Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 9/Ana (October 24, 1863)

Once a Week, Series 1, Volume IX  (1863) 
Ana. Ancient inheritances; Scottish pluck
by Edward Walford


Ancient Inheritances.—The interesting and often-quoted statement made some time since by Lord Palmerston, respecting the uninterrupted descent for nearly eight centuries, from father to son, of a small estate in his own neighbourhood in the new forest, relates, as is well-known, to the family of Purkis, the lime-burner, who picked up the body of William Rufus, and carried it in his humble cart to Winchester to receive the last sad rites. But we can place upon record a case of still longer descent of a small property among persons in no way allied to rank and fortune, and who have never risen above the condition of yeomen; while, we believe, they have never fallen below it. At Ambrose’s Barn, on the borders of the parish of Thorpe, near Chertsey, still resides a farmer of the name of Wapshot, whose ancestors have lived, without a break, upon the same spot, ever since the reign of Alfred the Great, by whom the farm was granted to Reginald Wapshot. There are several families among our untitled gentry—the county aristocracy, who can trace their names and possessions in a direct male descent back to the Saxon times; but below that rank we are not aware of a more striking instance of permanence among change than the past history of the Wapshots.

Scottish Pluck.—The late Earl of Buchan, brother of Lord Chancellor Erskine, himself an accomplished scholar and man of letters, came into possession of his title whilst quite a young man. At that period it was the practice, as no doubt it had been from the time of the Union, for the ministry of the day, at each new election, to forward to every Scottish peer a list of the names of sixteen of his fellow peers who should be chosen to represent the nobles of Scotland in the House of Lords; and for nearly a century the descendants of some of the most illustrious members of the Scottish Peerage had tamely submitted. The Earl of Buchan regarded this submission as an insult to his order; and being a man of strong feelings and apt to use great plainness of speech, he took an early opportunity of declaring in public, that any Secretary of State who should insult him with such an application, should wash out the affront with his blood. Duels were at that date in the height of fashion; and doubtless this was one reason why the practice was at once discontinued, the ministers being obliged thenceforth to find out some other less offensive way of exercising their influence over the elections of the Scotch Representative Peers. Lord Buchan was an eccentric being, and after having asserted and secured this amount of freedom for his brethren, he took no further part in the matter, and to the end of his long life never again troubled himself to give his vote in the elections at Holyrood.