Copyright
Thomas Pennant.

The journey from Chester to London online

. (page 3 of 34)
Online LibraryThomas PennantThe journey from Chester to London → online text (page 3 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


pieces of half-burnt wood being frequently dug up
in this neighborhood. Salinis was a place not
far from hence, one of the wiches; but I am
uncertain which. The Romans made use of the
springs, and made salt by much the same process
as we do at present. The salt produced was
white. " It struck the natives, who stiled this
place, perhaps the first where they saw salt
of this kind, Heledd-Wen, or the white brine-pits,
to distinguish them from the springs which they
used in so slovenly a fashion.

The Romans were acquainted with rock-salt,
but had not discovered it within the limits of
Italy. There were mountains of salt in India.
Spain afforded the transparent colorless rock-salt,
and Cappadocia the deep yellow \ The Romans

T PlinU Hist. Nat. lib. xxxi. c. 7. Gallia Germanicequt
ardentibus lignis aquam salsam infundunt.

s Pliny, lib. xxxi. c. 7. Strabo, lib. xx. 1057. But the
rock-salt of our island remained undiscovered till past the
middle of the last century.



SALT-WORKS. 37

were conversant in the methods of producing this
useful article from the brine f , which they prac-
tised in our island, and communicated their in-
structions to the natives. Salt was an early import
into Britain, but it was only to the Cassiterides u ,
and the neighboring parts which were remote from
the salt-springs.

These advantages are but sparingly scattered
over Great Britain: Scotland and Ireland are
totally destitute of them. In England there are
several, but few that contain salt sufficient to be
worked. Thus, there are some which rise out of
the middle of the Were, in the bishoprick of
Durham ; others in Yorkshire, Cumberland, Lan-
cashire, and Oxfordshire x ; all those are neglected,
either on account of their weakness, or, in some
places, by reason of the dearness of fuel. These
in Cheshire, and those at Droitwich, in Worces-
tershire, with the small works at Weston in
Staffordshire, are the only places where any busi-
ness is done. Droitwich, and those in Cheshire,
were worked by the Romans, and had the common
name of Salince.

From that period to the present, they have been
successively in use. The Saxons, according to
their idea of liberty, divided them between the

* Fit et e puteis in salinas ingestis. Plin. xxxi. 7.

> Strabo, 265. * See. CampbeVs Politic. Survey, i. 76.



38 SALT-WORKS.

king, the great people, and the freemen. Thus,
at Nantwich was one brine-pit, which gave employ
to numbers of salin<e, or works. Eight of them
were between the king and earl Edwin, of which
the king had two shares of the profits, the earl
one. Edwin had likewise a work near his manor
of Aghton, out of which was made salt sufficient
for the annual consumption of his houshold ; but
if any was sold, the king had a tax of two pence,
and the earl of one penny.

In this place were likewise numbers of works
belonging to the people of the neighborhood;
which had this usage : From Ascension-day to the
feast of St. Martin, they might carry home what
salt they pleased ; but if they sold any on the spot,
or any-where in the county, they were to pay a
tax to the king and the earl : but after the feast of
St. Martin, whosoever took the salt home, whether
his own, or purchased from other works, was to
pay toll, except the before-mentioned work of the
earl; which enjoyed exemption, according to an-
tient usage.

It appears, that the king and earl farmed out
their eight works ; for they were obliged to give,
on the Friday of the weeks in which they were
worked, xvi. boilings; of which xv. made one
sum of salt. This is a measure, which, according
to Spelman, amounts to a horse-load, or eight



SALT-WORKS. 39

bushels. The pans of other people, from Ascen-
sion-day to that of St. Martin, were not subject
to this farm on the Friday ; but from St. Martins-
day to Ascension they were liable to those cus-
toms, in the same manner as those of the king and
the earl.

The Welsh used to supply themselves from
these pits, before the union of their country with
England. Henry III. in order to distress them,
during the wars he had with them, took care
to put a stop to the works, and deprive them of
this necessary article.

All these salt-works were confined between the
river and a certain ditch. If any person was
guilty of a crime, within these limits, he was at
liberty to make atonement by a mulct of two
shillings, or xxx. boilings of salt ; except in the
case of murder or theft, for which he was to
suffer death. If crimes of that nature were com-
mitted without the precinct, the common usage of
the county was to be observed.

In the time of the Confessor, this place yielded
a rent of xx. pounds, with all the pleas of the
hundred ; but when earl Hugh received it, it was
a waste.

The Germans had an idea of a peculiar sanctity
attendant on salt-springs; that they were nearer
to heaven than other places ; that the prayers of



40 SALT-WORKS.

mortals were nowhere sooner heard ; and that, by
the peculiar favor of the gods, the rivers and the
woods were productive of salt, not, as in other
places, by the virtue of the sea, but by the
water being poured on a burning pile of wood y .

Whether this notion might not have been de-
livered from the Germans to their Savon progeny,
and whether they might not, in after-times, deliver
their grateful thanks for these advantages, I will
not determine : but certain it is, that on Ascension-
day the old inhabitants of Nantzvich piously sang
a hymn of thansgiving, for the blessing of the
brine. A very antient pit, called the Old Brine,
was also held in great veneration, and, till within
these few years, was annually, on that festival,
bedecked with boughs, flowers, and garlands, and
was encircled by a jovial band of young people,
celebrating the day with song and dance z .
. This festival was probably one of the reliques
of Saxon paganism, which Mellitus might permit
his proselytes to retain, according to the politieal
instructions he received from Gregory the Great a ,
on his mission, least, by too rigid an adherence to
the purity of the Christian religion, he should
deter the English from accepting his doctrine. In
fact, salt was, from the earliest times, in the

y Tacit i Annul, xiii. c. 57. x Hist. Nanlivich, 60.

Bede, lib. i. c. 31.



SALT-WORKS. 41

highest esteem, and admitted into religious cere-
monies : it was considered as a mark of league
and friendship. " Neither shalt thou," says the
Jewish Legislator b , " suffer the salt of the cove-
" nant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-
" offering. With all thy offerings thou shalt
" offer salt." Homer gives to salt the epithet
of divine. Both Greeks and Romans mixed salt
with their sacrificial cakes. In their lustrations
they made use of salt and water, which gave rise,
in after-times, to the superstition of holy water;
only the Greeks made use of an olive branch in-
stead of a brush, to sprinkle it on the objects of
purification.

" Next, with pure sulphur purge the house, and bring
" The purest water from the freshest spring;
" This, mix'd with salt, and with green olive crown' d,
" Will cleanse the late contaminated ground."

Theocritus, Idyl. 24.

Stackiits tells us, that the Muscovites thought that
a prince could not shew a guest a greater mark
of affection, than by sending to him salt from his
own table c . The dread of spilling salt, is a
known superstition among us and the Germans,
being reckoned a presage of some future calamity,

b La-it. ch. ii. v. 13.

c Pane ipso princeps suam erga aliquem gratiam ; Sale vero
amorem ostendit. Antiq. Conviviales, 171.



42 NANTWICH.

and particularly, that it foreboded domestic feuds ;
to avert which, it is customary to fling some salt
over the shoulder into the fire, in a manner truly
classical d :

Mollibit aversos penates
Farre pio, et saliente mica.

In this town was an antient hospital dedicated
to St. Nicholas, endowed with a portion of tythes,
which w T ere granted to W. Grys by Queen Eliza-
beth e . The historian of this place also mentions
. a priory, dependent on Cumbermere, and a domus
leprosornm, or lazar-house, called St. Laurence's
Hospital; both which stood in the Welsh Rota,
the street next to Acton; but at present, even
their scite is hardly known. Here was, besides,
a chapel called St. Anne's, near to the bridge;
but that, likewise, has been totally destroyed.

Near the end of the Welsh Row stands a large
house, called Town's End, formerly the residence
of the very worthy family of the IVilbrahams.
That honest and distinguished lawyer, Randle
Wilbraham, was a younger brother of the late
owner, and, with unblemished reputation, raised
a vast fortune by his profession. For several
years before his death, he retired from business,

d Horace, lib. iii. ode 23. e Tanner, 65.



NANTWICH. 43

and enjoyed the fruits of his labors in an hospita-
ble retirement.

The church is a very handsome pile, in the
form of a cross, with an octagonal tower in the
centre. The east and west windows are filled
with elegant tracery. The roof of the chancel is
of stone, adorned with pretty sculpture. The
stalls are neat. Tradition says, that they were
brought, at the dissolution, from the abbey of
Vale Royal.

The only remarkable tombs are, a mutilated
one of Sir David Cradoc in armor, with three
gerbes on his breast for his coat of arms ; and an-
other of John Maisterson and his wife, engraven
on a large slab, and dated 1586. The following
quaint epitaph records the good intentions of the
husband :

" Within this fading tomb, vaulted, lies

" John Maisterson, and Margaret his wife ;

" Whose soules do dwell above the moving skies,

** In paradise with God, the Lorde of lyfle.

This John wrought means to build this Namptxvich town,

" When fyer hir face had fret & burnde hir downe."

Among some lumber in this church I found the
fragments of a white smooth monument, with the
following inscription :

Johannes Crew

Ex antiqua familia de Crew oriundus

Vir Pius.



44 NANTWICH.

Susceptum ex Alicia Manwaring.

Uxore reliquit sobolem

Ranulphum, Thomam, Lucretiam, Prudentiam.

Vixit annos 74. Obiit

An Do 1598.

The two sons were brought up to the law. Ran-
die became chief justice of the King's Bench, and
was the founder of the respectable house of Crew,
near this town : Thomas was Speaker of the House
of Commons in the latter end of the reign of
James I. and in the first parlement of Charles I.
The father of John Crew was a wealthy tanner of
this town, whom tradition still records by the
name of Golden Roger, who had a small monu-
ment in the church, with the figure of himself and
wife ; which an aged lady born in the parish re-
membered standing. I shall have occasion when
I reach Wrest to give a further account of his
illustrious posterity.

This town was the only one in the county
which continued firm to the parlement from the
beginning to the end of the civil wars. It under-
went a severe siege in January 1643, by Lord
Biron ; who, after the signal defeat he here expe-
rienced from the army commanded by Sir Thomas
Fairfax r , on the 25th of that month retired with
his shattered forces to Chester. The place was

f Rushworth II. part iii. 302.



CAP T - SANDFORD'S LETTER. 45

defended only by mud-walls and ditches, formed
in a hasty manner by the inhabitants and coun-
try people; who were highly incensed at some
cruel and impolitic treatment they had met
with from the royalists. The garrison defended
themselves with great obstinacy. The most re-
markable attack was on the 1 8th of January,
when the besiegers were repulsed with great loss.
Among the slain on their side, was the famous
Captain Sandford ; who again employed the elo-
quence of his pen, but to as little purpose as he
did before at Hqzvarden. On each occasion s he
maintains the same stile.

" To the Officers, Soldiers, and Gentlemen
" in Namptwyche, these.

" Your drum can inform you, Acton church is
" no more a prison, but now free for honest men
" to do their devotions therein ; wherefore be per-
" suaded from your incredulity, and resolve God
" will not forsake his anointed. Let not your
" zeal in a bad cause dazzle your eyes any
" longer ; but wipe away your vain conceits, that
" have too long let you into blind errors. Loth
" I am to undertake the trouble of persuading
" you into obedience, because your erroneous
" opinions do most violently oppose reason

s Tour in Wales, vol. i. 133.



40 CAP r SANDFORD'S LETTER.

" amongst you ; but, however, if you love youf
"town, accept of quarter; and if you regard
" your lives, work your safeties by yielding your
" town to Lord Byron, for his Majesty's use.
" You see now my battery is fixed ; from whence
" fire shall eternally visit you, to the terror of
" the old, and females, and consumption of your
" thatched houses. Believe me, gentlemen, I
" have laid by my former delays, and am now
" resolved to batter, burn, storm, and destroy
" you. Do not wonder that I write unto you,
" having officers in chief above me : 'tis only to
" advise you, because I have some friends
" amongst you, for whose safety I wish you to
" accept of my Lord Byron's conditions ; he is
" gracious, and will charitably consider of you.
" Accept of this as a summons, that you forth-
" with surrender the town ; and by that testimony
" of your fealty to his Majesty, you may obtain
" favour. My firelocks, you know, have done
" strange feats, both by day and night ; and
" hourly we will not fail in our private visits of
" you. You have not as yet received mine
" alarms ; wherefore expect suddenly to hear
" from my battery and approaches before your
" Welsh Row.

"This 1 5th of January, Tho. Sandford,

" 1643. Captain of Firelocks."



GENERAL MONK. 4 ?

" Gentlemen,
" Let these resolve your jealousies concerning
V our religion : I vow by the faith of a Christian,
" I know not one Papist in our army ; and, as I
" am a gentleman, we are no Irish, but true-
" born English, and real Protestants also, born
" and bred. Pray mistake us not, but receive
" us into your fair esteem. I know we intend
" loyalty to his Majesty, and will be no other
M but faithful in his service. This, Gentlemen,
" believe, from

CI IT '

" Yours,
" January 15. Tho. Samlford"

Among many other prisoners of distinction
taken by Sir Thomas Fairfax, was Colonel
George Monk, in after-times the famous instru-
ment of the restoration of Charles II. Fairfax
was so well acquainted with his merit, that he
^vas determined that he never should have an
opportunity of exerting his courage again in the
royal cause. He sent him up to London, where
he was committed prisoner to the Tower, and
confined near four years. On his release he
joined the parlement; but, through a sense of
honor, declined acting against his old master;
and employed his sword against the Irish rebels,
in which service he was engaged till after the
death of the King.

Nantxvich was the residence of the widow of



48 MILTON'S WIDOW.

the great Milton, during the latter part of hef
life. h She was the daughter of Mr. Minshul; of
Stoke, in this neighborhood. The poet married
her in the fifty-third or fifty-fourth year of his age,
wanting, in the season of his infirmities, assist-
ance from a dearer relation than that of domes-
tics. I fear that he was disappointed ; for she is
said to have been a lady of most violent spirit.
Yet she maintained a great respect for his me-
mory ; and could not bear to hear the least im-
putation of plagiarism ascribed to him. She used
to say, that he stole from nobody but the muse
who inspired him, and that muse was God's grace,
and the Holy Spirit, xchich visited him nightly.
She probably had heard him say as much, in the
composition of his invocation to Urania, in his 7th
book:

. upled by Thee,

Into the heav'n of heav'ns I have presum'd,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring.

And again, with greater force,

More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchang'd
To hoarse or mute, though fall'n on evil days,
On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues;
In darkness and with dangers compass'd round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while Thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly.

b Life of Milton by Bishop Newton. She died in a very
advanced age, in March 1726.



GERARD, THE BOTANIST. 49

In this town, in 1545, was born the good old
botanist John Gerard. He was bred an apothe-
cary ; and removing to London was patronized by
Lord Burghley, and during twenty years was su-
perintendant of his lordship's fine garden. He
often speaks of his own poor garden in Holborn,
which probably was a very respectable one. Doc-
tor Bulky n says it contained 1100 plants. It is
said to have been the first physic-garden we ever
had. The catalogue was given in print by him-
self in 1596 and 1599- There were two editions
of his Herbal: the first in 1597. The second
published in 1633 and 1636 by the ingenious and
brave Thomas Johnson, also an apothecary ; but
who afterwards was honored with the degree of
Doctor of Physic conferred on him in 1643 by the
university of Oxford. He had entered into the
royal army, and was advanced to the rank of lieu-
tenant-colonel ; behaved with distinguished gaU
lantry, and at length (in 1644) fell, greatly la-
mented, at the siege of Basinghouse, which was
soon after relieved by the loyal Colonel Gage.
Gerard died in the year 1607.

I continued my journey along the London
road, flat, tedious, and heavy. At the fourth
stone lieth, a little out of the way, JVybunbury,
a small village, supposed to have taken its name
from IVibba, second king of the Mercians, who^





dO WYBUNBURY.

died in 615. The manor was antiently in the
great family of the Praers. Sir Robert de Praer
gave it to his son Richard, about the reign of
King John, upon condition of rendering to the
heirs of his elder brother two barbed arrows
yearly, on the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, in
lieu of all other services. But the Praers re-
mitted all their right in this manor, and the pa-
tronage of the church, to the bishop of Lichfield
and Coventry, in 1276, the fifth of Edward I.
and the bishops continued to be lords of the ma-
nor till the second of Queen Elizabeth; about
which time it was alienated : but the bishops still
continue patrons of the church.

There had been, in much earlier times, a fa-
mily in this place which took their name from it ;
for Richard de Wibbunbury was sheriff of Cheshire
in 1233. Whether the Praers ever assumed that
name, is uncertain. It is probable, that the Ri-
chard abovementioned was the same with the she-
riff, and took the addition on receiving the place
from his father.

This village was formerly surrounded with gen-
tlemen's seats. Among those was Lee, the resi-
dence of a family of the same name ; from which
were descended- the Lees, earls of Lichfield, de-
rived from Benedict, a son of this house, who
made a settlement at Quarendon, in Bucking-



WYBUNBURY CHURCH. 51

liamshire, in the beginning of the reign of Ed-
ward IV.

The church is a very handsome building, em-
battled and pinnacled : the tower lofty ; the roof
is timbered on the inside, and carved with the
arms of the various benefactors. Part of the
church was taken down in 1591 ; at which time
many of the monuments were destroyed : of those
remaining, are several in memory of the Delves of
Doddington. The most antient is a large altar-
tomb of alabaster, with the figures of a father, and
son, and lady, engraven on the stone : at the feet
of each is a dog, and beneath, a dolphin : on the
front of the tomb, several figures, their progeny.
The persons represented are Sir John Delves, his
son John, and his wife Ellen, daughter of Ralph
Egerton, of TVrinehill, in the county of Stafford;
for his marriage with whom, probably on account
of consanguinity, a dispensation was granted in
1439 1 .

Sir John was in high favor with Henry VI.
and enjoyed several lucrative posts under him.
This he repaid by the most faithful adherence,
raised forces in his support, and lost his life va-
liantly fighting, in the fatal field at Texvhesbury,
on Saturday, May the. 4th, 1471. His son, with

1 Collins' s Baronet, ed. 1720. p. 300.
E 2



52 WYBUNBURY. TOMBS.

numbers of persons of distinction, took refuge in
the abbey. The furious Edward pursued them,
with his drawn sword, into the church k ; but was
opposed by a resolute priest, who for the present
diverted his vengeance by lifting up the host, in-
terposing the sacred mystery, and denied him ad-
mittance till he obtained a promise of pardon ;
depending on the king's word, they neglected
making their escape, and continued in the sanc-
tuary till the Monday, when the relentless monarch
caused them to be drawn out and beheaded, ac-
cording to the custom of the times, without any
process. The bodies of this unfortunate pair were
at first buried at Tewkesbury*, but afterwards
translated to this place ; where their remains lie,
with the following inscription :

Hie jacet Johannes Delves, miles, et Elena uxor

ejus, nee non Johannes Delves, armiger, Alius

et heres predicti Johis. qui quidem Johannes

miles obiit quarto die Mail, anno Dnl

MCCCCLXXI. quorum animabus propi-

tietur Deus. Amen.

Ralph, the second son of Sir John, and his

wife Catharine, are represented on a tomb by

two brass plates. The inscription imports, that

he died the 11th March, 1513.

k Stoiv's Annafs, 424-. ' Leland Itin. y\. 88.



DODDINGTON HALL, &c. 53

The tomb of Sir Thomas Smith, of the Hough,
in this parish, and his lady, is magnificent in its
kind. Sir Thomas lies beneath a canopy, sup-
ported by four pillars of the Ionic order, of white
marble, gilt and painted. He is represented re-
cumbent and armed, with his gauntlets lying at
his feet: his hair long, curled, and flowing: his
visage bearded and whiskered. His lady (Anne,
daughter of Sir William Brereton) has a fashion-
able fore-top, a great ruff, and extended hood.
Sir Thomas died on the 21st of December 16 14;
and his relict erected this monumental compli-
ment.

On getting into the great road, I passed on the
left the scite of the antient seat of Lee, and an
iron forge.

A little farther stood the antient seat of
Doddington, originally belonging to a family of
the same name ; but in the reign of Edward II.
it passed to the Praers : in 1352, the twenty-
sixth of Edward III. to the Brescies, by marriage
with the heiress of the house : but in the thirtieth
of the same reign, John Brescie, with Margaret
his wife, alienated it to John Delves, of Delves-
hall in Staffordshire, one of the four renowned
'squires who distinguished themselves under the
Lord Audley, at the battle of Poitiers. Sir John
Berniers, Lord Bourchier, the noble translator



54 LORD AUDLEY AND HIS SQUIRES.

of Froissart, relates the deed with all the sim-
plicity of the original. " But when Lord James
" Audeley sawe that shoulde nedes fyght (he sayde
" to the Pry nee) I have alwaies served truly my
" lorde your father, and you also, and shall do as
" long as I live. I say this, because I made ones
" a vow, that the first batayle that other the
" Kynge your father, or anie of his chyldren,
" shoulde be at, ho we that I wulde be one of the
" fyrst setters on, or else to dye in the fayle.
" Therefore I requyre your Grace, as in rewarde
" for any servyce that ever I dyde to the Kynge
" your father, or to you, that you will gyve me
" licence to departe fro' you, and to set up my
" self there, as I maye accomplyshe my vowe. The
" Prince, according to his desyre (and sayde) Sir
" James, God gyve you this daye that grace to be
" the best Knyght of all others, and to take hym
" by the hande. Than the Knyght departed fro
" the Prince, and went to the foremost front of
" all the batayles all, onely accompanyed with
" four Squyers, who promysed nat to fayle him.
" This Lorde James was a ryghte sage and a va-
" liant knyght, and by hym was muche of the
" hooste ordeyned and governed the day before.
" The Lord James Audeley, with his foure Squyers,
" was in the front of that battel, and these dyd
" marvels in armes ; and by great prowes, he



LORD AUDLEY AND HIS 'SQUIRES. 55

" came and fought with Sir Arnolde Dandrchen,
" under his own banner ; and there they fought
" longe togyder, and Sir Arnolde was there sore
" handled. And there was Sir Arnolde Dan-
" drchen taken prysoner by other men than by
" Syr James Audeley or his foure Squyers ; for
" y l daye he never toke prisoner, but always
" foughte and wente on his enemyes. On the
" Englyshe parte, the Lord James Audeley, with



Online LibraryThomas PennantThe journey from Chester to London → online text (page 3 of 34)