Hallamshire. The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in the County of York/Chapter II
Chapter II: An inquiry into the early state and remote history of the Parish of SheffieldEdit
Where is now collected a numerous and active population was anciently a deep solitude, the silence of which was broken only by our rivers pouring their waters in natural cascades through the woodland scenery.
Who was the first to raise the axe amongst the forests of HALLAMSHIRE, or who first established himself and his family in one of its romantic valleys, it is in vain now to attempt to recover. England boasts to have more and better native historians than any other country of what may be called modern Europe: and yet we are seldom able to fix, with certainty, the æra of the foundation of our cities and towns; much obscurity rests upon the ancient topographical divisions of our country, and even upon many important points of its general polity and history.
Direct historical evidence is wholly wanting: and if from a few existing remains of the ante-Norman period of our history, and by deduction from the view of this district by the Domesday surveyors, we are able to trace out a few circumstances of its early state and history, this is all we must expect. And even in this I must crave the reader's indulgence, that he will bear in mind that the ground about to be broken up has not hitherto been touched by any preceding topographer, and that he will allow me to commence my historical labours in the humble form of an inquirer.
The division of the dioceses into the small parishes as they at present appear, is not the work of one particular æra. It was evidently not the work of one period, but many: the more ancient parochial divisions being again subdivided and new-moulded, whenever the lord of a manor was rich enough or devout enough to found a church on his domain.
This, we have already had occasion to observe, appears not to have been done at Sheffield till some time after the Norman conquest. The light of Christianity very early visited the vale of the Don, and shone with no ordinary splendour at Doncaster, one of the villæ regiæ of King Edwin. But it seems to have travelled slowly towards the source of that river: and if we may trust the argument from the silence of Domesday, there was no church in Saxon times in any part of what now forms the parish of Sheffield. But by one of its earliest Norman proprietors a church was erected close to the vill of the manor of Sheffield: and when they came to apportion their estates to the several churches they erected, to the church of Sheffield they assigned as its paræcia the manor in which it stood, the adjoining manors of Attercliffe and Grimesthorp, and that part of the very spacious manor of Hallam which lay south of the Riveling. The other moiety of that manor was appropriated to the church built about the same period at Bradfield.
It is therefore in what we can collect concerning there four Saxon manors that we are to look for the history of the territory which now forms the parish of Sheffield: and the first point to which our attention may be directed is their geographical situation, and the several tribes, provinces, or kingdoms, to which in remote ages they may have belonged.
These lands lay upon the confines of the territories possessed by two tribes of native Britons, the Brigantes and Coritani. When for the purposes of government the Romans divided the island into several provinces, they lay on the confines of Maxima Cæsariensis and Flavia Cæsariensis: and when a few centuries later the Saxons had obtained possession of Britain, the inhabitants of these regions found themselves placed in an unenviable situation on the borders of the two rival kingdoms of Northumbria (or rather Deira) and Mercia. When the heptarchy or octarchy became one sovereinty under Egbert, these manors made a part of the county of York.
But to say that these lands lay on the confines of Flavia and Maxima, of Mercia and Deira, is not all that may be expected. The precise line of boundary of these ancient divisions of Britain seems still open to discussion, after all the attention that has been paid to it by Pegge, Whitaker, and others. The Roman geographers contain nothing decisive on this point, and the older monkish historians are content to speak of the Humber and the Mersey as separating the two districts. Higden, comparatively indeed a modern, says, when speaking of the boundary of Northumbria, 'Ab austro flumen Humbræ descendendo versus occidentem per fines comitatuum Nottingamiæ et Derbeiæ uspue ad flumen de Merseæ.' Mr Whitaker contends in opposition to Higden, that the line of the Don was the boundary, a decision which would place the greater part of the parish of Sheffield within Flavia and Mercia. But his authorities do not seem to bear him out. For Greasborough, where he places the Ad Fines of Richard of Cirencester, is not on the Don: and whatever authority we may be inclined to allow to the monk's Itinerary, it is obvious that the words 'ibi intras Maximam Cæsariensem,' which occur at Danum in the fourth Iter, if not one of his interpolations, may be understood to mean that Danum was the first station in Maxima, and near the confines. Danum, moreover, the modern Doncaster, the Campodonum of Dede, was decidedly a Northumbrian town, and yet it stood on the south bank of the Don. On the whole, the question seems to resolve itself into a balance of probabilities—where in one scale we have the convenience of having the line of demarcation so fixed and notorious as would be the course of such a river as the Don, and in the other what may be called the prescriptive claim of the present Yorkshire boundary. There seems no good reason for the addition of that extensive tract of the country which lies south of the Don to a county which without it was disproportionately large, except that its inhabitants had previously enjoyed a community of interests with their more northern neighbours: so that to me the latter scale seems to preponderate; and we must regard the whole of the territory which forms the parish of Sheffield as having been included within the Roman province of Maxima and the Saxon kingdom of Deira.
The manor of Hallam is not without vestiges of its Brigantian population. A celt was preserved with much veneration in the cabinet of Mr. Wilson, which had been discovered near his mansion of Broomhead. In the same neighbourhood is a British tumulus or barrow, now known by the name of the Apron-full-of-stones. That vast trench called the Bar-dike, in the same northern part of the manor of Hallam, of which the precise æra and the purpose of its formation are alike involved in the deepest obscurity, may probably be referred to a period before the arrival of the Romans: and so also the Canyers, a range of conical hills stretching about a mile in length, if indeed that stupendous work has been raised by other hands than those divine. Few districts in this kingdom present traces more prominently developed of our primæval ancestry then the northern moiety of the manor of Hallam: and it seems no improbable conjecture that population here began to spread itself from the north. But no remains which belong to the British period are to be found in that part of the manor of Hallam which lies south of the Riveling, the part which falls more immediately within the limits of the present work.
Neither in Ptolemy, the Notitia, nor the geographer of Ravenna, have we notice of a Roman station which can on circumstances of strong probability be placed within the parish of Sheffield. The discovery of the Roman tablets in Riveling renders it, however, highly probable that very soon after the Romans brought this island under their dominion, a municipal colony of Roman legionaries became settled within the manor of Hallam. Of this more hereafter. In the map of Roman roads in Yorkshire given in Eboracum, one is laid down through the midst of the parish of Sheffield,—on what authority does not appear, for it is certain that no traces of it are now discoverable. The eighteenth Iter of Richard of Cirencester skirted, if it did not enter, the parish of Sheffield. This is a road not laid down in Antonine's Itinerary. It extended across the island from York to Southampton. It passed through Castleford near Pontefract, and at the distance of eighteen miles from that station it encountered another called Ad Fines, which by the learned translator of Richard's curious work, and the equally learned author of a late dissertation on the course of Roman roads in Derbyshire, has been removed from Greasborough, where Stukeley and Whitaker had placed it, and fixed at Templeborough, on the Don. Here is a very fine rectangular camp indisputably Roman. But it is a curious fact, and one which well deserves the attention of those who are disposed to pursue the inquiry into the age of the Itinerary, preserved or compiled by the monk of Cirencester, that about a mile lower than Templeborough, on the stream of the Don, is the town of Rotherham, or Roderham, whose British name Yr Odar, terminus, is obviously reflected in the Roman name of this station, Ad Fines.
The name of the next station to Ad Fines is lost; but the road probably passed through or near Chesterfield, and so to Little Chester, near Derby. There has been so much cultivation in the country between Rotherham or Templeborough and Chesterfield, that it is perhaps unreasonable to expect to find any remains of the ancient high-way. The road between those places no lies through the town and parish of Sheffield; but the line of the Roman iter is rather to be sought on the south side of the Don, than on the present road which twice crosses the river, though it is evident from the name of the bridge at Attercliffe that there was formerly a ford at that place, and the Lady's-bridge at Sheffield is one of very high antiquity.
Traces of castramentation, which are supposed to be Roman, are to be found among the trees and thick bushes with which the hill of Wincobank is covered. This camp was of an irregular form approaching to the circle, and from it was commanded a view of the country for many miles around. In situation, form, and extent it closely resembles the hill of Little-Salisbury, near the city of Bath. A bank extending from this place eastward, called the Roman ridge, was probably cross iter made for the convenience of the garrison at this place, and joined the great road already mentioned from York to Southampton.
It is a prevalent opinion at Sheffield, that the area of the present parish church-yard was anciently a camp of the Romans. It is well-known that such situations were sometimes chosen for the erection of Christian temples; and the name of a street which passes under the walls of the cemetery on the north side, Campo-lane, may seem to give some countenance to the opinion. I have also heard that urns containing ashes as of some human body that had been burnt, were found several years ago on digging in the neighbourhood of Bank-street. Neither from this place nor from Wincobank has our Numismata Romana been enriched; but we must remember that in the burial ground of a populous parish every particle of earth must have been dug and sifted long before men began to give attention to matters of antiquarianism, or thought of preserving for the information of a more curious posterity, the remains of ancient date which chance submitted to their notice: nor in a situation so surrounded by buildings may we expect to find at this day any evident traces of the vallum and the foss.
Exaggerated as may be the accounts of Gildas and others of the sufferings of Britain when the Roman garrisons were withdrawn, there seems no reason to doubt that there followed times of great distress, and that the oppressions of the Saxons were not less severe than those of the Picts and Scots they were called in to remove. In the general calamity the inhabitants of these regions lying in the very centre of the island must have participated: and afterwards in the contentions of Northumbria and Mercia they must, from their frontier situation, have been peculiarly exposed to the calamities of war. Those two noble military earth-works called Castle-hill and Bailey-hill, both very near to the village of Bradfield, are evidently in their whole construction Saxon, and were doubtless thrown up for the defence of the kingdom of Northumbria. Tradition speaks loudly of the defeat and death of an invading king who came from the south, bearing a raven in his standard, amongst the hilld on the north of Bradfield. History, however, affords us here no certain light; since neither in the Saxon annals nor in our own Northumbrian Bede are any events recorded that can on decisive evidence be referred, as th their scene, to the territory which now composes either the manor or parish of Sheffield.
Nor is the want of such notices in our general historians made up to us by information afforded by Saxon charters, or other evidences of a more private nature. The name of Halen occurs in that curious topographic relic of the Testament of Wulfric Spott, made in the time of King Ethelred, and it has been by some supposed to represent our Hallam, in Domesday written Hallun. And had the name occurred among the lands bequeathed to Morcar,—namely, Hackenthorpe, Beighton, Mosborough, Eckington, and other places in the northern parts of Derbyshire,—the trifling variation in the orthography would not have forbid us to regard it as the Hallam of this neighbourhood. But occurring amongst those lands which are given to the abbey of Burton, a religious house which never appears to have had any connexion with Hallamshire, and in the midst of a long list of places which are neither in the county of York, nor in the parts of Derbyshire adjacent to Sheffield,—since there are other places of the name, there seems to be no good reason for giving the preference to the Yorkshire Hallam. A very learned and skilful topographer has suggested that the Halen, Ramesleage, and Sciplea, which occur together in this Saxon charter, are Hales-Owen, Romsley, and Shipley, neighbouring places in the counties of Salop and Worcester.
The earliest record in which we find any notice of the four manors which contributed to the formation of the parish of Sheffield is the Domesday Survey, made by order of William the Conqueror in the fourteenth year of his reign. The information which is there given respecting them, though short, will be found minute and curious, and to supply ground on which we may proceed to further inquiries into the state of this neighbourhood in times long before the arrival of the Normans.
[the following is an attempt to reproduce the authors transcription of the Domesday entries in type. Due to the lack of special characters it should not be taken as an accurate transcription]
TERRA ROGERII DE BVSLI
In GRIMESHOV hb Vlfac .III. car tre j dim ad gld. ubi .II. car poss. ee. Nc Rog ht ibi .I. car. Silua past .III. qrent tg. jII. lat. T.R.E. ual.XL.sol' m˚.XX.sol'.
In HALLVN cu XVI. bereuuitis sunt .XXIX. carucate træ ad gld. Ibi hb Wallef com aula. Ibi poss ee .XX. caruce. Hanc tra ht Rog de Iudita comitissa. Ipse ibi .II. car. j XXX.III. uill hntes XII. car j dim. Ibi .VIII. ac pti. Silua past IIII. lev lg. jIIII. lat. Tot M X. lev lg. j VIII. lat T.R.E. ual' VIII. marc argenti. m˚.XL. sol'.
In ATECLIVE J ESCAFELD hb Suuen .V. car tre ad gld. ubi poss. ee .III. car. H tra dr fuisse inland in HALLVN.
In what appears to be a recapitulation of the Yorkshire survey, we have this further notice of them:
In Hallun .XXIX. car. In Atecliue .III. c. In Scafeld .III. car.
The sense of the whole may be expressed in more modern language thus:
In Grimeshov, Grimshaw, Grimesthorpe, the modern Brightside-Byerlow, one manor, Ulfac had three carucates and a half of land that were rated to the taxes, about three hundred and fifty acres, and there might be about two ploughs. Now Roger de Busli has there one carucate; and three villani, villains, a superior order of tenantry, and as many bordarii, borderers, cottagers, an inferior class, have one carucate. There is a pasturable wood three quaranteens in length, and two broad. In the time of Edward the Confessor it was valued at forty shillings, now at twenty.
In Hallun, Hallam, one manor with its sixteen hamlets, are twenty-nine carucates, about three thousand acres, that were rated to the taxes. There Earl Waltheof had an aula, hall, court. There may have been about twenty ploughs. This land Roger de Busli holds of the Countess Judith. He has himself there two carucates; and thirty-three villani hold twelve carucates and a half. There are eight acres of meadow, and a pasturable wood, four leuæ in length and four in breadth. The whole manor is ten leuæ in length and eight broad. In the time of Edward the Confessor is was valued at eight marks of silver; now forty shillings.
In Ateclive and Escafeld, Attercliffe and Sheffield, two manors, Sweyn had five carucates of land, five hundred acres, that were rated to the taxes. There may have been about three ploughs. This land is said to have been inland. demesne land of the manor of Hallam.
So far the Survey. In the recapitulation these two smaller manors are represented as of equal extent, each comprising three rated carucates. Hence it appears that this part of the survey was not made with the most scrupulous accuracy. The orthography of the latter name also varies, and approaches nearer to the present mode of writing it, Scafeld. We have also an important fact which is not expressly noticed in the survey, though perhaps it might have been inferred from it, namely, that Attercliffe and Sheffield, as well as Hallam, were held by de Busli of the Countess Judith.
Whatever this district may have suffered from civil contest or foreign invasion, we have here the description of a rich, flourishing, and populous country: less prosperous than it had been in the peaceable times of the Confessor, but still more thickly studded with villages, and with more land inclosed and in tillage than were the manors in general by which it was surrounded. To assist the reader in forming a just idea of the state of the parish of Sheffield in times before and at the Conquest, we shall now proceed to analyse the information contained in this noble record.
First in every point of view stands the curious fact, that within the manor of Hallam arose the aula of a Saxon earl.
Few of these aulæ are mentioned in the Domesday-book; and where they do appear they are commonly found in the manors possessed by the prime Saxon nobility. Only one other is found in the wapentake of Strafford. It was at Laughton en le Morthen, where its foundations may still be traced, and its Saxon proprietor was Edwin earl of Mercia. They were the courts and the places of residence of the persons to whom they belonged, and doubtless as much superior to any ordinary manor-house is the mansion of a modern nobleman to the edifices which now bear that name. They were to the prime nobility what the aula regia of writers of a somewhat later period was to the king.
To form a just conception of the ante-Norman topography of the parish of Sheffield we must first fix our attention on this edifice; since wherever it stood, there was doubtless the central point of cultivation and refinement.
In our pursuit of this inquiry we shall be engaged at the same time in the search after the long-lost vill which gave its name to the manor of Hallam, and which has come down to us in the familiar term Hallamshire. For I hold it certain that the manor of Hallam must have had a vill which bore the same name, and that where the vill of Hallam stood, there was the aula of its Saxon lord. Indeed it seems not improbable that the very name of Hallam is derived from this aula, which is only the Latin representative of the old Saxon word hall.
But in what precise point of the manor of Hallam stood a hall not unbefitting the dignity of Waltheof earl of Northumberland, Huntingdon, and Northampton, the representative of a line of Saxon and Saxon-Danish thanes, and the near relative of the Conqueror, is a question of which it is more easy to discern the importance to the right understanding the Saxon topography of this district, than to return to it an answer which shall be proof against all objections.
As far as hath yet been discovered, there is only one place throughout the whole of what at any period pertained to the manor of Hallam, where is to be found any stone foundation work that can be supposed to have ever supported such an edifice as the aula of Earl Waltheof. This is on the Castle-hill at the junction of the Sheaf with the Don in the town of Sheffield. On this 'guarded mount' rose the hall of the Norman lords of Hallamshire. They had their residence here at least as early as the time of Henry II., and the first of the two castellated mansions which occupied in succession this well chosen spot, seems to commend itself with strong circumstances of probability as having been the aula of the Saxon lords of Hallam. Not the weakest of its pretensions lies in the fact which the Domesday survey further discloses; that in the times when the manors of Sheffield and Attercliffe made part of Hallam, they were accounted inland, that is demesne land, or land in the lord's own possession. Such parts of the estate we might naturally expect to find in the immediate vicinity of the mansion.
To regard the first Norman castle of Sheffield as having been the Saxon aula of the manor of Hallam is an hypothesis not liable to the objection which presses strongly against any other, that we want such evident tokens of its existence as we find at Laughton of the similar edifice of Earl Edwin. This hypothesis also accounts most satisfactorily for the superiority which we shall find the vill of Sheffield enjoying through the whole of Hallamshire in the first century after the Conquest. But against this supposition the words of Domesday are express. We might indeed, by a sacrifice of the attention and accuracy of the surveyors, reconcile the words of Domesday to this hypothesis. But, as the record at present stands, we are compelled to look in that part of the district which formed the manor of Hallam after the two smaller manors of Attercliffe and Sheffield had been severed from it, for the aula of Earl Waltheof.
Tradition guides us, and where we have no better guide we may be allowed to follow her, if we proceed with cautious steps, to the banks of the Riveling, the stream which once divided the manor of Hallam into two nearly equal portions. In a tone unusually loud she has long called our attention to the sloping banks of that rivulet, however now deserted, and according to our ideas less adapted for human habitation than many other places in the neighbourhood, as having once been the seat of a numerous and busy people inhabiting the vill which gave its name to the manor. in a tone equally loud she speaks of the utter ruin of the place as an act of signal vengeance by the incensed Norman conqueror, who is represented as having left not one stone upon another, but in the sublime language of holy writ to have swept it from the earth with the besom of destruction.
What passes current in the world as a tradition is often nothing more that an hypothesis: and it is difficult to distinguish between genuine tradition delivered down through a long series of generations, and a supposition or conjecture founded on presumptions and probabilities first propounded to the world and introduced to the general currency at a period very little remote. So that the credit which is due to a rumour purporting to be a tradition will be greater when the apparent probabilities are the weakest. And certainly there is nothing in the site which is pointed out in the rumour of the neighbourhood as that of the vill, or, as that rumour styles it, the city of Hallam, which may be supposed to have led any recent inhabitant of those parts to have proposed a conjecture which in process of time has assumed the form and character of a genuine tradition. Its only pretensions lie in circumstances that were not likely present themselves in this connexion to a common observer, and in a discovery which was made in this place within the last fifty or sixty years.
The name Haugh-park, which is on the Riveling, is not only evidently Saxon, but it betokens proximity to some considerable mansion, while it is certain that none such has existed near it since the time of the Conqueror. The place to which this tradition points is very central to the whole manor of Hallam, as that manor was in its earliest days before it was dismembered of Attercliffe and Sheffield. We also find the name of Hallam still adhering to the country on the south side of the Riveling and down to its very banks, while it has disappeared from every other part of the extensive district which once bore the name, except as it is retained in the name of Hallamshire.
These are, it is allowed, but weak presumptions, and they would avail little to fix the aula and vill of Hallam to the site proposed, had we not another reason for looking to that point as one at least of the old centres of population and civilization in this neighbourhood.
In the month of April 1761, a countryman, one Edward Nichols, ploughing a piece of common land called the Lawns, on the Stannington side of the Riveling, discovered two thin plates of copper about six inches by five, both bearing inscriptions of which the greatest portion was perfectly legible. The inscription was in substance the same on both tablets; but one was in a more rude and barbarous character than the other, and that was broken into small fragments. On the back of the broken tablet were about a dozen names in two rows, but so defaced that only three could be made out—
These were thought to be the names of the soldiers of whose manumission and enrolment among the citizens of Rome these tablets were the record.
The inscription, as far as it could be recovered on the more perfect plate.
IMP CAESAR DIVI TRA..NI PARTHICI F DIVI NER
VAE...........................HADRIANVS AVG PONTIF
MAXIM TRIBVNVS.........VII COS III PRO COS
QVI TIBE O....................T VERINALI SVI ET
.................................I HISPA II VRETIQV RV
..............................HIS ET I FRISIA VETI
M SALIN ET I SVNVC ET I VANGM ET I BAE I ASIOR
ET I DELM ET I AQVIT ET I MENAR ET I VIP TRAIANA
VG CR ET II IDAN S DRI RETI SAT QV ET I TVN
GR ET II LING ET II ASTVR ET II DONGON ET II NERV
ET III BRAC AVGVSTANOR ET III NE MET VI NERV
QVAE SVNT IN BRITANN SVB PRETORIO NEPOTE
QVIN ET VICENTI VRIBVS T RITIS DIMISSIS
HON MISSIONE QVOR NOMINI SVBSCRIPTA SVN
IPSIS LIBERIS POSTERIS Q EORVM CIVITATEM
DEDT ET CONVBIVM CVM VXORIBVS QVAS TVNC
HABVISSENT CVM EST CIVITAS DATAVI SI
QVIS EA RESSENT CVM EIS QVAS POSTEA DVXIS
SENT DVMTAXXAT SINGVLI SINGVLAS
C IVLIO GALLO C VALERIO SEVERO COS
COH Ī SVANTOR...................CVI PRAEST
ALBANI NV CU
SCRIPTVM ET RECOGNITVM EX TABVLA
EA QVAE FIXA EST ROMAE IN MVRO PA
TEMPLVM DIVI RO MINIS
Several of these manumission plates have been found in other parts of Europe, but these are supposed to have been the first which presented themselves from beneath British soil. How the discovery affected the antiquaries of the time; and to whom we are indebted for having introduced them to public notice, may be seen in the note below. Several inscriptions of nearly the same purport are engraved in Gruter, and by a comparison with these some of the lacunæ in the Hallamshire plate may be supplied. There was evidently a technical form observed. First appear the emperor's titles: then the names of the soldiers and their commanders, with the services they had performed; the privileges granted to them; the date of the day, month, and consulship; the name of the person soliciting the favour, and the authentication of the copy. The reader may find an elaborate dissertation upon these plates, principally collected from the Marquis Maffei's observations in his 'Galliæ Antiquitates selectæ,' in Gough's edition of the Britannia. After the unsuccessful attempts of some of our best antiquaries to clear up all the difficulties of this inscription, I am not ashamed of publishing not a version, but an abstract of what appears to be its purport.—The Emperor Hadrian in the consulship of C. Julius Gallus and C. Valerius Severus (two consuls it has been observed unknown to the Fasti consulares), grants to certain strangers who had served in the Roman armies, and been honourably dismissed the service, the privileges of Roman citizenship; which he extends also to the wives of those already married, and to the first wife who might be taken by the unmarried, to their children and posterity, with all the benefits of the jus connubium.
These tablets then were the charter of a number of discharged Roman legionaries. It was granted to them at the conclusion of their term of military service, ant when they were about to exchange a wandering for a settled, a military for an agricultural life. It was also evidently granted to them in pursuance of the policy introduced by Agricola, and adopted by his successors, of drawing away the native Britons to serve in distant parts of the world, and encouraging strangers brought hither in the Roman armies to settle themselves in marriage with the daughters of Britain. These very tablets were that public authenticated act and record to which these veterans, their wives, their children, and their remote posterity must have had to appeal in all questions affecting their rights as citizens of Rome, a character to which material privileges were annexed. A curious question therefore presents itself, namely, how it has happened that a document so intimately connected with the dearest civil rights of a considerable body of men, should have been deposited in the remote solitude in which it has lately been found. Has it been placed there by some officious possessor with a view to puzzle and mislead some future antiquary?—Has it been dropped by accident by some casual passenger?—Or shall we suppose that a document so important to them, so material to the protection of their civil rights, went with those to whom the privileges were granted where they went, rested where they rested, was affixed to the wall of some building, as indeed the plates have evident marks that they once were; and that therefore on the sloping side of the hill declining to the Riveling, a situation often chosen by Romans for their towns, where they were found, there a colony of Roman emeriti settled themselves in the time of Hadrian?
This may seem a bold conclusion from the fact of a solitary remain of this people, though of so prominent a character, having been discovered in this place. But I venture to predict that it will not always be a solitary remain of that enlightened and all-conquering people; and I would suggest to those who have it in their power to pursue the inquiry, whether they might not be well repaid for some extended researches beneath the soil where this noble document was discovered: for it is not to be supposed that it can have been conveyed by chance into that wild and desolate solitude.
That the Romans in the time of Hadrian had some transactions within what afterwards formed the manor of Hallam is rendered probable by the discovery of two coins, one of the Emperor Trajan, which was found near the village of Bradfield, the other of Hadrian himself found near Broomhead, about the time when the Riveling plate was awakened from its long repose. The legend on the reverse of Hadrian's coin deserves our notice, FIDES PVBLICA; as if intended to impress upon the minds of the chartered legionaries that they might rely upon the plighted faith of Rome.
If the above conclusion be admitted, how much light is reflected from these tablets upon the first planting of Hallamshire.—The Emperor Hadrian, in the second century of the Christian æra having in person peaceably settled this remote dependence on the Roman power, discharges his veteran legionaries, men collected from all parts of the world where the arms of Rome had extended themselves. To some he grants the much coveted privilege of Roman citizenship, and as an encouragement to them t ally themselves in marriage with the daughters of the country they had conquered, he extends the same privileges to their wives and offspring. A party of those who are thus endowed settle themselves in a small colony on the banks of the Riveling, allured perhaps by the representations of some petty Cartismandua attached to her native soil and woodland stream, and who made a settlement in that place the price of her charms to the Roman veteran. We may regard them as having been the first to introduce among the native Britons of this neighbourhood some of the arts and social life which they had learned in their intercourse with the Romans. Then first perhaps our mines of iron were explored, and attention began to be paid to the other mineral riches of this district. Where they fixed their abode would be the metropolis of the neighbourhood, which in later times would become the vill giving name to the great manor of Hallam, and there we might expect to see arise the aula of its Saxon lord.
The two great objections to this opinion are, that we have no notice of any Roman station in this position; and that as far as appears there are no vestigia at the point in question of human habitation, and especially of a building so prominent as must have been the aula of the Saxon thane. But every year brings to light stations of that people, who spread themselves over the whole country before unnoticed and unknown. While I write this, a gentleman is pursuing most successfully investigations of a Roman station on the Foss-road a few miles from Bath, which has been noticed by neither ancient nor modern topographers. And on the other hand, how many names of Romand stations in Britain are preserved by Ptolemy and the Ravenna geographer, which the most acute investigators of the Roman antiquities of Britain have failed to appropriate!—With respect to the second point, the objection presses with equal force against every other part of the Domesday manor of Hallam. Where I would ask must we look for the foundations of any trace of the Saxon aula? And yet the information is direct and conclusive that some where within the manor of Hallam, Earl Waltheof had his aula.
The tradition of the neighbourhood professes to account for their disappearance. It tells us that as the resistance of the people of Hallam to the Norman conqueror was most pertinacious, so his vengeance was most signal. But supposing that the place was only partially destroyed, in one of his vengeful expeditions against the unsubdued spirits of the people north of Trent; since Sheffield became immediately after the Conquest the seat of the Norman lord of this district, there was little temptation to rebuild its broken walls, and seven centuries of time may have completed toe obliteration which the incensed conqueror had begun.
Local traditions must always be received with great caution when they remove a difficulty. But the tradition that the vill of Hallam was destroyed in an act of fury in the incensed conqueror is not by any means destitute of the support of written evidence. The historians in the reign of William have in few instances descended to notice the particular acts of atrocious abuse of power of which he was guilty, but have wrapped up his conduct during his northern expeditions in the general expressions, while they seem to have wanted words to express adequately the desolation and misery he occasioned. If we would ascertain the misery he brought upon the northern parts of our island a little more in detail, we must look in the pages of Domesday:—we may there track the destroyer in his progress. As to this particular neighbourhood, he seems to have entered the county of York at Wales, and he laid that little obscure manor entirely to waste. Advancing northward, the line of his march seems to have been through Ulley, Brampton, Wickersley, Brinsford, Swinton, and Wentworth. All the neighbouring manors show in the depreciation of their value that they suffered more or less. But on these places the weight of the storm seems to have rested; for though rich and flourishing in the days of the Confessor, they were returned by the Domesday surveyors as being utterly wasted and therefore of no annual value. It was but the skirts of the storm which at this time, eleven years before the composition of Domesday-book, rested upon Hallam, but that manor which in the time of the Confessor had been valued at eight marks of silver, was then worth only forty shillings.
The extent of the wanton ravages committed by the North-man in the neighbourhood of Hallam may be further collected from an expression in a charter of the year 1161. This charter defines the rights of the lords of Sheffield and the monks of Saint Wandrille in the manor of Ecclesfield; and reference is made in it to the state of the hedges as they were anciently before they were burnt, 'sicut sepes antiquitùs ante combustionem fuerunt.'
Now though we have no express record of the destruction of the vill of Hallam or its aula; these evidences, together with the concurring tradition, with the subsequent rise of Sheffield, their former existence and their now total disappearance, seem altogether to render the fact of their destruction by the Norman invader a point of probability not far removed from certainty.
II. The second point to which our attention is drawn, by the brief but comprehensive notices of Domesday, is, that before the Conquest there were several villages dispersed through the manor of Hallam. The berewitæ of that record were knots of houses dependent on the chief vill of the manor, and of these the manor of Hallam contained sixteen. It is much to be regretted that the compilers of the Domesday survey have in this instance made an exception to their usual practice, and omitted to give the names of the berewitæ by which the vill of Hallam was surrounded. Sheffield and Attercliffe, originally among the berewitæ of Hallam, had been severed from it before the time of the survey; and Haldworth, Ughill, Onesacre, and some other places in the chapelry of Bradfield, are not counted among the berewitæ of the manor of Hallam, being as it seems separated, like Sheffield and Attercliffe, from that manor, of which from their situation within it we must suppose that they once made a part. If we add these together we shall find a total of distinct villages and hamlets on the right bank of the Don, little if at all exceeded by their number at any later period, or as they present appear. The topographer in every part of the kingdom finds that the germ of almost all our towns and villages were deposited in the times preceding the Conquest.
III. In these hamlets resided that considerable agricultural population which Domesday informs us was collected on our four manors. In the manor of Hallam three thousand acres had been redeemed and brought into cultivation: in Attercliffe three hundred, in Sheffield three hundred, and in Grimesthorpe, three hundred and fifty; making a total of little less that four thousand arable acres. In the rude state in which the art of agriculture was at the period before us, these would probably furnish employment to not fewer than three hundred persons, of whom thirty-six are particularly noticed as being of that class of tenantry called villani, a respectable class, the predecessors of our modern copy-holders and free-holders. These with their families might make up an agricultural population of about one thousand four hundred persons.
To these must be added others who were engaged in the useful and necessary arts of life.
But when we consider the mineral riches of the district, we can hardly hesitate to believe that to these another numerous class is to be added. Bede in the eighth century mentions iron among the mineral productions of this island: and the remarkable fact, that in the midst of a mass of scoria, the refuse of some ancient bloomery near Bradford, was found a deposit of Roman coins, seems to leave it indisputable that the iron-mines of Yorkshire were explored by its Roman inhabitants. No where did ore present itself more obviously by tinting with its beautiful ochre the beds of streamlets in its vicinity, no where did it lie nearer to the surface, no where could there be greater facilities for subjecting the ore to the processes necessary to extract from it its metal, than in the forests through which the Don poured its waters. Many beds of scoria, of the kind just mentioned, are found in the various parts of the parish of Sheffield, where there is now no tradition nor any record of any works of iron ever having existed. They are found even in the park which for many centuries past has been peculiarly appropriated to the pleasure of the lord. Over most of them the soil has so accumulated as to form a very thick crust, in which trees of ancient growth are at this moment flourishing. The probabilities are therefore strong, that before the Norman invasion, and that even while the Romans had possession of the island, the iron-mines of Sheffield afforded employment to a considerable number of persons; some to draw the ore from its bed, others to extract from it the meta, and a third class employed in fabricating weapons, implements of husbandry, or domestic utensils.
The silence of Domesday affords no presumption against the validity of this conclusion. Miners or artificers of any class rarely came under the notice of the compilers of that survey. In the lead districts of Derbyshire we have no notice of the persons employed in mining or in smelting the ore, although mention is made of the quantity of lead which the owners of soma particular manors were to render to the king. Domesday must therefore be considered as neutral in this question: and in almost the very next in chronological order of the records from which we obtain our knowledge of the early state of this neighbourhood, about the year 1160, we have notice of pretty extensive iron-works established at Kimberworth by the monks of Kirkstead.
To the other inhabitants of the territory now forming the parish of Sheffield we may therefore with some confidence add a mixed multitude, a rude and intractable people, whose occupations were in working the iron-mines, or preparing for useful purposes the metal which was extracted from them.
To attempt to estimate their numbers would be merely wild conjecture; and it must be remembered, that of the agricultural population above mentioned, a considerable proportion must be presumed to have inhabited those berewitæ of the manor of Hallam which stood north of the Riveling, and therefore never came within the limits of the parish of Sheffield.
IV. At the time of the Domesday survey a very extensive tract of the manor of Hallam was covered with wood; but the wood was pasturable, that is, sufficiently free from underwood to be fit for pasturage of cattle. Deer also, we shall soon find, ran in the woods of Hallamshire within the first century after the Conquest. The pasturable wood of Domesday probably occupied that part of the parish now called Fullwood, spreading itself on the one hand towards Ecclesall and on the other to the vale of the Riveling.
The exact meaning of the word pratum, as used by the Doemsday surveyors, is not very clear. Such small patches as eight acres which are stated to have been in Hallam, are noticed in most of the northern manors.
V. Four centuries had elapsed since Paulinus the apostle of Northumbria had built a Christian church in the town of Doncaster Still neither ecclesia nor presbyter are noticed at Hallam, or in the other manors which contributed to form the parish of Sheffield. This is the more remarkable, since so many less considerable manors in the neighbourhood were furnished with churches, as Hope, Tankersley, Treeton, Aston, and Rotherham.
VI. Lastly, the notices which the Domesday survey contains of this district bring us acquainted with some of its ante-Norman proprietors, or chief lords. Immediately before the change of property occasioned by the successful invasion of the Normans, the land which now forms the parish of Sheffield acknowledged three Saxon lords. Ulfac, Sweyn, and earl Waltheof.
Ulfac was the lord of Grimesthorpe. He, or at least a person of the same name, had also a share of the manors of Newhall, Hooton, Denaby, mexborough, Adwick-upon-Dearne, and Ecclesfield, so that he was a great landed proprietor in the wapentake of Strafford. He my have had a mansion at Grimesthorpe, that being the only manor in this wapentake of which the sole proprietorship was in him. We hear nothing of him after the Conquestl so that it is probable he followed the fortunes of his neighbour Harold, to whom belonged Conisborough, and was stripped of all his possessions by the Conqueror.
Sweyn met another fate. Beside Sheffield and Attercliffe this person had very large estates in the wapentakes of Strafford and Staincross. Those in the former were given to Roger de Busli and Aubrey de Coci, those in the latter to Ilbert de Laci: but it appears that this person was living at the time of the compilation of Domesday-book, and that he then held Kexborough and Dodworth, both near Barnsley, of De Laci. It seems also that he was allowed to retain some part of his possessions in the wapentake of Strafford; for we find Adam Fitz-Sweyn, his son, a great baron in Yorkshire, in the time of Henry I. giving to the priory of Monk-Bretton, of which he was founder, the church of Cadeby, one of the places in the wapentake of Strafford of which Sweyn was returned Saxon owner. The Fitz-Sweyns were a great baronial house, one of the few that had decidedly a Saxon or Saxo-Danish origin: but after a few generations they ended in female heiresses; nor does it appear that they recovered any part of the interest which their progenitor had enjoyed at Sheffield.
Earl Waltheof was a man of pre-eminent note in his times. He was the son of Siward the Dane, the same Siward who led the armies of the Confessor against Macbeth, the usurper of the throne of Scotland. His mother was the daughter and heir of Aldred the Saxon earl of Northumberland, chief of a family in whom that honour and office, for in those times it was both, was in a manner hereditary. It was doubtless in consequence of this descent that he enjoyed the aula and the lands of Hallam. Through his mother, Waltheof inherited a feud with the family of Carl the son of Thurebrand. Uetred the father of his grandfather Aldred was assassinated by Thurebrand as he sought the court of Canute. Thurebrand fell by the hand of Aldred; and justice being satisfied, the families made an alliance. Carl the son of Thurebrand received Aldred into his house with every show of hospitality, but alluring him into a secret place he there treacherously slew him. Many years after, the children of Carl fell by the hands of Waltheof, as they were carousing at Settrington on the wolds of Yorkshire. Such was the man who, when he could no longer maintain the liberties of his country against the strangers from Normandy, consented to become the subject and relative of the Conqueror, taking to wife the king's niece, and receiving with her the three earldoms of Northumberland, Huntingdon, and Northampton, beside being allowed to retain his former possessions. But it is not to be supposed that such a man as this would be easy in submission to a foreign yoke, or could bear the insolence of the Normans, and the daily oppression of his friends. He conspired with Ralph de Waer against the life of the king, and suffered death at Winchester anno 1075, His decapitated trunk was treated with every possible indignity: but having lain for some time in the cross way where it was buried, it was removed to Croyland Abbey in Lincolnshire, there honourably sepulchred, and, if we may believe the monkish historians, miracles were wrought at his tomb.
Such was the unhappy fate of the last Saxon lord of the manor of Hallam; and perhaps we may discern in it something to add strength to the opinion that the aula and vill of Hallam fell beneath the vengeance of an incensed conqueror. His widow, being the king's near kinswoman and not at all participant in his treason, was allowed to retain her husband's lands; and hence it is that the name of the countess Judith so often appears in the pages of Domesday: and hence it is that we find it in the account there given of the manor of Hallam.
This lady was the daughter of Lambert earl of Lens in Artois, by Maud his wife, countess of Albemarle, who was half-sister to the Conqueror, being daughter of his mother Arlotta by her husband Helewyne de Comitis Villâ. Historians have made free with her memory. She is left by them under strong circumstances of suspicion that she was treacherous to her lord. And Ingulphus, the monk of Croyland, her contemporary, scruples not to describe her by the execrable appellation, impiissima Jezebel. This is the more extraordinary, as she was a benefactor to the religious house of Saint Wandrille, or Fontnenlle, in Normandy, to which he formerly had belonged. I conjecture in the absence of positive evidence, that it was to her that the same monastery owed the interest it acquired in the tythes of Sheffield and Ecclesfield. The countess Judith fell into disgrace with the king when she refused to accept in second nuptials a Norman knight named Simon Saint Liz 'because he was lame of a leg.' The king we are told was so incensed at her refusal that he seized upon many of her lands, and she herself was glad to find protection from his fury in the fens of Ely. Saint Liz was advised to take her eldest daughter to wife; and the king made her the principal heir to the possessions of her family, giving with her, beside many lands, the earldom of Northamton, one of those which had been enjoyed by her father Waltheof. This he possessed during life: but on his decease it passed to David, son of Malcolm III. king of Scotland, who married his widow in the days of Henry I. This David became king of Scotland, and died in 1153.
The only lands in the wapentake of Strafford of which the countess Judith is returned owner in the Domesday survey are the manors of Hallam, Attercliffe, and Sheffield. Even these manors are enumerated under the general head of Terra Rogerii de Busli, and he is said to hold them of the countess Judith. What the precise relation which subsisted between the countess and De Busli, or what and whether any interest her family continued to enjoy in Hallamshire after the date of the Domesday survey, it seems impossible now to recover. But the recollection that the Norman proprietors of this district had held their lands of a superior the representative of its Saxon lords, was not extinct so late as the time of Edward III.: for by inquisition taken after the death of Thomas lord Furnival, it was found that his ancestors had held the castle and manor of Sheffield of a certain king of Scotland, by the service of rendering two white greyhounds yearly, perhaps the identical service by which De Busli had held them of the countess Judith.
On the whole then it may appear, from the scanty evidence which time has preserved for us relating to the period before the arrival in England of the Normans, if not a point of historic certainty yet one of historic probability, that early in the second century of the Christian æra a few discharged Roman legionaries, part of the army of Hadrian, settled themselves a small community on the banks of the Riveling: that what was originally only a few cottages became at length a place of no inconsiderable extent, and the little metropolis of a very spacious manor: that, population continuing to increase, some of its inhabitants removed themselves to a small distance, clearing other portions of the soil, and laying the foundation of those numerous villages which the Domesday survey recognises in the manor of Hallam: that in later times a Saxon chieftan established his aula near to the vill of Hallam; and that they both fell together under the vengeance of the Norman conqueror: that Sheffield was originally one of the berewitæ of the manor of Hallam; but that before the Conquest it had obtained a degree of independence, had a different proprietor, and was the little capital of a very small manor to which it gave its name. And it will afterwards appear that Hallam never recovered from the blow struck by the Conqueror; but that when the neighbourhood became new modelled under its Norman proprietors, Sheffield gave its name to an extensive parish, and a still more extensive manor: there was the castle of its lord, and there the centre of population.
Pedigree of the ancient Lords of HallamshireEdit
earl of Northumberland, anno 969
|Earl UCTRED||ELFGINA dau of Ethelred|
king of England
lord of Ruby
|HELEWYN DE COMITIS VILLA.||ARLOTTA||ROBERT II. duke of Normandy.|
|SIWARD, a Dane,|
earl of Northumberland,
son of Beorne, son of Ursus.
wife of Liulph, from whom the Lumleys.
earl of Lens in Artois.
|MAUD countess of Albemarle.||WILLIAM I.|
king of England and Duke of Normandy.
|MAUD daughter of Baldwin earl of Flanders.|
slaim in Scotland, the young Siward of Shakespeare.
|WALTHEOF, earl of Northumberland, Huntingdon, and Northampton, lord of Hallamshire, temp. Conq.|
Ob. anno 1075.
|The Countess JUDITH, lady of HALLAMSHIRE|
king of Scotland
|MARGARET sister to Edgar Atheling, grand-daughter to Edmund Ironside.|
|ALICE or JUDITH|
wife of Ralph de Todenei.
wife of Robt. fritz Richard, dapifer.
or St. Liz, earl of Northampton, first husband.
|MAUD, eldest dau and principal heir.||DAVID|
king of Scotland and in right of his wife earl of Huntingdon, &c. Ob. 1153
king of England
|SIMON ST. LIZ, earl of Northampton.||ISABEL|
earl of Leicester
abbot of Melrose.
|MAUD wife of Robert fritz Richard, fitz Gilbert de Tonbridge.||HENRY, prince of Scotland and earl of Huntingdon in England, by treaty. Died in his father's life-time.||ADA, dau of William earl of Warren.||CLARICIA.||HODIERNA.||MAUD the empress, mother to HENRY II.|
|SIMON ST. LIZ, earl of Northampton. Ob. s. p. 1184.|
- Polychronicon. De regnis, regnorumque limitibus.
- History of Manchester, vol. i. p. 66.
- Lysons's Magna Britannia,—Derbyshire, p. ccxi.
- Published in the Monasticon, vol. i. p. 266–269.
- See a letter to the re-editor of the Monasticon Anglicanum, Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxvi. part I. p.134. In addition to what is there advanced to prove that the Walesho of Wulfric's charter was not, as Dugdale conjectured, Walsal in Staffordshire, but rather Wales in Yorkshire, may be mentioned that Morcar is named as the former Saxon lord of Wales in the Domesday-book. I suspect the Morligtune of the charter to be a place in the wapentake of Strafford, surveyed in Domesday under the name of Merelton. The manor had four berewitæ at the time of the Norman survey, but I am unable to fix its precise situation.
- This numeral occurs in Wilson's transcript of Domesday-book for Yorkshire, but is not found in the printed copies.
- Domesday-book, f. 320 a.
- Id. f. 379 b.
- It may be expected that I should describe the grounds on which I have assumed that the Grimeshov of Domesday-book is the modern Grimesthorpe, and the district in which that village stands, now called Brightside-Byerlow. I consider the point established by the combined effect of these considerations. 1. If not here, we have no account at all of this district, which we can hardly suppose to have been lying waste, when all the country around was cultivated and inhabited. 2. Grimeshov is in the wapentake of Strafford, and there is no place within that wapentake the name of which has a nearer affinity to Grimeshov then Grimesthorpe, the one meaning only the wood and the other the village of Grim or Grime some very early possessor. 3. It occurs in that part of the survey where we might expect to find Grimesthorpe, namely, immediately after the neighbouring manors of Brinsford, Tinsley, Orgrave, and Greasborough: and although those which immediately succeed, Newhall, Hooton and Denaby, are somewhat remote, there is an obvious reason for introducing them in that particular part of the survey, in their having had Ulfac the Saxon owner of Grimeshov for one of their proprietors of Ecclesfield which adjoins to Grimesthorpe. And lastly, the redeemed land bears about the same proportion to the whole here as in Attercliffe and Sheffield, while in the woood of three quaranteens by two we may recognise the modern Wincobank.
- This measure is uncertain; as is also the leua mentioned in the next article. The former is usually translated furlong, and the latter male; but Blomefield says the latter was two miles.
- Mr. Wilson had the honour of bringing this singularly curious remain under the notice of the public. The rev. John Watson, curate of Ripponden, afterwards rector of Stockport, in a letter to Mr. Wilson, dated R, Oct. 31, 1761, says, 'I have sent the inscription which you was so obliging to communicate to me, to Lord Willoughby to lay before the Society, but expect no account from him till I have the pleasure of seeing him the next summer.' In the winter of that year Lord Willoughby laid a copy of it, together with Mr. Watson's letter, before the Society of Antiquaries, of which society he was president. But because the copy was imperfect, Mr. Watson had forborne to offer any explanation of it. The original was then in the possession of Mr. Broomhead, of Stannington, from whom it was thought the society might procure it through their interest with the duke of Norfolk. It appears from a second letter of Mr. Watson's that the plate fell into the possession of Dr. Pegge of Whittington. in another letter to Mr. Wilson, dates Barnsley, May 13, 1762, Mr. Watson says, 'I have spent my time during the winter chiefly in transcribing MSS. for my intended History of Halifax parish, and for a History of Lancashire, which may possibly see the light in Providence grants me life and health. Your inscription I have not considered of late, as I think you told me by letter that a gentleman somewhere in your neighbourhood had made it out; I therefore waited for the pleasure of receiving his remarks, which if you please to send, you shall be troubled with my remarks thereon. I never could get an answer from Mr. Pegge, and I am glad to hear that Mr. Pegge will turn his thoughts to the subject of Druids; though Stukeley and Borlase have taken much pains with it, we want a further elucidation of it.' August 14, 1762, Mr. Watson was in Lancashire, and having just seen Lord Willoughby takes the earliest opportunity of acquainting Mr. Wilson with what he had learned from his lordship respecting the inscription. 'It seems my information was the first any member had received of it; but so great was the alarm which it gave, that it caused a very full meeting of the society, who all agreed that it was the most curious thing of the kind which had ever been discovered in England: and as I had given his lordship very full instructions how to come at it, no pains were spared, nor interest neglected to obtain it, which at last was effected, and it is now in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries. Mr. Pegge, it seems, made several apologies before he parted with it, and at last resigned it with reluctance. I had the thanks of the society ordered for my communication, which I wish could consistently with their rules have been directed to you, as the whole merit of its being known is certainly your own: but from my letter which was read to the society every member would know who was the real discoverer of it. What I am now mentioning is not a point of small consequence; as you perhaps may think yourself, when I have told you that in the president's own opinion it is the finest remain of English antiquity that ever was offered to the society since his lordship became a member of it. It never was known till now what provision was made for the soldiers' wives in Britain by the imperial rescripts, and this is a law of Hadrian's for that very purpose, and the first that ever was found. It is remarkable that one of the sentences on these tables is to be found in the Corpus Juris, or body of laws belonging to the Romans. I cannot at present send you a reading of this great curiosity, as the matter is yet sub judice. Dr. Taylor, one of the best antiquaries in England, has undertaken to write a dissertation upon it, when his manner of reading it will appear: but what is remarkable, I hear he cannot make out so much as you have done, which causes me to suspect that the plates received some damage since they were in your hands. They will be engraved after some time with an explanation, advice of which you may expect from me as soon as I know myself. You are requested to make further search after the Roman ways and camps in your neighbourhood, as the finding of these plates makes it very probable that three was something Roman at or near the place where they lay.' In another letter, dated 25 June, 1763, he informs Mr. Wilson that Dr. Taylor was not yet able to satisfy himself. In the next year he has received no further intelligence respecting the plate. He informs Mr. Wilson that he had had a long correspondence with Mr. Pegge on the nature of the Halifax gibbet-law; had sent Mr. Pegge drawings of druidical remains near Halifax, but found he had no intention of entering upon the subject. Writing from Ripponden, 5 January, 1776, to Mr. Wilson, ever inquisitive after the true reading and explanation of his plate, he has nothing further to communicate respecting it. Had been transcribing old deeds relating to Kirkleghes, one of which was a charter of Edward III. in the 47th of his reign, granting license to the prioress and convent to acquire lands to a certain value; on the back of which was written, 'Orate pro Elizabetha de Staynton quondam priorissa de Kirkelese, quia in tempore illius ista carta fuit adquisita.' His History of Halifax had been interrupted, owing to the duke of Bridgewater having employed him to draw up an historical account of certain manors belonging to him in Lancashire; and to his having been engaged by a gentleman of distinction in Cheshire [Sir George Warren] to settle a difficulty in his pedigree of the utmost consequence to him. 'This affair,' says Mr. Watson, 'is so difficult, and at the same time so important, that I lay out all my time and attention upon it.' In another letter dated Barnsley, 11 Oct. 1768, he informs Mr. Wilson that he proposed to spend the ensuing winter in forwarding his History of Halifax, and in writing an account of his own family which he had begun. He had also thoughts of drawing up a short review of all the printed books relating to English history and antiquities, with an account of their merits, and different editions: was engaged to put in order the writings at Kirklese belonging to Sir George Armitage. Sir George Warren had some intention of publishing the account he had drawn up of the house of Warren; and was informed that Etherington, a bookseller of York, had some thoughts of reprinting Thoresby's Topography of Leeds, except the Museum, with such improvements as can be made in it. The History of Manchester, by his friend Mr. Whitaker, he says, is in great forwardness. It will be a learned performance. Concludes with thanking Mr. Wilson for some dissertations on the Gentleman's Magazine. Writing from Stockport, 12 Aug. 1775, he informs Mr. Wilson that he was preparing for the press his History of the House of Warren, and on the 26th July following, that he was much employed upon that subject, but was paying attention also to his History of Cheshire.
I cannot find that Dr. Taylor made any progress in his comment on this inscription. An engraving of it is to be found in Gough's edition of the Britannia. A part of the plate with the inscription in the barbarous character was in the hands of Mr. Wilson. It was found near a large ground-fast stone.
- Vol. iii. p.28—31.
- Dods. MSS. in Bibl Bodl. vol. cxviii. f. 74.
- Eccl. Hist. lib. i. cap. 1.
- See Dr. Richardson's Letters to Hearne.—Leland, vol. ix. as quoted in Whitaker's History of Manchester, vol. i. p.300.
- Mon. Ang. vol. i. p.811.
- Beda, Eccl. Hist. lib. ii. cap. 14.
- Mon. Ebor. p.93.
- Dugdale's Baronage, vol. i. p. 55, &c., where much more may be read concerning Waltheof and his progenitors.
- Bridge's History of Northamptonshire, p. 410.
- Dods. MSS. E. 135 a. Harl. 801. Sheffield.