Domesday Book all the Giddings are
called Redings, but later writers spell the word Geding,
Geddinge, Gidinga, and Gidoing. The change from
R to G supplies the origin of the name. Gerefa by
abreviation becomes Gereve, or Grave and Reve.
These latter words were originally a name of office,
but became afterwards a name of dignity. This was
probably, therefore, the residence of a Shire-reve.

Glatton: In Domesday Book it is Glatune. GJadh
is river in British. A brook runs through the village.

Godmanchesier : "Writers have frequently written
this name Gormanchester. Gale states that there was
a well here famous for the cure of leprosy, which was
called by our Saxon ancestors Gormes ; but probably a
better explanation is that it took its name from Gorman,
a famous Danish Chieftain, and Camden says: — "The
town from Gorman's camp first took its name." A
pond in the parish is still called Gorman's pond.

Gransden: In Domesday Book this place is called
Grantesdene. The brook on which the place stands,
or is adjacent to, is low in comparison with the
surrounding hills, and although it empties itself into

286 Legends, etc., of Huntmgdonshire.

the Ouse, and not into the Granta, yet the source of it
is nearer the latter than the former river.

Grafham: (See Gridding).

Haddon: In Domesday Book it is Adone. The
Anglo-Saxon Adune meant downward. The village
can only be reached by going down hill.

Hailiveston: In Dugdale it is spelt Halyweston.
HaeJan, in Saxon, meant to heal or cure, and there
were curative springs in the parish. It is due west
from the Roman city of Pjynesbury.

Hamerton: In Domesday Book it is Hamblestune.
It has been .suggested — but it can hardly be considered
a satisfactory explanation — that being near Alconbury,
a place of coinage or metal work, this became the
dwelling place of smiths, or forgers, accustomed to the
use of hammers.

Hemimjford: In Domesday Book it is Emingforde.
Stukeley says that meadows were anciently called
Henings, and Dugdale writes Hemingford, Heunford.

Hariford: In Dugdale, this is written Hereford,
and is, therefore, the hart's ford, another instance of a
place-name connected with the forest state of the
district and its deer.

Fensianton : In Domesday, it is Standstone. There-
fore the word fen has been a later prefix, Standstone,
is evidently Strand- town, and means the town is on
the edge or side of the river.

Legends, etc., of Htmtingdonshire. 287

Hilton: Like Hilton in Durham, it is the town on
the hill, though the hill in this case is not a large one,
except it is regarded in comparison with the surrounding

Hinchinfj'brook: Possibly from hind, another instance
of the deer forests ; but hingene, in British, meant
overlooking, and in that case it would be a place
overlooking the brook.

Holme: Holm, an island.

Houghion-. In Domesday Book it appears as Hoctune,
and in Dugdale as Octune. Half, in British, is sea.
The fen lakes close to were called meres, i.e., seas.

Huntingdon: This is pure Saxon, and needs no

Hurst : This name appears in Woodhurst, Old Hurst.
Hyrst means a woody place,

St. Ives: From St. Ivo.

Keyston: In Domesday Book, Ketlestun and
Chevelston. Possibly the residence of Kettel, who left
possessions to the Abbey of liamsey.

KimhoUon: Gimhal in Saxon, and Cimbel in
British, meant a hollow in the ground.

Leighton: In Domesday Book this is Lectone and
Lestune. Lcgh is ground lying untillcd, or wildly
over-grown. Leg is a place.

Molesivorth: Mull is mill with the Lowland Scotch;
worth, a place of safety.

288 Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire.

Morhorn: Or Moorburn. Burn and Irook are
synonymous, and the word, therefore, explains itself.

Needingworth : The British word Nydhn meant to
turn, and the river makes a remarkable turn here.
The place is sometimes in old MSS. ■written Nyding-

Si. Neois : Obtained its name from being the place
of the shrine of St. Neot.

Offord: Over the ford.

Old Weston: In some old MSS. this is written "Wold
Weston; that is, a hilly place void of wood.

Overton: In Domesday, these parishes are \vritten
Ovretune. Probably the origin is that they were across
the river Nene, from the important Roman station at

Paim'orth: Sometimes this place has been written
Papeworde, and Pappewrde.

Paxton: \\\ Domesday Book these parishes are
spelled Pachstone. Its origin is probably from Pocus,
or Pecus-town, a place for breeding sheep. Its high
situation favours this, as it is well known that the
Spanish mountains and the hills in the Isle of "Wight
produce famous flocks of sheep.

Perry: From pier or peer, to look out upon, the
village standing high.

Pidley: From the British Pen, a mountain or hill,
as Peudley in the north.

Legends t etc., of Huntingdo7ishire. 289

Ramsey : That is the Ram's island. Ey and ea are
frequent terminals in Fen names, and mean island.

Raveley : This place is also written Reveley. Its
origin is probably from rivus, a brook.

Ripton: This place derives its name from ripae,
being water running between two banks.

Saivtry: Until the present century, this place was
generally written Saltrey or Saltry. In Domesday, it
is Saltrede. Salius, in ancient law books, means old
timber trees, and ire, in British, is equivalent to ham
in Saxon.

StihUngton: In Domesday Book it is written Sibes-
iune. Sihh, in old English, is peace, and it is possible
that some treaty of peace was concluded here, especially
as it stands on one of the largest Roman and Saxon
roads, although there is no historical record of the fact.

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